A2VT

A2VT 27 January 2016 on Rocket Shop

Words by TOM PROCTOR. Photo by JAMES LOCKRIDGE.

David Cooper, Said “Jilib” Bulle and George “MG Man” Mnyonge of A2VT joined host Brent Hallenbeck on ‘Rocket Shop‘, Big Heavy World’s local music radio hour on 105.9FM The Radiator. You can stay up to date with them at www.facebook.com/A2VTmusic

Listen to a replay here or via Rocket Shop Radio Hour on iTunes or Subscribe on Android

A2VT are quite a unique act, part hip-hop, part African pop and part dance troupe, they combine mixed influences to create a sound seldom heard in the Green Mountain State. Hailing from various areas of Africa they have embraced their shared cultures and accentuated their differences to bring Afro-beats to Burlington and beyond.

With a new album on the way and a bundle of tour dates across the border to promote they came in the studio to discuss the merits of multi-lingual songwriting, why kids make the best audiences and how the Governor has become a lifelong fan:

Tom Proctor: You’ve be working quite hard recently, what are you current movements?

George: We played at The Point on Monday and we went on WVMT to do the morning talk show earlier this week.

David: We just released a single and hopefully we’ll have an album out later in the year . We’ve got our Montreal debut a week on Sunday as well, which does clash with the Superbowl but luckily most of the African population don’t watch the game so we’re hoping for a good audience.

TP: Is this your first international gig?

Sayeed: This is our second. We are going back a second time. This show will be bigger than the one in Quebec, and we have another show at St Johnsbury Collage.

D: That’s a week this Monday for about 600 students at Fuller hall, two shows because it’s sort of sold out, for students only. They pack these kids in tight.

TP: Do you often play in front of schools?

S: We be everywhere. We’ve played with kids everywhere.

G: I love working with kids. They’ve got a lot of energy, they’re not looking for a lot when they see you and when they watch us they love it, they jump around they sing and dance. With adults they are always looking for a message, they want to hear what your saying first before they start dancing. Kids love our music, they understand what we’re saying.

S: We play everywhere, the kids love the songs. When we got our music video out we became really popular.

D: When we played at Blue Mountain School, a Junior High/High School, rural mostly white farmer kids. They were very polite but they weren’t dancing, so the band invited them to come down and learn some African dance steps. It was great, by the end everyone was dancing with them it was bouncing. When the gig started it was a little scary as they all just sat and stared.

G: We’ve also performed in a private party for the Governor. He’s a big fan, he’s been to three or four shows. I got a letter from him telling us to keep up the good work. He likes the entertainment that we do and we should keep it up.

TP: How is the development of the album going?

D: Well a lot of the songs have been performed for a while now, so it’s just a case of getting them recorded at this point.

G: We just got to get in the kitchen, cook it and put it on a plate ready to serve.

D: The studio is actually called Creamy Goodness (Laughs.)

TP: You’re all from different areas of Africa and so use a range of dialects in your songs, how does that affect the creative flow when forming a song? Does it happen naturally or is it intentionally placed?

G: Sometimes it happens in your head, like you’re trying to go back and forth but ‘cos we know what we want to do we organize and set each area to be in a certain language, this part Swahili this part English. We know our home language so well, it flows easier.

D: They sing English too, but of course it’s not their first language. When Kadoo was in the band we used to encourage him to rap in French, it just sounds good.

TP: Do you guys understand of the whole range of languages that you’re all singing?

S: Not really

G: He speaks Kirundi, I speak Swahili so we don’t know each other’s languages. But when we sing the song has got be the same message as the hook. If the hook is ‘Baby, baby’ then the verses have to be ‘baby, baby’.

TP: The hip hop scene in VT isn’t great. How have you found it difficult to get to the point you are now as there isn’t many resources for hip hop artists?

D: They walk a fine line between Hip-hop, afro-pop and world music, they’re not any one of those exactly. Some people perceive them as hip hop but there isn’t a huge amount of rap on the tracks, it’s more about the live shows and the dance aspect of it. We don’t know exactly what the genre is really.

