Taryn Manning dancing to her own tune

Taryn Manning dancing to her own tune
Actress/singer featured on Netflix hit Orange is the New Black also working on new solo album

September 10th 2013
By Nicholas M. Pescod
File From: North Shore News/Vancouver Sun

Taryn Manning 8

Taryn Manning (as Tiffany ‘Pennsatucky’ Doggett) added as regular on second season of Netflix hit Orange is the New Black.

She was sitting on board an airplane bound for New York City when fear began to set in for actress and singer Taryn Manning.

“I was so scared I was paralyzed,” she says.

Manning had learned that her JetBlue Airways Flight 292 from Burbank, CA, was going to have to make an emergency landing after the aircraft’s nose wheels had jammed.

“I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that was the way I was going to die,” she says. Before the Airbus A320-232 that Manning was on could land it had to circle between Bob Hope Airport and Los Angeles International Airport for three hours in order to burn fuel, decreasing the chance of a fire upon impact. “It was terrifying; I don’t really know what else to say. I’ll never be able to articulate to anybody when they ask what the feeling inside me was like,” Manning says. “If you ever felt like you were truly going to die and that feeling, that’s what I felt.”

Finally after hours of circling around southern California, the JetBlue Airways flight began its descent on Los Angeles International.

“I just felt so sad for my mom,” she says.

Despite tense moments inside the aircraft, the JetBlue flight landed safely without any passengers getting hurt.

“It was just utter happiness and tears of joy. Everybody erupted,” Manning says. “I can’t explain the joy, the happiness of knowing that we’re OK and alive.”

The incident, which happened back in 2005, shook the core of the Arizona native.

“I do feel that my life changed after it. Different things got put into perspective because of it,” she says. “I really wouldn’t take it back for the world because it taught me a lot about myself.”

Eight years later Manning is hard at work with the recent release of her latest single titled, “Summer Ashes.”

“It is a summertime love song,” Manning says. “Progressive house with a pop twist. It is very danceoriented. I’m pretty excited and proud of it.”

Over the last couple of years, Manning has been working on a new full-length album, which she plans to release sometime next year.

“I’m super-excited about it. I’ve been working on it for a long time,” Manning says. “I’ve been trying to land on my sound. What sound do I feel most connected to right now? When it comes out it will be worth it because it has been quite a journey to get a finished product.”

Growing up Manning says music was always around her. Beginning at a young age, she often went to the local roller disco in Tucson, AZ.

“I went to the roller rink every single day and they were always playing music there,” she says. “From first grade until about sixth grade my mom would drop me off.”

“I think a lot of influences came from there for sure,” she adds.

At the age of 16, Manning, along with her brother Kellin formed a band called Boomkat. The siblings released their first album, Boomkatalog.One to DreamWorks Records in 2003. Their single “The Wreckoning” hit number one on Billboard’s dance charts.

“We did pretty well during that time,” Manning says. “We were signed to DreamWorks and we had music on the 8 Mile soundtrack.”

Four songs from Boomkatalog.One were featured in movies, including 8 Mile, The Italian Job, Mean Girls and Crossroads. Boomkat released another album in 2008 titled, A Million Trillion Stars, to Little Vanilla Records.

“We did really, really well,” Manning says.

The song “Not My Fault” was featured in the 2007 film Weirdsville. Manning also appeared in the film, which was shot in Brantford and Hamilton, Ont., as well as Northern Ontario.

Manning started going to acting class when she was 16 in Burbank, CA. Her fellow classmates included Kirsten Dunst, Rachel Wood and Leelee Sobieski.

“My mom would drive me up from San Diego to Burbank and take me to an acting class, which I proceeded to do for about three years. I never missed a class. That’s where I really felt I belonged,” she says.

By the time Manning was 19 years old she had moved out to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor.

“The dancing in Hollywood turned me off. I can’t really explain why but it just doesn’t sit well with me,” Manning says. “Dancing is this beautiful outlet to express yourself and I felt like after Hollywood I became stifled by all the cliques and the competitiveness and not supportive nature of it.”

She then turned her attention to acting and music. She appeared in a few music videos including Nickelback’s video for their song “Rockstar.”

“I didn’t have any easy way in. I started from the ground up and continued,” Manning says. “I didn’t know anybody or have any connections in. I just had a brain, some street smarts – and a drive like you wouldn’t believe, perseverance and tough skin.”

Since 1999, Manning has appeared in more than 20 films including 8 Mile, Hustle and Flow, Crossroads, Zombie Apocalypse and White Oleander.

Currently, Manning plays a drug addicted prisoner on Orange is the New Black, which airs on Netflix.

