The horrific recent Minnesota & Louisiana police shootings of Alton Sterling & Philando Castile followed by the subsequent chaos in Dallas, with protests organizing all over emphasize the urgent need of unity, civility & understanding between all humans both at home and abroad. While the current domestic, foreign, & overall global state of sorry political-socio-economic affairs bears more questions than answers; Impose’s Week in Pop continues to fight the good fight against injustices of race, gender, class, and all threats to the freedom of identity. With a host of artists who elaborate more on these topics with new breaking media arts, we give you the latest top news rundown with first word that Beyoncé delivered the urgent message to take a stand and demand of “stop killing us” after the police killings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, & everywhere; Jay Z dropped the single “spiritual” in response to the string of police brutality; The Game & Snoop Dogg lead a protest in Los Angeles; all eyes on Frank Ocean in anticipation of Boys Don’t Cry (allegedly available later this month), who is also part of Calvin Klein’s Fall 2016 campaign also with Young Thug, Kate Moss & Grace Coddington; Flying Lotus announced his directorial debut with the upcoming short Royal; Lil B lifted the curse he placed on Kevin Durant after KD joined the Golden State Warriors; Fielded dropped the Alex Mallis video for “I Choose You”; Clams Casino dropped the Grant Singer video for “Ghost in a Kiss” ft. our hero Samuel T. Herring; Swae Lee from Rae Sremmurd was allegedly behind Beyoncé’s conceptual framework for “Formation”; Janelle Monae & Kendrick Lamar played at the White House to celebrate July 4; the Pixies announced the new album Head Carrier, & dropped “Um Chagga Lagga”; Arca released Entrañas, ft. the track “Sin Rumbo”; Gucci Mane dropped the Gabriel Hart directed video for “First Day Out the Feds”, & responded to clone rumors, & dropped the track “On Me” ft. a posthumous Tupac verse orginally from “Fuck ‘Em All“; Toro Y Moi’s own Chaz Bundick announced the forthcoming concert album & film Toro Y Moi: Live From Trona, directed by Harry Israelson; Snoop Dogg dropped the Benny Bloom video for “Point Seen Money Gone” ft. Jeremih; Rich the Kid dropped the mixtape Rich Forever II ft. cameos from Young Thug, Lil Yachty, Jaden Smith, etc; EZTV’s High in Place will be available Septebmer 30 on Captured Tracks, & Ezra Tenenbaum dropped “High Flying Faith” ft. Jenny Lewis; Keaton Henson x Mitski x Ryan Hemsworth collaborated on “Wait” single; Madeira, aka Kim Pflaum, former Yumi Zouma singer signed to Carpark and announced her debut EP Bad Humors available September 23, & dropped the single “Manipulator”; Peaches dropped the Briana Gonzales produced & directed video for “Vaginoplasty”; Logic dropped the Bobby Tarantino mixtape, sharing “Flexicution”; Gonjasufi announced the upcoming album Callus availale August 19 from Warp, & dropped the tracks “Surferinfinity” & “Maniac Depressant”; Yasiin Beey (the artist fka Mos Def) joined BADBADNOTGOOD onstage at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in South Africa to perform the new song “Arcade”; Courtney Barnett’s star studded Sunny Leunig video for “Elevator Operator”; Kanye West needs you to help bring his YEEZY Adidas brand into being; new Daft Punk merch; Radiohead’s Grant Gee visuals for “The Numbers”; Slothrust signed to Dangerbird with news that their new album Everyone Else will be available in fall, ft. October/November tour with Highly Suspect; Crystal Castles dropped the video for “Concrete” ft. new vocalist Edith Frances (who replaced Alice Glass); Chicago’s Supa Bwe dropped “Foot Wit It Freestyle” ft. Chance the Rapper; Andrew W.K. expressed his love for pizza in a song; RiFF RAFF seeks musicians to join his country group; new Tegan & Sara song featured in trailer for The Intervention; video from Bon Iver leader Justin Vernon’s first band Mount Vernon has surfaced; The Flaming Lips’ Few Spirits collaboration on the $124.99 “Brainville Rye Whiskey”; Franz Ferdinand guitarist Nick McCarthy left the band for other attentions & focuses; Apple responded to Spotify’s criticism of their music service; Savages are decidely not over Sufjan Stevens’ criticisms of the typography used on the cover of their debut album Silence Yourself; Just Blaze documented getting his Lamborghini Huracan pulled over by the police; Fergie dropped the “M.I.L.F. $” video; Lollapalooza, Columbia canceled; Ciara versus Future continues; reports of rampant sexual assaults at recent Swedish music festivals; two dead at Scotland’s T in the Park festival; Wavves banned all bad people from their shows; Morrissey announced his first UK show to take place August 20 at Manchester Arena after his alleged last UK show last year.
Here to help us make sense of the world and overcome all obstacles of oppression, it is our pleasure & privilege to present the following breaking media, interviews, exclusives, insights, and more from ◊ EMERALD-LANE, lojii, Olivia II, Pardoner, Dark Colour, Emily Afton, EMYLE, Fielded, His Clancyness, Ian William Craig, Of Clocks And Clouds, Picture, Pip Blom, Work Drugs, featuring guest selections by Wymond Miles, and more and more—in no particular order.
Introducing lojii, the artist formerly known as Uhlife who delivers the following world premiere of the subterranean atmospheres of “dutti” recorded with Soulection’s NiceGuyxVinny. The underground ambient track follows up last year’s heavy single “No Ebola” that sought answers & reason within the madness & widespread hysteria surrounding 2015’s outbreak epidemic of that fatal fever. On “dutti”, lojii lays out lyrics that dismiss the idolatry & conventions of the hip hop & music industry that trades the glamorous worlds of fame shone in the daylight & spotlight for the underground comforts of solace “where no sun is found.” Announcing the forthcoming album lofeye available later this year from Youngbloods, lojii continues his quests & lyrical queries that pursue awareness while working with producers and beat-smiths from NiceGuyxVinny to Swarvy, Trampers, Thook, Space People & Vertiqua. As the Los Angeles artist buries his former alter-ego, lojii sheds the mantle of his former self in a narrative that illustrates the outward & inward struggles while documenting everything from personal growth, to the art of ascension from the underground roots all the way up to tallest & highest branches.
The new track “dutti” begins with NiceGuyxVinny’s ghosting synth sustains that cue a vocal loop that interacts with the sparse percussion that populates the pensive & meditative track. The LA emcee entertains elements of wordplay that make vague references to the Italian clothes designer Massimo Dutti, riffing off the titular surname heard in the chorus quips of, “I’m way too dirty & underground, wipe me on down, find me on shine where no sun is found, wipe on down…” Lojii revels in the sub-sect levels of the game, “low & subliminal,” while keeping the entire meta-conscious flow fresh, “so new ain’t in the news, don’t need to get reviewed, for shit that no critics do, ’cause it could get critical, this flow ain’t got no interlude…” The LA artist eschews titles, rivals, idols, dreaming of a rightful place on Hova’s Tidal service while retaining all A-list levels of confidence that recognizes the entire rags to riches continuum in the second verse that states, “So far from average, don’t want the average, my robes are so ragged, but life is so lavish, I’m so blessed to have it & that’s all that matters, it’s all just matter.” That woozy-headed production maintains a dedicated & focused head space as lojii delivers some very prophetic words that dovetail with the current events from malicious police killings, rising racial tensions, and the ensuing riots that have resulted from the cumulating unrest from the black community, and all marginalized groups that have been segregated and/or sequestered to the underserved sections of what is rapidly becoming a global ghetto governed by the disaffected dictators. “I’m mobbin’, all masked up, riot squaddin’ all through the streets, yelling no gods, no masters, no love for no coppa, the black op era, no genre, just a new wave on the doppler.” Lojii like the voices of many emcees, artists, & activists points to a discriminatory racial pandemic where subversive allusions & tones echo the unrest & anarchy of our current era where music & creative approaches serve as the best recourse & resource for survival & pushes for an understanding of coexistence & fundamental human rights. “Got the bass up in my system, ’til it’s disruptin’ the system.” And even though lojii states in the first verse that he “don’t do no interviews, won’t do no interviews”—we feel honored & privileged to present the following discussion with the artist, featured right after the following debut listen to “dutti”.
What prompted the name switch from Uhlife to lojii, and what does it signify for you?
It’s a time of deep growth for me. I’ve been going through a lot of dirt and doing my best to rise out of it. I wanted a new name to reflect all this. Loji is a malaysian word for plant. It came to me before I even knew that. To me it was something I came up with as an iller, phonetic way to spell low G, as in, a G that moves low, because that’s me in essence. I never been into the hypebeast shit. I don’t put my hustle on blast, I just keep it G, put in work and let that work speak for itself.
I wondered to myself what would pop up online if I typed it in.
First thing that popped up was that it meant plant in malaysian.
