Week in Pop: Cotillon, Negative Death, Safari Al, Taft, TIO

Sjimon Gompers

Negative Death (from left), Zeno Pittarelli (Bad Cello, Comfy) and Paul Payabyab-Cruz (formerly of Milagres [KRS], Bear Hunt Controversy), photographed by Rebecca Turner.

Walking you into the wide world of entertainment, Impose’s Week in Pop proudly presents the latest and greatest from artists both new and familiar. With a big week in interviews and exclusives, we bring you the following top stories from the ongoing  Lil Wayne versus Birdman x Cash Money legal feud  escalating; all the hype surrounding Coachella’s announcement of sideshows; Kanye x Big Sean x Drake dropped the collaborative cut, “Blessings“; Raekwon and Ghostface Killah’s #PurpleCarpet screening reveals Only Built 4 Cuban Linx documentary; L7 reuniting with European tour and documentary in the works; Sufjan Stevens announced a tour for upcoming Carrie & Lowell album; Jesus & Mary Chain’s  Psychocandy thirtieth anniversary tour in the works; Run the Jewels dropped an interactive video; Zola Jesus performed “Nail” out in the snow; Dave Grohl will not appear in Kurt Cobain doc, Cobain: Montage of Heck; John Frusciante has an acid house album in the works; Avi Buffalo called it a day; Marion “Suge” Knight arrested for suspicion of murder after fatal hit and run in Compton; Tom Delonge got kicked out of Blink-182; and so on.

Moving the conversation forward, we are excited to bring you Cotillon, Negative Death, Safari Al, Taft, TIO, Bohkeh, Mobius, Tall Boys, Yumi Zouma, co-curated by Malportado Kids, and more, — in no particular order.

Negative Death

Negative Death (from left), Zeno Pittarelli (Bad Cello, Comfy) and Paul Payabyab-Cruz (formerly of Milagres [KRS], Bear Hunt Controversy), photographed by Rebecca Turner.

Negative Death (from left), Zeno Pittarelli (Bad Cello, Comfy) and Paul Payabyab-Cruz (formerly of Milagres [KRS], Bear Hunt Controversy), photographed by Rebecca Turner.


Introducing Negative Death, the new power collaborative project from Zeno PIttarelli (Bad Cello, Comfy), and Paul Payabyab-Cruz (formerly of Milagres [KRS], Bear Hunt Controversy) who present the world premiere of, “Burn”. The Utica by Queens duo of P.Cruz & G-SPANK have recorded an album called, Conscious Pop, to be released later this year that invokes a rebellion to discard the safety bars and defy the order of expectant expectations for a chaotic romp through the constructs that control our lives, while devising witty lyrical and production devices of dissent and dissolution.

And thus Negative Death’s “Burn” begins with Zeno introducing the track with the slowed and vocoded introduction of, “don’t you know child, the world was made for you to burn.” The production then springboards off the alternative and independent routes of new school/new rules hip-hop production that melts down abstract EDM circuits into the molten mix. “Destroying all signs of life like antibiotics,” Paul takes on every nuance of commercialized life industries packaged as a commodity, fantasies about igniting the plush interiors of fancy cars in advertisements with P.Cruz’s anti-materialism statement of, “take care your car up off the t.v., I’d like to take some gasoline and pour it in the front seat, light a match watch it burn, watch it burn…” The “it’s all ashes in the end” logic takes on a heathenish Prometheus character that runs mind and eye opening rhymes around the the big stepping electronic air where keys and notes fly all around like a swarm of digital locusts to tear down the complacent comforts of all your favorite delusions. We recently enjoyed a roundtable discussion with Paul and Zeno that immediately follows the debut of “Burn”.

How did the two of you first link up as a creative duo.

Zeno: I met Paul at college. He played in this neo-soul, hip-hop-ish, rap-rock band, and on nice days they’d be outside jamming in the quad. One day I decided to sit in with them, and we ended up playing together for a couple of years. I later found out that Paul rapped, and after hearing his verses on the Bear Hunt Controversy record, I knew I wanted to help him with his next project.

What led the two of you to choose the moniker Negative Death, and title your forthcoming release, Conscious Pop? Was it meant as some kind of commentary on conscious music, or the state/style of conscious music?

Paul: I’ve had the name Negative Death in my pocket for a while. I like that it technically means ‘life,’ but I didn’t use it because I thought it was too clever, try-hard, and could be mistook for a metal band. When working on the record I off-handedly pitched the name to Zeno and he loved it. It took a lot of me brainstorming terrible ideas and Zeno’s unwavering confidence in it to convince me that it was the right name. I’m still not convinced, but here we are. Conscious Pop is an amalgamation of tribute to the music that has inspired me lyrically, conscious hip-hop, and our attempt to make it catchy. Unconsciously, it became a commentary because most of the the music I am inspired by is lyrically cerebral, introspective, and conscious with a conscience.

I like the non-conformity of “Burn”, and that line, “that’s why I don’t give a fuck about your Range Rover, I’d rather hear cats rap about their lawnmowers” is pretty awesome. What inspired this track both in its electronicallycascading production, and defiant tone?

Paul: Ha ha, thanks! The Bad Cello line, “the world was made for you to burn” is what inspired its defiant tone. The whole song I’m talking about the realities which I believe lack compassion and get in the way of universal unity. I understand that people, including me, are indoctrinated into these states of mind and I think it’s best to let those ideas burn. That is, to be open to change and understand that what my parents, the television, and authority figures told me growing up and continue to tell me may not be true. I want to get to a point where I am completely receptive to the world and all my actions are driven by compassion. I feel like I’ve got a long way to go.

Zeno: When Paul first sent me a demo of this tune, the beat was really dark, really sparse, and really heavy. That’s not my usual style, so I tried to meet him in the middle — that’s kind of how all of the tracks worked out. I did my best to make everything accessible and danceable. I’m a fan of pop.

