Tag Archive | "alumni"

Get on the RickExpress with “Ex-Man”

by Dom Jones

Photo by: RickExpress

Photo by: RickExpress

Ricky McKinney just graduated from Berklee this past Spring, and already he’s touring and releasing music. I caught up with Ricky (known as RickExpress) to talk about life after Berklee, and his new single “Ex-Man.” Read our chat below:

What sound were you going for on your new song “Ex Man?” What inspired it?

Ex Man was written after overhearing a guy tell his ex girlfriend that he was better then her next man. For some reason that line stuck with me and I decided to write a song about it, considering many people could relate to it. I didn’t want to write something sad and weary so decided to keep it groovy and funky.

Did you work with any other Berklee students on the song? What was the creation process?

Well, I wrote everything for the song other than the horn arrangement, which was done by my amazing brother, Nikko Lelasi. It took about 15 minutes to write and about 10 minutes to tweak. When writing, I think about what I want to say – then just say it. When I got with my band, it really locked and I was super stoked about it!

You’ve been on tour over the summer, how has that been?

I have been blessed to tour with my band this summer! The “Bringin’ it Back” tour started in my hometown in North Carolina and has been so much fun ever since. To see hundreds of people enjoying my music and performance has been rewarding and humbling. I’m super dedicated to my vision and can’t go without thanking my parents, siblings, family, and friends for their support. I dedicate each performance to my grandmother who passed away earlier this year. It has been really tough without her, but I definitely feel her love and infectious smile all around me. The next stop is the Salem Jazz Festival August 13! Let’s go!!

Since you’ve just graduated from Berklee, how is life after?

“Life after Berklee” is so bizarre to say. That was my dream school and I love every moment of it. Now that I’ve graduated, I’ve just been working on my business. I’ve been booking gigs, working with many artists, songwriting, networking, and more. Being your own boss is a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. There’s a lot more to come, but I can truly say that I understand the saying “hard work pays off.” I realize that I can only get out what I’m willing to put in and with that being said, it’s all or nothing. 

Should we look out for a forthcoming album? If so, what/where/when?

I am so excited to release my EP later this year! I haven’t put a date to it yet but we are in the recording stage for it now. It’s gonna feature some amazing talents and I can’t wait for the world to hear it!

We blow the whistle to sound the alarm. There’s a party going on and RickExpress is the host. Ain’t no party like a RickExpress party ’cause a RickExpress party don’t stop!

Alright, Groovers, the wait is over! Watch “Ex-Man” below:


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Anna Wise’s Unabashed and Uncensored Wisdom

Source: grammy.com

Source: grammy.com

by Dom Jones

Berklee alum and Grammy-winning artist, Anna Wise, performed in the Caf last week during her visit to Berklee w/ her band Sonnymoon. I was one of the fortunate Songwriting majors who had office hours with her earlier in the week. Obviously, I knew Anna from Kendrick Lamar’s song “These Walls,” on the To Pimp A Butterfly album, but before I met her, I wanted to listen to Anna, the solo artist. So, I went to her website, and what I saw, front and center, was a video for her latest single, “BitchSlut.” I was taken aback by the title of the song, but was curious to hear what would follow in the content. Take a moment to watch the video below.

If you heard the song the way I heard it, an anthem of empowerment and examination of the entitlement that accompanies sexism is what emerges here. Taking something enraging – these derogatory terms often flung at women, for no other reason than the manner in which we choose to engage (or not engage) with the opposite sex – and transforming it into something that illuminates that story creatively is what I would come to expect from Anna during our short time together, both in the office hours and at the Caf show.

As the Caf show filled up, Anna would sing familiar songs, unreleased music, eventually inviting her band Sonnymoon to join her on stage. What stood out was how personable she was, frequently conversing with audience members and even coming down from the stage to dance with show goers. The fun and familial feeling of the show was a reflection of how organic Anna’s music is and the abandon with which she engages performance.

