Be Now Media – Max Preissner Helps Artists, Creatives and Entrepreneurs Achieve Success

Be Now Media team
Kyla McGrath, Max Preissner, Chris Simpson and Carter Smeader provide marketing, consulting and production services through Be Now Media. Photo – Kyla McGrath

Max Preissner understands the importance of being present and helping others.

The Ann Arbor hip-hop artist, entrepreneur and educator follows this personal mantra as founder and CEO of Be Now Media, a newly rebranded marketing agency, media production company and record label.

“This entire rebrand is based on my strongest core value, which is helping people with my knowledge and experiences. I used to think that was only possible through my own music,” said Preissner, aka Max Price.

“However, I recently realized that through Be Now Media I can increase my positive effect exponentially by helping people who help others.”

After struggling with anxiety and depression in his early 20s, Preissner read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment and learned how to be present.

“I learned that most of my suffering was coming from my thoughts. By focusing my attention on the present moment and my senses, I could calm or stop the thoughts and the suffering,” Preissner said. “I have tested this extensively, and it still holds true to this day.”

To focus on the present, Preissner started meditating and created a personal development plan that was inspired by different programs and teachings. Those efforts resulted in a renewed mindset, which helped him revisit his daily priorities and recalibrate his outlook on life.

“I’ve meditated every day for the past two years, and I decided to make self-management my No. 1 priority,” said Preissner, who holds a Master of Arts in music business from Berklee College of Music and teaches a “Self-Management for Artists” course at Washtenaw Community College.

“I have developed a routine and structure for myself that allows me to live in the most effective, efficient and authentic way possible.”

As a next step, Preissner decided to rebrand his MindState Marketing and Media company as Be Now Media. The rebrand better reflects the skills, values and passions he’s developed in life.

“This has provided me with an ultimate sense of purpose and fulfillment in life, and I want to share that experience with others,” Preissner said.

“It has led me to a place where I have turned my dreams into reality. The idea for the rebrand just came to me, and the name ‘Be Now’ represents everything that I’m about.”

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Carnival of Lost Souls – KDC Guild Confronts Hype Culture on ‘Cise Pavilion’ Concept Album

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KDC Guild’s David Brescia-Weiler and Kristopher Charles “KC” Malone spent two years bringing their “Cise Pavilion” album to life. Photo – Kenneth Walker

Two years ago, Kristopher Charles “KC” Malone experienced a transformative dream.

The Washington, D.C. producer entered a spooky carnival pavilion filled with existential challenges and lessons. After waking up, he shared the lucid dream with longtime friend and collaborator David Brescia-Weiler.

“It was a crazy, trippy dream. I was in this carnival, and people didn’t recognize me. I wanted to express what it was like, so I called David, and said ‘Hey man, would you want to make an album?’” Malone said. “I had never done anything like that and neither had David. It was a broad ambition that came from COVID and being inside … this was super lockdown time.”

Despite being in lockdown, Malone and Brescia-Weiler turned that life-changing dream into a vivid, musical reality. The duo formed a new creative collaboration called KDC Guild and embarked on an ambitious journey to develop and executive produce Cise Pavilion, a hip-hop, audio-narrative concept album filled with a global cast of 60-plus artists, musicians, audio engineers, actors and comedians.

“We weren’t necessarily trying to start a company; we just wanted to work on a project together. We were like, ‘We need to do this,’ because everybody was jumping on board and getting excited,” said Brescia-Weiler, who’s also based in D.C.

“We couldn’t have predicted people from Vegas, Berlin and LA would have suddenly said, ‘Yeah, I’ll go. Send me the contract, and I’ll do it.’ We grew with the process as well.”

KDC Guild’s Cise Pavilion vision quickly grew into a classic hero’s journey brimming with 11 valuable lessons (or tracks) along the way. The insightful album thoughtfully explores the concept of “cise,” a D.C.-based term for “hype,” through protagonist Malone’s personal experiences and interactions with others in a carnival-themed world.

