2018 has certainly been a memorable year for Nita Strauss. The guitarist, widely known for her time touring with Alice Cooper and for being one of the most in-demand clinicians on the planet, started the year out by unveiling her first Signature Model guitar, the Ibanez Jiva. This coincided with another round of live dates with Cooper as well as solo performances that included Wrestlemania and for the Los Angeles Rams as part of the NFL’s “Salute to Service”. Now, the beautiful blonde shredder is doing something else she’s never done before: releasing her monstrously cool, debut solo album, Controlled Chaos.
With help from her longtime visionary, Josh Villalta, the instrumental album is a snapshot of Strauss’ life as an artist and features an eclectic mix of emotion and guitar wizardry. From the dark and aggressive sounds of songs like “Our Most Desperate Hour” and “Mariana Trench,” to more peaceful tracks like “Hope Grows” and “Here With You,” there really is something for every taste. Strauss even gives a nod to Queen with a haunting version of “The Show Must Go On.”
AXS recently spoke with Nita Strauss about Controlled Chaos and more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: How would you describe Controlled Chaos and how it relates to where you are as a guitarist?
Nita Strauss: This is my first album and first chance to show my personality, so I didn’t want to make a strictly rock or a strictly metal album. I wanted to make an album that encompasses all the different styles and emotions I’ve gone through as a person. On Controlled Chaos you’ll hear the dark and aggressive side (of course),4 but you’ll also hear a bright and fun side and a calm and peaceful side. It’s a snapshot of myself as a guitar player.
AXS: What’s your writing process like?
NS: For me, it starts with a story and with me saying this is what I want to talk about and here is how I want to talk about it. A common misconception people have about instrumental music is that it’s all just notes that work together in sequence. I learned from studying my guitar heroes that’s really not the case. I want to tell a story with the song but leave it to the listener to have their own interpretation of what each one is about. It’s not like a song with words where the lyric is already telling you what it means. These songs can be about whatever they make you feel. That’s the beauty of instrumental music.
AXS: What was the recording process like?
NS: I did a bulk of the recording on a break from the tour over the summer in L.A. The rest was done in the back of tour buses, venues and in hotel rooms. Anywhere I could set up my recording rig. Even if I only had a free hour in-between sound check and the show, I’d set up my equipment and get something done. It was grueling at times but was so worth it because I was able to be really hands on. The album came out exactly the way I wanted it to.
Read the rest of my
Interview with NIta Strauss by Clicking Here.
When singer-songwriter Rachel Reinert joined Gloriana at the age of eighteen, she began a whirlwind journey that yielded the band three critically-acclaimed albums, extensive tours and working with artists like Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Alan Jackson and Zac Brown Band. The group was even awarded the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Vocal Group as well as earning an American Music Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year.
But Reinert had always envisioned herself as a solo artist, and in 2015 the sultry vocalist decided to fulfill her life’s ambition. She stepped away from the spotlight and began developing a sound that infuses her poetic voice with a California-country vibe.
The title of Reinert’s hook-laden debut single, “Cool,” is apropos. For not only does it introduce the beautiful songstress as a solo artist, but it also exposes her unique, groove-ridden combination of pop and country, with tasty elements of artists like The Eagles and The Stone Canyon Band.
AXS recently spoke with Rachel Reinert about “Cool,” her decision to leave Gloriana, and more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: What was the driving force that made you decide to pursue a solo career?
Rachel Reinert: Time was the biggest factor. I had originally moved to Nashville from California when I was sixteen. I signed a publishing deal and had every intention of being a solo artist. I was on that path for a few years; doing a lot of writing and spinning my wheels. When I turned eighteen, I had the opportunity to be a part of Gloriana. It ended up being one of the most amazing experiences of my life for eight years. We had a great run, but after the third album, I thought in my heart of hearts that it was time to set out on a fresh start. So, I put my head down and started writing. I wanted my sound to be very California-country. Rooted in where I come from and the music I was raised on.
AXS: How did your new single, “Cool,” originate?
