Ony's Bands -- Cazador releases new album "Can I Leave?"

cazador Local power violence band, Cazador, released a new album on October 1 entitled Can I Leave?, their second release since their debut at the beginning of this year. This album gives us more power and more agony-drenched heaviness. With a few re-recordings from their first demo, which was released in January, Can I Leave? makes the heavy guitars and seething vocals more prominent. Brandon Johnson, both the vocalist and drummer of the group, with splintering snarls, presents images of suffering, isolation, and disintegration within a society. Overall, the sound and the musicianship are tighter and more thought-out, as their sound has evolved, just from playing and writing more.

The use of sound bites moves the album along and sets the tone for the anguish to come. One of the album’s heaviest and most eminent songs, “Backyard Tomb,” opens with a sound clip of a man threatening to remove someone’s flesh with a cheese grater (for all the True Detective fans). “Drawing Strings,” the album’s single, starts off with a catchier riff and moves toward a darker and more dismal breakdown shouting “Hang the fake, die in chains.” Alex Strickland, vocalist of local aggressive bands, Bathe and Abacus, appears on this song doing guest vocals.

My favorite track is “Imprisoned,” which showcases more of the spirited nature in Cazador’s song structures. “We try to incorporate a heavy noise rock influence, while speeding it up a bit with a touch of power violence,” Johnson says, citing his main influences as Infest, Crossed Out, and Unsane. It’s clear that the group shares an array of musical influences, leaving them not only limited to one strict genre description. There’s a little something for everyone on this album, which is heavy, raging, and dense.


Ony's Bands - Tyler Digital - Appearing Thursday Night at the Jasper Release Party

JasperProjectLogo Columbia may not be the epicenter of the electronic music scene, but there are artists who are trying to broaden our scene with more of it. These artists are usually either on mixed bills or performing at house shows, but there is more going on in this sector of our music scene than some may realize. A few of these acts will be performing at Jasper’s fall 2016 release party at Art Bar on September 29, including Tyler Digital.

Tyler Digital is the electronic project of local musician, Tyler Matthews. Matthews has been producing seriously for about three years, and makes dance pop fit for house parties and DJ sets. His influences range from Hans Zimmer to Led Zeppelin, and he hopes to one day be a soundtrack producer as influential as the likes of Zimmer. I asked Matthews more about his music and the local electronic scene in the following interview.


Matthews will be performing a DJ set as Tyler Digital at the Jasper release along with Autocorrect, The Moon Moths, and King Vulture.

Can you describe what your music is like? On some days it's energized left-field dance pop — and on another day it's an emotional hybrid of synth-wave and symphonic house. I try to not sound like anyone else, but that doesn't make life easy for writers.

What is your songwriting process like? I like to make a good synth sound, then make a 1-2 bar chord progression, put together a beat and then make a bass that goes well with both. After that I like to chop up some vocals turn that into a lead instrument. Everything else just builds around those components.

What bands/DJs/acts do you typically play with? Is it usually a mixed bill/house show sort of situation or would you say there is an active scene? And if not, do you wish there was one/think it's possible that it will emerge? Long answer: Mixed bill/House Shows - Yes. Mason Youngblood runs Moas Collective; he's done a great job of getting electronic producers together. But he moved to Brooklyn for his PhD and then several of our friends spread out to Atlanta, Portland, Nashville, New York, Puerto Rico, etc in just the last year. But we still talk music often and collab because internet life. Right now I do shows with Anissa Armaly (Dulce De— DJ and producer) and also Wright Clarkson (OS3) who is a baller. I also do shows with Contour and some other producer friends from the Charleston scene. Ahomari (Cyberbae) plus the Tri City Rec crowd is making amazing music right now. So there's definitely talent in SC, but quite the limited audience; I think any musician here would admit that. Regarding the scene now, we blend in with the bands in Scenario Collective and they have events all the time. I'm confident we could expand the live scene in 5 Points, Main Street, and the Vista if any owners were looking for that. Ideally I'd love to have a space in Cola similar to Common Market in Charlotte - the crowd and atmosphere there is amazing and one we need in Columbia. Or maybe I should just ask the Whig for a residency.

Do you have any other shows or releases coming up? I'm doing a DJ Set for WUSC on October 27th. And once a month there's usually some house show or dance party that I'll get asked to do. From a creation standpoint, I'm writing a soundtrack for a short film which I plan to make myself. And then I'm producing a rap EP for a couple of talented bosses. They are Columbia's next hope.

What is your philosophy as a musician, if you have one? The best music you will make are the songs that happen naturally, fluidly, and quickly. Translated to philosophy: just keep making music - you will surprise yourself. You can't do anything wrong when making music anyway.


Ony's Bands - Autocorrect & the Jasper Release Concert Thursday Night at Art Bar

  Autocorrect describes themselves as a “post-human experimental rap choir,” blending performance art, hip hop, and internet content. From their name alone, one gets the impression that they are calling attention to the ways in which technology affects how we communicate. Their songs address this issue in varying ways. The group consists of Cecil Decker (rapping, drums, sampling, programming), Chris Johnson (vocals, synths, guitars), and Moses Andrews III (bass, vocals, synths).


Decker explains that their main goal is to “explore the way modern communication and technology fractures identity.” He says, “There’s an interesting duality with social media, where it can unite and divide people.” Autocorrect explores this divide and how it affects the individual. They’ll be performing at Jasper’s Fall 2016 release on September 29 at Art Bar, with other performances by The Moon Moths, King Vulture, and a DJ set by Tyler Digital.



