Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Esperanza Spalding

This NPR artist profile includes a lot of recorded interviews with Esperanza. Some are stories of her successes and awards, some are interviews on her musical style and works, and some are interviews on her opinions and activities with certain social justice issues.

On the official Esperanza Spalding website, this all-about-me section covers her history as a young musician and tells the story of how she got to where she is today.

The Wikipedia page on Esperanza gives a good list of her awards and accomplishments, and includes her discography.

More than anything, I find Esperanza’s incredible sense of time and space in her compositions and solos absolutely mesmerizing. Whether she’s on stage with a big band, accompanying a combo featuring an old-time jazz superstar, or by herself with bass and voice, her musicality is tasteful, sensitive, and passionate beyond belief. The way she fuses old jazz influences with modern pop influences to create her own unique style introduces a fresh, innovative, illustrative listening experience for the observer. Her music is too groovy to handle, and she’s my go-to artist for inspirational, peaceful listening. Aside from groove and musicality, her music sends messages--regarding equality, love for all people and for the world, and natural beauty. Another stand-out quality of this artist is that she was so talented and involved at such a young age. She enrolled in music school at Portland State University when she was 16, ended up at Berklee, and started teaching at Berklee at age 20. She’s won many, many outstanding artist awards and played with countless jazz legends, laying it down with crazy technique with both the upright bass and her voice.

Here's my favorite video from an NPR Tiny Desk Concert:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lucas Pope
Papers Please is a video game by Lucas Pope where you play as border guard who inspects the paperwork of travelers coming into your country which is inspired from the USSR. The game has you balance the moral problems of the people coming into your country while being the only working member of a family of five. The unique mechanic for the game is that you spend the entire time doing paperwork in a shack for the whole game but it remains engaging.
Papers Please has become quite famous as a game that is a work of art for the emotional impact it has.
In this interview Lucas Pope explains his thinking behind his game.

Papers Please shows the capabilities of video games as art in many ways. In the simplest way it changes the options of methods of gameplay as the game being a paperwork simulator is unique in the games industry. In a more complex way Paper Please shows how video games can be a life that you live and experience to show you the struggles of the people in the world. This game how ever is not my favorite example of a game as a work of art though one of the more famous. My problems with the game are that I am too good at it and the great aspect of this game is balancing act of providing for your family or helping other if you are really good with comparing paperwork. My other problem is that large parts of the game are procedural generated and while this gives replay value and I do shed a tear for the handcrafted parts it is hard to feel emotional for ones and zeros. Despite all of this I do feel that this game got the respect it deserves and my opinions are person really.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lana Del Rey

“My goal is to be a good person who lives with dignity and grace.”

Lana Del Rey, real name Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, is an American singer/songwriter from New York who became an instant internet sensation after posting her first single in 2011, "Video Games". However, her first song "Kill Kill" was released under the name Lizzy Grant in 2009. Before becoming famous, she was a teenage alcoholic who cleaned up her act and then went on to study metaphysics at Fordham University. After signing her first contract, she moved into a mobile home in New Jersey; when her first album got shelved, she went on to help addicts and the homeless. Also, shortly after her single hit was released, Lana won a string of awards, including Q's Next Big Thing award, and Pitchfork's Best New Song.

There are a lot of people who might believe that Lana Del Rey is a bad role model but in my opinion I find her to be an inspiration to women and I have a lot of respect for her turning her life around and really becoming somebody. I like brave women who are truthful about their experiences, and Lana Del Rey has proved to be one. She writes her own music, takes control of her image, she has a unique sound, and she’s honest in interviews. She’s a woman blazing her own career, even though it failed the first time she tried, as Lizzie Grant. So she changed her name and kept going, worked hard, and now she’s met with success.

The article below discusses the life before Elizabeth Woolridge Grant was a star and how she grew to become Lana Del Rey. It starts off by discussing her love for her fans and how she will fight through an illness and perform in order not to disappoint her fans. It then goes on to discuss her life, the present and past, and also her music.

