What’s the Big Idea??
What began as Complete Natural Entertainment, LLC., Big Sounds Better, a production company/independent record label was founded in 2016 by New York musician and current CEO, Keith “Mike Pro” Greaves. With a passion for music, a dated Macbook Pro, a M-Audio Fast Track interface, and a couple of drum mics, Greaves decided to move from the Bronx to Brooklyn to start a production company. In a minimalist age of popular music, Greaves envisioned an alternative sound that is both timeless and meaningful.Greaves rented a modest apartment in East New York, centered around a 15ft x 17ft bedroom. Saving every dime earned primarily by gigging around New York with notable musicians, Greaves began purchasing professional recording equipment. By the end of 2015 he had built a full production studio equipped with: a 32 channel analog mixer, an eight channel audio interface set to record live instruments, a vocal booth, and a full drum kit. To execute his vision he knew he would need to be aligned with like-minded individuals. Once the studio was ready, there was only one thing left for Greaves to acquire; the perfect team.
In February of 2016, Greaves met Michael “BX” James II at the Nabe Lounge in Harlem, NY. The two developed a friendship immediately and from that day forward BX was at the studio every night. They spent countless hours producing music which often resulted in BX humbly sleeping on the floor. Quickly recognizing the quality of the music they created, BX introduced Greaves to his fellow bandmate, guitarist/bassist Ibzan “Ibby” Cummings; an undeniable talent on stage and in the studio. Ibby and Greaves soon bonded in a similar way and he quickly became an intricate member of the production team. That same month, Greaves was introduced to a guitarist named Alex “A.I.” Leontyev via mutual friend and New York rapper “Gully Got’em”. A.I., much like BX, was enamored by the potential of this growing production company. A.I. became a regular at the studio, offering song ideas that went along with Greaves’ vision of big, musically rich records.
A month later, while playing drums for Sunday Services at the Mount Zion Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Greaves developed a friendship with organist/pianist Jeremy Stathum. Jeremy’s knowledge and passion for music was evident. Greaves knew he would make for a great addition to the team. However, Jeremy was unable to frequently travel to East New York. To make it work, Greaves decided he would bring a small recording set-up to the church to track Jeremy’s parts.On the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the Inspired Word Open Mic Series, A.I. met rapper/lyricist/producer Andrew “Andy Box” Boxman. Andy Box was the resident musician at the series when A.I. noticed his talent and approached him with the intent of bringing him to Greaves’ studio. However, it wasn’t until late April when Andy Box met Greaves at the Nabe Cafe that he was compelled to go. That very night, Andy Box drove with them back to East New York and they got to writing and recording a song. The musical chemistry between Andy Box and the production team was so organic, their session didn’t end until 5am the next morning.
The production team was progressing rapidly. They routinely found themselves in late night recording sessions that extended into the “wee hours” of the morning. Greaves’ team was now 6 people strong. His production catalog grew to over 50 songs in no time. Simultaneously, his studio became the hotspot for fresh new talent in New York City. By the end of the Summer, the team had noticeably outgrown the apartment in East New York. Almost every night Greaves’ studio was overflowing with people. The end of his lease was approaching and he knew that relocating was inevitable; the question was, where? At the end of August, Greaves traveled to South Florida to visit family. The first night there, he was introduced to future team member and vocalist/lyricist Shanna-lee Fletcher. After hearing Shanna Lee sing, Greaves instantly knew that there was a greater purpose to the trip. Upon returning to New York, Greaves emailed Shanna Lee a few records. Within hours, Shanna Lee returned a completed song. Greaves listened and felt affirmed that Shanna Lee would be a part of that “greater purpose”. He returned to Brooklyn in early September and was immediately overwhelmed with the desire to relocate to Florida. After sharing that desire with the team, to his surprise, BX, A.I., and Andy were instantly willing and able to make the move. Jeremy and Ibby, though equally interested, had obligations that prevented them from moving immediately.
The search begins. On October 11, 2016, Greaves and Boxman flew to Fort Lauderdale to start house-hunting. It didn’t take long to find what is now known as the Big Sounds Better Studio. They mapped out their set-up inside an empty house and realized it might just work. Hours before their flight home, they received notice that the lease was accepted and they could move-in on November 1st. Boxman signed the lease in the airport on his laptop before takeoff.
In the two weeks that followed, Greaves, BX, A.I., and Andy incorporated as an LLC. They packed up their belongings in addition to the full recording studio into a 24-foot Budget Rental Truck, A.I.’s 2005 Lexus, and Andy’s Ford Escape. They left early on the morning of October 31st and within days of moving in, the studio was painted, wired, and working. The creative energy in South Florida continued to give birth to great records.The musical vision of Big Sounds Better was present from the beginning. It was necessary that the production team maintained the “Big” criteria on each record produced.