She also plays Mary Ann McGarrett on CBS’ hit show Hawaii Five-0. “That’s a whole experience in itself because I get to go to Hawaii and I love Hawaii. I love the culture. I really enjoy being on that show,” she says. “I am really happy for them that it was a hit.

Sometimes when they redo old TV shows, it is hit or miss. So, I’m very pleased for everybody involved.”

In 2010, Manning starred in a feature film titled Heaven’s Rain. The film is based on the true story about a brutal double murder that occurred in Oklahoma 34 years ago.

“That was really intense.

That was definitely a unique experience,” Manning says. “It was a very surreal, odd and very tragic story that definitely affected me at the time.”

In 1979, Glen Ake and Steven Hatch entered the home of the Douglass family, which consisted of Richard and his wife Marilyn, along with their two children Brooks and Leslie, and proceeded to tie up and shoot them. Brooks, 16 years old at the time and Leslie were the only survivors.

“The level of strength that Leslie displayed in the whole situation going through what she went through and being a survivor during the crime was amazing,” Manning says.

Eventually, Brooks Douglass decided to create Heaven’s Rain, which documents the horrific crime and focuses on forgiveness. Manning plays the role of Leslie and says it was one of the most challenging roles of her career.

“I felt terrible doing it. That this really happened. It was really morally conflicting in my heart,” Manning explains. “I met with her (Leslie Douglass) a couple times to discuss it. It was very very challenging for me. Make this person relive something for my sake as an actress was very conflicting for me.”

“She agreed to have the film made and I had to get her to trust me and trust I would do my best to portray the role and also be respectful. If ever there was something that I was doing that didn’t feel right I was very open,” Manning adds.

Manning says that shooting the scene of the murder was extremely emotional for the entire cast.

“It was challenging and heart wrenching,” Manning says. “On the day that we were going to be shooting the scene of the crime Brooks spoke to the whole crew and told the story and it was very emotional. It was nothing like I had ever experienced. I don’t know how else to put it.”

For more information on Taryn Manning visittarynmanning.com or follow her on Twitter: @TarynManning


Electro-pop artist lights up the PNE stage

Electro-pop artist lights up the PNE stage
August 30th 2013
By Nicholas M. Pescod
File From: North Shore News

Lights performs at the PNE Sept. 1 at 8:30 p.m. Concert is free with fair gate admission. Reserved seats start at $15. Visit pne.ca for info.

When Valerie Anne Poxleitner was a little girl and felt scared at night, she often sought comfort from the sounds of her father’s guitar.

“I grew up in the Philippines for a number of years and if I was ever scared at night my dad would play his guitar downstairs and it made everything go away and feel OK.”

It was her father’s musical teachings that led Poxleitner, better known as Lights, to create her own sound of music.

On Sept. 1 Lights will be making her first ever performance at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver.

“I am excited about it, I’ve actually never been to the PNE before,” she says. “I know we’re going to have a full band set.”

Following her performance at the PNE, the electro-pop musician will embark on a small university tour, which will see her perform at the University of Alberta, University of Waterloo, McMaster University, Mount Royal University, and Algonquin College.

In November, the 2009 Juno Award winner will be opening for American rock band Paramore at their Toronto and Montreal performances.

“That’s going to be awesome, I love getting to share the stage with other female fronted acts, or all female acts,” Lights says. “It’s not as common as you think. We just got off a couple of dates with Tegan and Sara, which was another great feeling.”

Lights was born in Timmins, Ont., but spent the majority of her childhood living in the Philippines and Jamaica, due to her parents’ work as missionaries. She also lived in Surrey and Langley, B.C., for a short time.

The Ontario native’s musical beginnings started to light up around the time she was 11 years old.

“Probably the first thing that got me into music was my dad teaching me how to play the guitar when I was 11. He had been playing for as long as I had been around,” Lights says.

As a teenager Lights spent a large portion of her time writing songs in her bedroom and experimenting with musical production. When she was 18-years-old, she moved to Toronto and legally changed her name to Lights.

“I think I recognized the power of music,” Lights says about her involvement with music. “There is some kind of magic that is there and I wanted to get involved with that and learn how to use that craft, and I am working on that every day.”

Lights_1Growing up Lights listened to music by artists such as Björk, Supertramp and Genesis. She says that Björk has had a very big influence on her.

“Just her efforts and her whole genre that she has created. She’s Björk and she’s very recognizable for who she is,” Lights says. “I think that is so important, you do things differently and there are rules. You see that with somebody like Björk and I’ve always thought that was cool.”

During her youth, Lights was often times a victim of bullying. There were incidents where her car was keyed, or people wanted to fight her. She says her own personal goals and aspirations helped her get through the tough times.

