Wednesday, August 21, 2013

5 Tips to Write a Better Band Bio

I've been reading a lot of band bios lately, and as important as they can be to connecting your music to new fans, there are a ton of pitfalls to the practice that can ruin your bio. First, let me say this: I get it. Trying to write a short paragraph about your music that sums up everything that your sound is about while still conveying the pertinent information isn't easy. In fact, it kind of sucks, but it is extremely important for fans, and even more important for promoters and reviewers of your band, to be able to find out quickly and accurately what your music is all about. Remember that when the opportunity comes to get some press for your band, writers often have little time and even less knowledge of your band. They don't necessarily have time to sift through your multitude of Soundcloud, bandcamp, etc. pages to learn what makes you who you are. You need to help them out so that they not only CAN write a good piece about you, but also they WANT to write a good piece about you. If I have the choice of 50 bands to write about, I'm going to choose the one who actually tells me something substantial about their music right off the bat. Then, with that nugget of interest, I may go do more research. But if I have to do a wealth of research just to talk about your genre, well, I'm most likely going to pass on you.

Writing band bios can be challenging

So, after working through a lot of band bios, I have formulated some really simple tips that can help improve your own bio.

1. Keep it simple. Tell us why we would want to see your band. This must be extremely simple. "We make you dance." This is the kind of idea you need to convey with your bio. Give your reader a motivation that is very easy to understand. Put yourself in the reader's shoes. If you were going to go to a show, why would you go? Are the players extremely talented and a marvel to watch on stage? Is the DJ known for playing tunes that make the crowd dance? Is the performer a touching songwriter? Are you going to hear that hit song that you can't get out of your head? There is a very basic reason that most people go to shows, and that reason is: FUN. So tell us, why is your band fun? And tell us in one simple sentence.

2. Avoid Buzzwords. Think about the words that you use and decide whether or not they actually mean anything to the reader outside of the context of your bio. Words like amazing, excellent, exquisite, and thousands of descriptive adjectives are basically only acting as puff pieces. It doesn't make a difference how much you build up your band with buzzwords, because in the end, they don't convey any real information to the reader. With only a few sentences to describe your music, every word counts. Don't waste them on what is essentially bullshit. Think of it this way: if you were going to describe food to someone, you wouldn't want to just hear that it's delicious. This is one time that the “benefit of the doubt” is in your favor. The reader is already assuming that your music is "delicious" or they wouldn't be reading on it. So be sure to tell them about the details that make the dish. Flavor is a good analogy, what gives your music it's unique flavor?

3. Save the History. While some history on the band may be important, it is most likely the least important information in your bio. I don't care if your band members were all high school buddies, I don't care if you have played together for 5 years or 25 years. Things like this are only important after you can tell me WHY I would want to see your band. If you're just another rock band, playing cover tunes, why do you think I need to know that your guitarist and bass player met in middle school? Let me assure you, I don't care. If you are Phish, then it makes more sense to tell us you've been playing together for 20 plus years. This works for a big band like Phish because their story has already captured the reader. Whoever is writing about Phish knows why they are writing about Phish, but do they have any reason to write about you? Probably not, at least not yet. Which is why it is so important to leave the history of your band towards the end of your bio if you put it in there at all. Don't open your bio with: "Ten years of jamming together have made these high school buddies intense and spectacular players together." This sentence really tells me nothing about your band that I can share with my own readers. And now you may have possibly burned up half of your reader's attention. Lead with the important stuff and then leave the history for later. As a side note, if you're going to talk about the band's history, tell us what the band members actually do. It's much more useful to know what instruments the band plays than how they met or how long they have been together.

