Browsing Tag


Chris Spruit is star-roving in her spacey blues pop single, LifeSway

Bowie and David Lynch never came together when the sonic star man was of this earth; if they did, their combined artistic alchemy would have undoubtedly had the same disarming appeal as Chris Spruit’s latest single, LifeSway.

With the singer-songwriter sharing the same timelessly spiritual timbre as Stevie Nicks, there was no better pairing for the instrumentals, which pull together as a sonorously virtuosic amalgam of blues, jazz, pop, and soul.

When Chris Spruit isn’t orchestrating her solo singles, she’s pouring soul into the blues rock band Blue Attitude. If LifeSway has given you an insatiable need for more sonic beguile, you will be gratified to hear it is the first of eight tracks from her forthcoming album, Trip to Mars, due for release in February 2023.

LifeSway was officially released on January 29th. Hear it on Spotify. Check out Chris Spruit via her official website.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

We Won’t Recover: Denver harmony masters Better Weather sees that perfect day turn grey on debut track Too Close For Comfort

Initially facilitated by Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes, Better Weather performs with so much seriously genuine skill and carefully crafted eloquence on their debut single Too Close For Comfort.

Led by music producer/songwriter Skyler McCoy, Better Weather is a proudly University of Denver Lamont School of Music student-fused music project who lathers lush vocal harmonies into our hearts.

‘The band has a debut album in the works, which draws inspiration from a variety of genres, ranging from 20th century classical to modern indie and pop. All the musicians are classically- or jazz-trained and play multiple instruments, and three of its members happen to have perfect pitch.” ~ Better Weather

Bringing the world a reminder of why a debut song is so special, Better Weather has dropped a sure-fire timeless classic to play on repeat whenever those reflective moments eerily resonate at a precise moment in time we can’t explain.

Too Close For Comfort from the University of Denver Lamont School of Music project Better Weather is one of those dreamy songs that many will truly correlate to. This is the story of remembering a previous love which sadly moved on, with tiny fragments still looming no matter the time or day. Projected so calmly with a world-class mentality which shall soothe all memories away for the better.

Hear this fine single on Spotify. See more on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Take a Ride Through ‘Cardinal Drive’ with Tony Marino’s Piano Jazz Score

South Philly Latin Jazz musician and composer Tony Marino has been leading world-renowned jazz ensembles and producing original scores since 1975. His accoladed career that has placed swathes of scintillatingly sublime LPs in his discography is now home to his latest album, Original Piano Pieces.

The standout single, Cardinal Drive, is a cinematically rich composition that sets a debonair tone throughout the enlivening score, which simultaneously emanates a sense of melodic ease as Marino works through his globally respected signature flair across the ivories.

With reverence for a myriad of genres from across the world, the instrumental piece refuses to fit in a monocultural mould as Marino seamlessly shifts through a flurry of time and key signatures. In a frantically paced world, Original Piano Pieces flows with a tempo that will efficaciously compose the soul.

Listen to Cardinal Drive via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Stix Bones is ‘Phearless’ in his hip-hop-inspired instrumental jazz single

Stix Bones’ latest album, Breaks from the Soul Vol.2, starts with the swinging smoky jazz grooves in the standout single, Phearless. Standing as a testament to the Brooklyn-based artist’s reverence for the timeless genre, the instrumental single is a disarming triumph; the quintessentially complex time signatures don’t miss a beat while leading you into rhythmic arrest. The funky basslines claw against the bright timbre of the horn stabs, while the percussive fills provide a solid backbone with perfect alignment.

Stix Bones started his career in the industry by touring with the Godfather of the Noise, Rahzel. After stamping his passport in the UK and across Europe with Rahzel, Stix toured the states with the infinitely accoladed Jessica Care Moore before Stix took the position of music director for Lyricist Lounge, which saw him collaborating with De La Soul, Q-Tip and more. His jazzy ensembles can be heard on major TV shows, including The Real House Wives of Miami and in the film Raise Up. Whatever his next move is, it is likely to be a luminary one.

Listen to the Breaks from the Soul, Vol. 2 LP in full via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

It Goes “From the Grave” Right to the Heart

Listening to Abby Lokelani’s track “From the Grave” is a mixed bag of being devastated by the beauty of the art – to weepy sentimentality over my own lost-love. Her breathy but pitch-perfect performance gives way to an intimate engagement in this tune. The electronic drums help to offset what would otherwise be a guitar singer-songwriter number – all the while a heartfelt and, dare I say, the genuine sound is present. Then we move to the lyrics, I have to say, as a widower the phrase “I’ll love you better from the grave” hits me in a way that I can’t imagine anyone else on earth feels. This is a beautiful piece of music balanced by instrumentation, deep/naked emotion, and honest sentiment.

