How to: House Show Tours with Matt Hires

Matt Hires is no novice to the touring world.  The singer/songwriter spent 6 years under F-Stop Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records.  After parting ways with his label in January, Hires was looking for different avenues to explore his newfound freedom.


After reading an article on house show tours, the Tampa native set up a 5 show, east-coast tour in April to test the waters.  Hires found it so successful, that last month, he set out feelers again – this time for a longer tour on the West Coast.

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Darren Jackson

Featured Artist of the Month: Darren Jackson

Hip/Hop artist and St. Louis, MO native, Darren Jackson, is cut from a different mold than most in his genre.  Jackson grew up with a passion for poetry which eventually evolved into his love for hip/hop.  Darren began teaching himself piano his senior year of high school, only furthering his desire for a career in music.


After graduating high school, Jackson attended the Art Institute of Los Angeles to study audio engineering.  He cut his time in the city of angels short after he discovered that balancing school, music, and his social life was hindering him from reaching his full potential.

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Featured Artist of the Month: Celeste Louise

Miami based singer/songwriter, Celeste Louise, has put an emphasis on studying the creative arts  from a young age.  Born in Germany and raised stateside, Celeste found herself having a different outlook compared to her American friends, while also finding it difficult to connect with her European peers.  The one constant in her life was music.


At the age of 4, Celeste began studying piano.  By the time she was 8 she had already begun studying guitar and cello, as well.


Celeste participated in her school’s orchestras beginning in elementary school.  Her sophomore year of high school she was accepted into the Folsom High School jazz choir - the top high school jazz choir in the nation.


Celeste’s high school choir auditioned for X Factor in 2012, and while the group, as a whole, did not possess the “X Factor,” Demi Lovato sited that Celeste did.


The young singer/songwriter has shared the stage with Sara Bareilles, Hanson, Andy Grammer, Parachute, and Ginny Blackmore, having won a talent contest held by a local news station.


At only 19, she has already released two full albums and an EP, with another one in the works.  Celeste has been steadily maturing with each album, siting that her most recent single, “Ice in Your Bones,” hints at the direction she will be taking her music in for her upcoming projects.


You can download and stream “Ice in Your Bones” on her Soundcloud page.  Celeste will be recording her latest EP sometime this Fall.  Until then, you can check her out at the California State Fair at 3pm on Monday June 21st.


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Magic Man Troubadour

It All Starts Here for Magic Man

We hold our heads over the rising tide
To find our way out the city lights
The morning skies never seemed so clear
It all starts here


It all starts here.  Magic Man headed out on their first headlining tour on July 8th.  The quintet’s journey began in San Deigo at the Casbah followed by two shows in Los Angeles, a Free performance part of the Grove’s Summer Concert Series and a sold out show at the legendary Troubadour.  I had the extreme pleasure of catching up with the group to discuss songwriting and tour-life before their Troubadour set, Thursday evening.


Magic Man, which includes Alex Caplow (vocals), Sam Lee (guitar), Justine Bowe (synth/keys), Joey Sulkowski (drums), and Gabe Goodman (bass), released their debut, full-length release under Columbia records, Before the Waves, this past Tuesday.  The 12 song LP is a collection of synth-heavy, anthemic, rock songs full of intimate moments and soul-tugging lyrics.

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Featured Artist of the Month: BLPWSI

Better Looking People With Superior Ideas is an electronic rock duo from Los Angeles comprised of multi-instrumentalists Nick Norton and Craig Vermeyen.


The duo first began creating music together in a progressive-punk band in college and eventually found themselves in Los Angeles, where they both were embarking on new beginnings.  Norton and Vermeyen initially set out to write simple, accessible pop songs but ended up with an eclectic, genre-bending group of songs that would become their debut self-titled EP.  The album was produced by Nick Tipp (The Decembrists, Passion Pit, HEALTH) and mastered by Carl Saff (Dinosaur Jr., RVIVR) and released on January1, 2013.  Since then, they have been playing shows and writing new music.


Nick Norton grew up playing guitar and saxophone and received a BA in composition and guitar from UC San Diego.  Currently, he is working on his PhD, also in composition.  What Craig Vermeyen lacks in formal training, he makes up for in experience.  Vermeyen grew up playing the piano as well as the trumpet and eventually switched to drums and guitar in high school.


BLPWSI has been playing shows all over SOCAL since their debut release.   They are currently working on material for a full length album.  In the meantime, you can catch them at The Silverlake Lounge in LA on July 17th.

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Music Theory: Does it Help or Hurt Your Creative Process?

Music Theory, or the academic study of the theoretics of music (including sound, pitch, rhythm, melody, harmony and notation), is a hot subject among musicians. The polar arguments regarding the subject are often repetitive and unyielding: on the left is the emphatic belief that learning a set of ‘rules’ will only limit…creativity, and on the right is the equally limited belief that no great work of art can be created without the use of Music Theory.

Although these extremes lack the nuances of a compelling argument, many musicians fall somewhere in the middle. The discussion begs the immediate, less theoretical question: does studying music theory help your music NOW?

