Archive for July, 2008

music interview: Paul Irish, founder of Aurgasm

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Paul Irish, Boston native and founder of www.aurgasm.us. It’s one of my new favorite music blogs that got me into Wallis Bird, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Aurgasm often shares entire tracks of the artists it features, so it’s an awesome opportunity to figure out if you really like the music or not. (I just wish they posted more often!)

Aurgam’s specialty is finding what hasn’t yet reached mainstream popularity. For example, Paul claims to be the first to discover Isreaeli artist Yael Naim that you may know from the Macbook Air commercial. At the time Aurgasm featured Naim, she wasn’t on Israeli radio, MySpace or even Wikipedia. Aurgasm takes full credit for jumpstarting her career. How about that?

The following are his words. Enjoy.

The Birth of Aurgasm

Aurgasm launched August of 2004, but it actually started when I was active in this song sharing community in LiveJournal. That’s how I got my first audience. Then with regular posting, the audience grew.

I try to be different from other blogs that do only indie rock. And while a lot of people like that style, I try to focus on the more eclectic: reggae, folk, funk, jazz, world beats.

Discovering Talent

I find who I feature in no typical or consistent way. A lot of it is just downloading a LOT of music, and then somewhere around 5% turns out to be good, 1% worth posting. Also, I have a lot of friends all over the world that tip me off to good music that’s taking off in their locales.

Supporting Musicians and ‘Illegal’ Downloads

Back in 2005, I went to this show at the Middle East. RJD2 was headlining and Diplo was opening, but no one knew Diplo at that point. After the show, I went back to the merch table and told him I was really into his track… “Summers Gonna Hurt You”. And then I offered, “Hey, man. I downloaded your music online. I don’t need your CDs, but here. Take 20 dollars.”

Music is social.

Within the past 2 years a really different kind of scene has emerged–as far as dance music goes–specifically electro.

Since dance music has a really short shelf life, everyone is really eager to hear the next new thing. If you go out to a club that’s a weekly spot, you expect to hear brand new tracks every time.

DJs know this, and a few mp3 blogs have become the epicenter for providing new music. Meaning on any given night, all the clubs around the world are playing the exact same tracks because that’s what was highlighted on those blogs. They create an instant sub-culture. Now, from Syndey to Stockholm to San Fran, people are out dancing to the same music. It’s like a globally shared experience.

Audition reminder! (Please tell your friends?) + First arrangement in MIDI

Thanks to my dear friend Mandy (an award-winning a cappella arranger!) my group has its first arrangement. We will be learning Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen. Here’s a midi version of her work. Yeah, it sounds like a piano right now. But I love it, and I think it’ll be awesome!

Also… I thought I’d take this as an opportunity to remind everyone the audition details. (I know, I know. Here I go again.)

I’d really, really appreciate it if you could help spread the word to any of your singer folk friends. This is going to be an incredible and exciting group once it’s officially formed, and we want to find as much talent as possible to be a part of it.

When: Monday, July 28th 7-9:30pm.

Where: St. Paul’s Church (15 Saint Paul St, Brookline, MA)

How to Prep: Be ready to sing a verse and a chorus of your favorite song, a cappella style. Other tests include a call and response exercise and sight reading.

Appointments: Auditions will be held in 10-minute intervals between 7-9:30pm. We suggest emailing prior to the audition day to schedule an appointment. Otherwise, walk-ins are absolutely welcome.

Thank you so much to those of you who have been incredibly supportive throughout this whole process. You guys are the best. We’ll sing for you whenever you want :)

And.. now for something silly!–This is from my old group, Boston University’s Chordially Yours. I’ve tweeted about this video before, but I still think it’s a lot of fun. I mean… do YOU sing on the T?

Listen. Love. Repeat. (#1): Wallis Bird

I’ve decided to start a new series where I “feature” a musician/band/song every week. I’m really big into obsessing over one or two tracks at a time, listening to them over and over again. Now you guys can know what’s stuck in my head.

Expect new stuff. Old stuff. Stuff you’ve heard before. Stuff you’ve forgotten about. It’ll be good.

This week is Wallis Bird. I first learned about her through Aurgasm, one of my favorite music blogs. (I actually plan to post an interview I had with the blog’s founder in the next week. So heads up.)

So why do I love her? For her incredibly authentic and multifaceted vocals. Her voice can be sweet–yet thoughtful–and also has a bit of an edge. Many of her songs start soft and jazzy, and generally get quite intense toward the end. Her sound is dynamic and smart, and her slight Irish lilt is adorable.

The first clip here is her video for “Blossoms on the Street.” The second is one of my absolute favorite songs, “The Circle.” Both are on her album Spoons.

So, what do you think? :)

A cappella update and why I love life.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve dedicated the summer to forming my own a cappella group. Starting a group from scratch has definitely been one of the most challenging/exciting things I’ve ever done, and I’m pretty pleased with its progression. First huge step was finding my co-founder, Miss Shelley Greenberg. Next was getting our rehearsal space; we’ve booked a BEAUTIFUL church sanctuary (OMG ACOUSTICS) where we will be incredibly spoiled.

Auditions are in exactly two weeks. I’ve been getting a great response from people wanting to try out, and I think there will be a pretty decent crowd. (Feel free to spread the word to any fellow Boston singers who might like to join a group. Please.)

I cannot wait until I start singing regularly again, in a formal rehearsal. As cheesy as it is, I whole-heartedly believe I would be a completely different person if I didn’t/couldn’t sing. I mean… I do it all the time. For example, my new apartment is entirely hardwood floors, and one of my favorite things to do is sing really, really loud while no one is home and echo through the hallways. Another prime singing time is dish washing. Or whenever I enter/exit a vestibule. Or while I blow dry my hair. (Don’t ask.)

When I was younger (we’re talking age seven or eight and in elementary school), I would swing on the swings and make up songs. For hours. At eight years old. Now, mind you, I also didn’t have very many friends at the time. But still, it’s really fun to think about how ingrained singing is in my life, even from day one. Do most people have something like this? Am I just lucky?

The other day while I was talking to my Mom, she told me that my grandmother had an incredible voice. Her dream was to travel overseas to sing for the WWII troops. I had no idea. Although both my parents took piano lessons when they were younger, I don’t have a very musical family (at least, immediate family), and I always wondered where “my voice” came from. It’s really cool to think that possibly my talent came from her.

Anyhow, let it be known that I am not the best singer in the world. I don’t think that at all, and that’s not the point. What I’m trying to emphasize is how important it is to be thankful for any special thing you can do. It’s a bit cliché and lame, but it’s true. What we do defines us. So why not do it well and be proud of it?