RR: I started writing with David Naish and Melissa Fuller. We developed this amazing rapport and friendship. Whenever I feel comfortable in a room with someone and can share my experiences and what’s on my mind, that’s when the best songs develop. That day, I went in and told them I wanted to write a song about my first love. So, we started diving into the story and how the relationship I was in went from first love to first heartbreak and being absolutely devastated. Then, over the span of almost fifteen years, the relationship developed into a true, genuine friendship. It’s an interesting dynamic about time and forgiveness and how all of those experiences make you into who you are and where you’re meant to be.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Rachel Reinert by Clicking Here!
Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Palmyra Delran has often been referred to as the “Lucille Ball of Rock ‘n’ Roll” by the legendary Little Steven Van Zandt. But the trash-pop maven and punk pioneer is provoking espionage with her infectiously cool new single, “Come Spy With Me.”
The song is the title-track of Delran’s new album that’s due out Nov. 9. The album mixes groove-ridden elements from the early days of punk and explores subjects like today’s volatile political climate. “Come Spy With Me” also features an arsenal of special guests, including Van Zandt, Debbie Harry (Blondie), and John Carlucci (Fuzztones).
AXS is excited to premiere Delran’s new single, “Come Spy With Me” and recently spoke with about the new music and more in this exclusive interview.
AXS: What inspired the new track, “Come Spy With Me”?
Palmyra Delran: Initially, it was sort of a nod to cool spy shows like “Get Smart”. I’ve always liked the image of people talking into shoes and watches, which are things you can actually do now. I also love those clunky flashcubes on cameras. There was always something so funny about snapping a picture, getting temporarily blinded by the flash and then it would click to the next position. Then I made the connection between that and how weird the world has become. You see surveillance cameras on almost every corner and wonder why people even bother committing crimes. Everything is recorded and they’re sometimes in custody by the next day.
AXS: How would you describe your sound?
PD: Trash Pop… not Pop Trash. Trashy Pop describes the sound of the pop music. My stuff is a little rough but still catchy – with harmonies, hooks and riffs. It’s gotta be melodic!
Brynn Elliott’s debut EP, Time of Our Lives is a beautifully crafted, living diary from the songstress’ four years in college. Her music is inspired by life, feminism, friendship and a deep understand of the human condition.
Songs like her hook-laden “Might Not Like Me” speak to that female empowerment, while the groove-ridden title track and the ethereal “Internet You” talk of living in the moment and not hiding behind faux personas.
Time Of Our Lives is an infectiously palpable debut from a rising star, and better still, just a taste of what’s to come.
AXS recently spoke with Brynn Elliott about her new EP and more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: How would you describe the new EP, Time Of Our Lives, in terms of its sound?
Brynn Elliott: For this EP, I wanted to write empowering anthems because that’s what I was experiencing in college. Each of the five songs came from that four-year journey. Sonically, there’s a lot of eighties empowerment and angst because that’s what the songs are about.
AXS What inspires you when you write and create?
BE: It usually starts with an idea. I studied philosophy at school and love the process of thinking slowly and trying to understand an intuitive or universal idea about the world or human beings. For me, that’s what songwriting is. The best songs come from that one idea; whether it’s the Internet, being a woman in 2018, or the simple experience of falling in love. It always starts with a concept or idea.
AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new EP beginning with the song, “Internet You”. What can you tell me about it?
BE: I have a section in my phone filled with concepts and titles and one of them was for a song that was originally called “Internet Love.” It’s weird how the Internet is shaping our romantic interactions. Sometimes, I would be set up through mutual friends and would check out their Instagram before we met. Then, when we did meet in person, I noticed the person I met in real life was different from the Internet version. We spend so much time curating an image of ourselves that we tend to forget to put the same energy into our relationships. It’s about making the real you the best that it can be.
AXS: How about the track, “Might Not Like Me?”
BE: That’s a song I wrote when I was going through this break-up. I was in a relationship with this guy who made me feel like I was too much into music and school. I was very busy with school and on the road touring on the weekends. He made me feel like I needed to dim my light. I was always concerned about what other people thought of me and that song is about the moment I decided to let him know how I felt. It was my decision to be myself and not worry about the opinions of others.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Brynn Elliott by Clicking Here!