Can you tell me a little bit about your band and how/when you formed?

Autocorrect, neé Salvo, spawned in 2014 from colliding noise/rap/ambient projects between Cecil, Chris, and Sean. They trapped Cecil’s then-roommate Moses—the funkiest person alive—in a dank meme ritual. Initially a recording project, Cecil’s propensity for performance art combined with the rest of the group’s classical music training turned the one-off idea into an exhilarating live band.

Can you describe what your music is like? 

We are a post-human experimental rap choir. Student loans, minimum wage, tweetbots, and crippling depression. There has never been a better time.


What are some of your previous releases? Are they available online?

Our newest album, as it is, will make you cry into your drink while you bust a move on the dance floor. All of our records/EPs/etc are available at http://autocorrectsound.bandcamp.com.


What is your songwriting process like?

We assemble in the smallest room possible, gathering our chaos magick underneath an extensive and relentless pile of electronics. We stare at each other in silence until someone has an idea. Then, we spend the next 6 hours making a song.


Who/what are some of your musical influences?

El-P, John Cage, Pino Palladino, Koji Kondo.


What are your goals for the band/its future?

Our imperative is to always make art that challenges us and the audience. Right now, we want to start absorbing every other kind of music into our collective body. So we’ve scheduled sessions with local superstars, like the Post-Timey String Band, in order to suck the music juice out of their brains.


Concert to Celebrate Jasper Magazine Release at Art Bar

JasperProjectLogo Thursday night is concert night at the Art Bar as we celebrate the release of the 31st issue of Jasper Magazine. In the next few days we'll be profiling the bands that will be celebrating with us via our regular series by Ony Ratsimbaharison, Ony's Bands, starting with Moon Moths.


The Jasper release party will also give us a time to recognize some important people in the arts community who are getting stuff done these days - our JAY finalists and our 2016 2nd Act film Festival filmmakers.

2nd act 2016

We're also pretty excited about the stories in this issue including a cover story on Nicole Kallenberg Heere  whose work we love for both its exquisite technique and its irreverent subject matter. (Wait til you see the cover of the mag!)

Mommy's Favorite Hobby by Nicole Kallenberg Heere

Our centerfold is pretty impressive, too, as we profile one of America's top artist, Joe Byrne, who lives right here in Columbia, SC.

Summer House, Block Island by Joe Byrne

And in our new expanded format of 96 pages we are able to bring you more music reviews, book reviews, and stories about local artists (did you know that Keith Mearns, who is the horticulturist at Historic Columbia used to be a professional ballet dancer?)

We've even got short fiction as Michael Spawn shares his short story, "Stoned Puppies Forever."

Michael Spawn - Jasper Music Editor

We'll be offering you more teasers over the next few days as Ony profiles our guest bands and we get you ready for another fun night at Art Bar - Columbia's longtime home for the wondering artist.


Now, the Moon Moths, by Ony.

Self-proclaimed as “psychedelic orchestral hip-hop,” The Moon Moths is a new-ish band that is heavily involved in Columbia’s newly revitalized scene of young artists. You can find them and their friends playing unconventional shows set up by the Scenario Collective, a local artist collective that aims to enrich our arts and music scene. Overall, they wish to spread a message of love, peace, and self-fulfillment, according to Rupert Hudson, the band’s vocalist.

The Moon Moths features a rotating cast of members but was started by Hudson, AKA Prince Rupert, after he got asked to play at a Battle of the Bands but had no band to play his music with. After missing this opportunity to play, Hudson got together with some other members of Scenario, which he is involved with, and started playing. Hudson lists over ten active members of the band in the following interview, but each performance’s lineup is dependent on who’s available to play.

You can catch their extensive lineup at Jasper’s Fall 2016 release party on September 29, with other performances by Autocorrect, King Vulture, and Tyler Digital (playing a DJ set). Who are all the members of the band?

Prince Rupert - Vocalist

Sixx - Vocalist

Moon Child - Guitar/Vocals

Love Potion #9 - Violin

Poof The Blue Bat - Tap Dancing/Vocals

Fresh Heaven - Guitar/Vocals

King Goof - Bass

The Seduction - Keys

Mister B - Drums

The Visible Choir Boy - Trumpet

Daddy Ice – Ukelele

So is there a set group of people in the band or does it vary sometimes? The band varies sometimes depending on our shows, as since we have so many members it's difficult to have everyone at each show! But we try to have all the members each time.

What is your songwriting process like? Originally, I would write the entire song on the piano and the band would flesh it out, but recently we have been getting together and writing songs as a full band, which creates a more rewarding environment for the whole band.

Who/what are some of your musical influences? All of us have differing tastes that align in certain places but my own influences are specifically Chance The Rapper, Arcade Fire, and Kanye West.

Do you have any other shows or releases coming up? We do! We are playing Scenario's Embryoasis show on October 1st at Tapps and the Subversive Art Festival (SAFE) at Tapps on October 8th. We will be releasing music late this year or early next year.

What are some of your previous releases? Are they available online? We have just released on track, Meep Meep, on our soundcloud. https://soundcloud.com/themoonmoths/meep-meep

What are your goals for the band/its future? We are going to be recording this year and I would love to get that out so that we can book a tour. Playing SXSW next year would be brilliant and a definite goal.  --OR

Ony's Bands - Jackson Spells

Ony Ratsimbaharison is a local musician, writer, and blogger and member of the band fk. mt. Jasper asked Ony to write a regular feature profiling local bands — getting at what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it’s going. If you’d like to see your band profiled in What Jasper Said, send Ony a message at JasperProjectColumbia@gmail.com with the word ONY in the subject heading and she’ll, you know, take it under consideration.

