Week in Pop: 14KT, BLSHS, Bonfires, TLGLTP, Tropic Harbour, The Visibles

Sjimon Gompers

Spinning 7" singles in between phone calls with Masta Ace. (courtesy of 14KT, cover courtesy of Bonfires, alt photo from The Visibles)

How can you ever define a week in full? How can you put a singular price or come up with some kind of clever, all encompassing catch-all that can ever sum up or satisfy the meaning of a week in pop culture that will have any degree of relevance? These are the questions that keep some of us up late at night, wondering what it all meant and continues to mean and the bearing it may present in our own day to day lives. But this was the week that was all “Control“-Big SeanKendrick LamarJay Electronica everything, RiFF RAFF's Kendrick verse response with “Ballin' Outta Control“, Disclosure now wants to work with Kendrick, Katy Perry versus Lady Gaga release wars, Coolio exchanging rights to songs for a new found culinary career, the “Blurred Lines” of ripoff between Robin Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I. versus Marvin Gaye's estate/Bridgeport Music/Funkadelic, Foxygen pulls the plug on their FYF gig citing injuries to Sam France, Miguel got a D.U.I., and big ups to Martin Hannett's assistant Julia Adamson for her discovering and saving historical master tapes from Joy Division/New Order. We will leave you to your own deductions and reductions, because this week we had the opportunity to enjoy music, conversations, media, video and exclusives with the following set of great musicians who have been making our little worlds so much better-in no particular order.

(photo courtesy of Kenza Chaouai)

The diamond crate creator and beatsmith, 14KT dropped his Lincoln Lux (Test Drive EP) for a spin around the block in a ride made in Michigan. “Crystal Figurines” shines from these manipulated noise abstracts before coursing through some high end sportster-synths that move like million dollar display cases that show off the brand new sedan of the future. In a manner that fellow like minded producers like Lee Bannon and Alchemist work with is a type of production that incorporates narrative qualities of structural arcs; “Figurines” moves to its own story regiment before being met by the transitional sample point that samples a classic commercial, “introducing the Lincoln Luxury that was designed to move”. This cues the “Lincoln Lux” that keeps it pushing fanning synth-spit shine chrome that breezes off the lot and to the sickest getaways imaginable. The romantic samples heard on the previous cut “Lux” get carried over into the romantic evening trip interiors of “Rosey Posey”, before returning to his more abstract spaces of the emotion that create chopped rhythm framework and divided movements on the fatigue fighter, “No Sleep (The Sound of Stress)”. KT's album Nickel & Dimed will be available September 3 from the Mello Music Group, but stick around while we kick it with the man behind the wheels of steel himself.

14KT was kind enough to give us the view from behind the decks, sharing thoughts on hip-hop royalty, and working with the dopest emcees around.

Many producers have an old school, found groove sound, what inspires your own futuristic atmospheres?

My inspiration changes from time to time, but as of right, most of my inspiration is drawn from looking at what I've personally accomplished already sonically and attempting to create in a style that I haven't before. I think it's easier to think of where to go next if you just focus on what you haven't touched on before. This could mean using a different method to produce or even different sounds.

What do you find yourself listening to when your not recording and mixing beats?

I go through phases of what I listen to all the time. Right now, I've actually been listening to a lot of jazz records. Artists like Yusef Lateef, Johnny Hammond, Pharoah Sanders, and Chick Corea. Basically I listen to a bunch of geniuses.

What was your instrumental ethos in constructing Nickel and Dimed?

It was a combination of a few things. The title initially stemmed from a frustration that built up inside me as a producer/beat maker existing within the standards of the world. There's a deeper spiritual meaning, that doesn't really have much to do with the actual music on the album though. The music is pretty much me giving you my talent, what I enjoy doing, along with underlining statements and messages. The concept actually lies simply in the action of me releasing the album. Watch what happens to it.

Do you craft your productions after the featured rhyme styles of Black Milk, MED, Blu, Kokane, etc?

