Antonique Smith: From Broadway to Hollywood

By Robert Frezza

For those who don’t know, singer and actress Antonique Smith, most well known for her role as Faith Evans in the movie Notorious, has also starred on Broadway for two years.  The love she had for the stage in Rent has prepared her for movie stardom. Now, Smith is ready for the crossover from acting to music. “Acting is helping me make the transition to singing,” says Smith.

Smith had much to discuss about her upcoming role in the music industry including a chance to record on the infamous and long awaited Dr. Dre album, Detox, her relationship with Nas, and a compliment that Whitney Houston gave her that made her ecstatic.

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Sunset Music Festival: Dynamic Electronic Hits Miami

By Eleanor Cecconi

It was the end of a rainy summer Florida Saturday and I arrived at Sunset Music Festival as steam rose from the baked blacktop concrete of the Soho Studios parking lot. Undulating sound waves confronted me as DJ Andy Pate of RioTGeaR controlled a sweaty and gyrating crowd of young techno lovers with his signature energetic tech house beat.

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Lia Ices Abandons Technical For Experimental

By Brittany Lawler

First time Lollapalooza performer Lia Ices is breaking the mold when it comes to pop music. The singer-songwriter from New York has a unique vocal style, including melodies that provoke emotion and lyrics that linger long after the song is over.

Ices, who studied experimental theater at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London before putting her efforts towards songwriting. Ices worked to create originality with her latest album “Growning Unknown.” The highly trained technical performer has abandoned traditional methods in pursuit of a free-flowing fusion of experimental pop music, which according to Ices, “uses her voice as a tool for emotion.”

“Mostly it’s been pretty solitary, especially with the last album, but now it’s a pretty collaborative phase. Definitely it’s moving way more towards collaborating with my band. My brother plays guitar in the band and we wrote the song “Daphane” together.”

Ices’ expressively driven and experimental music is both avant-garde and timeless. The evolution of her music began with a college theatre course, which introduced her to a new way of performing. The exploratory theatre class provided an environment that “really promoted making your own work instead of having technique forced upon you,” said Ices.

Ices is a performer that pulls inspiration from her surroundings and evokes the listener’s emotion through her spirited lyrical choices.

“I’m inspired by tons of things, in reference to “Growing Unknown” my last album; I’m realizing that nature and the processes that happen in nature tend to be huge inspirations for me that reflect into the personal. This is a major poetic theme that keeps pulling music out of me,” said Ices. “And then, of course the human voice in general is something that I find huge inspiration in—like discovering myself and my poetry, and the kindof music I want to create through the different sounds my voice can make.”

By recognizing that each song has it’s own life and energy, which demands different qualities from the arrangements and her voice, Ices can utilize her creativity and tone to produce her specific sound. “I didn’t have the confidence or format to let it breath. That’s kindof when I started to write music. I started putting the pieces together, I play piano, I perform, I write and then I let it all gel together,” said Ices.

Her voice has a haunting, hypnotic character that is both picturesque and yet, somewhat melancholy all at the same time. Her music strings together as if telling a vivid story.  Many of her songs combine lost love, mythological figures and nature metaphors. According to Ices, “I think I realized that there’s a difference between writing songs—writing a song is one thing, but it’s an entirely different thing figuring out what you want that song to sound like.”

Ices’ album is a combination of songs linked together, producing a give and take relationship. “Growing Unknown,” is an album that is surprisingly tender and empathetic. The most inspiring aspect of Ices’ music is how she intuitively balances her most intimate confessions within her songs, as if she is speaking to the masses.

Lollapalooza is the first big festival Ices will play and it is in full swing. With 90,000 people filling Grant Park, Ices will be performing with some of the most talented performers and bands in the industry.

“The band is really dynamic and a live [during a live performance]—it becomes a way more fleshed out version to the album. It gives it new life and energy by extroverting everything,” said Ices. “Playing the same songs with the same people—the deeper the collaboration goes, which totally translates in the music,” said Ices.

Many of the songs on “Growing Unknown,” evolved over time and continue to organically change without warning.