That’s when I knew it was meant to be.
I made it lowercase and added an i so above the j and the two i‘s there’s three dots for three eyes—lojii.
Tell us about the making of this upcoming album, & what it’s been like working with NiceGuyxVinny on these two singles (dutti & no ebola).
Yo… Making this album’s been a deep journey through being broke, being a “nxgga” in amerikkka, dealing with this crooked, racist system we live in, dealing with addictions, and throughout all of that, writing songs about it.
The production on it comes from people who come across me on this journey, heard my songs or words about it and have helped me put the sonic backdrop to this new chapter. Whether they heard a song online from over the years or we’ve made an organic connection in person at a show or some shit.
Vinny’s one of those organic connections. We met at a hole in the wall show we did together years ago and started making music after that. We’ve been through a lot shit you’ll hear me speak about on this album together: sleeping on floors, sharing food on EBT, finding random ways to get money when we couldn’t find jobs. These songs came real natural.
Describe the inspirations behind “dutti”.
Everything I’ve already touched on in my answers to the last questions.
This song’s about being broke and beautiful. From the dirt all things grow.
What are you listening to right now?
A lot of soul, punk, and blues.
lojii’s upcoming album lofeye will be available later this year from Youngbloods.
Having arrived not a moment later than need, Los Angeles band, production crew, phenomenon in their own right—◊ EMERALD-LANE has just released the incredibly timely & exceedingly relevant double EP in C M C S. Founder & leader Orion “Sonny” Coates advocates for people to know themselves through receiving the inspiration-information streams and sound beams that Sonny says promote & provide beauty, insight, and cosmic-awareness. Released in the wakes of the unjust deaths of Alton B. Sterling and Philando Castile, the swells of racial injustice & the names of the people behind the #blacklivesmatter hashtag, and a world spinning off its axis of so-called civic stability—Coates & company are not here to feed the fear mongering or encourage apathy but provide something beneficial for the community that works to alleviate the hurt through proselytizing awakened audio experiences to help overcome any and all adverse situations.
Having previously pushed the creative conversation with fellow luminaries like SA-RA Creative Partners, Thundercat, Austin Peralta, Cody ChesnuTT, and more; Coates continues to redefine the creative approach to music with Wow Jones (keyboards for Bryson Tiller), Mike Moore (percussion for Kid Cudi), Joel Whitley (who has played with Stevie Wonder, Kimbra, etc), Thomas Drayton (bassist seen touring lately with Childish Gambino), along with percussionist Allakoi Peete. Together ◊ EMERALD-LANE create a double EP that is divided between C M C S (RED) & C M C S (BLUE), where Sonny explained the (RED) disc being the “grid” version, whereas (BLUE) reflects an “off-grid” approach. Sonny describes the RED EP as “reflecting the modern electronic production aesthetic, while [BLUE] embodies a more timeless aesthetic.” Orion described spreading the message of positivity in a way that affects as many folks as possible, through “varying the communicative expression. In the very least, we’ve pioneered a compelling approach that other artists can try,” Sonny explained, “It’s twice the work, but I can totally see this becoming a standard model of music-production in the future.”
C M C S (RED) begins the hard healing process with the “fuck your feelings” discarding of the “smashed up old regimes” toasted on the opening & introductory “Salutations From the Balcony”. The shifting of thoughts & turning of tables chants down the walls of oppression (both internal & external) on “Here Come The Change”, pondering questions of the heart’s truth on the mystic title track wonder “C M C S” that brings midday meditations for those in need of enlightenment or respite from the weariness that the world has wrought. Searches for love & sanctuary can be heard on the dub-steeped “Above / Below”, right before being treated to wah-wah pedal laden interlude that provides a reflective instrumental moment of head lifting-levity. The life pursuit of all the elusive items that extend outside the reaches of understanding, “Submarine-Tourmaline” dives down to the deepest of depths with a musical apparatus seeking semi-precious gemstones that bring the listener to the smoky timeless “(Postlude)” that combines orchestral items on a full bodied beat that slaps with much more than just your ordinary backing track. ◊ EMERALD-LANE’s “grid” version chooses to be switched on to the familiar electric-avenues and pop trope altitudes that is more modern canon conscious, while keeping the progressions and arrangements ever changing in nature like the impact seasons have on the inhabitants of earth.
◊ EMERALD-LANE’s “off-grid C M C S (BLUE) EP disc provides a complimentary alternate reading and view of the (BLUE) disc where the reins are thrown to the wind while Sonny & the gang run against the conventions of the breeze. “Salutations From The Balcony” becomes transformed into what is deserving of being the opening title score to an intense dystopian blockbuster. The take on “Here Come The Change” is heard as a more ambient number where the echoes of SA-RA and the Brainfeeder team resonate here—as well as on the following title track—like ghosts haunting all acoustic & electronic instruments involved in the mix. The (BLUE) version of “Above / Below” provides a more stripped-down version that brings PMA recitations of “keep following the signs, you know just how it goes, sometimes its right under your nose, it just takes a little bit of time for you to find that gift of love, don’t think of ever giving up,” certain to lift all downtrodden spirits. The interlude here provides a cosmic prayer that features Sonny sailing like a comet through the infinite sky, while “Submarine-Tourmaline” is even spacier and dressed in a more sparse arrangement that feels like a journey between dimensions of reality and alternate existence passageways, right before you have no choice but to be hurdled into the infinite chasms of galaxies on the closing “(POSTLUDE)”. Although this “off-grid” disc might have track titles that correlate to the “grid” edition, (BLUE) is a whole other world that exists on a whole other map of the mind. Join us after the following listen for a very candid, cool, & mind opening interview with none other than Orion “Sonny” Coates.
You have described music as being technology, “it’s ancient, and yet it’s futuristic. We’re not entertaining as much as we’re consciously initiating programs and applications.” Describe how you and the ◊ EMERALD-LANE group create these audio adventures that work in ways of cosmic-awareness, and highlight the beauty and natural insights that are all around us.
Yes, well, the main purpose of the ◊ EMERALD-LANE organization is to “help accelerate the realization of ’Biosphere Consciousness’ with the express purpose of catalyzing positive social change.” em-lane.com “Biosphere Consciousness” is basically the next phase of human awareness. It’s when all of humanity start to function as an integrative whole, as opposed to a divided nation-states. It’s a perspective of cosmic abundance and, in my opinion, it’s inevitable. I decided to contribute every bit of talent, effort, and vision I have toward the realization of that ideal because ultimately, it’s the only sustainable option for the planet. I think this will be the dominant worldview in the future. Right now, we’re still stuck in “what’s in it for me” mode.
That said, at ◊ EMERALD-LANE, anything we produce is geared toward helping people to wake up; to help people to know themselves and ascend the vibrational spectrums. How do we do this? We tap into the subtle realms for inspiration, and through an alchemical process, charge our sound recordings and live shows with that quintessence. Have you ever looked at sunlight pouring down on flowers early in the morning and watched them open up? That’s essentially what we want do. That’s how we can we can be of use to our fellow man. It’s like that Marvin Gaye quote: “Isn’t the artist’s true job to learn from nature? Instead of churning out pop hits, shouldn’t the truly talented among us be listening to the flutter of a butterfly’s wing?”
Describe how you and the entire collective go about composing and realizing your works.
Well, usually, I’ll receive the initial program in the form of a basic chord-progression and then I gather the group at a studio and run it down for them, on guitar usually. Everyone will gradually fall in and we’ll cycle through the different parts of the song until everyone is locked in. Once the synergy is flowing, I conduct the overall expression as the fundamental architecture of the song takes shape. That said, sometimes after I get home and listen back, I’ll realize that the entire song has to be redone, that the vibe wasn’t right somehow, which is frustrating [laughs]. At that point, the initial version becomes a prototype and we try again. It’s super hard work, but it’s rewarding and I’m very happy to do it.
Can you break down for us the making of the debut double EP C M C S, and the differences in the RED ‘grid’ version versus the BLUE ‘off-grid’ edition?
Oh, man…he entire process was so epic I could literally write a book: triumph, despair, self-discovery; I’ll spare your readers, though [laughs].
But, to answer your question, the difference between the RED and the BLUE EPs are the production aesthetic. With the (RED) C M C S, we’re designing the sound on the “grid”—which is how most, if not all music is produced today—definitely all electronic music. There’s a certain precision to the sound since every element is cut to a click track. In my opinion, I think that’s why most modern music lacks a timeless quality. It’s because the music is literally trapped in time on the grid, which is a synthetic, mathematically-perfect structure. The problem is that human beings aren’t perfect. You can even go a step further up and say that the widespread dependence on the grid, as far as pop music goes, is a reflection of the synthetic, psychologically disconnected quality of our times. That’s how I see it anyway. It’s not all negative, however. I grew up on hip-hop and electronic music and so, at times, I like expressing myself using the grid.