Where do you both find the intersections of your work from your other groups, and projects (Zeno with Bad Cello and Comfy, Paul with Milagres, and Bear Hunt Controversy)?

Paul: To be clear, I’ve recently departed from both groups. That being said they both set me on the path that led to Negative Death. Bear Hunt Controversy was the first time I felt comfortable putting music out in which I rapped. I’ve been recording my rapping for years but was always timid about it. If there was a cipher happening I’d always make sure to beat-box so that I wouldn’t have to spit. My time playing drums with Milagres helped me understand what I wanted to create. Playing music I felt creatively distant from day after day pushed me to want to finish music I could call my own. Both groups had one person in common, Fraser McCulloch. He plays bass in Milagres, and also produced and engineered Bear Hunt Controversy’s record. He taught me a lot about making music a full experience and pushed me to perform more confidently. Bad Cello’s “Finna” is what made me want to work with Zeno.

Zeno: Working on “Finna” made me a lot more comfortable with the idea of being a producer and making beats. I jumped on the opportunity to work with Paul, not just because I believe in his art, but because a hip-hop record was something I had never done before.

What else should we be expecting from the forthcoming Conscious Pop album, and what else do you have brewing with your other bands, groups, projects, etc?

Paul: From Conscious Pop you can expect more songs, lyric videos, an annotated lyric book, and performances. I’m excited about the lyric videos and book because my words are important to me and lyrics are the reason I look up to my favorite MCs. Sometimes I also worry that they can get lost in the way I rap. I think a mix of being a drummer, listening to Pharoah Monche, and compensating for my lack of confidence is why I try to be so rhythmically busy. I can’t wait to perform, I’ve been sitting behind a drum kit most of my career and I just want to jump around and dance. I have no other projects worth mentioning at the moment, but I’ve started writing the next Negative Death record.

Zeno: I’ve got a lot cooking. I’m working on two Bad Cello records, mixing Comfy’s next EP, Bad Sound has two new songs that we’re finally finishing recording, and I’m working with a dear friend, on some very, very slick pop music. I’m mixing some other stuff too. And Paul’s already writing another Negative Death record. I’m feeling very good. Music is cool.

Negative Death’s album Conscious Pop will be available later in 2015.

Cotillon

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Cotillon, aka Jordan Corso photographed by Vivian Fu.

Cotillon, the nom de plume for Jordan Corso’s labor of love saw the release of his Chet “JR” White produced self-titled debut album for Burger Records this week, and we are proud to present the vintage glamor and classic flickering glove from Laura-Lynn Petrick’s video for “Before”. The artist himself who fashions his art (and Facebook) with images and aesthetics of the nouvelle vague mixes the retro/Euro movie model with a California sound narrative about a life lived in, and fashioned by pictures.

Through the camera lens of Laura-Lynn, old film fascinations blend into the new enchantment of over-exposed moving photographs of the sun, beach side beautification, water gazing, home films, candid scenes, and intimate moments of shared spaces, graces and the like. The maudlin melodies, and chord interplay explores the intimate intersection of interpersonal relationships that questions the befores and afters that affect the most sensitive and serious states of affinity. The sound design overseen by JR provides a soundtrack that stands on its own, where Laura-Lynn Petrick brings out the illustrations of point to the pains of falling in love, as Jordan sings; “She woke up perfect every morning,” to the unnerved and saddened suspicious minded inquiries that asks, “how many have been here before?” The histories are recited in the back up chorus of vocals that utter the title of “Before”, as the new wave cinema for all the senses plays out in both a decadent and devastating view. [see also Cotillon’s heartbreaking single, “Left Bank“] Cotillon’s Jordan Corso joins in the following interview after the premiere, to provide some making of the album anecodtes, and more.

Interested in hearing about how the bedroom project of Cotillon first came about before it became its own full blown collective of sorts.

Well one day I just decided to go for it and take the music out of the house. I hustled relentlessly for a solid year. I studied the town, picked people’s brains, met all the talent buyers. I found the best musicians to play with me and best studios to record in. We played as many shows as possible meeting everyone I could along the way that could help us. In the first year I wrote two records and played 50 times. It doesn’t happen on accident.

So tell us how the you first met up with JR, and how his production contributions enhanced the groups sound, and the experience of recording the full length with members of The Modern Lovers, Garrett Goddard, King Tuff, GIRLS, etc, etc?

I met JR through Brian Hughes who runs Castle Face records. Brian was helping me find a producer and JR responded to an email he sent him, next thing I knew when were having lunch at Cafe Stella in Silverlake, and we had a really good time talking music and life. He saw us play a few nights later during a residency we had at the echo and committed to the project. I was pumped.

In the studio [JR] wanted full take performances out of the band. He wouldn’t let us chop anything up. I think he did a good job at making the record really sound like us. He has excellent taste, and a unique production style that really helped us shine.

Recording with Danny and Garrett was a fun time. They both played on Girls records that JR produced, so he was familiar with their strengths and had a good idea of how to utilize them. I can’t say enough about what JR brought to the table though. He really hooked it up for me.

The cult of Cotillon's Jordan Corso. (press photo courtesy of the artist)

The cult of Cotillon’s Jordan Corso. (press photo courtesy of the artist)

I’m mesmerized by the Laura-Lynn Petrick video for “Before”, how did this video connection come about, and what bearing do you feel the visuals have on the music for you?

We were playing some west coast dates with Quilt when I met Laura-Lynn, she was touring with them. She had some really cool film cameras and I asked if she could take some pictures of me for some upcoming press I was going to do. Later I noticed she had a website with incredible work and I asked if she could conceptualize something for us and just trusted that based off her other stuff I was going to like whatever she made. A few weeks later we had a finished video, I pretty much had nothing to do with it, and loved the idea of giving someone that freedom. She’s a very talented photographer.

Favorite anecdotes of running around between LA and the Mission with JR and the gang that you care to share?

