Year in Pop: 2015

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Select interviews & insights from 2015’s Week in Pop editions at a glance.

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Sjimon Gompers | December 29, 2015

Delivering a fraction of highlights and standouts from this year's Week in Pop: 2015 features with our annual Year in Pop review edition; photograph by Sjimon Gompers.

Week in and week out, year in and year out, Impose’s Week in Pop provides exclusive insights, interviews, and debuts, and guest selections from your favorite artists along with snippets of all the latest buzz, hype, and more. These editions of Week in Pop would not be possible without the editorial eyes and generous assistance from Caitlin Greene, publisher Derek Evers, marketing director Blake Gillespie, current features editors Sam Lefebvre, Jes Skolnik, former editors Liz Pelly, Nina Mashurova, photo editors Edwina Hay, Eric Phipps, and countless other supportive teams. The following edition, featuring select artists and groups, is far from a complete roundup of the year’s best, but it does offer a look at some of the artists that made a difference this year.

And on that note it is our pleasure, pride, and privilege to present the Year in Pop: 2015—in semi-chronological order:

Draag

LA's Draag, with Danny, Jessica, Adrian, Carlos, & Adrian. (press photo)

LA’s Draag, with Danny, Jessica, Adrian, Carlos, & Adrian. (press photo)

From the creative side of indie LA; get to know Draag with their Traci Lordz EP that follows up their self-titled LP; expectations and anachronistic elements are thrown to the wild gusts of winter winds by the creative collective that counts Danny Rossi, Jessica, Adrian Acosta, Carlos Michel, and Adrian De La Cruz. Combined, Draag bring a powerful, multifaceted audio-armada working from multilateral stylistics levels in a unilateral war path formation. Don’t miss our lively interview with Draag’s Adrian & Adrian, Danny, Jessica, and Carlos.

Give us the latest report from indie LA.

Adrian De La Cruz: Lots of great bands. Mostly bad bands, but a lot of good ones, too.

Adrian Acosta: Nice little melting-pot of bands. The really good bands get the least exposure.

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How did you all meet, and what lead you all to start Draag?

Adrian De La Cruz: Draag started off as Adrian(Acosta)’s solo project. After getting a band together for live shows, everything fell into place and Draag began.

Danny: Me and Adrian played in a couple of projects together over the course of a five year span. We always talked about piecing together a legit group but the timing wasn’t working out. Last year we decided that it’s now or never and we just said the hell with it!

Jessica: The inborn drive to create, and the cosmos.

Adrian: Yes

What’s with the extra ‘a’ in the name?

Adrian De La Cruz: Two Adrian’s two A’s, duh.

Jessica: One ‘a’ would make it a little misleading, right?

From the recent “Lavender Hole” to our debut of “Chair”; it appears as if you all have a real sound shape shifting thing happening at work here. How do you all decide upon what kind of a sound you that you all want to go for, or does the music itself inform you by process of some kind of supernatural force?

Jessica: I trust everyone’s personal style and especially musical aptitude, so as long as each of us are genuine with what we contribute, I know the product will be delicious. We don’t know what to expect with any potential song. The sound shape shifting is the mess we made as a result of our collaborative experiments. The supernatural seems to be on our side too.

Danny: We never go out of our way to specifically sound like a certain genre. I think everyone’s vast taste and style transform the sound we put out in it’s own unique way.

Adrian De La Cruz: Adrian (Acosta) usually comes to us with an idea, then we take it from there. Either we “jam-it-out” as a band and it comes together like that, or the song comes together in the studio as we’re recording. The latter is typical of our more electronic songs.

Adrian Acosta: The day we decide the kind of band we want to be, is the day we breakup.

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What was the making of the epic, and original “Chair” like?

Adrian Acosta: Long, tedious process. It consists of layers upon layers of instruments, and experimentation. Chair was super fun to track, but a pain in the ass to mix. Adrian (De La Cruz) and I spent many late nights mixing the shit out of the song in our studio. I don’t think we’re 100% happy with the end result, but with the lack perspective towards the finish line, we knew we were getting close to sucking the life out of it….Sometimes you have to remind yourself that It doesn’t have to be perfect, the song as a whole and emotional value will suffice.

Adrian De La Cruz: Chair took a lot longer than we thought it would. Most of the time spent was spent on mixing. We’re starting to get more particular about our sound.

Danny: I feel like it’s our interpretation of a New Order/Gary Numan mashup. We knew we were going to have some fun with it right from the start.

Give us the full scoop on the forthcoming Traci Lordz EP, and perhaps any other recordings that you all might be working on?

Adrian De La Cruz: The new EP should be quite a departure from the last one in terms of sound. These are the first recordings to include the entire band. More electronics and more guitar.

Carlos: As for more recordings, our guitarist Adrian(De La Cruz) records most of our stuff, so we’re always recording something. But we did have the privilege of working with Jeff Byron of “The Mae Shi” for tracks “Gown, Monolith, and Lavender Hole in his studio in Highland Park.

Jessica: We don’t at all recommend a taste test of one song to encapsulate our EP. You don’t eat the individual ingredients of a recipe. Let it simmer as a whole entity. That’s how we represent our work.

Read the full feature here.

Harlem Sekani

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Helping to close out the holidays and ring in the new year with an NYC state of mind; watch Harlem Sekani’s new production “Therapist” featuring Black Dave. Sekani made his presence known by producing the title cut off Lil B’s ambitious 101 track mixtape, 05 Fuck Em; we talked to the rising producer last January about everything from the underground new school to a deep appreciation for Clams Casino, and more, with the new material placing focus on the Harlem artist in the not just the producer’s seat—but the director’s chair.

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“Therapist” raises a chalice for everyone anyone caught in the struggle and game of subsistence while reaching for the stars, and terrain of higher, and more solid ground. Taken off Sekani’s debut mixtape, 20; the self-made, self-produced, self-mixed, and self-mastered track cycle will be available on the artist’s twentieth birthday, February 20.Through all the distress and stress wrought by 2014, Harlem Sekani slowly slides into the comforts of presenting his voice side by side with the ethereal mix that combines the ephemeral sides of earth with the heavy weight of asphalt hard realities. Sharing bars with Black Dave, they spring some sounds of inspiration and creative therapy to make the winter a little warmer, and the future just a little bit brighter. In our recent conversations with the multitalented artist, Sekani told us the following about the new track and video:

I wanted to make a song to help people dealing with tough times. This is my first time writing, rapping, mixing/mastering, and directing a music video. Rob Coin (signed to warner bros) makes a cameo in the video.

Keep up with Harlem Sekani on Soundcloud and Twitter. Read the whole feature here.

Sarob.

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Dayton, Ohio’s Sarob., aka Rob Tate has been acclaimed by talents like Homeboy Sandman, and released “holiday” between the xmas and New Year’s Holiday hype. From his upcoming project, the down. that follows up the tape noon; “holiday” describes the personal reluctances and the more nervous, and awkward sides of a talented emcee that many hide or supress. The result is an artist finding his comfort, and footing in his own trainers, while walking on the up and up, and down for whatever. The internal narratives and the outside worlds rush like the chill of winter winds and the desire for cabin comforts from the unpredictable exterior street ways and alleys. Robert Tate described the new track with the following thoughts:

The purpose of this song (and really the entire record) is to illustrate my vision and my experiences as a person who struggles with anxiety and has a hard time going to public places or even swallowing food sometimes. But I wanted to do it with a good vibe — something people can groove to and something with a hook that is equally as good as the other lyrics. I want people to feel better about what they are going through. There is something valuable in everyone’s experience, even if they’re down.

Listen to more from Sarob. via Soundcloud.

Boulevards

Boulevards' Jamil Rashad, photographed by Lauren Gesswein.

Raleigh, NC’s Boulevards—born Jamil Rashad—rocked our worlds with the single of future sex-and-sun-and simmer salutations, “Sundress” ft. Lena Carr. Now Boulevards cranks up that cruising cool to danced up tight funk-zapped pop on “Got To Go”. The new-schools of disco get taught a lesson with some of the freshest slaps around.

Following up our previous conversation, the other day we had further chats with our new favorite artist who is already all the talk of big time pop artists like La Roux and Rollergirl! and more:

With every Boulevards track, there is a feeling that you are switching lanes and getting into a whole other style to fit whichever track you got cooking. Was choosing the name Boulevards a way to demonstrate and allude to the different routes and roads you want your sound to take?

Yea, I looked up the definition of Boulevards and I felt it was me and what I represent. It was what I was feeling. I do what is best for the song and the music. I try out different ideas to see if they work or not. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. To me, music is just ideas turned into sounds, and sounds turned into arrangements that make a song. I like to explore different sounds, but keep them cohesive and still have that infectious groove without turning totally away from my style.

Give us what inspired this big, bold, and brightened up bounce of “Got To Go”, and how you infused so much energy, funk, and free feelings into two minutes time?

Got to go is just a sample of what’s to come, It’s party funk! It’s a fun song to keep the dance floor scorching. There is a lot of trap music, there is a lot of EDM music with the same buildups you hear at clubs, parties and blogs. I wanted to bring that funk and infectious groove. People can’t deny a good groove. You can’t deny the funk. Rollergirl! slapped on some stank bass and funky synths. It’s party funk orchestra. We had an idea to make you move and groove, that was it. An Infectious groove and an infectious hook. It’s fun music.

2015 plan for Boulevards?

Well, I’m just writing a lot of music, and putting it out how I want, with no labels. I’m working on some EPs right now with some composers who understand the funk and groove. They are talented and I’m excited to share these party jams we have been working so hard on.

Lessons and insights that you took away from 2014?

It was a year where I found myself learning a lot and growing a lot. I know what I’m capable of and not capable of. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and help you grow as an artist but also as an individual. But most important believing in your vision and what you can achieve and staying patient.

You are the guy to talk rare groove, rare prints and the like so I got to ask; give us five of the some of the lesser known, forgotten/lost/rare cuts you have been spinning lately that have been inspiring, and motivating you, personally, creatively, etc.

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Ahh man, where to start, I have been listening to so many cool records. I have been listening to alot of Colonel Abrahams, he has these two jams called “Trapped” and “Not Gonna Let Gonna Let You” It’s to die for.

A lot of slave records, They are like one of my favorite groups, them and the S.O.S Band, I just love there arrangements, syncopation, hooks, melodies. They make a lot of party funk jams. I’ve been digging some Crown Heights Affair, a funk band called Brick, Aurra, Kano, Serge Posnar, just to name a few, So many to name. But that’s what I’ve been listening to a lot of.

We’re still marinating on that amazing, slick, soft, and sweet pop of “Sundress”…where do you see the future of all these sort of pop sounds soaring toward?

Thank you man, “Sundress” is just a pop song, just like “Got to Go” but two different sounds. I dont know where I see pop music going. There is some great pop music and there is some bad pop music. All I care about is making pop music that I like, nothing more. Focusing on making the funkiest jams possible, the grooviest jams possible. Making party funk orchestras for the moment and jams that are timeless.

Listen to more from Boulevards here via Soundcloud, and read the whole feature here.

Rose Quartz

Ethan & Alex of Rose Quartz, photo courtesy of Jason Siegel.

Catching up with Denver dudes Rose Quartz, we marinated on the popped-out passion fruit flavored production of winters in July brought in their Axis of Love EP from the Red Bull Sound Select series. We catch up where Ethan and Alex left off as Flashlights and Mancub melted down, following the band through life’s ups, downs, ins, outs, and what have yous to savor their latest contributions to the pop music canon.

Tell us about the process of writing these new songs from the Axis of Love EP during the 2013/2014 winter under sub-zero degree temperatures.

We (Ethan & Alex) wrote the Axis of Love songs in a 10×12 backyard converted home gymnasium in Denver, CO in the sub-zero Winter of 2013/2014. We had both gone through some pretty tumultuous times in the preceding 6 months, mostly with regard to our jobs and personal relationships, and we made this EP to get it all off our chests.

This was also our attempt to have fun making music again after the fizzling out of previous bands Flashlights & Mancub, and it worked. We wrote these songs with heaters blasting and the volume perpetually cranked up to 10. We exploded a couple electrical sockets and froze our asses off, but we had a wonderful time. You’ll probably hear it pretty clearly in the lyrics, but we were trying super hard to get over the past, and we definitely came out with a fresh outlook on music and life.

Do you feel that tumultuous times and circumstances turn into creative gold?

Not necessarily. We’ve written some of our favorite tracks when we are at our happiest and some god-awful tracks during bad times, so I wouldn’t make the correlation that strong. That said, I do believe that bad circumstances often force people to become more introspective and thus provide really great inspiration for art. I definitely get very melancholy at times in the writing process and it allows me to dig deeper into the emotions I’m trying to convey lyrically.

I’d like to share my favorite quote on melancholy & creativity: It’s from Stutterheim —a Swedish Raincoat company so the artistic references are lost on me, but the overall message is loud and clear.

Feeling blue inspires creativity. What if August Strindberg, Ingmar Bergman, Karin Boye and hundreds of other famous Swedish artists had felt happy all the time? Would they have produced their fantastic work? No. Being melancholic is an essential part of being a human being. If we try too hard to get rid of melancholy it’s almost like we’re settling for a half-life. To embrace melancholy is ultimately to embrace joy.

Melancholy shouldn’t be confused with depression. Melancholy is an active state. When we’re melancholic, we feel uneasy with the way things are, the status quo, the conventions of our society. We yearn for a deeper, richer relationship with the world. And in that yearning, we’re forced to explore the potential within ourselves—a potential we might not have explored if we were simply content. Through our melancholy we come up with new ways of seeing the world and new ways of being in the world. Melancholy and creativity go together like ebony and ivory on a piano.

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How have your previous works from Flashlights and ManCub informed the newest Rose Quartz works?

So before Rose Quartz, we were both the second half of each other’s projects. ManCub was noise/dance punk and Flashlights was an electro-pop act. We’d even play shows back to back as a duo, where we would literally just switch places on stage between sets. What I’m saying is that that we know each other’s individual style extremely well at this point and we know where to play off each other’s strengths. The coolest thing in combining our efforts is that stylistically our scope is much wider. We can make a laid back soulful piano intro to a song and then close it with a wall of noise (see “Leaving Now”). Sonically, there’s just so much room to explore.

Walk us through memories of making the following cuts, “Leaving Now”, “Medicine”, and “Something To Believe”, off the new EP.

All three of these tracks were extremely collaborative efforts, with “Leaving Now” probably having the most interesting story. Alex emailed me a piano track that he had written and I chopped off the intro chords and started a totally new song with them. I built the beat and came up the verse/chorus melodies, recorded some lyrics and sent it back to him. From there, he came up with overall structure, the bass line, the bridge and the transition into the huge 3rd chorus and outro that you hear in the finished version. From there we got together in our home-gym/studio and layered more guitars, drums, synths, etc until we were at a good middle ground.

The second and third tracks — “Medicine” and “Something to Believe”, we started and finished together in the studio and they probably went through like 10+ versions of each before we settled on what you’re hearing today. I know we changed the bass synth tone on medicine a maddening amount of times ha ha.

Recording this EP was the first time that we had incorporated live drums and guitars into our electronic productions and it was SO much fun. We’re never not doing it again. Almost every synth tone on Axis of Love was built on an analog synth, mostly from the JX3-P, the Juno-60, The Prophet 08 or Alex’s custom Eurorack modular synth. We barely used soft synths which is a first. We also recorded a lot of the drum and vocal samples that you hear on the EP, just making snaps and clicks and weird noises into microphones for hours on end. It taught us a hell of a lot about how we want to go about recording in the future.

Rose Quartz’s Axis of Love is available now via Bandcamp, read the whole feature here.

Anais Aida

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NYC based artist Anais Aida has been recording with Alejandro “Arca” Ghersi and Erin Rioux heard on her first single “Love Can Burn”, and the follow up, “True (Fire In My Bones)”, and now debuts the winter time piano inflected single, “Recover”, to help melt the January ice, and layers of snow. Taken off her Out In The Waves EP, Anais’s Toulouse by Senegal by Ireland by LA by New York sense of stylistic fashion brings a kind of moody, melodic pop that strikes with the same intensity and poignancy no matter where in the world it is heard. Check out our interview session:

“Recover” is such a bare, beautiful, and evocative track… tell us about the recovery roads that contributed to this beautiful piano note and sparse beat laden song.

Thank you! The time during which I made the EP was quite a dark time. Often on the brink of depression, imbued with fear, and on the verge of losing a person that I was musically in love with, I was struggling a lot with self worth, specifically in relation to my musical identity. “Recover” helped me unravel the knots which had me tied and paralyzed, it helped me believe in myself again, and to let go of the past. Writing this song has been incredibly therapeutic for me, its introspective nature reflects upon those tendencies we have to hold on to the things, whether it be habits, beliefs, or people that are so detrimental to our well being. In this song I sought out freedom, from myself and my shadows.

Before you became an NYC popstar you already had a vast experience of being brought up from Toulouse, France, to Ireland, Senegal, and so forth. For you, how did these international heritages and experiences inform your own voice as an artist?

Definitely an open-mindedness, traveling so much really gives a unique perception on the world and on human nature. I’ve always been an observer, and that translates in my art. I tend to write from a very introspective and curious place, wanting to understand more about mankind. I also think the worldliness comes out in melodic writing, since many of my influences aren’t solely rooted in American soul/rnb music. I think these differences will become more apparent as I grow as a person and an artist. I’m still crafting my sound, which is audible in the EP; where each song sounds different from the others.

Very excited and interested in your forthcoming Out In The Waves EP. Tell us about what the songwriting, and recording sessions were like for you.

Making this EP was an interesting process. I didn’t necessarily see it come together until I wrote the last song “Out In The Waves”. We spent a few months with each song, they were written and then produced. I prefer to write songs this way as opposed to writing to a pre-made production which somewhat limits where I may want to take the song. I learned a lot about myself during the recording process of the EP; about my perfectionist tendencies which countless times delayed the completion of the project as I would often re-record a song numerous times just to go back to one of the first performances. I’ve learned that it’s important to stay true to your vision, to trust yourself, and to see things through. So essentially, I’ve developed a better work ethic and I believe my next project will be completed at a faster pace.

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Outside of the new forthcoming EP, what else are you working on?

A few covers, acoustic versions of the EP tracks, hopefully a music video, my live show and just becoming a lot more proficient and disciplined at my art.

Any other awesome artists/producers you are currently collaborating with or planning to collaborate with?

I plan to work with Tolu Adeyemo whom I’m a huge fan of, my beloved songwriting partner Luigie Nunez, I’m also looking for producers to collaborate with, really interested in working with Felix Joseph and Royce Wood Jr.

Is there also an Anais Aida full-length album in the works?

Yes, definitely. I have been writing for it since the EP’s been done, but as of now I can’t say if there will be another EP preceding it.

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2015 hopes, dreams, and plans that you care to share?

Since this is my first project released into the universe, my biggest dream is to get a beautiful response from the world. I truly hope this project will help take my music to the next level, I would like to have more opportunities for growth and exposure, to meet the right collaborators with whom I can create my first full length project, traveling a lot, having more financial freedom so that I may be an artist full time, and becoming a better student of life.

Also any tips on how to make the best of this cold 2015 winter season?

I spent the entire fall season creating a master plan designed solely to escape the winter in NY but while conversing with one of my friends he made a good point that winter is the perfect time to hibernate and become a master at something! So I’ve given up my scheming and decided to spend my winter becoming even more of an introvert; staying warm at home reading, studying, singing, and developing my skills. And drinking a whole lot of hot chocolate!

Anais Aida’s Out In The Waves EP is available now, read the whole feature here.

Barbarian

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Barbarian is back. That skronky, scrappy, gritty, grunge-y group with big time aspirations has finally done it, and made their big pop opus, Nightblooms. We have kept up with the band over the years, chronicling Andrew Mills and company’s releases from Chromatose, Daze of Youth, City of Women, and now welcome the forthcoming album, Night Blooms, available now Barbarian’s own label, Creature Beach Records. We also had the opportunity and pleasure to catch up with our old friend Andrew, immediately after “Last Call Withdrawal”.

Following the adventures that have spanned across the past year’s Barbarian releases from Chromatose, Daze of Youth and City of Women—Night Blooms feels like a whole new band almost, with sound that is even crisper than before….what was it about the departure from previous sounds to create the big polished ambitions of Night Blooms?

I’ve always had a ‘big sound’ ambition but never really had the means/funding. We also had the convenience of time on our hand, the album was actually recorded over a year ago at Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree. It was mixed about 6 months later which gave us time to work with an awesome mixer, Ben Moore (Pinback, Hot Snakes) And then Gavin Lurssen mastered a couple months after that.

How has everything been in the Barbarian camp since we last reconvened around the release of City of Women in the late summer of 2013?

The last two years have been an emotional roller coaster, more like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. We parted ways with our label Manimal Vinyl and our management, which were both completely amicable. We did a U.S. tour with Bat For Lashes on their tour with Depeche Mode and then supported Arctic Monkeys in San Diego. Name drop son!

How do you think the group has grown since that time?

We have a new bassist and drummer and we sound better and tighter than we’ve ever sounded. Lucked out finding two amazing musicians to fill some big shoes. Jon Greene our current bassist has recorded everything we’ve done, he’s an amazing engineer and has worked with Dum Dum Girls, Crocodiles, The Soft Pack, etc. Great having him on board.

Barbarian has always experimented with the balance of heavy undercurrents, and a dreamy type of levity…how did you go about achieving that particular balance of heavy weighted sentiments, sounds, and the more ethereal pop techniques that abound in songs like “Brainbows” and throughout Night Blooms?

I think my songwriting has matured and scope has broadened. I still love reverb and wall of sound so that hasn’t changed, it’s just expanded.

The VHS psychic romanticism on “Pheremoans” operates too on a real big, four quarter dance motion. How did these dancier developments come about in the repertoire of the Barbarian sound?

I love David Bowie, Roxy Music, Talking Heads, Pulp, and stuff like that so I didn’t feel afraid to throw in those dance-y elements; and it felt very natural. Everyone likes shaking their asses, and if someone tells you they don’t like saxophone they’re probably lying.

What was the recording process of Night Blooms like for you, and how do you feel it was different than previously?

Right before we did that U.S. tour last year, we put down a deposit for the recording studio and were set to stay in Joshua Tree a week after we got back. Our drummer that time didn’t feel comfortable and I feel wasn’t totally into the project so he bailed us right before we left. We were scared shitless but our keyboardist can also play a bit of drums and he really made it happen. We didn’t let the departure of our drummer get us down and we had an amazing adventure.

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Describe for us the updates in composition and recording methods.

A lot of tequila, beer, BBQ and desert vibes haha We rented a house down the street from the studio and pretty much recorded from abut 10am-midnight everyday, or whenever Dave Catching would kick us out cause he needed some sleep. He is a bad ass sweet dude. We were basically working with my home demos and hoping for the best. Pretty much three of us played on the album and Jon engineered. Someone would be in the live room, someone would be learning a part or making a better one in the living room and someone would be cooking or making Squirtles (our concoction of Squirt and Tequila).

Tell us too about the Creature Beach Records imprint.

After we left Manimal, we decided to self-release so Creature Beach is our own Barbarian imprint. We will be doing super limited hand cut vinyl, CDs, cassettes tapes with local label Grizzly Records and digital through Bandcamp. It’s been very empowering.

Give us the state of the indie San Diego unions.

There’s some amazing bands and camaraderie in San Diego right now. I think we definitely party harder than any other music scene, that’s for sure. Well maybe not Norweigan Black Metal or New Orleans Sludge.

Best new obscure San Diego groups you have discovered lately that you want to tell the whole world about?

Some of my favorite bands are Mrs. Magician, Buddy Banter, Idyll Wild and Mystery Cave. Plenty of variety going on.

Parting words about the nighttime worlds and night vibes of Night Blooms?

I think the album is great off the bat, I am a bit biased haha but it is also a grower album. I think 7-10 times listen through and you’ll get hooked by the ambience, cinema scope and digging into the lyrics.

Barbarian’s new album, Night Blooms is available now via Bandcamp and Creature Beach Records, read the whole feature here.

Zoë Kiefl

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Meet Montréal, Québec by NYC’s rising international star, Zoë Kiefl who follows up 2013’s Good Faith album with the forthcoming album Young Mom, available now from We Were Never Being Boring. Zoë joins us in the following interview:

Tell us about making the video with Francisco Martins Fontes, and choreographing dance moves with Nicole Della Costa.

We shot the video in New York City, where I met Nicole Lopez through mutual friends. Francisco Martins Fontes created beautiful lighting and set up the shot. I brought a music playlist of surf rock, dancehall and 60s soul music and we did some freestyle dancing on the spot. I would follow Nicole’s moves, she would follow mine. Nicole is Brazilian so she’s got nice sexy moves. With little to no editing, the fluidity of the dance moves fit really nicely over the track. The song is about heartache and losing strength but my spin on it is just dance it off and be fabulous.

How did you go about covering and updating the Dionne Warwick classic into an electro, haunting track?

“Walk on By” by Dionne Warwick is a classic that I grew up listening to and the honesty and simplicity of the lyrics stuck to me. It’s one of those songs that for many years, has kept getting stuck in my head. In Slick Rick’s “Mona Lisa”, he briefly samples the melody and sings a verse of it, so that also reinforced my love for the track cause Slick Rick is real cool.
Tell us about other recordings and releases in the works.

My rendition of the track is more melancholic. I think Dionne’s voice is strong and poised whereas mine is more exasperated and desperate. I wanted the track to be danceable despite its sadness so I went for an Italo-Disco vibe. My boyfriend made a good comparison of my cover to the Ciccone Youth cover of Madonna’s “Into the Groove”. I think both covers are taking a polished off original and making it more crude.
The latest from Montréal, Québec?

My album Young Mom is being released on January 27! I named it after I found a really great photo of my mom in 1986, standing up against a wall, next to a framed baby picture. It was like foreshadowing because she was only 15 then and got pregnant only two years later. The album is a compilation of tracks that I completed while staying in New York these past months. My inspiration drew from cinematography and film scores, dance music, nostalgia and psychedelia. Other than that, I’ve been recording my new band Dizzyride and that will debut soon.
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It seems like Montréal is always the epicenter of indie pop cultural creativity, how do you find the scenes inform your own senses of aesthetics and styles?

As for Montréal, Québec, where I am from, I miss it dearly and will be returning soon!
There are great things happening there musically. From The Marlees, Baked Goods, Gashrat, Dream Boy, She-Devils to Jef Barbara… Every night a show to go see for about 5$ and a really great supportive energy for all arts in general. I played my first shows in after hour venues which are always opening up, closing and moving around. Seeing as the cost of living is so fair in Montréal, I think people have more time and energy to go out often, stay late and fully enjoy themselves. Having had the opportunity to see so many bands at different levels of expertise play live and hang out with musicians has certainly inspired me to do my thing as well. The music scene there is very eclectic and every sound is appreciated as long as the performers are not total assholes.
Zoë Kiefl’s album, Young Mom is available now from We Were Never Being Boring, read the whole feature here.

Dark Colour

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Cincinnati’s dark prince of electronic adventurism Dark Colour returns with world premiere of the mind and step illuminating single single, “In My Mind”. The latest listen since the release of the album, Prisoner finds frontman Randall Rigdon expanding his vocal, keys and production operations to include guitarist Coleman Williams, bassist Sean Kelley, and drummer Joesph Sparough to create greater, and more elaborate additions to Rigdon’s original vision and early initial audio blueprints. Randall joins us again for another interview round:

Since we last spoke, what’s been shaking about the Cincinnati scenes?

I think actually Dark Colour was still a solo project when we last spoke and we hadn’t even played out yet. Now Dark Colour is a full band with me, Sean, Joseph and Coleman and we’re about to play our city’s end of the year awards on Sunday. Its amazing to give back and put on a big show for the city that’s pushed us so much forward this past year. The other night actually I saw a brass funk show and then walked over to a electropunk DJ show, while my bandmates saw dance rock friends Fluffer up in Northside. I think Cincinnati has a really evolved art scene going right now, it’s really embracing the full spectrum.

You have been making music with former members of The Pomegranates, how did this collaborative partnership come about?

I actually met Jacob Merrit from The Pomegranates after we opened for Bad Veins earlier in the year. He came up to me after the show and told me he really connected with what he saw. We started discussing music and our personal philosophies and instantly became good friends. Jacob’s been an amazing support ever since, hooking us up with many opportunities and shows and giving us lots of insight along the way. In a lot ways he’s been our mentor, going into Sabbath Recording and doing these new songs with him and Isaac Karns was as natural as could be. We found a lot of common ground and really understood and got to know each other in ways we didn’t before. It really couldn’t have gone any smoother.

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Describe the making of the super sleek “In My Mind”, and how the mental vision translated to audio for you.

It was pretty impulsive — I wrote the whole thing in one sitting. I had a lot of things on my mind at that time, and sort of just spontaneously cooked up the keys and the beat and then poured my soul into it. Honestly the vocal track is pretty impromptu, I did several takes of improv and now its just cut down to its catchiest layers. I think because of its enormous amount of space we were all just able to really feel it out and let each of our contributions flow right into their needed places. It really was one of the smoothest songs in terms of writing, recording, and performing and I think that’s really reflected in the feel of the song.

The other track “Animal” has a real energy all of its own… What sorts of animal instincts and the like inspired this one?

I think it stems from the overarching narrative of transformation that we aim to tell with Dark Colour. From Prisoner we now have Animal. While last release Prisoner was about rejecting social constructs (the games) to achieve a natural state of being, Animal is about the deconstruction that comes from being within this natural state. In exploration of this realm we may find ourselves feeling as though we’re simply animals entirely removed of socialization, which I think is a space we all tend to land on at some point. We really wanted to embrace that stage of the transformative process and its universality by writing music with a raw, animalistic energy. “Animal” was really the first song we aspired for with that message in mind and it was weird how intuitively the song captured an animal spirit leading us to appropriately name it as so.

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How do you feel your own work has grown since the making of Prisoner?

Playing live regularly and composing for a recent video game project has really influenced me a lot in terms of my writing and production. I was thinking the other day that a good artist finds their sound and then finds ways to constantly subvert and challenge it while retaining a familiarity. I really think Prisoner and playing it live established what the Dark Colour sound should be and now its all about finding ways of exploring that sound in exciting and unexpected ways. The next work will have continue to have our sound but with many surprises, perhaps in part from what I’ve learned writing for video games and in having to react on the fly when performing onstage, in addition to the new minds contributing together as a band.

You’re always listening to some rad new upstarts, what sorts of indie Ohio and elsewhere artists do you think deserve more attention?

I’ve been doing work for a local band called Multimagic, we’re going to do shows with them in the next months, maybe even do a mini-tour. They do really catchy stuff. I’m also fan of their guitarist’s band Young Colt, who we’ve also done a few shows with. I mentioned Fluffer before, they’re our good friends. The Saudades are our enormously talented friends too, I’m surprised by their shows — in part because they’re so different every time. We also played with this guy Classy Mongrel a few months back down in western Kentucky — was surprised by his unique sound, highly recommend him.

Listen to more from Dark Colour via Bandcamp, read the whole feature here.

Negative Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cotillon

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Cotillon, aka Jordan Corso photographed by Vivian Fu.

Cotillon, the nom de plume for Jordan Corso’s labor of love, released his Chet “JR” White produced self-titled debut album for Burger Records this year; an artist who fashions his art (and Facebook) with images and aesthetics of the nouvelle vague mixes the retro/Euro movie model with a California sound narrative about a life lived in, and fashioned by pictures. Cotillon’s Jordan Corso joins in the following interview to provide some making of the album anecdotes, and more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cotillon self-titled album is available now from Burger Records, read the full feature here.

Bohkeh

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Meet LA’s Bohkeh, the operative handle of artist Rj Lim mixes water elements with sample and drum works while experimenting with electronic artifices, known for his Soundcloud posted remixes of folks like Giraffage and ILOVEMAKONNEN, and more; his work leans towards pausing the the unstoppable momentum of a track’s percussion, bit rate, and nearly everything else that goes into pudding of the production. We discussed matters further in our following interview.

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

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

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

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

How has being in LA impacted your creative sensibilities?

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

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

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

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

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

What’s next for Bohkeh?

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

Bohkeh creative, personal, musical, mission statement?

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

Bohkeh’s debut EP will be available February 27. Listen to more via Soundcloud, and read the full feature here.

Yumi Zouma

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Word is out that Yumi Zouma’s EP II 10″ is available now from Cascine, sharing with us an exclusive interview you won’t read anywhere else.

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

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

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

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

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

Lots of surprises
Gothenburg was a dream boat
Tomorrow is here

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

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

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

Patience is the key
Bangs is very talented
We are excited

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

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

Yumi Zouma’s EP II is available now from from Cascine, read the full feature here.

To You Mom:

To You Mom's Luca Lorenzi & Massimiano Santoni. (press photo courtesy of the artists)

Italian duo To You Mom: began when Luca Lorenzi and Massimiano Santoni met at the International Conference on Cartography and GIS Mapping in Italy, and then after a realized connection the two found a synergy in sound. The principle sound of TYM is centered around Santoni’s percussion and production, met with Lorenzi’s natural and untouched vocal delivery. Their album We Are Lion follows up the I Am Ian EP (based on a fictitious space man named Ian Coleman), where Luca and Massimiano hone in their synergistic syntheses that translates musically like a trove of sincere letters written to family, friends, lovers, and beloved acquaintances. To You Mom:’s Lorenzi and Santoni joined us in the following in-depth and candid roundtable interview about their album, We Are Lions, and more.

Take us back to the chance meeting between the two of you that began at Italy’s International Conference on Cartography and GIS Mapping, to creating the I Am Ian EP about a fictitious astronaut named Ian Coleman, and how his project became a bigger phenomenon for you two.

Luca: In 2010, things were not going well with my previous band so I decided to stop playing music. At the time, I had never really considered how much music filled up my life and my soul. I was feeling very empty so I decided I had to find some new interests or inspirations to keep my creative balance. A few months later, I was reading a national newspaper in Italy and I saw a big article about the Conference on Cartography and GIS Mapping, and I thought “why not? this could be cool”. So, two weeks later I went to Milan to enjoy this meeting but – it will sound odd – in a moment I realized that I was a fish out of water. The topics covered were much too technical and complicated for my artistic desires. To be honest, I’m much more interested in the artistic side of cartography, rather than the technical aspects. Anyway, my decision to attend the conference was not all wasted because it led to the birth of To You Mom: …while wandering around the area near my hotel looking for a bar, I met Massimiliano when I asked him for directions. We did not know each other at the time, but we quickly got talking and discovered our love of music production. So if had I not gone to Milan, I would never have had the chance to meet him. It all started that day with a long exchange of ideas. I think it was fate.

What attracted you both to titling your duo To You Mom:, somewhat of a ‘this is for your mom’ maternal dedication? It is very warm, and evocative of cherished feelings and the like.

Luca: you can consider two different ways to interpret the name: the first one, more personal and intimate, is exactly like it is: a “thank you mom, you gave me life so now I want to dedicate this opera to you, because you made it possible”. But the principal idea is that ideally all that comes after the colon (in the name) is what we create, and ‘Mom’ represents Mother Nature. So, in this perspective, all that we create together becomes our thanksgiving to Universe. It’s our way to give back the energies that Universe constantly gives us.

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So give us how you began outlining, and writing song compositions and ambient, ghost like orchestrations for the upcoming We Are Lions album for Ghost Records?

Max: For “We Are Lions”, when we started writing the songs there were no plans about the style, the kind of sounds or anything. It just happened. We had some similar past experiences and the same ideas about what we wanted to express through the music, but nothing very specific.. We started working on a song after another, sending the files via mail and comparing notes. It was surprising how our separate vocals and music matches those ideas we had in our heads. We spent a lot of time working on arrangements, sounds, or little details, but the majority of the songs just came together for us like alchemy.

How do the two of you synthesize your talents and process together?

Max: Usually we start with a vague idea, which can be a beat, a riff or a simple sound. From there, we work like painters, layering colours one after another. At some point, the alchemy happens and we suddenly have a piece of music with a structure and a bigger idea behind it. This alchemy can be best defined as the sum of both our energies: one oriented to a melodic attitude, the other to a more experimental one. These two impulses act freely and complete themselves in a surprising ways.

As we debut “On a Friday”, what is it about a certain (or any given) Friday that lead to the origins of this spirit lifting song?

Luca: Friday is a magic day to me, it always comes with a pleasant, peaceful feeling. It always represents the day people start anticipating their free time (the possibility of being themselves and cultivating their passions). So I just think Friday is the right day to get that good feelings you need to remember your dreams are something you absolutely cannot put aside. This song wants to inspire people into remembering the importance of our dreams and desires. I think we should constantly fight to be coherent. And I just wanted to suggest the best day to start this process!

That latest on the Italian indie scenes lately? Seems like there is always something percolating via the Bad Panda Records and We Were Never Being Boring collective.

Max: it’s always difficult to properly locate a “scene” and understand what’s happening around it but we can say that what this scene is producing it’s really cool. M+A, Populous and our soul brothers Casa del Mirto are just few examples of a music approach which went beyond of some paradigm of a classic idea of “Italian indie scene”. It’s nice to see so many projects comparing themselves with such a vast horizon.

Future ghost trails to expect from To You Mom:?

Max: the album will be out on March 2015. In these days we are making the video for the second single (out on February). But in the meantime we are also working on a live set and on some new remixes and songs. We can’t stop writing and experimenting. To You Mom: is a project which has a lot of things to say and, clearly, we hope to find many people interested on listening to what we have to say.

To You Mom:’s album We Are Lions is available now from Ghost Records.
Read the whole feature here.

Lowland Hum

Wading in the water with Lowland Hum's Daniel Levi & Lauren Plank Goans, photographed by Griffin Hart Davis.

Wading in the water with Lowland Hum’s Daniel Levi & Lauren Plank Goans, photographed by Griffin Hart Davis.

Greensboro, North Carolina’s Lowland Hum’s Chaucerian ballads and odes continue to expand in their sonic form like a knight’s tale brought to twentieth century soaked visuals while a sustained folk hymn plays upon the heartstrings in unexpected ways. We recently had the pleasure to talk with both Daniel and Lauren from Lowland Hum.

Lauren: When we decided that each of the three songs on our EP, Four Sisters, would be accompanied by a video, I began looking into public domain video archives on the internet. One of my favorite archives is Prelinger Archives, based out of San Francisco. It contains a wealth of stunning home movies that I could watch for hours and am always trying to weave into as many projects as possible. I came across some footage of Katherine Stinson, one of the world’s first women in aviation who broke the speed record from San Diego to San Francisco in 1917. I was drawn to the imagery and began to explore flight, ascent and descent as visual themes for the video due to their dreamy, slow movement and how that might pair with the song Four Sisters: Part Three.

Tell us about what the composition process was like for you all in the making of the song cycle of the Four Sisters EP.

Daniel: The songs that compile Four Sisters happened over about four months on and in between tours. The first song was written after hearing four short stories/vignettes that seemed to have the common thread of the power of the spoken word. Each of the four stories drew attention to the interesting effects of speaking about personal failure audibly. Starting at that point, we began to think about the unique and often beautiful relationship between sisters, especially sisters who are connected by open and honest communication with one another. From there the concept grew into an EP featuring four imaginary sisters and their stories and the way their stories inform one another. Composition happened in large part in the studio and, on this project more than any other before, the collaboration was more fluid and complete. Lauren’s vocal ability and melodic sense influenced much more than her own vocal melody on this recording. Additionally, I think the exploration of new types of melodies was enhanced by our collaborations with Edd Kerr. Using reversed piano and something we call ‘frankendrums,’ Edd and I would create textures unlike any on Native Air, and singing over these textures pulled very different things out of us vocally.

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How was Four Sisters a shift for you both since the making and release of Native Air?

Daniel: Writing the songs for Four Sisters was very different than previous processes because it happened in between and during tours. For example, we started “Four Sisters: Part Three” at our home in NC, but then finished it at a friend’s apartment in DC on a night off. Additionally, we approached the Four Sisters recording sessions with clear and specific vision for each song, but once we started laying down the parts, the songs changed shape and sound almost immediately. Using another example from the third song from the EP, we had envisioned the tune having just guitar, two voices and light strings and by the time we finished recording, we ended up with cello, rhodes, drums and electric bass underneath our two voices. We ultimately removed the main guitar part that the melodies were written around. For our previous record, Native Air, we held the songs with open hands, but they didn’t shift so dramatically within the studio. I think the process of making the EP was so different because of all of the new experiences of performing in so many new places. In order to make sense of so much new input, change became necessary.

What else have you two have been working on?

Daniel: In addition to touring to support Four Sisters, over the past few months we finished writing, preparing, and recording our next full length album. We are incredibly excited about the new album and feel that Four Sisters opened us up to many new sonic possibilities that we can’t wait to share in 2015. Lauren is designing and laying out the album art for the new record, new lyric books and a new installation for the tour. The band is also in the midst of a kickstarter project to help with some expansions that will be a part of the album release tour. And, lastly, a project Daniel produced last year is being released this week (Nettles, Locust Avenue) and he is producing two more records (C.F. Watkins in February and Look Homeward in March), so he is in the middle of doing some preproduction work with those bands.

How do you describe how you both write and work out songs together?

Lauren: “So far the process has proven to be a mysterious one. We have found that it rarely happens in a predictable or routine way. Sometimes it starts with one of us coming to the other with lyrics in mind, or a guitar part or melody, and we work together to refine or redirect those lyrics or melodies. Other times we will start from scratch together, either deciding a topic that has recently intrigued one or both of us, or using a line that has come to either of us as a starting point. Sometimes Daniel will start writing something and before it becomes too cemented he will bring me into the process so that I can help shape it. I think our favorite accidental ‘method’, and the most mysterious one, occurs while rehearsing other songs that we have already written. Occasionally Daniel will play something on the guitar that he has never played before, and we will allow ourselves to go with it down a rabbit trail. He’ll start by tinkering with the chords and eventually, we take turns singing the first things that come to us. Sometimes a lyrical direction will present itself right away, and other times the lyrics will be nailed down over multiple writing sessions. It almost always feels though, like the song is already out there somewhere and that we are uncovering it together.”

2015 dreams, hopes, wishes, and wisdom?

“We hope that 2015 brings lots more new experiences in new places. We will be touring to support our new full length album with a backing band for the first time and we are excited to share our music in this new way. Additionally, on the heels of Four Sisters and a solid year and a half of constant touring, we felt uniquely prepared for our time in the studio and we are more excited about the new songs than any we have recorded to date. I wake up many mornings since we finished the project with the good kind of stomach ache. As for wisdom, a wise person once said, ‘where words are many, wisdom is lacking.’ I think I’ve shown where I fall on that spectrum.

Lowland Hum’s self-titled album is available now. Read the whole feature here.

So Many Wizards

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We have heard Nima and the Wizards bring the textures of dreams that have dominated the releases that mark their output via Jaxart, through Lolipop Records, and on their new 7″ split with Tennis System — Nima Kazerouni and crew return us to a larger extension of the sketches and sentiments expressed through the crytpic Crown Plaza releases (and non-releases). Nima’s solo output under that imprint depicted the interior, minimalist recording of claustrophobic feelings and progressions that mixed doubt, and introspection, and a very original kind of candid enthusiasm that is now brought to the maximalist mode and pep that So Many Wizards have established and continue expand upon.

We bring you our latest conversation with Nima himself:

You the ‘Wizards have been taking a much more succinct approach with the new single. What is the story behind the trading of the more dream driven for the economic and super energetic garage anthem of the new single?

Well sometimes you just gotta write a garage anthem to project the pain outward instead of inward. Came at really rough time for me. I felt betrayed and so pissed. I think it’s still dreamy considering the rage that I felt then. The first time we played that song live I almost went into this dark place of no return and came close to smashing my guitar into the ground. I think there’s a live recording of it somewhere…

Traversing the southwest territories and beyond, how do you describe the travels and revelations made in the recent months and years?

In the recent months I actually traded the gypsy life for a steady new residence in Echo Park (L.A). The community here is perpetually amazing and I’ve finally been able nurture and foster friendships near and dear to me. Everything is temporary however. I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

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Crown Plaza still remains one of the best kept open secrets of extreme importance; what else can we expect from your premiere solo venture of prominence?

Well shucks. Thanks for believing in it. I love Crown Plaza. I’m going to give you guys the most ‘premiere’ track and music video in the coming weeks that we just finished. We also recorded a Converse Rubber Tracks session that we’re in the process of finishing as well.

How do you feel your Crown Plaza recordings, demos and such have impacted the latest songs recording or written for/with the So Many Wizards team?

Hmm… So Many Wizards is honing in on something really special but all my projects impact and complement each other in different ways. It’s hard to pin down how really. I recently started yet another project called Nectarine with some girlfriends of mine and this also adds to the outlandish nonsensical web of my song writing and life as musician. Some people think I’m crazy for doing what I’m doing. I tell them well…Nima Kazerouni Goes Electric… coming soon.

What’s next for GNTLMN?

Immediately in the future is Noise Pop Fest February 28 at Brick and Mortar in San Francisco. A lot of other exciting happenings too. An imminent name change / A debut album drop this year. Going to hold off on mentioning who will possibly release it…shhh it’s a secret.

Read the full feature here.

Rachel Mason

Rachel Mason, photographed by Impose's own Owen Rogers.

Multimedia artist Rachel Mason of Little Band of Sailors and countless other creative/collaborative projects has completed the film-song, The Lives of Hamilton Fish, a performance piece shown in conjunction with the movie, based upon a coincidental discovery of the reported deaths of an elected politician and derelict murderer who share the same name inspired the tale of a newspaper editor, turned sleuth who explores the metaphysical connections between the two individuals while imagining the mentalities between the two disparate figures. We bring you our interview with Rachel Mason that describes a variety of the peculiarities that made up this project.

Tell us about the coincidence you discovered about the two lives of two men named Hamilton Fish that then set the stage for The Lives of Hamilton Fish, the opera, film, concert.

In 2006 I was a volunteer art teacher at Sing Sing prison when I accepted an invitation to be in an art exhibition at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, I decided to go to the local library to research some of those people executed in prison’s notorious electric chair. One particular prisoner, was a man named Hamilton Fish — better known for his pseudonym Albert Fish. I located a paper published on the date of his execution January 16 1936, the Evening Star of Peekskill and there was an announcement of his death in a column on the right side of the paper. While looking at the paper, I noticed another Hamilton Fish who apparently died just the day before and his article was on the left side. Could it really be that two men with the same name are pronounced dead on this one front page?

What first drew you to these stories, their similarities, their differences, and the weird coincidences?

Well, Hamilton “Albert” Fish was a fascinating and frightening character, who to date is one of the worst serial killers to have ever been documented. The fact that he was killer of children is what makes his crimes particularly brutal.

What is amazing however, is that the name Hamilton Fish in the part of New York where the I was researching is extremely well known for its political legacy. The name has been passed on for generations, to today, and the man who died a day before the killer was served 12 terms in the New York State Assembly and as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Theodore Roosevelt.

I feel like the story found me. I wasn’t expecting, or even wanting to be so excited by this coincidence, but one thing after another just kept drawing me back.

Tell us about the process of adapting this for a multimedia (multi-medium?) experience.

It started as a series of songs that I began writing without knowing what it would become. I eventually did a gallery exhibition at Marginal Utility in Philadelphia — a nonprofit gallery space who allowed me to do an experiment — and I was so excited by the show that it felt necessary to make it come to life outside of the gallery environment.

The first showing I did of it was in Hong Kong because it was accepted into the Pineapple Underground Film Festival. It was a revelation to me that this journey would start in Asia after being such a regional American story.

Tell us about the spiritual, supernatural, metaphysical, and surreal scene that comprises the pillar prayer and dance song and video, of “Angels, Don’t Tempt Him”.

This particular scene dramatizes Emily Mann trying to contact her husband, Hamilton Fish, by summoning angels. He is haunted by her sudden loss and has been thrown into a deep depression. She is trying to inspire him to not give up and to in fact locate a child that she herself has just encountered in the afterlife.

The metaphysical dimension of the story was inspired by Leonora Piper, an early psychic medium who was exhaustively studied by William James and his colleagues at the ASPR American Society for Psychical Research — an institution that still exists. When I learned that Emily Mann Fish, wife of Hamilton Fish II (the statesman) died tragically young, it seemed likely that had he wanted to pursue any contact with her, he might have actually consulted Leonora Piper.

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Why was this video omitted from the final film?

When I began performing the film as a live concert, the song didn’t work as well to sing along with, and I eventually came to realize it would work really well as its own music video and then I became excited about a different kind of existence for the whole project- where the film could be separated out — and the narrative fully fractured — I love the idea of someone finding this video completely out of context of the whole.

Further thoughts on parallel existences, parallel lives, and the fascination between these disparate and strange universes?

I truly believe that these kinds of stories remind us that our human existence is the product of cataclysmic cosmic events—and within all of us are particles of matter that have gone through supernovae.

Other creative projects you have in the works?

I have been thinking about supernovae and black holes because my next project is a new opera in which stars are personified at their moment of death and I mean stars in the cosmic sense.

I’m also planning a release of 12 albums and the covers are all being made by some of my favorite living artists. I’m super excited about both things!

The Lives of Hamilton Fish is available now via Bandcamp, read the full feature here.

Lenparrot

Introducing: Lenparrot, artwork via à deux doigts.

Lenparrot’s EP, Aquoibonism is available in April from Atelier Ciseaux; a French duo based out Nantes, sparse arrangements bring ghost-like waves of woe and lamentation the mourn the loss of eyes, and set a song of struggle against a back drop of murmuring electric percussion, and rumbling bass. The drama plays out like a European cautionary tale coupled by the bedroom IDM attitudes of self-sewn beats add to the intrigue and allure of Lenparrot. We got deeper behind the ideas, concepts, and cogs that that make up the project with our following featured interview with the artist:

Describe the story of eye loss and existential aches that make up the sparse, “Les Yeux en Cavale”.

Les Yeux en Cavale is inspired by a 1960 french movie directed by Georges Franju — Les Yeux sans Visage. It’s the movie that scared my grandfather the most when he was young — I guess that’s why I decided to start from the flashbacks I had of this film. How to deal with the fact that your eyes — and by extension your own vision — were coming up to life and then decide to run away from your face.

What is the story on the origins of Lenparrot?

Lenparrot is a reference to Baxter Dury’s first LP — Len Parrot’s Memorial Lift. It is one the albums that I love the most — the one that I listened on repeat (with Women’s Public Strain) when I composed the first Lenparrot songs. When I decided to start my own solo project alongside Rhum for Pauline and Pegase, it seemed obvious to pay tribute to this record.

Give us the latest on the scenes in Nantes. I always hear amazing things about the teroir out there.

It’s true ! Nantes is the homeland of a lot of fantastic bands, labels and collectives. It’s a true pleasure to belong to the FVTVR family (the label built by Minitel Rose members — Rhum for Pauline and Pegase headquarter). Each and every year brings a couple of new formations to discover. Recently, I met the guys from Bantam Lyons — this band is about to be the next big blast in town!

What was it like making the Aquoibonism EP?

When Rémi Laffitte (from Atelier Ciseaux) decided to release my first EP, I picked up five songs which — built together — could synthesize my universe the best. It’s like an an æsthetic manifesto — but fucked up. Not that I’m disappointed of my music, but it has no virtues to proclaim. This is why I called this record Aquoibonism: À quoi bon? means What’s the point? in french. Let’s try and we’ll see!

How do you two describe your own songwriting process?

It always deals with pieces: words, sounds, images. It can be a memory – it was with Les Yeux en Cavale and the reminiscence of this old movie. At the end, it sometimes has nothing to do with the starting point. The only rule is to respect the initial feeling.

Post-release plans for Lenparrot?

To tour everywhere! I have been contacted by several booking agents. I try to be patient, to take my time. But at the same time, I’m overexcited by what is happening to me those days ! I’m extremely pleased to be part of the Atelier Ciseaux label. I hope to release a second EP with them if they are up to. Again: let’s try and we’ll see!

The Aquoibonism EP is available now from Atelier Ciseaux. Read the whole feature here.

Yonatan Gat

Yonatan Gat, photographed by Adam PW Smith Photography.

Laying down the opening track from side-b of Director (available March 3 from Joyful Noise); Yonatan Gat (of Tel Aviv’s notorious/legendary/controversial/creative Monotonix) lent the vertical compass trip of “North To South”. Finding a prog-jam sort of form with Gat’s chord collage guitars, Gal Lazer’s steadfast and solid backbeat, and Sergio Saygeg’s basslines and vocals chase the cascade of licks and riffs that are born of improvised sessions that seek to find new expressive forms, and searching for a taste of that mythic (and nutritous) “sorghum syrup”. Being nearly five years since Yonatan and I kicked it tent style backstage at Treasure Island Music Fest, we were reunited across long distance cables in our following interview after the jump.
Describe the synergy that you and the trio posses to make the kind of improvisational guitar textures that are sewn throughout “Goldrush” and the Director album.

Our show is based on improvisation. We write music as we play, but we also improvise on themes and ideas we previously worked on, that’s why we call it improvisation and not “jamming”. The idea is that improvisation leads to a different kind of playing. Much more intuitive, honest, comes from the soul. When done right, it becomes the person that you are at the moment, no obstructions. We have some premeditated ideas, but once the song starts, literally anything can happen.

How do you all forge a creative bond together?

Improvisation has a lot to do with the relationship between the players, so most our conversations are about how we handle each other’s ideas and new things we’d like to attempt. It’s very abstract, and we try to stay out of each other’s way musically so everyone gets the maximum amount of intuition and freedom. There is usually an idea that is leading the way – something we are trying to convey or achieve in our music. We try to do it together, so it requires a lot of talking, often about issues that are non-musical.

What was it like working with the awesome Chris Woodhouse, and how do you feel he affected the recordings?

Woodhouse is great. He works in a small studio called the Dock in Sacramento next to a banana ripening factory. It’s a bizarre scene, but he uses every nook and cranny of that space, shoving microphones in the stairway, keeping the close-mics isolated. He has a lot of tricks to get a sound that is compact and huge at the same time. We always loved his recording technique, and were happy to have him involved in our process by helping us choose takes, running around the room moving microphones during our improvisations, in editing, and in mixing using analog tape delay and spring reverbs on the guitar and drums in radical ways. He also played some beautiful slide guitar and organ on the song “Casino Café”.

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What is up with the rest of the Monotonix crew these days?

Ami and Haggai started families in the last few years. I think they enjoy spending time at home with their kids. Ami has a new project called Ha Partizanim, it’s Israeli folk songs with acoustic guitars and he burns stuff and makes a mess all over the place. Haggai is a session man on drums in Israel, where he’s considered one of the best. We all keep in touch all the time.

Will there ever be another Monotonix album on the horizon?

Ami and I went to Tim Green’s Louder Studios in Nevada City to work on a new record. It turned out instrumental, a bit krauty. But I’ve been so busy with this new project that I haven’t had much time to think about it. We’re also talking about releasing a photography book from our shows. It’s going to be really beautiful when it will be ready. So there are definitely some interesting stuff, but no intention of playing shows any time soon. Although the band was growing fast when we parted ways – we still feel we said what we had to say.

Director is available now from Joyful Noise. Read the whole feature here.

Yung Life

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Brothers Gabriel and Elliott White and friends are back with hot new Yung Life vibes to maximize the bliss of your week. The new single “Jungle” b/w “Brothers” bounces and swings from a forest of percussive frenzies, with the a-side busting the concrete jungle asphalt for a greater ground, with “Brothers” lifting a testament of fraternity skyward. “Jungle” prances with a menagerie of sound that chirps gallops from all directions from the mix, as “Brothers” presents what sounds like nu-dance experimental crazes poignant reflective thoughts that question the passage of youth and the questions of direction with the inquisitive quip of, “is this what I wanted to be, building something that’s not for me.” Elliott White shared some of the following exclusive thoughts on Yung Life’s recent new audio developments and more:

We took a direction with these recordings that was a little different than in the past. We recorded and produced everything ourselves at our parents house over the last couple of years rather than trying to make an album happen right away. I wrote the songs and had a rough idea for an album that would more complex than what we’ve already released. It went from the idea of something complicated like a concept album to simply just putting the songs together until it was finished enough for us to release it.

The sound and feels on this next release are just a collection of ideas over the past couple of years; I wrote the songs this time and everyone combined their ideas until each song reached a stopping point in the recording process. Basically, writing songs as-you-go type of method. The recordings are a little different than what we’re playing live as a band, which is cool because it makes the songs sound different live and it lets us to be creative with how we play them in a live set or something. We’re plan to release the album shortly, preceded by a couple singles and B sides in the coming week(s).

Read the whole feature here.

Snuff Redux

Introducing Seattle's Snuff Redux.

Blaring from the garages, and makeshift DIY venues of Seattle, we just got hipped to Snuff Redux, and their passion fueled fury that is littered across their Toy Kingdom EP. The cobwebs and rafters are brought down with “Crust”, with “E-Drone” sending a roaming spirit from within the multi-propellor machine, as “Disintegrate the Days” unleashes what is pure candy, lending the herky-jerky gentle jive of, “Tell Me Twice”, storming emotions and fist pumping convictions on, “Classic”, leaving you with the desperado drifting shambles-shaker, “Cowboy”. During the week’s press storm, we were able to get a hold of frontman Skyler Ford for a unique look at this Seattle group.

How did Snuff Redux come to be?

Snuff started out of a stagnation in mind and sound in October of 2013. Daniel and I had lived together with some friends and had a great house where there was tons of music and fresh creation, but we eventually got booted by our tyrannic neighbor/landlord. After the boot, I moved to Bellingham for about a month, but with no job market in the college town, I moved back with my dad. Daniel and I started jamming in his basement, and eventually we got this itch, this itch to put our feet in something wet and new that we hadn’t touched. We needed a drummer, so we hit up this guy Adam who I’ve known for awhile. He and I jammed two years prior, so, the dude with the drumset is the drummer. We went right to it after that, seriously the day after we said we were going to start a band and “practiced” every morning (9 AM-2 PM) every weekday. We had a strict diet of coffee, spliffs, Fireball and microwavable taquitos. Everything moved fast.

What is the current indie climate in Seattle, and how do you feel it has impacted SR?

As a 22 year old who has been a part of the DIY scene for the past six or seven years, I have seen a lot of change in the music community. For all of the movers and changers in this city, and there are too many great people to list (but they know who they are), there have been setbacks. Crucial DIY places have been sucked dry by steady gentrification, the rent is rising and I think that has hurt things. No doubt people have been inspiring and inspired, but the balance between people running house shows/art spaces and the opportunity to share art with friends and new faces has been a little splintered as of late. There are still a few great houses and many, many musical forces that continue to make waves in this city, and we appreciate all of their individual impacts because it keeps us inspired to make stuff too.

With these redevelopments and splintering of the DIY communities, what has been both the challenge and struggle of keeping these indie communities thriving beyond the dedicated clandestine, designated houses, spaces, etc?

Even though the past few years have seen change, the overall mindset with keeping our culture thriving is that there isn’t a struggle as much as some bubbling desire to keep things alive and well, which I think has never died down since I’ve been going to shows. You get back what you put in, so playing shows when and wherever we can is the drive. And in one year I think we have accomplished a lot, playing some of the bigger clubs and stuff recently, it’s stuff I dreamed about and now it’s happening for us. Everyone is moving at a comfortable pace.

Give us the nitty-gritty on how Toy Kingdom came into being.

Toy Kingdom is essentially the first batch of songs we made, give or take a few songs. They were made in those early morning sessions, where we came together and bashed stuff together. The recording of it took a really long time, but it was worth it. We wanted to make songs that were straightforward but with something fresh to bring to the big table.

Give us a taste of what else you guys got in store for us.

We plan to record the next batch in the next couple of weeks, we are working with some cool dudes who are putting a studio together. The intention for this next release is to work a little faster but stay thorough and clean, even when it’s dirty sounding. We want to introduce some new textures and dive into production in a different way, but I think we have sat on these and played them enough that we can blast them out and have it be something cool. It will work as a vague b-side to Toy Kingdom, but also with new sounds and textures maybe a small glimpse into what is even further down the road for us.

Thoughts and conceptual design works you can share about what might result from some of these new recordings?

So I guess with this next release, we would like to show the other hemisphere of the Snuff brain. We are always talking about what’s next, but we haven’t had enough time to be in the present really since Alex our new drummer has been with us. This next release, which is called, Besides You? will be the scraps of a demolished Toy Kingdom, all of the pieces scattered and ready to be picked up again.

The part about us thinking ahead is where the real answer is…and that we are in the first stages of the full length. It’s called Denim American and is a loose concept album about the struggles of youth and people in this city, struggles of paying rent and fearing getting pushed out of your own environment. People talk about something called ‘the Seattle chill,’ and I think what we want to do is fight against it. Everyone is cut throat about making it in this town but they forget they need their friends, their brothers and sisters, and the people they don’t even see to get to where they want to go. We want to take everyone with us, even if we don’t know where we are going.

Other Seattle artists that are off the radar but everyone needs to be listening to right now.

I dont know what the radar looks like, but if I was to say whose music I enjoyed recently, I would say:

So Pitted; The future of Seattle guitar rock. Mostly enough said. They are the loudest and best people ever.

youryoungbody; cold and brooding dance music, like Kate Bush plus Ghosts and Duran duran.

Great Spiders; sick melodic Americana vibes with beer swilling shred, always fun times

Lakefight; manic carnival emo scream goodness.

Whitney Ballen; a most original voice who can make a man cry with her words. Believe it.

Sitting around and about with Seattle's Snuff Redux; photographed by Efraín Mojica.

Earlier this year we introduced to Seattle fourpiece Snuff Redux with their Toy Kingdom EP and today we present the world premiere listen to their just released EP Besides You. Catching up with the Northwest team of Alex, Daniel, Dylan, and Skyler we get a unique look at Seattle DIY scenes and the struggles faced by independent communities in the face of changing climates, cold disconnections, and the pursuit for warmth, and real genuine connections in the face of all adversity. Snuff Redux eschew the pretensions, forego the fakeness, the feigned boredom, and the stigmas that keep would-be inclusive gatherings and groups apart by making music for dives, living rooms, basements, makeshift spaces, what dwindling all ages spaces still exist in Seattle, and all around energetic array of audio to be enjoyed anywhere at the loudest available volumes.

Besides You begins with “Stop The Judge”, a ballad that brings emotive and affectionate chords that dwells on the matters of discernment and reckoning that exists beyond the blindness of judgements. The balances and tipped scales of quantified cast weights and measures are set aside as Snuff Redux relishes and pushes for an embrace of the qualitative as they plead their cases in accordance to a catchy collection of chords. Discontent of surroundings, the bummer of being let down by others, and other irking matters play out on the acerbic shout and shred scuzz-o-rama of “Anyway” that sharpens barbs against the detached and disaffected folks. Following it up with refrains of “I believe in you” and daydreams dalliances; “How Could It Be” provides an ode to the dear folks that make a difference and a lasting impression for the better in the lives of the band. The closing cut “I’m Losing” finds Snuff Redux flying their underachiever (and proud of it) banner high with power chord christened ballad of “feeling alright”. The memorable moment that stay with you after the song’s three minute duration is the chorus chant of “I’m running on caffeine, nicotine, tell me where you wanna be…” that signals signs of sounds to keep you excited about Seattle’s lesser sung heroes and to tide you over until Snuff Redux release their debut full-length. Join us now for a candid conversation with the band’s own Alex, Daniel, Dylan, and Skyler.

What’s new in the world of Snuff Redux?

Not that much has changed in Snuff world. Still frying amps and losing cords every time we turn around. But we have been drinking our Gatorade, cooling off, getting heated, dreaming and forgetting, suppose it’s all that ever happens. We are halfway done writing a full length that we hope to record and release sometime in the new year. We are slow moving creatures, its true, but we are making time to getting work done every time we link up.

How is all in the Seattle scenes? Favorite things happening right now?

