If you need some distraction from sports and the world's sordid state, Impose's Week in Pop gives you all the diversion you can handle from today and tomorrow's headlines. Houston deemed June 10 “Drake Day” forever more, Sky Ferreira had some awkward moments on Brazilian TV, Neil Young's Twitter got hacked, Grimes premiered her new track “Go” at Governors Ball, ATL's Stevie J of Love & Hip Hop fame found out he owed over a cool mil in child support, Jack White's bro expanded his tour while the Mozzer canceled his, OutKast announced a hometown ATL gig, Warp Records launched a with a festival in Krakow, Poland called Warp25 to celebrate their 25 years, and, yep, Brian Wilson is really working on an album with Frank Ocean, Kacey Musgraves, Lana Del Rey, and Zooey Deschanel.
Closing down the week, we bring you exclusives and in-depth insights from new and familiar friends, in no particular order. Painted Zeros, Desert Sharks, Blooper, Diner, Essáy, Matt Kivel, Sing Leaf, Web of Sunsets, Empathy Test and more are all featured this week. Strap in.
(Painted Zeros photographed by Kenneth Bachor with Dan Whitebread, Katie Lau and Jared Kaner.)
The other week we were rocking the single “Jaime” from Brooklyn's Painted Zeroes, which tested the durability of our hearing by carving their sound's trademark insignia directly into our torn ear drums. Readying their Svalbard EP for release July 15 from Black Bell Records, the riot rages on as we premiere the lively music video for “Jaime”, directed, edited, and shot by Jared Kaner, Lysette Rose and Hanan Mahboubathe.
The action begins with Katie Lau blowing out the candles (that spell “Jaime”) on a birthday cake, bringing you to a performance and word burning session with Painted Zeros. The ear-burningly blistering ode immortalizes the off-stage and elusive Don Juan Adonis that Katie Lau lavishes with praise and adoration in the following seductive serenade to the mythological lover. “You're such a lovely sight, thinking of you keeps me up all night,” and “I can't get you out of my head, I want to take you home and tie you to my bed.” In the pagan game of writing notes and subsequently engufling them in the flames of candles, Painted Zeros and their beautiful bunch of friends partake in the rituals of writ that see the burning of experessions and terms like “desire,” “love,” “hollow,” “kinky,” “crutch,” “The Holy Mother,” “whoa, man,” “loser,” “projection,” “satire,” “horror,” and more. Lighting wicks like torches, pantomiming candle-like cigarettes, getting wild with the wax, fire, silver balloons, and rolling up spliffs in the funny papers, the song spins out of control like a semantic bonfire of conceits and vanities.
Katie Lau gave us the exclusive lowdown on “Jaime” and their upcoming album, the Svalbard EP and more.
The idea for Svalbard, both the name and the collection of songs that make up the EP, came during a bad bout of insomnia a few months ago. I was lying in bed unable to sleep at six in the morning, feeling trapped and unhappy and wanting to be anywhere but Brooklyn. One of my escapist hobbies is exploring the world via Google Earth, imagining all the different places I could be and different lives I could lead. I found Svalbard that night and was fascinated by its extreme and distinctive landscape, tiny population and relative isolation. I also discovered that Svalbard is the location of the infamous “Doomsday” Seed Vault, a politically problematic seed tomb funded by GMO agribusiness that purports to be a safeguard against the threat of global apocalypse. Svalbard is in every respect beautiful and fascinating and terrifying and embodied the kind of dream world and alternate space that I think music has the potential of making too—inspiring moods and feelings and different worlds that you enter when you make the decision to leave (or alter) whatever physical space you are in through a sonic landscape.
In many ways “Jaime” follows traditional song structure and content tropes of 'rock' songs about love (or lust,) but it is also a tongue-in-cheek parody. On the EP, there is a sound byte right before “Jaime” that makes this more obvious. The main guitar riff alternates between establishing a major and minor tonic (E-G-G-B-e-A-C-D) reflecting the “ups and downs of L U V” and the lyrics make fun of the ridiculous lyrical clichés that tend to fill pop and rock songs. “Jaime” is definitely not about a real person. “Jaime” tries to occupy the archetype of every desperately sung name in the history of pop songwriting.
