Week in Pop: Alina Bea, Exray’s, Markus, Sioux Falls, VUM

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With Grammy’s and political back & forth feeds being served as the diversion hype of the day, Impose’s Week in Pop finds our own heroes to root for and nominate as the source of our inspiration. With a big week to bring you, we first give you the complimentary and obligatory headline run-through, as Beyoncé releases the remarkable single/video for “Formation”  announces her world tour; while halftime show buddy Chris Martin of Coldplay revealed that Queen Bey turned down a collab opp; Kanye West announced his album’s new name, The Life of Pablo, debuted live at Madison Square Garden and streaming via TIDAL (ft. guest appearances from Frank Ocean, Future, Rihanna, etc), and now Taylor Swift’s handlers are not happy about her being referenced in “Famous”. Yeezy also launched the Only One video game and dropped the new song “30 Hours”; Santigold dropped “Banshee”; Wild Nothing announced a world tour supporting the forthcoming Life of Pause album available February 19 from Captured Tracks / Bella Union, sharing “A Woman’s Wisdom”; Thundercat dropped an untitled jam; TreeFort Music Fest lineup buzz; Burger Boogaloo 206 lineup revealed; Dr. Dre to be the star & executive producer of an Apple television series; Julia Holter dropped the video for “Everytime Boots” directed by and starring Nite Jewel, aka Ramona Gonzalez; Toronto Mayor John Tory will give Drake the key to the city; Peaches keeping it weird with the video for “Free Drink Ticket” off Rub; Bon Iver dropped “Haven, Mass” off Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival limited edition cassettes, and Justin Vernon revealed that Bon Iver are indeed “working on new music”; Kevin Morby announced tour, and shared the video for “I Have Been to the Mountain”; together PANGEA dropped their video for “My Head Is On Too Tight” as their tour rages on through March 5; Guided By Voices return with new live roster; The Shins hint at new material; Hannibal Buress, Henry Rollins and more to host “Live at 9:30”; hear Jeff Buckley cover The Smiths’ “I know Its Over” off upcoming compilation of unreleased material You and I available March 16; Mike WiLL Made-It claimed the feds are barring collaboration with the incarcerated—yet prolific—Gucci Mane; Kanye weighed in on the Cosby controversy; Jay Electronica versus Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent; Ghostface Killah responded to Martin Shkreli; best thoughts go out to DMX and Barry Manilow for an expedient recovery.

Look & listening ahead and onward, we bring you breaking exclusive, interviews, insights, & more from Alina Bea, Exray’s, Sioux Falls, VUM, Burner Herzog, Crescendo, Harlem Sekani, Krisp, LENPARROT, Markus, Max Gardener, Unconditional Arms, Yuzima, featuring guest selections by Pete Astor, and more—in no particular order.

Alina Bea

Alina Bea on the rise.
Alina Bea on the rise.

Alina Bea is fronted by Alina Cutrono, joined by Theo Karon, Geoff Halliday, & Brijesh Pandya who continue to electro-pop lit adventures with the world premiere of “Live Undone”. The title track found off Alina’s debut EP available February 26 from New Professor Records finds the Los Angeles based artist adventuring on a solo path that journeys past her former group Body Parts to embark upon more pointed and punchier pop emeralds sung from the most emotionally charged corners of the mind and heart. Beyond her recent output found on the imprint Father / Daughter Records from her former band, Alina’s background in the arts has seen her engaging in only the most visceral outlets of performance that defies art-school conventions. With an education in modern dancing, Alina is known for her exquisite yarn creations, laying on nail beds, worm eating sideshows, Houdini level straight-jacket derring-do, and more; “Live Undone” along with her debut EP of the same name exhibits those similar streaks of wonder and unfiltered paths of smart and succinct pop theatrics.

Finding rightful place with her opposite coast vocal pop court of contemporary monarchs like Destiny Frasqueri, Empress Of, Fielded, Frame, and more; Alina Bea breaks down the hive walls and binding threads that contain beauty in a cocoon longer than necessary on “Live Undone”. The title track breaks free from the bonds of expectation and the tightened and restrictive fabrics from previous situations. The EP title track illustrates Alina’s solo turning point in moving away from the artistic and intimate ties of Body Parts on a healing route that undoes the previous attachments for new self-assured experiences, and fresh new futures. The evocative and sparse arrangement presents affirmation of firm resolve, as Alina experiments with lyrical delivery various meters, breaths, arrangements, and back-up overdub samples that creates a striking effectiveness of transferring the feelings involved in an acute manner. The entire builds up to the strong confrontational center of the song that stays with you long afterward that lays everything on the line with; “I’m so sick and tired of you telling me what I should and shouldn’t do, whatcha gonna do, without me, never at your beck and call, you got your wish, now you’re free, just you and your empty soul, you never could give me the chance, I never got my turn, I always knew what I could be, now you’re about to learn…” Alina Bea’s makes music for everyone that understands the pain and trials and newfound testaments of discovering new strength in a sound that speaks to most familiar of emotions. After the following debut of “Live Undon”, we had a chance to catch up with Alina about her new solo ventures, and more.

Tell us about moving focuses from Body Parts to your solo work how and your own sound and aesthetic has shifted.

The aesthetic of Body Parts was constantly shifting and evolving. The one that we had settled on in the last phase of the band was heavily influenced by 80s art pop innovators like Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. I think that the music I make as Alina Bea is a logical progression from that, but with more of my personal influences mixed in, like Bjork and Fiona Apple. In Body Parts, we did a lot of layering complex vocal harmonies. And that is pretty much my favorite thing to do, so that definitely carries over. But I am mostly working with an electronic palette instead of with a full band and that changes the sound quite bit. And my song-writing/lyric voice is very different from Ryder’s (from Body Parts). Since I am now a front-woman, I get to fully realize and develop every aspect of this project (both sonically and visually), which is wonderful. It’s a lot more personal, confessional, and visceral. A lot less cerebral.

Describe what the making of Live Undone was like for you.

It was very difficult, but so important and ultimately a very rewarding and empowering experience. I had a bit of an identity crisis when I quit Body Parts. I felt like I didn’t know my own aesthetic and didn’t know what I wanted to say, when I had previously felt very sure of myself in that regard. But then I took the songs to my producer, Mike Richardson. We spent months and months listening to reference albums and working on sounds. When we started laying down tracks and really digging into these songs, it all took shape in a very natural way. It took about a year, which feels ridiculous for only five songs, but that’s what it took for me to figure out that I do in fact have my own unique sound, haha. Ryder Bach (the lead singer in Body Parts) actually ended up doing some co-production on it at the end of the process, but in a way that was very collaborative with me. Which felt very poetic. The whole story came full circle.

Profiling and striking a pose; Alina Bea.
Profiling and striking a pose; Alina Bea.

Interested in hearing about how your background in performance has informed your own musical inspirations.

I grew up dancing as well as playing/writing music. I kind of had to make a choice between the two when I graduated high school and I chose music, but it has always been a dream of mine to fully meld those two worlds. I am really obsessed with Kate Bush and basically want to model my career after hers (besides the whole “no-touring” thing). I also like the way that FKA Twigs and St. Vincent incorporate dance into their videos and live set and I’m starting to head in that direction. Currently working on a fully-choreographed video for “Live Undone” that I am thrilled about.

What have you been listening to, reading, & watching these days?

Majical Cloudz’s new album, Are you Alone? and Chairlift’s new album, Moth and Bjork’s newest, Vulnicura. I’m “reading” Dune for the first time, which I put in quotes because I am listening to it on audiobook, so I can knit at the same time. I am really in to knitting right now. I watch a lot of cooking competition shows and I’m looking forward to the newest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is the best show of all time.

What’s next for Alina?

Our EP release show is on February 26 at Resident, which is a new venue here in downtown LA. Then we go to SxSW in March. I’m also working on this video and working on the songs for a full-length record. So basically, no sleep ever again is what’s next for me. But it’s worth it!

Alina Bea’s debut EP Live Undone will be available February 26 from New Professor Records.

Sioux Falls

Presenting Sioux Falls; photograph courtesy of the band.
Presenting Sioux Falls; photograph courtesy of the band.

