Ze Gran Zeft puts France’s Hip Hop Rock Scene on the Map!

Ze Gran Zeft
ZGZ’s Da Kid (right), Boots and Sideman (right) shot by Marie Gimenes

France is certainly known for its cuisine, high fashion, and romantic allure. However, throughout music history the country has never been at the forefront of producing great rock music until now: rock band Ze Gran Zeft is looking to change all that and in a big way.

Compared to bands such as Limp Bizkit, The Prodigy, and Cypress Hill, ZGZ (as they are more commonly referred to by fans) consists of singer, guitarist, and principal songwriter Boots, bass player Sideman, and Da Kid on drums.

Hailing from Toulon in the South East of France, the band was formed in 2009 at a band contest when Da Kid met Boots and the rest, as they say, was history.

Da Kid recalls how well they clicked right away saying, “Total chemistry, we have a lot of influences, and that makes ZGZ’s richness, and it’s been like that from the beginning. It’s been 6 years since we started working together and it’s still the same craziness!”

Shortly after their formation, musical impresario Charles “Kallaghan” Massabo was brought into the picture in order to help put a grasp on their still raw and edgy sound. With his keen ear, Massabo molded ZGZ into an exciting and energetic band with much more cohesion. Kallaghan’s vision and big brother-like presence has given the band a much more focused approach to making music.

“We work as a “rock band” but with a “hip hop” approach – the beat/instrumentals are made first, then I would write some hooks keeping the best one to build a powerful chorus. The inspiration/recording/writing process stays the same for us, we create a vibe, we just fool around until we reach the positive vibe to create and record a track. And basically that is what ZGZ is made of,” says Boots.

ZGZ’s first two EP’s were “Watch the Crown” and “Crunked Vizion” which were both released in 2013. The sound for both albums is wild and rambunctious, perfect for youthful party goers, and very reminiscent of American singer Andrew WK.

According to Boots, “I usually write lyrics about stuff that amuses me, like partying with friends, having a good time, and most of all: SEX. We like the 80’s vibe before grunge came out with all their penis problems haha…But we are also huge fans of 90’s music and that paradox is ZGZ’s main direction: the crossover. We’re just a bunch of kids that love to fool around and annoy elder people.”

After releasing the hit single ‘Spaceman’ in September, which features Falling In Reverse’s former lead guitarist and vocalist Jacky C. Vincent, the band released their next single ‘#Millennial Kids’ featuring Mopreme Shakur, Tupac’s older brother, on Dec. 3. The song pays tribute to the generation of 20 and 30 something’s that grew up on Super Nintendo, Baywatch and everything in between that made it so great to grow up in the Millennial era.

Their first full-length album entitled “JOI” is set to be released in 2016.

You can check out the video for their new single ‘#Millenial Kids’ below, as well as buy some of their past tracks and albums through iTunes.

 

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Actress Sidney Leeder Draws Us In

Taylor McKay
Actress Sidney Leeder shot by Taylor McKay

 

For an actor, much of the work that goes into physically becoming a certain character comes down to identifying and creating their mannerisms, idiosyncrasies and the way they carry themselves. Movement in itself is a form of communication, something Canadian actress Sidney Leeder knows all about.

Audiences across continents will recognize Leeder from her roles in the films Debug, The Hazing Secret, Salem Falls, and Goon, as well as the hit television shows Beauty and the Beast, Reign, Lost Girl, Debra, Alphas and more; but prior to becoming the sought after actress she is today, Leeder was a professional dancer.

The grace and flawless movement that she brings her characters to life with on screen makes it easy to see that her extensive training as a dancer has made her a more intuitive and dynamic performer than most of her contemporaries.

In the 2011 Lifetime film Salem Falls, an adaption of Jodi Picoult’s 2001 novel of the same name, audiences had the opportunity to see Leeder in the pivotal role of Catherine, a young teen who falls in love with her teacher and subsequently turns his life upside down when she claims rape. Directed by Bradley Walsh (The Listener, Turn the Beat Around), the film follows Jack McBradden played by James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek), a high school teacher who tries to make a new life for himself in Salem Falls after Leeder’s character tarnishes his reputation.

Unfortunately for Jack, his past comes out and turns the whole town of Salem Falls against him except for the one woman, Addie Peabody played by Sarah Carter (Falling Skies, Rogue), who goes to great lengths to track down Catherine and prove Jack’s innocence.

