Squeeze Rock
Gig Seeker Pro

Squeeze Rock

Albany, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Albany, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Alternative Rock

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

Music

Press


Ghorar Deem Express & Julz-A -- If you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t — at least not until you’ve attended this concert, which includes not one but two performances by accordion-playing rappers ... held at the Zeitgeist Gallery — with this show at the same space, which is now called the Lily Pad. Joining in will be Brooklyn-based MC Julz-A, who plays accordion while unfolding rhymes over pre-recorded beats. - The Boston Globe


A self-described "eclectic punker in a suit," Julz-A might best be characterized as a fringe artist who seamlessly combines his musical prowess with showmanship and an offbeat sense of humor. Squeeze Right is the second release by this accordion-toting rapper, and I must express my thanks for his willingness to provide a genre tag ("squeeze rock") where none other exists. While hip-hop rarely tops my list of beloved musical styles, Julz-A has somehow taken my preconceived notions and scattered them to the wind.

Referring to his instrument of choice as an "axe" (despite us guitar players thinking we had a monopoly on that one), Julz-A has an uncanny ability to play with such ease and conviction that you forget he's a skinny young redhead with an accordion. Squeeze Right sees him throwing down four tracks of his patented style that mixes equal parts of Beck, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Outkast into a simmering amalgam of alt-rock bliss. Tracks such as "Sunshine Decay" capture the essence of Julz-A's twisted genius, as he alternates between rapped verses and catchy choruses with a certain cleverness dictating the overall flow. On the flipside, "Where (In the Words)" emphasizes skillful wordplay to create a rhythmically engaging piece that is familiar in its overall effect, and yet strange in its methods for achieving it. The song itself isn't all that odd, but the accordion runs combined with the vocal phrasing make it stand out as one of the disc's more unique moments.

Upon first listen, it sounded as though Squeeze Right was recorded with ample bass, keyboard, and drum accompaniment. However, research indicates that all sounds (except for the drums) were created by nothing more than an accordion. Over the years, Julz-A (real name: Julian Hintz) has perfected the art of sound manipulation by running his squeeze box through a series of effects pedals. While certainly creative and interesting, one would think that such a medium has a limited range of possibilities. Nonetheless, Julz-A wards off naysayers by producing tones that closely emulate guitars, basses, and synthesizers. Despite the fact that most people can only name Weird Al Yankovic when pressed for the names of contemporary accordion players, be assured that Julz-A will join the list in due time.

As a final note, I found it rather interesting that Julz-A resents those who refer to his music as a novelty. After all, his artistic platform and physical appearance might easily compel the lesser-informed to draw such a conclusion. But after listening to Squeeze Right repeatedly and finding something new with each spin, I have a better grasp of why such a description is objectionable to him. This may be just one guy laying down multiple accordion tracks with a drum machine running in the background, but the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Anyone who writes him off just for the fact that his lead instrument is more commonly associated with polkas than rock concerts is missing out. - Stereo Subversion


Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up! For the pleasure of your ears and eyes is a man who came to entertain. Accompanied by accordion (hence the title of his first album, "Squeeze Rock") and donning a vested suit, Julz A's catchy compositions are a colorful time-trip mash-up. Taking the stage like a rock/hip-hop turn of the century carnival, Julz will amuse at the January 24 Songwriter Showcase.

Julz A is a showman whose persona is made unique by his high-energy formally-attired performances, humorous attitude, and entertaining feats. On one live highlight video, Julz is seen playing a 'baby accordion' in one song, performing as an almost vaudevillean lounge singer in another, and breaking out a solo dance routine to top things off. In 2006, Julz performed on Showtime At The Apollo.

According to his website, Julz A has been described as "a rapping version of Jimi Hendrix on the accordion." To get an idea of his sound, consider influences such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, and OutKast. Julz's own description of his music as being "fundamentally alternative rock" is accurate -- the backbone of his compositions echo 90's alt-rock song structures, chord changes, and tempos.. except that from behind his bowtie Julz raps most of his lyrics, and accordion, ever-popular in rock and roll, is the predominant accompanying instrument. - Jezebel Music


[Julz A] owes certain aesthetic debts to hip-hop and klezmer music, despite being white and Lutheran. ... Take a quick spin through [Julz A's] recent Squeeze Right EP and what you'll hear is dark and desperate pop that has much more in common with Robert Johnson than Sir Jimmy Shand. Not that it's all sturm und drang — 'Play Your Ax,' for instance cleverly balances levity with lethality; 'Where in the Words' plays with rhetorical conventions (the magic of the word 'if') over a danceable goodtime beat. ...

The point is, bub, you're not staring down the barrel of a hand buzzer here. These aren't novelty acts, ya see. Not that some don't make the leap before hearing the music. "Early on I made the conscious decision that my music would not have novelty elements,' [Julz A] said. 'There's always gimmick in rock shows, though, whether it's lighting of smoke or costumes. You have to make yourself stand out somehow. The accordion is what makes me stand out. Now, because it's the accordion and it does have the history of being the uncool instrument, I have to work even harder to make sure that the accordion looks cool and acts cool. I make sure that I don't come across as 'Weird Al' Yankovic trying to make fun of myself." - Wichita City Paper


Layering slinking beats over the sounds of his squeezebox, Julz-A ... rewrites nearly every rock precept laid down before him, ushering a new realm of artistry and experimentation into the hip-hop pantheon. - Asbury Park Press


When Julian Hintz was 16, the San Diego, Calif., teen put his classical-music-trained hands on an accordion and he did what felt good -- squeeze the box and finger-hustle-up a little Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze."

