As the summer season rages on, Impose’s Week in Pop keeps you informed with a new batch of artists, and headlining exclusives. But first up: We learned about Jay Z and Beyoncé’s “On The Run” tour being televised via HBO; Ariel Pink and Dâm-Funk crashing Donnie & Joe Emerson’s “Big Money” party; the Miley exhibitionism machine running steady with recent Instagram tat pics; Earl Sweatshirt tour date cancellations; ICP’s lawsuit against the FBI over a 2011 NGTA report getting dismissed; sex-“obsessed” Courtney Love appearing in Sons of Anarchy; Azealia Banks being Interscope/Polydor free; and the CIA — according to twitter — not knowing the whereabouts of Tupac.
Better yet, we are proud to present the following exclusives and interviews from The Tablets, Pisces, SGNLS, Snowblind Traveler, Jargon Party, Let’s Drive To Alaska, and more, in no particular order.
Brooklyn-based The Tablets are releasing their Ground EP July 15, now premiering their self-made video for “Decoder”. The trio is comprised of Tijuana-by-NYC front woman Liz Melina Godoy Nieto, Brenden Beu, and Gooby Herms. Filming and directing “Decoder” together, Liz’s high-brow concepts are edited by Brenden, while Gooby’s post-production touches add a level of supernatural mystique.
In the “Decoder” video, Liz takes center stage like an aerobic instructor who works out to The Tablet’s enchanted pop. Liz sings softly over the crackling air of guitars and subtle positioning of sparse but effective drum measurements. Godoy’s responsive dance impulses reflect a modern impressionistic ballet sensibility, from the swift timing of her movements to the focus on breath measured by the extents of motion and step. After the video debut of “Decoder”, Liz and Brenden talked to us about the new Ground EP, the NYC scenes, geographical influences, and more.
I love how the opening bass line is animated by the accented motions of Liz’s hair in the beginning, almost like the ghostly moves of Kate Bush, or Bilinda Butcher in the MBV video for “To Here Knows When“. Give us the scoop on making a b/w, high-brow aerobic video that moves to the spells of the encryption-decrypt-er, “Decoder”.
Liz: First off, I am getting feelings all over from you making the Kate Bush and Bilinda Butcher references, so thank you. I wanted to make a video that was very minimalist, that we could shoot with our own camera, with hints of strangeness and weird touches you’d have to look at twice to make sure they really happened. I also knew we couldn’t afford to have any fancy special effects. I was feeling very inspired by Michel Gondry, but had to take it to a much more simplistic level. In the end the effects needed to be in real-time, with no post-alterations, and without trying to trick anyone. The b/w just felt natural.
As far as the movements, “Decoder” tends to make me feel twitchy and bendy, so it’s sort of my reflex response to the music. I don’t get to do that particular dance onstage when I’m playing an instrument, so I wanted to put that out in the video. I didn’t want to do any interpretive or classical dance of any sort. I used to be a ballet dancer at an early age but didn’t want to use any of that. The weird dancing, though, I’m all about it.
Liz, you were born in Mexico but have spent a great deal of your life in the US. How have places and roots shaped your creative consciousness, and how have you reflected on that cultural shift in your music?
Liz: I was born in Tijuana, and later moved to Culiacán. It was a big shock for me, and maybe I didn’t adjust well. Tijuana is next to California; border towns are such different entities. I was an outgoing kid in Tijuana. I’d build makeshift stages, choreograph for the kids on my block to perform, and go to singing competitions. I also started taking ballet and piano lessons. Being able to cross the border had its benefits too. In Culiacán, I was without that. I missed it, as well as my friends, and became very shy. I began channeling my energy into dance and piano even more and started traveling to Mexico City for summer workshops. It was beautiful there, with amazing energy, art, music, and architecture unlike anything I’d seen before. Mexico itself was amazing. The composers my parents listened to had a lasting impression, as well as some of my cherished Mexican girl pop groups. But the influence of American rock and pop was of course very present. I mean, when I was little, I had no idea that the Stones and Zeppelin were not American. I was a kid, and nobody explained this to me. It all hit me when I was about 11 or 12. I think I focused too much on parts of my upbringing, but really, all the memories have been slowly manifesting themselves in what I’ve been doing since I moved to San Diego, and later New York. Now it’s all intertwined with my later and present experiences. It’s a big gooey mess.
How did you all come together as The Tablets?
Liz: Getting the present lineup was a trial and error process. I started writing songs that would become The Tablets in early 2010. Around May of that year, Brenden Beu joined on guitar and as producer. Although I do my own harmonies in the recordings, I wanted to have backup singers. It only worked temporarily and I had to go through a series of different singers before realizing I needed to consolidate. If we get to a point where we can manage to have backup singers again, I would love to do it. Gooby Herms has been playing bass with us since 2012.
Artist Melissa Godoy Nieto has been designing live visuals with vintage overhead projectors and found objects since mid 2011. People are very responsive to the effect it has on the live set. Yes, she’s my sister, and she’s an amazing artist.