4. Pick a genre. I know, I know, your band plays lots of different genres and on top of that you're more of a fusion of dub, electro, and psytrance than just electronic. This kind of description is typical because bands don't want to pigeonhole themselves. It's good to be unique, but once again, it's so important to quickly inform your reader, even when talking about genre. If you're a rock band that plays reggae, ska, bluegrass, and jazz, you're still a rock band. My point here is that you have to break it down for people. If you say too much then you're really not saying anything at all. If you outright tell your reader, "We don't fit into any one genre" you're also telling them NOTHING about your music. It might be hard and it might take a little soul searching, but take the time to figure out what you do well and put it into a genre people can recognize. When you're working your day job or talking to your grandparents and someone asks, “What kind of music do you play,” what do you tell them? This knee jerk reaction to the question from someone that doesn’t understand your specific sub genre is probably a good answer for the majority of people asking the same question. Start simple, then when you have their attention, dig deeper.

5. Tell us where you're from. Believe it or not, I've read numerous band bios that say literally nothing about where the artist is originally from or where they currently call home. While this may seem like a trivial detail, it actually goes along way to give context to your music. You don’t need to go overboard with this information. We don't need to necessarily know which suburb or neighborhood you live in or which high school you went to. Just tell us the city. This can give a writer a great launching off point to talk about your music and where it’s coming from. It can also make the music you create more relevant if the city you hail from is really becoming noticed for a certain type of music at the moment. And while I say don't go overboard, at the same time, if you come from a particular neighborhood that is significantly well known for a music scene, then this would be good information to share. Remember, once again, keep it simple and then dig deeper, but only if it’s really worth it.

OK, so there you go! These are my five tips to help improve your band bio and ideally help inform the readers that you are trying to reach. Remember, think of every sentence and every word as valuable real estate. You don't want to waste space on words that don't matter. It may take many revisions to really tighten up your bio to the most pertinent information, but it will be worth it. If you can make an impression on a press contact within a short paragraph, then you are only improving your chances of getting that blog you've been trying to land forever.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chali 2na Interview from ARISE Music Festival - Loveland, CO

Chali 2na at the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16th
Chali 2na at the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival
Matt: Can you speak a little bit to the difference of playing festival sets to playing club sets and how it really affects how you prepare for these sets.

Chali 2na: First off, I think festival sets always attract the people who care less about what you think about them. The inhibitions are just gone. Everybody's here to party and its regardless of anything. So, I think that that creates a vibe that makes the audience almost one thing. Its not like nobody necessarily separated at that point.

Matt: You want to make people party.

Chali 2na: Exactly!

(crowd laughs)

Matt: Chali, if you speak a little bit about the difference between the collaborative effort of Jurassic Five on tour versus your solo career on tour.

Chali 2na: Well, y'know, my M.O. that I've been able to establish throughout my twenty years doing this, is that I'm that dude in the group that collaborates with everybody. You know what I'm saying, like I wanted to make that happen so that it wouldn't be strange if you saw me doing something with somebody who you didn't think I was going to be with. That being established, its the same way on both ends. I just think that my work is just that much harder as a solo artist because I got my brothers with me with Jurassic and I do my part. Then, I can listen to them.

Performing by myself is a whole full fledged thought process of:  "OK, I gotta think about every moment." I gotta make sure that every moment is something that people are attached to as opposed to like scaring somebody off or being like "alright, whatever, dude" or someone going to get a drink. I'm looking at it as a way to just be the magnet and keep that attraction going throughout the show, and hopefully after have sex.

Matt: I'm a guy who likes to get drinks. So, what are you going to do in the future to keep me from going to get a drink.

Chali 2na: Play hard as hell! Play some music that's guaranteed to keep you there.

Stay tuned for more interviews from ARISE Music Festival.

ARISE Music Festival, Friday Recap - Loveland, CO

Gate to the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
Gate to the Main Stage
Friday starts hot and slow with acoustic music from Shimshai on the main stage. My wife Leigh went off to do a morning yoga session at the Temple of the Heart and I find myself once again in the tent of the Syntonic Stage to escape the sun. 2NUTS plays a glitchy, downtempo set at the tweener dome. Things are generally chill throughout the festival. My good friend and media partner Matt has gone to hit the pool.

