Jones Robinson Mix Series - "Feelings” by Maraschino

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Many many many years back I read a feature in FADER magazine about the Los Angeles band “Puro Instinct.” In the piece I learned about the sisters Piper and Sklar Kaplan who’s beautiful 70’s/80’s influenced melodies and production was the basis of the project. As Puro Instinct they released a few projects with my favorite being their debut album “Headbangers In Estacy” and the single “Dream Lover.” One thing I’ve always been fond of relating to Puro is their incredible taste in music. I remember finding compilations and mixes they created online back in the day and being blown away by the breadth of music that they were into and influenced by. A Puro mixtape would incorporate eastern bloc 70’s/80’s pop, current LA singer songwriter tracks, and random American pop cuts that my mom loved in the 90’s. I later reached out to Piper and bought her out to NY to DJ a party that I produced and we’ve kept in touch since then. Piper has a new project called “Maraschino” that I got to see live a year ago at Coney Island. At the event we connected and talked about music as always. I knew I needed to get a mix from Piper when I had an avenue to publish it.

For this iteration of the Jones Robinson Mix Series I present to you “Feelings” by Maraschino - a mix curated by Piper. it’s as good as all of the mixes I’ve enjoyed from her and her sister in the past. Enjoy!

Feelings By Maraschino
Paul Williams - Starfish
Laurie Miller - Love is a Natural Magic Thing
Julee Cruise - Rock Back Inside My Heart
Godley & Creme - Cry
Carly Simon - Why 
Prince - Desire
Linda Di Franco - Stay
Virna Lindt - Pillow Talk
Alan Parsons Project - Don’t Answer Me
TV Babies - Little White Lies
Flayer - Wanna Get Back to Your Love
UB40 - Don’t Break My Heart 
Holger Czukay - Persian Love

The Music and Nothing Else - Q&A with Mike Bell of New Colossus Festival

PomPomSquad - Photography: Michael Todaro

PomPomSquad - Photography: Michael Todaro

Last month, a group of friends - Mike Bell (Lorimer Beacon), Lio Kanine (Kanine Records) & Steven Matrick (Kepler Events/Pianos) - partnered to produce New Colossus Festival , a new NYC music festival and conference. The festival, which went from March 7th-10th focuses on new, emerging artists from around the world. There are festivals such as The New Yorker, Latin Alternative Music Conference, and Winter Jazz Festival that provide great programming in their own right -- but since the demise of CMJ there haven’t been any NYC events that focus on providing stages and an opportunity to perform live for emerging rock acts with limited resources.

When I learned about the festival I was excited that someone was taking it upon themselves to provide that opportunity to new acts. CMJ (all of its faults aside) created a no-frills environment for fans of music to see live (and curated) music up close and personal in New York City - a powerful tool for discovery. I wanted to learn more about New Colossus Festival and what the founders had in mind when they created it, along with what their value proposition was for local music fans and artists. I would argue there’s not a better feeling as a music fan than the feeling of real-time live discovery. It’s a feeling where you are hearing an artist that you like for the first time in a small venue with other fans and there’s excitement and energy flowing throughout the set and experience. It’s a special feeling. With that in mind I sent questions to Mike Bell, one of the founders of the festival, who was gracious enough to provide me with answers.  Here he touches on cutting the fat of the standard festival experience and the Lower East Side’s history as a hub of live music. 

Where did the name “The New Colossus Festival” come from and are you looking to signify anything specific with it?
There’s a sonnet written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus called “The New Colossus” and it’s featured on the Statue of Liberty. You’ve probably heard it, “give us your tired, you poor...”. It’s a perfect welcoming message to the world that we wanted to convey with the festival. We wanted to celebrate NYC’s history of being a welcoming place and a launching point for all. 

Now that festival is over do you and your partners feel that you reached your objectives? 
I’d say so. We’re very happy with how the first year turned out. 

I’ve read that your festival is looking to fill the vacuum that CMJ’s fall conference created when it shut down in 2016. In the three years since the conference went away what areas of need in the NYC music industry/community did you identify as areas that NCF could help with? 
NYC has always been supportive of music and numerous institutions have come and gone throughout its history. We have no desire to fill any shoes nor participate in the “reboot” culture. Our mission is pretty simple. We want to celebrate great new music from around the world in a live setting and cut away all the fat. 

