Local Music Music News and Interviews

Prabir and the Substitutes On-Air Interview

by Spaceman Spiff

This past Thursday was a busy day for Prabir and the Substitutes! After being stuck in traffic, the band dropped by the 5 o’clock Shadow for an in-studio interview with Mikey P and me. Then, the band headed to Tir Na Nog where they completely rocked out WKNC’s weekly Local Beer Local Band Night with Chapel Hill natives Embarrassing Fruits.

Considering their hectic touring schedule, I was excited to have such a relaxed discussion with the band about their music. Prabir and the Substitutes are a pop-rock group from Richmond, Virginia with a knack for melody and harmony and a keen appreciation for the joys of playing music. Appropriately enough, we discussed the trials and tribulations of touring and the many ways the band keeps their lives enjoyable (everything from maintaining an amusing website to smashing their instruments after their shows). We also spun some great tracks off of their new EP “Hello.”

Check out the interview below!

Prabir and the Substitutes interview

In today’s digital world, it’s great to see a band that cares so much about the physical release of an album. I love having something I can hold in my hands when I buy my music—the thrill of driving to my local record store, thumbing through the collection, talking with the clerk as I pay, peeling off that damn sticky tape before prying open the cover, admiring the pictures in the liner notes—owning the physical CD gives me more of a connection with the artist.

In the 1960s, the single was the primary means by which an artist released their music before bands like the Beatles and the Beach Boys demonstrated the artistic importance of the album. In 2007, Prabir and the Substitutes demonstrated their respect for the physical release of an album by intending for the duplicate copy included with their EP, Share, to be given to a friend. The group might not save the physical album from certain doom, but they’re putting up a valiant fight.

Concert Preview

Artsplosure this weekend

Artsplosure, the Raleigh arts festival, celebrates thirty years this Saturday and Sunday with a little help from 88.1. WKNC is the media sponsor of the North Carolina Stage, which will feature music by Annuals’ alter-ego Sunfold and Mel Minton & the Wicked Mojos, winner of Artsplosure’s Be That Band contest.  Mel and his band will be opening for Saturday’s festival headliner Buckwheat Zydeco. Big Bad Vodoo Daddy will close things out on Sunday. WKNC favorites Lonnie Walker will also grace the main stage for a Saturday 6 p.m. performance.

The complete schedule, along with everything else Artsplosure has to offer, is at

Music News and Interviews

Daft Punk Revealed

This 13-year-old video of Daft Punk performing without costumes in Furthur, Wisconsin has been circulating the internet. Wikipedia makes the following statement about the video:

… a rare bootlegged video featuring the duo in Wisconsin matches the verified identity of Thomas Bangalter. Less clearly seen, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo is to Bangalter’s right and is mostly cut off from the camera. Comparing the artwork packaging of Homework to the video footage, one can verify that the album’s liner note photo was taken during this event.

So, why does Daft Punk wear costumes now?

Daft Punk have said that they donned their robot masks to easily merge the characteristics of humans and machines. However, Bangalter later stated that the costumes were initially the result of shyness. ‘But then it became exciting from the audiences’ point of view. It’s the idea of being an average guy with some kind of superpower.’ When asked on whether the duo expressed themselves differently within the robotic suits, Bangalter stated ‘No, we don’t need to. It’s not about having inhibitions. It’s more like an advanced version of glam, where it’s definitely not you.’

More about Daft Punk’s approach to managing fame is in the Wikipedia article.

New Album Review

Ryan Leslie Marches to the Beat of His Own Drum

WKNC Pick of the Week 3/17

Every so often, music producers are able to make the transformation from behind the scenes to becoming a recording artist seamlessly. Such is the case with Ryan Leslie, who has emerged as a promising star in the R&B world, releasing what will be called one of the best R&B albums of 2009, the self-titled Ryan Leslie.

Leslie, a Harvard University graduate by age 19, was first signed to Universal Records, in 2003, and later released 2 singles, “Used to Be” and “The Way That U Move Girl”. The singles failed to chart, and the album, Just Right was shelved indefinitely. Without support from his record label, the singer, song- writer, multi-instrumentalist and engineer began to produce for acts including Cassie, Danity Kane, and Beyonce with the proceeds financing his own project.

Ryan Leslie, the long awaited debut entirely mixed, produced, written and arranged by Leslie and kicks this off with the up-tempo synth-induced retro R&B sounding “Diamond Girl”. On the albums lead single, Leslie sings of how he’s found the one that’s he’s ready to “put the rock on”. On “Diamond Girl” and throughout the album, Leslie does his fair share of rapping and it works.

