Fast Romantics Interview with Noteworthy

fast romantics
Photo credit: Jen Squires

Ivan of Noteworthy here again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM at uicradio.org). Make sure to mark your calendar for this Wednesday, June 28. Fast Romantics, an indie rock band out of Toronto with a flair for big Springsteen-style hooks, will be performing at Township (2200 N. California Ave.) in support of their latest album, American Love. I spoke with lead singer/guitarist Matthew Angus through e-mail (pictured 3rd from right) about love in times of political turmoil and rebuilding the band.

Noteworthy: For folks who may be hearing about you for the first time, tell us the origin of the name Fast Romantics.

The name Fast Romantics precedes this band.  It was the result of a brainstorming session we had in the very first version of the [group] many years ago. We just locked ourselves in a room and came out with those words. There’s no meaning behind it really. But when we reformed Fast Romantics a couple of years ago with all these new members, we decided to keep the moniker, and now it’s just one of those meaningless names you give to anybody. Like “The Beatles” or … “Fred.”

NW: The band got its start in Calgary and you recently filmed the video for “Alberta” there during a tour off day spent visiting family and friends. What is one surprising thing about the town that most people wouldn’t know about it?

Calgary is known for the Calgary Stampede and most people in America picture it as full of cowboy hats and boots and rodeos and farms but really it’s nothing like that at all. It’s become a pretty cosmopolitan town with a lot of amazing subcultures and a thriving music scene.

NW: Another American Love track, “Why We Fight” was recently played during a broadcast of this year’s NHL playoffs. What was that moment like and do you have any all-time favorite players from the Calgary Flames?

It did, that was a trip. As Canadians, having your song open up a hockey playoff game is kinda like playing the Grammys, it’s a big deal y’know. You’re talking to a band of mostly Toronto Maple Leafs fans, believe it or not, but Jeff’s still holding out for the Flames. Me personally, even though I’m a Leafs fan, you gotta love former Flame Lanny McDonald. Not only was he a badass hockey player but I went to school with his daughter and met him a bunch, and he’s just a super nice guy. Continue reading “Fast Romantics Interview with Noteworthy”

The Dr. Paula Show, Tuesday 6/27 At 11 AM: Dr. Andrew Boyd

Andrew BoydThe June 27th airing of the Dr. Paula Show will feature Dr. Andy Boyd, M.D. Dr. Boyd will be talking with Dr. Paula about what the term “health informatics” means, how it can be used to address issues of low health literacy in diverse patient populations, and will also discuss some of the research he is currently working on in the area of patient engagement.

Dr. Boyd is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences. He was awarded the 2015 UIC Researcher of the Year in Clinical Sciences, Rising Star award for his contribution to the field of Health Informatics.  He serves on the UIC senate, and is a member of the Information Technology Governance Research Committee. He has been a PI, Co-PI, Co-I on numerous grants from the NIH, DOD, and private foundations. Dr. Boyd’s research focuses on “data simplification to improve clinical outcomes” engaging administrators, researchers and patients.

If you have any suggestions for topics or interviews you would like to hear on the Dr. Paula Show, let us know! Contact Brienne Lowry at bdavis7@uic.edu.

The Dr. Paula Show, Tuesday 6/13 At 11 AM: Dr. Robert Molokie

DID YOU KNOW JUNE 19TH IS WORLD SICKLE CELL DAY?

To learn more about this SCD, click here

molokieThe next Dr. Paula Show features Dr. Robert Molokie, Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology in the UIC Department of Medicine. The show will air on June 13th at 11:00 AM. He will be sharing his thoughts on his role at the UIC Sickle Cell Center, how health literacy of patients impact their treatment and outcomes and Health Injustice in patients with Sickle Cell and how to reduce them.

Dr. Molokie is an Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology in the UIC Department of Medicine.  He received his medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and continued on to complete an internal medicine residency at the University as well. He then went on to complete a hematology/oncology fellowship at Loyola University Medical Center. He was awarded the Regional Top Doctor by Castle Connolly in 2014. His area of interest is sickle cell anemia. He is also a Co-Investigator on the NIH funded study on chronic pain in adults with sickle cell disease.

