Between the headlines and news pages of festival follies and geo-political apocalypse coverage, Impose’s Week in Pop presents a separate section promising choice selections from today and tomorrow’s indie champs. But as we remained committed to keeping our dear readers and listeners informed, this week we saw Ariel Pink chatting it up in bed with Alexi Wasser about getting maced in the face by a feminist, Kanye conquering in court the Coinye virtual currency made in his likeness, Pussy Riot suing the Russian authorities (yeah, good luck with that, dear comrades), Nicki Minaj’s now notorious and incendiary artwork for her “Anaconda” single, ‘Sad Jack White‘ throwing an opening pitch for the Detroit Lions, R. Kelly apparently not playing Ohio’s Fashion Meets Music Festival, Primus paying to Willy Wonka on upcoming reunion album, Timbaland working with Missy Elliott and talking of releasing “game-changing” new single, and finally, we really ought to say, “screw it,” and just give the ol’ Mozzer his own fuggin’ gossip section already at this rate.
But moving on over, and rolling away the proverbial stone — we present you a host of brand new exclusives from Lowercase Letters, Junkboy, The Rich Hands, Island Boy, Redinho, Modern Time Machines, co-curations courtesy of Crystal Ghost, and more — in no particular order.
Direct from the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., introduce yourself to Lowercase Letters, who present the world premiere of their “Hook-Up Fee” remix. Starting out releasing a slew of Beach House, AC/DC, MJ, and Tata Vega covers, “Hook-Up Fee” and the remix sees the D.C. group finding a sound of their own amid their local eclectic circuits of scenes. Lowercase Letters’ signature becomes defined and created through a cohesion of playfulness, sultry situations, danger, and discovery. Alphie anchors the action in her lead vocals of satin and spiked punch, with bass curations courtesy of Clinton Cool, while the production powerhouse and beat considerations are compliments of John Beckham. Combining powers like a superhero faction force, Lowercase Letters keeps the capital lands fun.
Originally recorded for an art show curated by Island/Def Jam art director Alex Haldi called “The Glorification of Gangster”, noir movie elements, smoky parlor sounds are mixed with eras of the classic and contemporaneous, like trading old fashioneds for Manhattans. The stripped down, slow and sparse nature of the original is turned up and treated with care, where opportunities for maximalist temptations are traded in an effective and precise process of amplifying certain stems while omitting others. Alphie’s voice turns the blackjack and poker tables over where that upscale speakeasy lounge gets upgraded to the VIP section, where new verses point to promises of future albums and mixtapes. Alphie introduces the “Hook-Up Fee” affair with a memorable “ha ah ha ah” over JB’s bold pronounced rhythmic production overhaul, and Clinton definitely deserves some credit for cooking up these psych chords amid an ambiance of idle chatter. Join us following the premiere for a fun look inside the world of Lowercase Letters.
Tell us about starting off doing Beach House covers and more in D.C., then coming into your own thing with your work on the Glorification of Gangster Soundtrack.
Our friend and amazing engineer/producer Kyle Downes who worked with us on the full length suggested we do the Beach House track, so we did. Of everything we’ve recorded, this happened the most naturally and easily – it was essentially a session for tracking the instrumental, Alphie with a session of vocals, and Kyle hooking it up. Shout out to the blog Sex Music for getting some folks to hear it.
The Glorification of Gangster Art Show is the creation of Alex Haldi, who is the art director at Island/Def Jam and freelances everywhere. He heard some of JB’s older hip-hop stuff through a mutual connect and when he had the idea for the art show, he reached out to JB to produce the soundtrack. It’s essentially a mixtape of various artists including J Cole, Loyal Divide, & Netherfriends all mashed together with gangster movie quotes as glue. We have that original “Hook-Up Fee” version as well as an AC/DC “Dirty Deeds” cover on that.
Creating songs from scratch is great. But there are also so many great songs out there already, and everyone loves getting together with other people and celebrating those songs at concerts, parties…We also love celebrating them through playing them together. And vibing together on covers can lead to vibing together on original tracks.
Tell us about translating the more sparse and analog original of “Hook Up Fee”, to the turnt-up remix version.
The translation was pretty easy: JB cooked up the beat, Clinton added the bass, and we all got together to cut out the parts that sucked and make sure the levels were good. This song just seemed like a natural fit for turning up because of the way the verse rides the one. It makes you bounce.
Like the theme of the art showcase soundtrack, how did the lurid hook-up trade narrative take place?
Alphie wasn’t inquiring if John knew where she could get some marijuana and would compensate him for the errand, if that’s what you’re asking, haha.
Jesting aside, at the specific time that we started with “Hook-Up Fee”, there was a very little drum kit set up in JB’s condo. In the original version, when Alphie drawls ‘close the door,’ she was talking about JB’s bedroom door and closing it to muffle the sounds of them banging around (that cymbal is from that drum set). JB hopped on the drums and Alphie started with the little melody; both a tad pissy. Thank God for the voice memo app or it would have certainly been forgotten — it was all a bit of a blur.
Has your family heard this track, and what are their thoughts? They aren’t worried, we hope? Should they be worried? Should we be worried?
All three of us come from a family of musicians and artists so they kind of get it. Alphie’s mother definitely shot her a look when she first heard it, but I think she just tuned the lyrics out after that. Thankfully, people generally leave wiggle room for artistic license. We have a song called “Ransom” where Alphie kidnaps a kid and threaten to chop her fingers off and cannibalize her using the appropriate dinner utensil — because table manners are always important, of course. We aren’t really worried that anyone will peg her for a homicidal abductress who might possibly consume their child’s liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. There is, however, a bit of concern that people will believe she’ll abuse drugs, but that’s mainly because she doesn’t want it to hurt her chances against Hillary in the 2016 election. Though based on the earlier years of Barack, Dubya, and Bill, maybe it would help. Drugs are in our cabinets, our refrigerators, our waterways. They’re all around us, all the time. But worry? Nah, you know…it’s all incense and peppermints.
