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Chinese Post-punk Frontman went to Elementary School with Kanye.

 

A fact you may not know about the Yeezy rapper Kanye West is that he spent his fifth grade in Nanjing, China at the age of 10 while his mother, Donna, was teaching an exchange program in Nanjing University in 1987.

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What’s cooler about his short stay in China? Hua Dong, the frontman of the post punk pioneer band Rebuilding the Rights of Statues, AKA Re-TROS has some shared memory with Kanye.

As a Nanjing native, Dong went to the foreign language elementary school where he found himself get along more with international students when he was young.

Years later, during an interview with a magazine, Dong told the story about ‘a black buddy,’ who transferred to Dong’s school and they really hit it off.

Dong pointed at the cover of INMUSIC. 

” That was my friend I went to school with!”

It’s Kanye West. He may never expect that his childhood friend in a different country, is now hitting the music industry with his influential post punk band, and touring all over the world just as his American rapper fella.

Well, they must have discussed some music business when they come over to each other’s house in 30 years ago.

Listen to Re-TROS on Spotify.

 

Cover image via Facebook page.

Facing the Location Change, the Community Showed Supports To Local Record Store.

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Heather’s husband William Frarey is moving the record rack out of store. Image Sherry Min Wang

On Mar.28, a Facebook announcement posted by Heather Frarey, the owner of a local record shop in downtown East Lansing, MI got more attentions than normal among the community.

“We were informed today that the owners of this space need this space, as we were on a month to month lease,” wrote Heather, she was shocked by the sudden notice.

She explained that the owner of the current address gave her a short notice to relocate her shop in 2 days since the rent type is month-to-month which she had nothing to argue.

The place owner, managed by Corn management clarified the reason to the State News in the story published by the State News on Mar 29, which is related to rent payment issue.

But there is something that the State News story didn’t tell, or update, ” I paid my rent last week for this month but there was a $1000 court fee I did not see, and that was it. The court officer came on Tuesday afternoon around 2 pm and said I had until the next day to move, he then called Crons lawyer and gave me an extra half day to get an entire record shop moved. ” Heather posted on Mar.30 morning.

Yet she ordered some limited releases for the upcoming Record Store Day in 3 weeks, “I am not quite sure how we will work that out, as we made our order and everything already. Bear with us until we can get things in perspective,” she added on the post, still worrying about the big musical event for customers.

Not to mention that The Record Lounge is the only music venue in East Lansing area, while there are two shows booked in Record Store Day weekend, featuring an EP release show by a local artist.

“We have been a good tenant that never delays rent,” says Brian Beckwith, one of the employees. He said it was an unexpected change.

A few hours late after the post causing a discussion over Facebook among those people who are heather’s friends, customers and generally, music lovers in the community. A fundraiser launched by Ted Wilson, a fellow record store owner of Replay Entertainment Exchange, in the purpose of saving The Record Lounge has gained hundreds of shares.

In the description of this campaign, he stated “As someone who had to make the painful decision to move our business out of East Lansing, I can liken it to watching your firstborn go through a traumatic experience, and the feeling of desperation and not knowing if it will survive is unlike any pain I’ve ever felt.”

To help Heather go through the transition, he set the goal as 10k and explained “Anything you can spare. $5, $10 or $20. It all adds up.” In the GoFundme page, he listed other actions for customers who want to support her in this circumstances. Such like to call the owner and buying store T-shirts online.

By 9 pm Mar. 29, one day after the traumatic change, the fundraiser has raised $825, and it’s still been shared and raising.

After the statues being shared, many people practically helped Heather, and her shop looks for a new location.

Fortunately, there is a space available in REO Town area in 1132 s. Washington St that fits The Record Lounge and store supporters are quickly getting to move the store out.

As Frarey updated on Facebook in the morning of Wednesday, a night after the announcement, “Thanks to all that made that happen. Zack offered up the old All of the Above space, so we will let you know when we open (hoping for this weekend).” She also called for help loading up when she moves out.