I really liked when JR would cook for us at his house. He is an insane chef, some of my favorite meals now are things he threw together after long sessions in the studio. Anchovy pasta, pumpkin curry, crab salad etc. He also had this idea to put fruity pebbles in the vaporizer one night that was kind of genius.

2015 plans, hopes, and wishes for Cotillon and the world?

See the world touring, make another record, and enjoy every minute of this incredibly lucky opportunity. This record would never have been made without the encouragement of my closest friends and family.

The Cotillon self-titled album is available now from Burger Records.

Safari Al

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You already know of Safari Al (aka Alexander Kollman) of the Dilla Gents, and recent anti-band project Red Wall, and today Al premieres the Cool Reve directed video for “Jungle Dreams”. The LA based artist’s adventures through San Francisco’s Chinatown are captured through various film speeds, angles, perspectives, where the dream-like production and and head spaces brought by Al’s delivery and hypnotic beats are expertly applied to the visual frame.

Safari Al takes to the main strip of Chinatown’s Grant Street, and funky alley ways, stepping forward with a quest for solidarity, rocking effervescent rhythms and blues that ask for a bit of backup from a few good friends. Al and company take to the colorful sidewalks and streets in modes of slow motion, real time, and altered effects where ripples in the percolating mix are mirrored by Cool Reve’s videography. The timeless quality from one of San Francisco’s oldest neighborhoods provides a clock freezing effect, for Safari Al’s testaments and tests of friendship that beg the rhetoric of, “if you’re really my boy, come back me, come back me…” Following the video premiere of “Jungle Dreams”, we were able to have a brief chat with Al about the making of the video, and more.

Tell us about making the Cool Reve video for “Jungle Dreams” in the heart of the urban jungle in SF’s Chinatown district.

I was on the road accompanying SB the Moor along a costal zig zag, and we had some time to lull in the Bay. I decided to capitalize on these loose hours with rap video grandeur. To speak on the making of this particular video is to speak on Cool Reve giving me a humongous alley-oop. She held a very real confidence about her vision for the video and that resonated with me, so I decided to wear multiple hairstyles.

The atmosphere on the production for “Jungle Dreams” matches that hectic environment of SF’s Chinatown, where you feel that urgency and necessity of needing someone to back you up while caught in the density of such a condensed area/city.

In one part of the video a real bird actually flies out from behind me and it’s when I’m wearing the side-pony. Cool Reve encouraged me to rap in traffic.

We’re still enjoying your Restless release, what can you tell us about what else is in the works? Dig your stuff with the Dilla Gents, and the recent anti-band collab with milo, Red Wall too.

The restless EP has a counterpart EP called fear, uncertain. The two were not conceived as being such, but both were born from the same climate and were made in similar manners — rapidly. They play well together, too, weighing well against one another. Noah B out of NY handles most of the smithy on the project and so it has become distinct, because he is a distinct talent. I’ll drop FU sometime during February I expect.

Listen to more from Safari Al via Bandcamp.

Tio

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Having emerged this winter with the single “Lips Like Wine“, the elusive and ultra-mysterious Toronto artist known as TIO has entertained the cold of winter with freezing atmospheres and synth programming while expressing a warm, romantic core. On the world premiere of “A Simple Way”, those synthesizers and keys become treated and blanketed through an electric hum, and keyboard zapping rattle. Deceptively titled “A Simple Way”, TIO’s deep bass penetrating production and expressive song deals with matters and things that are anything but simple.

Like a swarm of electrical locusts or crackling power lines, TIO begins the heavy hitting percussion like a hard rain of lead-weighted canon balls falling upon beds of quicksand. That buzzing and hissing core becomes an odyssey for sub bass as the complications set in, as TIO vocals provide at times a tortured tenor, to what later in the track sounds like a duet with a falsetto fashioned other. The tensions engulf toward the second half of “A Simple Way” like forsaken lovers that lose themselves and each other after being swallowed whole in a blizzard of cruel elements, and the inability to navigate together on their self-obstructed and obfuscated paths. We tried to get a deeper inside of the track, and attempted to get to know TIO as well in the interview that follows this premiere:

How did TIO begin?

TIO began in the seasonal shifts and discomfort of our changing city. New and old alike. Old friends, re-imagined. We began by describing our change to each other and then following our hearts.

Who is behind TIO really?

TIO has remained a bit of a mystery for the sole purpose of letting the sound speak for itself. There is freedom in that. Also we are not a fantasy, we are music people, regular in that way.

Tell us about your experience of merging your vision with Roger Leavens.

Our vision was to create a mood: a feeling that was linked across all the songs we wrote. We have so many directions pushing and pulling us artistically that Roger Leavens became our rock. He provided the tonal consistency in the aesthetic quality of the sound that enabled us to focus on other aspects of the creative process.

What were the complications and simplicities at work on the making of the incredible “A Simple Way” single?

Capturing intent and re-working the pieces until it matches the core intent is always a process. Also, translating the subtleties and strangeness of heartbreak is the pursuit.

What is the latest from the Toronto scene?

We are only marginally plugged in and there is such a confluence and cross section of amazing worlds, all mixing. We are only somewhat connected to that. We are kind of coming out of some strange cavern or singular world I think.

Lesser known Toronto artists that you dig, and the world needs to know about

ZIGI (new Shamanic Buddhist house music duo coming out soon).

What’s next for TIO?

More film/video and music and shows and we have a large cache of music which is being edited and sifted through and turned into an EP. So much material; the mission is to create a cohesive story while we remain true to our unfolding process, which is bringing us to some amazing places, external and internal.

Taft

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Taft has joined the the Punctum Records family, premiering the full album stream of their upcoming LP, Groove Redundant prior to the February 10 release date. The Austin by NYC group is lead by the artist of the band’s namesake, along with friends Andrew, Josh, Max, and Ryan to create strings of serious to whimsical personal narratives, thoughtful, along with heart penned trajectories that soar through evocative channels. The band’s own proclivities toward creative arrangements, and self-designed structures blend chamber folk pop into the bedroom born stream of thoughts that connects the creative states of New York and Texas.