The link below is an article discussing Lana's fixation on mentioning famous icons in her music such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, etc. The main theme of the article is that Lana Del Rey is who she is and she doesn't care what anyone says or thinks about her.

The following link is Lana Del Rey's first commercial hit "Video Games", which is responsible for sparking up her success. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris

(Photo taken by me)

Calvin Harris is one of the most famous DJ's out there to date. His songs are heard internationally and are greatly appreciated in the EDM(Electric Dance Music) world. He was born in Dumfries, Scotland on January 13, 1984 and has been producing music since 2002. His earliest success was when he was eighteen: the songs "Da Bongos" and "Brighter Days" club singles and CD-EP by the Prima Facie label in early 2002 under the name Stouffer. Nowadays he has world wide hits such as "Sweet Nothing," "We Found Love," "Summer," and "I Need Your Love." Harris holds the record for the the most top ten hits from one studio album, surpassing legends like Michael Jackson, according to the UK Billboards. As of 2013, Forbes announced Harris as the highest-paid DJ of 2013 and still is currently to date.
This link will lead to to the Calvin Harris page on Billboards website. here you can see all his recent intereviews, his chart history, some more information about him, and recent pictures of the Swedish DJ.

This link will lead you to the Harri's page on Forbes website. Here you will be able to see information about Calvin's net worth, yearly income, and general information about him. He is ranked #21 on the Celebrity 100 list.

This link will lead you Calvin's own website, but directs you straight to his tour dates and locations. Recently he has signed with major clubs in Vegas to host big events and bring in more tourists. I was one of those people and was very lucky to see him a few short weeks ago there. He has some major shows planned for the rest of the year, so I wish him good luck!


Banksy is the alias of a British street artist, painter, film director, and political activist. His true identity is unknown and has not been identified over the 20 years he's been active. His work, of mostly satirical pieces on politics, pop culture, morality and ethnicities, are a combination of graffiti writing and stencils. His work can be seen on streets, walls, bridges, and billboards of large cities. I believe he is worth recognising ecause he inspires change and challenges ideas. Much of his work influenced me to rethink social norms in a new perspective portrayed by his art. Also, because he chooses to remain unnamed, much of his work go unverified; but the idea and style behind his art is so unique that banksys' signature becomes the painting itself. I think that is something many artist aspire for- an identity.

This website is allegedly created by Banksy and it exhibits his work. It divides the work into art he has done on the street and art displayed in galleries. There is also a Q and A section. 

This article from fast company describes irony and satire in the Banksy's documentary "Exit through the Gift Shop". A read through will give a deeper understanding of Banksy's purpose behind the film and his street art. 

This website is a great source of interviews, videos, and articles about Banksy. The site gives a thorough biography of him and displays much of his work. You can also view art of his that has been sold or are for sale. 


A talented and ground breaking artist, July has worked in the mediums of film, sculpture, and writing, through short stories and a new novel, as well as through musical and performance art endeveors.
She is known for her idiosyncratic style, which unites her work in varied fields into a whole, and makes it possible to that they are all the work of one artist. She is most well known for her film "You, Me, and Everyone We Know", although she just released her first full length novel

This is Miranda's website, which is a great place to keep up on her constant and varied projects. In addition to her large endeveors, such as her two films and her novel, she has constant, and usually very interesting, side projects. One of her most recents is an app called Somebody, which allows you to send a message to a person by it first going to a stranger in close proximity to them, who then tells the  intended recipient verbally what your message is. 

This website has a very interesting selection of interviews with Miranda, which are all from one sitting, but are conveniently split up into short segments by subject. This allows the viewer to pick which ones are the most interesting to them and skip around between subjects. Miranda discusses her approach to art, her childhood, and her impending motherhood. She is very open, and has a way of bringing you in to her inner world easily and insightfully. 

Miranda's most recent project, "The First Bad Man",  is a full length novel that was published earlier this year. This was an exciting new endeavor for her, and this review gives a good synopsis of what the book is about, as well as a feeling of her unique writing style. One excerpt it highlights: "At its best, the system gives me a smoother living experience. My days become dreamlike, no edges anywhere, none of the snags and snafus that life is so famous for. After days and days alone it gets silky to the point where I can't even feel myself anymore, it's as if I don't exist."