Brenden: Liz works on ideas on her own at first and then shows them to me at various stages of completion. Sometimes she has it all figured out, drums programmed, keys and vocals ready to record, a solid idea of what the guitar should be. Sometimes she’s even figured it out playing a right-handed guitar upside down (she’s left-handed). Other times she has a collection of unfinished ideas that I help her put together into a working whole. Sometimes I help write music or lyrics, but most of the time she knows what she is after. The trouble starts when we get to the mix process. We are both perfectionists in very different ways, and we both have very strong opinions and personalities, so there can be a lot of passionate debate before we find a place where we’ve really got it right. Once we do have it right it always feels perfect, like there never could have been any other right answer. We really don’t start practicing the song until after it’s been recorded due to the nature of this process.
How did you touch down with the Ground EP?
Liz: After completing the songs that would be our debut LP, I found myself going in a different direction lyric-wise. I had written so much about heartbreak in many forms for the LP, I felt like I got so much of it out of my system. I became very introspective with the newer tracks, in a more collective consciousness sort of way. That’s when the title came about. I was also doing home demos that didn’t rely as much on the Farfisa organ sound. I actually made really good use of a certain phone app for some of this. When we got to the studio to do the real recordings, nothing else would work, so we ended up using those phone samples with the studio recoding.
Some of your favorite things about the Brooklyn scene?
Liz: Every musician trying to accomplish something is very supportive of other artists in the same situation, at least from my personal experience. It’s rewarding to know that there isn’t much of a clique-y environment when it comes to appreciating other friends doing their thing, even if it’s stylistically different (if it’s good). Most musician peers can be very receptive and open-minded. I think that’s so much better than sticking to one thing, or maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m delusional.
Least favorite things about the Brooklyn scene?
Liz: It’s probably a byproduct of the huge music scene in New York City. There is so much happening all the time, so many bands, so many shows, so many artists and performers of all sorts, that unless you are a pretty established act, with consistent high-profile media exposure and means, playing a couple of shows a month will not result in much attendance. It’s hard to get people to come to shows while trying to reach that level. Everyone is busy, and for every show you play, each friend has 5 more friends playing a show on that same night.
Whom do we need to be listening and paying attention to right now?
Dead Sexy Sheila, Bad Behavior, Mount Sharp, Iska Dhaaf, Anna Calvi, and Woodkid. Also, the upcoming Blonde Redhead album is so good, but it’s not out yet. I was lucky to get a chance to hear it in advance!
The Tablets’ Ground EP will be available July 15 via Bandcamp.
Sarah Negahdari from Happy Hollows has started a side solo project called Pisces, presenting an early listen to her new solo single, “Being With You”. The song is the title track to her upcoming album recorded in conjunction with Joel Jerome and David Newton. Sarah’s celestial sound comes down like the curtain fall of night.
Negahdari’s solo work holds to a spirited folk core that Joel and David support with well-engineered instrumentation and arrangements. The mood is transporting. Sarah joins us following the listen, for a neat look at her thoughts on song-writing and composition.
How did your new side begin with Pisces, and how do you now decide what is a Happy Hollows song as opposed to a Pisces song?
Pisces came out of nowhere to be honest. I was in Charlie’s [Happy Hollows’ bassist] dining room a few years ago, and there was a big gorgeous full moon out, and his cat was at my feet. I felt so inspired at that moment that I grabbed an acoustic guitar and wrote a song called “Lunatic Moon”, which is on my album.
Right after I wrote that song, I wrote “Being with You”. Two acoustic songs in one night, totally out of nowhere! Charlie returned and thought what I had written was beautiful, and although it wasn’t right for Happy Hollows, he urged me to keep writing more acoustic songs. I finished the Pisces album shortly thereafter.
Happy Hollows songs sound better a bit louder and with a full band. Pisces songs tend to be more mystical in subject and more acoustic in nature. Usually I know right away if a song is a Pisces or Happy Hollows song when I’m writing it.
How do you describe your own creative songwriting and imagining process?
I really just love to write songs. I love it so much, but I sort of go in waves. I will go six months without writing at all, and then six months where I sit at my computer and record demos every day. I spend a lot of time day-dreaming, being quiet, taking in life, and listening. I sort of feel like an open channel. Inspiration is such a mysterious thing. Where does it come from? I listen to it when I’m writing. I can sort of hear where the song wants to go, and it never feels like mine, it’s more like I pick up on the melody and words. Inspiration is a very mysterious, spiritual dance with the universe. You can’t force it, but it does seem to come around more when you feel passionate, and have a vision.
What impact did both Joel Jerome and David Newton have on your debut album?
A very big impact! At the time when I was looking for a producer for Pisces, Charlie showed me Joel’s recordings of his band, Dios, and urged me to record with him. I thought Joel was an absolute genius, so I eagerly approached him to produce Pisces.
