Pushing forth the headliners of today and tomorrow, Impose’s Week in Pop presents the next episodes of entertainment with some of the biggest breaking stories. First up: Lil B’s life was saved by heroic neighbor Mateo Ysmael in escaping a 2-alarm fire; Burial released the new single “Temple Sleeper“; Aphex Twin dropped the alt mix of “Diskhat ALL Prepared1mixed [snr2mix]“; Killer Mike wrote a Martin Luther King Jr. Day op-ed; Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick announced the forthcoming new album, What For?, Jack White gets his own baseball card; Disclosure and AlunaGeorge versus Katie Farrah Sopher; Peter Doherty’s Amy Winehouse tribute; and we mourn the loss of A$AP Yams, and Negativland’s Ian Allen.
As the universe turns forward, we present exclusives and interviews from Dark Colour, Bent Denim, Howth, Soul Glimpse, Zach Schimpf, Zoë Kiefl, Old, Brian Bonz, Red Vienna, Turtle Giant, co-curated by Florist, and more — in no particular order.
Meet Montréal, Québec by NYC’s rising international star, Zoë Kiefl who follows up 2013’s Good Faith album with the forthcoming album Young Mom, available January 27 from We Were Never Being Boring. Premiering the video for her cover of Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By”, Zoë’s home made minimalism is combined with video direction from Francisco Martins Fontes, and freestyling footwork from Nicole Della Costa who joins Kiefl in matched and mirrored steps.
With the video edited by the artist herself, Zoë Kiefl and dance partner Nicole Della Costa break out of the silhouetted shadows in multiple frames and frame rate motions to match the sparse, specter-haunted rendition of “Walk On By” that presents the dance motions as wayward spirits passing one another like ghost ships in the night. As Zoë’s natural delivery is treated with echo, the synths twinkle and sparkle like the visuals of cosmic confetti intermixed between the dance-off of synchronized body gestures; wrapped in the synthetic and analog haze of glistening and glimmering combinations of keys. Spirits of couples and wallflowers alike are summoned together for a sultry slow dance set for underground dance goth parties, or enjoyed during clandestine trysts between a pair of secret lovers. Zoë joins us for an interview, after the following video premiere of “Walk On By”:
Tell us about making the video with Francisco Martins Fontes, and choreographing dance moves with Nicole Della Costa.
We shot the video in New York City, where I met Nicole Lopez through mutual friends. Francisco Martins Fontes created beautiful lighting and set up the shot. I brought a music playlist of surf rock, dancehall and 60s soul music and we did some freestyle dancing on the spot. I would follow Nicole’s moves, she would follow mine. Nicole is Brazilian so she’s got nice sexy moves. With little to no editing, the fluidity of the dance moves fit really nicely over the track. The song is about heartache and losing strength but my spin on it is just dance it off and be fabulous.
How did you go about covering and updating the Dionne Warwick classic into an electro, haunting track?
“Walk on By” by Dionne Warwick is a classic that I grew up listening to and the honesty and simplicity of the lyrics stuck to me. It’s one of those songs that for many years, has kept getting stuck in my head. In Slick Rick’s “Mona Lisa”, he briefly samples the melody and sings a verse of it, so that also reinforced my love for the track cause Slick Rick is real cool.
Tell us about other recordings and releases in the works.
My rendition of the track is more melancholic. I think Dionne’s voice is strong and poised whereas mine is more exasperated and desperate. I wanted the track to be danceable despite its sadness so I went for an Italo-Disco vibe. My boyfriend made a good comparison of my cover to the Ciccone Youth cover of Madonna’s “Into the Groove”. I think both covers are taking a polished off original and making it more crude.
The latest from Montréal, Québec?
My album Young Mom is being released on January 27! I named it after I found a really great photo of my mom in 1986, standing up against a wall, next to a framed baby picture. It was like foreshadowing because she was only 15 then and got pregnant only two years later. The album is a compilation of tracks that I completed while staying in New York these past months. My inspiration drew from cinematography and film scores, dance music, nostalgia and psychedelia. Other than that, I’ve been recording my new band Dizzyride and that will debut soon.
It seems like Montréal is always the epicenter of indie pop cultural creativity, how do you find the scenes inform your own senses of aesthetics and styles?
As for Montréal, Québec, where I am from, I miss it dearly and will be returning soon!
There are great things happening there musically. From The Marlees, Baked Goods, Gashrat, Dream Boy, She-Devils to Jef Barbara… Every night a show to go see for about 5$ and a really great supportive energy for all arts in general. I played my first shows in after hour venues which are always opening up, closing and moving around. Seeing as the cost of living is so fair in Montréal, I think people have more time and energy to go out often, stay late and fully enjoy themselves. Having had the opportunity to see so many bands at different levels of expertise play live and hang out with musicians has certainly inspired me to do my thing as well. The music scene there is very eclectic and every sound is appreciated as long as the performers are not total assholes.
Zoë Kiefl’s album, Young Mom will be available January 27 from We Were Never Being Boring.
Cincinnati’s dark prince of electronic adventurism Dark Colour returns with world premiere of the mind and step illuminating single single, “In My Mind”. The latest listen since the release of the album, Prisoner finds frontman Randall Rigdon expanding his vocal, keys and production operations to include guitarist Coleman Williams, bassist Sean Kelley, and drummer Joesph Sparough to create greater, and more elaborate additions to Rigdon’s original vision and early initial audio blueprints. We discussed Prisoner‘s worlds of isolation and ambition with Randall in an interview feature a while back, and now the we present the first listen from the forthcoming album, Animal.
Fresh out of the studio, “In My Mind” greets you with those familiar Dark Colour alliterative keys that press forward an assonance that aspires toward the whole orchestrated ensemble. If Prisoner served as a springboard and illustration of solo artist defining his own sound from the cell of solitude, Dark Colour’s expanded lineup allows the entire song to come to a new breath that gives the entire world a slice of Randall’s mind through lyrical dialogues, musings on certain times, and moments dressed in the most elaborate audio colors and highest of definitions. The heart beat from the drum machines meets Joseph’s live rhythmic contributions, further given character by Sean’s bass work, with Coleman’s guitar work painting the cave wall aural canvas in primitive but refined chords. Randall joins us for another interview round, right after the following the debut of, “In My Mind”.
Since we last spoke, what’s been shaking about the Cincinnati scenes?