“On the album we had a quintet, five string players, for the song “Ice Wine.” But live, we couldn’t really have that, so the band had to adapt. But it gives it [the song] a new life. It makes it more dynamic. It’s cool to see how a song can change for a live show,” said Ices.

Following Lollapalooza, Ices will be going on a small tour back through Toronto and Hudson, NY. Before performing at the Green Man Festival in Wales, along with couple of stops throughout the UK.

“All I can do is be the best version of my music and hope people can connect to it.”

OK GO Comes Home

By Zuzanna Skwiot

Dan Konopka attended the first Lollapalooza show in 1991. Tim Nordwind saw it
in ’92, ’93 and ’94.
And on the festival’s twentieth anniversary, Dan and Tim, along with their group OK Go,
were one of the show’s main headliners.
Returning to Chicago and being able to perform in their hometown was an honor for the
Windy City natives.

“We started the band here in Chicago and I grew up here and Tim grew up not too
far from here,” says Dan. “And Lollapalooza is huge and in high school, we would
think ‘can you imagine being a part of that roster?’” 
“It was a pretty big honor,” adds Tim. “It was nice to come home.”
Seeing how the festival has progressed (for it’s first six years, Lollapalooza was a
traveling show), is an interesting idea.
“I remember, there was a freak circus that used to travel with Lollapalooza,” says
Tim. “It would feature a lot of bands that hadn’t become mainstream and it was cool that
we had an event that would speak to us and our culture.”
“It’s now taken on a new personality,” he adds. “But it’s still celebrating a lot of bands
that don’t have mainstream success.”

While in Chicago for the show, the band also had the chance to perform at President
Barack Obama’s 50th birthday party in Chicago and had the opportunity to meet him.
“He’s a cool cool dude,” says Tim. “He’s handles everything very diplomatically and
very smoothly.”
The band’s visit to Chicago did not end there. Tim, who also DJs, headlined at both
Debonair and Bedford throughout the weekend.
The group, which also includes Damian Kulash and Andy Ross, recently released their
first live album, dubbed 180/365.
They have also recorded the Muppets Theme song for the upcoming Muppets movie.
“It’s a Healthy collaboration between our world and the Muppet world,” says Dan.
 The OK Go world, which features performances on treadmills and Rube Goldberg
machines that encompass entire warehouses, is a clever one.
 Their music videos to songs Here It Goes Again, WTF? and This Too Shall Pass have
become viral hits among the internet community. And the band works to pursue new idea
for the videos.
“Usually, someone has a good idea or a crazy idea that seems impossible,” says Tim. “If
it sounds like its awesome, we’ll generally chase the idea and see if we can make it a
“It usually comes from internal, there’s discussions about it or from people close to the
band,” adds Dan. “That’s usually the genesis of it all. It’s pretty organic and starts with
the four of us. That’s the important thing, is that we’re excited by the idea.”
And while they’re not making videos for their latest studio album, Of The Blue Colour of
the Sky, both Tim and Dan have taken on side projects.
“I have a project that I’m working on: Pyramids,” says Tim. “It’s actually with a girl
from Chicago and we just recorded some songs and we’ll probably do a few more. I hope
to release it sometime around Halloween.”

“I have another bedroom recording project called People which is really lo-fi and it’s just
me and then I make all of the videos on the iPhone,” he adds.
“And I’m making babies,” adds Dan. “My wife and I are expecting around
“I also just started getting into remixing songs,” he says. “I’m excited getting into the
electronic music world.”
And though both Dan and Tim have taken on side projects, fans can be ensured that new
OK Go music will soon be started.
“In the fall, we’re going to go back in and start on a new album,” says Tim. “It’s time.
We’ve been touring and making videos for two and a half years. It’s time for some new

The Cults At Gilt City

By Zuzanna Skwiot

It’s been a mind- blowing summer for live music here in Chicago. Despite the fickle
weather, thousands of people ventured outside to experience Lollapalooza and music
festivals in the surrounding neighborhoods. The Cults, for starters put on a lively and
energetic set at the Gilt City rooftop party, on Saturday, August 6. Followed by The Hood
Internet, a DJ duo that can command a crowd’s attention. “These are great events to be
apart of. Gilt City’s hosts a lot of roof top parties with live performances that bands get
excited to play, especially when it doesn’t rain,” said Aaron Shirley of Skirt PR.

