Today’s Feature – May 9-10: Tony Bernardi

May 10, 2008 at 11:20 am (Today's Feature)

Where to start with former computer engineer Tony Bernardi, the latest PEV Renaissance man to blow us away with his capabilities and passion. Let’s start with HAP21 (Healing Arts for Peace in the 21st Century) – “a promotional organization that seeks to encourage and promote artist of note while extending peace through non-violent methods.” Bernardi’s group has been accomplishing some fantastic things, creating art for your walls and for your web viewing pleasure. One of their programs, PAM (Peace Art Medicine), “aims to lighten some of the mental burden of patients by creating a peaceful atmosphere and encouraging the healing process.” Healing music such as this takes up quite the place in Bernardi’s life, himself releasing the album, “Slightly Uncomfortable,” which contains about two hours of “electronic music created intuitively and recorded with a definite program in mind.”

So Tony runs an organization and creates music – did I mention he also writes poetry and creates some stellar painted pieces? And it’s more than just peace that influences his work, Bernardi is the son of a Greek mother, an Italian father, was born in the Muslim country of Iran, and went through 12 years of Jewish schooling. The mix has been a perfect fit here in the states, as his message has been embraced.

As Bernardi continues to work to touch audiences “beyond their intellectual awareness,” he is working on a novel based on a biblical story. And of course, he’ll be working on about 50 other projects at the same time. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Tony Bernardi (PEV): Tell us the “how and why” you first got involved with music and art. What pointed you in this career path?

Tony Bernardi (TB): My interest in the arts began very early in my life. Where I was born and spent my youth did not exposed me to many fine arts. My first exposure to music and art was in the Greek Orthodox church in Tehran, Iran. The theatrical atmosphere of the church, built in Greco-roman style with many dramatic paintings and chant like a Capella music contributed to my early artistic influences. Fascination with the spiritual as presented to me in the light of the mysterious and artistic preoccupied most of my early years. Later, acquiring my own transistor radio exposed me to classical music, and my first love became film music where I would seek and buy single vinyl records and play them on my own portable turn-table. It was after seeing the movie “Jeremy” about a young boy that played the cello, that I decided to become a musician and I tried to save up money to buy a cello. Serendipitously I ran into an early childhood friend that had been playing the violin and asked him to help me find a cello. With the help of my older sister I had enough money to go instrument shopping. Going with my friend to the music store I sadly discovered that I could only afford a beginners violin, and with the encouragement of my friend I bought and started my private lesson’s with his violin teacher.

There were other miraculous events that contributed to my musical education regardless of the lack of interest or resources in my immediate surroundings. I met one of my most dear friends in junior high school whose father was a classical music connoisseur and had a sizable classical LP collection. Out of the kindness of my friend’s heart he would record various classical pieces on empty cassette tapes I would supply him. By the time I was in my last year in high school I had acquired a serious education in classical music literature. To this day we share our passion for music literature and compare new discoveries. Also, I can remember attending my first Opera at the one and only Tehran’s Opera and Concert Hall. I can remember how amazed I was to see Verdi’s Rigoleto with our family priest, a kind Christian monk, when I was 14 years old.

It seems against all odds destiny prevails, and we become who we are supposed to be in beautiful and miraculous ways.

PEV: Born in the Middle East to European parents, what kind of artistic influences did you have growing up?

TB: My musical influences growing up were distinct Greek church music, film music, and later the standard classical music repertory. I am sure I have also been influence by beautiful melodic Persian poetry, as I have obtained a formal Farsi (Persian) education, and the dramatic Muslim chanting prominently heard all over Iran.

PEV: Being born in another country then coming to the US, do you find your heritage and knowledge of another culture to play a large part in your artistic styling and influence?

TB: I consider myself a melting pot of cultures and traditions. My maternal culture is Greek, my paternal culture Italian, I was born and grew up in the Muslim country of Iran, and was sent to twelve years of Jewish schooling. All this and also being exposed to so many other cultural resources after I immigrated to the United States, has diversified my cultural grounding sufficiently enough to make me a truly 21st century inter-cultural American artist. Being an amalgamation and integration of various traditions empowers me to seek and celebrate not only my own heritage but other traditions I love and make them part of the fabric of what I create. I think so much of our common humanity is reflected in all our artistic expression regardless of where we come from. Perhaps this is one way that 21st Century art can become a new voice that crosses all national and cultural boundaries.

PEV: Over time, has your taste in music and art changed or expanded? What was this a reflection of?

TB: I am also educated as an engineer (Computer Science). This has given me both the know how and the courage to explore other musical expressions, namely the electronic media. Also, studying music in the 1980s in college I was encouraged to seek newer and innovative musical means. Although, I was aware of my distinct artistic voice, which was often acknowledged and encouraged by my music professors, in time my style has become more emotionally accessible and has matured to become more performance-wise practical without loosing its strong originality. My taste in music has really not changed much. Great music in my view is what challenges our mind as well as our hearts, and that category includes music from Palestrina, Bach, Vivaldi, to Part, Glass, and other 21st Century Composers. Good music is good music, regardless of style, and that includes all serious thoughtful and heartfelt musical expressions. I must confess that I am not much of a pop or rock music connoisseur, although I thoroughly enjoy them and music from other genres.

PEV: When you sit down to write, paint or draw, what kind of atmosphere do you surround yourself in? Any certain “zone” you have to be in?

