How did you get your start in music?
Music started for me just like a lot of artist in the church. Singing in the choir and lead singing at the age of 7 in school at mass.
You have had some musical history in the early 2000′s, how do you think the R&B game has changed since then, and do you want the old game back?
It’s changed in several ways. It was much easier to get record deals back then. The game has become more open to independent artist though. So it’s expanded in many ways due to the internet. I like for things to flow and go however they’re suppose to naturally so I’m not one to want things to be like the past. I like the way it is now because whatever is now is perfect for now. The future is looking bright for me regardless!
You’ve worked with artists from Kanye West, Rick Ross, Nas, Richard Ashcroft (The Verve), Big Sean, J Cole, & Common. Which if any of those collaborations taught you the most about the music industry? Well all of those collaborations taught me that it’s not always about your talent its also about who you know! I got to work with all of those great artist through one relationship.
Talk to us about R&B in 2014. Don’t even really know what the genre is anymore. I think this is one of the first times in its history that the genre is having an identity crisis. Do you think that puts you at an advantage or a disadvantage? I don’t ever think I’m at a disadvantage. There’s always away to take advantage of any situation. To answer the question I believe it’s a great time for me and any artist to just be themselves. Since the genre doesn’t really have a sound now we can do whatever we want and just make the music we feel without trying to fit in any boxes.
Nice. Are there any female R&B artists out today that you are inspired by? Several.. I love Lauryn Hill, Grace Potter of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, India Arie, Kim Burrell Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan I can go on and on but Whitney Houston is my all time favorite.
Would you say u have roots are in Gospel music?
Absolutely! That’s where I learned how to sing.
Switching it up a bit, what has this 2014 been like for you? What were some pivotal points that have gotten you to this point? 2014 has been great! I’ve shot two videos and I’m releasing my EP. Planning to tour this summer and also looking forward to beginning a career in acting as well! Most of all I’ve really grown and matured spiritually. Which has pushed me to be confident in all that I’m doing.
There has been some talk about an amazing performance you had in mexico.— how did it come about? Well I also have relationships in the house community. My producer Emmaculate and Julius the mad thinker came together and produced and wrote a couple records for me. Julius is the founder of MiCasa which is an amazing festival that takes place in Mexico. So they invited me out there to perform the songs. It was an amazing experience!
Tell us about the single you have out now, and whats next for you & your brand The song is called “Used to Love You” it’s about a girl that was in love with a man that everyone said was wrong for her. Of course she had to see for her self and learn the hard way. So she’s telling the story.
Next we have a single called ”Hear I Am” which is the title of the EP. We just shot a video and a commercial for it. We also plan to tour this summer.
How do people get in contact with you? People can hit me on twitter and IG @itskayefox and Facebook Kaye Fox fan page.. Also firstname.lastname@example.org
Chicago, home of some of entertainment’s most gifted and vibrant superstars also gave birth to the rising rap phenomenon known as Kenn Retro. Kenn Retro is an emcee with a heart of a rapper. He is a lyricist who paints portraits with his words. This burgeoning MC has the lyrical poise to put him on par with some of the greatest of MC’s around. Kenn Retro is solidifying his spot as one of the best to emerge out of Chi Town. Compelled by the likes of Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Common, Mos Def, Wu-Tang, Redman, Notorious BIG and Lupe Fiasco., Kenn Retro breathes life into the mic and he writes about real life experiences.Be on the look out for his album entitled “The Id, Ego and Superego.”
What is the meaning behind the name “NjS” and what it stands for? What’s the story behind the creation of NjS?
NjS stands for “Never just Settle” and is composed of Kuga and Flow Zen. The meaning behind the name NjS is to not give up and stand your ground.
We started off DJing together in middle school and high school, and after high school graduation we went on graduation trip to Japan where, in a hotel room in Osaka, we decided to pick up some cheap recording equipment and to try out the MC side of hip hop.
Since then we have experimented with different sounds, and have come to realize that our passion lies with traditional jazz influenced hip hop. Flow Zen stayed in California for college, but Kuga went abroad to Tokyo, Japan and began getting involved with the underground hip hop scene there. Because of that we were able to make connections and establish ourselves in Tokyo as well as California.
“One of the things that sets us apart from most other artists is the fact that we can rap and switch seamlessly between English and Japanese in our songs.”
