With the end of the year deluge of listicles dropping like rain, snow, and sleet; Impose’s Week in Pop winds 2014 down to the holiday stretch with the latest and greatest exclusives from both familiar and new faces. But first it is our civic pop culture duty to bring you some of the week’s top stories, with first the news about Lil B getting allegedly blocked by Facebook for the duration of 30 days; the inescapable Sony hack hype; D’Angelo released his first album in 15 years with Black Messiah; Jack White singles upholstered into couches emerge; Earl Sweatshirt talked to Mike Tyson; Blood Orange is rumored to be performing new material at LA’s Let’s Party NYE, DIIV bassist Devin Ruben Perez’s 4chan-gate; Young Jeezy cleared of weapons charges; Smith Westerns are on an ‘indefinite hiatus‘ according to frontman Cullen Omori; and we mourn the loss of legendary engineer John Hampton, and Big Star producer John Fry.
And now as we say goodbye to the trying year that was 2014 with great hopes for 2015 and onward; we are proud to present exclusives from Bogan Via, Jade TV, Lesionread, Tommy Toussaint, Blac Hollywood, Micah James, Pinecones, Post-Echo Records, SellOut! Records, co-curated by Girlpool, and more—in no particular order.
Arizona duo Bogan Via have been making garden bouquets of floral pop from their lauded Wait Up EP, subsequent remixes, touring with everyone from Deerhoof, Little Dragon, etc, bringing some holiday cheer with A Bogan Via Christmas Vol. 1, that recent posh video for “Gatsby“, and now bring further Yuletide wishes, with an announcement of new wonders that await in the new year. Premiering their new single “Madly” off the forthcoming EP of the same name; Bret William Bender and Madeleine Miller express an elaborate and unrestrained ethos of electronic dance kinesis, underscored by uncontrollable urges of unrelenting desires.
So for the title track of their new EP Madly; Bogan Via goes all out with the electronic stomp and plod rhythm machines on their biggest and slickest production yet. Bret and Maddie bring their glamorous charm to an update of vintage glam band rhythms, and new wave facelifts. These anachronisms are treated like fine retro threads that the two sew together into new audio shapes and textures. Bogan Via embrace the ultimate vanity and unyielding narcissism conceits of synth pop that is fitted with a new, refined sense of fashion and fresh audio adornments —illustrated in the gem stone punctuated production. “Madly” is the electronic heart-beating dance pop of total emotional abandonment fit for the clubs, arenas, festivals, and fashion week cat walks. Bogan Via join up with us for an interview, after the following debut:
What have you both been up to in this recent few years since the Wait Up EP?
Since the release we’ve been super busy. We went on a European tour, released a couple new music videos, and traveled to Mexico and Los Angeles. We’ve been fortunate enough to open for some really cool acts like Little Dragon, Twin Shadow, Glass Animals, Deerhoof, and Little Green Cars. We also went to New York for a week and recorded a new EP with Le Chev which we hope to release very soon.
How have these couple years impacted the two of you creatively?
We moved to Los Angeles shortly after Wait Up and are still very much getting used to living in such a chaotic town. Before recording the EP in New York we recorded over 20 demos in our apartment in LA. The common vibe turned out to be sort of a darker, more electronic version of our previous recordings. We hope that our upcoming EP “Madly” will have enough success so that we can record good versions of more of the demos for a full album. While in Europe we collaborated with the Danish artist Kirstine Stubbe formerly of blue foundation. That collaboration is on the forthcoming EP, which we are very excited about!
Can you tell us how your sensibilities to recording have shifted from Wait Up to the Madly EP?
We definitely had some different influences this time around. But one considerable difference is that we sought a producer that we were excited to work with. Collaborating with Le Chev was such a real treat and he really was the perfect match for us. We tend to pride ourselves on good songwriting and have no shame in admitting we don’t have the best ear for mixing. We still proudly work out of GarageBand for the simplicity and ability to get ideas down fast. So having his ears on our side definitely gave the songs that extra oomph.
The title track “Madly” is some of Bogan Via’s most brilliant, and brightest pop today. Has there been some kind of technology upgrade for you both when recording, or perhaps utilization of more elaborate studio trickery?
Thank you! As mentioned before we are still rocking GarageBand but we’re always picking up new synths and sounds along the way. Been loyal to the Minimonsta for awhile but have been exploring all sorts of fun vintage synth sounds in the last year. Always trying to push our sound in different directions.
What has the process of recording the new EP been like for you two?
We wrote and recorded all of the demos in our apartment. Most of the production is done on the computer and I have a nice mojave mic that we use to record our vocals. Over two years we wrote probably close to 100 songs, and the ones that stuck with us as the months went by were revisited and perfected.
What is the latest from Phoenix, AZ?
The AZ scene seems to be growing and growing. While it is an awesome place to learn your chops and have the freedom to play lots of shows, there really isn’t a strong foundation for getting bands to the next level. Our favorite az bands(gospel claws, roar, snake snake snakes) all have, in our minds, the talent to be huge stars. there just isn’t the money and music business formed here like there is in Los Angeles to shoot them to the next level.
Any Arizona indie artists we should be paying attention to?
This year we were excited for Lana del Rey’s new album, Ultraviolence. We loved Lorde’s debut album, we got into Banks, Washed Out, and really enjoyed First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold! There’s lots of others I’m sure but we are blanking right now.
Bogan Via’s favorite releases and/or tracks from 2014?
Our number one goal is to get the Madly EP out into the world and hopefully return to the studio to record the remaining songs we have! We would love to grab the attention of a label and embark on a national tour.
Bogan Via’s Madly EP will be available soon via Bandcamp.
We spent the past week corresponding with the multimedia artist/phenomenon, Lesionread, the brain child of artist Sean Louis (sometimes spelled Shawn Lewis), from Buffalo, NY. Creating art from mixed media to entertain new perspectives, Lesionread champions expressionist, new understandings of everything from gender fluidity, to flipping upside down the old modern notions of genre through a healthy stream of EPs and singles. Dabbling in visual media to performance/installation events, Shawn’s work asks for the audience’s participation, either through an interactive component, or through conundrums & questions asked by the conceptual designs. Signaling the upcoming release of Lesionread’s Greatest Hits. Vol. 1 album debut; we proudly present the world premiere of the “Art All Day $$$” video that stirs up a wicked satire about the real beggars banquet of so called starving-hunger-artists who expect everyone to give everything to their insatiable egos.