Looking at the showcase style schedule, the venues, and the spirit, it feels like you’re employing the format established by CMJ and other international showcases for NCF. Based on your knowledge and experience of those conferences/festivals, what did you want NCF to offer that was different or unique? 
I’ve been to and participated in numerous festivals and conferences all over the world and have learned a lot along the way. First off, The New Colossus Festival is all about accessibility. That’s why the badge prices were insanely cheap ($50) and why we chose not to have VIP or industry passes. The main difference we aim to bring goes back to my point about “cutting the fat” in the last question. Our approach is to be exclusively focused on the music and the artists. If you can deliver good music, then everything else such as brand activations, films, comedians, food, superstar headliners, etc. really doesn't matter. 

Were there specific audiences you had in mind for this offering? For example are you looking to provide bands with more resources because majority of them are relatively new or are you looking to market more to a general music fan audience instead of it being so industry specific like CMJ was? 
We want music fans in the audience. Doesn’t matter where they work. As long as they’re enjoying themselves and hopefully supporting artists into the future, then that’s all we can really ask for.  Of course we want the bands to be seen by industry when they’re in NYC and they want to be seen by people who may help advance their careers. However, a room full of crazy fans is going to look a lot better and do more for a band’s career in the long run than a room full of industry people standing in back talking to each other the whole time. 

New York City’s real estate has made it perpetually difficult for night clubs, music venues, and spaces of culture to stay where they currently are or in business at all. Was any part of producing NCF about supporting and providing a big moment for the iconic LES/EV venues that no longer have the national/international moment that a conference like CMJ provided? Speak to the partnership with the venues and what your mutual goals were in working together.
We’re very interested in building community. Gentrification is happening all over, but it doesn’t have to kill culture. The LES venues have always come and gone and sad as it may be, that’s the nature of the NYC throughout its history. One thing that has been consistent since the mid-1800s is that the Lower East Side has been a nurturing home for creative types of all kinds offering live performance opportunities and numerous bygone venues. From minstrel shows, to vaudeville, to jazz, to punk, to hipster indie rock, venues in the area have been there to support artists. With The New Colossus, we wanted to partner with venues who first and foremost have good sound. There’s no point in putting a band who traveled half-way around the world on a stage and the sound is bad. Second, the venues we teamed up with got our vision of supporting great new music and were less worried about ticket sales or bar guarantees.

Your strategy to book NCF a week before SXSW makes sense because you’re able to give traveling artists a chance to play NYC before going to Austin and make their planning as efficient as possible. Is it not financially feasible for your team to produce the festival in the fall when CMJ happened or is it not feasible at this point in the festivals existence to expect bands to book travel for a fall conference style festival? What things did you have to take into consideration with planning/timing the festival?
We felt that March was the best time to do this. The autumn season is great and less likely to snow, but why else would an international band come to North America? It’s expensive for them and we get it. 

From big promoters such as AEG, Live Nation, to smaller promoters, NYC has been a tough market to establish a consistent and profitable festival. What are your team’s larger goals and hopes for NCF and what is your measure of success? For the artists, what would be an ideal outcome for them that you’d want relating to participating in your festival? 
We don’t really have large goals for the festival and will not grow it beyond a reasonable size. A sprawling festival or one with too many parts would  not work for us and could not be sustainable within our mission. As for measure of success, we want the bands to enjoy being part of the festival and get something out of it. It would also be nice to earn enough money to just work on this all year, but that’s not really what this is all about. 

The changing landscape of music with technology has turned everything upside down from 30 years ago where a conference was key for journalists and labels to check out artists because sometimes artists hadn’t released material or had not had it distributed widely. What can a festival such as yours, which is marketed to people within the media and label worlds, offer now that technology has removed barriers for discovery and communication within music? 
I personally love what technology has done to level the playing field for music discovery. It’s great to be able to hear anything on demand and learn more about the artist, the song, etc. within seconds. What technology cannot do is replace the live experience. This is a very different experience than listening to a recording. Prior to player pianos and later records and digital files, the only way to enjoy music was to perform it yourself or be in the same room while someone else to performed it. Thousands of years of history, humans have only experienced music “live”. It’s kind of built into our DNA. I can’t really explain it more than that, but can say that a captivating live performance can win over lifelong fans in a way that a recording may not. 

What are your plans for next year relating to the festival? 
We’ll be announcing our 2nd year soon so stay tuned. 

