Jessica Victoria’s musical background is something to admire.. She holds a doctorate in musical arts from The Catholic University of America, a Master of Music in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory of Music and bachelors’ degrees in music and foreign languages from the University of New Mexico, where she graduated summa cum laude. In addition to a thriving performance career, Victoria directs the voice track of the Sacred Music Program at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Not only this, Dr. Jessica Victoria has performed for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and with orchestras in the United States, Europe and South America, picking up many awards for her vocal performances along the way.
We are absolutely loving the new album which is a credit to Jessica’s experience and education and also pulls from her celtic ancestral links as well as hints of rock and pop, it is a musical experience for anyone to enjoy this spring. So, get purchasing and be transported by Jessica Victoria’s magical new album.
Whilst some musicians may look to predictable approaches and stick to one particular musical stream, New Mexico-born songstress Jessica Victoria defies convention at every stage, exploiting both her classical training and singer-songwriter credentials and finding lyrical and thematic influence from Arthurian mythic history! Jessica Victoria’s album Songs of The Summer Realm has a little something for everyone, transporting the listener to a different time and place, while instilling ideas and ideals which remain incredibly relevant.
Ahead of her album release on the 1st of May, Jessica has shared a clip of some secrets behind the songwriting process, below she begins to show us how she begins a composition with writing harmonic material. Keep an eye out for the next video where Jessica will incorporate how she uses braille in her songwriting process.
Jasper’s Riddle is a new musical concept from Lukas Zeickner, a Manchester based medical student, who calls this project his ‘acoustic storybook’. After beginning his studies to become a brain surgeon, and switching to his current vocation, that of a heart surgeon, Jasper’s Riddle’s debut release reflects an artist’s own chameleon-like ability to shift between a multitude of artistic talents – an acoustic singer-songwriter, a classical composer, an artist and a novelist, to produce ‘The River‘ – a collection of self contained stories that combine to make his storybook.
“I would say the most interesting aspect is the versatility. All of my songs are quite different and you never know what to expect next. This applies to my classical music as well.” – Jasper’s Riddle
Influenced by beacons of talent from across the world, from Aretha Franklin to Fela Kuti to Estas Tonne, and an overarching love of Schubert, his fascination for science as well as the Arts has led to Lukas performing and producing all his own music, not to mention creating the accompanying artwork.
“I see art as simply one thing in itself – free and ever changing. There’s no difference whether its music, or a drawing, or a poem.” – Jasper’s Riddle
One of his earliest recollections is learning lessons in the ‘freedom of expression’. Growing up, he mentions that he never really understood the notion of music genres and as a result he ended up listening to anything and everything.The most immediate comparison would be that of a Jeff Buckley inspired sound (watch his cover of ‘Grace‘ here). He describes his sound as acoustic rock, with influences from neo-soul and blues to progressive rock and flamenco. With his heritage stemming from Nigeria, he feels a strong connection with his Nigerian-British heritage and sings songs in Edo as well as English, and also Spanish as a third language.
As a 22 year old classical composer and multi-instrumentalist (pianist/ guitar and singer), Jasper’s Riddle offers something really interesting in the way that people can engage with the music. The concept originates from a love of Schubert’s Lieders, which he describes as ‘truly beautiful’, through the way in which he would incorporate aspects of the story/poem into the song itself. An example of this in ‘The River‘ there are multiple moments where the guitar finger-picking imitates the sound of waves and rushing water, and also his classical piece ‘Jack in the Box’ also features an intro piano passage which imitates the sound of a jack in the box toy.
Topical themes are often a good source of inspiration due to the immediate emotional connection you establish with your audience. For Neo-Classical composer Toni Castells, it was the work set out by former MP Jo Cox’s Commission of Loneliness (which divulged that more than 9 million people are affected by loneliness in the UK alone) that has inspired his latest release ‘HHUMANN X‘.
While initial innovation came largely from his teachers at music school, Castells’ overall sound was developed from a foundation of classical training combined with an inventive use of modern technology to produce a mixture of dreamy, cinematic and poetic soundscapes.
His music has since been described as “Morricone meets Satie” by Michael Haas, producer of prize-winning recordings with major classical artists including Zubin Mehta, Mstislav Rostropovich, Daniel Barenboim, Cecilia Bartoli and Luciano Pavarotti.
