Turning the Tables – Guest Post by Stephen Choi

This is a guest post by Stephen Choi, a singer-songwriter based in Melbourne, Australia. He creates music under his artistic moniker Duel Native, and is a founding member of London-based indie band Greyhound Green. He describes his sound as a blend of alt-rock, indie-folk and dream-pop, with some environmental science thrown in. Thus far, he’s released three singles and an EP, his latest of which is the lovely single “Hiding Out”, which dropped September 2nd.

He named his music project ‘Duel Native’ for two reasons: First, to reflect his international heritage and dual citizenship, as he’s half-Trinidadian and half-Hong Kongese, born in the UK, and currently based in Australia. Second, it recognizes his multiple passions in life, the two biggest of which are music and his environmentalism. Stephen is also a trained environmental architect who’s currently working on “green music” projects, like reducing waste at festival campsites, understanding the life-cycle impacts of releasing digital music, and exploring alternatives to PVC in records, i.e. non-vinyl vinyl! With that in mind, he’s written an article about the positives and negatives of using vinyl for records, and efforts being made to remedy the problem.

Turning the Tables

People love vinyl. And it seems, every year, they love it more. The vinyl resurgence began in the mid-2000s, and has since grown at an increasing rate. Last year, one out of every three albums sold in the US were vinyl LPs.

Why is this happening? I think it’s because there are things you can do with vinyl that you don’t do with digital music, like… wrap it up and give it to someone, or put the artwork on a wall, or read the liner notes, or – and this one is for real music-lovers – actually listen to an album from start to finish!

As a musician, I love vinyl too, but the problem with vinyl is… well, the vinyl. Or more specifically… the PVC. PVC has been described as “The Poison Plastic”, and “One of the most hazardous consumer products ever created.”

Polyvinyl chloride – or PVC – is a rather controversial synthetic material, typically made from ethylene (found in crude oil) and chlorine (found in salt). To cut short a science lesson, when processed, these two ingredients are combined to form PVC. Throw in some Polyvinyl Acetate to make a polymer, plus a few other additives, and we end up with a mix that is used to make vinyl records. It’s often referred to by the industry as “the most versatile plastic”, because they’re kind of “ideal” for records – you can achieve a smooth finish, it’s robust but not too brittle, and, it’s cheap to make.

The problem is that production of PVC results in toxic, chlorine-based chemicals and dioxins that are building up in our air, water, and food chain, and they spread across the globe quickly.

Scientific studies show these chemicals are linked to severe and wide-spread health problems, including infertility, impaired childhood development, immune system damage, hormone disruption, and even cancer. Musicians aren’t usually au fait with chemistry, but most I’ve listened to know that there’s something about the toxicity of vinyl that they don’t feel so comfortable being a catalyst for.

In recent years, we’re starting to see PVC being removed from all kinds of products from all kinds of companies, from toothbrushes to yoga mats, to kids’ toys. But it’s still the primary ingredient in vinyl records!

So… what to do about our love of vinyl? Do we stop buying it? Do we stop listening to music altogether due to the environmental impacts of doing anything at all?

I would say a resounding NO!

If you love vinyl, there are a lot of things we can do to reduce the impact, such as:

  • Go to a local indie record store and buy used vinyl.
  • If we’ve got records we don’t listen to, give them away or sell them!
  • Finally, let’s look after our records well, because one thing worse than vinyl is… damaged vinyl, because PVC is almost never recycled.

There’s another exciting development in this space… new materials to make vinyl. Later this year, the world’s first bioplastic LP will be released. The mix was formulated by Evolution Music after five years of research, and it contains sugars and starches – not PVC – and does not create any toxic waste in their production!

Being a first-of-its-kind, it won’t be perfect; further work is being done. Like any attempt to shift an industry, change can be scary. But, I believe this is the start of a healthy conversation, and one that will change the vinyl industry for good. So we can keep listening to music and keep supporting artists, and do so whilst caring for the health of our world.

