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Filtering by Tag: KBR

Interview with Arizona Hip Hop Artist Pariah Pete on His New Album "Mercury"

Kassandra Ramirez


Considering Phoenix, AZ is one of the fastest growing cities in America, the world can expect exceptional artists to rise out of the heat. Upon first listening to Pariah Pete’s track “Take Ur Time,” it was obvious to me that Pariah Pete would be one of the biggest artists leading the music scene in Phoenix. Formerly a member of the music collective 20 POUNDS, Pariah Pete has been working on solo music since the group’s split, recently releasing his debut album “Mercury.”

At just 7 tracks and a short 18 minutes in length, “Mercury” has listeners in a trance, yearning for more immediately after the first listen. The entire album speaks loudly with its flowing lyrics, lots of lo-fi type beats, and major mental vibes. After interviewing the artist on his music experience and process creating the album, it is apparent to see why the local AZ music scene is feeling something special when they listen to “Mercury,” an album by Pariah Pete.

Pariah Pete - Mercury Album Cover - Design by Phresh Alias

Pariah Pete - Mercury Album Cover - Design by Phresh Alias

When did you first begin creating music?

I have been in love with music and have had the desire to create ever since I could first remember. I am the youngest of five and when I was 4, all of my older siblings were already teenagers and playing early 2000s rap and R&B. Music was my first passion and something I attached a lot of my identity to growing up. I would live vicariously through artists I was listening to and envisioned myself rapping to an audience before I ever wrote my first song. This was around fourth grade.

When did you decide you would be a professional musician?

I started making music professionally in 2016 as far as posting music, performing, and marketing myself. I had already been recording for a little while but only for myself and trusted friends due to my lack of confidence. In 2017 & 2018, I made huge improvements and leaps with my music — selling out shows and getting massive support for doing what I love most. However, I made mistakes and learned a lot. However, it wasn’t until 2019 when my former group broke up that I really started doing it professionally, doing shit I should have been doing the entire time — organizing my own shows, releasing music on all major platforms, business cards, stickers, merchandise. I was just up all night creating my website to launch for out of state merchandise purchases. I have been taking everything a day at a time but recently have made enormous strides in the music & business world, both important parts of the industry.

How would you describe your sound in just a few words?

REAL RAW ENERGY. My goal with this music shit is to make great music with substance. With my heart and my soul, it will naturally connect to people who have felt what I have felt. My stories will resonate most with them. But the great music is a huge factor. I want to create shit that just sounds and feels good. I want to create music that has room for a little bit of everybody to enjoy because that is my favorite music.

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

Can you tell us about your debut album “Mercury?”

My new debut album is titled “Mercury” after my 1987 mercury marquee, the first car I ever bought. I spent over a year saving for it and paying it off. It was in incredible condition and I cherished it. The whole car was a vibe and driving it felt like a spaceship. The idea to dedicate a project of mine to it hatched while I still owned the car; however. it was mostly the following events that give it more life.

Two years ago, I was hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light and totaled my mercury. This event was a catalyst for a massive amount of change I was not ready for. Shortly after I graduated high school, I had no other choice but to sleep on friends couches/floors. Newly single after a two year relationship and without family in Arizona, I ended up in a trap house for a couple months and even back at my ex's parents house. I lived an entire year of day-to-day living and instability. Being a homebody and introvert at my core, not having my own room or home truly fucked with me. My world had taken a full 180 turn around in the matter of 12 months, and the cherry to top it all was my rap group breaking up and doing so in an ugly fashion. I hit my lowest low those following weeks. However, I learned how to turn it all into fuel. I took those negatives and made something positive, this album "Mercury". At a short & sweet 7 tracks and 18 minutes, “Mercury” is available on all streaming platforms.

Do you ever get compared to other artists? If so, why?

I was actually just speaking about this today with my producer. My entire career, I have never been compared to anyone sonically. However, with “Mercury,” I have had about 15-20 ppl tell me that I reminded them of a young Mac Miller, which is a huge compliment to me and an honor. I strive for his style of evolution to occur in my career. His most recent album is my favorite. But we'll see if that comparison continues over time, I been doing music for 3 years and only started hearing that this week with the album release.

What "effects" have people told you they have had listening to your track "New Day?"

Multiple people have told me they've cried to it or got chill. People have also said it helped during a dark time and gave them hope. That was my intention. It is the realest shit I’ve ever wrote but I didn’t want the message to be as blunt as the song, "its a new day, I got hope now" I needed to write that for myself. So when I hear about its effect on people, it humbles me. Just glad I can create something thats helping someone somewhere right now.

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

Do you feel like being white influences how the industry judges you as a rapper?

I believe It definitely helps more than it hurts me. I’d be ignorant to not realize and speak on white privilege, even in the rap game. There are definitely judgements, as expected. Just based off my looks, people don’t expect me to be as good as I am, but maybe that’s what makes them like me even more.

I do always get looked at funny when I get asked what I do and I say rap. I love this shit and do it for the love of it, nothing else. I am unapologetically myself and in due time people will know who I am and accept it. None of that shit matters to me though; I knew I was a white boy getting into this field, so because of that I try to uphold the craft and culture in the most respectful manner possible. I listen and learn, rather than speak on shit I don’t know. Great question, I’ve never been asked that.

Who produced "Reminisce?" Can you tell us more about the song and its message?

