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Interview: Austin Seltzer shows us his consummate class and clear vision

Sitting down us with and sipping on a cuppa coffee, Austin Seltzer tells us more about his LA state of mind and all those achievable expectations. Mixing it up and showing love for those who have helped him along the journey, we find a self-aware soul who believes in the power of AI.

Q. We appreciate your time. Please let us know where you’re based today and what is your favorite meal in the whole world.

A. Thanks for having me! I am based out of Los Angeles, CA, and I honestly have to say that my favorite meal in the world is the one I haven’t had yet. I feel like I really live my life in a way that always seeks something better or more enjoyable, especially in food and coffee. I want to be on a lifelong adventure to find new things that interest me. That said, I am a massive sucker for buffalo wings (Ye Rustic Inn) and an unmatched bowl of ramen (any of the Tsujita spots).

Q. You seem to have such a genuine connection with so many incredible artists. Please tell us more about who you enjoy working with and the vision for the music you mix.

A. One of my favorite things in life is connecting with people on a much deeper level. I like to have artists and creatives over to the studio to have a coffee and chat about life, their inspirations, aspirations, and everything in between. I feel like the people I can connect with at this level are the ones I end up doing the best work for, and we tend to continue to work with each other. Art is all about vulnerability. If we can be vulnerable in a conversation, I know that we will also be able to be vulnerable while working on art together. I believe this is why I genuinely connect with the artists I work with.

I have a very clear vision for the music I mix. I go into the process with the idea that I will let the music tell me exactly what it wants to be on the first listen-through, and then I spend the rest of my time on the mix trying to reach that goal. I don’t generally listen to the reference track more than once. I understand exactly what the track wants to be from that listen-through, and I trust my instincts and the song’s production, story, and rough mix to get me there. My ultimate goal is to have my mix elevate the track to a level where the artist and their team feel like the track is everything they wanted it to be and that the listener continues to come back to listen again and again.

Q. You have an upcoming music business podcast on the way. How did this start, and what are your hopes for the future?

A. I do! The idea for my podcast has been in my mind for years now. As much as I wanted to start it years back, I needed to elevate my mixing platform to a point where it could sustain life and reach the guests I would like to have on. The premise of the podcast is to have prolific guests who have reached a level of success in the music business where they can reflect with me on their past so listeners can get a glimpse into their psyche, mindset, some of the pitfalls and wins they have had along the way, and other informative insights into what it takes to be successful in the music business.

My hope for this podcast’s future is to release weekly episodes while continuing to elevate the production quality, questions, and listener base to allow me to bring on more prominent guests while maintaining my primary career and passion – mixing incredible music.

Q. When did you first know if you wanted to be a mixing and mastering engineer?

A. I first knew I wanted to be a mixing engineer while writing and producing music with my buddy Jason Smith back in Dallas, TX. Even though I was in the band in middle and high school, I never learned to properly play an instrument that could play chords. I played the Bassoon, a wildly cool sounding instrument, but one that could only play a single note. While producing music with Jason, I realized quickly that my strengths weren’t in the actual writing of music but more in understanding the sonics and how sound could fit together to make a complete picture, or in this case, a well-produced and great-sounding song. I would study mixing techniques daily from as many internet places as possible. It wasn’t easy to find great information when I was learning. YouTube was entirely just misinformation or about learning to mix using analog hardware, which I didn’t have access to at the time. It was much more about trial and error.

Q. How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard a song you’ve mixed?

A. Cinematic and energetic. I have a knack for making the music I mix sound larger than life. When I say cinematic, that’s what I mean. I can make the music feel like it wraps around you and is more 3D than the demo. While some may say that is the point of mixing, what I am describing is more than just elevating a track – It’s part of my secret sauce. It might come from my immense love of video games and their ability to immerse you in a world. I also think it has to do with years of creating music for this world called Azurelah with Jason Smith – a world in which we were telling a story through music and concept art. I always aim to captivate the listener in an immersive way – no Atmos required.

Q. Finally, what hopes do you have for the future of humanity?

A. I think, at this point, it goes without being said that Artificial Intelligence will take most jobs in the next ten years. This week, most tech headlines are about 10,000+ people being laid off from Google, Microsoft, etc. All those job salaries and more money are being put into Artificial Intelligence research and development. I hope we can somehow figure out some form of Universal Basic Income that works to compensate for the displaced jobs that AI will create. Massive corporations will be able to lower their overhead tremendously; simultaneously, they will be able to churn products out faster and more efficiently, doubling down on how many workers are displaced. Since there is no way to stop this from happening, I believe the US government and other countries’ governments must figure out a way of compensating all humans, or else we will have a catastrophic economic meltdown.

