Another month of the coronavirus pandemic has not stopped the Colorado music scene from delivering inspiring music. This month we find local artists taking risks and exploring new musical paths.
Michelle Rocqet of Denver pop band The Milk Blossoms debuts a solo project. Colorado Springs native Joseph Lamar has a new enchanting single "Paradise 1." Lamar also appears on the new summertime track "Lasso" by Seth Evans, better known as Paul Babe.
Nuancer brings the summertime vibes with new electropop jams as does emerging Loveland singer/songwriter ENZI. The new single "Outside" by Foevabeatz is a laid back track for summer evenings featuring local hip-hop royalty Koo Qua. The inventor of eco hip-hop DJ Cavem also joins this month's roster and his latest release comes with a packet of seeds so you can plant some vegetables!
Rock out with Fort Collins' Plasma Canvas, the self-proclaimed "LOUDEST, GAYEST BAND IN THE WORLD" and we feature another northern Colorado duo, the playful indie youngsters Orca Welles.
Discover new artists MODA, which is Spanish for fashion, and Jessica Jimenez. Well-known singer-songwriter John Statz has also returned with a new full-length album and we will highlight a few touching tracks this month too!
Last, we take some time to check in with our artists and ask how their lives have been affected during this historical moment of coronavirus and Black Lives Matter. CPR and Indie 102.3 are committed to equity, access and social justice.
Are you a Colorado musician who wants to be featured in the Local 303? Send us your music.
Meet July's picks:
Hometown: 5POINTS ES. DNVA
Formed: DJ CAVEM of MOETAVATION crew- ARTIST 2005
Latest Release: "BIOMIMICZ," Self-Release, 2019
About: Dr. Ietef "DJ Cavem" Vita the O.G. (organic Gardener) is an eco-hip hop artist, educator and vegan chef from Denver. His songs are about climate change, food justice and eating healthy. He's performed at the White House, and has been featured in Oprah Magazine and on the Rachael Ray Show. His latest album "BIOMIMICZ" was released as a seed pack to spur listeners into action. He's shared the stage with Mos Def, Nick Jonas, Rick Ross, The Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, Snoop Dogg, Wyclef Jean, among others.
Band Website: https://www.chefietef.com/ and https://www.gofundme.com/f/vitaearth
Get Social: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Latest Release: “Retrograde” by ENZI, released June 19, 2020
About: ENZI is an alt-pop artist from northern Colorado. Her ethereal and effortlessly powerful voice paired with catchy yet evocative lyrics have garnered a loyal following. ENZI’s debut single, “Flipside” was awarded a top-five spot at iHeartRadio KTCL 93.3's Big Gig 2018 and has also been featured on MTV’s Teen Mom 2 as well as MTV’s Ex on the Beach. Another song, “I’m Sorry That I” had also been featured in MTV’s Teen Mom 2, and won the grand prize in the iHeartRadio KTCL 93.3’s Hometown for the Holidays competition, earning the opening spot in Denver’s Not So Silent Night event in 2019.
A renowned live performer, ENZI brings her exhilarating songs to life with a high energy show. She has opened for artists such as The Head and The Heart, Fitz and the Tantrums, Walk the Moon, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and more.
Offstage, ENZI is a passionate advocate for mental health. “I want to give life to the emotions and experiences we cannot describe with words,” she says.
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: Now is one of the most important times for music. If you look into history, some of the most influential voices were musicians, from Bob Marley, to Rage Against the Machine, to even The Dixie Chicks. Now you have even more modern artists like Grandson and even Taylor Swift making overtly political songs. Artists and musicians speak directly to and for the people, our songs become the marching anthems.
Band Website: www.iamenzi.com
Get Social: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
Hometown: Lawton, Okla., now based in Denver
Latest Release: "Ain't Around" (Single), Self-Release, 2020
About: Just a dude who loves music coming from Lawton, Oklahoma. Foevabeatz has been producing for over 10+ years and has been featured in a number of Producer Battles, the most recent one being the 2019 Remy Martin Producer Series, Season 6. Foevabeatz has worked with Artist/Producers Famous Dex, Riff Raff, Young Dolph and more.
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: Life-changing to some point, and a blessing to spend more time with family and relax a bit.
Band Website: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1kB7DVaJGsU0kCLTiYsS6h
Get Social: Instagram, YouTube
Latest Release: "Who am I" (Single), Self-Released, March 15, 2020
About: Jessica Jimenez is a passionate American singer-songwriter of R&B and Pop music. Her first single “That's Her” was released in 2017, and it launched her career in her hometown of Denver. The song gained traction and saw streaming success as well as local airplay on 107.1. She had her first live performance in Denver later that year at The Roxy Theater.
