Black Dynamite – Season 2 Premieres tonight @ 10:30p ET/PT ….and I made music for it.

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Back in November 2011, while on the road with The Foreign Exchange, we were in Nashville and I was sitting in one of the vans waiting to drive some of the crew to the venue for our show at BB King’s that night. I received a call from a friend of mine who I consider family, Fatin Horton. He reached out to me to see if I had the time and would be interested in playing/recording music for the new, upcoming season of Black Dynamite – The Animated Series……. As a huge fan of the movie already (and later the first season of the animated series), I probably looked at my phone with an expression similar to Russell Westbrook

HELL YEAH I was interested!!

Now of course, this wouldn’t be music that you would find on any of my releases… For example, you’re not gonna hear “Count To Five” during a fight scene between Black Dynamite and some sinister villain where they try to kill each other. We were set to work on all new compositions that fit the show’s theme – 70’s Black films. Once again, as a fan of all of those movies whether they were good, terrible, or good and terrible, the idea of making that type of music while putting my own spin on it only sweetened the deal. I knew that creating the music would be challenging… not because I would be playing all of the instruments on it, but because once we started working on pieces that were to be scene-specific to the episodes I knew I was gonna be kept on my toes… and I WAS. I have always been the first one to admit that guitar is my weakest instrument, but after working on this batch of music, I have become a lot more confident in my guitar playing as the majority of the work required heavy amounts of the instrument – Chords, lines, rhythm, wah-wah, etc. Come to think of it, working on Black Dynamite music is quietly what inspired me to do “Show Me The Way” from the ManMade album.

When Fatin and I first got together in the studio back in June of 2012, we set up what was to become a series of “studio marathons.” The plan = Basically, he would come up to the studio to create for three days straight. Typically from about 10a – 6p and again from 9p until. The first time around we knocked out about 7 “cues” or 30-90 second pieces to be used within an episode as background music to set or emphasize a mood or current theme. The second time we got up we finished 13 cues, almost double the total from the first studio session. To me, that was a clear cut sign that a working groove had been established. The first couple of sessions were dope because I was told to work strictly off of inspiration. Fatin would set up shop in the studio, pull out old records, chop um up and say something like, “I need it to match this mood of this record…,” “Make the organ a little darker…” or, “Add a higher octave string line to this part…” It was crazy to be creating “70’s Black film” pieces in 2012/2013, but I felt honored because hell, in a lot of those movies the MUSIC was the highlight and played just as large of a role as the film’s leading actor. So the pride I took in the work was through the roof.

Now, the reality of it all didn’t really hit me until I started hearing drafts of some of the show’s cast singing over my music. To hear Tommy Davidson and Kym Whitley do their thing on some stuff I had just sent in was kinda bugged out and a nice “WELP, this is real” moment for me, to say the least. Then, once we got really heavy into episode and scene-specific music, that’s when my brother Phonte came in crushing the vocal work. Guitarist/engineer and The Hot @ Nights member, Chris Boerner would receive the final products for mixing and mastering purposes…. 150+ cues and eight episodes later, we have our contribution to Black Dynamite, Season 2. And I know that I have been telling a few of you about this for over two years now… Well, today is the day!!! You can catch the show tonight at 10:30p ET/PT. I’ll actually be live tweeting and pointing out my contributions because… 1. I’m hyped as shit about it, 2. This is a first for me, and 3. See #1.

Tonight…
Black Dynamite – Season Two
premieres on Adult Swim @ 10:30p ET/PT

ManMade Tour Returns to DC/MD/VA!!

