Category Archives: Notable Conversations

Interviews

Cypress Jones Inspires With the Wisdom of His Words

I first became acquainted with Cypress Jones through a music video that he had produced for local chanteuse, Laryssa Birdseye. So when I saw his recent video release for “Know Yourself” it took me a little while to figure out that it was not only his video production, but also his own song and voice. With its positive message and melodic backdrop his new tune “Know Yourself” grabbed me from the first listen. I dug into learn more, and found that Cypress grew up locally, recently moved to LA to pursue his dreams, and comes from an impressive musical family. His father, Alan Jones, is a very well-known local jazz drummer and his mother, Janet Chvatal, is a German opera singer. With a family background in jazz and opera, it’s not surprising that Cypress has a talent for music, understands how much hard work it takes to get anywhere in the business, and has an interesting perspective.

Know Yourself” is an inspiring song about… knowing yourself and how important and tricky that is. Check it out and learn more about Cypress, his journey, and his purpose in life in the interview below.

(Explicit)

PN: I first became acquainted with you through a music video that you had done for Laryssa Birdseye. Your videos are great!  So I was surprised when I saw your new video for Know Yourself. It took me a while to figure out that it was you, and your song. Can you say something about what inspired that song for you?

CJ: Thank you for the kind words! I have been rapping/producing pretty seriously now for about 14 years, just not in the public eye. It has been a long personal journey of deciding who to be and how to present myself if I ever decided to release music. One of the main things I’ve figured out recently is the most important thing is to get to know yourself, then present yourself and your story to the world. If you are authentic, you may never fall in line with the mainstream and be as big as you always dreamed, but you will be fulfilled, and actually have a chance of touching people in a meaningful way. This is where the idea came from, and I decided I wanted to share it, as well as just make a fun song for people to vibe to.  

PN: The song is described as being “car freestyle”. Can you describe the writing, performance, and production that goes into this kind of song?

CJ: This song was made completely in one night, from the beat production, to writing and recording. I have a lot of big productions in the works to start off my career, and I felt like if I didn’t just release it now, I may never get to it. So, I decided to jump in the car, and do an equally to the point video production to go along with it so I could edit and release immediately. It’s not a music video, but also not a live freestyle, so I just came up with a name and decided to run with it. I am hoping once I release my next “Real Music Videos” fans will come back to it and have a greater understanding of who I am. Doing these run-n-gun songs and shoots is pretty fun, so I may do something similar every month from now on.

PN: I heard that you are originally from Portland and just recently moved to LA. Why did you move?

CJ: I moved to LA for a couple reasons. First of all, I went through an incredibly traumatizing break-up, and it was time to change scenery and get my head straight. Second, I realized that although it is possible to “Make It” in Portland. Ultimately, everyone eventually ends up in LA once they find success. It’s just where everyone and everything is. Since being here, I have realized it is the perfect place for me right now. Being surrounded by so many of the most successful and motivated people in the industry is a breath of fresh air for me. When there are so many people better than you, hustling harder than you, there is nowhere to go but up if you have the right attitude and keep humble. I am learning an incredible amount, and fast. My heart will always be in Portland, and once I find the success personally, and commercially that I am looking for, I plan on moving back, or at least living there half time. I miss it very much.

PN: Some of the lyrics in the song make it seem like you have been working on freestyle hip hop for quite some time. Is this your first song and/or music video? Do you have more song concepts ready to record or perform?  Any plans to do more with this, or to perform live?

As I said before, I have been doing Hip-Hop for about 14 years now, since I was 11 and living in Germany. In the last 6 years, I have released a video here or there, but really only because I love doing it. I would just set up the shot and have my friends film it, whoever was available that day. If people watched and enjoyed, I was happy. Only now am I considering really pushing to do this full time. I have 5 videos in the works at the moment, including my first big budget song and video “All I Want” which I am very excited about. Right now I am polishing up the songs & videos, and building a plan on how best to release them so that this next push can really start off my career. I make at least 2 songs a week, and have for as long as I can remember, so I have no lack of material, it’s just deciding which ones to release and when to build the image that I want and to peek people’s interest.

PN: “Know Yourself” is uplifting and positive. But, a lot of hip hop seems kind of negative and sometimes derogatory towards women. Do you have any thoughts on that?