Bozeman, Montana by Portland, Oregon’s Isaac Eiger, Fred Nixon, & Ben Scott are Sioux Falls who are readying to release their album Rot Forever February 19 through Broken World Media and Standard Brickhouse and today premiere the mighty Iliad-scale single “If You Let It”. Having quickly become darlings of the PDX circuit seen playing with local loves like Divers, Summer Cannibals, and more; Sioux Falls make music that is birthed from an honest and sometimes gutteral and heart-ripping place that brings inner sentiments magnified on a macro-musical scale. Sioux Falls’ sounds and lyrics sound like the lyrics like “the sun will shine on you” like a buddy consoling a dear friend who is down and out, casting light on the more beautiful aspects of existence while respecting all the emotions involved in the current situation and conversation. There is a certain raw emotional intensity and rare earnestness that is often absent from today’s more colder pop designs that exalt all aspects and forms of detachment.

“If You Let It” begins it’s near eight and half minute run with the sparse chords and lyrics of observations from something puking, thoughts on someone’s hair cut, as the stream of thoughts pour through in a lazy and hazy real time. Thoughts on human natures, inner reflections that roll in continuous reels that ponder the affects of alienation, to the most lonely lyrics ever written like, “when I’m walking home the streetlights talk with me sometimes, the sounds of skateboards come rolling through the night” that cut deep while pining for a real meaningful connection. The narratives grab you by the heartstrings as the stories keep spilling like a downed floodgate with further lines of “I miss my dog, and my sister, she’ll graduate in the summer, all those asshole boyfriends with holes inside they pick at her heart, I watched her cry all night..Ellie you’ll be okay.” Sioux Falls sing out something to ride out the pains and curve balls that life hurdles forward that seeks skies of blue and better days for all downtrodden in heart and spirit. The band keeps the song founded in a solemn and serious delivery with random thoughts about needing to go to the dentist or optometrist that sets up the big climactic apex that delights in seeing a loved one’s smile from far away. From here the song coasts down into what sounds like a recorded sound check complete with audience/crowd banter. Sioux Falls’ own Isaac Eiger took the time to chat with us in our following interview featured right after the debut of “If You Let It”.

Describe the movement from Bozeman, Montana to making a next in Portland, Oregon.
Bozeman is a really great place to grow up but it’s hard to do the band thing in a town with 40 thousand people. Portland is obviously way more populated and with that comes lots of cool bands/places to play. Moving here felt pretty natural. It sorta feels like a big Bozeman in a way. Not super overwhelming like I imagine moving to NY or something would be.

Thoughts on what’s new and good right now in the PDX circuits and scenes?

There’s tons of great stuff in Portland. So many of my favorite bands. Blowout and Snow Roller are both about to put out really awesome albums. Sloths are one of my favorite bands in general. Cool American are great. Our drummer is in another sweet band called Helens. Rod, Little Star, and Two Moons have some of the best songwriting out there right now. Drunken Palms RIP. There’s waaaay to much good stuff happening to remember it all. It blows my mind a lot of the time.

Give us the story on the very inspiring inklings that gave rise to the album Rot Forever, and what’s the story behind the entropy alluding title?

Rot Forever has been an idea for a pretty long time. The content has changed a lot since tons of different songs have been written and played since we first started talking about making the album, but the overall feeling, I think, has been consistent. I don’t really like it when people talk about the specific meaning of a song or album cuz it always has the potential to kill it for the listener but I was just thinking a lot about loneliness and wanting something more out of everything. I don’t know if that comes through at all but that’s the kinda stuff I was thinking about.

Sioux Falls are known for making epic songs, and your new single “If You Let It” follows suit to this reputation. What sorts of life lessons and reflections (like musings on going to the dentist because you haven’t been in a while, or getting your eyes checked, etc) also shaped this song?

I think that song is fairly on the nose, content wise. Sometimes I like just saying stuff without burying it in metaphors and obfuscating type stuff like that. Sometimes that kinda thing is useful but there’s something super real about just being honest and direct. That song is about being sad and lonely and trying to cope.

Sitting pretty with Sioux Falls.
Sitting pretty with Sioux Falls.

How in the world do you all go about arranging and conceptually drafting songs of many motions, suites, emotions, etc?

I’ll usually come in with the core of the song and then we’ll often flesh it out together. Like one of the dude’s will come up with a bass or drum part that will become a huge jam or something. It changes song to song.

What have you all been listening to now that the album is all recorded?

I’ve been listening to a ton of Alex G. He is my favorite. I’ve also been way into Clique, Pile and that Sloths band band I was talking about earlier. Happy Diving is really sick. We’ve been listening to that Young Thug song “Power” a lot. I’ve also been really into We Belong Together by Mariah Carey recently. That song is crazy good.

Big spring and summer plans for Sioux Falls?

We’re playing the Broken World showcase at SXSW next month and then we’re gonna do a big tour in may. East coast and all that cool stuff.

Sioux Falls’ album Rot Forever will be available February 19 from Broken World Media / Standard Brickhouse.


Exray's Jon Bernson reports from Vessel XII.
Exray’s Jon Bernson reports from Vessel XII.

Seen headlining SF’s premiere DIY phenomenon Push The Feeling and discussing new material with us in recent weeks and years; Exray’s return with the latest chapter of their ongoing science-fantasy/audio-art-deco-futurism unfolding sagas with Twelve. Available on digital and tape from Howells Transmitter, presenting the world premiere of “Begin Your Lives”. Following on the heels of Jon Bernson’s mind-opening “Antiprism” exhibit at the de Young, The Dome EP, Vessel XII log entries, previous releases from Trust a Robot, self-titled, and earlier; Exray’s continue on a path that charts newfound patterns and designs discovered from the outer dimensions in ways that blurs sciences and physics from electronically enabled pop sound schemes.

“Begin Your Lives” is something of a message that could have been transmitted from either a rogue satellite or some unknown planet of intelligence and sophisticated recording and radio abilities. As you follow the fun rhythm schemes cartographed by Michael-Falsetto Mapp to Jason Kick’s keys; the out-of-this-world head-spaces commanded by Bernson and the gang are headed toward destinies that seek to do more than to answer the rhetorical questions of whether or not there is life on mars but rather better understand strange communications from the outer air-spaces and edges where the atmosphere and the galaxy meet through their own ongoing audio alchemy. Working as well alongside local friends and favorites musicians—Nate Brenner of Naytronix, tUnE-yArDs), Amanda Hallquist, Glenn Jackson, Matt Tammariello of Shorticircles, etc—we took the time for our continued dialogues with Exray’s ring leader of accolades and acclaim, Jon Bernson, featured immediately after the following debut of “Begin Your Lives”.

Tell us about how the album Twelve developed after The Dome, and how it fits into your fascinating 2015 residency at San Francisco’s de Young Museum.

The Dome is our 2014 EP that previewed songs from the four albums we’ll be releasing in the coming years. Each record has a distinct style, but they’re all dedicated to Vessel XII (a spacecraft that purportedly sent messages back to Earth from a future timeframe). Twelve, which comes out on Friday 2/12, is a lo-fi / sci-fi dance-pop deal. My residency focused on conflicting opinions that experts have put forward over the years. Some are convinced that these messages are authentic, others believe they’re the work of computer hackers, and there are theories that don’t fit into either category. Later in 2016, you’ll be able to watch a documentary that Vessel XII co-creator Michael Falsetto-Mapp, Jennifer Welch and myself have been putting together. The world needs to know.

exrays week in pop 4 TWELVE_FILE_001

Tell us about how contributions from Nate Brenner, Aaron Rockers, Glenn Jackson, Matt Tammariello, and Amanda Hallquist along with fellow Exray’s Michael and Jason brought this album to life.

I will start in reverse order! This album really started to take shape when we were rehearsing for a show at Push the Feeling a few years ago. We love this monthly dance party and had some material that fit the bill, but not enough. We wrote four long form instrumentals for the show and then took them into the studio afterward. All of us are recording junkies, so it’s important to divide the tasks and play to everyone’s strengths as they relate to working with one another. Michael is actively involved in all aspects of the beats, mixing and production, whereas Jason usually focuses on hooks and harmonic layers. I’m pretty hardwired for songwriting, lyrics and the arrangements.

Exray's clockwise from 12 oclock—Jon Bernson, Jason Kick, & Michael Falsetto-Mapp.
Exray’s clockwise from 12 oclock—Jon Bernson, Jason Kick, & Michael Falsetto-Mapp.