Nicole Geller was one of those helpers who arrived store at noon. They said they were heartbroken initially when they heard that news. “But optimistically knowing that there’s a lot of support for the Record Lounge and Heather,” said them. They play in a local band Tidal, who has been in rapport with Heather Frarey.

The first-round large boxes’ moving went smoothly with people’s friendly hands from 111 Division street to the new place where around eight other supporters waited there to help with unloading.

“By the time we had everything unloaded into the Reo Town location, we were all just chatting, and Heather had this big smile on her face,” said Geller, happily seeing Frarey’s good mood.

Geller also agreed that the new location would be a new direction for The Record Lounge to step forward.

In the second round moving, Samuel Sprague, co-founder of a local record label Tape Hiss Music, has expressed his hope on the new location.

“We will continue to play shows at her store and most importantly, to buy records wherever the store moves to,” said Sprague.

There are endless supports by local musicians and artists. “The Record Lounge must remain,” wrote by another founder of this label, Josh Starks along with his donation. Apparently, this music shop has fostered a home for them in East Lansing.

While the new location for Frarey’s shop has been settled down in 12 hours shortly, and the entire business is going to a brand new direction under the supports and loves of the community, The Record Lounge is blessed.

“Thanks, everyone, this community is beyond great.”

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The Record Lounge is almost empty. Image Min Wang

Luxury Flux: “We are band-ly family.” ( bonus interview with Jim Diamond)

In September 2016, there was a fundraiser show at the Avenue café called “Grrrl just wanna have fun,” featuring several bands that consist of at least one female member. Luxury Flux was in the lineup, featuring Lindsey on the vocal and guitar. That was my first time seeing their show, she reminded me of Nico from The Velvet Underground or a delicate version of Debbie from Blondie.

Although every now and then, it’s hard for people to get over how a female band member is able to be phenomenal on guitar. That is one of Luxury Flux expressions.  Their joyful melody, agile lilting refrain, and unexpected tempo changes encourage audience trap into a dimly lo-fi undercurrent. Lindsey’s voice is deep, husky that harmoniously melted with drummer Stephen’s solid backup vocal.  A feeling of Emptiness through their music always draw the attention unwittingly of the entire venue.

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Unofficial released CD in 2015.

Four months later, I am sitting in Sam’s house couch, he handed me a paper-warped CD. It is an early recording CD of Luxury Flux, when their name was still Samara. The fuzzy phone recording songs fill my ears, along with my inspired mind to go deeper with this band.

 

 

 

Interviewer(M): Sherry Min Wang

Lindsey (L): Vocal &guitarist.

Sam(SM): Bassist.

Stephen(S): Drummer, backup vocal.

 How long have you known each other? How did you meet?

S: I have known Lindsey for more than 5 years.

L: We found each other in Last.Fm, the music website. Our iTunes ID all showed up, we saw we were all from Michigan and we have a high compatibility on that site. Me and Stephen didn’t know anybody and Sam already has a history that he has played in bands actively in Lansing. We added him in the Lansing music scene Facebook group. I actually posted my LastFm scribblers for meeting new people which Sam liked it a lot!

SM: It was good music.

S: Last.Fm technically brought us together. It was a big deal 5 years ago.

M: What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?

SM: The wire, it is a big one, Television. We are definitely alternative rock.

S:  The cure. Art punk and garage punk, or art pop.

L: The talking heads.

Who write your songs? Could you briefly describe the music-making process?

L: We all write together. We all write our own parts and mash them together. Sometimes one person has one idea then everybody lays down the idea. We all collaborate on lyrics.

 I have never listened to the lyric clearly before at your shows is  lo-fi vibe, until the album version.

S: Now it’s Hi-Fi.

You started the band name as Sumarah, how come it changed it to Luxury Flux?

SM: Originally it was Non-Vibrant Colors

S: That was the first show we ever played, then we changed it to Samara then Sumarah, then Luxury Flux. People can finally say it right because we’ve never decide how to pronounce sumarah. We had a mixed feeling on it.