The video came from an idea I had of a free word association game based off the word “Desire.” We got our friends to come to our practice space where I recorded the Svalbard EP, gave them a fifth of Jack, and had them sit in a circle and write whatever words came to mind following the previous one and then burn them. My drummer Jared and our good friends, Hanan and Lysette shot, edited and directed the whole thing, and we used our friend Danny's old photo studio to shoot the band scenes.
Painted Zeroes' Svalbard EP will be available July 15 from Black Bell Records.
Desert Sharks crashed our party with the “I Know What I Want” single discussion, followed by more discussions and a mixtape. They join up with us again with more conversation pieces and a listen to “crazycrazy”. Taken from their upcoming Template Hair EP for Manimal, Stephanie Gunther, Stefania Rovera, Rebecca Rose, and Sunny Veniero return on a rampage that crashes the crazy talk for some real closed fist dialogues of retribution.
Just from the name of Desert Sharks forthcoming EP Template Hair, the molds have already been thrown out the window with a kind of attitude and aesthetic that rekindles that seedy magic of pre-Giuliani NYC. From the moment the play button is pressed on “crazycrazy”, Stephanie, Stefania, Rebecca, and Sunny gang up on you with guitars hurled like rocks and lager cans. The listener can't help but imagine themselves as the recipient of this rage, where Sharks surround in an in-your-face confrontation of questionable fideleties, where words and questioned mental states become cast into the irrelevance pile with reason roaring with a rabid ferocity over dismissive terms and behaviors. This is crazy with a cause, where the every switchblade chord breaks like brass knuckles in a classic beat down where the worst offender is interrogated with the leather boot heel-to-neck line of inquiry, “tell me who you're taking home, who?!” Stephanie Gunther chats with us following “crazycrazy”, talking about the making of the new EP, the new single, Craigslist tales of the bizarre, as well as other anecdotes of interest.
Give us all the behind-the-music gossip about recording your upcoming Template Hair EP with Mike Poorman and Jim Keaney at Devotion Recordings in Everett, Massachusetts.
Mike Poorman is a bastard! Just kidding. He’s a good friend of ours and we love him. We actually recorded our first EP with him a few years ago so we're beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him and Jim on this new EP. We went to Jim’s studio in Everett, MA in the middle of February. It was freezing and the only bathroom was outdoors. You’d have to psyche yourself up and put on layers and literally run. The studio is hidden in this tiny warehouse area and there’s a brewery next door, which proved fruitful for inspiration. Jim and Mike have genius musical ears, honestly. We spent the first day setting up tones and tuning the drums. They’d be talking back and forth about the tiniest adjustments and it would change everything. We were so happy with the results. We tracked all the instruments live and then I did vocals separately.
Besides forming this very band, can you tell us the best Craigslist stories that you have heard lately?
Craigslist can be a scary place. We really lucked out that none of us were too insane. Have you heard that story about the girl who was dog-sitting for a family she met on Craigslist and the dog unexpectedly died? She called them and they asked her to take him to the vet to be cremated but she didn’t have money for a cab so she put this giant dog in a duffel bag and took the subway. When she was trying to climb the steps out of the subway to the street, a man saw her struggling with the bag and asked her if she needed help. She said sure and as he’s helping her lift this heavy bag he said what’s in here anyway? She started to panic because she didn’t want to tell him it was a dead dog so she lied and said stereo equipment. Then the man punched her in the face and ran off with the bag! Can you imagine when he opened the bag and saw what really was inside? So crazy. That’s probably just an urban legend.
“crazycrazy” is an infectious, and very precise single of anarchy and well-leveled dose of lunacy. What sorts of states of mind contributed to this two and a half minute wonder?
I wrote the lyrics from Stefania’s point of view after a lover called her crazy. It’s such a dismissive word often used toward women, it’s this ultimate shutdown. If someone calls you crazy, and you try to argue against it, they’ll say “See? You’re being crazy right now!” We decided to have fun with it and amp it up a notch. Oh you think I’m crazy? I’m double that. I’m “crazycrazy”.
There seems to be an all out insurrection of sea-to-land titled groups from Desert Sharks to Sharkmuffin.
I’m not really sure what drives other bands’ decisions for choosing a name. For us, Desert Sharks was the only name we came up with that we didn’t hate.
Is it too early to inquire about a Desert Sharks album?
