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Sometimes You Find Gold in the Ghetto … Division, That Is…

It isn’t often that great music reaches out to a community and is successful.  Ghetto Division, a label and production crew of young aspiring DJs from the South side of Chicago, who are changing the club scene around the world.  Ghetto Division hosts events that bring people of all ages together and creates a place for its young to call home.  They have had the privilege of hosting events at Smart Bar, the Metro and many other popular Chicago hot spots.  Ghetto Division has many loyal fans that come out to all their events and represent Chicago’s finest DJs.

Ghetto Division consists of DJs Charlie Glitch, M-Dok, Moonman, Rob Threezy, Rampage, Maddjazz, Lorenzo Vektor, D-51, Sigma and Louie Cue.  Ghetto Division has worked in production with Ghetto Division Records, Mad Decent, Nightshifters, Idiot House, and T & A.  Because of their ability in spinning all kinds of music, such as house, juke, ghettotech, bassline, heavy house, rave, dubstep, techno, Ghetto Division has been fortunate to reach many different crowds.  They have even had the experience of DJing events out of Chicago and the country; they have DJ’ed events in Belgium, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Netherlands, and Puerto Rico.

Ghetto Division first began in Hot Jams, a record store located in Chicago’s Archer Heights neighborhood.  The future Ghetto Division DJs would meet up and work on music all day, everyday in order to be at their best for local events hosted on weekends.  As time progressed, their tracks were gaining a lot of positive public attention.  Front man, Charlie Glitch knew they had great potential and didn’t want to lose track of any of the talent.  So Glitch decided they should become a crew.  The crew hoped that they would be recognized as a strong, versatile crew with a variety of musical influence and knowledge that completes their sound.

Ghetto Division’s DJ Charlie Glitch was born and raised in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.  DJ Glitch was first introduced to DJing at the age of 12 by his father who was also a house DJ too.   DJ Charlie Glitch was born the minute his father taught him how to put a record on a turntable and he never looked back.  Since then, Glitch started getting gigs at house parties, underground events, and even started producing with Hot Jams at the age of 19.

So far, Ghetto Division has had a positive effect on the community by bringing youth together at events and showing more than the traditional gang lifestyle that surrounds Chicago’s streets.  While many of the DJs agree that education is important, they also agree that when you are successful at something, like influencing the community, you can get hooked. But they do aspire to complete their educational careers.

Because of their positive influence, the DJs of Ghetto Division have said that the task of managing school and their music production can be a struggle.  Some of the DJs had to put their education on pause just to advance in the competing music world.  Sometimes when you’re gifted at what you do, you have to follow those dreams, and hope that it is the right decision.

Last summer, Ghetto Division lost one of its members, Jeff A. Maldonado a.k.a. J-Def.  On July 25, 2009, J-Def was tragically shot and killed, a day after his 19th birthday, in the Pilsen neighborhood.  J-Def, who was a student at Harold Washington College, was passionate about graffiti art and music.  J-Def did not stand for gang violence and it was unfortunate that gang violence lead to his death.  Ghetto Division learned from J-Def’s misfortune and turned it into a positive example for the Pilsen community to fight against gang violence.  Because of incidents like this, Ghetto Division makes sure they’re accessible to the youth in the community.

Even though a traditional education isn’t dominant within Ghetto Division, they still believe education is important.  They hold free DJ and production lessons for the community and stream a live radio show every Friday on from 4 PM to 10 PM.  Ghetto Division does this because they feel it is important to get the youth out of the streets and involved, since the South side of Chicago is notorious for violence.  As DJ Charlie Glitch says, “It’s important to get them involved in something they deem important, and why not have fun while learning?”

Ghetto Division is currently working on their label and planning tours.  Their upcoming tours range from around the country to Canada.  Eventually, they would like to do a world tour.  Ghetto Division is even working on opening a Ghetto Division store and maybe opening multiple recording studios.  Apart from that, they have been focusing on throwing events, working on new tracks, and gaining exposure.

In Chicago, they can be seen DJing at Smart Bar and the Metro.  On May 7th they will be at the Abbey Pub, on June 19th they will be at the Congress Theatre, and July 2nd they will be performing along with many other popular artists, at Soldier Field.

