Posts Tagged ‘saxophone’

After an extended holiday break SKOM is back with a new interview. This week we are joined by Julie Gibbs. Julie is a multi-talented multi-instrumentalist who is multi-awesome!

JulieBlonde2You took piano at a very young age. What prompted that?

Julie Gibbs: That was my mom’s idea.  She started my lessons in kindergarten, but they only lasted through first grade, then again in fourth.  Now I realize how valuable those lessons were.  They helped me learn how to read both bass and treble clef at a young age, which saved some trouble later in life when picking up the saxophone and bass!

How did you get interested in sax? 

JG: In 3rd grade, we had the option of learning a string instrument.  I learned the cello, but wanted to try something new.  When we had the option to play a woodwind or brass instrument in 4th grade, I tried the saxophone, and it felt right.  To this day I go into mini depressions if I go long periods of time without playing it.

Was learning klezmer music influenced by your family background?

JG: Yes, definitely.  I actually never heard of the genre prior to the klezmer ensemble at Berklee College of Music (my alum).  Once I found out that it was music of the Eastern European Jews, I had to give it a listen.  The sound was instantly appealing.

Tell me about Cats on Mars. How did that start?

JG: The singer and songwriter of the band, Tommy Pedrini, is a friend of mine from Berklee.  We were both in the Film Scoring major, so we had many classes together.  When I moved to L.A. (from N.Y.), he asked me if I wanted to play with him.  He is a very talented songwriter and downright awesome person, so I couldn’t say no.  We are in the process of finishing up a few tracks for an EP.

You also play bass in Haskala. How did you get hooked up with that and what has that been like? 

JG: Believe it or not, half of Haskala responded to a craigslist ad.  When I moved to L.A., I wanted to find a klezmer band to play with.  I typed the word “klezmer” into a search, and the ad for Haskala popped right up. I met the singer Steve at his place, played a few songs, and it was Haskamagic from then on!

It’s been a blast playing with HaSkaLa.  What I love most about playing with them is that we’re all talented musicians without the ego.  They’re just a great group of people to play with and I’m thankful to be part of the whole experience.

You also have an interesting double album you have been working on for sometime. What inspired that? 

JG: Oh goodness, haha.  Well, it started over 3 years ago when I was still in New York.  I had spent a lot of time listening to The Barry Sisters Greatest Hits CD, and thought that some of their tracks, specifically “Chiribim Chiribom”, could be updated into a really cool, funky tune.  I lack the computer and editing skills but have a forte in arranging, so it all started from there.  At the time, I recorded a few Barry Sisters remakes.  After moving to Los Angeles, I had this burst of creativity, and started writing lyrics.  The songs collected over time, and it eventually got to the point when I realized that they all needed to be recorded.  Since the recording process has been dragged out for so long, I currently have 24 tracks to record.

How is that coming along? Is there an end in sight? 

JG: I’m happy to report that as of now, the drums and bass are completely finished!  I’m taking it step by step, layering the guitar, keys, horns, and vocals one after the other.   Hopefully the album will be in its final stages by June.  Stay tuned!

What do you hope to accomplish/get out of that project?

JG: At this point, I just want to get my music into the world.  One of the greatest feelings in the world is hearing people say that they enjoy my originals.  Therefore, I release music, and people are happy.  It’s a win-win! 🙂

What has been your favorite live show you have played so far?

JG: Well, I was very fortunate to share the stage with Denis Leary and some friends for a show at the Nokia Theater in Times Square back in 2006, playing sax.  I got to hang out backstage with Breckin Meyer, Tom Morello, and Slash.  It was a trip.  This gig occurred one month after I got laid off from a job, so it was a fantastic pick-me-up, to say the least.  And what a rush playing in front of thousands of people!

Where can people see you next?

JG: Cats On Mars is MIA at the moment due to recording, and Haskala has a gig at Molly Malone’s on Wednesday February 13th, 9:30pm sharp. Also, be on the lookout for Felix Goldstein (my stage name) at an open mic night near you in Los Angeles!

