The world very largely feels like it’s falling apart at this time. During moments of darkness, we search for the light. We crave creativity. We rely on authenticity. And – while it can often feel overwhelming to seek the good – artists are ready to provide us hope, beauty, and escape. This feels especially true with the captivating glam rock project Tony & The Kiki, which just released the lead single and music video for their upcoming EP. Fronted by the talented and charismatic Anthony Alfaro, Tony & The Kiki truly captures your attention with a vibrant individuality and keeps you going with a message of inclusivity.
“Extra Express” is an anthem for the ages. With an energy that can get anyone up on their feet, the track boasts fantastic, wide-ranging vocals, and enough edge to really breathe new life into your day. The video is entrancing, depicting Alfaro with a backdrop of bright, flashy colors and images as a call to authenticity oozes from every facet of production. We’re big fans of the fashion, big fans of the energy, and insanely fond of this video.
We were lucky enough to ask Alfaro a few questions during release week.
Do you think where you’re from has any bearing on how you create?
Oh absolutely! Queens, New York is unlike anywhere else in the world. A stone’s throw from my childhood home is the most diverse section of THE PLANET. The most varied collection of cultures, races, languages, ethnicities, and nationalities in one single area. I pride myself on being an eclectic artist. While yes, rock and roll is my mother tongue I draw inspiration from all genres, mediums, and cultures, and I’d like to think that comes through in the work. My mom is a real-life disco queen and salsera and my dad is an incredible DJ who would mix Grandmaster Flash with Zeppelin back before mashups like that were en vogue. This kind of variety and culture clash is in my blood, my voice, and therefore my artistry.
I’m so glad you’re bringing flare back to rock. Big look, big voice, big vibes. What has been your favorite part of the journey creating this EP?
Ay Gracias, mami! Yeah I think the second we abandoned the crippling responsibility of being “cool” things really started to crystalize and get exciting for all of us. We’re an honest to goddess pack of weirdos and mystics…and instead of trying to be trendy and sexy for the masses we’re leaning into our queer, diverse, funky energy. Frankly, that’s been deeply liberating and joyous. LONG LIVE THE FREAKS! And F*** BEING COOL! Cool is boring and sterile… the absolute antithesis of what rock n’ roll is. Ain’t nobody got time for that no more!
What was it like recording at the storied Dreamland? Did you draw inspiration from Woodstock at all, or were you pretty sure of the direction it was all going in beforehand?
Well …we were on a tight and ambitious schedule so we had to arrive ready to slay the house down boots, mamá. On the other hand, Woodstock and that good chill hippie energy has always been a source of inspiration for us… the peace & love & vibes of it all. So I’d say we had a clear plan of attack but left some room for the delicious brand of magic that is so abundant up at Dreamland. Using their varied, vintage instruments (toy piano, guiro, Moog Synth etc.) and their mystical acoustics as yummy layers to add into our cauldron. Once we got the crux of what we needed we definitely got to play around and experiment. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced as an artist. A true playground. Or in our case …a witch’s potion lab (cackles in Spanglish)
The message in the song “Extra Express” is so important, and it is such an anthemic blessing right now. Was there a moment that triggered you into writing it specifically?
Thank you for saying that, mi amor, we think so too! A specific moment? No, mama. Our whole gay lives led up to the creation of this song. People like myself and my bandmates Max Vernon and Rodney Bush have been out here and queer for years and feel a great sense of responsibility for the legendary children that have and will come after us. They need something to listen to and be like “oh, yeah…that’s mine, that’s for me” This song is for them first and foremost.
The music video for “Extra Express” is like a kaleidoscope. Where did the vision come from?
The Extra Express has always been like a psychedelic, queer, rock n’ roll cousin of The Magic School Bus and in this case I’m Miss Frizzle (LOL) and the listeners are my class of students. We wanted to evoke the vibes of Dorothy landing in OZ or Alice plopping down into Wonderland. We set out to create a portal into the land of THE KIKI, with all of its vibrant queer magic and electric, colorful vibes. An invitation and a welcoming.
What a FANTASTIC reference, especially for millennials. (I am SO pleased!) What do you hope fans glean from your music, in general?
I want our fans to be invigorated and vibrationally lifted by our music. We want to provide an antidote to all the heaviness that can come with living life in the 2020s… a warm sparkling hug; a fabulous coven, welcome to anyone who needs a good Kiki. Er’body is welcome here, mi vida… we are raising the vibes and getting asses shaking! Come thru!