With this album’s themes centred around the subject of a paradox that highlights a growing social isolation in times of technological hyper-connectedness, the premier performance at LSO St Luke’s in Barbican (20th October) is also set to feature More Than Just a Choir – a community choir based in North London that works with people suffering from mental illness and social isolation.
The choir will appear towards the end of the piece and they’ll be unknowingly sitting amongst the audience before their entry. This staging metaphor is designed to strengthen the idea that isolation and mental illness are invisible to most of us.
When would happen if you took classical music and mixed it with something as niche darkwave? The answer could be in Michaela Polakova and Natalie Kocab’s latest collaboration.
Both hailing from the Czech Republic; Singer & lyricist Natalie Kocab and composer Michaela Polakova join forces in a testament to experimentation, which also features a helping hand from The Verve’s guitarist Nick McCabe and Lou Reed bassist Fernando Saunders.
The album consists of ten tracks and provide a variety of tones and textures, with influences from Patti Smith to Nick Cave, all the way to My Bloody Valentine and The Cure.
The album opens with one of three lead singles ‘Underwater’ which does an excellent job of setting the tone for the rest of the album, providing a strong opening and a strong vocal performance accompanied with poetic lyricism from Natalie which remains consistent throughout the rest of the album. The song features an atmospheric soundscape with a jarring middle eight, comparable to albums such as Pornography by The Cure.
The album then follows into ‘Kiev’, which changes from a soundscape-like structure into something more post-rock influence, with what sounds like a slight oriental twist to the composition. The song follows through with a crescendo; a big finish maintaining that post-rock attribute.
‘These Years’ which is the second lead single changes the atmosphere a bit, the orchestral side to Michaela’s compositions are more apparent here followed by opening with a 90’s or early 2000’s pop melody showcasing its contemporary elements; though like a facade this changes a minute into the track where the melody completely juxtaposes and becomes jarring, maintaining the authenticity to the album.
The album is a collective of melancholic and jarring pop tracks followed by experimental, post punk influenced tracks, Nick McCabe’s guitars compliment the classical compositions and just like Kevin Shields and Patti Smith’s collaboration in 2005 and 2006, vocalizes the instrument.
Tracks that follow such as the title track; ‘Ellis Island’ and the third lead track ‘Social Affair’ are more of a radio friendly take on the sound that Michaela & Natalie have crafted, contemporary structures whilst maintaining a certain melancholy that is not too drastic or dissonant, ‘Social Affair’ features a more alternative rock take on their sound.
‘Zadnej Kod’, which is performed in Czech is again a more orchestral track, which features haunting tonality, the track picks up and features almost an operatic rock dynamic to it.
I do feel however, following Zadnej Kod that ‘Feeling Falls’ and ‘Carry On’ could have been positioned differently on the album, ‘Feeling Falls’ feels very similar melody-wise and Carry On feels slightly anti-climatic in its positioning. And whilst ‘Feeling Falls’ does well in its minimalist, spacious approach it’s light dynamics into a crescendo came too soon after ‘Zadnej Kod’.
The album concludes with the track ‘Backstabbers’ which unlike the aforementioned two tracks is positioned well and conclude the album perfectly, whilst yet another pop oriented track among the final three, the dynamic changes with acoustic guitars at the forefront mixed with the whirling, wall of sound like tonalities of the electric guitars, the song also features lounge-like spoken word vocals, which adds a nice, conclusive shift from the powerful vocal performance which remained consistent, to something that tones down the album.
Whilst the album features a plethora of musical styles and experimentation, it does not sound messy one bit, Michaela’s work on the compositions make the album sound consistent and authentic whilst making the album interesting throughout, the album does not go off on a tangent nor does it become monotonous: It’s a fresh and relevant take on experimentation that rivals the likes of recent contemporaries.
Natalie Kocab’s vocals are personally one of the biggest highlights of the album, the overall vocal performance was powerful and suited the music that was accompanying them,.
Overall, the album genuinely offers something for everyone, a welcoming form of experimentation that is not to alien to the average listener yet interesting enough to keep die-hard alternative music fans listening throughout.
Ellis Island is out now, you can purchase the album from this link; https://wmcz.lnk.to/ellisisland
To keep up to date with Michaela Polakova and Natalie Kocab, you can follow their social networks below;
From the U.K to Japan; harpist and vocalist Julia Mascetti has given a hint of what’s to be expected from her upcoming E.P. In Distance, Everything Is Poetry.
