Week in Pop: Cheri Cheri Jaguar, Doss, Gold Casio

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With The Mercy Beat, sergioisdead, What Fun Life Was, & more.

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Sjimon Gompers | April 25, 2014

week in pop

France's Cheri Cheri Jaguar, the emotive-electro-emoticon syntheses of Doss. (Cheri Cheri Jaguar press photo courtesy of Lisa Ouakil, cover/alt photo courtesy of Doss)

Spring showers and the accompanying effect of general rejuvenation that keeps delivering fresh new sounds, as Impose's Week in Pop continues to keep you up-to-date with today and tomorrow's greatest ground breakers. But first we make our way through a handful of headlines on the trend-bend, with the ongoing saga of yet, more Wu-Tang drama as RZA gives Raekwon a 30 day advisory to re-join or the upcoming album A Better Tomorrow will not see release, as Slayer released their first single post-loss of Jeff Hanneman with the loosie “Implode“, while Nas is evidently working with producers Timbaland, Swizz Beatz and No ID on a new album, The Libertines are allegedly playing a reunion gig July 5 at London's Hyde Park, as it was confirmed that Blood Orange's Dev Hynes scored the soundtrack for James Franco's Palo Alto movie, and Morrissey is embroiled in a beef with Canadian Minister Gail Shea of Fisheries and Oceans over seal hunting ethics. Rounding everything up, we bring you inside the emoticon energy of Doss, a video premiere and interview with Cheri Cheri Jaguar, Portland's new dance vehicle Gold Casio, the pop realm of The Mercy Beat, indie hip hop rising NYC producer sergioisdead, the Bay Area's new dream poppers What Fun Life Was, closing it out with a new Bad Cello single, and more —in no particular order.

Cheri Cheri Jaguar is a band that began in Christmas of 2012 during Paris jam sessions, that became Strange Weather Studio recordings in Brooklyn. The wild feline pack of Sacha, Arthur, Malik, Alex have been seen playing with Beach Fossils, and Wampire throughout Paris, releasing the cassette and CD single Jaguar / ICE via the UK label Hause Of Pins, and now prepare to release the Collapsing Vapor EP May 5 on their Pillow Talk imprint.

The single “Walk/Don't Walk” paces on the sidewalks and cross-walks after midnight in time to the swift pale chords. So true to the eerie night flight and amp tower timelessness of the Cheri Cheri Jaguar order and aesthetic, “Walk” travels between the nervous street staggering points of view, a vintage alien autopsy throwback, and nostalgic summer vacation film of sea and sun. The night prowling steps dash like their name's ode to the panthera genus species, delivered by the strength of Arthur, Malik, and Alex. And in between the sci-fi freak show, random water outings, and late night urban hand-cam recordings — Sacha connects these disparate segments by vocally grabbing the reigns of attention, guiding along the sound's pronounced points of steel panther directions.

Alex and Sacha of Cheri Cheri Jaguar were cool enough to talk about the the Paris by New York dichotomies, connections, creative influence from these revered cities, environments, and much more.

From vintage vacation films to freaky alien autopsies, how did this become part of the strange visual pastiche of “Walk/Don't Walk”?

Sacha: When we were in New York, I have been filming everyday. Just like my grandfather did with his super 8 camera when he was traveling with his family. It was obvious with the walk through NYC. So I tried to marry those to memories. As far as Roswell is concerned, it's Alex idea. I think it’s coherent with a collage concept between fiction and reality, in the very fact of filming.

(Photograph by Nelson Bourrec Carter — with Arthur Hervé, Malik Milka Breesch Tadj, Sacha Golemanas and Alex Ctr at L'international.)

What was it like recording Collapsing Vapor at Strange Weather Studio?

Alex: It was awesome, we were like children in Disneyland. Marc, the sound engineer instantly understood what we’d like. I don’t remember talking much about what we wanted. We just said that we wished the EP to sound like it was recorded in a 'church, but a church under water.' Et voilà !

Sacha: Marc Alan Goodman. This guy is a real genius. He is so smart and sweet. And he's so REAL! We had an excellent time at this studio, it’s the indie music and shoegaze heaven. We could not help speaking french and that was quite hard for him, ha!

Any stories, anecdotes you can share?

Alex: Initially we were just going to visit Arthur, the guitarist, in NYC, then I thought, 'hey why not record our song there?' They were not finished yet, so, we booked four rehearsal sessions, one for each songs. Making music with a deadline, far from home is very stimulating and inspiring!

(Photograph by Nelson Bourrec Carter — with Arthur Hervé, Sacha Golemanas and Malik Milka Breesch Tadj at L'international.)

At the end the songs were sounding very different from what they were sounding 4 days before. In a surprising good way.

Sacha: I will always remember how I wrote the lyrics for To Darkness. I had no idea what to say in this song and how to talk about love stories with no pathos, in a poetic and dreamy way; trying to write like Robert Smith. I was standing up in the cold night in front of Jackie Kennedy water point, behind the Guggenheim Museum and, “black is for the sea to be” popped into my mind, just a description which opened my imagination. Then I went to church, don't ask why.

Having started your own label, Pillow Talk, what other activity and potential signees are you looking into, along with bringing Collapsing Vapor into the world?

Alex: Initially we’ve made Pillow Talk to release this EP. But after, why not helping bands to release their debut single/EP. The same way Haus Of PINS did for us for our debut single, it was a great help.

Sacha: We’d like to introduce DIYWYC “Do It Yourself With Your Computer” and work with people, all around the world, without knowing them, and without physical constraints.
What is the state of the scenes, DIY movements throughout France, and namely Paris? There seems to be always something buzzing around those Parisian sectors.

Sacha: There are plenty of DIY glorifications in Paris. I'm in an Fine Arts school, and I know a lot of people who record and mix their own music, a lot of people also write fanzines by themselves too! But I don't think it has something to do with the late 70s punk way of thinking. It's more like, 'I don't need to pay for this and I can do it quick and fine.'

(Photograph courtesy of Dark Globe — with Arthur Hervé, Malik Milka Breesch Tadj, Sacha Golemanas and Alex Ctr at L'international.)

