Author Archives: M Fund

China's Indie Music Market And Livehouse Status Quo

An Interview With Meng Yuliang Of Blue Stream Bar And Yuppie Monkey


Meet the Republican Who Launched the 'Ready for Kanye' PAC

Following Kanye West’s VMAs declaration that he wants to run for president in 2020, 24-year-old Baltimore-native Eugene Craig on Monday registered and filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to register the Ready for Kanye political action committee.

Craig, whose favorite Kanye album is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, spoke to Rolling Stone about his reasons for starting the PAC and how he’s preparing the world for President West.

Why did you file the FEC paperwork? Do you feel like you’re making a statement?
I think it is a statement. It’s a couple of things going on. First, it’s an opportunity to reach voters who ordinarily would not be in tune to the process, who are apathetic to the process. The second part of this is that a party that can openly accept Donald Trump has room for Kanye West. Donald Trump is shrinking the party — I’m a member of the Republican Party — and Kanye West brought us an opportunity to actually grow it. Thirdly, we have a gentleman in Mr. West who 1) stands for small business and entrepreneurship, has spoke out against corporatism; 2) is a school choicer, and has spoken about the racial disparities in regards to public school systems; and 3) has openly spoken out against the war on drugs and the pipeline that the war on drugs provides to the private prison systems. I think if you were to put those issues on a piece of paper and say, “What kind of candidate is that?” that sounds like a Republican candidate to me. And barring — and this is very important, I hope you quote this — barring a sitting Republican president — because that’s the only way I will support this, is if there’s no sitting Republican president — if Kanye is going to run in 2020, I would love to see him run in a Republican primary. He brings a lot to the discussion that’s missing.

How much money do you plan to raise for West’s campaign?
Right now, we haven’t discussed it. We’re not necessarily looking to raise money for Kanye, but I do think that if there’s no sitting Republican president and he decides to run, it would be nice to have some data mined and voters reached.

Why did you decide to do this now, when the 2016 election is still over a year away?
If we’re going to grab people who are interested, it’s best to strike when the iron is hot.

What do you think Kanye West can bring to the United States?
He brings an interesting foreign policy. He’s not for occupying every country in the Middle East. That’s a discussion that needs to take place right now.

Would you say that’s the platform West should run on?
I think it would be a great platform for him to run on.

Who should be his running mate?
I have no idea.

That’s fine. Do you have any dream candidates?
I am a very, very adamant Rand Paul supporter. I am supporting Rand Paul in 2016, but I wouldn’t throw Rand into that mix. I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

How serious are you about this campaign?
This started out as an operation to engage voters who probably would not have been reached otherwise, but over the course of the day, I think… I’ll say this. In the age where Donald Trump is the leading contender for Republican nomination, anything is possible.

What’s your political background? Have you run for office before?
I have run for office before. I’m active in Maryland politics, but more importantly, I’m the current chairman of the Young Minority Republican Fund.

What do you think West needs to do in order to prepare for 2020 election?
Stay in tune to the issues of the day. I would say start reaching out to both sides of the aisle. I know he came up in the Chicago Democrat machine, but I think Kanye is somebody who is cross-cultural, and I think he is somebody who can be cross-political.

How do you think Kanye West’s run for presidency could affect the Kardashian reality show series empire? Any concerns about possible security breaches because of the Kardashian connection?
No, I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure they already have pretty tight security.

Do you think that the White House would be open to having a reality series in its midst if he was to win?
I’m pretty sure he’ll put an end to the series. One thing about Kanye is that he takes the things he works on very seriously. When he’s working, he’s working. So I think he would take this just as seriously.

If West decides not to go through with this campaign or tell us it was all a joke, will you have regretted filed the FEC paperwork?
No, not at all. If you live a life where you mean to do what you do, and you mean what you say, you can learn from everything. If he doesn’t do it, he doesn’t do it. If he does it, he does it. I just hope that if he does do it, he does it as a Republican.

David Bowie, Aerosmith, Flaming Lips Pen Songs for 'SpongeBob Musical'

A surprising collection of musicians will write songs for an upcoming theatrical production of SpongeBob SquarePants, dubbed The SpongeBob Musical. David Bowie, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Cyndi Lauper, Flaming Lips, John Legend and T.I. will all contribute original songs to the show. Bowie’s tune will feature additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton, who is also contributing his own song.

