Posts in Music

Milk Carton Kids

I was extremely privileged to call Joey Ryan of Milk Carton Kids and talk to him in Denver, Colorado. The band consists of both Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale. Both growing up in Eagle Rock, California this acoustic duet each keep true to their nature of playing with only their guitars and voices. Right now these songwriters are headed across North America with: Aoife O’Donovan, The Barefoot Movement and Molly Tuttle, keep reading to see how our conversation went.

JOEYryan
Hey Joey, how are you?
Can’t complain, it’s a nice day in Denver.

How’s the tour going?
It’s wonderful, better than expected. But we never have very high expectations… No, we showed up to an unlikely spring blizzard in the Rocky Mountains and it was nice to wake up this morning to blue skies. The tour has been really good, so far we’ve had larger audiences and we’re getting along with each other too which is nice.

Are either of you reading or listening to anything right now?
Not for inspiration directly, but we do read and listen. I’m sure it all gets in there, I’m on a Melville kick right now—for a long time I was in a battle with Moby Dick.

How was meeting Conan O’Brien?
I was so nervous when we were there, I almost didn’t have any fun. We actually had a show that night at Largo in Los Angeles, during the three hours of downtime we had to go to sound check. So it was kind of a crazy day, we only got to meet Conan for a few minutes after the show. He talked to Kenneth about his guitar a lot and I talked to Andy Richter, who is a really funny guy and I appreciated that.

Can you tell me what inspired the song “Michigan”?
We avoid saying what inspiration yielded this song. I don’t want to limit what it means to people, by saying what it means to us. A lot of it is personal and it cuts deep into some themes of loss and regret that resonates with people, in a really powerful way.

How was playing at Tiny Desk Concerts?
That was one of those things, that was like a landmark for both mine as well as Kenneth’s careers. It was something we had aspired to and was also a lot of fun. Those people are really appreciative of music and have a nice environment for performing, they engage with you and it’s really great.

So why did you and Kenneth start Milk Carton Records?
We thought it would be cool to have our own label and well the whole thing has been self-funded for two years. We were doing all the work that a regular label would, we didn’t have employees, we hired a few people to promote our stuff for radio and oversaw the operation ourselves. I do think there’s something there and we’ve talked before about releasing other artists records in similar fashion to our own. At some point we might make Milk Carton Records into a label that exists beyond our own personal releases.

What are some of your guys biggest influences?
That’s a common question and I never have a good answer. There is a lot of music that has been important to us personally. None of it seems to rise to the surface on a conscious level, there isn’t a lot of thought put into how we should sound or what we should sound like. It all comes from how we set off together, with two guitars and two voices and to also write from as true and honest a place as possible.

Tell me your thoughts on genre designation and labels?
I think it’s a common experience when you’re deep into something, to feel a concise label in someway misses something about what you’re trying to do. At the same time, it’s a valuable short-hand to discuss something when you’re not trying to discuss it in depth. The labels do have their place, we would consider ourselves some type of folk or americana and we don’t shy away from those labels at all.

What’s your opinion of the “pay what you want” model on websites like BandCamp?
Well we did our own self-contained thing without the option to pay what you want.

What’s the main reason you released your albums for free?
The main reason we did that was to find an audience as quickly as possible. Philosophically, we wanted to have our music be non-transactional. Instead of having the choice to pay, giving it away for free allowed people to receive the music on a more pure basis. It was very important, because we made the music and expected the listeners to give their time and attention and engage with it on whatever level they wanted to. Removing any element of marketing or commercialization from us and the people receiving it, I think it’s a powerful statement.

What’s your favourite on the road food?
Oh there’s so many, we can stand the spectrum. I can get a Cracker Barrel craving and every now and then I’ll crave a chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and collard greens from there. That and we love tracking down a really nice cocktail bar and some gourmet tacos for after a show. We learned a lot of good places from the Punch Brothers. We don’t go lower than Cracker Barrel though, no fast food or anything like that.

If you’re going to be in Vancouver over the 17th of May, buy tickets to see this band play at the Media Club. An intimate venue and the show will be phenomenal. If you haven’t heard of this band yet, visit their website here to download their first two albums free! Definitely worth checking out, these guys are what true, honest music is all about.

Top 10 Talented Kids

A few weeks ago Creative Okanagan held auditions at the Laurel Packing House with the goal of finding our 2013 Top 10 Talented Kids. I know its cliché but all of us including the three judges (Robert Fine, Noel Wentworth, and Renata Mills) were blown away by the talent. The top 10 will now be seen at various festivals and events throughout the Okanagan this summer.

