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NTMF Cube Stage 2019

NTMF 2019: Northern Touch Music Festival is the Real Deal

Northern Touch Music Festival is a Godsend for Indie Artists

NTMF 2019 was held in the historic Exchange District of Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

NTMF 2019

Photo by Kris Regacho

Winnipeg is known for a lot of things. It is known for it’s diversity, it boasts the largest percentage of Filipino population in North America, among an array of other cultures from Aboriginal to Scottish. 

But, there is a new culture emerging in Winnipeg, that not many people outside of “Peg City” are aware of.

This culture is called Hip-Hop.

However, I have to mention that Winnipeg did have one of the dopest Hip-Hop groups in independent hip-hop in Winnipeg’s Most, who repped Aboriginals and the streets hard as hell. 

Winnipeg's Most

Winnipeg’s Most

Unfortunately, tragedy befell the group in 2013 when one of its members, Jon-C was arrested after a police raid yielded drugs. One of Winnipeg Most’s other members, Brooklyn, passed in 2015. The third member, Charlie Fettah, is still active as a solo act. 

Fast-forward to 2017, and Hip-Hop is alive and prospering in Canada. In the U.S., the first name we think of when associating Hip-Hop in Canada is Drake. 

However, Canada is a huge country outside of Toronto, and its population’s have the same urban and life experiences as we have here in the States. Those experiences are what define Hip-Hop, and make it music’s most diverse genre. 

The amount of Hip-Hop activity happening in Canada is impossible to measure using the Richter scale. There is a large-magnitude quake looming in the near future, Canadians. It will be felt from Nova Scotia to Ontario. It will rattle car trunks and graffiti murals painted on brick walls in Alberta and Manitoba. 

When seismologists are finally able to pinpoint its source, they will find it’s epicenter in Winnipeg.

In the Exchange District.

NTMF 2019

Northern Touch Music Festival (NTMF) was founded in 2017, by Shea Malcolmson. Shea himself is a Hip-Hop artist and visionary, who goes above and beyond to ensure that Hip-Hop becomes a staple of Winnipeg culture.

Shea Malcolmson

Shea Malcolmson  Photo by Ambush Vin

This is how their website describes the Festival: 

NTMF was created with the same DIY spirit, drive & resilience that helped shape Canadian hip-hop into what it has become today. 

We pay homage to the pioneers of Canadian hip-hop and guide ourselves using the same principles of our past artists and cultural trailblazers, to grow the Canadian industry and create tangible opportunities for artists seeking self-development. 

We put artist education first, we break down barriers to accessibility and we empower artists.

I can sum up my NTMF experience with three words:

Dope As F—.

There was a smorgasbord of artists and bands performing at the Festival. It was mostly Hip-Hop, but the best aspect of NTMF was the amount of positive and loving vibes in the air between artists of different genres and cultures! 

NTMF Cube Stage 2019

Photo by David Marcus

Globally, Hip-Hop is associated with violence and bad manners in general. 

The world looks for a reason to justify violence and disregard for the rule of law in impoverished communities. Hip-Hop was found in those communities, and is the vehicle that we use to tell the stories of those communities. 

People who demonize Hip-Hop music choose to “drink the Kool-Aid” and ignore the many injustices that are exposed via an Artist’s lyrics. These same injustices end in long prison sentences or tragedy in urban communities. Although Hip-Hop has evolved to become inclusive of all cultures, it is still considered to be a characteristic of bad behavior and criminal activity.   

NTMF proved the last three paragraphs to be an overused stereotype. 

Shea and the NTMF Staff managed to get Artists and Attendees of different cultures, from different environments and lifestyles together for a fun-filled weekend, even in the presence of plenty of alcohol and yes…marijuana (which is 100% legal in Canada!).

I was very impressed that NTMF was actually about Artist Empowerment, Growth, and Showcase. 

