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April 27, 2011 / punkcakes

Worthy Show Announcement! 4.27 – 5.01

Bearstronaut : 4.29.11 – Manhattan, NY @ Lit Lounge

Sea Of Bees : 04.27.11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Glasslands

04.28.11 – Manhattan, NY @ Piano’s

04.29.11 – Manhattan, NY @ Cake Shop

04.30.11 – Manhattan, NY @ Mercury Lounge

05.01.11 – Manhattan, NY @ The Living Room

Lightning Bolt : 4.27.11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Club Exit

4.28.11 – Manhattan, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge

Titus Andronicus : 4.29.11 Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwells

4.30.11 Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

See you guys out there!

April 25, 2011 / punkcakes

Brad Breeck of Skull Tape: An Interview

Brad Breeck has been an avid member of the music community: a previous member of the experimental punk band The Mae Shi, writing original music for the Nickelodeon series Fanboy & Chum Chum, and now front man of Skull Tape, whose debut album The Invisible Hand and the Descent of Man dropped April 12th. Skull Tape is a fun, edgy, pop-punk band making noise about the merriment of youth and revolt. I recently talked with Brad about Skull Tape and his past musical endeavors, hear what he has to say in the exclusive interview below!

Q: Give us a brief history lesson on Skull Tape. What’s your background with music, and how did Skull Tape come to life?

I grew up playing in Christian heavy metal bands.  I started playing in the Mae Shi in college.  I stopped doing that a couple years ago to focus on making music for TV and film.  My full time job is doing the music for a show on Nickelodeon [Fanboy & Chum Chum].  On a hiatus from my show last summer, I wrote and recorded the Skull Tape record.  It was partially songs that I had written intended for the next Mae Shi record.   

Q: Who and what influence your music and songwriting?

Musically I’m influenced by – pretty much everything.   There really isn’t any music I don’t like, I listen to a lot of top 40 pop music and am definitely influenced by that.  I spent most of my 20s listening to noise music, 20th century classical and experimental stuff.  If you put me on an island and gave me only one record it would probably be Britney Spears greatest hits, and I say that with all sincerity.  

Q: How would you describe your music to those who are unfamiliar with it?

Hmmm.  I guess caveman power pop for people who drink lots of Mountain Dew.  Our target demographic is 15-year-old dudes who have Green Day posters in their bedrooms and hang out in Hot Topic. 

Q: How did you make the decision to leave your former band The Mae Shi and start your own musical ventures?

Mostly because I started being busy making music for TV and stuff.  I didn’t want to tour anymore either. The guys were nice enough to let me stay home while they toured,  but that eventually got weird and it was best if I stepped aside.   

Q: What are you most stoked about with the release of your debut album, The Invisible Hand and the Descent of Man?

I’m just excited to share the music with people and hope some folks enjoy it.  

Q: What does the future look like for Skull Tape? What can we expect? Shows!?

Working on some videos.  Playing shows.  We have a mixtape/remix record thing that we will be releasing soon.  It’s basically a bunch of new songs constructed from pieces of songs from the record. 

Q: What is it about making (and playing) music that you love? What’s the point?

I like having made something.  Making music is kind of painful and stressful for me, but I love the feeling of having finished something and sharing it with people.  

Q: If you could give any piece of advice to young artists just starting out, what would it be?

Keep making things.  Just make as much stuff as possible.  The more you make the more you learn.  

Q: The obligatory Punkcakes question – Punkcakes is a music blog with a love for the pastry. What is your favorite dessert (or recipe you’d like to share)? 

My favorite dessert is rice krispy treats!  Does that count?!  

YES!

Tracklist:

01 Crop Circles
02 Fable of the Bees
03 The Invisible Hand
04 Many Mountains
05 Max Boot
06 Leviathan Part 1
07 Trans Anthro
08 Drowning in Blood
09 Universal Acid
10 Anon Anon
11 Fight or Die
12 Cosmos and Taxis

Listen to Skull Tape’s rendition of “Whip My Hair” by Willow Smith (a mash up of their own “Drowning in Blood”)

April 7, 2011 / punkcakes

“Oh? Oh! Oh.” An Interview with Pearl and The Beard

As a band, Pearl and the Beard have everything: tight melodies, catchy rhythms, lyrical quips as well as heartfelt emotion, and a truly awesome use of instruments. They’re goofy and fun, but serious about their music; they know what they’re doing, and what they’re doing is excellent. The originality and passion alone lures you in, and once you’re in it the songs will haunt you until you play them again… and again. They recently released their second full-length album Killing The Darling, and it is definitely worth a listen, or two, or 397. I talked with all three of the souls who make up Pearl and The Beard – Jocelyn, Emily, and Jeremy – and if you want to smile, you should check out the exclusive interview below! I love these guys!