Wentworth Music was gracious enough to also offer some free lessons to those lucky top ten. For more information on Talented Kids go to talentedkids.ca

So without further ado I present the 2013’s Top #10 Talented Kids. If your interested in booking some talented kids for your event drop us a line at info@talentedkids.ca

Taylor Hickson

Katia Wells-Green

Shadow

Ciara Myers

Triple Threat

Jesse Mast

Austin & Charlie

Georgia Kemp

Ben Klick

A-OK Mixtape: The Hot and Dry Canadian Summer Mixtape

The Hot and Dry Canadian Summer Mixtape - Front

The Hot and Dry Canadian Summer Mixtape - Back

Happy First Day of May tomorrow! You may very well remember our last summer Mixtape, The Big Wet Canadian Summer Mixtape, and if you’re anything like us you crave that perfect collection of songs to pair with a flawless summer day. We’ve made this mix 30 minutes longer and added a third side this time around, our longest mix to date! So what if it’s barely May, it’s been spring for 6 weeks. We’re all wearing shorts and sandals already even if it’s only in our minds.

This summer we’re excited to work with Cariboo to present the The Hot and Dry Canadian Summer Kick-Off, think of this Mixtape as a companion piece to the upcoming local showcase. After the event, we should have some great media to share with you of the local bands performing, maybe even a completely local Mixcast after-the-fact! As is the case with all our Mixtapes, the main difference from our Mixcasts is there is exactly none of my incessant pontification. All music baby! And you may notice there’s a lot of Young Galaxy on here, one original song and two remixes. Well, why not. I like them and I’m making the mix. The good news is, we aren’t using any music from their brand new album that came out a couple weeks ago, so there’s something thrilling for you to discover.

Side A: The morning is just starting. It’s maybe 11am and you’ve been awake for about an hour. The sun is shinning, maybe you work later, maybe you don’t. Either way, you’re looking to get into the right mood today and this is the mix for it.

Side A: Sun

  1. Shoreless Kid by Young Galaxy
  2. White Doves by Young Empires
  3. You’ll Improve Me (Young Galaxy Remix) by Junior Boys
  4. Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It by Stars
  5. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire
  6. Call Me Your Friend (feat. Sandie Black) by The Slakadeliqs
  7. Girls by Kids & Explosions
  8. Drinking In L.A. (JPOD & The Funk Hunters Remix) by Bran Van 3000
  9. Millions by Hannah Georgas
  10. Danse Et Danse by Cœur de Pirate
  11. Be My Baby by Hey Ocean!

Side B: Turns out you have the day off, let’s hit the boat or the beach! Water not your thing? This mix works just as well for a longboard or beer on the patio. You’ve already got positive vibes, now you’ve got attitude to pair with it. You may follow up that first beer of the day with a shot of tequila or jack. This mix is rough around the edges, but aren’t we all?

Side B: Surf

  1. Concentrate On Me by ROCOCODE
  2. Youth Without Youth by Metric
  3. Younger Us by Japandroids
  4. What to Do by Dead Ghosts
  5. Rainbow Road (Little Jungles Garage Mix) by Kingdom Cloud
  6. Royalty by Dinosaur Bones
  7. White Night by Little Girls
  8. Black Hearts by Chains of Love
  9. Firecracker by Michael Bernard Fitzgerald

Side C: You’ve got to pace yourself in the heat, and this is where the third side of our mixtape comes in. We’re not talking bedtime here, just slowing the day down enough to collect yourself without losing any of the excitement we built through the day. This mix will take you past sunset and help you figure out your plans for the evening. It would never let you go home alone.

Side C: Shade

  1. Snake Charmer (Young Galaxy Remix) by CFCF
  2. Raw Spectacle by Miracle Fortress
  3. All Her Colours by Pick a Piper
  4. M4 (Part II) (The Paronomasiac Remix) by Faunts
  5. Amenamy by Purity Ring
  6. Blue Gowns by Blue Hawaii
  7. The Choke by Austra
  8. Oblivion by Grimes
  9. Even Though (feat. XXYYXX) (Teen Daze Remix) by Giraffage
  10. Maximalist by Av_
  11. Sulk (8 and a Half Remix) by TRUST
  12. Real Goths by Mode Moderne

Remember, if you’re listening to this Mixcast in iTunes or on your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad there will be a link to where you can buy these great tracks! If you dig the song it’s only $0.99 in the iTunes store! If you’re an artist hoping to be featured in a future Mixcast please contact me!

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The Hot and Dry Canadian Summer Kick-Off

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Here at A-OK it’s pretty clear we love the locals. The creatives, the community leaders, the supporters, the dreamers. Chances are, as one of our readers, you fit into one or more of these categories, so do we. And, just like you, sometimes we get way to excited supporting events, artisans, beaches(!) and musicians. It’s been awhile since we hosted music, and never like this! We’ve been bursting at the seams for the last couple weeks to be able to announce this soooo here we go!

