The Voice - Season 7

‘The Voice’ Singer Allison Bray Finds Her Joy With Country Music

At 18, country singer Allison Bray is a veteran on The Voice. Though she didn’t get a chair turn on season six, Bray didn’t hide in a corner and pout about the setback. Instead, she diligently worked on her craft to finally come back and get past the Blind Audition with a heartfelt rendition of “Merry Go Round.”

Bray sees her time on The Voice with a bigger picture in mind. Although having that singular vision of winning it all is understandable, Bray is focused on building a career anchored in longevity. In our interview, she discussed being mentored by Blake Shelton, having perseverance, and why bluegrass is pretty much embedded in her soul.

You’ve mentioned Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, and Loretta Lynn as influences. If a neophyte to country wanted to explore the music, would you lead them in that direction?

I would definitely suggest that. It is important with any type of music to get back into how it started. I actually started out in a bluegrass background. Pretty much my whole family played bluegrass instruments. I grew up with the absolute roots of country music and I think my bluegrass background influenced my love for Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn – all those great people.

Getting a feel for the passion behind country music, that can help you almost with any type of music because country music is the root of all Western world music. I do believe that learning those small things can help you as an artist.

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THE VOICE — “Battle Rounds” Episode 709 — Pictured: (l-r) Allison Bray, Carson Daly, Fernanda Bosch — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

How great is it to team with Blake Shelton – since he has a reverence for country music’s roots as well as having a mainstream take on it as well.

I had three coaches turn around during my blind auditions. I chose Blake for that sole purpose. Blake has lots to offer, not even from a music approach, but he is a great influence for me the advertising and music business aspect. He knows everyone and their moms (laughs). I think having him in my corner is going to help me a lot as an artist. Even if I don’t make it far on the show I think he will always be there for me as a person.

We will always have some type of connection or friendship because we both share that love for old country music. I think maybe later on down the road he can help me outside the show and help me push my career in country music. He can expose me to some wonderful people and help me out a little bit. I really went with him for that reason. I really wanted to go with Gwen because she’s a girl and she could help me with my voice. But I have to think past the singing because it’s a business and it’s something you have to be well seasoned.

You have to know how to market yourself, you have to know what they want to hear, and I think Blake can help me with that because he’s a country music artist.

A lot of people would have given up after not receiving a chair turn on The Voice, but you came back and took another chance. Where does that resilience come from?

I have never been a quitter – ever. Thankfully growing up my parents were very strict and very hard on me as far as doing things I said I was going to do. My dad made sure that no matter what happened or what I did, that I finished what I started. When I didn’t get a chair turnaround, I had some unfinished business and he was definitely the one who said, “You’re not putting yourself on the show, you need to go back there and show everyone that you have what it takes.”

Those words will be instilled into my brain until for my whole life and will be until the day I die. I don’t call myself a quitter. I will always keep going back. Not getting a chair turn was a good thing for me. It’s a very humbling experience, let alone not getting chosen. The fact that I had the opportunity to come back a second time has been a crazy experience and hard for me to grasp. I’m enjoying it nonetheless and I’ve had the time of my life on the show.

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THE VOICE — “Battle Rounds” Episode 709 — Pictured: Allison Bray — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Can you talk about the song you chose for your Knockout Round?

The song I chose reflects me as an artist. The first two songs I performed on the show have been more so laid back. The reason why I enjoy doing country music is that it tells a story. The song I chose is more upbeat and it’s more fun for me to perform.

If I had more fun doing it on stage, then I have a better shot at conveying a story and an image. I think this song will give me an opportunity to show everyone that not only am I a vocalist, I’m also a performer.

If anyone comes out and sees me on a weekly basis, they’ll know that this type of song is my favorite to do just because it’s fun.

How has it been being part of “The Voice” family?

I just tweeted that last night. I said there is not a tighter bond than the ones we have on the show. Not only between the contestants but even the staff of the show and the crew. The good thing about The Voice is they will always care about your well being – they care about you as an artist.