If you’d like to follow Ghetto Division or get involved, check out these sites for more information:

Isaura M. Salinas


Just Within My Grasp: Lauren of Lily Monroe

In order to live your life to the fullest, you have to follow your dreams and your heart.  Growing up, I was taught how important it is to have faith and not let obstacles keep me from achieving my goals, no matter how big they may seem. My parents always told my sister and me that we could be anything we wanted. Looking back, I see why they were so adamant on us pursuing our dreams. They missed opportunities in their own lives because they didn’t have faith. Now they both work jobs they don’t enjoy, but they have always been confident that my sister and I will accomplish great things in life and most importantly to enjoy every minute of it. As a senior majoring in Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I’m balancing the practical life of school with my dream of being a musician, and my parents couldn’t be prouder.

Lauren of Lily Monroe

I sing in a group called Lily Monroe with my older sister Christien Cain, who is a UIC graduate with a B.A. in Criminal Justice. The group was officially formed in 2008; however, we’ve sung together our whole lives. It is hard to classify what genre we fit into, but R&B would be the easiest way to put it. Some of the influences for our sound are Michael Jackson, Janelle Monaé, Led Zeppelin, Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, St. Lunatics, Trey Songz, Drake, and Kanye West, just to name a few. Christien and I are both classically trained violinists, so the ways in which we structure our vocals are similar to the various parts in a traditional orchestral arrangement. Each song is performed with intricate vocal arrangements that often lead listeners to believe that Lily Monroe is only one voice instead of two. We pride ourselves in having such a tight harmony.

We’ve performed at various open mics throughout Chicago, but we didn’t start recording until recently. It started with us doing a few hooks (choruses) here and there and eventually we started working with another aspiring Chicago musician, Boogy. After doing two hooks on songs for one of his mix tapes, he agreed to help us start putting together a professional demo. Up until that point, the only recordings of us singing were videos on YouTube.

The process of recording is still a small issue. Boogy and I are both full-time students, while my sister works full-time in the corporate world. Our schedules are hectic, so trying to find time to record, perform, study, write papers, and remembering to sleep gets hard. Finding the balance between passion and priorities takes practice. For us, it is not rare to be leaving the studio at 2 a.m., just in time to get a moment’s rest for an 8 a.m. class the following morning, or having ideas for a new song running through your mind, while trying to focus on a 12 page paper that’s due by midnight.

My tuition costs almost $5,000 a semester, but it costs me nothing to record. Because of this, school has been my number one priority.  It gets tough when there is movement with my music career because I am tempted to put school on hold to see where music will take me.  At the same time, there’s a fear of never coming back to school, and I’ve come too far in my college career to quit and let all the stress, headaches, and papers be for nothing. Given the economy today and the hard work it takes to become famous as a musician, I know there is going to be a lot of hard work in my near future, but I am putting my best foot forward for both, regardless.

Christien and Lauren of Lily Monroe

Fall 2010 is slated to be my last semester at UIC. I have been working through this spring semester with the comforting thought that I am almost done with my degree. About a month ago, we received word that Umbrella Music Association is interested in signing my sister and me as artists, as well as songwriters. While this is an independent label, it still is a big step into Lily Monroe’s future.  It shows that other people are willing to take a gamble on us and that other people have faith in what we’re trying to do. We are also about to shoot a video for our leading single, “Nerdy Boy,” and start performing again at larger venues throughout Chicago with our U.M.A. family. U.M.A. also has a radio show on 88.9 every Saturday from 8pm-10pm, showcasing all of the talent on the label. With all of this happening towards the end of my semester, it’s hard to focus on schoolwork. 

My plan has always been to work on my degree until something happens with music. With summer quickly approaching and plans being made for how to market Lily Monroe, I’m watching my dream unfold before my eyes. The closer I get to graduation, the more unsure I am about what types of careers I will pursue to bring me happiness. The safe bet is starting to seem risky and my outlandish dream is becoming more of a practical reality. Either way, I will get my degree next fall and continue on towards reaching my dream.

-Lauren Cain

Download your copy of Nerdy Boy free today!

Also, visit Lily Monroe on MySpace!

Pure Pop for ‘No’ People

Swordfish playing at The Fat Bean Coffee House in Naperville, IL

Transitioning from high school to college can be the make it or break it point for most bands, as well as friends. Mike Pickerl, Kiel Anderson, Jason Vandenboss, and Carlos Trejo met in high school and have been making music together ever since. Swordfish is the name of their current project with Mike on guitar and vocals, Kiel on bass, Jason Vandenboss on guitar and vocals, and Carlos Trejo on drums.