A lot of festivals that I attend are obvious cash grabs: poorly organized, a couple of artists with recognizable names to draw people in and justify their outrageous ticket prices. In some cases, they even charge the Artist a performance fee to perform one song. They offer nothing that contributes to Artist growth or knowledge.

NTMF hosted an array of seminars that were designed to empower and arm artists with knowledge that would further their careers. The best part of these seminars is that they offered first-hand knowledge, given by NTMF 2019 Delegates who have all found success in the music industry. 

NTMF 2019 Seminar

Photo by Ambush Vin

These seminars taught everything from Sync/Licensing to Social Media Management. The delegates also took time to speak to all of the hungry artists and answer questions. As an artist myself, I can say that I left with a lot of knowledge that I did not have!

The seminars were only the tip of the platter. There were so many Artist and Resource networking opportunities at NTMF, that two weeks later, I am still sorting through business cards, pluggers, and CDs. 

Meanwhile, at the Cube Stage, the lit performances continued peacefully, and the Beer Garden was overflowing. The food trucks were on deck, and Smoke’s Poutinerie was only a few steps away from the Cube Stage, ready to serve Canada’s best poutine to anyone who was hungry (and they had vegetarian options. A plus for me!).

NTMF Beer Garden

Photo by Ambush Vin

 

Another aspect of the live performances I was impressed by was the excellent, crisp sound. We’ve all been to THOSE concerts before right? When I say those, I mean THOSE shows where you hear the background music, but not the artist.

Dave and Jonathon, the A/V guys, did an excellent job ensuring that wasn’t the case with any of the performances at the Cube Stage or the aftersets. Speaking of sound, the DJs: Benz, Disspare, Henny, P.O.W., Kilma, and NTMF President DJ Bunny did a hell of a job cueing everyone’s music and keeping the party turned up in between performances. 

Winnipeg DJ Benz

DJ Disspare

DJ Disspare    Photo by David Marcus

DJ Kilma

DJ Kilma   Photo by Ambush Vin

It was extremely hard for my associate photographers, David Marcus and Kris, to focus on shooting photos for this article, because we were vibing to this huge array of artists that we hadn’t heard before. 

I vibed to artists like Gatson, whose lyrics painted such a vivid picture of The Struggle – caps intended – that I found myself reminiscing about my existence as a “Food Stamp” kid, tempted by the false sense of glamour that the drug game offered. 

Gatson

Gatson    Photo by Ambush Vin

Another artist, Dr. Duru, almost made me drop my camera, because I was so turnt! His performance was so lit, I forgot that I really can’t dance, and found myself bouncing in the field everywhere. 

Dr Duru

Dr Duru    Photo by Ambush Vin

Hip-Hop wordsmith Wordburglar came from Nova Scotia to give an energetic performance about his friend’s older brother, a bully who did strange things like watch Blade Runner and play Altered Beast.

Wordburglar

Wordburglar    Photo by Ambush Vin

Cypha Diaz murdered his performance, even accepting a random audience member’s challenge to a freestyle battle after his set.

EPDMC and Jeffrey slayed the audience with some of the best bars Nova Scotia has to offer, prompting Shea to call the Fire Department to put the flames out on the Cube Stage when their performance was over. 

EPDMC

EPDMC    Photo by Ambush Vin

Jeffrey

Jeffrey    Photo by Ambush Vin

Just Kidding. 

I was captivated by Boog Brown’s performance. A Detroit native, she proved that she could stand toe-to-toe with the best names with the bars that she spit.

Boog Brown

Boog Brown    Photo by Ambush Vin

And that guy, Ambush Vin was, well…

Ambush Vin

Ambush Vin     Photo by Kris Regacho

One of my most memorable moments was being introduced to the music of singers Courtney Devon (Amadians) and Kenzie Jane. These ladies combined to give a Woodstock-worthy performance on stage that would later on have me and my “tour guide” Harvey walking from the Cube Stage to see them perform at Canada Day at the Forks. 