It was also great to see her mesh instruments and electronics in her set, with the guitar player from Sonnymoon, and Anna using a looper to record hooks/background vocals on the spot during her solo songs. Much of what artists are doing to be innovative (and frankly, to reduce overhead) was illustrated in this set, making it not only an exciting time, but also a learning experience. Ultimately, Anna’s time here at Berklee gave us a glimpse into what some of us can expect after Berklee if we work hard and stay consistent.

The Feminine EP is out April 27th, 2016, and is available for pre-order on iTunes.


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Atlanta 2016 Spring Break Trip Changes Lives of Students

Photo by Prince Charles Alexander

By Cierra Johnson

This past spring break, a group of 20 students visited Atlanta, Georgia, receiving an intensive, in-depth view of the Atlanta music industry. Led by Prince Charles Alexander (Professor of Music Production and Engineering), Carl Beatty (Assistant VP of Artist and Music Industry Relations), Karen Bell (Chief Alumni Officer), and Jason Stokes (Assistant Professor of Music Production and Engineering), the journey provided invaluable insight through its direct interactions with various promoters, accomplished musical artists, songwriters, producers, engineers, alumni and other music industry professionals.

Students on past trips have visited the Atlanta chapters of BMI, SESAC, ASCAP and NARAS; the recording studios Silent Sound, Patchwerk, Doppler, DARP, ZAC and Tree Sound; the law offices of Greenberg-Traurig; as well as CNN, Tyler Perry Studios, Live Nation, the Tabernacle, V-103, Club Apache, SAE, the King Center and Max Lager’s (an establishment owned by alumnus John Roberts).

I had the privilege of attending the trip, and I’ll be sharing the experiences and highlights from the trip that really impacted my life, including meeting Grammy-nominated songwriter Makeba Riddick-Woods and other surprise music industry professionals.

Before going on the alternative spring break Atlanta trip, a friend who went last year told me it felt “magical” and life changing. This idea seemed far-fetched, so as the trip approached I expected it to feel like a place I’d been to before. As I explored the city with our group I was surprised by how at home I felt, despite never having been to Atlanta. We met with some of the biggest names in the music industry, yet everyone was open, honest, and friendly; something one may not find in other cities.

We left from Boston on Tuesday, March 15 and had a 4-hour delay at the airport. But during that time, we got to know each other. I also got my first taste of the wisdom and knowledge that professor Prince Charles Alexander imparted to us on a daily basis. When we finally landed in ATL we went to dinner at Max Lager, an upscale restaurant where one of the owner’s, John Roberts is a Berklee alumni. While there we were able to meet with Lil John Roberts, one of the most sought after Jazz and R&B drummers of his generation. One thing that really stood out to me about each person we met in Atlanta was how humble and down to earth he or she was. Lil John Roberts has performed with almost every notable Jazz and R&B musician out right now, yet he took time to speak with us and gave useful advice one musician to another.


Photo by Prince Charles Alexander

There were several highlights of the trip, and the most extraordinary one for me was the chance to meet songwriting sensation Makeba Riddick-Woods. I have been following her career since being a fledgling musician in high school, and when I found out we were going to meet her I was ecstatic. She was a part of the Alumni panel we had on Wednesday night, and as soon as I walked in the building she was the first person I saw. I remember seeing her and whispering to a friend, “That’s Makeba!” They recommended I talk to her, so after I composed myself I walked over and introduced myself to her and her husband. We had small talk and when I told her we were both from Maryland and studied music business she was very responsive. Again, although Makeba is one of the biggest songwriters/vocal producers in the music industry she was completely down to earth and personable. When she spoke I was euphoric. One of the most striking comments she made was that the grind helped push her through her struggles. She worked HARD to get to where she is and let us know that we needed to do the same if we wanted to be successful.

