Featured Artist

Rooftop Runners

The brothers MasIsaac are already an internationally accomplished duo (Benedikt known for his choreography and Tobias for his ability as a dancer), but their latest endeavor into music (as the Rooftop Runners) is bringing them a whole new level of recognition, with reviews branding the band as the next big thing in worldwide music.

\"\"The Canadian born brothers have adopted Berlin, Germany as their hometown and it’s there that the Rooftop Runners are finding some real inspiration. Benedikt says “I just have a calling to write. To voice something and share it.  I\'m beginning to realize that the best songs, the true songs come from a ‘what do I want to share with the world?’ What should I lend my voice too? It can be violent, sad, disturbing, joyful but sticking to that deeper voice always pays off because you feel the return of gratitude from the audience and the world.” This mindset has led to a new EP titled “We Are Here”; a collection that Benedikt says was recorded in just three days.
 
He continues, “We went into it not knowing what to expect. It showcases our live performance. What you hear is what you get. It is our voices, guitar, piano/snyth and our other member- the beat machine… I would describe our sound as spacious, piercing with moments of deep bass. What we are is so hard for me to define. But our material is very wide.” Sample “We Are Here” today as Rooftop Runners prepare to enter the studio for their first full length record. If you’re in Europe or Canada – don’t forget to check the band’s schedule for an upcoming show this summer as well. There’s a whole lot more to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

Brian Larsen

It’s been some time since recording artist, songwriter, producer and Baltimore native, Brian Larsen released his first record in 1998. He was only 11. Eleven years old – as in making the transition from elementary to middle school. He was so young that his parents used to drive him to his first gigs!

Several records later and many years of work with his band, Twilight’s Moon, Larsen is now 26 and a voting member in the Recording Academy (a member of their Producers and Engineers wing) and the mastermind behind the new collection, “Building”. His second solo record contains the rock foundation that Larsen has built most of his music on, with “a hint of pop, a dollop of folk, and a sprig of classical thrown in the mix.”
 
He continues, “My new album, ‘Building’, is definitely my best work. The songs are about ‘building’ or ‘rebuilding’ oneself up after a traumatic event like a breakup or the death of a loved one. These songs are very energetic and passionate and diverse, sonically speaking. There are a few really sweet songs, some more powerful rock songs, and a few ballads. I think that there are a lot of twists and turns to this album, but there’s a certain unity to the whole thing that really pulls you in.” Check it out ASAP. And keep an eye out for Gnome Thugs and Harmony while you’re at it (you’re going to have to read into the XXQ’s to figure out what that’s about). Speaking of which, there’s much more to get into, so keep reading for those answers to the XXQ’s.
XXQs: Brian Larsen
PensEyeView.com (PEV): A Recording artist, songwriter and producer, how would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you different from the others in your genre?
Brian Larsen (BL): My sound is an amalgamation of the kinds of music I love: a nice rock backbone with a hint of pop, a dollop of folk, and a sprig of classical thrown in the mix. I think I’m different from most others in my genre because I write and record every single one of my songs in their entirety. My songs end up being an unbelievably strong representation of who I am as a person and a musician. Also, I’m different because I believe in real instruments and real vocals being recorded in real time. Despite the recent trend to let technology do most of the work in recording, I like to keep my music “genuine” in that I don’t rely on excessive production tricks or plug-ins to create my sound.
PEV: Calling Baltimore, Maryland home, what kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
BL: My first concert was a Stevie Nicks show in the mid 90s – I guess I was about 7 or 8 years old. I grew up on lots and lots of classic rock and late 80s MTV videos (Billy Idol, Debbie Gibson, etc.). You gotta respect your roots!
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene in your hometown, when you first started out as a band? What was your first show like?
BL: I’ve been doing this since I was a kid and when I first started out, the music industry was completely different than it is now. I released my first album in early 1998 or so (when I was 11), so the internet was in its infancy and there was no Facebook or Twitter or MySpace to help you promote yourself. The first pressing of my first two albums was on cassette only (though they were later printed on CD as well). There were so many fewer bands to compete with, but there also wasn’t an incredible social network of potential customers like there is now. At the same time, music piracy didn’t really even exist, so if someone wanted your music, they had to buy it. I played my first show when I was still a kid – my parents had to drive me to the show and I was so nervous that I nearly passed out. Those were interesting times.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Brian Larsen show?
BL: I like for my live shows to have the same vibe as my music, so I try to keep the feeling intimate and interactive. For most of my shows, I bring my incredible touring band along (Anne Muntuerto on guitar, Lydia Lewis on drums, and Devon Eason on bass), and obviously they play on most songs, but I also perform a few songs solo -- just me and an acoustic guitar. I like for there to be variety in my performances, and I do everything I can to try to make my shows as interesting as possible.