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: It is very stressful during this time but I believe there is more of a platform to have our voices heard on important matters such as current events. It provides a connection with the community for an impactful change. To speak our truth to have our stories told. Not just by our words but our creativity.
Band Website: https://www.jessicajimenezmusic.com/
Get Social: Instagram
Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin and living in Denver for 10 years
Latest Release: "Early Riser," Why River Records, May 1, 2020
About: One of the more prolific thirty-something songwriters working in the Folk/Americana genre today, John Statz has released nine studio albums and performed all over North America and Europe over the course of his 14-year career. The Boston Globe has called John’s music electric, urgent folk; aching, sweet country-rock while American Songwriter has said that he writes the kind of songs that float through your mind and stay nestled in your thoughts long after listening. John has worked with some of the best producers in the genre, including Bo Ramsey (Lucinda Williams, Greg Brown) on his 2012 release "Old Fashioned," Jeffrey Foucault (Kris Delmhorst, Caitlin Canty) on a 2015 album "TULSA," and Denver songwriting friend Megan Burtt on 2017’s "The Fire Sermon." He’s more recently taken a turn towards the production chair, self-producing 2018’s "Darkness on the San Juans" and co-producing 2020’s "Early Riser," along with Kate Hannington, Billy Conway, and Jeremy Moses Curtis.
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: What a question. As to BLM, well, I'm absolutely supportive of the movement. The single from the new record, "What Would You Call That?" is a song about recognizing my own privilege as a white man. I hope it's a little bit helpful, but there are people of color whose voices are more important right now, and I'd like to elevate their stories more than my own. As for coronavirus, it feels like a big pause. Maybe quite a long one. I've spent the past 14 years touring all over the U.S. and Europe and I have never spent four months off the road like this, and who knows how many more months until I can return, if it even comes back resembling what it was before. I'm just grateful to have a job right now and that my people are healthy.
Band Website: www.johnstatz.com
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook
Hometown: Colorado Springs
About: Joseph Lamar is a creator + singer + songwriter + producer + storyteller + more. Joseph is a Hebrew name. It means "he will add." "Add" as in Contribution. Creation. Synthesis. Integration. Synergy. UNITY. Through his dynamic work he unites the cerebral and the visceral, the secular and the spiritual, the micro and the macro. He's creating a multiverse, one album at a time.
Latest Release: "paradise" (EP), Self-Released, May 9, 2020. "paradise" is a prelude to the soon-to-be released album S.I.N. [Act I].
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: It's been a mixture of things. COVID-19 has changed the way I planned on releasing and performing my music but I haven't allowed that to deter me from being creatively productive. I'm laying the foundation for my next three albums and learning some new instruments. I've also been doing some introspection and taking time to just be present with myself. With that, I've become more in touch with the rage and grief I feel about bigotry and systemic injustice.
I've been able to excavate my experience and I'm gaining a better understanding of how the trauma of racism, homophobia and the like have affected me. I'm seeing how those evils work on the micro and macro level and it's been eye opening, sometimes vindicating, sometimes depressing, sometimes infuriating... I'm leaning into my emotions and intuition more and that's allowing me to express myself in more profound ways. In a sense, I feel like the Black Lives Matter movement is happening within me. The white patriarchal power structure as I've internalized is being indicted, challenged, a beauty and a driving desire for freedom is emerging. To see that happening within me and around me is amazing. All in all, I'm finding the advantage in the adversity, the opportunity in the obstacle.
Artists have always faced obstacles internal and external. I feel as if the change that I want to see in the world is happening within me. I'm willing myself to evolve in beautiful ways and I'm digging deeper into the healing and transformative power of creative expression.
Band Website: https://www.josephlamar.com
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
Hometown: Aurora, now living in Denver
Latest Release: "Outside" (Single), Self-Released, April 2020
About: Koo Qua is one of Denver’s finest and most respected MC’s. The winner of 2016’s South West Indy Artist Award for “Best Hip-hop Song” (“Caught Up”), Koo Qua has created a lane totally unique to her movement and message. After winning the coveted Westword Music Showcase “Best Hip-hop Artist of the Year” in 2015, Koo Qua has blazed through the music scene, opening doors not only for herself, but other women in the artist community.
