Author Archives: Charles Gray

Festival Fast Talk: Daltn

We continue our Bonnaroo coverage of Festival Fast Talks we did at the Red Bull Music Academy‘s Basscamp. The Basscamp was a Red Bull mini-school pulling 20 producers from the region, offering them studio time in rooms packed with gear and talks with Mannie Fresh and Thundercat, and encourging them to create and collaborate in their cooldown time from the festival.

Producers involved covered all types of varying electronic sound. One that I was able to talk to quickly was daltn, a house producer whose sound is developed from equal handfuls of thick grooves and relaxing vibes. He creates slow-build atmospheric heavy house tunes that are full of rich synth work and optimistic chord progressions that revolve around tightly locked grooves.

How did you start making music?

I initially started playing guitar in bands, and then I played the drums for a bit. I eventually gravitated towards DJing and producing music with drum machines and synthesizers.

How I started DJing is a funny story, actually; I used to have band practice in my old house in Miami that was empty since it got foreclosed. We were a rock band with a cellist that wanted to sound like Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Around then I started to delve deeper into dance music, and I decided to sell some gear and buy a handful of records and some turntables. I set them up in the space and started throwing parties after our practices, and I was having so much fun that eventually I dove in and sold all my guitar gear and bought records and a copy of Logic.

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Festival Fast Talk:

If you caught our previous Festival Fast Talk, you saw that we spent time at the Red Bull Music Academy at Bonnaroo. The facility was a spot that Red Bull set up, bringing 20+ producers together, granting them time in fully stocked studios, having Mannie Fresh and Thundercat lecture them, and encouraging them to write music.

Though the entire crowd of producers were all great, one producer who definitely resonated inside the pack was BoomBaptist. Just as his moniker implies, he religiously studies the art of boom bap, making offerings to its church in the guise of hip hop beats and heavy grooves. BoomBaptist makes hard hitting and soulful beats over chops of kitwork and carefully queued samples. Be careful, his tracks might just give you whiplash if you’re not paying attention to how hard you’re nodding along when the snare follows the kick and it hits so hard its difficult not to just be like “damn.”

How did you start making music?

My mother instilled a love for music in me as a child. She was a very talented pianist, extremely focused, and dedicated to her craft. She put me through piano lessons early on in life, around six years old, I believe. But as far back as I could remember, I was drawn to the medium. Supposedly I would play the glockenspiel for hours and rock to the rhythm of washing machines as I sat on top of them.

Several years later, when I was exposed to East-coast rap on the radio in Miami, I obsessively studied all the production greats of that era—early ’90s—Premier, Dilla, Pete Rock, Diamond D, etc., etc. I realized that what drew me to those records was the production. At the time, a couple of friends and I had invested in our first turntables/mixer. The package was called the Gemini Starter Kit and was the budget option for people wanting to get their feet wet with DJing. Around the same time, I started dabbling with other styles, playing in a couple of jazz groups (percussion/woodwinds), a Latin group, etc. But ultimately, I had a real love for hip-hop and its production. About a year later, I discovered a free online program named Fruity Loops that was a very elementary option, and that sparked what became BoomBaptist.

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Festival Fast Talk:
Austin Paul

We recently went to Bonnaroo and were inundated with new music. One of the coolest experiences this year was spending time in at the Red Bull Music Academy’s Basscamp.

Though Redbull is accustomed to a presence at festivals, this year’s Bonnaroo ramped up their involvement with the Basscamp, an onsite area where Redbull collected 20 regional producers, gave them studios stocked with great equipment, showered them with lectures from the likes of Thundercat and Mannie Fresh, and encouraged them to write music in between sessions of going out and seeing shows. I got the opportunity to sit down and talk to a few of the producers involved.

Austin Paul is an emerging singer and songwriter. Though his sound can go anywhere from James Blake minimalism to ’80s throwback R&B, he labels his music “Goth pop.” After checking it out, it’s clear why. His art and aesthetic is clean and slick, with lots of stark contrasting elements and color palettes usually involving dark imagery or Gothic symbolism. The visuals match the mood of his music, which is ruled by his voice and its strong sustains, soulful runs, and delicate portmanteau work between the words and throughout his phrasings. These vocals lay atop sexy or somber chord textures, producing a satiating and full sound.

How did you start making music?
I began with show choir when I was five years old. I started writing when I was about 10.