Skyler: The Seattle scene, to be completely real, is fickle for me, because I, as well as many other artists in the city, have seen varying incarnations of an ideal scene that is fully embraced, where the air around you tastes better because you are engulfed by a like-mindedness that makes the walls sweat, when you go to a show you know you can’t forget. Sometimes, though, I don’t feel that magic. I don’t know if its just me, but the climate has changed. I believe that it always should change, but more often than not, an artists success, say locally, can be situated where people know who they know and they hold them up like Simba, whether or not they’re the Lion King or Queen. Many of us outside the pack know this. Maybe they know that, maybe they don’t. There are many young cubs growing in this city and they all deserve shine, but I think within bands around here, there is a purposeful but unintentional way of not acknowledging each other as respectful, respected musicians. It’s frustrating to not communicate appreciation.

Dylan: I tend to focus on the bands that we regularly interact with. The scene is massive and there are so many circles within it. If we were to talk about the sheer number of scenes and players in each it’s easy to get lost. But our own Seattle scene has shown us great support. Tons of great Seattle bands all practice in the same spots and end up sipping tall boys and chatting together frequently. There are friends, fans, and other bands we can count on to be at every show and throw their bodies around recklessly. And it ends up that a lot of these bands, like us, have been around for a relatively short time, so we have a great crew of people that share this experience of crafting our own scene and incorporating ourselves into the old ones as well. youryoungbody, Versing, Great Grandpa, to name a few, are our homies both to chill with and share the stage. So while these scenes might be at odds with one another at one time or another we still individually make places for ourselves.

Kicking it with the Snuff Redux quartet; photographed by Efraín Mojica.

Tell us about what the making of Besides You was like, and what sorts impassioned sentiments and events informed this EP.

Skyler: We knocked the four songs out in a short amount of time in June. Only four or five sessions. Killian Brom of youryoungbody recorded us again. He grew as an engineer, and we grew as well, so the process was sweet and simple. As far as sentiments go, this collection of songs was essentially the back half of our first thought (Toy Kingdom EP), but refined. Room for growth in our sloth rock heads, coming to terms with mistakes made…knowing a little bit more but understanding things a little bit less, its all that ever happens.

Daniel: It would be a bit of a misnomer, though, to call it a true b-sides album, regardless of the title. The songs are of a different flavor than our first cuts. Whereas Toy Kingdom was a right-out-of-the-gates deal, Besides You had a whole tour’s worth of time to mature before we went in to record it. Many of the riffs were written in the same sort of manic first rush, but the details were hashed out methodically. It was particularly interesting having our two new members help write while simultaneously learning our old material. Instead of having ‘indoctrinated’ them, just having them follow our lead, I feel like it gave Dylan and Alex a lot of room to influence our direction.

cover by Alex Paulino.

Skyler: After Adam Way of Way and Co. left the band I revisited this riff that he and I made together way back in the day. Things were sorta scrambled at that time in our lives so maybe I finished it as a sad nod, but a good one. He is killing it with what he’s doing and we are all really proud of him. Daniel wrote “I’m Losing” and I’m sure he would tell you that he most likely wrote it on a couch.

Daniel: I actually wrote it in bed. Seems to be my jam.

What is the story of the inception of “Stop the Judge”?

Skyler: “Stop The Judge” might just be a metaphor for the scene in a way…I guess I can’t remember what my mindset was overall, but I knew i was questioning the possible existence of the Seattle chill—that buzz worthy idea…but maybe that’s me just getting older. I feel like I remember a time when bands were really there for each other, whether in booking and people putting together versatile shows with a consistent-ish support group…I guess I miss Healthy Times Fun Club. If Healthy Times Fun Club were here maybe I would feel better. Now there are close to no all-ages spaces. And while everyone wants to play at all ages places, the all ages mindset is gone. It seems that now with one glance from person to person, it could be said that people make their mind up without hearing or knowing who someone is or what they talk about. They might not care and that’s fine, but its a weird thing when you put yourself out there, you see them doing the same, but you might not even wave to them from across the street even though you’ve seen them play five times. It’s something I’m trying to work on, and hopefully change in some way down the line.

photographed by Efraín Mojica.

What are you all listening to on repeat right now?

Skyler: Taylor Swift, new Kurt Vile and Pavement.

Daniel: Connan Mockasin, Viet Cong, Speedy Ortiz.

Dylan: St. Vincent’s self-titled album, Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,
and the demo version of “Hey” by Pixies (seriously check that shit out).

Alex: Abe Vigoda, Animal Collective, Capn Jazz.

Snuff Redux’s new EP Besides You is available now via Bandcamp. Read the full feature here.

Summer Cannibals

Summer Cannibals are back, photographed by J. Quigley.

We were taken by Portland’s Jessica Boudreaux and her band Summer Cannibals at the first bite with their album No Makeup, and with Show Us Your Mind from New Moss Records. 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.”

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.

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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.

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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 is available now from New Moss Records. Read the full feature here.

Yonas Michael

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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. We had the chance to catch up with Yonas for an exclusive interview:

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.

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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 is available now. Read the full feature here.

Lesionread

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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.

Read the full feature here.

Fielded

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We reported about Fielded’s Lindsay Powell beginning a crowdfunding campaign for her Universally Handsome music/clothing label, and we bring you 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, and describes her Boy Angel EP further:

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.

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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.

Read the full feature here.

True Lust

True Lust's Dillon Morton. (press photo courtesy of the artist)

Denver’s True Lust (formerly Lust), fronted by Dillon Morton, closed out 2014 with the synth based atmospheres of late evening car rides on, “Vices“, following up our debut of “Silk & Lace”, and more engages 2015 by further developing his electronic angled aesthetics. Premiering his remix of Jonas Reindhardt’s “Elimination Street”, the impossible metropolises of leisure and pleasure are given the True Lust ‘cinema for the senses’ treatment. The artist who calls Chill Mega Chill, AMDISCS, and more home builds upon a blueprint that transforms every captured sound into a section of an 80s movie soundtrack on a naturally inclined whim.

Jonas Reinhardt’s original version of “Elimination Street” from the Not Not Fun release, Mask Of The Maker was caught from the progressive techno cloth that followers of Giorgio Moroder adhere to with a religious like fervor. The indie disco tempo and arrangement from Reinhardt — aka Brooklyn’s Jesse Reiner — is slowed down on the True Lust remix to a new set pace where all keys involved have both time and room to breathe. The new spaces Dillon allows for the synths to dwell in allows for a different take, where Jesse’s progressions are re-produced through a type of underscoring method accustomed to the most clever of musical auteurs. The stems and individual items return to the audio frame in a cerebral, pensive form that recalls late night mysteries and decisive moments in the plot of an imaginary movie instigated by Reiner, and elaborated on by Morton. Whereas “Elimination Street” was initially built like a rhythm driven autobahn; the True Lust remix experience further explores the songs high art aspirations of expressing wants and needs through even more evocative and immediate avenues. Dillon Morton presents the debut of the True Lust remix of “Elimination Street” with the following introduction:

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Last year, I reached out to Jesse about “Elimination Street” since I couldn’t stop listening to Jonas Reinhardt’s Mask of the Maker. The seductive nature of the relentless drums alongside the swelling of suspenseful synth layers immediately caught my attention. Even though this remix is just now seeing the light of day, I’m glad to finally share the sultry edit with hopes of raising the hair on the back of your neck.

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Having ended 2014 with the release of “Vices” in addition to revamping our live set for the opportunity to support College in Denver on his most recent tour, I can’t wait to finally release more singles leading up to the full-length album.

Read the full feature here.

Care

Introducing; Care, the project of Grand Rapids' own Justin Majetich, photographed by Chris Cox.

Meet Justin Majetich, the artist behind, CARE, dropped the tape, UNENJOY on Newer Style Records earlier this year. Based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan; UNENJOY was recorded at Sabbath Recording in Cincinnati, and mastered in Chicago by Peter Andreadis at All City Mastering to create an intimate cycle of songs that are all titled with the first names of inspirations informed by acquaintances, friends, family, lovers, and everyone else in between. In the world of CARE, heart is at the core of everything, where creativity and humanity are inextricable and everything is unexpected, unpredictable, and ever-changing. UNENJOY offers vignettes of joy and disjointed realities that gives the listeners something new apart from the predictable, procedural constructs that pop music often take an auto-pilot comfort in. We had the opportunity to discuss the art of CARE with Justin Majetich in the following featured conversation:

Describe the current indie scene landscape in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Everything oscillates every six months or so. Right now, things feel up. The scene is pretty house-centric, which makes for a good time but, by nature, risks greater exclusivity. Our #1, Austin Kane, is a brilliant and generous sound engineer, and largely because of him, this city has the best ‘underground’ sound I’ve ever heard. Sets in his basement sound legitimately better than they do at a couple of the 300+ venues in town. On a less positive note, Grand Rapids is deeply rooted in conservatism, and in my opinion, the artistic community has suffered for it. While there are certainly outliers, the tolerance for experimentation and transgression is subpar, and furthermore, the scene is dominantly patriarchal, heteronormative, WASP-y, etc. It’s a real problem that needs constant acknowledgement if it’s ever going to change. All that being said, I think we’re seeing the paradigm slowly begin to shift, and there are a lot of really talented, brave people — artists and otherwise — that I’m proud to exist with.

“Subjugating the beloved in a series of verses and choruses, the artist silences this individual and proceeds to mythologize, substituting the echoes of their own desire for the the voice of the beloved.”

What prompted the beginning of your project of love, CARE?

We all find our own ways of confronting the void.

Tell us about the real life “Pamela” that may or may not have inspired this song.

The real Pamela exists, if at all, in the first phrase of the song — everything beyond that is a sequence of projections, spiraling further and further from the true Pamela. And that’s actually a core concept of this track: the frequently oppressive nature of the love song. Subjugating the beloved in a series of verses and choruses, the artist silences this individual and proceeds to mythologize, substituting the echoes of their own desire for the the voice of the beloved. So yea, the real life Pamela was just someone who crashed at my house on tour. We shared maybe three sentences with one another, and the next morning, I found myself writing this song. I was disturbed by the whole ordeal — the impersonality, the exploitation, and the intrusion of it all. We cannot divorce creativity from humanity. So, anyway, I just teased the invasive tone of the speaker for the rest of the song and then, in the final moments, left them cradling their inexplicably severed penis.

Care, photographed by Derek Smith.

What was the process like writing and recording, UNENJOY, and how much or how little enjoyment went into the making?

The four tracks on UNENJOY were written at different times and are pretty aesthetically diverse. The unifying feature is their personal emphasis; each song is titled with a first name: “Pamela”, “Michael”, “Bilal”, “Casey”. The latter three, in particular, carry a lot of emotional weight for me and weren’t necessarily enjoyable to write. ‘Fulfilling’ would be a more appropriate word. The title of UNENJOY is pulled from the third track, which explores the creative urge as an urge toward the grave, so that about encapsulates the spirit of the writing process. As for recording, we recorded with some of friends in Cincinnati. They played in the band Pomegranates/Healing Power for years but recently disbanded and built up a studio under the moniker, Sabbath Recording. They are exceptional people and took a lot of care to make sure our experience with them was just as emotionally gratifying as it was technically.

How do you go about writing and recording songs for CARE?

Painstakingly. At this point, the creative process is propelled by deconstructive energy (thus, we’ve self-identified as ‘deconstructive pop’). The momentum in our songs is generated as each part moves forward in an attempt to subvert or complicate the last. This occurs more in some songs than others. In “Pamela,” this gesture is more present in the text, but you’ll note, musically, there is very little unvaried repetition. Currently, I’m recording a full-length in my live-in ‘studio.’ I’ve been working on these songs for a couple of years, and both the writing and recording processes are very detail-oriented. The songs on this LP are of significantly greater scale and nuance than the material on UNENJOY. Some of them are really like five or six songs patched together. There’s just a lot going on. It’s also the most conceptually and aesthetically cohesive project I’ve worked on. Honestly, it’s been a pretty overwhelming process for me, and I’m ecstatic to release it, in every sense of the word.

Care, photographed by James Li.

Care, photographed by James Li.

Artists local or not local that you feel everyone should be listening to, but aren’t right now?

Some of my favorites in Grand Rapids right now are Darkly and Jade TV. Otherwise, Detroit’s Jamaican Queens certainly deserve everyone’s attention. They’ve got a new record coming out in the next month or so that’s gonna change lives. I’ve, also, recently had the pleasure of befriending a few of The Epoch collective kids. All of their work is a very important counterpoint to a dominant portion of current music trends, and I believe we’re all the better for their obstinate disregard. Also, Couples Counseling — Virginia is a brilliant songwriter/composer — one of the best on the east coast, in my opinion. Oh! and — my god — that new Krill album!

What are you looking forward to on your upcoming tour and post release fans after UNENJOY drops on Newer Style Records?

Well, we get to play with a plethora of artists whose work I both enjoy and highly respect: Eskimeaux, Bellows, Adult Mom, Small Wonder, Sharpless, Crying, Jawbreaker Reunion…to name a few. So neat! Otherwise, it’s always great to make new friends and snuggle up with their pets after the show.

Read the full feature here.

Happy Lives

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Giving our week an attitude adjustment and overall lift of spirits — Happy Lives’ Julian Beel and Mike Lande dabble in the art of distorting those familiar dance floor tropes for an experience that exists outside the four-quarter beat obsessed EDM avenues for an echelon that is designed for all audio palettes and music minds to congregate to and partake in the dance together. “Wanna Go Dance” finds Julian and Mike burying the persistent beat and mood sensing keyboards beneath an order of blessed distortion that blends beauty with the surface crackle of intended static. Like the blue flames springing forth from the single cover artwork, Happy Lives spread the joy of dance-based therapy with top shelf footwork inspiring audio creations to ignite dance floors, kitchen floors, living room floors, bedroom floors, sidewalks, and streets alike. We had a chance to catch up with Happy Lives in the following interview.

How did Happy Lives first originate?

Hard to say. Realizing this isn’t a ‘band’ band took time. Laptop was the start. Couldn’t stretch the same with the 8-track. Back then it was called Condom Pocket. Now we don’t think in band terms. Happy Lives is when that flipped.

Story behind the name, and the Happy Lives secret to living happy lives and the pursuit of happiness?

The name comes straight out of Happiness. The movie. Fell in love with the trappings. And the green landscapes. And the secret to happiness is variety. I like that question.

Tell us about the making of the electro kinesis of the dance floor rager, “Wanna Go Dance?”

Had been wanting to write a Gaga song for a while. Failed a bunch. ‘Wanna Go Dance,’ after an early demo, couldn’t get out of my head but the recording was garbage. So I threw a mind melt distortion on the lot. Lyrics get tough to chat on. Was in love but the end loomed and I didn’t want to admit it. “Wanna Go Dance” knew before I did.

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Thoughts on dance floor etiquette and the best way to keep all involved happy?

Depends on the show. Hardcore? Dumb question. Fugazi? Get ready to get yelled at. But that’s not so much dance floor. Like da club? Are folks committing faux-pie? Like fingerbanging? You gotta know how to read signals and not get angry if you gotta reset. It’s a dance floor you’re lucky.

The latest from the NYC scenes? Obscure NYC artists that everyone needs to be listening to?

First to my mind is Haybaby. I drummed for them for the better part of the year until they had the good sense to kick me out. They’re about to release a new record with Tiny Engines. 1.21 Gigawatts is a homie. Creates a good scene. Danny’s a fella that can bump a cassette as hard as an Ariana Grande. Hard to find that. He works with Dances a lot, think y’all at Impose know them. Got us to DJ the last two nights of their month at Pianos. Good vibes. A lot of familiar friendly faces and Dances has a strong familiar sound.

What other recordings and collaborations do two have in store for the world?

“Bababa” is next single. Wrapping it up now. Strong dub / tense r & b mood. Starting to collaborate with females. I like to go at it alone but female vocals are unique. It’s a complicated process and you never know. Gotta develop flavor or throw it out.

Next big moves from Happy Lives that we should be aware of?

Video for “Wanna Go Dance”. Dancing and tights. Spending my days in front of a green screen watching Michael Jackson’s Vision. Beware the dancing man, ha ha.
Read the full feature here.

Seatraffic

Seatraffic's Mark Zannad & Brandon Harrison, with photographs by Madison Kotack.

Seatraffic’s Mark Zannad & Brandon Harrison, with photographs by Madison Kotack.

We last caught up with San Francisco duo Seatraffic’s Mark Zannad and Brandon Harrison during the making of their album, Beauty in the Night, soaking in the Pacific moon gazing single “Man On the Coast”, and dwelling in the song’s supernatural, dark beach solitude. Playing San Francisco’s Noise Pop at Brick & Mortar with Human Touch (formerly known as GNTLMN), and Sales tomorrow, February 28; we bring you one of the first listens to their new single, “Spoken Reprise”.

Here Seatraffic’s synthesizers make their way across Bay channels; Mark makes his lyrical claim in time to Brandon’s live percussion that cuts through the delusions and illusions for a representative chance. The chorus of “Spoken Reprise” spells it all out with all cards placed firmly on the deck as Mark sings, “how can you run when you cannot abide, when they talk about me it makes me want to hide, trying to see past the fiction and lies, first time I saw you was not a surprise…” Recorded at the legendary Different Fur Studios with producer Nic Pope for a Converse’s Rubbertracks session, Seatraffic sails their vessel of wayward ocean bound dreams that escape the described frustrations, addressing life’s events and inevitable changes that occur while steering, and navigating through the plotted courses of the Bay. But now it is our pleasure to bring you our latest conversation with Seatraffic’s Mark Zannad.

First off, how was the process of writing and recording your forthcoming album, Beauty in the Night?

Writing and releasing an album took a lot more out of me than I thought it would. Both as far as energy and stress, as well as financially. Making Beauty in the night was an extremely rewarding experience, I subleased my room here in SF and went to live on the coast of Oregon to flesh out the demos. Once I returned it took us almost a whole year to get it properly recorded and get the funds to press it on vinyl. By the time we got the pressings and released the first song, seeing the finished product was almost surreal.

Tell us about the recording process for this awesome loosie, “Spoken Reprise”.

We signed up for the Converse’s Rubbertracks SF sessions on a whim. When we were notified we got a day of studio time for free we actually had no new material, as we had just finished recording Beauty in the Night. Brandon and I went into our practice space and essentially did not come out until we had a solid demo. We also had to get it recorded in one day, which ended up being a fun challenge for our producer, Nic Pope and us. Every part that you hear in the song was recorded live that day in the studio, no midi programming, no producer witchcraft.

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I always imagine Seatraffic songs as these ballads sung by mariners or fishermen from the future. What sorts of events inspired “Spoken Reprise”?

I’m always excited to hear about the imagery our songs put in people’s heads! In general our songs are always based around feelings that people on many different levels can relate to; growing old, feeling remorse, missing loved ones, etc. Spoken Reprise is the first in a set of new songs that are much more about personal events. Ultimately this song is about the different stages of our lives, 2014 was a big year for me, I graduated college and entered the workforce, definitely a defining moment that I had a lot of feelings about.

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Thoughts on the state of the Bay Area’s indie scenes?

So many people have already said so much about this topic! I have only lived in Bay Area for 6 years, but I have seen it change quite a bit. I’ll try to keep this positive and just say, there are still many many great bands in SF and the Bay Area, this year’s Noise Pop line up is evident of that. What is important is that we look out for each other and the venues that book our small shows. How? Keep going to shows, go to shows early and support the local acts. Have a room in your apt? Rent it to a friend for a decent price rather than making a profit off it from a rich techie.

Seatraffic’s spring and summer plans?

There is a lot of uncertainty right now. I am writing a lot of new songs these days, some of them garbage, and some I get really excited about it. This year will be a defining moment for the band no doubt, I’d like to see us undergo some kind of rebirth, as the songs I’m writing are much different. Additionally, I’ve been working on a lot of solo material, and I’d like to spend sometime fleshing out that project.

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Excited for your Noise Pop show with Sales and GNTLMN. What other artists do you feel the world needs to be listening to right now?

We are also very excited for tomorrow’s show! We have been fans of Sales for a long time! My friend Vince recently turned me on to a guy named Palmbomen, that nobody seems to know about. He’s got some of the warmest synth textures I have ever heard. As far as local bands, the Belinda Butchers have been in the SF scene for a long time and they are starting to get a lot of coverage that is long overdue.

Read the full feature here.

Jay Som

Meet Jay Som, aka Melina Duterte, of Summer Peaks, photographed by Austin Cook.

Meet Jay Som, aka Melina Duterte, of Summer Peaks, photographed by Austin Cook.

California along with its further Pacific northwest siblings of Oregon and Washington have long been harboring some of the greatest, and obscure sounds and scenes from a diverse and disparate array of communities. Heralding from the sleepy Contra Costa County based town of Brentwood in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay rises the solo project known as — Jay Som — taking everything you know and love about rich, neo-romantic pop and changing it forever. Featured as the lead-in opener to the chic London imprint Beech Coma‘s Vol. 3 compilation available March 9 — we give you some of the most DIY ultra pop you may have heard all year. The brainchild of Melina Duterte, the Bay Area’s inspired dream weapon machines of mass musical distraction are at work as the listeners are called to open their eyes to a tricky, and careful arrangement that sounds like one of the greatest long lost beloved, and treasured songs you will swear you have known forever — but are in reality just hearing it for the first time.

Some folks might already know Melina Duterte’s work from the Brentwood band, Summer Peaks, who released Saturday back in March of 2014, a group that consists of Melina and her high school buddies, Daniel Mandrychenko and Zachary Elsasser. And like the prevalent influences carried over from secondary school, Duterte’s solo moniker Jay Som (inspired by a baby name generator site search we are told in our following interview), remains to be her principle solo handle of abstractions that appropriately rhymes somewhat with the word awesome. An artist that also entertains and experiments in creating instrumentals alongside creating pure indie pop song diamonds; Duterte’s musical vision expands into an a variety of divergent directions. Join us for our discussion with Melina Duterte to learn all about her Jay Som project, Summer Peaks, Brentwood, and more.

What first introduced you to the world of music and performance?

I was surrounded by music at a young age. My dad used to be a DJ so he was always spinning his old funk/r&b tapes and records; my mom just loves singing (mostly karaoke). They were always supportive with my endeavors even when I sounded terrible on the cheap instruments I had, especially when I played “Smoke on the Water” for weeks on the guitar. Playing trumpet in band was a big part of my life because I had great teachers who helped shape my musical abilities. I started off listening to pop punk and whatever was on the radio at the time until I saw a Natalie Portman interview for Garden State where she mentioned The Shins, and that somehow lead me to a new world of music. My inspiration also came from the strong influence of female fronted artists like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Donnas, Beyonce etc.

How did Summer Peaks all come together?

I met Daniel and Zach in high school through band and mutual friends — they’re talented dudes. We were in a jazz combo called Cool Beans, and we would always jam and show each other music after school. We officially formed in 2012 after I graduated high school and I remember spending like two months of the summer practicing for one show that we played for 20 minutes… But we’ve definitely grown and I’m excited for our live shows and musical projects coming up.

Brentwood's Summer Peaks, featuring Daniel Mandrychenko, Zachary Elsasser, & Melina Duterte, photographed by Maxine Garcia.

Brentwood’s Summer Peaks, featuring Daniel Mandrychenko, Zachary Elsasser, & Melina Duterte, photographed by Maxine Garcia.

Tell us about your solo work, under the moniker Jay Som, and what inspired that particular name?

Jay Som is a moniker I came up with in high school. I went on a baby name generator site because I was reading about artists that used generators when they were out of ideas and I was curious. I chose a random language and it came out as Jai Sohm or something which translated to ‘Victory Moon.’ I doubt that’s the actual translation but I changed the spelling and I like the way it sounds. Also, there are a few people out there named Jay Som — so sorry to all the Jay’s out there!

Your instrumentals are awesome, and I can’t stop listening to “Forget About it Kid”. What sorts of events, chances, and dreams inspired this song?

The Cure and Madonna were on repeat when I wrote “Forget About It Kid”. I wanted it to have a dreamy atmosphere and emotionally driven instruments. The song is about a conversation I had with someone about unrequited love/crushes and how it can drive you crazy. It was written after I went on a mini tour of the Pacific Northwest with Summer Peaks. Daniel’s brother Nikita constantly did this bad 1940’s New York movie accent and his go to phrase, forget about it kid, turned into fahget abaht eet keed — now it seems appropriate as a title. “Forget About It Kid” will be on UK label Beech Coma‘s vol. 3 compilation with other amazing artists. It’s a growing label and I think that Harry (the founder) is doing an amazing job!

Tell us about other projects, songs, collaborations, etc you are working on.

I just finished a five song EP that was recorded in my bedroom and it will be released sometime soon. I try to write and record every week for good practice because I know I’m a different musician than I was six months ago. There were about 10 songs that didn’t make it into the EP but I will probably save them for later…I already have ideas for songs I want to do for a future release but I need to be patient because I tend to get an itch to do something new. I’ve also been really interested in instrumental work and one of my dreams is to make a song for a commercial (inspirational car commercial probably).

Give us the full Brentwood report. We’re very interested on what the scenes are like out there, and in the surrounding areas.

Brentwood is a nice, small city full of corn and old people. A lot of people hate living here because it’s pretty quiet and there isn’t much to do. I personally like it because there’s time to focus on music, and the weather is great (sometimes). The only downside is that there isn’t a huge music scene, venues, and people you can connect with on a professional level, but it’s a good place to commute from. The Bay Area is always churning out new talent, from experimental to beat music.

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Describe how Brentwood has inspired or informed your sound, and a perhaps tell us a bit about your own creative composition and recording processes. You have quite a dynamic sound.

Living here has inspired me to work on being a tighter musician. There’s no competition with other musicians, so I’d say it’s a supportive but small community. When I started recording I used this awful webcam mic and a free program called Audacity — I still have old cover recordings of The Shin’s “New Slang” and Outkast’s “Ms Jackson”. Unfortunately I was 13 so of course they don’t sound that great. Now my composition process is still basic, I’ll come up with a riff or melody, record it on a tape recorder or my phone, then I build around it. I’d love to be in a real studio but I do prefer bedroom recording with my laptop because there is something raw and frustrating about it.

Other artists and bands that the world needs to listen to, but isn’t?

1. Bobey from SF — he’s the coolest dude and he makes the best math-loop music.

2. Joel Jerome from LA — I saw him as an opener a few months ago and he stole the show.

3. Lazy Day from London — She makes me swoon with her genuinely crafted tunes, I also wish I was in a band with her…

4. People Person Collective – Tight collective where all the songs on the albums are each member’s response to a set of rules and artwork.

Best year ever—Jay Som, Melina Duterte of Summer Peaks wildly ambitious solo offshoot.

Over the course of this recent Thanksgiving weekend, Melina Duterte released her first big solo full-length under the Jay Som moniker with the awe-inspiring and already much lauded Untitled. The Brentwood by Bay Area artist made a name for herself outside of her band Summer Peaks caused headline level commotion with debut single “forget about it kid”, featured on London DIY tastemakers Beech Coma’s Compilation 3 as the opening launch song, receiving continued praise in the UK markets creating what Gold Flake Paint‘s Tom Johnson aptly phrased in response to Untitled—”A snapshot of what’s been and a perfect foreword to what might and certainly should come next.”

And this is no hyperbole of the majesty and might that Melina has created with Untitled. The sporadic release to a home spun audience network of fans spread through word of mouth endorsements and enthusiastic recommendations (described in the Bay Bridged’s review) with resounding chatter, responses of expressive adjectives, and flowery poetics that are continuing to gain further attention from the international music & arts communities, collectives, & so on.

Untitled offers immediate gratification that does not require one to be familiar with Melina’s work with Summer Peaks, nor previous single releases. Even those familiar with a handful of masters that were being traded amongst artists and labels for the past year will discover them and more in a crafty album order that keeps the DIY thrills in a constant state of beguiling wonder. Melina’s collection of “finished & unfinished songs” that were created during the span from March 2014 to October 2015 proves to be one of the year’s most masterful and ambitious releases where the one woman army of Jay Som has the listener wondering “how in the world did she create that sound?” at every turn. Untitled leaves the kind of impression that can make a destitue artist give up, or inspire a struggling artist to produce every aspect of their work all on their very own time, tek, terms, rudimentary tools, and tones.

“Peach Boy” is the opener that you have waited ever since the Jay Som singles “forget about it kid” and “I Think You’re Alright” have entered your life. Untitled‘s nine song run is full of so many critical home recorded breakthroughs that “Peach Boy” almost goes under-appreciated as the effervescent and intimate opening ceremony song that is worthy of obsessive repeat listening as a single it own’s right. Melina busts out all the big home recording guns to create an invitation to a full experience of some tightly kept feelings turned into expressions organized in sections of musicl suites. “Ghost” fades into the picture with paranormal vapor traces of heart hemmed oragami paper folds registered through carefully arranged guitar executions where all sounds and feelings cross over into the alternate dimensions of existence. Delivering a multitude of moods through intricate mixes and remarkable economies of instrumentation and recording implementations; Melina errs on the many facets of the creative and playful sides where new cadences and controls of electric chord effects contribute to the pure rock and roll revelry heard on “Next To Me”.

And then right as Melina brings the energy of a Bay Area/ Brentwood house show, street slapping beats key in the ignition of the mega-dream crashing machine of “Drown”. Chords that flux in and out of tonal pitches of notes are complimented by Duterte’s hushed and moody breaths that relay late evening thoughts of a deeply felt state of solitude sung in between the chorus sound sections of coos and mixing where the entire production becomes as high as a skyscraper (or as deep as a bottomless abyss). The pensive and reflective continue their course as the sound shifts into the heroic on the cryptic “Our Red Door” where the Jay Som art of making the tightest sort of slacker sound around effortlessly rides into one section of pure hooks and the most stunning power chords that words fail to convey in full. There is also a motif of escapism that permeates the otherworldly aspects of the Jay Som universe, like on “Unlimited Touch” where Melina takes a proverbial step back from the conventions of reality for something of a mystical ethereal zone. Preferences pertaining to polite declines on “Why I Say No” finds Melina embracing an autonomy of the self with the slickest self composed, mixed, and made sounds imaginable. Maintaining consistent surprises and intrigues all over Untitled, “SLOW” is the infectious emerald that Melina springs on you eight songs in that presents an amazing array of addictive arrangements and a brilliant guitar-firework display that takes place alongside the closing refrain of “take it slow…” The ride ends with “Turn Into” (which many who were familiar with these previously unreleased songs assumed would be the start of the album) that presents a killer chord stew sewn together by Duterte’s dreamworld woven vocals that acts like a prelude to the next Jay Som adventure.

In our initial conversations with Melina over the unexpected release of Untitled, she shared the following prologue to the album:

This album was a spur of the moment decision after a few glasses of wine on a Saturday night. I had about twenty recorded songs I wrote from when I was 19 to now and had an itch to give listeners some sort of a release rather than the singles I would put out every few months. Each song is like a snapshot of my life after high school—mostly about dealing with the frustrations of growing up as a young adult and woman.

Behind the DIY scenes with Melina.

Behind the DIY scenes with Melina.

The recording process was my favorite part of the album. I would obsess and dissect the instrumentation, arrangement, and mixing to the point where I was washed in self doubt. In the end it helped me experiment different techniques with songwriting and producing.

Above all, I had a ton of fun with Untitled and I hope anyone who listens can find something they can connect to.

No sooner had we began planning our coverage of Untitled when we received the following release from the California based People Person Collective called People Person Covers People Person that opens with Jay Som covering Future Shapes’ “Feel” featuring Melina’s most electronically imbued sound yet, while Future Shapes’ covers her 2015 summer instant-classic “I Think You’re Alright”.

Following up our feature with Melina Duterte from last March, we had an opportunity this past week to discuss the making of Untitled and more.

Describe further your processes of obsessing, dissecting the instrumentation, arrangement, and mixing of your work. The results are remarkable.

When I write a song I usually take ideas from voice memos on my phone or my tape recorder. I’ll think about the instruments needed for the song, how I can manipulate them with various effects, and then I’ll practice the performance of the track. Most of the time I would rush the songwriting portion because I’d be too eager to record—I always have this feeling that the best ideas I develop in that moment could slip away at any second. It took me a long time to stray away from the idea that you have to stick to a strict form of writing to make any type of pop song.

Mixing is simultaneously frustrating and satisfying. You can spend hours hooked on one track and never be happy with the way it sounds, then out of nowhere you can have magical moments. I was taking a couple audio classes at the time learning the basics because I was only familiar with my DIY methods I built since I was 13. I start with a scratch guitar track and use it as my guide to record the drum set, bass, guitars, extra instruments, then vocals last. I would utilize my bedroom’s natural reverb while using close miking methods—4 or 6 mics on the drums, a mix of DI and 1 mic on amps, and blend with a room mic. I didn’t have enough mic stands at the time so I would duct tape random objects to keep the mics from falling. Pretty janky.

In the zone with Jay Som's Melina Duterte; photographed by Carly Elizabeth.

In the zone with Jay Som’s Melina Duterte; photographed by Carly Elizabeth.

How did bouts of self-doubt further fuel experimenting with recording techniques, songwriting styles and production?

Throughout the time I was working on the demos, a couple people told me that I needed to focus on certain genres—dream pop, shoegaze—to be taken seriously. I never want to be lumped into a category of music, but at the same time I don’t mind. I just believe that any musician or songwriter shouldn’t feel any pressure to experiment with something out of their comfort zone.

I’ve always been influenced by the production of Phil Elverum, The Walker Brother/Scott Walker, Tame Impala, and power pop bands from the 90’s/early 2000’s in terms of their sonic layering. I would get so caught up in trying to emulate my favorite records that I lost focus in the pleasure of creating. I realized that I shouldn’t over-analyze due to my lack of knowledge and accessible equipment. There are a load of things I would do differently in this album, but I’m trying to practice simplicity. Also—I’m still super self-conscious about my voice and the way I play drums.

Melina in blue; photographed by Veronica Brooke.

Melina in blue; photographed by Veronica Brooke.

If Untitled did have an alternate title, what would it be & why?

I guess I would have named it “Turn Into”. I was originally going to release an EP with “Peach Boy”, “Ghost”, “Turn Into”, “Drown”, and “Our Red Door”. “Turn Into” is about self-reflection and how awful it is to not feel like yourself—at the same time the pain is temporary and ultimately leaves room for growth. I don’t see Untitled as a finished body of work so I chose a lazy option.

You’ve mentioned that there are more Jay Som songs in the can. What should we be expecting & excited about on future releases?

There are songs being written! I’ve been keeping the tunes from Untitled in my pocket for a while so it’s strange to listen back at my work from before. My songwriting hasn’t changed a ton but I’ve definitely grown and I can’t wait for people to hear something I’m serious about.

Reflective moments with Melina photographed by Veronica Brooke.

Reflective moments with Melina photographed by Veronica Brooke.

Other things in the works from your other projects, Summer Peaks, etc?

We’re finishing up on our second album at Hyde Street Studios with Scott McDowell. He’s extremely talented and basically the fifth Summer Peaks member. In the meantime we’re setting up shows for the new year and planning a tour.

Jay Som battle plan for 2016?

Working on the live set!

Listen to more from Melina via Soundcloud.

“Forget About It Kid” is available from the London label Beech Coma‘s Vol. 3 compilation. Read the whole feature here, and here.

Spritzer

Introducing, Spritzer. The new project from Friend Roulette's Matthew Meade. (press photos courtesy of the artist)

Introducing, Spritzer. The new project from Friend Roulette’s Matthew Meade. (press photos courtesy of the artist)

Remaining to be an endearing (and enduring) force of nature, Friend Roulette might as well be their own indie musical institution at this point. Keeping up with frontman Matthew Meade, we recently discovered his new project, Spritzer, an effervescent vehicle for catchy riffs, melodies, smart arrangements (not unlike the audio de force of Friend Roulette, but different still), and Meade’s own eclectic, and idiosyncratic approach where anything and everything can happen, and all things are possible. To get deeper into the fizzy chemistry of his new project Spritzer, we caught up with Matthew Meade in what became a Taylor Swift themed interview.

From Friend Roulette, to Spritzer; how did this side project begin?

I write a lot of songs and Sometimes they’re not quite roulette friendly….also… I really wanted to cover shake it off by Taylor swift and knew Jules would never go for that. Covering that song is a really dumb idea but I’m going to perform it at rough trade in BK on Friday around 9:00pm … if anyone out there reading impose knows Taylor, please invite her! She seems like a very nice girl.

What led you to choose the name, Spritzer? Seltzer fanaticism? Wine spritzer connoisseurship?

Well, ya know how they say you should have a glass of water to every drink you have? The spritzer kills 2 birds with one stone — you get an equal amount of water to wine. I hope to enjoy one with Taylor Swift one day.

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Give us the recipe on how you make tracks like “Melt”.

I think i was hopelessly trying to write something in the Friend Roulette style, not succeeding and ended up doing the exact opposite… using three chords and simple melodies… also, I’ve been listening to a lot of Taylor Swift and The Toadies lately. That’s really all this is… a blend of Taylor Swift and the Toadies.

Like Friend Roulette, what brings you to orchestrate these really cool, and intriguing vast arrangements?

So… I cant take credit for that. My philosophy is that if you’re working with the people you trust, respect and chill with, then you should give as little direction as possible. I’m spoiled in a way because all the musicians I get to work with are fantastic. Ryan Weiner from the band Tiny Hazard is the one ripping all the guitar solos on this shit and I have to keep reiterating to him that I don’t give a fuck what he does as long as he does what he thinks is good. Also, Taylor Swift has been a huge influence.

Other Spritzer recordings, and releases in the works?

Yea totally! If people like this shit I’ll make more of it. I could get the LP together by summer if you’ll really want it. I really would like to collaborate with Taylor Swift on a few songs… I think we’re like minded composers.

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Other side projects in the making?

I was about to say, ‘hell no!’ Because between Friend Roulette and Spritzer, I’m a bit spent… But then I remembered last night I was at the bar with my great friend, Akiva Zamcheck, and we agreed to start a duo project. His old band, DTROTBOT, used to be my favorite. He’s brilliant. . . But really, i just want to do a song cycle collaboration with Taylor Swift. I think I have some melodies that would really be a great fit for her voice.

Also, what’s next for Friend Roulette?

New album in June — month long tour in April — and were half way done with yet another record of songs written by our friend, Matt Scheffer who by the way has a fantastic new band in Austin, Texas called Zettajoule — Friend Roulette will not be covering any Taylor Swift songs in the near future.

Listen to more from Spritzer via Soundcloud.

Read the whole feature here.

Pastel Ghost

The rise off Oakland's Pastel Ghost, aka Vivian Moon.

The rise of Oakland’s Pastel Ghost, aka Vivian Moon.

Arising from these post-industrial landscapes is the electro synth-pop goth-ish artist, Pastel Ghost, lorded by the Oakland artist, Vivian Moon. Establishing witch house sympathies through the electronic streaks of dark mascara on 2013’s Dark Beach EP; the title track, “Silhouette”, and “Slow Gaze” proved to be not only some of the best electronic indie pop audio arts in the Bay, but perhaps the entire west coast. Flash forward a few years into the future, where the track “Clouds” brought upward rising vapor spirits that told of the formidable recent movements over the past decade that brought a bedroom production aesthetic to some of the main fronts of new radio wave interests, informing all big name artists who worked with beat and rhythm centered music.

Turning up all the levels, heightening the stakes, revamping the definition, and firing up the incessant drive of turbine-like percussion engines — Vivian brings “Pulse” to full throttled life and pointed to a future point of no return. A melody of keyboards initiates the song before the unbeatable, and indestructible body music beats take over, as Moon’s vocals emerge here and there from synthesizer hooks that fire from the track’s nuclear reactor core. In a way, “Pulse” provides a nearly visual representation of the Pastel Ghost moniker in the way Vivian summons a blizzard of synth progressions that fire with the ferocity of a thousand feelings, while her vocals make reigning cameos that break between the overcast filter of eternal fog. We had an opportunity to cross over to new electronic realms in our interview with Vivian.

What’s the latest from the Oakland scenes as of late?

Rap, starving artists, underground parties in DIY spaces.

Walk us through the making of the Dark Beach EP that has then lead to your album Abyss for 80s Ladies Records.

“Dark Beach” formed the entire direction of PASTEL GHOST. Dreamy, dark, emotional dance music. That’s always been my intention and you can hear all of that in ABYSS.

What for you inspired these evocative audio essences that you have summoned forth from the void?

The color lilac, Love’s Easy Tears, Macross Plus, Robert Smith.

How do you approach this kind of haunted electronic, post-witch house or whatever you choose to call it collection of hyper-balladry, and ghost silk styles?

My approach is always different. It starts with an image, a melody, or a synth sound I want to construct a song around. Sometimes I want to write something hopeless or destructive.

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We have been vibing heavily to “Clouds” and the mind, body, and soul trance of “Pulse”. Tell us about how you blend everything from the ephemeral nature of things to the elements and aspects that comprise the human touch.

There’s a strange harmony there, this contrast between aggression/vulnerability. I don’t care about making music that isn’t emotional. If the melodies don’t force me to feel something or if the lyrics aren’t honest, the music is meaningless.

Other obscure Oakland artists we need to know about and listen to right now?

Metal Mother, Powwoww, Witowmaker.

What’s in the future for Pastel Ghost?

Shows, touring.

Pastel Ghost’s ABYSS is available now from 80s Ladies Records.

Read the whole feature here.

Buffalo Rodeo

Introducing Buffalo Rodeo, from Bowling Green, Kentucky. (press photo courtesy of the band)

Introducing Buffalo Rodeo, from Bowling Green, Kentucky. (press photo courtesy of the band)

Sneaking up on us this week, we must admit that Buffalo Rodeo’s new 123 Water EP sort of caught us by pleasant surprise, providing a little audio slice of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Seeing release today by the great minds and palates over at Jeffrey Drag Records; the sweet, southern psych styles that never get enough coverage or respect emerge from the lush, lesser known parts.

The world of 123 Water rises slowly like the morning sun, with the icon identity musing opener, “Lana Del Rey”, as “Butterfly Knife” gets the super-70s songwriter album-rock super-show started with arms extended to the sky. Raising the bar one more time, the rocket propelled “Blue Sky” takes you to the breaking point in the blue skies where you are sprung a few light years from home, before dropping you in the water-slide in slow motion ride of the super suave and smooth, “Always Want It Back”. But the trip keeps on, where “All Ears” finds the Buffalo Rodeo enjoying in rounds of duets, and a pretty sweet arrangement of super power chord coordination and sing a long inspiring reiterations of, “…my head, in my head, in my head…” As things gets real weird after the song softly melts into cosmic sludge, Buffalo Rodeo bids you adieu with “Love In A Garden”, that transforms ethereal earth music reminiscent from the UK’s trad rock scenes from the late 60s/early 70s with joyous family band style anthems, with unusual key shifts, and one of the greatest walls of pure sound that has to be heard to be believed. We talked with the band’s own Jordan Reynolds, in our following interview feature.

First up, how did you meet, and then realize that you were, Buffalo Rodeo?

Ryan, Nate, and Zach basically grew up together in Bowling Green. They attended the same high school in Bowling Green and started playing music together during that time. They tried the music band thing out for a little while, rotating friends in and out of open positions, and writing band names on our matching white converse until we came up with one that really flowed. They managed to win consecutive school talent show titles, then immediately knew because of their accolades that they had to start taking things a bit more serious, ha ha. A couple years of jamming in Nate’s mom’s attic went by, and in 2012 I came down from Michigan for a summer to fill in on keys and then never went back. Lastly but not least, our former bass player decided he wanted to go to college and not pursue the band thing, and we added Patrick on the bass. Once the five of us came together, the chemistry was perfect and it’s been the same Buffalo Rodeo ever since. Hopefully that never changes.

Describe for us your stomping grounds of Bowling Green, Kentucky. What’s it like out there? What are some of the local scenes like?

Bowling Green has a pretty tight knit music scene considering the lack of true ‘music venues.’ A lot of the music scene starts and develops from house shows. The house show scene here really thrives because of the lack of all ages venues. Since we started playing shows when we were all around 18 or 19, we weren’t allowed to play in the bars. Playing house shows is where we fell in love with playing music. People in BG really understand the lack of venues, and there’s a community of dedicated partiers [sic], music lovers and home owners that continually surrender their homes for house shows and let kids develop their sound in a really comfortable environment. We would often times throw huge house parties at our old band house, Casa de Buffalo, with upwards of 200 people just to play to our friends who couldn’t make it out to the bars.

Best places in Bowling Green to hang out, kick it, play live music, or otherwise?

As far as playing music, Bowling Green does have a couple of solid bar venues that always keep a crowd: Tidball’s and Rocky’s. There are some larger venues in Bowling Green for theatrical performances and things like that, but the bar scene, and house show scene is where the cool local music resides. It’s a college town, so there’s some cool places downtown to hang out. I’m a regular at Spencer’s Coffee, Nate and I work at the Mellow Mushroom when we’re not on tour, and if we’re not hanging out around there we’re normally at friends’ houses listening to records or something like that. Realistically, there’s not a whole lot going on in Bowling Green, so we just fill our time with music and friends.

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Describe for us what the jump was like between 2013’s Home Videos, to the ambitious, and ethereal, and mind expanding, 123 Water?

When we were sitting down to write for 123 Water, we knew we wanted to create something altogether different. We gained a lot of perspective from being on the road, listening to more bands, meeting people, and generally gaining more knowledge about music. We were listening to a lot of the classics: Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, etc. We knew that we wanted to focus more on the songs this time around. Home Videos, for us, was our first real effort at making a ‘legitimate’ album/EP. We wrote it when we were all 19-ish, Pat is a little older, he was around 23 at the time, so it’s not as mature of an effort as 123 Water. With Home Videos, we didn’t focus so much on the songwriting and rather what just made us dance and jump around and what made for fun live shows. We’d have huge outros or Ryan would just thrash on the drums and people would go nuts at house shows, but the songs weren’t really strong. With 123 Water, we focused more on what was actually being written and created and making it really interesting before it even got to the live show. We knew we were going for more of a psychedelic sound—but mostly we just wanted to focus on making really great, simply-structured songs that could be built from the ground up.

Give us some insights on how this multi-tiered EP was made.

When we finished Home Videos in April 2013 we toured on it for a little over a year, off and on. In May 2015, we decided to take a break from the extensive touring and really focus on writing for our next release — which we were hoping would be a full length. Around the same time, we kind of luckily had this writing space fall into our laps. Nate’s dad owns this empty warehouse in Horse Cave, KY, which is about an hour north of where we live, and we decided to turn it into our writing/rehearsing/creative space, and it ended up being the most influential component of the process of making 123 Water. We took a ton of rugs, couches, lamps, and all our gear, and we’d just ostracize ourselves for days at a time up there at the warehouse. We’d call them “Warehouse Sessions.” In that summer we probably demo-ed out 35 songs. We had intended on making a full-length record, but in the end we settled on making an EP instead. Originally we had wanted to record this EP at a studio in Nashville or Chicago, but when that didn’t work out, we decided to record it at the warehouse where we had written the EP. Our friend, Trey Rosenkampff, came up from Athens, GA to record the EP, and we spent a week in December recording. The warehouse had no heat, so we all got real cozy in a tiny space in the warehouse with about five space heaters, tons of blankets, and our love to keep us warm! From there, we finished the tracking and went down to Athens to mix at Trey’s mixing studio, “The Panther Den”. After alllllll of that, here we are. 123 Water. Named for the address of the warehouse where it was created.

What else are you all planning in the creative works, tours, recordings, etc?

For the next few months we’re going to be doing a lot of touring and traveling, which we are so excited about because it’s been a while since we’ve been on the road. After that, we’ll probably try to organize our thoughts on what will eventually be our debut full length. Hopefully this time around we can record somewhere that has heat! Over the summer we demo-ed about two albums worth of songs, and we constantly are writing, so we’ll just have to do some sifting through and decide where we want to go from there. For the time being, we want to tour, make cool videos, meet interesting people, and get our music heard.

Buffalo Rodeo’s 123 Water EP is available now from Jeffrey Drag Records. Read the whole feature here.

Advaeta

Advaeta_Press

When Advaeta released the single “Angelfish” from their upcoming Fire Talk album, Death and the Internet, our own JP Basileo interviewed the NYC trio of Lani Combier-Kapel, Sara Fantry, and Amanda Salane to understand further the band’s brilliant balance of electric infusions and vocal harmonies. In case you missed it the first time around, here is our exclusive new interview with Amanda, Sara, and Lani.

Interested in hearing more on how you all set your own scene amongst the Bushwick scenes within scenes, and within scenes.

Lani: Well I book and calendar shows at Silent Barn and for me, DIY and house venues are where I feel at home — Palisades, NOLA, Shea Stadium, DBA (RIP), Dekalb Jeggings, the Ho_se (RIP), Big Snow (RIP). The people who run and book these spaces are all friends, so I guess that’s a scene in itself. I remember when getting kicked out of Big Snow also got you banned from Shea and possibly DBA or Silent Barn. ADVAETA once had a point where we played at Big Snow a couple times a month!

There are just so many different scenes within Bushwick (and the rest of Brooklyn), that it’s hard to put a finger on how exactly we fit, but I’m not sure it’s that important to us.

We like to book our own bills, and generally it’s the weird stuff that holds our attention…or just if it’s super bad ass. I love playing with good touring bands, so I’ll try to get us on those bills as much as possible.

Sara: Music scenes are awesome because they provide community for people with similar interests & passions. But I don’t think anyone, in all their vastness, ever feels a member of one agreed upon aesthetic over time. The scenes going on in Brooklyn are microcosms of human social flow. There are no clear boundaries, so all we can do is make what we make, support who we support, hang where we hang, for as long as it lasts. I know we’re dedicated to being openly ourselves without any facades. If anything I imagine we’re members of a growing scene that keeps it real and really cares about acceptance and artistic expression for all.

Amanda: Mostly we are an entity hopefully attracting like minds which inevitably forms a community. I feel like we’re pretty independent from a lot of scenes which although is slightly uncomfortable there’s the promise of being the base for our own thing. We’re all female with a definite psychedelic mystical feminist bent and it’s hard to fit into that outside of ourselves here so we’ve pretty much just set ourselves in place and are letting and hoping positive things form around us.

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(Advaeta, photographed by Dylan Johnson.)

Interested in hearing more on the intuitive and emotive aspects, approaches, challenges, triumphs and more that informed the processes behind recording Death and the Internet.

Sara: We all saw a lot of pain and growth throughout the writing and recording of this album. For me our band was a womb where I could feel safe to creatively express those feelings and work out their lessons. A triumph, in my opinion, is that every word on that album is sincere as fuck.

Amanda: Well we all went through gut wrenching break ups so ya know, that was a pretty big one!

We have a very deep and intimate bond, what comes with that is a lot of self exploration and transformation. That’s the struggle and the triumph. We’re fuckin’ family bro, these are my sisters. The psychic and emotional depth fuels our music and allows us to telepathically feed off of each other when we play. No joke.

Lani: This is our first full length that we’ve released and the songs span a writing period of about 3-4 years. Within that time we’ve all had intense breakups, new relationships, new jobs and living arrangements, and have literally gone through every possible emotion with each other.

I consider Amanda and Sara a part of my family, and together we have written these songs from literal sweat, blood, and tears.

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(Advaeta at Silent Barn, photographed by Dylan Johnson)

What are you all the most excited about for your upcoming tour? Any showcases or SxSW events the three of you are stoked about in particular?

Amanda: I’m excited Lani and Sara finally got their licenses ’cause it’s allowing us to go on tour as just the three of us — plus I don’t have to drive their asses around anymore.

I’m psyched to see some old faces and meet new ones…just traveling in general, time disappears and there’s nothing like it.

Lani: We have a lot of great shows this tour! We’re playing a few of them with the band Beech Creeps — they’re amazing so I’m psyched to play with them. At SXSW, we’re playing a show on March 19 at Beerland with Running, Spray Paint, Beech Creeps and a bunch of awesome bands. We’re also playing an all stars show on March 20 for the Exploding In Sound Showcase / Stereogum Showcase at Hole in The Wall with bands like Jeff The Brotherhood, Krill, Beth Israel, etc.

Sara: Every time we go on tour we meet such cool people. I’m stoked for that, seeing tons of good music, and having another adventure with my best friends — what could be better?

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(Advaeta at Silent Barn, photographed by Dylan Johnson)

What are some of the top five things that have been on repeat listenings in the Advaeta circles?

Lani: Top five?!? I just have been listening to Glenn Branca and Spacemen 3 every day for the past month.

Sara: Trains going by, horns blaring, people yelling, electricity humming, and historically probably Joy Division, Velvet Underground, Stooges, Sleep, Ace of Base, etc on the speakers.

Amanda: We listen to each other talk, we don’t listen to music together. I mean sometimes but nothing really repeats. To be honest if you’re looking for influences here we’re all pretty independent. For this project my biggest repeaters are Les Rallizes Dénudés, Can, Spacemen 3, The Electronic Hole, Neon Blud. But ultimately I think it is a testament to our sound that we are trying to cultivate some sort of pumping rhythmic lush noise layered velvet thing very intuitively without much outside influence.

Thoughts, hopes, meditations, mantras, Advaeta philosophies for the future and proliferation of the Brooklyn scenes?

Sara: I had a writing mentor who always said, ‘the closer the lens, the more universal your message becomes.’ I really like that. If the art you make is sincerely and authentically you, people will be able to emotionally connect to it. And that’s the whole purpose of art, right? My hope is for people to stop doubting themselves and worrying about what other people have to say. Just do you babies, that’s the good shit.

Amanda: Authenticity is key.. and by that I mean allowing yourself to be a channel, and not judging what comes out, but rather shaping it with a gentle hand as it comes. I know it’s important for all of us to encourage others to create — a lot of people are very afraid of expressing themselves because of ridiculous standards that don’t actually exist — you just gotta do it anyway. You’ve gotta get the angels and the devils out somehow.

Lani: Love is all there is.

Advaeta’s Death and the Internet is available now from Firetalk Records. Read the whole feature here.

GABI

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From GABI’s debut album, Sympathy is available now from Software Recording Co., and frontwoman Gabrielle Herbst joined us for an exclusive interview session.

What sorts of sympathies inspired it for you?

I composed each song on Sympathy at different points in my life and in different mindsets. Some songs were written on my living room floor in the middle of the night with my loop pedal, others composed at Robert Wilson’s The Watermill Center. Koo koo was written in my families barn in Massachusetts. Some of the tracks were fleshed out through improvisation and others were very set right from the beginning. I worked closely with my band to flesh out the material into precise arrangements.

In the studio I worked intensely with Paul Corley and Dan Lopatin on processing the songs and taking the music to the next level. The songs grew into larger than life versions of themselves and I’m so grateful to have had such inspiring collaborators. In the studio, the recording process was a combination of my band and I performing the songs exactly how we rehearsed them, and allowing myself to improvise in the moment–making spontaneous decisions with my vocal layering that I think ultimately added an exciting depth.

What sorts of sympathies inspired it for you?

The artistic process can be a very isolating experience. Living in your own head and losing track of reality is something I think many artists experience. The idea of sympathy is a beautiful concept to me — stepping outside of oneself to feel for another person — to feel their pain and loneliness. This album is both inspired by sympathies for certain people I love and frantically trying to reach out and connect with listeners — finding a solace and connection through the human voice and together transcending the alienation that I feel inside and know others do as well.

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Tell us about working with Daniel Lopatin, and Paul Corley, on this. All those folks are talented heroes.

Daniel Lopatin was a really exciting collaborator. He was one of the first people to truly understand my vision for GABI. As soon a he heard the tracks, I could tell he saw my true colors, my voice — my musical logic. He’s a brilliant editor, musical thinker, and sound magician, and I feel like he helped me develop new angles of myself. He also introduced me to Paul Corley, who I worked with daily on Sympathy. Paul quickly grasped my musical instincts, and truly helped make my vision a reality. He was an incredibly inspiring and beautiful musical thinker. Working with the two of them felt like a dream team.

Thoughts on this absolutely amazing, and ridiculously good remix of “Fleece” from Autre Ne Veut?

I love Autre Ne Veut’s music. His beats, his hooks, his intuitive vibe that is just so much his own. Arthur and I go way back and I was excited to hear what his remix would sound like. It’s such a respectful remix, keeping the elements of my voice in tact and changing the structure, ryhthm and beat to really make it his own. I love it — it’s really thrilling to hear our sounds collide and meld. I’d love to do more work with him.

What’s next for Gabi?

I’m playing the Marfa Myths Festival in Texas on March 13 and then headed to SXSW for a few shows. In April I have a some exciting NYC shows at Rough Trade on April 6 and my release show at Le Poisson Rouge on April 22. Sympathy comes out on April 7 and my first Europe tour is in the works. I’m really excited to take this material on the road, work on new collaborations and keep writing new songs. The next album is already floating around in my head.

GABI’s debut album, Sympathy, is available now from Software Recording Co. Read the whole feature here.

Cruzie Beaux

Introducing—Cruzie Beaux.

Introducing—Cruzie Beaux.

You may remember Kristina Reznikov (formerly of Drop Electric) when she debuted her project, Blanche Has Friends, and now the DC based artist is back with her new band, Cruzie Beaux. On the debut of her first release as CB with, Demo 1; Reznikov fuses the electronic elements with big shards of shrapnel barbed guitars. Hear the hair whipping fist clincher, “You’re a Dog”, to the song of amorous sports and the like, “Baseball (All My Life)”, the relationship ruckus pop of needs and wants, “Girlfriend”, the tipsy trip dips into the internal narrative of, “Drunk on a Sunday”, bringing you to the work week that is treated like a weekend on, “Monday Night”. We had the chance yesterday to catch up with Kristina, in the following new interview.

Clue us in further on retiring your project Blanche Has Friends, and the rise of your pop rocker alter-ego, Cruzie Beaux.

Well, Blanche Has Friends was more of just a project that was made up of scrapped songs I had written for Drop Electric. It just got a little bit muddy for me and I wanted to start fresh with my writing. That being said, I also wanted a more definitive sound/genre. BHF was all over the place a little bit, and I wanted to stay more specific, so people could relate more. I went with this kind of noise rock-electronic sound.

Where does the name Cruzie Beaux come from, and what inspired it?

Cruzie beaux is named after my grandmother, Josephine Cruz. She and I like to watch French movie together. My grandmother is probably the coolest person you’ll ever meet. And so are her Mexican 18 grandchildren. We are close.

Tell us what lead you to the heavier sound, and the recording process of Demo 1.

I’ve always kind of produced on my own, but I knew for this work I wanted someone professional to do it for me. So I went to Rocky Gallo in New York City, and he is a master at the beach, crunchy guitar. He knew exactly what I wanted and he did it. In writing and mapping the drums I also kept them super heavy. I probably had too much 808 in it originally; Rocky made it a little more accessible.

Cruzie Beaux's Kristina Reznikov recording with Rocky Gallo at Virtue and Vice Studies in NYC.

Cruzie Beaux’s Kristina Reznikov recording with Rocky Gallo at Virtue and Vice Studies in NYC.

I’ve always been drawn to the heavier sounds. I grew up obsessed with metalcore and later some heavy underground electronica. I also have always really liked the punky choir type of “oi” vocal that I heard in my favorite street punk bands. I tried to incorporate all of that. But tried to keep it raw sounding.

What other recordings and releases might be in the works for Cruzie Beaux?

I’m really trying to have a new single ready the end of May. For the summer. Now that I’ve got my sound down I’m ready to explore and kind of go nuts with it.

What have you been listening to on heavy rotation lately?

“Dust” by Halos. Look it up, it’s addictive.

Other DIY artists you want to give a shout out?

Me and Karen are rocking DC right now. Also loving chomp chomp, DJ ayes cold, and an electronic artist named John john. Ill be playing a gig with all of them may 30 at dc9.

Listen to more from Cruzie Beaux via Soundcloud. Read the whole feature here.

Robot Princess

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Robot Princess, the darlings of Beau Alessi and Catherine Anderson present Teen Vogue LP, and Action Moves EP from Fleeting Youth Records, an imprint that continues to keep the DIY pop aesthetics (also associated with the similarly minded folks at Double Double Whammy, and so forth) intact; Robot Princess make songs for feelings about friendships that are stronger than bracelets, amulets, and charms; as hyper active imagination takes off to those places that always leaves you feeling good in the end. Beau and Catherine shared the following exclusive thoughts on the making of the single, album, EP, and more:

Beau

“Violent Shooting Stars” was just one of those phrases I had scribbled as a possible song title, then rediscovered maybe a year later. I was at the botanical gardens with a girl who had misread a placard that said, ‘violet shooting star.’ It’s a story about being in a place in life that’s calm and quiet and maybe a little lonely, and thinking back to times when things were a lot crazier. And how the past can seem so unbelievably distant. It’s a feeling I used to get when I’d drive around at night.

This may have been the first song that we worked up from this batch. Our producer Travis Harrison at Serious Business forced us to keep working on the pre-chorus until Peter and Joe came up with the really cool locked groove that the drums and bass fall into. That was huge for this song. The lyrics were originally a lot cheesier — something like “your eyes are pale grey like your sweater” — and I was probably going to throw it away. Then the “swamp monster” part popped into my head one afternoon, and the rest of it all kind of clicked together immediately. In general when I’m in songwriting trouble I just try to throw some monsters in there.

Catherine

Beau asked me to join Robot Princess in the winter of 2013. At that point, the songs on Teen Vogue were already about 80% written. “Violent Shooting Stars” was one of the first songs that I learned with the band. I’m a guitar player at heart, so picking up a Keytar for the first time was a bit daunting. It took me months to get used to the feel of it. “Violent Shooting Stars” was one of the first songs that I truly felt comfortable playing and singing on stage.

Flash forward about two years; now I’ve produced and mixed our latest EP, Action Moves, as well as a batch of brand new songs that we are currently working on. I cant say enough about how fun this process is. Beau’s mixing and production comments are usually in the vein of ‘let’s make this part sound even more fucked up,’ so I get a chance to really play around with a lot of effects and panning options. There’s a moment on the upcoming Action Moves song “Wendy” that is a particularly good example of this.

Read the whole feature here.

Zema

ZEMA, hanging out in the keg room.

ZEMA, hanging out in the keg room.

Meet ZEMA; the solo project of Kegan Zema known for his work at 1989 Recordings, Journalism, doing sound at Silent Barn, and so forth gives us the world premiere listen to his just released, One More Year EP. Having helped countless musicians bring their recorded and live shows to life; Kegan steps out into his solo project shoes draped in the all-caps moniker of his surname to present an electronically enveloped aesthetic that analyzes consumption of media, ideas of self, substance, sensations, desensitization, and other short stories put to electric vignettes.

On the opening of One More Year, ideas, images, and attitudes are observed through the passing of time on the jagged and primal cut, “Primitive Lust (MTV)”. The visions of idolatry as heard and seen through vintage television tube screens with basic cable marks the distances of time traversed, the cognitive changes experienced between the past and present, where pop culture heroism and aspirations are taken to task. The underlying mix shakes up club catered coolness, with dashes of derelict synths keeping the mood menacing, brought with a guttural, gritty, and dirty delivery that keeps the quest for fame, glamor, and glitz real, honest; with all the disheartened trimmings intact as well. On “Spring (Part II)”, the late NYC nights are recounted with a frank survey of the chemically induced evenings out, all the debaucherous decadence regaled in earnest, and all the co-dependent companionship that present themselves on the elusive quests for fortune, fame, and lived visions of synth glimmering grandeur. ZEMA entertains the embrace of sky-high hopes in Kegan’s homage to self-styled plans, dreams, hopes, and wishes that shine like the brightest of venue marquees in the after dark hours on, “Solo Act”. The artist’s ode to plans made, outlines drafted, and pop tunes arranged coasts on a cornucopia of synthesizers that leave you with the reiterated title alluding pleas of, “just give me one more year…” ZEMA joined us to discuss One More Year and more.

How have you found your work at 1989 Recordings has impacted your own approaches to solo recording and writing?

