State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Author - SITR Alumni

Listen to The GoAround's Debut Album "Restating the Question"

The GoAround is a pop/alt-rock group based out of West Chester, PA, created by brothers Alexander and Anthony Saddic in 2006. Their strong hometown fan base has been expanding thanks to multiple live performances on the popular Philadelphia radio station, Radio 104.5. In August they debuted their first album, Restating the Question. The duo claims that their songs “lyrically serve to motivate people to analyze what they stand for”. Check out the acoustic version of our favorite track, “When I Hit Bottom”. You can listen to the rest of their album via their Soundcloud.

 

Like what you hear? The band has several upcoming shows in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Check them out at www.TheGoAround.com!

Chyron: Sound & Soul Mixtape Release!


Chyron's 'Sound & Soul' Mixtape

Hip-hop artist Chyron, or Kobbie Turkson, has just released a new mixtape, ‘Sound & Soul’ today. Before you read any farther, scroll down and press play. When I first heard some of Turkson’s music, I knew he was destined to do great things. Being able to sing and rap, he’s got the upper hand on other artists in the game. Don’t expect the generic lyrics you hear from so many young rappers trying to make a name for themselves. Chyron’s wordplay is proper, as he incorporates metaphors and smooth rhymes to make music about subject matter relevant to everyday life, sending out a bigger message than to just ‘FBGM.’ I sat down and talked to Turkson a little bit about what he’s been doing lately and about ‘Sound & Soul.’

 Interview with Chyron

It’s been a while since I’ve seen you. What exactly have you been doing this past year?

Well, working on the mixtape is probably what I’ve been doing the most. Then, people have been hitting me up for clothing shoots so I’ve been in contact with this company called Vrnaqlr. We’re working with them and trying to get work done on the videos for the mixtape. My sister’s gonna help me out with the styling in those. Really, I’ve just been making music and have been in the studio working.

What can you say about the development of your music over the last few years since you started doing the music thing?

Since I got to Pittsburgh, I’ve just been trying to hone in on my sound. Everything’s starting to sound alike, not uniform, but more and more like me and what I’m trying to portray through my music. I’m really liking that, so I’m just trying to go with it and perfect my style.

You can sing and rap. Do you think that gives you an advantage over other artists?

I don’t know if it’s an advantage but there are some things that are cool. Like, a lot of rappers like to have hooks in their songs, and I don’t have to go find anybody to do that. I can try to do it myself so then I can write it and there’s no conflict. There’s more I can do and a bigger variety of music I can make.

What are your strongest influences?

My favorite rapper of all time is Lupe Fiasco, but the people that I’m into now are Kendrick, J.Cole, Curren$y, Wiz; all people doing it now and influencing hip hop to be better than what has been coming out lately. All the people doing it good in hip hop, and obviously Jay-Z, 2pac, Biggie, all the people that established this; you can’t ever deny them their right to be your influences.

What went into the production of this upcoming mixtape?

It was the first time I went into other studios to record tracks. I made ‘Fantasy’ and ‘For You’ with LaHarrier, which is a production company out here in Pittsburgh, and then I made the title track, ‘Sound & Soul’ with Will Brown here in Pittsburgh. It was the first time I did that, usually I just do it myself, which is how I did the rest of the track. This time, I learned a lot more about the engineering process behind it, though. A lot of the songs turned out a lot better than any of my old stuff, so I’m excited about that. And yeah, I’ve just been trying to keep going, networking, and finding other people to work with to make the best music I can.

How long have you been working on the album?

I started before this summer and worked on it throughout the summer and figured out exactly what I wanted to do with it.

So, what are you doing on the daily to help your music career?

Really, just writing. I’m pretty bad with the promotion and all of the auxiliary things that come with being in the music industry and I just hope to get better with that and grow with that as this gets bigger. All I know I can do is just write songs, keep doing it and loving it and trying to perform.

What are your goals for the future?

Goals for the immediate future are to try and get shows and open for as many people as I can and try and spread this tape. Then, work on another one and do it again until you build a fan base and get famous.