There’s an old adage that says the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and in the case of acclaimed singer/songwriter/artist Brooke Josephson, that sentiment couldn’t be more true. Josephson’s creative gene has been passed down to her daughter, Shira, in a uniquely wonderful way.
Shira Josephson, a book lover and Junior Ambassador at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, noticed that many of the hospital’s patients were so ill that they didn’t have access to the hospital’s first-floor story corner. So the resilient eight-year-old did what any forward-thinking artist would do — she created one of her own.
Last summer, Shira and her mother started Shira’s Story Corner, a video series where the young girl reads some of her favorite books that are later shared with patients. Shira’s weekly series was an insant success; bringing comfort and virtual companionship to many of the non-profit hospital’s isolated patients.
The Junior Ambassadors are the hospital’s youth fundraising group, and following a recent trip to New York City where she befriended another girl, Shira wrote and illustrated her own book, “The Girl On The Subway,” to help raise funds for the hospital. To date, Shira has raised more than $13,000 from book sales and other fundraising efforts.
On Saturday, October 6th, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles will hold its annual Junior Ambassador Action Day, where every donation made will be matched dollar for dollar. This year, The Josephson Family and Shira’s Story Corner are the matching donors. In addition to other fundraising activities planned for the day, Shira will be selling copies of “The Girl On The Subway” as well as her brand new book, “The Fickle Cat Called Pickles,” with all proceeds benefiting CHLA.
As for Shira’s mother, Brooke Josephson, the songstress will be back in New York City on September 21st for a performance at Prohibition. The show will be in support of her amazing new EP, “Sexy N’ Domesticated’. She’ll follow it up with a trip to Amsterdam to shoot the video for a remix of her song, “Mr. Fix It”, with DJ Rocky G.
I recently spoke with Brooke Josephson about Shira’s cause and much more in this exclusive new interview.
How did your family become involved with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles?
A few of Shira’s classmates in pre-school had been patients at the hospital and were blown away by the work they had done for them and their families. Then, two weeks before Shira graduated from pre-school, she fell and broke her arm pretty badly. It required her going under anesthesia for surgery and having to wear three different casts. The time she was away from us was very brief but it left such an impact on her. Then she started thinking about her friends who had been born with heart defects and needed to have surgery every few years. That’s when we started donating and getting involved.
When did Shira’s love of reading originate?
I’ve always loved books. Even when I growing up, I’d always volunteer in our school library re-shelving books while everyone else was at recess. When Shira was a baby, I’d read to her every night. Then, once she started reading on her own, it became a passion for her as well.
How did she become involved the Junior Ambassador program and what inspired Shira’s Story Corner?
When Shira was going into first grade, we started looking into other ways of getting involved instead of just writing a check. That’s when we found out about the Junior Ambassador program, and Shira loved it right away. The program is a mixture of kids from the community as well as current patients. Shira was able to work alongside kids her own age right up to high school seniors. It was during her second training session, when they were doing a tour of the hospital, that they came to the end of the hall, where doors led to floors where the kids were too sick to have visitors.
Afterwards, Shira seemed sad, so I asked her what was wrong. She explained to me that the tour had ended because they couldn’t go past a certain point. Then she lit up and came up with an idea. There was a story corner on the first floor of the hospital; and even though the sick kids couldn’t go there, what if she could make her own story corner and bring it to them? One where she could read books and I could make videos for them to watch. It took off from there!
What inspired Shira to write her own book, “The Girl On The Subway”?
Part of being a Junior Ambassador is creating your own fundraisers, and it was at one of the brainstorming sessions that Shira decided to make her own book. Part of that came from a story she’d read called “The Chocolate Bar” that a little boy had written for his friend who had a rare disease. They had sold the book to raise money for his friend’s treatment. Since we had recently taken a trip to New York, Shira wanted to write a book about a girl her age she met on the subway. To date, she’s raised more than $13,000 between her book and other fundraising. Even other kids in her elementary school have joined the Junior Ambassador program after seeing the work she’s done. It’s been exciting to watch the ripple effect.