You seem to be very busy in Tokyo and the west coast. Are there any new areas you are looking to market yourselves?
We have, been back and forth between San Francisco and Tokyo for the past 5 years making and performing our music. These two places are our home bases, but recently we have started building fan bases in other countries through social media marketing. Some of the places where we have received the most positive interactions are France, Canada, and the UK, so we would like to explore those places further.
You both seem to understand this as a turning point in the music industry. Besides just standing out, what in your mind is deemed most important to grow as an artist?
A big thing is appearing human to our fans. So we try to maintain interactions and conversations on a more personal level with our social media followers and fans more generally. Also, we have come to realize that it is best to make the kind of music we really enjoy and find the niche market for it rather than try to adapt ourselves to the mainstream and make us something different from what we already are at the core.
As we said before, we have experimented with various styles and even tried to go mainstream for a bit, but we never found that path very fulfilling. Once we went back to our roots with more traditional hip hop and started finding fans looking for that kind of music, it became a lot easier to market ourselves to that niche market, and we found a lot more joy in making the music we truly loved.
Being a bilingual group, does this make things easier or more difficult on you? For what it’s worth you blend them well together on your tracks.
“In the beginning we found it to be more difficult because we had not decided on a specific market and we thought that only Japan would be interested in a bilingual English and Japanese group.”
However, here recently after doing much more social media marketing and talking to many new fans, we have found out that at least with this genre of hip hop is concerned, language is really not an issue nor a barrier. As long as most people can feel the music and vibe with it, there is not a huge need to understand all the words. We have gotten some feedback from multiple people that have beensaying we are able to blend the two languages together well without sounding awkward, which is something that can easily happen. Obviously it’s something all bilingual artists try to avoid.
What would stand out to you as the most difficult obstacle that stood in your path?
The music industry can be pretty shady, and over the past 7 years we have encountered many people who have given us empty promises, tried to keep us from progressing, and who have tried to take advantage of us. There have been management companies, record labels, and even other artists who have acted like this towards us from all over the world, and so we have had to learn to recognize these things, grow some thick skin, and do things independently and for ourselves. The biggest thing we have learned is not to rely on others and to be as self-sufficient as we possibly can. That is why, from the beginning, we made all our own beats, wrote our lyrics, learned to record/mix/master our own tracks, etc.
Now that we can do all these things, not only are we able to save a ton of money that would normally go toward audio engineering and recording fees, but we are able to do almost the entire process up to the marketing by ourselves. Recently we have connected with some amazing producers and so we are not producing our own beats anymore.
“For what it’s worth, we view it as a very positive thing that we learned the whole process from the ground up ourselves before working extensively with others.”
Bringing up musical influences and genres, what does NjS bring to the table? What musical influences affect you two as artists?
As a group we have a really wide range of influences. We listen to a lot of American and Japanese music, and the two countries have very different sounds. The way people flow and rhyme in hip hop in English and in Japanese is one of the best examples of this. It’s a little hard to explain, but the structure of bars within verses is very different, and we have been told that the Japanese verses that we make have an American kind of sound and flow, but use Japanese, which is not so common. We really like anything with a groove to it. Jazz, funk, hip hop, or whatever it is.
Flow Zen also makes electronic music on the side, which is almost the polar opposite of jazzy hip hop, but even those influences come into play sometimes. There are a lot of glitchy vocal effects in EDM and we occasionally use those effects, whether edited on the computer or imitated while recording.
Overall, what message does your music portray?
We always want to bring positive vibes. Music is such a powerful thing and can impact people in many ways, so we want to use that influence to make people feel good.
Whether it’s talking about making something out of nothing, chilling with friends, summer days, the power of music, new beginnings, or whatever, we want to show everyone that positivity can be found in whatever you do. We also want to connect people from all over the world.
Our initial goal when we started was Japan and the US through our use of both English and Japanese, but since we have found that people who don’t understand either language can enjoy our music, we now have our eyes set on a much more global scale.
What is the most rewarding for you guys in providing the music that you do?
“The most rewarding thing for us is seeing people enjoy our music…”
As cliché as that answer might be, it’s such a rewarding feeling to read a comment from someone talking about how our music has affected their life, or how it lifted them up when they were down, or even just that they put one of our songs in their playlist and have it on repeat. It is also a crazy feeling to be up on stage and have a packed club all singing along to your songs. There’s really nothing like it.
