Through the bandwagons of buzz propagated by the traffic-obsessed, social media guilt-sanctioning, content farming trolls of the world; Impose's Week in Pop shines a light on the newest in new. Everyone is talking about the Bumbershoot lineup announcement, Phono del Sol details, The Kiph Scurlock v. Wayne Coyne back and forth, Morrissey throwing a stink about PAWS and We Are Scientists playing near his venue (after recently being mobbed onstage by a fan and subsequent truncated performance of three songs), there is a Mac DeMarco macumentary in the works, Apple might be buying Dre's Beats for a cool $3.2 billion, we learned that on Spotify, one quarter of the tracks played are skipped within the first five seconds, and Burger Records is partnering with Light in the Attic to reissue and release a cassette a week May 13 – July 22. Keeping the headlines coming, we have an exclusive round of dialogues and insights from DLRN, Friend Roulette, Heliotropes, Pastel, Brothers Weiss, VANIISH, and still much more. Now, in no particular order…
In the spirit of twentieth anniversaries, Heliotropes along with their label-mates Friend Roulette, help count back the years to 1994 when Nine Inch Nails released The Downward Spiral with their 7″ split, Pig. The Brooklyn buddies pay tribute with covers, that find Heliotropes tackling “March of the Pigs” and Friend Roulette in charge of reclaiming “Piggy” as one of their own. The 7″ will be available May 20 from Goodnight Records, in a limited run of 200 discs with handmade art, and the sounds of friends just having fun.
Heliotropes replace the drum-machine that fills the original and slows it down to the molasses of moaning guitars and sections of halloween-ready choirs. Jessica's voice takes the shape of an over-lording empress, as the band sets all sounds in motion; a spiral free fall into the abscesses of the ocean that hits the dried pock of the sea floor. The slow-spun sails also point to the chances of calm; still, but never static waters that are enjoyed on the title track from their upcoming album, A Constant Sea, available May 13 from Goodnight Records. From the NIN cover to their original and forthcoming material; Heliotropes' Jessica Numsuwankijkul talks about covering “March of the Pigs”, The Downward Spiral, Trent Reznor, and hints of a Heliotropes-Friend Roulette power-group.
Do you all remember where you were when you first heard Downward Spiral?
Yes. I ordered it from the Columbia House mail-order insert in a copy of Rolling Stone. I'm pretty sure we all first heard anything off The Downward Spiral on MTV, though. Wasn't that video for “Closer” more inescapable than all of the other inescapable videos on MTV at the time? Even “Black Hole Sun”.
How did it affect you all?
I went to Catholic school for a long time and found all the themes of atheism and nihilism and sexual depravity really titillating at the time. It felt really good to listen to a song like “Heresy”, secretly, at lunch.
NIN impact on Heliotropes?
We like it dark, generally.
Treasured memories of listening to “March of the Pigs”?
Eating pizza bagels at my parents' house in Foster City.
Interpretations of the Trent Reznor 'pig' metaphor, Manson house, Lord of the Flies, etc…
I love the pig themes. I sometimes wonder what would be more degrading: being asked to wear a pig nose, or a ball gag.
How did you all go about adapting it for a cover?
We played it a couple times in a straightforward manner, with the wacky time signatures. It took a second. Then we just rearranged it in a way that sort of reminded us of this one Robert Wyatt song called “Stay Tuned”. It's one of my favorite songs. Then we found out that Marta was really good at singing in falsetto.
Favorite lesser known NIN songs that you all dig?
I'm really partial to “Help Me I Am In Hell” and “Gave Up”. I think Broken is a great album in general.
How did you and Friend Roulette come together on this project?
Matt was visiting me at work and “Piggy” came on and we fan-girled out really hard talking about Trent Reznor's songs. A couple spritzers later, Matt told Keith from Goodnight Records and we decided to make a small record.
Heliotropes-Friend Roulette super-group album in the works?
Maybe. It kind of already happens from time to time. Julia, Matt and John have all played on Heliotropes songs. We have a song called “A Constant Sea” which is only available on the LP version of the album where they all play. I'm not sure if we could keep up with them musically, though. They all went to music school.
With Friend Roulette at the helm of “Piggy”, it begins with the bored jazz line, “hey pig” (and now slogan on a band-made t-shirt). The central base of the song remains as you recall it from 20 years back, turned into a part indie lounge act with Friend Roulette's riotous, rolling boulders. “Piggy” gives Friend Roulette an opportunity to turn one of the 90s controversial-ish classics into an excuse to just make a joyful barrel full of noise. Hear more of the latest sounds from Friend Roulette on their new Grow Younger EP available now from Goodnight Records.
We also got a chance to ask Friend Roulette about their cover of Nine Inch Nail's “Piggy”, NIN memoirs, and the ever-enduring Heliotropes bond.
Do you all remember where each of you were when you first heard Downward Spiral?
Julia: I don't specifically remember the first time i heard the album but I definitely remember hearing tons of Nine Inch Nails on the radio
Matt: I was on Julia's couch after she said she wanted to cover piggy.
