Week in Pop: Darkswoon, Gambles, Zenizen

Sjimon Gompers

The rise of Zenizen's Opal Hoyt; photographed by BENAMIN.

Kicking off your labor day weekend proper, Impose’s Week in Pop brings you up to date with breaking exclusives & a handful of the biggest buzz we’re following right now. Big news this week as Cold Cave announced The Idea of Love 7″ EP & dropped the Amy Lee video for the a-side; Beyoncé won video of the year for “Formation” & a plethora of other awards at the VMAs; Kanye West dropped the video for “Fade” ft. Teyana Taylor & Iman Shumpert from the Cleveland Cavaliers; Yeezy & Drake billboard popped up in Los Angeles & the silicon sculptures from Kanye’s “Famous” video are now on sale for a cool four-milli; Kristin Hersh to release the double LP/book Wyatt at the Coyote Palace available October 28 (UK/Australia) & November 11 (U.S.) from Omnibus Press; Nicolas Jaar started a radio network via his Other People imprint; Tyler, the Creator expounded upon the change in his twitter handle; Hodgy (fka Hodgy Beats of MellowHype & Odd Future) dropped the mixtape Dukkha that’s a precursor to his forthcoming album; Cherry Glazerr signed to Secretly Canadian & dropped “Told You I’d Be With The Guys”; Psychic Twin dropped “Stop In Time”; Young Thug talked about the cover of his JEFFERY mixtape; The Radio Dept. dropped “Swedish Guns” off forthcoming album Running Out Of Love available October 21 from Labrador Records; Sporting Life dropped the GEORGIA directed “Hydrate The Hustle” Slam Dunk Vol I via Letter Racer / R&S; Connan Mockasin & Sam Dust (of LA PRIEST/Late of the Pier) are Soft Hair who dropped the Joseph Bird video for “Lying Has To Stop” off their upcoming debut album available October 28 from Weird World; AlunaGeorge dropped “Mediator” off her upcoming album I Remember available September 16; Devendra Banhart dropped “Saturday Night” off the upcoming album Ape in Pink Marble available September 23; Dev Hynes versus Devendra Banhart; DJ Premier remixed Desiigner’s “Tiimmy Turner”; Bon Iver dropped “33 ‘GOD'” off 22, A Million available September 30; SNL’s Jay Pharoah appears to be putting together a mixtape; HEALTH dropped “Crusher”; Donald Glover (alias Childish Gambino) dropped a look at his forthcoming show “Atlanta”; Bat for Lashes dropped the video for “Joe’s Dream”; Jack White dropped the “Acoustic Mix” of “Carolina Drama” from the Raconteurs off Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016 available September 9; Vince Staples dropped the Nabil directed short to compliment his Prima Donna EP; Nick Valensi of the Strokes’ new band CRX readies their Josh Homme produced debut album New Skin for release October 28; Action Bronson dropped the Alchemist produced track “Descendants of the Stars”; Kishi Bashi dropped the video for “Hey Big Star” off Sonderlust available September 16 from Joyful Noise Recordings; Wilco dropped “Someone to Lose” off Schmilco available September 9 from dBpm; Alicia Keys dropped “Back to Life”; Die Antwoord dropped the Ninja & Terence Neale directed video for “Banana Brain”; Killer Mike & El-P of Run the Jewels are playable avatars in “Gears of war 4”; interesting things happening in the CMJ camp; Anderson .Paak versus Lil Yachty; Cook County, Chicago legislation seeks to define music; Chvrches’ “R.I.P. Harambe” shout out at Reading Festival; Garbage Pail Kids pop parodies; MIA referred to her Zayn collaboration “Freedun” as “mainstream”; Pixies’ Black Francis/Frank Black said he’s done with solo albums; the Obamas teaming with SXSW to throw a fest titled ‘South by South Lawn’; after a much buzzed standoff, Chris Brown arrested for alleged deadly weapon assault; we lament passing of Juan Gabriel; you would not believe how many artists are supporting Robin Thicke’s appeal over the “Blurred Lines” copyright infringement kerfuffle.

Moving forward we are proud & privileged to pressent the following interviews, insights & exclusives from Darkswoon, Gambles, Zenizen, Darnum Samp, Fvnerals, HOAN, Seldom Family, Tölva, featuring guest selections by Cold Cave and more—in no particular order.


Catching up with Zenizen's Opal Hoy; courtesy of Phoebe Powell Photography.

Catching up with Zenizen’s Opal Hoy; courtesy of Phoebe Powell Photography.

Introducing Zenizen, from Opal Hoyt previously of Napoleon has been working away on her upcoming debut solo EP available in early October & we give you a beginning listen with the electronic-tinged might & majesty of “No Contact”. Zenizen provides a kind of reverse osmosis effect that reverses all the various aspects & elements of intimacy & devours them in a vacuum cleaner of a creative jambalaya that will continue to echo & resonate within you in the most unusual ways (that somehow will reveal their truths & reasoning later in life).

In the wake of Napoleon’s disbanding, Opal presents her latest visions she’s been working on since. “I joined Napoleon on a friend request from Julian,” Hoyt explained to us, “but have always been slipping towards making music and booking shows that are more like the bulk of what I listen to: pop, beats & nu-jazz. I’m excited to be heading up my own project now.” Opal further expanded upon Zenizen’s beginnings and reconnecting with school day chums: “I originally started [Zenizen] with a friend of mine from middle school and we were exploring how to combine his disco-house style and my essentially soul vocals,” she explained, “As that’s progressed I’ve been making more beats in my own style and writing for a band again.”

Beyond Opal’s own progressive & preferred styles, her travels & self-imposed regiments would yield further creative breakthroughs.
“I’ve spent time last two winters in Australia and this year I felt like I needed to do something to really move the band forward so I gave myself a number of rules for the songs that I wanted to write while I was there.” Hoyt shined some more light on the dogmatic structure she set up for herself; “All the same structure, verse chorus verse chorus bridge 2x chorus, no more than three words per chorus, no more than five per bridge, two chords only—and came up with five that I brought to a recording engineer friend down there.” From here the solid foundation of Zenizen took shape. “He helped me get a band together for the sessions and we knocked out three songs in about two and a half days. The final EP is a surprisingly accurate combination of my r & b/soul/beats/jazz interests and all the time I spent in a rock band in Brooklyn [laughs].”