Do you have anything else to share with your new bevy of fans?
Yes! I’d like to say “Hola Mi Kiki, Welcome… we see you, we’re here for you, we honor you, and we love you… f*** the haters and do you bb! Life is meant to be LIVED! Fasten your seatbelt cause it’s time for lift off… the new age is now! Vamos!”
Also follow us on IG and TikTok @tonyandthekiki and subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more funky glam rock brujería heading your way. xo
Video Credits: Wardrobe by Max Vernon, David Quinn, Anthony Alfaro Makeup by Max Vernon Hair by Anthony Alfaro Choreography by Anthony Alfaro Song Credits: Track Produced by Max Vernon Track Mixed by Lloyd Kikoler Track Mastered by Ryan Smith of Sterling Sound
SXSW is finally upon us, and the digital experience is absolutely wild. Montreal-based 7-piece rock collective TEKE::TEKE is set to perform at the M for Montreal/Brooklyn Vegan showcase on Thursday, March 18th between 7 and 8 pm CST. We got a quick chat in with guitarist Serge Nakauchi Pelletier ahead of their SXSW Digital performance, which curiously involved talking about hygiene standards around aliens.
What was the first song or album that you remember hearing, and does that work of art have any influence on how you approach your music today?
The first music I remember hearing was the first album by The Kinks, Ennio Morricone’s ‘The Good, the bad and the ugly’, and Nakajima Miyuki’s ‘Aishite Iru To Ittekure’ from my parents collection. That right there has everything to do with what I’m doing today with TEKE::TEKE and how I do it. It didn’t occur to me until just recently, but it makes a whole lot of sense. I owe everything that I’m doing now to my parents and the early moments of music we’ve had together.
What was the first thing you did this morning? Woke up to the sound of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s theme for the film ‘The Revenant.’
What is your morning ritual like? Some stretching, green tea, and some reading in the bathroom.
If you could perform three of your songs live for our audience right now, what would they be? They would be the exact three songs we performed for the SXSW event we took part in : those are ‘Kala Kala’, ‘Barbara’ and ‘Meikyu’. I feel they really capture the essence and energy of the band.
Clearly nothing compares to a live, in-person show, but these livestreams have fed the energy a lot of audiophiles and fans throughout the pandemic. What have you loved about performing digitally? Three things come to mind : 1- Playing with the band 2- Seeing other people (technicians, camera crew, etc.) 3- The thought of making a difference in the lives of people watching.
Any thoughts on the digital SXSW experience this year? I can only speak for myself and the experience of the event TEKE::TEKE took part in, which was extremely well-organized and fun. The whole set-up and visuals were cool and should look good online!
What is your routine like on performance days? Just making sure that my mind isn’t too clogged with stuff, that I’m hydrated enough, I’ll do some stretching, some exercises, focus on my breathing, maybe a little warm-up on the guitar, and with the band we always do a little rallying cry that goes ‘TEKE TEKE YEAH!!!’.
What is one thing that you think is underrated? Rant about it. Non-automatic stuff, haha… or things that demand manual work. For example, I just recently bought a coffee grinder (for my occasional cup of decaf coffee). I could’ve gotten one of those electric/plastic grinders but I chose to go for an all-metal and manual grinder, the one with a handle that you need to turn over and over. I figured: when in my life do I get to do something like this?… this kind of motion, as the fresh smell of coffee grain being crushed to powder rises to my nose. Just because the technology’s there doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. Give me handles, buttons, things to pull, to push! Haha… manual work, please!
If you could order carryout from any place within 10 minutes of your home right now, where would you go tonight? What would you have there? Within 10 minutes, I would order and pick up from that Indian restaurant right on the corner of the street and have their delicious vegetarian thali. If I dared walk 20 minutes more though, I’d definitely go to this place called ‘Fleurs et Cadeaux’ here in Montreal’s Chinatown, my new favorite Japanese joint.
Aliens. The government admitted their existence and alluded to involvement, but we kind of skated past it during the pandemic. Do you think they’re enemies, or would you gladly accept an abduction to hang out with them? I know this is actually true and I’m waiting to sit with them and chat. As long as they have their masks on.
There are so many amazing places to go when you want to get inspired. Where are you headed to next? Can’t really go anywhere right now can we?… However, I’ll say this: personally my ‘place’ for inspiration has more to do with where I am in my mind than where I am physically. That has been a blessing during this pandemic as the inspiration juices just kept flowing.
