Ste Essence – Press Release – August 30, 2015



Fidget Music Artist, Ste Essence, To Release Debut Single On Label This September

Ste Essence, the newest signee to the Fidget Music record label, will be releasing his debut single on the label September 29. ‘I Wanna Believe,’ a tune featuring Vicky Jackson, introduces the veteran DJ with fierce skill and passion. The release of the single will also be accompanied by a series of remixed versions of the song.

Fidget Music is a relatively new label, and Essence’s debut on their brand is their second official release. It is, however, following closely behind ‘All Through The Night,’ the highly successful Duplex single. (Also featuring Vicky Jackson.) The track charted in the UK Top 40 Music Week Charts, peaking at number eleven on the Upfront Club chart and number nine on the Commercial Pop chart.

Ste Essence is anything but a green performer. With the better part of two decades of work under his belt, the DJ has been playing throughout the UK for years. Under several different monikers, Essence has explored a deep realm of music: from drum and bass to house, his eclectic repertoire is constantly expanding in new directions. The same can be said for his ever-growing list of collaborative projects. From playing alongside artists such as D. Ramirez and Annie Mac to the world’s most well known club brands such as We Love, Electricity, and Flashback, Essence has proved a poignant collaborator.

As aforementioned, there are four different remixed versions of ‘I Wanna Believe.’ The original mix is written and produced by Ste Essence and sung by the talented Vicky Jackson. With bombastic pianos and organs, infectiously catchy hooks, and stomping basslines, this retro-feeling song is perfect for the happier crowd within big room house music. The extended mix of the track has been described as “pure sunshine vibes,” adding a unique flair to the original.

The first collaborator on the project is Stuart Ojelay, who produced the first remix of the song. With a different organ melody and the creative use of filters and remixing, Ojelay has crafted a compelling take on the original song. He’s been a house music veteran for more than fifteen years, touring the world and becoming a household name in production. Perhaps most famously, Ojelay mixed, compiled, and produced the ‘Hed Kandi Taste Of’ series album, which topped iTunes charts.

The second collaborative effort for Ste Essence’s new release is a more peculiar one. Brandon Reeve is fifteen years old and he’s already made an incredible name for himself in the industry. He’s a prodigy of sorts, one that hasn’t gone unnoticed. He’s signed to Tackle Records and has supported the likes of Curbi, Zeds Dead, and Joey Rumble. His take on ‘I Wanna Believe’ is a futuristic playhouse of intriguing melodies and old school break sections.

On September 29, ‘I Wanna Believe’ and its four versions will be available on both iTunes and Beatport. Fans can connect with Fidget Music, Fidget Studios, and the artists for the release at their respective social networking and web presences listed below.

Fidget Music:

Twitter: @FidgetMusic

Fidget Studios:

Twitter: @FidgetStudios

Ste Essence:

Twitter: @SteEssence

Stuart Ojelay:

Brandon Reeve:

Robin B. Czar – ‘Mission Bizarre’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be digging into the music of Robin B. Czar, an indie artist who just released an extensive album and is now touring across the UK. His ten track album, titled ‘Mission Bizarre,’ is an eclectic rock and roll effort that pulls from an array of influences when crafting its own original sound. To give some context to the album, let’s learn a bit about it and B. Czar.

‘Mission Bizarre’ took B. Czar over a year to record. With eighteen months in the studio, his blood, sweat, and tears went into this effort. He’s a performer that’s become known for his “natural talent and ability to evoke impressively virtuous melodies from nearly every instrument he lays his hands on.” That description is quite apt. ‘Mission Bizarre’ is an accessible, often very catchy effort. Let’s check it out.

The opening tune, ‘Your Descent to Hell’ is incredibly complex. There’s just so much at play here. Power pop rock and roll dominates the sound, but toward the latter half of the tune, something more demonic is at play. Electronic synthesizers and cascading electric guitar riffs bounce off one another with immense tact, thus manifesting into a dramatically compelling, eerie effort. B. Czar’s lyrics and performance are on point: he’s not your traditional vocalist or predictable talent. It’s a bit like if David Bowie and Alice Cooper had a lovechild. He’s got the sensibility and theatrical nature of both, with the latter’s flair for the occult. (Though vocally, I’d argue he’s akin to the Thin White Duke. He even does that studio vocal work where he sings in two different octaves at the same time and mixes them together.)

