Shiffley answers WQAQ’s questions

By Michael Gallatin

1) Hey guys! We’re Shiffley. We are Alex Ganes (singer, 21), Alex Jenks (synths and trombone, 21), Shaune Killough (bass guitar, 20), Will Rosati (guitar, 20) and me, Bryan Contreras (Drums, 22). We like to call our genre of music “BubbleGumSynth Rock.”

2) We have been a band for about 2 years now and we have been playing seriously for about a year.

3) Alex G, Alex J, Shaune, and I were high school friends and had played in bands together before Shiffl993425_498711590226582_1413669740_ney. One day in 2012, Alex Ganes approached Shaune and I about some music he had been writing, and it blew our minds. The music was catchy, and the lyrics were undeniably relatable. We knew if we worked together to bring the music to life, we would could change the world. We added Will Rosati this summer for his killer guitar skills, and experience with synths and electronic music.

4) Although we’re a relatively new band, we’ve made huge strides in our careers thanks to determination, long hours of practice, and a little bit of luck. Last year, we opened for a national touring act, Twenty One Pilots. We’ve also been fortunate enough to be top contenders in several national competitions. In early 2014, we also placed 4th in CBS’s nationwide Grammy Gig of a Lifetime contest. Our music was handpicked by Fall Out Boy and Emeli Sande out of 500+ acts that submitted their music to the competition. We were also a semifinalist in VH1’s Make a Band Famous contest. More recently, our music has been placed on several Television spots, being featured on prestigious networks such as TruTV and the Travel Channel. We’re so grateful for the opportunities we’ve received thus far, and for the support of our family and friends who drive us to be the strongest band we can be.

5) We all love so many different kinds of music but the top 3 bands we look up to are twenty one pilots, The Killers, and Phoenix.

6) During the school semesters we play college campuses as often as we can. During our winters and summers are when we are the most busy usually playing one HUGE hometown show per season along with mini tours up and down the east coast. The thing we love most about performing is creating an unforgettable experience for everyone. We build a lot of stage props to add to the whole aesthetic of the show. From people dancing in homemade robot costumes to foot-activated lighting platforms on each end of the stage, we put on an experience that gets everyone dancing that you will never forget.

7) The future of the band is very promising. In just a year we have progressed so much that we would be remiss if we didn’t try to do this full time. Come May 2015, we will be fully committing ourselves to the band and we couldn’t be more excited!

8) Our most memorable show was opening for twenty one pilots. It was an amazing experience! They were so encouraging and provided great insight into the music industry. They were genuine dudes with a great story and even a better message with their music, which is exactly we aspire to accomplish.

9) What makes Shiffley stand out is our unique song writing abilities which emphasize synth, bass lead guitar lines, and our live shows. We pride ourselves in the shows we put on for others. The music will make you want to dance, and the lyrics will resonate in your heart and mind. If you go to one of our shows, you’ll never forget it. We leave the audience wanting more and more.

10) Our style is completely reflective of the people who are involved with the band. Each of us inject our own musical backgrounds and influences into our parts of each song, and the energy we put into playing them is our way of saying “thanks” to everyone who supports what we do. We would be nothing without our ‪#ShiffleyArmada.

11) We currently have a 4-song EP called “Atomic Robot Man.” We released it last year and the songs have really done well for us. We are currently working on our new EP entitled “Anthem City” which will also consist of four of our newest songs.

TTNG (This Town Needs Guns) live at The Space 11/5

The chance to see TTNG, the infamous math rock pioneers from the United Kingdom, in itself was something special. But to see them at an intimate venue such as The Space only heightened the experience. Having missed them last November when they made a stop in Hamden, I marked the date when I learned TTNG would be touring back to the U.S. I was also lucky enough to have tickets for the show gifted to me by my girlfriend, Ashleyann Silva, for my birthday. Let’s just say I didn’t need any alternative motivations to get excited for this show.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with the one man band that is Henry Kohen, under the monicker Mylets. Hailing from Los Angeles, Kohen provided a captivating performance, highlighted by several layered guitar parts live with a loop pedal and triggered analog samples, while delivering angst-ridden confessions over top. Following Mylets was Emma Ruth Rundle, another solo act. In a long black dress, and a floral crown, Rundle sang emotionally over effected electric guitars, delivering ballads of love and loss. Henry Tremain, singer-bassist-guitarist of TTNG, stood idly on the side of the stage, eating a banana, and singing along to his label-mates’ songs in between bites.

The openers set the stage for TTNG, literally, as they helped the band set up. Once all the pedal boards were in place, amps were warmed up, guitars were tuned, and drums were tightened, TTNG exploded into their track “Gibbon” from their 2009 release, Animals. The onlooking crowd began to shout along with Tremain, “Once more in to breaches I cannot gap. One more chance to second guess your thoughts. My friends said that you would be a tough nut to crack. Come back lets settle this up…

They then proceeded into their version of a “hit single” in “Cat Fantastic” from their 2013 release 13.0.0.0.0. The dense crowd began to move with Tremain and the Collins brothers, drummer Chris and guitarist Tim, as they bobbed along to the complex time signatures and tempo swings that are signatures of TTNG.

