Week in Pop: L.A. Girlfriend, Paw Paw, r.e.l., Stefan Jós, Yuzima

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Boycrush, Double King, Main Attrakionz, Yueseddit Brothers, guest selections by Camera Shy.

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Sjimon Gompers | May 15, 2015

L.A. Girlfriend's Sydney Banta kicking with a t-rex, debut her video for "Runner", & interview. Photograph courtesy of Amanda D'Egidio.

Presenting your weekly dose of fresh inspirations, Impose’s Week in Pop gives you the latest big breakthroughs, and a rundown of the week’s headlines. Big news as the California State Senate presented Kendrick Lamar with the esteemed honor of being the 35th Senate District’s Generational Icon; Royal Trux’s epic enfants terribles Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty are indeed reuniting, playing Berserktown II festival in LA on August 16; Mac DeMarco extended his tour with a listen to, “The Way You’d Love Her“; Kanye West performed “All Day” at the Bulls v. Cavs Playoffs match last Sunday, while the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) awarded Yeezy an honorary doctorate; Sky Ferreira is releasing a film and song this summer; Azealia Banks revealed that the title of her new album is called, Business & Pleasure; James Murphy is reportedly opening a wine bar called Four Horsemen this June in Williamsburg with his wife, Christina Topsoe; fresh from his “Lannister’s Anthem” cut off the Game Of Thrones mixtape—Snoop Dogg explained that he watches the show for “historical reasons”; Australian Crawl singer James Reyne has alleged that Guns N’ Roses might have heard their song, “Unpublished Critics” before they made the starkly similar classic, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”; Waka Flocka Flame cancels Australian tour after being denied by the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection; Bono addressed U2’s alleged tax-evasion maneuvers, as guitarist The Edge fell off the edge of a Vancouver stage during their “Innocence and Experience” tour; and we continue to  mourn the loss of B.B. King.

Turning now to this week’s champions, we are pleased and privileged to give you exclusives and interviews from L.A. Girlfriend, r.e.l., Stefan Jós, Double King, Yuzima, The Yussedit Brothers, Boycrush, Earthly, Main Attrakionz, Negative Gemini, Dazzletine, Francesca Belmonte, Little Racer, Rachel Mason, Terrain Is Blank, Turtle Giant, with guest selections by Camera Shy, and more — in no particular order.

L.A. Girlfriend

L.A. Girlfriend's Sydney Banta, photographed by Trevor Banta.

L.A. Girlfriend’s Sydney Banta, photographed by Trevor Banta.

L.A. Girlfriend, fronted by Sydney Banta returned last year with the Varsity EP, a triumphant statement about the pains, and persistence of getting back up after a break-up as the reigning champion. Moving from 2013’s Viva to a conceptual Love Story in Three Parts; Banta has struck a signature sound and style that cuts the listener to the core with songs of relatable situations with a brutal sincerity that chronicles the vulnerable expressions of the heart’s genuine responses to life events. Following up our insightful discussion from last year, it is our pleasure and privilege to bring you the world premiere of L.A. Girlfriend’s video for, “Runner”, directed by Maegan Houang. Based on a concept developed by Sydney and her brother Trevor Banta, the strength and commitment to the self is presented as a cause far more noble than a thousand the hyped-up lucre of Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Maegan’s video for “Runner” opens dramatically with Sydney approaching the spotlight of the ring, replete with an added symphonic intro not heard on the EP. “Sometimes a little string section is all you need,” Sydney remarked to us during our discussions (featured in full following the video), where the cinematic overture initiates the video where we see our heroine get knocked out in bloody title bout. A Rocky-like story on how to pick yourself up after suffering and sustaining the aches of defeat is taken to task in full training mode. We see the recuperation, bandages, and physical therapy while the lyrics reflect on the good, the bad, the sad, and the interpersonal guarded areas. Sydney gets help from her trainers through processes of balancing acts, lugging a tire tied to her waist, jogging about the parks and dry Southern California canals, exercises in striking water, and more to prepare her for the main event. The big climactic punch-out moment happens after the tests of trials, and errors are observed, and provide an even heavier emotional weight to the cryptic complications heard in the tear jerking ruminations on “Runner” with, “when I first met you; I recognized it, but I won’t tell you that, when I first met you; I realized it, but I won’t tell you that, when I first met you; I fell and slipped up, but I won’t tell you that, when I first met you; it was good luck, but I won’t tell you that…” Refusing to be bound by the past, and defending the L.A. Girlfriend title; we had an opportunity to look forward with Sydney Banta in our interview session discussing the forthcoming album, Neon Grey, the making of the video, and more following the debut visuals for, “Runner”.

Tell us about how you and your brother Trevor conceptualize the prize fighting video for “Runner”.

Whenever I have an idea for a video, I like to talk it out. Most of the time, I’ll discuss it with my brother because he has a tremendous gift for creative storytelling. Over the course of our conversations, he has mentioned Rocky about five times, but the song never seemed to fit the theme quite right. Naturally when Varsity was released and videos were in talks, Rocky showed up again. This time it was perfect given the motives and circumstances of how the EP was written. Emotionally, I was fighting to get back up. Trevor helped me embrace the struggle and turn it into a visual story. He’s the Mickey Goldmill to my Rocky Balboa.

After adapting the feelings, resolve, and boxer’s focus from the “Runner”, what was the experience like of transforming these visions into a full on main event, realized by director Maegan Houang?

Overall, it was liberating. Boxers have an incredible mental focus and ability to endure difficult situations in and out of the ring. To prep for the shoot, I attended boxing classes to get a grasp of the technique, but what I left with was a new philosophy toward life. When you push your body to what you think your limits are, and have an instructor (who happens to be a Lightweight Costa Rican fighter) yell, ‘fight girl’ at you, there comes a moment when you transcend old limitations. You physically and mentally push through to a new level of strength. At the time of filming, I was struggling to move past lingering sadness and regret I had managed to hold onto from months prior. But having to be a fighter who refused to lose despite multiple setbacks made me recognize my own internal champion. Maegan did a beautiful job focusing on the process which drives the story on an emotional level, rather than placing importance on the actions of just training and boxing.

Sydney with a right jab, photographed by Trevor Banta.

Sydney with a right jab, photographed by Trevor Banta.

How do you feel these metaphors and allegories of athleticism, sporting drives, tourneys, and competitions contribute to the strength, heart, and emotions of the human spirit?

When we see an ordinary person like Rocky Balboa succeed after months of hard training and brutal beatings, it’s hard not to think we as individuals can succeed too. There’s a reason why movies like Rocky, Vision Quest, and The Karate Kid (Pat Morita version) are classics. Stories of athleticism are a way to put a series of complex emotions and feelings into something all of us can relate to. No one is a stranger to challenge but there is a line between those who surrender and those who overcome. These metaphors are powerful because they inspire us to embrace the best versions of ourselves, even if a long road of hard work and hurdles are in the way. As I mentioned before, it’s not about hoping for the best — it’s about rising up and refusing to lose.

Also your recent holiday single/video, “Mr. Mistletoe” was an endearing, and evocative pop jam that sounds amazing for any season, year round. Why do you feel holiday songs provide an opportunity to create a kind of deep felt vignette of sentimental power and potency?

Holiday songs are universally known and will never change. Sure, there are a ton of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” covers, but no matter who is singing, we all know the words. Life is constantly changing, yet when it starts to snow and you hear Nat King Cole, time stops for a second. I love holiday songs because they slow down time and make me feel like a kid again. They remind me of when I didn’t have to worry about responsibility. I think everyone likes to be reminded of that. With the joyous energy surrounding the season, holiday songs are the nostalgic antidote to the modern day blues. Just ask Bing Crosby — he’s never ruined a Christmas party.

Behind the scenes during the shooting of "Runner", captured by Trevor Banta.

Behind the scenes during the shooting of “Runner”, captured by Trevor Banta.

Will there be another L.A. Girlfriend holiday single in the works? I hope so…

Yes, definitely. I had so much fun with “Mr. Mistletoe” and I’m excited to start playing around with the follow up. This year, my record label We Are Confetti will release another Christmas compilation EP, so keep an eye out for that.

Give us insights, and hints on what the making of Neon Grey has been like?

So far, its been an adventure of instinct. For the past four years as L.A. Girlfriend, I’ve collected little things here and there, and built a machine made of lessons learned. Now in prepping Neon Grey, I’m putting an unwavering faith in my gut as I watch my machine start to operate. It feels like the right time to do something special and instead of fearing potential mistakes, I’m listening to my instinct and embracing my choices with the enthusiasm of a small child at Disneyland.

Tell us too about the story behind the paradoxical title of your forthcoming album.