I’m not here to convince you one way or the other (really–it’s all about what’s best for you and your music). Instead, I’ve laid out some pros and cons, and I suggest you take a look, thinking about your habits as a musician and your practiced creative process.


3 Major Pros of Studying Music Theory

1. Natural Laws, Not Ultimate Truth

One widespread issue regarding the polarized argument about Music Theory is just a plain misunderstanding. Popular belief (on the left) is that Music Theory is a set of rules and regulations that must be followed. Contrary to that belief, Dave Isaacs of Music Think Tank argues that music has always come before the theory that explains it – the ‘rules’ are secondary.

Isaacs goes on to compare Music Theory to natural laws. The laws the govern nature don’t dictate nature. Instead, nature dictates the natural laws. The natural laws are just our way of explaining the bigger, more important thing–nature.



2. Learn the “Rules” So You Can Break Them

Therefore, the ‘rules’ of Music Theory are only there to heighten your understanding of music. The purpose of Music Theory is not limitation, but freedom. The thought goes like this–have more paint colors in the artbox, create more colorful landscapes. The thought doesn’t go like this–you must use every color paint in your artbox or your painting will suck.

Beyond just paint, Music Theory is similar to grammar rules in writing. A professor in an editing class which focused mainly on grammar once told me that I must learn all the rules in order to break them. That was fiction to her.

So, Music Theory should give you more tools, but in theory, those tools shouldn’t limit you, but instead, provide you more freedom in your creative process.



3. Communicate with Other Musicians More Effectively

This is a basic, but very important “pro” of Music Theory. Studying Music Theory provides you with a set vocabulary that isn’t available to you if you aren’t familiar with Music Theory. Yes, this vocabulary can be excluding to those who aren’t privy to it. However, a collaborating group of musicians who are able to speak the same language–that pro cannot be beat.


3 Major Cons of Music Theory

1. Theory Without Practical Application

Naysayers of Music Theory are often most annoyed with one result of the study: theoretical snobbery. Beyond the unnecessary arrogance that is sometimes present in Music Theorists, there is also the much more pressing issue, the misteaching of Music Theory. I’ve had many friends (who I believe are talented musicians) complain that their college Music Theory professors teach theory without application.

The problem is widespread and often goes something like this:

“I was in my fourth semester of theory class before we reached what to me was the heart of of matter and should have been the starting point. Learning rudiments like scales, key signatures (which subset of notes belong to the major scale of each key), and how to construct chords are very useful pieces of information. But it should be stressed from the very beginning that the concept of ‘key’ refers simply to a sense of a musical ‘home’ – the note or chord that makes a musical idea sound finished.”

In the above example, theory is taught without application to the creative process. And this is a problem.


2. Writer’s Block Caused by Over Thinking

With so much information swirling around in your head, sometimes its hard to get started. Or even worse, it’s difficult to get the self-editor, or know-it-all professor in your head to shut up. And the fact is, there has to be room for error in the creative process.  


3. Quickly Created, Formulaic Music that Lacks Authenticity (hello Top 40)

Due to the changing music industry today, the atmosphere to create music is not the same as it was 50 years ago. According to Digital Music News, the Music Industry has 99 concerning problems for the modern day musician. Looking at a few of these problems, it’s easy to see why studying Music Theory could actually hold you back from achieving more with your music, instead of making you more successful:

A) “Overall recording sales continue to decline, pretty much every year.”

B) “Most artists, understandably, have very little trust in major labels. And oftentimes, outright anger for them. All of which makes it difficult for labels to rally artists around their goals and agendas, or engage in collaborative, experimental, or more flexible deal structures.”

C) The internet creates a world where the typical fan is flooded by an outrageous amount of music every day. The struggle for the fan’s attention is beyond competitive.

D) “Most artists are overwhelmed with tasks that go far beyond making music. That includes everything from Tweeting fans, updating Facebook pages, managing metadata, uploading content, interpreting data, managing Kickstarter campaigns, and figuring out online sales strategies.”

E) “Thanks to heavy financial pressures, the creative process at major labels has become increasingly formulaic, overly refined, and often unsatisfying to the artists involved.”

Studying music theory may help you fit in to the formulaic, cookie-cutter process that serves Top 40 so well, but in the pursuit of your own style and art you may be better served without it. Not because music theory isn’t valuable, but because you simply don’t have enough time to dedicate to learning theory instead of getting out there to perform or write new music. When it comes down to it, what matters is what music you write and how you connect with the fans who want to listen to you; music theory is just a way to help you get there.


So what’s the solution?

Like most meaningful issues, there’s no perfect solution. As a musician in the chaos of the music industry today, you have to figure out what your priorities are and go after them. What’s your goal; what do you want to achieve? If you find that studying music theory gives you more paint to work with, then paint away. If all that paint freaks you out, throw out all the extra shades of green. At the end of the day, you’ve got to pick and choose the voices that are worth listening to, and put the rest on the shelf for another day.

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Magic Man

Magic Man ‘Before the Waves’

You are about to embark on the most wonderful experience of your life.  I will not explain at this moment how and why it works.  I don’t have the time, just dance.