L: We just needed a name that is catchier and people can pronounce. It’s been 8 months we have been playing as Luxury Flux. They just sound good together. I got the word luxury from a song, Sunny Afternoon by the Kinks.

You guys are most likely playing around Michigan, have you planned any big tour?

L&S: We want to and we’d like to in the future.

Which one show is the most impressive one and why?

SM: The Misfits one! We opened for The Misfits.  It probably the biggest venue we ever played for.

S: It was a crazy one. We were in a band just 5 months, and we jumped into that. We all dressed up. It was Oct 17th, 2015.

L: It was a big stage, like 20 feet tall.

S: Also a DIY show we played at Marlette, it was in the middle of nowhere, like an Amish country. We played at 2 am in someone’s backyard. It was weird. They loved us!

Which venue you would say the best?

All: The Old Miami in Detroit, and we all like Mac’s bar and the Avenue Cafe in Lansing.

SM: The best show is coming up in May at Mac’s bar we are opening up for the Local H. It’s probably the best show once it happens.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetLuxury Flux played at Mac’s Bar, Lansing, MI. Image: Min Wang

Talk about you the just past album recording experience, anything fun you wanna share?

L: It was a lot of fun!  We recorded with Jim Diamond at Templemill Studio. He is really good at his job. He made our first album recording experience seamless, considering we recorded it in two days. We recorded right before Christmas 2016, Christmas miracle

S: 9 tracks in 2 days, productively. That’s our Christmas present.

Why self-titled? Seems like most of influential bands have done that for their earlier career decisions.

L: I guess we are on the fastest track to success.

When is it coming out?

L: Early spring, sometime in April. We’ve made an art for the cover photo.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome any challenge?

SM: Lindsey quitted the heroin and made the album…I am kidding; it could be a good story, though.

S: Don’t do drugs, kids.

L: We have some little fights when we write songs.

S: But it’s critical –creative-constructive fight. We are pushing each other to play better or play something cool.

SM: We all push each other pretty hard. We generally know what we need to do, we just want to make the songs as good as it possibly be. We are like dysfunctional family.

S: Sometimes we physically push each other on stage.

L: NOT YET happening. We stay positive, a band-ly family.

SM: Firstly, when we started we are three guitar players basically, me and Stephen were kinda stuck figuring how to play bass and drums. In this point now, we are decent at them.

S: Not to mention I barely played the drums before I join this band.

Who determined the roles?

L: It was the second day of a band we used this lineup, we were down a basement, practicing one day. Sam played a red bass that he had, he looked at me then was like “Now, we are a band.” while everybody was behind their instruments. Just came together naturally.

S (Air-drum playing): I was like this.

What’s your ultimate direction for your band?

SM: We are going to the TOP.

L: We wanna just keep getting better. We care about it so much.

S: More realistically we want to support ourselves by music.

How do you fit in the Lansing music scene? Who are some your musical friends?

All: Scary women, Tidal, Odds Fish, GTG records crowd… every Lansing band is very supportive.

Did you sign with any record label?

L: Not yet, we want to eventually.

What’s the difference between the music scene now and when you firstly started?

SM: At this point, vinyl records kinda came back. It’s almost better. Since we’ve been in a band, it’s same.

L: It’s hard to make money off records, you’ll have to go out and play the shows.

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional supports?

L: My parents, Christina and William. They have made there all of our shows.

SM&S: Jimmy, Joel, Tom Taylor, The bands Scary Women and Tidal. Cait Ash, she is the assistant audio engineer who also did hand claps and whistle in our album.

If you ever have had a chance to pick a band to join in, which one it would be?

SM: Wire.

L: Pere Ubu

S: I am kinda in the same boat.

All: We want to play with Pink Floyd. And we want to open for David Bowie’s spirit in another dimension.

Anything you wanna add?

S: Buy our albums, see our shows!

SM: We are gonna do that (music) FOREVER. We are lifers.


I also interviewed Jim Diamond, a self-record producer who was “responsible for curating the raw primal sound of the first two White Stripes albums”. 

