Music

The BPRS @ The Dang Crib, THIS Saturday, August 12th!

We’re doing the thing all the cool kids do: playing a house party in Bushwick! We kick off the night at 8 pm followed by some killer local rock bands including our faves, OxenFree. BYOB. See you there – if you’re cool enough! 😉

OxenBrother

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The BPRS Live TONIGHT, 7/29, at Freddy’s Bar & Backroom!

Poseidon, dry by Anthony.jpg

The BPRS brings our experimental pop rock to Freddy’s Bar and Backroom TONIGHT, Saturday, July 29th at 8:30, followed by some bluesy, Americana rock with Sunshine Nights at 9:30. No cover!

When: Saturday, July 29th, 8 pm
Where: Freddy’s Bar and Backroom, 627 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY (map)
Who: Sunshine Nights and The Brooklyn Players Reading Society
Why: Good tunes, good drinks, good Brooklyn vibes

RSVP on our Facebook event page, or just show up!

For more on The BPRS, listen to our recorded tunes on bandcamp and find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Cover photo “Poseidon, dry” by Anthony Fine.

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The BPRS Live @ Freddy’s Bar and Backroom with Sunshine Nights, July 29th, 8 pm!

Poseidon, dry by Anthony.jpg

The BPRS brings our experimental pop rock to Freddy’s Bar and Backroom on Saturday, July 29th at 8:30, followed by some bluesy, Americana rock with Sunshine Nights at 9:30. No cover!

When: Saturday, July 29th, 8 pm
Where: Freddy’s Bar and Backroom, 627 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY (map)
Who: Sunshine Nights and The Brooklyn Players Reading Society
Why: Good tunes, good drinks, good Brooklyn vibes

RSVP on our Facebook event page, or just show up!

For more on The BPRS, listen to our recorded tunes on bandcamp and find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Cover photo “Poseidon, dry” by Anthony Fine.

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We the People: Meet Kelsey of Blak Emoji

Name: Kelsey Warren of Blak Emoji (formerly of Pillow Theory)
Age: “I never disclose my age. I’m older than…sigh, yeah.”
Lives In: Brooklyn, NY
Ethnicity: “I’m black black black, lol. African American? I always feel strange saying that.”
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked

For this edition of We the People, I’m psyched to share a Q&A with vocalist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and father, Kelsey Warren.

Q: How many people are in your current band, Blak Emoji?

A: Four people: Sylvana on keys, Max on acoustic and electric drums, and Brian on electric and keyboard bass.

Q: What was it like to form a new project after so much time with Pillow Theory? What was your motivation for doing this?
A: I had a great time with Pillow, many ups and downs. I just felt sonically trapped after a while. I think it’s more difficult for a predominately hard rock band these days to explore without getting criticism. Bands aren’t taking the risk as much anymore of embracing other genres while still being yourself. Deftones is an example of a band who does an amazing job staying true to their sound while also moving forward sonically and breaking new ground. Their latest album is a testament to that. Super excited for the new Queens Of The Stone Age album produced by Mark Ronson – another example, plus Josh is the man. It just got to a point where I desired to write more pop and electronic music and dance more, yet still have that edge. I also wanted to record more alone or with a few new people. Like a search for a comfortable, more introspective process. Basically, I needed to break out of the straight jacket I put myself in. Best decision ever.


Q: How did you find your current band members, and do you run into logistical issues with schedules, practice spaces, etc?
A: I’d seen Sylvana around but had never officially met her previously. I knew she was a badass keyboardist and vocalist, but I also loved her vibe and energy from what I saw. We had one rehearsal and it just clicked so effortlessly and easy. Like I felt I found someone I would be making music with for a long time in many circumstances. She makes it fun without trying.

Max was recommended a few days before our first live show ever. The drummer I was planning on using stopped showing up at rehearsals, and I was in a serious jam. A friend said that I should go to a club to check out this drummer he was playing with. He said he had an amazing feel and was a quick learner. I went to the gig and called him after the show to see if he was interested in playing the debut Blak Emoji show. Never looked back after that. Max has the knack to complete the missing puzzle piece of sound. He’s more than just a drummer, he’s definitely a sonic architect and he compliments my ideas extremely well.

Max bought Brian in after we’d gone through a few bass players. They’ve played together a lot so they already had that classic rhythm section vibe going on. Brian is that bass player with all the chops but knows when to keep it simple and really sink into the groove of a song. Subtle and melodic. And he’s killer on bass keys. And fun. All four of us together work, but what makes it is the music and the laughter. We just crack each other up, which is the best.