The Pool Party, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
The Pool Party
In a search for some refuse from the noonday sun, we settled under the rarest patch of trees and find ourselves watching the Earth Guardians. Xiuthezcatl Roske Martinez, a young activist from Boulder, CO, leads a motley crew of youth on the Solar Overdrive stage. A hip-hop group with a very strong conscious message, The Earth Guardians are led by the young Martinez brothers, Xiuthezcatl, age 13, and Itzcuauhtli, age 10. At first, the show doesn't strike me as anything more than a novelty, something at the fest for the kids. But within one song, as I hear the brothers backed by around fifteen other kids sing out: "the hope is in our hands," I realized that this was something special.

We decided to wander again and find Freelance Whales at the main stage. In a haze of heat and dust, we settle at the back of the main concert bowl to soak in the dreamy, lush tones of the Queens, NY native band. The melodies off a glockenspiel carry the rich three, four, and even five part vocal harmonies across the dome and out to the campgrounds. The main stage keeps us captive as Nahko and Medicine for the People storm on to the main stage. The crowd is clearly enraptured with the band with wild hoots and hollers rooting for Nahko and the band even as they ride away on a golf cart after their set.

The Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
Main Stage

Shortly after Nahko, the Solar Overdrive stage was featuring Mister Loveless from Oakland, California. Post-punk, thoughtful songs serenade us as we lounge and hide in the shade of the trees for only brief stint. Moving along again, we find Greensky Bluegrass stirs up the concert bowl once again with bare feet abound at the main stage. The less traditional bluegrass sounds of Greensky are a welcome progression to Friday's Keller and the Keels show. Followed by festival darling Xavier Rudd, the main stage reaches it's heady apex before hip-hop takes over from Chali 2na.

ATOMGA at the Solar Overdrive Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
Before the big show on Friday, we groove out at the Solar Overdrive stage again, this time with Denver afrobeat band, ATOMGA. A swollen bandstand of at least nine people sets the tone for a heavy night. ATOMGA features a four piece horn section with trombone, trumpet, tenor sax, and baritone sax. The trombone player is dancing so hard I am literally afraid he is going to bounce off the stage.

ATOMGA keeps the secondary stage bumpin', but we depart to catch the lyrical stylings of Chali 2na from the famed Jurassic Five. Backed by his three piece band, House of Vibe, Chali brings us his own "radio station" with a blend of his own material, Jurassic Five tunes, and even covers from Michael Jackson. Clearly inspired by the happenings at ARISE, Chali invites the young brothers of Earth Guardians out on the stage to improvise two of their own original songs with the band. Chali is split from cheek to cheek smiling at the antics of the Martinez brothers. Chali even gladly took the role of hype man, rapping "I'm Young. I'm Positive."

The Magic Beans at the Solar Overdrive Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
The Magic Beans
The night takes a swerve toward the party side when we arrive at the Solar Overdrive stage for the Magic Beans. Denver local jam-band brings a tight almost medley-like sound, skipping smoothly through intricate originals and cheeky covers like Hall and Oates' "Maneater." The fellows of the Magic Beans bring the intense energy of a young, inspired, and motivated jam band. From the many shows that had played the Solar Overdrive stage, the Magic Beans show on Friday began to crystalize the tangible vibe of ARISE.

By this time, I was trying to urge myself toward the main stage for Lynx and then Michal Menert, but the party vibe of the Solar Overdrive stage had firmly taken hold on me. Although I was hesitant to spend the day out in the sun at the Solar Overdrive Thursday and Friday afternoon, the nighttime line-ups had made a clear impression to me that this stage would be the host to some exciting and surprising events.