CJ: I have decided with my music that I want to be a positive force, but that’s just the true me. I am a positive and upbeat person and want to give that part of myself to the world. Everyone has darkness in their lives, and some artists feel like that darkness should define them. I have no problem with that, as long as concentrating on that darkness makes you happy. I know that for the listener, sometimes someone opening up about the darkness in their lives can help you navigate through it. Being derogatory towards women, or anyone for that matter is not helpful. There’s a fine line between expressing your feelings, and attacking an individual or group. I do not condone any of that. Love is the name of the game in my world.

PN: Who are your influences- in music, video, life, etc? 

My father and mother are my two biggest influences. My father, Alan Jones, is a respected jazz drummer in Portland, and my mother, Janet Chvatal, is an opera singer over in Germany. They have both been successful in this industry and taught me everything I know. They are as supportive as it gets, and give me knowledge on life and my career every day. I am truly blessed to have them. Rap-wise, I am a huge fan of Eyedea, Aesop Rock, Slug, Big L, Talib Kweli just to name a few. I gravitate towards lyrical rap, although recently I have learned how to appreciate pop more, and am adapting just a little, style-wise, to reach the most people possible. 

PN: What haven’t I asked you that I should have? 

CJ: Ha ha, I enjoyed your questions. Maybe: “What do you feel like your purpose in life is?” And my answer would be, to make art through whatever conduit I can, to bring people joy and to be a friend who is there for you, whomever you may be, whenever you need me. I want to repay the artists who helped me through my pain and have saved my life so many times.

Check out Cypress Jones’ new tune on youtube, fb, and Spotify.

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We Three – Meet the Family Band: Release concert this December 10

As We Three prepares to launch their album, Celebrate the Struggle, Part 1, the siblings have found a non-profit partner to work with. In this interview, learn about their history, the upcoming release show on December 10, and their plans for the next year.

Siblings who have been playing together for a while, We Three create original music, as well as bringing their own style to some of your favorite covers, past and present.  Check out the interview below, and be sure and mark your calendar for a fun and worthwhile event.

PORTLAND NOTES: Tell me about the upcoming release – how did you decide when to “drop”? How will you promote the new music? What’s it called?

WE THREE: As for the release date we basically chose it because we it worked out well for the December 10th concert . We were asked to partner with an organization called Hope On The Hill by putting on a benefit concert for them on the 10th at their Church on the Hill. In doing so we wanted to take advantage of our amazing community of people who would be coming out by releasing our album specifically for that concert. We have an amazing support system in our town. The community of McMinnville loves the arts and LOVES supporting local musicians. We have fans who have seen our shows too many times to count but still make it a priority to come out to every show they can. It means so much to us.

The album is Called “Celebrate The Struggle Part 1”. We’re releasing this album in three parts because we are so eager to release a full album again. In our society we are all about instant gratification and we completely understand that’s it’s important to continue releasing projects for your fans. We didn’t want to keep our amazing group of fans waiting for a whole album which can take a while so we decided to split it up into 3 parts. By doing so we’ll still get to release Part 3 as the final album with all the parts combined. For us it’s going to feel like a completed project because we have so many songs we want to share!

PORTLAND NOTES: How did You Three find each other?

WE THREE: We are siblings, so we met at birth. We started playing together almost 10 years ago. We grew up each taking private lessons all starting on piano and from there shifting to our main instruments. Joshua stuck with piano and added drums. Bethany shifted to bass. Manny shifted to guitar. All of us love singing as well. We learned to sing and play simultaneously.

PORTLAND NOTES: Who are your musical idols, past or present?

WE THREE: Past favorites are Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Tower Of Power, Bela Fleck and Chicago. Presently,: Ed Sheeren, John Mayer, Sara Barielles and Josh Garrels,

PORTLAND NOTES: What is the first band you remember hearing as a child? Who played that album for/with you?

WE THREE: Earth Wind and Fire by dad.

PORTLAND NOTES: Why do you all make music – what message do you want as your legacy?

WE THREE:  It’s our way to connect with people, spread light and love and spread the vision of hope for a better tomorrow. We like to be honest in our songs. As songwriters we’re learning how important and difficult it is to be honest and vulnerable through your music because that’s when you can touch the most people. We hope to encourage and support people right where they’re at in their lives through our music.

PORTLAND NOTES: What are your plans for 2018? What are you looking forward to most in the coming year?

WE THREE: We are looking forward to promoting this album and finishing up part 2 and 3! We’ve had some exciting opportunities and some incredible feedback on the album already, which makes us very excited about this coming year! Our summer concert schedule is already filling up! We’ve learned so much and love the idea of life being all about the journey! We don’t expect to ever get to our destination. We love the journey and pushing ourselves to constantly grow in our music. We’re grateful that we get to do it together as siblings.

