REVIEW: CALLING ALL ASTRONAUTS – EMPIRE 0 183

Two years on from the release of “Post Modern Conspiracy”, London alternative/electro rockers Calling All Astronauts have released the first track to be taken from their upcoming album “Anti-Social Network”, scheduled for release in February of next year.

“Empire” begins with a thumping drum beat which instantly grabs the listeners’ attention and with a vocal reminiscent of Billy Idol, there’s a distinct 1980’s feel to it, which certainly helps it stand out among the sea of modern-pop ballads and the like which continue to be blared from speakers on a regular basis. The lyrics themselves are quite simple, and so it is left to the somewhat unique vocal delivery to help improve the song on the whole.

There are also several remixes of the song so fans certainly aren’t restricted when it comes which version of the track they want to listen to, but it’s the original mix that, without question, works best of all.

The band have already earned themselves a strong following on Twitter (currently over 400K) and have received support from BBC 6Music among others. They might not be to everybody’s taste, but you can’t fault their effort and determination to maintain their place in an industry where so many artists have already fallen by the wayside.

 

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JOE MINOSO TALKS THE ‘CHICAGO FIRE’ MID-SEASON FINALE & WHAT 2019 HAS IN STORE 0 88

Having been acting since he was a teenager, Joe Minoso is no stranger to entertaining audiences, but it’s his role as firefighter Joe Cruz on the hugely successful series Chicago Fire that’s brought him to trans-Atlantic attention and earned him a growing army of fans and supporters. With the show airing its mid-season finale tonight, ThisIsTheLatest spoke to Joe about what fans can expect from the exciting episode, the many shows he’d love – and would have loved – to appear in and his advice for aspiring actors.

TITL: What is it about acting and performing that you enjoy so much? Do you still get that thrill and rush that you used to when you first started out?

Joe Minoso: Especially in television, I appreciate that there’s new stuff thrown at you all the time. As an actor, I think you get joy in figuring out the puzzle of being a character that is always evolving… Some days it can feel like you’re dealing with the drudge of any 9 to 5 job. But there are always days, even seven years later, where you can’t help but feel the electricity in the room.

TITL: Have you ever thought about taking up another career, or has it always just been about acting for you? 

JM: I have been acting since I was 15 years old and it’s always been my first love. I’ve recently started looking into directing. But if I weren’t an actor, I would probably be an editor. I think it’s probably the most fascinating part of what we do. It’s amazing how many things get dictated in the editing room.

TITL: What do you think it is about Chicago Fire that keeps fans so interested in the show? What’s its selling point?

JM: I think that family is the one thing that sets Chicago Fire a part, even from the other Chicago shows, and also our blend of action and comedy. First responders, firefighters and paramedics specifically, see some of the most horrific things you could ever see as a human. Because of that, they find themselves goofing off and finding excuses to laugh as often as possible. We strive to translate that on screen with every episode. I think that’s a quintessential part of the show, always being there to make each other laugh in the face of gruesome circumstances.

TITL: What first interested you in the role of Joe Cruz and how have you enjoyed his character arc and development as the show has gone on? 

JM: I was interested in any role that I can get when I got the role of Joe Cruz. I was just lucky enough to be hired. His name was originally Timothy Haze when I auditioned. Once I got the role, they changed the name to Joe Cruz. I would say if the character has evolved in anyway it would be more lighthearted than they originally planned. And maybe less of a ladies man.

TITL: The mid-season finale of the show is today, Wednesday 5th. Without obviously giving anything away, is there anything you can tease fans about what to expect from the episode in general and your character’s part in it?

JM: It’s actually a pretty big episode for Cruz. A girl he’s been seeing pretty seriously is involved in a major car crash. So the episode becomes about the emotional journey for Cruz as he has to navigate whether or not she will survive and also meeting her parents for the first time.

TITL: Any fun stories you can share from set this season? 

JM: I can say that Yuriy, along with my wife, planned a surprise party for my 40th birthday this year. Pretty much everyone from Fire and many people from the other Chicago shows were there. It was an incredible day filled with a treasure hunt, that led me to places from my past in the city. It ended with an incredible party at the Flamingo Rum Club with a Cuban band and dancers and drinks named after me. It really was insanely special.

TITL: You’ve also appeared in Shameless, Prison Break and Man of Steel, among several other big projects. Do you have any favourite memories or moments from your time on those sets?

JM: I just think it’s pretty funny when people ask me about Man of Steel and how impressed they are that I worked on that movie. I worked for one day, I am literally a blur on screen in that film. But it was incredible to be on such a big budget set. It was slightly overwhelming to see just how many people it took to take on an endeavor of that size. We were filming a major scene where a building basically falls on a bunch of citizens. I got to work with Laurence Fishburne. Tremendous experience.

