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Madison's MUST - Men Under Sexual Tension on the cover of Maximum Ink in March 2005

Must


by Mike Huberty
March 2005

With Hendrix style lead guitars fueled by tongue-in-cheek boozy vocals that range from lilting to Gwar-esque, Madison rockers, MUST (Men Under Sexual Tension) are, in the words of their bassist, Matt Mueller, “moving to the next stage of the game.” Mueller, formerly of funk-rockers, Fungusamungus, is also owner of the fashionable Madison nightclub, The Cardinal Bar, home of the ever-popular and infamous Fetish Night. He speaks with a certifiable gusto for both the art and business side of music that’s rare in a band member. “We’re doing it to get our art, insights, and mission to the masses. We’re almost like mediums, channels for a higher purpose, not just a bunch of guys onstage to get laid.”

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Jordan Lee of Mutual Benefit

Mutual Benefit

An Email Correspondence with Jordan Lee of Mutual Benefit
by John Noyd
August 2014

As the mastermind behind chamber-folk collective MUTUAL BENEFIT, Jordan Lee epitomizes the wandering minstrel, moving from Ohio to Austin, Boston and Brooklyn where he encountered musical scenes and collected a cavalcade of talented colleagues. The songs on the band’s full-length debut, “Love’s Crushing Diamond,” reflect his restless curiosity with scenic side-trips and unexpected twists stringing epic adventures between imaginative art-pop canvases. We caught up with Jordan before he resumed touring to better prepare ourselves for his visit to Wisconsin, September 29th at Madison’s The Frequency.

MAXIMUM INK: Your tunes are full of light yet also very deep. Is this an accurate reflection of you who are?

JORDAN LEE: I suppose you can say that but I don’t know anyone who would be able to describe themselves accurately; our eyes are cracked mirrors after all!

MI: Did you always aspire to write long winding songs or did something happen to change how you write music?

JL: I started out listening to straight forward three and a half minute pop songs and wrote pretty similar music, in fact most of my early songs were really short because I had this internal rule that I’d rather a song end quickly than for someone to get bored of it. I’m not quite sure when the compositions started getting longer. I guess it was when the musical ideas started getting larger over the past couple years.

MI: While not completely surprised to read how much field recordings played a part in your album, my initial impression was that your compositions came from deep inside you. How do field recordings affect the creative process?

JL: I think this was the first album to incorporate field recordings and I’m not sure I’ll do it again since I don’t want for it to become “my thing” but for that span of time it seemed to really make a lot of sense… If I just sit down with a guitar and try to play chords I never get too inspired but little conversations or sounds can trigger the part of my brain that feels compelled to make art.

MI: Your full-length debut, ““Love’s Crushing Diamond,” was pick up by Other Music from another label and reissued due to high demand; why do you think it ended up connecting with so many people?

JL: I have absolutely no idea! It is still so surreal to go to places like Norway or Belgium and meet fans of the band. It is kind of messing with my head as I try and write new songs.

MI: What’s the next thing you’d like to tackle musically?

JL: Because all the other records have come from a position of limitation whether it be time, money, or instruments I’m having trouble conceptualizing what I want to do with more ability to make exactly what I want to. Maybe collab with a whole string section for a couple days?? Brass and woodwind?? Modular synths? I have no idea.

MI: Your itinerant lifestyle suggests you make friends easily and yet much of, “Diamonds,” emanates from a somewhat introspective perspective. Do you ever have trouble balancing your public and private personas?

JL: Yeah, I guess you could say that. I think I can easily connect with people on a surface level but never staying in one place too long can definitely lead to a feeling of deep down isolation and loneliness. This year has felt different since I’ve mostly been traveling with the same band and I have a wonderful partner back home… More than ever we all just feel like a weird little family.

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Muzzy Luctin's Paul Schluter - photo by Craig Gieck

Muzzy Luctin


by John Noyd
October 1999

Even though they have only been together a short time, Muzzy Luctin already has enough history for a VH-1, “Behind the Music.” It’s been ten years since Muzzy Luctin’s guitar Paul Schluter kicked out the jams with Last Crack’s, Sinister Funkhouse #17, a wild rampage of hard rock boogie that brought the band legions of fans and a promising future. Promises being what they are, Last Crack disintegrated before national fame came calling, but the future arrived regardless and brought with it post-Crack bands White Chain , Spiritus, Mind Ox and ultimately Magic 7 a three quarters reforming of Last Crack halfway through the nineties. This new group took the original’s sonic squalor and added an element of eloquence, becoming steel plated shamans who moved beyond the thundering riffs into mature melodies and progressive six string slinging. Along with its members, Magic 7 brought Last Crack’s devoted following and again the future looked bright. Perhaps too bright, for before too long Schluter and vocalist and principal lyricist Buddo found themselves with a new rhythm section and the same old strains that brought Last Crack to its knees.

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Madison's Muzzy Luctin featuring former members of Inner Sanctum, Last Crack and Magic 7

Muzzy Luctin


by Sarah Klosterbuer
March 2002

The release of Symptoms of a Simple Life has been a long time coming for Muzzy Luctin.  Initial writing and recording for the album began in 1999, but scarce studio time and busy personal and professional lives for Muzzy Luctin’s members caused the final release to actually materialize almost three years later.

The time stretch proved to be a positive aspect in a number of ways for the band. Guitarist Paul Schluter took on mixing responsibilities for the disc, and quickly admits to being a perfectionist, refusing to be satisfied with anything less than excellence.  Perhaps even more significant than studio perfections, or even a more accepting rock scene than that of two years ago, is what the time has done for the personal dynamics of the band.  “You really find out whether or not you can stay together as a band, because we went through [a lot],” recalls Schluter.  “At least as bad or worse than some bands, and we stayed together.” Stressing the variety within the band, he continues, “[We have] different personalities, but we’ve all been able to compromise and work together and make it work, and that’s what’s gonna make us stay together.”

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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 BridgetForMadison.com and ResnickForMayor.com.

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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.

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