BADBADNOTGOOD Tears Up Earth Day, Sits Down For Interview

Written by Jonze on April 16th, 2014
Alex Sowinski of BADBADNOTGOOD plays in front of an epic sunset.  Photo by Matt Schonfeld

Alex Sowinski of BADBADNOTGOOD plays in front of an epic sunset. Photo by Matt Schonfeld

I first heard of BADBADNOTGOOD in the winter of my freshman year.  My roommates were giving me a hip hop education, and everyone I knew started listening to Odd Future rappers Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt.  We listened to and watched everything we could find online.  A random YouTube search took us to a video of three kids still in music school.  Clearly set up in a classroom reminiscent of Zankel, the three began playing the opening chords to Tyler, the Creator’s “Bastard.”  The next thing I know they’re shredding through Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade,” but never how I had heard it before.  Gone were the drum machines, synthesizers, and vocals.  Inserted in their stead were acoustic piano, electric bass, and drums.  Jazz chords, and soloing, took the arrangement by storm building the song to a huge climax.  And just like that, I was hooked.

One viral video later, the trio quickly released their first record, BBNG1.  Buzz soon formed, and we learned that the three were jazz performance students at Toronto’s Humber College.  Almost overnight, an outpouring of love came from the hip hop community.  Tyler, the Creator played, soloed, and improvised with them.  Giles Peterson became an early fan and included them in his Worldwide Awards in London, England.  They released BBNG2, and then Frank Ocean called upon them to back him up at Coachella.  They’ve produced for Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt, and currently have much more in the works.  In anticipation for their first label-backed release BBNG3, off of Innovative Leisure, they headlined the annual WSPN Earth Day Music Festival.  Before their jaw-dropping, mosh pit-inducing set, we got to show them around Zankel and give them a jazz student’s inside look at the Skidmore music department.  After we got to show off for a sec, the whole crew sat down (along with their producer, Frank Dukes) for a rousing conversation about performance, hip hop, and what it means to be a jazz kid in 2014:

So which one of you at the end of BBNG 1 was like “Fuck Giant Steps, I hate that song?” 

Matty: It was Alex.

So as a drummer why do you hate “Giant Steps” so much if you don’t have to deal with the chords for it? 

Alex Sowinski: Well I don’t really hate “Giant Steps” anymore. I don’t really hate it. It’s actually a pretty fucking badass song originally

Matty Tavarez: I mean I don’t think any of us really hated the song. I think we hated the performance practice of it. It’s like “Can you play ‘Giant Steps’?” You know what I mean? But it’s actually not that difficult…if you go to music school. It’s stupid that people talk it up.

Alex: I was just being stupid and getting fed up with Jazz school.

Matty Tavarez: Yeah, we were in Jazz school and everybody’s like learning their new triadic elements and shit.

Do you think you’ve gotten a lot more from being out of that conservatory/Jazz school community? 

Alex: Yeah, one hundred percent, definitely. We’ve learned a thousand times more from being out of school for the last year and a half.

Chester Hansen: It’s just such a small part of music that you focus on in school and once you branch out into other things you realize how much more there is.

Did you guys get shit for the kind of Jazz you were playing from your professors? 

Alex: I mean the funny thing is, when we were in school we weren’t really playing stuff like that. It was literally like goofing around and jamming. The only time we played it for our professors was the one assignment we did with [Chester] basically, which, yeah, we got shit for.

Matty: It wasn’t like we were the dudes around town. It was more just us goofing around in our free time.

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LINE Magazine Release Party This Thursday

Written by Executive Editor on April 16th, 2014
So many cool LINES on this poster.

So many cool LINES on this poster.

LINE, Skidmore’s only art review magazine, will be holding it’s release party this Thursday. LINE is a student-run publication that reviews artwork around campus. They review art in the Schtick Gallery, Case Gallery, as well as the Tang. In the past LINE has been a per-semester publication, but this year the editors decided to expand the size and span across the school year. They’ve revamped their image and created a more cohesive and far-reaching publication.

The event will be held in the Tang and will feature live music by Skidmore’s own Otter, Jennifer Florence, Ethan Carpene, and the Accents. In addition to live music there will be food and drinks. And, of course, there will be free copies of LINE.

Tang Museum Atrium on Thursday, April 17 from 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. 


An Interview With The Boys Behind The Award Winning Leaf Pile Media

Written by Executive Editor on April 16th, 2014
These guys, right?

These guys, right?