The track ‘In Bloom’ gives us a taste of what’s in store in Julia’s upcoming E.P. in the form of a dark, fantastical soundscape.
‘In Bloom’ presents us with the essence of mythical storytelling, what can be described as celtic-folk roots all the way to the soundtrack to a fantasy epic; ‘In Bloom’ sets a dynamic and paints a musical picture that inspires thoughts of mythology and legend.
Julia’s siren-like vocals over a haunting and melancholic harp creates a depressing yet captivating scenario; it’s dreary tones creates suspense in such a minimalist way, yet alongside embellishments from what sounds like bells and a stringed instruments it still retains it’s melodic qualities.
The song is essentially part melodic and part concept, with the timbre of the instrumentation it manages to balance these two sections perfectly, without alienating the listener. The change of arpeggios to sustained notes in each section add for diverse textures in the song.
‘In Bloom’ tells a dreary and melancholic story, the mixture of instruments elevate the texture and song stays true to itself throughout, I feel that some of these instruments could be more apparent in the mix (what sounds like a tsugaru shamisen, could be a bit louder) but overall, the diverse instrumentation compliments the song.
The E.P. In Distance, Everything Is Poetry is out on the 11th of November, you can keep up with Julia’s social networks at the links below;
Roger Rudenstein is not what many people would expect from a classical composer and musician. Not for him the polite, white-gloved bowing and strict adherance to convention, nor even the generic inspirations of stately events and environment. Instead, for the last few years, he has been systematically documenting his views on the political climate in America both in streams-of consciousness blog posts and the less 21st Century method of opera.
His impressively populated back catalogue is creaking at the seams with piano sonatas, concerti, string quartets and symphonies but it’s his grander, more epic works which have really got tongues wagging in America.
In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, Roger set about documenting his observations of the chaos in the corridors of power. The title and idea for this opus is based on a Goya etching entitled “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” which depicts a man who sleeps while monstrous forms fly about. Collectively titled State of the Union, his septet, Nightmare of Reason, uses George W Bush’s actual state of the union address text and puts it to Roger’s composition, which utilises 3 voices as well as perhaps the world’s leading clarinetist, Richard Stoltzman.
Having dealt with Bush, it is perhaps no surprise that current Leader of the Free World comes next under Roger’s microscope, the thinly-veiled The Rise & Fall of Ronald P. Glumph, a Faust-inspired exploration of Donald Trump’s ‘activities’ over four operas. On a completely different tac, Roger also composed an opera based on the effects of the AIDS virus on people’s lives, to great critical acclaim.
Roger is now ready to inspire European audiences with an opera based not on political satire but classic British literature, James Joyce’s classic epic, Ulysses. The source material is an ever-twisting tale of early 20th Irish folk, with much of the dialogue being the internal thoughts of the characters, a perfect device for opera to exploit.
Ulysses is not short of what might politely be called ‘bawdy’ language and behaviour, much of which, you’ll be pleased to hear, is left intact, Roger being keen that the original text by Joyce is undiluted and can reach an audience which may not be familiar with the work, but which is as hilarious today as it was nearly 100 years ago. Ulysses is begging to be heard by a new audience, combining the tragedy and humour of the novel with Roger’s brilliant music, which echoes his very European influences of Richard Strauss, Stravinsky and Schubert.
Fusing his favourite genres of classic operatic styles and rock, Georg Roman has unleashed his powerful track ‘Forever’ on the world.
Although the Russian singer-songwriter did always intend to be a musician, formerly pursuing a career in sport, he has certainly found his calling in music, forming his own unique blend of classical-rock.
Classical instrumentation, including a dramatic piano lead and emotive string sections combine with Georg’s powerful voice, making for music like you’ve never heard it before.
Georg has always enjoyed using his whole vocal range when singing and composing for himself, and this style that he has adopted allows him to do so.
In terms of rock, Georg looks up to the likes of Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker, but he when it comes to classical- the greats such as Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo are firm favourites.
Versatile Irish songwriter looks to build on a growing reputation with brand new release
Influenced by a list of genres and artists taking in classical, metal, funk, jazz and more, Fjokra is an artist who is nigh on impossible to pigeonhole.
Born in Dublin and now living in London, he is a multi-instrumentalist whose music takes in so many different ideas and angles that to tie him down to one genre or style is a fool’s errand – just as it seems you have his sound sussed, a new idea will come and slap you in the face. And that’s just the way Fjokra likes it.