In comparison, the approach we took on the (BLUE) C M C S was to play together live without using any click tracks. When a group of souls is unified on one accord—without a click—the result is charmingly imperfect; much more organic and human. Recording “off-grid” allows for a transcendent quality to emerge in the sound. When I say transcendent, I mean a contemplative, otherworldly, ultra-beauty; a magical, celestial-quality. That happens most effectively off–grid, because a spirit that is timeless or eternal, by it’s very nature, can never be trapped in time…it is beyond time.
When we initially started recording, I had it in my head that I was going to hybridize all of the songs using live instrumentation but recording to click tracks (the grid). We did a bunch of stuff like that, but in the end, it wasn’t satisfying so I scrapped it. One day it hit me: Why am I compromising? Why can’t we just do a ‘grid’ version and an ‘off-grid’ version? It’s twice the effort, but that idea seemed much more interesting to me and I wanted to see if we could actualize it.
How do you feel that the differences through these different production aesthetics impacted the overall outcome of both the RED & BLUE versions?
I think both versions are innovative in their own ways. I was kind shocked at how different identical songs came out when filtered through the opposing aesthetics. How the same song on the RED EP sounds almost unrecognizable on the BLUE, and even had completely different lyrics! That said, if I had to sum it up, I’d say that the (RED) C M C S feels more aggressive. There’s definitely more of an electronic influence throughout, although we tracked together live on a lot of the songs. The (BLUE) C M C S, to me, is more unearthly and has more of a water quality. But, yeah, I think at the end of the day, there’s more of a timeless quality to the (BLUE) C M C S because it was tracked 100% off-grid like the old days. I have this theory: I think the reason why there are no modern equivalents of a Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, or Bob Marley is because most producers today conceive, create, and record solely on the grid. That, and the fact that not a lot of people are playing musical instruments as much. I’d say that those two reasons alone kill about 80% of that transcendent potential I was talking about.
Apart from your work with the ◊ EMERALD-LANE personnel, how has your collaborative work with Thundercat, SA-RA Creative Partners, Austin Peralta, and Cody ChesnuTT further enlightened your own approaches and visions?
Working with Thundercat was amazing. I met him before he was on Brainfeeder back when he was a young studio-musician recording bass parts for SA-RA Creative. A lot of people don’t realize this because he sings more now, but his bass playing is Jaco Pastorius-level, maybe even higher now, actually. You’ll hear him a lot more on the next couple of ◊ EM-LANE releases, actually. There’s a track out there that I produced called “mjrhe∆vy !!!!!!!!!!!!_!”, which features Thundercat and SA-RA.
I’m very proud of that one. We tracked it live in one-take, using the off-grid approach I described before. Definitely check that out…we get very psychedelic at the end. Obviously, Austin (R.I.P) is a sore spot. I met him down in Leimert Park back when he was 16 years old. He was playing this really intense jazz piano, and I thought, “If I sit this kid in front of synthesizer, it’ll be a wrap”! After that, we started doing sessions at my place in West Adams. Austin plays synthesizer all over the (BLUE) C M C S. That’s his beautiful, wizard-polysynth on the beginning on the song “C M C S”. Cody ChesnuTT has been a mentor of mine for many years. He had the most profound influence on me as a young man back when I lived in Brooklyn. He was an idol of mine—still is, in a lot of ways. I’ve always said that Cody was probably the closest thing we had to Hendrix or Marvin Gaye. He had that kind of luminosity during The Headphone Masterpiece era—and those who have ever seen him live know just what I’m talking about! Over the years, we’ve had these epic conversations about art and approaching things from a conscious angle. I really credit Cody with teaching me how to think, and how to have the courage to be an original.
Greatest things you have read, seen, or heard lately?
Great question. Not a lot of people ask this question these days!
Right now I’m listening the Walt Disney biography, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler. It’s essentially the story of a man pioneering new creative and business paths and bringing this monumental, unprecedented vision to the planet through hard work and innovation. The more I listen, the more I see the comparisons between Disney and Steve Jobs. Highly recommended.
I just got back from Morocco and Spain. When I was in Barcelona I visited a lot of the buildings that Antoni Gaudi’s designed, which was vivid and completely genius. I saw masterpieces like the Sagrada Familia, and…let’s just say, there’s a very obvious reason why people in Barcelona referred to him as God’s Architect. There’s a really weird, beautiful documentary by a Japanese filmmaker from 1984 about Gaudi’s work. It’s basically just a floating, first-person perspective of all Gaudi’s architecture set to minimal ambient music.
Lastly, I came across this group of artists here in L.A. that put together a really cool little zine called Silient. It focuses on the metaphysical and philosophical aspects behind the artistic process. They interview artists from different media and ask them all types of really meaningful questions—kind of like Impose! Anaka the artist that curates it- is on Instagram. Definitely check her out.
Advice, wisdom, hopes, prayers, & dreams that you care to impart?
This is easy: Besides music, the other thing we produce at ◊ EMERALD-LANE is a podcast. It’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s part talk-radio, part surrealistic musical odyssey. Philosophy, futurism, metaphysics, politics… clips of Elon Musk, clips of crypto-currency anarchists, spiritual teachers, authors, pretty much everything pops up. I think it’s rather unique, actually; and like the music, the purpose of the podcast is to “help accelerate the realization of Biosphere Consciousness with the express purpose of catalyzing positive social change.”
Today Olivia Kessler gives the world the gift of a solo album two years in the making with the Juaniata Girl full-length from her Olivia II project available today from progressive DIY-purveyors Hoko Sounds. Kessler wrote, performed, recorded, edited, & mixed the album at the Nipple House & at another one of her apartments from November 2014 through May 2016 that provides an experiential sound collage of liberating scuzz that documents the artist’s own personal transition. Riding on the heels of last winter’s Dry Spell EP; the latest and much awaited Olivia II offering sends out sound waves of distortion walls that crumble & decay before your very ears & wildest imagination.
Juaniata Girl opens with “Avoidant Tendency” that tackles the dance of staying away from the obligatory stop and chats through dark growling grumbles of grungy distortion. The following “Red Sky” booms like shredding slivers of lightning clashing like cymbals splitting the sky in two pieces like constellations becoming rearranged according to new discovered destinies. “Sunday” dispels all of that church chat for a whole other resurrection of doom that breaks forth from the holy ground for a whole other sort of religious-like experience & all out awakening. “Underwater” is the undertow where Olivia drags you into the uncertain deep end of the most otherworldly & unearthed sounds that stretch beyond the wit’s own dark & twisted depths of imagination. Olivia keeps the conversation pushing ever toward the angles of gender fluidity heard on the minimalist electric-pop ecstasy that is “CIS Girl” deserving of being an anthem for all trans & non-trans lovers of beautiful noise pop. But Olivia II proves that she is far from done, mesmerizing further with clever distorted electro-decay devices that make brooding lo-fi beats of mass eruption on “Amber Rainbow” that explodes slowly in skronk hues of aberrated guitar tones. But Olivia & her accompanying gals & boys are only beginning their battle against the haters & pigs with the feedback funneled war cry, “Keep Fightin’ Back by Existing”, to the patient tedium depicted on the lo-fi murmurs of “When Am I Gonna Love Someone”, to the endearing “Hormones Raging” that relates an instrumental of what the transitional mode and moods are really like firsthand. Heartbreak too rears it’s head on the super-wrenching bare drum machine & keyboard candid cry of, “Don’t Piss On My Leg and Tell Me its Raining”, right before Kessler takes you into her own dark droning temple of doom of heart-ripping horrors on, “Wish I Didn’t Hate Myself (When I Loved You)”, to the skin-clawing pharma-frustrations of battling the bastards of health care bureaucracy and worse on, “Access Denied (no refill)”, before you find yourself swimming in the viscous message of amour for all who feel on “Love is Real”. Olivia Kessler provided the following thoughts on how her own transition and more impacted the song cycle of Juaniata Girl:
My transition and the meds I was on were definitely integral to making the music, it’s kind of like a diary from my bedroom where I deal with changes with friends, family, within myself and how I interact with others.
Olivia shared with us the following shout-outs for all the varioius assists on her new album:
With help from: Dave Varney who played drums on “Red Sky” and during the outro of “Underwater” (which were recorded at The Shop), and Carly Smittle who sang the snippet at the end of “Sunday”. Mastered by Alexis Icon. I couldn’t have done it without help from: DJ Babyteeth, Carly Smittle, Dave Varney, Clay Colonna, Autumn Zwibel, Daniel Now, Serpentine, Alexis Icon, Jordan Chu, Reid Magette, Annie Chen, Johnny Arlett, Julie Mallis, D.S. Kinsell, Chris Kibler, John Villegas, John Bucci, Kelsey Bucci, Caitlin Bender, Radium Girls, Lily Molloy, Laura Hammel, Reagan Hunt, DV Caputo, Ephen Ager, Harriet Smith, Tim Telavision Vernon, and anyone else who helped me along the way whose names I’m sure i’ll remember later.