Groove Redundant sets the scene with “The Pharmacy”, a ballad that begins the album with the initiating refrain of “I’m turning the key” that turns the pages from yesterday to the never ending possibilities of new chapters, and new leafs. Winter feelings abound on the warm sweater wrap, “Pillars Of Duh”, sinking further into the songwriter pop of 70s styled pop on the ode to eternal awkwardness on, “2 Left Feet” that fits into any decade. “City of Towers” evokes everything from the skyscrapers of NYC to the rapid development of the Austin skyline that chimes with a power pop mode of observations and embraces of town and country life with memorable lines like, “outside the brightest lights are still somewhere just out of reach.” Sacred places sensitive states are sung on “Paranoia and Fear”, to the sparse and slow conscious sailing, “(Living In A) Waking Dream”, to the moon bound hoping planet hopper, “Drake”, to the proggy pop of “Bell Has No Ring”. And that’s right about when “I Button Up My Shirt” pops out of nowhere, an electro stomper that is ready for indie dance discotheques everywhere that edify the cults of overt and excessive self-awareness. And then back to Taft’s penchant for the pastoral; “Pool Floaties” floats off into the distance as the remembered processes of learning to swim are echoed in the closing chords along the infinite pool of organ etched notes. We caught up with the frontman Taft himself, after this exclusive listen to Groove Redundant.

Take us to the steps in writing Groove Redundant in Austin, Brooklyn, upstate New York, to bringing it to life with Brian Bender on production.

I moved to New York in May of 2012 with no intention of writing or recording, much less for a proper release. Inevitably, my imagination continued to return to songs and music, so I started cobbling together bits and pieces of songs. Several of the tunes that made the cut for Groove Redundant began in this fashion. “Pillars of Duh”, “City of Towers”, “Pool Floaties”, and “Paranoia and Fear” are all byproducts of this process, the completion of which spanned at least a year of time and several different living and writing environments. In some cases, rough forms migrated from Austin and adapted to the New York mindset, which definitely proved to be to the benefit of the songs. New York is hard on everything, including music, but its dynamism also breathed life into songs that I thought lifeless.

In October of 2013, I took a small trip to a cabin in upstate New York armed with minimal recording gear. The place had a piano and some shakers, plenty of books, and a lot of solitude. The most concise songs were written in these conditions. “2 Left Feet”, “(Living In A) Waking Dream”, and “Bell Has No Ring” are all from this trip. I would go hiking for a few hours, and then write and record well into the night, stopping to listen to Alec Baldwin’s radio podcast and eat. It was an intense time because up until then, I had spent nearly all my time in the density of Manhattan and Brooklyn, so being alone was quite a shock.

I met Bender really soon after I first moved to New York, having been referred to him by a mutual friend and musician. I was looking for something to be involved with, and he was gracious enough to let a novice like myself apprentice for him. He taught me so much, and mostly by example at that. I got to help with some really special projects that I’ll never forget. For the year and a half that I apprenticed for him, I met some of the most amazing musicians and folks involved in music, including Jon Anderson, who mixed this record as well as Intarsia, our last EP. By February 2014, my life was changing again, and a lot of things were coming to a close, including my time at the studio. I had these songs, so I asked Bender if he would let my band fly in from Austin and record with him there, family style. He said, ‘duh’ and we laid down basics in five days. His influence can be heard across the whole record. Bender has immaculate taste, and can apply it with broad strokes or narrow strokes. We took some more days together, just him and I, to do overdubs and vocals, which was a much breezier process that I could have hoped for.

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What entails your own creative and personal song composition process?

I’ve never considered my strengths to lie in the ability to perform an instrument well, or even to write songs well. That being said, I have always had a very active imagination. In the moments between laying down for bed and actually falling asleep, I will get some wild input for songs, mostly in the form of images. A lot of my songs and sounds come from these impulses, which don’t really have any conceptual center. So, often times, my process doesn’t begin with an instrument in hand. I remember Townes Van Zandt saying that “Pancho and Lefty” was written in a dream, and I really relate to that. My best stuff, the stuff with the most replay value, bypasses the filter that applies sensibility to decisions. With that in mind, I am a tireless editor. Almost every song on the album has upwards of five or six distinct versions. For better or worse, I will work and rework and scrap ideas with absolute ruthlessness. This doesn’t mean that the first iteration won’t end up being chosen, but I’m often too excited to let it stop at that. This process serves me well, so long as I can set the limits of my writing time before I bring other collaborators in on the experience.

I that like your scope traverses both the internal and external spectrums, the interior spaces that are entertained on “The Pharmacy”, “Paranoia and Fear”, “Pool Floaties”, to the exteriors on “City Of Towers”, “I Button Up My Shirt”, and more. How does a song make its way from being an idea, a sketch on paper, to a fully realized, arranged, full orchestration?

I make my best effort to proscribe rigidity from a song’s path. I am often looking for areas where I can edit out more of my heavy handedness. A song will often begin as a melody that entered my head, which maybe gets transcribed onto a voice memo for later. I seem to write choruses or big moments first, so I will find myself working backwards to encompass where a song might begin. Really, it’s the blind leading the blind out here. In the case of the album, the sheer amount of talent that is represented in performance, production, mixing and mastering cannot be understated with regards to pushing everything into a final crystalline posterity. I can’t even imagine the songs being anything other than what they are now.

Any lesser sung artists you have discovered between your Austin by NYC, and upstate NY adventures that you want to recognize?