Although Salem Falls was one of the earlier films in Leeder’s career her performance comes across as that of a seasoned veteran.

“In one of the most pivotal scenes of the film I confess to lying about my alleged affair with professor… The scene takes place while walking down a long passageway. It was lengthy and revealing dialogue that required serious mental concentration. This character was also a challenge to play, as she needed to have just the right balance of maturity and naivety,” recalled Leeder.

“Prior to shooting I talked a lot with director Bradley Walsh about the characters motivation and significance. Having the opportunity to delve into such a complex character so early on in my career was an amazing challenge.”

Leeder’s career continued to skyrocket after the release of Salem Falls with the actress going on to land multiple guest star roles on television shows such as Life with Boys, The L.A. Complex, Degrassi: The Next Generation and Satisfaction. In 2014 she was cast to star in another Lifetime movie, The Hazing Secret, where she took on the riveting role of Melissa.

The storyline of the film revolves around the death of Leeder’s character Melissa, a naïve college freshman who makes out with the boyfriend of one of the sister’s of the sorority she’s pledging. Nancy, the sorority leader, revives the old practice of hazing in order to punish Melissa for her mistake, but when she locks Melissa in a coffin the young pledge suffocates and ultimately pays the price with her life.

Over the course of the film, Megan, one of the sorority sisters who is played by Gemini Award winner Shenae Grimes-Beech (90210, Scream 4), makes it her mission to expose the crime and the truth about Melissa’s tragic death. The film, which was directed by Jonathan Wright (Nostrum, A Very Merry Mix-Up), was nominated for an award from the Directors Guild of Canada earlier this year.

If there was ever any question over Leeder’s emotional capacity as an actress her knockout performance in The Hazing Secret proves that she can bring the waterworks with natural believability and make an audience feel for her character like the best actors in the industry.

 

DEBUG POSTER
Poster for the film “Debug”

 

Last year Leeder also starred as Lara alongside Adrian Holmes (The Cabin in the Woods, Elsium), Kjartan Hewitt (Capote), Jeananne Goossen (The Vow, The Night Shift) and Jason Moma (Game of Thrones) in David Hewlett’s (A Dog’s Breakfast, Rage of the Yeti) sci-fi horror film Debug.

Convicted of eco-terrorism, Leeder’s character Lara, along with five others, are placed into a work program aboard a dilapidated spaceship where they are assigned the task of debugging the ship’s artificial intelligence, but their job aboard the ship proves to be far more dangerous than simple computer hacking.

“Lara is very intuitive right from the get go. She warns the others that something about this mission feels wrong and explains that she is sensitive to the energy of her surroundings but is ignored,” explained Leeder. 

When Iam, the ship’s AI played by Moma, feels the threat of annihilation, he begins fighting back in surprising ways killing most of the hackers aboard the ship including Leeder’s character Lara. Lara’s death is one of the most shocking of all as she is virtually raped to death.

Thinking that she is going to try out a kinky method of virtual fraternization with Mel, her beau on the ship played by Hewitt, Lara follows the ships orders and enters its sensory system not realizing that Iam is luring her into a trap.

“She is asked to remove her clothing and enter a pool of crystal clear liquid. As she does this she is transported virtually to a blood stained prison cell where Iam awaits her. It is there that he, and every other man who has set foot on the ship rape and beat her to death,” said Leeder.

“While mentally she is in this virtual reality, Lara’s physical body is actually drowning in the sensory system pool she entered. By the time Mel finds her it is too late and she is already dead.”

From playing the catty teen girls everyone loves to hate to the sweet and innocent girl next door and everything in between, including a psycho serial killer in the film The Killer, Sidney Leeder has revealed herself as an artist with exponential talent. She also recently finished filming multi-award winning director Rachel Meyer’s film Lunch, which premiered at the Beverly Hills Playhouse Film Festival last month.

“Being on a film set is one of my favorite places. It’s like stepping directly into a storybook. Acting gives me a natural high and allows me to explore myself, connect with others and imagine endless possibilities. I act because not acting simply isn’t an option. The need to perform and create has lived inherently in me for as long as I can remember,” admits Leeder.

 

Showstopper Tate McRae Has Our Attention!

Rob Daly Phot2
Canadian Star Tate McRae shot by Rob Daly Photography

From contemporary dance to jazz and ballet, 12-year-old Tate McRae is a force to be reckoned with whose performances on stage and in film are impossible to take your eyes away from. The young star, whose become quite a celebrity in the Canadian entertainment industry over the last few years for her far reaching talent as an actress, dancer and singer, has achieved unparalleled diversity in her career.

