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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Brian Blueskye

Jeff Bowman is downright intense behind a drum set. He’s played in various groups, including legendary desert-rock band Unsound, Mondo Generator, The Agents, Waxy, and Mighty Jack. He was kind enough to recently answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

It was my two favorite bands at the time, Anthrax and Iron Maiden, 1989, at the Long Beach Arena. I can still picture it in my mind. Ah, such a great night for a young metal head: “Scream for me, Long Beach!”

What was the first album you owned?

Kiss, Alive. I got it in kindergarten. I would sit and listen to it on my little yellow record player and study the double-album cover. I was fascinated by everything I saw and heard.

What bands are you listening to right now?

My kids have got us on a Beatles kick right now, and it’s been great to revisit them and watch my kids fall in love with them. Such a great variety of music from one band. I really don’t have enough time to explore new music these days.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

The first artist that comes to mind is Bob Dylan. Sorry if that offends anyone, but I don’t get him, and I’ve never been able to tolerate listening to him long enough to try to get him. So I may just never get him, and from what I’ve heard, I’m OK with that.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I’ve been lucky enough to see most of my faves over the years, but I would have loved to have seen the Waters/Gilmour-era Pink Floyd. If you could stretch the definition of “defunct” to “dead,” it would be Johnny Cash.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? 

I own a double CD of dance/electronica music called Fired Up that I purchased after hearing it on a late-night infomercial. I bought it right there off the darn TV. It gets me fired up.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Viper Room in Vienna, Austria, is awesome. It’s a place like no other. I was told by a guy who worked there that the building is about 600 years old, and it was originally a monastery. The stage is underground, and the ceiling is arched, so it’s like playing in a cave. The bass tones literally rattle the plaster off the walls and ceiling! The staff and catering were so amazing, though, and there’s a Starbucks within walking distance.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

I just volunteered to play a few kids’ church songs on bass guitar for an end-of-the-year “chapel jam” at my daughter’s preschool, and I listened to the songs over and over again so I could learn them for the one 15-minute performance, and now I can’t stop singing: “Whether it rains, whether it pours, wherever I go, I will trust you, Lord.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t listening to music or singing along to songs, but I can narrow it down to one piece of music that changed my life as a musician: It was the guitar solo part of the live version of a song called “She” on Kiss’ Alive. I was very young when I first heard it, but it completely filled me with the power of music, and made me feel that, for me, it wasn’t enough just to listen. It made me want to play. It made me want to participate in what those freakin’ guys were doing! I had to learn how to do it. I had to teach myself how to play those instruments. … To this day, I still just play with the pure, simple power and heart of a little boy listening to and emulating Kiss.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I’m asking Glenn Danzig to strongly consider dumping the overqualified and presumably overpaid Dave Lombardo and let me play drums for the Misfits!

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Synchronicity II” by The Police. It’s pretty humbling to know that the exact moment I die, many miles away, there will be some creature swimming around in a dark Scottish loch that doesn’t know or care the least bit ... .

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

It so depends on mood, but I’d have to say Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I was in first-grade when I got the 8-track, and it’s been part of the soundtrack of my whole life. I just got the re-issue double album from my kids for Father’s Day.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

The song that reminds you of being in love with your soulmate. Listen to it, and fall in love again and again. It should never get old. That’s Sting, “Fields of Gold,” for me. (Scroll down to hear it.)

When I played local artist Kelley Ryan’s new album, Telescope, I was blown away. Although the songs seem simple, there is a lot going on: They are layered with instruments and sounds.

For more than 20 years, Kelley Ryan has been working as a singer/songwriter, and she’s built a career as an independent artist who continues to evolve musically. During a recent phone interview, Ryan explained that the life experiences of friends, family and herself inspire her music.

“I’ve been writing songs since I had a guitar in my hand when I was 12,” she said. “Everyone has their way, and this is sort of my way of expressing things I see and feel—through words.”

Ryan splits her time between the Coachella Valley and Ireland.

“My husband and I have had a house here for about 10 years. I was born in Portland, Ore., and moved to Los Angeles when I was 19, and met my husband there,” Ryan said. “We used to come out here all the time for short and long weekends, and we loved it here. Eventually, my husband sold his business. … We spend half a year in Ireland, and half in Palm Springs.”

Ryan said some people express surprise when they learn that she splits time between here and Ireland.

“People ask me, ‘Wow, you live in Ireland and the California desert?’” she said. “I can’t imagine two more completely different places. One place, there are no snakes, and the other place, there are a ton of snakes. One place, we have a dehumidifier running all the time, and one place, we have a humidifier running all the time. The people in both places are the one thing we really love. In Ireland, we live on a cliff that overlooks the ocean, with fields and cows all around us. Here, we live right against a mountain. I do believe there is some kind of vibe in both places that is really inspiring to my writing.”

Ryan has put out eight albums, and has built studios in both of her homes.

