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MTV SKINS To Announce Competition Winner In December

In October, thousands of artists from across the country entered the MTV “SKINS Theme Song Competition” on OurStage with the hopes of getting their original track featured on the upcoming teen drama SKINS. After reviewing tracks by some of the best artists on OurStage, MTV has selected an awesome winning track, contacted the artist and will reveal both to the world in December. In the meantime, the MTV “Score SKINS Music Project” is STILL OPEN, offering more artists a chance to get their music broadcast to the masses on SKINS when it airs in January 2011. Artists can continue to submit their best original track in the MTV “Score SKINS Music Project” on OurStage by November 21, 2010. For official rules and competition information, click HERE.

Behind The Mic: Band Members Wanted

Chances are, the band you’re in now doesn’t still have its original lineup. If the lineup is intact, chances are that someone will eventually leave or, unfortunately, be kicked out.

When you lose a band member, you want to spend the least amount of time possible finding a replacement. Until you find one, you’ll be unable to play shows, go on tour, or record. But at the same time, you don’t want to let just anyone into your band. After all, a band is like a family, and it’s important for members to have both personal and musical chemistry.

To start your search, spread the word to your friends and other bands you know. It’s always better to invite someone in for an audition if you know in advance that they are recommended from people you trust. Put out the word through your social networking sites, blog and/or Web site, and talk to other bands at shows and ask for recommendations. Even if you don’t find any prospects through people you already know, you still have options. You can post flyers, ask local radio stations to announce your search on the air and, of course, hit the web.

The go-to online resource these days is Craiglist, but there are other search platforms as well. and are two sites that offer musician-to-musician networking and classified ads.  Using these sites, you can search for available musicians by geographical location, instrument or genre.

A sample band member search flyer

And don’t forget that OurStage has got you covered. Under the Marketplace menu, you’ll find OurStage Classifieds with an entire section dedicated to the band member search. In Musicians Wanted, you can create a new listing for your own band or search available listings to find the right match.

When you create an ad in Musicians Wanted, be sure to include your genre, location, practice schedule, song and/or video clips, similar well-known artists and, most importantly, what you’re looking for in a replacement or additional member. If you have certain requirements, you will need to list them right off the bat. Some requirements to consider include: access to a vehicle, a steady source of income for band expenses, being drug-free (or friendly), a willingness to promote/book shows, etc. Don’t worry about being detailed in your expectations, because you don’t want to waste your time or any potential band member’s if they’re not a good fit.

As the prospects line up, schedule a few auditions at your practice space. Leave at least a week before the auditions to send songs to the people auditioning so they can play your songs with you when they audition. It is also helpful to record the auditions so you can compare them side-by-side with each other after the auditions are over!

Check out some examples of listings below:

High Places

It helps to have friends in high places. And if you don’t have one of those, then a friend-of-a-friend can sometimes do the trick. When California-based artist Adrina Thorpe stepped into the studio to record Halflight & Shadows, she brought with her a team of seasoned musicians whose recording credits span anyone from Mick Jagger, Sting, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West. Not that Thorpe needs the big guns. On her own she’s a force of nature—a gifted pianist blessed with emotive, ethereal vocals that recall Sarah McLachlan. On the cinematic “Coming Home” a sonorous piano gets some levity with Thorpe’s lilting voice. “Midnight” is darker, heavier stuff—a haunting melody with muffled, syncopated beats and a keening cello. But if you’re looking for a serotonin kick, not a dose of disturbia, put on the dreamy, airborne “Fly Fly Fly” or the teasing “Everything Changes.” With or without her killer session musicians, Thorpe’s music has amazing range. Expect this songbird to fly far.

GuacaMusic: Mint and the Mentals

Let’s face it. There are songs we simply can’t get out of our heads. We sing them in the shower, we chant them as we get out of the house, and we even play them in our heads during our morning meeting.

La Cuerda” by Mint and the Mentals is one of those songs. It is catchy, playful, innovative and a little daring. No wonder it was voted Number 1 on the Latin Channel in both July and August, and made it in the OurStage Top Ten charts for several months.

But what is it that makes “La Cuerda” so unique?

Well, we don’t see too many songs where the music and the lyrics seem to contradict each other in such an extraordinary way. While “La Cuerda” tells a sad story, it does so with an upbeat rhythm that conveys positivism. In an interview with the Mexican magazine La Polvora, Mint explained that she wrote this song after one of her colleagues died by suicide. She later recorded this song with Dani Fernán, a singer-songwriter from Andalucía, Spain.