How was the recording experience with Luxury Flux? How did you know them?

J: The experience was fast and easy at the same time. We recorded all the basic tracks in a couple of days then I mixed it later. They got in touch with me via email and then I was going to be in the Detroit area in December and we set up some dates in the studio.

What jobs have you done with them? (Mix, master etc.) Please specify.

J: We did the tracking and instrument overdubs, vocals then I mixed and mastered the recordings.

What was your first impression of them/their music?

J: I  liked the minimalist guitars and tones. No “rippin” solos, which is a good thing!And I liked Lindsey’s voice quite a bit.

How’s the relationship between you and the band outside of work? Are you guys being friends as well?

J: Well, we haven’t had too much time to hang out unfortunately, with me being in Detroit and France and the band being in Lansing but I could definitely foresee some libations together in the future.

Describe Luxury Flux from your perspective.

J: Atmospheric with a beat. Dreamy, slightly funky, in a good way, catchy guitars.

In your opinion, what make them stand out in the current Lansing music scene?

J: Probably the vocals and the guitars I would say.

Are there any other comments you want to add?

J: We had a good experience making the record. Fast and furious but it came out good!


Luxury Flux debut album will be released on April 21st, the release show is at the Avenue, Lansing. Check Facebook event page.

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For music listening and upcoming shows, subscribe here at  Luxury Flux. Like them on Facebook. The upcoming show is at the Fledge on March 31st,FREE show.

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You ears crave the sunshine as much as you do.

I have been thinking of making this playlist for so long. Ever since being stuck in gloomy god-damn -old days in Michigan–I am not surprised at all the fact that Michigan ranks the number two in the most miserable state winter list.

You may wonder which poor fellow state take place the No.1? Well, let’s cross the Lake Michigan, send our condolences to the Minnesotans who are surviving in the blizzard in the half time of a year.

When I lived in a small peaceful lake town called Winona in Minnesota last year, I discovered a local band that is making warm, cheerful music that makes you feel the fresh breeze flowing on your brow, and listening to the dash of the waves on the beach.

They name themselves Sleeping Jesus, and define their music “Love Songs with a touch of Indie Rock.” The first time being their live show at the Ed’s No name Bar, I smelled the evening that filled with wet and salty air, unwittingly. While they released a song called California At Dawn with its clean, vibrant guitar tone and mellow vocal.

Unsurprisingly, a group of Midwestern musicians is making Cali-vibe music amazingly to please every craving ears. That explained why post-punk had been a huge thing out there in Mexico City—- a frigid sound to calm people down, and I realized that when I went a post-punk party happening in that tropical city in a low-key dark chilly atmosphere.

Anyway, here’s my all-time sunshine pop/ surf rock playlist to feed my ears with sweet sunshine in the fight with coldness while getting through the winter.

1.Funny How Love Can Be by Chad & Jeremy.
2.San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie.
3.Another Time by Sagittarius
4. Fallin’ In Love by The Beach Boys
5.Walk Don’t Run by The Ventures.
6.Bustin’ Surfboards by The Tornados.
7.Diamond Head by The Ventures
8.Floating Vibes by Surfer Blood
9.Ocean by Thom Fekete
10.Surf Like An Egyptian by The Razorblades

Your Mom’s Wrost Nightmare: Slime

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Formed at a lansing Fusion show  in August 2016, the duo Your Mom’s Worst Nightmare just released their debut album entitled Slime, two days after their show in Mac’s bar.  You might have to see this longer name showing up more on gig flyers in the future. If the name doesn’t draw you in, their music will.

With Jaxon on drums, Dez on guitar—half the time they switch over and both master the vocal role.They identify themselves as garage punk and “shake-your-ass jams,” some of their influences are clearly can be recognized out, such like Sonic Youth- kind fuzzy, Lou Reed-kind lyrical, and Jimi Hendrix-kind funky. When elements all meet together, They don’t sound like anything existing. It’s authentic like that.