At the time, he hadn’t recorded anyone other than Dios, and he said he had no interest in being a producer for me, or anyone! I didn’t take no for an answer, and finally after many months, and giving him some good weed, he gave in! He turned out to be beyond brilliant at producing other people, and ever since he is always fully booked!
I went to producer Dave Newton, with whom Happy Hollows love recording, and he recorded many of the drum and electric guitar tracks for Pisces in his studio. Dave really helped me define and refine Pisces as well.
Then Joel and I took the tracks and recorded tons more layers in his little kitchen, where we really shaped the album. Joel really helped me tie everything together into a unique sonic universe for Pisces.
Who do you feel are some of today’s greatest scrappy, underdog artists that deserve much more attention?
Joel Jerome and his Babies on Acid and Traps PS.
Summer plans leading up to the release of Being With You?
This summer Pisces is playing Echo Park Rising on Saturday, August 16.
Happy Hollows are in the studio this summer, so I will be busy with both bands.
Oh, and Manimal and Otto just did a video for “Being with You”, which will come out this summer!
Pisces’ album Being With You will be available soon.
Philadelphia’s SGNLS announced the November 4 release date of their album, 2, available for pre-order from FDH Records and co-released by P.Trash Records in Germany. FDH is awarding the first 50 orders with an exclusive DVD that features the folowing music video premiere of “No Connection”, a live set, older video items, and an interview with the band. We are stoked to have SGNLS’ Kellzo, Paul, and Tony, plus FDH Records’ own Eric Theill joining us today in our conversation roundtables.
Tony from SGNLS and Destroying Angel’s Mario Lima depict our sad planet’s market of consumerism and military industrial complexes. The rise and fall of empires play out in decay, wartime revolutions, tribal quagmires, digital dissonance, binary-based warfare, alienation, isolation, and Black Friday shopping frenzies. Massive zoom-outs and zoom-ins of our planet remind us of a larger picture than human minds can fathom. And yet, that astronomical synth-dotted scope is buoyed by an array of atrocity exhibitions that mark the harsh realities of life. With foreboding vocals and keyboard arrangement, SGNLS implore us to open our eyes to a greater consciousness beyond what we know, and beyond all-too-familiar cycles of self-destructive behavior.
We had the chance to chat with SGNLS, but first a word from FDH Records’ operator Eric Theill about this band and their upcoming record, 2:
Have you ever thought about what it might sound like if Hawkwind recruited Genesis P Orridge and members of The Units into the band? Or if Kraftwerk merged with members of Pink Floyd and Crass to work on a concept record together? Of course you have not, and neither had I before I heard this record. While this Philadelphia band has been churning out a slew of releases over the past half a decade, including a great LP on Blind Prophet Records, this album really is the first time the whole SGNLS concept has been captured on a single work. With that said, they also have stepped up their production quality well above anything they had released prior to this record. It somehow showcases the band’s ability to make a sound that truly blurs the lines of synth-punk, industrial, psych, and krautrock, while still holding a pop sensibility. It keeps you on the edge of your seat with so many peaks and valleys that all work so well together, somehow never seeming to go too deep in any one direction. Yet, the album is still very cohesive. It really is a masterpiece.”
SGNLS’ Kellzo, Paul, and Tony then joined the conversation.
First take us back to that magical month of March, 2009 when SGNLS was born.
Kellzo: Tony and Paul had been playing in a band which broke up, and they were looking for a drummer in order start a new project. A mutual friend put us in touch a few months after I moved to Philly in 2008.
Paul: SGNLS was born in a dirty basement.
Kellzo: Yeah, maybe not the most magical event in the world, but here we are — in the world.
Everyone has some kind of beef with vowels with regard to their place in monikers, titles and the like; what’s SGNLS excuse?
Kellzo: Honestly, we only removed the vowels so that you could find us on the internet — Signals or Signals Philly would direct you to the Philadelphia Streets Department and just ENDLESS pages of people complaining about the traffic lights in town.
How did you all go about piecing together the blitzkrieg of authoritative archival images for “No Connection”?
Tony: The video for “No Connection” was made by me and Mario Lima of Destroying Angel.
Paul: Tony and Mario made the video. I was actually strongly opposed to using graphic wartime imagery. I don’t think it’s respectful, and I don’t think it promotes mutual understanding, progress or much of what I believe in, but by the time I saw the video it was too late.
Give us all the dirt and goods on the making of your upcoming album.
Kellzo: We originally tried to track the record in Germany with our friend Tim Shapland from Cross Stitched Eyes. We were touring Europe in early 2012 and took a few days off in Bremen for recording. It turned out that he was having some equipment problems so upon getting home we just decided to do it ourselves in our practice space. The record took about 2 years to finish, and then Eric from FDH Records got a copy of it and it’s finally going to see the light of day soon.