What do you feels is the French, Parisian x NYC connection? What shared similarities and differences between those respective scenes have you all found from recording, and playing with so many NYC luminaries?

Alex: It’s an interesting question. I think there’s a mutual attraction between Paris and NYC. In Paris we love to copy NYC, we import things like street food, rooftop bar, concept store… and it’s advertised as 'a concept/idea from NYC,' it's like a trademark.

About the music scene, in Paris, as well as all around the world, New York appears to be one of THE city for indie music. I used to think that having a band in NYC was easier than Paris because New Yorker seems to be more open minded on music, but there’s is a lot more band in New York. So from what I heard it’s not that easy. Here in Paris, it’s quit simple and quick to get gigs. It's easier to find good sound engineer in NYC though. Both of these cities have different things to offer.

Spring summer plans for Cheri Cheri Jaguar?

Alex: We’ll write and record new songs. Sounds like a good plan to me!

Cheri Cheri Jaguar's Collapsing Vapor EP will be available May 5 on iTunes and Bandcamp.

The upcoming advent April 29 release advent of the Doss self-titled on the elegant and illustrious, Acéphale imprint has been an and upcoming story of the utmost ellusive intrigues. In the past few years, there was various talk about a project called 'DOSS' that flexed a sensibility of future dance design that was in demand by a number of artists and producers alike. Numerous discusson chains, lists of international cables, and countless other sources familiar with the project seemed to confirm that a reverse engineered approach to keenly observed international dance pop methodologies was at play out of an anonymous NYC apartment studio. There may have been a few more mentions in some other international-indie pop discussion forums on vague message boards of dubious validity, and some opportune name-drops from further dispatches, but the Doss phenomenon was just about to hit.

And that's when the remixes began, first with Doss remixing How To Dress Well's “& It Was U”, and Wildarms' “Full Hearts”. The questions of whether or not Doss was a programming team, an algorithm, or a working title for a post-Microsoft DOS operating system, were soon revealed to be an audio vehicle of a Brooklyn based artist who operates by the handle of, 'Baby.' Through the emergence of a Soundcloud and Facebook, Doss reveals the insignia of a heart-nosed-puppy emoticon logo, just a beginning look into the trippy, deconstructed emotional projections that were about to send all anticipation and expectation into the future air waves of cellular broadband cables and dial-up communications.

And that's when “The Way I Feel” dropped, along with a link into the post-tech displacement / dysphoria of the website, www.dossworld.net. through breaking analog dream pop machines into these new eras. In the digital post-rave visualizer, Doss presents “The Way I Feel” with all of the stats from to listing the 128 BPM, the four minutes and twenty-six seconds track length, a bracket that reads “synergy unit engaged”, followed by the following advice blurb that reads: “Tip #13 Feeling low? Feeling fragile? All you need is an instant, invigorating burst of energy.” As the blue and alabaster effects soar into and above your eyes, the various key progressions work the same effects on the mind, to the drum and bass waterfall of “I feel” statements. Feelings are everything, but Baby channels them through a series of effects and filters that mimic the experience of relayed connections that occur between the electronic and digital interfaces of shared human expressions and experiences. The magnitude of meanings and how these raw components of human response are effected when processed through the digital machinery is put on exhibition to one of the most head tripped songs heard all year. But again, this is still but the beginning of the Doss effect/phenomenon.

On the most recent release, “Here Tonight” shakes the indie dance history of future and past to the core, accompanied by a visualizer that bumps like the emanating orange and yellow light of utility street lamps. Once again we are given the classic dance single cover break down, that informs us of the song's 86 BPM, four minutes and forty-five seconds run time, the bonus information that informs us that, “spirit mode has been enabled”, to the following level progression message that reads: “Congratulations! You can now access Spirit Mode. Take advantage of this achievement at any time.” The verses turn the dance tropes on their head through the spirit spinning stanzas that haunt with, “honey moon glow cry, come back outside as I come into when you come out, too,” the sensory igniting and striking, cover skin, hair grows, crush girl, the smell of smoke, the different ways to blow, I'll say that's how I know”, to the acid-emotive chorus winds of, “if you were here tonight.” The vision screen continues to burn and glow with, “dizzy some dream, be sweet to me, when I see you swallow the swoon,” to the intimate, economic and electronically altered poetics of, “kiss kiss, look below, crush girls shallow so, the different ways to blow, I'll say that I don't know.” In total, the acid-house reboot and rewiring of Doss gives the entire dance pop world an ultimatum that demands new expressive and emotive algorithms and codes for tomorrow's new command line entries.

In celebration of the upcoming release of the Doss self-titled, we give you our candid interview with Baby, indie future pop music's rising star.

What attracts you to working in the worlds of machine manipulated pop, where analog dance console are met with digital manifestations?

It wasn't really a choice, it's just what happened. I've grown up with technology, and infuse it into all aspects of my reality.

I enjoyed your remixes of Wildarms' “Full Hearts”, and How To Dress Well's “& It Was U”; how do you find remixing the works of others different from your own audio constructions?

Thanks! I don't really see them as being different- for remixes I apply the same sensibility as I would my own music. The process is similar, a raw landscape that I try to fill in and make my own, then working whichever artists song into that space.

When did you first began recording your own music?

I'm a classically trained pianist, and held my first solo recital on Habbo Hotel years ago.

Your website is incredible, with it's operative futurist-Eastern Shibuya interactive platform. What was the web development like, and how do you find that it fits into your grand vision of sound, sight, and overall aesthetic?

Normally I like to do my own design, but Oval-X actually developed the website. I love their design work and believe we share a similar aesthetic. I sent them a pretty expansive mood board and it just blossomed from there.

“The Way I Feel” single from your upcoming self-titled album has not only this whole next level type of dance and Euro-every-era-house nature, but also hits on this aspect and question of feeling.

Thank you, it's interesting to hear other peoples interpretations. I'm very emotional, I'm glad that my music can evoke the same from you.

Like what is the bridge of sentiment between the artificial, the digital, the human, the individual, and the physical?

I think all are cohesive and always have been, but like a grand merge will happen sometime in the future.

