Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Pit Podcast: Episode V

Interviews I did with an American Idol contestant Malaya Watson and  Pixies drummer David Lovering appeared on the fifth episode of The Pit Podcast.

Episode V of The Pit: Podcast features The Pit’s Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Sokol interviews American Idol’s Detroit contestant Malaya Watson as well as David Lovering from The Pixies. The Pit Crew returns as well for another roundtable segment to discuss the Super Bowl as well as the proposed changes to the NFL’s extra point system.

The butterfly

A little afternoon story.

Life's a cup of tea

Down-time and sick time lately following graduation has left me thinking a lot about things– about the past, and about how quickly time has flown by. A recent memory that I can’t seem to clear from my mind involves myself, a zoo parking lot and a butterfly.

butterflywithbrokenwingsIt was a long time ago; I was probably 6 or 7 years old, and leaving the zoo during a vacation. It was a sweltering hot afternoon; I remember there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. All I wanted to do was go to the car and have a cold drink. Was thinking about the rest of the day and what would happen next. The day had been fun. I loved going to the zoo. I loved looking at all of the animals (even though now I realize how cruel it really is for them to be kept in cages). Animals were, and…

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Pixies kick off North American tour after release of 2 EPs

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

The Pixies surprised fans with the release of EPs 1 and 2 in September and January, the first new music from the band after a 20-year recording hiatus.

FROM LEFT: Joey Santiago, Black Francis, David Lovering. Photo/PIXIES

FROM LEFT: Joey Santiago, Black Francis, David Lovering. Photo/PIXIES

“As a magician, I won’t reveal any secrets, but as EP 1 suggested, there might be an EP 2, and EP 2 suggests a possible EP 3. So I’ll just leave it there,” Drummer David Lovering said.

Formed in 1986 in Boston, Mass., Lovering, vocalist Black (Charles) Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago and bassist Kim Deal were the original members of the indie and alternative-rock group.

After years apart, the Pixies began a reunion tour in 2004. What was intended to be one year turned into seven, and eventually the demand from fans led to yet another tour, which went until 2012.

During those years on the road, the Pixies discussed making more music.

“Our management decided, ‘why don’t we just go with an EP rather than just have one big album?’ Our EPs were big surprises as well, and as a magician, I like surprises,” Lovering said. “So I think we discovered a fun way where we were able to do it all ourselves.”

Pixies chose the EP route because they had many songs written and were not on a label, in addition to the reduction of demand for physical album copies. Lovering said the group has been going more digital, and likes hearing from fans via their website.

When it came time to record in June 2013, there was a bump in the road as Deal left the band.  Pixies didn’t let that stand in their way though.

“I think (Kim leaving) had impact as where the three guys, Charles, Joe and I worked a lot harder,” Lovering said.

“We bonded a little more, and Joe and I decided to pick up more vocals,

David Lovering, drummer for the Pixies. Photo/PIXIES

David Lovering, drummer for the Pixies. Photo/PIXIES

because we were lacking Kim. Since we were lacking her vocals, we did double duty on that, just to fulfill the Pixie theme. That was about the only change that I see—a lot more work, and more vocals.”

Writing songs for the album was a Pixies collaboration. Francis did most of the writing, throwing ideas off of other members. The manager told them to produce what they would want their music to sound like, and having not recorded in a long time, they just went with what felt right, according to Lovering.

The group is now on their North American tour, performing works off their older and current albums, with new bassist, Paz Lenchantin. Lovering said they got back into the swing of performing, and after about five shows, are having fun with it.

As far as the new material goes, Lovering said it’s very different, but so were all of the Pixies’ other albums.At shows, he enjoys playing old stuff, including music from Santa Rosa and other earlier albums, as much as songs off the new EPs. Among his favorites are “Indie Cindy,” “Magdelina,” “Vamos” and “The Navajo Know.”

“Indie Cindy is very fun to play because it’s very complicated, and I like complicated, hard things,” Lovering said. “Magdelina’s a nice, groovy new one to play. As far as old material, Vamos is fun, The Navajo Know is fun, I think most of the songs that are really rock are the ones I enjoy playing most.”

Pixies will perform at the Fillmore in Detroit Feb. 8. For Lovering, a favorite part of touring is the food, so he looks forward to stopping at Greektown for a taste of Detroit.

“I think with our new bassist, the rhythm section is kick-ass,” Lovering said. “But Paz is so good, she’s making me play better. Because of that, the rhythm section is very powerful, and we’re sounding better than ever. The vocals are good as well. I think we’re sounding the best that we’ve sounded.”

Best and worst: Grammys Fashion 2014

Life's a cup of tea

Last night, stars filled the red carpet for the 2014 Grammy Awards. Some wore looks that left us singing them fashion praises, while others hit a bad note. The bold, the  fun and the scary: these are the best and worst looks of the Grammys.