Nate laid down a bass line on “The Sound of a Ship”, and Aaron Rockers has been our one-man horn section since Ammunition Teeth (our first EP in 2010). Similarly, Amanda Hallquist has added backing vocals to all of our records. Aaron and Amanda are important to our sound, almost like silent members of the band, in that respect. Glenn and Matt came over to my studio one day to track percussion sounds that any of us could use on our records. Out of laziness, we used a few Exray’s beats as our click tracks, and some ended up being used on the final recordings. “Win-Win,” you could say.

exrays week in pop 3TWELVE_FILE

Describe how how these varied and complex exercises in art & science continue to guide the music of Exray’s.

I like hanging out with people who have many interests and get excited about interdisciplinary ideas. Exray’s is no exception. To me, a song that’s locked up inside the world of music is just an exercise. I make music that strives to be something it’s not supposed to be, or not allowed to be. Scientists don’t work like artists, but they make some incredible discoveries and open up many counter-intuitive doors to consciousness. In order to understand the various theories of Vessel XII, I read a lot about theoretical physics and astrobiology. I wanted to know why some outlandish theories are taken seriously and others are discarded. I walked away with a different understanding of the world and, in many respects, I have a much more open and fluid sense of reality than I did before. Perhaps music is a gateway drug that can lead to physics, or the other way around?

What have you been listening to as of late that has struck a chord or key with you?

In the past week I’ve listened to the score from Jodorowsky’s Dune, by a guy named Kurt Stenzel, who is probably famous, but I’d never heard about him. Also Max Eastley, Thomas Koner, Jim Haynes, Glenn Jackson and Bozak. They all have a talent for keeping the ears fresh.

The journeys and various aesthetic conceptualizations from Jon Bernson & Exray's.
The journeys and various aesthetic conceptualizations from Jon Bernson & Exray’s.

Thoughts on the state of the Bay Area scenes from the Howells Transmitter collective and beyond?

Time to research the French Resistance? Maybe everyone who moved away during the Summer Of Love sent their rich grandchildren back to take control of the city? It’s no secret that artists are on the defensive in the Bay, but I’m done complaining. My energy, creativity and ingenuity are going into making art. I’m down to protest or participate in some strategic form of opposition, but I’m not going to sit around and vent. I’m ready to hatch some plans or build something different or go out to support people doing good work. Let’s talk about that!

How do you feel your own sounds and approaches to sound have evolved?

Incorporating chance into music is something I’ve become fascinated with in recent years. As I gain more control over what I’m doing and develop more of a sense of structure, I find myself looking for ways to undermine that structure and put myself in situations that subvert my ability to control what I’m doing. It’s kind of a balancing act because structure and form are important to me. Without them, the whole house can cave in, but sometimes it’s better to work with a tee-pee than a skyscraper.

exrays week in pop 1 12

What might be next for Exray’s?

Now that our record is out, we’ll be playing more live shows. Our new set feels like a blind dance party on ice, so who knows where that will take us? We’re having fun though. Beyond that, we are doing a live score for the DFS Preservation Summit in late February, which is an annual archival meeting of the Distant Future Symposium. Sometime in the summer, our documentary should be premiering too. Movies take forever, so don’t quote me, but it’s coming along nicely. I’m optimistic.

The new Exray’s album Twelve is available on cassette & digital from Howells Transmitter.

Harlem Sekani

Harlem Sekani, left of hair & makeup artist Chantal Jo; press photo courtesy of the artists.
Harlem Sekani, left of hair & makeup artist Chantal Jo; press photo courtesy of the artists.

In recent years since we’ve been conversing with NYC artist Harlem Sekani, we observed a DIY producer growing further into his own zone of comfort to command the mic along with the role of mixing and mastering the track as well. Harlem based and born Sekani Hakim Bell-Jenkins turned heads with his production on the title track found off the 05 Fuck Em mixtape (sporting some 101 cuts) and continued to work off this experience and inspiration to embrace his own inner solo artist. Further developing his style to encompass styles heard from Harlem to Oakland, with eastern leans to basement trap beats and vibes that rise like the steam that ghosts up from the metal grates and plate of the streets.

Delivering his first proper solo release to date, Harlem Sekani presents his self-titled EP that opens up with the previously heard single “Who Are You”, dealing in syrupy spectral specter-sound-waves and his own idiosyncratic delivery. Sekani’s bars run like a sprinter stating attributes of the self while spitting scales like mountains and valleys. After “I do it for my kin” recitations, “Again” takes a Chinatown like cultural character that mulls over romantic musings, while “Loner” finds Harlem joined by Nitty Scott to count blessings and hold tight to values from family to Hennessy. Rolling confident with a self-conscious smile and humor all the while, Sekani keeps the boss wheels turning with “Distant” that continues trade in tales to spell out the reasons and character components behind his aloof demeanor. The production gets pointed toward a shining bouquet of synths and swell living styles on “Bueno” that features hedonistic contributions from Ken Rebel, while Sekani keeps the never looking back volition in top gear turning it down for something from the heart dropping some PMA wisdom like “don’t play games, no hide and seek, I know who I’m going to be, take all those feelings put them on the shelf, peace of mind is wealth, you have no body if you lose yourself,” featuring further bars from longtime collaborator Black Dave that closes out a song about both moving on and moving forward. Right after the following listen to his debut EP, read our most recent interview with Harlem Sekani where we caught up with the rising artist a couple of days after his new released dropped.

Tell us about how you felt in making your own self-produced/mixed/mastered/written & recorded solo EP.

Frustrated but nobody is going to stop me from living my dream. The only reason why I started writing is because in the four years prior to my first recorded song, the only established artist that would work with me and stay in contact was Lil B. Now I have people asking me for features/beats. The only reason why I started mixing/mastering my songs is because nobody wanted to help me. Now I have people offering me money to mix/master their songs. If you can do something on your own then you should do it on your own. If you don’t know how to do it, learn how. It took me 20 years to figure that out but I’m glad I finally did.

What kind of challenges did you run into in the process, and how did you find ways to overcome them?

Everything from figuring out the perfect mic placement to learning how to write an actual song. The short answer to the second part is trial and error. The artists that I know didn’t have the time to answer my questions and work with me so learning from my own mistakes and being honest with myself helped me grow. YouTube videos definitely helped as well.

Tell us about what it was like working with folks like Nitty Scott, Ken Rebel, and Black Dave.

They’re all very talented artists with extremely bright futures so I really appreciate their involvement in my project. They were all really down to earth when we met too. Black Dave has a really dope and interesting sound right now with the new song he just dropped ( check out “Black Punk – Squad” on YouTube), Ken Rebel just had a video hit 2 million, and Nitty Scott just got a placement in the new Zoolander movie so everybody is doing great right now. I like to see other artists from NYC making big moves.

What else are you working on right now, and who are you working with right now?

The project just dropped two days ago so I’m forcing myself to take a break, It’s pretty hard though because whenever there’s any silence I keep coming up with songs in my head and it won’t stop. I can’t even go to bed when I want because I have to keep getting up to write the lines I just thought of. I guess I should enjoy it while it lasts though, I hear rappers/singers/poets complain about writers block and I don’t even understand how that happens. There’s inspiration everywhere. Even if you honestly feel like you have nothing to talk about you can just make a song about how you haven’t felt inspired in a while. As for the artists that I’m working now, it’ll just be whoever responds to the press release I sent out. I want to make as much music as possible with as many people as possible. Besides those artists, I’m working with Big Jig aka Jigme aka we haven’t established a name yet. He’s a future star even though he hasn’t written his first verse yet. Only Us Records 2016 and forever.

What are you listening to and watching a lot of right now?

I cycle through 1 month phases where I pretty much listen to the same thing everyday. I just got out of my “Songs About Jane” Maroon 5 phase. I’m in my Lil Wayne mixtape phase now. As for what I’m watching, just a lot of youtube. Mainly Peanut Live 215 and the “No Jumper” podcast interviews.

What can we expect next from Harlem Sekani?

Nobody knows.


The return of VUM; photographed by Kristin Cofer.
The return of VUM; photographed by Kristin Cofer.

