Brixton Typewriter – Solo Artist Interview

Hailing from Utica, New York, Brixton Typewriter is the do-it-yourself indie musical project by Sean Sisti, who plays all the instruments himself. He recently released his “Cold & Tired EP” in March. Check out the relaxing “Red” here:

Sean’s Brixton Typewriter is a musical outlet where he plays all the instruments himself, a task that is well within the realm of his talents. Sean got into music at a young age, taking piano lessons around age 6, playing cello at age 8, and getting his first guitar at age 10, which he said was the start of his musical journey.

“Music is in my blood–both my parents are musicians,” Sean said. “Numerous other family members and relatives are musicians so it makes sense that I picked up music at a young age.”

Sean wants to one day play in a proper band, a dream that perhaps formed after he saw his dad playing in his band. As early as the 5th grade, right after getting his first guitar, Sean and some of his friends tried starting up a band. Things didn’t quite take off but ever since then, Sean has wanted to perform music in some capacity, even as a hobby. Throughout the years, he has performed in the school orchestra and did a year of Jazz band in high school.

The beginning of Brixton Typewriter began when Sean got his keytar, which was packaged with a copy of Ableton Live 8 Lite.

“I took some time to learn the software, and just started recording,” Sean said. “By the time I had a few demos, I figured I should come up with a name to call the project. The name comes from the first two things I saw at my desk, a copy of ‘Live at Brixton Academy’ by Simon Parkes and a rusted old Remington typewriter. I liked the ambiguity of it–it left me a lot of leg-room. It didn’t suggest a solo artist, a band, a duo, etc. Looking back, I should’ve named it something different but I commit to my mistakes.”

Part of recording new music required getting a hold of new instruments, something that may have turned into an addiction. Sean tries to get a hold of as many instruments as he can whether they’re new or weird, and from anywhere he can, including from out of dumpsters. He has acquired a mandolin, a keytar, an accordion, a reed organ, and the list goes on.

“As for prowess, I never really spent a lot of time with one single instrument, I liked floating from one to the other, but that could also be the reason why I’m mediocre at everything,” Sean said. “Honestly, I’d rather be mediocre at many things than be pigeon-holed into one corner of music.”

Being able to record everything turned out to be easier than he imagined, and soon after Sean started created songs that he self-described as sounding like bits and pieces of other things coming out of a broken AM radio or a cassette player from across the room.

Sean’s approach to recording is to start off in a blank state and find either a sound, sight or feeling that serves as a foundation for building the song. This allows for every song to go in a unique path as experimentation and exploration are used as tools to help develop the final product. This approach can be heard on the first Brixton Typewriter’s debut EP titled “Sunday Night in an Attic” released in February 2016. The EP is a collection of experimental and indie rock tracks that range in an array of musical styles, from the opener’s “Closer to You” whimsical nature to the Western-inspired “Gunslinger’s Funeral.” The EP truly is a glimpse into Sean’s mind as he discovers his own muse.

“There have been very few times where I go in knowing exactly what to record,” Sean said. “If you do go in to record something specifically, nine times out of ten, you’ll come out with something different.”

Once the sight, sound, or feeling, or a combination of the three has been decided upon, Sean likes to draw inspiration from his favorite artists and then try emulating different genres. One song titled “Go In, Mr. Waits” has Sean emulating Tom Waits, a personal hero of his.

“As for the sight part, sometimes I’ll close my eyes and picture something and try to recreate that scene through music,” Sean said. “‘Route 13’ from ‘Cold & Tired’ is a good example of that. I closed my eyes and pictured a dark and winding road carved through a thick forest of pines. I wanted something cold and mysterious to represent that.”

Sean continued, “Feelings are probably the ones I utilize the most. ‘I Don’t Want to Go’ from ‘Human Resources’ is about the feeling of the end of a long journey, and not being ready to say goodbye. It’s a song of bittersweet farewells. It’s a really nice song and I don’t think my first recording of it does it justice.”