Our friends from Plush just introduced us to one of the best kept secrets of late coming out of the San Francisco Bay, and it is our honor and privilege to present their Gravedigger EP freshly cooked out of the influential Different Fur Studios, recorded by Grace Coleman, mixed/mastered by Sean Paulson. The action is initiated with the title track that brings about the melodic layers of dissonance, discontent & all the anarchic angst that Pardoner specializes in. This is the release to bust out whenever your friend of a friend begins to badmouth the SF scene, and whatnot.
As the skronk ballads carry onward, the band brings about sounds of the cityscapes ripped straight from the grittiness of the city’s industrious Division Street heard on songs like “Division of Labor”, to brassy interludes like “Dry County”. Pardoner then wets their whistles with the raging “Powerfade”, before closing with the inverted scuzz storm of “Mercury in Retrograde” that makes everything feel just fine, even if everything has gone haywire all around us. Immediately after experiencing the ditch burrowing tunnels & tribulations of Gravedigger, don’t miss the following interview with Pardoner’s Max Freeland & Trey Flanigan.
How did you meet/ inciting incident that initiated pardoner.
Max Freeland: River and I met at school though some weird ass circumstances where a girl that we both knew but weren’t really friends with introduced us in some dorm room and said, “I think you guys are gonna be best friends.” And would you look at that, we became best friends. We met Trey through our friend Dylan and we all started bonding over touch and go bands from the 90’s like polvo and slint and stuff. Derek was our friend who played guitar in a sick grindcore band and we assumed he could play bass and he hella can.
Trey Flanigan: Me and Max drank 4lokos one night and started making industrial music on his computer but decided we wanted to make guitar music instead so we smoked a fat ass kush blunt and wrote some riffs and showed them to River.
From happy trails to gravedigger how do you feel you have grown as a group?
Max: I feel like when we first started we were just like unnecessarily loud at all times for no good reason whatsoever. It was a total plankton thing, just weird logic. Trey and I didn’t have any experience being in bands at all, at least not on guitars, so figuring out “levels” and all that other bullshit was a grueling process for us. I think we’ve gotten a little smarter about dynamics and when we write we pay a little more attention to melody and stuff. The first couple times we recorded we would just track everything as fast as possible and then me and Trey would get hammered and write our lyrics right before doing them.
Trey: The first show we played I didn’t know how to tune my guitar but now I do so that’s a huge step forward. Its cool that I’ve learned how to be in a band by playing music with my best friends.
Despite all the negative press SF and the bay get, what inspires you about coastal surroundings?
Max: I don’t really get the whole “scene being dead” thing. There’s this bullshit article that gets reposted over and over where some schmuck is talking about how all these garage rock icons moved to LA and stuff. I think it’s more emblematic of the end of a certain era in Bay Area music. Like that garage rock fad was so strong around here, and its still going on, but the interest in it overall has seemingly really died down. There’s so much talent around us still. The scene has definitely been affected by the tech boom just like everything else, like the extermination of pretty much every diy space in SF. I think it’s made everyone collectively angrier which has made for some bomb fuckin music.
Trey: There are so many sick shows happening in the bay constantly and cool bands doing stuff it’s honestly hard to keep up with all of it.
Local events, places, artists, you all dig?
Max: There are some of the more heard about bands coming out of the area right now like Jay Som, Toner, Unity, Crush, The World and the Father/Daughter roster like Plush and Never Young. But there are so many sick bands just springing up and starting to get attention like Modern Needs, Dr. Officer, and Blossom.
Trey: Fish Breath, Toyota, Lil Dowager, Lofter and Marbled Eye are all really good local bands. Our boy Samuelito’s new tape label Smoking Room is putting out some dank stuff so watch out.
What can you tell us about upcoming Pardoner works?
Max: We’re recording again pretty soon and were excited about it. Our routine has been recording something, releasing it, and then deciding the last thing we recorded is dog shit so we write a bunch of new songs to get the taste of the last ones out of our mouths. But that didn’t happen this time! We were actually pretty excited about it and still kind of like it, which is fucked up. This is the longest stretch we’ve gone without recording, so we’re taking our sweet ass time fine tuning the new stuff we’ve been working on. But its almost time to track this b.s. On this crazy rollercoaster called “life”, you take some unexpected twists and turns but right now, we’ve got our hands up and were just enjoying the ride.
Other insights and advice pertaining to creative process and more you all can share with us?
Max: Honestly you have to smoke weed to write good guitar music and if you don’t you’re a fuckin alien and I don’t think that I will be able to fully trust you as a non threatening presence in my twisted little life.
Pardoner’s Gravedigger EP is avaialble now.
Ian William Craig
Ian William Craig releases the album Centres today via FatCat Records’ own 130701 label and we give you a listen to the atmospheric, ambient & electronic interiors that abound on the full-length. The Vancouver artists dazzles on the opening number “Contain (Astoria Version)”, moving to the choral “A Single Hope”, the drifting & shifting beauty of “Drifting To Void On All Sides”, the sublime subtlety of “The Nearness”, to the mood & time lapsing majesty of “Set To Lapse”. Lo-fi low flying waves work wonders on “Power Colour Spirit Animal”, the immediate urgency of “Arrive, Arrive”, the abstract ether & ebb of “A Circle Without Having To Curve”, to the sea view window of “An Ocean Only You Could See”. Intimate introspection is everywhere in this wholly immersive experience, as heard on the hymn of future’s past on “Purpose (Is No Country)”, the hopefuly sustains & atmospheres of “It Need Not Be Hopeless”, taking the thoughts inward on “Innermost”, before leaving you with the sparse acoustic tape recorded resonance of “Contain (Cedar Version)” that just might leave you in tears. An album experience not to be missed, that Ian presents with the following exclusive & insightful preface:
Centres is a long time. Not the longest, obviously, but I haven’t personally ever sustained creating anything over that much time before. It’s a table onto which I secretly threw all of my ideas since beginning to make music purposefully. In that way, the album has been very generous with me: it’s a refuge in which I took risks with things I would have otherwise been self conscious about. We have ruined and recombined and layered a lot of things together. It was one album, and then several, and then just songs, textures, nothing at all, too pretty, destroyed, concealed, and then all of a sudden an album again. Just in time. It’s the sound of forgetting over the course of some years, more of an asteroid belt than a planet, gathering things and losing others as it’s lumbered along: concert halls, classrooms, train yards, the hiss of tape, failing technology, synths, live rooms made of cedar.
We slowly fail, and that’s actually a salient, crucial and beautiful quality of our existence to be at least acknowledged if not outright celebrated. Is not always graceful, but this record is me trying to have a relationship with that. A marathon of transforming. A nourishing mess. And here we are.
Ian’s release is part of 130701 records’ fifteenth year anniversary, alongside V/A: Eleven into Fifteen: a 130701 Compilation that features previously unheard works from & others. Watch the following trailer & testament below:
Despite what you might have heard from the naysayers & doom merchants; the Bay Area’s own music scene remains as thriving & vibrant as ever. While San Francisco still retains some vanguards & the new guard on the rise, Oakland along with the rest of the East Bay remains one of the most prolific areas of talent in all realms of media. Introducing Oakland’s own Emily Afton, fka Emily Moldy, born Emily Moldenhauer who is readying an upcoming album slated for later this year, presenting the world premiere of the single “Archetype” ft. producer Lila Rose. Having also been working with local prouder David Earl alongside Lila, Emily draws upon her own Georgian heritage by painting Southern gothic portraits that are transformed into moving musical pieces that dance off the silver screen.
“Archetype” sees Emily Afton entertaining late evening episodes of intimate thoughts that ponder & obsess over the plagues of the past. Character traits both desired & undesired are spelled out on the line, as the pains of a previous heartache beg for moments of solace and reflection that is further resonated within Lila Rose’s arrangement. The aftermath of a brutal breakup helps provide clarity for the archetypes that are unwanted while hearts run wild like awakened wolves roaming about a sleepy & foggy night. The heartbreak & hurt here provides emboldened exhilaration where the newfound freedom is conveyed in the personification of wolf packs with a wild will. Emily talked to us further about her new single with the following words:
I wrote the song Archetype 2 years ago when I was going through a breakup and was struggling with realizing my own destructive patterns. I was reading a very mystical book called Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés and the chorus came to me then. The song is about me wanting to embrace my wild woman archetype, while also not wanting to cause destruction with that wildness.. About wanting to break out of my dishonest patterns and free myself (and the other person) from them. The song is dark and hopeful at the same time I think.