If you have any suggestions for topics or interviews you would like to hear on the Dr. Paula Show, let us know! Contact Brienne Lowry at bdavis7@uic.edu.

Blues and News: Kingston Mines Interview

Kingston Mines Logo

For my upcoming show on Sunday, May 21st, I will be airing an interview with Donna and Lisa Pellegrino from the Kingston Mines Blues Club. During our conversation, we discussed some of the club’s history and impact on the Chicago Blues Scene. Coincidentally, I interviewed them during the club’s 49th year anniversary.

Kingston Mines is owned by Dr. Lenin ‘Doc’ Pellegrino, who will be celebrating his 92nd birthday this August. The club originally was founded in 1968 by a group of individuals as a non-profit organization called the Kingston Mines Theatre Company located at 2356 North Lincoln Avenue. The theatre offered a variety of acts and entertainment, including musical productions, poetry readings, Blues music, Folk Music and more.  In fact, the original version of “Grease” the musical was premiered at the Kingston Mines Theatre.

The live Blues music proved to be the most successful at the Theatre. Eventually, the original founders parted ways with the theatre and pursued their interests through different routes. ‘Doc’ purchased the rights to the club in 1972. In the early 1980’s the Kingston Mines relocated to its new location at 2548 N. Halsted Street. Many Blues Legends have performed at the Kingston Mines, including but not limited to Koko Taylor, Magic Slim, Valerie Wellington, and Eddie Shaw just to name a few. I should also mention that a lot of rock stars tend to stop by the club. The Rolling Stones were frequent visitors and even would perform live on stage. If you go to the club today, some of the artists you will find include Billy Branch, Vance Kelly, Mike Wheeler, Joanna Connor, Nellie Travis, Nora Jean Bruso.

Kingston Mines Outside

Part of the Kingston Mines’ great success as a long-standing Blues Club is their ability to attract a diverse audience of all types.

Sunday – Thursdays, college students (and faculty) can get into the club for free. Fridays- Saturdays, college students(and faculty) can get a discounted rate. You need a valid ID for the discounted rates, and you must be 21 years or older to go to Kingston Mines.  They offer two bands on two different stages, every night.

Kingston Mines is open every day of the year (including holidays).  They are located at 2548 N. Halsted Street. For more information about the Kingston Mines, then you can visit their website at www.KingstonMines.com.

Doc Pellegrino is an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In February of 2004, Doc was awarded the “City Partner Award” from the University of Illinois Alumni Association for his “outstanding contribution to the vitality of the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Chicago Metropolitan Area. His daughter Lisa Pellegrino and son, Frank Pellegrino are also UIC Alumni.

Make sure you tune into Blues and News with Brother Jacob this Sunday, May 21st from 6 pm – 8 pm (CST) for the full interview with Donna and Lisa Pellegrino.

A Working Spring

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

Three jobs and twenty one credit hours have kept me off of UIC Radio’s front page this semester, much to the dismay of my twelve readers (I ❤ you guys & gals). A busy spring also kept Nick V, Cheech, and me from sitting down in the same room together for about two months. When we finally found overlapping free time, we spent the better part of two hours animatedly talking about Syria, Chicago’s water, and the prison system. But between catching up and conversations eventually bleeding into politics, I managed to ask a few questions and listen to some phenomenal answers.

I wanted to interview the FreeFAM founders for a second time. Last fall, they’d impressed me with their business-minded approach to their genre. Without sacrificing individuality and independence, they seek to create a brand to support all kinds of artists. Coming from a city with a music culture that’s very “out-for-yourself,” their message is refreshing. FAM is in the name.

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

 

An obligatory catch-up is needed first, as these guys have not sat still since the last time they visited UIC Radio’s studio. They’ve been playing gigs, traveling, and working with producers like CB Mix, credited on Chance’s Coloring BookThey’re working with LRG to create clothing and Pat Banahan of Lost TV to make videos. The group just released a music video for Bless the Bottles, (my personal favorite so far) featuring the same BMW I8 King Louie and Vonmar used in their own video. They even played a show at College of DuPage, which only sounds mildly impressive until you learn COD won’t back anyone without a tax ID and business number. They even have a website. FreeFAM is officially in business.

