U.N.I.T.Y. and Kulture

Live stream concert brings CT local artists together

In these uncertain times, the future of concerts and entertainment venues in Connecticut remains uncertain. However, mainstream artists are turning to social media, in particular live streaming technology, to share their music and connect with fans. On November 20 of last year, KULTURE Mag teamed with The Blank Space, both based in Hartford, to hold a virtual concert on YouTube in an effort to unite others during these troubled times.

Following the concert, DIASH had the pleasure of interviewing the magazine’s founder, Anthony Valentine, at Silk City Coffee in Manchester. The 27-year-old Bloomfield, raised by strong women like his mother and grandmother, he aspired to be a doctor and attended UConn before transferring to Central Connecticut State University, graduating in 2015 with a degree in biology.

However, he also had an entrepreneurial spirit, which started with a clothing project in middle school. In college, he participated in various art projects and clubs around the campus, eventually founding KULTURE Mag in 2016. The magazine promotes and prints informative pieces about leadership attributes like self-confidence and empowerment in middle to high school students through original written material and art. The goal was to inspire change through culturally relevant and timely appealing topics. For his work, he was honored at the 100 Men of Color gala at The Bushnell in Hartford last year.

“In high school, I craved this type of content…my thing is there needs to be some sort of content out there that needs to uplift but still be cool,” said Valentine.

Beginning a little after 8:30pm, The concert’s artist lineup began with Boston native Chad Browne-Springer, began his set with subtle, but nonetheless exciting, fanfare harmonizing and beatboxing to create a beautiful, almost ethereal sound with songs like “Tea and Pancakes” and Billie Eilish cover “Everything I Wanted.” He finished his set with on a chill, low-key note with “English Databank.” Music has been a part of his life for as long as he could remember and he implored listeners to find their purpose.

“Whatever that [purpose] is to you, I say latch onto it and see where it takes you,” said Browne-Springer.

He also explored the concept of unity and what it means to him.

“It is a real game-changing experience when you find a group of people that you can connect with.”

Shortly afterwards, Waterbury-based band Mandala, who opened their set with poppy ballad “Bowery and Bleakers” off their album Damsel in Defense, released last year. They also included Post Malone’s “Circles” and a brand new song, “Better Now,” which contained notes of a Lana Del Rey melody to hardcore, Weezer-like instrumentations. Singer Morgan Fasanelli went into some of the band’s history and encouraged aspiring artists to continue pursuing their dreams. She also encouraged participants to stay strong and thank teachers in their ongoing efforts during COVID-19

“Follow your passions,” said Fasanelli.

A third artist, ANoyd, performed his set after an inspirational word: Before touring across Canada and the United States, he performed in places like local open mics and in his mother’s basement, respectively. His song list included “Attitude” and “Pretty Swan,” which detailed experiences as a troubled youth living in a non-conforming society.

“You can start wherever you need to start at,” said ANoyd.

In-between sets, the concert also included pre-recorded sets from Valentine, where he encouraged participants to invite others into the concert stream and comment in the video’s chat log where they were in life, asking questions ranging from where they went to school to their careers, sharing his stories as an EMT and attendance at CCSU.

“We are witnessing what the power of music can do to bring people together,” he said during one of the prerecorded segments.

Ideas for the virtual concert began early In 2018 after Valentine held a similar event in a skate park called “Unity,” which focused on negativity affected high school youths. Originally, the intention was for the event to become a yearly event before the COVID-19 pandemic affected the state back in March. Frustrated with the difficulty of getting into high schools and cancellations of things like homecoming, he gathered a small team of people and began planning a virtual concert instead. All three artists worked with Valentine on other projects and he, in turn, helped them book gigs, which strengthened their relationship as friends.

“[The concert] was more like a ‘you’ve helped me’ and so we’re gonna perform for our friendship,” said Valentine.

Although plans are not set in stone because of COVID-19, he plans to hold a yearly concert either in person or virtual. Valentine aspires to even aim for a festival, if restrictions lessen.

“God willing, if I was in a perfect position…U.N.I.T.Y. would be the next Coachella,” said Valentine.

His other projects include television pilot “Shea,” which he hopes will be picked up by HBO or streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Until then, he hopes to continue making music with others and spreading unity through artistic endeavors.

“[Culture] is all an ecosystem….you think of food, music, hobbies, ideas, beliefs, clothing…when I think of culture in my brand, I think about all those things. I think of music, which is unity,” said Valentine.

For more information on KULTURE Mag, visit their website. Also check out The Blank Space in Hartford for updates and events. Follow Mandala (@MandalaCT), Chad Browne-Springer (@LegendarySuperC) and ANoyd (@LivinANoyd) for updates on music and touring.

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