Saturday Night Live Email Roundtable

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I LOVE Saturday Night Live. I’ve been watching the show since I was a kid and have stayed with it throughout my adult life. I read the amazing oral history of SNL “Live From New York” that I’d recommend to anyone who’s a fan of the show or show business. I’ve shared the work of one of my favorite SNL writers, Jack Handey. Watching it as long as I have (and being me) I think about it a little too much when watching or discussing it. In my mind, my experience and knowledge of SNL makes me a well reasoned and expert critic of the show (lol). After many years of conducting Monday morning quarterback exercises discussing episodes I saw the night before with myself or my wife, I’ve decided to assemble fellow fans to embrace our collective fandom and to discuss/critique the show.

For this email roundtable discussion I asked my buddy, Mike Baker The Bike Maker, a rapper out of the Bay Area who’s based in NYC, and my co-worker Holly Sauer both SNL fans to join me in a email chain to discuss SNL. I’ll continue this series throughout the year with Mike, Holly, and others where we’ll review episodes of the show and share our favorite moments from past shows.

First email conversation below….

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When was the first time that you saw SNL or your first memory of the show?
Holly: My parents had a box set of VHS from most seasons from the 80s and I started watching them with my little sister in the 90’s. I remember replaying Steve Martin’s King Tut sketch over and over again with her, acting out his dance : )
Mike: I seem to recall my first memory of the show being Mr. Bill. As a kid, it looked like a kids show, but the humor definitely wasn't at a toddler my age. Early memories also remember Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy being an early entryway to the show. And I always though Steve Martin was a castmate cuz he was always on. 
Kim:
It had to be Eddie Murphy and the recurring sketches  “MR. Robinson’s neighborhood” and “Gumby”  - Eddie was on his way to becoming the superstar that he became in the late 80’s and 90’s. I also remember Dana Carvey’s “read my lips no new taxes” George Bush which cracked me up as a kid. 

Through you’re life have you consistently watched it or have you had runs during certain seasons or casts that made you want to tune in regularly (even before on-demand)? What were some of your runs where you paid attention consistently?

Holly: I always watched consistently when I was young with my parents, but in the years before on-demand TV, it would depend whether I was home on Saturday nights!
Mike: My later single digit years when Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman were leading the cast were when I start really watching it. My parents would let me stay up on Saturday nights to watch SNL with them, and it was something we enjoyed as a family. I would ebb and flow being into the show from there. I would watch Spader, Sandler, Farley and Rock's seasons, but at the time it didn't seem as tight of a ship as the season with the previous murderer's row of castmates, but in hindsight, I know now that it just evolves. Towards the end of Will Ferrell's tenure, I started watching again religiously, going into to the seasons with Tina Fey as head writer and Kristen Wiig killing every week.  
Kim: I would stay up late night in the mid/late 80’s on Saturday nights to watch WWF wrestling which was on NBC. I can’t remember but snl would either come on before or after. My wrestling fandom introduced me to SNL because sometimes wrestling wouldn’t appear that night and I’d still want to stay up to watch something. So I watched a lot of SNL even though I didn’t understand it like I do now. Later in life I would watch SNL on Comedy Central when they’d air reruns. Because I missed so much of the show by my teenage years I was able to be reintroduced to the show. Today thanks to streaming I’ve been watching the show for the last 10 years straight. 

What’s your favorite SNL cast and why? 
Mike: I'm partial to the cast I came up up on initially: Dana Carvey Nora Dunn Phil Hartman Jan Hooks Victoria Jackson Jon Lovitz Dennis Miller A. Whitney Brown and Kevin Nealon. Church Lady, hans and Frams, Caveman Lawyer, etc. All that shit still makes me laugh like it's new.
Kim: I’m a big fan of Phil Hartman (the ultimate SNL utility player) so any of the casts in the 90’s that he was a part of has a special place in my heart. 

Rank your top 5 favorite castmates from SNL?
Holly: Not in any particular order.. and this was so tough, but I’d have to say.. Martin Short, Gilda Radner, Kristin Wig, Bill Hader, Fred Armison
Mike: Can we have 25 favorites lol? In no particular order, I'm a have to go with: Bill Murray, Phil Hartman, Kristen Wiig, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell. 
Kim: In no particular order - Hartman, Farley, Ferrell, Wig, and Norm McDonald 

