broadcasting local talent

Whitney Ballen

Greetings beloved viewers!
Sorry for the delay in blog articles, this past weekend I was very busy with my school’s talent show. With a performance on both Friday and Saturday night, needless to say, my weekend disappeared before I knew it. I will be uploading the performance onto YouTube soon so I can show everyone…
Somewhere between school and talent show, I wound up with the student’s worst enemy: a cold. My latest interviewee was unable to meet up in person due to her busy schedule, which is probably for the best, since I am in no condition to be chatting with a nice healthy person. No one wants to be interviewed by a droopy looking ragamuffin wrapped in a Winnie The Pooh blanket.
Since her email responses to my questions were a joy to read as-is, I decided just to directly paste them onto this article, so that you can read her words literally word-for-word.
So here you go, a small window into the vast creative mind of Whitney Ballen, a girl whom I was extremely impressed with when I saw her perform live at the Old Fire House a couple months ago.

My first performance was at the Old Fire House in 2005, when I was in ninth grade. Before this I had only really performed to myself, by myself, when nobody was home in my bedroom (which is mostly still the case, haha). I started attending shows at the Old Fire House when I was in 8th grade because one of my friends brother’s had a band who played a show there once, and after that I started coming back and meeting people who liked similar music as me.

I’ve never taken any vocal lessons. My mother used to make my sister and I take piano lessons, but I didn’t learn anything that I can remember today except that it isn’t good to “bang on the piano” or “slam the top shut.”

I don’t think I’ve ever sat down to “write a song.” I like to keep a journal of words though, whether it is in my phone “notebook” or in my school notebooks. From single words I form songs.

I have been performing at teen centers on the east side since I began, but I have also performed at many venues in Seattle such as the Vera Project, SIFF, Skylark club, and the Greenhouse. I do not have any announced upcoming shows yet. Since I have been working on a new album since last June (2010), I have tried to keep shows at a minimum, but I can say that my next show will be my vinyl and album release show, and will include a full band!

I used to go to Seattle and see shows all of the time but unfortunately school and work have kept me from doing so these days. But, I have always adored seeing local bands play, especially acoustic folk artists like Laura Veirs, and Mount Eerie.

I guess it is always important to remember why you are playing music, or why you want to perform for people…. Don’t try to form a band just because you want to tell people you are in a band. There must be a reason, some desire.

I will let the wind take me where it is supposed to go, and I’m just along for the ride.

I have a few songs posted on my sonic bids website and some older songs on my music myspace page, but all of these will be updated with songs from my new album “White Feathers, White Linens” when it is released!

This past Friday, I rushed to the Eastside Battle Of The Bands directly from my school’s talent show (where I had sung “Mad World” with Jared the pianist). I arrived at about 8:30, just in time to watch the tail end of Fall By performing live. They were doing Hysteria, but with a cool twist, since their lead singer is a cool (with awesome vibrant red hair, might I add). Fall By had a lot of energy, and their singer was very confident in her movements. Next came the band Running With Scissors, whom I was unfamiliar with (the one competing band that I did not get to interview!), whose originality I much enjoyed. While rocking out in the crowd, I ran into a couple band members of Roll The Credits, whom I am now planning my senior project closure with! I was disappointed that I had missed their live performance (and I also missed Stuck On A Bus! Sad day!), but I’m sure I will be hearing plenty of them while we rehearse for the concert (mark your calendars for May 7th- we are having a concert at Ground Zero!). I went into the “acoustic zone” to hear MINT perform. I got to hear them do their own version of KIDS by MGMT and The Cave by Mumford and Sons, as well as their original song about a failed first kiss. The final performance of the night was Dose of Redemption, who opened with an Evanescence hit, sung by their lead vocalist (yes, he is a guy singing Evanescence, and it sounded awesome!). I’m sad to say that I can’t remember specifically their other songs, as I was busy dancing and mingling. The night wrapped up when they announced that Running With Scissors won the competition. I know it’s cliché to say, but I truly believe that all the bands should have won a prize for their performances. If the award was won it terms of audience enjoyment, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t all have gotten prizes, because we were all lovin’ it! If anyone has any recordings/sound clips of these bands, please contact me.