Professor Prince Charles Alexander said throughout the trip, “You never know who might show up…”, and indeed there were many surprises along the way. Some of the most memorable to me were entertainment attorney Joel Katz, CEO’s Stone & Tashia Stafford, Vocal producer Kuk Harell, songwriter Sean Garrett, and singer-songwriter Avery Wilson. With the exception of Avery none of them were on our original schedule, but we were blessed to have them speak with us anyway. Just being in the presence of these great people empowered me, and when they spoke they were meticulous with every word. From what I gathered, every person we met on the trip made a few key points: 1. Work hard 2. Network 3. Have patience; everything will not come immediately 4. Be able to work for free while making your way into the industry 5. Always stay a student to your craft.


Photo by Shania Wilcox

Thanks to everyone I met on the ATL 2016 trip I have become much more focused and dedicated to the rest of my time at Berklee, and my life as a whole. Before going on this trip I was working hard, but coasting along on my natural abilities and not truly pushing myself to the fullest. After seeing how hard our presenters work I now realize that being good isn’t good enough. I need to be faster, stronger, and better in every aspect. I recognized how entitled I had been and how detrimental that is to my career as a musician and in general. Also, my goals need to be refined and much more specific, something I didn’t know until an impromptu conversation with professor Jason Stokes.

I want to give a special shout out and thank you to our facilitators Prince Charles Alexander, Jason Stokes, Karen Bell, Carl Beatty, and Charles McGarvey. Without them this trip would not be possible, and I would not be who I am today. I feel like a different person because of what I experienced on this trip and I found 5 new mentors and family members in each of them. While waiting in the airport on the way back to Boston I began reminiscing, and realized that Atlanta exceeded every expectation I had. I’m sure everyone who went on the trip will agree when I say that I will never be the same after being there. We became a family during our five-day stay in ATL, and our experiences there have truly bonded us.

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Brandon Maclin (’12): On Tour with Daughtry, Donnie Mcclurkin and Raheem Davahgn


By Cierra Johnson

Alumnus Brandon Maclin (’12) is a skilled, accomplished drummer who graduated recently and has gone on to tour with several well-known artists, including Grammy award winning Gospel artist Donnie McClurkin and American Idol winner rock artist Daughtry.  He studied Professional Music with a concentration in Performance and Music Business during his time at Berklee. Other artists he has played with include R&B stars Raheem Devahgn and Eric Robeson. I was able to interview him via Facetime and we had a long chat about being on tour, the importance of patience, creating relationships with people and much more.

Berklee Groove: What was your time at Berklee like?

Brandon Maclin: My experience at Berklee was incredible; it really grew me a lot in both maturity and in music. It taught me how to be responsible and mature in life as well as in music. Where I come from, which is Washington DC, there’s a lot of raw talent, but there isn’t a whole lot of musicians there who completely understand the educational process of music and can explain it. So being at Berklee really taught me how to do that—how to read music comfortably and how to be a better musician all the way around in terms of playing, relating to different genres, and being able to be a chameleon and musician not just a drummer.

BG: Can you talk about what that means for you? Being a musician overall, not just a drummer?

BM: Absolutely! Being a musician is like someone who is a creator of music to me. Being a drummer is just someone who plays the drums. It’s looking at music at a different perspective. Being a musician, I’m a team player. Being a drummer, I’m one-sided, only thinking about the drums. Being a musician, it’s imperative that you’re thinking of everyone else, not just yourself. As a drummer I have to lock with the bass player, I can’t play too many chops over the vocalist or throw everyone else off doing my own thing. I have to make sure the music is presented, not just my instrument.

BG: Those points actually tie into my next question! What are the most important skills Berklee students should know in order to be successful musicians?

BM: Patience is one. Patience because we have a false reality of thinking that just because we went to Berklee we’re going to be successful immediately, and that is not the case. Berklee will also have you believe you are the best at what you do and that you’re really great which might be true! But when you leave the Berklee community, you’re competing against the best of the best in the world—not just the best at Berklee. You also have to hussle. Grinding is big, you have to work hard. In the Berklee community there are so many opportunities right there for you to just grasp. You can put on a Caf Show just by signing up. Trying to put on a concert is not the same thing. You have to have funds, book food, etc., and that takes money. The grind will teach you how to stack money in such a way that you are successful in putting on your event. Number three, you have to be grounded in your beliefs. The music industry will offer you the world at the exposure of success. If you are not careful you will lose yourself trying to chase success and find yourself compromising what you stand for and believe.