Brixton Typewriter’s second release was the album “Human Resources” in May 2016. Whereas the debut EP was an experimentation in recording and writing, the follow-up was built upon that foundation and focused on featuring songs that were fun to listen to with atmosphere to along with it. Sean said he dragged his friends and family to help in some areas, such as playing solos on sax, trumpet, and guitar.

“I loved doing it and I actually have been collaborating with more people recently so I look forward to the future in that respect,” Sean said. “Hopefully someday I can get a proper live-band going on.”

Brixton Typewriter’s third and most recent release “Cold & Tired” is an EP where Sean challenged himself to playing guitar better. He wanted to jump back into recording right after finishing his first album and did so by recording around 50 demos and excerpts over the course of a year. Once the themes of the songs started to form, a story began to emerge.

“’Cold & Tired’ is, at its literal, the story of someone dissatisfied with the world in its current state (‘Red’), hung up on the past (‘Class of 1998’), and who decides to liberate themselves from the corruption of the world and their own history to achieve some level of comfort or inner peace (‘Runaway’),” Sean said. “The mystery and hardships of the world outside their hometown become apparent and they try to escape once again, this time by trying to fall asleep (‘Route 13,’ ‘Insomniac’). Through a dream sequence filled with air-raid sirens and bombs (‘Grey Escadrille’), the protagonist realizes that their hometown is a safe haven, a place of nostalgia, love and memories and they start to make their way back home (‘Dreamer’). One of the hardest parts of writing instrumentals is saying everything you need to say by saying nothing at all.”

When creating the EP, Sean furthered his recording experimentation by trying new things, such as using a VST that had a soundcard for DOS games to get unique sounds out of and using an old clip from a Ronald Regan speech. Clearly, it’s an essential journey for anyone interested in something that’s unique, new, and perhaps even a little bit quirky.

Whether it’s collecting new instruments, trying new sounds, or gathering friends to record parts, Sean enjoys every part of surrounding his musical project. He said he enjoys recording new music because he gets to see his vision realized but also for other reasons.

“I also like the little parts, nailing a difficult riff, or writing a fun bassline, accidentally playing a wrong chord that sounds good or finding the right melody that makes everything perfect,” Sean said. “But, ultimately, it’s the reception I get from people who listen. That’s why I do what I do. My end goal is to make people feel something, feel nostalgia, pain, happiness, sorrow, and so on. I’ve had someone call one of my songs (I think it was the Epilogue from ‘Human Resources’) ‘hauntingly beautiful’ and that, to me, was an amazing feeling.”

Going on age 21, Sean is looking to take Brixton Typewriter to the next level. His plans include getting a group together to have the ability of capturing moments with bandmates that could not otherwise happen when recording and writing everything solo.

“Recording is nice because you have some element of control over the whole thing, but it only really comes together at the end,” Sean said. “When you play with a group, the results are instantaneous. This, I think, makes it a lot more soulful and exciting. Recording is very much a personal and emotional effort for me, and I think it’d be interesting to get a group together and just have fun, see where that goes.”

To stay up to date with Brixton Typewriter, follow the band on Bandcamp.

Julian Camarena – Solo Artist Interview

Arizona-native pop sensation Julian Camarena has been making waves with a host of sultry singles, with his latest being “Beautiful Distraction.” Julian spoke with ETV about his initial beginnings in music and his future plans for the rest of 2017.

“Beautiful Distraction” starts off in English then features some verses in Spanish, showing off Julian’s versatility to song in both languages. The song is wrapped up in an unmistakable pop sound that Julian has mastered. His fans sure seem to appreciate every track that he puts out and it’s no surprise why.

“The song is about having a beautiful distraction in life when times are difficult or simply just when you need one,” Julian said.

The track best represents Julian’s ability to incorporate his own style with the likes of his greatest musical inspirations, which include Billy Joel, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Enrique Iglesias and Bruno Mars. Most of Julian’s songs are about love, heartbreak, having fun and living life, and his music videos show how he likes to do it all.