"It probably sounded a little klunky but it rocked and all my friends at the party loved it," Hintz said. "That kept me going."

And it still does.

Hintz, a New York City resident for the past six years, has continued that wide open accordion experimentation, adding electronic elements, hip hop and a whole lot of rock in a sizzling style that could be described as They-Might-Be-Giants-meets-Beck-at-a-polka-juiced street party...

"It is an experimental scene so you can sort of do anything anywhere," Hintz said by phone. "I definitely stand alone though. There other squeeze rockers, and there's been just rock accordion there for a time and they're all doing something different but I think I am the only one rapping."

Hintz, who is classically trained as a percussionist and a pianist, said he started experimenting with a lot of things after moving to NYC after graduating from CalArts.

"I started with Japanese punk players and they taught me the art of showmanship," Hintz said. "Then I got into the free jazz scene and the improv stuff and eventually, I've always been into spoken word, and I had always did a Public Enemy cover, so I got together with another MC and a DJ and started doing stuff together."

When that band broke up, Hintz found himself working alone, but not for long.

Hintz was chilling before a gig as a featured performer from the underground Anti-Folk scene of New York City's famed Sidewalk Café when he sat down beside Scandal, who attended Cal Arts while Hintz was there, although the two had never met.

The rest is Scandal and Squeeze Rock history.

Scandal, who had opened for such acts as Tenacious D and Jason Mraz, hooked up with the rapping accordion player with the punk rock attitude and hit the road last fall playing a week of shows in Austin that culminated in a Halloween performance opening for Grammy nominated Eliza Gilkyson.

They are stoked to be headed back toward Austin especially since they are gigging in the "Live Music Capital of the World," on March 13 during the infamous South by Southwest Music Festival that takes over Austin with every flavor of indie music under the sun.

Armed with his usual bag of wrenches, screwdrivers and prayers that the reeds all stay waxed in, Julz-A is ready to bring the accordion's hidden flavor and to rock America's pre-conceived notions of the accordion one coffeehouse, club, cabaret, cathedral and country saloon at a time.

"When people find out I play the accordion I automatically get pigeonholed into polka or Zydeco or something that is the serene side and I can make melodies and make a tune pretty," Hintz said. "I am happy to do that for people but my goal is to bring it out as a lead instrument that people can take serious and that can rock out. I like to stick in some power chords and make the thing rock." - Herald-Dispatch


White guys and live instruments may be minorities in hip-hop, but they are not so rare. Julian Hintz, who performs as Julz A, still manages to be a hip-hop anomaly, however: he rhymes while playing the accordion. The instrument is less apt to roll with the posse than roll out the barrel, but onstage Mr. Hintz, 27, is polka's antithesis. Fingers fanned out at chest level, terry-cloth band on his wrist, leaning back slightly, he strikes a classic rapper's pose despite playing an instrument that has been relegated to Dorkville at least since the Beatles. Mr. Hintz has long aimed to sex up the squeezebox: after he picked up the accordion at 16, the first song he learned to play was "Purple Haze." Today he uses a wah-wah pedal and distortion on tracks like "Julz-A.com" ("What's that new sound/ accordion lowdown" and "the accordion man/ with the rockin' hand") from his first solo EP, "Squeeze Rock," to be released at a Knitting Factory show on Aug. 30. Mr. Hintz discussed a few other modern appearances of the accordion with Andrew Adam Newman.

"ROCKY RACCOON," the Beatles (1968): "This is one of those songs where the accordion fills a theatrical role. It comes in for about 10 seconds - when 'the doctor comes in, stinking of gin' - and then disappears again. And it's intentionally played badly - the style of drunk playing."

"COLD, COLD GROUND," Tom Waits (1987): "Every time I tell people I play the accordion, they say, 'You must love Tom Waits.' I don't. The way he uses the accordion is a gimmick. He's just taking accordion waltzes and sticking them into a minor key to create this scene, and even though he's trying to create this dark mood it still seems sort of goofy."

"THE DOWNEASTER ALEXA," Billy Joel (1989): "It's a beautiful swooping ballad with solid songwriting and a great melody. I can't really complain about it except that the accordion is not featured. I personally play accordion as if it's the guitar in a rock band - the accordion is playing the main riff rather than the guitar player doing it. But in pop music the accordion oftentimes works as padding to give harmonic support."

"PARTICLE MAN," They Might Be Giants (1990): "The riff for the accordion is the most similar approach to what I do in these examples. It has a unique line that uses no traditional accordion style. There's no one-two style (boom, chick, boom, chick) that's so prevalent in traditional accordion music."

