Week in Pop: Conrad Kira, Coromandelles, Hey Anna, No Sky God

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With the industry is currently wrapped up in the CMJ Music Marathon, Impose’s Week in Pop presents your end-of-the-week listening lineup. But first, the big stories of today: Following up news of Florist’s upcoming Holdly EP, Double Double Whammy announced an upcoming Told Slant LP for 2016, also playing DDW CMJ showcase tonight at Silent Barn (on the road to recovery post-fire); Arca announced his forthcoming album Mutant available November 20 from Mute, shares the self-directed video for “EN”; new Tyler, the Creator track drops; Dr. Dre expressed a desire to tour Europe with Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, & Eminem; Lizzo announces her forthcoming album Big GRRRL Small World for release December 11, shares BJ Burton track “Humanize”; Metz revealed new single “Eraser” available January 22 via Three One G/Sub Pop; Gorillaz to return in 2016, Damon Albran further elaborated; signs emerge with a new merch website that there is some activity happening in the Hüsker Dü camp; Swans to reissue White Light From the Mouth of Infinity & Love of Life available December 4 on Young God / Mute; AmCo’s Feels turned 10 this week, band shares audio from 2004 show at Chapel Hill, NC venue Cat’s Cradle; Jay Z testifed over “Big Pimpin'” sample; Mercury Prize hype; David Bowie has officially retired from touring; Condé Nast acquired Pitchfork, cornering a demographic that chief digital officer Fred Santarpia called “a very passionate audience of millennial males;” and we lament the loss of Camera Obscura’s Carey Lander.

Showcasing a few insights, debuts, and interviews from some of our favorites—we bring you Conrad Kira, Coromandelles, Hey Anna, No Sky God, Conner Youngblood, Løchstøer, Martin Crane, Moss Lime, Negative Gemini, Rice Cultivation Society, Shady Elders, Total Unicorn, Two Death, featuring guest selections by Princess Century and more—in no particular order.

Hey Anna

A sisterly huddle with Hey Anna; photographed by Raquel Perez.
A sisterly huddle with Hey Anna; photographed by Raquel Perez.

When we last conversed Hey Anna’s sisters in arms Anna, Erin, and Katie Rauch-Sasseen; they were debuting “By The Bay”, and the subsequent much lauded album Run Koko existed only in vague and veiled language. From that same record, Brooklyn by New Jersey’s Hey Anna present the world premiere of their video for “Mt. Picchu”. where North Jersey images of factories, utility plants, and other images of transitory infrastructure of logistics is observed like the majestic Machu Picchu of the Andes.

Romantic reflections and lyrics about hiking the gorgeous heights of a marvel like “Mt. Picchu” becomes visually translated by Hey Anna into the open road every day worlds of runways, shipyards, and the industrious locales found at the Elizabeth, New Jersey seaport. In-flight window images of blue skies and blankets of clouds becomes juxtaposed by mountains, trees, bridges, city scenes, parks, airline outlets, cargo freights, and ship loaders become collected together to make for a moving experience. Anna, Erin, and Katie band together in moments of shared thought, laughs, and pensive moments of pause to late night sessions spent on a swing set. The moods of the closing song from Hey Anna’s summer released album Run Koko are complimented by the various visual settings where items of everyday utility are hoisted up to a shared level of fascination and intrigue like mythic natural phenomenons of splendor. The notions of melancholy and the song’s own atmospheric push toward staggering heights emphasizes the inherent beauty in surroundings that often getting taken for granted. With the progression of “Mt. Picchu” pointed toward celestial spaces and worlds, Hey Anna emphasizes a notion of discovering (and/or rediscovering) a nirvana that always existed around us along if observed through the proper channels of perspective. After the following gorgeous debut of Hey Anna’s “Mt. Picchu”, read our lively interview with Anna, Erin, & Katie:

When we last talked over a year ago during summer 2014, we had the pleasure of debuting the single “By the Bay”, and then recently your anticipated album Run Koko saw release. There were many hints at the epic proportions you all were headed toward in our previous discussion, talking about combining previous accustomed approaches with new ones and I just wanted to hear what that whole album making process was like, reflecting back now.

What did you all take away from this experience? I really feel like the album was so personally expressive, while being really grand in vision and execution all the while.

Erin: Thank you for debuting “By the Bay”! To this day, your review is one of our favorites. It’s really something when a writer gets our music.

The songs on Run Koko were written over the course of several years without us knowing where they would end up. However, since we recorded most of them within a year, I think we were able to present them as a more cohesive whole, rather than miscellaneous snippets from our lives.

There are the songs we each wrote alone, some we wrote with Matthew and our former guitar player, Andrew. Then there are the newer songs that came together when Jamie joined the band and those have a different kind of urgency to them and a different viewpoint. I think those songs are the voice of the band and our longing to achieve something greater than ourselves, and not just one sister writing about her heart.

One of the biggest things we tortured ourselves with was track order. How do we turn this collection of songs into an album? Some of the early track lists we had would have made this a completely different thing. When we finally landed on the order, it was like some higher being had been waiting for us to put the puzzle together and we were like, ‘Oh! So, that’s what that means.’

How have you all noticed learned traits or experiences from making Run Koko informing your current writings and recordings?

Erin: Moving forward in our writing process, we’re more aware that the next songs we write together will have an end goal in mind. We know we’re writing them for album number two. We’re not sure what it will be or what it will say, but I think we’ll be coming at it differently this time.

We’ve been working with a lot of new guitar sounds—thanks to Jamie—and I think this will play a role in the new material.

We’re just ready to be creative again.

Catching up with Hey Anna; photographed by Raquel Perez.
Catching up with Hey Anna; photographed by Raquel Perez.

Erin, you and I were just talking the other day about the video for “Mt. Picchu” being an “ode to sisterly affection.” Tell us how this song of sibling camaraderie coupled with notions of the Peruvian Andes Mountain Machu Picchu became paired with images of dockside gazing, with transitory images of planes, bridges, runways, warehouses, shipyards, stockyards, and more all came together visually?

Anna: If you look at the arc of the album, “Mt. Picchu” is the moment where the protagonist is devastatingly optimistic and hopeful—the entire song is in the conditional and future tenses: It’s about going somewhere, ‘We’d climb to the top of Mt. Picchu,’ and ‘that’d be heaven to me.’ But, what seems to be a delightful song on the surface is actually sad and melancholy. It becomes painfully obvious with the final line of the song, ‘we’ll cheat time and get there,’ that the singer is alone, that they haven’t ‘gotten there’ yet. In the video we wanted to transcend that notion and have the protagonist move from ‘oh…one day we’ll get there’ to the realization that ‘we’ve been here all along.’

Katie: [talking to the rest of her sisters] Guys, do we sound like douchebags?

Erin: Not at all! Ha ha, we’re artists.