Mirand's Twitter is always a good place for insights and laughs.

Thomas Calloway

This website offers some general informations about Gnarls Barkley and what bands he has been in.

This is a great website to get a feel for Gnarls Barkley’s unique style.

One of the main reasons I like Gnarls Barkley’s music is because his hip-hop style is poetic, uplifting and positive. This website has the lyrics to some of his songs

I originally discovered Thomas Calloway when listening to some underground hip-hop music that my older brother introduced to me called “Goodie Mobb” when I was in middle school. At that time Calloway’s M.C (master of ceremonies) name was Cee Low green. Like many artists his M.C name has changed a few times throughout his career. When listening to his music I was initially drawn to his raw, inspiring and soulful poetic style. It was refreshing to listen to a hip-hop artist that had catchy beats along with lyrics of a positive nature. I also like how he has a raw poetic style in his music but you can tell by listening to his lyrics that he also does not take himself that seriously. I seem to be drawn to deeper lyrics but it can be kinda a turn of for me when lyrics are so serious and there is no playfulness or lightness within them. I find that Calloway’s style is a fine mesh of seriousness and lightness.

John Mayer

"One of the best things you can do for yourself as a person is to practice having no opinion about most things you hear or see." - John Mayer

John Mayer, the singer and song writer of our generation has been famous for his blues rock and acoustic genres of music since the early 2000's. His soulful sounding voice became publicly known after signing with Aware Records in 2000. Most people know him for his most popular hits, "Your Body Is A Wonderland" and "Waiting on the World to Change." His appearances on talk shows like  the Ellen DeGeneres show and his past relationships with the famous singers, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry also brought John Mayer into the public eye in a big way. He has won many awards and is now a common household name. Aside from his musical talents, he is also an aspiring writer and producer. John Mayer will always be on my go-to playlist when I want something calm and relaxing to listen to. He has a beautiful voice that would brighten anybody's day. : This site is interesting because it publishes John Mayer's "tweets" that he posts daily on the front page. Also, if you click on the upper-right tab you can find his tour dates, as well as his merchandise that you could purchase. : On this site you will find that there is a small article about the musician, presenting "fun facts" about him and his music career. It also has a biogrophy with a timeline showing his most famous ablum "Room for Sqaures" and a reasoning behind one of his songs, "Your Body is a Wonderland." : Here is a youtube link to his latest single, "XO" which most of you may recognize. The song has been playing on the radio for about a year now and was recently released on the online music stations, Spotify and Pandora. 

Meryl Streep

        Meryl Streep is a beautiful and talented award-winning actress. She was born in New Jersey in 1949 and began her career in New York, appearing in several Broadway productions. She has stared in many films including Out of Africa, The Deer Hunt, and Iron Lady. Maryl Streep is one of my favorite actress’s because she is so versatile and is able to play so many different characters. She is incredibly intelligent and agile, someone many people look up to, She is extremely successful with her career and has received 29 Golden Globe nominations and won eight, which is more than any other actor or actress in history. 

This link will take you to Meryl Streep’s Biography. It offers a video you can watch about her life, career highlights, and discusses the major roles she has played throughout her career. 

Simplystreep is a webpage that serves the latest and greatest on Meryl Streep. There is information about her career, updates, videos, pictures, and everything you want to know about this talented actress.

This link will take you to an article from US Weekly posted on February 20th 2015. It goes through a time line starting in 1979 through 2014 addressing all of Meryl Streep’s nominations for an Oscar award.

Dave Matthews Band

Dave Matthews is a South African singer-songwriter, and lead vocalist and guitarist of the Dave Matthews Band, which began in 1990. He has also released several solo works, including Some Devil, of which the song Gravedigger won a Grammy 2004. I personally chose Dave Matthews because of his incredibly unique perspective on life, which shows through in his music.  His unusual upbringing and past have allowed him to craft a perspective and music that has been so influential in my life, and surely in the lives of others.