It also introduced questions of singularity into the picture, where the human voice is processed through a series of effects filters, whilst singing about feelings. Was there an attempt to take this to a Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? kind of level, making music that replicants and humans alike might relate to in their collective experiences?

No not really, it's just something that I sort of stumbled into doing.

Can you tell us what recording your self-titled was like?

Mostly during the night and a lot of mouse clicking with a broken computer.

Are you collabing or remixing any one else's work, or are there some remixes of your music happening as well?

I'm not currently remixing or collaborating with anyone, but I'm into any opportunities. There's a bunch of remixes of “The Way I Feel” coming out soon, though.

Can you leave us with some words of wisdom from the Doss philosophy?

You are always enough.

Doss' self-titled EP will be available April 29 from Acéphale.

We had some fun with the folks from Adventure Galley last year, their new Internet Piracy Records imprint, and today we have the privilege of announcing their new project, Gold Casio. The classic keyboard obsessed dance pop formations are courtesy of the Galley's own Brock Grenfell, Forrest Grenfell and George Shultz who continue on in Portland's DIY tradition of making some of the best, home-backyard spun dance, electro, and disco tunes of all varieties. With this legacy to uphold and live up to in mind and deed, we give you the first listen to Gold Casio's debut of their brand new single, “Colors on the Wall”.

Featuring an undisclosed lead chanteuse, “Colors on the Wall” coos and croons with the party call beckoning of, “ohh I wanna walk on the wild side baby.” Like the tight production character and quality found on Adventure Galley's recent album, Anywhere That's Wild; the sections of synthesized strings and ballroom-based piano are neatly placed a natural arrangement that feels prime for remixes, extended versions, chops, and altering remix screws. The recording is ripped from the discotheque halls and happy-hour dive bar jukebox selections that keep a heavy energetic array of head-lifting caffeine for the ear on hand at all times. The dance floor single projects every note, key, and vocal to spray out like disco ball sprays of light turn in time and various colors displayed on the gravelly surfaces of a pub's poster-lined wall.

We got a chance to catch up with Brock, Forrest, and George, of Gold Casio and Adventure Galley to get more information about their new dance-dazed project.

This project is really something, might I ask who the vocalist is in Gold Casio?

I actually can't disclose the name of the vocalist on “Colors on the Wall” at the moment as she's getting ready for a major launch for her own album this summer. What I can tell you is that she's an incredibly talented Los Angeles-based songwriter/producer who you'll likely be hearing a lot about soon. The album we're working on at the moment features many different vocal collaborations as well as vocals from members of the band.

With all the activity surrounding Adventure Galley and Internet Piracy Records; where did you all find the time, and how did this Gold Casio project happen?

Recently having the ability and resources to start self-producing our own material has opened a lot of doors to generate material quickly without having to spend tons of money getting into studios. We spend basically all of our free time writing and recording songs and truly love the experience. With six members in Adventure Galley, all of whom write, we tend to end up with large back catalogs of material and so Gold Casio formed out of a group of tracks that seemed cohesive but didn't seem to be a good fit for Adventure Galley. George, Brock and I had been listening to a lot of influences like Prince, Talking Heads, and Michael Jackson, as well modern influences like Daft Punk and Justice so we had a lot of fun building off of a different breed of dance music than AG normally focuses on.

There is something about that Portland, indie Northwest disco pop that is really soothing. What is it about the air, the scenes, communities, and Douglas firs up there that contributes to this do you all feel?

The laid back and youthful vibe of Portland definitely has contributed to the way I write, and with fantastic artists like RAC around that are also building off of a similar disco pop vibe it really makes us think were in the right place. Gold Casio was also very influenced by our time spent in Southern California as well as a recent trip George and I took to France.

I love the super future-art-deco “Colors on the Wall” that imagines this kind of splashed arrangement, either real or hallucinated, perceptions of high art psychedelic art. What was recording this heady number like?

We all actually live in a 19th-century church in SE Portland that we've constructed a simple home studio in. This track is a result of a lot of late nights spent jamming away. It can be really refreshing to work on new projects like this because I don't feel bound to any specific style and can simply just experiment. The song has been through a couple different incarnations now and was built by just recording layer after layer, rolling with the parts that seem to work and scrapping the rest. I definitely had fun playing with psychedelic textures and building a sound collage that swirls around a hard-hitting and repetitive drum and bass beat.

Are there remixes for this in the works? And if so who might be remixing?

This track seems really pretty perfect for remixing, things with this project have moved along so quickly that we don't have any lined up at the moment, but I'll definitely be getting in contact with some different producers once the track is released. We also only got the master recording back a couple weeks ago.

Tell us more about this Internet Piracy Records compilation. Who all else is on it?

The Internet Piracy Records compilation includes basically all my favorite acts in Portland including Minden, Hustle and Drone, and Foreign Orange as well as one my favorite producers, Magic Sword out of Boise, and some really talented new-comers like Coco Columbia and Dorsia. Although its quite diverse in terms of genre, it miraculously has a very niche and cohesive energy level which I think is ideal for a compilation album.

What other recordings are you all working on for Gold Casio?

We have an album in the works at the moment, you can expect collaborations with more IPR artists, and material stylistically similar to Colors on the Wall as well as some experimental material that might catch people off guard.

Where do you feel that Adventure Galley's musical sensibilities meet up with Gold Casio, and the rest of the IPR imprint?

Adventure Galley has been playing together for several years now and it's really exciting how comfortable we've become with playing as one tight-knit unit. We've been able to put material together really quickly lately and our singers Aaron and David never cease to amaze me with the new stuff they've been writing. Both Gold Casio and Adventure Galley play high energy, melodic dance music but with pretty vastly different backbones; AG recently has been building off of a lot of New-Wave, Post-Punk, and classic Rock and Roll influence while Gold Casio is more focused on Disco, House, and Experimental Electronic music.

Give us the lowdown on any other releases we can expect from Gold Casio.

The next track we'll be releasing is a collaboration with our close friend and roommate, Coco Columbia. At this point we're not really tied to a specific release schedule but it'll likely be coming out within the next month or so. I'd like to get some music videos in the works as well as looking to release a full length towards the fall.