On Tuesday, I asked Nick V and Cheech about branding. I wanted to know what audience FreeFAM would draw as a full-blown music label complete with t-shirts and dispensaries. Both brothers said “local” immediately. They don’t want to limit themselves to Chicago, but their focus is building up a platform to support all members of music production. Their circle includes engineers and videographers, animators, and even a few family members for legal counsel. The want anyone who’s drawn to an image of family, brothers, positive moves, and a platform that’s there to serve their clients. Cheech commented that “non-threatening artists” are what resonate in Chicago today.

 

Nick said he wants people with energy. “Energy to party, to help, to create.” He’s got a vision of FreeFAM as a charity and force for good in Chicago. We inevitably broke into ranting about senators and bills, but Nick had a ton to say about water quality. It was endearing and inspiring and had me walking home thinking how one could add water filters to a music label…But that’s beside the point.

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

I asked about brands that could “make or break” an artist. Lil Wayne and Cash Money were brought up, as was Future, who got in a legal battle with his manager and was forced to release two albums ahead of time so he could start making his own money. Some artists get caught promoting BS; Cheech brought up the Fyre Festival flop. But Jay-Z’s own streaming website was mentioned as a positive. “It all depends on if a brand will encourage or control you,” Nick told me. A label obviously wants a return on investment and will have to control an artist’s image if money is lost. So who’s got their label working for them? Cheech laughed at this thought and brought up Kanye. “His label has been taking so much money from his music. Someone’s been making 50% off all of his songs.”

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Photo courtesy of Lost TV.

Controlling the artist is beyond the aims of the Freedom Family. Both brothers explained respect for their artist is the only reason they’d sign someone, and there’s no need to control someone they respect. They don’t intend to cultivate a brand that interferes with music production or limits the evolution and development of an artist.

“At the end of the day, music is the most important. But music won’t be heard without branding.” Other groups have PR people to handle web pages, social media, and scheduling. But for FreeFAM, “It’s just me and Cheech,” Nick says. The work is taking a toll; Nick V’s been off social media and left with what sounds like carpal tunnel in his hands and a prescription for range-of-motion exercises. “Shouldn’t be constantly posting, anyway,” he admitted. I told him not to worry about it. “It’s always nice to hear from family.”

 

Have a Scien-tastic Day!

American Rage and Suburban Malaise: A Study of the Urban Punk Underground

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Martha’s Got a Limp Wrist (Photo by Christian Contreras)

This piece has been censored for the UIC Radio blog.

It’s difficult to write about punk without draining it of its chaos.

The greatest punk shows are soaked in sweat and blown into the red. The best punk lyrics are incomprehensible, the best punk venues include a highly suspect dirty mattress in the corner, and the best punk showgoer is one who will sweat all over you, push you into other strangers, scream in your face, and then let you bum a cigarette at the end of the night. When writing about punk neglects to include that sense of disorder and entropy, you get sterile talk of what is, above all, the art of violent, cathartic release.

When I was a teenager, DIY punk shows in Chicago were my safe haven. Growing up gay, there are very few spaces in which you know that you’re not the only outcast- which isn’t to say that I was some sort of hunchbacked adolescent hermit, but when you come out of the closet early, there’s a very thin line you have to walk, knowing all the eyes that rest on you. Getting drunk, then moshing and screaming and sweating in trashed apartments on the weekends was just the sort of chaotic release I needed to keep from cracking under the pressure.

There’s an energy at every great punk show that finds its way up your spine and lets you know you aren’t the only one who just needs a f*cking break. There are systems in place working against all of us- some more complicated or institutionalized than others- but the fun of a punk show is sourced from the moment it allows for young, frustrated, bored, and fed up people to stop needing to think for a while.

Eventually though, you stop being seventeen years old and it’s no longer socially acceptable to struggle through an Aquafina bottle full of whiskey, sweat through your shirt and make out with a high schooler at the end of the night.

