Archive for November, 2011


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“This song is about standing up for whatever it is you believe in. For me it’s music. For a lot of the people in this video, it’s freedom. Freedom of equal rights, of religion, of peace or of speech. I went to the protests downtown LA and watched the footage online of similar protests around the world and it inspired me. As an artist navigating your way through the music industry there are so many things standing in your way. Time and time again I have had to fight for the things I believe in. When I first moved to New York from Toronto I would play guitar and sing in lobbies of record companies, on the streets and in subways. Little did I know getting signed was just the beginning. Since then I have been pushing for everything from the music I want to making the artwork on this single, to keeping this song on my album. These videos struck a chord with me because the passion I saw resonated with my own. No matter how big or small the cause, passion is passion. I am in no way promoting anarchy or violence. I’m simply in awe of the human spirit and the lengths people will go to stand up for they believe in… stand behind the music.”


Stand Behind The Music is available on iTunes on December 13th.

[Related Post: Protestin’ Like A Boss!]


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

MARIA CIEZAK: Thanks for taking the time to chat with BiggerThanBeyonce. I recently was given your music and became an instant fan. You’re a very talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. At what age did you start making music?

LEONARD FRIEND: I started playing drums when I was 12. I first picked up the guitar a year later and taught myself enough basics to write my first song (for my girlfriend at the time). I had this little 4 track in high school that I used to record songs that I wrote. My senior project in high school was my first EP, I think it was 6 songs or so. That EP actually became the early foundations for my old band, The XYZ Affair.

MC: I know you were previously the front man, Alex Feder, for Brooklyn indie rockers The XYZ Affair. How did this alter ego come about?

LF: I had the idea in the shower about a week after XYZ broke up. I knew I was going to record a solo record, and the idea that I had for it was just BIGGER than “Alex Feder,” I knew the project needed a different name. So I decided to adopt my grandfather’s name, Leonard Friend. He had recently passed away, and he had wanted to be a musician his whole life but couldn’t, for a variety of reasons. Now, in a way, he can be.

MC: Did you always aspire to be a solo artist down the line, or did life take you that way?

LF: I never aspired to be a solo artist, really. I had always been in bands, and The XYZ Affair was my heart and soul. But at a certain point the idea of doing things on my own just made sense. And I felt ready for it. So here we are.

MC: I am totally digging ‘Serious Music’ and cannot wait to hear the rest of the ‘Lynyrd Frynd’ EP. Did you have a tough time deciding what the lead single would be?

LF:It was tough only because I view the EP as a unified whole as opposed to a bunch of single songs. But in my mind, ‘Serious Music’ makes a good Musical Mission Statement for Leonard Friend. And I really can’t wait for people to see the video, I’m super proud of it.

MC: Would you say you are a bigger fan of the music scene in LA rather than NY?

LF: I haven’t gotten much of a feel for the LA scene yet! We’ll see.

MC: You have been called the “Indie Justin Timberlake”. How do you feel about that comparison?

LF: I think JT’s killer, one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. So it’s an honor to be compared to him! I wish that dude was still making music, I loved his last record. But yeah, it’s very flattering.

MC: Who are your musical influences?

LF: This is always a tough question because I listen to a TON of stuff, so I’ll just tell you what I’ve been listening to lately. My favorite artist of all time is Michael Jackson, he’s always in regular rotation. Beyond that, lately I’ve been listening to James Blake’s new self titled record, Kendrick Lamar’s new record, ‘Here, My Dear’ by Marvin Gaye, ‘Let It Be’ by the Replacements, ‘Watch The Throne’ by Kanye and Jay-Z, and ‘Lodger’ by David Bowie.

MC: Can we find you touring in the near future?

LF: Right now I’m focused on recording more music. I love making videos, so I’d like to make another one after the ‘Serious Music’ video comes out. I’d definitely love to play sometime soon, but I don’t have anything planned in the immediate future.

MC: For BiggerThanBeyonce readers who are just getting to know you, what would you like them to know?

LF: I wore braces for 13 years. So when I do take Leonard Friend out on tour and you see me smiling huge on stage, that’s why.

Thanks for your time!


By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Bell X1: a band that’s content making a stream of steady music. They are Irish lads who have been loyal to the art since who-knows-how-long. They bring an elemental poignancy to indie rock I have not yet seen before. And that’s quite nice. Just when I think indie rock is bordering on cliche, a new (or old) act steps up and grabs me.

Recently, they found themselves touring about New York and couldn’t help but be drawn to the magnetic, odd allure of the Occupy protests. This was their thought on it: “…It actually had a real festival feel; there were some drummers and horn players throwing it down. Noise about all these ills is better than no noise.”

Love it. What’s more, their new song Sugar High is all about these dear old corruptions our world is facing.

I dig this groove. It’s energetic, incredibly powerful, but also very sad. I adore it when people use their talent to spread a message, to get people talking and thinking about what’s happening in the world. And the lyrics hit me hard…

“Let’s build all this shit no one’s ever gonna buy, When we come ‘round we’ll blame the sugar high, And act all sheepish and kinda sorry-ish…”

“Free to those who can afford it, To those who can afford it, Very dear to those who can’t, Those who can’t…”

Bracing, beautiful, breaking.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

ROB BRAYL: Ok, first things first. That shirtless pic of you in the Yankee’s hat has an old skool Marky Mark Calvin Klein vibe going on. How would you describe yourself, sound and image for those unaware?

