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Name: Adam Bernard
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Artist Of The Week – Miz Metro
Monday, July 30, 2007

Miz Metro is, by her own definition, an urban gypsy. She has even worked authentic gypsy rhythms into her music. Both her parents and step-parents were heavily involved in the arts and Miz Metro followed their lead from the time she was a child. She realized music would be her path as a student at LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts in New York City. It was there, after a bout with unrequited love, that she wrote her first complete song. “Something just took over,” she explains, “it was the only thing that really made me feel like I was dealing with my emotions.” The dynamic performer from Manhattan’s upper east side has been writing music ever since and this week I caught up with her to find out more about her music, her urban gypsy heritage, and how a conversation with Lady Sovereign changed both of their lives.

Adam Bernard: I love your name. Tell me how you became to be Miz Metro.
Miz Metro: I interviewed Lady Sovereign at the 2006 Winter Music Conference and I was wearing the Metro Card earrings I made. I had some crazy outfit on and she asked me if I was a fashion designer. She wanted me to hook her up. I told her I wasn’t a designer that I was a singer and I gave her manager my demo and invited them both to one of my “Trashion” SoHo loft parties that I was throwing at the time as a part of the Urban Gypsy Circus. She was all into it and her manager said they would definitely go. She told me to come chill at The Shore Club later that night. While at The Shore Club we proceeded to shoot the shit for a bit. I gave her my business card, which was a Metro Card with my number on it, which she got a kick out of, and told her to give me a call when she got to the city the following week. The next morning I get a text message from her saying “hey wassup miss metro card…nice to meet you, we should get coffee” yada yada. When I saw Miss Metro Card, I decided to drop the “ss” and the “card” and it was a done deal I was to be Miz Metro. I texted her back saying “hey you just named me, I’m Miz Metro now. Thanks. We should definitely meet up while you’re here.” I spoke to her on the phone once when she got to NY and we planned to get coffee, but the next time I tried to call her phone was disconnected. She never showed up to my “Trashion” party and I never heard from her again. Three months later I see advertised in The L Magazine the after party for Lady Sovereign’s show at Webster Hall is called “Trashion” at The Plumm. I was like hmmm… isn’t that funny. At least I got a great name out of it.

Adam Bernard: Damn! Moving to happier items, your music uses authentic gypsy rhythms with updated production. How did the idea for this originally come about and how difficult was it to create?
Miz Metro: I have some gypsy in my blood from Bohemia before it got taken over by the Czech Republic. Not much, but some. I do have a real crystal ball that was passed down to me from my grandmother and I am very connected to the magic that lives in all of us. Me and all my art major friends in high school used to spend all our time after school up a tree in Central Park. This was where Urban Gypsy Circus was born. I’d be sitting up in the tree with all my friends and ask myself what we were and the answer was urban gypsies. Time passed, people went off the college, and I stayed in the city to pursue my acting and singing and I began to wonder what urban gypsy would sound like. I was in search of the perfect person who could help me create the sound and I found that person in Dru Klein of Romania. Dru was responsible for bringing gypsy music into the mainstream eastern European market. We met when I was doing promotion for the Globe Sonic DJs and I asked Dru if he wanted to sign the mailing list. We ended up talking and I told him that I was a singer and that I was looking for someone who could produce a sound that I described as urban gypsy. It so happened that I was talking to the right person. Dru and I ended up becoming roommates and working on the Urban Gypsy Circus music project almost every day. He used the authentic live gypsy recordings he had from Loredana Groza, who’s like the Madonna of Romania. He's friends with her and got permission from her to use the recordings and make completely new songs for our project. Dru is also a Hip-Hop producer. He makes beats night and day, so the combination was actually very organic. He cut and chopped all different melodic lines and mixed them with his vault of drum beats to create the sound that I had dreamed of, urban gypsy.

Adam Bernard: I recently saw you perform at a Hip-Hop show where you were the only singer and the only female on the bill. What were your initial thoughts on opening for a male, emcee dominated show and is this something you’re used to at this point?
Miz Metro: I have been performing at Hip-Hop shows since I was 16, so it’s quite natural for me. I feel very comfortable around MCs. I used to organize jam sessions all the time my senior year of high school and had MCs come through. The parties turned into a place for artistic people to come together and I’m like the mutant baby of all those different musical genres and art forms. I also spent a lot of time over at Urban Word in high school, they’re a not-for-profit that organizes the city wide teen poetry slam and hosts free workshops. I was a grand slam finalist in 2005 in which I was one of 20 teen poets out of 600 kids who made it past six rounds at various different slams. It was the vibrant youth poetry scene that really led me to hone my craft as a lyricist and influenced some of the spoken word that is heard in some of my songs.

Adam Bernard: I noticed a little bit of cabaret in your performance, so I’m wondering, what kind of background do you have in theater?
Miz Metro: I have been acting since I was a child and grew up in the acting business. I went to LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts for acting and graduated with awards of excellence from the drama department and music department. I was also awarded merit recognition from National Foundation for the Arts Presidential Scholars for Musical Theatre/Theatre Spoken which put me in the top 3% of young performers in the country. I was never too into musical theatre, I was very focused on my singing and my acting crafts, but the two definitely got married over the years through my performing. Cabaret is storytelling which is what jazz is, which is what art is to me ultimately, so I guess you could say I’m a bit cabaret. I’m very theatrical. Eventually I am probably going to develop my genre into a Hip-Hop cabaret show of sorts. I have some friends from NYU’s Tish program that want to produce a burlesque show for me as part of this years Howl festival. I’m very excited about that, it should be fun!

Adam Bernard: Finally, I happen to know you are a baller in the most literal sense, so take this opportunity to tell the world about Miz Metro’s skills on the court.
Miz Metro: I’ve been playing basketball since I was nine years old. I spent three months standing two feet from the hoop shooting with one hand, determined to have a perfect shot. I was the first girl to shoot with one hand out of all the other kids I played basketball with, most of the boys still shot with two hands. I was very determined to score. Throughout high school I was captain of my basketball team and averaged 20 points a game. I used to have a basketball court across the street from my building on 92nd Street and I’d jump the fence every night to practice my free throws. Basketball kept me out of a lot of trouble and helped me deal with my aggression and anger. I had a rough home life at different times and being on a team really saved me. I think it was a big anchor that allowed me to thrive in so many different areas. I would have pursued playing D1 (Division 1) or D2 (Division 2) ball in college but around the time when people normally get scouted was when all I wanted to do was sing. I did play for the women’s varsity and JV team my first semester at Hunter College last year and I scored 26 points off the bench my first game back for the JV team. I’m transferring to SUNY Purchase starting in the fall and will be playing for their women’s varsity basketball team.

For more Miz Metro check out mizmetro.com, myspace.com/mizmetro & downtowntv.com. She’s also designing her own line of clothing and accessories with cityslickaz.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:47 AM  
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