Julian started making music at an early age and excelled at school at a prodigy rate, finishing high school early and getting his degree earlier than most.

“I was originally born in California; however, I grew up most my life in Arizona, which is where I currently live,” Julian said. “I’ve been playing music since I was eight years old. I started playing the saxophone in my school’s Jazz Band. Later I picked up other instruments and started writing and producing songs.”

Although he just entered the musical scene, in just a few short years Julian has already amassed a large social media following with close to two and a half million followers on Twitter alone. If his songs continue to be catchy, heartwarming, and fresh as they have always been, then there’s no doubt his online presence will grow even further.

Julian has already established himself as a legitimate pop star in the making but is looking forward to climbing the ladder even higher. His plans for the rest of 2017 include making a lot more music.

“I’ve got a lot of new songs I am finishing up,” Julian said. “The ‘Beautiful Distraction’ music video will be released this year. Hopefully have some touring in the near future as well. Also one thing I did this year was make my phone number public so that all my fans can text me whenever they want, as a way to create a more personal relationship with my fan base.”

To add yourself to Julian’s phonebook, text him at 14808436360.

To stay up to date with all things Julain Camarena, be sure to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Lucy & La Mer – Band Interview

Los Angeles-based indie artist Lucy & La Mer is out with a new single “Honey, Put Your Weapons Down,” a pop ballad filled with folk inspirations. ETV spoke with Lucy LaForge about the new song’s meaning, collaborating with a Grammy-award winning producer, and working with women’s rights organizations.

Lucy is a singer and activist who has crafted a signature indie folk style through her calming voice and baritone ukulele. Growing up, she said her dad always had a guitar around and her family encouraged her to try new instruments.

“I would sit at the piano after school to decompress and escape from homework for a while,” Lucy said. “I wasn’t comfortable singing in front of people until a few years ago, though.”

Lucy’s strongest musical influences are Feist, Kate Nash, Beirut, Spice Girls, and Lesley Gore. With a varied mix of artists to incorporate elements into her own original sound, she went out and created Lucy & La Mer as a solo project. The project would grow to include a few other key members.

“I met bassist Jon Keenan at a music media event in L.A.,” Lucy said. “He said he played upright bass and I thought that was the coolest. We just recently added drummer Sheldon Reed after meeting him through a mutual friend and we’re really excited to have him on board.”

Lucy & La Mer released the “Little Spoon” EP in 2015, which went on to receive acclaim from various outlets. Transitioning into her recent single “Honey, Put Your Weapons Down,” Lucy’s trademark pop melodies, folk instrumentation, and honest lyrics make a return in full force. The single is commentary about a relationship that is stuck in a rut. Lucy revealed that most of her songwriting occurs during a period of change in her life, and this song shows how she can take an event in her life and turn it into a piece of art.

“We naturally fall into patterns and routine, which can be comfortable, but not the best for personal growth,” Lucy said. “I’d left an unhealthy relationship when I wrote this, after realizing how exhausted I was trying to maintain it. Sometimes you just have to let go and see the bigger picture.”

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Photo via Lucy & La Mer

The new single was created through experimentation and breaking down barriers to discover a new sound to best tell the narrative. The track was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Jared Lee Gosselin (India Arie, Eminem, Corinne Bailey Rae) and with his help, the song soared to the next level.

“Jared really brought the song to life,” Lucy said. “We started with just my voice and my baritone ukulele and layered live acoustic instruments from there. He created an electronic percussion section that added a very modern edge to the track.”

Lucy & La Mer recently performed in a tour that ventured through The Hit Hat, The Echo, and Art Share LA among other venues in Los Angeles and Santa Ana. She is finishing up a radio tour that included a stop at KX 93.5 and concludes with a visit at 88.5 KCSN and a free show at Westfield Topanga.

“The radio tour has been a lot of fun,” Lucy said. “We’ve been driving up and down the coast playing live on radio shows and enjoying the California beaches. I always enjoy meeting new people from different towns and hearing their stories. We’re looking forward to playing new songs on the next tour.”