Compelling “cise” metaphors for jealousy, greed, peer pressure, hyperbole and vanity sprout from the digital sphere and overflow into everyday life. With Cise Pavilion, KDC Guild advocates abandoning these toxic behaviors and creating a harmonious environment that promotes acceptance and authenticity.

“Part of the point of Cise Pavilion as a project and something we all grapple with is … that temptation (of ‘cise’) is always there. As much as I’d like to say I don’t need other people’s validations, I might get excited when I get a lot of Instagram likes versus more than I normally do,” said Brescia-Weiler.

“I think that’s an internal struggle that we all have, and it’s been a fun exploration, not just for KC and me, but we get to have an ongoing discussion with each person that’s part of the project. It’s given us a lot of time to think about it … because we’re in a social media age where do you have to puff out your chest and hype yourself up a little bit or try to get on the latest TikTok trend to be seen.”

Continue reading Carnival of Lost Souls – KDC Guild Confronts Hype Culture on ‘Cise Pavilion’ Concept Album

Independence Day – Druzi Baby Savors Freedom and Fulfillment on ‘I J Q S D’

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Druzi Baby embarks on a new quest for independence, ownership and fulfillment on “I J Q S D.”

These days, Druzi Baby relishes a newfound sense of personal freedom.

The Ypsilanti hip-hop artist and producer embarks on a new quest for independence, ownership and fulfillment on his latest introspective single, “I J Q S D (I Just Quit Sellin’ Dope),” now available on all streaming platforms.

“I literally just quit sellin’ dope last summer and was dead broke. Bills paid and all, but not much extra – it was time. I had some weird ass vibes while I was on vacation in Florida and just had a hard gut feeling it was time to move on in life,” said Drew Denton, aka Druzi Baby.

“In reality, there are so many better ways to make money. Yeah, it’s harder work, but there isn’t a price you can put on a peace of mind. I hope people can take away that you really ain’t gotta take yourself so seriously. Most people are living beyond their means and portraying an unrealistic lifestyle, and that shit ain’t sustainable.”

Throughout “I J Q S D,” funky electric guitars, shimmering beats, thoughtful electronic drums and confident bass encourage listeners to think ahead and move forward.

Druzi Baby thoughtfully reflects, “I can’t spend no more time livin’ outside of my means/I’ve been lyin’ to myself/That’s not following my dreams/Put my life at risk because I’m lazy/Had some other options/Didn’t take ‘em/Can’t stand these little jobs/All these people fake/Gotta be my own boss/That’s the only way.”

“I just turned 30 this year. I’m not about to be out here living a pipe dream. I just wanna work, take care of myself and my family, and make some music while I’m at it at this point,” said Denton, who wrote the track and produced the beat.

Druzi Baby also celebrates taking charge in his new “I J Q S D” video, which features him proudly strolling along empty Ypsi railroad tracks and conducting recording sessions at The Workshop. He teamed up with director Christopher Kulick to record and edit the project.

“I met Chris through our intern, M33shka, and (Chris) is out here a bit from California and just getting started shooting videos. I wanted to work with him because he’s got a good eye and needed some experience. We recorded most of it at my studio, The Workshop, here in Ypsi, and it was shot all in about two hours,” Denton said.

“My business partner/mentor, Mello, makes an appearance in the video. That’s the OG, he runs The Workshop with me. Super talented dude who definitely doesn’t get the shine he deserves because that dude has been putting in the work behind the scenes these past five to six years.”

Continue reading “Independence Day – Druzi Baby Savors Freedom and Fulfillment on ‘I J Q S D’”

Symphonic Tsunami – Skywerth Turns Pandemic Tide with Refreshing ‘Waves’ Single

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Skywerth blends metal, psych rock, industrial, prog and hip-hop on “Waves.” Courtesy photo

Last spring, Skywerth watched a bewildered nation quickly unravel before his stunned eyes.

The Detroit multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter felt overwhelmed by the social, economic and political upheaval arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I had just watched Ahmaud Arbery getting shot down in his own neighborhood and the music industry crumbling overnight all while looking at the incredible divide and conspiracy theories being pushed on social media,” he said.

