Tag Archive: Alternative


Nikolitsa Boutieros

Nikolitsa Boutieros

Nikolitsa & The Comrades deliver on a promise of high voltage alternative, grunge, post-punk, and industrial rock. If the description, a blending sub-genres, doesn’t catch on at this point, we can only suggest taking time to listen for yourself.

The group’s leader, Nikolitsa Boutieros, is a multi-media artist from New York City. She’s an acclaimed photographer (who’s work has appeared in Spin , TimeOut and various galleries). Nikolitsa has risen above her early life challenges to divert raw experiences towards the passion in her music, and the mysticism of her application to the arts. She has blossomed into one of New York’s major rising talents!

Her music reflects her artistry in offering up an opportunity to indulge one’s senses giving rise to the feeling of being caught in a pleasure ridden undertow. The music can be harsh, but smooth at the same time, and fortunately, unlike some other bands cutting across the genres – the lyrics are not lost.

“Under The Moon” the album by Nikolitsa Boutieros was released Oct 9, 2012 on the CD Baby label. On the album, Nikolitsa is joined by Brett Hestla. The album was recorded at Brett Hestla Productions. It took over three years to craft her recording, “Under the Moon.” Creating the record was both a welcomed personal struggle to continue growing as an artist, and a joy to see through to it’s completion.

During the the time that the album was being produced, Nikolitsa found like-minded spirits with etymological hearts and they began playing live shows around New York calling themselves the Comrades. The Comrades are: 17 year-old guitarist Tori Knops who weaves the beautiful melodic stories together, rock-wizardbassist David Schwab who creates a soulful driving groove and Tony Nugent on drums who keeps the trio positioned on the track.

In Nikolitsa’s own words, “”My main focus is to capture the truest essence of my material with
honesty, integrity and heart.” We spent most of our time submerging ourselves in Nikolista & The Commrades on YouTube and we recommend “In My Head”.

Visit Nikolitsa & The Comrades at http://www.nikolitsa.com/ and on Facebook.


As good luck would have it, we’ve been in contact with Nashville-based Lisa Hannah. Her new CD  “Brand New Sun” brings us eight tracks all written or co-written by Lisa. The CD was  produced by Paul Nielsen along with local luminaries Paul Taylor and Chip Martin, who share the guitar and keyboard credits. A stellar lineup of musicians also contributed to the project, including Tony Morra and Derek Mixon (drums), Glen Snow (bass), Mark T. Jordan (keys) and Jon Conley (slide guitar). Here at HorizonVU Music, we really like what Lisa has done on this album – she does have a pop-vibe sound with diversity spanning across the title track, “Brand New Sun” through to the folk-style ‘Home”.

Lisa grew up in a small Tennessee town, just outside of Nashville. She was first exposed to country music and the Grand Ole Opry, but her musical interests quickly expanded to other genres,such as hard rock, pop rock, alternative, progressive, and new wave. “My mother was a rocker! You would never know it by looking at her, as she was a mild mannered, sweet southern lady. She love-love-loved The Beatles, The Doors, Aerosmith, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam. We would go to concerts together and run over each other trying to touch Eddie Vedder!”

Lisa sang in church choirs and college musicals, and eventually she started fronting cover bands. She had always been writing songs, but she didn’t take it seriously. Having a successful career in medical sales, she moved to New Jersey (just outside of New York City) to take a corporate position in marketing. But soon, Lisa longed to be back home. “While I loved the music scene and excitement of Manhattan, I missed the beauty of Tennessee and the music community in Nashville.” Lisa moved back to Nashville after a year-long stint in New Jersey.

Lisa was an only child and had a very close relationship with her mother Donna. “We were like two children growing up together, since we were closer in age than the typical mother-daughter scenario.” It was shortly after Lisa moved back to Tennessee that Donna was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Lisa moved in with her Mom to take care of her. “It was during those months of taking care of my Mom, as I watched her struggle for life, that I realized that each day, each moment,and every breath is precious. She inspired me to take my music more seriously.”