TB: I am one of these lucky people that can get in the zone anywhere. In my younger years I used to compose music in the lobby of the music building of Montgomery College when people would constantly congregate and come and go. Now, I surround myself perhaps in more peaceful and aesthetically pleasing atmospheres. In my studio in Bethesda, Maryland, I often compose music on my acoustic piano, surrounded by my colorful paintings and the view of beautiful old trees. I also paint and sculpt with usually listening to music.

I am a strong proponent of sacred spaces. I create altars all around my house. These are carefully placed sacred objects that have special meaning to me, reverently placed in various spots of my living and working space, creating a sacred atmosphere. I do not distinguish my work space from my living space, although I use different rooms for different activities. To me all of it constitutes my living space. The idea of work separate from life is dismal and burdened, one that I am not willing to tolerate. All of it is life to me. Actually my work or what I create is the highlight of my life. Although the art that we create in the kitchen might be very different than our expression on the synthesizer.

PEV: I read that your work has “atmospheric whimsical storytelling moods, which are rich in expression and effective in touching the human heart.” With that, what can fans expect from a Tony Bernardi work?

TB: The closest I can come to explaining the effects of my work on my audiences is that it touches them beyond their intellectual awareness. My works are constructed in complex structures, however their form does not mask their emotional content. Everything I create has substantial emotional content. I am not a formalist, in other words, I translate my emotions to art, and not allow the form and contents of my art to produce emotions by the nature of its structure. This is the big difference between Stravinsky and Vivaldi. Although I deeply love the works of Stravinsky, my works have a closer relationship to the Venetian Vivaldi, whom I share my fatherland with. What I admire most about Vivaldi is the spirit of joy in almost everything he has produced, that is why I try playing Vivaldi on my violin at least once a week.

Story telling has had the greatest influence on my art from early childhood. My music is reminiscent of film music because it is pregnant with emotional events, it is irrationally moody, speculatively romantic in ideas and lyrical in nature. Melodic material is very important in my written and improvisational work as my melodies are often complex and their treatment more baroque than classical. My harmonies are adventurous and carelessly atonal. I use an intuitive sense in my harmonic progression which sometimes gives my music a naïve or at times a refreshingly complex harmonic structure. My works are seldom imitative and almost always contrapuntal. Although I reference musical elements from other composers, I do not imitate them. Ravel and Debussy have impressed me as much as Mahler and Bruckner since my early years and their shadows can be traced in my early compositions.

PEV: What’s the first thing that goes through your mind when you sit down to write and see that blank piece of paper or canvas, staring back at you?

TB: That is never where I start. I always have a reason to create. I start with an emotion, a love, or a passion. It could be an idea, a picture, a story, a poem, an event, or anything that calls me to sing my song. So by the time I sit at the piano or in front of a canvas I have a sea of emotions raging in me. I can also conjure up these inspiring muses on demand. I often improvise on the piano and so I have developed the skill to quickly call the muses. It seems that the fountain that feeds my heart with ideas and forms is always actively bubbling with material. Some ideas have been with me all my life and once they appear in my awareness they do not subside until they are clearly reflected in one of my works.

PEV: Every artist hits the mental block sometime or another. What do you do when that happens?

TB: It is easy with me. When I do not feel like painting, I sculpt, or I write music, or play the violin, or improvise on the piano. On the rare occasion that I feel blocked, I meditate, read, spend time with people, or spend time in silence. All inspiration comes from the deep quiet in our soul. If I can not access it, it means I am treading in the shallow waters of my unconscious an all I need to do it allow myself to dare and dive deeper.

Every so often the material I am working with do not cooperate with me. They assert their will and do not bend to my command. I almost always give in, because that is often the sign that something much greater than me is in the wings waiting to be born through me. That is actually very exciting. I have learned to surrender and allow myself to become a vessel and not interfere with the sacred creative process.

PEV: What kind of music are you currently listening to?

TB: I always listen to serious (classical) music. I love to listen to my own works, it teaches me to be less judgmental and go beyond loving and hating what I do. Although I like good music of all styles, I limit listening to very busy and loud music to a minimum because it dulls my musical senses. It is like eating hot foods all the time, it can deaden the sense of taste. As a composer I need the quiet to be able to listen to my own internal tempest when it is about to rage or bring me treasures of the heart.

PEV: Tell us about your amazing work with HAP21. How can people get involved?

TB: HAP21 came about because of my desire to contribute to the world peace effort. The highest purpose of any life is a contribution to the peace of a heart, a mind, or a community. As artists we can make a difference. Not unlike, HAP21 is a promotional organization that seeks to encourage and promote artist of note, however its aim being extending peace, the artists it chooses are artists that consciously and actively want to extend nonviolent peace. Its means of promotion can include exposure via the web, but also organizes exposures through actual art projects such as publications, recordings, performances, forums, collaborations, and art exhibits that bring about peace awareness.

HAP21 is still a young organization of volunteers, has had a couple of projects in the area, and aims to expand its operation in the fall of this year. We need more people interested in the topic of extending peace through the non-violent arts. By non-violent art I mean any means of artistic expression that does not condemn others to make its point. I would love to hear from interested people who are willing to share their ideas about art and peace projects and let me know how they want to contribute. HAP21 thus can become the container for such artistic efforts. A meeting place and a work-shop to forge the roads to the Century of Peace. My goal is to grow HAP21 to a level where it can financially sustain all its operations and also provide employment opportunities to artist that want to devote their lives to “creating for peace”. That can be done of we band together and unify our hearts and minds to use our talents for the good of all mankind. The HAP21 forum is open, as it should be. No eagle can fly with tied wings, so does HAP21 remain open to creative suggestions, welcoming ideas, funds, and volunteers in promoting peace through the arts.