Cincinatti’s Randall Rigdon Jr. returns with news that new Dark Colour album Animal will available July 15 through Montreal’s Kitabu Music, presenting the premiere of “Hold You” that expresses the thrill of the most sublime embraces in an array of electronic hooks and synth sequences. Continuing to collaborate with local legends The Pomegranates, Randall’s former solo project continues to expand to greater forms of definition and a tonal vibrancy that conjures the most electrifying hues & light-filled luster. Playing Pianos in NYC tonight with Radcliffe Hall, RAINE (both Impose alums) & No Swoon with dates posted through August 12; Randall continues to bring some of the most emotive DIY pop to the masses with the help of Coleman Williams on guitars, and a rhythm section that consists of percussionist Joseph Sparough & bassist Jeff Dawson.
Those already familiar with the Dark Colour blueprints as exhibited on the previous album Prisoner from 2013 will discover the new album Animal and the featured single “Hold You” as the next logical progression in the DC creative narrative. Randall’s earliest recordings always pointed toward a kind of technical sophistication and emotive realism in the way every note, lyric, tone, and note is pronounced and the same continues true today with a little help from friends in the Pomegranates crew and his own dedication to creating his own brand of dance floor discourse through original immaculate designs. “Hold You” converts the breathless balladry into a snazzy display of synth-brushed paintings that are all guided by the Dark Colour directional compass of pure unfiltered emotion. Join us following the debut as we catch up with our old friend & hero Randall Rigdon Jr.
Describe how collaborating with Nick Littlemore, and The Pomegranates has further developed the Dark Colour sound.
Nick actually gave me some very specific ideas of what he felt would make this EP stronger, which drove us to do a lot of specific things in the studio. Any advice I get from him I’m endlessly grateful for and the chance to work with him has been amazing. Me and him wrote a huge amount of material together a little while ago and its been kind of difficult sitting on it as we both do our current projects—but I’m sure it will see the light of day…one day.
Jacob and Isaac of The Pomegranates also had a very significant influence on Animal as well. They really worked the material in the studio from every angle, contributing sounds and ideas everywhere they could. Isaac even has a really smooth synth solo at the end of Sunset. Without question, this is the most collaborative Dark Colour work ever made, as you’re not just getting my singular vision but a collective of visions and minds working together for the greater whole.
I actually feel this record has a unique blend of a Pomegranates and a Dark Colour sound. There was a definite balance sought, as they definitely championed in a much more live sound while at the same time being mindful of the more artificial, electronic sound better known of us.
How did the Kitabu Music out of Montreal partnership come about?
It’s funny to think back as its been developing for so long, but it actually started on SoundCloud funnily enough. Arthur, (the head behind Kitabu), sort of just hit me up, said he was trying to find bands he connected with for Kitabu Music.
We Skype’d a couple times as band, found our philosophies really clicked, and its been an incredibly supportive collaboration ever since. We’ve met him a few times in Montreal, played a couple shows up there, and its ended up being that Animal is going to be the first project to represent Kitabu as label. Arthur’s such an awesome dude so I hope it goes as fantastically it can!
What for you have you noticed about the evolution of both your own sound, narratives at play, and more in recent years?
I think maturity has certainly played a role. Most of the concepts in Animal are about finding acceptance and the ability to foster in personal growth.. In the overall arch I see this idealistic, excited energy that matures into a more revelatory, confident place.
Looking back at Prisoner, its narrative was actually kind of a downer. Its themes were about the repeating cycles of a failed relationship: exciting at first, devastating in the end, rinse and repeat. It sort of had a disenchanted view on relationships.
I approached this album trying to focus less on the drama and the heartbreak of my previous work and tried made it more of a story about personal growth – turn attention away from calling out outside forces and try to just focus inward. What can I do to influence my surroundings? How does my perspective influence my shortcomings? What is there to focus on before I’m actually ready to be in a position to allow someone in again?
These were the things I was dealing with in my own life, and I think in writing material about personal growth, it allowed us to focus on our personal growth as band, and I think thats reflected in the very open and large sound we landed on for this album.
What is good in Cincinnati right now that the rest of the world should pay attention to right now?
My friend Ben of Young Colt has been trying to get turbo to catch on as the new turnt, and it seems to be getting good traction.
Really though I think Cincinnati has a really great and thriving indie scene because the venues here allow for it. We have a few amazingly supportive venues that don’t ever charge a cover, everyone always in a good mood, always pay the bands great – (shoutout to MOTR!)
I think some cities really hurt their own potential of having a great DIY scene because they don’t allow good options for musicians to build a stage. Some major markets seem to allot out all their best spots just the national acts, and then everything on the outskirts will only book a band if they get the band to promise to “cover the electricity bill” at the end of the night, which is just a bunch of shit considering the bar will be open regardless if a band plays there or not.
So yeah we have that. In terms of just music, Young Colt, Multimagic, Fluffer, Orchards, The Yugos, Season Ten and Us, Today are bands that absolutely showcase the turbo indie scene here that the rest of the world should absolutely be paying attention to.
What things (authors, artists, heroes, etc) are inspiring you right now, Randall?
I’ve been listening to lot of late 90s trip hop, lately. Not sure what really got me into it besides everyone loves a good beat and some plain-old-fashioned nostalgia. DJ Shadow, Dust Brothers, Cibo Matto. Also, Grimes has absolutely been killing it. Me and Coleman have been really into the game Life Is Strange, which I feel really captured everything great about contemporary storytelling and touched on so many important issues as well. Biggest visual influence for me is Nam June Paik and I’m also really fascinated by created media that begs the question: how the hell did this get made, or better yet: sell? Like all the work of Osamu Sato.
Parting words of wisdom, reflection, etc?
Something I find a lot of truth in: protesting means you’re controlled by your situation. Acceptance means you can grow and move past it.
Catch Dark Colour on the following dates posted on the flier below:
Dark Colour’s new album Animal will available July 15 from Kitabu Music.
Picture just released the Mystery remix of the beloved single “True” via Sincerely Yours. From the Cascine EP that practically reshaped the international world of EDM, IDM, and everything concerning the possibilities found in the world of electronic music; Mystery’s remix summons up the happy hardcore spirit where gabber house rhythms hit hard juke percussion drum sets with all the might they can muster. Picture’s track and EP of the same name remains a hallmark of the dreams that can electro-imbued audio can embody while Mystery brings those truths to new celestial places and subversive discotheque palaces of clandestine distinction. David from Picture shared the following thoughts on the sorts of mysteries, myths, truths, & more that the Mystery remix brought out of his treasured single, “True”:
Since I first heard the Mystery remix of ”True” I’ve come to think of it as its younger long lost brother that was finally found after running away from home. It’s so hopeful, stubborn, happy, powerful and euphoric it makes you want to explode with feelings and cry your heart out.
We introduced you to Fielded’s lauded Boy Angel EP, Lindsay Powell’s own label & fashion line Universally Handsome among other extensive coverage, and today we present a look at the Alex Mallis & Meerkat Media video for “I Choose You”. Filmed on location at NYC’s Enrique’s Unisex Salon, Powell emphasizes the power of choice in the connections made that follow what the heart earnestly desires. The quests for love & understanding are bolstered here like profound connections made in the chains of serial monogamy that takes part in an active, inclusive, and honest series of nu-gospel expressions. For those late arriving to the Fielded party, there is not greater time than now to open your ears, hearts, & intellect for a wholehearted experience that heightens all senses of feeling.
Lindsay shared some words with us in a recent conversation reflection on the making of the Alex Mallis & Meerkat Media video and filming at Enrique’s Unisex Salon:
“I Choose You” is probably the most honest song I’ve written in a long time. It opened me up and allowed me to write further candid and pensive songs that require of me a great deal of vulnerability. I needed a video that matched that feeling and also wanted to honor the song for what it gave to me. Alex and everyone involved at Meerkat Media were really sensitive to my ideas and together we formulated a powerful, cohesive vision. I knew I wanted to work with Enrique’s Unisex Salon because it was where I had been going to get my undercut. They are always so friendly and the place is marvelous to look at. Whenever you go back you always see something you missed before. Enrique’s also has a very compelling story. I love my community and I love being invited to be a part of others’ communities, as well. I wanted that to be palpable in the video. We were attempting to probe and re-present the preconceptions we all have about the quest for love and understanding in New York City. The people in the video have all made a choice: to work where they work, get their haircuts in a certain place, to kiss a certain person, to love in ways they may had never envisioned, to be together in a time when it’s so easy to be apathetic to the deep connection we can build with other people. The video offers choice as a creative act, radical all the more when the choice is that of real, human love and understanding.
Fielded’s Boy Angel is available from Lindsay Powell’s own Universally Handsome clothing line/music label from Brooklyn, NY.