With the debut Zenizen EP available in early October, Opal has been busy ever since making more solo material under the same moniker. The following single “No Contact” illustrates the solo standing confidence & resolve in one’s own autonomy through an intoxicating blend of keys, electronics, arrangements & Opal’s consciousness shifting lyrical delivery. The various synths percolate & bubble around the surface-noise skipping percussion sequencing that crystallizes Hoyt’s voice that leads to foggy spas & clandestine retreats that virtually live in their own hidden universe/dimension. “No Contact” descends like an arcade game space-ship where Opal invites all listeners to board en route to a tranquil electro-experimental escape of realization, relaxation & revelations. The lyrics emerge in & out of the mix where the beholder picks up quips like “make no sound,” “look around, being compelled to hold on for yourself,” “stand alone, build your empire on the sun,” “hand to heart,” “still apart,” “distant fears,” “stay outside these walls alone,” “so come apart,” “lose yourself to gather back,” “shifting sounds,” “match the shifting tides,” & more that take you along for the journey. Read our candid conversation with Zenizen/Napoleon visionary Opal Hoyt immediately following “No Contact”.

Describe how your creative connection to an old friend from middle school help bring about the foundation for Zenizen.

We actually didn’t hang out all that much when we were in school together but I think we were both really feeling the pull to be gone from the environment in Vermont. I came to college in NY and he went to Boston and he started sending me stuff like beats he had made just being like “this is what I’m up to now” and asking for a few vocal samples but I was kind of busy with Napoleon at the time. By the time he actually ended up moving here, Napoleon was pretty much finished and my other interests were much closer to what he was up to so we decided to see how we could collab for real. Being from the same hometown just made it easy to kind of start something together.

Tell us about what the move from Brooklyn to Australia was like for you and how your self-imposed verse chorus verse chorus bridge 2x chorus), no more than three words per chorus, no more than five per bridge, two chords only methodology impacted your upcoming EP.

So this past trip was the second time I’d been down in two years and it kind of felt more like a homecoming than anything [laughs]. The self-imposed rules were more to keep me present because it’s so easy to get lost in the existentialism of the fact that you’re literally on the other side of the planet down there. I think if anything it made the EP more representative of me rather than being restrictive because it gave me a chance to use the creative influences around to flesh out the scaffolding in my own real way rather than going off into whatever escapist fantasy I would have otherwise.

Zenizen's Opal Hoyt; courtesy of Kwame Anyane-Yeboa Photography.

Zenizen’s Opal Hoyt; courtesy of Kwame Anyane-Yeboa Photography.

How have you found your time in Napoleon has informed your other creative endeavors?

Apparently I was super pissed at Julian when the band finally broke up but honestly I don’t even really recall that at this point. Those guys were pretty much my life while I was playing with them and that’s definitely a part of every band move I make. I wouldn’t be playing or making music at all if Julian hadn’t talked me into that band. I really respect them as musicians and everything I learned from them about writing and playing so it’s kind of just ingrained—I’m not sure I could give you a solid example of how its manifested now but I am currently playing with drummer Harrison Keithline again for the new project!

Interested in hearing more insights on your creative approach to song composition.

I guess that’s one way Napoleon left an impact. Julian is a pop-rock song master. When left to my own devices I can be all over the place so keeping that in mind makes it possible for me to a; finish anything and b; combine my sometimes inventive-to-a-fault tendencies with actual real things that other people might want to recognize and/or pick up potentially. It’s also great to write with collaborators when its the right fit and I’ve been working on a full length with my friend/guitarist/engineer Benamin at Rubber Tracks. We bounce a lot of ideas off of each other and take turns keeping it from getting too weird.

What are some of your favorite things about Australia that you discovered?

Way more people know about travel and art grants and how to get them and stuff. In the U.S., all of that seems like so much of a mystery. I don’t even know I think mostly I just met so many amazing people from Australia here in NYC and over there that it really stole my heart to do anything with them. The first day I got there the first time I ever went, a friend of a friend who I had never even met just picked me up and we drove out to this watering hole and hung out all day/night. It’s really that sort of family thing. It’s beautiful.

2009 Zenizen @ Aviv 2015
Opal Hoyt of Zenizen live at Aviv; courtesy of Kwame Anyane-Yeboa Photography.

What do you feel is really exciting right now about Brooklyn?

I think so much stuff is in limbo/transition right now that there’s a lot of potential for creatives to define themselves rather than trying to fit into existing boxes. That being said, it’s still sad/scary to see so many venues shutting down/moving and friends kind of ending up on extended tours as a next step to the party scene that you kind of get attached to. But yeah, I think people are getting ready to get creative with the next steps for what can happen here.

What have you been really into lately in terms of music, visuals, literature & more?

Since I started Zenizen I also started booking shows a lot as an entity called ‘Deeper Space’. We’re actually going to be relaunching soon but it basically started as an outlet to kind of discover what was going on in terms of non-indie rock in the city since the new band only really gingerly toes that line. There’s so much creativity and soul that I’ve seen there that I’ve been constantly trying to see more of how that manifests in music, visuals, literature, everything. So basically soul music…soul visuals [laughs]. The final product takes all kind of forms though I don’t really know how else to describe it. I guess more traditionally I’ve been into more romantic stuff that I have in the past. I used to be into really distinct catchy melodies and graphic art but now I’m kind of letting go a little bit and getting into “mushier” everything. I’ve been reading poetry.

The debut Zenizen EP will be available soon, listen to more via Soundcloud.


Gambles' Matthew Daniel Siskin; photographed by Jenna Putnam.

Gambles’ Matthew Daniel Siskin; photographed by Jenna Putnam.

Gambles blew our minds & stole all of our hearts four years back with the moving song & video for “Trust” & returns with a listen from his latest cycle with the charged emotive strums & views from the interior heard on the demo “Bookend” & the new song “Hard Time Livin'”. Born Matthew Daniel Siskin, we discovered his music nearly half a decade back when the rising song-smith/troubadour was working as a creative design director (working with such clients like Beyoncé) who turned heads, opened hearts/ears & minds with the moving debut album Trust. This was the catalyst that presented new creative facets from Siskin that were something outside of his field of design/marketing/branding where intimate & painfully blunt betrayals of compromised relationships & loss sprung to life from the fabrics of the great Americana music quilt that is constantly being expanding, patched, mended/amended & more… From the late nights at Rare Book Room in Greenpoint recording with Nicolas Vernhes, the recent I Can’t Keep Still When It Comes To You EP, an upcoming show at Rough Trade NYC September 16, breaking the world exclusive news to us that Father John Misty is producing Matthew’s forthcoming album—Gambles is closer now than ever before to becoming one of the most ubiquitous household names yet.