Is this remix version of “Hook-Up Fee” kinda like Lowercase Letters’ Grandmaster Flash circa “White Lines” moment?
Rang dang diggidy dang di-damn skippy it is.
What is it about selecting the name Lowercase Letters and an alphabet devoid of capital letters that attracts you all?
In elementary school, a teacher was explaining the rules of capitalization and she told Alphie that people’s names were always capitalized and that she should always capitalize her name because she was a person and special. But, by the time we were thinking of band names she had already discovered existentialism and rebelled against such ridiculous and foolish narcissistic drivel. No one is special and the universe is indifferent. Humble yourself to the inconsequentiality of your less-than-100 years on this earth, you human, you.
‘lowercase letters’ just had this feeling of humility and necessity, which are pretty awesome things for a band to have.
#legalfiction #newworldorder #Illuminati
What are you all recording now, and what else can we expect from you all?
You can definitely expect us to drop an album in the Fall. In the meantime, our boy and CEO at House Studio Records, Yudu, has started letting us use his basement as an official practice space, so we’re able to start writing more in an environment that’s more similar to the live show environment. Before, we had to scramble around to find a place to practice while making sure our volume was turned down — mostly in Clinton’s basement; sometimes in JB’s apartment. Not exactly ideal for our creative process. With the new space secured, we’ll start writing feverishly. And we have a few songs in the hopper already that we will record in the Fall.
What’s the Washington D.C. report, and who are some other artists that we should take note of?
There are soooo many dope artists in DC right now from hip hop, to electro, to rock. Recent folks we’ve played with are Redline Graffitti and Columbia Nights. We’ve got to shout out the House Studio Records Family. We have good friends in Brett, the Coolots, BOOMscat and Smoke Green. There’s also a good DIY house show scene – take a look at homestage.us to dive deeper.
Listen to more Lowercase Letters via Bandcamp.
Junkboy, the project of brothers Mik and Rich Hanscomb debut the cool crooning summer blazer, “Release the Sunshine”, to keep 2014’s season of sunbeam saturation circulating well through 2016. Straight off their upcoming fifth album, Sovereign Sky — slated for release in November from Enraptured Records — is a day-tripping stroll through Hornsey parks, with meditative and mellow walks through the London Borough of Haringey, and more modern passages that softly step on grass and stone through the former medieval territories. On this full-length cycle that follows up Koyo from 2010, Mik and Rich’s songs concentrate on the scores of characteristics that connect the galaxies to earth in a kindred palm reading of astrological plain connectivity. The Hanscomb brothers drink from the elemental wells of “Rainfalls”, the familiar passages of “Priory Park”, the sea-stringed “Salt Water”, then back to the principles of periodic tables on the spinning afterglow finale, “Water Wheel”.
Which brings us to the debut of “Release the Sunshine”, where the golden days of long playing microgroove discs bring each listening voyager a transforming experience at 33⅓ speed. A maturation of time and feeling is interwoven into the serene course of piano keys, guitars (both acoustic and electric), and Mik and Rich’s hymns to the sun. The emanating essence of heat, light, and life on “Sunshine” is characterized through a deceptive simplicity and sedating surface that entices the senses upon first listen. Stay with us after the debut for an exclusive interview with Mik and Rich Hanscomb.
How did you two brothers first begin making music together?
Mik: Rich started playing guitar in a Nirvana covers band. I joined but couldn’t play anything so I had to play bass. I soon picked up guitar and we began making inroads into writing our own stuff.
Rich: As we were best friends and brothers we just continued making music and evolving so to speak.
How did Junkboy first begin between the two of you?
Mik: Junkboy basically began back in the late 90’s; Rich, myself and a couple of other friends started listening to space-rock, electronica and post-rock and decided to make instrumental kosmische music in keeping with our tastes, culminating in our first 7” release on Enraptured Records in 1999. The label has been our spiritual home for a long time.
Do you both ever have those kind of sibling rivalry battles over creative differences that actually end up turning into a synthesis for the better, kind of thing?
Mik: Rich and I are singing from the same hymn sheet…for the most part.
Rich: We rarely argue instead we kind of hound one another – let’s get this instrumental or vocal take as best as we can, man! We’re our own worst critics but it produces some cool art.
How have your environments from Southend on Sea to Brighton and Hove impacted the feelings and realms that are elicited from your recordings as Junkboy?
Rich: Massively I think – subconsciously at first and quite explicitly now as we’ve become older more self-aware as people. I love seaside towns and the exquisite melancholy they evoke in and out of season. I think all our music possesses that quality.
From 2010’s Koyo to Sovereign Sky, how did the two of you tap into this romantic Albion, that takes the Wordsworth-ian sensibilities to that familiar, west coast California pop that never really gets old?
Rich: Growing up in a brilliantly bleak seaside town and then moving to a coastal city on the doorstep of the South Downs and all their pastoral splendor has certainly informed our music. Those landscapes – real, imagined or embellished by memory- are part of our psyche which suffuses our music. So too is our Californian dream equally romanticized. We’ve never been of course. It’s experienced through music, art…a state of mind.
“Release the Sunshine” has that perfect, 70s soft rock that marries the Laurel and Topanga canyons with aspects of Todd Rundgren solo recordings, and obscure LSD dipped folk LPs. What sort of pagan, sun calling rituals of the night were at work on this number?
Mik: Thanks for the kind words! Musically we wanted to combine the sophisticated pop of Todd Rundgren and The Left Banke, with a kind of British acid-folk paganism. Lyrically, I wanted to juxtapose the romantic escapism of the verses with that chant-like quality of the chorus, to create something that is immediate, upbeat, yet a little weird and psychedelic. We wanted it to evoke clear skies and airless hot days. It’s meant to be a hymn to summer in that inimitable Junkboy way – joyous yet a bit dampened by the fact that we don’t live in a beatnik shack on Laguna Beach.
What were you all listening to during the song construction and recording aspects for this album?