Dave Matthews Band Official Website
This link will take you directly to the Dave Matthews Band website, where you can view information on upcoming shows, tours, albums, see photos and videos, follow the artist on various social media sites, purchase clothing and other band-themed items, and even listen to their music. What I especially like about the official Dave Matthews website is the gallery of photos they have to browse. The gallery features photos and videos from a wide variety of their shows in different cities and venues. The passion the band members have for their music is evident in every picture and frame of the gallery, allowing you to experience the music visually in addition to experiencing it audibly.

Dave Matthews Biography
This link will take you to a detailed biography of Dave Matthews. Here you can read all about the artist's past, his early work, and the formation of the band and follow their work and how it has evolved throughout their long history of success.

The Devil in Dave Matthews: Rolling Stone's 2004 Cover Story

This link will take you to an amazingly insightful article and interview Rolling Stone published in 2004 right before Matthews was to release his first solo album, Some Devil. This album has a central theme of death throughout all the songs. This interview and article sheds some light onto the making and the mental state (in Matthew's own words, "tormented") behind the artist's first solo work. It would seem the singer's past with death (his father, sister, and childhood friends all passed away during his childhood) has had an immeasurable effect on his work.

This link will take you to the Dave Matthews Band YouTube channel. Here, you can explore countless videos of the band performing, interviews, and more. I highly recommend watching any of the videos of the band performing, because it is by watching them play that you can experience the passion, the talent, and the love they hold for their music, which I think is an amazingly beautiful thing.  The way they play together is seamless and lovely.  By watching them play, you can fully experience their music.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Alvin Ailey 
"Making dances is an act of progress; it is an act of growth, an act of music, an act of teaching, an act of celebration, an act of joy."- Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey Jr. is considered one of the most influential American dancers of all time. He was born in 1931 in rural Texas. When his parents divorced, he moved with his mother to Los Angeles where he was introduced to dance at Lester Horton’s Hollywood dance studio. There, Ailey studied various classical and modern dance techniques that allowed him to create his unique smoldering performance style. At the age of 23 he moved to New York to pursue his career. He eventually began the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a studio where he encouraged the dancers to create and present their own unique and individualized performance style.
Ailey’s dance style incorporates classical ballet and modern dance techniques as well as social and folk dances. When choreographing, he drew upon his experiences being raised as an African American man before the time of racial equality.His most popular work, Revelations, is meant to tell the story of the persistence of African American spirituality from slavery to freedom. All aspects of his dances are meant to portray something, from the stage lighting to the way the dancers’ muscles tense and release. Ailey tried to do more with his dances than just tell stories. He wanted to give African Americans a chance to express their history and experiences through dance.
My mother first introduced me to Alvin Ailey when his dance company came to Seattle many years ago. At the time I was dancing ballet at a rather conservative school, and becoming a little bored with it. When the performance began, I was blown away. I had never seen a ballet with such an odd and vast array of influences. This performance demonstrated to me that not all dancers need to have a certain body shape or dance style. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater inspired me to appreciate and develop my own unique performance style.

Alvin Ailey is one of the most influential dancers not only because of his unique and mesmerizing performance style but also his accomplishments. He was able to forge his own career in a time when African Americans were not considered equals. Ailey created his own unique dance style in a discipline that did not allow for much variation. Although Alvin Ailey passed away 26 years ago, his choreography and dance company continue to awe and inspire audiences and dancers worldwide.

This link will take you directly to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s website. Here you can also explore more about the company today; calendar of performances, classes available to the public and dancers, and more about the people who run the company.

This is a PBS article detailing Alvin Ailey’s life and the history of his dance company. Here, you can read about his passion for dance, the history behind the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and those who helped start and run it.