What equipment did you initially use?
GarageBand, a Shure 57, and a pair of M-Audio Monitors.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: DC9 10th Anniversary with Dead Meadow, The Apes, and Sunwolf, 2/14


Over the past 10 years, DC9 has become one of the most notable venues for off-beat acts and music that is left-of-center. The spot has been promoting and showcasing “music for the 21st century” to a growing crowd that comes out for a wide variety of musical styles and genres. From uptempo DJs to artistic guitar bands, the venue has created a platform curated and eclectic taste.

They’ll be celebrating their 10th anniversary with the help of Dead MeadowThe Apes, and Sunwolf tomorrow, and we’ve got tickets to give away.

Psych-rockers Dead Meadow having been playing around since the late ’90s. Their sound is equal parts hard rock and ’60s experimentalism with healthy inspirational cues from H.P. Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany. The band has been around in its time, appearing on the Peel Session before John Peel’s unfortunate passing. Dead Meadow has toured around the world and released several full-length albums and even a live cut album of their best live bits.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Murder City Devils at The Fillmore Silver Spring, 2/9

From depictions of dead band members to love songs for Santa Claus, Murder City Devils are a power-chord punk band garnering a unique charm that has gained them plenty of critical acclaim and fan fervor.

The Murder City Devils got their start in 1996, and had already recorded and self-released their debut album less than a year later. The next five years saw the band with releases from Sub Pop and an ever-growing fanbase based around their energetic punk attitude in tandem with fun and catchy garage rock.

After activity slowed in the mid ’00s, Murder City Devils have been moving again in the past 48 months. The band is now showing a return to their raw style and sound that’s worth catching at a venue near you.

And it just so happens that we’ve got tickets to see The Murder City Devils, Tweens, and War on Women at the Fillmore Silver Spring on February 9 to give away.

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Modoc, S/T

Modoc makes energetic rock that references anything from classic rock ‘n’ roll to post-punk. The quartet have released-two full length records in the past two years that define the new Nashville sound of fresh, raw, and catchy rock.

Earlier this month, Modoc debuted the video for “Runnin,”a riff driven love ballad garnering heavy toms in the verses and colorful vocal lines in the chorus.

The track is a cut off the limited-edition beautiful blue vinyl out via Soul Step Records. Soul Step is a grassroots label dedicated to helping talented growing acts get work pressed on vinyl. We’ve got a vinyl copy of their special limited self-titled release to give away in all its “blueberries and cream” glory.

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway:
Mode Moderne,
Occult Delight

Mode Moderne can be likened to aesthetic descendants of indie icons like Joy Division or The Smiths. Their repertoire is filled with catchy riffs on jangly guitars and earworm-choruses, all while avoiding the intellectual absence of popular guitar music.

This Tuesday, January 21, they’ll release their third full-length album Occult Delight on vinyl, and we’ve got a copy to give away.

The release will come out via Light Organ Records. The album solidifies the band’s sound as texture-heavy melancholy that is often introspective and usually features a soundscape of washed-out guitars and steady rhythms.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Big Head Todd and the Monsters at the 9:30 Club, 1/18

Big Head Todd and the Monsters are a road band known for their live shows and accessible pop rock. They’ve created a lasting following from countless tour dates showcasing their musicianship and familiar melodic heavy sound.

They’ll be playing a show at the 9:30 Club on January 18 with Ronnie Baker Brooks and Hazel Miller, and we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away.

The band took form in 1986 as a trio with Todd Park Mohr on guitar and vocals, Brian Nevin on drums and vocals, and Rob Squires on bass and vocals. By 1989, they had started their own label and released their debut album to a growing following who fell in love with the Monsters live.

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TVD Ticket and
Vinyl Giveaway:
TOY, Join the Dots

English outfit TOY provides a sound familiar to ’60’s pop experimentalism that takes modern cues with its arrangement, tone bank, and post-millennial melancholy. If you haven’t heard either other of their two full-length efforts, their body of work is something that any psych-rock fan should play around with.

TOY mixes aspects of psychedelia, noise, experimentalism, and pop to make a sonic concoction thick with weird sounds and jarring noise juxtaposed against heavy melodic content in their vocal work and choruses. Their offhand sense of “too cool to care” is inviting and subtly hiding detectable amounts of introspective reflection in both the chords and lyrical content.

They’re on tour throughout North America and will play a smattering of shows. We can give away a pair of tickets to a select date… Which one would you like to go to?

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Trombone Shorty at the 9:30 Club, 12/31

With the aid of his trusty trombone, Troy Andrews has built a persona and reputation as Trombone Shorty, a prolific New Orleans virtuosic musician who has played around the world representing his city and its colorful range of music.

