Deluka By Todd Owyoung

Bye Britain, Hi Brooklyn

Ever get in one of those moods where you need some really good music, but nothing is quite cutting it? Deluka has the perfect edge and is one of my new favorite bands.

And it’s not just because their name references a tough character in Pretty Woman and their lead singer, Ellie Innocenti, was super cool when I interviewed her for the article below.

Deluka combines upbeat electro-dance music with captivating lyrics and a dash of rock. And, who doesn’t enjoy some British flavor gone Brooklyn? Seriously, they can jam.

Others are catching on to their great sound, so don’t be the last to become a fan — see them live on October 18 in New York City to hear what I’m talking about.

A Band to Make Your Heart Beat Like a Drum

Originally Published on Hear It Now at ChannelOne.com

Every now and then a song comes along that you like immediately and play for hours on end. The single “Cascade,” by Deluka, is one such song.

If you catch a show by the indie band from the U.K., you’ll hear that it’s “guitar music you can dance to,” mixing rock elements with electronic beats. When we caught up with frontwoman, Ellie Innocenti, she chatted with us about the band’s 11-track album and the making of their music video for their single, “Cascade.”

 

Image By Todd Owyoung

 

Now that the band, consisting of Innocenti (vocals), Kris Kovacs (guitar and synth), Robbie G. (bass) and Stevie J. Palmer (drums), has wrapped production on both projects, you’ll find them playing your soon-to-be favorite songs in New York and Los Angeles.

If there’s one thing we gleaned from the interview, it’s that Innocenti is friendly, introspective and a tad bit shy. She even owned up to her modesty when we asked about what she likes about being on stage. “When you’re lost in a moment, it’s an incredible feeling. I’m quite a shy person, but on stage, I get to be a different version of myself.”

And, based on the hip vibe we’ve seen from her live performance (which you can watch below), the combo of her more shy songwriting self, with the sassy stage star is just the right mix. Versatility seems to be a trait of Deluka’s sound, aesthetic and bandmembers’ roles group. Kovacs not only plays the guitar, he is an electronics expert and helps Innocenti write songs, providing even more variety in their sound.

Speaking of variety, Deluka’s album has it all, from melancholic pop songs, to the guitar blazing dance tracks you’ll have on repeat. So where do these memorable lyrics and head-bobbing beats originate? For Deluka, they start with a rhythm brainstorm often inspired by guitar songs and then everything comes together lyrically.

“Kris and I write all the songs up from the beat,” said Innocenti. “I just try to write about what I know, what I’ve seen and I like to collect the lyrics, then draw upon them when we’re in the studio.”

Tracks like “Come Back to Me,” “Nevada” and other songs from their EP showcase the band’s many talents in songwriting and clever use of intruments to blend genres. Deluka’s music video, directed by Antoine Verglas, is their first and, according to Innocenti, “It’s a perfect video. He made it look awesome.”

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Image By christinemariesings.com

A Dream the Size of Nashville

As the 44th Annual Country Music Awards approach this fall, the nation is searching for the shining star of the upcoming Nashville award show. Last year, Taylor Swift swept the competition, a young talent with heart who likes to hug. Yet, there’s another teen on the country music scene whose dreams are as high as this megastar.

Chatting with Christine Marie was like catching up with a friend. Her kindness and modesty were like a breath of fresh air as she gushed about her music inspirations from the Little Mermaid, to Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. Who knows maybe Christine Marie will someday take the CMAs by storm…discover more about 17-year-old going from “California to Country.”

Where Inspiration Meets the Road

Originally Published By ChannelOne.com, August 2010

If you’ve ever dreamed of singing like the Little Mermaid, 17-year-old country singer Christine Marie can totally relate. We caught up with the San Diego native after a 28-day school trip to Europe. Marie chatted with us about her fun trip abroad, passion for singing, recording in Nashville and starting her senior year of high school. And really, who doesn’t want to know more about a girl who wants to belt it out like Ariel?

Image By ChannelOne.com

Inspired by the “Under the Sea” Disney princess, Marie’s music career began at six, when she joined a local musical-theater company. By the time she was 10, she’d found a new inspiration on land. “I wanted to be Kelly Clarkson,” Marie said in a phone interview. She enjoyed singing pop for a few years, but she didn’t tap into her own creativity until she began playing guitar and turned to country music.

