Chaz French on Religion, Racism and Rap

On Feb 5th I had the pleasure of interviewing Chaz French following his performance, which energized the sold out Atrium crowd of the Catalyst Club in downtown SC. He explains the gruel of the tour life, what he did for fun as a kid, living out his dreams, religion, and raising awareness to the racism in America, as French wore a hoodie with Trayvon Martin’s face on it to commemorate the 6 year anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death.


The show was great, and each artist demonstrated impressive technical ability and commanded the attention of the crowd. Chaz’s set was after Lute (out of Charlottesville, North Carolina) and before J.I.D and Earthgang (both out of atlanta). For those who may not be familiar with any of these artists, Lute and JID are both signed to Dreamville, J Cole’s label. J.I.D., who headlined, has been getting bigger and bigger, collecting props from Hip-Hop veterans such as Mos Def along the way.


Throughout his steadily rising career, Chaz French has toured with the likes of Wale, Goldlink, Freddie Gibbs, Waka Flocka Flame and more. He has also collaborated with many artists such as Casey Veggies, Currency and fellow DMV (District of Maryland / Virginia) rappers Wale and Goldlink. Over the past 4 years, he has been busy touring and has released 4 mixtapes, leading up to his 16 track debut album True Colors, which arrived in July of 2017.

Image result for chaz french true colors

Hope you enjoy the interview:


New York in the 1960s and 70s

For the assignment, I interviewed one of my history professors, Matthew Lasar. Professor Lasar, or just “Lasar,” as I call him, was born in Fortly, New Jersey in 1954, but eventually moved to the Big City of New York when his parents decided they wanted to raise their children in a more urban environment. I interviewed Lasar on his experience in New York, and why, after experiencing something in the late 1970s, he decided to move to California and abandon the Big City.


If you’ve seen Greta Gerwig’s movie Lady Bird, then you know how I personally felt as a young, mid-pubescent high-schooler – if you were at all wondering. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a girl who dreams of going to school on the East Coast and living in New York City, living in a place, as she puts it, “of culture.”

Whether fortunately or unfortunately, I have yet to live in New York City. But New York City now was a whole different place than NYC then. And by “then” I’m referencing to the 1960s and 1970s. I talked to one of my history professors about this. We sat in his office. It’s a little echoey, even though his office is small, but you can get the gist of it. 


The Frights


I interviewed Mikey Carnevale. He is the lead vocals and guitar for a band called The Frights. Other members include, Marc Finn (drums), Richard Dotson (bass), and Jordan Clark (guitar). The Frights, a punk band from San Diego started as a joke band, playing for a houseparty. Then, when someone important liked them, they were signed to a label. Since then, they have evolved, added and subtracted a member, worked with Zac Carpenter of FIDLAR on their albums, and just recently signed with Epitaph Records. They are lovers of the band Weezer, and though they started as a joke, they are extremely grateful for how far they have been allowed to go so far in the industry.

My interview with The Frights aired on KZSC on Nada’s show, “Artists on Art” on February 21, 2018. In this interview, I ask Mikey about his favorite parts of going on tour, who their inspirations are musically, and the story behind their new song, “Valentine’s Sux”.

After interviewing them, The Frights played at The Catalyst. Though they have played there before, it was their first time playing the “big stage” and their show sold out. They played new songs off of the album they recently finished recording on Valentine’s day this year. They also covered some songs including “All-Star” by Smash Mouth and “Say it Ain’t So” by Weezer, whom Mikey mentioned in my interview, were a band they “don’t mind ripping-off”. They’re full of energy onstage, and you can tell that they have a great time doing what they do.

-Maddie Kringel

Interview Link:

Interview with LD50

by Jose Domingo

Breaking through in the industry is a tough game that many artists make compromises in their artistry in order to attract a bigger following. LD50 believes that way of creating isn’t for him. Constantly changing his moniker and keeping a low profile, he’s still managed to gain a large following on Soundcloud. He creates art for himself and listening to his music is an authentic and very intimate experience.