Tate began dancing at the age of 6, and by the time she was 8 years old her beloved hobby had turned into a full-fledged career. Her ability to move her physical being and embody the music she dances to with the utmost skill and grace is astonishing. As a dance competitor, she is a tough opponent for any dancer to go up against, but she doesn’t dance for the awards as much as she dances for the underlying reason that performing is a part of her soul. It is something that she was born to do.

She admits, “Even in my spare time I chose to do something that has to do with the arts. I am always singing or dancing around or listening to music! I have been like that since I was a little girl. Even before I took lessons I was always putting on shows!”

Some of Tate’s dance accomplishments to date include winning the Junior Best Dancer Award at The Dance Awards in 2015, the Silver Medal Solo Award and Bronze Medal Pas De Deux Award at the 2015 YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix) finals in NYC, 2014 NYCDA (New York City Dance Alliance) National 1st Runner Up Mini Outstanding Dancer, and Mini National Best Dancer Award at The Dance Awards in 2013.

She was also selected as one of the few dancers to be a part of DancerPalooza’s Beat Squad, a group of America’s top competitive dance soloists selected to perform on the Hall of Fame Performance stage during DancerPalooza in California in 2014 and 2015.

Earlier this year she also performed at the Rule The World NUVO Closing Show in Calgary, Canada, which you can check out below.

 

Tate’s undeniable skill backed by her reputation as an extraordinary dancer has also benefitted her in her career as an actress. After signing with her current agency, Stars Academy Talent, several years ago, she began landing leading roles in television shows, films and commercials.

She explains, “I got into acting through my dancing and singing. I love musical theater and had to learn to develop characters for my songs… The same day I got an agent I booked a job doing voice overs for the show Lalaloopsy!”

As an actress Tate is known for her work as the voice of Spot Splatter Splash on the highly successful animated series Lalaloopsy, which aired on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. in the U.S. and on Treehouse TV in Canada before moving to Family Jr. in 2014.

Aside from starring in 17 episodes of the popular children’s series, she also starred in the Lalaloopsy: Band Together video, which was released in August, the 2014 Lalaloopsy Ponies: The Big Show film and the 2013 Lala-Oopsies: A Sew Magical Tale video.

Last year she was a featured actress in Toyota’s commercial “Can’t Win Everything – Prairie Pageant.” Earlier this year she gave a dazzling contemporary dance performance in a music video for the CASBY and four-time Canadian Radio Music Award winning band Walk Off The Earth’s hit single “Rule the World.” In addition to being featured in promotional dance videos for Triple Flip, and modeling for dance companies including Capezio and Twear, Capezio also sponsors for her work as a dancer.

Tate admits, “Dancing has helped me with my career as an actor because I have made so many more connections through dance. The 2 worlds really do cross over. Dance has given me lots of confidence and has made me really comfortable performing. I do not get nervous when I am asked to recite lines or play a character.”

If her skill as an actress and a dancer wasn’t impressive enough (and of course, it is), Tate also happens to be an exuberantly talented singer. In fact her singing voice can be heard on a radio commercial for Resorts Of The Canadian Rockies, as well as in the show Lalaloopsy when she takes on the role of Holly Sleighbells.

You can get a glimpse of just how extraordinary of a singer she is in the video below where she performs a dance at The Dance Awards in NYC in 2014 to her cover over the song ‘Human’ .

 

Q & A with Swedish Bassist Martin Fredriksson!

Irving Ong
Bassist Martin Fredriksson shot by Irving Ong 

 

The bass stylings of musician Martin Fredriksson have taken him around the world and has led him to play sold out shows with a range of bands and artists that span practically every genre, with each new project only further proving Fredriksson’s unparalleled versatility as a leading bassist in the industry. While he is still in his early 20s, Fredriksson has attained more success over the last 10 years than many musicians manage to accomplish over the course of a lifetime.

He currently serves as the bassist in Malloy band with band leader Michael Sims, Anduze band, singer/songwriter SuVi Suresh’s band and the band of Kendall Lake. He is also the bassist for the band Dream Alive alongside drummer David Meyer, who also happens to be the drummer in Frank Ocean’s band and previously played with John Mayer.