What can you tell me about her new book, “The Fickle Cat Called Pickles?”
She actually came up with the idea when she was being interviewed about “The Girl On The Subway” for the hospital. She loves to eat pickles and always wanted to have a cat, but because of allergies, we can only have dogs. One of the cool things was when she was drawing the characters. She wanted the middle part of their bodies to be in the shape of a pickle and the cat’s head to have a heart-shaped face.
Let’s talk about this year’s Children’s Hospital of L.A. Junior Ambassador Action Day.
It’s one day set aside where every dollar donated to the hospital is matched. This year on Action Day, Saturday, October 6th, you can purchase copies of Shira’s books, or you can also go to the CHLA website to make a donation.
Is there a message you’d like people to take away from Shira’s work?
I’m blown away by kids and their courage, even with Shira’s book, “The Girl On The Subway”. She literally just met the girl, and when the adults saw how well they were interacting they asked her how long the two of them had been friends. Shira told them, “We just met.” Then everyone started asking each other why we can’t do this as adults. It was humbling and inspiring. We all need the ability to look each other in the eye and make the world a better place.
From the time she learned to walk, Erin Fleming knew performing would be her calling. The beautiful, multi-talented actress, producer and director certainly has a knack for creating emotionally powerful characters. A feat that’s evidenced in her new film, “Custody Road”.
In “Custody Road” Fleming plays the role of Ashley Towne; the ex-wife of a struggling, up and coming comedian named Logan (portrayed by Josh Daugherty). The film centers on the trials and tribulations of the couple as they battle in court for custody of their young son. But when Logan enlists the help of friends and goes to extremes in an attempt to get his own way, the lives of many are forever changed.
Written and directed by John Lacy, the world of “Custody Road” is best described as a hauntingly desperate landscape. A turbulent and authentically relevant story with an amazing ensemble cast and an insatiable “Sleeping With The Enemy” vibe. Fleming’s performance is particularly appealing, as she channels her own personal struggles into creating an emotionally flawed character that resonates with audiences.
I recently spoke with Erin Fleming about her role in “Custody Road” and more in this exclusive new interview.
How did you become involved in “Custody Road”?
My very good friend and co-star, Frank Crim (who plays Otis in the film), called me up one day and told me about a role he thought I’d be perfect for. He wanted to know when I’d be available to meet the director, John Lacy. So, John and I met and history was made. I actually met Josh [Daugherty] on that same day. It was chemistry from the very start.
What was it that attracted you to the project?
The character of Ashley relates to many women who’ve gone through trauma in their lives. She’s someone who’s gone through a difficult lifestyle with her mother and father; surviving an abusive husband, and then having her husband continue to bully her after the divorce. Those kind of things are what a lot of women have to face daily, and most of their stories are never told. I was so happy to see that John was willing to explore such a powerful story. It’s something we really need more of.
As an actress, is there a certain mindset you have to get in to take on such a role?
We all have our own personal traumas we go through, so exploring my own world and the things I’ve had to deal with was a major factor in getting into the character. I also had an abusive boyfriend for years and so, for me, it was instantly personal.
How would you describe the story of “Custody Road”?
It’s a story about two broken people really struggling within themselves and over the custody of their son, and the journey of figuring out how to heal.
What else can you tell me about your character, Ashley?
Ashley comes from a really dysfunctional family. One that was always hiding behind the false pretenses of religion. She’s desperately trying to break free of that world and uses her body and herself to find a connection she never had with her personal life. She’s trying to pursue her own salvation like so many humans do in life. But we sometimes hurt each other along the way, when all we’re really trying to do is help ourselves.
It was such a fun journey to meet these people and become a big family. I really enjoy working with directors with a pro attitude and John’s technique is fantastic. Being that he also comes from the acting world made it that much better. The chemistry between Josh and I was spontaneous and wonderful. We really understood each other well. It was fun, and terrifying, to explore the lives we were creating. I’ve also been wanting to work with Frank Crim for years. The entire cast was so talented and the set was really special. It was amazing all around.