What is your favorite dessert and why? 

JG: This may be a bit predictable, but most certainly cupcakes.  Since I’m lactose intolerant, I have to search for vegan or dairy-free versions, or make my own.  Thankfully vegan cupcakes are prevalent in Los Angeles, and thankfully the vegan versions are moist and delicious!  Thank you for asking.


I can’t thank Julie enough for the interview. You can keep up with her at all these fine locations:

Demos at Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/julie-gibbs-1

Cats On Mars https://www.facebook.com/catsonmarsmusic?fref=ts

HaSkaLa https://www.facebook.com/HaSkaLA?fref=ts

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This week we are joined by Scott Woeckel. He is prolific and varied in his pursuits and talents. His answers are incredibly thoughtful and I really enjoy his perspective on one of his goals for his band Everyday Ghost. There is a lot to experience here so let’s jump in.

First, thank you so much for doing this. You have quite a lot going on it seems. I want to ask you about most if not all of it, but first let’s discuss Everyday Ghost. Can you tell me how EDG got started?

SW: My pleasure. and thank you for having me! EDG got started after I got back from Seattle in February 2011. My good friend and long time musical associate Wood Fowler had passed away suddenly up there and I just got to thinking about where I was going with my music life and everything else you think about when a death hits so close. So, what had originally started out as a recording project turned into a full blown live band when Charlie Peterson found me on Craigslist looking for a pedal steel man. As fortune would have it he’s one of about two of the truly great pedal steel players in the great city of Los Angeles. He’s a complete source of inspiration, and the first day we met, we played EDG’s first gig on a Saturday night at T-Boyles in Pasadena entertaining a rugby team as a duo. Add in a couple of extremely talented guys on drums and bass, and we started booking shows around some of my old haunts.
How long have you been together?
SW: About a year and a half now.
What’s the reception been like?
SW: It’s been mostly really good. There’s always gonna be bad gigs, and clams, and with a new band it’s a rocky road sometimes to go through those growing pains to get to the really good stuff. But I don’t think we’ve played a show yet where someone hasn’t come up to us and said they really liked this or that tune. I think the biggest compliment has just been people coming back to hear us play again!
What’s your song writing process?
SW: It’s eclectic. Whenever I write a song though I hear a soundbite of Thelonius Monk running through my head which says, “Keep it simple as possible, so people will dig it.” Aside from trying to keep things simple, I’ve got songs that have started from all elements of music…a melody, a chord voicing or progression, a rhythm, a lyric. I could start writing a song from the ending just about as well as the beginning, or the middle, so long as I keep it simple and the song I wind up with at the end holds together as a whole and conveys to me what I want it to convey. The best ones are always fast, they come together in a day or two at most…the ones that tend to be unsalvagable train wrecks are usually the ones I toiled over for a week or more. So these days I just try to capture the inspiration when it’s there and capture as much information as possible while it’s there.
Any plans to record?
SW: Yes! Lot’s of plans to record. I still have a record to finish, and I’ve written a lot of new material I’d like to be on it, so I’m hoping to get back into the studio in the coming months and start tracking!
What is your goal with EDG?

SW: A difficult one to articulate, but I think the main goal driving EDG is to foremost and primarily acknowledge that we are upright, and sucking air. Therefore, as musicians, we must play…regardless of any particular material goal, such as to be rich and famous. I think a lot of the music we’re doing has the power to touch hurting souls, and maybe even lift them up and let them know they aren’t alone. And if we can achieve that through this music, I would consider that a goal worth pursuing.

