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Hurricane Playlist: Pepa Knight

I sat in the Surfers Coffee Bar on an ordinary work day, trying to think of a band to write about for a weekend music feature.My friend, Tyler, was visiting from California and plopped down next to me as I stared blankly at my screen, weary from browsing. Seeing the chance to get some fresh ideas, I asked him to tell me a good band that I may have not heard of before. He grabbed his phone, scrolled through some music and threw out a name that was to become my new favorite band: ‘Jinja Safari’.

Fast forward to a few years later: Still growing in popularity and stretching beyond the borders of their native Australia, Jinja not only thrives as a group, but is made up of insanely talented solo musicians. Cofrontman of the band, Pepa Knight is one of those who has branched out to produce a solo project, and the first samples are TASTY.

Today, we introduce you to perhaps his most popular single, ‘Rahh!’

Pepa creates a surprising sound, picking colorful, lesser-used instruments like the sitar and the flute to accompany soothing, yet energy-filled vocals.
‘Rahh!’s use of drums- a very significant and spiritual instrument in many cultures- sets it all to life; carrying the song and waking you up with the rhythm of adventure. Jinja Safari was inspired by the sounds of the world, with frontman Marcus Azon crafting the feel and even the name of the band after his experiences in Jinja, Uganda. Pepa recently took a trip himself across India and that has heavily inspired what he’s written.

The fact that the creator of the music is a globe-trotter himself may explain the vagabond feeling that you get when you hear ”Rahh!’
It’s a song that seems made to accompany an epic sun rise; a reminder of the fresh and the new. It was made for one of those car rides where your arm stretches out of your window, and your fingertips float with the curves of the wind. It’s an ‘I’m awake to the world and going somewhere!’ song.

Inspiring, fun, refreshing.
It’s everything you want your weekend, or your life for that matter, to be.

Enjoy the sounds of Pepa Knight and follow him here as you wait for the release of the full album ‘Hypnotized’ in April 2015!


Weekend Jam: The Great Gatsby Soundtrack

*This link is no longer active, as it was a limited time offer*

Americans were required to read it as high school students. A story both exciting and troubling at the same time, it’s possible many of us only remember it as an assignment on our calendar. But from May 10th on, thanks to the vision of Baz Luhrmann and the work of  countless others, The Great Gatsby will be remembered as explosive and arresting. The film hits theaters next week, and from the looks of the trailers, is sure to enchant.

This week, while we’re waiting for the roaring 20′s extravaganza, we get to sample the musical morsels from the grand party with NPR’s first listen of The Great Gatsby Soundtrack.

Director Baz Luhrmann and hip-hop great Jay-Z  teamed up to produce an album that appeals to a variety of tastes, with remixes of soulful songs, upbeat jazz age tunes and some original tracks from some of today’s most talked about artists including: Lana Del Rey, Florence + The Machine, The XX, and Jack White.

Creating a soundtrack for the Great Gatsby is no easy task. It is a packed grenade of emotional fuel: the story itself a raw layer peeled from author F.Scott Fitzgerald’s own life and heartbreak. Add onto that the turmoil of several characters, each facing their own demons, their own longings, regrets and joys. Then,try to incorporate the weight of  an excessive, and often elusive American dream, displayed in the glamour and shine of the jazz age.

We’re not sure a single album can ever capture a timeless book, and we’re not putting that on this album itself; Yet we can appreciate that it is a well thought-out and innovative album. What else would we expect from the creator of Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet, Baz Luhrmann? NPR music states “‘He is cinema’s boldest remixer, infusing familiar works with new rhythms that refresh their relevance.’”

At Surfing The Nations, we love things that are out of the box, and it seems that this film and soundtrack is busting out of the borders to bring something new to the table.

Give it a listen this week and get ready for the main event, May 10th at theaters nationwide!

Have a great weekend!

*Disclaimer: Some of the tracks on this album contain explicit lyrics.*






Weekend Jam: Field Recordings

A few months ago, I blogged about the Black Cab Sessions: where well known musical artists pile in a black cab and record live while driving through the city.  It was so fun to watch these musicians get into these cramped spaces and belt their hearts out as they moved through the streets.There’s something about the unexpected environment that made the music seem that much more special.

Now, we bring you a new out-of-the-box recording experience, one with much more space, but just as much randomness!

