interview Archive

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 4 / conclusion)

Continued from Part Three… And even though Fantastic Negrito is now a high-profile Grammy-winning performer and recording artist, he still feels and maintains a close connection to that neighborhood. “The people I started my collective label [Blackball Universe] with, they’re all guys I grew up with,” he says. “We did everything – committed crimes and

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 3)

Continued from Part Two… The production on The Last Days of Oakland is “boxy,” and Xavier says that that quality is a deliberate aesthetic choice. “I wanted it to feel like I’m sitting right in someone’s living room,” he says. And I tried to minimize production; I was really going for a sense of urgency,

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 2)

Continued from Part One… A 2014 EP titled Fantastic Negrito debuted Xavier’s new approach. Ostensibly blues, the five-song EP draws from a wider array of influences. Released to enthusiastic critical notices, the EP created a buzz but didn’t break through on a large scale. Undaunted and sure of his musical direction, Xavier created a low-budget

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 1)

(An edited version of this feature appeared in print in Living Blues Magazine.) All photos © Audrey Hermon Kopp Fantastic Negrito is a a lot of things. On the surface, he’s a stage persona, the human means of delivery for songs that chronicle the realities of life. But dig deeper and you’ll find Xavier Dhphrepaulezz,

Diali Cissokho’s Story Songs

When Diali Cissokho moved to North Carolina in 2010, he knew hardly anyone. The Senegalese musician didn’t speak English, and had no one with whom to play music. But with the help of his wife and mother-in-law, he put together a dance band, Kaira Ba. Eight years later, Cissokho has a strong command of the

Come Back Alice’s Simultaneous Attraction

Led by husband and wife Tony Tyler (guitar, vocals) and Dani Jaye (violin, vocals), St. Petersburg, Florida-based Come Back Alice plays high-energy rock ‘n’ roll that evokes the best of arena-rock concerts of decades past. Come Back Alice is the headliner at the August 17 installment of Hendersonville’s Rhythm and Brews concert series. You have

Mikaela Davis: Harping on a Pop Sensibility

The harp is an instrument most often associated with classical music; as a rule, its use in pop is generally limited to background orchestration in big productions. But clearly nobody explained that rule to Mikaela Davis: the pop vocalist not only plays the harp live onstage, but she writes songs on it. Davis takes advantage

A Chat with Amythyst Kiah

Raised in Bristol, Tennessee, a town sometimes described as the birthplace of country, Amythyst Kiah grew up immersed in music. Kiah released an album, Dig, in 2013, and the EP Amythyst Kiah and Her Chest of Glass last fall. New albums – one from her group, another a solo acoustic set – are in the

Jake Shimabukuro, Plugged and Unplugged

Hawaiian ukulele sensation Jake Shimabukuro catapulted to international fame in 2006 when a Youtube video of him performing the George Harrison-penned Beatles tune “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” went viral. By that time, Shimabukuro was already well-known in his native Hawaii and in Japan; by 2006 he had released six albums in the west plus

Jordan Okrend’s Light in the Dark

Jordan Okrend manages to have it both ways. He’s a pop artist, but one who incorporates more ambitious forms into his original music without sacrificing a strong melody. The Berklee College of Music graduate recently released his third disc Dance by the Riverside, recorded at Sound Temple Studios in Asheville. In your music, how do