Q: What’s the story behind Pearl and the Beard? How did you guys come together as a band?

Jocelyn: We met at different open mic nights throughout New York City, which just goes to show you you never know who you’re going to connect with if you keep putting yourself out there.

Emily: Yes, we did, and yes: you never know!  It was pure serendipatiousness or serendipiosity…errr…

Q: Your sound is definitely unique and original, who or what influence you and your songwriting?

Jocelyn: I personally love to just let the spirit move me… songs can be born when you least expect them. Being open to letting all different kinds of sounds, songs, and sonic landscapes into my consciousness has been the best tool in helping me become a better songwriter.

Emily: I read a quote today from T.S. Eliot that the best poems are felt first and then heard.  I really like this and find my best songs come when I’m least expecting them…

Jeremy: It pretty much changes like the wind, and influence can seep in at any point. Whatever music I happen to be listening to primarily at the time, the sound of a huge pile driver 10 blocks away, the way CDs sound coming from the other room while I’m in the shower, and my dreams are how I’ve been writing these days.

Q: Tell us about your eclectic use of instruments… it really separates you guys from other bands today – it’s refreshing. What is most important to you guys as a band when it comes to staying true to who you are?

Jocelyn: We tend to use a variety of instruments out of necessity: since there are only three of us, I think we would get bored if we just played the same three instruments throughout every song. As for staying true to who we are, well, we really just can’t help it. We’re bad liars, and none of us have any kind of vested interest in being cool, so it’s not really a challenge to stay “us.”

Emily: Ha!  Joce: true!  We are inarguably a bunch of total nerds.  Truthfully, I’d love to extend our instrumentation even more – experiment even more… there is an entire world of beautiful sounds waiting to be heard, and, with each person that tries them, an even different sound is born…

Jeremy: The thing I like about music is it’s universal, and therefore limitless (snap snap snap). There are so many regions to explore, literally in the landscape, and figuratively in the sonic landscape. As we’ve traveled and played with other folks we get fresh ideas about what we’d like to add to a song, a new rhythmic pattern, instrumentation, what works and what doesn’t and apply it to our own music. I compare it to hearing a new joke from your neighbor, school chum, pen pal, cobbler, trolley operator or other contemporary friend, where you take the joke and making it your own. We are sponges I think, and what makes us “us” as individuals is all the baggage, stories, and ideas we pick up along the way in our travels.

Q: If you could describe your music in a few words, what would they be?

Jocelyn: Oh? Oh! Oh.

Jeremy: I’ll say what a person we played with in Knoxville once said about us: “You couldn’t fit a piece of paper between those harmonies.”

Q: You just released the new album, Killing the Darling. Would you say it’s different than your previous album God Bless Your Weary Soul, Amanda Richardson?

Jocelyn: Working in conjunction with two producers (Dan Brennan and Franz Nicolay) was a really incredible experience, and it gave the new album a nicely well-rounded atmosphere. We constructed songs, arrangements, and even our time quite differently than we had for the first album, and having a change of pace with our work ethic made the album more sparkling for me. It was very fast-paced and exciting. Oh and also there are more rock songs.

Emily: I think, as with any project, whatever might be happening in one’s personal life, away from the studio, always leaks into the work.  This is why two albums couldn’t really be the same for us: three people, living their lives: the sounds, the vocals, the instrumental performances and, of course, the material, are bound to have evolved.  This might be stating the obvious, but it feels good knowing that as we change and learn, so does our work.

Jeremy: I’ve read countless articles on bands that compare their first album with their second and I’m trying to avoid a lot of the cliches that I hear and we make fun of in the car, but I find myself thinking the same things. This album to me seemed leaner, and more concise. We went big on parts that we thought needed to be big and we let the quiet parts live quietly. I think it also, personally, showcases our different personalities more than the last album. Other people might not pick up on it, but I definitely hear it, and if fills my heart with joy.

Q: What are you guys most stoked on with the release of this album?

Jocelyn: I’m looking forward to continuing to tour to promote the new album. I love it out on the road. I also feel very grateful that I have such a supportive band mates who encourage me to share my artwork through the album art.

Emily: We released it in vinyl!  I can’t believe it.  I grew up listening to vinyl and never imagined I could ever be captured like that… amazing.

Jeremy: Seeing more people get it, hopefully. Touring more behind it, and that this batch of songs is out so we can focus on writing more jams.

Q: What can we expect from Pearl and The Beard in the future?

Jocelyn: Maybe a twelve-person sweater.

Emily: A spin-off, made for TV movie but we will have changed our name to Tiny Lasers. Spoiler: we all get Lasik.

Jeremy: More or less hair depending on who you ask. Hopefully finally some of those one piece aluminum foil-looking jumpsuits they keep teasing us with in future movies.