We’d love to record a full length. We’re always writing and working on new songs, and we’re always anxious for people to hear all of it!
Best recent things you all have heard lately, music wise, rumor wise, projects of interest, etc?
Stefania showed us that video for Fat White Family’s “Touch the Leather” recently. That song has been in my head ever since.
Desert Shark's Template Hair EP will be available June 24 from Manimal Vinyl.
(Meet the nice boys from Blooper, photographed by Trevor Crump)
The Seattle band Blooper is comprised of Adriano, former guitarist from Neighbors, and his pals Chris and Darrin. Premiering the single “Tinted Windows” off their So Very Small EP available July 1 from Jigsaw Records; the three rock the West Coast wave riding glossy sunshine pop that carries on the tradition established and struck up from their previous recordings, Long Distance, Teenage Caveman, The Next in Line, Go Away, to 2011's Ballard Avenue EP.
“Tinted Windows” is like a beach party invasion of limousines and celebrities riding sports cars that crash into the sands, interrupting volleyball matches and transistor radio au-go-go sessions. Blooper blares guitars like air-conditioning units responding to the rise of temperatures on a sunny day in late summer. The guitars cut through the surf in a strong unifying power chord tone that eggs on some choice guitar solos, and electric-stringed dualling-duets. The sun-stroked SPF streaked sound of “Tinted Windows” imagines a clash of poshos and the DIY folks brawling it out for the coveted “King of the Beach” title. There is also a poetic play on the perception of peering into the functions and particulars of new, and different worlds and echelons of understanding and existence. Adriano joins us followng the debut, for an inside look at a band to keep a close ear out for Blooper.
Named after the outtake reels, how did Blooper first begin?
It was just me and a cheap mic and and an amp from Toys 'R' Us, recording stuff in my living room to get me away from a job I really disliked. I had a handful of songs I had written and I had been trying to either join or start a band for a long time before that but it never happened, so one day I just got fed up with it and made an EP on my own. That was Blooper's first record, the Ballard Avenue EP. The name Blooper came from the fact that I screwed up so much while recording that I was always having to redo stuff.
What is the Blooper take on the current rise of the Seattle underground?
I think it's really awesome to see bands like Dude York and Chastity Belt (both bands we love and are good friends we have played shows with) getting the exposure they deserve, getting to play big gigs like Sasquatch and Block Party. I'm also super excited for Neighbors to finally be able to get a vinyl release this year, since I've known these guys for a long time now and was even part of the band for a while.
(Blooper captured at The Comet by Shane Williams)
What was different for the band in recording So Very Small, versus your previous Long Distance 7″?
Until this record, everything we did was totally DIY. I would borrow a few mics from people I knew (mainly José from Neighbors), we'd set things up in our bass player Darrin's basement and record over a weekend or two. This time though, our friend Milton Sagahon invited us to record at his studio Bulbo (which, coincidentally, is set up in his basement). He has much better gear than we ever had access to, and he knows how to set things up properly. I feel like this helped the new record sound a lot punchier and clearer than the previous ones.
We're riding the radical waves of “Tinted Windows”. What kind of presidential tint inspired this blaring PA-buster?
The song is actually about long distance relationships and how things get so easily mixed up, like assumptions will just creep up about what the other person might be thinking or doing during the time they're not directly talking to you. It's like you're trying to talk to each other through a tinted window—things get murky, subtleties get lost and then you end up fighting without even really knowing how it began. Since my girlfriend lives in Los Angeles, you could say this is a pretty personal song.
(Blooper captured at The Comet by Shane Williams)
Love that vintage, scuzzy guitar tone that's all over the EP, how do you all accomplish these kinds of modern, analog cadences in your sound?
Even though we record on computers, everything else until that point is analogue. I'm a total nerd for that 60s garage sound, you know, The Sonics, The Standells and stuff like that. So I just try to shamelessly emulate it when it comes to my guitar tone. Keep the reverb almost all the way up and add an analogue slap-back delay to everything. Fuzz pedals always help as well.
Having formerly played in Neighbors, what are your other formal and friendly ties to folks in the Seattle scenes?