G: You’ve got to try it out in so many ways. You don’t know your destination until you see your destination. Where ever you throw your hat is where your home is until you can throw your hat no more. You got to try many ways until you get the right one.

TP: You’ve evolved as a group quite drastically then since you first started. How did the group start out, what sound did you represent at first?

G: I started out just by listening to music, Indian Music, Somali music, but I’d never written any until I came to Vermont. It started out a twist of Indian, Somali, but also bits of Akon. We all come from different areas so we have different influences and they all mix.

D: They we’re singing along to Toto in the car the other day, they told me they had heard it in Africa.

G: Also Bob Marley and Shaggy but I didn’t hear many American artists before I came here. I didn’t listen to a lot of music because I was in a camp, there’s no radio, you have to walk five miles to get water. I didn’t have no time for radio stations.

TP: You come from drastically different background to what you see in Vermont, how does that affect the music you make, does it have a major influence?

G: When we were in the camp we were young, you always have the story so you have this memory of it when you grow up. It comes out when you write the songs, there are flashbacks.

D: A guy who owns an African hip-hop label mentioned to me that they should write about their experiences in Africa, so I put it to them and challenged the group to take a verse and write seriously about where they came from. Really deal with it, whatever feelings come up. It was really heavy, quite sad and really heavy. One came up with a hook and then each of them wrote a verse in their own language, one in French one is Somali and one in Swahili. All three verses dealt with very deep issues and was very heartfelt. They really took the challenge on.

Tom Proctor

New Crew: Tom Proctor

Words by Tom Proctor. Photo by James Lockridge.

“Hailing from the rainy hills of Manchester, England, and now living on the glittery shores of Lake Champlain, Tom recently burst onto the Burlington radio scene in effort to create a one man Anglo-invasion on the VT music landscape. Here to interview all the best and brightest that wander through the studio, you’ll find him having a chinwag every Wednesday night with any artist that graces the Big Heavy World studio for the Rocket Shop Radio Hour. Check out his interviews for candid looks into the minds of the creative geniuses that pop into the Radiator on a weekly basis.”

Luminous Crush

Luminous Crush 20 January 2016 on Rocket Shop

WORDS BY TOM PROCTOR. PHOTO by JAMES LOCKRIDGE.

Laura Molinelli and Ben Campbell of Luminous Crush joined host Brent Hallenbeck on ‘Rocket Shop‘, Big Heavy World’s local music radio hour on 105.9FM The Radiator. You can hear more from Luminous Crush at soundcloud.com/luminous-crush

Listen to a replay here or via Rocket Shop Radio Hour on iTunes or Subscribe on Android

Luminous Crush are nothing short of adorable, their songs, their personality and their overall vibe screams quirky-creative and they’ve brought this energy to every piece they’ve produced. Strumming out feel good dream pop, the duo mix talents and skills to create whimsical numbers that can vary from ukulele acoustic ditties to electronica rock, placing you in the clouds and dreaming of far away places.

Laura Molinelli and Ben Campbell joined us in the Big Heavy World studio to discuss their current direction, Ben’s tendency to demolish tracks and why this music just make them feel like kids with something special to show off:

Tom Proctor: You guys have a mix of sounds, from pop to rock to electronic, do you guys see yourself gravitating towards a certain style?

Ben Campbell: It’s a constant search to find our voice at this moment. We went through a period half a year ago where we got a drummer and keyboard player to flesh out a full rock band sound. It didn’t work in the end due to other commitments so we stripped it back down to us two.

Laura Molinelli: I think we needed to do that anyway, we needed to go back and find out what we wanted to aim towards. At the start we didn’t know what we wanted and we just thrashed around trying all sorts of stuff. I usually write for acoustic instruments, but we’ve been trying out new things. I’ve just started trying out the ukulele which has been really cool as i’ve never played uke before, it’s opened up a whole different world of sounds. With Ben’s electronic background and his ability to produce we took the simple two chord strumming of ukulele tracks and built them up. I love the mix of the acoustic and the electronic, thats where we want to go.

TP: You guys only formed last year, but your gigging a lot already and got a number of tour dates coming up. What have you done to get your sounds out there?