Anna: To portray heaven on earth we juxtapose the enduring permanence of the mountains with transitory motifs like planes, runways, shipping crates from the seaport in Elizabeth, New Jersey, etc. The key is that those things that seem impermanent are the things that connect us to the rest of the world: planes, bridges, runways, shipyards. Just like all our little day-to-day movements that seem unimportant are the moments that make a life. It’s motion vs stillness; time and spacetime. We’re constantly moving, rushing around like the blood in your veins but when you step back all that rushing was the lifeblood flow of this greater organism. We’re moving forward in time but if you step back it’s all part of the cohesive fabric of spacetime.

Katie: [among themselves] I thought it was about being dreamers…spacetime?

Anna: Katie it’s like you are in the dream! the dream is reality reality is the dream. Katie you know everything goes back to spacetime with me.

Anna: A lot of music videos are set out west with the gorgeous desert as the scenery.

Katie: Should we delete this? Nobody wants to read a novel right now—obviously I’m talking about the four paragraphs about how I put yak hair on Anna and Erin’s feet to make them more authentically like hobbits, ha ha!

Erin: What is happening. I love all of this…but we wanted to do this video in North Jersey, a place with notoriously bad rap for being a blight upon the Garden State, to challenge the accepted ‘North Jersey is hideous’ and show how something generally thought of as an eyesore and certainly not a vacation destination like Machu Picchu is actually beautiful. I think it reinforces that idea of stuff you pass through being just as important as wherever you are going.

The big moment in the video is at the awesome powerplant/cogeneration facility, the energy source for that whole area. Anyway our vision was to stand among all the generators—but they wouldn’t let us inside.

Katie: Duh, classic us thinking we could just walk around somewhere like that, so we had to stand outside by the fence. And I think there’s something there! Something about never seeing behind the machinery of this whole crazy world we live in. It’s all a beautiful interconnected heavenly web.

Anna: There! we’re done, right?

Katie: Yeah, we’re done….wait, what happened to the stuff about the shipping boxes resting with treasures inside and Sunday having no workers so all movement is stopped?

Erin: Sjimon, this is what it’s like having sisters!

[all break out in laughter]

I like too that the more meditative facets of your sound has a variety of spaces to exist in with the video for “Mt. Picchu”. What do you all feel are some of the challenges of translating your sound to the visual representative medium like music videos?

Katie: I think that’s the fun part. All of us have seen enough indie band videos to know that if you put sad music to a happy stuffed animal bear it’s now it’s a melancholy statement about unhappy youth—it’s a pretty typical video motif. We wanted to do the opposite and change someone’s outlook toward the positive. In “Mt. Picchu” we used a lot of long shots of the shipping port in the same way the camera would rest on that poor bear, so you can really think about the setting paired with the lyrics.

Erin: Also, I think “Mt. Picchu” is special because the recording is just the girls and Matthew. Andrew was in Mexico at the time we recorded it—and Jamie wasn’t in the band yet—so it’s just Erin on guitar, Anna on the sitar/synth thing, Katie on bass, Matt drums—naturally—and all the sisters singing. Because it was just the four of us, there is extra space in the song and I think we wanted to capture some of that.

Hey Anna's Erin Rauch-Sasseen & Matthew Langner; photographed by Katie Rauch-Sasseen.
Hey Anna’s Erin Rauch-Sasseen & Matthew Langner; photographed by Katie Rauch-Sasseen.

And being that “Mt. Picchu” is the very last song on Run Koko, we got to ask what is next in the works from the world of Hey Anna?

Erin: We like to work out of order and put things out as it feels right. We’ve got a video for “Island” in the rafters and are working on concepts for “Don’t Talk Stop.” We’re also considering doing a stripped down winter album. Maybe.

Anna: Run Koko is kind of an active listener, so maybe we’ll do a slower album next time. One of our friends—no joke—got into a car accident while listening to it. We’re convinced it was the album. So for the well-being of our listeners we might move into chillwave. Who knows? But for now, Katie will keep commuting through North Jersey with delusions of grandeur, as always.

Local NYC acts (and maybe some not-so-local) that you all are into right now, that we should be listening to right now?

Stone Cold Fox, Off and On, Box Tiger, Weakened Friends, Gramma’s Boyfriend.

If Hey Anna had their own advice column or lifestyle/gossip/fashion/ whatever magazine, what would it be called and why?

Katie: It would probably be called ‘A Bagel A Day…’ we’re still thinking of sublines…

Anna: halfway to the milky way…

Katie: keeps the boys at bay…watch my brain decay.

Erin: We just love bagels.

Conrad Kira

Introducing South London's Conrad Kira.
Introducing South London’s Conrad Kira.

While London in the press as of late has had the focus placed upon the biggest DJs, EDM aficionados and the like; South London’s loyal and royals like Conrad Kira bring the grime territories into pointed modern day hip hop minimalism that packs a maximum punch. Premiering the Meg Lavender house party video for Conrad Kira’s “The Bang” brings his Playstation and Atari beats to life for the kind of home based rager that is sure to have the neighbors phoning the local authorities. Following up his recent video for “Baka”, Conrad gets his friends in the Wilkinson Massive involved for a banger that celebrates the sporadic and erratic arbitrary aspects that comprise our existence.

“The Bang” video directed by Meg Lavender begins with Conrad confronting himself in a bathroom mirror as he takes his narrative from the inner thoughts zones and into the hallways, and stairways of a happening soiree already in progress. The production moves like an arcade adventure as Meg keeps the camera following Kira through a circular tunnel view of emcee and producer constantly making his way throughout the house, passing by fellow party-going comrades, moving in motion to the action spit delivery of his rapid thought bars. Conrad’s expressionistic delivery presents his autobiographic points in a honest manner that keeps in mind cares for family, friends, lovers, delivering the world a slice of life on his home turf. Right after the music video debut of “The Bang”, read our following interview with South London son Conrad Kira.

Give us the story on what initially brought you to the worlds of lyrical craft and production.

When I was 14, I would listen to pirate radio every night and try to write bars. Then a neighbor of mine lent me an Atari and a keyboard. Once I had all my beats down on tape, I would take the tape into school for the other kids to spit or rap over. Technology is more advanced now, but at 14, that was all I had and I loved it!.

How do you describe your own sound that emerges from the UK grime canons and international expanses of hip hop/post-hip hop.

My style is definitely Grimey and industrial. Though I am also influenced by soundtracks and video game scores and experimental electronic music. I like to take odd sounds and put banging drum beats behind them. Snares are especially important to my sound.

Describe the contemporary South London backdrop that gave rise to Rictus, how everything from environment, events, politics, and socioeconomic discourses informed this EP.

I’ve lived in South London all my life. I’m not going to say it is the worst place to live, but it can be hard growing up in an location surrounded by lots of gang activity etc. I think this definitely shaped me into the person I am today.