I think actually Dark Colour was still a solo project when we last spoke and we hadn’t even played out yet. Now Dark Colour is a full band with me, Sean, Joseph and Coleman and we’re about to play our city’s end of the year awards on Sunday. Its amazing to give back and put on a big show for the city that’s pushed us so much forward this past year. The other night actually I saw a brass funk show and then walked over to a electropunk DJ show, while my bandmates saw dance rock friends Fluffer up in Northside. I think Cincinnati has a really evolved art scene going right now, it’s really embracing the full spectrum.
You have been making music with former members of The Pomegranates, how did this collaborative partnership come about?
I actually met Jacob Merrit from The Pomegranates after we opened for Bad Veins earlier in the year. He came up to me after the show and told me he really connected with what he saw. We started discussing music and our personal philosophies and instantly became good friends. Jacob’s been an amazing support ever since, hooking us up with many opportunities and shows and giving us lots of insight along the way. In a lot ways he’s been our mentor, going into Sabbath Recording and doing these new songs with him and Isaac Karns was as natural as could be. We found a lot of common ground and really understood and got to know each other in ways we didn’t before. It really couldn’t have gone any smoother.
Describe the making of the super sleek “In My Mind”, and how the mental vision translated to audio for you.
It was pretty impulsive — I wrote the whole thing in one sitting. I had a lot of things on my mind at that time, and sort of just spontaneously cooked up the keys and the beat and then poured my soul into it. Honestly the vocal track is pretty impromptu, I did several takes of improv and now its just cut down to its catchiest layers. I think because of its enormous amount of space we were all just able to really feel it out and let each of our contributions flow right into their needed places. It really was one of the smoothest songs in terms of writing, recording, and performing and I think that’s really reflected in the feel of the song.
The other track “Animal” has a real energy all of its own… What sorts of animal instincts and the like inspired this one?
I think it stems from the overarching narrative of transformation that we aim to tell with Dark Colour. From Prisoner we now have Animal. While last release Prisoner was about rejecting social constructs (the games) to achieve a natural state of being, Animal is about the deconstruction that comes from being within this natural state. In exploration of this realm we may find ourselves feeling as though we’re simply animals entirely removed of socialization, which I think is a space we all tend to land on at some point. We really wanted to embrace that stage of the transformative process and its universality by writing music with a raw, animalistic energy. “Animal” was really the first song we aspired for with that message in mind and it was weird how intuitively the song captured an animal spirit leading us to appropriately name it as so.
How do you feel your own work has grown since the making of Prisoner?
Playing live regularly and composing for a recent video game project has really influenced me a lot in terms of my writing and production. I was thinking the other day that a good artist finds their sound and then finds ways to constantly subvert and challenge it while retaining a familiarity. I really think Prisoner and playing it live established what the Dark Colour sound should be and now its all about finding ways of exploring that sound in exciting and unexpected ways. The next work will have continue to have our sound but with many surprises, perhaps in part from what I’ve learned writing for video games and in having to react on the fly when performing onstage, in addition to the new minds contributing together as a band.
You’re always listening to some rad new upstarts, what sorts of indie Ohio and elsewhere artists do you think deserve more attention?
I’ve been doing work for a local band called Multimagic, we’re going to do shows with them in the next months, maybe even do a mini-tour. They do really catchy stuff. I’m also fan of their guitarist’s band Young Colt, who we’ve also done a few shows with. I mentioned Fluffer before, they’re our good friends. The Saudades are our enormously talented friends too, I’m surprised by their shows — in part because they’re so different every time. We also played with this guy Classy Mongrel a few months back down in western Kentucky — was surprised by his unique sound, highly recommend him.
And lastly, what else can you tell us about the next Dark Colour release?
We’re currently honing in an enormous amount of material, as of right now I have about 30 potential tracks for release. We’re likely going to send out a promo EP release very soon in promotion for the next potential full release. The songs we have right now I’ve never been more excited about. The new singles are barely a taste of the wild, intricate of layers of sound we’ve been crafting meticulously. We really want to nail that perfect progression of sound, not being too far removed from what makes us us. We certainly have more live instrumentation as a band now, but we still look for that balance of live sound meeting electronic production while still continuing to explore the multiple realms of sounds and tones that exist within the electronic music medium. Additionally, we want to explore further the concept of role of the human animal, in what will be the next chapter in our narrative of reaching one’s ultimate state of being.
Animal will be available available soon, with the single “In My Mind” available now on iTunes. Listen to more from Dark Colour via Bandcamp.
One of our heroes Kitty [née Pryde] gets covered by Bent Denim’s Ben Littlejohn and Dennis Sager in our premiere of the duo’s rendering of “smiledog.jpg”. The Dallax by Nashville duo rocked our hearts and emotions with their Epistolar EP, and have joined us for various conversations, and more, are now about release their EP of covers titled, Derivative Works, available January 27.
Bent Denim’s style of personal confessions, patchwork quilt narratives, emotional exercises of earnest recollection, and other perks of unsolicited honesty match Kitty’s “smiledog.jpg” like a warm pair of flannel pajamas fresh out of the dryer. Having covered the ground from Angel Olsen’s “Unf*cktheworld” to finding a reflective sadness within a rendering of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”; Ben and Dennis take on the queen with the Ringpop by adapting the URL wordsmith superstar’s statement of self and creative genius into a lo-fi bedroom recording. The tin-can-telephone Bent Denim style connects the call for keeping it real, humble, and full of heart while shooting to the top, even if ascension for the stars was never originally planned. The listener is reminded of the brilliance of Kitty’s original, while Bent Denim prove that nearly every song can become a personal folk poem at the very core.
Ben shared the following insights about the making of Derivative Works
The EP was kinda an Adderall induced fever dream. I made a Google document and made Connor & Dennis contributors on it. We all made goofy lists with way too many ironic covers on it. I charted a few of them out and tracked scratch tracks. I sent a zip of all the scratches for my brother Chris (who plays drums for us) to record to. He definitely didn’t listen to the songs before recording the drums which yielded some very interesting results. from there I tracked all the instruments and some vocals then sent them to Dennis for the rest of the vocals & backing vocals. I got a new keyboard and it’s all over the songs almost to a fault, but like most vintage synths it has a charming out of tune quality that sweetens a lot of the songs up. It was fun and frustrating trying to make these songs different and still good. I’ve done quite a bit of work making soundalikes for hire and to distance myself from that was really rewarding.