The music industry is so cutthroat and so straight to the point. Most of the time it’s about them making money and they don’t care about how you do or what you want to do.

(With) The Voice, they want you to succeed and that means the world to someone like me. Not only that, but we all live together throughout the course of the show. We get really close to each other – before we go to bed every night we sit around the fire at the hotel and play music and sing with each other. It’s a bond that’s hard to break and it’s a bond that we will keep outside the show. I’ve made friends that I will have for the rest of my life. 

The Voice is by far the best musical experience that I’ve had thus far and probably one of the best ones I’ll ever have.

Good luck moving forward and thanks for your time.

Thank you! Thank you so much.

The Voice continues with its Knockout Rounds tonight at 8 pm et/pt.

The Voice - Season 7

‘The Voice’ Artist Bryana Salaz: “I Love Being On Stage”

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THE VOICE — “Knockout Reality” — Pictured: (l-r) Gwen Stefani, Taylor Swift, Bryana Salaz — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Bryana Salaz brings a ton of moxie and charm to the stage. Part of the 17-year-old’s confidence stems from being raised in a military family and adapting to a plethora of new scenarios. Having Gwen Stefani as a coach has also nurtured Salaz’s skills, and their close knit bond has been evident throughout the season.

During our talk, Salaz was extremely humble and excited about her success on the show (she survived the Battle and Knockout rounds and is headed for the live shows), and though she has made her share of friends on The Voice, she also understands that this is a competition.

Check out our Q&A below as the ebullient (and seemingly fearless) artist talks about her relationship with Gwen Stefani, being raised in a military family, and her love for performing on stage.

How does it feel to advance to the live rounds?

Gosh, it’s been awesome. It’s so hard for me to put into words how I feel or how amazing and phenomenal it feels to be able to advance. And to have my family and friends supporting me is so awesome. The amount of support I’m getting on Twitter and Instagram and being able to share this experience with them and have them follow me like every step of the way almost is also incredibly awesome. I hope to keep moving forward and working hard because that’s what I’m here to do.

I’m very excited and blessed.

Has constantly moving with your family to different environments give you certain skill sets in adapting to The Voice?

Totally. Moving around almost every two years – it’s a lot, especially at my age. I’ve been to four different high schools and who wants to start a new high school their senior year. It’s actually pretty scary.

Moving around all the time and having to adapt to different cultures and styles – having to meet new people constantly, I think it’s given me an edge and advantage to this competition. It’s really hard number one even if you’re not a shy person. I’m not shy – I love meeting people.

But if you’re shy, I can’t imagine how much harder it is. Especially when you’re on the stage. Moving around has given me the ability to be really okay and get good at meeting new people and adapting to different environments. I’ve never been in an environment as fast paced as The Voice so it’s helped me change – It’s  been just so helpful in this competition in ways that really only (having a) military perspective could understand. It’s been an honor to be in a military family as well – it’s an honor to have a soldier as a dad.

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THE VOICE — “Battle Rounds” Episode 709 — Pictured: Bryana Salaz — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

You have a powerful voice, so working with such different singers like Gwen Stefani and Taylor Swift must really help in your growth.

Totally. Gwen Stefani, of course, she’s the queen of pop. It’s so different from what I want to pursue and it’s the same with Taylor Swift. They’re completely different artists and I’m a completely different artist from them. But to get their advice and their experience – they are some of the biggest names in the music industry.

I’m still finding out who I am as an artist. To get their help in molding me and helping me find myself is just a huge blessing. How many people can say that they’ve worked with Gwen Stefani and Taylor Swift – at the same time even! (laughs)

They helped take my song to the next level and that is why I was able to advance in the competition. I’m super excited to see what Gwen has in store and what song she picks for me!

I’m sure you’ve made lifelong friends from The Voice. Plus, it seems that Gwen Stefani really cares about you (note – Stefani jokingly told Bryana that she has “mommy issues” with her). From those two aspects, how amazing has this experience been for you?