Listen up on Spotify. See more on the IG page.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Interview: Chicago’s Dust Biters guides us through the redemption on Progeny

Dust Biters is a Chicago-based indie alternative 4-piece post-hardcore metal band who savage the speakers with a spellbinding reaction on each one of their heavy tracks. They speak to us about, coffee, risk-taking, Progeny and much more.

Hello there Dust Biters. We appreciate you having a chat with us today. Where in the world are you located as we speak and what did you all have for breakfast?

Dust Biters: Hi! We’re from Chicago. We’ve all had lots of coffee and need more.

Let’s start at the beginning. Where/how/when did the band start and who are the current members?

Dust Biters: Nick Miller and Nick Kinsley actually met back in high school in Michigan. Kinsley was a fan of Miller’s technical metal band, Flesh and Blood Robot. They became friends and started writing music for a new project. Kinsley ended up moving to Chicago and Miller ended up moving to Pittsburgh, but a decade or so later Miller relocated to Chicago and convinced Kinsley to pick up the guitar again. They started writing 80’s hair metal riffs on Miller’s couch which became the foundation for the songs “Unholy Gospel” and “Creature Man”. Initially, the idea of the band was to write songs that were straightforward 3-chord punk and rock, but that didn’t last very long. Nick Miller and Tommy van Arsdale were colleagues and had talked ad nauseam about music and Tommy’s previous bands in which he played drums, guitar, and piano. Miller asked Tommy to session with them on drums and the three booked time at a studio in Chicago. It became clear after the first session that this was something to pursue, so they found a permanent rehearsal space and began practicing as a trio. Bryan Fonseca joined Kinsley’s work, and again through the serendipity of talking about music learned that Kinsley was looking for a bass player for the new project. Bryan, traditionally a guitarist, was quick to pick up the bass and learn the parts. Bryan’s personality fit seamlessly with the group so we decided to move forward and thus Dust Biters was formed.

Please let us more about your latest single Progeny and the vision behind the release.

Dust Biters: “Progeny” is a song Nick Kinsley wrote about his kids. It’s a song about redemption, forgiveness, and growth. We just released a companion music video, and in contrast, the narrative revolves around a narcissistic cult leader who grows tired of the perpetual, blind worship of his harem and secretly poisons them in a final move of selfishness and desperation to start a new existence. You can watch it on our YouTube channel now.

Guilt is the name of your new 12-track album. Please guide us into the process of completing the project in the way you wanted.

Dust Biters: The first and most important step to getting Guilt recorded was finding an engineer that understood our songs and the goal for our sound because we didn’t really know what we were trying to do. Once Alex Lackner (Accelerated Sound Studios, Lazarus AD) was signed on to engineer the record, it was full steam ahead. We tracked a majority of the record in our studio while the vocals and finishing touches were recorded at Alex’s studio. We spent a lot of time getting the mix right. Guilt is a record that we are very proud of and we’re excited that people are responding so positively to it.

What’s an important piece of advice you’d recommend to anyone working in the music industry?

Dust Biters: Be genuine and ruthless with your art. Take creative risks. Embrace limitations. Practice consistently. Make real connections and support others. Seek feedback and consider all forms of criticism. In 2023, writing good music is only half of the work to get noticed. Be ready to put yourself out there.

What is the vibe like at the local underground music venues in your local area after all the closures previously due to COVID?

Dust Biters: We’re lucky. Chicago has a great, supportive local scene and awesome venues like Empty Bottle, Live Wire, The Burlington, Liar’s Club, Cobra Lounge, and Reggie’s which thankfully all weathered Covid. Like many of our friends, we spent the majority of lockdown writing and practicing so that when it became safer and venues began opening up, we were hungry and prepared to get on stages and play live.

Last, if you could tour with any band in the world, who would it be and why?

Dust Biters: Ha! I think we would all answer this differently, and I don’t think we could decide on just one without a lengthy debate, but if we had to name two bands it would be Glassjaw and a resurrected Every Time I Die.