In February of 2017 the house experienced a flood, and though no equipment was seriously damaged the damp studio space in the front of the house was deemed to be inadequate. Within three weeks, the four guys built an entirely new, upgraded studio in the back wing of the house. In the midst of all the confusion surrounding the re-construction of the studio, the guys were able to come up with and agree upon the name that now speaks the brand in its entirety, Big Sounds Better.
In July, Jeremy made the final move to South Florida. With all the pieces to the puzzle in place, Big Sounds Better continued producing “BIG” records and performing at an array of venues including: Blue Martini, The Garden, Ali Cultural Arts Center, Gigi’s Music Cafe and many more. They were immediately recognized for their unique sound.
In December 2017, the band took their sound to the streets of “Art Basel” once again and began garnering a bit of a following and buzz within Wynwood. They became the house band at a popular Miami open-mic series “Speak Fridays”. To date, they have been featured at the “Wynwood’s Finest” Festival several times as well as “Chillin’ N Grillin” Festival, and The Wynwood Yard.
In January 2018, Big Sounds Better released their debut EP “The ‘Big’ EP” finding airplay and charting on college radio stations throughout the country including WNSU in Fort Lauderdale, KDUP in Portland Oregon, and WESS East Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania. Throughout January and February, the band was playing shows from Daytona’s “Main Street Live” Festival to SXSW in Austin, Texas.
In mid March, Big Sounds Better was featured at the Miami Music Expo alongside brands like Yamaha, RME Audio, and Eventide Audio. With engineer Ariel Lopez, the band recorded a live in-studio performance for dozens of expo attendees. The performance was mentioned in “Sound-On-Sound” magazine.
On March 29th Big Sounds Better won the 2018 “SunFest Battle of the Bands”. They appeared on WPTV, the WPTV Helipad Sessions, as well as in interviews on 98.7 “The Gater” and their Facebook Live Channel. They appeared at “SunFest” 2018, Sunday May 6th on the JetBlue Stage. Their performance was mentioned on Wild 95.5 Instagram Story as “spectacular”. They have a growing fan base in West Palm Beach appearing at CityPlace on June 23rd and drawing a crowd of several hundreds.
Their latest single, “Declaration of a Dream (D.O.A.D)” is available now everywhere you listen/buy music. Their debut album is due out later in 2018.
Mike “Pro” Greaves is a drummer, record producer, and engineer from New York City. Greaves has been drumming professionally for over 15 years. His unique style of drumming is influenced by gospel musicians, Motown musicians, and r&b/soul musicians. His production style is similar to Quincy Jones meets Dr. Dre. Greaves founded BSB in 2016 and continues to lead the group today.
Andy Box is a progressive artist, record producer, and music entrepreneur from the New York/New Jersey area. As the frontman and lyricist for BSB, Andy draws from his wide range of musical influences which include Outkast, Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, Lil Wayne, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beatles, and more. His musical style is urban progressive: think Lupe Fiasco meets Adam Levine meets U2 meets Motown. Andy is an electrifying performer on stage and in the studio, entertaining audiences with his infectiously catchy hooks and layers of intelligent lyrics.
Michael “BX” James, II was born & raised in the Bronx, NY. He began drumming at the age of 3 and later in his career, learned to play both Piano & Bass Guitar professionally. By the age of 14, BX taught himself how to record & produce music. BX’s musical influences are, but definitely not limited to, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Kendrick Lamar, Bob Marley, Timbaland, Dr. Dre, Fred Hammond & many more
Alex “Ai” Leon
As a member of Big Sounds Better, Alex “Ai” Leon’s primary instrument is guitar. Initially, he was influenced by guitarist such as Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman, Kirk Hammet, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Eric Clapton, Randy Rhoads, Steve Vai, and Joe Satriani. Over the years, he has become more heavily influenced by, and adopted a style similar to Nile Rodgers, Larry Carlton, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Tommy Emanuel.
Jeremy Stathum is a keyboardist/organist from Linden, New Jersey. Jeremy has created his own style of playing crafted out of his musical influences which include Robert Glasper, Travis Sayles, & Cory Henry: Glasper’s jazzy style, Sayles’ smooth, R&B progressions and Henry’s funky/gospel approach. He has been playing for over 13 years and now as a member of BSB, Jeremy continues to explore his unique style of musicianship one BIG record at a time.