‘Requiem’ is a dramatic experience, to say the least. With that said, it’s completely enthralling. It grabs you into the sound and its rock and roll is mesmerizing. There’s a bit of a 1980s hard rock metal flair to this music, too, especially in regard to the electric guitar tones. ‘Free,’ one of my favorite tunes on the record, seems to walk the line between dark themes and pop sensibility. The electronic composition of this song is particularly good, as is the vocal choral hook.

‘She Loved Too Much’ may be the defiant highlight of the first half of ‘Mission Bizarre.’ Goodness, this track is excellent. I love B. Czar’s vocal style. It’s raw and dark, yet somehow lighthearted. Lyrically and instrumentally, this song is absolutely top notch. Those choruses are nothing short of superb, and I love the story of the tune. The electronic-tinged ‘Dr. Dog’ has similar qualities. The banter between synthesized and practical instrumentation is the highlight of that tune.

‘Mad Scientist’ has a unique premise, though I’m not sure how well it’s executed. I found the song a bit too chaotic, and with the filter on B. Czar’s vocals, it’s darn near impossible to understand him. Thus, I’d argue it’s one of the weaker efforts on the collection. Fear not, dear listener. It’s followed up by the searing ‘Grief,’ a killer track. The song does meander a bit longer than I’d like, clocking in at nearly six minutes, but the guitar musings are not to be missed.

The eerie ‘Kiss of Death’ is somewhat forgettable due to its predictability. At this point in the record, I felt like I had heard just enough of what ‘Kiss of Death’ boasts. The themes felt recycled, and it’s another weak link on the collection. Again, however, another fantastic tune comes to the rescue. I love ‘Only That One Wish.’ This song is chock-full of personality and deviates enough from B. Czar’s established formula to bring new thrills toward the tail end of the album. In fact, it does so even better than the modest, but not noteworthy finale, ‘Until We Meet Again.’

Right, so let’s find a verdict on this music. I really, really dig what Robin B. Czar is doing. His style is original, exciting, and culminates elements of so much great music into a fresh product. There are two or three tracks that aren’t the strongest, though. At times, it seems like B. Czar gets too comfortable in specific themes and musical styles, and as a result, those two or three stumbles blur together. The highlights and exceptional pieces are more frequent than those blunders, however, and more than make up for them with gusto and passion. Check out B. Czar’s music on his site below.

Tyler Akin ‘Sea Bee Key’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be taking a peek at the music of Tyler Akin, a rising producer and engineer who works out of Glow in the Dark Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. His newest effort, which is available on Spotify, is ‘Sea Bee Key,’ an eclectic electronic rock EP. With only two tracks , the poignant effort hits hard and has some serious lasting power. Let’s delve straight into it.

In the opening notes of ‘Sea Bee,’ I was completely compelled, because I was expecting an instrumental electronica track. Guest vocalist Michael McGough quickly appears, however, and his cascading, layered vocals are absolutely terrific. The tune has great pop sensibility, creating an infectiously catchy soundscape that’s still complex and detailed. I ended up listening to the song five or six times, dissecting its production. Akin’s music is sharp and well-produced – nothing feels out of place and it’s one of those songs that shines remarkably brightly on a quality sound system. It’s a beautiful, chaotic cacophony of pop and electronic musings that’s brilliantly designed.

‘Key to The Summer’ follows ‘Sea Bee,’ this time, trading that pop sensibility for rock and roll themes. Again, there’s an incredible production surrounding this number. Acoustic guitars, suave vocals, and building instrumentation are all intensely satisfying. Lyrically, it’s a summer rock and roll song about a girl. It doesn’t feel cliche, though. Rather, both tunes feel authentic and wholly genuine. The tight percussion and searing electric guitar on the latter half of ‘Key to The Summer’ are particularly excellent. That said, the song feels more subdued than ‘Sea Bee,’ perhaps embracing a level of brevity that actually benefits the tune.