Taking you back to Topanga Canyon and it’s gorges of intrigue & mystery we catch up with VUM as Jennifer Pearl, Christopher Badger, & Scott Spaulding follow up 2013’s Psychotropic Jukebox with the upcoming album Cryptocrystalline from Secret Lodge. Available on digital March 25 everywhere and vinyl May 3 the trio follows up recent single “Katrine“, & “This is the Witch” with the serpentine synths and chords of “New Girls” featuring visuals from Jennifer, Chris with band photography by Kristin Cofer.

Like the perpetual night-worlds that VUM inhabits with their sound, Jennifer, Chris, & Scott continue their adventures of affinities for mid-century auteurs between the Lynchian dimension portals of Secret Lodges that host pagan-esque settings of crystals, and technicolor splashed decorum. “New Girls” entertains a kind of vintage void with Jennifer’s lyrical delivery that tributes rock deities of the past in a hypnotic pastiche heard on the chorus of “help I’m only dancing, our souls are up for ransom…” as b/w film footage of designs, palms holding triangles, black gloved demonstrations of various prisms, in between images of the artists. Old film moving portraits are taken of VUM, in between stock imagery of dancing people, stage lights, and dazzling patterns that frame performance shots of the group as “New Girls” is propelled on it’s own active turning axis of mystic proportions. The “help I’m only dancing” refrain haunts in a floating state above the fluttering and suspenseful keys that underline the cautionary chord progressions that can hypnotize the viewer/listener if experienced in uninhibited state of being. VUM’s Jennifer Pearl took the time to chat in our recent interview that is featured right after the following debut of the video & single, “New Girls”.

What is new in the world of VUM since our previous dialogues?

Since we last spoke in late 2013, we toured Europe, collaborated with artist Barry Anderson, wrote and recorded our 3rd and forthcoming album, Cryptocrystalline, and birthed our first child. 2015 saw the release of two singles off of Cryptocrystalline—”Katrine” and “This The Witch”.

Walk us through the catacombs and contemporary crypt currents that made up the inspirations for Cryptocrystalline?

The term cryptocrystalline refers to an underlying, ordered, molecular structure in rocks that is not apparent to the naked eye, but only revealed when examined under a microscope. I think that this is a beautiful concept. It can be loosely applied to aerial views of crowds, grains of sand in large dunes, or the intricately played notes that lay within the collage of voices, instruments, and samples that make up a song. I studied science in college and I find that a lot of the art or music ideas I have are inspired by concepts in science that then become heavily misconstrued under the lens of my own individual interpretation. Lyrically Cryptocrystalline is all over the place and covers everything from political revolutions, international warfare, possession, and the precarious position of being partially free to dashed dreams and loneliness.

vum new girls week in pop

Describe the making of the multi-layered video and film media mesh that comprised the visual for “New Girls”.

Chris Badger and I shot “New Girls” on Super 8. We drew inspiration from mid-twentieth Century collage-style filmmaking while also including some found footage. Almost all of the edits are in camera. We used personal, household items like black, leather gloves or crystal necklaces that seem otherwise mundane, but take on a magical, aesthetic quality when combined. Photographer Kristin Cofer filmed the group shots of the band.

What sorts of methodologies or disciplines guide your own creative approaches to song writing and recording?

Our methodology is to throw it all against the wall and see what sticks. ‘New Girls’ was actually the first song we ever wrote. We wrote it on our first day as a band- New Year’s Day of 2008. During the creation of Cryptocrystalline, the four-track tape of that early ‘New Girls’ recording surfaced. I wrote new vocals, and re-recorded the guitar parts. The rest of the track is more or less the same as it was on that first day.

Still from VUM's video for "New Girls"; courtesy of the band & photographer Kristin Cofer.
Still from VUM’s video for “New Girls”; courtesy of the band & photographer Kristin Cofer.

What is next for VUM?

We are eagerly anticipating the long-awaited release of Cryptocrystalline! It will be out digitally on March 25th at all the usual outlets with vinyl to follow on May 3rd. Both will be available at Bandcamp to celebrate the release of “New Girls”, we are playing a free, all-ages show at LA Mother in Hollywood with Intimatchine and Dublab DJ Lady C. We will be performing at LA Mother again on March 24 for the album release.

We also hope to venture overseas to tour again!

VUM’s new album Cryptocrystalline will be available digitally March 25 & on vinyl May 3 from Secret Lodge.


Meet Markus, formerly Seatraffic's Mark Zannad; photographed by Max Sanchez.
Meet Markus, formerly Seatraffic’s Mark Zannad; photographed by Max Sanchez.

With Seatraffic being given a respectful and gallant viking funeral out into the great pacific yonder, Mark Zannad is proud to present the next stage and level of his creative cathartic syntheses with Markus and the launch single “Shy”. Sure there are traces of that luminous Seatraffic light show LED/neon sheen of character, but here Markus takes it to even deeper sub-sea terrains and levels. One analogy can look at the Mark & Brandon Seatraffic days as pastoral for ocean gazing hymns and odes to wonder, while the Markus solo new beginning focuses on digging the lesser disturbed terrain for electronic methods buried in chronological sedimentary stacks of earth absorbed ruins.

With the duo’s mutual dissolution of the former, Mark remains concentrated on new arrangements and patterns of synthesizer placements and heavier tonal weights.”Shy” shows Markus taking the self-made electro-designs from out of the confines of the bedroom and exploring deeper expanses of richly textured sound set-ups that convey things from more personal places, featuring more elaborate sequencing maneuvers. Read our exclusive Markus interview featured after the following listen to “Shy”.

Describe the transition from Seatraffic to going solo as Markus.

The timing couldn’t have been better. After the release of Beauty in the Night, the first and last Seatraffic LP, I started writing some new songs. At first these were intended to be Seatraffic songs, but as they took form, it became clear that they were much different than Seatraffic’s sound.

Brandon had been falling out of love with playing music for a few months after the release of the LP, he wants to settle down with his girl and move to Santa Cruz. The new sound is very influenced by electronic music and simple drum patterns. Playing these kind of patterns can be very boring for a drummer, especially one as technical as Brandon. We mutually agreed that Seatraffic was at it’s end.

Tell us about your own fusing of r&b and euro-dance deluxe together to make your own new brand of sound.

This is simply a product of what I have been listening to my entire life. I became interested in music when I was about 7 years old, and being from Las Vegas, you are pretty much subjected to the music you hear on the radio and see on TV. I was obsessed with 90’s r&b, I would stay up all night watching BET’s “Midnight Love”. In middle school, when I got a good grasp on how to use the internet, the genres I had access to became endless. With a little help from my older sister, I was introduced to electronic music. I would blindly download every song on KaZaa that was labeled Techno or House, I was listening to a lot of the early stuff from the big name EDM Artists of today, before their music took a turn for the worse and EDM became top 40.

Around the time I moved to SF I fell out of love with electronic music and became mostly interested in Bands, which is where Seatraffic came out of. This new sound is the culmination of all of this listening I have done in the past 20 years. I’ve rediscovered electronic music recently and there is some amazing stuff coming out these days.

How did you go about channeling introverted feelings to make the track “Shy”?

The mood of Shy came naturally, I don’t really think about how a song should feel or sound before I start writing, I usually just mess around until I hear something I like and then run with it. The lyrics always come after the music for me, so I write lyrics to match the mood of the song. This song is about going solo, being shy, playing the music I want to play, and not giving a fuck.

What other recordings can you discuss?

I have a few other songs in the works that will come out this year. Everything takes much longer now because I work full time as a designer and project manager at an architecture office.(I can’t say I’m an architect on record yet, because I don’t have a license… yet). As of right now the plan is to just keep releasing singles.

Other local Bay Area artists you want to give a shout out to?

I have to give a shout out to Michael Palmer of The Bilinda Butchers, he was my feedback coach for this song, and it wouldn’t have turned out the way it did without him pushing me.

What has been moving you lately in terms of sounds & visions?

In terms of sound, I’m still obsessed with Jessy Lanza, very excited for her new album coming out this month on Hyperdub, her production and vocals inspire me in a lot of ways. Also pretty much everything that the label 1080p Collection from Vancouver has been putting out is fire. Very excited for the Palmbomen II and Betonkust collab they are releasing on cassette.

In terms of vision, I’ve been really inspired by SF based artist Dylan Tushar’s photography lately, he takes macro photos of ordinary objects and makes them extremely compelling. It’s worth looking him up on Instagram.

Listen for more from Markus via Soundcloud.


