Allow Aris to Raise your Pulse with his Music

I have been friends with recording artist and performer Aris for a few years now. I enjoy the conversations we have off the record but am honored to be interviewing him so you all can get to know him a bit better! Since the first time I sat down to talk to him, I have found him to be insightful, authentic, and passionate about his work. As a fan of music, I find him to be unique, talented, and genuine as an artist. I believe those of you who read my blog, follow me on Twitter or anywhere in social media will enjoy his music as well. If you live in the NYC area, you may want to catch him at one of his upcoming performances as well!
Q: First, congratulations on the new album, Pulse! Tell me a little about the process of making this album and your process in general when creating new music.

Aris: Thank you Tommy!! I feel like I’m having a baby! I’ve been working on this album for the last year and a half. I started writing it when I finished writing my last album “Twilight Revival”. I set out with the goal to write an album that would celebrate love and life and keep people on their feet dancing.

My last album was more of a rock record with dance elements, where this album is primarily a dance album, weaving in rock, soul and world sounds. I set out to right a really universal, uplifting album. The last album was written while I was going through a lot of heartbreak and stresses in life, so the themes were darker. I wanted this album to be a solace, a shinning light. I channeled a lot of 90s pop and dance influences, soul music and eastern soundscapes. There’s a lot of soaring hooks and big choruses, and really emotional vocals.

I set out to keep the lyrics more universal, and for every track to move not only your heart and soul but also your
body. Even the slower tracks are built around solid grooves. I named the album Pulse because our heart and our pulse
are our body’s drum, carrying us through the rhythm of life. In the past I’ve let the songs have more space to fall
into other genres, but this time around I wanted a thematic record that would work great live and on the dance floor,
and I drew elements of inspiration from albums like Madonna’s “Confession on a Dancefloor” and Kelis’ “Fleshtone”.
Q: I know you have a Kickstarter for this album. What goodies are you offering fans who contribute? Where can we find out more about it?

Aris: Yes! I have  3 weeks left on my Kickstarter campaign (ending on February 21st!)

I’m utilizing the platform to help finish funding and distribution of the record, and I’m using it as an album pre-sale.
I’m also offering a variety of special merchandise and experiences for higher pledges.
I’m offering a deluxe digital album with several exclusive bonus tracks, and also offering original pieces of art,
private concerts, songwriting sessions, even home cooked meals, nights on the town, and all access passes for life to
all my live shows.
Every pledge of $20 or more also comes with a “best of” EP, and there’s a bunch more goodies too!
You can join the pre-sale, get a sneak peek of some new music and find out more at:

Q: How important is crowdfunding for today’s artists and have you seen it change in the last few years?

Aris: Crowdfunding is a huge platform for independent artists. Over the last couple of years I’ve seen a lot of artists use sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to back their albums, generate buzz and also connect with their fans and offer a special pre-sale experience.

Someone actually  raised $55,492 on Kickstarter to make Potato Salad! It’s hard to grasp that, but it actually happened! In comparison,  my goal to make and distribute my new album “Pulse” is far more modest, and it will last much longer and be more universal than any combination of potatoes and mayonnaise!

For me as an independent artist, I’ve self-funded all my work every step of the way for the last 5 years. In that
time, the music industry has changed so much, and few people actually purchase music. This Kickstarter is a huge help
to me in that it allows me to actually have a budget for recording the album, to do it in a timely fashion, and to be
able to give the recordings value via the pre-sale. It also allows my listeners to be a part of the process from early on.
Q: More Congratulations are in order on your OUTMusic Award nominations, can you tell me a little about why it was important to you and how it felt to be recognized by such an organization?
Aris: When I found out I was nominated in 5 categories at the 9th annual OUTmusic awards, I was beyond thrilled . It was a

huge honor to have the work from my last album “twilight revival” recognized. I was most moved by the nomination for
producer of the year. The organization in the past has honored a lot of prominent LGBT artists, and to me being
nominated felt like the community understood and appreciated what I’m doing. It felt like coming home.
Q: The honor was sort of bitter-sweet. I’ve read that they were charging the artists $100 per ticket but that the 

event was postponed without a new date. We’ve spoken about it but can you tell us a little about that?
Aris: Yes, it was definitely bittersweet. Shortly after the nominees were announced, the artists involved received an email