“I took matters into my own hands and hung out with people who taught me how to use things in a recording studio,” she said. “I use the studio and the recording process just as much as picking up a guitar to write songs. I love being in the studio, and I work with really great people who are friends. I can roam around with my own ideas, record as much as I can, put little snippets here and there, and if I get an idea for a song, everything has to magnify that kernel of the idea. I love the process, and I record way more than I actually end up using.”

Some artists try to limit themselves when they record, Ryan said—but she does not.

“I think of a record more as an entity on its own. A lot of people will record a record based on the idea that they’re going to go out and play live,” she said. “Sometimes, I think that limits people to try things that are different on records, because they want to be able to replicate it onstage. They won’t have multiple voices or the sound effect of dripping water; they won’t experiment a little bit. I know when I play that I can’t take my horns player with me, but I’m still going to try to make everything sound great.”

While looking at the lyrics of the songs on Telescope, I noticed there was a song called “The Darkest Stars” with this dedication: “For Sylvia Plath and Anais Nin, with regards to Marilyn.”

“I had one little riff and got a melody,” Ryan explained. “I was wide awake one night and thought that all three of those women were unique and shined in real life. They were highly creative people, and I wondered what would happen to them if they woke up at 3 in the morning, because obviously all three of them had a dark side. I was thinking of that when I wrote it. Even though there are sparse instruments, I wanted it to feel like it was the middle of the night, and there was worry.”

The work by Ryan, who formerly used the name astroPuppees, has received accolades from various independent music news sources. No Depression recently said about Telescope that it’s “so lush that you feel you’re in a dream world.” Ryan said that with every album she’s put out, more people have discovered her work.

“It’s slowly grown, which is fine, because it’s exactly the way I do things, and I wouldn’t think my stuff is for everybody, or that it would be ‘huge,’” she said. “It’s kind of quiet, and every record I make, more people pick it up. This record has gotten much more of a reaction; the people who are buying it or streaming it are talking about it.”

For more information on Kelley Ryan, visit www.kelleyryan.net.

The Flusters have achieved big things locally. Now, the band is working to achieve big things beyond the Coachella Valley.

On June 1, The Flusters began an all-or-nothing, 30-day Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 in “seed money” by June 30. The goal is to boost the band as the members leave their day jobs to embark on a six-week, 20-city national tour, as well as release the Flusters’ second EP in the fall.

The crowd-funding campaign has a lot of perks offered to those who donate, including new limited-edition merchandise and a copy of their new EP once it’s released. The campaign’s updates have included video footage of a private performance for a teenage girl, graduating from high school, whom band members called their “biggest fan”; the release of the music video for their song “Your Arms”; and a video of a mural of the band being painted by local artist Adam Enrique Rodriguez in their practice space.

As of this story’s posting, the campaign had received $14,308 in donations.

I recently visited the Flusters’ headquarters in Palm Desert before a scheduled practice to discuss the campaign and the plans surrounding it. Will Sturgeon, front man of Brightener, was also present and picking away on guitarist Danny White’s Fender Telecaster as we discussed the campaign. Sturgeon recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for Brightener’s new album; he raised $7,665, with an original goal of $7,000.

“All of our money goes to Will Sturgeon,” front man Doug VanSant joked.

Sturgeon smiled, nodded and said, “Time is money.”

VanSant continued: “The Kickstarter was something we had planned to do ever since our first EP release last year. We knew that we wanted seed money to grow our project to the next level, and had seen people like Will close in on a couple of successful ones himself. Our friends Kreg and Kelly at (Palm Desert restaurant) Wilma and Frieda’s also ran a successful one. It was something that we always had in our scope to do, and we finally did it. Will has been a huge help in doing consultation for this, and he’s been our co-producer. He plays keyboards with us, and very early on, we had meetings in phone and in person on how to do this. His knowledge is invaluable.”

The Flusters took a risk by running an all-or-nothing campaign: If the band members don’t raise the whole $20,000, they’ll receive nothing. It’s a risky endeavor; popular local band The Hive Minds failed to reach a crowd-funding campaign goal, despite a well-done video to promote it and a lot of great perks. Sturgeon also helped the Hive Minds with that campaign. VanSant said the Hive Minds’ experience proves that crowd-funding can be tough.

“I watched their video, and they had a great video,” he said. “They said exactly what they were going to do with the money, and they were clear-cut in their goals and offered great rewards, but it didn’t work. We backed that project, too.

“We have so many people counting on us,” VanSant continued. “The live venues are counting on us; our management is counting on us; and our fans are counting on us.”

The other band members expressed nervousness as well.

“To imagine doing this without all of that (crowd-funding money) is another terrifying thought; it’s like Russian roulette,” Danny White said.

Mario Estrada laughed and added: “But that’s also what makes it really fucking exciting!”

Meanwhile, the band continues to prepare for the tour and to head into the recording studio to record Extended Play No. 2. Drummer Daniel Perry explained that the recording will include some familiar tracks.