Other artists who will be contributing songs to the production include Lady Antebellum, Dirty Projectors, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T’s and They Might Be Giants. The SpongeBob Musical is set to open on July 3rd, 2016 in the Windy City at Broadway in Chicago’s Oriental Theatre. Preview performances will begin on June 7th. It will then open on Broadway in the 2016 – 2017 season.

The show’s producers describe the musical as a “rousing tale of a simple sea sponge, who faces the unfathomable,” and they go on to describe the show as “a celebration of unbridled hope, unexpected heroes and pure theatrical invention.”

Director Tina Landau (Superior Donuts) will lead the show, which features a book by Kyle Jarrow (A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant) and music supervision by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal). Casting for the show has yet to be announced. Tickets will go on sale in October via the theater’s website.

“We’re taking our leads from the TV show, but this is an original story with an original design approach and original songs written just for the occasion by an amazing array of songwriters,” Landau said in a statement. “We will present the world of [SpongeBob’s habitat] Bikini Bottom and its characters in a whole new way that can only be achieved in the live medium of the theater.”

Earlier this year, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water was a commercial success, becoming the Number One hit its opening weekend. The series premiered on Nickelodeon in July 1999 and has since become Viacom’s most widely distributed property ever, with translations into more than 50 languages.

The production’s most surprising contributor, David Bowie, previously lent his voice to the show in 2007, according to Pitchfork. He is also in the process of developing the characters from his movie The Man Who Fell to Earth into its own musical, Lazarus. He’s writing new music for that production, which will star Dexter actor Michael C. Hall.

Zedd Names Scout Winner Of Guitar Center's Cover Me And Announces Scout's Winning "I Want You To Know" Remix Will Be Released September 4th Via Interscope Records

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 31, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Multi-platinum GRAMMY® award winning artist Zedd announces Tyler Acord, aka Scout, as the winner of Guitar Center’s Cover Me program. Scout, a DJ and producer from Seattle who’s remix of Zedd’s hit single “I Want You To Know” FT. Selena…


What T-Pain, Ja Rule and More Really Think of Donald Trump

All across these United States, the same unlikely word echoes from one town to the next: Trump! Could the MTV Music Video Awards in Los Angeles be so different? Did the billionaire presidential candidate’s name come up again and again on the red carpet this weekend?

No. But we conducted a short survey anyway about the man from artists on their way into the VMA’s, asking one simple question: “Trump 2016. What do you think?”

Ja Rule: “Trump is very entertaining. He speaks very openly and candidly about what he feels. I think it’s a breath of fresh air for everybody to hear it. It’s not always the politically correct thing, but I think that’s what people are enjoying about Trump being in the running…. Trump is crazy. He has always been an outspoken person. I’m not shocked by anything that comes out of his mouth at all. He’s like a rapper.”

T-Pain: “He’s got a hell of a PR person. He’s got money — allegedly — and he’s got PR. I think it’s great. Do your thing, man. If he can win, who can stop him? It will be a huge deal. I will probably move to Australia, but good luck you guys.”

Grandmaster Melle Mel: “I just hope we don’t have a moron for a president. He’s being a bully basically. The president of the United States doesn’t need to be a bully.”

Kat Graham: “I like when there are candidates who are such a contrast to what would normally be the appropriate decision, because it forces issues to come up…. I don’t really have an opinion on him. I treat it as a bit of sensationalism — like Fox News. I don’t watch Fox News. But I’d invite him to dinner. I’m absolutely not taking it seriously, but you know what, the guy has a brilliant mind.”

Grandmaster Caz: “Any other president would never talk like that. The average person in New York doesn’t support that mentality.”

Charlie Puth: “I know Donald Trump says ‘China’ a lot. He’s always been like a celebrity. It’s probably better to never, ever talk about political things because people hate you. They’ll beat me up if I say something wrong.”