Continue reading “American Rage and Suburban Malaise: A Study of the Urban Punk Underground”

The Dr. Paula Show, Re-airing Interview with Dr. Mona Khanna

monaThe Dr. Paula Show will be re-airing our interview with Dr. Mona Khanna, M.D on Tuesday, May 16th at 11 AM. She will be sharing her thoughts on the delivery of health services and information to the incredibly diverse populations, the importance and challenges involved in providing the public with clear and accurate information and the challenges experienced while promoting health literacy in terms of patient care.

Dr. Mona is a triple board-certified medical doctor and an Emmy award-winning medical journalist who is committed to making a difference in the lives of others through raising health literacy and promoting healthy behaviors. Dr. Mona attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and then went on to medical school at the University of Illinois, where she is now a Visiting Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and Associate in the Center for Global Health. After completing medical school and three specialty residencies, she became one of the country’s youngest medical directors. She left executive medicine in 2002 with the goal of empowering patients through health education on television as a medical reporter. She travels annually on medical missions and is an acclaimed humanitarian and disaster volunteer for which she has been recognized with the 2013 American College of Physicians Volunteerism Award . At Ground Zero on September 11th , Dr. Mona became the first physician to report from the frontlines of a disaster site while providing care. She reported from New York after Superstorm Sandy, Port-au-Prince after the Haiti earthquake, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and Indonesia after the Indian Ocean tsunami. Dr. Mona has received more than 50 honors in the past decade, including five Emmy Award nominations, the Award of Valor from the National Association of Minority Media Executives and the Leadership Award from the American Medical Association Foundation. She has hosted and co-produced two award-winning ½-hour medical specials “Diagnosis: Cancer,” and “Cheap Medicine: Mexico’s Medications.” She has empowered people across the globe through television, radio, magazine, newspaper and online heath reports as well as her work as an emergency volunteer, and is a popular event speaker on health disparities, leadership, public health, emergency preparedness, humanitarianism, and medicine and the media.

Do you have an idea for a Dr. Paula Show topic? Is there someone you would like to hear interviewed on the topic of health literacy? Share you suggestions with us! Contact Brienne Lowry at bdavis7@uic.edu.

The Dr. Paula Show, Tuesday 05/02 At 11 AM: Dr. Susan Magasi

susanThe next Dr. Paula Show will feature Dr. Susan Magasi, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy in the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences. The show will air on Tuesday, May 2nd at 11 AM. She will be sharing her thoughts on her research project, the implications of her research in terms of Health Literacy and how her research methods are beneficial to people with disabilities.

Dr. Susan Magasi is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy in the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences. Her work focuses on qualitative methodology, knowledge translation and health care equity for people with disabilities. Her work is conducted in collaboration with renowned researchers and disability advocates, with the purpose of improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. She has developed a national and international reputation as a qualitative methodologist and health disparities expert, and was a recipient of the 2016 UIC Researcher and Scholar of the Year Rising Star award.

Do you have an idea for a Dr. Paula Show topic? Is there someone you would like to hear interviewed on the topic of health literacy? Share you suggestions with us! Contact Brienne Lowry at bdavis7@uic.edu.

“It’s A U S T E N, With A Space Between Each Letter.”

“In the write-up, how’d you like me to refer to you?”

“See, that’s a little complicated now.”

Austen Nobles has been making music since we met in 6th grade. He’s been writing and performing as “Nobility” as long as I can remember. He’d release tracks that sound so professional, no one would expect a high school student had anything to do with their production, much less author every aspect himself.

On February 20th, I met the further improved A U S T E N.

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Photo courtesy of A U S T E N.

 

Austen finished his degree in Recording Arts at Tribeca Flashpoint College. He produces beats to match his own lyrics, or at the request of other musicians. His own lyrical strength is in verses. He laughs as he admits it’s too bad, because choruses are what make you like songs. He’s always been good at free-styling, but we both felt awkward just calling his music ‘rap.’ So we talked about it. He sighed and spoke honestly: “It’s a joke to say you’re a rapper; you come off like a try-hard.” We moaned about Soundcloud-pushing artists, but Austen admits you don’t need to be signed anymore, if you can build your own fan base. And no, that’s not easy, and yes, I have no shame.

