Passion. Voice. Where'd you go? 
You'd think that with the exponential growth of music listener's in the world, that the music industry would take the empirical data to understand the difference between music that makes a difference in people's lives and music that goes great with a shitty Bud Light commercial. Music 'business' has been epitomized, and with the lack of sales revenue, comes a greater search for one-hit-wonders. There are more and more people with access to music and yet, EDM and Trap reign supreme. Don't get me wrong... Each person has their own preference and their own passion for different music... but does a Skrillex song or a Migos song really seem like it's going to last the test of time like a Beatles song, or "Hallelujah"? Nah. I digress... Sort of. 

Cue Joseph Huber, founding member of .357 String Band, turned pillared solo artist; who has his head in all the right head spaces (at least for a songwriter). Huber is a person who understands that music needs feeling to survive, no matter what genre it is. We talked with him about the life of a 'roots' musician making it work in today's world, and how the finer moments in life, no matter how small, can impact you in the biggest way. Those are things that he writes about... now if only "Lil Pump" could do that, let's just say that "Gucci Gang" wouldn't sound quite the same... 

Huber has a huge solo catalogue that you can listen to via Bandcamp, Spotify, or learn more about at his website. But take a listen to "Souls Without Maps" as you read our interview with him. Be sure to catch him on NYE at The Pabst with Horseshoes & Handgrenades. 

MM: How are you doing outside of music?
All is going well here. Winter is setting in and I'm currently working on a new batch of songs for another album next year, while working on other custom furniture projects for folks. Always staying busy on something, but honeslty there's not always a lot of things 'outside of music life' when you're trying to do almost everything by yourself. Rough biz.

MM: It's clear to see that music has been a big part of your life for some time, founding The .357 String Band, and then solidifying a great personal repertoire of songs under your own name. Where do your roots come from (no pun intended)?
Well, I remember my grandfather playing the piano at Christmas and deciding I wanted to do that, and I think maybe my parents just started defining me as the musical one, so I just went with it perhaps. I was certainly a late-night MTV kid always attempting to stay up the see the "good" and "rare" bands that were off-the-radar and more interesting. So I naturally switched to guitar early on and never really looked back from music. I started attempting to write songs by 6th grade and just kept with it since. It's sort of always been a natural desire with me from that early age.

MM: Your music has been referred to the likeness of John Prine, and I must say - as soon as I heard "Souls Without Maps" form your most recent release The Suffering Stage -  an image of Prine's distinct and humorous grin popped right into my head. Obviously it's one thing as a songwriter to be influenced by artists like that, and it's another thing to be compared to them. Could you talk about how you've found your own voice and style in the music that you create?
Finding your own voice is always the hardest part early on. I really do believe there is rarely anything truly 'new' and everything is just old things mixed with other old things by new people. So, in music, I'm a giant mix of everyone I've loved in music, but I'm the only door it can come out of, so over time and exposure, it just becomes "your" style.  And certainly even over time, finding that people define you as having a noticeable and recognizable style is something that is simultaneously an achievement and suddenly a giant wall. It means you've achieved a good enough amount of people knowing your music, but it becomes a point of people expecting "your" sound from you now. So, it's actually natural to fight that too... which I certainly do. "Oh, Lord, please don't let me be understood" is something I would like to stick to.

MM: This being a Milwaukee-centric platform, I would feel remiss if I did not ask you about your song "Hello, Milwaukee" from 2012's Tongues of Fire. 
I was leaving town on tour with .357 out west for about a little over a month, and was simultaneously attempting to make a relationship work again after a short break, and it couldn't have been worse timing. So, I was interpreting all this new visual beauty of the landscape in places I'd never seen through eyes that were a little skewed to the dark side. So that was what the song was generally about. Knowing you're going to be gone for 5 weeks and waiting and waiting to hurry home. It certainly didn't make the time go any faster. It was a rough period, but folks still seem to request that song almost every show and I attempt to play it at every Milwaukee show for sure. 

MM: Obviously "Country" music in popular terms, is not what is used to be. It has lost its identity; and although there is a great resurgence and respect toward budding Americana and Roots artists, it still feels like there is a barrier that the genre cannot break - no matter how many Grammy's Jason Isbell or Chris Stapleton win. And maybe that's the point of the genre - to be gritty, and necessarily almost making artists' play with a chip on their shoulder. In a world where EDM and Trap music hold the reigns, it seems like any semblance of passion and reflection get lost. Do you feel the genre is still well received? 
Well, you're probably going to get my reactionary side with this question. It's just my current mood. "Folk" music is just underground be definition. It's 'everyman' music. As soon as it enters the pop charts, it actually loses something. I've gone to folk "conferences" and left so jaded and annoyed of the money and marketing and superficiality behind it that I'll never go back. It's not folk. It's mildly hilarious to me despite anyone peripherally involved in sincere efforts. And if that sounds mean, I think that it would be not huge news for the folks on the business side of things to know that, 99% of the time, the best of the musicians are rolling their eyes. Good and innovative art is rarely good business in the music world. In terms of "country," honestly, I just don't think I care that much about it. So many people in 2017, and I assume for at least 2018, are flocking to modern traditionalists who are bringing the "real" country music back. I haven't found any I give more than one or two  "listens" to. Really I just think, "Well...that sounds better than the radio I guess." or "Yeah, that sounds like nice classic production." And then I move on. For me lately, I guess I just want some sort of avante garde that isn't traditional and not pop. In the end, folks just need to write better songs. Ha. The end.

MM: You recently finished touring in the Netherlands, which is allegedly, a hub for Americana fans. Is it true that the good people of Northern Europe show respect to a genre and culture that has been disregarded in it's home country?
The Netherlands (and Germany and Belgium too) were great to us.  They're smaller countries, sure...but I just think a larger percent of the population is paying attention. They're too smart for American pop country, and they have zero cultural appeal and reference to the things that these cliche 'backwoods' anthems are even superficially trying to exploit, so I think the 'underground' roots artists are there only real vessel to even give a damn about roots music. And they do dig it thankfully. They get it and they treat you well too. Don't get me wrong, we tour all over the U.S. and are always treated well, but the the music world over there is well-supported in ways that aren't always 'a given' over here. It's stressful touring over there, but there hospitality and accommodations make up for it.

MM: Something you would like the world to know. Anything at all.
Everyone should take a class in 'Logic and Reasoning' in their lifetime.
If you ask someone for a plain glass of water and they pour some coca-cola into it and tell you the water's corrupt and then say you can fix it by just drinking a coca-cola instead, you probably shouldn't trust them. 
Van Morrison's 'Veedon Fleece' is a perfect album. Why didn't anyone tell me that in 34 years.

MM: Is there a spot/place in MKE that you hold near and dear to your heart? 
Circle A is a hidden gem that I always still love going to after all these years of living here. Small intimate setting, good folks, and it's where I first got together with me gal.


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It get's colder, you start to think back on the summer of missed opportunity. All the things you wish you could have done. All the things you should have taken advantage of. That season of self-reflection starts settling in, and you mentally prepare for the long winter ahead. You believe there is more to life than just another year of changing weather. Find your soundtrack below.

Join us in welcoming MKE singer & songwriter, Nathan Honoré. With two released EP's and a handful of singles, Nathan has built a strong pillar of vulnerable songwriting for the world to hear. Half the battle is writing the songs. The other half is actually feeling good enough about yourself to put them out. His self-confidence in songwriting has pushed him toward new boundaries both lyrically and sonically. Linear and fragile vocals, coupled with a variety of drum machine percussion, beckons the listener to artists such as Noah & The Whale or The National.

Peep our feature with Nathan below and hit up his most recent EP release, Circling Sideways.

MM: How is life outside of music?
My wife and I adopted a beautiful dog named Bear a few months ago, so things are in a state of flux with the little cub around. She's pretty great and brings a lot of happiness into our lives. I'm currently taking a break from gigging and using what time I do have to write, record, and release music as it comes. Always trying new things!

MM: It seems that you've worn quite a few hats before focusing in on songwriting and performing. Can you talk a little bit about the path that has led you to where you are today?
The basic story is that I was going to be a professional tuba player, went to college, and then learned I hated it. I tried getting in to radio, recording, and creative writing, but went ahead and completed my music degree. After college, I seemed to be remarkably unqualified for any job that I wanted, so I rejected music as an outlet for a while. I kept writing a blog, short stories, and tried to stay creative that way. The various employment I had following college didn't help my confidence and I got pretty lost. Playing guitar and songwriting had always been in the background, but I never took it too seriously. 

When my wife and I moved back to Milwaukee in 2011, I had sort of a creative, musical awakening. I was really inspired by the folk revival and started learning more about bluegrass, country, and folk. I focused on the craft of songwriting and realized how important it was to me. It became part of my identity and a deep part of my DNA. I've been writing and performing in Milwaukee for 6 years now in various forms, and I've learned an awful lot in a relatively short amount of time. A strange journey, that's for sure. But as they say, in the end it's the journey that matters.

MM: You allude to a few hardships (specifically in the year 2009). Could you speak a little more about that, and how they have motivated you creatively?
Graduating from college in 2008 and 2009 was pretty tough for a lot of people. I think the sheer lack of jobs available, partnered with the fact that my education had left me largely unqualified really hit me hard. I had a period of unemployment, then just part-time work at a bunch of crappy jobs. It just gave me a different perspective on the world and made me a more balanced and empathetic human being. My writing has definitely been informed and colored by the experiences of the past 8 years. Most of my favorite songs that I've written have been about topics like time, hope, journeys, and self-reflection. Essentially, they're the songs I wish I had when I was going through the harder times.

MM: You released your second EP Circling Sideways back in April, and it was quite the sonic jump forward from 2016's 101 EP, adding in drum loops & other electric elements, dressed over the pillar of your acoustic guitar. Was there any specific motivation that led you to change drastically from 101's acoustic guitar-heavy backbone?
Prior to 101, I felt my songs needed the other instruments and production in order to be good. They wouldn't work when stripped down to just my voice and an acoustic guitar, and I wasn't satisfied with that. So when I recorded 101, I took everything away and started over.

In my opinion, the best songs transcend the instrumentation. A great example is Johnny Cash covering "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails. It's a great song, no matter how it is performed or presented. For the last two years, that has been the benchmark. Can the song work with a ton of instruments, synthesizers, and drum machines? Can it work without?  If the answer isn't "Yes" to both questions, it probably needs some work. When it came time to record Circling Sideways, I felt the answer to those benchmark questions was unequivocally "Yes," and that allowed me to push forward with my vision.

MM: There is one song specifically from your first effort off of 101, that intrigued me right from the title. Could you give us the story behind your song "West Allis"? 
That one is definitely an outlier in the catalog, haha! One night I had a crazy realistic and vivid dream that involved my drunk high school band director, Miller Park, and my old 'Stallis neighborhood. After some post-work beers, I got home and decided to try writing a song. The dream was still on my mind, so I just started singing about it. The verses are a play by play of the entire dream. I typically don't write about specific places, let alone include it as a song name. But this dream/song just screamed "West Allis" to me, I couldn't resist!

MM: Something you would like the world to know. Anything at all.
I'm obsessed the musical Hamilton and unabashedly attempt to spit rhymes along with the recording.

MM: Being a Milwaukee native... hip us to your favorite spot in MKE.
In true Milwaukee form, it's all about the beer. I'm a huge fan of our many beer garden options, which are dog friendly too! Another big favorite is supporting local breweries. There's been such a resurgence in the city over the last 2 years, I'm loving every minute of it. Third Space and Enlightened Brewery are my top two, by far. Great people and delicious beer.