It’s indescribable, really. I’ve made the best friends. It’s really so heartbreaking because you see some of your closest friends go home. Even my battle partner (Gianna Salvato) – we were best friends. To see her go home it’s like “I want you to do good, but I want to win.”

It’s so stressful and it was amazing because I got super close to Sugar Joans and I love her. It was such a great feeling to not have to go through that again and for us to still be in the competition (Joans, who lost to Salaz in Monday’s Knockouts round, is now part of team Pharrell).

Working with Gwen – she really is very, very good at connecting with her artists. She really puts a lot of time into us and breaks down what she wants from us and what we need to improve on. She doesn’t sugar coat anything, but she’s nice the way she does it. The bond that I have with her now – sometimes it doesn’t even register that I’m working with Gwen Stefani because we’ve gotten so close.

She really wants the best for every artist and it’s amazing how she can connect to each artist in a different way. I feel like we’ve formed this bond and connection that I trust that she is going to do awesome things for the live playoffs. She’s going to pick a great song. I trust her opinion because she really knows me as an artist. That’s something crazy to say that Gwen Stefani knows me. Oh my gosh, that’s so unreal! (laughs)

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THE VOICE — Season: 7 — Pictured: Bryana Salaz — (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

You tackle really big songs and you seem to have a strong sense of self-confidence? Where does that come from?

I think the confidence just comes from being onstage. Moving around all the time – it’s hard for me to say I have a home. I don’t have a home. If someone were to say, “let’s go visit (your) home,” where would I go?

When I’m on stage, I feel like I’m at home. I feel like that’s where I belong and that’s just where I was made to be. That really helps with my performing – I love being on stage. I love entertaining people. I love connecting to music. It’s been the only thing I’ve stuck with every time I’ve moved.

I want people to see that this is where I belong and that I will compete and I’ll work my butt off to stay on this stage. This is my home and I don’t want to leave it.

Is it still surreal to watch yourself on TV?

(laughs) Yes, oh my goodness it’s so weird. I never even got used to watching videos of me on YouTube. My parents would put videos of me on YouTube and I hated watching myself. Now I’m on national television and it’s like ten times worse! (laughs)

With being on TV, you’re going to get comparisons and people who don’t like certain things. That just comes with it and you just have to be able to just look past it. (Singing) is what I love to do and no matter what anybody says – you can’t bring me down!

This whole experience has been so hard to describe. All I can say is that it’s a blessing.


Soundgarden 3-CD Rarities Set Features 7 Unreleased Tracks


Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across The Patha 3-CD Soundgarden collection which features seven unreleased tracks, comes out November 24. Among the cuts is the single “Storm,” which was recorded in May with producer Jack Endino in Seattle (to listen to the song, you can stream it at this following link).

The great news is this collection wasn’t haphazardly thrown together, as Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil curated and selected the tracks. “As album sets go, this one has been fun to collect and compile over the decades,” said Thayil. “I personally may have referenced this project a number of times over the years, going back almost twenty of them to the mid-nineties.

Disc 1, titled “Originals,” features B-sides, the aforementioned “Storm” and the unreleased track “Kristi.” Disc 2 has the band doing a slew of covers from such artists as The Beatles, The Doors, The Stooges and the Rolling Stones. Demos, remixes, and instrumentals are featured on the third disc (it’s named “Oddities”).

Fans who pre-order Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across The Path get an instant download of “Storm”

Storm1 600x600 Soundgarden 3 CD Rarities Set Features 7 Unreleased Tracks

The Voice - Season 7

‘The Voice’ Interview With Katriz Trinidad (Team Pharrell)


Monday was the first night of Knockouts on The Voice, and earlier in the day I interviewed Team Pharrell member Katriz Trinidad. Though she’s 15, Trinidad has a focus, talent, and maturity that’s well beyond her age.

Though she lost on Monday’s knockouts to DaNica Shirey (one of my favorites to win it all this season), Trinidad approached this morning’s interview with a ton of class. I’m still smarting over Pharrell’s ridiculous decision to pair two of his strongest singers against each other.