Paul: It took us years! Kellzo has recorded almost all of our material to date, including the upcoming album. He is a fourteenth-level studio magician. I think that he lives off of pure sonic joy — he never sleeps and is almost always smiling.
Kellzo: Ha! Recording and mixing your own records can actually be this weird all-consuming process — you get done with a long day of work and then you go to work again to sculpt this intangible thing from nothing but your thoughts and feelings. The important thing to remember is that you are lucky enough to be living your dreams in real life. Life is sweet, that’s the real dirt.
We’re all super interested in what’s happening in Philly, but what do you all like about Philly right now?
Kellzo: Alexi, our bass player, would have a great answer to this question, but unfortunately he’s out of town. Anyone else want to field this one?
Paul: Philly is a hard town with a lot of problems. It’s a sort of crucible – it can be crushing but then people turn into diamonds.
Kellzo: I agree. I think a lot of it has to do with the people. People are working hard to maintain and add to the efforts that others have made over the decades to create a strong community here. There’s a lot of inspiring artists and good friends who are doing great things in town.
Philadelphia artists that are just ruling it, but not getting enough cred?
Paul: I have been worshiping Metropolarity lately. They’re a queer sci-fi collective mostly comprised of Philly natives. It’s really exciting to see people creating powerful art that pays homage to its elders and has a sense of real urgency, and some sort of unified spirit. The work coming from that crew is really great, and I think they are setting a powerful example of how art can be a transformative force in the world.
Kellzo: Ungeunt, Tether and Hunnie Bunnies are on top of the game in the noise scene here. Drums Like Machine Guns and Heller Wahn also rule. Northern Liberties have been killing it for about 12 years but don’t seem to get much notice outside of a certain group of people here. 2 Suns is an amazing two-piece that incorporates some far out No Wave sounds with performance art; I think they’re taking a break right now but those two deserve some recognition for sure!
Tony: Hot Guts, The Bad Doctors and Void Vision are all great bands and some of our favorites to play with.
What’s on your stereos these days?
Kellzo: As far as current releases go, the new Form a Log record is really great. Mostly I’ve been into local radio for the past year or so. There’s a really amazing old timey station around here called WRDV which plays a lot of big band, vocal jazz, and doo-wop. That station’s on all day long for me. WPRB out of Princeton has some great programming and WKDU here in Philly is pretty solid.
Paul: I’m listening to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust right now, but I think I’m just feeling maudlin.
What should we be looking out for?
Kellzo: We’re playing local shows as they come and we’ve got a few shows in New England over the summer. There’s another European tour in the works for early Spring of 2015. We’re excited to get back on the road in the States and would love to make it out west soon.
Snowblind Traveler is the moniker used by Long Island native Matt Dorrien; the nomadic title steeped from a Dylan Thomas poem of the same name. He’s now premiering “Mill Valley” off his upcoming album Confederate Burial available July 15. Ben Burney’s varied talents and Papercuts’ Jason Quever’s engineering prowess make for some of the greatest sad songs that Elliott Smith never penned.
Matt describes the whole sordid scene of the Bay Area tech wars like a drifting song-slinger just passing through town(s). The scenarios and characters flash in front of you like affluent tycoons and trophy wives wearing the latest trend in self-serving jest. For anyone who has ever been frustrated and confused by the condescension of the bourgeois swells, this song is it. Also, for the angered, the annoyed, and those ambitious enough to cut against the grain of the ladder-climbing sects in order to establish their own foundations, this song is it. Matt joined us for an extensive interview immediately following the debut of “Mill Valley” to discuss Confederate Burial, the Bay, and more.
In what ways have the worlds of Brookhaven, Long Island, SF, and beyond lent local inspirations to your work?
Every place I’ve ever been has left its mark on my soul. Maybe it’s the leaving of these places, and never really knowing where “home” is that moves me the most. I was born in Brookhaven on Long Island, and some of my fondest childhood memories are from that short period of my life. My family moved us to the suburbs of Los Angeles when I was around seven years old, and it was a very traumatic experience for me. All that was familiar to me was torn away at an early age. In my mind I couldn’t understand why we had left a place with beautiful changing seasons, golden jumping-in-leaves autumns, and magical snow-blanketed Christmases, for a festering pustule of a city, in the middle of a desert. The experience left such a scar that I think it became a permeating theme in my songwriting for a long time.
