Sunday, October 28, 2012

HEAR THIS/INTERVIEW: Lauren Mayhew Causes 'Mayhem'

Please excuse my utter excitement but you have officially stumbled upon an artist that I have a long standing connection with.
Lauren Mayhew, an actress, television host and musician, has recently unveiled her latest solo exploit via the 2012 EP Welcome To My Mayhem, released under her new stage moniker 'Mayhem', a play on her last name. The 6-track EP  (with one additional remix) fits in quite nicely to this electro-soaked dance-obsessed pop music landscape -- much of it would read quite nicely into any dance club playlist ("Turn Me On" or "I'm Not Her" comes to mind), and is available for purchase on iTunes. The sound is decidedly more of a fusion of crunchy electric guitar with dance music. According to Lauren herself, its akin to Lady Gaga mixed with Joan Jett.
However, press rewind for a sec back more than ten years ago to 1999. Lauren first made her splash onto the pop music scene as 1/4 of the girl group PYT, an Epic Records signee made up of four real-life BFFs from Tampa. I first came in contact with the girls that year when I saw them open for 98 Degrees and Britney Spears in a one-off joint concert at the New York State Fair (the other opening act: No Authority -- ahh, the late 90's). I immediately snapped up their single, "Something More Beautiful" and became an ardent fan, as the group felt like a celebrity version of myself and my friends -- it was made up of girls in their teenage years and all for of them were just a few months older than I was. Two years later, the group released their debut album, PYT (Down With Me), and two music videos ("Down With Me" -- still my jam -- and "Same Ol' Same Ol'") before calling it quits. Lauren and grouppmate Lydia Bell branched off with their own duo pop group, dubbed Turning Pointe, before the lights on that also went dark and Lauren began focusing on acting and her own education, graduating from UCLA.
Since those many moons ago, Lauren has been wheeling and dealing -- whether it's appearing in a handful of films and television (most recently on Showtime's Dexter), as an entertainment hosting correspondent for the likes of "Access Hollywood" or FOX Entertainment in Japan, or even as a ring-side announcer for the WWE. Um, that's what we call range. Lauren isn't satisified with just one label in the entertainment world, she wants to do it all. As Mayhem, she's recently completed a tour in Asia (I love it when my musical words collide).

Take a look at her recent music video for "Look Inside", available on the EP Welcome to My Mayhem. (You rock that eyepatch, girl!)

As a longtime fan of Lauren from her PYT days of olde (I'll be honest when I say, Lauren was my fave -- curly haired chicks need to stick together), I was so psyched to get to ask her a few questions about her acting career as well as her current transformation as Mayhem. Make sure you check out the full EP Welcome to My Mayhem on iTunes, CD Baby and Spotify, as well as follow Lauren on Twitter via @LCMayhew. Thanks so much, Lauren!
MEL: You are the ultimate Triple Threat with regular gigs hosting, acting and performing your own music. Which area do you feel most comfortable?
Lauren: I love them all for different reasons. I think they each fulfill a separate side of my personality. Hosting - my outgoing nature, Music - my expressive and creative side, and Acting - my desire to explore other lives, worlds, people, emotions and escape to someone else's life.

In terms of your acting, can you tell us a little bit about your recent experience with "Dexter"? What was the cast like on set?
The cast was amazing. Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter are true professionals. I became closest with Matt Gerald, who plays my killer- love interest. He was a ton of fun on set. We were jamming out to music while getting ready in hair and makeup.

You've recently unveiled your musical alter-ego as 'Mayhem', a decidedly edgy sound. What inspired this project?
I love EDM. And I love rock music. Fuse the two together and the 'Mayhem' sound was born. I think the international EDM sound is something people around the world relate to. I just wanted to put my own stamp on it by sprinkling it with live edgy electric guitar riffs that'll get caught in your head.

Which song off the 'Welcome To the Mayhem' project is your personal favorite and why?
Probably "I'm Not Her." I feel like you can't help but dance once that beat drops. Also, I think the message is important. People shouldn't hold others accountable for mistakes that they didn't make. They should start each relationship as a fresh beginning.

What is your process like in the studio? Are you more of a studiohead or a live performance
kind of person?

I love both, but NOTHING is better than performing live and feeding off of a crowd.

Lauren Mayhew for T-5, a jewelry line in Japan. For more info, click here.