BG: What do you think has contributed to your success thus far?

BM: My love for music I would say. Also God. God because I really believe that through Him I am able to do what I’m doing. His blessings and the gift I have comes from him, so I desire to give back to the world something that God gave to me. I also say the love of music because I will do music for my entire life. The more that you love music, the more you are able to handle it correctly.

BG: What do you mean by that?

BM: The more you love music, the more you won’t cheapen what it takes to make great music. There are a lot of people that are cheapening how music is done, and it’s because they don’t really love it—they just like it. One thing I’m learning in the music industry is, although the audience may not be musicians, they can feel what is passionate and what’s not. They can tell authenticity, and when you’re really authentic, there’s a certain energy that exudes out of your heart that goes into the crowd that they feel. If you keep and play from that energy, you will never be unsuccessful in the music industry. Not only will the audience love what you do, the artist will too. It tells them that you’re fully invested in the same music they’re invested in. And artists want to be on a team of people that are just as invested as they are.

BG: Do you have any tips to prepare for auditioning? Is there something you do before each audition?

BM: Oh yeah, I pray! That’s real because I pray to calm myself, because the audition process is nerve racking. It’s almost one of the hardest things you can do because you’re about to go into a room with all these people you don’t know, and they will look at you and see if you fit they’re perspective of great music. And you don’t know what they’re perspective or opinion is. So I pray or meditate to calm and center myself. Secondly it’s preparation. Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the better you get at it, and if you practice something so many times you can’t get it wrong. Thirdly, be versatile and show everyone a good bit of everything you have to offer. You never know what the small piece of the whole pie can offer.

BG: How often do you practice everyday?

BM: I don’t practice everyday! All that and I contradicted myself! But what I do make sure I do everyday is listen to music that I normally would not listen to.

BG: Like what?

BM: I love Gospel music, but when I get in the car I’m listening to Daughtry, Muse, Coldplay, U2. Music I wouldn’t normally listen to. It’s good to be well-rounded because you never know what call you might get. Before I was playing for Daughtry, I would never play rock music. I was doing R&B and Gospel. But when I got the opportunity to play I thought, “I’m a fish out of waster!” So I put my ear to all the rock I could just to get a good idea of what I should sound like when I play. Berklee definitely helped me with this because when I was there, I did Singer Showcase twice, Singer’s Night three times, American Songbook two times and multiple shows that would encourage me to know how to play versatile music. I hated Ken Zambello when I was there, but he made me a better drummer. He opened me up to thinking outside the box, or as if it doesn’t exist.

BG: I know you mentioned that you love R&B and Gospel, so who are your favorite artists to listen to?

BM: I really like Tye Tribbet, Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, Justin Beiber, Snarky Puppy, Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles are incredible! I like Stevie Wonder. He’s one of my favorite artists. Also Bobby Caldwell and Daughtry!

BG: Was that before you started playing for him or after?

BM: I will say that once I had to learn the music, I gained a huge appreciation and love for his music. Sooner or later they’re gonna ask me to sing because I sing loud behind the drums! I love their music a lot. Put Earth, Wind and Fire on there! Also a Jewish-Christian band called Hannaneil. The list goes on and on for people I really like. As far as Berklee artists, I like Esperanza Spaulding and King, I love them!

BG: From that same vein, who are the top five people you want to work with before you die?

BM: Stevie Wonder! I’ll say Kanye West, because although he’s in hip-hop culture, he’s a musician. I know he’s crazy but he’s unbelievable. Hanna Neil, Beyonce, and Justin Bieber.

BG: This is backtracking a bit but what did you do to prepare for leaving Berklee? In terms of setting up different gigs, interships, etc.?

