Category Archives: Music

The Amazing Amanyea

By Marshelle Haseley

Amanyea released “Aye aye,” her debut single and video in mid- September, sending waves through Jamaica, the region and even farther. The movement inducing tune was an absolutely fantastic start to a new chapter in her journey that appears to have so much magic ahead.

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All Photos courtesy of Amanyea

It is said that names are powerful, and the names that are given impact us greatly as we walk through life. Amanyea says her name has a number of meanings in various cultures. “I love my name because of the different derivatives it has in many different languages and cultures,” she explained.

Amanyea said, “I was named after a dancer, Artistic Director in Chicago Amaniyea Payne. The meaning she chose to use for her name is “Amani” means “peace” in Swahili and  ‘Yea’ is a light force, a call ‘to you’—so combined it means ‘peace to you’.”

She said her mother chose to use “Aman” which means “peace” in Hindi, and the same “Yea” as a light force— combined, her name means the same— “peace to you”.  She said, “It is something you acquire, but it’s also something you always extend ( like reciprocity with mutual respect ).”

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The artistic talent embodied by Amanyea would have been shining brightly for years leading up to the start of this new chapter in her journey. She said at this point, her mantra is  “Dawg wid too much massa sleep widout suppa.”  She explained her mantra to mean, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good for the great. And while doing so, don’t lose focus because of the opinions of too many people (masters).”

The outstanding young Jamaican dancer said she did not get time to realise she could dance. “Mommy being Dr. L’Antoinette Stines, Artistic Director of L’Acadco, I started dancing at an extremely young age,” she said. In a funny tone, she said she has yet to realise she received the gift of dance.

Singing, however, was a different process. Finding a tone which best suited her soul was a process— digging deeper to discover who she was as a musician— both as a vocalist, and a songwriter. “I realized I wanted to do it when I was 11— then I realized that I ‘needed’ do this at 18. The only thing that was stopping me was fear and opinions— hence, the mantra.”

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“I received many, many years of formal training in dance. I trained with Dr. Stines at L’Acadco, Ballet Training with Elizabeth Samuda and Cathy-Ann Gibbon for Royal Academy of Dance, Cuban Moderna with Arsenio Andrade, and many more,” she said. As soon as she was inspired to begin her journey as a recording artiste she did a number of vocal training sessions, “ but not enough to say I am vocally trained,” she added. Amanyea said her vocal training sessions are important and is continuous.

Her style is unlike anything one would see walking through the city of Kingston. Her eclectic style stands out in any crowd, though she is not a physically tall person—her style and the energy she wears around it makes her seem ten feet tall. Asked about her style she said, “Travel and my background. I grew up around artistic, cultured, ‘MAD’people.” She said fortunately, she has been traveling before she could walk or talk.

“I love different cultures, I love traveling and I unconsciously grab from these different experiences and cultures I’ve encountered,” she said warmly. Amanyea’s mother and brothers are all lovers of music. She said they would listen to Bach, Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, Beyonce’, and then Jay Z. “It was a vibrant, colourful home that I grew up in.  I was exposed to a wide range of music from a very young age,” she said.

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The uncontainable creative life force within her may be responsible for how she experiences the process of creating. She said what she enjoys most about creating is freedom. She said, “I enjoy the freedom of my mind. I get to express in so many different ways, freely, uncensored and comfortably.  I get to freely be myself.”

Many artists say they experience a depth which seems almost like an out-of-body experience when immersed in their craft, but she said she views the concept a little differently. “For me, it’s the other way around. Being immersed in my craft is a ‘reality’ for me. I don’t feel lost, I actually feel like I have found ‘Om’— ultimate consciousness” she explained.  She said her experience is as though everything else she focused on made her lost, while her craft remains the only stable thing in her life. “I finally told myself that  4 years ago— and ever since then, I have been the most focused and ‘found’ I have ever been.”

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Amanyea was asked how she maintained a powerful energy amidst challenges such as a recent injury. She said, “After going to four different specialists in the past year I finally got an MRI done. I had a flap of cartilage that needed to be shaved down. I went in for what may seem like an hour surgery tops and came out 4 hours later. Turns out I had Grade 4 Chondromalacia of the patella and the femoral sulcus.” This means Amanyea had a condition where the cartilage on the under surface of her kneecap deteriorated and softened—a condition common among young athletes.