BC: Laura’s been diligent in reaching out and marketing. She’s our publicist and booker as well as our song writer.

LM: I’m really confident in our sound. It’s unique but very familiar, it doesn’t copy anything but you can recognize the style. I feel really good about it so that gives me a lot of confidence when contacting clubs and venues.

TP: You almost sound surprised at the connection you’ve made with this music.

LM: You do get surprised, sometimes I just think “wow, we sound good”. We really do like it and so we just want to share it, we feel like children showing people our favorite thing.

TP: How do you record your songs, do you have your own studio or do you have a space you like to frequent to record?

BC: Just DIY. I have a mic set up in my living room I use recording software and I have a cool input device that allows us to record eight tracks simultaneously. We’ve never pushed it to its limit though, it’s usually just one microphone and sometimes we’ll sing together to get the harmonies tight, but really I just build on what we have.

TP: Does it all happen at once, start with a blank page and end with a track?

LM: We usually bring a half baked idea or parts of a song and then we’ll collaborate and flesh it out. I’ll go away and Ben will work his magic, I can come back to it and it’ll be a totally different song but I always love it. I’ve been a fan of Ben’s music for a long time, before we started playing, I love his style and his sounds.

BC: Laura wrote one track called ‘The Old Song’ on the ukulele, a three or four chord number, She came to the studio and riffed along to a track I had playing and sang along. Then she left, I donned the headphones and completely demolished what she had created (laughs.) I took out the ukulele track left her voice in and made it totally different, totally psychedelic it was great (laughs). Laura brings the kernel of the idea and then I work with it.

TP: So are you guys gearing up to create an album, is that the end goal for the moment?

BC: Yeah, we’re about two thirds the way through it at the moment, we’re going for a full length LP all original songs. The sounds will be consistent as an album but each track will have a little something that’s unique about it.

LM: The tracks really seem to work well together. I’ve made albums before and it almost feels that we slapped on songs just to make a collection, where as this one feels really organic. This feels like a real album, you have to sit down and listen to the whole thing. As you can tell we’re pretty pleased with ourselves.

TP: You come from bands prior to this so you’ve played with a lot of different musicians. Is there anyone you would really like to work with that you feel would contribute to the sounds you’re creating at the moment?

BC: Well I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for Michael Chorney and the music that he makes. I love his music as well as his overall outlook and personality. He’s a musical genius so even having him as an advisor would be incredible. He’s helped me with mixes before and offered encouragement so that’s been fantastic.

LM: Neko Case would be a great person to work with. She doesn’t know me but I’d love to work with her. I almost did an album with her producer a couple of years ago but that unfortunately that fell through. Maybe one day (laughs.)

TP: You’ve crowdsourced to get funding for your masters tapes. Hows that campaign going?

BC: Well we started an indiegogo account to get it started but it’s just sitting there and not doing much at the moment.

LM: It’s a lot of work, people have managers and what not to sort this out so doing all the promotion on your own is somewhat exhausting. We also feel that people are somewhat tapped at the moment in terms of crowdsourcing and asking for people for money. A folk duo that are friends of ours made a pretty successful campaign but we’ve been a bit annoyed lately as they keep posting pictures from around the world, eating delicious food and we know we’ve paid for it all (laughs.) Are you guys playing music or are you guys just going around Europe eating on our tab?!

Matt Roe

New Crew: Matt Roe

Words by Matt Roe. Photo by James Lockridge.

“Hi, my name is Matt Roe and I’m from Minnesota. Currently I’m studying marketing at Champlain College here in Burlington. Growing up my family was very musically inclined. My parents were both in a band and my brother plays 4 different instruments. In a family like this, music became a huge part of my life. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Neil Young are some of my earliest influences. Since moving to Burlington I have been immersed in the local music scene and interning at a place like Big Heavy World; that works to preserve and promote Vermont music is an amazing opportunity.”

Linda Bassick

Linda Bassick 13 January 2016 on Rocket Shop

WORDS BY TOM PROCTOR. PHOTO by JAMES LOCKRIDGE.