At any point of your fandom did you ever buy the "SNL is dead" narrative and think that it was on it’s lest leg or not relevant?  
Holly: Never! People are always saying “SNL just isn’t what it used to be”. But I believe that in 5 years they’ll look back at today’s cast and say “SNL was sooo much better even 5 years ago.” Nostalgia and featured players gaining stardom makes past seasons always seem better.
Mike: Naw, and there's only one real period where that kinda slander sticks with the show, and that's when Lorne wasn't around. But even during those years, you had the emergence of Eddie Murphy within the hallowed walls of Studio 8H, so I mean... It's really just something people like to say to sounds hip, but it just makes old folks sound like basic bitches imo.
Kim: There were some extremely bad years in the late 90’s / early 2000’s when a new cast that was super green started. I remember the early will Ferrell, Cheri oteri, Chris Kattan years being rough and wondering if the show would recover. It always does and it did as the cast got more experience under its belt 

Share your unpopular SNL take
Holly: Here’s an unpopular opinion… Musical guests are the worst part of SNL. I wish they’d replace all the music with sketches!
Mike: I don't know if this is unpopular or not, but my favorite sketches tend to be the last one right before they wrap and say goodbye. They just tend to be comedic hail marys that have no business being on air, but a lotta times they're less polished and hilarious. Also "What's Up With That?" and "The Californians" are two of the best recurring skits in the history of the show, FIGHT ME.
Kim: I think they should have let Norm MacDonald stay on the show forever and host weekend update. His “update” is the best imo. The others try to be too cute and cool. His was bizarre, weird and different. Also his jokes stand the test of time because they were evergreen and not topical (politics, cultural moment, etc). Even his work in normal sketches were very funny to me. Team Norm all the way.

How and when do you watch SNL?
Holly: I watch it hungover every Sunday on Hulu after it’s released there. Perfect cure for a hangover : )  A host makes or breaks a great episode. I’ll be waaay more excited if I’m a fan of the host. If they are an actor or comedian rather than a musical guest, it’s always better!
Mike: If it's a cultural moment I'm excited about like Chappelle hosting w/ Tribe as the musical guest, I'll tune in live. I like the highwire act nature of a live show being broadcast to millions. But a lot of times if I'm indifferent to something like the upcoming Halsey episode (she's hosting and musical guest for,) I'll catch it when I catch it.
Kim: I watch it on Hulu a day or two after it airs on Saturday night.

Madlib Recommendation - Vivian Host Recommends "The New Dance Show"

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Vivian Host aka Star Eyes is a DJ and the host of Red Bull Radio’s excellent daily show “Peak Time”. I’ve long been a fan of Vivian’s writing, interviews, and her work with the legendary crew “Trouble & Bass”. With all of that in mind I had to get Vivian to fill out a Madlib Recommendation, which she did (with amazing handwriting to boot). Vivian recommends the Detroit local broadcast show “The New Dance Show” which you can see clips of below.

A Conversation with SHAN Wallace: Photography, Baltimore, and Healing

Photography: SHAN

I met Shan in Baltimore a few years ago and was taken by her spirit, toughness, and commitment to telling Baltimore’s story through her images. Her work confronts and examines an america that not enough people talk or care about. The struggle and joy she captures in her photos is her story, my story, and many others from around the world, no matter the circumstances their born into. In this conversation we talked about Shan’s craft, her personal story, and what she’s trying to do for the people that she shoots in Baltimore and around the world.

Photography: SHAN

Jones Robinson Mix series: 3.5.19 Mix

Photo by Kim Robinson

Photo by Kim Robinson

New (all vinyl) mix that I recorded the other day in my apartment. Enjoy!

Tracklist
Spice of Life - Manhattan Transfer 
Can’t Keep Checking My Phone - Unknown Mortal Orchestra 
Easy To Fall - Bob Welch 
Situation (Dub) - Yaz 
Last Train To Trancentral (Iron Horse Mix) - The KLF 
Akshon (Yeah!) featuring Outkast - Killa Mike
Alone - Black Orange Juice
Aja - Steely Dan 
Judgement Day - Method Man 
Peter Digital Orchestra (Moodymann edit) - Jeux De Langues
See & Blind, Hear & Deaf - Dego & Kaidi 
Sweet Drums - Cerrone 
Swim - Nico Jaar 
Remind Me (Earnest Saint Laurent Moonfish Mix) - Royksopp
Temporary Secretary - Paul McCartney 
Romeo (Remix) - Basement Jaxx 
Sideways - Frank Ocean

An Afghan Life - Photography by Farshad Usyan

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Farshad Usyan is a Afghan photographer who’s personal practice focuses on the simple pleasures and normal life of Afghanistan citizens. His work displays a beauty and complexity that differs from what we typically see or hear in media reports about Afghanistan.