The latest from LENPARROT; photographed by Maxence Lebreux.
The latest from LENPARROT; photographed by Maxence Lebreux.

LENPARROT presents the breath-taking video for “Dévot”, directed by Elsa & Johannaa collaboration with Noé PFstarring Johanna Benaïnous, Elsa Parra, Noé Pradel-Fraysse, Dominique Rivard, ft. Athena as the Horse, taken from THE Naufrage EP available now from Atelier Ciseaux Records. Following up the well received Aquoibonism EP, the artist born Romain Lallement from Nantes, France continues to compose songs of sophistication and sweet, minimalist devotions that only grow more distinct and pronounced with time.

“Dévot” is a song about separate people described in a simile of disparate oceans swimming back to one another. The rural games and regiments that Johanna, Elsa, Noé, & Dominique indulge in are seen from the passage of day to night where the LENPARROT trip of spinning mind expanding loops and lovers’ croon creates a ballad and spectacle of the bizarre and beautiful. Inexplicable phenomenons and rituals are carried out with characters that pay something of a meditative prayer to a metaphysical force that is only manifested in the music alone. Read our recent interview with LENPARROT’s Romain Lallement featured after the following presentation of the “Dévot” video.

Tell us everything that has been happening in the world of LENPARROT since our talk last summer.

Quite a lot, to be honest! The release of Aquoibonism by Atelier Ciseaux has been welcomed by a lot of great musical reviews in France and blogs from all around—I’ve been very pleased. The label made a short run of 100 tapes of this first EP in May—it was sold out in July! We played in a couple of nice venues, even in London with our friend Julien Gasc. Then back home at the end of the summer, we started to record Naufrage. Time has passed in the blink of an eye, no kidding!

Takes us from 2015’s Aquoibonism to the new ambitious EP Naufrage, and how you feel your own focuses and aesthetics have grown in that span and space of time.

The songs from Aquoibonism were mostly the first ones that I wrote for LENPARROT. They went out of me without any questions or considerations about their process or whatever. When they were out, I had pretty much nothing to say (laughs)! Things were a bit different with Naufrage, because there was already a first EP behind me, so I wanted to push those new songs forward. Maethelvin, Olivier Deniaud and I have been way more fussy on the production, and how each sound and song had to evolve. I didn’t wanted to reproduce this kind of unfinished melody mood which could appear on Aquoibonism.

How do you define your own creative recording and writing methods, or does it change from song to song?

It doesn’t follow any special plan. It can start from a idea, a melody, a little suite of words melt together—or just an afternoon spent on my piano or a synth. But quite often, the song needs to sleep for a while inside my head to gain maturity. I don’t have much waste when I’m writing, but this is why each song takes time.

Tell us about the epic video adaptation of Dévot by Elsa & Johanna!

I’m delighted that Elsa & Johanna are taking part in LENPARROT. We started working together last year with the short film made for Gena. The girls were in New York at this time – a perfect coincidence for a song inspired by Cassavetes. Dévot is our third collaboration together, this time alongside Noé PF—them 3 have created an incredible reverie. Elsa and Johanna usually ask me a bunch of questions about the song—where does it come from, if it’s inspired by something in particular. They need details about the lyrics and their meanings. After that, they’re free to do whatever they want wherever they want. Each new video sets the level a bit higher : I’ve never been disappointed.

What have you been listening to, reading, watching, enjoying in general lately?

The last Kurt Vile album, b’lieve I’m goin’ down…has been the perfect record for the end of the year. More recently there’s the new project from Julien Ehrlich (formerly of Unknown Mortal Orchestra), Whitney, which amazes me pretty much.

I’m currently reading the last novel written by my friend Julia Kerninon : Le dernier amour d’Attila Kiss, and it’s true beauty. And last but not least, I just learned today that Homeshake have planned their first french gig this spring in Paris and THIS is fuckin’ awesome.

Next moves for LENPARROT?

I gave myself a couple of months to write some new songs – that I’d love to record in july. If things are going well my first LP could be done at the end of the summer. I know where, when and with who – but not how.

I’ve been pretty lucky since the beginning of LENPARROT, let’s hope that it won’t stop too soon [laughs]!

The new LENPARROT EP Naufrage is available now from Atelier Ciseaux.

Unconditional Arms

Oakland's own Unconditional Arms.
Oakland’s own Unconditional Arms.

From Unconditional Arms’ Fever Basin 7″, we present a viewing of the title track video directed by Sinan G. featuring dance moves and choreography from Theresa Sivard. Sivard is seen here preparing for her performance under the spotlight expressed in b/w starkness that depicts our heroine dancing out the epic progressions from the ‘Arms where the lull in the song becomes a moment of brief rest and respite. It is short lived while the epic second half of the song takes on supernatural proportions as Theresa becomes a rapid flying angelic dancer whose movements are enhanced courtesy of Serkan Ertekin’s special effects. We were able to get to know the artist approaches employed by Unconditional Arms in our recent conversation with Jeffrey Adam Wright featured after the following video for “Fever Basin”.

Describe the creative process in the making of the evocative instrumental epic Fever Basin.

Fever Basin was made recorded last June or so. We went into an awesome local studio here in Oakland called The Secret Bathroom to track that and one other song (that should be coming out soon). Most of our songs are demoed out in my small Oakland apartment before they get to the studio, where we tweak things. Fever Basin, along with the new LP, and pretty much all come together in that form. But we’re not completely set on that writing form, we have done in-the-room writing one some material! Really, we try to keep it open so that we can find the best ways to serve the song. Our plan is to finish the LP this year, Fever Basin was just a taste.

Interested in hearing about the video adaptation of “Fever Basin” by Sinan G., featuring dancing and choreography from Theresa Sivard.

We met the director of the Fever Basin video, Sinan, after a show we played in San Francisco with Prawn. He came to our merch table after the set and told us how much he dug everything, that he lived in LA but was originally from Turkey. I had brought a couple copies of a limited RSD 12″ we did of our first record (Kinship) for a fan who didn’t want to pay shipping, and Sinan was BUMMED that he couldn’t buy one. This was right after the first press of Kinship had sold out, so he watched me give away pretty much the last one we had. After some chatter, I convinced him to come out to our show the next night in Oakland. It was there I gave him one of my personal copies of the record. From there, we kept in touch.

Some months later, Sinan brought his brother from Turkey to San Francisco, so we decided to meet up for a slice of pizza in Oakland while he was around. During our visit, Sinan told me that he had a huge passion for directing and making films. Then he asked me point blank, under the clause that “the worst thing I could say is no”, if he could work on a video for one of our songs. I said yes, even though at the time I had not seen any of his previous work or know him very well. I based that decision on the gushing excitement and drive he had to do the project. I kind of walked away from it like not really believing it was going to happen; sort of like we had a couple beers and a stomach full of pizza and had entered “the realm of possibilities” conversations that you always get to.

Fast forward a couple weeks and he sent me an email with his concept / script for the video. I was blown away. Sent it to the rest of the boys and they were blown away. I told him to run with his idea under the condition he takes complete ownership of it—and we, the band, have almost no input. This video, the crew who made it, the dancer, and everything on the to do with the project was put together by Sinan. Not one frame from the video was really touched by us. He kept me diligently updated through-out the months, but, I tried to make sure I never really told him any direction on anything. He sent us the first cut in November. I watched it after a 17 hour flight to Bangkok and was floored. I don’t know if I was just tired, or what, but at the moment it had struck such a huge chord with me to see the whole thing come together.

We’re extremely proud of him and couldn’t imagine a better way to capture the emotional vulnerability of the song, visually. Huge thanks to Sinan G, Theresa, and the entire crew who worked on this thing.

What inspires you all about Oakland and the Bay these days?

Oakland and San Francisco are growing, rapidly, but I’d say the most inspiring this about the area is how difficult it is to actually be a musician – yet we’re still pushing and producing some of the worlds most creative and thoughtful songwriting. We could talk about how much rent is in this crazy inflated time, but no one really talks about how on top of that, a musician pays to rent a rehearsal space. My rehearsal space rent is more than probably 80% of the country’s actually rent. Some person in Minnesota has an entire home + basement studio + garage for the price we pay for a room in a house. Creatives are working day and night to pay rent, practice space rent, eat food, book studio time, master their record, etc etc etc—in the one of the world’s most expensive place’s to do so. That’s inspiring.