It was the last of five performances for the Cults in Chicago, and by way the crowd was
dancing, it was an obvious success. “Cults” is the first album from The New York duo The
Cults. The indie- pop group released their album in June of 2011, with two of their hit
singles—“Go Outside” and “Most Wanted” becoming great summer anthems.

The Gilt City audience was visually excited about the live performance and swarmed
the band’s platform as they fending off the rain. “It’s going to be interesting to see how
it works, ‘cause we’re not going to be able to see our instruments,” said Brian Oblivio,
guitarist and keyboardist for The Cults. As towels and tarps were thrown over amps,
instruments and other technical gear.

“He [Brian Oblivio] didn’t like the music that I listened to and I didn’t like the music he
listened to. So the kindof music we make, is music that we both like,” said Madeline
Follin, Cults frontwoman.

“We both kindof resolved on 60’s pop, it was the one thing we could put on and feel
good about, and relate to each other on. I think a little bit of both sides [Follin and
Oblivio’s music preferences] comes into it, like a melting pot, but that was the base
music that we were both like ‘I’ve always love this music,’ so it was natural that kindof
came out when we started making music together,” said Oblivio.

The Cults were sharp and tight, with strong choruses and emotive lyrics, with patrons
stacked to the roof edges, displaying both an inviting sound and terrific stamina. “Is
anyone else hung over?” Oblivio asked the audience during his set. The Cults gave
those lucky enough to be at Gilt City an incredibly special performance.

After the Cults’ set, The Hood Internet closed the party. They kept the momentum
going; by playing an array of songs stemming from great rock classics to remixes of
contemporary favorites. “It was great, people seemed to really get into the music,” said

The audience was just as excited about The Hood Internet as they were about the Cults’
live performance.

People stripped down to bikinis and swim- trunks and refreshed themselves by jumping
into the roof deck pool. Beach balls were being tossed around, in an impromptu version
of volleyball that lacked any form of organized rules and yet, everyone got involved.
Unfortunately, by the end of the party there were a few beach ball causalities. All but
one ball ended 28 floors below the roof deck, but that didn’t stop the fun.







































Kerli’s Trip Through Wonderland

By Zuzanna Skwiot

“Love is the only thing that matters,” says Kerli, an Estonian artist who recently performed at Chicago’s three-day festival, Lollapalooza.

And she applies that motto to both her life and her music.

When she began writing her upcoming album, to be released this fall, she looked for inspiration in everything.

“For my first album, I was waiting for inspiration to come to me,” she says. “This time, I went out and looked for it.”

That included traveling, hiking and much time for yoga.

“I worked on my spirit a lot,” she says. “I always think one step at a time and I always come out as a winner.”

Her debut album, Love is Dead, was released when she was only 21 years old and she hasn’t slowed down since.

Now 24, she has several accomplishments under her belt.

She recently performed at Lollapalooza, an opportunity she deems “amazing,” appeared on the soundtrack for Johnny Depp’s 2010 animated movie, Alice in Wonderland, and even wrote Demi Lovato’s latest single, Skyscraper.

“I originally wrote [Skyscraper] three years ago for my own album,” she says. “But my version doesn’t hold a candle to her song. She definitely made it her own.”

And she took her songwriting skills to her own album. Co-writing each song on the album was not enough – she is also producing the album.

“I am in a center place and I am constantly doing more on the album,” she adds.

With this album, she is hoping to make a drastic departure from the dark undertones from her debut album.

“My first album came from a dark place,” she says. “This new one is really focused and almost a concept album.”

Her inspirations? The early 90s and European culture.

She is, after all, a native Estonian. Though she currently resides in Los Angeles and spends most of her time there, she still maintains strong ties to her home country.