The stark simplicity of Gambles’ demo “Bookend” is one of those once upon a time in New York City sort of songs where the sentiment of solitude & candid earnestness shines through all acoustic resonances. The chosen cover for the song illustrates the humble & claustrophobic confines of a dedicated artist’s studio where we see the chair, guitars, the microphone stands, the Vox amp, pedals, MacBook, wolve-skin rug, chords & a well worn & well lived-in wooden floor sets the stage for the hushed hymns of heartbreak & profound feelings that are held close & tight. “Bookends” picks up where “265” left off where the time markers of eras past & gone & how all those previous experiences still hold relevance in personal ways are described through observational lyrical streams and intense closing refrain of “there is no one that compares to your light.” The landmarks & recalled placeholders that punctuate human existence are described through the metaphor of weighted objects meant for the organization of bound literature collections.

Also showcasing a listen of sounds soon to follow, Matthew shared with us the new Gambles’ song “Hard Time Livin'” that pushes some sick of suburbia-subterranean blues & the dull aches & pains of city living. The echo-laden arrangement begins with Siskin striding his way into town with the percussion of a slow galloping mare that returns to the land of city lights after a spell of taking some time away from the hustles & bustles & general madness. Leftover feelings surface as the song progresses with pianos that lead the entire arrangement that paints the hardships encountered when you are no longer equipped with the previously enjoyed familiarity of old stomping grounds. Join us after the following listen for a candid conversation with Gambles’ Matthew Daniel Siskin.

Was revisiting your earlier single & video for “Trust” and was interested in hearing what you have learned about your self as an artist in the four years between then & “Bookend”.

Christ, has it been four years?—I think the most important thing I’ve realized…is that love is a skill you really have to actually, work on—it’s not just something that happens to you, like taking a hit of acid and waiting to see the results. That song “Bookend” I posted is really just a down and dirty sketch that happened late at night—this keeps happening to me—its not really representative of where I’m headed. But, seeing people react to it is a reminder that being honest is more important than anything else. So that’s a good thing.

How would you describe your current approach to song composition? Do you have any preferred rituals or superstitious regiments?

Rituals are dangerous for me, because they slowly become my limitations—or excuses to go do something else…if the black and red rocks are not in a straight line, or if its raining—when I struggle to write these days, I find there’s usually a reason—and that reason is most likely because I’m full of shit. So I just get true and that usually solves it. I’m only writing what I know and what’s true to me, that’s the only way I can get into anything worth anything.

How has the experience of being Beyoncé’s creative director impacted your own artistic vision when it comes to your own work as Gambles?

I have no idea what a “Beyoncé” is—sounds like a cool place to visit. Hi. What? okay! Next question.

Tell us everything we need to know about the upcoming Gambles material.

My friend Josh Tillman (Father John Misty) said he wants to produce the album, so I’m talking to him about that now—I’m neck deep in the writing and stockpiling songs. Its all a back to basics moment for me, songs being the most important thing above all else. I really trust Josh’s musical taste and FJM is probably one of my favorite artists out there—there really isn’t anyone else I could imagine collaborating with, unless Beyoncé calls of course.

What have the recent writing, song sketching & recording sessions been like for you personally?

I don’t have an analyst or regular shrink—but I suppose this process would be a lot like having one of those—except I’m analyzing myself and keeping a regular ego shattering / reinforcing pen written journal daily—I’m sure my kids will enjoy those one day, whenever they get born.

What do you listen to when you’re not necessarily in the creative mode?

I think I’m always in a creative mode, if I’m not writing I’m listening but I don’t know how to passively listen, I’m always taking notes and stealing. But, right now—its a lot of Townes Van Zandt, Father John Misty, and anything Laura Stemmer is kind enough to put on a mixtape.

Prayers & hopes for 2017?

Fall in love and write good songs—maybe the earth somehow magically heals itself and also maybe Trump is a word we never hear again.

Keep your attention piqued for further information about the forthcoming Father John Misty produced Gambles album & listen to more via Soundcloud.

Also check out the Gambles’ website Vicious Times.


Introducing Dark Swoon; press photo courtesy of the artists.

Introducing Dark Swoon; press photo courtesy of the artists.

Featured off their recently released Silhouettes EP, Portland’s Darkswoon take us by the hand toward the dark globe glow of the world premiere for the Christina Broussard video for “Necromancer”. The cloak, veil & monk’s hood aesthetic is created by the duo team of Jana Cushman & Christian Terrett who follow up their debut EP Year One with new crypts & catacombs of sound with audio inscriptions & runes that contain more intricate & illustrious details & definition. The overcast blanket of clouds that often covers the span of the northwest is embraced by Darkswoon as a security cloak style that they alter & tailor to make their own in a blend of chords & ghosting percussion.

Darkswoon’s visuals for “Necromancer” curated & directed by Christina B. combines collage film imagery that is interspersed with portrait images of Jana interwoven in a cryptic gothic narrative. The video begins with images of an alternate new world, populated by mysterious movements made by shadowy figures that populate parks, crypts, pools & materialize from dimensions of the unknown. The song “Necromancer” is an example of Darkswoon illustrating the meaning of their name through locomotive rhythms & chords that sound as if strummed by apparitions materializing in the physical realm. The duo remain committed to keeping Portland weird (despite their own current spate of cultural upheavals, redevelopments, tech influx, etc) by flying their own fashionable freak flag for all new & old denizens who yearn for the Old Portland spirit of individuality & creativity. After the following debut for “Necromancer”, read our roundtable interview with Jana & Christian.

Take us to the beginning when Darkswoon was first formed.