How did it affect you all?
Julia: I was mostly listening to classical music and hip hop at the time, but I did listen to KROQ in the car and I was definitely freaked out and excited by the amazing beats and noises of NIN.
NIN impact on Friend Roulette?
Julia: NIN has no impact on Friend Roulette on my end. It is so weird and random that the song “Piggy” gelled so well for us, but it just feels perfect!
Treasured memories of listening to “Piggy”?
Julia: “Piggy” was never a song that stuck out to me on the album until I realized it was basically a Friend Roulette song.
Interpretations of the Trent Reznor 'pig' metaphor, 'Le Pig' recording studio, obsessions, etc.
Julia: I am not familiar with this and I try not the obsess. I just let NIN sit in my brain untouched for several years and then one day I realized that the song “Piggy” was perfectly suited for our band.
Matt: I actually looked this up on songmeanings.com the other day… wild stuff the internet has to say about this one.
How did you all go about adapting it for a cover?
Julia: We used the same method we usually use when working on a song. We listen to the reference and then try it out. It's strange and miraculous that we played a predominantly electronic song with live instruments and it sounds so right.
Matt: I think the weirdest thing is that we didn't really change it much at all on a structural or harmonic level. We just kinda played it like we would anything else and added our own inflections. Kinda like jazz musicians interpreting standards, no?
Favorite lesser known NIN songs that you all dig?
Julia: Obviously I've gotta go with “Piggy”.
Matt: I like that one about fucking like an animal.
How did you and Heliotropes come together on this project?
Matt: I went over to Julia's house one morning to hang and she said she finally found a cover she wanted to do. This is when I heard NIN for the first time. I was stoked not necessarily because of this particular song, but just 'cause we could finally do a cover. On my way home I dropped by a bar where Jess from Heliotropes works, got drunk with her and told her the idea. We both started drunkenly laughing until Jessica paused and said, 'oh yeah, Cici played the drum beat from “March of the Pigs” in rehearsal the other day.' Then there were more beers and jokes about covering pork themed Trent Reznor songs until, at some hazy moment, we realized we were now Label-mates (Helio had just been signed to Goodnight Records). I very drunkenly texted Keith from Goodnight the idea as a joke! His response was, quite seriously: 'This is great—lets make this happen.' At that point Neither bands had rehearsed the song, but alas a month later, it was recorded and I found myself bleaching t-shirts that say 'hey pig' on them for the release. Gotta give the biggest thanks to Keith from Goodnight Records for making this happen.
Friend Roulette-Heliotropes super group album maybe in the works?
Julia: It is in our nature as Friend Roulette-ians to collaborate with as many friends as possible!
Matt: Maybe we'll put out a collaborative 7″ of Korn covers.
The Pig 7″ split will be available May 20 from Goodnight Records.
There is something striking about the new Pastel single “Sweeter Conversations”. The project of Southern California's Gabriel Brenner works with rhythms and different coats of blue that pushes conversation through to the evening places and whispers from beneath the sedimentary layers of plush comforters. While much has been made in the press about the rising underground's fixations on r n' b and the new invasion of British pop stars along with with their own contributions of innovation and influence; something more substantial beneath the skin deep trend-watching is at work. New artists that are tuned into deeper (and maybe even higher) frequencies like Brenner are naturally looking to create the sound of human contact that creates a sensation of real-life apart from the constant interferences of digital and mobile interfaces. Similar to that bedrock of nude sounds featured on Duncan Cooper's Naked Music mix, Brenner let's every bit of the song's aura melt into the sweet nothings where sung whispers and the production simulate a dialogue of human interaction.
“Sweeter Conversations”, from a production stand point, is just smart. As a young artist developing his sound behind the decks and mics, Gabriel pulls off the technique of playing off the listener's deep held affections. Every hushed delivery of conversational-love-note lyric is on point, the spacing between percussion measures is timed just right, with a sax that leans the vibraphonic action in a bend to the center. Gabriel is why you like deep lounge tracks, chill dance 12″ singles, throw-back 808 kicks, and your parent's record collection of all the soft-hits you can handle. We were the first to introduce you to the warm embrace of Pastel's “Hold Me”, and now bring you closer into the jet pool of pillow talk.
Once again, we had the pleasure of continuing our conversations with Pastel's Gabriel Brenner.
What was the way you convey sweet sensations into the the slow-simmer of, “Sweeter Conversations”?
I wanted to go for something that sounded very physical and warm, particularly in the way I sang. I chose to sing breathier than usual and I stayed in my lower range, for the most part; I wanted to sound inviting but distant enough to make the listener want to lean in and pay close attention to the way I’m speaking to them. And it really is more like gentle speaking, rather than full on singing. When my friend Leny was recording the sax part, too, I told her to ease and lean into it. I really wanted the listener to get a sense of bodily movement throughout.
How is the best way to express empathy through the electronic tinged arts of music?
