Review: Teen Funk Blues Band Foxy Apollo Unleashes Their New EP, “Tangie”

 


Tangie is a nickname for “Tangerine Dreams” – a track on the EP. This collection of songs depicts a rollercoaster of different musical emotions and inspirations and was designed to feel like a layer-revealing tour of how Foxy Apollo feels and embraces the expression of music.  (Sam Ashkenazy)

Foxy Apollo
(L-R: Sam Ashkenazy, Satchel Schwartz & Zach Schmidt) Photo courtesy of @FoxyApollo

The gentleman of Foxy Apollo, Sam Ashkenazy (vocals, guitar, bass) and Satchel Schwartz (drums), have an announcement:

Foxy Apollo is dropping a new EP, “Tangie.” (!)


“Tangie” is a collection of songs written, produced and recorded entirely by Ashkenazy and Schwartz.

When I sat down with Sam and Satchel a few months ago, I was struck by how attentive, inquisitive and thoughtful they are. It’s part of what makes their music so good.

In our interview, they talked about self-analysis and how it’s a key part of their creative and emotional processes, and it’s apparent in their lyrics.

 

“Tangie” is wrought with self-reflection and shared thoughts about life’s trials and tribulations.


Wanna get a taste of “Tangie”?
Click play on the Soundcloud player above and
check out my song notes below!

1

Palomino:

The gents of Foxy Apollo seamlessly weave their crafts together in this funkified tune that has elements reminiscent of one of my favorite albums as a child, The Beatles’ “Abbey Road.” The tune kicks off with a guitar solo and begins and ends with perfectly intriguing lyrics: She won’t mind / So blunt and receptive, respectively.

2

Monro:

We hear more of Ashkenazy’s vocal range as he sings in a lower register versus his usual falsetto vocals. This song exemplifies Foxy Apollo’s use of sharps and flats that hit at all the right times. Their watery wavy vocal filter used midway through the song reminds me of The Breeders “Mad Lucas” (on their album –and my first CD– “Last Splash.”)  I get the 90’s nostalgic feels.
I hear a twinge of The Beatles again but the sound is more akin to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“-ish.

3

Tangerine Dreams

(FKA “Donkey Kong”) With a more gritty and bare-boned sound than their other songs, this ditty has a live feel to it. I imagine Foxy Apollo playing in a cozy basement coffee shop that serves the best lattes, and has fluffy oversized sofas and a crackling fireplace. I dig the playful organ, layered harmonic vocals, and Ashkenazy’s crooner “Aaaah’s” that close out the song.

4

Winston:

This one showcases Ashkenazy’s vocal dynamism as he swings effortlessly between low and high notes. Lyrics that struck me:
Open your eyes and to your own surprise / Oh, the world keeps on changing while you’re frozen like ice / Baby, tell me something good, like I thought you never would / I think it’s time that we slap ourselves in line.

Overall, “Tangie” is comprised of words and sounds created by people who pay close attention to their inner and outer worlds, and what a mad world it is that teenagers live in.


Music is critically important in a lot of teenager’s lives.

It certainly was (and is!) in mine. [Alert: Stepping up onto my Teenagers-Are-Awesome-Yet-Underrated soapbox.]

With what teenagers are up against today, supporting bands like Foxy Apollo and youth arts programs like Arts Corps and Youth Speaks as well as encouraging creative expression are significant and relevant.

For some teenagers, playing and/or listening to music is the only way they cope with life’s stressors.

Whether or not you play an instrument, music is a form of expression and a mode of connecting with others that transcends words. Practicing creativity and innovation, and using our imaginations – humanity needs these things…

…and Foxy Apollo’s “Tangie” delivers. Per their FB band bio, Listening to Foxy Apollo’s music gives you a taste of the many emotions and stories that have come through the group, and is intended to give you the opportunity to go out and create yourself. 

Foxy Apollo’s spirit and music capture the essence of what music can provide for individuals and society. Their music is fun, contemplative, honest, observant, vulnerable.

Teenagers like Sam and Satchel are ferociously creative humans with a fervor and hopefulness that we, adults, too often forget.

It’s time for us to listen up! Teenagers have some wisdom to impart.

Thank you, Foxy Apollo, for being teen music leaders in our community, and congratulations on releasing a new EP, “Tangie”!


You can also listen to “Tangie” on Spotify and coming soon on Apple Music.

Follow the band on Instagram and Facebook @FoxyApollo.



*The original post listed “Tangie” as a full-length album. That was an error. It’s an EP!

Buckle Up with Seattle’s Alt-Rock Band, Gypsy Temple, at The Funhouse Tonight!