Shirey is crazy talented, but witnessing Trinidad’s continued growth during the live rounds would have been fun to watch.  Blake Shelton, who’s excellent at nurturing young talent, may have been the better fit.

But that’s crying over spilt milk, and Trinidad, as she proved with her performance of “Superwoman,” has an undeniable gift. Her best days are just around the corner.

At such an early age, you have a sense of composure. Where does that come from?

My family raised me to be humble and respectful to others – to my aunties and uncles and to just everyone in general. I guess I just grew up like that. But thank you!

What age did you start singing and also how much have you learned from your experience on The Voice?

I started singing at the age of five so it’s been 10 years now and it kind of feels like I started since I was zero years old! It’s been a great experience so far and I’ve learned more about myself as an artist. I definitely have been growing and I did things that I didn’t even know I was capable of. So it’s been a great experience so far.

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THE VOICE — “Battle Rounds” Episode 708 — Pictured: (l-r) Blessing Offor, Katriz Trinidad — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)
What didn’t you realize about your singing? Was it the diversity within your voice or your ability to perform? Or was it a combination of things?

A combination of a lot of things but most importantly the diversity of my voice. I’m a pop, R&B, a little bit jazzy singer but I was able to bring more out of my vocal side because I was paired with Blessing and he’s extremely talented. I had to really step up my game and he had that really soulful side – so I had to just do my best and try to find ways to show my potential as well.

Is there an advantage of working with someone like Pharrell?

Yeah, he knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s been a great experience and I’m so thankful to get feedback from him and just learn from him.

Has it been a surreal experience watching yourself on TV as well as going through this entire experience?

It’s a lot to take in. I’ve made it so far already. I just got into the blind auditions – and it’s so hard to get into that because you need one chair to turn around for you and I got three. I was very thankful for that and it’s been a huge challenge because everyone is extremely talented but I have to keep on pushing through and that’s what I’m doing.

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THE VOICE — “Knockout Rounds” Episode 710 — Pictured: Katriz Trinidad — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)
Is singing what you want to do for the rest of your life?

Ever since the age of 7 I started to compete and just getting that feel of the stage when you realize that singing is something I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s something I really want to pursue and yeah, it’s just a dream and I’m living it right now.

What has it been like performing in front of “The Voice” audience?

It’s very nerve wracking before I actually get up there, but then I realize that it’s taped. It’s on TV, and I have to do my best to continue on through the competition. So it’s a lot to take in, but I just tell myself to have fun out there.

Who are the artists or songs that you go back to for inspiration?

I always go back to “At Last.” I really know that song and my uncle who passed away taught me that song. So it’s really dear to my heart, and I love to sing it. I sang it at my blind audition so I was glad about that.

What are the biggest lessons you learned from The Voice?

I guess just experiencing so much from singing competitions I always told myself to rehearse and know exactly what I’m going to do. Gwen Stefani and the other coaches, especially Pharrell, just told me to sing from the heart and put that perfection aside and just do what feels naturally to you. Whatever you feel, they’re going to feel with you. That’s something I’m still trying to work on.

Since I’m 15 years old, I don’t have much experience but I do have to act like I have much experience when I actually go out there and perform. I’ve been getting a lot of great advice from them.

Thank you for your time and take care.

Thank you. You too – bye!

The Voice Knockout Rounds continue Tuesday night (NBC, 8 pm et/pt).


Amanda Seyfried Gets Cookin’ With Eerie Short ‘Dog Food’

Eerie, creepy, and perhaps bloody may be on your menu this Halloween season, and if you’re yearning for a morbid tale then Dog Food should be on your menu. The 18-minute short, which was the Vimeo Staff pick for today, centers on Declan (Gotham‘s Cory Michael Smith), an affable butcher who falls head over heels for a new customer (Amanda Seyfried).

His crush takes a backseat to the horrible discovery that his dog  Ralphie has gone missing. When the young woman invites Declan to dinner and serves him a glaringly suspect plate of meat, their intimate gathering leads to a surprising denouement (David Craig, who plays the woman’s roomie, also stars).