Neon Grey is something I thought up years ago as a title for a behind-the-scenes mini series that I wanted to do (and am now doing) for L.A. Girlfriend. I liked it because at face value, it doesn’t necessarily make sense but when thinking about it more in depth, I almost see it as a way in which I describe my life. The experience of growing up and being a musician is like one big pool of grey — there are no right or wrong answers or specific formulas to follow for success. But despite so much grey, there is still the decision to live brightly or not. I’ve grown quite a bit since my last album and I’m excited to debut something that glows with everything I got.

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Thoughts on the latest happenings, and going-ons from L.A.?

The drought crisis sucks, the dating scene is terrible, yet the variety of good donuts increases by the day. I am optimistic.

2015/2016 L.A.G.F. mission objectives?

The number one mission at hand is finishing Neon Grey and shooting the videos that will tee-up and compliment its release in January 2016. In addition to upcoming shows, I’ll be visiting a girls’ rock camp in the summer. Hopefully I’ll inspire a few young girls to start a rock band. The world needs more girls in rock bands.

Watch the “Episode 1” introduction to L.A. Girlfriend’s 12 part behind-the-scenes series that documents the making of her upcoming album, Neon Grey, available January 2016.

Paw Paw

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Paw Paw, the cinematic ambient outfit of former Woodsman drummer Eston Lathrop readies the intergalactic connections of his upcoming Fire Talk Records release, Full Earth Greeting, premiering the infinity tripping, “Foreverrrr”. Marking the beginning of a journey of communication between planetary bodies, Lathrop continues the conversations from his brand of self-described “other-‘world’-music” in a cinematic discovery for the mind, and all available receptive senses.

Available May 26, Paw Paw continues to create atmospheric sci-fi matinee sound scores that continue forth from his solo repertoire. Evoking the more natural and organic approaches to audio compared to his early breakthrough, Channels of the Reality: A Science Fiction Soundtrack; Eston traverses the circumference of planets, and other imagined environments in the mode of a nomad left to his acoustic percussion devices. And in between the camel walking pace of the consistent acoustic drum beat — the new discovered worlds that Paw Paw alludes to in sound can be nearly seen as well as heard as a droning, ambient background presence continuously threatens to overwhelm the fixed, static, and set bongo engine of persistent momentum. Following the debut of “Foreverrr”, Paw Paw’s Eston Lathrop provided us with a unique behind the scenes look at his latest recordings in our most recent discussion.

Tell us about the transition from your percussion work in Woodsman, to the ambient-rhythms at work in Paw Paw.

Paw Paw was created in the downtimes between Woodsman tours so, there are a lot of habits that persisted in each project. Whether it be the recording process, song structure, or the general ‘psychedelic’ underlying/overlying theme which myself and Woodsman felt so accustomed. With Paw Paw I was able to make it more personal and fitting to my own state of mind.

Take us on a journey of how your work has evolved from Channels of Thereality: a science fiction soundtrack, to Full Earth Greeting.

I think with a lot of ‘bedroom recordings,’ structure and production are left to the wayside. Which is what the first couple albums were. I intentionally made Channels as a concept album though for a science fiction movie I would never write and it was initially under the moniker ‘Thousand Owl.’ I then made the first official Paw Paw album entitled Dream State which is more along the lines of the current recordings but clearly shows the progress made to date. Over time, the sound improved, the ideas solidified. Full Earth Greeting is the culmination of all of it up to this point in time.

What for you is your own fascination with the cross sections of sci-fi elements, and soundtracking them into hypnogogic hymns?

I’m a big sci-fi lover. Books, movies, art, whatever. It’s become ingrained in my mind and what I find most interesting. Space, Earth, the Mind, the Unknown, the journey into the ether.

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Describe for us your own recording, and song sketching rituals.

I tend to start with one element and build from there. Whether it be a guitar drone, guitar chorded rhythms, a drum beat, or just a tempo. I use a loop pedal so I can work on something for a while and keep it (or not) and it’s basically recorded automatically. Sometimes it’s just purely one track, other times it’s a big production. I like
having few limits.

Other like-minded artists around Denver you have been digging lately?

Tjutjuna. Sister Grotto, Pale Sun, Thug Entrancer, Pythian Whispers, Distance Research, Cop Circles. Culprit.

What’s next in the cards for Paw Paw?

More recording over the next couple months. Expanding on the current ideas. Hopefully some shows out of state and getting the music to as many ears as possible.

Paw Paw’s Full Earth Greeting will be avaialble May 26 from Fire Talk Records.

Yuzima

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We got introduced to NYC’s Yuzima around the time he launched his single, “Bash”, from the {Insta-Album} of the same name, and now invite you to return to the realms of confrontational assertions of culture that breaks down the socially distorted walls of societies failed institutions on the premiere of , “Behemoth”. Breaking down your idols and diversions on the cold hard ground; Yuzima smashes down the convenient pigeonholes that takes the conversations of identity, race, LGBT and post-gender politics out of the bedroom, and out of the congruent, straight and narrow lines of convention. The sum of all fears from the oppressive and intolerant powers that be are cast into a scuzz bathed swamp of tape recorded recitations, and illustrated statements of real time-reality.

In certain fashions found in the abrasive aesthetic offered up in the influential debut of clipping.’s midcity; Yuzima presents the forces of both positivity and negativity through a lens that knocks the listener out of the comforts of their zone to listen to a deeper message in the narratives. Taking on the bestial like form of the monstrous “Behemoth”; the feedback blasts forth all the action from the very beginning, where the structures of faux safety and the shallow securities of concepts and constructs are abandoned, and/or knocked down. Layers of fuzz build atop the designed discord of guitars that become the vehicle along with the percussion clang that reminds us that you can’t have the yin without the yang. Cycles of change, growth, rebirth, and renewal, are elicited from Yuzima’s sermon for the struggles found in our current day and era. Through aggressive expressions, the reasons and rationales for racism, homophobia, discrimination, and injustice, are knocked down like evil empires made of dominoes. Yuzima described combating injustice in his music with the following words on the new single:

On my releases “BASH {Insta-Album}”, and “The Machine” I took on injustices in society straight on, good verses bad; while on “Behemoth”, I complicate it. I kind of go into David Bowie land and take on the voice of The Behemoth. I become the bad guy. But philosophically I think there are a lot of things that should be abandoned. That’s where the line, ‘throw away our culture’ fits. There are so many things I think people should just drop, even just religious habits. I think the way I’m portraying The Behemoth is the negative / positive experience that humanity has gone through since the beginning. It’s not just societies — it’s disease and animal predators in the wild that our ancestors had to fight off. The Behemoth is the positive/negative force that builds and annihilates. It makes us who we are.

r.e.l.

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Los Angeles based artist, and USC sophomore r.e.l. premieres the NaCl preoccupations of sodium based beats, and hedonistic, night-out excitement out on the debut of, “Salt”. Taken from her forthcoming debut self-titled EP available May 19, r.e.l. utilizes sodium chloride as a narrative charged object that connects together night and day tales from the city of angels. The mineral of the earth becomes the star in “Salt”, where fancy evenings on the town are told through the details that return to idea of salinity, rubbed in wounds, lining the rim of margarita glasses, it’s connection to other elements like water and ice, to the “sodium overload” told like overwhelmed feelings put an electro rhythm & blues form.

The iconic ionic compound made up of the NaCl chemical formula takes on a central like character in “Salt”. A motif present in sayings like, “salt of the earth,” to it’s infinite amounts, and varieties of uses becomes the central focal motion of the song that describes it’s chemical make-up as part of the clap-along chorus. “Salt” provides the pre-party soundtrack to getting done up before hitting the see and be seen-scene circuits, simulating the stimuli overload by stimulating the senses with the table salt motif’s many different correlating components, and connotative compounds, companions, and constructive uses. Breaking down the creative elements of her music, and providing some of her college study notes; r.e.l. joins us for an insightful interview, right after the following debut of “Salt”.

What spring-boarded your entry into the arts of making your own demos, songs, beats, production, and more?

I’ve been singing forever, like since before I could talk—as cliché as that might sound. I didn’t start writing songs until about 3 years ago when I heard a senior sing something our high school choir teacher had written for his college graduation. It made everyone cry, and I decided I was going to write a song that would make everyone cry too. I wanted to be able to move people with something I had written, like he had.

When I first started writing, I would come up with songs while walking my dog—I probably have 500 plus voice memos on my phone and have received lots of weird looks from strangers as they watch me singing (usually gibberish) into an iPhone. Now that I’ve been writing for a while, my songwriting is more deliberate; I definitely still have moments of inspiration where I whip out my phone to record a song I hear in my head, but I can also sit down with the intent of writing a song, expressing a specific sentiment. For me, the process is really invigorating—it’s kind of like journaling. I get to capture little moments in time and express myself with melody. And then when I perform these really intimate songs it is such a surreal experience. It’s like reading my diary out loud but without the embarrassment—magical.