Austen produces for different artists based on reference tracks. He tells me a lot of beats get made and never used. But they always get finished. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’ll stop working when a track is technically complete. “I was going to release a song for Valentine’s Day,” he said, “but it’s still not good enough.”

I hate asking the question “what are your influences?” because it’s so plain. Thankfully Austen had interesting answers which managed to save this part of the write-up.

The first name mentioned was Childish Gambino. I was giggling and said he and Donald are both quintessential “Black Nerds,” and added if I’d had to guess his favorite influence, that’s who I’d have picked. Austen laughed and explained. “I really just relate to Donald Glover. If you’re a suburban black kid, you probably really like Childish Gambino.”

*Pause for 12 minutes of fawning over Atlanta.

“Childish Gambino expresses insecurity in his songs, and that’s relatable,” Austen continued. He added that we’re bored of the overconfident theme. Austen tries to portray a mix of some confidence and some insecurity in his music. “Where I’m at now, I could make sexy songs but I don’t feel comfortable doing that with my style just yet,” he smiled.

“So no ‘Adult Music’?”

“No ‘Adult Music’ here.”

I pressed him to elaborate on style: “Your music is nostalgic and fun. You have such a range and it’s not every day you find a rap song you just enjoy listening to. How did you manage to do that?” Immediately, Austen gives credit to his upbringing. He had plenty of exposure to indie, folk, metal, 80’s, you name it, and a love for different genres shows in his imaginative tracks. “Taste,” he says, “is the give-away that you’re new to this.” An artist unsure of their style won’t cross genres and their music feels limited. Austen continued, “You’re either a niche artist or you’re an evolution artist. I am—at least—I’m aspiring to be an evolution artist so my music can change.”

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Austen at the Music Garage, Summer of 2016. Photo courtesy of A U S T E N & Taylor Nettnin

I looked down at my paper for the next question.

“How’s your foot?”

Austen leaned his head back and covered his eyes with his hand. He grinned.

“It’s better.”

The last time I saw Austen perform, he had kicked off the brace holding a stress fracture together so he could dance. “Did it hurt? Yeah. But there’s this thing called adrenaline,” he added simply. I hate to say the risk of him getting hurt was worth it, but that was one hell of a performance. I didn’t know rap could be so engaging to watch live. He obviously cared a lot about how he performed, so I asked him why.

To him, gigs are a lesson. “What worked? What didn’t? Like, I learned which songs the crowd participates with and which ones not perform.”

“How do you tell an artist has experience based on their performance?”

“They’re calm. They already know how to capitalize on moments in a song, but they won’t look rehearsed. Each time performing feels fresh.” Austen earns this by treating each performance like it’s his last, and cited that sage advice was from his dad.

I sure would like to tell you about Austen’s unfinished songs I got to preview, but that’s not for me to disclose. I will say I’m excited and I’m really feeling the perks that come with writing for college radio.

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Photo courtesy of A U S T E N.

When my questions had been exhausted, we wandered around campus catching up. I made Austen do something I like to call “The BSB Challenge.” We walked into the center of the Behavioral Sciences Building and I asked him to find a random numbered classroom. After 20 minutes in the riot-proof, unfinished, Brutalist cement trap the Flames call home, there was no sign of Room 357 and we were in need of some fresh air. We did make it onto the roof though, and what BSB lacks in aesthetic, it makes up in location.

Humble to the end, Austen stood staring at the skyline and said, “I’m really not one for photos, and I hate to ask, but this view is so good.”

“No worries! And it’s not just good, it’s un-BEAT-able.”

“Just take the picture.”

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Photo courtesy of Jamie Leigh.

Have a Scien-tastic Day!

 

What Is A VenoSci And How Does It Chiptunes?