"JESUS DOESN'T WANT ME FOR A SUNBEAM," Nirvana (1993): "I'm a big Nirvana fan. The accordion-playing was very traditional, but it was still a traditional punk-rock song. It had a melancholy quality that was kind of sweet." - New York Times


Defend Yourself!
by CHASE STAUFFER

March 22, 2006

Julz-A (aka Julian Hintz) has contributed to the current New York scene a shtick so twisted that not even Nick Sylvester could have dreamt it up: The dude raps and he plays accordion. At the same fucking time. Hintz—a California-native punker turned Brooklyn bellow-blaster—hits the road soon to unleash his particular brand of old-skool polyrhythms and hand gestures on the unsuspecting folk at The Lily Pad. Be cautious, but not afraid: Julz-A has never had to clip a fool … yet.

So I think I may have misread your press release. You rap and play … accordion.
Yes.

Simultaneously.
Yes.

What is the most difficult part of that?
Working out the polyrhythms that arise because of it. I like to play at the same time for a couple reasons. One, it's a difficult thing to do, and I've never seen too many people do it. Uhhh—it's basically like singing while you play, but I'm rapping.

OK.
And the other thing is, you get a lot of classic rapper poses playing the squeezebox. The way the hands move, with the bellows, are exactly—or not exactly, but very similar to the hand positions that classic MCs used.

How does one go from accordionist to MC?
As I got into the poetry of songwriting, rap just sort of seemed easy and just like the right thing to do. But, you know, it just started progressing as I learned more and more about different MCs, popular culture and the underground—and eventually I joined a hip-hop band.

So would you say you’re more East Coast? West Coast?
Bottom line is, I’m mostly old-skool.

So you’re strapped with the accordion … all the time?
Again, I try to stay away from gangsta lingo and lyrics. I’ve called it my axe before.

Ever tried to start a beef with a harpist, or, like, a French horn player?
I have not done it yet, but I do have a sort of a mini-weekend tour coming up with a ukulele player. So—

—oh, god. That’s like Biggie and Tupac going on tour together.
[laughs] Yeah.

Anything else in defense of accordionist MCs?
Oh … well. Uhhh. Keep squeeze rockin’. - Boston's Weekly Dig


Burlington, Vermont - July 1, 2007

A musician performing in Burlington this month combines two very different styles as he squeezes out a living.

Julian Hintz performs under the name JULZ-A. He's from New York City but is appearing at Nectar's in Burlington for the next three Saturdays. He raps while playing the accordion. JULZ-A has performed at the world-famous Apollo Theater, rapping about how difficult it sometimes can be to fit in. The performer believes he's the only touring artist who combines these musical forms.

Hintz says, "It's definitely not your usual mixture of sounds, instrument, and voice. And most people don't believe it when I tell them. And sometimes even after they see it they don't believe. But I always tell people they have to see it to believe it."

You can see it, and believe it, for yourself. JULZ-A will take the famous stage at Nectar's July 7th, 14th, and 21st at seven o'clock each night. Those shows are free.

Jack Thurston - WCAX News - WCAX News


By Jason Keller
June 8, 2006

If he wanted to create something truly unique, he succeeded...In fact, he might just be one of the must-see acts of NXNE.
- NOW Magazine


Discography

"Hungry" Single, 2012
"Look At That" EP, 2011
"Look At That" Single, 2010
"Life On Marz" LP, 2009
(Dameusic)
"Squeeze Right" EP, 2007 (Lost Penny Music)
"Live From Here" LP, 2007 (Dameusic)
"Squeeze Rock" EP, 2005 (Lost Penny Music)
"Urban Shocker" LP, 2004 (Head Fulla Brains)
"Gibberish Junk" LP, 2002 (Lost Penny Music)

Photos

Bio

Fingers fanned out at chest level, terry-cloth band on his wrist, leaning back slightly, [Julz A] strikes a classic rappers pose despite playing an instrument that has been relegated to Dorkville at least since the Beatles.

Andrew Adam Newman, New York Times

Julz-A might best be characterized as a fringe artist who seamlessly combines his musical prowess with showmanship and an offbeat sense of humorhe has somehow taken my preconceived notions and scattered them to the wind.

Chris Alfano, Stereo Subversion

Squeeze Rock is the name and genre tag for the musical styles of Julian Julz-A Hintz. Squeeze Rock is an Accordion alternative; Julz-A sings and raps while playing the Squeeze Box.  Having twice brought legendary Apollo Theater audiences to their feet on national TV alongside Whoopi, Chingy and Ray Chew first on Showtime at the Apollo and again on Amateur Night at the Apollo The sound can be compared to such rapping artists as Beck, Outkast, Primus, and Rage Against The Machine.

Julz-A uses the accordion as a central figure in the rock riffs of his songs.  The Squeeze Rock sound is fundamentally alternative rock music with influences ranging from Hip-Hop to Western Classical music, while even leaving room for the world music of the instrument. Squeeze Rock pushes the envelope in how we hear melodic guitar-driven music, Julz-A displays an unmistakable and unusual character with the accordion.  The presentation is simple and rooted in the pop sounds of the current century, but the use of accordion pushes this eclectic sound into the unique realm that only Squeeze Rock can dwell.