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Amanda Seyfried, Cory Michael Smith, David Craig in ‘Dog Food’

The project, which won Best Horror at Comic Con, has played in over 30 international film fests, and as much as I love Letters to Juliet (a guilty pleasure), twisted tales are near and dear to my heart. Check out the Brian Crano directed short below and feel free to comment below!

Dog Food from Brian Crano on Vimeo.

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Cory Michael Smith, Amanda Seyfried in ‘Dog Food’
The Voice - Season 7

‘The Voice’ Singer DaNica Shirey: “I Want To Inspire People & Uplift Them”

DaNica Shirey has a set of pipes and vocal control that many singers would love to have, but as John Lennon once mused, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Along with the joys and responsibilities that come with raising a four-year-old daughter, Shirey endured the loss of her father three years ago and temporarily put the brakes on her singing career.

But music has always been an integral part of the York County, Pennsylvania native. If you’ve seen her inspiring battle round performance of “Halo” last week with Toia Jones, you know that her vocal talent is equally matched with a fighting spirit. Both artists took it to the limit with “Halo,” and it’s great to see Jones get stolen by Adam Levine to remain in the competition.

During our interview, Shirey seemed immensely grateful for her journey on The Voice, as she talked about being coached by Pharrell and being continually inspired by her father and daughter.

Your battle round performance of “Halo” with Toia Jones was definitely memorable.

Oh my gosh, yeah. It was such a crazy performance. At the beginning we were still doubting ourselves as everyone saw. We were just so worried about it and we weren’t sure where we were going with it. We were kind of holding back a lot, but with the help of the amazing Pharrell Williams (laughs) – he got us to open up and just really believe in ourselves and truly get down to the core and the meaning of the song and just try to feel it and put our hearts into it. 

It was something that was so heartfelt that after our performance when we finally let loose, we had that moment when we just broke down and started crying because it was incredible for us. 

I love singing that song – that song always makes me think of my dad. It was just really emotional and I never imagined that I would be able to do the stuff that I did without the help of Pharrell, I don’t think I could have. 

Being a mother and having your father as a continued inspiration for you, how great has it been to have both of them in your life? I’m sure that inspires you.

It does. My father has inspired me to just be a better parent. He just followed me and he was always right behind me when I wanted to sing.

I told him from day one, ‘Daddy I want to sing.’ He was just there – 100%. That always felt amazing. I guess in a sense I kind of took it for granted a little bit and I was just so lost when he passed away. I didn’t know what to do.

My dad was such a positive person and he looked at the brighter side to every day and everything. I try really hard to be like that – I strive to be like him and then all I want to do is to make my daughter proud of me the way I am so proud of my dad. I love that connection I have with my father and I definitely have that with my daughter already. I want her to know that she can follow her dreams too. Whatever she wants to do, I’m going to back her up. I want that same relationship.

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THE VOICE — “Battle Rounds” Episode 708 — Pictured: DaNica Shiery — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

With Pharrell, he’s a great producer and artist, but he’s also a compassionate person. Can you talk about your connection with Pharrell?

For one, we mentioned from day one that we are both Aries. I feel like we naturally have this bond. It’s funny, as I’ve said before, there is just this thing with Pharrell from the beginning. Even while the other coaches were talking, I could just feel his energy. I could feel that he was just passionate about me – the way that he looked at me was so genuine and he really, really wanted me on his team. We connected in that way right away.

Musically, he works with so many styles of music and so many different artists and I enjoy singing different styles of music. I would love to get the chance to work with musicians from different genres. Who’s a better person to get advice from than Pharrell? I trust his word and I know that his ear for music is just perfect. I feel confident with him.

How has the fan reaction been with your time on The Voice? I’m sure it means a lot to you.