Dennis also lent the following thoughts as well:
I’m a huge fan of Kitty’s voice/words and Beautiful Lou creates this outer space airport bar vibe beat with the vocals set just perfect in the mix. The track is a huge influence on me in so many ways. Anyways the song just kinda happened, sat around for a bit, then Ben added his magic and some sick doomsday keyboard.
We both grew up being taught how to play covers on the guitar. Playing someone else’s song is super natural. You only write better songs by learning ones written by those who came before you.
Bent Denim’s Derivative Works EP will be available January 27, via Bandcamp.
Soul Glimpse’s Austyn Sullivan has been putting out a plethora of sounds in the past few years, ranging from The Realms Beyond You & I to the recent, A Lifeless Christmas in Reverse, to the glorious, world premiere of the ethereal, “A Seed Was I?”. The Louisiana by Baltimore artist takes thoughts on the kernels of origins, and transforms thoughts of beginnings, epistemologies of being, and surrounding connotative concepts into a lush sound scheme of all encompassing atmospheres. Like being caught in the clearest fog ever known; Sullivan creates a rare opportunity for the listener to observe their own mind’s expansion into a odyssey of introspection and enlightenment made to create a unique, personal experience for all willing to take the trip.
Austyn hinges the concept of asking the question, “A Seed Was I?” as a way to unlock the sources, sciences, and evolution of every myth that romanticizes the almost arbitrary notion of existence itself. And it is precisely this inquiry where the sound is born, where the cosmos can be heard in the ambient spaces that surround the entire song, to a far away mystique stirred by the soul-gazing guitars, propelled by live, fervent rhythms, buzz-saw/dream-waking guitars, and more that bury Sullivan’s voice somewhere in an avalanche of infinite wonders recovered from the recesses of consciousness. Austyn joins us for a discussion, immediately following this debut.
Tell us about the title track, and album of the same name that is built around the conceptualization of as you describe, the “subjects of human transformation, ancient questions of our existence and attempting to find a higher realm of thought through music”.
The title track is called “A Seed Was I?”. One day I came to the realization that I was once a seed. I have transformed, as we all do, into this physical body. We’re all in a constant state of transformation mentally, physically and spiritually. All of the lyrics on this album touch on all of the existential questions and ideas I was pondering while creating this album. It all started with me asking myself the question, “a seed was I?”
I am in a constant state of questioning and attempting to understanding this existence. These ancient questions still remain unanswered so I use the act of creating music to guide me through my mental journey. When I’m able to articulate the feeling of complex thoughts through music, it brings me to a meditative realm of consciousness. I hope to share that feeling with other people when they listen to Soul Glimpse.
When did you first begin writing, composing, and recording this album?
I began shaping the ideas and raw content in late 2012. I finally got around to recording it with Mike Franklin at the Hour Haus in Baltimore over the span of a couple months in the Winter of 2013. We finalized everything a couple of months later. I spent a long time on abstract visuals to correlate with the whole album and getting the album art together. Now in 2015, it’s ready for the world to hear.
What prompted the origins of Soul Glimpse?
I was watching this bizarre show called Xavier: Renegade Angel one day and the main character Xavier is sentenced to seven glimpses into his soul. I liked the phrase Soul Glimpse and thought it was an appropriate name for the tone and conceptual idea I had for the music. I wanted there to be a certain emotional intensity, like taking a glimpse into ones soul.
How has your Louisiana by Baltimore move affected your creativity?
It’s interesting being in between them both. Coming from Louisiana, you’re pretty distant from any major cities. There is New Orleans, which is a beautiful and unique city, but there is no major cities in a convenient distance.
Having so many major cities close to Baltimore, it’s had a big influence on my musical horizons. Lots of music comes through and from Baltimore. There’s lot of experimentation happening in Baltimore. It’s a great place to try strange new things. People are pretty open to all things from straight forward genres to bizarre cross hybrids of genres.
Having experienced life in both places, I see there is a major difference in the pace and mentality of the South and the North. I’ve been heavily influenced by my upbringing in the South and the sun soaked nostalgic feelings that will always linger from there. But I’ve also been influenced by these progressive Northern cities. Both have qualities I like and dislike but they have given me an interesting outlook on life and music.
What is the secret in creating these dense textures, and atmospheres, as a method to discover these higher realms of perception and thought in your music?
When I’m creating this material, I focus on textures. I think of each texture as a thought. Our minds are heavily textured and have so many things happening at once. So when Im creating the music, I’m moving through my own thoughts and working my way through them with music.
I believe the energy harnessed and meditated on while creating music really hits us unconsciously. There’s lots of music I emotionally connect with and I know its creator / creators had a specific intention and it translates on a different level. When you can express a certain level of emotional intensity with music, I think it sends us into introspective states. Especially when something is dense and textual.
I think just getting lost in a musical landscape can bring us to a deep state of thought and that’s the kind of atmosphere I try to create. So I guess letting the music engulf you and getting lost in the textures, letting your own emotions really reveal themselves is the “secret”.
Music is a powerful force and I really want to portray a deep intensity with thought provoking content. I don’t see much of that these days with music.
Latest from the Baltimore scenes?
There’s a pretty eclectic scene here. Lots of experimentation and cross hybrids of genres. New bands and solo artists of all genres are always popping up. There are lots of influences from outlining cities. I see the music scene growing more and more, accepting of all genres which is pretty awesome. Usually there are niche’ scenes that only pertain to one genre but I’ve been seeing more and more shows with a pretty diverse musical line up coming into play. So it’s refreshing to see a wide range of people coming together to experience shows. So the “scenes” are supportive and I see a positive future for music in Baltimore. It seems to have been a birthing place for lots of good music and I can only see it continuing to be a great place for new creative music.
Latest happenings back in Louisiana?
Well I’m not so involved in the Louisiana music scene as of now. I guess being far away, I’m not so involved. There are lots of great musicians and bands sticking true to their styles and energies. It’s a unique place and birthing ground for interesting perspectives and extremely talented people.
2015 hopes you care to share?
2015 is an exciting and productive year for music. Up until now, I’ve done everything myself, so my hopes are to find some support for the new Soul Glimpse album. Hopefully a label can help release it? If not, I’ll self-release it and keep on working on new material.
I already have another Soul Glimpse album ready to record but one thing at a time I suppose.