As freshman year suitemates, Ian VanNest, Walter Barber, and Andrew Zimmerman spent hours examining and analyzing comic books, graphic novels, cartoons, and video games. They shared a love for depictions of fictional worlds. Not unlike other freshman living in the dorms, the three envisioned creating something bigger–something that rivaled the card games, video games, books, and cartoons that they admired. Though, for many freshman, dreams like that are intangible; you move on, lose touch with those freshman year friends, and the hopes of creating together evaporate into the impending stress of real world responsibility.

But Ian, Walter, and Andy never lost touch or forgot their plans. They’ve lived together since freshman year and haven’t stopped creating. They’ve developed a world called Hara and its corresponding game, “Champions of Hara.” And they’ve created a platform to hold that world, Leaf Pile Media, a “transmedia start-up.” On the weight of Leaf Pile, and their fictional world, they won Skidmore’s fourth annual Kenneth A Freirich Business Competition. With $20,000 freshly in the pocket they hope to create a conglomerate of media ranging from graphic novels (in order to tell the full story), board games (to get people involved with the characters), animated shorts, mobile games, etc. etc. etc. There are no boundaries for what they can do with Leaf Pile, if there were, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun.

We caught up with Walter and Ian to talk about the development of their game and media company, the business competition, and plans for the future.

So when you guys lived together freshman year, were you coming up with this game?

Walter: No, we weren’t making the game yet but in a lot of ways the inception process was starting. We used to [indulge] and sit around and just cram over comic books and read stories and look at the graphics and just be like “Ohhh!” and flip the page and be like “Ohhh!” Just getting so hyped about these stories. Or craming around the TV playing video games at night and just being so into it and so analytical of it. And so this world that we’re putting out right now didn’t start until junior year, but the creative team was coming together.

When you were coming up with this game did you ever think you would enter the business competition?

Ian: It wasn’t the first goal, no, but then we talked to someone who has become sort of a mentor, Devin Low, who used to be one of the head developers for Magic The Gathering.

How did you meet him?

Walter: He’s actually my brother’s old friend from elementary school into high school and we were like lets get this meeting. And he actually just made Marvel’s most recent game. He works for PopCap Games now, they did “Plants vs. Zombies.”

Ian: So he looked at our game and was like, “You guys have something cool here, but you could do way more with this little story if you develop it.”

Walter: He was basically like if you actually want to do this, well a game will get you nowhere. You need to think about the story, the brand, the franchise, the characters—you need to make that real. And from there, that was like the start. And then we started talking to Sam Schultz, who is the kid who won last year, about how to make money.

Ian: We started to realize we don’t just have a game, we have a business.

Walter: Well, still hoping.

Ian: Yeah, still hoping. I mean, a couple millionaires told us that we have a good idea so that’s a good place to start.

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Screening The Crash Reel Tomorrow In Davis

Written by Executive Editor on April 15th, 2014

You know how when you watch the X Games it seems as if the athletes are super human, impervious to injury or failure? Well, freestyle snow sports are dangerous fucking endeavors in which bones are broken on the regular and death is never too far from a tragic reality.

The story of Kevin Pearce makes this utterly clear. At 20-years-old, Pierce was a prized snowboarder, winning three gold medals at the 2008 Winter X Games. He was Shaun White great, slated to be his main competition in halfpipe at the 2010 winter olympics. But all those wide-eyed aspirations and opportunities were abruptly cut short when Pearce suffered a debilitating head injury while trying to pull a cab double cork in a pipe in Salt Lake City. It was, at the time, a boundary-pushing trick that few were capable of, though, one that is now commonplace for any high-status snowboard competition.

The Crash Reel is a 2013 documentary about Pearce’s snowboarding life: his promising rise and harrowing fall. It’s full of fearless feats of insanity and the heart-wrenching results those risks can cause.

The Crash Reel is being screening April 16th (Wednesday), at 7 p.m. in Davis Auditorium


Tonight: Liberty in North Korea Presentation

Written by Qwik on April 15th, 2014

This is literally the first time I’m seeing anything about this.

Tonight at 7pm, the Asian Cultural Awareness Club will be hosting Liberty in North Korea (or LiNK), who will be doing a presentation on the on-going human rights crisis in North Korea. On their webpage (which I would highly recommend you check out), the people of LiNK say, “We exist to empower the North Korean PEOPLE as they drive progress inside their country.”

If you know anything about what goes on outside the United States, you probably know at least a little bit about the many human rights violations faced by the people of North Korea. Essentially, there’s some messed up shit happening in the country and LiNK is all about rescuing and empowering refugees as they cope with an oppressive regime and try to make better lives for themselves.

There’s a pretty high chance that you wrote some shit about being a good global citizen when you applied to Skidmore and whatever other liberal arts colleges you got waitlisted at, so this is where you can make good on that promise, folks.