“When I go back to Estonia, I’m treated normally,” she says. “I take the bus from the airport a few hours to my house.”

She even will be performing at a private party for the Estonian president.

When reflecting over her career thus far, she is both humble and appreciative.

“It’s been amazing,” she adds. “I’m kind of on a trip.”

Lollapalooza: Storms Can’t Wash Away the Madness

By Kimberly Cummins & Zuzanna Skwiot

Rain and shine, Lollapalooza 2012 lived up to its party-rocking reputation. The three-day, eight-stage festival covered everything from EDM and DJ-driven beats to rocker-friendly sets.  With headliners featuring Black Sabbath and the Black Keys on Friday, Frank Ocean and Red Hot Chili Peppers on Saturday and Jack White on Sunday, there was never a shortage of artists to see. From huge names to up-and-comers, the variety of music reminded concertgoers why this is one of the hottest festivals of the year.

The Shins Crank It Up

When the Shins begun their set at the Red Bull Soundstage, the sweaty concert goers were treated to a collection of songs both old and new. Frontman James Mercer led the crowd to a sing-along of “Caring is Creepy” and later the newest “Port of Morrow,” all the while keeping the masses swaying, cheering and dancing.

As the crowd dispersed from the Shins’ performance and traveled en masse to the nearby Sony stage, Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau of M83 began their hour-long show. The setting sun and the cooling breeze, coupled with M83’s surprisingly drowsy performance, calmed the crowd. The headband-wearing, Camelback-drinking, high school-aged crowd sang and whistled along to the softly-amplified music. From “Teen Angst” to “Midnight City” and “A Guitar and a Heart,” the usually high-energy electronic music seemed more relaxed and before the finale, much of the crowd had left to see Ozzie Osbourne and Black Sabbath across the park.

When the sun finally set and the Red Bull Soundstage once again populated, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel took the stage. Clad in a baby blue dress shirt and khaki cargo shorts, the former White House Chief of Staff personally introduced the Black Keys for their second Lollapalooza appearance.

The immediate melodies of “Howlin’ for You” drew massive cheers from the crowd, and the excitement failed to cease for the rest of the set. Accompanied by a fireworks show on the lakefront, the energetic yet simple set kept the crowd engaged. Even when frontman Dan Auerbach rested and drummer Patrick Carney performed solo for the next few songs, the rhythmic swaying and clapping continued. The appearance of a giant silver disco ball in the later half of the performance was a great addition and perfect accompaniment to “Strange Times” and “Nova Baby.” When the set ended with “I Got Mine” and a bright cadenced lights show and “The Black Keys” backdrop faded to black, the crowd’s roar easily tuned out the blaring Bassnectar performance just across the street.

Florence & The Machine

After a stormy Saturday afternoon, Sunday started off with smaller crowds, but picked up early in the afternoon. Indie lovers flocked to see Florence and The Machine on the Bud Light stage, while others rocked out to At the Drive-In, playing on the Red Bull Soundstage. Jack White shut down the festival on Sunday night with his signature sound.  Not even the muddied grounds could stop the fun—by the end of the night, mud was the most fashionable accessory for concertgoers.

Ck One Lounge

While crowds scattered across the city once the sets ended around 10 p.m., VIPs and Chicago insiders headed to the official ck one Lolla party at the Hard Rock Hotel. Sponsored by The Greater Miami Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, ck one set up a Miami paradise in the middle of downtown Chicago. The It’s So Miami Oasis brought together nationally-loved brands such as GUESS, Motorola Mobility, Clearasil, DISARONNO, New Era, Coors Light, vitaminwater, SOUL by Ludacris, Rock the Vote, Blue Microphones, Vita Coco Coconut Water, Nico Lives.  From hip new headphones from SOUL by Ludacris, to Clearasil’s PerfectaWash system, partygoers got the first glimpse at some of the season’s hottest items.

Chicagoans had their eyes peeled for celeb sightings all weekend, but the ck one lounge was the place to see and be seen.  While Ryan Cabrera relaxed after his ck one performance, B.O.B, Kelly Osbourne and Jenny McCarthy all mingled with attendees throughout the night.

