Tuesday, December 20, 2011

AURA Music & Arts Festival Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 2

The second issue of the AURA Music & Arts Festival newsletter that I have been writing. This issue features Aquaphonics, Fusik and J2K and an overview of the festival site Forever Florida Ranch.

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Included In This Issue:

  • Know Your Aura - Forever Florida Ranch, St. Cloud, Florida
  • Artist Spotlight - Aquaphonics
  • Local Love - FUSIK
  • On The Radar - J2K
  • Featured Bands - Upcoming Tour Dates
Know Your AURA: Forever Florida Ranch in St. Cloud, Florida

A return to the 4,700 acre eco-ranch and wildlife conservation area will set the tone for the foundation of the third installment of the Aura Music & Arts Festival this coming March. The remote location boasts nine unique ecosystems ranging from pine flatwoods to marsh and cypress domes. The feel of a real, almost untouched Florida environ is in full effect when roaming the festival grounds. The drive into Forever Florida builds the isolation theme as the dirt road takes you deep into the natural surroundings before reaching the retrofitted festival area.
The region is home to countless varieties of flora and fauna including alligators, black bears, nearly 200 species of birds and even the endangered Florida panther. Small lakes sit right in the middle of the concert area and provide a natural aesthetic facilitated by the terrain. Beyond that, there is also the presence of streams, forests, pastures and wetlands. The scenery is really the perfect backdrop for a music getaway free of distractions and hell bent on emphasizing the most natural thing in the world - music.
Geographically speaking, the Forever Florida location could not be better at serving as a central point for Floridians traveling from all over the state. If you're driving, it is just 2 hours from Tampa, 3 hours from Miami and Jacksonville, and 5 hours from Tallahassee. In addition, Downtown Orlando is only a short 30-minute drive for any out of state folks that want to fly in.

Artist Spotlight: An Interview With Jessiah Weston of Aquaphonics
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Aquaphonics have been hard at work making a lot of noise in the South Florida region. With the release of their new Headline EP and a string of shows opening for bands like Perpetual Groove and Cope, the dance-fusion rock trio has solidified their status as a local gem with the potential for fueling much more in the way of success. I caught up with drummer Jessiah Weston amid his busy schedule of relentlessly playing all the Southeast Florida venues the band can get their hands on.
A certain level of being enigmatic, from a sound perspective, seems to be something you guys have embraced. What is the proper way of describing the collective sound that Aquaphonics aim to produce?
I think for the most part we want to make feel good dance music. But that is just the canvas for what we are really trying to achieve, which is a connection point, the energy exchange that takes place between audience and the band. Personally it is my church, it's a realm that I will never be able to explain with words.

As of right now, you do not have a true bass player, yet you creatively fill that role. How do you pull that off?
We have the talent of [keyboardist] Alan Martinke to thank for filling that role. His ability to independently play the bass with his left hand and the rest of his key parts with his right still blows my mind to this day.

Do you foresee adding in a full time bass player in the future?
We have had sit-in guests, as well as a full time bass player from time to time in the past, but for a permanent situation it is going to take the perfect fit. With our location, which is in the middle of nowhere, it might take some time to find that person, but yes it is something that we would like to eventually have.

Aquaphonics are returning to AURA this year. What are your thoughts on having a hometown festival that features lots of Florida bands and brings together the local fanbase?
We truly love AURA! It was the first festival we ever played, so that is always going to be dear to our hearts. Daryl is one of the first people to ever help us out. He does an amazing job with AURA, and we are blessed to be a part of the third year.

Lyrically it seems you guys are inspired, or motivated, by progressive thinking and even revolutionary/activist themes. How important are these things to you personally and in reference to the creation of music?
I'm probably most to blame for that. I have always been somewhat of an activist, and I've always seemed to incorporate my views into my music even before Aquaphonics. I have come to realize it is all about subtlety. I have to stop myself at every gig from going on some kind of rant because I know my ideas do not represent the band as a whole. My approach is to send the message subconsciously through the energy I put into the music and with that, the lyrics have more meaning.