from the organization telling us we had to purchase $100 “nominee tickets” or else we would not be allowed to walk the
red carpet, to sit with the other nominees or to be featured in the documentary the organization was filming.
Something felt very wrong about paying the highest ticket premium to be in attendance to possibly win an award. It
seemed really lob sided especially since they were selling general admission tickets for $25.
Many artists like myself took the risk because sometimes as independent musicians you have to invest in things hoping
they carry you further. It was money I otherwise would have spent recording new music, but it seemed like it could be
a good promotional opportunity.
It really was a huge shock and very alarming when an email came roughly 24 hours before the event saying it was
postponed until an undetermined date, for reasons not disclosed, and that the organization would NOT be issuing
refunds. This actually wasn’t the first time that the OUTmusic awards were postponed, and there seems to be a trail of
murky business practices in the past, so it’s all very disheartening.
Q: Do you think they took advantage of the artists so that they could afford to hold a different ceremony that they held for bigger names like Deborah Cox? I’m sure the bigger names would not be happy if they knew these circumstances.
Aris: I wish I knew the real motivations of the organization and I wish there was a lot more transparency about how the

money they collected was spent.  It was very disappointing to find out that in place of the awards ceremony, the
organization would be having a “reception for the celebrity artists, such as OUTMusic Award Honoree Deborah Cox and
Monifah Carter, Omar Thomas and superstar recording artist Jonte Moaning as well as many others who journeyed to New
York City for the Awards.” (to quote the official email from OUTmusic)
What’s most upsetting about what happened is, none of the actual nominees were celebrated, and instead the focus was
put on “celebrity” artists the organization hand-selected. Since we really don’t have any transparency about their accounting
practices, we can only speculate that the nominees’ money went to fund this other event.  Also OUTmusic claims non-profit
status, but when looking into their organization, it becomes clear that they may be fudging their taxes and
involved in unethical business practices. I think it’s sad that an organization that frames itself as champions of LGBT
artists would take advantage of the very artists it was supposed to be celebrating. I seem to have been one of the
most out-spoken artists regarding this situation, and it’s also caught the eye of former Village Voice columnist
Michael Musto. Hopefully soon we will all be able to get to the truth about what really happened and why.
Q: What do you think artists can do to avoid being taken advantage of or do you think this is all part of the business and learning process?
Aris: I think the best lesson to be learned is, do NOT pay to play. And do your research! Google is an amazing tool to help

artists understand the validity and reputation of organizations/groups/etc. Before getting involved in something, do
your homework! Also, never lower or diminish your self worth to be included in anything!
Sell up, don’t sell out. Choose your partnerships and associations wisely!
There’s a certain level of investment that comes with the territory of being an artist. Just make sure you are
investing in something that is honorable, effective and beneficial!
Q: What else is coming up for Aris, the artist? Performances? Appearances?
Aris: I’ll be spending the next couple months finalizing my new album and preparing the release of the first single and

video from the album, along with putting together several photo shoots to accompany the release.
I also have some upcoming performances in the next 6 weeks in NYC that I am excited about!
* Friday February 13th at BPM in NYC (time TBA)
* Sunday March 1st at the LGBT expo at the Jacob Javits Center (time TBA)
* Friday March 6th at Triad in NYC (time and additional info soon to be announced)
(Updates regarding these appearances will be posted on my official website at www.aris.fm)
Q: Where can we find you online to keep up with you and your music?
Aris: I’ll be sharing updated about my upcoming album “Pulse” on social media, as well as on Kickstarter.  I also archive

everything on my official website. Connect with me! Share your voice, your feelings and your stories. I read
everything!

Kylie Beniamino is Music and Someone you should know

On Halloween, I was in Atlanta (as I normally am each year) at the EyeCon Vampire Diaries/The Originals Convention and was invited by my friend to see Kylie Beniamino perform at a local venue. We all have those friends who we know only recommend someone when they are GOOD, so I knew I was in for a great night. What I didn’t know was that I would be truly blown away by the stage presence of this young woman and her voice.

Kylie really does command the stage and has such charm to her voice. For those of you who do venture out to bars on Halloween, you know the crowd is not exactly focused on much after midnight. However, when Kylie took the stage, all eyes (and ears) were on her and that is a rare thing in a bar atmosphere. Since hearing her, I find myself imagining how she would perform new songs I hear by my favorite artists on the radio too! (true story!!)

Besides being able to command the crowds attention, Kylie is also a very kind soul who I was delighted to talk to that night (morning) and the next day as well when she surprised us with a visit at EyeCon. Selfishly, I knew I had to ask her to do an interview and luckily, she agreed. I am so thrilled to be able to introduce all of you to Kylie Beniamino and her music! But unselfishly, I knew I could bring her to you all, so it pans out in the end! I hope you check her out on social media and her website. If you are in the Atlanta area, be sure to catch a show when you can. I am confident you will find her as charming and talented as I do.