Listen to more from Unconditional Arms via Bandcamp.


yuzima week in pop 1

From our friend Yuzima, check out the Jim Fairfax video for “Say What You Mean”. Brooklyn Bridge stoles and moments taken to break out into song. Shots of barges, and boats appear into the frame as Yuzima harnesses in his own understated-yet unbound release of noise that is fed through one of the NYC artist’s most melodic audio lenses heard yet. With 2016 entering the second quarter, Yuzima remains an artist to watch and listen out for.

Yuzima discussed both the song and video to us with the following insights:

“Say what you mean” is a representation of the times we live in – frustration, angst, aggressive mentalities.

While putting BEHEMOTH insta-album together I needed a track to bring the album together. My insta-albums typically have three songs united around a theme—“Say what you mean” became a thematic song with a dual meaning; one the spirit of the moment—everyone wants a certain kind of authenticity—the other—the inner force of a person. I focused these and the phrase, say what you mean, became emblematic of this duality. Once I had the poetry—I began experimenting with a pounding guitar strum which sort of dropped out of my imagination. I worked in drums and a powerful vocal to play on the operatic nature of the industrial backdrop. I think there is something very truthful at the moment in hard industrial sounds. The song resulted in a video that embraced the movement and drive of the sounds. Jim Fairfax, who shot the video, suggested the Brooklyn Bridge and using the energy of traffic and people on the bridge. He has a great eye and ability to put visual things together. After a day of filming on the bridge I did the editing myself with minimal effects and voila!


LA's new DIY hitmakers, Crescendo.
LA’s new DIY hitmakers, Crescendo.

With a plethora of buzz as of late surrounding Crescendo, we bring you further justifiable reasoning behind (and outside of) the machines of hype with the slick and sick as hell single “Pressure” that features Frankie Soto Surf Club (and former founding Craft Spells member) off the LA trio’s second album Unless available February 19 from the Pesaro, Italy by San Francisco tastemaker imprint We Were Never Being Boring. “Repulsor” from Crescendo in many books should go down as one of the greatest pop songs ever made, and by that measure “Pressure” knocks around the catalogs of influences and favorite DIY idols from Television Personalities to Huggy Bear. Gregory in a Sounds Good With Reverb article described the new single and collaboration with the following words:

“Pressure was one of the last songs on the album to be tracked and produced. It was apparent that we all felt it, and I were feeling the universe tugging to complete the record. At that point we decided to take the energy from the pressure… and transform it into creative power. As an artist your mind will play tricks on you and say, “everyone is counting on you to write the record of the year for your genre, so you better deliver.” … we knew better, and we settled on being ourselves. You can witness our attempt in the songwriting, mix, instrumentation, and the lyrics… It was an absolute pleasure working with Frankie of Surf Club, as he is not only our friend but also has an incredible live set and releases…

Frunk popping Cook's corks on city roofs.

Frankie Soto lent his thoughts on the making of “Pressure”: “It was really fun working with Crescendo”, Soto expressed during a recent messenger session, “they sent me just the instrumental so I was able to sorta decide where the song was going to head.” The result is creates a time machine effect transporting the listener back to 1986, back to the present of 2016, and perhaps event 2014. Discussing his contributions further, Frankie revealed the following with his own signature enthusiasm. “I’ve never sang over anyone else’s music before.”

Max Gardener

Long Beach by SF's Max Gardener.
Long Beach by SF’s Max Gardener.

“Get Lost” with Max Gardener in a day spent walking about San Francisco basking in the Marco Castaneda video from the single off the forthcoming album Memory Lounge February 19 from Citrus City / Sports Day Records. The Long Beach by San Francisco artist here captures visuals and feelings of a new artist getting lost in his surroundings, from Powell Street BART station, Yerba Buena Gardens adventures, manic Market Street run-abouts, Union Square loitering to feeling dizzy while being lost among the skyscraping ziggurats. Max Gardener is an artist to keep an eye and ear out for this year, and the years to follow.

Max was kind enough to talk with us about the new single, video and Memory Lounge with the following insights:

“Get Lost” was a song I wrote as I left high school. I was struggling with a lot of anxiety about all the changes that were coming my way but also felt bored with how things were at that moment. “Get Lost” was kind of my way of saying, Alright, let’s go.

The song is really just about going out and finding a fun way to live life rather than being sad and not doing anything about it. With the video I wanted to try and it make that look like there was a transition from that confused state to a realization that things are alright. San Francisco is a very vibrant city with plenty of things to see and do, showing me exploring it’s streets this winter was great.

I’ve only recently moved to San Francisco but I have already experienced plenty of new scenery and new people. So far my experience roaming around in SF is exactly what I was looking for when I wrote “Get Lost”. The album, Memory Lounge, as a whole is an attempt to take the listener out of their stressful life and let them reminisce on their life as a whole, rekindling those emotions and memories that may have gotten buried with our everyday lives. Hopefully the people that listen to it can sit back, put it on, and enjoy their day and what is to come.

Brasil’s electro-dance denizens DeltaFoxx keep the party rocking, rolling, and dancing far past the break of dawn with their new single “Runaway” out now and melting away the icicle prismatic-prisons of winter. Decking out their sound as if spring and summer were already here Cris Quizzik and company keep the synths, vibes, and feels shining at an all time high-definition.

Burner Herzog

Introducing Burner Herzog.
Introducing Burner Herzog.

Jasper Patrick Leach (who you might remember from Brasil, also known for his work with Cold Sun, Glass Cake, etc) returns as Burner Herzog, delivery harmonies and happiness channeled through harpsichord in the coolest of fashions on “Dark Places”. The Oakland artist presents his new single recorded at Berkeley’s Alcatraz with a novelty-esque twisted tune that features an additional vocal assist from Jenny Yang, and with extra handclaps supplied by Christopher Portka. Keep an ear out for more from Burner Herzog down the road. Jasper provided us with the following introduction to his new project of love with the following:

Burner Herzog is my new solo, kaleidoscopic-pop project. It’s influenced by the usual mish-mash of everything, Kramer, Jim O’Rourke, Pere Ubu, Arthur Russell, Sun Ra, etc… but essentially the point of the music is to demonstrate my own version of pop music in its most idealized form: something tightly constructed, sonically diverse, direct and memorable. The idea is to be able to express the inexpressible, the inevitable contradiction of engaging in life itself, fleeting idealistic optimism against the omnipresent crush of endless destruction and decay (see: the name of the project) and attempt to find some kind of transcendence where these extremes meet….in a three-minute song.

Listen to more from Burner Herzog via Bandcamp.


Kicking with Krisp; press photo courtesy of the band.
Kicking with Krisp; press photo courtesy of the band.

Miami’s Krip released Sonic Monarchlast month via Gummdrops, and today they debut the AIMES remix of “Franz”. Alejandro Lopez, Juan Ledesma, Charlie Woods, and Robert Villar get their rhythmic-synth energy sound turned up a few notches on the dial for something shiny and steadfast in both cadence and groove. With music made to add to your own fun-fueled Florida evening endeavors, the original is complimented by additional rhythms and keyboard choices to add further feels and focuses.

Krisp’s “Franz” (AIMES Remix) retains the funkier portions of the bass synthesizers, while adding subtle industrial prosody to the percussion equations as synths cascade up and down and all around the guitar accouterments. A halfway mark break down slows down the mix and allows the sustained keys to become more isolated in their respective reverberations. And as swift as it started the beat kicks back up to a club night for your next vacation spent out on the keys in a rental or decked out house boat/yacht parked at the harbor. Krisp’s own Alejandro took a moment to talk with us in our interview sessions featured right after the following AIMES remix of “Franz”.

Give us the whole story on the making of Sonic Monarch.

It was a very organic experience which started at one of her friends studios which was called caterpillar studios we already had ideas for all the songs they were all basically Jam’s which had no lyrics are words so we began by writing the song from beginning to and who one would then take the songs, listen to them in his car and make up the melodies and lyrics as he went along and I was pretty much the whole writing process for all the songs.

What’s good and cool right now in Wynwood, Miami?