Aside from Soul Glimpse, I do guitar and vocals in a band called Alter. We just recorded and should have our stuff out soon. I drum in an atmospheric black metal outfit called Barbelith. We’ve just released our full length album, Mirror Unveiled. Our vinyl is dropping soon. I’m also drumming in a noise punk band called Alone Time. We’re recording fairly soon.
So my hopes for 2015 is to keep creating music and keep progressing as a musician and an artist and to never restrict myself stylistically. I always want to experiment and keep pushing my horizons to new levels. I think that’s vital as an artist.
Listen to more from Soul Glimpse via Bandcamp.
It has often been said by gurus, oracles, and therapists everywhere that music is one of the greatest catharses that humankind has ever known. Take the case of Denver, Colorado’s Joshua Novak who began Oko Tygra after surviving serious head trauma, where the healing process initiated the projected that would translate experiences of being into new audio lifeforms. With a profound resolve, Oko Tygra took shape in full bloom, and full force, with the forthcoming Glass Jaw/Plasticine 7″ available March 3 from Egghunt Records, and we are proud to present the following listen to the a-side.
“Glass Jaw” beams and slowly burns bright like watching campfire flames wave like orange and yellow silk in slow motion. The courses of life’s fragile realities are examined with keys that adorn electric guitar cadences that counts glass hearts, glass jars, glass stones, glass figures, glass eyes, glass scars, and more. Houses and mansions of glass are observed in a world of care, caution, and a beautiful kind of chaos reign together. The bricks, mortar, and metal of hardened earth become immediately transformed by Joshua Novak’s vision to be the most precious, fragile, and beautiful things in the world to cherish. Joshua joins us after our following debut of “Glass Jaw”.
How did the therapy of starting Oko Tygra revitalize mind, spirit, and body after experiencing physical trauma?
It was immensely important on so many levels. Sometimes life has to throw you off ladders to wake you up a little. Getting comfortable as an artist is incredibly dangerous. You stop saying ‘yes’ as much and you find there are a lot more ‘maybes’. Before the accident, I spent months debating whether or not to proceed with starting OKO TYGRA and to put my solo career on the shelf. Facing death changes you and I woke up and said ‘yes’, and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made as far as music goes. After that, everything started falling into place in ways they never had before. It just sorta clicked.
How did the name come about?
OKO TYGRA translated means, ‘Eye of the Tiger’ in the Czech language. We aren’t Czech, and it’s not a nod to the Survivor song. It was just something that I had tucked away in my brain from years ago when a friend who spoke the language said those words to me while we were working together. I remember thinking they made such an impression on me and that I would find a place for them one day. They were so visual. Like everything else, it hit me and just clicked, and I knew that this is who we were going to be.
Stories from opening for High Ends and performing at the 2014 CMJ showcase?
CMJ was such a mix of extreme highs and lows for us. It was our first time out on the road together, and was a big opportunity for a band who had only been together for seven or eight months at that point. So, we were understandably thrilled. But booking shows is hard and the road is not always kind. Our showcase set in NY was short and at like, 4 in the afternoon, but we made the best of it. Ultimately it helped us realize our strengths and weaknesses and what not to do the next time.
Describe the creation process behind composing the dream weaving textures that abound on the gorgeous Glass Jaw/Plasticine 7″.
Glass Jaw was one of the first songs I had written for Oko Tygra I had made full demo versions of everything on my phone, often plugging synths and guitars directly into my mobile and would start recording. I even used the mic on my headphones to record the vocals. But Neil, Russ, Tyler and I really collaborated on the finished product and we fleshed things out, adding all those delicious textures together. Plasticine was one of those magical moments where we just started playing on a tiny idea I had started in rehearsals, and we wrote this whole new song in two days. It’s the perfect example, so far, of what we are capable of as individuals and who we are as a band. Wilson Helmericks from Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, who helped produce these tracks, also was key in bringing out the lushness we desired. We love what he did with them.
Notes from the latest happenings in Denver?
Denver is currently going through a lot of changes. Some good, some bad. Being a native, it’s hard to sit back and watch all the gentrification taking place. Weed is legal, and rents are going way up, but the music scene is ever growing. Neil and I have been a part of the music scene here for many, many years. It definitely has a way of fostering bands and artists, like ourselves, and we’ve watched several of our peers go on to do marvelous things. Shows and even festivals like our UMS and Titwrench still feel like very personal affairs and not just something that exists on the outside of that experience. There are roots here than run deep, and that influences everything.
Fellow Denver artists that you want to recognize? Feels like there are always so many creative folks around there that are looking, and experiencing sound in different, new sonic ways from my observations.
It’s true. We love so many bands from Denver, namely, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Pale Sun, Shady Elders, Tennis, Male Blonding, The Centennial, Rachael Pollard, Nathaniel Rateliff, Ian Cooke etc. As diverse as the acts here are, we are really one big family. Everyone has made appearances in each others bands and have recorded on each others records. It helps us to be better musicians and strengthens our community that much more.
After the release of Glass Jaw/Plasticine 7″ for Egghunt Records, what’s next for Oko Tygra?
We have a list of goals we wrote out from day one, and we are slowly crossing things off of it. Our sights are set very high and the future really seems limitless. All the things that have happened up to this point are proof of that, and we aren’t taking it for granted. We obviously want to tour a ton and continue to write and focus on our intentionality as a band. We wouldn’t mind playing on David Letterman and Jools Holland’s show, either.
Oko Tygra’s Glass Jaw/Plasticine 7″ will be available March 3 from Egghunt Records.
We recently introduced you to Lathrop/Stockton’s versatile multi-instrumentalist and emcee Nicholas Fisher, and now we bring you more of that Soft Touch style on the debut of, “Sketch”. Produced by Craft Spells frontman Justin Paul Vallesteros, the reverberation from the asphalt roads of central California play into a tale of getting over the cold games of life, devices of complacency, and the frustrated follies that boredom brings. The production swims like fish in an aquarium, as Nicholas airs his grievance in an honest and confident style, as JPV maintains a steady and pensive mix setting that gets dropped to a low, and slow pitch where the listener can make out a syrup drenched truncated sample bite that leaves you with the haunting, “…till the end of time…” Nicholas Fisher’s upcoming EP will be available soon. Listen to more from Nicholas Fisher via Bandcamp and the Soft Touch Soundcloud.