‘Sea Bee Key’ is an incredibly good little EP. Both tracks are nothing short of superb. Personally, I favor ‘Key to the Summer’ because I love Akin’s rock and roll / electronic hybrid creation. With that said, I adore the complexity of ‘Sea Bee’ and its composition. The two tracks starkly contrast one another, which is the best thing Akin could have done on a two song release. You have to make each tune stand out dramatically. Check it out on Spotify below and connect with Akin on Facebook. He’s an act worth following.

Seldom – ‘Black Mirror’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we shine our light back on an artist we’ve previously dealt with, the band Seldom. Back in June, they dropped a pretty hefty effort, a record called ‘Damaged.’ Now, they’re back. This Saturday, ‘Black Mirror’ will be available for streaming. We’ve gotten an early peek at the five track outing, however, so let’s delve straight into it!

Back in June, I enjoyed ‘Damaged.’ With that said, I was critical of the band’s inability to break out of their bubble. The tracks blurred together a bit too much and I offered the observation that it would have been a much stronger release with half a dozen tracks. It would seem that critique stuck, to some extent, because ‘Black Mirror’ isn’t as large of a collection. Does the album solve the band’s potential problem?

As with their last album, ‘Black Mirror’ is a dark, moody, atmospheric endeavor entrenched in distortion, power chords, and hard rock style. The actual mix of the title track is a bit questionable. The instrumentation feels fragmented, and the bass and percussion are far too loud in the mix. Thus, in the final master, the lead vocalist is drowned out. On studio monitors, I found the bass lines far too overpowering. Other than that, it’s more or less the sound we’ve heard before.

The studio issues ‘Black Mirror’ has are somewhat forgotten on ‘The Grudge.’ The song has some nice harmonies, too, making for a memorable chorus. As I mentioned in my last review, the band’s musicality is top notch. The band’s performances are sharp and on mark throughout. That may be most apparent on the highlight of the collection, ‘Digital Echoes.’ I dig the production on that and how it branches outside their normal sound. ‘Masquerade’ boasts a rather unique guitar lick and the finale, ‘Marionette,’ is an interesting enough outing, but one that doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

I don’t think ‘Black Mirror’ lives up to its potential. I spent about an hour with this EP, listening to it several times through. In doing that, I realized that each of the five songs sounds incredibly like the rest. In fact, I don’t actually think I could determine which song is which in a blind test, even after listening to each of the tracks three or four times through. That’s a serious problem: there seems to be a formula here and it’s very rarely deviated from. If ‘Digital Echoes’ didn’t toy with some new factors, ‘Black Mirror’ would be one giant song.

If you liked ‘Damaged,’ you’ll probably like this. There isn’t anything noteworthy on this album, though, and it falls short of its potential. This band is quite talented – they badly need to break out of the bubble they’ve put themselves in.

Mantooth – ‘Everybody’s Ashtray’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we dig deeply into the music of Mantooth, a rising band hailing from Boise, Idaho. Their new record is an extensive rock and roll debut, ‘Everybody’s Ashtray.’ Clocking in at a hefty dozen tracks, the album isn’t timid in its demand for your attention. It’s hard hitting rock and roll with a defiant vintage flair. Let’s delve straight into it.

The opening tracks, ‘I’m a Mummy’ and ‘Is It Alright Here’ make bold statements out of the gate. They also set the tone for the whole collection. Right, so what is the sound of Mantooth? There’s a couple things at play. They’re a straight up hard rock outfit, right out of the 1980s. (Yeah, we’re talking Poison, Def Leppard, Cheap Trick.) One quick at the band’s social networking also hints that they know this: vocalist John F. Edsall embraces the look full heartedly.

There’s more than just 80s hard rock here, though. While I dig the rocking pastures of ‘I’m a Mummy,’ and the excellent backing vocals, the band really kicked off for me on ‘Is It Alright Here.’ That tune is actually a bit punky as well, smearing in some early 80s power punk. ‘Strip Jack Naked’ is an even harder tune, really drawing inspiration from heavier acts. Above all, it’s fun music. You can immediately tell that Mantooth doesn’t take this overly seriously. It’s party rock music with a vocalist akin to Axl Rose.

