FREE SHOW! Zak Waters, The Chain Gang of 1974, Conway, Mirror Talk, $2 Drink Specials + $5 speciality cocktails from 6-9pm

Triple threat Zak Waters always leaves a mark. Ever since he first formally began performing in high school, the Los Angeles singer, songwriter and producer never failed to make a lasting impression on his audience, and it’s always three-pronged. Unlike his contemporaries, he can do it all from constructing a track to writing the lyrics to performing it live with his band or in a DJ set. His impact is about to expand immensely with the release of his full-length debut album, Lip Service—available exclusively now via a unique deal with Spotify.
Zak’s always been driving his own music. In 2011, he broke on to the scene with his independent debut EP, New Normal. He served as both the featured writer and singer on Madeon's hit dance single "The City," which hit #1 on Hype Machine and peaked at #4 on the Billboard Dance Chart, where it stayed for nine months. Meanwhile, his single with Candyland, "Not Coming Down," topped the Beatport charts as #1 track for two weeks. He's performed on AXS Live, Last Call With Carson Daly, and on KIIS FM. Meanwhile, he’s not only been personally sought out by Flo Rida and Benny Benassi for their upcoming 2014 tracks, but also by the likes of legendary songwriter Diane Warren and Atlantic Records artist Francisco for his production talents. He's produced official remixes alongside Benny Benassi, R3hab, Pharrel Williams for All-American Rejects, Adam Lambert, and Foxy Shazam Moreover, famed Los Angeles venue The Satellite in Silver Lake tapped him for a high-profile residency as well in September 2013.
On Lip Service, shimmying between soulful funk savoir faire and fresh dance floor-ready pop, he cultivates an immediately seductive, soaring, and shimmering style of his own. Zak puts it best though, "My music is definitely meant to make people dance. I like to think of it as disco at its core. There are elements of EDM and R&B at the same time. You could call it neo-funk-pop. I'll take that as mine."
His personal panache punctuates the first single "Penelope." The song tells a cheeky little tale that's as vivid as it is vivacious. "I kept listening to the track and going back to a vision of a young kid obsessed with his baby sitter and wondering where she's at now," he explains. "I think we all had that babysitter. My friend's sitter was so hot. She was 'Penelope' for me. Now, you wonder, 'Would she look at me differently now that I'm grown up?'"
Elsewhere, “Dear John” featuring Audra Mae is a smart rumination on breaking up, while “Over You” examines the some darker moments post-relationship. Waters tapes into real tangible emotion, extending beyond the feel good pop.”
There's one pervasive thread throughout. "It's all about wanting to have fun," Zak concludes. "The majority of my songs are upbeat. They're meant to be the soundtrack to somebody's wild night. I love when somebody tells me I made it onto their workout or sex mix. If I can encapsulate a time for the listener, I feel like I will never be forgotten.”

The Chain Gang of 1974

"My brothers and I were surrounded by music growing up," explains Kamtin Mohager, the shape-shifting singer/multi-instrumentalist behind the Chain Gang of 1974. "Not Beatles albums or anything like that; more like the Persian records our parents played all the time. And when we got older, it was up to us to discover everything." Born in San Jose and raised in Hawaii, Mohager spent his first 13 years obsessing over inline hockey and the idea of being drafted by the NHL one day. A series of life-changing events were set in motion once Mohager's family moved to Colorado, however. The first of which involved the final scene from Real Genius—quite possibly Val Kilmer's finest hour—and its penultimate 'popcorn song', a.k.a. "Everybody Rules the World." "I love '80s music, but not typical new-wave stuff," says Mohager. "Like I'm way into Tears For Fears and Talk Talk, the other side of the spectrum, really." That's abundantly clear on White Guts, a record that's nearly as restless as Chain Gang's previous collection of early recordings, Fantastic Nostalgic. The way Mohager sees it, his first proper release was "all over the place, from a piano ballad to songs that sound like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Primal Scream or Justice." White Guts, on the other hand, funnels three years of instrument-swapping, sample-splicing experience into a lean, focused listen. So while "Stop!" and the rather epic "Hold On" hint at everything from LCD Soundsystem to Talking Heads, they make perfect sense in the context of deep cuts like the synth-flecked "Don't Walk Away" and bass-guided "Matter of Time," shimmering power ballads that could have been on the soundtrack of Sixteen Candles or Pretty in Pink. What sets the Chain Gang of 1974 apart from other Reagan-era revivalists is Mohager's innate sense of rhythm, a skill he acquired at an early age. And we're not just talking about his parents' punchy, groove-riding record collection. We're talking about family gatherings and traditions that taught Mohager how to make a crowd of cool kids uncross their arms and dance like there's pistols pointed at their feet. "Everyone lets loose at our shows," says Mohager. "It's a party, man. If only I had a dollar for every time someone bum-rushed the stage or grabbed one of our instruments." Things are bound to get worse, too, as his live band—a quartet that's a far cry from Mohager's original iPod/bass setup—spends the next six months spreading the Chain Gang gospel far beyond its Rocky Mountain beginnings. Or as the man behind every last beat puts it, "I'm letting the music just be, and if something's meant to happen, it's meant to happen."

Conway arrives with her second Columbia EP, Shut Up, already hailed as a unique and eclectic pop force with longer -term prospects on the horizon.