KDREW: That picture shows more of the fitness side of me which played a huge role in my life. But on the other hand I guess my image is a little more rock when I’m fully clothed. [Laughs] I have a ton of sides to me, which definitely translates to my music.

RB: I understand that, like Lil Wayne, you tend to swing it in the studio? Do you always go in to record without lyrics in mind?

KD: Pretty much. I like to get caught up in the moment whenever I’m making a track. I never say, “Hey, you have to go into the studio at 1:15 and write a ballad about unicorns and fairy dust.” [Laughs] Sometimes it will be 4 in the morning and I’ll feel like making a dubstep record. So I just break out my laptop and start working. I guess I just go with the flow.

RB: I’ve gotta say that I love your music — it’s got a very commercial appeal that I think will go far. Has radio been supportive? I know radio can be a bitch to break.

KD: Thank you very much. Some stations have definitely been supportive and to this day still are. The other ones that haven’t jumped on my music yet hopefully will in the near future. But as hard as radio is, it’s just one piece to the puzzle. Sometimes people make it their number one priority to get on it. You gotta just make music for yourself and fans, everything else will come after that.

RB: Last album you purchased.

KD: ‘Mylo Xyloto’ by Coldplay.

RB: I see that you’re a huge Michael Jackson fan (join the club!). Was he your first inspiration for starting music? Also, can you moonwalk? Just curious!

KD: Michael was definitely one of the many influences I had growing up. I was raised around all different types and styles so I hope people can really hear that in my music. Every once in a while when I go to the store I’ll moonwalk there. Great cardio.

RB: How sad are you that Justin Timberlake hasn’t recorded a new album in 5 years? Your stuff is right up his alley BTW.

KD: I wouldn’t say sad. I would say more eager to hear what he’s been conjuring up in the studio. Whenever he comes out, his music becomes a style. So I understand as an artist why he hasn’t put anything out. He’s smart though for waiting.

RB: Any new projects you’re currently working on? Upcoming shows?

KD: I’m always working on new projects so you never know when you might be hearing a record I wrote or produced. Currently I’m working with a hip hop artist who’s really dope. Also I’m trying to get a bunch of my dubstep and house records finished so I can put them out. Show-wise I’m sporadically doing them all over the country. But soon I really wanna sit down and plan a tour or even hop on someone else’s.

RB: This might be a tough one, but what’s your favorite track you’ve ever recorded?

KD: Truthfully, every song I do is probably my favorite. I put so much time and energy into each one that to say I have a favorite would be unfair to the rest of my songs!

RB: Finally, thanks for talking to me, yo! Give us something random to end this interview on.

KD: Thank you for having me and I like turtles. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are great and I want to go skydiving.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”

-THE GZA, Wu-Tang Clan

This picture was snapped with my iPhone in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan. From a distance, the first thing that caught my eye was Gaga’s overexposed horn-face. But then I looked closer…

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought this photo would stand the test of saying something heartfelt and lasting; something powerful.

It’s time we all give a little more. Be a little more. Feel a little more.

Count your blessings while your stuffing your face with pumpkin pie. And remember that not everyone has the option.

Real talk.


By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

They rock because they can.

That’s just the vibe I get from these guys.

Inner City Elegance is a three-man army who shout-out against all that is varnished and fake. They’re a neon splash of unique in an otherwise colour-coded atmosphere. A perfect cut between the manic and the mild, they let me get my rock on without falling off the edge.

Not only do they appear legit in their love of music, but they seem super-pumped about getting their album out there. They’re blogging, tweeting, and touring, and I’m glad to say such efforts garnered my attention.

I feel they’d find home in tight, underground clubs, the beaten down venues, the shady pubs, all the places where misfits are likely to congregate. They’d need to be close enough to reach out, grab the audience by the hair and shake them to pieces.

Their music wouldn’t settle for anything less.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

One of the most striking moments in the new film Martha Marcy May Marlene is when twisted cult leader Patrick, played by the brilliant John Hawkes, performs the song you’re about to hear. I remember sitting in the theatre in total trance mode, seduced by the magic this song creates meshed with Hawkes chapped vocals.


Do yourself a favor and see this movie. One of the best films of the year in my opinion. The story, cinematography, acting; all brilliant.

And to everyone posting about J.Lo’s performance from the AMAs last night: THIS is what REAL music sounds like. No props, audio backing or shirtless male props required.

Song (live version) + trailer below.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

As you’ve probably already heard (since it’s like groundbreaking news and all, obvi), People has named Bradley Cooper the new ‘Sexiest Man Alive’. Nothing wrong with Coop Scoop, but these lists are predictable, boring and need to diversify stat! As usual, it’s 98% white dudes. Only one man of flavor. I know it’s a stupid list that has no merit but People seriously needs to get with the times. For crying out loud, would it kill them to throw some spice into the mix?