“It’s going to have ‘Elevator Dance,’ and our instrumental ‘Stinger,’ as well as a new song called ‘Everyday Dreaming’ and ‘Time Traveler,’” Perry said. “We are also going to finish it up with a song we’ve re-worked and re-titled ‘When Will Then Be Now?’ We’re going to do the new two in between synth instrumentals ‘003’ and ‘004’ as well.”

Similar synth tracks—a few seconds of strange noises in between tracks—can also be found in the form of “001” and “002” on the first EP. I asked VanSant about the reason behind them, and he responded that all will be revealed with the next EP release.

“If you read the project updates, you’ll read the narrative of EP 1. … That story gets continued in EP 2. EP 2 serves as the mirror of EP 1,” VanSant said. “Every song has a counterpart; every synth sequence has a counterpart; and (EP 2) picks up literally where EP 1 left off. There’s going to be a complete seamless transfer of all 10 songs across the board. When you get the double EP, there’s actually going to be a bonus track at a secret Web location, and we’ll release the location when you buy it, and it’ll be hidden in the sleeve. But you’ll have to get that sleeve at our live show, and you’ll have to hunt for it.”

While the EPs are linked, the band will be recording the second one at a different studio, with a different producer.

“We’re going to a place called comp-ny in Los Angeles to work with a guy named Be Hussey, who runs comp-ny, and he recently won a Latin Grammy Award as a producer,” VanSant said. “For tracking, we’re going to give this studio a shot, and we’re a band that tracks easily, because we have a pretty organic sound. Obviously, our comfort level is to mix with Will (Sturgeon), but we might mix with Be. We don’t want to fix what isn’t broken, but do things in a grander fashion.”

The Flusters’ tour will include gigs in VanSant’s hometown of Philadelphia, and White’s hometown of Jackson, Miss. The band had help in mapping it out from Sherpa Management, a Los Angeles outfit put together by musicians and for musicians.

“We had Sherpa Management schedule the whole thing,” White said. “They’ve been extremely supportive and helpful. We couldn’t ask for a better team in our corner. But as far as people showing up, it’s going to happen, and probably not going to happen. It’s just going to be what it’s going to be. The main thing for us is getting that experience on the road to get ready for the next tour.”

VanSant said he’s a little worried about mishaps that come with touring.

“The logistics worry me a bit,” VanSant said. “Is the bus going to crap out? Is the sewage pump on the bus going to work? Will any of our gear break down? Are we going to get held up somewhere? These are things life throws at you. Having cultivated a strong group mentality of, ‘Let’s get through this,’ and, ‘Let’s be solution based’ when challenges and adversity come across our plate, we don’t bicker at each other. We’re working together, and the Kickstarter is proof—and we’re right on target.”

VanSant said the goal after the tour and second EP is to focus on writing more music, and working together to keep reaching for more success.

“We already have about five songs for our full-length album. We’re starting to book shows through November and looking to do some pretty big-ticket shows coming up here,” VanSant said. “It’s going to be a mixture of playing new markets, playing bigger venues in the same markets, and promoting those two EPs—and leveling up and staying busy. We believe we need to give ourselves six months, a full trial of focusing on The Flusters. That means jumping in the bus and going to another market for a week or two, setting up a residency to play that city, and then bouncing to another city.

“A lot of bands can’t level up, because they can’t chase the opportunity. Everybody scatters to the corners to their day jobs and tries to pay their bills, and we’ve decided to work together to pay all our separate bills. The solution is within this band. If we can play one gig and pay Daniel Perry’s car payment, that’s worth it to us. If we can play one gig and pay my rent for that month, that’s how we want to make our living. We’re going to go find the gigs—and they’re out there.”

For more information on The Flusters, visit www.theflusters.com.

On Friday night, June 9, Chris Rock’s “Total Blackout Tour” made a sold-out stop at Fantasy Springs—and his no-holds-barred, raunchy humor on various subjects was a hit.

First, one important detail: The tour is called the “Total Blackout Tour” for a reason—and that blackout includes cell phones. The line to get into the Fantasy Springs Special Events Center on Friday night was lengthy, and attendees were told they had two options: They could take their cell phones back to their cars, or they could put them in a bag that would be locked until the end of the show. (At one point before the show started, I saw a couple who had broken through the bag provided for their cell phones—and they were being dealt with by law enforcement.)

When Rock took the stage, he said, “Where the hell am I?” asking if he was in Palm Springs. He expressed disbelief that people actually lived in the Coachella Valley, based on how hot it was—and then quickly declared in the same breath that he was tired of hearing about Donald Trump every day. After that awkward non-transition, Rock went on to say that Donald Trump’s actions every day are stupid, and that these actions have made him tired of hearing about political matters.

There were two times early in the show when in the middle of his jokes, he asked, “What’s up with this microphone, man?” after his wireless microphones apparently cut out on him. It then happened a third time; when he showed frustration and asked what was going on, stage management pointed to a microphone on a cord in front of the monitors. He picked it up, stated that the Fantasy Springs Special Events Center must have been built “this past Wednesday,” and added, “We’re definitely not in Vegas.”

