Tag Archives: Music

Brazilian Event Producer Makes a Name for Himself in the U.S.

Today producer Sylvio Fagundes is known as the mastermind behind a long list of events. He’s not shy about his ambitions, admitting, “You have to take chances and risks in life if you want to make it to a place where you really want to be.”

A motto to live by that has clearly served him well, the Brazilian native has strategically used each and every one of the various roles that he’s taken on over the years in the event and media industries to build a dynamic foundation for his career as an event producer.

Fagundes began his journey as a journalist and photographer, covering events for the popular radio station Jovem Pan FM. Jovem Pan was something of a launch pad for him as it was there that he discovered his passion for music, but the call of event life was too great to ignore so when he was asked to go on tour with singer-songwriter Alex Band, best known for his work as lead singer of The Calling, Fagundes jumped on board.

The nine-city tour across Brazil was an unforgettable experience, and only further solidified Fagundes’s fascination with producing large-scale musical events.

“It motivated me to pursue a career as an event producer in the music industry”, he recalls.

After the tour, Fagundes was hired by Yahoo! as a staff photographer where he had the opportunity to photograph an extensive list of high profile concerts including Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Gloria Gaynor, Diana Krall, Chris Brown, The Prodigy and Moby.

As his reputation as a sought after photographer in the industry grew, Fagundes continually found himself in the right place at the right time, allowing him to develop connections with prominent figures in the live event and public relations industries. Thanks to these connections, as well as his background in communications, media and journalism helped him build a strong foundation as an event producer, and in relatively no time at all Fagundes was working on monumental events like the 2011 Miss Universe beauty pageant, which was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and commemorated the event’s 60th anniversary.

Since then Sylvio Fagundes has also amassed an astonishing collection of producing credits for music festivals including Brazil’s first Lollapalooza edition, the 2012 Sao Paulo Live Music Rocks Festival featuring Maroon 5 and Keane, and the 2012 Pop Music Festival featuring Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Lopez. He even had the opportunity to work on the production of rock and roll legend Sir Paul McCartney’s 2010 Up and Coming World tour.

After producing some of the largest and most notable events in Brazil, Fagundes moved to the U.S. to further his education in the music business at UCLA; but naturally, his proven track record of success caught the attention of those in the event industry in LA, which led him to assist in securing the talent the 2013 Los Angeles American Trend Vision Awards on behalf of leading cosmetics company Wella. The event, which featured music icon Blondie, was a rather synchronic development for the young event producer who by that time had barely been in the U.S. for a year.

A diehard concert lover even when he’s not at work, the first show he attended stateside as an audience member was Blondie.

“It felt like a full circle. I would have never imagined that the first concert I would help assist in the USA would also feature this artist,” admitted Fagundes.

In addition to music-based events, Fagundes’s skillset as an event producer has come to include producing film festivals and award shows like the 2013 Hollywood Brazilian Film Fest in Los Angeles and the Sao Paulo International Film Festival. But his list of production credits does not end there; in fact, it doesn’t seem like they end at all.

In addition to concerts, massive music festivals, film festivals and award shows Sylvio Fagundes has also produced street fairs, motorcycle rides and parades.

Fagundes currently works for Nuell Entertainment, where some of his recent production accomplishments include securing music from The Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, and The Wallflowers for GEICO national television campaigns as well as a nationwide celebrity image licensing campaign with Sebastian Professional and pop superstar Kesha to serve as the face of the “Rock Your Shaper” advertising campaign.

With his expertise in photography, journalism and public relations all blending together to give him an edge that sets him apart from other event producers, Fagundes’s diverse resume demonstrates that when a person is passionate about their work there is literally nothing they can’t accomplish.