Listen up on Spotify. Check out the IG page for more.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Hybridic indie punks Junior Bill painted an anthemic picture of injustice with ‘Boys from Jungle’

With socially conscious lyrics as hard-hitting as the ones penned by Bob Vylan, Kid Kapichi, Meryl Streek, Junior Bill are way ahead of the trend of cuttingly observational and compassionate lyricism in their latest single, Boys from Jungle. Punk boomers who bemoan the wokeness of contemporary punk may want to save their blood pressure spiking by looking away from the hit that advocates the rights of asylum seekers and paints a stark picture of the injustice that greets them when they arrive on our blighted shores.

Rather than skating by on their lyrical wit alone, Junior Bill concocts awakeningly volatile alt-indie instrumental ensembles that are lightyears away from the usually brashy swagger of UK indie rock. With off-kilter guitars that wouldn’t be out of place in the alt-90s no-wave movement and the post-punk nuances tearing through the rhythm section, getting wrapped up in the hybridic punk aesthetic is non-optional.

Boys from the Jungle is the first single from their forthcoming debut album, Youth Club!, which more than has the potential to become the UK alternative album of the year.

Boys from Jungle officially released on January 27th. It is now available to stream on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Italian-Ghanaian pianist BeccasMelodies keeps it rather mellow on the Playground

With so much serene beauty and a tranquil state of affairs to take us all back to school days, BeccasMelodies washes all the stress away with a youthful track to remember fun times with on Playground.

BeccasMelodies aka Rebekah Obeng is an Italian-Ghanaian pianist and music producer who makes timelessly calm classics to relax even the most stressed mind.

Her latest track “Playground” evokes a sense of nostalgia and innocence. It’s a place where people of all ages come together to play and have fun, and she wanted to capture that feeling in her music. The playground also symbolizes the idea of embracing childhood and letting go of adult responsibilities, which is a refreshing and powerful message.” ~ BeccasMelodies

Gliding rather freely and without anything flashy to get confused about, BeccasMelodies gets us away from a sleepy slumber and back into munching peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Playground from Italian-Ghanaian pianist and music producer BeccasMelodies is one of the more tranquil singles anyone is likely to release in 2023. Soaked into so much mellow vibrancy and taking us on a lo-fi dream to get engaged with, this is a rather memorable track to fuse tightly inside.

Listen up to this new single on Spotify. View more vibes on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Daniel Aether – Bet & Gamble

Daniel Aether brings a global perspective to RnB/Hip Hop with his Nigerian and Italian heritage, by way of Scotland, with his new track “Bet & Gamble.” The song, on its face, is a pretty straight-up-sexy-slow-jam song with a beat that features Spanish style guitars and light analogue style synths. Aether’s voice is what really drives the number home – he’s got high-notes for days and easily displays a vocal sensitivity often lacking in those singers/rappers who rely all too much on autotune. Additionally charming is a very non-placeable accent in his singing; it’s like you know there’s some cultural inflection.

Currently Aether’s SoundCloud page has only three songs currently (I’m hoping that will change as he is writing and producing more) and they all seem to centre on a lo-fi attitude – his style is very identifiable in that he’s clearly an individual in a world of clones (dare I hope that originality is making a comeback?). If you’re a visual person, then I would recommend a hop over to his Instagram account where you can see him in striking fashion and pictures around various cities.

Starya went interstellar with her cosmically ethereal electro-clash hit, Jealous

Fusing the provocative electro-clash energy and snappy vocal melodies of Peaches with the demure indie cool of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, the luminary art-pop songstress Starya’s latest single, Jealous, is tantalisingly interstellar. But that isn’t all; this alchemically amalgamated cocktail hybridises itself even further with elements of hip-hop, techno and dubstep, giving the bass a kick and the beats an irresistible pulse you’ll want to synergise with time and time again.

LA is known for breeding iconic artists by the applecart, but if anyone has what it takes to rock it and squeeze out new juice it is the singer-songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ who is making light work of transcendent aural domination. Once you’ve had your jealousy fill, stay tuned for the upcoming EP, Find The Key, set to be released in February 2023.

Jealous hit the airwaves on January 31st. It is now available to streams on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Spotlight Feature: KAIS transcendentally reflects in his accessible Avant-Garde ambient EP, What If I

On February 3rd, the superlatively talented songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer KAIS will unveil his most experimental EP to date, What If I, as a departure from his indie-psych hits. Bar spoken word philosophical verses in the title single, the instrumental EP allows the dynamic instrumentals to set the tone, atmosphere, and sonic ideology.