Courtney Devon Kenzie Jane

Courtney Devon and Kenzie Jane    Photo by Ambush Vin

(For those of us who don’t live in Winnipeg, think walking from the Mandalay Bay to Freemont…twice.) 

There were so many great artists, that I would have to dedicate more space than AltWire would give me to name them all! 

Winnipeg’s mayor, Brian Bowman, even stopped by to show his support for the festival, and Hip-Hop, telling and showing people that Hip-Hop is an important part of Winnipeg’s diverse culture. I was impressed!

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, Shea, & Wordburglar     Photo by Ambush Vin

But, the show didn’t stop at the Cube stage, because, in the famous words of Jay-Z, after the show it’s the afterparty!

NTMF’s afterpartys were at Footw3rk Dance Club and The Royal Albert. There, I was introduced to more flame artists like Flamenco Sketch, Sir Louie, The Filthy Animals, Nappy, and Xplycit, who all gave phenomenal performances. 

Flamenco Sketch

Flamenco Sketch      Photo by Ambush Vin

As a special wrap-up performance, Shea gave an impressive, and unexpected, performance of his lit new content at The Royal Albert. It is worth mentioning that, Shea has a policy that he didn’t want to perform at his own event, that this was all about the artists. This was more of a thank you performance to the last few people who stayed until the final second. 

Shea

Photo by Ambush Vin

Although NTMF is really Shea’s creation, it felt more like it was all of our festival. In fact, NTMF didn’t just feel like a mere festival, it felt like I walked out of my front door, and entered the house through the back. 

Although I was over 900 miles away, Northern Touch Music Festival made me feel like I had never left home.

Check-Out our NTMF 2019 Wrap-Up Video on YouTube! Altwire NTMF Wrap-Up Video

Hear our interview with Shea and Pauline below!

Here are more pictures from NTMF 2019!

LEX the Lexicon Artist – “Raging Ego” Review

At some point in its short history, Hip-Hop became extremely diverse.

Back in the day, that means the late 80’s and 90’s for our readers who call Wiz Khalifa a throwback artist, Hip-Hop success was largely limited to artists who had “street-credibility.” Sure, there were artists who slipped through the cracks. Fresh Prince was probably one of the most notable artists who found success in Hip-Hop without compromising who he truly was.

Perhaps Will Smith held a crystal ball that could peer into the future. Or, maybe artists like himself and Shock G were actually Dungeon Masters from the 2010’s who traveled back in time, utilizing quantum mechanics to build a time machine to travel through dimensions to the late 1980’s to plant the seed of diversity in Hip-Hop. A place, which still exists because time is actually a dimension, and space is relative to time, meaning we’ve been bamboozled into thinking that time is a measurement.

Which brings me to the topic at hand…

LEX the Lexicon Artist

LEX is originally from Taiwan, but lives in Oakland, California. She considers herself to be a Nerdcore Hip-Hop Artist, but after listening to her new album, Raging Ego, it’s hard for me to place a label on the high-energy femcee.

This album does a great job of blending multiple genres together. If there was an alternative title for this album, it would be: Raging Gumbo – “a mix of styles, lyrics, and production that no one would expect to sound so great together, until you hear it and your ears craving for more of this delicious flavor.”

The album begins with a song whose lyrics stay true to the egocentric theme of the album, “Peep Game”.LEX sets the tone for the album by spitting game in a confident tone:

Ladies and gentlemen and nonconformists/

Please, direct your attention to my performance/

Now train your line of vision on me like the eye of Horus/

And you shall find that my metaphorical dong’s enormous

However, “Peep Game” also contains a motivational message for people who are frustrated and feel neglected by the very individuals they are trying to reach. As LEX says, “Confront your enemies by telling ’em to peep game”. Don’t be fooled by LEX‘s self-label of her album as a Hip-Hop album. This album is filled with Indie, Punk, and Rock overtones. A track that stands out as such is the Mikal kHill-produced“Psych Major”

On “Psych Major”, LEX the Psychologist informs her listeners:

I know exactly what you want, I know exactly what you need/

I know exactly where you’re from, I know exactly what you mean/

What?