Absolutely – it really does. I cry every single day reading really nice comments that people write to me. I have some friends that are friend of mine that are from the area here (note – Shirey mentioned the family’s last name, but my darn recorder couldn’t decipher the name). They’re the nicest group of people that I’ve ever met. One of the girls had tagged me on a picture in my Facebook and they had this framed picture back when I was 14 or 15. I had a bunch of newspaper articles and they had all these cut outs framed on their wall. She tagged me in the picture and said that her parents had not taken that picture down. That was 10 years ago.

There was a girl that wrote me and said I inspired her to do music again because she kind of stopped after she had a child. She said, ‘you’ve inspired me to do it again that I already called the recording studio to start recording new songs.’

That’s why I’m doing this. I want to inspire people and uplift them with music the way it has done for me.

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THE VOICE — “Team Pharrell Battle Reality” — Pictured: (l-r) DaNica Shirey, Toia Jones — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Being part of “The Voice” family must also be a wonderful part of your journey. Plus, maybe you’re able to experience your success in a different way these days.

I have developed a second family from this entire experience. Everybody has stayed in contact with one another even if they didn’t get a chair turn from the beginning. All of us have been so close, and it’s very interesting to see the people who you get close with.

I do feel that maybe it didn’t happen for me because it wasn’t my time ten years ago. I don’t know that I would have maybe appreciated or loved it this much. You really have to through some hard stuff in life. . . you kind of really have to fail to know the true feeling of succeeding.

It took me a long time to do it and I gave up on it for a while. Then I came back and with life experiences, I am so blessed and thankful that I am here now. I don’t think it could have worked out at a better time. I think it’s perfect timing.

You’re one of my favorites this season and I hope you make it deeper into the competition.

Thank you so much! Thank you.

Bandai Namco Games America

‘Dragon Ball Xenoverse’ Readies For February 2015 Release

Dragon Ball Xenoversea collaboration between Bandai Namco Games and Japan based developer Dimps, makes its debut on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Steam on February 17, 2015.

Diehard Dragonball enthusiasts can also pick up a “Day 1″ edition of the game that will contain exclusive playable characters which include Super Saiyan 4 Vegeta and two special Frieza Soldier’s Battle Suits.

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Super Saiyan 4 Vegeta – “Day 1″ Edition Playable Character

The title, which contains characters from Dragon Ball GT, features a new Tournament Budokai Tenkaichi mode which has fighters gathering and deciding who’s the strongest warrior in the universe. I can’t even imagine how epic this brawler is going to be (the mode is accessible through Toki Toki City).

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Bandai Namco Games

More updates are coming down the road, but for now, check out the game’s pretty kick-ass box art below:

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I also dug the game’s trailer, which contains over-the-top narration. My favorite line, which comes 1:26 into the clip is: “The hero is goku – no the hero is you!!” 

The Voice - Season 7

‘The Voice’ Artist Matt McAndrew Gets Personal With Songwriting Process



Matt McAndrew is as focused a musician as they come, as the University of the Arts grad released an album this year and is also receiving continuing music education from Adam Levine and the other coaches on The Voice.

During the interview, McAndrew talked about  befriending fellow artists on The Voice, working on his album View of the Pines, and why, when it comes to running down a dream, he can be a “stubborn” kind of guy.

With the knockouts on The Voice being tonight at 8 pm et/pt, check out our Q&A with this likable (and driven) musician:

Being a singer/songwriter, was it great to work with such artists as Adam Levine and Stevie Nicks?

Sure. Coming from a more singer/songwriter background, going into the show it’s been interesting for me because I’m not that used to being so passionate about singing covers. So I’ve had to learn how to be creative when covering somebody’s song and when I’m changing the melody or altering it (to come) from a songwriter’s point of view. Everybody that I’ve had the opportunity to work with – Adam and Stevie  – they’re songwriters as well. They easily come from that angle also.

Is having the ability to share your own personal journey part of being a successful artist or musician?

Totally. Just speaking from the writing first and foremost – that’s the whole point of writing for me. (It’s) just to try to write about my own life and be completely autobiographical with my songs. And furthermore with my experiences on the show, that’s the whole reason why I picked ‘A Thousand Years’ as my audition song because I figured it might be the only performance I get to do on the show.  If that’s the case I might as well not waste the opportunity (but instead) pick a song that is really beautiful and emotional.