Have a listen to his latest single “Hiding Out”:

Connect with Duel Native:  FacebookInstagram

Stream/purchase his music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloud / Bandcamp

Six Emerging Hip-Hop Artists To Watch This Year

This is a second guest post by Nicole McCray, a freelance writer based in San Francisco. Nicole writes articles on a wide range of topics, including health & wellness, lifestyle & beauty, music, movies, TV & filmmaking, and animals & pets. You can check out some of her work at https://www.nicolemccray.com/. Her previous post was “Five Up and Coming Artists To Expect Big Things From”, which you can read here. The idea for her second post came to her after attending an event at her son’s college, where he was performing as a rapper. She was impressed by many of the underground artists who gave exceptionally good performances, inspiring her to write about some promising new hip-hop artists.

I’ll admit that hip-hop is not one of my favorite music genres, however, as EclecticMusicLover I feel it’s worthwhile to expose myself to music I wouldn’t normally gravitate toward, as well as feature some of it on this blog from time to time. With that in mind, I’m pleased that Nicole chose to write this post. 

Six Emerging Hip-Hop Artists To Watch This Year

The hip-hop scene has definitely been further solidified in 2021, with chart dominance by standout artists like Rod Wave and Jack Harlow. Rookies have made their stamp on the hip-hop and R&B genres as well, with other artists proving that music still managed to make its way forward even in a problematic year. It’s difficult to predict which of these artists will emerge as big stars in the coming year, as we learned quickly from last year how things can change in a second.

The music industry certainly got hit hard during the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped artists from finding creative ways to make sure their music and influence are heard by the masses. Public recognition doesn’t always make or break a thriving artist’s journey. 

Suppose you are a musician or independent artist looking to develop new ways to monetize and keep incoming customers coming in. In that case, you should research some of the artists below and see what methods they are taking to broaden outreach. It can also help you organize and utilize a platform for managing your links to keep yourself on track. 

Here are some of the greats we’ve discovered and expect big things from in the upcoming year and how they make their mark in the music world.


Los Angeles-based hip-hop artist born Matthew Burdette, known professionally as Blxst (pronounced “Blast”), gained considerable success in 2020 with his debut EP No Love Lost. The EP tackles complex topics, including relationship woes that leave us wondering how close to home this plays out in his own love life. The journey unfolding within the album paints a clear picture of his life and covers the failure of a relationship. The song and video for “Overrated” shows him speaking to her, asking if she will “bleed the streets” with him to prove her loyalty. Later in the album, it depicts him trying to deal with the loss of his lover while they still are living together.

Blxst grew up listening to other hip-hop influencers like Pharrell Williams and Kanye West. His style is compared to other rappers such as Ty Dolla Sign and Nate Dogg. He received a lot of underground support and has become a fan favorite with soul, impacting his fans everywhere, and we are anticipating some full-length albums to emerge next.


Hailing from Chicago, Lil Eazzyy seemed to come from nowhere with an EP entitled Underrated, which, just like in the name, was entirely true for him getting some buzz on social media and then being picked up by underground fans. He ignites a bouncy, almost chattery rhyme style, which captivates his audience, and has us all excited for more.

His hit song “Onna Come Up” demonstrates his confidence and self-awareness. It went viral and has garnered over 69 million streams and counting on Spotify, while a remix of the song featuring G Herbo has been streamed nearly 30 million times. His next mixtape, Rookie Of The Year, injects even more style to his buzz, telling stories of overcoming the odds while growing up on the Southside of Chicago. It is clear that this artist has his sights set on being the next success story, stating, “I’m trying to be MVP.”


Rapper J.I. (born Justin Irvin Rivera in Brooklyn) declared himself the “Prince of N.Y.”, but now wishes to be more than that, not loving that television rapper name he was pinned with from the start. His music has been well-received in the hip-hop world, getting nods from stars like A Boogie, Drake, and Lil Tjay. His sing-like rap style gives him star status, and his hit song “Need Me” is an excellent demonstration of his potential in the Latin hip-hop scene. It has over 100 million streams on Spotify.

He already has stated that he hopes to break all preconceived assumptions about him as an artist and his music. He doesn’t like to be labeled, so he will continue to be whatever he wants to be. He has earned much of his success as an internet sensation, with huge followings on YouTube and Instagram. Because of his large fanbase, he included some of his fans in the video for “Why U Mad”, which is a great tribute to his impressive lyrics that showcase how well he stands with seasoned artists. We can surely expect this young artist to bring us more spirited drills in his new releases to come. 