Cause I’m a Psych major and I’m a mind-reading machine/ 

(Remind me not to attempt to fabricate anything while talking to LEX…’cause she’s a mind-reading machine!)

Other tracks like “Sales Freak” take a fun tone, as LEX, in true Oaktown fashion, touts her skills as a hustler and saleswoman who can make you “put your wallets in the air and wave ’em around like you just don’t care.” 

My favorite track on the album is “Mistakes” produced by IncooperativeThe irony of this song is genius, considering that it’s on an album called Raging Ego. LEX admits her mistakes, while apologizing for them at the same time:

I’m sorry to all the kids that I tormented/

Who never thought their childhood bully would be repentant/

I can tell you I will never know how much it hurt/

Would it make you feel better to know I got what I deserved?

I had to replay the song three times to actually listen to the lyrics, because her flow on this song rode the melodic production by Incooperative so well. I love a track that can incorporate the structure of classic Hip-Hop, and “Mistakes”does exactly that.

LEX is in her own lane with Raging Ego. Even if you aren’t a fan of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, this album will have replay value for listeners across all spectrums. It’s creative and diverse and the Lexicon artist shows off her skill and versatility on the project with confidence.

Do yourself a favor. Tomorrow morning when you wake up, put your ego to the side, and buy Raging Ego. WARNING: You’re going to buy it sooner or later anyways, when you go to a LEX the Lexicon Artist performance.

Don’t be surprised when your wallet is in the air.

Raging Ego releases June 6th, 2018. You can pre-order the album on Bandcamp HERE.

 

West End Trading Co 2017 NYE Bash

What a Way to End the Year! NYE Bash at West End Trading Co.

With streamers and champagne bottles, Sanford, Florida’s West End Trading Co. was the place to be at the end the year with their annual bash! 2017’s bash was kicked off by Flagman as they set the tone for a show headlined by Orlando-based alt-rock band, The Supervillains!

The entire line-up consisted of all local Central Florida bands!

Orlando based band, Dial Drive further drew in the crowd with their punk rock style. They truly know how to hype up the crowd for this NYE Bash!

Their bassist, Tim Bruder, who is also a vocalist for his band, Abandon the Midwest, and also the bassist for RushmoreFl stated, “It was a really fun night, filled with great friends, great music and a great way to ring in the new year!” 

A highlight of the night for me however, were when my good friends of The Trees of Life took the stage. I was saddened to find out that this set ,and their upcoming album release party will be their final sets that includes their original percussionist, Bobby Fields. This is due to him returning to school.

Their lead vocalist, James White stated, “It’s a positive parting of ways. He has been nothing but positive for the group and we wish him the best on his journey.” All of us on Altwire share this sentiment and we wish nothing but the best!

As the night further came to a close, The ProblemAddicts took the stage and their set included a metal twist on their cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me”. 

Another major highlight of the night for me is the support the bands give each other, which also included a humorous, yet very sweet display of bromance!

The crowd was all local fans as well as friends of the bands, which made for a very intimate setting for the show.

Finally came the most awaited moment of the night, our Orlando Superheroes, The Supervillains took on the stage.

2017 was their comeback after a 4-year-hiatus, with their latest album, “Nice Things”. They performed some of their new tracks and many of their classics, among them, my personal favorites, “Drinkin’ Tonight” and their covers of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” and Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out”.

For me, 2017 couldn’t have closed in a better way. I closed this chapter in my life, at West End’s NYE Bash, doing what I love the most and sharing it with the Altwire readers and family!

All Photos taken by Omayra Lopez. 