Q: How does the songwriting process work with this project, like who brings ideas to the band and how do they become songs, or do you instead write all of the parts and the other members learn them, or some other kind of method? And how do you personally write songs? Is there a specific thing you tend to start with, such as a guitar melody, and then build on, or is it a different experience with each song? How much weight do you place on lyrics?
A: I write the songs in many different settings. Most work is done at home, but inspiration can spark at any given moment. I always record ideas in my phone if I’m out. You can always sing parts into your phone, which is great. Also, it helps to have an app or two to flesh out songs, and that’s been my latest drug. I helped write for a new project predominately on my Iphone 7 via the iMPC app. There’s no such thing as one way to write with this process for myself. I’ll write on piano, guitar, keyboards, experiment with sound, make beats, use GarageBand, Logic, just vocals or whatever the mood and song calls for at the time. A lot of times I come into rehearsal with a song or idea and start playing. Everybody has amazing contributions and I like to have a structure but leave room for the musicians to add their own flavor. Great music minds just make the song that much better. Lyrics are very important to me, whether they are deep or tongue-in-cheek. I have to feel the meaning in order to give off a great performance. Sometimes they come first, sometimes last.

Q: Do you draw any kind of line between yourself as a musician and your personal self (I’m thinking like how Tom Waits adopted different personas for his albums, none of which seemed to be who he really was at home, or how Lou Reed was notoriously grumpy/private with interviewers, vs someone like Adele who seems to put her private life out into the public eye)?
A: That depends on the song or the year, lol. The INTRO ep is pretty much my life, or was at the time. I’ve been guilty of both. Sometimes it’s about me, other times it’s not, which is cool, you know. Leaves a bit of mystery unless I say, hey, that song was about such and such. It’s therapeutic to write about yourself but it’s also fun to write about other people, events or just make up characters. Some songs are just stems from poems. I think I’d personally be bored deciding to solely write one way or the other.

Q: How old is your daughter? Does she ever come to your shows? What does it feel like to play for her?
A: My daughter just turned 14. Yes, it’s the best when she gets to see me and the band play. I’m extremely happy when she’s there in the audience. She comes with her friends which is even more of a compliment. She doesn’t have to be there if she doesn’t want to, so I’m blessed that she comes when she can. A dad’s dream man. I guess I’m still in cool dad status. I’m not sure how much longer that is going to be, though.

Wanna hear more?

Welcome to We the People, a column featuring stories and profiles of your fellow Americans because we the people of the United States need to meet one another. Click here to learn more
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“We Can Find the Way” – New Song from The BPRS!

I’m so pissed that our Representatives voted to screw us all over, to take away our access to affordable maternity care, mental health services, prescription drugs and oh so much more, all so that they and their rich friends can get a tax break. These are the people who turned their backs on us – make sure you remember their names in 2018.

Yes, I understand that the AHCA bill has many steps and changes to go through before it takes effect, I get that the Senate is “going to fix it,” but none of this changes the fact that these assholes let it pass through the House. The greed and selfishness is SO SICKENING.

But more and more of us are paying attention now. More and more of us are fed up. And more and more of us are taking action. I actually wrote the words to this new BPRS song during the Obama years and sadly, the angry parts about our capitalist society run amuck are even truer than ever. But you know what? So are the hopeful parts. We’ve got this, ya’ll. Don’t let your anger/sadness/fear negatively affect your day-to-day. Smile at people. Hold doors for them. Tell your friends and family you love them. Remind yourself of all the things you’re grateful for. Spreading love and building community are two powerful ways to resist. Stay strong.

Check out The Brooklyn Players Reading Society’s Bandcamp page to hear more of our music.

solidarity“International Women’s Day, Solidarity” by Giulia Forsythe / Creative Commons

#TBT To That Time When I Interviewed Greg Ginn (of Black Flag!)

img_4857_15264915440_oWere we ever so young? Dave and I at a Knocks show back in 2009.

It’s funny to be old enough to have seen a life come and gone. Back in the day, before I’d fully embraced myself as a fiction writer and a musician (and loooong before Lew bounced onto the scene), I ran an online music reviewing magazine called Knocks From the Underground and that shit was serious. I managed a staff of writers and editors, fielded album and live reviews, hosted regular live showcases that attracted 100+ fans, constantly networked with bands and venues, and even produced a local rock compilation. I also met some of my still good friends through Knocks! This all went on for years and, while I loved it, I ultimately got tired of reviewing other peoples’ art and decided to make my own. But it’s always fun to revisit those days, especially the day my music journalism career hit its peak in a phone interview one beautiful, summer afternoon with Greg Ginn (formerly of Black Flag) right after his concert at the long gone Zebulon celebrating the release of his 7″ record with The Taylor Texas Corrugators on Electric Cowbell Records. Happy Throwback Thursday, ya’ll!