I think you can’t have a conversation about powerful artistry without including one about mental health. For me and Gypsy Temple, music is an outlet for our physical, spiritual, and most critically, mental health.  — Cameron Lavi-Jones

Cameron Lavi-Jones
Gypsy Temple Frontman, Cameron Lavi-Jones. (Photo courtesy of Gypsy Temple website.)

Gypsy Temple
is the second

fantastical teen Seattle band

I’ll be hanging out with for my

Teen Music & Mind Wellness

project, &

they have a show TONIGHT!*
Wed., Feb. 7
6:30-10pm

Tix avail @ the door still! $12

@ The Funhouse
109 Eastlake Ave.

Gimme Directions!

 


Frontman, Cameron Lavi-Jones, reached out to me to participate in this project with an enthusiasm that inspired me.

I texted Cameron yesterday to ask if he could send me a quick line or two about mental health for this announcement.

Within minutes, he busted out a thoughtful, badass response that made my heart jiggle.

I’ll tease you with an excerpt.

You’re going to have to come back to read it all when I post our upcoming interview.  😉

“Our songs are based on negative emotions and experiences, but through the process of songwriting, performing, producing, and playing the music, those negative emotions become the guide for positivity. Those negative emotions become something we are proud of and something that makes us unique as artists.”


BUCKLE UP!

I have no doubt that this show is going to be fun as heck!

Come say hi, if ya like.

I don’t bite.      usually.

Psssst!  I’ll be streaming a bit of the show live on my Instagram @lady_archiva.

 



 

*The forthcoming post of my interview with Cameron Lavi-Jones will include more details about the other bands. This show is part of the Love vs. Logic West Coast Tour with AMOR.

Full Interview with Foxy Apollo

Full(ish) Interview*

O: I love the fact that you’ve kind of taken the ‘Fine, Fuck It’-DIY-we’ll-just-do-what-we-can-ourselves approach. It seems like that’s been going pretty well.

SA: Yeah. It definitely has.

SS: We’ve definitely been growing in the past couple months, for sure.

O: Been listening to the EP you guys put out, earlier this year, right? It’s really new, right?  Sounds great.

SA: Yeah, it came out a few months ago. Thanks.

O: I don’t know much about funk so I don’t really have much to draw upon in terms of comparisons. Maybe you guys can say a little bit about – Why funk? What your inspirations are…what does funk mean to you?

SA: I’m really into funkadelic. That’s a huge inspiration to me. I hadn’t really been super into. I wasn’t growing up listening to a shit ton of funk…I kind of started…we just started playing it. We started out as a blues band and then we started doing breakouts.

Who’s in the band?

The band is still forming. A few people who started out in the band ended up having to leave but they made a big impact. Currently, Foxy Apollo is Sam, Satchel and Zach, but these are the guys who played the show I attended:

What’s With the Band Name?

SA: It started with me and my cousin jamming a couple summers ago. It was kind of an inside joke. We thought it was funny. It was catchy. It didn’t really mean anything at the time…it got its meaning a lot later.

SS: We’ve jokingly called ourselves Oxy Pollo. (Remove the first two letters.)

O: Or you could be Foxy Pollo – Foxy Chicken.  (haha!)

The Creative Process :: Writing Your Emotions

SA: I’ve been writing songs for a while. I started out imitating a couple musicians – mainly Nirvana. I was in a couple bands that were basically a mirror image of Nirvana.

In high school, I was really stressed out. I was a little down. I got really into writing songs, putting words to how I felt. It kind of just like spills out of you. But yeah, it kind of all builds up and you’re like, Oh shit, now I have a bunch of songs. Now I can do something with these.

O: I started writing when I was 14-15 because of depression. I didn’t know what it was then but, for me, writing poetry…they’re like lyrics. Eventually, it turned into music so I totally get the importance of having that creative outlet.

SA: Yeah. And definitely, as I’ve gotten older, too. We just started going to Edmonds Community College. They have an amazing music program and access to studios so we’ve been working a lot there. Every day we’ve been trying to spill a little bit out.

[At this point in our conversation, Satchel recognized The Roots playing overhead.]

O: I heard some Nirvana and Built to Spill in your music, and my friend said he heard 90’s and 70’s rock.

SA: I could see that. 70’s rock is huge. I grew up listening to Neil Young and classic rock, and I got into indie rock in high school

SS: Definitely 70’s funk like The Brothers Johnson. That’s so tight. I love that stuff.