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That snow is finally melting, the ground is thawing, Milwaukee is looking to drink outside - it must be Spring. And with that, there always seems to be rebirth and growth of another nature at this time of the year, and local rockers, Rocket Cat, seem to fit that mold. After coming together randomly in 2016, the band has worked to infuse each other's individual styles and experiences to create something new. Lead singer, Justine Trudeaux has only recently come out of a 26-year music hiatus, and guitar player Chris Guse mentioned that some of the music on their album Radiant Transmission was written back in 1989. With the help of bassist Dave Maurer and drummer Steve Vorass, it seems that Rocket Cat was a long-since frozen entity that they didn't even know existed, and is finally starting to thaw out, right here in MKE. 

You can stream Radiant Transmission via Spotify, and can catch them performing at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee on March 30th, for 414Live. We talked with Justine and Chris about the history of Rocket Cat, making music together, and the influence of Milwaukee - read it below.

CG: Chris Guse – guitar
JT: Justine Trudeaux - vocals
MM: How are you doing outside of music? How is life going? 

Busy! In addition to getting the band off the ground, I just wrapped up an elementary school variety show for 155 kids and recently started a women’s civic organization whose membership is increasing exponentially. Looking forward to things settling down over the next few weeks so we can get back to songwriting.

MM: Can you give us a background of Rocket Cat? How did you all come together?

CG: A series of random human collisions. I met Dave through a mutual friend who auditioned for my old cover band. Dave pulled me into Parallel where I met Thea Vorass (cello), whose husband is Steve and happened to be available and interested when Rocket Cat needed a new drummer. On a different track, I casually mentioned to another friend that I was considering pulling together a band and needed a singer. This friend knew that Justine was just getting back into music after an extended hiatus and asked if she was interested in connecting with us.

JT: Just a strange turn of events all at the right time. I do some volunteer work at Radio Milwaukee and one of my favorite events is the Fall Ball where they have live band karaoke to raise money for the station. I was watching the performers in 2015 and set a goal for myself to be part of it in 2016. So I started taking voice lessons to see if I still had it in me after a 26-year break. I have a friend whose son plays in a band with my son and she asked if I wanted to meet some guys who looking for a singer to start a new project. I think I said “sure, what have I got to lose”, took a risk and jumped into the great unknown. Before February 2016, I had no idea who any of these people were.

MM: Right now you have a mini LP available, Radiant Transmission, is there work on a full length or some upcoming projects?

JT: We don’t have any concrete recording plans at the moment, although we’ve been working on some new material that will likely end up in a studio in the near future. We continue to debate recording full length albums vs. releasing singles. It seems like people don’t consume music as a whole anymore. Radiant Transmission definitely tells a story and is meant to be listened to as a whole. But the reality is that people download what they like and the rest of the story is lost. We may try recording songs one at a time next time around. Or we may end up taking our time this year and pulling together a full album. We haven’t really discussed the future.

MM: I want to talk about the song "Surrender". It is noticeably different in feel and energy from the rest of the tracks on Radiant Transmission. Would you be able to talk about the songwriting behind it, and what it was like to capture the dynamic changes in the song, as to transcend the emotion throughout?

JT: "Surrender" is a very personal song and my favorite on the CD. It is an emotional journey in three parts. It is transformation. The day the guys sent over the instrumental tracks they recorded in the studio, I cried for a good hour just listening to it over and over. The music so beautifully captured the emotion of the words and melody. At that moment, I knew that these guys truly understood what was behind the vocals and they worked so hard to capture it. When the song hits the crescendo, I see fireworks exploding in my head every time. 

CG: I think that while we certainly have a “hook” focus on the EP, we don’t feel that conventional song structures are a requirement and we’re going to do what we feel is interesting and compelling.  If that means 6/8 (Surrender) or 7/4 (Gold) time signatures or ballad tempos or minimalist arpeggios (Enlightened Madness) then that’s cool. Surrender was really a case of a musical idea being heavily massaged to fit the lyric and energy of melody - I think we all felt there was something special going on there that demanded full attention.  Everything we did musically is there to support the arc of the story being told.  I think it’s interesting to note that the majority of the music was written in 1989 and exists as an entirely different song. While I’m proud of what that was, this marriage of a very old and naïve musical idea and the maturity and life experience dripping out of the lyric and melody is very compelling. I used to be concerned that the crescendo never really met the catharsis I was looking for.  When we recorded it and were layering in guitar upon guitar and giant bass pads I had a moment of realization that it couldn’t be accomplished - what was in my head is too big for reality. The crescendo is now one of my favorite things about the song.


MM: You recently played at a Milwaukee Bucks Game and have an upcoming show at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee (both flourishing MKE institutions). Do you feel that Milwaukee is growing as a city, and with that a greater acceptance for local music of all varieties?

CG: Milwaukee is certainly supportive of all manner of indie bands.  Our extended musical family includes Parallel (Chris & Dave) and Bright Black (Steve). Both are very different from Rocket Cat - on opposite sides of the spectrum - yet they kind of exist in the same world due to the crossover of the members. There’s room for everything.

JT: Milwaukee is cool. I’m not from here and when we were deciding on where to move in 2008, I was not very enthusiastic. All I really knew about Milwaukee was beer and Laverne & Shirley. But a friend sent an article on Milwaukee’s rebirth and I started to pay more attention to what was happening civically and in the arts community. I found Radio Milwaukee right away and contacted them to see how I could get involved. The work they do to bring the city together through music is so powerful. When you dig a little deeper into the city and its culture you find incredible things happening. The arts community is thriving and something for all Milwaukeeans to feel proud about.

MM: Something you want the world to know. 

CG: Making songs (and especially recording them) is extremely difficult. It requires a level of patience, detail scrutinization and soul-bearing that is exhausting.  Please buy the music you like and support artists any way you can.  They all work harder than I had ever imagined.

MM: What do you love about Milwaukee? 

JT: I love the lake. I’ve never lived right next to such a huge body of water. How lucky are we to have this precious resource in our community? I also love the winters here. The extreme cold & snow makes for some very cozy times and there’s not the same social pressures of hectic summer months. I also went to Mad Planet for the first time a few months ago for Retro Night. What a blast!

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As the MKE music scene continues to grow, it seems artists continue to pick a cohesive genre. Each band obviously making it their own, but readily able to be categorized. It is rare to see a group take on multiple elements and throw the listener for a loop. Meet Parallel; a five-piece, female fronted, cello-backed amalgam of talent, churning out sounds that beckon familiarities across multiple genres. From classical, to punk, to folk, they try to create a unique sound that keeps you guessing. 

"Vagabond" was the our favorite track from their new EP "Between The Lines", which you can stream below. We also got to chat with cello player, Thea Vorass, to get an insight into the inner-workings of Parallel. 

MM: How are you doing outside of music? How is life?
PL: Many of us in the band have had a rough couple of years personally (life changes, family deaths, etc.) but the one constant we have is each other.  All of us agree our bond as band mates is like no other -- and it often gets recognized/commented on by concert goers.   

MM: Can you tell us how Parallel came to be? And what's the meaning behind the name?
PL: After playing in another project together, our singer Meredith and our drummer Rick decided to form a new band together.  The idea was to play a mix of unexpected or out of the box covers and originals.  One of our most popular covers is "Walk" by Foo Fighters.  No one expects to see a band with cello, piano, and female fronted vocals pull off a song in this genre but we love the challenge, and want to twist the song to make it our own.  Very early on, the band liked the name Parallel, but we put it aside due to the fact that it was hard to find a website URL and we were afraid it would not stand out enough.  After many versions and strange looks from family and friends on our other ideas gone wrong (i.e. Shadow Slant, Green Fancy), Parallel stuck.  We like to think it represents our original idea of taking those cover songs and making "parallel" version. 

MM: Cello is a gorgeous instrument that often get's no attention in modern music. Where did the decision come from to put it up front in your songs/on the record?
 After many, many, MANY failed attempts at finding a bass player (oh the stories of auditions gone wrong we could tell you...), Rick and Meredith thought a cello would compliment her emotive vocals and writing style.  Oddly enough, Meredith and I went to college together. We knew of each other at the time but did not reconnect until Meredith reached out to her friend Loni (my stand partner in college orchestra) that we got reacquainted. My style is a variety of melodic lines, supportive bass tones, or driving rhythms.  I definitely believe that cello doesn't need to be played on every single note of every song... it needs to add something important to the song. 

MM: There are definitely a lot of different genres coming together in your music, from classical instrumentation melodies, to hard hitting rock progressions. Is there one person that write's the songs for Parallel, or is it a group effort? And how do all the different styles come together into a finished product for you?
PL: All of us have very eclectic music styles (from classical to punk to female folksy pop artists like Sarah McLaughlan & Ani DiFranco) and experience playing in other projects with varying styles (blues, rock, & alt-country to name a few).  Meredith often comes up with an idea for a song - chord progression and ideas for vocal lines.  She brings these ideas to the group and we all work on it together to transform these ideas into Parallel songs.  We like to play what sounds right and don't worry too much about writing in a particular style.  What makes us unique is the diversity of genres and instrumentation of our songs.

MM: Is there a general theme behind the lyrics of "Between The Lines"? Any stories behind a song on the EP?
 'Between the Lines' is a collection of songs Meredith has written from college days to now.  All are written around personal experiences (love, loss, personal struggles, moving on, etc.).  Vagabond is the newest song on the album.  Meredith wrote this song about feeling like she would never settle down, but rather be a vagabond the rest of her life, right before meeting her now, fiance.   

MM: Something you want the world to know. 
We love doing our own thing.  We play mostly originals.  We play some covers.  Milwaukee sometimes has some stigmas to that - they are not sure if they should consider us a cover band or an original band.  We just play what feels right and love doing it together. 

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?
As music lovers, we all are obsessed with music and love to go out and support our friends who play, see new bands, and be immersed in the music scene.  Favorite venue to play: Linneman's, Art Bar, and any place on a patio in summer;  Favorite festivals to play: Summerfest & Bastile Days;  Favorite venue to see shows: Riverside,Turner Hall, & Backroom at Collectivo.

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Well, we can now feel the end of the year creeping up on us. While the internet is a flurry with meme after meme talking about how shitty 2016 was (not that I disagree), I think we can focus on 2016 as a good year too. With division, comes unity. And there is no better time to unite, than the holidays. Despite holiday orientations, attitudes toward goddamn holiday cups and commercialization; realize that this a time for love. In the words of the great, Francis Xavier Cross from Scrooged: "It's Christmas Eve! It's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!"

And to help us get in that mood, why not some easing holiday music from a brand new Milwaukee artist: Fiona Blue. Only a very recent addition to the MKE music scene, her reverb soaked tunes provide a comforting break from the hustle and bustle of the world. She recently put out a little Christmas EP, where she pairs her voice nicely alongside only a ukulele. 

Listen to "Ukulele Christmas" and read our interview below. Also be sure to check out some of her original tunes here.

MM: How are you doing? What have you been up to?

FB: My life at the moment is a bit all over the place! I actually just moved back to Milwaukee early December and I am so happy to be back! I missed my home city like crazy. I'm preparing to send off my significant other to Iraq on a 9 month deployment, and I'm about to start working as a full time nanny here in MKE. 


MM: Can you tell us a little bit about "Fiona Blue"? When did you start the project? What is the meaning behind the name?

