Category: Artist Profile


This article first appeared at No Ripcord on October 25, 2016.

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It’s a little after 10 p.m. on a Saturday night and the crowd at Sunnyvale in Brooklyn is silent and enraptured. Onstage, Emily Jane White’s fingers glide over the keys as she sings Hands, her voice echoing out and filling every inch of space in the venue. This is the reaction that meets White for most songs in her set, followed by applause and shouts of approval.

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Jan. 30, 2015.

Krokoff48

While Scott Krokoff’s passion is for music, he does have a day job as a practicing lawyer.

How does he manage to balance the two? By dedicating part of each day to his songwriting.

“As you can imagine, it can be quite difficult at times,” he said. “But on most days, I make sure to dedicate at least a few hours to music-related activity, whether it’s writing, practicing, recording, networking, booking shows or engaging with fans via email and/or social media.”

The Bayside-based musician creates Americana-flavored folk-rock and pop. Although each song is built around the melodies created by his acoustic guitar and his expressive voice, Krokoff’s music does not limit itself to one palate or style. Instead, he pulls in various elements, like warped guitar sounds, harmonica, organ and cello, to make each number stand out.

After releasing his debut, A Better Life, Krokoff started the Realizations & Declarations project. He is working on releasing several volumes of EPs that will eventually culminate in a full-length album. He started writing material for the record in 2009/2010, part of his efforts to refocus on his music. Although he started by recording a few acoustic versions of his songs at producer Bob Stander’s studio, Krokoff found that the full-band arrangements of those tracks came out even better. The EP is bookended by two versions of What The Hell, one acoustic and one full-band.

Realizations & Declarations Vol. 1 came out in November 2012. Krokoff hopes to have Vol. 2 out before the end of the winter, sometime in late February or early March.

Vol. 2 will differ from Vol. 1 in that most of the songs are new, although I will also include a re-edited version of ‘Sparrows,’ one of my oldest songs and one that appeared on the A Better Life record. As much as I love that song, it was too long and by shaving off around 30 seconds, it breathed new life into the song so I thought it was worth including that,” Krokoff said. “Aside from that, I think Vol. 2 is a little lighter than Vol. 1 was.”

Krokoff’s music has garnered some notice, as a couple of songs, A Better Life and Don’t, were featured during the third annual NY Yankees Hope Week segment on NBC’s “The Today Show.”

“One of the segment producers heard about my music from a fan of mine who works at NBC and edits these segments,” Krokoff said. “They thought [the songs] were great fits for these segments and the messages they intended to convey, like striving for a better life and not to give up no matter the odds.”

Besides releasing his new EP, Krokoff hopes to continue recording the third volume of the “Realizations & Declarations” series. You can expect to see him touring locally as well. To keep up with the latest news, visit www.scottkrokoff.com.

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Jan. 8, 2015.

jeneen-terrana

Since elementary school, Jeneen Terrana knew she wanted to become a singer.

“I remember telling my mom when I was in 7th grade that I wanted to be a singer,” she said. “In high school, I started auditioning for things and getting in! I was in the select choir, the musicals, and a few bands. Then, I auditioned for University at Buffalo and got into their music program.”

Terrana’s experiences at the University of Buffalo, studying classical voice for five years, would prove invaluable for the musical path that lay ahead. After earning her BA, the musician moved to Queens and started releasing work as a singer/songwriter. Her first album, Just Me, came out in 2002.

“As the title suggests, I was the only one working on the album so it got a little maddening but it was also a lot of fun,” she said. “I felt like every time I went to record, something amazing and unexpected would happen (usually by accident) and it made for some very unique moments in the songs.”

As the only person recording her album, Terrana had to program the drums and bass, play the guitar and keys and do all the vocals from a small room in her apartment. The process took eight months to complete.

Terrana followed that release with My Creation in 2007 and See The Light in 2011. For the latter album, she actually traveled to Lawrence, Kan. and worked on her demos with producer Mike West.

“In one week, he transformed them (with the help of some great musicians) to what you hear on the album,” Terrana said. “I had to completely trust him and his ideas so it was a little scary, but I was so thrilled at how it turned out.  He added beautiful instrumentation and really brought the songs to life.”

For her upcoming album, Fallin’, Terrana found another collaborative partner in Nick Howard. They spent a few months in his Queens studio, assembling the vocal performances and then built the tracks around them along with some rough sketches.