Sk8zen produced the beat for this track. “Reminisce” has different ideas and experiences. Between the first and second verse, the message differs, but it follows the same concept throughout. The song is about being paralyzed in a time loop, worrying about yesterday, tomorrow, and everything in between — being stuck in that mindset and letting it eat away at you. At the time of writing it had been so long since my last project drop that I was putting immense pressure on myself for this drop. "I been worried sick since the last one/getting high to look at what my past done/I don’t like to reminisce". Certain shit isn’t pleasant to revisit. I go into that in detail about this short lived love affair I had and my reaction to it throughout the second verse. Its one of my favorite pieces ever written based off how fluid and real it was. The first verse is more so about my present day to day struggles, while touching on experiences that had gotten me to this point — feeling like I’m not built for this world.

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

For "Eyes Wide Shut, what was it like creating such an emotional song? How was the process of collaborating with Josh Cabales?

This song undoubtedly has the most depth and history, more than any other song on Mercury. “Eyes Wide Shut” is truly the most personal thing I’ve ever written. You can hear a piece of my pain, struggle, and sorrow in every single lyric.

I wrote this song at the darkest time in my life. I was about 5 months into being on my own without family in AZ. I initially slept on my producers couch for a few months, but then got the opportunity to stay at my friends apartment because of open rooms. Keep in mind, I never saw the place till I moved in. It was dirty, dog shit everywhere, smelled horrible, and the kitchen had a pan from some sort of dish that looked like it had been there for weeks. Everyone who came over always told me my room was the cleanest, when in reality I did the bare minimum. I’m not even a clean freak, I just kept it tidy.

Shortly after I moved in, we got roommates that changed the environment. It went from a dirty apartment filled with dog shit, to a dirty apartment filled with dog shit and guns. There were drugs being sold and people coming in and out constantly. In addition, I started letting my work crush stay with me at the time because she had no where else to go. She added to the bullshit that occurred during this time. It was the most unhealthy and low vibrational place I have ever been in. There were times I was told to spend the night elsewhere because of threats on our place. There were nights when gun shots went off in the apartment, girls came in and out constantly, and blunts were smoked until 5am everyday.

To make a long story short, this was not home for me, I spent most of my time away when I could. We ended up getting raided and evicted. One of my drug dealing roommates even stole my PS4. A few days later I was sleeping on my homies floor at his mom’s with no long term plan, I had a dream I got shot, and this was all the week my old group "20POUNDS" had a sold out show at Crescent Ballroom.

I wrote this song to cope. I reached out to Josh because I knew his soulful, passion filled vocals would elevate the depth of the song, which he did perfectly.

Pariah Pete - Photos by Rozotadi

How are you unique from other artists?

My authenticity, humility, and style. I don’t fake the funk or try to be someone I am not. I don’t try to be flashy or cool. I am me. If people love it, awesome, if not, awesome. I do this for me and my supporters. In due time, I will elevate to a global scale

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Be yourself 120% of the time. No one can be a better you than you. Don’t try to do anything that’s not you. Don’t get me wrong, try to do new stuff and expand your sound, but don’t do anything that’s not authentic. Just do it for the love of the art at the end of everyday and it will take you places.

Pariah Pete - “Young” (Official Music Video)


Music is a Form of Protest: Top 10 Political Songs + Spotify Playlist

Kassandra Ramirez


In my opinion, the most beautiful quality of art is how it often encourages compassion in other human beings. Music is a particularly power medium, often changing opinions and making others feel intense emotion. For this reason, it is an excellent tool for change. In celebration of the United States’ Independence Day today, I have decided to share my new playlist, “Music is a Form of Protest.”

Back to Amerikkka - DZE like RZA - Cover Art

Back to Amerikkka - DZE like RZA - Cover Art

“Music is a Form of Protest” features 34 tracks in all genres, including artists like Nina Simone, System of a Down, Jalopy Bungus, and Childish Gambino. With a playtime of over 2 hours, this is the perfect playlist for a family get together or kickback.

More than anything, this playlist is a reminder of the great power artists have creating their perspective for others to view. Art evokes questions, and questions are needed for progress. Americans, Happy Independence Day. I hope you all use your talent to help society walk closer to love and equality.

1. Back to Amerikkka by DZE like RZA

“Back to Amerikkka” is one of my favorite tracks on this playlist. Everything from the instrumental to the cover art of this song is absolutely beautiful and flows naturally. This track is a unique and friendly reminder that we are living in “Amerikkka".” DZE like RZA’s vocals complement every element, and at just 2:20, it is easy to keep clicking replay.

2. Revolution by the Beatles

“Revolution” by The Beatles is pretty much the definition of a protest song. The upbeat sound and convincing lyrics influenced politics in the late 1960s and 1970s from the U.K. to the U.SA.. As John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote “we all want to change the world,” and maybe this is the reason why some artists write music.

3. Hypnotize by System of a Down

“Hypnotize” by System of a Down is one of the most dynamic sounding songs on this playlist, making it very strong. Some of the lyrics read “Propaganda leaves us blinded,” and propaganda is something we are all exposed to thousands of time a day The song discusses how our government controls and discourages its people from standing up for our rights.


4. Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone

“Mississippi Goddam” by Nina Simone is perhaps one of the most popular political songs known to the United States, as it was written during an era more oppressed than today. Nina Simone wrote this song in 1964 in response to the murder of Medger Evers, a civil rights leader in Mississippi at the time. The lyrics are very direct included lines like “Picket lines/ School boy cots/They try to say it's a communist plot/All I want is equality” and most importantly “Mississippi goddam, that’s it.”


5. Not My President by CNG

By reading the title alone, it is easy to see that “Not My President” by CNG is a political statement toward the president. The artist CNG wrote this track in 2017, just after Donald Trump became president in the United States of America. He wrote it because he was distraught by the new president and his racism towards certain minority groups.


6. Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2

Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 is a classic political song that has been heard by most of us at least a dozen times. Despite its strong message, the band used to introduce “Sunday Bloody Sunday” at concerts by saying “This is not a rebel song.” From what he has been asked about the song, Bono believes the song is about the people who felt pain during Sunday Blood Sunday, not the political cause.


7. Ballad of a Politician by Regina Spektor

“Ballad of a Politician” by Regina Spektor is very distinct compared to any other political song. Regina Spektor’s voice is silky smooth, making it much easier to swallow the pill she is giving us in this track. “A man inside a room is shaking hands with other men/This is how it happens/Our world under command” reminds us simply of how our world goes round. The majority of leaders in the world are men, yet women make up about half of the world population.


8. Crawl by Kings of Leon

Because of lead singer Caleb Followill’s edgy and impressive voice, it is very difficult not to love “Crawl” by Kings of Leon. This track tells America we are in a state of digression and we need to crawl before we can walk again. Hopefully this is true and our country will face peace soon.


9. Words I Never Said by Lupe Fiasco ft. Skylar Grey

“Words I Never Said” by Lupe Fiasco covers a few controversial questions being discussed in the United States. The track questions the cause of 9/11 as well as major budget cuts in education in America. With a strong and direct message, Lupe Fiasco’s collaboration with talented vocalist Skylar Grey was really the icing on the cake for this song.


10. Formation by Beyoncé

After listening to this track and watching the video it is easy to see why “Formation” has 176 million views on Youtube. In this track, Beyoncé embraces her African American heritage and flexes on all the money she has made in America despite our country’s racist past. As soon as I heard this song and watched this video, I applauded Beyoncé for her statement. There is nothing more beautiful than a powerful black woman in America.


Although discussion of political beliefs often cause commotion between us all, it is important to look at our country as something more than just the “U.S.A.” We are millions of living people. Luckily, we have music to connect us all and songs like these show us we all care. I hope you all enjoyed this playlist. Happy Fourth of July!

Behind the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble: Interview with Experimental Musician Sam Ansel

Kassandra Ramirez


Considering my love for experimental art, I am constantly interested in rising artists who break artistic boundaries and create something new and unlike anything else. Thanks to Contagion Media, I was fortunate enough to come across the experimental guitarist, “The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble.”

Sam Ansel, better known as “the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble” is a beautiful example of an artist trying something different, resulting in a beautiful and eclectic sound. By simply listening to The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble’s sounds, my auditory senses heightened and became more attentive because so much is going on in each track. My personal favorite track by the artist is “Sunflower Spin.”

Describing his sound as a “10+ guitar with drum and vocal experimental ensemble where every guitar plays a different line,” I highly recommend music lovers searching for a new and distinct sound to take a listen. From the first listen, I was eager to learn more information about Sam Ansel and the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble. Luckily, I was able land an interview with the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble in an attempt to share immense local AZ talent with the art community.

Hospital by The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble

When did you first begin creating music?

I got my first guitar, an acoustic, during my freshman year of high school and began teaching myself how to play. Shortly after, I got a left handed electric guitar and restrung it so that I could play it right handed. Things really changed when I got a loop pedal. I started experimenting with harmonies and layers and my experiments grew into a side project which eventually became my main project. I even ended up writing a whole symphony on guitar and transposing the parts for different instruments thinking that a symphony was the inevitable next step in my harmony experimentation.

I realized afterwards that I really just enjoyed guitar more than I enjoyed the symphony instruments and figured why not essentially write a symphony, but with all guitars instead. At this moment, the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble began.

How would you describe your sound in just a few words? When did you discover your sound? 

Experimental if anything, but I'm really at a loss for anything more specific. The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble more or less found a ground in terms of sound after I finished my symphony. I decided that I really just liked guitars best, and that I would continue my experimentation with harmony and try to play a sort of symphony but with guitars.

The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble - Wonder Cabin album cover

The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble - Wonder Cabin album cover

Can you tell us about your new album?

I just released a new album called Wonder Cabin. It picks up and moves further along in the same vein as where my previous albums left off in terms of experimentation with harmony and song structure while still attempting to maintain some popesque-enjoyability.

A big theme of the album is that it's my biggest experimentation with vocals to date. For the longest while I'd felt that vocals are too often the focus of so many songs; seeming to be drastically louder than any other sound in songs, and being placed on top of the actual music overpowering it in every way, making the actual music of songs the least important part. I don't mean to say it should or shouldn't be any way, I just couldn't understand why so few songs were doing it any differently, and so for a long while I tried to leave out vocals and emphasize the music.

A big theme in Wonder Cabin is my return to vocals in my music while trying to not have them overpower the music and vice versa. To have vocals join as part of the music of the song as a whole instead of just being on top of the music. Other than the vocal theme, each song really has it's own separate themes and efforts.

Sunflower Spin by the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble

What is your favorite part about creating music?

I love the activity! It feels challenging, and rewarding, and fulfilling, and meaningful and you end up with these amazing moments where things all come together that makes me feel like nothing else in the world. Those moments are always fleeting and things and perspectives can change very quickly in very polarizing ways, but those moments still really happened and got to be experienced.

Why the name "the sea music guitar ensemble?"

