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Fashion Design by IntoArt CottonInk - Jakarta Fashion Week 2020
December Fashion Photo Five

Photo by GCM Group, Dany Hendrata, protected by copyright ©


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Charlott Axenström - Designer

Charlott Axenstrom Photo Front PageWhen you are a little girl growing up in a tiny village in the very far north of Sweden where during the middle of the winter you may only have at most two hours of daylight and you are in some of the best ski country in Sweden, one supposes like most children you turn to sports or music. Charlotte Axenström became an avid skier, something she still enjoys today, but her imagination and creativity, also took her in another direction.

“It was kind of boring,” Charlott Axenström says chuckling, “I think that was the key (to where this all began), you are so bored and it is so dark. I am a skier and a swimmer and I was into clothes. I started sketching clothes when I was five years of age. I think when you have so much time to think about it you (become good at what you are doing). That is what I tell my daughter you have to be bored (first) to be good. If you have everything just in front of you there is no reason for your brain to work.”

“I grew up in the same village in northern Sweden as Ingemar Stenmark the skier (Editor’s note: Ingemar Stenmark won more international ski races than any other skier in history, including eighty-six World Cup wins). I think with it being dark for twenty-two hours every day (in the winter) that was part of the creative process. Yes it is dark and you are out skiing, but you also stay home a lot. In the summer I was outside all of the time. From April until September you don’t sleep that much (Editor’s note: there is almost continual daylight),” she says.

When this writer comments about how for such a small country in terms of population Sweden is and yet how it seems like from every little village and town across the country extraordinary athletes, musicians, singers and artists have emerged over the years, Charlotte Axenström elaborates further. 

“In school they had all of the instruments for you to play and so it did not matter how much or how little money you had, you could do whatever you wanted. Today in Sweden it has changed a lot, because the schools do not have the money. They do not have music and sports as much as when I was young.

When I was in school I could do my sketches a lot and I could paint and it was a  Read More

Marisol Rozo - Dance / Theater

Marisol Rozo Front Page PhotoMarisol Rozo may very well be the most creatively gifted person that Riveting Riffs Magazine has interviewed and yet she is also one of the most modest about her own achievements. Marisol Rozo was born in Colombia and twenty-two years ago she arrived in Madrid, Spain with only her two suitcases. Her career, as a dancer and began at the age of fourteen and she later appeared as an actress on Colombian television. In the years that have passed since she moved to Spain, Marisol Rozo has become a well-respected dancer, choreographer, director, playwright, appeared in films and not many people realize she is also a noted author of books for both children and adults, although she admits almost somewhat shyly that not many people are aware that she is an author. She says it is almost too much to tell people about. She has performed in and directed numerous theatrical projects in several countries, including major European cities and in New York City, as well as in China.

While conversing and getting to know Marisol Rozo one becomes aware of three things, her passion for her creative endeavors, her ability to balance a family life with a very busy artistic schedule and her kind and generous heart. 

As for finding the time to do everything she laughs and says, “It is very difficult to be a mother, a couple, dance, and theater and to write, but when you are passionate about what you do and you love it, I think that time is your friend. When I talk about that I can’t understand how I made it (she laughs). It is better if I don’t think about it.”

“At this time I am working as an actress and director with the beautiful Spanish play Tratado de culinaria para ser felices (Editor’s note in Spanish complete titles are often not capitalized unlike in English). It is a text (script) by the Colombian writer Hector Abad Faciolince and I share the stage with two wonderful fellows, Jorge Furnadjiev who is a cellist and actor and dancer Fernando Trujillo,” she says, and then continues, “I am also on tour with one of my oldest works, which is over eighteen years already, Mis primeras cuatro estaciones (My First Four Seasons).”

Life began for Marisol Rozo far away from big theater stages and movie screens. It seems as though the arts were destined to inhabit Marisol Rozo’s soul from the very beginning, “In Cali where I was born it is impossible not to dance. It is a career from the cradle. Dance was my  Read More

Design By Epitome, Jakarta Fashion Week 2020

December Fashion Photo Six 

Photo by GCM Group - Dachri Megantara, protected by copyright ©

NEVERWONDER

NEVERWONDER Photo Front Page“2020 is going to be a great year for NEVERWONDER. We have a new record coming out, we have some great shows coming up and we will be at SXSW (in Austin, Texas). We have had radio play and we have some more coming up,” says Fabienne Grisel, the Swiss born leader singer of the melodic Rock band NEVERWONDER (yes the name is all in capitals), while in conversation with Riveting Riffs Magazine.