“I felt when I was doing pop, I was trying to be Kelly Clarkson,” she said, “but when I switched to country, I felt like I could be my own person.” Since then Marie has been writing songs and recording music. Her parents have helped every step of the way, especially her mother, who is also her manager. “They are my support,” she said. “It’s a crazy dream to have and their support is really great. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Marie has won several singing competitions, including Hollywood’s Best New Talent competition in 2008. She counts LeAnn Rimes and Carrie Underwood as influences, but she adores the classics. “I was raised on George Strait, Garth Brooks and Keith Urban,” she said. “Keith Urban has been my biggest inspiration.”

Marie is not only on her way to becoming a country star, she’s also a good student. She serves in her school’s student government and is getting ready to apply to colleges. She hopes to attend Belmont University or Vanderbilt University, both in Nashville, so she can pursue music along with her studies.

With brains, talent and a voice that will surely rock the radio, don’t miss this 17-year-old’s video blogs, concert dates and more on her website ChristineMarieSings.com. In fact, the first 25 people to sign up for Marie’s email list will get an autographed copy of her CD! Visit her site today to get the details and see what else Christine Marie is up to this fall.

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vita-chambers

From Barbados to Bliss

Few can say they launched their music career after a week on MySpace. Few are Vita Chambers. After interviewing the teen pop singer in between recording sessions and before her tour began with Justin Bieber this summer, I couldn’t help but be excited for this rising star in the music scene.

It was also great to meet (albeit by phone) such a genuine person who truly loves music and empowering young people. She’s a real teenager who’s getting to live her dream, even if it means that she had to see Eclipse with her dad because her friends live in Barbados. (And, for the record, she refuses to choose Team Edward or Team Jacob, because she likes them both so much. Too cute!)

Below you’ll find the article I wrote for her feature on Hear It Now.

A MySpace Fairytale Come True

Originally Published for ChannelOne.com, July 2010

Image Via ChannelOne.com

Even pop stars are clumsy, just ask Vita Chambers, the Barbados singer about to tour for Lillith Fair this summer. “If you come to one of my shows you will see me trip, unplug a microphone or something funny like that,” Chambers said with a laugh in a phone interview. Despite her onstage mishaps, we’re sure she’s being modest about her shows — especially since she’s also touring with Justin Bieber this fall. “I opened for him at Pop-Con and I felt like I lost my hearing when he came on stage,” she revealed, “I can’t even begin to describe it. It was crazy!”

Vita Chambers’ Bieber fever experiences will increase to new heights on July 28, 2010 in Kansas City, MO, where the tour begins. “I’m so excited and I feel so blessed,” Chambers gushed. “My band and I are counting down the days. It’s been bliss since the day we found out.” To the public, Chambers’ career has been filled with fun, “bliss” and pink ballons like the ones from her “Like Boom” music video, however, the teen star’s rising success comes with a lot of hard work and some sacrifices.

After moving to the U.S. with her parents from Barbados last summer, she said it felt like vacation at first, to be living in White Plains, New York after signing with Universal Motown Records, but in the fall, her new life became real. Vita Chambers had been singing for years, but says she failed every music class she’s taken. Despite this, she’s always loved singing and decided to pursue formal training as a teen. Chambers spent eight months writing four songs and then created a MySpace page last February. A week later, the record company flew down to meet her in person. Since then she’s toured with her band and parents, making music videos and studying with her private tutor. “I get to go to school in my PJ’s,” she said giggling, “but I miss being in a big class and being with my friends.”

Luckily, with Facebook, Skype, texting and summer break in full swing — Chambers manages to keep in touch with friends just like a normal teenager. And she maintains that status pretty well, despite being so far from home and spending 10 hours a day in the recording studio. “I want my songs to have a message of empowerment — that was my main goal,” she said of her songwriting. To connect with Vita Chambers yourself, and to find out what it’s like on her tours she’ll be tweeting from the road @vitachambers. Don’t worry, she assured us: “It’s really me!”

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via-tania

Aussie Transplant Finds New Roots

I interview many musicians who visit the States from foreign countries and then find themselves wanting to stay and plant their music roots. For Tania Bowers, aka Via Tania, Chicago was the perfect place to let her music career grow.

From a Working Holiday to a Mainstay

Article Originally Published for ChannelOne.com, June 2010

“Chicago is like cement,” said Tania Bowers, a Sydney native who performs as Via Tania. “Once you get here, you stay.” In 1999, Bowers visited the U.S. from Australia to spend time with friends in Chicago. Since then, her “temporary working holiday” has turned into her new life in America as recording artist Via Tania.

“I think it’s more creative to have a slightly different name. It’s me, but not necessarily me,” she explained. “If you remove the ego, I’m producing this stuff, but only because it’s coming from somewhere else — another channel.” Adding, “I wanted a name that was really honest.”