Q: You guys just played a string of shows promoting the new album, any memorable or fun stories you’d like to share with us? What’s your favorite part about playing live music?

Jocelyn: At SXSW, we were outfitted for new glasses by a company called Tortoise & Blonde. That made me feel like a total rock star! We also got to play at a benefit for Planned Parenthood of NYC on Monday at the Bowery Ballroom. While we had a ton of amazingly memorable moments on the road, coming home and getting to be part of an event that supports Planned Parenthood really meant a lot to me and felt extremely rewarding.

Emily: Yes, yes, Joce: Those were amazing experiences!  One of the other finest for me was seeing New Orleans for the first time and having a lovely fan rescue our show in Louisiana by pulling together a beautiful house party. We met some of the most lovely people who are down there volunteering and building homes destroyed by Katrina. They are doing such amazing work down there: it was a really special day for us.

Jeremy: I think the most memorable things to me are difficult to sum up because they’re a series of very small meaningful things that happened to me personally or us as a group. As far as playing live, I love connecting to a group of strangers and friends all at once, and putting one big thing in common in the room that everyone can relate to.

Q: I completely admire your originality and strong sense of identity as a band, it shows through your music. If you could give any piece of advice to young bands trying to get their sound heard, what would it be?

Jocelyn: Write the music that you want to hear. You should be your own favorite band! If you’re excited about the music that you’re making, other people will be too. Also, be shameless. Don’t be afraid to talk to anyone and everyone about your project… you really never know who you’re going to meet and who is going to love it just as much as you do! And don’t take people too seriously who claim to have all the answers. You know what’s right for you if you follow your gut.

Emily: I would add to that wonderful treatise: “You’re already as weird as you think you want to be.” (Someone told me that once when I felt like what I was doing wasn’t “good enough”.)  Don’t be anyone else but who you are.  You can be successful and happy (who says their mutually exclusive?!) by creating something sincere and from your innermost guts.  There is an audience for all kinds of sound, art, music, and creativity, and that audience needs YOU to create it for them.  And I love what Jeremy said, “Stay humble, and be open.” Absolutely.

Jeremy: I agree with Jocelyn: Write the music that you want to hear. Also, don’t ever, EVER take yourself too seriously. You’re creating a minimum of 20 vibrations per second in order to make sounds.  My butt does that every day. So have fun, don’t think the noises that come out of you are any better or any worse than anyone else’s. Keep some horse blinders on, and by that I mean don’t focus or get frustrated if your friends or whoever are doing “better” than you. Each musician’s path is as unique as a snowflake (snap snap snap) and there is NO set path to follow. It can be frustrating and can seem like nothing is happening, but it’s really difficult to judge that when you are in it. Keep your head down, keep on truckin’ and eventually people will get what you are trying to do or you will get better and then people will “get it”. Stay humble, and be open.

Q: Since Punkcakes is also a baking appreciation blog, what are your favorite deserts? Any connoisseurs of the pastry in Pearl and the Beard?

Jocelyn: I make a mean “Magic Happy Bar…” a seven-layer sweetened condensed milk treat that will basically make you cry sugar.

Emily: What a sad, sad question for me!  Due to the inability to eat in moderation (read: addiction), I swore off sugar indefinitely.  I still eat honey, but for the most part, I’m sweets-free, and feel amazing and have not regretted a day. In my day, however, the ultimate dessert for me was a fluffy (and I mean FLUFFY – 1-3 inch thick), homemade iced sugar cookie (or two… okay, or three…) – preferably from my mother’s kitchen. Memories…

Jeremy: I’m terrible with baking. I don’t think I’ve ever baked anything in my life. Of the sweets I love anything with the combo of peanut butter and milk chocolate.

 

Catch them April 30th at The Rock Shop! (tix & details)

March 30, 2011 / punkcakes

Shows This Weekend: Thursday 3/31 – Sunday 4/3

Jeff The Brotherhood

 

Thursday: 3/31

Screaming Females w/ Jeff The BrotherhoodSantos Party House (New York, NY) 7 pm, $10, 18+ (tix)

Cerebral Ballzy w/ Big Gunz!, DesensitizedCake Shop (New York, NY) 8 pm, $8, 21+

Friday: 4/1

Pearl And The Beard (album release show) w/ The Lisps & Lady Lamb The Beekeeeper Knitting Factory (Brooklyn, NY) 8 pm, $10/12 (tix)

Test Patterns w/ Ex Humans, Liquor Store, Rottweiler The BestCake Shop (New York, NY) 8 pm, $10, 21+

Saturday: 4/2

Bikini w/ Gold Panda, FixedGlasslands (Brooklyn, NY) 10 pm, $15 21+ (tix)