About the new album she says, “We are experimenting a little bit more with effects. We work together as a unit even though we all have our own instruments. We collaborate, for instance if I hear something that the drums are or are not doing we can talk about it.  If the guys hear something that I am doing vocally they will say something.  We might say (to one another) why don’t you try this or that? I can’t wait to see what comes out of these songs in the studio, because they are already great, but I think we can take them to the next level for sure.

(The album) will first be recorded in analog and then it will be put through the digital (process). I like analog, because as a singer you can hear every crack and every crisp in the voice. I like to hear things that are not so perfect. I am not talking about notes or anything, but the things that make music interesting or the moment interesting; the crack in the voice or that little screech in the guitar. It is those things that you might not be able to hear as much in a digital recording. I am not trying to disregard people who are digital. I think for certain genres of music that is totally appropriate for Rap and things like that, but for what we do I think it just fits us. We are primarily an organic band. I just like the sound of analog (recordings). We like to play around too. We play around with effects and we merge some digital aspects into what  Read More

Katja Rieckermann - Double Release

Katja Rieckermann Front Page PhotoYou know the song “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” from when Rod Stewart recorded it on his 1978 album Blondes Have More Fun, but you have never heard it played like this before. Saxophonist, arranger and composer Katja Rieckermann and TMTQ turn in a stunning dance version of the song, with new vocals by Sir Rod Stewart. Rieckermann who toured with Stewart for fourteen years and during that time she began her solo career, which to date has produced three albums, the self-titled Katja (2007), Horn Star (2010) and Never Stand Still (2014). Katja Rieckermann has performed with a diverse group of artists, which include, Carole King, Brooks and Dunn, David Foster, Mary J. Blige, Al Green and Jeff Goldblum.

Katja Rieckerman first started thinking of recording “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” “about two and one-half years ago. Originally it was going to be an instrumental version of “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” and it was going to be very close to the original with the tempo and the vibe of it. I wrote a couple of horn sections for it and we recorded it.

I sent it to Rod for approval and said what do you think? I said hey Rod what do you think? I am thinking about releasing this version. Do you like it? He wrote back, yes I love it. How about I sing on it? I was like wow! That is crazy. Of course, that would be fantastic. He ended up singing over the original track that I sent to him.

I thought now I have these newly recorded vocals of Rod and it is too close to sounding like the original, so I should do something super hip and new.

I contacted award winning composer and arranger Sandi Strmljan who produced  Read More

Ada Rovatti & Randy Brecker

Ada Rovatti and Randy Brecker Photo for front pageThere is something about sitting down for an interview with two people whom you have known for many years, although most of that from a distance, that has more of the feel of friends getting together for a visit, a comfortable conversation if you like. Ada Rovatti and Randy Brecker’s new album, Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond creates that same mood when you listen to the collection of songs composed and arranged by Ada Rovatti. The musicians who play on the album were drawn together by Randy Brecker and the album was masterfully recorded at Bunker Studios by Aaron Nevezie, while Cynthia Daniels put her magical touch on the mixing and mastering of the album. Just a word about Cynthia Daniels, we could not possibly do justice to her career, the many artists with whom she has worked, or the Broadway productions, films and television shows that have her fingerprints on them, so we encourage you to visit her website.

In proper journalism practice first names alone are seldom used when referring to the one being interviewed however, in this situation when conversing with the husband and wife team of Randy Brecker and Ada Rovatti and our familiarity with them it somehow would not feel right to refer to them by their last names, so we are going to cast protocol aside. Their daughter Stella also appears on this album, but her demands for a significant appearance fee could not be met by Riveting Riffs Magazine and before anyone takes us seriously, we are joking folks, but we did want to give Stella a nod for her singing performance on the opening track “Sacred Bond,” as well as making a debut on her mom and dad’s album.