I learned about Lip Talk while living in NYC. They were performing as Railbird! at Rockwood in the Lower East Side the first time that I saw them. I fell in love immediately and proceeded to go to all of their shows. I was thrilled and honored to learn of their partnership with Punctum Records a few months after first seeing them. There was a while where I had friends coming into town pretty regularly and I would be like, “We have to see this band that I discovered! They’re gonna blow your mind!” So yeah. There is a wild amount of musical projects happening in Central Texas right now, and all of them are quite distinct from each other. I have had the great pleasure of getting to know Lomelda, who play in Austin frequently.

What’s next in the cards for Taft and the gang?

We are currently preparing our release show for Groove Redundant, which is happening on February 12th at Cheer Up Charlie’s in Austin. I haven’t taken a break from writing, so there is a wealth of new material to begin properly recording. I’ve been listening to a lot of 70s soul and funk lately, so I’m sure that will come across on the new material. We have some time set aside this spring to lay down basics for the next collection of songs, which I hope to have out before 2016!

Taft’s album Groove Redundant will be available February 10 from Punctum Records.

Bohkeh

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Meet LA’s Bohkeh, the operative handle of artist Rj Lim who premieres the brand new track, “Girl, I’m In Love”, that mixes water elements with sample and drum works while experimenting with electronic artifices. Known for his Soundcloud posted remixes of folks like Giraffage and ILOVEMAKONNEN, and more; his work leans towards pausing the the unstoppable momentum of a track’s percussion, bit rate, and nearly everything else that goes into pudding of the production.

And that’s when “Girl, I’m In Love” begins its five minute ode to amour that conjures together mental images of natural tropical waterfalls and beachfront paradises to the sound of the most affectionate scene from a movie, prime time soap opera, or art film that exudes an infinite aura everlasting beauty. The title is reiterated through a well used sample loop that brings the inexplicable joy of met desires to an audio form of representation. The keyboard notes chime a collection of melodies like ecstatic couples dancing down a road made of toy pianos and synthesizer keys that very in blissed tones. The cloud and vapor wafted production points to exciting things to come from the Bohkeh project, as Rj plans to release a debut EP February 27. We discussed matters further in our interview featured after the debut of “Girl I’m In Love”.

Tell us how you got caught up in this whole bedroom beat thing, what first inspired you to take up these rhythmic productions, and so on?

Growing up, music had always been a big part of my life in the aspect that I’ve always tried to make music with anything I can get my hands on. I wrote music with my guitar for a good while until I saved up enough money to get myself a computer and a midi controller. I would stay up all night watching tutorials on how to produce music and learn different kinds of techniques.

How do you approach your own rhythm craft, and what processes, inspirations, and more are at work when you draft, practice, and record?

My inspiration would come from whatever I’m listening to at the moment, or whatever I hear in my head. I tend to daydream a lot about different progressions, melodies, and drums. When this happens, I try to compose it right away so that I don’t forget.. I like writing my melody before anything else because it kinda determines what I’m feeling.

How has being in LA impacted your creative sensibilities?

Just being surrounded by plenty of artists and musicians for sure. But usually I feel like I’m at my best when I’m alone in my room where I can you know, be my complete self.

What has been blowing your mind in the worlds of scene undergrounds, surface level over-grounds, and folks taking it to the next level?

It blows my mind how fast everything is evolving! Music nowadays completely has no rules, which I think is pretty dope because that’s how we, as artists, can experiment and take it to the next level. I hear some pretty interesting stuff online and I’m like “damn thats possible?!” hahah. So yea it’s pretty crazy, but I like it.

What are some of the greatest things about the LA scene right now in your opinion?

I love the underground music scene here. There are plenty of venues and clubs that give upcoming artists and bands great opportunities. I like going to the Low End Theory Club that happens every Wednesday. It’s always a good time and I love being inspired by the experimental sounds.

What’s next for Bohkeh?

I do have my debut EP releasing February 27 so I’m pretty excited for that. I also have a show on Feb. 5th to promote the EP. After that, I’d like to play more shows locally while working on a new project I have in mind. Im thinking of releasing an EP during the summertime but we’ll see what happens. Im still in the learning process so I still got a long way to go. So far, I’m loving every minute of it.

Bohkeh creative, personal, musical, mission statement?

I don’t really have one, but just be yourself at all times. Ha ha.

Bohkeh’s debut EP will be available February 27. Listen to more via Soundcloud.

Tall Boys

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From Brattleboro, VT; introduce yourselves to the weirdness and fun of Tall Boys, made up of Ian McPherson, and produced by Great Valley’s Peter Nichols. Releasing their debut pro-dubbed pink cassette tape as a two way between Gnar Tapes and Peter’s own Spooky Town Tapes imprint; McPherson’s pop affinities are mixed with the Nichols method of reverse engineering radio gold for the alternative sects. And so it harmonizes through the electro shambles of “Cruisin 4 U”, keeping the emotional rawness and realness rocking on the romantic, “More U”, the heart beat-drum machine thumper, “Wild at Heart”, among other instant indie hits. Peter gave us the following scoop on the new project with the following history of Tall Boys:

I got my first credit as “producer” on this awesome full-length tape that just came out from LA’s Gnar Tapes and my own label Spooky Town, and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done! Tall Boys are the songs of Ian McPherson, a local Stevie Nicks fanatic who started writing his own songs only a couple years ago, after impersonating Debbie Harry in a Halloween cover band. His songs always struck me as heartfelt and endearing and catchy. Kind of like an un-ironic but thankfully not-too-successful imitation of Top 40 pop.


Yumi Zouma

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Word is out that Yumi Zouma’s upcoming EP II 10″ will be available March 10 from Cascine, delivering the sublime and beautifully strange video, “Catastrophe” (that follows on the heels of the beautiful “Alena” single) as the first of two part short film from director Allie Avital Tsypin’s Bangs film crew based out of Brooklyn. Tapping back into that active edge of embracing existence that made the debut Yumi Zouma EP one of our most favorite things in the world—”Catastrophe” blends a beautiful song of woe and wonder with Tsypin’s visuals that involved a cafe looming hoodied hacker that taps into a supernatural humanist port. Stay with us after the jump for an exclusive Yumi Zouma interview you won’t read anywhere else.