“I think my own strength and ambitions kept me through that. I knew that I was going to do great things and that is part of the vision of becoming who you are,” Light says.

In 2007, Lights spent one week writing and recorded songs at Centennial College’s Centre for Creative Communication in Toronto for the fourth season of CTV’s Instant Star.

Since then, she has released three studio albums and three EPs. Her albums The Listening and Siberia were both gold certified by the Canadian Recording Industry Association and both Juno nominated.

Lights explains that she is constantly trying to improve and grow with each album that she releases.

“It is a constant challenge and I think that’s how it always will be. It will always be harder and harder to one-up yourself and evolve and find inspiration in a different way than you did before,” Lights says. “As far as I want to take my career, I don’t want to do the same thing over again.”

“I would have said Siberia was the hardest record before I started recording this new one. It’s definitely challenging making it to find out where you want to go and make it something you’re really proud of,” Lights adds.

Lights is currently hard at work on a new album, which she hopes to have out sometime next year.

“It’s just writing at this stage,” she says. “It could go anywhere in terms of the way it could get produced. I’m still just searching at this point.”

When it comes to writing music, the Juno nominee says she often writes on the road or at a friend’s place in Fort Erie, Ont.

“One thing that I do like to do is get out of my house. It’s one thing to write and stay at home but it is easier when you’re not there.”

According to the electro-pop singer, her biggest challenge throughout her career has been maintaining her integrity.

“There are so many options along the way to sell out, and I don’t mean sell out in the way of working for a big corporation or anything, I mean letting your sense of self slip away,” she says. “It is important not to falter because of that. Stick to who you are, take your vision. There always has to be a vision that you chase or else you will become like everyone else.”

“Be who the artist that you’ve created yourself to be,” she adds.

Earlier this year Lights travelled more than 4,000 kilometres from Toronto to Inuvik, NWT, to perform songs from her album Siberia at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, which is also known as the Igloo Church.

“The people and the surroundings were out of this world. You really felt like you were on another planet,” Light says. “It just made me realize that there is so much about Canada that I have never seen and don’t know. There are some fans up there, which blew my mind. I guess that’s the power of the Internet.”

Although Lights has played across North America and received three Juno nominations, taking home one trophy, she says performing at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto was one moment in her career that stands out for her.

“There are lots of different moments that are special,” she says. “One that I remember being really special was playing the CNE in Toronto. That’s what I hope for at the PNE. It is a great vibe. People are happy and it is summer. I’m looking forward to it.”

Madchild pushes the positive on Lawn Mower Man

Madchild pushes the positive on Lawn Mower Man
August 15th 2013
By Nicholas M. Pescod
File From: North Shore News/Vancouver Sun


Shane Bunting was driving from Vernon to Kelowna to purchase $7,000 worth of OxyContin when he had an epiphany.

“I was 55 pounds overweight, my lips were purple, and my left arm was numb. I had a panic attack driving by myself and I looked in the mirror and I was crying,” Bunting says. “I knew that if I didn’t change I was going to die.”

Bunting, also known as Madchild from the four-time Juno Award winning hip-hop group Swollen Members, was in the middle of a brutal drug addiction that nearly cost him everything.

“I talked to my family and I cried. They stepped in and saved my life,” he says. “I wanted life and success and happiness. My family was more important than the demon that had gotten ahold of me.”

Bunting’s addiction began sometime in 2006 with Percocets, and then eventually grew to OxyContin. At one point he says he began to experiment with cocaine.

The former Carson Graham and Sutherland high school student has been drug free since 2010 and says he has no one to blame but himself for his addiction.

“I’ve been drug free now for three years. I can’t blame who I was hanging around with on my drug addiction. I made my own choices,” Bunting says.

On Aug. 15, Bunting will be performing in Vancouver at the Fortune Sound Club. It is the first stop on a lengthy North American tour promoting his new album, Lawn Mower Man.

“I am excited to play at Fortune. I have never played there before. I am actually long-time friends with the owners of the establishment,” he says.

“I am glad that my first show for the Lawn Mower Man tour for Canada is in Vancouver,” he adds.

Earlier this month, Bunting released his latest solo album. He says the new album has more of a home studio recording feel to it.

“You’ll hear a real vibrant energy, and I’m very excited. It has a lot of raw energy to it. I actually only mastered the album. I was mixing the songs and I didn’t like the way the mixes were coming out so I put it out mostly in demo form because I’d gotten used to the way the songs sounded and enjoyed that sound,” he says.

“You know when artists put out their first records and they do them in the basement. It has that kind of rawness to it. I felt like it was the right move and I am real happy I put it out that way.”