Well, for me, at least, I don’t like choosing sounds that are too inhuman or lack a soul. It’s difficult to define what I mean by 'soul,' though, since sound isn’t really a sentient being with a personality, you know? I guess you just know it when you hear it. If it sounds like it isn’t a living, breathing thing, I tend to shy away from it. But I feel that a lot of empathy in electronic music, too, comes from song structure, because you can hear very human, artistic choices in every placement of a sound. For example, when you listen to someone like Burial, I love how you can hear meticulous choices in the details of each beat that sound like they’ve been handled by a human being, and the inclusion of vocal samples quite literally adds a lot of humanity to his music.
What are some of your favorite vintage slow-jams and r n' b classics that you find yourself returning to?
I don’t think this technically counts as a 'slow' jam, but there was a time period last year where I listened to Debbie Deb’s “Lookout Weekend” on repeat for about two weeks. It’s a song that’s likely been a part of my life since I was in the womb, but it's really struck a chord with me recently. It’s definitely a song I can listen to thousands of times without getting tired of it. Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots” too is another certified Pastel jam, and listening to it now, I think you can easily hear the influence of it in “Sweeter Conversations”. But nothing has stuck with me more than Aretha Franklin’s rendition of “Young, Gifted, and Black” and Otis Redding’s rendition of “A Change is Gonna Come”. When you understand the cultural context of both of the songs, it’s difficult to not be deeply emotionally affected by both. The vocal performances in them are jaw-droppingly heartfelt.
I love how you work in these sparse areas of productions, how do you feel that you are able to tap into something more evocative with atmospheres and spaces between percussion, vocals, and keys?
A lot of my atmospheric choices came from religiously listening to artists like James Blake, The xx, and Young Marble Giants. All of them are masters of the ebb and flow of tension and release through the use of silence. I do owe a hefty debt to my background in Tahitian percussion, too. Traditional Tahitian rhythms are generally quite specific about where, when, and why beats are placed because they are created with an understanding that someone will be dancing/responding to the beat in a very specific way, as well, depending on the tempo and which drums are used. The hyper-sensitivity to beat placement and beat layering that Tahitian percussion instilled in me definitely plays a part in placement of silence and use of atmosphere.
Recordings in the works that you are excited about?
There’s one song in particular on my EP that I’m really excited about. It’s the closing track, and it’s kind of long, but it’s my personal favorite. There’s a few really high notes in it, too, that I haven’t been able to hit since, so I’m glad I recorded the song when I did.
Pastel's “Sweeter Conversations” is available now for download from iTunes
San Diego is a rock and roll capital in its own right, just ask our buddy Justin Pearson. Sometimes during happy hour talk with San Diegan ex-pats, strange stories are traded about the Blink-182 of back in the day, you know, just reminiscing over all the 'early stuff.'
The three-pack of friends and siblings Ryan Weiss, Kevin Weiss, and Miguel Ramirez are Brothers Weiss, who keep the rock-talk of San Diego rolling with a debut look at their video for “Conversations”. Taken off the recently released EP of the same name, the Eric Neri video follows Eric Sande around through the social sequences of various party settings, self-medicating, and self-assertions, trying to forever sort it out. There is an interesting depiction of coping with reality that is at work in the video, that takes the howl and buzz of the song's quest for daily survival into a day in the life that includes all the weirdness, the awkward exchanges, earnest glimmers, and questions that lie deeper beneath the surface in the lives of the party. Addictive accoutrements and couplings from alcohol, cigarettes, and other co-dependent dabblings are shown in a frank way that spells out the underpinnings of habits that consume the causes of perpetual nervousness. The arena attitude spits a delivery that is spastic, and sends a comforting word for the lonely and down trodden that it only gets better from here. So hang out with Mr. Sande, and his cool shades, as he makes his way around town, with plenty of guest cameo appearances by the Brothers.
The Brothers Weiss trio of Kevin Weiss, Ryan Weiss, and Miguel Ramirez talked to us about the elaborations and introspection behind “Conversations”, and more.
When did the brotherhood come alive as the active music project, Brothers Weiss?
Kevin: Brothers Weiss started as a project that my brother Ryan and I had been wanting to do for a long time, but we were both busy playing in other bands since the end of high school. Once our schedules were freed up, we just started jamming. As our songs began to form, we realized that doing the guitar and drums duo wasn’t going to cut it. We needed a bass player to fill in the low end, and we also needed someone to take on the lead vocals. We found both of those in one person, Miguel Ramirez. He is friend that is as close as a brother, and I had previously played with him in a couple of projects. As soon as we all got together, we realized that this was our band, and we haven’t turned back. Everything clicked, and we are happy to call the three of us Brothers Weiss.
Everyone is talking about communication, and the decline of, these days, everywhere. So why do you feel that, having written a song called “Conversations”, communication is important in our lives now than ever before?