Everything I do has an impact on my solo work. It’s the sum of all my influences — a synthesis of all my musical and non-musical experiences as I move about the world. I take all of these inputs of emotions and sounds and distill them into an audible product. Working in a studio has been vital in terms of honing my mixing and engineering skills, but I’m also fascinated by watching ideas come into existence. Helping others create fires up all my empathetic receptors and I get a high similar to when I’m making my own work.

Tell us about the primal desires and modernist musical television stardom that inspired the electro-mania at work on “Primitive Lust (MTV)”.

This is a song about watching your perception of reality change as you grow older. It’s about rejecting the narrative we’re fed at an early age about limitless potential. It’s essential to our survival as ‘well-adjusted adults’ to accept that the world is cruel and rigged to make only a small number of specific individuals control the masses. Letting go of the dreams I was raised on by consuming media has been a slow and disheartening process for me.

ZEMA, Kegan Zema's labor of love, photographed by Nikki Belfiglio, featuring the hands of Aiko Masubuchi and Josef Von Weikkmann.

ZEMA, Kegan Zema’s labor of love, photographed by Nikki Belfiglio, featuring the hands of Aiko Masubuchi and Josef Von Weikkmann.

What seasonal memories gave rise to the springtime synths of, “Spring (Part II)”?

I spent last winter channeling primarily destructive energy on a spiritual, emotional and romantic level. With the arrival of spring certain mental blocks began to melt away. This song is half of a two-part movement, one of the centerpieces of the album I’m releasing later this year. “Winter (Part I)” explores these themes in a more somber context, while “Spring” takes a whole new approach to the same situations. I also tend to have trouble recognizing when my use of drugs or alcohol is recreational or self-medicating. I feel like that line is blurred a lot on this track both musically and lyrically.

Tell us about the synthesizer love notes, and the solo artist, that all sets the stage for the track, “Solo Act”.

Whatever semblance of a universal culture we have in 2015 tends to revolve around this idea of self. Each of us has become our own one-person show. Simply navigating our own identity stopped being enough at some point and we had to start creating one we can project. I’m always full of weird feels about social media. It’s like, I’m supposed to be putting forth this image-conscious, fully-formed and engaging version of myself, but I usually feel like this lost—yet determined human being trapped inside their own head.

What other recordings can you divulge at this moment, along with other potential releases?

This EP is essentially a small taste of what’s to come on my debut album. All of these songs will be re-contextualized within that narrative. These songs are a starting point though. It’s like everything you hear on these songs is prepping people to be like, ‘Oh damn, he came with it,’ when I drop the album. I’ve probably got half of another album done as well. Just give it one more year.

As someone who has recorded numerous artists and groups, can you give us just a handful at the top of your head that have had an impact on you lately?

At the same time I worship and idolize pop stars, I’m challenged by my friends and collaborators. I’ve had the pleasure of working on a huge amount of songwriting and production with my friends in Big Muff Radio and Sofa Club. They’ve been doing some next-level songwriting with Chloe Chaidez from Kitten, who they’re currently on tour with. All the material they worked on together is fire and seeing them play it live totally blew me away. I see so many influential acts by working sound at the shows at Silent Barn as well. My perception of live performance is continually challenged by working there.

Other artists that the world hasn’t heard yet but are about to change the game?

When people hear the Sofa Club album they will lose it. I like pretty much anyone that is able to show enough self-awareness to make whatever music they want. There are so many people who I can bond with over pop music and all its weird mutations. My friends in Bodega Bay are at the top of their game right now — musically and conceptually. Their live show is animated and transcendent.

Your thoughts on the current state of music (pop, indie, everything), and the future of music?

I feel the most optimistic about music when I hear a multitude of voices breaking through. Art spaces, promoters and publications can be conscious about breaking down hierarchical structures that exist in society. This allows for so many more people and ideas to be heard which is so crucial to the musical dialogue. A lot of people I know and work with seem to believe in this which makes me think positively for the future of music.

Next big moves for ZEMA?

My next show is at Palisades on May 6, which is also my birthday so maybe some cool cosmic shit will go down. I plan on continuing to work with genuine and talented people so we keep pushing each other. The album will be out later this year, I’m just trying to prepare everyone. Embrace the duality of life — the positive and negative flow of energy.

ZEMA’s One More Year EP is available now.

Follow ZEMA via Instagram, and Twitter. Read the whole feature here.

The Splits

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Putting the holy hell in Helsinki — Finland’s own heck raisers The Splits have signed to Dirtnap Records, and are preparing a forthcoming album (releasing their new album, II, April 21), giving us a taste with the grand debut of, “Melody”. Kicking out screams and shreds of thrash and trash fuzz chords; Kiti and the gang provide the first listen since their 2012 self-titled that brings an even stronger, hard as hell presence persona cult that even tops their nu-girl riot radical singles, “Ghost”, and “Crazy for You” (via Airiston Punk-Levyt)

So this time on “Melody”, Kiti and company are not taking any prisoners, or hostages, but rather what sounds like a record store raiding spree mission to collect every Goner Records piece of wax available, anywhere. The opening line of Melody is something to the sound of, “you ain’t no fuckin’ friend,” as The Splits unleash the most aggressive assault of high gear grinding guitars that recalls reckless drives to the Southern garage styles with an almost indescribable ferocity. Just when you thought that the states had the most tough as nail femmes du force — the Helsinki underground shows us here that Finnish rock stars might be able to do American garage rock better than any yank from any of the fifty states. Finally getting a wider audience release via the folks at Portland, Oregon’s Dirtnap; The Splits big brash Stateside arrival could not have happened at a better time, as the outdated patriarchal institutions, phallocentric artifices, and misogynist bands continue to crumble under their own oppressive hubris. Frontwoman and guitarist Kiti was cool enough to talk with us about the histories of The Splits, providing a rare glimpse into the indie scenes of Helsinki — immediately after the following debut of, “Melody”.

How did The Splits first band together?

Me (Kiti, singer/guitarist) and Maiju (bassist) started the band together in 2009. We played just the two of us almost for a year until we found Helena and our first drummer Aiju. Jussi came along 2012 as a drummer. He recorded our first 7″ and LP and was a natural choice for a new drummer after Aiju focused on the family life.

What’s the latest from the Helsinki indie scene circuits?

I really like this all-girl act called Laiskat Silmät. They remind me a little bit of us when we first started. They are punk!!!
I also like a bands like Spectral Rays, Ghost World (not really a Helsinki band) and a raw hard core band Kohti Tuhoa.

Give us all the gory and glorious details on recording your album, II for Dirtnap.

I just remember it was pretty hard work. I mean we woke up super early every morning which for me was hard. We spent ages at the studio, not only recording, we listened to loads of music, talked shit and ate unhealthy food, countless pizzas and candy. The process was unusually long for us, five days really. It was also emotionally heavy for me. Some of the songs are older than the others and it brought back all kinds of memories — not maybe the most pleasant ones. I had to deal with a whole lot of my past again just to get those songs out of my system.

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What types of memories and/or melodies inspired the trashed out single, “Melody”?

Bitter and angry. I wrote the song after my breakup. I was still in pieces. So at that time anger and disappointment were my main inspirations. Later at practice I ‘noticed’ the cowboy ‘theme,’ I felt like the guitar lead could be a soundtrack for an old spaghetti western or something. Our recording guy/producer Lauri captured perfectly my thought of those Joe Meek guitar sounds. I just tried to explain what I’m looking after and he really nailed it.

Other Helsinki/Finnish bands/artists we should know about?

Besides those acts I mentioned earlier, you definitely should know Maailmanloppu, Kuudes Silmä, Armless Children, Acid Runs, Teksti-tv 666, Seksihullut, Darfür, Lapinpolthajat, Useless Cunts, Nazi Death Camp. Finland is a such a small country, but we’ve always had quality punk bands and a very active scene.

Next moves for The Splits?

We wanna tour! Keep on moving! Hopefully this year outside the Europe too. We have a short Germany tour in the end of the May with the Berlin band P.U.F.F. And we also have new songs and we’re hoping to record a 7″.

The Splits’ new album, II is available now from Dirtnap Records. Read the whole feature here.

El Hollín

Getting to know, El Hollín, photographed throughout by Stacey-Marie Piotrowski.

Getting to know, El Hollín, photographed throughout by Stacey-Marie Piotrowski.

Turning Athens, Georgia into the sound of the mythic “Anorak City”; El Hollín released their new album, una tuesday, available now via Bandcamp, and Carousel Breakfast, chasing away the grudgery of life with sincere songs penned by the heart. Lead by the multi-talented and multi-instrumental frontwoman, Dena Zilber, joined by drummer Dain Marx, bassist Hana Hay, violinist John Fernandes, trumpeter Charlie Key, and Michael Wasteneys Stephens overseeing the usage of the accordion, glockenspiel, saw, etc. Following up holey smokes and a slated for releases from over the past half-decade; una tuesday is the shining DIY sound vision that might have been sent from the imaginations of the mid 80s post-post-punk rebellion from the scenes that celebrated themselves, and your favorite former indie labels were still independent from the clutches of the majors.

Dena strums sentiments both held from within and worn on her sleeve as El Hollín begins the una tuesday party with “acetone” that echoes the Dolly Mixture sentiments and Television Personalities style of rhythm guitar. Endearing moments are captured in observations of others, musings on the character of potential suitors and crushes, forever extending the genuine inner thoughts toward external projections on environmental presences. The realness and stripped down glory graces onward with, “i wish/the magic eye”, literary language economics on the fluttering, “poem”, the flavorful summer dreams and hair braiding longings of, “watermelon”, the folktale daydream of, “later in the day”, the forget me not of, “have you forgotten me”, the conscious stream of pure sentiment, “plait”, the enchanted tale of, “the last unicorn”, the intimate utterances of, “purr”, the dance inspiring dada punk of, “marbles”, mockery accusations, “and mock”, accordion thought-stream testaments on, “painted house”, to the closing ode to embracing and observing life with eyes wide open; “you can tell”. Read our following exclusive interview with Dena Zilber, as we explore the dynamics of El Hollín.

How did you first discover your love for making music?

I discovered my love for making music very slowly, I think it took honestly 21 years for it to really come out of me. As a kid I always had melodies and lyrics floating around in my head but never really had a clue of what to do with them. I took piano lessons very young, and then guitar lessons as a teen when I started becoming more passionate about music (specifically indie rock and pop). I didn’t make a lot of progress in my guitar lessons though, and for years after the guitar lessons I had sort of felt that I wasn’t really competent to be making music. So, I just stuck with my passion for discovering new bands, collecting records, and seeing as many live shows as I possibly could in NYC (I lived in NY). In college I studied printmaking, and after my junior year is when I first visited a friend of mine in Athens. When I came back from my trip, my heart was so full of emotions because I had fallen in love with Athens, and someone I had met there. I started writing songs and recording them by myself with whatever recording devices I had around, but they were just a capella at first or sometimes used a toy melodica to create harmonies/beats. I then later borrowed an friend’s little Martin acoustic guitar, re-taught myself how to play, and wrote guitar parts for those songs. Those were recorded too, and later when I moved to Athens I shared them with my musically inclined friends in town. They then urged me to start a band! Which became El Hollín back in 2010.

What’s the story behind the name El Hollín, and how did the band first begin?

The story behind the name El Hollín, which isn’t very exciting: I used to have an app on my old school Nokia phone years ago that gave me a ‘Spanish word of the day.’ One day that word was ‘El Hollín,’ and it was described as meaning ‘soot.’ I was in love with that word, and the definition from that point and knew I wanted to remember it and use it for something. Six months later I started the band.

I discovered with my friends who speak Spanish though, that this is a very obscure Spanish word. It’s possibly only used in certain Spanish speaking regions, or just not a word that really comes up often. My friend Lydia is Mexican, and when she told her mom about the band, her mother thought the name meant ‘dirty hole.’

It’s been a tricky name to work with, no one really knows how to pronounce it correctly on first try. The ‘h’ is silent, the two ‘ls’ make a ‘y’ sound (think ‘se llama,’ and the ‘í’ makes a hard ‘e’ sound. At times I’ve wanted to change the name, but nothing has ever felt as right. When I tell people about the band I usually say, ‘we’re called El Hall-in, or El Hollín.’

El Hollín, photographed throughout by Stacey-Marie Piotrowski.

El Hollín, photographed throughout by Stacey-Marie Piotrowski.

Over the years the band’s line up has changed many times. For the first year or two it was just myself, a drummer, and another friend playing keyboards/glockenspiel. We played Athens Popfest and got a review that ripped on us hard for not having a bassist. So then we introduced bass, and I learned how magically the bass transformed my songs, then we found a trumpet player, a violinist, etc. Friends kept wanting to join in, and it was awesome. But as many people wanted to join, others would get busy or move on. Athens is a very transitional town with people coming and going all the time (mainly because of the college). Though I would love to have a band/group that is consistent and long-term, that hasn’t been the most viable thing, so it’s been a rotating cast of characters backing me up over the years.

Give us stories on the making of Una Tuesday, following up Holey Smokes.

Una Tuesday came after a lot of life changes happened. Two other bands I was in broke up/fell apart, and I had to part ways with my drummer that I started the band with because he had to deal with some mental health issues. I also at the same time had just broken up with my partner of 3 years, and this all happened in the same month! It was a weird time. I knew I didn’t want to stop making music or playing in bands but I was unsure for a while if El Hollín would continue. Then it just occurred to me one day to ask my friends Dain Marx (a drummer) and Hana Hay (a bassist) to play with me and continue the band again. They used to play together in Portland in a band called Foot Ox.

So now It’s funny, my previous two albums had hardly any songs to do directly with romance or relationships, but suddenly those sort of songs were pouring out of me. A lot of Una Tuesday is about dealing with heartache.

Stories: For a year we would practice once or twice a week in a house that used to be a laundromat and played some really fantastic house shows there. There was already a stage with checkerboard tiling built in where the machines had been, and the acoustics of the space were fantastic.

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Hana’s parents are both big influences on the Athen’s music scene, her mom Vanessa was the singer of Pylon. Her father Bob used to have a great band called The Squalls. I knew about two months into playing with Dain and Hana that I wanted to start recording and Hana told me Bob would definitely be down to record us at his friend Ken Starratt’s studio in Watkinsville, 20 minutes outside of Athens. So we started recording there a few times a month from February 2014-September. The studio was really fantastically built. It is the size of a small cottage and in the wooded backyard of Ken’s home. It was so nice to be out there when the weather was good. We’d take turns recording and the rest of us would enjoy the natural surroundings. Dain and Hana always brought their dog Grizelda and Dain would find animal skulls around the premises, ha ha! This was my first experience recording in a professional studio as well, the past records were recorded in friend’s homes.

What was it like working with John Fernandes, and how did his contributions affect, Una Tuesday?

John Fernandes is an amazingly supportive musician who lives in Athens. He attends everyone’s shows and is one of the most friendly and approachable people. He also works at the local record shop Wuxtry, so he tends to know everyone in the scene and what’s going on. John and I met and became friends within the first few months that I lived in town. It never really occurred to me to ask him to play with us because I felt too humble or shy I suppose. My friend Lydia started playing violin with us in 2011 for a few years, but had to temporarily drop out when she was finishing up school. So around the time I started playing with Dain and Hana it just occurred to me that I should ask John! He was totally stoked to play with us, and awesome to work with. I don’t have much to say besides that because he’s really just a sweet and passionate person. He always has been supportive of my music and our band as well. We played his fest in town last fall for his record label called Cloud Recordings Fest. That was a lot of fun! Violin has always been really terrific to have in our band’s sound because it often works like the lead guitar in many of our songs. It also adds so much depth, counter-plays my melodies, and overall adds richness to the mix. With Una Tuesday, I feel his violin also really adds to the melodramatic points of my songs. And, I’ve been influenced by so many indie pop bands over the years that feature violin and orchestral instruments to their sound, so just having those same sort of vibes going with my own band makes me really giddy.

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Tell us about your music recording and composition processes.

Recording and composition process: It usually goes this way- I have a melody with lyrics floating around in my brain. They usually come to me when I am riding my bike, driving my car, or taking a shower! Usually just whenever I am daydreaming a little. Sometimes they come if I’m just sitting down in my room with my guitar as well. I write out the words. Sometimes I record the melody and lyrics so I don’t forget them. Then I bring out my guitar or keyboard and start to flesh it out. I add and take away, and I just keep experimenting with different sounds or ideas until a song starts to morph. Sometimes the song isn’t at all like what I was originally hearing in my mind, but it’s really fun for me, to take whatever original idea or inspiration is coming to me and see how it evolves when I work with it. I later share it with my band mates, and we start to collaborate on their parts for the songs- though for the most part everyone really writes their own accompaniment. I rarely have specific instructions, usually when I do it’s just for the backing vocals. With Una Tuesday, it was kind of funny though- we recorded the album over 8 months and not all the songs were written when we started the process. My band mates were just learning some of the songs in the studio! There were a few we had to go back and re-record later because the songs had changed over time from the first recording session as we started to play them live at shows.

el hollin stacey-marie piotrowski week in pop

Favorite obscure C86 era single/EP/album comp?

When it comes to the original NME [C86] comp, The Pastels track was what really sucked me into the C86 genre and my love for all that. Discovering The Pastels was like discovering a new crush, I was so very excited about this band who for some reason was off my radar for the longest time. “Truckload of Trouble” is my favorite record of theirs and particularly the track “Nothing to be Done”. Of course the original comp led me into the whole genre. The Australian band Even as We Speak is a really important influence on me, I put the song “Drown” on so many mix CDs. I also found The Popguns, The Bats, and Dolly Mixture, Cub. The band Heavenly and everything Amelia Fletcher has ever been involved with has really changed my life.

What are you listening to now?

I listen to a lot of my friend’s bands: Iji from Seattle, Younger Siblings from Birmingham AL, Junior July- a new pop punk band from Bloomington IN, fronted by Mitch the Champ, Wild of Night/Permanent Nap (Local Athenian group), Places to Hide from Atlanta, Try the Pie, Lonesome Leash, Maryn Jones, Quarterbacks, Air Waves, and Nesey Gallons!

I’m also really into Screaming Females, Telle Novella, Stephen Steinbrink, Peach Kelli Pop, Cats on Fire, They Might be Giants, Cocteau Twins, The Four Tops… so many, and so much pop- but it’s all over the place, and I could go on! I’m really big on 80’s music in general too, Cyndi Lauper, etc.

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Report from the Athens, Georgia scene?

Not much to report on the Athens scene. I’ve lived here for almost five years now, and I’ve seen a lot of waves of music come in and out. I think we are somewhat in between the waves right now. There’s still awesome bands popping up here and there, but not as many or as much activity as when I first moved to town. There’s still shows and concerts to see almost every single night though, so I am pretty spoiled over here with that. We have lots of cool small touring bands pass through regularly. I get to meet other touring musicians all the time, and I have friends all over the country now which is pretty rad!

Other Athens artists you love?

Other Athens artists: I already mentioned Wild of Night/Permanent Nap, my friend Birdie’s electronic/synth group- her music is incredibly beautiful. There’s also a great pop punk band in town called Eureka California. John Fernandes plays with another group called Old Smokey who make really wonderful melodic folk tunes.

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How did the Carousel Breakfast partnership come about?

Carousel Breakfast is a label my friend Jared in Michigan just launched. We became friends over a year ago when he discovered my music through Nesey Gallons (who mastered our last album “Holey Smokes”). He told me from the get go that he wanted to start a label and release our albums in cassette format. We considered doing a tape release for Holey Smokes but it had already been out on CD for quite some time at that point, so we decided to wait for the next record. It’s his second release on the label, the first being a reissue of “Somewhere We Both Walk”- a booklet of poetry by Nesey that comes with an incredible, visceral ambient track of music that Nesey composed.

El Hollín’s una tuesday is available now via Bandcamp and Carousel Breakfast. Read the whole feature here.

AJ Pantaleo

AJ Pantaleo, photographed by Danny Lane.

AJ Pantaleo, photographed by Danny Lane.

AJ Pantaleo from Bueno presents his solo EP, Walkabout, featuring experimental noise variations taken from the artist’s free jazz roots. Recorded at Red Room Studios in Staten Island in what we are told was one take; AJ is joined by James Clark, and Bueno’s Mike D for a wild session that the artist described as being, “improvised & recorded individually without prior knowledge of each others parts. Listen with a proper pair of headphones for the best experience and journey on.” The fun begins with the humming percussion to electric assonance/dissonance where rushes of feedback become spaced out aspects of the mix. “Siamese” continues along the plains between organized and disorganized noise and rhythm patterns, drumming up the pole on, “Totem”, spinning you around to the closing curtain drop of free formed orchestrations of beautiful, brilliant, and terrifying chaos. AJ further described thoughts, reflections, etc, on the making of the Walkabout EP with the following exclusive insights:

I really tried to speak through the drums. Mike and James provided me a really nice canvas of sound to play over and get lost in. James sent me soundscapes he did at home in Brooklyn. I had no idea what he was going to come up with but I trust him. He and I did a bunch of playing together a few years back with Greem Jellyfish and BEEF. I recorded my parts to his soundscapes. Mike came in completely blind and laid down his guitar and sounds. The result is Walkabout. A team effort. The recording was engineered by Joe Pecora of Red Room Studios here on Staten Island, and artwork was done by Christopher Prosser of a The CPDC based out of California.

AJ Pantaleo, photograph appears courtesy of Mike Shane Photography.

AJ Pantaleo, photograph appears courtesy of Mike Shane Photography.

Walkabout is basically a peak inside of my head. It was my chance to create a record the way I hear drums and take the listener on the journey with me. At times its groove oriented, other times it’s choppy and ‘mathy,’ but it’s what I hear and feel. Artist Brendan Coyle who is based out of Richmond VA is currently working on some videos for the album that hopefully I can incorporate into the live performance. It will be available streaming digitally and for purchase April 3rd. Pre-order via iTunes on March 23rd as well.

Read the whole feature here.

Algiers

Algiers, featuring Franklin James Fisher, Ryan Mahan, and Lee Tesche, photographed by WFN Productions.

Algiers, featuring Franklin James Fisher, Ryan Mahan, and Lee Tesche, photographed by WFN Productions.

Releasing their Matador album debut this summer, Algiers have already given us their single, “But She Was Not Flying“, and most recently released the radical and powerful Lamb & Sea video collage of vintage and current images that make up the sentiments, sensations, and deep felt cure sentiments of, “Blood”. In just under six minutes, Franklin leads you through a series of transgressive empirical histories, with a heaviness of lyrics, combining a montage collection of moving images that depict televised revolutions, “television coma” concepts of armchair apathy, injustices, and an electric, funereal nu-gospel response to the sins of the twentieth century. It is our privilege to present the following exclusive, and moving editorial from frontman Franklin James Fisher himself on the song, “Blood”, systemic racial marginalization, “symbolic intervention against the vapid and unifying Capitalist hegemony of pop,” and much more:

“Blood” is a meditation; a reflection on the overwhelming disillusionment and hopelessness that result when you find yourself powerless in an impossibly stifling, political situation, particularly in the midst of an increasingly bankrupt culture. But it is also a last-breath refusal to bow to political nihilism…even if that resistance is wholly symbolic.

The song was initially spawned as a challenge to the problematic question of my elders. As a young, black man, I am constantly asked, ‘What happened to your generation?’ This presupposes that within the inter-generational project of black liberation in America, something went wrong when the torch was passed and the time came for us to assume our role in the struggle. But personally, it was neither sufficient nor acceptable to focus the blame inward and what started as a personal exploration of identity and dispossession quickly turned into a larger indictment of a systemic and institutionalized oppression that transcends the African-American experience and which has managed to immobilize and suppress all marginalized voices. In her essay “Postmodern Blackness,” bell hooks explains:

“The period directly after the black power movement was a time where major news magazines carried articles with cocky headlines like ‘Whatever Happened to Black America?’ This response was an ironic reply to the aggressive, unmet demand by decentered, marginalized black subjects who had at least momentarily successfully demanded a hearing, who had made it possible for black liberation to be on the national political agenda. In the wake of the black power movement, after so many rebels were slaughtered and lost, many of these voices were silenced by a repressive state; others became inarticulate. It has become necessary to find new avenues to transmit the messages of black liberation struggle, new ways to talk about racism and other politics of domination.”

When we look to the past and then survey the present cultural landscape, it is not hard to see the remains of lost futures and possibilities of a myriad social, artistic and political projects. In “Blood”, we stage our symbolic intervention against the vapid and unifying Capitalist hegemony of pop. Each device is a representative symbol: the choir are the ghosts of the past, still clamoring for a voice; the guitar is purely abstracted and disembodied frustration because harmony cannot suffice to articulate where we are. Here, we have envisioned a parallel future where artistic and political revolutionaries convene across temporal and social space in shared revolt at our current predicament.

Read the whole feature here.


Landshapes

landshapes week in pop 1 London’s Landshapes return with their new forthcoming album Heyoon from Bella Union. Their new single “Ader” is named after the mysterious and tragic 70s artist — Bastiaan Johan Christiaan “Bas Jan” Ader — Luisa Gerstein from the band describes the fascination with the Dutch artist who left the world too soon in a solo boat accident out in the Atlantic with the following insight into the elusive allure; “People have speculated over what he’s sad about, that it could be the absolute loneliness of all humans and that you can never completely know another person.” The band formerly known as Lulu And The Lampshades; Luisa, joined by bassist Heloise Tunstall, guitarist Jemma Freeman, and percussionist Dan Blackett all contribute their vocals to a whirling bridge of seventeenth and twenty-first century fascinations into euphoric, pure indie pop fun for all times.

Landshade’s “Ader” begins with the band letting out a chorus of ecstatic yelps like moon howling auditions, that are heard throughout the song in various capacities as the backing vocals to match the group’s spinning carousel of sound. Distances unknown and miraculous searches of ill-begotten sailing trips are expressed with an untethered joy, even in the paradoxes of mortal conundrums in lyrics like, “and I’m too sad to tell you, and all we all die alone, so cast me away, I’ll take my chances…wooo wooo!” The great, cryptic aesthetic mysteries that chronicle everything from the classic cavalier poets, the Restoration, and then forward to the post-post-modern millennial eras pureed into an assembled audio art piece on the classic and contemporary human condition that will inspire you like to shout and yell along with Landshapes. Join us for our following interview with Heloise, Jemma, & Luisa as we discuss all things Landshapes.

How did Landshapes take shape? How did you all meet up and agree upon starting a band?

Heloise: Landshapes has pretty much remained the same line up as it did when we started out 5 or six years ago. Luisa and I bonded at school in the middle of a choir practice and started singing more together at uni. I asked Jemma to join us the first time I met her and we taught her the songs in the loo just before a gig. We were impressed that she managed to make her fingers bleed when playing the guitar. We all poached Dan from another band we saw at a gig. We watched him create noises from scrunching up a water bottle, and thought that was great. In terms of sound, we started out pretty folky with lots of instrument swapping and home made percussion. Nowadays we generally play one instrument each, spicing things up with pedals and amps. It’s a much louder, darker affair.

Give us the story on what the experience of recording Heyoon was like, and was it different from your debut album, Rambutan?

Jemma: Recording Heyoon was radically different from Rambutan. Before we started it felt like we were incredibly prepared we spent hours deliberating over the details, editing parts and really focusing on specific sounds and effects. Having played together intensively there became an unconscious musical bond, an understanding of how we each play, how we could challenge our habits and instincts.

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Jemma: Initially we wanted to record it as live as possible, with us all playing in the room, the same way it was written to retain the energy, for “Ader” this is the case, but for the others we took the live bass and drum tracks together and tracked everything else after. It was important for us after all the preparation and thought we had put in prior to recording that we captured the parts and sounds as perfectly as we had envisioned them. We spent a lot of time choosing mics and amps, making sure the drum sound had character, and depth relevant to each track. It was an obsessive but loving process. When we went in to do Rambutan, we were quite naive we hadn’t thought about how fast or slow things should go, we hadn’t ever recorded to a click track. So quite different. That’s not to say we didn’t have hiccups during Heyoon but it is a much more considered album.

landshapes week in pop 3 How do you all feel London has affected/impacted your sound?

Heloise: It’s a tricky question given that most of us have lived here our whole lives, but I think the multicultured nature of the city has definitely affected us somewhat. That and the sounds of the city — the transport system, sirens, reflections of sounds in built up areas etc. it’s hard not to pick up on that. Dan being from Newcastle has a unique perspective and is always picking up phrases he hears on the bus and out in the streets. It’s funny hearing the city through his ears. It was quite interesting to write music away from London in Cornwall. We spent a week in the forest and wrote some of our loudest, rowdiest songs. Perhaps it was somewhat of a catharsis!

Other indie stars from London you all love?

Luisa: Bands and acts in London we’re excited about at the moment are Tomaga, Trash Kit, Auclair, Arrows of Love, Demob Happy, Wet Dog, Tirzah, there’s loads ….!

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In love with “Ader”; who and what is this all about, and what real life events inspired it?

Luisa: Thanks! The lyrics are about the 70s conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader, who’s most famous works are “I’m Too Sad to Tell You” and “Searching for the Miraculous”. The first two verses are written from his perspective, describing restless energy and what compels someone to throw themselves into a completely unknown experience, and then the last verse and choruses are spoken from the perspective of his mother and loved ones… It’s all very tragic, his attempt to sail the Atlantic in a small sailboat must’ve been doomed from the start, but there’s a spirit of adventure and yearning which I think everyone can relate to, and that comes across in the music, it’s so urgent and upbeat and spritely and I like that disjuncture.

How do you all describe your recording and song writing methodologies? Favorite process/collaboration styles?

Jemma: We tend to always write together in our practice room. Some days it feels like there is a sonic theme or idea we all connect with and explore. We have all bonded with our instruments a lot more, we have a few more tricks up our sleeves than with Rambutan. It gives us more freedom to experiment.

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Jemma: For the most part we jam out ideas; a beat, a bass line, or a uke, or guitar riff might start it all. A new effects pedal might create a magical accident and we work from there. The refining process is the hardest bit, as there will always felicitous moments in the initial jam that can be quite tricky to figure out how to play again in real life. Its an amazing learning process.

What sorts of American short-fiction inspired Heyoon, along with interplanetary birds?

Luisa: It’s hard to pinpoint specific stories, maybe the mood of Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson which eerily describes secret hidden places that are a kind of mindset as much as real places. I’m a huge fan of Lydia Davis, and the story “Forbidden Subjects” is a direct inspiration for “Fire”, which describes the difficulty of forming a friendship when a relationship has ended. Conversations are so barbed and loaded that it becomes a delicate dance of neutral topics to avoid causing pain, but then it’s also remembering the fire of chemistry. Landshapes’ sophomore album Heyoon is available now from Bella Union Read the full feature here.

Macajey

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We last caught up with Macajey in 2014 with the release of his Water EP, and now we present you with his new album, Let’s Go. The elemental forces present from the previous extended player can be heard in “Sunny But Freezing” where Jeremy Macachor blends the electronic aspects of production with the sciences and sequences of natural patterns. Larger production leaps can be heard on “Silent Morning” that features Elle Leatham on vocals, the sun basking down tempo Bay Area tropics of, “Heat Wave”, more pop experiments with Elle Leatham on, “The Fall”, new-age rhythm on the title track, to bewildering wonder, “Dosa”, that might be Jeremy’s most ambitious track yet. “Rrrumpus” finds Jeremy having the maximum amount of fun behind the decks, putting together a sound that is full of life and energy, and the perfect party favor for all celebratory events. Vocal outbursts that make a barely intelligible utterance cue the production to hit even harder like the most subversive of big beat knocking basement tracks.

Macajey’s “Out For A Run” features vocals from Ashley Macachor, that turns the percussion step progressions of a brisk morning jog out in the Bay into a transcendental experience. Like the environmental influences that most likely informed the title of “Sunny But Freezing”, the fog of San Francisco makes an allusory appearance on “Out For a Run” as clouds of vapor waves wash over the production in a style not unlike the drifting fog of San Francisco. Join us for our discussion with Macajey’s Jeremy Macachor.
As someone prone to world traveling, have you ventured to any more epic places around the globe?

The past four years have just been going back and forth between the Bay Area and Tartu, Estonia (where my wife is from). After traveling so much in my early 20’s it’s nice to have some stability these days, but hopefully there will be some more adventures coming up in the future that involve playing music.

The latest happenings in the Bay Area that you are into these days?

We’ve been away from the Bay Area since last August so don’t know too much about what’s going on. But when in the Bay Area we usually just go on short drives to Half Moon Bay or some hiking place, mostly nature stuff. And when there happens to be an artist or band that we really like that’s passing through we’ll go see them. Going out is so expensive we have to be very picky about what we do!

What has the jump been like from the Water EP to the forthcoming full length album? The sound is more hyped up, pumped up, and even more spontaneous….feeling this.

Thanks! Up until this album I have never gone into any project with the idea that I’m going to push this as hard as I can. I always just did music and then got kind of mad and hurt that no one was paying attention to it! But I realized that if anyone is going to find out about my project I’m going to have to be like a machine in my own PR work and I guess that feeling translated into the music too. Also just wanting something out of life and my music. I’ve always been afraid of having a big ego and admitting to myself that I want success in the music industry, but I really do! I want to play at festivals and tour and do all the things that come with being a successful musician, so I guess that all fed into this album.

Tell us about making the more new-club-footwork stuff to the more atmospheric breaks of “Rrrumpus”, and how do these different tempos and textures work together according to your own creative synthesis?

My goal for this album was that I wanted each song to fit into a mixed tape of all my favorite artists. I’ve been really influenced by guys like Gold Panda, Bonobo, Four Tet, Slow Magic, Star Slinger, Floating Points…the list goes on. Looking back maybe I was trying a little too hard to fit into the genre, rather than listening to my own instincts, but I’m pretty happy with the album as a whole and it’s given me more focus for the next project.

Other items, projects, in the works?

I’ve got some potential collaborations in the works, but nothing solid yet. I’ve always wanted to do a really focused sort of deep house/dance music ep or album, one that flows really well from beginning to end in it’s tempo and beats, but I’ve always been too scatterbrained and easily distracted. So I think that’s the next thing I’ll try to do.

Other local artists that are doing it, and doing it big that you want to recognize?

My favorite Bay Area band is The Dodos, I love everything they put out and their new album is really great. It was a while ago but I saw them play in Big Sur, that was probably the best gig I’ve ever been to. Also Elle Leatham, who sings on two songs on my album) has some cool projects going on, Dpbts! as well as her own solo music, definitely check her out!

Macajey’s album Let’s Go is available now via Bandcamp. Read the full feature here.

New God

New God, comprised of Kenny and Curt Tompkins, photographed by Lindsay Wilson.

New God, comprised of Kenny and Curt Tompkins, photographed by Lindsay Wilson.

Regular readers, listeners, viewers, and onlookers know that we are in love with the endless summer harmonies made from Baltimore brother duo, New God. From their Firework album, videos, and more; their new single The Magic Sound Came Out single proves that these siblings are more than just some new-Beach Boys on the block. Whereas Firework proved to be a breakthrough for the brothers in showcasing a wealth of possibilities and a bevy of various sonic directions; Magic Sound finds Kenny and Curt Tompkins focusing on lush, and holistic arrangements that are built around the melodies of their harmonic structures. The new 7″ proves to be a concept record of it’s own economic form, with The Magic Sound Came Out split into two sections between the A-side title track, and the B-side, “Song of The Silver Angels”.

On Section 1, classic Wrecking Crew LA pop sounds are steeped in a sound of baroque pop 60s-ish studio experimentation. But once again, it is the harmonies that all along are underscoring the single’s theme heard in the second section supporting Kenny Tompkins’ psychedelic story amid the presence of sparse and sporadic effect devices. Available April 7 from Yellow K Records on ultra-limited edition 7″ singles (20 hand-numbered copies we are told), New God’s latest suggests further elaborate arrangements from the Tompkins brothers. “The Magic Sound Came Out” pays homage to the tradition of carefully made pop songs, and a nearly academic condensation of the concept album notion into two succinct songs. The A-side carries it’s motifs over to the flipside lullaby, “Song of The Silver Angels” to bring elements of the supernatural and surreal told in Kenny’s spoken word tone over continued vocal harmonies, and slight-psych touches that are applied with careful, yet calculated restraint. Read our latest interview with Kenny Tompkins.

Walk us through how Firework helped inform “The Magic Sound Came Out”.

With Firework we were really interested in building a lot of the song foundations from non-traditional sounds with a fairly modern style of production. This is sort of a reaction to that process. We did the opposite this time. All the instruments in section one are traditional, natural, acoustic and the style of the production has a slightly vintage sound.

Tell us about how you two arranged Section 1 and Section 2.

In section one the guitar,main vocals, and percussion came first. The choir parts (oohs) are improvised. Neither of us play strings very well so we have to communicate those ideas to our more talented friends . I worked out the violin parts on piano, wrote them out in my sort of childish musical shorthand, and they were translated/performed by my patient friend Michelle Lau. Section two is a bit more interesting. The spoken word part, which was improvised on the spot, has a lot of imagery in the lyrics. We thought it would be fun to try and bring the images to life through sounds. So when the lyrics say ” Making shining circles and figure eights” we would ask ourselves “What does a circle sound like?’ and then try to find something to actually make the sound. Fun questions and fun solutions which included lots of slide whistle, pitch-bent reverb trails, and chopped-up vocal samples. new god week in pop 1

How do you all go about developing those killer harmonies?

It comes natural to us. There is not a lot of work involved. If one is singing the other will harmonize. (We’ve been singing together since we were little kids so we have worked it out pretty well.) The only time we really talk about it is if the harmonies are burdening the melody or if they are changing the emotional tone of the song. A single line of harmony can really change my feelings about a song.

How have your writing and recording methods evolved do you feel?

We change both processes every time we make a record. We will intentionally use different tools which will always inspire your writing to go somewhere new. We will go to different spaces which can also really change the way things come out (like the racquetball court for Firework). One thing we don’t do is set a standard for fidelity which helps us stay creative. Lots of bands go hi-fi after a few records and never look back. We try to stay open to all recording tools, spaces, sounds, etc. So I’m not sure if we have evolved much, we’ve just tried to stay open which is it’s own thing.

What else are you all listening to right now?

Lots of old Hawaiian music and Bollywood soundtracks, Death Grips, Michael Hurley, Seagulls, Amen Dunes, Tom Petty. We have both been pretty obsessed with a bunch of unreleased music that is coming out on on our label (Yellow K) this year. I would keep my eyes on Yellow K.

Other artists you want to give a shout out to?

I wanna say hey to my friends in Perfect Future, Rozwell Kid, and Circa Survive. Hard working bands full of good people. New God’s new single, The Magic Sound Came Out is available from Yellow K Records. Read the full feature here.

NoMBe

nombe week in pop 1 Heidelberg/Mannheim x LA’s NoMBe is Noah McBeth, who just dropped his single “California Girls” that emulates and attempts to embody the hedonist abandonment of LA to a kicked back production beat. A noted classical pianist, Noah applies these learned schools to the notes and mix of turning the wild at heart “west coast pheromones” into a tangible audio counterpart. Narratives are described, like half-lidded and half lit observations from the back of limo or Uber luxury car; recounting the events and characters seen around the Sunset Strip scenes between the hours of 10 o’clock at night and three in the morning. Noah McBeth was kind enough to talk to us in the following interview.

Tell us about how your Heidelberg, Germany classical pianist come LA producer came about, and how these disparate places have all together informed your sound.

It really began with this Musical group I used to produce for in Mannheim, Germany. That was my ticket to the US and I never really went back. Landed in Vegas for a few days, went to Miami and to Montreal, before settling in NYC. That really was a game changer as far as becoming an adult was. I was 19 at the time just grinding and no one in my family really understood what my goal was, I had some great experiences, but ultimately I got frustrated with the city grind and relocated to Miami to study music. Miami soon got old, too and LA was just calling me. I’m very glad I made that move. All these places left their marks and I had great connections with people from all over till this day.

It really began with this Musical group I used to produce for in Mannheim, Germany. That was my ticket to the US and I never really went back. Landed in Vegas for a few days, went to Miami and to Montreal, before settling in NYC. That really was a game changer as far as becoming an adult was. I was 19 at the time just grinding and no one in my family really understood what my goal was, I had some great experiences, but ultimately I got frustrated with the city grind and relocated to Miami to study music. Miami soon got old, too and LA was just calling me. I’m very glad I made that move. All these places left their marks and I had great connections with people from all over till this day.

Where do you find the classical and modern/post-modern approach both intersecting and diverging from your own creative experience?

It’s really hard to pinpoint where one thing ends and the other thing starts. I think they both represent stages in my musical maturity. Classical is a foundation and sort of a scope that helps explain certain things in music. Not all things though! It’s definitely cultivated my ear for harmonies and scales and I find it often makes me want to make rather serious tunes. But you just hit a point, where you want do abandon all of that. I think we all had that moment when we hear something incredibly new and seemingly “original” and it‘s just intriguing. But most of the time, whether it’s jazz or an abstract masterpiece a la Aphex Twin the basic foundation still shines through.

Describe for us the similarities and differences between producing other artists, and working on your solo work as NoMBe.

It’s interesting, I think as a producer you often have to put ego aside and just focus on what makes the artist happy. It can be tough at times cause not everybody is as open to just experimenting or fully comprehend the many directions they could go in. Everybody has their vision you know. At the same time I don’t tend to obsess with minor details when producing someone else as much as I do with my own work, which often has me surprised over how quickly you can create something great. Letting things go and moving on to essential pieces of the track is important when working with others I feel. Needless to say you’re less likely to put in the same amount of hours into someone elses track as you would into your own, for better or worse.

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Tell us about the various adventures, and misadventures that have informed tracks like the west coast pheromones like “California Girls”, to the future lovers rock steez of, “Waves”.

Oh man I think I’ve had every scenario in the book as far as dating goes. Definitely had my heart broken a few times and returned the favor on occasions. Each song you mentioned actually does in a way represent a shift in the women I pursue. I always went for the wild, flaky ones, or should I say freaky ones? Those that would show up unannounced at 2 am or disappear for days doing drugs with a whole different crowd. It’s intriguing, but I never found drama to satisfy me. Once I went for the good girl everything got so much easier and I’m quite content now. “Waves” is actually about the promise of my girl taking me to Joshua Tree for my birthday, which is finally happening next month! Yeaaa!

What are you working on right now, solo wise, and collaboration wise?

Right now I’m finishing up the EP and scoring a feature which is a lot of fun! I’m constantly working with other artists. Might do an EP with some of my favorite MCs or put out these house tracks I’ve been working on with a friend. We’ll see. Got some surprises in the works though!

Other favorite artists and producers that we got to check out?

I’ve been following this guy Flako for several years now and he’s always continued to impress me. Gabriel Garcon-Montano really blew me away, of course, as did boots. Keep an ear out for my good friends Rush Davis, Mikey Mike and KP as their projects will be out of this world! I also was lucky enough to peep some of Gallant’s new tracks and I think it will hit really hard. This guy John Splithoff from NYC is doing some phenomenal work with Noise Club as well!

Insights and thoughts on the NoMBe style, and creative approach?

It’s really ever changing, I go through periods in which I gravitate towards certain instruments or sounds more, but generally the goal is writing interesting songs. Every single project varies in the approach I feel. Sometimes I begin with a vocal scrap or on the piano. Love writing with the guitar and I somehow find it easier to come up with concepts if a dope drum loop is already in place. I immediately associate rhythm with melodies and it’s easier from there on out! Production wise I just draw from my instincts, dragging samples, cutting loops, recording noise or room sounds. Nothing’s off limits.

Read the full feature here.

No Joy

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(No Joy, photographed by Maryanne Ventrice for Impose)

After catching the winding breeze that No Joy’s More Faithful will be available June 9 from Mexican Summer; we caught up with the band’s Jasamine White-Gluz, while basking in the newness of accepting the sea changes and strangeness of now – “Everything New”. The disconnection of former connections for new affinities are played out in a subdued melancholy that dreamily basks on the lessons of the past while pushing toward a present of ultra-shimmering of creating maximum bliss in a restrained mix that does the most with holding back the big guitar production guns. With our thoughts on the new No Joy album and single; Jasamine further described the inspirations and experiences that have informed their development in the following interview.

Tell us about working with Jorge Elbrecht on the album, More Faithful.

Jorge is essentially the fifth member of No Joy. He knows us really well as musicians and as people so he knows what to do to get a performance out of us. Going into this album, I really wanted him to push me as a vocalist and he did – to the point that I kind of started regretting asking. I was definitely pushed out of my comfort zone but always have total trust in Jorge.

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What was it like recording the album at Gary’s Electric, to mastering in Costa Rica at what we are told was an old farmhouse?

It was rainy season and we were totally isolated in this old house on a mountain in the jungle. There were a lot of stray dogs and one small lady that lived on the property named Rosa–other than that we never saw anyone. There were a couple hours first thing in the morning where you could get some sun and go outside, so that’s when we would try and explore the area a bit. But once it started raining we were all stuck inside in this makeshift studio we made and spent 12-15 hours a day mixing and doing overdubs.

What sorts of faith, or lack there of, lent credence to the title of, More Faithful?

We fought over an album title for months and More Faithful was just a combination of two of the many thousands of words we were tossing around. The title probably means something different to each of us but to me it was not about religion or beliefs. To me, More Faithful implied a newfound loyalty or dedication, whether to a project, a relationship, whatever. But it might reference Borat or something to the other members in the band, you’d have to ask them. nojoy-6946

What senses of newness, and urgency informed, “Everything New”?

Towards the end of our last tour cycle I saw a lot of relationships around me start to fall apart, including my own after nine years. A lot of my friends back home had moved away and moved on, and I found myself re-exploring what it meant to be alone and start over from scratch, for better or for worse.

No Joy’s summer post-release plans?

Celebrate my + Laura’s birthdays (same week), go to the water-slides, get a really good tan, date a famous person, tour some more.

No Joy’s More Faithful is available now from Mexican Summer. Read the full feature here.

Shark?

Furry, fuzzy, and the fury of Shark?, photographed throughout by Gustavo Ponce.

Furry, fuzzy, and the fury of Shark?, photographed throughout by Gustavo Ponce.

Continuing our obsession with the cult of Shark?, we are proud to help announce the Becky and Debbie EP, the Brooklyn band’s follow up to the album, Savior, and Summer Ale cassette from Old Flame Records. The crew of Kevin Diamond, Andy Kinsey, Andy Swerdlow and recent guitarist Jared Hiller (who stepped in permanently for Chris “Muggs” Mulligan) return with a sound that is louder, angrier, aggressive—yet conscious and aware, like amplified utterances caught in the earth and sky-quake of an electrical storm. Becky and Debbie trades, “California Grrls” for the dangerous, “Hate Crime Girl”, identity issues and existentialism on, “Wanna B Nothing”, taking on Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, to exploring the hate and love continuum on the brash and brutal, “Hangnail”.

On the debut of “Hangnail”, Shark? takes on the voice of a hardened misogynist angry at the world, taking his feelings of being ‘unloved’ out on the world. Kevin delivers the cautionary character’s tone in a grizzled sneer that couples the humor of the absurd, with the serious weight of hate. “You’ll never catch me, because I’m a slippery fish, I’m drinking Pepsi, I’m eating Cookie Crisp,” to the more intense warning shot aggression of, “I got a six pack, I got a bb gun, I got misogyny, I’m going to get shit done.” On “Hangnail”, Shark? stirs a vortex of maddened riffs, rocked by heavy doses of distortion to add to the heated element of depicting the anti-hero antagonist character that rails and rages at the song’s center core. All together, Shark? creates a dizzying experience to debunk the machismo angry-American male archetype into a satirical parody create on account of blind, pigheadedness. To learn more about the inspirations behind “Hangnail”, and the forthcoming Becky and Debbie EP; we had an opportunity to talk to Kevin Diamond of Shark? in our following interview.

Tell us about how Jared Hiller’s guitar work has impacted Shark?, filling the shoes of the the former chord ripper, Chris Mulligan.

Muggs was integral to the development of the Shark? sound — before he joined, we were just a sort of flimsy power-pop band with no real direction — but since he left and Jared stepped in, I think we’ve been able to define our sound in a way we never were able to before. Jared’s style is more focused, more specific, and just basically louder. Muggs could be gnarly, but Jared’s use of pedals has allowed us to add atmospherics, or just straight-up noise, in a way that we couldn’t before. The dude also invents and sells his own pedals, so he knows what he’s doing in that regard (check out L0-Rez Pedals, based out of the Silent Barn)

Tell us about how the style and sound of the band has developed, being harsher, angrier, grittier, louder, better, badder, and this more self-described ‘direct’ songwriting method that you all have adopted.

I think we’ve all decided to stop trying to write songs that sound like other bands, and to just write songs that sound like us. The addition of Jared is part of that, but also, myself, Andy Kinsey (bass) and Andy Swerdlow (drums) have been playing together now for over five years, and I think we just sort of trust each other in a way that is only possible when you’ve grown together the way we have. There’s no time for bullshit anymore, we just want to write songs that we like to listen to. I can honestly say this EP is the best music we’ve ever released, and it’s the only stuff of ours I can actually still listen to.

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How are Shark?’s songs written, practiced, fleshed out, and then recorded?

This has changed a lot too. In the past, the dynamic was simple — I would write and record demos and we’d play them together and sort of mold them into songs as a group. We’ve shifted a lot more to writing in the practice space, allowing everyone to throw ideas in the pot and see what rises to the top. Honestly the iPhone is the greatest thing to ever happen to band practice. You set that thing on voice memo, and you have a recording of every little idea anyone had while playing, then you can listen back and pick that one little hook out and start developing it into a great idea. Songs like “Swerdlow didn’t fix the Couch”, and, “Hate Crime Girl”, could not have been written without that aspect.

Describe more about the group’s dynamics in the song composition process.

We’re equal partners at this point. I think we all have different likes and dislikes, and we all get veto power, so it helps to filter out the shit. There was a song we were writing that Kinsey, Jared and I really loved, and Swerdlow couldn’t stand it. Turns out it reminded him too much of that song “Closing Time” by Semisonic and he has a complete and utter distaste for that song, so we abandoned it. Probably for the best.

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Give us the story on the making of the Becky and Debbie EP.

We did the best thing ever, which is spend two days at Gravesend Studios with Julian and Carlos (from Ava Luna). It’s hard to imagine making a Shark? record without them involved at this point. Every band in Brooklyn who is self-recording right now needs to get a couple hundred bucks together and give it to Julian and Carlos and tell them to make them sound good — it’s that simple.

We had six songs ready and decided, ‘fuck it, let’s record these, they sound good and they sound like us.’ We didn’t know if we’d record more and make it a full LP or what, but in the end, these songs together are exactly what this record should be. It’s a document of the new Shark? sound, and a hint of what’s to come.

Please tell us more about the things, stories, incidents, accidents, anecdotes, and what have yous about the scuzz city of, “Hangnail”, being about ‘the life of a woefully ignorant misogynist and the women he leaves behind.’

I wanted to write a song that was sort of tongue-in-cheek exploration of the Men’s Rights bullshit that you hear about on the internet all the time. I also sort of hate this new explosion of ‘garage rock” bands that just write about partying all the time and don’t have any substance to their songs. I won’t name names, but everyone can think of a band like that.

When we released “California Grrls” and it was on GTA V, we got a massive amount of YouTube followers and commenters and most of them are amazing, but some were basically like, ‘yeah, I fucking hate California girls too!’ and I realized, ‘oh shit, they don’t get the joke. It’s not about actually hating people.’ But it’s too difficult to worry about how your art is going to be interpreted, you just have to make it and people can decide for themselves what it means and you kind of have to be OK with that. So hopefully people get that when it comes to this song, but who knows.

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Other inspirational tales you can share that you have found that been informing your music, and lives lately?

There have been some relationship issues within the band, people splitting up, people finding new people, all that kind of jazz. I think it’s driven us all to focus on this band as something really positive that we can always turn to no matter what the rest of our lives are like at the moment. It’s really important to have that, for me. I have a good job and I have a good circle of friends, but I also need this band or I’ll go out of my mind. I just know that about myself.

I also really like Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Does that count?

What releases, new or old lately have blown your minds?

Viet Cong, Krill, Pile, Kendrick, and Jimmy Whispers. And Krill.

Also I bought the Nancy and Lee record (Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra) on vinyl recently and it’s the best thing ever.

What are you all looking forward to the most on your upcoming west coast trip?

In-N-Out burger, eight hour drives, drinking in the van before the show, being with my best friends for 10 days straight. Playing with LA Font. I’ve also never been to Montana before.

Other Brooklyn artists and bands that you think the world should hear now?

Every time I see Haybaby they’re better than the last time I saw them. And then of course Ava Luna, Big Ups, Baked. I’m really excited to be playing with Holy Tunic, Pill and Zula for our record release on May 9 at Palisades.

Shark?’s Becky and Debbie EP is available from Old Flame Records. Read the full feature here.

Yassou Benedict

Yassou Benedict, photographed by Odell Hussey.

Yassou Benedict, photographed by Odell Hussey.

Upstate New York by way of San Francisco’s Yassou Benedict premiered their single, “YoungBlood”, via new Oakland based label, OIM Records (Oaktown Indie Mayhem). The heartbeat electric haunted hymns lead by Lilie Bytheway, with James Jackson, A.J. Krumholz, Patrick Aguirre, and Theo Quimby also appears on the forthcoming comp, OIM: Vol 1, available June 23, providing a snapshot of Bay Area bands showcased by the budding imprint all produced by the label’s own, Jeff Saltzman. But now hold tight as Yassou Benedict brings about scenarios of late, late nights, and long, long walks for wild at heart lovers on the debut of, “YoungBlood”.

The band captures a psychic essence gleamed like the jumbled connections of telephone wires, cell phone towers that connect the lands, and states between their jump from the east coast to the west. “YoungBlood” finds the group of multi-instrumentalists channeling electrified assemblages of music making modules to convey the full personal experiences and recalled effects, and feelings felt during cryptic, and intimate moments passed. Yassou Benedict begins the song’s entrance into the aloof and elusive mist of night with Lilie’s setting of the scene by reciting the title with the heavy heart as she expresses, “young blood, pumping in my heart, in the parking lot, is all I got now…” A song of star crossed lovers makes an escape into the forest, attempting to outrun a hostile and weird world around them, heard in the mix’s emotive impressionism to further illustrate the action, and breathless experience of adventure. Synths are employed to lead the way through the plot of “YoungBlood” where things become more mysterious, as companions and former companions fade into the track’s pensive mood of overwhelmed and overexcited minds infatuated with ideas and concepts of new found affection. Yassou Benedict’s Lilie Bytheway joined us for an insightful view into the heart of “YoungBlood”, and more.

How did Yassou Benedict first begin, how did you all meet, and what’s the story behind the name?

All of the original members attended a small high school together in Upstate New York. We mostly bonded over Radiohead and singing together in chorus class. When I had the idea to start a band they were the only people that came to mind. We have changed lineups slightly since then, but the overall understanding and core concepts between members remains the same: to understand, utilize and maximize our responsibilities as artists and share that with as many people as possible.

The name came from a friend of ours who was living with us and at the same time entering into and struggling with adolescent psychosis. Part of that was creating a multitude of fictitious names for himself. One of them was Yassou Benedict.

How do you all go about writing, and fleshing out your songs?

A lot of the ideas for the new songs we are working on came from lying in bed late at night trying to sleep hovering between reality and dream. Whole songs would start playing in my head and If there was something I liked I would capture the beat, or melody as a voice memo and return to it in the morning. Overall we do not work from a formula. The more freedom there is the more likely you are to stumble upon something refreshing and instinctual, thus capturing your real emotion which will then be translated more clearly to the listener.

Give us the story on the specters and histories and more that haunt, “YoungBlood”.

“YoungBlood” is very haunted in that it comes from a true story of a very, very, long late night walk as a teenager to be with the person I was madly in love with. The rest can be filled in with your own relationship to the lyrics, tones, and textures. Nice use of specter, it is noted and appreciated.

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What do you all feel is the state of the Bay Area scenes?

I think it is a very under appreciated scene. We cross genres, age and inspirations effortlessly. If you are striving and making good art there is support for you without having to be labeled, or separated into a clique that reflects the product you are making. We all respect quality and intentions and are able to support that even if its not personally your favorite type of music or style. The ability to achieve this benefits all artists in the Bay Area and ultimately makes our products more defined and successful.

Favorite under-sung artists that you all want to give a shout out to?

All of the film and visual artists (Gary Yost, Amy Harrity, Peter Mcmccollough and more) who are donating a great deal of time, energy, and skill to the project we are currently working on. It is humbling and inspiring to have them believe in us enough to move beyond words and thought and into action. It is refreshing to be around people who wish to produce instead of only consuming, a problem that in my opinion is plaguing our generation.

Yassou Benedict’s single is available now from OIM Records, and the OIM: Vol 1 comp. Read the full feature here.

OIM Records

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Oaktown Indie Mayhem, aka OIM Records dropped their compilation, OIM: Vol 1 delivering everything new from the independent sectors and Oakland scenes. An imprint operated by booker/promoter Sarah Sexton, musician Angelica Tavella, and producer Jeff Saltzman (who produced everyone on the OIM comp, adding to a portfolio of recordng/producing/mixing works from Department of Eagles, The Kllers, Stephen Malkmus, etc); their label stands as further testament to the proliferation of arts that continue to flourish in the East Bay. With the compilation’s Yassou Benedict contribution still fresh in our mind, we had a roundtable conference with Angelica, Jeff, and Sarah to get know the new imprint a little bit better.

Tell us a bit about how the imprint, Oaktown Indie Mayhem (OIM) started out.

Sarah: Oaktown Indie Mayhem originally developed in 2009 as a platform for emerging artists of all mediums to present their art. Over the years, it morphed into a music booking and promotions company. Mostly because musicians were and still are searching for industry here. People who live in the bay, love the bay, and want to stay in the bay…so naturally they’re looking for an alternative to heading south to LA or NY to be able to make it as an artist. Thus, OIM was born, kicking ass and taking names in the bay area music scene ever since. Then last year, Jeff recorded Angelica’s totally delicious ep, under her moniker Nyx, and decided they wanted to keep going, so they invited me on board to do a compilation. By the end of the compilation, the music was so rad, we decided to turn it the whole project into a label.

Jeff: I was recording Angelica’s band Nyx and she was starting Oakland Drops Beats and knew lots of cool bands, so we thought it’d be fun to do a comp. Then Sarahappeared and took the bull by the horns.

Angelica: S and J covered it.

Struggles for indie imprints in the post-millennial age?

Sarah: I think that indie labels are seeing both sides of the coin these days. They are at once able to (nearly) compete with major labels due to digital distribution, marketing, and general accessibility by the public, that was once very limited. While simultaneously it can be difficult to not be drown out by the staggering amount of new music that is readily available and to some extent being shoved down peoples throats. We like to think that if the music is good, people will dig.

Jeff: It’s a lot less of a struggle than it used to be since distribution isn’t just limited to major labels anymore and spending money on radio, which is the other thing majors could offer, is pretty meaningless at this point. Basically indies have as good a shot as majors now.

Angelica: The biggest struggle is that it’s always a gamble, and always dependent on how innovative you can be. There’s no formula for indie labels, and between the huge influx of platforms for music consumption, the vast sea of new bands and music, yet the continuing influence of antiquated industry standards, it feels a bit like the Wild West.

Give us the scoop on the OIM: Vol 1 compilation, and how you went about selection who and what.

Sarah: Angelica and I spent some time compiling a wish list of artists from around the bay, mostly in Oakland, that we were both dazzled by, but also felt that reflected a solid faction of the scene here. Then we spent some time figuring out whom from that list would really work well with Jeff’s style as a producer, which narrowed it down a bit more. There also were other factors of course, such as schedule availability and interest in the project. A couple artists were simultaneously approached by bandcamp, who was working on an Oakland Compilation at the time as well, and so had already committed to that project. In the end, we felt like we came up with a solid lineup of artist that would really mesh well with our vision for the comp.

Jeff: Sarah and Angelica decided on the bands and arranged the recording sessions. We gave each band about 50 hours for each song, then got the songs to good mixers.

Jeff, what are a a few favorite anecdotes from your experiences involving some of the various artists you’ve mastered/mixed/produced/recorded etc?
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State of the Bay Area DIY culture?

Sarah: This is one of the most exciting parts, because although the Bay Area in general kills it for music and culture, Oakland specifically, is totally on fire right now. The town is in currently in its stage of evolution where there is so much raw talent that the artists just can’t even seem to contain themselves. Creativity is exploding in a way where you technical skill, unabashed zealousness, and wildly rough expression are all boiling over at once. Artists seem very interested in collaborating with one another and really pushing boundaries for the sake of art, and that is unbelievably rad.

Jeff: Ask Sera!

Angelica: Oakland has been a central hub of DIY culture for a long time, both in terms of political thought and in creativity and art, which I think right now is especially vibrant.

People get down with art for the sake of art. It’s created by the people, for the people, and that causes a creative reciprocity that makes being creative a fun thing that you can share and build with your collaborators. If people want to have a show or a cypher on the street, they’ll do it. And if people want to make their own funky line of close because the Sears closed down, they’ll do it. And you know you’re going to have a community that supports you in those endeavors.

Also, there’s generally not a lot of outside pressure (for now) that effects where the art and music scene is going, which leaves space for a really weird and funky (in the most positive sense) amalgamation of art.

And this thriving history of DIY culture in Oakland is where OIM Records comes in. We are a DIY label that are doing it because we want to support DIY artists.

Jeff, was wondering if you could share a few favorite anecdotes from your experiences involving some of the various artists you’ve mastered/mixed/produced/recorded etc?

Jeff: I was working on Angelica’s song one morning when the engineer and I were trashed from the night before. We didn’t bother to check where the mics were — turned out they were patched into a completely different room where another band was recording. So Angelica was playing but the mics were recording the other band instead. That band sounded so much cooler that we just used their song rather than her’s.

Angelica: Cool story, Jeff.

Ethics, codes, and secret histories of the OIM crew?

Sarah: Make rad music. Try to play nice. Never look back.

Jeff: Ethics?! No way.

Angelica: Get shit done. But make sure the shit that you’re doing is worth it, and is something you’re passionate about.

Don’t waste your time with people or music that are not completely raw and honest.

Don’t spill liquid containers in Jeff’s studio.

Read the full feature here.

Crown Larks

Cherishing the glowing orb with Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

Cherishing the glowing orb with Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

Chicago’s Crown Larks are keeping the free-form spirit of sound strong, presenting the world premiere of “Overgown”; the deep in the tall reeds and weeds thick of it that closes their forthcoming album, Blood Dancer. Following up 2013’s Catalytic Conversion EP, the early warning Blood Dancer has already grabbed attention from monstrous multi-suite blood visions on, “Blood Mirage”, while “Overgrown” takes its to the hilt via a three part movement of anchored psyched out jam sessions. Available from Space Lung / Land Breathing, and Already Dead Tapes; Lorraine Bailey, Jack Bouboushian, Bill Miller, Peter Gillette, Kevin Ohlau, Chris Boonenberg, and more contribute to an avante-garde melting pot that depicts what happens when musicians on the same wavelength fuse mind, energy, and talents together as a unified communal-like force. Jack, Lorraine, and Bill all shared some generous words with us that gives you an intricate and detailed look at how Crown Larks made Blood Dancer, “Overgrown”, and more in the following roundtable interview.

What’s the story behind how Crown Larks first formed, and the story behind the name?

Jack: “About 5 years ago, some old friends from Texas started a warehouse venue in Chicago called The Mopery. Before that, I really had no idea about the whole kaleidoscopic DIY thing, growing up in a small town in Texas and just having my records and instruments, a town where you can mostly just vandalize shit, set fires, do drugs, play football, leave, etc. as opposed to throw a show. I’d been in Chicago for school, then California, then just wandered around a lot, and music was always central but I wanted it to go from just fucking around by myself to something involved in that community. So finding Chicago’s DIY scene was inspiring as far as channeling that damaged, absurd, alien vibe into some sort of beacon for people to gather around and have a good time to build on. So Lorraine and I formed a band with our pal Mike on drums, later replaced by Bill and soon a lot of other people, usually four or five live. The solid lineup right now is us three and Linda on synths and keys, Lorraine’s moved to doing all the wind instruments live, but there’s always a lot of switching.”