Seems as though Abby Lokelani is a Hawaii native and plays more than a few instruments including guitar and keys (and of course, her most important instrument – her voice, she sings beautifully). She was classically trained as a cellist – which might go some way to explaining her ear – and moved to write her own music and lyrics.

In her own words “I write music to make people feel something…” which is an apt summary of my experience with “From the Grave.” I can say, from my experience, that Abby’s music was that therapeutic balm I needed on a Friday night after a hectic week. Maybe it can do the same for you.

Agaaze interview on A&R Factory: Making music For You

Showing us how powerful optimism and hard work combine rather beautifully, Agaaze kindly sat down with us recently to chat about his classical upbringing, tasty berries and how grateful he is to do what he loves on For You.

Hello there Agaaze. Thanks so much for chatting with us here at A&R Factory. Please let us know where in the world you are today and what do you usually have for breakfast?
Agathya: Hey A&R, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity, I’m truly grateful 🙂 My name is Agathya Visveswaran, and I work under the artist name “Agaaze” (Instagram: @agaaze). I am 20 years old and was born in Rochester, New York. I currently attend the University of Michigan, so right now I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For breakfast each morning I usually have a protein shake- 2 cups almond milk, 2 scoops vanilla whey protein, and a couple of handfuls of berries (gains!)

Please tell us how the creative process worked while making your new project, For You?
Agathya: “For You” actually started based on a real-life experience. In early 2022, I went on a date with a girl, and she just so happened to be wearing a red dress that night. The night was calm, and nothing really came of it afterwards, however, the vivid imagery of ‘the pretty girl in the red dress’ really struck a chord with me. A couple days later I was working with a simple 4-bar loop of music that I made, and, in basically one-sitting, I wrote the entirety of “Cinnamon Paradise” over that loop. I had always wanted to write a love album, and in that moment, I knew I was ready. I expanded upon the theme and setting of “Cinnamon Paradise” and, like a kid in a sandbox, I basically just let my imagination run free. I thought about my past experiences, what my future might be, and really dove deep into thinking about everything in my life that I loved. I went on to conceptualize the full story and write down almost all the lyrics to the entire album, before I made the rest of the music. “Cinnamon Paradise” was released as the only single off “For You”, and I still find it really cool how I was able to take just a couple hours of my life and turn it into an entire album.

What kind of music/which artists did you listen to while growing up?
Agathya: I listened to all kinds of music growing up- my mom used to play an Indian guitar-like instrument called the ‘veena’, and my dad was a jazz drummer. I started learning classical guitar at the age of six, and because of my guitar teacher’s unique music taste, I was exposed to a lot of Flamenco and Brazilian guitar pieces. As I got older, I started listening to a ton of rap. Besides Kendrick Lamar, I mostly listened to old-school hip-hop/90s rap, as I was drawn to the lyricism and poetry over anything else. The biggest shift in my music taste came when I discovered Tame Impala right before my senior year of high school (in 2019). I was blown away by the intricacy and attention to detail that he brought to electronic music. This opened me up to a whole new world of digitized and production-based music, and I started enjoying artists such as Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky and Tyler, the Creator. Now, I truly enjoy everything. I started a new routine at the beginning of 2022 where I try to listen to at least one album that I haven’t heard before every single day, and I’ve been fairly consistent with that so far.

How did you get started in music and have you been involved in other projects before?
Agathya: As previously mentioned, I started learning classical guitar at the age of six. I would go on to take lessons in jazz guitar, the trumpet, and even in South Indian Carnatic vocals. I have performed guitar at various venues in Rochester, such as the Rochester Jazz Festival and Rochester Lilac Festival, and even played live on WXXI radio in my junior year of high school. I didn’t start making my own music until my freshman year of college. I started releasing music under “Agaaze” in early 2021, and released my debut 7-song EP, “A Portal Inside” in December of 2021. I haven’t looked back since. Agaaze is a solo project, as I
take care of writing, recording, producing, and mixing all on my own (with the help of my friend Zach, @zachwallismusic, for my final master’s)

How do you approach everything needed to be successful in life and in your chosen career?
Agathya: In terms of my approach to life, honestly, it’s just trial and error. I do my best to always pursue what I love, give it my 200%, and then use my mistakes to learn and grow as a person. In terms of success as an artist, it’s a little tougher because success is very subjective. Some may say that I’m unsuccessful because of how many streams my music gets, or how much money I’ve made from my music. Others might say that I’m successful simply by having the courage to release my own music. I guess I try to find a happy medium between the two, to where I’m proud of myself for releasing music, but also maintain my drive to hustle and promote it. At the end of the day, I will never let a thirst for material success influence my art. I plan on graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree that is not music related, so I can support myself financially until, hopefully one day, I can make music for a living.