Jeff The Brotherhood w/ Heavy Cream, Hell Beach, Xray EyeballsDeath By Audio (Brooklyn, NY) 8 pm, $12

Sunday: 4/3

Destroyer w/ The War on DrugsWebster Hall (New York, NY) 8 pm, $16/18, 18+ (tix)

March 30, 2011 / punkcakes

The Bynars, An Interview

Bynars Balloons (Photo by Kiel Szivos, Illustration by Cathy Durso)

The Bynars is one of those bands that you can play in the midst of a really shitty day and will inevitably leave you skipping down the street, or at least bobbing your tired, overworked head. They are energetic, witty – smart electronic music as I like to call it – and they can make you dance. They have been working diligently on their self-titled debut album, which will release April 26, and the release of their single “Asking Your Mom For Money” creates an overwhelming anticipation for the rest of the tracks. They’re fun, and we all definitely need a little bit of that – we need The Bynars. Check out the exclusive interview with Matt (guitar/vocals) below, and get to know more about these fine, fun fellows.

Q: To put it simply, who are the Bynars? What are you roots? How did this journey begin?

The Bynars began one summer when I was listening to The Hippos album Heads Are Gonna Roll with Ben.  Ben and I had been in a band for years, which had just dissolved and we decided to start a new, fun pop band with lots of synthesizers.  We got some songs together, found some friends to join up with, and played our first show in early 2008.

Q: If you could describe your music in a few words, what would they be? What do you want people to know about you guys?

We played in Toronto in 2009 and there was a review of our show that said “If Weezer and The B-52’s got drunk and hooked up, their offspring would be The Bynars.  Deliriously danceable rock doesn’t get any better.”  I’m not very good at describing our band, but I like this description!

Q: Who and what inspires you guys as songwriters and as a band?

As a songwriter, I’m most inspired by The Beatles, Carole King, Beach Boys.  We’re also into music that utilizes science & technology.  I’m a sucker for a good love song.  And we like reggae.

Q: Who are your musical idols/inspirations? Who do you guys look up to as a band?

The songwriters I just mentioned would obviously be on the list, but as a band we have a different sort of mindset with what we aspire to be.  We have really tried to emulate the power-pop vibe of Fountains of Wayne, Weezer, and The Rentals since the beginning, but I think the artists we most look up to right now have a little more to do with electronic/electro-pop music than rock/pop music.  Daft Punk, Devo, and M.I.A. come to mind as examples of what we would like to sound like in way or another.

Q: You guys recently released the single “Asking Your Mom For Money” which will be featured on your upcoming album, The Bynars. What can we expect from the album?

I think we’ve been able to incorporate more into our sound than just “pop songs with lots of synths.”  The new record has better songs, more of an electronic flavor to it, lots more stuff going on, everyone’s performance skills & musicianship improved 1,000% over the course of doing the album.

You can expect 12 tracks that you can appreciate as songs or on the dance floor.

Q: How do you feel you have grown as a band from your previous EP’s?

Things have changed quite a bit for us on this record.  Firstly, recording at Camp Street Studios – a “real studio” – was a huge step up for us in terms of the quality of the album’s sound.  On our previous EP’s, we’d recorded on our own, at our practice space, in Kiel’s dorm room, in the bathroom, wherever.  The results were good for what they were, but we were chomping at the bit to do work at a studio.  We still did some home recording for the record, but Adam Taylor (producer at Camp Street) made it sound awesome!

In terms of the music and being a band – I’d say our first few EP’s had a lot of good songs, we are proud of them for what they are – but there’s a bit of a quick, rushed vibe to a lot of it.  This time we did it the way we felt was right.  We really took our time with everything and figured out exactly what we wanted to do, what songs were best, what we could do to push them to be even better.  We probably chipped away at a lot of these songs for over two years, so I definitely wouldn’t say they were rushed this time.  We also conducted an anonymous song study where we asked hundreds strangers on the internet to evaluate our music.  The results were awesome.  People hated it, people loved it, they were vicious, they were kind, many told us we sucked, and other people gave great, thoughtful constructive criticism.  We were looking for honesty, and we got it in heavy doses.  It was probably the best decision we made working on the album.  Overall, the whole thing it was a huge growing and learning experience.

Q: What are you most stoked on with the release of the album, and the future for you guys?

For months now, we’ve either been in the studio or in our rehearsal space working on the album, so we’re just excited to get out there and play lots of shows right now.  We haven’t played a show for so long, we are itching to get back out there with the new songs!

Q: What do you guys love about playing live shows? Coming to Brooklyn any time soon??