Miguel: Well, first I'll admit I'm far from proficiency in my daily communication, but I'm learning. The song is more an introspection and elaboration of my own experience than a social commentary. That said, I'm happy to share a little context. I'd say communication is not anymore important now than any other time, but rather a concern for all generations. An author once wrote: “every generation… has no different task from that of every previous generation.” Though we are certainly to learn from those who have gone before us, the work itself always starts from the ground up. From my very limited experience, the heart of real communication is truth. The obstructions at least partially stem from the false things I believe about myself, as they serve to isolate me from others. If I've become deluded to think I can act in whatever such way without consequences, my communication with others will include this falsehood. It may create major rifts between others and myself, or stop relationships before they can even begin. Or, if I believe I'm immune to failure, my communication will always be on the defensive. I'll blame others or become angry with them, or manipulate plans to avoid situations that would expose my weaknesses. There is an appearance of communication, but I really become more isolated from those people. So, with communication, it seems to me that valuing truth is very important, the problem is, it's hard for us to see. That's some of what the song and video tries to portray.
How did a song of communication breakdowns, and coping mechanisms come into the mainframe of songwriting with, “Conversations”?
Miguel: As far as how I started writing the lyrics, it's pretty simple. When we were composing the melody to the verse, one time Kevin sang “our conversations” and it just kinda went from there!
Give us the San Diego report, according to the Brothers Weiss.
Ryan: The San Diego music scene is alive and well. The weather is even better. We are digging some newer bands playing around town including Barbarian, Chess Wars, and anything written by Joel P. West. It seems that more recently a lot of SD bands are working on playing out of town more and touring up the coast, which is awesome. In turn, more bands from other cities are choosing to tour through San Diego. There is a very tight community of bands here that supports each other and this is definitely helping San Diego become a better music town. Some bands are getting a chance to shine on the national stage and even tour with bands in the UK. The other thing that’s great about the scene here is the eclectic musical styles you can hear, even in one night at a single show. There is everything from surf/garage/fuzzy indie rock to rock n’ roll, reggae, and folk/country music. San Diego has a lot to offer including amazing beer and beaches, and we are stoked to report that music is still relevant and thriving here.
What are you guys working on next?
Ryan: We just got back from our first California tour a couple weeks ago, so now we are working on writing a bunch of new material. We want to start mixing in some new songs into our live set, and the plan is to record and release a new EP in the summertime (vinyl would be rad). We love the whole process of writing, recording, and translating the songs to our live show. I think now is a great opportunity for us to really experiment and hone in on our sound as a band. Then hopefully we get to do another tour later this year and continue to have a blast doing what we love.
The Conversations EP is available now via Bandcamp.
We saw this coming for miles down the I-80 stretch, where out of Sacramento rolls the duo of vocalist Sean LaMarr and production maestro Jon Reyes who make up DLRN. Revealing the word that their Neon Noir EP will be available June 3 on cassette and digital from Waaga Records, are helping to further usher the Sacramento renaissance by painting up the downtown like a neon city of emeralds.
The duo sticks with a synergy that yearns with the hunger from Sean's delivery and Jon's future electro buzz of sub-genres that are yet to be named. But strengthening up and keeping their local crews healthy and strong is part of DLRN's code of arms, as Neon Noir sports appearances from Young Aundee, Leia Layus, Nami Ramo, and Stevie Nader, featured on the following stream of “Fear & Loathing”. Just like Sean appeared on Stevie's “MF Dream” Boywolf remix track and video we premiered—Sean toasts to greatness in a narrative backdrop of hotel-hedonism while Jon builds up cities made of synth-bricks only to be knocked down like digitized blocks.
We recently caught up with DLRN after Sean guested on Stevie Nader's “MF Dream”, talked about making the song's music video, their upcoming Neon Noir EP, and the rise of the Sacramento undergrounds.
Loved the catacomb like urban locales that you all chose for this video, tell us about making this video with Stevie Nader and Sami Abdou.
Sean: Stevie and Sami are family. I’ve known them both since we were in high school. It seems like we all have been grinding so hard at our crafts that working together just came naturally. They are two of a very small group of people that I trust with my art & vision. We don’t really ask too much of each other. We just show up and go to work, ha, ha. We shot that whole thing in one night, and got kicked out of a couple locations too.
How did you both meet and form the DLRN vehicle?
S: Jon and I met around the same time actually.
Jon: We were part of this art collective that included everything dancers, poets, to graffiti artists. The collective wasn't a formal organization or anything, but really just a group of really creative folks that would meet up to session and workshop with one other. It was a precursor to Sean later forming a hip hop crew called the Neighborhood Watch, which was similar but more focused on developing and nurturing the hip hop scene in Sacramento.
How would you both describe the restrained art of your meticulous electronic, restrained ambiance, rhythm and blues, met with sung and spoken proverbs?
Jon: At the end of the day we're set to make good, honest, music. There's such a wide spectrum of art that we draw inspiration from, that it's tough to nail the right adjectives as to what we do. It's a headache for the people that try to market our music ha,ha,, but hopefully the listener 'gets it' once the beat drops.
Sean: I get lost trying to create tag lines for us, ha,ha. We try our best to create music that speaks to hip hop fans, and then music fans in general. It’s emotional, it’s real life, it’s blue collar with a bit of luxe. It’s hip hop with some heavy-ass synths.