You mentioned your music video in Tokyo along with other business endeavors. What can we expect in the near future from NjS?
Our biggest project in the works is a new album produced by Marcus D from Hydeout Productions (Nujabes’ record label). It’s going to be 13 tracks featuring artists such as UK-based jazz hip hop veteran, Funky DL, well-known Bay Area rapper, Equipto, Okinawan singer, Maico, Australia-based hip-hop duo, LHA, poetic Seattle-based rapper, Timeless, and Bay Area native, Champlu. We’re hoping to release the album this summer, so definitely be on the lookout for it!
Also, during our most recent trip to Japan from late February to mid-March, we filmed a music video for the first single off the new album titled “Starting Fresh”. The track is about finding ourselves after spending the last 7 years trying to figure out how we wanted to sound and where and who we wanted to be and “starting fresh”.
“We also hope to head back to Japan in the summertime to do some shows, and to promote the new album. And who knows, if it goes well, maybe we can do some shows in some other places as well.”
You guys have been around and are going places. Who’s some of whom you have worked with and what relationships have been created?
To be honest, before this current project we hadn’t really worked with many other artists or producers. In the past we had featured some local bay area talent on our tracks such as Schiffy and Jenny D, but through this new project we really branched out and connected with some great artists and producers from across the globe. Towards the end of college we met Marcus D and were fortunate enough to be able to do some shows with him in Japan, after which an opportunity arose to collaborate on a new project, which later developed into the current album we are working on.
“Since then, we have reached out to the artists mentioned above, so we think the end result will be dope!”
I’ll let you take the final stand for our readers after letting the world know what you think of Alwayz Therro magazine.
The magazine concept is dope and you guys are definitely doing your thing! With dope photography, hot models, and keeping a look out for new talent, you’re doing it right, for sure. We want to thank Alwayz Therro magazine for reaching out to us and giving us this opportunity to share what we do with everyone.
Interview by Raymond A. Merritt
Alwayz Therro thanks Flow Zen and Kuga for their time, and we wish them all the best towards their promising future!
When it comes to DaCav, the sky is certainly the limit. Wanting the world to know they are “all in”, the band from the “City of Brotherly Love” did just that, and spent some time sharing some love with us!
Tell us the story behind how the name DaCav came about along with the getting together of the members.
DaCav is short for “Da Cavalry”…meaning that we are soldiers to the music industry. We are fighting for our spot in the music industry and fighting to take over the music industry.
DaCav was actually formed by B-Roc, he started back in high school with some of his friends. Then as time went on some members moved on and some were interchanged. The core that you see now, including B-Roc, Mikey P, Kristyn & Michael Cartel, didn’t exist until roughly 2008. Sometimes it takes a little while to get it right, but it was worth the wait!
What individually made you decide to create music?
We all have a passion to create, a passion to be different and a passion to succeed. We also all come from different musical backgrounds, so we all have a different ear when we walk into a studio session.
B Roc – he grew up listening to mainly hip hop, but with pop music in a close second….and worked in radio to top it off.
Mikey P – he grew up equally listening to pop & hip hop…and also worked in radio for quite some time.
Kristyn – she grew up listening to R&B music, not to mention she is the only female in the group
Michael Cartel – the most musically different member of DaCav…he started off in a “Screamo Band” before becoming a recording artist/DJ
with that said…we created the sound of DaCav.
Carrying a rich sound that echoes the ears but carries in your mind, what musical infuences affect the writing of your music? Do you write out of imagination or from personal experiences?
As far as musical influences, each member is unique. We all grew up with different musical backgrounds, with tons of influences. Anywhere from Eminem to David Guetta to Killswitch engage to Mariah Carey…its kinda cool actually!
Now imagination and personal experience…LOL…now were talking! Its no secret that we party and like to have a good time! Its no secret that our music is influenced by this (example “this is where the parties at” & “To The Sky” music videos). We take experiences and stories that we all have and we write them down. We have all been in relationships, we’ve all had break ups and make ups…so talking out of personal experience is easy when you have 4 members in a group. Our song “Duck Hunt” and our song “To Hell With Love” are prime examples of this.