We’re playing our first shows in support of the new album in April and we’re actually really scared!  We haven’t played out for I guess 8 months because we were working on the album.  We have a new live setup equipment-wise, and lots of new/re-worked songs, and a new band member.  It’s sort of gonna feel like playing our first show again, and so many things can go wrong!  But we’re just gonna have fun with it and do what comes naturally, which is be nerds and dance like white people!  As for Brooklyn shows, nothing confirmed in Brooklyn yet, but we’re playing in Manhattan at The Cake Shop on 5/13 with our amazing friends from Brooklyn, Infinity Hotel!  Check them out http://infinityhotel.bandcamp.com/ you’ll be glad you did.

Q: The road of making music is a long and treacherous one, but nevertheless awesome. Do you have any advice for young bands just beginning and trying to get their music heard?

My advice to young bands is to create the best possible songs possible.  Don’t get wrapped up in your image, your genre, your Sound, your guitars, how cool you or other people think your music is, who guest stars on your track, what shows you play, who is at the shows, or whatever.  What people will actually remember in the long run are great songs.  If you have solid songs, people will notice, positive things will come of it.  The goal of being in a band & making music for me is to move people, and a good song is one of the most potent forms I can think of to move someone.  If you’re not in a band to create great songs, then I don’t really know what to tell you!

Some other great advice: don’t drink the water, there’s blood in the water.  – Dave

Q: The obligatory Punkcakes question – Punkcakes is a music blog with an appreciation for the pastry.  What is your favorite dessert? A favorite recipe you’d like to share?

Hmmm… I’m not really sure.  If it’s one of my band mates’ birthdays, I usually bake them a cake, and no one has complained yet… so I guess we like cake!  I usually just do what it says on the box and use lots of frosting.  We’re also really into buying bags of Cadbury Mini-eggs right now.  Hippity hop hop, hippity hop, The Easter Bunny’s on his way!  Hippity hop hop, hippity hop, to bring us our eggs on Easter Day!

Practice Space Photo (Photo by Nate Legsdin)

Catch these guys May 13 at the Cake Shop!

March 29, 2011 / punkcakes

Death Cab For Cutie, “You are A Tourist”

Death Cab for Cutie is just one of those bands for me, you know the ones that grab hold of you when you’re twelve and never cease to let go. I will always love and respect DCFC, but after the release of their new single “You are  A Tourist” off the upcoming Codes and Keys, I find myself a bit let down. The lyrics are mediocre, and immature – not something I would ever expect from Benjamin Gibbard. “When there’s a burning in your heart, an endless yearning in your heart, build it bigger than the sun, let it grow, let it grow, when there’s a burning in your heart”… really, Ben? This hurts me more than you know.

When I listen to this song I can’t help but picture it playing behind that scene in that really corny chick-flick where the depressed dude who loves the girl but can’t deal realizes he was a douche-bag and loves the girl and now he can deal, and merrily strolls over to her really cute apartment and tells her that he was douche-bag, and he loves her and he can deal – except this time she slams the door in his face. Ben, we’ve seen this before, and we already know that scared, depressed, douche-bags never grow up nor are we ever going to afford those really cute apartments. Basically, the song leaves me hopeless.

However, I am trying really hard to be an optimist – so, yes, I cannot wait for Codes and Keys to release… I think.

Listen to “You Are a Tourist” and tell me what you think – send your responses to Samantha.Punkcakes@gmail.com and I’ll post them here, on Punkcakes!

March 29, 2011 / punkcakes

Folks Not Dead! An Interview with Robin Bacior

There has been a recent whirlwind of Folk artists emerging onto the music scene, but with artists like Robin Bacior it makes it really hard to deny. Her recently released E.P, Aim for Night, seems almost perfect with lyrics that sound like poetry and rhythms you want to repeat over and over again. The record just plays beautiful, constant emotion – listen to Familiar Road, you’ll see what I mean. Robin’s future looks bright and sunny, all of us awaiting what she will do next. Download her new single, “Man Before Me“, and go celebrate it April 11th, 8pm at Union Hall with the 7” release show (tickets)!

Read the exclusive Q & A with Robin!

Q: What is your musical background? How did your journey begin?

I’ve pretty much always played music in some form, and I think it began with my parents. They’re both pretty musical, and growing up they would have their friends over to just play music. They would all improve or play their favorite songs on flute, guitar, violin and piano, and having that as part of my childhood background made music a staple. It led to piano lessons, choir, orchestra, college bands, songwriting, basically always having a hand in music somehow.

Q: Who are you own musical influences?

Joni Mitchell is a gigantic influence. I’ve spent way way way too much time reading, listening and learning all about Joni Mitchell and her musical path. I think her honesty but observant nature is so brilliant, and the way she constantly evolves through every album, and has been so fearless in her musical pursuit. I also love other musicians like Jolie Holland, Fiona Apple, and newer folk like Sea of Bees, Y La Bamba and Lower Dens.