Aside from creating new music, Lucy also spends her time working with the female community and women’s rights organizations including the educational group More Than No and the bi-social community amBi.

“The music industry is male-dominated and challenging, so having a supportive female community is paramount,” Lucy said. “I was relieved to find so many women’s groups in Los Angeles when I moved here. It gives me a lot more freedom in my music and creates an encouraging environment as opposed to a competitive one. Girls rock.”

ETV looks forward to what lies ahead for Lucy & La Mer and awaits for the next time she enters the venture. To stay up to date with all things Lucy & La Mer, check her out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and her official site.

Sikora – Band Interview

Electronic dance band Sikora has released its new future bass track “White Ice” this month, incorporating their trademark vocal harmonies over rhythmic beats and pulsing synth. Today, ETV spoke with members Matthew Sikora and Liz Forde about how they met, the meaning behind one of their songs, and their most favorite show they performed.

Self-described as a combination of The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Skrillex, Sikora is a hybrid of guitars, synthesizers, and both acoustic and electronic drums that will satisfy a wide variety of listeners, from those wanting to rock out to those looking to dance the night away. After releasing a series of singles and EPs, Sikora has made a name for itself as a premiere electro-dance group that can expertly craft catchy choruses and harmonic hooks.

“We first met on Cinco de Mayo a couple years ago at a show in L.A.,” recalls Matthew. “After connecting, we ended up working together on a music licensing job for a publishing company at the time. We noticed that our singing voices really blended well and complemented each other. We would always joke that where my voice ends, hers begins and vice versa.”

“What Matthew so humbly forget to mention is that we met at HIS show on Cinco de Mayo!” Liz said. “I was like ‘OMG who is that guy singing like an angry angel and shredding on the guitar?’ I asked him if he needed a backup singer, he said YES, and we’ve been making music together ever since!”

Their songwriting process heavily takes into consideration vocal harmonies and how to best combine their voices to make a unified one. They have together formed a holistic sound over the years, though their influences and journeys into music have been diverse.

“We’re weirdos,” Liz said. “We both grew up performing different styles of music – I was a choir geek and Matthew tore it up in a heavy rock band. There are elements of both styles in our songs and our sound reflects our contrasting pasts. Now we love making music that inspires people to dance and be good to one another.”

Being based in Southern California, they have been influenced by the So-Cal environment. Mathew said they like to bring the historical West Coast pop culture into their music, and it shows in the songs such as “Starstruck,” a track that peers into the Hollywood fame-seeking lifestyle. Further West Coast influences can be heard on the fun, poppy dance track “Rainbow Eyes,” which especially sounds suited for the night life in L.A. Check it out here:

“Rainbow Eyes is an uplifting song about the calm after the storm – finding that moment of bliss when everything is right in the world,” Liz said. “It is also about getting high…whatever that means to you!”

Matthew added, “It’s like the moment in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy is elevated to the world of color!”

“Rainbow Eyes” will be part of a bigger upcoming release, so for all you fans out there – be sure to pick it up when it drops. Aside from recording music for proper releases, Sikora also enjoys performing for people in a unique live experience. They have performed their signature organic and synthesized hybrid in about 40 shows so far, and more listeners continue to join the musical venture Sikora has set out on.

“We love playing famous venues in L.A. like the Satellite, but my most memorable show was DEFINITELY opening up for Bernie Sanders at his rally at the Wiltern Theatre,” Liz said. “We were (and still remain) giant supporters so it was a HUUGGE honor to play for him.”

“Yes!” Matthew said. “The Bernie Sanders rally the most memorable show we’ve played so far! Especially when he thanked us on stage for playing!”

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Photo via SIKORA

For the rest of 2017, Sikora is focusing on putting all its influences together to make new songs and finishing its next release. Both Matthew and Liz shared a bit of what they’ve learned along the way to help other electronic artists who are looking to make dance music with substance that goes beyond the beats.