NPR Music has a series called ‘Field Recordings‘, where musical artists do a live recording in a variety of spaces; sometimes literally in a field, other times on bridges, on top of picnic tables, or in the middle of the forest, to name a few.

Not unlike the Black Cab Sessions, you feel like you’re there with them. You see them goofing off,  taking in the scenery, trudging through nature to get to their destination. Some of the videos are slightly humorous as you watch them awkwardly adjust to their surroundings, some of them highly unfavorable for recording.

The one thing I love most about this series is that I imagine these silent and unexpected settings could be where many of these musicians discovered their art: Inspired by nature and their surroundings, inspired by the moments when they were alone. Those are the moments when nothing’s expected, and everything is gain with only the wild for an audience.

See for yourself from our picks below! And next time you go on a hike, bring a guitar, a harmonica or just some pen and paper and your voice and have your own field recording session.

Have a great weekend!







Photo credit: NPR


An Insider’s Look At Summer Challenge

It’s always fun to work in a place with creative and talented people. Today’s post is from native Floridian and musical artist, Sheree Pantuso (artist name, Sheree Michele). Sheree is currently on staff here at Surfing The Nations, but she first experienced Surfing the Nations when she came to our one-month summer program, Summer Challenge. The Summer Challenge program is packed with opportunities to give back to the community every week, and go exploring the island the other half of the time! Here she gives us her perspective on her month in Summer Challenge (and while you’re at it, give a listen to Sheree’s amazing rapping ability on her new EP here !)


“Have you ever experienced a time in your life where you have felt refreshed on the deepest possible level?  Have you experienced a much-needed time of rejuvenating your soul and washing away all of the burdens that life can soil us with?

I experienced this deep refreshing during my experience of serving at Surfing the Nations in the Summer Challenge program.  Before I arrived, I felt weary from the place life had me at.  I was nervous to move to an unfamiliar place for a month and experience something totally new and different. This leap of faith to go serve and experience the Summer Challenge program turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have ever made!

Participating in Summer Challenge gave me so many incredible experiences and growth opportunities, ranging from acts of serving like Feeding The Hungry to teaching kids how to surf and swim. My eyes were truly opened to the world’s needs around me.  I got to experience giving back to the community that I was in and I learned that I really come alive when I put the needs of others before myself.  It was a beautiful thing to see the hope and transformation that Surfing the Nations has brought to Wahiawa. To personally be a part of that transformation and witness it first hand was a great honor and joy.

Another aspect of the Summer Challenge program that brought me refreshment was the constant adventure that we pursued : Diving into the beautiful waters of Hawaii and witnessing the beauty of the land is something that will stay with me forever.  I was so blessed to have the opportunity to go on different hikes around the island, spear fish for the first time, camp on the beach while falling asleep to the sound of the tossing waves, and of course, surf!  I felt like a little child in complete awe of the beauty of everything around me.

I would highly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and pursuing an experience like Summer Challenge.Not only does it refine you as a person, but it also refreshes your spirit, soul, and body with new adventures, new friendships, and memories that will last a lifetime. ” -SP

Sheree Michele
Photo credit Michael J Photography

Music For Your Monday: The Restoration

As I was reviewing music, I found myself getting a bit disheartened after hearing a lot of the same laid-back, ethereal sounds. I liked it, but there was a part of me that wasn’t satisfied; something about it that was making me bored (and this is coming from someone who can listen to Debussy all day long). I knew it wasn’t the slow pace of the music, it was that somehow the chill music that sounded so great, at some point started to sound apathetic.

No, I didn’t think everyone should be raging screamo or dubstep re-mixing everything, but I did search for songs with passion and feeling. I was looking for emotional momentum; a good sound paired with a real power.

Enter, The Restoration.

The Restoration is a concept band from Lexington, South Carolina, headed up by native southerner Daniel Machado. The band seems to be very well-named, as its vision goes beyond just making new music, to incorporating genres that have been under-appreciated in this generation and introducing them as prominent players in their sound.

Like musical antique dealers, they have the ability to see the value in different types of music and know exactly where it can fit into the present. The strong vocals and the use of a wide variety of instruments creates a sensational musical experience.

Yet, perhaps the most compelling thing about this band is the story that propels their songs.