Q: I absolutely love your lyrics, so sincere and powerful. What inspires you and your songwriting?

Thank you! Lyrics are the most important thing for me. I think I’m mostly inspired by everyday stuff. A lot of my songs are about me trying to process various chapters of my life, relationships in many forms, a lot of self-reflection. I think I view it like this: my head is a big closet and i’m constantly going in there and pulling out weird clothing and trying to sew it together into nice dresses for other people to wear. I want to write songs that other people can relate to, because that’s been such a powerful influence for me with other songwriters’ stuff. Hearing something and thinking ‘that’s exactly what I was thinking, but i didn’t know how to say it!’ If someone can feel like that with one of my songs, I’ll probably cry with joy.

Q: You are a Brooklyn based singer, do you have a favorite spot in Brooklyn where you like to write?

For a long time I was really only able to write sitting on my bed. All of my EP was written sitting on my bed in various bedrooms. I feel like I’m wearing all these rough lyrics on my face, which makes me nervous to write in public, but in the last year I’ve learned to branch out a little bit, to not feel like I have to hide as much, and feel ok with writing on the subway, or even just sitting down on someone’s steps for a minute to jot down a couple lines.

Q: I truly admire songwriters because not only do you put all of your emotions out on display, but you stand behind it and own it. When it comes to songwriting, do you ever feel nervous/anxious about saying something that you might regret?

Songwriting can be a strange thing. My songs mostly center around things I’m too nervous to say in person, yet I end up singing them, and literally projecting them at full-volume, normally at the person the song centers around. The first few times of doing this I definitely felt anxious about it, but now I feel like after I write it all down, the song becomes its own thing, and I’m ok singing it.

Q: What is the one thing you love most about playing music?

It’s a release. It never gets old, and it always seems to mellow me out.

Q: You just played at SXSW, what was your experience like? Any fun stories?

I had a really great time, it was definitely a madhouse, and by the weekend the chaos was a little overwhelming, but I felt really happy to get to run around with musicians from all over the place and share pretty sounds. You see so many big names strolling down the street, and I did actually have a starstruck moment. When I was leaving my hotel, I passed David Fricke, and I stood in shock for a moment, and turned just in time to see him walking to his hotel room a few floors up. I was so excited that I actually went up to his floor and knocked on six doors ’til I found his room. I shook his hand and introduced myself, then apologized for stalking him. I grew up reading my dad’s copies of Rolling Stone Magazine, so 15-year-old Robin just took over, oblivious to social rules and privacy. He was very nice though.

Q: Your recently released EP, Aimed For Night, has received a much deserved praise and following after its February release. How do you feel?

I feel really happy. It’s really freeing to have let go of embarrassment or nerves and have people tell me certain lines they like or relate to. I was pretty sure these songs would never leave my bedroom, so to have strangers hear and comment on them was at first really startling, but now really awesome.

Q: You recently released the new single “Man Before Me” (which I am currently obsessed with). Are we going to see it on a full-length sometime soon? What can we expect from Robin Bacior in the future?

Wellllll, I am planning on recording and putting out a full-length later in the year. It’s in the works.

Q: If you could give any piece of advice to young artists just starting out, what would it be?

Don’t be scared! For so long I was so so frightened to play music. I’d practice and practice and when it came time to play a show, I’d be too freaked out to sing into the microphone, so I’d stand far away from it and after the show everyone would tell me they couldn’t hear me. It took me years to get over this fear, and I sometimes still get it, but I make myself still sing into the mic. I’ve realized no one’s going to throw tomatoes at me, and I like singing, so who cares. Sing!

Q: The obligatory punkcakes question – Punkcakes is a music blog with a love for the pastry. What is your favorite dessert (or recipe you’d like to share)?

I’m the worst baker ever, but lucky for me, my roommate is a baking queen and makes me delicious treats. I think my favorite would be the standard brownie, or an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, with the chips melting. Or anything involving chocolate really.

Catch Robin at a show!

April 11, Union Hall 8pm

April 21, The Living Room (opening for Sea of Bees) 7pm

April 22, Spike Hill (opening for Sea of Bees) TBA

March 16, 2011 / punkcakes

An Exploration into the Sea of Bees, an Interview with Julie Baenziger

Julie Ann Bee, otherwise known as Julie Baenziger, is the hauntingly, beautiful voice behind Sea Of Bees. She is a multi-instrumental genius when it comes to song writing. Her debut album Songs For The Ravens is powerful and brilliant – an emotional experience with each passing track. She has been touring in Europe, but has made her way back to the states with 10 shows in New York come late April.