FB: I just officially started the project Fiona Blue early November. I feel like it has been in the making for a while though. I've been writing music for as long as I can remember, but found a more serious passion for it within the last 2-3 years. I became very involved with the music ministry at my church, made new amazing musician friends, and learned I had a voice that I could use outside of car karaoke. I was pretty shy, and still get so nervous to play in front of people. But I went from not being able to share my music with anyone to sharing it with thousands of people at my church and playing a few times for little gigs here and there. It became one of the best feelings I had ever experienced so I kept going with it. 

A friend of mine and I recorded a small CD of covers a couple years ago and that's when I got introduced to at-home recording. I decided to start Fiona Blue to see what I could learn and come up with on my own. A new experiment and a new creative outlet is always a good thing in my book.

The name Fiona Blue comes from my notorious love of sad music (Blue), and Fiona is the name of my cat. Whenever I'm playing at home she comes near me to listen, and I just love the name Fiona. So it's a little silly, but it makes up Fiona Blue. 


MM: What was the inspiration and motivation to do a ukulele Christmas album?

FB: I have always loved Christmas music and the warm fuzzy feelings that come with listening to it. The last 2 years I had been working at different nursing homes during the holidays and I would play Christmas music for them to sing along to with my ukulele. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed bringing back some good memories for the residents. I decided to kind of revisit that with the little Christmas EP. I wanted to experiment with recording, and also share some happy holiday spirit & nostalgia with everyone, but in my own way! 


MM: You have some other originals out - are there any plans to release an album of your originals in the near future? 

FB: Yes! Right now I'm really trying to learn and figure out the whole recording at home thing, but I have plenty of originals written that I would like to share in a full album someday. It's in the works.

MM: Your original song "Golden Faith" has an intriguing concept behind it, can you talk a little more about it?

FB: Golden Faith is really about how I've gotten to observe and learn from other strong women that have graced my life. I consider it a real privilege to learn from others, and I've been blessed with many women who have had a lot to teach me. It's also about me being envious of their strong faiths. They are unafraid, unwavering, and that really inspires me. I strive to be like them when I am in my later years in life. 

MM: Something you want the world to know.

FB: This morning I danced to my Go-Go's vinyl wearing a pink onesie that has stacks of pancakes and strawberries on it. Also, just be excellent to each other. 

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in Milwaukee.

FB: That is hard to decide! I love our art museum, I am an art freak, so I really enjoy going there. I also love going to the Dog Haus on Brady, getting a Wisconsin dog, then walking to Rochambo to eat it and have some great coffee. The east side made me first fall in love with MKE - as cliche and cheesy as that sounds. 

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Milwaukee has always been a different kind of blue-collar town. It's filled with hard workers that understand the value of livelihood (probably due to the amount of bars that entice us to spend that hard-earned cash); but it seems that our daily grind doesn't halt our creative growth. The city continuously appears to be jam-packed with artists, musicians, and creators of all kinds; many whom make it a mission to live out their passions, despite the 9-5 institution. It begs the question of how does MKE become such a melting-pot for art? How can we possibly have so many different festivals, parties, shows and events happening on any given night? Who in the hell has time for all that shit!? And yet, Milwaukee finds time to let the art out. 

There is another new band on the MKE horizon; one filled with people who definitely shouldn't have any time to make music. Add together two chef's, a brewmaster, a teacher, and a musician with two other bands, and you get SilverFoxxx; a new-to-the-scene rock band who is about to release their debut, self-titled album, which took over a decade to come to fruition. Their album release show is this Thursday, at 10pm at Company Brewing. 

SilverFoxxx is Mark Jasso, Pat Zimmer, Alex Bentley, Chris Weber, and Kyle Ciske. We hung out with them at one of their practices (which is, for obvious reasons, a miracle that they can find time for that) and got a look inside how they all come together to create. We are also excited to premiere "Meet You There", a song off their debut album. Listen below while you read the thoughts from lead singer Mark Jasso, about the ins and outs of SilverFoxxx.

MM: How are you all doing? What are you up to outside of music?

Everyone in the band has a busy schedule that includes families, working, and other responsibilities. At the moment Kyle is helping open up the Explorium Brewpub in South Ridge Mall as the brewmaster. I just helped launch a pizza trailer as head chef partnering with Raised Grain Brewing Company in Waukesha. Chris is busy as co-owner of Saints of Wingsconsin, a kick ass local hot sauce company. Alex teaches by day and runs marathons by night. And Pat is in three different local bands making tunes for people to groove to constantly. Needless to say we are all busy with our separate lives but we find time to come together once a week to play music that not only inspires us but challenges us as well.

MM: How did you all come together to start the group?

I met Alex in 3rd grade and we've been friends ever since. Mr. Misty was our first band in high school with a bunch of our close friends playing out at venues like the Rave, Tasting Room, and Majeska. We met Pat in high school through mutual friends and just playing music together. Kyle and I worked at Kopp's Frozen Custard together as teenagers and found a common bond of music, and beer too. I met Chris at church about five years ago and we have been playing together since. All of the members of this band have been in the same band in the past in different reincarnations.

MM: What is the inspiration behind the band name, SilverFoxxx?

 It was that or "Eaton Green and the Blazers". We just liked SilverFoxxx!

MM: Is your songwriting a collaborative process?

Usually someone has an idea or a riff that they came up with and we go from there. Sometimes the song is brought into practice in its entirety, already mapped out and orchestrated with lyrics and transitions. That is just how songwriting is. Sometimes the whole song comes to you, lyrics and melody, in fifteen minutes and it feels great. Some songs we are still working on, we wrote years ago. After we finished recording this album, Mike Hoffmann (producer) said that the attic inside your brain for songwriting will start to clear out and more ideas will come, and man was he right. Since almost a year ago when we started recording the album we have another album worth of songs written, and we are really finding our groove.

MM: You all have your day jobs and other passions at play. How do you make the band work?

 It's difficult, but we have a designated practice day and try to get together weekly to keep the progress going. Practice is cathartic and therapeutic for us. We can be open and creative in our space however we want to. It's a great stress reliever to play music with other passionate musicians. We have become close friends and that helps with the dynamic of the group as well.

MM: What are some of the inspirations behind your first album? Is there a general theme or concept behind the album, or is it more of just a compilation behind your efforts?

 It's been a long time in the making. Half the songs are from almost fifteen years ago when Alex, Kyle and I were in a band. The other from the last couple years.  Some are from real world experiences, some are fictional accounts, and some songs can be looked at from a few different perspectives. 

MM: Something you want the world to know. 
Be nice to everyone. Stop putting fruit on my salad! Always question authority.

MM: What are your favorites spots/things to do in MKE?
The lakefront, tasty local beer, overeating.

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Fall is here whether we like it or not, but with the Autumnal Equinox comes one of the highest regarded festivals that takes place in our dear city: MKE Film Fest. Growing larger and larger each year, the film fest has certainly picked up national recognition for its premieres, guests, and feature of local talent. Fairly new to the festival is the category of local artist music videos, where Jessica Farrell and Quinn Hester have had an integral part in helping to fortify that category.

After coming together at UWM's film program, the two film makers have already imprinted themselves in the local scene - doing projects for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee and MKE band GGOOLLDD. But what makes them a little out of the ordinary, is their attitude toward making music videos. When they find a Milwaukee musician they enjoy, they reach out to them and offer their production services for free. They truly wish to help artists achieve their potential by giving them an everlasting, gorgeous production that the artist can be proud of and utilize for promotion and growth. It's that kind of attitude that the music and film industries needs to see a little more of.

Between them, they have two videos entered into the Music Video category at the festival. Jessica co-directed Devil Met Contention's "Used To Be" video (watch below); while Quinn directed a new Fabian James video that is premiering tonight at the showcase screening, at the Oriental Theater starting at 9:45pm. 

Take a glimpse into Jessica and Quinn's inspirations and work, below.

MM: How are you guys doing outside of your film work? How is life going?

JF: Busy, busy, busy... Always keep busy! Along with staying active in the independent film community we also work on commercial productions which can involve frequent travel.

QH: I’m a freelancer that works on a per project-basis and Jessica works full-time producing for an advertising agency. Sometimes we can go weeks without seeing each other due to our travel schedules, but we somehow always manage to find balance between work, our passions, and relaxation."

MM: Give us a bit of a background on yourselves and how you came together in the film industry.

JF: I transferred to UW-Milwaukee to finish my degree in Film and Photography and met Quinn there. We were both in the film program and didn’t have classes together but collaborated on film projects together with our mutual friends.

QH: One project we worked on was part of a 72hr film festival and we were both editors for the project. Over that weekend, Jess and I took turns on who got to sleep and who kept the edit moving around the clock. It was a good lesson in teamwork and balancing a lot of projects at once, because we both also had classwork for UWM and jobs.

MM: You've started making awesome music videos, practically for free, for local artists. Can you explain your inspiration behind getting involved with these artists and what you hope these videos can achieve?

QH: I enjoy taking any of my free time to be creative. I love exploring new ideas, new shots, and trying to make an effective visual story. Music videos are great way to create visually, because with the music as the base, you really focus on developing a purely, visual story – audiences will get what is implied visually – it doesn’t have to be hard hitting.

JF: The Milwaukee music scene has had great momentum the last few years. It is awesome to see more musicians and filmmakers collaborating and pushing that momentum. I think the best collaborations between filmmakers and musicians come from the understanding of respecting each other’s talents and craft. Musicians have such passion and focus on the mix they are producing, and I think filmmakers also have that passion towards visuals and editing.

MM: Let's talk MKE Film Fest. The Milwaukee music video category is fairly new, and you have landed yourselves a couple of entries! (Congrats!!) Tell us about your two entries, and if you could, talk about what you believe is the importance of this category in the Film Festival.

QH: The festival is a great time and it is always nice to see your work on the big screen. I’m excited to have this music video premiere at the festival. I met Patrick (Fabian James) at an Apple store (great place to meet creative people, right?) and he was wanting to do a music video, so we stayed in touch and started game planning together. Patrick wanted to include some shuffling moves and breakdancing. I was interested in building a new camera rig to move the camera in complete full 360 movement and setting up that rig in the largest, most interesting location I could find.

JF: I met Ehson Rad from the band Devil Met Contention at the 88.9 Radio Milwaukee Music Award show the other year and we starting talking about a music video. We had a few different ideas to start with, whether we would do a visual story driven piece or more centered around performance, and we both narrowed down to showing the band, their style and vibe (suits, deep reds and dramatic lighting) and include dancing for more movement. I’m excited the festival has started this showcase and is it keeping each year now because music videos are a great way to share visual ideas and develop better and better craft for both filmmakers and musicians.

MM: Are there any projects both or either of you have worked on that caused some sort of, 'epiphany', or grand realization about your lives, and the work that you do? Perhaps a moment of inspiration that told you to keep on working in this field?

JF: For me, that would have to be premiering the feature documentary 30 Seconds Away: Breaking the Cycle last year at the Milwaukee Film Festival. The director and I worked on that project for over 5 years to document the stories and struggles of the chronically homeless in our Milwaukee community. When you work on a project for that long – you really need to keep an eye on the long game and stay motivated because you face so many challenges. The director and I knew no matter what though, we had to share these stories of the individuals we have followed for all this time. Their stories and perspectives were so important to share. Thankfully, we’ve enjoyed an amazing community outreach with the film. We sold out 3 screening at film festival last year, had Mayor Tom Barrett, and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn at the premiere, and even now still have screenings and screening requests. With the awareness the film brought to our community, the support to our local housing and shelter programs have had tremendous growth over the last year. Since the premiere of the film, the community outreach has been more than I could have ever imagined and it really brought me a lot of inspiration, hope, and motivation that film can have an impact.