Lorraine: The name was kind of a free association thing like the music can be, and it works with “lark” as either referring to play or a joke, but also the bird. I thought it had this golden colored sound without being too exultant or too specific… both words can be nouns or verbs, and looking at it on a page it’s not clear rhythmically how to read it. Bands always seem forced to choose between stone-faced seriousness and the “just kids eatin pizza” roles, so the indeterminacy of it plays with that too. And we liked how synced with Royal Trux and King Crimson, we’re in some kind of Venn diagram there…”

“Overgrown” is such a trippy jam, love how it turns into such a blossoming, pluming, sonic groove. How was this song made?

Jack: Three different parts…the start was originally this kinda mundane psych rock sort of bullshit thing, but then I saw the Chicago band Toupee play this amazing slow jam of theirs called “Cranial Walker” and got really excited about the two-chord exchange thing again. And my main thing used to be acoustic fingerstyle guitar, and Neil Young, that kind of poetry, so it came together. I feel like I’m still learning to write ‘songs,’ with this being one of the more song-y or introspective parts of the record.

The middle part has this meditative but ominous feel, and I love what we did with the flugelhorn and flute on there, just kind of directed improvisation with our friends/live-bandmates on those instruments… I tend to worry about sounding too sentimental, but in this case figured fuck it, it’s a nice moment, and felt it out in a different direction… Yusef Lateef or McCoy Tyner, stuff like that, was in my mind. Like, Yusef Lateef’s arrangement of the “Spartacus Love Theme” or “Fleurette Africaine” off Money Jungle… just beautiful stuff, I can never maintain it for long without throwing in some rougher noisy shit, but yeah.

We couldn’t decide where to take it, until one day we were just jamming with it super loud in the basement, and I got frustrated and just maxed out my amp, heavy feedback, and suddenly the magic happened: Lorraine started playing that cycling keys riff and Bill busted out this almost blast beat kind of drum thing, and then that heavy bass on the left hand and yeah, just felt … to tell you the truth, we considered scrapping that part because it felt a little… you know, the post-rocky crescendo/catharsis thing, but in the end I liked how it turn out explosive but still jagged, it’s a good exhale to end the record, which works best as a full record (doing it for Prince).

Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

Insights into the dynamics of song construction with Crown Larks?

Lorraine: Jack or I might show up with some basic ideas that we jam on together before kind of imprisoning them in a structure, but just as often it’s just playing together for hours, then listening back to those recordings and building stuff out of them. We never really want to subordinate everything to one writer or idea…we’re more about conjuring up an explosive, communal vibe and keeping some chaos in the mix. So we try to combine raw energy and noise with more intricate arrangements and interesting playing. And the rhythmic component is taking over more and more, bands like Cloud Becomes Your Hand or CAVE or Goat or Guerilla Toss that do the nonstandard-but-still-groovy thing… to combine that with some noise, some free jazz, some punk energy, all that kind of happens since it’s what we’re into.

Jack: The lyrics to me aren’t that abstract, I think they’re not really ‘stories’ so to speak, but there’s a kind of shifting between the immediate and the warped or surreal there. But yeah, spontaneity, communal writing, but not aimless noodling. Intense, but not taking yourself too seriously…trying to express the fun and energy and personal feel of a warehouse show. I like to hear bleak, grinding noise suddenly give way to ecstatic horn leads or whatever. I have this impossible dream that people might dance to some of the things we write. And our drummer Bill is, for me, the main attraction musically, all kinds of weird shit happening on drums on this record that I don’t want to song-write away.

Tell us about the making of Blood Dancer, anecdotes, etc.

Jack: Live tracking was great because we toured so much leading up to it, and we’re also a band that’s happy to have some random shit happen in the studio and try to catch lightning in a bottle instead of working it over note by note.

But beyond that, one long ass story really sums it up. We like to live-track the full band as much as we can, but I’ve always wanted to add a second percussionist, like that Horse Lords vibe, but haven’t yet. The studio had this beautiful set of congas out, so the plan was to live-track and then just record a bunch of congas here and there and work some of that in to a couple songs, I was dead set, our immortal vision could not live without congas.

So now it’s 1 AM, we’re tracking “Overgrown,” which is this 8-minute beast, almost get a perfect take, and Bill drops a stick with like 15 seconds to go. We don’t wanna cut and paste shit, so we decide to do another take. But the amp starts buzzing, ground loops, more ground loops, more bullshit, it’s near 4 AM by the time we finish, and the congas don’t get recorded, and they were on loan, so they disappear.

The congas haunted my dreams. I can’t forget the congas. We’re doing all this great shit in mixing, but all I’m thinking about is congas. I can’t afford congas, so I interrupt a mixing session to drag my drummer through rush hour traffic to buy congas (I threw in a super nice djembe for good measure) at Guitar Center on credit, hoping to exploit the 30-day no-questions-asked return policy. We take them to my engineer’s house, record like two hours of fucking around on them. Then I realize I can’t fit them back in my car. I don’t fucking know how I got them in there at Guitar Center, I just can’t get them back in. And we go on tour tomorrow, so I leave these three huge drums blocking up my engineer’s living room for weeks, you know, motivate him to want to do a good job for us.

Now I’m back from tour and my mom’s in town, so yeah let’s have some together time and return some congas. Trying to drive to Guitar Center, turns out it was Pride Parade in Chicago, which goes down the street Guitar Center is on. Stuck in traffic two hours, can’t reach the store. Now my van’s in the shop. Time’s ticking on my $1,000 non-investment. Finally get there on the thirtieth day, have to lie to the Guitar Center worker who’s been toiling away for 11 years listening to kids stumble through Korn songs while their parents look up the Satanism prevention website, get my fake money back.

We didn’t keep even one conga track. There are no congas on this record. Bill’s conga technique got better though.

Engineer’s summary: So all this happened because you just… saw some congas, right? So yeah, not that Kevin Shields perfectionism, just a kind of dogged stupidity and getting too caught up in it, stamina-over-talent style.

Chilling with Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

Chilling with Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

How has Chicago informed your sound?

Lorraine: It’s strange how the city’s beauty derives from its vibe as a grinding post-industrial hellhole. The clatter and din that bands like ONO and Toupee sculpt into amazing music is the sound of what it feels like to live in this place. So there’s this sea of decay, police, money, the million conflicted things people call gentrification — and this is the most racially segregated city you can find — and for me, wanting to give back to that and reach people naturally led to jamming with people more and getting a more stable project going. Chicago’s scene at its best is this orgy of noise, free jazz, and something like rock.

Jack: I think the record’s overall flow has this surreal disorienting quality, which is how I feel in Chicago, this harsh noisy squall with this sky that’s never really dark where you can still have a laugh or some moment of quiet or reflection and carve out a life.

And the music scene is doing that in this visceral and beautiful way…before/besides the DIY scene, the AACM is from here, and the music that came out of that and their whole idea of what music can be is so inspiring to me. This idea you can have this free individual blossoming and at the same time this ecstatic communal explosive thing in music, and then let that permeate your life. I feel like they pointed toward this third thing beyond what’s thought of as ‘art,’ and what as ‘politics,’ this realm where that explosiveness would produce real, visceral life and wash bullshit away. What’s best about Chicago is that you have these demigods like Muhal Richard Abrams, or Hamid Drake, or Phil Cohran doing their amazing thing, and then we have this killer noisy DIY scene.

Lorraine: Yeah and it would be amazing to see those things integrate and be aware of each other more. It’s always great to see heroes from those two worlds like Travis from ONO and Hamid Drake interact personally or musically, or a lot of the younger free jazz and noise guys who do band stuff too, Ryley Walker’s band is a great example.

The latest from Chicago?

Jack: Probably all these answers focus on music and personal stuff so much because it feels like Chicago’s a fucked place, that bleak landlocked post-industrial vibe permeates it, the mayor has sold off the whole social infrastructure, schools, etc. in favor of the most hard to believe bullshit cronyism. There’s this whole inferiority complex that the wealthy shot-callers feel with respect to New York, so you see things like… okay, what took 10 years in Williamsburg, some asshole in real estate goes and visits it and then takes the things he likes and builds them in Pilsen or Logan Square patchwork style. So it’s immediately not just wrong or unjust, it’s also ugly and boring and flat. Not to say you guys miss out on that in NYC, but here it’s just got that bullshit ‘we’re the city that works!’ put your head down sort of vibe.

But yeah, musically and culturally it thrives in spite of all that somehow. I think that our punk/outsider rock/noise/etc. scene is as good as any, and our free jazz scene is the best. It’s cool to see integration happening there, and a lot of great records. There’s also a safer spaces initiative about gender-inclusiveness, dealing with racism and sexism in DIY spaces, etc. And you see stuff like musicians working with Ceasefire, which I have to give credit to, because I’ve never seen an American city more segregated than Chicago, and the truth is that there’s a lot of complacency and bro-we-just-wanna-chill type shit in the music scene that also makes for boring music totally disconnected from where it’s at. Again, thinking about the consciousness of the AACM and good punk scenes for example, it’d be great to see that keep blossoming.

Favorite Chi-town artists/bands that you all feel the world needs to hear?

Jack: Hamid Drake, Toupee, Health&Beauty, Frank Rosaly, Columba Fasciata, El Is a Sound of Joy, Jason Stein, Mines.

Lorraine: Cool Memories, ONO, Videobug, Cool Memories, Wishgift, Natural Information Society, CAVE.

Bill: Mako Sica, Wei Zhongle/Rob Jacobs.

Crown Larks’ Blood Dancer will be available April 7 on CD and LP from Space Lung / Land Breathing, Already Dead Tapes on cassette, and digital via Bandcamp. Read the full feature here.

Colleagues

colleagues week in pop 1

We last caught up with Sweden’s Colleagues last year around the time of their “Tears” single, and now they return with the time, place, and space transporting single, “Somewhere”, off the forthcoming Visits EP available now from In Stereo Records. Their Swedish by Balearic ultra-pop tendencies become sharpened to sonic illustrations of restraint, and arrangements made in the primary concern to create an almost physical section of sound and synthesization sense of mood. The nu-gaze-ish keys loop like big festival stage heroes, where Colleagues constantly keep dense electric audio layers moving in congruent and simultaneously in-congruent additions of unexpected treatments at all times. Colleagues joined up with us for the following brief chat.

What have you all been up to since we last talked?

We slowly made it through a textbook northern winter depression, spending the few hours of sun buried in the studio makes life feel like never ending darkness…but you sip for air through the progress of the music and the occasional French cooking session…

What do you feel has advanced about your own approaches to production and track crafting?

We think that we’ve become more playful and at ease in the way we produce songs. Nothing’s an exact science and our projects tend to contain 100+ individual tracks before mix. Then an additional 10 after. We’ve also learned a lot from playing live and wanting to reproduce the sound of live instruments more than we’ve done before which is great since we’ve had a lot of fun doing it but it takes some time getting it right.

Give us the story on where and what inspired the synth-smooth serenity of “Somewhere”.

We spent a couple of weeks in the southern parts of Sweden in a beautiful area called Österlen. The idea was to write a lot of songs and being creative but most of the time we spent by the beach or on the front lawn of the cottage we lived in. However, one of the songs we did finish there was “Somewhere”, and it was one of those songs that just created itself out of the settings. When the song was half-finished we put it together with a video we filmed earlier during the day as a sort of postcard-ish thing and it just captured that week perfectly. The beginning of a long summer night when seemingly nothing can or will go wrong.

How has spring been treating you all?

Its been rather stressful — getting everything in order for the release etc. But you see the light in the tunnel and that brings hope. We all put a lot of love into this EP and its quite scary putting it all on display in broad daylight.

Best underground tracks out there right now?

Really like the vibe of the debut track “Her” by Cold Courage, sounds like something Jamie xx would like to do, but more lo fi. Japanese Wallpaper’s “Forces” swept me of my feet — the phrasing of the topline is gorgeous. And off course the guitars in “Zenith” by Ben Khan — bliss.

Colleagues’ Visits EP is available now from In Stereo Records. Read the full feature here.

Jordannah Elizabeth

jordannah elizabeth week in pop 3

Presenting a prayer for peace during these times of tumultuous tribulations, proclaiming the power of love, and penning psych spirituals in the name of cultural, and global human harmony — experimental r n’ b artist Jordannah Elizabeth premieres her lead single, “A Prayer For Black America” remixed by fellow San Franciscan, Al Lover. Found on her album A Rush, that follows her solo releases, Harvest Time, N. Charles Sessions, Bring to the Table EP, and more; Jordannah works through a pastiche network of alternative folk, hip hop, psych, and more to bring her own fervent style of gospel that comes from a universal place. And so as the 24 hour news hubs, and constant current event feeds continue to depict the hostile, and unfriendlier aspects of the world that we all share — Jordannah Elizabeth interrupts this broadcast to bring a message that returns us all to our own common ground, uplifts her community, with a shamanic mantra that edges on the ancient traditions of expression before the advent of documented inscriptions, and far before the imperial gentrification of language.

The debut of Jordannah’s “A Prayer For Black America” remixed by Al Lover moves the prayer chants along metaphysical moonbeams in a way that electrically illustrates the song’s own code. Elizabeth’s “Oh Lord” prayers call out for protections of the African American makes a humanist plea to “keep us safe,”, “keep us clean,” “keep us lean”, to hold down the foundation of community, and inspirational assistance to create a constant state of song. The power of Jordannah’s effective, and terse aphorisms are expanded into Al’s magnified, macroscopic sound frame that speaks to mind, body, and soul; stamping out and scaring away any semblance of injustice or pang of prejudice. The rhythm rides like a desert vision quest that has become a hallmark of Al Lover’s DJ sets at Austin Psych Fest, here applied to transcending and stomping down the barricades of hate, intolerance, and racism. In our recent conversation, Al expressed his gratitude in remixing “Prayer”, “[Jordannah]’s incredibly talented, and I think this song is incredibly relevant right now given the current racial climate.” read our following interview with Jordannah Elizabeth.

From your early days as the artist, Makeshivt Kity, to your solo recordings, Harvest Time, the Bring to the Table EP, to A Rush; how do you reflect upon your own creative narratives that have inspired and moved you over this expanse of time?

Well, I was 21 when Makeshivt Kity’s first EP, Los Angeles EP was recorded. I was very naive and hadn’t gone through a lot in my life. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about life, heartache, happiness, loss, poverty and success. When I write records, I think I just take a two or three year chunk of my life, reflect upon it and write the album based on my perspective of that period of time. A Rush is about the beginning of the end of a season of my life. The Los Angeles EP is about trying something new and failing, but still having hope. Bring to the Table was about loving people who didn’t quite know how to love themselves. I say all this in retrospect. Sometimes, I write themes and stories that don’t relate to me, but my albums are really about personal lessons that can be interpreted as general life lessons and experiences…I believe I am having a similar experience to all human beings on this Earth. I think this realm of reality has certain lessons that we’re all born here to learn. I think that lesson truly is the lesson of love.

What was the process like recording A Rush like for you?

It was probably the hardest album I’ve ever completed. I got very ill during the last couple of months of recording. I had gotten an infection in my inner cheek because of my wisdom tooth growing in wrong. I was in and out of the hospital and dentist, but still had to work, travel and play shows…it was very hard.

Another reason why recording the album was tough was because it took eight months to finish. My producers Breck (former: The Apes) and Steve Kille (Dead Meadow) are busy people. I usually record full albums in four to seven days because I work for months to craft songs and rehearse my session band to as close to perfection as I can get. We go into the studio tight and ready to roll. Or I’ll record all by myself in my bedroom, so I give myself a few weeks to complete the album and bang it out. This time, I had a trust Breck and we created A Rush over time. I also had to go down to L.A. from San Francisco to record with Steve. It was good for me because I really gave in to the process…

Utilizing your own experimental methods, how do you go about conceptualizing your songs?

With the most experimental JE albums like Harvest Time and N. Charles Sessions, I just had a lot of instruments at my disposal because I lived in band houses in Baltimore during that time. I could just run around the house and find a djembe, a toy harmonium, different guitars and shakers. I was able to make some far out bedroom recordings. It was pretty fun.

Bring to the Table was me wanting to do a nice folk album after making tripped out stuff for a couple of years. I covered Bob Dylan for a few weeks just to get back into practice and listened to a lot of Townes Van Zandt and Lightenin’ Hopkins…a lot of Etta James and then wrote original stuff when my folk/soul palette was wet again.

The lead off track, “A Prayer For Black America”, has a combination of vintage gospel groove met by a modern day spiritual sense that is very timely for a tumultuous era of civil, and racial upheavals. What were some of the prayers at work when composing and recording this song?

Well, I was kind of talking in African American slang, because the song is a prayer and a message for my community. Like cultural Morse code:

“Hold us down” — Hold down the fort. Keep our foundation in tact.

“Keep us safe”

“Keep us clean” — Keep us pure. Love us for who we are.

“Keep us lean” — Keep us looking good. Keep us healthy.

“Stay by our side every day and every night”

“Oh Lord”

“And help us sing” — help us continue to sing spirituals, gospel and soul music to keep up our moral and hope up.

Thoughts on the impact from Al Lover’s remix interpretation?

Oh, I call Al Lover’s remixes ‘shaman-psych.’ I like his style. It’s very different. I am familiar with his work because we have a lot of mutual friends, and colleagues in the neo-psych, and experimental hip hop music scenes. The experimental music world is very small. I just consider him an art brother of mine.

Other collaborations and recordings in the works you can tell us about?

Not right now. I’ve gotten a couple of whispers and calls to do singles and demos, but I won’t be dropping a solo full length album for a while.

Closing prayers and hopes for 2015, 2016, and so forth?

I pray that the power of love reveals itself to the world. I pray that we all learn that we are spirits encased in bodies and the fear and hatred this world teaches us are just challenges to teach us to dig deeper within ourselves to find the answer we’re looking for.

I believe hatred is a barrier in the obstacle course of the game of life to keep us from getting to love — the finish line.

I think if you want peace and happiness, be kind to others, help people who are less fortunate, make love (emotionally and physically) to your lovers/spouses and trust them. Spoil your parents with attention, play with your children and approach things that scare you with courage, tolerance and compassion.

Experience Jordannah Elizabeth’s A Rush via Soundcloud. Read the full feature here.

Voice Coils

Voice Coils (David Medina) week in pop

Voice Coils are something a Brooklyn phenomenon. An experimental supergroup, they are made up of Yukon and Roomruner’s Sam Garrett, Caley Monahon-Ward of Extra Life, Feast of the Epiphany, Kelly Moran of Cellular Chaos, Kevin Wunderlich of Epistasis, Couch Slut, Cameron Wisch of Porches., penning songs like, “You In a Place For a While By Yourself”, featuring vocals by the one and only, Mitski. Taken off their EP that follows up the In Sixths​/​Field and Border 7″ from Shatter Your Leaves; Voice Coils wrap up their respective worlds in an enchanted quilt of hypnotic, gnostic new pagan post-traditional works for NYC’s urban DIY hymnals.

The very start of “You In A Place For A While By Yourself” has Voice Coils placing you into a dramatic, atmospheric environment of great solitude. The individuality and solitary nature of the song’s stream of thoughts are performed with the utmost flighted urgency by Mitski, that she takes to with an acrobatic swiftness and diligence through the song’s unorthodox progression and note scale schemes. Having been a member of Voice Coils through late last year, the creative parallels between Mitski’s experimental work with the collective and her own solo work that changed everyone’s lives with 2014’s bury me at make out creek can be aptly heard in a connective congruence. The structural arrangement experimentation exercises that Caley, Cameron, Kelly, Kevin, Sam and company have designed are made within a planned methodology like the great classical legends. The regiments and construction tools utilized by icons of the past are fashioned to the present’s new movements of musical impressionism. Evidence of this can be heard and felt in Mitski’s own solo discography, and certainly is at work on a grand collaborative stage with a handful of Brooklyn’s current day gentry, and DIY pop guardians. Sam took the time to talk to us in the following insightful interview round.

From Yukon, Roomrunner, to Voice Coils—how do you describe your own evolutionary music progressions?

I feel extraordinarily overwhelmed by this question, but here are a few thoughts —

I was in Yukon for nearly six years and was exposed to music, people, and ideas that were greatly influential to my creative growth. During that time, I studied contemporary classical composition with Stuart Saunders Smith and Linda Dusman at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Both of these experiences formed a sort of composite education from which a project like Voice Coils could grow.

With Voice Coils, I consciously sought to merge my work as a composer with my experience as a guitarist to create a framework that explored certain artistic, intellectual, and emotional ideas.

The only creative contribution I think I had in Roomrunner was adjusting a chorus pedal, but I had a great time playing with them for the short period of time I was involved.

Give us some insights into Voice Coils ‘supergroup’ style dynamics that involve work with folks from Extra Life/Feast of the Epiphany (Caley Monahon-Ward), Cellular Chaos (Kelly Moran), Epistasis/Couch Slut (Kevin Wunderlich), Porches. (Cameron Wisch), etc. How do you all collaborate together?

While the term ‘supergroup’ is empowering, Voice Coils was certainly never conceived as anything of the sort. I was fortunate to meet the right people who supported and understood the artistic aesthetic, and who felt compelled to be involved as musicians and composers in their own right.

In realizing the music for a live setting, the process is not unlike the traditional approach to composition and performance — a piece is written and we learn it, making any necessary technical or creative changes along the way.

In production, Caley and I are the primary collaborators.

That Shatter Your Leaves single is like hypnotic, gnostic hymns, or something. Reflections on recording this 7″?

After composing “In Sixths” and “Field and Border” in the ether, I was introduced to Cameron Wisch through Tony Gedrich, and the three of us began working together. Following months of reaching out to vocalists and keyboardists, most — all — of who were already overextended or uninterested, our goal became to simply learn and record the music.

This trio version recorded with Caley Monahon-Ward and disbanded, while Caley and I began production on the record. Whereas a live iteration has certain practical limits, the production of a record theoretically does not, and through a variety of experiments, an assumed vernacular, and some obsessive, self-destructive form of ‘faith’, we developed an aesthetic framework for “In Sixths” and “Field and Border”, which in turn became the aesthetic framework for Voice Coils.

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Pretty floored by this Mitski collaboration on, “You In a Place For a While By Yourself”. How did you all strike up a creative bond? Her voice is like heaven on earth.

Caley had performed with Mitski – and coincidentally Kelly Moran – as part of a concert of chamber works by our friend Amy Mills, and reached out to her. She recorded the vocal parts for “In Sixths” and “Field and Border” after learning the music in two rehearsals and was part of Voice Coils until late last year.

Mitski is an enormously talented musician. I feel greatly indebted to her for her work in Voice Coils – she was integral in the realization of the project.

What’s next for Voice Coils?

We are nearly finished work on an EP, which will be released later this year on Shatter Your Leaves, and – maniacally – writing and rehearsing for a performance at Roulette on June 29.

Other NYC experimental artists & collectives we should know about?

To preface I am constantly discovering new artists and collectives here, so by no means is this list complete. Here are some artists, ensembles, and bands that come to mind at this moment — Darius Jones’ The Elizabeth-Caroline Unit, and his work The Oversoul Manual, Feast of the Epiphany, New Firmament, GABI, Liturgy, Mario Diaz de Leon, Oneirogen, Mivos Quartet, Psalm Zero, Seaven Teares, Travis Laplante, Battle Trance, Wet Ink Ensemble, Alex Mincek, Eric Wubbels…

The mantra/dao of Voice Coils?

There are many, but I think “Liberate tutame ex inferis” is the most appropriate.

Voice Coils new EP is available now from Shatter Your Leaves. Read the full feature here.

Web of Sunsets

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The ever wandering ways of dream journeyers Web of Sunsets are back, with the announcement of their Steel New Days EP available from End of Time Records, after their tour with Trampled By Turtles. Having recorded again at the Old Blackberry Way in MN, back in December 2014; Sarah Nienaber (also of Gospel Gossip, Is/Is) made the move to Portland late last year, while still working closely and collaboratively with bandmates Sara Bischoff and Chris Rose (both of Heavy Deeds) to create some new studio magic textures, recorded by Neil Weir. As Web of Sunsets have spoken to the soul on singles like “Fool’s Melodies“, and their Room of Monsters album; new days are met with reflections on what previous adventures have taught with an understated guitar galloping progression that seeks out the smoke signals sent by a far away melody that forever lingers in the background.

“Steel New Days” haunts in the ways that always had you in the grips of “Fool’s Melodies” from a few years back. Those days of driving across highways, boarder trails, and wandering to these haunted songs that contained the smoke of exhaled exhaust pipes, encased through the campfire classic tradition of song-making. The word play of new days stolen, and the heavy weights endured turn into the endearing ways that the cherished and complicated memories surface with in the web of our heart connected consciousnesses. The psychic Americana country haunts from old highways that lead to memories, hometowns, and former places now indistinguishable from the natural waves of redevelopment’s courses can be heard in every note, and sharp chord struck by the Webs with every iota of audio.

Web of Sunsets wrote us the following collectively about the nature of the new EP:

Steel New Days felt more like a studio project than previous albums, and the tape is more of it’s own thing as opposed to a representation of the live performance — some songs have parts/textures that don’t exist in the live show which is new for us. There was more distance between the three of us while making this group of songs but it still worked well to write and record the way we always have — one of us working on a song and bringing it to the other two to finish and fill out, and then recording with Neil Weir. Despite the distance in our lives, the music still comes with ease.

Steel New Days will be available April 28 from End of Time Records. Read the full feature here.

DTCV

DTCV, photographed by Robert Sobul.

DTCV, photographed by Robert Sobul.

DTCV’s Guylaine Vivarat, and James Greer (aliases Vivarock and Fiat Lux), premiered the NWR video for, “Radio Drive”, that takes you on a road trip vacation to Las Vegas. Found off their new album, Uptime!, available from Unsatisfied Records, and Lolipop Records; Guylaine and James continue to their free-spirit, righteous, rock and roll spree that follows Hilarious Heaven, singles comp The Early Year, However Strange, and other assorted projects of stage and screen. With a name properly pronounced, ‘detective;’ the Franco-American duo entertains a renaissance like a new millennial kind of nouvelle vague where the world and arts are enjoyed as if lived within a moving series of photographs, portraits, and pop art tales.

“Radio Drive” turns the dial around to a sound that treats the chord progressions from Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On” into a sub-genre of it’s own. DTCV’s James Greer keeps the that guitar rhythm riding on a frenzy of feedback and squalling chords to create the emulation of a fired up 12-cylinder engine block. Guylaine Vivarat serenades the joy ride that is “Radio Drive”, a generous contribution to the canon of ‘get up, and go places’ style of road warrior journey/tour songs. The NWR video features time elapsed footage of tunnels, freeways, performances, and idle moments put to different film speeds, and screen filter saturations. The destination for the highway hopping “Radio Drive” visual finds the DTCV duo enjoying the plush digs of Caesar’s Palace in Vegas, surrounded by all the fancy amenities, schmaltzy attractions, and water closet considerations courtesy of the finest sin city offers. Ultimately, “Radio Drive” is the reminder that 2015’s endless summer is still just around the corner, and DTCV provides you with a little vacation window in just two minutes and fourteen seconds time. Read our following interview with Guylaine and James.

Tell us some of your favorite moments in the making of Uptime! for Unsatisfied Records.

Guylaine: Having our friend Claire McKeown and her Honey Child choir come in to do vocals on “California Girl” was special. I was also very excited to record one of my favorite Clash songs, “Stay Free”, and learn the bass line. But mostly, recording songs we had never played before and hearing them come to life in the studio. That’s when I realized my song “Miley Cyrus Wins the Race” was actually good.

Jim: We like recording quickly and I think we finished basics and overdubs in four or five days. I thought the guitar sounds on this record were really good, and that I played a little better than usual. And Guylaine’s vocals are amazing. I’m in awe of the way she can layer harmonies, and just, you know, sing. Wish I could do that.

DTCV, photographed by Robert Sobul.

DTCV, photographed by Robert Sobul.

What are some of the keener happenings going on between Joshua Tree and LA these days that you all are fascinated by?

Jim: I saw a coachwhip snake a couple weeks ago.

Guylaine: We hide and complain about most of them but there are a couple events in the area that we are actually excited about. One of them is Deserted at the Palms on May 30. Good people, good bands, good times. Three very rare things these days.

“Radio Drive” sounds like an invigorating round trip cassette trip unto itself. What are some of touring, road trip tape, CD, mp3, album essentials for team DTCV?

Jim: I’ve been listening to Kendrick Lamar’s new record, which is brilliant. I like an Austin band called Spray Paint a lot. On the radio when we’re not on tour all you can really get on the drive from JT to LA is classic rock, which means I’m listening to a lot of Zeppelin, Stones, and The Who, which I think is obvious when you hear our music.

Guylaine: I would be stoked if people put it on their road trip mix! We listen to satellite radio a lot on tour, and also to records bands give us when we play with them. My current playlist includes Bouquet, Alvvays, Waxahatchee, Metz, Odd Future and Madlib’s entire discography.

DTCV's Guylaine Vivarat, photographed by Robert Sobul.

DTCV’s Guylaine Vivarat, photographed by Robert Sobul.

Summer plans for DTCV?

Guylaine: Record more stuff, make my own ginger beer, run around the Alps barefoot and hang out with the jack rabbits in Joshua Tree. Also Lolipop Records put out Uptime! on cassette and I think they’re going to release our tour documentary on VHS too, so I am excited about that.

Jim: We might play some shows in June, we might tour Europe in August and then in the fall we’re definitely going to tour the US a lot more. We just finished a US tour and — despite the fact I got pneumonia at the end — it was really fun. We had Ben from HEALTH playing drums with us and Michelle Vidal playing bass. I would love to tour with those guys again but I think HEALTH is going to be pretty busy for a while. So I guess: find a drummer?

DTCV’s new album, Uptime! is available now on multi-colored vinyl from Unsatisfied Records, on cassette and limited edition VHS Tape from Lolipop Records, along with a recent repressing of 2012’s double LP, Hilarious Heaven. Read the full feature here.

TheUse

the use week in pop 1

Michael Durek and TheUse play May 16 at NYC’s Nola, Darling with Collapsible Shoulder (featuring Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), diNMachine, with Black Saturn from Virginia bringing lo-fi verses. Embarking on a three week Europe tour afterwards, hear The Use twisting and warping around your conceptions of deconstructed electro pop radio, with the world premiere of their re-twerked remix of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball”.

The destructive forces of the weight swinging, exhibitionism original get cast into the abstract EDM veins of binary conformity-deformity concoctions. The doctored auto-tuned elements of Miley’s orginal are re-explored, and re-developed utilizing new treatments and digital filter trials that provide different octave /tone/note shifts and changes. The alterations treat the single and the ubiquitous video as a plain canvas for a cavalcade of creative fun, where Ms. Cyrus’s delivery is transformed into more of an electronically addled Rihanna style rendering.

Michael Durek wrote us the following on the about the remix, the upcoming show at Nola, Darling and Euro tour:

After the success of his Lumineers “Morning Song” Remix, theUse (Alrealon Musique) takes Miley’s Wrecking Ball and tears it to pieces. “I dug that track the first time I heard it, but always wanted to make it faster and a little more wicked, but still head-bobable” Durek writes. The idea was spawned by a “Bootleg Remix” sound-set that his fellow producer Isaac Cotec (aka Subaqueous) had asked him to try out. Durek used many of Cotec’s instruments when creating the remix.

What’s more – while Durek is no stranger to touring Europe ( having played there many times with the Pas Musique) it’ll be his first time going as theUse, sharing bills with X:Navi-et, Brandstifter, Diatopa, Inox Kapelle, Ghyp:See and many more.

In addition to theUse, it looks to be stellar lineup featuring diNMachine who is working on a new record, Chris Cochrane’s Collapsible Shoulder (feat Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Black Saturn, Visuals from Vj Mamiko Kushida (Japan) & Jim Tuite, and yellow baked goods from Lindsay.

Read the full feature here.

Field Mouse

Field Mouse's Rachel, Andrew, Saysha, Tim, photographed by Shervin Lainez.

Field Mouse’s Rachel, Andrew, Saysha, Tim, photographed by Shervin Lainez.

Fresh from their tour with Dads and Kevin Devine, and with yet a new upcoming tour with Hop Along; Brooklyn’s Field Mouse premiered their tour recap / music video for, “Everyone But You”, compiled together by the band during the downtime between their busy. Featuring live performance footage shot by Adam Wright and Andrew Futral; watch Rachel, Andrew, Saysha, Tim and friends enjoy the journeys on the road in the tour van, on the stages, crossing bridges, street boarding, dancing in hotel rooms, with their sound basked and casked by an array of lens filters, and time slipping frame-rate effects. Found off their 2014 Topshelf Recoords album, Hold Still Life; the songs conversations and thoughts about exclusion become an inclusive joyride with Field Mouse along the traveling road trails of merriment.

From the moment the music video for “Everyone But You” begins; you are immediately invited to jump in the van with Field Mouse’s Rachel Browne, Andrew Futral, Saysha Heinzman, and Tim McCoy for an endless spring adventure along the infinite intricacies of roads. Reels of footage from the highway is spliced between the fun between live performances and the down time explorations, to Rachel’s impromptu dance parties. As “Everyone But You” is the song for everyone that has felt like they were missing out on what everyone is in to, and whatever other items of envy, while Field Mouse make you feel like your their fifth member aboard their journey across mountains, sands, seas, and all the land in between. We had the pleasure of talking with both Field Mouse’s Rachel, and Andrew in the following interview round:

Loving the footage from the US tour with Kevin Devine and Dads in the time-touring video for, “Everyone But You”. Favorite anecdotes from that tour?

Rachel: My favorite thing about tour (other than the music part and the eating across America part) is meeting and laughing with different types of people everywhere. In southern California, people were genuinely shocked to hear that the temperature was in the negative 10º zone in another part of the country. In Little Rock, I said ‘it’s great to be here in Arkansas,’ and the audience unanimously laughed and said “uh, no”. It made me love Arkansas.

What are you all most excited about for your tour with Hop Along?

Rachel: I am excited to be completely emotionally devastated by a different lyric every night.

Might we expect a possible Field Mouse-Hop Along collabo supergroup perhaps?

Andrew: Both Rachel and Frances sang on a track by Lithuania on their forthcoming album, so there is that! We are longtime Hop Along fans so obviously a supergroup situation is dreamy.

Field Mouse's Rachel, Andrew, Saysha, Tim, photographed by Shervin Lainez.

Field Mouse’s Rachel, Andrew, Saysha, Tim, photographed by Shervin Lainez.

Essential tour items for Field Mouse?

Andrew: An extra banana or any item of food that you think you will want on a drive, but end up forgetting and not eating. The goal here is to have a strange smell in the van when you start driving int he morning, and a deep feeling of regret following the smell-discovery.

A self-auditing kit so that you can help remove all the extra body thetans that you take in while on tour. Look, let’s be honest – you’re never going to go clear while on a stressful tour, but thats no excuse not to be extra vigilant!

Reclaimed barn wood and Edison bulbs. We like having a rustic feel in the van!

A hornet’s nest. I am going to be honest. I don’t remember the thought process that led me to purchasing a whole nest of hornets, and it definitely ended up causing A LOT more problems than it solved. I think we each had one of those days where we were like, ‘why are we in a van with an incalculable amount of hornets?’ But at the end of the day, the tour was a huge success and the hornets were there on day one, so who am I to say they were not an important ingredient in that success?

Top five artists that you all are in love with right now?

Andrew: Speedy Ortiz is the best rock band in the world and their new album is unreal. We introduced Rachel’s little sister Zoë to kraut rock on this past tour and she said, ‘I didn’t know this kind of music had a name, but it’s my favorite.’ So, there was a lot of Can and Neu! We listened to the PUP sself-titled probably album more than anything else on this past tour because Timmy is in love with it. Rachel has been listening to that D’Angelo album since December. Also The Sidekicks.

Inspiring words to leave us with, hopes and wishes for the future?

Andrew: There is something that’s called “The Great Attractor” in our universe about 200 million light years away that is tens of thousands of times more massive than our entire Milky Way galaxy. We don’t know what it is but we can see it’s gravitational effect on nearby galaxies. In fact, it’s currently pulling our entire Milky Way galaxy (and all nearby galaxies) towards it at a staggering rate of 14 million miles per hour, and yet It’s still so far away that our entire solar system will have long since been destroyed by the time the atoms that once made up our bodies reach whatever it is. So we should all be happy because our collision course with nothingness will end sooner than our collision course with something potentially super spooky. Also, the Wet Hot American Summer series on Netflix will be out before either of those things happen!

Field Mouse’s album, Hold Still Life is available now from Topshelf Records. Read the full feature <“http://www.imposemagazine.com/bytes/chatter/week-in-pop-jerry-paper-bermuda-bonnie-boys-age-david-ellis-null-powwoww-cabana-my-body-field-mouse#field-mouse”>here.

powwowW

powwoww week in pop 1

Flashback to Oakland, 2011 for a moment with me if you will. The sub-genre prophecy of ‘witch house’ bequeathed by Pictureplane’s Travis Egedy saw the rise of the electro-eloquence of imprints such as Tri Angle Records, to Oakland’s Tundra Dubs, where we first discovered powwowW many moons ago. Presenting “Secret Black” off the Cleopatra Records Occult Box; the East Bay producer provides a helping of his latest dark cloaked electronic textiles for a dark globe. Featured on the box set’s first disc next to luminaries like Christian Death, Chrome, Joy Division to The Soft Moon; powwowW continues the subterranean conversations from his out put amongst the underground networks like Tundra, Berlin’s Phantasma Disques, Popgang Records, and so forth. The East Bay artist here attempts to mold sound into a clandestine, dark toned luster without a name.

Displaying an early knack for rhythm and percussive experiments, powwowW moves toward more of a soundtrack delivery on, “Secret Black”, where the true nature of colors are obfuscated by digital synth specters that hide any form of revelation. The opening drum samples stir a sparse spot as sustained keys slowly turn up, bringing along big, mood breaking synths that sound ripped from your favorite foreign cult suspense flick. From here the track plays out like a cinematic device for the ear and mind, as dramatic, and intense scenes of chases, stand-offs, and climactic sequences push the parabolic apex where all components of sensory are gripped to a standing attention. Enjoy our following interview with powwowW.

“What is the latest from POWWOWW, and what projects, works, and such do you have in the wings?

I am currently working on more new music. My last release was in January and and I am wanting to put out something new soon. Besides making music and the occasional gig here and there, a few close friends of mine and I are going to start throwing a monthly party in downtown Oakland called, NEW WORLD DYSORDER. I am going to be one of the resident DJs and I’ll be ‘spinning’ as DJ Blair Witch.

What sort of secrets were poured into the making of “Secret Black”?

Secrets like Laura Palmer.

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The latest from the Oakland subterranean undergrounds?

A lot of the events I go to or take part in are meant to be a safe space for people who are queer and they are very weird, chill and creative and fun. I especially like the space in downtown/Chinatown called B4BEL4B, and I like the TR4NC3_ MUT4T1(O)N5 events that are put on by my friend, Micah.

Thoughts on the state of the Oakland and Bay indie scenes?

There is a lot of good music coming from this side of the world. Lots of good live/hardware based techno projects out here. Those are my favorite.

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Local artists everyone should be listening to right now?

Ooo. Some of my favorites are Matrixxman, Worker/Parasite, All Your Sisters, Aja Vision, Metal Mother and WiToWMaKeR.

powwowW’s “Secret Black” can be found on the first disc of the upcoming, Occult Box, available May 14 from Cleopatra Records. Read the full feature <“http://www.imposemagazine.com/bytes/chatter/week-in-pop-jerry-paper-bermuda-bonnie-boys-age-david-ellis-null-powwoww-cabana-my-body-field-mouse#powwoww”>here.

My Body

my body week in pop 1

Meet Oregon by NYC’s My Body, the duo of Jordan Bagnall and Darren Bridenbeck premiered the single, “Explode Pt. 2”, a sparse electro ballad of autonomous devotions. One of the featured two bonus tracks off their May 5 slated Six Wives EP for Bug Hunt (an art collective/imprint from members of Typhoon), in conjunction with support from the indie family, Tender Loving Empire. Playing May 1 at Brooklyn’s Cameo Gallery, Jordan and Darren paint musical portraits that illustrate the over encompassing artifice of the self through the electronically expressed accompaniment synth, rhythm, and lyrics of life that comprise the embodiment of, My Body.

The debut of “Explode Pt. 2” starts with synth sequences beginning their marks, picking up rhythmic cues across pre-destined, and determined paths of hooks, and percussion passage ways. Reclaiming the power and conceptualization of the self, where shelter is taken in the clouds, in a song that stresses the necessity of individuality within the framework of even the most epic of couplings. Displaying a devout dedication to serving the self, as well (if not better) than others; “Explode Pt. 2” entertains the selfish and empathetic devotions with all the inherit desires and drives that go along with, while addictive spondees of synthesizers dot alliterative keyboard punches that stick to nervous system and mind. Jordan from My Body joined for a discussions session, immediately after the following listen.

Tell us about your jump from Oregon to NYC, and how you feel the northwest influences are meshing with the northeast scenes, sounds, and styles?

Moving from one coast to another was a very physical change, and our band and sound followed suit. We no longer have the space for a drumset and two other band members to practice in the basement with chickens running in the yard, our best friends living in the floors above us and our own apartment in the attic of a giant house. These days we’re more about streamlining our process and expanding our sound and live set despite space parameters. We’re more computer based in our production, we’re down to just the two of us live, and instead of band members we have projection screens and have created/ curated a whole visual thing to accompany each song.

How did you team up with Typhoon’s new imprint, and Tender Loving Empire label cohort, Bug Hunt?

The founding members of Typhoon have been our darling friends for a super long time, I actually met Tyler in math class as a Sophomore in Oregon and spent a couple of years in Typhoon, so when the opportunity arose to be part of their label it was just a lovely and natural choice.

Give us the scoop on what making the My Body Six Wives EP was like for you both.

Six Wives has taken a good amount of time, some of these songs I wrote when I was nineteen and twenty and have evolved over the years to be what they are now. Basically I didn’t know how to produce songs to the way that I needed them to sound, and had to learn that on my own.

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What did you both discover about your creative prowesses after the album was complete?

We discovered that we love to have a story to tie our project to; we’ve based all the tracks from the EP on Steven Millhauser’s short story Thirteen Wives, which also meshes in to our own experiences of love, and the way we act when we’re in love.

Excited for your upcoming May 1 gig at Cameo, what else do you two have in store?

We just got asked to play a fantastic festival/ summer camp in the Pocanos called Mosaic Fest, and I know we’re playing at home in Portland this summer which is always the most wonderful feeling thing.

Favorite Oregon and NYC artists right now?

Oregon is tough because we love everyone so very very much that it’s hard to make a short list. All I’m gonna say is look out for new Wild Ones tracks because they will make you feel some kind of way.

For New York, we love Celestial Shore, can’t get enough of Ava Luna, and are so down for lady producers Psychic Twin and Fielded.

Parting words of wisdom?

‘Proceed until apprehended!’ That’s what my mom says, and what her blog is called, and she’s the wisest person I know.

My Body’s Six WivesEP is available now from Bug Hunt / Tender Loving Empire. Read the full feature <“http://www.imposemagazine.com/bytes/chatter/week-in-pop-jerry-paper-bermuda-bonnie-boys-age-david-ellis-null-powwoww-cabana-my-body-field-mouse#my-body”>here.

Shodé Non

shode non week in pop 1

This spring brings us some of the new thinking persons electronic adventures, introducing NYC’s Shodé Non presenting the album, Swimmer’s Selects, to continue to the EDM/IDM conversations along to the next levels of discourse, and listening. Like an assembled pattern of stems that sound like sketches that are right at home with the experimental repertoire found at felte, and other risk taking electro Brooklyners— Shodé Non shines a lo-fi light on the routine measurements of the day to day, diced up a living day sophisto pop odyssey. Like the most beguiling, and vaguest of reactive response triggering music of the more avante variety; Swimmer’s Selects feels destined to be that album that thousands will have discovered by half a year’s time, where by then the denizens of mainstream radio may have already (no doubt)taken action on Shodé Non’s following sound cues.

Swimmer’s Selects begins with “Big Wish”, wading you gently into the atmospheric synth-o-sphere, and into the bright lit textile cleaners, “Laundromat”, unleashing an army of rhythms like the charging riot and rage of a washing machine that got fed too many soap suds. “Afternoon” kicks up a minimalist electro dance sensations to bask in the remaining remnants of daylight to, while “Second Banana” ponders the wonder of a second, generous dosing of potassium, as “Shy Annie” sounds like the pop foundations for music trends that have yet to full catch on, while “Crisis” furthers that cause toward something of a new forged tradition.

System and directories get redirected into the 404 purgatory on, “File Not Found”, where inklings of an electronic kind of identity can be heard creeping up on, “(I)Rediscover”, to the mind slowing, “Two Brothers”. New green worlds, and worlds of all kinds of colors emerge on the space area of, “Surface”, before “rooftop1ext” takes you out toward the ambient outdoor synth-sustain-sensations, leaving you with a rhythmic exercise in the frayed sides of fidelity definitions on, “222”. Get to know Shodé Non with our following candid interview.

Give us the tale on the genesis of Shodé Non.

Shodé Non is an alter ego created in 2010 to avoid talking about myself at parties. Last year I decided to record an album under that name attempting to move away from the quick, one-take lo-fi songs I was recording under the name Bone Glancer. The aforementioned album was lost until very recently and remains unheard. Swimmer’s Selects is a sort of realization of similarities between old and new ideas. It’s a compilation album bridging the gap between both projects featuring tracks both new and old, previously released and unreleased.

What sorts of spa jams, and electro health goth inclinations inspired Swimmer’s Selects?

Spending a lot of time in Jamaica, Queens gives a lot to work off of. Everything is so accidental and beautifully outdated there as opposed to Brooklyn where everything is intentional and bland. Also the compositions of Barry Leitch.

I love the title tracks to your electro vignettes, from the tersely titled “Laundromat”, the time concerned, “Afternoon”, the URL anxieties in IRL on, “File Not Found”, to the luxury suite of, “rooftop1ext”. What guides the titling process, that brings you to utilize a certain minimalism like titling the closing track, “222”?

The titles just come from the feelings that inspire the sounds. Things that may not come across in songs without lyrics, that or apathy. I don’t take myself seriously enough to give a thoughtful title to every mostly instrumental track.

The latest artists from the NYC undergrounds that you want to give a shout out to?

Donnie Marks, T.C. Masterson, Nice Knees, Nicholas Nicholas, boys

What’s next for Shodé Non?

A new album that was recorded in 2014 (I’ve been told it’s like Eno meets The Cure). Maybe some separate singles as well.

Where do you feel the future revolutions of sound are headed?

Things currently seem sterile or needless on the surface but there’s a lot going on right now. Endless pockets of stuff- some of it feels good.

Insights, and philosophies on the SN process, method, creative algorithms, etc?

I mostly improvise with sounds curated to specific feelings or memories. It’s very important for me to not over-think or plan too much. It’s also important to not let any conscious influences affect any one song too much.

Read the full feature here.

NИLL®

Null, aka Hayden Quinn, photographed by Mclean Stephenson.

Null, aka Hayden Quinn, photographed by Mclean Stephenson.

NИLL (sometimes spelled Null, other times NИLL®, otherwise known as Hayden Quinn) dropped the CGI screen-saver sleek sensations on the Oval-x “Oil Run” video, off the debut release, Almost EP available now from Acéphale / Siberia Records. Pastiches of deep dish lounge house affinities run into the nu-tek grooves where systems of governance can be heard at an idealistic clash put through sequences of synths and machines of rhythm, and an almost muted binary warfare. Check out our following insightful interview with Null.

Tell us about what the making of the Almost EP was like for you, and what you discovered about yourself, and your own abilities.

Making ‘Almost’ was a really rough time to be honest. I love making music so much, but I often get caught up in my own expectations of what my songs should be – and when they aren’t meeting those expectations there can be somewhat of a storm in my mind and my skin will start to crawl. I don’t like to use the term perfectionist to describe an artist, because an idea of artistic perfection is totally subjective, but with these songs, I wasn’t willing to accept anything less than my idea of perfect. I guess by facing these internal battles I learned that if I allow myself to endure some of the harder emotions that are a part of the creative process, you know, really acknowledge those feelings and allow them their space and time in my process, I can almost always achieve what I’m setting out to achieve.

How do you feel Oval-X’s video for “Oil Run” impacted the track?

Like everything that Oval-X have done for Almost, the video for Oil Run helps give the track context. I think the sounds that I work with can be hard for some people to accept, as a lot of them sit somewhat outside of what has been popular in dance music for the last five or so years. Electronica was a sort of a frowned upon term when it was last in high rotation for music press and listeners alike, so having a solid visual interpretation of my sound, represented in a future-conscious way, is super important.

The video and imagery created by Oval-X act as an access point for listeners having a hard time with those re-formatted themes. More importantly, they aid in portraying my message in a visually stunning and beautiful way. The accuracy of colour, shape, movement and aesthetic choices made by Cubex Godhand and Mobius Kline from Oval-X has been dead on target across all visual components of this project. Oil Run is yet another example of this audio/visual symbiosis.

[Editor’s note – Oval-X created an interactive website for the entire EP as well]

What are some of the keys to bridging the digital, electronic realm divide to the more bio based, human side of the electro-audio architecture experience?

I think it’s about literally pouring your soul into your work. There are club records that are so precise and so beautifully mixed and balanced, the sound design so immaculate that it listens like it was the end result of a Matrix training program. To get away from that – the choice to do so not necessarily being the ‘correct’ one – is about allowing your overall human imperfections, insecurities, irrationalities, etcetera to have a voice in your creative process. If you only use electronics and machines to make your music, it’s imperative that you let your emotions, both positive and negative, dictate how you communicate with and through those machines, that is if you are trying to bridge the divide… I am.

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Other like-minded artists that you feel are reshaping the future of sound?

Far be it from me to put words in other artists’ mouths, but people like Holly Herndon, Oneohtrix Point Never and TCF are all playing with a sound palette that resonates strongly with me, these artists are less dance floor focused than me, sure, but with regard to their melodic choices and respect for noise/audio collage work I think there is a lot there to use as a springboard for newer artists trying to have a futuristic voice and to propel electronica in a new direction. I also think break-beats need to be brought back into the larger conversation of electronic music, but that comes from my love of artists from past. I’d like break-beat drum sounds to be re-appropriated as a ‘futuristic’ sound though, and I believe they can be.

What can we expect from a future Null full-length?

I’ve been more willing to invoke my love of trance music on my follow-up album, which has been a lot of fun for me. I’m also being more conscious to push some of my more classically informed ideas further into the future, it’s about sharing what I love about previous generations of electronic music movements in a way that keeps pushing electronic music forward into the unknown. With any musical project I undertake, cohesiveness is key. Just like Almost, the album runs as an entire piece intended for listening from start to finish, it’s just nicer to have a longer format to work with this time.

At the crux of the album remains my love for sounds that strike a yearning nerve. I think I’m trying to encapsulate a great feeling of remorse in a lot of my music, that feeling of ‘oh, it’s too late, this is how it’s going to be from now on’, there’s a lot of that on the upcoming album.

NИLL’s Almost EP is available now from Acéphale / Siberia Records. Read the full feature here.

Small Wigs

small wigs week in pop 1

Fresh from the FIDLAR camp, the LA band introduced their new offshoot, Small Wigs, debuting the rollicking, mad hatter affair, “New Wig”, from the a-side of their Mock Records 7″. Featuring FIDLAR’s own Elvis Kuehn, Mikki Itzigsohn, Matt Zuk, with fellow FIDLAR bandmate and Elvis’s brother Max Kuehn on the drums; Small Wigs shy away from the big wig/big time/big top tents to make a loud sound that is instant, effective, intense, urgent, and hair raising all at the same time. It’s as if FIDLAR took a time machine back to the days when the rock n’ roll game was young, primordial, and a fashionable (and impressionable) blaring alternative to the classical concerns of mid-century mind sets, modes of manners, and modern decorum favored by aristocrats of the time.

Small Wigs flip their wigs, and turn over the card game tables with the coolest, freshest, new hair fad fetish around on “New Wig”. As FIDLAR relishes itself as the unapologetic slacker-core export of the west coast (hey, if not for So Cal we might not ever have had a Total Slacker); Small Wigs cares even less for any pretensions, or striving to be a big wig, or any careerist/corporate/marketing take over plot. “New Wig” is urgent, uncut, pure rock and roll at it’s finest. There is no time here for heralding celluloid and wax pressed heroes, as Small Wig’s Elvis and Mikki belt out the playful and colorful catchiness with nasal lyrical harmonies like, “baby why you freaking out, gonna make your hair fall out, get the money and you go downtown, red, yellow, pink, or brown, ’cause what you need is a brand new wig…” “New Wig” shakes the problems and stresses out of the system, sponsoring implementations of synthetic implants affixed to skull caps for the newest looks, prime for head banging to endless shred-fests, and showing off to the world a type of do that just screams—you. To understand Southern California’s own DIY self-appointed style council better, we had a chance to catch up with the Wigs’ Elvis and Mikki, in our following interview.

Describe the synergistic connection between the two of you that informs the music, style, and attitude of Small Wigs.

We have a long history together. Our taste in music and art is very similar and that helps the creative process flow smoothly. We can bounce ideas off each other without a filter, which is very important when writing together. This is the first thing we have collaborated on and it all came together relatively easily, without too much arguing and crying.

So first, how was Small Wigs formed?

Our friends Double Naught Spy Car were doing a monthly residency at a bar called Cafe NELA and they asked us if our band would play. We didn’t have a band together so we started one.

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Where does the name come from exactly?

Well we aren’t Big Wigs, baby.

In what ways do you feel like your work and influences from your main band, FIDLAR play a part in Small Wigs? Or is this like your sort of break from the world of FIDLAR, or something?

Side projects are good for your health.

Tell us about the super piano banging, “New Wig” single that you all recorded. What sorts of wig flipping scenarios and situations contributed to this song’s super fast paced inception?

“New Wig” is about needing something new in your life; a new hat to put on. The song was written in about an hour so I think there is a sense of urgency that comes out in the recording.

How do you two craft songs together?

An idea comes knocking at the door, we let it in, get it drunk, and send it home once it’s stayed too long.

What other Small Wigs recordings can you tell us about, that we need to hear?

The b-side “Hangdog” is a kick in the pants.

Who else should we be listening to, that you all think are really important right now?

Kevin Morby, Benjamin Booker, Wand, Shannon and the Clams, Natural Child, Jesus Sons, Sheer Mag.

More thoughts on the goals, mantras, and mission of Small Wigs?

WIG OUT!

Favorite type of wigs that you both would wear for fun, and fashion?

Definitely hat with dreads…or Mink Merkin.

Small Wigs’ New Wig 7″ is available in limited stocks of pink and black vinyl from Mock Records. Read the full feature here.

The Sandwitches

The return of San Francisco's The Sandwitches; featuring Heidi Alexander, Grace Cooper, Roxanne Brodeur, photographed here by Rachel Walther.

The return of San Francisco’s The Sandwitches; featuring Heidi Alexander, Grace Cooper, Roxanne Brodeur, photographed here by Rachel Walther.

Among all the various arrivals and departures of many artists, bands, and so forth in the Bay Area networks, and scenes; The Sandwitches have remained steadfast on the western coast front homestead with a special sort of sound that illuminates any parlor or prairie. Giving us the albums, How To Make Ambient Sadcake, Mrs. Jones’ Cookies, along with countless EPs and singles; Heidi Alexander (aka Pruno Truman, Fresh & Onlys), Grace Cooper, and Roxanne Brodeur Young return with a toast, and testament full of the timeless, transportive wizardry. As some of SF’s standard bearers that hold the key to the city, and the Bay’s gateway to the circuitry of ‘whose who’ musician connections—their upcoming album, Our Toast was recorded by the esteemed Kelley Stoltz, mastered by the always amazing Mikey Young, with a classic cocktailer album cover painted by Deirdre White. Available from Empty Cellar Records; listen as smoky saloon seances to departed feelings, new chances, fresh perspectives, and more abound, and the style signatures of vintage, modern deco, and tomorrow’s sincerest songs resound together in a codified ensemble.

On The Sandwitches’ “Play It Again Dick”, the harmonies from Heidi and Grace are set to Roxanne’s brick and mortar solid rhythm, that echo the bands best performances experienced downstairs in the underground of Cafe Du Nord, the modern classy brilliance of Bimbos 365, or the Barbary Coast style comforts of home at the Hotel Utah. In similar haunting ways found with the work of fellow cosmic folk voyagers like Web of Sunsets; The Sandwitches write music with a warmth that appeals to the rustic, and rudimentary forms of timeless expressions. The magic that exists on “Play It Again Dick” can be found in their live performances where a dive venue is suddenly classed up by their song, or a swanky night club can then seem like a DIY space, as their music transforms, and transfixes all who hear, and takes on an enchanted shape in any environment where their music is played—or performed. Catching up with The Sandwitches, and learning all about the making of their new album, Our Toast; enjoy our following roundtable interview with Grace, Heidi, and Roxanne.

What were the sessions with Kelley Stoltz like?

Grace: I remember drinking warm Aperol straight and laughing a lot. He was very open in the studio,he let us do our thing and made us very comfortable in his lovely home. I remember tacos.

Heidi: Awesome and slow. There was a lot of goofing around and a lot of television. We watched a lot of Storage Wars and took a lot of cat naps. It was also the virgin voyage for Kelley’s one inch tape machine and I think also a new board so we had the pleasure of getting to know the ins and out of some excellent but busted vintage gear. Electronics are weird. No one ever really understands.

Roxanne:Very comfortable and fun. He has a warm, light studio and Kelley is hilarious. I got to play his drums and sit around a lot. I was 2 months pregnant, so I also remember drinking a lot of tea and eating a lot of cookies.

There is forever a haunted SF vibe that runs through The Sandwitches catalog…how do you all go about creating this timeless, and yet out of time feeling?

Grace: Bad timing I guess.

Heidi: I don’t know.

Roxanne: It’s funny that the last interview mentioned something along those lines. I thought the music provoked a personal sentimentality because we rehearsed and played the songs together and shared so much time surrounded by these songs, but I get the feeling it’s not just me. That’s awesome.

the sandwitches week in pop 2

What were the toasts, and declarations that informed, Our Toast?

Grace: To the future and the past.

Heidi: I think mostly the end of our era and of a certain part of life for us. Also a toast to our under acknowledged ghost-bass player, Marc Dantona, who put out our first insisted that we add bass for the record, and that James Finch Jr. was the man for the job. We were completely ambivalent but as each new record came up we were always calling Jim, bossing him around, and underpaying him. He’s kind of the silent Sandwitch, and he’s our good friend. James has taken a lot of abuse, he’s a very resilient dude.

Roxanne: I remember the first discussion was in joking around before a show somewhere in LA. I was hoping we’d have a painting of a piece of toast somewhere on the album.

Latest local inspirations?

Grace: Depressor, Budlight cheladas from U&I liquor, and my best friend painter Michelle Guintu. She paints all the time, I admire her diligence.

Heidi: Bart Davenport, Useless Eaters, Bronze, Kelley Stoltz always.

Roxanne: music by Greg Ashley, embroidery by An Astrid Endeavor and Creations by Rainbow Kimono.

What have you all been listening to lately?

Grace: Strangulated Beatoffs, Elvis YouTube videos and self hypnosis YouTube videos.

Roxanne: S.E.Rogie, Hospitality.

Philosophies, theories, and mysticism of The Sandwitches?

Grace: Lighten up? Be thankful.

Roxanne: I like to keep it simple. Spending time with my husband, son, friends and family are my top priority along with being creative. If you are lucky enough to find what feeds your soul and have the time to pursue it and stay healthy, you’re doing alright. I just have to figure out the making money part…

The Sandwitches’ new album, Our Toast is available now from Empty Cellar Records. Read the full feature here.

Ducktails

Ducktails Matt Mondanile, photographed by Rob Kulisek.

Ducktails Matt Mondanile, photographed by Rob Kulisek.

Ducktails’ new album, St. Catherine is available now from Domino Records, and we got the new single from Matt Mondanile with, “Headbanging In The Mirror”. The sparkling sound of late mornings, and mid afternoon delights shine even brighter than witnessed on prior Ducktails offerings. Mondanile creates one the most relaxed summation of sounds that relates the joy of enjoying your favorite tunes in the comforts of your own abode, whilst banging your head in the company of your own personal mirror. Read our following interview session with Matt.

Tell us about the art of juggling Ducktails, along with Real Estate.

I get this question a lot. It’s just basically keeps me busy. I still have a lot of free time. I also run a record label called New Images. You should check out the releases on the label. I definitely drive around a lot and sometimes do absolutely nothing at all. it’s good for the brain.

For yourself, how do you describe and define your creative approaches to Ducktails, versus Real Estate, and do you feel that perhaps Real Estate has been informing the new Ducktails material?

Ducktails is me, it’s my creation. It’s my alter ego. It’s my pet concept project that is in my head, my fantasy band. Real Estate is a band of five people who all contribute to it. Ducktails is like the hobby store in your town where you can play Magic the Gathering.

There’s a real idyllic, pursuit of the perfect holiday type of sound that the new St. Catherine album seems to be striving for. What recent events, and fascinations have informed the new music?

I moved to Los Angeles. I had a really interesting time, I traveled all over the world and I met a lot of people. I had interesting experiences… I walked through many beautiful botanical gardens and listened to Debussy Poulenc, and Ravel. Classical music… I learned to play the piano again after forgetting how to… I had a lot of parties on my deck. I fell in love, and then out of love, and I bought a lot of recording gear.

What is the latest and greatest happening in Jersey these days?

My mom got a dog named Lucy, a puppy golden retriever. I haven’t met it yet because I moved to LA but I will soon.

What kinda of philosophies, wisdom, advice, and more have you learn and adopted for the fifth Ducktails release?

Don’t expect anything from anyone.

How do you also make such melodic, beautiful sounds, and then with playful, antithetical titles like, “Headbanging in the Mirror”?

I don’t know, I just love music and melodies, harmonies. I love jamming.

What are a few of your favorite songs that you like to headbang in the mirror to?

Arnold Turboust, “Adelaide”
Scotch, “Take Me Up”
Todd Terje, “Inspector Norse”
Kevin Shields, “City Girl”

Read the full feature here.

Flesh World

Flesh World's Jess Scott, Scott Moore, Guitardiane Anastasio, Andrew Luttrell, photographed by Alex Cruse.

Flesh World’s Jess Scott, Scott Moore, Guitardiane Anastasio, Andrew Luttrell, photographed by Alex Cruse.

We have been listening to the new single, “Poolside Boys“, from San Francisco’s Flesh World on a loop, and this week we were able to get a few words from Jess Scott (of Brilliant Colors), and Scott Moore (of Limp Wrist) on their newalbum, The Wild Animals in My Life. The Bay Area band creates a synthesis apart from their prior bands and projects, where “Waiting For My Man” fantasias are displayed through sound like a distorted multimedia art installation experience. Jess and Scott describe for us the following feelings, and inspirations behind “Poolside Boys”, as well as a few words, and hints on what to expect from the upcoming The Wild Animals In My Life album, available now from Iron Lung Records.

Scott:

While Poolside Boys was the last song written for the album, it conjures a feeling of beginning. The hazy sensation that washes over you as you surrender to vulnerability. The picture that you painted in your head being fully realized.

Jess:

My bit would basically be that more or less as well: I wrote the lyrics during a pretty intense period of painting work for an exhibition and it was a really sort of guttural envisage of what could be communicated to someone you admire.

What to expect? I guess it depends on if they’ve heard the other stuff in which case I think it’s like breaking that first record wide open, all the punk driving forces are still there, and still our bricks, but they’re now building this really much bigger space that feels a lot more courageous to us.

Read the full feature here.

Wing Dam

Human totem pole times with Wing Dam, photographed by Jesse Klompus.

