Yo Writer: Danielle Cohen
INTERVIEW WITH ORI KAPLAN of BALKAN BEAT BOX
D: Are more people finding out about you since one of your songs got sampled on Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me”?
Ori: I don’t know. What do you think?
D: I don’t know. What do you think?
Ori: I don’t think the masses out there who are listening to ‘Talk Dirty’ even care. Maybe some people but, nah, they don’t care. If you hear any rap song, do you really go listening to what other songs they sampled in the beat?
D: Do you like what they did with your beat?
Ori: Our beat is out there on the Internet. So many people do whatever they want with it and then put it on YouTube every day. There are so many remixes and songs that sample our music from belly dancing mixes to kids making remixes of our songs.
It’s out there and we’re not trying to stop people from using it once it’s out there. You can’t really control it in this day and age anyway. So we’re not going to discriminate against Jason Derulo.
D: I agree! I was really annoyed when I read that one of the members of Portishead was complaining because some little-known band was sampling his song against his wishes. In fact, his exact words were, ‘I just want my beat back.’
Ori: What do you mean ‘I just want my beat back?’ You can’t control what people do with it. Diplo also sampled our stuff and he was like ‘Yeah, I’m working with Busta Rhymes and I’ll use it. And then he tried Nas and then he tried others. Eventually Mac Miller wanted the beat. We couldn’t control what would happen with it.
We always say yes to anyone who wants to use our beat. Unless it’s something evil—like something hateful or violent.
In this case with Jason Derulo, we said yes, we didn’t get a lot of money for it. So we negotiated a good publishing deal and then we forgot about it. And then nothing happened.
And then suddenly we hear that Talk Dirty is #1 in Australia… Then #1 in the UK.
Now they have our catalog, they love our stuff, and it’s given our band the financial boost to reach independence so we can start to do our own thing, NO LABEL, and the next step is to just release our music on our own.
D: Why do you want to go LABEL-less now?
Ori: I would love to have no label sitting there over my shoulder. The concept of labels is so old! They’re supposed to sell records for you but now they don’t even sell records. So now CDs are like a business a card, nobody cares or buys it.
Plus, when you release an album most of it isn’t even heard. Because people just check out your single on YouTube and maybe 3 more songs and that’s it! They’re ready to come see your show… And then all the work we did on 12 amazing songs just disappears.
D: Dude! It breaks my heart when people buy an album and don’t listen to the whole thing.
Ori: We’ll keep making albums but the idea is to release singles too. And then—who needs the label? They want 50% of your shit. They basically own you and why should they? Because they invested $120,000 in you? Now, we can do that on our own.
D: So what do you think about Florida?
Ori: (Ori laughs). One time we played with Matisyahu and there were a bunch of girls at the Matisyahu show showing their boobs. I’ve never seen anything like it.
They were so… “Let’s just fuck!”
By that point I had toured a lot and this still shocked me. I was like, “What? This is Florida? I would not want my girls to be raised here.”
You know, I’ve heard it’s the Armpit of America.
D: Actually, that’s New Jersey. Florida is known as the ‘wang’ of America.
Yo Writer: Danielle Cohen
I’m at Hangout Festival, it’s a sunny-ass day on the beach in Alabama, and I’m trying to coordinate an interview with Balkan Beat Box—but my cellphone won’t make outgoing calls because the towers are jammed… The last text I received from the band’s manager Owen was: “Come meet us at our tour bus 30 minutes after the band gets off stage.”
[…30 Minutes after they get off stage. Entrance to the tour bus area.]
“You can’t come in here, only the Artists can go to their tour bus,” says a friendly, sweaty, southern gentleman who is blocking my way.
…60 minutes and 50 Failed Text Messages later:
Owen somehow finds me. He’s holding a beer and he looks like he just woke up from a nap. He starts walking me over to Ori, the sax player of Blakan Beat Box, and two seconds before we walk up to Ori, Owen says, “By the way, Ori just woke up from a nap—so take it easy on him.”
I think to myself: Ya’ll were napping?! Didn’t we plan to meet 30 minutes after you got off stage? This guy!
Seems like I forgot that we’re in the slow-moving South. The land of spontaneous naps.
“Ori this is Danielle. Danielle this is Ori. She’s going to interview you,” Owen says before he disappears, leaving me alone with Ori, who matches the ‘just got up from a nap’ description. Sunshine is bouncing off his perfectly bald head. His eyes are squinted. I feel slightly awkward.
We’re in the VIP area, which feels like an oasis… it’s got real bathrooms, good seats, free water, a pool, lounge chairs, free drinks, fans–oh, and shade. Yes, shade. It’s quite a commodity at any summer music festival.