The following interview over multiple long-distance cables was done via the following poetic form that the band introduced to us with the following:

Interviews are fun
Sometimes we do lots of them
Haiku’s keep us sane

How do you all feel Yumi Zouma has grown in the expanse of time between EPs I & II for you all?

Time spent together
In apartments and the air
We are still the same

Reflections on what 2014 was like for you all, favorite memories perhaps, and the Yumi Zouma vision for 2015?

Lots of surprises
Gothenburg was a dream boat
Tomorrow is here

yumi zouma week in pop 2

How did the two part film short music video form with Allie Avital Tsypin & the Bangs crew come about, and what can you tell us about what’s going on here with this supernatural, fainting business?

Time to sleep is now
I wish I could tell you why
I am still unsure

What hints can you share about Part II of this two-part series?

Patience is the key
Bangs is very talented
We are excited

Current shared mantras from inside the Yumi Zouma clique you all can share?

One love is the best
Share yourself with all the world
Love all to be free

Yumi Zouma’s EP II will be available March 10 from Cascine.

Mobius

mobius week in pop 1
I discovered Mobius over a conversation with The Use’s Michael Durek, who described an artist of interest he met while at a VIP party who was chatting it up with the Brainfeeder inner sanctum, Thundercat and Flying Lotus. Durek introduced himself over a conversation about the viola that lead to Michael’s curation of Mobius’s Until Next Time EP for Alrealon Musique. The following five tracks you are about to experience have already been lauded with tags like jazz fusion, hip hop, and electronica — but what is at work here is the verge of a new sound as Michael describes in the following:

‘But what artists are taking creative risks these days? Who is doing that?’ An associate asked me rhetorically. Of course she’s talking about her world — people who have been productized by mass media. Laughter is my only response. The world is full of people forging new paths and creating their own genres. With that, I announce my curated digital series on Alrealon Musique, bringing some of them to you. Embracing new techniques, informed by history. Jaded? Come discover.

And here you will discover the opening suite, “Why This Way” that sounds like it could have been at home with the latest, baddest, and raddest Lee Bannon release. As solar flares shoot across the mind’s visual spectrum, time slows down to the discreet horn heralded glow on, “Gettin Some Love”, while “Us” spins the dial back to the days of 70s hit parades that sounds straight off top shelf, high end strutting vintage 12″. The fusions of New Orleans funk and rare grooves get an even rare treat on the future classic of past re-inventions on, “Wishdom”, before you are floored by the lo-fi/no-fi/weird fi universe of, “Crimson (Last Wishes)”, that has to be heard to be believed. Following your journey through Mobius’s Until Next Time, we invite you to check out our interview with the artist himself.

How did the Mobius project first materialize?

I was making music on my own for about four years under various different names, just for myself really. The name came to me one day and it stuck. Felt the most fitting, and still does.

How do you describe the musical synthesis at work that lead your creative hand on Until Next Time that runs from, “Why This Way”, to “Crimson (Last Wishes)”?

It was all inspired from just everyday life. Most of the songs were recorded one day after the other, in the same order as the track listings. Except for the first two, which are flipped.

Describe your own instrumentation method, and how you make these blends so interwoven in such a mind circling manner.

It all comes from just jamming with Ableton. Overdubbing different ideas and seeing what sticks. I try to vary the linear feel of most modern electronic music by using analog instruments, and using more “traditional” arrangement patterns.

Desert island obscure discs, or favorite go-to records?

Favorite go to records are Heavy Weather by Weather Report, Acquiring the Taste by Gentle Giant, and Ghettoville by Actress. I could live off just those for a while.

Other things to expect from Mobius in the near future, collaborations, albums, tours, etc?

I’ve got some sort of a collab with a few people. Most notably The Use from Alrealon Musique label. Also working to release a small beattape kinda set. I’m still scheming on a full album, but that’s more long term. No tours on the horizon just yet, but it’s only a matter of time now.

Mobius’ Until Next Time EP is available now from Alrealon Musique & Bandcamp.

Madison, Wisconsin’s Paul Smirl of Vein Rays reached out to us over the past week, sharing his new single,”Lay Way Down”, to provide the sound of what winter 2015 truly feels like. From the upcoming All In My Head EP; the echoes and overdubs interlink chords and xylophone percussion that reverberate with home a spun sense of treasury and cabin touched care. Paul wrote us the following blurb about the making of the All In My Head EP and more:

The recording of the All In My Head EP was really performance-based. I had been playing solo acoustic shows for about a year and I wanted to make a record that captured the rawness of my live show with some additional layers that would blow everything up. My collaborator JP Merz and I ended up making a 6-song album that is pretty dense and features a lot of different sounds. It started with just voice and guitar and then we tried out instruments like viola, melodica, and bells, and then eventually dove into some heavy electronics for some tracks. Even with a lot of experimentation, almost every take on the record is a first take. Half of the vocals for “Lay Way Down” were recorded spontaneously in my living room for instance. I just thought of some new melodies and textures, told my roommate to close his door and sang.

Yonatan Gat (of Monotonix and solo fame) has been busy recording Director with the great Chris Woodhouse at the Dock Studio, readying it for release March 3 on Joyful Noise. Listen as Yonatan does a free improvisational take with his band that naturally crunches the various world flying styles together into the consice and neat constraints of a three minutes and fourteen seconds cut. Backed by the rhythm enforcement of Sergio Sayeg, and Gal Lazer; Gat’s guitar runs wild with the cohesion and anchor brought by Sayeg and Lazer’s sharp, free form elasticity to bind the constant, unbridled wattage of pure electricity. Catch Yonatan on tour through March 28 playing select gigs with Of Montreal and Deerhoof.


