Helping you turn the thermostat up, Impose’s Week in Pop brings you all the latest breaking hot exclusives you have been waiting for. Giving you a first just a handful of the biggest headlines from the week, we heard Heems’ collaboration with Dev Hynes on the track “Home“; Jack White and the great “guac gate” caper; Pharrel’s “Happy” to become a chilren’s book; B-Real from Cypress Hill is allegedly opening a weed dispensary; Kevin Shields collaborated with Le Volume Courbe on “The House”; Noel Gallagher discussed getting on one with Morrissey and others; Blur announced their first album since 2003 with Go Out available April 28; Vanilla Ice got arrested for an alleged burglary; Kim Gordon’s thoughts on Lana Del Rey via her upcoming memoir; Kurt Cobain’s debit card is now up for auction; we sadly said goodbye to our friends Black City Lights, and continue to mourn the passing of Lesley Gore.
But now we are proud to present to you a world of exclusives and interviews from Beat Radio, Champagne, Free Weed, Kid in the Attic, My Midnight Heart, Summer Cannibals, Threading, Unconditional Arms, New God, Spirit Haus, Lesionread, Fielded, Joey Fourr, Yonas Michael, SLVR, co-curated by The Soft Moon, and more — in no particular order.
My Midnight Heart
Angélica Allen, known by the evening dubbed moniker My Midnight Heart has enjoyed a busy month with the releases of her Drown and Break EPs, weaving tapestries from the inmost places of thought, feeling, perception, affection, and empathy. On the world premiere of the title track video for, “Break”; the waves of pleasure and pain and traverse through the smoky screens and stratospheres of some of the deepest guarded sentiments expressed through the honest channels of the ethereal, and feather weighted electronic additions and applications. Known for performing under her first name, and working with Trans Siberian Orchestra; My Midnight Heart is Angélica’s way to create the moods and meditations that only the late hours of the evening can entertain. Narratives from personal places spring forth from the low-lit production, where life’s struggles and successes are spelled out in an audio production that elicits and summons various sensations.
The debut of the self-styled video for “Break” expresses all the emotion from the song in an evocative, and effective minimalism. We hear and see Angélica singing to the camera, with a headdress, while illuminated billows of smoke ascend and descend the frame. The lighting frames Angélica by way of the smoky essences that permeate throughout the entire video, while she sings intimate portrayals of earnest affections with a strong sense of pride and unwavering passion. Delivering untouched vocals over an arranged production that emphasizes the song’s intensity; the electric ambient environment creates a head-space that examines breaking points with unyielding expressions of encouragement. The artist who has called Puerto Rico, Syracuse, Boston, Virginia, Madrid, and more her home channels some of the influential tapestries of world sound in her work on a whole new sophisto pop platform as My Midnight Heart with a kind of smoky production and the correlating visual components. Allen’s latest outing allows everything to ascend from a kind of personal narrative place that’s all her own, while owning those deep cut ambient chambers of expression. Following our premiere of the “Break” video, we bring you our recent, candid interview with Angélica.
What lead you to realize your voice as a singer, and a songwriter?
I always knew I would be a singer though I tried to fight it for a very long time. I always felt like it was something I loved but nothing I could do seriously. All the years I tried to suppress that made me realize how much I was actually crippling myself. It’s more than a passion, it’s a compulsion. It’s part of me. Realizing that has helped me become unrestrained in my music. Whether it’s accepted or not, I have to write my music from a place of complete honesty. There’s no other way I’m satisfied as a songwriter.
What brought you to the name, My Midnight Heart?
The name came from the type of songs I’m writing. I hope that even though the music is deeply personal that’s it’s also somehow relatable. I’m telling my secrets in my music if you listen to the words and read between the lines. It’s the core of me. It’s what I can’t share in the daylight. There didn’t seem to be another option once I wrote it down. I was just like yes, this is My Midnight Heart. It was just discovering the existing name for something that already was. It made sense.
In what ways have you found your Puerto Rican roots informing your music?
I’ve always felt like a displaced person. I actually spent most of my youth in Syracuse, New York and didn’t get back to Puerto Rico until many years later. I thought I would get off the plane and feel like I was home. But no, I loved it but it wasn’t ‘it.’ In all the places I’ve lived, Syracuse, Boston, Virginia, Madrid… I never felt like I ‘belonged’ in any of them. I felt ‘other.’ It wasn’t until I moved to Brooklyn that I breathed that sigh of relief. I think that ‘where do I belong?” aspect is embedded in my music. You can hear me searching for some kind of resolution. I think people can empathize with that.
Puerto Rico has such a rich heritage of such eclectic music cultures, what are the latest happening in the PR these days that you’re excited about?
I’m really into Buscabella and Verano Panorámico right now. There’s such a mixture of influences in Puerto Rico and I like to hear that reflected in what’s coming out now. There’s so much new indie music that can’t be confined or constricted to a ‘genre.’ That’s the future of music… We’re making something eclectic and new. We don’t want to exist in boxes and the music reflects that.
“Break” is such an atmospheric and intimate song…what sort of breaks and discontinuity informed it’s inception?
“Break” is about coming to a tipping point. It’s about making a decision to make a decision. I was in a relationship that needed to end but I didn’t want to have to realize that. This song is about the fractures in that relationship and realizing it’s beyond repair but not wanting to accept it. Writing it was a form of therapy. A form of acceptance.
Love your videos, how did the smoky, b/w visuals come about for “Break”?
I wanted all the visuals for these EPs to mirror each other. The black and white seemed to fit the aesthetic and mood of the music. I don’t include myself in the majority of the visuals I’ve made and wanted to change that with this song. The lyrics are so intimate; I felt like I needed to be present to tell the story. But of course, I don’t want to give to much away either. The smoke is meant to obfuscate the meaning a bit.
Tell us a bit about the process of making your two new EPs that started with Drown.
The eps are a mixture of old and new material. I thought that worked nicely with the dark versus light aspect of MMH — I’m always playing with opposites. I had to rework all four songs to make them work with each other but I think that’s part of the energy that I love about this record. Everyone who worked on this record was in separate places at the time so we all tracked everything separately. Not something I would do again honestly, but I feel like it was good to let the ideas just flow and then edit everything later. I wanted this record to be more of a collaboration. To take an idea and build up from there.
Other MMH projects, collabs in the works for 2015/2016?
I’m always up to something! I will keep you posted!
We were taken by Portland’s Jessica Boudreaux and her band Summer Cannibals at the first bite with their album No Makeup, and now it is our pleasure to debut their new single, “TV”, off their new upcoming album, Show Us Your Mind available March 3 from New Moss Records. Continuing the non-stop momentum of indie America’s Northwest proliferation; Summer Cannibals have returned with their own particular brand of bravado that mixes a whole lotta life’s complicated feelings that respond in conjunction to the external environments that inspire the Cannibals’ own ‘quiet, loud, quiet, loud’ equations, and anarchic algorithms.
In our recent conversation with Jessica, she described “TV” as Summer Cannibals’ “slow song” for their new album, designed with minimalist verses of solo guitar picking that sets you up for monstrous, and dramatic choruses that chant, “it turns you out.” Jumbled reflections of relationships and affection are described as thoughts that emerge while the television is on, comparing fictious love lives to the day-to-day dynamics of real life relations. “And everyone on tv, and everyone on tv is talking about love like you never thought it could be,” Jessica muses amid the logic of, “these thoughts are just thoughts, and love is just love,” as the building tension brings the chord twists and turns of the angst reducing hooks. The squalls of raging guitar spell out the pains of being turned inside out, leaving special sections of skronk blasted solos to convey the torrential torment of frustrations. The propogated ideals of what romance should be according to the televised tributaries is countered by Jessica and the Cannibals’ blistering response that is rooted in the reality of how ferocious a lover’s game of sport can be. Immediately after the debut of Summer Cannibals’ “TV”, don’t miss our recent interview with Jessica Boudreaux.
It’s a been a minute since we’ve caught up, but please bring us up to date with everything that has been happening since the release of No Makeup, to the creation of Show Us Your Mind.
A lot has happened since the release of No Makeup! We played a ton of shows with a lot of really amazing bands like The War On Drugs, The Muffs and The Thermals and toured for a quick minute with CHVRCHES. Valerie (drums) & Lynne (bass) both had to leave the band to pursue day job career life. We started playing with Jenny Logan (bass) and Devon Shirley (drums) and it’s been amazing. We’re super excited about where we’re at and are really looking forward to what’s coming up.
How has Portland been treating you all? I hear the PDX has been going through some crazy gentrification changes that the rest of the nation seem to be contending with. How are you all handling it/dealing with it?
Portland’s been good to us lately — it’s February and 60 degrees and sunny so that side of things is treating us very well. There are definitely a lot of changes going on in the city that have various personal effects on all of us but artistically and creatively I think Portland is still thriving. I think after “Portlandia” people think of Portland as almost a joke but I love it here — the weather is amazing, there’s a lot of art & creativity and we have great food. Every city has it’s problems, in this case for me personally I think the good outweighs the bad here.
How was it working with Larry Crane on the new album?
