Week in Pop: Bobbi Rush, King Z3US, Longface

Sjimon Gompers

The rise of Baltimore boss Bobbi Rush; press photo courtesy of BobbiRush.

Fovea

Fovea forever; photographed by Casey Steffans.

Brooklyn’s Fovea are preparing for the grand launch of their new album Pencil Me In available December 8 from Omad Records. The close knit group of friends follow-up their debut Fear Of with their latest alchemy of thoughtful sounds that in all earnest strive to not sound like anyone, let alone anything else you might hear out there. Halley Furlong-Mitchell, Jake DeNicola, Maxwell Weigel & Steve Shaw fuse a barrage of talented instincts that click together to pen hymns of beauty for a current day world consumed in its own short-sighted doctrines of regressive hubris. Fovea offer aesthetic audio antidotes for the jaded masses to enjoy with all of their hearts, spirits & minds.

Sharing a look at their Jake DeNicola video for “Puppy”, kanine motifs & lamentations of lost dogs named “Max” & “Jake” (played by the band’s own Maxwell Weigel & Jake DeNicola respectively) inspire Halley Furlong-Mitchell & Steve Shaw to seek out their lost bandmates. Fovea break into a shady tow-shack to steal back their doggy-dressed buddies, locked up in a kennel cage that then leads the group to rescue a crew of real pooches from the wrongdoers. As the antics are carried out, warm images of togetherness embody the sublime serenity and beauty of the Fovea aesthetic that will instantly make them your favorite band. The visuals & audio of “Puppy” will bring about a benign sense of calm that feels harder & harder to acquire during the chaotic epoch of our times.

We had a chance to catch up with Fovea’s own Steve Shaw, Max Weigel, Jake DeNicola & Halley Furlong-Mitchell in the following roundtable interview exclusive:

Take us back to Fovea’s formidable beginnings back​ in​ ​2014 ​at​​ Skidmore ​College.

Jake:​​ ​Oh​ ​yes,​ ​the​ ​early​ ​beginnings.​ ​Days​ ​spent​ ​practicing​ ​in​ ​a​ ​cold​ ​and​ ​damp​ ​converted​ ​trailer​ ​on​ ​Skidmore​ ​campus.​ ​It really​ ​started​ ​as​ ​the​ ​brain​ ​child​ ​of​ ​Max​ ​and​ ​Halley,​ ​with​ ​two​ ​demos;​ ​”Sapeller”​ ​which​ ​is​ ​actually​ ​on​ ​the​ ​new​ ​album, and​ ​”Doubles”.​ ​Then​ ​Stove​ ​and​ ​I​ ​came​ ​along,​ ​we​ ​all​ ​started​ ​reworking​ ​the​ ​demos,​ ​feeding​ ​off​ ​of​ ​songs​ ​written​ ​by various​ ​members​ ​years​ ​ago,​ ​or​ ​songs​ ​that​ ​sort​ ​of​ ​just​ ​formed​ ​out​ ​of​ ​jam​ ​sessions.

We​ ​just​ ​came​ ​together​ ​to​ ​practice​ ​every​ ​week,​ ​almost​ ​as​ ​a​ ​form​ ​of​ ​therapy.​ ​I​ ​think​ ​in​ ​the​ ​beginning​ ​that’s​ ​mainly​ ​the reason​ ​we​ ​played​ ​together,​ ​a​ ​way​ ​to​ ​ease​ ​or​ ​express​ ​our​ ​emotions,​ ​to​ ​get​ ​through​ ​whatever​ ​we​ ​were​ ​all​ ​dealing​ ​with at​ ​the​ ​time.​ ​There’s​ ​something​ ​about​ ​communicating​ ​with​ ​a​ ​group​ ​of​ ​other​ ​people​ ​on​ ​a​ ​musical​ ​level​ ​that​ ​can​ ​do much​ ​more​ ​than​ ​strictly​ ​talking​ ​can.​ ​It’s​ ​really​ ​beautiful​ ​to​ ​see​ ​such​ ​a​ ​positive​ ​emotional​ ​shift​ ​from​ ​the​ ​beginning​ ​of practice,​ ​to​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​practice.