You've been spending quite a bit of time in Asia. What's that been like in comparison to the music/Hollywood scene here in the US? Any musical acts over there you've been enjoying?
Asia has been a wonderful experience. Most of the stuff I have been working on has been in Japan. I did a 7 date tour in of the Tokyo clubs, hosted a show called "Backstage Pass" for FOX INTERNATIONAL, and am also going to be the face of new jewelry line : T-5. Their stuff is amazing! Each piece is custom picked out specifically to your birthdate to give you luck! The music scene there is pretty rad. There's a lot of old school bands I liked when I was younger that I got to see as Simple Plan. :) I saw them perform, and then they came and saw me. :)
PYT L to R: Tracy, Lauren, Ashley & Lydia
I was first introduced to you more than ten years ago (can you believe it's been that long?!) through PYT in 1999. Do you still keep in touch with the other ladies?
Here and there. I used to speak to Tracy [Williams] {also pursuing a solo music career} the most. They were my absolute best friends, but we are now scattered all over the US, so it's not as easy to keep in touch.

If you could go back in time and give yourself and your former groupmates any words of advice gained from your years working in the industry since your initial debut, what would it be?
Enjoy EVERY second. Even the worst times.

In a Dream Scenario, if you could collaborate musically with one artist and score a leading role with one actor/actress, who would it be?
VERY hard. Before my musical dream collaboration would've definitely been Michael Jackson, but since his death, I'd say Tiesto. I respect and love dance music. And I love fusing it with other forms and genres. Acting wise, I'd say Nick Cage or Cherlize Theron. They have been two of my most favorite actors for a long time.

As 'Mayhem', your music is decidedly confident and strong -- and is likened to Joan Jett. As a young female artist, do you feel its important to be a positive role model?
Of course. No one is perfect. Artists are just people at the end of the day like everyone else who make mistakes, etc., but I do try my best to infuse a strong persona especially for younger women.

What is one album (past or present) that you feel is an absolute MUST for a fan of Mayhem/Lauren Mayhew?The one that is out on CD baby now "Welcome to the Mayhem" I'd say is the must get. But there is also 'Mayhem in the Movies,' which is a mish-mosh of alot of my popular music that I have licensed to TV and film. This has a BUNCH of fun songs that are not neccessarily 'MAYHEM' in style, but does show fans my large passion for many different types of music and how each allows me to take on a different a new character in a film.

Be honest - name one song/artist that is your favorite guilty pleasure.
Hilary Duff. She gave me her last CD at her listening party in LA, and I played it on my playlist for a few months non-stop!

Message for your fans?
Thanks so much for supporting me. Please check out my new music on ITUNES and CD BABY. You can always tell me what you think on twitter (@LCMAYHEW), I love talking to my fans and hearing your comments! :)

Monday, October 22, 2012


In case you were curious as to how Ms. Melismatic spends her Sunday nights, it's taking publicity photos with rapper/DJ/star of TV's "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice" Lil Jon.

Just kidding. Sort of. That's me there on the left. Jon stopped by my day job to help publicize his line of Halloween Masks that we sell exclusively (oh, the life I lead -- I know, it's too glamorous for words alone).

The verdict on Lil Jon -- in case you were curious -- is that he is super nice and down to earth. He took pictures with every fan that came to our little shindig event, signed anything and everything (including one of the masks that you can see on the left -- we will be raffling it off on my company's Facebook page if you want in) and was in general pretty hilarious. So excuse me while I break out the "Get Low" and return to my high school days of yore. Although his newer jam "Machuka" is kind of a  banger, too.

Oh, and also -- if you meet him on the street, don't say "WHHHHHAAAAATTTT?" or "OOOOKKAAAAYYYY" in a loud scary voice. A simple "hello" is fine. According to Jon himself, "I'm a normal dude, you don't have to scream at me."

So now you know. ;)

Also - my heartfelt thanks to one of my fave bloggers Chart Rigger for helping me get the word out via his position at Idolator! I appreciate it!!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: Wonder Girls @ Hard Rock Cafe

L to R: the Wonder Girls in NYC. Lim (Purple), Yenny (Teal), Sun (Blue), Yubin (Pink), Sohee (white).