That lingering frustration, disappointment and anger prompted Skywerth to pen his latest striking multi-genre, emotional-fueled single, “Waves,” featuring Hamtramck indie folk duo Jackamo.

“It was so apocalyptic, so I just wrote exactly what I was observing. Social media is tailored for you, so if anything pops up on your feed that is outside of your belief system, it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb, and your friends are going to say it’s wrong, too. No matter what it is, you are constantly being told that you’re right.” he said.

Now available on all streaming platforms, “Waves” elegantly rises with the genre-bending tides of metal, psych rock, industrial, prog and hip-hop into a symphonic tsunami. Thumping drums, tingling cymbals, swirling electric guitars, crawling bass and expansive synths quickly engulf listeners in a welcoming sense of relief and escape.

Skywerth reflects, “Alone in the waves with your eyes open wide, living in a paradise/Stare into the light/Hands upon the shore, eyes are getting sore/Here we are, caught in the eye of the storm/As the rain starts to fall, as the rain starts.”

“Lyrically, it’s a bit of a pessimistic song. If the song can make two people put their phones down and reconnect with one another in real life for two days, then it would make the year for me,” he said.

Skywerth also forges a beautiful musical connection with Jackamo’s Alison and Tessa Wiercioch, who provide somber, thoughtful harmonies on “Waves.”

“I fell in love with Jackamo the moment I heard them. We have mutual friends, and they also work with Steve (Lehane) at Rustbelt Studios. After writing the lyrics, I knew Ali, Tessa and I could do something pretty cool,” he said.

Along with Jackamo, Skywerth collaborated with Eric Hoegemeyer (soundscapes, synths), Matt Voss (drums) and co-producer Steve Lehane (bass, drum machines, production) on “Waves,” which initially started as an instrumental track.

“After the pandemic hit and I wrote the lyrics, I had this sort of organized chaos. Instead of being consumed by this confusion surrounding me, I had all my thoughts and observations laid out on something that was familiar and felt like home to me,” said Skywerth, who recorded the track at Royal Oak’s Rustbelt Studios and credited Lehane with transforming “Waves” into a vocal track.

“It wasn’t a conscious decision to weave all of these (multi-genre) elements together. I’ve got a bit of ADD, so when something sounds the same for several minutes I get bored. I need to change things a bit to keep me interested. I think the dynamics of the tune help outline the emotions felt from the pandemic.”

Skywerth brings those heavy emotions to life in his wistful new video for “Waves” as he ponders the pandemic’s ongoing impact with Alison Wiercioch in Hamtramck. Filmed and edited by Sara Showers and Cheyenne Comerford, the video also features footage of Skywerth performing live inside a vacant Magic Bag in Ferndale.  

“We started tossing around ideas for a video in late 2020, and we shot at The Magic Bag in February. It was quite unsettling being in the venue during the pandemic. We also shot in Hamtramck back in the spring, and it was a group of friends running around with a camera,” he said.

Continue reading “Symphonic Tsunami – Skywerth Turns Pandemic Tide with Refreshing ‘Waves’ Single”

Confidence Boost – FROSTisRAD Smashes Lingering Insecurities on ‘McLovin/The Ugly One’

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FROSTisRAD embodies a bold and brash mindset on “McLovin/The Ugly One.” Photo – Myron “TheMrMr” Watkins

Backed by hip-hop swagger and emo pop-punk tenacity, FROSTisRAD provides the ultimate confidence boost for angsty listeners.

The Detroit alternative rapper infuses courage, strength and authenticity into his latest insecurity-smashing single, “McLovin/The Ugly One,” now available on all streaming platforms. FROSTisRAD’s fearless multi-genre anthem delightfully draws inspiration from “Superbad’s” much-adored McLovin character.

“He was the man in that movie, like a lot of people overlook that. He was the realest one. He wanted to tell the homeboy, ‘Like Yo, we’re going to be roommates together. You just need to tell him,’” said Jeremy Ian Doneghy-Horrington, aka FROSTisRAD.

“He’s the only one who ended up with the girl at the end. He was rolling with the cops shooting the guns, like he was the man. He was overshadowed; he needed more props.”