St. Louis, Missouri artist Zach Schimpf has been putting out music since 2011, and today shares let it live & let it be keys of life on the debut of his new single, “Let Your Blood Flow”. The artist is able to create rustic vibes of natural essences, natural orders, summoning up a kind of philosophy dreamed and designed by the earth itself, and copied by Schimpf with audio textures that breathe new life in every aspect of instrumentation. With Zach’s new album Blue Pool on the horizon, the following opening song mixes Alton, Illinois legends, memories, motifs of elements, and overflowing expressions told through warm reflecting lyrics and corresponding composition arrangement.
On “Let Your Blood Flow”, Zach Schimpf opens up the lungs, and capillaries to let the memories in, singing out ecstatic proclamations on embracing the reflection of every moment passed, present, and still ahead. The title is often repeated in choruses that get washed away in the mix that recalls the cycle twists of seasons as every aspect of the sound takes on the character of environmental counterparts. The chords ring like the resonance of birds inhabiting a hollow tree, bass lines mimic the beating of hearts of all surrounding creatures, with progressions that express larger sentiments than Zach’s stream of consciousness lyrics alone. Mr. Schimpf also joins us for an interview discussion round, after the following premiere.
You have been putting music out since 2011, giving us releases like Comfortable, Sleeping, and Fountains… tell us about the new directions of your music that you are working on now.
Comfortable, Sleeping, and Fountains all feel similar to me. Almost like one album in a way. Probably because I made them in a relatively short amount of time. Before I started writing Blue Pool I decided to slow down and let one project sink in. Writing started after I visited a small, water-filled quarry in Alton, Illinois called the “Blue Pool”. That night I read about this local legend that it’s bottomless. There are cliffs above the “Blue Pool”, so you can almost believe that when you look down. I’m terrified of deep water, so that stuck with me and became an inspiration for the album. Then I started to experiment with various effects I recently acquired to imitate different watery textures. Spring reverb was an important one. It’s used in almost every song. Lyrically, water comes up a lot, too. I suppose the music I’m working on now has better production also. I’ve been taking my time.
“Let Your Blood Flow” is such a beautiful ballad that feels like a natural progression from where Fountains leaves off. Tell us about the story behind this song, it feels like one of your biggest productions yet from my ears.
When you’re younger, there’s so much to learn. You’re experiencing a lot of things for the first time. It’s all unpredictable. And that’s what Fountains is about. After a certain point, though, you just grow up. Everything gets easier. You know what to expect now. You know what works and what doesn’t. And that kind of makes things boring. “Let Your Blood Flow” is about being too caught up with that way of thinking and just wanting to live in the moment.
Production was vital. Since “Let Your Blood Flow” opens Blue Pool, I wanted it to begin without a long introduction, which I have a tendency to add. It also didn’t take long to record. Maybe a few hours to track all the instruments. Mixing took up most of the time.
What’s the latest from the St. Louis, Missouri scenes?
I don’t get out much, so I can’t speak for any entire scene. There are some great things going on though. I’m involved with a project called Lo-Fi Cherokee. It’s basically an all-day event where about 15 St. Louis-based bands play in various shops on Cherokee St. in South St. Louis. The shows are then filmed and uploaded to YouTube. It shows a lot of music from numerous scenes in the area.
How do you find your surroundings and environments in St. Louis impact your song writing and composition?
Since I live across the Mississippi, east of downtown St. Louis, there isn’t as much density. In fact, a few minutes east of where I live is endless cornfields. I think that has influenced an airiness in my music. Places like Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site and Pere Marquette State Park have also been impactful[sic]. There’s a lot of interesting history and that can bleed into my songwriting. I’ve also used field recordings from those locations for each of my albums.
Local artists you really like that more people should hear?
There is an amazing musician from St. Louis currently under the moniker American Merlin. He’s one of those musicians who writes so much great music it can be hard to keep up with. He released an EP called I Don’t Know How to Swim in December that I’ve had on repeat lately. Griffin Trapp is also really great. His song “Sounds for Saturation” is one to check out. Then there are bands that I think ended too early. Elder Giraffe and Clarity are two of these. Their music has had a big influence on mine.
2015 game plan for Zach Schimpf?
2015 is looking like my first year playing a string of shows. I’m currently working on that. In the meantime, I’ll just be finishing up my degree and hanging out with my tiny poodle, Max.
Zach Schimpf’s Blue Pool will be available soon via Bandcamp.
We recently got introduced to Sweden’s new DIY three piece Old, who present an exclusive debut listen to their forthcoming Who’s Who EP available January 27 from Adrian Recordings (home of Alice Boman, Hey Elbow, etc). Nina, Constance, and Johanna comprise the Malmö based band, and make a string of sounds that abide by whatever form, lively subject matters, and anything else the three feel like making a catchy song about.
Old make music that spins topics of age, animals, vegetables, minerals, feelings, gender, thoughts, and more on their head with their five song EP that is guaranteed to entertain and present a variety of topical constructs that appear in a free play of fun, defiance, resilience, irreverence while championing individualism above all. The opening number “Bird” presents Old imagining themselves as a feathered harbinger of discussion, presenting some original note progressions, and arrangements of harmonies that haunt in welcomed ways. Aspects of autonomy and the sex body-politik are tackled on “Hormones” with lines like, “hormones stole my sex life, I want years of pleasure back”. The attack on the internal frustrations take a turn for the humorous with the big bold and bossy production of the beloved single, “Dude” that will have you singing “don’t be a dude” for weeks. Bouncing back on their synth pop experimentalism, Old issues the new order of girl power with the closing track “Personally” that encourages all to, “embrace your inner goddess and you might find romance,” and a template and testimony on how not to take the world’s b.s. personal.
Give us the story on how OLD formed, and why the name OLD, and not something like, NEW?
Two of us have known each other since the age of nine, growing up in Stockholm. But both moved to Malmö soon after finishing school, and that’s where they met a missing friend link, Nina. All three were in different artsy projects based on artsy studies. But out of boredom from that we decided to create something new in an unknown format to all of us. A band called OLD (a name inspired by one of the members old dog) was created. Unfortunately it has come to our attention that our latest single “Dude” together with the band name OLD makes a really crappy Google Image result.
How do the three of your write your songs? They are super honest from the hilarious romp on “Hormones”, to the cautionary tale of doing everything to not be a, “Dude”.