I moved back to New York (Brooklyn specifically) when I was in my mid 20s because I wanted to be a part of the music scene there. I was very excited for a time, because I wanted to retrace the footsteps of all of my heroes of the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene (not to mention every other musician that has traveled to NY for music). New York’ll chew you up and vomit you out though. It was especially a culture shock for me, being that I had spent most of my young adult life in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Ultimately I ended up having a nervous breakdown. After spending a few tumultuous years in New York, I decided that it wasn’t my home and I needed to head to the Pacific Northwest. I was inspired to move to Portland, OR because of one of my biggest songwriting heroes, Elliott Smith. My sister lived in San Francisco at the time and so I thought that the easiest transition would be to move in with her for a while and save up enough money to make it up to Portland. Some great things happened while in San Francisco: I met Ben Burney and some other great musicians, and was able to record two albums with him and Jason Quever of Papercuts. Overall, however, I think I really detested the Bay Area and Marin. What it was in the days of the Beats, and even in the 60s and 70s when musicians and artists made it their haven, is nothing like it is now. I found most of SF and Marin County, especially Mill Valley, to be a sty of elitists and pretentious, arrogant people. There were definitely a few really great folks that I met, and the climate and geography of the place is gorgeous, but it wasn’t for me. So after completing production of the soon-to-be-released album, Confederate Burial, I decided to make my way up North.
I currently reside in Portland, OR.
What is the story behind choosing the name, Snowblind Traveler?
I was playing with some local musicians while living in San Francisco a few years ago, and I wanted to make the project more inclusive in case anything solidified with them. So I undertook the arduous task of finding a band name. Snowblind Traveler is from a Dylan Thomas short story called “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”: “Now we were snow-blind travelers lost on the north hills…” I thought the imagery seemed a fitting metaphor for my journey in life. The musical and impressionistic nature of his prose, especially in “A Child’s Christmas”, had such a profound influence on me growing up. Lines like, “our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss,” kill me.
How do you marry a kind of Brill Building folk sensibility with a West Coast way of mind?
Well, I think because of the fact that San Francisco and Marin has been such a destination for wealthy people, and specifically because the headquarters for a lot of corporations in the technology industry are based in the bay area, it has become this hot bed for the elite.
What have you enjoyed lately about the Bay Area scenes and happenings?
I really don’t know that much about what’s happening currently in SF, since I now reside in Portland. Portland has so far been a wonderful new home. I really love how people and businesses seem to be more concerned with the artisanal aspect of business, rather than the monetary reward. The music scene seems to be especially inclusive, whereas in SF I always felt very disconnected. It’s not perfect here by any means, but I do feel more comfortable.
Give us the scoop on how you met Papercuts’ Jason Quever and Ben Burney, and how they lent their magic for “Mill Valley”?
I met Ben Burney through a mutual friend, and soon discovered he was not only a superb drummer, but also an all around superb musician. He has an innate musical inclination. On the record, and this song specifically, he helped me arrange and sing the vocal harmonies. He can hear harmonies that I often had no idea were there. His drumming, especially on this song where he plays that complex rhythm of the shaker on top of the steady beat of the drums, was amazing and really brings the song to a whole new level.
Jason Quever had placed an ad on FB advertising his studio and engineering for a reasonable rate. I jumped on it because I always really loved his music and production with Papercuts. He has spent most of his life amassing some very unique and interesting analog equipment, and has spent the same amount of time mastering that equipment and perfecting his production and recording style. He also plays just about every instrument. On “Mill Valley” he played bass and electric.
Both Jason and Ben are Beatles and Elliott Smith fans, as am I. So I think that is evident in the production of the track.
What Mill Valley memories inspired this number?
There were these kids that always hung around in downtown Mill Valley, and they genuinely had the appearance of being down and out. The type of traveling hobo kids you see here in Portland, and especially Seattle. They look like a cross between a Depression-era Dustbowl migrant, and a hippie from the 70s. Granted, most of those types of kids are legitimately down and out, and hitchhike from town to town in search of their next meal and dry place to sleep. However, I found out later that most of the ones that I saw in Mill Valley actually came from pretty affluent families that owned expensive castles at the top of the hill, and they all went to the most progressive, exclusive schools around. It really bothered me. The second verse and chorus of “Mill Valley” was specifically about those kids:
“There is a town where the kids don’t work, they fight for equal pay. And leave their homes and their trust fund lives just to live the “common way”. And all their money, well it grows upon their family tree. Believe me when they get hungry, they’ll crawl back upon their hands and their knees. Ain’t no place that they’d rather be.”
What’s your method for song compositions?
I don’t really have an exact method that I follow when writing a song. It’s all about listening to the inspiration when it whispers, or gnaws at me. Sometimes I’ll read a book that really inspires me, and other times the inspiration will flow from really poignant, life-changing moments in my life. Sometimes I write the music first, sometimes I write the lyrics first, and sometimes it all comes together at the same time. Honestly though, I feel like my most substantial material comes when I’m despondent. Hence, I’ve been trying to keep myself in a perpetual state of sadness: moving from town to town, never setting roots down, constantly failing at relationships, spending night after night at bars.
What else should we be listening to right now but aren’t?
My other single, “Confederate Burial”, the title track from my new record, is up on Bandcamp right now.
As far as other people’s music: There is a great local artist by the name of Barna Howard that I’m really digging lately.
Snowblind Traveler’s album, Confederate Burial, will be available July 15 via Bandcamp.