When this writer opens the conversation by saying the songs on this album seem to Read More

Aïda Ballmann is Feeling Alive

Aida Ballman Photo Front PageIt is not often at the end of an interview that one has tough choices to make in terms of writing, but in the case of actress Aïda Ballmann, there are so many interesting aspects to her life and career and they are intertwined. She grew up in Islas Canarias (the Canary Islands), on the smallest of the islands El Hierro and she describes her parents at the time as being hippies from Germany. She is a very good, trilingual (English, German, Spanish) actress who has drawn rave reviews for her performances. Where we decided to begin however, is with her documentary film Sand Path filmed in Senegal. It is a documentary of the people, the ties to her family, the work that she volunteered to do there, along with her friend Eva Gamallo (also a splendid actress) and it encompasses the reasons that Aïda Ballman became an actress and the values she holds dear.

Aïda Ballmann talks about her documentary film Sand Path, “I didn’t plan to be a producer. I think my childhood was very nice and when I was eighteen and I started traveling around the world with my twin sister. I found that the world is not as fair as I thought. I thought what can I do to make it a little bit better? I decided I wanted to tell stories about our reality and maybe give a little push to the audience to think a little different or have a new point of view about their reality and change by themselves. When I was studying theater and started acting afterwards I realized I wasn’t telling the stories that I wanted to tell. That is why I made this documentary film, which was the first official film that I started and finished (as a producer).  It was like going back to the reason why I started acting and why I wanted to study  Read More

Eva Gamallo - Actress from Spain

You sit down with someone on the other end of a telephone call or in this case on SKYPE to do an interview or as we prefer to say to have a conversation and neither person knows quite what to expect. All you know about in this case, Eva Gamallo, a wonderful film, television and stage actress from Madrid, Spain is what your research has been able to tell you and all she really knows about you and Riveting Riffs Magazine is what you have told her and what she has read when visiting the magazine’s website. What this writer discovered during our hour long conversation with a very talented actress, is a warm and charming woman for whom you immediately want the best for her in life and career. Take a few moments and listen in on our conversation with actress Eva Gamallo. Oh and yes we do know how to say her name correctly in Spanish, because through much shared laughter and some giggles on her part, Eva Gamallo was gracious enough to teach this writer how to pronounce hers surname correctly. Her first name Eva is also pronounced like we would say Ava in English.

Eva Gamallo was born in Switzerland to Spanish parents. Her mother was from Pontevedra in the north of Spain and her father from Granada in the south of Spain.

“I have one brother and one sister. (My family) was medium size, not so small and not so large.  When I was three years old we moved (from Switzerland) to Granada.  I lived there until I was eighteen or nineteen and then I went to live in Read More

Sara Ballantine A Triple Threat

Sara Ballantine Front Page PhotoRiveting Riffs Magazine has counted actress Sara Ballantine, as one of our friends for more than a decade now and there are some things that no longer surprise us about her, those being; how busy she seems to keep whether it is with films, television, theater doing a commercial or learning a few magic tricks. When we caught up with Sara Ballantine recently both in person while we were in Los Angeles and then later on the phone she talked about her most recent career adventures.

“I was in American Christmas, which aired on SHOWTIME on December 1 st, starring Tara Reid and Robert Carradine. I played Annie, a nosy neighbor and my hubby was played by Stuart Pankin. We had a ball working on this funny and racy Christmas movie, with a lot of the creative team from the web series that we did last year called Kaplan’s Korner.

I am also now learning some magic, as I am appearing for the first time ever at the world famous Magic Castle in the Palace Theatre at the end of December, carrying on in the tradition of my dad, Carl Ballantine who was known as The Amazing Ballantine. (Editor’s note: Carl Ballantine was also considered to be a very good television and film actor.) I was asked by a magician to be a part of his act and that week between Christmas and New Year’s they need a host. He asked me if I would assist him. I am going to learn an illusion.

I have learned a few teeny weeny  Read More

YYNOT - American Rock Band

YYNOT Photo FiveYYNOT is a Rock band mostly out of California with a dash of Florida and their name addresses what others might be prompted to ask. Those questions might be why three musicians and a singer got together first as a RUSH tribute band and later started to write their own songs, but still very much in the vein of Progressive Rock. Another question might be what does a twenty-two year old lead singer (Rocky Kuner) know about the pinnacle of RUSH’s career or what does she know at all about that era of music? Yet another question stems out of the former question, which is can three older (not old) guys who grew up listening to RUSH and a Generation Z singer actually make it work? Well if one considers the strong following that YYNOT has and they have played concerts all across America rather than just being a regional band then the answer to the last question is a resounding yes!