Amazing! We love him. He understands our sound and appreciates that we want it to feel live and not like overdub-city. We did it all analog on 16 track tape and it was all so easy and fun. Larry knows what he’s doing but he also cares about what he’s doing and I think you can hear that on this record.
Give us the scoop on the making of the single, “TV”.
I wrote “TV” a few days before we went into the studio because I felt like we needed a slow song — that’s usually how it goes for me. Tracking it was really easy, I think we did it last. I really love this song and I think it’s something different than what we usually do. We used a Tube Tape Echo on the chorus vocals that’s more dramatic than I usually go for on our recordings. I think it came out really cool.
I love how on Show Us Your Mind how it feels as if you all have been sticking to your guns and making the music you have wanted to since the beginning, and only tightening the hooks, while keep the chops super rad, rough, and cooler than ever. What do you feel has become the creative mantra among everyone in the Summer Cannibals camp?
The songs need to feel good to play live. That’s always been the most important thing. If they don’t feel good or right to play live then they shouldn’t be on the record. Our live set is, in my opinion, the strongest part of this band so everyone needs to feel good playing the songs. We want our records to feel real and as close as we can get to how we sound live.
Can you share us any other unknown Portland artists and groups that we should be listening to and talking about right now?
Our bass player Jenny is in a really rad band here in town called COMM, definitely check them out. Divers are great-they’re putting out their first record soon on a cool local label called Party Damage. Also Bed., they’re awesome too.
Summer Cannibals summer 2015 plans?
We’ll be touring a lot this Spring/Summer and playing a few really neat festivals. We’ve also recorded 6 new songs (with Larry Crane) and are going to be releasing those at some point!
Summer Cannibals’ new album Show Us Your Mind will be available March 3 from New Moss Records.
We last heard from Pete Thomas Quinn back in the days of his former project of love GPSYMTH, wandering through the new wave cinema styles of “From Blue to Black” in a headline feature that dated back to late 2012. Laying the moniker to rest, Peter Quinn returns with Garren Orr as LA’s new sophisto pop duo to reckon with; Champagne. Self-proclaiming a love their music to be both made out of a pursuit and love for a coexistence of synthetic and organic elements—Champagne’s world premiere of “Savage Tan” melts the hypnagogia of the vapor and health-goth hymnals for sun ray waves of the purest audio form of Vitamin D you have ever heard.
“Savage Tan” begins like the first sign of a new season and a new hope in the midst of a dead winter. Pete and Garren lift the fog and blankets of snow to reveal a sunny, and sensuous So Cal coastline that is conveyed in different phases of sentimentally sung verses that move through the feeling feeding synthesizer assortment that sends a sequence of overdubbed vocal edits littered throughout the song to herald new harmonies and hiccuped notes. The golden suntan glow burns bright like the sky after the morning fog has been burned off to reveal palm trees, beach trails, and a bountiful world of deep dish production that journeys to the savage heart of the sun’s inner core and then strikes down deep to the center of the earth, and then bubbles up to the places where the oceanic waters and the earth’s bodies meet. Joining us after the debut of “Savage Tan”, Champagne’s Pete and Garren gave us the rundown on everything from life post-GPSMYTH, new synergistic syntheses, the latest from LA, and so forth:
So takes us from the transition from GPSYMTH… to Champagne.
Garren: Pete was a lost spirit trapped in a moth’s body…a GYPSY moth. I saved his soul by pouring champagne down his throat and introducing him to endless summer.
And what about the name Champagne attracts you, is this a ploy into more sophisto pop territory, particularly like the sun bathed single, “Savage Tan”?
Pete: It’s all about the duality. Bubbly, drunk, happy all with the potential of everything turning into a blurry shit-show.
Describe how you two compose and arrange tracks.
Garren’s version: Pete has a nice track and he brings it to me to rough out the edges.
Pete’s version: For the first few, I would write demos of songs with really awful, basic drums. True shit percussion. Then Gar and I would record him playing drums over the tracks and we’d start to rework and remix everything. We’re roommates now, so I guess we have to write together. Can’t hide anything from that guy.
What is the latest from the LA scenes?
It’s like walking on the sun.
Your favorite unknown local artists?
Garren: CHOPPERS, and Night Camp.
Pete: CHOPPERS, Sego, Wyatt Blair.
Your favorite unknown not-so local artists?
Pete: Don’t know how unknown Moose Blood is right now, but they’re rad and British. Same with Astro: they’re rad and Chilean.
What are you listening to on repeat right now?
Garren: Julian Casablancas + the Voidz’ Tyranny and Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead… simultaneously.
Pete: I’m relentlessly jamming on Mew’s new single. Also into Mini Mansions, Jon Hopkins and Sylvan Esso.
Tell us more about your upcoming EP.
We’re going to call it Champagne (why not) and release it at the end of March. It’s three songs, but they are the best anxiety-flavored pop songs that we’ve written. We get all of those feelings out in the music so that we can be cool in real life.
Care to share the slogan, thesis, logo for Champagne?
LIVE TO WIN.
Champagne’s self-titled will be available at the end of March. Listen to more via Soundcloud.
This week while mind our own business, Rikky Gage (Gnar Tapes boss, also of The Memories, White Fang, etc, etc), aka Free Weed crashed our work week party for an exclusive listen to the album Introducing (mastered by Total Control’s Mikey Young we might add), before it’s February 24 release from Bad Diet. The prophet of legalizing all things green, and independent in spirit; the stoned cassette prince entertained with some enlightening conversation, and gave us one hell of a second hand high on the debut preview of Introducing.
The opening title track provides you with the “Free Weed” theme song, setting the stage for all the wacky, and zany weirdness that awaits. “Rock On” rocks and rolls on a ghetto-tek budget, sharing gripping tales of joint bogarting on, “Tales from the Grip”, before igniting the night’s pale sky with the dazzling Skittles-like assorted rainbow rock of, “Light the Night (Unkle Funkle remix)”. Every cult indie rocker has to have some sort of song and testament toward freedom and independence, and Rikky too throws his hat in with the lo-fi releasing of all bonds, and burdens; “I’m Free”. Next might be possibly the catchiest DIY pop song about the grass on the aptly titled, “Marijuana”, slowing it down for some fun with drum machines, synths, and electric guitars on, “Slow-Fi”, to the stoner’s paradise of skronked up desires that fuel, “I Wanna Do Drugs”. The love ballads to weed continue onward through the backwards slipping and head-tripping oddity, “But You Really Didn’t Wanna Do It”, before getting even higher on, “High With Me (spaceman)”. The “Charm” keeps on rolling with lost weekends and wasted days, that stomp and plod to the spirit in the sky, “Later”, jangling lo-fidelity jams on the mind lifting, “High, Hello, I”, then hopping along the road to the dispensary on “In Doors. Rev. 1”, before Rikky leaves you with the galactic fantasia of, “Drugs On The Moon”, that imagines sweet blue dreams of sparking one up in space, with a keyboard chorus. Catching up with Rikky Gage, read our interview that follows after the premiere listen to Free Weed’s Introducing:
Favorite grass strains that contributed to the making of the album, Introducing?
Hard to determine as Introducing’s tracks span the course of over a few years. Lots of medical strains in Oregon when I lived there. I also sold weed for awhile when I first started going by Free Weed. My weed wasn’t free though but I always had it. I was going through (and continue to go through) a lot of pot, but in those days I was always carrying a few grams of Indica and a few grams of Sativa at all times. Nowadays I only smoke Indica and always top shelf and always from LA or OC medical dispensaries. I have only got weed from an independent dealer once in LA that I can remember. I like OG Kush varieties and have been smoking a lot of Michael Phelps OG the last couple weeks.
The Free Weed secret/not-so-secret ingredients to making lo-fi pop hits?
Hard to determine as most of these songs were written and recorded in one sitting, save for a few that were reworked from original demos. I am still sifting through the ashes of what happened when I lived at Gnarnia (RIP), the Gnar Tapes house in Portland. And now that we live/work at Studio G in LA I haven’t had time to remember Portland, which is fine by me cuz that city is wack attack as fuck. The secret is The Secret. Put it out into the Universe. Be the sponge AND the bathroom sink. Soak it all in and just turn the faucet and it comes out. You probably don’t have it and at this point it’s probably too late. If you have to try then you don’t have it. Go help people instead and leave the art and music to me.
Tell us about working with our hero and everybody’s, Mikey Young on the album, a Nick Gazin complimentary comic, along with Mushroom Necklace’s Dustyn Peterman handling the cover art duties?
That was all Bad Diet. Nick (and his girlfriend Steph Hurtado, who has a drawing on the poster insert) are friends of mine, which made it fun and easy for the comic. The timing was a little harder for him though because that was right when the ‘Run The Jewels’ album cover blew up with Marvel Comics. That was crazy. Dusty’s work I’ve always really liked because of his flyers in San Diego. He did one for R. Stevie Moore and my band The Memories when we were on tour together a year ago this month. But that was also Bad Diet’s idea, which rules. To be honest, I’m not really familiar with Mikey Young and Total Control. That’s his band right? But everyone seems to be really into him/that band so I’ve been meaning to get a listen. Where should I start?
What’s the latest happening with your other groups, The Memories and White Fang?