Bunting explains that in his newest album he does not cram as many words into each line. Something he has done in previous albums.

“For me it’s progression. Learning how to let the song breathe a little more and I came with a bit more of an aggressive approach,” he sayss. “To be honest with you I was a little nervous because it is definitely me and it is definitely who I am like Dope Sick, but there is a bit of step forward.”

Before Bunting became a member of Swollen Members he started off as a solo artist competing in underground hip-hop contests. At the age of 20, he relocated to San Francisco to further explore the hip-hop scene where he worked various jobs to make ends meet, but was often homeless.

After returning to British Columbia in the mid-90s, Bunting along with Moka Only and Prevail formed Swollen Members. Between 2001 and 2004, the group received four Juno Awards, three Western Canadian Music Awards, multiple MuchMusic Video Awards, and various other honours.

“It was exciting and it was a lot of fun, but it was overwhelming. I was quite young and I don’t think I handled the situation properly,” Bunting says about the early success. “It all happened pretty quickly. I didn’t have a role model that is sort of at the place that I am at now in life.”

During the height of Swollen Members’ success Bunting made some poor decisions.

“I was misguided when I was younger in terms of things that I thought were cool, movies that I watched and music that I listened to and people that I surrounded myself with. I made bad lifestyle choices,” he says. “I may have left a bad taste in some people’s mouths. Maybe I was a little cocky and maybe I was a little bit of an asshole to be honest.”

When Bunting began taking painkillers in 2006, Swollen Members had already claimed three of their four Juno Awards and had become a household name in the Canadian music scene. At the time, there was limited public awareness about how addictive drugs such as Percocets and OxyContin were. He says if he had known just how dangerous the drugs were he would not have even considered taking them.

“The thing that I got addicted to is the thing that anybody could have gotten addicted to if they did it for too long. I just thought it was something that doctors prescribed and it just happened to be fun to take. It seemed harmless,” Bunting says. “It wasn’t until a year later when someone told me that it was synthetic heroin and that’s when I tried to quit and experienced the first five days of being dope sick — which is the most horrible excruciating terrible feeling. You can’t fathom how horrible it is.”

After three years of inactivity, Swollen Members managed to put out an album in 2009 called Armed to the Teeth. That same year Bunting also releaed The Mad Child EP.

“I absolutely feel guilty for putting Swollen Members on hold, but I am not going to take responsibility for putting everybody’s life on hold,” Bunting says.

Shortly after Bunting’s epiphany, he began getting the help he needed. His addiction nearly cost him his life and took a massive toll on him financially.

“I spent half a million dollars on just drugs alone, but I lost over three million dollars because of not paying attention to my investments and my money,” he says.

Last year Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the makers of OxyContin, announced that they would replace the drug with a similar product called OxyNEO, which is designed to be harder to crush. Shortly after the announcement British Columbia, along with a handful of other provinces, decided to stop public funding for either drug, except in special cases.

In recent years, Bunting has become very outspoken about his addiction, recovery and rising awareness about the dangers of drugs. He says it is important for people of all ages to be aware of what they’re doing.

“Think of the environment that you’re putting yourself in because the options that come across your table are going to vary depending on the people you choose to hang around. If you choose to hang around somebody who carries a gun all the time then there is a good chance you might start carrying a gun, or something bad might happen when you’re with that friend and end up in jail,” he says.

“Why focus on hanging out with a bunch of people who are just trapped in negativity when you can do so many positive things,” he adds.

Bunting’s positive lifestyle changes have not only had an impact on fans and total strangers but also his family. His younger brother began rapping about eight months ago.

“He’s getting so good so fast. The fact that he wants to do the same thing that I am doing is because I am living a more positive lifestyle,” Bunting says. “I am so proud of him. That’s probably the biggest reward.”

JES unleashes the beat at The Fan Club

JES unleashes the beat at The Fan Club
New York City DJ visits Vancouver foe the first time in several years

August 14th 2013
By Nicholas M. Pescod
File From: North Shore News

When JES was a teenager she responded to a producer’s ad in the The Village Voice looking for a singer.

“It started with that one recording session and just kept going,” she says. “The producer gave me the recording and I listened to it and it was so overwhelming — a dream come true. After that I was really lucky to do some more. I was into learning anything I could. I did anything I could to get around musicians or be in a studio. I did a lot of networking and I went out at night all the time.”

Friday JES performs in Vancouver at The Fan Club. The New York City native says she is looking forward to performing in Vancouver for the first time in years.

“I do remember being there before but I think it was six years ago. I’ve wanted to play there for a long time. I’ve got a lot of fans there and I am excited to be heading back,” she says.