In terms of my sound and how it has evolved and come to where it is now, it all really started with a cowrite—my first ever. I worked with rapper, and friend, Carol Antoinette for an assignment in our songwriting 1 class, we were little freshman babies. We wrote “All That Bite” together (the first song on my debut EP, and the first single I put out) and as cheesy as it seems, writing that song helped me find “my sound”. By May 2014 (a year ago, now, I feel old!) I was ready to record my first EP, so I reached out to producers whose work I admired, and found the producer for my EP that way (Dan Burns).

I’m writing lots of songs, but still am by no means a producer. I’ll make these really raw, bass-rhythm-vocal demos of new songs that I’ll share with the producers I’m working with and we’ll flesh them out. I’d love to get better at that aspect of making music. I ‘don’t speak music’—as in I don’t know theory, I don’t really play any instrument. So when I write songs, I hear them in my head—the melodies and the words and the rhythm underneath. My lack of theory/instrument playing, while inhibiting me in some ways for sure, makes my approach to songwriting really different than a lot of artists I know. I’m going take a music theory class soon, though! I’m excited. And nervous…

How have your studies and experiences at USC in LA impacted your perspectives on song craft, creative outlooks, and more?

Well, to begin with, I’m not a music major. Music is what I want to do and I love it, but there are other things I love as well, and I believe that the more you know—the more you’re passionate about—the more it adds to your art. I’m majoring in Narrative Studies—essentially the study of storytelling—so I get to take classes all over: in anthropology, English, history, American Studies, Writing, etc. I love it. Art is storytelling; learning about it in different mediums is really exciting.

I think an artist’s job is to interrogate the world around her—to explore and provoke and reflect. Virginia Woolf said, ‘As a woman, my country is the whole world.’ Being a female artist makes this statement doubly true. Artists are already citizens of the world; What I find so magical about music is its complete transcendence. It is one of the only mediums I can think of that transcends boundaries of all sorts, from socioeconomic to racial to political and beyond. So being an artist and a woman means I get to claim the whole world as my country, which is so exciting!

Like any superpower, though, it comes with responsibility. I write about what moves me, and right now a lot of what moves me is injustice—music is my way of combating the injustice I see around me, in whatever small or big way. Everyone has the means to change what they don’t like, the means to fight for justice; it’s a matter of finding your own unique approach. Mine is music.

I want to be provocative, to start conversations. And I want people to feel their own bruises and headaches when they listen to my songs.

What else in LA has been informing your own solo works, and who are some fellow local artists that you really admire?

Living downtown is absolutely informing my work. Downtown Los Angeles, in particular the area surrounding USC, is a hotbed of culture — different cultures– and it is a working community. The contrast of wealth is unbelievable down here. Like there will be a super expensive, trendy (USC) restaurant directly next to un restaurante del barrio that the locals go to. And so many students going to the trendy spot don’t even know the other restaurant is there! Like there are these whole other worlds that people aren’t keyed into to. I love discovering new spots, finding where the locals go and exploring the not-so-trendy parts of the city. There’s so much culture here. The city is beautiful. It’s crazy to me how much people live in their own worlds—how sheltered we are, collectively.

Musically, LA is awesome. There are tons of different venues and places to see artists perform live—I’ve actually become quite a pro at finding free live music around town. There is the summer series at Santa Monica Pier, School Night at the Bardot, The DL at Dirty Laundry, Low End Theory, Piano Bar and so much more. I love going to different live shows, it’s one of the best ways to find new artists to crush on. Plus, there have been lots of times when I’ve thought of ideas or melodies or lyrics for new songs at shows. Isn’t there that old saying, ‘art influences other art?’ Something like that…

There are so many artists I’m crushing on, local and not local! Some artists I’ve seen live in LA that I’ve loved are Somekindawonderful, Yuna, Capital Cities, Kat Dahlia, and MS MR. There’s a great music environment at USC, too. There’s Austin Foley (Jynjo, look him up!) who I work with a bunch. And Eric Walker, a super talented songwriter / producer/rapper (we have a collaboration that I’ll for sure be putting out in not too long!). There are a lot of SC artists putting stuff out there: Matt Dimona, Felly, Louis Vivet, The Neighbors, and Easway, to name a few.

r.e.l. photographed by Melvin Rains, for Melanie Rains Photography.

r.e.l. photographed by Melvin Rains, for Melanie Rains Photography.

Tell us about what the making of your new EP was like for you, challenges, struggles and all.

I funded the EP with a Kickstarter campaign.

Crowd funding is hard! It’s essentially a full-time job….luckily I worked with an amazingly talented director, and one of my closest friends, Jillian Dudley, on the Kickstarter promo video and the music video we put out in conjunction with the campaign. It was definitely demanding, but so rewarding. Realizing that there are people who believe in your music enough to help fund it is indescribable.

I’m can’t wait to officially release the EP May 26! Stay posted for links, and all that fun stuff.

Give us the scoop on the making of “Salt”, and what it is about sodium that inspired this number?

Oh gosh. This is one of my favorite “origin” stories to tell, definitely the most random. I said earlier that I often get inspired when hearing live music—this was one of those instances. I performed in BMI’s Acoustic Lounge showcase last year, and the month before I was going to perform I went to see what it was like. For some reason (I really can’t tell you why, the brain works in mysterious ways) I had the impulse to write a song about salt. I started this running list on my phone of things that had to do with salt.

I found the note on my phone! This is verbatim what “Salt” started out as:

2/04/14

Salt

Rub salt in wounds
Knock it over bad luck
To melt the ice/on snow
Sodium overload
Make ice cream
Lick it before you down tequila
Lines the rim of your margarita glass
mineral of my discontent
NaCl
Sodium Chloride
Makes my blood pressure run high
Salinity’s higher in the sea
Saltiness one of the most basic human tastes
Salting an important method of food preservation
Anti-caking agent

I fleshed the song out later in the week. This was a time where the meaning came as I finished writing. “Salt” is about the things that taste good that we keep coming back to. They’re bad for us—they run us dry—but we keep coming back to them. I feel like we all have these things, whether they are people, habits, or salt, itself, even!

Recording “Salt” was FUN. Working on the EP, I wanted to be involved every step of the way. I would come for tracking, to give my input and artistic direction, but also just because it is a blast! Getting to hear what you heard in your head come to life is overwhelming and wonderful. We worked with Blair Sinta on the percussion in the track. He used so many different surfaces (slabs of wood, sides of pianos, actual drums, weird old instruments, etc) to get the sounds we have on the recording, and I love how it turned out!

What else can the world expect from r.e.l. in 2015/2016?

WELL, I have lots of new music to put out. I’ve been writing and collaborating and recording a bunch. So there is definitely that. I think the world can expect some singles coming from me soon.

I would love to play more shows, and tour! Performing live is one of the best experiences. That being said, the festival circuit is definitely on my radar…

I think it’s really just a matter of what falls into place and ‘how the stars align,’ to risk sounding cliché. I love what I’m doing, and this journey I’m on; I’m learning so much about myself and music and how this industry works. I think it’s important to enjoy the ride—to be present. There’s a Dutch saying my mom (who was born in Holland) told me recently, and that my grandparents have on a tile in their house: it translates as, “In the concert of life, no one gets a program.”

I don’t have a program, but I have really good vibes about this year…

r.e.l.’s self-titled debut EP will be available May 19.

Stefan Jós

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Opal Tapes affiliate Stefan Jós, real name Devon Hansen, aka Lotide (see Moonlesss via Astro:Dynamics) follows up his Things You Left Behind EP with Primitives, available May 18 from flau / raum, premiering the liquid slipping drum and bass beat of, “Watching Them Feed”. The Southern California by Montreal artist works with Miles Whittaker (Demdike Stare) for mastering, with the mastercut by Andreras [Lupo], to make for a journey through the subterranean networks of tunnels, burrowed out boroughs that comprises a kind of natural niche for Hansen’s sparse and fun experiments in rhythmic audio patterns.

Known to always be involved in an array of projects from making music videos, dabbling in world music, a passion for the Japanese avant garde, and more; Devon’s Stefan Jós moniker is reserved for providing life for his percussion textures. On our featured cut of “Watching Them Feed”, the various tones and facets of the drums allude to the lives of insects, gophers, moles, and more creatures and living things that thrive beneath the crust of the earth’s soil. Stefan invites you to follow the directions of the drum rhythms, where the sounds of communications between bugs, and the habitats of vermin feels like an ordinary stroll through the street, or nature walk down the minimalist, yet elaborate networks of paths marked by the tempo and tone of the percussion. Stefan Jós is your safari host to the worlds you knew little about outside of public television specials, and physical earth / biology classes; where swarms of benevolent sound creatures can be heard dining upon their hunted, and gathered finds in a world curated by Devon Hansen himself. We had a chance to catch up with the artist in our interview session that immediately follows the debut of, “Watching Them Feed”.