For this project I didn't do that. The music was actually done before I got the features on the album. However, when I wanted to get features, I knew exactly which tracks that I could hear each artist on, except for the record I did with Blu. I wanted to hear Blu on that type of record because it kind of forced Blu to rap with a different emotion that most people are not accustomed to hearing from Blu. It came out dope too!

Thoughts on the cut “Crown” and the perceptions of royalty in the hip hop circuits?

I really think Black Milk summed it up best in the hook “Look around, everybody tryna blow and hold the crown”.

I felt him when he said that. You know, when I think of kingship, from my knowledge, most kings were appointed based on inheritance or even elected by the people in a sense. However, since there's no rules in hip-hop nowadays, everybody just feels like if they CLAIM to be King, then they ARE a King. Now Hip-hop is full of King claimers, instead of artists just focusing on their craft, being dope, and letting God and the people appoint them with the crown instead.

Get a listen to 14KT's “Crown (feat. Black Milk, MED)”

BLSHS, bust out the rainbow neon blush courtesy of Houston, TX trio of Rick Carruth, Michelle Miears, and Chris Gore with their synth lazer zapping “Just Wait”. You may remember them from Neon Lips, and now with their debut EP, Abstract Desires slated for release on Synth Records later this year, Michelle sends out vocal signals carried by Chris and Rick's arrangements that give life to the great new wave cult soundtrack that waited all these years to finally be spring to life. Despite the many 80s references that everyone and I have been throwing around, nothing here is crystallized in stone like Michelle's prayer of, “A fate I hope you haven’t sealed”. With Houston known for it's epicenter of influential hip-hop, BLSHS breaks the time capsule with a familiar cadre that bounces between the analogous gear that could have been easily over-produced but the 3 combine a cosmetic aural elixir that smears the scattered concrete pebbles into a patient pointed sign to tomorrow and now. “Hang tight just wait around for me, but while you’re here, stand back, I need some space, hang tight just wait around, we’ll see, if you can stand the time it takes”.

Chris got in touch with us and entertained our bad 80s jokes and dishes out the dirt on their upcoming album Abstract Desires.

The DeLorean transportation to 1985, and how do the 3 of you make it happen?

The trick with time travel is finding a midi interface that can handle the 1.21 Jigawatts needed to power the synths and the 808s at the same time.

We want to know all the dirt and all the goodness in the works from Abstract Desires.

We have an EP worth of songs that we've been playing live, but we decided to spend a month just writing for Abstract Desires. We are about two weeks in and it is going great. The new stuff so far seems a little faster, darker and more minimal than the songs we are playing live. Rick recently got the push and Ableton really nailed it! It is inspiring to work on. Michelle has started recording vocals for a few of the new tracks. We are super excited about the direction they are going.

Behind the scenes thoughts on the album in production?

‘Just Wait’ is one of the first songs we wrote together from the ground up as BLSHS. It came together very naturally. We worked remotely, sending files all over the internet at first. It may seem strange, but that was pretty normal for us. Having only started writing songs, we decided to start playing out, which led to us spending a lot of time working together in the same small studio. We synced immediately, and as soon as our first show was over we re-tracked the synths and vocals for “Just Wait” to have more energy.

Thoughts on the making of the synth dream soundtrack theme to “Just Wait”, influences, inspirations, back stories of interest?

We are so hooked on this X priest X – Samurai track right now; I can't really remember what we were into when writing “Just Wait”.

Bonfires premieres their new track “Future Lives”, that sends the focuses on the things that matter now and may not be around in the great tomorrow after. Brought together by a shared sense of duress during a European backpacking trip, P.T. Fischer from LA, Johan Sommarfint and Artur Knutson from Helsingborg, Sweden and Paris, France's Jean Ancelet brough a creative cathartic focus through song writing. As Jean tried to make sense over his parent's divorce, Johan and Artur were mourning the loss of a childhood friend and P.T. was getting over a bad break up; but through the “if our lives are worth living” mantra they stir the type of dominating pop that takes hold of life with both hand with well arranged, and well built hooks to support the life affirming streaming banners of amplified ambiance for amphitheaters, anywhere. Bonfires' album Future Lives is available now via Bandcamp.