The name slightly misleadingly actually has nothing to do with bodies of water, rather "SEA" are my initials. Since I was writing and playing and recording all the parts, and the music didn't quite fit with any of the other bands that I played in, I begrudgingly admitted to myself that if I was to put my name on anything, it should be this project. Essentially, the name is really Sam Emery Ansel Music. "Guitar Ensemble" is because although I'm still not exactly sure what genre it is, I do know that all the music is made with and based in an ensemble of guitars. So if anything, the name is really my effort to exactly describe what the project is doing more so than being its title. Thus, The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble.

Who/What are some of your biggest inspiration when creating?

My 3 biggest inspirations are:

1. The last note I played. My music is all about harmony and nothing inspires me more than a note for me to create a harmony with.
2. My life. My music moves and flows more like how a day and life move and flow as opposed to a stereotypical song structure with verses and choruses. It begins at one point, like waking up, and builds and decays holding on to some parts and leaving others behind, like events throughout the day, until it eventually reaches some sort of end, like falling asleep.
3. Other music. I love Andrew Bird, Sufjan Stevens, Rilo Kiley, Dear and the Headlights, Giraffes? Giraffes!, Explosions in the Sky, The Appleseed Cast and many more.

What is your dream collaboration?

My dream collaboration would be with a couple of the people that I played with in and out of various bands growing up. I won't name them directly, but they are all really great musicians and people. We've sort of grown apart from each other in one way or another, just on account of how life and things work out. We definitely knew how to grind each others' gears and certainly did so, but we made some amazing music and had some amazing times together. There's nobody else I'd rather play with.

Photo of Sam Ansel

Photo of Sam Ansel

What are common messages that reoccur in your music?

 Lyrically, Absurdism is often referenced. Musically, every song comes with the message that there are no real rules to music, that music is organized sound and you can organize it however you like. Ideas of good sounds shift throughout cultures and more so throughout individuals.

How are you unique from other artists?

There is nothing else in the world now, nor ever before, like the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble. There are no bands with 10+ guitarists where every guitar is playing a different line. The Sea Music Guitar Ensemble's music starts at one point and ends somewhere, but promises nothing in between aside for one note flowing into the next with all the notes coming together to create each next section as much as being the preceding section as well. It is first and foremost an experimentation with what music is, over what songwriting is supposed to be, and pushes and pushes to see how far guitars can take it. And lastly, it's all just one person writing, performing, and recording it all.

Green Chairs of the Tea Factory Lobby by the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble

Do you ever get compared to other artists? If so, why?

No, as far as I've searched and heard, there is nothing and nobody else out there that is either trying to do what I'm trying to do with the Sea Music Guitar Ensemble nor anything else that sounds like it. And believe me, I'd love the company.

Do you have any advice to give aspiring artists?

My advice, if any, is that there are no rules. Just keep going and creating. You will get better at the things you keep practicing and trying to improve in, no matter what they are

Hidden Gem: Interview with AZ Hip Hop Artist Miles Green

Kassandra Ramirez


The most beautiful thing about being in 2019 is the ability for artists to create high quality content from pretty much anywhere. Throughout history, creating content has always been exclusive to the privileged and high class because of the necessary funds needed, but now we see people from all areas and all incomes creating beautiful art because the accessibility to creating has grown tenfold.

While many have the ability to create, it is always refreshing to encounter artists who create memorable content unique from what they observe from the people around them. Miles Green, born Miles Serb, was born in Detroit, now residing in Tempe Az. He is undoubtedly a hidden gem in the local Arizona music scene. Upon immediately listening to his tracks, I immediately felt the need to share the resonating sound of Miles Green with music fanatics.

Miles Green - Photo by Heather

Miles Green - Photo by Heather

This interview has been edited for clarity

When did you first decide you would like to pursue music professionally?

I first began producing music in early 2014, but the summer of 2017 exploded my experience with beat making. During this time I crafted over 100 songs, and saw progress. During this summer, I saw some of my favorite artists live. This humanized the idols I looked up to. From that point i've been pursuing music professionally working on elements of my craft beyond my production in hopes to create a unique but relevant sound. I began the transition into a full fledged artist in late 2017 to early 2018 by fully producing, writing, and conceptualizing my music.

“Elevators” by Miles Green ft. Breana Marin

How would you describe your sound?

I would say my sound is more modern hip-hop based upon my production techniques. Though I believe I thrive with more grime and upbeat based songs. I would say I really discovered my sound in the summer of 2017 when working on songs of all different moods. That time allowed me to reflect on my strengths and weaknesses. I feel as though it has become easier to identify those aspects of my creativity and become familiar with those areas. I am always striving to perfect my sound.

Can you tell us more about “Kick It,” your newest track?

By creating “Kick It,” I experimented with different production techniques and arrangements that I have heard before that make a song more appealing. The song had three different concepts and two different revisions before landing on the final form you can hear on all platforms. The song has more structure and focus on aligning all aspects of the song in comparison to my past releases. I also made certain sounds for the song by hand that I felt at the time would be a risk, but most people ended up enjoying and commenting on how they were some of their favorite sounds in the whole song. The production also goes into the vocal layout as I rewrote the song three times until I made my final version which does effect the beat in some areas.

“Kick It” by Miles Green

What is your favorite part of being a musician? Why do you gravitate toward music as a medium?

 My favorite part of being a musician is that I get to create and experiment with something that honestly draws me in naturally. Music, unlike many past interests in my life, makes me strive to be better. I've found myself sitting at my desk working for hours on music with no problem. I once worked on a song from 8AM to 9PM with only eating one banana and having one bathroom break simply because I felt like working on my craft. Not many other interests have given me that same drive. It also serves as a means of expression to get emotions from my mind on something that can be felt and heard at any given moment making it therapeutic for me.

Who/What are some of your biggest inspiration when creating?

