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Showing posts with label sean lerner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sean lerner. Show all posts

Friday, August 3, 2018

Spotlight on Amberle Janniah--Sean Lerner Reporting

The other night I popped into a club to check out an artist I never saw. She describes herself as an "acoustic pop musician & artist." She supported this statement with her refreshing voice and catchy guitar. Throughout the hour she constantly delivered through her original works and creative arrangements of cover tunes. Amberle is on her way to becoming a first class Second Life entertainer.

I should start by saying that Amberle's voice is flawless. She constantly demonstrates impeccable pitch and vocal control. Every vocal run was a succession of deliberate perfectly chosen notes. Never did they feel forced or like she was searching for the correct pitch. Most importantly, every run was timely and appropriate to the music. Amberle has the talent to throw these runs in every verse of every song, but the savvy to hold them for the perfect moments.

Amberle also has an impressive vocal range. Although her low end is not always as strong, her phenomenal breath-control allows her to push through and hit her low notes. The only area where she could use some improvement is in her diction and enunciation of consonants in some of the songs. To be completely fair, the only reason I found it distracting was because I was looking for a flaw.

There was also great range in Amberle's guitar playing. Her style ranged from soothing and subtle to upbeat and poppy from one song to the next. She performed "Counting Stars" with such inflection and rhythm that it brought all of the power of the original without missing the full band accompaniment. Her arrangement of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Curiosity" was the song that really showcased her talent on the guitar and her gift for vocal control.

Amberle played Yellow by Cold Play when I requested it. She said it is one of her favorite songs. She proved it with her handling of her interpretation. Amberle gave the song such a soothing touch that added a delicacy the original could never reach. Her crescendo at the bridge was moving with an emotional weight that made me feel as though she could have written the song herself.

She performed two original songs during her set. Both were well composed and heartfelt songs of unrequited love. Her lyrics spoke to common emotions using direct and earnest language. "Never Let You Know" starts with her soothing finger-picking that embraces the listener as it transitions into heartfelt strumming. My original note was that the lyrics felt juvenile yet relatable; this was quickly explained when she announced the song was written at 14. The second original, "Unmine," carried the heartbreak of losing love with an upbeat rhythm that left me feeling hopeful in spite of the pain.

Amberly closed with "Killing Me Softly." She plays a beautiful inviting intro before kicking into a more jazzy rhythmic strumming. She sings this song like she has lived it. Again, her control is astonishing. She sneaks the perfect notes in from underneath the melody.

My only major complaint during Amberle's set was the sound quality. When I mentioned this she said she was in the process of buying new equipment. I also suggested not to run her fan during her set because it created a distorted warble. However, her talent and energy broke through the distraction to deliver 60 minutes of pure entertainment.

I suggest that the next time you're looking for a live show you check out Amberle Janniah. You won’t be disappointed!

Check out her schedule at
Also be sure to visit her Soundcloud at

Interview with Amberle Janniah

I sat down with Amberle in her home to get to learn a little more about her. The first thing I noticed was her full band studio set up. "Wouldn't be my place without some sort of place for music," she said with a smile when I commented on it.

Sean: So let's start with, what was your introduction to the SL music scene?

Amberle: I started performing on SL last year because of a few friends, from Paltalk, that convinced me to come back here.My account is around 5 years and 7 months but I've probably played on SL for only about 2 years, even less.
Performance-wise I've barely reached the 6 month timeframe.

Sean: I'm glad they convinced you to sing for us. How did you come to SL in the first place?

Amberle: The way I got my first gig was a bit special too, but we can talk about that later. Regarding your question, I discovered SL through a good friend of mine, Jane, who knew I loved playing games. Not that SL is much of game, since i consider it much more.

Amberle: At first I was hesitant, but when I read about Second Life I got curious and that curiosity still keeps me here up to now. Lots of things to learn.

Sean: That is very true. We tend to put a lot more of ourselves into it than we would Fallout 4 or World of Warcraft.

Amberle: I agree with that. SL provides a creative output that has no limit or clear objective. It's awesome.

Sean: I want you to tell me about that first show, but first I want to ask, were you playing shows in RL before you took up the SL Stream?

Amberle: I have played RL gigs but never just me. It was always with my former acoustic band. In RL, I focus on vocals.That's one of the reasons why it's a preference to pursue acoustic sets. I get to practice and make up for lost time, if you could call it that. XD

Sean: Do you play any other instruments?

Amberle: Yes, I also play the piano but I've always been partial to the guitar. XD

Sean: I get that. If I could play the drums for an SL set I would.

Amberle: Would be an interesting set. XD

Sean: So let's her about that first SL gig. What made it so special?

Amberle: Well, an acquaintance I met at O Lounge convinced me to play at Lyrics... nothing out of the ordinary, just a couple of songs to see how people would respond. It turned out pretty well and Mace Paul, who was listening, asked me to play another song because she wanted someone to hear me. I didn't know that the person was a venue owner. Mind you, I had to do it on local because my net was acting up and it wouldn't let me stream properly. Anyway, Mace TP-ed Brindimere into the venue and the rest was history. That was the start of many shows.

Sean: That's awesome! Can you describe how it felt that first time you played for an SL audience?

