Cover art courtesy of Biker Gang Booking
Sara King is one of three new female artists recently picked up by talent agency Biker Gang Booking, known for managing bedroom pop favorites like Bane’s World, Inner Wave, and Michael Seyer.
A native of Dallas, King studied at her local School of Rock and began covering songs on YouTube, eventually forming her sound coined as “glitter pop” – catchy synths and drifting vocals, all supported by an indie pop backbone.
Her debut single, “Dreamz,” out today, seems to provide the perfect portrayal of this moniker. Essential guitar chords are hidden, but not disguised, with poppy beats and King’s ethereal voice. Her riffs on simple “do do do’s” are enough to transport the listener into a dreamworld, which, according to the lyrics, is also the only place King can be with her love interest. An ever-so-relatable topic in today’s world filled with social media and mixed signals, “Dreamz” is sure to resonate with its audience.
Although King’s sound is audibly influenced by the likes of Kali Uchis and Clairo, she seems to have a flair that’s all her own – something that is sure to be explored further when her EP HEAT drops later this month.
Listen to “Dreamz” below.
The North Shore Center for the performing arts was filled with soulful music Thursday, October 20 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jung Yup, a member of the Korean ballad group Brown Eyed Soul, had agreed to sing as part of a fundraising concert jointly hosted by Korea Daily Chicago and the Korean American Sports Association of Chicago (KASAC).
Jung Yup is a nephew of the president of KASAC, Hong Byung Kil, who organized this event to raise funds for KASAC’s entry to the 19th Korean American National Sports Festival (KANSF) set to be hosted in Dallas, Texas, June 2017.
The stage felt as though it was set in an orchestra (to be fair, North Shore Performance Center also hosts orchestra performances). The audience were all formally or semi-formally dressed, a completely different vibe from a hip hop or rock concert where people are much more energetic. When Jung Yup came up onto the stage himself, he gave a sincere promise to the audience that he would do his best to convey the emotions embedded in his songs, which are predominantly ballads.
Jung Yup, Guitarist Park Juwon, Pianist Uniqnote, Bassist Ahn Byungchul and drummer No Yongjin performed jazz covers of Jung Yup’s songs and famous pop numbers. Tracks ranged from Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World and Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning to Nothing Better, Jung Yup’s signature cover, and Unrequited Love.
Park is the most renowned jazz guitarist in Korea, while Ahn and No were both active session members in the Korean indie music scene. Uniqnote is a singer-songwriter who wrote songs for groups like Fly to the Sky and Brown Eyed Girls. The acoustic collaboration between Park and Jung Yup were especially poignant, awing the audience with covers of YB’s Cigarette Girl and Yoo Jae-ha’s You in My Arms.
Surprisingly, unlike at a vast majority of concerts, there were only a few phones out to record the show throughout the concert. When Jung Yup started off the show with What a Wonderful World, everyone was silent and listened in as they immersed themselves in the performance. They seemed to be pointing out that our own eyes and ears are probably better suited for concerts than cellphone cameras are.
Due to Brown Eyed Soul’s legacy as a group of lush R&B-flavored vocalists renowned for their harmony, it was hard to initially fathom how Jung Yup would be able to fulfill that expectation on his solo concert. Jung Yup and the band pleasantly surprised the audience with a wide variety of arrangements, starting from the moody acoustic covers to groovy and jazzy tunes. The audience had little time to be bored.
Jung Yup was relaxed and enthusiastic on stage, taking his time to talk with the audience. He also tried to share his enthusiasm with the crowd as he set up the audience for an interactive session during one of his songs, so everyone could sing along in the chorus. He walked off the stage into the aisles while singing a Bob-Marley-inspired reggae/jazz interpretation of Peter Frampton’s Baby I love your way, taking selfies with the audience and passing the microphone to them. At this point, the show was not just a place to relate and immerse oneself into the songs, but it became a place where everyone had fun in an opportunity to sing with their favorite singer.
Saving the best for last, JungYup ended with Its Love, an OST for the Korean TV series Doctors. Before he sang his last song, he told his fans that if enough people screamed “encore” after his song, he would come back onto the stage for one more song. He even went off to say that he always stands at the edge of the stage behind the curtain, preparing himself for the encore. Once the song ended and people excitedly screamed “encore” to call him back, JungYup returned and joined forced with the guitarist Park in an acoustic rendition of You, In My Arms, an original song by singer Yoo Jae Ha that Jung Yup had covered on Yoon Do-hyun’s MUST, a Korean music TV show hosted by the leader of the rock band YB.