Watch the Tragic Trailer for Kristian Bush's New Documentary

It’s been four years since the stage at the Indiana State Fair crashed to the ground minutes before a Sugarland show, killing seven people who’d shown up early for front-row seats. More than 100 others were injured. Bandmate Kristian Bush is still reeling from the disaster, which kicked off a string of tragedies that unfolded over the following 12 months, including a divorce from his wife, a lengthy lawsuit with families affected by the stage collapse and an ongoing break from one of the most successful country duos of the 21st century.

Those challenges — and the new songs they helped spawn — take center stage on Walk Tall: The Journey of Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, an upcoming documentary that makes its television debut next week. Broadcast in 80 different markets across the country, the hour-long project finds Bush talking candidly about the hardest period of his life, mixing interviews and concert footage with shocking clips from the Indiana concert. 

“By the time I got to the Indiana State Fair,” Bush says during the film’s trailer, “I was already going through a divorce that was so private that even some of my closest friends didn’t even know about it. And then that day, the stage fell. . . Music’s not supposed to do that. Nothing about music is ever supposed to hurt anybody.” 

For years, ongoing legal issues kept Bush from addressing the stage collapse in public.  Looking for an outlet, he turned to music, whipping up a batch of songs that eventually formed the foundation of his solo debut, Southern Gravity. That album hit stores this spring, one year after Jennifer Nettles released her own solo record, That Girl.

“The amount of sad it took to get to the happy was gigantic. But I don’t want to make a sad record. All I could really do is write music, even if I couldn’t talk about what’s going on in my life. In collecting these [songs], I realize you kind of leave them for yourself along the way,” Bush told Rolling Stone Country in April. “Putting together a record of joy has been really hard, but I’m so proud of it. And if it’s helping me, maybe it’ll help someone else.

Taken as a whole, Southern Gravity and the documentary go hand-in-hand, with the film an inside look into the life of a musician who, for years, was often seen as the sideman, letting his big-voiced partner take most of the lead vocals. As it turns out, the guy has a lot to say.

Carrie Brownstein Lines Up Questlove, Amy Poehler for Book Tour

Sleater-Kinney guitarist/Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein will release a memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, on October 27th via Penguin. That same day, the versatile performer will kick off a book tour at Brooklyn bar Saint Vitus, joined in conversation by Roots drummer-producer Questlove. The 11-date jaunt, which runs until November 17th, will feature notable guests throughout – including Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live cast member Aidy Bryant and writer Dave Eggers, Pitchfork reports. 

Brownstein will appear October 28th at New York’s Barnes & Noble location at Union Square. The trek will continue through Philadelphia on the 29th (with Bryant), Chicago on the 30th (with Pitchfork editor Jessica Hopper, as part of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s “MCA Talk” series), Austin on November 1st, Los Angeles on the 3rd (with Poehler), San Francisco on November 4th (with Eggers), Portland on the 5th (with an unspecified “special guest”), Seattle on the 6th (with screenwriter Maria Semple), Montreal on the 16th and Toronto on the 17th. A full list of dates is available online. 

Penguin describes Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl as an “intimate and revealing narrative of her escape from a turbulent family life into a world where music was the means toward self-invention, community, and rescue. Along the way, Brownstein chronicles the excitement and contradictions within the era’s flourishing and fiercely independent music subculture, including experiences that sowed the seeds for the observational satire of the popular television series Portlandia years later.”

“It pretty much ends with Sleater-Kinney going on hiatus, and a little bit of leading on from that,” Brownstein told NME of the memoir. “But it doesn’t even really go onto Portlandia.”

Brownstein is no stranger to literary conversations. In March, she interviewed former Sonic Youth co-founder Kim Gordon, in a sprawling, charmingly awkward talk to discuss Gordon’s memoir Girl in a Band: A Memoir.

Inside the 2015 VMAs: 8 Questions We Asked From Our Seats

“I don’t understand award shows!” Kanye West declared last night with real agony in his voice during a long, emotional speech at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. He was there to pick up the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, but had other worries on his mind. So if Yeezy himself is at a loss at the meaning of these ceremonies after winning 21 Grammys, multiple Moonmen, American Music Awards and other amazing prizes, how are the rest of us to cope?

By the end of two and a half hours inside the Microsoft Theatre, we had our own questions about this year’s VMAs show.