My biggest inspirations when producing music would be Tyler The Creator and Pharrel Williams. Both artists make music freely with no worry of judgment or lack of success. They go in their studios with confidence, a work ethic, and create great original music.

My greatest inspirations when writing music would be Kendrick Lamar and MF DOOM. Both of them have lyricism that is unrivaled. MF DOOM can have such strong wordplay that after reading his lyrics I want to pass out from pure amazement. Kendrick Lamar's control of his voice, flow, lyricism, and delivery is, in my opinion, leading the modern hip-hop scene as it is unique and obviously fine-crafted. All the mentioned individuals have worked on their craft and become widely successful in all areas of hip-hop, and they really inspire me.

“Stripes” by Miles Green - Cover Art

“Stripes” by Miles Green - Cover Art

Do you use the same method to create your songs, or does it vary depending on the song?

It varies in songs. I always begin with an idea or mood I want for a song then begin structuring my melodies and etc. Though sometimes I will start with different aspects such as drums, a sample, or concept. Though I know the moment I want to make a beat into a full fledged song. I don't release everything I make, but I know what I want to release.

Out of all your songs, is there a track that speaks out to you most? If so, which one and why? Of the songs I have released, I would say “Stripes” speaks to me most at the moment. Stripes focuses on embracing what makes you different, and delves into understanding the importance of being different. The beat in “Stripes” is one of my favorite as it has a grimy bass that grinds throughout the track accompanied with drums that knock the whole track.

“Stripes” by Miles Green

What are common messages that reoccur in your music?

 Common themes that appear in my music are struggles with poverty, urban areas such as cities or neighborhoods, African American culture/history, and rebellion against a systematic injustice.

“Stripes” deals with being different against social norms. “Kick It” deals with the urge to be free and what that costs at some points. “F.U.T.W.” deals with personal moments in my life that I felt less than confident, and how I persevere as a dominant force. “Elevators” deals with being bigger than the issues in your every day life, as we all can elevate above them. My songs all follow certain core themes, but are their own independent rabbit holes of ideas and concepts.

How are you unique from other artists?

Everything I make comes from my own mind,experiences, and understanding of the world around me. Many people in the world may agree, disagree, or think differently than I, but I am the only Miles Green in the world that is like me. I put my experiences and understanding on paper to show that yes these topics and issues may affect me, but they affect many individuals everyday. I am also unique from other artists as I have spent years crafting my sound so I know how exactly I want my whole song planned out before I enter into a studio or recording space. I am also not afraid to try new concepts that break away from mainstream appeal and experiment with my sound both sonically and lyrically.

Do you have any advice to give aspiring artists?

 To anyone that appreciates the art of hip-hop/music producing/ and being an artist, I say that the road is long and treacherous. There have been many days where I wanted to quit and felt less than myself, but I kept pushing through. Tenacity and belief are strong attributes that can take you anywhere in life. My piece of advice for an aspiring artist is to never give up and know that every moment in the beginning is another moment to be reflected on in the future. Also strive to be as genuine and translucent as possible. To be an artist in any art form, a person has to be able to identify many crucial things about themselves sometimes presenting the biggest hurdle for many beginners.

High School Was Awhile Ago - A Nostalgic Playlist by KBR

Kassandra Ramirez


Photo of Me, Marquez, and Gabby in High School

Photo of Me, Marquez, and Gabby in High School

High School was awhile ago now. I graduated college less than six months ago, and the time that has passed is starting to sink in. Times have changed and it is time for me to bloom as an individual and artist.

Because of a horrible experience with my apartment complex in Flagstaff that made me sick for months, I had to move back down to the valley abruptly. However, I feel as if all of this may be happening for a reason. In ways, it feels like my dream is manifesting itself by forcing me to move down to a more populated area.

Being back here has me reminiscing of my adolescence, before I left to Flagstaff. When thinking back, I constantly hear the music I listened to in high school. Because of the nostalgic vibes I have been feeling, I created a playlist and wanted to share because it takes me to a beautiful time in my life before I had to face the responsibilities of adulthood. This playlist is full of some of my favorite indie, alternative, and pop-rock tracks, and I hope you all enjoy; I know I do.

Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” Album Cover

Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” Album Cover

Walk the Moon’s Self Titled Album Cover

Walk the Moon’s Self Titled Album Cover

Toward the end of my high school career, I was inspired by artist Lorde for the first time, and constantly listening to Hozier’s album in my last semester of high school. At one point, I remember listening to Walk the Moon’s track “Anna Sun” and running through the sprinklers with my friends thinking it was the last time I was going to be a kid. While it makes me a little sad knowing so much time has passed, I am forever grateful that the music I bumped at that age will always bring be back to this carefree moment in time.

Psilosapiens Performing at the 3rd Annual 4/20 Bash in Flagstaff, AZ

Kassandra Ramirez


After this interview, I am convinced that the number of rising artists with the intention of love and peace is growing in Arizona. Art allows the self to express and when there are people expressing the emotions of what it means to be human and being grateful for the experience, it is obvious art can be a beautiful way to negate the negativity. When first listening to Psilosapiens, my first impression showed me an eclectic group would evoke love in their music, and would like to shed light on good music. If you feel like it could be your vibe, I would suggest checking out a show and following them on all platforms as soon as possible.

When scrolling past one of their recent posts on Instagram, I took a listen to their newest single at the time, “We Are,” and after just a moment of listening to the track, I was impressed. After listening to “We Are” just once, the melody of the track got stuck in my head, and I quickly became a fan of the trio.