Was a career in entertainment something you always knew would be your calling?
I’ve wanted to act ever since my body and brain could communicate with the world. Everything was art to me. My dad is an actor and my mom is a makeup artist. Dancing and acting is what fed my soul. I started acting professionally when I was five with the Seattle Children’s Theatre and then with Seattle Repertory Theatre. From there, I traveled in a show in San Diego when I was seventeen and when I was finished with the show, I moved to L.A.
Do you ever foresee yourself getting on the other side of the camera at some point – either as a writer, producer or director?
I started my own company, Shakespeare In The Sphere, in 2015 with Tony Williams and Don Purnell. We produce film, television pilots and 360 degree educational and behind the scenes entertainment. I also direct many of the projects. The learning curve is interesting to me and fascinating.
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on right now?
Right now, I’m producing a TV pilot that has some seriously amazing talent attached. I’m in the cast as well and it’s very exciting. I have to leave it at that for now but stay tuned!
What are you most looking forward to about this next phase of your career?
I’m looking forward to the next creative journey. I love what I do and am so blessed with my strength and hardworking ability as a woman. “Custody Road” is such an amazing film that really speaks to the human experience. I’m ready for whatever comes next.
It’s been an incredible year for guitarist, Malina Moye. Not only did the beautiful, multi-talented artist release her genre-defying collection, Bad As I Wanna Be, but the new album also marked Moye’s first #1 album on the Billboard Blues album chart and featured songs that infused the best elements of funk, rock, blues and soul.
Now, Moye sets her sights on another side of creativity – acting— where she’ll make her big screen debut in the Marc Fusco directed film, “The Samuel Project.” The story centers on a teenager named Eli (Ryan Ochoa) who, for a school art project, gets to know his Jewish grandfather, Samuel (played by the legendary Hal Linden), who was rescued from Nazi capture as a young boy. Moye plays the role of Violet Leroux, a bohemian art director who befriends Eli and shows him what’s possible with his gift.
Moye also penned a song specifically for the film. The emotionally charged anthem, “Enough,” which features her sultry vocals and guitar wizardry. The track is also featured on Bad As I Wanna Be. The Samuel Project hits theaters on Friday, Sept. 28.
AXS recently spoke with Malina Moye about the film, her new single and more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: Many people know you for your infectious brand of guitar playing. Was acting something you always wanted to explore as well?
Malina Moye: It’s something that I started to discover early on in high school. I remember a friend of mine had asked me about filling in as an actor for a project she had been working on. I did the scene and really enjoyed it and got a lot of great feedback. At one point, I remember having to make a decision on whether to pursue acting or music. I obviously chose music because it was my passion and calling. But when this opportunity came up, it was another way for me to express my creativity.
AXS: What attracted you to “The Samuel Project” – was it the story? Your character? Getting the chance to work with some of these other amazing actors?
MM: It was all of the above. Everyone wants to show what you can do, and this was a way to show people another side of me. It’s a character I thought I could really bring something to and have people see me in a different light. Ryan Ochoa plays the teen my character befriends and I help him realize what’s possible with his gift. Hal Linden is such a legendary actor, so to also have a few scenes with him was unbelievable.
AXS: What else can you tell me about your character?
MM: Violet’s a classy, bohemian art director with a great personality and is one of Samuel’s favorite customers. Whenever she comes in she brings the greatest energy, light and all things positive.
Click here to watch the trailer for “The Samuel Project.”
AXS: What are some of the differences between performing music and acting? Is there one that gives you more creative satisfaction?
MM: When you’re on stage playing it’s a whole different feeling. That stage is the set and there’s no do-over. You feed off the energy from the audience, and when you get off stage at the end, you’re amped up. It’s the fifth gear of entertaining. With acting; and especially if you’re doing a deep, heavy scene, it can take a lot out of you. But that just shows you what an incredible instrument your body is. You have to be present and in the moment for both, and that’s what I love about it.