Halley:​ ​​I​ ​had​ ​just​ ​gotten​ ​back​ ​from​ ​a​ ​semester​ ​abroad​ ​in​ ​Paris,​ ​and​ ​had​ ​felt​ ​really​ ​distant​ ​from​ ​any​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​creative​ ​output. It​ ​was​ ​the​ ​first​ ​time​ ​in​ ​a​ ​long​ ​time​ ​that​ ​I​ ​hadn’t ​been​ ​regularly​ ​taking​ ​music​ ​lessons​ ​or​ ​classes,​ ​and​ ​so​ ​when​ ​I​ ​got​ ​back to​ ​Saratoga​ ​for​ ​the​ ​summer,​ ​was​ ​itching​ ​to​ ​make​ ​music.​ ​I​ ​met​ ​up​ ​with​ ​Max,​ ​who​ ​was​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​first​ ​(and​ ​closest) friends​ ​at​ ​Skidmore,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​began​ ​Fovea​ ​by​ ​really​ ​just​ ​jamming​ ​at​ ​his​ ​apartment​ ​a​ ​few​ ​times​ ​a​ ​week,​ ​doing​ ​mostly Ciara​ ​covers​ ​(“Body​ ​Party”).​ ​Within​ ​two​ ​weeks​ ​we​ ​were​ ​writing​ ​our​ ​own​ ​music,​ “S’apeller”,​ ​which​ ​was​ ​quickly​ ​followed by​ “Doubles”. ​​Max​ ​invited​ ​Jake​ ​and​ ​Stove​ ​to​ ​join​ ​us,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​became​ ​a​ ​band.

Also interested in hearing more about how you all approach taking new approaches, applications and the like to musical conventions.

Steve:​ ​​I​ ​think​ ​a​ ​big​ ​part​ ​of​ ​taking​ ​new​ ​approaches​ ​is​ ​not​ ​having​ ​a​ ​set​ ​way​ ​to​ ​create​ ​music.​ ​A​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​the​ ​times​ ​songs​ ​come from​ ​jams​ ​or​ ​Iphone​ ​demos​ ​but​ ​these​ ​rarely​ ​become​ ​the​ ​songs​ ​themselves,​ ​the​ ​songs​ ​usually​ ​change​ ​as​ ​we​ ​revise and​ ​add​ ​and​ ​redact​ ​parts.​ ​Another​ ​big​ ​part​ ​of​ ​taking​ ​new​ ​approaches​ ​is​ ​being​ ​comfortable​ ​with​ ​everybody​ ​in​ ​the band,​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​feel​ ​the​ ​need​ ​to​ ​prove​ ​ourselves​ ​to​ ​each​ ​other​ ​and​ ​can​ ​wear​ ​our​ ​influences​ ​on​ ​our​ ​sleeves.

Max:​​ ​We​ ​all​ ​have​ ​different​ ​approaches​ ​to​ ​making​ ​art.​ ​Halley​ ​might​ ​pull​ ​a​ ​lyric​ ​fragment​ ​from​ ​her​ ​poetry​ ​thesis​ ​over​ ​an open​ ​ended​ ​tune​ ​to​ ​give​ ​it​ ​direction.​ ​Jake​ ​will​ ​spitball​ ​video​ ​ideas​ ​for​ ​a​ ​song​ ​after​ ​he​ ​restructures​ ​it.​ ​I​ ​might​ ​take​ ​a sound​ ​from​ ​some​ ​audio​ ​I’ve​ ​been​ ​screwing​ ​around​ ​with​ ​and​ ​see​ ​how​ ​we​ ​can​ ​recreate​ ​it.​ ​Oftentimes​ ​we’ll​ ​present whatever​ ​idea​ ​we’ve​ ​been​ ​mulling​ ​over​ ​in​ ​practice,​ ​volleying​ ​feedback​ ​until​ ​we​ ​find​ ​the​ ​right​ ​context.

One of the more interesting stand ​out things too that you all do is how you all experiment with the expansive possibilities of auto-tuned-expressions. How is this component incorporated into the overall melodic fabric & evolving structures of your sound?