QH: I wouldn't say there was one particular moment that inspired me to stay in this field. I think my choosing to remain in film and video production has more to do with my collective experience over the past number of years working on those types of project. Every production has its own set of challenges and rewards and you always get out of it what you put into it. I think the main reasons I choose to keep working in this field are closely associated with the creative relationships you develop on set with your fellow crew members, and the final result that is formed when everyone works together towards a common goal. It's extremely satisfying to create something fun, interesting, and meaningful along-side other creative minds, and that's something I'll always strive to do.

MM: Something you think the world should know. 

QH: 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best science fiction film ever made.

JF: Watch films. They will leave a lasting impression on you and provide experiences you may not otherwise ever imagine.

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?

JF: I love the Oriental Theatre. I take every guest I have visit me in Milwaukee to the Oriental Theatre and then we have to go to Purple Door Ice Cream!

QH: This is a pretty tough question to answer but I'd have to say Estabrook Park and Brady Street are definitely in my top 5.


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What was recorded as the hottest month of all time in the history of the world has left us, and Milwaukee felt its fair share of it. We bitch about the cold more than anyone else, but we also whet the return of cooler times more than anyone else... and my friends, winter is coming. With it, Milwaukee will slip back into it's not-so-festival-season and embrace new, darker elements to match our inevitable, but somewhat welcomed, seasonal depression. Rx Drugs might be the best band for your soundtrack.

Rx Drugs is a newish MKE band, comprised of definitely not new MKE music pros. The members include (but is not limited to...) Joe Crockett (The Championship), Scott Schoenbeck (The Promise Ring, Dashboard Confessional), Dustin Dobernig (Trapper Schoepp & The Shades), and Justin Krol (Hugh Bob & The Hustle). Their debut album, Future Friction, boasts an awesomely dark and cohesive sound that seems to instantly hit you right where you need it. The opening track "Aristocrat" beckons to a time of yore, and set's the album's tone warmly and gently. 

We had a chance to talk with Rx Drugs vocalist and writer, Joe Crockett. Peep the interview below and dive right into Future Friction.

MM: How are you doing?

JC: Good so far.  Nothing bad to report. 

MM: Rx Drugs is a potluck of Milwaukee artists, and we could talk about each individual's past and present... But what is Rx Drugs? How did this amalgam of talent come together? Did the cohesiveness come easily?

JC: The band was an idea Scott Schoenbeck and I had awhile ago.  We got together last year with our friends John Philip (drums) and Dustin Dobernig (Keys) and ran through a few songs I had.  It was a thing we did once a week to try something different from what we were doing with our other bands.  Not too long into it, John decided to move to Nashville and Scott was getting ready to leave with Dashboard Confessional for a couple of months.  Instead of waiting around all summer for Scott to get back I decided we should record a record.  I asked my friend Travis Doar from The Championship to come in and lay down some drums.  We rehearsed a few times, then began recording right away.  Scott put his parts down then left for tour.  This gave me enough of a foundation to build the rest of the record on. Dustin and I spent a good amount of time orchestrating the piano, organ, and synthesizer parts.  The next three months were then spent mulling over the details and refining the mix.  The cohesiveness came easily.  We were all on the same page from the beginning and had similar tastes in music which made it easy to stay on course. 

MM: There is obviously a binding element present in the songs in form of sound. Everything fits really well together, in, as your BandCamp page describes, a "dark wave" genre. But can you talk about the lyrics? Is there a general theme or concept working together for the album as a whole?

JC: There wasn't a concept to begin with.  More of a mood we wanted to set.  Once the record came together as a whole it was easier to take a step back and figure out what it was trying to say.  A lot of it has to do with not achieving the goals we set in life.  A feeling of failure yet an understanding that priorities change over time and it's ok.  

MM: Anything you're willing to tell that inspired some of the songs on the new album?

JC: In my mind I'm ripping off R.E.M. the whole time.  

MM: The album cover is awesome and very fitting after listening through. Where did it come from?

JC: Our friend Daniel Murphy designed it.  I had been a fan of his work for awhile so I asked him to do it.  He gave us quite a few covers to pick from and that one stuck out most.  Check out his stuff if you get a chance.

MM: Something you want the world to know?

JC: We were on our third drummer by the time we played our first show.

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?

JC: Blackbird Bar.  I spin records on Fridays during happy hour there sometimes.  Super fun.  


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There is something truly great about Milwaukee in the spring; that we are closer than ever to our coveted warm summer months. Soon the city will be filled with gratuitous "Best Patio Lists" and an overwhelming amount of outdoor festivals; but most importantly, the people of Milwaukee will be happy, as Vitamin D will flood the streets as much as PBR. 

Perhaps no one understands the wonder of a Milwaukee summer better than Waukesha-native, David Engen, who recently re-re-re-located his family all over the country, only to end up right on Bay View's doorstep. Performing now as Markowski's, Engen feels right at home to embrace the Milwaukee music scene.

His debut album "Añejo on Dogwood" out 5/27, showcases blues, folk, and americana songwriting infused into a light-hearted orchestration, with an inviting, clever voice that is highlighted on top. The second track, "Know-It-All", brings out a little Van Morrison vibe, while telling what feels like a life-long love story smushed into an elevator pitch. 

We are honored to premiere Markowski's debut album "Añejo on Dogwood". You can stream it below and check out our interview with Engen.



MM: How are you doing?

DE: I’m really into grilling right now. I worked at a Tiki-themed wine bar & cheese shop on the Gulf of Mexico, and my boss there, a former semi-pro ballplayer, showed me how to make raw ground beef balls for quick snacks throughout the day. He played a small role in the film Major League II, and is my closest link to Bob Uecker. So I’ve been eating a lot of raw meatballs.

MM: You're a Wisconsin-native, but you have moved your family from Sarasota to Berkeley, only to end up back in Milwaukee. What continued to draw you back home?

DE: We've lived everywhere that we wanted to live in the continental US (besides San Diego- and maybe Maine). As we impulsively jumped from place to place, we always said, Lord, why not just move back to Milwaukee? Really we love everything right here. Living in Florida, I remember going to an Oktoberfest and thinking “now this is what I love about Florida.” The housing scene in San Francisco is so wonky that my wife & I bought a book, “The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat,” but we nixed the idea when we realized how long it would take to get the boat back to Milwaukee. But really, when you are pining, when you are longing, it's hard to know exactly what for.

MM: Your music definitely showcases a hint of levity and comic relief, which is refreshing. And yet the sound seems timeless with the likes of Van Morrison or Randy Newman. Can you talk a little about how your sound comes together?

DE: I mean, once I overheard Paul McCartney talking to Oprah and he was saying… "The songs just come down from a cloud" and that's how I always felt. Is that a humble way of saying- 'it's not very hard for me to write a song'? The songs just show up. They do. But perhaps McCartney just meant that he downloaded the songs on his iPhone.

MM: With your debut album, Añejo on Dogwood, around the corner, how are you feeling? 

DE: Y'know for me, right now, its all about getting onstage and playing this stuff for people live. I recorded the demos in a garage while my kids were… what were my kids doing? When we got to Berkeley, I didn’t have a band, so I hired a great Bay Area drummer, Dawn Richardson, and I found this really fun horn trio called Red Beans and Rice. I asked them to come in after seeing a youtube video of them playing the Ghostbusters theme song. Now I want to see how these songs will adapt. I want to find other musicians to come in on this - folks to collaborate with. I have a tremendous drummer, Brian Farvour, who's joining in, and we'll piece the rest together. 

MM: As you continue to adapt back into Milwaukee and its music scene, what do you hope to accomplish?

Y'know, I've just missed making a crowd laugh. Performing in other cities, I've found that harder to do. People in Wisconsin, they do laugh. They're ready to have a good time. Y'know, you feel like an entertainer, rather than a curiosity. Or Wisconsin is laughing at curiosities. That may be it. 

MM: Something you want the world to know?

DE: I feel like Kevin Costner trapped in a Kevin Costner film.

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?

DE: Pizza Man- I've eaten pizza all over the damn place. Pizza Man is absurd. The crust is like an octopus cracker. Meatball - cream cheese- brussels sprout - mm-yep.




Almost two years ago, there was a flutter of punk rock building up inside of Gabriella Kartz. That flutter would soon morph into flight with the help of husband and guitarist, Jason Kartz, drummer, Paul Tyree, and bassist, Peter Hair; and on June 1st, 2014, Faux Fiction was born.  

The members of Faux Fiction have taken a very humble approach to their music career, and radiate gratitude to the opportunities they are bestowed upon (which is a rare thing to see in music). The Alternative/Post-punk band pushes and grabs for your attention with their raw first work, "Faux Fiction EP" which you can listen to below. The second track on the EP, "Between Heartbeats" projects a heartsick protagonist, warning of the woes of love and begging for understanding. 

Faux Fiction has just finished recording their first full-length album, and we are eagerly awaiting to hear the glossy, unwrapped product - it is sure to be a great addition to the blossoming MKE music scene. Read more about the band's past, present, and future below, as we chat with lead singer and co-founder, Gabriella Kartz.

MM: How are you doing?

FF: Life recently got a bit more interesting for me.  I found out a few weeks ago that my current employer will not be renewing my contract once it’s up at the end of June, which means I’m back on the job market.  I was bummed out about it for a little while, but it’s honestly a relief.  My current work environment isn’t really the best fit for me, so it was about time to move on anyway.  It’s exciting to think that I’m no longer tied down to one career path; the world is my oyster.


MM: What was the turning point that led to you and your husband actually putting a foot forward to culminate the beginnings of Faux Fiction? 

FF: Jason and I went to see Queens of the Stone Age at the Riverside Theater when they were here in early 2014.  They have been one of my favorite bands for a long time, but it was my first time seeing them live. It was amazing.  I had only been writing acoustic stuff up until that point, but after that show, I knew I needed to be writing heavier stuff.  Jason had also just finished writing a batch of songs with Lex Allen, and I knew he was itching to work on a project of his own.  I sold my acoustic guitar, bought a new Fender and an amp, and Faux Fiction was born.


MM: Who does the songwriting for Faux Fiction? Is it a collaborative effort between you and your husband or the other members in any way? 

FF: I think it’s fair to say that I’m the main songwriter of the group, but our music is absolutely a collaborative effort.  Jason writes some really amazing riffs (Lukewarm Snakes, Flows to Nowhere).  I think Jason and I tend to write together the most, but that's kind of a given since we're married and live in the same house.  It's a pretty organic process, and Jason gives great feedback when I have an idea for a song.  Peter is also an invaluable songwriter, and he’s a big help when it comes to fully executing some of the ideas I start but can’t figure out how to finish.  I definitely can't leave out Paul's contributions to our sound; he's a phenomenal drummer, and his creativity and intensity really gives each song the finished sound I hear in my head.  It's an honor to work with such fantastic musicians, and I'm lucky I also get to call them my friends. 

We do try to have live writing sessions, but there are plenty of times when I'll make a quick recording of an idea on my phone and send it out to everyone for feedback.  It's really useful for those spur of the moment ideas I have at home (and don't want to forget about).  We also record a ton of demos with simple home studio equipment and share them via email.  Ah, the joys of technology.


MM: Any events or happenings in your life that have sparked inspiration for some of your songs? Any good backstories about your songs you're willing to share?