She was also diagnosed with Osteoarthritis and Synovitis, which is the medical term for a condition where the body tissues lining the joints possess cavities—causing pain and swelling when the joint moves. For any dancer, this would feel like a nightmare.

On April 5, 2018, she said,  “I had arthroscopy surgery done, debridement and microfracture of the femoral sulcus and patella. I lost 17lbs post-surgery and after 8 weeks I started my physiotherapy journey.”

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“I am going to be honest with you— I had fear, emotional pain, and I felt discouraged. I am still pushing and this is still very emotional for me. But I must say – I used my support system as much as possible. I tend to be a loner— but during this whole process I realized how much I need my friends and family,” she explained.

She said she also wanted people to get to know her on social media, “Me— not the pretty side but, me. But social Media only saw the semi-hard parts of my journey. I went through a lot more than I chose to share. I was bedridden for 6 weeks, sent to the hospital because of bad reactions to the pain medicines.

Did more than half of my painful journey without pain meds because I was afraid of the side effects.”

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She said, “ If I didn’t have my friends, and my family around— I wouldn’t have made it this far. I am lucky to also have a physiotherapist who is also a friend— and especially my Mother, Dr. L’Antoinette Stines. She did everything for me, lol “bade me, feed me, everything me” – when I couldn’t myself. It’s okay to need help. I told myself I will be able to do what I love. I am lucky to have 2 loves, Music and Dance and the people around me definitely told me the same. Don’t worry, we got this.”

In wrapping up we asked Amanyea three final questions:

P: What can we look forward to from you?

A: Music. This is only the beginning of my career. I can’t wait for people to hear more of my music and see more of my art, blossom. My aim is to blend all my talents together in one. I released my single September 7th, and the feedback had made me so excited. I am grateful, that so far, people love what they hear and see. Shocking of course, because I am being vulnerable, putting my art out there for people to either love, ridicule, scorn, hate etc. But so far I am humbled at how well received it has been. So, look forward to more music and dance, but not separated anymore. 

P: Where do you visualise seeing yourself one year from now?

A: Can I tell you one year from now? lol I see myself being an artiste, just more potent.

P: What message would you give to Amanyea at 15 years old?

A: Do not be afraid. Cliché? Yes. But I was so afraid to do all the things I wanted to do, I was afraid of opinions, of being laughed at. Dancing was my comfort zone. I wish I was confident enough to sing, and write. Join clubs just for that. But I was afraid.  Fear is a hell of a thing. 

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Sennheiser PXC 550 Review

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Written by DJ Courtney

Let me start by saying I’m now torn, as I recently did a review of the Sony 1000XM2 which is comparable, and in my opinion they are both on par, but let me get into the details.

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Unboxing the headphone was the first time I noticed was how good they looked and felt. Included in the box, was a very simple case, which includes a micro USB cable, wired connection jack, a connection to use on airplanes, the manual -which I normally don’t read, however, that changed quickly as understanding the functionality wasn’t as easy as I expected.

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As was expected from Sennheiser, the headphone had some great features, the noise-cancelling was excellent with a switch that adjusts ambience. You can use gestures on the right ear up, to stop/play/forward/next track etc., however the only drawback, these features were very sensitive.

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Another feature, which I found interesting, was how to turn off the device. This was done by closing the Headphone and to turn it on, you open them. Initially, I had my reservations in regards to the call quality while using the headphone, but that soon changed when I installed the app, which allowed me to adjust the setting to my preference. After I charged the headphone for about 4hrs-I’ve been using it for a combined 17hrs so far.

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So why should you buy it… because it’s made by Sennheiser, & I’m a DJ so I should know- Just kidding.

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The truth is, the Sennheiser PCX550 has great sound, quality, durability & a reputation that speaks for itself. This headphone can more than compete with its competitors in the same price range.

Bowers & Wilkins T7 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Review

Written By DJ Courtney

If you’ve never heard about Bowers & Wilkins before, this brand represents class, style and quality. So when I got the Bowers & Wilkins T7 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker to test- my initial excitement was obvious, however having experienced it, I have mixed views.

Firstly, when I unboxed it, as expected you could see the quality and workmanship that went into designing & building this speaker- it is top class.  The T7 box came with the speaker and the charger included, however, no USB cable.