TITL: Of the many projects you’ve been a part of, which might you say you’re most proud of? 

JM: Chicago Fire. I’ve had the opportunity to do the most varied work of my career on this show. I think Cruz is a really good guy with a big heart and that’s a lot of fun to play.

TITL: If you could appear in any other TV series, past or present, and not including the ‘Chicago’ group of shows, which would it be and why? 

JM: So many! The Wire, The Office, Breaking Bad, Westworld, Stranger Things, One Day At A Time, and Game of Thrones. I think the main reason for any of them is because they do amazing work in whatever regardless of genres. Whether comedy or drama or action, I consider them the pinnacle of what they do and it would be tremendously exciting to be a part of something like that.

TITL: Away from the screen, you’re involved with many charities and organizations notably Shriners Hospital For Children, the Salvation Army and WWF. How important is it to you that you’re able to give back and help the communities and people around you less fortunate than yourself, and speak out about issues that are important to you? Would you like to see more people in the public eye do the same? 

JM: I recognize that this job has given me something of a small platform where I can highlight causes that are important to me. I think it’s important for anyone who has a means to communicate with a large portion of the world, to be responsible and try to make that world a better place. Anything that I can be involved with that is helping children, or first responders is at the top of my priorities right now. I also recently lost my mother to a battle with cancer. So I have been trying to focus on cancer organizations that are working on raising money and awareness. The way I see it, if you have a pretty good lot in life, you have to reach out and help those who don’t.

TITL: Being on such a demanding show such as Chicago Fire must take a toll, so how do you unwind after a long shoot or hectic filming schedule comes to an end?

JM: My wife and I are big-time homebodies. We love to sit on the couch and either watch TV or listen to music or play board games. I would say during hiatus though, we try and take advantage of traveling when we can. My wife loves the outdoors and has turned me into something of a nature lover myself. we do our best to find waterfalls wherever we can.

TITL: What advice would you give to anyone just starting out in the entertainment business? Is there anything you wish you’d been told, or comment/piece of advice you always come back to and reflect on? 

JM: Be true to yourself. Be confident in your art.  Arrive prepared but ready to play. Be a professional but also a friend.

TITL: Are there any other projects in the pipeline you can tell me about? 

JM: Fire takes up a lot of the year but I’ve been meeting with writers about directing something, and I’m currently working on a pilot script with Christian Stolti and Yuri Sardarov. Just laying foundations for a future project.

TITL: Finally then, the holidays are just around the corner, as is 2019. What are your plans for the festive period and what does the new year have in store for you personally and professionally? 

JM: Spending time with the family. And resting as much as possible. I’m excited to have this year over with!  It was a rough year for me personally and I am happy to have the opportunity for a reset. Things feel like they are in an upswing though.  I’m very excited to have recently signed on with Abrams Artist and the opportunities that will bring. I look forward to cultivating a path forward with them and hope to see big things happen in 2019!

The mid-season finale of Chicago Fire airs tonight at 9/8c on NBC in the US and you can follow Joe on Twitter. Header photo credit: Brant Brogan.

RACHAEL CAIN CHATS “I AM HOUSE”, CAREER HIGHLIGHTS & FUTURE PLANS 0 77

In part somewhat responsible for bringing house music to both sides of the Atlantic in the 80’s and 90’s, Rachael Cain, AKA, Screamin’ Rachael has spent more than two decades of her life as an integral part of the music industry. Having just released her new single, “I Am House”, she spoke to ThisIsTheLatest to share her career highlights, her advice for music industry newcomers and her thoughts on where she sees the music business going in the future.

TITL: For those unfamiliar with the name, or your moniker, who is Rachael Cain, aka Screamin’ Rachael? 

Rachael Cain: I’m called Screamin’ Rachael because though I’m petite I make a big impact. When I enter a room I don’t even have to say a word but I’m SCREAMIN’!

TITL: Signed to the independent label Trax Records, you played quite a big part in bringing what is now known as House music to the masses in both the US and UK in the 80’s and 90’s. How big of a deal was and is that to you, both personally and professionally? 

RC: I started out signed as an artist to Trax Records, but these days I am President. I was mentored by Sylvia Robinson, the woman behind the legendary Sugar Hill label. When you think about entertainers who run labels these days, they are all men like Master P, Kanye and Jay Z. But back in the day, there was Sylvia…and today, there is me! What I did along with a small group of friends in the 80’s and 90’s only set the stage for the amazing things happening today. I am truly living out my vision for my career and the label. I’m proud to say that though I faced a lot of adversity, we are right where we belong today.

TITL: Looking at the music scene now, did you ever think House would remain as popular, albeit maybe in smaller circles, as it is today?