“La Cuerda” which means “The Rope” in Spanish, is just one of the many captivating pieces by Mint and the Mentals, a unique band with a cool retro 1920s fashion sense and amazing songs that combine different music styles such as jazz, folk and pop, among others.

Mint is a talented singer-songwriter from Uruguay. Lucas, Guille, and Gavilan—also known as The Mentals—are her faithful collaborators and companions her in all of her exceptional musical adventures. Lucas plays the drums, Gavilan the guitar, and Guille masters the bass, the piano, and the ukulele.

In addition to catchy “La Cuerda”, Mint and the Mentals have exciting things going on for them. Their first album BADABOOM!!, produced by Max Capote, is already selling copies in Uruguay. The album has a total of 13 songs and includes themes in both English and Spanish.

Luckily, you don’t have to be in Uruguay to enjoy the fabulousness of Mint and the Mentals. You can keep following them on OurStage and see if all of their songs are as catchy as “La Cuerda”. ¡Provecho!

New Activities & Rewards For OurStage Fans!

We’re stoked to announce some upcoming activities at OurStage that reward FANS!! We want to thank all of you who spend time discovering, listening to, judging, and sharing music—the dedicated users who keep coming back to help the best artists rise to the top!

This week we’re launching the new OurStage Scavenger Hunt! It launches via tomorrow’s Fan Newsletter, so make sure you “opt in” to receive it! This quest takes you through various parts of OurStage’s Web site, such as the different genre channels, Best Of Charts, Magazine, competitions, prize winners and more. See how much you know or discover new parts of OurStage to love! The first 5 entrants to answer all questions correctly will each win a $50 gift card to! The next 250 entrants to answer all questions correctly will each win a new OurStage t-shirt! Get the molasses out your asses!

We’re so excited about our new loyalty and rewards program that is currently in development. In the new year, OurStage fans will be able to start earning loyalty points for different site activities. For example, you’ll score points each time you listen to a song, judge a battle or share music. Cash in your loyalty points for new OurStage badges, then add up badges to redeem for OurStage trophies! You’ll be hearing more on this development in the coming months.

As you may have noticed, many of our Artist Competitions offer fan prizes too: Subway gave away $50 gift cards to 10 OurStage fans in October; BIG D NYE awarded t-shirts to 20 OurStage fans; Guitar Center is giving away $50 gift cards to fans in Guitar Center’s “Your Next Record With Keith Urban”  Competition. Not only does your vote count when you  judge the artists in these specialty competitions, but your voting activity makes you eligible to win fun prizes! It’s a win-win situation.

And don’t forget,  OurStage awards 3 Best Predictor prizes each month! The fans who judging picks most accurately reflect the OurStage Best Of Charts, can earn cash prizes and predictor badges!

Anyway you cut it, OurStage knows how important our fans are. Keep coming back, keep judging and earn prizes while you do it!

Putting Back the Boom-Bap in Rap: Q&A with Nottz

Nottz wants to restore the boom-bap in rap.  He misses the kind of hard-hitting bass patterns that formed the undercarriage of so many of hip hop’s no-frills golden moments before Diddy added glamor to the street and took it mainstream.  As a beatmaker he has stuck to that creed in his productions of artists like Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and Busta Rhymes among countless others, both radio popular and underground. But this year he entered the club of producers who rap with his solo artist premiere You Need This Music.  It is a minute group peopled with such luminaries as Dr. Dre, Kanye West, J.Dilla, Diddy and Q-Tip who have all had different levels of success being able to direct the mic and hold it as well.  The artist role may be new to him but the lack of compromise that all great artists possess is already in his DNA. In this interview he explains why maintaining his vision is necessary, the creative process and why you really do need his music.

Why the transition to the artist slot?

There’s a lot of wackness coming out right now to sum it all up. Too much trash coming out right now, my kids listen to this music. You got dope talk, you got gun talk, you got gang talk and all that and kids look at it like it’s cool, and it’s not cool.

How does it feel to have finished your first solo album and to now promote it and take on the duties of the artist?

I’m starting from the beginning. I really started out rapping and how I got into beats is no one would give me beats so I started doing my own thing. I like it and then I don’t like it because a lot of people don’t know who you are. They know my music as a producer but they don’t know what I look like. But being an artist, it’s hard for a new artist to come out being a producer. It kind of gives me a big push on everything.