The next highlight of ‘Everybody’s Ashtray’ is ‘Isn’t This Nice,’ if not only due to the introduction of a sparse but effective synthesizer section. Also, the song is catchy and has some great harmonies. ‘My Dog Smells Bad’ is also a decent number, perhaps if not just due to its guitar riffs. If it wasn’t for that riff, the song would be mostly forgettable.

Okay, so at this point in the review, it is worth touching on the good and bad of ‘Ashtray.’ The good: incredible production that accents the instrumentation and vocals beautifully. Seriously, nothing in these mixes is out of place or poorly mastered. Everything is solid and professional as can be. The bad: too many songs for what ‘Ashtray’ is. While these songs are, for the most part, quite good, there are too many of them and they don’t deviate enough from their own formula to create a consistently interesting album listening experience. The band would have been much better served throwing four or five tracks on the backburner for a shorter, sharper experience.

‘Take It Out’ would have been a good pick for that burner. It’s also forgettable. ‘We’re Gas’ is refreshingly exciting, however, as is ‘The Ballad of Jimmy the Rodeo Clown.’ In fact, that latter track is particularly good because it provides a much needed reprieve from the in-your-face rock and roll. This soft crooner even has a very, very brief brass section. Absolutely fantastic.

‘Git You Where You Breathe’ feels more than a bit meandering, though I actually dig the Crazy Horse-esque nature of the distorted electric guitar pacing. Edsall’s vocals are way too exaggerated in this tune. His drawn out slurs sound more like a drunken Gene Simmons who can’t seem to find the proper note than anything. It’s not a pretty sound and the vocals completely ruin the track. The closer, ‘I Don’t Even Like You,’ suffers from a similar case of drunken-like tone deafness.

Thus, let’s find a verdict for Mantooth’s debut, ‘Everybody’s Ashtray.’ Instrumentally, the album is top notch. It blends excellent nostalgia with quality production for some killer rock and roll. Lyrically, there isn’t anything special, but the album is a good time. Vocally, it’s strong throughout with the exception of tracks like ‘Git You Where You Breathe’ and ‘I Don’t Even Like You.’ Those two songs pretty terrible, unfortunately. As I previously mentioned, the band would have done well to shorten up the album. Had this been a five or six song EP, it would have been a solid four star effect. In its current state, it’s a solid three. (Again – Don’t listen to the last two tracks.)

Check out the band for an interesting enough rock and roll experience. You don’t hear this stuff very much anymore, so if it’s your speed, than it’ll be right up your alley. Check out the album below.

The Notionaries – ‘Brave With Wires’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we dig deep into the music of The Notionaries, a new, rising group hailing from the midwest. Signed by the indie label Brickhouse Music Group, the band is creating a flurry of press around their new debut record, ‘Brave With Wires.’ To better provide context to this record, let’s learn a bit about The Notionaries.

The Notionaries are a “group of millennial artists committed to embracing freedom and creativity through music.” More so, they seem to emphasize good vibrations and uplifting messages in their songs. Thus, they’re akin to acts like Foster the People, Coldplay, or the more recent Imagine Dragons. Right off the bat, this had me apprehensively intrigued, because this genre has become so mainstay in recent years, that in itself, it has become cliche to a certain extent. As always, though, I gave The Notionaries a chance with ‘Brave With Wires.’ Let’s talk about the album.

Let’s break ground with ‘Excited Eyes,’ because I can also touch on the music video for the single. As aforementioned, it’s catchy, very Foster the People-esque, and upbeat. The production is quite good. The band really has a strong hand over their studio work and mix is perfect. (That’s probably largely due to their collaboration with Brickhouse.) Lately here on the Spotlight, I’ve been talking about bands with ‘pop sensibility.’ It’s one of those ‘it’ factors that some bands utilize to bring a new element of excitement to their tunes. The Notionaries most certainly embrace it, and it positively benefits them. It’s pop rock aimed at millennials; I imagine high school and college kids will get a good spin out of ‘Excited Eyes.’