Keep an ear out for more from Gold Casio's Soundcloud and Portland indie, Internet Piracy Records.

From the tender mercies presented in the indie pop presents and presence from The Mercy Beat; get closer to the action and their sleeve worn sentiments of, “An Act of Mercy”. The touch of throw back olden souls light the hives full of future glows for future days. The cold hard realities are shunned for the fantasy tales of, “don't tell me the truth, because the truth kills, just tell me tell sweet lies,” downed like shiny sugar pills washed with high-fructose corn-syrup-soda.

Bouncing a balance between the smooth crooner sound of recent single, “Sweet” to the saccharine slick moves and fancy pop shoe-kicks of, “An Act of Mercy” — The Mercy Beat pack a sharp and well versed punch. Everything is exacted to a well organized plan, from the rolling synth pins and wheels that ride through the 80s 12″ college pop and UK Factory Records fantaticism, super high on sweetener-additives. The song drops every note in what feels like a drop of glamor screens from a 1980s music video of well groomed mullets, power suit garb, and neon outlines that points a precursor mark to 90s fashions. The instruments and productions pour out the heart strung ecstacy like a strange love triangle dialogue leftover from old, abandoned Manchester warehouses.

We had the pleasure of having The Mercy Beat's Sam, Matt and Ian join us for the following roundtable discussion.

As an international band that heralds from Hong Kong, Honolulu, and Maryland, to LA; how have all these backgrounds lent influence to the band's sense of sound and audio stylings?

Sam: I grew up in Maryland right outside of DC, so for me it was all about the post-punk harDCore scene. Fugazi was my favorite band as a kid, I probably saw them 100 times. What especially grabbed me was the creative, melodic bass lines those bands would often have, and that lead me to start playing music, figuring out interesting things to play on the bass. Being from that scene I was originally into really angry, aggressive music, but that's changed over the years. I still like that stuff, but now I also like the opposite.

Matt: Okay, well music is a very important thing growing up in Hawai'i because let's be real, there isn't much to do. I didn't live near the beach so skateboarding and music was the extent of my interests. My uncles and cousins are excellent Hawaiian musicians so I grew up watching that. They are monsters on slack-key guitar and fucking ukelele if you believe that. Hawaiian music is very much about playing covers and standards and I never identified with it, not being ethnic Hawaiian, but it was all around all the time, so it did influence me to make music in my own way. And if you skateboard (anywhere in the world) as a kid, then you listen to music all day while skating. My friends and I would make amazing mixtapes to show off the rad shit we recorded off Radio Free Hawai'i, this independent radio station that sadly has since shut down. Anyways, it was always punk rock and reggae with little bits of soul and rockabilly and stuff. I loved the weird bands, bands with something striking about their sound. Joey Ramone's voice, HR's voice, Lux Interior's style, the Misfits' choruses; I loved the guitar playing and tone of echo and the bunnymen and the cure, and loved everything about the Clash and Fugazi. So basically immersed myself in that and never stopped.

Ian: I grew up in Hong Kong, it's an intoxicating experience. So here's an example. My high school punk band toured mainland China, which is pretty unheard of. Due to China's strict censorship regulations and the political orientation of the band we were required to submit our lyrics in order to be granted touring permissions, so we sent in the lyrics from U2's Joshua Tree, which apparently they were cool with. People's Liberation Army soldiers with Ak-47s followed us to every gig.

How did the name come about?

We draw a lot of influence from 60's R&B, like we're taking elements of the original dance music from back then and juxtaposing it with the influences we grew up on. It occurred to us that what we were doing was similar in spirit to what the Merseybeat bands and Maximum R&B bands were doing back then, so Merseybeat inspired the name.

Were you all big fans of moving that Mersey Beat into the Mercy of the modern era of beats?

Totally.

Favorite old school Mersey beat sounds from the UK?

Probably Kingsize Taylor, or Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. And we love the Beatles, naturally.

An Act of Mercy” is an incredible single, I would say that it's like your guy's theme song. How did this merciful act of song come into fruition?

Sam: Thank you. It started with the bass line, which I think subconsciously came from Express Yourself by Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. But then I thought, what would it sound like if New Order played it? So I moved the bass line up really high and played it with a lot of reverb and chorus. The song shaped itself around that.

We're excited about your upcoming album slated for this June, what have the recording sessions been like?

I'll make a demo of a song at home and then we get in the rehearsal room and play it over and over like ten thousand times until it makes sense. Then we record it at home or at a friend's studio. And that takes a long time because I go haywire. I'm very meticulous.

What do you all make of the current state of the LA scenes?

It's kind of fascinating what's happened in LA lately. I moved here from NY a few years ago; there used to be a sense that all the 'exciting' music was coming out of NY and LA was more straight mainstream. But that has completely shifted in the last few years and now there is a general sense that LA is where it's at. When I moved my NY musician friends said, you're crazy, or like, you're a traitor. And in the years since every single one of them has moved here.

The Mercy Beat's debut album will be available later this June.

Sergiosdead, the production name alias of NYC's Sergio delivered his forth instrumental release that has the East and West coast jumping, with WATER. Welcoming Spring 2014 with delicately constructed tracks that breathe and swell as they shake off the leftover ice from Winter. In addition to these productions, sergio has been behind the scenes working on new releases for Chicago's TINK, NY's Perrion, Dominic Lord, and Black Dave, Texas-bred Western Tink, and West Coast MC's Lil B, DaVinci, and Sk'LaFlare.

The Water EP finds Sergio dabbling in the elements that mix drops of “Water” in an intro that pours in some “Blood”, that rips vocal edits into a viscous mixture of life. The producer's work for many of today's up and coming emcees can be heard on the piano and warped blend leads on the sparse but effective minimalist cut, “Grizzly”, as “Kelly” cuts into those cumulus high raised cloud beat vapors of eternal dreams. That sea to shining sea shine keeps on bumping with, “Oh”, as “86” unites all the underground cliques that are moving out of the hunger pangs and games into the next level of new platforms, and head spaces. Your boy Sergio leaves you with the faucet leak outro of “Water”, bringing the splash of aquarian elementals full circle.

