Antony Bitar’s Gift To You!
Antony Bitar is the Jersey native singer-songwriter who is best known for his cameos on Bravo TV’s Real Housewives of NJ, where he is seen performing at local events and collaborating with famed reality housewife Melissa Gorga to help write her hit dance single “On Display.” Bitar released his self-titled debut album in September, and his rendition of the Christmas classic “Silent Night” is a special gift that Antony is giving to Huffington Post readers for the holidays…
Antony Bitar – Silent Night by The MuseBox
A Conversation with Gary Clark, Jr.
Mike Ragogna: Gary, how are you doing, sir?
Gary Clark, Jr.: I’m well, thank you.
MR: Thank you very much for talking with us today.
GC: Thanks for having me.
MR: You can be called a blues rocker, right?
GC: I’m good with that, it comes from a foundation of blues. Every now and then, I can let lose and rock out a bit.
MR: You also write your own original music and you just released your EP, Bright Lights. Let’s catch readers up on Gary Clark Jr. Where did you grow up?
GC: I grew up, in Austin, Texas. Still here and I’m loving it.
MR: What are your musical influences?
GC: Growing up, I listened to a lot of soul records–Diana Ross, The Supremes, Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye… When I got to be a teenager, I got to listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and a long list of awesome blues musicians. I also grew up listening to hip-hop and rock and whatever was on the radio. I’m listening to everything and soaking it up, and I guess what I’m doing is putting that out in my own interesting way.
MR: I imagine you were in your fair share of garage bands and played a lot of open mics.
GC: Yeah, definitely, a lot of open mics and blues jams.
MR: You’ve received endorsement from folks like Eric Clapton and also David Lynch, who now is getting cred as a recording artist, pretty wild after all of these years, huh?
GC: Yeah. (laughs)
MR: How do you feel about these people having your back?
GC: I don’t know how to describe it, it’s kind of a trip. I think I’ve gotten to realize what is going on since I’ve been home. We’ve been out on the road for a while. It’s a weird thing–we go and play these shows and there’s really not enough time to be star struck. They come up and they are like, “Hey man, that’s really cool, I have to be as cool as possible. There’s nothing better than doing what you love to do, and having people you respect and appreciate in the business saying you’re doing some pretty cool things. It’s a good confidence booster and makes me want to do it more, it’s not bad.
MR: Can you go into the story behind the song “Bright Lights?”
GC: I was a younger man and I was running around New York City for the first time. I took my camera with me and it just so happens–but it always happens in New York–I run into somebody I know from back home in Austin. I was walking by the spot and I saw somebody. They were hanging out and having a couple of beverages. So, I ended up wandering along with them and took my camera, and ended up going to all kinds of places–people’s apartments, underground little clubs, going on the subway–doing stuff I never really experienced coming from Austin, Texas. I walked by Madison Square Garden with the lights and the advertisements and people moving a little quicker up there than they do here. So, it was basically about soaking it all up, and maybe having a little too much fun and looking back on it. I know it definitely changed the way I looked at things going up to New York City.
MR: Nice. Gary, what kind of guitar do you play?
GC: I play an Epiphone Casino. People ask me about it. I picked it up and it was something I fell in love with from the moment I picked it up. It’s just a beautiful looking, sounding guitar. That’s my go-to guitar.
MR: Did you use your Casino on this EP?
GC: Yeah, all Casino.
MR: On “Things Are Changing,” you’ve got that cool guitar figure running through it. Can you go into the story behind the song?
GC: That’s what I like about it, it’s open to interpretation. I wrote the song a few years ago, and it was actually a long time ago. It’s basically the story of people graduating and a lot of friends graduating high school and going to different spots, people leaving their girls and going and figure out their thing in the world. It’s all of this kind of stuff, also still being young and not knowing or being sure of ourselves. Just seeing things change and relationships coming and going is what that is. Trying to figure out what your place is in the world. It seems like it’s still relevant to this day. Most of my people and my friends are going through the same thing. It’s just one of those things I was feeling that way at the time.
MR: It never goes away.
GC: (laughs) It never goes away?
MR: Nope, things are always changing, buddy. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I always loved that John Lennon line.
GC: My mom would kind of give me a hard time about playing music, she would say it’s not stable. I kind of like the fact that I don’t know what’s going to happen. You get to go, gig to gig, place to place, and record to record. Not knowing is what I like about it.
MR: Gary, the song “When My Train Pulls In” has such a broad range of interpretations. It’s not just about, let’s say, when my train pulls in. It’s that my train will pull in when whatever I’m looking for and whatever is happening in my life is supposed to happen. How far off in my interpretation was I?
GC: That’s perfect, no need to go any further, it’s beautiful.
MR: Thanks. Sometimes my old brain actually works.
GC: (laughs) I couldn’t have put it better myself. So, thank you for that.
MR: Sweet. Hey, even though “Don’t Owe You A Thing” is about the end of a relationship, in a general sense, it’s also saying I don’t owe anyone a thing.
GC: I don’t feel like that most times. That was definitely directly influenced by something that happened in my real life. I went down to my local hang out and scribbled it down on a piece of paper, went home and banged out a little demo playing loud ridiculous angry drums and guitar. That was me trying to capture that mood. It’s kind of funny. We’ll be playing it out at these shows and you will see these people’s faces and the dudes that come in the crew and they are really getting into it. There’s this guy standing next to this girlfriend, and he kind of feels uncomfortable, and she hates it. There’s a single group of girls and they are digging it, it’s funny to see that.
MR: It seems that blues rock is making a come back stronger than it ever has in the past decade or so. Is that what you’re observing too?
GC: I guess so, I’m not really sure “coming back.” It’s something that I’ve always been into, but I guess when you talk about more popular music, it has more attention and it’s cool it’s exciting.
MR: Could it also be tied-in with more of an appreciation of classic rock?
GC: Definitely, I think that people are just coming back to where the foundation is.
MR: By the way I just wanted to throw in how Rolling Stone gave you the first ever review for a four song EP. Nice.
MR: What was your reaction?
GC: I didn’t know. I was on tour on the East Coast. Someone from back home called me and they said, “You should check out this Rolling Stone review!”
MR: You also did the Crossroads show, part of the Eric Clapton concerts, in June of 2010.
GC: That whole thing was a trip, just hanging back stage and seeing Buddy Guy walk by like no big deal.
MR: Is your full-length album coming out early next year?
GC: Yes, that is the plan. So, yeah, after going on this amazing tour, I’m back home trying to write up a couple more songs so I can get this record out. It’s been exciting. I couldn’t be happier.
MR: What advice do you have for new artists?
GC: Something that I always enjoyed hearing was from some of my favorites. Just stick to your guns and do what you do. So, that’s cool. Sometimes you think, “Is this right or cool?” I will feel like that sometimes. Just be confident in yourself and do what you do.
MR: Any big Christmas plans?
GC: No, I’m going to hang around the house with my family. Most of them are still in Austin.
MR: Can we expect you again at SXSW?
GC: Yeah, I will be around, I’m looking forward to that.
MR: I’m very happy that you gave me some time, Gary. When your album comes out, let’s do that again. Thank you very much for your time.
GC: Thank you very much, Mike.
1. Bright Lights
2. Don’t Owe You A Thang
3. Things Are Changin’ – Live
4. When My Train Pulls In – Live
Transcribed By Theo Shier
So. Need an anthem for the New Depression? This guy James Mee might have one, take a look…:
And check out these links:
A Conversation with Macedo
Mike Ragogna: We’re talking with Michelle and Melissa Macedo. Where do you guys want to start? Do you want to talk about how you got in to music?
Michelle Macedo: Basically, Melissa and I were born into a family in which everybody plays musical instruments. Our family is from a Portuguese colony called Goa, and they are known for being musical. My Aunt came here to be a songwriter, actually, so basically, we’ve just been surrounded by it. Our dad taught us how to play piano, guitar, and violin.
Melissa Macedo: At every family gathering, we were playing music, since Michelle and I were always together all of the time, we would sing off of each other since we were young.
MR: Obviously, you guys were making music together as play, to have fun together.
Michelle M: When we were three, it started.
MR: So, now you’re writing songs, was that by four or five?
Michelle M: (laughs) Not so fast.
Melissa M: We were really just having fun with it and in middle school, after we were trained for a few years in piano and guitar, we really started to write the songs. Michelle writes the lyrics and the music, so she really started to get it down. Then, we were bouncing ideas off of each other in a more serious way in middle school.
Michelle M: There was no song that we wouldn’t test out on each other.
MR: Now, you’re also twins and even though you were together a lot of the time, you were also independent when you were making some of your music?
Michelle M: Actually, the longest we’ve been apart before college was two days on a camping trip in 8th grade. So, we decided to go to separate colleges, which was a big deal. It was really traumatic and really painful. Because of that, I wrote the album and recorded it in my last year at college. I was not sleeping; I got a BSA in acting, and I was doing all of this stuff before acting.
Melissa M: I think a lot of the songs have to do with being apart, and the loneliness and the traveling in-between with each other, that’s a lot of the content. So, I think it was a great experience and it was difficult, but it inspired a lot of great music.
MR: Would you go into the story behind “Caught?”
Michelle M: “Caught” is the first song I wrote that was a narrative, it was about my relationship with someone who actually worked on the album. So, it was very personal and, basically, I wrote it almost a month before the album was finished. It was one of those tracks that was added at the last minute. Along with “Say Goodnight,” which was also another track that was added at the last minute. I was writing up till the very end and emailing songs to Melissa and seeing what she thought and everything. So, it’s a really personal one, and I am probably the most interested in this song in terms of writing it. It was different from anything else I had ever written.
MR: What’s the perspective of the lyrics relative to what you were going through?
Michelle M: Basically, it’s from a narrative point of view.
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