In addition to joining the Queens of Hip-Hop as a rap/MC representative, Koo Qua became a member of the “Rap Chicks Do rap Shit” movement, became the headlining MC of the “Girl-Illa” campaign founded by Alisha B, and produced the first Colorado All Lady MC Cypher in Denver at the Gypsy House honoring and empowering Colorado’s women in hip-hop. Koo Qua’s natural performance stamina always shines when she is on stage, her passion showing through her grit and hard-as-pavement rhymes. It’s no surprise she’s amassed a multitude of accomplishments because the culture of hip-hop is about progression and you’d be hard pressed to find a more devoted MC to the rap game.
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: It has been very challenging being a musician during COVID - keeping positive is the key. My experience being a Black Woman in the Music Business of America today has challenged my traditional beliefs and my personal perspective. I NOW want to educate myself more, provide service and assistance where I can and spread more Love and Not anger nor hate. BLACK LIVES Have and Always will MATTER.
Band Website: https://kooqua303.wordpress.com/
Get Social: Twitter, Instagram, Spotify
Latest Release: "Interview" (Single), Self-Released, April 3, 2020
About: Get to know Michelle . . .
Interviewer: So who are you?
Michelle Rocqet: Oh, I'm Michelle. Uh. That's sort of a sprawling question. I guess I'm a musician in town. I'm a vocalist, beatboxer, producer, and educator who's been boppin' around for the last decade or so.
Interviewer: What is this new single all about? What's the deal?
MR: "Interview" is the first single that came out of this new solo exploration. I wrote this song as a way to bear witness to my own self-worth during a time I felt unsure of myself. To make a template for processing all my cry-baby feelings. No one really teaches you how to build self-esteem, it's just something you are expected to have. This project, in general, was created out of a deep personal need for me to relearn how to trust myself and to combat my inner critic who can be annoyingly loud sometimes.
Interviewer: Aren't you in that one band The Milk Blossoms?
MR: Hell yeah. TMB is my ride or die project. The other members are my family. I have grown musically, artistically, spiritually, and beyond because of that group’s existence. We are working on our third record which I'm really excited to record sometime this year hopefully. I also just finished writing a musical with riot-queen, Wheelchair Sports Camp (set for 2021).
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: Both of these things are asking us to reevaluate our relationship to civic responsibility. To ask ourselves what roles we have been playing and which ones do we need to engage with in the future? It is a time of urgency and humility. Both things we have been taught to misinterpret. We often equivocate urgency with instancy and humility with self-deprecation. As a Non-Black artist, my focus right now is to center and amplify Black voices. To love Black People as much as we love Black Culture. To show up. To approach the personal/interpersonal/institutional/systemic work around racism and anti-blackness with an immense amount of care and fortitude. It's difficult and uncomfortable and that's OK. The backdrop of the pandemic also forces us into additional solitude and if solitude is the practice of being with ourselves, we are probably learning a lot more than we would have normally. This time will continue to act as an accelerator and as artists, our only job has been (and will continue to be) to model transformation.
Band Website: https://www.michellerocqet.com/
Latest Release: "MODA MODA" (Single), Self-Released, May 1, 2020
About: One of us took three of us hostage for ransom money. Three of us got Stockholm Syndrome due to similar tastes in fashion and music. Four of us made a band and used the ransom money to make music. Fashion forward. Fashion Backward. Fashion Forward. Fashion, you're welcome. Rob, Andy, Carlos, Jon... MODA
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: It's like being the rope in a tug of war between two horses. With COVID you're compelled to withdraw from society and with BLM you're compelled to speak out and engage. I don't know how much being musicians factors in for us (none of us have ever made a living with our music) but like everybody we're feeling the gravity of both.
As of now, we haven't written anything that explicitly works either in, but it's stewing. I will say, as a white dude, I have very unsure footing right now, and I think that's a good thing. I've had a relatively comfy life, and shaky legs are a necessary step in learning something new. Building muscle where there is none. Empathy where there is fear and ignorance. Music where there is silence and noise.
Band Website: https://modadenada.bandcamp.com/releases
Get Social: Linktree
Latest Release: I've been doing a single/month thing with more to come. Currently, "Cherry Baby (feat. Cereza)" out July 1, 2020; "Let's Go To The Swimming Pool (feat. Big Dopes, Queen Eider, Jeepy Slesus)" out June 1, 2020; "High (feat. Hello, Mountain)" out May 1, 2020; "Old Town Road (feat. Midwife)" out April 1, 2020; "Yeah You" out March 1, 2020.