Mik: The first two Left Banke LPs and a lot of other whimsical baroque-pop. British psych such as SF Sorrow by the Pretty Things and Kaleidoscope, plus the west coast sounds of Merrell Fankhauser, Stephen Stills, late 60’s Byrds….
Rich: The first Cardinal album was a bit of a personal touch stone for me perhaps more in terms of channeling its ideology on Sovereign Sky. I wanted parts of the album to kind of sound like a lost Nugget by an unknown troubadour from the late 60s or early 70s, a private press singer-songwriter gem.
As summer turns into autumn, fall, and then winter, what is the Junkboy plan for closing out 2014?
Mik: We’ll be promoting our new record by playing live shows as much as we can. I’m also starting a night at the Komedia in Brighton with a couple of friends from this November that will be playing vintage and contemporary psych sounds. They’ll be oil wheel projections, great sounds. Maybe some acetates of new Junkboy music will spun too…
THE RICH HANDS
We caught up with The Rich Hands prior to the release of their recent album, Out of My Head, debuted the video for “Teenager“, and chatted with frontman Cody Mauser. Today we premiere the video for “I Get By” from Zach Cavender and French Films, followed by an interview with whole band. Their latest full-length from Fountain and Burger Records has had the music press authorities falling over themselves with comparisons to your parents and their parents’ parents rock and roll, as The Rich Hands have recorded another reason to remain optimistic about the state of American garage rock.
In the video for “I Get By”, The Rich Hands’ Cody, Matt and Nick load up the van and take off for the friendly intercontinental highway system. Tour van life is seen in between the band taking turns driving, napping, playing a game of cards, blowing smoke o-rings out the passenger side window, and hitting up all the DIY spots, cool saloons, and chill venues. The motif from “I Get By” is shown like a mantra for keeping on-keeping on while traversing and crossing their ways across the open roads. So join San Antonio’s The Rich Hands for radio show interviews, record store appearances, fast-food stops, and loads of all the Lagunitas you can imbibe. And join us following the video debut, for a roundtable interview with the trio of Cody, Matt, and Nick.
Since last March when we talked, how did the rest of your Spring go, and how has everything been for The Rich Hands this Summer?
All: We’ve been a quiet as far as the band. After SXSW and a tour following it, we decided to lay low for a bit and take some much needed time off. Now, we’re picking up where we left off and we’re writing new material for a new album, playing shows again, and touring with the legend Paul Collins in October.
Your video for “Teenager” edified DIY art of performance, and now with the Zach Cavender and French Films [@frenchyflicks] video for “I Get By” — your big closer off the Out of My Head album — is this your big tour-film-video-adventure piece?
All: Absolutely. Matt had this idea probably before we had released “Teenager”. We had a close friend of ours, Zach Cavender, come on tour with us and document everything. We don’t have much footage of us so it worked out perfect. Being on the road the last two and a half years has been awesome and he captured it perfectly. Watching the video makes us miss being on the road and living in a van.
Best tour memories so far from 2014?
Cody: So far we’ve only been on one tour this year and it was a short one but I’d have to say playing the Treefort music fest in Boise, ID. So much energy from the crowd! It was probably the best show of 2014 so far. I mean we are touring with Paul Collins this fall so maybe that’ll top the last tour? Ha.
Matt: Favorite memory is Nick always being hyped up to drive for a long time but it only lasts 30 minutes.
Nick: I’d say Treefort festival. Boise is super rad.
What are you all excited the most about for your upcoming October tour with Paul Collins Beat?
Cody: We’re all huge Paul Collins fans! He’s definitely had a big influence on me as a songwriter so getting the opportunity to tour with someone you look up to is pretty damn cool. We’re also playing better venues and new cities we’ve never been to before.
Matt: Just excited to be on the road again. Paul will make it 10 times more fun.
Nick: Playing new cities. We’ve played all major cities across the US but haven’t played a lot of smaller towns. This tour opens us up to the smaller towns. Also, we get to tour with PAUL COLLINS!
Top 5 tour items of extreme necessity?
Cody: Lots of clean socks, lots of clean underwear, floss, toothbrush, and Twizzlers! (We’re looking for endorsements, Twizzlers… Just saying)
Matt: Blanket, pillow, snacks, toothpaste, and toothbrush.
Nick: Toothpaste, toothbrush, phone charger, a pillow, and a towel.
You have taken us through the processes of recording Dreamers and Out of My Head; what can you tell us about what The Rich Hands are cooking for a follow up?
Cody: Definitely expect it to be different from the last two albums. I don’t know exactly where it’s going to go but we have a general idea of what we want. My main thing is I want this next album (and every album we make) to really grow each time into something bigger than the last.
Matt: We don’t even know what to expect the next album to sound like other than, in our opinion, great. Hopefully, everyone else agrees.
Nick: A lot of new material. We just began writing a new album so we’re looking at going to the studio at the end of the year to record it all. It’s going to be awesome!
Everyone these days is weighing in on their favorite things they have heard this year, but what are you all currently vibing out to right now?
Cody: Teenage Fanclub all day, everyday!
Nick: The Marked Men/Radioactivity
Matt: I’m still trying to catch up to everyone when it comes to music so I just keep it simple with KISS or the Rolling Stones.
Catch the Rich Hands on the following tour dates with (and without) Paul Collins:
01 Houston – Walter’s
02 Austin – Hotel Vegas
03 San Antonio – The Korova
04 Dallas – Double Wide
05 Oklahoma City – Blue Note
06 Kansas City – Record Bar
07 Chicago – Burlington*
08 Detroit – Lager House*
*w/o Paul Collins
Formerly of Modern Charms, Blaine Patrick, with vocalist Inna Kurikova fade into the main frame under the title of Dissolve, releasing their first issued proper, “Statement”. And like the song’s name, this is a testimony to the Bay Area’s dreamers. The ones who dared to build entire worlds out of nothing except what they heard with their ears, and the epiphanies that shine from the cryptic signs and ancient relics observed by their eyes. The past is evaporated in the vaporizer tubes like dispensary-bought indica as the thick bellows of exhaled enchantment provide foggy alterations of perceptual observances. Blaine guides the guitars like gazing at Dolores Park kites in flight on an overcast day in the city, as Inna’s voice sings out swatches of light. Readying to release their first EP August 19 from Painter Man Records, Blaine and Inna caught up with us a few days ago in the interview following Dissolve’s, “Statement”.