On Lesionread’s “Art All Day $$$”, the crowd sourced everything culture gets taken into the hyper free-play of images, symbols, and sound interplay of exploding the often derided entitled attitudes that have been all the hashtag-pundit hype of #2014. Everything starts off like so much of what we’ve seen already between the desperate Kickstarters, Indie Go-Gos, Go Fund Mes, and more; beginning with Shawn in her studio, surrounded by instruments, and musical devices. The camera interrupts the artist working diligently away on various media crafts, as Shawn sums up the headache that was 2014 with the fresh out of college conundrum to create art all day, popping crowd sourced question with the tongue in cheek satire of, “are you going to be pay for me to live?” And that is when Lesionread brings the home recorded experiments to the modes of underground Louisiana bounce that gets key bumped into a hyperactive-self-conscious happy-hardcore rhythm shower. Known for art pieces that involve the body suited ‘red man’ often worn by Lewis; overload imagery of dancing red men, rapid motion edits, and speedy effects blow the expectant demands of today’s arrogant aesthetes into the parody of overclocked oblivion; quicker than you can ask the song’s repeated rhetorical inquiry, “how am I s’possed to pay for me to live?” We discuss this, and more in our interview with Lesionread’s Shawn Lewis, immediately after the following debut of, “Art All Day $$$”.
What life events gave rise to the formation of the Lesionread vehicle?
Vehicle! [makes a ‘vroom vrooom’ engine revving sound] For most of my life I was sure I was going to be the next Frank Lloyd Wright or Zaha Hadid. I had the drive to impose (no pun intended) my vision and crazy buildings upon the world. In the summer of 2012 I lived in Tokyo studying with Atelier Bow Wow, the Japanese architecture firm that made the BMW Guggenheim Lab. While it was really inspiring to see how dedicated and hard working the head architect was, I couldn’t relate to him or his lifestyle. He never doodled, never wrote a poem about sex, or (I bet) even danced when he was all alone. That is when I realized that architecture isn’t something that you can just dabble in between other art forms — it’s an entire life’s work.
At that point in my development I found myself already putting most of my hours into weird music, photoshop art and music videos. So, I flipped it. I’ve been dedicating my life to this since I graduated university. The whole ‘music diva’ aspect of Lesionread is merely a method to provide a context for all my experiments and creations.
“Art All Day” is like a high-speed, digital overload of visuals, sounds, while taking the piss out of the whole starving artist meets the Kickstarter/Indie-go-go universes. How did you go about making both this track, and the corresponding visuals?
You nailed it with that description, thank you! But if anything, I’m making fun of myself. Seriously, how privileged of me to expect the public to just pay for my entire lifestyle so that I can make music videos like that one? Is my ‘art all day’ that valuable?
I have heard before about your search to find new ways to convey gender fluidity through your work, and wanted to know where for you do these constructs of gender and art intersect?
Specifically, it intersects during this interview when you refer to me as a she, but generally, it intersects every time any person witnesses challenging art in their lives. Each time, their opinions are subconsciously altered just a little bit, and all those little moments and expressions add up to change. I feel a type of responsibility to help change something for the better. It’s personal because I was also a feminine kid growing up, and stuff like gender fluidity always seemed like common sense.
In the indie world gender fluidity is alive and well in recent works from Holly Waxwing to Mykki Blanco. From name, to identity, to attitude, and more, it seems the old anachronisms that used to constitute gender conventions are a thing of the past for most that get it.
You introduced me to Holly Waxwing just now, so I looked him up and tweeted at her. No response yet. Speaking of attitude, to me, Mykki Blanco is the kind of artist that uses her persona as the art itself, and doesn’t necessarily rely on the music or lyrics by themselves.
Relevant art is about new perspectives, and we live in a place and time where pop culture is starting to realize that the straight white male’s perspective has been overdone. It is important to me to be flexible with this evolution of representations.
In a post-gender world, how do you feel the notion of gender fluidity is affected or perhaps liberated?
A post-gender world. That would be awesome, but I can’t even imagine it. A region or community, maybe… Is there even a single culture in human history that has no gender distinctions in any capacity?
Honestly this is the hardest question of this interview, how do I justify liberation and freedom without being redundant? I’ll put it this way, our culture has a chance to be more interesting, and diverse through gender liberation. Surely more new ideas will come from free thinking people, that makes the challenge worth while.
What can we expect from Lesionread’s Greatest hits Vol. 1?
Up until now, I’ve been releasing so many singles and EPs. This LP will be the collection of every color of the Lesionread spectrum; all the tried and true hits of the last four years. There isn’t a second of this that I’m not proud of. We got the fast songs, slow songs, love songs, rock songs, but with all the same kooky details that my fans have grown to love. This album also may or may not feature a Spotify ad (since I’m so indie, I can get away with that in my career right now).
Latest notes from the Brooklyn scene according to Lesionread?
Didn’t you hear? Brooklyn got gentrified…That’s why I live in Buffalo, NY. And let me tell you, it is 1,000,0000 times better, cooler and more ‘hip’ than Brooklyn is in 2014. All the young millennial artists that I know are moving here too. The rent/food is cheap, it’s in the middle of all these North/East cities for touring, and the underground DIY punk/noise/art scene is huge and dedicated. Any night of the week, there are two house shows you can bike to. My friend Dennis Maher just bought an old 9,500 square foot stone church from like 1910 for only 35K, now he’s making it into a big art installation. NYC is romanticized because of its population, and for good reason; don’t get me wrong, NYC is cool in that regard.
Favorite underground Brooklyn artists that the world hasn’t discovered?
Check out Jon Bap, Kristachuwan, Ay Fast, UVB-76, Steak & Cake, Sparklebomb, Young Stalin, Chauncey Tails, MoveRealFast;Stop!, Scajaquada Creeps, Bryan Johnson & Family, Aircraft, Sleepy Fucking Hahas, or Space Cubs.