About: "Nuancer, the solo project of Danny DiMarchi ... is the soundtrack for heartbreakers and broken hearts. Nuancer builds upon a longing desire for something more — a recognition of the elevated seasons’ vibes without losing the authenticity of a sadboi lifestyle." - Ellie Herring, 303 Magazine
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: It's horrible and weird and scary and challenging and exciting all at the same time. At first, being a musician in quarantine was novel. It felt like a new challenge to adapt to, but as time has gone on, it's feeling more like a death sentence. The scene is dead. Everyone at the level of self-sufficiency with touring has just bottomed out. Who knows what things will look like in two years? All of my friends' bands probably won't be coming back. Livestreaming is the worst as well, for both the performer and the listener.
Something will have to change, and something new will come to be. Whoever is the first to figure that out will run the industry. I have given up the notions of success with my musical outlets a long time ago, so I'll leave that opportunity open to the next wave.
In regards to BLM, not that much has changed. Artists have always had a responsibility to call to action and mobilize their followers towards positive social change. The only thing that has changed is that it has now fallen into fashion to do so. Politically subversive messages in art are becoming amplified to a point where people are finally just starting to hear them. While I do have my concerns about the abundance of meaningless virtue signalling, it brings me great joy to finally see action instead of empty promises and I hope the momentum continues. I've participated in the marches nearly every other day and still see my own motivation to continue dwindling. I hope that we, as a group, don't succumb to the laziness/fear/comfort/anxiety and that we continue making a real impact for improving the lives of marginalized people.
I am donating all profits that I receive from sales/streams of Nuancer music & merch until Jan 1, 2021.
Band Website: nuancer.bandcamp.com
Get Social: Instagram
Hometown: Fort Collins
Formed: Circa 2017 in a partially-finished basement
Latest Release: "Orca Welles," Self-Released, May 10, 2019
About: Orca Welles is a surfy/garage-rock band dreamt up by Liv Baxter and Alec Williams. While difficult to put into words, if Dick Dale and Brian Wilson had a baby, the Pixies adopted it, and Conor Oberst/Courtney Barnett were the godparents, you’d probably get something close to the “Orca Welles” sound. Though the genre is difficult to define, the band's tunes have been enjoyed by many -- from music-guru friends to the many grandmothers who have found their way to a show. There is truly a little something for everyone in Orca Welles.
Liv and Alec cut their teeth in Eastern Nebraska’s prolific DIY music scene before heading west to the Front Range to establish more permanent roots. Soon enough, weekend shows with groups like The Beeves and Meeting House became staples in Orca Welles’ diet. Following the release of their debut EP, “Many Years to Go,” Orca Welles toured the midwest and shared the stage with psych-rock icons, The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Thereafter, the band headed back to Nebraska where they recorded their first full-length record with Jeremy Wurst of Coyote Face Recording. After the release of their LP in 2019, Orca Welles hit the road again, playing twenty-five shows across the country that summer– including one with indie cowpoke, Ben Kweller.
Since, Orca Welles has undergone many transitions. After rounding out 2019 with shows back in their Nebraskan stomping ground, Orca Welles has focused intently on writing tunes. Though Liv and Alec live further apart than ever, they’ve collaborated to assemble the beginnings of a second full-length record.
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: Most years as a musician are interesting. This year, particularly so. We were in the midst of a run of shows in the Front Range when the states began to place restrictions on group gatherings. We ended up cancelling the final show days before Governor Polis instituted mandatory social distancing rules. What we thought would take a couple months to blow over has stuck around; it’s really made those shows back in March feel special. While no one wants to be in this position, we intend to keep up with social-distancing measures, follow mask-wearing advisories, and withhold from congregating in sweaty basements for punk shows until it is absolutely safe to do so. That probably means no shows for us in the Front Range until 2021 at the earliest, but it's worth waiting for the safety of the community.
After COVID-19 spread across the country, the perpetually-manifesting issues of White Supremacy flared in dramatic fashion when news about the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, James Scurlock, Elijah McClain, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery painted our screens. The situation necessitated diverting our attention away from self-promotion and songwriting, and demanded we focus our energy on issues plaguing Black communities. That has entailed a self-reflection on how we, as non-Black artists, can do more to support Black musicians, Black-owned/run venues, and Black voices in our community. Our music can wait.