Let’s switch gears a little. Tell me about the work you’ve been doing with Brandon Schott. 
SW: I’ve had a great time working with Brandon in support of his awesome new record “13 Satellites”. Brandon is an inspiring and unique talent, and I’ve been honored to work on a few videos with him and just be a part of it. Brandon has a way getting things in motion and done, and just seeing how hard he’s worked for so many years and through so many challenges, I hope any small part I’ve played will help him toward the recognition for his art, which he deserves.
What have you learned from that?
SW: I think I’ve learned it really takes an army working behind you these days if you expect to make any kind of major impact or dent in today’s musical landscape. There’s just so much stuff you have to do to simply keep from being forgotten about from one day to the next. It takes care, marketing, and a lot of financial planning, and the help of a lot of good friends to put a solid record into contention out there on your own.
What is the Moonflower work you’ve been doing?
SW: Moonflower is a really cool studio project that has spawned into all kinds of things. That band is the brainchild of James & Martine Dryden, they wrote all the material and have been kind enough to let me play a little double bass and guitar on a few tracks, as well as a little tenor sax. James is one of the best audio mixologists out there, and the record “Hey Daddy’O” is done, it’s in the can, and hopefully will be released very soon.
One of my favorite songs you wrote is “Small Town Love.” How did that song come about?
SW: Thanks! That’s a really personal tune, I wrote it after what amounted to a realization that I was no longer the small town boy I used to be and recognizing I had become alienated from that whole world. I come from a place where very few people have had the opportunity to truly pursue their dreams, and I tried to reconcile all those conflicting feelings in that song.

Small Town Love

You play guitar and sing, but you also play saxophone. How did you first get started playing sax?
SW: Well, my guitar playing is highly inspired by horn players, as opposed to guitar players. So I was always on the look out for a sax to try, and I did pick up the clarinet in college which gave me a little taste of the world of winds, and even studied and played with Harold Land for a few years, but I was poor, so I didn’t really get an opportunity to try a sax even. So a few years ago I picked up a sax, and started teaching myself to play, and the rest has just been expensive. Saxophone is an expensive habit. And it’s extremely addictive, and challenging, and worth every moment. I will say I’ve always held saxophonists in high esteem, but having walked in their shoes, I have an immense new respect for the instrument and even more awe when it comes to the great masters.

“I think a lot of the music we’re doing has the power to touch hurting souls”

What attracts you to jazz?
SW: Freedom. It’s one of the few genres of music that demands a certain sense of spontaneity, sophistication, rhythm, and musicality…and if you can put all that together in collective or individual fashion you can travel to some really amazing places. And not just musically, there is a space in jazz thats akin to “the zone” you feel in any great athletic sport, but it’s bottomless, and boundless. There are moments in jazz when you are playing from that space where you couldn’t play a wrong note, in the wrong spot, at the wrong time, if you tried. Having experienced that space, and knowing it’s there is a very spiritual connection, and I feel it most strongly expressed through the jazz idiom. That being said though, I think the space is the same for all music. In other words, I believe you can still be playing “jazz” in that spiritual-spacial-zone, even while reading down a Beethoven sonata for instance. And I think it’s that knowledge that allows me to move fairly freely through various genres of music, and instruments without ever feeling stuck, or committed to playing, say, one style of music.
Check out Scott’s sax skills: Stella By Starlight
Are you able to tell me anything about the new Plasticsoul record?
SW: All I can say is a few of the tracks that will be on that have been stuck in my ear since the first time I heard them live. Plasticsoul is my favorite LA band, and if you’ve heard “Peacock Swagger”, I imagine the new Plasticsoul record will be similar, but I believe it goes to 11. That’s one more.
What are your hopes/plans for the future as far as your involvement with music?
SW: For the most part to just keep doing it. I’m never bored, and music could easily occupy all of my time. I think the most important thing for me is to keep learning, searching, growing and expanding my abilities and keeping the music as fun as possible. Although I’ve been involved in the music industry for over three decades now, I still feel like a beginner. There’s always something new to learn, and it’s amazing the places music can take you. You just never know!
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream and why?
SW: Strawberry, and I have no idea!

Thanks again to Scott. Remember to follow Everyday Ghost at https://www.facebook.com/EverydayGhostBand

Also check out The Tremors, one of Scott’s previous bands. Country, rootsy, folky, bluegrassy, alt-rock about guns, drivin’, drinkin’, & heartache: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tremors

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