The music video for the single is remarkably well shot. Three young men seem to “throw their cares to the wind” and adventure through a bleak, wintery wonderland. The video creates a sense of childish innocence with the characters, something the lyrics back, too. To be blunt, I’m not sure if the premise of the video is ever made clear; it’s one of those projects that seems to leave its meaning up to interpretation. Man, though, the color grading and shooting of the video is really top notch.

Let’s talk about ‘Royal Ways,’ the second tune off the collection. Its tone, while similar to ‘Excited Eyes’ is decisively different. Again, it’s catchy pop rock. This song in particular explores growing up – the lyrics ponder changes throughout youth, perhaps in a superficial sense. Nevertheless, the song is easy to relate to and oddly uplifting, so The Notionaries fulfill their quota of that ten fold.

‘I’ll Wait’ is a softer spoken tune, though it does walk in the footsteps of its two predecessors. Reverb-heavy vocals align interestingly over a soundscape of synthesizers, thick percussion, and electronic-like instrumentation. Think the Wombats: these guys sound a whole lot like the Wombats. (Musically, anyway. Lyrically, they have a long way to go to stack up to the Wombats.) ‘I’ll Wait’ is still a refreshing track, if not simply due to its reprieve in the style ‘Excited Eyes’ and ‘Royal Ways’ introduced.

‘Made Up’ is actually my favorite song of the collection. It’s quite sharply written and performed. More so, the song made me excited about the band for the first time. It’s similar to the other tunes, but brings a new element of originality to the table that the other songs lack. The composition of ‘Made Up’ is wholly original and had me humming the tune the rest of the day. Plus, that dirty, fuzzy guitar solo is the best bit of instrumentation on the whole record. They need to do more of that more often. Seriously, that section is killer.

‘Bandit’ is my second favorite tune on ‘Brave With Wires.’ It employs many of the elements I enjoyed in ‘Made Up,’ but throws a new twist on them. Lyrically, it’s the best penned song on the album by a significant margin. The rest of the lyrical themes in the collection, while fulfilling, are predictable. The lyrical theme of ‘Bandit’ is exceptional, showcasing the band can write some intelligent lyrics and pair them with fun pop rock.

So, what’s the verdict on ‘Brave With Wires’? It’s an admirable debut, one that’s much better than most debuts. ‘Bandit’ and ‘Made Up’ are the best tunes on the album, showcasing a Notionaries aura that is intriguingly original. The other songs are enjoyable, but predictable romps through expected tropes. Thus, I actually think The Notionaries are quite a good group. I do, however, think that they owe it to themselves to apply that talent to increasingly original ideas. Those latter two tracks exhibit that they can do just that. In round two, I want a full record of that. Regardless, ‘Brave With Wires’ is worth your time. Check it out below.

Ditsea Yella – Their Three New Tunes

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we delve into an English band that’s quite enigmatic. Ditsea Yella, a mysterious outfit with three new original tunes, blurs the lines between indie rock, electronic music, and experimental alternative. Their online presence, or lack thereof, doesn’t provide much biographical information. They seem to be a duo, however, and their image is one of mystery and vague self-description. Let’s dig into their music.

Perhaps Ditsea Yella’s ambiguous social networking is a positive thing, at least, in the context of this review. Their music stands alone and without obstruction. There isn’t anything to the act besides the music. That’s a refreshing change from indie acts that flood their social media with irrelevant information and flashy press content. Uninhibited by any of that context, I listened to their three new songs: ‘Sin Mona Lisa,’ ‘Boys And Girls,’ and ‘Vampire.’ Then, I listened to them half a dozen more times.

There’s something inherently compelling about these songs. As aforementioned, they utilize a good deal of electronic instrumentation. Complex drum machines and synthesizers envelope the sound as reverb-soaked vocals rise and fall from the madness. The female who sings lead vocals is elusive, and in honesty, it’s difficult to understand her a good deal of the time. Thus, you’re forced to lean into your speakers and take an active listening role. In actuality, it makes the experience much better. I found myself relistening to ‘Sin Mona Lisa’ over and over to dissect the lyrics. Musically, it’s top notch.

