Yamir means so much to us at Fresh Independence. His story is inspiring as he brings life and dedication to all he does. The music industry is tough, especially as an independent artist, but there is a place for everyone. Show your support, feel the latin passion, and experience the Music in your veins. We cannot get enough of that, ‘Party Love.’
Home is where your story begins, please tell us about yours.
I began in the streets of one of the poorest and most dangerous barrios of Managua, rapping and singing reggaeton. I was raised by my mother, grandmother, and aunts but my mother had to leave the country for many years to study medicine and help better our lives. There wasn’t a very bright future for other kids from my barrio, many of my childhood friends got mixed up with drugs and alcohol. And while I was not a saint back then, I was still able to distance myself from all of that and fight for something bigger in life.
Tell us a little about your musical history in Nicaragua.
Over 10 years ago I started rapping, mostly with friends. But little by little, I started writing my own songs and finding people who could record my demos. After a few years, I had the opportunity to form the urban pop group “Myla Vox” with other musicians in Managua – I added the urban-rap element to our sound. With patience and hard work, we became quite successful with our music, having 5 consecutive songs become radio hits and being able to play shows for thousands of fans. We even had the amazing opportunity to open for artists such as Pitbull and Wisin & Yandel. Myla Vox reached somewhat of a “celebrity status” in our own country and helped develop the idea of having “loyal fans”, something that was not seen before in Nicaragua.
(Above) “Kukra hill” is an indigenous community on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua where Spanish is not the first language, they speak Miskito– but when I went to Atlantic Coast with Myla Vox, these little girls knew me and my music! It was very special moment.
What is the song writing process like for you?
Songwriting for me is very liberating, it gives me a great sense of relief and allows me to find myself but at the same time let my imagination run and invent a totally new story. Generally, I start out recording a basic melody, usually with my cell phone (hahaha) and then once I can sit down and think things out, I work on the song structure and lyrics.
Shout out to your favourite bands or artists at the moment from both of your home countries.
Saludos a Carlos Mejia Godoy! He is a folkloric songwriter who, along with his family, has created a huge appreciation for Nicaragua’s folk music amongst our people. I also really dig Malos Habitos and Milly Majuc, they both have a great sound.
Do what you love, love what you do and enjoy every minute of it. Bringing soulful songs and lyrics from the heart Jenni Alpert is living proof that dreams are made possible if you try. Always the best part of what we do, discovering new music and good people behind it.
“I write songs and I sing them from the deepest part of my existence and I hope they connect with the deepest part of yours.”
- Jenni Alpert
Name: Jenni Alpert
Where are you writing this: At the moment, I am writing this from my West Coast Home located in Los Angeles, CA.
Home is where your story begins, please tell us about yours
For the first three and a half years of my life I was in the foster care system in Los Angeles County where the fate of my future was being determined for me. It was in one of those homes that I first discovered music and the piano and I believe a very important part of how I have come to be my self and become an artist both musically and artistically spooking (I paint and take photos as well as write and record music with equal fervor). I would say that those early years shaped my ability to be committed to growth, resilient to change, and free spirited impassioned by creativity, freedom, and honesty. I started composing music and writing songs by the time I was ten, picked up a guitar at 14, and continued to develop my skills in musicianship, songwriting, and performance at UCLA under the wing of Kenny Burrell and his then newly founded four year Jazz program. Since then, I have recorded and released 6 independent albums, 1 vinyl record with a team of people out of Italy, toured and performed worldwide in over 14 countries, have had a few songs placed in TV shows such as Castle and CSI Miami, and continue to pen songs and perform them in US cities often as I can.
How did music find you
The second I was introduced to a piano at the age of almost 3, music and I became fast life long friends.
Best describe your musical style
Eclectic soulful jazzy pop singer songwriter
What is the song writing process like for you
When I am constructing songs, I feel that I myself am an instrument in the process where music and lyric tend to unfold simultaneously. I make efforts to stay present, open, and aware enough to sense that a song is about to develop, and I often feel that I myself am a witness to the creation. In listening to all types of music, especially world music for education and inspiration, this maintains my writing skills.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your album ‘Take It All’
Take It All was a conglomeration of songs partly co-written partly self penned over the course of a six month period when I was going through a cathartic personal growth spurt. The songs were like moments of healing for me, discovering meanings of relationships, coming of age, healing, and shedding parts of ourselves that we wish to outgrow while discovering the wonders of love in the world. It was recorded mostly live over the course of a three day period with producer Mikal Blue and polished over another week or so with overdubs from some of my favorite session musicians. Take It All was me exploring my pop side of songwriting and I am very proud of that body of work.
