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Natasha Mira

An interview with Songstress Natasha Mira
by Tina Hall
March 2014

Natasha Mira is an up-and-coming vocalist who has performed at The House of Blues, MGM Grand among others. Her work tends towards the medieval pop genre. Her latest single, ¨Chasing Fire¨  produced by Patrick Reza, has been getting rave reviews.

Maximum Ink: Can you tell us a little about yourself? What would you like the world to know about you?
Natasha Mira:I grew up in a small town but I have always been surrounded by music, recording studios, and artists. I sometimes appear shy when you first meet me but I get this whole other persona the second I walk on to a stage. It’s empowering and is a wonderful way to express myself. I’m definitely a perfectionist when it comes to projects I’m involved with! I really love to have creative control and a hands-on approach over my ideas so that the visions in my head are translated across to the music you hear.

MI: Do you think your upbringing has had a positive influence on you when it comes to your career ambitions?
NM:Absolutely. I often wonder if I was never exposed to music throughout my life if I would have ended up on this same path. I know my upbringing made a huge impact on my decisions and career aspirations. The music industry is all I’ve ever known thanks to my mother, Ilona Europa, who is also a singer, songwriter, and the creator of her own talk show Accent On! on LA Talk Radio. She has always inspired me, and to this day I try to be as outgoing as she is! She’s a natural with meeting new people and collaborating. Maybe one-day I’ll have even half of her people-skills!

MI: Who were some of your earliest influences?
NM: I have a really wide variety of influences. It’s funny, I tend to stick with one artist or one album for a really long time and then move on to the next. I go through phases and I think my music and writing adapts accordingly. When I was thirteen a friend introduced me to Tokio Hotel, a glam/rock band from Germany. They definitely kicked my dreams into gear and their influence came across in songs of mine like “Go Now and Tell Her”. I was tentative about pursuing singing as a career when I was young but after going to one of Tokio’s concerts – it just clicked. I just remember crying and breaking down out of nowhere knowing that performing is what I truly wanted to do. Right now I’m obsessed with Imogen Heap, and Ellie Goulding’s newest album Halcyon. I’ve been listening to it when I drive to and from school for the past six months. A lot of the new material I have been writing is absolutely influenced from that album; I just can’t get enough of it. I find it interesting that most of my inspirations are artists signed to Interscope – a label I hope to one day work for - or be signed by. It’s a funny coincidence; or maybe it’s fate! Besides musical influences I have FINALLY found a brand and image that clicks for me personally. I have always been obsessed with Medieval Times, knights, castles, and all things associated with that time period. I have such a strong emotional connection to that era that once I finally recognized that this influence is what I want to portray in my music - it all clicked for me. It was a very fascinating revelation. I had always been searching for a “persona” and never quite felt comfortable in my own skin on stage because I was trying to be like someone else. I think I’ve finally found my comfort zone and I can’t believe it but I finally feel like I’ve developed my own musical influence that is so different from every artist around me. It feels fantastic and extremely freeing. I no longer have to try to create a product, something niche that will sell, I’m just creating music that feels like me. It must be the European influence from my mother combined with my obsession with shows like Reign on the CW, Game of Thrones, and various games that depict that time period!

MI: What do you love most about being a vocalist?
NM: It just sort of came naturally to me. I was always singing around the house but mostly to myself. I was very introverted about singing when I was younger. My mother had many vocal students coming in and out of the house and I could hear them singing from the room next door. I was shy when I was little, so I started singing the same songs in my room. When I realized I couldn’t hear myself over my mother’s students I just naturally started singing the harmonies to EVERY single song to differentiate my voice from theirs. I definitely think singing harmonies non-stop when I was younger is the main reason why I am addicted to harmonies in my music.

MI: How would you describe your sound to those yet to hear it?
NM: If you had asked me this question about a few months ago I would have had an extremely difficult time answering. I feel like I have finally defined my own sound, my own genre, and I’m labeling it as “Medieval-Pop”. I’m obsessed with minor chord progressions and eccentric melodies that are still commercial and easy to sing along to. I strive for a full orchestrated sound, lots of strings, lots of instrumentation, making my songs bigger than life and my producer Jerry Jones (Lthrboots) is the mastermind behind my instrumentals. You’ll just have to check out my music to really get the full experience! I also collaborate with many artists and write in various genres so it really depends on who I’m working with. For example, I just collaborated on a track with an incredible Dubstep producer and artist named Patrick Reza. He has such a unique sound that’s unlike any form of Dubstep I’ve heard before. When he asked me to collaborate on a track with him I was thrilled to get the opportunity to work on a genre I normally wouldn’t have associated myself with and the track “Chasing Fire” has been getting ridiculously great feedback. I’m also working with another amazing songwriter/producer, Kidd Genius, who is also a Music Business student at USC. Our writing styles completely flowed effortlessly and we have multiple tracks coming out in the near future. Be sure to look out for them!