Human totem pole times with Wing Dam, photographed by Jesse Klompus.

Introducing Baltimore’s Wing Dam, the trio of Austin Tally, Sara Autrey, and Abe Sanders who give us the world premiere listen to their forthcoming 7″ single, “House Boat”, that sails the waves and tides on a floating abode. Available now from Slow Knife (the first band on the imprint not from Chicago), the group’s Bandcamp, and through Dischord, as well; Wing Dam straps on a life vest, and drifts out with the ebbing retraction of the sea’s might to keep a home on the high seas afloat.

“House Boat” moves like a barge that leaves the comforts of being docked at the bay for self-actualization and solace that extends far beyond the land locked grids, populated places, and complicated people. Wing Dam sings in the spirit of untethered existence, where relationship stress tests are asked in the invitation for a life spent sailing at sea in a home perched atop the water’s ever expansive span of wavy surfaces. The trio harmonized out as far as the horizon can hear, or see as the feeling of being removed from the time clock punching world finds hands being untied to take on easy riding riffs that make the move for the greatest distances, in a ship that offers all the accouterments and amenities of track home comforts. Wing Dam has made the anthem for your next cruise liner adventure, sailboat soundtrack, or the perfect single to share with that one quirky friend who actually lives in a bonafide house boat. Read our interview with Wing Dam’s Abe, Austin, and Sara.

How did the three of you find each other, and what initiated the world of Wing Dam?

Abe: I moved in with Austin as we had a mutual friend in the living across the hospital up north in Bmore. We bonded quickly over music, herb, doing dishes and frying eggs. Started jamming on riffs and spliffs. Appropriated some old Wing Dam with drums/made an LP with Which Magic. Sara eventually came in on the bass/keys/ bass. Sara was side swiped by a vehicle breaking her arm forcing her to play keys for a bit.

Sara: Austin and Abe lived in a house I had just moved out of, and Austin and I were chillin’ on the regula’. They started jamming and since I was around being awesome and looking good they asked me to jump in and do some shit instead of sit around looking amazing. I already played guitar (see: Which Magic, Bitch Cave) so learning bass was mad easy. Then, yeah, some buttmunch swiped me off my bike, and I broke my arm so I played bass-y keys for a little bit in the beginning. We all vibed pretty dopely.

Austin: I’d gotten tired of playing as a solo musician, looping tons of stuff live – I missed the rock bands I used to be in back in school. The energy of playing together, that loudness you can only get from cymbals. Going deaf together. And I’ve always thought that, like De La Soul says, three is the magic number. Three-piece bands have all they need. Nothing unnecessary. Sara and Abe and I all worked together so well from the start; it just made sense. Everyone brought something to the table.

What does the name come from?

Sara: Ask Austin.

Austin: A wing dam is a type of dam on a river. I grew up near the Delaware River, in New Hope Pennsylvania, and the wing dam there was the place everyone went to hang out with beers or weed and get chased by the cops or just vibe on nature. When the level of the river rose it just barely covered the dam, and you could walk halfway across the river on the water. (I’ve attached a picture of the particular wing dam in question)

wing dam week in pop 5

Give us the story on recording “House Boat”, and “All For”, and what inspired these righteous assemblies of striking riffs?

Abe: I was presented with some riffs and we all worked to create the full songs.

Sara: “All For” is about our awesome month-long nationwide tourcation that Wing Dam did last summer. Dude I swear a tour can make or break a band, and we got so close and tight…(insert joke)….we really got to know each other a million times deeper because we were basically in a three way 24/7 relationship for five weeks straight. Anyways the song’s about losing boundaries and making it through some fun shit and some tough shit. “House Boat” is about this one time I got really excited about getting a houseboat (never did, never will) and Austin wrote a song about it…I think…Austin? Am I right?

Austin: Yeah, we were getting bummed on the rent and looking around for new living situations but not seeing anything. I mentioned that I’d always had a dream of living on a boat at one point in my life, and so Sara and I started looking at how much houseboats cost (not that much) and how much they cost to maintain (a crazy amount). The idea is there though. Feels like it’d be further from the grid to be living “off the land.” Who knows — one day I may end up on one, skin like leather, and all full of daiquiris, and Jimmy Buffet lyrics.

As for the recording process, we are all real psyched on how well Chester Gwazda wizarded these two songs into creation. We tracked instruments (although we usually record live), because it’s just his way of doing things. So we put everything in his hands and just threw down the parts. The chemistry of the three-piece band was still there, but now he had more control of the mix. And then he just slayed it.

Thoughts on the Baltimore scenes, and how perhaps the recent upheaval of events have affected the various communities, and how the aftermath has been treating everyone?

Abe: Scenes are beautiful. Wish I carried a camera around and was willing to shoot what I saw without the lazy eye syndrome. My community is enraged, confused, and starved of understanding. Many efforts went into the days after schools were closed to provide kids with a place to go for the day and learn as if it were a regular school day. They weren’t regular school days. Military state isn’t always so in your face.

Sara: Baltimore’s amazing. Everyone’s got each others backs all the time no matter the band no matter the scene no matter the whatever. The upheavals and uprisings and unrests have made everyone more aware and empathic I think. On top of that tons of people have pulled together to have benefits, and cleanups, and talks, and marches, and everything ever that makes a difference. We got this. I think we’re setting an example in tons of arenas right now.

Austin: I hope the city will become an example of change in the future — especially in terms of the relationship between the police and the public. We have the whole country looking at us now. Baltimore is a beautiful place full of strong people, and there has been a lot of effort to band together in the face of everything that has happened. We played a benefit show on Wednesday where all proceeds went to a fund set up by the Baltimore Community Foundation, to come to the aid of small business owners whose shops were destroyed in the looting, and more. Recently our homies Future Islands just auctioned off some neat stuff to benefit the same fund.

Meditations and posi-thoughts, hopes for brighter futures?

Abe: Haven’t popped a bike tire in three days (very big deal). Haven’t smoked a cigarette in a week and a half (very big deal). Been eating salads. Pushing on up. Planking in out. Work needs to pick up, and everything is gravy.

Sara: I don’t have the attention span for meditations but I just pulled my amp up to my sparkling princess palace, so I’ll play more guitar and write some new really realness. That’s as close to meditation as I’ll ever get besides fantasizing about sex in hot yoga. I also quit smoking! Haven’t had a drinky drink in 15 days (not for long though mwahahaha). I’m getting a puppy soon, and I hope that my puppy and I brighten the futures of many!

Wing Dam's Sara Autrey, photographed by Josephine Moore.

Wing Dam’s Sara Autrey, photographed by Josephine Moore.

Austin: There’s always hope for a bright future. Shades on. SPF Infinity.

Further insights into the ethos and mantras of Wing Dam?

Abe: What’s a Wing Dam mantra? Shit, what the fuck is an etho?

Sara: Dinnnnggggg, waaaaammmmms, wiiiiiiinnnnng, dinnnnnnngssss, wiiiiinnnnnggggg, niiiiiiiiiggggght!

Austin: As I lay me down to shred
I pray for strength to bang my head
and then to dive from off the stage
I pray to never act my age

What to expect next from Wing Dam?

Abe: Music.

Sara: More T&A, twerking, touring, glitter guns, SICK fucking jams to be recorded, and DEFINITELY a new music video featuring yours truly setting things on fire hopefully.

Austin: Yeah! Summer tour in July, national tour in the early fall, new songs. We’re getting pretty close to having another album’s worth of new material, so look out. Things are getting heavy. Hopefully Abe will get a headset mic for all the banter he’s been cooking up.

Wing Dam’s 7″ single is available now via Slow Knife, Bandcamp, and Dischord. Read the whole feature here.

Swiftumz

swiftumz week in pop 1

Bay Area local idol Swiftumz, aka Chris McVicker has been known to play with many of the local musician luminaries (too many to name drop), who released his new album, Everybody Loves Chris, from Melters. Premiering the Vincent Martini directed and Taylor Landesman edited video for “Taste The Gray”; get ready to enjoy a wild time rambling about the casinos, bars, and schmaltzy hotels of Reno with one of indie pop’s finest heroes. Swiftumz brings his own meek vocal delivery, heaps of fuzz guitar from the Bay Area shores to the bright lights, gaudy carpet designs, and neon allure of Reno’s illustrious array of tourist traps aplenty. And as “Taste the Gray” brings a scuzzy humbled touch of gentle human reflections to the wild, zoo world of drunken out-of-towners, games of chance, and bar room breathalyzer machines.

Start the adventure with Swiftumz on “Taste the Gray” that provides the guideline for feeling alright all the time. Vincent Martini uses the wide angle lens on his camera to captured all the excitement of Chris enjoying NCAA tourneys, hotel room hangouts, back steps sneak-a-tokes, epic beer pong matches, all the liquid consumption, and plenty of oddball, intoxicated tourists. The Swiftumz song brings slices of genuine feelings, and observation about life placed in the strange settings of capitalist depravity, and barflies, that exist in a world of lights, and rigged skill games where the house always wins. The savage heart to the American dollar sign dream finds Swiftumz in chill, ecstatic modes that are edited with the odd lighting arrangements, displays, curious couples, and trashed gambling denizens strutting their stiff necked stuff on the dance floor. Amid the chaos of all the surroundings, Swiftumz provides a kind of anchored reality of familiarity, that faces the strangeness, and pseudo-surreal with a smile, and an electric, echo-laden rock ballad to go with. Chris was cool enough to catch up with us to talk about the new album, and more.

What did you learn about yourself, and what kind of life discoveries were made during the making of Everybody Loves Chris?

I felt more urgency to get this record out for some reason, I learned a lot about communicating ideas with different people. Some people it’s like you are reading each others mind, other people you really need to explain, and show them what you want. Some or parts of these songs were conceived years ago so different songs point to different micro periods of my life.

Tell us the unseen and until stories of making the video, “Taste the Gray”.

Vinnie Martini directed the video, Taylor edited the video back in NYC. Ha ha ha, my friend Vinnie was visiting from New York so we had an idea to take a weekend trip, and make a video. We were originally going to go to LA, but Reno sounded easier.

In addition to the fact that regardless of where we went I was gonna want to watch the NCAA tournament the whole weekend anyway. Honestly there was not too much debauchery we were stoned the whole time the packs of goateed males were freaking us out. We got called morons, which was awesome. An underused word. We ended up watching hoops in the hotel suite until nighttime, cracking jokes, telling stories, and ordering lots of room service.

What is the attraction for artists, and non-artists and the allure of gambling town Americana a la the Reno and Vegas obsessions, and indulgence of ultra-American hedonism and financial abandon?

Well there’s a couple things that are legal there that aren’t here , but I don’t really wanna fuck a prostitute…I probably can’t afford it anyway. Gambling is cool I kinda understand it, and can play black jack alright, but I don’t really find Reno/Vegas that relaxing or interesting. You’re being watched everywhere even more than you are here, and there are roving packs of lunatic drunk tourists that I’m trying not to make eye contact with, or interact with in anyway. At least I know how to treat service people well, and tip correctly so the bartenders and staff always love me. I think SF or any big city has more opportunities for genuine hedonism than a place like Vegas or Reno. Don’t get me wrong though, I can have a good time anywhere, and have always managed to in Nevada.

What have you found inspires your own kind of stream of observation thought lyrics, and ever evolving sounds?

I like to keep things simple, maybe build on classic lyric cliches that have always worked. I like to make things even timed and rhyme. Poetry for dummies. Sometimes I’ll have one good line and the rest will write itself. And most important is the hook! Everything else is just filler. Trying to get into more storytelling type stuff but that more like actually “writing” so I’m taking my time to get it right.

Apart from the Warriors making the Western Conference Finals, what else, and who continues to keep you believing in the Bay?

I love the Bay’s area (there’s actually seven bays). Growing up in the west delta, Sometimes I feel more comfortable in Vallejo or Fairfield than I am in a hip or elite part of SF or Oakland. I like knowing my way around this whole area from Sacramento to San Jose and knowing cool stuff to do in most outposts of the bay I’m kinda treading water in SF cuz ifmy rent control ever runs out I’m not gonna get to live here anymore…but as for now this city still rules, I know my spots and I have an amazing group of close friends here that are family to me.

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Top five favorite Bay Area artists right now?

Janelle Hessig, Brian Walters, Mel Buford, Liz Thayer, Jess Scott

Top five favorite artists not from the Bay?

Michael Coomers, Dawn Frasch, Jesus and Mary Chain, Teenage Fanclub, Bob Dylan.

I have always found their to be an interesting intersection of personal intimacy and humor in your music, and wondered how you are able to tap into your inner tunesmith?

I used to write a lot of funny songs and one day something clicked and it felt good to express emotions in songs about having my heart broken or feeling hopeless and lonely. I mean The main thing daily is you gotta keep laughing and not think about shit too much. I can be really funny but I’m pretty sure I used to be a lot funnier maybe ten years ago. As you get older all your humor starts to turn into a jaded rant. I’m thankful to have a few hilarious friends that get my fucked up sense of humor.

As someone who has collaborated with so many artists…who do you think you’ll collaborate with next?

Anyone with mutual interest and time!

Preview of Swiftumz best summer ever?

Fly to NYC to see the entourage movie opening day with Vinnie, then fly back to LA the same day to see it with all my girlfriends who moved down there. Then I would give my mom a million dollars, and rent Disneyland for the weekend for my nephews and nieces. The rest of the summer maybe just chill and listen to tunes watch dumb movies and laugh a lot. I’d trade it all though if Tony Molina would text me back once in a while.

The new Swiftumz album, Everybody Loves Chris is available now from Melters. Read the whole feature here.

Qual

Qual's William Maybelline (of Lebanon Hanover), photographed by Isolde Woudstra.

Qual’s William Maybelline (of Lebanon Hanover), photographed by Isolde Woudstra.

The forward thinking nu-industrial minds at Avant! Records have given us Hot Guts, the dark cloaked EBM of Phase Fatale, Dream Affair, Scorpion Volente, and more; we are pleased to introduce “Desolate Discotheque” from Qual. Taken off the off the Avant! album, Sable; Qual’s William Maybelline trades in his vocal work from Lebanon Hanover for a dour, delve into the deep internal citadels of despair, and dark towers that provide different levels and tiers of electro decayed dance floors. William takes his musical perspectives down to the bottomless caverns of multi-floored basements without end, and damned ziggurats that rise up with an infinity reach toward an empty heaven.

Vitriol and chaos conquers all in William Maybelline’s world of Qual, where the “Desolate Discotheque” feels likes a haunted house dark right through an enchanted mansion of many ballrooms. Drawing upon grimy times experience by his Northeast UK upbringing, Qual exchanges guitars for synths, and unforgiving drum machines that hurdle you through what feels like an urban exploration mission through one abandoned night club quarters, and into the next. Every striking notes reverberates the feeling of abandonment that matches Maybelline’s brooding vocal presence that relays an isolation found throughout the ages, prior to the host of conceptual ‘dark wave’ micro-genres. The rendering of destitution, and ominous key arrangements provides the perfect framing for Qual’s Mephistophelean demeanor, that begs for an over the top visualized counter part. Check out our following chat with William Maybelline.

From Lebanon Hanover to Qual: tell us about the catharsis you have found with this solo project.

Lebanon Hanover is a lot more delicate roughly speaking based on sensuality, sensitivity and sensibility, a lot of S’s there. Our manner of music we treat with elegance. Using a variety of instruments.

On my side I have a burning desire to always be overly somber, if you have heard Lebanon Hanover it is not just what we are about, the band is broader than just being dark. Having said that I also consider Larissa to be enchantingly nebulous. But what I mostly wanted to channel was ultimate darkness, and so I had the plan to make a dark solo album. I also specifically did not want guitar in the mix. Lyrically I also differ from Lebanon Hanover as I tend to be more vitriol and chaotic.

It is important to not connect the two, as what I am doing is something else. Along with a different mind frame and ideas. I consider Lebanon Hanover and Qual separate entities, and I shall keep it this way.

What sorts of destitution and desolation informed the heavy electro environs of “Desolate Discotheque”?

I have a friend in Athens with a disco for a living room, mixing facts with exaggeration I started to fantasize.

qual week in pop 2

How do you go about channeling sorrow, and cry for help arts into real, tangible audio?

I’ve lived through a lot of grim times growing up in the north east of UK, I mostly just be myself, tell it like it is and connect with the chords that speak like they’re suffering. Until their screams become twined with mine.

Qual’s album Sable is available now from Avant! Records. Read the whole feature here.

L.A. Girlfriend

L.A. Girlfriend's Sydney Banta, photographed by Trevor Banta.

L.A. Girlfriend’s Sydney Banta, photographed by Trevor Banta.

L.A. Girlfriend, fronted by Sydney Banta returned last year with the Varsity EP, a triumphant statement about the pains, and persistence of getting back up after a break-up as the reigning champion. Moving from 2013’s Viva to a conceptual Love Story in Three Parts; Banta has struck a signature sound and style that cuts the listener to the core with songs of relatable situations with a brutal sincerity that chronicles the vulnerable expressions of the heart’s genuine responses to life events. Following up our insightful discussion from last year, it is our pleasure and privilege to premiere L.A. Girlfriend’s video for, “Runner”, directed by Maegan Houang. Based on a concept developed by Sydney and her brother Trevor Banta, the strength and commitment to the self is presented as a cause far more noble than a thousand the hyped-up lucre of Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Maegan’s video for “Runner” opens dramatically with Sydney approaching the spotlight of the ring, replete with an added symphonic intro not heard on the EP. “Sometimes a little string section is all you need,” Sydney remarked to us during our discussions (featured in full following the video), where the cinematic overture initiates the video where we see our heroine get knocked out in bloody title bout. A Rocky-like story on how to pick yourself up after suffering and sustaining the aches of defeat is taken to task in full training mode. We see the recuperation, bandages, and physical therapy while the lyrics reflect on the good, the bad, the sad, and the interpersonal guarded areas. Sydney gets help from her trainers through processes of balancing acts, lugging a tire tied to her waist, jogging about the parks and dry Southern California canals, exercises in striking water, and more to prepare her for the main event. The big climactic punch-out moment happens after the tests of trials, and errors are observed, and provide an even heavier emotional weight to the cryptic complications heard in the tear jerking ruminations on “Runner” with, “when I first met you; I recognized it, but I won’t tell you that, when I first met you; I realized it, but I won’t tell you that, when I first met you; I fell and slipped up, but I won’t tell you that, when I first met you; it was good luck, but I won’t tell you that…” Refusing to be bound by the past, and defending the L.A. Girlfriend title; we had an opportunity to look forward with Sydney Banta in the following interview session discussing the forthcoming album, Neon Grey, the making of the video, and more.

Tell us about how you and your brother Trevor conceptualize the prize fighting video for “Runner”.

Whenever I have an idea for a video, I like to talk it out. Most of the time, I’ll discuss it with my brother because he has a tremendous gift for creative storytelling. Over the course of our conversations, he has mentioned Rocky about five times, but the song never seemed to fit the theme quite right. Naturally when Varsity was released and videos were in talks, Rocky showed up again. This time it was perfect given the motives and circumstances of how the EP was written. Emotionally, I was fighting to get back up. Trevor helped me embrace the struggle and turn it into a visual story. He’s the Mickey Goldmill to my Rocky Balboa.

After adapting the feelings, resolve, and boxer’s focus from the “Runner”, what was the experience like of transforming these visions into a full on main event, realized by director Maegan Houang?

Overall, it was liberating. Boxers have an incredible mental focus and ability to endure difficult situations in and out of the ring. To prep for the shoot, I attended boxing classes to get a grasp of the technique, but what I left with was a new philosophy toward life. When you push your body to what you think your limits are, and have an instructor (who happens to be a Lightweight Costa Rican fighter) yell, ‘fight girl’ at you, there comes a moment when you transcend old limitations. You physically and mentally push through to a new level of strength. At the time of filming, I was struggling to move past lingering sadness and regret I had managed to hold onto from months prior. But having to be a fighter who refused to lose despite multiple setbacks made me recognize my own internal champion. Maegan did a beautiful job focusing on the process which drives the story on an emotional level, rather than placing importance on the actions of just training and boxing.

Sydney with a right jab, photographed by Trevor Banta.

Sydney with a right jab, photographed by Trevor Banta.

How do you feel these metaphors and allegories of athleticism, sporting drives, tourneys, and competitions contribute to the strength, heart, and emotions of the human spirit?

When we see an ordinary person like Rocky Balboa succeed after months of hard training and brutal beatings, it’s hard not to think we as individuals can succeed too. There’s a reason why movies like Rocky, Vision Quest, and The Karate Kid (Pat Morita version) are classics. Stories of athleticism are a way to put a series of complex emotions and feelings into something all of us can relate to. No one is a stranger to challenge but there is a line between those who surrender and those who overcome. These metaphors are powerful because they inspire us to embrace the best versions of ourselves, even if a long road of hard work and hurdles are in the way. As I mentioned before, it’s not about hoping for the best — it’s about rising up and refusing to lose.

Also your recent holiday single/video, “Mr. Mistletoe” was an endearing, and evocative pop jam that sounds amazing for any season, year round. Why do you feel holiday songs provide an opportunity to create a kind of deep felt vignette of sentimental power and potency?

Holiday songs are universally known and will never change. Sure, there are a ton of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” covers, but no matter who is singing, we all know the words. Life is constantly changing, yet when it starts to snow and you hear Nat King Cole, time stops for a second. I love holiday songs because they slow down time and make me feel like a kid again. They remind me of when I didn’t have to worry about responsibility. I think everyone likes to be reminded of that. With the joyous energy surrounding the season, holiday songs are the nostalgic antidote to the modern day blues. Just ask Bing Crosby — he’s never ruined a Christmas party.

Behind the scenes during the shooting of "Runner", captured by Trevor Banta.

Behind the scenes during the shooting of “Runner”, captured by Trevor Banta.

Will there be another L.A. Girlfriend holiday single in the works? I hope so…

Yes, definitely. I had so much fun with “Mr. Mistletoe” and I’m excited to start playing around with the follow up. This year, my record label We Are Confetti will release another Christmas compilation EP, so keep an eye out for that.

Give us insights, and hints on what the making of Neon Grey has been like?

So far, its been an adventure of instinct. For the past four years as L.A. Girlfriend, I’ve collected little things here and there, and built a machine made of lessons learned. Now in prepping Neon Grey, I’m putting an unwavering faith in my gut as I watch my machine start to operate. It feels like the right time to do something special and instead of fearing potential mistakes, I’m listening to my instinct and embracing my choices with the enthusiasm of a small child at Disneyland.

Tell us too about the story behind the paradoxical title of your forthcoming album.

Neon Grey is something I thought up years ago as a title for a behind-the-scenes mini series that I wanted to do (and am now doing) for L.A. Girlfriend. I liked it because at face value, it doesn’t necessarily make sense but when thinking about it more in depth, I almost see it as a way in which I describe my life. The experience of growing up and being a musician is like one big pool of grey — there are no right or wrong answers or specific formulas to follow for success. But despite so much grey, there is still the decision to live brightly or not. I’ve grown quite a bit since my last album and I’m excited to debut something that glows with everything I got.

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Thoughts on the latest happenings, and going-ons from L.A.?

The drought crisis sucks, the dating scene is terrible, yet the variety of good donuts increases by the day. I am optimistic.

2015/2016 L.A.G.F. mission objectives?

The number one mission at hand is finishing Neon Grey and shooting the videos that will tee-up and compliment its release in January 2016. In addition to upcoming shows, I’ll be visiting a girls’ rock camp in the summer. Hopefully I’ll inspire a few young girls to start a rock band. The world needs more girls in rock bands.

Read the full feature here.

Stefan Jós

stefan jos week in pop 1

Opal Tapes affiliate Stefan Jós, real name Devon Hansen, aka Lotide (see Moonlesss via Astro:Dynamics) follows up his Things You Left Behind EP with Primitives, available now from flau / raum, premiering the liquid slipping drum and bass beat of, “Watching Them Feed”. The Southern California by Montreal artist works with Miles Whittaker (Demdike Stare) for mastering, with the mastercut by Andreras [Lupo], to make for a journey through the subterranean networks of tunnels, burrowed out boroughs that comprises a kind of natural niche for Hansen’s sparse and fun experiments in rhythmic audio patterns.

Known to always be involved in an array of projects from making music videos, dabbling in world music, a passion for the Japanese avant garde, and more; Devon’s Stefan Jós moniker is reserved for providing life for his percussion textures. On our featured cut of “Watching Them Feed”, the various tones and facets of the drums allude to the lives of insects, gophers, moles, and more creatures and living things that thrive beneath the crust of the earth’s soil. Stefan invites you to follow the directions of the drum rhythms, where the sounds of communications between bugs, and the habitats of vermin feels like an ordinary stroll through the street, or nature walk down the minimalist, yet elaborate networks of paths marked by the tempo and tone of the percussion. Stefan Jós is your safari host to the worlds you knew little about outside of public television specials, and physical earth / biology classes; where swarms of benevolent sound creatures can be heard dining upon their hunted, and gathered finds in a world curated by Devon Hansen himself. We had a chance to catch up with the artist in the following interview session.

What have you found to have been the creative difference for your own sound studies under your given name, Devon Hansen, or as Lotide, to Stefan Jós? Where do all these identities intersect, and where do they go divergent from their perpendicular core?

I think they’re all just tools I’ve used to learn different things. The differences probably come from what exactly I am (or was) trying to figure out in each project. For Lotide that was how to distill a wide range of sample material into a very specific sensibility. D.Hansen tends to be about just digging into sound for its own sake, without worrying much about structure. Stefan probably stands apart from the other work because it’s a bit less personal and more technical. Trying to get groove right and focusing on detail in very minute ways, etc.

Give us some insights on the blueprints behind the making of your Opal Tapes mini-album split with Austin Cesear and single for Japanese imprint raum, via Yasuhiko Fukuzono’s flau label.

The split with Austin Cesear was done very much on an impulse for me. I came up with the name very hastily and decided to switch to a different set of tools than the ones I was using for Lotide. A break from sampling was needed, so I decided to try and get something done using synthesis only. There might have been one or two samples in there that I had discarded from Lotide, but the point of that work (as well as the records on flau) was to move away from depending on samples and jump into territory that was completely new for a while.

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Give us the primordial and primitive approaches that has informed your album, Primitives, under the Stefan Jós moniker.

I like the word primitive, because it makes me think of that modernist/western art music attitude toward repetition as some kind of stupidity or lack of sophistication. I’ve seen it used to describe some early electronic music as well. It seems like a pejorative way to talk about simplicity, which is weird to me because keeping things simple is not easy. That’s probably what informed the record the most, and Stefan as a project in general. Figuring out how to get something to sound full and satisfying with as few ingredients as possible, and disguising all that detail as something that is very basic or primitive in structure. I actually don’t think I’ve gotten it quite right yet, but I’m slowly getting there.

Everyone has their own experience of Montreal’s super eclectic, and multifaceted art scenes. What’s your take on the current state of Montreal’s influence, and ever intriguing, and influential prowess?

I’ve not even scratched the surface, really. I came here in August of last year, so my experience has only been of specific corners, most of which I was already loosely connected to in the first place. More compelling to me than the “scene” is the people. Everyone is quite open and interested. Regardless of what kind of music or art they make themselves, many of the people I’ve met just want to know about all of it. That’s probably where the eclectic/multifaceted thing comes from, in part at least.

Other indie artists from Montreal, Japan, or the world over that you want to recognize right now?

There are so many great people in Montreal it would be very difficult to do a fair survey. Most of the people I’ve been following closely are my friends. For the sake of brevity I’ll do it as a list.

Francesco de Gallo, works as FDG — and other names
Karl Fousek, works in modular synthesis
Roger Tellier-Craig, also great synthesis work
Sabrina Ratté, video artist, also works with Roger Tellier-Craig as Le Révélateur
Elko Tract, recently did three mixes for Kent Fashion Week
Scott Deeming, lots of curation work all around Canada for a long time, performing at Elektra this week, co-runs a festival in Toronto called Vector
Kara-Lis Coverdale, recent record on Umor Rex with David Sutton, beautiful work
A few friends run a label called Temple that has emerged recently, one to look out for

Outside of Montreal is even more difficult to distill, and I’m sadly quite ignorant when it comes to what’s going on in Japan at the moment, though I have been listening to Akiko Kiyama and 99LETTERS quite a bit lately. I grew a few roots in New York that have stuck with me, so that’s probably the city I’ve had my eye on the most, other than Montreal. Umfang, Ciarra Black, Malory Butler and Beta Librae have been on my radar a lot, eagerly awaiting some released material from all of them. Discwoman is a collective of producers and DJs that is doing a lot of important work at the moment. They’ve been throwing parties in many places and need to be followed closely. Witches of Bushwick is a group/agency that does Coven Magazine, among many many other things. I’ve also been really into the work of their designer, Loren Kane. The guys at Styles Upon Styles were the first people to take interest in my Lotide work when I arrived there, and we’ve stayed connected ever since. The material they release is high in variety and quality, so dig in if you haven’t already.

A lot of my attention also goes to the stuff on Where to Now? They were the first ones to put out my D.Hansen stuff, and both their curation and design work is consistently solid. Always feel very at home when working with them. One of their alumni, Beatrice Dillon, is one of my favorite people working in the UK at the moment. Very much admire the material she’s produced as well as her shows on Resonance and most recently NTS. I’m not the only one dropping her name these days so, again, you’ve probably already gotten word.

Stefan Jós’s Primitives is available now from flau / raum. Read the full feature here.

Main Attrakionz

main attrakionz friendzone week in pop

Squadda B has been telling us for months, and recent years that it was going to happen, and now Main Attrakionz released 808s and Dark Grapes 3 via Vapor Records (Neil Young’s imprint). Mondre and Squadda return with a joint entirely produced by Friendzone, lending a taste with the Chinatwon, SF strolling video for, “Ain’t No Other Way”, directed by their own Oakland neighbor, Kreayshawn. The vibe is the mellowest night you could imagine, where the one of the world’s greatest duos reasserts their presence, and pro-generative, and creative methods in rhymes told in the neon lights from the luminance of shop window displays glowing in the night.

The Friendzone production beams with the crystal sparkling piano notes that lightly fall on the the low lit understated keyboard notes as Mondre M. A. N. and Squadda Bambino remind you what that Bay Area Green Ova sound is all about. Sharing real life narratives on what one has to do to maintain, all the while kicking it with the ‘Zone’s James Laurence and Dylan Reznick beneath the SF city lights of North Beach, FiDi, Chinatown, random alleys, and anywhere they wan to chill. Everything you have been waiting for since 808s and Dark Grapes 2, or Bossalinis & Fooliyones slowly begins to manifest itself in the low flying fog style of some of the Bay’s most influential, and important pop culture ambassadors. Squadda

The biggest album from Main Attrakionz full of musical greatness! We took a lot of time over at FZ studio just putting together foods baking up what we visioned during those moments and are finally bringing to you what went down during some of those times! Very party vibe at FZ’ every time so that definitely shines through during playback of this. Along with trying out new sounds and styles of rapping. Enjoy!

Read the full feature here.

Earthly

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Earthly’s debut LP, Days is available on digital and wax from the future thinking hearts and minds at Noumenal Loom, and we thrilled to pour the viscous nu-electro bass boomer on you with; “Glaze”. From Brint and Edaan — otherwise known under the moniker, Bonglestar—the duo cook up a bubbling stew of sound that pops, boils, and percolates with a mix of rapidly uttered voice stems, a drum and bass rhythm based percussion momentum that is the driving engine for an assemblage of pastiched audio star bursts of interest. Earthly scoops up the essences of taking the very nature, and cycles of our various bio-systems and spins them into impressionistic paintings that blend the found sound, analog, and digital into a honey like sap that melts into the grooved surface of vinyl wax. Earthly’s Brint and Edaan caught up with us for the following chat:

With all the bands that use earth in their moniker, why did you two decide upon Earthly as a name? Is it some sort of statement that is supposed to be indicative of your sound?

Edaan: We really like the idea that this sorta strange sounds were being made by humans. The sounds themselves therefore represent Earth. Kind of. Sorta like Earth, but not really.

Been playing that “Glaze” single over and over again, and the conversation topics that I have been throwing back and forth to your label (Noumenal Loom), is that there is this movement toward creating a kind of liquidity state of your sounds which worm their way with this kind of viscosity that that tunnels through the jagged shapings of hard hitting percussion, where the sound is always being fed, or poured into these instruments of distortion. Could you perhaps elaborate on what sorts of concepts you had in mind during this track’s inception?

Brint: Thanks Sjimon! The concept behind glaze was a pretty open ended one. We started with the vocal/drum and bass loop and then tried to create an environment in which it could gain momentum and pump up. I was listening to this track very visually and referenced the video game Katamari Damacy a bunch. That game is all about momentum and trying to collect all of these funny shapes to create a greater mass. I think for me a lot of this record is like that, stumbling and hopefully gracefully pulling off little tricks. Using small sounds and layering textures to create a bigger picture.

Edaan: I was pretty lovesick at the time when making this. To me, this is probably the closest to a love song on the record, though its about no one in particular. To me at least. If you listen closely you can hear some kissing sounds that Brint and I recorded. There’s a certain romantic quality that I feel carries through the record, but this one is the most human to human. Other images going through my head were a ballroom with marble floors, an animal birthday, the rushing of blood, or mud racing, or mud love.

Tell us more about the Bonglestar connections, because that stuff is super next level too.

Brint: I remember the first real Bonglestar track was maybe 4 years ago. Edaan took a track I uploaded to YouTube in college called “little prince visits the king”, and chopped it up a bunch in maybe Garageband or something. I’m pretty sure it was called “deep peyote edit” or something.

We are still Bonglestar (we sometimes say Bongle for short). It’s the spirit that pushes us on and everything. We have moments when we are working on tracks where we are like “this is so Bonglestar”, so all that stuff lives on in this record. Some of these tracks we had been working on since we were called Bonglestar Galactabong.

I think the idea to change the name happened pretty naturally, we were feeling a change and wanted to have a new name for our first album. It is refreshing sometimes to renew that way..like cutting your hair.

Edaan: Yeah some people were pissed when we changed it. Some people were like “phew, glad I don’t have to say ‘Bong’ anymore.”

I feel like the former ‘experimental’ tags have fallen by the wayside, as folks like yourself continue to show that these formerly abstract audio artifices are the current sound of the times. Thoughts on what this new post-experimental phase, stage or whatever is?

Brint: Hmm, post-experimental…

I feel like experimental music has always been a way for me to express myself in a way where I wasn’t ever sticking to a specific sound..Like I could try new things out without feeling like I was betraying some concept that was weighing me down.

Maybe the new experimental stuff now is just informed by more music now that most people interested in music can easily find it anywhere. I remember having Limewire and downloading loads of single tracks..rap, rock, mash-ups, etc. Maybe people making music today have just listened to more music than other generations, and in a more concentrated way. Those influences shine through.

Edaan: I’m happy that people are still experimenting quite a bit, even if its not tagged that way. I think the internet and computer technology have really helped keep things fresh. Anyone with a computer can torrent Ableton and start making music with nearly all the same tools as someone with access to a studio. And the less YouTube tutorials you watch, the more likely you are to make that music in a different way from anyone else.

One thing that I feel is inspiring these days is trying to explore new sound in ways that are fun, joyful, playful. Weird ways to make you smile. Our friend Holly Waxwing I think does this as well as anybody. With the music we make, I am always trying to make songs that sound impossible, but catchy. I think experimental concepts mixed with pop is always the most interesting to me. I mean even stuff on the radio right now is pretty experimental. Young Thug is doing crazy stuff.

Give us some thoughts as to what sort of night and day constraints, and inspirations went into the pudding during the making of Days.

Edaan: I think these qualities were partly noticed after the record was finished. Certain songs to us represented different times of day, different seasons. To me, Glaze is an early evening track.

Other artists you all have been really into?

Edaan: Holly Waxwing, SVN, Via App, GOTH MONEY ALL-STARS, Nidia Minaj, Yung Lean, Gravity Boys, DJ Sprinkles, Joey Anderson, Panda Bear — all super inspiring daily

Brint: I love all that Principe is doing. DJ Maboku has one of the coolest tags on his tracks, like when you hear “MikeWIllMadeIt”…the Moboku one is just so positive and pumps me up. “DJ MABOKU!”

Is there a dao of Earthly that you two care to share?

Brint: PEACE.

Edaan: LOVE.

Earthly’s album, Days is available now from Noumenal Loom. Read the full feature here.

Asante Phenix

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Silver Spring, Maryland by Brooklyn’s Asante Phenix emerged on our radars with the poignant audible atmospheres of ambient r n’ b of “Baptism“, and premiered the video for the single that brings an endless string of dormant corridors as a vessel for Asante’s stream of recollections. Shot on location in a nebulous setting that could pose as an abandoned hospital or lab, the passages and infinite outlay of hallways provide a kind of sanctuary of solace to sort out the mirages and truths in a reality check croon that takes a moment of reflective pause when life and love move too fast. The semi-lit industrious locale provides a labyrinthine citadel to contain Phenix’s smoke rising production that gets lifted in thought and rhythmic motion like the lyrical allusion of, “steam that arises from inside the pavement.”

The church organ opening of “Baptism” cues Asante’s slow motion walk down the hollow halls of quasi-dilapidated utility tunnels, and eerie warehouse spaces. Phenix recounts the ways and progressions of how intimate moments become initiated, and spring out of the reins of control, requesting the awakening cold pail splash in the sobering refrain, “can someone get the water…” The deeper involved Asante gets in the song’s search for understanding, and glimpses of clarity; the more, and more they become dramatized visually, as the various sections, corridors, rooms, and industrial environments vary in degrees of lighting, and states of disrepair to heighten the pensive inner-zone baptismal metaphysics of the track. Read our following interview with Asante Phenix for a deeper look at the making of the video, and song.

Tell us about what sort of redemption songs and sentiments that lent various influences for “Baptism”.

I can’t necessarily name on specific song that influenced “Baptism”. Rather, I’ve heard a lot of music about either the beginning, or ending times in a relationship. Most of which cover a wide range of emotion, from love at first sight to the solitude that comes with a break up. I wrote “Baptism” to capture the inevitable push and pull that is omnipresent when two people are romantically involved. Unlike the static start and finish, I tried to make the song dynamic to match the ebb and flow of real love.

What was the making of video like, in adapting the solitary feelings in a hospital like setting full of long hallways, double doors, and all the things that make a person feel very humbled?

Shooting the video was a stimulating experience. It was literally me and two other people exploring a semi-abandoned warehouse. The building was equipped with empty laboratories, striking industrial design, and other eerie environments. It was perfect for shooting the song as we wanted to capture a feel that was akin to being lost in a maze or a time loop. The variety of lighting textures and scenery were the perfect parallel to the variety of textures highlighted in “Baptism”‘s intense instrumental.

How have your experiences and upbringing between Hartford, Connecticut and Silver Spring, Maryland contributed to your creative and musical sensibilities?

To clarify, I was only born in Connecticut. I was raised in MD my whole life until after undergrad. That being said, growing up in Silver Spring greatly shaped my creative and musical sensibilities. I was fortunate enough to grow up in an atypical environment where I was surrounded by an incredibly diverse group of peers. At a very young age I was able to experience a lot of different social situations, that illuminated how different types of people react to various life events. This made my mind develop in a way that allowed me to always ‘look at the other side of the coin,’ so to speak. To this day, I try to make my music boundary less in order to capture a full and diverse range of human experience.

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Having gone through your own rollercoaster of ups, downs, and tribulations; how do you transform difficult life experiences into meaningful works of art?

Love this question. Obviously, during trying times, artistic expression can sometimes fall to the wayside until one has a chance to cleanse their heart & mind of their ills. During the final stages of this cleanse, I find the most motivation for creating a potent piece of art. I think it’s important to live with extreme emotional events as a ‘regular person’ in order to convey relatable human emotion into music. I’ve often found that rushing into a concept too soon after a dark period results in an audible therapy session. Instead, I would rather create a poignant audible allegory.

With our country and the world caught up in the grips of so much injustice, and pain—what is your own global prayer, and meditation for better states of understating, consciousness, and peace?

This sounds like a question for the Dalai Lama but I’ll give it a go [laughts]. I won’t subscribe to a global prayer per se, as I don’t deeply affiliate myself with one type of religious sect. Although, a common thread that unites most faiths revolves around solidarity in the human race. For all our differences on the surface level, everyone has the same red blood flowing through their veins. I hope to provide music that moves that blood. Music that makes it boil with intensity, music that makes it cool with tranquility, music that brings individuals together in awe. With that said, I think I’ll let the people pray, while I provide the musical sermon.

Check out more from Asante Phenix via Soundcloud. Read the full feature here.

Holly Waxwing

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The recent weeks, and months were populated by credible rumors between credible parties and sources about Holly Waxwing’s anticipated Peach Winks EP available on via Cascine / Noumenal Loom, and we can finally share the shear xylophonic-ultra-harmonic splentor of, “Vibe”. A continuation from the recent narrative heard on the CSCN single, “Chalant”; the Noumenal Loom label co-founder Garrett Crosby draws from an assortment of bright sounds that find their own logical habitats according to note, tone, and rhythm that determine where they fit within the Holly Waxwing electronically enabled bio-system menagerie of sounds.

“Vibe” begins with the polyrhythmic cornucopia of percussive elements and note drops that sound like a hive of digital creatures all communicating with each other according to their own set of sciences. The series of seemingly abstracts of audio edits burrow their own abodes and niches within a world where the eastern leaning chimes strike punctuated cadences that confers with the current movement for making the most precise pop imaginable. The wonderful universe of Holly Waxwing can be heard throughout the sporty track where all the combined components disparate sounds find a certain natural harmony and order that only points toward more exciting things to arrive with the Peach Winks EP, and beyond. Read our latest Holly Waxwing interview now.

First up, give us the latest report on what’s good in Birmingham, AL all indie everything these days.

Birmingham has a lot of exciting stuff going on at the moment. First and foremost though, the neotropical birds just finished migrating through the Southeast — I got to see a molting summer tanager, a common yellowthroat, a black-crowned night heron and an indigo bunting for the first time. My friends and I are working on developing a really curated and special dance night for Birmingham, we should have something concretized by late summer. Birmingham seems receptive to all kinds of music, but we’re more hesitant to dance than we should be — I hope to change that while I’m here! I’m hoping some great southern producers crawl out of the woodwork as this project gains momentum. I’m really looking forward to Happenin Fest this year. My close friend, and previous roommate, Chris McCauley runs Happenin Records and their Festival is always one of the most joyous events in town each year.

In the time between your CSCN single, “Chalant”, and Teengirl Fantasy remix; give us the break down on the newer, more pronounced adventures that ring forth on “Vibe”.

“Vibe” started out as just a fun jingle, I liked it but didn’t anticipate developing it further. Here’s a fun little New Hive I made for the early version (http://newhive.com/hollywaxwing/vibe). Earthly, who my label is releasing a vinyl for in July, loved on Vibe from the start and encouraged me to develop it more. Vibe is the opposite of cynicism, vibe comes with open arms. This is what I want to bring to the table. Also, it’s a sort of avatar for the project. I hope this song is a universal ASMR trigger and brings people together. Nestle into a comfy color and close your eyes.

What sort of vibrations of your digitally sparkling wind chime style guided your thoughts, heart, and spirit during the creation of, “Vibe”?

An attempt to stratify and give contours to micro-postures, soft looks, discreet winks, skin tones, sleights of hand and the longing wet eyes of a Northern Lapwing.

Tell us more about the making too of your EP for Cascine.

Well I took a really long time to make it, hah. I think all of the songs kind of feel like singles and realms of their own. I definitely shifted my focus more towards percussion, MIDI instruments and began using fewer samples on this EP. I try to maintain a spaciousness and breathability throughout the EP even though its pretty crowded and relentless ;^)

Your label Noumenal Loom and Cascine both cater and appeal to your own sort of sophisticated, and forward thinking approaches that are encompassed in nearly every part of both your respective repertoires, and aesthetics. What do you feel is the importance implementing a sort of aesthetic ethos, or a decree, or demand for this bliss bathed approach that has one foot in the sound of now, and one in the world of tomorrow?

With such an onslaught of information I feel like a lot of people don’t make time for anything that’s not curated well. I know I can be that way, maybe to a fault sometimes. I want to make sure NL artists get the reception they deserve, and curation is a big part of that.

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What other sort of co-operations between you, your label, and other artists can you tell us about right now?

On July 24th our first solo vinyl release, Earthly’s debut ‘Days,’ will be available! We’re repressing 100 cassettes of my debut EP ‘Goldleaf Acrobatics’ as well as a cassette version of my Peach Winks EP for Cascine. Two other top secret vinyl projects in the works. Lastly, we have plans to release a Virtual Reality realm/album in late summer or fall!!!

Which artists for you have been having quite an affect, and appeal to your own musically minded heart?

Wishdasher, Holly Herndon, Lucky Dube, Rich Homie Quan, Jib Kidder, Earthly and all of Andras Fox’s mixes.

Looking into your own virtual crystal ball, can you tell us what the future of music, media, art, and culture looks like in the months, and years down the road?

Shifting the digital from a constant spiritual interjection to a safe haven & sanctuary. A retreat, not an evasion. A reconciliation, not a sleight of hand. Self-driving cars with artificial horizons designed by Sara Ludy, updating in realtime with a car’s motion, and a self-generating musical score based on your daily FitBit statistics.

Holly Waxwing’s Peach Winks EP is available now from Cascine/Noumenal Loom. Read the full feature here.

Sara Z

Sara Z, photographed by Kelly Lee Barrett.

Sara Z, photographed by Kelly Lee Barrett.

We were introduced to Sara Z with her Jereome LOL collaboration track, “All That I Am” for FoF‘s compilation, Five Years of Friends of Friends, and now we are delighted to premiere Sara Z’s cover SBTRKT’s “Hold On”. Collaborating once again, Jerome LOL provides the instrumental of xylophone dotted rhythm machines, as Sara dissects the coldest stares in the game while holding on, and pushing forward, and reaching toward a golden coronation of her own tiara in the vocal pop game.

Jerome sets the stage by arranging a chime sequence, and percussion undercurrent to provide a luxury like residence to house Sara Z’s take on SBTRK’s “Hold On”. The looping acoustic key hook provides a tense, contemplative quality as the ensuing immediacy is brought by the heart pounding (yet understated by a wash of subterranean levels of bass pulses) drum sequences that illustrates further the subtext of frustrations, and struggles expressed by Sara’s center stage quest in the song. The heavy, low-anxiety intensity of the track illustrates a drive to embody a divinity that rises above the naysayers, haters, critics, and judgmental fools for a chance to steal the spotlight once and for all. Sara Z caught up with us to discuss her collaboration with Jerome LOL, solo projects in the works, and more.

Describe your synergy with Jerome LOL.

From the start I think the music Jerome and I create has been largely based on trusting both each other’s creative intuition and our own, respectively. It’s interesting…having worked with other artists both remotely and in sessions, there is often a different experience, or an adaptation of the process based on format, environment, circumstances, etc. With Jerome, the process seems completely based on our ability to understand each other musically regardless of the variables. I attribute this to an innate creative trust and ability to embrace fluidity.

What ways do you both influence, inspire, and push each other?

I think we both have a mutual love and respect for the dance floor, for the underground community, and the power and potential of that space to move and connect people. I think that’s where our musical tastes tend to intersect most. One of the best experiences I’ve shared with Jerome was performing live last year in LA. I come from a place of being very comfortable with live improvisation. I spent several years singing live with friends playing sets at large, underground parties and in that space you definitely have to be available to the moment, not knowing what the next mix will hold. For the show with Jerome, we had a rehearsal, and a basic sense of where we were going with the live versions of the songs from the EP. That said, though, I think the inspiration came from jumping in together, headlong, and trusting our ability to communicate through the sound. That kind of creative communication is one of the most inspiring and dynamic facets of our exchange artistically for me. I also really respect and support what Jerome, Samo Sound Boy, and the entire Body High team are doing for the underground community specifically and the musical community at large in Los Angeles.

Artwork for Sara Z's 'Hold On', by Jason Burns.

Artwork for Sara Z’s ‘Hold On’, by Jason Burns.

What about SBTRKT’S original of “Hold On” first moved you?

As a listener, I experience each song I listen to as a story, with its own themes, archetypes, and lessons. I tend to be most drawn to the story of redemption, and I find that a lot of very soulful music is born out of the experience of overcoming. That’s what I connected to most when I first heard this piece, both sonically and lyrically there is a parallel expression of that energy.

How did you approach adapting it yourself?

With covers I’m typically of the mind that you either have to take a song somewhere completely different or stay predominantly true to the original. I think it’s important to pick a piece you feel responsible for doing justice to. Being a big fan of both SBTRKT and Sampha, that was certainly the case here. I definitely felt the need to come correct. I made the decision to mostly follow Sampha’s path but took some subtle turns to imbue the piece with my own emotional experience because that’s how I get my bearings in a song. Also, I got to work with my friend and an amazing Engineer, Kellen Balazy in LA, and having his ears on this really helped develop the piece and finesse the sounds in the right ways.

What other recordings do you and Jerome LOL have in the works?

I’m excited to have worked on new music with Jerome and Samo for their second DJ Dodger Stadium record. I spent some time with them in LA writing and recording for that project after the new year which was an amazing experience and very fun!

Sara Z’s 2015 Summer Preview?

I’m cultivating right now, harvesting a lot of new material both for my solo project as well as for a number of features/collaborations, some of which I’m really excited to share in the near future. I’m headed to London in August/September to work on new sounds with some friends, which is exciting since it will be my first trip there. Summer is my favorite time of year, and it’s absolutely the most beautiful time of year in Oregon, where I currently live, so I’m looking forward to the inspiration that comes with the season. Thanks so much!

Read the full feature here.

Wildfront

Introducing; Wildfront (left to right), John Corlew, Krista Glover, & Josephine Moore, photographed by Gabriel Max Starner.

Introducing; Wildfront (left to right), John Corlew, Krista Glover, & Josephine Moore, photographed by Gabriel Max Starner.

Get to know Nashville’s Wildfront, made up of John Corlew, Krista Glover, Josephine Moore, and Devan Kochersperger who follow up the strange magic of their Strange Gold EP. The experimental harnessing of the tempests found on their debut become refined to a more pointed production that organizes every instrumental contribution, and note for an effect of maximum efficiency to evoke the utmost out of every utterance. Moving from the band’s Tennessee pastoral approaches to pop construction; John, Josephine, and Krista set their sights on re-shaping, and entertaining the power and punch of their hooks to stir instantaneous responses and reactions from their listeners.

The cold spell/snap of “January” rekindles those recalled feelings of the long winter season as a backdrop for the duet between John and Josephine that depicts the back and forth pendulum swing of desires, and the sparks (or lack their of) that binds hearts tightly together in unison. John describes failed flashlight lit flames gone dim and dead, as Josephine counters with a statement of unchangeable desires, complicated feelings of guilt, and the fight for a certain sort of peace and silence. The cross-wired communication channels are heard between the two in their verses, the “oh well” surrender that illustrates the rift wedged between a pair of distant lovers struggling with their needs, wants, and goals that cannot be reconciled in a shared, common ground of congress. As Wildfront lets the dramatic exchange unfold before your ears, the instrumental rhythm remains tight, and addictive in a way where the audience feels like the are privy to a lover’s spat during the ennui of overstayed seasons. Check out our following interview discussion round with Josephine Moore.

Tell us the Wildfront story, how did the four of you all connect, and did this entire front begin?

Thank you, Sjimon! We started in 2013 as Krista, Josephine and another friend of ours. We found Devan the following year on Craigslist, which is pretty funny considering we’d never done that sort of thing before. He is from Pennsylvania and moved to Tennessee for grad school. We never would have met him otherwise, so the internet can be a cool thing in that way. John came along much later in the process. We met him through our college town’s music scene, and he had been in several local bands with whom we played and were familiar. We ended up narrowing the band down to the four of us.

Give us the progressions and developments of your sound from the single, “Thunder”, the Strange Gold EP, to the most current, Cruel Tides / January.

The Strange Gold EP was definitely a different world from where we are now in many ways; beforehand, we were very guitar-heavy with lots of shoegaze-y reverb/90s dream pop. We’ve since shed live drums from our recordings, and writing process altogether. When John joined, we decided to head in a more new wave direction, and we started playing to drum machine tracks that he would program. Devan took on a more producer-like role (he records/mixes/masters all of our material) and we most often perform as a three-piece of Krista, Josephine and John to the programmed tracks. It was definitely an interesting adjustment, and like a lot of artists we were being heavily influenced by our tastes at the time. Both new singles, Cruel Tides and January, are a reflection of this change we’re experiencing into more 80’s influenced synth pop. The song Thunder came somewhere in between; it marked the beginning of the progression.

Wildfront captured live by Caroline Bowman.

Wildfront captured live by Caroline Bowman.

The latest sound developments take your former dream audio weapons, and sharper them for something that is really analog, organic, and yet retains the benefit from today’s recording technologies. Behind the scenes thoughts on this phenomenon?

These new songs feel like our most concise and organic ones to date, however, they ironically represent a fundamental shift in our recording process to embrace the digital realm. We ditched our mountains of analog effect pedals and vacuum tube amplifiers in the studio and instead recorded and mixed almost entirely digitally. This forced us to sever the sounds and settings we had subconsciously become attached to. Instead, we had to really listen to our music objectively and find the 0’s and 1’s that suited it best instead of the circuits and capacitors.

Nashville is forever a resource for so many musical minds. Thoughts on the ever expanding scenes out there?

There is definitely a lot going on. When we tour and hear in other cities that scenes are sometimes isolated and musicians aren’t abundantly common, it is a bizarre thing to wrap our heads around. Here, music is everywhere. It’s almost uncommon to meet more than a few people at a show who aren’t in bands or musicians in some capacity. Genres and crowds overlap, and with the selection of great indie (and major) labels based here, people move from all over to contribute to the constantly changing landscape.

Nashville artists that you all want to give a shout out to?

Oh, well Dolly Parton, of course.

Listen to more from Wildfront via Bandcamp. Read the full feature here.

Future Twin

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As a longtime of SF art-activist heck raisers, and all DIY everything enthusiasts; I had the pleasure of working production on Future Twin’s video for “We’re Here”, along with Aaron Bray, Antonio Roman-Alcalá, Erin Feller,Yukako Ezoe, Naoki Onodera, Miguel Arzabe, directed by frontwoman Jean Jeanie and Sascha Schoberl. Originally from their Chillality EP, the video stars Daphne O’Neal, Andrew McKinley & Stephanie VanDerLinde breaking out of the bonds of their routines for a sporadic chance for colorful action, and magic.

Filmed in conjunction with Last Wave Film on locales from the Tides Theater & Shelton Studios, to the pastel neon paint splashed narrative arc apex in Clarion Alley and all of it’s mural visual richness. Eye and mind opening experiences occur to the lives of three individuals of disparate corners of the socioeconomic scales who go to find what they want on their own. It is this striking light bulb/lightning in a bottle moment where the knit masked presence of Jeanie (courtesy of Tracy Widess of Brutal Knitting) finds the three former strangers converging together down Clarion alley toward a common purgation of color, and unrestrained ecstatic energy. Read our recent interview with Future Twin’s Jean Jeanie.

How have you, Future Twin, your friends, and community been surviving?

I’ve been surviving by being blessed with good friends that I can count on when it really comes down to it. My band’s been surviving by being permeable so that people can come and go as they get displaced, or have a baby, or move to Los Angeles. Sometimes its all three. My friends are surviving by accessing and creating alternative living solutions. Some people call it a tiny home movement. Other people call it urban camping. There’s also an underground sharing economy, and not the bastard lyft or airbnb versions. Fuck Lyft, Uber and AirB&B. No, I’m talking about the real sharing economy. Where people put items on the street before the thrift or the trash. I found lights for this tour on the street outside my house the day I left. Or when people put you up when you need a place to crash, or you help a friend grow greens and they give you some of the harvest. My community has been surviving by vehemently opposing the circling vultures aka real-estate speculators aka modern-day colonizers. We survive by banding together, in solidarity.

What has you hopeful about the future of the Bay and the world, and the future of the new arts?

I’m hopeful about emerging ways of how to design systems. A society is a very complex system. There are emerging models of how to de-commodify space in urban centers, called community land trusts. I’ve been volunteering on the board of a housing nonprofit in SF, called the San Francisco Community Land Trust, for over two years. We buy properties on the open market, in San Francisco, and instate the current residents as resident owners, and provide ongoing education on how to cooperatively finance and steward these spaces, these homes. Our website is www.sfclt.org. There’s also an Oakland Community Land Trust, and a Northern California Community land trust. Creating more avenues of how people can engage and maintain autonomous space is key to so much, in terms of egalitarianism and quality of life. Of course there should always be some oversight, to ensure a balance of power. Autonomy is very powerful. La via Campesinos in Chiapas Mexico is also very exciting, and the liberation of the Gill Tract aka Occupy the Farm, in Berkeley, CA, is very exciting.

What do you mean by new arts? When I think of new arts, I think of ways to reflect. I think of a realm where people can all take part in leisure, enough to space out now and then, write a poem, make a painting, grow a garden….write a song. Sing it to your loved ones. New arts are realms where everyone can take part. Old arts are ones commissioned by monied interests where the content is controlled, the message is watered down…I’m excited to see more and more creations where people challenge the status quo, invite the audience to participate, blur the lines between performer and observer. I’m excited to see more art that uses conceptual practice as a method to challenge unjust laws that are still legal. I’m excited by projects like Mediengruppe Bitnik’s “Random Darknet Shopper,” and creating in the realms of “network critical media,” or what I might call, “prefigurative media and network design;” media that critically, experientially and authentically confronts the network on which it relies. I’m excited that SFAQ started a publication in Mexico City. I’m excited about getting away. And I’m excited about coming back. I’m excited to exist in this life. To help shape things, if I can.

Tell us what’s next for Future Twin post-Chillality?

We’ll be releasing a full-length album soon, our first. We’re planning to record another EP or maybe a full length depending how the flow is going, in New Orleans this Fall. We’re going to do some fundraising later this summer to hire musicians for their studio time, hire a producer and engineer….so keep your fingers crossed that we can pull it off!

Who are other fellow artists that you want to recognize who are doing great things these days, locally, and elsewhere?

For the first time in my life, about two months ago, I downloaded my first album from iTunes. Ha ha I know…I was mystified by how it showed up on my phone after I bought an album from my laptop. Anyway…I found myself exclusively purchasing music from emerging female artists. There’s a rad band out of Union City in East Bay, called Little Sister. They’re top notch. Then I made the leap and snagged some Soko, the Savages’ Silence Yourself (They have a great song called “Fuckers“). Will Sprott, who lives in Seattle now, just released an EP [Vortex Numbers] on Hairdo Records and it’s exactly what hits after a long day. His song about being a dog waiting on the porch for his love to come home, coz all he wants to do is roll around in the backyard together, is pretty touching and beautiful.

Favorite moments from the making of the video for “We’re Here”?

My favorite moments were definitely puking rainbows in Clarion Alley. Gotta love those real world tricks. And smashing laptops (that we got for free from Tech Collective’s trash pile, thanks Tech Collective!) over and over again…you know, for the film…..not to vent our city’s frustration with tech or anything…

Will there be a “Summer Song” video? Every version of that song ever made is so cool, and powerful.

Oh thank you! I’m not sure if we have one planned yet, do you have any ideas? Maybe we could film something while on the road to New Orleans…there’s lyrics about a road trip, and lots of hair references. We could get some good hair shots…

Future Twin 2015 plans?

Well, I’m playing with a producer and singer, Chelsea Muehe aka Charlie Cannon. She’s pretty awesome. Together we’ve built an even more dynamic entity that can swiftly roam about this vast continent. I also recently co-purchased a van with one of my besties Aaron Bray. So yea! More touring!! And the New Orleans trip. Hit us up if you want us to play your city!

Big causes in 2015 all activist artists should be aware of all around the world, and in their own backyards and front yards?

There’s a CA state law coming up this Fall called “Right to Rest,” that will allow folks to occupy public space when and where they need it. Since it’s a state law, it would override city laws like “Sit/Lie” that criminalize low income people who often need to take rest in pubic spaces. The United Nations recently deemed ordinances like “Sit/Lie” to be a human rights violation. That shit’s gotta go.

The world is a big place. Yet small. I hope to be able to hear more and more stories conjured up by the certain people living there, in that time and in that certain place. Again, let us know if you want us to play your city! You can always reach us at hello@futuretwin.com. Read the full feature here.

James Linck

Getting to know James Linck, photographed by Andrew Miller.

Getting to know James Linck, photographed by Andrew Miller.

Detroit’s James Linck initially appeared on radars with his Fortress Of Solitude, rocking a falsetto over production that goes everywhere and enraptures the senses. Linck keeps his take on new nostalgia pushing ahead with the premiere of “Broken Vessel”, puffing a new kind of old high that continues to synthesize smoky r&b pop arts with electro manufactured airs of ambiance. Taken off his upcoming release Small World, James exhibits confessions of incomplete inclinations, lists of misgivings that humbly opens up his heart to the listener with lyrics set to a rich production that further stakes a claim of ownership to the universal doubts experienced by many—but rarely discussed.

“Broken Vessel’ finds James Linck wrapping up the chorus loop around the auto-tuned touched line of, “if I see you today, I wanna have something to say.” The sustain of keys keep the feeling of overactive thoughts running through the sung bars and verses that describe the many manic moods of trying to find a well-adjusted comfort zone. From watching Psycho with the lights on to the refrain of “I’ll my favorite t.v. shows are about men with trust issues” depicts the diversions, and connective calm provided by the coping processes of finding a peaceful center. The track’s atmospheric center reverberates like a meditative core that James utilizes a canvas to convey fractured feelings. Join us for our interview with James Linck.

How did you first discover your inner musician?

I first discovered my inner musician when I went to Cedar Point (an amusement park in Sandusky, OH) when I was in sixth grade…they had this place called superstar studios where u could go into a recording booth and they’d essentially make a recording of you doing karaoke. I chose to do the Boyz II Men track “End of the Road”… I thought I killed it but when i was listening to the cassette they gave me on our ride back to Michigan, I wasn’t very impressed with my performance and I couldn’t wait to make another recording. So yeah.. it wasn’t until after high school that is started messing with multi-track recorders but i think the obsession began there.

The latest from the Detroit scenes? And how have the environments and influences of the D impacted your sound and creative sensibilities?

Detroit’s a pretty eclectic scene…there’s tons of people doing every style of music you can think of and I think there’s a lot of cross pollination between the genres but I’ve always had pretty eclectic taste when it comes to music. I think more so the low cost of living allows people to spend more time on creative endeavors and that’s probably the most influential factor. Obviously we have a rich musical history here but I mean we’re all on the internet constantly…everywhere is everywhere.

Taking a smoke break with James Linck, captured by Andrew Miller.

Taking a smoke break with James Linck, captured by Andrew Miller.

What sorts of earth shattering, and world breaking moments informed your single, “Broken Vessel”?

“Broken Vessel” was written last summer…I was going thru a really weird dramatic breakup. I turned thirty and i was having some serious writer’s block. I didn’t have a steady job and i was just holed up in my tiny flat binge drinking and trying fight off the despair… after I was able to get this song out in the open the rest of the record started to flow out pretty naturally.

Other like-minded artists you want to give a shout out to?

Jamaican Queens just released a really beautiful album called Downers. Those dudes are an inspiration…two of my fav Detroit rappers, Doc Waffles and Goldzilla, formed a group called Barter Boys and their record should be dropping this summer…I’ve heard some of it…I’m pretty excited for that one. Tunde Olaniran has a new record on deck that’s gonna drop in August I think…I’ve heard a bunch of it cause the same dude who mixed my album, Jon Zott, did his as well…so shouts to him…Jon also just dropped a really great track called “Make Plans” on his Soundcloud…so def check that. I could go on and on…

Listen to more from James Linck via Bandcamp. Read the full feature here.