What have you found to have been the creative difference for your own sound studies under your given name, Devon Hansen, or as Lotide, to Stefan Jós? Where do all these identities intersect, and where do they go divergent from their perpendicular core?

I think they’re all just tools I’ve used to learn different things. The differences probably come from what exactly I am (or was) trying to figure out in each project. For Lotide that was how to distill a wide range of sample material into a very specific sensibility. D.Hansen tends to be about just digging into sound for its own sake, without worrying much about structure. Stefan probably stands apart from the other work because it’s a bit less personal and more technical. Trying to get groove right and focusing on detail in very minute ways, etc.

Give us some insights on the blueprints behind the making of your Opal Tapes mini-album split with Austin Cesear and single for Japanese imprint raum, via Yasuhiko Fukuzono’s flau label.

The split with Austin Cesear was done very much on an impulse for me. I came up with the name very hastily and decided to switch to a different set of tools than the ones I was using for Lotide. A break from sampling was needed, so I decided to try and get something done using synthesis only. There might have been one or two samples in there that I had discarded from Lotide, but the point of that work (as well as the records on flau) was to move away from depending on samples and jump into territory that was completely new for a while.

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Give us the primordial and primitive approaches that has informed your album, Primitives, under the Stefan Jós moniker.

I like the word primitive, because it makes me think of that modernist/western art music attitude toward repetition as some kind of stupidity or lack of sophistication. I’ve seen it used to describe some early electronic music as well. It seems like a pejorative way to talk about simplicity, which is weird to me because keeping things simple is not easy. That’s probably what informed the record the most, and Stefan as a project in general. Figuring out how to get something to sound full and satisfying with as few ingredients as possible, and disguising all that detail as something that is very basic or primitive in structure. I actually don’t think I’ve gotten it quite right yet, but I’m slowly getting there.

Everyone has their own experience of Montreal’s super eclectic, and multifaceted art scenes. What’s your take on the current state of Montreal’s influence, and ever intriguing, and influential prowess?

I’ve not even scratched the surface, really. I came here in August of last year, so my experience has only been of specific corners, most of which I was already loosely connected to in the first place. More compelling to me than the “scene” is the people. Everyone is quite open and interested. Regardless of what kind of music or art they make themselves, many of the people I’ve met just want to know about all of it. That’s probably where the eclectic/multifaceted thing comes from, in part at least.

Other indie artists from Montreal, Japan, or the world over that you want to recognize right now?

There are so many great people in Montreal it would be very difficult to do a fair survey. Most of the people I’ve been following closely are my friends. For the sake of brevity I’ll do it as a list.

Francesco de Gallo, works as FDG — and other names
Karl Fousek, works in modular synthesis
Roger Tellier-Craig, also great synthesis work
Sabrina Ratté, video artist, also works with Roger Tellier-Craig as Le Révélateur
Elko Tract, recently did three mixes for Kent Fashion Week
Scott Deeming, lots of curation work all around Canada for a long time, performing at Elektra this week, co-runs a festival in Toronto called Vector
Kara-Lis Coverdale, recent record on Umor Rex with David Sutton, beautiful work
A few friends run a label called Temple that has emerged recently, one to look out for

Outside of Montreal is even more difficult to distill, and I’m sadly quite ignorant when it comes to what’s going on in Japan at the moment, though I have been listening to Akiko Kiyama and 99LETTERS quite a bit lately. I grew a few roots in New York that have stuck with me, so that’s probably the city I’ve had my eye on the most, other than Montreal. Umfang, Ciarra Black, Malory Butler and Beta Librae have been on my radar a lot, eagerly awaiting some released material from all of them. Discwoman is a collective of producers and DJs that is doing a lot of important work at the moment. They’ve been throwing parties in many places and need to be followed closely. Witches of Bushwick is a group/agency that does Coven Magazine, among many many other things. I’ve also been really into the work of their designer, Loren Kane. The guys at Styles Upon Styles were the first people to take interest in my Lotide work when I arrived there, and we’ve stayed connected ever since. The material they release is high in variety and quality, so dig in if you haven’t already.

A lot of my attention also goes to the stuff on Where to Now? They were the first ones to put out my D.Hansen stuff, and both their curation and design work is consistently solid. Always feel very at home when working with them. One of their alumni, Beatrice Dillon, is one of my favorite people working in the UK at the moment. Very much admire the material she’s produced as well as her shows on Resonance and most recently NTS. I’m not the only one dropping her name these days so, again, you’ve probably already gotten word.

Stefan Jós’s Primitives will be available May 18 from flau / raum.

Main Attrakionz

main attrakionz friendzone week in pop

Squadda B has been telling us for months, and recent years that it was going to happen, and now Main Attrakionz will release 808s and Dark Grapes 3 onJune 30 via Vapor Records (Neil Young’s imprint). Mondre and Squadda return with a joint entirely produced by Friendzone, lending a taste with the Chinatwon, SF strolling video for, “Ain’t No Other Way”, directed by their own Oakland neighbor, Kreayshawn. The vibe is the mellowest night you could imagine, where the one of the world’s greatest duos reasserts their presence, and pro-generative, and creative methods in rhymes told in the neon lights from the luminance of shop window displays glowing in the night.

The Friendzone production beams with the crystal sparkling piano notes that lightly fall on the the low lit understated keyboard notes as Mondre M. A. N. and Squadda Bambino remind you what that Bay Area Green Ova sound is all about. Sharing real life narratives on what one has to do to maintain, all the while kicking it with the ‘Zone’s James Laurence and Dylan Reznick beneath the SF city lights of North Beach, FiDi, Chinatown, random alleys, and anywhere they wan to chill. Everything you have been waiting for since 808s and Dark Grapes 2, or Bossalinis & Fooliyones slowly begins to manifest itself in the low flying fog style of some of the Bay’s most influential, and important pop culture ambassadors. Squadda

The biggest album from Main Attrakionz full of musical greatness! We took a lot of time over at FZ studio just putting together foods baking up what we visioned during those moments and are finally bringing to you what went down during some of those times! Very party vibe at FZ’ every time so that definitely shines through during playback of this. Along with trying out new sounds and styles of rapping. Enjoy! June 30th!

Double King

double king week in pop 1

Brooklyn’s Double King has a new record on the way with Night Fades, available on digital May 19, and on wax June 23 from Swell Records, and we have the premiere of, “Fire In The Attic”, to ignite your weekend and summer season on the proper foot. The band’s own Ryan Dieringer co-operates Swell Records with the esteemed Tica Douglas; Double King delivers and deals in big poppy balladry that combines longing, stolen hearts, incidents, accidents, hints, allegations, and a whole lot of that “let me go down easy” vibe that never gets old.

“Fire In The Attic” turns the furnace of the mind’s memories burning on full blast, recalling snapshots of nostalgia still closely stitched to the heart. Misunderstandings, meanings, and quips of thought become lost in a train of groovy late morning rising guitars that greet the day, and the bright burning reflections of the past with a deep degree of reverence. The greatest moments, and the greatest times of yesterday are brought back to the new life, of relived, re-imagined reminiscence that uses the picture book of yesterday’s lessons and love as a guideline for the present. Double King’s Ryan talked to us about the new recordings in our interview after the following debut of, “Fire In The Attic”.

How did you capture that kind of nocturnal session vibe that permeates throughout Night Fades?

I think it was a mixture of things. Maybe it started off with recording to tape. Then as we went along in the recording process we stayed committed to creating sounds that had a kind of “other-worldly” vibe without using a ton of reverb. We played around a lot. And then we aired on the side of sparseness and I think that helped to maintain whatever vibe was coming from the songs. Our mixer, Jake Arons also played a big role in sustaining and enhancing that sense of ambiance (or often anti-ambiance) once we brought him the tracks.

What do you feel you have learned about yourself and the world in the past 3, 4 years of making music as Double King?.

When I first started making music as Double King, music for me was very much about having an opportunity to get outside myself. A lot of the songs were fictional. My process was a lot more about having a sort of out-of-body experience. This latest record, and my thinking lately (which I suppose you could call “learning” although it could just be a different way of thinking about things,) revolve around the idea of trying to fully inhabit myself instead. I know it sounds like a cliché but I think it’s important for an artist to learn how to make their own kind of music and to be comfortable with their own originality. I think we all go through this kind of experience in making art, where you start off in more of a feeling, spontaneous mode and then find that the hard part is learning to do that over and over again. But I’ve learned the result is often more satisfying on the whole.