Local psych-rock group, Jackson Spells, aims to embody the subconscious, subjective reality in their recently released full-length titled 2.5, reshaping the format of their band as a two-piece with keys and drums. They first formed in 2014 as a trio, after John Watkins’ and former member James Wallace’s band, The Unawares, disbanded. They intended to take their music in a new direction, and after adding Rob Cherry as their drummer, they decided to change the name to Jackson Spells. Currently, the band consists of Watkins on keys and vocals and Cherry on drums, a change that prompted the duo to write a new album.

Their sound is a mix of arty horror with a grand piano sound, a choice that Watkins says makes him able to bring out the bass notes more. He is no stranger to eccentric and unconventional bands. “In the late 1980’s to early 90’s,” Watkins says, “I had a jazz rock band called Brainchild. We thought we were bad-asses. We had long hair and wore robes. Wow.” He tells us more about his current band and their songs in the following interview.

You can catch their unique sounds on September 18, along with Boo Hag and Los Perdidos, at Tapp’s Arts Center for the book launch of The Incredibly Strange ABCs by cartoonist Tommy Bishop.


How did you come up with the name Jackson Spells?

I was relearning the piano at the time, and I just imagined a kid, named Jackson, learning how to spell.  Then I thought about Jackson Spells having multiple meanings, and that appealed to my more mystical side, like a town named Jackson having to deal with witches spells. So I pitched it to the mates, and it stuck.

What is your songwriting process like?

When writing a new song, I begin with piano or guitar, and if it’s the guitar, I transpose it to piano before being superimposed with the vocal melody and lastly, I work on the lyrics. Then I take the song to Rob, and that’s where we work out an arrangement, and sometimes at that point lyrics may need to be edited to fit with the finalized arrangement.

My love of horror films often colors my lyric choices. My lyrics are led by suggested vowels and consonants that come to me when I’m writing the vocal melody. So from there, it’s kind of like a crossword puzzle, filling in the blanks with the right words. For the past year or so I have been using William Burroughs’ “cut up” method to help me write lyrics.

Who are some of your main musical influences?

David Bowie, Nick Cave, and John Cale.

My music has been compared to a lot of bands and artists that I never listened to. And that’s OK with me.

What is your overall philosophy as a band, if you have one?

Our philosophy is: Write. Record. Perform. Repeat.

Where can people find your music?

Our sophomore full-length album, entitled 2.5, is now available on Bandcamp.com.

The first album is also on Bandcamp and available on 12” vinyl.


Ony's Bands - Los Perdidos

Ony Ratsimbaharison is a local musician, writer, and blogger and member of the band fk. mt. Jasper asked Ony to write a regular feature profiling local bands — getting at what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it’s going. If you’d like to see your band profiled in What Jasper Said, send Ony a message at JasperProjectColumbia@gmail.com with the word ONY in the subject heading and she’ll, you know, take it under consideration.

With everything so in flux, it seems rare nowadays for bands to stay together for very long, at least in the local music spectrum. But Los Perdidos, local instrumental surf band, is a rare exception to this pattern, as they formed in 1995. Their songs typically convey a darker form of surf, more along the lines of 80’s post punk. The band consists of Andy Collins (guitar), Byron Chitty (bass), Thomas Edenton (guitar), and Josh Robinson (drums). Over the years, the lineup has remained fairly consistent, aside from the recent addition of Robinson.

The landscape of the music world, and across all the arts, has changed drastically since the 90’s, with the internet and social media making it easier to share one’s work with folks around the world. Before Facebook event invites, getting people out to shows involved flyers and word-of-mouth. When Los Perdidos first formed, Collins and Chitty put an ad in the Free Times to find a drummer, something still possible today but less likely with the internet’s ease of use. Booking a tour or a last minute show is way more likely now with a network of bookers and promoters available at our fingertips.

Despite these changes, Los Perdidos has managed to remain constant and present in our scene. In the following interview, Collins explains what it was like forming in the 90’s and how things are now. They will be joined by Boo Hag and Jackson Spells at the September 18 book release of Tommy Bishop’s The Incredibly Strange ABCs at Tapp’s Art Center.



What was it like starting out in the 90s, compared to now? For example, how do you think technology and social media have shaped the music world and our scene?

My first reaction to that is to say that technology--Facebook, Myspace, etc.--has made it easier for bands to market themselves, but I think it's actually, like it's always been, word-of-mouth more than anything else that makes people aware of your existence. Having said that, technology makes some things possible that otherwise wouldn't be. For instance, we have a song in rotation on North Sea Surf Radio in Amsterdam, so people in Europe end up finding our Facebook page, which is obviously something that would have been much less likely in 1995.

Also, in the '90s there was a neo-surf revival of sorts, which we were a part of. We'd play shows with The Space Cossacks, for instance, or The Penetrators--lots of instrumental bands. There still are some, but the herd has been thinned a bit.

Has your sound evolved at all since forming, and if so how?

It seems all bands, over a long period of time, move inevitably towards increasing complexity and slickness in their songwriting. Maybe it's because they get better at playing their instruments, or because of some nameless obligatory urge to change and "grow." We've sometimes experimented with more complex songwriting, sometimes with positive results, but we never stray too far from a straightforward, rock 'n' roll approach to music. Sometimes less is better.

Has anyone in the band been in any other local bands?

Yes, quite a few--Ghettoblaster, The Spanish Tonys, Felonious Swank...and maybe half a dozen others.

Can you describe what your music is like?