Chris Rock is known for his political commentary, and discussing what goes on in our society in both a funny and serious manner. In fact, he’s one of the best at doing so. After mentioning the shootings of young African-American men by police, he said that the cops should include some white teenagers, stating, “We want justice for Brad! No justice, no quiche!” (During that rant, I noticed an older white couple in a section close by who walked out disgusted, after only about 20 minutes of the show. Who in the world did they think they were going to see?)

There have been some major changes to Rock’s personal life recently. He stated rather seriously that one of those changes included a divorce from his ex-wife, to whom he was married for 16 years. He admitted in a serious manner: “I cheated with three women,” which quickly turned into a joke, given he’s been asked, “Why only three?” He talked about the woes of his divorce proceedings, and that his wife was out to get his “New Jack City and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” money. However, he added that his divorce proceedings were much better than those between rapper Tone Loc and his ex-wife, who would argue over “who gets ‘Funky Cold Medina’ and ‘Wild Thing.’”

The show’s funniest part came when Rock explained how a marriage works—based on “fucking and playing the tambourine.” He stated that being in a relationship is like being in a band, and there are days when you are the front man, and days when you’re playing the tambourine. He also talked about how a man might think he owns his house, but if a man wanted to test this idea, that man should test it by “put(ting) up a picture of your mother in the house.”

Rock is known for his hilarious successful HBO comedy specials, starring roles in various films, and a sitcom based on his childhood; he even hosted the Oscars last year. It’s obvious based on the laughs he generated during the show: Rock remains one of the funniest stars of stand-up comedy.

Drummer Greg Saenz is enjoying a fantastic music career. He’s currently the drummer for local band You Know Who; he plays in former Kyuss frontman John Garcia’s solo band; and he’s been involved with Excel, and My Head. However, he’s probably best known for his days as Gregory Pecker during a stint with The Dwarves. Greg was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Village People with opener Gloria Gaynor at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, June 1979. Just think about THAT one! It is, to this day, the greatest concert performance I have ever seen. (Well, Alice Cooper ...)

What was the first album you owned?

The Osmond Brothers, Crazy Horses. I was 5 years old, and after seeing them perform the title track “Crazy Horses” on TV, I was obsessed with Donny Osmond. On Christmas morning 1972, Nixon was POTUS, and I woke up to the first record I ever owned.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve been enjoying Torche lately, and a band we recently played with called Vodun, from London. I’ve been listening to The Guess Who, and Grand Funk Railroad, knowing what an influence they were for Soundgarden. Same reason I’ve been listening to my Paul Butterfield Blues Band records, Swamp Dogg, and Etta James with the passing of Gregg Allman.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

The Mars Volta, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Korn. I “get” the bands, because I know they have a vision, and a purpose, and it serves ’em right. What I don’t “get” is “moved.” It doesn’t move me, not even to the point where I feel like I’m missing something. My reluctance to listen to those bands is always difficult to explain to my buddies who want to crank it all the way to L.A. and back.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I was really believing that The James Gang was going to headline Desert Trip, and I am terribly disappointed about that not happening.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Besides doing air guitar in the mirror? Berlin, Oasis, Alter Bridge, The Cardigans, and XTC.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Wild at Heart in Berlin: GREAT food, beer, a tattoo parlor with world-renowned artists, and a cool stage/sound system. Plus, it’s in Berlin!

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Baby I just need one good one to staaaaaaayy,” “Million Reasons,” Lady Gaga.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Tom Araya of Slayer. Los Angeles, 1987. I was drumming for Excel, my first “real” band, and although I was handling my own, I was still quite green and insecure about my abilities. Dave Lombardo and Slayer had just parted ways, and their LP Reign in Blood was still in our ears. One week after the Lombardo departure, I approached Tom Araya at a hardcore show in L.A. that his younger brother’s band, Bloodcum, was playing at. Tom was quite friendly, and knew of Excel, and he gave me their manager’s phone number. I was told to learn “Altar of Sacrifice,” “Jesus Saves,” “Reign in Blood” and “Necrophobic.” I pooped my pants, but I learned the tunes and auditioned. I was thrilled! I obviously didn’t get the gig, and I knew I wouldn’t; I only knew that a chance to conquer my biggest fears would land me in a spot where I would earn respect so I could hold my head up high amongst my colleagues, and be uber-confident in my abilities. I’m still not sure if it worked, but it definitely changed my life.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I’d ask Rivers Cuomo from Weezer: “Did you really audition for Quiet Riot?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Why, it would be “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis, of course!

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Aerosmith, Rocks.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Combination” by Aerosmith, to help prove my point. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Satellite Sky is one of the best bands from Los Angeles’ underground scene that you’ve probably never heard of.

See what you’re missing by checking out the band’s show at The Hood Bar and Pizza at 10 p.m., Saturday, June 24.

