Andre Vasconcelos, a Guitarist Shaking Up New York City

Today we are here with one of NYC’s best guitarists, Andre Vasconcelos. Hailing from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Andre has been living in the United States for quite some time now, playing with several different bands in stages throughout the world

Photo Credit: Andrea Vodickova

Photo Credit: Andrea Vodickova

We’ve written in the past about one of the bands he’s played in, so we’ve been hearing of Andre’s amazing musical talent for some time. Since we hear and see his name constantly showing up on band’s concerts line ups and posters around NYC, we decided to attend a show this past June 3rd, at Rough Trade. There, we were able to witness his performance first-hand. Our immediate reaction? We were in awe, and speechless!

Andre was performing as the lead guitarist for the band “Victor & the Peculiars”, who were interestingly acting as the openers for Andre’s main band, the RANN. We were blown away by the performances. Victor’s songs are catchy and energetic and the band that backs him up are made with some of the most incredibly players we have seen live.

Andre took some time to answer a couple of questions for Behind the Scenes NYC. We are thrilled to hear a little about his journey as a musician.

Photo Credit: Rescalla Cury

Photo Credit: Rescalla Cury

1.  When did you start playing music? And what was the moment you decided that this would be your professional path in life?

I started playing music when I was around 13 years old. My brother was having guitar lessons so, when my mom offered me to start doing those too, I accepted just so I could be better than him (laughs).

Having done that, I moved on to developing a true relationship of love and devotion to the instrument. I started on nylon string guitar, but quickly changed to electric after coming back from the massive Rock in Rio Festival, in Brazil, where I witnessed Guns n’ Roses melt my face.

I don’t think I have ever decided that this would be my path, but also never really saw myself doing anything else. I attended Business School for a while, just to find myself skipping classes to practice and/or learn new material.

 

2.  When did you move to New York City? What is the day-to-day life of such an in-demand musician living here?

I moved to New York City around a year after I graduated from the renowned Berklee College of Music, in Boston. Many of my peers and collaborators were making the move to the big apple so the timing felt right. I had been playing in New York City for many years before I moved here, which is how it eventually works anyway.

The city requires you to be smart about your planning, scheduling and all of the logistic aspects of the profession. You need to understand immediately how big the city is, how long it takes to get from one place to the other and how costly it is to do so.

My day-to-day varies immensely as I have a Music House (Ghidrah Music) in my home studio, in Bushwick. There, I am a writer and producer for my own original rock band, called RANN, where we are always working on new materials. My jazz/rock band, called Racha Fora, does yearly tours in Japan, several other projects and side gigs that keeps our schedule very busy and diverse.

To answer your question, it is basically a combination of studio production sessions in the morning, followed by pretty intense rehearsals or performances at night.

 

3.  Talking a bit about RANN, how did this amazing project come to life? You guys went on 3 tours, what were they like? Plus, when can we expect new material?

RANN is the main project I work with. There are four of us: Apoena Frota is the lead singer and also my partner at Ghidrah Music. We have our drummer, Joe Ullmer and Rafael Russi is our secret weapon playing guitars, synths and bass. I play guitar and sing harmonies.

We all met in Boston, but we only formed the band around January of 2015 when we rented a cabin upstate NY and wrote our entire full length record “Yellowgun” during that trip.

Quickly after finishing the album and seeing our shows get more and more hype, we went on our first US Tour. The, we won the Deli Magazine award of “Best Indie Pop Band of 2015”, had our song placed in a massive movie in Brazil and performed extensively.

In 2016 we crossed the country twice playing shows in over 45 different cities, driving from Cape Cod to Seattle and back.

New material should be released soon! We are very excited about it.

 

4.  After seeing your show with Vic, at Rough Trade, we decided to invite him to be part of the Sofar Sounds event we organized at the Greenpoint Gallery a few days ago. The show was a tremendous success and we were sold out! I heard you’ve played at several of these Sofar events with countless different artists. Can you tell us a bit about the event and what it feels like to see it from different artists’ perspectives?

Absolutely! Sofar is always a fun experience. The name stands for “Songs from a Room”, which is a great concept. I’ve played Sofar shows with Brazilian artists singing in Portuguese, with Brazilian artists singing in English, with RANN, with heavy rock bands, but also with very soft and subtle singers…and pretty much everything in between.

Sofar Sounds shows are usually ‘stripped down’ versions of the original musics. So, adapting some music to that setting is both challenging and really fun. The show I did with “Victor & the Peculiars” was a particularly interesting one. The band is usually a full blast rock band, taking no prisoners. For our Sofar show last weekend, we managed to rock out, keep the energy up there, but still play the room. It was awesome!