Throughout “McLovin/The Ugly One,” FROSTisRAD instantly adds a sonic backbone as vivid, ascending electric guitars, booming bass, light cymbal taps and intermittent electric drums push listeners into unfamiliar territory.

In tandem, AV CLUB bandmates Armando De Jesus III (guitar, audio engineer), Antonio De Jesus (drums, film), VA (bass, multi-instrumentalist) and Myron “TheMrMr” Watkins (film/DJ) help FROSTisRAD solidify his bold and brash mindset.

FROSTisRAD reveals, “Pops told me right/Keep ’em at a distance/And everything is tight/I’m mostly talking shit/Yo/I don’t believe the hype/Lambo for the weekend/They can’t believe my life/I don’t give a fuck/This is nothing/Bitch I’m super bad/I’m McLovin/Yea/Got two on me/You the one I’m fucking/Bitch I’m super bad/I’m McLovin/Yea.”

That newfound “McLovin” self-assurance also prompts FROSTisRAD to accept his true self and look past others’ shortcomings and hang-ups. He developed the initial reflective concept for the track while recording it in his home studio.

“I know I’m gonna be friends and forgive people when they do shit. Because that’s just my nature, it’s the kinda guy that I am. It’s just a battle in my head if I’m gonna stay mad at people,” said Doneghy-Horrington.

“I feel everyone doesn’t do things purposely or intentionally to hurt each other. It’s just based on how they’re feeling that day, and they don’t know how to fucking manage the way that they feel or treat people sometimes.”

Continue reading “Confidence Boost – FROSTisRAD Smashes Lingering Insecurities on ‘McLovin/The Ugly One’”

Return on Investment – LovelyOcean Relishes Artistic Focus on ‘No Down Payment’

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LovelyOcean celebrates pursuing her artistic endeavors on “No Down Payment.” Illustration courtesy of artist

For LovelyOcean, a full-time focus on music will pay dividends for years to come.

The Los Angeles hip-hop singer-songwriter relishes the freedom and gratification of pursuing her emerging creative endeavors on “No Down Payment,” now available on all streaming platforms.

“I like to think of ‘No Down Payment’ as a form of background motivation. It’s like, ‘Yeah, this music isn’t paying any of the bills yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t someday.’ I think it’s important that we continue to work on things we love as to not get worn down by work, life and other bullshit,” said LovelyOcean.

“Up until this point, I had been working in the social work field, and it was killing my spirit. But it served as the biggest motivation to work on music so I could get out. I quit my job back in March, and I’ve never felt better.”

LovelyOcean celebrates her “No Down Payment” independence as shiny, cyclical synths, jumpy bass and gentle percussion smoothly glide alongside hypnotic, ‘90s-esque beats.

She reflects, “Just trying to break the mold/They warned me as a youth/Back when I played with dough/Things come natural/Need it off top/The world is gonna feel my flow/No static/We live from the radio/Tryna make it through/Ima shine like I was radial/And have a packed house/Up at SoFi Stadium.”

“Somedays I’m like, ‘Damn, I really wish this shit would pay off soon.’ It can be really discouraging to put your all into music, but no one is really fucking with it. I don’t like to have to ask people I’m close with if they’ve listened to the song. I don’t like begging for support,” LovelyOcean said.

“I’ve been using this time to recover and refocus so I can work on an album, but at this moment my songwriting waterfall is kinda dry. I’m glad I don’t feel stressed by work anymore, but I do feel more pressure to be artistic.”

LovelyOcean started co-writing her creative autonomy anthem with Chuck Chill in January. They recorded the track together in their magical closet studio and watched it quickly flourish over several days.

“It took about two days for the song to be written and probably two days to record it. I’ll spend one day recording it so I can get comfortable with it, and then I’ll record it another day so I can really solidify the vibes. Chuck Chill came up with the concept for the song and the majority of the lyrics,” she said.

“This is the first time I have ever let someone else take over the writing, but I knew he would do the song justice because he’s an excellent artist. Chuck Chill and I have collaborated on multiple tracks so far. He was featured on ‘Theta Waves’ on my last EP, and I’ve been featured on a few of his mixtapes.”

