Thursday, February 28, 2013

Interview with Ivan Mihaljevic

Hello everyone - I have a treat for you, today!

Remember when I review the music of Ivan Mihaljevic & Side Effects? (link here)

Today, I have got an interview with the frontman of the band. CHECK IT OUT BELOW, and check out the music of Ivan Mihaljevic & Side Effects. You won't regret it - promise


What member of the band am I talking to?
Hello, Ivan Mihaljevic (guitar, vocals) here.

Who are the band members, and what do they each play?
Alen Frljak is playing drums and singing backing vocals. Marko Karacic Karo is playing bass guitar and singing backing vocals and I'm on guitar and lead vocals.

How did the band come together?
I recorded the first album Sandcastle by myself (as my solo album) in 2008. Then I got some gig offers, so I needed to find a band to play the material with. I've known Alen (drummer) and Majkl (our ex-bass player) for a while and they were very happy to join the band. Last year we had the first line-up change so far. We had to split with Majkl since he was drowning [with] family and job commitments, so we invited Marko Karacic Karo to the band. Alen and I have known him for a long time and he's a killer bass player, so we decided he's the right choice for us.

Your band's name - how did that come about?
I recorded the first album Sandcastle on my own (without a band) in 2008 and it was released under my name (Ivan Mihaljevic). After the album was released, I needed a band to play those songs with live. So we formed Side Effects. We wanted people to know that it's a continuation of that same project, so the second album was released under the name Ivan Mihaljevic & Side Effects. For the third album, we actually wanted to change the name and leave only the band name, but our friends and record label strongly advised us not to do so because we got a lot of publicity under the current name, so the name stayed.

What do you feel sets you guys apart from the crowd?
I don't know. We don't think in terms of setting ourselves apart from the others. We just do what we love with all of our passion and hopefully others can feel it and connect with us.

If you could describe the band and your music in five words, what would they be?
Passionate, eclectic, progressive, meaningful, technical.
At least that's our goal! :)

What is the inspiration for your music?
Anything. There is no exact formula. Sometimes it can be an event, sometimes it can be a book I read, a movie or a piece of music. Anything that can move me emotionally is a possible inspiration.

Have you guys ever worked with any other notable musicians, or on any other projects/collaborations?
We're all workaholics and always work on a bunch of projects at the same time. We've opened for Richie Kotzen a couple of times, for Paul Gilbert once, Brett Garsed and Phil Hilborne were guests on our last album, I've played live on stage as a guest with Les Paul in New York...

How were you first introduced to music in your life?
Well, we're all surrounded by music and we listen to it every day whether we like it or not. I've always loved music. The idea of playing an instrument was heating up for a couple of years until it reached the boiling point and then I just had to pick up an instrument and there was no way back.

At what point in your life was the defining moment that made you realize what you wanted to do, as a musician?
I think it was at about age 16. I remember sitting down with my parents and telling them that I wanted to be a professional musician. I thought they wouldn't take it too well, but they were actually OK with it and they always support me.

What do you feel is the best piece of music you've created? Why do you choose this one?
That's always a very hard question. I don't have a favorite piece of music, but there is one that I'm the most proud of. It's the song Eclipse from our new album Counterclockwise. It was very challenging to make such a long song with so many different parts sound interesting and cohesive. I think we did a great job and that's why I'm very proud of that song.

Tell us about your current album? What sets this project apart from the others you've done before?
Counterclockwise is a concept album which is something we've never done before. On the previous albums we usually had a lot of instrumental tracks and for this album we decided to cut down on the amount of instumentals and make songs longer with extended instrumental sections in the vocal songs instead.

Where do you see yourself and the band five years from now?
I don't make such long term plans. I hope we'll continue making the music that we love and touring with it. It would be nice to gain a wider audience and be able to earn a living just by playing in this band. We'll see what the future brings once it comes.

What plans do you have in the near future for music release/recording? What sets this upcoming project apart from your previous ones?
We just released our new album Counterclockwise about a month ago. We're already working on some new songs, but don't plan any official releases for a while since the album is still very fresh. But we always have plans for some YouTube projects and we will surely have some new videos before the next album.

Any upcoming tour plans?
We hope to do an Italian tour as soon as possible. We've played some gigs in Italy and the reception has been great, so we're looking forward to do more of those. We're also playing and Croatia and looking forward to any other invitations that might float along.