My love for the adorable ladies of one of KPOP supreme girl groups, the Wonder Girls, continues to grow with each passing day (and it will happen to you if you listen to the 2011 Wonder World album and watch some of their in-English interviews on YouTube, as I've been doing quite a bit of recently). Seriously, if you can watch this interview and not be charmed by at least one of them, I don't know what's wrong with you.
So when I heard word that Sun, Yenny, Yubin, Lim & Sohee would be coming to New York to perform live for less than $10 -- I was totally hands in. That's exactly what happened this past Thursday night at Times Sqaure's Hard Rock Cafe Theatre, thanks to the folks at local radio station 92.3 NOW, who have been big fans of the girls' most recent US single release -- "Like Money".

Quick backstory on the Wonder Girls for those of you who are less familiar -- they are JYP's flagship group (labelmates include "little sister" group miss A and boy bands 2AM and 2PM) that debuted back in 2007 with a slightly different lineup. The group first appeared with their debut single "Irony", featuring members Sun (Sunye), Yenny (Yeeun), Sunmi, Sohee & HyunA. If the name HyunA souds familiar, it should -- shortly after her debut as a Wonder Girl, she dropped out of the group citing health problems, and rejoined the idol scene two years later as a member of 4minute (and would later go on to perform solo with "Change" and "Bubble Pop", and as a duo in Trouble Maker, yadda yadda).

After HyunA's withdrawl, she was replaced by the group's now signature rapper (and my personal favorite) Yubin. The group went through one more member change in early 2010 after gaining superstar status in Asia with their hit single "Nobody" (officially the first KPOP single to chart in the US Hot 100) when Sunmi decided to withdraw from the group to pursue college. She was replaced with JYP trainee (and overall cutie pie) Lim (Hyerim). Recently, the group released their Korean EP Wonder Party on the back of the single "Like This", as well as their first official US English single in "Like Money" (which features rapper Akon). A full US release is expected shortly.
It also should be noted they were the first KPOP group to try for US integration -- and one of the few that is actually doing it the right way. After "Nobody" blew up, the group came to New York and lived here, going through extensive lessons to learn English. It worked in that favor in this regard as they can not only sing effectively in English, but can also promote and conduct interviews without a translator, something many other groups attempting to come to the US aren't able to do.

Their attempts at US success are often compared to that of competitor girl group Girls Generation, who many argue eclipsed the Wonder Girls in terms of popularity when WG decided to devote so much time in the US. However, in my opinion, as an English speaker and a US citizen, I really really respect Wonder Girls more for going through so much time and effort to speak the language. (It's not altogether that different from what BoA and TVXQ! did to pursue success in Japan -- and this idea of learning the language first is really a dying trend in KPOP.)
The group had already toured the US a few times -- first opening for the Jonas Brothers in 2009 and later with their labelmates in 2PM/2AM. Currently, they have been doing a handful of radio shows in support of "Like Money", which included this particular show, dubbed a "birthday party" for one of the station's DJs. I went to the concert with my friend and KPOP concert-goer-in-crime, Christian (aka "DrowningN00b" at McRoth's Residence.) Expecting a large line, we got to the venue long before the doors officially opened only to find the line was quite manageable (a big change from my prior experiences for shows with 2NE1 or JYJ).
Yenny (left) & Sun (right) belt it out during "Ouch".

While waiting in line, myself and some of the girls in line recorded a "Happy Birthday" message for the DJ (read: screamed bloody murder for Wonder Girls), and learned at the show several pairs of Monster Diamond Tears headphones would be raffled off for fans (if you haven't seen them -- they are sickkkkkk). Upon entering the venue, were were all handed a card that had your raffle number on it and on the back was a picture of the Wonder Girls from their Wonder Party sessions signed. Oh yes, it's the first of many moments that night that will be sure to inspire jealousy in all of you Wonderfuls. ;)
Once inside the theatre, drinks in hand (hey, it's a Wonder Party after all), we were shocked to find ourselves right against the stage! It truly was the closest I've ever been during an idol concert -- indeed for an artist of this kind of magnitude, although to be fair, they are hardly as famous here in the US as they are in Asia. Also -- it needs to be said -- the show was sold out, but the venue was small and even though we were right against the stage, the crowd was super relaxed and chill. There was no pushing and craziness. Concert-Goers of Boy Band Concerts, please recognize how nice that really is.
The DJ started the night off playing a mix of tunes, including (inevitably) PSY's "Gangnam Style". Everyone was singing along and dancing -- even the station's two requisite hot girls came on stage to try and do the horse dance. The "birthday boy" came out shortly thereafter and a few seconds later, the Wonder Girls hit the stage in adorable sequined outfits (I figured they'd go for sequins -- I was going to wear a sequined dress and decided against it! Sigh.) -- Lim in Purple, Yubin in Pink, Yenny in Teal, Sun in Blue and Sohee in White, all with white shoes. Some of the girls outfits were rompers (Lim, Sun & Yubin), while the others were tops and shorts. All of them looked phenomenal in person (especially Yenny -- her hair was perfect). I was really struck by how pretty they were -- all five of them.
Yeah, Yenny's looking right at us. Jealous?
They mainly performed their hits -- alterating between in English or in Korean -- running the gamut from newer jams like "The DJ Is Mine" (love!), "Like This" and "Be My Baby", to older hits like "Tell Me" and "So Hot." They also performed "Nu Shoes" from the Wonder World album, despite it not being a single. I would have perferred the rock-esque "Me, In" or my new anthem for life "G.N.O." --  both of which were also from that album and were non-singles -- but still. They also performed "Ouch" and "Stay Together" (the later composed by Yenny), both English ballads that will be featured on their upcoming US release. A great fancam of the girls introducing themselves and singing "Stay Together" is here. They also sang a few seconds of their recent Christmas song acapella.