A lot. The Memories just bought tickets for our Europe tour in Spring. Also working on nearly 40 songs for The Memories’ Royal United Song Service. Kind of like a song-poem service but using stories/details from patrons instead of lyrics. That helped fund our Europe flights while at the same time creating The Memories’ Royal United Song Service double album and supposed documentary. Burger Records wants BRGR TV to make a doc about it. The Memories just had a 7″ single on Wharf Cat that Zach Phillips (OSR Tapes, Blanche Blanche Blanche) produced in NY. And before that the ‘Hot Afternoon’ LP come out on Burger that Sonny Smith (Sonny & The Sunsets) produced in San Rafael. And in the summer Lolipop Records put out the ‘Touched By An Angel’ LP too. Randy Records is putting out our ‘Home Style’ LP this summer, which is an anthology / greatest hits style album of remastered songs pulled from our limited-run, cassette-only releases. And we have a new album called ‘Sensitive Player’ that’s coming out in the next few months on La Suisse Primitive Records in St. Gallen, Switzerland in Europe and on CMRTYZ in the states. There’s an outside chance it might be ready in Europe for our tour but I kind of doubt it cuz it’s taken awhile to get mixes cuz the producer is in Canada dealing with a long crazy story that I will not share here. That’s just a portion of what The Memories are up to.
White Fang has been going nuts with shows in LA and up and down the California coast. We finished our new album for Burger months ago. It was produced by Bobby Harlow, who produced the last two King Tuff records and is in the band The Go, who you might know from the late ’90s Detroit garage craze. They signed with Sub Pop in the 90s when Jack White was in their band. They left Sub Pop, kicked Jack out, met the Dalai Lama, toured with GBV, toured with the White Stripes, have 2 songs in the ‘Hills Have Eyes’ remake, etc. It’s taken awhile because we were in talks with Sire Records and Seymour Stein flew out to see us and there was all kinds of band drama. Bobby left us his studio, which we turned into Studio G, and moved to New Orleans. Our original guitarist lost his mind and went back to Portland. But now we have been destroying and just did a comedy show with Brody Stevens, who played in White Fang during the set by drumming a mic’d up chair. Our new album comes out this summer on Burger and we have been playing a lot of mind games on our social media outlets. Both bands and Free Weed are going to SXSW also, which will be dangerous.
The latest happenings at Gnar Tapes? We heard a rumor that you’re opening up a store front in Los Angeles!
Too many things to mention. Our new Gnar FM TGIF Podcast we post every Friday morning is a good one. We have special guests. Last week was Colleen Green and week before was Magic Jake and Ol’ Gary from King Tuff. This week is a special edition with field interviews with Danny from Together Pangea and Abby Banks, author of “Punk House”. And more. It is true we are opening a store here. Not just that, but the store is located in the same lot as Studio G. When we got the storefront it allowed us to make our lot a Gnar compound. It’s pretty unreal. It’s all ours except for Camacho’s machine shop, which is cool. AND not just that but the store front will also be Burger Records’ LA location. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to hype it yet but it’s true. It’ll be similar to their Fullerton store but more Gnar, with vendor booths sectioned off with art, clothes, movies, and shit. It’s still in development stages though. Burger came over last night and we’re having a conference call today as well. Still a lot to work out but it’s gonna be terrific.
Words of wisdom, sage advice, and insights for all?
I’ll be 26 next week. If I make it another decade then maybe, just maybe I’ll have some words of wisdom to impart. But I have lots of friends older than 36 who are as dumb as me it seems. My only friend who I think is actually wise for real real is my friend Charlie who is 65 and lives in Portland. Last time we hung out we smoked opium.
Free Weed’s Introducing will be available February 24 from Bad Diet.
It’s been over two years since we heard from Beat Radio’s Brian Sendrowitz around the release of, Hard Times, Go!, and today we bring you the premiere of the Bellmore, NY artist’s split 7″ shared with friend Maia Macdonald’s band, Kid in the Attic. Available March 10 from Sendrowitz’s Awkward For Life imprint, Beat Radio debuts the track “Invisible Cities” that creates new big, bold metropolises for shared creative minds, friends, and families to inhabit and enjoy together.
Brian Sendrowitz is known to put a lot of heart in all of his compositions, and “Invisible Cities” is no exception to this earnest method that has defined Beat Radio’s own frequency. Showcasing the latest development’s from advancements made at his home studio in Bellmore, that down home vibe remains brighter than ever, as keyboards cascade like M.C. Escher staircases going this way and that, to lively percussion, and a rich arrangement of chords, notes, and found sounds of schoolyard commotion that cheers in and out of the mix. The array of synths used continue to entrance the mind, as Brian’s sense of production and skill creates some of the most astounding dance and electronic fashioned music while retaining a natural feel that fits into a category beyond the EDM acronym tags and the like. Mr. Sendrowitz joined us for a conversation about the latest Awkward For Life developments, the KITA split, and more featured after our following debut of “Invisible Cities”.
What’s the latest happenings from Bellmore, NY, and the Beat Radio project?
Bellmore is great, it’s a sleepy little suburban town. There’s not much of a music scene so we’ve always just played in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but my wife and I have always tried to cultivate a community around our place, between my basement recording studio, her yoga studio, house shows, and now trying to get things going with the label. Beat Radio has always evolved and been a rotating cast of characters. I started rehearsing with a new lineup about a month ago and I’m really excited about how it’s coming together. We’ll be playing our first show at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn on 3/5.
Describe for us how the Beat Radio sound has advanced from Hard Times, Go!, and the singles/demos 2014 collection, to the new split.
The Hard Times Go LP was really collaborative between me and Brian Ver Straten, who had been my drummer for a long time. Last year he moved down to Washington DC for a job, and I started to dive more into electronic music and search for new ways to make songs on my own again. I had made the 3 previous records with a pretty bare bones home studio setup, basically just an m-box and a really old version of Pro Tools. I made some money licensing songs for TV and used it to upgrade my studio a year or so ago, so a lot of 2014 was learning how to use new tools and getting comfortable with that.
Describe the creative process of drafting sonic, metropolises that became the gorgeous single that is “Invisible Cities”, and the collaborative experience of working with Kid in the Attic.
Maia from Kid in the Attic is my pal and someone I feel a strong musical connection with, we’ve collaborated on a few different things now. We had been talking about doing this split 7” together, and she sent me “Roles Reversing” which I fell in love with right away. I wanted to put a track together that would compliment the feel of that, and I thought it had to be kind of a big song. I had been reading Tim Lawrence’s Arthur Russell bio and I got sort of hung up on Arthur’s notion of writing what he described as ‘Buddhist pop songs.’ I wanted to delve deeper into the repetition of dance music, and break down the structure of a song to its essential elements – to simplify the melody and lyrics as much as possible. That gave me space to stretch out with arrangement and the layers of sounds. I thought it would be cool to get Maia to sing on it as well – I knew she would get what I was going after right away.
How do you go about beginning a song sketch in the initial composition or inception these days?
I usually put together some sort of instrumental track. I’ve been writing on the go a lot this year, working in Logic on my Macbook on my commute or lunch break. Once I have a sketch together I’ll usually just write the song in my head, walking around NYC, piecing together the melody and lyrics.
What other singles are in the works from the Awkward For Life Records camp?
It looks like the next few things will be cassette releases. The 2nd Beat Radio LP has been out of print for a while, so we’ll be putting that out on cassette in April or May. I’m also working on a new collaborative project with my friend Tim Lannen and we’ll be releasing an EP. Other than that, I’d like to put out more stuff from Kid in the Attic, and I have some other friends in mind I’d like to work with, but haven’t determined exactly what we’ll be doing just yet.
Thoughts on the state of indie music in 2015?
I’m always excited and optimistic. There are so many people doing incredible work that’s totally inspiring to me. I think it’s harder for bands who are just getting started to capture people’s imagination. We have unlimited access to everything as listeners, so it’s a supply and demand issue. I try to support and listen to alot of music that’s made by people I know personally or have some sort of connection to. Keeping things local in that sense is useful for me, as we all have limited time to listen and resources to support music. I feel less and less like there is any real correlation between music that becomes popular and music that is great. I’ve just come to know so many great artists whose music is not very well known. I think for the most part bands that become famous usually just want to be famous more than everyone else.
Other under-known artists you want to give a shout out to?
I love what Kid in the Attic, Drew Danburry, Mount Sharp, Wild Yaks, Fax Holiday, Will Stratton, Wilder Maker, Jesse Rifkin, NY Lights, and Merit Badge are doing. Also my friends The Diggs may be getting back together for some shows some time this year, I’m crossing my fingers for that.
Kid in the Attic
Featured on the split 7″ with Beat Radio from Brian’s Awkward For Life imprint; we proudly present the premiere of “Roles Reversing” from Kid in the Attic (aka KITA), the brainchild of Maia Macdonald. Demonstrating the evolutions and shifts between people and progressions that take place in life; Maia shows us “how change begins” through the little by little increments with an immediate urgency heard on the chorus where Macdonald sings, “don’t even call, just get back to Brooklyn.”
