Laura Lizcano’s debut, full-length album, Heart, is the soothing album we’ve all been needing in 2020. Weaving folk and pop sounds into her existing jazz repertoire, Lizcano provides us a relaxing, beautiful and interesting blanket of music to wrap ourselves up in, just in time for just in time for Fall, the start of cold weather (theoretically) and what I can only assume could be somewhat of a lonely hibernation for a lot of us. I am actually looking forward to spending cozy nights alone in the living room with a cup of tea, reading a book and listening to this album. Laura spoke to us about her background in music, the “in between” place that she inhabits being an immigrant from Colombia, and the themes she explores, including tinder dates, emotional grounding and workplace burnout. Enjoy!



When did you start playing music? What inspired you to start playing and writing your own music?

I've always wanted to play music! When I was little, my brother was going to college, and he was studying classical bass performance. I was always surrounded by music thanks to him, and I think it just permeated me and it's been a life-long dream to just be surrounded by music all the time.

My earliest music-making spaces were in school-- I loved singing in the choir. And in middle school and high school I was the type of kid that was in all of the after-school music related things. There are some really embarrassing pictures of me as the drum major in marching band with a gigantic orange, black, and white plume. But It loved it!

I started writing songs in high school, and I discovered that I just wanted to do it for the rest of my life.


How do you describe your sound? Who or what influences your sound?

I describe my sound as Norah Jones mixed with Natalia Lafourcade. I don't really mess with electronic sounds that much because I love the sound of acoustic instruments. And there's a lot of jazz and contemporary Latin American songwriting running through the album.


What themes did you explore in these songs?

There's a lot of love throughout the record, but not just the gooey love. I write a lot about friendship and family, and I think there's a lot of things in here about how love is often complicated. While I was writing "Corazón," I was thinking about vulnerability and how difficult it can be. We can leave things unsaid or say things that are very hurtful. And I think that is kind of the unifying thread of this whole album-- I was just trying to be really vulnerable and honest.


What is your songwriting process?

I'm a very lyric-drive person, so the lyrics almost always come first. I'm a big fan of free-writing. So, I have this system where I set a timer for 20 minutes and I free write. Then, I read it back and underline the words or phrases that I really like. Then, I set the timer for another 20 minutes and do it again with the new phrases or ideas in mind. I read that new piece to myself, underline and circle the things that I love, and then I do the whole 20 minute thing one last time. From there, I start to build out verses or choruses. Sometimes, I give myself syllable structures. And that's how most of my songs get started. Once I have like a bone-structure of the song, I start to add the music.


What do you hope people get out of listening to the new album? What did you get out of writing this album?

I hope people can identify and feel seen with some of these things. I don't think I'm the only one who feels the work place burn out, or the only one who has been on tinder dates and hooked up and done that whole thing. I close out the album with "Song of Gratitude," because there are so many emotions running through the record, and I also felt like it needed one grounding piece. And don't we all need that right now? This is such a difficult time! It's not just the pandemic or the current political crisis. I think we forget that everything that has exploded now was boiling under the surface pre-pandemic. The problems are just hard to ignore now.

This album was all about me learning to love my musical identity. I went to school for jazz voice, but I don't think it completely fits me. I had to kind of break myself free from that and embrace all the different things that I love putting into my music. This made the whole process a very personal one, because it has always been a struggle for me to truly be myself. Especially as an immigrant, I often feel like I'm not completely part of the U.S., but I've also been here for so long that I'm not completely a part of Colombia, either. So, I describe it as this "in between" place that I inhabit-- and my music is very much like that. It's in English and it's in Spanish, and there's jazz and folk and pop, and it's influenced by Latin American songwriters and jazz traditions. So, It's a reflection of the melting pot that is my brain and my identity. I'm not interested in fitting into any box, really. I find it really freeing that my music his hard to pin down into genre, because I'm a complex human, and I want to celebrate that!

I guess I want other people who are like me, which is all people really, to feel free to be who they are even if they don't necessarily fit into a predetermined identity.

Which Philly bands or artists do you think we should check out?

Hailey Brinnel, Dariel Peniazek and Kalectiv, ThebandIvory, and Daniel de Jesus! Omg have you heard Daniel's album of cello/voice covers? There's an incredible cover of Joga by Björk in there that I super highly recommend!

You can listen to Heart here and follow Laura on instagram here!




by Kristen Levine

original photo by Allis Chang


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Philly Music Fest 2020 as it was first conceived last fall, fell apart in July 2020 when independent venues across town realized they wouldn’t be able to open their doors to a crowd in just a few short weeks. With COVID-19 restrictions, there was simply no way the festival could proceed as in years past. PMF founder and curator Greg Seltzer was at a standstill. But like he told me over the phone a few days ago, “you have to have some creativity on the production side of music.”

“The industry has been deferential--almost exclusively--to the artist community for creativity. And now the producers, the venues, the industry need to step up and be innovative. It’s on us now to be creative.”

The same week Greg canceled Philly Music Fest 2020 as he knew it, he received an offer from Ardmore Music Hall to live stream the festival. Refusing the call to action, Greg replied that he didn’t want to see another zoom show with Macbook audio capture filmed in bands’ living rooms. “Live stream fatigue” was fully setting in. Fortunately, that’s not what Ardmore had in mind.