The Restoration’s album, Constance, comes paired with a 47 page book, a historically based fiction that tells the story of a family in Lexington, South Carolina between the 1800s and 1930s. This band is not just about restoring overlooked music genres, but also about restoring an understanding of the history of the American South. A story is nothing without a conflict, and there are many to be found in the history of the South that The Restoration does not avoid or sugarcoat. In fact, their material has been deemed so historically relevant that it has been included in the curriculum of literature and history courses at a local South Carolina college.

The Restoration has musical variety,creative songwriting and powerful vocals. However, I am most excited about this band because of how their project is birthed out of a deep-rooted love for its subject, the American South. Through facing the facts of history, there is opportunity of a type of redemption and reclaiming of it. These are not musicians simply writing from the inspiration of an ever-changing mood. They are committed to start a new discussion on the land that they love, and I don’t think there’s danger of that ever sounding apathetic.

Add The Restoration to your music library here!
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Photo credit: The Restoration

Weekend Jam Returns: Tokyo Sunrise by LP

I haphazardly stumbled across this song on a Spotify playlist this past week, completely unprepared for what I was about to hear. It hit my ears with a surprise force that made me want to run and hide underneath a bed, and then at the next second, crawl back out and get as close as possible to it, drenched in curiosity. The song: Tokyo Sunrise by LP and her amazing band.

LP, born Laura Pergolizzi, is a native New Yorker. She got her start with the band ‘Lionfish’ and since the early 200os has been producing and performing her own work, as well as writing for other artists. It is surprising to see that her resume includes writing songs for well-known pop artists such as The Backstreet Boys and Rihanna. Fortunately for us, LP broke free from the the behind-the-scenes and went center stage with her album release this past year of 2012. The 5 song EP, Into the Wild is well-named, as it incorporates its own jungle of instruments, such as violins, cellos, ukuleles and flutes.

The only way I can really describe LP and her album Into The Wild is that, it’s a bit like Winter: Her voice is the chilled blast of wind you feel when you first step outside- it makes you feel awake and alert to life and feeling- and then the instruments are what take you into a warm fireside, and hand you a cup of tea to thaw out. It’s a wonderfully blended paradox: enough soothing instruments to relax you, and enough powerful vocals to make you feel fresh and alive, even if you are just sitting at your desk.

Give it a listen and see for yourself, and have a great weekend!


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Photo credit: LP


Weekend Jam: Amanda & Rasmus

Surfing the Nations headquarters is swarming with a huge population of Swedes.

Lucky for us, Swedes seem to be pretty on top of it in the style, fashion, design, music, and other creative realms. We are constantly presented with the opportunity to glean from their ways: some things we’ve adopted (fika, Swedish chocolate balls, and of course, a love for IKEA) and some things we’ve  just left to the Vikings (watching Donald Duck to celebrate Christmas..?) All that to say, you don’t have to look much farther than Scandinavia land for something fresh and rad. This weekend’s jam Amanda and Rasmus comes straight from Gothenburg. The cool thing about these guys is the power of their teamwork: Amanda write poems and Rasmus puts music to those poems and presto!- a song is born! That’s a pretty amazing collaboration if we say so ourselves. We imagine it probably takes some pretty creative and flexible people to be able to combine their arts so wonderfully.

Check out this upbeat track Follow Me from their four song EP (also called Follow Me).  Download the entire EP with soundcloud here.


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Weekend Jam: Black Cab Sessions

When I found the ‘Black Cab Sessions’, three thoughts went through my mind:

1. I would love to be a passerby at a stop light witnessing what this looks like from the outside.

2. Is this what people did on road trips before radio? They must have.

3. This is amazing.

The Black Cab Sessions is basically some rad musical artists piling in the back of a black cab in the UK (and there’s also USA sessions) and taking a drive whilst playing and recording a song. Brilliant. There are literally hundreds of sessions to choose from.

Don’t you feel like you’re right there with them? I found it almost therapeutic following them as they weave through the streets and play.

Check out these takes:





Happy Weekend!


photo cred Black Cab Sessions





Weekend Jam : Active Child

For today’s Weekend Jam, we bring you the unique and awe-inspiring range of Pat Grossi’s Active Child.  There is no exaggeration when I say my mouth literally dropped when I heard this guy weaving perfection with his vocal chords. The song ”When Your Love is Safe” is one of his great tracks that brings a ballad with a beat. And do we even need to mention this dude’s playing a harp? Must see, must listen, must buy here. Continue Reading