On KITA’s “Roles Reversing”, the seasons of change are expressed through a sparse mix where the listener hangs on every word Maia’s sings, and dwells upon every note. Stories of travels, and observing the personal growth that the years bring gives life to new feelings that are echoed in the strums and the percolating percussion. “I’m a fighter, I’m a good hider,” Maia sings in the examination of the self and feelings that transform from the certain, to the uncertain, to the numb and null that comes with the lapse of time and days gone by. Maia gave us a three dimensional look at the world of KITA in our interview feature that follows our debut of, “Roles Reversing”.
What initiated the formation of the Kid in the Attic music alias for you?
I grew up in my grandparents’ house, the same house that my father grew up in, and there are generations of family history tucked away in the dust there. As a kid, I spent a lot of time alone rummaging through the basement and digging through old steam trunks in the attic, piecing together scraps from the lives of my great great grandparents up through my parents. It was a really dark and dusty goldmine. I used to drag my instruments up the steep stairs of the garage attic to write songs there, since it was kind of a private hideout.
The view from the attic windows in the house is also beautiful — it’s very quiet and feels like you’re up at the top of the trees in the backyard. Now, boxes of notes, photographs and tapes from my own 1980s/90s childhood are mixed in with 1800s obituaries, Dickens books, top hats and ’78s.
I’ve been using the KITA alias in different ways for years now (it was also the name of my college radio show). I had been playing music under my own name forever, but wanted a different name for my current project. After going around in circles brainstorming meaningless names, I ended up back where I started — at Kid In The Attic. I’ve found that this affords me more artistic freedom than using my own name right now, and allows for other collaborators to weave in and out of the picture.
I like the original style, structure and delivery of “Roles Reversing”. Tell me about how it first began, and then working on it later with Brian for the 7″.
Thank you! This “Roles Reversing” is actually quite different from early versions of the song. It used to be much more drum heavy, with the 6/8 beat at the forefront and a looping verse. I love Haitian rhythms and they end up sneaking into many of my songs. Anyway, at some point I started playing around with the main guitar line, intending it for a different song, and realized it would fit well here instead. This is one of the first songs that started with my loop pedal and was then adapted to a more straightforward form that would make sense for a band. Maybe it’s not straightforward at all though? I feel like with many of my songs the verses and choruses are somewhat ambiguous. I just wrote what made sense to me.
I recorded this version of “Roles Reversing” on a night in December 2013 at my friend Travis Harrison’s studio — Serious Business, in Manhattan. Just as we were starting the first take, a blazing inferno ignited outside the window. We went up to the roof to watch the fire raging in the air shaft of a building across the street — no one was injured, but it was intense. Back in the studio, I described the original incarnation of the song to Travis, and we tried to create a rhythmic backbone for the song that maintained the original feel. I performed the song three or four times, until we had a take that felt great. We called in our friend Hans (who now plays in the band) from the other room and he and I recorded a fun percussion take where I got to hit a giant metal barrel with a stick while Hans clapped. I think we also recorded Travis playing a whiskey bottle.
A few months later, Brian and I were dreaming about a split 7″ that we wanted to release together. I hadn’t yet released “Roles Reversing” and thought it would be a good fit. Luckily Brian agreed!
Anecdotes of intrigue on contributing vocals to the Beat Radio “Invisible Cities” single?
Brian is one of the most creative and prolific songwriters I know. I’ve been fortunate enough to contribute vocals to several Beat Radio songs over the past few years, and jumped at the chance to get into the mix on “Invisible Cities”. Brian emailed me the song and lyrics and I wrote and recorded my harmonies in an afternoon. It was an honor! It’s such an epic song. I just hope someday we get to record in the same room at the same time!
What other Kid in the Attic recordings are also in the works, hints of any upcoming releases, EPs, LPs?
There are so many songs kicking around! I’m planning to release the first KITA album this spring or summer. I’m not sure whether it will be an EP or an LP yet (maybe something in the middle?) but I’m really REALLY excited about it. I’m also working on another record and a pretty specific concept album/art project, and some collaborations/co-writes. I’m keeping busy and can’t wait to share what I’ve been working on!
The Beat Radio / Kid in the Attic split 7″ will be available March 10 from Awkward For Life Records.
Seattle based artist Yonas Michael emerges live from the velvet room, stepping into the spotlight under his own name this time to toast some “Henny for the many” on the single, “Blessed”, from his upcoming self-released album, Black Swan Theory. You might remember the artist known back in 2008 as Y-O from the the U-N-I duo, who now has been working amongst hip-hop luminaries like Kendrick Lamar, Bun B, and further solidifying his own solo voice under his given name.
“Blessed” finds Yonas dropping a series of lyrical snapshots that provides you a day in the life view of the artists counting blessings over funk organ samples and sped-up vocal loops. Yonas provides an attitude and work ethic of the most dedicated kind, describing the perpetual grind like, “your days off, my days in,” mixing some of the production values held over from the oughts for a track that is rooted in the now, and the possibilities of tomorrow. We had the chance to catch up with Yonas for an exclusive interview after the following listen to, “Blessed”.
How did the transition from Y-O from U-N-I to Yonas?
Taking on a new phase of becoming a solo artist, I wanted to reinvent everything. Going by my born name was necessary. I was never a fan of my full name as a kid because it was too different, it took years of maturity and growing into my own to finally accept it understanding being different pays off.
What’s the latest from the Seattle scenes?
Seattle music is always good. I have some bredrens making noise out there and putting out a nice sound. Listen for Porter Ray, Young Thad, B.F.A. (Brothas From Anotha) & B Awake.
Anecdotes on recording with Kendrick & Bun B on that track, “I Do This”?
Kendrick and I always supported each other since day uno. It was as simple as him reaching out and asking for a feature for the remix. It’s always a no brainier for the homies.
My first encounter with Bun B was at SXSW in 2010. When I ran into him, I told him I was a fan of his music and UGK. He said the exact same thing, which shocked the hell out of me that night. Couple months went by and we had a show in Houston for the 1st time, called up the King to let him know we’ll be in his town. He met us at this dope restaurant called Breakfast Club, he didn’t even sit down to eat which was g to me. He came out his way just to welcome us to the H-Town and went on about his day. So just from those few times we met, their was an amount of respect we had for each other. Once the beat for “Land Of The Kings” remix came about, Bun B was our 1st choice in mind to get on it. It was automatic as soon as he got it, less than a few hours he replied back with his verse on it.
What was it like for you recording your album, Black Swan Theory?
There was so much thought into this album, tons of advice that was asked from me to my fans, family and friends. I needed to know what everyone was in search of musically, so I can be relevant thru the listeners speakers. It took a lot of patience to complete the creative process from writing out the records and giving it a concept. Most of the work was visioning for weeks, then finally making it all come to fruition. Tons of fun and inspiring moments.
And how did counting your blessings give rise to the cut, “Blessed”?
The stuff I was going through in life at the time were just pouring out thru my eyes, tone in voice, aura, etc. My engineer and I became very close working on Black Swan Theory and that day we were just exchanging all the blessings, good and bad, we had in common that day. That day we were blasting “The Devil Is A Lie” by Jay-Z & Rick Ross all day, when we got back to the studio I said “H, we need match the energy for Devil Is A Lie & I’m just gonna spazz out with all these blessings that make us grow.” He must of came up with that beat in an hour and the rest is history.
For you, do you prefer pre-written deliveries or free-styling off the brain?
Just depends on the environment, if it’s a session creating something from scratch, I’d prefer putting together words I never done before. Free-styling off the top when it’s a cypher is always fun and needed.
What is the Yonas Michael method for bringing on old school boom bap, and next level leanings?
Now I gave up the formula before it’s been tested, that’ll be dumb on my part. All I can say is have fun, imagine, be open, genuine, and speak into existence.
2015 hopes, plans, dreams, and visions?
I am recognized as one of the greats, become a music mogul, go on a world tour touching millions through the power of music, cop my SLS 550 with the AMG kit, get a few Grammy’s under my belt, get front page on at least 5 magazines this year. Accomplishing those goals first should definitely open bigger doors.
Yonas Michael’s Black Swan Theory will be available soon.
Michigan’s Threading has a split in the works with Oakland’s Unconditional Arms available February 24 from The Native Sound, and we are proud and privileged to give the world a debut listen to the full record. Between the midwest and the Bay Area; both groups provide their own respective studies and surveys into the dream and drone capabilities and possibilities of the things you can create with electrified string instruments.
Both groups present their own contributions of guitar penned drawings that present the many evocative and adventurous things that can be done with electrified string instruments. Threading gets the party started with “Fume” that rises and falls like vapors evaporating, and then coming down like the morning dew. Having already released Azure and Willing in Woe via Bandcamp, the quartet continues to develop a sound that strives to be synonomously attached to the naturally occuring events, chemical reactions, responses, and the like. On “Ember” you can almost see the flicker and glow of a spark of a charcoal piece that is slowly fading into the void of night. Unconditional Arms single “Haunt” follows (more on that in a moment), and after the jump we give you our recent interview with Tyler from Threading.
How did Threading first begin?
Threading began near the end of 2013. We were originally a three piece. We played a few shows and put out an EP. At one of our first shows I ended up meeting my friend Brett who which not soon after joined the band. We did our first tour in March 2014 and released another EP around the same time. After that tour we had our drummer and bass player leave the band to pursue other ventures. We tried out some of our friends and eventually settled on the line up we have now.