Songs: Mental Breakdown and I’ve Gone Mad

O: Part of why I’m talking to you guys is because I’m interested in mental health and depression, especially teenage depression. I don’t know what it’s like to be a teenager now. Music is usually a personal thing, so I wondering about your song, “I Think I’m Mad.”

SA: I started writing that song about drug addiction and a lot of self-analysis; more of a bond I shared with my cousin. We were talking about a lot of deep things but writing these really silly songs, covering it up with happy melodies but really kind of writing about more deep things that we couldn’t really completely comprehend.

O: That’s awesome. It’s awesome how music does that.

Teenagers and Ageism

SS: Like Sam was saying, self-analysis has always been a big thing. I think with being a musician sometimes…if you’re like me, I like to practice a lot and you could go six hours and feel like you’ve gotten nothing done and you’re really hard on yourself.

It’s gotten to a point sometimes with me, where like, I won’t have any friends at the time, except for Sam, because I’ll shelter myself and then you realize everybody’s out and you’re like. Oh, alright I guess I’m here alone with a pad..messing around.

O: Right, and is that hard sometimes because you don’t have that social interaction with more people?

SS: Yeah but I just put it back into music though. You go and listen to an album so it’s both a good and a bad…

O: Yeah, you have to sacrifice something, right? I mean, if music isn’t something you’re willing to sacrifice then you have a to find a way to be OK with it, right?

SS: Yeah, absolutely.

O: Do you actually practice six hours a day?!

SS: Yeah. I try to. Today I did four. I want to go to music school next year, hopefully, so I’m trying to get as good as I can for auditions.

How does this band fit into your music career? Is it a project band?

SA: I’m always gonna be making music. It’s kind of inevitable. It’s not a sacrifice for me because it’s something I’ll always do. Even if this, specifically, doesn’t work out at some point, I’d still keep making stuff and sharing.

O: When you say that, do you mean that you’re thinking you’re gonna work in the music industry? Like you want to try to be an artist and make money from that or…?

SS: I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily about the money thing. I mean, yes, I think we both want to become professional musicians or people who work with audio. Even if it’s just becoming an audio engineer or something, doing that kind of business, but I think it’s just about the love of music. Both of us wouldn’t care living in a shithole for like..I don’t know, 40 years.

SA: What about the industry where you specifically asking about?

O: Have you thought about or considered the fact that maybe you’d have to work in something else to sustain myself.

SA: We’ve been studying a lot of stuff around the music itself, too. We’ve been studying some sound engineering and visiting studios and hearing a lot of audio engineering stories. I still wanna tackle the music industry and see what else you can do around it.

Obviously, there’s a chance I might end up with another job around it but I think it’d be cool to learn about all the other stuff instead of just coming [at music] from one direction.

SS: Do you think you could ever see yourself in a desk job?

SA: Fuck no.

Laughter ensues.

SS: That’s a big “no.”

~18:45 [I blab on about entrepreneurship. Don’t have to be stuck at a desk.]

***

O: There are a couple of things in particular I’m curious about your description of the band on FB.

“Lack of respect that you’ve experienced” – can you tell me a bit more?

SA: We’ve been playing at some bars and people see these kids playing –and I’ve experienced this a lot cause I’ve been playing since I was really young– and they kind of just like…

O: Write you off?

SSel: Exactly.

SA: Yeah. They’re kinda like, “Play your show and get the fuck outta here.” I mean, they don’t really treat you with the same respect.

SS: We’ve played shows where I’ve literally had to set up my drum kit outside the venue and carry it in onto the stage and right after, immediately leave.

SA: ..and get escorts to the bathroom.

O: What?! That’s not cool…

SA: I mean, I get it. They’re cracking down…but it’s less about the concerns of underage drinking and more about how people view young musicians, their perspective of them.

SS: We’re like free entertainment to them and they can just treat us like crap…

O: That’s messed up. It sounds like you’ve found some places that are better about that?

Both: Oh yeah. Those are only a select few.

SA: It’s really opened our eyes and it made us realize that we really want to be doing this ourselves; not relying on others to promote us cause a lot of promoters aren’t doing their part…

O: That’s frustrating.

SS: It makes it fun though.

“Meticulous approach to playing” – What do you mean? Meticulous in what way?

SS: We both play in a very distinct style and they’re both very exact in their own ways, that together makes a whole new sound..it’s different.

SA: Also, aside from the style, we connect a lot to it. Each part of it is telling its own story in a way.

SS: It’s definitely a very thoughtful process…

“Emotions and stories that come through….” that’s kind of what you’re talking about. Channeling your experiences

SS: Working on writing and recording a lot of new stuff. We’ve recorded a bunch, just need to record drums and its good to go. Not ready for a release date yet. [Edit: Foxy Apollo has since released a few tracks, which you can listen to on Soundcloud here.