BM: I built relationships with everybody, which is key. When I was preparing to leave Berklee, I had friends who were playing for Raheem Devaghn, and that’s when I started playing for him. I graduated in May and started rehearsing with him in June. I know that’s a rare case.

BG: How did you get that job?

BM: A friend of mine who was playing at the time recommended me. They called me in for an audition and it just happened perfectly. But back to the first question; figure out what you want to do. If you don’t know what you’re going to do, you’ll be going nowhere fast or running in circles, trying to get something, hoping for the circle to stop, and it wont. If you have a direction you want to go in, which you should be by the time you get to graduation, then start planning to move in that direction. I would actually flip them—know where you’re going and build relationships to help you get there.

BG: Have you had to work any day jobs to sustain yourself since leaving Berklee or have they all been music-related?

BM: They’ve all been music-related, but one of my current jobs does require daytime hours. I’m a director of Music of Fine Arts at my church, and for that I work Tuesday-Thursday 10am-2pm. That job provides me with a sense of security. For example, I have insurance with that one, a 401K, and more.

BG: My last question is: what is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

BM: Go after your dreams. There’s no one who’s going to help you achieve your dreams more than you.

You can follow Brandon on his Instagram, TwitterFacebook, and Snapchat under his name Brandon Maclin.

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Farewell from Your Editor


By Caleb Hsu

Entering unfamiliar territory is always a daunting task, especially when you feel isolated and left to your own devices. College is an exciting time that can initially overwhelm freshman because they’re exposed—oftentimes for the first time—to tastes of what it’s like being a functioning individual amidst a planet vastly larger than themselves. Newfound freedom, uncomfortable social situations, unexpected self discoveries, and academic challenges all present themselves simultaneously to create a whirlwind of confusion. I remember feeling small, almost like I was witnessing snapshots of life whiz by at light speed. I transferred to Berklee as a piano principle from the University of Florida as a dual major candidate studying classical clarinet performance and cognitive psychology. I knew nothing about jazz, and I felt out of place surrounded by internationally trained pianists. Instead of facing my fears and externalizing the self-doubt I experienced entering Berklee’s campus in the heart of Boston, I initially shrunk myself down and retreated. Nevertheless, I found a way to overcome this suffocating feeling of defeat by taking control of my own circumstances.

The first thing you should know is that it’s alright to feel alone and it’s even expected. Talk to someone about it! This will reposition that negative energy and enable you to channel it into something productive. Berklee is filled with resources that help ease the transition period from being an outsider to feeling confident and capable. Obviously, your peers are a fantastic option to connect with since they can directly relate, but don’t neglect reaching out to your professors. Not only do Berklee faculty and staff offer career-defining insight, they also offer realistic advice to help navigate your way through adulthood as a musician. Berklee professors can become indispensable lifetime contacts if you proactively seek them outside the classroom. One visitation during scheduled office hours can lead to a connection that can jumpstart your entire career.

The most advantageous bit of advice I can offer is to be proactive and get involved in areas that interest you as soon as possible. In my first semester, I signed up to be a contributing writer for The Berklee Groove, which quickly led to a full-time student supervisor position, trained to be a BIRN DJ, which led to getting hired as the BIRN’s Communications Director, attended countless seminars and club meetings, and sought out individual tutoring and mentoring sessions offered by the Learning Center, which led to being offered a position to teach. The networking potential is unlimited at Berklee, and you should take advantage of every minute you’re here!

Specifically working with The Groove has equipped me with more skills than I could have ever anticipating walking into the position of Staff Writer. I cultivated verbal and communication skills that landed me professional positions outside the college, and tightened my grasp of the complex English language. This helped immensely with polishing classroom essays, completing project reports, writing formal cover letters, and establishing working relationships with my peers. The Groove offers students a platform to share their unique perspective with the estimated 3 billion people who now have access to the internet, enabling their voice to be heard and stories to be told. One of The Groove’s missions is to provide a window for outsiders to get a glimpse of what attending the top music school in the world is like.