Linda Bassick joined host Brent Hallenbeck on ‘Rocket Shop‘, Big Heavy World’s local music radio hour on 105.9FM The Radiator. You can hear more from Linda at www.reverbnation.com/lindabassick

Listen to a replay here or via Rocket Shop Radio Hour on iTunes or Subscribe on Android

Linda Bassick is a woman that wears many different hats; childhood educator, psychedelic cover band member, all girls summer camp coordinator and a veritable rock star among Burlington’s ankle biting community. It’s safe to say she has many string pickin’ fingers in a number of musical pies. Laid back but on point with her message, she’s on a mission to challenge gender barriers within the world of rock and roll.

Linda popped in the studio to play a few of her latest tracks and discuss her recent release, an adult friendly kid’s album ‘Friday Morning Sing A Long’. She had a quick minute to sit down with us to talk Caribbean cruises, why girls change at age 11 and what she’s doing to keep them stayin’ true to themselves.

Tom Proctor: How’s the reception been from your Kids Album that you’ve just released?

Linda Bassick: Well i’m an early childhood educator, so I’ve been working at a lot of childhood centers and the kids have been requesting my songs. Before kids were just asking me to play the classic kids music but now they ask for the tracks from the album, as you can imagine they are pretty demanding.

TP: I’ve been told you tread this line between music kids would love that doesn’t drive adults insane, how did you manage that small feat?

LB: Well that was my goal when I started out. As a young childhood educator I listen to a lot of kids music, some of its good but a lot of it’s terrible. I have some favourites from the years and I wanted to emulate that, I didn’t want to go for the repetitive Barney the dinosaur stuff. I took influence from Carole King, Taj Mahal, Jerry Garcia, there’s been a bunch but those are the ones I’ve listened to more than once.

TP: You’re in a band Mellow Yellow, a 60s cover band, what’s your criteria for picking songs to cover?

LB: Psychedelic, from ‘67 to ‘72. A very specific area of music. Trippy stuff, but the things you hear on the radio. Really we’re a tribute band that tries to accurately recreate the songs we cover, we want it to sound exactly how it sounds. Thats our goal.

TP: Why those 5 years?

LB: Because there’s so much to cover. We love it though, we’re playing on a Moody Blues cruise this summer with 40 or so other bands. It’s a Caribbean cruise, we go from Key West and head to Barbados. The guys that run these cruises love what we do because we sound exactly like what we’re covering. We play it just the way the audience remembers it. We headlined last year, but this year we’re taking a back step which will be nice because it’ll be a lot more chilled. We’re actually staying on for the micro brew cruise, so that one will be certainly focused more on the RnR.

TP: There’s a large amount of collaboration in the Burlington musical scene, have you worked with a lot of other musicians?

LB: Well I had my own band and we went through bass players like no tomorrow, I think we got through about 40 so i’ve been lucky to play with a diverse range of musicians. It was a bit of a cursed position, like the drummer in Spinal Tap.

TP: So you started your own Summer camp, Girls Rock Vermont, can you tell me more about that?

LB: It’s a camp empowering girls aged 8 to 18, teaching them how to play rock and roll. At the start of the camp they have a week to create their own band, come up with a band name and perform live. It’ll be our 6th season this summer and we’re now part of the Girl Rock Alliance that operates globally with many camps across the U.S. It’s a day camp so they come for 5 days and on the Saturday we book Higher Ground and have all the groups perform. All their families and friends come so it’s a great atmosphere.

TP: Why specifically girls?

LB: Something that happens to girls around the age of 11 where they start to look outward rather than inward. A lot of it is to do with the media and how it presents woman. The girls start to question themselves, confidence really declines after the age of 11 and the aim is to get these girls before they reach that point so they keep that voice and don’t lose it when they turn 12. We get a ton of 11 year olds and they’re a riot, they know their shit. The idea is to keep girls talking, to keep trusting themselves and going with their gut. Society teaches them that you have to be beautiful or skinny, but none of that is real. Meeting the mixture of women that come visit the camp really empowers them and shows them the media image of women isn’t reality.We try and cover all the bases and present all the genres we can.