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ManMade Tour Returns to DC/MD/VA

Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers
with
Anthony David

Friday, January 16, 2015 – Alexandria, VA
(ManMade Tour)

The Carlyle Club
411 John Carlyle St, Alexandria, VA 22314 | (703) 548-5953
BUY TICKETS (7:30p Show)
BUY TICKETS (10:30p Show)

Zo! featuring Carmen Rodgers – Performing at 2nd Annual Pink Alive Concert for Breast Cancer Awareness in New York City, NY – October 28, 2014

Pink Alive

2nd Annual Pink Alive Concert for Breast Cancer Awareness

Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 – New York City, NY
(ManMade Tour)

Joe’s Pub
425 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003 | (212) 539-8778
Doors: 9p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Solo ‘ManMade’ Tour Dates + ‘Love In Flying Colors’ Tour Dates with The Foreign Exchange

Tour dates ….SO FAR.
More are always being added.

Solo ManMade Tour Dates

ManMade

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 – New York City, NY
Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers
(Performance at the 2nd Annual Pink Alive Concert for Breast Cancer Awareness)
Joe’s Pub
425 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003 | (212) 539-8778
Doors: 9p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Friday, January 16, 2014 – Alexandria, VA
Anthony David
with
Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers
(ManMade Tour)
The Carlyle Club
411 John Carlyle St, Alexandria, VA 22314 | (703) 548-5953
BUY TICKETS (7:30p Show)
BUY TICKETS (10:30p Show)

_____________________________________________________

With The Foreign Exchange
Love In Flying Colors Tour Dates

FE LIFC

Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Santiago, Chile
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Club Subterreaneo
Orrego Luco 46, Providencia 7510150 Santiago, Chile | +56 2 2335 0951
Doors: 8:30p
BUY TICKETS

Past ManMade Tour Dates:
May 21, 2013 – Brooklyn, NY (Listening Event) • May 24, 2013 – Baltimore, MD (Listening Event) • May 29, 2013 – Washington D.C. • June 1, 2013 – Chicago, IL • June 7, 2013 – Richmond, VA (Listening Event) • June 8, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA • June 9, 2013 – New York City, NY • June 15, 2013 – Pittsburgh, PA • June 21, 2013 – Los Angeles, CA • June 22, 2013 – Tucson, AZ • June 29, 2013 – Detroit, MI • July 19, 2013 – Las Vegas, NV • July 21, 2013 – Seattle, WA • July 23, 2013 – Austin, TX (Listening Event) • July 25, 2013 – Durham, NC • August 3, 2013 – Richmond, VA • August 10, 2013 – Atlanta, GA • August 14, 2013 – Charlotte, NC • September 17, 2013 - San Diego , CA • September 27, 2013 – Houston, TX • September 28, 2013 – Dallas, TX • October 3, 2013 – St. Louis, MO • October 5, 2013 – Indianapolis, IN • November 2-10, 2013 – Capital Jazz Super Cruise • December 6, 2013 – Cleveland, OH • March 2, 2014 – Los Angeles, CA • March 12, 2014 – Minneapolis, MN • April 13, 2014 – Detroit, MI • July 26, 2014 – Memphis, TN • August 20, 2014 - Dallas, TX (Meet & Greet Event) • August 23, 2014 – Richmond, VA • September 6, 2014 - Atlanta, GA (Studio Campfire Stories: LIVE)