Recently releasing his self-titled album debut Jargon Party, Brooklyn-by-Portland, Maine’s Zach Lewis premieres “Surf Rock Anthem 7” and stops by for a conversation. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Lewis practices and preaches a love for the modern world’s music in a language that edifies the electric guitar as the greatest gift humankind has ever invented.
Rocking around the clock with romantic numbers that run through “Isabella”, “Lucy Melanie”, and “I Want To So Much”, Jargon Party paints up the garage pop patois with a lexicon to last for all time. The Burger Records bunch and other denizens of DIY communities should take note. On our feature of “Surf Rock Anthem 7”, Zach dishes out a beach storm cyclone that knocks over sand castles, interrupts the volleyball games, and tears up the tide. Zach turns up the tension on this board blaster, catching nervous waves that keep things coastal with a keen degree of chaos. High heights, songs written with heart attached to sleeve, and honest interludes of hesitation bring a humanist humor to the world of Jargon Party. Zach talked to us for a bit to provide an inside look and listen.
What has the move from Brooklyn to Portland, Maine been like for you?
Transformative and shocking. New York City is a great place and was very hard to leave. It was the right decision for me though. It allowed me to see what was really important in my life; what is necessary and what is superfluous. I gained a better understanding of how privileged I am to live life comfortably. The only heat in the house came from a wood stove and my life revolved around a limited ferry schedule. It was hard work but ultimately worth it, which, I guess, anything worth doing is.
How do you feel these two locales informed and impacted your creative process?
There is so much creative energy in New York, it oozes out of the subway… at least I hope that’s what that was. After a few years it started to feel draining and confusing. It was as if too many radios were on at one time, drowning everything out. It got very static and it was hard to listen to myself. The beauty of Peaks Island was that it was the exact opposite. I was surrounded by the ocean and trees and wildlife. I love the ocean. I also got to really focus on my thoughts and listen to myself. I could play as loud as I wanted, at any time of the day. It was very freeing and allowed me to explore various musical avenues I wouldn’t have been able to in Brooklyn. There wasn’t enough room there.
What are the Portland, Maine scenes like? Is there an appreciation for DIY surf rock and such over there?
Everyone I’ve met in Portland, Maine has been extremely friendly and supportive of each other. There’s a vibrant local scene ranging from folk revival rock, to jazz, to electronic indie pop, to hardcore punk/metal. DIY is definitely appreciated, and I feel quite at home here.
Tell us about making “Surf Rock Anthem 7”, and all about the other six anthems that paved the way to seven.
I feel I must confess that the name is a tad tongue-in-cheek. The song isn’t the seventh in a long series of other surf anthems, but that is a good idea and maybe I should do that. It just encompassed how I was feeling at that time. It was in the middle of the summer and it was insanely hot! I was pretty exhausted, but I couldn’t stop playing, and the song just kind of popped up, with the name and everything, so I kept it.
Your delivery is rad. What is your own creative, inspirational songwriting process like?
That’s very nice of you to say. I love music and I always want to write music that inspires the same feelings of excitement and the ‘damn, that’s so awesome!’ feeling I get when I hear music I love. I try to spend a couple hours a day playing music. Normally with the guitar or piano I play over all the songs I’ve written; some covers, some noodling. Through all of that, I sort of stumble upon a song. Like, the entire song. I’ll start playing a chord or even just a note or two, and it all just comes pouring out of my fingers. It’s a bit bizarre but I’ve come to embrace it. The same goes for the lyrics. I feel like a sound explorer. I discover these songs, or maybe they discover me. I try not to analyze the process too much. I don’t want it to disappear.
Do you feel that those 50s/60s chord licks from Dick Dale and forgotten singles have affected your sound?
I’ve always really enjoyed that sound, the surf rock sound, and it has probably influenced me a lot. I would always listen to the oldies station as a little kid, those songs were my jam. It’s just one of the many styles that have influenced me, but I hold it very dear to my heart.
Summer plans for Jargon Party?
I’m excited to explore the music scene in Portland. Possibly find some players and do some live shows if something works out or comes together organically. I love playing live, but with all of the moving around, I haven’t had the time. I’m working on some demos and doing a lot of writing too. Also, I want to go to the beach. I need to pencil that in.
Things you’re excited about sound-wise these days?
I’ve always been intrigued by futuristic robot sounds, bright distortion, and the sound of ice in a glass of whiskey.
Desert Island records you have to have around you at all times?
After I had constructed a coconut powered Victrola I would make sure I had: The Beatles’ White Album, The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society, The Ruby Suns’ Sea Lion, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Of Montreal’s Skeletal Lamping, Rilo Kiley’s Take Offs and Landings, LCD Soundsystem’s self titled debut, Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam, and many more depending on how I wash up upon this island.
Jargon’s Party’s self-titled is available now via Bandcamp.
LET’S DRIVE TO ALASKA
Liphemra’s Part 3 mixtape was a big moment for the LA artist, rising up in the fields of musical and video direction, with an already established name as a talented percussionist.