The Psilosapiens’ sound is a beautiful blend of a variety of genres. “The Psilosapiens fuse hip hop, rap, loopers, synthesizers, didgeridoos, flutes, guitars, violins” and their positive and poetic lyrics to create a one-of-a-kind vibrating sound. Luckily, I was successful at landing an interview with Stefan, Cooper, and Summer, where I learned more about the band’s story of origin and inspiration. If you’re in Northern Arizona and itching for an unheard sound, watch and listen to The Psilosapiens perform this Saturday on April 20th at Cornish Pasty’s 3rd Annual 4/20 Bash. You will not be disappointed!

Psilosapiens - Photo by  KBR

Psilosapiens - Photo by KBR

Interview has been edited for clarity

How did The Psilosapiens come together?

We met spent 6 months traveling back to Flagstaff, AZ from the Eclipse festival in Oregon. We spent most of our time living out of Stefan’s van. “It went surprisingly well. The van’s name is Whitney the White Whale. We all slept in separate places and just traveled in my van. All of our stuff was in my van; it was pretty crazy (Stefan)." “Stuff got lost in crevices we didn't even know existed and they were lost forever (Summer).”

After the Eclipse festival, we traveled to hot springs and waterfalls. “During this, we even ended up having to escape a forest fire that was less than a mile away. There was 200 people there, ages 2-80. We go off to set up a slack-line over the water and we suddenly hear Cooper say “holy fuck” and there’s smoke in the air that looks less than a mile away. During this panicking moment, a helicopter then drops a crossed out “EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY”replaced by a new message saying “DANGEROUS, STAY PUT (Stefan).”

“We Are” by Psilosapiens

While you were escaping the forest fire, did you think you might die?

“Oh yeah, in one moment, I saw a wall of flames about two football fields away from me and the animal in me told me ‘yep, I am going to die (Summer)’”.

Everyone in the whole group of people ended up okay which is crazy. We ended up hiking nearly 13 miles throughout the night, which was so cool. We got to see a beautiful waterfall late at night. It was glowing. We were probably one of the only few people who got to see that.

It’s pretty cool because before this all happened, Cooper was playing a new song, “Here We Go” as we were hiking in one day, and we were all just jamming out. I feel like it helped everyone stay calm during the panic.

Psilosapiens - Photo by  KBR

Psilosapiens - Photo by KBR

What is your favorite artistic medium?

Cooper: Before The Psilosapiens, I was a painter. I also knew the didgeridoo and started playing guitar. I started to create music as a form of healing. I picked up a loop pedal, then got a bigger pedal. I also play violin, Native American flute, and beatbox.

Summer: Initially, my weapon of choice was dance. I have been dancing for over 15 years. I started painting in college. Now I sing, and even rap. My artistic medium definitely moved from movement to auditory art. Singing is definitely my favorite right now.

Stefan: Writing has always been a huge passion of mine. I also enjoy rapping, music, and dancing.

Why the name “The Psilosapiens?”

Psilosapiens stands for “psilocybin homosapiens.”

Are The Psilosapiens working on an album?

We have enough songs for an album but we don’t have enough recorded songs for an album. We have two singles out right now, “We Are” and “Peace, Love, & Unit,” and are currently working on songs. Our newest song “Hare Krishna” will be released soon on all platforms.

Psilosapiens (Stefan Dragic, Cooper Montgomery, and Summer Barbone) - Photo by  KBR

Psilosapiens (Stefan Dragic, Cooper Montgomery, and Summer Barbone) - Photo by KBR

What can fans expect from you in 2019?

Our fans expect videos, a website, more shows, and more music.

You can also expect more fundraisers. We’ve raised $2500 so far in Flagstaff for non-profit organizations. The first one was for DACA and the second was for Taala Hooghan.

Any words for people listening to your music?

Our intention is to inspire peace, love, and unity through diversity.

Psilosapiens Performing This Saturday at 8pm at Cornish Pasty in Flagstaff, AZ

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CEG Releases Official Music Video for her new single "Yellow Line"

Kassandra Ramirez


With today’s power to create and connect on various platforms, it is a beautiful time for consuming art and media. Now is the time when strong female artists are empowering others by sharing their new visions and discoveries, more than ever before.

CEG (pronounced like “sage”) is a rising artist from Portland, Oregon, capturing the eyes and ears of her city. CEG, which stands for “Claire Elizabeth Grace,” just released her official music video for her single, “Yellow Line” and it is clear that she is gaining momentum in the music scene.

CEG’s new song “Yellow Line” features R&B, Soul, and Melodic sounds with themes of peace and inner stability, while the aesthetic of the single’s music video is filled with trippy elements and lots of yellow. CEG’s ability to mix genres and send a message in her music makes us all excited to hear more. Keep an ear out for CEG, as she will be touring in your city very soon.

Fronto Shorty Logo - Illustration of CEG

Fronto Shorty Logo - Illustration of CEG

This interview has been edited for clarity.

When did you start creating music?

I’ve been singing since I could talk. My mom was a music and theater major in college so I have always been exposed to music and performing. I also performed in various musicals in high school I have always been obsessed with singing harmonies, but it wasn't until about two years ago until I started writing my own music.

What inspired you to be a professional musician?

There is nothing better I can be doing than pursuing my passion. To me, there is no other high like the high you get from creating music.

Tell us about your upcoming EP “Rose Woman”. Why the title?

I would describe the sound of Rose Woman” as “Neo-Millenial-Jazz.” A mixture of R&B, Jazz, and Spoken Word. I chose the title because I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and Portland is known as “Rose City.” I am carrying the city on my back. I am “Rose Woman.”