We had an opportunity to talk with the rising producer, Sergio Otaegui, aka sergioisdead about his new EP and collaborative resume.

What first lead you to the production game?

I had been playing in a band but decided to go in a different direction and take a few years to finish school. I didn't want to stop making music, so I downloaded a few production software programs and started learning them. Rap was always my favorite genre, but my early attempts at making beats weren't so successful, because hardware was still kind of prominent when I was 15 (these machines were tricky). I found using software programs a lot faster and easier for what I wanted to do and just kept at it. It's still a learning process everyday.

How did you get involved in the extended families of making music with folks like, Chicago's TINK, NY's Perrion, Dominic Lord, and Black Dave, Texas-bred Western Tink, and West Coast MC's Lil B, DaVinci, Sk'LaFlare, etc?

Pretty much everything has spurred from twitter. That's how I first met Lil B and getting credits with him gave me a 'resume' of sorts when talking to other artists. I just keep my ears open and when I hear an upcoming rapper/singer with something special, I'll reach out immediately. They also come to me in pretty much the same fashion and it's been snowballing thankfully.

What is different for you in your approach and creative process from working on solo stuff versus the more collaborative items with other folks?

The main difference is leaving the track 'incomplete' when making music for artists, which is the most difficult part for me, because I come from a background of singing and writing fully finished songs. My ears always want to completely finish the track, but you need to intentionally leave it unfinished so that the artist can find their place. Anything that has too many vocal samples, already feels complete, or is just at a strange tempo, etc, I leave for my own solo releases. I never think about it while making the music though. I just go with what feels right and then decide where it should go when I'm done.

Tell us about the new-ambient elements you evoke on the Water EP.

Everything on Water was made over two weeks in January before I took a trip to Peru for awhile. It was just freezing cold and I was spending a ton of time indoors at night. I think that kind of environment led to making stuff that felt a little warmer and cozier. When it comes to the instrumental releases, I just want them to be the kind of tracks that people can sit with on a commute, walk, or whatever and feel like they're being wrapped in a blanket by the music.

What else are you working on at this moment?

Currently working steadily with all the artists you mentioned above (Tink, Perrion, DaVinci, etc). It was a great start to the year getting a few stars in Rolling Stone for the work I did on Lil B's “05 Fuck Em.” That actually led to my biggest collab yet, which has been going down behind the scenes for a few months. I'm excited about that and am just going at it daily. Some producers have a goal of 5 beats a day or whatever, but that just doesn't work for me. I prefer spending two weeks on a batch of 5 or so tracks, just sitting with them, and not rushing. Then after that period, I'll pass those to who they were intended for and move on to a new batch. I also really key in on the specific artist I'm making something for. I try to learn about them and give them something that aids in defining them or taking them someplace new.

Is there a sergioisdead album in the works?

I have another instrumental album pretty much done, titled, etc, but I think I'm going to hold it for a minute and maybe add more to it. I have a remix album all set, which is really just a collection of all the remixes I've done across my albums and ones I've dropped as random singles. I figured I'd make it easy for them and put them all in one place. Both of those should be coming out within the next month+.

What are you listening to in your free time?

About a year ago I got a Spotify membership and it changed my life. As always, I've been listening to a ton of D'Angelo and Prince. Been also really digging Sampha. As far as rap, I'm really into the new records from YG, Schoolboy Q, Ty Dolla Sign, and Rich Homie Quan.

Latest words from NYC scenes?

It's really not that expensive to live here.

Sergio's Water EP is available now via Bandcamp.

Oakland's What Fun Life Was Releasing their three song majesty EP, titled Stumbling Towards Purgatory, that contain some of the dreamiest Bay Area guitars, next to A Million Billion Dying Suns (of whom WFLW has played with before). Frontman Doc translates some of the bleakest deep ends that sink miles of misgivings into some of the poppiest gaze-guitars that burst to the ground above from subterranean cave wind-tunnel tombs. The big news is their upcoming performance at San Francisco's El Rio Thursday, April 30 where WFLW will join up with our friends Future Twin and The Spyrals for the event, “Experience Chillality“, outlined in further detail here. Future Twin also will be debuting their new single “Chillality” that Jean says is, “it's like reality but more relaxed”, available at stateside independent record stores April 29 via Sassafras distribution.

(“Experience Chillality”, poster courtesy of The Spyrals' Scott Rogers)

Returning to What Fun Life Was' Stumbling Towards Purgatory EP; the three song offering deals with indie dream guitar pop maximalism in a minimal portion. Consider the the lazy day step-mom-suburbia garage chord grinding on “Ritual Desecration” that becomes one of the most jaw dropping declarative statement on sonic achievement. While you begin to make sense and digest the the big opener, “Unyielding Abyssic Hatespawn” is one of the most blistering and blissful orchestration of chord shred-fest that unites together all the sneaker-staring, garage power pop obsessing, and grunge sympathizers of the world. Keeping the titles and themes heavy and the songs other-wordly — “The All-Consuming & Ever-Expanding Void” is the nearly seven minute outro that sends you into the possible redemptive paths of personal paradise.

After long last, we finally got a chance to catch up with WFLW's mastermind, Doc:

As an Oakland based artist, it seems like you guys have some of the Bay's heavy weights that are done with whatever-the-hell-has-been-happening with this tech-takeover of SF, and are making it happen East Bay wise. What's your report from the from the Oakland section in terms of scene, and some of your favorite artists over there?

To be honest, I'm not terribly involved in the scene. I spend most of my time either hanging out with my roommates, my girlfriend or by myself listening to music or watching Trailer Park Boys. That being said, Fronds is a really good indie pop band, which recently has featured Dylan of the Spyrals.

