My fascination with Diet Cig started when I saw them open for The Front Bottoms and Brick + Mortar last year. At that time, they had one 5-song EP and two singles. Almost exactly one year later, they dropped their first full length album, I Swear I’m Good at This. Frontwoman Alex Luciano keeps it real with her audience and her unbridled honesty makes her lyrics so much more relatable. The opener of the album, “Sixteen”, details cringey moments of dating someone with the same name. Luciano addresses many relationship struggles and problems commonly encountered as one enters adulthood, or at least tries to.
Among the sweet melodies and talk of relationships are discussions of heavier topics such as gender roles and consent. On “Maid Of The Mist”, Luciano spits out “I am bigger than the outside shell of my body and if you touch it without asking then you’ll be sorry”. Luciano may refer to relationships and seemingly mundane topics, but she remains feminist pop-punk and empowered. “Tummy Ache” and “Link in Bio” is where some of this feminist frustration boils over.
Overall, Diet Cig nails combining a young innocence with ferocity and empowerment. They blend elements and themes together in a bubbly, dancy pop. I Swear I’m Good at This is an amazing debut album and I’m excited to see where they go from here.
Diet Cig will be stopping by Seattle on April 28th at Barboza. If you’re able to attend, I highly recommend. The energy present in their music is multiplied by 10 at their live shows. Luciano jumps, kicks, and is an amazing ball of energy. She’ll make you dance even if you’re unfamiliar with their music. You can grab tickets for that show here.
There was nothing like soul-infused Tuesday night when Jacob Banks hit the stage at Barboza.
Watching flashes his fans a stunning white smile, while shyly saying “Hi, I’m from
London,” we felt nothing but warmth for the soulful artist as he sang a cover
of Corinne Bailey Rae’s infamous “Put
Your Records On.”
Originally from Birmingham, England, the British
singer-songwriter first became active in 2012, when he was the first unsigned
act to ever appear on BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. Influenced by a multitude of soul,
R&B, and hip-hop, Banks first recorded his debut EP The Monologue, released in 2013, with his top hit “Worthy,” a popular
play on various stations. A tall, brooding man with a bright smile, Banks cites Jake Gosling, Bondax, and Knox Brown as some influences and reminds us of a combination of Benjamin
Clementine, Seal, and Jack Garratt.
Soft smooth vocals always seemingly complemented by melodic piano, Jacob Banks
is crossing genres often acoustic singer-songwriter ballads, like tracks “Homecoming”
and “Hostage” on his EP The Monologue.
Yet, the man has range, both vocally and emotionally, demonstrated in “Something
Beautiful,” also seen on his EP The
Monologue. On his newest EP The
Paradox, Banks delves more into
soul and R&B, experimenting with melodies in his vocal range, seen in “Home,”
and “All Mine.”
Playing fan favorites from his newer EP, Banks succeeded at demonstrating
a mix of softer vocals and instrumentals in Unknown,” while demonstrating a
hard, grittier audible aesthetic in “Sink or Swim.” Highlighting the soul aspects
of his set list, the British artist catalyzed a complete feeling of union and
communal love, as the audience swayed in unison to “Home,” a song similar in
feeling to any calmer Stevie Wonder
a nice complement to the upbeat and diverse sounding track “Monster.”
Finally ending his set with new single “Unholy War,” the
audience vibe completely shifted as we all came together and empathized together
with the emotion in Banks’ vocals as he glided on the stage and crooned chorus “Let
love lead you home, oh no/ Let redemption keep you warm.” And just as Banks climaxes
as he reaches as the height at the bridge taper off, the audience in parallel also
We stop, we sway, we close our eyes, and we dance as the
rest of the chorus plays out.
Jacob Banks has reached a new level of soul, and it’s dipping
into funk—and we’re sort of hoping he continue only to reach new heights with
his artistic creativity.