Best of 2014? Worst of 2014?
Playing a gig with Mac Demarco and filming him poop was definitely a highlight, so was performing on Chicagogo to a bunch of four year olds.
I’ve been updating my website, I started a video blog where I film touring bands in front of green screens, I made 11 music videos, I released a bunch of material via flashdrives, and touring has been getting better every show. I love meeting new people and fans.
As far as other artists, Robin Thicke can go fuck himself in the corner, Pharrell too. Fuck Pharrell. That was this year, right? You’d think I’d be better about being on top of current music.
Obviously FKA Twigs blew it up this year, and from what I can tell it looks like she deserves it. I feel weird to act like Death Grips and tUnE-yArDs made the best albums of the year, but for whatever reason I listened to them by far more than any other bands. I was underwhelmed by St. Vincent and Aphex Twin, and although I am a huge fan nerd of Thom Yorke, his album didn’t really surprise me. I’m sure in a couple years I’ll have more refined opinions of the millions of other albums that came out this year that I haven’t let sunk in yet.
I love our generation because everything is current, updated and in the moment. We act as if every post we make on social media is down in the record book, when it kind of isn’t physical at all. I’d love to believe though, that a few hundred thousand years or so in the future, all our descendants will have to remember what 2014 was like only through our selfies.
Hopes for 2015?
In middle school after every summer break, I tried to come back as a new cool kid. Now that I’m older it feels like each step in maturity is more gradual and blurred that I eventually don’t know where it is anymore. 2014 was like a transitional year getting settled into this pattern of part time service job and running around Buffalo and Elmwood with red suits and GoPros.
2015 could be the first year I get a full band thing going. I think I’ll be able to support myself easier once other talented people and myself are mutually interested in a project. It’ll happen someday. Plenty of talented artists don’t find commercial success until they are in their 30s. Maybe that’s my story, who knows?
This next year I think I’d like to do more quiet, low key pop music. I started with loud noise punk stuff back in 2012 as a way to make an impression. I don’t feel like I have to do that anymore, in 2015 I can make more intimate soft synth tight beat stuff, and to continue to work on my singing voice. No matter what, I do know 2015 will be another crucial moment in the evolving chain, and I’m hella excited.
Celebrate NYE in Buffalo, NY with Lesionread at Nietzsche’s for a New Year’s Eve evening with with Aircraft, Equality Knowledge & Light, and The Tins. Check out all the details here via Facebook.
Also, watch Shawn’s hilarious interactive, gonzo-ish art piece titled, “Control the red man” that features Mr. Lewis in a red a suit who responds to the audience participation with the instructions of, hold walkie talkie six to twelve inches from face, and give the red man a command!
Lesionread’s Greatest Hist Vol. 1 will be available soon, hear more via Bandcamp.
These days, everyone is looking to create the next big thing in the electro crooner pop history books, and influential lineages. Emerging from Dent May’s Cats Purring collective out of his now iconic Mississippi ranch, get to know Tommy Toussaint, born Jesse Cahn Thompson, who presents the world premiere of “No Ordinary Thing” off his upcoming A Cool Kind of Love album from Chill Mega Chill. An artist whose global wanderlust is reflected through economic, precise and smart production choices, instrumental choices, and time arrangements that echo European late night revelry and the Toronto by London cleverness in making every single audio item count. From the artist who recorded his Computer Snacks EP in a monastery storage unit, Toussaint continues his cool kind of computer love talk in cooler degrees, and a higher resolution.
From the start, “No Ordinary Thing” shines brighter than the most prized diamond. Understated keyboards accompany Tommy’s testimonial that spills out those tortured tapestries of half-whispered sung privy exchanges. The depth, level, and intensity of feeling that Toussaint dishes out with debonair conviction can be heard onward from the point where he disarms all guards with, “I hope you know I want to be your everything.” Everything becomes turned up toward heightened circumstances where the risks taken are rewarded with cinematic moments reinforced by the rhythms and mood synths. “But the night was dead, you turned your head and said, ‘hey don’t go…” Nights and situations get turned around in what is no ordinary bond, or song, as every expression is underlined and highlighted in the boldest, but best calculated crescendo of heart, soul, and software. Following the debut of “No Ordinary Love”, enjoy our discussion with Tommy Toussaint, oka Jesse Cahn Thompson.
Interested in hearing about what sort of challenges, and triumphs that were involved during the making of your first album, A Cool Kind of Love…what was the experience like of gathering together a string of songs to further illustrate your own personal lover’s rock style?
It was fulfilling to finally put together a full album—even if it is only seven songs. There were around 20 songs I made during that span. It was like sewing a hundred-foot quilt with thousands of tiny strands of fabric to sift through. I got good an being honest with myself. The whole process was about honesty.
Some challenges: I didn’t really have a set work space. I had just moved across the country to LA when I started recording. I used my bedroom closet in my first apartment in Hollywood, which is sort of becoming a theme—I recorded my last EP in the storage closet of a Abbey in Newark, NJ. I finished this at my kitchen table in Venice, CA and in an empty casting office in Marina Del Rey.
Some triumphs: I think the biggest part of this process was discovering a more consistent voice—or at least attempting to discover it. I shed a lot of layers. I have spent a lot of time supporting other people creatively, so this was sort of new to me. It’s not that I didn’t have a sense of it before, but it’s really at the forefront for me now. I also made a lot of headway with production. This album was just scratching the surface production-wise, which has me really excited about sharing my next batch of songs.
How did you first discover your inner songwriter, voice, and producer?
I’m always in pursuit of my authentic voice, and I’m learning to be really hard on all the noise that can clog up that process. It’s that ever-evolving discovery that keeps the creative process rolling for me. I wrote my first song when I was six years old with my grandfather. It was about wanting to be a traveler. As far as producing goes, it’s just grown over time out of my desire to be creatively self sufficient and a long-standing fascination with sound and mood.
Earliest remembered favorite artist for you?
I guess Elvis Presley. My dad wanted to name me Elvis. My mom shot it down, but he bought me a bunch of Elvis on vinyl when I was a little kid. My first headphone music—I think En Vogue or Boyz II Men.
Who are some of the lesser sung artists today that you really dig?