Shorty leads the Orleans Avenue band with an electric charm and an heightened musicianship that speaks through his solos and melodic themes alike. This year, he released his 9th studio effort, the funk-fueled Say That To Say This. Out on Verve Forecast Records, Andrews describes the album as “James Brown mixed with The Meters and Neville Brothers, with what I do on top.”

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue are coming to the 9:30 Club on New Year’s Eve on the last of a three-night stint at the club. We have tickets to give away so that you can ring in the new year in New Orleans style.

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TVD Recommends: Shangri-La Records 25th Anniversary Shindig at 1884 Lounge, 11/30

Shangri-La Records is one of Memphis’ most longest running and notable record stores. In the time since its inception at its location in Midtown Memphis, the store has been a cornerstone for local music and rare vinyl finds. It’s been covered by Rolling Stone for the respect and homage it gives to local music legends and shows no signs of slowing down.

Shangri-La will celebrate its 25th Anniversary on November 30 at Minglewood Hall’s 1884 Lounge. The concert will feature The Grifters and Ex-Cult.

The Grifters are a Memphis garage rock act with a history. In the ’90s, they released a string of releases via Doink, Simple Machines, and Sub Pop. Grifters deliver loose garage rock with pseudo-indifference that lets out-of-tune guitar and subtle off-timed rhythms share space with relentless melodies and catchy guitar licks.

They come out of seclusion on special occasions to play sets. This 25th Anniversary might be their last show for a while, so be sure to make it out.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Rob Zombie at the 9:30 Club, 11/27 (Sold out!)

Since gaining a dual identity as a horror movie director and American rock icon, Rob Zombie has spread himself around quite a bit. He’s directed seven full-length movies (including a Tom Papa comedy special) and released five albums as a solo artist. Currently in the promotion phase of his newest album Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, the gravel-voiced singer is tearing his way through the states.

Rob Zombie is coming to the 9:30 Club Club on November 27 with guest Scar the Martyr, and we’ve got tickets to give away to the sold-out show.

This year has been busy for the king of late-’90s shock rock. Lords of Salem, Zombie’s sixth horror movie, saw a theatrical release and fan fervor. He and his band also released their newest album with plenty of homages to rock of the 20th century.

Chugging guitar and call-and-response vocals hint at throwback sounds, while the cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band” is a full-on admission of retrospective adoration.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Poliça, the 9:30 Club, 11/6

Poliça started in July of 2011 as a project between Channy Leaneagh and Ryan Olson, both members of the band Gayngs. The dynamic created was a balance between Olsen’s lowkey beats and Leaneagh’s vocal wisps.

After the addition of a bass player in Chris Bierden and Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson (both drummers), they recorded an album. Give You the Ghost was mixed by Spoon’s Jim Eno and had two songs that featured Bon Iver’s Mike Noyce, released February of 2012.

Poliça is coming to the 9:30 Club on November 6th, and we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away.

This past October, they released their sophomore album Shulamith. The band’s second record returns with mellow beats and vocal croons and a bit tighter production and has garnered quick acclaim from the Guardian and Consequence of Sound.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Justin Jones at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 11/8

Thick with an earthy warmth, Justin Jones makes patient indie rock with flairs of folk, gospel, and homegrown Americana. He creates modern plugged-in country with soft tread choruses and plenty of overdriven guitar soundscapes that share space with acoustic chord vehicles.

The singer/songwriter is coming to Rock and Roll Hotel on November 8, and we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away.

Jones is a songwriter born of West Virginia landscapes and Americana roots. Since his first in 2004, he has been responsible for five solo studio efforts as well as an EP in the band The Deadman.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Frightened Rabbit at the 9:30 Club, 10/29

Scottish quintet Frightened Rabbit is an indie rock band whose work comes with ample amounts of earthy production and atmosphere heavy with spacious reverberations.

Frightened Rabbit’s sound is deep in matured emotions and forlorn chord progressions. Delicate picked guitar bounces off powerful drums and vulnerable lyricism, providing Frightened Rabbit with a modern indie rock sound souped up in post rock afterbirth.

Frightened Rabbit will be coming to the 9:30 Club on October 29 for both an early show (6pm) and a late show (10pm). Augustines will be opening, and we have tickets to give away to the late show.

This year saw the release of their fourth album Pedestrian Verse. Though the band began as a Scott Hutchison solo project, the years have seen the effort expand and morph into a full group. Pedestrian Verse defines this current momentum, being the first collection of songs in which the compositions did not rest solely on Hutchison.

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Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 4 Comments

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