Art Kenyon

Art Kenyon may only be 20 years old and an up and coming rocker out of Vancouver, British Columbia, but I’ll tell you this: His tune, “This Girl’s Trouble” has been looping in my head all day (http://youtu.be/iDh8gwdjvjE). It’s off of his latest EP, “Cocoon”, a collection that Kenyon says he didn’t even want to release!

He continues, “It was just something for my friends. A chance for me to practice towards a full release with more cohesive songs and better ideas… The sound is a Pop/RnB influenced version of Alt-Rock- Songwriting.” And it’s pretty excellent stuff for a collection that almost never saw the light of day. It’s intense to be sure – Kenyon pulls no punches in pushing the heart of each song into your face. Check “Cocoon” ASAP, and obviously, expect much more from Art in the future. If you’re in the Vancouver area, you’re in luck as you’ll be able to catch a live show. Get into the schedule, but first, read on for much more in the answers to the XXQ’s.
XXQs: Art  Kenyon

 

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Art Kenyon (AK): The sound is a Pop/RnB influenced version of Alt-Rock Songwriting and vocal styles seem to set my music apart.

PEV: Calling Vancouver, British Columbia home, what kind of music whereyou into growing up? Was anyone your main influence?

AK: I found myself wrapped up in the UK scene the last few years, there are a couple West Coast indie bands I was also into (Starfucker, Mother Mother, The Pack A.D.)- However, my biggest influences were The Manic Street Preachers, The Beatles, Beck, and The Strokes.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew you wanted music to be a large part of your life, if not the biggest  part?

AK: Yes; about three years ago I made a commitment to these writing these songs because of music's properties as a medium for connection.

PEV: Tell us about your first ever live performance.

AK: It was at the Duncan Garage, in Duncan, British Columbia around Christmas 2007. About 36 of our classmates that came out. Longevity John (The infamous owner) ranted about metaphorical plane rides through space and booted us on to the stage. My best friends at the time, Drew Morton and Dylan Healy, played with me. We played mostly originals I'd written a couple covers here and there. Everything was reserved, musically- However, we were nervous back in the day, so, every song would usually get bumped up 20-40 beats.

PEV: What was it like for you when you first started out and making thetransition to professional musician?

AK: Each day was like a never-ending heart attack, I was always rushing to tackle the next project and my excitement. Every day, was relatively normal, I only had a new drive. I'd wake up early, write my songs, go to my job, and obsess over Beatles' structures.

PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself – “I am really onto something!”?

AK: Before I released the album, I was practicing the songs live at a couple open-mic nights around town. I had a fellow who liked the words a bit too much and was obsessively sharing his life story and plans with me. It would have been alright if some of his plans didn't involve me... He was obsessed with the lyrics- The release happened- Then, I got more and more notes about the lyrics. Some from strangers across the world, some from close friends. The beliefs some people had about finding meaning in these six songs, after such a short time, are very interesting. The idea was to promote positive human connection through contrasting examples of miscommunication in life... It may have translated differently for some people.

MIchelle Danner

Today, PEV brings you a different type of artist – one that brings the best out of the artists around her.California native Michelle Danner is an experienced actor, director and writer… but is best known for her position as Artistic Director at Edgemar Center of the Arts, and as one of the most successful acting coaches in Hollywood.

Trysette

 

I first sampled some of Trysette’s tunes via live YouTube performances – something I don’t usually like to do. When the sound is live and unenhanced and heard through a handheld camera, it can be difficult to fully appreciate the artist and their craft. Trysette… is different. With only a piano and an accompanying cello, Trysette’s music will tickle your spine and demand your attention and awe – even through a live YouTube video.
 
The Australian native has come to the states just recently (occasionally playing with her Australian peer, pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins) to build on the success of her most recent albums, "Here On In" and "Le Cafe Ancien" after being picked by U.S. label, Global Journey. We here at PEV were able to sample some portions of “Here On In”, and we asked Trysette for her take on the collection: “'Here On In' is quite a relaxing, mellow but light sounding album. I tend to write in a variety of styles, so you'll experience a bit of country, pop, jazz and even world influences… It was produced when I was working with a couple of wonderful guitarists who combined flavors of the acoustic guitar, semi electric, slide and lap steel. I wanted to use the Fender Rhodes particularly on this album and I just loved the sounds of these guitars layered over its quirky, warm and bubbly personality.” Check it out for sure, and look into Trysette’s schedule as she makes her U.S. debut later this summer. Hopefully she’ll stick around these parts long enough to give us even more new material. There’s a whole lot to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Trysette
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you different from the others in your genre?