It’s really hard for me to sort through all the media outlets these days to have a real sense of who is getting what attention, and there’s so much talent—it’s crazy. I really dig the new Katie Rush album and Sam Mehran’s other work like Outer Limits Recordings…
Having listened to bits of the new album, songs like “Hold Cell”, “Different Directions” and “No Ordinary” all seem to operate in accordance to their own designs and mix arrangements, where you can visualize you, the artist really creating according to your own rules. What sorts of creative methods do you employ for the writing and recording processes?
Before I started using the computer as my main instrument, I used to start with melody work from there, but now I start with framework and build from the ground up. Eventually the room starts taking on its own mood and shape, color and tone. It’s fun working with the structure of pop music too, because it’s such a tight framework. You have to become a really good editor I think. Eventually a song develops its own melodic voice, so I just try to listen innocently and not get in the way too much.
How do you translate the heart-tethered feelings into song and sound
By getting out of the way and doing my best to not over-think things. I’m not really that good at that in day to day life, so making music is sort of my reprieve.
2015 post release plans for Tommy Toussaint?
I’m getting ready to play my first show with this project—super excited about that. I hope to start performing a lot more again, but I’m just going to take that as it comes. I’m producing a friend’s album, which i’m pretty psyched about. I’m already in the midst of recording my next album, and I have a few collaborative sound installations planned, one taking place in Austin during SXSW.
Tommy Toussaint’s new album A Cool Kind of Love album will be availale January 5 from Chill Mega Chill Records.
From the Indianapolis and Grand Rapids spectrum of scenes, James Allen of SELF, Youth Camp, Jimmy Pop, etc, is now Jade TV, debuting the cozy-consciousness of “Dream”. Releasing his album Parallel Moments on Jurassic Pop (the indie imprint that has brought us gifts this year from Nowhere, Plateau Below, and more), James delivers heart drawn visions that cover the moments, views, leaving everything and nothing, while remember every forgotten essence of change. Jade TV sends out analog and digital signals that convey the most sleepy, and sentimental thoughts that play about the waking mind before falling asleep—and upon waking.
For those that understand, and know all too well the cold, snowbound winters that descend upon the Midwest at this time of year; the debut of Jade TV’s “Dream” falls like the flakes of cold, frozen dew that plays upon the window of a well heated cabin. The sign of well adept dream pop mastery is always in the interplay of how the guitar and keyboards correspond to each other, their relationship to the vocals, rhythm sections, and so on. The glistening soft wave of synthesizers work like the tarmac for Allen’s guitar planes to safely land with fog lamps gently engaged to peer thoughtfully through the cloudy, early morning skies. The mix at times provides a silk-smooth cocoon around James’ vocals that lift like walking voices rising out the hibernation season’s soundful state of rest. For more insights into the world of Jade TV, our discussion with James Allen begins right after our listen to, “Dream”.
Having recorded material under various names, what prompted the name Jade TV?
The project was called Youth Camp in its early incarnation. My inspiration and ambition for the band had changed a lot since it first started, and I decided to change the name. I changed it to Self, a name that seemed to embody a lot of themes from the newer songs. It turns out there is a band with that name that has been around for a while. Their lawyer contacted me, and I had to change the name again. I was rushed to come up with a name, and Jade TV just sounded nice.
“Dream” embodies the very essence of what dream pop guitars and compositions are all about. What sort of dreams inspired this song?
When I first wrote the song, I called it “Dream Babe”. The song is about someone who appeared to me in a dream. This very innocent encounter with the dream-person really impacted me. I figured the name “Dream Babe” was too boyish, so I shortened it.
Can you describe for us the correlating moments that laid the groundwork down for your album, Parallel Moments?
I guess Parallel Moments was inspired a lot by a tarot reading given to me by a friend. It really made me think of my friendships and relationships, and all the common threads between them. That may be the best I can explain it.
How do you describe your own personal composition methods and processes that you employ?
I wrote and played everything on the album. There’s nothing really unique about the way I write music. I’ll usually write the guitar parts first and then add everything else later. Most of the album was written and recorded at the place I was living in Grand Rapids over the summer.
What can we expect from Jade TV in 2015?
I am currently writing and demoing the next album, and working with a few different labels on releasing some exclusive tracks in the next few months!
Jade TV’s Parallel Moments is available now from Jurassic Pop Records.
This year we got to know the young South Carolina label Post-Echo, who gave us notables like Concord America, Devereaux, and more, and today we premiere the imprint’s 2014 retrospective playlist; Soundcheck 2014. In our recent conversations with the label’s Justin Schmidt, he described their devotion to covering the lesser heard and known corners and crannies of the Southeast in the following discussion with him, and co-founder Franklin Jones:
We put together a year-end playlist of key tracks from our 2014 releases, including songs from Concord America and Devereaux, as well as other similarly great acts on the label such as indie-folkers Cancellieri and Dear Blanca, as well as glitchy electronic groups like We Roll Like Madmen. It’s not only a great summation of our year of releases, but also a window into the often-overlooked indie scene in the Southeast. Post-Echo is based in South Carolina, where most of these artists call home. We’ve done our best to help develop artists whose music doesn’t always sound emblematic of what most people expect from the region, but is nonetheless representative of a vibrant and incredibly talented underground southern indie scene. I’ve relocated to NY since helping found the label, but I still think that these bands sound just as relevant to folks up here as down south.
Here’s some basic label boiler-plate: Post-Echo was launched in September 2011 by Justin Schmidt and Franklin Jones. In the past three years, the label has released a collection of over 25 albums as well as various interactive multimedia projects featuring music from their artist roster (Drift, Passage). To date, the Post-Echo roster includes Devereaux, Pan, Dear Blanca, Concord America, We Roll Like Madmen, Cancellieri, People Person, JFS, Parlour Tricks, and a variety of other visual artists and collaborators. Each Post-Echo release is available to be pressed as a made-to-order 10″ record as part of Future-Proof, allowing fans to essentially create their own mixed vinyl of any tracks released on the label.
Franklin also talked about the label’s eclectic nature, and more on the end-of-year comp.