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Photos courtesy of Bowers & Wilkins

This wireless speaker had a nice spider web/honeycomb design in its housing with a rubber frame around plus the finish was black blended with dark grey. It’s not too big for a portable speaker, but it’s not exactly lightweight either nor can it hold in your pocket.

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The foremost thing that I noticed which bothered me, was what I thought was a USB charging port. It actually turned out to be just for updating the device. Thus, the only way it can be charged is with the charger that comes in the box which I later used and charged it for about five hours.

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Connecting the wireless speaker was easy, the buttons are built into the frame at the top. The Bowers & Wilkins T7 also offered a connection via auxiliary cable. Nonetheless, I decided to test the Bluetooth function by connecting my iPhone and let me tell you, the sound was incredible! I already own two other Bluetooth speakers and the T7 blew them out the water. With that said, this didn’t have a speakerphone function. It has two speakers at the front and a subwoofer styled speaker at the back, nevertheless, as I said before, it sounds awesome.

I’ve been using this wireless speaker on and off now for about six days, yet I’ve still not charged it since the initial power up- now that’s a battery life that I can’t complain about at all.

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This is definitely a high-end speaker, so you’re definitely paying for a quality well-made Bluetooth speaker, which produces great sound from a reputable brand.

It’s presently on my living room shelf for all to see, as this is not one of those speakers to have around the pool or outdoors, unfortunately, it is not water-resistant or waterproof. But all in all, it’s the best sounding Bluetooth speaker for that size I’ve ever used and heard.

 

Architect & Acoustician: JOHN STORYK

Interview by Tricia Williamson

John Storyk, registered architect and acoustician, is a founding partner of WSDG. He has provided design and construction supervision services for the professional audio and video recording community since the 1969 design of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios in New York City. Beyond an architect, Storyk is many things, he is a musician, art lover, history buff, pilot, passionate scuba diver, dedicated father and husband and loyal friend to many.

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PANACHE: We saw an interview where you shared that you once saw an Ad in the East Village’s The Other, “WANTED: Carpenters to work for free on an experimental nightclub.” …Why was it important for you in deciding to do that project also request that you also redesign the club (Cerebrum)?

John Storyk: The interview story is correct. Try to imagine being 22 years old in the summer of ’68. The events that happened that evening in Greenwich Village were quite spontaneous. The project the ad referenced appeared to be fun; I loved theater, and this cub appeared to be a type of theatrical experience. When I finally saw the design the two owners were proposing it just seemed like I should make some changes to it, which I did – the rest is history as they say.

PANACHE: In what way did that project change your life or open doors for you?

JS: The club opened – and within months it was already very well known. It had made the cover of Life Magazine. Jimi Hendrix went to the club one night and had made the decision to open his own open club by purchasing The Generation — which was located in the basement of the 8th street cinema. The club had been a well-known blues club in the area for the past few years. The irony is that I used to go visit that club a few years earlier to listen to blues artists. I was in a blues band in college as a student at Princeton. Even more ironic is that it was the basement of the cinema designed by one of my all-time architect idols – Fredrick Kiesler. A perfect storm of serendipity striking.

PANACHE: What was it like designing for a legend like Jimi Hendrix?

JS: A bit surreal. I believe Jimi had a few different personalities, but I mostly saw the quiet and almost shy Jimi. Most of the time I spent working on the studio was with his engineer and producer, Eddie Kramer, who became a lifelong friend. Jimi’s input was always special. He did not read architectural drawings very well but had a very definite idea of what he wanted the club to feel like. The club eventually became Electric Lady Studios. Jimi worked on emotions, and it was very special to be with him. All of this happened to me before the age of 24 and by the time Electric Lady Studios opened in the summer of 1970, I already had four more studios to design. Career tip: make your first project famous. For me, it certainly changed my life!

JungleCityStudios
The epitome of hip elegance and acoustical excellence, Jungle City Studios signify the dawn of the ‘Retro Future/Future Retro’ era. The $6 million + complex also re-calibrates the benchmark for destination studio design. Crowning a new luxury office building at 520 West 27th Street in NYC’s chill High Line district, Jungle City morphed 4800 square feet of raw real estate into a showplace duplex with soaring ceilings, a 370 square foot terrace, a 2400 square foot rooftop deck, and river views. Photo courtesy: WSDG

PANACHE: What has been key to your success over the years?