Continue reading “Return on Investment – LovelyOcean Relishes Artistic Focus on ‘No Down Payment’”

Fantastic Voyage – Nick Behnan Embarks on Instrumental ‘Magic Trip’ Album Odyssey

Nick Behnan glides from one genre-filled world to the next on his latest instrumental album, “Magic Trip.”

Backed by timeless grooves, majestic electric guitars and funky beats, Nick Behnan effortlessly embarks on an enchanting instrumental journey.

The Detroit singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist beautifully glides from one hypnotic genre-filled world to the next on his latest 10-track, funkified R&B-rock odyssey, Magic Trip.  

Initially written and recorded for sync licensing opportunities, each fluid, spellbinding track showcases Behnan’s versatility, prolificacy and creativity as an evolving songwriter and producer.

“I’ve never released an instrumental album before that shows my love for all genres. My main focus was to pick songs that were groovy, funky and somewhat up-tempo, but I try to write and produce the same way that I listen to music as a fan,” Behnan said.

“I never just listen to one kind of music all night. It will roll from Gregory Isaacs to The Congos to The Bee Gees to Prince to Wilco to Radiohead to Kendrick Lamar to Beck and many others all in one night. The trick was picking the songs because I have so many; I could easily put out five albums right now.”

While Magic Trip eloquently blends Behnan’s eclectic, refreshing influences, it instantly soars into a laid-back, welcoming sonic adventure on the jam-tastic, improvisational title track. Shimmery, wah-wah electric guitars, majestic bass, whirring synths and soft drums recreate the sound and feel of a sunny, breezy spring day in the mind’s eye.

“Several of the songs were made mostly with TV and film licensing in mind while others were started a few years ago. Some songs like, “Magic Trip” and “Inner City Funk” are brand new. Overall, I hope people feel good when they listen to it and enjoy grooving and rocking out to the music,” he said.

Continue reading “Fantastic Voyage – Nick Behnan Embarks on Instrumental ‘Magic Trip’ Album Odyssey”

Made to Heal – The Stratton Playlist December 2020 Edition Provides Soothing Escape

As the year (thankfully) comes to a close, we reflect on the strength, grit and willpower that slowly got us through. Together, we relied on new soothing, hopeful tracks that provided a welcome escape from the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation, political rifts, grief and loss.

Uplifting, rewarding bits of indie folk, country-pop, folk rock, psych rock, shiny lo-fi soul, reggae, dreamy pop, chill hip-hop and experimental art rock demonstrate the courageous creative and emotional spirit we all share heading into 2021.

The latest edition of The Stratton Playlist provides an introspective sonic path for healing, reflection and growth. Featured musical healers and friends include Lily Milo, Meredith Shock, Mark Jewett, The Soods, Dani Darling, Joss Jaffe, Ava Panza, Blaksmith, Dirt Room and more.

Thank you for everyone who supported The Stratton Setlist in 2020. It’s an honor to feature you and the share wonderful music you create today and tomorrow. Interested in becoming part of The Stratton Playlist on Spotify? Send your submissions to strattonsetlist@yahoo.com. All artists and genres welcome.

The Flight Team Hosts Toys for Tots Donation Drive, Livestream Show Saturday at Grove Studios

An Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti hip-hop group will brighten the holidays for Washtenaw County children in need.

The Flight Team will host the “Super Fly Toy Drive and Live Show” Saturday, Dec. 19 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Grove Studios, 884 Railroad St., Suite B in Ypsilanti.

The holiday-themed event will include a contactless drive-thru collection for Ypsilanti Toys for Tots donations and a virtual livestream telethon featuring performances from The Flight Team’s Dre Dav, King Micah The Infamous, Villin, Brad Spliff, DJ Nitro and other local artists.

“We know Christmas is especially hard on people this year due to the pandemic and the loss of employment so we want to help ease some of the stress and make kids smile along the way. Some of us have benefited from programs like this when were young so it’s nice to be able to give back,” said Neiko “DJ Nitro” Thomas-Cook of The Flight Team.