What guides your slow, cool and steady rockers like the swagger style of, “Fire In The Attic”, to the more big pronounced pop balladry on bangers like “Bleeding Heart”, “Femme Fatale”, “Razors Edge”?

Andrew and I were thinking a lot about how to make a rock and roll record without relying upon traditional tools of rock music, like walls of guitars or thrashing, jangly rhythm parts, etc. I was really inspired by a lot of classic 60’s funk and soul music in the writing of the record and part of us wanted to make rock & roll that came from a more laid back place. I also naturally write laid back songs, so it was also a path-of-least-resistance kind of thing. I think that best explains the sparser, steadier grooves on stuff like Fire In The Attic or Bleeding Heart, which actually went through tons of more blown-up drafts before they arrived at that resting place. But I think on the poppier, more ballady stuff, there’s so much harmony happening that it felt natural to go bigger with it. We’d slowly add elements and as long as it held together and stayed true to the vibe we set out to create, we let it hang. Like a long game of jenga where no one lost.

How do you personally go about the creative process of writing, and sketching out your song ideas?

I almost exclusively write in retreat-like conditions, where I can work for days/weeks and take my time sketching out ideas, waking up every morning and writing while the coffee is hot and working. I wrote probably half of this record in New York, carving out this kind of routine within my life here, and half of it on retreats in Maine and a couple in Cape Cod. Andrew and I write a lot of the stuff collaboratively, but we rarely write in the same room. When he knows I’m away on a writing trip, he’ll hit me up with iPhone recordings of chord changes, which are so helpful to get me out of my own head and have something to work with. Andrew has a great sense of harmonic movement, something that I can lack at times. About half of the songs on this record are collaborations in that vein, the rest come out of my own head, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, usually with an acoustic guitar and drum machine.

Along with your comrade Tica Douglas, who are some other Swell Records, and local artists that you want to recognize?

Let’s see – this summer I’m gonna be recording one of my favorite songwriters from up in Maine, Kyle Morgan, whose record’s going to come out on Swell in the Fall. My friend Sam who used to play in Double King plays music as “Polly Hi,” and Andrew and I are finishing up his record this month. It’s really weird and awesome. You guys recently covered our friends Throw Vision, who we actually share two band-members with (Alex and Taja) – they are an amazing band and should be re-checked out.

The royal motto, and mantra according to the order of Double King?

I’ve been saying it since we started this thing: “Express yourself.”

What can we expect post release of Night Fades?

We’re gonna tour the northeast in June, and then I’m going to Italy for the summer to write the next record.

Double King’s Night Fades, will be available on digital May 19, and vinyl June 23 (limited to 100 pressings) via Swell Records.

The Yuseddit Brothers

Toronto's The Yuseddit Brothers, from left, Mike Mikocic (live show bassist), and Shane Campbell.

Toronto’s The Yuseddit Brothers, from left, Mike Mikocic (live show bassist), and Shane Campbell.

Having caught up with The Yuseddit Brothers around the time of their “Metronome” single; we are pleased premiere the quick rock romanticism of, “Turbo Love”. The project of Toronto artist Shane Campbell and friends, the Yuseddits build a sound that borrows the production methods, constructs, and sounds that inspire friends, acquaintances, and enemies alike to respond with a genuine expression of, “you said it, brother.” “Turbo Love” walks out of an errant late night recording session held over from the 60s, where the blues got heavy, and fuzzier, and consciousness became hazier.

The Yuseddit Brothers’ “Turbo Love” finds Campbell tuning into bigger drum schemes, in a DIY way that channels the sound of the fanciest studios, past and present, for a fraction of the cost thanks to devised tricks and method adventures in home recording (explored further in our following interview as well). “Turbo Love” is in love with cult sounds of yesterday, as it throttle ahead at turbo speed toward a pastiche of bedroom brewed pop. Fixations and fantasies of nostalgic sensibilities abound on the line, “she said let me be alive like it’s 1965, give me something I can go on,” that desire to breathe the vintage air while slipping forward into the future. Join us after the following debut of “Turbo Love”, for our discussion round with Shane Campbell.

Since we’ve talked last, what’s new in the world of The Yuseddit Brothers?

We’ve become somewhat of a real band that plays real shows which is awesome. Mike, who I play with in Meeko Cheech and Phil are good friends and super talented musicians.

The latest things in Toronto that you all are about?

I’d have to go with gourmet grilled cheese and Americano.

Having talked around the time of your single, “Metronome”; tell us about the galloping, NYC in the oughts, or 60s kinda swagger of fast times, fast love, and the search for something “to go on” with, Turbo Love?

The lyrics to that song were a bit experimental. I was talking to my girlfriend over the phone right before we moved in together and I decided to scribble down certain phrases that she would say like, ‘I wish I was alive in the 60s,’ and, ‘I like to outshine people.’ The song is basically about having an attraction so strong with someone that it scares you.

Even though a motto of say, ‘live slow, die old’ sounds the most relaxing, meditative, albeit sedentary in nature; what for you do you feel is the attraction of the ‘live fast, die young’ rock and roll model, and how do you think it speaks to your music, or not?

I like to separate music from lifestyle, although I’m sure they become one and the same if you’re Paul McCartney or something like that. Thankfully, I grew up listening to many a risk-taker who binged on narcotics so that I don’t have to because you can experience what came out of it by the music they’ve left behind. Musically, the 60s were a time when people weren’t afraid of being wrong to get to what was right, and I find that idea very attractive.

The guitar work too on this song is all over the place, and feels heavier with riff hooks, and ample use of fuzzed out everything. Tell us about what amp blazers you got on the work in progress tables.

Soundtoys Decapitator is what’s all over the place. I think I used that plugin on every track. A big part of getting the sound for “Turbo Love,” along with “Metronome” and a few others, came from the drums, which were recorded with just two microphones on an old Premiere kit in a rehearsal space. I did the drums live off the floor with no click because I wanted it to have that live band feeling that I could layer everything over.

Give us The Yuseddit Brothers guide to summer, 2015.

We’ll be massaging the Toronto club circuit and we’ve got an EP set to drop on August 8 at the Horseshoe Tavern. Should be a good time.

The Yuseddit Brothers’ EP will be available August 8, listen to more via Bandcamp.

Negative Gemini

Negative Gemini, aka Lindsey French, photographed by Julia Nichols.

Negative Gemini, aka Lindsey French, photographed by Julia Nichols.

We recently talked to Negative Gemini’s Lindsey French upon the release of her Real Virtual Unison EP, and now we bring you her self-made video for, “Red Rose”. The home-fi sound of the songs lower end fidelity is given an ADHD treatment of visuals of stir-crazy cabin fever comforts (and discomforts); as Lindsey hurdles image shot cuts as quick as her drum and bass rhythm scheme keeps the beats firing. The hazy electric distortion and “ahhhhs” keep everything off kilter, as Ms. French does everything in her power to keep the visuals as oddly appropriate as the song own spitfire shooting claustrophobia. Lindsey described the making of video for us with the following:

I shot most of the video in my apartment over the winter when I didn’t really leave other than to go to work because it was so cold. The tightly cropped shots show me going stir crazy, which was pretty much true to life at the time. I used the projections from my live set to make it look strobe-y and colorful. The song is ultimately about being alone, and human touch as a Bandaid for a bullet hole, so it only seemed natural to show the frustration and literal darkness of that. This was my first time directing and editing a video myself. It was fun, I’d do it again.

Rachel Mason

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We have been following the developments of Rachel Mason’s ambitious ambitious, major project of varied disciplines, mediums, focuses, and aesthetic platforms; The Lives of Hamilton Fish, and are now privileged to present you with the following listen to the entier operatic cycle. The stage is set (literally, and figuratively) with the complications of similar (and strange) parallel identities on the showdown/face-off of, “The Duel”, igniting the unfolding “Nightmare”, taking things back to the haunted, echoing sparse folk trails of maternal memories like on, “When I Was a Child”, to water by land entities that materialize on the acoustic ambiance of, “Wild Fish”.

“Don’t Tempt Him” describes surreal metaphysics duking it out on a stage of a spiritual warfare, getting gritty on “Grace”, sparing some evocative sentiments on, “Emily Mann”, the slow, and subdued archangel march, “Rebel Angels”, the dusty border demarcation crossing point, “Distinguished Line”, the mourning/morning call of, “The White Crow”. Matters get even darker, and weirder on, “The Werewolf of Wisteria”, summoning a danger that extends beyond the alleged finality of the grave with, “The Cemetery”, to the catacomb sarcophagus resonance of, “In The Tombs”, where ancient folks ballad blues are brought into the worlds of the surreal and sinister of, “Sharky’s Stutter”, the ghosting, and ghoulish, “The Chair”, before the entire event comes crashing down on the finale, “The Broken Soul of a Human Being”.