Having attended countless concerts, seminars and events, interviewed numerous artists and industry professionals, and developed various other content, I’ve not only grown as a writer, but I’ve also grown as a person. Writing expresses who you are as an individual, forcing you to mold your thoughts and beliefs into tangible words and phrases. Utilizing your senses to recreate a situation for unseen readers presents a unique challenge that is both stimulating and rewarding. Best of all, writing for The Groove provides numerous opportunities to do (anything), to be (involved), to ask (anything), and to learn (everything) — all while equipping you with the necessary cognitive and verbal skills to function as a musician, an adult, and a part of human history in the making. Music tells a story, a collective narrative through the voices of people about the human condition, and the desire to unify and love. It’s a conversation you want to be an active part of.

Keep in mind that college is all about discovering yourself and striving to meet your full potential, while balancing all of the considerations students encounter. Plan out a monthly schedule, leaving time for just you. Don’t isolate yourself, but don’t be afraid of being alone. Give yourself space, work ahead on projects, collaborate with peers in different majors than your own, and carve out time away from music to enrich and cultivate your personal growth. Venture outside Back Bay; explore the surrounding towns and even states. Never underestimate sources of inspiration, and set realistic, incremental goals for yourself each step of the way. Know that music is art, and understand the importance of developing an appreciation for all art forms during your time at Berklee. Seize opportunities to work alongside others from every race, religion, cultural heritage, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, gender identity, and orientation because at the end of the day—we’re all just people… People whose lives matter and whose stories should be told. Lastly, enjoy it—be in the moment every moment. It goes by faster than you’ll ever know!


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Berklee Hosts its 10th Annual SXSW Party: Boston and Beyond

SXSW pic

By Margot Edwards

Berklee College of Music, the only college to host an official party at the SXSW Music Festival, presents its SXSW Party: Boston and Beyond on Thursday, March 19, noon – 8:00 p.m., at Brush Square Park West Tent, located at 409 East 5th St. (Neches and 5th), Austin, TX. Berklee’s 10th annual SXSW Party is presented by The Red Room @ Cafe 939, Alumni Affairs, Heavy Rotation Records(HRR), and media sponsor Vanyaland.

Vanyaland will stream the event at Vanyaland.com and at VanyaRadio.

The party features up-and-coming Berklee alumni and students performing rock, pop, electronic, Americana and folk. Artists include Joy Daniels, Avers, Hooka Hey, O Conqueror, Grey Season (HRR), The Ballroom Thieves, Night Lights (HRR), Radclyffe Hall, Yellerkin, and St. Nothing.

Check out this playlist featuring the artists here: [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/83921722″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

This year, Berklee has added a second stage for acoustic sets. Students Rachael Wolff, Lady Rogo, and Jacob George, and alumnus Oliver Monaco will perform in between bands. They also play on Saturday, March 21, at the Berklee Guitar and Songwriting Showcase [2:00 pm, St. David’s Bethel Hall].

Berklee’s SXSW Party: Boston and Beyond is all ages and open to SXSW badge holders. The public can emailsxswrsvp@berklee.edu to attend free of charge.

Artists in order of appearance:


Joy Daniels is a Los Angeles-based alumna singer-songwriter and producer who fuses innovative hip-hop and passionate vocals to lyrics and music that explore the complexities of the human spirit. Daniels has released albums including Electric Soul Music and Joy After the Rain, and has performed recently with Stevie Wonder, Sam Smith, and Bastille in concert and TV appearances on The Ellen Degeneres Show, The American Music Awards, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Avers, from Richmond, VA, are psychedelic pop, blistering garage rock, and fuzzed-out shoegaze all in one. With their amps cranked high and their voices doused in reverb, Avers brew a spacey swirl. The group formed with Head and the Heart’s Tyler Williams on drums and James Mason, James Lloyd Hodges, alumna Alexandra Spalding, Adrian Olsen, and Charlie Glenn swapping between bass, guitar and keyboard. Their debut, Empty Light, came out in 2014.