All that aside though, I love how mixed and colorful the area was and still is but, areas like these are becoming very gentrified now and as much as I like new venues cropping up, I can see it becoming less mixed everyday. It’s kind of losing its individual identity. People are being priced out of areas they’ve lived in forever and it’s sad. I’d never thought I’d be the only black man in a bar in Peckham but it’s common now. I feel a slight segregation developing. The EP is based on what I went through as a youth, to being an adult here struggling to find an identity and not knowing where I’m going. The Peckham Job Centre was a key influence as well.

conrad kira week in pop 2

Tell us about the making of the energetic, fishbowl lensed video from Meg Lavender for “The Bang”. What was that shoot session like?

It was mad! The theme was about trying to enjoy a party but feeling kind of alone and anxious at the same time. It was hard for me because I wanted to join in with everyone but I had to perform.

It was supposed to be a fake party, but it eventually kind of turned into a real one later on. It was great working with Meg she has the right level of fun and professionalism. The cast was made up of our friends, so big up to them!

Give us insights into your own approaches to both penning tracks, bars, back-beats, and electronic soundscapes for your cuts.

I like to get stuck in, I don’t wanna spend ages setting up sounds before I start, I just wanna make beats while the inspiration’s in me. Usually the beat comes first but Sometimes I might record an idea for a verse and build a track around it, then I’ll freestyle over the beat and pick out some of the good bits and make a song out of that. I like to have a message in what I say, but I don’t mind making my lyrics more simple if it makes the track sound better, you can sometimes say more with fewer words.

Who are some of the underdogs that you want to recognize that more people need to know about?

Rosa Brook has a damn good voice, it’s like a super power. I wanna hear more stuff from her. James Massiah is a great all around Artist, I wanna see some releases from him soon. Up In The Ear is a sick Producer/DJ who remixed one of my tracks. I was fan of his work before we collaborated. That dude knows a lot. I generally think Black British Artists are usually the underdogs and should get more recognition for contributing to British culture. I’d like our ideas to be fully acknowledged instead of being hijacked.

conrad kira week in pop 3

Interested in hearing about the UK by Japan connection with your influences. Feels like both underground circuits deal with some very progressive, and bright maximalist approaches to production.

I’ve always been a fan of video games and anime music, I’m a big fan of YMO. The creative wealth that the country has produced is immense. The ideas I see when I walk around are so progressive, the practical engineering, the fashion. The clothes are really futuristic, they’re like pieces of art unique to that part of the world. The bars are like Museums and Sitting rooms. I think the UK and Japan have strong subcultures. Both are influenced by other countries far and wide yet each has incorporated this influence in their own way. You can hear this in the music especially.

Thoughts, hopes, and prayers for 2016?

I’m going to release some more projects, hit up the festivals and hopefully get more established and known in the underground music scene. I’m also putting on more events like Pull Up, a night myself, Up in The Ear and Stephseeks are putting on in London. The 1st one’s at Ali Ba Ba Bar on the 30th Oct, and hopefully we’ll put on a lot more of them in 2016. I’m just building the movement one step at a time, that’s all I’m trying to do.


Coromandelles expound upon the secret leagues of supergroups.
Coromandelles expound upon the secret leagues of supergroups.

Introducing Coromandelles, the offshoot group from the mind of Tijuana Panthers’ Dan Michicoff who would later enlist Matt Maust from Cold War Kids on bass and visuals dutiy, percussionist of the former and The Shins’ Joe Plummer, and the harmonic nouvelle vague voices of Robyn Roth and Naomi Greene. Presenting the premiere of their French new wave era riding ear worm “New Ordain”, conversation pieces are put on display like a musical art house scene unfolding before your ears. The band prepares to release their album Late Bloomers’ Bloomers October 20 via Porch Party Records/Burger Records promising more hodge-podge pop pieces assembled in a post-modern fashion where the distinguishing audio tags of time, place, and other attributes dissolve into a Franco-American musical stew.

“New Ordain” kicks off with big chords of high drama as Dan sings the introductory line, “I am tired of being patient for you” met with Robyn and Naomi’s duet responses in French. The confrontation kicks off with the tension of Dan’s spoken “I should leave” (responded with a swift and assertive Franco inflected, ‘no’) that delves into the explorations and exchanges of expectations and the delicate human act of patience, tolerance, and all the constructive and responsive things that allow a relationship to persevere. The back and forth is heard and perceived as something of a scene from a play with a catchy, electric soundtrack or an outtake from a Godardian epic like Contempt (oka Le Mépris), or a Truffaut vignette of discourse and disagreement. Coromandelles place the listener front and center to a break-up between American and French characters of whom are serenaded with their own catchy and cool theme music. As lovers part in “New Ordain”, the spat plays off of the clever key and guitar chord hooks that feed every moment with exhilaration where it constantly feels like anything from abandonment to a warm embrace might happen. Coromandelles commander and Tijuana Panthers man Dan Michicoff talked to us about the forming of the band, the album Late Bloomers’ Bloomers right after the following debut of “New Ordain”.

Tell us how a project that first began in Tijuana Panthers’ Dan Michicoff’s LA apartment expanded to a supergroup offshoot involving Matt Maust (Cold War Kids), Robyn Roth, Naomi Greene, with The Shins’ Joe Plummer assisting on percussion, engineering, and with fellow Shins’ Yukki Matthews helping out on mixing.

I had a lot of ideas for songs that weren’t quite Tijuana Panthers songs. I was fooling around with recordings at home and had some demos ready. Whenever Joe Plummer was in town to practice with Cold War Kids we would go watch comedy at UCB on Tuesdays a show hosted by Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher, whom we named the first song after. After playing some songs for Joe and Matt we decided to have a workcation up in Seattle at Joe’s studio. Just mess around, have fun and see what happens, and not take things too serious. A kind of get away from our other bands too. We improvised some new tunes and Coromandelles became a fresh new creative outlet for us. Yukki is in the mixing game and Joe is close with him from playing in the Shins. He helped bring out the bands sound in all the ways my demos fell sonically short and there were a lot of songs that needed help.

Tell us how the name Coromandelles came about.

Maust and I would blow off steam and have a drink or two or three at an oyster bar by our house. They had an oyster there up on the daily dozen board called Coromandel. We made it feminine by adding elles at the end.

What sorts of late blooming notions and guidelines informed the creation of Late Bloomers’ Bloomers?

I was a late bloomer. While I was blooming late I thought about bloomers a lot or more accurately I thought about girls a lot. Still feel like I’m growing and have a lot to figure out. Late bloom’n.

coromandelles week in pop 2

Where did the Franco pop angle come from, or how did it come about during these song sketching and drafting sessions?

I’m very inspired by Jonathan Richman. Whenever I saw him live he would embrace other languages in his music in a very playful yet sincere way. I know a little french and I thought it would be a good way to practice and exercise my poetic part of my brain in another language. I took a lot of loose creative license with the language. Also I’m a huge fan of Jacque Dutronc, Françoise Hardy, and Serge Gainsbourg.