Still from CEG’s new music video for her single “Yellow Line”

Still from CEG’s new music video for her single “Yellow Line”

What is your dream collaboration?

My dream collaboration would definitely be with Kehlani. It is kind of crazy because Kehlani’ and DJ Noodles’s booking manager actually invited me to open for P-LO when he saw me open for DJ noodles. It’s like she’s just one step away from me.

Tell us about your new single “Yellow Line.”

“Yellow Line” was made to listen to when you smoke and chill. The song is about slowing down.

Anything that stands out to you in your life is meant to be a message. To me, yellow means caution but also happiness.

How was the process of creating the music video for “Yellow Line”?

The process of creating the music video for “Yellow Line” was very organic. I played a big role in writing with the script, but the video evolved as it was produced.

Raynee Roberts of Lost Portral put the video together, and she is fucking fantabulous. We spent a lot of time together through the process. She even designed some of the outfits for the video, including my yellow top. She is very talented.

When is the release of your new EP, “Rose Woman”?

The release of “Rose Woman” is on my 25th birthday, June 28th. I am having a private release party to celebrate. It’s actually at the location where we filmed the music video for “Yellow Line.”

We have amazing sponsors for the event. I’m working on a collaboration re:stash. They printed Fronto Shorty logos on mason jars for us and they will be featured at the event. Compound, a unique sneaker and streetwear company, is also a sponsor. Mental Minorities, Swiggle Mandela, and La Familia are also going to be performing.

What can your fans expect from you in 2019?

On 4/20, I will be releasing my new song, “Fronto Shorty.” “Fronto Shorty” is a 4/20 appreciation song and also the name of my brand. You can also expect to hear collaborations with Libretto, Zenith, and Mental Minorities. This year, I will be traveling constantly because I am trying to perform as much as possible.

Follow CEG on SoundCloud


Vlad Holiday Plays SXSW

Kassandra Ramirez

by KBR

My favorite quality about music is the beautiful variety of sounds and styles that musicians create. While it often seems as if we only hear of a few musicians on the radio and in the media, there are many artists all over who are creating art and building a connection to their audience and fans. Recently, I have felt a connection to music made by alternative pop artist Vlad Holiday.

After discovering Vlad Holiday on Contagion’s music blog last year in a feature written by Riley Tiernan, I quickly became a fan of his distinct voice and nostalgic sound. I heard Holiday’s single “Like in the Movies” and felt an immediate connection to the feelings of late nights, chill vibes, and love stories. It immediately felt as if I had heard the song long ago, countless times.

Vlad Holiday’s style is effortless and smooth; it is a joyful experience I happily fall into every time I take a listen. If you’re not convinced yet, listen to more of Vlad Holiday’s singles, like “Artificial Paradise” and “Bad Influence.” I promise the quality won’t disappoint.

Vlad Holiday - Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Vlad Holiday - Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

This interview has been edited for clarity

At what age did you start creating music? What made you want to start pursuing music as a serious career?

I was around 13/14 when I started messing around with writing songs. I didn’t start writing lyrics until much later, but those early days in my bedroom on a program called Fruity Loops was when I realized that I could do it myself too, rather than just be playing other people’s songs. I knew pretty early that this is what I’d be doing with my life.

What is your dream musical collaboration or project?

They’re all dead. However, it would be cool to collaborate or grab drinks with anyone that’s like minded and as passionate about music as I am. 

Do you produce all of your own music? How did you learn how to produce?

I do. Production came out of necessity for me. I didn’t have money to pay people to record my music, so I had to figure out how to do it myself- it was as simple as that. It escalated into something much more, where I needed to be able to express myself sonically as well... paint the full picture. I also produce and write music for friends sometimes. From local NYC bands like Public Access TV, Lissy Trullie, and Donald Cumming, to Australia’s Slum Sociable, to Bastian Baker whose latest album charted No. 2 on the charts in Switzerland as he was playing our songs in arenas every night. Producing music has become a great passion, maybe an obsession.

Watch the Official Music Video for “Artificial Paradise”

Who are your biggest music inspirations?

It’s hard to pinpoint because I love so many types of music for different reasons. Lately I’ve been digging into a lot of Roy Orbison’s early stuff, Lou Reed, Dylan, Cash, Serge Gainsbourg... that kind of darker anti-hero persona.

My current music is inspired by a lot of female fronted groups like Beach House, Mazzy Star, early Lykke Li. People have compared me to Lana del Rey. So many others that have gotten me to where I am today-I feel like everything that’s touched my ears has influenced me and my taste, whether it was jaw dropping or absolute garbage.

How would you describe your solo sound compared to the sound of Born Cages? How has it evolved since going solo?

I would say it’s just a different vibe, more understated. With my old band Born Cages I was all about writing big songs with big production, positive messages tinged with bits of realness and melancholy. My new stuff is just trying to create a different mood. Born Cages was like a big daytime party and my solo stuff is the more intimate late-night afterparty.

Vlad Holiday - Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Vlad Holiday - Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Can you give us insight into your song-writing/song-producing process? How long does a single typically take to create from conception to the finished product?

It’s always changing. I don’t love having a process to the point where it fees mechanical. I need the freedom to experiment every step of the way.

How does releasing song single by single influence your process compared to releasing a whole album?

The single by single process has been super convenient for me. The more time I spend doing this, the more I realize that I need to put myself first and release music on my own terms. If I’m not happy or satisfied with my art, why even do it at all. I want it to be in the moment. This has been the most relaxed I’ve felt - if I get super inspired I can pretty much release a song right away and not worry too much about anything else. I feel like that is how music should be made.