I talked on the phone with Jules about her music – my whole life, my past, my future, my love, my rage, my passion, my everything, as she put it. At six, she explained to me, she fell in love with music at church against the beautiful stained glass windows and colors” she didn’t really care much about, not as much as the hippy guy who would sing and play the piano. “I would close my eyes and just listen. At sixteen I realized I could do this, you know, and at eighteen I developed my own voice.”

Besides her musical influences like Sigur Ros and Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate, Jules pulls her inspiration out of her own heart, her own life and her own love: I’m most inspired by the people I fall for, the people who mean the most to me. Jules spoke about her song Strikefoot, a favorite of hers that she has written. It’s about my best friend. I remember the night I wrote it, I feel like it was the best gift, she said whole-heartedly. She even mentioned the new album she’s now working on, it’s all about one person, and I can honestly say it’s going to be my best because she’s someone who means a lot to me, and inspires me.

Your lyrics are beautiful and emotional, and they give your songs powerful sincerity that makes your music so unique and just – so good. When writing, do you completely put your heart on your sleeve and let everything go without any hesitation or do you find you shy away sometimes from getting too personal?

I don’t care about what people think, I have one life and I’d rather live it open and free. I don’t hold anything back. I know it sounds cheesy to say like, I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I do because this is my life and I’d rather live it with no regrets.

Do you have a favorite time of day or a favorite place you like to write?

Afternoons at my friend Jon’s studio [Hangar Studio in Sacramento]. I usually ride my bike over and he just lets me sit there and write. Also, my parents house in my old room, it’s really nostalgic.

Julie has the biggest heart and it shows through her music, which is purely her own – no boundaries, no limits. I don’t want to be bound by anything, not even music. That right there is exactly music should be about, and hearing an artist say that is refreshing and hopeful to its listeners. There is something to be said about a struggling musician who refused to lose herself and style in the process. She explained to me how she used to sit and cry in the bathroom out of frustration after seeing musical guests on episodes of Oprah her mom would be watching:

My mom would knock on the door and say ‘Jules just keep doing it, you’ll get there’. I would say, I am doing it, you know, and nothing’s happening. It was so frustrating. But, if you keep people around you who are smart and talented and you surround yourself with that support that’s the best advice I could give.

Of course, I asked Jules what her favorite dessert is – the obligatory Punkcakes question.

In Europe we had a lot of good desserts, but the best were the shortbreads and biscuits with chocolate. Or shortbreads with nutella, so good.

Catch Jules and her Sea Of Bees in New York!

04.21.11 – Manhattan, NY @ The Living Room

04.22.11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Spike Hill

04.23.11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Sycamore

04.25.11 – Manhattan, NY @ Rockwood Music Hall

04.26.11 – Manhattan, NY @ Joe’s Pub

04.27.11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Glasslands

04.28.11 – Manhattan, NY @ Piano’s

04.29.11 – Manhattan, NY @ Cake Shop

04.30.11 – Manhattan, NY @ Mercury Lounge

05.01.11 – Manhattan, NY @ The Living Room

March 9, 2011 / punkcakes

The Notorious B.I.G. (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997)

Spreadin’ love – it’s the Brooklyn way.
Fourteen years ago today, Brooklyn’s own, Christopher ‘Biggie Smalls’ Wallace, was taken from us. Showin’ some love to the big man.

An artist lives on through his music… listen.

Juicy (1994)

Party and Bullshit (1993)

March 9, 2011 / punkcakes

Jon Sandler, an Interview!

Jon Sandler and the Fancy Band seem to be popping up a lot these days. Jon Sandler, a Brooklyn resident, musician and songwriter, is infectious with his quirky personality and diverse songwriting abilities. Him and his band recently recorded and released The Fancy Band EP, which prove it’s only the beginning. I recently chatted with Jon about his music and life in Brooklyn – check out the exclusive interview below!

Q: Jon, did you grow up in Brooklyn? Does Brooklyn and your life here influence your music?

A: Actually, I grew up in a small town in upstate NY called Niskayuna, but I have called Brooklyn my home now for 6 years and have written most of my songs here.  Growing up in the suburbs and now living in Brooklyn has definitely affected the way I look at the world, and I am constantly inspired by the city in a way that only someone who grew up in a small town could be.   One of the first songs that I wrote after moving here is called ‘Hooked on Brooklyn’ because simply, I am.

Q: What is your musical background? What made you fall in love with playing music?

A: I have been playing guitar, singing and writing songs since I was very young.  My parents say I was singing before I could talk.  It came naturally to me and I didn’t think much of it.  When I started to record and perform at age 13, I knew it was not only something that I needed to do for myself, but also something I loved to share.   I have been writing and performing every since, forming bands in high school, college and in NYC where I have the best band ever.   I would say that I officially fell in love with performing music at one of my first shows upstate at The Empire State Plaza in Albany. Backstage there was a green room with a bathroom!