PEV: HAP21 supports creative and artistic collaborations to produce art, music and literature that promote peace awareness in the 21st Century. Tell us why it is so important for artists of all genres to constantly communicate with one another?

TB: Art as a means of transcendence and enlightenment is the vision of many artists today. I think by bringing more artist together and creating a dialog through collaborative works in the community we can effectively and substantially contribute to the peace of our world. It takes courage to be an artist, but it takes a bit more to move towards a higher purpose than just making a living and seeking fame and fortune. Together maybe we can transcend our financial and social limitations and bring to our audiences good works that amplify the voice for peace in our hearts, minds, and communities.

PEV: What was the last performance or gallery event you attended?

TB: I love and do often visit the local galleries in downtown Bethesda, where I live. I have enjoyed a number of dance concerts earlier this year and the last big show I saw was “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” in Melbourne Australia last October. I usually attend concerts and shows in the warmer season and spend the winter time in hibernation and creating new works.

PEV: Is there an up and coming artist right now that you think we should all be looking into?

TB: There are many new artists worth following and investing in. I love the new generation in the arts, especially the ones that have departed from the gloom and doom of the artistic scene of the 20th century. It used to be chic or intellectual being negative, judgmental, or ugly. Things have changed. The predominantly masculine, mind dominated, detached mental exercises we have labeled as fine arts does not work for me anymore. I think more and more audiences are looking for the spirit in the arts. What moves the mind does not always move the heart. The composer Eric Whitacre is such a voice in the young American music scene. He brings a beautiful and fresh new voice to the repertoire and I think he is a promising talent worth following. He has composed a number of significant choral works that are definitely worth exploring.

PEV: Tell us about your CD “Slightly Uncomfortable”. Describe your creative process for this.

TB: The Slightly Uncomfortable suite of 19 pieces (120 minute) of through-composed electronic music created intuitively and recorded with a definite program in mind. This improvisatory work was conceived and recorded in a period of two weeks with absolutely no editing. This music was inspired by the poetic works of Marshall Stewart Ball, an amazing spiritual 22 year old poet that published his first book of poetry, Kiss of God, when he was only 13.

The music in this work as well a selection of Marshall Balls poetry are the basis of a multimedia (film, dance, poetry, and music) stage work under the same name which premiered in the Capitol Fringe Festival, July of 2006 in Washington DC with much success. The choreography of this stage work is by the founder of Washington’s Joy of Motion dance center, Ms. Michelle Ava.

PEV: How has your family reacted to your artistic career?

TB: My family considers me an eccentric. My immediate family is supportive of all my creative endeavors, however my larger circle of friends and extended family contain an equal share of fans and critics. I am largely not effected by neither fans or foes of my work, but I have to admit that I take pleasure in meeting people who appreciate my music and art. This appreciation is not the focus of what I do. I believe fans and critics can be equally dangerous to a free and creative mind.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Tony Bernardi?

TB: I am a student of A Course in Miracles and have extensively studied all the works of Eckhart Tolle. My primary preoccupation is spirituality and metaphysics, even more important than all my expressive, artistic, and Peace promotion work. I consider all my works devotional and a form of prayer.

PEV: When you are not working, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

TB: Play the piano, the violin, reading, cooking, gardening, roaming bookstores looking for books, or spending quality time with intimate friends.

PEV: Currently you are working on a Novel based on a biblical story which will be the basis of a musical stage/film multimedia work. How has the work of writing a novel that will be later put into another format, compare to that of composing, drawing, painting and sculpture? Do you find the vast amount of mediums you work with, hard to balance?

TB: Stories are often the basis of my musical work. In this case the story required much research and elaboration. I plan to collaborate with other artists to bring this work to the stage or screen, therefore I decided to create a novel in order to best communicate my intentions and thoroughly layout the story. Interestingly enough undertaking this project has resulted in much research and exploration which I believe will give much depth to all aspects of this work. I have painted a psychological scene from the story, have composed music, and worked with musicians that will provide a musical voice to some of the characters of the story. The novel is based on a wonderful Old Testament story with an angel and a demon and all kinds of drama. In the musical stage work the voice of the main angel will be represented by a Euphonium. I have the great privilege of working with a tremendously talented Euphonium player from the United States Marine Band who has helped me understand and further explore writing music for this interesting instrument.

Your question about balance is very interesting. I hardly need to balance the different artistic media I engage in. Actually, it is more like using a variety of artistic media helps balance me. Painting, sculpting, poetry, composing music, creative writing, improvising on the piano, etc. allow me to enjoy what I love to do without burning out on any one of them. I find all of these to be related, each one giving depth and informing the others while creating new perspectives for me. The only challenge is keeping up with the standard of excellence in each media and that requires dedication, time and discipline. The way I treat my various creative disciplines is like spending time with friends. I diligently care not to neglect any one of them because I genuinely miss them when I stay away for too long.

PEV: Where do you see your work ten years from now?

TB: I have very little say in the destiny of my works. My job is to create them, or better said, to facilitate their creation. What happens to what I do is totally out of my hands. One thing I know is that I will be taken care of as long as I sincerely work on what I love and do it every day. I have given up becoming famous a long time ago. Our circle of influence is seldom determined by our egoistic hunger for fame. No good work of art can be kept a secret for too long. I prescribe to the motto ” Build it and they will come!”

In ten years from now, perhaps more people would have experienced my work. Perhaps I would have been able to further the cause of peace with my work. Perhaps I would be more appreciated and my work would become more easily available to larger audiences. And if not, I would still be quite content and satisfied because the real reason for all that comes from my life’s works is the love that inspires them all.