Max:​ ​​Working​ ​in​ ​the​ ​studio​ ​let​ ​us​ ​play​ ​with​ ​perspective​ ​and​ ​memory​ ​in​ ​a​ ​musical​ ​way.​ ​We​ ​use​ ​different​ ​filters​ ​to​ ​bridge words​ ​to​ ​intention​ ​all​ ​throughout​ ​Pencil​ ​Me​ ​In.​ ​Steve​ ​and​ ​I​ ​used​ ​auto-tune​ ​to​ ​suit​ ​the​ ​sonics​ ​of​ ​”Boss​ ​Boy”​ ​and​ ​”Worn Out”,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​sing​ ​about​ ​fragile​ ​masculinity​ ​on​ ​both.​ ​By​ ​mangling​ ​Gal​ ​Costa’s​ ​beautiful​ ​old​ ​tune​ ​”Cost​ ​Of”,​ ​it​ ​got​ ​a whole​ ​new​ ​pulse​ ​that​ ​we​ ​followed​ ​along.

Jake​ ​used​ ​cleaner​ ​audio​ ​from​ ​his​ ​interview​ ​with​ ​Christine​ ​Choy​ ​to​ ​suit​ ​her​ ​clear​ ​vision​ ​on​ ​”Sent”;​ ​whereas​ ​Peter Lewis​ ​feels​ ​more​ ​distant​ ​recounting​ ​a​ ​dream​ ​through​ ​a​ ​phone​ ​on​ ​”Received”.​ ​I​ ​sing​ ​a​ ​re-pitched​ ​demo​ ​of​ ​”GTFO” from​ ​two​ ​years​ ​ago​ ​while​ ​our​ ​studio​ ​take​ ​overtakes​ ​it,​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​recreate​ ​the​ ​feeling​ ​of​ ​waking​ ​up​ ​without​ ​being​ ​ready to​ ​wake​ ​up.

A conversation with Fovea; photographed by Casey Steffens.

From Fear Of to Pencil Me In—describe how the creative synergy between you all as a group has grown in this time.

Jake:​ ​​We​ ​definitely​ ​identified​ ​early​ ​on​ ​that​ ​we​ ​would​ ​want​ ​to​ ​be​ ​pushing​ ​boundaries​ ​musically.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​like​ ​an​ ​unspoken agreement​ ​between​ ​all​ ​of​ ​us​ ​that​ ​we​ ​weren’t​ ​going​ ​to​ ​try​ ​to​ ​sound​ ​like​ ​anyone​ ​or​ ​anything​ ​in​ ​particular.​ ​Along​ ​with​ ​our friendships​, I​ ​mean​we’ve​ ​all​ ​become​ ​more​ ​or​ ​less​ ​family​ ​at​ ​this​ ​point,​ ​I​ ​think​ ​we’ve​ ​all​ ​come​ ​to​ ​own​ ​our​ ​unique​ ​style. We​ ​know​ ​what​ ​sounds​ ​fovea,​ ​but​ ​it’s​ ​tough​ ​describe​ ​what​ ​that​ ​is​ ​exactly,​ ​but​ ​we​ ​all​ ​have​ ​a​ ​pretty​ ​mutual understanding​ ​what​ ​our​ ​identity​ ​is.

Halley:​ ​​Listening​ ​to​ ​​Fear​ Of ​and​ Pencil Me In,​ ​I​ ​think​ ​we​ ​definitely​ ​have​ ​been​ ​able​ ​to​ ​pinpoint​ ​exactly​ ​where​ ​our​ ​musical tastes​ ​come​ ​together,​ ​whether​ ​it’s​ ​inspiration​ ​from​ ​an​ ​Isley​ ​Brothers​ ​track,​ ​Beach​ ​House​ ​or​ ​Yung​ ​Thug.​ ​I​ ​think​ ​our understanding​ ​of​ ​our​ ​sound​ ​has​ ​became​ ​clearer​ ​as​ ​we’ve​ ​grown​ ​to​ ​understand​ ​each​ ​other—we​ ​can​ ​intuit​ ​what​ ​the others​ ​will​ ​think,​ ​what​ ​they’ll​ ​like,​ ​what’s​ ​not​ ​working​ ​and​ ​what​ ​we​ ​all​ ​can​ ​rally​ ​behind.​ ​We​ ​really​ ​have​ ​become​ ​a​ ​little family​ ​in​ ​that​ ​sense,​ ​just​ ​in​ ​the​ ​way​ ​that​ ​we​ ​know​ ​each​ ​other.

Tell us more too about the lyrical & arrangement connection in the Fovea approach to song-craft.