Which brings us to the Let’s Drive to Alaska remix of Liphemra’s recent single, “Bandaid”, introducing a dub organ progression. The jazz element dissolves into the audio texture of an elusive specter that haunts what feels like the stage of an abandoned speakeasy. The LDTA duo of Christopher Garcia and Patrick Haag are no doubt ones to watch. Christopher shared the following with us about the remix, and other items of upcoming interest:
We love doing remixes for Liphemra. It always falls into place so well, because her vocals capture such a wide range of emotions. We know she has a dark sound so we had to incorporate that into the mix while still leaving some LDTA signature sounds. We have a free remix album in the works from our last single, “Lower Moon”, featuring remixes from Kalva Won, Repeated Measure, Technocrat and Vamp coming out July 22. We also have a free residency this September at the continental room in Fullerton. We have a really good line up of bands each night, including our first night with Liphemra, Kalva Won and Repeated Measures.
Listen to more from Let’s Drive to Alaska and download the “Bandaid” remix via Bandcamp.
MEMORY IN PLANT
We got introduced to Memory In Plant this week, who shared the spectacular “This Love”, off their July 31-slated album, An Epic of Triumph. Formed in Tel Aviv a year back, Yehiel Hamou, Chen Firsel, and Imri Cohen carry on the exciting independent underground of Israel’s under-represented scene of sound boundary breakers, movers, machers, and shakers. Chen wrote us the following piece about the band’s beginnings, and upcoming album:
We all met at Music College and started collaborating. After a few sessions, we realized that we had something unique and fresh and decided to make it official. An Epic Triumph was recorded in our home studio with a very experimental approach that got more clear as we moved on with the project. Many of the recordings were made in very unusual ways. For example, in one of the songs, Imri sang his vocal part to a mic that was plugged into a chain of old guitar fx pedals while Chen was playing with the pedals’ parameters, and the whole signal was running through a very lousy, old keyboard monitor that was mic’d back to the audio interface. We designed our own mixing/mastering process because we knew that we were the only ones that could accomplish what we were going for, on our non-existent budget.
Zath’s Black Goat Razor 7″ is out now on GOD? Records, operated in cooperation with Drag City by none other than the almighty Ty Segall. Here is something crunchy and destructive, where the walls of existence are dissolved in the violent resistance of an army of angry doom metal-enthused goat heads.
Speaking of Ty’s God? Records, we got the b-side for Running’s Frizzled single available July 22, with the rolling scuzz tornado storm, “Totally Fired”. Here, the most menacing guitars churn in funnels that plow the land into the vortex eye, mashing all of earth. Not to be missed.
After long last, it’s here: We’re talking about Florence, Alabama’s son, Gene the Southern Child with collaborators Parallel Thought on their most epic album to date, Southern Meridian. Available now exclusively through Adult Swim, take a ride with Florence friends heated up in a game of foes in the video for, “Smackman”. Watch out for an upcoming detailed interview with Gene and Parallel Thought dropping soon in Impose.
Athen, GA’s Ella Kaspar and Lenny Miller are Cancers, who blow some cool smoke in our face with “Be Cool”, recorded at Soundhouse Studio in Seattle, off their Fatten the Leeches album available September 16. Ella makes the case for relationships with minimal complications, and a communication that requests a coolness and kindness in return.
Peep the lovely Dorian Concept video from prcls for “Draft Culture”, taking you through the visual-electric kaleidoscope off the upcoming album, Joined Ends, available September 22 from Ninja Tune.
Modern Vices will release their self-titled album October 7 on Autumn Tone. Fresh off a slew of NYC dates, they share the DIY budget-bop of “Cheap Style”. The band of Alex, Peter, Thomas, Patrick, and Miles prefer to call their sound “dirty doo-wop,” but we like to think of it as dishing it out and doing it with style on the dole.
With Toons’ tape, shirt, and screenprint bundles available from the ol’ Old Flame Store, start “wondering where all these cows come from” in some of the most jamming power pop ballads about cows eating all your grass while you demand its dairy wonders, on “Milkin'”.
Savaging Spires sent some vocals and woodwinds up into the heaves on the title track off their upcoming album, We Should Be Dead Together, available August 19 from Critical Heights. The classical and traditional instruments are strummed and hummed through a unique passage of song and experimental comfort.
Zach Johnston directs PHOX in the video for “Kingfisher”, that imagines games of fantasy and sport amid natural dwellings. Having recently spoken to us a few weeks back about their Partisan Records self-titled album, Monica Martin said the following about the song and video:
Crickette. You have some heavy stuff you’re carrying around with you and so do I. So do we all. Matt’s a calypso-cat drummer and I’m blind to myself. J-Sean heaved in too much helium to sing good and Pep and Dave are worshiping donuts in the river where the current is strong. I wish jellyfish could swim in the air. Maybe if they could swim in the air then he’d love you like you imagined him. Maybe we’d all get what we saw at night. Probably not. Well at least it’s easier to carry heavy things around with all six of us. Six broken hearts are like one good heart. I guess it’s fine if jellyfish can’t swim in the air or that Kingfishers can’t fly underwater. Probably best to keep eating our daily bread and try to make today into some kind of dream.