Kiel, Mike, and Carlos hang out even when they are not practicing and playing shows, but they don’t see Jason that often outside of the band. Kiel says, “Jason works at Whole Foods, and I really like the bath salts there … so sometimes I see him there.” Mike says, “It’s hard enough to find three other people you like, let alone three other people who can play instruments.” The guys have been collaborating together for about six years now, so it’s probably safe to say they have found a group of people that work.

Why did they choose the name Swordfish? Kiel says, “Because it doesn’t really matter.” Mike adds that Kiel has a big pillow in the shape of a swordfish that was an inspiration for the name.

Mike describes the sound of Swordfish as, “Indian neo pop…. No.. but really it’s garage pop- rock with more than just guitars.” Sometimes the band uses organs or other unconventional instruments to add a little something extra. “It gets ‘dancey,’” Kiel says about some of their new songs. The songs on Swordfish’s first EP definitely falls into the garage pop-rock category and could easily be compared to well known bands like Weezer and The Strokes.

Aside from the danciness, the band keeps it pretty low-key while they are all busy with school and work. Mike says that all the craziness happened in their previous band, “Swordfish is sort of our rehab band.” The guys are just trying to work around each other’s schedules and spend as much time making music as they can. Every member of the band is currently in college. Mike goes to College of DuPage and is “killing time,” Kiel goes to Loyola, Carlos is studying art at UIC, and Jason is at the University of Aurora studying to be an English teacher.

Mike sees music as his main priority. He and the other band members differ

Mike of Swordfish at The Fat Bean

 on their views for future success with Swordfish. Mike has higher hopes in terms of relative success and says he just doesn’t want to get a real job, while Kiel doesn’t have a desire for Swordfish to become successful. While discussing their future as a band Mike asks, “Is this a list of all our hopes and dreams? I’d like a girlfriend. That would be cool. But I wouldn’t let it interfere with my music.” Hear that ladies?

These days the band is taking things as they come and practicing twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, to tighten up their sound. Right now their practice space is in Kiel’s basement and doubles as a room for his cats. Kiel says, “Sometimes the cats come in to use the litter box so when they come down we have to mute our instruments.” Mike adds, “Sometimes we scare the shit out of them…”

To give the cats a little space, Swordfish is currently working on turning Kiel’s bedroom into a practice room. Kiel and Mike both spend a lot of their free time writing new songs for the band. Kiel has a goal of writing one song a week, even if it’s “crappy.” Mike is trying to stop writing fifteen minute songs and scale down to somewhere under the 5 minute mark. Don’t let this scare you away from checking out Swordfish, the 6 songs on their EP, “Pure Pop for ‘No’ People,” are all under 5 minutes.

The future of the band is currently unknown, but the guys plan on making music together for as long as they can. Mike hopes to start playing shows more frequently again, but Kiel prefers to keep it in the practice space and says it’s too much anxiety to set up equipment and play shows. Most of their past shows took place in smaller settings such as coffee houses throughout Chicago and the suburbs.

Mike would like to take things with Swordfish more seriously and says that he does have a tendency to set his hopes too high. In response to that Kiel says, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a hope in my life.”

The cover of Swordfish's EP "Pure Pop for 'No' People"- art by Mike Pickerl

You can get your hands on Swordfish’s first EP “Pure Pop for ‘No’ People” by contacting the band at: ATTN: Swordfish, 503 S. President St. Wheaton, IL 60187. It includes 6 songs, Life is a Wonderful Thing, 1st Impressions, Felix Hoffman, Pop Song, (You’ve got a) Face for the Radio, and An Arm of the Sea at the Mouth of the River.

-Jennifer Priestley

The Royal Journey in Music and Fashion

Recently, young female artists such as Feist, Jenny Lewis and Norah Jones

Megan Royal 3/15/2010

have been making a significant name for themselves in the creative arts. Megan Royal is following their path.  As she takes her seat on the piano bench, she takes a deep breath and allows her fingers to take over the music. Music and the arts are not just a passion for Royal, they are her entire life. She says, “I wake up in the morning and I am either singing, playing, or designing from sun up to sun down. I love expressing myself.”