SA: We’re trying to get into the mixing process too and mix our own music using studios at school.

O: I’m excited to hear what you guys come up with. I think your energy is super cool.

I have a special place in my heart for teenagers because of the age-ism you were talking about. People, culture don’t take children/ seriously.

****

Notes: Sam does most band mgmt (booking shows, art) with help from others. Satchel ends up recording the practices, usually.

****

Note: Some portions of the interview were omitted to respect confidentiality and privacy. Additionally, some portions of the interview were slightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Continue reading Full Interview with Foxy Apollo

Interview: The Frontmen of Teen Funk Blues Band —Foxy Apollo— Talk Music, Mental Health & Ageism in the Seattle Music Scene

Foxy Apollo is a teen band. This is an important detail because teenagers are, so often, written off as overly emotional or are told things like, “you’ll understand when you’re an adult.” Fuck that, I say. You don’t need to be an adult to make great music that moves people.  – Odawni

A couple of months ago, I went to a show at The Rendevouz to see friends in two bands that opened for the headliner, Foxy Apollo. After the second band, my friends and I watched as five young musicians set up their equipment on stage. My friend and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows and wide-eyes. We mouthed to one another in unison, “How old are these guys?!”

Then, they started playing. I was blown away. We all were. They had great energy. There was an air of musical prowess about them. Their respect for the musical craft was palpable.

Their sound is funky and fun and sometimes gritty but always with heart. Guitarist and lead singer, Sam Ashkenazy, has a voice that carries raw, visceral emotion. Satchel Schwartz keeps the beat going on drums with such reverence and a confident coolness.

Their music has soul. It tugs at you.



I’ve mentioned before that I think teenagers are some of the most thoughtful, ingenious, inspiring, curious, adventurous, resilient, caring and highly creative people on this planet, and these two gents are no exception.

I wanted to know more about them, the band, their inspirations and aspirations. So, after the show, I hopped up on stage and asked if they’d be down for an interview. I was so excited that they obliged.

I’ve carved out some interview highlights below but you can read a more full version here


Foxy Apollo Facts

As an introduction to the front men of Foxy Apollo, here are a few tidbits of info. Sam and Satchel:

  • Are 17 and grew up in Seattle.
  • Met at summer camp just before 6th grade.
  • They played in jazz band together at Roosevelt High School.
  • They reconnected last year, after Sam lived on Bainbridge Island for 1.5 years, and started playing music together again.
  • Sam started writing songs and playing live shows at Seattle venues since 13.
  • Are currently studying audio engineering at Edmonds Community College through the Running Start program.
  • Released their self-titled debut album in 2017.
foxy apollo logo 2018
Photo courtesy of @foxyapollo

Who’s in the band?

The band is still forming. A few people who started out in the band ended up having to leave but they made a big impact. Currently, Foxy Apollo is Sam, Satchel and Zachary Schmidt (Bassist).

What’s With the Band Name?

Sam (SA): It started with me and my cousin jamming a couple summers ago. It was kind of an inside joke. We thought it was funny. It was catchy. It didn’t really mean anything at the time…it got its meaning a lot later.

Satchel (SS): We’ve jokingly called ourselves Oxy Pollo. (Remove the first two letters.)

O (me!): Or you could be Foxy Pollo – Foxy Chicken.  (haha!)


Music Influences

O: I heard some Nirvana and Built to Spill in your music, and my friend said he heard 90’s and 70’s rock.

SA: I could see that. 70’s rock is huge. I grew up listening to Neil Young and classic rock, and I got into indie rock in high school.

SS: Definitely 70’s funk like The Brothers Johnson. That’s so tight. I love that stuff.



Music & Mental Health

Writing Your Emotions

SA: I’ve been writing songs for a while. I started out imitating a couple musicians – mainly Nirvana. I was in a couple bands that were basically a mirror-image of Nirvana.

In high school, I was really stressed out. I was a little down. I got really into writing songs, putting words to how I felt. It kind of just like spills out of you. But yeah, it kind of all builds up and you’re like, “Oh shit, now I have a bunch of songs. Now I can do something with these!”

O: I started writing when I was fifteen because of depression. I didn’t know what it was then but, for me, I started writing poetry to get through it – poetry is like lyrics. Eventually, it turned into making music so I totally get the importance of having that creative outlet.

SA: Yeah. And, definitely, as I’ve gotten older, too. We just started going to Edmonds Community College. They have an amazing music program and access to studios so we’ve been working a lot there. Every day we’ve been trying to spill a little bit out.