I began to lose my footing halfway between Michal Menert's main stage set and laid out in the campground listening once again to the sound waves bounce off the cliff side into the tent. For me the night had ended, but the weekend was ripe. Although I felt Friday would be the apex of the festival, it turned out to be truly a penultimate day to what was still in store.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

ARISE Music Festival, Thursday Recap - Loveland, CO

What seemed like a slow start to ARISE picked up quickly as Toubab Krewe hit the main stage at 4:45 pm. Jans Ingber, singer for the Motet, grooved along with the swollen and ecstatic crowd. Bare feet stirred up little dust storms every time the Krewe picked up the tempo. Although much other music had been flowing Thursday, Toubab Krewe seemed to bring a true inaugural energy to the stage as the day began to cool down. As we watched the band play their last song, a little girl playing hide and seek dodged around us. The vibe here is very family friendly as lots of little ones hang at the barrier at the front of the stage. Like the many parts of a ticking clock, the three percussionists beat out the rhythm of an African song. All moving together yet each on their own beat, the syncopation they create is hypnotizing and soothing under the light hearted and uplifting guitar melodies. As the band wraps their set, they stressed to the audience that ARISE is something that they hope we can take care of and keep going. And although they have nothing official on their tour dates, guitarist Drew Heller hinted that they would be back in Colorado around New Years.

Toubab Krewe on the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
Toubab Krewe at ARISE, Thursday
Next, we found ourselves settled in a tent dome at the Syntonic Stage before the stage had gotten busy. Candy shaped pillows and exercise balls in wrapper like coverings acted as our seats. Face painters sat inside the dome of the tweener stage excitedly making people their canvas. Numerous other decorations surrounded the stage, pyramids, stars, a kissing booth and lots of burner-worthy constructions made up the DJ booth. Music was only starting up in the tweener DJ booth, so we continued to migrate.

Tents at the Syntonic Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday 8/15
Dome Tent at the Syntonic Stage
We found a trio of graffiti artists at work on a wall sized mural just outside of the main event area. BerkVisual, 84Pages, and David Bywater of Plaant were in the beginning stages of a three way painting collaboration. Three to four figures were beginning to take shape from a design that the guys had worked out together before arriving on site. It was clear that the design was coming to life but at the same time you could tell the guys were improvising and adapting their original art as they went along somewhat as well.
ARISE Mural by BerkVisual, 84Pages, and David Bywater of PLAANT, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday 8/15
Berk shows P Buck the Design
As we made our way back to camp, Keller and the Keels had started their set at the main stage. The dust is kicking up once again as the bluegrass tunes get the crowd moving. People are very happy to watch Keller pick his mandolin with the Keels, married couple Larry on guitar and Jenny on the bass. The trio blazed through lots of covers, doing a Tom Petty medley at one point switching back and forth between "Last Dance with Mary Jane" and "Breakdown." "Tweaker by the Speaker" made its obligatory appearance in the set and die-hard Keller fans rejoiced. I overheard one Keller fan waxing "Keller doesn't age."

Keller and the Keels at the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday 8/15
Keller and the Keels
We wandered off again to the Solar Overdrive stage where Loveland locals, Genetics, were rocking their blend of progressive rock. This four piece was tight and continually kept their set moving through many different sounds from heavy riff rock to chilled out disco grooves. The guitarist was outwardly thrilled to be playing, expressing multiple times his exhilaration with ARISE. The band was an unknown for me but a nice surprise to see a very talented group of young players tucked into the early Thursday line up.

The Motet at the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
The Motet at the Main Stage
From there we caught Denver funk legends, the Motet, on the main stage. Playing tunes from their previous album like "Nemesis" blended with new material from a forthcoming album that is currently in the works, the band was hitting hard. The fellas of the Motet never disappoint me with the personally awe-inspiring talents of Garrett Sayers on the bass and Joey Porter on the keys. The entire group is without a doubt a talented bunch, but I cant get enough when Sayers or Porter get their chance to solo. In a nice surprise of the set, one of the percussionists of Toubab Krewe came to sit in for a song

After another quick stop at the Solar Overdrive stage with Astronomix, Quixotic hit the main stage for their highly involved performance set. New Age chill beats set the tone for the roaring violin. Dancers graced the stage as well as a hanging trapeze area to the side of the stage. The set was both musically and visually very inspiring.