Trysette (T): My sound varies slightly from one album to the next depending on theinfluence of the producer. Each song is treated individually but at the same timehas to be part of the overall sound giving the album it's unique character. My albumHERE ON IN was produced when I was working with a couple of wonderfulguitarists who combined flavours of the acoustic guitar, semi electric, slide and lapsteel. I wanted to use the Fender Rhodes particularly on this album and I just lovedthe sounds of these guitars layered over it's quirky, warm and bubbly personality.
PEV: Growing up in Australia, as number four of nine children, what kind of musicwhere the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your firstconcert?
T: I didn't have a band when I was growing up, that happened a bit later, but I remember some of my very first music crushes included Eagles, Elton John, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson (of course) and yes, Lionel Richie. I was never into the heavier rock scene though some of my siblings were. I favored the disco and popmusic. Having said that, my family were all classically trained on the piano, so we had an appreciation for music of the Classical, Baroque and Romantic eras, but it never really stuck like the popular music did. One day I intend to get those books out and start playing Chopin and Bach again just for the joy of it. My first concert was Elton John followed by Phil Collins and that dual drum kit opener... 'I CanFeel It Comin' In The Air Tonight' Brilliant!
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene in your hometown, whenyou first started out as a band? What was your first show like?
T: I was quite insecure as a teenager so it took me sometime after leaving home tolaunch myself into a serious music career. I travelled a lot first and then when I didput a band together and test the water, it was in Sydney. I found Sydney a verydifficult city to break into even though my first few shows were a huge success. Forme personally, my music career has built more significantly since playing solo.

Josh Nichols

The latest singer/songwriter to answers the XXQ’s is just starting out… hell, he’s still a senior in high school! Josh Nichols is getting his musical legs under him, releasing a few videos on YouTube as well as a great little ditty on iTunes titled, “Feeling Good”. It’s a true DIY tune for Nichols, responsible for everything on the track, and we here at PEV really dig it. Check it out, as well as Nichols’ latest album, “Whispers of the World”. Josh says “The album itself shows a variety of feelings, and thoughts. The fans can hear my thoughts on relationships, but also the way I view life and its' treasures.” If you’re looking for sounds that make the work day fly by – this laid back collection is for you. Get into it right after you learn a little bit more about Josh in the XXQ’s below.

XXQs: Josh Nichols

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself – “I am really onto something!”?

Josh Nichols (JN): Yes, the moment a local radio station wanted my songs to be in circulation was an eye opener for sure!

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Josh Nichols show?

JN: Fans can expect true, clean entertainment. A very personal atmosphere, and they will leave knowing the meaning I have for each song.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

JN: Hmmm, definitely how many people are there!

PEV:  What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

JN: When I first started writing music my inspiration was most definitely John Mayer. As I explored new music, I took on a variety of inspirations. At this point in my career, when I am looking to write a song, I turn to Bon Iver. For some odd reason, he always inspires a melody of some sort in my mind and a song usually follows shortly after.

PEV: Tell us about your latest release. What can fans expect from this work?

JN: My last release was my album "Whispers of the World." The album itself shows a variety of feelings, and thoughts. The fans can hear my thoughts on relationships, but also the way I view life and its' treasures.

PEV: Describe the kind of mindset you had to be in to create this album?

JN: I definitely had to take on an open mindset when making this album! There is no question that some of the lyrics are very abstract for my normal personality, and I almost had to become a completely different person for one or two of the songs on the album.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Josh Nichols?

JN: Something that might surprise people is that I cannot read music at all. I have never been able to read music the way I should be able to, but it hasn't crippled my abilities to perform or write.

Doug Prescott

 

When you first see a laid back Doug Prescott on stage, you’d probably assume his style is reminiscent of Jimmy Buffet – laid back, cool, good times. And yes, the Chapel Hill, North Carolinanative is guilty of a very laid back (and pretty damn cool) demeanor on stage… but his sound is a bit harder to dissect.
 