Like in “MF Dream”, what are your thoughts on the future of both your music, in the young and gifted Sacramento underground uprise?
Sean: It’s just going to keep getting stronger. The city is starting to really love and support its artists, and I imagine that will lead to more places/spaces to create and better platforms for sharing those creations. As for us we are trying our damnedest to make this project the one that let’s us take our vision of Sacramento to a lot more of the world.
Thoughts on Sacramento's proliferation of recent?
Sean: From Lee Bannon to Death Grips, Andy Allo, David Garibaldi, Sister Crayon, Chelsea Wolfe, and so many other great acts and artists it seems like this city is going through an art movement right now. It’s crazy to be here. I’ve been here for so long it seems normal, but when you really look at some of the things coming out of this city its hard to imagine the same things happening elsewhere. It’s really a diverse group of artists and creatives…most of which, now thinking about it aren’t really here any more including Jon. Ha, ha.
Jon: Yeah, I made the move out to San Francisco a few years ago for a change of scenery. The cool thing about Sacramento is the creative community in this city allows you to experiment and set trends. That's why with those artists Sean named, a lot are more left of center, progressive types in their respective fields. At the same time, there's so much talent in Sacramento that the goalposts for some artists don't move beyond the city borders — which is fine from a purely creative standpoint, but doesn't do much to help the city's identity or reputation outside of the Midtown grid. Most folks are probably okay with that though.
State of the Sacramento scenes?
Sean: It’s alive & kicking. A few dope music venues have opened up in the last year it seems and they’re putting on great shows weekly. Guerrilla open mics are taking venues over. A lot of different cultures are really cultivating interesting products right now. Food and beverage culture is getting great, the artists are having fun…taking risks. It’s getting weird.
What releases and collabos are happening and coming up in the hives for DLRN?
Sean: Neon Noir (Part I) & (Part II) are due out this summer. June and probably August. Stevie Nader’s “Grit” is set to drop in May. I got the chance to work on that with him and it’s heavier than this MF Dream record. Some really really great stuff on there.
Jon: I have several DJ residencies in San Francisco and Oakland in addition to dropping a weekly podcast called “FiveForFridays” — a five song mix aimed at putting folks on to records they may or may not have heard.
DLRN's Neon Noir EP will be available June 3 from Waaga Records.
(Adam, Keven, and Amy of VANIISH, press photos appear courtesy of Damon Way)
In the the midst of the various transitions happening between San Francisco and Bay Area bands, meet VANIISH; comprised of members from Wax Idols, The Soft Moon, Veil Veil Vanish, The Holy Kiss, Death of a Party, and a handful of other bands. Materializing from the Bay's ether of fog, Keven Tecon, Amy Rosenoff, Adam Beck, and Nick Ott take their ethereal educations from the encapsulation of their collected experience into a dissappearing/reappearing vanishing act with an extra 'I' in the title. Their album Memory Work is slated for release June 10, where dark veils are used as a lens to convey various emotions and moods.
Their song “Kaleidescoped” crashes and tumbles in bundles of aural colors and fabrics that comprise the past participle of the ongoing dialogue of cold-cut canons. Frantic thoughts, feelings, and situations run forward for some redemption, search of safety, and the assertion of being. The chill falls like ice, snow and rain around the hollow “I'm alive” chorus chant. Through the dark goth smoke-machines, VANIISH exhibits a mood that is not entirely closed off, where chord change shifts cling to the song's visceral grip of desires and the ensuing pursuit of.
Adam and Keven from Vaniish gave us an inside peek into the band's kaleidescope of sound.
Let's talk about the tumble of guitars, drums, and foreboding vocals on, “Kaleidoscoped”; how did you all set about stirring this disorienting sound with the sum of all your instrumentation?
Adam: This is the first song we worked on when we started playing together. Keven had a demo worked out, but it was pretty different from what ended up on the record. I remember trying to come up with guitar parts that did the opposite of Keven's guitar so when he's doing ascending riffs, I'm doing descending riffs. For the verse I wanted to do something simple but woozy, so I'm just riding a B note and pushing down the whammy bar to slowly bend up and down notes. Amy does these cool melodic repetitions under it all on the bass. The drums were originally just a repeating sample, but Monte (the producer) thought we should break it up a bit, so Nick came up with that cool drum part in the verses with the really prominent snare hit counter pointing Keven's vocals. The chorus actually didn't come until we'd already been working on the song for a bit. Since the rest of the song is so dark and condensed, we wanted to make it open up for the chorus.
Keven: I like how messy and almost nauseating the melodies sound. There are several guitars and synths playing off of each other and it’s hard to tell what is happening. When I’m stressed I usually like to listen to things that mimic that state of mind. The chorus takes you out of that for only a moment which is really soothing but also a bit jarring. “Kaleidoscoped” is probably of the the more straight-forward songs on the album but it has a really interesting mood.
The kaleidoscope concept is a big deal to a lot of people, a common photography direction choice for music videos, the name of many other songs, and albums, but what does the notion of “Kaleidoscoped” mean to you all?