Inspiration wise I just follow whatever moves me, and those are the things I like to gravitate towards as far as performances as well.

Can you talk about the album you released earlier this year? It must be cool to be on The Voice and also have View of the Pines currently out.

The cool thing for me has been just gaining fans who are watching the show and having them find out that I have some music out and having it be well received by people who were just originally fans of me on the show.

That’s been really, really cool and a pleasant surprise. They’re all songs that I wrote about my life – and it was kind of a challenging experience for me. It took a long time to make (and) it was the first record I made that was actually done in a studio.

I felt I was was ready to exhibit my work with the most professional polish. I really worked on it until I felt that everything was perfect. But yeah, it’s just me kind of bearing my heart. It’s great that people are latching onto it, especially with exposure from the show. It’s awesome.

How has going to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia been beneficial for you?

I think it was incredibly beneficial for me. Where I grew up, there wasn’t much of an artistic community and I didn’t come from a particularly musical family. So it was the first time I had been really surrounded by people who were musically inclined and beyond that people who could really sing.

Just learning about the terminology and ways to communicate ideas that I sort of recognize in my own head. The biggest thing for me was just being in that environment and surrounded by other driven and talented musicians. Some of that energy rubs off on you and pushes you further.

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THE VOICE — “Battle Rounds” Episode 708 — Pictured: Matt McAndrew — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)
So you performed at your high school last week? What was that experience like?

I went back to Southern Regional High School and it was crazy! They had kind of told me that the tickets weren’t sold out on the day off – but even with that I thought it was just going to be (an audience) just sitting and watching me play.

It was way wilder than I could have ever imagined. After the show, kids were waiting for two hours to get a picture with me and an autograph. It was really incredible. I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

How great is it to know that after ‘The Voice’ you’ll have an extended group of friends and colleagues that you can support and work with in the future?

Throughout the whole experience, even prior to the blind auditions, I always recognized the opportunity to meet the other contestants as a major thing. You meet people who are totally like-minded and have totally dedicated their lives into doing something that is basically the same as what you’re doing. They’re coming from Nashville, Texas, California – everywhere. They’re all coming to the same place.

Moving forward, these are people that I’ve shared such a unique and strange experience with. I’ll be able to call them up and text them or hit them up on Facebook and say ‘Hey, I’m in town, you want to throw a show together?’

So I’m just as excited to meet other contestants as I am to meet the coaches and everyone else.

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THE VOICE — “Battle Rounds” Episode 708 — Pictured: (l-r) Ethan Butler, Carson Daly, Matt McAndew — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)
What drives you as a musician? Does it come from being inspired by your family or does it come from getting the chance to live out your dreams and aspirations?

I think it’s a combination of both. It’s something I wanted to do for a really long time and I’m very stubborn (laughs). And I kind of told myself that I was going to do music even if I was going to hate it. I’m just going to keep on doing it.

Luckily, I don’t hate it – I love it. My whole approach has been “all or nothing” and “do or die.” I approach music like that and have gotten myself in a predicament now where I feel like I need to succeed for myself and for my family as well. It is what it is, do you know what I mean?

When I was growing up, times were a little easier and it was more of a dream, and now it’s funny because that dream is maybe my best chance of making a better life for myself. It’s kind of interesting, but it’s alright to have some pressure on yourself sometimes.

Thank you so much for your time.

Thank you. I appreciate it.

The following video features McAndrew’s Battle Round performance with Ethan Butler. Though both artists have absolutely different approaches, their performance of “Yellow” was right on the money.

Nightcrawler (Open Road Films, Chuck Zlotnick)

Jake Gyllenhaal Delivers Runaway Performance In ‘Nightcrawler’

Jake Gyllenhaal delivers one of his best performances as Lou Bloom, a news stringer who will do anything it takes to capture raw and graphic footage in the riveting thriller Nightcrawler.