Prescott has been in the business for a while, releasing his first solo record back in 1996… but as he says, his latest collection is “worlds beyond it.” The album, titled “The Journey & The Deep Blue Sea” contains a mix of music that has heavily influence Prescott. He says, “What I like about it is that everyone takes from it what they relate to the most.  There is plenty of Little Feat, Van Morrison, Delbert McClinton, Allman Bros., Dire Straits, etc., with some reggae thrown in for good measure.” From any angle, it’s just good, good stuff. Check it out ASAP on his web site, where you can sample many of his tunes for free. Prescott will be busy making more records and more music videos, so keep an eye on him. For now, there’s much more to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Doug Prescott
PensEyeView.com (PEV):  How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?
Doug Prescott (DP):   That's a great question.  I've been working on that one for a long time.  Every different person I ask that question has a different answer, but most say that I do have a "sound."   What I like about it is that everyone takes from it what they relate to the most.  There is plenty of Little Feat, Van Morrison, Delbert McClinton, Allman Bros., Dire Straits, etc., with some reggae thrown in for good measure.
PEV: Calling Chapel Hill, North Carolina home, what kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence? As well, is there one artist now that you look admire in your genre? And gotta ask, Heels or Duke fan?
DP:  Well, definitely James Taylor, who is from Chapel Hill.  I've played in bands with guys who played in a band with he and his brother Alex.  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Little Feat, etc.  I think Lowell George is one primary influence.  GO HEELS!!
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew you wanted music to be a large part of your life, if not the biggest part?
DP:  Have been involved with music since 4th grade - started trumpet.  I didn't start with guitars until junior high/middle school, when I got my first guitar at a flea market.  I've been writing songs since then.  My Dad wrote music (wrote a march at 16 that was published and played by his high school marching band).  So he was a big influence.  He also would bring me music to listen to, like Brewer & Shipley, Beatles, etc.  I discovered that to stay reasonably sane, I have to have a lot of music and a lot of exercise.

Slim Loris

3-piece band Slim Loris out of Stockholm, Sweden surprised us at PEV with their response to our “how did you guys get started” question. Lead singer Mattias Cederstam told us “Slim Loris started out as a fun waste of time between me and Robert and it was only about a year ago when we started working on our album ‘Down to Earth’ that it became our main focus so it feels like we´re still in the starting process.” Doesn’t seem too shocking of a response… until you sample “Down to Earth” – a mature record with musical sensibility and enticing folk rock charm. It sounds like an effort from a road-tested band of songwriting veterans, not like a band just getting started. Sample it now at the band’s bandcamp site (slimloris.bandcamp.com) and you’ll soon find among your iTunes library.

We asked Cederstam, aforementioned guitarist Robert Barrefelt and drummer Jonas Ellenberg to get more into “Down to Earth”; they say “We wanted to create a very organic and vintage sound on the album so that the listener feels like they are there in the room with us. It´s a mix of the energy from sixties pop/rock but with a bit more melancholic or even somber note to it.” While “Down to Earth” is a fantastic album, there is some sad news here: Slim Loris is currently focusing on shows in Sweden… so we’ll have to wait a bit longer to catch them here in the states. Patience readers! For now, get to know Slim Loris a little better by diving into the XXQ’s.
XXQs: Slim Loris
PensEyeView.com (PEV):  How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Mattias Cederstam (MC): Our sound definitely originates from the sixties pop/rock scene but we listen to all kinds of music and let that influence our sound as well. There are quite a bit of Americana in it and we try to incorporate a bit of our Swedish heritage in there as well which is what hopefully makes us stand out.
PEV: Calling Stockholm, Sweden home, what kind of music where the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
MC: My dad gave me a couple of Beatles albums for my 6th birthday so that´s where it all started for me. When I first met Robert, our guitar player, in school he was heavily into Pearl Jam. Our drummer Jonas has always been a big reggae fan and our latest addition Leon grew up with the music of Prince. My first proper concert however was something completely different, Metallica playing Stockholm stadium.
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene in your hometown, when you first started out as a band? What was your first show like together as a band?
MC: Slim Loris started out as a fun waste of time between me and Robert and it was only about a year ago when we started working on our album “Down to earth” that it became our main focus so it feels like we´re still in the starting process. Our first show went surprisingly well. Beginners luck maybe but all of us have played quite a lot of shows in the past with other bands which helped.

Mike Moss

Upon hearing the name and then sampling the music of our latest PEV feature, you would probably agree with his statement, “I’m not your typical singer/songwriter.” Yes, UK-based Mike Moss has a stage name that fits with most of the folk/acoustic/songwriter artists we talk to, but he says “When you go out as an artist under your own name people usually expect to hear a man with his acoustic guitar/piano and that is definitely not the case here. I would say the sound is a real mix of pop melodies, alternative rock, soulful ballads and a touch of electronica thrown in for good measure.”