You can see the video for EP track ‘Infinite Loops’ here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5FrW1UyVyY
‘Thoughtsteps’ is an EP that tantalises and astounds. With the album name, artwork and musical content designed to demonstrate alternative, free and independent forms of thinking, the varied style is all tied together by the consistent high quality of the recordings. Even more impressively, the EP is primarily self-produced but for one track from producer Donald Clark (Guns ‘n’ Roses, Muse).
It’s little wonder that Fjokra counts Mick Jones (The Clash), Duran Duran, and Beardyman amongst his fans – and this range of musicians gives you a glimpse into the wide audience demographics the music is connecting with. Peanut Baines of the Kaiser Chiefs put it his own way, labelling Fjokra ‘sex music for metallers’.
With a fan base that is widening thanks to a unique live show (performed with his eponymous band), Fjokra has already graced the stage at Beach Break Festival and Liverpool Sound City. They also performed at a very special concert which saw Tyondai Braxton (of Battles) premiere his new orchestral piece ‘Central Market’ – a truly inspiring experience for the band. And now, with ‘Thoughtsteps’ only a few weeks away and a slot at the Isle of Wight Festival this summer, he is using that inspiration to fuel his forward momentum.
And if you’re still not convinced that this is an artist with a unique approach, then perhaps his unusual approach to promoting the EP will help. In addition to releasing the songs and music videos, Fjokra has also recorded for each track a cookery show, punning on the song titles from the EP. Due to be posted on YouTube and fjokra.com shortly after the songs themselves are released, the tasty teasers will make this EP a truly multi-sensory experience.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for acoustic versions of the EP tracks, recorded in a guitar shop and due on the Fjokra YouTube channel soon.
‘Thoughtsteps’ will be available from June 9th.
Links: www.facebook.com/fjokraofficial www.twitter.com/fjokra
Instagram: fjokra www.youtube.com/fjokra www.soundcloud.com/fjokra
Richard Rhys O’Brien’s debut album is now made available online for all music lovers worldwide. “I Know A Little Place” is an album full of inspirational songs, fun lyrics and great musical arrangement that audiences around the world would surely love to include in their playlist.
Listen to the album here: http://richardrhysobrien.com/albums/iknowalittleplace/
Richard Rhys O’Brien is a singer songwriter who started writing in 2009, after a career as an economist and futurist. This background has taught him many things about how the world revolves, inspiring him to write his songs of love and life, accompanied by wry commentary on contemporary issues such as climate change (as in “cloud on the horizon”- video included) and consumerism – with the accompanying video “ choice would be a fine thing”.
Richard Rhys O’Brien style draws on folk, rock, blues, country and classical influences – particularly inspired by a lifelong following of Loudon Wainwright III, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. He has been singing with the North London choir Eclectic Voices since 2000 (jazz, gospel, classical and world music) and plays piano and keyboards.
Some of his popular songs that are included in his debut album are “Take it as it Comes”, “Audition Blues”, “Silvery Moon”, “Rollercoaster”, “She Said Yes!”The song “No truth, No Lies” is one of the more serious songs where Richard Rhys O’Brien reveals a little bit of a preachy tone and “Heroes or zeroes” reflects on the slide from great leadership to dictatorship . in contrast other songs on the album like ““If You Say You Cannot See My Shadow” and “Be Like a Bird” display his playful and lighter tones.
His songs feature other professional and talented musicians and singers like Bruce Knapp (guitars), Tony Shepherd (drums), Richard Sadler (bass), Christine Axelle and Callie Howard (supporting vocals) all produced with Matthew Knapp and recorded in Brighton.
His debut album, composing 14 songs, is mainly inspired by the blues, tangos, waltz and lullaby, reflecting modern life and love with accompaniment of sparkling guitar, tinkling piano, pulsating bass and drums as well as great lyrics that are sung with remarkable clarity.
Songwriter Richard Rhys O’Brien knows exactly how to strike a delicate balance between playful arrangements and heartfelt songwriting that infuses great musical direction from different band’s muses. Richard Rhys O’Brien’s debut album is available on iTunes and Amazon Store. http://richardrhysobrien.com/ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Richard-Rhys-OBrien/128587320578684 https://twitter.com/RROBrien http://www.youtube.com/user/RichardRhysObrien