Rolling Stone has praised her as ‘enthralling,’ with Noisey calling the commanding title track a ‘high velocity kiss-off.’ Conway also sees it as a nod to young girls and women looking for more than the oversexualized ‘role’ models they’ve been force-fed all these years.

“The feedback I’ve been getting from them is fabulous. Stuff like ‘hey, you’re powerful and you’re strong…I wanna’ be like that,” she says. “That’s what I was like when I was a teenager. Girls need an alternative to taking off their clothes and following the boyfriend around. I feel it’s a perspective that is underrepresented when it comes to young girls.”

She also knows how to fling the truth with pop-star style and ferocity on songs like “Shut Up,” and “Attack,” while revealing a flicker of wry vulnerability on the catchy “Look At You.” Never shy in interviews when called upon, Conway is seen in a recent Fuse TV interview being asked ‘Just who are you telling to shut up?’ She didn’t’ miss a beat.

‘Wherever it applies.’

Born in St. Louis, she headed to New York City on her own after turning 17 – knowing a little about claiming one’s turf even when you’re off-grid. “I’ve always been obsessed with music,” she says. “I started every band I was ever in, even when I barely knew how to play.” She taught herself the bass and was never timid about combing the clubs and rock bars for players to join her, and maybe help perfect her chops. “If I liked the way somebody played on stage I’d try to meet them afterwards and ask if they wanted to join my band,” she laughs.

She eventually formed a band with her current drummer, Amy Wood. “She and I packed an old Honda and moved to L.A. to record because her dad had a studio. All I wanted to do was make music,” she says. “I thought I’d be there for six months.” That was 2009 and she’s still there.

The band had a lot of bark on it. “Cathartic stuff,” says Conway. “I was dealing with a lot and it was coming out raw and very emotional.”

Eventually, she decided to go solo. “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and make whatever music felt good regardless of genre/style boundaries. I challenged myself to make songs that were catchy while still maintaining substance and lyrics. I let myself dance and be happy while being opinionated and sometimes funny too. I never used to allow those sides out in my music.”

She found a pair of collaborators who understood where she wanted to go with her music and began writing (her drummer is still with her too – “Best friends,” says Conway). She came up with the song “Big Talk” and, after a friend made a clip that didn’t meet her standards, she followed her instincts again and shot a video for it on her MacBook. Her homemade sauce went viral after a 1-day feature from boosted it stone-cold-out-of-the-blue, and it led to an avalanche of label interest, causing Conway to do a little more than pinch herself.

“The video was just me being goofy and creating, like how I am with close friends or by myself when no one's watching. I thought maybe I’d use 30 seconds of it in a press kit. I didn't realize people would see it and start asking about who I was.”

Her Columbia debut EP, Big Talk, followed in 2013, as did acclaimed opening spots on tours with St. Lucia and Ellie Goulding in 2014, among others. She’s also built a loyal following in London, one of her favorite cities (“love all the old buildings and parks..and the melancholy rain of course”).

She could list her influences, but says it’s all there in the music, though she doesn’t mind if you call her flair for icy transcendence, ‘art rock.’

And how about her own name, Conway?

“It’s my last name. Being in all those bands with guys – they get in the habit of calling you by your last name. Maybe it’s a sports thing – I don’t know. What can I say. I'm comfortable with it.”

Mirror Talk

You're young and you embark routinely on these labored, epic train rides across boroughs, testing the seams of your Jansport with blank cassettes, bound for uncle's. You tape LPs from New Order, Prince, and Bowie. At home, Mom & Dad alternate musical selections, Al Green, then Zeppelin. Sam Cooke, then The Beatles. Deposit your newly copied tapes into shoeboxes. Blink and you're a high school senior. New York in the early oughts reclaims disco, house and electro, imbuing these modes with a distinctly punk rock hue. Young wallflowers and budding music nerds are coaxed to cease habitual nose-thumbing and general wet-blanket behavior. They begin to dance.

Inspired, you borrow two synthesizers from parents' Christian-rock band. Start a band of your own. Attract the interest of a producer with a name and manager who manages several of your heroes. Leave college and set up shop in Los Angeles. Indulge endlessly, perform ferociously and frequently. Get offered a modest deal with an immodestly large record company. Discover that well-intentioned handshakes and agreements that had taken place early in the life of the group had become shackles. The resultant music grows bloodless and the band withers.

You move back in with your parents. Join a panel of indie-ish wirehangers who bartered Polo gooses for old leather and acid washed denim, dragging drunken, romantic bones about places you know, holding court with skinny, spectacled, smart-haircut pixies over Jameson and bathroom-coke. Weekend warrior Don Quixote-ing to a soundtrack of Animal Collective, Hot Chip, The-Dream and Diplo.

While at your parents house, by chance of luck, you rediscover the old shoe box containing the decaying magnetic ephemera of your earliest musical loves. The low-bias tapes of Movement, Sign 'O The Times, and Heroes that you'd copied so long ago, all faded and gently distorted. This collection of sounds becomes your conceptual skeleton. You reunite with old friends. Unite with producer Tony Hoffer, (M83, Beck, Depeche Mode) and together, endeavor to imagine what music might bridge your past and your future.


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