Listen to ‘Sound & Soul’ by Chyron here:

Concert Review: Umphrey's McGee @ Stage AE 10/19

Umphrey's McGee at Stage AE 10/19/12

Fifteen years ago at Notre Dame, Brendan Bayliss, Ryan Stasik, Joel Cummins, and Mike Mirro formed the rock band, Umphrey’s McGee. Two years later, Andy Farag would join, and two years after that so would Jake Cinninger. In 2002, Mirro left the band and was replaced by Kris Myers.

The line up has been the same since, and last Friday night, the six guys threw down at Stage AE in Pittsburgh, PA. Umphrey’s McGee has accumulated a big following over the years amongst many jamband enthusiasts, and they really prove themselves through their performances. The fluidity and versatility of their music is incredible, and their live shows have amazed me thus far. While they definitely love to jam, they’re also influenced by a lot of progressive rock and heavy metal bands, dubbing their style, “improg rock.”

The variety of their show was apparent Friday night, as we got a little bit of everything; some metal, a Radiohead cover, and Umphrey’s songs both old and new. I was happy to hear a few of my favorites, Intentions Clear, Puppet String, and Hajimemashite. A couple songs I hadn’t heard before that I really enjoyed were Uncle Wally and Morning Song.

We had a long drive from State College and ended up missing the opening act, Bright Light Social Hour, but made it just in time for the start of Umphrey’s. Accompanying the band was lighting designer Jefferson Waful who put on an equally astonishing show. Despite running behind, I definitely got my fill of live music from the two and a half hour Umphrey’s McGee set. With the same result as always, the talented jamband left me wanting more.

Thankfully, Umphrey’s offers recordings of their live shows online. I think it’s pretty sweet that a lot of live bands have consistent recordings available. Because each show is usually different every time whether it’s the mix of songs played or the different ways the band changes things up, it is awesome to be able to listen to a set from a previous show you attended and relive your experience. Snag a few Umphrey’s shows from their archive for some good listening!

Also, check out these photos I took at the show. The rest, you can find here  in our Facebook album!

"If You're on a UFO and You go to the UFO Disco Lounge…": My Interview with Jason Hann of EOTO

EOTO is the improvisational duo of Michael Travis and Jason Hann. If you like to get funky, these are the guys for you! EOTO is a livetronica band with influences from almost every genre of danceable music. Every show they play is completely improvised, and in itself, an unforgettable experience. They bring it all together, and through their creativity and phenomenal musical abilities they truly make it their own. The duo’s goals are to keep developing their sound, and to really maintain a wide variety of influences and moods. Michael and Jason play for their crowd; just as their music is fueling our dancing, our dancing is fueling their music. This past week, I got a chance to call Jason and talk to him about EOTO, the Bass Invaders tour, and what they’re trying to do in the future.

 

Michael Travis & Jason Hann of EOTO

Where are you guys headed now?
We just landed in Seattle, we play tonight for City Arts Festival, and uh tomorrow we’re in Ashland, Oregon and then Arcata, California on Saturday.

 

You guys do hundreds of shows a year, and you and Michael have to spend a lot of time together. So, I’m curious, what’s that relationship like?

Oh, that’s a good question. You know, basically it’s like a ton of fun on the road and after a while it’s just like the whole family traveling together on a group trip somewhere. Everyone knows everyone pretty well.

 

How do you two communicate on stage? What cues do you give eachother?

Basically, what we used to do, we used to have all kinds of hand signals almost like baseball signals on stage where we had certain cues for what each other was getting ready to do with the music. We used to have a bunch of those, but after playing almost 800 shows together, we’ve kind of narrowed it down to very few because we get so busy and in our own world.

 

Whenever you go to add something, how specific do you have to be with each other?

Oh, not at all. If there’s anything that really happens on stage that feels kind of weird that the other person’s doing, we’ll just sort of mention it after and keep that in mind; either stay away from it or do that more next time, but it won’t be something that we go through during the show. When we’re musically going with our instincts, you know, we improve on the stage. Everything happens and you deal with it but we know how to make things that even we think are mistakes into some of the coolest parts.

 

I know that The String Cheese Incident doesn’t play as many shows as EOTO, but you guys are both still committed to both things. How does having the commitment to SCI and EOTO affect you guys?

Basically, I think String Cheese has a little bit further look ahead type of thing. We have our meetings months and months in advance to see what summer might look like or what the holidays might look like. Then, we factor in rehearsal days and after that we go back to our manager and say we want to do these certain amount of days with EOTO. We basically fill our schedule up, but right now we’re getting better at leaving some weekends open and also some days during the week open for family’s sake and having a little home time.