Overall, the concert was a fun and interactive experience. Jung Yup told us that people are welcome to ask him anything they wanted to ask about his personal life. His female fans took advantage of the opportunity to scream how good looking he was and ask whether he had a girlfriend. Jung Yup comically welcomed them, requesting them that they send in more praises as it “makes him feel like a star.” And a star he was indeed.
Special thanks to Korea Daily Chicago for providing the materials for this publication.
If you want to learn more about Korea Daily Chicago and its event schedule, check out their website and social media.
Andy Mineo, an up and coming rapper from New York City, recently released his sophomore album, Uncomfortable, which meshes confession, faith and old school hip hop with jazzy undertones to create an eclectic sound style that is, as Mineo said in a phone interview, “uncomfortable in its approach.”
The album’s title track hit No. 3 on Hip-Hop/Rap iTunes charts just after a day of being released and Mineo has since interviewed with Billboard Magazine and is rumored to attend the BET Hip Hop Awards this year.
After touring with Christian hip hop artist Lecrae, who in the Urban Daily he describes as a mentor figure, Mineo decided to debut his own tour as a headliner. The Uncomfortable Tour came to the House of Blues Chicago on Saturday, October 17 and Mineo invited the WNUR Media Team to cover it.
After an hour-long opener by R&B singer SPZRKT and spoken word rapper Propaganda, the pumped-up crowd held its breath before the darkened stage in primal excitement.
Suddenly, a cube-shaped screen in the center of the stage lit up in a bright flash, displaying black-and-white video footage of a city. As soon as the unmistakable intro chorus of “Uncomfortable” started blaring, the crowd erupted in a roar of joy and chanted along, Andy Mineo still nowhere in sight. As the chorus came to a finish, a purple light erupted from the top of the cube, revealing the bespectacled rapper standing upon it as he spat his first verse of the show.
It was a breathtaking intro that set the tone and pace of the show to an extremely high bar. And like an eight-ton truck with a busted brake, the show refused to slow down. By the time the second track “Know That’s Right” came on, the crowd was jumping so hard I could feel the ground shake from the second floor balcony. Without giving the crowd even a second to rest, Mineo charged on with “Now I Know,” then brought the pace down with the mellow beats of “Hear My Heart.”
The burley Caucasian rapper filled the small stage of Chicago’s celebrated House of Blues both physically and charismatically. Each bar he spat and each stomp he took across the stage emanated confidence, and his lyrics overpowered the deafening bass and live drum set.
“Welcome to the Uncomfortable Tour, Chicago,” Mineo finally said, greeting the crowd for the first time after a four-song intro to the already adrenaline-soaked performance. It was impossible to tell that this was the 27-year-old rapper’s first headlining tour. He was calm. No, not calm—he had the composure and dazzle of an experienced performer. He even found time to crack up the fans by playing around with his vocal harmonizer.
No time to waste: After a brief banter with the crowd, Mineo jumpstarted the show again with “Vendetta,” followed by the banger “Desperados.” At this point, I was certain the balcony would break as the crowd jumped up and down in synchronized seismic jolts.
What followed for the next hour-and-a-half of the jam-packed show was a slew of bangers and hits including “Paisano’s Wylin’,” “Uno Uno Seis” and “Uptown.” Each song was met with rap-alongs and frantic jumps from the fans. Even the somber intermissions with messages about Christian faith (which was met with unfaltering enthusiasm from the crowd) didn’t seem to slow the show down.
Perhaps what made Mineo’s show so energetic and engrossing was not only the charisma of the black-rimmed rapper himself, but also his onstage crew that carried each song to another level: DJ Dre The Giant mixed the show along flawlessly, Propaganda dropped prophetic bars to intermittently break up the pace, and the live drummer Black Knight went ham on kick and snare to give each performance a high-octane boost.
During one hilarious intermission, the entire Uncomfortable tour crew came to the stage to participate in what could only be described as a spontaneous dance-off to various love songs ranging from Beyoncé’s timeless pop single “Crazy In Love” to Haddaway’s Eurodance megahit “What Is Love.”