I usually have around 10 guitar pedals with me, but for this show I only had 4. After the show I saw so many posts and comments from people complimenting the guitar sounds. It is always very rewarding. I have the Strymon pedals to thank for that - they are truly incredible pieces of gear.

One of my favorite Sofar concerts I did was with Racha Fora, the powerful and fiery jazz/rock ensemble, led by Hiroaki Honshuku. The music composed and performed by Hiro, myself (guitar), Rika Ikeda (violin) and Sebastian Chiriboga (percussion), pushed the envelope so much that the crowd’s reaction was stunning. Everybody really loved the concert. Being able to share our international touring experiences was another highlight.

Photo Credit: Alyss Tyler

Photo Credit: Alyss Tyler

Andre, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, at Behind the Scenes NYC! We are very excited to share this inspiring feature on you and continue rockin’!

Thank YOU so much! This has been so much fun. Hope to catch you at our show soon!

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If you want to learn more about RANN, take a look at their website: www.rannpage.com.

To listen to their music, enjoy their You Tube Page with countless clips! We’ve chosen two, to share below.

Lastly, if you’re dying to see Andre play, his next show with “Vic & the Peculiars” will be for the July 4th celebration at El Derty’s rooftop in Bushwick, Brooklyn. 

A Duo that is Rockin' the Influencer World in NYC

We recently interviewed a super talented duo that is changing and rockin’ the influencer world in New York City! 

Amra Beganovich, a former Economist and Elma Beganovich, a former Lawyer decided to dive into the Social Media universe and today are considered two of the top Digital Influencers in NY, with a successful influencer led marketing agency.

“After toiling away as an economist on World Bank projects for a few years, my sister and I realized that our calling lied elsewhere – like many of our millennial peers, we started dabbling in the digital space. We began blogging in late 2012 on our website Club Fashionista and that quickly grew into our own brand Amra & Elma, which now is the only influencer lead digital marketing agency. With our own 2.3M following and a network of over 300,000 consumer influencers, we specialize in making brands explode in the digital space. Our services include photo production, no-fee blogger program, social media management and media outreach. We have also contributed to some of the most prominent publications such as ELLE, InStyle, Marie Claire, Business Insider, and Bloomberg. Some of our high-profile clients include: Uber, SmartWater, Johnson & Johnson, Avon, Make Up For Ever, E S P R I T, and Dr. Marten’s. I currently reside in New York City but make an effort to escape and travel as often as I can as I find a great deal of creative inspiration in all corners of the world.”

~ Amra Beganovich

 “When my career in law seemed to spiral into a rut and started looking like a dead-end job, I took a leap of faith (in myself mostly) and joined my sister Amra, who was working on her blog and digging deep in the social media and digital space. Blogging soon grew into our careers as digital influencers, which then turned into our own namesake brand Amra & Elma – the only influencer founded digital media agency. We focus on social media and digital influencer marketing. We are proud of our own 2.3M following on social, and boast a network of over 300,000 consumer influencers, many of whom are our personal friends and colleagues. As mentioned above, our goal is to help brands catch fire in the digital space, and our services include photo production with professional models and/or influencers, no-fee blogger program, social media management, and media outreach. We have also contributed to some of the most prominent publications. I currently reside in New York City but enjoy traveling whenever possible in order to break free of the everyday and nurture my creativity.” 

~ Elma Beganovich

Take a look at their Top 7 Favorite Spots in NYC:

We all know about the massive Ralph Lauren flagship store located in the heart of 5th Avenue, but not many people know about a tiny coffee shop inside it. It’s certainly a great space to escape the Manhattan chaos! Their coffee ‘is certified organic, ethically and sustainably sourced’, which does make all the difference!

“This is one of our favorite spots during NYFW as influencers all across the world gather here between shows to sip on their favorite coffee and tasty (and healthy) treats. The café is tucked away on the second floor of the store allowing one to catch a break during a busy day.”

Location: 711 Fifth Avenue, 2nd Floor

Manhattan is not only the center of fashion, but also a center for beauty! With so many amazing spots, it’s definitely hard to pick one!

One of the leading hair stylist in NYC, Serge Normant, partnered up with John Frieda, famous for his signature Hair Care Line and founded Serge Normant at John Frieda.