Usyan’s photography celebrates a mundane and standard life experience while showing that someone’s life in afghanistan could easily resemble someone’s experience in other parts of the developed world. Check him out on Instagram

Aristotle Torres Top 5 Favorite Film Soundtracks

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Writer, director, filmmaker, DJ, athlete, and all around good guy, Aristotle Torres (aka VXA) is a renaissance man from the Bronx. We met many years ago when I produced a video that VXA was featured in. We’ve kept up through social media as I’m always liking or digging things he shares online. VXA appreciates both visuals and music and how they compliment each other. With that I asked him to share some of his favorite film scores/soundtracks. Learn about his 2018 short film “Story Ave” and check out his list below.


One of my favorite quotes on filmmaking is from Martin Scorsese - "Half of cinema is sound" 

I love that quote. In five words you understand the scope of movies and how important the combination of visuals paired with audio is. Watch a film with poor sound design and/or score - it's an unpleasant experience. So, when Jones Robinson asked me to write something up on my favorite soundtracks, I jumped at the opportunity to share my appreciation for two of my biggest loves: film and music. 

First up, I'm going with a soundtrack that has not only impacted me on a sonic level but has actually been instrumental in helping me write my first feature film. I can honestly credit this body of music in helping craft my story, matching the lyric of dialogue or structure with the pacing of the score. 

"IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK" 
Dir. Barry Jenkins. 2017
Original Score by Nicholas Britell
Listen

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As I learn more and more about filmmaking, I realize how important musical themes are to establishing your characters internal conflict. This score does that to perfection. Even now, when I hear certain chord progressions from the soundtrack, I'm immediately drawn back to the visual of Fonny fighting for his place in the world and Tish doing her best to support him. Pure Magic. 

Speaking of magic, this next soundtrack overflows with it. Eclectic sounds, global appeal, romantic themes, mixed with strong musical elements. It's also the middle child of one of my favorite franchises. 

"OCEANS TWELVE"  
Dir. Steven Soderbergh. 2004
Composed by David Holmes
Listen

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I remember the day I saw this film in theatres and immediately fell in love with the score. Even the way the film starts. (Spoilers Ahead) It's Brad Pitt, a convicted con-man doing a major heist in Amsterdam. His girlfriend, Catherine Zeta Jones, a top-level detective at Interpol is investigating Brad's very crime. During a passive couple'ish conversation one night when Brad returns to their apartment, he realizes she's almost on-to-him so he immediately jumps out of the bathroom window. Freeze Frame - Queue: Ornella Vanoni's "L'Appuntamento". 

Next up is just a classic soundtrack. If you have any appreciation for black music, cinema or culture, you know exactly what I'm talking about. 

"NUTTY PROFESSOR 2: THE KLUMPS" 
Dir. Peter Segal 
Composed by David Newman 
Listen

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One word: JAMS. "Hey Papi" "Thong Song" "Missing You" "Just Friends" "Off The Wall". All joints that can still go hard today at your summer BBQ. This is quite possibly one of the best compilations of music ever assembled for a comedic picture. 

Next selection is a bit of a sleeper and a random pick, but still worth a serious listen.  

"SNATCH" 
Dir. Guy Ritchie. 2000
Composed by John Murphy
Listen

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Snatch is one of my favorite films. It's Ritchie's follow up to his debut film "Lock Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels". Close to a perfect film for me. Direction, performance, dialogue, composition, it all hits home. And the score, it's something else. One of the best moments of the film is compounded by this song by Massive Attack "Angel". Fun Fact: one of my favorite songs ever is on this too - Maceo and The Macks "Cross The Tracks". 

I saved my last selection for two reasons; Its another Barry Jenkins film and it might be the most fun you'll have listening to a soundtrack. 

PURPLE MOONLIGHT inspired by "MOONLIGHT" 
Dir. Barry Jenkins (2016)
Created by The Chopstars
Listen

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Moonlight itself is in my Top 5. EVER. And this interpretation of the official soundtrack does not disappoint. The film itself features some chopped n' screwed elements but The Chopstars take it to a whole 'nother level. Also, from a blending/mix/DJ standpoint, these guys are the real deal. 

Hope you enjoy and if you have soundtracks in your life that inspire you, please shoot em my way! 

Instagram: @AristotleBAM