The songs mostly arise from us sitting in the rehearsal space couch discussing the past weeks events, emotional trips, politics or drunk embarrassments. This is our kind of jam session, only it’s a talk session. Sometimes while discussing someone yells out “new song theme!”. And then who ever feels the most excited might start out with a lyric and a melody, then someone might add a musical idea or a second part to that. We welcome all three of our musical voices and believe the potpourri result is what make us special. Our democratic songwriting process leads to a less democratic music since we often present the listener to three angels of looking at the matter described in the songs, which intrigues us!
What was the making of the EP like?
Fun! We programmed most of it together. Sitting in front of the screen, eating lots of chocolate and drinking gin and juice. As far as we can remember.
Latest reports from the indie Sweden scenes?
The rap scene is growing like crazy. And especially the amount of really badass girls doing it has increased very rapidly the last year. At the same time amazing acts on the other side of the musical spectra are popping up, like our friend Feivel, the band Nightmen, not to forget Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation, to mention a few. We see lots of experimenting and DIY mentality, one of our favourite mentalities.
What’s next for OLD?
We go on our first tour to Italy! Well, it is mostly Sicily we tour actually. Very small villages in Sicily it seems… And we can not wait! We have a feeling half of February might turn out to be the time of our life. And then the US will call and beg for us to cross the water for a tour too, right?
Old’s Who’s Who EP will be available January 27 from Adrian Recordings.
Opening up up for Vacationer tonight, January 23 at Bowery Ballroom; we bring you the premiere of Brian Bonz’s new single “Moonstruck (Murder What You Hate)”, that finds the Brooklyn artist making a massive sound with family and friends. Having worked on his last release with John McEntire on The Triborough Odyssey, Bonz carries over the ambitious approach to song construction on the upcoming Misophonia release, recording this time with Chris Bracco out in Sunset Park, Connecticut.
From the opening of “Moonstruck (Murder What We Hate)”, the production steadily rises like the sun’s eastern daily emergence. The synths, strings, give way to a vignette of strings, drum machines, and a song of damage, redemption, retribution, reckoning, confrontation, conflict, catharsis, and dramatized showdowns. “Moonstruck” is like a mean midnight episode of heroes and villains duking it out, with a pop structure all it’s own that begins and ascends into cinematic proportions of dialogues, and heart streak flights of fancy to find a semblance of order amid the madness of mixed motivations. Brian joins us after the jump to discuss his newest recordings, and more.
When did these songs for Misophonia first materialize for you?
I had written some songs for a documentary for Thirteen about the Art Underground in NYC’s Subway System which inspired me to add vocals to them and I also learned Ableton Live at home to start creating various soundscapes and experiment with various genres.
What felt different this time around, versus your previous work with John McEntire?
We had strict label timelines working with McEntire right after he finished up with Broken Social Scene’s last record. We had flown in for a week in Chicago to record at his studio and finished here in New York in only 8-9 days. I took my time writing this record and recording sketches of it at home, in the industrial district of Sunset Park and at our producer’s house, Chris Bracco, in Connecticut. I wanted to go back with Bracco’s sonic touch and be adventurous. Thanks to Kickstarter and my friends — this record was made possible.
How do you feel your own song composition orchestration and arrangements have evolved since?
Writing this record with my brother, Mike, was a lot of fun to push the limits of songwriting and style. I also put down the guitar for a lot of it and just focused on sampling as well as synth based sounds. I didn’t want to have limits on this record or be married to just one sound. I think growing an ear and interest for an open mind while making a record was something new for me. I also have to thank the guys who played on this album for being patient to experiment and have fun with arrangements.
What is your preferred creative methods for song crafting?
I enjoy playing guitar or altering audio samples inside Ableton to build new beds of music that turn into songs. Most of the work in the past is always set to be themed around a topic to make the lyrical side cohesive but at the end of the day I let the music and mood dictate what my vocal melodies and story will be.
What else are you working on?
Performing at WNYC’s Battle Of Boroughs representing Brooklyn on March 6th at The Green Space. I am also planning to have residency at Pianos here in New York every Tuesday of April as well as directing short films with friends.
Recent favorite rising artists of interest for you that are on the up and up?
I really like that King Krule kid. He is super creative and talented. Check out his latest record! I think we need more artists like him. I’ve also been in the Warpaint record as well as Tame Impala.
With frontman Carl Creighton releasing a barrage of solo works in recent weeks and months, Howth is back on track with the Turtles (or Ninja Turtles project if you will) albums, debuting the following listen to “Tourist Town”. The sound of the bridge and tunnel hustle and bustle blares with sharp guitar work that observes the ins, outs, and aspects of living in a resort town that draws the attracted attention from the world over.
Electric audio axes lead the way in a cluster of chord rich commotion, where the outside visiting masses are observed from a local perspective. “Tourist Town” provides the sink or swim style that it takes to survive in the Empire State, where Carl describes the constant states of “keep your body moving” as a method of survival in the underground areas that often go unseen by the casually observing (wandering) inquisitive/accidental tourist. Howth keeps the balance of town and country in the frame, with encouragement and inspiration taking him to the backroads and places where the skyscrapers are traded for silos, barns, and dirt paths, described with, “and I’ll go where there are no roads.” The fast paced tempo matches the heart, emotion, and feeling that Carl brings to the table, discussing the latest Howth happenings immediately after the following premiere of “Tourist Town”:
You have been on a creative roll lately… What has been some of your greatest motivations, and drives of late?
I get bored watching stuff. And songwriting’s fun. So that drives me, I guess. My curiosity. Enjoying the final product. Pinning feelings down. As much as you can.
Tell me about the making of the spirited song, “Tourist Town”, and what sorts of resort city events, thoughts, and incidents that may have contributed to its creation.
Well, I was thinking about the thriving tourism industry of New York and to what extent it’s at the expense of residents. The city’s not even able to take care of its own people, but if you can afford a hotel room, it’ll accept you with open arms. Also the grandeur of the city. Like the Chrysler building. Gleaming, sleek, un-diminishable. Homeless people sleep under it.
What other songs have you been working on?
My two current songwriting assignments are to make an album for the Ten of Pentacles tarot card acoustic style in my free time and to start cohering the Heimlich maneuver bits together with the band for that album. So I’m writing songs about that stuff. And my boyfriend.