Which are your favorite lyrics thus far and tell us the story behind them
Most all of them.
Such rich history, what was it like recording at Sun Studios in Memphis
Amazing every moment. Google and I became fast friends that day. My most excited moment was standing on the x where Elvis sang wondering if the acoustic in the room were the same as back then. It was a very special opportunity to get to record there and experience working with Matt Ross-Spang.
Shout out to your favorite band or artist at the moment
I don’t pick favorites in this category for I love songs and to many to single one out, so for all you songwriters out there…. keep em comin!
What does a lazy Sunday look like to you
Not lazy. Probably like any other Monday in London.
The greatest book ever written is…
The one with the least amount of pages? Just kidding. I love to read and haven’t picked a favorite, but I notice that I am inspired by true stories.
My all time favorite movie is…
Tough call between: The Big Lebowski, As Good As It Gets, Buffalo 66, and The Notebook
Aside from communication, while on the road what is the one thing you can not live without
Coffee and humor
Jenni Alpert is hosting a dinner party!
Album on replay
Nick Drake – Pink Moon
Skirt Steak, collard greens, sweet corn, corn bread with honey, a large dark green salad with goat cheese, fresh strawberries, red onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and dark chocolate peanut butter bars for dessert.
4 people past or present on the guestlist that would make for stimulating conversation
Steve Jobs, Einstein, Marie Curie, and Lou Adler.
Which game would you play
Taboo – hands down.
Your most memorable musical moment thus far
I choose to live in the moment as often as I can so any opportunity to perform and connect with music listeners is really what I consider memorable.
The prettiest thing I have ever seen…
Sunsets over the ocean
Being a young woman in a sometimes plastic world do you feel a sense of responsibility or example for the girls coming behind you
Be honest, have integrity, learn yourself, observe others, and never compromise your values to get ahead anywhere. Do your best and be realistic and as you build it, it ill become.
Your dream marquee would read…
Let them all think you are nuts, yet while they are distracted, create the best damn peanut butter known to man. – Peanut Butter, the best thing since sliced bread.
One quote or piece of advice that always goes with you
“The way I see it, if you want a rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain” #Dolly Parton
True Love is…
The willingness to listen, be patient, give forgiveness, and have understanding even if another’s point of view isn’t clear yet with the ability and willingness to take care of one’s self.
What can we look forward to with Jenni Alpert over the coming year
A batch of fresh honest self penned soulful songs recorded on a new album with a tour in Europe to boot.
Thriving deep in the heart of the east coast music scene, Toronto is the place Devon Cuddy calls home. His roots run deep within the industry, with influences like Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Earl and James Booker, he is making his own mark with a blues sound that fills you up with goodness and keeps you coming back for more. Get to know Canada’s own Devin Cuddy Band.
Name: Devin Cuddy Age:27 Where are you writing this: In the van on the way to a show
Home is where your story begins please tell us about yours.
I was born and raised in Toronto and its been a good home to me, no plans to leave. Right now I live at the Cameron House in the apartments above the bar, great community feeling up there. Its also a great spot to meet great artists of all sorts.
Best describe your musical style. We draw mostly from country and New Orleans Blues. Its been a challenge to blend the 2 into a cohesive sound and genre, the battle continues. Artists I like (love!) include Professor Longhair, James Booker, Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark.
When did you ‘know’ music was going to be such a big part of your life?
When I started enjoying piano lessons around 15. I was not however, sold on being a performer, that came later around 22 or so, when I started playing shows. I first started at the Cameron House playing solo and it started from that.
What would you like us to know about the album ‘Kitchen Knife’? Its a continuation of our sound and my song writing style. The record has a bit more stuff on it then the last, Organ, wurlitzer, lots more percussion and more guitars. I think our style is a little more realised and I’m hoping that will come across to the listener.
How have you grown musically since you started performing?
I think I’ve developed more confidence in my playing and singing. The more you perform the more it comes together, songwriting gets stronger and the band starts to sound pretty hot.
Tell us about the creative process in the making of your new video ‘Kitchen Knife’.