“I Think I’m Mad”

0: Part of why I’m talking to you guys is because I’m interested in mental health and depression, especially teenage depression. I don’t know what it’s like to be a teenager now. Music can be such a personal thing so I was wondering about “I Think I’m Mad”– can you tell me a bit about that song?

SA: I started writing the song about drug addiction and a lot of self-analysis; it was more of a bond I shared with my cousin. We were talking about a lot of deep things but writing these really silly songs, covering it up with happy melodies but really kind of writing about more deep things that we couldn’t really completely comprehend.

O: That’s awesome. It’s awesome how music does that.

SS: Like Sam was saying, self-analysis has always been a big thing. I think with being a musician sometimes…if you’re like me, I like to practice a lot and you could go six hours and feel like you’ve gotten nothing done and you’re really hard on yourself.

It’s gotten to a point sometimes with me, where I won’t have any friends at the time, except for Sam, because I’ll shelter myself and then you realize everybody’s out and you’re like. Oh, alright I guess I’m here alone with a pad..messing around.

O: Right, and is that hard sometimes because you don’t have that social interaction with more people?

SS: Yeah, but I just put it back into music though. You go and listen to an album so it’s both a good and bad…


IMG_2772
Sam Ashkenazy

“I’m always gonna be making music. It’s kind of inevitable. It’s not a sacrifice for me because it’s something I’ll always do. Even if this [Foxy Apollo], specifically, doesn’t work out at some point, I’d still keep making stuff and sharing.”– Sam Ashkenazy, Lead Guitarist and Vocalist

IMG_2775
Satchel Schmidt

“[W]e both want to become professional musicians or people who work with audio. Even if it’s just becoming an audio engineer or something, doing that kind of business, but I think it’s just about the love of music. Both of us wouldn’t care living in a shithole for like..I don’t know, 40 years.”

– Satchel Schwarts, Drummer



Would You Ever Work a Desk Job?

SA: We’ve been studying a lot of stuff around the music itself, too. We’ve been studying sound engineering and visiting studios and hearing a lot of audio engineering stories. I still wanna tackle the music industry and see what else you can do around it.

Obviously, there’s a chance I might end up with another job around it but I think it’d be cool to learn about all the other stuff instead of just coming [at music] from one direction.

SS: Do you think you could ever see yourself in a desk job?

SA: Fuck no.

[Laughter ensues.]

SS: That’s a big “no.”

Facing Ageism in the Seattle Music Scene

O: There are a couple of things in your band description on FaceBook that I’m curious about, especially regarding the lack of respect you’ve experienced at live music venues in Seattle.
SA: We’ve been playing at some bars and people see these kids playing –and I’ve experienced this a lot cause I’ve been playing since I was really young– and they kind of just like…

O: …write you off?

SS: Exactly.

SA: Yeah. They’re kinda like, “Play your show and get the fuck outta here.” I mean, they don’t really treat you with the same respect [as adults.]

SS: We’ve played shows where I’ve literally had to set up my drum kit outside the venue and carry it in onto the stage and, right after, immediately leave.

SA: ..and get escorts to the bathroom. I mean, I get it. They’re cracking down…but it’s less about the concerns of underage drinking and more about how people view young musicians, their perspective of them.

SS: We’re like free entertainment to them and they can just treat us like crap.

O: That’s messed up. It sounds like you’ve found some places that are better about that?

Both: Oh yeah. Those are only a select few.

SA: It’s really opened our eyes and it made us realize that we really want to be doing this ourselves; not relying on others to promote us cause a lot of promoters aren’t doing their part…

O: That’s frustrating.

SS: It makes it fun though.

O: You also wrote that you have a “meticulous approach to playing” – What do you mean? Meticulous in what way?

SS: We both play in a very distinct style and they’re both very exact in their own ways, that together makes a whole new sound..it’s different.

SA: Also, aside from the style, we connect a lot to it. Each part of it is telling its own story in a way.

SS: It’s definitely a very thoughtful process…


And these are very thoughtful guys. I’m inspired by their conviction, dedication, commitment and passion to create and share their music. I have no doubt that they’ll do and become whatever it is they aspire to be, musically or otherwise.

Foxy Apollo recently released a few new tracks!

My favorite are Boat Plane/Dolphin. Listen to their new and old stuff on Soundcloud.

Follow Foxy Apollo @foxyapollo on Facebook and Twitter!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Note: Some portions of the interview were omitted to respect confidentiality and privacy. Additionally, some portions of the interview were slightly edited for clarity and brevity.