“I wanted something that was still me, but with a fresh, fun approach,” she said. “The songs started as a throwback to the 80’s but evolved into something current yet familiar.”

Terrana will hold a pre-release full-band show on Jan. 25 at The Living Room in Brooklyn. Joining her are several other local musicians, such as Brian & Silbin, Freeman Dre & the Kitchen Party, and Xavier Cardriche.

You should also keep an eye out for new episodes of JT’s Artist Oven, a cooking show on YouTube hosted by Terrana and featuring local Queens artists. For more, visit www.jeneenterrana.com.

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Dec. 31, 2014.

BadBuka

New York City is home to a nearly countless number of musicians. While that means there is something for everyone, it also means that it is difficult to stand out from the crowd. The Bayside-based Bad Buka though is truly a unique band that reflects the diversity of its home borough.

The nine-piece ensemble brings its Balkan gypsy blues to New York City’s collective mix of world music and punk attitude. Their music is passionately manic, bursting with energy from the instrumentation to the vocals. With trumpets and violins adding to the traditional guitar, bass and drums, these are songs that you can dance or rock out to. One thing you will not do when listening is keep still. After all, “buka” means noise in Serbo/Croatian.

According to guitarist Christofer Lovrin, the band’s inception came from the marriage between vocalist Slavko Bosnjak and M.C./backing vocalist Carla T. The two realized there was some common ground musically and they started writing together. Carla joined soon afterwards and the band grew from there.

“The way we played felt original, like something we never heard before and were excited about,” Lovrin said.

The group’s first release was the single, All The Angels, which came out in 2011. The song came out of the band’s love of old Romani and Mexican brass band music. Bad Buka molded this upbeat vibe with a punk rock sensibility to create something fresh.

“Slavko and I have a strange psychic connection on some level and things just kind of happen on their own after that,” Lovrin said. “We also really like mixing joviality with intense heightened energy. It seems to make for a healthy kind of craziness.”

Bad Buka’s followed that single with its debut album, Through The Night, released in February 2014. For this record, the band captured the intensity of its live shows, putting together 18 songs and then chopping that number down to those found on the LP.

While Through The Night may capture the feeling of a live concert, it is not the same as being there. When you are at a n show, you can not only hear the energy and passion coming from the band, but you can see it in action as well. According to Lovrin, Slavko, Carla and vocalist/percussionist Diana are natural performers who fit perfectly with the group’s vibe.

“I am and have always been about the groove and the energy level coming through really strong and finding song structures that keep it flowing,” Lovrin said. “I often want to feel like I could dance to the music. We have fun with mistakes on stage and let it feed our fire.”

Bad Buka has ambitious plans for this year, as the band wants to record the three albums’ worth of songs they have built up. The group also plans to play some more gigs as they work on evolving their sound and performance. To keep up with the latest, visit http://www.badbuka.com.

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Dec. 25, 2014.

Mishell

It should not surprise anyone that Natalie Mishell is originally from Southern California. If you listen to any of her songs, you can hear sun-soaked guitar strings and vocal melodies that sound like they were recorded on a beach. With a voice that can float like a gentle breeze or emote with the strength of a strong gust of wind, Mishell puts passion and playfulness into her blend of folk music.

The one-time Astoria musician can trace her musical style and interests back to the West Coast. Her parents introduced her to the major folk singer-songwriters and classic rock bands of the 1960s and 70s. Mishell specifically named Bob Dylan as her inspiration for starting to write her own music.

The songwriter moved to New York, looking for a change from Los Angeles.

“I want to explore and expand my horizons. New York seemed like a good place to begin a new chapter in my life,” she said. “I have been given a lot of opportunity in the area and have had the pleasure of playing with many talented artists, which in turn has helped my career a lot.”

Mishell plays with a bevy of musicians who have come and gone over the last five years. When she first moved to the City, Mishell met drummer Rich Pagano, who produced her debut, “In My Shoes.” This meeting was the genesis for Mishell’s network of musicians. For the last year and a half, she has been working with the same lineup.

For that first record, Mishell had to become familiar with the studio and its workings.

“The hardest thing though was not being familiar with the recording process and all the technicalities that come with it,” she said. “I was used to picking up a guitar and singing.”