Philly Music Fest 2020 will be live-streamed, yes, but with the production and setting you remember from last year. It’s been months since even the most devoted fans have seen a live stage performance, and with production from Ardmore’s Nik Greely, Chris Perella, and Julian Booker to name a few, we’ll have that experience again. “It seemed innovative to me,” says Greg.


The lineup this year, even with fewer bands, still runs the gamut of musical styles Philly has to offer. PMF lineups have always been unique in that they flow from the Americana genre to bluegrass to funk to indie rock to experimental jazz. “I need to showcase all of those disciplines because they're all vibrant in Philadelphia,” says Greg. Thursday’s lineup this year is headlined by indie pop superstar Japanese Breakfast and opens with improvisational trumpet player Arnetta Johnson (who you may recognize from Beyonce’s 2013 Super Bowl halftime show). And Friday's lineup welcomes back to town Langhorne Slim (who is driving up from Nashville) and Mt. Joy, who would've been on tour with The Lumineers.


From left to right: The Districts, Zeek Burse, Langhorne Slim, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Mt. Joy, Arnetta Johnson, Japanese Breakfast, and Arthur Thomas and The Funkitorium.


Besides shining talent, PMF has always been bolstered by support from the community, and this year is no different. Watch parties are cropping up all over the city for Philadelphians to watch PMF in small groups. Victory Brewing, Love City, and Roy Pitz are all screening the fest on large screen projectors. And in King of Prussia, Barney Cortez is opening with a live set before Workhorse Brewing’s screening.


However you watch, whether it’s outside at an event or from home, please donate as if you were paying for a ticket. Funds raised by Philly Music Fest are invested in the next generation of musicians via music education nonprofits in the hope that students today may play our city’s stages in the future. Support for PMF means support for our city’s music scene in its full lifecycle, from students to emerging artists to household names.


CVZ is thrilled that Philly Music Fest will go on (not without a hitch) this year, and we can’t wait to celebrate Philadelphia’s talent on Thursday 7-10pm and Friday 7-11pm at https://phillymusicfest.com/watch.


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Godcaster released their debut LP yesterday, Long Haired Locusts, which they describe as “full of crazy rock gymnastics, filled with the lead singer/guitarist Judson Kolk's psycho-sexual fantasy worlds, which is also reflected in the incredible album art that accompanies each release.” They tell us that their only influence is Led Zeppelin, but we’re hearing a wholeeee bunch of other artists, the most obvious being Of Montreal and Tame Impala. (Which, if we’re being real, were probably also influenced by Led Zeppelin in one way or another).



With song titles like Apparition of Mother Mary in my Neighborhood and Christ in Capsule Form reminiscent of early 2000’s pop-punk darlings like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disc, it’s clear that these guys are genuinely having a good time writing these songs. That energy and light-hearted attitude really shines through on the album as well as through our interview with Judson. They seem to know exactly what they want, they have a single-minded focus, and they’re doing whatever it takes to achieve the “biggest sound.”


When did you start playing music? What inspired you to start playing and writing your own music?

The mustard seed of this band was set into motion a long time ago when Bruce (bass guitar) and I (Judson Kolk) were children in approximately 2007. We've had all kinds of bands and there's been a revolving door of characters involved, but that's all done now. Now we stomp. Now we are Godcaster. Bruce and I were very fortunate to grow up in homes and with parents that celebrated and encouraged art and music. Slowly our childlike eyes opened wider and wider to the sound and power and like so many others we were enlightened to build our own music.


Who was involved in the making of the album?

The band Godcaster is: Judson Kolk (vox, guitar), David Mcfaul (keys, vox), Von Lee (vox, flute, tambourine), Bruce Ebersole (bass guitar, vox), and Sam Pickard (drums, percussion).

Live and recording collaborators have included: Lindsay Dobbs (trombone, vox), Bailey Wollowitz (trumpet, vox, slide guitar, tambourine, percussion), Jan Fontana (bass guitar), Dom D'Altilio (bass guitar) and Will Lauzon (guitar)

Recording Engineers have included: Ryan Power, Jack Hubbel and Will Lauzon

We recorded our forthcoming record "Long Haired Locusts" in a Philadelphia basement with the tall and fantastic Ryan Power

How do you describe your sound? Who or what influences your sound?

Strong and loud. Led Zeppelin.

What themes did you explore in these songs?

Carnal sciences, big schemes.

What are your proudest accomplishments with music?

Playing with Of Montreal and Guerilla Toss and driving through the desert and around the country.

What’s your songwriting process? Words before lyrics, or vice versa? Do you have to be at home, or do things come to you in pieces when you’re out?

I (Judson) write song skeletons on acoustic guitar with all the chords, some melodies, and no words and then we proceed to build them into hulking structures as a rock band. Words come very last after long periods of songful utterances. I don't have to be at home. Things come to me in pieces when I'm out.

What are your goals with music? What kind of future do you imagine for yourself?

Our Quest and thirst is for the biggest sound. It's hard to get loud. I mean, truly loud. The kind of loud that lifts and fills you. Few have done it, and Godcaster intends to! We imagine a future of living on the coin of our export: rock music.

Is there anything that I didn't ask that you'd like our readers to know?

Soon Godcaster will be one of the loudest rock groups. Thank you!


If you’re one of the first 50 people to buy the album, you also get a book of some wild, original artwork by Judson himself. You can listen the the album HERE and follow Godcaster on Ingstagram HERE!


By: Kristen Levine

Original Photo by: Michael Todaro (@michaeltodaro)


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