Via Mark Naison, professor of history and African American history at Fordham University:
We’ve all seen the videos and heard the stories. Someone walks up to a person who looks ‘foreign’ and demands that they act/speak/look ‘American’ only to be told that the ‘foreigner’ grew up here and is really just as American as anyone else.
Joe Kye is a Korean-born fellow, who moved to the US at age 6. He experiences some aspect of being told ‘you’re different’ just about every day- even in his hometown of Seattle. But ultimately, the city came to his rescue, presenting the young Joe the opportunity to play violin in the school system. It proved to be his escape, and the songs on Joe’s upcoming album Migrants reflect the immigrant experience, and what it’s like to live stuck between two worlds.
“I’m looking to create a sound and a vision for what might be,” says Kye, a violinist, composer, and vocalist who blew open his diverse musical world when he discovered the magic of the loop pedal in college. That vision has fractures and fragments, wounds and gaps, but it resonates with a bittersweet optimism, a measured hope for change and coming together on Migrants, his debut full-length album and third release.
Kye’s crisp playing, layered in swirls of pizzicato arpeggios and percussive elements, forms the foundation for clever and reflexive lyrics and a tender, urgent voice. He bounces his own distinctive sound around in collaboration with everyone from friend and LA-based MC Jason Chu and Vegas-based MC Rasar (“Fall In”), to NYC composer/percussionist William Catanzaro (“Migrants”), to a full string section (“Joseph Rests His Head”), a lush contrast to Kye’s taut loops.
Music has been a lifelong refuge for Kye. “Music is essential and therapeutic for me, and has been since childhood,” Kye recalls. “I remember in Korea, borrowing my dad’s walkman and putting on the headphones, how powerful and adult that felt. That personal and transportative experience has stayed with me.”
Listen to his single “Stick On Me” below and grab the album at his website.
Via Sounds and Colours:
Tropical doyen Cal Jader (the main man at Movimientos) returns to the S&C site for another year with his selection of 10 Latin American tunes that have been keeping his DJ sets, radio shows and headphones alive over the past 12 months. From reggaeton to cumbia to samba, Latin jazz and Cuban electronica there surely is a little something for everyone here.
Read the rest of this piece (with music videos) here.
Please take a listen to his mix below.
I have some good news and some bad news.
The band news is I found out about an empowering all-female band that made beautiful music, but are no longer together. The good news? A Brooklyn record label has re-issued their music! This band is the Femm Nameless.
Led by Trombonist Toli Nameless, who recorded with Antibalas on their classic version of Willie Colon’s Che Che Colé, The Femm Nameless picked up where the Godfather of Afrobeat, Fela Anikulapo Kuti left off, just after meeting Sandra Izsadore. They had a powerful and unmistakeable energy that could only come from a woman, or in this case, eight women.
They describe themselves as “all-female punk funk meets ‘Mama Afrobeat,’ the Femm Nameless, disbanded after some active years of performing live and recording an incredible demo that never saw the light of day―until now.
The good folks over at Kooyman Records dug into the vaults, mastered and unearthed these jams from Toli & The Femm Nameless to bring us a 10” viny.! The record includes a dance floor monster―a cover of Nina Simone’s “See Line Woman,” flipped upside down, in fine Afrobeat style.
The ideas on the record were put together by Toli, along with Tom Brenneck of the Dap Kings, the Budos Band and the Menahan Street Band, and Ernesto Abreau of Antibalas. The record was recorded and engineered in East Flatbush, Brooklyn by Sydney Mills of Steel Pulse.
Or stream it below.
I am loving this entire list of the greatest albums made by women by the good folks over at NPR Music. No Doubt, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, La Lupe… it’s like going down memory lane with so many great albums.