If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be and why?
Agathya: In an ideal world, creativity and uniqueness would result in more success in the music industry. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will ever be the case because, money is the name of the game in business. Apps such as TikTok are cool for helping some independent artists, but they drive many others to use a formulaic approach, just for a shot at 15 seconds of fame. This results in the oversaturation of the same type of music, which sucks. If I can maybe inspire just a couple other young artists out there to create art that’s true to them, instead of making music for money and clout, that would be amazing.

Last, what advice do you have for new musicians just starting out in this fickle game?
Agathya: My advice to other artists is to make music from a place of love. As the great Rick Rubin emphasizes, ‘you are the audience’. Create art that you resonate with, enjoy, and love, so that when you look back, you can be proud of yourself for all you have accomplished. Doubt and fear live rent free in my head. I try not to think of what other people might say, or whether I will ever be able to make a comfortable living off my music. It’s an impossible task. Yet, when it’s 5 AM- the birds are quiet, the world is still, and I’m all alone in my room, listening back to what I have been working on all night… a gentle smile comes across my face. Hell, sometimes even tears, because I just fucking made that. For a couple seconds, all my worries wash away. Make music For You.

Hear this fine single on Spotify. See more on IG.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Pennsylvania-based fusionist Ikechi Onyenaka shows us what inspiring music sounds like with Hardships

Pacifying our exasperated heads with a mellow vibe to ease all nerves into the distance, Ikechi Onyenaka shall warm all icy hearts who needed a long hug with the supremely dreamy single Hardships.

Ikechi Onyenaka is an Upper Darby, Pennsylvania-based indie jazz and blues fusionist who makes a stunning blend of smooth music vibrations for the world to be thrilled by.

After previously bringing us those twilight grooves with City Dreams, Ikechi Onyenaka performs with a rare class and shows world class skills on this latest gem. Calming to the max and never letting our hand go, this is a special soundtrack when you need 7 minutes of calm to enter the galaxy.

Hardships from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania-based jazz and blues fusionist Ikechi Onyenaka is a wonderful single which will surely make many humans smile. There is no fake flash here, only realness, and for that we must all be truly thankful. Bringing through an array of goodness, we float into a release with so much to heal with.

Hear this top new single on Spotify and see more of his journey on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Rosina Bullen Interview: Finding kind beauty in tragic sadness with Lie Down My Love

Filling our hearts with so much hope despite the tears which have previously made her sad, acclaimed jazz musician Rosina Bullen sits down with A&R Factory and guides us into her 3rd single off her upcoming EP Painting A Picture, with the gorgeous Lie Down My Love.

We truly appreciate you sitting down with us today, Rosina.

Rosina: Thank you so much for having me!

Firstly, please let us know what fans can expect at your show on the 7th of December at The Pheasantry in Chelsea?

Rosina: I am very excited for this show as I will be returning from NYC after 4 months away and I can’t wait to perform back in my home country! The evening will feature the music from my debut EP “Painting a Picture” along with some brand new material that I have written which has never been performed live before, so it is sure to be a special night! I will be joined by my incredibly talented friend and ‘partner in crime’ on this project the wonderful David Swan who’s orchestral arrangements really have brought my music to life – we haven’t actually seen each other in person for over 3 years now due to covid and location so I am very excited for us to perform the music we have created together for the first time! I will also be playing with the wonderful James Maddren, Tom Herbert and special guest Dom Ingham who are all featured on the EP and my amazing friend James Maltby on guitar! This is sure to be a special night that I won’t forget and the official launch of my EP, “Painting a Picture”.

How can the music industry be better for its performers and fans?

Rosina: One of the things I find difficult in the music industry at the moment is that it seems to be so focused on genres and fitting each artist into a box. I often hear that I am “not folk enough or not jazz enough” but I think that having your own unique sound and not fitting into a single box is a good thing but the way the industry is set up at the moment doesn’t always make room for artists who span multiple genres.