“We love the entire team in this salon – from the colorists to the hairstylists, they really know hair and can make a girl feel “oh so fabulous”. The setting is cozy – they serve you tea right as you come in – and upstairs, there is a beautiful deck allowing one to go out and catch a breath of fresh air in this busy city.”

Locations: 30 East 76th Street (Upper East Side), and 336 West 23rd Street (Chelsea)

http://sergenormantatjohnfrieda.com

Via Quadronno is a traditional Italian restaurant, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, was founded in 1999 and is also known for being a paninoteca, serving truffled paninis and delicious homemade pastries paired with irresistible cappuccinos.

As they explain: Mankind trained dogs and pigs to sniff for white truffles, assisting in the quest for this heavenly treat. Wild boars don’t need training: they instinctively know how to locate truffles, for they have been enjoying them for millennia. It is the boar’s nose for truffles that helped fuel his reputation as the undisputed gourmet of the animal kingdom.

“In this tucked away café/restaurant, one can find the best cappuccino and tiramisu (made in house) in town! This gem is located a few blocks from the MET Museum, which makes it a perfect spot to stop and have lunch and dessert with your girlfriends after an afternoon in the regal museum.”

Location: 25 East 73th Street and 1228 Madison Avenue (both Upper East Side)

www.viaquadronno.com

Exhale is known for being an ‘award-winning flagship spa and boutique fitness studios with expertly created Barre, Yoga, Cardio + HIIT classes’. Besides these classes, you can schedule treatments like: Facials, Massages, Acu-Healing, Scrubs, Manicure, Waxing and several other amazing services.

“One of our favorites to frequent because of the barre classes and the studio’s relaxing ambiance. One can also make it an all around experience by opting for a spa treatment after a rigorous exercise.”

Location: 150 Central Park South

www.exhalespa.com/locations/new-york/central-park-south

We’re just posted about Storm King Art Center (here)! They open in a few days and we can’t wait to go there again! You’ll find more than 100 gorgeous installations, spread throughout over 500 hectares of green landscape! Art pieces by names like Roy Lichtenstein, Calder, Zhang Huan and Louis Bourgois are just the start!

“This place almost seems magical with its outdoor sculptures, which are the best to experience during the spring and summer months. It’s a perfect place to observe art and absorb the refreshing outdoors scenery away from the concrete and the hectic energy of Manhattan."

Location: 1 Museum Road, Mountainville

www.stormking.org

We all know that New York City hosts some of the richest and most important museums in the world! The Frick Collection is surely one of these and it showcases one of the most important collections of Western fine art today.

“This place is like a little oasis secluded from the business of Manhattan with its marvelous art and majestic garden spaces and sculptures. I would suggest going here to catch a break and for a little time travel into the early 1900s.”

Location: 1 East 70th Street (Upper East Side)

www.frick.org

The West Village is surely one of the top 3 restaurants we most love in Manhattan and we are always there exploring new spots or just roaming around the beautiful streets. It’s predominately a residential neighborhood, but the small shops, coffees and restaurants give it a lively vibe!

Bleecker Street is not only what it appears in blockbuster movies, like the Time Machine and Doctor Strange, it’s that much more! I love this promenade for its shops and cafes. The street is located in West Village and its beauty is striking with the brown bricks, cobblestones and cozy shops.”

Location: Bleecker Street in the West Village

We love what the guys at The West Village Life doing to share the neighborhood’s beauty (picture are all theirs) - www.thewestvillagelife.com

 

Here are two fun questions we asked them:

What does NYC mean to both of you?

“I believe New York City means opportunity – opportunity to feed off of the bustling energy and to learn from some of the most talented people in the world. It is a city where trends are started and dreams made. At the same time, one must stay weary and escape now and then and to catch a piece of mind and put it all into a perspective. I think it is important to stay grounded and humbled and not to let so many of the temptations this city has to offer distract and interfere with one’s core values. Whatever the end-goal – why you came to this city – don’t even forget to take one day per week to yourself and just let loose and have fun.”

What would you girls tell a 1st timer in NY?

“I would share with a 1st timer in New York to take it all in one step at a time and to be more observant in order to learn rather than dive readily into action. Also, I would tell him/her to enjoy the variety the city has to offer – from different districts to spectacular sites, like the views from the top of the Rockefeller Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Arts. Finally, as mentioned above, don’t forget to go away now and then to catch your breath and let it all sink in to gain a better perspective on life and to prosper personally and in your career.”

 

Thank you Amra and Elma for being part of our NYC Hush Hush Tips and sharing your favorite spots in NY!

 

Photo Credits: Courtesy of A&E, the venues and TheWestVillageLife.com