What sorts of threads and strands inspired the name, Threading?
Honestly it was mostly inspired by my grandmother. She’s very southern. And certain words she says with this intense southern twang always seemed to resonate with me in some sort of nostalgic way. Threading was one of them. Was just something I found comfort in I suppose.
Tell us about the making of your EPs Azure, Willing in Woe, to your new singles “Fume” and “Ember” on your 7″ split with Unconditional Arms?
Azure was recorded at my home in Michigan. Same with Willing In Woe. It wasn’t much more than us writing some songs and recording them over a few weeks or so. Ember and Fume were written during a time where we were switching members, some of us quitting jobs, just a hectic period in general. I wrote and recorded some rough guitar demos and sent them to everyone seeing what they thought. We got together that week and recorded everyone’s parts, mixed it and sent it off to Julio At The Native Sound. Fume was a similar scenario. Fume essentially already existed in the form of a few recycled parts from songs that just never saw the light of day previous to this.
How did the split come about?
We had been in contact with Julio for awhile. He came out to see us play with Grey Zine in Wilkes-Baare, PA on our first tour. Funny thing is we always talk about how that was possibly our worst show we’ve played. We were a little overzealous on volume and played into what was essentially a concrete tunnel. Sounded terrible. Nonetheless Julio contacted us not to long after and asked us if we wanted to be a part of a split to be released on Native Sound. He sent me a link to a band he had in mind. We loved Unconditional Arms and obviously couldn’t ever say no to working with an awesome band via a great label.
The latest from the Michigan scenes?
Michigan is real weird. Michigan hardcore always seems to be flourishing which is great. Aside from that it seems to be a sort of strange black hole. People want things to happen but not many (aside from a few great people) want to put in the effort to really make a difference in terms of promoting, booking or even places to play. That being said there’s a few people who are doing cool things. Pity Sex is from my town. That band seems to work real hard and they are doing great things. Dan, who is doing the Something Cold shows in Detroit is doing cool stuff. He recently brought bands like Iceage, Youth Code and Pharmakon to MI. Great bands who I don’t think might have come here if it wasn’t for him and SC.
Other Michigan bands we should be checking out?
Dear Tracks, Darn Wishes, Real Ghosts, Mammon, Marital Vows, I’m sure there’s more so I’m sorry if I suck and left you out.
Other recordings and things in the works from Threading?
We will be heading out with our Chicago friends in Lume at the end of February into March for a short run. We have been writing a new record that we will be going in to record in April. Aside from that we have a west coast tour for summer 2015 also in the works.
Threading’s split with Unconditional Arms will be available February 24 from The Native Sound.
Unconditional Arms, under the guidance and vision of Jeff Wright from American Scene takes his Oakland outfit deep into the instrumental journey guided by a band that marches to the beat of their own chord progressions. Presenting you with with “Haunt”, taken from their upcoming Threading split for The Native Sound paints portraits of meloncholy, memoriam, with an anche of remembrance.
Dedicated to the Jeff’s grandmother Constance who passed when he was younger, “Haunt” draws an impressionistic ode and tribute to an inspirational hero of strength. A biographical song expressed through chords, background noise considerations, synchronizations of chords, and suites create a biopic built out of an epic display of strings. Jeff Wright discussed the dawning of Unconditional Arms, and much more in the following insightful interview.
What prompted the beginning of Unconditional Arms?
UA began as a project to make an gift for my son, Owen. He wasn’t born at the time of it’s conception. The idea was that I would record an album to give as a gift to Owen the day he was born. That album was called Kinship. The record was Kickstarted and one of the pledge awards was one live show of the album. I put together some true homies to play the show (Randy from Troubled Coast, Chris from Spanish Cannons, Ross from Lessons) and from there we kinda just decided to keep playing and making things. Since then, we’ve completed a number of tours and releases – and it’s all be actually really really wonderful, considering this was not the original plan.
What sorts of feelings and events informed the haunting of the instrumental epic, “Haunt”?
“Haunt” is for my late grandmother, Constance. The song in its entirety can be transposed to become the sort of complex, loving, graceful and yet powerful attributes of her everyday persona. She was a very important person to me. I didn’t have much time with her in comparison to some others around me (she passed away when I was probably 12) but in that short amount of time she was able to teach me extremely important values that I still carry with me today. Her passing is maybe one of the single events of my life that really took me down a notch because in my mind she was just an invincible person who could never be penetrated by something as small as the physicality of age.
How did the 7″ split with Threading come about for The Native Sound?
One of my very best friends, James Meuleners of Mother Room, did a release with TNS called Scorched. I help record some of it. When it came out, I was very impressed with the way I saw things being handled. I think it was soon after it’s release that UA played the Mother Room record release with King Woman, who was also a part of TNS. Krinstina and James both forwarded UA to Julio and then a magic email about doing this split showed up in my inbox. Once again, impressed. The band that he brought to us to do the release with, Threading, was incredible – there a 0% chance of us saying no.
What’s next for Unconditional Arms?
We have a large secret Soundcloud playlist full of LP demos, so we’re working on making that happen. We have an email inbox for of requests for a repress of the Kinship record, so we’re also working on that as well. In direct sight, we’re heading out to play Treefort Music Festival and Catacomb Party soon with our friend Jordan, who plays under the guise REPTOID. We have a bunch of dates around the festivals with Reptoid as well. If you don’t know Reptoid and you like listening to one man play Converge-style-drums over insane noises triggered by synths with an oxygen mask strapped to their face, you should probably check him out now.
Next in the future cards for American Scene?
TAS is currently chilling. I’m sure the sleeping giant will begin to stir at some point.
Unconditional Arms split with Threading will be available February 24 from The Native Sound.
In one of our last features of 2014, we introduced you to Lesionread, the project of Buffalo, NY’s Shawn Lewis who dropped the track and video for the zany, “Art All Day”, and now we give you a listen to the just released 2015’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1. This is the album for 2015’s post-ADHD generation where the constructs and former comforts that used to console your own conventional sense of pop music gets spun out on it’s own very head.
The weirdness begins right off the bat with the synth streaking bounce and bop of, “Everything He Needs”, dipping into the abstract ethereal theatrics of, “I Want to Fall in Love (The Moment that I tell You)”, to the hypochondriac dance craze, “~GERM~”, thoughts on perfection and friendship fallout questions harmonize throughout “Fights with Friends”, to the dizzying mind opening, “Open”, before you dive into the thick molasses tar pits that make up, “So Lonely Without”. Ecstatic interludes burst forth on, “Int / Ext”, day tripping attachments that bounce along, “…addicted”, the relationship electro pudding that blasts throughout, “Neutron Bomb”, weird warning siren synths on “-“, to the abstract dance revolution, “The Hoho Groove (feat. Jon Bap, Josephine H. I.), audio experiments with Arnold via Kindergarten Cop on “Shut The Fuck Up!”, getting even weirder and wilder on the title anthem, “Lesionread’s Greatest Hits!”, parental inquiries via “my mom asks what I’m doing”, to our already favorite track, “Art All Day (The Money Song)”, the hyperactive “End”, to the carousel closing whirl of “Supercool ft. Jon Bap”. Throughout the tape, Shawn proves to be a mercurial artist who jumps from one idea to the next, where each track is nearly completely different from the last (where some tracks feel like composites of multiple songs in one). Demonstrating an eclectic sense of a variety of sound, we can only wonder what will happen if and when Shawn ever decides to settle upon one focused approach, other than the everything and kitchen sink method currently employed. Lewis gave us the following exclusive introduction to the tape:
This album was made to serve as my portkey to the whole capitalist ‘music scene’ establishment. Now I have a product to talk about, it’s like a colorful umbrella that covers all the musical creative endeavors I’ve accomplished in the past couple years.
We reported the other week about Fielded’s Lindsay Powell beginning a crowdfunding campaign for her Universally Handsome music/clothing label, and today we bring you her new single, “I Choose You” from her upcoming Boy Angel EP, along with our latest interview. In our recent discussion, Lindsay further discussed her vision and desire to facilitate collaborative connections between artists and designers, along with the intrinsic and arguably inextricable link between textile fashion music in today’s current generations. Then on the single “I Choose You”, Powell presents the intimate sides and attitudes of expression between people and desires that extend to something realer and more relevant than the pretension of the “see and be seen” crowds for something greater, and even more dear. Lindsay joins us in our exclusive interview, featured after the jump.
You have been working hard juggling both music and your clothing brand, and was wondering how everything has been, juggling work on the Boy Angel EP, along with your textile line, Universally Handsome?
The EP is pretty much done save a few adjustments here and there. I have been trying to release it for the better part of a year and when no label was picking it up I decided to just fulfill my lifelong dream of starting a clothing label. I just thought, ‘well, the music can come out with the clothes.’ Simple as that! But I am also trying to challenge system that has been present in the music industry for quite some time. I’m still raising money for the idea (you can donate here!) but conceptualizing and designing has begun. I’ve asked all of my favorite artists to be a part of it for this first round (to which they have agreed!) and I am working hard every day to make sure this release is on point.
We were talking last time about the balance of being both “a queen and a warrior at the same time,” and was wondering how you have been seeking out this ambitious balance here in 2015?