I think everything that’s going on in Wynnewood is very cool and all the shops and galleries that are popping up and are really incredible everyone and anyone with an artistic idea can basically go and express themselves there,every second Saturday of every month artists and musicians can go and basically express ideas that they have. It’s been going on for a couple of years now but it’s really starting to pick up we had our start at gab studios and that’s where we met Dean Taha, our manger, and through dean came Gummdrops which is the label and production company that was born.

Describe the making of the single “Franz”, and what sorts of items may have informed the dance-infused aspects of the single.

Franz like all the other songs was basically a jam and anything that came out which had any type of dance infused vibe was something that just came to be, it wasn’t really a process that was thought out or planned. That’s why think it was so special I think things that are planned out don’t usually end well at least in my case everything that comes out naturally is the best process.

Thoughts on AIMES remix of “Franz”?

I think the remix is very very very cool,
It has its own special vibe and that really doesn’t sound anything much like what the original started out and that’s why think it sounds so good.

What else is next for Krisp?

We have a show in the Dominican republic which is a festival which is called the Isle of light. This is our first show overseas and it’s really quite incredible that we are going to play w Neon Indian, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and many other great acts.

Other South Florida artists and scenes we should be hipped to right now?

Ketchy Shuby is one of my favorite artist out right now, they are all incredible musicians and great people they have been playing for a while now but they’re about to blow up!

Krisp’s Sonic Monarch is available now from Gummdrops.

Sydney Banta welcomes you back to the world of L.A. Girlfriend with the free-fall synth brilliance of “Welcome To The Abyss”. The opener to LAGF’s anticipated album Neon Grey follows up the epic high school break-up fallout blues of the Varsity EP with the most pop undertaking yet. “XIV” kicks over the trophy cabinets of yesterday to claim a whole other kind of self-proclaimed prize, maintaining the massive mood and momentum on “Monsters of Habit”, checking in the burdensome baggage in ways that you could call the LAGF trademark sound on “Heavy History”. But the party is only getting started as “Little Do I Know” plays out the knowing what I know now feelings of cause/effect/emotion aftermath in pure Sydney Banta fashion. Furthering this motif, the heart and sentiment run deep to the core on songs like “Tattoos & Chambray” the knock-out dream crush-crasher “Swoon”, to the big lit & boldly recorded song that lives up to ever bit of it’s chosen title-“Subliminal Fantastic”.

Sydney shows up and shuts down the haters with her greatest and most realized work to date that we always knew should mastermind. Consider the holiday songs, and unreleased items strewn about the socials like easter eggs of fortune and fascination-LAGF continues on a prominent creative strike too great to be ignored.

Introducing Patrick Holbrook’s new project Well Yells, delivering his self-made video for the title track “Waves In The Woods” from the forthcoming album available February 19 via Bandcamp. Creating home-made synth-stated ditties like a DIY John Carpenter; Holbrook heralds back to the days of the no-wave worlds were rules of convention, construct, and conformity are smashed like semi-precious diamonds, or bourgeoisie vases.

Hear Brett’s new single “Claire Drained” (with a title that vaguely resembles the phonetics of the actress name Claire Daines) from the D.C. group’s new album Mode available March 18 from Cascine. Brett here depicts a duet exchange between lovers in conversation over quarrels and questions that are sung over the most sweetest sound-deco that creates cool coasting feelings that one wishes would ride on and out for infinity.

Robert Toher (fka of ERAAS) delivered the latest Public Memory single with “Zig Zag” taken off the album debut Wuthering Drum available March 18 from felte. Toher takes those supernatural synth to drum mechanics and mindfulness further into labyrinthine algorithms as his voice hovers in the silo-hall echo that reverberates through every organ and chamber of your body.

The High Violets’ album Heroes and Halos will be available April 1 from Saint Marie Records, captivating us by the captivating voice of Kaitlyn ni Donovan that when combined with the dream-penned mix creates for the flicker and feel of a candle shining bright into the night from the encasing of a lantern.

In more Saint Marie news, deardarkhead ready their album Strange Weather for March 25 delivering more instrumental dream-spun tapestries with a listen to “Ice Age” that band introduced to us with the following words:

Not necessarily about a geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the earth’s surface and atmosphere, but more of a personal cooling down. As one gets older, and hopefully wiser, the passion of youth settles down a bit. Things change, but that doesn’t mean you have to go quietly. I think that’s what it’s all about. The melodic bass line Mr. McCauley plays is a big part of the song. When we were demoing this, we kept adding more and more guitar leads to the song and it just grew. It definitely has a dramatic, sense of urgency.

Philadelphia area based Pill Friends dropped the Stephen Tringali video for “Bleed” of winter hobbies, b-ball games, skateboards, welding, and taking the time to nurture timeless friendships in time to a catchy little tune. Find this and more on their upcoming album Child Sacrifice available February 12 from Out Of Breath Records.

For those in need of the perfect tightly controlled and much needed freak-out moment; then we highly recommend Ladada’s “New Psych” off the forthcoming Hi Five EP available on limited edition 12″ wax pressed on transparent coke bottle green available April 1 fromGold Robot Records. As a response to the very song title, the single lives up to it’s name by reverberating and shaking the old dinosaur fossil crypts of dead grandpa rock’s past to new awakenings.

Osaka composer from the future Seiho dropped the big bright maximalist trip on us with the beat-deluxe suite of “Peach And Pomegranate”, found off the forthcoming album Collapse available May 20 from Leaving Records.

For those desiring a big-time theatrical vocal pop production, then we bring you Valerie Broussard’s “A Little Wicked” about claiming back the crown from the patriarchal forces that be.

Hart & Hare dropped the new single distorted-fuzz-n-frenzy of “Nothing”, taken from a forthcoming EP for Breakup Records, being currently recorded now at Jackpot! Recording. The Portland duo bring in the viscous slow-burn of synths, drums, vocals, and guitars that recite the lyrics that implores their offstage crush to oblige in; “let’s do nothing, together” that push past the ennui toward something of a greater substance.

Okay Kaya presents a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Keep On Pushing” the b-side of a 7″ available via Su Tissue ft. production from Adult Jazz. Listen here as the 70s big-time funk gets the uptown attitude turned upside down for a downtown trip like cruising deep into the inner-city sects from the backseat of a drop-top convertible while taking in the air and vibrancy of a spring afternoon. Word through the channels has it that Kaya is working on her debut album with talents ranging from Tobias Jesso Jr to Jamie xx.

Peep the video “#OHWELL” from East London’s own emcee crew Scarper, Mike Bagz and Bruts bringing a bit of the latest rhymes and rhythms from the collective for 2016. Keep an eye and ear out for more from the bunch in the days and weeks to follow.

In the same vein and theory re-appropriated and championed as a creed and general lifestyle choice by the great Andrew W.K.; we invite you to listen to Ned and the Dirt’s “We Scream Party” off the forthcoming Wild Pack: Haunt These Woods available March 4. It’s all the big, bombastic, and balls-out kicks that are sure to get you either kicked out of your parent’s house, or lose your renters deposit.

Jasmine Golestaneh (known as one half of the NYC duo Tempers) introduced us to her debut solo single “Bad Times” with the Katja Eichinger video of Warholian screen test aesthetics and iconic proportions. Golestaneh’s song paints personal portraits as Eichinger’s video pays tribute to experiences spent in the company of “Baby Jane” Holzer.

Also check out the new Fiordmoss single “Madstone” that entrances in ways the ambient, and obscure available today from Diamond Club. Petra & Roman together make music like sparse, hard hitting spells that materialize from some kind of alternate plane of existence.

Mr. Lif sent word to the masses that his new album Don’t Look Down will be available April 15 from Mello Music Group, lending the single “Whizdom” featuring Blacastan and Edan’s lo-fi organic production. Lif presents his own trajectory style of delivery that dishes out some Boston based wisdom with Blacastan keeping it weird with the verse assist as Edan keeps the entire atmosphere spinning on direct-drive analogue gears.

Hospital Ships’ album The Past is not a Flood will be available March 11 from Graveface Records, and we have the song “All In Time”. Traces of the past and future dovetail together like two peas in a pod as the Ships take routes on the seas of life, basking in various lessons of mortality and other short stories of existence in the temporal world.

Dive into the “Supernatural Voodoo” video from Zuli that brings some performance footage to match the power pop feeling of their sound before they take off on a tour running from March 3 through April 22.