‘Boys And Girls’ is an electronic song as well, but it flirts with rock influence. Guitars and bass slide in and out of the mix. The concoction is quite original, creating a soundscape akin to a Laurie Anderson spectacle. (Seriously, it sounds like they recorded these songs fresh off of listening to ‘O Superman.’) The production quality is fantastic, and I found the mix solid without any overbearing instrumentation or misplaced audio.

‘Vampire’ feels even more experimental in nature with droning synthesizers and electronic pieces. The song creates a sense of urgency; it’s not an easy listening tune. I dig that, and the song remains powerful throughout. That brings me to a key point: each of Ditsea Yella’s tracks feel authentic and original. They aren’t recycling any idea or themes.

I’m not entirely sure how I’d classify Ditsea Yella’s new music. Hell, I’m not sure they know, either. That said, it’s completely intriguing music very much worth your time. It’s an experimental romp through electronic/rock fusion and mysterious vocalizations. I briefly checked out some of their live performances, which incorporate acoustic guitar and more traditional vocals. I’m interested to see where they go from here: they feel like a wholly unpredictable act.

Soundtrack the band is working on:

Exclusive Interview: Marcelo Camela

The following is an exclusive Independent Spotlight interview with Marcelo Camela, a Mexican instrumentalist with a new contemporary Christian record.

Marcelo, you’re an incredibly intriguing artist with a remarkable new record, ‘Praise & Strings.’ My first question for you is rather simple. You’re from Puebla, Mexico, and much of your content online is in Spanish. You are, however, fluent in English as a result of your work as a professional interpreter. Is your music designed for a specific audience or do you want it to transcend both American, English speaking culture and Mexican Spanish speaking culture?

As a Christian, everything I do is for the glory and praise of my Lord Jesus Christ. What I do with my music is to worship Him in the most genuine way I can with the talents He’s bestowed on me. However, I create songs for the enjoyment of every listener, regardless of their beliefs; In other words, no, my music is not designed for one specific audience. My tunes are instrumental because music knows no language barriers. Yes, the song titles are mostly in English, but I wish to transcend cultural frontiers through the pure language of music.

Your work is a religious piece. You cite it as an “intimate experience with vibrant worship.” How do you perform religious music without vocals? As an instrumental performer, what do you do to convey its spiritual content?

Interesting question! There are three aspects to the album that will help explain how religious music can be performed without vocals.

1) I tried to convey everything I feel while praising God, e.g., peace, joy, solace, love, etc. Songs like “Praising”, “There Is Joy” and “Arms Of Grace” portray all those sentiments.

2) I aimed to create melodies that would make my Lord smile. In a way, some of the tracks are love songs for Jesus. “To Him Who Loves Us”, “Te Amo Jesus”, “From My Heart To Your Ears” and “A Song For My Saviour” were composed with the sole purpose of telling Christ how thankful I am for everything He’s done for me, and how much I love Him.

3) I wanted to represent what Jesus is. I believe in a powerful God. “Lord Of All”, “Might And Glory” and “Invincible” are my musical representation of His greatness. “Light Of The World” is the most peaceful track, meaning that God is not only power and strength, but also the light of my life.

Like many aspiring indie artists, you self-recorded and produced the record at home in your own studio. What was this experience like for you? Did you have any background in production or did you start from scratch? Was it a rewarding experience you’d continue pursuing?

It was a lot of fun! I really enjoy the whole process, but I admit, it can be challenging, tiring, and even annoying at times. Be that as it may, I love recording and working at my studio. It is very satisfying.

No, I don’t have a background in production. I had some experience with minor recording software in high school, but nothing special. When I was 19, I bought a nice little M-Audio interface with Pro Tools and started practicing on my own. My first recording experiences were a “trial and error” thing. Thank God for the Internet! I learned quite a lot from YouTube tutorials and online readings, and while I still have much to learn, I’ve made a lot of progress. I’ve acquired very useful, inexpensive equipment over time, and now I can make decent recordings.

Yes! It was a very rewarding experience! Especially because I am in charge of everything, and I rather like that. It is something I definitely will be doing as long as I can.

Your album elegantly mashes rock and roll influence into your praise with searing electric guitars and riffing. Needless to say, it feels refreshingly contemporary. What are your thoughts on the modern state of worship music?