It is an interesting mix to be sure, and you can sample it to the fullest on Moss’ latest record, “Cold World Plastic Dream”. Moss says, “At the beginning of my musical journey, I was playing acoustic gigs to crowds both in the UK and on the East Coast of the US. I knew I loved performing but I also knew that I wanted to write music with a bigger sound. There were definitely some people that thought I was crazy for changing direction when I had such momentum going, but I knew what I wanted. I risked everything to essentially start again and write the music I really wanted to perform.  'Cold World Plastic Dream' is the culmination of a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and I am really proud of what I have done.” Pick up the album, and keep an eye out for Moss state-side – he says “There's an unmistakable energy when you're in America that's quite addictive. People are very open, positive, and appreciative.” Boy, am I glad we have been making so many good impressions. There’s much more for you to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Mike Moss
PensEyeView.com (PEV):  How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Mike Moss (MM): In a word...'Expansive'. I'm not your typical singer/songwriter. When you go out as an artist under your own name people usually expect to hear a man with his acoustic guitar/piano and that is definitely not the case here. I would say the sound is a real mix of pop melodies, alternative rock, soulful ballads and a touch of electronica thrown in for good measure. I've always had a tendency to write accessible music and I feel I've really hit on something with this album. It's very playable and it works well with the volume turned up or down....that was very important to me. I was also very conscious it had to be an album that would work well live.
PEV: Calling the UK home, what kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence? As well, is there one artist now that you look admire in your genre?
MM: A real mixed bag, very eclectic. I could be listening to AC/DC or George Harrison one day, and then U2 or Paul Oakenfold the next. I loved listening to great artists, great songs. I would say that I've always liked big sounds - great sonic architecture was very important to me and still is. I enjoy uplifting, powerful music. U2 are probably my favorite band and always have been. I really admire their approach to music, their songs, their business ethic and their live performance....it's an awesome package. Bands could learn a lot from U2.
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew you wanted music to be a large part of your life, if not the biggest part?
MM: I was 15. I remember going to see Ozzy Osbourne in Manchester and being completely blown away by the whole spectacle, the atmosphere was electric. Zakk Wylde was playing guitar for Ozzy that night and I was totally hooked. I think that's why I started out wanting to be a guitarist but I was never very good. I
thought about Bass for a while and then tried singing. Turns out I was pretty good at that last one.

Callaghan

We love telling stories like the one Callaghan brings to the pages of PEV today and tomorrow – risk, chance, opportunity, social media… this story has it all! It wasn’t that long ago in 2010 that Callaghan was refining her musical craft in London, England, when she decided to shoot a message to well-known American singer-songwriter, Shawn Mullins via MySpace. What happened after that? Only a handful of life altering decisions!
 
Callaghan flew across the world to Atlanta and not only met with Mullins, but worked with him to produce her debut record (out May 1st) titled “Life in Full Colour”. Callaghan even took to the road with Mullins, playing over 30 states thus far. She says “I have been really lucky and met loads of great people who have welcomed me and been excited and supportive of what I am trying to achieve. I can say from firsthand experience that American hospitality is hard to beat!” Refreshing, right?
 
Back to “Life in Full Colour”; a collection that Callaghan says charmingly brings her music to life: “shades of folk, country, rock and pop.” She continues, “Like all singer-songwriters I am bringing my personal experience of life and the world to the lyrics and music I write…I chose the title ‘Life in Full Colour’ because the songs reflect the moments all of us experience in our lives; from the joy of being in love to the mess of falling out of love, from the loneliness of bereavement to the happiness of meeting the right person at the right time.” Get into it May 1st. You can catch a great preview now by going to www.callaghansongs.com and downloading the first single, “Best Year” for free. Good stuff. There’s a whole lot more for you to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.
 
XXQs: Callaghan

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you different from the others in your genre?
I would describe my music as combining shades of folk, country, rock and pop. Perhaps its sound doesn’t fit neatly into a genre, but like all singer-songwriters I am bringing my personal experience of life and the world to the lyrics and music I write. The first single from my album, “Best Year” is a very positive, upbeat, summery song about taking chances and following your dreams. It was inspired by moving to the USA to record my album. If you like catchy melodies and lyrics that that take you on a journey through different emotions you’ll enjoy my music.
PEV: Hailing from across the pond, in England, what kind of music were the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
I grew up with a wide range of influences, from British acts like Elton John, traditional Irish folk music, and also American artists such as Johnny Cash and James Taylor. My parents listened to quite a bit of country music when I was small and the first concert they took me to when I was 5 was John Denver who I used to like to sing along to in my parents’ car. I was so excited that by the time he came on stage I was pretty exhausted and fell fast asleep after a couple of songs!