PEV: So, what’s next for Tony Bernardi?

TB: Finishing my novel. Working on new music. Making new recordings. Expanding HAP21 and engage other artists in more collaborative works. Living life day to day and enjoying every moment of it. And expecting more surprises, new inspirations, and more miracles in the world and in my life.

For more information on Tony, check out

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Today’s Feature – May 7-8: State Radio

May 8, 2008 at 7:24 pm (Today's Feature)

Rulers of Junkrock, State Radio takes on the demanding next step of an impressive lineage of politically-charged artists with the “word of mouth” perfectionist himself leading the way, Dispatch front man Chad Stokes. Along with bassist Chuck Fay and drummer Mad Dog, the three “match its conscience-raising messages with an inspiring amalgam of rock, punk and reggae that is as distinctive as it is sublime.”

Much like Dispatch (who sold over 600,000 albums without a marketing director), State Radio cares more about their message and sound, rather than record deals and commercial exposure. A literal grass roots project in motion, the band is a standout reason as to why we all love music. Their latest release, “Year of the Crow” was created with producer Tchad Blake to entrap a live sound, the style State Radio thrives on. “At the peek of abandon,” the group spent three weeks in an old mill in a small village in England simply bouncing rhythms off the walls, resulting in music that moves your feet, uses your brain, and involves anyone in earshot. The live feeling of the collection is reflective of the band itself, “We try to play like nothing else matters except that very moment. We try to honor the effort made on behalf of the audience.” Be a part of that audience and look up the next State Radio show near you.

And check out Stokes other project, “How’s Your News?” Coming out of a camp for the handicapped a decade ago, Chad helped campers create short videos of “man-on-the-street” reporting, which became the content of a short feature film that ran on both HBO and Cinemax. Soon, it will hit your TV set as a running series, so check it out.

State Radio just wrapped up some sets with Tom Morello and friends, but they’ll be festival hopping all summer. And there’s nothing better than this kind of music during the hot hot summer time. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: State Radio (PEV): Tell us how State Radio first formed as a band. Was it an instant connection from that first show?

State Radio (SR): Chuck and I met through a mutual friend and we first jammed together in the back room at my parent’s farm. It was pretty obvious he was a wizard from the start. Maddog was playing buckets outside of Fenway and we struck up a conversation. Turned out, I went to high school with his cousin Rob. Our first show together, Maddog had lost a bet so he was wearing Willy Nelson braids.

PEV: What were your first years in the music business like for the band? When you were just starting out?

SR: Pack up the van, drive, unload, pack up, break down, call AAA, sleep where and when you can. Lots of driving and lots of work on the van. The music business was hardly a thought, it was just how to make it to the next gig.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music where the members of State Radio listening to?

SR: Jethro Tull, Sun Ra, Gladiators, Traffic, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Woody Guthrie and then in high school more along the lines of Radiohead, Nirvana, Tool, and Rage.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a profession rather than just a hobby?

SR: We borrowed a friend’s drum set and a brothers bass and packed it in our first van wimpy. It was love at first drive.

PEV: What is a live State Radio performance like?

SR: It can be sloppy but it’s never without a lot of heart. We try to play like nothing else matters except that very moment. We try to honor the effort made on behalf of the audience.

PEV: Have a large college fan base as well. Which college has the best music scene?

SR: Shit, I don’t know…we haven’t played that many colleges. We played with Ted Leo at Tufts in Sommerville, MA and I thought that was pretty cool.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, “Year Of The Crow?”

SR: More Maddog and more of a live sound – the producer Tchad Blake was great at capturing the band when we were at our peek of abandon. There’s no click track and not many takes.

PEV: How is “Year Of The Crow” different than others out today? As well as different from your previous works?

SR: Our first full length album was done over the course of a year or two in 4 different studios – YOTC was made in three weeks in an old mill in a small village in England. So right off the bat, the location of YOTC cast a spell on the tunes. I’m not sure how it’s different from others out today just because there’s so much good shit out there. We just got the new Black Keys album – wicked!

PEV: What happens when you hit that “creative brick wall” and feel like a song is just not coming out right? What is your method to cure that?

SR: Bury it in hopes of a resurrection years later. With some tunes we try 8 or 9 different arrangements sometimes hashing and rehashing works.

PEV: Is there a certain environment you surround yourselves in when you sit down to write music?

SR: I just sit down whenever there’s a moment or I have a melody or lyric kicking around in my head – it’s not really planned.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

SR: They’ve been great and happy for us along the way — sometimes my brothers and sisters get sick of hearing about the band stuff if the dinner table is too dominated by music talk – it stands to reason..

PEV: Having traveled everywhere, what city do you think offers the best appreciation for music? Why?

SR: Minneapolis is a good one Koln and Munich are wicked! Asbury Park, New Jersey is one of favorites; people are ready to rock!

PEV: What is life on the road like for the band? Best and worst parts?

SR: Best parts are discovering parts of the world that we knew very little about and getting to know people from varied walks of life. Lack of sleep and everyone up in each others face all the time can get old, but it’s always an adventure.

PEV: Is there an “up and coming” artist or band right now that you think we should all be listening to?

SR: I dig Darla Farmer from Nashville and The White Buffalo from LA and Lightspeed Champion from the UK and Ghost of Tom Joad from Germany.

PEV: With a long list of names you’ve worked with, is there someone you have not had the chance to work with or collaborate with, that you would like to?

SR: Stevie Wonder, Thom Yorke, Billy Bragg.