Earlier this month, JES released her latest album Unleash the Beat Volume 2to Black Hole Recordings. She says the album is more of a traditional mix album with a total of 28 tracks.

“You have to go back and forth with your record company and try to license a lot of tracks. This is the new thing for me because my first album was mostly mixes of my own music. But this is more of a traditional DJ mix,” she says.

The new set showcases more of her skills as a DJ.

“It is a little more high intensity,” JES says. “A lot of my original picks had to be changed because I couldn’t get the rights and what not.”

Her voice is featured on remixes and collaborations with a handful of notable artists including DJ Tiësto, Robbie Rivera, Andy Duguid, Christian Burns, BT and Paul Oakenfold.

“I do come from a musical, artistic family,” JES says. “Music was always a part of our life. My mom taught me songs and was always playing records. I was always obsessed with music. We had a piano and a lot of instruments around the house. I wanted to do music and I wrote songs and recorded them on tape recorders, anything I could The first song I ever wrote was about my pet.”

JES eventually decided to leave New York City for Southern California. It was while she was working in a studio in Los Angeles that she came across Mike Olson who introduced her to trance.

“I had left New York for a little trip to Los Angeles and I never went back. I sort of reinvented myself. It was like a new atmosphere for music. A lot more bands, a lot more guitar and a lot more live music,” she says. “He was really into trance music. I had never heard of trance music.

“It’s very melodic so it speaks to a singer because it is all about really bringing out the melody. It’s over 135 bpm so it’s a very fast tempo. I felt like it was easy for me,” she adds.

In 2002, JES formed Guardians of Earth with Olson. They produced the song ‘Star Child’ which was mixed by Paul van Dyke.

“I did a couple songs with him and we recorded them in the studio that we worked in,” she says.

After spending a year in Guardians of the Earth, JES decided to leave the group and started another band Motorcycle.

It didn’t take long for Motorcycle to gain popularity. Their song “As The Rush Comes” was the number one single on Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay U.S. chart in 2004. It was also the fourth most-played dance song of the decade on Billboard’s 2000-2010 chart.

“We knew we had something special but we didn’t have any idea how much people would love the song,” JES says.

The track was eventually remixed by a handful of highly respected DJs including Armin van Buuren, Tiësto, Above & Beyond and Markus Schultz.

“It grew from the underground and I don’t even think things grow like that anymore, with the time that we live in now,” she says. “We all were really struggling and then that song kind of catapulted us into another realm.”

In 2006, JES decided it was time to embark on a solo career again. She released her first album, Disconnect, in 2007 and opened for Tiësto on his Elements of Life Tour. Her single “Imagination” charted at number six on Billboard’s Dance Airplay in 2009.

“It was wonderful. I got to live in Amsterdam for a year,” JES says. “It’s funny because I don’t really come from the dance world. Everything was such a learning experience for me. I was a little naive I think. I think it was good. I think it worked to my advantaged.”

She performed in over 20 countries including China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Macedonia, Latvia, Hungary, Norway, Belgium, Estonia, Russia, Portugal, Ireland, the United States and Canada.

“I learned a lot because playing to seas of people is a lot different than playing to clubs,” JES says. “It was an amazing experience.”

In 2008, JES released her second solo album, Into the Dawn — The Hits Disconnected. She followed that up with her album, High Glow, in 2010. A couple of JES’s other songs appear on Tiësto’s albums In Search of Sunrise 4In Search of Sunrise 5, and In Search of Sunrise 6.

Also in 2008, JES lent her musical talents to the Netherlands-based charity dance4life. Her song “Lost In The Sound” was featured on their fundraiser album. The organization works with a series of other smaller regional based organizations to provide young people with proper sexual educational and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.

“I was touring with Tiësto and we were in South Africa and he actually went in and visited a lot of kids in orphanages and kids who had AIDS in the hospitals,” JES says. “When they asked me to be participate I immediately wanted to be part of it. It is a great organization. I just felt that it was dear to my heart.”

When JES is not working on music she can often be found hosting her radio show Unleash the Beat heard worldwide on stations such as Chicago’s Addicted to Radio (addictedtoradio.com). Visit unleashthebeat.com for podcasts of the show and a list of stations.

“It’s an hour mix show,” she says. “It’s a continuous mix of music, that’s really the job of the DJs and that’s why some of the DJs these days are so popular — it’s because of the journey they take you on.”

For more information visit planetjes.com or follow @Official_JES.

The Balconies having a ball on the road

The Balconies having a ball on the road
August 13th 2013
By Nicholas M. Pescod
File From: North Shore News

Thursday The Balconies will be performing their first headlining show in Vancouver at Venue.