 

What does SCI think of EOTO?

I think there’s a general feeling that they’re glad that we’re working and doing stuff outside of it since we’re addressing that part of us musically. We definitely have our things though, like when we do a SCI weekend, it’s preferred that we don’t try to do EOTO as part of it, except for something like Rothbury where we play on a completely different day. That goes for everybody’s side projects, not just for EOTO. They expect that for the little bit of time that we do get together with SCI, we’re completely present for that.

 

What do you feel is the biggest reward from being in EOTO?

Oh wow, there are all kinds of things that go along with that. There’s a lot of musical satisfaction. We can just make our music on a night-to-night basis, and we can just play hours of music and keep an audience captured and dancing really hard all night, and hit so many different areas and moods of music as well. The only thing it does, really, is get better; you know, how we’re comfortable with our instruments and new things that we’re trying to do. There’s a lot of things that we try to do that don’t necessarily work out but if we keep doing them more and more they get better and better.

 

You’ve played at venues of all sizes. Which do you prefer, crowds of thousands of people like Electric Zoo or smaller more personal ones like Catskill Chill or venues you play on tour?

It probably sounds predictable, but it’s all good. The intimate crowds are great because you just see faces. Through the course of one evening, I’ll definitely try to look at whoever’s face I can, where the lights aren’t shining in my eyes, even if they’re not looking back at me. I like to see where everyone’s coming from and it’s so great to see all the different personalities and you know, try to connect like that. Then, at a big festival, where you know there’s probably a few thousand people that you can’t see, you just try to take in the energy that’s coming at you and transfer that into the music and get it back out to them and you see a general sense of the sea bubbling [hahaha] on how people are dancing and that becomes a little bit more of what we feed off of.

 

Okay, so does someone play the lotus stage to what you guys are doing in the same way lights are played to a show?

Absolutely, we have our guy, Zebbler (Peter Berdovsky), who used to do the video stuff for Shpongle, and he’s been with us for about a year and a half now. He’s flying by the seat of his pants at the same time, you know, where he’s got this layout for the lotus with all his projections and all his themes. When we hit certain moods, he tries to find a theme that matches what we’re doing. He’s got his own thing going on as far as trying to match up his videos with the music but also thinking like, “Is this the part where you really turn up the crowd or is it not enough to drop the monster face on the lotus, or is it playful enough to have the EOTO pinball game, or now are we going underwater or going into steampunk kind of vibe?” So we just let him go off on his own with whatever he’s feeling too, and that’s why he’s very interactive with the say and changes in our mood as well.

 

I know that you guys are influenced by STS9 and Lotus and recently Skream with dubstep. Is there any new genre or artist that you guys have been feeling lately?

Well, one of the things that’s cool that we’re able to do and that we’re really proud of is with whatever genre that we’re really into, Travis starts sound designing stuff and I start to get into different beats and a lot of times those influences translate into other styles that we happen to be playing. So, if Travis has this really killer bass sound that he created for dubstep, all of a sudden he might try to use that same sound on something that’s electro or that’s kind of funky or glitch-hoppy. Then, all of a sudden it becomes, “Wow that sound isn’t normally associated with that style, but it’s working and it’s new.” I think one of the things that we’ve tried to go into is doing some of the trap music that’s live and that’s kind of become quite the rager. It’s a different style of music and we just figured out a way to make those huge 808 bass sounds work in an improvised way, which if I got into it’d be weird and nerdy and technical but we just kind of made it be able to work. So now, the last couple of sound checks, we’ve sort of tried to go into that mode and to make sure that if we go into it, that it sounds nice and big when we hit it because if you try to play one of those styles and you’re not really hitting it, then it comes off looking pretty wimpy. We just try to get better, and that’s the thing that we’re struggling with right now, but we’ll play that a few times and try to get used to what it takes to play that style and then we’re good to go.

 

Since you guys kind of came up in the underground electronic scene, I’m curious as to what your opinion is on mainstream EDM music like Aviici and Skrillex.