Thoughts on the Carl Creighton release schedule for 2015?
We’re hoping to release Turtles sometime in the spring. But we’re also working on the Heimlich album. And I’m doing that tarot card album. Something will happen. Dates are just fuzzy.
Winter 2015 updates for you, Howth, and other projects that are next in the works?
Howth’s playing this awesome show at Muchmores on January 30 with A Deer A Horse, Miniboone and Lost Gloves.
Me and my boyfriend are making a puppet show. It’s called The Quackenbushes. It’s about two dads raising their teenage son and daughter while they all play in a band together in Brooklyn. It’ll be part sitcom, part having our friends’ bands play on the show as puppets.
Robbie Zgaljic and Jahmeel Russell take their past histories from Sparkmarker, Black Halos, Kittens and KEN mode to give us Red Vienna. With a debut coming in spring, the Vancouver group channels their hardcore experience into a lead weighted pop entity that is loud, big, and bellowing like a giant conquering a beanstalk, sharing some of the golden goodness on their track “Golden Dove”. Robbie discussed the road to Red Vienna, and more with the following exclusive words:
In my years with Sparkmarker, that was my first real band and everything we did was DIY…from recording and putting out our own 7″s, CDs and records to silk screening our own artwork, posters and t-shirts to booking our own shows locally and North American tours. By gaining those experiences over the many years of being in that band it taught me many valuable lessons of what to do and what not to do in music when we started The Black Halos and just life in general.
While in the Black Halos, that band took me in a bit of a different direction where we had the chance to work with a real producer so we were able to craft our songs better over time, we were lucky enough to work with great labels so I was able to learn the business beyond just writing and playing… I was involved in all business aspects of the band which basically shaped me into what I am today.
When Jahmeel and I decided to start Red Vienna, we were able to take all our experiences that we gained over the many years of playing and create something that we believe in and hopefully create a new chapter in our lives that we can say we’re proud to be a part of. We’re focused on how we see our band should be presented and we know that we are able to take this in any direction. We feel lucky that our past experiences have brought us to where we are today.
Jahmeel also contributed his thoughts to the conversation:
I’ve had some great experiences playing in bands but Kittens was probably the most significant. The extreme expression of that band has informed a lot of music I’ve worked on and most directly, my time with KEN mode.
With Red Vienna I feel like we’ve moved forward in the most positive way. Incorporating more but also sharpening our focus greatly.
Portland indie dreamers Appendixes release their forthcoming Everyday Use EP January 24 on cassette and digital January 24 via Track Field Records, and we have the DIY video for “Burn”. Watch as Beth Morgan, Eric Sabatino, and Devin Welsh shy it up for the camera in a blend of home cam shots, and late night outside campfires burning deep into the evening.
Brazil’s Beto and Frederico Richie, along with António Conceição are Turtle Giant, who shared the sunshine glow to melt the winter with the sonic new-dream-surf spectacular, “Golden Summer”, ahead of their forthcoming Many Mansions (Part 1) album. This is the season of sun that roars in like the rush of a wayward wave gone rogue that sweeps Brazilian sounds to all corners of the earth with ears to hear. The two wrote us the following about the making of their upcoming album:
Many Mansions (Pt. I) was recorded in one of the first western-style theatres in China. Built in 1860, Dom Pedro V Theatre became our home away from home during the spring of 2014. Although we lacked inspiration in the beginning of the recording sessions, the discovery of an old harpsichord in one of the theatre’s many rooms gave us the power that no mythological muse could ever give. It was as if Mozart, Chopin and Schumann’s spirits were invoked at each singing chord. We also felt an eerie, creepy feeling of being constantly watched. One of our friends had mentioned that a Russian dancer was brutally murdered here in the 1960’s when this was the home to the “The Crazy Paris Show”. We freaked out a bit; none of us wanted to be left alone while the other went out for a smoke. The tiny dancer ghost definitely helped speed up the process of finishing the album.
Saa released their remix EP this week on Overshare Records that features reworks from Old Apparatus’s LTO, Hours and Love Cult, and our friends Soft As Snow who take on Saa’s “A Separate Reality”, originally off the Walking Waters EP. The post-industrial wastelands of factory clamor frequencies and overclocked drum machine rhythm algorithms are cranked toward the terrains of new imagined earths. Be sure to check out Soft as Snow’s recent Week in Pop co-curation as well.
From their self-titled EP, LA’s glamorous dudes Dear Boy dropped the Baley Wynn video for their single, “Hestitation Waltz”. The band’s noise fest shreds and shards up a cyclone from the emotive hinged lyrics, while bright screen tests presented by models Paisley Grey, Sara Cummings, Madison Crider, and Krystall Schott grace the motion picture frames.
Check out the hand clapping, body-moving single from NYC’s The New Tarot who draws the danced-up action card, “On Baby”, inciting instant dance parties everywhere. The mood is fun, the guitar strums take cues from the footworking rhythms that highlight the upward energetic delivery from lead vocalist Monika Walker.
J. Rocc of the duo with MED, AXEL F. directed the video for “Searching” where you get to hang out with MED taking in a good time with fans and folks in Tokyo. Theme Music is available now via Bandcamp with instrumental versions available on both cassette and digital.
The countdown to Quarterbacks’ February 10 scheduled release of their self-titled on Team Love Records / Double Double Whammy has has given us tastes with “Center”, “Pool”, and now we have the free wheeling wonder of “Not In Luv” that gives you some happy at heart action from the New Paltz team. We have been saying it for a few years now, but Quarterbacks have the pure DIY spirit that can take any franchise, any squad, and any true hearted band straight to the Super Bowl.
Keeping the post-punk dystopia and dystrophy pulled up tight; Brooklyn’s EULA dropped “Noose”, off the Wool Sucking album available March 3 from Mirror Universe and Alyse Lamb’s Famous Swords art collective and imprint. Lamb’s voice travels around the doomed landscapes of sounds that spiral in downward dirges like a welcomed, mammoth of a whirlpool turning deep at sea.
We recently talked to up and coming indie producer Adam Snow (known for his work producing Lil B , Tayyib Ali, and so forth) who drops some ‘do do ba do’ vibrations with “Cameras (Part II)”, that is the sound of the most luxurious model shoot/screen test opp that you can imagine.