Even more celebs came out during the day, when hot temperatures made the lounge the city’s coolest refuge. Michelle Williams, Michael Pena, Rose McGowan and many more were spotted hanging out on the plush beanbag chairs and sofas, or playing ping-pong in the VIP area. Josh Henderson was one of the reigning champs on the ping-pong table, and Dev dished about her own beauty secrets near the ck one makeup table. Across the board, VIPs, artists and Chicagoans alike enjoyed sipping on Disarono cocktails and Vita Coco Coconut Water.


Rolling Basslines with DJ Zebo

DJ, producer, professor… is there anything DJ Zebo doesn’t do?

With 15 years of history in the music business, DJ Zebo is still making new waves in the music industry after being recognized as one of Newcity Magazine’s Top 45 Musical Artists in Chicago. “It’s nice that after all the time, I can still get recognition from people and show them what I do,” Zebo said.  Fellow Chicago artists Kanye West and The Smashing Pumpkins also made the list.

Chicago’s rich musical history has been the inspiration for many artists, and Zebo is one of them. Using the city as an inspiration, Zebo is able to connect with locals while also opening Chicago up to new audiences. Taking part in one of Chicago’s biggest music festivals, Zebo played on Friday during Lollapalooza on the PlayStation stage.  “I try to push a little Chicago flavor, especially at a place like Lolla where a lot of people want to come in and experience Chicago,” he said.

Besides playing sets at both of Chicago’s big music festivals—Lollapalooza and Northcoast Music Festival—Zebo was recently asked to be resident DJ at Wicker Park hotspot, The Mid. But ask him to define his style, and you get one simple answer. “I just play good music. I try to just find different styles of music,” he said. “I think that’s part of what makes me successful is being able to do a bunch of different styles and play a wider range of events.”

From weddings to high-energy club parties, Zebo has pretty much done it all. But there’s a lot more to Zebo that playing music, he also teaches. With such a deep knowledge of music, Zebo has a unique opportunity to share his passion with others.  Students at Columbia College get the chance to learn from the master of the mixer in their two-part DJ class. And the learning goes both ways. “There are kids that show me cool new things all the time. It’s not just them coming in and learning from me, I learn from them too,” he said. “I’m getting older and older every day. It’s just nice to have a way to keep in touch with that market, especially the underground and emergent college kids.”

Experimenting with new styles and new talent is just one of many things that has kept Zebo inspired to create music. “You always give people songs that they know to make it fun but you try to incorporate some new stuff,” he said. His biggest inspiration, though, comes from everyday people pursuing what they love. “Kids that really get into new stuff and go out and aren’t just there to be at the party, I think they inspire me more than artists that I play.”

Greene to the Scene

Washed Out Weathers Their First Lolla 

By Jamie Degraaf

Ernest Greene is a pretty average dude: he rips movies via torrent sites; he found his college degree to be useless; he loves ABBA music and he fell into fame by posting unassuming bedroom-recorded tracks on his Myspace. Three years of being a darling of the music blogosphere, an album and multiple EPs later, the 28-year-old Georgia native graced Chicago with his musical brainchild, Washed Out, for their first ever Lollapalooza performance on August 4.

Greene is perched on a chaise longue in a dim corner of Crimson Lounge after his DJ set at the Samsung Galaxy SIII Lollapalooza after-party. “I don’t really consider myself any sort of DJ,” he laughs self-deprecatingly, “But this is a great way to wind down—I’ve got a drink and I get to play music I like.” After his day of dealing with flooded stages, rescheduled set-times and throngs of muddy fans, his looks like he’s on his last leg; his hair is ruffled and he sports a rumpled asparagus-colored polo and a double-strapped backpack, beer in hand.

As all of Saturday’s performing artists would probably agree, Greene feels conditions on day two of Chicago’s largest summer music fest made for a “weird day.” At 3:30, the entire festival grounds at Grant Park were evacuated and artists and fans alike hung in limbo waiting for the skies to clear. “There was a lot of stress and craziness,” Greene remarks, adjusting the strap of his backpack. “The stage got completely soaked and effed-up some of the equipment.”