We had done a show with the regent park school of music choir and really liked them and the sounds it added so we asked them if they would do a live video. It was really fun and they do great work at RPSM, music education for everyone is very important.
What is the best piece of advice your father has given to you as a musician?
Always be nice, its now our band motto.
Shout out to your favorite band or artist at the moment. Timber Timbre has been playing in my ears a lot these days.
When not making music what might we find you doing? I really like playing hockey. Probably my favourite pastime. You’ll find me at the odd Jays game too.
Something your fans would be surprised to learn about you. I was a trumpet player for 7 years in the middle school and high school symphonic bands. I thought for a while that I would be a trumpet player but it wasn’t in the cards.
The greatest book ever written is… Well I don’t know if its the greatest but I really liked In Cold Blood.
My all time favorite movie is… Annie Hall, watched it twice in a row the first time I saw it.
Your dream marquee would read… Randy Newman featuring the Devin Cuddy Band
Your most memorable musical moment thus far…
Backing up Fred Penner at a party, a guy I watched a lot as a child. Wonderful musician and guy, we were giddy.
Devin Cuddy Band is hosting a dinner party!
Whats on the menu?
Classic italian, salad, pasta, meat.
Which album is on replay?
Oscar Peterson live in Stratford. Fantastic live record.
Guests past or present that would make for stimulating conversation.
I think I’d want Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, that would be an interesting meal.
When things get dull, how would you breathe life back into the party.
Aside from communication what is the one thing you can not live without on the road?
A pillow for the van, very key item.
What is the glue that holds Devin Cuddy Band together?
Zach Sutton the drummer and old style Pilsner
Is there one quote or piece of advice that always goes with you?
I don’t really carry around a phrase that I live by but one that I use a lot is always be nice.
True love is… Hard to find, but out there, its a journey not a destination.
What can we look forward to with Devin Cuddy Band over the coming year?
We’ll be touring our record as far and wide as it will take us.
“Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I want to do a job that I’m not going to want to retire from. It’d be kinda cool to be writing songs as an old man, hopefully my voice will be more gravelly.
Husband’s Michael Paolino captures the mystery and dark grit behind a weary traveller, tarnished soul, and mighty heart. His music is refreshing and unique in a toxic world.
Home is where your story begins, tell us a bit about yours.
I was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia. Everyone is really friendly; there’s plenty of sunshine and over the past 10 years there’s been some awesome small bars opening, which is making the city a really great place to go to. My wife Sarah and I live near the ocean in a house I’ve almost finished renovating (it’s taken close to two years) with our loud obnoxious dog Luna and three-legged cat, Pirate. We love watching movies and TV series; every night we can’t wait to get on the couch and start watching something.
How did music find you?
When I was in year 4 or 5 at school my mum enrolled me in piano lessons. I hated them and used to skip them, pretending I’d forgotten to go which infuriated my mum. I’m not sure why, but I started begging for a guitar, which they finally gave me when I was 12. It was a little acoustic thing. Then it came down to my big brother who introduced me to Pearl Jam and Nirvana. I was a massive nerd in school. I found it almost impossible to rebel; I always did what I was told. But in my band it was like a world where I could make my own rules, and I think I was hooked playing music from about the age of 16.
‘The Money’ recorded in LA with Rick Parker. What influenced this journey?
Husband had been playing shows in Perth for about two years, getting to know what the band was about and getting the vibe right. While I was doing this I was feeling increasingly cut off from the wider music world. I wanted to get outside my comfort zone and show my songs to someone who had worked on great records. I suppose in a way, I wanted to see if they thought I was any good. Howl by BRMC is one of my favourite albums, so when my manager Rachel and I were wondering who to approach, his name came up and I thought, ‘as if that’ll happen’. But it turned out he was keen and everything miraculously fell into place.
Track three, ‘The Money’ written in Perth’s financial district: “One night I found myself walking through Perth’s financial district. It felt so dead… its sole purpose is to make money 9-5. The emptiness I felt inspired this song.” But did you feel the same sense on the streets of LA?
Yeah I suppose any financial district in any city in the world shuts its doors and becomes a bit of a shell. I find it sad how once the big banks shut their doors and the streets are quiet, some homeless guy will go and sleep on their steps. I suppose I have a pretty black and white way of thinking about it, but I don’t want to make money 9 to 5 so I can live 5 to 9. I haven’t found a career I love apart from writing music, so I suppose my gripe with money is just that - my gripe.