What has been your favorite way to stay grounded during the pandemic? I consider myself among the very lucky ones whose lives have not been affected by the pandemic in a major way. Yes, shows were canceled, some contracts were postponed, but all in all, I’ve been able to keep the same lifestyle as before, if not even a little better so, with more time on my hands and less stress. To stay grounded (whether during a pandemic or not), I need to stay creative and keep a certain diversity in what I do. Exercise is a must, for both mind and body as they are indubitably linked. Feed my curiosity, stay aware and open, learn things, get good sleep and think of others.
Anything else you’d like to add? Check out our music videos for the songs ‘Meikyu’ and ‘Yoru Ni’ on YouTube and watch for our upcoming album ‘Shirushi’ out on May 7th with Kill Rock Stars.
Hang in there, we’ll see you live somewhere real soon! Peace!
Four piece Texas-based collaborative Ley Line is more than just your run-of-the-mill inspiring, “fempowered” project. These particularly soulful songstresses will be entertaining at the Black Fret SXSW on March 17, dazzling the audience with their multilingual folk music. If you get a chance to spend some time with their music, we highly recommend it.
We are lucky enough to have nabbed them for an Instagram takeover before their performance on Wednesday, so check in to our account starting around noon. Until then, here are some inspired words from the ladies themselves.
What was the first song or album that you remember hearing, and does that work of art have any influence on how you approach your music today?
Kate: “Blackbird” by the Beatles! The Beatles are a huge inspiration for us. They are songwriters and artists who wanted to explore different genres and embraced spirituality through their music. Also, their camaraderie and playfulness really resonates with how we move through the world of music together.
If you could perform three of your songs live for our audience right now, what would they be?
We would play “Senseless Way” because it reflects the challenges of this moment so perfectly and offers a lot of hope. “Oxum” is another of our favorites, it’s joyful and celebratory and everyone deserves to feel that. But it’s also an important reminder about how precious fresh water is and reminds us to continue to cultivate a relationship with our natural world. We also would play “We Saw Blue” because it’s the origin story of our band- it’s the title track off our latest album and the name of our upcoming Visual Album coming to you on May 14th.
Clearly, nothing compares to a live, in-person show, but these livestreams have fed the energy a lot of audiophiles and fans throughout the pandemic. What have you loved about performing digitally?
Maddy: It’s actually been really humbling to be present with the music and each other. We always loved playing house concerts and even got our start playing in yoga studios where the audience was completely silent. It reminds us of that intimacy and to have trust that the music is landing exactly where it needs to be.
Any thoughts on the digital SXSW experience this year?
Lydia: We’re really excited to be able to interact with the audience and new fans. It’s pretty special to get to experience our performance alongside the audience and SXSW has made a really awesome digital platform to be able to interact directly with the audience in the moment!
If you could order carryout from any place within 10 minutes of your home right now, where would you go tonight?
Fish tacos from Veracruz (in Webberville) every time.
There are so many amazing places to go when you want to get inspired. Where are you headed to next?
Emilie: Travel is a huge part of our inspiration, especially water. So we hope to get to the beach as soon as possible but until then you can find us singing by the river at Barton Springs.
What has been your favorite way to stay grounded during the pandemic?
Kate: Giving gratitude for the simple things, having a roof over our heads and food on the table. It grounds me to remember how much I have in just having my basic needs met during this time.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Subscribe to our Youtube channel to learn more about us, we’ve got a podcast, break down videos of our songs and live performances!
Just ahead of Acid Tongue‘s October full-length release Babies, the highly entertaining musical duo of Guy Keltner and Ian Cunningham – who are often joined by “friends” and operate out of New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle – has been busy, busy, busy. First premiering their track “If I Really Loved Her” via All Things Go, which boasted that “the band demonstrate both instrumental prowess and respect for their musical heritage as the sons of psychedelic forebears,” and they’re not wrong. These guys have got a handle on crooning, beautiful, psych sounds that could really drive the way you see your autumn if you choose to partake in some listening pleasure.
But we don’t just have the inside scoop on the album release. (Friday October 13th, mark your calendars.) We also have a little more insight on some of the tracks, their feelings on the music industry, and snacks in this quick (and fun) interview with Guy Keltner that happened in honor of their upcoming album release. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out!
What is the first song or album you ever remember hearing, and who introduced it to you? Probably my mom playing Bob Marley or the Cranberries to us as kids. We had one of those old Technics sound systems with the tall boxy speaker cabinets. I’m sure we danced like goofy little kids to that stuff.