FF: Jason had a cool riff he was working on, but I was having trouble writing the accompanying lyrics.  We were in the midst of a massive X-Files binge via Netflix, and we got to an episode called "Signs and Wonders".  The plot centers around Mulder and Scully's investigation of a southern church steeped in biblical literalism and snake handling.  At one point, the preacher is giving this animated sermon, and I decided to rework it into the lyrics for the song (ironically, of course).  "Lukewarm Snakes" is definitely one of my favorite songs.

Our newest song, “Good Things”, is one that is deeply personal for me.  Once you're married, most people tend to think the logical next step for you is to buy a house, settle down, and start a family..and they have no problem asking you about it.  I know they mean well, but it's not exactly a polite question to ask someone.  I feel it's a bit intrusive, actually.  Children are a beautiful thing, but they're not for everyone (and some women can't have them even if they wanted to).  Jason and I are definitely considering having a family someday, but for right now, we're just enjoying being together and experiencing all the great things life has to offer.  I don't feel like I'm missing out or that I'm living life unfulfilled, and the song is based on those feelings.  I wasn’t sure if the guys would like the song after I finished writing it, but they agreed we should move forward with it.  It's going on our next album, which we're finishing up within the next week.


MM: Faux Fiction is inching closer to a 2 year anniversary; can you reflect on what experiences have kept all of you pushing forward, and what do you hope to look forward to in the future? 

FF: Has it been two years already?  Time flies when you're having fun, I guess.  We've met so many amazing musicians over the past year and a half, and people genuinely seem to like what we're doing.  It's a great feeling to have someone come up to you after your show and tell you how much they like your music, especially when it comes from a fellow musician that you really respect.  I think getting picked up for some festivals this year is really encouraging us to move forward as well; playing in front of bigger crowds is really exhilarating.  We are also in the process of recording our first full-length album with Shane at Howl Street Recordings.  Not to sound presumptuous, but it's sounding pretty fantastic. 

MM: Something you want the world to know?

FF: If you have a song in your heart, write it down.  Don't worry about how it sounds, or whether other people will like it.  Do you.  Music is the truest form of personal expression, and it can heal many ailments of the soul.  Songwriting has gotten me through many personal struggles, but it also keeps me happy (and humble). 

Also, if you're out in Milwaukee and happen to catch a live performance of a local band, say hi after the show.  If you dig their music, tell them.  If they have merch, buy it, or ask about where you can listen to it online.  Find and follow them on social media and leave a nice comment or message.  Those little things mean the world.

MM: What is everyone in the band's favorite spot/place in MKE?

FF: That is a tough question!  I'm not originally from Milwaukee (I moved here in 2007), but I've really grown to love this city.  I really enjoy the Riverwest and Bay View neighborhoods, but I'd have to say my favorite spot might be the Anodyne in Walker's Point.  It's such a beautiful place, and I don't get there nearly as much as I'd like.  Rochambo on Brady Street is Paul's choice.  Peter chose Bremen Cafe in Riverwest, which is probably one of my top choices as well.  I love playing there.  Jason's favorite spot is the Estabrook Beer Garden, which I have to agree is pretty fantastic.  Beer is always a good choice.


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Musical inspiration knows no age, and perhaps the youngest of artists are the most inspired. Welcome MKE Hip-Hop and R&B artist, Hailey Simone. At only 16 years old, and a Junior in High School, she has already dedicated a large part of her heart to a musical career, and commanded a solid following online. Expect to see her continue her passion into great heights as she grows and develops her skills as a songwriter and producer.

In a span of only 4 months, Hailey Simone has released the "Visions" mix tape and two new singles, including "In The Air" which you can listen to below. At the 1:52 mark in "In The Air" we see a strong side of Simone that highlights her skill as an MC, showing excellent phrasing and emotion. Check out our interview with her below.

MM: How are you doing?

Things have been busy. I'm a junior in high school and I recently took the ACT. Now, I'm studying for AP exams that are coming up in May. I'm just trying to find a balance between my education and making music.

MM: Milwaukee's music climate is shifting favorably toward the hip/hop and electronic scenes. Has this trend inspired you or motivated you in anyway, as you continue to push your music in MKE?

I've always had a love for hip hop, and I embrace the direction that the local scene is heading. I feel like there's room in Milwaukee for an artist like me to find success.

MM: Can you speak a little about being only 16 and putting your foot forward towards a music career? Do you witness any drawbacks, or has the music community been supportive?

HS: Sometimes when people hear my music they reply, "Oh, that's cute!" However, I don't think they understand that I take my music very seriously. But, overall, I've gotten a lot of love and positive responses that continue to motivate and inspire me.

MM: The art of lyricism and songwriting don't develop easily, but you definitely radiate the feeling of passionate skill and that you will continue to speak your mind. Was there any specific thing that inspired you to walk towards that musical light? 

HS: My dad has an eclectic taste in music. Whenever he drives me somewhere, his playlist can go from A Tribe Called Quest to The Beatles, from Amy Winehouse to Nirvana, or from Prince to the Beastie Boys. The way these artists approach songwriting is so outstanding and incredible, and I strive to write at that same level.

MM: You've released two singles and a mixtape in 4 months, can we expect you to keep up that pace? Any new work on the horizon?

HS: With exams around the corner, I can't be specific as far as release dates go. Having said that, I do have a plan to take a few of my more popular releases, pair them with some new records, and package it as a mixtape which will highlight an upgrade in quality from previous projects.

MM: Something you want the world to know? 

HS: Lately, I've been contemplating the type of sound that I'd like my music to take. As I get older, I realize that my musical tastes are beginning to change and I'm branching out from just being "rap." Having many influences from diverse musical backgrounds, finding a signature sound is a challenge. I've been taking many risks and trying new things lately, and I don't want anyone to be alarmed. Like all art, my music is an expression of myself that develops along with me. I've been teaching myself how to produce so I can construct the abstract ideas in my head to something of audible substance.

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?

HS: In my downtime, I mainly go record shopping on the east side, or grab some lunch at Pizza Shuttle. I also enjoy walking on trails near the lakefront, as the relaxing and laid-back atmosphere helps me clear my mind.




The newest track from NAN contributor and Milwaukee's own Lorde Fredd33; "SOS" preaches wise words and hits your soul instantly. Heavy breaths sprinkle into the early seconds of the track and the rich vocal commands your attention and satisfies the anticipation perfectly. Listen for yourself below.

In our featured interview with Fredd33, we described him as particular and deliberate, and the Soundcloud description of "SOS" literally asks; "Is this the end of Lorde Fredd33?...". He also hinted at the next release in his repertoire, preparing us for "Dead Man's View" out 4.13.16. Only time will tell the future of Lorde Fredd33, but we will be eagerly awaiting the news.


Some might say it would be damn-near impossible to manage a career and a family, while attempting to play music for a living. Some might say your passions in life have to change toward a greater egalitarian position. But, some (most), haven't heard of Tyson Allison, a Milwaukee family man, day-job worker, and member of three (3!) bands, and founder of his own Emperor Penguin Records. 

Allison's personal style can be most readily compared to the likes of The EELS and Elliot Smith, showcasing overtones of bold darkness coupled with very subtle, soft beauty. He currently performs in the Minneapolis folk band, Swallows; the Milwaukee experimental band, Heavy Pedal Cello; as well as his own solo project that operates under his name. 

Tyson shows a unique drive, equated to any famous musician. He might as well be called the poster child for MUSE MKE, as he exemplifies how passion and inspiration in music and art exists no matter the situation. Although the majority of his time is spent working 9-5, he finds the will within himself to keep fighting - making music, putting himself out there, and not giving a shit what anyone thinks.  

You can catch Tyson Allison at Fixture Brewing Company in Waukesha, WI on Friday, Jan. 29th with The Alyce Hart Band and The Big Spoon.

Read below as we take an in-depth look into Tyson Allison's musical musings. 

MM: How are you doing?

I'm doing good, and enjoying this mild winter!  I'm letting my hair and beard grow, and enjoying the world of tea and flannel pajamas at night.  As for what I've been up to, most of the time I'm with my son, Eli, and my wife, Michelle.  There are endless projects to do around the house, and I'm trying my hand at cooking in a half-ass kinda way.  I work at a bookstore, and I just finished reading Kim Gordon's autobiography, "Girl in a Band."  I recently saw The Hateful 8 and Star Wars, and next up is The Revenant and The Big Short.  What's been on my mind lately is space travel, creation myths, and certain aspects of the human condition.  I feel like I'm always having to plan for something and there's not enough time in the day, but when we can manage it, a friend and I like to grab a beer and shoot some pool.  Oh, and more sleep would be nice!    


MM: You have been involved in many different bands and projects over the years, from Heavy Pedal Cello, to The Sleeper Pins, to Swallows, and your own solo career. Could you tell us a little about these groups and how you manage to consistently create in different musical environments?

The Sleeper Pins began as an acoustic duo in Minneapolis and eventually expanded to become a 5-piece band. I was the lead singer and songwriter while also playing rhythm guitar and occasionally other instruments. We put out two records and did some touring in the midwest. The songs were mostly kinda moody and somewhat sparse, but I liked that there was always space in the arrangements. As a listener, I think you had to give those songs a few spins and have patience with them; the lyrics, textures, and subtleties needed time to cozy up to you. It was kinda along the same lines as Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." After I moved away from MN we kept the band functioning off and on for awhile, but eventually I decided to pull the plug on it in order to pave the way for a fresh musical mindset in Milwaukee. 

Although it took awhile to start it up, I got the idea for Heavy Pedal Cello the first time I went to Aaron Kerr's house to hear him play cello. I saw that he had some effects pedals, which I wasn't expecting. He didn't use them that day, but I wondered what it would sound like if we hooked his cello up to all of my guitar effects pedals and just let it rip. A few years later, we found out! Heavy Pedal Cello is the perfect side project. It's just the 2 of us, and completely based on improvisation. Aaron plays electric cello through my effects pedals, and I twiddle knobs and manipulate his sound while also adding in some drums when I can.  Neither of us know what we are going to do, so there is never any need for rehearsals. When we perform, we communicate through eye contact, body language, and hand gestures. The rest is just us reacting to what is happening. No show is ever the same, and although we put out a record we will never play anything on it again. It's pure, in the moment instrumental, avant-garde experimentation and it's fun as hell! When we made our first record, "October" we booked a weekend at a studio, set everything up, got the levels, then just laid down 20 tracks. We kept the 10 that we liked the best, and that's what you hear on the album.

Swallows mixes elements of rock, blues, americana, and old-world folk into traditional music with somewhat non-traditional themes. We're a 6-piece band and Jeff Crandall is the lead singer/songwriter and we're based in St. Paul, MN. We've put out 2 records and an EP, and we're waist-deep into recording our 3rd full length, "In the Shadow of the Seven Stars". We've toured the midwest and received numerous reviews and radio plays across the U.S. I totally dig my role in this band as their "utility man." I'm a multi-instrumentalist, and in the course of a Swallows set you'll probably hear me play guitar, piano, melodica, percussion, sing back up harmonies, and maybe a little bass and xylophone as well. It just depends on the setlist.  Since I live in WI now, I can't make all the shows and practices, but I go up to MN about once a month to contribute and it works out. Luckily for me, several of the guys from The Sleeper Pins are also in Swallows, so even though The Pins are no longer active, I still get to make music with these great musicians who are also my close friends.