Fredriksson also played bass in the band Radiorelics, which has received incredible international attention, most notably for their song ‘Jack Daniels,’ which remained on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales Chart for the majority of 2014 making it to No. 9. In addition to being played on more that a 115 radio stations, ‘Jack Daniels’ also made it No. 23 on the National Airplay Top 50 Rock Chart. The band continues and has since changed their name to Mary’s Mischief.

As a bassist Fredriksson is known for his shocking versatility and magnetic stage presence, which have been a huge factor in him becoming the sought after musician that he is today. From the more psychedelic, melodic rock style of the band Dream Alive to SuVi’s sultry R & B sound, Fredriksson’s talent on bass is never ending.

In 2012 he also played bass on stage for Laura Warshauer, who was chosen by BMI and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame to be the recipient of the first ever (Buddy) Holly Prize, at the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago.

Fredriksson has earned an impressive list of accolades for his skills on bass; in fact, he was given the Musicianship Scholarship for the Bass program at Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles in 2011.

You can check out Martin Fredriksson rocking out on bass with the band Dream Alive in the video below:

 

To find out more about this incredibly talented international musician make sure to check out our interview below!

 

Where are you from?

MF: From Nyköping In Sweden, 1 hour trip Stockholm. A great town to grow up in as a future musician because it’s a city filled with a lot of bands and young musicians.

How and when did you get into music?

MF: My parents bought a bass and a guitar as Christmas gifts for my sister and I when I was about 10 years old. I took the bass and have never let it go since.

In Sweden we have public music schools that offers all children the opportunity to learn to play instruments or sing at a very low cost. I started as early as possible, at 10.

My bass teacher probably saw my interest in music and some of my skills as he let me sit in and accompany his guitar students during their lessons. About two days a week I went directly from school to the music school for these extra sessions. The students I accompanied were often much older than myself, which gave me a lot of challenges as a new musician. During these sessions I learned a lot about how to be alert and really play for and with other people. Sometimes I’d complain that the time I spent at the music school was so short; and my teacher would then joke that there were no other students that spent as much time as I did there.

My first band, The Junk, was initiated by my bass teacher. He waited until I was 12 years old and then he asked me and some of the most talented students in the music school to meet and form a rock band.

From then on it’s been moving on in a good pace with a lot of different music and artists.

How many instruments do you play and how long have you been playing each?

MF: I play a little bit of upright bass and I have started to play some piano at home just for joy. I also took weekly solo singing classes at the local school of music for 2.5 years. I have just been practicing as background singer in bands on stage.

What did music do for you?

MF: Music has been a big part of my life from the start, both by listening and practicing the bass and learning to play songs by ear. I get very calm and concentrated when playing which really only happens during those times. When I had to do school work at home I often took breaks just to play for a short time so that I’d be able to continue with the school work again.

When I was 16 I was chosen as a young “successful” musician to be presented in a poster together with about 100 other people with different backgrounds and ages from my home municipality. There was a quote from the interview on the poster at the exhibition that said: “Life flows when you play, everything will be alright!”

That is still my experience. I am always very comfortable when I am rehearsing and performing on stage, pretty much anytime I get to hold my bass.

Why are you passionate about playing music?

MF: I love to feel the vibes while performing with other professional musicians. It’s just a very passionate flow and it is also very satisfying to see the response of the crowd, audience and band members.

Also arranging music together with a band and feeling that we have created something great together is very satisfying.

Who are some of your music influences, and how have they influenced you?

MF: My first big influence was a blues musician, Memphis Gold; and my first concert was a big blues festival in Sweden where he was playing. We were walking around and he caught sight of me because I was so young I guess. He gave me this record, so what could I do? I just had to play the bass along to all the songs on the record; and since then I have always loved playing blues.

Then there was a time of admiring Iron Maiden and other bands that played melodic hard rock. It was also a big challenge to learn to play their songs. Another big influence I’ve had for many years has been Eric Clapton. From there on I’ve found a bunch of other musicians that have influenced me in a lot of different ways.

How would you describe your personal music style?

MF: I love to play many different genres, but I guess my heart right now belongs to soul, funk and blues. A very important part when I am involved in arranging is that the songs is very melodic and also has variations in melody and strength. I like to play very melodic and love to improvise, in the settled frames of course. I really like to have a strong connection with the drummer I’m playing with because that creates a strong backbone for the rest of the band. I’m very fond of playing very rhythmical bass lines that are kind of at a crossroad between the drums and melody.

Which bands and or projects have you played in?