I feel like the scene here is really cool because there doesn't seem to be much (if at all) of that air of competition or artificial hype building that sometimes I feel about the scenes in other places (sorry Brooklyn and LA). We're friends with a ton of other people who are all in great bands or doing great music on their own, and it feels like we always try to help each other out with filling out lineups or setting up gigs, borrowing each other's gear and so on. Zebra Hunt used to be our labelmates until the great Manic Pop meltdown of 2013. We've played a bunch of shows and swapped gear with Detective Agency, Eric from Tacocat did sound in more than one of our gigs, we love to hang out with Tummy… the list goes on. It's like, every time I see a cool new band pop up, I'll look them up and I'll have like 30 mutual friends with them on Facebook already. Like we all just know a lot of the same people and hang out in a lot of the same places.
(Blooper, photographed by Trevor Crump)
We're playing the Seattle Rock 'N' Roll Marathon on June 21st and are working out the details for a record release show probably on July 3. We haven't planned much past that since our drummer Chris has a newborn and we always have to keep in mind that he has greater priorities.
Blooper's new EP So Very Small will be available July 1 from Jigsaw Records.
(Diners' Tyler Broderick, photographed by Jill Cook)
Diners is lead by the creative mind of Tyler Broderick, hailing from across the dusty roads of Phoenix, AZ. Their new album Always Room recently saw release in conjunction with the labels Lost Sound Tapes, Phat 'N' Phunky and Diet Pop Records. And we give you a debut listen and close look at the song “Could Be Real”. Tyler and friends take you to those places where imagined realities manifest themselves into the material realm.
The album Always Room is a work that portrays the modern day singers, tunesmiths, and songwriters in a electric, large expanse of space and yet intimate distances. The wide range presents a side of Arizona indie vibes that exist as more than just an iced tea texture or re-appropriated southwestern textile design. The great news about the joy that stems from “Could Be Real” is that the mysteries from the hearts of gold become manifested from dreamland worlds and into real life. The places and melodies heard and seen in visions become played out by Tyler and the band, where static-radio vibes keep the song warmed in a lazy progression of keys and a mix that wraps the guitars together in a warped-woven thread texture. On “Could Be Real”, the places that exist in the mind, in the heart and the areas in which one walks, dreams are brought to musical life. The song pushes and presses those spaces and entry gates where matter is exchanged across the thresholds and borders between the demarcation lines of political and physical geography from the soveign states of consciousness. Tyler joins us for a discussion, after the following listen.
What prompted you to start Diners?
Well, music is an unstoppable force in my life. I'm not sure how I could go about my daily life without having a project like Diners. After quitting a band that I had started in high school, it felt very natural to do somewhat of a 'solo' project. I ended up recording most of the first Diners album by myself and added friends to play instruments along the way. I can't help but write songs in my head all day. I would still be writing songs even if I wasn't doing Diners. It's therapeutic and a very pure way to keep myself happy.
What events lead to this musical translation of real time manifested desire on “Could Be Real”?
I'm totally cool with personal interpretations and I encourage them! “Could Be Real” is a loose-love song. I had a long distance crush/relationship with someone and wanted to capture what I felt. To me, the music isn't melancholy. For me, the music gives a sense of the kind of love I felt was temporary and that that was totally okay and cool. I don't like to spell it out too much with my lyrics. I put in what I think feels the best and allow room for songs to take on their own stories.
(Diners' Tyler Broderick, photographed by Katelyn Roberts.)
What releases do you have in the works?
As of now, I've got the next two Diners albums written. Might turn into an album and a 7″, but I won't know till I've got all the songs recorded. Got some demos made, just need to solidify parts and record them as the final. I feel extremely good about our new songs!
(Diners' Tyler Broderick, photographed by Dave Driscoll)
Local artists or peers of interest that should be on our radars?
IJI and Pitschouse are the first two band/projects that come to my head. IJI: positive windy beach jams. Pitschouse: sincere, sad guy, pop ballads. Both bands are made up of former Phoenix friends that moved to Seattle. I keep in contact regularly and visit them as often as possible. Also my friend, Tristan, who plays drums for Diners, fronts a great band called Dogbreth, which I also play guitar in.
What have you found yourself listening to lately in your free time?
Besides my friends' DIY bands, my tastes are pretty tuned into local classic rock radio stations. I've got a continuous rotation of Beach Boys, Thin Lizzy, Paul McCartney, and Electric Light Orchestra albums.