They closed the night out with a different version of "Like Money" without Akon (meaning, a superior version -- haha). It was clear they were singing live -- Sun and Yenny, the group's main vocalists, were really giving it their all despite a few unfortunate mic problems.
The group has a really great energy on stage -- all of them looked so alive and happy while performing (yes, even Sohee -- I know she gets a lot of slack for her poker face -- Homegirl was getting down at the Hard Rock). All of the girls except Yenny (sad face!) came over to our area and kept interacting with us, through winking, smiling, pointing (Sohee pointed at us for the "Nobody but you" bit -- eff yeah!), and Yubin even grabbed the hand of one of the adorable Wonderful fans we had met in line who was standing with us. Bless her heart, she legit could not handle it. ("Her hand is so soft!!!")
Midway through the set, a cake was brought on stage for Ty Bently, the DJ (is mine) who's birthday it was. There were no plates for the cake, so he kept cutting it and handing it to people in the crowd (which apparently cracked up Sun -- she was dying laughing. It was the cutest thing you'll ever see ever.) Yenny even got in on it and handed some cake to fans with her bare hands.
Overall, it was such a great concert experience -- everyone we met was so nice, we were so close, the girls were phenomenal and acknowleding us and we got signed cards? I think it's safe to say I'm a bonafide Wonderful now.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


It may be long overdue, but still, you knew this one was coming.
SM's TVXQ! have returned to the Korean stages with their latest comeback single in "Catch Me", a Euro-dancey inspired single that refreshingly varies a bit from their usual Korean power singles. While songs "Keep Your Head Down", "O" and "Rising Sun" were often notated for being very vocally heavy-handed and in your face, "Catch Me" is more along the lines of "Mirotic", in that it wouldn't sound too out of place in the back catalogue of a British/Swedish dance artist (male or female). This is something we should all congradulate our favorite KPOP duo for, as the subtlety required to make a pop song of this caliber work with intensity is not really something most people would attribute to Yunho & Changmin.
The song itself is kind of like the opposite of "Keep Your Head Down" -- "Catch Me" is a warning to a lover to wake up and prove their love to TVXQ!, to make them want to stay in this relationship, otherwise they will be gone. The lyrics bite. "I want you to beg for me so I'll wait here with you/Tell me, "Don't ever leave me"/You Fool, why do I love you?/I only have you, but why?" Ouch.
If anything, the minute I first heard "Catch Me", it sounded quite a bit like something that very easily could have fit onto Tone, the group's last Japanese release. It echoes quite a bit of the Eurodance feel that was a recurring genre theme of choice on that album. Perhaps that is why, as an ardent fan of TVXQ, "Catch Me" felt familiar despite being brand new. However, in terms of their Korean discography, a song in the style of "Catch Me" is new territory, so I commend them for trying to bridge the gap between their Korean and Japanese sound styles.
With that said, "Catch Me" is a bit like four songs in one. It's one part Europop, one part lite dance, one part rock edge (with the pre-requisite Changmin groans and screams) and one part (you knew this was coming) dubstep. Yes, the thrown in dubstep breakdown was a bit...unnecessary. There's no need to point that out further. Now that we've recieved word that Taylor Swift has recorded a dubstep inspired song for her upcoming album Red, I think we all can agree the dubstep trend has officially been beaten to death, and its appearance in KPOP doesn't change that fact. I can tolerate it from younger groups but from the genre's reigning Gods? Zzzzzz.
Dubstep bits aside, it's really one of those songs that is a bit of a grower until you see the video and live performances. In the case of TVXQ!, often these two are basically the same deal, no matter how vocally challenging the song is or how risky the choreography becomes. And when it comes to "Catch Me", TVXQ! really delivers not just vocally, but dance-wise too.
Like SHINee's "Sherlock" before it, "Catch Me" was choreographed by Tony Testa, and as far as I'm concerned, he can continue to work with my faves all he likes because he has yet to dissapoint. "Catch Me"'s choreography inspiration is centered on the visual appearance of a dragon. Changmin & Yunho, along with their plethora of male background dancers, create a visual display where they both work together as cogs of a singular machine and appear seperately. This style makes performances so incredibly exciting to watch as its more of a storytelling than a memorized routine.