The Bilinda Butchers

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When we last heard from The Bilinda Butchers, we explored their magnum opus Heaven from Orchid Tapes, caught them touring with Craft Spells, and now we welcome back Michael Palmer, Adam Honingfold, and Ryan Wansley with their cover of Number Girl’s “Sentimental Girls Violent Joke” that features the Tokyo based Smany on vocals. With an arrangement, and emotive atmosphere that sounds like the next logical progression from the expressive and involved world of Heaven—the single published by LA imprint Zoom Lens plays about with the familiar expressive sustain of keys that entertains a dance mode fit for late nights lost in Tokyo, romantic foggy evenings in San Francisco, or a discreet after party in Los Angeles. The Bilinda Butchers’ Number Girl cover continues the standards established by Heaven, and moves deeper into dancier terrains of rhythm sophistication. The atmospheres tread those paths of calm, and turbulent ethereal waters while Smany’s vocals provides an urban city pop mode that pushes along the feeling down the fancy footwork streets, gilded sidewalks, fancy boulevards, gold plated alleys, and never ending interstates of affection.

The Bilinda Butchers take on Number Girl’s original version of “Sentimental Girls Violent Joke” trades in the rock and rumble attitude for the sound of a celestial spa soundtrack where Smany’s vocals are center stage. Every keyboard note is cast into the after hours edges of the frame, as the synths make melody patterns that are emitted like the smoky steam of dry ice ice rising from the stage floor. As Smany recites the Japanese sung lyrics in the sleepiest, and serene of vocal deliveries, the rhythm takes over and invites overy more synthesizers, and guitar hooks to the party as the entire affair becomes an euphoric blend perfect for the earliest mornings—or the latest nights. Read our most recent interview with Michael Palmer:

Where were you when you first heard “Sentimental Girls Violent Joke” from Number Girl, and what struck you about the original, and what inspired you to cover it?

I actually heard it for the first time pretty recently. We were looking for a track to cover and Adam sent it to me. It’s a weird B-side that isn’t very popular. We were looking for something that we could easily translate into a completely opposite vibe. Sentimental Girl’s Violent Joke is great because it feels like a track the Butchers would have done when we first started out.

How did you connect with Tokyo artist Smany for this collaboration?

She was recommended to me by my friend Mus.hiba.

It seems like your taking the eclectic elements from the sophistication of Heaven, and sharpening them to something even sweeter here on this cover. Can you tell us more about the latest developments behind the scenes in the BBs camp?

We’ve been wanting to do more dance inspired electronic music. When Ryan joined the band he brought in a lot of UK style dance influence, garage, house, drum and bass. So we’ve been leaning towards those elements more while preserving the original core values of cinematic, soundtrack based music.

150314 The Bilinda Butchers @ Mercury Lounge _ Emily Cheng-6

Bilinda Butchers, photographed at Mercury Lounge by Emily Cheng.)

(The

Having finished your second recent tour with Craft Spells, what were the top 5 songs, albums, etc played in the vans?

1. Disclosure, “Lose my Mind” ft. London Grammar

2. Enigma, “Sadness”

3. Deavid Soul, “Miller Ball Breakers”

4. Fingers Inc., “Can You Feel It”

5. Steely Dan, “Babylon Sisters”

Care to comment on possible further collaborations with Justin P. Vallesteros and company on upcoming BBs material?

We’re talking about going out on the road again maybe, still not sure.

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(The Bilinda Butchers’ Michael Palmer, photographed at Mercury Lounge by Emily Cheng.)

If you guys could make your own manga, what would it be called, and/or about?

It would be called Sentimental Girl’s Violent Joke and it would be about kids wandering around Tokyo trying to sneak into clubs.

If Heaven could be adapted into a film, who would direct/animate?

Wong Kar Wai.

Current philosophies of The Bilinda Butchers musically, spiritually, metaphysically?

Things are always slowing down here. We are working on less and less music as time goes on. We are more interested in visual projects now.

The Bilinda Butchers’ single “Sentimental Girls Violent Joke” ft. Smany (Number Girl Cover) is available now from Zoom Lens.

Read the full feature here.

Quelle Chris

Quelle Chris, photographed by Jeremy Deputat.

Quelle Chris, photographed by Jeremy Deputat.

Quelle Chris has given us notice that his upcoming third album will be entirely produced by Bay Area producer Chris Keys titled Innocent Country (continuing his 2Dirt4TV series), available now from Mello Music Group. With guest cameos by Denmark Vessey, The Fiends, Fresh Daily, Cavalier and so on; we bring you Quelle’s words on the single/video for “I Asked God” that brings a metaphysical prayer in real time that sheds the pretensions of religious didactic that blends the good, bad, and questionable things of material attachment in piano touched track of thanks and praise.

Often we turn to something or someone else. Asking, hoping and waiting for change. Be thankful for what’s around you, seen and unseen. Yet, never forget the power you hold within yourself.

Read the full feature here.

Blindness

Blindness, photographed by Iona Dee — with (from left) Debbie Smith, Emma Quick and Beth Rettig.

Blindness, photographed by Iona Dee — with (from left) Debbie Smith, Emma Quick and Beth Rettig.

Off their album Wrapped in Plastic from Fort Worth’s international guardians of dream pop, Saint Marie Records, London’s Blindness drops the b/w Lasco Atkins, Milo Richard Downs and Alex Scotti video for their cool, confident, confessional video for “Confessions”. The trio of Beth Rettig, Emma Quick, and Debbie Smith (guitarist for Curve, Echobelly, and Snowpony) take the sideways-side-walking paths established by the UK’s leather & distortion clad indie upstarts deeper into the melting pot marshes of melted & boiled media fabrics that informs today’s rebels.

The video for “Confessions” presents Beth, Debbie, and Emma performing about in a linen covered (or maybe it’s plastic?) space, where Blindness sheds some views into dealing with matters whilst feeling broke down. Without a sign of surrendering to fleeting feelings, and asserting themselves; Blindness takes on a slew of different expressive poses to show serious sides, the aches of being addled with anxiety, and more to make for dramatic shots to match the grueling grate of guitar gears. Beth, Debbie, and Emma were so cool as to write us a confessional paragraph that recalls the making of the Lynchian-Twin Peaks-esque titled album, Wrapped in Plastic, and more:

This album has been a long time in the making (as many will tell you). There have been a lot of ups and downs so it’s great to finally get these songs out as one album. Between recording and finishing the album, we lost a couple of members and gained one. As our old bass player and drummer’s parts are still on the album, we decided to call the album Wrapped In Plastic as this was the band’s first name (after the infamous line in Twin Peaks, obviously) while they were still part of it. It seemed like, somehow, ending a chapter so that we can start the next.

Wrapped in Plastic is available now from Saint Marie Records.
Read the full feature here.

The Glazzies

The Glazzies' Peter Landi & Dave Horn, photographed by LaVon Rettig.

The Glazzies’ Peter Landi & Dave Horn, photographed by LaVon Rettig.

Sag Harbor, NY’s The Glazzies recently followed up their 2012 album Time Bomb Love with the Satin Stain EP from Old Flame Records that sees guitarist/vocalist Peter Landi, and drummer Dave Horn joined by Dinosaur Jr.’s Murph for additional percussion contributions. With their new album Kill Me Kindly pushed back to a TBA date, Satin finds the duo fusing powers with the alt. rock legend to muster up the sound of mega-rock group that would have conquered the college charts, and swept the underground-ish festivals of the 80s and 90s.

“So Strange” kicks out jams like a main stage bad-boy Brit pop relishing in the glory of the 90s, but keeping the matter heavy as “Nothing To Say” is quick to point out on account of it’s thrashing pop ode to ineffable states. And with the pop hook wistful ways of the infectious “Maybe Someday”, you can hear something of what I called the Old Flame Records sound (the DIY pop recipes you have known and loved for years, but somehow improved for a new era of interpretation, and enlightenment.), right before ripping into amped-out rendering of The Kinks’ classic, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”. The last song “Float” inspires crowd surfing situations, as every snotty and snarled delivery is met by equal parts head imploding guitar that is masterfully recorded by Justin Pizzoferrato.
Peter from the Glazzies shared a few words with us on the making of the EP, working with Murph, and the impact he had on Satin Stain:

Working with Murph was pretty surreal. I’ve been a fan of his drumming for years, so when the opportunity came up for him to play on the EP we couldn’t say no. We tracked all of his parts live in a couple of hours and when we started recording my guitar parts, he took my car to go pick some Chinese food that we had ordered. He’s an awesome dude to say the least.

Read the full feature here.

Sextile

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Meet LA’s Melissa Scaduto, Eddie Wuebben, Kenny Elkin, and Brady Keehn who are Sextile, blending guitars steeped in the dark arts with rumbling rhythm synth engines as heard on the featured single “Can’t Take It”. Found on the forthcoming A Thousand Hands album available August 21, hear the urgent utterances and exclamation of feeling belted up like Tremors from beneath the earth’s crust like an army up-reaching hands that can’t take the subterranean void anymore. Check out our following interview with the band.

Take us to the corner where sensuality, carnality, attitude, identity, clothing, and style all converge to create the concept of Sextile.

The concept is primitive, dangerous and straightforward.

Dissonance, and clamor is something that is played with throughout your music. How do you reign in the balance of expressing the aesthetic of imbalance and more?

Honestly this just comes naturally. It’s just what sounds good to our ears. Its also a vibe we carry in ourselves.

What did you all learn together as a group after the undertaking of A Thousand Hands?

We figured out that we can just do this ourselves in terms of recording and mixing. It’s not easy to make a fucking record. I (Brady) had a physical headache by the time we were done with it. We also learned how to play the songs live after making the record.

Just as every track feels like turning a new corner into some post-post-modern gothic thriller, the track titles feel like chapter names of a novella, or mystery novel (i.e. “Smoke In The Eye”, “Truth And Perception”, “Shattered Youth”, “Into The Unknown”, etc). Was this consciously done on purpose, or with that kind of thinking and conceptualization in mind?

Well, there are a lot of shitty titles for songs out there, so A, I tried staying away from that as much as possible and B, the titles are based on themes and/or the underlying emotion the song was based on.

Other like-minded local LA artists that you all fancy lately?

We are fairly new to LA, except Kenny. But this is what we have been “fancying”:
Terminal A, High Functioning Flesh, Drab Majesty and Egrets on Ergot.

How will Sextile spend their 2015 summer season?

We are going to start it off with a tour on the West Coast (dates below), try to play as many shows as possible in LA and around, start writing the second record and top it of with the release of A Thousand Hands late August on felte.

Read the full feature here.

Friend Roulette

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From the early days, we have chronicled the dawning of Friend Roulette, the multi-faceted, ambitious band collective of chums that forever follow their own instincts and ideas—continuing to compose their own brand and breed of musical forms. A group born out of an idea of friendship and unity since the beginning, their new album I See You. Your Eyes Are Red. for Goodnight Records, follows up 2013’s I’m Sorry You Hit Your Head that showcases the group’s assortment of songs that have been in the works for a while, brought to neo-baroque life through the group’s own creative whims. Once again we give you the audio worlds manifested by Matthew Meade, Julia Tepper, John Stanesco, Tlacael Esparza, Kyle Olson, Brighid Greene and Nate Allen as they venture through the looking glass of their own talents, narratives for what is their most grandiose work to date.

I See You. opens with “Strange Girl” that sounds like it could have served as the opening credit roll sequence for an alt. James Bond type of cinematic offering. Combining an arsenal of musical toys, the sweeping intro takes us to “Dutch Master”, where Friend Roulette’s ever experimental tendencies take over toward the high stakes drama and camp that sounds at home as an off-Broadway performance. “Stoned Alone” takes the trip toward the heavier places of introspection, addiction, and applies an intense angle toward an intoxicant addled type of isolation. Having debuted “You Drank All the Eggnog” back in the holiday season winter of 2013, the track ends up on first side of the new record to prove that a timeless yuletide tale can be enjoyed year round.

The second side begins with “Gardens Tidings” that provides a secret garden sort of sound where the group’s instrumental contributions of notes become as fascinating, and appealing like a floral collection springing forth from planter boxes, and clay pots. Friend Roulette’s choral stream of feeling and conscientious consciousness take a turn toward contemplations about food, and commitment all combined in an impressive suite carried by horns. Julia continues to keep the sentiment, and mental spaces slowly and softly rising toward cruising altitudes of attitude that contain unexpected turns into sections of song that surprise with the delight that only Friend Roulette know how to assemble and actualize. For the curtain closing, “Warm Year”, the whole group pitches in their vocals, instrumental parts and more to create another song that could be performed at your favorite dive, or featured in a film soundtrack. Read now our recent interview with Matt Meade.

As a longtime fan and listener, one of the first things that struck me about the new album is how so many of the songs on here have been in the works for so long now (“You Drank All the Eggnog”, “Strange Girl”, etc). Looking back and reflecting, what was the process of making I See You. Your Eyes Are Red like, and how do you feel you all have grown as a collective?

Believe it or not, “Dutch Master” was written when I was 19. Possibly for a composition class in music conservatory. It’s had several lives but was put to rest for 7 years and revived in the studio at the last minute when I realized it would fit this crazy ensemble known as Friend Roulette. In a previous interview with you, following the release of I’m Sorry You Hit Your Head, I went into depth about the writing process, because there was a firm compositional concept and process. With I See You. Your Eyes Are Red, the compositions span so many years that there’s no way to pin down a consistent method. As a collective, we have grown, we’ve deteriorated, we’ve toured more and more, but at the end of the day, when we go to write and record the music, it’s the same as the very beginning, a high level of trust amongst us all is what makes this ensemble special. No one really tells anyone else what to do, and when occasionally it happens (on my part) I feel horrible about it.

There is no predictable algorithm for a Friend Roulette song. Like how “Up in the Air” is almost an orchestrated assemblage of happenstance; how do you all sketch out some of the more unusual, and always unpredictable chord changes and bridges in your music?

I would love to know the answer to that one too. “Up in the Air” was written in the same way that I wrote most of the stranger songs on I’m Sorry You Hit Your Head. It’s almost an exercise in creatively navigating to different sections of the song that don’t sound anything a like. You could listen to each individual section and they don’t sound cohesive in the slightest. Almost like they could all be different songs. So you take these sections and have to find a way to get from one to the next without sounding to abrupt.

friend roulette week in pop 7

Consumption, intoxication, hang overs, morning afters, and all kinds of reckoning in the middle of all that come into play on the motifs present on this album. Describe how hedonism and altered states informed the creative processes here.

The last album was about the relationship to hedonism and love. This album is more about the relationship to hedonism and death. Fear of death, acceptance of death, the inevitability of death and in the end, the very last song, “Warm Year” rounds everything off with contemplation of the continuation of life.

What’s the latest in Spritzer? That is such a fun project of yours.

Well it continues to be a fun, non-serious project which I felt like I needed. Friend Roulette, of course, is fun and continues to be my favorite project with my favorite people, but spritzer is just normal fucking pop rock songs with little variation. I can’t say much about it right now, but there might be a 7″ coming out at the end of the summer.

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Every time we talk to you, you’re always championing the next bright talents in the NYC underground. What artist/group do you want to give a shout out to?

REALLY BIG PINE CONE! This band is really the best I’ve heard in the past few months. The compositions are sophisticated yet playful. It’s comprised of Gregg Albert (Celestial Shore), Zannie Owens and some guy named Mikey that i don’t really know, but he must be a genius. Sam Yield has been really great lately too. He has an album coming out soon. He is the Bass player in Haybaby. Check out his song “Julie“.

Friend Roulette summer/fall preview?

I think we’re gonna take it easy and quit worrying about the music industry so much. I feel like the pressure of the industry has really been killing us. Time to just make music and make sure that were happy with it. We’ll always be playing shows and touring. I’m in the middle of lining up a tour that will only be at houses on the east coast. Oooh and our next album is so close to being done.

Friend Roulette’s I See You. Your Eyes Are Red is available now from Goodnight Records. Read the full feature here.

A Deer A Horse

A Deer A Horse, photographed by Ben Shirai.

A Deer A Horse, photographed by Ben Shirai.

Brooklyn’s A Deer A Horse have been seen amongst their local like-minded DIY luminaries (Howth, Mount Sharp, etc), and we present their 7″, “Gunpoint”, that breaks out of the trappings of everything from claustrophobic relationships, and idiotic nostalgia. Following up their recent single, “Fighter“, and their debut Patience EP; the principle duo of guitarist/vocalist Rebecca Satellite, and bassist/vocalist Angela Phillips sharpen their barbs, shred your delusions, flying their sound banner of changed times, accompanied by Sam Monaco’s dedicated swift percussion. A Deer A Horse tramples on the confounded ignorance of conformists that hold tight to failed institutions of intolerance, to breaking free from the imprisoned bondage of faded former connections by an illustration of audio tour de force.

Rebecca and Angela were both students of Sarah Lawrence College studying blues,and jazz, pursuing their own musical paths before establishing A Deer A Horse. Taking into consideration these shared educational experiences, to moving past those pedantic models from instruction, Satellite and Phillips re-write the conventions of verse, chord structure, and narrative form to provide an art that is conversational, shifting in points of reference, and meanings, to the expressive charge in the chords. “Gunpoint” illustrates all this in a fury that discards the causes for frustration from lovers who smother, to the cantankerous class set that live in the so-called ‘good ol’ days’ (that really were not all that great to begin with). ADAH shatters the prehistoric notions of living, demanding something present and conscious in the now, matching oppressive forces with their own force of stern guitars and rhythms to break down the walls of any and all obstacles in front of them. Check out our interview with Rebecca Satellite.

Tell us about how you two met at Sarah Lawrence College, and how the creative bond was struck up.

We were a year apart and met in a music theory class, but we were basically at different ends of the musical spectrum at that time, and honestly quite closed minded about what we thought was good music. Angela was militantly into punk rock, and while I’d always wanted a rock band, I was writing on acoustic guitar and everything was coming out in a very singer/songwriter sort of way. We didn’t really cross paths again until after college when we both ended up living in the same neighborhood. We found that after a few years of studying jazz/blues with the same teachers, we had a shared vocabulary, and no longer felt beholden to, or limited by, our influences in the way we once had.

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What is behind the animal motifs of your name, A Deer A Horse?

The name references a Chinese idiom, ‘calling a deer a horse,’ which comes from a story involving Zhao Gao, an adviser for the Qin Dynasty, who tested the loyalty of court members by presenting them with a deer and calling it a horse to see who would challenge him. It’s actually a pretty sinister story — he then had everyone who disagreed with him executed.

What forceful events lent inspiration to the song, “Gunpoint”?

The song is really rooted in a general feeling of frustration, both in personal relationships and in the current political climate. The personal side of it relates to feeling trapped in a relationship, being on the precipice of breaking out and mustering the will to let go. But it’s also about the fact that everyone around our age is pretty sick of hearing that times have changed, that things are a mess, that it’ll never be like the ‘good old days.’ The song is sort of a ‘fuck you’ to that nostalgia. Like, can we actually confront the time that we live in now, rather than harping on a rose-tinted past.

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[Rebecca Satellite of A Deer A Horse, photographed by Maryanne Ventrice at Glasslands.]

How do the two of you go about drafting up and sketching out your songs?

I tend to bring in the shells of songs — like basic verse/chorus/bridge ideas — in varying stages of completion. We’ll jam on the basic form, while writing new parts and workshopping [sic] it until we’ve solidified the final form.

From the Patience EP to the upcoming split, what have the two of you discovered about your own respective talents and synergy?

I used to come in with completely fleshed out material for the band to try. We would re-work the songs a little bit but it really wasn’t until we wrote “Terrible Two” that we truly attempted to collaborate on arrangements or writing riffs together. I think we compliment each other because Angela comes from an instrumental perspective, while I’m always thinking with a songwriter’s ear. We’ve been working together consistently for four years now and we like to joke that this is the longest relationship either of us have ever had. But it’s true that in order for there to be a safe and open space to create in, you have to love and trust the other person enough to be vulnerable. We’re also really lucky to have our new drummer, Dylan, on board. He brings something very grounding to the group that frees us up to push the songs into new places.

What artists and group are you both listening to a lot of right now?

Protomartyr, Queens of the Stone Age, St. Vincent, True Widow & Courtney Barnett are really killing it right now. But let’s be real—X is, has, and always will be killing it.

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[Angela Phillips from A Deer A Horse, photographed by Maryanne Ventrice at Glasslands.]

Other recordings, collabs, releases in the works?

Other than our upcoming 7”, we’re currently writing new material that we hope will become a full length and be recorded by the end of the year. And we’re looking forward to a Northeast tour with Howth in September. Outside of A Deer A Horse, Angela plays bass for Vomitface and Rebecca just started playing guitar with a Silver Jews cover band called Sliver Juice! (Berman 4eva).

A Deer A Horse, photographed by Ben Shirai.

A Deer A Horse, photographed by Ben Shirai.

Thoughts on the future of the Brooklyn scene?

It’s hard to pinpoint a Brooklyn scene because it all seems pretty fractured to us. Because Brooklyn attracts a lot of creative people who aren’t always serious about music, it’s kind of hard to weed out the good stuff from the hyped. But we’re inspired by bands like Slothrust, Howth, Vomitface, and Wild Bore, who are working their asses off and pouring all of their limited time and resources into their bands. That’s the scene we want to see succeed: down and dirty, on their grind, brawlers.

Listen to more from A Deer A Horse via Bandcamp. Read the full feature here.

Color Palette

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From the DC act Color Palette fronted by Jay Nemeyer (who makes a sound as if he was the younger brother project to fellow DC pop denizens, Brett) dropped the single, “Seventeen”, that conjures up those awkward homecoming moments of missed affections, misunderstood feelings, and so forth. The close moments of mixed up and messed up infatuation are brought in big hooks that flip through a prom photo picture book where the gallery of schoolmates, classmates, and crushes remind the nostalgic senses of the time passed, and the precious memories kept in heard.

Tell us about the chromatic inspirations that prompted the beginning of your pop outfit, Color Palette.

In terms of inspiration — there are two things that I’ll touch on. Firstly, I find that certain musical notes, tones, vibes etc evoke certain feelings — which I then associate with particular colors. It has always been this way — it is a very emotional process. Secondly, I recorded the album in LA — many of the textures in Seventeen and other songs on the album (when it is eventually released) were heavily influenced by the city of LA (beautiful weather, gorgeous sunsets, hollywood hills, echo park, etc).

What was the story behind the making of the big bright pop coming of age anthem, “Seventeen”?

On the day that I wrote “Seventeen”, for whatever reason, I was feeling particularly nostalgic — and thinking about my first girlfriend, and the first time I fell in love. I tried to figure out chord phrasings and melodies that captured the full spectrum of emotions that one experiences while falling in love, and then parting ways for the first time.

What can you tell us about other recordings in the works?

I will be releasing a few more singles in the next couple of months, an EP in late July or August, and eventually a full 11-song album.

What are the last three things you heard that you found inspiring?

The three songs that Tame Impala have released in anticipation of their album are, in my opinion, amazing and groundbreaking: 1) “I’m a Man”, 2) “Eventually”, and 3) “Disciples”. Something about the production style, composition, and vocal melodies gets me hooked every time!

Read the full feature here.

The Hussy

Fish eye-wide lens view of The Hussy's Bobby Hussy & Heather Hussy.

Fish eye-wide lens view of The Hussy’s Bobby Hussy & Heather Hussy.

Following up with Bobby and Heather Hussy, aka The Hussy we bring youtheir anticipated new album Galore from Southpaw Records. With recent releases for Volar Records, FDH Records, with recent Nobunny and The Faint tours, Bobby and Heather’s latest offering finds them remaining true to their DIY guns of self-recording with an expanded addition of added instruments. The effect is a wider range of sound that finds The Hussy strutting their latest chops with volume and and attitude that is larger and louder than ever.

The expanded instrumental detail is heard on “Asking For Too Much” where a fuller percussion component can be heard along with the galloping thunder of guitars, reined in by Bobby and Heather’s vocals. The Hussy keep the styles shifting on “Take You Up” that rattles the vintage art school pop canons for a titular chorus that will inspire you to shake a fist and/or tambourine and sing along with eyes closed or transfixed. Heather takes over on “What I Want” in a declarative statement of desire made like one of the candy-ist pop punk songs ever, while “EZ-PZ” questions whether easy street is all it’s cracked up to be. The summer feeling of utter abandon rages onward “Made In The Shade”, as “Channeling Sprial Stairs” surprises with violins adds to Heather’s “who will you see, who will you be” mix. “Darkness” slows down The Hussy train to provide a somber reflective moment that mixes heavy guitars with traditional lamentation balladry.

Picking up where they left off, “Turning On You” doesn’t just turn you but pulls the carpet out from underneath the listener in a preemptive attack—right before they hit you with the near garage pop perfection on “Keep My Heart”. The Hussy takes a break from their quick tempo and blaze of fury with “Not The Weed” before Heather kicks along with a western boot, scoot, and deep-brain-fried electric boogie that takes over on “Luke”. Bobby and Heather chant the refrain “just go” over and over on the hit-the-highway hint of “Down That Road”, with the ‘wink-wink’ knowledge of understood and largely unspoken needs on “You Know” that ends with the turntable engine kill switch engaged. Heather then closes out the Galore show where her and Bobby bust out all their distorted noise makers to deliver a set of audio fireworks right before the Fourth of July. Cheek out our interview with Bobby Hussy.

You’ve been pretty busy as of recent with that Shawn/Digital Leather TIT 12″ co-op release for FDH / Volar Records, that Strange Mutations release for Volar, your electronic side-project Cave Curse, and then writing and recording Galore, and now with a big tour in swing. How do you manage to make all these things happen?

I’m a highly motivated dude so I try to make what I can make happen actually happen. Ha ha! I also booked and toured with Fire Retarded earlier this year in between all of that! The TIT stuff is pretty low key because it only happens when Shawn and I are in the same space, which is more often than you’d think living about eight hours away. He’s down in my second home Omaha which forces us to collaborate quickly and efficiently when we are together. We both have strong ideas and work well under pressure I think so we make it work! Shawn is hyper talented!

Galore was really seamless to make. Heather and I work so well together and can bring ideas to life instantly. We’ve been in bands together a decade now and we’ve always had a great friendship and working relationship. Heather knocked out all the drum tracks 19 or 20 songs for galore in one day at my studio space. I overdubbed the guitar, bass and vocals later in various spaces we have around Madison (a lot of my amps are spread out at various places). Many of the songs we record and finish will never even be played again because we write so many songs some just have to be used for recording and some also don’t sound quite right live when we play as a two piece. Recently we started playing with some other people and did a big show in Madison as a six piece. For tour currently we are playing as the classic duo we are known for.

Give us some stories and what sort of glorious things inspired your biggest work yet with Galore. What was it like using such an eclectic array of instruments, and arrangements, and that sort?

We really wanted to make something that lived up to just being a solid rock n roll record that hinges on pop tendencies. It’s our most elaborate but cohesive record to date I believe. We pulled out almost all the keyboards since we just made that ultra heavy synth based Split LP with Digital Leather. We played a couple shows with synth players which was fun but the spirit of this band has always been guitar based songs.

“Take You Up” is the jam, those guitars and just glistening, gorgeous, and the vocals, lyrics, total fit like a DIY take on Scottish indie power-pop nuggets from the 80s. Can you tell us about what sort of undertaking were taking up during the making of this song?

That’s probably my favorite song on the record! I’m really happy with how it came out. A couple years back I lived out in the South Bay of California and I wrote what would become the Outtro/Chorus of the song and I sat on it for like three years. I picked it back up and came up with the guitar hook and then the verse melody was just me playing around with my voice. Heather liked how it was sounding in my demos and so we tried it out and it came out really great. Big shoutout to Madison legend Jeff Jagielo (Squarewave, The Ivory Library) for playing the lap steel on the song and bringing it into new sonic territories!

Then switching gears to your Cave Curse side, what is about the minimalist electro side that appeals to you?

It’s so different for me to do this sorta thing. Shawn Foree from Digital Leather and Todd Fink from the Faint really inspired me to make keyboard based music. I always loved gnarly stuff like the Lost Sounds but I never felt like that type of songwriting was my forte. With the Hussy everything is written on a guitar and that’s always been my main instrument. At this point we’ve recorded and released over 100 songs that heather and I wrote on guitars, it’s nice to try to do something different and experiment with audio textures. A good keyboard is so fascinating to me, they can do the impossible sometimes. I’m really partial to my Moog Sub Phatty and my Nord Lead 3. Between those two keyboards nearly any synth tone is possible and it’s fun learning the ins and outs of complicated synthesis. And the project really started out because I was living in this basement apartment we called The Cave on a futon in a hallway and had pretty much no guitar amps to record loud stuff with. I lived there with two dudes from Fire Retarded and one guy that’s in The Gonzo Rongs and now Heather Hussy, Claire, and Tyler from FRs new band Proud Parents. So I bought a nicer keyboard (Novation bass station II and then ultimately the Moog) and started working on some sorta dark wave minimal songs. Almost as an experiment. I was living in this horrible apartment and having a rough year and everything bad that happened to the roommates we’d call Cave Curse. So the project just came out of that. My roommates at the time hated hearing the single that’s ultimately coming out on Volar because I would work on it constantly. That single is probably the most work I’ve ever put into two songs in my life. It was me figuring it all out, creating a new sound in my life.

More Cave Curse news the world needs to be aware of?

Not really. I’ll just be working on the stuff in my free time. It’s not my main thing by any means. The Hussy will always be that. We are leaving for Europe to tour on the new record after this American tour. After that I’ll probably hole up for a while and write more hussy and cave curse songs. Fire Retarded is in the middle of writing and recording our second LP. We should be recording it in fall!

How have you found Cave Curse influencing the Hussy, or the Hussy informing Cave Curse?

Both are sorta just extensions of my songwriting. When I hear a cave curse song I know it would translate as a hussy song in many ways but at the same time it’s structurally sorta the same ideal and concept. Just drastically different sonically and rhythmically since its with a drum machine and not a real person dynamically approaching the song.

 

Give us the top five tour jams that are being bumped in the tour van on this trip.

Five is an unlucky number. I’ll give Ya six six six….

The Cummies, “Bullets and Aspirin” – favorite Madison band of all time
Pavement – anything and everything
Jon Wayne – the whole Texas Funeral record
Digital Leather – Anything on Infinite Sun and all the whacked out synth jams from Blow Machine.
The Minotaurs – demo recordings from this Madison upstart.
Lost Sounds – cover of Digital Leather’s “Black Flowers” from the Future Touch EP.

Exciting tour moments so far?

The show in Richmond was great! We played with Institute, Nervous Ticks and Lost Trive. I threw up like five times driving into NYC, doesn’t get more gritty than that. G. Gordon Gritty and the Nice Guys killed it in Boston! Saw my first Game Of Thrones episode in Buffalo with a new friend Jon, that was wild. Indianapolis was really fun because we played with Digital Leatger and We Are Hex, two of our favorite current bands.

Give us the latest snapshot of what the scenes are like currently in Madison, WI.

It’s really great right now! Super wild shows, really good group of kids starting tons of new bands. There’s heavy bands in the scene like Coordinated Suicides, there’s new pop bands Proud Parents and Automatically Yours, and there’s fuzz grunge bands like Dumb Vision and The Minotaurs floating around! All excellent bands doing new things. Kids really support shows nowadays too. It’s pretty awesome!

And lastly, you are always up to something cool and creative; what new things do you have up your sleeve that we should keep an ear and eye out for?

I’ve got some tricks coming for sure. New TIT that has a different sound with live drums is definitely just around the bend from being recorded. Fire Retarded’s LP number two is gonna be more blunt and traumatizing than the previous affair. Cave Curse might morph into a live thing but probably not. Never say never though. Maybe a collaboration with a friend or two making cool shit. Lots of friends to live and work with.

And obviously constant recording and evolution of The Hussy. Maybe a live tape of the Hussy when we played as a six piece and i multitracked it. Thanks for your time and keep an eye out for the tricks. TRIX GOT TRICKED. Dig!

The Hussy’s Galore is available now from Southpaw Records. Read the full feature here.

Máscaras

Máscaras basking in the light of the sun, photographed by Katie Summer.

Máscaras basking in the light of the sun, photographed by Katie Summer.

Portland based trio Máscaras present their new LP Máscara vs Máscara from Party Damage Records and Resurrection Records. Known for their work in the bands (that we could think of), Orquestra Pacifico Tropical, Ghost Ramps, Deer Or The Doe, Sun Angle, Paper/Upper/Cuts, Hats Off!, Glass Knees, Minden, GALLONS, O Bruxo!, and more—Papi Fimbres (known as Papi), Carlos Segovia (aka DC), and Theo Craig (or T-KRAY) create an instrumental storm that exists well beyond the adjective vessels of their self-described ‘maximalist indigenous psych’ tags. The collision, cooperation, collaboration and overall appreciation the band shares for one another enables Máscaras to mix a series of paints with tones unbeknownst to international tongues, and can only be seen with the ears.

Máscaras’ Máscara vs. Máscara brings an arsenal of amplified and effect-connected strings to bust up any square northwest beach party. “Burgers & Balrog” arrives on the coastal scene like a trio of luchadores who could turn a volley ball set-up into a main event. The narrative continues onward to cinematic proportions on the nomadic traveling “Desert Masks” that gives a provides a sense of adventure for traveling through dehydrated lands of sand. Things get more psyched and groovy where “City in Ruin” turns wavy like watching a metropolitan environment become reduced to the tourist attraction of abandoned temples and towers. Papi, DC, and T-KRAY can be heard building on one another’s contributions until a jame becomes a full zoo of regal sound on “Animal Prince”, right before fusing rhythm and note progressions that blends a sound of the Americas together on “NewYorican”. Máscaras almost take it wasy on “Tortoise” that moves with MPH of a content turtle slowly making his way back to a bed of sand in the warm sun. This particular side of the band is continued on “Crimson and Chrome” that features the three balancing their quixotic instrumental blend of chord shredding while keeping a feel of serenity flowing through nearly every note. As a ballad for returning back to one’s place of accustomed dwelling, “Going Home” provides the closing credits call where the three heroes slowly walk, or ride away into the bright orange horizon to seek a familiar face for sore eyes. Read our roundtable inteview with Papi, Carlos, and Theo:

Before we dive into Máscaras, I’m interested in hearing about where the intersections of your sounds come from, with everyone playing in numerous bands, projects, etc. Theo Craig, you are also known for your work in Smoke Signals, XRAY, etc…Carlos Segovia of Orquestra Pacifico Tropical, Ghost Ramps, Deer Or The Doe, etc….Papi Fimbres with Sun Angle, Paper/Upper/Cuts, Hats Off!, Glass Knees, Minden, GALLONS, O Bruxo!, and then we stop counting. Tell us a bit about this particular creative mutual appreciation that serves as the undercurrent, solidifying code of Máscars vs Máscara.

Theo: We honestly don’t make much time for Máscaras, but that might be why it works. This project started as a jam and it was rewarding in and of itself. As we’ve become a more active performing and writing collective we haven’t made much time to rehearse. We know we can rely on each other to come through and we put a lot of faith in one another. That said we’re always listening when we play and adapting to the songs and other performers in the moment.

While we have some shared influences, we do come from very different geographic, cultural and musical backgrounds. There’s some dirty, heavy stuff meeting up with prog and Latin ideas. As a musician, it has been an education to say the least.

Papi is such gregarious and loving person, he kind of invited us into his space and was open to our ideas from the get go. He really established a ZONE of mutual respect. Carlos is one of the kindest and most caring people I’ve ever met. I walked me and my partner most of the home one snowy night in Portland after a HATS OFF show. I feel like he’s always looking out for us. I feel lucky to be able to perform with two of my favorite musicians and hold those hombres in such high regard.

Papi: The intersections from our sound come straight from just opening our hearts to each other when we’re in the rehearsal space, honestly. We all come from very different backgrounds, musically speaking, but in a way they all coalesce in a raucous, harmonious way. I feel the music we play is unrelenting because we didn’t necessarily write for any one person in particular. We just played what we wanted to play at the very beginning of our musical endeavor & have stuck with that element. It just so happens that it all holds solid & makes the homies go cray!

Carlos: I think we each bring a bit of a left-field musical vision to Máscaras, we didn’t form this band and think “We’d like to add an instrumental noisy psych ensemble to Portland” It was 100% natural and unaffected, we did this out of the pure joy of playing music in each other’s presence and seeing how creative and how far we can push ourselves musically in this ensemble and this is the voice that came out the clearest out of our first rehearsals” I’m a fan of bands that can ebb and flow live and roll with the punches and I feel that’s why I love playing in Máscaras. We have arrangements for all the songs, but we have no hesitation extending parts out or improvising parts on the fly to suit our vibe that show. I tell people that playing with Papi and Theo is like getting on a rollercoaster and my job is to hang on and bring it. The album is truly a reflection of our live show, we set up and tracked and it’s a moment in time from those days captured on tape.

What is the key to trying to make succinct, instrumental jams that rarely step past the three minute mark, but are total rippers that we all know could go on for like, what…20 minutes? 40 plus minutes maybe? What is the editorial secret on distilling the volatile fusions of these instrumental fuse to these kinds of neat economies?

Theo: Papi is a no bullshit musician. I think being in so many bands makes you economical with your time for a number of reasons, but you’d probably have to ask Papi about that. Like I said before, we haven’t had much time as a group to rehearse, so we’ve had to make quick decisions about the songs in those rare moments that we’re in the practice space. Carlos & Papi have kind of a shorthand for composition and they’re really good at hacking out arrangements succinctly.

Papi: It seems to me that there has been a resurgence in the long, drawn out jams of psyche/stoner/metal schemes as of late & although I do appreciate that aspect, I get a little bored after the 10 minute mark. So, why not make songs that instantly put you right in space where you see Sun Ra & Miles Davis high-fiving each other?

Carlos: We’ve all been watching and playing music for so long that we all know we didn’t want to be the band that bores their audience after 20 minutes of a guitar solo or drum solo. We don’t ever want to be the band that bores an audience into apathy. Attention spans are notoriously difficult to maintain live with instrumental music so we made sure that they have melodies and interesting (to us at least) parts and changes. I think the freedom to improvise and the often unpredictable nature of the live shows brings a vibe that is different than any other band I’ve played in. And all that is present in our writing process and making sure that the songs that write and perform would be songs that we’d be stoked about if we were in the audience.

I understand Papi is headed toward Germany, and was wondering what creative-collaborative adjustments will be made, and how will you all be keeping this whole international, indigenous, maximalist psych going, and getting it out to the world?

Theo: We’re planning on touring Germany and perhaps more of Europe while Papi’s out there. Back home, Carlos and I plan to get together on the regular to jam and write songs. We’ll send the ‘good ideas’ to Papi for inspiration and see what comes of it. I think we’ll come out of it with even stronger material.

Papi: My wife and I are headed to Germany to continue our musical studies under the guise DRECKIG. I wanna really trip the fuck out over there and join weird jazz bands and kraut noise dudes. I already have a few bands waiting for me in Leipzig, so that’s awesome. Eventually, Máscaras will join me in Germany and we’ll tour all around Northern Europe & other places that want us to play (this is where if you’re reading this in Germany or anywhere in Europe & want us to play your bar mitzvah, just holler!).

Carlos: Theo and I are planning on new material and sending them via internet to Papi and that way we can keep the creative ideas going back and forth. We do plan on bringing Máscaras to Europe next year and expanding our reach as much as possible. I wouldn’t rule out a few new songs written or finished over there if we can find a rehearsal spot while Theo and I are there.

Other groups that you all don’t play in (but maybe would like to?), but are really into right now?

Theo: La Luz, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Summer Cannibals, Bitchin’, Ty Segall….

Carlos: In Portland I’m always into Sun Angle (hint hint), my friends in Months have a killer new record coming out soon and I can’t wait to hear what magic Boone Howard will conjure in the studio.

Summer and Fall plans for Máscaras?

Theo: We’re touring the west coast and parts of Canada. This will be our first time touring together as Máscaras and I’m really looking forward to playing for some new audiences & with some of our favorite bands!

Papi: I’m throwing a one day, free, all ages fest on a 30 acre farm just outside of Portland called Homie Fest. A ton of rad bands that we all love including, Bitch’n, Talkative, And And And, Minden, Aan, Yeah Great Fine & The Ghost Ease, whom I FUCKING LOVE! Look them up. But a ton of other all rad homie bands…

Carlos: Summer will bring two tours and Homie Fest, Fall will bring a little travel and working on other projects.

Máscaras’s album Máscara vs Máscara is available now from Party Damage Records and Resurrection Records. Read the full feature here.

Crown Plaza

crown plaza week in pop 1

Turning back the clocks to the summer of 2012, Nima Kazerouni introduced us to what was at the time a humble solo side project called Crown Plaza that was born out of recordings made in an LAX office. At the time his band So Many Wizards had just released the lauded album Warm Nothing full of transcendent testaments whereas Crown Plaza provided an even closer intimate portrayal of Kazerouni’s own experiences, ruminations, migrations, discontinuity of relationships and more through lo-fi tapes recorded straight from the heart. Fast forward ahead from the Chem Waves Volume 1 EP, and a smattering of demos; Crown Plaza has become a full band where Nima is joined by Martin Tomemitsu Roark, Christina Gaillard, and James Roehl that continues forth in the spirit of those initial recordings of observing the arrivals and departures of people and places in the multifaceted terminals of life.

Which brings us to the world premiere of Crown Plaza’s Christophe Smith made video for “LGO (Life Goes On)”, where pondered thoughts on the circles of life are brought to animated art forms that bridge sea and sky with the motion of shapes, colors, designs, and more that paints together metaphors and mythologies that pertain to the origins and cycles of life. Christophe—a good friend of Nima’s—mixes media of video that captures the ripple of waves and clouds while mixing mediums of inks, paints, pencil, and a continuously spinning plate. Matching in time to the personal reflections made on “LGO” about family, love, and recognizing the temporal nature of the moment; Smith’s visuals involve swirls of human figures, to enchanted creatures, polka dot rain fall, life in utero, to moving mandalas that portray the secret lives of plants, and the budding of a bouquet’s worth of flowers. Just as everything in “LGO” is centered around the cycles of experiences where the past and future are what they are and the experiences of being present in the here and now take on an eternal, crystallized quality heard in Nima’s refrain of “it’s so unreal…” Crown Plaza’s audio dynamics on “LGO” rattle and hum in a “Tomorrow Never Knows” mystery tour where the understanding of time, place, and pertinence is cast into a metaphysical-like notion where the greatest importance is paced on the ineffable magic of the moments that are next to impossible to return after time itself sets sail. Read our recent interview with Crown Plaza frontman Nima Kazerouni.

Looking back at the humble Crown Plaza beginnings (holed up in an LAX office recordings, recordings in transitions between homes, and such)—from being a
So Many Wizards side, to a full on phenomenon that now has it’s own share of side projects, and while you have been hopping around through more bands & endeavors than we can count. What are your own thoughts on the span of time, and changes that have been witnessed from the beginning of Crown Plaza’s inception to now?

Man time is so fleeting. Starting Crown Plaza in that LAX office seems like only yesterday but it’s been 3 years. Bouncing back and forth from Tucson to LA while transitioning into the amazing world of fatherhood and continuing the crazy life of music with all the different new projects could have a persons head spinning. Thankfully I’ve learned to keep the center constant and trust in my core passions. I have so much love for everyone since the Crown Plaza one-man-show who’s come to partake in this crazy world of mine. Thank you all for letting me be me.

Feels like “LGO (Life Goes On) is your own George Harrison All Things Must Pass kinda moment, especially with lyrics like this:

cause life goes on
life goes all around you
life goes on
with or without you…

Even your band So Many Wizards has had these motifs rolling about lately like the single “Everybody Goes Away”. What is it about these cycles of transitions that continue to teach us so much creatively, personally, etc?

It’s such a humbling experience to go through life’s transitions with people constantly coming and going. Life really does continue no matter what the situation. Learning to love this and embrace it is the the only way to go. Portraying anger and frustration with songs like “everybody goes away.” is also super necessary. It’s all part of the process of acceptance and “LGO” is also on that spectrum albeit coming from the other side.

crown plaza week in pop 2

The “LGO (Life Goes On)” video from Christophe Smith of an animated turning circle of evolving designs, & drawings super imposed over backgrounds of slowly ripping water translates the song’s intimate reflections and hushed tones. Kinda feel like there is a whole visual ancient Mesopotamian creation myth interpretation at work that provides a beautiful overlay to lyrics like:

While I lay in bed
I imagine looking back
to when I’m old and grey
to this very day
to Nico sleeping next to me
to Vera laughing as Bree makes a face.

Thoughts on what the video means to you about “LGO”?

Christophe is such an amazing artist and visual human being. I’ve known him since I was an adolescent skateboarding doing hood rat stuff together and he’s always blown my mind with his art. The dude really gets me and he really did do the song justice. I absolutely loved how he portrayed those transformations while super imposing all the different mediums together. The images line up with the lyrics perfectly. Definitely moved me the first time I saw it. Everyone should check out his other art at christophesmithgallery.com.

What else are you and Martin Tomemitsu Roark cooking up next?

Martin and I are actually putting the finishing touches on the Crown Plaza debut full length that we recorded at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio in DTLA. This will be the first Crown Plaza full band recordings with Christina Gaillard on drums / backup vocals and James Roehl on lead guitar. Can’t wait for this…before this comes out, there’s a split 7” that will come out with our dear friends Winter on Danger Collective Records.

Christina Gaillard contributing Crown Plaza vocals, with Martin Tomemitsu at the audio controls.

Christina Gaillard contributing Crown Plaza vocals, with Martin Tomemitsu at the audio controls.

The unreleased Crown Plaza demos you have played for me and sent over are incredible. Will they too see the light of day?

There’s just so many demos…What do I do with all of them? They definitely need to see the light of day and I promise they will somehow.

Give us updates from all the bands, and projects you’re apart of right now:
Nectarine is finishing the first proper studio EP recordings. Can’t wait for this.
Human Touch will be going on tour in August and will be releasing more singles soon and an album early next year. So Many Wizards plays the amazing Lolipalooza Festival Saturday June 28 and will have the sophomore follow up album, Heavy Vision out in the fall.

What are you most excited about in Echo Park and the LA scenes, and elsewhere right now?

Lolipop Records is killing it right now and continues to grow and extend their reach far and beyond. So excited to be part of that community. Nicest and most humble people ever. So refreshing to see.

Can you leave us with some parting words of wisdom?

One day when I was sitting on the bed in Tucson with Bree, Vera (my newly born daughter), and my dog Nico (rest in paradise), I had this overwhelming realization that moments like this were fleeting and they would soon be just a faint memory. To appreciate the moment 10 fold, I pretended silently that the moment I was experiencing was actually a gift that someone in the future gave to me by allowing me to travel back in time to that very day. I pretended as if I hadn’t seen my dog or that room for decades and it made me feel that moment so much more intensely with even more appreciation than I even thought I ever could. That’s the way we need to see our everyday. Life is passing us by so fast with or without our attention and most people are asleep at the wheel —”LGO”.

Read the full feature here.

Pleasers

Pleasers from left; Ben, Matthew, and Julian.

Pleasers from left; Ben, Matthew, and Julian.

The following artist who has continued to grace the pages and servers of Impose now for years hardly needs an introduction. You know him from his sounds that mark the dusty southwest trails from Oakland to Austin, Bare Wires, Warm Soda, Fuzzy City Recordings, and the proliferation of his solo work — Matthew Melton presents his newest side project Pleasers, along with the premiere of “Reject Teen” that commands the the breadth of a Fast Times at Ridgemont High tale of youth in rebellion distilled into a two and a half minute catchy, peppy, and poppy single. Like the Fuzz City sanctified school of scuzz and all analog everything; Melton does not disappoint and gives you an alternate cult universe rawer and stranger than his current and past projects available later this summer on the debut 7″ from Southpaw Records.

Pleasers’ “Reject Teen” takes us back to the tough years of school daze where rebelling against the authoritative powers is the order of the day. Matthew spits his tale of youthful ne’er-do-wells underscored by the choppy guitar rhythms, backed by Ben on bass, and Julian on drums. The vintage garage sound of power pop and anarchic punk ethics are put in full form, where Melton makes an ode to the rejected rebels without cause or pause who look to others discarded by society and the school system to find each other only to ultimately own up to their own individuality. Melton relishes in the problem child paradigm in a meta-narrative of skipping class to smoke grass in the bathroom, discreet under the desk handies, blowouts with parents, and other failed relationships add up to the climax that finds the prep school engulfed in the flames by the end that carries out the attitude of “School’s Out For Summer” in a more succinct, sleazier, and scuzzier manner. For more hi-jinx, bad behavior, and leather jacket bravado; be sure to check out our following latest interview with the great Matthew Melton.

What pleasing events brought about the dawning of Pleasers?

When I moved to Austin, it only made sense to team up with my old buddy Ben Tipton and start a punk band. He is also the guy who could be held responsible for inspiring me to move to Austin in the first place ! A true rock-n-roller, proud to know the guy.

What sounds for you have been pleasing to your ears?

Kill City.

What pleased you the most about the making of the this EP, and with this side project?

Well Julian didn’t mess up as much as we thought he was going to, so that was cool. I have always recorded everything myself so it was really chill, we just got some tacos and Bud Lights and did it at my house.

pleasers week in pop 1

As someone with such a distinct ear for these analogous sounds, how do you know when a sound is ready with the Matthew Melton / Fuzz City Studios sound?

If you have to ask you’ll never know! Seriously though, its pretty easy, I just kind of mic everything up and try to get a good vibe going in the room and then add slap back on everything.

Tell us about what other cool projects you’re working on right now, you’re always up to something cool!

Well I have written the new Warm Soda album and its going to be a bit more psychedelic than the first three I think, but you never know how its going to come out. I’m also starting a group with my wife Doris that is going to be really cool and different. I have a new solo album that’s in the works as well that is coming out on Southpaw Records that is going to be interesting as well!

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Thoughts on the future of real, raw, pure, independent rock and roll?

Rock and roll is here to stay. I try to stay living in the present as much as possible. If you worry too much about what everything is building up to it might stunt your intentions and that’s way less mystical than human beings actually should be. Punks just aren’t psychedelic enough nowadays. It seems we have lost touch with our instincts and keep trying to create this new future world when what we really need to do is just go with the flow and stop trying to be like everyone else.

Pleasers’ debut is available now from Southpaw Records. Read the full feature here.

Pangs

Introducing Pangs; photograph by Hunter Dixon.

Introducing Pangs; photograph by Hunter Dixon.

We premiered Nudity’s “Supernatty” a while back because the Nashville group made one of most instantaneous songs one could ever hope or wish for. The economic DIY use of available electronic instruments and direct hit of hooks create unusual ear worms that wriggle themselves deep within the places in the psyche that archive and chronicle sound sequences heard in the past and their corresponding responses, associative feelings, etc. And now today we are pleased to welcome back Michelle and the gang under the moniker of Pangs, who just released their debut single “Already Dead”, and a cover of Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World”. And like the aforementioned execution precision found with Nudity, Pangs sets out to be the literal pang that occurs on a near physiological level from within the being of the listener that experiences a host of reactions caused via audio ingestion.

Pangs hits the ground running on “Already Dead” that is versed in the greatest of pop singles that have ever ran the three minute mile model. The life and death continuum conventions are discarded for the existential cosmic paths of connections, conceptions of the self and others that are all star-crossed in perpendicular maneuvers across an astral plane graph. “You and me are make-believe, all in your head, already dead…space is the place, not the land of the living.” The weirdness that flows between people is put to big stage stomping rhythm keys, hyped up percussion mechanics, an aura where every note carries an alluring appeal, expertly handled by Michelle’s bold and beautiful delivery, and Nick Bennett’s production. “Whole Wide World” takes the 1977 original and spruces up the mod pep patches with Pangs pop twists that turns everything into a plugged-in/switched-on affair where every chord and progression couplet is conveyed through the swiftest possible vehicle of audio abilities. Check out our following interview with Michelle from Pangs / Nudity.

From Nudity to Pangs, what sorts of visionary pop pangs came into play for the creation of this solo outlet?

Pangs is just another outlet for us. Beginnings are always fun. There’s no history. So let’s just see!

“Already Dead” is a real existential electrified jam, what sorts of life and death like scenarios informed it?

I try to write the type of songs I like to listen to and lyrically those can be veiled; enough to trigger whatever creative response from the listener. That’s heavy, where somebody hears your words and gets to build something personally significant from them. It’s a deep connection if you can make it. All the same we like really literal songs too.

“Already Dead” is just one of those phrases that you can start off with and it kind of writes the rest. We dug in from there.

Tell us too about the universally seeking modes that informed “Whole Wide World”.

That’s a song you wish you could write. It’s by Wreckless Eric; one of the first things he did for Stiff Records as a single in 1977. I think his was produced by Nick Lowe who played bass on it too. It’s just two chords and a fuck-off perfect melody all in a snarling jangly three minutes. It’s also funny, poignant, naïve and wise all at once. Unbeatable. But you try anyway.

Michelle from Pangs / Nudity; photographed by Sarah Plotkin.

Michelle from Pangs / Nudity; photographed by Sarah Plotkin.

Latest cool things and happenings in Nashville right now?

Nashville is growing and changing faster than I can ever remember. We’re drawn to most anyone doing genuine work here because it feels immune to any current identity upheaval. And that feels like our old Nashville. There’s long been a sort of unapologetic anti-pretension here that the best elements just innately adhere to. These are the resilient street-level kids, heads down doing good work; civic issues, art, all of it. Sometimes I wonder if I’d recognize Nashville without them. I hope I don’t find out.

So far as music goes here lately, check out the electronic/”experimental” — whatever that means — scene: Hobbledions, Sugar Sk*_*lls and Coupler are a few. There’s a rapper called Mike Floss (formerly Openmic) who’s doing damn good work with producer Ducko McFli. We’re glad this stuff is happening alongside Nashville’s thriving rock and punk scenes, if not getting quite the attention.

Other releases in the works from Pangs, EPs, LPs, collaborations, and the like?

Yeah more songs are coming. They might be way different than this set. It’s not deliberate but each time we get in the studio with a new song it dictates its own style and we just get out of the way to make it happen. So there might be some grimy punk shit and then some really pop stuff and who knows what else. I think that somehow in 2015 that still fucks with some people’s perceptions and scenes. We’re not trying to but, if that’s the result, so be it. We just want to stay busy and be fearless.

We would love to collaborate. There’s so much room to get outside your own head with music. It’s always an attractive prospect especially after writing and recording something all by yourself. Each process has its allure so the ideal is having connections and collaborations when you want them and plenty of solo work to do when that’s where you are. Yeah we’d love to work with people, hit us up!

Top five most exciting things you have heard lately?

Colleen Green, “Pay Attention”

QT, “Hey QT”

Part Time, “Pussy Of My Dreams”

Holly Waxwing, Peach Winks

Fielded, “REIGN”

Pangs’ debut single “Already Dead” b/w “Whole Wide World” is available now via Bandcamp. Read the full feature here.

Konig

konig week in pop

Checking in with Toronto’s ever prolific independent scenes, we found the work of Nadia Pacey, otherwise known as Konig who debuted the meloncholy flicker and glow of “Candle”. On the heels of her recent single, “How I Feel” from her album Puberty via Yellow K Records; Nadia confesses cares in a frame of mind that brings to the surface the latent feelings held over from the awkward times of adolescence that impact the time, events, and episodes that span from that time to the present. A film degree graduate from Ryerson University class of 2014 who works at a theater, known to draft prose, and song—Pacey conveys the bottled up reflections left over from relationships passed, and finds a way to collect the chaos from the troubled teenage years in a musical order designed like the thematic music modeled for a movie heroine’s presence heard throughout the film’s soundtrack.

“Candle” burns from the wick in an evocative synth array between sparse notes set at the foreground of a deep amber key-sustained canvas. Nadia reveals reserved heart wound connections to a former lover that plays out like a candid moment of emotional solace observed like a wallflower at prom walking and dancing by herself while gazing into the windows of the gymnasium, “watching all the dances done…and always doing none.” Konig displays vulnerabilities on her sleeve in a slow dance that imagines herself like a candle who burns brighter on account of the lighter who stokes the fire through synergistic synthesis of chemical bonds. Pacey keeps her light twinkling in a sad, wistful way that mulls through the losses of the past while slowly swaying solo toward a keyboard sparkling passage of her own creation. Konig, aka Nadia Pacey joined us for the following insightful conversation.

When did Konig begin as a solo musical vehicle for you?

I started writing music as Konig the summer of 2013. I’d made an album’s worth of shitty songs with Garageband on an iPad before my boyfriend at the time introduced me to Logic and midi controllers – a total eye opener. That month I visited my family in Kingston, Ontario, for the first time in quite a while and spent the bulk of my stay by myself. During the visit I almost exclusively listened to Crystal Castles’ first two albums and Unbroken by Demi Lovato. One morning I went out for a run by myself and was shocked at how eerie my neighborhood was at 6am. I ran home and wrote my first proper song in Logic, but didn’t release anything until about a year later — I was super shy. I’d only written music on the guitar and piano, and for a band, up until that point.

How did this coming of age focus approach inform the album Puberty?

Well, I didn’t really think of it as a ‘coming-of-age’-type project until I’d finished a bunch of songs already. I’ve been in a weird place for the past couple of months where I feel like a melodramatic teenager. I’m basically in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. It is almost total garbage. A lot of things happened during the production to help solidify that: I went through a massive break up; moved back to my hometown; became best friends with my mom; rekindled friendships from high school. On occasion I’ll have strange moments with high school crushes that I used to worship… I spend a lot of time being embarrassing about 16-year-old Nadia. Also being embarrassed about 23-year-old Nadia, let’s be real.

Those garbage feelings really informed the music in a huge way since they’re pretty much all I write about, so thematically the songs just fit together. Also, after I did realize that I was going through a period of “growth,” it allowed me to give myself leave to be as juvenile and dark as my heart desired. I may never stop, as it is pretty freeing.

What for was the process like of making the personal, “Candle”?

There was a period of a few weeks when I was sleeping on my friend Graham’s couch (Graham is, as a result, a featured personality on the album) and didn’t have a computer to write music with. At one point my ex let me borrow his laptop (he is a great guy). I used the laptop keyboard instead of a midi-controller for the music, and the vocal was recorded on the Macbook microphone. Whether or not I was hungover is open to debate, but I was definitely sad at the time. There was a little while during the editing stage where I got into a habit of crying every time I’d get to the end of the song. Have I driven the point home that I was a mess? I was a mess.

How would you describe your own musical steps of progression in a behind-the-music documentary sort of way?

It depends on the day. I tend go for a walk for a bit, then usually a short poem pops into my head, usually the length of a verse. That comes with a melody, so I type the verse up on my phone, then record an a cappella version while I walk around. I go home, make a beat. I match the aforementioned lyrics with the music I made if they feel right together. Often times they don’t, so I’ll use other lyrics I’ve recently written if I like the music, or I just do something new. I’ll have a complete song in about seven to ten hours, plus or minus some time based on whether or not my surrounding environment is noisy, somebody speaks to me, dinner happens, or if the number of smoke and pee breaks are many. I come back to the music over the course of subsequent weeks to do needed additions or edits — this tends to happen between three to six times.

Toronto always has so many cool artists and movements happening, was wondering what you are really excited about right now in your local vicinity?

I have spent a lot of time in my various rooms lately, I’ll say that now, but I get really, really excited whenever my friends do stuff. I know a lot of super talented people. Everyone should listen to Nicole Dollanganger and LUKA, and any music touched by Steven Foster. The man is a talent. Also, The Laser Blast Film Society is great – this week at the Royal Cinema in Toronto they’re doing an event called What The Film Festival. The guys who do Laser Blast really know how to program an evening. They don’t make bad choices, and screen VHS gold on the regular.

Other thoughts on what has been informing your recent sounds as of late?

Graham would constantly play great music in his living room while I stayed there. I listened to some stuff I’d never really listened to before. Most of it was old jazz, but Graham is actually a music library containing a vast knowledge that he’s super modest about. Music for weeks, literally. (In response, I tried to convert him to Kanye. Graham wasn’t having it but he had some great insights about the screams in “I Am A God”.) That and I’ve been having very real, in-depth conversations with people, and sometimes I like to write down their quotes. A friend of mine on his ex: ‘If both of us knew each other now, one of us would have to die.’ A cab driver of his wife who he hates: ‘She’s acting like a king-lady.’

Other artists you are really fascinated by right now?

Well, the extent of my fascination with artists themselves doesn’t extend much beyond their Wikipedia pages, YouTube interviews and music videos. I feel like I don’t delve into their personalities, just their albums (but are these one and the same? Whoooooa.) and the way those albums are constructed. Lately I’ve been listening to Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave, Sufjan Stevens’s Carrie & Lowell, Kanye West’s Yeezus, Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die, a collection of Otis Redding’s greatest hits (I’ve been meaning to sit down with a proper album) and Taylor Swift’s 1989. Last week I discovered Spazzkid through a Buzzfeed video and bought Desire 願う. I recommend going to a Tim Horton’s and listening to 40 Winks while watching the slow motion food ads they play on their menu. You can really lose yourself.

Next moves for Konig?

Next moves, not necessarily in this order: I’m signing with Yellow K Records for Puberty’s release! We’ll be putting it out on cassette together. I did a job interview at Value Village on Saturday, but I don’t think I got it (currently Konig daylights as a jobless bum who lives with her parents), and I’ve applied to Starbucks. I just read Streetcar Named Desire. I plan to go to a used book store to find Cat On A Hot Tin Roof or The Glass Menagerie, and also Meals In Minutes by Jamie Oliver.

Konig’s Puberty is available from Yellow K Records. Read the full feature here.

The Longshots

The Longshots strike again.

Fort Worth, Texans The Longshots returned with their green pressed Mucho Mango 7″ for Mock Records, and now join us for a round of conversation. With a title that borrows from Carl Jung’s idea of “the unconscious acting against the wishes of the conscious mind;” the clash of consciousnesses collects with special effects-enhanced images of the band idling about about with hyper interspersed images of vintage video clips, and GIFs. The gang of Joey Gorman, Alex Zobel, Kris Luther, Brady Hamilton combine together all the energy of their fun fringe riot rock with a visual blend that finds The Longshots kicking it local, hanging out in home studios, lending performance clips, home grooming, calisthenics, and more codes of mischievous disorderly conduct.

The Longshots’ “Enantiodromia” video begins with the home studio headphones being placed squarely on the ears as the heavy wattage can be heard being switched on. After the band’s name, and song title appear on-screen; a host of subtle analog VHS effects are introduced to the equation as the video takes on a frantic frame rate pace that accelerates ahead off the assertion of raw individualism found in the throat belted “I wanna do what I wanna do” lyrical ethos. A mixture of new and old video footage intertwines footage of the band hanging about Forth Worth with found clips that together create an ADHD ad council PSA advisory with random buzzwords that appear with words like THINK, ACT, CARE, CARCINOGENIC, MELT FACE, and more. Edited images that look ripped straight from cable public access programs, obscure ads, exercise sessions, and other random routines move together at the speed of “Enantiodromia” that break down the barriers between the conscious faculties in a snarling stew that is rigorously stirred by The Longshots’ fun for fun’s sake style. Read our lively roundtable interview with Joey Gorman, Alex Zobel, Kris Luther, Brady Hamilton, and director Squanto—aka Rickey Wayne Kinney.

First up, give us the latest from Ft. Worth, TX. What’s been good there lately? What’s keeping ya’ll entertained?

Joey: Around this time of year, the heat/vibe complex starts to feel a lot like the movie The Sandlot.

And when ‘It’s too hot to play baseball, Benny’

…I usually turn to Mexican Cola as well. But personally I usually try to keep my balls out of the Beast’s back yard. I smoke too much weed on top of having no PF flyers…to be dealing with a blind Darth Vader’s mad dog. That’s the best way I can articulate summer in Fort worth.

But straight up — we’ve been recording our sophomore full length Inhaler since February focusing very intimately with it. everything has been pretty much leading up to this 7″ release with Mock! which actually officially happened June 16 — the exact day we finished mixing in the studio ha ha…etc etc. We work really damn hard as a band — for the band — but mainly due to giving a shit about each other as much as we can, plus we rarely commit much thinking to the M.O.s of others.

