Aris Has his Voice on the Pulse of Some Hot Tunes

I’m always honored to be asked to review the work of my artist friends. ESPECIALLY when I’m already a fan of their work. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been listening to Aris Ziagos’ new album Pulse on repeat since it came out last month. To be honest, it has been on repeat in a mix that includes Donna summer, Lady Gaga, and Tina Turner.

The moment I heard clips of the songs and a few full songs in a car ride with Aris, I immediately thought of Donna Summer. This actually began my renewed desire to throw on a few of my favorite Donna hits. The first single from Pulse has been out for a while now and it has been making me want to move since first hearing it. I have said that I’m almost embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve probably listened to it but I am someone who has at least one ear bud in my ear even while I’m working. A good beat keeps me going and in a good mood no matter how much work I have to do or how intense it is.

I listen to very few albums all the way through without pushing past a few songs, even from my favorite mainstream artists so when I can thrown on one album and listen all the way through that is saying a lot. Pulse is definitely a collection of songs that is good for a long car ride, a hike, a workout, or just while you are cleaning and cooking.

The first song, Love (Thank you) features artist Paula Cole. It remind me immediately of Donna Summer’s hit I Feel Love with it’s sexy, breathy repetition and underlying sexy rhythm. Rain is a storm of emotion, desire, passion, and pain. I’ve said I felt like he was in my diary at some point, especially when I hear this one. It just feels that personal and I think it will to many people.

Speaking of Donna Summer, the title track has a sample of I Feel Love and I can actually hear Donna performing this one with approval. Handle It is definitely for anyone who has been wronged by a lover or just not appreciated for who they are. To me, it sounds like a dare to handle me in all my fabulousness if you think you can. But if you can’t, well the hell with you. It is reminiscent of a Beyonce empowerment piece. Basically, take me for what I am or everything you own will be in a box to the left.

Next, I want to talk about the Reborn remix. I do enjoy a good remix, especially when it is different version of the song that brings a new way to enjoy it. This remix does that for me by giving it a new beat. Make sure you check it all out for yourself at Aris’ website and follow him on social media because you are also going to want to check out his covers.

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!

Ian Somerhalder: Never Lost for a Good Cause

By now, I think most who read my posts know how this works.  If you are new, let me explain my intentions.  I try to highlight individuals that are doing good in the world. I started with a few celebrities and will feature others doing great things as well.  For my first celebrity couple, I chose Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher for their work with the DNA Foundation.  For my first female celebrity I chose Alyssa Milano for all of her charity work and great example she sets.  Now for my first male celebrity doing great things I have chosen the always outspoken and quite well spoken, Ian Somerhalder.

Some of you may know Sir Somerhalder from a little show called “Lost,” currently we know him as Damon on “The Vampire Diaries.”  You may also remember him from one of my favorite movies, “Pulse” as well as many other roles.  My favorite way to describe him these days is as an activist with conviction and heart.  I have come to know him through his posts on Twitter and quickly realized there is so much more to him than his acting abilities.  I am always learning something new from him as well as getting involved in some great causes.  Dr. Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.”  Obviously, Ian is taking care of letting people know better. 

During the BP oil spill, Ian was one of the most vocal people on the Internet.  The truth he was sharing needed to be told, the images he invoked were necessary parts of making sure the right thing was done.  He did a PSA to help raise money for the recovery efforts that is available on Youtube.  Even now, when most people have moved on to the next “in” cause, Ian continues to share the truth about the devastation that persists in the Gulf.  The environment is so important to him that he recently planned a trip to Central America for this Spring to visit some troubled areas. 

Another cause dear to him is the treatment of animals.  He supports No Kill shelters and will be the guest of honor at Unleashed: The Event this November in Louisiana.  You can get tickets or make a much needed donation here: http://www.sthumane.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=62&Itemid=69, I have mine already.  It will be a fun filled evening raising money and awareness for the shelter and I get an excuse to take another trip. 

A little birdie also told me that Ian is thinking of starting his own foundation, the IS Foundation.  I can’t wait to see what amazing work he will do there.  I imagine it will have a huge impact on society, the environment, and animals.  At the beginning of his career Ian was a model but he doesn’t like to advertise that for fear people may not take him seriously as an actor.  After speaking to him about his passions and interests, I doubt anyone has trouble taking him seriously as an intelligent, socially aware human being.  He has definitely dispelled any misconception that he is just “another pretty face.”

This quote on Ian’s IMDB page says it best, “I kind of think too much, I try do too many things at once.”  I am always happy to see thinkers trying to change the world, even if it is just a small step at a time.  In this case, with the amount of people that can be reached due to his celebrity status, I am sure it counts as much more than a small step. For a change, we can all rest a little easier knowing this particular vampire is out there.

I hope that you can take from this a little inspiration to support a cause you are passionate about or to join in one of the ones mentioned here.  Even the smallest actions make a huge impact, especially when combined with the collective efforts of others.  Let’s all show Ian Somerhalder some gratitude for being the voice of a generation that expresses compassion for others and a respect for nature.  Don’t forget to catch him on the CW network in The Vampire Diaries every Thursday at 8 PM EST to see a little of his evil alter ego, Damon.

written by Tommy Geraci (teeco71)