Bloom, along with a police scanner and an in-over-his-head assistant (Riz Ahmed) scour the Los Angeles streets waiting to capture the latest crime or car accident that occur during the dead of night. Rene Russo is Nina Romina, a desperate news director who loves Bloom’s graphic footage and isn’t afraid of crossing the line to garner great ratings.

Although Lou Bloom is an ambitious, diligent go-getter, some of his actions lead to drastic consequences. Though some viewers may characterize Bloom as sociopathic, Gyllenhaal also explains how this “nightcrawler” is a product of our media frenzied environment:

“We’re the ones who are responsible for giving them the opportunity for people to pay for the stuff that they’re getting. We are the people who create Lou Bloom. We’ve created him. He’s a creation of our culture. That’s how I feel about news now.”

The project also enabled Gyllenhaal to collaborate with his godfather Robert Elswit, a celebrated cinematographer who’s lensed There Will Be Blood, The Master, and Michael Clayton. Elswit paints Los Angeles in a predatory light in Nightcrawler, giving us a City of Angels that’s far from angelic and glamorous.

One of the several elements behind Gyllenhaal’s inspired work lies in the physicality he approached with the role. To achieve Lou Bloom’s hungry and lean look, the actor consistently ran throughout Griffith Park. Click on the media bar to hear the actor talk about losing weight for the role:

Nightcrawler, directed and penned by Dan Gilroy, opens October 31.


‘The Pact 2′ Directors Patrick Horvath & Dallas Hallam On Film’s Visual Style

With Halloween just around the corner, The Pact 2 is a worthy selection to put in this week’s horror rotation. Grey’s Anatomy star Camilla Luddington is June Abbott, a crime scene cleaner who draws vivid and graphic artwork during her spare time. Coupled with her grisly nightmares and a possible link to the Judas Killer (the murderer featured in The Pact), June’s days are not exactly filled with sunshine and rainbows.

Patrick Fischler is Ballard, an eccentric FBI agent who has his doubts about June’s innocence, with Scott Michael Foster co-starring as June’s concerned cop boyfriend. The Pact headliner Caity Lotz reprises her role as Annie.

ThePact2photo3 600x400 The Pact 2 Directors Patrick Horvath & Dallas Hallam On Films Visual Style
Camilla Luddington in ‘The Pact 2′ (IFC Films/IFC Midnight)

Though the film has its requisite “shock you” moments, the project’s main strengths lie in the atmospheric feel and pacing delivered by co-directors Patrick Horvath and Dallas Hallam. Their 2012 film Entrance was initially shot on the cheap, so working with a low budget was definitely in their wheelhouse.

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Patrick Horvath & Dallas Hallam, Directors of ‘The Pact 2′
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The Pact 2 – (IFC Films / IFC Midnight)

During my interview with the filmmakers, Horvath and Hallam discussed the challenge of getting a cinematographer (Carmen Cabana) at the midnight hour of pre-production (the first DP left the project). The movie still ended up with a solid and eye-catching visual style (it’ll be interesting to see what the directors do with a bigger budget), and they also credit Cabana for helping create the film’s visual aesthetic.

The movie’s a great showcase Camilla Luddington, who’s a lifelong horror fan, and co-stars Fischler and Loitz (they are both Mad Men vets) also add an extra luster to the material.

I’ll be posting more from my interview with Horvath and Hallam in the future, as they give great filmmaking advice for first time directors.

In sum, the flick is a supernatural/serial killer hybrid that delivers the goods, especially if moody and atmospheric thrillers (tinged with a bit of blood, of course) is your type of dance.

The Pact 2, which opened in select theaters earlier this month, is also available On Demand as well as on Amazon Instant Video and on iTunes.

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Caity Lotz & Camilla Luddington in THE PACT 2 (IFC Midnight, Copyright: Unlocked Door Films, LLC
Photography by: Carmen Cabana & Ron Batzdorf)

Where dreaming is believing…

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