Plangent twang and mutant surf rock.

Who/what are some of your main musical influences?

I can't speak for everyone, but my main formative influences are from the '80s: Joy Division, Dead Kennedys, Husker Du, Bowie, Eno, Devo, Minor Threat, etc. A lot of that seeps into our songs, intentionally or otherwise.

How do you feel about Columbia’s music scene as a whole?

It's cyclical, it seems, with crests and troughs.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

We're really looking forward to playing the book launch with Tommy. The invitation he created for one of our Christmas shows at The Whig (pictured below) was sublime--a pack of wolves attacking candy canes. The man is brilliant.


Ony's Bands - Boo Hag

boo-hag Ony Ratsimbaharison is a local musician, writer, and blogger and member of the band fk. mt. Jasper asked Ony to write a regular feature profiling local bands -- getting at what they're doing, why they're doing it, and how it's going. If you'd like to see your band profiled in What Jasper Said, send Ony a message at JasperProjectColumbia@gmail.com with the word ONY in the subject heading and she'll, you know, take it under consideration.

Ony's first few bands are a half dozen talented groups who will be working with the Jasper & Muddy Ford Press franchises over the next few weeks by playing at in-house sponsored events. Boo Hag, Los Perdidos, and Jackson Spells are all performing next Sunday at Tapp's Arts Center (7 pm) for the launch party for Tommy Bishop's new book, The Incredibly Strange ABCs. Here's a look at Boo Hag, by Ony.


Boo Hag, which formed in June 2015, is a local hard rock band consisting of drummer Scotty Tempo and guitarist and songwriter Saul Seibert. Their latest self-titled album, which came out July 30 of this year, is a collection of macabre-influenced psychedelic songs, with song titles like “Monster,” “Hokus Pokus,” and “Crypt Keeper,” just to name a few.

Their interest in the macabre and horrific is evident in their name, which is derived from a Gullah legend. A Boo Hag is a mythical creature of the Gullah culture that, according to folklore, is masked in a person’s skin, which it sheds at night to ride living victims in their sleep, draining them of their energy. Their music aims to evoke the spirit of this myth through concepts like ritual and horror.

Seibert recently moved to Columbia and is from New Orleans, where, he says, a lot of his musical influence comes from. “Plain and simple we are kick-you-in –the-teeth, kerosene-driven, lightning-in-a-bottle rock and roll,” he states. Their writing process is somewhat unique and specific, which Seibert informs us of in the following excerpt from an interview.

Boo Hag will be performing alongside local psych-rockers Jackson Spells and surf rock band Los Perdidos on Sunday September 18 at Tapp’s Arts Center for the book launch of The Incredibly Strange ABCs by cartoonist Tommy Bishop.

art by Tommy Bishop

Six Qs for Boo Hag

Can you describe what your music is like? Boo Hag dabbles with the macabre and psychedelic aspects of rock n roll. We are loud, hard, dangerous, and serious. Boo Hag doesn't really come with a lot of bells and whistles… We do what we know to do.

What are your songs typically about? Some of the songs are simple and straight forward and not overly complicated… but most of the songs take on a narrative approach, and deal with a range of social issues and/or personal struggles.

What is your songwriting process like? I usually hide. I engage in ritual. I get up at 3:30-4 am every day to meditate and then write music or do personal journaling for a few hours every day. I also smoke copious amount of marijuana and walk my dog in the woods. After I have completed a song, I record it and send it to Scotty to listen to. We play through it a few times during practice and then move on. We let songs breathe and rest, and then when they are ready to be played again, we work on them. Scotty gets me in a way a lot of players don't and when you have that as a writer, you don't really fuck with it too much. He plays an equal part in the music of Boo Hag and a powerhouse. He is also my friend.

Who/what are some of your main musical influences? New Orleans jazz and Memphis Blues... What else really matters in the end?

What is your overall philosophy as a band, if you have one? As a band, I believe our philosophy is to simply create and have fun doing what we love doing. We are a live act and that is where we thrive. In the end, we just want people to celebrate the music with us.

What is your vision for the band/the band’s future? We will see what happens. We have no intention of slowing down, we’re both driven people.

Zyou Multimedia Art Event Has An Invitation for You - Deadline August 21

Zyou On Sunday, August 28, artists will collaborate during a multimedia group art event, called Zyou, happening at the Wired Goat in the Vista from 3 pm to around 9 pm. Zyou was created by collage artist Riki Matsuda and sound designer Nic Jenkins, collaborators living in Charleston (although Jenkins recently lived in Columbia).

Artists across all mediums are invited to submit to participate in this event, which Jenkins describes as an “art playground for adults.” Its purpose is to encourage the collaboration of artists and the overlapping of media, which Jenkins says is usually “segmented and neatly organized within the parameters of installation art.” Zyou will be far from neat and orderly, and Matsuda and Jenkins are encouraging a messy, playful, and nonjudgmental process.

This event invites people to participate in the process, rather than concentrating on achieving a finished product. “ZYOU celebrates the process of making and not so much on the critique of the (unknown) potential for resonance,” Jenkins says, “Every process has a purpose.” People will be displaying their art, as well as finding ways to integrate and blend with any other artists present. Musicians are also encouraged to submit and to consider blending their sounds with other mediums. Current collaborators include local graphic designers Savannah Taylor and Nate Puza.

Most art installations leave the process out completely, and instead focus on one instance, feeling, or idea. The purpose for this particular process will be to accept the inevitable messiness that comes from exchanges in art and human interaction. This sort of messiness is not necessarily negative, and has the potential to become something even more powerful.