PEV: When the band is not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

SR: Playing hockey when we can. I do this other project called HOWS YOUR NEWS and we travel around with news reporters who have various disabilities. There’s also a HOWS YOUR NEWS band.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of State Radio?

SR: We drink each other’s piss.

PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio what would we find?

SR: Bales of hay and an Egyptian bust.

PEV: In one word, describe State Radio.

SR: Junkrock.

PEV: So, what is next for the band?

SR: Playin’ with Tom Morello and friends this April and a bunch of festivals this summer; hopefully a new record to be recorded in December…

For more information on State Radio, check out

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Today’s Feature – May 5-6: Kaitlyn Anderson

May 5, 2008 at 10:51 pm (Today's Feature)

If you swung by one of her web pages, looked up some bios or came across a review, you’d have no idea that Kaitlyn Anderson ever had “confidence issues.” However, doubt in her ability to perform, connect with an audience and maintain the enthusiasm necessary postponed the beginning of her entertainment career, now her life’s purpose. Currently the proud bearer of the title, “America’s Pop Rock Sweetheart,” Kaitlyn is more than confident – she’s on her way to sitting on top of the pop music mountain.

Living by the credo, “Honor your gifts and never let go of what you truly want in life,” Anderson now has the tools along with that crucial confidence to make some big things happen. With her band, she has released her debut EP, “A New Word for Over.” Bringing to the table a mix not found often in today’s over-saturated pop music scene, Anderson demonstrates a variety of styles from rock to swing to even a ballad (all coming from a 3-piece crew, in fact).

Writing her own songs for the collection, Anderson knows there is something for everyone – music that is “completely relatable.” Her live performances are demonstrations of such talent, keeping the crowd engaged through blue-eyed charisma, honesty and passion to the point of exhaustion in every melody. The EP is just recently released, so go give a listen – see just how far this once “shy” girl from Texas has come. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Kaitlyn Anderson (PEV): You said, “Don’t be intimidated by your destiny just because the journey seems too challenging. We all have hopes and dreams for a reason. Honor your gifts and never let go of what you truly want in life.”

I wanted to start out with this quote from you because I think it says so much. Tell us, how did you first get involved with music?

Kaitlyn Anderson (KA): I fell in love with music as a baby. My mom and dad always say how I danced and hummed before I even spoke. I started taking lessons as a child and through my teens, but really started dedicating my heart and soul to it a few years ago.

PEV: Having lived in Houston Texas, Simi Valley California, Moorpark California, Paradise Valley Arizona, Scottsdale Arizona, Tucson Arizona, Huntington Beach California, and currently resides in Los Angeles, California, what kind of music were you listening to growing up? Do you remember the first concert you ever attended?

KA: I grew up listening mostly to oldies and Christian music, like the Beach Boys (loved the harmonies), Amy Grant (inspirational for me), etc. But when my sister hit High School, I wanted to be just like her and began listening to pop and rock music, like Debbie Gibson, New Kids, Guns N’ Roses, etc.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a profession rather than just a hobby?

KA: Absolutely! Many times in my life I knew I had the desire to be a singer, but for one reason or another, I seriously lacked the confidence. A few years ago, I came to the realization that I could do it. I took a chance at a vocal lesson and recorder “Take My Breath Away” for fun. At that point I fell in love with recording and the art of making music. My family and friends noticed a change in my voice, as well. I suppose once I gained the confidence I needed, people could hear it in my voice as well as see it in the way I carried myself! This could hold true for anyone doing just about anything in life. Confidence is crucial.

PEV: What were your first years in the music business like for you? When you were first starting out – before the press, before the accolades? Did you ever think you’d be where you are now, then?

KA: Honestly my first few years were hard, personally. I had to find myself and my voice, and be comfortable with it. After I did that, it became fun – a lot of work, but the most rewarding experience of my life. I worked a lot of crummy jobs to pay bills, and I didn’t mind… everyone has to pay their dues and I knew where my heart was vested. I am grateful I am where I am now, it’s a blessing, but I hope to take this career even further. Now with my great team around me (professional reps, incredible band, and my supportive friends and family), I know I can do it!

PEV: How does it feel to being called ” America ‘s Pop Rock Sweetheart”?

KA: It’s great. I think America needs a new pop-rock “sweetheart.” I mean, I wouldn’t call myself that of course, but I love that people see me that way. Who wouldn’t? It’s a honor to be seen in that light.

PEV: What can fans expect from your debut EP “A New Word for Over”? As well, what kind of reaction did you first have when it was all said and done?

KA: Fans can expect an EP that is different from everything out there right now. Each song on the album has a different sound; we have pop, rock, a swing song, a ballad, etc. It really illustrates what we can pull off. Best of all, the songs are catchy too.

My first reaction when listening was, “no way… is that me??!! Is that my band??!!” it sounded amazing…like a real cd…and then I realized, it was! I had never felt more proud or excited (or appreciative for the opportunity) in my entire life.

PEV: How is “A New Word for Over” different than others out today? Why?

KA: As mentioned earlier, it has a lot of different sounds and flavors. Even though most songs hold a similar theme about relationships (mostly break-ups & feeling empowered), you still feel like you’re getting something new out of every song. Also, I think that every song on the EP is completely relatable, especially to the ladies out there!

PEV: It is rare that we find someone who writes and sings their own music. This is extremely admirable in today’s business. What is your take on the singer/songwriter genre, lacking in today’s music business?

KA: Thank you! It’s an outlet for me; very emotional and fun. I think that singer/songwriters are making a huge comeback, which is an awesome, inspiring thing to see. I think that when you write your own music, people can see it and feel it when the music is played. I always want to play a part in writing the songs that I sing. Hopefully the industry will accept, embrace and celebrate that.

