Year in Pop: 2016

Sjimon Gompers

Proudly presenting some select highlights and standouts from this year's Week in Pop: 2016 features with our annual Year in Pop review edition; photograph by Sjimon Gompers.

Dark Colour

Emerging from the thicket with Cincinnati's Dark Colour; photographed by Sarah Asebrooke.

Emerging from the thicket with Cincinnati’s Dark Colour; photographed by Sarah Asebrooke.

Cincinatti’s Randall Rigdon Jr. returns with news that new Dark Colour album Animal is available now 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 now 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.

The candid side of Dark Colour; photographed by Sarah Asebrooke.

The candid side of Dark Colour; photographed by Sarah Asebrooke.

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!

A portrait of Dark Colour by Annie Amaya.

A portrait of Dark Colour by Annie Amaya.

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.

Dark Colour's Randall Rigdon Jr. hitting the keys live; photographed by Helen Park.

Dark Colour’s Randall Rigdon Jr. hitting the keys live; photographed by Helen Park.

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.

Animal cover art courtesy of Stephen Anthony Dryer.

Animal cover art courtesy of Stephen Anthony Dryer.

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 week in pop Animal_tour

Dark Colour’s new album Animal is available now from Kitabu Music.

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