Coming from the “City of Brotherly Love”, tell us a secret that nobody knows about the Philadelphia area.
Philadelphia is the definition of the word passion. Whether you’re talking about music, sports teams, places to eat, or places to hang out…we are passionate!
Not Genos, Not Pats….Jim’s Steaks! haha….we knew you wanted to ask it!
What spawns the passion you have in your work?
We want to be the best because we know we can be the best. We aren’t in the music industry because of the money and fame…yea thats great and all…but we are in it because we just love to create. We take ourselves serious and we look at ourselves as a business. We don’t have a plan B in life. DaCav is plan A, B, C & D….So we make sure that we put every ounce of effort into everything we do. Each member of DaCav puts every part of their heart into this.
Talk about this addiction of getting the party started. It seems that your fun spirit has been highly receptive!
We just love to have a good time. We love to get the crowd involved and having the crowd party with us. Our shows are high energy and more like a party than a concert. We are all light hearted and jokesters in our own way. Its cool to be serious and all…but honestly, who doesn’t want to have an awesome time??!?! haha!
What would you be willing to tell us about your newest release “Skybound”?
Skybound is us telling the wold that we are 100 percent all in. We aren’t stopping until we are on top of the world. The project consists of 19 tracks that show every aspect of us, from partying to talking about our relationships with exes. When artists make albums, they stick to one sound because thats what the music industry is programed to think is right. We don’t believe that at all, we know our fans are all different so why should all of our music be the same sound?
Are there any summer tour plans? Please fill us in on some short term goals for DaCav!
It starts with our album release party on March 26th at Harrahs Pool in Atlantic City, NJ. We are also planning a big college tour, stay tuned!
What message would you have for society as a whole?
Whatever your career is, your goal is or whatever your dream is, go for it. We live in a world where everyone has access to everything, use it for good. This is a DIY (do it yourself) era…nothing will be handed to you. Don’t take anything for granted and embrace those that support you.
What do you think of Alwayz Therro? Please take a moment and pour out your final thoughts and words to our readers and your fans!
Alwayz Therro has our support 100 percent. More publications should do what you are doing, you are giving the new artist or the undiscovered artist a chance. Jay Z didn’t start out as the Jay Z we all know and love today…he was given a chance.
Alwayz Therro thanks DaCav and we wish them all the best in their future endeavors!
50 Cent has revealed the ferocious cover for his fifth album Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire to Win. The artwork, which he posted on 50Cent.com, shows a lion staring into the camera and baring his teeth.
The album marks his first since leaving Shady/Aftermath/Interscope and signing an independent deal with Caroline/Capitol Music Group.
On March 18, he will drop two new tracks and videos for “Hold On” and the Yo Gotti-assisted “Don’t Worry ‘Bout It.” A new song will be released each Tuesday until May 20, with the album arriving on June 3.
50 will kick off SXSW by headlining a concert from Austin’s 1100 Warehouse tonight at 9 p.m. EST.
Vinyl Jacket, from Newcastle, had spent the months of 2013 refining their progressive guitar pop sound. The results are fantastic as can be heard in their ‘Safari’ EP that’s due for release in digital format April 2014. They have made noise since their debut single in 2011 and even featured along the likes of Radio 1, BBC 6 Music, as well as XFM. Their warm sound would make a delightful addition to anyone’s spring soundtrack! Matt Walch took a moment and had spoke with us about the EP and the story surrounding the band known as “Vinyl Jacket”.
How did all of you come to meet and start making music together?
Ben and Jack are brothers, so I’m sure they met quite a while ago. Probably in a hospital. That sounds disguisedly rock and roll. I’m not sure when they first started making music, but their family is very musical so probably quite early on. Their family is like the Von Trapps, minus the curtain clothing. Pullen met Ben at school, and they all formed a band a few years ago. They wrote pop punk stuff at first, I think. I met Ben at University in 2011 and was the band’s sound engineer for 18 months. Then the former lead guitarist left mid-2012, leaving a wonderful lead guitarist-shaped hole. I filled that hole with zeal and gusto.
“Summer is fresh and full of optimism“
The sound you carry in your music is one that’s fresh and optimistic. What influences come to play when writing this music?
In terms of general influences, I think the summer season is quite a big one. Summer is fresh and full of optimism, so I guess we try to channel that. Maybe we’re solar-powered.