Keven: The name came from a story by Jeff Noon who is one of my favorite contemporary writers. I love the way that he plays with language, morphing and combining words to manipulate their meaning. Typically kaleidoscope would suggest beautifully reflected colors and patterns. The way that Noon changes the word it suddenly becomes something violent and destructive. I felt like this idea complimented the song which uses what is my mind at least are colorful textures, melodies and words to describe something particularly violent and ugly.
Let's talk about how some of you have come from The Soft Moon and Wax Idols; in which ways have those experiences from the former impacted what you all do in VANIISH, and how have you all respectively observed your own sound, styles, and approaches shifting from here on?
Keven: Amy joined Wax Idols on bass when Heather was trying to find a whole new band. She asked me if I wanted to play drums which was hilarious because I had never played drums in a band before but I loved the idea of trying something new. Growing up I had always played guitar in bands but I was getting tired of it and this seemed like a good opportunity to hit things and not have to be the bandleader for once. I get pretty obsessive when it comes to writing music so when we started working on the Discipline and Desire record I spent a lot of time adding small details and nuances to the drums beats. I felt like the drum parts should be as expressive as the rest of the music was. This has definitely had an influence on how I write with VANIISH. Instead of concentrating mainly on the vocals and guitars I think there should be an attention to detail to every sound on a record or it shouldn’t be there at all. When I joined The Soft Moon they had been playing with a drum machine and were not sure how to incorporate live drums. I spent a lot of time researching triggers, drum pads, samplers etc… trying to find the best way to integrate. It was really exciting because I hadn’t seen many people doing it at the time so it was undiscovered territory. I remember spending hours on the phone with Damon Way (SM keyboard player at the time) brainstorming on different approaches and figuring out how I was going to program everything. After shows drummers would always come up to me and ask about it because I set things up in a unusual way to fit my particular style. I love the idea of trying new things so I can see us doing something completely different after this album.
Can you all describe the process of recording your upcoming Memory Work album?
Keven: We recorded it with Monte Vallier who Amy and I had previously worked with on the Wax Idols stuff. Monte is amazing and unfortunately for him ends up becoming a kind of life coach for everyone he works with. For some of the songs we started with the demos as the template and built the songs on top of that. There were certain sounds on the demos that I really liked and didn’t want to try and recreate. Other songs were recorded from scratch as a live band in the studio. I think these two different approaches give the songs distinction and make the album less monochromatic. We wanted to stay away from sounds that would make the album sound dated so Monte did a great job experimenting with mics, running things through pedals and creating unique sound sets for the album. He said he wanted people to look back on “Memory Work” as an inspiration for their own sounds.
Having been from previous Bay Area bands, how did you all first bond together, and then how and when was VANIISH formed as a new game in town?
Adam: All of us were in bands that played together maybe 5-6 years ago, so we met and got acquainted in ye olde days, traipsing about, playing shows together. Those bands have since broken up, but maybe a year and a half ago I started talking to Keven at a Soft Moon show about playing some music together. He missed writing songs, and I'd gotten sick of writing dark electro crap in Ableton Live all by myself. A little later I caught up with him again at a Wax Idols show and he mentioned that Amy and him had been talking about writing a record together, and so we decided to combine efforts. He had a number of demos already written that became the jumping off point for writing the album. We quickly realized we needed a drummer, Nick was the first drummer we tried out and it was a great fit, we never even bothered to try out anyone else.
How do you all write your songs, and please tell us they are from one of those hundred year old or whatever Victorians, but it's totally cool if not. We imagine one of those super gothed-out Alamo Square flats that are super swanky.
Adam: I live in a 100 year old (no joke, it’s exactly 100 years – 1914) craftsman in Oakland, but it’s a pretty dark shade of grey, so… you know… it’s almost black.
Keven: I wish I could afford a Victorian in Alamo Square! I live in a small inlaw which we have nicknamed “The Freezer” because it never gets any light and is always cold even during the summer. So yeah, I write songs in my cold, dark house wearing lots of layers.
Adam: Plus, I think if the album was written in one of those houses every song would inadvertently sound a little bit like the Full House theme song.
Favorite things about the Bay Area scenes these days?
Keven: There are some great smaller scenes going on. I like what Slumberland, Castle Face, and Dark Entries are doing. San Francisco is kind of isolated from the media hub of New York but there is still a lot happening here.
Least favorite things about the Bay?
Keven: A few years ago things weren’t as fragmented as they are now. When you went to a show you would usually see three very different bands that would share some kind of common thread that brought them together. Now things are so compartmentalized that you will see three bands that all have the same instrumentation, tempo, mood, etc… I think people like to have their own comfortable niches but I think that insular mentality can keep people from trying to experiment outside of their genre.
Other Bay Area groups that are nailing it?
Keven: Some of my favorite Bay Area bands have recently moved away. Wax Idols of course, Weekend and Tamaryn who both moved to New York, Some Ember who moved to San Luis Obispo, Lumerians, Wymond Miles, Fresh and Onlys and also some of the new bands that Dark Entries is working with.