In this interview we learn more about his influences from childhood until today. He touches base on his parents’ affinity for jazz and prog rock, how skateboarding expanded his taste, and why he doesn’t want to be the next J Dilla. Although elusive as a public figure, he is open about his process. A personal friend of mine, he trusted me enough to conduct this interview, even though much like MF DOOM before him, refused to show his face. The photo above is a screenshot from his Soundcloud.

Interview on Active Learning with Professor Robin Dunkin, PhD

Over the last few years, UCSC students and students around the nation have been hearing about a new type of lecture style called “Active Learning.” Active Learning is an increasingly popular learning style in which student participation and discussion are emphasized over the traditional ‘stand-and-deliver’ lecture model. UCSC has been developing alternative Active Learning Lectures for larger courses such as the introductory biology classes that have no trouble filling with upwards of 200 students. One professor active within this new learning realm is Professor Robin Dunkin Ph.D. who teaches one of these introductory biology courses, BIOE 20B: Development and Physiology.

I had the privilege of speaking with Professor Dunkin about her experience with Active Learning, the challenges she has faced, and how we can use these techniques to better ourselves as both learners and educators. She explains some of the key differences between large lecture learning and Active Learning styles at UCSC including how she’s worked to implement more Active Learning into large lectures. Promoting student confidence and comprehension in the sciences stands at the heart of Active Learning and it’s because of that, that Active Learning styles are beginning to revolutionize how we pass down knowledge through the generations.



Josh Zupan, W18

DJ Fizzi Pop Interviews Exmag!

Over pesto pizza, IPA, and motown soul playing in the background, I got to sit down with Brooklyn-based electro-funk trio Exmag at our very own Pizza my Heart.

Eric, Tyler, and Dave have been on the road for the past month playing shows for their headlining Pleasure Tour. So far, they’ve played at notable venues such as The Roxy in Los Angeles, The Fox in Colorado, and our own Catalyst Atrium.

Their sound is of one that is notably unique in its style of combining hip-hop style electro beats and soulful, funky jazz elements to create an ethereal, soulfully harmonic aura throughout each track. They are known for their collaborations with artists on Lowtemp records, and have even done projects with notable artist such as Gramatik and Gibbz.  Every one of their albums tells an instrumental story, as if the different elements are conversing with each other. The contrasting musical styles of smooth and hard bass mesh together like cogs in a machine to create a smooth ride into space.

Exmag’s new single, One Two, came out earlier this year just in time for their tour to begin. Following their 2017 album Part 1, there are hopes that this single could mean a Part 2 is in the making. They had just finished playing Gem & Jam Festival in Arizona, and are planning to play more in the future.

These guys gave me the ultimate pleasure of letting me pick their brains about their musical talents and endeavors, and even let me take them out to Funk Night at the Crepe Place for their last night in Santa Cruz in celebration of the funkiest holiday known to man: Mardi Gras.

You can check out the full interview here! :


by Jose Domingo

What I created is what I believe to be a starter pack to a larger starter pack to the many facets of my mental discography. I think with this collection of songs, I’ve encompassed a small variety of genres that can fit in half an hour of music. It includes some of the hits from various artists, which provides insight to new genres that can draw in new listeners.

1. “Journey in Satchidananda” – Alice Coltrane – Journey in Satchidananda
(1971 Impulse, avant-garde jazz, USA, streaming, RIYL: John Coltrane, Ravi Shankar)
Great avant-garde jazz by Alice Coltrane off of Impulse which is known for being the label of John Coltrane’s experiments with free jazz late in his life.

2. “Disorder” – Joy Division – Unkown Pleasure
(1979 Factory, post-punk, UK, streaming, RIYL: Bauhaus, New Order)
The album cover that has seen many a t-shirt, the album that is a solid wall of darkness and sound, a predecessor to later gothic rock.