Jonathan Capeci and Joey Beretta, the two artists composing
alternative pop band NIGHTLY, cousins from New Jersey, are about to shake up
6 year locals of Nashville, the road to music started young,
with both artists finding themselves with their first instruments at age 10. “When
we were young, we got matching guitars,” Jon said fondly, “but we hooked up at
16 or 17 and that’s when we started making music, instead of just going to
class. It was just something we did back where we lived, in high school, you
were either in sports, or in drugs, or in a band. And we were in a band.”
“We grew up in Jersey,” Joey added. “We moved to Nashville
about 6 years ago, and have been writing back and forth between LA and
But the start out at 16 in New Jersey wasn’t an easy path
for the two young artists. “In Jersey, the thing is, when we there weren’t that many
venues to play that were all ages. We would play bowling alleys, pool halls,”
Joey pointed out. “I remember there was a place that was like Goodwill
downstairs and upstairs of a huge room that you could rent out to place shows.
It was a cool community as far as kids who wanted to go to shows. Whereas in
Nashville there are so many venues that makes music just a part of the culture.
With performing in Jersey, if you wanted it, you really had to make it work.”
The two grew up, and moved out to Nashville and started
getting serious about putting work out there. They started flying back and
forth between Nashville and LA, writing, producing, and hoping to blow up. The
two cities, the boys, say, are different, but close their hearts when writing. “We’ve been writing for the past year, just a
lot of different feelings, doing everything in our bedrooms in Nashville or LA.
We have a lot of songs we’ve written, so when we were picking four tracks for
the EP, it was hard figuring out what we wanted our first impression to be.”
And with many songs written, and already known for killer
single “XO” that portrays an ethereal fluid filled musical journey, we wanted to
know what kind of vibe the two artists wanted to portray to their future fans.
“The thing is, we’ve been in bands for a long time and we’ve
never just been honest and told real experiences,” Joey explained. “And I think lyrically this is the best work
we’ve done—and as far as our listeners, I think people can relate to the real
us and our real experiences. And I think the music behind it just captured the
feeling that was in the room.”
Jon adds, “I think with us, the thing is, the things that
inspire us don’t always have to be musical. I feel inspired by TwentyOne
Pilots but nothing in what we do is any way related to them. So, there’s
inspiration there in the sense that I appreciate their work. But then there’s
also the type of inspiration where I’ll say, ‘Dude I love that sound of this
kickdrum.’ There’ll be influences like
that where I’ll draw from melodies— from like Miguel’s kind of vibe. And then
classic guitar bands like U2 or Coldplay, where we get an ethereal feel. But
even like a picture can be inspiring or drive out at night together. A lot of
times too if you’re doing the same thing, taking yourself out of the headspace
of doing the same thing—like listening to Kanye—can be a refresher for what
you’re actually doing.”
The alt-pop duo has their start with their 4 tracks out and
proud. But what’s next?
“In the future we really just want to expose our music and
building our fan-base. We’ll spend the next year exposing the EP and
touring. Because we could have put a
year and lot of money into an album and no one hears it. So right now, we want
to put out creative content, like music videos and little projects that are
weird but fun. We’re seeing a lot of new cities on this tour, and I think
performing in the UK would be good place.
When asked about future collaborations, Joey says “It’s so
hard you know because I would love just meet and hang out with John Mayer but
is be necessarily the apex of what we’re trying to do? No definitely not, but I
would do anything to meet him.”
Jon says, “For me, just some super dope chick would be cool. Tove Lo, Sia, Miley Cyrus. I’m a sucker for female vocals. We probably wouldn’t
collab with a guitarist so it would probably be a rapper or a female vocalist.
All my favorites are female vocals though—like Lady Gaga would be dope.”
Joey adds with a smile, “Ellie Goulding too.”
No doubt the two will get their dream collaborations while
they’re on their way with their EP Honest,
now on Spotify. Check it out.