The word “Zyou” was created (or, rather, misheard) through exchanges of appreciation, Matsuda explains. “I think the first time I thought I heard Zyou, it was in the common response to a compliment, ‘No, you.’” After repeating it back and forth through the exchange of compliments and affirmations, it started to sound like “Zyou.” Zyou is a celebration of friendship and the positive affirmations between individuals through art.

This event is also partially inspired by the art happenings of the New York avant-garde scenes in the 1960s and 70s, Jenkins explains. He was inspired by the idea of performance art and installations being spontaneous and simultaneous, rather than sequential or linear. He and Matsuda are hoping to recreate the unrestricted nature of these happenings, and also inspire future collaborations through media integration. “Something I value about our friendship is the delight in the absurd and playfulness within the Dada-esque presentation of creative ideas,” says Jenkins.

Anyone interested in submitting their work to be considered for Zyou can send an email, either to Jenkins at paperjenkins@gmail.com, or to Matsuda at mats.riki@gmail.com by the deadline, August 21. Although space is limited, everyone is welcomed to attend the happening on August 28, and feel the magic of collaboration and “leaning into chaos,” as Matsuda and Jenkins put it.

 -- Ony Ratsimbaharison

Road Blog: About Touring by Ony Ratsimbaharison

  Jenni Scott, Dylan Kittrell, Cody Roberts, Josh Latham, Ryan Morris, and author Ony Ratsimbaharison


Touring is an interesting experience because it feels so unlike real life, and it’s pretty surreal. I don’t always have the opportunity to play music for people in a new place every night, and moving from place to place each day becomes surprisingly comfortable. I feel like there is progress in motion, and a tour is a good representation of how movement can help us progress—playing each night is great practice, for one. But you also have the opportunity to meet new people and hopefully take back something positive from your interactions.

I recently got back from a quick 10-day tour with my band, fk mt., and another local band called Mybrother Mysister. Despite our van needing some work, and an altercation with some bigoted “cowboys” along the way (we’ll get back to that), it was an overall fun tour.

So to list just a few things going through my mind, I was reading Dune by Frank Herbert, had just watched Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room, and had just learned about, not one, but two recent shootings of black men by police. And with all this, I also saw numerous updates regarding this year’s upcoming election. All of these things made me think heavily about resources, like the very limited water on the planet Arrakis, and government control, and how tenuous my existence is on our own planet and within our governmental systems.

What a time to be alive, indeed.

Josh Latham, Ryan Morris, and Ony

For anyone unfamiliar with touring, we packed everything needed for playing, sleeping, and staying alive on the road. This included all of our gear, sleeping bags, pillows, vitamins (those help a lot!), clothes, books, a computer, and even some roller blades, since we had some extra room. We didn’t necessarily have a place to stay for each night, but asked around at each show and hoped someone had some room for six people to crash on their floor (which worked out very well). For food, we would usually find some sort of diner or coffee shop in the morning or early afternoon, and anything else on the road that was fairly cheap and convenient. There were also a few incredibly gracious hosts who cooked us a meal, which we very much appreciated.

Each band drove a separate van, and we started to have some trouble with ours on the second day. We broke down on the way to Tallahassee, and stopped to get it looked at somewhere in Georgia. Luckily, all our drives were fairly short (around 4 hours max), so we had enough time to take it to a shop. They gave us some leftover food that they had in their break room, and said we had to replace the radiator, which they couldn’t replace but they sealed a leek which helped us get to Tallahassee. We bought another radiator on the way and got it changed the next day in Gainesville. Gainesville is also where the cowboys were.

To make a long story short, we played a show in Gainesville right next to a bar called Cowboys. The show went well and we didn’t really interact with anyone at Cowboys until we had to load our vans back up, right in front of the place, after the show. They didn’t like that we were unloading from the sidewalk and threatened to call the cops and yelled distasteful comments at us. Even after we had finished loading out, their bouncers and several patrons were verbally harassing us, yelling out racist and homophobic slurs. With everything I was reading being so politically driven, this whole dispute really disturbed me.

These words were acts of violence, the kind of violence that exists on a larger scale around the country. This event was just a microcosm of the terrifying and very real discriminatory views that reveal themselves through other acts of violence every day. These views seem to be held by many, which is not difficult to see given the amount of support a certain presidential candidate has from racists all over the country who see no problem with white supremacy, and are in fact fighting to maintain it. After watching Green Room (and having lived my life as a person of color in the south), this was not a situation I wanted to be in.

Luckily, we got out of the situation unharmed, and this was the only deliberately awful encounter we were faced with. After that, it was all beach hangs and roller blades with tacos and pizza and, oh yeah, some music sprinkled in between. One night in Sarasota, we all took different sets of wheels (blades, skateboards, longboards, and bikes) almost a mile out to a “fake beach,” which was just a shore by a body of water. It was around two in the morning, and we only stayed for a few minutes, but it was all worth it for the ride in and out. I honestly haven’t even roller-bladed that much at home.

Ony, Josh Latham, and Ryan Morris - photo by Gwen Kittrell

This tour seemed to go by really quickly, but I’m still sort of amazed that I’m able to tour at all, thanks to my love for music and the DIY scene. What I love about it is seeing and meeting people who are creating spaces for people in their community and on the road to create and perform art. There is a transient nature to the DIY scene, people are always moving in and out, which keeps it more alive, in my opinion. For example, two of our shows happened at houses that were no longer going to continue being venues. This has happened in Columbia’s scene as well, but there are always more people coming through as well as new venues being created.

As far as playing for people, it’s hard not to get into playing after sitting around all day. It’s also interesting to see how different crowds can be. I’ve noticed that people tend to have more fun when it’s a house show, probably because it feels more like a party than a “concert.” Our best shows were probably at houses when people moved around and had fun with us. We even saw a few people crowd surf during our set at a house in Charleston. Those are the moments when I feel the least tense. There were, however, a few shows where people didn’t feel as comfortable moving around and just sort of stared at us. I never really quite know what to think at that point, but just keep playing. The cool thing about tour, though, is that no matter how the show goes, there is always another one the next day to hopefully make up for it.

So overall, tour was a great experience, and I would recommend touring to any band that’s trying to reach more people with their music, or if you’re just trying to get out of town for a bit and see what else is out there. There is always something one could bring back and try and incorporate into their own scene. It’s also a great way to make a band play better, just from playing each night. Even though we had some van trouble and came across some unpleasant people, we didn’t let that ruin our experience.

Ony - photo by Shane Sanders



Nominations for Jasper Artists of the Year are due August 26th! More info here.

Review: Green Room by Ony Ratsimbaharison

Green room

"Green Room is the manifestation of my worst fears on tour." -- Ony Ratsimbaharison, who is about to go on tour

An unsuccessful tour takes a turn for the worst in Green Room (2016), a horror film by director Jeremy Saulnier, about members of a punk band forced to fight for their lives against a group of white supremacists in a remote part of Oregon. It’s an overall good film with the right mix of punk, gore, and suspense.

The Ain’t Rights, a band made up of Sam (Alia Shawkat), Pat (Anton Yelchin), Reece (Joe Cole), and Tiger (Callum Turner), are struggling to finish their tour with barely any money. They are offered a last-minute show when a careless booker promises they’ll get paid well. They are, however, warned that they’ll be playing for Neo-Nazis, so they should be cautious and avoid talking politics. After their set, they and another young punk (Imogen Poots) witness a violent crime and are soon fighting to make it out of there alive.

The gory and suspenseful unfolding of events is gut-wrenching, and at times it feels almost too real. And just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, it does. This is not for the faint of heart, but there are instances of dark comedic relief and cinematic beauty. The subject matter is intense, though, there are pretty violent deaths.

The first half is accompanied by the muffled sounds of live heavy metal/grindcore playing in the background, as they discover that the Neo-Nazis are not only trying to cover up for their crime, but they’re setting the band up in the process. As the band struggles to get out, the skinheads become more hostile and violent towards them. Patrick Stewart plays Darcy, the leader of the white supremacist group and owner of the club.

The actors give stunning performances in this film, which came out in April of this year. The original soundtrack, provided by Brooke Blair and Will Blair, is heavy and brash, off-set by the occasional ambient interludes. It also includes a couple songs played by the fictional band featured in the film. The dynamics of the band also seemed more accurate than most depictions of young musicians.

Green Room is the manifestation of my worst fears on tour. Going 90 miles out of your route to play a virtually non-existent show and making close to nothing from it is a nightmare of its own. To then get sent to a play for a bunch of skinheads adds to the horror. The band is soon forced to use guns and anything else they can find to fight the Nazis.

The film has a good mix of suspense and horror, not too heavy on the gore but it is pretty bloody. The fact that this could legitimately happen of course adds to the scariness. I would recommend this movie to anyone about to go on tour (if you dare), or anyone who likes horror or has ever dreamed of covering the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” to a room full of skinheads.


Jasper intern and blogger Ony Ratsimbaharison sets out this week on her own performance tour with her band FKMT.

What Volunteering for Girls Rock has taught me by Ony Ratsimbaharison

Girls rock more  






I never had anything like Girls Rock when I was a child, but I’m so glad it exists. Girls Rock represents everything I hoped my world could be as a young girl, still so unaware of how systems of oppression were (and still are) working against me. It’s everything my soul was calling for when I was young and felt alone and misunderstood, unable to fully wield my voice.

The first time I volunteered for Girls Rock was at the Charleston camp in 2012. It was truly transformative and I gained a whole new perspective. The next year, I volunteered for Columbia’s first ever Girls Rock camp and I again learned so much from the experience. Volunteering for Girls Rock is more than just being a camp counselor or a glorified babysitter. It’s a place for campers and volunteers alike to reclaim their voices and use them to spread positivity and fight against the injustices we face in society—and, of course, to know that we rock!

"It’s a place for campers and volunteers alike to reclaim their voices"

One goal in growing up is to not repeat mistakes, and this applies to what we teach to the youth at Girls Rock. We want to save them from the horrible things we had to deal with. We want them to know that it’s okay, and it will get better, because it did for us. We need to advocate for them because our society deems it unnecessary for them to advocate for themselves, and they are often unheard. Girls Rock is one of the ways in which young people can feel comfortable enough to express themselves with no judgment or punishment. So here are just a few of the many things I’ve learned from Girls Rock:


While I’m no stranger to playing my music loud, offstage I’m sometimes more mild-mannered and quiet, as was encouraged of me and most young girls growing up. Every now and then, I need to remind myself that it’s okay for me to be loud. It’s okay to scream sometimes and let it all out. This is why at camp we have scream circles, where we each take turns letting out a scream, as loud as we can. It’s a great way to get everyone loosened up and a healthy reminder to release any emotions we might have, rather than to keep them bottled up inside us.


I can’t stress this enough. The campers at Girls Rock make art through music and other mediums during various workshops and down-time throughout the day. Being surrounded by so much creativity for a week is rejuvenating, to say the least. Seeing the way it affects the campers and their progress is awe-inspiring. They become more comfortable with themselves and start to trust their instincts. They also learn new ways to express themselves, and do it fearlessly.