Next up is the second single, “Addiction” featuring Bad Boy artist Cassie and Fabolous, where Leslie, explains his obsession with a lady love. The live multilayered arrangement makes it one of the albums best.

Following “Addiction” is “You’re Fly”, an ode to a woman Leslie feels is the pinnacle of beauty. The cut is reminiscent production-wise of legendary R&B group Frankie Beverly and Maze with its catchy melody and guitar riffs.

“Quicksand”,” Valentine” and the piano drive “I.R.I.N.A” are stand outs on the album. “Quicksand”, a funky groove which sounds like a Neptunes production, has Leslie telling how he is “emotional” falling deeply in an inescapable love, while the Keyboard-driven “Valentine” has Leslie professing his love to a prospective mate. The organ influenced I.R.I.NA, Leslie explains how love has no language barrier.

On “Wanna Be Good” and “Just Right”, Leslie tries out his falsetto invoking the spirit of Curtis Mayfield, while proclaiming how he lives to please the perfect woman for him.

The hard-hitting third single, ”How It Was Supposed To Be”, Leslie asks questions of what could’ve and should’ve been with a relationship gone awry, while the more melancholy while “Out of the Blue” and “Shouldn’t Have to Wait” have a more bluesy vibe and conjure of feelings of infidelity and commitment.

Closing out the album is the very appropriately titled “Gibberish”, seeing as you can only understand every 10th word. Vocoder and finger snaps in tow, Leslie expresses the moments of speechlessness that may occur when we meet that special someone.

Ryan Leslie overall is a mid-tempo feel good album with tales love and longing, featuring a combination of live instrumentation and heavily synthesized tracks. And although Leslie may not display the vocal acrobatics of Maxwell, his fresh approach, multi-faceted production and engaging lyrics make him one of the best chances R&B music has to survive, but only if he continues marching to the beat of his own drum.

New Album Review

Jazmine Sullivan is “Fearless”


Released 9/23/08 on J Records

Many have said that “Hip-Hop is dead” and that R&B is on life support, waiting for the plug to be pulled. Turning on the radio, you are likely to hear a singer with elementary lyrics and minimal vocal talent, using auto-tune. Enter Jazmine Sullivan, a complete departure to the aforementioned, hoping to take R&B back to its roots of powerful vocals,meaningful lyrics and stand-out production with her debut album Fearless. Sullivan, at the relatively young age of 21, is proving that she can help R&B to breathe on its own.

Like many legendary R&B/soul artists before her, including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Marvin Gaye, Jazmine first began singing in the church choir at the tender age of 5. She later made her first television appearance on “Showtime at the Apollo” and at age 15 was signed to Jive Records. The stint at Jive didn’t last, but she did meet her mentor there. Missy Elliot, who executively produced Fearless, helped to create Sullivan’s style which encompasses elements of hip-hop, reggae, gospel and vintage soul.

Fearlessopens with the angry and embittered “Bust Your Windows”, a song that could have been written by Angela Bassett’s character, Bernadine from the movie “Waiting to Exhale”. It is the tale of the coming together of a broken heart, a crowbar and a nice car, which is never a good combination. Lyrically, it is what you would expect, but vocally Jazmine sings with such pain and conviction that you’ll want to pick up a crowbar and break someone’s windows.

Next up is the inspirational electro-pop synth-driven “Dream Big”, encouraging everyone to follow and take a chance on their dreams.  Following "Dream Big"  is Jazmine’s number one debut single “Need U Bad” produced by Missy Elliot. The Caribbean/reggae-themed song and vocal arrangement brought many comparison to Lauryn Hill and could have easily been a bonus track from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Though she writes and produces much of her music like Lauryn, this song is where the comparisons end.

“My Foolish Heart”, sampled from GZA of Wu-Tang Clan’s classic “Liquid Swords”, tells of the things one will do for love and brings a hip-hop element to the album. Next is the beautifully string-arranged “Lions, Tigers and Bears,“ where Jazmine bears her soul and shows that that love is the one and only thing she fears.

This album wouldn’t be an R&B album without a song by production duo Stargate (“With You,” “Irreplaceable”) and Jazmine takes her turn with “Hurricane,“ a song about the devastating effects love can have and the damage it often leaves behind.