Walking onto her tour bus, we were taken aback by Kristine
Flaherty Halloween skeleton costume, but her kindness and warmth radiated from
her body as she said hello. 31-year old artist,whose stage name is K.Flay, didn’t
start music at a young age. Raised in a suburb of Chicago, Flaherty was just a
normal kid growing up. It wasn’t until she moved out west that she found her
“I didn’t know music in the Chicago area,” she said. “I
didn’t start making any sort of music until college. It wasn’t until I moved to
the west coast bay area music. In general, college and university setting are a
place to just be open to ideas—whether they’re cultural ideas, political ideas,
academic ideas. I started listening to a lot of west coast rap. Just a lot of
music that has been previously unknown to me. A bit more left of center. Stanford was a great place to be for me just
because it was a great incubator for all these ideas and thoughts I was having.
And I could explore that in a low-risk environment. There was a pretty good
scene there. There was a lot of people from Stanford who went on to make music
so it was a good community. I finished school and released my first mixtape.”
And even then, although the future artist was surrounded by
talent, she didn’t expect her career to take off. “I had no aims of any sort of
music trajectory,” she sheepishly said. “I sort of wanted to do research based
sociology. And then music just sort of happened.”
And it did. One mixtape turned
into 4 mixtapes, 4 EPS, and one studio album. Her latest EP Crush Me, just
released with latest sick single “Blood in the Cut.” And although the artist
has blown up since early 2003, she was modest about her early beginnings.
“My understanding of dynamics was
very limited when I first started. I just didn’t understand sonically how to
create something that had true peaks and values and took someone in different
directions. There’s a certain logic to that and I think it’s something you figure
out when you’re beginning.”
The modesty was unexpected, but
refreshing with as good an artist as K.Flay. Something else we found unexpected
was when we heard that Warped Tour was the one festival that helped K.Flay grow
as an artist. We were intrigued why.
“It’s totally vibe-less. It’s
bright out, it’s hot, there’s no atmosphere, there’s no lights, you don’t know
your set time until that morning and it could as early as 10 am or as late at 7
pm. To me it was a real test of how to break down the basics of a real
performance. You can go see a show and it’s shrouded in darkness and haze, you
don’t even know what the artist looks like and it’s cool right? I guarantee you
if you saw that in the light of day, you would not think it was cool. So, I
think it reminded me of a show ultimately performance is about looking people
in the eye, connecting with them and conveying something that stay with them.
Things like lights and atmosphere shouldn’t be the foundation of what you do,
the foundation of what you do should be your music and the other things should
And with smaller Halloween shows like the one she played
last night, she was in her element. “At
a show like this at Barboza I’m looking people in the eye, we’re connecting and
creating this experience together. At a festival, you don’t have that ability,
but you can reach a huge audience and there’s something fun about playing big
stages where you can run around. So, I think a balance of big and little shows
is the ideal.”
What’s next for K.Flay? Hoping for collaborations in the future,
K.Flay laid out something she thinks would be dope. “Every collaboration that
I’ve done has been a very organic process of give and take—someone sending me
something or me to them and just seeing if it’s a shared process. And I think
those collaborations are the most fruitful ones I’ve done because I think when
things are structured or planned, it feels forced and doesn’t create that
energy. I’d like to do something with Unknown Mortal Orchestra. He’s got an
interesting story and a great song-writing perspective, with him being inspired
by classic hip hop breaks.”
And although K.Flay is influenced
by hip hop, she wouldn’t classify herself as a rapper or hip hop artist. “I can
rap and it is part of what I do,” she explained. “I think a lot of what I do
sits in between genres—and I think I’m just embracing that— and I’m not
trying to put any defining characteristics on it. I draw influence from a lot
of honest vocalists. Right now, I like and am listening to the new Glass
Animals record, where each song is about a person. And I think I really
appreciate it because it’s honest to an experience.”
Genre hopping real experience
music is what K.Flay hopes to convey and at Barboza she fulfills her goal.
Engaging the audience thoroughly, the artist’s vocals are studio album quality,
with a performance attitude that causes you to take a step back. There’s no
stopping with K.Flay and we hope only for more.