“I want to find something new and make some real art,” says Jaxon.

This 5-song EP is totally a nightmare, in a stimulating way. The entire listening experience brings you back to those moments when you wake up from full-blown dark nightmares, and suddenly realize they are incredibly plotty, engaging and fascinating,  the realization and illusion all in “Damn I wanna dream it again.”

On Something and Freaktastic, they align the noises and sinewy vocal of Jaxon, following the austere kick of massive drums which is also noticeable in the rest of tracks. Then come with the manic crescendo of guitar that penetrates the atmosphere, all the way towards a murky direction.

One track that stands out of named The Fool, featuring Dez’s don’t-give-a-damn vocal that right behind every single bluesy guitar rhythm played by the guest musician Stop Bobby Hatch.

Dez sings, “Drink to the fool, a crazy fool who told his baby ‘Goodbye’…He needs her.He wonders why he let her go. ” It sounds nonchalant and lazy, but intoxicating enough to get you trapped in an endearing whirlpool.

Slime is an album that shreds everything right in front of you by an overall air of garage and noisy punk. They are obscure, repulsive but it’s hard to look away. It is all just a nightmare–not only your mom’s.

As a newly formed band, they have done an ace job impressively.  Listen to Slime on Bandcamp. Like them on Facebook page for more update of upcoming shows.

Your Mom’s Worst Nightmare is playing a house show on Friday, Jan 27th in Mason, MI which features Stop Bobby Hatch in the lineup as well.Come down to the hole in the ground and get funky!

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「A guide for new collectors」: how to build your vinyl collection.

By Min Wang

Everyone has a different definition when hearing the word “vinyl”. The old records in your grandparent’s basement, dusty discs and moldy cardboard sleeves? Or the edgy store with tons of stickers and posters hanging on the wall and filled with fanatical vinyl-loving geeks digging for treasures.

Maybe you noticed when the largest retail U.S. bookseller, Barnes&Noble put “the vinyl shop” in its chain store, or when a multinational clothing store—Urban Outfitter –added a section for vinyl records on the shelf–a likely part of the lifestyle it’s targeting young consumers.

As audio tapes became history, CDs sales and digital downloading are being replaced by the explosive trends of live streaming music service.  Yet there are still regular vinyl buyers who enjoy the experiences of dropping the needle. It’s not just a nostalgia trend. Seriously, vinyl records are coming back.

“When I heard that they said ‘vinyl is coming back.’ for some of us, it never went anywhere.” says DJ Greg, a lifelong vinyl collector who works at in Living Stereo in New York City.

No matter what level collector you are and what genres of music you often listen to, here’s a guide to how to build and maintain your vinyl record collection and take the most advantage of it.

Does it sound better? 

Yes.

Technically, CDs are digital while vinyl is analog. While low-bit-rate MP3s are taking up market share, but vinyl doesn’t have to compromise on quality. You’ll notice the limitations of digital formats when you listen to them in a quiet environment or on a stereo system.

Another fascinating factor with vinyl is the sibilance they sound over the years and rounds percussive sound once dropping the needle. The warmth and fullness are pleasing to the ears.

A lot of listeners who purchased multiple formats may just enjoy the music itself. Asked why he chooses vinyl records rather than other formats, DJ Greg, emphasizes “the feeling that to hold something in your hand. and be connected to it.”

As DJ Greg explains, people like physical objects and they exist in memory clearer. If you ask vinyl collectors what their first record was, they’ll usually be able to answer with the story behind it.

“My first memory on this planet was my little plastic player when I was 2 or 3 years old. I think it was ‘Abbey Road’ by the Beatles. I have been collecting ever since then,” says DJ Greg.

Where to buy?

Of course, that local records store are still a main source. They are the most accessible places to experience the original record store culture—each has unique vibes. An online record store locator can help you find nearby vinyl shops via ZIP code.screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-10-50-17-pm

You may or may not have your dream records on your shopping list. That doesn’t matter because digging into records to build your collection is so much fun.  You may pick one that’s new or used. There may be in $1 bin section. You may be proud to buy LPs of local bands to support the local music scene, and royalties from Spotify and Pandora don’t pay most musicians’ bills.