Rachel Mason took a moment out of the week to share some reflectionss on the struggles, and breakthroughs of making such an epic, multimedia opera:

“Joyful perseverance” — its one of the “6 perfections” in Tibetan Buddhist theology that really has hit home for me with this project because the hardest thing about this has been maintaining my total excitement in the face of rejection. The rejections all came from festivals and grant applications, but when I finally started showing it, the film was met with overwhelming enthusiasm. Reviews started coming, long, incredibly thoughtful write-ups on film blogs and art publications, and then I started to receive emails out of the blue — from people who attended the shows — A few emails have contained full rhyming poetry in homage to the film — and invitations have really started coming in- so I don’t apply very much to anyone anymore because the film has gotten its own momentum. But all of this took a lot of patience.

It also re-enforced my own belief which was initially challenged by my many festival rejections which is that the expectations for what the public at large can appreciate can really be different from what they are currently. My audiences have ranged from children to elderly people, in countries where English is not the primary language — in Asia and Europe, and in every place I have been met with really incredible support. But I have also had many programmers say that the film just simply did not fit into a category, and/ or it didn’t quite qualify as a film… as there is no dialogue. So, I have just learned by doing actual shows that people are capable of experiencing something new — and something that falls in between art, music and film.

Earthly

earthly week in pop 1

Earthly’s upcoming debut LP, Days, will be available on digital and wax July 24 from the future thinking hearts and minds at Noumenal Loom, and we thrilled to pour the viscous nu-electro bass boomer on you with; “Glaze”. From Brint and Edaan — otherwise known under the moniker, Bonglestar — the duo cook up a bubbling stew of sound that pops, boils, and percolates with a mix of rapidly uttered voice stems, a drum and bass rhythm based percussion momentum that is the driving engine for an assemblage of pastiched audio star bursts of interest. Earthly scoops up the essences of taking the very nature, and cycles of our various bio-systems and spins them into impressionistic paintings that blend the found sound, analog, and digital into a honey like sap that melts into the grooved surface of vinyl wax. Earthly’s Brint and Edaan caught up with us for a chat right after the following listen:

With all the bands that use earth in their moniker, why did you two decide upon Earthly as a name? Is it some sort of statement that is supposed to be indicative of your sound?

Edaan: We really like the idea that this sorta strange sounds were being made by humans. The sounds themselves therefore represent Earth. Kind of. Sorta like Earth, but not really.

Been playing that “Glaze” single over and over again, and the conversation topics that I have been throwing back and forth to your label (Noumenal Loom), is that there is this movement toward creating a kind of liquidity state of your sounds which worm their way with this kind of viscosity that that tunnels through the jagged shapings of hard hitting percussion, where the sound is always being fed, or poured into these instruments of distortion. Could you perhaps elaborate on what sorts of concepts you had in mind during this track’s inception?

Brint: Thanks Sjimon! The concept behind glaze was a pretty open ended one. We started with the vocal/drum and bass loop and then tried to create an environment in which it could gain momentum and pump up. I was listening to this track very visually and referenced the video game Katamari Damacy a bunch. That game is all about momentum and trying to collect all of these funny shapes to create a greater mass. I think for me a lot of this record is like that, stumbling and hopefully gracefully pulling off little tricks. Using small sounds and layering textures to create a bigger picture.

Edaan: I was pretty lovesick at the time when making this. To me, this is probably the closest to a love song on the record, though its about no one in particular. To me at least. If you listen closely you can hear some kissing sounds that Brint and I recorded. There’s a certain romantic quality that I feel carries through the record, but this one is the most human to human. Other images going through my head were a ballroom with marble floors, an animal birthday, the rushing of blood, or mud racing, or mud love.

Tell us more about the Bonglestar connections, because that stuff is super next level too.

Brint: I remember the first real Bonglestar track was maybe 4 years ago. Edaan took a track I uploaded to YouTube in college called “little prince visits the king”, and chopped it up a bunch in maybe Garageband or something. I’m pretty sure it was called “deep peyote edit” or something.

We are still Bonglestar (we sometimes say Bongle for short). It’s the spirit that pushes us on and everything. We have moments when we are working on tracks where we are like “this is so Bonglestar”, so all that stuff lives on in this record. Some of these tracks we had been working on since we were called Bonglestar Galactabong.

I think the idea to change the name happened pretty naturally, we were feeling a change and wanted to have a new name for our first album. It is refreshing sometimes to renew that way..like cutting your hair.

Edaan: Yeah some people were pissed when we changed it. Some people were like “phew, glad I don’t have to say ‘Bong’ anymore.”

I feel like the former ‘experimental’ tags have fallen by the wayside, as folks like yourself continue to show that these formerly abstract audio artifices are the current sound of the times. Thoughts on what this new post-experimental phase, stage or whatever is?

Brint: Hmm, post-experimental…

I feel like experimental music has always been a way for me to express myself in a way where I wasn’t ever sticking to a specific sound..Like I could try new things out without feeling like I was betraying some concept that was weighing me down.

Maybe the new experimental stuff now is just informed by more music now that most people interested in music can easily find it anywhere. I remember having Limewire and downloading loads of single tracks..rap, rock, mash-ups, etc. Maybe people making music today have just listened to more music than other generations, and in a more concentrated way. Those influences shine through.

Edaan: I’m happy that people are still experimenting quite a bit, even if its not tagged that way. I think the internet and computer technology have really helped keep things fresh. Anyone with a computer can torrent Ableton and start making music with nearly all the same tools as someone with access to a studio. And the less YouTube tutorials you watch, the more likely you are to make that music in a different way from anyone else.

One thing that I feel is inspiring these days is trying to explore new sound in ways that are fun, joyful, playful. Weird ways to make you smile. Our friend Holly Waxwing I think does this as well as anybody. With the music we make, I am always trying to make songs that sound impossible, but catchy. I think experimental concepts mixed with pop is always the most interesting to me. I mean even stuff on the radio right now is pretty experimental. Young Thug is doing crazy stuff.

Give us some thoughts as to what sort of night and day constraints, and inspirations went into the pudding during the making of Days.

Edaan: I think these qualities were partly noticed after the record was finished. Certain songs to us represented different times of day, different seasons. To me, Glaze is an early evening track.

Other artists you all have been really into?

Edaan: Holly Waxwing, SVN, Via App, GOTH MONEY ALL-STARS, Nidia Minaj, Yung Lean, Gravity Boys, DJ Sprinkles, Joey Anderson, Panda Bear — all super inspiring daily

Brint: I love all that Principe is doing. DJ Maboku has one of the coolest tags on his tracks, like when you hear “MikeWIllMadeIt”…the Moboku one is just so positive and pumps me up. “DJ MABOKU!”

Is there a dao of Earthly that you two care to share?

Brint: PEACE.

Edaan: LOVE.

Earthly’s album, Days will be available July 24 from Noumenal Loom.

Little Racer

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Little Racer’s forthcoming Foreign Tongues EP will be available June 16 from PaperCup Music, and we have the track “Montevideo” to provide something that exists beyond the getting by drudgery of the nine to five brutality of life. Little Racer’s Wade, Elliot, and Ish shared with us their experience of making the Foreign Tongues EP, and the breaking out of the nine to five cycles, beyond just getting by as depicted in the “Montevideo” track:

We wrote Foreign Tongues while we were adjusting to life as a band in NYC — juggling new relationships, new responsibilities and the challenges that surround that. That’s where a lot of the songs stem, not to mention sharing all that with simply getting by in New York. This city tends to wear you down — you feel a bit used and pushed to the side, cowering away in a small apartment that’s cluttered and too expensive. But that’s life and eventually you have to just let it be your inspiration. In “Montevideo”, we’re going back and forth between making those ends meet and running away from it, to some idyllic place we’ll probably never get to see.

Francesca Belmonte

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Franesca Belmonte’s vocals originally graced the Tricky albums False Idols and Adrian Thaws, and now is about to release her solo album, Anima via Tricky’s False Idols imprint. The Andrew Attah video for Francesca’s “Stole” finds the artist dancing to the mode of her own stories, song, and sparse productions, and lightly applied special effects. Digital enhancements and applications provide a mysterious, aloof feel, as Belmonte’s vocals themselves take the center stage of the artist’s own minimalist audio ballroom.

Francesca Belmonte shared a few thoughts with us on collaborating with Tricky, to moving her voice into to the solo spotlight, and signing with False Idols:

I have been in a privileged position over the last few years in that I have toured the world and collaborated with a major influential artist while remaining in the shadows. This has been a real blessing, allowing me to prepare and learn quietly out of the spotlight. I am proud to be a part of False Idols and everything it stands for and now that my album has come to fruition I cant wait to get on tour to start playing my own shows. I’m geared up and ready for whatever is to come next.