You may listen to music by We Three on their website, and engage with them through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We Three doing “Timeless”

Big Brim Birthday Bash – Ettabration! with Arietta Ward!

How about this: a celebration that lasts all month long, a party that is for everyone, and an epic musical and visual event to bring it all together? Arietta Ward celebrates her birthday in style, December 8 at Mission Theater – come as you are, and be prepared to be surrounded by fabulous people in formal frocks and big brimmed toppers!

Arietta Ward is not one to stay in the background! In true artist form, she takes important mileposts in her life, and turns them into shared experiences through song. What might have seemed to be devastating to one person can turn into an encouraging experience for another. In the interview below, you’ll have a chance to walk along with Ward in her musical journey, truly one of discovering her voice.

For a few years now, Ward has included as many people as possible in her all-month-long celebration called “Ettabration.” It’s a good solid month of parties, events, friends, fellowship, love and music, of course. Everyone with or without a birthday is welcome to join in. All over Portland in December, you’ll see groups of people celebrating – keep an eye out for Ward and her troupe of party people! Then, join the fun at the Big Brim Birthday Bash at Mission Theater on Ward’s actual birthday Friday 12/8.

The Bash will be a chance to dress up! Not the average non-committal bedazzled jean shorts and Birkenstock night, but a rare opportunity to put on an evening dress or a suit, shine the shoes, and find THE best hat! Music, drinks, dancing…a party to get the good times rolling!

Ward’s music will be featured, so we’ve given you a little taste here too. We’d love to see your hats ahead of time too- I’ve included my dream hat photo. It’s not a big brim, but it’s inspiration!

 

A conversation between Kelly Jones and Arietta Ward

 

The AM – Breaking New Ground


New press pic by the Parrot Collective edited and directed by Hazel Miller 

I am unabashedly madly in love with this band! I am honored and thrilled to be able to share the reasons why such a strong connection exists between fans and music, presentation, and the group themselves. The AM (formerly Acoustic Minds) have broken new ground by communicating on a very intimate and personal level with fans, writing openly and honestly about their struggles and victories, and by creating a live performance that engages while purposefully and carefully replicating their recorded sound. Intentional steps to recreate the energy the group radiates are intended to involve audiences and create lasting memories. In this article, Jenni and Amanda share the story of The AM over the past few years in their own words, giving great credit to their bandmates and the Portland music community.

Twin sisters, Amanda and Jenni Price,  Aaron Altemose (producer/vocalist/keyboardist and Josh Lorenzen (producer/key bassist) compose The AM. The band’s unique sound blends live electronic dance music with Pop, House, Hip-hop and R&B. With a new album (The AM) , officially released August 26 at a mind-blowing show at the Doug Fir Lounge, alongside Fox and Bones and Moonbeam Kelly with Phoenix Rising, the group introduced stadium worthy elements into their live performance which brought the audience to their feet, singing along and moving on the dance floor. The band is captivating, with soulful harmonic vocals, insightful and revealing lyrics, dancey club beats, spacy synth sounds, and unforgettable visual aspects. With musical influences like Rihanna, Katy B, Imogen Heap, Phaeleh and Zedd, the live electronic, deep bass sound – what the band dubs “Soul/Womp”, was certainly new to me when I first heard them play. Now I tend to compare all live performances to the magic of what The AM was able to create live on stage.

I was immediately drawn to what I can only call the “realness” of the Price sisters. I first met the twins a few years ago at Portland Radio Project, when I saw them setting up for an afternoon interview to discuss their first album, aptly named Electric Sol. The twins were wearing brightly colored tights, and sporting some insanely fashionable ensembles. Personality overflowed from the energetic women, and I was equally impressed by their ability to work with foreign electronic gear in the radio studio. Watching and listening to them prepare for their interview and live studio performance, I was further impressed! I have not stopped following them since. Jenni and Amanda are experts at sharing just enough of their lives and band chatter to keep fans intrigued and engaged. We always want to know, “What is the band up to next?” because they are accessible and genuine to the fans – we watch them grow emotionally and professionally, because they continue to allow us to have insight into the band’s progression.

What struck me most about the new album release show was the absolute honesty the band presented, even to the point of revealing their frustrations and challenges while making music. Amanda emotionally told the audience that she has personally grown dramatically while living and making music in Portland. She sweetly described the city as her best friend and her worst enemy “in the BEST way.” Making music in this very competitive city has created a desire to push the limits of their live performance in every way. The band introduced intense and targeted lighting, modern dancers, and an interactive show that testifies to the visible friendship connection between the band mates. They sneak previewed some new songs at the end of the show, a special treat for the audience, and also showcased Aaron and Josh’s duo group Subco along with Josh’s solo group J La Rae. Sharing the stage with other groups is a joy to The AM, as they humbly and energetically support all local artists.