PEV: Is there a certain environment you surround yourselves in when you sit down to write music?

KA: I’d like to sound totally deep and say that I surround myself with candles in a dark room…but that isn’t the case. When I get an idea, I scribble it down on whatever I can find around me, whether I am working, home, on a run, on a phone call, watching tv ; it could be anywhere. It is typically when I am at home, writing in my journal.

After the band was formed, Guillermo (guitar) and sometimes Eric (drums) would get together and arrange music. I would take their arrangement and create a melody and write the lyrics after feeling particularly inspired by the music. I would usually like to be in a quiet, secluded area for that, so I could really tap into how the music made me feel.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

KA: I can’t tell you how amazing my family has been. First and foremost, I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done anything without my parents. My brother and sister (and her fam) are wonderful, too. They’re always at shows, encouraging me when I am frustrated, and they tell me that they believe in me and what I am doing. That is a gift.

My friends are great. I can’t believe how cool it is to see them at shows, actually singing along! I’ve reconnected with college friends, high school friends, and my best friends have been to every show and helped spread the word, too. It’s nice to have people believe in what you’re doing.

I know I’ve said the word a lot, but I truly feel blessed. I am completely grateful, and I hope that one day I will be able to re-pay everyone for their support, love, and guidance!

PEV: What is life on the road like for you? Best and worst parts? Was it a hard adjustment?

KA: When I get there I will let you know! Haha. Honestly, it is the thing I look most forward to. It will mean that I get to spread the word about my music, gain more fans, be with my band and write more, travel, etc…I couldn’t be more excited. Really.

PEV: Which city do you think offers the best appreciation for music? Why?

KA: I’m not sure yet. I think every city will offer something cool! So far it’s been l.a. for me and the boys. I am looking forward to seeing new places and how they respond to our music! L.A. is great – seriously, but I almost feel like there are so many artists out here, it’s hard to appreciate everyone, and it is difficult to get a ton of people out to your shows. I am excited to explore other cities, and then come back to L.A. and see how we get embraced! After all, it is my home.

PEV: Is there an “up and coming” artist or band right now that you think we should all be listening to?

KA: Besides me? Haha. I think that people should always explore the indie world. Not everyone gets the opportunity to play music for thousand’s of people and that is a shame. Some of the best artists I’ve seen have been in coffee shops, bars, etc.

But, if you want a few names that I am currently into, check out: Amy Kuney (acoustic, folk, pop), 2nd Day Crush (rock, pop), Kelley James (rock, pop) and Lakes (rock, pop).

PEV: Is there someone you have not had the chance to work with or collaborate with, that you would like to?

KA: Right now, collaborating with anyone would be fun. Any of my influences would be great: Foo Fighters, Paramore, Kelly Clarkson, Avril [Lavine], p!nk, Carrie Underwood, etc. Or any one of their producers! So many amazing artists and creative industry people out there.

PEV: When you are not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

KA: I love to shop! I have a serious addiction…and I’ve gotten my mom hooked too! I also like to plan and decorate. Love, love, love sports, especially baseball and football. When I want to relax, I stay in with my boyfriend (also the band’s drummer) and watch movies; he has Netflix so we always have something good, or not so good (haha) to watch! I also like to run, or relax with a magazine, good book, my iPod or good company in the sun (beach or poolside).

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the Kaitlyn Anderson?

KA: Hmm…I think you’d be surprised to hear that: My first job was a Britney Spears impersonator (I was in high school). I would dance and sing, and teach the songs to girls at birthday parties, etc.

PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio what would we most likely find?

KA: You’d probably just find the basics for now: my boys and me jammin’ and having a good time – there are always a lot of laughs… however, you’d definitely find a lot of water bottles, or Starbucks cups. We’re addicted.

I think once we’re more established and have a private studio, I will decorate with rugs and pillows and curtains. I am also an aromatic candle girl, and will have photos of when we started and the people who helped us get there so we can always stay grateful. There will be a fully stocked fridge so that we can stay in there for as long as we want. Probably a plasma tv so that we can take breaks and since I am surrounded by guys, we’ll obviously have to have an X-box and Madden.

PEV: What is a live Kaitlyn Anderson performance like?

KA: So fun! I like to keep the crowd engaged! I ask questions, tell stories, and when it comes time to play, I dedicate all I have to each song. It’s amazing. Performing is a great feeling, and I hope everyone enjoys watching and experiencing, as much as we love doing it!

PEV: So, what is next for you?

KA: Grabbin’ hold of the stars and not ever letting go… I may be a small girl, but I have big dreams. I want to tour, gain fans, gain interest from labels, and sign a deal. After all of that is said and done…I would like to sustain a career in the industry, which seems like it is becoming more and more difficult to do. As long as things keep going the way they are, and we continue to have the feedback and support we have, I don’t see why it can’t happen!

For more information on Kaitlyn Anderson, check out

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Today’s Feature – May 3-4: ScientificLifestyle

May 4, 2008 at 1:14 pm (Today's Feature)

Part of any musician’s identify is developed though the all-important live show – their charisma, their style, hell, even the characters they play all come out live. And if that isn’t enough to balance and maintain, they gotta sound good too. ScientificLifestyle understands that electronic-based bands don’t exactly carry a stellar reputation when it comes to re-producing their sound on stage, so it’s no secret that SciLi takes extra steps to avoid ever being lumped in with every other act spinning in electronica; “The thing that we’ve always done with this band – because we all come from different perspectives – is work with a lot of styles and not emphasize electronic over everything else.”

