Talking With Kaki King

When you can do something as well as Kaki King can play a guitar, there's just no telling where it might take you. With her latest album, she's found yet another new way to do what she always seems to do -- to find great music in a guitar and play it like very, very few people can. This time, though, there's something else. Her latest album isn't just an album, it's also a carefully imagined multimedia performance. In The Neck is a Bridge to the Body, King makes her way calmly through eleven tracks of showcase quality composition, but for those who see her perform it live, there's even more. On stage, all of it is framed in additional new dimensions of light, projection and picture. (from Johnny Nevin's story at The Huffington Post)

Johnny Nevin's story Light in the Music and Music in Light, Kaki King's Off on a New Adventure appears this week in The Huffington Post, but there was much more that Kaki King had to say about the project when Johnny spoke with her about it. Here are some excerpts from their conversation …

Johnny: How did you come to this musically? I get the impression from what I've read that it's definitely part of a journey.

Kaki King: Well, the music and the visuals, they can't really be separated, I mean I can't tell one story without telling the other. But about the record, I had this idea in my head to create a projection-mapped guitar show, and then I would write music. It would just be solo guitar. I would send some demos, to the collaborators, and they would send stuff back to me. You know, sometimes just internet photos, like do you like A or B? Or, which look are you trying to go for more? Like, is it this sort of flashy thing, or this puffy thing? Then they would supply me with the visual imagery that they were thinking about. Then, because I then had this new imagery coming at me I would write music to fit that — I would shape the music I had already written to fit in more.

So I'd be like, well this is great but it really needs a pedal that does like a wah effect with a delay, so that the music sort of looks and sounds more like this globulous mass. That's kind of how it worked. It was really, and still today is a constant back and forth. I'm able to change a lot, I'm able to change the music, I'm able to change the visuals, in most circumstances one or the other, and so I'm still looking and I'm still listening. I'm still adjusting to kind of make it fit as well as I can.

Photos by Johnny Nevin

How to Just Keep Bringing It: Rui da Silva Makes Some New House Music

Rui da Silva (Courtesy of Rui da Silva)
Rui da Silva (Photo courtesy of Rui da Silva)
It's Your Love Cover Art (Courtesy of Enhanced Music)

Rui da Silva has a brand new record out — it's a collaboration with New York producer Duane Harden called "It's Your Love", and there are quite a few things about it that could end up getting it heard a lot. The classic arc of the songwriting, Joe Killington's full-gear vocal, and the carefully colored production from da Silva and Harden are just some of the things that could make it a stand-out moment in a career that's had quite a few of those already.

Rui da Silva is a House producer from London who has been releasing quality track after quality track for a while now. One of the scene's most respected voices, he's been finding new sounds, new ideas, and new ways to discover what House music can be ever since he traded in his bass guitar for an early generation of analog drum machines and samplers.

He discovered House music in the early nineties, when he was playing bass in a garage band in his native Lisbon. "It was pretty hard to keep everybody interested in the band," he remembers, "and I realized that with House music you could just do it all on your own. So I just jumped into that, and got a bit of equipment. I got a couple of magazines to figure out what people were using and just took it from there."

The rest of the world first heard what he was doing when he and DJ Vibe, calling themselves Underground Sound of Lisbon, recorded a track called "So Get Up". They sent a promo copy to New York — just one — with no contact info on the label except a phone number and part of a map of Lisbon. Night after night for six months, Junior Vasquez banged it in his legendary Sound Factory sets, until finally TRIBAL America's Rob di Stefano got the phone number off the record and tracked da Silva and DJ Vibe down in Lisbon.

With the TRIBAL America release, "So Get Up" became a world-wide House phenomenon. "It created a new sound that didn't exist," da Silva says, "because our influences were quite unique. We were consuming techno from Detroit, house records from New York, and some sounds from the UK, and we were just trying to figure out our own dance music." That's something da Silva has never stopped doing — figuring out his own dance music. As a musician, he's exceptional in more than a few ways, but one of the most striking is the way that he always seems to be just beginning his journey. What makes that even more unusual is that it's already been quite a ride.