A conversation is happening on stage – revealing and deeply emotional. One audience member was heard to say, “I don’t usually listen to this type of music, but what they are saying really speaks to my heart”  The AM’s lyrics are strong and empowered, speaking to loss and victory, the beautiful and ugly sides of relationships, pain and struggle…the visuals of the performance carry the same mood throughout, with a constantly driving light show and the very special addition of stage dancers. The AM is an impressive album, and is equally impressive live from stage. The AM is breaking new ground with their sound, lyrics and stage presentation. I cannot wait to see what comes next!

Portland Notes:

You mentioned on stage that the new album reflects a change in your feelings about life. Could you speak to that a little?

The AM:

The summer of 2015 was a very challenging summer, although musically there was an upward swing. We had put out our very first music video, “Kitty Kat”  plus directed and wrote our politically and socially charged music video “Quicksand”, which had released in July (crowd funded by our fans). While developing the video, we had the honor of working with an incredible film team from Philadelphia (Kenny Lewis of Klews Films (now Pyramid)) Personally, much loss and cleaving of family and dear friends left the twins in a dark place…they found themselves challenged to create or feel inspired. It was a very difficult time. Throughout the next 16 months, the loss of three of their best friends to death and three sisters from another Mr. to negative backlash, left them feeling undeserving or not worth what their craft portrayed.

“The thing about Music is it is the one authentic piece of ourselves. We dig deep, we hash up past pain and we put it into the music as therapy for ourselves – but also to hopefully inspire others to keep pushing and striving to be the best and live their most authentic life and selves.” (Jenni) The decision to relocate came after much backlash in the city.  Feeling like it was time for a change, the twins packed up and moved to LA in June of 2016. Closer to their family and swimming in a larger artistic pond, they began to focus on getting their health and minds back in the right space to create happy music.

Portland Notes:

So, the new album, The AM -what messages are you sharing through music?

The AM:

February 2017, The AM was released out into the world with an attitude of empowerment.

This album speaks of love and loss, the raw and sometimes ugliest love, and finding your true inner destroyer and warrior. Each song is crafted by personal experience, four years in the making, The AM is back and ready to share a new layer of their journey.

“We had to burn to ashes into dust to rise as a Phoenix and find our true love (for ourselves, craft and the art we create around it)” (Amanda)

Portland Notes:

What have you been up to? What’s next for you? Where do you go from here? We will miss seeing you at all the shows in Portland – you are great supporters of local music.

The AM:

As of June 2017. We’ve been back in the lab (aka the Oregon Coast), creating the new album, Beach Vibes. The new music touches on a lighter “beach like” feel. R&B, electronic and house influences our present with a sense of ease and love for life. “We want to create something not soooo serious! Filled with love and inspiring lyrics, brushing off the BS, and really expressing the love in our music over the darkness”

The band has just signed a publishing deal with Portland’s Marmoset Music Agency thanks to fellow musician and A&R rep, Farnell Newton, and are working to introduce this original music into film and television.

The big picture promises larger show presentations in festival and amphitheater type venues,  and the band’s hope to play as much as possible in 2018 across the US and in Europe. We have recently discovered a loyal fanbase in Europe,  and are anxious to seek an agent in booking to perform for those fans.

“We want to create something fresh, fun, late and danceable to inspire everyone in such dark times in our world. Beyond excited to share this new music and truly hope everyone loves the album as much as we do!” Jenni

Thank you to The AM for all their local love over the years – truly my favorite people to watch on stage!  You can check out their music on The AM website, ITunes, CD Baby, Spotify and Soundcloud.

Nate Botsford at McMenamins Rock Creek Tavern

Nate Botsford is an emerging artist based in Portland, Oregon with a style that is unique and memorable — straight from the heart, with relatable music and lyrics. After a good bit of chasing, I managed to catch up with Nate last weekend as he played a Saturday night show at McMenamins Rock Creek Tavern.

He is wildly talented and I enjoyed the wide variety of music he was able to deliver even from a basic 3-piece band. Most impressive was the way he worked the crowd, doing special requests for birthdays with music previously unrehearsed. He is a true showman.

Nate has two albums out so far, with a third in the works. I captured “All We Have” from his second album “Hourglass” during his Saturday evening performance.