TP: Do you feel like you’ve inspired some future rock stars?

LB: Absolutely. We had this one guitar player that came three years running, she’s really talented and she’s gonna keep playing. But really it’s more about girls finding their own voice, it’s not about being the best or being a competition. Girls learn to collaborate and work within a band. You have to work together and listen to each other, that’s the whole message. How to listen, not just what you can do on your own. It’s a really cool program i’m so glad to be a part of it.

Dom Petretta

New Crew: Dom Petretta

Words by Dom Petretta. Photo by James Lockridge.

“Hi there! I’m Dom Petretta. I’m a senior Management of Creative Media major at Champlain College with a specialization in Game Production. I’ve always had an interest in music ever since I picked up the saxophone back in 4th grade, to which I still play to this day. My parents and high school buddies also had an influence on the type of music I listen to from bands like AC/DC, Blink 182, Run D.M.C. and Daft Punk so I enjoy all types of genres. I’m very excited to be part of the Big Heavy World crew and hope to learn all about local Vermont musicians and the music they create!”

Urian Hackney

Urian Hackney 13 January 2016 on Rocket Shop

WORDS BY TOM PROCTOR. PHOTO by JAMES LOCKRIDGE.

Urian Hackney joined host Brent Hallenbeck on ‘Rocket Shop‘, Big Heavy World’s local music radio hour on 105.9FM The Radiator.

Listen to a replay here or via Rocket Shop Radio Hour on iTunes or Subscribe on Android

Urian Hackney comes from quite a musical pedigree. Son and nephew of the founding members of “Death”, the 70’s Detroit-based black punk band, you could say that he’s got some big Doc Martins to fill. Rather than shy away, Urian and his brothers have taken the scene by force. Forming their own band, Rough Francis, they have brought their own sounds and talents to the table and forged a route on the punk pathway.

In the studio to discuss his new solo work, a double A single ‘The Box’, named after their personalized recording space on Pine Street, Urian spent a few minutes having a blather about his DIY approach to creating sounds, why the best instruments come from the 70’s and how he first heard his dad’s music while taking a sprinkle as he avoided his chores:

Tom Proctor: Your double A single ‘The Box’ was released in October, what was the process to making the track?

Urian Hackney: Well my friend Robert Rossi approached me, I’ve played music with him for 8 years so I know him really well. He hit me up and told me that he wanted to stop by The Box and I showed him a track that I made, “Caramel”. He had a listen and helped me take that to the next level, which is what you can hear on the single.

TP: Were there any sounds you wanted to incorporate that you didn’t get to?

UH: Well there were some vocals that got recorded that will never see the light of day, bar my girlfriend (laughs.) It sounds good but when it comes to vocals I want to keep it shy ‘cos I want people to be able to chop it up and make it their own. Whatever people want to do with it creatively is fine by me. I just want to make a template for people to make songs from.

TP: Does recording in your own studio affect the way you create music ?

UH: Absolutely! We don’t really record elsewhere because we’re very DIY oriented. We’re very hands on with our own stuff because we only have the best of intentions when it comes to presenting our own work. Anyone can book a studio and get their hour, the engineers do what they need to make it sound ok but they’re always clock watching. We like using our own equipment which is generally old school and tailored to us and you just can’t get that in a rented space. Everything made from 1940 to 1970 has a craftsmanship and intention behind how it was made. These days most equipment is all mass produced and that doesn’t work for us. So if we can’t buy it we’ll build it ourselves.

TP: So you bring a sense of individualism to your music?

UH: That’s why we all gravitated towards the punk scene. Being black and growing up in Jericho, Vermont is kind of a funny thing. People look at you like you’re different, but our lifestyle made us stand out even more. When you’re an angsty 13-year-old, it’s awesome to hear someone empathise with rejection and have an anti-establishment thought process.

TP: Is there a lot of jamming within the band–is there freedom to do what you like creatively?