Dare we ask what all of you were listening to during the creative recording and brainstorming processes?

I don’t remember. I think Joe was listening to FIDLAR, Maust was probably listening to Nick Cave, and I had a big Roxy Music thing going on.

How do you all go about contributing your respective talents together as Coromandelles?

Joe really helped in engineering and recording us. His drums really punch out as something to pay attention to on the album. He also had songs to bring to the table. I play bass in my band so it was nice to have someone else, Maust, come up with new parts in his unique style. He also brought new bass lines that turned into new songs. Not to mention he’s responsible for all the album artwork, that I love.

coromandelles week in pop 3

What are you listening to right now on repeat?


What else can we expect from you all this fall and winter?

Pumpkin spices.

2016 projections and hopes?

It would be fun to work on another album when we have time and it feels right. I’d love to rope in our friend Richard Swift on the next one if he was interested.

Coromandelles debut album Late Bloomers’ Bloomers will be available October 20 via Porch Party Records/Burger Records.

No Sky God

Brooklyn's Stu Watson of No Sky God, editor of poetry journal Prelude, Shatter Your Leaves imprint operator, & more; photographed by Robb Stey.
Brooklyn’s Stu Watson of No Sky God, editor of poetry journal Prelude, Shatter Your Leaves imprint operator, & more; photographed by Robb Stey.

Stu Watson oversees the influential Shatter Your Leaves label (that features folks and friends like Extra Life, Voice Coils, Nat Baldwin, Cool Memories), starting and editing the poetic survey journal, and also leading No Sky God, premiering today the massive modern-era tribute tune “Whenever You Find Me”. Featuring contributions from a plethora of notable artists, “Whenever” features Delicate Steve’s Christian Peslak on supporting vocals taken from the forthcoming album Infidel album available November 13 from Shatter Your Leaves that also features Delicate Steve himself, Extra Life’s Charlie Looker, Fasano’s Matty Fasano, TheUsed’s Michael Durek, and still counting…. Don’t call it revivalism, this is all the strange weirdness of the late 60s and early 70s re-channeled, rewired, remade and re-modeled.

“Whenever You Find Me” is that dawn of an album age emerald that breaks from the rocky lithified sarcophagus of stone. The rhythm guitar of 60s rock iconography is handled expertly between Watson and James Marceda, featuring a strong relationship with the rhythm section’s cues governed by bassist Robbie and Jeremy Gustin on drums. Christian provides back up for Stu where they drink from the same well of their favorite Los Angeles outlaw heros who had ever dared to dream in the adversity and oddness of those storied vintage ages. The era where artists made cosmic entries into the pop music canons of critical lore and created indelible marks on the universal consciousness are resurrected with time warping theremin supplied by Michael Durek. The true grit paranoia and vulnerable edge of classic Troubador & Whiskey a Go Go stars becomes reconstructed in facsimile form where the chronological chapters and charts are thrown for a complete loop. Right after the following premiere of No Sky God’s “Whenever You Find Me”, read our insightful interview with Stu Watson himself.

From your work as the founder of Shatter Your Leaves, tell us what prompted you to help found and edit Prelude Magazine?

I’ve always split my creative energies between music and poetry. In fact, the name of my label actually comes from a passage in John Milton’s poem, “Lycidas,” so I’ve always seen the two pursuits as intertwined.

Shatter Your Leaves started just after I finished college as a CDR label which for its first few years only put out lo-fi recordings made by me. At that time I was just discovering the Pacific Northwest DIY scene around K, Marriage, and States Rights Records, listening to artists like Mount Eerie, Little Wings, and Thanksgiving, trying to mimic the sense of aesthetic freedom and confidence I found in that music. In 2008 we released our first vinyl record, A Split by Extra Life and Nat Baldwin—since then we’ve put out at least a 12” and a 7” every year; it’s been a way for me to help artists I admire get their music out into world.

Prelude has a similar mission—in 2013, two friends and I were discussing the often-fractured nature of the contemporary poetry world, and we set out to create a magazine that would be try and bridge some of those divides by being politically oriented, radically inclusive, and formally diverse. We received some important help and guidance from Keith Gessen and Marco Roth of n+1 (Marco was my Romantic Poetry TA as undergrad), and we launched our first print issue in September 2014 with some fantastic contributors, including John Ashbery, Morgan Parker, Jenny Zhang, Mira Gonzalez, and Michael Robbins, to name just a few.

Our second print issue will be out at the end of this month, and we’re very excited to get copies in people’s hands. I should say, most of the credit for Prelude’s success goes to my co-editor, Robert C.L. Crawford, who has been a guiding force in terms of both vision and organization, on top of being an excellent poet and critic himself.

I’ve found there’s a lot of synergy in running these two endeavors—we’ve featured Shatter Your Leaves artists at several Prelude readings we’ve had at Bowery Poetry in the last year, and the two art forms are of course intimately related, sharing, as they do, an origin in humanity’s primal urge for communication.

How did No Sky God first begin?

I moved to Brooklyn (from East Harlem) in 2010 and around that time my old band split up. I’d met James Marceda through the (now-defunct) social aspect of the RSS Aggregator Google Reader, and we’d started playing guitar together rather informally. I coined the name No Sky God at the (now-defunct) Bruar Falls while attending one of my friend and collaborator Sam Mickens’ ‘The Peoples Temple’ dance parties (in his final, insane, communist phase, Jim Jones took to telling his followers “No sky god is going to come and save you!”)—I think of the band name as being primarily anti-authoritarian, against people (such as, ironically, Jim Jones) who would use religion (or government) as a means of personal empowerment, rather than it’s being atheist or anti-religion (I would describe myself as “almost not an atheist” at present, in any case). But not long after coming up with the name, my friend Steven Reker from People Get Ready was setting up a show at Death by Audio (that also featured Sam Mickens’ now-defunct Ecstatic Showband and Revue and Nat Baldwin) and generously invited us to play, so almost before we knew it (and after an intense ten days of rehearsal) we were playing our first show. I asked Jeremy Gustin to play on our first record with us that night, and within a month we’d recorded what became our first EP (Nat Baldwin was also kind enough to play bass on a number of songs for that record as well). In 2012 we added another Google Reader friend, Evan Whom, on vocals, bass and guitar, and recorded Homophonia, again with Jeremy on drums. In 2014 yet another Google Reader friend, Tanner Beam, moved to Brooklyn and he joined as a third guitarist, sometimes bassist. We’ve played a lot of great shows at places like Death by Audio, Shea Stadium, and The Silent Barn, but maybe my favorite was opening for Grant Hart at Bowery Electric last year—that show was actually the night before one of the sessions for Infidel.