Along with debuting their title track today, we talked with P.T. Fischer about the band's constructive manners of cross country courses of communications, childhood memories, personal reflections, and revelations.

Coming from such disparate places as LA, Helsingborg and Paris; what methods do you use to collaborate musically across foreign waters?

I think people rub off on each other much more than they want to admit. Everyone is so proud of being an individual nowadays that they forget how a special person can shift you without even you knowing it. You find yourself talking like them, playing like them, or even changing how you do things because you can feel your reflection in them. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I forget that we're from different places.

And if you're just talking logistics: the internet.

Through cathartic commiseration through grief, how does collaborating on such spirit raising anthems help you find release and resolve?

There’s always a moment when you write a song where it finally works. Where the idea comes through and it's been in your head for so long and you know it's supposed to sound a certain way, and then all of the sudden, it finally does! And you can feel it wash over you. Kind of like when you've had that really long day, and you finally have the hottest most perfect shower and you know you have a whiskey/glass of wine waiting for you.

With these songs, these feelings just seemed to happen at a time where we all really needed them.

And the idea that these songs might be considered “spirit raising” genuinely made me smile just now. Thank you.

Like the chorus line 'when it's all said and done', where do you all find that these “Future Lives” live and exist?

All of these future lives exist parallel and into eternity with the ones we live now. You write the story of how your life is going to go. How your job is going to go. How you and your love are going to be ten years from now. And each time you open your eyes in the morning, those future lives change too. And each day they grow and spawn others or dwindle and die off. But the future lives seem as real as the ones we actually live. and you mourn them just as bad when they're gone.

Why does some of the best creative work in the world stem from rising above life's wreckages?

I don't know if I've ever risen above a wreckage- crawled out belly scraping the ground, maybe? But I think when you're at a low point, you're forced to focus. Some people are better at gathering those perspectives. Stretching themselves out. For instance, some people inherently understand that no matter their life circumstances, they are fundamentally unchanged.

For me, the more upset I feel, the more I need to find some way to get that energy into something else. “Hours” was, ironically, written in minutes on one of the lowest days of my life. It sounded really close to how it does now, and I remember playing and singing and for those moments being happy that I wasn't thinking about anything else.

Whenever there's a tragedy in the world, there seems to be people ready to rally to the cause. It might be the single greatest quality of us. Maybe in a small, and unimportant, way, all the creative work we do is just our way of rallying.

Does your name Bonfires pertain to the art of burning off the weight of worries?

It might have more to me being obsessed with fire. To this day, if there's one near me I can't look at anything else.

My mom's a Buddhist, and after my grandma died when I was young, our whole family had to wear these white, pajama-like garments to all of the funeral ceremonies for a year after the death. At the end of the year, we met at the temple for a final ceremony. My uncle, the eldest son of the family, collected the garments and burnt them to signify the end of our mourning. Monks chanted in Vietnamese, and we were supposed to be happy.

In a completely unrelated true story, I once nearly burnt down my parents house. I started by lighting tiny wisps of toilet paper and laughing to myself as they hit the water with a sizzle. Then I got greedy and tried the whole roll. I screamed at the top of my lungs as the flames soared towards the drapes, barely managing to shut the lid and smother the fire, charring the toilet seat in the process.

Actually never mind what I just said. Let’s just stick with the first paragraph.

Also the second paragraph may or may not have been last week.

With it having been a while since we gave an award for Best New Band Name, this week is goes to Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party, or TLGLTP for short. The Scotland by Canada group is comprised of, Mike Shindler, Donné Torr, Benny Sch

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