Max:​ ​​We​ ​recorded​ ​tracks​ ​like​ ​“Sent”,​ ​“Received”,​ ​and​ ​“Chiamami”​ ​knowing​ ​we’d​ ​have​ ​spoken​ ​word​ ​elements,​ ​so​ ​we kept​ ​them​ ​open-ended.​ ​We​ ​explore​ ​topics​ ​like​ ​communication​ ​and​ ​identity​ ​throughout​ ​Pencil​ ​Me​ ​In,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​think​ ​our songs​ ​transition​ ​and​ ​mutate​ ​in​ ​ways​ ​that​ ​reflect​ ​those​ ​themes.​ ​But​ ​Halley,​ ​Steve,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​would​ ​like​ ​to​ ​leave​ ​the meanings​ ​of​ ​our​ ​lyrics​ ​open-ended,​ ​and​ ​let​ ​the​ ​music​ ​guide​ ​you​ ​towards​ ​your​ ​own​ ​interpretations.​ ​They’re​ ​all​ ​​yours <3 Halley:​ ​​Coming​ ​from​ ​a​ ​background​ ​in​ ​poetry,​ ​I've​ ​found​ ​that​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​my​ ​poems​ ​have​ ​second​ ​lives​ ​as​ ​Fovea​ ​lyrics,​ ​whether they’re​ ​lines​ ​that​ ​didn't​ ​make​ ​it​ ​into​ ​poems,​ ​poems​ ​that​ ​sound​ ​better​ ​as​ ​songs,​ ​or​ ​just​ ​more​ ​direct​ ​ways​ ​of​ ​saying what​ ​I​ ​need​ ​to​ ​say.​ ​My​ ​lyrics​ ​are,​ ​more​ ​than​ ​anything,​ ​things​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​not​ ​say​ ​anymore,​ ​that​ ​have​ ​to​ ​be​ ​spoken​ ​in​ ​that moment,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​certain​ ​need​ ​to​ ​them.​ ​Their​ ​interpretation,​ ​and​ ​their​ ​necessity,​ ​however,​ ​is​ ​entirely​ ​up​ ​to​ ​the​ ​listener. You​ ​can​ ​take​ ​what​ ​you​ ​want​ ​from​ ​them.​ ​Their​ ​meaning​ ​belongs​ ​to​ ​the​ ​listener​ ​as​ ​soon​ ​as​ ​the​ ​track​ ​is​ ​recorded. [caption id="attachment_412388" align="alignnone" width="620"] Beyond & behind the glass with Fovea; photographed by Casey Steffens.[/caption]

What artists & authors & auteurs are you all really into right now?

Steve:​ I’ve​ ​been​ ​really​ ​into​ ​classic​ ​film​ ​scores​ ​particularly​ ​the​ ​Gone​ ​With​ ​The​ ​Wind​ ​score​ ​by​ ​Max​ ​Steiner.​ ​Something about​ ​the​ ​main​ ​theme​ ​just​ ​really​ ​hits​ ​me​ ​right​ ​in​ ​the​ ​gut​ ​and​ ​reminds​ ​me​ ​of​ ​why​ ​I​ ​love​ ​listening​ ​to​ ​and​ ​creating​ ​music. I’ve​ ​also​ ​been​ ​into​ ​Henry​ ​Mancini​ ​(“Dear​ ​Heart“)​ ​and​ ​Kanye​ ​West’s​ ​later​ ​work​ ​(Yeezus/The​ ​Life​ ​of​ ​Pablo)​ ​as​ ​well.

Jake:​ ​​I’m​ ​a​ ​filmmaker​ ​and​ ​cinematographer.​ ​So​ ​I’m​ ​always​ ​paying​ ​attention​ ​to​ ​what​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​trends​ ​are​ ​happening​ ​in​ ​the film​ ​world.​ ​I’m​ ​a​ ​particular​ ​fan​ ​of​ ​anything​ ​that​ ​A24​ ​comes​ ​out​ ​with.​ ​Films​ ​they’ve​ ​released​ ​like;​ ​Good​ ​time,​ ​Get​ ​Out, Moonlight,​ ​are​ ​all​ ​re-imagining​ ​how​ ​films​ ​can​ ​be​ ​made,​ ​it’s​ ​exciting​ ​to​ ​watch. ​If​ ​the​ ​Saftie​ ​brothers​ ​want​ ​us​ ​to​ ​score their​ ​next​ ​film,​ ​were​ ​cool​ ​with​ ​that.