MF: I play in a lot of bands and for many artists. I’m a part of the bands of Suvi Suresh, Malloy, Anduze and Kendall Lake as well as the groups Dream Alive and Mary’s Mischief (formerly Radiorelics).

Some other bands/artists/musicians I have played with are guitarist Johann Frank who was supported by Phil Collins and is currently touring the world with Engelbert Humperdinck, Major Myjah, who is signed to Warner Brothers, Jasmine Villegas, and in 2012 I performed with Laura Warshauer at Lollapalooza. Some other artists are Caitlin McGrath, Tore Bojsten, Mimi Rom, Cody Sky, Jennie Tran and Q’orianka Kilcher. I have recently recorded eight songs for a Japanese hip hop artist called Daichi.

Have you released any music videos with any of the groups you’ve played with?

MF: I’ve done several music videos with the band Dream Alive for the songs ‘Don’t Say No,’ ‘Waiting So Long,’ and ‘Drifting Away’ all of which were made by veteran film producer Irving Ong who’s produced several Hollywood film including Heartbreakers starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sigourney Weaver. We also released a video for the song ‘See You Tonight,’ which was created by Fred Teng. We’ve also been working on some live performace videos shot live in studio with the singer/songwriter SuVi.
What are the challenges of being a professional musician?

MF: The constant stress and pressure to always be well prepared and ready for anything. Last minute changings happens all the time. And there are no certainties or guarantees in the music business; it’s all up to you.

What do you think separates you from other musicians?

MF: Coming from Sweden it is not easy to express this, but I am often told that I contribute to a very tight, steady and powerful rhythm section and that I have a significant powerful tone when I play. That in combination with a melodic and sensitive way of playing is perhaps what I contribute with in a band.

People also tells me that it really looks as if I enjoy acting on stage, which I really do. I always want to be prepared before the shows so that I can concentrate on the collaboration with the singer and the other musicians and feel comfortable improvising my bass playing.

How do you feel when you’re playing on stage? Was it something you had to get used to, or were you immediately comfortable in front of the crowd?

MF: I think people can see that I love what I do, sometimes I just lean back, close my eyes and enjoy the moment, and thereafter, enjoy the moment by being very active on stage. I have had this longing to play on stage from the start.

I have been performing frequently since the age of 13, and feel very comfortable in my bass playing. Therefore I can be very relaxed on stage and just enjoy the flow and the feedback from people in the crowd.

Aside from playing music in the bands you play with, do you write any of the music or lyrics?

MF: I write songs as a co-writer in several of my bands. It is very inspiring getting in a very creative feeling and then hear the complete song. I started to write songs together with my first band at the age of 12.

Can you tell us about some of your upcoming releases?

MF: The band Dream Alive will release a new video soon. It supports the title song of our latest CD, “Drifting Away.” The CD has got great reviews, which is very promising for the future. We are now discussion the dates for a tour in India to Chennai. It will be in the beginning of next year, but the dates have not been decided yet.

What are your plans for the future?

MF: My plans for the near future is to continue to play in professional bands and collect as much experience as possible by doing this. I have had great luck being asked to join bands with very professional and well-known musicians, who I had only read about before. It has been very inspiring and motivating to have been accepted by my fellow musicians.

All parts of being a musician is great; writing songs, rehearsing, recording in studios, playing in venues and touring.

What do you hope to achieve in your career as a musician?

MF: As nearly all musicians, I hope I will be able to work as a musician and earn my living by doing that. Then of course I hope that I will have the possibility to develop my skills as a bass player and keep the love of music going. And of course it would be great if I could get another hit-song with a band. We had a Billboard hit with the band Radiorelics in 2014 called ‘Jack Daniels.’

Have you won any awards for your work? Can you tell me about them?

MF: I got the bass scholarship for bassist when I enrolled at Musicians Institute. When I was 12 years old I, together with some friends from school, started a band and we worked really hard composing and rehearsing. We won the Culture Prize from a magazine called Frotté when I was 13. Our first real gig was at the castle of Nyköping in front of a big audience, when we got the prize.

Two of our songs were voted in on a regional radio station’s top list (Top 5) when I was 14 or 15 years old. It was very exciting the first time we were on the chart as the whole class was listening together in the class room.

Why is music your passion and chosen profession?

MF: It has been a dream since the early teenage years. I immediately felt that music and playing bass was something I immediately could relate to. It just feels meant to be so I’ll keep doing what I love most.