Despite the torrential downpour, a few hours later Greene was happy to tweet “Our set is NOT washed out @lollapalooza!” and took the stage at 7:30 p.m. “We had to set everything up in half the time,” he says, shrugging, “but once we got out there, we just put the stress behind us and did our thing—it went well.” Washed Out has played at their share of poorly managed festivals and Greene was wowed by how efficiently the chaos of the day was handled.

Greene is modest about his success, embracing the designation of his music as a “bedroom recording project.” After graduating in 2009 with a degree in library science that failed to pay the bills, he moved back in with the ‘rents and took to his childhood room to begin recording music he’d been tinkering with for years. As he posted tracks online, they were hungrily embraced by bloggers and later that year turned into Washed Out’s EP, Life of Leisure.

Greene coined Washed Out’s synthesized chill-wave sound “dreamy pop” and his musical tastes and influences are constantly evolving. He notes his current inspiration as 70’s poppy disco, like ABBA and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound production technique. “ABBA took things to the next level in the disco world,” Greene says. “There are weird similarities to what they do and what I do with Washed Out—I’m trying to connect the dots to make it presentable and cool-sounding.”

Touring season is winding down for the band with Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco next weekend, followed by a handful of other mid-west shows. After October, they have no more shows until the next record, but Greene gives no clues on how soon fans can expect it. “I’ll just keep working after we stop touring,” Greene says. “I’m a bit of a workaholic. But the inspiration is there, the passion is there, so I just keep rolling.”








Smash Mouth Rocks The White Light White Night Fundraising Gala

By Vanessa Bisetti

Being charitable has never been more enjoyable than at the sixth annual White Light White Night event put on by the Walk with Sally foundation. Walk with Sally, founded by Nick Arquette, provides mentoring support programs for children whose parents or siblings currently have or have died of cancer.  Every year hundreds attend the dress-to-impress event all with the mindset of contributing to the amazing cause, and having fun while doing so.

A red carpet led guests into the event where the mood was set for a good time with Patron as the main sponsor.  The all white affair had the “Taste of South Bay” with samplings from local restaurants to provide decadent food for the evening.  While an opening band played, people enjoyed cocktails, food and great company before gathering near the stage for the live auction.  Luxury trips, meals with the finest chefs, and a variety of other offerings were auctioned off raising record amounts of money for the foundation.

The fun had only just begun; after the successful auction, guests came to their feet and surrounded the stage for the live concert from Smash Mouth.  Catching up with lead singer Steve Harwell proved to be far from boring as the witty, charming and very personable celeb dished on his rock star life.  Starting in a rap group Harwell made the switch to rock, as the rap business had lost his interest.  That switch that he describes as the best thing he ever did changed his world.  The band that began in 1994 has changed, with Harwell and Paul de Lisle being the only two original members, yet it has not affected the dynamics of the band.  Smash Mouth is releasing a new album in September that according to Harwell is “fucking amazing…the best record we’ve made in seven years.”  Harwell continued to say that fans could expect this album to be more mature, but still be very fun.

Harwell himself has always had a hand in contributing to others.  At home he always helped out especially around the holiday, such as going to food banks and homeless shelters.  Last year, a bet of $20 was offered to Harwell if he ate twenty-four eggs; this turned into a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, raising over $10,000.  Good friend and Food Network star, Guy Fieri, stepped in to cook the eggs for Harwell to eat.  “I almost threw up two seconds into it,” laughs Harwell, “Guy put everything I didn’t want in it.”  Playing at the White Light, White Night event was no question for Harwell stating, “Everything they’re talking about, I’ve been through.  So yeah, it’s special.”  Though he showed a soft side interviewing, the rocker’s wild side came out on stage with “I NEED A SHOT!” being Harwell’s quote of the night during Smash Mouth’s rocking concert.  A wild end to an amazing night benefiting the Walk with Sally foundation.

Photo by Kurt Steinmetz