The state of indie music?
'Indie' as a genre is as broad as 'rock' music. I feel that DIY indie (or DIY-friendly-indie) is the only sector of indie that is still trying expand, break down, and genre-bend it's way to original and sincere sounds and songwriting. I've heard the term 'indie-corp' to describe a lot of the music you'd hear at some indie festivals and to describe some bigger indie bands. I think indie-corp is a great term because it conveys the boring, artificial and trendy vibes I hear too often. Always support all ages art spaces and communities!
(Introducing, Sing Leaf (from left to right): David Como, Shane Fester, Justin Castator, Pat Bramm.)
Toronto's David Como has been putting out releases as Sing Leaf since 2007, creating home recorded paens of electronically blended odes to nature's mysteries. Debuting the new track “Change Your Mind” off the upcoming Tracer, Como is joined with friends Shane Fester, Justin Castator and Pat Bramm to illustrate harmonic possibilities for brilliance and magic.
Set on a percussive beat like rolling mountains, streams, and hiking trails, “Change Your Mind” attempts to get the cold, and old souls to see an alternate and more ecstatic point of view and experience. David's voice describes the single star wishes of the night and sends the voices from Shane, Justin, and Pat to swim around the bubbling brew of bass and percussive patterns. Like the point of the song that encourages the listener and subject to think differently, the entire song makes a heel point turn the one minute and thirty-three seconds mark. The sparse track that simmers like hot springs becomes a completely different song, a transforming chrysalis that is initiated with David's bridge of “to believe, to be loved, to be looking for the magic, or is it better to just drift along in the static, if it all seems crazy, just give it time and maybe I can change your mind.” Stay with us following the premiere, as David chimes in on the song and more.
What prompted you to begin making music under the Sing Leaf moniker?
I had previously played in a band called Shingleton, a long time ago. By the time that was finishing up, it was me and a couple of friends and we were basically just jamming, improvising with very basic electronics, drums and a bass guitar. The drummer was moving away, the band was ending and I began working on more traditional song structures. The Sing Leaf stuff came out of that, trying to write what were essentially folk/blues songs while still incorporating electronic and ambient elements. The origins of the 'moniker' are secret. I've never told anyone, not family or girl or band members. It would lose its magic.
Like the name of the song “Change Your Mind”, you have some unexpected chord changes at the end there. Was this done to further illustrate the song's point?
No. Just experimenting with incorporating an abrupt tempo change. The rhythmic parts came about before the chords or melody. The chords were a result of the tempo change, I guess.
How do you describe your own creative writing and recording process?
I live in a converted attic of an old house near High Park in Toronto. Though we are on the top floor, there is also a little loft above the living room that you have to climb a ladder to get up to. In that little triangular space up there I have all of my instruments and recording gear. I have a very simple set-up, I don't even have a good pair of headphones. The arm snapped on mine so I just have the two cans and I have to wear a toque and kind of shove them up into the hat to keep them over my ears. Anyway, I go up into that space and there is a window that looks over the street, and a little bubble sunroof that points up at the sky. That's where I record. The songs seem to just come into my head during the day, on good days, and then at some point I'll try and remember them and try to play them out, record them. Generally the recording process changes the song altogether. I write, record and mix everything myself, in my apartment. Since I formed the current live band though, those boys have been contributing a lot. Their names are Pat Bramm (drums), Justin Castator (keys/synth) and Shane Fester (bass). They sing on “Change Your Mind”.
Notes on the Toronto scene?
There is a lot of music in Toronto, lots of scenes and definitely lots of things going on that I don't know are going on. I can't really comment on what the scene is like, but there have been some really good people who I've come to know. The folks at Silent Shout (blog/show promoters) have been really kind to me, and I find out about a lot of new things going on in the city through their site, not that I go out all that much. Justin at Holy Oak has been a supporter since I first started making music as Sing Leaf. He used to work at a place called the Tranzac, then opened Holy Oak a few years back. I like playing there, and I send him new music as it comes along. Through him and the little shows I would play at those clubs I met Sandro Perri who has become a friend and patient ear. He contributed a remix to an EP I put together earlier this year, as did two other Toronto acts — RLMDL and Bad Channels. I find it hard forming connections with other musicians, or maybe just new people in general. Maybe too old. But when someone shows themselves to be solid, I don't forget.