“Don’t be afraid of using organic instruments or to tell your own story by using Dance music as a platform,” Matthew said. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the other Dance Music artists, like Flume is: it doesn’t need to be bouncy or 4 on the floor to be Dance Music.”

“Write about what you know,” Liz said. “Don’t be afraid of sounding stupid or taking a risk with melodies and lyrics. You can’t please everyone, so do something you feel good about sharing with the world!”

ETV thanks Sikora for participating in today’s interview. To stay up to date with all things Sikora, check them out on Facebook, Reverbnation, Soundcloud, YouTubeInstagram, iTunes, Twitter, and their official site.

TeamMate – Band Interview

Los Angeles-native indie-pop duo TeamMate has recently released its self-titled debut album. TeamMate spoke with ETV about their musical inspirations, the making of their new album, and advice for other two-member groups out there. Check out the anthemic single “Damage” here:

The new synth-pop album showcases the overall sound of Scott Simons (keyboards, vocals) and Dani Buncher (drums, vocals) working together in a musical partnership long in the making. The album is filled with larger than life choruses and pure pop sensibilities emerging from the member’s varied musical influences they’ve had growing up. Dani, who grew up listening to Top 40 radio and MTV, cited early musical influences that included George Michael, Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Tears For Fears, Neneh Cherry, and Cathy Dennis.

“When my brother and I were little, and were in the car with my mom, we always listed to the local oldies station,” Dani said. “The Supremes, The Shirelles, and The Temptations were in heavy rotation and have played just as big of a role in my musical taste.”

Scott grew up with music handed down from his parents, such as The Beatles, Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel and musical theatre soundtracks.

“I went through a late 80s rap phase where I was obsessed with Young MC,” Scott said. “When I got into college, the first Ben Folds 5 album changed my life. I also got heavily into some great songwriters like Elvis Costello and Aimee Mann and rediscovered a lot of music from my childhood like The Cars, The Police, Blondie, and early U2.”

With an assortment of musical knowledge to take inspiration from, Scott and Dani keep in mind how the instruments will shape the overall sound they make when they write songs. The opening track “Nothing’s Ever Over” was important in helping them find this album’s direction and tone, allowing them to realize that even though they operate as a duo, there is only one “voice” as TeamMate.

“I think we were trying to grow our sound from where it was,” Scott said. “We started out writing a little more one sided from my perspective on our relationship but ‘Nothing’s Ever Over’ was very much about and from both of us. Once we committed to singing that song in unison together, rather than have a lead singer, that helped us find a sound we liked for the rest of the record. Also, the ‘size’ of the synth sounds and drums really helped us make a bit of a template moving forward.”

The grand-pop synth sound can definitely be found in the lead single “Damage.” Scott said the song was written about the time they realized if they could put past relationship issues behind them and focus on being friends and bandmates, they would be able to move onto something special. One of special things coming from their musical relation was the completion of the LP and they are both proud of being able to share it to the world.

“Releasing music is the hardest and scariest part because you open yourself up to feedback and criticism,” Scott said. “But we feel so confident that we made an album we’re proud of full of songs we love and that alone is a success to me.”

“I agree with Scott,” Dani said. “Finishing an album that you are 100 percent proud of and excited about can sometimes be the hardest part. Sometimes when we play the new songs live, it takes me right back to the studio when we were first working out our ideas together. It’s a great feeling to be on stage, playing those songs, and recognizing the progress process of songwriting and recording.”

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“TeamMate” album cover art

Now with their first studio album complete, TeamMate is looking to hopefully go out on tour and do some shows, an experience they find fun. The journey they have been through – as a romantic relationship leading into a musical one – may have been mostly personal, but the journey they went through could help others out there. They offered advice for up-and-coming two-member bands for getting along.

“Treat it like any other relationship,” Dani said. “Communicate, respect each other, and learn how to predict each other’s mood swings.”

“Or just date for ten years and break up,” Scott said. “If you can survive that then you’re ready for the music industry.”

To stay up to date with all things TeamMate, check them on TwitteriTunesFacebook, YouTube, Instagram, Soundcloud, and their official site.