“That’s a really big deal for us and we are really excited for people to hear our new material that we’ve been working on,” Jacquie Neville says.

Neville along with her brother and bassist Steve Neville, guitarist Liam Jaeger and drummer Theo Mckibbon make up the Toronto power pop punk band.

They’ve previously shared the stage with the Cold War Kids, Mother Mother, Tokyo Police Club, Puddle of Mudd and the Sam Roberts Band. Their last performance in Vancouver saw them up open twice for Big Sugar at the Commodore Ballroom.

“We had a really great time it exposed us to a lot of great people,” Neville says.

The Balconies originally started out as a three-piece but late last year they decided to bring in a new drummer and have Jaeger join Neville on guitar.

“It felt like the right time to make a change,” Jaeger explains. “It’s always fun to bring in some new elements to keep it fresh. I think that between the three of us, we had always been kind of purists of the three-piece rock band. After a while you feel like you could be doing more.”

As the band progressed The Balconies started noticing that their sound was getting a little heavier and they felt that they didn’t have that extra kick anymore.

“We were pushing our live show a lot harder and our sound was getting fuller. It was really natural to evolve into a four-piece,” Jaeger says.

Although Jaeger had five years of guitar under his belt he originally got behind the drums leaving Neville on guitar.

“It was just kind of a way for me to try and excel on guitar. It forced me to practice really hard and improve as much as I could,” she says.

Initially, Jaeger was worried that adding a second guitar player would take the focus away from their lead singer.

“We tried it out and then we realized that Jacquie has got so much of that star quality that people are going to be drawn to her whether I’m there or not,” Jaeger says.

The Balconies could not be more thrilled to have new drummer Mckibbon join the band.

“He’s a really experienced musician and we love him,” Neville says. “I feel that he adds an exciting new dynamic to the band because he’s a true rock’n’roll drummer. He plays with so much passion and heart and that’s what we’ve been looking for all along.

“It creates more of a balance from an audience perspective. I am really excited about the new dynamic. It’s a change but this is exactly the kind of evolution that I foresaw,” she adds.

The Balconies are currently working on a new record which they plan to release sometime in early 2014.

“The album is definitely a lot heavier. I would say it falls in the category of alternative rock. It’s the evolution that I’m very excited to take,” Jacquie says. “There are still the typical Balconies hooks that we like to feature but it has more of a rock ’n’roll dirty vibe.”

In years past, The Balconies have written songs together. However, for their upcoming album, which has not been named yet, they spent time in songwriting sessions.

“That was the first time we ever really worked in a songwriting boot camp kind of thing,” Jaeger says. “We’ve always just tinkered away at songs. In the past, we’d always record them the way we’d play them live. We’d been touring so much that we never really had taken the time to write and rework ideas.”

The upcoming full-length album was produced by Arnold Lanni, who has previously worked with Finger Eleven, Our Lady Peace, and Simple Plan.

In order to raise money to produce the record they turned to Pledge Music, a service similar to Kickerstarter. Depending on the amount of money a fan decides to pledge they can receive all kinds of unique and interesting gifts.

“It’s not just a donation thing, your fans are going to be getting something out of it,” Neville explains. “In our case anyone who pledges, will get a digital download or a CD or a vinyl depending on how much they pledge.”

Artists that have previously used Pledge Music include B.B King, The Spoons, Hawthrone Heights, Bleeker Ridge, Ben Caplan, Brittney Bouchard, Family Force Five and The Lumineers.

“You can also pledge really awesome exclusives like having a bowling party with the band, or another pledge that we did was I buy groceries and come to your house and cook for you and three friends,” Neville says. “It’s a really awesome way to engage your fans and let them be a part of the making of your record. It gives us an opportunity to connect with our fans and that is what we are all about. We really want to have a cool relationship with them. I am so happy we have such supportive fans.”

The Balconies have spent the majority of 2013 on the road. Earlier this year they played at MIDEM in Cannes, France as well as South By Southwest, North By Northeast and Canadian Music Week.

Nevile says that audiences overseas interact differently at live music events compared to North American crowds.

“They’re so passionate. I just find in Canada everyone is engaged on the inside almost. They are very attentive but it is almost like they’re dancing in their head. They’re really trying to analyze what you’re doing a little more whereas I find in European cities, especially in like France or Italy where it’s a romantic language, they’re so passionate and it’s just in their culture to just be very passionate people,” she says. They want to dance, they want to sing, and they want to move with you. It is very unusual and unique energy that you feel when you are over there. But we love the Canadian crowds because it’s familiar and it’s our home.

“I do notice that in Europe they like to dance a little more so we can throw in more of our disco upbeat songs a little more. I find in Canada they’re more into the heavier pop rock that seems to be really popular right now.”