Right then a bunch of rich, salt-and-pepper-haired dudes dressed in short khaki slacks, button-down island t-shirts and their Maui Jim glasses pass us by. They’re all holding their cocktails: some kind of clear liquor with possibly some kind of clear mixer, topped with a lime and a red straw sticking out—I know you know the type. They look more like the investors of the festival than actual fans of the music.
So after Ori and I thoroughly size up everyone in the VIP, we keep looking for a spot to sit but it’s way too loud for my crappy recorder to pick up our conversation. I think: Fuck. I don’t think this interview is going to go down.
“I don’t understand. Why can’t we just do this in peace and quiet at the tour bus?” Ori asks me, annoyed.
The security guard won’t let me in,” I tell him.
“Oh, yeah. Fuck him.”
“Yeah, well it’s not his fault. He’s just working for a measly—…”
Ori cuts me off, “Look! We can sneak in!”
I look up and I see an opening in the fence between the media area and the tour buses.
“Yalla!” Ori whisper-yells at me. “Let’s go. Run!” And he dips. Out through the opening in the fence, across the tour buses and into the Balkan Beat Box home-on-the-road. I follow and we’re finally in the tour bus in all its gloriously cool, refreshing shade. Like I said, a commodity in Alabama in May.
“Oh my god. So nice in the air conditioner, no?” Ori says.
We talked for more than an hour. We cracked up and laughed and talked about some really private stuff… Some of which I had every intention of publishing.
…Until I got this text from Ori the day after we interviewed: “oh btw… all the private stuff is between us… not for print… X_X ok?”
Which pretty much left me with about 10% of the interview we did. Thanks, Ori! >:o
Ori is the saxophonist of the trio and has also played with Gogol Bordello. The band fuses hip-hop and electronic music with middle-eastern horns and percussions and it makes for a super fun live show.
Check out Balkan Beat Box music right here (Their song ‘Hermetico’ is also sampled on Jason Derulo’s single “Talk Dirty to Me”).
Part 2 (the actual interview coming soon!)
Yo Writer: Danielle Cohen
College? Fuck that. We’re gonna be rock stars.
An Interview with Little Green Cars’ Guitarist Stevie Appleby by Danielle Cohen
Super laid-back melodies. Irish folk-rock sounds. Beautiful fuckin’ harmonies. and a sick female-male lead singing duo. That’s Little Green Cars in a nutshell.
It all started with this painting… Hanging at the Vagabond, my stomping grounds at the time back in 2010, I stopped in the middle of the dance floor and stood staring at it. It was only for 5 minutes tops, but in the middle of a crowded room with music bumping, that’s a long time; eventually I moved on but I found myself circling through the backyard and main room before landing back in front of it again. I couldn’t help myself, there wasn’t a price listed but something in my gut pushed me to see if it was in the realm of possibility for me to own this. So I found out from one of my friends that worked at the club, who’s the artist, are they here? “Her name’s Kazilla, she should be around here somewhere.” Read more…
People sometimes ask why I keep at this crazy juggling act of running two completely unrelated companies, one distributing perfumes and one following the arts (especially when the latter one rewards me with little to no pay). The answer is simple: some things you can’t put a price tag on. The perfect example is how I recently got the opportunity to interview a comedian who’s work I truly admire, Wyatt Cenac, because of his upcoming appearance at the Friends of Nature Festival at The Historic Virginia Key Beach Park. Read more…
Unfortunately I got caught up in a wave of things both personal and professional after getting back from my latest trip to the Hangout Beach Music Festival and haven’t gotten a chance to share my awesome experience with you guys. Better late than never though, right? Especially when a festival experience is as great as the one I had there, it merits passing along the highlights, even after two months. Read more…
If you haven’t gotten the chance to catch The Bright Light Social Hour one of the handful of times they’ve played in Miami, you won’t truly know what you’re missing out on. Suffice it to say that when I spotted them on the lineup for The Hangout Beach Music Festival, I was as excited to see them on there as I was for some of the “big-time” names on the list like the Roots and The Shins. Read more…
We want the entire world to be both universally accessible and comfortable and it’s just not possible; everyone wants peace on Earth and a world-wide middle class and an extended life expectancy for all. It’s time to be a little realistic for a minute. There’s only a certain amount of resources the world can produce, both of the renewable variety and the nonrenewable. I’m not a scientist or anything, but I’m pretty sure the human population passed the point of being able to live on the amounts of said resources sustainably a long-ass time ago. Both the best and worst things about humans is our ability to put reality aside and think outside the box sitting in front of us. A dog sees a dead dog in the street and it’s like oh, a dead dog…. squirrel!!! But for us (and often for the animals we like to project our feelings onto) there’s the who did it? why’d they do it? did they deserve it? and myriad of other pointless questions to be dealt with. Read more…
I get asked all the time, “What is it that Yo Miami does exactly?” and until recently I never really had a satisfactory answer. I was forced to resort to long, vague explanations involving aspects of promotion, management, advertising and a few other fields. What made it all the more frustrating was that I knew if there’s one thing a company needs in order to move forward and evolve organically, it’s an identity. Finally as I was reading a magazine article (on a train in France of all places), a word jumped out and things almost audibly clicked into place: Ecosystem.