The opening single, R.E.M. State, reaches the pinnacle of tranquillity as the lush reverb counters the visceralism of the trip-hop-y backbeats. Before track two, Honey Ripples, gives you an oceanic opportunity to slip away from the fray and enter a subaqueous paradise.

The concluding title single is a disarmingly poignant invitation into the psyche of KAIS. The spoken word verses compel you into matching the deep state of reflection while the experimentalism of the Avant-Garde rhythmically complex arrangement provides a serene atmosphere you will want to visit time and time again. The soulfully accommodating release is inexplicably unparalleled from what any other artist is putting into the ether.

The alchemic feat of audio engineering definitively proves KAIS’ ability to take phenomenological fragments and create sonically serene worlds from them. If I could permanently exist within them, I would take up perpetual residence in their artistic confines.

Kais Said:

R.E.M. State is inspired by the absorbingly rejuvenating instrumentals in KAYTRANADA’s single, Bus Ride. I wanted to leave a mark on the canvas of mankind’s universe by flowing into rhythmically complex territory without becoming inaccessible to my audience.

Honey Ripples was written on a rainy day, envisioning how water droplets collide with the body of a lake before reflecting the impact through the warm and creamy honey texture of the Rhodes piano, also experimenting with dolphin samples to create an underwater soundscape haven.

What If I traverses themes of revival. The instrumental track with spoken vocals speaks from the dark abyss of mortal defeat. The protagonist weighs up letting his soul disintegrate or summoning an unforeseen strength to claw out of his pit to bring about his soul’s resuscitation.”

What If I will officially release on February 3rd. Check it out on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Look Better In Person: 3smuni prays for those close locked up in the system with Overseas

Showing us so much re-energized enthusiasm and compelling dynamite, 3smuni displays a compelling verve and shall drain away all doubts in the sink with Overseas.

3smuni is a South Africa-born London-based indie hip-hop artist & multi-instrumentalist who fuses drill, US and grime soundscapes into his own transcendent way.

Exhibiting to us what the youngsters are listening to as we speak, 3smuni is that young new school artist who seems to possess a rare insight into what is going to define the next generation. Absorbed in quality and always progressive, this is a thunderous display which will please many who love to hear what tomorrow is bringing.

Overseas from London-based indie hip-hop artist 3smuni is a magnificent track which will take our minds away from any current stresses and mould our minds into the future. Launched with a rather illumination-filled fragrance and never losing its shine for a second, we find a rather remarkable effort when the world needed it most.

Turn this up loud on Spotify. See more news on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Interview: Plainview’s Money Mike Sandberg shows us into the Reflection

We had the chance to sit down recently with Money Mike Sandberg and he guides us through his busy life in Plainview, New York. Showing love for his family, Eminem and more, we get further insight into his career.

Q: Please let us know where you’re based today and what a typical day in your life looks like for you.

A: I am based out of Plainview, New York. I am a special education teacher who works in Brooklyn. I teach technology this school year, and I incorporate reading and math skills into my instruction using various programs.

Q: Your flow is honest and drops some genuine lyrics about changing perspectives. Where/when did it all start in the music game for you?

A: I really appreciate the feedback. I get my inspiration from artists like Eminem, Logic, and NF. Their lyricism, cadences, and rhyme schemes have influenced my craft to become a better writer.

However, I give credit to my family for their support every day. I dedicate my successes to my mother Debra, father Jon, and brothers Robert and David who have helped develop me into the person I am today.

Q: Please tell us more about your previous release and if you have new music on the cards in 2023.

A: My previous music release of “Reflection” in 2021, is about grabbing control of your environment through reflection. The message of the album is a call to branch out from societal norms and to take more time for reflection in order to discover and grow together as a society.

Q: What’s it like being an indie music artist in this industry?

A: It’s difficult to be visible in the music industry as an indie artist. However, by being true to myself through my music, I hope to get music opportunities in the future.

Q: Which local underground venues should we check out when in your local area?

A: I haven’t been involved in the local underground scene recently, as I’ve been trying to develop my own music.

Q: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard a song before?

A: My music speaks for itself. It represents my character and humility. Everything I express is what I hold true to my heart.

Q: Finally, what hopes do you have for the future of humanity?

A: Wow, that is a loaded question. To begin answering that question, you can refer to my “Reflection” album. This will start the conversation.

Hear this fine song on Spotify. See more on the IG music page.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

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