Feature Article: Greg Ginn on Touring, Drinking and Avoiding Cynicism
By: Becky Firesheets, Editor-in-Chief
April 23, 2010

gregginntaylortxGreg Ginn loves wine. Dry, red wine to be exact. As do the members of his latest project, an instrumental trio dubbed Greg Ginn and the Taylor Texas Corrugators. They all love it so much that, despite playing 21 gigs in a row on their recent three-month tour, the Corrugators still managed to stop at a winery almost every day.

“More have popped up in the last ten years,” Ginn explained during our recent phone interview. “They’re usually located in a real nice place just off the roadway. They’re really beautiful, you wouldn’t expect to see something like that only two miles off the road. It’s a great way to see different climates and places in the country. It’s a real nice break.”

Much of the Corrugators’ collection pleasantly lolls more like days spent drinkin’ whiskey, yet a refined taste in jazz (and wine) heavily influences each song’s direction. It’s not that any given tune is country, jazz, blues or rock, but rather any given tune is all of the above. Moody guitar riffs morph into experimental solos, organ melodies swagger from swing to free jazz, Latin rhythms shake their hips across the drum set. The band shares a soulful, funk breakdown then heavy bass lines rock in and out, pulling songs like “Welcome, Stranger” into a twisty acid world where cowboys and hippies host dance-a-thons with space aliens. The energy is engulfing, even from just a recording.

“I wrote all the songs on the new CD [Legends of Williamson County, 2010]. I started about 50% of them on bass, but I like to take different approaches when I write. I’ll start recording an instrument and then add to it from there.”

greg_ginn_black_flag_ruhrpott_rodeo_2013_imgp5891_smial_wpPhoto of Greg Ginn in 2013 by Smial (talk) – Own work, FAL / Creative Commons

The absence of lyrics may be unappealing to some but the album certainly isn’t lacking anything. “Breakfast at Night” is as upbeat and catchy as any pop song (just with more class and depth) while the drum solo on “Twirly Bird” rocks as hard as Led Zeppelin. The album, with Ginn on guitar/bass/organ, Gary Piazza on guitar and Sean Hutchinson on drums, also offers some in-the-moment grooves, blending composed and improvised material throughout. However, the TX Corrugators stepped it up on their past tour and completely improvised every show.

“I improv day to day, have friends over to play. You find the common denominator with other musicians and work from there. Others add in their perspective and you find what you can work with.”

While such a thing is mostly unheard of in our Williamsburg bubble of formulaic indie rock, the crowds at Zebulon and Issue Project Room loved the TX Corrugators.

“We were unsure how we’d be received in New York, if people would be into the whole improv thing or not, but they liked it, we had a blast. Brooklyn has changed a lot, it was really fun. I love this city.”

Whether speeding from the winery to the club in time for the opener or scoping out a local joint, Ginn regularly makes an effort to see new and unusual music.

“I like jam bands and electro and various kinds of dance. I really like to see live jazz. Mostly electro and jazz, and rock bands that improv and incorporate electro elements. I’m just not a big fan of indie hipster rock. I like things that are more spontaneous. You can get used to something and get comfortable but I try to get out of my comfort zone and hear stuff that I’m not familiar with. I don’t want to just see my friends. There’s a lot of good music at different places, from different cultures.”

gregginn7%22While Ginn himself has achieved celebrity status, his musical endeavors, past and present, are often labeled as “underground.” When asked what that word means to him, Ginn replied, “It means mainly bands that are spread by word of mouth and not mass media. I’m not against groups being successful, of course, but we’re doing something different and challenging and wouldn’t expect traditional media to pick up on it. Like it or not, we are firmly rooted in the underground.”

What does a long-term undergrounder have to say to the newcomers?

“I guess the main thing is that people get jaded. Just try to stay tuned in and find music you’re excited about making. A lot of success is dependent on timing and luck as much as everything else. You’re better off sustaining something you’re excited about. If you stop feeling that way then get out of the rut, leave all the other stuff for the media and other people and just make your music, make what you wanna hear. Don’t cater to someone else, to what you think someone wants to hear. Then you’ll get cynical and dislike being involved in music.”

Need some inspiration? Check out their record (album cover pictured above) at Electric Cowbell Records, a Brooklyn/D.C.-based label run by DJ/drummer Jimmy T who only releases original, limited-run 7”. Or, stream Legends From Williamson County here.

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“One Day” Live Music Video!

So psyched to share The Brooklyn Players Reading Society’s first video, made especially for NPR’S Tiny Desk Contest. Wish us luck!

HUGE thanks to videographer Aviva Buivid (of #100Daysofgoodstuff), video editor Taj Campan (of TajBeats), volunteer babysitter Katie Gallof, and Webster Hall.