Milwaukee-based WebsterX is a leader of the hip-hop renaissance, with his original music picked up and promoted by a licensing agency. He has tapped into the powerful practice of yelling together as a central part of his music, and he loves to work with other artists in collaboration to create something new. His performances often consist of multiple artists playing solo songs as a group. His lyrics have a way of plunging deep into the soul while also inviting you to sing along. He has no problems diving into deep-rooted emotions and putting them on display. 

His hit single “doomsday” and its accompanying video are what provided this artist with his breakthrough. The rapper developed a keen interest in poetry while he was in high school and said that an integration program opened up his world, helping him promote racial and cultural unification. Although he also says that each project he tackles takes on an experience that he has endured. His 2017 album Daymares addresses his feeling anxious and depressed when he dropped out of school and told his parents he would pursue being a musician, while his latest single “HUFFY”, released in April, touches on his experiences growing up and “riding his huffy through the hood”.


Erica Banks is a leader with her song “Buss It,” taking a sample from Nelly’s super-popular “Hot in Herre,” and blowing up on Tik Tok to become one of the first (and biggest) dance challenges in the new year. It also helped her song to land on the Billboard chart. 

She’s been compared to Megan Thee Stallion because of their shared Texas roots, which she has laughed it off on her Twitter account and stated that they have a similar accent because of where they are from. Erica has recently signed with Warner Bros entertainment, so we are excited to see if there might be another dance challenge on Tik Tok in the works. Maybe a collaboration with another Texas hip-hop artist like Tara, perhaps?


Putting out not just one but two albums last year – Platinum Heart and Poetic Pain, as well as recording a large number of collaborations with artists like DaBaby, Summer Walker, and Lil Durk – Toosii has encumbered an enormous buzz around what’s to come next for the Syracuse, New York-born rapper. He made a name for himself by releasing projects independently, and earning a lot of his fans through social media followings. 

The rapper dropped out of school at 17 years old to pursue his dreams, and his most recent album Thank You for Believing is his way of singing praises to his family, friends, and fans for supporting him and helping him to achieve success. He said he just wanted to demonstrate that the music isn’t always just about the artist – it’s about the people who help get you to that status. His song “shop”, a collaboration with multi-platinum rapper DaBaby, has him delivering multiple witty one-liners.

He is described as having the “sound of tomorrow,” which leads us to know that there will be more to come soon from him. The release of Poetic Pain in 2020 exceeded all expectations, so there is a lot of anticipation to see what he will do next to top it.

Many other ground-breaking artists will make their hip-hop sounds heard in the coming year. These are just some of the standout artists we’ve highlighted to look out for, since they’ve made such a massive impact on their fans and boomed into the hip-hop scene. 2020 was a rough year for artists, and with 2021 showing more promise, it will be great to get things back to the normal we’re used to, including live concerts with some of these fantastic and talented hip-hop artists.

Producer: Hugh Padgham in the 80s

I’m sharing this well-researched and beautifully-written article about acclaimed British record producer Hugh Padgham by Pierce Brown of The Press Music Reviews blog. It’s truly a master class in writing, so do yourselves a favor and give it a read! And while you’re there, follow his terrific blog too.


Five Up and Coming Artists To Expect Big Things From – Guest Post by Nicole McCray

This is a guest post by Nicole McCray, a freelance writer and self-described word ninja based in San Francisco. Nicole writes articles on a wide and eclectic range of topics, including health & wellness, lifestyle & beauty, music, movies, TV & filmmaking, and animals & pets. You can check out some of her work at https://www.nicolemccray.com/.

Five Up and Coming Artists To Expect Big Things From

Spring and summer seem to be the seasons for emerging musicians, and when live, in-person concerts become available to us again, we can bet that the concert venues will be packed to the doors for fans. The season typically brings us new artists we have never heard of, with headliners performing their trial runs for the well-knowns. 

If you’re the type of person who likes to find new music to listen to, something inspirational or comforting, having more time than ever to sift through all the music that’s out there – this past year would have provided a great deal of extra time to do just that. Musicians have had to struggle with finding interesting ways to still be heard, mostly releasing their music to the digital world in music streams and downloads.

Though it is still unclear when fans can be let back in the stadiums in masses, one thing is for sure: the music doesn’t stop. Artists from across the country have used this downtime to do what they do best, and they are ready to share their messages with the world. Here are some up and coming artists that we are sure to expect some great things from.