I had the opportunity to check out the brother-and-sister duo from Australia back in February at The Echo in Los Angeles. The sound the two of them put out was incredible—and even won over my metalhead friend, Frank Skalsky.

“We’re brother and sister, and we’ve been playing music together for quite a while,” Kim Kicks said during a recent phone interview with both of the siblings. “Through playing various bands together over the years, it’s come down to this two-piece, and we absolutely love it.”

Satellite Sky eventually settled in Los Angeles.

“We grew up in Melbourne, Australia, jamming out in Mom and Dad’s garage,” Pete Kicks said. “Eventually, they thought we were proficient enough in our instruments, and we formed a couple of bands back in Australia and started touring around. We had an opportunity to come from overseas with a different band we were in, and when we got to Los Angeles, that band didn’t work out, and we decided to write some music as the two of us—and it took off from there.

“We’ve been going on now about five or six years. It’s a long flight from Melbourne, and we found ourselves trying to come back over here twice a year. It just seemed like there were opportunities in licensing our music in film and TV, and we wouldn’t have had that if we stayed back in Australia. We pride ourselves in being a live band that can draw people in with performances, and we can back up what we record playing live. We also felt there were touring opportunities here.”

Kim Kicks said Los Angeles simply felt right.

“Every time we came to Los Angeles, we felt a good vibe, and felt that it was a place we needed to be,” said Kim Kicks. “It felt like there was a lot of opportunity here, and instead of just passing through from time to time, we felt the need to be here. Australia is great, but it’s very small. There are a lot of great Australian bands who are content with just touring in Australia. Maybe they have families or something, but we’re travelers at heart. We love to travel. We love to get in the van, get on the road and experience new cultures and people. I think people forget they love rock ’n’ roll until it’s in front of their face. In America, there are a lot of other genres of music that are very popular, but when people find themselves in front of a rock ’n’ roll band, they love it. But they don’t know it until it’s in front of their face.”

Pete Kicks said when they started out in Australia, they played with a lot of rock bands. However, today, they don’t find a lot of Australian rock bands at big international events.

“What we’ve noticed over the years when we’ve played at South by Southwest is that there were eight to 10 Australian bands, and we were the only rock band that was playing this event,” he said. “I don’t know what the reason was, but it was more folk, synth and pop bands. That’s great in regards to what is being exported, but as far as the actual rock scene back in Australia, it shaped who we are as artists, and we were really lucky to have a lot of contemporaries when we started out.”

Satellite Sky has had some success in getting the band’s music in commercials and television shows.

“We landed a song in an NBC Olympics campaign in 2012. They used our song ‘Got This Feeling,’ and they picked three bands and we were one of them. The Black Keys were another band who did as well,” Pete Kicks said. “That got our foot in the door, and we’ve landed some music on shows for ABC and a couple of commercials, one of which was for Spotify, with our song ‘Next Time.’ It’s definitely one of those things where you might not land something every week, but once every few months or once a year makes a difference. It exposes you to a whole new audience.”

Playing as a duo can be hard, but it works to Satellite Sky’s advantage. Pete Kicks talked about how a bass player once had to sit out a tour due to commitments with his day job.

“We weren’t going to go on this tour, because he couldn’t make it. We worked out a way to play as a two-piece,” Pete Kicks said. “I have two guitar amps and pedals that can run with channels, so I can run a bass sound and a guitar sound. We’ve experimented with backing tracks for live shows. I think it’s great for touring, because you can pack a lot more into a van, but we both know we’re on the same page with what we’re trying to achieve. We have the confidence to say, ‘There’s no right or wrong anymore.’ The right way is whatever is right for you. We found as a two-piece that it doesn’t really limit us. We don’t feel we’ve compromised what we do onstage in any way. One of the compliments we get when we step off stage is what a big sound we have for a two-piece.”

The show at The Hood will mark the desert debut for Satellite Sky.

“We’re really excited,” Kim Kicks said. “We have some friends out there, and we don’t know what to expect. We’ve always wanted to stop through there on tour. We’re excited because it’s something different.”

Pete Kicks said he knows a little about the local music scene.

“We’ve heard there’s a great rock scene there over the years—a lot of bands that we’ve listened to in Australia,” he said. “I think it’ll be great to get out there, and we’re really amped to get out there and play.”

Satellite Sky will perform at 10 p.m., Saturday, June 24, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on Satellite Sky, visit www.satelliteskymusic.com.

MSCLS is not a typical DJ/producer—instead, he’s out to challenge listeners and make them experience dance music in unexpected ways.

See for yourself when he performs at the June edition of Splash House, taking place Friday, June 9, through Sunday, June 11.

From Austin, Texas, the former multi-instrumentalist played various genres of music before becoming a DJ. During a recent phone interview with MSCLS (Josh Vela), he explained that his hometown is a great place for music.

