Ninkasi Brewing – News Story

Ninkasi Brewing is not your typical brewery. With a strong focus on building community and promoting local musical talent with an in-house studio, Ninkasi stands out as a premier location for both beer and music. Today, ETV spoke with Ninkasi brand and experiential marketing director, James Book, and Beer is Love program manager, Emilie Hartvig, about how music and donation programs help Ninkasi Brewing stand out from the rest of the pack. Check out an EP released from the Ninkasi Studios here:

 

NINKASI STUDIOS

Ninkasi Brewing was co-founded by Jamie Floyd and Nikos Ridge in 2006. Together they used their combination of business and brewing skills to push Ninkasi to become the fastest growing craft brewery in the United States. The brewery has expanded its operations over the years while keeping a focus on helping the community, whether through its donations program or by helping local musicians produce records with an inhouse recording studio.

James Book, Ninkasi brand and experiential marketing director with two decades of experience in the music industry, operates Ninkasi Studios and provides expertise to Ninkasi partnered artists at no charge. He said the idea for Ninkasi Brewing to include a proper studio happened organically since the brewery already supported local artists through music production, recording, album pressing sponsorships and assistance in tours and bookings.

“In the early days of the company our former CEO and I intended to build a studio and then Total Domination IPA exploded in popularity in the NW,” Book said. “As marketing director at that time, I continued to sponsor bands with production time and pressing etc. and they organically would spread the word about us on tour. Bars and their fans took interested in the story and we made new account partners and new customers as result.”

The music produced at Ninkasi Studios is a mix of local, regional, national, and international talent. Book said Ninkasi has close partnerships with various artists and they call them first when looking for bands or solo artists to appear at new beer launch party tours and other events.

“We work the most closely with bands from SoCal, Washington and Oregon, naturally, but we have enjoyed working with others from further away including the amazing Gayle Skidmore who now lives in The Netherlands,” Book said.

The equipment in the studio includes the essentials of what any proper recording studio should have, from mics, a collection of restored vintage and modern instruments, and amps with a digital audio workstation running Pro Tools. Book said they work primarily “in the box.”

“Plus, it’s inside a brewery so the artists tend to appreciate that detail. No beer for the drummer until the drum tracks are laid!” Book said.

The first original musical offering to come out of Ninkasi Studios was the “Dawn of the Red Compilation EP” released in September 2015. The collection included music from Vokab Kompany + Kraddy, Sapient, Black Beast Revival, and Tyler Fortier, among others. The artists chosen for this compilation were specifically chosen based on where they were from.

 

“For the ‘Dawn of the Red Compilation,’ which was a concept record, we intentionally chose bands of completely different ‘flavor’/genres from specific target cities in line with our local strategies in those areas and asked them each to write a song called ‘Dawn of The Red,’” Book said. “They obviously asked ‘What should it be about?’ but we told them to authentically interpret it themselves and just include the phrase ‘Dawn of The Red’ in their songs’ choruses as it related to their lyrical themes. The album came out great and we pressed vinyl that the bands could sell on tour and that we could use at account promotions such as bar event giveaways and so forth.”

Ninkasi Studios has made several compilations allowing the artist to write an original song based on the name or theme of the flavor. The latest was the “Pacific Rain Compilation” base off the Pacific Rain Northwest Pale, which is crafted with lava-filtered water from the McKenzie River Watershed. The compilation features up-and-coming and established artists from the region performing Bluegrass, Roots and Americana music.

 

“Pacific Rain was a NW-centric beer release focusing on our quality of life up here,” Book said. “Given that we were also sponsoring Northwest String Summit bluegrass festival in overlap to the commemorative ‘Pacific Rain Compilation,’ we opted to make an entirely string/acoustic album in commemoration of the beer’s release where many of the artists we featured on the album also performed at the festival.”

Ninkasi Studios’ work in recording and producing indie and established artists has allowed the area of Eugene to gain more recognition as a legitimate place where talented musical artists can go to record. In turn, these bands also spread the word about Ninkasi, making the relationship beneficial for both sides.

Book said Ninkasi does not sell their artist’s music but they do use it internally for content and video soundtracks that are produced and they also offer the music to their non-profit partners to use as soundtrack for their promotional videos. Overall, Ninkasi Brewing is aware of the powerful combination that is beer and music can have and using it to help propel local artists in an intriguing way.

BEER IS LOVE

Floyd and Ridge have always made it a point to make donations part of their brewing culture. After donating beer to the community here and there, Ninkasi set up a donation programs called Beer is Love that offers beer donations to registered non-profit organizations.

“While the main focus of Beer is Love is to donate beer to non-profits, we also integrate an employee volunteer program,” said Beer is Love program manager, Emilie Hartvig. “If an employee wants to volunteer for a local organization, we work with them to make it happen. If there is a volunteer opportunity during the work week, we ensure that they are still able to get paid for their job while taking a couple hours out of their day to give back to a cause they care about.”