I know there’s some ludacris protestors outside of People’s headquarters for Ryan Gosling, but personally my vote goes for this man.

Unlike Kanye, the only bling Drake needs is his pearly whites au naturale.

Diamond smile FTW!

[Related Post: That Fine Piece Of Canadian Bacon (Drake) Drops Vid For ‘Headlines’]


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Mom: I thought I’d call to see if you’re safe. I saw all the crazy protestors on TV!
Me: I gotta go, I’m at the Brooklyn Bridge protest!
Me: Don’t worry. I plan on leaving before the cops start beating people with sticks. I have Kelly Clarkson tickets to obtain tomorrow.

3+ hours w/ the protestors. Met some awesome new friends. Spoke to a few cops, everything peaceful. But then I could no longer feel my face, so I headed home. So proud to be a New Yorker! Power to the people!

BTW, this song is perfection, beautifully jaded…

And oddly enough, it somehow manages to relate here.

Can’t wait to hear this track live in concert!

[Related Post: Perils Of The Working Class]


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com



By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

No, you’re not stuck in a vegan nightmare. This is actually a Bieber face cake, made out of ground beef and bacon (precisely placed for that magical Bieber hair allure). I’m assuming the teef are onions and the eyes are olives? This is worse than Paranoid Activity 3!!! Totally creepy.

Something that isn’t creepy is the fact that JB is the first artist on Universal Music’s roster to ever donate a portion of the proceeds from an album (with his new holiday effort, Under The Mistletoe) to charity.

That’s pretty cool.

Learn more via Chelsea Lately below.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Some people collect things. I collect concert memories. It’s rare that I take the time to actually write about a show, but I just cannot allow this one to go by. On Monday night, I saw the Foo Fighters for the first time. Yes, shame on me for being a virgin to this band’s live experience for all of these years, but trust me, it was well worth the wait.

Foo Fighters played for over three hours. In my 25 years of life, I have been to countless shows, and even with the combined three to four bands, sometimes full shows don’t even last that long. The bottom line, two words: Dave Grohl. This dude has more energy than a rechargeable battery. It amazes me how his voice doesn’t even fade out, for he is not only an amazing vocalist, but a screamer on top of it. I sometimes have to remind myself that Dave used to be all about the drums (now having someone like Taylor Hawkins, it is easy to forget). As one-third of Nirvana, Dave kept the beat while late frontman Kurt Cobain kept a crowd engrossed. Back to present times, Grohl is virtually a guitar god and the indisputable star of his own show, and it’s hard to imagine a time when that wasn’t the situation. Just sayin’.

Foo Fighters played SO much from their amazing discography, compressed with everything from The Pretender and Everlong, to newer tunes like Dear Rosemary and Walk. As odd as this may sound, it was like I was reborn a rock and roll fan and heard music for the first time (and busting out brief covers of Pink Floyd was just the icing on the cake).

Even if you aren’t a supporter of the rock n’ roll genre, you can’t deny pure talent when it’s obvious. Seeing Foo Fighers in concert helped to re-establish the fact that good music still exists. I was sitting in an enormous arena, and it felt as if Foo Fighters were playing in a high school auditorium. Do yourself a favor and check out their tour schedule.

Thank you, Foo Fighters, for an amazing night.


[Related Post: Foo Fighters Shine ‘Wasting Light’]


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

NY rapper Outasight is out with the music video for his debut single Tonight Is The Night. The energetic track is currently being featured in Pepsi’s “Who’s Next” campaign, which will later feature the winner of The X Factor.

Directed by Dori Oskowitz, the video depicts Outasight smack dab in the middle of a crazy night out in New York City. What what!

This track is undeniably fun!

Download Outasight’s brand new mixtape, Get It Together, for free, HERE.

Just-released video + recent performance via X Factor below.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Seriously, Jay-Z? SMDH!

“Jay-Z, as talented as he is, has the political sensibility of a hood rat and is a scrotum. To attempt to profit off of the first important social moment of 50 years with an overpriced piece of cotton is an insult to the fight for economic civil rights known as #occupywallstreet.”

-GRIM / Occupy Wall Street Leader

[On Jay-Z profiting from Rocawear’s OWS t-shirts, in which the rapper donated zero percent of the proceeds to the cause]

BTW, the video below is jawesome.


By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

The guitar hit me. I think that’s why I had to write about them. That sweet riff came in, strings blazing, and I was hooked.

Not to say the rest of the band isn’t great. Nay, Fallen Riviera has a lot of talent backing its name. This little blossom of beauty was born in L.A., and instead of seeing their dreams crushed under Hollywood hostility, they found indie clubs and a loyal fan base. Of this I am most glad. I’d hate to see these guys fall into the ever-towering pile of broken dreams.

I like this band. Mostly because they volunteer a genuine connection to their audience. They were out there garnering support and getting to know the crowds before they released their first EP. That’s dedication. That’s legitimacy.

Their lyrics swim somewhere between the surreal and the tangible. Every bar is sung, played, drummed and strummed with heartbreaking precision.

Yes, I like this.