The Foreign Exchange Past (Love In Flying Colors Tour) Dates:
October 24, 2013 – Raleigh, NC • October 25, 2013 – Columbia, SC • October 26, 2013 – Atlanta, GA • April 11, 2014 – Pittsburgh, PA • April 25, 2014 - Durham, NC • May 1, 2014 - Richmond, VA • May 2, 2014 - Washington D.C. • May 4, 2014 - Philadelphia, PA • May 5, 2014 - Brooklyn, NY • May 6, 2014 - Boston, MA • May 8, 2014 - Cleveland, OH • May 9, 2014 - Detroit, MI • May 10, 2014 - Chicago, IL • May 12, 2014 - Columbus, • May 30, 2014 - Johannesburg, SA • May 31, 2014 – Cape Town, SA • June 12, 2014 - Charlotte, NC • June 13, 2014 - Atlanta, GA • June 14, 2014 - Birmingham, AL • June 16, 2014 - Nashville, TN • June 17, 2014 - Louisville, KY • June 18, 2014 - Memphis, TN • June 20, 2014 - St. Louis, MO • June 21, 2014 - Kansas City, MO • June 23, 2014 - Denver, CO • June 25, 2014 - Austin, TX • June 26, 2014 - Dallas, TX • June 27, 2014 - Houston, TX • June 29, 2014 - New Orleans, LA • July 8, 2014 - San Diego, CA • July 9, 2014 - Santa Ana, CA • July 11, 2014 – Los Angeles, CA • July 12, 2014 – Phoenix, AZ • July 14, 2014 – Las Vegas, NV • July 15, 2014- Fresno, CA • July 17, 2014 – Sacramento, CA • July 18, 2014 – San Francisco, CA • July 19, 2014 - Oakland, CA • July 21, 2014 - Portland, OR • July 22, 2014 – Seattle, WA • September 24, 2014 – London, UK • September 25, 2014 - Birmingham, UK • September 26, 2014 - London, UK • September 28, 2014 - Rotterdam, NL • September 30, 2014 - Paris, FR • October 1, 2014 - Cologne, DE • October 4, 2014 - Amsterdam, NL

Zo! featuring Carmen Rodgers “Studio Campfire Stories: LIVE – ManMade Edition | Live Recording” in Atlanta, GA – September 6, 2014

ZoCarmen ATL

Studio Campfire Stories: LIVE – ManMade Edition | Live Recording

Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers

Saturday, September 6, 2014 – Atlanta, GA
(ManMade Tour)

800 East Studios
800 East Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30312 | (404) 688-9388
Doors: 8p
BUY TICKETS

Songs from Zo!’s ManMade and SunStorm albums come alive in this very intimate acoustic set at 800 East Studios where the stories behind the music will also be shared. A very special show and a first for me.

***Get your tickets EARLY. Limited seating available***

Studio Campfire Stories: The Foreign Exchange “Listen To The Rain”

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Last year, I wrapped up everything ManMade around February/March 2013. During that same time, The Foreign Exchange was working on the music for Love In Flying Colors and I hadn’t yet gotten an expected call to work on anything for their album yet. Why is this important? Here’s a small bit of +FE trivia that most don’t know… I have the only outside production credits on the last three +FE albums – Leave It All Behind (“If She Breaks Your Heart”), Authenticity (“Fight For Love”), and Love in Flyi…Well… Just keep reading. Sometime in April or May, Phonte gave me a call telling me that he had a song idea for the new +FE album… I remember telling him, “I’ve been waiting on this call – I’m down.” Since I was scheduled to be in Raleigh, NC at the end of May for a video shoot, we figured that would be the best time to sit down, put our ideas together and see what we could come up with.

On May 25, 2013, I made my way down I-95S to shoot the first video from ManMade, which had just been released four days prior. We were to gather the crew in Downtown Raleigh and shoot a playful spin on an old school Sesame Street performance for the song “Count To Five” with director and frequent +FE Music collaborator, Kenneth Price. Come to think of it, this was the first time that Gwen Bunn and I actually met in person… at the damn video shoot for the song we had already worked together on! It’s kinda crazy how routinely that happens now…. Anyway, we shot the video in a few hours and afterward everyone got together to grab some food from a burger spot not too far from our filming location. Some folks went home, the rest of us headed over to Phonte’s spot where the movie ‘Campaign’ was running and jokes were on ten. Once everybody cleared out, Phonte and I hit the studio at about 2:30 in the morning and he told me that he had a melody in his head already with a few words here and there and needed the music to follow. This was no thing… We had utilized the same “sit down at the piano” formula when we worked on the title track from ManMade almost a year prior, “Fight For Love”, and “If I Could Tell You Know” from the SunStorm album. Like “ManMade”, it was the hook that we started with. When I go back and listen to the demo recordings we did of the song on my phone, chronologically we did the hook first (looped it twice), then there’s a recording of the verse, which we also looped twice. I distinctively remember wanting to accentuate that ‘break’ toward the beginning of the verse where he sings, “All alone (*break*) agaaaaaain….” …just to add a bit of personality to the music. The usage of breaks and “white space” is something that you don’t hear too often in many slower tempo songs and the more we worked through the verse, the more distinctive I made the break. The same with the chord climb up during the hook when he sings, “…….down out-siiiiiide…” by playing a different chord for each syllable, adding more of accents in the music. The last thing we worked on was the song’s ending. We wanted to close this one a with descending chord progression, which would set it apart from our previous “written at the piano” joints. The final demo recording starts off with my countdown into Phonte snapping his fingers for tempo while humming the melody of the hook then going right into the ending… And to be honest, I have listened to these demos about 5 times a piece while writing this story. To hear this song again with only piano and a reference melody is really kinda crazy.