What I find most exciting about Post-Echo is the diversity of sounds within the artist roster. Each of these bands is obviously capable of standing on their own. But diversity can generate a momentum that flows from artist to artist on each respective release. This creates a palpable energy over the course of a year and something like Soundcheck 2014 really drives it home.
What are some of your thoughts about the perspective of being a young imprint from the Southeast, and what do you make of the local southern facets that the rest of the world often misses out on?
Justin: One thing that people in our online-centric world sometimes forget is how much the growth of a band can really be dependent on the real-world resources and opportunities in their community. Outside of major music markets, the web of venues, local media, blogs, radio stations, and arts organizations is not always as closely connected, or even readily apparent. There are fewer spotlights to try and step into, and as a local label we very quickly learned that doing publicity ourselves was going to be essential. On the positive side, those local and regional outlets often are staffed with very cool, dedicated people who are passionate about music and approachable.
Further notes on how Post Echo got established, where’s it’s been, and where it’s going?
Justin: We knew we wanted to produce records as well as take some creative risks on less traditional multimedia projects, but it took a while to figure out exactly what our approach was going to be. We didn’t exactly have a big coming-out party one night. There was a long phase of ‘throwing ideas against a wall and seeing what sticks’, which honestly is still a large part of how we do things. One of the upsides to that way of operating is that it definitely inspires an environment where creativity is prioritized. We’re always on the lookout for projects that offer our artists a chance to do new tracks, remixes, collaborations, and so forth, in addition to their regular releases.
We end up basing our schedule around accommodating as many projects as we can and try to let the artists’ creative process guide or next move. For example, Cancellieri released his excellent full-length Welcome to Mount Pleasant this year. It went through the release cycle, but almost immediately afterwards he had another batch of songs ready to go; a more subdued and acoustic collection, Closet Songs. A larger label may have wanted to put that on hold and go into reset mode before putting that out, and maybe dress it up a bit more as a standalone thing, but from the artists’ standpoint this was a companion piece to Mount Pleasant, so we decided to let it ride. It wasn’t a textbook plan, but it emphasized the artistic character of where the artist was coming from – and that should always be the priority.
Visit Post-Echo for more.
We last talked to Vancouver’s Cephas Munga, aka Blac Hollywood last year after the release of the Audrina Rose EP, and today we catch up in a discussion over his new single, “Texas 64”. Experimenting with creating a vertical scrolling abyss, Hollywood slaps metallic barrel bass and new-gen goth inflections to frame the story of a time-wasting ‘Plain Jane.’ The fallout response is heard from Cephas’s reaction that works in flabbergasted dramatics, delivering a super emotional denouncement that mends the hurt with subtle humor like, “I want to call you names, but you never want to call me back.” Productions and styles bend deep down into the styles of Southern Texas trap styles, that are decorated with an ambitious, expressive aesthetic-ethic found amongst Vancouver, and the rest of Canada’s prolific pockets of indie communities. Following the listen to the new single “Texas 64″/ check out our latest discussion with the man behind Blac Hollywood:
Bring us up to date since the release of the Audrina Rose EP—How has your fashion pop style evolved since then do you feel?
I wouldn’t say it’s evolved, I would say it’s just in the embryonic stages. At the time of Audrina Rose, I was leaving behind the idea of just being a beat producer/DJ. I always knew that type of path had a cap on it. Also, nobody was rapping or singing on my beats. They all kept saying they were too weird. So the only thing left was to pony up and sing, or, do whatever it is you call what I do on my own beats. I had to take the driver seat like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and stop looking for another thirsty rapper to be in the limelight off my beats.
Tell us the story behind your new glamor pop cut, “Texas 64”, and what significance does Texas, the year, 1964 has had on you?
The story behind the song wasn’t a difficult concept because as with anything you are making that is personal and true to yourself, it’s a reflection of where I was at the time. I had been hanging out with a girl who I was lustful for, but as we kept hanging out and talking she revealed herself to be a time wasting, Instagram-scrolling bimbo, basically a ‘Plain Jane.’ It wasn’t even that she liked to waste time doing nothing, that I don’t mind, I can waste an hour and a half on Netflix and watch Master of Disguise and think nothing of it, unfortunately it was the fact that she kept letting me down on small things friends should do for one another, as a person chasing dreams and passions I didn’t have time to surround myself with her.
In regards to Texas, I’m just infatuated with the culture from the South. Anyone who knows me knows I like dirty trap music and N64 cartridges covered in cough syrup. Sixty-four means more to me than just video games though, it relates to an amazing time for rock music. After listening to garage and pop rock hits from the 60’s I started producing my own electronic representations of their sounds. Craving more I moved all the way up to contemporary artists like Nirvana; I wanted to fuse rap instrumentation with rock while blending in my love for fashion and runway music. When the grunge of nirvana meets the clean lines of high fashion you’re left with nothing more than High Trash.
What’s the latest from the Vancouver scenes?
The latest thing going for Vancouver right now are snobby rich girls who smirk at me when I dress better than them. On a side note though, I have teamed up with two standout filmmakers Jonathan Contreras-Whitney and Jamie Enns. Jonathan has been my creative director for the last two years, he’s like my Batman double from an alternate universe. The two of them and I are going to work on a video for my latest project since. It’s been in the making for a year while I’ve taken a hiatus of just making music. I think now, more than ever, I have to release it.
What’s next for Blac Hollywood?
Working, growing, sweating, bleeding, perspiring over this music stuff. I have to keep going so I can bring my mom a cheque that has more than 2 zeros on it. As an artist my confidence has grown and the projects that are in the works are finally coming out and I think that is the most exciting thing about everything right now. Coming out in February will be the project where “Texas 64” resides on called “Drowning is Silent”. As for now, the people can peep a winter beat tape I just released called “Bisou Magique” on my Soundcloud.
Listen to more from Blac Hollywood via Soundcloud.
Following up their live EP, Athens by Atlanta’s Pinecones are preparing their debut album Pinecones Sings For You Now for Arrowhawk Records. Tentatively slated for release in March/April 2015; the band boasts heavy hitters with guitarist-vocalist, Bo Orr, and Crater’s Brain Atom also guitar, channeling the grindcore and punkier edges of slacker doom drone sounds.