I’ve noticed that you will produce someone like Kanye West then produce a rap act like Pitch Black.  A lot of guys on your level won’t touch any underground rappers. Why are you so democratic?

It’s just the way I was raised, my heart is bigger than anything. I will work with anyone, my manager will tell you I don’t care who you are. I will work with you. I just want to hear good music on the radio. I just want to hear it. To hear good music is like the best thing to me.

You use a lot of soul samples and movies soundtracks, can you tell me something about your creative process?

The majority of the records that the tracks came from we had major artists that wanted to deal with the record but they got kind of scared of the record and didn’t want to mess with it. The tracks that’s up there I took from them, I said I’d write something to it and make it work. With the samples, my father he was a DJ back in the day in the ‘70s. And my brother he started doing DJing, and my dad has all kinds of soul records. I grew-up listening to all that so that’s how I really got into soul. I really listen to everything from jazz, gospel and all that.

Why do hip hop fans “need this music”? What is different about your work from the stuff you call “flashy”?

It’s good music trying to bring the boom-bap back the way it’s supposed to be. Everything evolves, it’s going back you had like Kid ‘N Play and Just Ice and BDP and all that, and these young folks don’t know about none of that. We really need to school them on this kind of music. The album I did, it’s versatile. I got Travis Barker up there, I got Snoop up there, I got Dwele up there, Mayer Hawthorne, it’s a whole record. It’s full of substance. I’m not just rapping on it, I’m talking about something on it. I’m not going to the club making it rain and all that. It’s just good music that the world needs to hear.

Any more updates on Dr. Dre’s Detox that you have  worked on?

All I can say is it’s coming out but I don’t know when.

How did you connect with Dilla and what did you take from that relationship?

Dilla wanted to work with me. I was one of his favorite producers and it as crazy because he was one of mine. He came out here and we started working. At first he was little quiet until he felt everybody out and he just felt at home. I did a couple of joints for his album that was coming out on MCA. I did two joints and I guess “Diamonds” made it. I still got two records that nobody heard ever and you’ll never hear them. I’m not wasting it right now. I probably never let people hear them unless you come here. That dude was so cool, he got Diamond D to produce a track for him. I was one of the first people he reached out to for that album. We were supposed to do an album together. We sent hundreds and hundreds of beats back and forth just vibing off of each other. He did the album with Jaylib. I wish my homie was still here, we’d take the world over right quick.

Your album with Rah Digga is solid and yet even you admit that not as many people that should be listening to her are. Why do you think she hasn’t reached a larger audience yet? Do you think this album will change that?

You got the pop-rap people versus people who are on Digga’s level. Digga is more of a rapper than an entertainer, it’s no gimmicks with her. She’s just raw. There’s not too many female emcees who can touch her. Not even female emcees, emcees period. She’s better than most dudes.

How did you come up with the beat for Dwele’s “I Wish?”

I did it for Game and Dwele was like “We need to get Game on the record.” I hit Game up and he said he would do it, but it never happened. I never told Dwele that, but he will see it now.

Who are your favorite producers?

Black Milk, 9th Wonder, Hi-Tek, Diamond D, Lord Finesse, it goes on. There’s a lot of dudes out there. A lot of people don’t hear these dudes and they need to hear them.

What’s your advice to up-and-coming beatmakers on how to learn the business side of things?

You’re gonna get shafted one day or another. You send beats out or whatever then you just got people who are just leaking your records. If you just get it started sometimes that don’t even matter, it’s free promotion. It’s not doing you any good money wise, but it will help you out in the long run. As far as dudes being artists coming up, turn the radio off, stay in your own lane. I’m in the studio everyday from 4:00 to 4:00 except Sunday. I work.  I don’t have a radio in here, a TV. I’m constantly working. I listen to my own music. Dilla always told me  “Man don’t change for anybody.” One year when I was making music, I changed my bassline and I could tell nobody was really feeling like they were the year before.

You did “My Whole Life” for Sunshine Anderson. Are there any other female R&B singers you would like to produce?

Everybody. I wanna produce for everybody, I don’t care who you are.

What inspires you as a beatsmith and a rapper?

People doing the same thing I’m doing. People who want to make a change who want to bring the real hip hop back. Really the underdog, they inspire me.

Anything else?