As far as Skrillex goes, there’s not a single producer that I think I’ve talked to that hasn’t been like, that dude changed the face of so much electronic music. The way he came up with his bass sounds and how he started messing with melodic sounds and vocal stuff and drum programming and putting it all into one package got every producer to be like, “What the hell just happened? How did this little screamo kid just change the face of bass music?” So he gets a lot of respect like that from other producers and I know the general feeling is that there’s equal amounts of love and hate for that guy. Anybody that I know that I’ve ever talked to says he’s the nicest guy. When SCI did the Hangout Festival last year, he was side stage being all into us and you know, he’s just a really nice kid. As far as the music in general, once anything that big comes out, then you have the clones just following it up like, “let’s all sound like Skrillex.” Then it becomes something else and there’s a lot of bad and boring stuff out there and Skrillex has kind of repeated himself to the point where it doesn’t necessarily sound as fresh but anytime music gets that big, you’re gonna have some good music that you really have look for and a lot of really bad music that you have to wade through. I just search for the good stuff and try to keep up on music that’s come out in the last two months or so and, you know I hear a lot of bad music but I also hear a lot of young producers where I’m like, “Oh my God, they’re really hitting it.”

 

So how would you describe EOTO’s sound to someone who has never heard and knows nothing about you guys?

Yeah, for someone that’s not either around it or not into EDM, I just say it’s an alien disco dance party. If you’re on a UFO and you go to the UFO disco lounge, we’re probably set up trying to do our stuff and it’ll be fun; you’ll get all your tentacles and webbed feet dancing [hahaha].

 

So what are some of the goals you guys have set for this tour season and the upcoming year?

Well this tour season, it was to really hit these weekends hard, let people know we’ve got our lotus sculpture projection mapping with us and that our style continues to evolve. If you haven’t seen us in a year we already sound really different. We went through a phase where we were just trying to get our gnarliness out and trying to really nail how gnarly we could get and now we’ve really gone back to trying to hit all these different styles so that throughout the course of the evening it’s kind of this journey of like, “Wow that’s really different and that’s really different,” but it’s all groovy and working together. So if you haven’t seen us in a while, then you should definitely see us again. We just keep playing and keep getting better and hitting more variety.

What, out of all the gear you use, are your favorite mics and plugins and compressors?

Ah, that’s great! Well, we can’t do any of this without Abelton Live, and that lets us record everything. All the effects we use are just Abelton effects because if we used any other effects, it would create too much latency in using live microphones. Then, Travis uses an iPad with Animoog, and as one of my iPad programs, I use Lemur. That allows me to control my computer and Travis’s computer to control different effects on Abelton for the overall mix. Travis also uses a Korg Kaosillator, which is kind of an effect type of thing that we use on a lot of different sounds.

 

Is there anything else that you’d like me to include that I might have missed?

Well, we try to record as many of our live shows as possible, and they get released on this site called livedownloads.com, and we just recently released our 500th live show (for free!!). We’ve probably played almost 800 shows but have recorded about 500 of them, so we’re really proud that we’ve been able to release that many shows. All of our shows are different, so you can really hear our music progress.

 

EOTO will be in Stroudsburg, PA on October 25th and Pittsburgh, PA on October 26th. State In The Real will be at the Pittsburgh show, so see you guys next Friday at The Rex Theater!

 

Check out the band’s new website: http://eotomusic.com/

Look up tour dates: http://eotomusic.com/tour/

Show some love and purchase any EOTO shows: http://www.livedownloads.com/searchRes.aspx?searchStr=eoto&x=0&y=0

Concert Review: Conspirator at Levels 10/11/12

Conspirator

Conspirator @ Levels Nightclub

If you found yourself at Levels Nightclub last Thursday night, chances are that you also found yourself unable to stop dancing. Conspirator is another great livetronica band created by Aron Magner and Marc Brownstein of The Disco Biscuits. This year they’re on tour with guitarist, Chris Michetti, of RAQ and drummer, KJ Sawka of Pendulum. Opening for Conspirator was Cinnamon Chasers and Abakus, both projects of Russ Davies. He fuses all that is electronic music into two great sounds.

Cinnamon Chasers at Levels Nightclub

Check out Conspirator’s tour as they’ll be hitting up the east coast and the Midwest with Umphrey’s McGee, Boombox, Abakus, and Cinnmon Chasers through November.