Just last October she released her last album, Moon Sweet Moon a collection of electro-infused songs mixed with the acoustic sound that has defined her solo career — so far. After playing in a band named SPDFGH, a chemistry term, with her sister Kim Bowers and friends for seven years, she started a new project.

“I was pretty young,” said Via Tania in a phone interview before heading to Finland to work on her next album. “I think I was 15 or 16. We started to play at schools and battle of the bands.” By the time she was 21-years-old, the band broke up and she began recording at a friend’s makeshift studio. “I didn’t want to play loud music for a while. I wanted to play something really different,” revealed Via Tania, “that felt more quiet and acoustic.”

Songs like “Wonder Stranger” and “Fields” epitomize this melodic melancholy. Yet, for her next album, which she hopes to complete by the fall, she’s broadening to incorporate dance and DJ remixes. “I really like collaborating.” She said. Via Tania’s perpetual creative freedom and movement to new music genres keeps her inspired. Recently she played a show at Millenial Park with electronic band, The Books. “I’m super into The Books right now,” said Via Tania as she also listed several Ethiopian and Malian bands as her list of favorites.

“People want to get and hear personal and honest music,” shared Via Tania as she discussed her fascination with infusion music from North Africa. We can’t wait to see which new music territory we’ll find Via Tania next.

To find out more about this artist and listen to her music, visit Hear It Now.

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freelance-whales

Freelance Whales Beach on Governors Island

If you haven’t heard, there’s an amazing concert series in NYC on Governors Island this summer called “Gone to Governors.” Each weekend they have free shows. Coincidentally, I saw Freelance Whales perform there the same week we featured them on Hear It Now. Check out the article below to learn more about this amazing band that fills the Postal Service void, with a little something more…

From the Subway to the Stage

Originally published for ChannelOne.com, June 2010

Freelance Whales on Hear It Now

Indie rock band Freelance Whales met in Queens, New York in late 2008. They began playing music together mixing a diverse array of instruments with ethereal vocal tracks while rehearsing in the Farm Colony of Staten Island, a city landmark, throughout 2009. New Yorkers discovered their enchanting music echoing in the L train subway tunnels as the band played on station platforms, infusing the city with acoustic tracks with a dash of folk. Like a laid back soundtrack for hip, urban life, songs by Freelance Whales transport listeners to a better place, whether that be their next destination on the subway or simply, a good mood.

Melodic and staccato sounds mix from instruments like the harmonium, banjo, glockenspiel, synthesizers, guitars, bass, tambourines and drums, for a quirky and polished vibe. Reminiscent of The Postal Service, Freelance Whales were dubbed “Band to Watch” by music site Stereogum and were a favorite among concertgoers and music critics at the music festival South by Southwest in 2010. “Amazingly, Freelance Whales are even more arresting live than they are on record,” said freelance music journalist and musician, Leo Maymind. “They exhibit the exuberance of a young band that feels lucky to be sharing ideas with their audience.”

Yan Yan Pei, who recently saw them live at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, agrees: “Freelance Whales are very energetic on the stage. Their indie folk style with a electro touch brought me on a harmonic, joyful journey. My friends and I enjoyed singing along with most songs.”

Band members Judah Dadone, Kevin Read, Doris Cellar, Jacob Hyman and Chuck Criss are currently touring the U.S. and Canada with the band Shout Out Louds, in honor of the release of their debut album, Weathervanes. Check out playful tracks from their eclectic LP like “Generator First Floor” and “Starring,” or for more mellow feel listen to “Ghosting.”

To see the original feature published by Channel One News and listen to streaming tracks, visit Hear It Now.

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Image By Laura Crosta

Painting the Town Green

“Can you hear the ocean?” asks Tania Elizabeth. “It’s so beautiful.”

Before taking a hike in the Back Bay National Refuge in Virginia, Tania chatted about saving the planet, changing bio-diesel fuel tank filters and touring with her band, The Duhks (pronounced “ducks”). With no shortage of cities to visit and environmental groups to meet, this fiddler not only gave us the skinny (via cell phone) on reducing your carbon footprint, she also talked music and how she strives to live green everyday.

“I’m a big advocate of organic foods and I’m a vegetarian,” added Tania. “It’s part of my everyday plan to eat healthy.”

It’s become easier in recent years to eat organic and local foods when Tania and the rest of the band from Winnipeg, Manitoba are on tour. “Seven years ago it was hard. Now it’s such a fad.” Though green is the new black — with celebrities and environmental agencies uniting to stop climate change and promote recycling — the Duhks were environmentalists before it became trendy. “We do it because it’s our passion.”