Amberle: I may seem more comfortable on stage now but I'm actually glad that I still feel some things that resemble the first time I played for an SL audience. It was nerve-wracking and scary, at first, then you feel a warmth that just encapsulates you and urges to just open your mouth and sing.
Time flies by so fast that you don't even realize how many songs you've done until you are prompted to check the time.

Sean: I know what you mean. It's those nerves that keep you focused and awake. There's an old theater adage, "I never want to go on stage with an actor who isn't nervous."
 So how do you pick the songs you want to learn?

Amberle: I listen to the radio.
That's just it.
I wish it were a more fancy picking process but straight up, I listen to songs on the radio or anything on the net.

Sean: You have such creative arrangements. of your cover songs. How do you come up with them?

Amberle: Now that's a bit more complicated to explain for me.
When I listen to a song, I tend to break down the things that I like and not like much about it. And when I play it on the guitar, I focus on what I want to bring out of the song and emphasize on it. It doesn't come easy all the time. Sometimes, if I really wanted to cover a song and nothing really sounds nice to me... I usually listen to different takes on the song. Every cover of the same song is a different highlight of the beauty of the melody and the meaning of the lyrics.

Sean: Yes! Well said!

Amberle:That eventually points me to something that I can use and brings a lot of elements together.

Sean: What are you favorite songs to play?

Amberle: Wahhhhhhh! That's the hardest question you've asked so far.

Sean: (laughs)

Amberle: I don't know how to answer that question without taking a million years.

Sean: I mean, I've already told our readers about your treatment of Yellow.

Amberle: My originals are definitely a part of the list. They're an extension of me, even if the songs weren't about my firsthand experience at all.

Sean: I know exactly what you mean!

Amberle: Killing Me Softly, I feel is my most ambitious take that I'm very much in love with, so that's part of the list too.
Adele songs too, hard as they are. They just get me going. XD

Sean: I feel that way when I do Bowie.

Amberle: At this point, I am very much tempted to say that everything on my song list is... but there are a few that take precedence over some others.

Sean: So you mentioned your originals. What is your writing process?

Amberle: I would describe it as organized chaos. There are times when I can finish a song within minutes but there are some that are reflections of bits and pieces of different days.Maybe even years. Back then I'd always have a small notebook handy. Not it's either I write on said notebook or doodle on my phone. Perk of technology. :D

Sean: So what else would you like the readers of SLE to know about you?
Amberle: Hmmm, second hardest question of the day. Apart from which are my favorite songs.

Sean: I am a hard hitting journalist.

Amberle: Honestly, there's not anything about that they wouldn't hear in my music.

Sean: That's a great answer!

Amberle: If anything, I'd like people to listen, even for a couple of songs. And hopefully after, they'd get a firsthand experience of what I want to achieve through my music: for my audience to feel.

Sean: And they can do that by clicking on the link to your schedule I've included in the article.

Check out her schedule at
Also be sure to visit her Soundcloud at

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Getting the MAX from SL's Live Music Scene: A Spotlight on Maximillion Keene- Sean Lerner Reporting...

I haven't been fully active in my Second Life for the past 6 or 7 years. Coming back into this world, I searched for something familiar to remind me of why I loved it here back then. For me that something familiar was always live music. There is no better way to get re-acclimated to SL's live music scene than catching a Maximillion "Max" Kleene show. He's a veteran performer in SL with the chops to prove it.

I'm sure this isn't the first time someone wrote a review of Max. He was performing in SL back when I was working the scene; and he can still crush it like he did back then. My intention is to write a critique from a fellow musician's point of view. In actuality, this is going to sound more like a fanboy blog post. That's not from a lack of objectivity, but rather from a string of nearly flawless performances.

It would be to easy to simply say Max plays cover songs. Although he doesn't write the songs he performs, he puts together arrangements with amazing artistry and craftsmanship. He performs every tune with such conviction and heart that each song becomes his own.

A song like "Closing Time" by Semisonic is practically standard issue for anyone playing cover songs. Despite the countless times I've heard this song performed in SL clubs and RL bars by every caliber of musician, Max makes it sound like the song was specifically written for him to play. His rendition even includes insights of lyrical analysis without ever missing a beat.

Max also played the Led Zepplin classic "Going to California." He masterfully captures Robert Plant's tenderness while adding his own vocal growl that projects and undeniable emotional connection to the song. The same could be said for his rendition of "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac. I will say that this song forces Max to push into the higher end of his vocal range. Even though I'd like to see his tweak the vocal arrangement just a touch, his guitar arrangement is so well crafted that it is hard to imagine the full band original.

His version of "Elanor Rigby" by the Beatles holds a special form of mastery. The original recording from Revolver was performed by a string quartet. Max has arranged the song for guitar in a way that not only captured the dark lyrics of the original, but also highlights the haunting loneliness through his steady strong strumming.

One more song from his set that I'd like to highlight is the 1961 Audry Hepburn hit "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's (not to be confused by the Deep Blue Something song by the same name that Max also crushed the last time I saw him). The original version of the song feels to me like it was a holdover from the music of the late fifties. This could be due to covers by crooners like Frank Sinatra and jazz artists like Louis Armstrong. Max, on the other hand, has arranged this classic to feel like a contemporary hit. He uses a crooning style of his own without ever trying to oversell it or give it that old timey feel that has come to be expected with this song. 

visit his web site at or look for his group Rhythm Collective