The program has worked with many types of non-profits. It recently narrowed its focus on the “Beer is Love DNA,” supporting non-profits doing work in five core categories: women, equality, recreation, the environment, and arts and music. Some of the non-profits they have worked with include McKenzie River Trust, HIV Alliance, SOMArts, Team River Runner, and Women Who Code. Beer is Love has found success in donating in progressive non-profits and it plans to continue doing more events in the future.

“We are a part of all kinds of events,” Hartvig said. “In the next couple weeks, we are donating to a concert in the park, an art exhibit opening, a local beer festival, and a small private celebration. The donations for these events range anywhere from four and a half barrel kegs to two cases.”

For anyone interested in getting involved with Beer is Love, visit the donations website at Ninkasi. To learn more about all the incredible beer and music related news going on at Ninkasi Studios, check them out at Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and their official site.

Rachel Louise Taylor – Solo Artist Interview

Country singer-songwriter and guitarist Rachel Louise Taylor will release her full-length album “Sunflower” on Aug. 26. Today, Rachel spoke with ETV about her musical influences, the lyrical themes behind her upcoming album, and her plans to play more shows. Check out the track “I Got Mud” from the album here:

Rachel’s discovery and interest in music begins at a young age. At around age 7, Rachel would go on trips with her dad to see her uncle, who was a lead guitarist in a band in Wichita, Kansas, perform live. She remembers thinking about how cool it was to see her uncle perform, and soon after, Rachel asked her dad to get her into guitar lessons. She learned to play guitar in 2nd grade but it wasn’t until 4th grade that she started writing her own songs and soon after she began performing live.

Rachel’s influences early on include every girl’s favorite star, Taylor Swift, as well as a little bit from what her musical family listened to.

“I grew up listening mainly to Shania Twain,” Rachel said. “I nearly had her entire album ‘Come On Over’ memorized, listening to it over and over. I did grow up on a farm, but my dad listened to more oldies music back then. I feel that between Shania and Taylor Swift, that was enough inspiration to help me develop and discover my genre.”

At age 12, Rachel played at a coffee shop in Topeka with her guitar teacher, who invited her onstage to play a song with him. Rachel said she got nervous and froze when she was supposed to sing and play guitar at the time, but she only played guitar. The brightness of the stage lights and the whole experience would normally discourage an up-and-coming singer-songwriter, but Rachel continued her path to becoming a professional musician.

“I think the coffee shop showed me the worst that can happen – not being able to sing, and be frozen,” Rachel said. “Due to that happening to me early, I was able to convince myself that I didn’t want that to happen again. I was able to experience it and grow from that. My advice is to never give up. If performing or being in front of stage is what you want to do, never let go of that hope. One obstacle can be overcome to make way for so many other opportunities, if one takes the effort to do so.”

Rachel continued to perform on stage and soon businesses and organizations took notice of what she was capable of. She performed at the Texaco Country Showdown 2012 and Topeka First Friday Artwalks and was getting know, but the biggest surprise was when Rachel’s song “I Got Mud” was played on the radio.

“The radio host had e-mailed me, so I was listening to the radio, filming my friend on skype, as she was filming me through skype,” Rachel said. “I believe the video is still on YouTube, but I actually cried happy tears. I will never forget that ‘aha’ moment.”

Rachel’s latest album “Sunflower” is the culmination of her journey so far but it’s only the beginning of a whole new chapter. The writing for the album took about a year and a half with some songs taking longer than others to write. Rachel has become confident with her writing style and took the time she needed to make sure the songs were as perfect as they could be before releasing them. The album was recorded and co-produced in Wellington, Kansas, at the Green Jean Studios.

One of the songs on the album, “In Your 85,” was featured on national and international country radio and topped the Ullplay music chart in the U.K. for three consecutive months. Check out it out here:

“My main lyrical theme is not to take life for granted,” Rachel said. “Whether or not it’s being in love, it is just as important to take in the current moment before it passes by, as well as looking for the future. I heard a quote somewhere that says, ‘If you dwell on the future, you will lose out on living in the present.’ I truly believe in this, and I intend to live that way.”

In addition to making her latest album, Rachel also keeps busy by teaching guitar lessons since 2015. She said it was a lot of fun and has allowed her to re-learn some of things she learned back when she herself was younger.

“I decided to teach guitar lessons because I wanted to give back to younger artists just starting out,” Rachel said. “I want to potentially stand as a role model for younger girls who have goals in life, to look up to and know that anything is possible, and they can do anything they set their minds to. I have also given them multiple performance opportunities joining me on stage, where they are in the spotlight and are able to showcase their new learned talents.”

With her album complete and coming out this month, Rachel looks ahead to the future. She plans to continue performing and broadening her touring destinations.

“My plan is definitely to play more shows!” Rachel said. “Although I am in college, I plan on being more busy next summer with festivals, etc. I also hope to broaden my 3-hour radius circle to be able to travel farther and open more performance opportunities not only for me, but to connect and be able to meet with my fans.”