1. Did host Miley Cyrus think offering mild criticism to Nicki Minaj in a New York Times interview wouldn’t mean facing some wrath on show night?
Taylor Swift already learned not to argue with Minaj over her complaints about why “Anaconda” wasn’t nominated for the top prize, and the two made up enough to perform last night in matching red. When Minaj picked up Best Hip-Hop Video soon after, she threw the show back to Cyrus with a sneer and a smile, savoring the moment: “And now, back to this bitch who had a lot to say about me the other day in the press: Miley, what’s good?” The host was caught off-guard but didn’t crumble. She offered a refreshing perspective that might even help Kayne, recalling her loss two years before for Best New Artist: “Whatever. Because it’s no big deal! It’s just an award!”

2. Where was the rock?
Pop and hip-hop now clearly dominate the VMAs. Proof enough of MTV’s dim view of guitars in 2015 was that the once-prominent Best Rock Video award was handed out quietly in the pre-show (to Fall Out Boy for “Uma Thurman”). Later in the telecast, newcomer Tori Kelly did deliver a fiery “Should’ve Been Us,” wailing and slashing at a guitar. And Cyrus brought out Oklahoma avant-gardists Flaming Lips and some RuPaul’s Drag Race dancers for her new song “Dooo It.” But the days when Axl Rose and Kurt Cobain were engaged in metal vs. grunge stare-downs at the MTV gathering are a long, long time ago.

3. Should so many of the best moments be somewhere else?
Inside the Microsoft Theatre, ticket-holders were watching some of the most memorable performances on TV like the rest of you. Blocks away beneath the marquee of the old Orpheum Theatre, things got ramped up early as cameras followed Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing their new single “Downtown” with hip-hop originators Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee and Melle Mel. Later, Pharrell took the outdoor stage for a soaring “Freedom.” Meanwhile in the main room, guests sipped champagne and ate popcorn and M&Ms while watching the jumbotrons like they were at an oversized Super Bowl party.

4. If Kanye is really running for president in 2020, and presumably running against President Trump, can he be his own running mate?

5. Just why was Justin Bieber crying?
Bieber’s comeback performance of “Where Are U Now” at the VMAs began with the singer in a tango with a two-man camera crew, capturing his every dance step up close and blocking everyone’s view inside, until they were chased off the stage by his dancers. The song ended with Bieber soaring abruptly into the air on wires, twirling high above the stage, then landing and pausing to shed a few real tears. Was he caught up in the emotion of his comeback, or just afraid of heights?

6. Can we throw out the script?
Along with the musical performances, the most memorable moments at the 2015 VMAs were of the spontaneous and unscripted variety: Minaj vs. Cyrus, Kanye vs. the world, Miley flashing the camera, etc. Compare those with the bit when actor O’Shea Jackson Jr. and his dad Ice Cube prepared to present Video of the Year, and Jackson read a manufactured father-son moment on the teleprompter: “Thanks, Dad,” he recited awkwardly, “I gotta say it was an honor to play you in Straight Outta Compton.” Any old-school rapper could have told the producers: Freestyle is best.

7. How about more crowd, less control?
The audience inside the VMAs were split between young fans up front lucky enough to score tickets and the rest of the big room soberly watching from further back, and their reactions throughout the night couldn’t have been greater. As Kanye made his speech, the cheers TV viewers heard were mostly from the kids in front, while much of the rest stood, watched and cringed, mouths open. Most screams for Bieber’s appearance also came from the kids. One exception was when comic Rebel Wilson’s routine using police brutality bombed — it bombed equally around the room.

8. Can Miley come back next year?
The host signed off with a warm “Thank you for tuning into the fucking VMAs! I’ll see you next year!” Not every joke, pre-recorded skit and costume change landed, but there was a welcome spontaneous energy in the room this year. Leading into one commercial break, the announcer said, “And later, what will Miley wear next?” Turned out, not much. After Cyrus accidently flashed a nipple from backstage, she said, “Oh, sorry,” as the camera nervously veered away. But what viewers at home didn’t see (and the theater audience witnessed on the big screens) was that Cyrus then stepped out completely topless, arms raised, unapologetic and proudly careless — qualities that have always led to the best moments on the VMAs.