What makes a musician or band stand the test of time? What gets people crazy and girls fainting like the Beatles or Elvis? Why am I asking myself these questions? After seeing the guys of Arboles Libres put on the best show I’ve seen from them to date at their “Father” album release party I couldn’t help but compare them to the greats and wonder why that was the case. It’s one thing to see a band put on a good show (as is generally the case with Arboles anyways), and another entirely when the whole audience is riveted and you can feel something palpable in the air drawing them to the stage. Read more…
Written by Guest Blogger: Raquel Ofir
In less than two weeks, the first-ever Lights Out Festival will launch right here in our very own Wynwood Arts District. Part light show and part musical explosion, the festival will be every electronic music lover’s dream come true. With what is sure to be a high energy, electrifying extravaganza, you hardly need a ton of other reasons to go to this event. If for some reason you’re not convinced from just those few sentences though, here’s a list of The Top Five Reasons to Attend LOF:
- The Talent
This one-day music festival is packed with both national and local artists. While the main stage indoors will host mostly well known acts such as Felix Da Housecat and Brass Knuckles, the outdoor stage will have more up and coming performances serving as Dementia Events’ spotlight on Miami’s local talent. LOF is anticipating over thirty acts including RJD2, Felix Cartal, and Miami’s own The Digital Breed. Lights Out Festival is combining big name artists with newer performers to create what is sure to be an amazing event. For more information about the festival’s set list, check out www.lightsoutfestival.com.
- The Atmosphere
This one-day festival is meant to be a marriage between light and sound. Dementia Events is combining intoxicating beats with hypnotizing light shows to create a one of a kind audiovisual experience. With buzzing acts, a laser and spotlight show, an interactive dance floor, a vendor market, and live art installations, Lights Out Festival is going to be a high energy, jam-packed, electronic musical event celebration.
- The Price
The Lights Out Festival is more than just another entertaining event. Its focus is to provide people with the artists they love at an affordable price without decreasing any part of the experience. At a starting price of thirty-five dollars for general admission (ticket prices rise every two weeks, tickets are currently forty-five dollars), Dementia Events (the brains behind the festival) has brought the opportunity to see a variety of high-demand performers along with awesome new artists to check out together in one event when usually it would cost the same amount to see just one of the acts on the anticipated set list. Even VIP tickets are more affordable than most music festivals, starting out at seventy dollars (now eighty dollars) and including an exclusive package of a private viewing area, private entry, wait service, and air-conditioned bathrooms.
- The Feel-Good Aspect
By attending Lights Out Festival, not only are you taking part in an explosive electronic music event, but you’re also helping out the community. Dementia Events has pledged to donate five percent of event proceeds to local music programs and public school systems, so while those crazy dance moves you’ve been practicing in front of the mirror may not help anyone on the interactive dance floor, your attendance will actually serve the community.
- The Historical Moment
Picture this: You are in the midst of an enormous crowd, bumping together to the electric beats pounding out of the speakers. Hands up, eyes closed, you feel the bass drop in the soles of your feet and you see the lights flashing around you, even behind your eyelids. It is as if the entire audience is dancing together, high on adrenaline, celebrating electricity and existence. This is the first-ever Lights Out Festival. You are part of this historical moment, the debut of this festival that blends expression and entertainment, sound and sight, the known and the new into one all-night (and actually affordable) event.
Stay tuned for more coverage including features on some of the acts that will be performing.
Ever since my first trip to Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2011, I’ve been intrigued by the strange and colorful animal known as the music festival. Being a generally cynical introvert though, you can imagine that being stuck in the midst of tens of thousands of mind-altered, free-loving folks might not be my ideal surroundings. Bonnaroo turned out to be an interesting introduction to the world of music festivals to say the least, but without it I don’t know if I would have made it to the ones I’ve gone to since then. After attending my third festival (Hangout Music Festival) I can definitely see that each one truly is unique, and everything, from the access you have to the setting of the festival itself can have a substantial impact on how you experience it.