(Pictured from left to right at MILK Studios : Sebastien Professional Prestige Brand Manager Becky Godlove (Sebastian/Wella/Nioxin Brands), Sebastian Professional Brand Manager Bailey Dyer, Education Director for Sebastian Professional Christina McCarver, singer-songwriter Kesha, P&G Salon Professional Education Director Carole Protat, Nuell Entertainment VP Global Partnerships Fred Sherman, Nuell Entertainment President Gary Nuell, Sylvio Fagundes.
(Pictured from left to right at MILK Studios : Sebastien Professional Prestige Brand Manager Becky Godlove (Sebastian/Wella/Nioxin Brands), Sebastian Professional Brand Manager Bailey Dyer, Education Director for Sebastian Professional Christina McCarver, singer-songwriter Kesha, P&G Salon Professional Education Director Carole Protat, Nuell Entertainment VP Global Partnerships Fred Sherman, Nuell Entertainment President Gary Nuell, Sylvio Fagundes.

DJ Kiraz, Bringing Female DJs into the Spotlight

Despite electronic dance music’s quantum leap in popularity in recent years, success for female DJs in the male-dominated industry has been scarce. But Swedish-born DJ Elin Ekdahl, known to most of the world as DJ Kiraz, has successfully carved a niche for herself in the EDM “boys club.”

EDM DJ
DJ Kiraz shot by Andy Thien

DJ Kiraz has played some of the biggest venues in the world such as ageHa in Tokyo and Exchange LA in Los Angeles. Though she’s established herself in the business, the well-travelled DJ is not content with her male counterparts dominating the dance music scene.

“I love seeing other female DJs killing it on stage,” Kiraz said. “I think we need to stick together and support each other more. We need to show that we can, and that we want to, be a part of it, too.”

Music has been a part of DJ Kiraz’ life for as long as she can remember. EDM became her favorite style of music when she was 13-years-old; but it wasn’t until she saw a female DJ take the stage at Club Atom in Tokyo that she wanted to learn the craft and become a DJ as well.

“I was so excited, as it was the first female DJ I had seen there,” Kiraz said. “However, her music selection was completely different from the club format, and she seemed to have a guy helping her out in the DJ booth.”

The experience filled her with determination. She recalled, “That’s when I knew I wanted to prove that girls are equally capable of being great DJs.”

Kiraz went back to Europe to learn the art of the club DJ. She studied under some of the most successful European DJs such as Swedish DJs Mikey Mic and Havin Zagross, and U.K. DJs John Taylor and Graeme Lloyd. Two years later she was on stage at the biggest clubs in Japan including Warehouse702, Club Asia and ageHa.

The gig at ageHa, Japan’s largest nightclub, took Kiraz’ career to new heights. The club’s 2,500-people main stage had been previously played by world-renowned DJs such as Armin van Buuren and Paul van Dyk. DJ Kiraz stood in their footsteps and shined.

“It was nerve wracking, but so much fun,” Kiraz said.

Kiraz has played all kinds of EDM from deep house to hardstyle. But trance has been her true passion.

“Trance makes me happy,” Kiraz said. “It makes sad. It gives me goosebumps. It makes me feel something.”

The loyalty to her joy has clearly served Kiraz well since her move to the U.S. She’s played alongside internationally renowned DJs Simon Patterson, Sean Tyas and Headhunterz at Exchange LA in the heart of Downtown L.A.’s thriving club scene.

The similarities between L.A. and Tokyo took DJ Kiraz by surprise.

“I was told that it would be so different and that I would need to change my style of DJing,” Kiraz said. “But honestly, if we are talking electronic music crowds, I don’t think that they are all that different. They all dance, they all rage and they all have a true passion for the music.”

Kiraz’ ability to heat up the dance floor all over the world has earned her a loyal fan base, too.

“There aren’t enough female DJs out there that can play the way that Elin can,” fan Kelly Sandgren said. “She really knows how to bring great energy to a set and I haven’t seen many other DJs, male or female, who can do it as well as she can.”