Given recent events relating to that and musicians that joined in efforts such as Occupy Wall Street, how important do you think it is for music and artist to play a role in movements such as this?
Musicians and artists can reach and affect a lot of people. I think this can be good and bad in theses situations. I think if the message is peaceful and positive, then it could be used in a powerful way to unite the people. The sound of music is more important in this movement then most might think, whether it's the beat of the drum that the protesters march to, or the soundtrack of that amazing video that inspired you. I personally would like to be more involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement and take part in the dialogue, but my location prevents me from doing that. I do my part locally by choosing carefully what I spend my money on and what company's I support.

You recently released an LP of live staple tracks. What is the writing process like for you guys? Do you have any new material that you are testing in the live setting?
We don't write as much as we should, and the process changes from time to time. Sometimes we write as a two-piece with just myself and Steve [Elmore], or myself and Alan, and sometimes we write as a three piece. One thing for sure is the songs we write are never done, and that's the beauty of it. We are still developing as a band so we try different things to see what people respond to. Every Aquaphonics show is a test in a sense.

Any plans for future studio releases?
Nothing for 2011 but we really want to spend some time in a studio and hope to do so in 2012.

Are there any charities or philanthropy that Aquaphonics are involved with?
We have some great ideas for when we get to that point, but currently we are limited to just playing free shows or a benefit for a cause that we believe in collectively. We look forward to getting more involved in food and water quality awareness. It is one of my biggest passions and so very important worldwide.

The near future looks bright for you guys, what would you say we should expect from you guys between now and AURA?
We really want to tour! I know these things take time but our goal would to do a Southeast run before AURA so more people can get familiar with our music. We also have plans to write a lot more new music.

Local Love: FUSIK
fusik banner Originating as a goal driven project with the sole intention of restoring the artistic integrity of hip-hop, the quintet known as Fusik has evolved into their namesake - a fusion of music. With the sharply honed trade tools of high-energy beats, funked out rhythms, polished solos and intricate compositions, these guys bring a totally unique sound that was built for danceability.
Early 2011 saw the band traveling across the pond for performances at international BBoy events in Nates, France and Warsaw, Poland. The globe trotters didn't stop there directing the mometum to Calaya, Mexico for a break out show that drummer Daniel Felix Garcia describes as one of our best internal performances. From there, a spot at the Outbreak Hip Hop Festival in Los Angeles punctuated an impressive touring rap sheet and secured them as the favorite live band for break-dancers worldwide.
Right now, the guys are translating that energy from their touring success to the City of Progress studio in North Miami. Their third album will drop in early 2012, and the first single, On The Fly, will come out on a 7 inch 45 RPM vinyl in December. The AURA veterans will ice a huge year with the Outbreak Hip Hop Festival World Finals before bringing their dynamic, homegrown fusion of hip-hop, jazz and funk to St. Cloud, Florida.
On The Radar: J2K
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Coming off an official after-party following Bassnectar's performance in Gainesville this past weekend, the trio choose to self-describe themselves as what took eons for quantum particles to align to construct the glorious trio of doom. J2K might be a progressive rock band with dance music tendencies and fusion accents, but they are more sonically inclined than these descriptors. Clean, deep bass rhythms, ethereal synthesizers, driving drums and smooth guitar work have earned these guys stage sharing rights with everyone from Dumpstaphunk to Big Gigantic, as well as AURA veterans Papadosio, Zoogma and The Heavy Pets.
Right now they are in the studio putting the finishing touches on their first album, which will feature fan favorite selections Spaghetti and Meatballs and Like Your Face. In November, they support Archnemesis at home and in St. Petersburg before bringing in the New Year with a slot at Bond Fire Music Festival. Look out for these guys on the front lines at AURA!



  • December 11th in Winter Park, FL at OUTBREAK 7 Hip Hop Festival


  • November 4th w/ Archnemesis in Gainesville
  • November 5th w/ Archnemesis in St. Petersburg
  • December 31st at the Bond Fire Music Festival

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