Are you from Miami originally? If not when did you move here and what made you want to stay?
“I actually thought that I was 3rd generation Miami (or “Miamuh”) until I recently found out that my grandmother was from Key West, and not Miami. So I suppose I’m kind of a “Conch” too. The scientific term for what I am is “Jewban” I think. My Ma came from a nice Jewish family and went to Miami High. Then one day she buys a brand new ’66 Mustang Fastback from a handsome Cuban car salesman and here I am.
I guess growing up here was something like if “I Love Lucy” was shot on the set of “Cocaine Cowboys,” if that makes any sense. I actually have always despised Miami; even as a child I couldn’t wait to leave, and I have several times. But one thing or another keeps dragging my ass back here… If I die in Miami I’ll be so disappointed in myself.
What twisted path of fate took you from being a little girl growing up in Miami, the booty capital of the world, to the synth-rock drummer extraordinaire we all know and love today?
“Even as a baby, my mom tells me I used to bounce exactly in time to the beat of music playing and stop once the song was over. I ended up playing percussion in the bands at both my middle and high schools.” It was around this time, while she was still playing with all-girl punk bands, that she met Steph Taylor, the key-tickling second half of the State Of. They didn’t form a band quite yet though, and she continued playing open mic nights and various gigs. “Then in ’99, Suenalo contacted me to play a show with them and I guess they liked what I did because they had me come back for their next one.” Over the past 15 years she’s continued playing with a plethora of bands, and at this point has played with over 35 different ones (while also playing steady State Of gigs for the last 5 years).
Here goes, the final segment for this round of YoFlo write-ups:
After an extended stay in St. Pete it was time to head reluctantly home, with one final stop planned for the trip back: Solomon’s Castle.
Even though this was one of the few itinerary items that we had planned before we left, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this place. I can tell you though, that as you make your way down the long country roads that lead you there, you definitely feel like you’re entering a world that shouldn’t exist in the same state as a city like Miami.
I had to take a hiatus due to the multitude of events going on around town that I had to cover (see: Virginia Key GrassRoots Music Fest), but I’m back with the next segment of the YoFlo series.
After a fun day at Cigar City Brewery, Lorie and I drove off into the sunset, crossing the Gulf from Tampa into St. Petersburg. Spontaneously booking our room at a bed and breakfast in the middle of the hour-or-so drive, spirits were high as we read up on the St. Pete scene in a local art-centric paper. As luck would have it, there happened to be a block party kind of thing going on that night in the vein of Wynwood’s Second Saturday Art Walk.
How did the crazy combination of cats we know as Ketchy Shuby come together back in the day?
“Some of us are childhood and high school friends, but for the most part we all met through playing music with other groups and decided to play together. ”
You say you met playing with other groups; do any of the bandmembers still play with anyone else?
“We are all full-time Shubys for the most part but Chip (keys) and Danny (percussion) also play in this great band called Fusik“
This past weekend I had the great pleasure of being involved with the Virginia Key GrassRoots Music Festival. Like most things lately, my involvement came about haphazardly and the end results exceeded what few expectations I had.
The festival first popped up on my radar after some local bands started talking about their participation on Facebook, (Raffa and Rainer, Juke, ArtOfficial, etc) and I figured it would be an opportunity to hang out in the great outdoors and listen to all my favorite hometown acts in one place without having to trek across state lines. Of course, I ended up thinking of inquiring about press access requirements literally the minute after I buy my 4 day pass. Luckily though, I was able to get in touch with the organizers down here in Miami and help them out by bringing some Miami flavor to the festival in the form of live-painting artists (Kazilla, Remote, Torek, Brian Butler, GG, and Eva Ruiz).
How did you guys initially meet up/how did the band come together?
“ArtOfficial came together when a group me and Newsense were in, called Soulwhat?, was on the rocks. We weren’t really doing much at the time, music-wise. Around that same time, our bass player, keys player, and saxophonist’s band broke up. We had common connections because the Miami music scene is tiny. We hooked up, wrote a couple songs, started gigging and that was the beginning right there. “
After the natural splendor of Bok Tower my girlfriend and I hit the road to Tampa. Why Tampa you ask? Three words: Cigar City Brewing.
