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Walk on the Wild Side

#gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ “I love Kanye and I love Beck, so it would be hard for me to choose a side,” says [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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love Kanye and I love Beck, so it would be hard for me to choose a side,” says Jonathan Rado a few afternoons after the Grammys. “What really confused me was the whole Paul McCartney, Rihanna, and Kanye song. I was just wondering to myself, ‘Why is this happening?’”

If anyone has an intriguing comment on Kanye’s diss and retraction, it’s Rado. As a native of Los Angeles, he’s lived among both the gears of the “music industry” and the mythical bohemia of the Sunset Strip. He’s got a good grasp on both celebrity and “art.” Foxygen, his band with high school chum Sam France, is a perfect encapsulation of those extremes. Since they were 15, the duo has been cultivating its own mythos of confounding psychedelic pop and folk with a self-released discography massive and unheard. It wasn’t until 2013’s much lauded We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic that a label took interest and Foxygen’s star finally began to ascend to the heights set in their songs.

That record was an instant classic of stunning Stones-ian jams, hazy acoustic ballads, and glammed-up fuzz, creating a rollicking trip through rock’s more esoteric histories. The success also brought a spotlight, and in the months following its release, Foxygen’s antics became just as newsworthy as the music. Riotous live shows (including one where France broke his leg falling from the stage), stories of egos clashing, and general prima donna behavior suggested Foxygen was
about to implode.

Fortunately most of it was media fabrication. Last year’s …And Star Power, though, certainly has the feel of a band that has been through a lifetime of the “lifestyle.” As an 82-minute concept album about rock and roll excess and aliens, it’s an ambitious and unwieldy collage that takes a few listens to completely unfold—pretty ballsy in an age when attention spans are the size of an mp3. It’s also packed with guest “stars” including Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, who each added their talents to the kaleidoscope spectacle.

As I came to find out in my interview with Rado, at one point Stevie Nicks and the aforementioned McCartney were sent requests to participate, but both declined. Still, in this conversation filled with talk about writing songs for country stars and the Top 40, or hiring an 80-piece orchestra to play on their next record, it’s hard to not imagine those two finally obliging, or better yet, handing Foxygen a Grammy one day.

The whole turmoil within the band after the release of your last album is something that you’ve publically refuted, but I’m curious to know if you think that was something that helped or hurt the band in the wake of releasing …And Star Power? Do you believe in the whole idea that “any press is good press”? I think there’s bad press. If one of us killed a person that would be bad press. Or like that band that had that guy who was a child molester—that’s bad press. For us though, I don’t think it hurt record sales or people appreciating us. The time right after that was a really weird time where it felt like we were under a microscope. It felt like high school and the way I reacted was like high school, where I was asking myself why people hated me so much. For a few weeks it was pretty dark, but in the long run I think it added to the mystique of the band. Now people just assume that we are f*cking crazy and we are always lying.

Is there any truth to the extremes in personality between yourself and Sam, with you being the more quiet, reserved side of the band and Sam being the wild, outlandish counter? That’s the way it is for us offstage and the way it’s always been. The stage personas and the way that the press has painted us, though, is a very embellished version of ourselves. On this album, we didn’t intend to do that on purpose, but as we’ve grown older, those characters have definitely become more pronounced.

The idea of a double album was in the planning stages for some time. Was there ever a conscious decision to whittle it down to just one record considering all of the success you had with Ambassadors and how immediate that album was compared to this one? We never entertained that idea. It always had to be two discs—that was the selling point. We wanted to write enough songs to fill a double album. It got to the point where we had too many ideas. I had a ton of demos and Sam had a ton of demos. I think it was maybe a bit cocksure of us to put out a double album and expect everyone to immediately love it. I think it takes longer to get into it, but once you do I think it’s a much more satisfying musical journey than the last album.

And looking toward the future, Foxygen seems like a band that is always writing, always recording, so is there a plan for what comes next? Yeah, it’s already written. It’s going to be even bigger than …And Star Power, and it’s going to be done with a full orchestra starting in September. I guess it’s kind of like an Electric Light Orchestra-meets-Disney musical. 

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Arts & Culture

Live music allowed again in restaurants and bars: how will these establishments respond?

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A major step forward in the return of live music in Ohio took place over the weekend. The Ohio coronavirus guidelines were updated to reflect the new COVID-19 Dine Safe Ohio Order.

The order outlining the guidelines on live music in restaurant and bars is as follows:

Musicians and bands may perform in restaurants and bars as long as the individuals who are performing maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people including, but not limited to, fellow performers and restaurant and bar patrons and staff.