I think modern worship music has become quite simplistic and clichéd, with the main focus being showmanship instead of musicianship. Almost every act sounds the same nowadays.

Back in the early 2000’s, bands like Hillsong (Australia) and Delirious? (UK) were known for their great musical skills and solid songwriting. They created timeless songs that are sung every Sunday at churches all around the world, and pretty much changed the way Christian music sounds. Today, we get all these new acts that play the most overused chord progressions and sing the laziest lyrics. Seems to me that they’re not even trying! I’m not saying Christian music has to be super technical or intricate, but there´s got to be some effort put into it.

As previously mentioned, you worked as a professional interpreter for missionaries. That sounds like it would be a rewarding and unique experience. Has it had any impact on your music and creativity?

As a matter of fact, yes! I’ve been blessed with the opportunity of visiting various places and meet tons of wonderful people, and that definitely has impacted my life as a whole. To see all the great things God has been doing in the humblest communities inspires me big time! Meeting other musicians and worship ministers from other places has enriched my life a lot.

Instrumentalists often face the same problem: creating a record that’s consistently interesting. You don’t want your songs to blend together or lose their distinct nature. This is very difficult for many indie instrumentalists, and often results in albums that blur from song to song. How do you work to overcome this?

The great flamenco legend, Paco de Lucia, once said: “if you’re impressed by the music you’re creating, your listeners will be even more! Impress yourself before you can impress others.” I believe that, so I strive to make every song unique and easily identifiable. By making use of repetition, certain “themes” or motifs are established that help distinguish the songs from one another. When I listen back, and can say “man, did I play this? WOW!” then, and only then, will a song be complete.

You seem to have a good handle on both sides of your brain, or so to speak. You’re constantly tapping your creativity on the right, but you’re also a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property. Does your work as a lawyer have any impact on your music? (I imagine you must be much more aware of the legal red tape surrounding than most artists.)

I wouldn’t say it has a direct impact on the music itself, but it is convenient to know how to protect my work and release it knowing it will be safe. I think it is important for every aspiring artist to learn at least some rudimentary IP law!

Are you involved with any church worship performances? Or do you have a history with them? It seems like that would right up your alley.

I’ve been my church’s worship leader for almost 8 years now. Have been serving there for 13 years. We have services all week, so I spend a lot of time at church. Love it!

Let’s briefly touch on the future: Where do you go from here? How do you progress your music and continue to create original content, and what are your aspirations?

Well, in the next couple of months I will be touring southern Mexico, imparting free worship clinics, music workshops and performing my album, too. I’m also working on two albums by bands I’m currently involved with. Hopefully we’ll release them soon, as well as a Christmas EP of my own later this year.

What I want is to bless people and starting musicians with the aforementioned clinics, and to reach as many people as I can with my music. Fame is futile and recognition is frivolous if I’m not doing something for others. I intend to use what God has given me to bless others.

Finally, I love to ask this of every artist we talk to here on the Spotlight. It’s always compelling to see an artist not just as a producer of music, but a consumer as well. If you were to shuffle your Spotify or iPod, what five songs may appear?

Oh, man! I have over 5000 songs by over 600 artists, but you may find this:

“The Wake” – August Burns Red | “Our God Is Love” – Hillsong | “El Mar De Mi Ventana” – Niño Josele | “Concerto in C for Flute and Harp” – Mozart | “All Ends Well” – Alter Bridge

Connect With Marcelo:


L.S.D – ‘Off the Grid’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be delving into an eclectic and compelling act, a man from Australia who records under the hip hop moniker, LSD. He’s part of the unique community that is the Australian hip hop scene. As I myself learned when digging into this content, the country’s hip hop has a distinct flair that influenced LSD’s work. His prolific sophomore album ‘Off the Grid,’ just dropped. Let’s get into it.

Now, when I say it’s prolific, it really is. The album clocks in at sixteen tracks scattered with guest features. He’s also got some solid video content out. For the purpose of this review, we’re going to take a glimpse at some of the highlights of ‘Off the Grid.’ Thus, we begin with the opening title track.