While I can’t claim to be any kind of expert or even amateur beer connoisseur, ever since I started going to the DRB regularly and associating with my beer savant of a friend, I’ve been slowly but surely refining my brew palate. A few months ago I had the opportunity to attend a Cigar City sponsored event where there was an incredible selection, including everything from Puppy’s Breath Porter to Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale (Caramel Graham Cracker). Since then, the Florida brewery has had a spot on my radar, with their Maduro Brown ale in particular as one of my favorites.
My girlfriend happens to be one of those free-spirited people who would be happy living on the side of a mountain in a town that non-ironically has horse and buggies still operating. You can imagine then that Miami might not really be her cup of tea for the most part (though she is a native, don’t worry). Throughout our relationship, between my unrelenting need to be right and my love for my home town, I’ve taken it upon myself to pinpoint the aspects of the city I think will appeal to the vagabond in her. And I have to say, having that motivation in the back of my mind has been great for getting me out of my comfort zone and into some really cool places. Now that you have a little insight into what led me on this road trip in the first place, here’s a more in depth look at the first stop on our excursion: Bok Tower Gardens.
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
After the insanity that was the month of December I was looking forward to a nice trip to Costa Rica with my girlfriend so I could completely unplug and temporarily forget about all the stress that comes along with the greatness of being involved in the art and music scene in Miami. Unfortunately as often happens, “announcing your plans out loud is a good way to hear God laugh.” For one reason or another Costa Rica didn’t work out and so we were left looking for other options for a 3-4 day getaway. In the end, thankfully, we decided on a little road trip around Florida.
With Basel coming up, it’s hard not to reflect on the magnitude of these art shows in Miami now. Starting in October/November, there’s fair after festival after show after exhibit. It gets to be overwhelming. I’m already hoping I’ll get a chance just to squeeze in a few shows and even those few I’m not sure I’ll make it to with all the other things happening that week.
So click the link above to see a “photo essay” I had to do for my first English class in my first year of college. Pretty funny to look back 5-6 years and see how we’ve pretty much ended up where I thought we would. Also cool to see the pictures of walls from years ago and how they looked compared to today.
(Another piece I had written for Open Media Miami)
Whether talking about gentrification or “selling out” there’s always a fine line to be walked when it comes to transforming something with seemingly little value into something popular and marketable. Artists have always presented a good opportunity to examine this principle. You have countless examples to choose from of struggling/starving artists who make it big and then become a household name. The question is at what point do we stop congratulating the artist on being recognized for their talent and start berating them for leaving their values behind in order to make a quick buck? This argument is a perfect one to have while sitting at the Wynwood Walls because it so clearly presents both the pros and cons of each side. On one hand, the walls represent the epitome of “South Beach-ification”, the exploitation of something that was once pure (in spirit if not in appearance), specifically for the sake of turning a profit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way arguing against making money; I’m totally for making money. I just think that when it comes to art or creative outlets in general, we need to make every effort to preserve the spirit that initially spurred the conception.
So this is a piece I had written for publication but the timing wasn’t right and eventually it just got put on the back burner. I realize that this is a touchy subject especially with all the Occupyness going on but hey, shit happens:
The latest newsworthy crime in the Wynwood area, specifically the armed robbery at Joey’s, created a lot of buzz in the blogosphere over the safety of the area and no doubt will lead to endless discussion on gentrification and its many poor unprotected victims. I can empathize with the widowed mother of three who has to work several jobs just to keep a roof over their heads and gets pushed out of her home by wealthy land developers looking to jump on the next bandwagon neighborhood. But you know what? At the end of the day, all these big corporations and local entrepreneurs drawn to the crowds of rich people flocking to the newest cool area equals opportunities for the underprivileged. Every Starbucks that opens, every Midtown development that sprouts up means hundreds if not thousands of jobs for these oppressed masses. I don’t want to make it sound utopic, it’s not as if these companies come in pure of heart looking to hire every “rough around the edges hooligan” walking the streets. If you’re serious about finding a job though, there are definitely options open to you especially in this burgeoning area.
So I (admittedly with the help of some friends) decided to use this blog section to further connect us Miamians. Rather than me writing about whatever I want every couple of days or so, I’m going to open up the floor to you guys. Anyone interested in writing a piece just has to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: Guest Blogger. Include a summary of what you’d like to cover.
So this is technically the first blog post I’m writing I guess. No pressure.
The question I get asked most at this point when I bring up YO Miami to strangers who know nothing about it is “What is it?” A valid and pretty obvious question all things considered. The answer isn’t as simple as that though. For me, YO Miami started on a whim, based on offhand comments I kept getting from friends after a decent period of me hounding them with information about events and venues in the Midtown/Wynwood area. From there it’s been a convoluted, crazy path to get to where the site is today.