Oh man, we talked about that? Ha! Well, first of all, I believe that all women are queens and warriors at the same time. It’s just a matter of finding a way to access that power and feel comfortable with being a boss (which we are not always encouraged to be in this society!). I honestly think that with every year comes new attention to detail to something deeper within myself that in turn enhances my art. I feel that to be balanced you just have to know when to lean in and when to back off from your own mind. Treat your ambition as you would treat your best friend’s and respect the realities and impossibilities of it. Also, always drink 8-10 glasses of water a day and dance as often as possible. It seriously helps!
“I Choose You” is such a gorgeous, and endearing song. What sorts of personal and creative choices impacted this song?
To be honest, this is probably the realest I’ve gotten in my songwriting with Fielded. I have reached a point where I just want to write what I know and what I feel. Most of the songs for the new album that I’m working on right now are the same way. The melody was just something that came to me and the lyrics came so easily with it. It’s about my struggles as a woman teetering on the verge of love — the fantasies and realities of it and the inevitable choice of trying to find yourself before trying to find another.
As someone who works in heavily in the music and clothing mediums; where do you find the intersections and separations of both arts?
I am surrounded by musicians and visual artists that are constantly being inspired by one another. It was part of the community that I came up in (SAIC — the Chicago music scene is the ultimate multidisciplinary classroom), and it is deeply embedded in the psyche of my generation. I think fashion and music always circle back around to this time in our lives where generally everyone feels the most safe. It’s right around ten, when you are teetering on a deeper self-knowledge but not quite into the angst of middle-school years. We reach back as a generation right around our Saturn return (Google it!) to further inform our adult sense of self. We seek the things that comfort us and find ways to make them ours again. There is no separation between music and fashion for my generation because that has been pop culture since we were born. Music videos and cartoons shaped our understanding of others and ourselves. I honestly think this is an amazing time in the world to be creating.
What else can we expect from the Boy Angel EP and your Universally Handsome line?
Right now I am just focusing on getting the label launched in a way that will allow for many freaks and lovers to enjoy it. In terms of bigger picture stuff, well…I want to work with artists and musicians that I truly respect and believe in. I want to bring them together to create innovative lines that inspire listeners and fans to express themselves truly and completely. I want to build something meaningful and sincere. I also want to drink iced coffee with high school interns somewhere in Brooklyn and talk about what the new cool teenage bands and trends are these days. All in good time, I guess.
More info on the Fielded EP Boy Angel and her hybrid music/clothing label, Universally Handsome available here.
Sir Lord Von Raven
Just released this week, Oakland’s own Eric Johnson, otherwise known as Sir Lord Von Raven released his double LPThe Age of Machines on Guitars and Bongos, and also joins us for a discussion about the making of his second album. Keeping the sound classic across both discs from the anti-tech statement of the title track to the liberating closer, “It’s Not Your Fault” — the SLVR party is joined by members from groups like The Time Flys, Gris Gris, Wrong Words, Drunk Horse, Extra Classic, Part Time, and Greg Ashley to provide you with an alt jukebox rendering of the modern era. From emulating the gritty Max’s Kansas City, New York x London scenes of the 70s, to mimicking the Detroit rambling-gambling action of the 60s heard on tracks like, “In The Cups”; SLVR’s latest offering keeps an ear keenly glued on yesterday as a weapon against the crowded confusions experienced by today’s current market over-saturation enabled by all the latest technological advancements. Eric discussed this with us, along with all the developments and dynamics that make up the current revolving line-up of SLVR, in our interview after the jump.
Tell us about the making of your second album, The Age of Machines, and how your anti-tech attitudes and beliefs begot this double LP.
Well, for one, coming out of the 1990]s I saw the shift towards the internet in everyday life and music and was skeptical from the very beginning and was very skeptical of the impact that would grab hold. I admit that I realize what a great reference tool and communication device it can be, but I abhor the constant overuse of these devices (walking on a train or in a cafe and noticing that everyone is staring at a screen and unaware of their immediate neighbor) and I get overly nostalgic, maybe, and remember the good ol’ days when me and my friends would scour many a junk shop to look for records and do our research only guided by band personnel names and liner notes. These times were exhausting, but so fun and well worth it. But these days kids don’t have to work for much. Everything is at their fingertips ( I even met some seventh graders that told me they were mostly into shoe gaze and bought most of their music from iTunes, but they thought Ride were mediocre?).
And don’t get me started on new cars and other tech junks, apps., and etc. Of course I write this on an email thread, but there is no moderation for all this while we rape mother earth…
How was this record a shift for you compared to the experiences in recording your previous, debut LP?
The first record was different in the fact that I had no band in the beginning. I had just left a punkish band called the Time Flys and had some material left over that I wanted to work out. I was never really much of a guitar player, but kept about it and then eventually recorded some songs with Greg. whom lived above me and then shortly after got a motley crew together for the first album.
As for the second album, the band was gelled out and everyone has had their place, so it was easier to write the songs with bonafide musicians (unlike myself) hitting every note as needed. Josh Miller then was able to acclimate in to his role of backing vocals, on top of rhythm section duties and blend them with mine. Greg also tightened his rock and roll guitar licks with much precision by that time.
At the beginning of this second album our dear friend, Jay Bronzini decided to say goodbye to the world and were left to seek another Drummer. Tony “The Mongoose” Leal, who I knew during high school was ready to combat some gigs. laughs, drinks, and recordings, but his time was short lived since he had to tour with another band, Part Time.
What were we left to do, but find another, so after some chatter at a local pub, a firecracker of a guy, named Chris Johnson said he was interested and we finished the album. We are in this same lineup today!
How was it working with a tight group of Bay Area talented folks from The Time Flys, Gris Gris, Wrong Words, Drunk Horse, Extra Classic, Part Time, Greg Ashley, and how do you feel everyone impacted the recording?
They made it sound way better than I could have on my own.
Thoughts on making anachronistic music during these weird contemporary post-tech times?
Will people care?
Probably not, but that does not beset the impassioned heart from creating, even without recognition!
What challenges have you found in making art in the age of mechanical/digital reproduction, apps, and so on?
People don’t pay attention. They want everything to attack them front and center simultaneously with as much information crammed into an ice-cream cone as possible and with a dash of sprinkles with some diva’s body on top. Artists don’t seem able to stand alone. They need an army of publicists, scandals, cameos for songs, movie deals. etc.
Believe it or not, I’m not actually jaded, I just wish things were just. I guess I picked the wrong place and time…. oh well…
Other local Bay artists that you want to give a shout out to that you feel deserves greater recognition?
Wow! Too many to name….no comment.
Sir Lord Von Raven’s The Age of Machines is available now from Guitars and Bongos Records.
In July of 2014 we introduced you to Baltimore’s New God, with a listen to their Yellow K Records albumFirework, that delivered harmonies that entertained an audio pyrotechnic spectacle for the eyes and mind to consume with awe. The soundtrack for your early summer, or to make winter and spring seem like a rare fall holiday; brothers Kenneth and Curt Tompkins return with an exclusive visual to bring us back to the feelings and emotions that were first stirred during the sunshine solstice of 2014.
On the premiere of New God’s self-made for “I Know Something About You” presents a creative vignette about friends and lovers enjoying the presence of each other, and finding a variety of new ways to communicate intimate items to one another. Kenny and his fiance Lindsay sport cardboard boxes on their heads, designed to look like monitor screens that display a different kind of text message system that conveys certain lyrics in quips like, “In between, the air, I can, feel your, heart, pounding, like a drum, glowing, like a star,” “automatic, song, turned on, all the lights,” “filled my eyes with stars, shining, silver, streams,” and more. The aspects of getting to know someone and expressing words, poetry, and treasured moments is done through the text and eyeball displays that enjoy the presences one of another in between acoustic guitar and tambourine times spent in the park, balancing on a log, to finding a sweet shady place. Kenneth explained the following to us about the DIY making of the video, with some entertaining, and scar side notes, immediately following the video debut of “I Know Something About You”.
The video we made for “I Know Something About You” does contain some imagery that may suggest a certain viewpoint on technology but we did not really talk or think about those concepts at all when the ideas were being hashed out. Curt and I were only concerned with the way it looked. We do all of this ourselves so our biggest concerns were finding good looking locations and making the special effects work with zero money or outside help involved. This video and song are both about intimacy. If there are any messages about technology they were an after thought. I am happy that, whatever the message we are sending, the video generally feels joyful and optimistic to me. You might think because the characters in the video have something like computer screens for heads that we are commenting on an over use of technology but that is not the case. If anything the video pushes past any dark dystopian concepts that might come to mind and shows the characters communicating intimacy in a new language that combines text, images, and video. It’s not very far from sending your boyfriend a text with an emoji attached or sending a buddy a funny meme to keep in touch. It’s just placed in a different framework in our video.
Side note: For the scenes on the giant log we were balancing ourselves for several hours over a deep stream with the boxes on our heads making it impossible to see. We would put the boxes on and shoot a while but after a few minutes the feeling of vertigo would kick in and we would need a break. I was sure that we would both end up falling in the stream by the end of the day but we made it through. My fiance, Lindsay (who plays the female character in the video), and I both experienced a sort of sensory deprivation which came with hallucinations and extreme shifts between terror and peacefulness. So what I’m saying is if you can find a log running over a stream, and you walk out in the middle and blindfold yourself it will only take a few minutes and your brain will start doing some really psychedelic things. Free nature drugs. Disclaimer: don’t do it cause you will probably drowned and die.