Once I got to WI, I started playing solo shows. I don't mind doing it, but I know I really prefer to collaborate with people, or have a band. It's taken me awhile, but recently I've met a few musicians that I like playing with and things are starting to happen. The slate is clean and it's a good feeling. The possibilities help keep me creative, and the sounds and talents that other musicians bring to the table are a constant stimulation.  Then there are the particular parameters of the projects I'm in--each project has a unique sound and requires different instrumentation from me, so I'm always handling fresh perspectives and challenges. It's never boring, never goes stale. The feeling I get from creating parts that work in a bigger picture, or bring something to life through sound that used to only existing in my head, is part of what I live for. To me, songs are like buildings, and I'm happy laying down the foundation of one or being the decorator of another one.  Like any type of artist, once one project is finished I can't wait to start another one.         


MM: You recently announced the official (state registered!) status of your independent record label, Emperor Penguin Records, but the idea has been around since 2003. Can you give the story of how EPR got started, and where do you see it going in the future?

In 2003 I was in my late 20s and living in Minneapolis. I had made a couple EPs with an old band and had sent out demos to established labels and either received no response or rejection letters. I was at a transition point. I was about to start a new band and I thought if no one else would help me then maybe I could help myself. I began reading books and researching the internet on how to start and run an indie record label. I wanted a venue to release my material and to also help out some other local bands I liked. The catalyst to getting it off the ground was my friend Amanda deciding to help me out by combining my label idea with a project she had to do at college. She designed the logo, made T-shirts, business cards, keychains, posters, etc. while I did all the necessary steps and legal paperwork to get a business license in MN. By the end of 2003, E.P.R. was up and running and we had released the first album by my new band, The Sleeper Pins. Between then and 2009, E.P.R. released more records by different artists and projects I was in, too, while the internet and technology made it easier and cheaper for indie labels to be operational. In 2009 I moved to Chicago and shut the label down, but I always paid the dues to keep the rights to the name and the web address, knowing I would start it up again sometime.  It took longer than I planned, but here we are in 2016 and E.P.R. is officially up and running again. I've got new projects, and I'm working with some other artists, too. I've never been able to quit my day job while doing this, but that would be my ultimate goal for myself and the label--to make enough money to support my family and have these various music projects be my full time gig; and to help my musician friends do the same. We'll definitely have some new releases coming out this year!


MM: Your music is dark and elegant, perhaps even subtly mystical and reminiscent of Lou Reed and a darker Devotchka. Did your overarching style come from any place in particular or is that just what comes naturally?

Both. I kinda think that because it comes from a particular place that that is what comes naturally. I think the place is my background, or life story, which shaped a disposition for me. Let me lay down on the psychiatrist couch here, haha. My Dad died when I was really young, and I was always afraid that something might happen to my Mom, too. I was a happy kid, but anxious, too, and always feeling some kind of fear or awareness of something missing. I grew up in the 70s, and my Mom was working hard to take care of us, so I spent a good chunk of time alone, which made me become pretty independent; and I often read books or entertained myself, which I think helped to build up my imagination and creativity. As I've gotten older I've moved around a lot, so I've had to in effect say goodbye to a lot of friends and some family members over the years, while simultaneously being the "new kid in town" wherever my new home was. This made me an outside observer of things, looking for details and ways to fit in to each new puzzle. I believe all this put together has made me gravitate toward the melancholy side of things, with a dash of sentimentality. I think there is room and a way to find comfort and a certain happiness in there.  I'm attracted to the works of other artists that have found that space and can express being there in evocative ways. There is a magic that can happen when the right words and music intertwine and imagery transforms into emotion--that's what I'm trying to capture. The bittersweetness of things. But I'm not all doom and gloom haha; I find ways to balance it out.     


MM: Any love story you'd be willing to share that perhaps inspired some of your songs?

 My wife's parents have a cottage on a lake up north that we like to go to and unwind a bit. One morning I got up while Michelle was still sleeping. I went outside and it was already hot and beautiful. I went back in, grabbed my guitar, and walked out onto the dock to sit on the bench at the end of the pier and strum some chords.The water was calm and lots of birds were flying around the birdhouses nailed to the trees. "Bird" is my nickname for Michelle, and I got an idea for a song for her. The first verse came quick, just writing about the morning and being together at the cottage. By the time Michelle got up and came outside I had the bones of the song done and I played some for her. She loved what I had so far and was happy I was writing a song for her. Later that evening we lit up a bonfire and sat together in the glow, and that became the basis for the second half of the song. I finished it a few days later and called it, "Bird Song." I've got more for her, too, but I'm keeping those a secret until the time is right!  


MM: Anything you want the world to know?

Listen to Baz Luhrmann's song, "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", and then read, "This is Water" by David Foster Wallace. That pretty much sums it up without getting too pretentious or preachy. 

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?

TA: I've only lived in Milwaukee for 4 years, so in some ways I feel like I'm still finding spots and things to do here! But right now my favorite spot and thing to do is to go for a walk around the large pond in Humboldt Park. It's a few blocks from our house, it's where my wife and I got married, and going there to hang out is a great way for me to clear my head. Sometimes I'm by myself, and sometimes Michelle and Eli come with me. Summertime is best; people are walking dogs, birds are chirping, and I like to bring a few slices of bread with to feed to the ducks and geese. There is a beer garden at the pavilion, and a taco truck across the street, so that's a bonus, haha. In winter the pond freezes over and I like to walk on the ice.  I would also say that I enjoy living by Lake Michigan as well. I like driving on the Hohn Bridge at night and seeing lights, buildings, and activity on the city side and the dark wall of nothing stretching out forever on the lake side. It's like we live on the event horizon of a black hole and we're all just hanging on.  That's pretty cool.



It's that time of year again... The holidays are nearing ever closer and our minds race to grasp on to a moment of cheer that we knew better when we were children. Although it might not come easily, I think most of us can find something to be happy and grateful for, even if it doesn't appear until the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. 

Our country and our world has faced a year of tribulations and as always in history, the holiday season fights against evil to bring us together as a human race. That reconciliation however, does not come without hard work and great thought. Luckily, we have Christina Scheppmann Thomas, who is doing her part to add to world peace by giving away her gorgeous illustrations. 365 of them to be exact.

Scheppmann's creations come from the umbrella of her company, Persika Illustrations, and you can check out the daily giveaway contests on the Persika Illustrations Facebook Page, or get more info from her website, www.ChristinaScheppmannThomas.com. You can also check out her prints for sale on Etsy, here.

Let her tell you more about the idea behind the 365 Day Art Giveaway, in our featured interview below.

MM: How did Persika Illustrations come about? And what is the meaning behind "Persika"?
 Well, I have always had a tough time keeping a sketchbook regularly, but I have seen how useful they can be. I just haven’t been able to keep myself accountable to sketching frequently. In 2013 I finished my degree in art and I knew I was going to have to figure out a way to consistently keep making art without the structure provided by being in school. I decided to create Persika Illustrations as a sort of project that I assigned to myself. The purpose is to develop a brand that establishes itself as a facet of my work as an artist. I have many plans in store for Persika; the 365 day project is my jumping off point.  Persika is Swedish for “Peach.” It has personal meaning connected to my heritage and an inside joke with my husband.

MM: What was the inspiration behind deciding to give everything away?
PI: I went back to UW-Milwaukee in 2014 to get my Master’s degree in Business Management and finished this past summer. The business mindset really impacted my way of thinking, even infiltrating my creative process. I began to look at my art as a business, which can be a good and a bad thing. Upon sitting down to make something, I would immediately try to judge whether it would be something somebody would want to buy. I needed to take a step back and regain the purity of the creative process. I wanted to let myself be free to experiment in my art making and test new ideas and concepts. I knew that I would never be able to keep myself accountable to draw in a sketchbook everyday and I also wanted to force myself to bring an idea to completion, rather than begin a sketch and give up on it if it wasn’t working. That is why I decided to do a 365 Original Art Giveaway on Facebook. My hope is that it will really engage the people who choose to follow and that it will help younger people be able to see the value in collecting original art, so that it doesn’t become a thing of the past.

 MM: Rather than you just choosing a person to give a drawing to, you are letting other people choose a person and letting them give it as a gift. That is an awesome way to involve the giving spirit to other people. Where did that idea come along?
PI: Well, giving is actually just in the rulebook for this month. October was my first month doing the giveaway and the rules were whoever commented on the post first would win. I became a bit tired of the rules and my reach wasn’t growing much, so I decided to change the rules at the beginning of each month. I thought the holidays would be the perfect time to give everyone else an opportunity to give. I’m not sure what the January rules will be yet. I’m open to suggestions!

MM: I understand how, as any type of creator of art, it can be very difficult to let go of your creations. Artists definitely need a certain level of courage before they let other people see their work. Was there a certain trigger that helped you let go of these drawings?
PI: Letting go of my original work has always been a huge struggle for me and I had to take somewhat drastic measures to get past it. What I am doing now is almost like exposure therapy! This project has required me to create work with the intention of giving it away almost immediately. Witnessing how eager people are to win and receive their art has definitely helped ease the pain of giving it away and letting go.

MM: What I love about this giveaway is that there isn’t necessarily a general theme to the drawings – they are all very different on their own. Can you describe your mental process as you create a new drawing?
PI: I went into this project with the desire to let myself be free to experiment. I used to be afraid of wasting my time when I sat down to make art. I didn’t want to invest the time and energy it took to create something if I didn’t know whether it would turn out well or look like “something I would make.” My mental process with my larger drawings or oil paintings is much more planned and calculated. These illustrations are quick so I am able to go into them without much forethought. If there is some idea I have been playing around with for a while, I’ll just go for it. I am learning a lot and trying to reflect on this whole process as much as I can.

MM: What do you hope to achieve with this giveaway?
PI: I hope to learn more and push myself further beyond the boundaries that I had unknowingly set up for myself in the past. I hope that I can have a firm grasp on not only my “brand” and what Persika stands for, but also who I am as an artist and the kind of work I want to put out into the world.

MM: Finally, is there anything you want the world to know?
PI: I don’t make art for you! Ha! But in truth, I felt it became necessary to separate my art making from the judgment of what others would like or not like; want to buy or not want to buy. I needed to do something that made me feel empowered! Taking back that freedom and the raw essence of what being creative meant for me meant taking money out of the equation for a little bit. I definitely still make things to sell, show in galleries, and do commissions, but this project is mine. I am choosing to share it with the world because I am sick of my art and my sketches being holed up in drawers and in folders under my bed and never knowing what to do with them. I am choosing to share it with the world because I need people to keep me accountable every single day. Making art truly requires diligence, blood, sweat and tears. Lastly, I am choosing to share my art with the world because I am happy when others derive joy from something that gives me so much joy.

Happy Holidays from MUSE MKE.

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Skateboarding isn't just appealing because of the cool clothes, the tricks, or the presumed adrenaline
(I cannot skateboard); but because of the culture and the community that it builds. One thing I have always noticed are the tight knit relationships that come out of skating, and with a trust that is founded on creativity, it is much easier to express yourself to those around you. 

Certainly there are pre-assumed, grand media-driven notions that skateboarding and the "skate-kids" are rebels, a hazard to "good" neighborhoods or communities, and just lost adolescence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Look at the skatepark that recently opened on 84th & National Avenue in West Allis; you would be hard pressed to find a greater melting pot in this entire state. Any time of the day, be it hot or cold, that skatepark holds a collection of boys and girls, old and young, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, and everything in between. Now certainly we can't assume that such a gorgeous example of people coming together is anything but good for a community can we? (No, we can't).