Musically-speaking, we all love Paul Simon’s Graceland album, so that has been a big collective influence. We all like Everything Everything and Little Comets too. Our individual tastes converge to create an eclectic pool of inspiration to draw from – Ben likes Paul Simon and Robbie Williams (…), Pullen likes Frank Ocean, anything that jams slowly and Mariah Carey (which explains most of his ultrasonic harmony choices), I like Snarky Puppy and SikTh’s chaotic and intricate guitar work, and Jack… I don’t even know what Jack likes. Anything with a remotely interesting bassline I guess.
“our greatest challenge so far has been to keep our heads up“
What’s been the greatest challenge to overcome so far? What would you say to those wishing and dreaming to play music?
2013 was spent behind closed doors, writing a full set of new tracks, demoing them, reworking them, demoing them again, then recording them etc. I think our greatest challenge so far has been to keep our heads up during those 12 months of not putting anything out, and not playing any shows. It can become difficult to remember your reasoning when no one’s listening.
To those wishing and dreaming to play music, I don’t know. Do it? What’s stopping you?
Newcastle! Would you please let all of us know something we wouldn’t about this famous town?
George Stephenson built the world’s first public inter-city railway, between Liverpool and Manchester. He was born in the same village as the other three lads in the band. Your socks were on. Now they’re off.
When can we expect to see you come and play in the US and Canada?
A US / Canada tour would be the dream. Hopefully we’ll be playing shows there within the next couple of years, as vague as that is. We’ll be sure to make a lot of noise about it if it comes to that. Although the lads would have to drag me away from Bruins / Maple Leafs games if we did come over (I’ve got love enough for two).
“perhaps great things come to those who graft their nads off”
If you had one thing to say to society, what would that be? Does this message get portrayed in your music?
Safari is about realizing one’s potential, taking opportunities and growing, so we’d probably say something along those lines. Go get. Good things may come to those who wait, but perhaps great things come to those who graft their nads off. If not, the glory is in the ride. How inarticulately poetic.
Talk about your Safari EP, the work put into it, reception so far, and the progress to your full length album.
I recorded and mixed the Safari EP myself, using a handful of borrowed microphones and my ancient PC in vacant warehouses around Newcastle, and in Ben & Jacks’ parents’ dining room. Those spaces just sounded great for different instruments and reasons. Ben helped produce the EP, mind. He’s a great guy to generate recording and mix ideas with, and a good motivator. Everyone had a say on the writing and arrangement though. The reception so far has been great! We’ve just announced our very, very small UK tour in support of the EP release on April 14th, so hopefully the support will continue to grow up to and throughout those dates. We’re definitely on track to a full length album. Before that, there is a lot more to come from us in 2014. We didn’t just write one EP’s worth of material during our time writing throughout 2013…
Did you see yourselves here five years ago? Where do you see you guys in the next five years?
Five years ago, I didn’t even know the others. I always wrote music but it was all mathy progressive rock / metal back then. I never would have guessed I’d have ended up dressing prog-inspired guitar work in the Magnum PI-esque floral shirt and inexplicably short shorts of alternative tropical pop. In five years time, I genuinely hope to still be doing what we’re doing but at the “next level”, and with a strong discography and following behind us. We love writing, recording and playing music, so I hope that enjoyment never ceases.
“it’s all about the music baby!”
Outside of music, whom or what do you look up to?
Tough one. If I asked the others, I’m sure they’d all say they respect independent enterprises that put the hard work in to earn their gains. I say I’m sure because I think there is a general consensus of respect for the equivalent in music – bands that do a lot of the hard work themselves, personable enterprises that put the legwork in and are grateful for (and reward) any help along the way. I know you asked outside of music, but it’s all about the music baby!
What do you think of Alwayz Therro magazine? I’ll let you have the last word to our readers and your fans!
I’m a fan of your philosophy. “Be willing to adapt like water”. I like that a lot.
Thank you Raymond for taking the time to get in touch, and thank you for taking the time to read my borderline-nonsensical ramblings. Hopefully we’ll be knee-deep in US and Canadian dates sometime soon.
Alwayz Therro thanks Matt for his time and we wish Vinyl Jacket the very best into their optimistic and promising future! Remember their EP titled “Safari” is due out April 14th of the year 2014 on digital format.