The intro to Magic Man‘s opening track, “Texas,” off of their upcoming album, Before the Waves, says it all.  Just Dance.


I caught up with Sam and Alex from Boston’s Magic Man to discuss their upcoming release.  In just a few years, the duo has transformed themselves from a limited, low-fi, DIY bedroom-pop group into a triumphant synth-rock quintet.  When asked to describe their upcoming release in three words, they playfully responded with, “please pre-order now.”  Before the Waves is currently available for streaming on Hype Machine and will hit stores Tuesday, July 8th.  The album is a collection of tunes full of “triumphant epicness” with plenty of intimate moments that keep drawing the listener in.


Some of these tunes have hundreds of layers to them.  This can’t-miss-band does an incredible job of drafting the essence of each tune in their live set.  What they can’t replicate as a quintet, they make up for with stage presence and energy.


The Boston natives will be kicking off their headlining tour on the west coast, including two shows in Los Angeles.  Magic Man will be performing to a sold-out crowd at the legendary Troubadour on July 10th.  If you weren’t able to grab a ticket, catch them for FREE at the Grove on July 9th with Big Data.


On July 18th they will be joining friends and former tour-mates, Walk the Moon, in support of Panic at the Disco‘s, The Gospel Tour.


Pre-order the album now and receive immediate downloads of the You are Here EP favorites “Texas,” “Paris,” “Waves,” “Every Day,” as well two new singles “Out of Mind” and “It All Starts Here.”




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Movement 22

Featured Artist of the Month: Movement 22

EDM producer Pontus Lindh, aka Movement 22,  has had a strong love for electronic music since his early childhood.  At just 13 years of age, Pontus began producing Techno music.  Over the years, Pontus has developed his own style, a blend of  Electro/House and Dubstep.

Lindh worked on his latest album for over a year, honing his craft until it was ready.  He released his debut album, -under the name  Movement 22 – Bouncing Can Be Hard, in May of 2014.  The album consists of tracks that are influenced by artists such as Knife Party, Zedd, Prodigy, Pendulum, Flux Pavillion, Skrillex, and Porter Robinson.

This summer, Movement 22 will be performing at local clubs & festivals in his native Sweden including Hamnyran which runs July 3-5.  In August , Lindh hits Seattle  as  he looks to pick up more momentum at the Siberian Circus Festival.

Eventhough he is hard at work promoting his May release, Movement 22 already has plans to announce and release his sophomore effort sometime in 2014.

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blue light bandits

Featured Artist of the Month: Blue Light Bandits

Launching their musical association as a vocal harmony rich duo back in high school,  Dan DeCristofaro (keys, guitar, vocals) and Ethan Bates (bass, cello, vocals) – founders of the dynamic, soul driven alt pop band Blue Light Bandits – scored their first lounge gig in Worcester, Massachusetts the summer after they graduated.

 Over the years, as they expanded to a trio (with drummer Mike Braz, who also makes beats and plays guitar) and now a quartet with the addition of electric guitarist Tim Clark, they have played numerous clubs, bars and restaurants around New England.

 They’re grounded in bluesy rock but there are elements of reggae, funk and indie rock – all tied together with an infectious, relatable poppiness.  “We all share the same obsession,” Dan says, “so we have a blast hanging around each other. All of us have our own unique musical signature that developed from our individual learning experiences growing up. It’s our passion for music and our ability to learn from one another that has allowed us to mesh together into one eclectic, yet unified sound. We are all constantly searching for new inspirations, challenging each other to play outside of our comfort zones, and growing together as brothers. This allows us to incorporate the creative abilities of every member and put them together into a refreshing blend. We believe our new songs exemplify the variety of inspirations that have fueled the latest collection of tunes. The new EP really shows our energy and our growth as a young, aspiring band.”

Blue Light Bandits will be releasing their new 7 song EP, The BLB Demo, – whose title is a playful misnomer since it’s a fully produced set capturing their dynamic multi-faceted sound- on June 23rd.

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Featured Artist of the Month: Greenhouse

Who says you can’t find good bands anymore? The Denton, Texas duo go against all claims that the aforementioned question would ring true. Greenhouse, in essence, is an electronic act that has been haunted by the musical stylings of 2000′s post-rock and rawness of 90′s guitar alternative.  Multi-instrumentalists Ryan Torres and Rex Hudson share synths and guitars while Ryan takes lead on drums and Rex takes lead on bass.

Greenhouse released their debut album, Never Look Back, on Globe Garage Records in July 2012. Their sophomore effort, The Last Shred of Night, – a more mature, diverse exploration of their many musical influences – was independently released in October 2013. The progression of the duo shows a band comfortable in their own skin.  They have the ability to blend non-traditional electronic musical elements with their own musical stylings. They currently have song placement in the upcoming video game, ’1979 Revolution’, and are working on a 2014 summer release. In September, Greenhouse will be playing alongside Baths, Neon Indian, xxyyxx, and Aesop Rock at the Oaktopia Music Festival.

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