This is Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Vimeo profile. You can watch clips of performances and from both the professional and amateur classes. When watching, notice how the dancers utilize space horizontally and vertically and the lines and shapes created by the dancers’ bodies. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp is well-known for being one of the most talented actors of our generation. He's notorious for playing eccentric, outlandish, and misunderstood characters. He's known worldwide and has won the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild award for best actor. However, besides being an actor he's also a producer and musician. I personally really enjoy the wide variety of work that Johnny has done and think that others would enjoy learning about his endeavors as well.

The following link shows all of the work that Johnny Depp has done. It's comprised of a list of the movies that he's has been in, movies he's produced, and music he's created,  It also includes some background on Johnny and a brief biography.

This link covers in depth how Johnny rose through the ranks to become the household name that he is today. The website has all the different work he's done and how it has impacted his career. Additionally, it reports on his personal life throughout the years.

The article here is a detailed interview with Johnny Depp on his career, how he managed to get to where he is today, and where he wants to go in the future. They discuss everything from some of his most famous movies to the details of his personal life.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga, born Stephani Germanotta, is a very controversial singer/songwriter in today's world of music. Society focuses on the very exotic and flamboyant costumes and outfits that she wears and the bizarre performances she puts on, but what most people don't realize is just how talented and devoted to her fans she is, as well as her leadership and involvement in the LGBT community. After I heard her first big hit "Just Dance" in 2008, I have loved watching old performances, watching interviews, and attending her concerts. Lady Gaga stands for equality and the celebration of diversity, and I believe she is an excellent role model and hero for many people around the world. 

In the following article, New York Entertainment describes the life of Lady Gaga. It focuses on her upbringing, her climb to fame, and her image. Though it is a bit outdated, There is some great information straight from Gaga herself about what she was like growing up, and how hard she worked to get to where she wanted to be.

In this article, Lady Gaga's participation in the LGBT community is addressed. It mentions her own sexuality, as well as the nonprofit antibullying organization that she developed. Lady Gaga is very outspoken about her opinions on gay rights and about being yourself. This article gives examples of all the things she does to prove herself.,1
Lastly, I think it is really important to show an early performance of Gaga before the fame. This is one of my favorite performances, as it shows her raw talent, as well as her passion for music.

Lady Gaga may be just a pop star to you, but to me and many others, she is a role model. Not only is her music upbeat and fun, but the messages within the songs, and Gaga's activism in human rights is truly inspiring. She walks the walk, as well as talking the talk, and is much more than just a strange woman in a meat outfit. Be yourself, celebrate others, and just dance.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sam Hunt

Spreading the Music

Sam Hunt started his early high school and college years focused on athletics.
As he felt his passion grow he decided to head to Nashville and try his hand in the music industry.
Starting with little knowledge of the business aspect of music Hunt has made a large
wave in through the creation of his unique sounds. Writing for well known artists such as Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, and Billy Currington, Hunt has successfully integrated himself into the industry as both singer and song writer. His unique blends of country, R&B, hip hop, and gospel have earned him captivated audiences and number one hits.
As an avid country music fan I was immediately drawn to his music. His unique style and ability to blend multiple musical genres seamlessly has drawn followers with a variety of musical tastes.
It has also created controversy between fans as to whether or not his music fits into the category of country music or whether it should be deemed something else.
Even for those who are not interested in country music,
from the soft sounds of Hunts acoustic recordings to his more R&B and pop styles,
 I recommend taking the time to listen and form an opinion.

ACM Awards 50 Years

This website is an overall picture of Sam Hunt. It discusses the misconceptions often associated with Hunt’s career and delves into his childhood and first explorations in country music. It outlines his late discovery of his love of music and composition.


Sam Hunt Plays Down-home Diplomat of Edgy Country Music

I found this online article to have great reviews of songs written by Hunt for other artists and his own albums. It discusses his struggle with his own armature style and his partnerships with more “refined” song writers. It also discusses his transition from his career as a college athlete to a musician in Nashville. 


Sam Hunt: Debut Spotlight

This article spotlights Sam Hunt’s debut on the country music scene. It also discusses artists he has worked with and written songs for. The majority of the article is focused on his interests and inspirations, other artists he follows, and the influences of his family on his career.