Tell us about how you all come together with a unified musical vision, working with an incredible array of artists like Michael Durek (of The Use), Steve (of Delicate Steve), Jeremy Gustin (who also plays with Albert Hammond Jr.), Charlie Looker (from Extra Life), Matty Fasano (aka Fasano), Robbie Lee (of Cass McCombs fame), and more?

With Infidel I wanted to make an album that imitated George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, and by that I mean an album meditating on both spiritual and petty themes, and one incorporating a unified but broad sonic palette; to accomplish this I decided to approach the record by looking beyond the confines of the four piece band we’d used on our first two records, so bringing in friends whose talents I particularly admire was a logical next step, once I had finished writing the songs (I had sort of sketched out a flowchart for the record before I even began writing the songs). Jeremy Gustin and I first met when we were both playing in Larkin Grimm’s band back in early 2010, and he’s played drums on all of our records to date and been our primary live drummer (although more recently those duties have been in the able hands of Chris “Moses” Kinlow, as Jeremy has been on tour Albert Hammond, Delicate Steve, and his own band Star Rover). Jeremy introduced me to Ben Lazar Davis. Matty Fasano and I were acquaintances in college but we’ve become much better friends through music in recent years—he’s such a genius, I am obsessed with his recent EP The Beach. I met Michael Durek when were both performing in a play by the multi-talented artist/singer/filmmaker Rachel Mason, with whom I have had the pleasure of working on a number of projects. In fact, we are working on a new collaborative Rachel Mason & No Sky God album which will hopefully be out sometime soon. Interestingly Robbie Lee and were friends as small children growing up in Massachusetts, and we reconnected in Brooklyn only through Charlie Looker (in whose project Seavan Teares Robbie plays a number of instruments)—Charlie and Nat I both got to know when they were in Dirty Projectors back in 2006. Nat also introduced me to Steve, and through Steve I met Christian. I forget if Jeremy met Steve through me or if that was an independent connection—it’s a tangled web, but however it happened I’m glad it did, because seeing Delicate Steve live with Jeremy is one of my favorite things to do. Though New York is enormous, if you go to a venue like Silent Barn or Palisades a lot, you start to run into many of the same people, and if you share common tastes, you start playing music together, though I suppose a lot is being “left out” in that description. Words fail.

In any case, we did three sessions for tracking basics at The Seaside Lounge in Park Slope, ably engineered by Jon Altschuler, and then overdubs were recorded by Cedar Apffel at Alligator Lady in Greenpoint, where the record was also mixed. The whole process took around five months, and I ended up cutting two songs from the record (too 90s), but I’m really happy with how it all came out—it’s the first record I’ve ever produced where I also wrote all of the songs. Morrissey has helped me to overcome my childhood fears of egomania.

No Sky God Cover week in pop

Tell us about the making of the peppy song “Whenever You Find Me” that features Delicate Steve’s Christian Peslak also on backing vocals.

On this number, I was thinking a lot about two things: the possibility of extraterrestrial salvation and Love. Arthur Lee is one of my favorite singers and lyricists, “Sometimes I deal with numbers”, and his masterpiece Forever Changes was another crucial point of reference for me in making Infidel.

The conceit here is that some people (notably on youtube) believe that alien visitors are responsible for all the great technological advancements of humanity, and that a brutal cadre of alien overlords (sky gods) are in fact “still pulling the strings” by means of chemtrails, subliminal messaging, etc., tightening their vice-grip around our collective necks—I find this kind of thinking exhausting in its naivete and arrogation of power to an unknown elite (the real elites are so horrifically visible). The song expresses my frustration with that variety of spiritual seeking (truth via aliens), if that makes sense (it might not!).

Christian is an amazing singer whose voice has a dynamic, distinctive character; when he said he was up to sing on this song I was thrilled—I’m looking forward to hearing what he does next with his Saint Rich project, as well as as a solo artist. Michael Durek’s theremin was a crucial ingredient on this song also, as far as giving it a sort of “Age of Aquarius,” pseudo-utopian 60s vibe. Robbie Lee’s bass playing also really glues things together.

What was it like bringing these twentieth century sound obsessions further into the twenty-first century form and contemporary fashioning?

What a great question—we tracked the guitar and drums to tape at The Seaside Lounge before running it into Pro Tools, a process that I have found really helps give songs a broad foundation over which to layer digital overdubs. Instrumentally, I kept the arrangement pretty minimalist—there’s only one rhythm guitar track, a very brief, reverb-drenched guitar solo, and then the theremin in the upper to middle range of frequencies (along with the singing of course)—the focus is really on the propulsive bass and drums, which I think have a terrific, live energy. Jeremy Gustin is an inspiring person to work with in the studio; he always seems to intuit the proper rhythmic mood a song requires. The other answer to your question would involve getting into gear which might totally derail this interview forever, so I will just say I was lucky to be able to borrow some vintage instruments in the process of making this record, and I think they have helped supplement the feel in a way I was hoping they might.

What’s next for No Sky God post release and for Shatter Your Leaves?

Shatter Your Leaves will be releasing a 12” of Voice Coils’ Heaven’s Sense EP in January, and that should be in stores nationwide in February, thanks to our friends at Clandestine Distribution.

The next No Sky God record, Unfaithful, has already been recorded, and again features Steve Marion and Robbie Lee as guest performers. The plan is to release that in May. I’m particularly excited for people to hear a cover we recorded of Slapp Happy’s “The Drum” on which my bandmate Evan handles the lead vocals. A friend told me if Infidel is marked by the influence of The Beatles, on Unfaithful he hears more of The Stones, which is awesome (if a bit grandiose—I have very generous friends!). The next album has songs written by my bandmates Tanner Beam and James Marceda, each of whom brings a unique feel to the table—it was great to get back to the producer’s role working on their songs; I think Unfaithful will serve to highlight the band’s diversity of talent, while also providing a nice complement to Infidel, in a kind of Use Your Illusion I and II way. I’m deeply grateful to James, Evan, and Tanner for indulging me as I embarked upon the at times arcane and solitary task of writing and recording Infidel. They are truly great friends.

No Sky God’s Infidel will be available November 13 via Shatter Your Leaves.

Rice Cultivation Society

rice cultivation society week in pop 1

With Mecca Lecca carrying on it’s celebrations of arts, DIY culture and more with Jonny Leather’s move from NYC to Santa Fe, New Mexico; their roster carries with Howth & frontman Carl Creighton keeping super active, Christopher Paul Stelling signed to ANTI-, and we just received news that Rice Cultivation Society is following up 2013’s Sky Burial with their forthcoming album Mystical Shitheads. Derek Smith, Nick Lee and friends Joe Sanders and John Hoblin mark the RCS return with the world premiere of their video for “Cait Sith’s Megaphone” comprised of found public domain visuals lifted from educational films on science and other classic scholastic items assembled by Mecca Lecca man Jonny while under the influence of what he described to us as “a variety of pneumonia drugs”. Taking the song’s title name from a fictional video game character, the song itself hits hard like the song you may have waited a lifetime to hear. To compliment the richness of the electric pastoral; the collected and edited visuals combine the vintage array of after school specials, sci-fi futurism from the past, and more where instructional flicks and found scenes of domestic dealings and natural disasters together create a montage of welcomed madness.