Jana: I started writing for Darkswoon in 2013. I was just experimenting with some electronic toys and my guitar. It was a solo bedroom project. I started using Ableton as a way to play all the parts that came out as the project developed. Writing is a personal and vulnerable process for me. It can be lonesome and awesome but I knew this project needed someone else to help carry it out of the bedroom and into a live setting. I love performing so this was totally necessary for the growth of the project. My longtime friend Christian stepped in and we’ve been performing and recording as Darkswoon together since 2014 now.

Christian: A few years ago I flunked out of grad school. Jana and I were drinking at a dive we used to hit up after work. I asked her how her music was developing, and that if she needed a lackey to hit cue sequences for her I’d be available. A couple months later we were blasting drum and bass beats in her apartment. Now we’re here.

Describe the making of both your recent release Silhouettes & your debut Year One and where you both feel Darkswoon is headed.

Year One was recorded in my friend John Mowatt’s basement studio over the winter of 2014-2015. We drank a lot of dark beer and smoked a lot of cigarettes and somehow the EP happened. I released it in February of 2015. We toured for the release last summer. I had already started writing for Silhouettes. I spent the fall and winter of 2015 writing and working on the songs almost every day. In February of 2016, Christian and I spent two days recording on Sauvie Island with Sean Flora at his Rock N Roll BNB studio. We worked pretty hard-not as much drinking and smoking. It took the spring to mix the album, the summer to master (Foster Mastering) and figure out the release details.

Now that we’ve released this EP, I’d love to go on tour again. I am already getting into writing the next batch of songs and hoping to have another record out by next summer. I am always trying to evolve and I expect the music to continue to shift but what this will look like is hard to say. There are parts of me that want to go darker and noisier but I have a heart for pop sensibility.

Christian: The project hasn’t thus far adhered to genre specifics, in turn allowing us to progress and grow in whatever direction that we find clear or fitting. Every year is full of new experiences and new information to process and develop into material.

Interested in hearing about the synergistic process that you two share in sound composition.

Christian: Jana composes the entirety of the Darkswoon catalog. My job is to come into the studio space with a critical ear and finesse some of the surfaces that might need specific attention or clarification. I try to build from a foundation of constantly asking “What does this mean to communicate?”

Jana: I am always working on a song. If the song makes it into the work shopping stage, I share it with Christian and we continue to work on it together. His musical intuition and ear is really a valuable part of bringing the music into fruition.

Darkswoon's Jana Cushman; photographed by Christina B.

Darkswoon’s Jana Cushman; photographed by Christina B.

What are the most exciting & interesting things in Portland right now?

Jana: I’m excited about the music scene opening up and diversifying. Portland has always had infinity for garage, indie, folk rock and many bands of those genres have come out of Portland and grown into huge popularity. Right now, I feel like there is more electronic, goth, metal, hip hop, shoegaze and other subgenres shaking it up. Musicians are carving out new spaces to make room for music that doesn’t fit the mold. I am really excited about S1 Gallery, an artist run space that frequently showcases women in electronic music. The Lovecraft Bar is creating a space where dark music is embraced, XRAY radio is providing a unique take on radio broadcasting and hosting a variety of music. And there’s so much more. On one hand, you have punk rock dives that are closing due to the growing population and inflating housing market but on the other hand, there is a whole new world rising up from the ashes of Old Portland.

Christian: Portland finds itself in the center of a great urban influx currently. Over a thousand people have moved to the metro area since the beginning of the year, and regardless of how one feels about this data it means that there’s a diversity of ideas arriving in the region. I just hope that it can attract the talent of a truly diverse pool of artists outside the norm of white middle class cis males that get boners for making scenes on the stages of bars. Let the people come, but bring some real shit with you.

What are you two listening to constantly around the clock?

Christian: Tonsstartbandht. Cities Aviv. Binaural ASMR.

Jana: At this moment, Cigarettes After Sex

Most Played according to iTunes: Jenny Hval, Light Asylum, Boards of Canada, Kate Bush, Fever Ray.

Darkswoon’s Silhouettes EP is available now.


Introducing Montréal's Hoan; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Introducing Montréal’s Hoan; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Montréal’s HOAN has been cooking up their debut album Modern Phase for release this month and we bring you the single “Inside Touch” that illustrates the the inner glow of reverberated connections. Previously known under the moniker Kurvi Tasch, the group channels their noir-esque qualities from the moody shade of weeping willow shadows to convey emotions that hinge off every note & harmonic hymn. Embracing the richness of all involved audio elements, HOAN creates something that sounds like it could have been a Chris Cohen outtake too emotional to be included on the new album. HOAN hones in the heart of matter pertaining to the most sacred & guarded places of the soul, nerves & heart.

HOAN’s “Inside Touch” takes the listener deep into the subterranean sectors of the self, spirit & mind. From the igniting incidents, moments & inceptions that light the picture show of memories; “Inside Touch” reaches to those special places that can rarely be defined or described where references of time & place are spun around like a derelict compass. Never before has been solitude been painted in such vulnerable & honest tones where every aspect of the track works to convey those odd indentations of memory & the complicated feelings that exist all around painful reflections. Read our interview with HOAN immediately after the following listen.

Forever fascinated by the wealth of arts and happenings you have locally, what do you all absolutely adore about the Montréal scenes and more right now?

Montreal seems like a real hub for events celebrating queer and LGBT communities, from the work done at Never Apart to Slut Island, to Cosmic Lady Wrestling, and so much more! It’s a very liberating feeling in the air, even for us cis-gender males.

I’ve also been really impressed with the longevity of the music communities here. Fewer people are moving away, more and more people are moving here or returning here, so it makes for nice cultural renewal. La Plante is into it’s sixth year, Drones Club has been around forever, and Poisson Noir is already three years old. It’s important to keep these spaces open, because the underground is a fertile space for some of the most progressive creative development. It’s nice that the rent has stayed relatively affordable, which must bring so many people back!

Tell us all about what the Poisson Noir DIY collective space is all about, how it works, and how you all met and formed their. What is the story behind the moniker HOAN?

Well two of the members of HOAN—Alex and Matteo—are active members of the space, helping to book shows and keep the place tidy. Poisson Noir gets it’s name from the fish store below it. It is essentially a shared space for recording, practicing, and performing that has been operating since 2014. I (Alex) also used to live there in the front room until my girlfriend ordered I move out.