You can find all of the bands on their active social media below:

Flagman 

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1763550237250539&ref=content_filter

https://www.instagram.com/flagmanband

Dial Drive

https://m.facebook.com/DialDriveFL/

https://www.instagram.com/dial_drive

https://open.spotify.com/artist/2wTqdRxJaE1IBCF0vnHytb?si=l9tzv5glSMSjRJ79s0la2A

The Trees of Life

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=822085571198386&ref=content_filter

https://www.instagram.com/the_trees_of_life

https://open.spotify.com/artist/0e7U9tKuw0jEjmRxuVEvkF?si=sdD4tkgTTEeTjAHljIQdPg

The Problemaddicts

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=883572498393112&ref=content_filter

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5vpYhgrdNr5CGvzkDCPFFV?si=4RAFQja9S0KYv1FHcwaoDg

The Supervillains 

https://m.facebook.com/TheSupervillains/

https://www.instagram.com/supervillainsfl

https://open.spotify.com/artist/0LN8DYo6VtPVK0WQ3g6AXJ?si=p1pKGl66QReauo6giBNldA

AltWire Throwback Moment of the Day – Reggae Hitmaker Shaggy

On November 12th, 2017, I had the opportunity to watch Shaggy headline the third and final day of Cocoa, Florida’s second annual, Rootfire at the Park.

(cue “dreamy reminiscence” music)

Shaggy was the face of reggae in the early 90’s. Even though his popularity reached its peak in the early 2000’s, he can still draw a crowd of established fans as well a new generation of fans.

His set was opened up by New York based, reggae-dancehall group, RSNY, and he kicked off his set with his hit “Mr. Boombastic.”

That was also the kick-off to rehashes of my middle school and high school days when that song played on the radio, and I’d make my mixtapes. The flashbacks continued as he performed his other hits such as “Luv me, Luv me” which originally featured Janet Jackson, and his set would not have been complete without “Wasn’t Me” and “Angel”. In addition to his classic hits, he performed some of his newer tracks, among those, my personal favorite “I Need Your Love”.

As a teenager who grew up in the 90s and early 2000’s, to have watched Shaggy perform live for the first time in my adult life, this was a real treat, which I will never forget!

Be sure to catch Shaggy on tour. He’s currently getting ready to kick off 2018 in New Zealand and Australia.

Gasparilla Music Festival

Gasparilla Music Festival Reveals The Roots and Father John Misty as Headliners

The Gasparilla Music Festival presented by Cigar City Brewing have unveiled the initial lineup of acts that will be performing at the 7th Annual Gasparilla Music Festival taking place March 10-11, 2018 in downtown Tampa. More performers will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Roots will be headlining Saturday, March 10th and multiple 2018 Grammy® Award nominee, Father John Misty will be headlining Sunday March 11th.

Rounding out the early line up:

Spoon

Break Science (Live Band)

Mondo Cozmo

The Cave Singers

The War & Treaty

KOLARS

Eric Tessmer Band

Imagination Movers – headlining Kids Fest

GMF’18 will feature over 40 bands across 4 stages along Riverwalk in downtown Tampa. Each year the festival has grown in size and breadth with an eclectic assortment of music hand-picked to inspire as well as entertain. In addition to diversity of sounds, the Gasparilla Music Festival offers a variety of experiences including a wellness kickoff early Saturday morning. Last year,  the fest hosted its first everDubb Tenn Yoga and Ride the Park, a stationary bike ride which served as a fundraiser for GMF’s Recycled Tunes program.

The annual festival celebrates the Tampa community and culture with local culinary delights, activities for families, performances by local artisans, aerialists, crafters, dancers, drum circles, elaborate hair-braiders, double dutch jumpers, pop-up performers, marching bands and more. Once again, the fest within a fest Kids Fest will include the Glazer Children’s Museum where in addition to the activities  award winning Imagination Movers will perform and the entire museum will be open to the public with free admission.