But DJ Kiraz’ gender has been just a small part of her story. Her time in the genre as both a fan and DJ, and her love of and loyalty to trance has earned her spots at major league clubs on both sides of the Pacific.

“My style of music is unique, especially for a female DJ,” Kiraz said. “I have a lot of experience in the industry, and I have been able to closely observe the evolution of electronic music from three completely opposite sides of the world for the last decade.”

Outside the club, DJ Kiraz has hosted her bi-monthly podcast on SoundCloud since October, 2013 at www.soundcloud.com/kiraz-1.

Sofar so good: Estefania Sequeira on the best-kept secret music movement

Ever wonder what it’s like to be one of the behind-the-scenes people in one of the most behind-the-scenes movements happening today?

Estefania Sequeira happens to be one of those very cool people. For the past few years now, Sequeira, an editor for film and music videos, has helped shape Sofar Sounds, an underground music event that’s spreading at the speed of, well, sound.

Sofar Sounds
      Estefania Sequeira capture the magic of a Sofar Sounds’ event

The movement’s formula is basic, but brilliant. Sofar Sounds brings together a group of people in a small space, for example someone’s backyard, living room or even a desolate barn out in the sticks, where attendees share the similar desire to listen to really, really good live music.

Whether it’s the result of social media and its lack of human contact, the quick and cheap downloadable tracks of our time that leave people craving real raw sound, or all those packed festivals that went on for days and days and days— for music lovers, Sofar Sounds is a grassroots breath of fresh air that offers the close-knit community experience that has been so hard to find in the modern age.

For those who have missed the global phenomenon to date, this isn’t your catchy Groupon gimmick. The story of how Sofar Sounds started is repeated just about every time the name is mentioned. This lends even more to its lore, which goes like this:

Sofar Sounds began in London in 2009, when three friends—Rafe Offer, Rocky Start and Dave Alexander—went to a pub to hear Friendly Fires, a band whose debut album the year before had cast them into success. But when these three music-loving friends got the chance to hear the amazing band—it was in front of an awful crowd.

Recalling that night, Sofar Sounds founder Rafe Offer, who is actually a Chicago native, tells the Wall Street Journal, “Rocky, Dave and I all could not believe that this superb band was playing their hearts out and yet half the room was busy talking about other things, fondling phones or clanging drinks.”

Of the guys, Dave Alexander was, himself, a musician, who invited a few friends over to his London flat to try out some of his new songs. The atmosphere at that event was so markedly different, and better, than the night at the pub that these guys decided to host another one just like it.

It didn’t take long for their idea to take off—and land overseas. One of the first major cities to latch on was San Francisco, where film editor Estefania Sequeira, a life-long music lover who earned her BFA in Motion Pictures and Television, helped firmly implement Sofar Sounds in the US.

Already making music videos, Estefania’s editing skills and knowledge of the area’s music culture made her the perfect person to translate the founders’ idea—which, remember, is meant to introduce good music beautifully.

In a way Estefania Sequeira jumpstarted Sofar Sounds SF using her background in editing to shoot and cut videos of the group’s events, among other things. “I’ve worn many different hats, as I’ve been very involved from the beginning stages,” Sequeira explains. “I was there in San Francisco when it was first starting out. I was the video production supervisor, as well as a videographer and editor. In Vancouver I took more of a leading role and managed the whole event while also being very involved in the video production.”

In addition to the San Francisco and Vancouver, Canada branches, she has also participated in some events in Costa Rica. Definitely a labor of love, Sofar Sounds requires a lot of amazing people to make these secret music events happen. Money has never been a big issue as the events are financed by attendee donations, which pay the production staff, including great talents like Estefania Sequeira, and also covers the cost of the beer, wine, and refreshments served.

Using cell phones and other recording devices is usually discouraged during the gigs, so having someone like Sequeira, a trained videographer and editor, there to record the acts and putting out excellent quality videos of Sofar concerts is incredible. Those videos will be the only chance most people ever get to see these gigs, since the number invited to attend is so low.