I like the fact that I don’t always know what direction my next song or project might take, but the storytelling is always central to my music. So what I guess I’m trying to say is that I hope the music industry will support those artists that don’t want to be defined by just one thing, as creativity doesn’t fit into a single box.

What was it like growing up in Suffolk, England, and how did you get started in music?

Suffolk is a beautiful place and east Anglia is known for its creativity. I have an incredibly supportive family that I am very close with – sadly not geographically anymore, but we speak all the time and I’m so lucky to have them!

I know this probably sounds very predictable, but there really was nothing other than music for me since before I can remember. Ever since I was a little girl, I struggled with my emotions and found the general day to day to be very overwhelming and it took me a long time to realise that not everybody was as sensitive as I was. Therefore, I used to shut myself up in the music blocks at school, which was the only place that I could be alone for a bit and I could then put what I was feeling into something more tangible and this was songwriting. I guess it was almost like my personal therapy as I used to bottle everything up so much and songwriting became my emotional release, where I could put what I was feeling into the lyrics and the music. There is just nothing else that makes me feel the way that music makes me feel – it can hurt like hell or it can heal things you didn’t know needed healing. It is my one true love in this life.

Wow, that got pretty deep there, but I guess that’s as honest as I can be.

The seasons certainly turn around rather quickly in life. What does Painting A Picture mean to you personally and what was the creative process like with David Swan?

It’s quite hard to explain in words what this EP “Painting a Picture” means to me as I find the songwriting process to be so personal. When I write a song, I have to be in a particular frame of mind and emotional state where all my feelings, fears, pain and joy just spill out of me to create a world of music from the place I am in at that moment. I often describe it to friends and family as a little piece of my soul that I have put onto a page. Therefore, I see this record as a piece of me and my life which I am sharing. This can be pretty terrifying but also just the most amazing feeling when I hear that someone has connected with a song or relates to the music I’ve written.

The creative process with David was pretty interesting as we were in lockdown, going over ideas together on zoom calls. David was in Scotland and I was in London, having returned from NYC on one of the last flights back to the UK. I have known David for about 8 years now and he is one of my best friends and favourite musicians. We have performed together many times, and he just knows exactly how to bring my music to life. I am forever grateful to him and we are already working together again on the next record!!

Do you feel like the NYC music scene is alive and back to normal or not yet?

It has been so exciting moving back to NYC after being away for two years and I am just totally in love with this city. I am now living in Brooklyn which I really didn’t know at all as I used to live Uptown in Manhattan before, so I have been exploring lots of new places and am just overwhelmed by all the amazing music that is going on here. I definitely feel that the music scene is alive here and one of the things I love so much about this city is that everyone is always up to play – it doesn’t have to be for a specific gig or concert they just want to play for the joy of it and I find this so infectious and inspiring. I don’t think anywhere will ever be back to normal as many iconic venues sadly closed, including my favourite venue ‘The 55 Bar’ but there is definitely lots of exciting creativity happening which is really special to be around!

Is there a specific venue in the world where you would love to play live?

Ooof this is way too hard as there are just too many!! The biggest thing for me would to be able to travel around the globe playing my music. I have a big travel bug and I love seeing new places and meeting new people, though I am often a little shy at first! One thing I would also love to do is to perform this whole project live with all the strings and woodwind as it was a 20 person project in total, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for that too!

Finally, what advice do you have for young musicians starting out in the industry?

Try not to judge yourself against other people, as we are all individual and we all have something to say. Music and art is not a competition – it’s a gift that we can give to others around us and make something beautiful from the pain or chaos that we feel or see.

Hear this stunning single on Spotify. See more news on her IG page.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Tiana Dean Interview: Classy vocals and a new EP to feel rejuvenated with

We sat down with the wildly talented Tiana Dean recently to chat all about her new EP and more. Full of life and so much passion, we find out more about this dynamic musician and her current mindset in this challenging world.

Thanks so much for speaking with us today, Tiana. We love your fresh music vibe with such honest lyrics. Let’s start with this. Where do we find you today and how did you get started with music?

Tiana: I can be found at Tianadeanoffical on Instagram and Facebook and Tiana Dean on all streaming platforms and YouTube.
I’ve always been in music. I often tell myself it just runs in my veins. Singing, dancing and writing have always been something I did to past the time as a child. I grew up singing in my church choir as well as early childhood school years.
I was shaped by what I heard around me. The gospel and jazz from my mom the Michael Jackson, Jacket Jacket, and Mariah Carey from my dad. Ciara, Destiny Child, and Eminem, from my oldest sister , to Maroon Five, All American Hero’s, Arvil Laverine from my younger sister and everything rap, Luda, Wayne, Jay Z from my brother. I just always liked what I like and was drawn to certain sounds. I spent hours making up my own beats in my head and writing verses and choruses in my room.
I’ve been recording/releasing music for about 7 years now and fell in love with it the first time I ever recorded a song. It truly is a magical experience.