Hooka Hey, from Austin, TX, plays heavy grooves steeped in the blues. Its smoky, sludgy sound is dense and charged like an approaching rainstorm. The band is composed of Alex Kane (bass), Hugo de Saint Quentin (guitar), Jesse Houghton (guitar), and alumnus Ethan Yeager (drums). KUTX’s Austin Music Minute said of Hooka Hey, “There’s a reverence here for the kind of serious rockin’ out that leaves you sweaty, grimy and wanting more.”

O Conqueror was formed in 2012 by songwriter Dustin Doering (vocals) in Austin, Texas. It has since become a collective endeavor consisting of Justin Green (guitar), Mike Fisher (bass, backing vocals), Pedro Corsetti (drums), and alumnus Alex Hartley (keyboard). The group is preparing to release its second album, on which it promises a melodic journey of catchy brooding hooks folded into ambient folk with elements of delta blues and psychedelic western.

Grey Season (HRR) perform five-part harmony, blues-rooted guitar solos between wholehearted lyricism, and memorable melodies driven by bouzoukis and banjos. Benny Grotto (Dresden Dolls) and Grammy–winner Justin Guip produced its debut album at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY. The group is composed of Ian Jones (bass, vocals); alumni Jon Mills (guitar, vocals, Irish bouzouki) and Matt Knelman (guitar, vocals); and students Chris Bloniarz (banjo, piano, mandolin, vocals), and Ben Burns (drums, vocals). Grey Season appears on HRR’s Dorm Sessions 10. Listen at SoundCloud.com/HeavyRotationRecords.

The Ballroom Thieves – Devin Mauch (percussion), alumna Calin Peters (cello), and Martin Earley (guitar) – blend folk conventions with modern hymnals, and delta blues with rich harmonies, exploring the basic constructions of pop music while also rejecting its restrictions. Supporting their debut, A Wolf in the Doorway, The Ballroom Thieves will open the next Boston Calling Festival featuring Pixies, My Morning Jacket, and St. Vincent.

Night Lights (HRR) brings together students and alumni with a world of indie, rock, and soul influences, striking a balance between profound lyrics, hooky melodies, and danceable music. Yusuke Sato’s intricate riffs, Drew Story’s warped soundscapes, Jeff Kinsey’s melodic bass, Dag Hanken’s colorful rhythms, and Mau Jiminez’s captivating guitar and other-worldly voice effects combine for an audio adventure. Night Lights appeared on HRR’s Dorm Sessions 9. The band’s forthcoming EP was produced by Griffin Rodriguez (Beirut, Modest Mouse).

Radclyffe Hall – alumni Dhy Berry (keys/vocals), Jaqui Rae Stewart (keys/vocals), and Carl Harkness (drums), and student Sean Camargo (drums) – began as an experiment in analog and digital production and coalesced around founder Berry’s groove-heavy compositions and dance-pop aesthetics. In their recordings and live shows, Radclyffe Hall has solidified an indelible sonic signature of pulsating live and programmed beats, ethereal vocals, and fuzzy bass lines.

Yellerkin is a rising indie duo from Brooklyn comprised of Adrian Galvin and alumnus Luca Buccellati, childhood friends who have known each other for over 20 years. Originally from the woods of Katonah, NY, they reunited after college, helping one another to yell their stories of love and family. Yellerkin released their debut self-titled EP in 2014, which features the single “Solar Laws.” The duo recently opened up for Dr. Dog and is preparing to release new music.

St. Nothing is a string-driven electropop group consisting of Marco Lawrence (singer-songwriter, producer), Sophia Carreras (guitar), Meredith Nero (viola), Jenna Calabro (cello) and alumnus Felix Nicholson (drums). In the past year, the group was nominated for two Boston Music Awards, opened the Boston Calling Music Festival, and performed with artists like Juana Molina, Young Galaxy, Alpine, and Freezepop. The group is working on its debut album.