There is a fluid group of people who organize shows, and a larger, even more fluid group of bands who pay to practice. Other bands involved include: Dories, Doffing, Blue Odeur, and lots more! Three of the members of HOAN used to be in Kurvi Tasch, and two of the members used to be in Pool Boy, and one member of HOAN plays in Karneef and Blue Odeur, so there is real collaboration going on up here.

The moniker Hoan is the phonetic form of the English word H-O-N-E, which basically means to perfect or craft a skill. While it’s ironic to have such a specific name for a rather experimental group, we hope to make each album with a definitive theme in mind, or a set kind of arrangement, so the challenge then becomes finding our voice in each new format.

The richness and vast array of arrangement and stylistic methods employed all throughout Modern Phase is really fascinating. Things move from at times being very mathematical to algorithmic according to your own idiosyncratic programming. Can you all perhaps shed some light on what sorts of modern & post-modern considerations & phases made up the formidable development of Modern Phase?

That’s interesting, I never thought of it this way! There is no over-arching intention to describe major shifts in human development or thought. A lot of it is just posing questions, trying to probe a little deeper.

There is some social commentary though, for sure. The title song “Modern Phase” is about religious fundamentalism and the way in which ahistorical ideological positions negatively affecting our social climate. Another one is “Technocrats”, with its strict rhythmic pattern, which represents the attitude of a technology lover who ignores the potentially negative side-effects for individuals, society, and the environment. “Poise” touches on the stubborn attitudes of both these kinds of people. The chorus line is “when you get there/you will know/the idea has no poise”—which is to say, stubborn ideological people are terrible at self-reflection and adaptation.

What are some of the best things that taken you all by surprise lately?

American music visa bureaucracy! We toured the north east of America this past May, and our drummer was banned because he visited Iran in the past year. We succeeded playing the dates with my computer, but it was a real surprise. We hope that Canada and America can come to a new visa agreement for musicians and performers so that it’s easier to do all this stuff over the table.


Tolva, aka Erik Sleight from Br'er, Stronger Sex & Crushnpain; photographed by Manudags.

Tolva, aka Erik Sleight from Br’er, Stronger Sex & Crushnpain; press photo.

Br’er, Stronger Sex, Jauze, Joy Buttons & Crushnpain artist Erik Sleight was recently the victim of a car burglary where his entire eletronic rig was stolen which prompted the artist with the blessing of the gracious folks at his label BLIGHT. Records to launch Sleight’s new offshoot Tölva with the world premiere of the single “BassIItxNitro”. Taking a constructive approach to picking up the creative pieces & launching a GoFundMe, Erik took the name Tölva from the Icelandic term for computer where fragments documented from workstations were stitched together to create the debut record Manudags available later this month of September.

A single slated to be featured on BLIGHT. Records’ upcoming compilation available in October, “BassIItxNitro” is a nitrous-oxide fueled bass odyssey that finds Sleight carefully elongated & expanding lower register synths while sewing cluster of various other keyboard networks in some tricky electronic patterns. Tölva emphasizes all sorts of amitious bass experimentation where the atmospheric hums inspire all involved elements in the mix to take on dramatic characters that creates a feeling fit for a decisive cinematic sequence or level from a computer game. “BassIItxNitro” is a bastion of synths that are firing on all cylinders in a smart arrangement that keeps audience engaged with the entiriety of the entire track & all the inner workings like appreciating the inticacies of all the cogs & gears in an antique clock. Erik introduced us to Tölva with some thoughts on composing the track with some stories behind the name:

This track features an old guitar rack effect called ART SGX Nitro that I got for $20. I like to take single pieces of gear and try to squeeze every possible trick out of them and BassIItxNitro is an example of me working through that process. Its the only time I’ve used it but for $20 I feel like I got my moneys worth.

Tölva is the Icelandic word for computer. As a child I was sent away to Iceland to visit my grandparents every summer. I am someone who is often teased for being emotionless and too logical, vulcan, or like a computer. Also, a collection of sequencers, synthesizers and drum machines when used together could be called a computer. Tölva is the name of me as a solo artist and it was what I called my little collection of things that I performed with live.

Tölva’s new single “BassIItxNitro” is availble now from BLIGHT. Records.

Seldom Family

Introducing Seldom Family; press photo courtesy of the artists.

Introducing Seldom Family; press photo courtesy of the artists.

Introducing Philadelphia’s Seldom Family who just recently put out their self-titled album full of nostalgic triggers & feelings that echo the photo flip-book feeling of memories flash before the mind’s eye like a gallery of distinguished rogues. Excited to share the world their first single since their summer album, Seldom Family proudly present the world premiere for “Early Fascination”, a new single that carries on the remembered traditions from the group’s previous releases where coming of age realizations frame perceptions of possibilities (and the limitations thereof).

Seldom Family indicated to us that “Early Fascination” will be a featured track on their next release, with the group actively playing shows in Philly while planning their 2017 tour. The relatively new duo of Patrick Norris & Chris Caulder make music that exists from the land before digital times where they achieve some of the most crisp tones that sometimes sound ripped straight out of the golden 50s or echo from the obscure echelons of the yet-to-be-heard & known tunesmiths of the here, now & tomorrow. “Early Fascination” is made from the materials found on their self-titled while arranged in a tighter arrangement economy that exhibits Seldom Family honing in on something of their own sound. “Fascination” succeeds in capturing a flicker of nostalgic notions like fireflies in a jar, while wondering what the point of it all is at the same time. The lessons of life and promises made in the ages of innocence where naivete rules the youthful mind are brought out to the great wide open of adulthood where things become a little more complicated & less easy than originally thought. Seldom Family succeeds at starting a dialogue about what memories mean, how they affect our lives through a sound that remains reminiscent while nodding at the brave new frontiers still ahead. Chis & Patrick provided us with the following exclusive & official introduction for their new single:

The track “Early Fascination” is about the things that don’t come true as one grows older, specifically, the things one promises oneself in their youth, or what happens when you’re done being punk-rock? Seldom Family has just released their debut full-length, available at seldomfamily.bandcamp.com..

Download Seldom Family’s new single “Early Fascination” via Bandcamp.


Catching up with Glasgow's FVNERALS; press photo courtesy of the band.

Catching up with Glasgow’s FVNERALS; press photo courtesy of the band.

