Sunday, April 5, 2009

A. VanVraken & COSM

Posted By on April 5, 2009, 7:02 AM

Back out to the local shows I go, this week hitting up one of the few jazz places in town.

--- This past Friday after attending the Best Of Utah awards party (more on that later), I made my way up the street to Monk's Hosue Of Jazz. Caught their awesome show kicking off with electronica spin master A. VanVraken, followed up by the mind boggling hip-hop jazz of COSM. I got a chance to snap some pictures and chat with both the man and the band.

A. VanVranken

http://www.myspace.com/avanvranken


Gavin: Hey A. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

A: I'm originally from Phoenix, AZ, I've been in Salt Lake City for about 9 years.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

A: I used to be way into industrial music like Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, and Front 242. This doesn't really show in my music now as far as I can tell but that's what i was into!

Gavin: How did you get into playing electronica, and as a one-piece at that?

A: I don't know, I was just always fascinated by electronic music, the way you can create any sound you want, warp and twist it in any number of ways.

Gavin: When creating a song, is it more experimental for you or is there a structure behind it all?

A: I'll usually just sit down and the keyboard until i find a catchy pattern or beat and then build the song around that. As far as the structure of the song, I just go with what sounds good to me. I don't really have any formal musical knowledge so I don't know if I would know how to "properly" structure a song.

Gavin: What was it like first recording the Flow album, and what was the reaction to it like when it first came out?

A: That was fun, I was like 20-21 at the time and everything (musically) was so new and exciting. I would just sit in my apartment all day and mess around with sounds and make tracks. I was also working for a sample company at the time and they had a studio for me in there so I could mess around with sounds and music whenever I wanted. Nothing seemed to get in the way back then. The reaction? It was good, I would just put stacks of that CD in random places and I've had a lot of random emails and positive comments about it for a long time.

Gavin: You got on the Death By Salt album a few years back. How did that happen, and what was that experience like for you?

A: I just submitted a track I already had completed, had a friend take some photos of me, and it made it on there. It didn't take much time or energy to be honest.

Gavin: You've got a number of albums out now, is there a particular favorite from the list you enjoyed working on and playing, or is it too hard to choose?

A: My favorite by far is my upcoming album Landed. It should be released in the next couple months if all goes well. I'm really happy with it, its 3-4 years of my favorite tracks, all unreleased (except two tracks from the Thin EP.

Gavin: Speaking of which, tell us a bit on the new album.

A: Yes, the Landed album. I'm been focusing on DJing a lot lately, thats been giving me a different point of view on music and music creation. I think every electronic producer should try DJ'ing for a while (not his own tracks).

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

A: I think it's pretty good. There's some amazing local electronic artists here that are not involved in the "electronic scene". like VCR5, The Soundtrack Scene, Haptic, 1h86335. These artists are all very active and are probably more well known than me but it's surprising that they kind of have a scene of their own.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?

A: I'm without ideas but it seems over the past two years or so its been a lot better, more progressing.

Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

A: I really like Red Bennies and Tolchock Trio as far as rock goes. I really like Soundtrack Scene and VCR5 also. As far as DJ's go, Illoom, Steezo, Pelpp, RS4, Balance, Scott Evol and Nemesis always put on a good set.

Gavin: Moving to the music industry, tell us what your thoughts are on it in general and the current state it's in?

A: I'm so out of it as far as that goes, but I'm excited to see so many independent bands do so well. I'm sure it has a lot to do with digital music availability and online promoting being so easy now. There can be really popular artists with huge followings that really have no "mainstream" exposure.

Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?

A: The only time I hear the radio is at the gym or another car at a stop light, and damn. It's bad. really bad. I'm talking about the main corporate radio stations of course, I'm sure KRCL is playing great stuff.

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing and how it affects you as a musician?

A: It's good exposure, I'd rather have people listening to my music than not. But if I were to be paid for every song of mine shared, I'd probably be bringing in a bit more money.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?

A: New album: Landed. 12 brand new tracks

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

A: Yes, I'm doing a Downtempo/dubstep night every Sunday at W Lounge. We have a new guest DJ every week, plus board games and cheap drink specials. It's a perfect place to chill after a crazy weekend.