In short; recording, recording, recording going on. Enjoying tactical planning, rock n roll, and mother fucking “True Detective”!

Brady: Fort Worth is the best. There are so many people here that are creating in one way or another. Great food, art, music, beers. Shout out to Don Carmen Pupuseria: Pupusa’s for a buck, and the mystery juice is free. Pool games and people at the Boiled Owl and The Grotto keep me entertained…at least, when my lady’s not around.

Luther: Tacos Ernestos!

Walk us through the experiences, and raucous adventures that went on during the making of your self-titled for Mock Records, to the new follow-up with “Mucho Mango” b/w “Enantiodromia”.

Luther: The first album was us realizing we were actually a band. Then we just kept being a band. I played drums on that record. I don’t play drums so eventually I didn’t have to. Now I play bass. Yeah, we just keep being a band.

Joey: Yeah, Luther’s answer is where the nut meets the nutshell.

I mean all we knew is that we dug being around each other, we could rip it apart and nail it to the cross if we had to…

and we had to…

Like vigilante justice, without it’s own drum set ha ha. Yeah, I mean cool shit went down — possibly even sexy or illegal things or something? Ha ha. But I mean Joe Walsh destroying a hotel room or David Lee Roth still trying to sing after whatever horseshit he has drug himself through…cant just be put on tab anymore. Axl Rose-types eventually filled or killed everyone’s appetite for destruction. When we discuss the stigma of rock n roll, Zobel often quotes Thom Yorke’s philosophy — that pretty much just goes to say…”if I want to REALLY wig out within my art and make it as crazy as the things I feel and see, my life…surroundings…relationships…or even fucking protocol should be taken care of.. calm.”

How else can one shred ’til dead? Yeah Iggy and Keith and their species don’t abide — but they honestly probably always had their shit together… shit wasted-homeless-withdrawing…even during that. Something about the soul of rock n roll VS the idea/flash/bullshit will always prevail. If you truly know its a longshot and that it is so unlikely to go down the way you think — is the only way to truly face it, match it, and beat it. they are just odds after all.

Brady: I joined the group as the guys prepared a tour to promote the self-titled album. The tour was our opportunity to bond and become a family. “Mucho Mango” and “Enantiodromia” (formerly titled “Mother Fucker”) were written right before we took to the road, and they reflect where we were musically when we first started playing together. Recording this 7-inch was a breeze thanks to our familiarity with the songs and (producer) Jordan Richardson’s seasoned abilities in the studio. It has a different sound than the self-titled release, just as the next thing we release will further evolve into something of its own.

Like the name of the b-side, what sorts of Carl Jungian principles of superabundant forces that inevitably produce the opposite are at work here on this wild rollercoaster of a song?

Zobel: Okay well let me start with some context. I used to think being a song writer was what I was all I wanted to be. I thought getting better and better at the craft of writing songs and playing in bands was the answer to all my questions. As good as I got at it, I began to see how it was failing me. I wanted to be an artist not just a songwriter and performer. Not just a member of a band or a convenient screen for others to project their fantasies and ideas of what being in a rock band must be like. The problem is people don’t want that anymore. People think they want their rock and rollers to be hard drinking womanizers but they don’t. They just want some REAL shit. I could write you songs or tell you stories about the times I did absurd drugs and found myself in bizarre predicaments but nobody would care because it’s not REAL shit. And yeah I did do way more of those things than any human should be able to, but nobody cares or should because I was being a fake asshole. I wasn’t being real, or progressive or interesting or avant-garde. I could tell you a million “raucous stories” about how we made this music and the kind of people we were but I think it would be boring. Times are changing and people want to hear about an artist not the rock and roll exploits and clichés of some neo-garage-rock/boy-band blind faith shit. Truth is you don’t need to create a single piece of art for anyone else for the rest of your life to be an artist. My life is my art. I am my work. Just living and being your authentic self is much more interesting than shoving some rehashed rock and roll narrative down other people’s throats. Don’t think about what to do but how to be. Fall in love all the time. Don’t try. Just be. Have fun.

Brady:

The grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil – Carl Jung

To me, this song allows Zobel to depict his most extreme side, allowing him to see it and eventually face it.

Luther: That song was a riff that Zobel and I have had for years, tried with other bands, couldn’t place it, got drunk and said fuck it and made it what it is. Other than l It speaks for itself really.

Joey: The night this song started/finished the writing process (as brady mentioned, this song’s original title was “Mother Fucker” (you heard it first on Impose! Ha ha) was one of the only practices I’ve ever missed…. and I live where we practice. So maybe that’s an example of a Jungian Principle.

But as far as our souls and attitudes go…the vibe of the shift is almost completely transparent. Accountability via love, not protocol. Thinking about what you say before you say it. Not to buffer it, but to MEAN it. Yes the song was written as fast as an exhale and feels like a furious one at that. But we’ve learned OUR meaning of originality under the umbrella fact that nothing is new under the sun. Basically, punk rock is going through a tune up. The whole ‘fuck you, fuck the world, fuck the government’ approach is exhausted-its just a bunch of general feelings and questions that have been sensationalized instead of answered or thought about…. rock n roll….punk rock w/e …when it was Little Richard destroying a piano while playing it… kicking it and shit…I’d say that was punk as fuck. Years later Elvis’ hips took the ‘awe factor’ of raw human passion alongside an ignorant industry that easily manufactured and capitalized on an ‘idea’… yeah I mean “Enantiodromia” (the song) is an idea you cant catch it, you cant control it. It will hunt far before it is hunted!

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Tell us about Squanto’s directorial debut with the ultra-ADHD video for “Enantiodromia”. What was the making of this chaotic collage like?

[BAND DISCLAIMER***(So the PEOPLE know, ‘Squanto’ is mainly Rickey Wayne Kinney’s alias for his insanely SPOT ON music project…it’ll fuck you up]

Why don’t we let the Doctor tell you himself….

Squanto: Alright.. so

The video was made in app on an Apple iPhone 6. Using several different photography, GIF, and video fx apps. In addition the process was a magnification of body language…the movements people make are silly…even when they are to be portrayed as serious if you look closely enough you can see them speaking to themselves.. That’s what I tried to grab and punctuate with exclamation. Because in effect when one tries hard enough for something. Like any physics teacher will tell you there is an equal and opposite reaction…that opposition is an “enantiodromia” as a reflection of the human psyche. Basically I looked at two birds fucking and I thought ‘that’s gross’ and then I thought ‘why? It’s just nature replicating it’s self.’

…and then I made a music video.

Joey: I just loved getting texts at three am saying shit like, “Joey — I need you to film the other guys exercising in place with the same quality camera as your deodorant scene” which was great because A) we’d all be focused on new songs in the studio the next day so interrupting someone else’s thought process to be filmed doing jumping jacks was too much ha ha. B)the guys had no idea where it was going other than to Rickey and that we all knew he could finalize this idea for a song — visually — better than anyone

It was one of the coolest fucking experiences one can have using all the Orwellian technology so to speak…its really just amazing tools of creativity and communication that we can use to uh….make music videos good again….then who knows, maybe NASA gets refunded.

Brady: I had seen some short clips he had done and agreed with Joey that this guy could make a rad video for us. It was simple for me, having someone record me for one minute, doing simple yet effective stretches and exercises. The rest was all Squanto.

Luther: I don’t know, I’m just the most proud of Rickey “Squanto” Kinney. I’m glad he’s sharing his crazy awesome brain with the world. We’d be at the studio and joey would just film me smoking a cigarette and then chasing him in a front yard or something? and Rickey made it look insane. Also some guy in the stock footage looks like Joe Peschi, and I share a birthday with him.

the longshots week in pop 3

What is the significance in the video of the onscreen words in the video, from CARCINOGENIC, THINK, ACT, BOOM DEODERIZED to MELT FACE?

Joey: Its a fever dream. kind of created to strike up questions that no one can answer. we just woke up from that dream too every time we see it. maybe they connect to form some magic spell which brings upon totality. Or maybe somebody took some “feel goods” and made a video even Beavis and Butthead wouldn’t sit silently for.

Luther: I think it’s totally open to interpretation.

Brady: In both the song and the video, there is so much going on in such little time. Using a visual reference of flashing random words quickly, almost subconsciously at the audience, helps to tie everything together so the viewers brain can understand what is happening. At least what’s happening for them…

Other local acts and artists you all want to give a shout out to?

Joey: Today Friday, July 3 is my little brother’s twenty-third birthday, the cover of the 7″ is a photo of my great grandfather at a Claybourne, TX farmer’s market in the 1960s, so shout out to him, to bloodlines, to fucking family!

Jake Paleschic, (go listen to him right now), The Cloudy Collective

Son of Stan (brainchild of Jordan Richardson who produced this 7″ and our full length)

Toy Gun, Fungi Girls, Bummer Vacation

Shadows of Jets (fronted by Taylor Tatsch who recorded the album we finished when this one was released)

The whole Dreamy Life crew! (literally keeping Fort Worth oh so funky) keeping fort worth oh so funky)

& every single person associated with our label/family — Mock Records.

the best indie label in the US.

Brady: Yeah, man Everybody. The scene is deep right now. All different kinds of stuff coming out. Much love to Big Mike, Secret Ghost Champion, Keegan Mcinroe, Son of Stan, Quaker City Night Hawks, Bummer Vacation, Taylor Tatsch, Oil Boom, Jake Paleschic, and the over night sensation, Leon Bridges, out there taking over the world with Fort Worth on his back. And of course my buddies in Chucho.

Summer and fall plans for The Longshots?

Joey: July 31 is the official physical release party for the 7” in our home town of Fort Worth! The video for Mucho Mango some press stuff at CMJ – planning some west coast mayhem atm but set closer to fall, mainly kicking ass at whatever shows we secretly have end up tossed our and we are looking to be in Europe by early spring 2016. this is the longest we’ve gone without repacking for another gig and its only been like 2 weeks lol. so yeah lots of stuff a bunch of other bands would say PLUS the time to think about DOING it differently.

Brady: Meat, Beer, Meat, Beer, finish the next full length. Edibles. Sleep. Aloe Vera, Shows.

Any parting wise words of wisdom y’all can leave us with?

Joey: Don’t stop questioning what is continually thrown at you. It’s okay to think for yourself!

Your healthy diet means nothing if you’ve already taken the blue pill.

also – take no prisoners, you only YOLO once.

Brady: The mystery juice is free.

…I think Luther’s asleep…

Zobel: Sticks and stones, they break my bones, but pearls could never quench my thirst for love baby.

I stopped the fish from swimming…just so I could breath again.

The Longshots’ Mucho Mango 7″ is available now from Mock Records. Read the full feature here.

Blossom

Introducing San Francisco's Blossom; photographed by Hannah Valente.

Introducing San Francisco’s Blossom; photographed by Hannah Valente.

Meet San Francisco’s Blossom who follows up their 2014 self-titled debut with their just released Weirdspell that trades in the daisy chain of “Spring Flowers” for some heavier voltage, and deeper expanses of sound. Dylan Lockey and Sinclair Riley of PLUSH were kind enough to introduce us to Blossom’s four horsemen Brian, Jacob, Jay, and Ryan who walked us through the weird and wild of Weirdspell that wraps up the feelings and states of life’s emotional and mental shifts in a deep circling sew swelling like the all encompassing sensory feeling flood of a dream.

The strange spell of Weirdspell begins with the slow boil simmer of “Nobody” that paints an icy portrait of twenty-first century destitution. The attitudes from isolation and sad states of mind pour tears and left over unrequited extras onto a slow burning bonfire that copes with heart-crushed manners by scuzzy-ing up the chords as much as possible with blazing fire ball crashing percussion that keeps everything melodic (no matter how much distortion is applied and amplified). “Waiting for the sake of waiting” turns the tedium of the day into a noon daydream nap on “Bloomer” that builds toward a blooming plume arc of sound that steps on all the right pedals that fires every struck electric string out like audio metal shreds of confetti. This brings you to the album’s title track, worthy and warranting of multiple listens as Blossom finds a catchy power hook progression to run with that provides a kind of a reassuring sound wave of comfort that makes the nerve wracking journeys and tribulations of the world feel more like an amusement park ride. “Gemini” connects the constellation dots on the astrological scales of slow burning sounds right before the rivers of Weirdspell steer you to the closing chapter of “I Want To Believe” that drifts like a haunted and heavy boat ride into the spooky underworld that seeks something real, and warm to believe in again. Check out our roundtable interview with Blossom’s Brian, Jacob, Jay, and Ryan.

Tell us about the weirdness that inspired this both heavy and ethereal wondrous paradox that is Weirdspell, both the title track, and the entire cycle surrounding it.

Brian: The tracks on the record are really a reflection of insecurities and qualms about the last couple years. Most of the songs are about relationships with people that have fallen apart, but in all reality it’s just about a battle with a mental state, which is where I think the weirdness in Weirdspell comes from. It’s essentially just wrapping up a weird feeling that has been hanging around.

What was the process of writing and recording this like? Feels like there is some kind of intent placed behind every song.

Jacob: As far as writing goes, Brian and I usually show each other a riff or two, and then we take them to Jay and Ryan at band practice to flesh out a whole song. To me, the album is really circular in that it’s like a dream. It takes you through different emotions and alternates a lot between highs and lows. It rides the heavy rhythms into the softer parts that allow a mental break.

Brian: Writing for us is somewhat lucky and in many ways chaotic, especially because we all constantly change our minds about whether we like songs or not. Recording the record was really awesome though! The process of recording live felt really raw and natural cause it just felt like we were at band practice. Evan at Dead Oak Studios made things really relaxed for us too, so that was cool. With every song there is definitely intent. We wanted our songs to be the perfect mix of heaviness and pretty melodies so that we could best show that we like pretty stuff but we still listen to heavy metal. This way our parents don’t give up after one song, My dad texted me the other day to say that he liked the record, I guess that means we did something right.

Ryan: It’s nice to finally have recordings of the songs we’ve been playing for the last few months. We were really able to narrow down what songs we liked best for the record, and I think that helped us figure out what direction we want to go in the future. Shouts out to Evan for doing his thing!

What do you find exciting these days in the Bay Area?

Brian: There’s so much cool music being made out here right now its crazy, so that’s pretty exciting. Honestly though I’m just really excited to write new music and play shows with our friends.

Jay: The impending inevitability of a super massive earthquake sending us crumbling into the void.

Chatting with Blossom; photo by Hannah Valente.

Chatting with Blossom; photo by Hannah Valente.

Artists and others you want to give a shout out to?

Brian: As far as bands go: Plush, Pardoner (aka the best band in the world), Labor Temple, Moms, JF Crew, Eastern Bakery, Happy Diving, Idlehands, Wear. Also shout outs to my parents, my brother Matt, and the rest of my family, Evan Nolen, Ryan Whelan, Courtney Yung, Lewis Gallardo, Johnny O’ Hagan.

Jacob: Plush and Pardoner fam (again), and all the SB homies who let me sleep on their couches for a year and supported me in quitting my job to go sleep on another couch. Mom, Dad, Blaze, and Chesterfield.

Ryan: All the bands listed above plus my parents, my sister Megan, Luke Haeger, and Brian’s roommates for putting up with our noise.

Summer and fall advice from Blossom that we all should hear/know about?

Brian: Support local bands, go outside.

Jacob: Tip your servers at least 20% (so I don’t go hungry + beer)

Blossom’s Weirdspell is available now via Bandcamp. Read the full feature here.

Sunshine Faces

Sunshine Faces' Noah Rawlings; photographed by Rachel.

Sunshine Faces’ Noah Rawlings; photographed by Rachel.

We caught the Sunshine Faces fever last March when the Chapel Hill, North Carolina group of Noah Rawlings, Nick Chupka, Austin Kirley, John Santos, and Teddy Wilson struck our heart strings and mind chords with the impressive album Letting You Know from Little L Records and now present the debut of mind crashing tides of “Sing Yourself to Sleep” that features vocal contributions from Emily Yacina. The result of the recent directions showcases Sunshine Faces moving toward layering together a denser sound that slows things down to show you an intricate ripping arrangement of everything that mesmerizes your being. Treading sonic territory heard from the influences of Noah and company’s creative Asheville counterparts, formal connections and contemporaries; the water splash/lightning clasp pop illustrates aspects of a forthcoming fall album available in September.

In the same way that cover art lathes the image of John Denver on mixed media; Sunshine Faces with contributions from Emily Yacina create a complete sound that blends together with American primitive nature of an arts and crafts afternoon gathering. The way “Sing Yourself To Sleep” rises and falls like the high and low sea tides that fluctuate depending on lunar forces and weather cycles. The act and art of being gently rocked to a state of rest is heard at the way the note tempo rocks back, forth, to, and fro into the formation cognitive waves of brain activity that softly fall to a downy pillow lull. The guitars and keys twinkle and shine like key the reflection of sun and moon light shedding rays of light upon the cellophane surface of warm viscous waters. Read our recent interview with Sunshine Faces’ Noah Rawlings.

What for you initiated the process of working on your upcoming album, Peaked?

There was a significant gap between recording the first LP and its actual release, during which I was meeting a lot of new people, missing a lot of old people, exploring a lot of unfamiliar art/music/books, and just feeling generally motivated to work on music. The writing and recording of the album occurred much more naturally than anything I’d worked on before and I feel like I had a strongly oriented vision of what I wanted Peaked to sound like while I was working on it.

The slow-mo sunrise of “Sing Yourself to Sleep” is such a beautiful, sleepy, parabola shaped diamond of a song?

Thank you! It was recorded and written during finals week, which was a really terrible time to be preoccupied with music. I would be trying to study and I’d just get jittery thinking about the song. I couldn’t really concentrate until I finished it.

Your voice and Emily Yacina’s sound great together. Do you two have other tracks, and collaborations in the works?

A few weeks after it was finished I randomly began thinking that Emily’s voice would be perfect for it (she sings much better than I). I definitely hope to work with her more in the future, but we’re not working on anything in particular at the moment. However, we’re playing a show together on July 27 at Palisades in Brooklyn, which I’m very excited about.

It’s cool to hear how your sounds have grown to more sonic degrees since your “Teenage Prayer” single. What are you thoughts on the dynamics, and progress of your own work?

I think that I’ve grown a bit more comfortable in the recording/production process, which has informed what I think is a more dynamic sound.Whereas Letting You Know was recorded over an extended time period, the new LP was written and produced in a much more concentrated and cohesive manner. I was aiming for something a bit more compact, focused, and poppy. The songs on this record relate to each other in a more natural way, I think, than the first record. I wanted the “sonic palate” (lol) to still vary between tracks, but I wanted the ordering and progression and the album to make more sense, to be more coherent, than Letting You Know.

Latest happenings and local shout outs you want to give to the Chapel Hill scenes?

JC GRAVES, NC wonder boy, is working on a rock opera (so the rumors go). Keep yr eyes peeled.

Read the full feature here.

Clearance

Clearance playing at Permanent Records Chicago; photographed by David McCune.

Clearance playing at Permanent Records Chicago; photographed by David McCune.

Chicago’s Clearance have announced that their album Rapid Rewards from Unsatisfied Records in partnership with Chicago’s Tall Pat Records, following up Catalogue Nos. collection of EPs from the group. With their single “Total Closeout” from the new record; Clearance’s Mike Bellis, Kevin Fairbairn, Greg Obis, and Arthur Velez skewer the economic implosion of our time with counter offensive rhetoric that lampoon the language of sales pitches, advertisement lines, and all the tipped scales deals you cannot refuse. As a group that grew up in the recent economic crises that signaled recessions, digression, regressions, etc—Clearance continues to expand upon the inherit richness of their own moniker in a world where the jargon and ‘everything must go’ signs are everywhere, and the very technology that becomes placed on levels tantamount to portable deities is replaceable every few days, and obsolete by the time it arrives in retail outlets followed by the needy hands of the over-zealous consumer. As Mike provides his shoulder shrug yet proactive signature delivery, get ready to be treated to Clearance’s collective shred-fest of slacker strings that places them as one of this year’s must hear bands.

“Total Closeout” cruises on steady rhythms and riffs that ride out from the conscious waking rising to greet the interpersonal commerce exchanges of the day. The running around of leaving, staying, and tunneling through rabbit holes are gleamed from the conversational excerpts provided by Mike’s half sung/half awake delivery. The colloquial quips are matched to the five minute chugging train of Clearance’s freakout-art jam that could ride out into the Chi-town sunset for a near eternity and all would be beautiful. “Total Closeout” depicts the act of bottoming out and attempted bailouts that remain vague and up to the listener’s interpretation as discourse between friends is coupled with the collapse of institutions, failed state markets, and the demise of manufacturer’s retail outlets that look like missing teeth abscesses in half-occupied strip malls. Read our recent conversation with Mike Bellis.

What did you and the band find rewarding about the bigger boldness at work on Rapid Rewards, and making this new album?

It was nice to have the full group together working on a larger group of songs all at once. Putting a full record together and trying to balance it out and all that. We’d just come off playing a small handful of shows around the Midwest right before we started recording it last October/November, so we were pretty comfortable playing about half the songs straight away. You get that kind of sixth sense as a band playing newer songs after a certain point. The rest came together pretty quickly after that.

What are your own thoughts about the passage of time from now, and your early EPs when you listen to the compilations Catalogue Nos.?

It’s all been pretty quick, I suppose, but I’d be the first to tell you it could all have been done a bit faster. We like to record fairly quickly and often as the Chicago saying goes, but sometimes it takes a while for things to see the light of day. Especially these days. Those first songs we recorded and released were kind of like a dry run of getting out there and playing live as a group. We were learning how to record this stuff and how to put out records on our own, meeting people around town and eventually in other places. We still play a lot of that stuff, but the older songs have kind of developed their own thing over time and especially live, the more we play them.

Listening to singles like the jangle-power-slacker-drive of “You’ve Been Pre-Approved” and the conceptual thematic elements that abound in Rapid Rewards all swim around these ideas of how these bank/credit systems of false monetary prosperity consume not just someone’s lexicon, but rather their own entire being, and even sap their way into their own interactions. How did this motif come about, and how did it factor so much into the writing and sketches of these songs?

Well, we all more or less came of age in the midst of the economy crashing, so it’s tough not to have a healthy dose of skepticism toward the way things work. Mostly I was just trying to point out and appropriate a lot of these ultimately meaningless terms we get bombarded with every day — the jargon, the elevator pitches and all the cynical angles of selling something or other. I think the ridiculousness of it all is pretty obvious. The only way I know how to make any sort of sense of it is to poke fun at it and put it in the realm of the absurd. After a certain point, all you can do is pin a tail on it.

clearance week in pop 1

I see that Rapid Rewards is a co-release with fellow Chicago locals Tall Pat Records and Unsatisfied Records. What other cool things are happening around the Chicago circuits that the rest of the world should be aware of?

Chicago is a pretty big scene, and pretty diverse. Circles are always colliding; every band tends to play with pretty much everybody else if you play a certain amount of shows. And what Dave Vettraino [of Public House Sound Recordings, and who recorded Rapid Rewards] is doing, recording so many bands and doing such an awesome job at it, goes a long way toward fostering a sense of community. There’s a bunch of cool smaller labels around town like Hausu Mountain, Athletic Tapes, and Lake Paradise. And then there’s Trouble In Mind, who put out extremely solid records by Ultimate Painting and Dick Diver in the past year, among many others. They’re putting out the new Negative Scanner record, too, which is pretty great.

Last time we talked you talked about going down the Harvest Records, The Fall and Beefheart black hole, and was wondering what you and the band were listening to right now?

We listen to a lot of our friends’ music, just bands from around town or that we meet on tour. Some of our favorites from Chicago are Melkbelly, Negative Scanner, Deeper, Running, Bitchin Bajas….the list goes on. We’re also pretty big fans of what Exploding in Sound has been doing; they’ve developed a cult of sorts that’s hard not to admire even if you’re not on the East coast. Spray Paint is another favorite. On top of all that, I think it’s impossible not to mention how many great records are coming out of Australia right now, particularly Melbourne. Obviously people know Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett, but what some of these bands are doing, Total Control, The Stevens, Dick Diver, Twerps, Royal Headache…it’s just an embarrassment of riches down there. We’ve always been sort of obsessed with all the antipodean stuff, Flying Nun and all that. But if they keep this up it’s only a matter of time before we make our escape once and for all, visa issues be damned…

Read the full feature here.

YJY

Introducing YJY; photographed by Jill Hendershot.

Introducing YJY; photographed by Jill Hendershot.

From the tight circles of Kegan Zema (Journalism, ZEMA, 1989 Recordings) and Conor Meara (Le Rug, Roy Orbitron); we introduce you to New Jersey’s YJY, made up of Ricky Lorenzo, Tim Fitzpatrick, Dave and Steve Sachs who just released their Couch Surfin USA EP via Bandcamp and everywhere. YJY’s “Couch Surfin USA” heralds a one way road to freedom with a jump in the car attitude that gets the song and accompanying video moving. And like the etiquette of gratitude and respect one has for those that proivde a couch to crash on the world over, YJY celebrates the good people and places that made the video a reality thanking Alex Bevacqui, Chris Gennone, Dan Tews, Frank DeFranco, Heyoon Won, Justin Lombardo, Tom Grinberg of AK-47 (located in Deal, NJ), paying homage to The Bananastand in New Brunswick, NJ, or the Mill Hill Basement in Trenton, NJ, toasting WPSC 88.7 & WPTV-6 broadcasting out of William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ, and more. The video depicts the band having the times of their life while championing a world anthem for all traveling troubadours who are in need of somewhere to rest their weary heads while having the times of their life in the process.

The EP Couch Surfin USA hits the waves with plush throw cushions on the title track that takes you on that futon crashing tour of the 50 Northern States of DIY. The conventions of note passing ask-outs and courting get the blazing backseat treatment on the inquiring “Do You Love Me”, shredding power hooks and howling in a harmony that searches for some semblance of sense and sensibility within the chord-coaster “Surreal”. Misadventures in romance continue on in the “oh shit I think I lost your number, that’s one more thing I can’t remember” series of unfortunate events that make up the perils of waiting too long to call a potential special someone. Hearts beat on in a blur of treated guitars that roll with the sensibility of the record shop school of rock that wraps together the modernist medium with the passion of the current common era.

How did YJY begin, and what is the significance by the initials of your name if any?

Early 2014, we got together with the intention to play some songs that Ricky had already written, but we ended up writing a new song that day instead. We got together again a few days later and we had a second song by the end of the day. It was sort of a happy accident.

We kicked around a bunch of names before deciding it might be interesting to use a symbol rather than a traditional name. YJY is a face — the Y’s are crying eyes and the J is a nose.

Couch Surfin USA as an epic title track and album about surreality, missed connections, questions of love, and a gal named Amelia. What inspired this EP cycle span of songs for you all?

Steve: I wanted to write the kind of songs that I felt I wasn’t hearing enough of at basement shows. There have been so many times where I’ve been at a show and thought to myself, “Where is this song going?” and then suddenly it’s over. I wanted to make songs that were accessible on the first listen, even in a venue like a basement where the sound is not necessarily clear.

Ricky: Anxiety.

Give us the behind the scenes stories of recording with the most excellent Kegan Zema and Dara Hirsch at 1989 Recordings?

Dave: We knew heading into our session at 1989 that we were going to have to work fast, so we came prepared. Kegan and Dara were more than ready for us and we managed to record the entire EP over the span of two days. They were patient and stayed engaged from start to finish. Dara even added some vocals on Amelia, the final track of the EP.

YJY at Palisades in Brooklyn, photographed by Justin Smith.

YJY at Palisades in Brooklyn, photographed by Justin Smith.

What are some of the bit top five things that you all are excited about right now?

Tim: Our EP drops on 7/7 and we’re excited to see how people react to it. We’re all really happy with how our single has been received, and we’re hoping that people will be into the rest of the EP once we share it with them.

Steve: Our dad just got a new job.

Dave: Yup, he did. We’ve also have a record release show in New Brunswick on 7/11. We’ll have limited run cassettes and CDs available for the first time there, so you should come.

Steve: Our dad just got a new car, too. There’s a lot happening right now.

The latest from New Jersey scenes that we should be aware of?

Dave: There’s a ton of exciting stuff happening in NJ right now, especially in New Brunswick and Asbury Park. Ghost Camp, Grand Mariner, Perennial Reel, and dollys are just a few of the great bands that we’ve been lucky enough to play with and get to know over the past year or so.

Ricky: We actually just started a web series to put a spotlight on music coming out of NJ. It’s called Carriage House TV, and in it we bring bands to Bordentown, NJ to play a few songs and sit down for an interview. I’m the executive producer of the series, Tim is in charge of sound engineering, and Steve hosts the show and interviews the bands. We work with Conor Meara of Roy Orbitron and shoot the performances at his house, which is a renovated carriage house.

Steve: Our latest episode features Fond Han. I interviewed them at the Record Collector in Bordentown.

yjy week in pop

What do you all have planned this summer? Couch Surfin? Poolside paradise escapes? Etc?

Dave: We’ve got a bunch of shows coming up in NJ/NY/Philly to support the release of the EP. Follow us on Facebook to stay in the loop about upcoming shows and everything else we’re doing.

Ricky: New episodes of Carriage House TV will be coming out on the 1st of each month. We’ve got Francie Moon’s performance premiering in August, and Julian Fulton in September.

Steve: We’ll also be recording a Nirvana cover for an In Utero tribute record with our label mates at Sniffling Indie Kids, so we’re excited about that.

Tim: Still waiting for that first ride in Steve’s Dad’s new car.

YJY’s Couch Surfin USA EP is available now from Sniffling Indie Kids, Bandcamp, and everywhere. Read the full feature here.

Skelets On Me

Skelets On Me, seen live in Padua.

Skelets On Me, seen live in Padua.

From Bruneck, Italy; Skelets On Me are back with the premiere of their new song, “Sailors” that sends out a ship sailing search party for a mysterious one across a sea of tough ocean faring chords and the a siren’s call and song that glows according to the song’s own means of amplification. The follow up to their WWNBB 7″ Sometimes I Wish Your Eyes Could Speak; here the guitars are heavier, the sound is a little crisper, and the attitude level is increased like a clenched fist wearing a spiked glove. Residing in Italy’s South Tyrol province in the Puster Valley; Skelets On Me first began as Valentina Giani’s living room recording project from her home in the city of Bruneck where she plays with friends Francesco Candura (bassist, backing vocals) and Francesco Puccinelli (percussionist, vocalist). Skelets On Me stands by their motto of “all that matters is making it loud and clear,” where their electic musical foray has found them previously embracing the DIY jangle pop spectrum that has always had an edge to it like a quart of unpasteurized orange juice left in the fridge too many days too long.

“Sailors” finds Valentina steering a ship with first mate Francesco C., and first admiral Franesco P. guiding the adventure toward along restless routes that set sights on any and all of the world’s seven seas (and perhaps the uncharted waters less documented). Moving from their previous established posts of bringing bouquets of independent illuminations of guitar pop gold toward loud territories that switch the lo-fi and hi-fi switches to all-fi that U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy and Slim Twig would applaud. The chord progressions and rudder of the percussion enter the ever-expansive waters that welcome what wonders may occur, and what occurrences might happen and present themselves along the audio artifices and arc shaped bends of the world. Check out our interview session with Valentina Giani.

How did the three of you band together, as a project that first began in your living room? Describe for us the story behind the name Skelets On Me.

Me and Francesco (Candura) were already living together when I had started to write my first songs. He asked if I wanted to record them and I thought it might be interesting. So we did it, and after a couple of months I received a mail from Samuele of WWNBB asking me if I wanted to join the label. I discovered that Francesco had put the songs on Soundcloud and sent them to WWNBB, and I was like “WOOOO, that’s incredible, I’d never thought that someone would like or even HEAR them!”. So we tried to rehearse with Francesco on drums and a bass player during last year, but it didn’t really go well for many reasons. Knowing that we had to find another member, we thought that it would’ve been a better idea to search for a drummer instead, since Francesco preferred to play “his” instrument (bass). We met Francesco (Puccinelli) through a mutual friend, and knew that he had played drums for many years, so we simply started to rehearse together. I had a good feeling, and in fact we have been playing together since.

Skelets On Me's "Sailors" cover art, created by Chiara Leardini.

Skelets On Me’s “Sailors” cover art, created by Chiara Leardini.

I have always been a huge Yeah Yeah Yeahs fan, and I really liked the expression “Skeleton Me,” which is in one of their songs. I thought about using it my way, so here it is in short words: Skelets are all the worries and paranoias that I sort of befriended: I’ve kind of got used to them. I think that the “Sailors” cover art, made by the talented Chiara Leardini, explains that perfectly. But the thing that I like the most about that name is that it has no meaning, besides the one that I have given to it.

Under the table with Skelets On Me's Valentina Giani; photographed by Francesco Puccinelli.

Under the table with Skelets On Me’s Valentina Giani; photographed by Francesco Puccinelli.

We have read that the principle philosophy of Skelets is to make a sound that is “loud and clear.”
Why are these values of sound so important to you all?

Sometimes I overthink, forgetting that the most beautiful things happen by following our instinct and without pretending that everything is perfect, but when I write songs I do it in an impulsive and spontaneous way. When I started recording songs on my phone I didn’t have any expectations, except that I wanted to sound loud and immediate, and I have to say my bandmates are helping me maintain these standards.

Tell us about following up your “Sometimes I Wish Your Eyes Could Speak” 7″ with the upcoming “Sailors” single and more for WWNBB.

We thought that “Sailors” would have been perfect to be released as the second single, because we were really happy about the recording and how it sounded. I think it sounds different from all the other songs, and it’s also the first one that the three of us have recorded together with proper equipment, thanks to our friend Guido (Giorgi), who helped us a lot and is really smart. Now we are about to record another song and I hope that in the future there can be a full album, but I’m not forcing it. I’m really happy about how things are going so far.

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Tell us what the scenes are like over there in Bruneck.

I moved from Bruneck 5 years ago, but I go there once a month to visit my family, and I consider it a very peaceful place, where I can enjoy nature and meet dear friends. I must say that I don’t have a clear idea about what’s happening there right now musically. And when I went to school I didn’t go to many shows there, because I wasn’t really interested in the music my friends were listening to, so I practically missed the whole “scene” when I lived there. There is a nice place in Bruneck called “UFO” that puts on shows, and I know there’s a bunch of folk and rock festivals all around the whole Suedtirol region.

Who are some other local artists you all dig?

There’s this really good psych-improv band called Gerryorsomething? — they don’t have songs as much as one long piece of music, like Miles Davis used to do. We always go to each other’s shows and dig each other’s stuff, even though we’re so different!

What can we expect from Skelets On Me this summer, fall, winter and more?

It would be great to continue doing what we are doing now: recording, doing more and more shows and playing better and better. We’re having fun and I really enjoy making music, it feels great. I would like Skelets On Me to keep growing and growing.

Good Try

Introducing; Good Try.

Introducing Perth, Australia’s Good Try; a collaborative project duo made up of Izzy and Sean (Kid XL) present their debut Rocky EP available now from Citrus City Records and Track & Field, premiering the single of separations and wishes on “Get Me”. Like the heart strummed singles found on their respective imprints of Citrus City and Track & Field; the journal drafted dreams from today’s underachievers of extreme promise are penning songs from the heart that mean something in a network that makes the big wide world seem just a little closer, smaller, and maybe even more loving.

The duo told us that Rocky is inspired largely in part by Sean’s dog of the same name, along with songs about friendships, former loves, broken bonds, so-called sacred bonds, and thoughts about the human condition as observed through human connections. Izzy and Sean duet back and forth amid a plush and lush layering of gently struck strings and lingering keys, where Izzy sings about feigning illness and hiding out at home to avoid the hapless romantic advances that will crush your heart every time you hear, “maybe when we’re two years older, we can try again one summer, I don’t think there’s anyone else for me because you just get me, maybe I could trick you into holding my hand one last time before you leave for college and forget about the times we had…” “Get Me” is the ultimate summer song for everyone that has ever ended or avoided a fleeting tryst with a potential interested suitor, and for anyone that has ever continued to pine away about everything they could have done to make something that was never meant to be last longer than that moment permanently burned and ingrained in memory.

Izzy & Sean lent us some exclusive thoughts on about the beauty of “Get Me”, and insights into the triumphs and struggles behind the making of their Rocky EP.

Good Try is a fairly recent project started by my friend Izzy and I. This was the first time in a few years we were both back in Perth after moving around different parts of the world, so we had all these experiences we wanted to to do something with, and in some cases move away from, so starting this project was kind of a no brainer. We’ve known each other since high school, and music has always been a shared interest. We sat down and began workshopping some ideas in April, and the result was a nine track EP we’re releasing this week through Citrus City Records and Track & Field! We spent a lot of time in Sean’s suburb writing and recording, and hanging out with Sean’s dog, Rocky, which is where the EP gets its title.

Since this is still a new thing for us, we are still experimenting with how we write and compose our material. Narrative is important to us, so far our content has ended up being social commentaries or generally about relationships—with friends, or people we’ve dated and then not dated anymore, but most are just about Rocky.

“Get Me” is a bit of an exception, in that it’s inspiration came from a dud Tinder experience Sean had, lyrically developing into the summation of the end of his last relationship—thinking there was a combination of words or something he could do to get things to how they were, when you really just have to let it go.

We played around with the perspective of that situation, giving both characters a say, ending with a girl whose not keen and a guy whose disillusioned, trying to convince himself there’s still something there.

Good Try’s Rocky EP is available now from Citrus City Records and Track & Field. Read the full feature here.

Haunted

Introducing Haunted; the new project from Phil Jones of Dog Bite.

We present you with Haunted’s self-animated and edited video with StudioVeux for “Soft Night” ft. Tantrum, taken from the recent So Heat EP. From the mind and vision of Phil Jones from Dog Bite, the ATL artist takes sound drafts and sketches that exist outside the DB spectrum and applies his more visual disciplines into the multimedia frame. The hypnotic synth loops and layers of far-away dissonances are further decorated with ghost-traced animations that provide a layer of wizardry to a string of compiled visuals from experimental film works gathered from the eras of 1965, 1975, 2002 and enhance the experience to a future forward show of sensuality and the strangely surreal.

Haunted came about when I was getting more into electronic/dance music. I had been messing around with similar ideas for a couple years but after two albums as Dog Bite I decided it was time to start fresh again. I wanted to try out structures and ideas that didn’t really work within the frame of Dog Bite, and expand my sonic palate. I think it also came about with my growing understanding of production and song writing, I love being able to dive into an idea or mood without thinking if a bandmate will like it.

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With Dog Bite, it did start as just myself, but its now a full band and I like including everyone in the music we all play. But I think what I like about Haunted the most is that its a completely blank slate to work from, its very freeing to put down all the instruments and gadgets you’ve gathered over the years and just pick up something new. Starting this new project also allowed me to start incorporating more of my visual work as well, which is another part of my creative side I don’t think many people are aware of. In my head Haunted is a huge art project that has opened up a new chapter in my life.

The [“Soft Night”] video was made up of experimental short films that were made in 1965, 1975, 2002 and little short animations I put together. I just wanted to make a video that had a little bit of a different vibe, without a storyline or plot, just visuals. I like people coming to their own conclusions.

Read the full feature here.

Babysitter

Happy wanderers—Babysitter.

Victoria, BC by Montreal group Babysitter have been independently (and via Shake! Records) releasing their cassettes for over half a decade now, and now their new album is available from Psychic Handshake Recordings. Extolling the DIY virtues of post-punk/art-punk/no-punk ethics and audio arts on full speaker blast, the group prepares to release their 7” split with Calgary’s Hag Face via Pleasence Records and Resurrection Records, and today follows up their recent Maude Deslauriers video for “Sad Folk Singer” with the world premiere of the Jordan Minkoff directed video for Babysitter’s new single, “Hard Times”.

Take a stroll with Babysitter’s Kristian North around Montreal in Jordan Minkoff’s video for “Hard Times” that begins at a subway terminal before taking you to the surface of the metropolitan streets dwarfed by sky-scrapers, churches, vintage buildings and the illustrious color and bold illuminations brought out through effects and filters. Sporting shades and walking in time to Babysitter’s own bass and beat cool-stepping rhythms, animated cross-hairs and subsequent explosion effects follow the band’s long-haired leader as he denounces the anemic and acerbic downfall of world powers in a prose that would bring a crooked smile to the face of Mark E. Smith himself. “Those less fortunate should be pulled up by their own…bootstraps, like being a self-made man, recession, what’s that? All I see are corporate pigs trimming the fat, while Hollywood makes a joke of sex, the NSA like Catholics demand confessions.” The observation of institutionalized overlords are spoken-sung while taking a leisurely city stroll as we watch day turn to night, as Kristian delivers a state of the world soliloquy punctuated by a healthy of dose of paranoia that spells out the signs of the times that allude the song’s title. “A capitalist sees no charities, only expense, and it’s hard times we’re in.” Join us for more wisdom from Babysitter’s Kristian North.

Describe reflections on the Babysitter ride from the beginning to now as if this were a mini-doc on the band.

Babysitter is five years old this fall. It came together as just Andy and myself, we met as coworkers and we’d pass the time at work talking about Flipper, Royal Trux and Neil Young. Casual jamming evolved into a dedicated band pretty quickly, we burned through a few drummers and five or six tapes and a couple of tours and Aden joined us on drums in 2012 and the lineup has stayed consistent since then. We released the first LP and we toured pretty heavily for most of 2013. After that, Victoria wasn’t really where we wanted to be so we came out here to Montreal.

Tell us about moving from the West Coast to Montreal, and what that jump was like, how it affected you all, and how the Montreal scenes are treating everyone?

The move to Montreal is fine, our record label Psychic Handshake is based in Montreal and we have lots of friends over here. If you are Canadian and interested in music or art or any sort of comparable low paying lifestyle Montreal is sort of an endgame, the rent is cheap and there’s probably the best music and arts scene in Canada so its a no brainer, at least to me. The west coast is so expensive now.

Huddling up with Babysitter.

We’ve made a few videos with Jordan and he’s really great to work with, it’s a pretty organic process. “Hard Times” was shot in the winter, Jordan and I just sort of walked around Montreal with the video camera and shot ideas as they came to our heads. Jordan is a natural director, he’d say ‘you should spit’ or ‘swing the scarf around your head’ and I’d do it. After shooting Jordan came up with the sniper idea as a compliment to the paranoid nature of the lyrics.

What media, books, movies, sounds, art, whatever are inspiring you all right now?

Hag Face from Calgary are one of our favorites, Shearing Pinx new album is great and SHPX related project N213 Group Visions came through town a while back and were so good, Drainoliths new album is great, Gash Rat is amazing and their new album is great. Pretty inspired in Montreal overall, lots of really fresh sounds. Most recently I saw Mdou Moctar a Tuareg guitarist from Niger and it totally blew my mind, it was really a revelation for me.

Tell us what you all can about (the new record on) Psychic Handshake, and how is it unlike any Babysitter record yet?

babysitter week in pop 3

It was recorded on a two inch tape machine in Montreal, our friend and collaborator JLK features heavily on the record playing on several songs. This record really represents all the sides of Babysitter, we didn’t hold back with the weird shit but there’s some fantasy radio hits too.

Fall post-release plans for you all?

We are doing some tour dates on the east coast in September after the record comes out, and we hope to hit the west coast sometime too.

Babysitter’s new album is available from Psychic Handshake Recordings. Read the full feature here.

Mother Room

mother room week in pop 1

The following premiere of Mother Room’s “Arise” was an atmospheric creeper cut that carefully wades you into the deep end of Pacific Oceans to fight a metallic leviathan. Found off the 7″ split with Planning For Burial available from The Native Sound, MR’s mainman James Meuleners follows up his debut LP Scorched with the sound of singed earth and doom cast electrified steel reverberations. The Oakland, California artist transforms the delusions of tranquility that people hold toward the Bay Area and demonstrates the severe level of titanic clamor that the East Bay can masterfully execute. This ain’t your older brother’s doom metal, the modernist post-Sabbathian sludge here is mopped up and distilled into something stronger, sicker, stranger, but stomps as hard as a 10 ton mammoth at the rate of a codeine and molasses milkshake cocktail.

James from Mother Room takes his time to allow “Arise” to breathe as he keeps the track’s mystery of ephemeral and physical elements all existing together in a tangible and feasible sound assembly. There is no rush for the great gavel smashing rhythm plod motions that begin after a minute and 20 seconds into the jam. From here nearly four minutes of pulverizing stoned-ogre licks drone forth on a slow, steady, and slogging path. The tracks breaks odwn into a series of squelched electrics that send a variety of distortion tones from pedals, plugged-in discord done to sound like a mess of gear melting before your eyes like a Dali Lama print. Check out our interview with Mother Room’s James Meuleners.

Describe for us the conditions and events that lead up to the creation of Mother Room.

Well, the band I was in was going on hiatus, and I had all this energy pushing up from the depths. I just started recording these new songs that had no name, no place to rest. So I put the name Mother Room on them. I never thought I would play show or record an album with this project.

Is the name sort of a reference to the home room nature of these recordings?

No, ha ha. The name comes from the farming of “crops”.

From the debut album Scorched to the epic, mammoth single “Arise”—how do you feel Mother Room as a project has grown since it’s humble beginnings?

It has grown so much since day one. I’m actually blown away by it, I never thought that I would do one release, now I’m releasing a split 7″ and have two more releases to be out by years end. Big shout out to Julio over at The Native Sound!

How did the Planning For Burial split come about?

It came together after playing a couple shows with Thom on the west coast last year. We kept in contact a developed a friendship. He ‘gets it’ to say so simply. We’ve both been part of different music scenes growing up and as adults, and I can honestly say if the internet and all forms of music media coverage and hype all died tomorrow, he would still be playing music just for himself to enjoy. I respect that more than I can express, so as soon as I pitched the idea of doing a split together and he agreed. It was on.

What are you excited about in Oakland these days?

Oakland is Oakland. There is the good the bad and the ugly out here(at risk of sounding cheesy). There are so many different artistic energies that meet up together out here, more than music. I’m excited by the fact that is not an easy place to be an active artist here because of high rent costs and a saturation of the arts here. It’s impossible to do things half assed because if you’re going to do something you better do it all the way. I feel like Oakland doesn’t have time for people just trying to look cool, what do you have to offer?

Any Bay Area heroes, favorites, underdogs that you want to go e a shout out to?

I’m proud to call these bands friends, Unconditional Arms, The American Scene, Teal, Terror Agenda, King Woman, Chasms, Creative Adult, All Your Sisters, Foie Gras, A/S/L, Culture Abuse, Achromanticist.

Some non bands—but amazing artist and individuals: Lauren Zimmerman (Organs in Sleep), Jeff Wright, Charles Vincent, Senny Mau, Garret at Relative Minds, The Empty Waves collective, Dalton The Roach King, Dan Stilwell, M.J. Bernier…I know I’m forgetting a bunch of people, but you know who you are.

El Taco Zamorano!

Mother Room’s split with Planning For Burial is available now from The Native Sound.

Read the full feature here.

Liphemra

liphemra week in pop 11

Liphemra remains one of LA’s most passionate and sonically progressive phenomenons that transcends medium through a variety of disciplines (percussion, production for audio and visual, songwriting, singing, arranging, collaging, adinfinitum). Her single “Magazines” follows up her Part 3 mixtape and has just received the fashion art video treatment directed & edited by Liza Mandelup, cinematography by Noah Collier, produced by Jess Magee that features Beatrice Rague Von Schleyer. Liv Marsico, the frontwoman behind Liphemra has also just released a zine titled did u cry through Burger and Lolipop Records that features poetry, Liphemra lyrics, pictures, and contributions from Arvida Bystrom, Penelope Gazin, Liza Mandelup, Adi Rajkovic, and Rachel Surnow. Also playing Low End Theory July 22, and presenting upcoming remixes from from Alpha Pup signees Toylight and Kalva,

The Liza Mandelup video for “Magazines” follows Beatrice Von Rague Schleyer through the night through the hollows of dim evening lights to the quiet and intimate places of moon bathed beauty. From the surrounding ghostly glow of haunted Hollywood mansions, our protagonist Beatrice finds a safe haven utility shed to be alone with her own self-styled swift moves. The mixed collected ideas of beauty, self, and the need for sanctuary are brought together in interpretive visual brush strokes that updates the allure of Sunset Boulevard-esque LA mysteries that play like modern day specters of the sensual, and psychic consciousness.

Liphemra mastermind/wunderkind/impresario of new school aesthetics Liv Marsico talked with us for a bit about the new recordings, video, remixes, and more in our following discussion.

Tell us about the making of your Burger & Lolipop Records released zine did u cry from Obelisk Press, combining your own poetry, pictures, and lyrical talents with works from Arvida Bystrom, Penelope Gazin, Liza Mandelup, Adi Rajkovic, & Rachel Surnow.

I’ve always been really into writing my poetry & lyrics in journals…I love creating beautiful pages that are handwritten and often times will paste pictures or little images next to them that relate to the words. I’ve never made a zine before this one but I draw so much inspiration from my fellow artists in LA…especially my girls! It is nice to have something physical that encapsulates the Liphemra world.

Tell us your thoughts on how you feel the remixes from Kalva Won and Toylight impacted the single, and what did you discover about the song through their remixes?

Kalva Won and Toylight are two of my favorite producers right now…they both continue to blow me away in their own separate ways. Each of the remixes draw something very different from the original song. Both evoke sentiment & nostalgia. They’re amazing artists and inspire me all the time with what they’re working on. Seriously an honor to have them remix this song.

The first listen to Liphemra's upcoming mixtape, photographed by Pretty Puke.

Interested in hearing about the new material in progress, and what you’re most excited for your upcoming Low End Theory July 22 show.

The new material coming out is definitely going to be a lot different than anything out now. All the songs out now I produced myself on the computer. “Magazines” was finished with the help of Theo Cohen. He is really an amazing talent & producer and a joy to work with.

The band now consists of my boys Miles Gray (bass), Trey Findley (guitar) & Chris Parise (drums) and myself.. the upcoming songs are a reflection of all our artist visions and i’m so excited to share them!

I’m so excited to be playing Low End Theory because I grew up going there every Wednesday night just in awe of all the amazing artists that would play. That place has inspired so much of the music I make. Eternally grateful to Daddy Kev, and all the other residents for keeping the energy around that place so raw and truthful!

Other LA happenings and artists that the world needs to embrace?

I’ve been really inspired by all the female artists in my life lately. Liza Mandelup who directed this video constantly produces work that is so unique and Arvida Bystrom is an amazing photographer & video artist who will be moving to LA soon. Nina Ljeti is another amazing film maker who moved here a little over a year ago. There is also a gallery space that opened up not too long ago called Sunday Los Angeles run by Adi Rajkovic, and pretty much everything she curates and produces is incredible. LA is on fire right now.

Favorite LA bands right now; The Paranoyds, Winter, Sadgirl, and Froth.

"Even after the tears..." The world of Liphemra; photographed by Arvida Bystrom.

“Even after the tears…” The world of Liphemra; photographed by Arvida Bystrom.

Liphemra over the course of recent days, weeks, months, & years has been releasing singles, videos, a multitude of collaborations, zines, & more that have enraptured our attention and imagination to a world of real feels, and visceral arrangements of songs and media made in the tune of real life and real emotion. Announcing her anticipated debut EP did u cry available March 11, 2016 from Future Gods; frontwoman/mastermind Liv Marsico brings a barrage of rhythms that evoke the acid house relics and ruins that then move toward her synth-string stages of opulence, ruminated reason, and lyrical reckoning that tear you apart from the inside out with the couplet refrain, “did you even cry? Did you even try?”

Liphemra shared a few words with us on the making of the forthcoming did u cry EP:

For the last year we’ve been working on the EP….writing and rewriting stuff…we’ve been recording it all ourselves in our rehearsal space in mid city LA. After trying other studios and working with producers—which is why this has taken so long to complete—we realized that it is a lot more enjoyable to make ourselves. Everything we’ve made elsewhere has been scraped. Luckily Trey (our guitar player) is also an amazing engineer/ producer and we’re able to do this. Although its not glamorous by any means, it feels right and fun and we don’t have to answer to anybody else about the musical choices we’re making. As a band we’re like family. These guys are my brothers and they’re the only ones I feel comfortable making music with…we just get each other and I love them.

Read the full features here, and here.

Middle Ocean

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Andew Hamlet contacted us to introduce us to Middle Ocean, what started off as Pressed And with a live band, and then became it’s own oceanic expanse of thoufhtful, psych-dipped waters of blue and green. The opener on their just released album I “Please Hold On” sets the tempo like a mellow romantic sun down, to the frayed warbling dawn of “Grown in the Morning”, to the ultra chill tones and summer tempos found on “We’ve Got a Reason”, to the ultra gentle twang chasms of depth on “Wishing Well”. Instrumental fusions and jams continue to keep the sound soaring on sound casting cut “Far”, trucking along the echoing Americana jet-stream riding “In a United State”, the space-craft sailing “Interstate Blues”, to the psych-spiritual of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”, trickling down the folk roads of “Journey Home”, the pitter-patter jog of “Statesville Sheetz” that bring you around to “Tell-Tale Sign” that leaves you with the image that twilight clouds bring with jagged streaks of the sun’s glow in tones that run the gamut from yellow to purple. Hamlet with Mat Jones, and Reed Turchi provide with Middle Ocean an opportunity to chistle out their own fusion of nu-Americana song cycles that provide a sonic quilt rendering of music to travel the 50 states to, or just enjoy in the company of your earphone buds (or with a few good buds).

Andrew Hamlet recent talked with us a a bit about how Middle Ocean first began as Pressed And with a live band, recording at Ardent Studios, and more about their new offshoot:

In June 2013, the electronic duo known as Pressed And went on tour with a live band, featuring Matthew Jones, Andrew Hamlet, and Reed Turchi, a new addition on slide guitar. During a day off in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the group holed up in a studio to record the live sound. With these recordings, Middle Ocean set sail. Compiling the Ann Arbor recordings with solo material from Matthew Jones, who records as It is rain in my face., Andrew Hamlet produced Middle Ocean: I while at legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN. The album shares the smoke and spirit of Ardent alumni Big Star, Jim Dickinson, and The Staples Singers and evokes nu-Americana of the lineage My Morning Jacket, Mazzy Star, The Grateful Dead, and The Allman Brothers Band. Jump in, and take a swim among the sound waves!

Read the full feature here.

Gary Wilson

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Catching up with our buddy Gary Wilson, we bring you a listen to “I Really Dig Your Smile” off his upcoming album Alone With Gary Wilson available now from Cleopatra Records. The Endicott by San Diego artist has been mystifying all with his funky-weird electric organ vignettes since his release of You Think You Know Me inspiring outsider artists to make their jump from the fringes and toward the center stage. Beloved by Beck, ?uestlove, Earl Sweatshirt, and countless others; Wilson continues on his blueprint map of making music from the heart about girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, iconic girlfriends, maybe imaginary girlfriends in love pop models ripped from his 1950s heroes like Dion DiMucci, Frankie Avalon, etc. Check out our recent discussion with Mr. Wilson himself.

What’s the latest these days from Endicott, New York or have you been spending some summer vacay time in San Diego?

Endicott is real nice in the summer. Nice and green. Just spoke to long time band member Frank Roma. He still lives in Endicott. He’s working out with his saxophone. I spend most of my time in San Diego, Ca.

What synthesizers are you enjoying the most lately?

I use mostly my Yamaha DX-21. It has split and has most of the sounds I need. You can hear that keyboard on most of my records. It’s from the 80s.

Tell us about the making of Alone With Gary Wilson, and the continuing narrative progressions of the ever elusive women from you life like Linda, Cindy, Karen, etc that make cameos throughout your body of work.

Alone With Gary Wilson was recorded in my home studio in San Diego. Again my favorite girls make the scene in my recordings. Never too far from my dreams.

You mentioned that you really hit off with ?uestlove and the Roots some four years back in our last conversation, and was wondering if a Gary Wilson and The Roots album was ever going to happen?

When I was on the Jimmy Fallon Show with the Roots backing me, Questlove and I had a conversation about him adding drum tracks to a new album I was working on. Nothing materialized from it. You never know, it could still happen.

Any other collabs in the works? That’s rad that you got to perform onstage recently with Earl Sweatshirt too.

I usually prefer to work alone but if something comes up that strikes me as interesting, I’m in the game. Yes, that was cool working with Earl Sweatshirt.

I love how you have kept true to your original aesthetic from the duct tape, plastic, mannequins and the like. How do these elements continue to inspire you, your work, and performances?

When I was a teenager I was interested in the most extreme art, music, theater, etc. I guess this carried over to the present.

Who are you listening to right now, and which Dion and Frankie Avalon songs are your current favorites?

Listening to John Cage’s piece “Music For Piano And Orchestra” with David Tudor on piano. That always inspires me. Favorite Dion tune? That would be “Runaround Sue”. Favorite Frankie Avalon tune? That would be “Venus”.

The report on the future of music, pop culture, and more according to Gary Wilson?

There will always be new music and art that’s interesting. I often wonder about the avant garde in the 16th and 17th century. Was there someone at that time making tone clusters and noise on his instrument? Was there some one splattering paint on a piece of wood?

Alone With Gary Wilson is available now from Cleopatra Records. Read the full feature here.

Ryan Sambol

Photographer Madeline Harvey catches Austin strange boy Ryan Sambol making an errand run.

Photographer Madeline Harvey catches Austin strange boy Ryan Sambol making an errand run.

The ballad of Ryan Sambol is an Americana portrait of an artist that has been criminally under-sung. Turning the clock back for a moment to the spring of 2009, Sambol’s band The Strange Boys had just released their first album The Strange Boys and Girls Club courtesy of the generous Larry Hardy and his label In the Red Records that introduced us to Ryan’s caterwaul, Guthry-esque delivery and aberrated Austin sound that is part rock canon classic mixed with a destitute edge of the modern day drifting dilettante.

The music world class of 2009 was a year that bedroom and garage artists broke lo-fi ground (all the while showing promise for future big releases yet to arrive), as artist vanguards and groups became their own institutions. Fresh & Onlys, Vivian Girls and Woods were granted DIY-deity status, Coachwhips frontman John Dwyer’s Thee Oh Sees set the standard, Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin’s careers took off, The Black Lips were at the peak of their powers, as Bay Area and Southern California forces began collaborating with Austin liaisons, confidants, and cohorts. Former Nerve Agents artist Tim Presley had busied himself making now iconic home recordings in the downtime between working with his current band Darker My Love that would later become the influential and generative White Fence solo project turned band. Also working part time doing guitar work for Mark E. Smith and The Fall, Tim began working with Ryan’s The Strange Boys in helping create their 2010 album Be Brave that would bridge the wild world of Texas’s lost boys with the west coast swagger of the day.

Be Brave was born into a rapidly changing music landscape, seeing Mika Miko broke up in late 2009 (with drummer Seth Densham joining The Strange Boys with Jenna Thornhill-DeWitt also providing saxophone contributions), Jay Reatard’s untimely passing in January 2010, obnoxious and abused micro-genre tags like ‘chill wave’ and worse, and an industry evolving and changing more rapidly than the rate of technology’s own advancement. Yet through the chaos and confusion of the independent state of music caught at the corporate precipice of buy-outs, sellouts, and such; Ryan and the gang kept it weird and strange while savoring sounds played to them by the Presley brothers (Tim and Sean Paul—of NODZZZ, & White Fence) that charted the canon from the Grateful Dead, Dion solo, Mamas and the Papas solo records, Tom Petty, cult band Tronics, R. Stevie Moore, Culture, Donnie and Joe Emerson, and a plethora of CD-Rs that would contain some of the greatest music of the future. The follow-up album Live Music in 2011 saw Ryan and The Strange Boys take their sound back to country-blues rock basics, seen later touring with White Fence, Mikal Cronin, Ty Segall, before radio silence.

Wondering when we would next hear from Ryan Sambol and company, today marks a momentous occasion as Sambol has launched his imprint Forever Wet Paint in conjunction with Dan Rudmann of Punctum Records, releasing today his solo album Now Ritual along with Peace Mob from his Living Grateful collective that we proudly present streaming in it’s entirety. While Ryan Sambol’s solo album Now Ritual showcases the more introverted fringe folk glances inward, Living Grateful’s Peace Mob brings an electric-gospel barage of good times Americana that draws from the more rustic, rarely heard corners. Helping us chronicle the recent spate of current events that have lead to today’s release of these two albums and the FWP imprint; Ryan Sambol helped us in describing the following path of histories:

Ryan Sambol and his guitar; photographed by Sam E.

Ryan Sambol and his guitar; photographed by Sam E.

August 2014:
Dan Rudmann and I meet while Studium (book/record store / label offices / show space) is being constructed.

Dan asks, what have I been up to?

I tell him I haven’t played music in about a year, but I’ve been thinking of playing again.

I tell Dan about the unreleased albums and songs from the last few years.
He asks if he can hear them.

October 31, 2014 :
I leave Austin, move out of my shack of 5 years, put my stuff in storage and head west with no plans other than to see the Grand Canyon.

Turn 28 sleeping in my car between Sedona and Cottonwood, Arizona.

December 2014:
I return to Texas with new songs and a solo act, start playing shows under my name.
Move in to a double wide in Cedar Creek just outside of Austin with my friend Andrew Costigan.

Dan Rudmann and I find we have much in common.
Dan thinks the albums should be released, need to be heard, siting many examples from my lyrics as proof.

I agree but quickly bring up that Larry Hardy, of In The Red Records, paid for Peace Mob and postponed the release two years ago because I asked him to, and due to the fact that he’s an understanding badass, he did.

So… maybe we can release now ritual ourselves and will ask Larry if he can release peace mob at the same time.

I call Larry Hardy.
Larry runs a very busy and successful independent record label.
He had of course moved on as scheduled over the last two years with his label’s releases, so at the time I called he had this years release schedule all booked up with great releases including Fuzz’s new album.

So … I tell Larry about FWP. And tell him of our plans to release Now Ritual and a song I recorded in Morocco.
I ask, since he can’t release it, would he allow us to release Peace Mob, with him recouping his costs from two years ago as the album sells. We both knowing that an album can’t recoup if it’s never released, he agrees, but only because he sees it as the best thing for me to do artistically,
which is amazingly hard to find in any artistic business, and just goes to prove why Larry is so loved by the musicians he works with.

January 2015:
Got an offer to help a friend drive to NYC.
Stay in NYC writing and recording new songs and performing under my name.

Dan Rudmann and Andrew Stevens back in Austin, set the FWP releases in motion through the contacts and services of Punctum Records.

March 2015:
I do my first solo tour, choosing to do it in Europe, encouraged by Afonso Simões, who has booked every show I’ve ever played on the European continent for the last seven years.
Tour goes well.

April 2015:
I stay in Berlin, Germany.
Writing and recording songs.

Summer 2015:
I return to Texas.
All albums arrive.
Shows are being played,
more being scheduled.
Ideas and plans are being realized, actualized, and of course, changed.

With the original plan/mission being:

By using appropriately the humble revenues made from these first three releases, the Forever Wet Paint company will then have the capability to internally finance the release of any artist expression we think necessary to make adaptably[sic] available to any and all people.

Punctum Record boss, and one half of Ryan’s Forever Wet Paint imprint Dan Rudmann weighed in on how the two struck up a friendship and label partnership that began when Sambol visited Punctum’s shop/space/venue, Studium:

Ryan came into Studium, our shop, nearly as year ago – just as we were completing the construction of the space. We became fast friends and I was able to assist in the development of Forever Wet Paint Co. through my experiences with Punctum Records. Working together has been quite seamless and intuitive, as we share a similar approach to the business.

Ryan performed his first show at Studium in December, helping to define the type of performances that we’ve come to be known for in Austin, and has played there a handful of times over the past few months. Most appropriately, will be holding the record release party for all three projects at Studium on the night of the 24 [tonight!].

Raising a hat, with Ryan Sambol; photographed by Sam E.