Dazzletine

dazzletine week in pop 2

Dan Koshute of Dazzletine gives us the video for “Lajos”, from the EP of the same name. Taking cues from the art and avante-garde modern schools of film, Koshute belts out the energy in a mix of decadent, and occultic imagery. The entire grainy film turns into an art house fiasco where Dan’s repeated sung pleas of, “baby”, and excessive “aaahs” keep the intensity building as the entire affair turns into a midnight matinee for all freaks, fiends, misfits, and future superstars to set their gaze, and ears upon. The Pittsburgh nu-glamsters keep the world, and rock and roll paradigm full of crunchy riffs, trashy hooks, and a counter culture art sensibility like Aleister Crowley attending fashion week. Dan from Dazzletine described the video for us with the following thoughts:

The “Lajos” video was influenced and inspired by my love for eroticism, Kenneth Anger films, occultism, and the French symbolist poets. I wanted it to serve as the capstone to these creative forces that have driven us artistically over the last few years up until the making of our debut, full-length record ‘Organomy,’ which we’re recording now. My goal was to make a video that serves the music—visuals and images that rely on the music itself—like a backdrop onstage, rather than one that exists independently as its own piece. I got the idea when I woke up from a dream where Anais Nin touched the side of my face and said “‘Let the sounds SPEAK!” Like the eternal interplay between creation and destruction, the video and the song coexist in ecstatic unity with each other and with all beings, forever.

Terrain Is Blank

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EuthCoast is releasing Terrain Is Blank, the shamble pop project of Tim Perry, in a split with Natural Violence available in late May, and we got the bouncing ball dance inspiring single, “My OCD’s Taking Control Again”. The jangle guitars move along with the rhythm of the certain and steadfast back beat, while Tim describes the moments of being overcome by the grips of the common obsessive compulsive disorder that many to most of the world’s most creative sorts are afflicted with. The fun, and frustration of OCD anything is suddenly transformed into a excitable number that fills one with the urge to seek out the most elastic, giant, nearby trampoline to bounce on all afternoon. After the following single brings out the spazz in you, check out our interview with Terrain is Blank’s Tim Perry.

Tell us about how Terrain Is Blank started, and is the name an allusion to some kind of archaic, tabula rasa concept?

TIB started as a concept soon after my old band Weed Diamond ended back around early 2011. I grew tired with what I was doing creatively and wanted to start fresh but I didn’t know how to proceed. I kicked around a few ideas and even uploaded a handful of tracks but I just felt something was missing. I wasn’t loving what I was putting out and I started to wonder why I was even making music anymore. Months would go by where I wouldn’t even pick up my guitar or listen to music. But when I left Colorado Springs something seemed to click back into place. I got excited about what I was doing, what I was listening to, what I was reading, what my friends were doing. So now I’m going through a bit of a creative spike and I’m just recording everything by myself, unfortunately. I hate recording, especially by myself. I’d much rather be in a band and collaborate. I’m hoping that I’ll meet some people out here in Portland who would want to play and maybe we’ll put together some shows or whatever. Playing live is what I love doing more than basically anything.

As for the origin of the name, it’s ultimately meaningless. I’ve had people give their own versions of what it means to them and if they get something from it then that’s great. It means something to me on some sort of weird, abstract level but I don’t want to push what my personal definition is because that definition is fluid.

terrain is blank week in pop 2

Give us how OCD helped inspire the song, “My OCD is Taking Control Again”

My OCD started to really become apparent when I was getting ready to move to Portland from the Springs. I don’t know if it was stress or anxiety but it was brutal. I would be walking on the sidewalk and see a fast car coming and have thoughts of jumping in front of it. “Harm OCD” is what it’s called. Look it up. It’s terrifying. Since I’ve settled down here (I’ve been here since last May) it’s gotten a lot better. It is still very much a part of my life though. The song is an exploration on how the thoughts can come out of nowhere, how anyone walking around you could be having those same thoughts, how I’ll be fine for a week and then suddenly a shitty thought pops up while I’m watching TV.

Tell us what other songs you have in the works right now

I’m putting out a short cassette of some demos through this incredible new label EuthCoast. Those songs are a little more rough sounding than “OCD” but they are very much in the same vein. Anxiety, neurosis, obsession. So far that’s my only physical release planned. I’m working on a few songs I’d like to put out on a 7″ that are about pro-wrestling, which is a huge passion of mine. I also just started writing for my first full length release as TIB but I don’t have any concrete details on that yet.

Other artists that you feel the world should be listening to?

I know that there’s going to be a ton of people that I miss but here it goes. The EuthCoast roster is incredible. Homebody is my friends’ band from Denver and they are my favorite Colorado band. Natural Violence is great too. Really dark, really weird. Right up my alley. My cassette will be EuthCoast’s first release and I think Natural Violence’s will be the second. My buddy Andrew is in this new band Spirit Club that is so fucking cool. Really pretty stuff. I’m trying to convince him to let me tour with them next year so we’ll see if he caves in haha. Media Jeweler is another band that I’m stoked on. What they are doing is just bonkers. All of these bands are so talented and doing such exciting stuff that inspires me to make music. I don’t care how cheesy that sounds. Sue me.

Terrain Is Blank’s split with Natural Violence will be available at the end of May via EuthCoast.

Boycrush

madeira week in pop

This week we got introduced to Auckland, New Zealand (indie pop culture’s sophisto next gen nexus right now) artist Boycrush, aka Alistair Deverick who dropped the spring fling flirtations and sensations with, “Flirt”, that features features Yumi Zouma’s Kim Pflaum (also of Madeira). Boycrush kick it off with some opening spoken dance step instructions to provide choreographed directives as Kim takes over with her signature soft and serene song that makes any moment, and song a treasured, and kindred experience. Thoughts on the dynamics, differences, and distances between bodies, people, and connections that connect like telegrams sent by the caring hands of wind gusts that see sincere notes and love letters safely across lands, continents, seas, or from one school/office desk to the next.

Alistair Deverick and Kim Pflaum both were so kind as to take the time to share their thoughts on process, and approaches on creating the instant allure production quality on “Flirt”:

Kim:

Boycrush (Alistair) approached us late last year asking if we wanted to take a listen to his new track “Flirt” and to play around with it. The YZ boys and I each took a stab at it and worked on several versions of the song both lyrically and musically, then sent them through to Alistair. I think I recorded four completely different vocal takes for it in the end! Alistair then did a masterful job at combining of each of the versions into the final song. This left the song with its compelling textural structure – with lots of layers to sink your ears into. It was great having the chance to work alongside such a talented Kiwi artist and to witness how he makes his magic firsthand. I can’t wait for his EP release!

Alistair (Boycrush):

boycrush week in pop 1

I often start things through a vibe snippet and I try to mishear melodies or lyrics and this started with a sampled loop on the SP404 which became the bones of the rhythm part. I then gradually replaced those parts and took away the sample and also added other sections, I guess sort of like scaffolding on a house. Also I went back and forth between Ableton and pro tools a lot which is time-consuming but I kind of like the different approaches.

Charlie from Yumi Zouma wrote the pre chorus and some guitar parts and we got together with Kim to record the vocals — her voice fit so perfectly. Kim and I wrote the chorus together and we tried different lyrics and I think this version fits together the best.

Turtle Giant

turtle giant week in pop 1

São Paulo, Brazil and Macao’s own Turtle Giant are releasing their new album, Many Mansions later this spring, hear the hop about jingle-jangly not-so-business as usual biz on their joyful jam,”Business Suit Morning Struggle”. The band lent the following insights on the making of the single over long distance emails:

‘It’s a song about the struggles of daily life, and the feeling of wanting to let everything go and follow your dreams,’ says the band’s Fredji Ritchie. ‘Alcohol was flowing freely at rehearsals. I think that explains the country twang.’

Happenin Fest 2015

happenin fest week in pop 2

It’s almost that magical time of year again, where Happenin Records presents Happenin Fest 2015 in Birmingham, Alabama, hosted at Good People Brewing Co. Saturday, June 20, beginning at 2:00pm featuring folks like, Black Lips, Pujol, NOTS, Andrew Combs, Turbo Fruits, D. Watusi, Tape Waves, White Laces, GT \\//, Nowhere Squares, Dommel Mosel, and over a dozen local vendors. Support some of your favorite southern DIY denand izens, get more info via the Happenin Fest site.

Touring about Europe right now, check out our heroes, yours, and everyone’s with Warm Soda’s Taylor Camarot directed video for, “Can’t Erase This Feeling”, from their new album, Symbolic Dream, available now from Castle Face. This is what the sound of Matthew Melton’s recent solo output has been alluding to all along, with the newly Austin, TX relocated Fuzz City Studio sound that makes every day a good day to rock out tot he new sound of tomorrow’s oldies.