Max:​ Recently​ ​I’ve​ ​been​ ​inspired​ ​by​ ​George​ ​Herriman​ ​and​ ​newer​ ​artists​ ​like​ ​Michael​ ​Deforge.​ ​Both​ ​of​ ​them​ ​mix surrealism​ ​and​ ​social​ ​commentary​ ​into​ ​their​ ​comics,​ ​but​ ​still​ ​manage​ ​to​ ​be​ ​both​ ​funny​ ​and​ ​a​ ​little​ ​tender.​ ​Michael Turkell​ ​just​ ​put​ ​out​ ​an​ ​amazing​ ​book​ Acid Tripthat​ ​explores​ ​the​ ​world​ ​of​ ​vinegars​ ​in​ ​depth,​ ​with​ ​advice​ ​on​ ​how​ ​to make​ ​your​ ​own.​ ​So​ ​expect​ ​something​ ​I​ ​aged​ ​under​ ​my​ ​bed​ ​to​ ​appear​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Fovea​ ​Cookbook.

Halley:​ As​ ​a​ ​poetry​ ​grad​ ​student,​ ​I​ ​mostly​ ​read​ ​poetry​ ​collections,​ ​and​ ​have​ ​been​ ​obsessed​ ​with​ ​CA​Conrad’s​ ​most​ ​recent book,​ While​ ​Standing​ ​in​ ​Line​ ​for​ ​Death. I’ve​ ​read​ ​it​ ​like​ four​ ​times​ ​now​ ​but​ ​keep​ ​finding​ ​new​ ​poems​ ​I​ ​love…for additional​ ​inspiration,​ ​I​ ​find​ ​myself​ ​always​ ​coming​ ​back​ ​to​ ​work​ ​by​ ​Ariana​ ​Reines,​ ​Simone​ ​Weil,​ ​Tao​ ​Lin,​ ​Morgan Parker​ ​and​ ​Solmaz​ ​Sharif.

Hints & previews of what might be next in the Fovea canon? ​​2018 meditations and focuses?

Steve:​​ ​We’d​ ​really​ ​like​ ​to​ ​get​ ​out​ ​and​ ​play​ ​more​ ​outside​ ​of​ ​New​ ​York!​ ​I​ ​think​ ​the​ ​perfect​ ​2018​ ​would​ ​include​ ​a​ ​couple​ ​of tours​ ​and​ ​a​ ​new​ ​record.​ ​We​ ​have​ ​a​ ​pretty​ ​big​ ​catalog​ ​of​ ​songs​ ​that​ ​are​ ​waiting​ ​to​ ​be​ ​recorded.

Jake: ​In​ ​the​ ​works​ ​we​ ​have​ ​a​ ​cool​ ​vinyl​ ​package​ ​that​ ​will​ ​be​ ​available​ ​upon​ ​release​ ​of​ ​the​ ​digital​ ​album.​ ​Max​ ​and​ ​Jake also​ ​have​ ​plans​ ​for​ ​designing​ ​a​ ​Fovea​ ​Cookbook.​ ​Halfway​ ​between​ ​art​ ​zine​ ​and​ ​home​ ​cookbook…​ ​We​ ​have​ ​12 tracks​ ​on​ ​the​ ​album,​ ​and​ ​there​ ​will​ ​be​ ​12​ ​recipes​ ​in​ ​the​ ​book,​ ​so​ ​put​ ​that​ ​in​ ​your​ ​brick​ ​oven​ ​and​ ​smoke​ ​it.​ ​We​ ​are​ ​also planning​ ​to​ ​put​ ​together​ ​a​ ​lil​ ​music​ ​tour,​ ​somewhere​ ​that​ ​stretches​ ​beyond​ ​our​ ​north​ ​east​ ​bubble.

Max:​​ ​Right​ ​now​ ​we’re​ ​mulling​ ​over​ ​new​ ​video​ ​ideas.​ ​I’m​ ​really​ ​gunning​ ​for​ ​a​ ​dance​ ​routine.​ ​Also​ ​we’re​ ​itching​ ​to​ ​record a​ ​whole​ ​slew​ ​of​ ​songs​ ​we’ve​ ​toyed​ ​with​ ​upstate,​ ​in​ ​our​ ​producer​ ​John’s​ ​barn-turned-studio.

Fovea’s album Pencil Me In will be available December 8 via Omad Records.

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