Here’s an excerpt of number 47 by Cuba’s Celia Cruz:
47. Celia Cruz
Son con Guaguanco(Emusica/Fania, 1966)
When Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso sang, people stopped and listened. Alfonso, known by her stage name Celia Cruz, possessed a full-bodied voice filled with emotion and sincerity that makes you feel viscerally what she’s singing. She took Cuban music out of Cuba, out of Latin America and into the world. And she did it as a black woman in a male dominated field that valued whiteness. On her 1966 album Son con Guaguanco, she sings about daily life—about not having manteca to cook, losing her purse and being deeply in love. As women fought to be taken seriously in the workplace, Celia Cruz tirelessly put out albums and toured the world as a single woman — something many people looked down on. But she was the ultimate example of a woman carving her own path and demanding the respect she merited. Though Son con Guaguanco didn’t have much commercial success, it marks the type of music she popularized from the beginning of her career called pregón, which is a Cuban musical style based on the calls and chants of street vendors. She also popularized the Afro-Cuban sounds filled with the raucous horns and drums that comprise the basis of salsa, which became the music of Latinos in the 1970s. A true legend and superstar, and compared to Ella Fitzgerald by many in the American press for her soneos (improvisational sections of salsa songs more nuanced than jazz scats), Celia Cruz continues to be a shining example for being completely yourself. —Christina Cala (NPR Staff)
Read the whole list here.
The LAMC once again provided opportunities to network for conference go-ers and artists alike. Attendees were informed about industry trends through panels featuring representatives from Pandora, Spotify, Rogers & Cowan, NPR, Live Nation, The Orchard, Universal, Moet Hennessy, and Symphonic Distribution, among others, plus a special conversation with the legendary
Carlos Alomar and Eduardo Cabra.
Panel topics ranged from touring in the U.S. and digital music platforms to Latin music in TV and film. Additionally, our showcases around NYC featured artists like Mon Laferte, La Vida Bohème, Amaral, Los Pericos, C. Tangana, Rawayana, Princess Nokia, and Alex Anwandter at venues such as SOBs, Highline Ballroom, Central Park SummerStage, and BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! at Prospect Park.
During the Indie showcase on Thursday, A.CHAL and Jesse Baez were named this year’s “Discovery Award” recipients and received award packages from Shure, Gibson Brands, PioneerDJ, and Native Instruments joining previous Discovery alumni such as Kinky, iLe, Carla Morrison, and El Mató a Un Policía Motorizado, among others.
LAMC attendees were able to split their time between panels, showcases, and activations by PioneerDJ, Shure, Native Instruments, Sounds from Spain, Symphonic Distribution, and others at the Stewart Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Also present was the now classic LAMC media floor for all of the showcasing artists – filled with many key media outlets.
I’m sure there are some folks who have never been to New York City who imagine that, on any given night, one can find a nightclub to hit where one can hear all kinds of global music and an inclusive environment for anyone—gay or straight, dancing along to it. But that’s not really true.
This is precisely why I became a huge fan of a monthly party called Que Bajo?! a number of years ago (2011) and attended it as much as possible. It was the one party where I could hear music from Colombia, Africa, Puerto Rico, hell, even funky beats coming out of Austin, Texas. Purely danceable stuff with guest DJs from across the United States, Europe or Latin America making a pretty diverse crowd dance all night long.
That party is now defunct but, luckily for us, its DJs are still out there working at a variety of parties. (Que Bajo?! co-founder Uproot Andy is back from touring in Brazil and will be playing in Brooklyn on Friday, July 7!)
The other founding DJ, Geko Jones, is now throwing a party called Ministerio de la Parranda. Thankfully, this party is continuing the work of providing a cool space for a diverse crowd to hear a “sancocho” of flavors from Latin America and beyond.
Here’s just 29 seconds of video from the party on June 24. In it, you’ll hear the BEAUTIFUL chords of an African guitar so often heard in Congolese soukous and Colombian champeta music. I had to stop dancing and hit record because, again, this music isn’t easily found in New York City, and I needed to share the moment, which came on New York City’s Pride weekend.
It was a beautiful moment and although I’m very sad to see Que Bajo?! go, I’m happy there are other spaces where one can enjoy such an atmosphere.
(Read my story about the new party in Sounds and Colours.)