Octopus Nebula, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
Octopus Nebula at the Solar Overdrive Stage
Octopus Nebula was definitely one of the breakout sets of the day. Rocking the midnight set at the Solar Overdrive stage, O Neb had the crowd at the secondary stage as packed as the main stage. Denver locals truly represented for the Colorado crowd. The jamtronic blend was a perfect sound for the late night set.

Midnite on the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
Midnite hit the stage a bit later than their namesake would suggest. Coming on the main stage at 1:15 am, the classic reggae group brought us the dub sound to the mountains. By this time, I was running out of steam and laid down for the night, but luckily the stage was close enough to our camp that I could still listen to the band. The sound waves bounced off the surrounding cliffs to create an even more dubbed out reggae sound as I drifted off to sleep.

The ARISE location and production are top notch. The environment they have procured at the Sunrise Ranch is an amazingly beautiful setting for a music fest. On top of that, the production level is very much on par with the best of summer camping festivals. While admittedly the attendance seems lower than expected, the event is set up for years of success if they are able to grow in the coming years. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the weekend has in store.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Quiet Entertainer releases Intelligent Design

Today marks the release of Quiet Entertainer's newest album entitled Intelligent Design. According to Quiet Entertainer, this is the "most rewarding collection of music [he's] done because you can start to hear a new production style and writing style that [he's] been working on." Not to take away from his other works, but this album is definitely a departure from his previous music in the best way possible. It's no secret that I have been a fan of QE's stuff ever since I have been here in Nashville. He has a bit of a flair for the dramatic on stage which I like. It's rare in what has become a boring cut+paste EDM, 'what is that guy actually doing up there' scene. Living up to his name, he rarely speaks on stage, but instead uses a sampled computer robot voice. He's not afraid to put himself out there (literally) and dance with the crowd. He uses samplers, midi controllers and an actual turntable alongside his computer. He is also a fellow, native of the 901 (M.E.M.P.H.I.S. If ya don't know, ya betta ask somebody) which basically makes us kin in Nashville. We also share a fondness for a lot of the same instrumental hip hop producers and old school hip hop groups. And above all, he has good taste in drummers. I am playing alongside him in select sets for this mini-tour and have been for a couple of months or so now which also makes him a Winslow by default. ALL of that aside, Intelligent Design is just damn GOOD. It's an album that I can bump in my car or at home. That's a lot coming from me. My musical attention span with new artists isn't very long. I get bored easily and I need more than a club banger with deep oscillating bass or beat repeat to listen again. Having listened (and played) his material, I can say that this one is far beyond anything he has attempted yet. It's not all sample-based and features more actual musical compositions. He is evolving as an artist and a producer. That's what it's all about. And...maybe a little head bobbing too...which this album definitely provides. It's chill, but not too chill. It's thoughtful (as the title suggests) and doesn't just stick to the modern parlor tricks that a lot of these generic "push play" DJ's use nowadays. It even includes one of the sets he performed during his opening slot on tour with Mutemath. Yeah, that's right. Mutemath.

So give it a listen, a share and a download. It's FREE (a.k.a. pay what you like). You won't be disappointed.

Catch it LIVE:
Tonight, Quiet Entertainer kicks off his mini-tour to promote Intelligent Design at the Social in Murfreesboro,TN. Tomorrow, he'll be in back in Nashville at Cafe Coco to celebrate his birthday and Saturday night he'll be at the Coup in Clarksville, TN. I'll be playing in Nashville and Clarksville, so come say what up and buy a CD.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Digital Beat Down ARISE Music Festival Preview

Denver-local, livetronica duo Digital Beat Down have been hitting the regional festival season hard this summer. Fresh off UNIFY Festival and a late night set at Phibstock, the boys head for their festival hattrick with ARISE Musical Festival. Winslow Family Productions sat down with Nick Pilz and Andy Lubner of Digital Beat Down to discuss their upcoming date at ARISE and their forthcoming sophomore release Pressure EP.
A preview of DBD’s 2nd EP, Pressure, with the track “Befunkt”

WF: So, What does playing the ARISE Festival mean for Digital Beat Down?