Q: Has music always been a big part of your life?

Kylie Beniamino: YES! Growing up I always wanted to sing and perform anytime I could. Before I could even make words as a little girl I was always dancing around in my kitchen humming and mumbling songs haha. My dad said Barney was all I ever wanted to watch and sing a long to. So as I got older my dad bought me a karaoke machine and I had one of those little round trampolines that I would stand on and use as my stage. I think I’ve always known in my heart that there is nothing else I would rather do than sing, so I’ve stuck with it!

Q: I saw you perform in Atlanta and you did an amazing job covering some great songs! As an artist, how do you keep your individuality even when you are covering a popular song?

KB: Thank you! You know it can be super tricky. I usually just listen to songs and ask myself how I would sing them and run with it! I usually just keep songs that people usually respond well to, and I take home requests and try to find a way to fit them into my set.

Q: When musicians are starting out, they normally have to play bars and clubs. I definitely noticed that you have a real stage presence. How do you maintain the crowds’ attention even as the night goes on and they may have had a few (or many) drinks?

KB: Thank you! It is so much fun playing bars and clubs! It has actually really helped me develop a stage presence over the years. But back to your question, I think keeping their attentions has to do with knowing your audience, and what they are feeling in that moment. Sometimes we don’t follow our set list and call out a song we think the crowd will go crazy for. Usually throwbacks that people don’t expect you to sing end up getting the crowds energy really high. I take a lot of responsibility when I’m on stage and know that all eyes are on me, and the more fun I’m having the more the crowd will feed into that.

Q: Who are some of your favorite artists to cover?

KB: Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, Jessie J, and Bruno Mars for sure!

Q: Who would you absolutely LOVE to perform with someday?

KB: Easy…Jessie J! Her voice is insane! She seems like a cool chick too. I definitely hope to be on a friend basis with her someday haha.

Q: You have a terrific band. How did you all meet?

KB: The band you actually saw me perform with was the house band for that venue! They are great guys, and we play that venue together all the time. But I actually have my own band that plays my other shows with me. We all met through producers, and friends of friends. They’re amazing! I’m so blessed to be surrounded by so many great musicians. You need to hear them!

Q: After meeting you and talking with you, I know you are very grounded. That’s very rare with young peope in the music and entertainment industry. What do you think about young stars who take what they have for granted?

KB: You know everyone starts somewhere Tommy, and you never really know everyone’s story or where they came from, so I don’t know if I am in place to judge. All I can say is no matter if you’ve made it, it is still a journey so you should always try and remain humble and grounded throughout your entire journey and career. Your career can always end just as fast as it started.

 Q: Where can we find you & your music online?

KB: YES! FOLLOW ME PLEASE! You can follow me:

https://twitter.com/KBeniamino

http://instagram.com/kbeniamino

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN6qW4FdV7sXmEjoSQ-WD1Q

https://www.facebook.com/KylieBeniamino?ref=bookmarks

www.kyliebeniamino.com

Q: Tell us what’s up for you next? Performances? Appearances?

KB: Well I just got done attending the Driven Music Conference in Atlanta. (Was amazing by the way). But my upcoming shows are December 12th At Fado’s Irish Pub in Buckhead, December 19th at Park Bench, December 20th at Castleberry Ale House, and then December 30th I am doing the pre game show for the Atlanta Hawks! Times and more Info are on my website!

Cher refuses to step aside for the Miley Cyrus generation

Cher refuses to step aside for the Miley Cyrus generation (via AFP)

Veteran pop star Cher may be 67 years young, but with a new album out and feisty views on feminism, she has no plans to step aside and make way for new kids on the block such as Miley Cyrus. The pop star is one of a generation of 1960s performers holding…


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Not much brain needed to be a rock star, says Jagger

Not much brain needed to be a rock star, says Jagger (via AFP)

Mick Jagger admitted on Friday he has found his career in the Rolling Stones “intellectually undemanding” and sometimes wishes he had stuck to his original idea of becoming a teacher. Jagger, who will front the Stones in their first ever appearance…


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Trevor Page – “Extra, Extra (Read All About It)”

Trevor Page is definitely one to watch, AND one to listen to.  His voice is soulful, his lyrics are cool, his music is perfect for just about every occasion.  I was truly impressed when I interviewed him a while back.  I had heard his music, which immediately caused me to contact him for an interview.  Its the kind of sound you just want to share with everyone because it feels selfish not to.  His latest video for his song, “Extra, Extra (Read All About It) shows off his soulful side, his amazing talent, and his boyish side.

Check it out, and of course, feel free to share!!!