Tell me that is not sick as-eff (as the kids say). Go ahead. Try. And if you're still not convinced, take a gander at a live performance of the song. The choreography is the same performed live, with live vocals and all. Your move, One Direction.
As for the rest of Catch Me (the album), it has followed in the footsteps of Tone as the third overall release of duo-TVXQ! and further cements how strong and comfortable they are since losing three members from their rank. While pieces of Keep Your Head Down felt a bit filler-esque and sparse, Catch Me feels much grounded in the strengths of Yunho and Changmin, and that is not a bad thing.
Much of this feeling was clearly sourced by their success in Japan as a duo, as the Tone feeling lingers throughout. Dancey "Gorgeous", produced by SM staple Kenzie is a fun ditty. "I Swear" was written by Changmin, continuing his record of writing the lyrics for a song since Mirotic. Japanese power single "I Don't Know" also appears in a Korean form and it's just as fun as the original. Yoo Young Jin provided one other song in addition to "Catch Me", in the sultry ballad "Good Night", which has quickly become one of my favorite post-DongBangApocalypse ballads. But my personal favorite is the rich, very rock flavored "Getaway" that really relies on the power vocals of Changmin and the swagger of Yunho -- a feel that is very distinct to this duo.
Overall, while it's not as solid a release as Tone was, it's certainly more listenable overall than Keep Your Head Down and is proof the duo is moving in a stronger direction not just in Japan but in Korea, too.
Quickly Now, for the Cassiopeia Fangirls & Fanboys: 
  • Epic sound effects. We meet again.
  • CATCH ME IF YOU WANNA. (Wanna? Yes, I wanna.)
  • Those are some serious gloves our duo are wearing. Good thing there's no shoving in this choreography like in "Keep Your Head Down". Min + Those Gloves = I fear for Yun's Moobs.
  • I'm just gonna say it. Changmin is my overall #1 bias but that hair has got. to. go. The weird blonde + the awkward bowl cut...I makes me so...grrrrr.
  • To be honest, Yunho's hair is not much better but I'd take that over Changmin's any day.
  • The video's ugly bodysuits were painful enough but why oh why must every live performance be in some dreadfully loud color with prints? Can't they be in sexy outfits for once? Just once? SM, I know you're capable, and it makes me mad that I wasn't hyper present during the Mirotic era. (Bitter Party of Everyone.)
  • Shallow Thoughts Aside, it needs to be said that Yunho heard the call of being vocally shown up by the maknae all day, err day and really stepped his game up. I sincerely mean it. And what a perfect song for it as well, as the choreography artfully depicts the two of them as mirror images of each other. Yay, U-Know!
  • As I've stated, the choreography is stellar -- my only real complaint is the "chorus" bits when the focus is soley on Yunho & Changmin, when they do that awkward jumping and body-thumping/pelvic thrust bits. It just looks...forced and pained. The rest, top notch. So it makes me underwhelmed to get to the climax bit and it's...that.
  • That elevator move where Yunho sings and Changmin lays down in front of him, only to be propped up for his solo bit and Yunho falls down behind him...this was the big that all of us saw in the video and thought WOW, but how will they pull it off live? Silly Cassiopeia, Choreography Tricks aren't for kids and TVXQ! are grown men now. (That joke sounded better in my head, but still, you know what  I mean.)
  • The standing in line bits like they are doing The Locamotion totally made me reminisce for NLT cerca "That Girl". Anyone else?

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