Week in Pop: Johanna Samuels, Lavachild, Leisure Birds

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As our weird & wild world turns, Impose’s Week in Pop brings new hopes & new media from a few of our favorite artists. With first big news that Britain is leaving the EU, Beyoncé finally dropped the video for “Sorry” off the prolific Lemonade; Jenny Lewis x Erika Forster (Au Revoir Simone, Erika Spring) x Tennessee Thomas (the Like) supergroup Nice as Fuck dropped their surprise self-titled album debut via Jenny’s imprint Love’s Way; Future & DJ Esco dropped the Project E.T. Esco Terrestrial mixtape; Radiohead dropped the “Identikit” short directed by Yorgos Lanthimos; Kanye West’s now infamous & NSFW “Famous” video; David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption happening at LA’s Ace Hotel October 8-9; Aphex Twin dropped the video for “CIRKLON3 [ Колхозная mix ]” off the upcoming Cheetah EP available July 8 from Warp; Dâm-Funk and Nite Jewel are Nite Funk, dropping their self-titled EP July 1 on Glydezone, & dropped “Let Me Be Me”; Shlohmo returned with Fine, Thanks; Erykah Badu x Robert Glasper dropped the Mile Davis reinterpretation video for “Maiysha (So Long)”; Logic & Pusha T dropped “Wrist”; hype surrounding new Queens, NYC fest The Meadows happening October 1 & 2; Thundercat dropped the Ry No animated video for “Song for the Dead” off The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam; Schoolboy Q dropped the Dave Free (Top Dawg pres, one half of the Little Homies) directed video for “By Any Means”; Atmosphere announced the new album Fishing Blues available August 12 from Rhymesayers, & dropped “Ringo” video & July 2-November 19 tour; Portishead’s powerful ABBA cover of “SOS”; Sigur Rós dropped the “Óveður” video directed by Jonas Åkerlund; Vince Staples dropped the Ryan Staake video for his Clams Casino produced track “All Nite”; Sia x Diplo dropped the “Waving Goodbye” collabo; Teenage Fanclub announced the new album Here available September 9 from Merge, & dropped the single “I’m in Love”; The Wedding Present announced the upcoming album Going, Going… available September 2 via Scopitones, & dropped “Bear”; Devendra Banhart announced the new album Ape in Pink Marble available September 23 from Nonesuch, & dropped “Middle Names”; M83 announced fall tour dates; RZA x Atar collaboration; J.J. Abrams is working on a Michael Jackson television series; Neurosis to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary with new album Fires Within Fires will be available September 13 via Neurot & EU tour dates August 10-21; artists continue to rally against YouTube; BitTorrent launched it’s new streaming service BitTorrent Now; Schlesinger v. Ticketmaster class-action lawsuit reaps big rewards; Afropunk London festival defended M.I.A. as headliner; Kentucky musicians responded to Gov. Matt Bevin’s “attacks on women’s reproductive rights, affordable health care, the LGBTQIA+ community, education, and progress in general;” Led Zeppelin won the “Stairway to Heaven” copyright debacle; El-P is decidedly not down with the forthcoming Run the Jewels move starring Kevin Hart; Other Music closing out with a parade; with Sinéad O’Connor’s well being in question, the artist responded; Frank Ocean’s powerful statement on the tragedy in Orlando; David Byrne penned the essay “Guns Are About Freedom: Our Freedom to Live”; we mourn the passing of bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley; and lament the passing of Parliament/Funkadelic’s Bernie Worrel.

Looking forward & upwards, we are proud to present the following exclusive insights, interviews, fresh media & more from déCollage, Giovanni Ferrario Alliance, Johanna Samuels, Lavachild, Leisure Birds, Basement Revolver, bed., Blissing Room, Crypt Thing, Matsu Mixu, Plants, Slow Dakota, Warehouse Eyes, featuring guest selections by Leisure Birds and more—in no particular order.