Such a diverse gathering will necessarily contain mountains of creativity, and one of those awesome creators is Pat Murphy. A sketch artist raised on skateboards, Murphy instills a mentality formulated by the simplistic, aesthetic, and nirvana-like lifestyle of the skateboarding scene. At first glance some of these drawings speak for themselves, but some reach beyond what is clearly in front of your eyes. Many of these works come across as flawless expressions of the developed human mind; people regretting how they have lived out their days and longing for a life they love. Despite what these pictures may mean to any individual, it is clear to see they are simply bad ass. 

Read our interview with Pat Murphy below and follow his Instagram for more of his creations.

MM: How are you doing?
I'm doing well, I just started a new job so I'm just working a ton, trying to save up some cash and get a sick spot to live.

MM: What influences you to make your own reinterpretations of brand name objects and create an almost, mantra-like association with the images that you create?
To be honest the whole beer cans and other stuff for heads all started because I'm really bad at drawing foreheads, or just the tops of heads in general. I'd always put hats on whatever I was drawing to avoid it, then one day I tossed a beer can up there and it was way easier. It's just kind of evolved into all kinds of other stuff based on friend's interests. A friend would be super into a certain beer/animal and I'd just draw that for them. It's nice cause theres so many different beers and animals out there so there's a ton of options. I can keep mixing it up to an extent without straying too far from what I really like to draw, which are faces.

MM: Many of your drawings feature middle-aged or elderly men. What is the motive behind that?
 I've always just really liked drawing wrinkles on people's faces ever since i was little. It's just an easier way to draw faces; it kind of helps me break them up and it's just more fun to draw. I'd rather draw some old guy with insane bags under his eyes than draw a younger healthier looking person, if that makes any sense?

MM: What role has skateboarding had in your life and how has it carried over into your artwork?
Skateboarding has been the most influential thing in my life. I'm the person I am today because of skateboarding and the people it's lead me to. I can probably trace anything I do back to something I learned from skateboarding. It's great because there are so many people that skate/have skated so it's been a cool way to meet people and you can kind of build relationships off that alone. Almost all of my favorite artists are in some way associated with it, and there are so many different skateboard brands with different art directions, so there's all kinds of different artists you can get into. One of my favorites is this guy Ben Horton and he does almost all of the graphics for this board company called $LAVE. I'd probably never found out about him if it wasn't for my love for skateboarding. The only gallery show I've ever had was all because of Aaron Polansky at Sky High skate shop, who used to run a gallery out of the back of the shop and was kind enough to let me show my art there, which I'll always be grateful for! Making the boards was just one time for a friend and it seriously took me like 3 years to actually do it, if someone wanted to get one though, I'd be down for sure! Skateboarding has just lead me to meet all kinds of different people who inspire me and my "work", which is rad. I'll forever be grateful to skateboarding and all the things I've learned and continue to learn from it and the people who do it.

MM: Any story you want to tell about your artwork?
One time I drew this Virgin Mary and she was holding a can of Coors instead of a heart or whatever usually goes there and it was out on the kitchen table at my parents house and my mom turned it over when her friends came over cause she didn't wanna bum anyone out.

MM: Something you want the world to know?
People need to take more time to support the people that support them. Take the time to appreciate the people doing cool/good things for your area!

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?
 I just like hanging out with my buds and skating and camping or whatever. Favorite Milwaukee spot is Sky High skate shop in Bay View, the owner Aaron is always doing great things for others!

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Millennials. You can't live with them (unless you are one) and you can't live without them. At least, that is what the general media implies with constant and unnecessary articles about the generation being lazy, not following Jesus enough, and not being appreciative of the world around them. What's great about all of those accusations is that you can say it about any generation. The fact that Millennials get to be the scapegoat, makes it even better to prove that those making the accusations in the first place, are too complacent to realize this train of thought is nothing new. 

Each generation will always have something peachy to say about the succeeding generation, and therefore this is a war that cannot be won. We can however, have fun with it. The best weapon is sweet, sweet, ironic satire (because the accusers will probably not understand it). Thankfully, Milwaukee has Victoria Wallace, the hero Millennials' deserve. With what some might call perfect expression, Wallace has captured the aforementioned irony with outstanding drawings that can be described as "modern day memes". 

Peep our interview with Victoria Wallace below, and be sure to check out her website and Instagram for more gorgeous creations.

MM: How are you doing and what have you been up to?

I’ve been really well! I work just about full time as a supervisor at Starbucks, which is weird, because I was worried that kind of schedule would get in the way of a creative process. It’s actually helped a lot because the time that I do have off has become way more precious and is almost exclusively devoted to working on drawings. I’ve also been eating a lot more Sour Patch Kids, but drinking more tea, so I think it balances out.

MM: You're a fairly recent graduate of UW-Milwaukee's Peck School of The Arts. So far, would you say that your technique, style, and content have changed in your time outside of the classroom? Is there anything that you miss about being in school? What has been your greatest challenge since graduating?

Looking back, I had a strange dynamic with academia. The style I’ve cultivated over the years came from side projects I worked on in my sketchbook when I was frustrated or procrastinating on an assignment. At the end of it all, I’m not sure if I could peg my technique to anything I necessarily learned in a class, but I also don’t think I would’ve become the artist I am today without my four years in that environment. I can also credit that to those I shared studio time and spaces with. Yea, we were all scheduled to share time together, but it inevitably became more than that. Being surrounded by creative souls and having sounding boards for ideas and insights was priceless, and easily is the number one thing I miss about art school.

MM: From the viewer's perspective, one may describe your illustrations as a uniquely clever combination of witty, playful, seductive, and downright beautifully strange. What is your process for developing your ideas? What inspires you in these pieces? 

Thank you! I think they’re the most honest representation of how my brain works. I have running lists I keep in my phone and sketchbook that could easily get me institutionalized if anyone else got their hands on them. The oldest one dates to 2011, and the most recent one was written in October. It literally just says “butt wallpaper” without any further explanation. I honestly can’t remember what I meant when I wrote it, but it will probably become a drawing within the next 6 weeks or 6 months.

I had a friend once call my drawings a play on the modern “meme” which is probably the most appropriate description to date. I’m comfortable with satirically poking fun at our generation and usually use personal experience as examples, and from there my collection of one liners enter into play. They’ve come from my memories, song lyrics, strangers, people I love, people I don’t love anymore, and so on. Eventually, when it feels right, those phrases get paired with a drawing. The two separate entities of text and image inform one another and become the obsessively-drawn cousin to the “meme.”

MM: You're a big supporter of Milwaukee's art scene. Has the culture of the city had effect on your work? How has it affected you as a creative individual?

VW: Milwaukee’s art scene is one of the most open, welcoming, and supportive cultures I’ve experienced and I feel extremely lucky to be a part of it. We’re a scrappy bunch, but it’s full of love and opportunity. Our DIY nature invites anyone to join and motivates artists such as myself to constantly create and share, even if it’s just a drawing of a babe’s legs trapped inside a hot dog. Music and art even blend together in the most seamless way-- posters for shows become works of art, the shows become spaces to showcase artists, and then there are gallery spaces that become venues. It’s a friggin’ magical place.

MM: Where are you hoping to take your work next? Any new projects happening in the near future?

VW: I’ve recently started selling prints of my work and that path will keep expanding. The Internet is also a rad place that puts you into contact with creatives you wouldn’t normally meet on the street. I have a Skype meeting this week for a potential collaboration. What do you even wear to a Skype meeting? I haven’t totally figured it all out yet, but everything has been really falling into place and I couldn’t be more jazzed.

MM: Do you currently have a piece that you've made that is of particular importance to you, and why?

VW: My “Jesus drank wine, I’ll be fine” drawing is one of the only ones I could never sell. It’s definitely meant to be funny while also delivering a big ol’ middle finger. I know it’s kind of ridiculous to sum yourself up based on some ink on a piece of paper, but in a weird way I see it as the most accurate representation of me as a human.

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in Milwaukee?

VW: I’ve been spending more time in the Fifth Ward/Walkers Point area. I have a bad habit of getting bored easily, so I like to frolic. There’s never a real destination but it keeps you busy. It usually breaks down to the formula of getting a mocha at whichever coffee shop I see first, bantering to the barista about the weather or my inability to keep succulents alive, setting up a spot to draw, and playing the same album on repeat for hours.


Tattoos are no longer taboo, and that's good news for tattoo artists. However, as demand for ink increases, the competition will eventually level out. Soon tattoo shops will have to be much more than just another chic storefront where you can get a heart with "Mom" in the middle. That's why MANIA INK, located at 1810 Doctor M.L.K. Drive in Milwaukee, caught my attention. Owner and tattoo artist, Jesse Engelbrecht operates MANIA as an art gallery as well. 

Most tattoos are thought out by the individual getting it (hopefully), but that doesn't mean there won't be a steady dose of patrons getting an impulsive, everlasting memory forged upon their lower back. I think we'd all appreciate the former to be more prevalent, and MANIA INK's gallery helps the patron to appreciate that intricate work and patience that comes with each design.

With a clean, safe, and purely artistic space, MANIA INK provides an excellent atmosphere to get a tattoo, whether it's your first or fiftieth. You can also count on a solid playlist while you're there, with music ranging from The Vince Guaraldi Trio to Earl Sweatshirt. That fact alone should be enough to bring you in. Check out our featured interview with Jesse E. and be sure to also look through our pictures of the shop.

Check out some shots of MANIA's gallery & tattoo parlor below.

MM: How are you doing?
MI: Things are great, life is beautiful.  My family is numero uno, my artwork is number 2. Between the family and the studio I don't really get out too much. I have to try very hard to keep a level perspective, so rest is important as well, though, I am not a fan of sleep. One of my favorite things to do is work all day, through the night, and as the sun rises, take a nap, and do it again. However, that can get you into a rather intense state of mania, so....  self explanatory on why I decided to name my work, my studio that in 2009. 

MM: What was the meaning behind your first tattoo? And what made you decide to be a tattoo artist? 
MI: I was in New York, Brooklyn to be exact, Williamsburgh to be more exact...  I had two, count 'em, two art shows at once so I decided to ball it out with my wife Jean Marie and son Simon. At the time, I had figured out how to convert these old tapes of my punk rock band, the Deadbeats, to digital.  In true mania style, I made about 300 remixes and various versions of each song, and right before it took a turn for disco, I stopped. At any rate, I was listening to the songs non stop, literally, for about 6 months, only to have been beaten recently by Wiz Khalifa mixtapes reigning in at 9 months straight.  After a family intervention, I have had to lay off the Wiz, at least, around them. While I was lost in improvisational punk rock guitar playing for about 7 years, various drawings would bust out of nowhere. My first tattoo was one of them. It was sort of, but never officially, our band dog logo, the slushy dog smoking a blunt and drinking some sort of toxic slush. When I got the tattoo, I decided to leave the blunt off, only cuz I work with kids, and also didn't want to have to answer for it or explain anything to anybody, and ultimately, a few sentences later, it was no big deal to leave it off of there. I love my first tattoo and fell in love with tattooing right then. I decided to become a tattoo artist because I did not know what the hell else to do.  I chose it and I'm sticking with it.  Its a very intense challenge, but well worth it. Also, inside my heart I desired for my artwork to have an intensely personal meaning for others. I also crave societal interaction, even on a small scale, and tattooing has offered freindships and collectors of my art, that they will where on there skin!  hahaha....  never stops being craziness.