Projecting all kinds of summer hues (courtesy of White Light Prism and Hernan Valencia’s editing work), meet the Bay Area’s EMYLE who delivers an anthem for summer showers with the single “Let It Rain”, accompanied by visuals from Daniel Kelly & Ashleigh Castro. In a video experience that works like an art installation, EMYLE’s image is covered with film images of rippling & glittering swimming pools, waterfalls, sky-scapes, and palm beach-baked escapes. EMYLE welcomes a “hello to tomorrow” with the command of the tite’s declaration of “Let It Rain” where we see our heroine enjoying whichever holiday backdrop setting of her own choosing. The pop art aesthetic is juxtaposed with b/w images of a dramatic lonesome piano in the middle of an arid & abandoned patch of desert. Read our interview with EMYLE featured after the jump.
Tell us about what sorts of storms you have weathered and more during he making of “Let It Rain”.
“Let It Rain” was a song I wrote during a time where I was processing death. My grandmother who helped raise me had just lost the battle with a long struggle with cancer. At the same time I was also in the process of ending a relationship with someone who was emotionally abusive. There was a lot of heavy emotions going around my head at the time. I feel as if after writing this song and listening to it on playback I was able to actually cry after not being able to for weeks. It helped me process the events that had just taken place. It also helped me move forward on a new positive foot, and focus on my goals and what I wanted to truly accomplish in my life. I had no thoughts of ever releasing this song and had it locked away for quite some time. Eventually a producer in town heard it and loved it. And it started the whole EMYLE project. The rest is history.
How have you Bay Area by LA locales influenced you with your own songwriting & creative visions?
Living in the bay area was inspirational via it’s aesthetic and beauty; LA, due to it’s hard and driving nature.
Describe translating the title track “Let It Rain” to the Hernan Valencia visuals, and how the various effects and image projections impacted the song for you.
White Light Prism is a fantastic projection company out of Berkeley, CA. They did a great job at projecting the images onto me that represented what the song is about. And they really gave the camera a clear picture of what I want the viewers/listeners to be feeling. Upon editing the videos footage Hernan did a great job of expressing the feeling of the song. I let him know it was important to be that the footage be both fun and have a certain creative depth at the same time. He had a great idea of making the desert footage black and white. This really added the “desolate, lonely, and lost”, feeling that I had while writing the song initially.
Other Bay Area & LA artist (or elsewhere) that everyone should be hip to (but probably aren’t)?
I heard a rumor that a good friend of mine Emily Anne is about to drop some new music soon. She has a really amazing old-timey voice. Very jazzy & bluesy. She has actually been quite successful in the reality TV. She was on “America’s Got Talent” & “American Idol”. She’s also a transplant here in LA coming from SF. I would definitely check her out if I were you!
Tell us too how your own songwriting has evolved, and what sorts of rituals do you employ to tap into these talents?
I have so much more confidence now with my writing. I no longer question my instincts. I trust the songs natural direction and trust my gut feelings on where it should go. When i’m in writing mode, and I feel a song coming on I usually sit at a desk turn out the lights. I usually put on a few candles to set the mood. Almost like my romance, or date night with my computer and song. Maybe I’m part robot or something. I’ve considered that possibility before.
Next big moves for EMYLE?
Working on a live show! And more songs. I have met some incredible artists & producers here in LA. I have some things brewing. Probably features in some songs, as well working with some DJ’s and other song writers.
Amsterdam’s Pip Blom has been making some lo-fi solo jams that have been capturing what seems like the attention of the world, and in case you missed it we have the single “Hours” that counts the constraints that bind through the construct of time. The notions of the ticking clock are translated to infectious chords & drum loops that make for hypnotic trip where everything you have thought about the mystery of minutes, seconds, and more is displayed in dadaist like audio that almost accidently becomes one of the danciest singles you have heard all week. Pip described for us the anachronisms & measures of metrics that informed “Hours”:
“Hours” is not really about the fact that I’m getting older. That doesn’t bother me yet, but it’s more about how every hour I get older it means people I love get older too. My parents, but especially my grandparents. “Hours” is essentially a song about loss. When time ticks away people grow old. And you know the moment you will lose them comes closer. You can’t do anything about it, but you know it will come.
Please welcome the triumphant of Jonathan Clancy himself, aka His Clancyness sharing a listen to “Pale Fear” off the double a-side 7″ single that also includes “Coming up Empty” available through his imprint Maple Death Records. The first offering from His Clancyness since the lauded FatCat release Vicious, Jonathan recorded the new batch of material at Portishead’s own Bristol, UK Invada Studios with Stu Matthews (also of Anika, & Beak fame). “Pale Fear” encompasses the various insecurities & vulnerabilities that are often hidden from public view, but here they rise to the surface in stark ways like a double deluxe suite furnished for confessional congregations. Thoughts and feelings of failure and those uncertain urges that keep a person up all night are transformed into some of the most beautiful numbers heard from His Clancyness & company that is sure to stoke the rumor fires of what future HC full-lengths might soon be announced.
Of Clocks And Clouds
Brooklyn’s Of Clocks and Clouds perform some open heart surgery in the world premiere of the instrumental fire, “Open Heart Failure” featured off their upcoming album Better Off available July 15. Obsessed with the anachronistic titans of the modern era, the chord howling synergy between Joe Salgo & Ross Procaccio churns out a menace like a genie menace summoned from the vacuum tube amplifiers.
Owing much to the prog giants of yore, Of Clocks And Clouds turn the dials of the weather controls for all of the stormy contributions from 80s & 90s hard rock innovators. “Open Heart Surgery” sums up all of the contributing stimuli that would make anyone faint of heart, as Joe & Ross stir a blend of keys & heavy chords that ride a rollercoaster wave of ups, downs, corkscrews, and outright drops into bottomless abyss. “Surgery” is reminiscent of a carnival dark ride where the strangeness & uncertainty grows as the tempo & blood pressure rises as the course becomes more expedient, & urgent with pratfalls lurking at every neck breaking corner. Of Clocks and Clouds joined us for a discussion featured after the following debut listen:
Describe the synergy that drives the creative chemistry that allows you all to create these kind of ripping epics.
Ripping epics! Fuck yes! Thank you!
For this new album Better Off the songs came about in a few different ways. With “Open Heart Failure” it started with an electronic track that we jammed over. After a while the parts and structure started to take shape and we began to record.
When we started tracking we went with the mentality that more was more—throwing as many things as we could and wanted to onto the track. We both have very different ideas and styles but our end goal is the same. As we started mixing we began to strip away to allow certain parts to stand out in certain places.
What was the making of Better Off like, and what sorts of situations and matters helped to inform this record?
After finishing up our debut YOU in 2014 we wanted to step away from the electronic sounds a bit and be more of just dudes that play instruments. So a few of the demos for Better Off came from these organic jams.
As we started working on the album both of us went through pretty heavy breakups and a lot of the emotions we went through informed the writing and style. The music was a way for us to deal with all the bullshit we were going through.
We went in not knowing how many songs would be on the album. We thought about maybe just releasing singles, but we’re still in love with the album format. More songs were written during the recording process and without even trying, a theme and arc began to take shape.
This record took a lot of blood, sweat and tears and in the end we’re really happy with it.
What’s good in Brooklyn right now?
We’re both fairly protective of Brooklyn. Both of us were born and raised in Brooklyn, so our vision of what this borough is, is very different than that of the average Brooklyn transplant. That being said, the diversity of Brooklyn is really what makes it great.
Brooklyn has changed so quickly, that no one really knows what it will be like in 5-10 years. All the “cool” Williamsburg venues are closed. The rents are out of control for the average DIY venues. It’s sad because it seems like Brooklyn sold out as it became a global brand. But there’s always new cool stuff popping up.
Luckily for us we still know where the best pizza is. And no, it isn’t DiFarras…
Tell us about the heavy hearts and nature that inspired “Open Heart Failure”.
This song has this kind of snaky psychedelic tribal cathartic thing going on. For a long time we didn’t have a name for it and at our shows we would ask the audience to come up with a name for it and write it down on a bar napkin. This was kind of a running inside joke for us but people would do it. Some good ones we got was “Ghost Skeleton” “My safe word is Poodle” and “Dance Bitch Dance.”
When it came time to get the album mastered we tinkered with the title ourselves…sorry people. We said the track felt like having something amputated. Like when you break up with someone and it feels like a part of your body is missing. Ultimately we combined the phrases heart failure and open heart surgery.
Summer, fall & winter dreams for Of Clocks and Clouds?
We’re releasing Better Off July 15 and our album release show is at The Studio at Webster hall on July 16. So we’ve been gearing up for that. Our dreams moving forward eh?
We want music to be our day jobs. We want to travel the world and play our music for as many people as possible. And really have an impact on people. Period.