RC: These days, House music is bigger than it has ever been! Just look around, it’s everywhere. It seems all the huge EDM DJ’s are now calling themselves HOUSE! We were just sampled by Kanye West. In fact, he and Drake had a major beef over our beat that made it into Rolling Stone Magazine! I always knew that House Music was very special, and I always believed that someday the world would appreciate its importance.

TITL: You released your new single “I Am House” yesterday. What’s the story behind it and why did you decide that now was the right time to release such a track?

RC: The project was done with Joe Smooth, and the idea between us simply flowed. Joe came up with the title and a banging track. We decided to tell our story about the house lifestyle that we live. We‘re truly blessed. Beyond that, our mission is to bring people together and that’s what the spirit of House Music is all about. At the same time it’s tongue-in-cheek and fun! That’s why I live for and love House Music!

TITL: Are there plans for a new EP or album in the works? 

RC: Yes. Three years ago, I released a complete body of my work, “The Queen Of House” album. I’ve been putting together some great new work for the last year and a half, which includes collaborations with artists from the home of House in Chicago and some of my favorite artists from around the world. I am aiming for a spring release.

TITL: Any performances lined up you can tell me about? 

RC: There will be pop up shows everywhere for “I am House,” including a Holiday fundraiser at Vaunt in Chicago’s Water Tower Place. We will keep you posted via our website. It’s always been a dream of mine to get into the movie business. So at the moment we are rapping up our fourth film in NYC with director Eric Rivas. I’m acting as well as putting together the soundtrack. You can catch our first three movies, The Vamp Bikers Trilogy, on most digital platforms right now, distributed through Sony Orchard, the largest distributor of independent films. After we wrap up the fourth film, Japanese Borsch, I’ll finish up my album. Then you can catch me performing at Midem, the international music festival this spring in Cannes, France to launch it!

TITL: Having been a part of the industry now for more than two decades, do you think it’s improved, gotten worse or are things the same? 

RC: Change is always good. The minute we stop changing we are dead! The most important ability a human has is the ability to change and grow.

TITL: Could you pick the top three highlights of your career so far? 

RC: There are way too many wonderful highlights, so I’m going to pick the top 3 that come to mind.

1. Performing at The Fauna Primavera Festival in Chile with Marshall Jefferson. And Robert Owens on the Trax Stage.

2. Recording “Our House is Funkdified” in the studio with the George Clinton, producing and directing the vocals. 3.

3. Singing “Give Peace a Chance” in Central Park with Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Bob Geldolf, Jackson Brown, Afrika Bambaataa and a host of others.

It all seems like one great big dream!

TITL: Would you agree that social media is having a vast impact on artists and their careers today and do you think that needing to be so socially connected is a good or a bad thing? How do you personally feel about the likes of Twitter and Facebook? 

RC: Social media is both good and bad, yin and yang. I’m not great at it, I don’t have enough time for it, and frankly I’d personally rather be creating! But it really works well to break in for some people. I’m just glad I had history and credibility before it took over. Today people are judged more by their social media numbers than their talent. However, I really respect the rare breed that can be really talented and successful at social media at the same time.

TITL: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make their way in the music world? What three traits would you say they need to have in order to just get their foot in the door of this cut-throat industry?

RC: Here are the 3 traits I consider most important to get into this industry:

1. Be strong and true to your soul.

2. Decide that nothing can stop you.

3. Believe with all your heart.

If you have any doubts, don’t pick this life.

Never do it for the money because there are lots of easier ways to make that.

If fame is the only thing that drives you, no matter where it gets you, you will be very disappointed in the end.

TITL: Given how much people’s tastes in music change, what kinds of music do you foresee people listening to – and how – and seeing live five, ten years from now, and do you think artists can and will keep up with the constant evolution that occurs in the business? 

RC: Great music will always stand out. No matter what, a great piece of music will never lose its magic. How we will be listening and watching music is something no one can truly foresee, however I hope there’s a chance that we might go back to something more organic and live. However 3D holographic experiences are already part of the gaming aspect so who knows? I just hope we just don’t have things implanted in our bodies…

TITL: Finally then, having already seen numerous changes in the past two decades, where do you see the music industry going in the future and many years down the line, what would you want people to say about you when asked about your music and its place in history? 

RC: The music industry is growing and changing every day, and I’m glad that I’ve never been afraid to grow with it and accept its changes. One day I hope people will be inspired by my life and say Screamin’ Rachael was really an amazing woman! I love listening to her sound and I really respect the fact that she helped to shape a genre that changed the world of music…her story gave me courage to believe in my dreams and myself.

Check out “I Am House” below and to keep up to date with Rachael Cain, visit her website or follow her on Twitter. Header photo credit: Billy Hess.