3. “Paranoid” – Black Sabbath – Paranoid
(1970 Vertigo, Heavy Metal, UK, vinyl, RIYL: Led Zeppelin, Motorhead)
Black Sabbath, a member of the “Unholy Trinity”, the Godfathers of all metal music to follow.

4. “Suzanne” – Francoise Hardy – Francoise Hardy/Comment te dire adieu?
(1968, ye-ye, France, streaming, RIYL: Serge Gainsbourg, France Gall)
A take on a Leonard Cohen folk classic by the leading lady of the ye-ye movement in 60s french popular music.

5. “Vitamin C” – Can – Ege Bamyasi
(1972 United Artists, krautrock, Germany, CD, RIYL: Neu, Kraftwerk)
The posterchild of krautrock by the Cologne, Germany band CAN featuring vocals from Damo Suzuki who was discovered while busking through Europe.

6. “Fight the Power” – Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet
(1990, Hip Hop, USA, streaming, RIYL: Beastie Boys, LL Cool J)
Made popular through the Spike Lee joint Do the Right Thing and the anthem to black america in 1990 much like the works of Kendrick Lamar today or Gil-Scott Heron before them.

7. “Birthday” – The Sugarcubes – Life’s Too Good
(1988, post-punk/alternative rock, Iceland, CD, RIYL: Bjork, Cocteau Twins)
Bjork’s early alternative rock days before her solo work display the talents of a young Icelandic singer finding her voice.

Songs I’m Listening to Now

My playlist goes as follows:

  1. Train Song – Vashti Bunyan
  2. Holy Smoke – Thee Oh Sees
  3. I got Loaded – The Wood Brothers
  4. Embryo – Black Sabbath
  5. Follow Me Home – The Mystery Lights
  6. Hazemaze – Fuzz
  7. Space Cadet – The Murlocs
  8. Try To Understand – The Seeds

Train Song;
I used to have a bit of an aversion to folk music, but Vasahti Bunyan quickly diminished it. Her melodies are a little bit haunting and unconventional, but beautiful nonetheless. Folk is the genre that I’ve been interesting in learning more about, and I think Vashti Bunyan is my gateway into the genre.

Holy Smoke;
Thee Oh Sees are an absolutely remarkable, insanely high-energy garage rock band. I knew I wanted to include a song by them, but I chose this one specifically because it was subtle, and had that same haunting beauty that Vashti Bunyan had.

I Got Loaded;
This song was my attempt at including a song of a genre that I typically have a strong aversion to, country. The Wood Brothers definitely waver back and forth across the line between folk and country… but I think this is the most ‘country’ I could get. I chose this song because the first time I heard it was driving along West Cliff on new years day with some close friends and I just associate it with very fond memories. If anyone has any ‘real’ country suggestions, shoot em my way!

This was a transitional track. 30 seconds of Sabbath to prime your ears for a heavier sound… also Sabbath is awesome.

Follow Me Home;
The Mystery Lights embody the 60s psychy garagey rock revival that I’m totally digging right now. I just love how simple and fundamental the core melodies are, but how HARD the song drives. It’s a two part song and the main riff is literally 4 descending notes, and yet it’s still groovy, jammy, and impressive.

This song is to exemplify a bit of the ‘heavier’ sound I’m into. Again, Fuzz is another 60s psychy garagey rock revival, but with a completely different sound, more inspired by the loud, chaotic, and fuzzy (!) sounds of proto-metal.

Space Cadet;
Yet another band encapsulating the 60s rock n roll sound, except this time with a dash of jangley R&B. Ultra groovy.

Try To Understand;
And FINALLY, an example of a 60s rock n roll, proto-punk, garage song that IS part of the sound that inspired all of these modern garage rocky bands today.

A quick summary: Folk- a genre that I would like to get more into. Country – a genre I can’t really get into. All the different flavors of garage rock – proto-punk, proto-metal, proto-doom, psychedelic, R&B, e t c . . .
Listen to my playlist here:

SITLN: John Denver, Pretty Lights, and some Afrobeat sweetness

My setlist for my SITLN included a variety of tracks that covered three genres: Future Funk (yum), Afrobeat (what I wanted to dip into more) and country (meh). I had a super fun time creating this playlist, because I got to mix different genres into creating a story, a flow, almost a mood for that day.