No Really, Sam Hunts "Montevallo" is NOT Country

Another interesting article I found focuses on the differentiation between country music and other genres. There are posted opinions on whether or not Hunt’s music is considered country or pop. There are comparisons to other artists that have previously switched genres. If people are interested in reviews of Hunt’s music and style this is a good place to look. It discusses the effect of songs labeled as country that should be labeled as something else on the “identity” of country music as a whole.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Above and Beyond is a group that primarily focuses on trance music. It consists of Tony McGuiness, Paavo Siljamaki, and Jono Grant. They embody all the values that electronic music should be: a free form of expression, where everybody can appreciate each other’s diversity without fear of judgment. Since their start in 2000, they have started two record labels Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep. One of the main reasons for this is to help put out younger, talented DJ’s and producers and make them known. Some may argue the 2000’s are the decade of electronic music, coming out with more artists than ever before. The house music scene in particular has been exploding. Above and Beyond realizes this and seizes the opportunity to work with artists that may not be as well known. They host a weekly radio show called “Group Therapy” as another way to promote themselves and their label. Listeners tune in from all over the globe to listen to what music is of concern to them at the time. The fact that they put this show out for free every week shows a continuing commitment to their fans. In fact, when I first heard about the group, it was because of their show. Music is something to be shared and enjoyed together, Above and Beyond recognizes this and strives to make everyone’s day brighter.

The group’s main website, is the best place to learn about the individual artists as well as find out about tour dates or other news.

On the group’s soundcloud page you will find a mix of their newest releases, samples of their Group Therapy show, as well as any radio show that the group has been on recently.

Here is a link to their main record label, Anjunabeats. On it you will find info about the label itself, as well as the artists on it.

I thought it was worthwhile to include their sublabel, Anjunadeep. It was started in order to exclusively focus on the genre of deep house.

Mariyln Monroe: Actress, singer

Norma Jeane Mortenson
"Marilyn Monroe"
Marilyn was the most beautiful actress in the film industry in the 40's and 50's. There were so many people amazed by her beauty and the way she carried herself. She had a passion in acting and wanted to find the love of her life, however, she failed a few marriages due to her career and also being a sex icon.

Not only was Marilyn a sex icon and an amazing looking woman who loved acting, there are stories of her life many people don't know including how she grew up and what she was dealing with during her time. Because of the amazing/not so easy life, this makes Marilyn more than just an icon, but a strong woman who fought for her life.

Around the time Marilyns life ended, there were circumstances that had lead her to this point. People in the industry started making negative comments and talking down to Monroe. She had producers who loved her, and some who just took her a joke, though, she never lost her humor and kept smiling. There were definitely a lot of events in her life that made her shut down in a way that she never presented.

Monroe bloomed in the film industry more than anyone and enjoyed every opportunity. She had a passion that people could see and some forgotten, which made indivuduals want to be just like her, and still to this day. She was 36 when she had passed and was in the industry for 16 years being in almost 30 films. Despite the look of being a sex symbol, Monroe was a girl who fought for her career and carried on strong no matter what tribulation she faced.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shawn Barber: Painting Tattoo Culture

Shawn Barber

Shawn Barber is an accomplished painter, illustrator, tattoo artist and the occasional teacher. He resides in San Francisco, working out of his private studio, and his public tattoo studio Memoir Tattoo.  His most recognizable works include a large body of paintings which document contemporary tattoo artists, their tattoos and the themes the artists themselves reside in. 

I began moonlighting as an oil painter during my fifth year as a professional tattoo artist, and developed a strong affinity for Shawn Barbers approach to tattoo art, on the skin, and in the gallery. He is classically trained, something I’m working towards, and works to push the boundaries of tattoo art both technically, and artistically.

This is his personal website that has the most comprehensive examples of his body of work. It includes images of his tattooed portraits, tattoos, misc. works along with his bio.

Interview, which includes his daily art routine, insight into technique, and examples of work.

Video containing a brief visit to his studio, which includes his background and status as of 2007.