 

Tickets to the festival are available at www.gmftickets.com

Gasperilla Music Festival

The Complex Dialect

AltWire’s Indie Song of the Week

This week’s Indie Song of the Week is The Complex Dialect’s – “Looking For A Friend For The End Of World”.

The song centers around the importance of having true human connection, not only when times are good, but even in those last moments when human civilization could come to an end.

Smooth vibes connect with our ears giving the track a hunting vibe, as Lola Campbell expresses the longing for companionship in the last days.

 

Jamiroquai – New Single/Video for ‘Summer Girl’

With a style and vibe reminiscent The Bee Gees, Jamiroquai’s latest single, “Summer Girl” is like taking a ride on a time machine into the Disco Era.

With lyrics  like:

“While every wolf is whistling
And every dog’s a fool
She knows they’re so bereft
Of everything she thinks is cool”

Jamiroquai makes a girl feel like she’s an empowered woman mingling at Studio 54 as she draws the attention of every cat wanting to take her to the dance floor!

This single is absolute dy-no-mite! If you’ve got that Saturday Night Fever, this song adds a modern twist to your 1970s themed party! Turn on your disco ball, throw on some bell bottoms and party like it’s 1979!

Trees of Life

AltWire presents: an interview with Trees of Life

Straight out of North Orlando, FL, The Trees of Life, comprised of:

Skylar Rush – Drum/Vocals

Bobby Fields – Percussion/Vocal

James White – Guitar/Lead Vocals

Tim Samples – Guitar

Dave Swanson – Bass

The trio brings a fusion of rock, reggae, funk, and blues to bring a unique collective sound. Their newly released EP, “Here We Grow” gives their audience a glimpse on their journey.

On November 11, 2017, they joined the lineup for Cocoa Florida’s 2nd annual Rootfire at the Park. They took the time out of their busy schedule to chat with our team about their life so far and their upcoming plans.

For our readers, and those who haven’t yet heard of you, can you please tell us a little about yourself, the band, and your musical style?

James: Music style-wise, every single member of the band comes from a different background. It’s kinda amazing to see guys from different styles of music in the past all come together to do this reggae-rock, jam band type of feel.

Tim’s got a blues background, he’s a dead head. Dave does metal and funk, Bobby, our percussionist was a lead singer for a band called Syllable 7 out in Baton Rouge, and they were a funky hip hop act. As far as a style, we all take influence from different places of the world.

At the end of the day being able to come together to play this type of music has been a truly beautiful experience to be able focus on a positive message and be able to jam at the same time.

Did you come from a musical background?

Skylar: I started playing the drums as a kid, much to my parents’ dismay at the time. (laughs) I couldn’t get beats and rhythms out of my head, and I just practiced as much as I could until it started to sound good.

Bobby: I don’t think anybody in my family ever played music prior to me, that I know of. But, there’s always a heavy respect and interest for it, so I grew up kinda submerged in it. Live music has always been an exciting thing for the people I grew up around but I think I might be the first to have gotten involved in it from a performance standpoint.

James: My dad was a lead guitar player, I completely refused it for the longest. I didn’t want to be like my old man at the time, we definitely butted heads when I was a kid. But, by the time I was 21 we became friends and rekindled the relationship. It only took til I was 15 or 16, and I picked up the bass and that’s where I started. This is my first time being a frontman. I’ve always had a supporting role as a guitarist or backup vocals.

How and when did you realize music was your calling?

Skylar: As soon as I picked up a pair of drumsticks I knew I was hooked. I knew there was nothing else for me.  It was always what I wanted to do, it’s where I feel most like myself, where I feel most at home. And, more importantly, where I feel most inspired, it’s music. As soon as I caught that feeling, that was it, I made my mind up.

Bobby: It comes and goes for me, kinda like schizophrenia does (laughs). I got pretty heavily involved in music in like 5th, 6th, and 7th grade, and then dropped for several years then got involved again after high school and then dropped it another few years and got involved again. Kinda split personality sort of thing but it’s always been inspiring and passionate whether I was performing on stage or watching from in front. It’s always been deep in my heart and soul for sure.