Tendai of Shabazz Palaces’ duo Chimurenga Renaissance delivered us the following Girlz With Gunz mixtape brought together with performance that will open your eyes, ears, and mind. An event not to be missed that will switch-on the senses.

RYAL is here to save your weekend dance playlist desires with the star-synth-sent single “Wish” taken off her self-titled EP available February 19.

Like Craft Spells’ Gallery cranked up to an evil heat; hear Glass Spells’ “Rebellion” that delivers a Mexico by San Diego sound that could be described as something of a southwest response to the movements and excitement surrounding Downtown Boys/Malportado Kids. Referencing the aforementioned icons in moniker, sounds, and delivery of defiance; Glass Spells prove to be the next great threat of excitement emerging from the Southern California corridors.

The big boss of the big-time bleepy-boop-wave-whatever Seth Haley, otherwise known to the world as Com Truise has returned in proper fashion with the new cut”Diffraction” to supply the world with a whole other kind of synth manufactured diversion. Find this off the forthcoming third Com Truise album Silicon Tare available April 1 from Ghostly.

Introducing Skela who emerged on our radars with the single “Rivers” produced by fellow writing partner Josh Jacobson full of slow burning sweetness that sails into late evening tributaries. The piano pointed notes work their ways across the narrow and twisting streams with keys that rise up towards triumphant and life affirming states of being.

With Hot Nerds’ Generic Plans for a New Blunder available now from Three One G, we big you the following head-banging/things-breaking/anthem-to-smash-everything-to with “Belated Brains”. Might either quell or aid a nervous breakdown, but not to be missed regardless.

In case you missed it, check out Nite Jewel & Droop-E as AMTHST bumping their new week-ender jam “Let It Go” taken off the forthcoming Euphoria EP available soon from Sick Wid It Records. Get ready for Ramona’s regal queen bee vocal dominance as E brings the ghost-trap steez and verse breeze.

Check out the snazzy-zig-zagging electro-groove “Bite Your Brains” from Fresh Big Mouf’s forthcoming album debut Taco Boom Box available this spring. Creating an electrified stew of dive bar disco-funk, Mouf keeps the wattage turnt upward with a comical edge to keep the dance floor smiling.

Swoon (the new project from Fanfarlo’s Simon Balthazar & King Knut) dropped “Heatwave” to add some flair-inflected-infusions of fun and energy off the upcoming digi-single available February 19 from Canvasclub.

Berlin’s Better Person drops his debut EP February 19 through Mansions and Millions, and we bring you something to keep you warm during those icy Sunday nights of obsessive acknowledges doted upon in absentia.

Peep the celebratory Kreayshawn video for SWMRS’ garage pop punk buzz-cut “Figuring It Out” off the band’s Zac Carper (of FIDLAR) produced album Drive North available today from Uncool Records.

For those looking for some slow-burning jaded-blues rock; then listen no further than Jack Berry’s “The Bull” that relishes in that destitute saloon desperado/derelict type of approach and weathered-air of anger coupled by an earned arrogance. Find this off Berry’s forthcoming album Mean Machine available this spring.

Peep the Elba Berganza lyric video for Elephant Stone’s “Where I’m Going” that features scenes of epic journeys to compliment your own private karaoke party. Find this and more stone cold pop licks on the Stone’s upcoming Ship Of Fools release.

Mark Andrew Hamilton, aka Woodpigeon returns after three years with his new Sandro Perri produced album T R O U B L E available April 1 from Boompa. The Greg Gillespie and John James video finds Hamilton delivering his heart hurt songs of reflection and reckoning amid various dyed smoke plumes that add to the mystical and sentimental vibe.

Brass Bed are coming back at ya with In The Yellow Leaf available April 15 from Modern Outsider, and we present to the band’s sound that transports the listener back to those early r & r days in ways that run deep. The resonating amp blasted resin sparks Delta blues electric-allusions, to chords from your favorite Sun Records champions, to echoes of girl group and 50s sad boy songs to keep you up all night sobbing for your own respective reasons out of joy and euphoric sorrow.

In more Modern Outsider news, Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow present the trad-enchanted single “Dolemite” taken from the forthcoming album From The Forest Came The Fire available April 1. From Ren-faire revelry and dream folk fantasias; Dana and company take you through a portal of fairport conventions and nu-Renaissance worlds of sound and sensations.

Seen playing Reading / Leeds and Isle of Wight festivals, who are now slated to be featured via BBC Introducing at this year’s SxSW; hear The Sherlocks’ new power pop single “Last Night” that couples foggy memories while collecting the fuzzy puzzle pieces of consequences.

We bring you a listen to the forthcoming singe from Living, made up of Bergen’s own Lucas de Almeida, Nora Tårnesvik (of Marbe Pools, Frøder) and Sturla Kverneng (Hvitmalt Gjerde) on percussion readying Cerulean available March 12 from Brilliance Records. Readying SxSW appearances March 11 at Icenhauers, March 12 at Austin Backyard; get a listen to music that will left you to new places, new heights, and new spirited states of being.

MMOTHS present the Jonas Lindstroem video for “Eva” from the Luneworks available March 11 from OYAE / Because Music, featuring here fashionable models and expansive settings for Jack Colleran’s electro-tek sound works to inhabit.

Hear the rhythmic-nether-worlds from Nisennenmondai in their work with UK-dub-meister Adrian Sherwood on the track “#3”featuring what the female Japanese trio refers to as their own “organic techno” for a new upcoming On-U Sound album.

Anenon presents the intellectual drum & bass sound boutique of the atmospheric “Once”, a new single from Anenon’s upcoming Petrol available March 4 from Friends of Friends. The drones and sustains here work across cinematic scapes and copes where moods and percussion bring to mind a million scenes of endless ear catching allure.

Hear Taylor Deupree ambient remix of Kodomo’s “Endless Waves” from an EP of the same name available February 26. The answer to your weekend meditations has arrived.

Pete Astor

Idol & icon from the original era of the independent spirits—Pete Astor; photographed by Susanne Ballhausen.
Idol & icon from the original era of the independent spirits—Pete Astor; photographed by Susanne Ballhausen.

Pete Astor provided you with nearly the entire soundtrack to your misspent youth in one form or another. From The Loft, The Weather Prophets, an eclectic solo ouvre, and more, Astor was signed to Creation Records before it was cool, and influenced nearly the entire lot of 90s Brit pop-fops, poseurs of the oughts, to today’s own independently minded artists. We are extremely honored to help one of our favorite artists celebrate the release of Spilt Milk available now from Fortuna POP! and Slumberland Records with Pete Astor’s Week in Pop guest selections:.

Hello! It’s my week in pop.

You know. Yes.

My favourite Fall album–a perfect moment, long ago: Grotesque.

And now, Glen Glenn, who, perhaps by accident, arrived at some perfectly Twin Peaks-rockabilly.

In 1969 John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band did a thing in Toronto where they got their heroes to support them. Here’s Jerry Lee Lewis. This is IT. It could be the boots, it could be the hair, it could be the polyester top; it could also be the endless vanity and arrogance of one of the greatest rock stars ever. And the coldest lizard stare in show business!

The legendary Pete Astor spending some quality time reading Charles Rycroft; photographed by Susanne Ballhausen.
The legendary Pete Astor spending some quality time reading Charles Rycroft; photographed by Susanne Ballhausen.

One year later, the hippies were starting up Glastonbury and Terry Reid showed how ‘it’ could be done. Note the inhalation of the drummer, followed by his funk: unlikely, true and totally magnificent.

Lee Moses. Oh! Just wait till it kicks off at .049. The kind of track that feels like it’s going to fucking BURST! Yes! (…and, according my deep soul expert-friend, Jimi Hendrix playing the guitar).

And I’ll thank the genius of Lena Dunham for having Jessa freak out to it in Girls…

Here’s Nina Simone doing something extraordinary with Suzanne – it’s all about the timing…

(…and her straight-up piano version. Oh yes!)

DIY pop lord Pete Astor; photographed by Susanne Ballhausen.
DIY pop lord Pete Astor; photographed by Susanne Ballhausen.

Here’s an utterly strangely odd song…beauty in absurdity.

Washington Phillips, in case you didn’t know…

The mighty Stanley Brinks and the Wave Pictures…

And, thank you and goodnight from a perfectly miserable git. Ladies and gentlemen, Philip Larkin:

Follow Pete Astor via Twitter.