COSM (Daniel Day, Ramases, Collin Amuse)

http://www.myspace.com/cosm

Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Daniel: I am a professional drummer and drum instructor and am 35 years old. I love to play, teach and just have music as my life. Outside of COSM , I am busy with my jazz group The Daniel Day Trio. I consider myself a Utah Native but I have lived out of the state much of my life. Minneapolis (as a child), Boston (Berklee College of Music), New York (played on the Jazz scene), and Los Angeles (Rock scene) . Returned to Utah in 2000 and have been busy with music full time since my return.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Daniel: I decided to do music in the 80s when I was a kid in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Prince really inspired me along with the punk rock music scene in Minneapolis.

Collin: I think I have always been interested in music, even when I was really young. I remember this tiny pocket sized keyboard I had (I mean literally it could fit in your pocket), and that was when I was 4 years old I think. Anyway I thought that was the coolest thing in the world, and it didn't even have that great of sound. As far as influences go, I could name thousands. Everything from Mozart to Squarpusher. I really try to keep my mind open so as to not limit myself, or the music I create. My first real concert was Jane's Addiction and Primus at the Fairgrounds Colosseum when I was twelve. That was amazing, I was half the size of almost everyone in there.

Gavin: How did you all end up meeting each other over time?

Daniel: COSM has been a very long musical evolution that was born out of the band Iceburn in the 90s. I gathered many of the musicians associated with that movement and we performed each Tuesday at Mechanized Records when it was located in Sugarhouse. Then I moved to NY and put together A Trio with Oscar Noriega and Daniel Carter.

Gavin: Where did the idea to starts COSM come from?

Daniel: The current direction of Drum n' Bass and Hip Hop (“Hip Step”) was an evolution from the COSM lineup that released the 2003 EP and the 12” Vinyl release Fast Way To Go. Wendy and Greg both moved out of state in 2003 so Collin and I were left with a lot musical desire and ambition but we needed new vocalists to collaborate with. I just hit the clubs and looked for talent and eventually found Mia Carter and Ramases in 2004. Mia now lives in Los Angeles, CA and Ramses lives in Reno, NV but both are still active members and perform with at least twice a year in Salt Lake and also join when we venture out of state.

Gavin: You've had a lot of members come and go. Who all has been involved with the group over the years, and how has that changed the sound over time?

Daniel: Wow this is going to take a while to explain 15 years of music. Here goes: 1st Lineup: Cosm. Improvisational Avant Garde Jazz Octet. 1994-96 - Jared Russell, Cache Tollman, Doug Wright: Acoustic Bass, Chris Hill, Josh Dickson, Adam Lane, Aaron Hansen, Tod Hansen, Daniel Day: Percussion. 2nd Lineup: New York City Avant Garde Jazz Trio. 1996-98 - Oscar Noriega, Daniel Carter, Daniel Day. 3rd Lineup 2000 -2003 - Wendy J., Chris Hill, Greg Bower, Collin McIntire (AKA Amuse), Daniel Day. Current Lineup: 2004-Current - Collin McIntire (AKA Amuse), Ramases, Mia Carter, Daniel Day. The group started out as an Avant Gard Jazz ensemble drawing inspiration from late period John Coltrane, early Ornette Coleman, and the legacy of 60's and 70's Avant Gard Jazz. Later I discovered that same raw energy and spirit of wild innovation to be in Drum n' Bass (electronic Dance Music genre originating from the UK in the early 90s). That led to the bridge between of two seeing unrelated genres. I knew little about making electronic music so with help of Greg Bower, Todd Hansen, and Collin McIntire (all three are very skilled and talented Electronic music producers) I was able to pick production techniques and soon found myself in full blown collaboration with these amazing talents in electronic music. I also got into the Rave and DJ scene from 99-2003 to quench my thirst for this music and cultural movement.

Gavin: What was it like recording that first 6 Song EP back in 2003, and how was the public reaction to it coming out?

Daniel: That was out first product and it was crazy how it all came together so nice. Looking back I don't think we new what we were doing at that time... It was a humble beginning for sure. The reaction to that was very positive because were trying something new and it was appealing with the Pop vocals and popular sensibility of Greg Bower. We had so much energy behind the music and we a lot of fan support. Our Shows at the Zephyr would sell out. We sold about a 1000 CDs during that year. That was a fun era for COSM. We threw some of our own raves and brought in DJs from out of state. It was a whole movement we were pushing. Now we rare searching for more artistic satisfaction. Expressing ourselves through the music is the root of what drives us now.