What are your thoughts of the current state of the music industry? How do you feel you and the band fit into it? 
Music industry is falling apart. There are great bands out there, but the CDs don't sell anymore and record labels are in trouble. We don't really care about the music industry. I actually feel that the current state has helped to link musicians and fans closer. However, the problem is earning money from the work you do. It's absolutely obvious that we're not doing this for the money, because this is the riskiest job on the planet. If we wanted to earn a lot of money, we'd be stock brokers or bankers, but in today's world you still have to earn some money to survive and that's very hard to achieve as a musician. If you can't live from playing music, then you need to get another job and if you get another job, you probably won't be able to play music as much and keep the quality as high. So, I think something will have to change...

Any words of advice for young/aspiring musicians?
Just keep doing what you love and enjoy playing music! Play songs that you like and it will make you want to play often and get better quickly.

Anything else? 
Thank you for this interview. Please visit our website if you'd like to learn more about us.
You can listen to our whole new album for free on Soundcloud here -
and if you like it, we would appreciate it if you could buy it from CD Baby -


Thanks for reading! Check out Ivan Mihaljevic & Side Effects here!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Songwriting courses

Songwriting courses are great, up until the part where you have to write songs just for class... not for a feeling, not for an emotion, but for a grade. 

Sorry, but I can't rhyme on command. I can, but don't rather like to!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Expression, Not Perfection

Remember, artists - our craft is about expression, not perfection. 

For it is the path of perfection that leads to the loss of loving our craft. 

I have made a video talking about that:

Express, not impress. 

I went down that path, before - especially with my violin. When I had only been playing a few years, I compared myself to those that had played a lifetime. I am still trying to dig myself out of the pain of that trench. 

Love your craft and play. Don't worry about being perfect. 

Trust me. You're more than good enough already if you put your soul into what you do. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Music review of HIGHSPEEDDIRT

Hello everyone - Misstaintedlove back with another music review. 

Today, I'll be reviewing the music of HIGHSPEEDDIRT, a Hard Rock/Melodic metal band from Milan, Italy. Hope you enjoy, and check out the band's website here


HIGHSPEEDDIRT (high speed dirt) is a hard rock/melodic metal band from Milan, Italy. The band members are: Marco Maraschi (vocals), Federico Dick (bass guitar), Stefano Motta (drums) and Domenico Santoro (guitars). 

They have a new album out right now, called 'Playing Hard'. 

I love reviewing metal/hard rock bands like HIGHSPEEDDIRT. Metal/rock is already my favourite genre, and coming across great metal/rock music makes my job so much easier. 

HIGHSPEEDDIRT has all the elements in their corner needed to make a great metal album: energy, enthusiasm, and musicianship. From 'Tragic Ending' to 'Raise Your Middle Finger in the Air', they skillfully put together a great addition to the metal world. HIGHSPEEDDIRT has everything there - rockin' guitars, a steady beat, and excellent vocals (not to mention, great lyrics). They make you wanna jump out of your chair, and bang that head. 

Check out HIGHSPEEDDIRT today!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Artist Review: Brando Albers

Hello, everyone. MissTainted back with another artist review. 

Today, I'll be reviewing Brando Albers, an indie electronic artist from St. Catherines, Ontario. Hope you enjoy the review - all social media links are at the bottom!


"I've been writing music since I was fifteen years old. It started off as something to do with friends. As we aged, my friends moved onto other things leaving me alone with this passion"
-Brando Albers

Brando Albers is a Canadian short film maker/artist/indie composer & music artist from St. Catherines, Ontario. He began making music when he was only fifteen years old! He is very talented for being - and still being - very young. 

His new album, "Fading Away" is currently available for free download on Bandcamp right now. 

The music of 'Fading Away' is a trippey, other-wordly mixture of indie creativity and synthesized style. The sound of 'Fading Away' is of a certain excellently crafted, beautifully melancholic, soulfully poured out charm. My favourite track has to be, 'Nothing Left To Be Afraid of.' Like most all songs on this album, the intro grabs you from the beginning and refuses to release your mind. 

The music sounds of an extreme, professional quality. It has been skillfully created and produced by the multi-talented artist. 

Make sure to check out Brando Albers today! You certainly will not regret it. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Artist Interview with A.S. Swanski

Hello, everyone - MissTaintedLove back. 

Today, I will be interviewing Sweden-based artist A.S. Swanski. Stick around for the interview, and check out the artist here! More links at the bottom. 