Victoria Monét

This name may not surprise those who love Ariana Grande, as Victoria Monét was a collaborator and featured nominee of the Grammy Awards for her work on Grande’s album Seven Rings. Her own R&B style has taken her to some big places as of late. She has been involved in singing and performing from a young age, performing at her church and with youth teams. She took to songwriting in her teens, starting with an exchange of poetry with her cousin, and soon found a passion to write her very own music. 

Monét was named Apple Music’s Up Next Artist in February 2020, having released her single “Experience” with DJ Khalid and SG Lewis, for an upcoming album called Jaguar. Jaguar is actually a three-part album series, and part one was released back in August. She has monopolized the Spotify fanbase, having over 3.6 million fans listening in each month, so the next two parts to her album series when released are sure to drive more success.

Monét at Spotify

Arlo Parks

With the real name of Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, it comes as no shock that the stage name of Arlo Parks is a name with a much easier roll off the tongue feel. The British singer-songwriter has taken the world by storm with her raw, confession-like style. 2020 was a big year in releasing multiple singles, including those of “Black Dog” and “Super Sad Generation,” and earning the BBC spot for Introducing Artist of the Year. She released her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams at the end of January, and all twelve tracks have each been streamed over one million times on Spotify.

With influences including Jim Morrison, Sylvia Plath, and Otis Redding, and only being 20 years young, this poet-turned-artist is sure to dominate the music scene for years to come. 

Arlo at Spotify

Siena Liggins

Known as “Detroit’s hidden gem”, Siena Liggins not only is making waves with music but also in the LGBTQ community. She is known for both her upbeat and somber music, having multiple moods for multiple projects. She’s developed a large following since the initial release of her single “Flowerbomb” which is a pop anthem for queer girls, exploring infatuation with a love interest you can’t get. Her single “Safeword” saw her take an edgier approach, speaking more frankly about sex. Her debut album Ms. Out Tonight, which dropped in April, has garnered critical and commercial acclaim for its authenticity and fresh hip-hop infused pop grooves.

Siena’s goal to reach people with her music is to make them feel happy. She wants people to enjoy, dance, and feel lighter. We will definitely be seeing (and needing) more of that happy, light feel after all that’s happened over the last year, and luckily she’s partnered with a licensing and custom music production services agency to help get her tracks in front of new audiences. We can definitely look forward to seeing Liggins charm her fans and light up the stage again soon.

Sienna Liggins at Spotify

Easy Life

If you’re looking for something in a more alternative genre, Easy Life is a great new group for you to follow. The Leicester, England-based band reached the number 7 spot on the UK Albums Chart with their EP Junk Food, these indie artists incorporate a funk-style motif within their music. The idea behind the band’s name is what they call “a form of escapism” in terms of getting away from all of the pressures of what life is to people. 

A very deep-rooted philosophy that is brought out in their musical makings, mixing vintage, rap, and even gospel into their rightly entitled Mixtape. Just recently the band released their new album Life’s a Beach that focuses on combining artists’ storytelling with hip hop inspired musical  force. Already rising in taste are his couple of new singles from the album such as “Ocean View”, “Daydreams”, and “A Message to Myself”. There will be much more to come from this group in the coming months and you definitely don’t want to miss out.

Easy life at Spotify

Molly Payton

Melancholy and heartbreak – that’s what teenage and London-based (but born in New Zealand) singer-songwriter Molly Payton brings to the table. Her music is full of rich, band sounds that make her awesome singles “How To Have Fun” and “Going Heavy” seem like more modern rock anthems. This up and comer actually said that she does her best writing while boozed up and angry. In fact, she said though she doesn’t really have a writing process, most of her best songs have been written in just twenty minutes! The powerful vocals she demonstrates are attributed to having had and worked with a great singing teacher, who she claims also helped her gain the confidence to perform since she was terrified on the stage. 

Payton’s goal with her music is to help people feel comforted by it, to find solace, and help with moving on from all the hard stuff. She’s actually said that she feels her song should go at the end of movies, when all is happy and the heroine is riding off into the sunset. When the live shows return and grow once again, there is no doubt that Payton’s rise will be ready for it. 

There are many moments (especially over the last year) where music has helped us get through. The majority of us have probably spent more time alone in 2020 than any other year, and many of these artists have already had a part in creating new moods and providing some great music for us to turn to in that time. They have all bloomed more in this last year despite the barriers they have faced, so we can be sure to expect and look forward to hearing more from them.