Which musical artists have inspired you?

James: The Beatles, Burton Cummings most recently a band called Dispatch. I think that’s the best part of the Trees Of Life, we’re not a reggae band, we’re not a rock band, we’re not a hip-hop group but we do have a little bit of all of those.

Skylar: For me personally, I fell in love with The Red Hot Chilli Peppers at a young age, like early Chilli Peppers when they were real funky and gritty. I love The Roots, Tribe Called Quest, classic hip hop, the Marleys, all the Marleys as far as reggae goes, Black Uhuru, even back to Al Green and some classics like Curtis Mayfield. Bobby and I have a similar taste in music.

Bobby: It’s pretty widespread for me, from classics to jam bands to dead, Galactic, I grew up in Louisiana so New Orleans funk and jazz is a huge influence. Funk hits me in the heartstrings more than anything. In my teens, Dispatch brought me around to what we’re doing right now. As far as personal performance style, Sage Francis.

How did you decide which songs went into your EP, “Here We Grow” how did you decide which songs went into it and which didn’t?

Bobby: Right now we have 30-some songs.

James: When we did our EP, honestly, I tried to remember what were the first 7 songs that I wrote, and that’s what went on the EP, literally. We discarded “Lions Sleep No More”, because it didn’t fit as a compilation. Those 7 songs were 7 of the first 8 songs I ever wrote myself. I’ve been performing solo for 8 years and with the band for 2 and a half and I wanted to get those over with.

Skylar: Since then our writing process has certainly evolved. Bobby has pages and pages of lyrics, I have a couple of pages myself. Tim is a hell of a writer too. That’s a beautiful thing about this collection of human beings and musicians, we’re all writers. We stay very open to everyone’s writing style, lyrics and contribution so that we can all be the most genuine collaboration that we can be. Otherwise, we’re just trying too hard and it comes out false. We try to be the as genuine to each individual in the band so we can give the most collective sound that we can.

What have been the most unusual/strangest experiences during a show?

Skylar: It was awesome, don’t get me wrong, the people were welcoming, phenomenal, eccentric, they’re brilliant artists but it was a colorful collection of people at an old military compound that was converted into a flea market and we were in the middle of it with all this weird stuff!

Another unique unusual fact about the band is that Bobby was actually the original drummer. My mom bought me a shirt that was too small for Christmas, and I went to return it and right next to the store was a Radio Shack where James used to work. So I went in there and I was getting headphones to wear for when I practiced. James asked what I did and I said “I’m a drummer” and he said “I got a guy for you!” James and I exchanged numbers and Bobby was working a locksmith gig that was 12 to 14 hours a day. James and I got together and played a little bit and Bobby comes back on our EP release show, and he looks at me in the middle of a set and asked “can I play the djembe?” And I said “hell yeah, get up onstage!” So he started playing the djembe and he did a verse and it was like “oh my god we can never part with this guy ever again!” So Bobby was the original drummer and I know it sounds brash but I took his job and then he came back in a huge way and in my opinion he’s become a solidifying factor in The Trees of Life. In my opinion, without Bobby there’s no Trees of Life.

What are some personal hobbies that you enjoy when you’re not performing or recording?

Skylar: I like to surf and draw a little bit, we all get into our own kind of trouble as a hobby (laughs). Either be good, or don’t get caught type of thing (laughs).

Bobby: I spend most of my time when I’m not playing music, either meditating or doing yoga, and spending time with my wife and mutts.

James: I’m a truth seeker, I do a lot of research. I do have a serious enjoyment for fishing even though I have not acted on that lately. But it’s something I need to get back doing. I’ve been getting caught up on work and pushing the music. Other than that researching life and trying to find my own truth is my focus and the message I want to put forth in my music.