‘Off the Grid’ immediately makes a statement about LSD’s repertoire. It’s remarkably well produced and penned. The defiant, even cinematic orchestration backing LSD’s word slinging and DJ’ing is immensely impressive. The track was produced and performed by Rob Shaker, a frequent counterpart to LSD on the album. The collaboration is as fruitful as can be, and that shines through on ‘Go’ as well.

‘Go’ was produced by Creed Birch, though cuts are again performed by Shaker. The second track opens up a whole new sonic landscape, one that flirts with pop and R&B. LSD’s lyrics are as sharp as his production and instrumentation. They are, however, very fast. He’s a rapper with serious skill cascading from one verse to the next with admirable tact. Guest artist The Missus compliments LSD well.

‘Alive Again’ features the same lineup as ‘Go,’ again sonically experimenting with R&B influence. (Actually, some soul as well.) Even though the music is so polished, though, there is an element of genuine rawness to it. The lyrics of ‘Alive Again’ are some of the finest of the tunes I checked out. The song is also infectiously catchy, again tapping into some pop sensibility.

‘The Kids’ brings Mat Rafle to the table on music production. The song’s lyrics are painstakingly dark: rape, drugs, domestic abuse, etc. That said, it’s a poignant song that sits with you, perhaps more so than the rest of the songs. ‘Slow Down’ isn’t quite as dark, rather trading it in for some killer choruses and composition. The lyrics are intelligently penned: though R rated at times, they’re insightful and meaningful. ‘Troubles,’ a tune that again features The Missus, is a fantastic recording to close this review on. LSD’s banter with a female vocalist is incredibly intriguing. Again, his lyrics are excellent.

These songs make a pressing statement for ‘Off the Grid.’ It’s creatively produced and performed and well written, resulting in a rewarding listening experience. Go check out the rest of the record now by streaming and purchasing it on Band Camp, which is linked below. (Go buy it and support LSD – The rest of the album is great as well and for $10, it’s a steal.)

Jordan Carroll – ‘You Know That I Know’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be delving into a new single from Jordan Carroll, a young rising artist hailing from Phoenix. His new tune is ‘You Know That I Know,’ a suave, easy listening rock ballad with a host of other influences as well. We’re getting an early look at it, so you’ll be able to snap it up on September 1. (It will also debut with an exceptionally shot music video.) Now, though, let’s dig into the song.

Carroll aligns his music with acoustic blues and easy listening lounge rock. That’s more or less accurate, but there’s a lot more at play. I’d actually align him with R&B as well, even perhaps pop rock. His lyrical and vocal style have a pop sensibility to them that makes his music both infectiously catchy and incredibly accessible. It isn’t music you have to put much thought into, and it doesn’t ask for much in return. It’s easy, lighthearted, and fitting for a myriad of settings.

Lyrically, the song is a pop rock love ballad. It isn’t terribly deep, but it is well penned. There’s an art to writing a hook; Carroll is on his way to mastering that art. Musically, the instrumentation is elegantly sparse. The percussion is on mark, the electric guitar riffing is excellent, and the mix is well organized. I do want to touch on his vocals, though. He’s a good singer, but he may not be your cup of tea. Carroll is one of those high pitched crooners that can give you a headache if it’s not your thing. (A good rule of thumb – Don’t like frontmen like Adam Levine? This may not be your speed.)

I’ll briefly touch on the music video since it is an integral part of this release. It’s not out yet, so check out Carroll’s website for details and release info. I did have the opportunity to catch the full video, however, and it is remarkably well shot. It’s certainly on par with any other professional music videos I’ve seen in recent years, and it’s miles better than most other independent videos. The video takes inspiration from the song’s creative direction: it’s equally as sparse and calculated, but finely tuned and immensely fitting.

Carroll has a whole lot of potential and this single taps it in a few different ways. I’d love to see what he can do with some deeper lyrical content, but ‘You Know That I Know’ is a superb exhibition of his pop chops. His vocals won’t be for everyone; they aren’t particularly up my alley, in honesty. They do most certainly have a place, though, and Carroll finds that place well and occupies it authentically. Check out the song when it comes out on September 1 and keep updated with Carroll online at the links below.