The album does begin to wane a bit with “One Night Stand,” “Dream Big” and “Live a Lie.“ Never fear, though, as morale begins to pick up as the album comes to a close with stand-outs including the piano driven “In Love with Another Man,” the truthful and honest “Fear” and whimsical “Switch.“

Ultimately, Fearlessis a solid start for a promising and gifted vocalist with a bright future ahead. Jazmine is a much needed departure from what has been polluting the airwaves. The 5 time Grammy nominee may be one of the few artists who can achieve longevity in the fickle music industry, but only if she continues to remain "Fearless.”


Find out more about Jazmine at

Jazmine Sullivan was featured as the 88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week on 10/7/08.

88.1 WKNC DJ Pick of the Week is published in every Tuesday print edition of the Technician, as well as online at and


Music News and Interviews

Nominate Your Favorite Local Artist Now!

The Carolinas are finally getting their time to shine with the Second Annual Carolina Music Awards.  This award show allows you, the fans to choose North and South Carolina based nominees and winners. The show will take place on August 8th at the Progress Energy Center in downtown Raleigh. There will be weekly updates on Saturday Night Soul and R&B where I’ll let you guys know the latest news and nominees and we’ll also have late breaking updates from the Director of the Carolina Music Awards, Omar. Nominations end May 29th, so don’t delay! Nominate your favorite local Rock, Hip-Hop, Country, R&B artist or DJ now!  Head on over to:

Music News and Interviews

Saturday Night Soul and R&B presents Che Blaq, now May 16

The “New Artist Spotlight” of the week is Seattle’s own Che Blaq. The singer/writer/producer has brought a new innovative sound to the genre of R&B by combining the sounds of Electro-pop, Hip-Hop, and Vintage Soul to the world of music. Check out an interview and new music from Che Saturday, May 16 from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday Night Soul and R&B.

Hear Che Blaq’s music on his Myspace


In need of an (almost) infinite playlist

In less than a week, I will be going on a long trip. When I say long, I mean that I will be flying from Raleigh to Chicago, from there to Frankfurt, Germany and finally to Prague, Czech Republic. Needless to say, I’ll be riding in planes for multiple hours. Although I’ll be staying in Prague for about six weeks, I’m more concerned at the moment with making a monster playlist to sustain me during these ridiculously long flights than with packing clothes for the trip.

I know I’ll have the chance to finally listen to the The Decemberists’ April release, “Hazards of Love,” all the way through, which I have heard good things about. Also, I just got “Telekinesis!” by, of course, Telekinesis, which was released in April as well and seems highly upbeat at first listen.

As for the rest of my million-hour playlist, I’m not sure. If you know of any good traveling music, post it, or shoot me an email at Suggestions would be much appreciated!

DJ Highlights

Local Beat preview 5/8/09

On this wonderful afternoon, a few short hours after Love Language does their thing with Mz Kelly, The Local Beat (as usual, the abbreviated summer version ) will commence.

This week, right at 5:00, we’re having the Battle Rockets come in to talk about their show tonight at Slim’s Downtown.  Shortly thereafter (~5:30), our good friends Gray Young will come hang out, because they’re playing Slim’s tonight too (along with the Proclivities).

As you may recall, Gray Young graced us with their presence back on March 20th.  It was then that they proliferated the rumour that they’ll be opening for U2 this fall, so we’ll be giving them the polygraph test this evening.

And we may just have a pair of tickets to give away for that show tonight…

The Wolfpack will then be taking on Carolina in baseball at 6:30, which means we’ll be getting the boot.




Festival Coverage Local Music

The Love Language TODAY at 2!

The Love Language will be in the studio today at 2pm to do an interview and a few live songs.  They are playing in Raleigh tomorrow, Saturday May 9, at The Pour House along with other Raleigh bands  Whatever Brains and Gross Ghost.   The line-up features a lo-fi cloud of Raleigh, audible debauchery.  

Quick facts about each act:

Gross Ghost- This is Mike Dillon’s new project.  If you live in Raleigh or Chapel Hill you likely know who he is.

Whatever Brains- These guys recently played WKNC’s Local Beer Local Band in March and were recently, as I like to say, “shopped,” or as others, including The Indy,  say kind of “picked up” by Matador Records.  

The Love Languge- Remember the band The Capulets who graced Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill with their infectious pop lyrics and handsome faces about four summers ago?  I do (eek, for being older than most other DJs).  Stu McLamb, a Capulet, went on to form The Love Language with two other Capulets and now, well now The Love Language is infecting the music scene on a national level, including a bit in Spin magazine.


The Love Language performing at SXSW09, product of Kelly Reid

Whatever Brains at WKNCs Local Beer Local Band, 3/26/09, product of Mike Gray

-hearts and guitars-