MM: Let’s talk about the art behind tattoos… Most people without tattoos just see them as a permanent mark on a body; obviously tattoos tend to mean a great deal more to the person getting them. How does the art of tattoos influence you to bridge a connection to the canvas where you bring together both art and meaning?
MI: Its actually a lot of fun, but also a great challenge in patience, courage, and concentration.  Sometimes, solving the problem takes forever, sometimes it takes much less... gotta catch a groove, cant force it. I must focus and improvise. I cant be afraid of the outcome. The creation of a custom tattoo, or the tattoo flash I do, is a very artistically physical process. There is a ton of drawing, layering, refining, composition, contrast, and positive and negative space or skin... I truly love making a custom design for people that blows there mind. Pretty much all I want to do is make a nice tattoo that has all the elements and meaning, will heal and age well, and will be artistically satisfying and noticeable from across the room.  Clear and distinct.

MM: Your space, Mania Ink is really more than just another tattoo parlor… Where did the idea come to portray it as a gallery as well?
MI: I just have so many drawings that it made sense.  Also, I have done art shows and had large studios for many years, so really, its just natural.  I need that wall space as part of any studio, which is the second reason why I chose this location.  First reason is that the wonderful person that offered it to me for a fair price had "Mania" in her last name....  I could not argue with that, so, it was really pretty logical.  Its funny, at the time, I was telling a few people, I should do this in Riverwest...they all said no, wouldn't work, bad idea.  Since then, there has been 3 tattoo shop openings in the exact area I was thinking....right by my house.  However, that would be boring.  Instead, now I get to work on a street honoring a genius, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the statue is right by my studio, which I love.

MM: In today’s world, tattoos have become much more acceptable as a norm and so there has been a great influx in tattoo shops. How do you plan to continue to grow?
MI: I'm not really trying to grow in the sense of building a tattoo empire.  I am very content to offer what I do, and where I do, and hopefully I can continue to carve out a nice clientele.  I do need to continue to generate more funds as always, but the grind never stops, and for me, college degree or not, to quote Joe King, "its either punk rock or welcome to Burger King Ma'am, may I take your order."  Its really true though, the artists that I love and respect do what they do regardless of fame and fortune, and its all or nothing.  This really is all I have, because its everything I have to offer rolled up into one nicely rolled.... uh...  art piece.

MM: Any crazy tattoo stories you’d be willing to share?
MI: Winter, 2015, February 24th... I had a very busy week, and it was the week of my birthday.  The day before my birthday, I was drawing all day and pull one of those before mentioned mania style sessions....hadn't eaten a thing for about 12 hours, at least.  Sun comes up, Jesse goes to bed.... for five minutes!  I get back up. It's a big day, and actually, there is no longer time for sleep.  Back to the studio!  Early, prepared, check. Gonna clean up around here and get this old nasty microwave out of my life!  So I was carrying it out, and I noticed this haunting patch of thick ice on the hill in the alley... no problemo, I will be careful right?. Carried the microwave across the ice very carefully, set it down and said, God Daaaamn that is some slippery looking ice.  Took one step and......hit the concrete exceptionally ungracefully. As I lay on the ice, freezing and in great pain, I screamed out many unpleasant sounding things.  After a few minutes, I was able to roll over and stumble back to the studio. I had a tattoo to do in a few hours that was about 400 words, if not more, on this guys ribs.  Wait, whats that noise, somebody knocking on my door?  A tattoo.... oh man, I am in a lot of pain.... but, yes! I need them duckets! Tattooed for the next 8 hours straight... Turns out my wrist and elbow were fractured at the very least, damn near broke my hip, whiplash or something in my neck...so much pain and huge bruises! It sucked really bad. Changed my life. However, turns out you don't really move your elbow and wrist when you are tattooing, but my own art making slowed to a crawl, and when that happens to an artist it is always very difficult to get back in there and catch the groove, but you gotta.

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?
MI: The record stores, and I am talking vinyl. Hanging down by the river in Riverwest is awesome.  Mainly I enjoy chilling in my spaceship. 


"Fuck, I'm in love." That right there is a very specific feeling to have about love. It's one that holds extreme excitement for what may come, but stands coupled with a feeling of: "This could end so poorly that I may have to try to actually avoid a person for the rest of my life." It's a feeling that is conveyed by a song of the same title on The Celebrated Workingman's 2014 album, "Don't Let Your Memories Kill You". The song starts off with the line "If winning your heart means to tear mine apart, then I'm winning your heart." Yep, that about sums it up.

The man behind those delectable lyrics and titles is Mark Waldoch. The lead singer of The Celebrated Workingman performs with a very large voice that implores you to listen, and it is refined enough to hear every emotion passing through it. At Boone & Crockett's Gypsy Taco benefit show last August, Mark started off his solo set with a subtle, yet commanding version of the romantic standard, "La Vie En Rose"; and for a person to introduce themselves to an audience like that, takes a different kind of courage and confidence. Doing that takes the listener by the hand and let's them know that this performance is going to be more than just a few songs, it's going to be an experience to lock and hold in your mind.

Mark is one of those singers and songwriters to remember. He is humble and very intentional, and what blooms from that combination is a clear soundscape of love, humor, and practicality (a.k.a. life). Read our interview with Waldoch below.

MM: How are You Doing?
MW:  I know this is about music, but it's also consumed all of my free time as of late.  I just finished my part in an Alverno Presents concert. A night of music by an American songwriter curated by local talent of high caliber. This one explored new renditions of Prince's music. I met so many great people and musicians from the Milwaukee and nearby areas I didn't personally know before. I want to make all the music with them.  I performed alongside a string quartet named Tontine Ensemble led by musician/composer-arranger/ and outstanding human, Barry Clark, who is also part of Milwaukee's own Field Report. 

MM: You're a lyrics man. You appreciate the story and imagery behind words. How did that come to be more relevant to you in your own musical creations?
MW:  I don't know if it "became" more relevant so to speak. It's always been important from day one. I often find most music superficial and vapid without decent lyrics. Music that one chooses to include lyrics with, that is.

MM: In a related field to lyrics... You recently did someone's nuptials for them... Can you tell us what was going through your head?
In one word, terrifying. On one hand it's really an honor to be asked by anyone to do this for them, much less your best friend. Unfortunately it is also impossible to know if you're saying the right thing without sounding tacky, common, or religious, but I suppose that is why they picked moi. When I started, all I did was search through comedians musings on marriage. Which turned out to be mostly about divorce, so I couldn't use any of it, but it was definitely entertaining research.

MM: There is a wonderful sense of humor and sometimes irony in your lyrics - what can you say about the importance of those things in your writing?
I think that's just what comes out. It's what I've put into my brain for years so it's only right and natural. I'm not sure if there is any intended importance , it's just something that happens I suppose. I enjoy that in others writing, I'm glad you feel that it's in mine.

MM: Would you be willing to share a story about love (happy or sad) that had impacted you enough to write about it?
Well here's a story I have told maybe three times tops. Once I was very much in love.  Quite literally, a single day hadn't gone by without seeing each other in our first year. She had a long-time-in-the-planning 2 week family vacation to Europe, but I could not afford to go along. We actually had some strange form of separation anxiety. I remember balling at a BP gas station near Antioch after dropping her off at her arrogantly-vain, superficial dad's. After that I immediately drove to my practice space. I wrote and recorded a song for her on my Tascam 4- track bounced it to my CDR burning stereo component. Yes that was a thing. She was really quite sweet to me. Before she left on the trip, she made me a little care package. An ornate & elaborate box (I still have over 10 years later) with gifts and notes for each day she was gone and detailed explanations of exactly what she'd be doing each day. I was instructed not to read ahead. Well I did anyway of course. I skipped ahead to the day right before she would be returning. Found out she'd be checking into a hotel in Paris and I overnight fed-ex'd my song to her so when she arrived at the hotel it would be waiting there for her. 2 years later we'd get engaged in London on the Westminster bridge.

MM: Anything upcoming that you are especially excited about?
I quite love Christmas songs and I've got a show in December with the group Testa Rosa - longtime friends and old band mates. And Nate, the guitarist from Celebrated Workingman is getting married on January 2nd, that's pretty dope.

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?
I'm not saying this because I work there twice a week, but I really do love the cocktail bar, Boone & Crockett. Everybody I work for and work with there really puts in the time and effort to make that place special. I feel pretty lucky to be there and they let me go and pretend to be a fucking musician all the time, and I still have a job, so that's pretty cool.


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Milwaukee is beginning to show its light to the rest of the world. Now, the world isn’t really seeing it quite yet, but the city is performing with passion nonetheless. It is clear to see that the talent harnessing all of Milwaukee’s music energy is a group of young, hyperactive, vision & mission oriented musicians that call themselves NAN, or New Age Narcissism.

In a beer & shot town like Milwaukee it was probably never in the foreseeable stars to be led musically by hip/hop & electronic music. Obviously that is what the 21st century Millennial’s want most, but still it is hard to believe that MKE would be so receptive. Be that as it may, it is goddamn exciting to at least see some energy and passion really shine through this 5-month long winter city.          

I wanted to start MUSE MKE off with a music feature of one of these youthful, good-time-seeking stars and get some insight into perhaps why they are so different from the music acts before them. Cue Cameron Henderson, a.k.a. Lorde Fredd33.

Lorde Fredd33 has had numerous EPs & singles out over the last few years, with his most notable release as a full mixtape “33: The Education”, which dropped last March and featured production from Q the Sun, Khiri, and Sani. There is a darkness that comes naturally with Fredd33’s vocals – a relentless image that takes you directly to his mind. With a sound that is reminiscent of Freddie Gibbs, Henderson definitely has the appeal to reach further and further into the masses.


MM: How are you doing?

LF33: Life is trying… but generous in a lot of ways, mostly through adversity. I’ve been living, working with kids, being a father, going through emotions like everyone else. Creating a lot.

MM: You always have a great positivity in your social media presence. In a modern digital world, filled with people masking who they are and playing up image rather than craft, what makes you stand away from the norm?

LF33: I focus on my personal development first. My craft helps me understand myself; therefore, the way I live openly reflects the positive revelations brought out through my art.

MM: Could you tell us a little backstory of NAN, and the influence that it has had on your personal musical developments?

LF33: It’s a band of misfits who refuse to settle on mediocrity and redundancy. They challenge me to be a better person, music and all.

MM: Strip back the fans, the albums, and the social media… Look at a live show. You bring it every time. The passion is there and the energy is persistent… Is there a certain thought/ritual in your head that keeps you motivated and inspired to play like you do?

LF33: Thanks. I mostly see my son reaping the benefits of my hard work… And the “big show”… Thousands of people going ape over that Lorde Fred33. Really understanding the power of haters too; those rappers aren’t lying about how much potential gas one hater can add to your fire. So keep hatin’, with ya lame ass, haha.

MM: What is your favorite thing that you have created (so far), and why is it important to you?

LF33: This diaper song I made for Azzie, my son. He dug it. Probably gonna end up on the next project.

MM: Any new projects coming up that you are really excited about? Any new epiphanies that have led you to new heights creatively?

LF33: Yep. Just knowing where I’m headed with this whole thing really makes my progress unchartable and limitless. New single called “DAN” on the way too (Prod. Q The Sun).

MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?

LF33: My house with the sonny and the honey in a cool bath. Or plotting/mobbing with the squad.

Fredd33 kept it short and sweet and I think that really reflects his creative persona. He is a major contributor to NAN but seemingly one of the most hidden. I see a man who is careful and patient and deliberate. I see a man who has been changed by his son, and is working to give him the world. That alone is courageous enough for any person. Lorde Fredd33’s time is near, and watch out when it comes.

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