New God’s album Firework is available now from Yellow K Records.
There we were this week minding our own business, when suddenly CRUISR’s Bruno Catrambone dropped his new solo adventure, Spirit Haus with a first listen to the single, “I Know Your Worried” before it’s February 24 release on Manimal. For those that have felt contended with their excessive stacks of British Invasion wax and have been going on a binge of everything Jackson Scott’s been cooking up as of late — Catrambone has cooked up a concoction of Mellotron mellow-melodies that harmonize through a haze of the kind of candid conversations and fuzzy static that cuts through the song structured as a lackadaisical, yet serious conversation taking place between two people.
And from the start of the static treated drum machine, The Spirit Haus trips haunts you back and forth into the sleep eyed organ rocker. Bruno takes on the “I don’t care at all” to the surrounding world of concerns, penning his own musical and modern update of a Bartleby, the Scrivener—the indie pop song. “I Know You’re Worried” trips down those corridors of pulling the curtain chord to emulate the ethics and methods of the modern and contemporaneous pop masters through that drifting deluge of ambient, extraterrestrial ebbing, and paranormal like summoning of vague déjà vu reaction impulses that lie deep within the psyche. Treat yourself to your new favorite winter single, and read our recent conversation with Bruno as we discuss the new project, Pennsylvania, and more.
How has your surrounding environments of Pennsylvania inspired your work for both CRUISR and Spirit Haus?
Pennsylvania is such a beautiful state, I feel like I keep stumbling on parts of Pennsylvania that I never knew existed. As a whole, it’s been pretty cool living in suburbia as a kid growing up then moving to the green, hilly farmlands throughout college then into the city as a ‘young adult’. I think every part of my time in both Philly and its suburbs has played a part in the type of writing I’ve done. When I was at school in the middle of nowhere my life felt like one giant house party and that seemed to carry over into the theme of the songs I was writing. Since then I’ve been living downtown in the city for a few years now so it’s shifted what I do on a daily basis and how I do it. Philly being such a cool atmosphere to be as a twenty something musician, has really made me fall in love with my surroundings. One of the first Spirit Haus songs I was demoing is directly tied to the neighborhood vibe I’ve recently move into in South Philly. I’d say everything in this city I’ve gotten to experience has been a big influence — my friends, the night life, the little cafes, the pop-up parks, the expanding venues and bars, it’s an amazing place to live right now.
What’s the latest from the Penn scene?
The scene here is incredible. I still can’t get over how many amazing bands and artists are coming out of Philly. I feel like every time I think I have a grasp on what’s going on, something new comes along and blows my mind. I also can’t keep up with all of the house venues I’ve seen pop-up lately and I love it. I always see show announcements for these house shows and I always hop on and see where in the city it is because I’ve never heard of it — it’s super cool to see. Not only the house shows but the amount of venues that have gone up — a perfect example is Boot & Saddle. It popped-up a few blocks from my house and the shows that come through are amazing. Also, places like Union Transfer that brought an incredible room on a much larger scale to Philly that gave us a really cool spot to see bigger acts in a bigger room while still maintaining that intimate feeling you hope for when you see a show. There are just so many places to go to listen, see and play music that it just seems to help the scene here thrive. There’s always something to do and see and always a venue that will open its doors to you and your band and I’ve always felt like that is so important. Along with that is the eclectic mix of genres from singer-songwriters to dance/electronic to rock to hip hop — all corners of the spectrum are covered in Philly and it’s amazing.
What prompted you to begin Spirit Haus?
I feel like it kind’ve happened accidentally. I think the fact that it came together so organically is what made me pursue it. I basically just started tampering with all new sounds that I never tried before. I used to be pretty deep into the folk rock thing but I’ve always had some weird fascination with lo-fi, electronic pop stuff.
I blame the start of Spirit Haus recordings on this one time a friend of mine was driving us around New York City and he put on that Black Marble record, A Different Arrangement and I just remember saying out loud ‘What is this, this is fucking amazing.’ and I remember going home and demoing this keyboard line I found and that sort’ve turned into the first Spirit Haus song. I didn’t think I’d ever name the project or put anything out, but a few friends heard what I was working on and told me I should put something together so I guess it’s just been a lot of late nights tampering with sounds and a lot of whiskey and red wine, ha. I can be quite the hermit so I also blame that.
What sorts of cause for concern and worry informed your groovy single, “I Know You’re Worried”?
I always have a tough time explaining what songs are about partially because I want the listener to take from it what they want to take from it. I remember hearing a song that made me feel a certain way and then once I learned what it was about, I felt disconnected from it.
But with this song, I kind’ve just said screw it, and put it all out there as being a very lethargic outlook on everything going on around me. It kind’ve just follows around the idea of someone who feels extremely disconnected with everything and witnessing how it’s starting to wear on the people close to them.
What other recordings do you have in the works?
I have about an EPs worth of material recorded and mixed. I’m always working on new stuff so I’m not sure what the next step will be but I’ve definitely got more stuff on the way.
Describe for us your own composition and recording approaches.
I always end up writing when I don’t mean to. I’ve never been any good at the ‘okay, I’m going to sit down and write a song’ thing. Ideas and concepts always seem to come when I’m doing other things or working on something else. It’s very rare that I can just sit down and write a song. I’ll sit down and play guitar and stumble on something but I usually need to be mentally invested in other things before I can write anything. I think it’s because I tend to get in my own way. If there’s something I’m hearing, I run with it and demo it and build a song that way but sometimes an entire song falls out completely on its own which basically just entails me hitting record and tracking the scratch tracks. Once I do start on an idea, I’m all in and completed enthralled in getting it right.
I’ll spend entire days on something but I always have to walk away from it for a while and do other things and come back to it. A lot of the time I’ll spend half a day on something then take a shower and think about the next parts and the lyrics or meet up with a friend for a few drinks and pick it back up when I get home. If I spend too much time on something I will overdo it and that’s one thing I always try to avoid. I love letting the songs happen as they come out instead of forcing any sort of structure or ‘parts’. I always hear that ‘lyrics or music first?’ question and I can never answer it because each song happens differently.
As for recording, I’ve been doing makeshift recordings in my bedroom for years. It gives me complete control but I also love the process of finding sounds and putting everything together. It’s just something I really like to do. That’s something I like about this Spirit Haus project — I can go to my room and close the door and work on it with no rules or limits whenever I want to.
Other local artists you wanna give a shout out to?
So, so many to name but I’d love to give a few shout-outs to Suburban Living, Dream Safari, Locals, City Rain, Jeremiah Tall, Josh Miller, Tutlie, Nicky P, White Birds and so many more.
Spirit Haus’s single “I know You’re Worried ” will be avaialble February 24 from Manimal.
UK’s alt-avant-garde superstar on the make Joey Fourr released the single, “My Dolphins” that combines minimalist dance surrealism that alludes to the sea mammal creatures as if they were part of a baseball club or a neighborhood backyard gang. The bizarre, brash and brooding antics continue on Joey’s debut album, To The Floorr available April 1 from Atelier Ciseaux on digital and pink tapes, limited to 50 copies with the vinyl available through Milk Records. Joey described to us the new single and the making of the album to us in the following exclusive:
I had recorded a bunch of songs but they all needed lyrics, so I write down a bunch of words I want to color the songs in with, choosing one word for a song and writing lyrics with that idea in mind. “My Dolphins” and several other songs, some of which you can hear as b-sides to “My Dolphins” or on To The Floorr and others which are yet to be released, are the fruits of this idea.
To The Floorr is a combination of old and new Joey Fourr songs, old because playing live with Moema (bass) and Jack (drums) has helped transform and shape the old into a new sound I feel happy and comfortable with, which then lead on to songs being written and recorded, feeling inspired specifically by these people and writing shiny new songs instead of polishing and updating the old. I suppose everything though, inevitably is writing new the old?
Meet LA’s Professor Possessor, made up of Jess Imme, Hayden Hall, Jacob Summers, and Scarlet A. Newman-Thomas who debut the sultry, and sexed up broiled red hot body heat pop of, “Passion”. Taken off their Lamb’s Paw Records EP Mystics and Passion, they Los Angeles group keeps the vibe weird, while having fun with the electric candy pop that is covered throughout the saccharine kernels like “Buffalo”, “Crystal Lake”, “Daytime Television”, and “Mystics”. Distorting the clean disco channels for ultra big productions made on a budget; Professor Possessor haunts like a hip ghost inhabited fun house.
All the oddities of Mysics and Passion come to a head on the finale of “Passion”, where Professor Possessor takes the role of an aberated version of Berlin where new wave Euro groove revisions are created from a Los Angeles groove. A love theme for gals, guys, and ghouls; neon splashes and sparkles shine like multicolored chromed creatures of the night that continue our fascination with the indie LA circuits. The Possessors wrote us this about the song, “Passion”:
Jacob wrote “Passion” after he and Hayden met their boyfriend David at a Halloween party. The three have been pretty inseparable ever since. We were going for something simple and sexy; a blurry pop song about gettin’ busy by the fire.