After a few more years in the Lisbon scene that he had helped to create, da Silva decided to move to London. "It was a risk, but I felt that I was at a place that I could not move further," he recalls, "so it was either just settle for where I was, or take a chance and move further. I decided to move further." Much further, as it turned out, topping the UK charts with a record he did with Cassandra Fox called "Touch Me", co-founding Kismet Records, and releasing a mesmerizing sequence of widely admired tracks. In 2015 alone, he has more than a dozen new releases as an artist (and several more as a remixer) that cover a multi-chromatic spectrum of style, texture and sound. "I'll always expect to find new sounds," he says.

Smile, You're On the Radio: Go Country, Tonya Campos and Mo Pitney's "Boy and a Girl Thing"

So how does a song even get on the radio anyway? How does it happen, that great moment when you're listening to the radio and you hear that song you like?

There could probably be a lot of stories about how that happens, because a lot of songs get played on a lot of radio stations. But even when you find out how just one song got on one radio station, it turns out that it's more than just one story. It's a lot of different stories about a lot of creative people, and here's a good example.

Mo Pitney has a brand new song called "Boy and a Girl Thing", a carefully crafted, catchy-as-can- be, guitar-driven groove about all the things that happen between boys and girls. Tonya Campos is the Program Director at KKGO, better known to everybody in Los Angeles as Go Country 105. Like Program Directors at radio stations all around the country, she's right in the middle of figuring out what song you want to hear when you listen to her station. The reason that's a good example is because Go Country is playing "Boy and a Girl Thing" on the radio.

Mo Pitney (Photo by Johnny Nevin)

Photo Friday: Dylan Scott and "Crazy Over Me"

Curb Records recording artist Dylan Scott and his stage-scorching band rolled into Chicago for a show at the legendary Joe's Bar on Weed Street last week. Forty-five minutes before the show, Joe's was packed wall to wall with a thousand of his fans, and when he broke into his new single "Crazy Over Me" most of them could sing along, even though it wouldn't be released for a week.

Dylan Scott is an artist whose fans are so enthusiastic about his music that every new thing he does gets massive attention, even if some of it stays under the big media radar. When Curb released the "Stripped" version of "Crazy Over Me" on video in late July, so many of his fans found it, watched it and shared it that by the time he got to Chicago just a few weeks later, the sold out crowd already knew it like it was a hit.

When I talked with Dylan Scott last fall for a story here at and at The Huffington Post, it was really clear how important his band is to him. "I've got my brother playing electric guitar for me, and he's a guy who will just rip it up. And then his best friend, who's actually from Louisiana as well, is a phenomenal guitar player," he said. "So I've got both of them in my band, and then my drummer and bass player are also brothers, and I'm telling you, they are A-list players. I don't know how I lucked up and this happened."

It's a sight to see, that's for sure, Logan Robinson (Dylan's brother) and Sean Barger on guitars, Darrick Cline on bass and Garrett Cline on drums. Just like Dylan Scott, they know what they've got, and they're just relentless in bringing it to the people who came to see them play.

Here's a look at just some of the excitement of this amazing band on stage at Joe's, and if you want to read more about Dylan Scott, check out this story about him at The Huffington Post: Dylan Scott and Where It All Comes From.

Dylan Scott's new single "Crazy Over Me" is at iTunes.

Photos by Johnny Nevin, and there are more photos of Dylan Scott at

Urban Pointe Shoes: Bringing Beauty Back

Briana Robinson and Kevin Shackelford didn't exactly know at first. As they loaded Shackelford's video equipment into a car they borrowed from one of Briana's friends, they didn't know that what they would film that bright summer day would turn out the way it did. The project they were about to film became a burst of bright discovery called Urban Pointe Shoes, but as they set out to shoot that day, they didn't yet realize that they were going to make a such a beautiful document of defiant hope.

They didn't really even know each other. Shackelford is an independent filmmaker who works with music and fashion artists. Robinson is a choreographer and dancer with Thodos Dance Chicago, the widely respected dance company she joined after completing her studies at Juilliard.