Walk us through how you both rebuilt yourselves post-Modern Charms, to the creation of Dissolve.
Blaine: Well, the whole process of making the Modern Charms record was a bit scattered. We never really viewed it as a band, but more just as a recording project. It would have been nice if we had all ended up in the same place, but our lives took separate courses. When I moved back to San Francisco, I hadn’t really written any music in a few years and I found myself in a strange kind of solitary period. I was inspired to start writing again, I guess from spending so much time alone, or maybe from wanting to connect with my past life in the Bay Area. Anyway, after a month or so I had a bunch of demos and I asked Inna to sing because she is the best singer I know and one of my closest friends.
Inna: Modern Charms was an experiment in patience. It took years between the time Blaine and Mark first invited me to sing on the album and the time the album was actually released, with many setbacks in between. It was also my first time singing on a professionally recorded album and although I’d been a singer for most of my life, I was very nervous about putting my voice on something permanent. Listening to the album now, I can hear myself holding back. With Dissolve, I think I was more ready and open, and as a result I’m much happier with how the vocals turned out. It’s also been an easier process overall, and I can see a future for it in a way I never did with Modern Charms.
“Statement” is already unto itself a real defining statement of ultra dream-doused guitars that are flung into a sea of hooks galore. How was this made, and what sort of statements provided the groundwork for “Statement”?
Blaine: It was basically just a matter of getting all of the effects to create the right amount of obscurity. We played around a lot with tracking in stereo but using different effects paths on each side. I feel like we got pretty close, but there are still certain things that could have been done differently. Luckily, Jack Shirley (engineer on the record) is incredibly open-minded and willing to tolerate me. We get along really well, so obviously that helped.
Inna: I’m not sure how we came up with the name for that song, but it does feel like the perfect track with which to begin the album. For me, it’s kind of a “statement” about my own experiences with love and loss and getting what one hopes for, or not.
Tell us about the recording of your upcoming EP for Painter Man Records.
Blaine: The EP was recorded in two different sessions – one in the Winter of 2013 and one in the Spring of 2014. When we went into the studio on both occasions, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted everything to sound like. Again, Jack is basically the best and allowed me to produce it myself. He didn’t even complain when we mixed and remixed certain parts over and over again to try to get closer to what I could hear in my mind.
Inna: I wasn’t there when Blaine recorded all the instrumental parts, but for me the vocal recording sessions went very quickly and I was amazed that I actually felt satisfied with the result after only a couple takes of each track. I’m usually very self-critical.
Who are some other SF and Bay Area-based artists that you all enjoy?
Our friend Mani’s band Smiles just released a tape on a new label called Death Records that was just recently started by our friend Brian from Melted Toys. It’s really just the best thing and I love it. Also, Cruel Summer and Silver Shadows are awesome and we have played a few bars with them.
Can you give us any hints about a possible Dissolve full-length that may be in the works?
We are going into the studio to start working on something new about two weeks from today. We aren’t sure about the format at this point, but we are excited to start working!
Dissolve’s debut EP will be available August 19 from Painter Man Records.
Having recently released their Basic Instincts album on Rita Records (also a home to one of our heroes, Gary Wilson, we might add), check out the world of Richard Hunter-Rivera and Jessica Sledge, otherwise known as Island Boy. There is a minimalist home-spun magic at work here that invites all to listen with warm, whole hearts, and open ears of summer delight. Serious weights permeate the lo-fi electro mixture that abounds on “Hospital Bed”, “I Want”, “Too Straight”, “Ashes”, and the underground dance-works of “El Dembow Me Salvó” and “Breaking”. The media of the past feel like an immediate part of the present on the time capsule tripping of “16mm”, the Pacific tropic heat of “Parada 15”, the synthesized ecstasy of “Ephiphany”, and the circular slow spin of the closer “Mandala Baby”. Following up their self-titled EP, Island Boy has made a beautiful summer record that should put this West Coast act on everyone’s must hear lists everywhere. Richard wrote us the following about recording his labor of love; Basic Instincts:
Basic Instincts started taking shape in January of 2013 when I spent a month in Puerto Rico reconnecting with family, old friends, and the San Juan music scene. I brought my sampler to the island, so every night after going out I’d come home to my mom’s house and bang out Latin rhythms I’d heard blasting out of clubs and Mitsubishis. Simply put, I got infected with dembow fever. I returned to San Diego and continued writing for six months. It needed to be sexy, danceable, yet meaningful. Everything on the album was produced with a live show in mind. Beats, then bass lines, then melodies. My musical co-consipirator Jessica Sledge fed me lyrics via text message, sometimes we’d discuss them over dinner. She came to every show and gave me feedback. ‘Reggaeton on Special K,’ someone called it. I don’t know, I’ve never done Ketamine, but fine. I wanted the album to flow, like Purple Rain flows, to have a nice arc to it. I wrote a ballad, some slow-burners, a couple pop-bangers, a droned-out track and an instrumental and pieced it all together in way that I think tells a story. In July I started recording. My brother Robert and I have been playing music together since we were kids, I had him come into town and lay down some epic guitar.
Thematically, Basic Instincts is an exploration of the relationship between the human tendency to submit to a higher power and the determination needed to ensure self-actualization and true spiritual freedom. Sonically, it weaves together dembow rhythms, reverberant leads, and dubby-basslines into an experimental yet poppy tapestry of sound. Entirely self-produced, the record is the direct result of my renewed dedication to music and performance after years of toiling away at a desk job in the tech sector. It is hopefully a testament to the fortitude needed to break away from what our conscious minds think we ought to do and instead investigate the depths of what our bodies and souls yearn for.