If you attend a concert, make sure to check with artists or musicians after the show—buy an album if they released on vinyl as well. That’s the most direct way to show your support for them.

“I like the idea of supporting bands by buying records. They are also art objects –I like the layout and packing style. It’s a more interactive experience.” says Joe Howard, the owner of the Flat, Black and Circular record shop in East Lansing, Michigan.

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Regardless of your taste in music, talking to the person behind the counter is also a good reason to go a physical store. If the staff shows interest in what you’re looking for, make sure to ask them for recommendations. They’re the sidebars real-life epitome of “people who buy this also like.”

Certainly, if you need a particular album, try online shopping instead. There are plenty of websites that carry vinyl records plus they deliver them.

Many collectors unexpectedly find rare editions while digging into old vinyl at garage sales where you wouldn’t agree the “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” anymore. It’s also a good idea to keep your eyes open at flea markets, vinyl fairs and antique stores. There are practical ways to get used vinyl records without spending tons of money.

Now , it’s the time to go out and start to build up your own collection!

Give vinyl records a good home and keep them sounding great.

With one or more records and a turntable ready, it’s almost time to play. But hold on. Let’s talk now about the easiest way take care of your collection.

First store vinyl vertically, not flat. It’s risky to lay records one on top of one another because once they warp, they’ll never sound right—unless you enjoy funny odd sounds. Also, a broken LP, can damage your turntable’s needle.

Unlike CDs, vinyl demands more patience to preserve LPs, so always keep them in a place that’s dry and cool. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight.

Try to keep the original packaging. The gatefold sleeves and lyric books inside, are attractive to buyers.

“You have the vinyl, open it up, look at what color the record it is inside the sleeve. It may have a poster inside,” says Ryan Galer, a collector from Michigan State University who also accesses music in other media but prefers vinyl because it gets him more involved in feeling musicians’ “authentic” expressions.

 

DJ Greg: “Hold something in your hand and connect to it.”

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DJ Greg is at In Living Stereo Equipmentnt&records shop.Image: Min Wang.

DJ Greg, a clerk works at In Living Stereo Equipment & Records shop in New York, is passionate for what he is mastering in store with the inspiration of music.

He looks chill and comfortable about what he is doing. The light inside the store is getting warmer as he put on an experimental record on the player right behind the counter.

He has been around the music industry for 4 decades.  “Since the day I was born,” he defines his lifelong passion as a music listener, fanatical record collector, and a professional DJ.

The physical object usually exists in mind longer than a simple melody could do in memory. As he throws back the first moment about a vinyl record, he recalls, “My first memory on this planet was my little plastic player when I was 2 or 3 years old, I think it was “Abbey Road by the Beatles. I have been collecting ever since.”

Music, specifically vinyl records, brings the freshness that makes moment vivid as it is happening. That also explained why he ends up working in a record shop.

“Working at a record store is so difficult,” he says sarcastically, “Seriously. Playing music for all day long is so ‘stressful’ that I couldn’t handle anymore.”

As vinyl sale on its way back, increasing in recent years, he has his opinion towards the so-called “vinyl resurgence.”

“They said ‘vinyl is coming back. For some of us, it never went anywhere.” He has been collecting vinyl records over 30 years.

He has noticed some trendy changes of vinyl buyers.  “Some young kids buy vinyl only because they look cool. Even it said it’s remastered version. Come on we would find those rare records easily only if you know where to go.”

“I don’t have a particular genre. I like music itself, more than one genre—everything rock, everything jazz, everything R&B, everything reggae.” He enjoys a variety of music genres, the experiences which make him knowledgeable of being a clerk. It’s easy for him to give recommendations to customers based on their expressed music preferences, or just random recommendations.

“I wish people enjoy the music itself rather than information on your phone,” he says as he takes out a record from the sleeve, “To hold something in your hand and connect to it.”