Lisa’s debut CD “Brand New Sun” is the latest testimony to her decision to engage her artistic side. The project is dedicated to her mother. “She was such an inspiration to appreciate every moment, every person, and everything in this beautiful life. That even in despair and pain, there is beauty and love, which sustains us all.”

Donna passed away the day before Lisa’s birthday in 2004. “I wanted to have this CD completed by the anniversary of her passing, which this year was the day before Thanksgiving.  Miraculously, that happened – a miracle.

“Writing and recording this record has been such an emotional journey, but I had the help of many musically talented Angels and friends to help me through. It’s been very therapeutic. Music allows you to express emotions you can’t express in any other way.”

Check out Lisa’s site at http://www.lisahannahmusic.com and buy downloads at http://www.digstation.com/AlbumDetails.aspx?albumID=ALB000062694. More to come from HorizonVU Music!

As good fortune would have it, we had the opportunity to meet at the lovely Imprimerie café near the Louvre, with one of Paris’ brightest new stars to hit the stage, recording artist Victoria Rummler. Vicki, who is currently working on her second album, was able to take some time to sit down with us to discuss life and music in Paris. We’re very lucky to know her both professionally and as a friend. She is tall, blond and blue-eyed, she brightens the room with her shy smile. She’s  best known  for  of her  jazz, but  she crosses over with ease – pop, acoustic, alternative.

Hi, you do go by Vicki, right?

Hi, yes, Vicki’s fine, actually I only started using Victoria when I moved to Paris. People here really love that name – and Vicki is a dog’s name here! (laughs)

So, where are you from originally?

I was born in Royal Oak, Michigan, outside Detroit, and grew up in Rochester, New York, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Miami. We moved a lot because my Dad was with Kodak and got transferred every few years. And I went to Williams College in Massachusetts.

How did your musical journey begin?

My earliest memory is of singing with my Dad in the car. He taught me how to hear and sing harmony, and also to appreciate different languages, since we sang a song in German. I started piano lessons at age 6 and have always loved Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Debussy. In Miami I played in piano competitions, became a cheerleader, sang with a church group that toured Mexico and Central America, and performed with a show chorus in high school. We did some pretty hip stuff at the time – a Chicago medley comes to mind, with some unforgettable choreography on “25 or 6 to 4” (laughs). My senior year I sang with the stage band – we did a strange mixture of Carpenters songs, disco and big band music. I remember hearing Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” for the first time and being totally blown away! I rushed home to let my parents hear it – of course they’d grown up with it and had a good laugh at my expense. But the jazz seed was planted! I also directed and arranged for an a cappella group, the Ephlats, at Williams College. My favorite contribution was the Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes.”

How did you get from Miami to Williams College to Paris? That is more than a taxi cab ride.

(Laughs) That’s for sure. I had always wanted to go to college in New England, and Williams just felt right, so I applied and wasacceptedfor early admission. After graduating in 1988, I wanted something totally different. I’ve always been fascinated by foreign languages and cultures, so I took off for Munich, Germany. What was supposed to be 6 months turned into 5 years, working with BMG Records, and performing with a cabaret/performance art group in German. We did these wacky shows, using psychedelic slides and wearing various things on our heads: bathing caps, giant fluorescent pieces of fruit, blinking Eiffel towers (I kid you not) – a premonition of my future in Paris!

So you ended up in the Paris jazz world by way of Munich?

Pretty much. Again, it was time to shake it up a bit, take on a new challenge, learn another culture. In 1993 I decided to fulfill a lifelong dream by spending a few months in Paris – and I’ve been here ever since! I worked for MCA (now Universal) for almost 4 years, and have been a freelance vocalist/composer/pianist/lyricist for 10.

How does living and performing in France compare with Germany, is it as extreme as we would think?