Go to Davis Auditorium (no, not Emerson, the other one) at 7pm tonight to hear more about LiNK as they talk about “not only the challenges of living under an oppressive regime, but also the potential of the people and what they are doing right now to change the country from within.” The whole thing should run under an hour, so take a break from Upworthy homework and learn something tonight.

Tonight (Tuesday), April 15th, 7pm, Davis Auditorium. Tells You The Best Happy Hours In Saratoga

Written by Executive Editor on April 14th, 2014
Go To Right Now And Find The Happy Hour Of Your Dreams

Go To Right Now And Find The Happy Hour Of Your Dreams

Okay, so maybe I’m late to this, but regardless, it is important and in need of sharing. is a valuable downtown resource that offers a day-by-day layout of the best happy hours in Saratoga. It chronicles some of the most frequented bars downtown, what their hours are, deals they offer, and a few specials. In addition, they have a “happening now” update box that will tell you where the best happy hour is in real time. For example, right now at 12:38 p.m. on a Monday, the best deal is at Clancy’s Tavern, where their happy hour runs from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. with 50 cents off all regular priced drinks.

Good to know, right?


Weekend Distractions CXIII

Written by Executive Editor on April 10th, 2014

8:00pm- Skidmore’s Carr Lecture: Megan McArdle @ Gannett
8:00pm- Mavis MacNeil’s Senior Composition Recital @ Zankel
8:00pm- Skidmore Theatre Department: If All The Sky Were Paper @ JKB
8:30pm- Lively Lucy’s Presents: Otter EP Release Party w/ Queen Amborisia @ Falstaffs
9:00pm- Putnam Den Presents: Pooch, amongst other local bands @ Putnam Den

3:30pm- Spring Fling Weekend: HOLI @ Case Green
6:00pm- Hip Hop Alliance General Meeting w/ Free Chipotle @ Ladd 207
8:00pm- Skidmore Theatre Department: If All The Sky Were Paper @ JKB
8:30pm- Bo Peep EP Release Party w/ Los Elk @ Putnam Den
10:00pm- Spring Fling Weekend: Beach Party w/ Foam Tent @ The Spa
10:00pm- The Sketchies Present: Fever Dream @ Gannett

1:00pm- EARTH DAY FESTIVAL w/ BadBadNotGood and more @ South Park Green
2:00pm-Skidmore Theatre Department: If All The Sky Were Paper @ JKB
3:00pm- Skidmore Community Chorus Concert @ Zankel
8:00pm- Skidmore Theatre Department Presents: If All The Sky Were Paper @ JKB
8:00pm-Liz and Cindy’s Senior Recital: French Horn and Viola @ Zankel
9:30pm-Ad Libs Longform Trifecta @ Filene

1:00am- Hip Hop Alliance Presents: Block Party featuring RES KP @ Case Green
2:00pm- Skidmore Theatre Department Presents: If All The Sky Were Paper @ JKB

Missing something? Let us know in the comments


Save Saratoga Needs You and Yours To Sign a Petition

Written by Executive Editor on April 10th, 2014

First off, this guy above is the truth. Second off, politics and local legislation is messy.

Save Saratoga, the local organization fighting back on the state’s plans to build a casino in Saratoga Springs, is back at it, and wants your help. Remember weeks ago when they threw that benefit concert at Putnam Den with local celebrity Maryleigh Roohan and Bo Peep and The Funk Sheep?  And they were supposedly successful in getting the necessary support to oppose the casino? Well, like I said, politics is messy and the state has thrown the burden back on the city to gain local support.

Save Saratoga now wants your support, Skidmore students and alumni. They want you, as productive member of this community, to voice your opposition to the building of a casino. I mean, who wants to go to college in a gambling town? We’re already handing thousands of dollars over to the administration, so why give another excuse to throw money at The Man?

Sign the petition at Change.Org

Full letter below:

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Megan McArdle Speaking At Gannett Today

Written by Executive Editor on April 10th, 2014
She's a journalist not a parachuter.

She’s a journalist not a parachuter.

Megan McArdle is a longtime journalist and blogger who focuses much of her work on economics and politics.

She had worked in economics and written about the business for a few years when, in 2003, she was brought on by The Economist as a writer, but soon became an editor when she helped launch The Economist’s Free Exchange blog in 2006. Since then she has bounced around the media scene, with a brief stint as editor of The Atlantic, staff writer at Newsweek/The Daily Beast, Bloomberg View, and so on. Her politics are certainly right-leaning and libertarian.

She will be talking about her latest work, The Upside of Down:Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success, at Gannett today at 8 p.m.