The pain and stress of the world and the toil of labor is forever met with an anecdote in the beloved arms of Philly’s Work Drugs, who share their gorgeous & glamorous new single “Method Acting”, the twinkling title cut taken from the upcoming album of the same name available August 5 from Bobby Cahn Records. “Do what you feel, I gotta feel like dancing” and invitations to “come on make magic” create something of a new dance craze that delivers only the most sophisticated of dance floor steps and kinetic production. Work Drugs continue to create the silkiest of textures and tones that continue to smoothen their craft to the softest and most plush essences of pop audio ever made. Work Drugs’ own Ben Louisiana provided us with the exclusive scoop on the new single & record with the following words:
“Method Acting” is a single from the latest Work Drugs record called Method Acting—the song is about enjoying the moments in life and not getting bogged down in the day to day grind / which we all fall victim to, from time to time. We all play the part of someone / and occasionally we let it all go, albeit sometimes only on a random Saturday night dance floor.
Rachel Mason’s Tigers in the Dark appears to have found a home at Cleopatra Records, and we present to you the live video from Mason’s LTD Los Angeles concert event, “Enter Das Ram” that covers the various aspects of her multimedia performance/presentation. Featuring elements from Dennis Hoekstra’s installation, celebrating Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, a Rodney Bingenheimer DJ Set, the wild debut of the “Tigers in the Dark” video by Matthew Spiegelman, choreography and dance moves from Haylee Nichele, music supplied by Jeff Hassay, violin by Nora Quinn, Paris Hunter Paul as “Alaska, and costumes created by Linda Tabbouch. New glam levels of learning & understanding are depicted here through Rachel’s blend of Schubert interpreting Goethe’s tragic poem “Erlkönig” that enter the stream, cycle, consciousness, & psyche of Das Ram.
Turnip King’s upcoming album Laika will be available in August from Fire Talk, and we encourage you to enjoy the candid qualities found on the Christian Billard and Cal Fish video that stars Lucia Arias and Becca Zeiger. TK creates music that transforms your favorite dream pop tropes into a blizzard of VHS feels and an introverted avenue of dissonance & devastating towers of blissful noise.
Inspired by Rebecca Perry’s poetry, Grieving present a listen to the tough as nails “Little Armoured” off the forthcoming Demonstrations available July 29. The post-hardcore angst rages with a vengeance that puts up its defensive dukes to take on any opponent in the name of self-preservation, and saving face.
Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes are readying a super-scuzzy self-titled debut for August 19 from Super Secret Records, and we got your first taste of that sweet-skronk with “(I)”. The departments, dimensions & destitute straits of dissonance can be heard where melodic power chords egg on the unrelenting riffs that rip with a degree of unchecked righteousness.
Crocodiles delivered the lovely number “Telepathic Lover” taken from their forthcoming album Dreamless available October 21 from Zoo Music, Brandon Welchez continues to evolve the Crocs sound toward higher definitions of fidelity & form. The scuzzier side is traded for beautiful portraits of inner thoughts displayed with an outward consciousness that acknowledges another’s own ESP qualities & charms.
Johanne Swanson, aka Yohuna emerged on many folks’ radars with 2011’s Revery EP and now has signaled the forthcoming event of her new album Patientness available September 9 from Orchid Tapes, sharing the illustrious & moving single “Apart”. From her Wisconsin upbringing to jet-setting about the world before settling into the tumultuous folds of NYC; Swanson provides music that finds those places of peace & pause from within the very eye of life’s hurricanes that at times feel like as if they will fully consume our beings. Yohuna provides that safe harbor of hopefulness in the face of the sometimes hopeless & helpless undertow pull of the infinite stretches of sea.
Yassassin presented us with an anarchic look at modern day discourse on the global body-politik with their Isabel Albuquerque video for “Social Politics”, that dispels the apathy for raw & rabid escapism, mixed by Margo Broom (of Fat White Family, Telegram, etc fame) available from Enate Records (PIAS). The socio-economic conversation gets turned over like a poker-table after a player realizes the duplicity at work in an opponents shady hand.
Gil De Ray play Manchester at a Cherry Cola Club night at Night & Day July 23 and we have a listen to the derelict patterns of “Lost With You” & “Secrets In Your Eyes” ft. Jessica Winter on vocals. The first brings you to those arid landscapes without a frame of reference or compass, while “Secrets” takes on some that old school style of progressive house that once packed Factory Records’ own Hacienda ages ago.
Foghound unleashed some Sabbathian heavy sounds for the masses with the sidewinding doom destroyer “Serpentine”, featured off their brand new album The World Unseen available now from Ripple Music.
Newmoon from Belgium just made our heads feel like stone with their dream machine single “Head of Stone”, ripped from their forthcoming album debut SPACE available October 14 from PIAS. Seen touring about with fellow luminaries like Basement, NOTHING and Touché Amoré; Newmoon work celestial streams of electric strings into a lunarian allure of ethereal intrigue & deeply delved audio dimensions.
London’s Equals saw the title track from their Old Habits EP re-twisted & flipped to a super slow speed by some of Fresh Selects‘ own freshmen class roll call of The Last Artful, Dodgr, alongside her producer Neill Von Tally. The Portland twosome tackles the British duo’s original by finding places & spaces to open up the entire track for additional emotive & expressive effects. Dodgr provides a smoky & sinewy delivery of verses towards the end of their nearly five minute re-work that sounds right at home with Mykki Blanco’s Dogfood Music Group crew. Keep all ears on forthcoming PDX projects & joints from The Last Artful, Dodgr & Neill Von Tally.
If you need some ultra-pop to bathe your entire mind/body & soul in the luster of pure neon; then don’t miss the ear work single from Finland by Sweden by America pop star Kiara Nelson & the electric “Cool My Rush”, produced by Milos Rosas.
Enter the cosmic ether that is the self-titled EP from Aphty Khea available today through The Sound of Everything UK. Khea begins the experience with “Peacebloom” that imagines a tranquil state and place of being that flourishes like a peach tree, while “Killy’s Hill” kicks it with a throwback beat thrown on a lo-fi track that trips back to the days of cassette mixtapes played throw boom-boxes with blown-out speakers.
Liverpool’s SeaWitches shared the weather cycle of singles with us produced by Bill Ryder Jones. The double a-sides of Tempest / Skylight will be available July 15, and we have an early litness at the stormy pair that are sure to shake the leaves of the branches from the tree of your heart. “Tempest” brings about the sound of soured skies that answer to frontwoman Jo Herring who controls the surrounding arrangment reinforced by Jamie Jenkin on guitar, Jams Ward on percussion, with Saskia Clapton on bass and keys.
SeaWitches opens with fearless words sampled from Malcolm X as Jo & company pursues motorik beacons of light that press forward toward the portals that point toward the stratosphere above.
Alev Lenz brought a live & bubbly version of “Airport” featured in the following live performance. Featured off of her album Two-Headed Girl; flights of fancy and frenetic progressions are depicted like a travel itinerary made during the hot summer heat in a track that rides off the rails of an acoustic-electro blend of unbound bliss.
Ahmad Larnes and Sebastian Kreis are Schwarz Dont Crack who deliver the Etnik remix of “All My Love” that express the amour through big bold tech-textures. The Berlin duo’s single of sentiment gets tricked out into brooding dance floor mosher that feels like everyone is moving in slow-motion on the floor while the stage and stage lights blink & move in real time.
Syd Arthur is touring October 5-11 with White Denim, and shared the electrified UV rays of light with “Sun Rays” that is sure to add some extra sunny vibes to your summer as you anticipated their forthcoming Apricity album available October 21.
Brother Moses delivered the Seth Graves video for “Crazy Eyes” where a romantic interest inadvertently breaks up the band member by member in the most random ways. Like a DIY So I Married an Axe Murderer, Brother Moses bring about their super-sweet, sentimental, love-sick sounds featured off their forthcoming album Legends available August 26 from Missing Piece Records.
Nils Frahm, Frederic Gmeiner, & Sepp Singwald are nonkeen who delivered the shining & shimmering nu-tek brilliance of “glow”, found among other illuminations on their forthcoming album Oddments of the Gamble available July 15 from R&S.
Behold the underwater beauty of Nat Urazmetova’s aquatic video for “Euclidean Plane” taken off Ben Chatwin’s album Heat & Entropy available July 29 from Ba Da Bing. Choral numbers for contemporary chambers are heard here with views that resemble the viewing tanks seen at the Monterey Aquarium.
Eric Copeland just released the new album Black Bubblegum today on DFA, and we present a listen to the Sporting Life remix of the single “Rip It”. The ol’ rip it up and start again adage is taken to heart by Sporting Life that scruffs up all the various distinctions of dissonance on Copeland’s “Rip It” where the the tears take on unorthodox turns toward atmospheric shifts that feel like constant interruptions and changes in cabin pressure.
Johanna Maria Jansson, aka Dotter (Swedish for daughter) has been rapidly taking over the Scandinavian pop territories and we present the exotic Sandra Bang video for Johanna’s “Creatures of The Sun” that rocks with all the pagan poetry, tambourine shaking fun in front of a green screen that takes Dotter anywhere in the world she wants to go.