How were you first introduced to music in your life?
As a kid I watched Toppop, a weekly Dutch music chart television show. My older brother introduced me to a lot of stuff. Those were the days of glam rock and seeing all these extravagantly dressed rock stars made quite an impression. I didn't always get what they were doing, but it was great to look at. 

At what point in your life was the defining moment that made you realize what you wanted to do, as a musician?
I have done many different types of things, musically, and I'm quite sure that I will be doing other things in the future. I want adventure and never settle for one specific style or sound. This means that ”defining moments” occur all the time, or never, depending on how you look at it. 

How long have you been making music now?
I started playing bass in the early 1980s. That's a long time ago.... Between 1983 and 1997 I played in several bands in The Netherlands, the country I was born in. I started working as A.S. Swanski in 1998 and quickly released my first album, called Twist. Between 2000 and 2009 I focused on other things, for example writing album reviews for a Belgian weekly, but my love for writing and recording my own stuff never faded. So, when I finally had some time left, I reactivated the Swanski inside me.

What was your first project? How have you grown since then?
I started my first band when I was in school. We played five gigs under five different names. It was rather doomy, gloomy stuff. We played covers from Killing Joke and Joy Division plus own material in a similar style. It was good fun but we didn't take it very seriously back then. 

What type of music/artists have influenced you and your music?
I had most of my musical education in the first half of the 1980s which was probably the most adventurous period in musical history. Post-punk had a serious impact on me. I'm not sure to which extent others have influenced me but generally, I like artists who try or have tried to do something others never thought of. Eccentrics like David Bowie, John Cale and Barry Adamson, innovators like Einst├╝rzende Neubauten, Popol Vuh, Yello and Kraftwerk, eclectic bands like The Stranglers and Talking Heads. I haven't listened so much to new artists recently but one that made quite an impression is a French lady named Claeysen who combines a dark electronic sound with neurotic, opera-like vocals.

What is the inspiration for your music?
My latest work has been inspired by crime fiction, older work deals with topics like alienation and politics. Generally, I'm interested in what motivates people to do extreme things. Most of the time though it's music that starts a song, not a topic that I want to write about. 

How do you describe the style/genre of your own music?
My music moves between krautrock and synthpop. I used to call it electro noir, but this term does not always apply to my most recent material. I prefer a free form. I let my songs slowly develop and try to inject them with some sort of suspense. It does happen that I use a traditional song structure, but having a chorus and a few verses is not my starting point, normally. My music has a specific European feel, people say. I sometimes use guitars but never let them dominate my sound and I rather use electronics and musical elements that are not based on blues, funk or rock. 

What do you feel sets you apart from the crowd?
Well, I'm not a crowd pleaser. That's one thing. The last thing I want is giving people innocent ear candy and nothing else. My music should be some kind of challenge. The songs I write are often rather long, do not always have choruses or verses, and can be about rather unpleasant topics. That doesn't mean I avoid beauty. It's just a different kind of beauty.

If you could describe you and your music in five words, what would they be?
The press usually mentions the words ”cinematic”, ”dark” and ”disturbing”. I would add ”funny” and ”European”.  It might be odd to add ”funny”, but according to me, my music is not devoid of humor even when it's a pretty dark type of humor.

What other artists, musicians, and producers have you worked with?
I could a drop a few names of people I worked with in the 1980s and 1990s, but I don't think any of them rings a bell. Too bad, I should add, because they were good. Nowadays I work alone most of the time. The only person I have been collaborating with over the past two years is a Russian singer, La Gouzel, who did the lead vocals for some of my songs. She happens to be my wife too.

What do you feel is the best piece of music you've created? Why do you choose this one?
Like most musicians, I have a tendency to like my most recent work best. In this case, it's not so much one song, it's the project I'm about to complete, which is a series of songs inspired by Swedish crime fiction. Looking back is not my strongest side. Once a song has been released I never listen to it again, unless I really must. I prefer to move on. 

What type of mindset do you get into before you enter the studio to record? Do you do anything special to prepare yourself?
I record at home and I can do this whenever suits me. Writing and recording is work. Lots of trial and error and there is no specific mindset that guarantees results. The best thing appear when you're just playing around, with no intention to create anything at all. I recognize these moments but I always find it hard to remember them afterwards. Very often, when a song is ready, you wonder where it came from. If there is any type of magic involved in recording music, then it's amnesia. 

