In the late 1970s, the advent of punk rock, new wave and hip-hop forever shifted the center of gravity in the music world from a corporate industry to do-it-yourself entrepreneurs. The New Music Seminar (NMS) was launched in 1980 to discuss and debate challenges in the music business and to be a catalyst for change. The initial conference drew more than 200 people to a New York City rehearsal studio. The annual conference grew rapidly, extending to multiple days and featuring workshops, aisles of vendors, and performances by emerging artists at dozens of venues. At its peak, NMS attracted more than 8,000 participants from 35 countries. By 1995, it was over, however, and it looked like the music industry might be over as well. The much smaller New Music Seminar returned in 2009. This year, NMS held three days of workshops at the New Yorker Hotel on June 8-10 and showcased breaking artists in only a handful of clubs. Here are some highlights from some of the live music stages.
Born Cages/Webster Hall’s Marlin Room/June 8, 2014
Born Cages hit the local New York club circuit as Electric Sun in October 2011, then as Born Cages a year later. At NMS, the quartet performed polished rock with a heavy dose of pop. Born Cages is comprised of Vlad Holiday on vocals and guitar, Amanda Carl on keyboards, Pete Malleo on bass, and Dave Tantao on drums. Born Cages released The Sidelines EP in June 2013 and will soon release its debut album.
Mayaeni/The Studio At Webster Hall/June 8, 2014
Mayaeni (Mah-yay-knee) is a singer-songwriter from Detroit, Michigan. The daughter of a West African mother and an American father, a professional guitarist, Mayaeni sings with soul and plays guitar like a rocker. Mayaeni recorded a debut indie album in 2007. Songs like “Addicted To Trouble” at her NMS showcase indicated that her second album will be a sure-fire radio hit.
Meg Myers/Webster Hall’s Marlin Room/June 8, 2014
Meg Myers was originally from Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, but now lives in Los Angeles. She says she used to be a Jehovah’s Witness, but now she celebrates her birthday and writes and plays rock. Her stage presence at NMS was powerful, as she sang fierce pop music with tons of raw angst and anger. Myers’ second EP, Make A Shadow, was released on Feb. 7, 2014.
Jomion & The Uklos/The Studio At Webster Hall/June 8, 2014
From Cotonou, Benin, in West Africa, Afro-jazz trumpeter and composer Sam Gnonlonfoun, also known as Jomion, and his brothers formed as a musical group (The Uklos) after singing and playing for years in church under the pastorship of their father. At NMS, the music was a blend of traditional spiritualist rhythms and contemporary hymns and harmonies. These qualities made for a distinctly Beninese groove that had the audience swinging its hips and shuffling its feet.
ASTR/Webster Hall’s Marlin Room/June 8, 2014
Singer Zoe Silverman and keyboardist Adam Pallin met in a Manhattan yoga class and became an electronic dance music duo, ASTR. At the NMS showcase, the combination of multi-layered electronic music and vocals was at times eerie and captivating.
The Chevin/The Cutting Room/June 9, 2014
Four childhood schoolmates formed the alternative rock band Your Vegas in 2007 and released one album in 2008. They renamed their band in 2010 to The Chevin after a ridge overlooking their small home town of Otley, West Yorkshire. The band is composed of Coyle Girelli on lead vocals and guitars, Mat Steel on guitars and keyboards, Jon Langford on bass and Mal Taylor on drums. At NMS, Girelli demonstrated an amazingly large vocal range and timber while the band supported him with epic-sounding rock.
Soundwitch/Drom/June 10, 2014
SoundWitch was formed as a gothic/industrial/metal band in 2005 in Osaka, Japan, and has released two albums. Performing to a small audience at NMS, the band looked like rock stars and played like EDM producers.
Honduras/ Cake Shop/June 10, 2014
Honduras formed in 2012 in Brooklyn, New York, and is comprised of Pat Phillips on vocals and guitar, Tyson Moore on guitar, Paul Lizarraga on bass and Josh Wehle on drums. At NMS, the quartet played energetic guitar-and-vocal-driven garage-pop music. Honduras released an EP, Morality Cuts, earlier this year.