What are you listening to now?
S.E. Rogie, Palm Wine Guitar Music.
Recordings and releases in the works?
Currently recording a new album called “Tracing”, which “Change Your Mind” will be on. Not sure who, if anyone, will release it.
(Matt Kivel, photographed by Cara Robbins)
Matt Kivel takes us for a stroll along the steady engine roads of guitar strummed rhythm on, “Insignificance”, off Days of Being Wild available July 8 from Woodsist Records. The LA artist turned heads with the open and intimate listen from last year's Double Exposure from Olde English Spelling Bee / Burger Records and further establishes his voice and sound as a singer songwriter of the Southern California territories.
The journey that and walks through journal and note captured thoughts find expressions in lyrics that resonate as loud through the tones and chord progression choices on “Insignificance”. The dialogue, discourse and discord between lovers is played out in the lyrics, where Kivel applies a raw and unfettered affection. The lines and identification of parties as being a significant or insignificant other are battled in the emotive pop expressions that resound like the text that was never received a response. It's that 2:12 am phone call that went to voicemail, that last painful conversation and the morning/day/years after the break. Don't miss our epic correspondence that covers everything from boxing to songwriting from earlier this year.
Following up our recent correspondences and conversations, Matt Kivel discusses the new album, the new single, signing to Woodsist, Woodsist Fest, and more.
Can you tell us any details about the wild days, stories, anecdotes, and incidents worthy of note that have inspired Days of Being Wild?
Over the last 7 years or so I was traveling around a lot playing music. I think that time was something that I hadn't thought much about until recently. each day you spent in a town had its own set of dramas and there was a completeness to each day and night that you don't get when you're living in one place. I don't know if I feel comfortable talking about some of the stories from that time period that may have informed the songs, but the connections I felt with people back then were certainly heightened. Everything was exaggerated and magnified and exciting.
We're already in love with “Insignificance”. May we be as nosy as to inquire what significant and or insignificant things may have lent credence and inception for this song?
“Insignificance” is my favorite song on the record. I like all of the space it has and the momentum of the rhythm section.
What are you most excited about for the upcoming August 16 Woodsist Fest at Pioneertown, and joining the Woodsist family label for this upcoming release?
I'm really pleased. Woodsist is a wonderful label. I've admired their stuff for a long time and feel really honored to be a part of it. I'm looking forward to seeing all the bands play—Woods, Skygreen Leopards, Cass McCombs, Foxygen, [Kevin} Morby, etc, etc. I've never been to Pappy and Harriet's before so I'm excited to check out that venue. I have an early set, so I plan on playing and then having some drinks and watching everyone else do their thing. It's going to be very cool.
Favorite boxing matches you have seen, new or old, since we last conversed?
Well, don't get me started on the Cotto/Martinez debacle. Sergio Martinez is one of my favorite fighters and he basically lost his middleweight title because he's just gotten too old and worn down by injuries. His knees were gone and Cotto knocked him out.
I attended the Alvarado/Marquez fight at the Forum in LA a month ago. The atmosphere was incredible. Vincent Gallo was oddly sitting near me. Marquez looked like a man possessed and the crowd was going wild for him the whole fight. Two knockdowns and a lot of excitement. I also bought a nice Marquez/Alvarado hat.
The other day we helped introduce you to Essáy, a world where the mid-tempo house breaks into an outpouring of lights that can calm the most unruly of waters. Over the course of eight-plus minutes, sounds blink and muffle, each change punctuating outward to catch a deep breath of fresh air. There are times when the self and its location are immediately forgotten as the world becomes a living, animated graphic novel to explore. Beginnings and endings here have the same meanings as the spaces in between, as one imagines this as a soundtrack to opening and/or closing credits sequence.
Essáy, is the project of Heidelberg's Simon Schilling, who delivers all of the aforementioned gifts by cracking open the air flow of sea shells on the title track, “Ocarina”. Taken from the upcoming EP of the same name, available July 1 from Cascine, Schilling's neat-new takes on the atmospheric syntheses are met with remixes from guests like The Field, Dominik Eulberg and Drugs. Stick around after the listen as we present a long-distance conversation with Simon in a unique glimpse into the creative world of Essáy.
How have you developed your own approach to the emotive new house (or n