Nick: Being a part of a festival that’s getting as big as ARISE is hoping to be, I think its good to be a part of it and representing Colorado in general. Just pretty much being there and the fact that we’re a part of Colorado’s scene and this is a Colorado festival, it’s good to be a part of it.

Andy: I think the fact that this is a transformational festival, if you will, I think thats nice. Our music is to party but we hope that there is something a little more to it as well, so its nice to be part of a festival that emphasizes that, that community, that artistic expression, you know, what they’re sort of going for with their vibe seems very conscious. So I’m very excited to be a part of that aspect of it.

WF: What does the ARISE festival mean to Colorado?

Andy: I think in some senses, it’s kind of about time. Colorado hasn’t had a big festival, they’ve kinda pussy footed around and had things like Summer of Mile High, but I love to see something like ARISE come in and draw a big diverse crowd of bands, DJs, artists, and performers; and then also there’s a place for Colorado to go and throw down. It’s a beautiful state here. There’s lots of little stuff, but its fun to have something that’s a little bit bigger and something hopefully steady.

Nick: Yeah, definitely something steady. Something thats going to be there and that’s going to go for years and gets bigger, but doesn’t get bigger. Not the sort of style where they forget why they started the whole festival.

WF: Well, you know, ARISE is actually an acronym for Activate. Reconnect. Interact. Synchronize. Empower.

Andy: It sets a good example and a good tone. I like being places or going to festivals like that, that have more of a conscious vibe. You know, like people who throw away their trash and keep the site clean and are concerned about the footprint they’re leaving. Having fun but doing so with the environment and others around them in mind. Its a good example to set no matter where you are.

WF: Is there a particular artist at ARISE that DBD links themselves with more as far as genre, style and influences go?

Nick: Yeah, we’re definitely on that electronic dance music tip. It’s that sort of music, but I’m excited to see bands like Greensky Bluegrass, Keller and the Keels. Michael Franti is going to be amazing. Stuff like that is actually getting me excited. It’s funny because we’re Digital Beat Down, we’re an electronic band, and I still really enjoy instruments and all that stuff. And I understand the DJ culture and I love elements of that as well, but its really cool to get that mix. That’s where DBD comes in and we are that mix. Take that electronic music, take the classic rock and roll instruments and let’s mold it together. I’m really stoked to be playing with a lot of the Colorado homies as well. Octopus Nebula, those guys are our good friends, you know. It’s nice we get to play a festival with those guys. James and the Devil are there, Astromix, ProJect Aspect; it’s good to play with people that we know are here and doing what we’re doing.

Andy: They’ve got some national headliners, but most of the second tier acts are Colorado DJs, bands and a few other ones, but there’s definitely a heavy, heavy Colorado presence which is nice to be able to identify with a group that can bring people out that know how to have a good time.

WF: If there was one act at ARISE you could choose to play a collab set with, who would it be?

Nick: Octopus Nebula, get on that jamtronic tip. Collab set.. uh, I don’t know.

(Everyone laughs)

Nick: To have Keller lay down some tasty loops would be fun.

Andy: Or Chali 2na coming to rap with us. I’d take that.

Nick: Get some flow in there.

Stay tuned for a more in depth interview later this month on Thursday, August 29th when we will talk more wtih Digital Beat Down about their new release live on the air at

During the ARISE Music Festival, Digital Beat Down takes to the Solar Overdrive Stage on Saturday, Aug 17th at Noon. Also this month, DBD will be releasing Pressure EP, their second record since their debut Get Born in 2011. This will be a “name your price” download available from their website Be sure to follow them on facebook at