To stay up to date with Rachel be sure to check her out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Soundcloud, iTunes, and her official site.

zenxienz – Album Review

Hong Kong-born musician, producer, and songwriter, Cameron Williamson, aka zenxienz, has released his second full-length album for 2017 titled “Brainforest” on August 4. Listen to the album on Bandcamp here:

 

The opening track “Insignia” is a full burst instrumental rife with colorful sounds that mix both electronic and tribal-sounding drums, enchanting piano and an immense amount of creativity that sets the table as to what’s to come. The Middle Eastern vibe is traditional with a strong dosage of modern influences. “Undercurrents” continues the electronic sound but with a more intense EDM and dance vibe that pulsates at every turn. It’s the perfect song for those hot nights at a glow in the dark festival where you just want to lose your mind, body, and soul in the music. The album is the audio translation of a painting full of vivid colors and strange shapes all colliding into each other to produce a unique visual image. The beats throughout the album are fast yet the melodic keyboards that accompany them are slow, majestic and space-like to the point where being surprised becomes the expectation.

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Image via zenxienz

“Pico” has vocal sound samples mix with heavy bass and disjointed drums all put into a synthesizer blender that melts away all conventions about what music is supposed to sound like. The drum style changes pace, style and tempo all in a matter of seconds making it a stand-out track that is destined to be blasted against a backdrop of strobe lights and beer cups held in the air. The sound of the album is heavily electronic, constantly changing through different methods of expression in both planning and execution. Soaring synthesizers add layers of discover that make for repeated listens, as this is not an album that could be fully understood in just one spin. The amount of rave and hardcore dance injected in each track will be enough to last for a very long time.

Some tracks like “Coiled” are a bit darker in tone with vocal tracks making small appearances to keep you on your toes of what to expect. Though most of the songs border on being dubstep, they do not stray into the territory of being loud and abrasive for the sake of it. The psychedelic drums and bass have deeper intentions with many breakdowns that give you a breather from dancing and trancing about. The breaks allow for recuperation, reflection on introspection, and allows you to take in the moment with someone new as you’ll most likely be listening to this new age, off-the-rails record at a blistering venue. The sounds, although chaotic, are therapeutic even for those swaying alone to the rhythmic madness alone in a room.

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Image via zenxienz

There’s no doubt that the sounds from zenxienz will continue to impress for many years to come. For now, let’s all enjoy what this masterful electronic musician has created: an inspiring connection with others through sounds, mental images and creativity. To stay up to date with all things zenxienz, be sure to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Bandcamp, Spotify, Soundcloud, and his official site.

Carly Taich – New Single Release

Asheville based singer-songwriter Carly Taich has released her debut single “Let it Shine” from her upcoming album “Reverie,” to be released in October. Check out the song here:

Taich’s music is considered to be fearless folk-pop, and it’s easy to see why. “Let it Shine” is an emotion-filled indie pop song filled with highs and lows in sorrow, remembrance, and appreciation of the past. Though starting off with only guitar, drums, and vocals, it’s clear to note just those three alone create an atmosphere that is haunting and ghostly yet reassuring. Carly’s voice is calm and soothing and the violin that swoops in adds a layer of comfort in the dark fog. The track is a satisfying listen for anyone into folk-pop and beyond, and it’s a single that builds anticipation for “Reverie” coming out in October, an album about moving forward while giving the past a proper burial ground.

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Photo by Shonie Joy Kuykendall

The album features Alex Travers (violin), and Midnight Snack members: Mike Johnson (bass guitar/synth/piano/acoustic guitar), Jack Victor (percussion/vocals) and Zack Kardon (electric guitar/vocals) and was recorded at Sedgwick Studios, North Carolina by Mike Johnson with additional engineering by Peter Brownlee.

To stay up to date with Carly Taich, check her out on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and Facebook.

Jay Hunna – Song Review

Jay Hunna released a new music video for his track “Good Ol’ Music” from his upcoming “Better Days” album coming out Sept. 8. Check out the track here:

Hailing from the south side of Chicago, Jay’s inspiration for his debut album “Better Days” comes from the tragic death of his cousin Sandra Bland, which sparked nationwide attention in July 2015. Sandra Bland closes out the album on the track entitled “Land of The Free.” To tell his story in the album, Jay looks to Hip-Hop artists such as Jay Z, Tupac, Notorious BIG and others and takes elements of their style. Some of those elements can be heard in “Good Ol’ Music,” which celebrates Hip-Hop and independent record shops as seen in the video. Jay visits a shop and picks up classic records from legendary rap acts all while giving a very chill vibe that celebrates recognizing where we come from and the importance of community. Although the song talks about coming from humble beginnings, the track is also proving that we don’t always have to stay there.

Lyrically, the song begins with Jay expressing his appreciation for music at a young age and how he would go up to his room and use music when he was feeling down to feel like new again. The chorus is about relaxing, smoking, drinking, and listening to good ol’ music, and the chill beats allow for the listener to do the same when they blast this track at full volume. Jay comes off as a man who wants to enjoy the good times and not worry about the problems of the world, making him the perfect candidate to deliver a fresh track that celebrates the inspirations of legends past as well.

Overall, the song is recommended for anyone who prefers the more laid-back style rappers compared to their super hard counterparts. There will no doubt heavy-bangers on the rest of the album, so we’re excited to hear what comes next from Jay and his upcoming “Better Days.”

To find out more about Jay check him out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and his official site.