In addition to their own eco-endeavor, The Duhks Sustainability Project, they are currently partnered with several green groups like Clifbar’s GreenNotes Program, which helps them get in touch with local environmental groups and issues, so they can set up booths. “A lot of Duhks fans are environmentalists,” said Tania. “And they say thanks for the organic T-shirts we have at our concerts that they normally wouldn’t buy.” Did we already mention that the shirts are also sweatshop free?

Yet, minimizing their carbon footprint isn’t always an easy road to take. The band’s encountered their share of problems, particularly with their bio-diesel fueled tour van. “Really do the research on your vehicle. Make sure your diesel engine can handle it,” Tania said with a laugh. “We have to change the fuel filter every couple of tanks.”

Thankfully sites like BioDiesel.org help them find fill ups through GPS. “They’re super easy to find. It’s quite a different experience from hitting a regular gas station. Indie gas operators are always interested in seeing a band that uses bio-diesel,” explained Tania. “The people we meet are a huge highlight.”

Get tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint and listen to the band’s music here: http://www.channelone.com/life/the-duhks/

Article was originally published for Channel One News.

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Image By CultureSponge

Will the Real Housewives Please Stand Up

Beyonce as "B.B. Homemaker"

This month Beyonce went retro in a 50’s sitcom-inspired music video for her song “Why Don’t You Love Me,” while also calling attention to the traditional pressures women face due to gender inequality. As a overburdened, depressed and unloved housewife, “B.B. Homemaker” drinks her misery away and croons about her unfulfilled life, despite being seemingly “perfect.”

After watching this video, I started to ponder portrayals of women in domestic roles on television and how, frankly, the job seems pretty thankless and scary — bringing us to the question, “Why don’t we love housewives?”

I mean, yes, we do have the pretty and pleasant housewives in commercials, who do their best to make kitchen floors shine and get stains out of their family’s clothes as they smile happily, but most roles of housewives on television are sad, crazy or stupid.

We have the likes of “Betty Draper” in Mad Men, a self-serving and mistreated sixties housewife with a drinking problem; then there’s schizophrenic “Tara Gregson” in the United States of Tara whose family is falling a part do to the tornado of her alter egos; next up we have the drug dealing Nancy Botwin in Weeds, who is perhaps the most selfish character ever written as she burns down neighborhoods and sleeps with drug lords; and finally there are the many ladies of Wisteria Lane on ABC, who deal with murder and remarriages to no end on Desperate Housewives; along with several other comedic mother-wives on 30-minute sitcoms who play it straight to joke-cracking husbands.

"Nancy Botwin" on Weeds

Each of these characters is a homemaker, creating an unfit home life with their destructive behaviors. These extreme roles lack the kindness, intelligence and responsible nature of real women. And, I’ll be honest, these representations don’t make the job appealing, which in a way, is an insult to mothers and wives of the past, present and future.

So what about those homemakers on reality TV, you ask?

They might as well be a modern version of Beyonce’s B.B. Homemaker, all dressed up and ready to act out what it means to be a “housewife,” making a statement about American culture. However, these ladies aren’t being ironic. The women who are “Real Housewives” exploit their wealth and silliness in top cities across the country on Bravo, or there’s the “swappers” who are willing to trade in their family for another, and who could forget the mom’s who have given up on their kids, ready for a nanny to take over on network television.

How are these women commenting on real world experience? You tell me. Are all women seeking to trade their families, be unhappy millionaire’s wives, or live selfish prime time soap opera-esque lives?

The Real Housewives of Orange County

I think housewives are being objectified and silenced in a different way than the past. The wealthy, irresponsible reality TV stars and the TV show characters create a new stereotype of housewife, but not in a good way. Any of these scripted series would make any young woman think twice before moving to the suburbs if they thought their lives would be similar.

I mean, really, if the lives of wives on TV are any indication, young and married urbanites should be desperate to avoid wisteria-covered houses, back-stabbing neighbors (ha, literally!) and screaming, ungrateful children altogether.The suburbs seem to be a breeding ground of hatred, lies, divorce and dissatisfaction.

Maybe the term “housewife” needs a makeover and quite possibly, a publicist. Those shows, both fiction and “non-fiction” are created for entertainment, not to depict realistic versions of women we are, or will become. Was that the point of B.B. Homemaker? Is Beyonce a feminist too?

Since I’m not a housewife myself, I cannot speak on their behalf, however, as a feminist, I believe it’s important that we are aware of this disservice to strong, smart, generous and talented women who choose the role. We must also defend our right to work in the public or private spheres. Being liberated doesn’t make anyone better than another — whether she works in an office, on television, or at home — we are all equals.

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