All non-Black artists have work to do. Our band has work to do. Our scene has work to do. The work will require continued engagement. The work is crucial. Non-Black musicians, we implore you to do the following: (1) re-channel your creative energy into supporting Black artists and Black-owned venues; (2) re-channel your creative energy into making space for Black artists; (3) re-channel your creative energy into eliminating racism from your band and your scene; (4) re-channel your energy into using your social media platform to learn and share information about Black-led movements. We need serious societal reform and to defund institutions, such as the police, which perpetuate white supremacy. The Front Range music community can have a significant, ongoing role in taking action against racism by advocating for Black artists and communities.
Band Website: https://orcawelles.weebly.com
Hometown: Brooklyn/Denver/Twin Cities
Latest Release: "Lasso" (Single), Self-Released, May 15, 2020
About: With an American alt-pop sound that’s unique from start to finish, 2020 is the year of the Babe. The design of singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Seth Evans, he draws inspiration from his Great Lakes upbringing. Perhaps most notably so by taking the name Paul Babe from the giant, superhuman lumberjack of Northwood's lore who’s faithful companion was the Blue Ox, Babe.
The music is based on ambition, raw feelings, natural occurrences; moments big and small that were always meant to happen. His process goes like this: he attempts to make beautiful sounds and then proceeds to mangle and screw them up. Obsessing over spaces but not entirely minimal, the finished product often depicts a deceptively dense aural terrarium. The drum arrangements sway a little bit electro and a little bit organic. In his hierarchy of songwriting and production priorities, melody always reigns supreme. When the cake finally comes out of the oven it is often a homemade, gritty, and sometimes rough but bonafide result.
Made during a period of significant loss in Evans' life, the songs ultimately carry undertones of positivity and hope for the future. Moments of trying to find the good in horrible situations. Realizing that there is beauty in the scars. These elements helped to inspire and mold his music into what it has become today, and what an odyssey it is.
After many years in Colorado, including fronting former band Rossonian, you are currently based in New York. What do you miss about our local scene: I miss my friends the most. Also the UMS. I miss walking around Baker during the festival, seeing everybody and just being happy. I miss some of those random mountain gigs too. I also think about Chubby’s and El Taco De Mexico on almost a daily basis. I guess this isn’t technically the ‘music scene’ but it kind of is.
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: It feels hopeful. I am so enthralled to witness the beginning threads of real change in our country and also see the movement for equal rights spill over into the rest of the world. I am proud and grateful to be able to take part in marches and demonstrations here in NYC and see the genuine joy and passion in people's faces while moving through the streets.
We recently marched from Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn all the way to Central Park (some ten miles) and played on our percussion instruments the entire time. The energy did not deplete. Marching with a large group of musicians and adding together in an evolving, collective rhythm is a gift. This and the display of community shared between thousands of people moving and shouting together is something more powerful than I have ever really experienced before. So for this I am excited to be alive and truly have hope for the future. As an artist I honestly feel somewhat helpless as I don't know how to contribute meaningfully to the movement. I have never written anything socially relevant before and I don't want to put something out into the world unless I believe I can genuinely make someone feel good, or better, or hopeful...That being said I do feel an intense desire to contribute and to be helpful but I just haven't found the voice yet.
COVID has me confused. I am still fearful of it and I won't be leaving the house without a mask anytime soon. I am grateful for all the healthcare and essential workers who are saving people's lives and my thoughts and love go to the families and individuals so affected by the virus.
Band Website: www.paulbabe.com
Get Social Handles: Instagram, Facebook
Hometown: Fort Collins
Formed: April 2016
Latest Release: "KILLERMAJESTIC," SideOneDummy Records, June 12, 2020
About: THE LOUDEST, GAYEST BAND IN THE WORLD
What's it like being a musician during this historic moment: Having a huge tour cancelled and not getting to play shows really sucks! But it doesn't suck nearly as much as COVID-19. We're taking heavy precautions and plan to continue to do so until it is safe to play shows the way we play them. Until then, we're happy to be able to give the world some new music to listen to.
We will always stand with black people and against the systematic and institutionalized racism and militarized police brutality of the United States criminal justice system. We stand with protesters who have been maced, tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and exposed to stun grenades for peacefully holding a sign and demanding justice for the countless Black people who have died at the hands of police.
We would like to use this space to also mention that the first Pride was a riot started by a Black transgender woman named Marsha P. Johnson, who threw a shot glass at a mirror at the Stonewall Inn on June 28,1969, kickstarting a revolution. LGBTQ+ rights were fought for and won by Black transgender women standing up to police harassment and brutality. There wouldn't be #Pride without Black people, and as the loudest, gayest band in the world, we will always lift up and stand with Black people.
Band Website: https://plasmacanvas.bandcamp.com/, and our label www.sideonedummy.com
Get Social: Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
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