UH: Absolutely. Growing up we were all initially into the same kind of punk rock music, but we were still coming from different ages, different motives and different angles in terms of the music we wanted to play. I was only 17 when I joined Rough Francis and I came from a hardcore band, whereas Jules just came back from LA where he was playing garage stuff and Dylan was all about the Ramones. There were lots of different starting points and personally I was a little musically immature, but as we progressed our influences kind of combined. So we ended up coming together from different areas but ended up in the same place so we work within that.

TP: Your Dad and Uncles are famously in the 70’s punk band “Death”. Music has been such a huge influence in your life, how did it feel going from the audience to the other side of the mic?

UH: It feels weird ‘cos I’m pretty bad when it comes to being front and center. I’ve always been worried about making a fool of myself, that’s why I like playing the drums. I’m a prominent part of the band but geographically I stay at the back. I like to be heard but not seen. We all put in our 20% of the chaos. When I’m playing I go crazy–I feel the music and I can’t control myself. I transcend to become one with the music.

TP: Have you ever collaborated with Death?

UH: Yeah we’ve played shows and done guest appearances, but really we’ve been going out and done our own thing. Separate but still a family. They’re on a different level, a different bracket so we’re just letting them enjoy it and enjoy the attention rather than get in on it. We’re at a different stage at the moment. We want to be our own band really, so part of that is learning the mistakes our own way, recording our own way, making the story our own way.

TP: What was it like discovering your dad’s music?

UH: When I heard that Death album it was the most awakening experience in my life. From my feet to my head I felt the electricity, I realized that’s what I want to be doing. The day I heard it I’ll never forget. I was in high school and I was meant to come home and mow the lawn, I came home and my dad called me into his office and told me to go into the attic and get these tapes. So I go into the attic, find the masters and give them to my dad and then go mow the grass. I come back in and go to the bathroom and as I’m in there I hear this punk album playing, he was playing the Death album. When I heard it for the first time I lost my shit. It was fucking amazing. it was like hearing and old friend you’ve not seen in years, like seeing a baby for the first time, familiar but new. Spencer reached out on a music forum and talked to some guys that wanted to get a hold of the album, then it just spiraled and it ended up with us playing at Joey Ramones’ 50th birthday at the Fillmore with Death. The first Death show in 30 years.

TP: Death clearly had an avant garde sound, hows that influenced your own style in Rough Francis?

UH: Well a lot of it has just rung bells rather than had direct influence, as we’ve always felt a gravitation towards that kind of music. After we first heard the Death tapes it was like a lightbulb going off in our head because this was the sort of stuff we’ve always been doing, an affirmation of our direction more than anything. We just go with what we want to play. WE were already tailored to playing towards that kind of music so when we heard it, it just made sense. It was in our blood.

Ian Corcoran

New Crew: Ian Corcoran

Words by Ian Corcoran. Photo by James Lockridge.

“Hi, my name is Ian Corcoran and I am a marketing major at Champlain College. I have always loved listening to music ever since I was very little, jamming out to classic bands like The B52’s and U2 with my parents. Growing up and playing various instruments from the cello to the tenor saxophone I have a huge appreciation for musicians and their craft. I hope to bring more awareness about Vermont’s local music scene through Big Heavy World.”

Kathryn Baldwin

New Crew: Kathryn Baldwin

Words by Kathryn Baldwin. Photo by James Lockridge.

“Hello! I’m Kathryn, a student at Bennington College, where I’m studying music. I like to wear stripes and listen to The Beach Boys. Music has always been very important to me, starting from car rides with my dad, which were always filled with classic rock ‘n’ roll. My favorite part about music is how a person can always have memories associated with certain songs; memories which come back, pleasantly or unpleasantly, every time you hear them. I’m very excited to be working at Big Heavy World!”

Isabel Wing

New Crew: Isabel Wing

Words by Isabel Wing. Photo by James Lockridge.

“I’m Isabel Wing, and I’m from Los Angeles. I study music and language at Bennington College in Bennington, VT. My primary instrument is my voice, and I sing a variety of styles including jazz, folk, classical, and contemporary. In addition, I play acoustic guitar and rock piano. My love for complaining has led me to pursue a career in music journalism and criticism. I’m excited to be interning with Big Heavy World and learning more about the business of radio.”