Kind of. It’s hard to generalize, and it’s important to mention that Paris is like an island different from the rest of France (like NY in the US). But I often found the German lifestyle more similar to the American: more organized, straightforward. In France things seem more complicated, but also more creative. For example, when I worked for the record companies and would call someone in Germany, we would say our name instead of “hello,” get right to the point and the call would be over in 3 minutes. With the French we would talk about the weather, the weekend, or something random for about 15 minutes, and then get to the reason why we were calling. It’s tricky, but fun figuring out how people work. And it’s easier than if I had moved to, say, Bangladesh! (laughs)

“Jazz in Paris” has a better ring to it than “Jazz in Dhaka”? (laughs)

Can you picture that? (laughs) My parents would have been thrilled!

Tell us about your music. Your style is very pure, vocals are both fragile and solid, and it all seems very unique. How did all of that come together?

I did classical and pop and yes disco, growing up, and concentrated on jazz for several years after moving to Paris. The American jazz influencein Paris is huge and it was kind of natural to continue that. I’ve sung in a lot of vocal groups and have tried to remove all boundaries to what I can sing. As for my own style, it’s intricately tied to my experiences in different US cities growing up, in Munich and Paris, the people I’ve met and things I’ve learned along the way. So today it goes beyond jazz and runs the gamut of emotions and genres. It can be playful or powerful, structured or improvised. But more and more it seems to be a direct reflection of my own mood and experience at the moment.

How do Parisian crowds differ from, say, New York or Chicago?

It’s funny, my solo act debuted in France, so I was used to audiences not necessarily knowing all the standards or understanding all the lyrics. So when I did my first US tour in 2005, I was shocked, but thrilled that people hung on every word! It added a whole new dimension to how I could communicate. For example, in Des Moines I did a spontaneous version of “Georgia,” calling it “Iowa.” That show got a standing ovation.

Your first album, “Twinkle,” opened to some great reviews. Tell us a bit about that.

“Twinkle” was released on Pitch Puppy Productions in 2004. It was a presentation of my musical journey up until that point. There’s a wide selection of tunes, from standards “I Could Write a Book” and “They Can’t Take That Away” to a tongue-in-cheek original called “Cocktail Optimism” and waltz ballad “Words,” a cover of Pat Metheny’s “James,” and a Japanese traditional song called “Watashi.” The instrumentation differs from one tune to the next, from piano, bass, drums/percussion to guitar and steel drum. The reviews were great to read. Made me want to record more.

You also perform with an a cappella group?

Yes, a pretty wild, really successful project. In 2005 I was invited to participate in the second album by the cutting-edge French electro-a cappella group “Les Grandes Gueules” (the Big Mouths) for SONY-BMG, released in March 2006. There are 6 vocalists in the group – 3 women, 3 men. The album title, “Vocal Extreme,” pretty much describes it. We experiment with sound, both vocally and electronically, there’s a sound engineer who’s basically the seventh artist in the group. We really push the limits of what can be done with several-part harmony. Being the only American in the group is interesting and has really pushed me linguistically and culturally. A far cry from the stage at Palmetto High School for sure.

So you’re now working on a follow-up album?

Yes, it should be released in the coming months.

How does this album differ from your debut?

The title is “Am I Am,” which is also the title of one of the tracks. I like the symmetry of the phrase, and the fact that it combines a questionand answer. The album is a combination of live recording and programming, including guitar, Fender Rhodes, percussion, electric bass, and special guest stars Olivier Ker Ourio on harmonica and Emmanuel Bex on organ. There are 11 tracks: 9 original tunes, 2 covers and my unusual take on the children’s song “Frère Jacques.” This new project feels like a bolder affirmation of my style, which was recently described as “Erykah Badu and Bobby McFerrin channeling Mel Tormé, somewhere between Paris and Rio.” Not a bad assessment! There are some funk, pop and Brazilian influences, a touch of humor, and lyrics about coming to terms with being an expat, after almost 20 years of living abroad: hellos and goodbyes, traveling, trying to belong, and knowing different languages. It’s also about the cyclical pattern life seems to take: although you leave your past behind, it’s always a part of you and can resurface in your actions or relationships.