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Bridget Maniaci and Scott Resnick, both running against Madison's incumbent Mayor Paul Soglin

The Race For Mayor of Madison

Interview with two candidates for Madison Mayor 2015
by Rökker
January 2015

The primary election for the mayoral race in Madison is Tuesday, February 17, 2015. The pundits have been analyzing the candidates on everything from economic to evironmental policy beliefs and everything between, except music. It occurred to me that we always find out how supportive, or unsupportive, a mayor is for the music scene “after” being elected to office. There are two candidates that are young, bright, and bring a lot of energy and passion to the table. They are people that I have seen out at shows around town.Those two candidates are Bridget Maniaci and Scott Resnick. I thought it would be interesting to get their viewpoint on four simple questions.

Both Bridget and Scott have attended UW-Madison and served on the Madison Common Council. Bridget left office to complete a Masters of Science Public Policy & Public Management at Carnegie Mellon University while Scott has been Vice President of Hardin Design & Development as well as currently still serving on the city’s common council.

Resnick’s company, Hardin D&D, was named by Madison Magazine as one of the city’s best places to work and Bridget was named in Brava Magazine’s “Women to Watch” in 2014. You can get all the info on both candidates at their websites and


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Madison based singer/songwriter Shawndell Marks - photo by Nissa Brehmer

Shawndell Marks

Q&A with Madison based singer/songwriter Shawndell Marks
by Teri Barr
December 2016

Inspiration—good and bad—can run deep.

Shawndell Marks makes no excuses and uses both to her advantage. She can turn pride or pain into an outstanding song. And as I quickly learned, she would rather do that than an interview, any day!

Marks has been on the area scene for a long time, though you may only recognize her outstanding skills as part of an ensemble or tribute band. She’s solo now, and this tiny but mighty woman’s new album is just out. Look for it, along with December show dates on her website and keep reading for more on her surprising music roots, and why it would be ok if she didn’t like Elvis.

Maximum Ink:  Let’s start with one of my favorite questions—when did music become an interest? Every person I’ve talked with has a very different story. What’s yours?
Shawndell Marks:
  I was in 2nd grade, and my family moved into an apartment that had an old, out-of-tune upright piano stashed in the back of it. I would sit with an open hymnal in front of me and pretend to play. I had no idea what I was doing, but felt confident it sounded STELLAR. It was instant love for those black & white keys. My grandmother eventually bought me my own piano after our family moved out of the apartment. I played organ and piano in church through middle school, and in high school auditioned for “The Wisconsin Opry,” a music theater in the Dells offering nightly country-western shows to tourists. I worked there for three summers (performing Patsy Cline’s Crazy), and at the age of 18, I met my future husband who asked me to join his cover band, Thunder Road. We opened for George Jones, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and also played clubs and festivals.


The Mad Mad Ones  - photo by Kris Eidnes


An interview with The Mad Mad Ones drummer, Nick Bretl
by Mike Huberty
November 2015

Straight outta Wausau, THE MAD MAD ONES are alternative-style hard rock that will make you think of the big rock anthems of STONE TEMPLE PILOTS’ first record (still their best) and the wails and screams of JANE’S ADDICTION’s groove-metal head bangers. Guitarist/vocalist Ted Fox, drummer Nick Bretl, guitarist Jeff Sandbom, and bassist Ryan Anderson have delivered a monster in the form of Down The Rabbit Hole, their debut album. It’s all belching guitars, piercing vocals, and relentless drums that evoke equal parts ALICE IN CHAINS and WOLFMOTHER. I went down the rabbit hole with Nick to talk about their album and their upcoming Madison show at the Willy Street Pub and Grill (AKA The Wisco) on Friday December 11th.


Tom Morello - The Nightwatchman (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave)

Tom Morello - The Nightwatchman

by Mack Dreyfuss
November 2008

Music lovers attempting to use their money wisely during these dour economic times may have just found the show of the year to attend. Musico-political titan, Tom Morello, is coming to the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on Nov. 12 under the moniker, The Nightwatchman. For those who don’t immediately recognize his name, you may be familiar with Rage Against the Machine or Audioslave, bands who have been built with Morello on lead guitar. Rolling Stone rates him 26 on the list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. His most recent solo project released Sept. 30 is called “The Fabled City.” The Nightwatchman, Morello’s “folk singer alter ego,” transfuses politically charged lyrics into guitar riffs reminiscent of “eighties Dylan + Jimi Hendrix.”

The genesis of The Nightwatchman occurred while playing packed stadium shows with Audioslave. Morello hungered to voice his political views and be more intimate with his audience. Soon after, he released “One Man Revolution.” He states: “…it was absolutely the most fulfilling, artistically as anything I had ever done….There were a few nights where it really felt like in this tiny, dark coffeehouse that everybody’s soul in the room was at stake.”


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