There has been a lot of buzz this week about Tom Calvert, alias Redinho’s upcoming anticipated album set for release on the astute imprint, Numbers, and the electro-vocoded album sample cut, “Playing With Fire”. Although centered in London, Redinho talked to us in an interview piece (following the jump) about experiences, affinities, and influences informed from world travels that translate to a melange suitable for all aspiring and bonafide globe trotters. On “Fire”, the old funk school synth trips are used to engross the talkbox vocals that turn the delivery into a bleary digitized decay. The hook progression stomps in between the title chorus chapters with a brash authority.
What initially brought you, born Tom Calvert, to take on the artist name, Redinho?
My childhood nickname is Red. A while ago I was in Rio de Jainero, and found myself being introduced as Redinho. Redinho means “little red” in Portuguese.
How did you find yourself on Glasgow’s imprint of sound breaking prestige, Numbers?
After my trip to Brazil, back in London I made a beat tape called Bare Blips. I vaguely knew Spencer (co-founder of Numbers), and at this time he had a label called Wireblock. I sent him a mini mix of my beat tape, which he liked, and said he was starting a new label called Numbers. Fast forward a year or so, Numbers was born, and Bare Blips ended up being the second release on the label. In this time, Numbers had seen the talkbox stuff I was doing, and signed me to an album deal.
As an artist who has gained the love of many contemporaries and peers, what sort of challenges did you find on recording your first full-length release?
I’m very grateful for the compliments I’ve received from my peers, and these pats on the back motivated me to keep doing what I was doing.
I wanted to use the talkbox live, so this became a big part of what I do. I opened this up to include other robotronic vocal styles, and aimed to combine these with other moods and atmospheres. So I focused a lot on harmony, varying tempos and modern production ideas. There are a range of ways these vocal approaches are used over the album, whether as bass lines, sampler instruments, and textures.
Playing live was always in my mind too, and trying to make music that could be performed live in some way.
What beyond the electric-funk and bass dynamics did you employ on the album single, “Playing With Fire”?
I started working on this track years ago at a flat I was living in with a girlfriend, who had a piano, and I wrote this track on that piano. Since then, it has been through countless guises. Different feels, tempos, sounds, lyrics, you name it.
There was a range of vocal processing on this tune. Firstly, auto tune. Then a harmonized vocoder thing. On the chorus line, all of these techniques and textures are at play, as well as a distorted harmonized vocal part that was put through the talkbox.
Call and response is all over this track. Nearly every time there is a vocal line, there is some synthetic answer phrase. On the chorus it’s the bass hook; or on the verses it’s the synth chord blasts.
How has it been working and cameo-ing on releases from Rustie, and West Coast emcee, 100s?
Rustie is a sweet gentleman and an artist whom I’ve loved for a while, and I’ve done gigs with him on and off for a while. So naturally when he sent me some loops, I was well up for it.
100s hit me up on Twitter. Somehow he’d got hold of a version of my track Jacuzzi, which is on my album, which his DJ would bump at 100s’ live shows. What was also cool was that he’s from Berkeley, and I used to live there for a bit. Cali is in my heart because I used to live in San Jose as a kid too. Plus I’m sure it’s obvious that I’m into West Coast G Funk. All of this, and his inspirational haircut, meant that I wanted to be a part of his vibe.
Thoughts on the state of London’s ever-exquisite and lauded scenes and producer schemes?
To be honest, I don’t make much effort to follow it at all. I barely go online, and I rarely go to club nights, although when I do I get very inspired so perhaps I should do more of that. Luckily I have a lot of amazing artists around me doing incredible things. I live with the drummer from Three Trapped Tigers, and my brother Matt is also in this band and lives around the corner and is an amazing artist. I also live with my other brother, JC, who’s an amazing producer. We’ve done a track together which has become a highlight of my live show. Just following these guys and my peers like Sophie, Hud Mo and Rustie, plus listening to heroes like Stevie Wonder keeps me learning.
With upcoming appearances at RBMA and Bestival, what else are you excited about this upcoming Fall?
I’m going to Greece to pick olives and help my friend set up an eco tourism project.
Redinho’s self-titled will be available September 23 from Numbers.
MODERN TIME MACHINES
Hop in the Delorean and cruise like Marty McFly in the Christopher J. Ewing directed video for Modern Time Machines’ “Loveletters”. Through the endless spin of guitars the images fire performance sections, televised-kaleidoscope effects, and time traveling allusions that break continuum constructs through the ADD aesthetic frame that celebrates the decades past that celebrate themselves. As the hair dryer guitars take you over with approximately 1.21 gigawatts of Mr. Fusion generated energy, read the following exclusive words from the band about writing and recording, “Loveletter”.
The evolution of the song “Loveletters” probably took longer than any other song in the Modern Time Machines cannon. Lots of tinkering, layers of overdubbing and writing/rewriting involved. It was a delicate balancing act getting all the pieces together, blending layers of guitars, vocals, violins, and flutes. Eventually it all came together, and our buddy Josiah Mazzaschi helped us mix the song using his sonic wizardry at The Cave Studio. We made a music video for the song with the director Christopher J. Ewing, and our guitar player Ryan Connor contributed some psychedelic visual effects.
We are currently recording a new EP which we are aiming to finish by the end of the year. One of the new songs on the EP will be getting a remix courtesy of our buddy Sean in the band De Lux, and another new song will be getting the music video treatment. And we’re itching to play out of town shows — we plan to be doing some touring for the EP. So lots of cool stuff on the horizon!
Evy Jane has plans to release their Closer EP, August 26 through Ninja Tune, and we have the latest vibes from the Vancouver duo comprised of Evelyn Jane Mason and Jeremiah Klein wearing the synth fashioned world-worn sentiments of “Worry Heart”. The tears, fears, and anxieties flow through the pensive slow and cold creek, and forestall river beds that send out a floating personification pressure past briar, bush, down the ravines that feed into the stream of the Nile.
