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A Conversation with the 2015 ComFest Producers

Sunday, February 8th, 2015
Adam Fisher-Cox and Becca Baruc.

Adam Fisher-Cox and Becca Baruc.

I had a chance to sit down with Becca Baruc ’15 and Adam Fisher-Cox ’15–co-producers for this year’s National College Comedy Festival and members of the Ad-Libs–to discuss the process for organizing the festival, their favorite ComFest moments, and what to expect from this year’s ComFest. They’re swell folks, and we had a great conversation, so check it out below. And be sure to get your tickets tomorrow at 10am in Case. Facebook event can be found here. And check out our write-up for this year’s professional groups here Click to continue »

BADBADNOTGOOD Tears Up Earth Day, Sits Down For Interview

Wednesday, 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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Greg Hrbek Interviewed in Japanese Magazine

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Hrbek (left) bros out in Japan

Skidmore professor and pro-writer Greg Hrbek has been interviewed by Axiom, a Japan-based culture magazine. The whole exchange is pretty interesting and feels unedited, which, in this case, is a virtue. Check it out.

Hrbek has extensively traveled around Japan researching his new novel.on a Japan-US Friendship Commission fellowship, and recently returned to Saratoga after spending the spring there. I’m sure he has lots of interesting things to say about Haruki Murakami and maybe Godzilla.

(via Axiom)

SEC Interviews Wye Oak

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Picture by Jon Yeston '14

Drew Litowitz ’11 and Taylor Dafoe ’13, the SEC interview team that brought you this wonderful ditty, have another great piece up on the SEC blog today.

The team traded words with Wye Oak before their March 5th show at Falstaff’s and mostly talked about hometown Baltimore and crabs. Turns out Wye Oak’s Jen Wassner is totally besties with fellow Baltimorians (Baltimorons?) Jana Hunter of Lower Dens and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and they all have indie dream girl nights out together that it is way too early in the morning for me to be fantasizing about.

Wye Oak also rightfully prefers Omar to McNulty and kinda thinks that Dan Deacon is bad at DJing house parties. Oh Indeed!

Read the whole thing over at the SEC Blawg and then buy Wye Oak’s fantastic new album Civilian.

SEC Phantogram Interview

Friday, November 19th, 2010

This SEC interview with Phatogram is the most day-brightening thing I read all week. It’s basically a transcript of friends talking about sandwiches and music and there are tons of examples of them being funny because obviously Sarah, in addition to being beautiful, enigmatic and talented, is also witty. There are also lots of little secret facts, like how Peter Silberman of The Antlers went to Skidmore and how Phantogram skipped a wedding to play with Yeasayer at Skidmore a few years back.

Make your way over to the SEC blog to see for yourself.