Sad Bitch is one of the better twee bands I've heard recently. Their singer reads all of his lyrics off of saved text messages at shows and it totally works to the benefit of the performance. Apparently, they're all unsent drunk texts. I remember the first time I saw them, somebody was projecting an image of a girl on the wall, which I found out later was saved skype footage of said girl blackout drunk after just having broken up with a longterm boyfriend, so the juxtaposition was AMAZING. (Full disclosure: I used to work with their singer, but I'm also into what they are doing)

Twin Steps is another pretty awesome band from the area. Super catchy kinda off-kilter pop, almost like a more reined in Deerhoof, in terms of the music and production.

We Are The Men are a rad kinda proggy garage band. Their drummer Danny works with me and lives down the street from me. That band is amazing live because their voices blend really nicely together and they all SHRED.

There's also Nervous, who kinda remind of some of Rob Crow's earlier bands like Heavy Vegetable or Thingy, but with a clearer punk influence, at least in terms of song-structure.

It is nuts how those who have remained in the SF scene have kept in real, such as Future Twin, The Spyrals, CCR Headcleaner, those dudes from Scraper, etc. What are your thoughts on where you see the SF indie scenes evolving in the coming months, and years?

SF Weekly did an article on this recently. It was the cover where there's a bunch of gear set up with no musicians and they list off all the bands that have left the city. The author was mainly citing the latest tech bubble as the cause if I remember right. The interesting thing about that argument is that there have been several waves of gentrification in San Francisco over the past few decades that have pushed out those who are unable to afford the ever-rising rent, which happens to include a lot of artists or otherwise creatively inclined people, but the city has managed to maintain its status as a major hub of art and culture. With this most recent tech boom it seems like it has pretty thoroughly taken San Francisco off the map for anyone without either a six-figure income or friends with rent control and an open room. How long that will last I honestly don't know because I've only been here for a few years, so I can't compare the Google bubble to the dot-com bubble of the '90s or anything before, but if this is
a lasting trend, I will be very sad to see SF turn into a playground for Lord Google and its minions at the expense of its more eccentric or artistic communities. That being said it seems like the remaining active musicians, artists, etc. are digging in as hard as they can. So I guess my outlook for the long term is fairly bleak, but I don't really feel aware enough of the complete history of the city and its history of gentrification and how that factors into our current situation to feel completely confident in that answer.

As for the short term, I like what's been happening with the relatively recent resurgence of psych and shoegaze, and it seems like that's gonna be a thing for a while longer, so I'm just trying to focus on the positive.

Okay, so take us down the road to forming What Fun Life Was. How did this drone-y, dreamy, guitar grinding band come to be?

I had those songs on the tape written for about 6 months before we started recording. Andy had wanted a lemon of an amp that I had been meaning to fix and sell forever, and offered to trade recording a couple songs for the amp. What was supposed to be 2 days of recording and mixing turned into about 16 days worth of work spread out over 5 months. Andy was and has continued to be extremely generous with his time and effort in making these records with me, as have Max Senna, Justin Divver, Manny Mireles, and Jon Yu who play in the various live incarnations of the band.

Was there an intent to take our souls with Stumbling Towards Purgatory? What was recording like with at Secret Bathroom with Andy Oswald?

Ha ha, no I'm a fairly hardened atheist so I wouldn't know what to do with souls. Recording with Andy consisted mostly of us drinking at Secret Bathroom on our day off and talking about how Yank Crime is the greatest record ever and how we wish we could do that but writing that level of guitar interplay into already dense composition is beyond us so we just focused on atmosphere and made a shoegazey rock record instead.

“Ritual Desecration” is one of those that almost comes out of nowhere, where bedroom chords get hit with that big pedal connection and then everything goes flying overhead. What was the ritual behind writing and arranging this beast?

That's funny you mention the bedroom because most of these songs were at least partially written in my bedroom. I had a very specific idea in terms of making a huge dynamic shift between verse and chorus and then having the full sonic payoff happen in the ending section, but the final execution far exceeded my expectations. Each of these songs existed in my head and was demoed before I went in to record with Andy, which basically consisted of me playing everything (very sloppy drums). The idea being when he hit the red button I would know exactly how each part was fitting into the piece as a whole. He records music for a living so I wanted to be as professional as possible and not waste his time trying out chord voicings, fingerings, different fills etc. Tracking only took a couple days, but we spent a lot of time experimenting with different pedals and plugins until we came out with something that was better than, I think, what the both of us were shooting for.

I love how on songs like “Unyielding Abyssic Hatespawn”, the pit and anger is present but then forever falls down sonic sections that would make Rollerskate Skinny's Jimi Shields (Kevin's real life lil bro) weep. How do you somehow satisfy this bridge of plunging into the depths of unhinged emotions by sending the listener into heights of heaven?

Wow, that's a lot of very nice things to say, so thank you! I'm glad my ladyfriend isn't awake to make fun of me for blushing. That song is actually mostly just about my own disdain for suburban teen angst. Probably a bit of just-beneath-the-surface shame and self-loathing there, but maybe subconsciously that's why I put guitar-monies in the bridge: to distract from that. So yeah, uh, Thin Lizzy rules….

And similarly, “The All-Consuming & Ever-Expanding Void” exists as this gentle ode. How do you describe the void in gorgeous terms of expression?

When I was little I used to try and imagine what it was like to be dead when I couldn't sleep, like I think a lot of people do. I think of the state of death as non-existence, something I always found simultaneously comforting and terrifying. The thought of just not being, no stimuli, no thoughts, no you, just nothing in its purest form is very humbling and in that way comforting, but at the same time, I have a vital need to stay alive as does every living thing on the planet so it's not like I'm just gonna off myself because non-existence is logically easier. That duality exists on a larger scale as well. The universe is all-consuming and ever-expanding in its own right, but consuming what and expanding into what? Void? Negative space? What happens if whatever the universe is expanding into pushes back? There's likely a variety of theories, I don't know, it's late and I'm lazy, a few of which are probably valid, most of which are probably the product of crackpot armchair philosophers (like this one), but at the end of the day we don't really know because even if we did send a probe to the outer reaches of space and provided it did reach its destination intact, by the time the data got back to the Earth, it will have been looooooooooooooooooong ago swallowed by the sun (which is I think supposed to happen in 10,000 years?) and the way humans treat each other, who knows if we would even make it that long as a species. And so, I make songs, because when I try and articulate these types of thoughts I sound like a rambling idiot, but when I try and express them through a different medium, in this case rock music, it's easier for me to convey the cosmic beauty and horror that I find in vast stretches of interstellar nothingness.