What core elements do you feel are needed to make the music scene better long-term?

Tiana: Making it more about the music and less about the glitz and glam and who you know. I see a lot of talent and a lot of hard working independent artist trying to make it in a world that’s designed around how desperate people are to be popular and liked. The best music comes from the heart, from emotion and feelings, passion and experiences.

Please explain all about the exciting process to complete your debut 5-track EP and who was involved?

Tiana: The process was rigorous lol. I went through so many songs and so many ideas. I had thoughts of not dropping anything this year and waiting. I was so focused on trying to make a project I thought people would want to hear I wasn’t making anything I liked. I came across a beat off YouTube during the time I called myself giving up and created my single “Lovin It Here” off the “Dear Diary” EP. After being sparked by lovin it here and being able to tell my story that way in a song I was sold on making whatever I was going to drop as a project a pop project.
I found a producer off YouTube named Vshy and literally every beat he had was perfect for the sound and vibe I was going for. I recorded the entire EP at Halfspint Productions Mixed and mastered. There are no features on the project so everything is written by me. All the songs on the Dear Diary EP were written this year within months of the release of the project. Literally my entire project scratched and recreated within months of an album release date because I was inspired by a whole new feel and vibe. Something that was more me.

To release the project and debut the EP a “Night With Tiana Dean” was presented by BlackDolla in Cincinnati Oh. I was accompanied by a live band, The Vault, as well as three amazing opening acts, Siri Imani, Jade Alexis, and Young Reese Rude. It was truly A night to remember and a great introduction into the first project dropped by Tiana Dean.

When you close your eyes and imagine being on a massive stage with fans cheering, what does it feel like?

Tiana: For me, it feels breathtaking. I often imagine how a show will go before it happens and the feeling that overcomes me is overwhelming. Almost too much to handle. I honestly can only imagine what something like that would really feel like! One day though, for sure.

Cincinnati, Ohio. How is the music scene doing and do you feel like the whole local industry is thriving again?

Tiana: I think the music scene in Cincinnati is growing. From where it was when I started to where it is now, it has grown tremendously. I see a lot of artists here getting recognition and getting outside the city. Artists are investing in themselves and working together. It’s a lot of love going around the city, from what I see. So many opportunities are around for artist to be able to express themselves and get their name out there.

Who or what inspires you most in the world?

Tiana: My parents inspire me the most. They are two of the most hardest working, selfless people I know. They were my first examples of what success looks like, what discipline is. I dedicated a lot of life just to make my parents proud and I believe they are.

Where can we find you live next at a show?

Tiana: I’m currently booking for the year 2023. You can follow me on my website and subscribe for notifications regarding upcoming events, new music releases, merch, and shows!

Listen up on Spotify. See more vibes on IG.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Wolfgang Vetsch’s Bluewater sends our hearts more hope on Spread The Grease

Guiding us away from anything which shall not assist with those positive vibrations, Wolfgang Vetsch’s Bluewater is rather special, with a delightfully delicious production for all jazz fans with Spread The Grease.

Wolfgang Vetsch’s Bluewater is a Triesenberg, Liechtenstein-born indie jazz musician who spends much time on the seas as a brave skipper.

After the dissolution of the Swiss Big Band Eruption under the direction of Daniel Schenker , he devoted himself again to his own band Bluewater, which has been heard in different line-ups since 1997. In addition, Wolfgang Vetsch is also a permanent member of Stefan Frommelt’s jazz circus.” ~ Wolfgang Vetsch

Feeding our souls with something rather nutritious and easy-to-love, Wolfgang Vetsch’s Bluewater blesses all listeners with a superb display of the highest order in this stunning experience. Streaming with calming waters and a soundscape to free many from current sadness, this is a truly spirit-healing performance.

Spread The Grease from Triesenberg, Liechtenstein-born indie jazz musician Wolfgang Vetsch’s Bluewater is a such a joyful single with much for humanity to hold on to. With a genuine care and much skill, this is a lovely single for those mellow afternoons after work when you just need to relax.

Music with meaning will always be the most loved.

Hear this fine release on Spotify and see more news on Facebook.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen