It All Started Here: 1 Year of The Come Up

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written by Riley McShane

The Come Up began, as you might expect, at a table outside Cafe Stritch. On Wednesday, October 18th 2017.

I didn’t know Isaiah Wilson that well, but I liked him. We met up and he told me about his idea for a show.

Just one show.

The thought sparked some excited chatter between us, and someone leaned over from the neighboring table. Without so much as introducing himself, he chimed, “what you guys are talking about…I like this. How are we gonna make this happen?”

We.

Leopoldo Macaya was in, without a note of hesitation.

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Above: the photo Leo took for his contact info in my phone, so that I, “could remember what he looked like.” Oct. 18, 2017.

I look back on that night, and it’s hard to describe it without a word like fateful, which feels grandiose. But if not for that moment of sheer coincidence, this whole thing may never have happened.

Certainly not the way it did.

We parted ways that night with a loose framework for our show, under the working title “Orange Sauce Fest.” And you’ll have to forgive us for that one, we were younger then.

Isaiah and I reconvened the following month to pitch an evolved version of the idea at Pitch Please?!, an event sponsored by Exhibition District at Local Color in Downtown San Jose. The purveyors of the best idea, as chosen by a panel of judges, would receive $1,000 to help make it a reality. Our pitch boiled down to a central mission: building a platform for artists in San José to perform, and to be seen.

IMG_0431Notes from the original pitch.

Pitch Please?! became the first of several instances in which a person, organization or business within the greater San Jose community heard the idea of The Come Up, and decided to take a chance on it.

With that $1,000 we had tangible evidence of someone else believing in the idea, and that was all the motivation we needed to turn our scrappy dream into something real.

At Uproar Brewing, The Come Up found its true and original homeland. Against a red-brick backdrop, and with a borrowed sound system we made our debut on Friday February 2nd, 2018. Four musicians, 3 comedians, and 2 bright-eyed, nervous hosts (myself and Isaiah).

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Above: Pictures from the debut. February 2nd, 2018.

The first show was a quiet, albeit significant success. It burgeoned into a monthly showcase of some of the best performers in the area, with the messy-yet-magnetic energy of something new, slowly figuring itself out. Uproar gave us the best start we could have asked for, and helped give The Come Up a visibility that allowed us to tackle new projects: a new performance series at SoFA Market, and the job of curating a stage at SoFA Street Fair. 

Meanwhile, we started to focus more on our visual identity. Guided by Leo’s talents with visual storytelling and incredible eye for capturing live performance, The Come Up began producing high-quality visual content on a regular basis, and cultivating a distinct brand.

 

Above: Some early work from Leo, our Creative Director.

During the first wisps of summer, Leo brought up the idea of a backyard show-slash-barbeque. Being the resident skeptic of the group, I resisted slightly. Anyone who has been in San José long enough knows the complications of trying to do anything as spontaneous and fun as a backyard concert. Oh, just wait til SJPD rolls up. Oh, just wait for those noise complaints, etc.

Fortunately, Isaiah subverted my doubts and introduced us to the good folks at 363.

Cue: someone taking a chance on us.

IMG_2101Above: building the scene at 363.

We had our backyard, but it needed work. Over the first two weeks of July, along with the residents of the house and a group of phenomenal collaborators, we completed the DIY music-scene equivalent of an Amish barn raising. A stage and deck were built. Lights were hung. The whole place was cleared out and prepped for a show.

The night prior, as Isaiah, Leo and I attempted to cook an unfathomable amount of Smart-and-Final ground turkey for tacos, a feeling of dread crept over me.

Are people really gonna show up to this thing?

They did.

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Above: Scenes from the Backyard. Captured by Leopoldo Macaya

The shows at 363 vaulted us into the next stage of The Come Up. Presented with an essentially blank canvas, and together with a community of brilliant and dedicated artists eagerly holding brushes, we painted a gritty and gorgeous portrait of what we’re about, and what is great about San José. We were able to create something simple and powerful: a place to hang out and enjoy music. To meet interesting and like-minded people. For me, 363 is a place to feel just a hint of childlike freedom, the infinite possibility that comes with playing in the backyard. 

FY6A7954.jpgAbove: Joy Hackett and Brandon Walters at the “SJW: San José Winnin” Show. Photo by Leopoldo Macaya.

Coming down the home stretch of 2018, we finally got a chance to catch our breath; to appreciate all that had happened and strategize for the months ahead. And most importantly, to take time and be self-critical. We realized our primary area for growth was inclusivity. Not only in being considerate of who we choose to present on stage, but also how we make ourselves more of an open platform. We, the founding members, have never striven for exclusivity. The Come Up is our baby, and we are overprotective parents. We still need to improve this regard, and it is a process we are very much looking forward to.

FY6A5293.jpgAbove: Kamiko performing at “Sound Scaping” at the San Jose Museum of Art

The start of 2019 has been electric. Sound Scaping, a partnership with SJMADE at the San Jose Museum of Art, was a success beyond what we could have hoped for. A deeply humbling milestone. And only this past week, The Younger Lovers gave an unforgettable performance at Cafe Stritch, right where it all started.

FY6A7789Brontez Purnell of The Younger Lovers. Photo by Leopoldo Macaya.

The founders of The Come Up are forever indebted to those who took a chance on us. This idea was born of a very complex love for San José, and the desire for a way to express it. It’s not always an easy city to pursue your passion in. But the brilliant creative-entrepreneurs who work at it, who see the potential instead of the obstacle, who hold up the light and help others find the way, are a miracle. We’re honored to be a part of this extraordinary time in our city.

There’s more work to be done. We are still on the come up, after all. 

FY6A8188.jpgLeft to right: Leopoldo “Jon Jon” Macaya, Isaiah Wilson, and Riley McShane. Co-Founders of The Come Up.

 

 

The Man Behind The Mulch: A Talk with SJ New-Comer Mitchell

written by Isaiah Wilson

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Mitchell greets me upstairs at Caffe Frascatti with two iced waters, which were much appreciated. Even though it was a cold rainy day, our interview was in the hot, stuffy upper floor of the cafe. He runs back downstairs to grab his hot tea. I recall this is where I first met Mitchell; it was an Open Mic Night at Frascatti and he was playing some acoustic tracks that sounded like a cross between Ty Segall and Bass Drum of Death unplugged. He seems very focused and in good spirits, he has been spending a lot time in the studio working on multiple projects.

When I gave a synopsis of Mitchell’s Canned Worms (Demo) EP for our Best of 2018 list, I noted that the EP sounded like a soundtrack for a night of drinking, skating, and debauchery. So there was a contrast between the conjured up alter-ego that is Mulch and the Mitchell Licata who sat across from me sipping tea and nibbling on a cookie.

Mitchell Licata, who was taken on the pseudonym Mulch, is a musician, songwriter, and graphic designer who currently resides in San Jose. While there are multiple musicians in San Jose creating r&b, hardcore punk, and hip-hop, Mitchell has been churning out garage rock projects, pushing a different sound in the South Bay. Last year, he began putting out slow, easy-going rock songs onto Soundcloud that garnered a decent amount of buzz. Mitchell preceded to drop a surprise EP, Canned Worms, a self-depreciating, aggressive, punk-rock influenced work about a young man dealing with unemployment and maybe a little bit of heartbreak.

Mitchell has touted this as his proper first release and it’s a solid punk project. Before Mulch and Canned Worms, He removed his first few demos off his Soundcloud to rework the songs and polish unintentional sharp edges.  After hearing some positive feedback from the local community, Mitchell felt he could do better as far as the mix was concerned, “There were a few things in the demo that I wasn’t pleased with,” Mitchell admits when deciding to release a studio version of his Canned Worms EP on multiple platforms. “And I feel like I could do [his songs] a little more justice as the first thing I show people.” Mitchell took Canned Worms and rerecorded it at The Cosmic Hippo, a music studio in San Francisco. He was grateful for the recording process. Not only did he receive great resources from a studio space, but he had a co-creator to help bounce ideas during the recording sessions, “It was great to get this wholesome experience of being in a space that I didn’t create myself.” Mitchell added.

Garage punk is the only justifiable name for Mitchell’s music because his first few demos were made in his garage, a makeshift studio and practice space at his house in the Washington-Guadalupe neighborhood in San Jose. “In my garage everything feels like it’s not finished,” Mitchell tells me. “Even if it’s a good mix. It’s just the nature of being in a garage.”  If I am going to remain honest, I am a sucker for unpolished music, especially if it has the rawness that Mitchell displays in his vocals. However, Mitchell has more ambitious views on his final product, “That’s only going to get you so far with limited resources. I can be resources for my friends [with his experience creating a studio project]”

Some of his friends are Swells and The Lunatics a brain child’s of SJ artist Austin Avilla’s, which is made up of  young talented such as John Lord on synths, Anthony Garcia on drums, Ryan Wall on guitar and Mitchell on bass. While Swells’ first projects seemed to be the sole creations of Austin’s, this future project appears to a comprised effort of the collected talents of the Lunatics. They also began working on a studio album in recent weeks. Swells and The Lunatics’ live performances are some of the best performances we have had for The Come Up shows, so we’re looking forward to their album.

The new mixing on Canned Worms improves the project, which was already solid in its demo form. The bass and drums are distinguishable, and the vocals are better mixed within the rest of the songs. The project’s harsh vocals, fuzzy guitar riffs, all complement the rage manifested and articulated in the project.

Mulch is a new moniker for Mitchell and it appears that it is a character meant to embody a more aggressive side of an otherwise chill artist. “I am a fucking slob, I need a fucking job” is the first lines on the EP and acts as the thesis of the project. Mulch feels like Mitchell in a manic frenzy- he is angry at his boss, the world, and himself- and it’s the energy you should expect over the next few songs. A notable refrain in the project describes himself as a worm “Crawling nowhere through the dirt“. Lyrics like this paint the imagery of Mitchell as one of many worms in the can, aimlessly meandering in soil trying to figure out his place.

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After some listens, you realize how well thought out the EP is. All four songs on Canned Worms were written in the span of a week, inspired by his frustrations at a sub-par job. Feeling under utilized and under appreciated, he channeled his grievances into this project. “It is a feeling of guilt and lack of self-worth” Mitchell says, describing the feeling of unemployment, now currently enjoying his career in graphic design. That nuanced anger is laced on the tracks, something that is beyond a typical tantrum song on a angst punk project. Mitchell seems to be the master of the imagery that can be heard in the lyrics, seen on the lyrics videos he released to complement the release, and on the EP cover art designed by Mitchell himself.  “I was feeling like I was crawling around that I wasn’t succeeding in the way I envisioned myself to do.” Mitchell tells him as he snacks away on a cookie. It’s hard to imagine an artist with this much focus had doubts of his self worth.

My favorite track Give/Take centers around the frustration with his employer. The song is about Mulch feeling like he was giving more than he was receiving with the relationship with his job. As suspected, Mitchell revealed the lyrics are partially inspired by romance. When it comes to the sources of the gritty record, Mitchell says the lines are blurred and up for interpretation. Discussing the song Alright, Mitchell claims  “It’s a push-and-pull where everyone wants to be in-between casual and series all time and that’s a little reflection on that [modern relationships].” Mitchell has the writing style of a story teller who can paint a picture with his musings. It will be fascinating to hear his future projects now that he is in a better place. But based on his previous demos and his overall demeanor, I dont believe he will have to rely heavily on raw rage.

Mitchell’s musical influences include The Growlers, Neil Young, Fuzz, and Ty Segall, artists known to make unique sound while still being nuanced and introspective in their songwriting. Mitchell has spent the past few years searching for a grunge, surf rock sound that mirrored his influences. This led him to explore different genres and places to draw inspiration. Honing in on that sound required Mitchell to listen to work that captured the raw emotion reflected in Canned Worms, such as Minor Threat and The Dead Kennedys. It is that punk-inspired animosity combined with Mitchell’s garage rock swagger that make Canned Worms a unique fun ride for hipsters and Punks alike.

And on a sonic level, Mitchell describes his sound on the EP as “kind of dirty and in the mud.” And it contrasts greatly from his garage rock sound that can be heard on his demos and live performances. There is a through line in Canned Worms’ narrative structure, beyond imagery and sound, that works well in a four song project. That through line is the character of Mulch himself.  Mulch’s Canned Worms is a relatable story that describes a common phase in a young person’s life; you are down on your luck, your romantic life sucks, and you have an axe to grind. Hearing the re-recording process and polishing of a short hard rock record paints a picture of the man behind the Mulch. A matured, thoughtful artist who is meticulous and intentional with his work. It’s digestible enough where it deserves multiple listens.

And this is only the start of Mitchell’s plans for this year. “I want to start establishing shows around here,” Mitchell asserts. He even has a small team to push his new EP with the hopes of securing shows, hopefully Burger Records, a Fullerton-based record label that has established a sound that has been an influence on Mitchell’s sound. “We think that community [Burger Records music community] would really accept and welcome the music… As far as other projects go, I’m already working on another EP, which I plan to release before Summer, and then hopefully a full length by the end of the year. I’m making a list and I have a lot of content I want to share with everybody.” After three years of writing and composing, Mitchell is relieved to have a project he can stand behind. Canned Worms was a genuine push for Mitchell to put something out and he seems impassioned on continuing the forward momentum.

Mitchell’s inspiration for the character Mulch provides insight on Mitchell’s likely trajectory, “The definition of Mulch is a protective layer that allows the nutrients to do there job underneath so it allows it to grow,” he says, “and that took on a different meaning because now I have something on which to build.” Mitchell feels confident that his foundation is laid out and the only move next is growth.

Canned Worms is now available on all platforms.

Best SJ Releases of 2018

 

 

 

written by Isaiah Wilson

edited by Riley McShane

San Jose has had an astounding year of local music, shows, and performances. There are several artists to list- some of which will have their own spotlight pieces in future Come Up wrtie-ups. For now, the following makes up the most original music to come out this year and the songs, EP’s, and albums I found myself listening to over and over again this year.

SWELLS

Bedroom Tapes EP

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The creative love child of singer and multi-musician Austin Avila, Swells is the coalescing of modern lofi hip hop and the current shape of the indie sound brought on by genre heavy-hitters Connan Mockasin, King Krule and Ariel Pink. Swells’ take on indie pop is a dreamy project that has the feeling of a sultry indie pop song on a worn cassette tape. The guitar is sexy and coaxes the track with reverb that is akin to surf rock, and his breathy ethereal vocals mesh well with the hip hop grooves brought on my the drums and bass. The live variation of Austin’s solo project, Swells and The Lunatics, comprises of several great solo acts and takes the down-tempo of Swells’ solo work and adds a surf-rock-meets-rockabilly excitement to it. I have had the pleasure of seeing the talents of Swells first hand and I have no idea what his next project is going the sound like. And that is the excitement of it.

 

Dreamawake

For production “You Ain’t Loyal” , “Highs & Lows”, and “Rage”

 

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In the shifting landscape of modern hip-hop, there is a revitalization of the importance of the producer within the genre. Acts such as Zaythoven, 40, Metro Boomin, and Knxwledge are becoming household names, even releasing commercial and critically successful projects themselves such as Not All Heroes Wear Capes and NxWorries. Because of this dynamic shift in the genre, and the greater accessibility of music producing software and midis, producers are attempting to distinguish themselves from the other beatmakers by their unique style and the artists they choose to collaborate with. Dreamawake has stood out among the South Bay producers by being the mastermind behind some of best local releases of the year. He excels in creating slick production, instrumentation, and samples, for an array of rappers and performers from Young Tsukune, Kylah Symone, Dima, and more. Dreamawake’s mastery is his ability to make content that is dark and emotionally potent, and collaborating with artists who bring his production to life. 

Young Tsukune

“Hollow” and “Weed & Shorty” Singles

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A tricky aspect of looking at the SJ music scene is recognizing the artist’s performing are still in the early phases of their musical creation. As a result, a lot of artist’s influences are apparent to point that is distracting.Young Tsukune has crafted his own sound that cannot be found anywhere else, not to say you cannot hear contemporary acts that influence him, but he has made his sound uniquely his. His singing voice is incredible, but his years developing his rapping abilities has created a synthesis of triplet style rapping with a r&b. Tsukune’s choices of instrumentals, use of autotune, are deliberate, because he has a self-awareness of his sound and how to best utilize. “Weed and Shorty” “For The Love” are examples of his diverse sound. Tsukune has the kind of voice and vocal range and control that some of the most successful hip hop artists in the game do not possess and it’s why in every conversation about the SJ music scene, Tsukune is brought up. His music is melancholy usually discussing love, struggling to become a success, and the growing pains of adulthood. Even his more bubbly lofi instrumentals cannot mask a deeper longing that is present in a lot of his tracks. 

 

Mild Monk

Kindness and Here’s To You singles

 

 

 

 

Mild Monk’s “Kindness” and “Here’s To You” is fairly stripped down from his typical layered, quirky bedroom-pop influenced production. Mild Monk offers laidback textures akin to Homeshake, while embodying a fun-loving indie rock sound that’s part Mac DeMarco, part George Harrison. Monk isn’t tied to any particular sound, providing a smorgasbord of sonic diversity from adding synths, acoustic guitars, trumpets, all over his whimsical vocals. A peak inside his downtown studio apartments reveals a music studio set up with keyboards, drums, guitars, bass, and software to satisfy his appetite for experimenting sounds. He seems primarily focused on creating music, taking down his social media presence, and utilizing Funnybone Records to promote his releases.

 

“Kindness” and “Here’s To You” act as two halves of the same creative coin. They both sound like a moment of creative clarity, Monk’s choice using more subtle synths and allowing the guitar and a sparse drum and bass that feels like demo from The White Album. The songs are full of gratitude, the beauty of existence, and a choice to pursue a greater self. It feels like when your face catches a moment of sunlight in an otherwise cloudy winter day. These tracks are a fascinating indicator of where Mild Monk is headed; be sure to watch for the sunlight when it arrives. 

 

Natasha Sandworms

Single Celled

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Natasha Sandworms’ Single-Celled is a proper first album from the local indie rock artist: like a coming-of-age project themed around isolation, self-reflection, love, and loss. I wouldn’t be surprised if the lyrics and concepts that made up Single-Celled have been written over the course of years. The guitars are droning and melancholy on the majority of the album, only occasionally opening the door to more bedroom pop sensibilities. Natasha’s writing, singing, and guitar talents are on full display, but also her restraints; she allows the guitars to carry the songs at points to establish a tone, sometimes using her voice sparingly but effectively such in tracks like “Talent Show”. The aggressive self-deprecating track “My Partner” is the standout track: a raw lamentation of a broken romance carried through harsh vocals and a acoustic guitar. It’s the one moment where she does not pull a punch and it works. The closing track “Single-Celled” which feels most like the album’s lead single is a beautiful finale to a project that feels like Natasha’s story.

 

This may be my favorite local project of the year. It was released in July and it feels like something you listen to in the quiets moment of the Summer. I am glad we were able to catch up with Natasha so far, I’m looking forward to hearing more stories from her. 

 

Dima

Highs and Lows single

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Dima’s music occupies two worlds; in her live performances, she plays with a full band where she hones in a r&b, neo-soul sound. The second world Dima occupies is where her studio work mirrors a contemporary pop that covers the ground of modern r&b and hip-hop. Her live performances, discography, and circle of artists she chooses to collaborate with, prompted The Come Up to book her for a show and interview her. From “Coffee” to “Sick and Tired” she carries a unique vocal style and confidence behind her style, even in tracks that showcase her insecurities. However, it is her Dreamawake produced track “Highs and Lows” that is a high for her and SJ music. It indicates a more mature tone, combining lyrics of a distant lover, dark moody well mixed production, and utilizing autotone and pitched vocals to add another a layer to the final product. It is composed with sonic highs and lows, which complements the content of the song itself. I do not think Dima is going develop ‘one’ distinct sound. The through line for Dima’s sonically diverse output is Dima herself. 

 

Mitchell

Canned Worms EP

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A succession of hard rock demos from SJ based artist Mitchell caught our attention this year with a indie rock sound with an almost California rockabilly swagger to it. Then Mitchell surprised folks with his Canned Worms EP, an fitting title of his condensed four song project with aggressive chords, straightforward lyricism as unchained as early Fidlar. Canned Worms is short, sweet, aggressive fun that makes you want to skate through back alleys downing tallboys with your homies. Mitchell channels the spirit of a lot of talented contemporaries- The Growlers, Wavves, with a smattering of The Descendants and Cherry Glazerr. This revival of a skate punk sound comes from an artist who has concentrated all of his various talents into a cohesive project. Alongside Austin Avila in Swells and the Lunatics, the two acts on this list create a whole unique sound of their own. Mitchell is poised to be a significant presence in the SJ music scene, and we’re excited to see where he goes after such a big year. 

 

Normtronics

6 Months of Grind

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I am not sure if any artist can compete with Normtronic’s output this year. Releasing about 160 songs this year alone, the New Jersey born artist creates immersive beats that blend together elements of house music, jazz, and new age lofi that follows the veins of fellow New Jersian producer Knxwledge. While a lot of beat tapes nowadays can feel a bit stale, confined by formulaic techniques meant to create a rhythm to study-slash-chill to, Normtronics demands attention by melding synths, smooth bass lines, unique and hard-hitting drum patterns, and samples that move him into the realm of of DJ Shadow or RJD2 or as far as complexity and execution is concerned. Currently residing in Oakland, he has pulled in influences from several genres of music, making his work a sonic kaleidoscope of sounds that have no business melding together . All of his tapes are worth listening to, but a standout for me is 6 Months of Grind, a compilation of 6 months of work over this past year. The tape provides the listener a look into how much heart and work ethic is molded into a cohesive project. 6 Months of Grind is a modest title, years of musical training, studying, beat making, and appreciation for several genres make this project. I’m assuming Normtronics will be on to bigger and bolder works come 2019. Favorite tracks: “Experiment 3” and “Can’t.Take.It.Anymore[Love Ain’t Coming]”.  

 

Knowmadic

Hydrangea

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Any self-proclaimed lover of lofi hip hop who has not come across the work of SJ based artist Knowmadic needs to stop what they are doing and queue it up this second. Providing his instrumentals for various labels, being part of countless instrumental and lofi playlists, and contribution to compilations such as acclaimed behemoth beat tapes BLESS Vol 1. and Vol 2., Knowmadic has made a name for himself as one of the most prominent beat makers in the game right now. A standout project for me was Hydrangea, a beat tape that is textured with low pitched kicks and snares, samples that are dreamy with a vinyl analog touch, and basslines that balance all of the parts that make up each track. Hydrangea feels vintage with the care and attention to detail and overall originality propel this tape from the saturated “lofi” genre. It is a treat to hear the tape in its entirety. 

Honorable Mentions:

These are great notable works that are worth your time and attention. Who knows, some might end up being a piece later.

Reign-  Days Before Winter EP

Sam Ruckus- The Dedicated 

Quigs- My Feelings

Mahlleh- Dysfunktional 

Kamiko ft. Vudaje- Underwater 

Craig White & BcGot Bars- Real Player Hours 

Bird and Willow- Cloth 

Chine Slender- Know Who

Matinee – Breathe

Cultbusters – Stop Being So Dumb 

DJ EMz and Nate

Pink + Flourish Mix

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DJ Emz has been the resident DJ for a lot of Come Up events for the better half of this year. One of her best projects is a collaborative mix she made with producer and artist Nate. The ability to curate and mix various artist into a cohesive project is a skill. There is a unique talent in mixing and properly curating a decent collection of songs to invoke an emotion and to create a vibe. From remixes from Frank Ocean, Thugga, Kevin Abstract, Travis Scott, MGMT, and much more this is a love letter. Notably this mix creates a through-line for multiple artists who have no business existing on the same mix. It is a noteworthy mix and one of many from both artists, which is worth checking out. 

 

So that is our list! Want to be on our next ‘best of’ list? Be sure to submit your work to us and tell your friends about The Come Up. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated on our upcoming shows. You may end up playing for one of our shows in 2019! Thanks for an amazing year everyone, be safe, and good to each other!

-Bless Up

Culture in Our Backyard: 363 House

written by Isaiah Wilson

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A part of DIY shows has been the idea that any space can be used as a music venue as long as you have musicians, an audience, and some ingenuity.  It is a necessity in a city like San Jose, with a shortage of music venues- especially all-age ones. An unspoken vision of The Come Up is that every space is a venue; from breweries, to food halls, to coffee shops, Peace and Justice Centers, and art museums. And just as we are a collective of creative who re-imagine spaces for putting on shows and bringing the young art community, other creatives are making those spaces for the art community to utilize.

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We found that at 363, a house made up of creatives located in downtown San Jose that has been hosting a myriad of gallery events, parties, open mics, and Come Up shows. I think it is important that musicians understand that their city is their platform and being inventive is how a scene develops. But when creatives like the Baxter Bros. at 363, who converted their backyard and basements into spaces for performances, galleries, and movie showings, it allows those artist to thrive. Over the course of six months, it has become San Jose’s best kept secret.

Since the inception of the The Come Up, the guys and I have talked about doing a backyard show. Something about the free structure of a backyard show is just something that is fitting for a collective that is about creating new spaces within a music scene. It’s also something that is already a essential part of the SJ music scene, especially the hardcore punk scene on the Eastside. So for the Summer, we decided to regroup and adjust ourselves before returning for A Come Up show at Uproar back in August.

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Our photographer and creative director Leo had the idea of having a cookout BBQ show. His idea was a simple barbecue cookout with people who have either performed, is a local artists, or part of the community that regular supports local acts. My friend Wyatt had a similar idea in mind for his place, and over the course of about two weeks him, his brother Steve, and so many other people built a stage, a deck, lattices, collected furniture, hung up lights to begin developing this art house. We had the pleasure of kicking off the first event with the new digs set up.

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Our first backyard show called The Come Up Cookout. It was a backyard show featuring five live acts, tacos, beer, spike ball, soul cycling, a bus with henna tattoos, and a downstairs speakeasy. Beyond being a fun time, it was an inclusive event and the 363 encouraged people to be themselves, have a good time, and spread good vibes. And that message has stuck, thanks mostly by the warm people who live in this amazing space.

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We kept this momentum going and had a pure Backyard show on the 18th of August. And The Come Up with 363 hosted a giant Halloween on October 27th show that had tons of great artist, spooky themed drinks. We had three unique showcases thanks to 363. Catch the video below of our backyard show this past Summer in a video by our Creative Director Leo.

Beyond large parties and backyard shows, 363 has also hosted smaller intimate showcases in their Speakeasy space in the basement of the house. It was a longtime project of Wyatt and Steve’s turning a basement into a rustic space that allows young artist to thrive and perform.

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Be sure to check out Lavish Buds, a show featuring live music, an art gallery, and a magazine release of the event organizer. It happens on December 15th at 363!

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And if you haven’t yet, follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated on the events The Come Up and our friends are throwing in 2019.

 

photos were taken by Leopoldo Macaya and Matthew Van Cleave

Slade Introduces Us To “Trap-Folk” on From My Room

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By Riley McShane

“At this point in my life, this is how my emotions, experiences, and stories all sound.”

A potent, about-to-leave-town type of melancholy lives at the heart of San Jose-raised Max T. Slade’s debut album, From My Room, self-released on November 20th. The 18-year old Slade started his recording process, as you might guess from the title, in the bedroom of his childhood home in San Jose. It was finished however, in a dorm room in Seattle, where he now resides. In the literal sense, the project spans a great distance – the 800 or so miles from the Bay Area to the Puget sound. But much more impressively it spans a major emotional journey: that of moving away from home and, as Slade puts it, “starting over in a way.”

Slade sees a major influence of From My Room in Justin Vernon’s enigmatic, ever-evolving project, Bon Iver. In the 8 years between Bon Iver’s debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, and 2016’s barrier-challenging 22, A Million, Vernon’s enigmatic project became a symbol for reinvention and a touch point for the evolution of “folk” music. Slade admires Bon Iver for “getting his audience to think differently about the genre of music he makes,” adding, “I wanted to attempt this…so I worked toward making what appears to be a stripped down acoustic album, adding unorthodox production into the mix.” Slade found an unlikely influence in his production: trap music, “[it’s] something I enjoy making separately from what I actually release.” While trap and folk certainly seem like strange bedfellows, the subtle electronic drum and bass on tracks like “Cactus” and “Offroading” demonstrate Slade’s ability to weave the two into something unique. It’s still folk, and in some ways very traditional, but put into a bag and shaken up a bit – the contents that spill out in the form of From My Room have a distinct and irresistibly modern edge.

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The list of prefixes attached to “folk” is now seemingly endless, and we’re certainly not helping with the addition (and perhaps coining?) of “trap-folk.” The genre is not diluted by its diversity, however, but strengthened by it. As many great, contemporary folk artists have proven – the form can always use a little tampering and distorting. It doesn’t have to stay within the boundaries laid by Greenwich Village in the 1960s. “Folk” music is defined by the artist writing about the experiences, emotions, people and events that are most real to them – and presenting these ideas in a way that feels handmade. In this, Slade has certainly succeeded. We are excited to see how he continues to evolve his sound – check out From My Room in the embed below, and on all major music streaming services.

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10 Bay Area Artists You Should Listen To (Right Now!)

The Bay Area is currently exploding with new and interesting musical talent. We put together a list of 10 of our favorites: some you may have heard of, some you probably haven’t!

Vudajé

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Photo Credit: Michael Rubio (@auxchordpapi)

Led by San Jose music veteran Mitchell Luján and a cast of accomplished musicians, Vudajé (a play on déjà vu) have nailed down a smooth and clean R&B sound in the 4-song EP, recorded primarily by Luján. It’s one of the best-produced albums to come out of San José in quite some time. Never ones to sleep on success, Vudajé has followed it up with two stellar singles, a power-pop throwback “Roleplay” and a sinewy, sultry number, “Nosedive.” Already in 2018, the band has been tearing it up in their hometown and beyond, with recent shows at Local Color in SJ and The Depot in SF, not to mention winning the Southwest Airlines – Coca Cola co-sponsored Eats & Beats contest! We were lucky enough to host Vudajé for our very first every Come Up show back in February, and we can’t wait to see what they’ll do next. 

Boy Scouts

Taylor Vick 2018

Photo Credit: Rachel McCord Creative (@rachelmccordcreative)

Boy Scouts is the performing moniker for SF-based singer-songwriter Taylor Vick, who has crafted beautiful and haunting bedroom-folk for the last several years. Vick’s first official boy scouts release was “Homeroom Breakfast” (see link above) in 2016. Having broken down traditional folk song structures and eschewed rhythm section in favor of vocal harmonies and samples, her songs are immediately captivating in their uniqueness. A follow-up 7-song release entitled “Hobby Limit” appeared in September 2017, and most recently a batch of 4 re-worked older songs, “Mood Rings.” Vick has a special talent for taking mundane subject matter: parks, fountains, her plants, etc. and injecting them with a palpable beauty. She will be an exciting artist to watch as boy scouts (now with a full live band) continues to pick up steam. See her at Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club on August 9th. 

The Seshen

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Photo Credit: Afropunk (@afropunk)

It’s almost impossible to call The Seshen up-and-coming at this point, but if you aren’t familiar with this powerhouse six-piece, you owe yourself the education. Led by singer/lyricist Lalin St. Juste and bassist/producer Akiyoshi Ehara, The Seshen carries on the bay area music tradition of building a sound that defies genre by fusing elements of R&B and synth-pop, among others. We got our first introduction to The Seshen at last summer’s San Jose Jazz Summerfest, with their rousing performance at Café Stritch. The group’s popularity has exploded since, having supported acts such as Thundercat, tUnE-yArDs, and Petite Noir, on their way to a headlining date at The Independent on September 1st. Buy a ticket, don’t look back.

Jay Som

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Photo Credit: The Bay Bridged (@thebaybridged)

Walnut Creek-born Melina Duterte picked up her performing moniker, Jay Som, from the same Wu-Tang Name Generator that bestowed “Childish Gambino” on Donald Glover. While their music is considerably different, Jay Som and Gambino share one thing in common: they are busy as hell. Since first turning heads with 2016’s Turn Into (Polyvinly) the band has been on the road A LOT, playing major festivals (including this year’s Panorama in NYC) and supporting everyone from The National to Mitski. Jay Som’s 2017 release, Everybody Works (Polyvinyl), was one of the best of 2017. Period. Spanning intensely intimate (see “(BedHead)”) to youthfully bombastic, (“Everybody Works”), it’s a modern indie masterpiece. We at The Come Up were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Jay Som back in February. The proof was there: Jay Som is on their way to big things!

The Saxophones

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Photo Credit: The Saxophones Bandcamp

Emerging from relative obscurity, this Oakland-based husband/wife duo (Alexi Erenkov and Alison Alderdice) put out a 3-song EP in early 2017, each song a dark slow-burn beauty, particularly the standout “If You’re On The Water” which explores a personal tragedy from Erenkov’s own life. It’s quite remarkable for a group to make such an impression in today’s age by crafting ballads. The duo quickly followed up on their first release with a series of singles, leading to their debut LP Songs of the Saxophones, a gorgeous and timeless collection, flush with woodwinds and Erenkov’s softly heartbreaking vocals front and center. The Saxophones play Peach House Presents’ Daydream Festival in Sacramento August 5th.

EaSWay

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Photo Credit: EaSWay Twitter (@EaSWay)

Born in San Francisco, Easweh Harrison has been making music for an impressively long time considering he’s still only 23. After moving to Los Angeles to attend USC and grow his music career, Easweh became more involved in visual arts, crafting a distinctive style through digital painting and design. According to his self-written Spotify bio, EaSWay’s art, be it musical or visual, “attempts to spark constructive dialogue about about things that go on in the world that may not be discussed in such public spaces.” EaSWay is a socially-engaged emcee, displaying a fully-formed vision on 2017’s The Panther in the Room. In the very opening lines of “Blue Skies”, EaSWay proclaims, “this is a story about a boy, about a quest, for respect and nothing less.” EaSWay certainly has our respect, and our attention.

Dick Stusso

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Photo Credit: Harldy Art Records (@hardlyartrecords)

Who would’ve guessed that such a swaggering, hot-blooded Americana sound would come out of Oakland? Even after his solid debut, “Nashville Dreams/Sings the Blues” on Vacant Stare Records, Stusso hadn’t received much notoriety outside of the Bay. But that is already starting to change, thanks in large part to his powerful and surprisingly moving LP, “In Heaven,” released this time around by Hardly Art Records. The album traipses over the darkened territory of disillusionment, and settling into adulthood, but maintains a half-drunken smirk the whole way through. As a songwriter and storyteller, Stusso now stands next to Sonny Smith as a fixture in the Bay Area scene, and is sauntering into a grander spotlight – catch him at Outside Lands 2018!

Spellling

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Photo Credit: Spellling Bandcamp

Arguably one of the lesser-known artists on this list, Spellling (aka Oakland-based Chrystia Cabral) describes her sound as “Freak Faith Folk” and it could not be more accurate. We have a hard time describing Spellling without simply saying that they are different. Cabral’s first full-length release, Pantheon of Me, was written, performed and produced in her Berkeley apartment, and landed at #4 on Bandcamp’s top albums of 2017. Interestingly enough, Pantheon of Me reminds us of the #1 album from that list, Moses Sumney’s insta-classic Aromanticism. Not to box Cabral and Sumney together, as they each have plenty of distinguishing characteristics, but the music of both artists strikes directly to the listener’s soul thanks to their otherworldly voices and production. Legendary indie label Sacred Bones has noticed Cabral’s undeniable talents, and recently released her 7” Hard to Please b/w My Other Voice. We predict Spellling will soon be in the national music conversation, and we will be all the better for it.

Pardoner

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Photo Credit: Bandcamp Daily

It wouldn’t be a Bay Area music list without the local post-punk band of the moment. And for our money, that is Pardoner. Formed shortly after a hardcore band called “Moms” burned out in 2014, the San Francisco four-piece have forged a remarkable messy-but-it-works sound bolstered by their natural chemistry and a certain jagged sense of humor. Pardoner had been at it for a couple years, playing shows out and around the Bay when they captured the attention of Father/Daughter Records, who released 2017’s Uncontrollable Salvation, cementing Pardoner as a real-deal Bay Area band and garnering them some national attention. See them play alongside Oakland DIY vets Club Night, and Vancouver, BC rockers Jo Passed at Oakland.Secret, September 6th.  

Knowmadic

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Photo Credit: Knowmadic Bandcamp

Prolific San Jose-based beatmaker Knowmadic rounds out our list, having quietly amassed himself quite the online following (his song “Fade” just cracked 8 million streams on Spotify.) A master of the lush lofi sound, Knowmadic has been uber-busy in 2018, with five releases only halfway through the year. This includes Spring Loops, which was produced entirely in one day, and Hydrangea EP, put out earlier this month. We can’t stop listening to the latter, a brilliantly crafted piece of work. We know that Knowmadic is not going to be slowing down anytime soon, so while we’re waiting for the next track or tape to come out, feel free to dive into his already impressive library.

 


Think we missed anybody? Of course we did, but that’s because there’s so much music in the Bay. Please feel free to share your favorite local artist with us via email (sanjosecomeup@gmail.com) or DM (@sjcomeup)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Summer Releases from the SJ Scene

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This has been an amazing Summer of musical releases- from both household names to local acts playing around The Bay. Due to global warming a decent part of my Summer has been indoors listening to local songs from some of my favorite acts until the murderous yellow star of our solar systems takes it’s rest on the horizon on our side of the equator to terrorize China. And seeing how I listen to a lot of local music, here is my current Summer playlist of music coming from SJ.

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Lena Nelson

Track: Fireworks

Release: Fourth of July

As much as I enjoy the more breathy, inventive style of singing brought on by the age of social media artists, there is something refreshing about hearing a track from a strong vocalist who is not perched behind their production or lofi engineering. The first single from Lena Nelson’s Fourth of July is entitled, “Fireworks”. It is a strong r&b number with a smooth jazzy keys over a fast-paced track all produced by Nebulous.

As on the nose as a track entitled, “Fireworks” released on the 4th of July is, Nelson has delivered a very solid R&B performance, which is included on this list only shortly after my first listen. It mirrors a Kehlani song in terms of the final product; its confident, sexy, and easy on the ears. It seems that she performs with a neo soul band, so I’m curious what her other tracks will sound like. It will be exciting to see what direction Nelson decides to venture into.

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Jay Summer

Track: Mania

Release Date: July

I couldn’t have a piece on SJ’s summer of music without the aptly named Jay Summer, the sleeping giant of the San Jose music scene. He has expertly crafted a string of releases starting with February’s excellent, “Clutch Burning” and now, the pulsing fever-dream of “Mania.” Summer’s sound exhibits strong influence from artists such as Frank Ocean, Kali Uchis, and Rex Orange County. His songs have a freshly-painted quality that matches his dreamy West-Coast-Livin’ aesthetic, but he also carries some surprisingly weighty social criticism in his sharp lyrics, often musing on the predicament of growing up a small-town New England kid, finding himself in the shiny excess of Silicon Valley.

His first few releases uses motifs of cars and has a cynical take on modern consumerism over summery instrumentals that radiate Channel Orange vibes. Like his influences, he has great vocal range that goes well with his inventive production choices- it is refreshing in a landscape of dreary anti-pop. His r&b takes a more indie rock feel, chords ring through his songs and he uses vocal pitching to deceive the listeners.

The Come Up has enjoyed his releases, even using one of them for our last video bump for a show.

His newest single Mania is probably his most promising release- and I think he knows it. A droning vocal plays throughout that sounds like Thom Yorke’s end to “Daydreaming”. It seems that he is tapping into a abstract sound with his r&b, edging into Jame’s Blake quirky-engineering territory. Mania feels like a down spiral- a song of decadent brand-laden lifestyle, combined with religious allusions to lands of milk and honey and praises to the most high. It seems Jay Summer has found his sound just in time for July.

I’m not sure of the end result of these releases- whether he is going to drop a full ep, album or visual component- but we’re enjoying this series of songs.

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Kylah Symone

Track: How does that sound

Release: July

Kylah Symone is probably one of the most promising rappers in the city, even standing out among her peers of SJ Hip-Hop collective, TankShit. She has proven it over the past years under her former alias KB Howard. Her flow is dope, her writing and handling of any instrumental is impressive. She varies from classical hip-hop, emotionally heartbroken tracks, to tracks “How does that sound” which is less about the lyrics and more so showing her ability to flow on a beat.

Dreamawake’s production on the track is great as always. A booming bass plays over a bombastic trap beat. “I had to work on my worth” Symone raps over the production, her flow fast paced and hungry. The song feels like a triumphant return to form and the SJ rap commnity is hype about it. It seems like Symone is reinventing her style under this new name. I’m excited to see if this solid start leads to new releases of the same style, or if Symone decides to surprise us…again.

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Young Tsukune

Track: Weed and Shorty

Release: July

Young Tsukune played for The Come Up 3 show and he enthralled our entire audience that night. Seeing his incredibly soft voice come from such a quiet and timid person reminded me of watching my first Spooky Black video. His music tends to be bubbly and fun, even when it centers around heartbreak and headaches. This track serves as a balance of his handling of cadence and flow and demonstrates how his voice can make a crowd melt.

Because artists love being compared to contemporaries, I would say Tsukune combines the new age trap pop sound of Lil Yatchy or Uzi, with lofi beats and cloud pop vocals similar to Shiloh Dynasty. Because he has been performing for a long time as a rapper, Tsukune has a better grasp of his breath and delivery, giving him one of the most unique sounds in San Jose. This puts him ahead of the curve of a new genre of rap associated with less- how to say- production-dependent acts. While producer, Dream awake and Young Tsukune are a match made in heaven, his androgynous voice blends well with this guitar laden lofi track.

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Mitchell

Track: Every Devil’s Got His Angel

Release: July

Riley introduced us to Mitchell over the weekend. Hailing from San Jose, Mitchell’s demo releases a garage rock sound that coalesces blues with the modern garage rock sound. It has the feel of a new-age lofi rock, but if you were to strip the psychedelic effects and production. San Francisco Bay Area and Orange County have a kinship of this sound molded from acts like Sic Alps, Ty Segall, and The Oh Sees. Mitchell takes these garage rock sounds and adds a more bluesy feel to tracks. It feels a bit cinematic because he lets the instrumentals fill the song versus layering them with pedals and vocal effects.

For demos, these feel like fully realized songs, especially “Devil Feels Like An Angel”. It bounces to slow burn and hits a chorus that reminds the listener of Mitchell’s more pop sensibilities.  I have a feeling Mitchell and others will help grow the garage rock sound to the SJ music scene. And eventually they will be performing at shows that will attract all sorts of fans- aging hipsters who drink quadruple IPAs and 15 years old who wear cuffed mom jeans and smoke Marlboro Reds.

Artist: Matinee Global

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Track: Adna Kaw

Released: June

Adna Kaw feels like a colossal project, it could be the various genre blending, it could be the pacing, or the credits on the song. A bit of recent trend for reasons I don’t know, but people are into having large teams of people to create projects. This is important for reasons I will cover in my next piece. But Adna Kaw -Which is Wakanda backwards- is a well versed ride that goes into dark alt-hip hop production to a slower alternative rock break. The execution seems a bit forced at points, but the racially tense vibes over percussion that have an African trap feel make up for the change switch ups that occur.

It feels like Matinee Global plans on making waves in San Jose- possibly by the end of Summer time. We will see what comes of this.

Like our list? Good, go follow the links and support these SJ artists. Hate our list? Well what are you doing here then?

Do you feel like your friend or loved has been wrongly robbed from their spot on the playlist? Submit your work, so we can give it a listen. Riley is writing a list of some of his favorite bands, so be on the lookout for that. Until then, keep your ear local.

And be sure to see our show August 4th at Uproar Brewing.