"I first heard about the project from a woman by the name of Eileen Mallory," Robinson recalls. "At the time, she was working at Ballet Chicago, where I trained when I first started dancing. My close friend Joshua Ishmon, who was also on staff at Ballet Chicago, heard about the project from Eileen and recommended me for the opportunity."

The project was a short film that Shackelford was making for his production company K-Shack Video. "Kevin was looking for an African American ballerina who was comfortable with improvisation, and not afraid to dance in unlikely environments."

Photo Friday: Jump Rhythm Jazz Project's Rhythm Rich Approach to Dance

Jump Rhythm Jazz Project is at the Josephine Louis Theater, Northwestern University's beautiful dance performance venue, with a concert filled with their unique and rhythm rich approach to dance, movement, self-expression, and just plain enjoying life. The program, which is titled Getting Down, Going Forward, combines the work of Jump Rhythm choreographers Billy Siegenfeld, Brandi Coleman and Kevin Durnbaugh with Northwestern choreographers Kat Scott, Hillary Aarons, and Aric Barrow.

"I'm really looking to cultivate choreographers who use rhythm and dynamics as their source material," Artistic Director Siegenfeld explains, "instead of shape and form." The result is a multicolored evening of insight into how artists can move and be moved. Here's our Photo Friday set of shots from the performance, and there's a lot more at

Hump-Bump Mixtape 023: "Call Me"

This week with tracks from SugarBeats, Giorgio Oehlers, Gramatik, Kource, Nebbra, Phonat, Comfort Cruise, R Y M S S N, and falcxne. Yeshua!

Hump-Bump Mixtape 023: "Call Me" by Sean Duck on Mixcloud

Hump-Bump Mixtape 022: Goose-Steppin'

This week with tracks from Ben Sollee, The Tallest Man On Earth, Zella Day, Fernan Dust, Christina Perri ---

Hump-Bump Mixtape 022: Goose-Steppin' by Sean Duck on Mixcloud

Kaki King: The Neck is a Bridge to the Body

When you can do something as well as Kaki King can play a guitar, it can take you almost anywhere. King has been playing guitar, and has been widely admired for the way she does, for quite a while, and since her first release in 2002, Everybody Loves You, she's never really stopped discovering new ways to discover the instrument she calls "a shapeshifter". With her latest album, The Neck is a Bridge to the Body, she's dreamed up a completely new set of ways to do what she always does, to find great music in a guitar and then play it like nobody else can.

Ailey II and Manuel Vignoulle's Breakthrough

Ailey II performing Manuel Vignoulle's Breakthrough (Photo by Eduardo Patino)
Ailey II performing Manuel Vignoulle's Breakthrough (Photo by Eduardo Patino)

For those who know Manuel Vignoulle's imagination, and how effortlessly he seems to express what he imagines in Dance, the chance to see one of his works performed by a Company like Ailey II is definitely news, the very good kind.

Breakthrough is a new work that Vignoulle created for Ailey II last summer, and they first performed it last October in Canada. Vignoulle has worked with a lot of great Dance companies; a graduate of the prestigious Conservatoire National Supérieur de Danse, he first danced with, and for the past several years has choreographed for, an impressive spectrum of great Companies. Not surprisingly, working with Ailey II has been an experience that he's appreciated quite a bit. "They're very athletic and strong," he says of the Company, "It was a pleasure working with them, I'm super grateful."

Breakthrough is characteristic of Vignoulle's carefully thoughtful approach to his art. Vignoulle describes it as a work whose story line is almost apocalyptic, but defiantly individualistic. "It's about individuals who live in a world where emotions and feelings are prohibited," he explains. "It's as if their bodies and minds have been numbed for decades, even for generations, and they have no idea what effect an emotion might have on them." The work tracks their struggle. "They want to feel something inside, to connect with an emotion, whatever the cost," Vignoulle continues. "The beauty is in these exhausted bodies fighting, and never giving up fighting, just for the freedom to feel what they feel."

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