While In My Shoes has a polished sound with many layers and textures, Mishell went a little rougher for her follow-up, Goodnight Stranger. Produced by JP Bowersock, the entire album was tracked in one 12-hour session, recorded live due to a limited budget, with overdubs added at a later date.

Goodnight Stranger sounds more like a live rock record,” she said. “I love them both for different reasons but they are two completely different sounds.”

Although that LP may have a live vibe, the actual concert experience is very different from the studio experience for Mishell. She said that the studio gives her an opportunity to try ideas that she would not be able to replicate in a live setting. On the other hand, when she is onstage, Mishell is all about making a connection.

“Playing live is all about performing and connecting with the audience from me. It’s about sharing yourself, telling stories and relating to people’s experiences through music,” she said. “Recording is about exploring and being creative, it’s about coming up with ideas and sounds that might not come across in a live setting.”

You can catch Mishell in concert on Jan. 30 at the Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2. The show starts at 6:30 p.m., with no cover fee. For more, visit http://nataliemishell.com.

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Dec. 18, 2014.

The-Locksmiths

When Robert Bock was singing to himself at work one day, one of his co-workers commented, “If you’re gonna change keys that often, you might wanna call a locksmith.”

Bock does not need a locksmith though. He already is one. Both he and his wife, Krissy Bock, make up the Bayside Americana duo, The Locksmiths. The two met each other when a mutual friend wanted to start a band with them. While that idea did not work out, Robert and Krissy stayed connected and started playing together.

Depending on their instrumentation, The Locksmiths have a couple of different sounds. When it is just the two of them, their music is folky, like Simon and Garfunkel or The Civil Wars. When they are playing electric instruments, augmented by drums, bass and fiddle, the band sounds more like alternative country rock, similar to Ryan Adams.

The group plays a mixture of covers and originals, a good way for them to earn some cash, get a crowd invested and get their own tunes out there.

“I always wanted to perform originals but it’s easier to reach an audience with songs that are familiar to them, especially if you’re trying to make money playing gigs,” Robert said.

A couple of the covers The Locksmiths have performed are I’ve Just Seen A Face by The Beatles and Down By The Water by The Decemberists.

“The covers we choose usually have a special meaning to us and our relationship,” Krissy said. “The originals are all Robert. He likes to tell stories that leave the listener thinking and feeling something new and different.”

Some of The Locksmiths’ original numbers are Nashville and Deluge/Wait. On the former, gentle acoustic guitar chords create a musical bed for Robert’s evocative, storytelling lyrics, which are supported by beautiful harmonies with Krissy. The latter came together for that initial project that led to Robert and Krissy’s meeting.

“It allowed me to step out of a comfort zone and try something new,” Robert said. “When that project dissolved I took the music and added lyrics. The words were a response to how I felt at the time, dealing with difficult emotions.”

Bayside and the surrounding communities have long been supportive of The Locksmiths, according to Robert. One night, the duo played an open mic at The Attic, a former Douglaston venue. The person who ran it, Stavros Theoharis, ended up becoming a good friend of theirs.

“He introduced us to a lot of other Queens-based musicians and recommended other venues for gigs. He even played with the band for a little while,” Robert said. “Once we started to establish a fan base in Queens, we felt we had more credibility going to bigger venues in Manhattan, like The Bitter End and Arlene’s Grocery.”

The Locksmiths are lining up concerts for next year and are recording an EP in the spring. To keep up with the band’s latest news, visit thelocksmithsband.com or www.facebook.com/thelocksmithsband.

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Dec. 11, 2014.

I Revere

I, Revere’s name came from a song Pauline Pisano (vocals/keys) and Jason Crawford (drums/keys) were writing called The Pawtucket’s of Revere. The theme of that track was about coming home, as Pisano is from Revere, Mass. According to the singer, the formation of the band created that same homeward feeling for all four members.

Pisano described the group’s sound as “an onslaught of sea creatures.” Listening to songs like Gemini, that’s a pretty good assessment. With Billy Brancato on the guitar and Jay Giacomazzo on bass, this four-piece is powerful and seething, taking its time before its music erupts, like a gentle sea that is unexpectedly disrupted.

The band came together as the result of two groups, a heavy instrumental trio and an indie rock trio, merging. The music takes the best of these two worlds, combining a near-metal vibe with melodic arrangements. All four of the members write together, giving each track a strong sense of cohesion. Their style and chemistry is fully on display on I, Revere’s first EP, The Lure of a New Harbor.