JS: This is a tough question. I believe that I was very fortunate to at an early age discover a way to unite “working”, meaning earning a living, and my artistic loves. Most days, I wake up and simply do not see a difference between “working” and “not working”. This life is one ride – and it has been a very special one that has taken me all around the world, allowing me to meet amazing people. Most of all, it has reinforced my belief in love and art as the most powerful forces in our lives.

PANACHE: In your words, what is WSDG?

JS: Of course this is an acronym for our company – Walters-Storyk Design Group. The ‘Walters’ is Beth Walters, my wife and partner. But it is more than a company, it is a family. My students have become interns, they have become associates, and are now my partners. We have nearly 60 people in multiple offices and locations worldwide. All of them are passionate about our work and passionate about treating our team and our partners (clients) as family. I would never want this spirit to change.

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Berklee College of Music opened the doors to its 160 Massachusetts Avenue, residence tower in January 2014. The building now features one of the largest, most progressive, and versatile professional audio teaching/production/performance complexes in the U.S. Over three years and $100 million have been invested in the development and construction of this cusp point educational compound. Situated over four dedicated floors in a striking, sixteen-story, 155,000 sq. ft. William Rawn Associates building, the ten-studio Walters-Storyk Design Group – designed, audio education component represents a pinnacle of contemporary studio planning. | Photo courtesy: WSDG

PANACHE: What do you envision for the future of studio design in the next decade?

JS: Studios will continue to exist. The fact is that there are more studios than ever before. What is happening now and will continue to happen is a changing business model, a changing technology model, and a more democratic spread of studio locations. Basically, all artists will someday have his or her own studios. These are exciting times particularly for studio design, with the arrival of fantastic computer-assisted modeling software and more and more manufacturers entering the prefabricated acoustic treatment business.

PANACHE: What is your approach when it comes to taking a decision to do a project- what are the key elements or steps in that process of designing and building a world-class studio?

JS: Again, this is a tough question. There are lots of factors. We have a somewhat complex “internal rating system” which includes obvious categories such as the potential benefits to the business, but there are also non-business categories we consider such as the PR value, learning coefficient, location, client friendliness, and other factors. We are very fortunate right now – quite busy, but always excited to meet a new client. And we are always eager to take on a new project. Clients become our partners and hopefully our friends.

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DREAM ASYLUM: One of the contemporary music scene’s most prolific hit producers, Nate ‘Danja’ Hills and partner Marcella Araica have added a cutting edge, Walters-Storyk Design Group recording studio to their N.A.R.S. (New Age Rock Stars) label. Recognized for their work with artists ranging from Britney Spears and Madonna to Justin Timberlake Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z, Danja and Araica now have the luxury of working in a studio ideally suited to their creative needs. |Photos courtesy of WSDG

PANACHE: With thousands of facilities under your belt, can you describe three (3) that stand out to you and why?

JS: My usual answer for this is “..my favorite studio is the one I am working on…” Obviously, it all starts with Electric Lady, on which we must have done something correctly since it in its 50th year is still considered to be one of the world’s most prestigious studios. Another of my favorites is Jungle City Studios in New York City which we did for Annie Mincielli. The multi-studio complex for Berklee College of Music, Boston, where I also teach, would certainly also be on this list. Paul Epworth’s church Studios in London…… and so on.

PANACHE: 100 years from now what will be the WSDG legacy that stands the test of time?

JS: Hopefully we will still be here with our core beliefs – doing great work – doing honest work – continuing to learn – and continuing to have our family values. During the past three years, Beth and I have distributed over 50% of the company to our team – these are exciting times. It is their turn now.

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At age 45 and counting, Electric Lady is one of the world’s first artist owned recording studios and one of the oldest, most famous and most successful studios ever. WSDG co-founder John Storyk was a 22-year-old fledgling architect fresh out of Princeton University when he was hired to design a studio for Jimi Hendrix. One summer evening in 1968, Storyk was enjoying an ice cream cone and leafing through the Village Voice when a classified ad caught his eye: “Carpenters wanted to work for free on experimental nightclub.” Dialing the number from a corner pay phone, he got the gig. | Photo courtesy: WSDG

Sonasterio: Mountaintop Masterpiece

Inside Sonastério, Brazil’s First World-Class, Destination Recording Facility

Global architectural acoustic consulting firm WSDG (Walters-Storyk Design Group) designed Brazil’s first world-class, destination recording studio. A 30-minute drive from Belo Horizonte, the luxurious home is a collaboration between famed Brazilian architect João Diniz and WSDG, for musician/engineer Bruno Barros.