In September, the band will be making their third trip to Europe this year. They will be performing at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany, along with fellow Canadian band Monster Truck.

When they have free time on the road The Balconies enjoy going bowling. The Neville’s grandmother was a championship bowler in the 1970’s.

“We love bowling. Pretty much every city we’ve toured we’ve found a way to go bowling somewhere. I think the last cross-Canada tour we went on we went bowling at least six times,” Jacquie says. “There is something about bowling. It is like this weird time capsule because everything feels like it is still stuck in the ’70s or ’80s. Seeing the super retro bowling shoes and bowling balls. There is something really special about it.”

For more information on The Balconies visit http://www.thebalconies.ca or follow them on Twitter: @TheBalconies.

Bend Sinister go their own way at Shipbuilders’ Square

Bend Sinister go their own way at Shipbuilders’ Square
August 9th 2013
By Nicholas M. Pescod
File From: North Shore News

THEY take their name from Vladimir Nabokov’s dark 1947 novel, but there’s nothing the least bit spooky about Bend Sinister.

Tomorrow night the Vancouver band will be performing at Shipbuilders’ Square in North Vancouver alongside local electro-pop artist Jet Tangerine, Toronto’s Nightbox and Australian singer/songwriter Kim Churchill.

“I’m looking forward to it. I love doing summer time festivals and outdoor shows,” keyboardist and vocalist Daniel Moxon says. “We haven’t done a Vancouver show in a while. Hopefully it’s a nice sunny hot day and I’ll be jumping in the ocean afterwards.”

Bend Sinister originally began their musical journey in 2001 in Kelowna. Since then the band has relocated to Vancouver and seen a couple of members come and go. Moxon along with drummer Jason Dana, guitarist and vocalist Joseph Blood, and bassist Matt Rhode currently make up the group.

Musically they have been described as playing everything from metal to top 40.

“It’s been my goal as a musician to not fit into anything that is happening and to do my own thing and to find my own sound and vibe,” Moxon says. “It’s a catch 22 because if you have your own sound and don’t necessarily fit into a certain scene or if people can’t compare you to certain bands then it makes it harder.”

Bend Sinister’s influences include The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Queen, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Billy Joel, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, CCR and Thin Lizzy.

While they draw from a wide variety of influences, Bend Sinister say they never try to sound like any one particular band.

“It’s not like you’re ever trying hard to be something or someone else. You just choose the songs that you write and you listen to what you listen to and it evolves from there,” Moxon says. “You’re never trying. You just write the songs that you write and if they happen to have a flavour of your influences then that’s great.”

Moxon says incorporating influences into their music is an unconscious process.

“When I go into the studio I like to layer vocals like crazy,” he says. “That would be your Beach Boys right there. Any time you try and really specific layer vocals and have nice harmonies.”

Over the past five years they’ve been hard at work touring and releasing new material. Since 2008, the band has released two full-length albums and three EP’s. They are currently working on a new project which they plan to release early next year.

“We hope to plan this coming release around South by Southwest so that when we’re touring down there at South by Southwest we’re promoting it as well.”

In writing their own material the band often starts at the keyboard.

“I come from the perspective of songwriting from a piano player first and foremost. When we write the songs on piano first they tend to have a different vibe than the bands that are writing on guitar. It is easy to make that vibe sound a certain way or give us our own sort of specific style that we’ve created through our records,” Moxon says. “I think having the piano is the essential element that really ties everything together. It really just creates that sound.”

Earlier this year Bend Sinister performed at Canadian Music Week in Toronto and throughout the U.S. including stops in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, West Hollywood, San Diego, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Nashville, St. Louis and Austin, Tx.

“Being able to hangout in Austin was awesome. I’d never been down to Texas ever. It was just a nice little treat to check it out down there.”

Bend Sinister performed for two nights at South by Southwest, sharing the stage with Wildlife, Teenage Kicks and fellow Canadian Ben Caplan.

“It was great,” he says. “We got to play four shows down there and they were all rammed. It was busy. We were pleasantly surprised by that because we’re relatively unknown down there.”

While some other bands come and go with the fickle tide of popularity, Moxon promises Bend Sinister will still be striving to create a unique sound – and enjoying the ride their music takes them on.

“We’ll still be around trucking at our usual pace making music that we’re happy with and enjoying our lives,” he says. For more information on Bend Sinister visitbendsinistertheband. com or follow them on Twitter: @Bend_Sinister.