For something to jam over the weekend, or turn your weekday into an instant afternoon holiday; check out this new cut from Eyelid Kid, called “Sleeps Well on Knives”.
Evan Shornstein, aka Photay, dropped the cut, “No Sass” on the heels of last month’s “Reconstruct”, off the upcoming self-titled available August 26 from Astro Nautico. Evan displays some of the creative side when it comes to toying with the effects and sequencing machines to take off on fearless flight made for listeners that prefer their tunes on the adventurous side.
SideOneDummy and Burger Records are working together to release The Lees Of Memory’s (comprised of Superdrag members) Sisyphus Says LP on September 16, with SideOne re-releasing Superdrag’s Head Trip In Every Key on August 12 plus the demo collection, Jokers w/Tracers. Check out the Elvis Wilson directed video for, “We Are Siamese”, depicting visual distortions of the band recording at the Tennessee estate of producer Nick Raskulinecz, called the Rock Falcon. Let yourself get buried by the gaze and haze here, now, and forever.
Kamp! rocks us with a little bit of that warehouse-warranted beat track on “Early Days”, with their Baltimore> EP slated for August 26 from Cascine. Heralding from Poland, it should be key to point out here that this trio’s sound encompasses what so many US artists among the basements and underground residences have been tinkering with for years — and even then this comes from a synthesis from the new young blocs of a rapidly changing Eastern European sektor.
Available August 4 on 12″ vinyl and digital from Numbers, check out the track everyone from NY to London is already squawking about with UK producer SOPHIE’s “Lemonade”. Vibing fresh from the London underground pop oddity of “BIPP”, “Lemonade” creates a kind of candy-core carnival where the conventions are put into a discreet blender that neatly arranges the sparse and minimalistic elements in an order that delivers a maximalist saccharine punch.
I’m An Island is the project of New Orleans by Nashville artist, J. Gardner Crown, who shares the psych fruit spectacular of “Passion Phruit”, off his Jewel EP available now. The result of the visual to audio measures is the inception of the greatest vacation, or the feelings that surround the dreams and essences of the most idyllic of fantasized and imagined holidays ever thought of.
Peep the Kyle Moriwaki video for “A New Age Holiday”, from Brooklyn’s Evil Arrows. Taken from EP 2, lusty View-Master stereoscope fantasy inspire garage and rehearsal space vacation getaways. Their latest extended player, EP 3 is available now via Bandcamp.
Has-Lo & Castle return in collaborative company, kicking out the cahoots title cut, “Live Like You’re Dead”, off their just-released album of the same name from Mello Music Group. Life on the edge celebrates that life where it’s Dia de los Muertos everyday, where you live like you got nothing to lose, die, or live for in one afterlife odyssey. Because it’s all about “get up and get it, get up and live it,” like your tomorrow will never arrive.
Meatbodies drop the hippy-hippy-shakes of, “Tremmors,” with a self-titled available October 14 from In The Red. Rock out to this kind of feel good tremors, and general garage glorification of an unsettled, rocking good time. Look for Meatbodies touring about from August 16 through November 8.
It’s Kid Flicks bringing the Athens, Greece creative underground, remixing “Bloodwork”, crafted by LA’s reigning indie pop champion, Liphemra. The atmospherics turn into international bazaars, where Nickos shifts the entire remix into a reassigned passage to pop environments that are lesser known. Keep up with all of our Liphemra coverage here, and Kid Flicks here.
Horse Thief dropped the Robot Fondue Production for the “Little Dust” video about finding one’s self amid the clutches of fear, off the Fear In Bliss album from Bella Union.
If you caught yourself shaking a leg to the Sir Michael Rocks cut, “Bussin'”, off the upcoming Banco album, with extra banging, SAiNT x Stezus Remix, give your speakers, tweeters and woofers something slap about. This version gets loud with an extra loud klaxon and a bunch of bubbled out bumps and blown out bridges.
Austin’s Spray Paint shakes up some angry aerosol barbs on, “Rest Versus Rust”, that stays on the mean and lean side from their upcoming third album, Clean Blood, Regular Acid available September 23 from Monofonus Press. You can find them touring now through November 27.
Teenanger takes you on a rebel without a cause, reason, and rhyme, ride, on, “Hot Rods At The Loser Convention”, off their upcoming E P L P album available September 9 from Telephone Explosion. Toronto’s son Chris Swimmings brings back the greaser, r n’ r put-down jam that deals in hair gel in excess, leather jackets worn during counter-intuitive summer heat waves, spitting insults that bring the bully steez back into fashion (despite the public service behavioral warnings) with locker pushing lyrics like, “you’re name ain’t zilch.”
Matt Kivel’s Days of Being Wild was recently released on Woodsist Records, and you can check out the John Carchietta video for “Insignificance”. Like the natural and intimate portrayals that you have come to expect and love from the SoCal song-smith of rising prominence, the recipe for capturing a Matt Kivel series of moments involves the day-to-day experiences of time spent with loved ones and the candid glimpses behind the recording processes. Read the Matt Kivel correspondences from earlier this year.
Cancers kick up something more than just your run of the mill morality tale, with the pure garage pop of “Moral Net”, off the album Fatten the Leeches available September 16 from Kandy Kane and Dead Broke Rekerds.
Our new friend Vik Montemayor, otherwise known as the rising producer George West, Montemayor continues to channel energies from Monterrey, Mexico and Houston, TX with the latest cut, “One to Start”. From the breeze blown sway of wind chimes, and the looping surface noise of the spinning, commenced record, Montemayor introduces a wealth of bold and big sequences that go through the percussive waves like classic wooden roller-coasters raging in the summer solstice.