“For any new band, the recording process can be exhilarating and scary all at the same time,” Pisano said. “You found a bunch of people you love playing and writing with, you think there is value in what you have to say, and now it’s about to turn real. You could sink, or you could succeed, and both thoughts are actually a little scary.”

The Lure of a New Harbor is actually a concept record, telling the story of the 12th chapter in Homer’s “The Odyssey.”

“We wanted to address the nautical feel that our music is known for, and we are also all kinda nerdy, so going back to old texts and stories is fun for us,” Pisano said.

One of the biggest challenges the band had in recording the EP was figuring out when to stop. The drop-off that occurs once the process is done is also something the members faced.

Pisano said that once the exhilaration of recording and creating fades, people can wind up feeling down. Luckily for I, Revere, that period didn’t last long. The band is already back in the studio, working on its first full-length album.

The four-piece also credited Queens for their success, due to its diverse sounds and relaxing atmosphere. While Pisano has lived in Astoria a few times and Crawford is from Jackson Heights, the group’s rehearsal studio is in the former neighborhood.

“The place you practice in is super important; we actually attribute the ability to have long rehearsals because there are so many places to relax and unwind during a session,” Pisano said.

I, Revere is set to have a busy year in 2015. Not only is the band gearing up for the full-length release of The Return of Persephone, but it is also set to play the South by Southwest festival, followed by a tri-state summer tour. To learn more, visit www.ireveremusic.com.

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Dec. 4, 2014.

ekra

The Queens husband/wife duo of Ekra describes their musical style as “okapi,” after the African mammal. Also called the zebra giraffe, they are known for their distinct, strikingly lined markings. Like those animals, Ekra stands out with a unique signature.

The band plays experimental music that dips into the waters of shoegaze or progressive rock, but with an energy, passion and focus that draws you in. The couple, Lee (drums, vocals and keyboard) and Brendan (vocals, bass and keyboard) met on Craigslist in 2004, when Lee was looking to join a band. Once the two of them got rehearsing, along with a bassist who is no longer with the group, Ekra was born.

Over the course of three records, Ekra has moved from one challenge to another, some self-imposed and some from outside circumstances. For the band’s 2009 debut, Moons, the duo decided to carry on without their bassist by having Brendan switch to the instrument and removing guitars. Besides learning to write together, the duo also took on a construction project.

“We wanted to have the freedom to work at our own pace and really find our sound, so we decided to build a studio in our Jackson Heights apartment,” Brendan said. “We soundproofed the closets, built a drum riser for the electric kit, took a week off from work and nailed it. It was challenging, but we made some great memories.”

From there, Ekra recorded and released their second record, Men, in 2012. With three songs, each clocking at over 10 minutes, the album pushed the band into progressive rock territory. After the two of them went further musically then they had before, Ekra’s third album, Mouha, went in the opposite direction, restraining their songs in a much more difficult process.

“If Men was the equivalent to holding our breath, then Mouha was supposed to be the release. Instead, we restricted ourselves and the process was much harder than we expected,” Brendan said. “It’s transitional, the album you need to make before you really find a new path. We wanted a short and sweet album, and somehow we ended up with our darkest.”

Brendan added that Mouha, which came out this year, is about Ekra’s home in Jackson Heights and the experiences he has had in Queens. One of the songs is even called Queens Crawl, with a reprisal further down the album as well.

“I’m proud to be from Queens,” Brendan said. “There are a lot of hard working people struggling to survive, but still manage to find the passion and light in life. I think more than anything that mentality permeates Mouha.”

Ekra shows no signs of slowing down. The duo is already five songs into its new album, which they plan to release as an ongoing series on singles. The band also started a blog called Kiss Them For Me, reviewing bands from or passing through New York. You can check out the blog at http://xthem4me.tumblr.com and visit Ekra’s website at www.ekrasound.com.

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Nov. 27, 2014.

Silverteeth

If you listen to Shoes by Ridgewood’s Silverteeth, you will hear an energetic, hook-laden number that sounds like The Strokes playing surf rock. The combined efforts of singer/guitarist Bill Bartholomew, singer/bassist/keyboardist Gabriela Rassi and drummer Keith Robinson create instantly catchy songs that effortlessly float through the speakers.