Molly Payton at Spotify

Guest Post – “Could This Be The Most Overlooked Rock Band Ever?” by The Alternative Mixtapes

This is a guest post by fellow blogger The Alternative Mixtapes, who has a terrific music blog https://thealternativemixtapes.com/. Based in the UK, he’s an excellent writer with great taste in music. Like me, he features a lot of talented indie and up-and-coming artists, so do check out his blog.

Could this be the most overlooked rock band ever?

Twenty years ago, finding new music was much harder than it is now. These days, between social media, great music blogs such as EclecticMusicLover, and AI-generated playlists based on your listening patterns, it is actually difficult to miss anything related to your favorite music genres. Back then, websites dedicated to alternative rock were scarce, streaming over dial up connections was a joke, and the closest thing to social media was, perhaps, MSN. MySpace wasn’t even a thing yet.

Believe it or not, Amazon was a pretty decent source of new music those years because it could recommend you albums bought by customers who had purchased something you liked. This was how I discovered Radford, who almost instantly became one of my favorite bands. I remember the first song I heard from them was “Closer To Myself”, and I immediately got hooked on Jonny Radford Mead’s voice and the song’s innovative –at the time– bridge. And yes, the band was named after the middle name of its frontman.

The band was formed around 1998 in Los Angeles after Jonny emigrated there from Oxford, UK, and met guitarist Chris Hower, bassist Bobby Stefano, and eventually drummer Kane McGee. After signing with RCA records, they released their self-titled debut album in the year 2000, which in addition to “Closer To Myself”, featured other great tunes such as “Don’t Stop”, “Fly”, “How Does It Feel?” and “Fall At Your Feet”. The album had moderate success with some of the songs being featured in movie soundtracks (“Closer To Myself” was featured in Clubland and Never Been Kissed, and “Fall At Your Feet” in Teaching Mrs. Tingle). “Don’t Stop” even peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart.

Unfortunately, RCA went through some restructuring and Radford got dropped from the label, causing them to go on hiatus. Luckily for us, in 2004 the band returned with a sophomore album Sleepwalker, released by Universal Records. It was even better than the previous album, but due to a lack of promotion by the label, it sold poorly. The highlight of the album to me was “Fake a Smile”, a beautiful song with really outstanding lyrics, but the album had other gems such as “Dead Heart”, “Out of the Dark” and “Anything”.

After another hiatus, the band returned in 2006 with a digital-only 5-track EP called “Black Out Of The Sun”. The only defect this EP had was that it was like 10 songs too short. The first track “Stay With Me” is in the running for Radford’s best song, but other great tracks on this EP are “Open Your Eyes” and “Now It’s Over”. Unfortunately, these were the last songs Radford ever released, at least so far.

Jonny Mead Radford has a music studio in L.A. today and he is a member of two bands today: The Blind Love and Princess Princess, but he’s taken the backseat in both of them, so it doesn’t scratch the itch of wanting new Radford music. To make things worse, Radford’s discography is not available in any of the major streaming platforms, so unless you own the albums, it’s not easy to listen to them today.

I run a music blog in which I recommend songs and add them to my “mixtapes” (playlists) in one of those streaming platforms. I’ve been dying to include Radford in any of them but I’m unable to do so because their songs are not available (although their album Sleepwalker seems to be available only in the U.S. on Spotify and Apple Music). Fortunately, Jeff gave me the opportunity to talk about Radford here on this great website and I’m thankful for that.

Without a doubt, Radford was and still is one of the greatest overlooked bands. I wish they had been more successful at the time, maybe they would have released more albums had that been the case. In any case, I hope you enjoy their music as much as I do. 


Check out this great article and interview of L.A.-based progressive metal/rock band Sifting by Michelle of The Symphony of Rock music blog.




Sifting is cocked and loaded to release its next opus, The Infinite Loop, and it is a guaranteed metal and rock barrage of all the eclectic and best musical elements the band has put forth.

Now based in the Los Angeles area, Sifting was originally
formed in Caracas, Venezuela in 2010 by vocalist/guitarist Eduardo Osuna Gil. According
to the band’s biography, Osuna Gil began writing original material as a coping
mechanism when his mother and grandmother were tragically killed in a plane
crash. Osuna Gil eventually gathered local friends to form a band and began
performing live. Gaining popularity, Sifting opened for Bullet For My Valentine
for the band’s Latin American Tour in 2011 and released its debut album, All the Hated in late 2013.