Royal, who studies fashion design at the Art Institute of Chicago, uses her talents and knowledge of the piano as a form of release when it comes to her clothing design. She explains, “It’s strange. When I’m stressed or having a meltdown with the amount of work I have to do, I play. My mind just completely wanders and everything that worried me before just seems petty, I guess.” Royal didn’t choose music as her major because she couldn’t imagine having it forced upon her.  She says that music should be fun and not a chore.

Luckily, she gets to mix fun with schoolwork on a daily basis. According to Royal, the greatest thing about attending her school is that everybody has an appreciation for the arts. During classes, students are able to collaborate musically with one another. Not many college students are offered opportunities such as this where they are constantly being exposed to other musicians and encouraged to play with one another – especially when they aren’t even music majors.

Royal and her first teacher, Will Smith

Royal began playing at the very young age of three. “My parents had enrolled my older sister in lessons at the time. During one of her lessons, I was in the living room watching the very first episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I remember Will Smith’s character was playing ‘Fur Elise’ and I walked over to the piano and played the notes without really realizing what I was doing. My parents freaked out, dropped my sister from piano lessons, and enrolled me the next day. I guess you can say Will Smith taught me how to play the piano.” Royal continued with her lessons, but she quit after the age of thirteen. She explained that after so many years, there really isn’t much more knowledge that your teacher can provide you. Playing the piano takes a lot of dedication and practice, like most instruments. Since Royal is typically a solo artist, it can be tough to stay on top of her craft because she only has herself to keep her motivated.

Royal finds that coming up with creative new pieces of her own have helped hold her interest in the piano.  Old influences like Mozart and newer influences such as Ben Folds have helped Royal to create a modern, yet classic sound to her pieces.  It can be challenging to create a modern sound on the piano in order to grab an audience because the piano is such a well-known instrument, especially when played solo. “My sound is an accompaniment of the old, classical styles that I grew up playing. They’re simply beautiful. But the best part [of the piano] is you can bust out a sequence of jazzy or rock, and it just flows so well.”

Currently, you can hear Royal’s unique spin on classical piano at well-known Chicago locations such as Schubas Tavern, Abbey Pub, Gallery Cabaret and many independent coffee houses. What’s next for the Royal? She explains that she can’t imagine her life or her future without music in it.    After graduating in the winter of 2010, her plans consist of moving out of Chicago in order to experience new challenges. “My dream would be to move to New York, get a job designing immediately, meet other music lovers, form a band like Broken Social Scene…I want to do it all!”

-Laura Green

Do You Like Good Music? Do You Like to Dance?

DJ Peroxide Spinning at Neo

Full time college student by day, new wave DJ and dancing fiend by night, Phil DeStefano transforms from a Columbia College photography major into DJ Peroxide, spinning tracks into the night for new wave fans all over Chicago.  He is a regular at Neo Night Club’s Atomic New Wave Dance Party Thursdays and has also recently become a guest DJ at various bars and clubs throughout Chicago.  A few hours before one of his many appearances, Peroxide answered a few questions about his double life as a student and a DJ.

DJ Peroxide… I’m assuming the name comes from your bleached-blonde hair?

It is.  I quickly had to decide on a name to promote for the guest slot I did for my first gig at Neo so my roommate came up with that and it stuck.  Though Mahatma Blondie is quite fetching too, don’t you think?

Quite fetching indeed.  You are now a senior at Columbia College. One might think you would be a music or media major, but you’re actually studying photography.  How does someone majoring in photography become interested in being a DJ?

I actually started photographing the crowd when I went to Neo and was instantly struck by the music because everything the resident DJs were playing was music I loved.  I started to go every Thursday night, which is their “new wave dance party” called Atomic, and became a regular.  From there, one of the residents, [DJ] Kamar, asked me if I’d like to do a guest slot because he knew I was familiar with the music. And the rest is history.

I know music is a big part of your life, what specifically drew you into being a DJ?

I haven’t really ever found an outlet to contribute musically through an instrument, though I have sung on things randomly just for fun.  I find myself to be more of a music fan than a musician, which I think makes sense with the interest in DJing.

You mainly spin 80s and new wave tracks. How did you become a fan of this type of music?