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Photos courtesy of S+WSDG

Perched atop a scenic bluff overlooking the pristine Minas Gerais mountain range the modernistic glass and concrete 8,000 square foot structure is meticulously well appointed and features a 1,500 square foot world-class recording studio with 20′ high ceilings. Acoustic consultant/studio designer WSDG was engaged during the earliest phases of the project to ensure a seamless integration of the recording studio component — a key requirement of Mr. Barros from the beginning.

“It is hard to imagine a more conducive environment to inspire creativity,” commented WSDG Partner/Director of Design Renato Cipriano.” Superb acoustics begin with geometry — we worked hand in glove with the architect to ensure that every square foot was precisely calibrated. The high comfort level set the stage for an extraordinary recording experience. The 750 sq. ft. live room is distinguished by a 20’ ceiling height, an 80 sq. ft. Iso booth, panoramic mountain views, custom ceiling clouds outfitted with a pro lighting grid to facilitate video shoots, and a striking ‘Sunburst’ studio logo hand painted over an acoustical broadband wall treatment.”

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In addition to the recording studio, the showcase home features three guest bedrooms, five-star amenities, abundant natural light and drop-dead gorgeous views from both indoor and outdoor spaces.
“Sonastério Studios is a work of art in itself,” concludes Bruno Barros. “More than just a recording studio, Sonastério is a house of creation designed to enhance the natural expressiveness of each artist.

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Meze Audio 99 Classics Walnut Gold

Written by Marshelle Haseley

Imagine a piece of nature emitting music into your soul—that is the Meze Audio 99 Classics Walnut Gold. It is one of the most beautiful and skilfully designed pieces of electronic device on the market, coupled with a clean and superior sound quality.
The amazement begins with its sleek, black hard EVA carrying pouch. Upon opening the pouch, the stunning dominant hand finished, walnut wood earcups and gold-plated accents of the electroplated precision die-cast zinc alloy hardware are bound to attract lovers of music, who are fascinated by fashionable, functional art.

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The fatigue- resistant chromium-manganese alloy spring metal band ensures a comfortable fit, assisted by the self-adjusting PU headband. The soft PU leather ear pads with medium density memory foams give the most luxurious headphone experience—aesthetically matching the sonic splendour we expect from Meze.

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Photography by Azlan Mohammed

The detachable Kevlar-reinforced cables with machined aluminium casing ensure ease and durability. This antique-meets-modern piece is built to last, and is compatible with Apple, Android, Window, and other devices.

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Listening to any genre of music on this fine piece from Meze Audio takes the listener on a journey—every instrument becomes audible, enhancing the listening experience beyond the imagination.

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The Meze Audio 99 Classics Walnut Gold is a must get for all music lovers who enjoy music, and fine, classic, luxurious experiences.

Simply Iconic: The Zeppelin Review

By Tricia Williamson

It’s been over a decade since Bowers & Wilkins’ first introduced the iconic Zeppelin. This wireless speaker has a stylish, unique and sleek design. I must admit at my first glance of it online, the sheer size didn’t strike me until you see its presence in person. So if you’re in the market for a compact- this is not it.

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Photos courtesy of Bowers & Wilkins

Weighing in at 14lbs, a height of 188mm and width of 660mm- this juggernaut in audio is built for your home. At $699USD, it’s no walk in the penny park. Nevertheless, it is a great addition to your interior design- perfect for a large room with a high ceiling such as a living room or party space.

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Big in size, but even bigger in sound. The Zeppelin is loud and offers high quality, clear audio in its delivery. The speaker is impressive even at high volumes the bass remains powerful yet controlled. Bowers & Wilkins have always been excellent in their craftsmanship.

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As Christmas nears, and we gather for parties and gatherings with family and friends, the Zeppelin is the speaker for your party. You can wake the neighbourhood with this… But please don’t.