Collin: It was great, but challenging. We were playing a lot of shows back then, and we all worked day jobs. We kind of had to piece it together over time to actually produce a recorded project. We would use all the money we made from shows to fund studio time,and other band stuff. The music is a hybrid of electronic and acoustic instruments. So all the electronic stuff we would do on the computer, but we had to go to studios to do all the drums, vocals, guitars, etc. and to mix all of the elements together. I guess really not much has changed since then as far as that goes. We are getting a little more self contained though. I think the public reaction was pretty good. I've had a lot of people tell me they really enjoyed it.

Gavin: You've done a few more EP's since then, does it get easier over time or is it a whole new challenge with every album?

Daniel: The challenge keeps changing over time but it boils down to the fact that it takes a tom of time and dedication to make something like this happen.

Collin: It's definitely both. Some things get easier because you have done them so many times. Yet we are always trying to take things to that next level. The nature of our music is somewhat experimental, and we are always trying new things. Those are the fun challenges though.

Gavin: Are you working on a new album yet or just having fun playing around?

Collin: We have already released a limited run of Microphone Boutique and are trying to finish a few more songs to make it into a full length. We have also released songs on Death by Salt II and an Exigent Records Compilation.

Daniel: We are finishing up our first full length for Exigent Records due out this Summer 2009. Microphone Boutique Vol I and II.

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Daniel: I think Salt Lake City is a great place to create music and enjoy music. There are a lot of opportunities for musicians and music fans here. There are a lot of talented musicians here that are easy to connect with. I make my living as a performing musician in Salt Lake City what could I possibly complain about?

Collin: I think there is a ton of real talent in Utah in general. That being said, many people tend to think that they won't be able to make it big here because of Utah stereotypes and so on. For the most part that has been the case, though there have been a few bands and artists that have had some commercial success. We're not really thinking about that too much though. We just want to make music we enjoy and can be proud of. If commercial success comes from that, so be it.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?

Collin: I would love to see some more all ages venues. It's unfortunate that you have to be 21 to see a lot of the shows in town. Praises to Kilby Court.

Daniel: I think some of the local independent print media have some wide gaps in their music coverage. I don't see a ton of coverage on musicians that don't play at the downtown clubs or composers and music producers etc. etc. It seems like they want mainly cover the rock bands and focus on a handful of people over and over again each year. I don't think that is what the readers want or need from those responsible for covering the local scene that is nearly as diverse as the national scene. They seem to be going through the motions and have stopped digging.

Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Daniel: A .Vanranken, SLAJO, Eagle Twin, Tie Breaker, the Devil Whale, Andale, It Foot It Ears, there are many more.

Gavin: Moving to the music industry, tell us what your thoughts are on it in general and the current state it's in?

Daniel: It is awesome how easy it is to express yourself and to get your music heard. It is appalling how hard it is to sell CDs for many artists. The fans are downloading everything for free or sharing music (I do it as much as anyone). One thing is for sure is that the artistic expression of Music is stronger than ever and that is what matters most.

Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?

Collin: It's hard for me to say. I listen to a lot of NPR and KRCL. Most commercial stations play the same songs over and over again, and It gets old. Other than that I listen to my own collection of music a lot. A majority of the new music I hear about is by word of mouth, the internet, or music mags.

Daniel: Its the same as it has always been from my viewpoint. It is great to have people like Ebay Jamil and Brad Wheeler at KRCL playing interesting stuff. Portia Early is so awesome when it comes to playing local music on the Radio. I actually kind of feel sorry for commercial radio because more than ever people are listening to what they want. The iPod and mp3 downloads have blasted their game big time.

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing and how it affects you as a musician?

Daniel: Easier to reach people but there is a massive flood of product that also makes it hard to get noticed or to make considerable money selling your product.

Collin: Well, I may catch a lot of crap for this, but I don't really care. I think making a big deal about it is what made it so popular in the first place. I didn't know about Napster until Metallica started crying about it. If someone hears our music and likes it, that's enough for me. I used to dub tapes all the time. In a way it's not that much different, it's just on a bigger and faster scale. But that's kind of the nature of progression isn't it!

Gavin: What can we expect from you guys the rest of the year?

Collin: Hopefully our first full length. Other than that, more shows, more collaborations, working on some new tunes, and whatever else comes our way.

Daniel: More shows in SLC and the Western United states. More new music and the completion and release of our record Microphone Boutique Volumes I and II.

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Daniel: Buy The COSM EP on iTunes. Buy our 12” Vinyl release Fast Way To Go at Mechanizes, Uprok, Slowtrain, and Positively 4th Street. The Daniel Day Trio each Saturday at The Red Door. Thanks to The SL Tribune for covering COSM and other amazing local artists. Go to shows and buy music!!

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