Having just dropped their “People’s Princess Mix” Friday Night Mix, Yumi Zouma’s EP II will be available March 10 from Cascine, and we have their new single “Song For Zoe & Gwen” that harkens back to the group’s own prom date memories. That signature YZ sound that brings the NZ closer to the sophisto pop leagues of the Parisian and Brooklyn varieties, where those sentimental nerve striking melodies and harmony progressions mark the cognitive phases and progressions of like that pour beautifully from the speakers like a never ending stream of memories that refuse to cease. The pain, the pride, the awkward silences, the unrequited and unspoken crushes and more haunt in ways that are unique to the individual listener, and their own respective codes of experiences.
Ottawa by California’s Peach Kelli Pop dropped the economic and glittering single, ” “Princess Castle 1987” to take you to those retro gaming vibes of fighting Koopas and more while trying to find extra life mushrooms and more. Their new album will be available in April from Burger Records.
Echodrone’s album Five will be available February 24 from dream pop guardians, Saint Marie, and we present a listen to the plush and lush bed of noise, “NoiseBed”, for you to lay leisurely in. The title of the LP welcomes the new additions of Rachel Lopez, Jim Hrabak, and Mike Funk who join founding members Eugene Suh and Brandon Dudley to create pop dreams conjured from the ethereal and void and ether that bridges the places where blissful scuzz, electronic elements, and and the viscous down pour of sonic dream sounds.
In case you haven’t already; meet Ireland’s Girl Band, who have just signed to Rough Trade who are releasing their The Early Years EP, as the group also preps for some upcoming dates at SxSW. Giving you a look at their Bog Gallagher video for their cover Blawan’s “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?”, a mortician gets extra weird in the autopsy process of dissecting a cadaver like a bio-science class experiment that becomes overtaken by the rhythm. We will warn you in advance that this is not for the squeamish, but for the adventurous and lovers of all things dadaist and post-punk.
Vancouver duo duo Humans recently released the tractor-beam-tracer single, “Follow”, available from their album,Noontide on February 24. The electronic feats of anxious anticipation gets met with the sub-bass boom and handclap stomp to keep your night kicking onward past the curfews and witching hours.
When we weren’t looking, SF’s Face Tat brought something that is not your run of the mill street aligned placas, but rather some of that October-Halloween saturated vibes with their EP, It’s Your Funeral. The synths surface on the opening title track that gets grim, and bleary while doing a lot of with minimalist economy. “Don’t Get Any Closer” runs long-nailed gripped key loops and a mentality that leaves with the ambiguous and ominous cliffhanger, “Let’s Not And Say We Did”. Some of the loops meander in the shambles aesthetic, but the environments inhabited and lorded over by Mike G’s vocals are the star attraction here.
Kid Flicks, the project of Greece’s Nickos Dervisis released the “The Day of The Strange Tide” single, made as a result of watching Parajanov films, and the making of his new forthcoming LP. To be featured on an upcoming compilation from Disco Tocopilla, the Flicks sound carves rock gardens in the heart and mind like get away nature sanctuaries to meditate in. Nickos wrote the following bit about the new track:
This song is gonna be included in a forthcoming compilation by Disco Tocopilla which is gonna be DOPE! I wrote this tune especially for this compilation, but I must confess that I also wrote two more songs before that which I liked more and kept them for the studio sessions. It is so refreshing to do commissioned work. I’m not sure which one I like the most anymore, but I feel that this song represents the last fruit of an era of homemade recordings as it stands right in the middle of what has passed and what’s to come. I mixed it using headphones in Ioanna’s apartment with 5 more friends working on their own stuff nearby. After that we did a dj battle with Themos. He won. It was an amazing afternoon and it must happen again.
Boasting a bitchin’ flute solo by Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson; it’s your favorite bros, JEFF the Brotherhood delivering good on a warm slice of, “Black Cherry Pie”, off their latest alt-American-angst album of anthems, Wasted on the Dream, available March 24 from Infinity Cat Recordings. Preparing for an epic tour that runs from March 17 through April 12 (including SxSW dates ranging between March 19-21), listen to the brethren saints of Nashville give you something to keep your fist clenched and pumping firmly in the air toward an uncertain, unknown, and entertaining new day.
Jacco Gardner’s album Hypnophobia will be available May 5 from Polyvinyl, and we present you a listen to the self-searching single, “Find Yourself”. The journey to find the self is catapulted into the summer breeze of an endless season of ultraviolet rays where Jacco invites you to stop fighting the feeling, and just “let it in” while soaking up overcast sun rays of winter and spring.
Olympia’s Broken Water gave us a scuzz bath earful of their single “High Lo”, from the upcoming album Wrought available March 24 from Night-People Records. With a west coast tour happening in March, you will be playing “High-Lo” to take you cruising cool through all of life’s highs and lows.
Brooklyn by North Carolina’s KDH (otherwise known to folks as Kill Devil Hills) unleashed some blessed and unbridled, “Beloved Devotion”, that keeps the rock and roll ethics devout, available off their forthcoming Piedmont Rose available April 1. Psych shades cast shadows of your favorite shredders, and legendary dive bar destroyers.
Heralding from Grand Rapids, Michigan; Heaters dropped the “Levitate Thigh” b-side off their upcoming Mean Green 7″ (available April 28 from Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records), and we have the Psyche Coaster assembled video of dancing Gene Kellys to provide a touch of the debonair to one of the noisiest tracks you’re going to hear all winter/spring.
Slated to play at this year’s SxSW, LA’s of Verona dropped their vidoe for “Dark In My Imagination”, taken off their album debut, The White Apple. Shot on a Harinezumi 2 Retro Camera by JungleGe0rge at Swing House Studios; the darker places of the imaginative interior are personified through a vintage, sometimes sepia toned that mixes classic glamor-goth chic with the post-triangle movement trend of symbols.
Check out the title track/Valentine’s card in a song, “Hey Love” from Hayden’s upcoming Arts & Crafts album available March 24. The sound of a 1,001 nights spent at lonely desolate motels are evoked in a way that conveys a life spent on the solitary roads.
With their album Equal Under Pressure available now from Echo Phono; peep Chelan’s Robert Williamson video for “Before It All” that turns time forward and backward through performance overlays mixed with evocative scenery to match the electro laden sentimental scenarios.
Playing February 23 at the Mercury Lounge with Ricky Eat Acid, Glass Gang made a cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for Kurt’s birthday, turning a grunge affair into an alt indie underground rave. Built like basement prog-house with all sorts of post industrial adornments; you will be chanting, “here we are now, entertain us” throughout the entire weekend.
And in case you missed it, here is Chaz Bundick’s self-directed video for the new Toro Y Moi cut, “Empty Nesters,” from the upcoming album, What For? available April 7 fromCarpark Records. As his more dance leaning project Les Sins takes off, Chaz takes his Toro project back to it’s bliss pop roots with an added robust production quality. Watch Chaz square off with the grim reaper now.
Check out the remix from the legend Andrew Weatherall for the single, “Until You’re Worth It” from Mugwump’s collaboratipm with Norway’s Päl Nyhus of Mungolian Jetset, along with Tore Gjedrem of Ost & Kjex. Groove to the new house special here courtesy of Andy W himself, as Mugwump’s album debut, Unspell will be available March 22.
Also peep the Mugwump remix from Mark E here as well.
Taking on The Go-Gos, “Vacation”, and Wang Chung’s, “Dancehall Days”; Brett follows up their Cascine album debut by bringing more of their 80s glamor synth waves to reinvent the past by treating the synths and studio consoles like revisionist time machines.
Also must hear/see is Mozart’s Sister dancing about in the animated video for, “Salty Tears”, from John Minkoff, off her recently released Asthmatic Kitty album, Being.
Our friend and all of yours Juan Wauters lent us more of his genuine sincere strummed gold with “She Might Get Shot”, taken off Juan’s upcoming album, Who Me? available May 12 on Captured Tracks. The modern day troubadour brings his own style of story-telling while dipping a toe into the Lee Hazlewood well spring of song-craft that pits danger, damsels, and dudes up against life’s innumerable combinations of odds.
The Soft Moon’s Week in Pop
The Soft Moon, photographed at 285 Kent Ave by Emily Cheng.
The Soft Moon follows up the album Zeros with the forthcoming album Deeper available March 31 from Captured Tracks, and we are honored and privileged to present the following cult-horror film soundtrack themed Week in Pop co-curation courtesy of frontman Luis Vasquez.
The Entity Soundtrack — Charles Bernstein, “Relentless Attack”
Cannibal Holocaust — Riz Ortolani “Adulteress’ Punishment”
Suspiria — Goblin, “Parte 1”
Phantasm — Fed Myrow & Malcom Seagrave, “Main Theme”
Halloween — John Carpenter, “Halloween (Main Title)”
Cannibal Ferox — Budy Maglione
Jaws — John Williams
Buio Omega — Goblin
Psycho — George Fenton
Chopping Mall — Chuck Cirino, “Main Theme”
Follow Luis Vasquez, and The Soft Moon on Twitter.