“Austin is the live music capital of the world, but there’s a pretty healthy electronic music scene as well,” Vela said. “I’d say Austin and Dallas are the best in Texas, in my own opinion, and there’s a really good house and techno scene in Austin as well. One of my favorite clubs of all time is this underground club in Austin called Kingdom. It has an incredible booth, a great dance floor and great lighting; it’s a nice, mid-size, intimate venue. I really dig it. The scene has also been very supportive there as well.”

Vela’s techno and house music tends to be on the darker side, and he’s received accolades for his sets. While his success has led him to perform at festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival, he said he’s going to continue to do what he’s always done.

“My target demographic is underground. I don’t really do EDM or anything like that,” he said. “My bread and butter is underground markets, but (festivals) have been really positive. I went on this Twitter rant the other day about how artists start making some noise, getting good releases and start getting booked for festivals—then they begin to water down their sound, because it’s a mixed audience at these festivals that are dominated by EDM. They naturally feel they have to dumb down their set or be more accessible to reach a bigger fan base. I understand that; however, you got there in the first place by doing what you do, even if it’s underground music. So you’re doing a disservice to your crowd and the underground scene that supported you and got to where you are. … I’ve done the opposite and tried to challenge more of the crowds at these festivals and push the boundaries further. Of course, you don’t know how they’re going to react, but in that sense, I don’t pre-plan a set, and I have folders full of tracks I’d love to play. At any given time, there’s 80GB of music on my flash drive, and I do things on the fly based on how the crowd is reacting.”

Vela recently acquired a Moog Mother-32 synthesizer, which he has uploaded videos of himself playing. When I brought up one of these recent videos, he got excited.

“I want to get a Minimoog like a Model D. Those things sound pretty awesome,” he said. “I’m really big on hardware. I’ve been building up what I think is an awesome hardware setup so I can write hands-on. ... I came from being in bands when I was younger, like hardcore bands, metal bands, and screamo/emo bands. I play guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and all that stuff, so I learned how to produce, but I miss playing instruments, and hardware lets me have that feeling again. It gives you a totally different dynamic in the writing process that I enjoy, and it sounds way better.”

Many DJs, like punk-rock musicians, are independent: They give away remixes and original material online for free, taking it directly to the people.

“It absolutely does have a punk-rock appeal,” Vela said about what he does. “I don’t think anybody would disagree with that statement. It has a very DIY punk-rock mentality to it, and especially when it comes to the underground versus mainstream part of it. There’s definitely the big-label and big-suits deal, but that’s at a different part and level of the scene. If you get into the crossover acts and pop-driven electronic, and you’ll see a lot of that stuff. But it’s still independent for the most part.”

Vela said his Splash House set list won’t be much different than what he typically does.

“When I played Beyond Wonderland, I don’t know if it was my management or the record company guys who were like, ‘Wow! That was a great set!’ but they asked if it was different and made for a festival,” Vela said. “I was like, ‘Nope, this is just like my club set. I just try to be me.’ At a pool party, I might play more vocal-style records and fun stuff like that, bur I always just try to be me and do my thing.”

Splash House’s June edition takes place Friday, June 9, through Sunday, June 11. General admission passes start at $135. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.

When Classixx released debut album Hanging Gardens in 2013, the duo struck gold when single “All You’re Waiting For” became a nu-disco anthem.

In 2014, Classixx (Michael David and Tyler Blake) co-headlined the Tachevah Block Party in Palm Springs with Fitz and the Tantrums. In 2016, the duo released sophomore album Faraway Reach, and this year, they made their second appearance at Coachella. This weekend, Classixx will be returning to the Coachella Valley and performing at Splash House’s after-party, After Hours at the Museum.

The DJs are inspired by genres from disco to R&B, making them something of an oddity in the world of dance music. During a recent phone interview with Tyler Blake, he said that at times, he and David feel like they stick out like a sore thumb.

“I think since we’ve been playing live a lot over the past couple of years, that we feel like we’re in between a band and DJs, and sometimes for people who aren’t super-familiar with electronic music, it can feel confusing,” Blake said. “But at the end of the day, we just put on as good of a show as we can, whether we’re DJing or playing live. I think that the quality is really what we’re concerned with. Hopefully, if we’re doing things right, people walk away from the show having had a good time, and that’s all that really matters.”

Considering that David and Blake do a lot of what’s called nu-disco, I asked Blake if he felt that disco music ever really died.

“I think that (disco) was dormant for a while,” he replied. “I think in the ’70s and early ’80s, everybody was playing disco, and it was very well-loved. Every rock band even had a disco song, and even KISS had a disco song. It was really loved, and then this ‘disco sucks’ movement happened. People burned disco records, and after that, it had a bad taste in people’s mouths. When people thought of disco, they thought of bar mitzvah music like KC and the Sunshine Band. They didn’t realize that disco came from a really cool underground structure, and also kind of a gay subculture. In a lot of ways, it was really punk. A lot of things wouldn’t have had happened if there was no disco. There would be no house music. It’s really what started modern dance music.”

The differences between nu-disco and the disco of old really come down to technology, Blake said.