However, even though Sofar Sounds’ attendees are hand picked, it’s worth the effort and so much fun to try and gain acceptance. First go onto the Sofar Sounds website and sign up for the newsletter. Pick a city (again, with the popularity there’s bound to be one nearby) and fill out a brief survey. Yes, survey—to determine if you’ll be selected to attend.

The locations are kept secret until hours before. Even the performers’ names are not usually disclosed. For those invited to attend, they arrive and are guaranteed an unforgettable music experience. For those performing, it’s a chance to gain new fans as well as make contacts with other musicians. Sofar is about really cool people, like Estefania Sequeira, who love good music and want to hear it, rather than watch a mass of phone screens float in the darkness of a crowded club.

Sofar Sounds
                                       One of Sofar Sounds’ events in San Francisco shot by Estefania Sequeira

Half-Korean and half-Costa Rican, Estefania describes how the movement is universal at its core. She says, “I think people love how global it is. How you can experience the same event in different parts of the world. Also, both the musicians and the guests relate to the respect for music that Sofar Sounds represents.”

So what once was known as “Songs from a Room” has morphed into Sofar Sounds. And what once was a room in a London flat has grown into a worldwide movement.

Sequeira, who continues to also work full-time on her documentary films and music video projects as well as with the movement, says Sofar should never lose its essence, the closeness to the music and to others.

“People love Sofar Sounds because of how intimate it is and because of the music you’re able to discover through it,” she says. “It will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s a truly special community to be a part of.”

Saxophonist Gianni Vancini’s New Album Helps Audiences Get Their Groove On!

Gianni Vancini
Saxophonist Gianni Vancini

World-class saxophonist and touring musician Gianni Vancini has touched the hearts of audiences around the globe with his sweet and soulful sound.

Earlier this year Gianni Vancini released his sophomore solo album entitled Get Your Groove On, which garnered a huge response in both the U.S. and Italy. Pre-releasing the first single from the album, also entitled “Get Your Groove On”, Vancini knew the album would be a surefire success after the single was rated on The Smooth Jazz Network’s top 20 charts for the week of September 28, 2013.

With track listings like “Didn’t You Promise” featuring Selina Albright, and “Thinking About You” featuring American jazz musician Terry Wollman whose recent single “Mandela” spent five months on Billboard’s Top 20 reaching No. 1 on the Smooth Jazz Top 20 and No. 4 on the Billboard charts, Get Your Groove On gives audiences that mix of smooth jazz and R&B that Vancini is known for.

Accompanying Gianni Vancini’s masterful abilities on the saxophone, the album includes a long list of collaborations from internationally renowned artists like bassist Alex Al who spent the last decade as Michael Jackson’s bassist and keyboardist, guitarist Sheldon Reynolds of The Commodores and Earth, Wind, and Fire, keyboardist Greg Manning who is a three-time certified platinum producer for Universal Music Switzerland, and drummer Ricky Lawson who passed away last year and was known for his work with Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton.

Get Your Groove On serves as a testament to Gianni Vancini’s versatility as a musician with the overall album commingling elements of funk and pop alongside his classic jazz and R&B sound.

Over the course of his career, Vancini has developed a dedicated international fan following with audiences all over the world regularly turning to his music for an infusion of spark n’ step that helps them get their groove on.

While some of his most notable international performances include famous venues such as Sanremo, Italy’s Ariston Theater and Rome’s Il Gran Teatro, Gianni Vancini notes the Olympia in Paris, and the Casino Rama in Toronto, as his favorites.

“I love the Olympia for what it represents, and because it means that I am in Paris, a city I can help but love, and the Casino Rama because it has the most amazing acoustics,” explained Vancini.

The Olympia is known for showcasing the word’s top musicians, including Edith Piaf, Judy Garland, Tina Turner, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Björk, The Jackson 5, and many more household names.