Rice Cultivation Society reveal one of their most mysterious, naturally tragic and beautiful songs in a stunning b/w epic orhcestrated by Jonny Leather. The guitars on “Cait Sith’s Megaphone” tumble and fall like rain or a winter’s snow fall that goes from notions of human frailty and a call from a mystical and metaphsycial universe to abandon earthly delusions and the comfrots of pretenses and false securities. The educational cience videos take on a complete surreal view into the world observed and demonstrated through yesterday’s lens arranged in new patterns modeled for RCS’s musical presence. And as the song veers toward the big climactic showdown, the video erupts into a quick edit view into enough worlds of classic chaos to fill a canyon or two.

With regard to your inquiry about my thoughts on the video and post-mecca lecca activities:

Back in July, I was struck by what started as a cold, further progressed to bronchitis, and by the end of the month had transitioned into pneumonia. So, for an entire month, I was essentially trapped within the confines of my apartment. It was a miserable experience that began with killing time by watching movies and documentaries on Netflix, but that eventually got tiresome. By week three, I was dying to do something productive and was feeling relatively okay but unable to leave home. I had been listening to the masters of Rice Cultivation Society’s new record pretty obsessively, and had been toying with the idea of piecing together random video footage since seeing an Everything Is Terrible event a month or two earlier. My mind was an odd synthesis of medication and sleep deprivation (coughing and a sprained rib made sleep virtually impossible). My first attempt at a music video was for “Skinned Alive”, another song off of Mystical Shitheads. It was a bit sloppy and may never see the light of day, but it got me excited. Derek Smith and I both scanned an online database of public domain film footage, passing along links to gems we were finding for a potential video for “Cait Sith’s Megaphone”. It was a mix of after school specials and the types of b&w instructional films they’d show in science classes in the 50s and 60s. At the time, I was less concerned with making a video that fit the lyrical imagery of the song as I was with making something that was simply visually appealing. It’s my favorite song on the album, and as I chopped up the footage and pieced it all together I must have listened to it hundreds of times, and yet it never wore thin.

I also made Carl Creighton’s “Goodbye, Chewing Tooth” video that week.

Jonny also shared some words about the making of the video by collaging public domain visuals in tune to RCS’s jam, “Cait Sith’s Megaphone”:

Back in February I cut ties with the city of New York and moved across the country to the tiny southwestern city of Santa Fe. I really didn’t know what to expect. It was a shift from fast paced claustrophobia to wide open spaces and a limited nightlife. Mecca Lecca had recently watched prodigal son Christopher Paul Stelling get signed to ANTI-, while other artists had become mostly inactive, so I wasn’t sure what would come next. It didn’t take long for that burning desire to be part of a music scene again to set in. Santa Fe is a city that exists off the musical radar. Our biggest export has been Beirut, a band the city holds dear. And most touring bands totally bypass the entire state of New Mexico on tour, heading from Austin to Phoenix with a brief pee break in the desolate southern region of the state. But Santa Fe is also an incredibly vibrant art city, so not surprisingly we have a handful of really great bands out here. While I ran Mecca Lecca as a label collective, I always kept writing about and photographing other bands, but since coming out here I’ve totally refocused www.meccalecca.com to be a spotlight on our local scene. So, the bulk of my creative energy and free time has been spent building a local concert listings calendar and covering the local and touring acts coming to town. Hopefully, in town this scene will gain a bit more national exposure and draw in more touring acts, but it’s also cool to be somewhere that’s not been totally overblown.

Derek and Nick from Rice Cultivation Society took a moment to talk with us in the following interview session.

Tell us about the visions behind Mystical Shitheads, following up Sky Burial from 2013.

DereK: The album mostly centers around the themes of alienation, death, and body horror. I feel like there’s those life points when a person really turns inward, and it can be really ugly and alienating, but I think it’s really important, it’s where all the stuff you’re really looking for is. The idea of a Mystical Shithead I think has a few connotations though, in a way I think it’s a bit of a badge of pride. Like we’re people who don’t really fit into many normal modes of living, (I can only speak for myself but I think it’s true for everyone in the band), and to be an outsider can provide a person an opportunity to see something ‘mystical. I don’t mean necessarily something religious, it’s not even necessarily a good thing, we’re not better than anyone for it. The experience of that kind of feeling though can at least get you to see something else, in life and in yourself. I think art that is really negative is important, it burns away a lot of superfluous crap and allows you to discover different parts of yourself.

I think the album reflects that for me personally, though I hope a listener can look past only seeing the doom and gloom of it, there’s a lot of humor, lots of imagery that I think says more than the words (or these words) themselves do.

Overall, I’m glad to say that on this album you get more of a sense of us as a full band. While making it, everyone always wanted to push it just a little bit further musically. Joe Sanders and John Hoblin have become an incredibly tight rhythm section (the drums and bass on this album were recorded together live, without a click and with no nudging things into place), and have, along with Nick, brought so many ideas and so much effort to making these songs what they are.

How has the influence of of Rice Cultivation Society’s current directions impacted Nick Lee’s work with Moon Tooth?

Derek: Well I can’t speak for Nick (he’ll speak bellow!), but I can say that working with Nick has always been inspiring. He’s a hell of a musician, hell of a guy, and he’s brought a lot to this album and even more to the band.

Nick: Derek’s unique blend of styles on guitar has definitely shaped how I play in the five years we’ve played together. The way he crafts chord progressions and all the alternate voicings I’ve learned from Rice are all over my Moon Tooth riffs now. Plus playing with Derek, Joe, and Johnny makes me a smarter, better player over all.

The cult of Rice Cultivation Society.
The cult of Rice Cultivation Society.

How did the Cait Sith figure from mythology and video games figure into the making of “Cait Sith’s Megaphone”?

Derek: A Cait Sith is a type of shapeshifter cat/witch, and in the game the character is a business man who controls an animatronic cat that controls a stuffed animal that uses a megaphone. In the game, Cait Sith is alternately on the side of a big corporation destroying the planet, and the group trying to bring it down, he’s always betraying one side or another. It’s great, you never really know where he stands or what side he’s truly on (until near the end, of course). On top of that, I loved that his weapon is a megaphone. They never explain how the hell it’s a weapon, but it’s great imagery. He kind of shouts into it, but he might be hitting the enemy with it. I like the idea of sound being destructive, partially because it infers that it’s really primary to existence. There are all sorts of mystical texts saying how everything is vibration, everything is music and sound, well why not have this multi-layered morally ambiguous character represent it in it’s destructive capacity? It’s perfectly absurd, and reflects our inability to understand such primal and uncontrollable forces.

