Heels & Picks: Jookbox City brings the love

Apr. 22, 2014 | 0 Comments


From left, Aaron Friedman, Kahnma K and Rawnie Lovely of Jookbox City. (Star-Advertiser File)

From left, Aaron Friedman, Kahnma K and Rawnie Lovely of Jookbox City. (Star-Advertiser File)


BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser

You just can’t leave a bar when all of the songs you’ve chosen on the jukebox have yet to play out. Am I right?

No matter how ready you are to hit the next location or head home, if you’re still waiting to get your dollar’s worth from that machine, you’re not going anywhere.

jookbox city coverWhat if I were to tell you there is another jukebox that could use your dollars this week to help launch an album, kick off a tour and get original music to the people?

Oahu-based band Jookbox City has just two days left on their Kickstarter campaign, and they could sure use your support.

Here’s the deal: At some point, no matter who you are, artists need investors to reach their goals. All of the content they create to get to those who crave their talents costs a lot of money. Studio time, session musicians, time for writing, rehearsal space, videos, styling, photo shoots, tours – these are all costly endeavors.

Back in the day, major labels were the apple of a musical artist’s eye, with the funds to support marketing the album you worked so hard on. At the same time, the old-school label system only made artists about a buck per record sold.

Now labels scramble to figure out new ways to make money, while sites like Kickstarter, Pledge Music, Patreon and Indiegogo allow for patrons of the arts to place their money directly with creators.

For Jookbox City, a band barely a year old, reaching their Kickstarter goal of $10,000 will allow them to press and release their debut album, “Kill ‘Em With Love.” The band, comprised of lead singers Rawnie Lovely and Kahnma K, bassist Aaron Friedman and singer/guitarist Candy Diaz, hopes fans will help support their desire to bring their musical messages of love to the masses.

Jookbox City performs at The Republik during the annual Motown Valentine's concert in February. (Star-Advertiser File)

Jookbox City performs at The Republik during the annual Motown Valentine’s concert in February. The band is trying to raise $10,000 via fundraising website Kickstarter.com by Thursday. (Star-Advertiser File)

I recently spoke with Friedman about the album, the incentives offered via their Kickstarter and staring down flowers in the barrel of a gun.

ERIN SMITH: Does “Kill ‘Em With Love” lean more towards reggae, or does it have a more pop vibe?

AARON FRIEDMAN: It is a reggae album and definitely keeps a classic vibe on many of the songs, but we also bring in a lot of modern influences. The riddims are classic, but we might add some synthesizers or vocal effects on top that give a more modern sound.

We have an idea we are working with called Cultural Pop, which is best exemplified on the songs “Dance!” and “Live the Life” (on the new album). They are basically modern pop songs, but done in a reggae style.

ES: Who are some of your band’s biggest influences?

AF: We have a big variety of influences in our music, with the biggest ones being reggae and R&B/hip-hop. We like to say, “imagine if Michael Jackson was born in Jamaica.” Of course, the reggae greats like Bob Marley and Toots and the Maytals are an influence; we all came up in the 90’s and early 2000’s, so the music of that era plays a big influence as well.

At our shows we do covers of artists like the Fugees and Outkast, and on the album we pay tribute to Aaliyah with a cover of “Are You That Somebody?” But then we also have a Motown medley we do. We like to bring in a wide variety of music.

Jookbox City lead singer Rawnie Lovely. (Star-Advertiser File)

Jookbox City lead singer Rawnie Lovely. (Star-Advertiser File)

ES: Of all the perks offered in your Kickstarter campaign, which is the one fans should be most excited about?

AF: There are a lot of great rewards, so it really comes down to what you are most into. I think for an experience to remember, the beach BBQ is the best, but that may just be because I know how much I love to BBQ and personally think my BBQ is pretty good. Plus, you get an personal live performance.

ES: There even more creative incentives to be found, like a jingle written by the band or a bathing suit designed by Kahnma’s Earth Angel Swimwear. Is giving fans a chance to connect with the band important to you?

Jookbox City's latest addition, singer/guitarist Candy Diaz. (Courtesy Candy Diaz)

Jookbox City’s latest addition, singer/guitarist Candy Diaz. (Courtesy Candy Diaz)

AF: That is important to us and why we offered such rewards. We want to offer something that is unique and creates a connection between us our fans. The ways the music business have changed, along with the Internet and social media has made it very possible for bands to connect directly with their fans. We think that is important to do, and want to be a part of that.

ES: Where do you plan to tour after the album launches?

AF: We want to play some shows around the islands. We haven’t played on Maui or the Big Island yet, so we hope to go out there after the album release, as well as go back to Kauai. After that, we plan to go on a tour of the West Coast, starting in Vegas, then Arizona and work our way up from San Diego to Seattle.

ES: Your band has only been together for a year. How has fan response affected the recording process?

AF: It has been a big force. When we released our first single, “Wishing Well,” it was the only finished song we had at the time and we weren’t really ready when it blew up. The response to that song was just amazing, and we realized we had to get in gear and get the album done.

It’s taken longer then we planned, but the end result is great and worth the time.

ES: Where can we catch Jookbox City next?

AF: Our next gig is on Kauai on May 17 at the No-GMO Concert at the Church of the Pacific. We have a few gigs in the works, which will be listed on our website.
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.


CORRECTION: Pulse blogger Erin Smith interviewed Jookbox City’s Aaron Friedman. He was incorrectly identified as Rawnie Lovely in the original version of this post.

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