While each of us mourns the loss of Prince in our respective ways, Raindear took on the timeless, snazzy jam the eternal master with “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. The 80s pop funk is traded for electro-rustic beats that allude toward future production values & desires that the great artist would have wanted to see come to full fruition.
1-800-BAND’s new Mitch Easter produced album High Beams is available now from Almost Ready, and we bring you the single “Jackie’s Wrong” that rocks with the glamorous rock pop rhetoric reminiscent of 70s Sunset Strip styles. “Jackie’s Wrong” delivers all the heartbroken Hollywood-esque hedonism from the album rock era that is extra heavy on the power chord riffs.
Toronto’s Twist busted out some of the most near-perfect pop around with the anxious & exciting single “Can’t Wait” that is served alongside news of Twist’s forthcoming album Spectral available August 26 from Buzz. “Can’t Wait” features the fierce woman on a mission delivery from Laura Hermiston accompanied with founding member Brian Borcherdt (of Holy Fuck) & full band where the actual sound of excited anticipation is conveyed expertly though lo-fi recorded production mastery. Hermiston’s vocals control the sun dial directions of an overall beguiling sound with plenty of remarkable guitar courtesy of Matt Buckberrough that makes them one of Toronto’s most important groups around.
In case it slipped from your radar, you are invited to immerse yourself in the Strawberry Fields Forever-revisitation/update on Puro Instinct’s super-narcotic “What You See” (is what you get).
Phoenix’s Nick Tillery is Future Soul who shared the urgent power ballad “Process” that bears soul in uber-pop tones without the use of electronic anything congruent with the rest of the Elastic Love EP.
Check out the quest of conceits & posh lavish lives that are presented in the most gaudy of fashions & extravagances in the Gatbsian Gaya Lamouche video for “Lonely Being Cool” from Nikki’s Wives; showcasing the aloof & lonely pedestals of the upper echelons.
Jon Bap’s anticipated album What Now? will be available July 29 from Astro Nautico, and we got your listen to the nu-jazz-school of “Gotta Be Your Lover”. Bap puts all the sleek & smooth pop elements & tropes that you know and shuffles it up into a lo-fi rhythm blender that feels like it could have been recorded at anytime over the past 50 years. Catch our premiere of Jon Bap’s “Let It Happen”.
LA’s Sibling brought about a little something for estranged hearts with “Westside” that makes all lost sisters & brothers feel a little closer together no matter what the odds. This is an anthem for all connected bonds that may scattered across the face of the vast and wide universe.
Factory Floor’s new album 25 25 will be available August 19 from DFA Records and you are invited to get the party started early with the cool Euro beat single “Ya”. This is that cold groove for all cynics (and aspiring cynics) to let loose to in the club when few are glancing in their direction.
Baltimore tunesmith Dolphin is readying his upcoming Fresh Selects album debut with news that The Great Pretend will be available later this year, and we have been enjoying the hopeful song of experience that is “Snakes”. The follow up to 2015’s “Young Black Mind” single showcases further dimensions & sophisticated arrangement distinctions that should make the B’more artist’s forthcoming album one of 2016’s most anticipated releases. In Dolphin’s own words on the new track:
“Snakes” was inspired, lyrically, by life experiences. Snakes in the garden, whether in business or in personal relationships, and how protecting one’s heart is the most important thing.
Vancouver artist-producer Pat Lok sent word of an upcoming new EP available July 22 from Maison Kitsuné presenting the single “My Own Throne” featuring vocalist Claire Mortifee. Having seen playing some of Kitsuné’s own club nights, the artist delivers super mellow house grooves for everything from exquisite lounges to humble living rooms.
Scatter Factory’s self-titled album will be available July 22 from Flecktone Recordings, fronted by Delicatessen’s Will Foster who shared the single “Out The Blocks” that abides by motorik rhythm manners that will inspire a wanderlust from deep within. The artist who has played with Suede’s Brett Anderson & Bernard Butler The Tears, Simon Raymonde, Martina Topley-Bird, Heather Nova & more creates a kind of inertia and momentum that propels the listener upwards & forwards according to the rich percussive arrangement.
The Inconsistent Jukebox’s single “Bold Ego Fledgling” ft. Ang Kerfoot will be available August 5 from Supersonic Media, and we deliver a listen to Yorkshire own Barry Snaith accompanied by remixes. The track blisters with artist post-punk dissonance, met by remixes from Liz Cirelli that add extra club percussion, expanded into sonic spaces courtesy of David Augustin’s rework, featuring further beat dalliances from Richard Brown & Born2Groove.
The Swagger’s self-titled EP will be available July 22, and we deliver an advance from the London group. Classic pub rock fare can be heard on “She Gonna Blow My Mind”, the hedonistic “Stoned”, the piss & vinegar of “Keep On Fighting”, right before closing the curtains with the bravado of “Ride”. Party with The Swagger and act as if the oughts never even happened.
American Anymen single “Selectively Stupid” will be available July 16, and we bring you the video for the single in question made by band leader Brett Sullivan. The NYC group takes the mickey out of educated fools and the less than discreet so-called charm of the bourgeoisie among other injustices that plague our world today.
With Savage Times volumes one & two available now from Innovative Leisure, we invite you to check out Hanni El Khatib’s new single “Come Down” that provides a little something to ground all of us that asks for the appearance of a supernatural idea amid the confusion witnessed on earth.
Zig Zags are touring now through August 26 in support of their fresh album Running Out of Red available now from Castle Face Records, and they share the video for “Giving Up The Ghost” of ghoulish-skateboard-park shredding proportions. The visuals provide enough scuzzy excitement to inspire one to bust out their old board from the storage closet for some half-pipe nostalgia trips.
GRiZ and All Good Records’ affiliate Maddy O’Neal gave us a glance of the electronic & brass bits featured off the new single “Just a Glimpse”. Midnight moods of inner reflection rumble & ruminate through to the early hours of dawn.
Wymond Miles long-awaited new solo album Call By Night is available today from Sacred Bones & we present you a first listen followed by Wymond’s own Week in Pop takeover. The journey begins with the crack in the clouds & sky with “Summer Rains”, pouring forth to the smooth shelter of “Protection”, trad song of songs “Solomon’s Song”, the title evening intimations of “Call By Night”, the gothic beauty on “Bride of the Lamb”, to the dramatic glam gesticulations on “Divided in Two”, backward glances on the harmonies of “Rear View Mirror”, or the breathtaking balladry on “Stand Before Me” that solidifies Wymond’s place in the pop canon, right before you are left with the lo-fi swaying motions on “Devil’s Blue Eyes”. Join us after the jump for the artist’s following guest selections & insights:
Wymond Miles’ Week in Pop
Wymond Miles just released his anticipated new Call By Night album via Sacred Bones and it is our pleasure to present the Fresh & Onlys artist’s own following Week in Pop guest selections:
Joe Meek alchemy for the British Roy Orbison:
The Blue Rondos, “Little Baby”
Impossible to choose just one deep cut of Chicano soul from San Antonio (so consider this a three for the price of one deal), each woven in some of my favorite sounding production and crooning duende.
Sounds, “To Each His Own”
Eptones, “No One Else But You”
Sunny & the Sunliners, “Put Me In Jail”
My dad’s main man dropping sorrowful laments like Yeats, while owning the barn with poise and bravado:
Ernest Tubb, “Driftwood On The River Of Regret”
A Caribbean shaman ritual sung by one of my favorite voices:
Exuma, “Mama Loi, Papa Loi”
Frank has been my right hand man for the past few years. We worked together on this. His sound is immersive and carries a cathedral stoic intimacy. A preview of what’s yet to come.
Frank Ene, “No Longer”
Another work I was a part of that deserves some attention. Will is an unsung pop craftsman of the sad-eyed anglophile guitar lowlands. Myself and Shayde (from Fresh & Onlys) were part of his backing band for this LP:
Will Ivy, “In The Middle”
A perfect slab of angular frenzied haze, with a video that echoes its effortless art pop whims from the great label Trouble In Mind:
A reissue of 80’s New Zealand gloom I can’t wait to get my hands on from Dais Records.
The Cakekitchen, “Witness To Your Secrets”
A group unfortunately associated with rambling and off putting tags such as avant-cabaret-psych-folk. This clip was chosen simply because it captions the inimitable lyrics of Dagmar Krause.
Slapp Happy, “The Secret”
After watching this, I now practice at the house with my band in grey sweats while laying on the couch to try and chase the coattails of Marvin.
Marvin Gaye, “I Want You”
Fell into a Nico K-hole some years back and I can only dip in from time to time anymore, but this stripped Detroit garage version of a classic whimsical tune is worth it.
Nico, “Chelsea Girls” sung in the Chelsea Hotel
Catch up with Wymond Miles via Facebook.