Hear Slayer's Crushing New War Cry, 'Cast the First Stone'

Plodding, doomy guitars open one of the heavier tracks on Slayer‘s upcoming album Repentless, “Cast the First Stone,” which is now streaming online and available for free download via Adult Swim Singles. The tune soon transitions into a bulldozing, mid-paced thrasher, as frontman Tom Araya sings about vengeance, echoing war cries and devils spitting fire. The LP will be available in full on September 11th.

Earlier this year, Slayer guitarist Kerry King told Rolling Stone that he got the idea for the song while walking around Athens, thinking about all of the clashes that took place there over the centuries. “It’s just about battle, not a particular battle,” he said. “You cast the first stone, I’m gonna win.”

In other Slayer news, the group recently filmed a video for Repentless’ title track at a women’s prison in East Los Angeles. In the clip, “prisoners” – played by Machete star Danny Trejo alongside people who’ve starred in Halloween, Friday the 13th, Predators and other films – stage what the band has teased as a brutal riot. The clip was helmed by filmmaker BJ McDonnell, who directed Hatchet III, and is slated to come out around the release of the album.

As with “Cast the First Stone,” a few of the other songs off Repentless, including the title track, are already available to stream. The others include “When the Stillness Comes” and “Implode.”

The release of “Cast the First Stone” comes from Adult Swim, which has been putting out tracks by a number of artists who span various genres this summer. Run The Jewels, Skrillex, Chromatics, Myrkur and Flying Lotus will all be premiering new songs into October.

Hear Siouxsie Sioux's Haunting ‘Hannibal’ Finale Song, 'Love Crime'

Siouxsie Sioux ended an eight-year songwriting hiatus Saturday night when she contributed a new track titled “Love Crime” to the series finale of Hannibal. The Siouxsie and the Banshees singer’s haunting, strings-laden track was spearheaded by the serial killer show’s music supervisor Brian Reitzell, who spoke to Entertainment Weekly (via Pitchfork) about how he coaxed Sioux to record the track despite the singer stating she hadn’t written a song or entered the studio in nearly a decade.

Reitzell, who previously worked with Sioux on the 2006 film Marie Antoinette, discovered that she was an admirer of Hannibal. The feeling was mutual, as showrunner Bryan Fuller was an enormous Siouxsie and the Banshees fan. “Siouxsie asked [Fuller] for something. What she said is, ‘What is this season about? If you could put it into a sentence, what is this season about?’ And he said that it was a love story,” Reitzell told EW. “She wrote those lyrics without seeing any picture, just because she was a fan of the show. Luckily, it worked absolutely perfectly.”

Sioux’s first – and to this point, only – solo LP Mantaray arrived in 2007. Since then, the singer said she hasn’t felt the urge to work on new music. “Siouxsie hasn’t even stepped foot in a studio for eight years, and she said that this piece was the first thing that she heard that inspired her to do anything,” Reitzell said. “And the good news is that I’m going to do a few more tracks with her. I’ve written a few more, and we’re not sure how we’re going to release the track, and that’s kind of unfortunate, but it will be out.”

Reitzell has an impressive track record of shaking long-hibernating artists out of their slumber: He previously convinced My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields to provide music for Lost in Translation before that band returned with their 2013 LP mbv. Even more surprising, Reitzell somehow persuaded Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis, who all but retired from the music industry following the release of his 1998 self-titled solo album, to lay down some instrumental tracks for the TV show Boss.

In an interview with TV Guide, Fuller reveals that Hannibal‘s broadcasters – NBC in the U.S., Sky in the U.K. – split the bill to record the Sioux track, even though they already announced that the gory drama would not be renewed. “‘I know the show is canceled… and it’s absolutely unheard of for a showrunner to come back to you and ask for more money for a show that has no further revenue potential for you,'” Fuller told the networks. “‘But it’s Siouxsie Sioux and it’s an honor and it’s her first single in eight years.’ They both said, ‘Yes, absolutely, we’ll split it right down the middle, and we’re doing this because we love you, we love the show, and we love Siouxsie.'”