The campers are taught different instruments for one week (many for the first time ever) and form bands and write songs, which are then performed for a large crowd of people at the end of the week. If that’s not bold and courageous then I don’t know what is. The fact that they are able to work through their nerves and put themselves out there in such a way is extremely inspiring. It reminds me to keep pushing to let go and take those risks I often overthink about.


So much more. One thing we stress at Girls Rock is to refrain from physical compliments. This is because even positive physical compliments reinforce the notion that we are valued by our physical appearance, another idea that is virtually inescapable for young girls in our society. Instead we try to give compliments about people’s strengths and personal achievements, which empowers them so much more.


"even positive physical compliments reinforce the notion that we are valued by our physical appearance..."



I’m always floored by the level of competence and sheer fierceness our campers exude. Not only are they capable of learning so much in so little time, they perform so gracefully under pressure. Being young is hard enough when you are taught to be “seen and not heard,” like most kids are. This is why it’s important to advocate for the youth. As soon as we are able to recognize their ability to teach us, we will be able learn from them.



Check out more about Girls Rock Columbia here!

REVIEW: What Happened, Miss Simone? by Ony Ratsimbaharison


One interesting thing about being an artist is the dichotomy that exists between producing one’s art and then performing or releasing it for audiences to experience. Much of the time, the production of the art comes from a place of isolation and comfort-seeking. The performance aspect then sometimes comes as a need to support oneself, as in the case of Nina Simone, the classically trained pianist, who was forced to sing and perform other styles of music to support herself financially.

Something for which we will always thank her.

What Happened, Miss Simone? follows the life of the illustrious Nina Simone who was revered as an exceptionally talented singer, pianist, and civil rights activist. She put everything she had into her music and it showed. Like many artists, her portrayal is often tragic, but she was more than just a “tortured artist,” she was a dynamo.

Many things came to mind as I watched this film, directed by Liz Garbus and released in 2015. As a musician, I am always interested in observing the way famous musicians and artists are treated and portrayed in the media. Oftentimes their lives are far more nuanced than are the images we are offered of them, but this documentary, which opened the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and went onto be nominated for the Academy Award, does an admirable job of showing the viewer as much of the artist’s dynamic life as possible in an hour and forty minutes.

What happens when the spotlight becomes just too much for someone? Once producing art becomes someone’s livelihood, is it then their responsibility to keep making and performing their art for audiences, even when it’s hurting them? And what is our responsibility to artists, like Nina Simone, who may be affected by mental illness? These are just some of the questions I asked myself after watching this film.

It is important to remember Simone as not just as an artist, but as an activist as well. She was a black woman songstress living during the middle of the Civil Rights movement, who joined forces with many of the other key leaders of the movement, including Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz, and Martin Luther King. She was never quiet about who she was and how her black identity shaped her life and the lives of those she loved. I was pleased to see this aspect was not left out.

To see a musician portrayed as genuinely as they experience life, is rare in the media, but this documentary is successful at showing us the true Nina Simone. She was a star in her own right, and made her presence timelessly known. But only she truly knows “what happened,” as the title asks.

Tuesday is MAKE MUSIC DAY brought to you by One Columbia and friends

make music cola  

This Tuesday, June 21, Columbia will take part in its second annual Make Music Columbia event. Music will be played just about everywhere, from Five Points, Main Street, the State House, Lexington and more. It’s a perfect indoor and outdoor event for music-lovers of all ages to experience all sorts of music, happening from 9 am – 9 pm. There will be music of all styles, from rock, hip hop, folk, jazz, experimental and anything in between.

Make Music Columbia is part of a broader network that is the Make Music Day Alliance. The first Make Music Day was in France in 1982, and it is now a worldwide event, with over 700 cities in 120 countries participating. It happens each year on the summer solstice, a great way to celebrate the longest day of the year.

Anyone is free to participate in Make Music Columbia, and there will be a number of mass appeals, which are large groups of people playing the same instruments together. These will take place at the State House, and anyone is welcome to walk up and join in. They’ll have ukulele songbooks, harmonicas and more for the crowd. No musical skill required!

There will be buskers all around the city along with other organized concerts, which are all free and open to the public. People are also welcomed and encouraged to sign up to either host or perform. This is primarily a collaborative effort, made possible by the committed work of One Columbia, Rice Music House and WXRY FM.




Most performances can be caught in Five Points, Main Street, and The Village at Sandhills, and there will be outdoor concerts at Tapp’s Arts Center and The Lula Drake on Main Street. There are still a lot more places to enjoy performances, and these can be found at makemusiccolumbia.org.

“The idea is to create so much music that people encounter it during their daily activities,” says Ashleigh Lancaster, Office Manager at One Columbia. “The idea that you can fill a whole city with performances like that is really exciting… It makes the streets feel so alive.”

Lancaster believes this is a great event for Columbia to be able to participate in a worldwide event while also enjoying the stress–relieving qualities of music. It can put a smile on people’s faces, and give them the opportunity to let go during the week.