You know we have the Raw project coming out in November. Me and Asher Roth, that’s going to be crazy. We got Derrick 32Zero on the Raw Concept label. We have Stacey Epps is coming out. Truck North is coming out.

How do you like being a label owner?

I love it. We don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves and the fans. The fans are the ones that count. At a major label, they just throw stuff out and if people don’t bite on to it then you’re done.

Are you going to tour the record or do any videos?

We got a couple of videos. We probably shoot the one with Snoop then we’re going to shoot the one with Dwele, the one with Mayer Hawthorne and we’re going to do a couple of videos off the Raw EP.

By Tamara Harris

Tamara Harris is a music blogger who has published past work in Blues and Soul, Floss, Grip, AOL City and The Metro Times.

Q&A With Hey Monday

Most kids in their early 20s spend the majority of their time in college classes or at 9 to 5 jobs, but the members of powerpop group Hey Monday spend their time touring the world and playing sold-out shows across the country. After performing on the full string of this summer’s Warped Tour and releasing a new EP called Beneath It All, the band are currently co-headlining a fall tour with Cartel. We caught up with lead vocalist Cassadee Pope on what’s in store for the band for the rest of 2010.

OS: This will be Hey Monday’s first headlining tour since the release of Beneath It All. How is this tour going to be different from your last headlining tour?

CP: We’ll be playing pretty much the whole EP. That in itself will add a whole different element to the live show. We’ll have a bunch of old songs in the mix also. We’re working on some really intense transitions between some of the songs the we think the fans will enjoy. We just want this set to bring the crowd into an alternate universe with us.

OS: Beneath It All was originally supposed to be a full-length, but you cut it down to seven songs and released it as an EP instead. Will you be playing any of the songs that were cut from the album on this tour?

CP: We won’t be playing any of those songs yet. Eventually we will when it’s closer to the next release. But we want to focus more on the material we’ve just released. Plus, fans can’t really get into songs they’ve never heard. We want it to be a huge sing-a-long!

OS: You have done live guest vocals with All Time Low, Cobra Starship and Fall Out Boy, just to name a few. What vocalist(s) would you most want to join you on stage for a cameo, and for what song?

CP: I think having any of those singers (Patrick [Stump of Fall Out Boy], Alex [Gaskarth of All Time Low], or Gabe [Saporta of Cobra Starship]) join us on stage would be a huge honor. I’ve had Alex come sing with me during “Homecoming” a few times. I’d have Patrick come sing “Mr. Pushover” just because his soulful voice would really add a ton to that song. And Gabe could sing “I Don’t Wanna Dance” with me, because it’s a fun and upbeat song.

OS: You’ve been on tour overseas multiple times. How is touring in the US different than touring abroad?

CP: The fans overseas are so thankful for when we come through. American bands are so scarce over there, so they really show us the best time. Not to mention, the cultures are all so different. We’ve learned so much abroad.

OS: Cartel, The Ready Set, We Are The In Crowd and This Century will be joining you on the road. What are you most looking forward to about traveling with those bands?

CP: I’m a huge fan of Cartel. I actually wrote one of my first songs I ever recorded with Will [Pugh, vocalist of Cartel]. I love all the bands we’re taking out. I can’t wait to just hang out with everyone everyday, and watch their sets every night. I guess I’m looking forward to every aspect of touring with these bands!

OS: Even though your band members are still young, you have toured all over the world for the past two years. Can you give some tips to young bands going out on tour for the first time?

CP: I think sometimes, young bands who get the privilege to do such great things like tour get big headed. Just make sure to be thankful for what you have, and the opportunities you are given. You should always be confident in yourself and your music, but not cocky. Nobody will want to tour with a band who thinks they are the bees knees!

Catch Hey Monday on tour with Cartel, The Ready Set, We Are the In Crowd and This Century this fall:

November 9 – The Rave, Milwaukee, WI
November 10 - Station 4, Minneapolis, MN
November 12 – Marquis Theater, Denver, CO
November 13 – Avalon, Salt Lake City, UT
November 15 – El Corazon, Seattle, WA
November 16 – Hawthorne Theatre, East Portland, OR
November 17 – Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA
November 18 – Glasshouse, Pomona, CA
November 19 – El Rey Theater, Los Angeles, CA
November 20 – Epicentre, San Diego, CA
November 21 – The Nile, Phoenix, AZ
November 23 – The Door, Dallas, TX
November 24 - Emos, Austin, TX
November 26 – House Of Blues, Orlando, FL
November 27 – Culture Room, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: Broomfiller

Having already offered up successful rock groups like Sum 41, Billy Talent, Finger Eleven and Alexisonfire, Canada is now bringing us punk group Broomfiller.