With Zach Grace and Darius Holbert providing the music and the mixing, Nicole Porter (who has appeared with both Jane’s Addiction and Aerosmith), strums the vocal chords, and also carries true power within the band – she knows what works and what doesn’t. The three do write as a group however, feeding off one another… like “cannibals” according to Holbert. This feeding frenzy process is what has lead to the band’s latest EP, “The Arrow,” the follow-up to their 2006 debut album, “Modern Sounds for the New Era.”

Creating this “alluring and sensual experience,” has helped “this exotic, groove-based trio to take a great leap forward with a less-is-more approach.” The electronic mix of alternative sounds, gospel, soul, and blues is complimented beautifully by Porter – her saintly tone dancing wonderfully through the melodies. You’ll see how it works during the live performance, where ScientificLifestyle proves they’re a step ahead of the rest. And listen to Stuff Magazine – “Flight 273” sits pretty as one of their top ten songs to download. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: ScientificLifestyle (PEV): Tell us how ScientificLifestyle first formed as a band. Was it an instant connection from that first show?

DH: No, we had a few iterations before we found the right chemistry. We continue to tinker with the live line-up, but the core of Nicole, Zach and me is unimpeachable!

PEV: What were your first years in the music business like for the band? When you were just starting out?

DH: There are dues to be paid in every career. It just feels like music is an expensive taskmaster! We had the shows at 1:30 on a tuesday night for a handful of folks like everybody does. I don’t think you ever stop paying those dues.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music where the members of ScientificLifestyle listening to?

DH: I always listened to everything. Classical, Jazz, Country, Slow-Jams, Tejano. There was a year where I listened only to Yes and Led Zep. A hard year to be my friend I suppose.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a profession rather than just a hobby?

DH: I started really early in music, so I’ve never really had any commercially marketable skills. It’s really always been music or hobo for me.

PEV: What is a live ScientificLifestyle performance like?

DH: Oh man, it’s a stone cold gas! If the folks in the crowd have a tenth of as much fun as we do on stage, they’re having a blast. We pride ourselves on putting on a super high-energy show every time.

PEV: You were recently named by Stuff Magazine as one of the top ten songs to download. That’s a pretty big honor. How has exposure like this helped out your career?

DH: It’s helped in the ways you think it would help: fans, sales, just general interest and the like. It’s been great.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, EP “The Arrow”. The follow-up to its acclaimed 2006 debut album, “Modern Sounds for the New Era?”

DH: It’s really more of a focused sound now. We’ve stripped to the essence of what we want to project as a project. How’s that for heteronyms?

PEV: How is “The Arrow” different than others out today? As well as different from your previous works?

DH: I like to think that it’s the same broad musical influences that every westerner has, but we’re just putting it together in a new and different way.

PEV: What happens when you hit that “creative brick wall” and feel like a song is just not coming out right? What is your method to cure that?

DH: Since we write as a group, there’s always somebody that’s working, so we feed off of each other. Like cannibals.

PEV: Is there a certain environment you surround yourselves in when you sit down to write music?

DH: Inspiration strikes wherever, so I’ve written in the car, in the grocery store, asleep.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

DH: They all still give me the same shit.

PEV: Having traveled everywhere, what city do you think offers the best appreciation for music? Why?

DH: We’ve always had great successes in Portland and Seattle. And Europeans seem to take their music very seriously. A lot of fanatics there, which is great for a band.

PEV: What is life on the road like for the band? Best and worst parts?

DH: The best and the worst part is that you’re on the road

PEV: Is there an “up and coming” artist or band right now that you think we should all be listening to?

DH: I like what Jamie Lidell is doing in England. Mute Math out of New Orleans is pretty dang hot, too.

PEV: With a long list of names you’ve worked with, is there someone you have not had the chance to work with or collaborate with, that you would like to?

DH: See above.

PEV: When the band is not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

DH: Writing. Sleeping. Watching my Texas baseball team lose.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of ScientificLifestyle?

DH: We are highly trained breakdancing robots?

PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio what would we find?

DH: Chocolate-covered vodka balls

PEV: In one word, describe ScientificLifestyle.

DH: ScientificLifestyle.

PEV: So, what is next for the band?

DH: The world!

For more information on ScientificLifestyle, check out Check out ScientificLifestyle images at

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Today’s Feature – May 1-2: Fernando Vallone

May 2, 2008 at 9:50 am (Today's Feature)

Fernando Vallone

Pretty girls can make men do just about anything – sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. In the case of Argentinean illustrator Fernando Vallone, it worked in more ways than one, “The girl that I was in love with saw a sketch that I made in my study book. She said to me that it was cool. From that day forward, I never stopped drawing.”

Seriously, he didn’t stop drawing. Vallone is full of interesting tidbits, one unfortunate one being that he suffered from insomnia as a child. To this day, he will stay up all night drawing, looking for inspiration. He took in more inspiration than he bargained for after he left his parents home at age 18 to learn how to live on the street with only a dollar a day. He recalls, “I wanted to show myself that I could do things my own way, so instead of trying to head to some university I decided to hit the road… I saw marginalization, poverty. People dying and suffering because they didn’t have anything to eat… it gave me enough rage to follow my dream of being an artist. I guess that you can see that rage in my art.”

That “rage” has turned into some amazing work for Vallone, who feels like touching the sky every time one of his pieces is published. His art often deals with his outspoken beliefs over the “political corruption and people’s ignorance” in Argentina, thus justifying some of the anger behind his drawings. Get inspired and check out some of his work. While he has yet to make his true mark on the states, his day will arrive soon. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Fernando Vallone (PEV): Tell us about how you first got involved with creating art. Was it always a natural fit for you?