GABI is preparing her Sympathy for release April 7 from the awesome Software Recording Co, and we got the Serena Forghieri video for “Fleece”. Hymns of empathy and affection run into an orchestral assemblages that sheds some sonic light on the directions that chamber music is taking these days.
Sarah P. (formerly of Keep Shelly in Athens) shares her video, “Moving On”, about changing it all, and standing tall directed by Tim Tautorat & Miriam Engelkamp, with Sarah styled up by Franziska Tischmacher, with hair & make-up courtesy of Artgerecht Berlin & Franziska Tischmacher. The new directions present our Athenian protagonist claiming back a sense of individuality, power, moving forward, and to the possibilities of higher grounds, echelons, and more. The whole world is Sarah P.’s oyster, as it always was, and maybe like never before.
The Blank Tapes recently released their new album, Geodesic Dome Piece, and we give you the following listen to the stone California sunshine pop that trips on. Throwback LPs melt on the If I Could Only Remember My Name burnout trails that wail through the woozy haze of, “Way Too Stoned”, the boogie part of “Oh My My”, freakout pop follies on “Buff”, the magic ship voyage of “Magic Leaves”, to the hungover highs of, “For Breakfast”. More wonders await, explore for yourself, dear voyagers. The sun-baked Cali pop is alive and strong with the great Matt Adams once again.
We announced the forthcoming of Portland’s new rising Northwestern indie rockers Divers’ debut LP, Hello Hello available in February via Rumbletowne Records / Party Damage, and you can check out their new track, “Breathless”. In similar ambitious and creative spirit like Party Damage labelmates Aan and other true-hearted PDX DIY-poppers; Divers create the sounds, emotions and moods that hold up halls of mirrors to reflect the feelings of their audiences, fans, and all in attendance to witness their motivation inflected aura of audio conveyed affection.
Jesse Cafiero of SF’s Split Screens’ dropped the video for “Meeker Hollow”, the b-side to the The Sinner 7″, available from Name Drop Swamp Records. Gathering together archival film footage taken from the Prelinger archives, that features time-lapsed photography of flowers, coupled with NASA lunar animation from the 1963 film, Project Apollo to illustrate how miniscule our day-to-day perception of the world and life is in the grand, cosmic scene of things. As Jesse explained to us:
The video is a DIY effort on my part and is entirely compiled and edited from obscure vintage film. I sing and play the majority of instruments on this track along with my buddy Rory O’Connor (drummer for Tycho) and Geneva Harrison (Bells Atlas). This is the third video I’ve made for Split Screens and I think it’s the most psychedelic one yet! It helps having the opening sample be of a woman actually on LSD…
Tucson’s Head Over Heart dropped the video of vintage slide dramas on the visual odyssey for “No Sleep”, directed by Alex Italics. Weird therapist procedures are exhibited in a strange, surreal, and somewhat frightening manner to the electro-vibing audio.
Fresh off the release of his album The Elusive Yes, catch Ryan Hobler playing NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall February 19, and gracing your ears with some upbeat pop of acquaintances, correspondents, confidants, and other close connections on the beautiful heart-string strummer; “The Day We Last Spoke”.
Celebrating 25 releases to date, Dutch imprint Atomnation dropped the free compilation that features sounds new and old athat showcases the label’s 3 year’s of existence. So bucklet up your safety belts and get into the progressive Euro worlds from Polynation, Olaf Stuut, Fran Seven, Weval, Gidge, Portable Sunsets, David Douglas, Tonik Ensemble, Applescal, Koett and Sau Poler. Listen now to the some of the sounds that are pushing the limits of what we ever thought was possible in the elecronic and post-electronic realms of music, concept, rhythm, and thought.
Anwar Sadat’s Obedience EP is available now on Sick Room Records, and we invite you to check out the Louiville, Kentucky’s band’s first video with, “Obedience”. The theater of NSFW cruelty that takes place in the following was described recejntly in full by vocalist/bassist Shane Wesley:
This is the first music video from Anwar Sadat; shot during an intense few hours beneath a massive warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky. Inspired in equal parts by Kenneth Anger and Videodrome, the video for “Obedience” turns the economy of war and cultural docility reflected in the lyrics into a kind of surrealist snuff film.
Saint Marie Records will re-release Blind Mr. Jones’ Tatooine January 27 for the 20th Anniversary Edition to reintroduce the world to the Marlow, England dream poppers of the 90s. Reacquaint yourself with the theme park titled “Disneyworld”, that conjures up the sort of bliss associated with amusement park attractions brought by a chorus blizzard of guitars.
Dallas, TX’s Valise lent the expressive exchange pop of, “Dialogue”, providing gentle winter vibes off their upcoming album Young Bloomer available February 24.
SF’s Geographer released the sincere, light as air rising sentiments of “I’m Ready” off the upcoming new album, Ghost Modern, available March 24 from Roll Call Records.
Peep the Phil Manley video for “Spoil Yr Party” from San Francisco’s Sporting Life, off their upcoming Rivalry LP, available March 10. The group’s lively, sporting, and high spirited sound is given a visual bath of vintage rollerskating antics, and everything wonderful about embracing an active lifestyle.
Apidae, aka Greg Hummell and Drew JH York are readying their single, “Turning Tides”, available February 9 from Dumont Dumont. The UK duo provide a blend of vocals from Hummell that presents songs in the key of sea changes, as oceans and earth are synthesized together.
Florist’s Week in Pop
Get The Hell Out Of The Way Of The Volcano (Khaela Maricich from The Blow), “Milkmaid”
This was the song that my bandmate Rick showed me years ago when we first decided to start recording together using his tascam 424, the same four track that this song was recorded on.
Connie Converse, “Talkin’ Like You (Two Tall Mountains)”
Crazy amazing “ahead-of-her-time” songwriter active in the 1950s in NYC who ran away in 1974 leaving only letters to her family and friends and she has not been heard from since. Her home recordings were discovered and released in 2009.
Penguin Cafe Orchestra, “The Sound Of Someone You Love Who Is Going Away And It Doesn’t Matter”
This is my favorite composition of music ever written. It’s perfect.
Bratmobile, “Some Special”
Everyone in the universe needs to listen to Bratmobile and their album, Pottymouth. Original Riot Grrrl and very important!
The Muppets, “Mana Mana”
I haven’t been able to get this out of my head for a couple weeks now!!
Harmony Tividad, “Feed Me Flowers”
Harmony is one of my favorite songwriters and people right now.
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