For the performance based video for Pinecones’ “Sleep Is Forget” shot by Dorothy Stucki; the band performs inside a human body courtesy of the Plastic Aztecs Art Collective. Watch as Pinecones ride the groovy riff waves of droning, lazy day loops of droning chords that cater to the conscious components of awakened and deep sleep states. As the group gets as weird as they want to, Bo and the boys rock around their environment of human organ representations; interspersed with drawn images etched onto all the action. We had a chance to catch up with Bo Orr in the discussion, following the video.
Describe for us the process of recording Sings For You Now on April 1, and resurrecting it on Good Friday to add more to the mix.
We brought our songs and charms into the studio. The songs we recorded Live and mostly First Take. The charms from the Shrine were encouraging us to do our best. When morale started to slump we brought in the “Studio Whistler” George Davidson to lay some saxophone down. Then once again we were invincible.
Good Friday represents Sacrifice and the eventual Resurrection. On that day we rolled away the stone and our songs were gone. We found them again in a new light where we added Ebow and the occasional Distortion.
You have mentioned in the self-described poem about Pinecones the search for “other worldly ways”, and a professed love for existentialist champions like Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman. Where do you find these ephemeral notions intersect with what you call the groups’ “invisible song harvest from hammered word, ritual grin through electrified chords, repetition in search of devotion, rock n roll themes repeating, very simple guitar rock music?”
We are playing the music of Walt Whitman’s words. Not just Walt, any poem that resonates. What does a feeling sound like? Aim for that, put it in your guitar.
Describe how the scenes of Athens and Atlanta have impacted Pinecones.
We are influenced more by the landscape of Georgia itself than the musical scene. Georgia Clay, Y’all, Boiled Peanuts, Sweet Tea, Kindness of Strangers, Summer Time, Magnolia Trees, Pine Trees, Parks, Kudzu, and Woods.
Between previous work in Dead in the Dirt to Brain Atom’s Crater; how do you find that these experiences have informed Pinecones sound?
None. We have culled our own sound from this specific friendship.
2015 plans, hopes, and post-release celebration events you care to share?
In no Particular Order
1. Feel Great
2. Play more songs
3. Every Day is a Celebration (this also answers question #2)
4. Record “I Hear You” (APRIL FOOLS DAY?)
5. LETS GO ON TOUR AGAIN
6. Sing For you Next
Other undiscovered, or lesser known artists you want to give a shout out to?
SHADE plays real music from ATHENS GEORGIA
Outer Spaces is True from BALTIMORE MARYLAND
Gnarwhal scrambles you from NASHVILLE TENNESSEE
We bring you Northern Reexposure, from the Oslo imprint SellOut! Music who are celebrating their tenth year anniversary with the following compilation that features cuts from Torkelsen, Snasen, Safariari, Violet. This retrospective compilation creates something new out of something old, as label boss André Ishak explains:
We asked several artists that we work with to make new tracks based out on samples from our very first release: Kenneth Ishak – Northern Exposure. A lofi indie pop record by Beezewax’s and Heyerdahl’s lead singer, who also mixed Torkelsen’s second album Sattellittskygge and Snasen’s upcoming debut album. He also plays drums in Torkelsen’s live band with Robin Snasen on bass and label owner André on keyboards. And he produced Hiawata!s second album. He’s also André’s brother, and André has a new project called Trofé with Torkelsen, in addition to his Texten project. We could go on and on describing the way we’re all connected, but let’s just say that we’re all a big family and this is how we show it to the world.
The adventure begins with Pandreas’ call to gathering on “Don’t turn this down the isle”, to the sparse synth swirls of Violet Dream’s incredible music for the spirit and most sacred parts of the soul on, “Leisure”. Snasen delivers the crispy, caramelized suite of “Karamellen”, with Benjamin Finger audio collage of fleeting hopes via “Hopeless”, with the natural commute of Torkelsen “Nattbuss”, to the ambient ebb of Texten’s “Oh no”, closing with Safariari’s jubilant jubilee of free forming, and floating aural spectral of “You”. Christmas arrives early, courtesy of your indie electro Norwegian friends.
Northern Reexposure is available now from SellOut! Music.
Also on the West Coast rise, check out the ultra raw work of Micah James, spilling guts, blood, and harrowing stark tales of caution (and the lack their of). Seen recently playing a bunch of shows around LA with our new buddy D.Win; the current talk circles around the elaborate, strange future styles of the loquacious “Said 2 Much”, as visualized from director Nathan Kim and Spencer Lee. Further listening should check out the artist’s Bandcamp, and join us after the viedeo for our interview with Micah.
How did you find your inner voice as an artist, Micah?
I don’t know that I’ve completely found my voice as an artist. I feel like I’m just constantly chipping away old chunks of myself. Like always. So in that regard, I guess there’s a clear picture, but only for a second. A short grain. It makes working on music a less heavy concept if I think of things this way.
Dig your production styles, do you do most of your own soundscapes or do you have your own crew of DJs or guest producers?
I create most of the music. A lot of patchworking [sic] and splicing and some original pieces. Even if I just flat out jack another beat it’s done intentionally, specifically. I feel strong in the sounds I choose to go with the voice and words. I’m starting to work with other people which is exciting. And scary. Hard to trust someone else is capable of getting hit with your shit in the right place. But that’s all about control and I don’t want to control how someone sees me, or anything really. So yeah, um, bring on the collabs!
What are some of your own creative approaches to rhyme, rhythm, and sound?
I guess it starts somewhere innate. Rhythm. I have a good sense of it, but in a backwards way. Like someone bobbing their head down-to-up. The feeling is there but the relationship is different. That effects the way you hear a beat and how you rhyme over it. I think drummers and beat makers are some of the best musicians, especially as vocalists. They find all the pockets where sound should go. That’s something I aim for. As far as writing, the approach is just to tell a story. Maybe not a narrative, exactly. But something that feels like a tiny reveal of who I am with every song. I don’t like to tell people what they should do, ’cause that’s just counterproductive, but I will write something that focuses on a central figure and allow them to express my opinion for me (or lack thereof). Shit’s always undulating, I suppose.
Tell us about the making of the rad video for “Said 2 Much”, and the wandering words that inspired it.