Listen to Vlad Holiday’s newest single, “Bad Influence”

What are some of your goals in your music career? What can your fans expect from you in the near future?

My only goal is to keep doing what I do without compromising the integrity just to be able to put food on the table or sleep indoors. Everything else is noise. Fans can expect that I’ll keep doing this until I physically can’t anymore.

How do you feel being on stage versus performing to yourself?

Being on stage is everything. Without the human interaction, the job starts to feel like it’s not real. Like you’re just an insane person mixing words and sounds for no explicable reason. Doing it with people there is the explanation.

Don’t miss Vlad Holiday’s live performances this upcoming week in Austin, TX. On Wednesday, Vlad Holiday will be playing at the SXSW conference and festival. Additional featured artists at SXSW include Japanese Breakfast, Vaarwell, Billie Eilish and Khalid. Purchase your tickets for SXSW now!

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Jalopy Bungus Drops New Album, "Samson"

Kassandra Ramirez

by KBR

It is often said that everyone can be an artist. While I agree that anyone can make art, I believe being an artist is a much more distinct quality. While art is a form of expression, what makes art special is that it can also be perceived, different for every viewer. Constantly looking for artists to feature on our blog, I always search for artists whose voices speak. When discovering Jalopy Bungus, I immediately saw this quality.

Jalopy Bungus - Photo by  KBR

Jalopy Bungus - Photo by KBR

What separates Jalopy Bungus from other artists in the Arizona hip hop scenes is his undeniable talent for conveying his emotions toward his audience. Reoccurring themes in Jalopy Bungus’s new album “Samson” include living in the projects, the struggle of being black in America, and even suicide, all touchy subjects.

After hearing the new album “Samson,” which dropped on February 22nd, I was lucky enough to land an interview with Jalopy Bungus himself. I met him for a 90-minute interview and photoshoot at his apartment complex, and captured some magic outside right around the block. During the interview, Bungus gave me some insight into the meaning of his tracks and creative process behind it all. After my experience, I am convinced the world will hear all about Jalopy Bungus.

This interview has been edited for clarity

What makes you unique form other artists in the Arizona music scene?

What separates me from everybody out here is I’m not afraid to talk about the risky stuff. I live on my own accord.

Tell us about your creative process.

Recently, I don’t really write anything unless I have something to say. If it’s not really true to my heart, I can’t put it down. However long I am supposed to wait until that pops up is how long I am going to wait. However, there is a thin line between discipline and inspiration, a very thin line. You don’t want to wait to be inspired.

There is too much of “this” to not be inspired.

Jalopy Bungus - Photo by  KBR

Jalopy Bungus - Photo by KBR

How was the experience collaborating with singer Dali?

Dali is pretty much my soulmate. I have known her since 2015 this was the first track with just me and her on it. We have been wanting to collab for so long. She truly is a once-in-a-lifetime talent.

The song “Procrastinating Suicide” was particularly difficult to get done. Dali was in Oregon at the time, and when I sent her the song, she recorded the stems and when she sent them back they were all choppy and messed up. It was super last minute, so it was a mess. The last day of the project being finished, I had to mix about 90 vocals stems the day before I turned the project in to Distrokid so it could be uploaded to all platforms.

Who is “Vocal Cords of a Broken Woman” written about? Is there going to be a Part 2?

I can’t say yet, but it is about someone I know. The story is still being written. Part 1 is just the very beginning of the story.

What is “Cut the Rope” about?

“Cut the Rope” is about having withdrawals from whatever you are addicted to and how it effects you. You know you know better, but somehow you can’t stop. Well, you can, but you don’t because are addicted to it.

I was addicted to nearly committing suicide at one point. I never did it, but I thought about it. I would think about all types of ways to do it.

Have you ever been worried about some of your songs influencing someone negatively? Particularly your track “Procrastinating Suicide”?

I was definitely scared to put “Procrastinating Suicide” on the projects because I could see where someone might kill themselves because of the song. In a way, that is part of the reason why I put it out. I always want to promote individuality. The message of the song is don’t kill yourself because someone doesn’t want you to. Don’t kill yourself because you don’t want to kill yourself.

Japoly Bungus - Photo by  KBR

Japoly Bungus - Photo by KBR

Tell us more about your track “Latarian Milton.”

Latarian Milton is that little boy who stole his mom’s car because he “just wanted to do hood rat shit with his friends.” Imagine being like 7 and being turned into a superstar because of it. You’re doing Tosh.o, you’re on Boondocks. The world rewarded him for for his actions. He went on to carjack an uber when he was 17, and they sent him to prison. They used him until he couldn’t bring ratings anymore.

The song is about being black and all the things that come with it. “Mama told me I’m a king/school told me I’m a slave.” That’s real.

What can we expect from Jalopy Bungus in the near future?

I will definitely have another show for “Samson” this spring. Continue to look out for my content, because plans are in motion to transform “Samson” into a visual project, with each song having its own video.

Listen to “Samson” on Soundcloud, Spotify, and all major platforms.


Speak into the Mic: Tullis

Kassandra Ramirez

With today’s media being oversaturated with mediocre and unthoughtful content, it is always refreshing to discover a rising artist with the determination to create something with purpose. After our EIC, Jacob Blieu, introduced me to Tullis’ work, I was quickly convinced that he’s a vivid example of a passionate artist.

Starting his musical journey at the young age of thirteen, later experimenting in his band, “Bears and Airplanes”, and then continuing his career as a solo artist, it is safe to say that Tullis (who goes by his last name) will be an Arizona artist to remember. By…

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