“To make a really proper-sounding disco record in the late ’70s or early ’80s, you had to have a really state-of-the-art studio,” he said. “One of the things about those records is that the playing on them is fantastic—people like Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic and other world-class musicians playing at the highest level. Mike and I appreciate that. We can play, but there’s a lot more technology now to make things sound more unique and modern. I think we try to incorporate modern sounds into what we do.”

Classixx’s second album, Faraway Reach, was another critical success. Blake explained the difference between the two albums.

“I think our approach was very similar. Our approach is always to make music that we want to hear,” he said. “… If we hear something that influences us, and we want to incorporate it, that’s what we do. The difference between the first record and the second record is the first record was the first Classixx album of our lives. It was really trying to put something together to represent us and introduce us to the world. The second time around, we were a little less concerned about establishing a sound. We felt a lot more free to do what we wanted to do. We wanted to make something that sounded a lot more modern instead of retro this time. I think at the end of the day, that’s the impression I get from it.”

Blake said he and David are currently working on new music.

“Our touring has slowed down,” he said. “We did a lot of touring in the second half in 2016 supporting Faraway Reach. Now we’re home, and we’re trying to make a lot more music. We’re putting less pressure on ourselves to make an entire new album. … Our idea is vague as to how we’re going to release it—whether we’re going to put out singles or make an EP, or who knows, maybe enough material that is cohesive enough to put out another album. Right now, we’re just focusing on making music without any sort of plan.”

After playing Tachevah and twice at Coachella, Classixx is a good fit for the Coachella Valley, Blake said.

“It’s a beautiful place,” he said. “This show that we’re playing will be at night, and we’re playing outside at the Palm Springs Air Museum. We love playing outside in Palm Springs; it’s really beautiful, especially for our music. People tend to think of our music as something you play in the summer or at a pool party. It’s not really a conscious decision for us to make music for that environment, but it seems like it lends itself well to it.”

Splash House’s June edition takes place Friday, June 9, through Sunday, June 11. General admission passes start at $135; after-hours-only passes start at $40. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.

Last fall, Nick Waterhouse released his latest album, Never Twice. It arguably marked a career high point: The album was a critical success, as Waterhouse’s retro ‘60s rock/R&B sound continued to evolve.

The Pappy and Harriet’s regular will return to Pioneertown for a show at 9 p.m., Friday, June 23.

During a recent phone interview, Waterhouse discussed the challenges, mishaps and frustrations in making Never Twice, an album that features a lot of new territory and different styles for him. In fact, Waterhouse said he almost abandoned the project altogether.

“This album marked the conclusion of five years of doing what I had been doing,” Waterhouse said. “The first record (Time’s All Gone, from 2012) was a live set with the gang who couldn’t shoot straight backing me. The second record (Holly, from 2014) was when I was trying to figure out my place in the recording world. The studio where I recorded my first record—that I thought I’d have forever—closed between the first and second records. Suddenly, I had all these tools at my disposal on the second record, and it was done in a cinematic kind of way.”

After Holly, Waterhouse wanted to find a studio similar to the one that had closed—something that was not easy. The process inspired Never Twice, and included bringing back Michael McHugh as his recording engineer.

“This record was a militant response to that (process) and going off the grid,” Waterhouse said. “I re-employed my mentor and engineer who taught me everything I knew, who I made my first record with. We worked together on this—and this was the first job he had gotten after getting out of jail after a few years. He’s somebody who is a practitioner of what has been made into an arcane art form. … There was a time when (a recording engineer’s) skills were prized and supported financially. … That stuff isn’t appealing to labels and distributors anymore, because it doesn’t offer them a huge net profit at the end of the day.”

The recording process of Never Twice was chaotic, to say the least. Things caught on fire. McHugh crashed Waterhouse’s van. And that’s just for starters.

“It was very complicated, and to be honest, on my end, a harebrained scheme that blew up in my face—and I made it out with singed hair and no eyebrows,” Waterhouse said. “I really assembled a dream team. I wrote out a list of people I wanted to work with to make the best-sounding record, and from the beginning, there was so much behind the scenes. The keys player I had rehearsed all these songs with, for months before we started to record, got offered a very big gig and is now in the band Dawes. … It forced me to create a new dynamic and bring in an organ player every day.

“During the sessions, Michael (McHugh) showed some early warning signs of what he was later diagnosed with, which was paranoid schizophrenia. That was quite insane—literally. We were in a room with a lot of equipment held together with chewing gum and paper clips, and it was chaotic and a circus-like atmosphere, and it all got done. But toward the end, it felt like I was going into ‘lost album’ territory, where I knew I had captured all these recordings and couldn’t finish the mixing. It felt like it was cursed.”

Nick Waterhouse is signed with Innovative Leisure Records, which puts him among some rather interesting acts, such as BADBADNOTGOOD, Hanni El Khatib, Bass Drum of Death and Classixx.