Thoughts on how Jonny Leather’s video collage impacted the song?

Derek: I love it, I think he caught on perfectly to the whole destructive theme, and showed it in people and in nature. My favorite part of it is making the sensory connection that not only is sound destructive, but that vision is too, and showing it with the old science videos is perfect. Those eye diagrams have a hypnotic affect, and it’s that same hypnotic look to it that implies that the eyes (sight itself) are somehow shooting things out, or lighting a candle, etc. The whole video is great use of archival footage.

What else are you all working on right now that has you all stoked?

Derek: I’m also in a band called Yankee Longstraw, we play indie-rock/Americana. We’re currently working on some recordings that are coming out great, hoping to have them out soon.

Joe and John are in a band called Gamblers, who are just finishing up their debut album. They’re really fun, mostly upbeat stuff, hooks for days, perfectly arranged for a large band set up.

As mentioned before, Nick is also in Moon Tooth. Moon Tooth is a ridiculous band, it’s baffling that someone can think that stuff up, let alone actually play it and pull it off. Ray Marte (Moon Tooth drummer) mastered Mystical Shitheads, John Carbone (Moon Tooth vocals) played drums for us for a number of years, and Vin Romanelli might have the biggest heart in the whole world. Their new album “Chromaparagon” is really intense, whenever it’s out (early 2016) you have to hear it, or even better, see them live.
Nick also plays in Riot V, the current incarnation of legendary power metal band Riot.

Other artists you all want to give a shout out to?

Derek: Joe Zajack co-produced the album, let us use his studio, and built our album cover, he’s an amazingly talented person with just about anything. He’s currently expanding his studio and getting bands in, keep an eye out for what he ends up putting out of there. As for bands, too many! I’ll leave it at Beach Moon/Peach Moon, Bdee and the Venomous Oranges, and Golden Wave.

Nick: Shouts out to Godmaker, Dead Empires, It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Carved Up, and Cryptodira!

Rice Cultivation Society’s Mystical Shitheads album will be available soon via Bandcamp.


lochstoer week in pop 1

Norway’s Tore Løchstøer Hauge makes music under his middle name Løchstøer, premiering today the ultra power pop single “Skulls & Bones” from his forthcoming Wastelands EP. Known from his work in the groups Heyerdahl, & Hiawata!; Løchstøer’s solo project for Sellout! Music finds the artist enlists instrumental assists from percussionist David Brendan Torch from Phosphorescent, Beezewax’s Kenneth Ishak contributing vocals, and artists from Heyerdahl, Provian Audio/Sauropod, among others. The city light fixated pop created here transports the listener through parallel world-like channels by way of sophisticated savvy translations of styles by your 80s and 90s alternate pop saviors.

A song Tore played with his band Heyerdahl, “Skull & Bones” brings the “I know we got to move on” restless feelings that stands fixated by the city lights with a sense of lazy urgency. The ballad guitar and keys groove together in a carousel spinning motion that itches with the stir crazy town & country contrasts and the desired bridges in between. The well sewed connection between all involved instruments finely stitches “Skull & Bones” together as a song that casts glances on mortality and the indolent ennui of escapism without action. Løchstøer cuts no corners and keeps the delivery in the key of passionate delivering choruses of resolve like, “I would leave my whole life, for the life of the city lights” by way of sophisticated yet humble power pop. Right after the following debut listen, read our interview with Tore about his latest solo work and more.

Tell us about the making of Wastelands, and sorts of post-apocalyptic settings, or not so apocalyptic settings informed it.

If not a full on zombie-apocalypse theme, making Wastelands always seemed to be focused around being lost in some sense. Like, I have this friend who make up stories about girls he meet and imagine how his life would have been different with one of them. Always feeling he could be living another life with someone else. Always longing for what could have been. I guess that’s the post-apocalytic world, the wastelands I’m trying to describe.

What is the story behind your debut single “Skulls & Bones”?

It used to be one of the songs we played with Heyerdahl when we first got together. We’d be taking our shirts off and drinking rum and coke and just play our hearts out. Screaming ‘Stockholm!’ at the last chorus. It didn’t end up on our album Øen—too cheerful I guess. So I saved it for my own stuff. I’m a pretty happy dude. Apart from that it’s about wanting to move on without ever getting around to do it…and it just has a Swedish feel to it. Like Thin Lizzy playing ABBA or something.

Tell us about your collaborations with Beezewax’s Kenneth Ishak, Phosphorescent’s David Brendan Torch, and musicians from Proviant Audio/Sauropod and Heyerdahl, and how they all helped contribute to the vision of Wastelands.

Ishak is my musical soulmate, my musical life lover, my dream producer. He’s also a good bud of David whom I struck up a friendship with at SxSW a couple of years back. When he moved to Oslo for a while, he played drums with us when not on tour with Phosphorescent, and finally put down some sweet percussion on the EP. Inspiring guys. Most important though is the guys I recruited from Heyerdahl and such. Guys happy to help shape the tunes out of nothing into what they’ve become without wanting anything in return but good times.

How had your work in Heyerdahl and Hiawata informed your solo musings?

The blood of both bands flows trough my veins. I guess all the songs in my solo stuff could easily been both Hiawata! or Heyerdahl songs, but I’ve always felt these particular songs belonged together in a way. I never thought I would make anything solo really…

What are you listening to a lot of right now?

I’m really into this guy called Blake Mills at the moment, and also pretty hung up on artists like Zara Larrson and Phoebe Ryan.

2016 plans for Løchstøer?

Want to ride that year like Khaleesi rides her dragon.

Løchstøer’s single “Skulls & Bones” is available today from Sellout! Music, with the Wastelands EP available soon.

Moss Lime

Meet Montreal by Lille, France trio; Moss Lime.
Meet Montreal by Lille, France trio; Moss Lime.

Meet Moss Lime who are readying their forthcoming release Zoo du Québec for cassette from Atelier Ciseaux, and on 10″ vinyl via Telephone Explosion available December 8 and we bring you the first single with “I Always Get What I Want” that expresses the wants that range from the desires for a lucrative guest pass to a boyfriend. Lille, France sisters Charlotte Bonamour and Hélène Barbier and Caitlin Pinder-Doede from Toronto joined collaborative forces during the summer of 2014 in Montréal when Caitlin was at the time a roommate, where they began making music documented on the Fixture Records released July First EP. Zoo Du Québec was made after Charlotte departed back for france, where Hélène, and Cailtin were joined by Jane during the recording sessions, with Charlotte returning for tours.