Nothing like dancing your feet through a fog machine and cutting your hands through flashing neon lights to clear up your writer’s block.
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I was lucky enough to learn about a show put on by MILKSHAKES in combo with Rora TEAM, an online label that deals with creative DJs and EDM composers. The event took place in the Digital Art Demo Space and featured artists from New York to California. Each performance was accompanied by customized visuals projected on a screen behind the stage, accentuating every turn and change in the music like an accompanying instrument. The team behind the visuals, lights, and smooth-running set ups of the show made the night beautiful.
At the expense of journalistic integrity, I’m going to play favorites. I couldn’t complain about any performer, but three really stood out.
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Photo courtesy of Rora Team & MILKSHAKES
First up is Brackets. When she got behind the table, I recognized her as the gal who got the crowd jumping even before her performance; her dancing  was practically contagious. Her set was high-powered and loaded with variety and tons of crowd-pleasing references. Also worth mentioning: she’s a Chicago native and Rora TEAM co-founder. If Brackets can find the time, she says she’s down for an interview and a visit to UIC Radio. No clever segue here, just click the brackets for the sound cloud: [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
Though a tough act to follow, Brackets had no weight on Skinny McToothpick. His white hair and neon jacket gave the impression of a radioactive cartoon character. The music only contributed. So much energy packed into each brilliantly composed song kept everyone on their toes. You know when a performer gets so pulled into their work and enjoys them self so much, it makes you feel good just watching? Skinny McToothpick was more of a performer behind the table than most instrumental musicians and singers I’ve watched. I’m surprised he had the energy to rejoin the crowd and keep dancing after his set. See for yourself!
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Photo courtesy of VenoSci
The real reason I attended was to watch a good friend of mine, VenoSci AK(to me)A Aaron. I’m very lucky that the people I grew up with pursued their creative passions and then invite me to their performances. It’s been amazing, watching my friend improve and develop his music, but personally, I’m thankful it hasn’t changed too much since the shows he’d put on in high school.
What was that about journalistic integrity? Ah, yes. My unbiased review:
VenoSci makes chiptunes, and if you aren’t familiar with the genre, it’s well worth looking up. Here’s his Soundcloud for you to stream while finishing this article. Anyone who says DJing isn’t performance art obviously hasn’t seen this artist in action. VenoSci performs like the buttons he presses on his set up send electricity up his arms and moves with his music like he’s modeling for the crowd how to dance to his compositions. No wonder he describes performing as sweaty, exciting, and fun. During the show, he used a few pieces of Toy Box’s “Best Friend” and let the audience sing along. He even left the table and danced with the crowd to his own creation.
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Photo courtesy of VenoSci
VenoSci rocked the house and then agreed to be interviewed for UIC Radio. What a fabulous Saturday for this blogger!
Asking him to explain how his set up works to a non-tech, non-video game savvy person was an awkward inquiry, but he managed to get his process across. He uses 2 original Nintendo Gameboys, 1 Korean GP2X handheld, and a PsP 1000. Aaron added that, “since some of this equipment is over 20 years old at this point, things often go wrong: devices crash, SD cards aren’t recognized, batteries die frequently… It’s always an adventure having to maintain a quality set and also to troubleshoot hardware on the fly.”
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Photo courtesy of omicrono.elespanol.com

 

To make music on his Gameboy, he uses a special cartridge. Rather than containing a game, it contains a piece of custom music software. This allows the artist to control the sound card directly: “I can sequence out full songs which I then playback live. I use similar methods for playing back songs on my GP2X, but instead of synthesis, I sequence samples.”
What always amazes me is Aaron’s ability to make music feel nostalgic and classic, though it’s most at home among modern EDM genres. He credits this to the “built-in ‘nostalgic’ feel” in his software, as it’s an original Gameboy. He explained the soundcard is 100% stock, so the same soundcard has produced soundtracks to Pokemon and Zelda, two games our generation knows pretty well, even if we only got to watch our older brothers play them.
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Photo courtesy of VenoSci.
Aaron cites Japanese dance music as his biggest inspiration, mentioning Maltine Records, MadMilky Records, and artists like Tofubeats and Perfume. Combining these more complicated influences within the comforting 8-bit framework of the Gameboy is Aaron’s main challenge and inspiration. It ensures his music stands out while making his audience cheer.
I left the venue Saturday night with a hug and a promise that I’d be the first to know when he was on deck for his next show. That means you’ll be the second.
Have a VenoSci-en-tastic Day!