What else are you all working on next?

Andy and I are finishing up some new recordings for whatfunlifewas which will consist of 4 new songs and re-recordings of at least 2 of the songs on the tape.
Andy has had some songs for an Unwound/Drive Like Jehu band for a while that have kind of taken a backseat for a moment because everybody's busy. He and Max are also both active engineers at Secret Bathroom in addition to their day/night jobs as sound guys at various spots around the East Bay.

What are you all listening to these days?

I think we're all pretty all over the place. Justin and I are both really into some of the death metal and thrash bands coming out of Norway and Sweden such as Morbus Chron, Nekromantheon, Deathhammer, Obliteration, Reveal, Invidious, etc. as well as some electronic stuff, whether it's ambient or house or minimal techno, or poppier fare like Black Marble or that last Belong record, Common Era.

Andy and I are friends because we both love 90's Gravity Records style punk and hardcore as much as we love shoegaze as much as we love Can and Neu! as much as we love Christian Death.
Max listens to Unwound and Blink 182. His love is honest as it is pure and I have nothing but respect for him.
The past couple weeks I've been catching up on 2013 releases and prepping for records yet to be or recently released, and also the Wipers, which looks like this:

Swans, Cop
Wipers, Is This Real?
Teitanblood, Seven Challices
Set, Upheaval of Unholy Darkness
The Mallard, Finding Deference in Meaning

The What Fun Life Was EP, Stumbling Towards Purgatory is available now via Bandcamp.

(Little Racer, phographed by Abigail Smithson)

Brooklyn's Little Racer are playing Pianos tonight in NYC, who share a listen to their new Modern Accent EP available now from PaperCup Music. The carefree playfulness of yesterday's indie parties, and the bold festival hall love song of great salutation and abundant adoration ring with crisp guitar on, “Vanessa”, as “Punk Life” keeps the pacing really cool, keeps the treble high, and the tones stay twisted up in taut knots.

La Peste's lost punk classic “Better Off Dead” single has been re-issued from the cool-school purveyors of all things indie, Wharf Cat Records. The Boston band saw the single first released as a 7″ in 1978, where things were taking pointed turns in the East Coast DIY sectors, taking aim at the no-wave celebration of genre confusions and aggressive dystopias that would soon define the hardcore ethics and attitudes.

With an album that features collaborations from Common, De La Soul's Posdnuos, T3 of Slum Village, Guilty Simpson, Talib Kweli, J. Rocc, and more; get a look at the video for The Yancey Boys' “Lovin' U” that features Eric Roberson and production from the legendary J. Dilla, off Delicous Vinyl release, Sunset Blvd.

The combined talents of Butch Vig, Phil Davis, Frank Anderson, and Pete Anderson make up The Emperors of Wyoming, and we have their old-timey western video for “Avalanche Girl”, courtesy of Liaison Music.

Blanco, The Jacka & Messy Marv dropped their One Hunnid EP that boasts some of that production by Tha Bizness, featuring appearances from none other than, YG, Nipsey Hussle, Freeway, Mistah F.A.B. and Trae the Truth. Trademarking their Guerilla Entertainment imprint, this is how that new Bay Area school gets down, with some radical approaches to that o.g. political discourse. Get yours from iTunes, Audio Mack, or kick back and just listen right now.

Gambles dropped the video for, “You Won't Remind It”, made with Joe Wehner with the upcoming I Can't Keep Still When It Comes To You EP available April 28. Find Gambles on his world tour running through May 17.

A-Plus from the Hieroglyphics, Souls of Mischief, and C7 crews dropped the freebie, Legrowlize It! Vol. II instrumental album that follows up the first volume with cuts ripped straight from the East Bay vaults, made on an ASX-Pro.

LA's Low Leaf sends some freedom in a song like a flock of uncaged doves with, “Set Me Free”, off the album AKASHAALAY, available April 29 from Fresh Selects. Pianos and electro vibes rattle and stir the mind to new places and heights.

Samuel L Cool J lends a listen to his hot new single, “Slip and Slide” off the split 7″ available at the release show Saturday, April 26 at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix, AZ via Common Wall Media.

From Chi-town, Verma displace the holographic pop audio images of, “Hologrammer”, off the upcoming album, Sunrunner, available May 27 from Trouble In Mind Records.

Touring now through May 20, PAWS dropped “Owls Talons Clenching My Heart” that jangles some pop-scuzz into your heart from their forthcoming album, Youth Culture Forever, available May 6 from FatCat.

Releasing Doom Abuse for SQE Music, prepare thy self to do battles with the, “Evil Voices” on the seizure switch flipping video from Nik Fackler.

Eric Littmann is Brooklyn's Steve Sobs, who writes songs that come straight from the inside of the heart's most precious chambers. Providing a listen to the familiar frustrations on, “Ugh”, from his May 13 slated album, Heavy Heart for Waaga Records; Eric brings the flood of feelings one receives upon visiting old stomping grounds, making those circular rounds, wondering why you returned while remaining wistful at the same time.

Kitsuné promotes more of their stateside roster with the upcoming AMERICA 3 compilation available June 2, and you can check out a new track from NAVVI off the disc called, “Speak”. The Seattle duo of Kristin Henry on vocals and Brad Boettger at the controls, sets some of the greatest sleepless in the Northwest moods, that reminds us why we love so much about what this corner North America has been doing for promoting their communities, and promoting synth indie pop with a real human soul.

From the epic Monotonix, Yonatan Gat gathers the running marathon of drums and vintage electric instrumentation on the trip inducing, “Bordeo”, off the upcoming Iberian Passage EP available May 27 from Joyful Noise. The clever arrangement that Yonatan works out here is a stewing, and whirling blend of unexpected turns of sections that begin, enter, and interrupt on a clockwork timing that belongs to the great Gat himself. A journey of legendar proportions, from glimmers seen in his blazzing-fields-of-blizzards guitar work in those legendary, and notorious shows from recent years.