DJ's are included along with musicians and bands in the order.

Something that was on the mind of a lot of musicians with the reopening of restaurants and the indefinite closing of large venues was how restaurants and bars were going to respond to the immediate venue demand. Places like Woodlands Tavern that already have an infrastructure for live music will have no problem complying with the updated order, but will restaurants and bars that depended on jukeboxes before pivot to a live music model?

With a lot more space available in restaurants due to capacity cuts, does this leave more room for a live music set up? Or will restaurants have to get rid of even more tables if they want to make room for a performer?

The thought of live music in a venue setting is alone enough to get excited about. How these places that now have the ability to host live music execute freeing up space for a band to set up or a DJ to bring his rig in while practicing social distancing is what makes this situation a tricky one.

Not being able to get down in a MojoFlo Soul Train line will be pretty tough, but it’s a tradeoff we’ll have to accept for the return of live music.

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Arts & Culture

(614) Music Club: Sarob

Julian Foglietti

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Every week (614) Music Club teams up with your favorite local artists to build a playlist of what they’re listening to, and what’s inspiring them. This week’s playlist is brought to you by the R&B artist Sarob.


Photo by: Wyze

Tell me about some of the songs you’ve selected.

"The first one is Sobeautiful by Musiq Soulchild. So every week with my vocal coach, I have to learn a song. And I've been trying to figure out how to do vocal gliding. Which is not a strong point for me, and I remember hearing that song and being like, OK, this is it. The song is just beautifully written and composed, so when you add the technique to it, it’s just great. The other song was Workin On It by Dwele, who is one of my favorite artists of all time. Workin On It uses this J Dilla beat that just feels really timeless."

Have the past few months changed the direction or mood of the music you're creating. 

"So I have been making stuff here and there, and then I'll go into something creative for like two days. I'll just be making like a bunch of songs and then I'll stop for two weeks, not even want to look at a microphone or anything. I mean, it's a lot more inward, so I’m learning how to better communicate the things I'm experiencing, and set the scenes for people and talk about what is going on. Also not having my band has been a challenge. I’m more of a thinker, I play the keyboard, and I can build a song, but I’m not the most gifted musician so having to build a lot of it on my own is tricky."

Do you have any plans or releases coming up? 

"Yeah, so I had a song Pleasures U Like that was made for my last album, but it didn’t quite fit the story of the album. So I just forgot about it until recently and I finished the vocals just before the lockdown, and now I’m releasing it on Bandcamp as part of a fundraiser for The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. All of the proceeds from the song are going to go to support their Pandemic Emergency Fund, and it just felt like a good way to do something that would impact everything going on."

Sarob's Playlist

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Coronavirus

Breakaway Music Festival will not take place in 2020; to return in 2021

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Those in the music festival community have continued to rally their broken spirits behind live streams and classic archival sets in lieu of the live event industry being put on indefinite hold. 

With each passing day, though, hopes for any large concert gathering happening in 2020 seem incredibly bleak and unrealistic.

News from Midwest college market concert and music festival promoter Prime Social Group on Thursday further confirmed the modern hippie’s greatest fear: a summer void of camping out in otherworldy open fields and following their favorite musicians across the country. 

PSG operates a network of festivals under the Breakaway Music handle that take place annually in Columbus; Charlotte, North Carolina; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Washington D.C.; Nashville; and San Diego. The promotion company made the difficult decision to cancel all six of its 2020 editions of the EDM and pop-focused Breakaway Music Festival with a fully-committed plan to return in 2021. The decision was made due to health and safety concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Tickets to the event can be carried over for the 2021 edition of BMF. For those who choose this option, you’ll receive an extra ticket and merch bundle. PSG will also provide refunds if transferring tickets for 2021 is not an option.

Columbus has been making its claim as a music festival destination over the past few years. Breakaway, along with events like Sonic Temple, Wonderbus, and Buckeye Country Superfest, has been bringing quality acts to Columbus consistently. The festival’s presence will be greatly missed this upcoming August.

“Now more than ever, we could use that special sense of unity achieved through live events and music festivals,” said Prime Social managing partner Zach Ruben. “We cannot wait to Leave it All Behind and make memories with all of you again. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and be kind to one another.”

In the meantime, Breakaway plans to release exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from past editions, new digital content, and various live streams. Visit breakawaymusicfestival.com to keep up to date with what PSG has in store.

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