By the time I returned home to Maryland the following evening, Phonte had completely finished writing to the song and sent me a text saying, “The title of that jam we did is called, “Listen To The Rain.” Lemme know when you lay THAT…” …No thing at all. The next day, I sat in the studio and recorded a main piano part, layered with a rhodes, and also played the bass live on it …all to a finger snap (that same finger snap can be heard throughout the majority of the first two minutes of the song). I sent the music on through to Phonte along with the, “Check that Gmail” text…… He then hit me the next day with the SAME text. When I checked, he had laid his vocals down and Chris Boerner had recorded a third chord layering by recording his acoustic guitar, which added some nice texture with the subtle fret noises and string plucking. So here we are with the main portion of the song completed just a couple days away from when we started……. But here’s where it gets good. Phonte told me that they had hit up my dude, Detroit’s own Pirahnahead to do string arrangement on it…

*drops phone*

Now, I’ve known Pirahnahead for a good 10-11 years and he was a monster back THEN so I couldn’t have even imagined what some damn strings would sound like over that music. So, when I received the song back a month later……. WITH STRINGS?!?! LOOK man…. I had all TYPES of goosebumps running up my arms. The shit was just beautiful…. I can remember listening to it about 5 or 6 times in a row and THEN listening to the isolated strings track a few times in a row afterward. Maaaaaaan, make you wanna shed that good single “Denzel in ‘Glory‘” thug tear!! Then, I received the final version with Nicolay’s drums on the song that put the song into another gear by taking it from an acoustic singer/songwriter mode to something you could break your neck to… All the way through an extended hook where Phonte calls out “…and my backgrounds sing, and my backgrounds siiiiing…” (that’s Jeanne Jolly assisting him on the background vocals too, by the way) right into that ending that we worked on at the piano. An excellent climax to a dope song.

Zo! “Count To Five” Performance featuring Carmen Rodgers – LIVE in Memphis, TN (07.26.14)

Shouts to Ascension Report for the video footage on this one. Taken from our performance in Memphis, TN on July 26, 2014. The Memphis crew had the music sounding good up there… “Count To Five” from my most recent album, ManMade

Personnel:
Zo! – Keys
Carmen Rodgers – Lead Vocal
D’Monet – Background Vocal
T.O. – Guitar
Doc – Bass
Pee Wee – Drums

Visuals from Zo! featuring Carmen Rodgers in Memphis • Photos by Nikki at Infinite Ink (07.26.14)

Visuals from…

Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers
at Neil’s Music Room in Memphis, TN
July 27, 2014

Photos by Nikki at Infinite Ink

Personnel:
Zo! – Keys & “Lock Um In Da Trunk” tee
Carmen Rodgers – Lead Saingin’
D’Monet – Background Saingin’
T.O. – Gee-tar
Doc – The 5-string Low End Theory
Pee Wee – Skins

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