Knocking the world’s leaders down a peg from their high horses, peep the video for Elephant’s Stone’s “Knock You From Yr Mountain”. Rishi Dhir of ES wrote this about the revolutionary song of logical reasoning:
The song pretty much says what needs to be said. I look at the present state of the world; and it breaks my heart. I don’t understand how the leaders of the world see corruption, murder, war, and deceit as a way to lead their people. They do not represent us, they seek to control us. We need a change. Will all the craziness happening in the world right, we felt it was an appropriate time to release “Knock You From Yr Mountain”. I always hold onto the hope that one day mankind will realize that two wrongs do not make a right.
Yes I’m Leaving are getting their Mission Bulb LP repressed by Homeless Records, along with their new album Slow Release available September 29. With the new record boasting grey haze on alabaster wax (limited to 100 pressings), listen to the band get fired up as they claim themselves the first among luminaries in the numeric charts, among fellow rock and roll figures.
Portland’s Greylag are readying their self-titled for release October 14 from Dead Oceans, and they bestow upon us the banjo jangler and tambourine shaker, “Another”. You too will want to just lay it all down on the line, bringing it down and casting away those burdens, voices in the head for another chance, another place, another beginning, and perhaps somewhere/anywhere but the “aching world.”
We have been enjoying the new Habits album, Unselves In Arrival, from Fleeting Youth Records, following all the action of psyched out altered LA weirdness, enjoying the latest visual dose, “All the Figures”. Band and cult leader of cool Dustin M. Krapes takes you deep into the “psycho-fountain/mountain” where stories, collaged pastiches, and images of the lysergic, distorted variety take over everything.
For that over-the-top, overly sponsored, and schmaltzy NYC after-after-after party, get mental to the rooftop pool pop of DAHMET’s “The Greek”.
Mike Cykoski, aka A is for Atom, has crafted life tales via the Song For You EPs, and we have a listen to the title track here. In the grand tradition of song writers penning songs for special someones, the legend carries on and the torches change hands again, and again, and again…
Eugene Kelly & Frances McKee are keeping the 53rd & 3rd label (operated back in 1987 by Stephen Pastel) as they ready V For Vaseline for October 7 through Rosary Music. A band that needs little introduction to the those that have religiously followed the Young Scotland indie connection to US grunge of the 90s, get reacquainted with the cult band that everybody loves with their recent single, “One Lost Year“, and the following acoustic performance recorded at Mogwai’s Castle of Doom studio (where the recent Vaselines album was recorded) located in Glasgow.
Comprised of members from Little Women and other projects, Battle Trance will be bringing their new album, Palace Of Wind, to the world on August 26 via NNA Tapes and New Amsterdam Records. Frontman Travis Laplante made the following teaser trailer video for their upcoming full-length.
Our dear friends Aan, the darlings of the PDX scenes return to the Bay, and play San Francisco’s Milk Bar, tonight, August 1. Lush, mind wandering ballad craft awaits, like the following listen to “Sometimes Sunshine” off their album, Amor Ad Nauseum from Party Damage Records.
CRYSTAL GHOST’S WEEK IN POP
I’m Elliott Baker, aka Crystal Ghost, and I’m co-curating Week In Pop this time around.
I have been making music for a little under five years, slowly learning more and more about the amazing subtleties and community that is music. I have a dream pop duo with my sister Marilyn called CCERULEANN, a beats heavy project called Moss Point with John Hastings (RUMTUM), and my solo project name used to be CC/NN, but now I go by Crystal Ghost.
I really was lucky to fall into an amazingly talented community of artists after attending Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho. I met the beginnings of what would become Holy Underground/HUG Records, and from there they accepted me into their community. I played live shows for FLASH/LIGHTS (now Rose Quartz), which allowed me to travel a little, and it really made me want to be on the road all the time presenting my music, as long as I thought it was good enough.
I am excited for a new chapter as Crystal Ghost, because I finally feel like I have something to offer that is worthy of people’s time. I’m very thankful to anyone who has, is, or will listen to my music. It’s the greatest feeling knowing someone can relate to you. In any way, however small.
Here is a song that I made for Svnset Waves’ Summer Compilation:
And my most recent experiment trying to work with some lo-fi sounds:
So excited to share some of the music I’ve really been into. The following list of songs are currently the main stays in my playlists right now. I hope you enjoy them.
L.A. band TV Girl’s debut album, French Exit, is full of feel good vibes. “The Blonde” is a perfect example a a daydream daze that hypnotically puts you in a feel good mood. A fan of rhythmic synths pushes a warm summer breeze of sincere vocals past your face, all while the bass mimics the stability of sunset waves. This summer song is something to be treasured.
Colin, aka Big Sigh, is a Portland based producer who brings that funk back into pop music with a hint of psych to it. Big Sigh’s new track “If I Could” showcases his ability to integrate so many genres into one. Full of confident vocals and heartfelt lyrics, Colin is able to set an endearing mood that fits the artistry of his music.
Cleveland native/Denver-based John Hastings, aka Rumtum, dropped his Yesod EP recently, and it’s drenched in summer time vibes. Dwellers Harmony is personal vacation, always upbeat. He was recently joined by Alex Anderson (of Rose Quartz) for his most recent show. RUMTUM and Anderson melded together to showcase one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for them.
“I walk in with my hands on my hips and a homemade whiskey twist.”
The opening lines of Frugal Father’s song, “Red Headed Hipster”, permeate a confidence that few electronic acts have. While starting out with a calm beautifully sculpted intro, Frugal Father leads you right into the eye of the storm. There he brings everything together and gets you dancing and feeling like you are a part of something again, equally sharing in the audio of this metaphorical storm. Get his whole debut EP from the HUG records Bandcamp.
London duo Fantastic Fantastic dropped this pop gem, “Never Enough”, a few weeks ago and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. With another release called Houses, you can see the amazing pop foundation that Micke and Kristophur have built. The architecture of what is to come from these two is something I’m eagerly waiting to see.