Fernando Vallone (FV): Well, the first thing I remember is my mother telling me that the sky is perfect to be painted. After that, I guess it was like any other person… I just started to read comics and then to draw some characters. Along the way I lost interest in drawing, then I started again when I was 15. The girl that I was in love with saw a skecth that I made in my study book. She said to me that it was cool. From that day, I came back to my house and and never stop to drawing.

PEV: Growing up in Argentina, what kind of artistic styles were surrounding you that may have influenced your work?

FV: The comics, well, here we call them “historietas”. They are pretty much like european comics. Black and white. Very experimental, of course there are many others things to get some inspiration, like punk rock, grunge and local music bands.

PEV: After finishing school you went off to travel your country, learning how is to live in the street and to have only one dollar per day for eat. Tell us about those days and what was it like to live that way for so long?

FV: All I can say it was difficult. I left my house when I was 18, not because my parents kicked me out, the reason was because I didn’t fit in the ideal of what to do when you end school. I was this grunge guy, and I wanted to show myself that I could do things on my way, so instead of trying to head to some university I decided to hit the road. I finished the travelling in the north place of Argentina. What I saw there was even more shocking that living in the street. I saw marginalization, poverty, people dying and suffering because they didn’t have anything to eat. I saw the worst aspect of the life, I saw this and I couldn’t make nothing for them. This teach me that I was in some things a “blind person”. It gave me the enough rage to follow my dream of being an artist. I guess that you can see that rage on my art.

PEV: In speaking with you, you are very outspoken about your belief in the “political corruption and people’s ignorance” in Argentina. For the people that cannot experience this first hand, describe what you mean?

FV: This is my point of view, politics in Argentina are always the same meanwhile the persons in charge still present. This could be changed, but they don’t do it. Due to that there is so much poverty, kids leaves schools everyday and they just do nothing to think about their future. So when they grow up they don’t know what their civil rights are, they just vote for the candidate that gives then more things… like dvds, tvs, and some economic plan. This creates a large percent of people voting for the same corrupts candidates.

PEV: What’s one thing that you love about Argentina, you can’t find anywhere else in the world?

FV: Friendship. You can stay in a park, sketching or playing some football, and someone will just simply say Hi! and start speaking with you or playing. And you will make friends. That happens a lot. Most of my friends, I meet them like that.

PEV: What would we find if we walked into your studio right now?

FV: Well, lots and I mean lots of boxes with sketches. A lot of comics for reading. 3 cats. Bottles of ink. I have a lot of art books. I am a big fan of illustration old school.

PEV: When you prepare to jump into a project/piece, what kind of “mind set” do you surround yourself in?

FV: At the present I just go to downtown and start making some sketches. Also, I see some related movies, or listen some music that is connected with the piece that I will start.

PEV: What is your take on today’s modern art scene? The good and the bad?

FV: Well, the thing is, what is art? It can be so much on this days I just love to see art grow up. and expand it to other places. The bad? I haven’t found a thing that makes me think this is my generation language. Not in modern art.

PEV: If you could sit down with any artist – living or deceased, who would it be and why?

FV: Al Parker. He was the greatest illustrator in the world. I would like to listen him all the day along. Just watch him working, that would be amazing. that man is a pure inspiration and all outstanding talent.

PEV: Who in on your iPod right now or in your CD player? What kind of music do you generally like to listen to?

FV: Mmm, I must admit right now I am re discovering the 90«s. So a lot of Nirvana, The New Radicals, Alice In Chains.

PEV: Is there an up and coming artist (any medium) that you think we should all be looking out for?

FV: There are a lot. I must say I love the photos of this young guy of England. Mike Rogers ( his photos make me feel represented. The kid knows how to use a camera. His grey, angry photos. In some years he will be a leader in the art scene.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to your career?

FV: It depends. But they usually are cool. My friends are awesome. They are always supporting me and telling me to continue trying.

PEV: Tell us about the first time you saw one of your works hanging on the walls of a show or published?

FV: That experience was unique. I still feel so happy when I see my art published. I don’t want a museum; I want my art to be produced in the magazines. I am a illustrator. I just live for drawing and getting better. Being published is like touching the sky with my hands. It makes me feel like Howard Hughes

PEV: What’s something we’d be surprised to hear about Fernando Vallone?

FV: I sleep 4 hours a day. When I was a kid I had insomnia. I could stay all night long awake. I still have that problem. When I was 20 I decided to use it for my art. So what I do? I keep myself drawing all the night long.

PEV: When you aren’t working, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

FV: Hanging out with some friends. Beer and singing, making art for free, stencil in the streets, reading, watching movies, dating… the usual.

PEV: What do you find to be the most challenging “problems” for you as an artist?

FV: Well I live in South America, so it’s difficult to find a rep in Europe or USA. They all worry about my language skills and the difference of time.

PEV: What advice can you offer to an artist who is debating whether or not to pursue a career in art?

FV: If you have to debate then don’t choose it. This is art. This is so difficult. This is like having work all the days, it’s even harder than being a person from 8 to 17. But if you know this is your thing. Then came in, and join. Art is a hell of a ride.

PEV: What one word, best describes your work?


PEV: Where do you think your work will be in twenty years?

FV: Published in magazines. What else I could want to be?

PEV: So, what is next for Fernando Vallone?

FV: Seriously trying to find a rep, and well just waiting for that one chance and I need to show that I can do the work.

For more information on Fernando Vallone, check out

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