“I signed with them the first week they were established as a company, so I feel like I helped build the foundation for their brand,” Waterhouse said. “They were telling me their vision, and the two artists they had were me and Hanni. They were proprietors of this new Southern California eclecticism. I thought that made more sense to me than going with a heritage or retro-leaning label.”

I own some of Waterhouse’s recordings on both CD and vinyl—and I notice a definite difference in the music on each format. He explained why.

“A lot of contemporary vinyl is cut from the same digital files CDs are made with,” he said. “Now, I make my records on analog tape, and analog tape is a match to the final format of vinyl. I’m cutting my records with someone who I trust and deeply respect who cuts a lacquer straight from the tapes. The sound never goes through a computer. Mastering for a CD or digital-audio file is radically different than mastering for vinyl, and that might be the difference you hear between the two. I decided when I made my records that I was going to make my records as I saw them, and gear them toward format. So I sat with a different engineer for the vinyl, and another for the compact disc.”

Waterhouse has been in the business since 2010, when he released his first single, “Some Place.” He said he now feels as if he’s established himself and has shaken off the “nostalgia act” classification.

“Going on tour no longer feels like the sole goal of the trip is to try to make a good first impression on people,” he said. “Now it’s more … engaging the people who have wanted to be part of my world and have returned for at least two shows. Fans know what they’re getting when they come to see me. For the first year or two, I suffered from this in-the-box syndrome and being classified as ‘for fans of Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones.’ Now I think it’s more people who know me as having a body of work. They’re the ones who are singing along, and it’s really rewarding and helps me feed off the fans and welcome others in.”

Nick Waterhouse will perform with SadGirl at 9 p.m., Friday, June 23, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Ziggy Marley is one of music legend Bob Marley’s sons—but his music is all his own.

Marley has incorporated traditional folk elements into his reggae music, and has collaborated with artists such as Jake Shimabukuro, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Jack Johnson and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea—among many others.

Marley is returning to Spotlight 29 at 8 p.m., Friday, June 16. During a recent phone interview, Marley explained why he does what he does.

“I keep it fresh by keeping an open mind and being humble,” Marley said. “It’s very inspiring to know what we do is something we are called upon to do. It’s always fresh, and there’s always a mission and a message behind what we’re doing. That’s what keeps me going—having a purpose.”

Even after winning eight Grammy Awards, Marley expressed a modest attitude regarding his career success.

“I don’t think I ever think about (success), because we’re still going to where we’re going,” he said. “We haven’t reached where we’re going yet. Where I am right now, I think of myself more as a human being than an artist, musician or singer. That is where my thoughts are on where I want to be.”

Marley’s latest, self-titled album is just as unique as his previous five solo albums. He explained what makes this one different.

“I went through some personal issues and dealt with some wider issues from a people perspective,” he said. “I would think that’s the biggest difference with this album.”

Charity is a big part of Marley’s life—something he’s been involved in since he was born.

“We started out doing charity when we were really young with our mother and father,” Marley said. “Charity is about that human thing I’ve been talking about. Sometimes, love is more giving than material things are. Sometimes, love is a charity, too. We formed an organization called U.R.G.E., which stands for Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment. We try to focus on children, because for the world to get better, the children need a broader and positive consciousness about living together as human beings.”

And now for something completely different: Marley recently collaborated with Man of Action writer Joe Casey and artist Jim Mahfood on a graphic novel/comic titled Marijuanaman. Marley laughed as he discussed it.

“That was so much fun. When I was growing up and going to school in Jamaica, I used to buy comics,” Marley said. “When the teacher was teaching, I was drawing in my notebook. I always tried to draw Batman and other superheroes. When I had the chance to work with Joe Casey and Jim Mahfood, I had the idea for the comic book dream of mine. We put a message behind it, and the title of it sort of makes me laugh. He’s not a stereotypical stoner dude; he’s a hero, and he represents the plant itself. So there’s a message behind the comic as well.”

Of course, the name Marley is semi-synonymous with Rastafarianism and marijuana. Marley said he is happy marijuana legalization is starting to occur in America.

“I think it’s the right step, because it’s a plant of many practical uses,” he said. “It’s medicinal, and it’s recreational for some people. I think it’s right to stop putting people in jail for using it and to stop criminalizing people. That is also a good thing for humanity. But that side of the plant is only one side of it—and the next side is the hemp side. We’re talking about the industrial uses of the plant now. So many trees are cut down to make paper. … There would be no more deforestation, because hemp could replace that easily.”

Marley started his musical career with his siblings Stephen, Sharon and Cedella as Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. While they split as a group in 2002, Marley said the future could bring a reunion.

“It’s better when it’s together,” he said. “Hopefully, one day we can do it again.”

Marley said his show at Spotlight 29 will not be the same as the concert he played at the Coachella casino in May 2016.

“It’ll be a little more serious, and I’ll be experimenting more this time,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes. But it’ll be a different show this time.”

Ziggy Marley will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, June 16, at Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, in Coachella. Tickets are $46 to $76. For tickets or more information, call 760-775-5566, or visit www.spotlight29.com.

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