Can you leave us with weird lullabies of future fairy tales from the Bay, the world of VANIISH, and the unknown?
Keven: Reading this question makes me feel like I’m on crazy pills. I like that. Here are random words in random order: checkers, decoupage, body double, tender orthopedic surgery, relentless drifters, siamese discount disco, battle of the bandages, and chicken soup for the hole. Good night!
Memory Work is available June 10.
First warning of Napolian's Inursio album was a on collaboratio Ian Evans did with Joel Ford, aka Airbird. Available May 24 from Software, Incursio boasts with all that next level production you have been craving and waiting for.
Off their album Loopback available May 12 from Double Denim, check out Bayou's new cut “Thugs” that does big boss things with some single-synthesizer over-dub tricks that should come as a revelation to home recorders everywhere.
Ben Asbury of Axxa/Abraxas prepares for a tour running from June 26 in Nashville, TN through July 17. If you haven't already, get entranced by the folk organ ocean parting sounds from the Captured Tracks self-titled with songs like, “I Almost Fell”.
Well$ dropped the video for “Django” that pits generals against captives and kings, from the track off the forthcoming tape titled, MTSYD: The Revenge of the African Booty Scratcher. The 19 year old emcee from North Carolina flexes some strength that takes things to basic, tribal levels, while paying tribute to Hollywood blockbusters.
Check out the Pegase video of 80s-romantic flavors from Marion Foucher for, “Old Idol”, off the self-titled album from Futur Records.
From the upcoming Kitsuné compilation: America 3, available June 2. check out the folk pop songs of circular solstices, “Karma” from the New York duo, BEAÛ.
“Pro Anti Anti” from Liars gets remixed from Factory Floor off their new album MESS. Listen as these beats get diced up and tripped up.
“Treat the Feel” and treat yourself to these vibes, off Sorceress' Dose album available May 20 from Wonderwheel Recordings. The New Zealand quintet formerly known as Funkommunity re-crafts their sound into new rising and falling feelings, ascending, then descending, then repeating that formation.
DeGreaser dropped the b/w video of crunchy and fuzzy performances for, “Follow Me Down” off the upcoming album, Rougher Squalor available from Ever/Never Records with a national tour running through May 23.
Peep the Blake Boxer video for Battlehooch's SF takeover track, “Yeah, That”, off the album Hot Lungs, available now. The semi-NSFW video creates a vision of acrobatic images that flash dances from the docks of the bay to the astral planes of prog-psychedellic visual sensory. Battlehooch plays San Francisco's The Chapel May 30.
Douglas Dare lends an early listen to, Whelm, the London artist's debut album available May 12 from Erased Tapes. Seen touring Europe with Ólafur Arnalds, Douglas crafts a series of stories from various points of view that bring the pain of existence, suffering and more in through song and sound.
Because it ain't a lo-fi celebrity party without Donovan Blanc, get a listen to the power-pop appetite of, “Hungry A Long Time”, off the self-titled available June 24 from Captured Tracks. This is the power-pop hit parade coming at you like an army of tin soldiers taking it to the analog limit.
Cruising on that P-Lo off the HBK Gang production, catch the new J Stalin cut off the fresh release, SID: Shining in Darkness, that features Lil June with, “Weird”. That Bay thing keeps on mobbin hard with that slap keeping that shine at a constant.
In case you missed it, hear the band that features Julia Louis-Dreyfus' son Henry Hall as the lead of Grand Cousin, who released an impressive pop number with, “Oxygen” that frolics through the autumn mists in the spring's morning dew. Their debut EP will be available this summer.
The Amazing Snakeheads are prepping their album Amphetamine Ballads available July 22 from Domino Records, sharing the Alan Parks video for “Flatlining”. The art-rock antics keep the action abrasive, as the scene gets seedier to those gritty guitar melodies.
The compilation Seattle Noise Vol. 1 drops May 20, featuring Childbirth, Dust Moth, Sandrider, Crypt, courtesy of Seattle's Cha Cha Lounge (also hosting the release party May 20), AVR Music and Good to Die Records. Constant Lovers blast something for you to kick out your speakers with, “A Lullabye”.
Also directed by Alan Parks and featuring The Amazing Snakeheads, get heavy and wild, wild, wild, with the visuals for, “Here It Comes Again”.
Seattle's creative synth-crafters The Lorens dropped the digital cut, “Into Your Mind” and “Out This Window”, sharing proceeds with the Landslide Relief Efforts through the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation Disaster Relief Fund. Maria Lefèvre's voice swims through the natural high and hidden registries, entering the effects chamber for the chorus, while Loren Chambers takes the production components from experimental rnb, to the free-flight of PC speaker electro-bop of “Window”. Listen further here, via Bandcamp.
Island Boy is the working moniker of Puerto Rico by San Diego's Richard Hunter-Rivera, presenting instinctual and smoldering production with, “Ashes”, from his Basic Instincts album, available June 17 from Rita Records. The synths and echo-cut ridges of vocals parrot the full-length's title while the viscous-digital mix maintains everything in a perpetual swim.