Was there a moment that it struck you and you realized you were going to pursue music, or did it kind of slowly evolve? I used to think I was going to be an astronaut. I started playing piano at five, but I wasn’t exactly keen on scheduled lessons and the homework that came with it. I finally got a guitar when I was 11 and I think that’s when everything clicked. I mostly just banged on it for the first year or so, but my parents set me up with this great teacher, an old session musician from Seattle named Al Kaatz. He’s really into soul, classic R&B and reggae, and helped shape my taste and how I approach music to date.
And did you choose the “post-menopausal” life, or did it choose you? (Referencing their “genre” categorization on Facebook.) Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a awhile, you could miss it.
“If I Really Loved Her” has such a beautiful sentiment behind it. Can we expect more of the same emotion behind the rest of Babies? The entire album is full of little easter eggs, relatable songs about daily life, but with a much deeper meaning to them. I’m not always just signing about the good stuff, either. There’s a lot of odes to life’s minutiae, thoughts on how mundane things can get. I don’t think people always want to hear about breakups and star-crossed lovers. There’s something beautiful about eating top ramen and being broke with your friends, talking about nothing and killing time.
“Talking In Your Sleep” struck our fancy with its title, and it’s one of our favorites off the release. Is this a love letter to a certain someone, or does it pull from many places? This song is about charisma. The type of people who spin webs and can turn a boring story into something compelling. We all have friends or co-workers or family that do this.
“Accidental Drug Use” threw us for a loop, one of those “well, that escalated quickly” songs when it comes to lyrics. It’s amazing. How was this one to work on in studio? That song was actually written the night Bowie died. I don’t usually get upset when one of these aging rockers passes away. They’ve lived epic lives, and lot of that generation is pretty old and has seen their best days already. Bowie’s new record was surprisingly great, though, and I felt this new excitement for his music after that. KEXP in Seattle did a Bowie day, a tribute to his tunes, right after that record dropped. A few days later, I’m hearing Bowie all day again and wondering “what the hell?”. When I heard he had passed, I was absolutely crushed and this song just spilled out.
Did you choose Friday the 13th as release date for any particular reason? Sometimes things just work out that way.
Do either of you have a favorite song off of Babies, or is that feeling applied to the entire work, since it’s your first release? I’m torn between “Humpty Dumpty” and “If I Really Loved Her”. Both of those fell into place so perfectly during the sessions, and they are such strange tunes in general. Ian is partial to “Accidental Drug Use” though. I really dig the way his drums turned out.
What has been your favorite memory together as a band so far? We did a short run in the Northwest recently, opening for De La Soul, playing Upstream Festival in Seattle, and generally having a blast with our friends when we were home visiting. Our bassist, Alessio, is from Italy and lives in Paris now. It was his first time in that part of the country and it’s such a different vibe than the rest of the US. We started laying down the tracks for our next LP, the follow-up to Babies. Just a really perfect trip.
How do you imagine people listening to this album? Everywhere. It’d be so cool to just have this be one of those LPs that synonymous with rock & roll during our era. One of those things you hear at dive bars, coffee shops, taxi cabs, wherever.
Guilty pleasure snack. Go! Chopped cheese.
What is your opinion of the modern music industry? It’s amazing that I have access to literally everything I could want to listen to in the palm of my hand. I’m a huge fan of Spotify and I think this is a cool era, we just have to slug it out and be persistent to make any money from our art.
Anything else you’d like to add? Go out and buy/steal/stream Babies as soon as you can. The vinyl looks really cool, too.
Babies is out October 13th. Keep up with Acid Tongue here.
Pi Jacobs is a beacon of light right now. Continually engaging with fans, she keeps her head up and continues to create and to breathe life into her newly released work. We were happy to sit down with her for our last SXSW 2020 Sofa Session.
P.S. Any wine or chocolate companies that want to collaborate with Pi Jacobs right now…
Ryan Cassata has dived head first into all things art and creation, especially, it seems, since this whole “social distancing” thing started. But the energy around music for Ryan is all the more palpable when you realize that his new album The Witches Made Me Do It just dropped. AND IT’S PHENOMENAL.
Bandits on The Run. They’re so fun and just incredible speakers off the cuff that we decided to run this interview with no edits. (They will find this out when it is released. You’re welcome, my friends!) We talked bolo ties, cabin fever, and friendship!