Q: Who and what influence your songwriting?

A: I am inspired and influenced by everything and everyone in my life.  Everything from Coconut Water and my cat Judy, to deeper topics like love and death.   Almost every person who is close to me either has a full song about them, or at least a mention or shout-out in a song.   Ex-girlfriends definitely win the prize for most influence and songs.

Q: I love the diversity of your songs, between the folk sound of Nowhere Bound and Me, then the more poppy Down On My Luck, to the reggae beat in Broken Rubberband – (which is so good). Growing up, did you listen to wide array of music that lead you to be so diverse? Who was the first band you really fell in love with?

A: First off, Thank you!  Yes, I have always listened to very wide range of music and genres; I think I am the only huge Phish fan who also loves Boys II Men.   Growing up I listened to a TON of Beatles, Ben Folds, Elton John, Annie Lennox, James Taylor, Bob Marley– I love aspects of every style. When I write I don’t think about genre, I write the lyrics and melody and the song will naturally take shape in whatever style and genre it gravitates towards, which is why every song seems to be a slightly different style.  I love to sing a reggae tune right into a hip-hop/soul number right into a straight pop ballad.  Makes life interesting.

Q: Do you have a favorite place (in Brooklyn?) you like to write music?

A: When I first moved to Brooklyn I used to sneak into the Brooklyn – Queens Conservatory of Music down the street from my apartment, go into one of the many practice rooms and write songs on their grand pianos.  That used to be my favorite spot to write; it just smelled like creativity in that place. When they caught on and started kicking me out and locking the back entrances that I used to shimmy through, I was forced to buy an electric piano for my room.  That is where I do most of my writing now, usually late at night.  I like the idea and the feeling of writing when most people are sleeping.

Q: You opened for Jimmy Buffett – that’s so rad. Do you have a favorite or most memorable show that you’ve played so far?

A: This is a tough one since we have recently played so many awesome shows.  I am so excited about our chemistry and vibe lately that I feel like after every show I say “THAT was definitely our best show!”  Last month we played for over 2 hours at Union College for an amazing dancing crowd. That might take the cake- we were all in the zone and played our asses off.  Also, for the first time ever we were able to take a set break, which was amazingly refreshing! On top of that, it was in my hometown, so a lot of close friends and family were there, making it especially special.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about playing live music?

A: I explained to someone recently that when I am onstage about to start playing, everything all set up, sound checked and ready to go, I feel like I am in a Jacuzzi.  It is when I am the happiest and most comfortable in my life. Then when I am in it, sweating, lost in the music, giving and taking with the audience – that energy you feel…there is nothing like it. Those feelings are my favorite things about playing live music.

Q: I read that you are writing original music for television and movies, where are we going to see this? What else is in the future for you and the Fancy Band?

A: I have written music for a bunch of independent films, all of which are really awesome, but most of which you’d have to search pretty hard to find. I wrote the song “Alabama”, which is on The Fancy Band EP, for a documentary that will be out soon, and I recently wrote the theme song for a new television pilot.  It’s fun to separate myself from the music once in a while.

Q: If you could give any piece of advice to young musicians trying to make it in this industry, what would it be?

A: GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!  Jk, I would say to enjoy every second of the journey and appreciate every different stage of the ride, and realize that it is not the outcome or end that matters, in fact, there is no end.   Always strive to think outside the box and be unique to hopefully add something new and exciting to the world.  Lastly, make sure your intentions are good and there is nothing else in life you’d rather be doing because it can be a very painful, frustrating adventure, but it can also be the most beautiful.

Q: If you could get any message across to your fans, what would it be? What would you want them to know about you and your music?

A: My fans are absolutely amazing and have incredible taste in music.   Hopefully they already know this, but I will never stop striving for excellence and never give them anything that I don’t think is new, refreshing and awesome.  They should also know that while I can be silly and love to perform (not just perform, but PERFORM) I take music and songwriting extremely seriously and have a lot of respect for those who are listening.  To reference question #9, I have been doing this long enough to know that there is absolutely nothing else I’d rather be doing and I am slowly learning to appreciate every second.

Q: The inevitable punkcakes question – a favorite dessert or recipe you’d like to share?

A: I don’t have a recipe because I don’t fashion myself a cook, but I LOVE rhubarb pie.  Throw a little ice cream on there…forget about it.   I also love key lime pie.  It’s tough to find a good one, but if you do…amazing.  Also my mom’s crème de menthe brownies are insane.

Catch Jon and the Fancy Band at a show!

March 26 – The Living Room (New York, NY)

April 12 – The Bowery Electric (East Village, NY)

April 26 – Sullivan Hall (New York, NY)