A-OK is proud to present in collaboration with Cariboo Brewing The Hot and Dry Canadian Summer Kick-Off! Join us the first weekend of July to celebrate our love of local music, too-hot days and festival-ready style. Featuring performances by Shreddy Krueger, Windmills, Van Damsel, Wild Son, JoyfulDoor, My Kind of Karma, The Fangles, The Winter Provincial, Manual Scavengers & Tiger Moon!

Taking place July 4—6th at Habitat each night will be $10 before 10pm, $15 after 10pm, and we’ll be offering up $30 weekend passes soon (they will be limited!). So stay tuned to A-OK as we reveal more information about these great acts and this awesome weekend! For now, we’ll leave you with a live acoustic version of Van Damsel’s “Sun & Sand”

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The Habitat is Where it’s At: The Dudes

There’s no better place to be on a Wednesday night other than The Habitat, drenched in its black lights and swallowed up in a swarm of excited, energetic party people looking to unwind at the weeks midway. The venue had been drastically improved from what I remembered just two months back with incredibly flashy stage lighting, new bar counters, and what it sounded like to me – better sound.

The aesthetically appealing but vision impairing and divisive curtains that once hung between the tables were removed, which I was thankful for, and instead a curtain was erected between the stage area and sitting area that was pulled completely back when the show began. The place had a fancy new vibe to it, but the only change that I didn’t welcome was the merchandise table being moved to a dark corner by the stage instead of where it used to be, a well-lit counter on the way out that was converted to a second bar instead. When I went to peruse the table I had to fight my way through the entire mob of people on the dance floor, and when I finally arrived it was too dark for me to see anything they were selling. But I digress. This was one of the best shows I’ve been to at The Habitat, the energy and excitement of the crowd was amazing.

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The show opened up with Vancouver indie rock band The Zolas. In a way this show brought a segment of my life full circle, because when I first came to The Habitat as a teenager in 2009 before they acquired their full liquor license I remembered seeing their name up in lights with the likes of Hey Ocean and Said the Whale. I missed that show, but always had a curious desire to see them since. I figured this night was my chance. Add the two extra hours it took for the show to finally start, and it was all still worth it. I’ve seen bands break the barriers between them and the crowds many times before, but none were so daring or memorable as when lead vocalist/guitarist and original founding member Zachary Gray climbed off the stage carried his mic stand and guitar through the crowd to stand and perform amongst the people.

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Like me, most people had come to the see The Zolas, and had no idea what to expect when The Dudes were to come on stage. Suffice to say, they did not disappoint and ruled over everyone as the headliners of this show. These guys rocked hard (of course they did, they’re from Calgary, the Rock Central of Western Canada) and it was clear they were enjoying themselves and had a genuine compassion for Kelowna and its residents. Much respect in return to you, The Dudes.

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Lead man Dan Vacon, with his killer beard, was fun to watch perform as he was very articulate and expressive with his gestures and had phenomenal control over his music as he interacted and took risks with it. I haven’t seen someone perform with such confidence in a long time. From filling in spaces in the music with crowd participation to improvising solos and lyrics, one was always wondering what to expect next. These guys were legitimate and skipped all the nonsense. No phony encores here, folks.  Just straight up entertainment and fun until it was time to pack it in and call it a night.

On a side note: I thought I recognized the bassist’s illustrious chops. Turns out he was in fact Brock Geiger, frontman for Raleigh, another Calgary band, whom I saw perform at the Streaming Café here in Kelowna last winter.

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If you’re like me and hadn’t heard of The Dudes before, make sure to check them out on their BandCamp. Or better yet, go to one of their shows and check them out live. They will blow you away.

And while you’re at it, check out the talented Vancouver act The Zolas as well.

Drunk Punk

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Let’s start with a song from The Ramones, “Bop Till You Drop” which describes last night quite well… So put that song on and let’s get started. I was on my way to a punk show at Kelowna’s downtown venue, The Habitat. The bands playing this night were: The Wild, Shithawk, Dayglo Abortions and The Casualties.

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The only band worth mentioning to check out would be Dayglo Abortions who I sadly missed play. This band has been around for ages, so if you’re a diehard punk fanatic, they’re a good place to start for a Canadian born band. Mind you, if I was going that route, I’d start with D.O.A, who played months ago at Doc Willoughby’s Pub. But anyways, Dayglo Abortions formed in Victoria, Canada in 1979 and released their first album by 1981. For more information on them, visit this link: http://thedaygloabortions.com/bio.html

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Taking photos is difficult because the lighting in this venue is tantamount to a dark alley lit by a distance streetlight. That being said, I went back later in the evening and snapped a few shots, witnessed the intense stage dives, rioting, headbanger fans and allover chaos — the epitome of punk as I shot through waving arms, spilled liquor and a raging mosh-pit. The evolution of punk hasn’t changed much and  seemed really stale to me.