Have to tell you – we love the album and the coming together of  genres.  The lead track, “Guys With Ties”  is just – well – infectious!

What does it mean to you to be a professional musician in 2010?

It means being as open and flexible as possible, while staying centered on what you’re experiencing. Every person you meet can influence you, and every project you participate in can feed your own creativity. The day-to-day life can be challenging, but the power of music is fascinating, therapeutic, sometimes bizarre – totally worth it!

Vicki, thank you for your time, it was great talking with you and we wish you the best of luck with your new album.

Thank you, it was great. Enjoy the good weather!

Victoria Rummler will provide a sneak preview of her new album on Friday, July 16 at 9 p.m. at the China, 50, rue de Charenton, 75012 Paris, http://www.lechina.eu/ and on Saturday, July 17 at 7 p.m. at the prestigious Nice Jazz Festival, Scène Matisse, http://www.nicejazzfestival.fr/.

http://www.victoriarummler.com

http://www.myspace.com/vrummler

We’ve been in touch with our friend Kacey Cubero. We recommend that you check out her CD, Fill Your Cup www.kaceycubero.com. Kacey plays a unique brand of Americana, incorporating elements of roots, rock, and country, all with a soulful edginess. That edginess and the originality she brings to her music were evident early on. An only child, her guitar was her best friend and music her refuge. Growing up in a home where music was omnipresent, the Washington, DC-native’s musical baptism was as eclectic and authentic as the music she writes. Haunting and thought-provoking, Kacey’s voice and songwriting have been likened to Shelby Lynne and Lucinda Williams.

The range and versatility of her music is evidenced by her winning the MAVRIC Independent Music Award in 2009 for Folk Song of the Year for Feather in the Wind, and for being named 2006 Artist of the Year by the Santa Barbara Blues Society—the oldest blues society in the U.S.—and representing them in the International Blues Competition in Memphis. From childhood, Kacey had always known music would be her life’s work. Pursuing her music was always the plan, but first she got a college degree in business and finance before she left D.C., her family and friends, and headed to California with her guitar and a suitcase. She spent years writing, performing, touring, and honing her distinctive and edgy blend of rock/alt-country. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the title of her second CD, Diamond in the Rough, conveys a mystique and honesty that has defined both her life and her music. Twice named Indie Artist of the Year by Singer Magazine, Kacey is a prolific songwriter.

She wrote and produced her latest CD, Fill Your Cup, which was mixed in Nashville by the Grammy award-winning David Z (Prince, Etta James and Jonny Lang). There’s a little bit of everything here: the raw rocking anthems I Want More, It’s Alright, and Reserve the Right; a bucolic Old Cadillac; the folksy Feather in the Wind; organic, soulful ballads, What if I Really Love You and Whatcha Gonna Do; the bluesy Set You Free; the evocative steaminess of Under My Skin; the bluegrass tinge of Two Trains; the plaintive longing of Sunday Mornings; and the love letter that is the title song, Fill Your Cup. Kacey has collaborated with many artists and musicians, including Jackson Browne, Jimmy Calire (America), Greg Douglass (Steve Miller Band, Van Morrison), Marty Fera (Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey), Bill Flores (Albert Lee, Jim Messina), Joe Molland (Badfinger), Gary Scruggs, Chris Slade (AC/DC, The Firm), David Sutton (Lucinda Williams, Melissa Etheridge), and Kim Wilson. “For me, it’s all about the music,” Kacey says. “As a writer, I’m able to speak my truth; as a listener, music has always been a sanctuary and my salvation. If I can share that same gift with my audience, and connect in a way that nurtures and inspires them, then I’ve honored my gifts. And there is nothing I would rather do.”

Check out Kacey Cubero Fill Your Cup at SHOP HorizonVU Music

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