Robyn and Ryleigh rise to the occasion at CBC Plaza

Robyn and Ryleigh rise to the occasion at CBC Plaza 
August 9th 2013
By Nicholas M. Pescod 
File From: North Shore News

Robyn and Ryleigh scouted many locations before settling on the North Shore to shoot the video for their latest single “Just Another Sundown.”  Photograph by: supplied

For sisters Robyn and Ryleigh Gillespie it was an idea that was sparked around the campfire at their grandparent’s place.

“Robyn used to bring her ukulele or guitar to our family campfires at our grandparent’s house and they would always ask us to sing together and we would,” Ryleigh says.

Since then the country singers have harmonized their way to a record deal with MDM Records. They released their first fulllength album titled Robyn & Ryleigh on July 17.

The Langley natives say the main influences for their 10-track album were love and heartbreak.

“There is a song for every mood,” Robyn says. “We tried to make it vary across the album. We have a pop country song, a rock country song, it’s just all over the map.

“We try to make music so that everybody can connect with it,” she adds.

The album includes six songs written by Robyn as well as writing contributions from Taylor Swift, Kathleen Higgins, and Steve Lee Olsen.

“(‘This Is Really Happening’) fits with our album so well. We’ve made it our own but it is so Taylor Swift,” Robyn says. “We hope she likes what we’ve done with it.”

Robyn and Ryleigh have also been pushing their new single “Just Another Sundown,” which has been released to iTunes and YouTube. The music video for the single was shot on the North Shore and offers spectacular views of the area. A large portion of the video was filmed on top of a high rise building in North Vancouver.

“It was such a cool experience,” Ryleigh says. “We got to the elevator and we opened up the doors to go out there and it was such a cool vibe and experience.”

The music video was directed by Gene Greenwood and produced by Paul Shatto. Robyn and Ryleigh spent plenty of time scouting out various locations around the Lower Mainland before settling on the North Shore.

“We actually took a really long time to figure out where we wanted to shoot the music video,” Robyn says. “Our director came out with us and we looked at so many different places. We decided why not shoot it on top of a giant building.”

Weather was a major factor during filming because they needed the perfect sunset for the background of the video.

“We actually lucked out,” Ryleigh says. “I think a few days before it was pouring rain.”

“We needed the sunset, so we had to wait for that perfect moment during that 20 minute time frame.” Robyn adds.

The first stirrings of Robyn and Ryleigh’s love for music were apparent long before that seminal night around the campfire. Robyn began song writing at the age of 12 after

receiving a guitar from her parents for her birthday, while Ryleigh was often singing in choirs and musicals.

“They bought me this cute little red guitar that was the perfect size for me at the time,” Robyn says. “I learned on it. I wrote a song on it and I started writing songs right away on it and I just loved it.”

Robyn and Ryleigh are currently signed with MDM Records and Raincoast Music.

“A long time ago we were playing in White Rock at the Spirit of the Sea Festival and David Wills introduced himself after and said that he and his partner Paul Shatto were interested in working with us,” Robyn says. “We started working with them and just recently they started their own company, Raincoast Music under the umbrella of MDM Records.”

Fellow British Columbian country artists Chad Brownlee and Hayley are also signed to MDM Records. While Raincoast Music works with AJ Woodworth, Champagne Republic, Cassandra Bangel, Jetty Road and The Higgins.

“It’s a big network of people and we are really happy to be a part of it. I’m really excited to see where it all goes,” Robyn says.

Although the duo are no longer independent artists they explain that having the full support of MDM Records and Raincoast Music has actually added pressure on them.

“It puts the pressure on because deadlines are deadlines,” Robyn says.

“Now that we have people working for us and that we are working as a team, we want to make sure that we are not wasting their time. We have to make sure that we are on top of everything,” Ryleigh adds.

Robyn and Ryleigh have travelled throughout the Pacific Northwest. They’ve previously performed at the BC Summer Games, BC Country Music Awards, Canadian Country Music Awards and the Evergreen State Fair in Washington State.

This summer they will be performing a handful of shows throughout the Lower Mainland. They will also make stops in Bellingham, Wash., and Salem, Ore.

“It’s honestly the coolest thing in the world to go on road trips,” Robyn says.

The country singers are already looking towards the future. They’re planning on making their first trip to Nashville later this year.

“In September we are going down to Nashville,” Ryleigh says. “We’re going to make sure that people don’t forget who we are.”

For more information on Robyn and Ryleigh visit robynandryleigh.com or follow them on Twitter: @RobynAndRyleigh.

Robyn & Ryleigh perform a free concert on Thursday, Aug. 15 at CBC Plaza on Hamilton Street (between West Georgia and Robson) as part of the CBC Musical Nooner summer-long series. For more information on the shows visit cbc.ca/bc/community/blog/2013/06/cbc-musical-nooners-returnfor-their-fourth-year.html.