Bartholomew and Rassi first met each other in an artist loft located in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Rassi had just moved to the City from Brazil and Bartholomew had created a do-it-yourself studio. Although the two members worked on their own at first, their financial situation soon drew them together with the idea of performing for tips on the subway. That interaction has subsequently led to writing original material and playing hundreds of concerts.

The name Silverteeth came from a drawing Bartholomew made of a monster with silver teeth. Rassi came up with the name and it stuck. The two musicians said it reminded them of one of their favorite albums, Summerteeth by Wilco, and favorite songs, Sea of Teeth by Sparklehorse.

Although Bartholomew and Rassi record and play together as Silverteeth, they still both write their songs separately, then contribute to the other’s work later on in the process. The band’s ultimate goal for writing is to reach and make new fans.

“We integrate each other’s ideas to improve the songs and production,” Rassi said. “We write to perform. So all the craft and thought that goes into the studio is just a means for us to keep reaching out to more people so we can play more shows.”

One of the best ways for New York bands to find new fans is through the CMJ Music Marathon. Silverteeth played two shows during the weeklong festival, one in a church in Williamsburg and the other for an official showcase by show curator Close Encounters.

Shoes is the band’s first live video/single they have released. It was filmed at the Columbus Theatre in Providence, R.I., Bartholomew’s hometown.

“We had seen the studio Jeff Prystowsky and Ben Knox Miller from The Low Anthem run inside the theatre and we knew from the start that we wanted to make something there,” Rassi said.

While neither Bartholomew nor Rassi are native New Yorkers, they have found a home in Ridgewood, where they live in an affordable, accessible location. While the neighborhood is not well-known for artistic endeavors, Silverteeth hopes to help change that.

“The artistic scene is still a little sparser than it was in Bushwick, but Emily Heinz, founder of the RAC, has been organizing meetings with Ridgewood artists and we’ve been trying to come up with ways to integrate the artists within themselves and with the community,” Rassi said.

You will have a chance to catch Silverteeth’s live set on Dec. 28 at The Ace Hotel in Manhattan. For the latest from the band, visit http://www.facebook.com/ilovesilverteeth.

This article first appeared at The Queens Tribune on Nov. 20, 2014.

AshleyXTina

When you listen to Ashley Xtina sing, there is no pretense, no mask, nothing but raw emotion, as she uses her voice and musicianship to make her emotions and experiences come alive.

While writing music has long been an outlet for the Astoria songwriter, recording her songs was another matter entirely.

“It was not only cathartic but also very empowering. Every time I listen to it, I can still feel every emotion I was feeling while I was writing and recording it,” she said. “Recordings are just very intense memories that if done well, you can really share with your audience and have them connect with it.”

You can hear those memories on Xtina’s first EP, Stability, which came out a few months ago. Her solo debut was the latest in a series of steps that boosted her confidence and abilities, until she was ready to put them to tape.

Xtina began performing in a rock/blues duo called Pretty in Blue. While the group had a short lifespan, the time spent playing concerts in local bars was essential to her growth as a musician.

“I will forever be grateful for Pretty in Blue for opening my eyes and making me realize that I am indeed a singer and a songwriter,” Xtina said. “Being a singer is easy, but baring your soul to an audience with songs that you’ve written about your own life is a whole different story.”

Besides the challenge of emotionally exposing herself to an audience, Xtina also struggled with funding the EP and deciding what form the songs should take. Through lots of saving and crowdfunding, she gained enough cash to record. Finding a genre was a little harder, but with the help of her producer, Xtina settled on a piano-filled sound that lets her conjure whatever emotion she wants through her voice and through the keys.

Although she works on reaching an emotional apex when recording a song in the studio, Xtina said that her concerts are all about reaching out to the audience.

“I feel that playing live lets you connect with the audience more, meanwhile studio recording lets you really connect with yourself,” she said. “I often find myself changing things in songs while onstage depending on the crowd. In the studio, it really depends on the mood you set for yourself.”

In addition to her solo work, Xtina is a member of Queen of Wands, an all-woman rock band where she plays bass guitar. Meeting a fellow musician on bandmix.com, the three-piece quickly came together and started playing shows in September.

“It’s really nice to have people to bounce ideas off of, especially when they’re as talented as my bandmates are,” Xtina said.

Queen of Wands is aiming to record a demo in the near future.You can follow the band at www.facebook.com/QueenOfWandsBand. For Xtina’s solo career, visit www.ashleyxtinamusic.wordpress.com.