With energetic guitars and quick, straight-forward drum beats, Broomfiller’s sound is reminiscent of bands like Anti-Flag, Alkaline Trio and MXPX. The vocals, provided by frontman Richard Leko, are characteristically punk: a style in which casual yelling is preferred over technically “correct” singing. But if you can’t get behind that, you’ll be happy to know that Broomfiller are not one-trick ponies. Their slower numbers, such as “One Last Time” and “I Won’t Leave You There” from their 2006 album Enter the Storm, are closer in style to Nirvana and Staind. Leko’s vocals are deeper and much more focused on these tracks, which are still strong even when up against the more complex structure of the group’s fast punk songs.

After one listen to the intro of “Windsor Bukkake,” you’ll definitely begin to wonder what Broomfiller’s live show must be like. One thing’s for sure, these guys are no strangers to the road. They have toured extensively across Canada and the US since 2002, including spots on the Vans Warped Tour and performances at the International Pop Overthrow Festival and Canadian Music Week Festival.

In addition to touring and recording two albums, Broomfiller have been racking up awards in both Canada and America. They took home “Best International Artist” at both the Empire Music Awards and the Orange County Music Awards and were nominated for the same title at the Southern California Music Awards. They’ve also been nominated for “Best Punk/Alternative Group” at the South Bay Music Awards and “Best Independent Album” at the Toronto Independent Music Awards in addition to reaching the Top 10 of the Punk Charts three times and the Best of Rock Chart here on OurStage, where they stayed for fourteen weeks!

Get your air guitars ready and check out Broomfiller in the player below!

Hip Hop Habit: Club Hop Playlist

Hip Hop HabitFor any of you who’ve been reading this column on a regular basis, today’s post might seem like a bit of a wild card. That’s because it is. Club hop, party rap, whatever you want to call it, is rarely featured in Hip Hop Habit for the simple reason there’s not much to say about it past the beat. The rhymes are usually redundant and the messages blatantly clear, but that doesn’t mean rap of this sort doesn’t hold any importance. Today’s post is a playlist dedicated to this type of music, check it out below and let us know if you have anything to add!

Metal Monday: Electric Wizard – Black Masses [Review]

Revivalist trends, such as the rise of the classic thrash sound, have permeated the metal scene in recent years.  The bands associated with these trends are often criticized for not being entirely authentic (and in many cases, rightfully so). Some bands, however, just understand what it is to be a band with a classic and authentic throwback sound. Electric Wizard is one of these bands. Though they’ve recorded six albums previous to Black Masses, the band only recently locked in a bona fide sound. As heavy, doomy and stonerific as ever, Black Masses has a very specific feel to it that hasn’t existed in modern music for quite some time—a guitar sound reminiscent of a thick Tony Iommi power chord circa the early 1970s, despair-ridden vocals that fit right between an Ozzy-led Black Sabbath and Diamond Head.

Acquiring the classic heavy and doom metal sound in today’s age is quite a special thing. Bands need to sound as though they’re playing live and haven’t cut and pasted the record together. The balance and reverb on all tracks need to mesh; if your vocalist sounds like he’s in a giant cathedral but your guitarists sound like they’re standing outside, then  you’re missing the mark. Though Electric Wizard perfect the classic recording sound on this record, it’s nothing like the classic heavy metal in terms of songwriting, it takes more cues from the band’s roots in 1990′s stoner metal in this regard. The difference, however, is that Electric Wizard have gotten less aggressive and more doomy with every release—Black Masses included.

Though Black Masses is a great album, it is one with niche appeal. There are no immediate hooks, catchy choruses or even memorable lines to pick out of the crowd. From the very first riff, Black Masses bludgeons your ears with an extremely forceful and heavy sound, and does so for sixty straight minutes. If you’re looking for a droning, lumbering and extremely heavy listen—it doesn’t get much better than this (certainly not in 2010). Black Masses might just be Electric Wizard’s best release to date, an unlikely feat for a stoner/doom band these days.

Black Masses can be ordered from the Rise Above Records Webstore, Newbury Comics (including online) and iTunes Store.


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