The crowd loved every moment. And one could tell the Uncomfortable crew did, too.
With the brilliant chemistry of both the crowd and the talented crew, Mineo stormed up the House of Blues with a wild show. He’s charging his way full-throttle through the seven-week tour that spans 26 cities in 19 states, and it seems like he isn’t going to slow down any time soon.
WNUR: I wanted to start with talking about your development as a rapper, you grew up in Syracuse if I’m not mistaken and moved out to New York City. I’m interested to know if hip-hop was a culture you were surrounded by from a young age and who you looked up to?
Mineo: Yeah, basically my brother bought me a Jay-Z CD and a pair of New Balance sneakers for Christmas one year and that kind of began my journey in listening to hip-hop. And then my other brother listened to Pantera and my sister listened to Usher so I had a very eclectic crew of people around me. They shared many different kinds of music with me and I think that’s why music is very eclectic but it has a hip-hop foundation.
WNUR: For sure, and definitely something you can hear in Uncomfortable. So talking about that album you’ve said your “other albums have sounded like playlists, this is a more focused body of work. It’s uncomfortable in its approach.” I wanted to ask what you mean by “uncomfortable in its approach.”
Mineo: For this project I really wanted to try to create a cohesive body of work, where it felt like the same producer or producers worked on it the whole way through. Instead of a jumble mixed thought I wanted to showcase a cohesive thought and that was a challenge for me because in the past I’ve just kind of let all my influences splatter onto the canvas in a sense. So I kind created a self-limiting system for myself and the guys we created the project with to try to push the boundaries in a different way creatively. For me it’s uncomfortable in its approach in a lot of ways: For one, every song is unique, every song is different, there’s no song on that album that is the same song twice even in format or style. And then also we’ve broken a lot of song structure norms, so these aren’t just your typical 16-bar rap verses, 8-bar choruses, songs. These are songs that evolve and grow and have different sections, and it’s kind of a journey for the listener. The songs tie in together thematically and musically as well.
WNUR: I really dug the jazz sample based, old school hip-hop vibe underlying a lot of the record. Is there something specific you were listening to when you were working on Uncomfortable?
Mineo: Nothing specifically, but I think a lot of my influences, just like loving the golden era of hip-hop and feeling that alot of the hip-hop today just kind of sounds the same, very trappy, southern and singy. I wanted to do something that I was inspired by and not just follow the trends of today. And that was a risk because it’s not popular and I was okay with embracing that risk and trying something that wasn’t sure to work, because one of my goals as an artist is to distinguish myself and set myself apart from other artists with not just my content but also sonically.
WNUR: Along that vein of being comfortable about what you are presenting, one of the big things I noticed listening to your record was how personal it is. Many of the songs touch on very personal subjects and then within that you tend to put your faith out there. Could you talk a little bit about that? Have hip-hop and your faith always been interrelated?
Mineo: I think hip-hop has always been a place for people to share who they really are or who they want to be. There is a high value placed on being ‘authentic,’ being ‘real,’ so I think I’ve just been following that trajectory. My relationship with God informs my entire life, and that’s why I tend to shy away from the term “Christian Rapper” because it feels like a gimmick to me. My relationship with God informs the way I do life, the way I do money, the way I do marriage, the way I do friendship, all those things, it even informs the way I think and the music I make. So the ideas of God and faith are all throughout my music because that’s a real part of my life, something that is more woven into who I am rather that sitting on top as an identity.
WNUR: I can definitely agree with that as a listener. Unfortunately that’s going to be our time, anything else to add?
Mineo: That’s it man, just come out to check out the concert. Andymineo.com has those tickets for The Uncomfortable Tour 2015.
These are our favorite Jazz & Improvised Music albums that came out in 2013. If you listened to the Jazz Show (M-F 5am-12pm) sometime in 2013, chances are you heard us giving one of these a good spin. It was a really tough choice to narrow it down to the top 10, but you’ll notice we have a convenient 6-way tie in the 10th position (^_-). Big congratulations to the artists on this list—may you continue to create amazing records long into the future. We are also extremely grateful to the labels and promoters who hooked up WNUR with so much fantastic music last year, keeping Chicago’s Sound Experiment as new and bold and fresh as ever.