Chicago’s sewingneedle dropped the performance video for their single, “two for the road”, ahead of their album, vote of no confidence, available June 2 from Already Dead Tapes & Records. The band drops a dower, somber track that rises slowly like the heat from a planted tree-bonfire during a cold Chi-town winter. Further celebration to follow with word of a joint beer release with Chicago’s Spiteful Brewing, get your inner catharsis on and out with the gang here and now.

From the volatile upcoming 10″ Total Cultrua EP available June 2 from Dead Labour; hear Malportado Kids (comprised of Victoria Ruiz and Joey La Neve DeFrancesco of Downtown Boys) make a demand to take back colonialized land on the establishment horn and beat-beater; “Basta Huedo”. Find the benevolent misbehavers on tour June 5-21.

Featuring appearances from folks like Black Milk, Chuck Inglish, Daz Dillinger, Olivier Daysoul, Mc Melodee, Perrion, Do Or Die, Johnny P, Suzi Analogue and more; check out a the following full stream of Fundamentals, from Parisian producer Onra’s new album of nu-rhythmic styles from All City Records.

Dennis Sager and Bennett Littlejohn, aka Nashville and New Orleans’ duo Bent Denim, who dropped the Bored Room Productions video for “Good Night’s Sleep” off their album, Romances You, available now. The video couples Ben and Dennis’s reflections of ruminations on intimacy with a video that depicts a blue haired belle in various pensive bedroom poses, justapozed by images of raising family, that combines all the affections after-effects of romantic desires, bonds and connections.

We were one of the first to introduce you to Purmamarca’s “No Battles”, and now we bring you the “classicist” radio-edit that brings about all those resonating, and recalled years, and days gone by in those familiar, assuaging tones and cadences.

From director Megan-Magdalena Bourne and Ryan Rose; watch the fetish tinged video of fashionable folks posing for the sensuous ACTORS single, “Let It Grow”. The affair of boisterous beauties takes a turn for the macabre like a Grand Guignol of vampirical vixens indulging in a bloody, neck biting bonfire of the vanities. Read our premiere feature of the single, including interview with frontman Jason Corbett here. Corbett also told us this about the video:

Megan-Magdalena Bourne and Ryan Rose are two of some of my favorite Vancouver artists. Luckily for me they were interested in collaborating on this video! It’s their interpretation of “Let It Grow”.

Meet Liverpool’s Bad Meds, the next release slated from Jonathan Clancy’s imprint, Maple Death Records who have been asked to join Swans for a few dates; hear the sludge/slug-fest of new single, “Hoax Apocalypse”. Listen as the entire heavens and hell come crashing down and colliding together in the middle like debunked mythology expressed through the dirtiest riffs around.

From Röyksopp’s new album The Inevitable End from Dog Triumph / Wall Of Sound / Cooking Vinyl; peep the emotially heavy Nathan Scherrer video for, “I Had This Thing” ft. Jamie Irrepressibles in late night discussions over text, and the indelible neon lights of crushed hearts.

From Guinea-Bissau by Lisbon artist Alexandre Francisco Diaphra’s Diaphra’s Blackbook Of The Beats available July 6 from Mental Groove Records, check out the chilled out visualizations for the instrumental cut, “Todo O Fado É Vadio”, featuring a behind the scenes peek.

Explore the hidden brooks, creeks, and tributaries that lead from deltas, rivers, to the mouth of the electric fuzz organ seas on the title cut from CALLmeKAT’s EP Hidden Waters EP available May 12 from Total Heaviosity / ILS / Caroline.

Enjoy all the on-the-road fun with our heroes Chastity Belt in their DIY video for the moving song, “Joke”, off their opus, Time To Go Home from Hardly Art.

Evans The Death side Smiling Disease dropped the altered, abstract images from Sophie Mawson for their fuzzy, hazy, mind opening single, “The Klingon Race”, from their brand new Memorials of Distinction cassette, Beach Bodies: 2008-2014. Olly Moss slows down the fast pace of your day for a sludge slithering soak in the shade and repeated utterances of “whoa, whoa…”

Rock along to the shred fest of attitude and strong headed attitudes on “You Used to Be My Baby”, the title cut from Vicky and the Vengents’ May 27 release from Wiener/Burger Records. The girl pop “where did you go” rhetorical inquiries and more will make a winning bid appeal for your dearest affections.

From Noah’s upcoming album, Sivutie available June 22 from flau; we bring you the TAKCOM / Hideyuki Hashimoto video for, “flaw”. Here glorious, inexplicable events occur with modes of levitation, swirling silk shapes that take the form of diamonds, and streamers amid environments of nature, and CGI abstractions. It’s all the flawless visuals that you might have imagined the video for “flaw” might bring.

Coeds’ Sensitive Boys 7″ will be available May 19 from Old Flame Records, and we have the fun, sweet, and sassy sleazy fun of the bubbly synth popper b-side, “Videos”.

In response to uprisings in response to injustice and racist abuse by authorities in Baltimore, Ferugson, Maryland, Missouri, and so forth; Canadian punk legends D.O.A. dropped the following statement against police abuse of unarmed citizens with, “The Cops Shot a Kid (Gonna Be A Riot)”, off the forthcoming album, Hard Rain Falling from Sudden Death Records.

Check out the bright electro styles from Bernie Levv, one of Chicago’s newest talents who gave us quick-eclectic-rhythm bouncer, “Want It”, produced by DRUMMY, from her forthcoming release, The Golden Hour, available at the end of May. The bright maximalist sounds that have largely been inspired by Chicago’s ever evolutionary underground art moments that have inspired the whole globe are brought all the way back home again in a big way.

Anova Music continues to bring us some of the best sounds from the Israeli scenes, and we bring you the Or Bar-el, Liran Lin visuals for Tiny Fingers’ instrumental, “The Fall”. Watch as an epic frantic chases take you to the very edges of earth’s existence, in tune to the tense electrically imbued buzzes of the Fingers’ score.

Also flunk out of life and have all the fun with Jaill, on the chipper jam, “Got An F”, from the forthcoming album, Brain Cream, available June 30 from Burger Records. Failing skills tests and other life measurements has never before sounded like such a pop-shamble groove.

Taking off on tour this month, take rolicking rock and roller ride with Chief Scout on the track, “Rollercoaster”, off the debut EP, See available May 26.

Off Lane 8 ‘s upcoming album, Rise; watch the night riding video from DEMS for the electro pulsing pop puncher, “Ghost” feat. Patrick Bake. You too will be inspired to take to the midnight asphalt and join a biker gang of your own.

Also catch the electro murmur of the Audion (aka Matthew Dear) remix of Lane 8″s “Ghost” as well.

Matt FX’s Scooter Island vehicle dropped the self-directed video for “Breezy”, ft. Zoe Penina that depicts all the carefree, indulgences of good times happening anywhere and everywhere.

From Brontosaurus’ forthcoming album, Our Animal Ways; trot along to the galloping audio gallery on the single, “D Minor Threat”, that toughs out some minor keys that strike a raucous, and rambunctious chord.

Camera Shy’s Week in Pop

camera shy week in pop 1Camera Shy releases their follow-up to last year’s Jack-O-Lantern EP with their debut self-titled available July 14 from Run For Cover, and we present Nick Bassett (Whirr frontman/Nothing ) and Alexandra “Lexy” Morte’s Week in Pop guest selections:

Nick

Terry Reid, “Brave Awakening”

Was a toss up between this or “To Be Treated Right” but the slide guitar and vocal melodies made this one for me.

Merchandise, “Green Lady”

Best record of last year. Could have pulled almost any song from the LP but just happened to be into this one at the moment.

Spooky Black, “Pull”

Basically a dreamier, sadder Drake slow jam. I listen to this record almost everytime I go to sleep.

Fleetwood Mac, “Dreams”

Classic. Best vocal melodies, drum fills and lyrics.

Chet Baker, “Almost Blue”

Best musician of all time. the Morrissey of Jazz.

Lexy

Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, “Stay”

Reminds me of my childhood listening to 60s songs with my sister and cousin in our rooms on summer break.

Cherry Glazerr, “Grilled Cheese”

This is a such a cute song with the silliest lyrics I’ve ever heard.

Alvvays, “Marry Me Archie”

Has the catchiest melodies and her voice is great. I love the production of this whole record.

April March, “Chick Habit”

First heard this song in the movie Death Proof. That’s a great movie and I love how dark the song is while sounding so happy.

Peggy Lee, “Where Or When”

The most romantic music came from the 30’s and 40’s in my opinion. This song is a perfect example. The combination of piano and her voice are beautiful.

Follow Camera Shy on Twitter.

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