The band played a diverse setlist, crossing their discography effortlessly and gracefully. A major high point of the show was when TTNG debuted a new song. The track, consistent in style and complexity, mirrored that of the work on both Animals and 13.0.0.0.0, while Tremain sang in falsetto melodies. This song is only another reason to be excited that the power-trio from Oxford is releasing new material in the near future.

Tremain sparked fans excitement when he doused himself in both a bass guitar and an electric guitar at the same time. Throughout the song Tremain would alternate between the two necks, much like how one would play a double-neck guitar, filling in bass parts when needed and dueling Tim Collins in guitar parts at other times.

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Tremain’s amazing feat stole the show. As did his banter with the crowd between songs. One fan labeled him as “Banana Man” for his earlier side stage antics. Tremain and the Collins brothers also went back in forth with the sound engineer several times to ensure their audio was just right.

TTNG closed their set with “If I Sit Still, Maybe I’ll Get Out of Here” from their 2008 self-titled EP. The crowd rejoiced and sang along to the timeless chorus, “Yesteryear still rings in my ear. Like buttons and pins this mess we’re in dissolves in time.” To say that TTNG’s performance was the best I’ve seen in an intimate setting would be an understatement. The trio blew myself, as well as the rest of the crowd, away with their deceivingly full sound and playful stage presence. Hopefully we’ll get a new record from the lads soon, until then we’ll have to settle for their near studio-quality live renditions, and goofy Facebook posts.

The Venomking

I chose to review The Venomking, who is a pop/hip hop artist out of Norway.  The two songs featured were entitled “My Brother, My Friend” and “Light Up”. I found that both of these songs had a good background beat, definitely more on the pop side, mixed with lyrics that were more characteristic of hip hop and rap.

The first song, My Brother My Friend, incorporated female background vocals that played really well off the males hip.hop style lyrics. It reminded me greatly of “Where’d You Go” by Fort Minor. This song focused largely on questioning why people take recreational drugs when they know how deadly they are. The slow beat and light female vocals played well with the sadness incorporated within the melody, as his brother, his friend is now gone. This contrasted with the harsher words of the VenomKing who although sad, was also angered that his friend was gone. Overall, i enjoyed the song a lot.

The second song, Light Up, was entirely about smoking weed and absolutely nothing else, which is cool if thats the kind of song you’re looking for, but there was no depth to the song at all. The beat was good but the lyrics were not very dynamic, there was a lot of repetition with little variation between any of the rhymes. I expected a little more after hearing the first song which had a lot more dimensions than this one, but this song was still pretty good for what it is.

Ports of Spain

Interview done by Gizela Zaqueu

Listen to Ports of Spain music here: http://portsofspain.bandcamp.com/

1. How did you you guys get started? Where did the name Ports of Spain come from?

The two of us were in the same cover band and we would play these weird jams between songs at practice. After a while we started playing all of those interludes out under various names. Ports of Spain is meaningless; we had pages and pages of names and a show booked so we just picked one. We never really thought anyone would be interested!

2. Are you currently working on an EP/Album?

We are! We’ve been working on a new EP for a while now. It’s been recorded at various studios around CT and NY. We’ve been really taking our time with it, but it should be out early this winter.

3. If so, what are some of the challenges you face when it comes to the creative process of making a new album or EP?

Since there are only two of us the biggest challenge is making everything sound really full. We’re each doing a fair deal of acrobatics, playing multiple roles  in order to cover the work that a third or fourth member might shoulder. It doesn’t take long to come up with ideas, but developing them for performance takes a lot of effort.

4. Are you going to be performing live anywhere this year? if so, any shows near Quinnipiac University?

We’ll be playing quite a bit to support our new record once it comes out. We live in New Haven, so there will definitely be shows near QU. Our favorite hometown venue is Cafe 9. If you haven’t been there yet then definitely check it out!

5. What’s your most memorable show you have played, can you describe it?

We had a show pretty early on at The Outer Space. We’d someone managed to sell it out, and everyone was  going nuts. It was the first time in our lives that we’d had people actually rush the stage. After that we felt like we had something pretty cool going on.

The most memorable one in recent memory was actually one that we played at UCONN about a week ago. Everything that possibly could have gone wrong leading it up to it went absolutely wrong. Hours of traffic, gear snafu’s etc. When we actually started playing we were just so excited that we even got there. The whole night was super cathartic.

6. How would you describe your sound for any newcomers to your music?

We’re an indie rock band. We don’t have anything really specific in mind, just doing whatever is fun. As a consequence we have little bits of a lot of things. Mostly we’re just going for as large of a sound as we can.

7. What are your biggest musical influences, and how does that inspiration apply to crafting your own music?

We spend a lot of time at shows, so we draw a lot of influence from what our friends are doing. We’ll see someone like Elison Jackson, LOOM, Ovlov do something and think, well that was great, we should try to do something like that!

8. What makes your band different from other bands?

No one seems to be doing what we do. People always seem to get a kick out of watching us perform. There’s only two of us, and we’ve each come up with our own ways to sound bigger and do more. We’re a duo trying to sound like a quintet, and everyone seems to respond to that. It’s like a tightrope act. Even at our worst we’re kind of fun to watch.