The new album Resonance opens with an instrumental “Synergos,” written by Billy Alexander, a longtime friend of Riveting Riffs Magazine. Alexander sat down with us to talk about the band YYNOT and the songs on this album. Heavy drumbeats (Joel Stevenet) and dare we say it, riveting guitar riffs slice through the air (courtesy of Alexander), while Tim Starace works his magic on bass.

Superb songwriting (Billy Alexander) and fabulous vocals by Rocky Kuner take over with the second song on the album, “Wildest Dreams.” The song is both an encouraging missive and a challenge to keep imagination alive, to keep that little girl or little boy spark inside of us or to reignite it and to keep pursing our dreams. The theme is Read More

Beth Bombara - Americana Rock

Beth Bombara Photo Front Page Credit Nate BurrellWe do not often think of the word Evergreen, as summer is winding down, but Christmas came early this year with a delicious album from Beth Bombara that bears that title. The dual first tracks, which for the music video merge into one another, “I Only Cry When I’m Alone,” and “Upside Down,” are well worth investing in the album, so the listener can discover some other treasures.

Beth Bombara talks about those first two songs, “Social media has changed how we interact socially and what I was really thinking about is how it has enabled us to hide behind this curtain, minus emotion. If you don’t want somebody to know that you’re sad you don’t have to post a picture of you looking sad on the internet. Nobody has to know that you are sad or upset. It is this idea of not letting people behind your emotional curtain. That is what I was thinking about when I started writing,” the she adds that you can also convey your true emotions, “I have cried in front of other people before. It is capturing the idea that it is a lot easier now than ever to let people see when you are feeling sad.”

Although, the song does not focus specifically on the period of her life when Beth Bombara was dealing with depression, she says, “I was not thinking about that, but generally speaking yes. Part of my battle with depression during that time period was the aspect of feeling stuck and not feeling like I had any power to do anything. There is an aspect of “Upside Down,” that alludes to that. It is the feeling of being stuck and not having the power to do anything and then just flipping your whole perspective upside down. If you think you are at a place Read More

Design by Aleza, Designer Josephine Anni

Fashion December Photo Two 

Photo by GCM Group, Dandy Hendrata protected by copyright ©

Specialty Records & Art Rupe

Billy Vera Specialty Records Photo Front PageRecently, singer, songwriter, musician, author and Grammy Award winner Billy Vera sat down with me to talk about his new book Rip It Up: The Specialty Records Story. Vera tells us how the book came about.

“BMG contacted me. They initiated a series of books with each one being about a different independent record label, either an old one or a new one. They knew I worked for Specialty years ago and that I knew the founder Art Rupe, so they figured I was the guy to do the Specialty (book). They gave me the outline and they said we want roughly 50,000 words. Each book is in a seven by seven format, which is the size of an old 45 rpm record.

I have known Art for thirty years. I had Xerox copies of correspondence between artists and Art, recording session sheets and union contracts from my days at Specialty. I produced over fifty CDs of Specialty music. I was also very familiar with the history of the label and of Art’s history. Whenever I had a question I just called him up. I wrote the book in about three weeks.

Art is 102 years old and he is sharper than you and I put together. He still goes to work every day. In fact, later in the day after he finished with us (doing a video with him), he had a board meeting. He runs a charitable foundation that gives away tons and tons of money to various things that he is interested in. He is an incredible man. He is an amazing man,” he says.

Art Rupe penned the foreword to the book.

Billy Vera’s association with the kind of music that Specialty Records produced goes back to 1954 when he was twelve years old. He explains, “My neighbor Frankie Falcone drove up in his 1954 Mercury Monterey, chopped and channeled. Out of the window of his car I could hear this voice like no other voice I had ever heard singing, “Gonna' have some fun tonight / Gonna’ have some fun tonight, woo!” I thought who the hell is that? Frankie drove on.

A few nights later I heard the same voice on Read More

Gary Nicholson - Two New Albums

Gary Nicholson Photo Front PageIt is not often that an artist puts out two albums at the same time, but then when you go by two professional names Gary Nicholson and Whitey Johnson and the albums have entirely different themes then maybe it should not be surprising that is what Nicholson / Johnson did recently.

“I am still writing songs about what is still going on in our culture. I am going to make another record that speaks to this situation that we are in. I want to temper that with the Whitey Johnson music that offers some fun and humor and some rocking Blues music that can go along with the Folk music of the Great Divide (one of the new albums). I think the two things work well together and that is why I chose to put out the two records at the same time. Thankfully Blue Corn Music was agreeable to releasing both records,” says Nicholson referencing the other album More Days Like This released under his other moniker Whitey Johnson.