Introducing Glasgow’s FVNERALS who are readying their second album Wounds for release October 14 through The Native Sound & we give you an early taste with the slow flickering burn & quiet chord churn of “Shiver”. The Glaswegians embark upon a sound that echoes like swan songs performed & played within the hallow confines of a mausoleum or ancient crypt where every sustained note & vocal utterance echoes off the acoustic of stone & ceramic enclosures that make for a claustrophobic & overall ultra-moody feel. FVNERALS shared the following exclusive words on the shakes & shivers that informed “Shiver” & the healing processes involved with the creation of their upcoming album Wounds:

When we wrote the song I was trying to build a strong contrast, going from an elegiac monotone opening to a thundering descent into hopelessness. Tiffany wrote lyrics about the loss of someone close, their omnipresence and being unable to move on.
As a result, Shiver is sort of our idea of a musical representation of the various emotions and confusion associated with unresolved grief.

Darnum Samp

Catching up with Darnum Samp; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Catching up with Darnum Samp; press photo courtesy of the artist.

LA’s Darnum Samp has sent out word that they have been working on their upcoming Low Body Tapes EP (available TBD), and we have been hooked to their trippy single “Tap The Tapes”. Call it the Low End Theory effect, or the Hellfyre Club devotees, or the influence of the bedroom laptop producers & emcees who have been absorbing random Bandcamp releases & all the latest & greatest from the east coast, midwest & southern scenes—DS displays a keen sense of bombast styles & calculated cleverness that sounds at home with their east coast counterparts on the GODMODE roster.

“Tap The Tapes” arrives like an intercepted transmission received via transistors from an unidentified transmitter. The dial is turned through rhythms that are guided by the various synths & effects that become part of the involved mix where the production resembles something of a clever science experiment. Once the backboard of beats & progression of key patterns are introduced, Do Proper & Sosa Deph bring the new-new in backpack pop where they abandon the boom-bap for the most spaced-out dance-hop with a super smoky delivery. The duo presented us the track with the following exclusive insights on it’s inception & development:

This track was kind of like a techno puzzle, we added Elements added piece by piece over the course of a month or so. it started it just as a drum track… it wasn’t until a month or so down line til we decided to throw some melodic repetitive vocals on it…. Then we were like ok this sounds dope … how bout a rap verse too.

That’s the way a lot of our tracks go. No real destination in mind. And just add whatever fits as he days go by. Eventually we end up with a mash up that works.

The song is about being caught in a masochistic celebration of a love where you can’t shake the thought of a past lover.

We bring you the second installment from Ronley Teper & the Lipliner’s own trilogy with the video for “Pointy Petals (Rose)” that features direction & animation from Davide Di Saro. Featured off the release A Trilogy -Collaboration between Ronley Teper and Animation Artist Davide Di Saro, we get a deeper look at the visuals for rose petals that form hearts & all the enchanted creatures & mystical creations that appear throughout the visualized renderings that are inspired directly from the heart touching lyrics & subtle but evocative arrangement of acoustic (and subtle electrics). Ronley provided the following introduction for the second chapter of her collaborative trilogy:

“Pointy Petals (Rose)” is meant as a musical metaphor.

Nature as Human nature. As I envision it both physically and psychologically we start as a seed, we need just the right conditions/seasons to survive, we bud, we flourish, we wreak beauty, we feel pain, we wrinkle, we decay, and all our petals fall away, but to fall back into the ground and feed the circle of conditions again. Writing “Rose” metaphorically was an easier way for me to come to grips with this conundrum. I learnt thorns were for prickling but I’d been mislead. They are rather a ladder to climb up to find, sweet swelling Rose. [Director/animator Davide Di Saro] was able to create a visual spectacle that inhabited what I was trying to poetize.

Kid Flicks takes on 70s Grecian psych-duo Λήδα-Σπύρος with a trippy rendering of “Οι Μηχανές Μου” that moves in mysterious & beguiling ways. The cluster of xylophonic notes & cleverly arranged rhythm samples finds Nikolaos Dervisis firing on all pop cylinders by transforming retro gems into newly rendered delectable arrangements for modern day listeners.

Vancouver’s vanguards of all things electro-cool recently dropped the singles “Bury Me” & “Crosses” from the midnight cloaked synth visions of Jason Corbett, created at Jacknife Sound. Corbett’s sound traverses deeper into the digital under-worlds as heard on the goth-mascara smears of “Bury Me” that paints portraits of the good life to the damned highways to hellish heavens & the celestial sections of hades & more on the cryptic-crucifix-fixations of “Crosses”. Fans of mysterious & maudlin synth pop are in dire need to connect to the tenebrous worlds Corbett creates through rich audio textures.

Dear Tracks continue to follow the sun trails recently established on their Soft Dreams EP via Track & Field / Furious Hooves with the release of their beloved “Aligning With The Sun” single available now from The Native Sound. The Grand Rapids dreamers & pop schemers Matt Messore & Victoria Ovenden measure their chord progressions & measures to contain similar cadences to the ultra violet rays that illuminate & light up the mind & spirit.

Australia’s Gabriella Cohen’s North American debut album Full Closure and No Details will be available October 14 from Dot Dash/Captured Tracks and we have her video made with Kate Babyshakes for the addictive single “I Don’t Feel So Alive”. The track that has already captured the hearts, minds & ears of maximalists & minimalists alike; Gabriella is clued into some of the greatest & smartest pop methods & modes ever. Gabriella sings out vignettes inspired from real life exchanges that erupt into a refrain of “why don’t we get together, yeah, yeah, yeahs” that brings about an Aussie gaucho style where Cohen spikes her spurs into the great gospel of rock & roll.

From the prestigious abstract-maximalist minds at Orange Milk, we give you the wildest pinball game for the senses with toiret status’s “31” ft. DJWWW off the upcoming cassette/digital release omaru. The cult of Keith Rankin & devout followers continues to run amok while reshaping how we will understand tomorrow’s pop tropes & compositions.

Japanese Wallpaper, oka Gab Strum presents the video for “Cocoon” from director Hamish Mitchell & cinematographer David Mckinnar courtesy of the good people at Zero Through Nine. The Melbourne artist’s super ambient & emotive pop sound-scapes are put to images that combine sequences of both the natural & human-made artifices derived from desert landscapes, trees, escalators, beads & more that edited in time to the rapterous “Cocoon”.