With their ultra-glam-pop video for “Hesitation” featured in the previous Week in Pop, LA’s Dear Boy shared with us some exclusive words on all of their latest happenings.

We wanted to write a song about that perfect time in life when no doubts or fears or truths about love exist, only passion and belief. It’s the moment before the world reveals that love is both bliss and loss and it’s a moment that we take for granted. Not to be obvious and use the title of the song, but it seems that we hesitate instinctively, unconsciously, holding off that step into reality.

We collaborated again with Baley Wynn, who we’ve worked with on all of our videos. She has an uncanny sense of what the band is and we feel so lucky that she’s still up for it. This is also the first time we will be performing in one of our videos, so the world will finally know my cup size.

Before we head to SXSW, we’ll be performing here in Los Angeles then heading up the coast to play some cities we’ve never been to before. We’re almost finished writing the first Dear Boy full length record and Austin is going to get a haircut at some point, but we’ll have to see what the schedule looks like.

For good people with “Bad Blood”, we got the spoken word organ-tripper from Fred Thomas from the forthcoming album, All Are Saved out April 7 from Polyvinyl Records. The downpour of anecdotes ignites the ears and frontal lobes with the kind of over-stimulation that recalls incidents, times, places, people, connections, where the past comes crashing like an errant comet into the future crater basin called the present.

Rebecca Orchard combines archival footage for Rupert Thomas, aka Leaving’s “Modern Version”, from the Clean Waters cassette available from Pouring Dream. The Perth, Western Australia artist’s electro ambient instrumental odes to modern scientific systems of the known and unknown charts is given a barrage of vintage visual looks that display the natural order of plants, and their interaction with the wide world around them.

Sitting at the left hand of Lucifer’s side; Sweden’s psych rockers of the irreverent orders, Holy bring some stoned-home-tape-dubbed-psych with, “Demon’s Hand” off the upcoming album, Stabs, available March 11 from PNKSLM Recordings / Ny Våg Records. The vibes of bedroom recording projects heard the world over traverse toward the Northern hemispheres where the great global push to turn back the hands of time to summon a previous or unknown era continues forth.

Montréal Marie Davidson’s shared the video for “Balade Aux USA” off the upcoming album, Un Autre Voyage, available April 14 from Austin imprint, Holodeck Records. The Kaspar’89 video takes the artist’s electro frequencies and Franco steeped recitations into a mesh of video segments, decadent, cosmic visuals and an assemblage of Marie’s “Sweetie Boys”, and more. This is what the future-tek glamor poetry is all about.

Tucson, AZ psych lords The Myrrors are releasing Arena Negra March 24 for Beyond Beyond is Beyond, and we have the slow tripping Spanish spiritual mantra, “Juanito Laguna”. Catch them playing Levitation (Austin Psych Fest) this year, along with upcoming Arizona shows with Moon Duo and Destruction Unit.

Buffalo, NY’s own Pseudo Slang dropped the “Gotstaget Europa Digest” to promote their “Psychilic Europa Tour 2015” with European dates running through February 18, that lends vibrations of the artists’ lives in transit, on the go, on tour, while always reflecting.

East London’s Shamz Le Roc dropped her new single, “Bus Route”, that drifts conversations and song behind the busiest buslines off her upcoming Incipio EP. Herda Vim supplies the production of conscious sailing frequencies for Le Roc’s thoughts that dwell upon a certain special someone while keeping everything enriched a vague ether.

OOFJ is back, annaouncing their forthcoming album, Acute Feast for release April 21 from Ring The Alarm / Fake Diamond Records, presenting their new single, “I Forgive You”. Power couple Jenno Bjørnkjær and Katherine Mills-Rymer return with their signature electro sound that synthesizes the systems of forgiveness, the difficulties of forgiveness, and the complicated heavy weights that bend and twist the scales of deep seeded sentiments.

Off his forthcoming album Sunshine Redux for Bloodmoss Records that follows up Melbourne; Jackson Scott dropped the scuzz drenched gem, “Pacify”, giving us yet another reason to love the Asheville, NC hero. Don’t miss our premiere of his band Calypso’s Oracle EP from Atelier Ciseaux.

Playing a handful of west coast dates in February and April; check out Stones Throw‘s new signee Alexander Brettin, aka Mild High Club and we bring you a listen to the freshly released 7″ of stoned, psych-soul wonders of the weird and chill—”Windowpane”.

Cast off the traces of guilt with the epic power ballad, “Blameless” from CaveofswordS, readying their album Sigils for release March 10 from Boxing Clever Records. The dramatic pop theatrics pound a fist as Sunyatta McDermott sways through the rich atmospheres with the reiterations of, “I don’t blame you” that travel like smoke to the empty heavens.

Check out the down home vibes on Nadastrom’s fresh new track, “House Shoes” ft. Nina K, ahead of the upcoming Nadastrom album available February 23 from Friends of Friends / Dubsided. Nina’s vocal’s cascade up and down the electronic decorum decorated and created by Nadastrom that keeps the house based slippers twisting on the floor with only the fanciest of footwork.

Louisville, Kentucky’s Twin Limb appeared on our radars over the past weekend, who gave us the haunted, ethereal majesty and wonder of “Long Shadow” that lingers long in the mind, and memory with the synth and percussive sweeps that underscore the reiterations of, “this too shall pass…” Keep an ear out for an upcoming release date from the band expected before this year’s SxSW.

Alex Luciano with Noah Bowman of Earl Boykins are New Paltz, NY’s Diet Cig who are readying their Over Easy EP for release February 24 from Father / Daughter Records. You heart and mind are about to be captured in a sound soaked in that Christopher Daly sound from Salvation Recording Co. (Porches., Quarterbacks, Earl Boykins, etc), where the inquiring lyrics of “does it feel better, to be in an Ivy League sweater?” will stay with you for days, months, and year.