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For me, punk music has always been about expression which is something I felt was lacking from last night’s bands because their styles felt too generic for my taste. That being said it was nice to be around like-minded people even if they were: stoned, drunk and pissed off. Which is usually how I like them anyways.

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All in all, it was another run of the mill punk showdown, in a nice venue. If you had “better” things to do I guess there’s always next time so until then, keep listening to this dying genre and support your local artists!

Said the Whale Interview

STARS

Said the Whale arrive in Kelowna Wednesday, April 3rd as they open for Canadian indie pop royalty STARS. Tickets are available online.

Random Tip: Did you know they have an app that was developed right here in Kelowna? Here is an interview I did with Tyler Bancroft from Said the Whale.

You’re coming off a huge couple of years with the Juno Award for New Group of the Year in 2011, your own documentary, Winning America, the Rockstar Weekly nod in the “Top 12 RockStarts to Watch in 2012” list, and the release of Little Mountain. As we hit the spring of 2013, where are you looking go? Any particular resolutions or goals for this year?
In short, we’re working on a new record, so definitely hoping to put that out this year. We’re about half way done recording. I can’t tell you a lot about it at this point as it hasn’t been decided but after this tour, we’ll head back into studio and hopefully get it done.

You’re playing with Stars at the Kelowna Community Theatre for this concert and must naturally see a synergy between your music and theres. How do you relate to this band and how do you pick the bands you tour with?
We have a choice? We really wanted to get on the tour and we were lucky enough to get it. We’re fans of Stars. We played with them a couple of years ago and Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell watched our entire set that first time. We kept in touch loosely, saw them at parties and stuff like that, and here we are playing with them. So, we’re very honoured.

If you could pick any festival in the world to play what would it be?
Coachella

You’ve had a number of band members come and go since you started in 2007. How has that helped or hindered the band?
The way I want to answer that question isn’t very nice to the people who have left the band, but I can say every personnel change we’ve had has been an improvement. With that in mind, they’ve also all helped (the band).

When you start a band and your tours really suck, and it’s even more of a struggle than it is now, it’s really easy for someone to figure out if they want to be in a touring band and, in all of those cases, it just wasn’t something those people were into doing…

It’s really easy for you to figure out if you really love it when you’re touring around in a van with ten people or if it’s something you just don’t want to do. Touring is an arduous task; it requires a lot of energy. There’s no hard feelings. They moved on and did what was right for them.

Is there a place the band really likes to go to drum up new songs?
Not normally, but it’s funny you say that because we just did a writing trip to Banff, three of us. It was amazing and it was so productive, and I’m hoping that we can do it again really soon.

You’re well on your way to making it into the big leagues. One day, when Coldplay is opening for you and Madonna is waiting backstage for an autograph, what will you demand in the rider as dressing room nosh?
Hmmm. What do we need? Every time we get our rider fulfilled I’m just so grateful that we have a rider, so to think of what’s missing from that… I wish I was more creative. Maybe an old school Nintendo with some Duck Hunt.

What other artists are on the top of your playlists at the moment?
Digging Chvrches right now; Braids from Montreal; and We are the City from Kelowna. Their new album is finished. I do have a copy of it and it is going to blow people out of the water.

Part of what’s made your career what it is today is your PEAK Performance Project showing. Would it have changed the trajectory of the band if Said the Whale had finished on top instead of second place to Kyprios?
I think we would have had an extra $25,0000 to play with and it might have made things a little less stressful for a few months, but otherwise no.

Anything you want to say to the fans in Kelowna who are coming out to hear you play?
We love Kelowna so much and can’t wait to play there.

A-OK Giveaway: Dirty Radio Prize Packs

DiRTY RADiO are the hardest working band in the country, and that’s because they’re more than just a band; they’re remixers, producers, contributors, collaborators, and businessmen; and we want to give you the chance to catch this wild act on April 4th at Habitat!

What you can win

We have one (1) Grand Prize consisting of:

  • 2 Tickets to the Show
  • 1 T-Shirt
  • 1 CD of “Debut”
  • 1 Cassette of “Cassette”
  • $50 Habitat bar tab

As well as two (2) Runner Up Packages of:

  • 2 Tickets to the Show
  • 1 Cassette of “Cassette”

How you can win

Visit our Facebook page (make sure to Like us while you’re there!) and Share the Dirty Radio Prize Pack Timeline photo on your timeline! Three lucky winners will be chosen at 10am Thursday April 4th.