After moving to the United States in 2014, Sifting released a three-song EP, Blurry Paintings. Another album, Not From…

View original post 1,374 more words

Guest Post: ‘The Ghost of Graffiti Past and The Allure of the 91st Street Subway Station’ by Peter Kleinhans

Peter Kleinhans

This is a guest post by Peter Kleinhans, a musician based in New York City who this past February released his debut album Something’s Not Right. After spending 30 years as a professional harness horse racer and announcer, at the age of 50 he decided to turn his love of music into writing and recording songs. He explains a few thoughts about his new-found music career:

“I wish I’d begun writing music at an earlier age, because as a father of two who also drives harness racehorses, bets thoroughbred horses professionally, raises organic beef, chicken, and lamb, and is engaged to be married for the third time, I find that the music often gets squeezed to the sidelines. But I’m happy with what I have had the time to create, and I hope that listeners will find something to enjoy here.

Although I’ve only started with music over the past couple of years, I credit the years of racing horses, often in the Midwest, hanging out with the Runyonesque characters of that business, and sharing their daily travails, for much of what I’ve written. I was born and raised in New York City, left it for twenty years, and am now back. It’s an amazing city, full of amazing people, but New Yorkers are just as often oblivious to the daily existential struggles of a family in Indiana as the other way around. The horses aren’t my full-time business anymore, but I still drive occasionally.”

In his thoughtfully-written article, Peter discusses his inspiration behind a new song he’s recorded called “91st Street,” in which he describes the storied past of the former 91st Street subway station.

The Ghost of Graffiti Past and The Allure of the 91st Street Subway Station

At the time of writing, I have a gig in six weeks, and three unfinished songs to get done for it.  If you’ve ever been in a similar situation, you might be familiar with the fact that it’s easier to write about what you’re working on instead of working on it.  It’s a variation on that disastrous first-line-of-a-poem that goes something like “I sit here, waiting for ideas to enter my failed brain.” But the song I’m currently writing, about the abandoned subway station on 91st street and Broadway, begs for context.  It’s written for those people who know about the history of New York’s subway system and graffiti’s place in it. But I realize that those people are becoming further and further between, so for those who don’t know much about that history, here’s some context, here’s something of what I’m trying to get at.

Kleinhans 91st St Platform
The view of the 91st street platform recalls a different New York.

If you ride the 1 train in New York regularly, there’s a good chance you’ve been riding past an iconic piece of the city’s ever-changing history without ever noticing it.  Between the 86th and 96th street station is what some New Yorkers call the “Ghost Station.”  When the subway was built in 1904, trains were shorter, and stations were built at 86th, 91st, and 96th.  With longer cars entering the scene in the 1950s and no real justification for three stops within such a close proximity, the IRT company, who then ran the 1 train, made the decision to close the station in 1954. The station has remained dormant since.  However, its relatively easy access combined with a healthy dose of  spookiness, intrigue, and mystery, have made it a magnet for subway connoisseurs, especially those with a hankering to remember what New York looked like just a few short decades ago.

In 2002, Henry Chalfant, along with co-conspirators Tony Silver and Martha Cooper, released the twentieth-anniversary edition of Style Wars, regarded by many as the iconic documentary piece on the emergence of hip-hop, most specifically the then-emergent phenomenon of subway graffiti.  The anniversary edition contained a treasure trove of new material, most excitingly a seemingly never-ending montage of Chalfant’s photographs of the city’s most creatively-bombed subway cars.

But 16 years have passed, even since the twentieth anniversary of Style Wars. Nevertheless, a fascination continues with the work and culture from the 70s and 80s, and one of the few places to actually feel a bit of that old texture is the 91st street station. I haven’t had the guts to jump down onto the tracks from 86th street and run along them for five blocks to visit the station, at least not yet. I don’t have a bucket list, but that would be on it.  Although it doesn’t take much to find graffiti, it’s increasingly hard to remember that graffiti and subways used to be inseparable as medium and message.