Be one of the first on your block to hear The Shilohs' self-titled album before it comes out Tuesday, May 13 from Light Organ Records. The Vancouver quartet comes at you in a bright array of different colors, and Northwest jangling strums.
Silverbird drop their debut Surface Life EP May 27, and released the anthemic single, “Honey You're” that pumps a fist of reigning glory.
Watch our friends, Unicycle Loves You fall all over themselves in their self-made video for the already super amazing, “Falling Off”. Their big album The Dead Age, mastered by Shellac's Bob Weston will be available June 10 from Highwheel Records / Mecca Lecca.
Seen touring with Elli Goulding, checkout Lovelife's epic polished pop offering of “Angel”, off their upcoming album. Ready yourself for all the trappings of radio ready slickness to saturate your ears.
Playing NYC's The Slipper Room May 29 to pop a few corks for the release of his single “She Came Along”, get a listen to the live one shot take of Ryan Hobler's “All Along” that's just a man alone and echoing his song throughout the city.
DC's quartet Priests rock the grand old parties with “Right Wing, ahead of their upcoming album, Bodies and Control and Money and Power, available June 3 from Don Giovanni / Sister Polygon. These denizens of the political central nervous system carve out their own cults of personality and garage pop portraits of demagogues.
Raise a show of hands and glasses with Noelz Vedere” Promise Land”, produced by Alex Isaak for the upcoming Bittersweet Victory album available May 20.
It's a regular light beer house party in the Ally Newbold and Neil Berthier video for Donovan Wolfington's “Keef Ripper” off their brand new Scary Stories You Tell in the Dark EP available now from Topshelf Records.
Beaty Heart deliver a video of mixed-tropical-pop offerings on the lavish video for, “Seafood” off their forthcoming album, Mixed Blessings available June 2.
Peep the Tom Ehrhardt video for, “Kairos”, from Germany's experimental heavy groovers and movers, The Nest. Get lost in the organic rhythms, organs, and weirdness that plays throughout the montage. The Nest's album, SAYWEENJOY will be available May 23.
Sail the smooth synth seas of the Silent Servant remix of Lust For Youth's “International”, off the upcoming International Remixes EP available June 10 from Sacred Bones.
Jennifer Herrema and her Black Bananas are back, in the M. Wartella laser zapped video for “Physical Emotions” off the upcoming Electric Brick Wall album available June 24 from the always illustrious and highly esteemed, Drag City.
We recently enjoyed a conversation with The Mercy Beat, and now we bring you all the electro pop sweetness and sights for the sick sounds of, “Sweet”. Their self-titled album will be available June 17 from Oskar Recordings.
In the world of Malandros from Fort Worth, TX; every day is a lazy, and shiny summer. One listen to the guitar and vocal tones on “Beautiful Girls” and “Sprinter” on the opening of their album Turned Around you will be switched on to a Texas band we all should keep close tabs on.
Exploding In Sound Records heralded the forthcoming arrival of the Famous Cigarettes EP, a cassette split featuring Bad History Month and Dust From 1000 Yrs available June 10. Spilling and strumming out something for the porch or campfire, roll one tight, lick it up, light it up, inhale, exhale, and listen to, “Smoke Em Up”.
Dizzy Wright spills something somber for all the world's recent heaviness with the new single, “Red Balloons”. Speaking from a local level of making sense of things through mourning, to the scary mass kidnapping situation in Nigeria; the mood of reflection and search for sound resolutions is highlight further by fellow Funk Volume brass DJ Hoppa on the twos and threes.
Lucius released the hand-drawn Peter Larson lyric video for “Don't Just Sit There”, off Lucius album, Wildewoman. Let Lucius open up the cold, sardine can of your heart, and tell these big-time indie pop darlings what they want to know. Find them on a big national tour with Tegan and Sara, Sara Bareilles, and The Head and the Heart.
The Skygreen Leopards bring some hippy family values and vibes with the single, “Leave The Family” from the family folk pop indie circus album, Family Crimes available July 8 from Woodsist.
Hear the good news that Gold-Bears are goiong to release their second album Dalliance June 3 on Slumberland, and to celebrate they went all out and brought the big power-powder keg of, “Yeah, Tonight”.
White Hex sent more hints of elaborations off their 2012 album Heat with the synth-siren essence on, “Gold”. The rain of keyboards reigns supreme on “Gold”, shimmering like the candy rain of synths on “Paradise“, evoking the atmospheres held over from those Paris, Berlin, New York and Melbourne shows that inspired the couple's new album. More electronic sensibilities picked from the EU, UK, to the East Coast can be found on the upcoming full-length, Gold Nights, available June 24 from Felte.
As we get closer to the may 20 release of Brett's self-titled for Cascine, we get to listen to the walk in the park that is “Lovers”, featuring label-mate Yumi Zouma's Kim Pflaum. And not unlike the timeless wonders that Yumi Zouma brings to the indie pop table, “Lovers” is the song that you swore you have known all your life and that the world is just now getting hip to and further acquainted with. Follow all of our Brett coverage here.