The Best

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1. While I’m not her biggest fan, my best dressed award goes to Taylor Swift. I love the Gucci dress– it’s chic, classy and old Hollywood glam. It fits her perfectly– the belt accentuates her waist, and I love the modest sexiness of the lacy top. The almost white-gold shade is a tasteful– not tacky — color choice, that works well on T. Swift’s pale complexion. The simple, wavy pony keeps things simple, to reveal a pretty pair of earrings, and her boldly simple outfit follows suit, leaving the singer-songwriter looking gorgeous and tasteful on the red carpet.

Colbie Callait in Ezra Couture, Claude Morady Estate Jewelry, ITA Collection and Jimmy Choo

2. Colbie Callait was red…

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Flower power

Life's a cup of tea

Just because it’s snowing and chilly out, doesn’t mean your outfit has to reflect the weather. Channel spring by bringing blooms to your apparel. Floral print clothing is everywhere, and the gorgeous trend adds a feminine touch to any moment. Stores like Forever 21, Love Culture and H&M are stocking up on this earthy fashion trend.

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Black and white floral is a great choice, because it is very classic and versatile. The neutral colors in this top from Forever 21 work great under a vibrantly colored cardigan and worn with a pair of leggings.

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White tops with a colorful floral print are great. Pale materials make vibrant flowers really stand out, creating a bold and springy look to liven up a dreary winter day. Wear a top like this with a cardigan and pair of skinny jeans for a cutely casual ensemble.

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A dress with a large floral print is…

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SOUTHFIELD RESIDENT ADVANCES TO SECOND ROUND OF AMERICAN IDOL

Southfield resident Malaya Watson sang “Ain’t No Way” for her American Idol Season 13 audition. Watson will advance to the next round. Photo/FOX

Southfield resident Malaya Watson sang “Ain’t No Way” for her American Idol Season 13 audition. Watson will advance to the next round. Photo/FOX

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

It may have been her first time competing, but Michigan musician Malaya Watson, who will advance to the next round of American Idol Season XIII after her performance of “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin on Wednesday night’s episode, said her audition went well.

“At the time it was nerve-wrecking, but it was pretty cool,” Watson said. “I’m very happy with how it went.”

A resident of Southfield, Watson, 16, started singing at age three. In middle school she got more serious with music, and in high school, she realized it was her passion.

“Music really helped me through hard times,” Watson said. “It gives me hope and gets me going—music just helps me through life.”

Watson plays piano, tuba, sousaphone, drums and guitar, and sang in her school’s opera choir, in addition to performing as a vocalist with the Mosaic Youth Theater in Detroit.

To get her solo singing some exposure, Watson began uploading her own songs and covers to her Youtubechannel. Using social media to share her music gained her worldwide exposure, she said.

While she sings a variety of music genres, including pop and classical songs, many works she covered are by one of her favorite artists, Aretha Franklin. Growing up near Detroit and spending time downtown in Hart Plaza, Watson has a love for many music styles made famous in the city, including Motown.

“The music I make—the soul, Motown, funk and stuff—that’s the music I like, and (living near Detroit) really impacted my music style and my musicality,” Watson said.

Songwriting is a process for Watson, who writes songs about whatever is on her mind. She draws inspiration from her own life when making music.

“Usually when I write my own songs, its more of an experience,” Watson said. “You know how some people just write songs to write a song? I usually write songs about of how I feel, or what happened.”

American Idol is a chance to for Watson to give people enjoyment through her singing. Music inspires her, and she said she wants her audience to feel the same way.

Through Idol, Watson said her goal is to use music to succeed, so she can give back to others.

“When I was younger, people would tell me, ‘well you can’t do that.’ Basically, I just want to show people that you can do whatever you want if you set your mind to it,” Watson said.

Maharaja-Samurai Chai Tea Blend: comfortingly tasty

Life's a cup of tea

There’s nothing like a nice cup of chai tea on a chilly day. I’ve tried a variety of chai, from David’s Organic Saigon Chai, to Bigelow’s Vanilla Chai Black Tea. While those are good, my best chai award has to go to Teavana’s Maharaja Samurai Chai Tea blend.

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Something to remember about loose teas is that storing them in tins, rather than the bags they come in at the store, really preserves their flavor and makes them last longer. Teavana has gotten some really cute tins in recently, with better working lids, and pretty designs to make tea storage fun. I keep my chai tea in this fabulous metallic-detailed bird tin.

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To start, begin boiling your water. As with other teas, it’s better to not pour extremely hot water onto the tea, so I usually let it cool for about four minutes after it comes to a…

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