Vanyaland is a Boston-based online music magazine, alternative radio station, and lifestyle brand. An interactive source for music news, live shows, new releases, downloads, live streams, and nightlife around Boston and beyond, focusing on the bands raised in our city but also welcoming to the touring acts that pass through it daily. Since its launch in May 2013, it has become the fastest-growing and most-read music website in New England, combining breaking news with artist profiles and snapshots that provide the reader with both music and video embeds and links in addition to its daily original content.

VanyaRadio: A live 24/7, non-stop radio station broadcasting from the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, VanyaRadio provides the sound to the stories featured on award-winning digital music magazine Vanyaland. From breaking local talent to finding the next global chart-topper, VanyaRadio’s playlist suits the modern music consumer who never misses a beat.

Posted in Alumni News, Berklee News, Clubs/Organizations, Featured Articles, Heavy Rotation Records, News, Student News, Upcoming EventsComments (0)

2014 Berklee Commencement T-Shirt Competition Winner

Class of 2014

Submitted by Kevin Fish

Designing a t-shirt that all 2014 Berklee College of Music graduates would receive may seem like an intimidating task, but one senior, Victor Sing Kong, rose to the challenge.

Berklee College saw the opportunity for a new type of tradition for students and immediately utilized the creative potential of the student affairs team. This idea yielded the first ever 2014 Berklee Commencement T-Shirt Competition, where students were challenged to submit a design that would be voted on by their peers. Submissions started pouring in mid-October and continued through February. Once a committee of college administrators selected the finalists, students graduating in 2014 were offered the opportunity to cast their votes.

Voting concluded on Friday, March 7 with a clear victor: Victor Sing Kong. Not only will all graduating students wear Victor’s design, but he is also the recipient of an iPad Mini. Fellow student and design entrant, Eva Redamonti was also a finalist. With nearly 300 votes, it is clear that Berklee students agree, “We all speak in MUSIC.”

Posted in Featured Articles, News, Student NewsComments (0)

12 Things We Hope Berklee Freshmen Have Learned by Now

Dear Berklee freshmen,

We know, you probably already get Berklee advice all the time. But since we’re graduating next week, we wanted to leave you with the top 12 things that we wish people would have told us when we were in our first semester. With the help of fellow seniors, recent grads, and successful alumni, here is is our ultimate list of practical Berklee survival tips and must-read nuggets of wisdom.

1. In case you haven’t noticed, attending the top music school in the world isn’t cheap. Don’t waste your (or your parents’) money — get your butt out of bed and go to class!

Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Grab a free peer tutor or go to your teachers’ office hours. Recent grad Seth Jones and senior Isaku Kageyama both agree that developing relationships with your professors is super important.

Even if it’s a 9 AM and you’re this sleepy.

2. You get out of Berklee what you put into it. The college offers tons of resources and opportunities to help you get your career started ASAP, but it’s up to you to actively seek them out. Senior Jeff Kinsey puts it bluntly: “All of the ingredients are here and accessible, but no one’s going to just gift wrap and hand them to you.”

Go to it. 921 Boylston, first floor.

Go to it. 921 Boylston, first floor.

3. Money gets to be really tight in college, so always keep an eye out for and take advantage of on-campus events with free food! (Hint: We at The Groove love having free food at our events, so make sure you stay in the know!)


4. We’ve all felt it: that moment you first step foot in a practice room hallway, and your confidence is torn to shreds as soon as you hear all the talent coming out of every single freaking room. But take it from us: If you start making comparisons or judgments, you’re going to drive yourself absolutely crazy. Remind yourself that you were accepted to Berklee for a reason. Focus on what your goals are and why you’re here.

If you want to be a songwriter, don't compare yourself to someone who wants to be a concert pianist.

If you want to be a songwriter, don’t compare yourself to someone who wants to be a concert pianist.

5. Believe it or not, being well-rounded will be a huge advantage to you both personally and professionally. Go explore life in Boston and pick up some new hobbies outside of music! Try photography, graphic design, ultimate frisbee, writing, coding, yoga — whatever sparks your interest!