Andrea Balency recently released her cover of Little Dragon’s song “Paris” that includes Marilyn Baker on backup vocals. Andrea’s take on Little Dragon’s upbeat dance melody is exactly the opposite of that, and in the best of ways. With more time to digest lyrics, they become more meaningful, sung beautifully by both vocalists. This song becomes a meditation on grace and being an ethereal presence, and in doing so has carved itself an exciting niche.
Panther Martin is a Denver-based group affiliated with Keats//Collective. If you haven’t heard of Keats//Collective yet from artists like Saint Pepsi or Spazzkid, then familiarize yourself with some of their roster full of amazing disco, pop, summertime music with projects like Rollergirl!, Ernst Jr., Tuuwa, PierPoint, Flamingosis, Dinosaurus Rex, KEV//BOT, and Merlinda/Walls.
Brooklyn-based producer, Brothertiger, has shown a knack for creating enticing/seductive synth pop. His first EP Vision Tunnels is fantastic, and every release since then has gotten better. Particle Horizon is from his 2013 album Future Splendors, and shows how far he has grown as an artist.
Logan Hyde is one talented person. His project Psychedelic Black, is already so well thought out and refined that his ceiling is really limitless. There is a playful element to Logan’s approach that mixes sixties guitar rock with an element of folk that forms a really unique and exciting sound.
A Sol Mechanic
A Sol Mechanic, a Stereocure artist/L.A. Producer, just released this baby making slow jam. If trap music and Smokey Robinson had a baby this song would be the result. Piano chords that resonate as if they are echoed down a hallway are the initial allure of this song, but then you hear vocals that immediately make you feel a sense of loss for the vocalist. The picture that is formed through use of vocals is a masterpiece, sometimes feeling sad can be so good.
I have played this track at least 50 times this week. The first half of this song is what I imagine a bubble’s life must be like. Hints of loneliness float around a spectrum of ascending bells, and that loneliness transcends into self realization as the song grows at the halfway point. Making every note have a confidence that it’s where it was meant to be and it’s happy there. I’m happy it’s there too. I had the pleasure of seeing Lemon Future live, and he exceeded my expectations. Lemon Future is a member of the aforementioned Keats//Collective, but is also affiliated with another Denver based collective called Dirty//Clean.
Magic Sword & Noah Hyde
Sometimes you have to get down and dirty. And Boise producer Noah Hyde teamed up with Magic Sword to do just that. With an arpeggiated bass tone that feels like a powerful storm front rolling in, Noah Hyde and Magic Sword have created a remix that is as gritty as it is beautiful. Beautiful accent tones float around in the wake of the bass while filtered vocals haunt the in-between. If you like enchanting, mysterious, haunting, head-bobbing dance music, then listen to this remix of Adventure Galley’s “In Your Dreams”.
L.A. based StaG’s music shimmers with hope and optimism. JPTW is a song off their album “Difference”, and it leaves one feeling hopeful about better days and new opportunities. I’ve been lucky enough to see them live quite a bit, and the love they have for music is apparent through their energy and excitement on stage. They slam shoulders together during breakdowns, they have apparent on-stage chemistry, and they have amazing jam sessions that leave the audience wanting more and more. Anytime you have a chance to see them it is a MUST.
Larry Gus of Veria, Greece, took an amazing song called Anticipation by fellow Grecians, Baby Guru, and made it a masterpiece. A mixture of funk & pop infused with abstract synth lines & perfect percussion, this is my favorite remix of the year. Can’t wait to hear more from both Larry Gus and Baby Guru in the near future.
I met London musician Tony Kus a while ago, and he had an amazing set of small organs in his room. He later showed me his soundcloud and I was really amazed at the “simple complexity” of his recordings. There may not be a ton of layers in every song, but the atmosphere that is created ascends all around you, creating a wonderland of enchantment and intrigue. Tony’s song “The Long March” lets you see a bit further into his vision. While most other tracks are solely piano based, Kus brings more to the dinner table at this go around. Subtle yet supportive guitar is brought in to accent the piano’s elegance, with uplifting drums, that are all finally accompanied by a xylophone that brings a lighthearted quality to the ending.
Bill, aka Kazmier, is a Nomadic/Mostly New York-based producer. On the road as part of Chrome Sparks, Kazmier’s music is as varied as his destinations. His song “b.g.n.” features analog synth work at its finest. Bellowing bass tones radiate an array of high-pitched tones to create a minimalist “head banger” hit that is as structured as it is confusing. That structure creates an inspiring track, “Confusion”.
On another musical note, Bill started a blog that specializes in turning guest submission “fart” clips into music.
There must be something in the water in Boise. Like fellow Boise resident, Noah Hyde, Shades presents you with an arpeggiated bass tone as the backbone of the song. Get ready to dance, because “Stranded”, has all the makings of a hit. Vocals that cut through everything, an array of perfectly honed synth tones, punchy drums, an absorbent bass line, and the structure/composition is perfect. Shades is working on a new album with a TBA release date.
Cuddle Formation & Emily Reo
Cuddle Formation & Emily Reo are two amazing people/musicians. The last two years they’ve set up a nationwide tour together promoting happiness all along the way. “Dreams of Bermuda” (Yoshi’s Story) brings that same happiness in an auditory form. Filled with love, this song warms your heart while moving your hips, and to me that is a pretty good definition of happiness. I’m hoping for more Cuddle Formation and Emily Reo collaborations in the future.
Young Pharaohs, Sam & Ben Martin of Austin, Texas, want you to feel sexy. Ben’s vocals are super sultry, bouncing around with ease, only magnified through Sam’s clean/precise production. Their song “Up Against It” is off of their new 6-song EP True Love. Make sure to check out their debut EP White Shadows.
Denver producer Real Cosby just released his newest EP, Gold Braid, on Shoeboxx Recordings. The 4-song EP includes two tracks featuring vocalist Marilyn Baker. Real Cosby has a knack for making the most out of minimalist beats. His song Gold Braid is no different. Classic vocal chop ups laid over warm synth tones, poppy percussion, and a crowd of claps, Real Cosby is continuing to provide us with great music.
Follow Crystal Ghost via Twitter.