9. What was the craziest thing that happened while you were on tour?

To be honest, most tours are surprisingly sedate. Just lots of driving and waiting for shows to start.

That being said; one time in VA we were playing at a party in a Knights of Columbus (which was weird to begin with) and someone stole a picture of the Pope. There was also a place in Philly where the ceiling opened up to reveal a “swing.”  

10. Lastly, what new song or new album are you currently obsessed with?

Pile’s “Dripping” is a current favorite, as is Homeshake’s “In The Shower.”

Photo courtesy of portsofspain.bandcamp.com

Photo courtesy of portsofspain.bandcamp.com

 

 

Interview with Derek Piotr

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When did you start making music? What inspired you to start making music?
I was in choir and took instruments as long as I can remember, since childhood. I always had the impulse to sing for the class or generally make music, I think of it as a form of optimism. my first experience with electronic music came at 15 when I downloaded the freeware editor Audacity and began cutting up samples I had ripped from Encarta Encyclopedia, and singing on top of that, and chopping the whole thing up. I still find the process of digitally processing voice extremely rewarding; in my opinion it’s one of the most exciting sounds producible today.


How would you describe your sound for any newcomers to your music?
This is always a challenge for me. Generally if I get asked what my music is like and I am with company, I turn helplessly to my friends in the hopes that someone can explain it more accurately than I can. I guess I would say it’s outsider pop with heavy emphasis on editing and production, and my aim is always to make something beautiful that personally wakes the listener up, and is encouraging. I want my music to give people comfort, while still remaining totally alert.


What are your biggest musical influences, and how does that inspiration apply to crafting your own music?
My biggest influence might be the work of Antye Greie-Ripatti, who records as AGF. I discovered her debut record very early on in my musical journey, and have been very fortunate to collaborate with her in recent years. find her work at poemproducer.com . otherwise, my influences tend to change and I shed old layers as I acquire new ones, or else it is cyclical…right now influences are Stravinsky, Kevin Drumm, Lata Mangeshkar, Antony and The Johnsons, Fennesz…


Can you explain the song writing process for your music? How do you go about making it?
Each time is a bit different but I do tend to keep folders of sounds I’ve made sorted by month and year, and if I feel I have made some kind of decent headway (whatever I define headway as!) on a piece in the space of a day, I may go into these folders and see what would fit and what doesn’t, so often this means trying different textures against beats, or taking vocals from months prior and putting them on the chopping block. although I often begin to write with a specific piece or song in mind and work towards that…try all sorts of editing to get the story out…involve other players or producers…basically anything to serve the song and have it be the best produced but also most human it can be…


What are some challenges you face when it comes to the thought process of making a new album?
I’m incredibly fortunate in that a new universe for a particular album presents itself organically to me and I don’t have to plan…for instance my latest album, Tempatempat was the product of me toying with a preoccupation I had with gamelan, and the album grew from that initial impulse…or the album I am working on now I knew would be focused around woodwinds…I think the sound world comes first and the rest of it nestles into place.


Are you planning any upcoming live shows? How do you feel about your live shows, and how does it differ from your typical music producing process?
I am currently working on pieces for my forthcoming album with a few musicians, kind of in the form of duets…I have a bass clarinetist that I am working with, an Ondes Martenot and vocaloid player, and a classical composer working on turning some tracks into wind trios…these are all separate endeavors but are linked for me, the reason: I am interested in expanding my oeuvre into other’s processes, and have felt a bit stuck behind a laptop for the past few years. so most of these “live duets” will be ready in the Spring…I had one test run with the Ondist and it went quite well…and I am still performing solo with laptop as well.


What do you think of the current music scene in your area, have they been supportive of your music?
Connecticut doesn’t have much of a scene for what I do but I am quite fortunate to live extremely close to Manhattan, so most of my shows are in New York…which of course is an incredible haven for outsider artists like me.


What routes have you taken in order to make your music heard?
I think it is always important to have your voice heard, to stand behind the work you do, and to realize that there is room in the world for so much and that something that might kill someone’s mood for the day will save someone else’s life…but also learning how to communicate with the world in a way that is respectful to both parties, you and them, is crucial. Communicating your message is a scary thing and you can face intimidation and fear of rejection but through the years it gets easier to put your ideas across and believe in your message. Also staggering is the fact that we have unprecedented access to media now thanks to the internet…so I try and take what I do seriously and make an effort to liaison with press and listeners…I am incredibly grateful to the internet for providing this forum for all sorts of amazing miraculous works, so it doesn’t make sense to take a passive role in getting your own work out there!


Do you have any tips for aspiring musicians?
Believe in what you do. Try and block out external influences and hear the sounds that are in your head (this is the hardest thing to do, but a healthy exercise). Try and make your voice heard above the din, but have patience. Respect others’ time and work and it will come back round. But above all: serve the visions and desires that come to you and do what feels right to YOU!

You can check out Derek Piotr’s projects at the following:

http://derekpiotr.com/

http://derekpiotr.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/derekpiotrsound

https://twitter.com/derekpiotr