By Svyat Nakonechny ’14
On my way to the DakhaBrakha show, as the cold and lonely after-rush-hour Chicago swam by, the band’s solemn “Nad Dunaem” (“Over Danube”) came on in my headphones. Between the pauses of the melodic vocals and the distant hums of the harmonic, I zoned out, only to come back to the far less pacific cannons of the Red line. And such was their concert – an alchemy of familiar tones spiced with crafted peaks of DakhaBrakha’s brilliant voices.
By the time Marko Halanevych thanked the generous audience for the first time (after the opener), the room was theirs. Then came “Oi za lisochkom” (“Far by the creek”), a fine crescendo of vocals and tender bass, a composition in the realm of its own. Iryna Kovalenko poured her sharp Old Ukrainian dialect into Nina Garenetska’s somber cello, then Marko’s resonant vocals stole our ears, all to Olena Tsibulska’s colorful drum tone.
Then there was a jazzy twist, a rhythmic tune about how to plant Ukrainian beans, but what DakhaBrakha sang mattered far less than how they did it, how they organically merged their poised voices and skillful multi-instrumentalism with the unknown to most of us ethnos, a mystical land that has seen much agony and far less joy, peoples firm in their melodies and witty in their tongue. Spontaneously all this cliffs back to Marko’s echo, back to a bizarre bag pipe-sounding flute, to the vivid atmosphere of the show.
Like true Ukrainians still hibernating after their late Eastern Orthodox Christmas, DakhaBrakha produces a schedrivka, a traditional well-wishing and celebratory tune, one I’ve never heard before. Again, splendid. Even my Peruvian neighbors agree.
In my conversation with Marko after the show (I admit, I pretended to have recorded it – “Can we do an interview for our listeners?” sounds substantially less preying than “I just want to talk about this music of yours”), a colleague interviewer asked about the environments in which the group prefers to play. The truth is that this journalist-y query fades behind DakhaBrakha’s virtuous performance, regardless of the venue or the quantity of hands clapping. With this band comes some strange ambiance, one that no mic can amplify and no record can reproduce. To an unfamiliar ear it’s all a beautiful sound contraption – mysterious, profound, virgin. To this humble servant, it’s a summer’s trip into the dense Ukrainian woods my six-year-old self used to make; it’s my grandmother’s painful but sweet lullaby, one I will never fathom hearing but will always shiver when I do.
All that’s left to do is pick up our jaws from the ground, for DakhaBrakha’s diapasons and vocal ranges are second to none. And all I can do is convulse in the ecstatic rhythm of “Carpathian rap.”
At some point I put my phone down and stopped taking notes. It’s shameful, but I couldn’t rack up bits and pieces of this mosaic. It’s unjust. To the quartet, to the audience, to the reader. I zone out again, then wake up to “Howard is next, doors open on the left on Howard.”
In case you missed this Friday’s Sonic Celluloid event at the Block, here’s a chance to listen to some of what you missed. Autumn Drones opened the night with a great score to Stan Brakhage’s “Prelude: Dog Star Man.” He posted it to his Soundcloud, so here it is in its entirety:
This edition of Torn From The Bible is dedicated to some of the more eccentric back-pages of the Rock Bible. Recommended reading for any fans of wacked out [sic] music.
Gratitude and appreciation, as always, to the Rock Show staff of yore who contributed these pages; some of them give themselves credit, and some don’t, but they’re all probably rad people.
Local label Thrill Jockey has been celebrating its 20th anniversary throughout 2012, with numerous shows and events across the country in Portland, New York, and Los Angeles. Tomorrow, the celebration will culminate at the Empty Bottle with a concert featuring Man Forever, the Sea and Cake, and Tortoise.
Since its inception, Thrill Jockey has supported a consistently fantastic roster of artists, from Tortoise to Daniel Higgs to Boredoms, and you can frequently hear Thrill Jockey releases on WNUR. I contacted some of the label’s artists to see why they think Thrill Jockey is a record label worth honoring, as well as their picks for their favorite Thrill Jockey records.
In this installment of our (semi-)regular Torn From The Bible feature, I pulled a few pages related to the early days of the UK Punk scene. Those for your reading pleasure after the break, plus a couple of DJ training sheets.
Gratitude and appreciation, as always, to the Rock Show staff of yore who contributed these pages; some of them give themselves credit, and some don’t, but they’re all probably rad people.