Image courtesy of Brown Concert Agency
Interviews by Marie Lachance
Tonight at midnight, BCA will release the Spring Weekend 2019 lineup at their annual release party, providing Brown students with their long-awaited answer to who will be gracing the Main Green on April 26 and 27. This year, the party will take place on Tuesday, March 19th at 9:00pm at The Met. The release party itself has a killer lineup, with three student bands performing before the news drops at midnight: Baird & The Backyard Byrds, Fizzle, and Sebastián .Otero y la Ponina. I chatted with each of the performers to see what they’ve been working on recently, and how they’re feeling about the upcoming gig. Get to know the performers and pull up tonight for good tunes and (hopefully) good news!
BAIRD & THE BACKYARD BYRDS
Baird Acheson on vocals
Paul Davis on drums
Michelle Bazille on bass
Baird is a multi-talented dude: He writes, sings, produces, and plays all of the instruments for his music. The result is a beautiful blend of heavy electronic beats, electric guitars and dreamy lyrics which Baird calls “Space Rock.” In November, Baird released his first mixtape, BIRDSONGS vol. 1. On Tuesday, he will be playing with his band, Baird & The Backyard Byrds, a performance which he says will “differ quite a bit” from the mixtape, but bring tons of energy regardless. I had the opportunity to chat with Baird about his mixtape, the upcoming gig, and what comes next.
Your debut album is called Birdsongs Vol.1… when will there be a volume two?
Baird: Yeah – hopefully there will be some singles in May, and then I’m trying to have it fully wrapped by July.
Your music reminds me of a million different things, in terms of lyrics, beats and production. What does your music remind you of? Any notable influences?
Baird: Ideally, my music would remind me of nothing. The easiest form of analysis is comparison. But in reality, you are what you eat. I try to be intentional about what I dive into and how that reflects itself in my music. In terms of influences… I steal a lot of shit from Stevie Wonder. If I had to guess who the best artist of all time is, I would say Stevie Wonder.
In what areas do you hope this album will grow or differ from the first volume?
Baird: I definitely want it to be more voice-centric. Learning how to record your own voice is low-key so hard… like, people always hate when they hear themselves on the phone, so imagine how hard it is to record something you like! But, I’ve been taking voice lessons.
What inspired you to describe your music as “space rock”?
Baird: I like the idea of calling it rock, because rock is so not cool or “in” right now. The rock is expressed in my songwriting, but spacial in the sense that I’m taking full advantage of technology in my music.
What’s your dream Spring Weekend act?
Baird: JPEG Mafia! No seriously, quote me on that. I love JPEG.
Andrew Javens on tenor saxophone
Charlie Saperstein on guitar
Deven Carmichael on trombone
Elana Hausknecht on trumpet
Gabe Schillinger-Hyman on keys
Kaycie Sweeney on vocals
Kingsley Ejiogu-Dike on vocals
Michelle Bazile on bass
RayJ Jackson on vocals
Sammie Scott on vocals
Teddy Beaudoin on drums
Zach Kapner on alto saxophone
Fizzle is a collective that began on Brown University’s campus last year. With 12 members and several different instruments, Fizzle brings hip-hop, jazz, and soul influences to their music, along with the energy of such a large group. Although Fizzle doesn’t have their music recorded yet, they have big plans to do so shortly after spring break. You may or may not have heard them live at house shows at Brown, the RISD lawn party, and Gigs on the Grass, but you have the opportunity to see them this Tuesday as well. I had a chance to sit down with Charlie, RayJ, and Andrew and chat about what Fizzle is up to and how they’re feeling about the upcoming gig.
How did y’all meet? What inspired Fizzle?
Andrew: Freshman year I was living in EmWool, and I had met Gabe through music stuff on campus…
Charlie: Yeah, so me, Gabe, and Zach were all just jamming in Gabe’s room, and Andrew comes in and is like I gotta get my sax… we gotta start a band!
Andrew: I always had a dream about being in my own band. And I finally found this one group of people who I liked making music with. So I posted a selfie on Facebook with Gabe asking for vocalists and horns in the class of 2021 page. I actually didn’t tell a bunch of people who were already in the band that they were in the band.
RayJ: For me, I knew I wanted to be in the arts, because Brown has so much to offer there. I saw the Facebook post, and since I had been looking for something to do, I was like, “hey, I sing a bit!”
Charlie: The point is, from then on, things kinda fell into place.
Fizzle is such a large group… what are the best and worst parts of being in such a large collective?