So, just before we get into the main part of our conversation we thought we would tell you how Gary Nicholson, singer, songwriter and guitarist also acquired the name Whitey Johnson.

“The Whitey Johnson persona started when I wrote a short story about Whitey Johnson who was a composite character from my youth. He was a guitar hero of mine. He was black, but he was albino, so his family called him Whitey and that short story appeared in a book called Guitar in a Tent. A lot of songwriters wrote short stories for this book. (Kris) Kristofferson and John Hiatt and others wrote stories. That is how the Whitey Johnson thing started. When Colin Linden and I started playing a lot of Country Blues together we felt compelled to go to Sam’s Men’s Wear in Nashville and there was a white suit in the window. There was a two for one sale and I got a purple suit for Colin and the white one for me. We went to the Blues festival and that was it. That is when I started performing as Whitey Johnson,” he Read More

45 Revoluciones Television Espanol

45 rpm front page photoRiveting Riffs Magazine does not write a lot of reviews these days, although those were our roots as an entertainment, fashion and visual arts publication. We now focus on interviews. Having said all of that when 45 revoluciones, which first was broadcast on Antena 3 (television) in Spain in the spring of 2019 appeared on Netflix recently, what began as a curiosity turned into a love affair between this writer and yet another fabulous production from Spain.

45 revoluciones is set in the early 1960s in Madrid, Spain at a time when Rock and Roll music gave a voice to young people in many countries in the world, but also at a time in Spain when it was ruled by a brutal and repressive dictator General Francisco Franco. Franco would not die until 1975 and during his dictatorship people of a gay sexual orientation were arrested, beaten and persecuted if caught, literature was heavily censored and often rewritten, radio and television stations broadcast what they were told to broadcast and music was censored.

Now that you understand the setting of 45 revoluciones let us talk about the outstanding thirteen episode series that we hope will be renewed for another season and if you watched the series in its entirety, yes the writers and producers did leave a window open for that to occur with the way the story was written. If it is not renewed by Antena 3 then perhaps Netflix will pick up the rights. It has done well with other Spanish productions such as Alta Mar (High Seas) and Las Chicas Del Cable (Cable Girls).

There are so many good acting performances in 45 revoluciones by the stars of the show and by the entire supporting cast that it will not be possible to mention everyone. Never in recent memory has a supporting cast put in as strong of a performance as this one.

The story begins with a young, great looking young man by the name of Rober (played by Carlos Cuevas) hijacking the stage at a venue called Price, before he is uncermoniously removed from the venue. A failed record label A & R Read More

Design By Alleira Rotelli, Jakarta Fashion Week 2020

December Fashion Photo Seven  

Photo by GCM Group, Budi Harianto, protected by copyright ©

Magda Salinas - Actress - Interview

Magda Salinas Front Page PhotoMagda Salinas was just about to conclude her five week run in the play Y gritamos sorpresa! (So We Shout Surprise!), directed and written by Sara Palomo and presented in Madrid, Spain, when she took time from her busy schedule to talk to Riveting Riffs Magazine. She also had a recurring role as Doncella during the third and fourth seasons of the very popular Spanish television series Gran Hotel. In addition she has appeared in other Spanish television shows and the web series Entre amigos. At the time of our conversation Magda Salinas was also writing a one-woman play.

Just like in North America where some of the most iconic actors, actresses and music legends began their lives far from the centers for the film, television and music worlds, in Spain it is not uncommon to find that actresses such as Magda Salinas grew up far from what now is considered the hub for film and television production in Spain, the city of Madrid.  

Let’s take a journey to Almeria, a city more than one thousand years old located in the southeast of Spain in the region known as Andalusia and where life began for Magda Salinas.

She talks about life in Almeria, a city with a population approaching 200,000, one she describes as being sunny and with a large coastline. Almeria has beaches, the desert, mountains, so we have everything.  

“My father was married and he had four kids, but his wife died. Then he married my mom. After seven years they had my sister and then twenty-three months later they had me. I am the youngest of six siblings. My oldest brother is twenty years older.  

Almeria used to be very empty concerning the arts. A long time ago they used to film a lot of movies over there. We have a mini Hollywood  Read More

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