Johanna Samuels

Catching up with Johanna Samuels; press photos courtesy of the artist.
Catching up with Johanna Samuels; press photos courtesy of the artist.

Brooklyn by LA artist Johanna Samuels has been making her coastal rounds recently at The Satellite & NYC’s Union Pool in support of her brand new EP Home and Dry: Told a Lie available today & we have the premiere listen streaming in its entirety. Samuels made a name for herself through the New York’s hotbed of talented songwriters, singers, arrangers, composers, & visionaries before moving way out to the west coast. Johanna’s piano penned songs strike the sentimental sides of the heart that tell tales of experience, emotive inquiries, & inner & outer thought dialogues where privy conversations here are appropriated as lyrics. Her music chronicles the chapters of life that have been lived & read, measuring the distances traveled, compromises made, and questions that investigate why people arrive in our lives as quick as they depart. All this and more sets the stage for Home and Dry: Told a Lie.

Johanna Samuels’ new EP begins with “Stop You” that illustrates a hands off approach in understanding another individual’s happiness. “Well I want to put a stop to your feeling so bad most times, but if you want to stay mad I know I’m never gonna stop you.” Johanna zooms in on the desire to intervene & affect the emotional chemistry of a loved one, while also respecting the autonomy of another individual’s free will & choice to feel the way they want to feel. “The Beast” weighs out the should I stay or should I go choices with a heavy but certain heart expressed between the keys & woodwinds in lyrics like, “it would be such a disservice to myself to stay, because I don’t want to change so I push you away.” The lens moves from topics of relationships, migrations, & pensive moments of being stuck in your head exhibited on “Tired Of Me” that delivers honest & embarrassing confessionals that feels familiar & human that mixes doubts, insecurities, & more in act of self-analysis. Johanna continues this introspective mode on “Good Ship” that operates with a choral luster where the effect of the strings & keys heighten the mood right before Johanna destroys you with lyrics guaranteed to choke up the most hardened of hearts: “I know what’s right, I know what’s wrong, when my good ship comes it’s because I waited, you don’t want good, you don’t want strong.” Closing out Home and Dry: Told a Lie, Samuels enters the echo desert caverns of Lady Lazarus-esque territories on “Into the Throes” that invites all to turn and face the strange of the uncertainty of what dreams tomorrow and the next day after that may bring. After the following debut listen, read our interview with Johanna Samuels.

When & where were you when you discovered your own musical calling & draw?

There was always music in my house growing up, both listening and playing.
I loved harmonizing with my favorite records and learning them on piano.
Writing my own songs didn’t cross my mind until I was 19, after that it was pretty all-consuming.

What sorts of song writing, & drafting rituals or approaches have you adopted over time?

I try my best to sit down at the piano or guitar everyday and when a chord progression returns a few times I’ll hum a melody. Sometimes the words will come with it—other times I’ll chew on the melody for a few weeks. Lyrics are usually last. I try to get out of the way as much as possible.

A conversation with Johanna Samuels; press photo.
A conversation with Johanna Samuels; press photo.

What sorts of ideas of home, and deception, and more informed the making of Home and Dry: Told a Lie?

I wrote these songs while packing up my life in New York and moving across the country. I was returning to Los Angeles, where I had grown up. I spent a month on the road and found myself returning to what home really meant to me. At the same time I was thinking about the stories we tell ourselves; what we choose to remember about where we come from and what we need to forget.

Which particular authors & artists & auteurs have you found yourself gravitating toward lately?

Comedians Maria Bamford & Kate Berlant. Margaret Glaspy’s new record. Mitski’s new record.

Johanna Samuels behind the scenes, writing her new EP; press photo.
Johanna Samuels behind the scenes, writing her new EP; press photo.

Summer & fall wishes?

Planning to play out as much as possible. I’m always writing more. Would love to get the chance to get back in the studio and do all this again. Also, there’s a pretty bitchin’ full moon tonight. Looking forward to that!