Peep the Goldrush video for Smoke DZA’s “Hearses” ft. Ab-Soul, off DZA’s biggest release to date, Dream.Zone.Achieve from his own label, RFC Music Group. The combination of forces find the friends slowing it down to a molasses speed.
Steve Gunn takes us out to the power pop pastures of “Milly’s Garden” off Way Out Weather, available October 17 from Paradise Of Bachelors. Everyone is talking about the ‘lush’ character of this new record, but to be honest, this truly is the way Steve always meant for his songs and styles to come across.
Matthew Herbert of Accidental Records dropped his Part 6 EP via his surname only, sending us all a stream of down-tempo tones to keep those mellow moods and times ticking and kicking.
These Ghosts dropped the muscle-flexing visual abstractions for the single, “Coat of Feathers”, off the single released ahead of their album, Still The Waves, available September 15 via Goldsmith and Accidental’s collaborative imprint, NX Records. Watch as feathers descend upon the human arm like a downy snowfall of soft threads.
Adult Jazz’s educator in chief, Harry Burgess, takes us to school in the Samuel Travis video that features an excerpt of “Idiot Mantra”, off the the upcoming album, Gist, available August 5 from Spare Thought. The acoustic fundamentals of a cappella are entertained in a project called “Community Rhythms”, where the Leeds group shows off the power of unplugged expressions of harmony and holistic percussion.
Peep the Eddie Austin and Perry Shall video for PUJOL’s “Youniverse”, found off their Saddle Creek album, KLUDGE. It’s just another day with Daniel Pujol thrift store styling about Philly, featuring cameo appearances from Ted Leo, Jodi Leo, Juiceboxxx, Screaming Females, and many more.
Chicago’s Dan Zima and Xoe Wise, aka Kinky Love, have released their Promise EP, lending their minimalist electronic dance whispers of “Hush”. Check out our conversation with Kinky Love in this exclusive premiere / interview piece.
Zero 7 dropped the prism-rotating beat and crooning bravado of the title track off their Simple Science EP, available August 18 from Make Records. The UK duo institution of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker keep dishing out electronic beat arrangements to keep that disco ball spinning for all seasons.
Listen to The Album Leaf collaborative track with Peter Broderick on “Never Held a Baby”, before a performance and screening of their Michael Raines doc Beyond There at Hollywood Forever on July 15. Recorded one afternoon in LA, the result is an organic electric experience based on the principles of a sentimental experiment.
Peep the trailer for The Album Leaf’s documentary, Beyond Here now.
Those bros BRONCHO dropped the catchy cool “dah dah dah dah dah” action of class clowns and teacher’s pets on the song, “Class Historian”, off their album, Just Enough Hip To Be a Woman, available September 16 from Dine Alone Records.
Colin Macfadyen creates a series of sketched, drawn, and inked patterns that ripple in the foreground and distances that make up the environments and impressionism of Craft Spells’ “Nausea”. Taken from the album of the same name available from Captured Tracks, Justin Paul Vallesteros returns with a new piano-noted mindset that seeks a spatial solace and peace from the sickness of the world’s over-saturation of stimuli .
Enter the electro-fields of, “Endourban”, off Dark Pool, Black Rain’s new album available in August from Blackest Ever Black. Listen as NYC’s Stuart Argabright takes dystopian sound tropes into an unknown, and uncertain future where the technological singularity sounds like the least of your existential concerns.
Yony Leyser has given us the documentary, William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, and now takes on the underground lives of Berlin artists in, Desire Will Set You Free. Leyser has started a Kickstarter to help fund the film project that features appearances and performances from Blood Orange, Nina Hagen, Peaches, Rummelsnuff, Sookee, Einstürzende Neubauten’s Jochen Arbeit, Wolfgang Müller, photographer Miron Zowni, and many more. Check out the details in the following trailer:
Mike Diaz, aka Millionyoung, lends the super sweet electro-skank and sink of, “Fade Away”, off the upcoming Materia EP, available July 29 from Old Flame Records. The most tranquil summer vibes imaginable will manifest themselves first at the gateways of your ears, and then proceed into the mazes of the mind’s labyrinth.
Tin Desert, aka Sarah Kim, released a new piano lead single called “Unquiet Guest”. The piano falls like rain, where Kim’s vocals lightly descend on the dew-kissed surface of the waking earth. Having talked to us a few weeks back, Sarah described her latest chorus of keys with the following reflections:
“Unquiet Guest” is titled after a line in a poem by the German poet, Oskar Pastior, whose work caught my attention recently. The song is heavily rooted in layers of piano. Piano is the first instrument I learned to play, and the one I have the most personal connection with, which comes out in the song.”