Raising a hat, with Ryan Sambol; photographed by Sam E.

On Living Grateful’s Peace Mob, Ryan sets the tone of self-acceptance with an all inclusive invitation to join the party that has only just begun. Iconography and word play rattle the windows and shake the wooden floor of an old saloon or dive on the classic party rocking “James Not”, with “Birthright” pounding out piano touched testimonials that basks in the revelry of being true to your heart, self and talents. The sound of Sambol’s friends and contemporaries shines on the muddy collaborative collection of riffs and riled up deliveries and execution on “Diamond Young”.

Storytelling time stays strange on the fractured narratives that cross the peculiar lyrical paths on “Sleepwell”, blurring the lines between biographies and autobiographical meta-fiction that rock through Living Grateful’s careful balance of guitar-piano relations that completely throw off the receptors and anachronistic gauges. Origins and inceptions slowly trudge through the mud of “Born Begun”, right before “Brownstone Gals” picks the spirits up with a dedicated ode to the radio where Ryan sings “stereo speaker you justify my life.” The length of the road and time traversed is recalled on boot-scooting boogie of “How Far Is Far”, with further trails and trains of thought that celebrate the present on “Most Recent Moment”, to “Assumption Fair” that brings more Ryan Sambol gospel ballads in his signature warble and wail delivery that seeks a kind of deliverance centered around the core of creative expression. The curtain closing cue is brought about on “Rue End” where the Living Grateful gang applies light orchestral touches that gives Peace Mob a kind of theatrical off-Broadway factor that further establishes and solidifies Ryan’s place in the contemporary canon of American songwriters and tune-smiths of our time that hold great proliferation, significance and importance for today’s and the future’s aspiring troubadours.

Living Grateful’s Peace Mob and Ryan Sambol’s Now Ritual are both available now through Forever Wet Paint Co. / Punctum Records. Read the full feature here.

Thurst

Say hello to Thurst, who joins the Unsatisfied Records family.

Introducing LA’s Thurst, who presented the premiere listen to their debut album YSFC (aka You’re So Fucking Cool) that delivers one of the summer’s big must hear slacker-scuzz pop cycles that includes a little something for all disaffected, but warm hearted listeners. Comprised of siblings Kory Seal ( on guitars, drums, vocals), Jessie Seal (on drums, vocals) with bassist Mark C to round things up; a YSFC is the DIY beast that was created in their Inglewood, CA rehearsal space that apes your favorite alt amenities through the current day approach to econo-budget audio alchemy.

“Fact Is Friction” is from the opening a gates an instant favorite and classic that grabs all the glittering prizes of attitudes and arts borrowed from previous independent heroes and arguably improved upon. The nowhere I can go desperation takes on real earnest hearted strummed deliveries in original and idiosyncratic electric melodies on “Complacency”, while Jessie and Kory on the title track “YSFC” take the piss out of retro obsess snobby hip-fronting charlatans where Jessie sneers, “I’m in a rock and roll band, that’s more than you could understand, conceived in 1993 but you’re stuck in the ’60s, you’re so fucking cool, you’re so fucking cool…” Conversations and more cross wires and paths on the happy go lucky oddity of “Movies” where Kory sings on the chorus, “people always seem to always make me talk about themselves, themselves; I’m pretty sure my heart it could use some stem cells, stem cells.” Empathy rules supreme through the summer doldrums chords of melted cares found on “Mark Looks Parched”, to the quick packed frenetic poetics of “Stress Breath” , talking in tune before bringing the real buzzy-wave-crashing coolness of “Haze For Days”, to the genius panic-attack-inducing Adderall angles of “Past Pussy Potential”, to the anger management course “Shooting Spree”, that closes up the entire album with the ‘OMG’ sentiments that drift off to the distance with a linger love for the boredom that can inspire the most proactive of artistic visions. Check out our interview with the band:

Tell us the story on how Thurst became to be an unquenchable, inexhaustible LA art garage phenomenon?

Man! Say that 10x fast. Haha As brother and sister we’ve always wanted to have a music project. We rented a rehearsal space back in 2013, and it just started happening. Even in the beginning we took pride in playing music that spoke to us more than our listeners, knowing that those who listened would truly understand & appreciate what we were doing.

Were you inspired by the Patricia Arquette refrain from True Romance for the title of your debut album, YSFC (You’re So Fucking Cool)?

Alabama! What a babe. One of our favorite movies! Unfortunately no, but loving the reference. The song “YSFC” started with the slamming out of drums & power cords & all of us screaming “YOU’RE SO FUCKIN COOL!” We knew in the end we wanted the song to be an angsty slay on the LA scene, the government..ideally no stone would be left unturned, but the song would have never ended. Haha It only seemed suitable to name the album after one of our earliest & most heart felt tunes.

What was it like for you all writing and sketching out the garage grinders on YSFC?

Most of the material on the album came about very spontaneously when we were all in the same room together getting weird, which comes pretty naturally to us. It’s difficult to really know how our songs will turn out until we all jam on them. Kory has always written music from a place of passion, and although the melody is a significant part of the song, it can be drastically shifted by the drum beat & bass line. This is the part of writing that’s really exciting and inspiring for all of us.

I feel like the album sort of takes the ennui, bored side of LA and celebrates it like a ‘we’re all in our own world and it’s awesome’ vibe which is actually really exciting to listen to. What is the secret to creating a scuzzy, DIY world where you make everyone feel included?

By living in a scuzzy DIY world. It comes pretty naturally to preach what you practice. We didn’t grow up with much, and in turn learned to really appreciate the will and hard work that goes into not having shit handed to you. We also prefer the ‘bored’ life. Chill times listening to system of a down, head banging, and drinking brews. We are family after all & the more the merrier!

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Give us the story on the titles too that are a crack up like “Past Pussy Potential”, “Stress Breath”, “Mark Looks Parched”, “Fact Is Friction”, etc. Can you tell us a little bit about the song title selecting process for you all?

That’s all Kory! We can hardly keep up with half the things coming out of his mouth. He’s amazing at freestyling too—definitely put him on the spot. Through researching stress causing symptoms—chronic bad breath was on the list…thus resulting in stress breath, and Mark is typically a very hydrated man.

Latest and greatest things you all are digging happening in LA right now?

LA has lots to dig. Thankfully the bored side of LA has people reverting back to simpler ways of living – from the food we consume, to the way we listen to and play music, which is necessary for the overall evolution & survival of us as a species. We can always dig the amount of live music in LA. Supporting local artists and businesses is the main happening for us, and we can always count on something rad & authentic happening in LA. It also doesn’t hurt being surrounded by beautiful canyons to escape to. Gives the city a great balance.

What sort of prospects and projects are next for Thurst?

We’ll be recording some new tracks soon, and are super excited to share them! YSFC was definitely an outcome of our earlier tunes, and we are chomping at the bit to dish out what’s next! We’re super excited to now be a part of such a rad up and coming label, Unsatisfied Records, and we can’t wait for what’s next to come. Creating has always been an act of love & enjoyment for us, so as long as it stays that way the projects and prospects will continue churning!

Read the full feature here.

Manatree

Standing out from the crowd—Richmond, VA's Manatree.

From Richmond, VA; meet the clever quartet Manatree who deliver us a debut first listen to the the neat and succinct sound of their first album. On their new EggHunt Records, secondary school chums Jack Mayock, Tristan Fisher, Noma Illmensee, and Alex Elder run through the cycle of sharpening their shared musical bonds that bring songs for seasons past while sorting out tomorrow’s sonic systems of science. These talents are further steered by local band Avers’ Adrian Olsen on production that delivers crisp tones from a band that is breaking in their own sense of sound and statements of self, and sung thoughts.

The artful aspects of arithmetic applied rock has been thrown around when describing Manatree, as the band sticks to strict and quick cues and rhythm chord call and response progressions that are heard in full bloom on the opening “Fat Jackson”. The equations and algorithms are depicted in longhand form on the scuzz encrusted “Something”, playing feedback like brass instruments that drops you into the catchy mental states of being and mind composites on “Beeswax”, that take you to the tropical calculations of cascading chord hooks and endearing expression that burst on the lauded single “Animal Quietlies”.

Nostalgic notions shift to childhood reflections of youthful episodes that moves like a series of flashbacks on “Children”, right before taking a power chord guitar pause of “Moments”, followed by the imaginative and inspired high rising hopes on “Invisible Egg”, to the progressions and harmonies that softly soak up the summer sun beams like sunscreen on “Cruisin’”. Longtime forged friendships hold tight like a group huddle through the sound of solidarity heard on “All Our Old Friends”, sailing through the infectious righteous rhythm roll stack folds of “Static” that unfurl with a passion, to the local lines of thoughts, observations, anecdotes, and recalled moments of cherished sublime meanings on the closing song, “City Park”. Read our interview with the band that is as candid, and personal as their music.

What’s good these days in Richmond, Virginia?

Richmond is growing a lot, so it’s really fun to be in the arts scene right now. Everyone collaborates all the time, and there’s this closeness between musicians and artists of drastically different styles which might not be found in larger cities. There are certain genre based cliques, like the math rock crew Subterranea Collective, the funk/soul label Jellowstone records, all of the noise artists, and the punk and metal scenes, but there’s still a theme of interconnectedness between many of these artists.

There are tons of festivals all the time too, like the Richmond Folk Festival, the local radio station WRIR’s Commonwealth of Notions and Party For the Rest Of Us, and weekly summer concert series Friday Cheers. Restaurants, cafes, and bars pop up all the time too, and the craft beer scene is quickly growing thanks in part to breweries like Legend and Hardywood Park, (which is a great venue as well). Plus there’s always the James River.

Give us the story on the name…I have always wondered whether or not it was inspired by the Square/Enix game (then just Square) Secret of Mana from the 90s heyday of SNES, or is it something deeper here?

After a fifteen minute discussion about what sort of story we would tell you about the history of our band name, or what wild series of events lead us to pick “Manatree,” we decided to tell you the truth. “Manatree” is just a made up word that we thought sounded good as a band name. Plus its easy to type.

For your debut LP, there is a feel of both summer, earnest sentimentality, and all that; looking back how did you all approach the process of making your first proper full-length record?

This record is a culmination of songs we wrote throughout high school, featuring the ones we liked the best and kept playing and improving on. These songs aren’t really connected through any particular musical or lyrical theme, but that they were written by us when we were still discovering what music was and figuring out how to write it. We think of this album as a preservation of the songs we made throughout high school, which was important to us since we were trying so many things for the first time.

What does a regular, or irregular song-storming creative sesh like for you all? Any preferred methodologies that any of you subscribe to for song craft over another?

There’s no primary method to the way we approach songwriting, and especially on the record, every song is written differently. We feel like that’s what has allowed the songs to be pretty different from each other. We’ve always written songs together, rather than having one main songwriter teach everyone else the parts. Whether it’s a riff that we’ve played around with for a few hours until new ideas spring up, or a rough structure that is brought to practice, flushed out together, and then finished by a different person, the songs are all written collectively. Its a very long, slow process of revisiting and revising songs, even if we think they’re complete. Suddenly an old riff from two years ago will make perfect sense as a bridge or something. That’s why it’s taken so long for us to put out this record.

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Some local artists or elsewhere that you believe need more credit for doing amazing, and wondrous things for the world, and their communities?

Richmond has had a profound impact on our lives growing up, and has been super inspirational. The scene is really expansive beyond just a few indie bands, which is echoed in the variety of the festivals we have, pretty much year round. From the Richmond Folk Festival to the local radio station WRIR’s Commonwealth of Notions, and the weekly summer concert series Friday Cheers, there are festivals all the time. We were recently part of a really great sort of off-the-internet weekly acoustic concert series in a public park, which was really unique and helped us a lot with figuring out how to acoustically arrange our songs as well, and do more with less.

There are a ton of great Richmond bands though that have shaped us more than pretty much any other more famous band. The Trillions power-pop shred fest of energy and fervor has been probably the biggest inspiration as far as contemporary indie rock goes, and you should definitely check out their latest record, Superposition.

We’re also big fans of Orangutang and Kickball from the west coast, who are really fun and that not many people know about. Local bands like Spooky Cool, Sports Bar, My Darling Fury, and a ton of others have shown us how much fun playing and writing music can be, and are all super unique, but work well together. Gallery 5, run by the guys in Night Idea and Dumb Waiter, is a really cool gallery that hosts shows and various community events like the First Fridays art walk. We played with Ava Luna there and they’ve totally impacted our new songs and creative process.

We’re really lucky to be on EggHunt Records too. They’re proving to be a really great record label for Richmond, as well as Raleigh (Daddy Issues), Virginia Beach (Feral Conservatives) and Denver (Oko Tygra). Some of our favorite bands in Richmond are on or will soon be joining us on the label (Clair Morgan, White Laces, Diamond Center) and we’re excited to see how far all of us can take it. Adam and Greg, who run Egghunt, are super collaborative and are great at working with everyone on the label to push it as a community based organization, rather than just a single person’s vision dominating the creative process.

What else can we expect next from Manatree?

We’ll probably just stop playing music.

Actually though, we’re all working on increasing our technical ability as individual musicians so that we can communicate more fluidly and effectively when new ideas are brought to the table. We’re deeply inspired by certain jazz musicians as well as music from other genres that rely heavily on improvisation, and we’ve been trying more and more to bring a spontaneous, improvisational spirit to these rigid pop songs we’ve written, mostly to keep things fresh and enjoyable after playing them a lot. Audiences can feel it when there’s genuine inspiration being experienced on stage, and it definitely makes the entire performance better. Our hope is to write songs that are strong enough at their core, that we can bring in new people whenever we want and approach them with new arrangements and sounds, the way a group of jazz musicians might approach old standards. A lot of our new songs are also inspired by the arrangements and dynamics of electronic music, be it the textured, atmospheric works of Aphex Twin and Actress, or the sparse compositions of contemporary R&B artists such as Frank Ocean, Chet Faker, and Usher. Its interesting to attempt to bring aspects of the electronic music we like to the music we play, while also keeping our traditional guitars, bass, and drums set up live.

Manatree’s self-titled will be available July 31 from EggHunt Records. Read the full feature here.

USF

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We last heard from USF’s Jason Baxter and Kyle Hargusover a year back with the release of their SIMISM EP that provided song cycles that spawned the senses and simulations of digital municipal city like environs. Recorded at the same time was enough music for a complimentary follow up EP that creates the atmospheric settings of a desert oasis at the fall of night with the Oasism EP released today from Ceremony Recordings. More than solely an audio exclusive artifice unto itself; Oasism is also an interactive musical adventure game (think the hey day of Lucasfilm Games / LucasArts computer games like Loom, Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, etc) with art and design by Dan Miller and USF, coded by David Casagrande. The result is everything you have been waiting for since SIMISM and more that shape-shifts into mirages of every audio sensation you have been craving this summer combined with interactive throwback digital media arts.

As you entire into the barren landscapes of rock formations, dry trees, vagabonds, hidden treasures, skulls and more; Jason and Kyle welcome you to the next USF level with “Spires” that creates vocals that rise in patterns of sky bound pointed sample edits. Like the mysterious and desolate vibe of the game and atmospheres of Oasism, “Unknown” plays up the elusive factor with a big beat house jumping party designed for any party at any desolate location. Keeping the party off the grid, “Brian Coral” runs drum & bass jungle patterns that treats the synthesizers as if they were choral strings attached to symphonic band backing. The throes of destitution and decisive action are displayed through the pensive button pushing and sequencing of “Last Boat BAck” that stirs a super-forward cinematic sensation of a celluloid hero who has missed the last ship or ferry departing back for home. The following confrontation with forces of the unknown are heard in the last battle rumble theme “Then Color” that keeps the adrenaline pumping in constant series and layers of rhythms. The finale credit roll closer “Datamoshing” creates a rolling series of suites where USF unleashes everything they have in their arsenal which puts the finishing memorable touches on the duo’s most ambitious multimedia work to date. Read our interview with Jason and Kyle followed by a preview of the interactive component of the EP.

First, the obligatory question about what has been happening with the two of you between the makings of SIMISM and the new Oasism EP?

Jason: Originally the songs on both EPs were written and recorded at the same time, but once the decision was made to split them into two EPs, we spent a long time reconceptualizing the songs on Oasism as their own beast.

Kyle: We recorded a new track to sit alongside the others (“Then Color”) and began planning the corresponding interactive site, which was designed by our friend Dan Miller, who’s an awesome pixel artist working out of New Orleans, and coded by David Casagrande from Ceremony. Dan also designed the EP cover artwork, which inspired the futuristic desert milieu of the site.

What is the story behind the titular obsession with “ISMs” and how did that influence the release titles?

Jason: SIMISM was our attempt at a made-up addition to the technobabble [sic] lexicon, like some of the weirder phrases or words that have entered modern everyday conversation (‘Googling,’ ‘blog,’ ‘screencasting,’ ‘meme’).

Kyle: We wanted to keep some consistency in the titling of the EPs, so we kept the “ism” suffix and chose ‘oasis’ for this release to highlight the music’s atmospheric landscape. SIMISM was meant to evoke the city at night, and Oasism the desert at dusk.

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How did you two go about building this type of sonic, bliss-decorated oasis in six tracks?

Kyle: There was a definite effort to segregate the more pop-leaning, dance-oriented tracks to SIMISM and save the more compositionally rich and textural songs for OASISM. If we can get dumb and philosophical about the title, many of these songs could conjure the feeling of suddenly encountering a lush, water-rich oasis within an endless desert, reflected by smaller movements or key changes that cut through them and disrupt the emotion or momentum.

Jason: We also went ape in the studio with the Eventide Harmonizer in particular, that’s for sure.

Feels like the relationship between the drum sequencing and the synth progressions are on an even more adventurous charter, like on “Last Boat Back,” “Brain Coral,” etc. Is this conscious?

Kyle: Yes, absolutely. Adventurous is totally the word we’d use. There’s a less-exuberant, more complicated undercurrent to most of these songs, which necessitated more variety both rhythmically and melodically. On “Last Boat Back” we really worked to pack that song full of hazy analog gloom, with a kind of itinerant structure and an unusual tempo.

Jason: “Brain Coral” started as kind of an acid house homage but ended up more sentimental and downcast in the end.

I like how the technological angle is always at work, for instance on the pixelated pump of “Then Color” and on the compression sample-exercise of “Datamoshing.” How do you take the digital and the natural and combine them in your music?

Jason: That’s kind of been our M.O. from day one, and we definitely wanted to emphasize that in a literal sense with both the artwork and the interactive site. Part of it comes down to the combination of software and analog equipment we employ, and part of it derives from our unwavering desire to include atmospherics and abnormal soundscapes amidst a more traditional “electronica” framework.

Kyle: There’s so much going on in “Datamoshing” (hence the title), I think we have an off-tempo synth arpeggio, flutes, vocal samples, some birds I sampled at Iguazu Falls in Brazil… so it kind of necessitated some hard compression. But we really ended up liking how it sounded when we flattened all of that and let the drums and synth washes kind of ride atop it. That song is full of movement.

Describe what the USF summer 2015 edition has been like thus far.

Kyle: I haven’t been working, so I spent two months driving across the country to New Orleans and throughout the South earlier this summer. That was a blast. Since I’ve been back in Seattle, I’ve just been doing a lot of cooking and reading.

Jason: My day job’s been keeping me extremely busy, and I’ve been doing a fair amount of cross-country traveling of my own, though I’ve still found time to “enjoy” one of Seattle’s hottest summers of all time.

Plan for fall/winter?

Jason: We are hoping to hit the road soon, and are very hard at work on a new batch of songs that take our sound in a very different direction while still staying recognizably ‘USF.’

Kyle: Right, that’s the other thing I’ve been doing. We’ve got some really fierce tunes in the chamber. And a couple really epic bummers too.

USF’s Oasism is available now from Ceremony Recordings.

Experience the full interactive Oasism game/EP here designed by Dan Miller with coding by David Casagrande. Read the full feature here.

Joey Fourr

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We were introduced to the UK’s Joey Fourr last February with word of the album To The Floorr from MÏLK Records and Atelier Ciseaux, and we have the world premiere for the gender-bending lo-fi style crossover of “Crossdresser” directed and choreographed by Joey. Featuring set design from Lady Neptune, filmed by Jack Barraclough, produced by Hattie Ladd, and filmed at Kluster Room Studios; the recitation of “if you want it” present our protagonist Joey indulging in a trophy winning alter-ego decked out like like an alt version of Miss Chiquita. Keeping up with the colorful motif of all things Joey Fourr, red, purple, and pink balloons make up the background as a foreground frame of flowers and fruits outline all the eccentric action that follows.

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The video for “Crossdresser” begins with the trophy award ceremony that pronounces with onscreen words that state “JOEY FOURR WINS BEST DRESSED FISH” presenting a fruit stuffed silver cup that excretes a viscous type of syrupy liquid. What occurs next is a series of post-gender posturing and poses that relishes a DIY sense of vogue that claims the belle of the ball title like a transgendered take on fashion week functions and catwalk presentations of colorful couture. “Crossdresser” runs at a quick paced collection of fun filled chords and a hoppy rhythm section that runs freely in a song about dressing and acting out what you feel from within. Hand and facial gesticulations diva it up for the camera, as a rain of feathers fall from above as Joey Four drives home the message of “if you want it, you can have it.’

Joey described to us the making of the video with the following words:

“If you want it, you can have it”——so feeling fabulous and having fun was how I wanted the video to look. I wanted the video to bring to the song something outrageous and and colourful and confusing and funny. Jack (drums) lit and filmed, Moema (bass) made the frame and styled the shoot, Hattie Ladd let us consume Kluster Rooms for the day and threw a tonne of feathers over me and Minnie Honour Blackman beat my face into the Best Dressed Fish.

Read the full feature here.

diNMachine

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Nisi Jacobs and Michael Schumacher of diNMachine talked with us in the following interview session:

With your background in painting from Cooper Union, how have you found your visual art side informing your audio artist?

Nisi: I was drawn to painting because of the sensual relationship to matter, texture, form. I used to spend many hours staring at the surfaces of paintings, thick, glazed, envision the brush as it dragged through the oil paint or egg tempera or plaka or watercolor, nearly smelling it. I loved black ink pens on bristol board, water color with viscous thickeners, oil paint with lots of linseed oil or straight out of the tube with sable, bristol, synthetic brush types, angles, tapered, thick, thin. I had an immediate connection to materials and spent hours at Pearl Paint on Canal Street in the little Windsor Newton room smelling and looking at pigments in their untouched tubes. Water, oil, pigment, canvas, board, paper, it was a relationship to the world of mediums and their possibilities. I refused to use a computer and did my papers for my classes at Cooper on an Olivetti electric typewriter with ivory white-out that didn’t match the tone of the paper.

I played piano for eight years, stopping lessons after learning The Viper’s Drag by Fats Waller, my mother’s favorite musician. I studied three-piece drums for about two years, experimented with my father’s TEAK 4-track recorder, and then studied Senegalese African dance for a decade. That began early on at Cooper and became an obsession that began to inform my visual art. I started making large unwieldy clay sculptures that a sculpture teacher told me reminded him of erotic Indian temple art. I think it is these many experiences with tactile erotic sensual art forms and a constant resonance with various mediums that informs and enriches my bass playing. I come to the bass and look at it as a drum with pitches, a keyboard with percussive capabilities, a perfect instrument.

I find myself consistently applying two main ingredients from my visual art side: first, it has body, warmth, texture, all the physical qualities I loved exploring through paints and brushes, and second, I memorize shapes, sequences musical systems on the page. Michael’s writing for diNMachine is highly asymmetrical: there are 4 bars of this and 8 bars of that, followed by 7 bars of this and then 9 bars of that, and so on. There may be one or two bar time signature changes in there, too. So find myself memorizing the material on the page so that when I’m performing, I’m reading the score like a visual map in my mind. I think this is something most musicians don’t do or can’t do. It’s my strong visual abilities coming into play in a unique way. Once this process is deeply assimilated, and I’m ‘reading’ freely in my mind, the payoff is that the music takes on all sorts of hues and qualities of light. I think a lot of musicians get to this state, it’s a high, for me, it’s full of color and space and something I can’t describe with words, I just know when I’m in it. It’s like being in a painting, better than you could ever imagine painting. I don’t understand how I go in one side and come out the other but it’s now a predictable method I can rely upon.

Recent years have seen a push toward artists working in multiple disciplines in both fields of visual media and music…why do you think this, and do you find that the both respective art forms relate to one another?

Nisi: I can’t really do this. There isn’t enough time. And it’s like being fully married to two people at the same time. Something is going to snap. You can’t really share yourself with two processes. If your process is composing, you are a composer. If your process is painting or photographing, that’s your process. If your process, like mine, is learning this odd and beautiful diNMachine material, it’s a full-time arrangement. I can’t also paint, etc. All that gets siphoned into the process I’m married to now. I don’t miss anything. I earn my living editing because it’s a craft I worked hard to master and I enjoy it. But it’s not my process, it’s at the service of another’s process. If I whip together a poster for a show, it’s fun and I enjoy it, but it’s at the service of my real project which is diNMachine.

However, your question is a good one and you’re really asking if both respective art forms relate to one another. And the answer to that is definitely yes. I’m just not sure how to fully do both. I think it’s why visual artists and musicians have always had a strong affinity. They often marry, partner, or collaborate. The art forms relate but so do the people that are often drawn to create those art forms. A couple comprised of a visual and audio artist often seem to blend into one compete person. Most visual and musical art works with the following qualities so it makes sense that they resonate: composition/form, symmetry/asymmetry, shape/line, negative/positive space, mass/weight, color/tone, theme/variation, emotion/concept, originality/referencing, improvised/prepared, filtered/unfiltered, effects/natural.

How do you manage the balance between your visual art endeavors and musical endeavors?

Nisi: My musical endeavors seem to siphon or utilize my visual strengths in a creative way. I don’t really balance them; my musical endeavors form the core of my striving, influenced and nourished by my visual art background and sensibilities. My visual art endeavors pay my rent, they’re concrete and realistic. My musical endeavors make life fun and exciting. They’re very different.

What was it like working with producer Bill Laswell for 2014’s Dance To Reason?

Michael: Like what it must be like to work for Santa Claus, everything a gift. I’d been working on the record for about six months; this was a completely new process for me; for a long time I’d been making multi-channel sound installations that were in museums and art galleries. The point is I needed someone with the right ears and the right skills to and so far I hadn’t found that person; I’d been working with someone but he didn’t know how to keep the energy of the drums and bass and keep all the other layers intelligible. I had a gut feeling about Laswell because of the range of his experience and the sense that the core of his sensibility was rhythm and bass. And I was right! He didn’t just mix the tunes, he reshaped them, which is why he is credited as co-producer. He performs his mixes, very different than the prevalent approach, which is to use compression to balance.

What can you tell us about what to expect from dinMachine’s forthcoming 2016 slated album?

Michael: It will be a sonic journey, every song another place to explore. The sound will be tighter than the first record; a little more consistent, in terms of instrumentation, from track to track. Like the first it’ll be a mix of genres, from track to track, within a song and even in the layering of styles. Also, we got help from two amazing musicians: Oz Noy and Black Saturn. We’ve also got several really talented people working on videos for songs on the album so there will be a lot of great material rolling out.

What are you most excited about for your upcoming show at ShapeShifter Lab?

Michael: We’ll be joined for one song by Brian Chase on percussion. I’m excited to be trying two new tunes that are completely different from anything we’ve ever done before, including one that adapts “Pig in a Pen” that I’m calling “I gotta pig”. I’ve been a fan of Philippe Petit for a while so hearing him live along with seeing Leon Gruenbaum’s brand new project with Samchillian and looping, and finally hearing Michael Durek’s SK Orchestra.. it’s going to be a serious night of experimental electronic pop rock. ShapeShifter Lab is also just a great space in their attention to sonic detail and acoustics.

Most exciting lesser sung Brooklyn artist right now?

Michael: Bassoon

diNMachine’s Dance to Reason is available now via Bandcamp. Read the full feature here.

Telegraph Canyon

An intimate session with Telegraph Canyon; photographed by Brittany Sassaman.

An intimate session with Telegraph Canyon; photographed by Brittany Sassaman.

Fort Worth, Texas’s Telegraph Canyon release their new album You From Before today on Velvet Blue Music, and we present the world premiere of the video for “Why Let It Go” that takes you through tempestuous circumstances to the things in life that matter the most. Following up the album The Tide and The Current, the ebb and flow nature of time and character are taken on journeys that recollect the familiarities that continue to hold a staying power and presence in the current day. Christopher Johnson, Bobby Zanzucchi, Austin Green, Chuck Brown,Tamara Cauble Brown, and Erik Wolfe convey the conversations inspired by relationships in adaptations of harmony, melody, and rhythm penned for live performances.

The debut of the Brandon Schwindt video for Telegraph Canyon’s “Why Let It Go” finds frontman Christopher catering to a unexplained shiner in a bathroom before entering into a situation of dangerous liaisons. The song begins as the situation gets heavy in a barbershop where our hero is confronted by henchmen goons, flourishes his handgun pistol before driving off to a happening house party. A song about addictions, close connections, attachments, and more croons over the video’s wild ventures into busting up games of chance that then begins to set things in reverse motion. All the action witnessed in the video for “Why Let It Go” is then depicted in reverse where the chronology unfolds in a rewound order that ends with our trucker capped, sunglasses sporting night rider safe at home with his family. We had a moment to catch up with Telegraph Canyon’s Christopher Johnson in the following conversation.

What sort of inspirations for you guided the making of You From Before?

A wild few years and a bunch of highs and lows. There’s the personal side of the lyrics and the ‘Man, I like to write new and different kinds of songs’ side to everyone of them. I wrote them all about relationships that I’ve had. Some heavy, some positive but most are a little bit of both. More like conversations than anything really. I had never done this much before, instead leaning on questions or ideas about life that were banging around in my head. As for the music side of it, I wanted to make songs that we would enjoy performing.

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Tell us about the adaptation of “Let it Go” for a video about a family man, con man who knocks off a barbershop, causes a pool hall brawl, but still makes time for his loved ones.

The video doesn’t really have anything to do with what the song was written about. We chose this route because we thought it was more interesting to make something that was humorous but still had some dark slant to it.

What currently music-wise do you find inspiring?

War on Drugs as been spinning at my house all summer long.

Next in the cards for Telegraph Canyon?

Lots of touring! We love being on the road and that’s what the next six months hold.

Telegraph Canyon’s album You From Before is available now from Velvet Blue Music. Read the full feature here.

Michael Stasis

Exploring the wonderful world of Michael Stasis.

Michael Stasis’s residence in the Bay Area was a welcomed beacon of light and sonic adventurism. Exray’s frontman/ producer/writer/multi-disciplined artist Jon Bernson sung Stasis’s praises as one of the world’s lesser known creative beings of indescribable importance. The above feature photo was captured during an inspired Noise Pop performance from 2013, where Michael and I chatted afterwards about the versatile applications of emphases, stylistic elements, and studies in sonic alchemy. Flash forward to today, where the currently LA based artist has just released his album RIP III on the esteemed Arbutus Records imprint, presenting a compiled compendium of creative sketches fleshed out to fully imagined form. RIP III is an immersion into a world of outsider observation with insider smarts; new songs, old songs, familiar songs, strange songs and a blend where power pop pastorals meet the strange world of weirdness, characters, post-Tolkien hobbit rock that break grounds for realms realer than middle earth kingdoms.

The idyllic green gables roll by effortlessly on the opener “Venus Of Soap” that glistens with the prestige of vintage fantasy pop that glimmers with the charm of the nuclear age. The live favorite “Brown Cow” shoots above the sky with the rolling, side-winding whirr and whimper of a turbine engine of cosmic crop-duster taking visual inventory of livestock. Warbling captured audio stems set the analog-angled “Crushed” that finds Stasis defending the title in the canon of your favorite lo-fi loving cassette cradling heroes, to the multi directional devotions that take the crossroads less traveled on the triumphant “All The Ways”. Humor remains a staple in the song cycle survey of the absurd in the tongue-in-cheek cultural satire “Land Of The Goths”, right before embarking on break-neck wizardry on tour de force arrangements found on songs like “Little Devil”, tearjerker ballads from alternate dimensions like “The Necklace”, or the clap along widsom wielding “Surface Area” that hits the heart with the memorable lyric of “don’t let the fires of liars burn your hardware.” Wendy Carlos Moog modes inform the Korova Milk Bar magic land on the interlude “The Dairy Queen”, to “Greenskin” that finds Michael in his mode of making transformative songs, echoing the aches on the underground echo burrowing “Pain”, leaving you with the sparse electric story time strummer of campfire style smolders on the sad song “Smokey”. Read our following interview with Michael Stasis for a unique and deep look into the outlooks, and insights from a formerly obscure artist on the rise finally receiving proper recognition.

The geographical travels of Michael Stasis are remarkable, and infamous. I know I have heard from the Bay Area crew that your own creative visions have impacted a lot of like-minded talents like Bart Davenport, Jon Bernson, Mwahaha’s Ross Peacock, etc. How much do you find yourself influenced by environments, and others, and at what points can you identify it in your own work?

I have no idea if I’ve had an impact on the people you mentioned, but they certainly got me excited about living out a specific dream. All of those guys (Bernson, Davenport, Peacock, Jason Kick and others) are lifers and that’s the kind of energy I draw from. The takeaway from these guys is “keep going.” And not “keep going until you’re famous” but more like spiritual survival. You’ll die if you give up. Don’t betray yourself. I met some of them right around the time I sold my only guitar and these interactions at shows in San Francisco made me realize I didn’t have to “get serious about life” and pursue a different path from the one that truly resonated. So I got a better guitar. I saw Bart play a Christmas show and I was really into his groovy, almost perverted pop and it got me inspired that a relative unknown (at the time) had amassed such a huge catalog of really good songs and that he had been performing strong shows for years. He was alive!

That’s why I’ve moved a lot, because I never know when I’ll see the next thing that shocks me awake to new possibilities. I can pin-point the times I have gotten too comfortable and it always feels like death is right around the corner, so I have to move. In my own work, each place has expressed itself in terms of longing. I have never felt at home anywhere and I’ve always longed for community. Always felt like an observer and not a participant. I’m from a somewhat joyfully broken home. They knew it wasn’t working and we’re all better for it. So I was raised in two different towns growing up, one was kind of a traditional public school experience and the other was like walking around in a really rich guy’s spiritual dreamscape as a poor kid. I still don’t know what to make of my upbringing. Every time I crossed the bridge into this town, reality shifted and I had to experience this long dead guy’s stunning vision of (one) reality. I learned that an entire town can be conceived of based on esoteric spiritual principles but that I’m going back to school on Monday to see some fights and eat garbage processed food. Which town is better? Am I an out-of-touch spiritual butterfly or a justice-loving public school punk? A bit of both.

We talked last about how much you listen to your own music on iTunes, and I was wondering how do these exploratory self-obsessing/critiquing techniques work to find alternate musical passages, progressions, sections, sequences, etc?

In terms of finding new material through the use of self-obsession, it’s process of elimination. If I’ve done one thing too much, I just try not to do it again, or if I just can’t help myself I’ll figure out a way to give it a new wardrobe. The only way to know is to listen to yourself a lot. Sounds gross when a musician says it, but try telling a bridge builder to stop obsessing over quality control. Also, it ensures that if I get sick of something I’ve made easily, it probably means you will too.

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How were you able to copy those mysterious moments of creative self-possession to comprise the cycle of RIP III?

RIP III is a comp, so it’s hard to sum it up in terms of one approach. Looking at the track list, it occurs to me that I wrote many of these songs in a state of panic or recovery from panic. I was drinking a lot in the Bay Area. Something bad happened, something challenged my sense of self, I read something in the news, the world is falling apart…better channel that and transmute it. That’s not all of the songs. On the lighter end, I just love to write and singing is a great way to remember that great Bill Hicks line that “It’s just a ride.”

LA always has something happening, but how do you find the world of Los Angeles fits into your own mood, perception, vision, etc?

I have only lived in LA for a year and a half, so it hasn’t really had a chance to influence the Michael Stasis material. It has inspired me to start a side-project based on the really dark side of life. But even that ends up being kind of maniacally happy sounding, though it’s very dirty. I basically made it for hyperactive thirteen year olds and it’s my dream to have a parent tell their kid to turn it down. It actually happened, I was playing it for my friends (who are parents) and they didn’t know what it was but they asked if we could turn it down! I have a soft spot for annoying music.

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Is there an RIP IV in the works?

If there is a RIP IV in the works, it means my current album isn’t going well. I want all the new stuff to be dedicated to real albums now. But there’s certainly enough old stuff to make a decent RIP IV.

Key insights on how to create fully immersive music for aspiring musicians?

Key insights on how to create fully immersive music for aspiring musicians (I will add artists of any kind)? My number one tip is first to learn how to be alone. Then learn how to be creative, alone. Don’t be afraid to be a nerd about what you love. Cool people can make you really insecure about things you love. They’re not cool. Passion is cool. Lose yourself. Be aware of trends, don’t succumb. Maybe party less. Trent Reznor didn’t make “Closer” (possibly my favorite song) because he was out at parties hoping people liked him. Maybe it started that way, but eventually you have to bolt yourself down to the chair and make something.

Michael Stasis’s RIP III is available now from Arbutus Records. Read the full feature here.

Golden Void

A new Golden Void album is imminent.

The Bay Area’s Golden Void announced their album Berkana from Thrill Jockey, heralding the most triumphant return of Isaiah Mitchell (of Earthless), Aaron Morgan, Camilla Saufley-Mitchell, and Justin Pinkerton; we were able to gain a little insight into the latest and greatest from the quartet in a roundtable interview with Isaiah and Justin to glean everything we could about the group’s forthcoming album.

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Describe for us the Golden Void dynamic that allows your songs to come together and contribute into a collective pool of expressed exhalations.

Isaiah: Aaron, Justin and myself went to grade school together and played in our first bands together. Camilla and I are married. I think those connections play a big part in the bands chemistry across the board.

Justin: It’s hard to nail us down in one place to really work on stuff, so at lot of the time we’re sort of cramming to get things done. I think if we didn’t have the connection we do, there’s a good chance we would just fizzle. But, the fact that I’ve known and played with both Aaron and Isaiah since at least junior high, and Camilla and Isaiah obviously have a connection beyond that which ultimately makes us mesh well together, helps us to just lock in once we’re all together.

Tell about what shifts were observed and felt here for your second album.

Isaiah: Berkana was put together kind of last minute so there’s an openness to it that the first record doesn’t have.

Justin: I think there was also a bit more collaboration on this one. Not just on people’s individual parts but on ideas as a whole. Only a few songs are even close to the original structure they were presented as initially. Plus we didn’t play any of these songs live before we recorded them.

How do you all feel Tim Green impacted the feel and sound of Berkana?

Isaiah: Tim was the guy I think we needed to help finalize a few of these songs and to help them blossom into what they are now. Again the album was put together pretty late in the game and we needed someone with a great knack for arrangements to help close the book on these songs. To me, Tim was the only choice.

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In what ways has say the rain shadow of Earthless contributed to the sound of Golden Void?

Isaiah: Golden Void is a very different animal than Earthless but it’s me playing in both bands so I think it’s easy to hear similarities primarily in guitar tones and phrasing.

What sorts of ups, downs, and “Astral Plane” experiences informed the album?

Isaiah: I think there’s a spirit inside the “Astral Plane” song. It’s pissed off at me. That’s exciting.

Justin: To me the ups were when we were together working on stuff. The downs were trying to work around everyone’s schedules to make that happen. The “Astral Plane” experience was when we all were together at Tim Green’s Louder Studios putting these ideas on tape and seeing them turn into songs.

What are you all enjoying the most about the Bay Area right now?

Isaiah: I’m enjoying being home in the country surrounded by trees. Getting back into surfing is wonderful.

Golden Void’s Berkana is available from Thrill Jockey. Read the full feature here.

Warm Deltas

Getting to know Warm Deltas' Cyrus Shahmir.

Cyrus Shahmir has been busying himself lately about Atlanta’s psych scene circuits working with folks from Nest Egg, Night Cleaner, and has been working on his EP Burning Paisley under his Warm Deltas moniker from Grabbing Clouds Records, and we are pleased to present you with an advance world premiere listen. These are the journeys from the Southern sectors lesser known to the minds of the pop culture consumers (exempting the good people, and great taste over at at Secret Decoder), where the the most simple and rustic means of instrumental implementation become sonic soundscape environs for the mind to play about within.

Cyrus summons the Burning Paisley EP event with the call of “Pareidolia” that begins the creation of stimuli pattern onsets initiated by strums of guitars that slowly expand to a larger, organ breathed audio mass. “Sumthin” sets the scene with a wall of guitar drone decay goes through sustained motions before unleashing conventional chord work right at the very end. Dovetailing over into the next chapter of “Paisley Witches”, the droning organ notes oscillate the sound of feelings set in a neutral lull zone, before the electric beams of audio shine forth from the console with Shahmir’s hushed vocals that existence in the ever murky ether somewhere beneath the surface of the mix on “Slow Rays Pt. 1”. Drum machines march ahead on the seesawing distortion chord graft of necessitated insistence on “All U Need”, before you are lead to Burning Paisley‘s funeral pyre set ceremony “Ashes At Dawn” where you feel like you are bearing witness to an esoteric clandestine ritual as an obscured, and hidden member of the audience that observes a service of mortal transcendence that leaves you with the field caught sounds of wind gusts, and early morning breezes that sting like icy air pine needles. Stay tuned for our exclusive chat with Cyrus Shamir himself.

Describe for us what the ATL summer has been like for Warm Deltas.

It’s been good. Weather-wise, it’s very hot and humid–nothing new there. I’ve been busy recording albums for people.

Walk us through what the making of Burning Paisley was like for you.

I suppose it was almost unintentional. I write and record songs all the time, so I guess I started consciously writing songs for some type of collection months ago but everything that was intended for that didn’t end up on BP. Some of the songs started as demos that eventually got added to and fleshed-out. Like slow rays and all u need actually were recorded on the spot, everything completely off-the-cuff, then I added stuff and mixed them.”

From these fuzzy-fidelity exercises, tell us about how you pack the vibes of “Slow Rays Pt. 1”, “Pareidolia”, to the electro drum machine buzz of “All U Need”, etc.

I record a lot, so sometimes you just need to experiment with arrangement. So, that’s those songs. They all have a skeleton be it with guitar or keys and then you explore tape echoes and whatever else will get the sound to do what you want, or approximate what you think you want or what it needs to be. The whole reason for the project was to have the space to do quiet, chill, out there kind of music—basically no restrictions but mostly to be a little more chill.

What has become the creative-ethos mantra, or say message of Warm Deltas?

I can’t say there’s a ‘message’ that needs to be discerned. It could be inferred or understood implicitly, but there’s no real combination of words that would translate what I’m putting behind this. It’s the drone, like the deepest layer in there. Sometimes it gets covered up or you almost forget it’s there, but when everything stops, you still feel it and certainly feel it when it goes away.

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What can we expect next up from Warm Deltas this fall/winter?

I’m in the process of moving to LA. So, that’s a big undertaking. I’m really excited. I have a new set of songs that will eventually turn into something–too hard to say what exactly yet, but I’m planning on doing most of it in better studios out there because, you know, they have the best ones.

What do you all have on heavy repeat over there music wise?

“Funny you ask because I found an old album I loved as a kid that I’m listening to a lot. I grew up in KY during the ’90’s so we had access to all that super-underground Louisville hardcore music that was going on at the time. The first show I ever saw was a group called Hedge. It had a big impact on me. Over the years, I kind of forgot about it then I found this tape of their only record, Every Blessing A Curse, and I was amazed at how great it still is. Maybe it’s bias but it’s damn good. For the rest of it, I do a lot of work for my friend’s bands and recording projects, so I typically listen to that for new music.”

Other ATL artists you want to give a shout out to?

Shout out to the homies, Jovontaes, Nest Egg, Sovus Radio and All the Saints.

Warm Deltas’ Burning Paisley is available from Grabbing Clouds Records. Read the full feature here.

Sabonis

Introducing Portland's Sabonis.

Through the network of independent PDX artist and imprints we discovered Good Cheer Records, ran by KPSU and XRAY operator Blake Hickman and Morgan “Mo” Troper who just released the eponymous EP from Sabonis. A sort of Northwest supergroup in their own right whose name takes after retired Portland Trail Blazer Arvydas Sabonis; Maya Stoner, Cyrus Lampton, Michael pbell (formerly of Forest Park), Jarret Domen (from Your Rival), and Edward Beaudin (The Bustling Townships, Zoogirl) bring about the ferocity and emotional heavyweights from all your favorite underdog compact disc/jewel cased heroes.

The near calculated brilliance of the Sabonis self-titled is that they make it sound so effortless and easy. At first listen “More Time” affects with the catchiest and emotion appealing chord and vocal round arrangements on a topic that we all identify with according to individual experiences. Haunted fears of growing up, getting old, and the specter of humankind’s mortality cut to the core with more beautiful assemblages of chords, rockling with a raw emotive and earth grounded sprinkling of sound sodium on personal out pour of feelings on “Old Salt”. Sabonis situates all songs in the key of real life rawness, and sentiments that seek answers, communicative questions as heard on “Say”, to the effects of absentia on the alt. art-fuzz core of “Gone”. Join us for our entertaining interview roundtable with the entire Sabonis crew.

With a combination of talents from local Portland independent lore like Forest Park, Your Rival, The Bustling Townships, Zoogirl, etc; how did you all find yourselves distilling your collective talents together as Sabonis?

Cyrus: I think we all had a lot of appreciation for each other as musicians when we were growing up and all wanted to play together. Basically our former projects broke up around the same time for various reasons and we all needed something. Here we are 2 years later putting out our first release.

Edward: We didn’t distill our past projects and influences so much, we just kinda mushed them together. Like two handfuls of booty-meat.

Michael: While choosing each member was a no brainer, being that we were already friends and fans of each others work and styles, the fact that we were all available, and at perfect timing was the real kicker.

Maya: Before we were in Sabonis, Mike, Cyrus and I were in another band. Before we were in that band, I was in other bands that played shows with bands the boys were in. I was fifteen when I first played a show with one of Ed’s bands. Ed was in a band called A.P.E. SHIT (short for: All Punks Eat Shit) and I was in a band called Plasmic Stallion. I remember Ed heckling my band a little. I think he was wearing short red shorts. When I think about that show it reminds me that it’s been about a decade of at least going to the same shows as my bandmates. At the time when Sabonis started, all our past bands had dissolved but we didn’t want to stop playing music together, so it just made sense.

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How do and where do you all feel all these previous influences impacting the inspirations that contribute to Sabonis?

Edward: When Maya, Mike and I first started playing and writing together, we were all about playing it as slow and sad as possible. We wanted to sound like bedhead, duster, codeine, all that stuff. But when Cyrus joined he brought this dynamic, sorta hyper, groove based drum style that injected more energy into it. Then when Roc started whacking his bass off on the tracks, shit got heavy. So now we are just a dirty-dicked classic rock band of single fathers. Whatcha gonna do?

Maya: Our past relationships as musicians have made it easier to form a really collaborative band in which it is easy to trust one another with ideas. I could never imagine myself bringing a song idea to a band I had just met over Craigslist or something. A little musical trust goes a long way. For example, I just wrote a song from my dog’s perspective… That’s a weird idea but I wasn’t afraid they’d hate me for it and I also wasn’t afraid they’d ruin it.

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There are so many heavy things on the EP from the much lauded and loved opener “More Time” to the crushing closer of “Gone”. How do you all work out these kind of internal personal reckonings into the craft of chord melody and harmonies?

Cyrus: We push ourselves to become better and to always try new shit. Sometimes it can be a chaotic process but usually we’re able to make stuff happen pretty fast. There’s a lot of love in it.

Edward: The lyrics are pretty secondary to the song structure most of the time, and the song structure is pretty patchwork, meaning we allow each other to fill gaps in our ideas. None of us really know anything about musical theory, we are more practical, hands on type players, except Roc, who went to school for it and is a maestro. Not to say we just throw shit together, it’s that we don’t want to overcompose [sic] before we bring it to the table. A lot of our best stuff comes from jamming and ‘happy accidents.’

Michael: Once something is on the table, we will often quickly and quietly walk to our instruments and simply begin to write. An “oh boy do I have an idea for that” look can be expected to pop up on all our faces at about that point. With three guitars its a priority to leave room for each of our very different sounds to be spoken clearly. When added with our bass and drums its our goal to create large ensembles that speak to the severity of our melancholy.”

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And even though the confrontations of your songs here on the EP are so cutting, there is a levity that remains throughout the emotive charged progressions that keep us completely locked into all the action. What can we expect perhaps from a Sabonis full-length?

Cyrus: More cohesion in the content for sure. We’re already working on it and we can’t wait to put it all together.

Edward: The Sabonis full-length will hopefully have 20-30 songs across a plethora of genres and styles, additional interstitial skits and interludes, never before seen behind the scenes footage, a lot of guest rappers, and if you put it in your bluray player, nothing happens, but when you eject it, its an eggo waffle. Always trying to push ourselves, redefine the medium.

Roc 12: …

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Everyone’s favorite things about Portland these days?

Cyrus: Summer. Weed. Skinwalker. Blowout. The river.

Edward: I like nothing about Portland. Portland fucking sucks. It hurts my eyes to look at these fucking yuppies walk around in circles getting hammered like its fucking senior skip day at Disneyland. Seriously, this shit looks like a 80s beer commercial. Gaggles of pretty, fetal-looking white people in ray bans and colorful shorts that their nuts fall out of fucking high-fiving each other with ice cream cones over fucking nothing. I’d like to see it all burn. Seriously, its fucking oppressive, and that’s what Sabonis is all about. The collective misery of suppressed individuals.

Maya: Summers in Portland are really nice. I like to get a hotdog for breakfast, go to the river then come back into town and go to a bar and eat…maybe eat chicken and waffles. I spend a lot of time at the park with my pup…it’s nice to be outdoors and it’s nice to eat good food….weed.

Roc 12: Specifically the New Seasons on 20th and Division have fueled these songs and without them, we would cease to exist.

Favorite local PDX and general Northwest artists and bands?

Cyrus: Blowout, Skinwalker, Pass, Rod.

Edward: Z100, jamn 95.5, KNRK ‘the new rock alternative’, Craig the dogfaced boy, ya know, Burgerville, Nike, all that shit, um, Sassy’s, Pepe Lemoko, real underground shit, ya feel me, there’s fucking Powell’s Books, Barnes and Noble, Blockbuster, Hollywood video, Hollywood Burger Bar, little big burger, big little burger, little little tiny burger, big ass little burger with tiny ass pickles. All the greats.

Maya: Skinwalker, Bod, Drowse, Sloths…I recently saw a band called Havania Whaal that really blew my mind. I stumbled upon a show they were playing at a bar in which they played behind a makeshift curtain on the side of the room while a trippier version of the Wizard of Oz was happening on stage, complete with giant paper mache masks. They shredded hard and I was really impressed the bizarre vision they brought to life.
Roc 12: Chain 3.

Sabonis’s self-titled EP is available now from Good Cheer Records. Read the full feature here.

Youryoungbody

The latest from Youryoungbody's Duh Cripe & Killian Brom; photographed by Úna.

The latest from Youryoungbody’s Duh Cripe & Killian Brom; photographed by Úna.

Seattle duo Youryoungbody have brought you alternate sounds and sensory from the tenebrous undergrounds of the northwest now since the dawn of 2012. Duh Cripe’s voice and Killian Brom sensurround style approach to all-engulfing atmospheric production broke out in the beginning with USER, freaking the surface level sycophants out further with their “Mask” demo, the Tokyo technocracy of Kurokabi, to 2014’s hash oil vision Hashira have all encompassed the ominous allure of every latent unsettled feeling and fear that gingerly rests in the almost dormant sleeper cells of our collective unconsciousness. Presenting the world premiere of their brand new EP Betrayer; Youryoungbody have made their most beautiful and brightest nightmare narrative to date. Dismal apocalyptic audio essences and the disintegration of trusts and bonds never before sounded like this.

For those outside of the clustered Seattle circuits of scenes, privy basement shows, raucous house parties, and the like—Brom and Cripe provide a closer listen to their sound in the sharpest definition, and most piercing of pointed ambient aural projections. “January” turns the calendar back to the zero month and starts from a canvas made up of undulating synth rolls with Duh’s searching vocals being the brightest luster in the mix. The cold winter feels feed forward into “Smuther” that turns some of the more institutionalized EDM tricks and tropes (not to mention breaks, drops, build-ups, bridges, etc) on it’s head as the biggest mix beat breakers are themselves broken by smolders of decay and digital embers caused by Killian’s keen sense of effects, arrangement, and rhythm. Betrayer is like an epic novella of heroics and tragedy that feels like a furious flight through a thick deciduous forest, where “The Garden” provides a kind of clearing where Cripe takes center stage and Brom lets the synthesizers and sequenced rhythm sets dance forestall rings to create a sense of place, and circular clearing around her vocals. Youryoungbody dabble in the codes of micro-genres and production styles from the club cuffed set, the smeared eyeliner seekers of the night, and synth pop connoisseurs by twisting and deconstructing the overused dark wave designs to make an even darker cannonball splash of their own. Read our interview with Youryoungbody’s Duh and Killian for further insights.

Brom, with your background in metal groups and video game audio design and Cripe with your earth atmosphere haunting vocals-how did the two of you first discover each other, and your creative synergy connection?

Brom: I saw some videos of Duh playing folk songs she wrote on a video on Facebook, and one night I had too much whiskey and asked her if she wanted to make music. She said ‘yes’ for some reason.

Cripe: The first time we met was in an alleyway, besides online. We instantly had a really great bond, we always joke about being siblings. I guess we owe Facebook a big ‘thank you.’

How then did Youryoungbody form, and why a moniker with no spaces in between words, and why do you feel that such spacing in unnecessary and/or irrelevant?

Brom: I was watching way too many episodes of “To Catch a Predator”, and bullshitting around with my friend on how unsettling the AIM usernames on that show are. We kept sending each other made up ones until we came up with youryoungbody1999, which we later shortened to youryoungbody.

Give us the stories on causing mischief at basement parties, house shows, dropping three EPs, and how did all these experiences and more inform your new EP Betrayer?

Brom: I think our root was always to take electronic music from bloated multi-million dollar festivals and bring it back to sweaty dark basement shows where it is the most pure and fun. We would be put on bills with punk bands and the only house systems were sometimes just the smallest, worst PA speakers you could imagine. After blowing out a bunch of speakers and having to leave quickly, we’re pretty happy to be bringing the same basement feelings to larger venues where you can hear us decently.

Cripe: Every once in awhile we get asked to book a show and they think we are DJ’s or something. Which usually gives us a chuckle. With this release, I think we definitely wanted to present ourselves as dynamic musicians who don’t just press play—we wanted to remind people we’re a band.

Emerging from the forest with Youryoungbody's Duh Cripe & Killian Brom; photographed by Úna.

Emerging from the forest with Youryoungbody’s Duh Cripe & Killian Brom; photographed by Úna.

How has the metropolitan environments of Seattle impacted the moonlight tan glow cadence of your electronically imbued audio art pieces?

Cripe: When Killian and I started, we were constantly pigeon holed into some sort of genre we weren’t even sure if we identified with. I think that has caused us to really challenge ourselves and hold our music up to a standard.

Brom: A lot of Seattle venues didn’t know what to do with us. Seattle loves its guitar music. Luckily a few great spots have opened up and more really sick bands have come out recently to help that change.

Cripe: Yeah, I don’t think I’ve met one electronic band with a stinky attitude here either. That definitely helps us to feel more comfortable and supported both on stage and in the studio.

From the cold creep of “January” through the electronic full-meltdown mode of “Scabbed Over”; what sort of inspirational motifs kept you two driven throughout the drafting and recording processes?

Cripe: Lyrically “Betrayer” has probably been the most therapeutic. I talk a lot about my personal insecurities. January was a way for me to lay a lot of those feelings to rest. I was having really bad night terrors when we wrote Garden. Moss Pillows, a book in the series Voyage to the Bunny Planet would always seem to cheer me up as a kid, and was an inspiration for the song. I just kept pulling from my past and confronting uncomfortable feelings. Performing and putting these songs out means a lot.

Brom: I think we tried to make most of the songs something that you could strip down and play on a guitar or a piano. More focus on the songwriting itself.

Other underground artists from Seattle on the come up that we need to hear?

KA – Intense doomgaze stuff.

Pleather – A new amazing electronic project with former members of FF and M. Women.

DoNormaal – Extremely talented and unique rapper we’ve been working with.

Youryoungbody’s EP Betrayer is available now via Bandcamip. Read the full feature here.

Lisa Alma

Denmark's Lisa Alma; photographed by Johanne Fick.

Denmark’s Lisa Alma; photographed by Johanne Fick.

Denmark’s Lisa Alma premieres a live candid video session of her song “Fine” filmed by Klaus Elmer that features the artist performing an acoustic rendering of the affectionate song. Found off her album Sweater available from Swedish imprint Dumont Dumont, Alma’s unplugged rendition features just herself and the piano keys that allows the endearing nature of the song to take form between her breathy, almost whisper like delivery and the evocative resonance of the keys. The stripped down and back to basics approach allows for a universal expressive love letter to emerge that might have been somewhat lost by the enhancements of electronic treatments (of which Lisa is also fond of incorporating into her music) where truths shared between lovers is heard like a sung valentine that makes everything feel like it’s February 14 no matter what calendar day it is.

Klaus Elmer’s video captures Lisa Alma in her element, depicting her performance of “Fine” from various angles, from outside glass windows, in front of the piano, close-ups, and tricks that provide prismatic reflection effects. The visuals apply a focus frame that keeps all eyes and ears fixated on Lisa’s song, as her heart sprung vocals and resonance of the keys can be seen and felt moving about the room. The “you’re so fine” title chorus is conveyed with a passion reserved for the most legendary and earnest of lovers, where the feeling is punctuated by the notes that further tell a timeless tale of adoration and affection that feels almost unreal and unheard of. Elmer’s visuals assist the dreamy quality of the song, where broken hearted and parted lovers might even find a certain solace at work in Lisa’s unbound display of genuine adoration and attraction. Those that connect on even deeper levels to “Fine” might find the song as a cue to let bottled up tears flow in a cry for a love long gone, or by discovering and identifying with something at the core of Lisa’s music that cuts to a core that some of have abandoned in their own heart of hearts. Read our discussion with Lisa Alma.

Where did you discover your own approaches sound between your voice and the piano chords?

Up until now I have been writing and producing at the same time—maybe that creates a certain dynamic and connection between my voice and the piano chords.

Lisa Alma in NYC, before her Rockwood Music Hall performance.

Lisa Alma in NYC, before her Rockwood Music Hall performance.

Describe the process of weaving together the audio yarns to make your Sweater album.

I bought and old pianette which is the ongoing acoustic instrument on the album. Just the sound it helped me write a lot of the tracks and create the vibe that’s specific on this album. This time around my ambition was to create a more organic vibe combined with the electro beat/bass soundscape.

Describe the sentimental thoughts, and feelings behind the beautiful song, “Fine”.

Thank you. I think it’s one of the more positive songs I’ve ever written but I guess my thoughts were bittersweet during the writing. I was in love with someone that I knew I couldn’t get.

Between the vocals, chords, and keys with Lisa Alma.

How has Denmark and elsewhere in the world informed your approaches to sound?

I’ve had more luck audience wise internationally than back in DK.

What are you listening to a lot of right now on the road, and at home?

I just re-discovered PJ Harvey’s Is this Desire?.

lisa alma week in pop 3

I have some showcases in Germany in September. And some new video work coming out very soon. I feel the urge to write again soon and I have a very clear idea for my next album. Then I started some new collaborations with different artists. Right now I’m in New York working together with a singer called Ava Raiin (backing vocalist for Blood Orange and previous bv’s for Solange). Don’t know how this will end up but we have some new songs in the cooking.

Lisa Alma’s album Sweater is available now from Dumont Dumont. Read the full feature here.

Computer Magic

Computer Magic's Danielle "Danz" Johnson casts her biggest pop spell yet.

Presenting the single “Be Fair” off Computer Magic’s anticipated album Davos available October 16 via frontwoman Danielle “Danz” Johnson’s own imprint Channel 9 Records, Kobalt Label Services/AWAL for digital, and on vinyl through Manimal. The Rock Hill by Brooklyn, NY artist continues her catalog of releases from Kitsuné, White Iris and works up all of her electronic leaning inclinations into the economies of making the most addictive and punchy pop that utilizes all the tricks of the trade that span the keyboard rhythm bouncing effects of novelty pop to the sophistication of hiding some real, and endearing feelings and expressions beneath a maelstrom of cleverly arranged pop.

We corresponded with Danz over the effects of fairness and unfairness that informed “Be Fair”, with words on the making of Davos, and how the abandoned ski area of Davos in Woodridge inspired the upcoming album of the same name:

“Be Fair” is about how all you really need is someone to treat you with respect and to be kind and it’s easy to get along with them, maybe even fall in love with them. It’s pretty simple I guess. “Be fair and I’ll tell you I love you.”

“Davos” took a little while to complete. I first wrote the songs a couple years ago, then headed into the studio with Claudius Mittendorfer to finish them and flesh them out with analog synths and real drums. It was the first time I worked with a producer on that level and the experience was awesome. I couldn’t have found a better person to work with for the sound that I wanted.

Exploring tall heights with Computer Magic's Danielle "Danz" Johnson photographed by Mo Goodman & Chad Kamenshine.

Exploring tall heights with Computer Magic’s Danielle “Danz” Johnson photographed by Mo Goodman & Chad Kamenshine.

I grew up in a small town called Woodridge in the Catskills. My dad was the caretaker of this ski hill called The Big Vanilla at Davos, he would turn on the snow machines and make sure the lifts were running, etc. They named the town Davos after the town in Switzerland. In the early 90s, it went out of business, as well as a bunch of other huge resorts in the Catskills did at that time. The Davos sign is still there, along with the ski lodge but it’s completely abandoned now. Whenever I visit my dad I see it. I wanted to name my first record after Davos because I wanted it to pertain to something personal. Also, it sounds like it could be the name of a planet or galaxy, and I’m all about space-esque things.

Read the full feature here.

HSY

The cult of HSY; photograph by Cayden Mowbray.

The day before Toronto’s HSY released their debut self-titled EP, they made us an entertaining “Wake and Bake” Selector mix, later brought us on a privy picture tour adventure of Canada’s eastern coast in their Shot by the Band feature, and now present their first full length album Bask from Buzz Records. Premiering the Chris Chami directed and edited video for “Scratch” off their forthcoming album, stock footage of cult fright flick b-movie mash-up footage becomes the visual format to compliment the surface noise slicing distortion melodic clamor from Jude, Kat Theodorelos, Brandon Lim, Anami’s Anna Mayberry. From sessions that traded their previous beginnings in Chinatown, Toronto’s Buzz Garage [RIP] for what we are told was an “empty small town church” space; HSY brings a hustle, and a sound shrapnel-gospel of barbed wire kisses and thundering expressions that fire the VU indicator needles deep into the red, off the radar, and off the charts while somehow still retaining all the charm.

“Scratch” as a song depicts the gritty, scratched up, Brillo pad to surface sound of youth in revolt that echoes from underground Toronto, and everywhere angst and injustices are present. Jude understands full well the importance of the two minute music model, where an older song written during his teenage years gets brought to full fledged form with Anna, Brandon, and Kat’s contributions that keep the clang and clamor of motor-like metallic reverberations literally ringing out of every instrumental item and aspect of the HSY sound spectrum. The ominous and ornery tornado of feelings that spin a helluva storm around the “hey, hey, hey, hey, hey , hey, girl” chorus is heard like a band of race car drivers doing figure eights and donuts around a choir of barks, flaunted big attitudes, and the gnashing of teeth.

Chris Chami’s video for HSY’s “Scratch” utilizes the vintage 60s television camera spin transition that twirls the view in time to the loop chords, and riffs that sound like the chokes of an engine starting up it’s spin. The tilt-a-whirl effect takes us