2017 projection, meditations, prayers, etc?

More listening. Less fear.

Johanna Samuels’ new EP Home and Dry: Told a Lie is available now.

Leisure Birds

Leisure Birds soaring with the synths; photographed by Alex Achen.
Leisure Birds soaring with the synths; photographed by Alex Achen.

Welcome back our Minneapolis, MN high-flyers Leisure Birds, as they present the grand premiere & unveiling of their Library Music commissioned project titled Zoom Lens. Prepare to witness the sky-swimming/synthesizer tricking birds Jake Luck, Collin Gorman Weiland, Bennet Johnson, Cory Carlson, & Alex Achen re-imagine & recreate entire moods, vibes, & new set of synth soundtracks put to educational films & travelogues of the late 70s to early 90s.

leisure birds cover 3 zoom-lens

Leisure Birds introduce their Zoom Lens album of library music made for Black Label Music with the “Black Label Music Bumper Reel” advertisement video trailer made by Jake Luck who introduces their new multimedia undertaking with the following insights:

Since the beginning of time, we have dreamt of flying free and soaring into the clouds. Day by day and night by night, Leisure Birds has worked to make that dream a reality. It’s called Zoom Lens, and its powered by every color of the rainbow.

Each track is crafted with yesterday’s finest synthesizers and recording technologies to bring you the sounds of our universe: from the outer-most stars to the inner-most brain waves; from the furthest desserts to the highest mountain peaks. Discover how wonderful it is to leave the noise, hustle, and bustle of the Earth far below.

Join Leisure Birds as they take you on an all access trip through science, math, history, leisure and beyond. The magic moment of flight has almost arrived.

Following up their much beloved album Tetrahedron (TGNP/Moon Glyph/The Great Pop Supplement), they join the rest of their Totaly Gross National Product label mates (aka Andrew Broder of FOG, Nona Marie Envie of Dark Dark Dark, RONiiA, Chris Bierden of Polica, Invisible Boy, & Makr of Marijuana Deathsquads, RONiiA) in working with Black Label Music’s artist in residency program that challenges artist to create music that pushes into a dimension other than our own. It is our pleasure & privilege at this time to encourage you to fasten your safety belts & harnesses, move your tray into the upright & locked position as we prepare for takeoff with the world premiere of the Leisure Birds videos for “Return Flight” & “Occult Cargo Freighter”. From here vintage media visions become transformed through analog & digital devices and means to transport your entire senses to a new state of being.

leisure birds cover 2 return-flight

“Return Flight” takes you on an unrestricted flight through the friendly skies, where Jake combines images that show off the past forty years of avian instruction & instructive videos where the conventions & coordination between pilots & control tower teams are seen juxtaposed with aerial photography. Constantly adding chromatic effects to the equation, Leisure Birds’ non-stop flight takes to new heights propelled by a dedicated team of aircraft experts & specialists. You can even hear the way the Birds bend & blend their own synthesizer sensibilities to match the throwback nature of the project where spliced sections of modern media becomes re-appropriated for new mediums of discovery & narrative depictions.

leisure birds cover 1 occult-cargo-freighter

“Occult Cargo Freighter” begins with the sound of bassoons met with synths as Leisure Birds take you to the shoreside with visuals pertaining to where the water meets the edges of earth. Shifting from sky to sea, the film moves from kids playing on the sands of the beach to world map footage of the seas patrolled by massive freighters. Given the cryptic nature of the track name and ominous electric organ delivery, all the ships seen sailing these rough seas and chopping waters have something of a mysterious quality to them. Recycled imagery of the sun glittering off the water’s surface is seen juxtaposed to footage of these megalithic tankers that float like ghost ships lead astray from their homeland harbors.

Catching up with the Leisure Birds; photographed by Jake Luck.
Catching up with the Leisure Birds; photographed by Jake Luck.