Dose Of Redemption

Last Monday, I met up with three members from Dose of Redemption; a newly formed band that competed in the Eastside Battle of The Bands. Jordan (guitar) , Colter (drums) and Drew (bass), all seventeen years of age, chatted with me about the formation of their band, mostly through the aid of School of The Rock (not to be confused with school OF rock) at the Northwest University Church. The two other members of the band are Austin (lead vocals) and Seth (second guitar). Their cool band name was brought about using a Band name generator. They have only had one official gig at a Retirement Party, but are planning on going into studio and working out new recordings soon. At the Eastside Battle of The Bands, Dose of Redemption mixed covers (including an Evanescence song, performed in a manly-er way with their lead singer, Austin, which I enjoyed) with originals. Coming together to write an original piece can be tough, as each instrument player can only “speak” with their instrument. Despite these challenges, the band has decided that they want to focus on a hard rock sound. On being part of a band, Drew insists that you have to be good at instrument to be “cohesive” with another band, and when performing, Colter says to be aware of the audience’s feelings: “If you have fun, the audience is going to have fun”. Similary, Drew states that loving music translates into having fun playing music, and “If [the audience] sees you enjoying it, then they are going to enjoy it too”. As for creating an awesome song? “Practice and it won’t be seen as a chore!” says Jordan. I found that this was true, as watching Dose of Redemption live was an extremely fun experience.
They are also currently working on creating a facebook page and getting some band photos.
To hear our interview, click here:DoseofRedemption

Roll The Credits

As much as I love to meet and interview new people, I always get a little nervous prior to the first rendez-vous. But when I showed up at the Old Firehouse to meet the band members of Roll The Credits, all my anxiety dissipated the moment that they greeted me. With handsome smiles and uplifting, positive energy, the band mates each introduced themselves to me right off the bat. Not only are these boys punctual and polite; they also rock.
The five band mates connected over facebook about five months ago (the power of the internet is amazing), and have been inseparable since. The band name Roll The Credits was decided upon after much deliberation, as it is often true that the “Best music of any movie comes at the end”. Even though the majority of the boys go to the same school, they insist that “music brought [their] band together…[and they] wouldn’t actually know each other without it”. The band is comprised of Aravind Parasurama – Saxophone, Keys, Colin Malaska – Bass, Colton Stapper – Guitar, vocals, Jacob McCaslin – Lead guitar, lead vocals and Will Gerlach – Drums. They have all learned their musical instruments independently, and usually practice at Will’s house since he has the drum set and the space. Colin, Jacob, and Colton have played in coffee shops and lounges acoustically within Seattle and Kirkland, which helps them to get their (and the band’s) music out to local areas. Their first performance as a band was at Studio 7, which was an interesting experience for them, as they were the only teenagers there. Will compares the overall feel of that show as “being at a show in guitar hero” with the dingy lights and crazy crowd. Although the people in charge of the club wanted to cut them off early because they were young, lots of people wanted to “let them play”, which proves that they can appeal to audiences way outside their age range.
All five boys have completely different tastes in music, from electronic to blues to hard rock, and all of their genres together “sounds like a blender”. Currently, they stick to just performing Jacob’s songs, as he is the main mastermind writer (though they all put their own flavor into the final product). “Everyone has been able to come together through [Jacob’s Style], even if we didn’t play that kind of style before” – the band mates express themselves through their incorporation and interpretation of his sound. When they eventually reach the recording studio, they want to come together to create an original sound, but a different kind of mix on each track that echoes each band mate’s style. Colin states that it is vital to “learn your basic theory work, and then just be in a band because you love to play music”, which I think is excellent advice. Aravind’s advice for performing? “Have fun and look like your having fun….and keep your shirt on!”
To hear our full interview, click here:Roll The Credits