Wtih “Chalon” still fresh and repeating in our minds, D.C.'s new duo Brett sent over the 'cease the night' sentiments of “Golden”, off their self-titled available May 20 on Cascine. The “hey do you want to get high” disregards what ever is to arise the morning after, no matter what is schedule for that split-second decision of indulgence that takes the night to the gold adorned palaces and echelons of unyielding and infinite entertainment and delight. Read Brett's interview feature here.

Get spirited away with Tim Barr's project Silverbird, as you follow the flight of, “With The Spirits”, off the upcoming album, Surface Life available May 27.

Tearjerker sent along some gorgeous textures and sewn on guitar-lead sentiments of happy tears on the single, “You Can”, off their Hiding EP available May 20 from SQE Music.

Futurecop! sent some of that soft-synth-pop-look with, “Eyes (feat. Lyon)”, off Fairytales of Summer Shoegazers available this summer.

In a Arabella Anderson directed video for A Naughty Ghost Production, ghost up, get weird in town, and “Get Lost” with L.A. Witch, from their debut self-titled EP from Manimal. Lose yourself in the filters and frames that turn Los Angeles into a washed out, faded, and alternate warp zone.

Playing the Great Escape Festival May 8-9 in Brighton, UK and playing with Spoon and Mac Demarco at NXNE; Alvvays has just signed to Polyvinyl Records, dropping the track “Archie, Marry Me” off their debut album available later this year, produced by Chad VanGaalen. Going steady never sounded this appealing or enticing.

ShayGray, Los Angeles by Tel Aviv, have signed to Dim Mak Records, and raise a post-pesach goblet on the totally meshuggah, “Mazal Tov”. Their Hipster Hype EP drops May 20.

Topshelf Records has $5 downloads of Frameworks' thrash and basher, Loom, on Bandcamp through May 5, and a get a listen right here.

With direction from APJ Films, get a look at Chi-town's ProbCause in the video for, “Chicago Style.”

The Darcys talked to us the other week, and recently dropped the Grandson & Son animated video for “Hunting”, sending word that “Hymn for A Missing Girl” is set for release April 29.

Popstrangers dropped their gorgeous and comforting single, “Don’t Be Afraid”, off the forthcoming album, Fortuna available May 27 from Carpark Records.

Miniature Tigers will release their newest album, Cruel Runnings June 17, and drop the lyric-Lego video for the decked out number, “Oblivious”.

Cheerleader delivers in the “I wanna feel alright” values, as heard in the pop overdrive from their A-side off the Perfect Vision / Waiting, Waiting single available in the UK on June 16 from Young & Lost / Bright Antenna.

Ben Frost gifted us all with a listen to his mighty, nearly seven minutes of blistering bliss with, “Nolan”, off the upcoming album, A U R O R A, available from Mute on May 27.

Check out the DJ Premier remix of the D.I.T.C. cut, “Diggin' In The Crates”, featuring Diamond D, Showbiz, A.G. and Lord Finesse. The Remix Project will be available May 7 from D.I.T.C. Entertainment / Slice of Spice.

Kasket drops the Wild Stag Studio shadow puppets courtesy of Georgia Hamilton, for their electro-brewer, “Where Is Alice”, off the EP of the same name from Apollo Records.

tUnE-yArDs' released a really fun, wacked out and wild like a Saturday morning special on the Joel Kefali video for, “Water Fountain”, off Merrill and Nate's upcoming album, Nikki Nack for 4AD.

Boston's 14 strong, Tredici Bacci is fronted by Guerilla Toss's Simon Hanes, releasing their debut cassette, The Thirteen Kisses Cassetta available now from NNA Tapes. The strings and horns evokes the greatest soundtracks and scores that bend beyond the chamber-fare for the epicurean shine and shout of foreign films flickering late nights on the tele.

In more NNA Tapes news; take the following three friends, Travis Laplante of Little Women, and Battle Trance, Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, John Zorn, and Ches Smith of Marc Ribot, Secret Chiefs 3, and Fred Frith, and you have Laplante / Dunn / Smith who just released Ancestral Instrument from the esteemed label. With a listen to the A-side “Look Behind You”, full of subtle, insightful, jazzed-out minimalist atmospheres, and hit up NNA Tapes now for a variety of spring sale offerings.

You are not going to believe some of the latest sound developments happening with Bad Cello. Check out what frontman Zeno Pitarelli has concocted with his large sound on, “Cover Your Smiling“, off Interesting Selection: Volume 1. Recorded at Big Blue North / Big Blue Meenie by Jeff Aderman, Tim Gilles, Matt Messenger, Matt Dake, Richie Kennon and Chris Marinaccio; “Cover” brings some of the Zeno's largest sentiments to the largest audio pedestals and platforms ever heard. The grandiose presentation and production of “Cover” is the summation of the greatest power-anthem-fist pumpers around that sends all the energy up to a levitating ground. Modern, classic, future songwriting tricks, just smart design all around. Unbreakable in the tradition of what fine crafted pop can be.

Zeno wrote us the following insightful piece on this new single, upcoming recordings, and sends our week out on a high note.

“Cover Your Smiling” is a tune that I've had sitting around for a while now. I demoed it over a year ago but wasn't really happy with the arrangement. About a month ago the folks at Big Blue North Recording Studio (in Utica, NY) reached out and asked if I would want to record a track for a compilation they were putting together. I was in the studio for 2 days. Having a limited amount of time to record was refreshing — I usually get caught up in the endless revising and second-guessing that comes with recording at home. I'm excited about this summer. I have a new EP coming out through Miscreant Records in a few months. I'm also playing a handful of NYC shows in May and June, and soon I'll hopefully start recording a full length.”

May
03 Silent Barn, Brooklyn with Swearin', LVL UP, Radiator Hospital, whatever dad (Miscreant 50th Issue party!)
09 MOEFEST @ SUNY Binghamton w/ Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
24 Cake Shop, NYC with HAPS + Camper (headlining! + full band!)

June
05 Radio Bushwick, Brooklyn with Sean McVerry, Radial, Madeline Twinkle

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