  • First up – Join the Sound Circle!  Led by Girls Rock Columbia, make music using your voice – strange noises, bleeps, boops, even screams come together to create a unique chorus! Starts around 6pm.
  • Then – Learn the Harmonica! Thanks to Hohner, we’ll be handing out 100 free harmonicas! Walk right up and learn how to play – then we’ll try our new skills as a group. Starts around 6:30pm.
  • And, then – Uke it Up! The Cola Ukulele Band will perform their sweet tunes for you, but not before teaching you a few things they’ve learned! Be sure to bring your ukulele. There will be some books on hand with sheet music. Starts around 7:15pm 


So no matter how talented or less-than-talented you feel in your musical abilities, Lancaster and all the other good folks organizing Make Music Columbia invite you to make or just enjoy some music this Tuesday, June 21. It’ll be a great way to celebrate the summer solstice, and join the worldwide Fête de la Musique (meaning both “festival of music” and “make music” in French).

Hand music


-- Ony Ratsimbaharison

Our Interns Review: Ony Ratsimbaharison on bell hooks' Wounds of Passion

As part of Jasper's summer intern experience we asked our interns to write about-- and even review -- books, films, paintings, ART -- that have been influential to them in their journeys. Heck, we invite you all to do this, as well. We hope you enjoy Ony Ratsimbaharison's review of the always radicalizing bell hooks' 1997 Wounds of Passion :  A Writing Life. For more on hooks, please visit the website for the bell hooks Institute at Berea College.)

bell hooks


“Writing is my passion. Words are the way to know ecstasy. Without them life is barren. The poet insists Language is a body of suffering and when you take up language you take up the suffering too. All my life I have been suffering for words. Words have been the source of the pain and the way to heal.” –bell hooks, Wounds of Passion


If there’s question as to how and why bell hooks has written so much in her life, it is clear from her heartbreaking experimental memoir Wounds of Passion A writing life (H. Holt, 1997) that writing was her most vital coping method.

The prolific black feminist and social activist author intertwines the story of finding her writing voice with finding a sense of purpose and love, both following the most troubled times of her childhood and as well as during a long-term relationship with another writer. It’s a great read for anyone interested in experiencing the life of a writer through their own critical eye. The title describes the work best—these aren’t just memories but her wounds being reopened and once again healed through the power of writing.

In the preface, hooks explains that the root word for passion is patior, which means to suffer. She insists that pain cannot be avoided if one feels deeply, which she quite evidently does. Many of the memories presented are unpleasant ones, each marked by hooks’ suffering. She describes the hurt she felt in her childhood, for being the subject of ridicule for being too much like herself. She found comfort in words and in poetry from a young age. During her 15-year relationship with another writer she calls Mack, hooks is again and continually the subject of someone else’s pain-infliction. The details of her struggles are often difficult to read because the pain is so apparent.

The most rewarding part of reading Wounds of Passion is seeing first-hand how hooks develops her writing voice in the midst of all her suffering. It is clear that words and writing are her passion, and hooks makes note of people who influence her to be dedicated to her craft. Her descriptions of people she admires are so loving and inspiring (examples?) that it’s hard not to admire them too.

Another interesting component of the book is the use of both third and first person perspectives. The first person narrator is hooks experiencing the pain at the time. She wants to make her sometimes chaotic relationship work, despite all the hurt she feels from it. The third person narrator is the hooks after all the chaos, who now sees why they were doomed from the start.

Wounds of Passion is great for anyone seeking to experience the power of words during troubled times. For someone familiar with the work of bell hooks, this book provides more context to her life as a writer, making all her previous work even more powerful. It's a book about pain and honesty, and how some wounds can ignite passion. -Jasper intern Ony Ratsimbaharison

Girls Rock the Block at First Thursday by Ony Ratsimbaharison

13318762_10104053847049937_1213391295_n On Thursday June 2 at 6 pm, Girls Rock Columbia will host a block party at Boyd Plaza in front of the Columbia Museum of Art. The event, called Girls Rock the Block will be held as part of First Thursday on Main, Columbia’s monthly arts event on Main Street. It’ll be a free event with live music and food by the Wurst Wagen. All proceeds will go to benefit Girls Rock Columbia, so that they can continue to enrich the lives of our community’s youth.

If you haven’t heard, Girls Rock Columbia is our local chapter of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance (GRCA), which is an international coalition of organizations that aims to empower women and girls through music education, to foster confidence and self-esteem. GRCA was founded in 2007 in Portland, OR, and now has over 60 camps worldwide.

This will be Columbia’s 4th annual Girls Rock Camp, and it will be bigger than ever. I spoke with Mollie Williamson, executive director of Girls Rock Columbia, about this event and all of the organization’s exciting developments.

Mollie Williamson working one-on-one with a young rock impresario

Instead of the usual one-week camp they’ve had in the past, this year Girls Rock Columbia will launch its two-week teen leadership program, where teens ages 13-17 will have camp the first week and return as teen leaders for the general camp the following week, which is for campers ages 8-12.

“They’ll be acting as peer mentors—repairing gear, facilitating workshops, and just largely contributing to things running smoothly,” Mollie said. “We’re super excited to give them the opportunity to lead!”

Girls Rock Columbia has also started an internship program this year and implemented their first board of directors in January. The camp itself has also grown; there will be 24 teen campers in the first week, and 84 during the general session, a huge jump from the original 17 campers its first year. In the past, campers were offered 10 workshops, and this year there will be 40.

With all these changes, Girls Rock needs as much help from the community as possible. The block party on Thursday is one way people can get involved, since proceeds will go to Girls Rock to help with programming. Live music will be performed by Jacksonville, FL electronic group Tomboi, and locals Can’t Kids and Paisley Marie, all of whom have been involved with Girls Rock.

“We’ll have a table at Girls Rock the Block, so stop by and shoot the breeze with us!” says Mollie.


For more information on Girls Rock Columbia and this fun event, check out girlsrockcolumbia.org