Fall By

On a stormy Wednesday afternoon, I met with Brian Hitchens, lead guitarist of the rock band Fall By.
The band is composed as follows:
Lead/Rhythm Guitar: Brian Hitchens, Samammish HS, 16 years old
Lead Vocals: Melanie Morris, Lake Washington HS, 16 years old
Bass Guitar: Philip Snyder, Odea HS, 15 years old
Drums: Henry LaVallee, Mercer Island HS, 14 years old.
The four have been together as a band for about a year and a quarter, originally brought together by Brian’s guitar teacher and Philip’s drum teacher. So far their show venues include Showbox Sodo, Studio 7 and the Kirkland Performance Center. They perform original songs, though they have been covering “Hysteria” by Muse (and who wouldn’t? That song is awesome). The creative process behind the original tunes is that they all write songs through chord progressions, one idea leads to another, and then Melanie writes lyrics and melodies. Brian defines their song as rock/alternative rock, with artist heroes such as 30 Seconds to Mars and Muse. Their main goal as a band is to have fun and enjoy themselves, and Brian states that in order to be part of a band, “you have to open to everyone’s ideas, because if you want to be in a band, you have to listen”. Also, practicing often is a necessity, and to be “Consistent and Cooperative: The Two C’s”, Brian laughs. You can check out their music on facebook and on their website.

Check out our full interview here:Fall By

Stuck On a Bus

This Sunday, I met with the band Stuck On a Bus, who will be performing at the Battle of The Bands on March 18th at the Old Firehouse in Redmond. We had a bit of a snafu meeting up; our planned located of the OFH turned out to be a fail, who knew that it would be closed on Sundays…
Anyways, thank goodness for their kind mothers who accompanied us on the interview, as we were able to find a Starbucks and have our chat (the reason why there is some Aretha Franklin and coffee machines blaring through behind our voices on the audio clip). I sat down with Chase (vocalist), Kyle (guitarist) and Lydia (bass), three gracious and energetic band members (the other two who could not make it are cool too, I’m sure). These three besties-ages 13, 15, and 16 respectively- met through the School of Rock, where they acquired quality instrumental and performance skills (“It’s not fun to watch a band that doesn’t move” says Chase). Although they mostly cover songs, though they plan on writing their own material soon “Covering songs is just like getting tight as a band…if you don’t cover songs, then you don’t really get to know each other as well…don’t know each other’s limits,” says Kyle. With influences from bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains, and Radiohead, they are certain that they “get more response when [they] play classic hits”. They frequent venues such as the High Dive and The Crocodile, and haven’t really expanded outwards from Seattle (but everyone knows Seattle is the coolest place for music, so why move?). Most shows are 21 and over, but they have more fun when their shows are all ages, so that their friends can actually hear them perform live. Although they do not get together to practice as much as they’d like, they sure have a blast when they do have a chance to practice together. Chase describes being in a band as being “a rush”, and Lydia has found strength as a live performer through practice. And Kyle, well, he has been having fun bouncing between bands and mastering his epic guitar skills.

To hear the full interview, click here!StuckOnaBus

Time’s Asylum Live

TGIF, everyone! I don’t know about you, but I am SO excited that the weekend is finally here.

My buddy Jonny Koch and his band, Time’s Asylum, had a gig at Ground Zero on the 19th of February. Since I was in sunny Arizona, I had to miss out on them. However, thanks goodness for videos; a concert experience right on my your own computer screen! So here is Time’s Asylum, performing Far Away, Lies, and Our Asylum.


I also want to thank those of you who took my poll earlier this week, your feedback is very important to me!

This Sunday, I will be meeting and interviewing the band Stuck On a Bus. Until then, have a fun Friday, and rock on.

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