I got really into new wave and 80s music at a young age through a family friend, and it has always kind of stuck with me.  I loved the sound and the visual elements attached to new wave.


An old flyer for a past DJ Peroxide event

How do you balance your time when you are being pulled in so many directions with school, work, and your passion for being a DJ?

I try to give equal time to everything I do.  I find at least that attending these clubs and getting the chance to guest DJ at some of these places gives me an escape from the regular school and work routine – an escape that allows me to have fun and enjoy my music all at once.

Have you taken advantage of any opportunities through your college?  I recall you being a guest DJ on a college radio show a couple of years ago.

Yeah I did do a radio show but it was through the school of the Art Institute.  That’s about it really … I’m basically a self-starter.

Have you made any interesting connections in the DJ world through school or from going to bars, clubs, etc?

No, nothing through school. But I have met a whole world of people.  I’ve met a lot of people who are really important in the new wave culture.

Can you give an example of one of these people in the scene who have affected or helped you along the way?

On a personal level, I have always been inspired and looked up to DJ Scary Lady Sarah who has been an important part of the Goth scene for over 20 years.  She runs her own company, American Gothic Productions, and a bi-monthly Goth night in Chicago called Nocturna.  I probably would have never even tried guest DJing if it wasn’t for her.  She actually recently attended one of the events I did and to see her on the dance floor was very rewarding for me since I look up to her.

What kind of advice would you give to a peer trying to break into the scene?

Meet as many people as you can, and have fun with it.  There is obviously a common interest that brings most regulars out to an event – people who you look forward to seeing each week and who love the same music as you.  Same goes for the DJs.  It is interesting to see their different styles in piecing music together during their sets.

May is right around the corner. What do you see in your post graduation future?  Will you continue to DJ?

Well… for now I can’t really picture myself doing anything other than something with music.  So right now I think it’s safe to say I will continue to DJ.

Jennifer Priestley

What’s Happening This Week: March 17-23, 2010

Thursday, March 18

Manbirdbelly w/ Paper Airplane Pilots & Satellite 66 (21+) @ Subterranean (2011 W. North), 8:30 PM, $10

Bittersweet w/ Friend-of-W(C)N DJ Peroxide @ The Late Bar (3534 W. Belmont), 9:00 PM-4:00 AM, NO COVER!

A Benefit for Friends of the Orphans (21+) @ Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont), 8:30 PM, $10

Friday, March 19

The Shams Band (17+) @ Subterranean (2011 W. North), 9:00 PM, $7 adv/$10 doors

Two Star w/ Glittermouse, The Hudson Branch, & Leah Stargazing (all ages) @ Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont), 6:00 PM, $8

The Sometimes Family w/ Age of Animals & Bakelite Army (21+) @ Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont), 10:30 PM, $8

Saturday, March 20

New Wave Tribute Show w/ Handsome Devilz and more (18+) @ Reggie’s Rock Club (2109 S. State), 10:00 PM, $10

Gold Motel w/ Color Radio & Volcanoes Make Islands (all ages) @ Subterranean (2011 W. North), 6:30 PM, $10

Luster w/ The Paper Clips & The Bitter Wigs (21+) @ Subterranean (2011 W. North), 10:30 PM, $8 adv./$10 doors

Scissors w/ The Twilight and the Sound & The Reaganomics (all ages) @ Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont), 6:00 PM, $8 adv./$10 doors

The Barcait Couture w/ Starter Kit & The Born Ready (17+) @ Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont), 10:30 PM, $10

Sunday, March 21

H2O w/ The Swellers, The Mongoloids, & The Attack (all ages) @ Reggie’s Rock Club (2109 S. State), 5:00 PM, $13

Rabble Rabble w/ The Runnies, Meah!, & Geffika (17+) @ Subterranean (2011 W. North), 8:30 PM, $8

The Damn Choir w/ Shake Hands With Danger & Ghost In The Graveyard (21+) @ Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont), 8:30 PM, $8

Monday, March 22

Hustle Simmons & Kidz In The Hall (18+) @ Reggie’s Rock Club (2109 S. State), 9:00 PM, $10

Tuesday, March 23

Diana Lawrence w/ After The Night & The Numbers (21+) @ Subterranean (2011 W. North), 8:30 PM, $8

(To add a show to this list, comment here or message us on Facebook!)