For Saturday’s event, community members can donate and drop off new, sealed toys at a curbside collection bin located outside Grove Studios, a 24/7 self-service recording and rehearsal space. All toys must be unwrapped and sanitized before they’re donated. No plush toys will be accepted this year.

“All the donations will be given to Toys for Tots the following day when we plan to volunteer and help them sort through the donations we provided. Toy donations will be accepted at five other locations through Saturday, and people are also invited to make monetary donations online,” Thomas-Cook said.

Once community members drop off Toys for Tots donations at Grove Studios, they will be able to catch The Flight Team’s livestream telethon via Facebook and Instagram. The fun event will allow the group to personally connect and engage with fans for the holidays.

“We’ll be playing Christmas tunes, trivia and silly-themed games for your entertainment and have some special surprise performances from local favorites. We want to prompt people to come back and give to a community that has given us so much,” Thomas-Cook said.

“Grove is becoming an important pillar in the artistic community here in Ypsilanti. It’s a hub for The Flight Team where we can practice and have group meetings in a professional environment. We wanted to partner with Grove for the simple fact that it’s an awesome environment to throw a show and perform.”

To support The Flight Team’s “Super Fly Toy Drive and Live Show,” donate a toy at one of the following locations below by Saturday. You can also make a monetary donation online through Sunday.

The Mike C Collection

226 W. Michigan Ave. Bldg. Ground Floor

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Suite 328 Recording Studio

239 S. Ford Blvd.

Ypsilanti, MI 48198

Leon Speakers

715 W. Ellsworth Road

Ann Arbor, MI 48108

The Workshop Recording Studio

317 Ecorse Road, Suite 12

Ypsilanti, MI 48198

Ypscity

2898 Washtenaw Ave. D

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Grove Studios

884 Railroad St., Suite B

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Beneath the Surface – Dirty Ol’ Men Reveal Tenacious Tales on ‘Six Feet’ Album

Dirty Ol’ Men recorded “Six Feet” during the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The album’s iconic cover dates back to the Elaine Massacre of 1919 and features seven of 12 men who were wrongly prosecuted and executed for an “attempted insurrection” in Elaine, Arkansas.

For Six Feet, Dirty Ol’ Men keep it 100.

The international collective of hip-hop producers, musicians and curators reveal compelling conversations, thought-provoking narratives and tenacious tales about social injustice, systemic racism, internal struggles and personal aspirations on their latest quarantine-fueled album.

“The songs that came out are representative of the discussions and conversations we have as men when we’re not recording. Because as a group, we still get together on a weekly basis or sometimes two to three times a week to just talk. We have members of our collective who may have autoimmune situations, so they haven’t been able to be out and about,” said Rod Wallace, a metro Detroit hip-hop producer.

“We have members of our group who have been through a lot in the last few months. A part of what we do is support them by meeting up and talking regularly; even a song like ‘Piss’ is a song that represents us playfully jiving with each other and talking crazy. It all was just very organic.”

Wallace and his Six Feet collaborators spent the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic writing, recording and producing the project’s seven raw, honest tracks through Songlab TV, an innovative, online one-session approach to songwriting that’s documented by Digital Hustle Films.

“When COVID hit, we decided to build something called Songlab TV where a sample or an idea is given to a producer who makes a beat while a rapper writes and records their verses and an engineer mixes it,” said Wallace about Dirty Ol’ Men’s creative approach for Six Feet.

“Four of the seven songs on the album came from that process; while the other three, they just weren’t recorded, but they went through a similar process. We acknowledge that a lot of music is made that way these days, but a lot of it isn’t made at the time because those four songs were synchronous experiences.”

Executive produced by Wallace and Anthony “Gadget” Mims, Six Feet serves as Dirty Ol’ Men’s second release this year since dropping the Motor City-fueled East Grand in February. Collaborators from Michigan, California, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois and Japan brought initial stems, beats and samples online to share their profound musical conversations with listeners.

Continue reading “Beneath the Surface – Dirty Ol’ Men Reveal Tenacious Tales on ‘Six Feet’ Album”