But the trains are now gone as the artists’ primary canvases, ever since the MTA claimed victory over subway graffiti in 1989. The subways, once seen by some as “masterpiece art galleries” and which tourists had once come New York to witness, were now clean and cool – a huge quality-of-life improvement from the point-of-view of most New Yorkers. For some, nostalgia lingers.  I grew up riding the subway in New York and I miss the graffiti deeply.  The subways may have had a bad last couple of years as far as ‘signal problems,’ but anyone who remembers the subways in the 70s would be quick to point out that they encompassed an entirely other level of dysfunction.  Graffiti grew out of these difficult and dangerous times in a city on fire, and to completely glamorize it as an art, while glossing over its flipside of danger and violence is to sanitize it in a way completely counter to its original intentions.

As a New York Times review of the 20th anniversary edition of “Style Wars” put it back in 2003, Absent the urine-soaked subway platforms and pervasive sense of danger that accompanied the rise of graffiti art in New York in the 70’s and 80’s, viewers can happily sit back in their parlors and decipher the green and brown polka-dotted caterpillar scheme that unites ‘’Seen’ and ‘Doze,’’ or Quik’s inventive letter-ending arrows pointing sideways, outward and upward to a seemingly endless universe of graffiti.

Klenihans Pic 2
Dondi’s legendary “Children of the Grave”, 1980; it ran two days before being painted over.

Kleinhans pic 3
The “white elephant” car used as one of the first in a series of graffiti-control measures that started in New York City under Mayor Ed Koch, circa 1981.

The subway train cars were quite literally whitewashed in the 1980s, marking the beginning of the end of subway graffiti. The closure of 5 Pointz in Queens in 2013 – a graffiti landmark substantial enough to  draw crowds – marked another dramatic victory of the corporate over the merely creative. 5 Pointz is now being developed into a 40-story luxury residential building in Long Island City.

5 Pointz was painted over — with no advance notice to the artists whose work had been displayed there for years — over the course of one night.

Kleinhans pic 4
5 Pointz, in its glory, April, 2013

Kleinhans pic 5
5 Pointz, whitewashed, November, 2013

My inspiration for writing the song “91st Street” was to honor this fading culture.  Although graffiti is everywhere now, the culture has been commodified, made clever, palatable, and digestible like everything else.  You can create a masterpiece on your computer using only your brains and your fingers; once you had to straddle a parked train and decorate it from top to bottom, with paint you had stolen, in the middle of the night, the police or a rival gang around a curve and ready to pounce.  And you knew that even if you succeeded, your work had no permanence — it would be painted over within days.

What makes the 91st street station important is that it’s one of those weird lost-in-time places that, from simple benign neglect, has become a repository for a fertile period in the history of New York art.  Taggers continue to make the short pilgrimage to view and perhaps to tag one spot in the one place in the New York subway system that is more like a shrine to the past here than just about anything else.  After all, cleaning it up wouldn’t make anybody any money, and therein lies its durability. Like a root cellar where one can imagine all manner of unnameable fungi finding a foothold, it maintains its spirit of dankness and chaos in a world that would love to be done with such inconveniences. It holds a special place in my heart and some day I hope to stand on its platform like the anachronism I suppose I am.

“91st Street” has a progressive/jazzy vibe, with a simple but cool drumbeat, funky bass line and fuzzy guitar riff. Toward the end of the track, Peter injects a quirky psychedelic synth that makes for a great finish. You can listen to “91st Street” by clicking the link below:


To learn more about Peter, check out his website and connect with him on Facebook /  Twitter  / Instagram
Stream his music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes

One More Light: Living Without Chester Bennington

One of the most eloquent and heartfelt posts I’ve read about Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, from the blog Saint Audio.

Saint Audio

Content Warning: sexual assault, suicide, death

One week has passed since news of Chester Bennington‘s untimely death sent shockwaves through the internet, devastating fans all over the world. I’d say that what’s stunned us most is the manner in which he left this world—all too familiar, but never expected, and always jarring.  As Linkin Park‘s frontman since 1996, Chester’s voice became a voice for many who may not have been able to express or convey their own inner turmoil through words, or who felt too ashamed to do so.

I first learned of Chester’s suicide via Twitter, and instantly panicked. I cried for a good hour, then on-and-off throughout the rest of the day. And a few times more this week. I initially didn’t realize how many people felt the same way I did—I almost felt embarrassed over how upset I was, how hard it was hitting…

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