Farah Siraj grew up in Amman, Jordan, and though her music is rooted in the traditional sounds of her home country, she takes an expansive approach to songwriting. Incorporating bits of jazz, flamenco and folk, Siraj breaks down traditional barriers, and also uses her songs as a means for humanitarian advocacy. Tonight she headlines World Cafe Live; tickets and information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →
We knew we were hearing something good when Michael Collier hit us up late last summer to check out his songwriting, Del Sur. Collier had just graduated high school out in the burbs, and was about to head off for college, but wanted to get his music out there; we premiered his H.A.G.S. EP in September, and a few months down the line, we get word that the sunny indie pop collection is getting an official re-release on January 27th. Continue reading →
Both punk rock and professional wrestling have their hardcore sects, but rarely do the two cross paths. Enter UltraMantis Black, a mainstay of the Easton-based Chikara Pro independent wrestling promotion, who can now add punk frontman to his list of accomplishments. Earlier this month, the masked UltraMantis teamed up with members of Pissed Jeans to release his debut EP, and will celebrate the release at Voltage Lounge on Thursday as part of Relapse Records’ This Is Hardcore Afterparty. The leader of the Spectral Envoy discussed his efforts in the squared circle and on the stage from his home base in the mysterious, storied Parts Unknown.
The Key: How did you move from pro wrestling to punk rock?
UltraMantis Black: I’d been doing music prior to my professional wrestling career, but decided in the past year or two that I wanted to bring that part of UltraMantis Black out. Some of the members of Pissed Jeans approached me about doing something a few years ago and I was a bit hesitant at first because I was concentrating on professional wrestling at the time and didn’t really see a way to balance the two. Now I’ve found a way to bring them together.
TK: How do the two relate in your mind?
UMB: I think they’re very similar. Punk rock and professional wrestling have more in common than most people might think. Both the communities and fanbases involved in each are niche audiences. I feel like performing in front of a crowd onstage or within a
wrestling ring, you’re trying to entertain, trying to convey a message, trying to display your art form, so I see them both coming together in that way.
TK: Who is UltraMantis Black?
UMB: Ultramantis Black is known as the Mayor of Parts Unknown, a part-human, part-insectoid overlord of professional wrestling. A little bit of evil, a little bit of deviousness, but at the same time bringing a little consciousness back to professional wrestling.
TK: Does the character put forward the same message in both arenas?
UMB: I think so. I’ve always tried to bring something different to professional wrestling, something that probably wasn’t always there. I speak my mind, I speak what I feel will open other people’s eyes to my own personal beliefs and philosophies and they way I look at life, and that’s probably unorthodox in professional wrestling but I think it’s worked. I’ve developed a fan base in wrestling that’s not the typical professional wrestling crowd, and with the band I wanted to bring social and political aspects of punk rock back to hardcore, where I think it’s been lacking in recent years.
Local indie hip-hop act Halfro have a sound that’s quite refreshing. They’re a full band that plays passionate, melodic music in a genre that rarely focuses on bands, but rather solo acts. Recently, they stripped down Jay-Z’s “Somewhere in America”, from this year’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, and gave it a poetry club type makeover. Halfro will open for Nappy Roots tomorrow night at Voltage Lounge. Get tickets here.