What advice would you give up and coming artists?

James: Everything at the end of the day comes down to effort level. You need to make sure that every move you make has intention. Us as a band, we classify the different shows that we take. Some are money making shows. It might be some dive bar where there’s 40 people but you can make $600 a night, it’s a money show. You’ve got shows out there that are what I call influencer shows. You’re doing a favor for somebody to maybe get something down the road, you know what I mean?. Those shows you can’t ask for money. Then you get exposure shows like Rootfire today, which is an honor to be a part of. Everyone close to you is still coming but there are so many people that are involved. I don’t expect anything because it’s all about spreading the love, getting the word out that you’re there. It’s all about finding balance of making capital to help push the band and push everything forward but also making the sacrifices needed to create the exposure needed to build a fan base. At the end of the day, if you got it in your heart that music is what you want to do, you have to put in the effort level.

What is the greatest advice you’ve ever received that has helped you in your career so far?

Skylar: I remember Bobby was telling me a story about how he had spoken to a musician who was very popular in the early 2000’s and kinda fizzled out, but is still active, though not quite where he was. He said “Be kind to everybody on your way up, because at some point there might be a way down. If you’re a dick on the way up, when you do experience a low in your career or god forbid, a total drop, you’re going to need those people that you were kind to in order for you maintain your career and continue to make this music you love to do. Moral of the story, no matter how quickly or deep your recognition gets or if you have a couple of songs that absolutely blow up, don’t think that’s the end all be all. Continue to be humble and nice to everyone. That’s what it’s all about. You never know when this music community you cherish, will be there to build you back up.

What’s currently in store for the band?

Skylar: We have a full studio album coming out in spring 2018, “We’re All Connected”, with 14 songs, we have about 30 originals ready to go. We’re so excited to drop this album. We’ve been working on it for the better part of the past year and a half. We’ve gone through a couple of rocky relationships with various musicians in order to get it done. We’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into it.

James: All the songs from the original “Here We Grow EP” are completely redone. Now that we have Bobby back, he’s added in all the songs. He wasn’t in the EP at the time. We’ll be performing with Supervillains on New Year’s Eve at Sanford, Fl and we’re always excited to play with those guys. Other than that we hope to continue playing this music because we love to play it for everybody.

Is there a message that you would like to send to your fans and our readers?

James: We’re all connected, you are not alone, keep it simple, use what works. Here we grow!

Bobby: Love yourself, no one else has the opportunity to.

Skylar: it’s all about community effort. None of us can do anything on our own at the end of the day. People play supporting roles to accomplish anything that you want. It’s a fact of life. Focus on the things you have control of which is your reaction to life not life itself. Life happens for you, not against you.

We love you, and we love the human race and it’s really what we’re all about. We hope you love you!

Connect with The Trees of Life:

Official Website: http://thetreesof.life/

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/smoofandtol/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/the_trees_of_life

Spotify:

 

 

 

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran Conquers Spotify – Most Streamed in 2017

Photo Credit: Scott Legato / RockStarProPhotography.com

Ed Sheeran fans now have an official reason to scream with joy, as if the singer is blessing them a 24-hour live performance.

That’s because he is…via their iPhones and bedroom speakers!

Ed Sheeran is Spotify’s most streamed artist of 2017 globally and the most streamed artist overall on the platform with over 47 million monthly listeners.

With over 3.1 billion global streams, his album ÷ was the most streamed album of the year on Spotify and ‘Shape Of You’ has become the most streamed track of all time on the service with 1.4 billion streams.

“Ed Sheeran absolutely dominated this year with the release of his record-breaking album, Divide,” said Stefan Blom, Spotify’s chief content officer. “There is no doubt that 2017 was The Year of Ed Sheeran, and we are thrilled that so many millions of music fans have discovered, listened to, and shared his music on Spotify. Congratulations to Ed on an amazing achievement.”