The initial idea for the video came from my friend Umar. He saw this simple coronation sequence that culminated with me being crowned king. I liked that a lot and decided to turn it up a notch and create this storyline between this cloaked, shrouded king figure and this flower-faced jester, his inner voice. The flowers are trying to destroy the darkness; the voice demanding the body’s attention. Our main guy is a ruler but reluctant. Leading this crew of homies but to what? He sits on a throne that he doesn’t feel deserving of. Flower face comes in as the true self, the warrior who knows who he is and where he’s going. Or maybe not where but knows he’s going. Moving. Changing. Eventually, the king realizes who he is and can take off the gloomy feel.
The song was written over a year ago, at a time when I didn’t know how to get back into music in a way that felt right. The lyrics are personal and sort of describe this scatterbrained feeling I was having regarding music, my life, my perceived potential and what I was willing to demand of myself. It’s all over the place but with this kind of cloud that eventually builds to the point where all I can say is “I’m great”. That’s the resolve. How do you feel? I’m great. How’s your writing coming? I’m great. It’s not really so much an opportunity to brag as it is a moment of calm. Like, everything is fine, don’t trip.
That’s cool that you are tight with Daniel, aka D.Wing. You mentioned you guys have been playing a bunch of shows around LA, was wondering if you guys got any kind of creative, collaborative business in the works?
D.Wing is so dope and I’m so excited that we’re growing together as friends and collaborators at the same time that we’re learning about ourselves and our music, individually. He’s got an ill approach to sound and it just pulls you in until you’re hypnotized. It’s very emotional and inescapable. His voice is sweet like in the most non-invasive way. Not begging to be loved. Just asking. Proud but affectionate. It’s weird. We’re working on some songs together that will be ready in the new year. It’s very cute+.
Other great underground LA artists that you want to give a shout out to?
I want to give a musical shout out to J*Davey, specifically Brook D’Leau who is such a visionary it’s terrifying. Hadyn is really super cool. Like a super pretty, well-dressed white guy who makes the rawest gutter beats. Maestro KKG is still my favorite emcee in the world. Gemini7 are really smart sound collectors. Bombay Da Realest is a genius, pure and simple. Ro Blvd and co. are up to some cool stuff. I don’t know what’s up with MagicJordan. Waiting on Otis Echidna to send me some more beats, too. LA is super cool right now and forever.
Listen to more from Micah via Bandcamp.
The latest from the King Pizza Records family is the album and first tape from The Jeanies. Bettina from KPR HQ refers to them with the following: “They’re just…pure sweet power pop.” From the opening number, “I Seen Her Dance” to the closer “Gotta Get Back To Judy”; Joey, Dylan, John, and John shake the kind of kicks that check off the nuances of all those expensive vintage records that power pop heads rap on forever about. Not to be missed.
John Carpenter is releasing Lost Themes Digital Deluxe album on Sacred Bones February 3, featuring remixes from Zola Jesus, Blanck Mass, and more, sharing the cyclone cinematic head twister, “Vortex”.
With new tapes from our pals at NNA Tapes, we bring you cuts from the likes of avant-gardists VaVatican and their wild, room spinning instrumental, “I Love You (Dora Lee) pt 1”, from the tape of the same name available now.
Next on the NNA Tapes list, check out Sediment Club rock and roll pulverizer, reducer, and ruler; “Rotten Roll”. Austin Julian, Lazar Bozic, and Jackie McDermott unleash a frightening noise off their freshly released cassette, 30 Seconds Too Late. Listen as chaos and art are forged into one as identity is cast into nebulous dimensions amid shouts of, “I am a hologram, a hologram, a hologram…”
Fresh from our recent conversation, we have Coultrain’s new single, “The Reintroduction” from the forthcoming, Side Effex Of Make Believe; divided for love’s sake available December 21 from Fresh Selects. The new cut from the Aaron M. Frison ongoing story of his Seymour ‘meta’ character goes up against uncertain odds, dangerous liaisons, and in this case an acapella, acoustic fairy-tale that only Coultrain could ever create.
Following up our recent conversation with Rain Phoenix and Frally Hynes of Venus and The Moon, share the video for their Manimal single “Hungry Ghost” that features interpretive dance motions to translate the potency and power of the lyrics, and the sincere swing of strings. Furthermore, there is a contest for fans to make their own one shot videos dancing to “Hungry Ghost”, and post it via the usual channels of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the hashtag#VATMHungryGhost by January 1. Winners will be chosen by Rain and Frally, where merriment, prizes, and more will be awarded.
As we continue to the mourn Glasslands amongst other Brooklyn DIY outposts, we feel you should check out the mix that Glass Gang made for i-D with, “Music To…Play at Glasslands at 3am”. Featuring cuts from Deadboy, Jamie xx, John Hopkins, Lee Bannon, and more, with the Gang mentioning this about the mix: “These are all tracks we DJ’d one late night at Glasslands earlier this year after Mø played. Or acts we saw play there. RIP.”
Sharing a little love, why not a holiday’s hug from the Los Angeles Police Department? Well we got just the thing, with a listen to “Oh Lonely Night” from LAPD who provide one with for Christmas pop canon. Good job, folks.
With an album coming later in 2015, check out Omniflux’s “Lawless Flawless”, the infectious electro odyssey adventures crafted from Tehran by LA artist, Mahsa Zargaran. Known for her drum work in Sabrosa Purr, those rhythmic understandings become translated into a personal world where laws and flaws hold no pertinence, nor jurisdiction.
Off the Solarispellis LP from InFiné, watch the first installment of the electro-cosmic-trilogy from Arandel in the new, brave frontiers of “Solarispellis, Part I” directed by Julien Carot, and featuring Gilles Degivry.
Australia’s Syre & Fresko released their Gonna See Miracles EP this past week, and we have the title track here for your enjoyment. The duo make the kind of electrified feelings of laying in fields of grass, and weeds while watching the patterns that emerge from the expansive skies; looking for answers… looking for a miracle somewhere.
As if you didn’t know that the Diamond District already meant business, Jonwayne had to come on in and give him his own shake and twist with his remix of “I Mean Business”.