Speaking of GODMODE, you are all urged to experience Hand of God’s (aka the amazing Jeremy Krinsley, aka Alan Watts & former senior editor of Impose) “Planet 1 Planet 2” that traverses between worlds & states of mind through rhythm rich production arrangements. With The Return of Hand of God happening now via GODMODE; witness the sound of new fascinating electronic music developments that are already happening now.

Following up Bronze Whale’s recent single “Hear Me”, check out their edit of of Shells’ “Gold” that turns up the original production to the force of nature that it was always intended to be.

Tsar B this week released the long awaited EP that features such singles like the eastern swaying epic “Myth”, the dire decisive moment of tension across bodies of water on “Swim”, the trap & percussion clap fortitude of “Fort”, closing out with the battle call number “Escalate”. This is the EP you have waited all season long for to provide the soundtrack finale/eulogy for summer’s curtain call.

Sun Angle dropped a little scuzz & psych tribute to the dead with “American Beauty” that emerges like sinewy smoke signals from the forthcoming album Skullflower available October 21 from XRAY. Charlie Salas-Humara (from Panther), Marius Libman (of Copy) & the legendary Papi Fimbres (Orquestra Pacifico Tropical) fuse together the sickest & smartest stew of simmering sounds that updates your parents’ perceptions of what hedonistic pop can be.

C Duncan presented the world with the Helen Plumb video for “Wanted To Want It Too” found off the album The Midnight Sun available October 7 from Fat Cat Records, that sports interpretive-artistic dance expressions in a series of dramatic b/w shots & sequences to compliment the electronic-aided atmospheres. The mysterious components of C’s style & sound are taken to the odd evening areas & dark avenues of shadowy low-lit streets scenes of the macabre & surreal.

Ultimate Painting brought us the video for “Song For Brian Jones” featured off Dusk available September 30 from Trouble In Mind Records. The song pays a tribute to the former fallen Rolling Stone with intimate day-tripping visuals that keep the swagger, attitude & sway of the original satanic majesty alive & well through style & song.

Watch the Ehud Lazin video for Tall Heights covering “Year Of The Tiger” originally by St. Vincent with the band’s album Neptune available now. Performed July 19 at City Winery in New York; Tall Heights’ take the St. Vincent number and attempt to push it toward taller & higher heights.

Lowell shared the cut “West Coast Forever” featured off their Part 1: Paris YK EP available now from Arts & Crafts that depicts anything & everything that is wonderful & describes the mystique of the western shores of those westward coasts.

Savoy Motel’s self-titled album debut will be available October 20 from What’s Your Rupture? and you can get the latest from group’s pastiche of retro-sound with the single “Sorry People”. The all apologies allusion is an exercise in call & response fun that will keep your head nodding while you bop out to the electro-bleeps & analog buzz that runs throughout the entire cut. Bassist & vocalist Jeffrey Novak explained the new single as being inspired by the late Jay Reatard:

A song based on the late Jay Reatard’s skewed philosophy of never apologizing for anything, even though I remember him telling me he was sorry about countless crazy things in the past.

Raleigh trio No One Mind present the Zoë Dehmer & Orlando de Guzman video for “Tiger” that presents the connection between diabolical friend dichotomies in the late early hours of night/morning. Found off their debut self-titled available September 9 & playing Hopscotch Fest also on the same day; shake a leg to the Raleigh group’s dark clad electro-charged track that delivers heavy on attitude & tense moods.

Off the Rich Crack Baby tape, peep the video for Young Dolph’s “Trappa” that brings the turn up for the weekend that that brings more hedonism than you can handle. Featuring every indulgence surrounding that VIP section of club life; YD touts & boasts excesses of absolute escapism over atmospheric ghost-trapping production.

Featured off his upcoming album 1993, check out Caleborate’s new single “Made Me” that sports from inspirational production from Kuya Beats & Trollex. Caleborate dishes out some verses of life experience & illustrates how the desires of wants, needs & desires make up an individual.

Get ready to get inspired to start the most fly tailgate party ever with Show Banga’s video for “Steez 101” (featured off the album ShowTime 2) that teaches you how to pre-game proper before an SF Giants game. One should soon be an anthem for all Bay Area sports enthusiasts (particularly the Giants fan set), Show Banga show you how to get the side show started long before the first pitch is even thrown.

Featured off the forthcoming Diary of the Streets II mixtape, Ralo presents “Letter to Birdman” that toasts up the Cash Money don with production by DP & visuals courtesy of Foolwiththecamera. Ralo is seen surrounded by cash while paying homage to the southern upstarts that have transformed the way we hear, see & understand hip hop now, yesterday & forever.

South Florida’s wifisfuneral reflects on moving on up with the Nassacre video for “Just a Year Ago” that illustrates the rise from starting from rock bottom & rising upwards & forwards that features an assist from Danny Towers. Keep an ear & eye out for more from this emcee on the rise.

Touring the UK & EU October 1-28; hear Flyying Colours’ new single “Long Holiday” featured off their forthcoming album debut Mindfullness available September 23 from Club AC30. For those wishing summer was three months longer, “Long Holiday” evokes all those chords & tones that will spring to life a wealth of memories of vacations experienced or only imagined from a blissful & lavish alternate past.

Denmark’s Perpacity readies their album Arise for release October 7 & we have the latest single with “9725” that takes you to the lairs that Depeche Mode & all your synth pop heroes never before lead you. “9725” is Ian Harling & Martin Nyrup putting all keyboard kissed pop tropes into action & logical rhythmic orders & sequences to perhaps inspire their audience to pick up the Casio-tone arts.

With news of their release Fist & Palm available September 30 from Double Double Whammy & a fall tour with PWR BTTM & Lisa Prank; Bellows, lead by Oliver Kalb & of The Epoch collective, dropped the powerful single “Bully”. Kalb illustrates confrontational components from a former friendship where the comrade turn foe’s transformation is illustrated in moving arrangements & devastating lyrics.

D.C. band Boon is made up of Brendan Principato, Jesse Paller (also of June Gloom) & Drew Sher who present their latest labor of love “Hunger” that instills an instinctive crave & desire in the ears of the listener. The pangs of emptiness urge every section forward until you find yourself enraptured in what sounds & feels like some kind of enchanted under-the-sea adventure like none other.