What can you tell us about your current album? How does it differ from any of your previous projects?
My most recent album releases were Electro Noir from 2012 and Superette, a compilation for mailing list subscribers. I'm currently working on a project inspired by Swedish crime fiction. It's called the Deckare project. It's rather unusual to write songs based on books and though I have done this before, it's the first time I do a whole series. I chose Swedish crime fiction because it shares certain qualities with my music. It's often slow paced, has a few political undertones and mixes menace with mystery. Musically the Deckare songs are more accessible than my previous album. There's more pop in it, even when the material is dark and experimental. 

Where do you see yourself as an artist five years from now?
Still in Sweden, still doing my own stuff. It's fine when people hear my music and appreciate what I do. The last thing I want to become is the next boring rock star making extra money in X Factor advising others how to become equally boring. Well, if I wanted to be famous, I would play a different style of music. 

What are your thoughts of the current state of the music industry? How do you feel you fit into it?
It looks like the best years for indie musicians are over now that streaming audio services have taken the world by storm. With Spotify, most of the revenue ends up with the major labels who funded the company, while with iTunes, indie artists who didn't play live could still earn something. Musicians have to look for alternatives if they want to make a buck. But that's how things go. Creative people make something new and then the industry moguls and their shareholders run with the money. I'm not financially dependent on music so I'm not deeply affected by this. What I find more worrying is how the Web has changed the way music is consumed. Many music lovers seem more obsessed with creating huge playlists that serve as background noise than with actually listening to music. How many still take the time to sit down and listen to a whole album? Not many, I'm afraid, and that's a shame since a well-made album can really be an unforgettable experience, like a visit to a different world. 

What plans do you have in the near future for music release/recording? What sets this upcoming project apart from your previous ones?
First I'll finish the Deckare project. I have another project going on, with poetry put on music. I need to finish that one, but first things first.

Any upcoming tour plans?
No. I don't play live as A.S. Swanski. I wish I could but I don't have a band and it's hard to perform my music without other musicians. Some artists who use a lot of electronics play live with a laptop but I think it looks silly. It's like watching an office with a lightshow.

Any words of advice for young/aspiring musicians?
This question makes me feel old. But since I'm not so young anymore, I could say: ”Don't think the world cares about your music simply because it exists. And don't imitate. Add value.”

Check out A.S. Swanski at the links below!

Artist review: The Unswept

Hello - MissTaintedLove here, back from a temporary sick leave. 

Today, I'll be reviewing the Duo The Unswept, formed by cousins Charlie and Ryan O'brien - who originally hail from the UK. 

Check out their music here, and enjoy the review below!


The Unswept is a power pop duo originally from sunny Sheffield, UK. They are made up of cousins Charlie O'brien (guitar, vocals, bass, keyboards) and Ryan O'brien (vocals, drums, guitar, percussion). The two eventually found their way to Chicago, Illinois. 

They list their influences as The Beatles, The Monkees, Teenage Fanclub, and more similar. 

With a style highly reminiscent of the Beach Boys, The Unswept is fun, poppy, and upbeat. With talented musicianship, professional-sounding production value, and story-telling lyrics, the duo is making waves, so to speak. 

From the cool, chill 'Surf Song 89' to the jumpin 'She's So Cool' to the rockin' 'You're Going Home' and the brutally honest 'Get Away' - the band has shown themselves to be well-rounded, entertaining, impressive and skilled at their craft. They are worth countless listens, and are the cause for hitting that replay button over and over again. 

Check out The Unswept today!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Song review: Heart Go Down

Hello, everyone - MissTaintedLove back. 

Today I will be reviewing a song from Chicago artist Marcus Norris, called "Heart Go Down". 

Check it out - and check out Marcus Norris here


Things change
I know you do, too

Marcus Norris' tune 'Heart Go Down' is a fearless, tell-tale song dedicated to his exes. Each verse goes out to a different lady from his past, asking her in the chorus how she feels when she hears his name (Does your heart go down?). 

First, I must comment on the production of this song. This song, to me, sounds as though it was professionally produced, and that is highly commendable and makes for easier listening. The song has a nice steady rhythm, great instrumental section, and it's all masterfully put together. 

The lyrical flow is tight, and steady. It's skillfully written, and keeps the listener hooked. I know it kept me hooked! The rhymes are natural and not forced. In this well crafted piece of music, Marcus Norris communicates with the ladies of his past that even though things may not have worked out - and even that one of them may be crazy - that he will always love them forever.