And with March on Washington Redux available from Mello Music Group, get a listen to all the bonus cuts, and remixes from heroes like Doppelgangaz, Apollo Brown, 14KT, Quelle Chris, L’Orange, Oh No, and still many more notables. This might be the best remix joint your hear all year.
And here to wish you a happy, and healthy holiday are Deep Cuts with “Advent Ansiedad”. The yuletide joys spin like one of those whirlpool washers that spin the wash in a swath of sound, vibes, and other gifts.
Following Spazzkid’s debut album Desire, and the Promise EP; producer Mark Redito is joined this time by K-Pop chanteuse, Neon Bunny, on the single, “Daytime Disco” that brings the Jersey beat to the shores of LA. Available now on digital from the beautiful folks at Cascine; sun rays of synths act like the bubble jets from penthouse jacuzzis situated at the most plush lofts you can begin to imagine.
In further Cascine news; we admit we are late to the party, but have fallen head over heels for Gothenburg loves School 94 (formerly School), with the love note that is their Like You EP. The quartet lead by Alice Botéus breaks through the gates of the best 90s and 80s indie compact discs from the get-go of the opening title track, to the beckoning call of, “Head Over Here”, the sweet dream pop aura on, “Hang Out In Haze”, the atmospheric high rising “Clouds Aside”, the post-punk dreams departures and dreams of “So Long”, to the firework bursts on the closing gem-hymn; “Easier”. Prepare to fall in love with your 90s/ 80s self all over again. Like You is available now from Cascine/Luxury.
This past year, Craft Spells released Nausea via Captured, Bilinda Butchers released their debut album, Heaven on Orchid; both bands enjoyed an early epic 2014 summer tour together, and are now poised to conquer 2015 with a massive tour that begins at San Francisco’s Noise Pop festival February 2 at the Great American Music Hall, and runs through February 28 at Neumos in Seattle. There is also a contest in the works happening now through the February 13 deadline where fans can remix the glorious “Nausea” title cut from the original stems, via the official Craft Seplls website. In the meantime, listen to Justin Vallesteros and the gang covering The Microphones’ “I Felt Your Shape”. The intrinsic, psychic natures of feeling, and knowing become surrendered into an illuminated world that Vallesteros, and friends continuously summon in throughout their work.
For further listening from Craft Spells, we just caught this new recording titled, “I Guess You’re Busying Staying Sane”, that features those mind drifting guitars and rhythm progressions that lead thoughts down the “thinking about your” reminiscent roads, wishing old friends, pen-pals, and lovers the very best of winter’s wealth, and above all, health.
Playing NYC’s Nublu on January 17; Brooklyn’s Tomboy released the Maria Burns video for “Moths” that drapes Sarah Aument and Will Shore in b/w tones of darkness, and the void of light. Read our interview with Tomboy’s Sarah and Will here.
Vision Fortune presents the self-shot video for their new single, “Dry Mouth” off their forthcoming Country Music album from ATP. Watch as hypnotic chants, and mantras are set to a camera pointed upward in march that continues forward with vision afixed firmly toward the sky’s ceiling.
“Slip” through the sensations, and pop dialects of necessitated needs on Canopy Climbers’ new single from their forthcoming EP, Fever. Having premiered their earlier single “Secret“; those whispers fly from lips, and through the air, to the ears of the intended through a sentimentally drenched production.
Hear Tonik Ensemble’s new-new in chamber treats, with “Until We Meet Again”, the first single from main man Anton Kaldal Ágústsson’s upcoming album Snapshots, available February 10 from Atomnation. Somewhere between the vibraphones, Anton’s vocal tones, and the restrained tilt-a-whirl of the organ; the winter suddenly feels a little more comfortable, a little softer, a little sweeter, a little kinder, with a never ending longing for something/someone.
Check out UK four piece Citizens! on their “Lighten Up” single directed by Focus Creeps that features an interactive component for the listener/viewer that can be experienced here. Otherwise, enjoy the semi-static but super slick rock, roll, and electric rhythm from these four blokes.
From the EP of the same name, watch the fancy Stein-Ivar Mollestad video for “Uncomfortable”, from Norway’s Sigrid Zeiner. Reflection, recoiling, and retreating from sticky situations play out in a super-pop ballad of after-effects of aftermaths. While the whole scenario plays out, a masquerade dinner party mixes the not-so discreet lifestyles of the bourgesie with dinner theater of the absurd.
Heard recently debuting her single “Pop Dream”, and interview feature; check out the electro orr for the ears and mind with Lilly Wolf’s new single, “Moving Pictures”. Wolf takes the privy notes, and electronic musical scores and magnifies them to the level of dreams displayed through the digital projectors of cineplexes.
Peep the Russell Cramer video for the single “Around” off Emergency Tiara’s recently released debut EP Until the Stroke of Midnight. Like pagan rites of spring, and signaling of new solstices; get ready to go around, and around with the fashion pop princess, and her dance troupe posse of Desiree Yard, Heather Liposky, Karina Roytman, Kasumi Tanifuji, and Mary-Angela Granberry. Suddenly the boredom and mind-numbing minutiae of winter melts away into the dawning of a new spring.
Should your holiday need an addition of weirdness wilder than the spiked egg nog you’re sipping, then check out Blue Cast Catalyst’s strange retrograde romp, “Mercury”. Complete with a video collage of all kinds of archival images, the contemporary conditions is seen through the media lens of human and animal kingdom power struggles, amid synthesized, psychedelic sounds.
Girlpool’s Week in Pop
To say that Girlpool had a banner year would be an understatement; as they may have saved 2014 from itself. Releasing their lauded self-titled, a tour split, taking over Impose’s Instagram, and winning 2014—we now proudly present Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad’s co-curation of Week in Pop:
Fraternal Twin, “July (Turn Around)”
The Goodbye Party, “Heavenly Blues”
Radiator Hospital, “Down Again”
Wizard Apprentice, “Aguas De Marco”
Wizard Apprentice, “Aguas De Marco”
Mammary, November 2009
Duster, “Gold Dust”
Pram, “Penny Arcade”
Alex G, “Change My Mind”
Charanjit Singh, “Raga Bairagi”
Radiator Hospital, “A Game of You”
Follow Girlpool via Twitter.