Lady Lazarus’ forthcoming album Miracles will be available March 3 from Queen’s Ransom. Listen as the glow of tomorrow, today and yesterday’s sensibilities burn with the realness and beauty that is exclusive to Melissa Ann Sweat’s sound. Follow the road to Miracles in all of our LL coverage.

With word of an album dropping April 7, we just got hipped to the lovely, leisure, and lush sound of Mariage Blanc, sharing the gentle-sung emotions that glimmer on the single, “Blue Eyes”. The singer-songwriter traditions from the soft sides of the 70s echo a far-off influence that takes all the yearnings for yesterdays, and yesteryears forward to a pleasant, and cherished future.

Chris Weisman shared some sincerely strummed melodies and wisdom with the single, “Don’t Be Slow”, off the upcoming NNA Tapes album, The Holy Life That’s Coming available Febuary 26. The Brattleboro, VT artist of great proliferation known for such eccentric and innovative things like an 88-song YouTube release titled, Maya Properties, continues to keep the art of holistic discovery strumming through the craft of song.

In Tall Buildings let out something to wheep along to with the moving single, “Bawl Cry Wail,” taken from the forthcoming album, Driver, available February 17 from Western Vinyl.

With his solo EP available in May, check out the burden lifting PMA electro pop from Stefan Pruett on the track “Carefree” that seeks to find those carefree corners and places where all cares and stress are alleviated off the overburdened shoulders of the artist and all who listen.

Keeping up with Suburban Living, we present you a listen to a stream of the self-titled available now from PaperCup Music. Virginia by Philly’s Wesley bunch follows up his debut from 2012’s Cooper’s Dream with the post-punk luster of “Faded Lover”, the new-new waves of the fast tempos on, “New Strings”, the danger zone of “Wasted”, the dream canon of “Dazed”, the water-whirlpool rock on, “Drowning”, upping the dance ante of “No Fall”, the ambient “Hotel Unizo”, to the Eastern shore dreams that permeate the finale, “Different Coast”. Check out our recent discussion in our interview feature with Wesley here.

Life Size Maps are preparing their self-titled LP for release April 7 from Old Flame Records, and we have the illuminating sounds from Mike McKeever, Dave Stoecker, Sean Thornton, Rob Karpay on, “Strange Obsessions” that keeps the moods beautiful, brilliant, weird and echoing the sentiments, “as long as we’re alive” long into the faded distance.

Vanessa Robinson of Bay Bands Blood Sister, CIVIC, Drifting House Collective, Symbolick Jews, and more is Cassandra, prepping for a tape release show at SF’s Thee Parkside March 19 (the last show with musical partner Charlemagne Charmaine). Senses of wonder and belonging intersect with the opener, “Belong”, where the synth and drum machine flare fires forward into the electro odyssey of “Trip Too”, the hoppy masquerade ball “Disguise”, to the fast flipping footwork on the closing number, “Dance Again”. Must hear.

Hayden dropped the track, “Nowhere We Can’t Go”, that pounds out some piano and synth notes of insistence, perseverance and reverent dedication from his upcoming Arts & Crafts album, Hey Love, available March 24.

Our SF buds Two Gallants are releasing their album, We Are Undone February 3 on ATO Records, and we have a listen to the heavy rocking, “Incidental”. In a recent candid conversation with Tyson Vogel, we learned about the thrills, advantures and challenges of recording the album at Panoramic House in Stinson Beach with the venerable Karl Derfler, listening to Adam and Tyson’s testament of blood, sweat, tears, and SF steeped sound.

Get cosmic with some Detroit by Brooklyn transcendentalism on “The New Baktun” (featuring Kyp Malone) from Santiparro’s upcoming album debut, True Prayer, available February 24 from Gnome Life Records. Press play, and let the out of body experience take over your ears and being, courtesy of Alan Scheurman’s guidance from the shamanic spiritual vizier, Maestro Manuel Rufino. Enter the cosmic, now.

Föllakzoid’s III will be available March 31 from Sacred Bones, and once again you are invited to enter the entrancing and alluring side of underground and out of mind, indie Santiago, Chile.

Lending some of that new chamber essence, May provides something for the weekend with the piano dotted deco of, “Sunday Night” that gives some pertinence and emotional weight to the lesser sung evening that initiates the new week.

With a listen to their new 12″ single “Joe”, Detroit’s trio of electric dissonance and deconstructive beats Jamaican Queens continue to give you something to rattle up your noggin, that makes you rattle the bars around your own personal cage.

Peep the humorous Bryan Schlam video for Jeff Rosenstock’s “Nausea” from the upcoming album, We Cool? available March 3 from SideOneDummy that involves everything from confetti vomiting, violent crowd hecklers, a knife party that gets out of hand, and some serious sentiment that lies beneath the poppy hooks with the memorable chorus line that goes: “I got so tired of discussing my future, I started avoiding the people I love…”

Malportado Kids’ Week in Pop

Malportado Kids
Malportado Kids, the duo of Joey DeFrancesco and Victoria Ruiz (also of Downtown Boys) are poised to release one of the most anticipated albums of 2015, and we proudly present their following Week in Pop co-curation:

Theme is: #LISTENTOYOURFRIENDS

There is a network of radical people across the country making powerful, inspiring, and usually underpublicized music. It is an ever-strengthening movement. It is too far reaching and multifaceted to carry a single name. We support each other. #LISTENTOYOURFRIENDS

Busted Outlook, “Caring For a Friend”

Abdu Ali, “Machete Warz” (produced by Schwarz)

Moor Mother Goddess x DJ Haram, “45 Special”

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Fleabite, “I want you in my room”

G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit), “Masculine Artifice”

Sourpatch, Crushin’

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Try The Pie, “Unpronounced”

HDXD, “Cabrito Asado”

Sneaks, “This Is”

Priests, “And Breeding” (Live at the Wilderness Bureau)

Listen to more from Malportado Kids via Bandcamp. All photos of Malportado Kids came from their Shot by the Band set and that gallery can be found here.

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