Melbourne, Australia’s Bloodhounds On My Trail shared an early listen to their dream-scream pop machine “Over The Wall” available from Moon Sounds Records on September 16. With Melbourne seemingly like they’re taking over the world of inspired pop music, Bloodhounds seek out new trails of desinty & desire that follow up their debut EP Escape II from 2015.

Rude Audio presented us with the bubbling & buzzing Mr. Hare remix of “Half Moon Lane Glitter” available September 16 via the Rudest EP from Zirkus Records. Adam Hare, oka Mr. Hare moves the southeast London movements further & deeper uptown that offers up drum & bass-based variations that exceed beyond the run of the mill EDM styles that have taken over the commercial audio waves.

In case you missed it, soak your evenings in the emotive synth-tones from Cape Cub’s new single “All I Need” that weighs out the measures of needs & wants in audio illustrations of pure desire.

New Toronto group Peeling just broke out with their single “Leisure Life”, that features Mexican Slang’s Annabelle Lee & Jimmy Tony Rowlinson of Dilly Dally & Odonis Odonis’s Denholm Whale all making some splendid discord & distorted harmonies with pop pointed purposes. With their debut Rats in Paradise EP available October 14 from Buzz Records, listen as Annabelle & company show us how real rock & roll is made ahead of their fall tour with Death Valley girls & Muuy Biien.

Quebec City’s Fjord presents “I Get It Now” featured off of their upcoming album Textures available September 16 with electronically enhanced vignettes on the previous interactions & conversations that resonate deep beyond the ages.

Hear the choral request & earnest please from Hush Moss to “Take Me By The Hand” featured of the upcoming It Takes A Lot available September 16t from Average Negative. HM captures all the allure of the lo-fi & hi-fi ends of the production spectrum by offering up some of the most brilliant bits of lover’s rock/romantic pop you might hear all month/year.

Enter the night flights of fancy with The Strike’s “Faint of Heart” with visuals from Cameron Gade & Jared Fadel that finds noir devils seeking out angels in all the wrong places while the big emotive pop plays throughout.

Montreal’s JT Soul presents the Felix Perreault video for “Need Your Love” that features production from Jei Bandit & VXNYL. Expressions & feelings of amor are sailed into the MTL atmosphere & the evening environments of revelry & reflection on wayward desires, urges & more.

Get ready to witness your C86 heroes The Wolfhounds present us with their video for the new single “My Legendary Childhood” taken from their new album Untied Kingdom (…or how to come to terms with your culture) available October 14 from Odd Box Records. The entire world became captivated by the group when NME dropped the new beyond infamous (and many argue to be a DIY 80s sub-genre defining moment) C86 cassette with the single “Feeling So Strange Again” and now return to recapture the magic with a frame of reference on the iconic era of yore with some tricks to show the new generations informed & inspired by their classic cult output.

Slaughter Beach presented us with the single “Shere Khan” available September 2 from Brilliance Records where the Danish group pens a song about the effects certain folks in our lives can have on us. SB provided us with the following introduction to the new single with the following:

I have a friend who has a special kind of hold on the people he spends time with. He has the kind of unconventional perspective on things that you would have never thought of yourself, which in a strange way always makes sense. He’s very good at cheering you up but leaves you questioning everything about yourself which can be encouraging but at the same time difficult to deal with for some. When I made the early demo for “Shere Khan” I didn’t intend to write about anyone in particular, but as the song progressed I realized that I was writing about this friend of mine and the effect he has on me for better and worse.

Jason Cipparrone directed the new video for Grand Analog’s new single “Love Is a Battlefield” where we join GA leader Odario Williams strolling about downtown Toronto to a skanking throwback roots reggae back-beat. Delivering the ins & outs of romance & more; Williams introduced the video to us with the following thoughts:

I wanted to shoot a video that reflected the inner city, but also felt like the wild wild west. I have a long time love affair with old Western films and shooting in Kensington Market was perfect for that.

The Wedding Present delivered us “Birdsnest” from their new album Going Going… available today from Scopitones that bounces with a host of punchy pop from the DIY rock veterans. David Gedge & the gang continue to elaborate on their cult sounds with plenty of energy & earnest expressions of observations & feelings that will only solidify the group as one of your forever favorites.

“Take A Break (From Cool)” with none other than San Francisco’s DonCat who provides another listen off the upcoming second album Easy Cowboy available September 9 from Creature. Duncan Nielsen from City Tribe/Geographer emphasizes the things that are more important than style & posturing with a sentimental & melancholic arrangement.

Barber/musician Drew Danburry with Catherine Leavy is Bartholin whose EP will be available September 29 from Tree Machine who shares a following advance listen that finds the duo exploring natural dualities & more. The grand events begin with “Peristalsis”, followed by the techno-romantic “Tinder Sex”, rolling to the music with “Paraphones”, the treasured “Ma Jolie”, seeking sanctuary on “In Search Of”, before you are left with classic BBC television alluding finale “Black Adder”. Let Bartholin become your new favorite act, as the two prepares to present more cycles of audio interests.

Ten Fé shared a listen to their new single “Turn” via Rough Trade that provides a sun down eulogy for summer that gives something to assist with the turning & transformation of the seasons.

We reported earlier on Cold Cave’s announcement of the The Idea of Love 7″ and we present the Amy Lee glamorous lyrical video for the a-side that updates the Rocky Horror opening to a current day nu-goth rendering. Join us right after the video as Cold Cave leader Wes Eisold takes over our Week in Pop feature.

Cold Cave’s Week in Pop

Cold Cave’s own Wes Eisold, photographed by Matt Draper.

Preparing to tour from September 8-17 with the 7″ The Idea of Love available September 9—Cold Cave’s Wes Eisold proudly presents his following exclusive Week in Pop guest selections titled:


Carol Christian Poell, “SS 04”

Cold Cave live; photographed by Matt Draper.

Underworld, “I Exhale”

Wes Eisold of Cold Cave; photographed by Matt Draper.

Lou Reed, “Street Hassle”

The cult of Cold Cave & leader Wes Eisold; photographed by Matt Draper.

The Cure, “Pirate Ships” (demo)

Wesley Eisold of Cold Cave and American Nightmare with his baby
Wes & baby.

2 Min Backstage with Ann Demeulemeester, A short film by Erik Madigan Heck

Follow Cold Cave via Twitter.

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