My playlist goes as follows:

1.)Roy Ayers –  everybody loves the sunshine

Fun ID

2.) Griz – In The Sunshine 

3.) Fela Kuti – Water Get No Enemy


4.) John Denver – Country Roads, Take Me Home

5.) Pretty Lights – Country Roads, from the 2011 Remixes

6.)Mandingo Griot Society – Disco Dance (vinyl) 


7.)Michael Menert – Hi, from his 2013 sampler (CD)

8.) Griz featuring Brasstracks and Eric Krasno – Gotta Push On

Most of the songs I chose were ones that reflected from my childhood – Roy Ayers was a house favorite of mine growing up, and I thought playing a modern mix of his was a playful twist from what I had always known. Surprisingly, I ended up thoroughly enjoying the John Denver country song, but my mom had engraved some of his other music in my head. I had heard it in the latest Alien movie, and it had grown on me despite my usual detest for that genre – I ended up singing Country Roads everywhere I went. I had then found that my favorite artist (Pretty Lights) did a rendition of that song, and decided to flow them together to show their variation. the to Afrobeat songs I chose were Fela Kuti’s classic Water Get No Enemy which is the very song that inspired me to get back into that genre. I had always loved R&B/Soul, but I was more interested in its predecessor more. I had thought it mixed well with Griz’s sax in the previous song, and was a long enough song to say an ID over. The other Afrobeat song I chose was one from Mandingo griot Society, an 80’s African disco band whose LP I found in the KZSC library. I ended up LOVING it! I can hear the influences into modern EDM, Hip Hop, and R&B from African disco. It’s beautiful. Michael Menert, who is a lesser known artist in the industry but is the backbone behind many popular jam-tronica songs, I felt should’ve been put in the mix. In his shows, he likes to include different brass bands from different countries and blend them into his set. I dug deep into the KZSC library and found his 2013 sampler (!!!) which had some pure GEMS on them. I was ecstatic. I ended the playlist with what I think is a good departing song, called Gotta Push On by Griz (can you see I love him?). I would probably listen to this playlist doing homework or driving a long distance, for all the song’s long instrumental breaks and transitions.

-Sarah Woolley


Ray <3 Rap

I don’t read poetry because I have rap, not that they are mutually exclusive. Rap has always been my favorite genre, it combines efficient, expressive lyrics over instrumentals equally creative. I was shaped by southeastern rap, becoming an adult in a place with dynamic music and absurdist vibes. Rap became cemented as my favorite genre when it underwent a shift in sound and content in 2013. Previously, mental illness was stigmatized in the early 2000s, claiming lives with addiction and suicide. It was there, but depression was not gangster and it was ignored. But lyrics became more emotional, revealing, and honest. In the 2010s, the media often stigmatized new school artists like Future, 21 Savage, and Kendrick Lamar for rapping about drugs only. The lyrics were drug centered, but were a bigger sign of the rising drug addiction and self medication the U.S was becoming. Constantly artists were honest, Tyler, The Creator’s Wolf album considered many depressive, honest, and suicidal lyrics that was reassuring to depressed teens like myself. A verse comes to mind,

“Look at that mom who thinks I’m evil, hold that grudge against me
Though I’m the reason that her motherfucking son got to eat
Look at the kid who had the 9 and tried to blow out his mind
But talk is money, I said, “hi, ” I guess I bought him some time
Look at the ones in the crowd, that shit is barnacles, huh?” TRONCAT, Tyler the creator

As usual rap was real, it had the words for the people and the shelter for myself. It doesn’t have to be gangster, culture appropriating, or violent, it will continue to tell real stories, emotions. All good music has ever done is provoke emotions through sound. Rap is no different, and it changes too.