Charlie: I feel like the best part is just the volume we can get out of such a big group. We can layer in singers and horns which is cool.
Andrew: Also, we get a diversity of strengths – there are some people who are highly specialized.
RayJ: The size really helped when I was leaving for a year. I knew there would be a sound that was missing, but I also knew they would pick it up, and they did.
Charlie: Yeah, and the worst part is just scheduling.
What does the songwriting process look like for such a large group?
Charlie: It depends on the song. Sometimes, Andrew is like “I have some chords, what do y’all think?” Zach is an unbelievable song writer, and Sammie will always bring her own ideas into songs.
Andrew: Kingsley too! People rarely check in on him, but he’ll just come back to rehearsal with insane ideas and is totally ready to go.
RayJ: Yeah, Kingsley is a huge asset for us.
Andrew: Gabe is also an incredible songwriter. He’s very jazz focused. But, yeah, I mean there’s not a lead songwriter or really a point person for it.
What is your favorite song to play live and why?
Charlie: I know what Andrew’s is! We have a song called “What I Want…” and he has a huge solo in it.
Charlie: But also, we have this song that is kinda untitled, we just call it the “Kingsley Feature”... it’s incredible just watching Kingsley do it.
RayJ: Like seriously, anything with Kingsley.
Andrew: Kingsley is our secret weapon for sure.
Describe your favorite crowd – what would they be doing? How would they be reacting to your music?
Charlie: Our Findy show was pretty ideal. People were having such a good time, and since we were so close to the crowd, we could really feed off their energy.
Andrew: Ultimately, I’m there to have a good time, and I want other people to be having a good time too. I wanna facilitate a good time for everyone! Feeding off other people’s energy is super possible when I’m sweating because people are literally breathing on me.
RayJ: An engaged audience is super important. I don’t know what happens to me before I perform, but I literally change. I try to bring this energy regardless – but I want the audience to reciprocate or do even more.
Andrew: I want people to dance! It’s so cool when people are moving as a unit through the performance.
What is your dream Spring Weekend act?
RayJ: Tank and the Bangas! They really put poetry to music.
Charlie: Tom Misch. Tierra Whack would be awesome too.
Andrew: Bruno Mars. I fuck heavy with Bruno Mars’ energy. I love the way he is on stage.
SEBASTIÁN Y LA PONINA
Sebastián Otero on vocals
Paul Davis on drums
Gabriel Schillinger-Hyman on bass
Baird Acheson on guitar
John “Johnny” Page on trombone
Andrew Javens on tenor sax
Yale Friend on trumpet
Sebastián Otero is a senior at Brown, and a singer-songwriter, violinist, rapper, and producer from Puerto Rico. His music uniquely merges R&B, nueva trova, hip-hop, soul, and Afro-Caribbean elements to create something entirely new. Although his original live band, la Ponina, was formed in Puerto Rico, he will be performing on Tuesday night with six other Brown students. Sebastián is super excited for the show on Tuesday night, come check him out to see him and his band!
What excites you about playing this gig?
Sebastián: I’m a senior, and this will probably be my last gig as a Brown student! Also, this is a quite massive event, so it gives me a good opportunity to grow my fan base.
Have you done a lot of shows for Brown students in the past?
Sebastián: During my first three years at Brown I performed a lot. I was part of a collective called Richard, and we were the best stress-reliever band on campus. We performed in basements quite frequently as well as four years in a row at Campus Dance. Along with that collective, I also performed my own music -- at first with beats, and later with a trio.
What’s your favorite song to perform live and why?
Sebastián: I don’t think I have a favorite song to perform! Every song I do live has its own magic and personal emotion attached to it so I pretty much give it all in every one. I don’t like prioritizing songs in my setlist. I do enjoy a lot playing songs I can interact with the audience and make them sing along.
Any favorite Spring Weekend acts in the past?
Sebastián: Erykah Badu without a doubt!
If you could pick any Spring Weekend headliner, who would it be and why?
Sebastián: Right now, I would go with Nathy Peluso. She is killing it and I think the Brown community would love to see her work. I have not seen her live, but I am sure she delivers a powerful, energetic and fun performance.
Clearly, tonight will be an exciting show. BCA recently announced set times: Baird & The Backyard Byrds are on at 9:30, FIzzle at 10:15, and Sebastián .Otero y la Ponina at 11:00. Make sure you get to the venue early so you can catch all of their sets. And check out Baird and Sebastián .Otero on Spotify!