Heard recently covering Father. feat. iLoveMakonnen & Key’s “Wrist”, Moss Lime live up to their refrain of “I always get what I want” by doing whatever they want, whatever they feel, with a jubilant attitude of self-actualization. Jane, Hélène, and Charlotte describe the deficits that exist in their worlds expressed in conjunction with their own aversion toward any sort of gratuitous labors. “I Always Get I Want” is like the soundtrack to a wild romantic romp of an international spy couple sneaking into festivals and all sorts of True Lies sorts of situations. Right after the listen, read our interview with Moss Lime’s Jane, Hélène and Charlotte.

First, tell us about your favorite anecdotes from the summer that inspired your first release, July First for Fixture.

Hélène: I guess we had a very nice routine so I do not really see any peculiar thing, Caitlin, Charlotte and I were working at the market and every time we were free we were going to jam to try to finish writing songs that we would play to a show we booked before even having songs written.

What was it like working with Peter Woodford?

Hélène: It definitely shaped our songs and sound, when we first went we knew what we wanted but could not really explain, and Peter took his time explain us the differences in the mix or anything we were willing to know. He was very attentive to what we wanted even if we did not have any experience as musician, even less in a studio.

Tell us about what making the next installment “Zoo Du Québec” was like for you three?

Hélène:Telephone Explosion proposed us to release something right after the EP was out. We had new songs and decided to keep on writing some more. Zoo du Québec songs were mostly made during the winter, and were evolving when we were playing them live. Charlotte had moved to Brussels, Jane joined us, and we found a new routine. We were aiming for a darker sound.

How have your Lille, France by Toronto, Canada influences & experiences impacted your music?

Charlotte: Hélène and I have been trying to start a band in France, a few times but we were always too shy or told that we should take lessons before wanting to start something, so it never happened. Playing music in Montréal appeared way easier and casual.

What are the three of you super excited about right now (music, movies, books, etc)?

Jane: This whole summer I’d been reading the Love and Rockets graphic novel series I had borrowed from a friend. There’s multiple story lines, one about the Californian punk scene in the 80’s, one about best friends sometimes lovers Maggie and Hopey, there’s even sum stories that have sci-fi or fantastical elements in them. But most of all it focus on all these kick ass female characters. I’ve been listening to a lot of Young Thug, Junglepussy and Martin Rev.

Charlotte: I am reading the comic The Infinite Wait & Other Stories from Julia Wertz it is about her life when she was working in shitty restaurants and bars before starting to write comics. I listen to The Whitest Boy Alive a lot, I’m sad they broke up last year because I just discovered it recently.

Hélène: I just finished Of Walking in Ice by Werner Herzog, it is about his journey from Munich to visit a friend who is dying in Paris. A quite harsh but very hopeful. Recently I have been listening a lot to The Fall, Phèdre and Christian Michael Jackson.

Fall/winter plans for Moss Lime?

Charlotte: Zoo du Québec will be out December 8, via Telephone Explosion (vinyl) and Atelier Ciseaux (cassette). Jane, Helene and I are going on tour in Europe from November 12 to December 9. We are ready to go!

Atelier Ciseaux

atelier ciseaux logo week in pop
Also, Atelier Ciseaux turned seven today and label operator Rémi Laffitte sent us the following message of love in the form of both words and audio (featuring music by Lensparrot):

Today is a really special day! Seven years ago, we released our first record. Since this day, we’ve been living our teenage dream with a ton of good moments/memories and sometimes disappointing ones. Ordinary feelings because we always wanted to keep this project at an human level. But nothing won’t be stronger than our desire to release records we like, to support bands we love. Nothing won’t be ever more important. In this dematerialized age, we wanted to take the time to say ‘thank you’ to all the people who have been supporting us during this adventure since the beginning or only yesterday. That means a lot, really! LOVE!

Negative Gemini

Negative Gemini, aka Lindsey French, photographed by Julia Nichols.
Negative Gemini, aka Lindsey French, photographed by Julia Nichols.

Lindsey French, aka Negative Gemini announced her upcoming album available in early 2016 on the 100% Electronica imprint and presents with the dance kick licks of “You Never Knew”. Lindsey sings forward songs of knowledge through dance sectors that turn the dance floor space into a confrontational zone of discourse and expressionistic exchanges. Catch Negative Gemini playing CMJ 2015 October 14 at Bowery Electric, and October 17 at Studio 301.

Negative Gemini’s Lindsey French shared some words on “You Never Knew” along with insights from her forthcoming 100% Electronica album debut:

“You Never Knew” is my kind of pop song, its one I hope you can relate to but also treasure for its uniquely nostalgic yet modern sound and emotional presence. I want pop music to be taken back by individuals and given authenticity again. I don’t want to hear an obvious copycat of “blank space”. That is disposable pop music ruled by moneymaking and trash. I’m trying to create an honest and real song, and that’s why I think it’s so important that I produce it as well, to validate it as something completely other. It’s the first single off of my upcoming lp “body work”, which comes out early next year on vinyl via 100% electronica. My boyfriend and v talented vaporwave/electronic producer George Clanton and I have teamed up to start our own label (100% electronica) and my LP will be its second release. I’m really excited about the album, its a mixture of catchy and intimate pop revelations as well as some dance tracks that will hopefully garner attention for their elevated production. I’ve been producing and recording the album at home myself over the last year, and I think the experience of moving here to NY at the start of my work on the album has made it into something it could never be anywhere else.

Shady Elders

Denver's own perennial dreamers, Shady Elders; photographed by Wolf Samuel.
Denver’s own perennial dreamers, Shady Elders; photographed by Wolf Samuel.

Denver, Colorado’s dream pop enthusiasts Shady Elders return with their new single “Pale Blue Dot” that indicates some big forthcoming sounds from the group. With Carl Sagan references for earth, the Elders provide us with a taste of the sonic alchemy they have been working on in since we last spoke to them. On “Dot” Shady Elders pull out all the stops, where electronic devices lead you to the bodies of land, waters, and all the places in between the never-ending expanses of cosmos and the finite surface square footage of earth. Mile from the band shared some insights on their new single, with a few words on exciting things in the pipeline:

This is the first we’ve recorded outside of a traditional studio. We recorded it ourselves, with the help of some good music friends, bit by bit over the summer. It’s sort of a transition song between the old EPs and what’s to come—we’re just getting into finally recording our first full-length which we’ll have out sometime next year. That won’t necessarily sound like this, but it’s some sort of bridge. And yes, the title is a Carl Sagan reference.

Two Death

Introducing Vincent Campillo & Drew Marcogliese of SF duo Two Death; photographed by Jorge A. Novoa.
Introducing Vincent Campillo & Drew Marcogliese of SF duo Two Death; photographed by Jorge A. Novoa.

From the little 7 x 7 square miles of town by the Bay called San Francisco; meet Two Death who emerged on the scene with their rowdy dive rousing jam “Watch Her Go Now”. Your favorite rhythm rock revival percussion styles are on display here, with plenty of distortion to go around all the guitars, out bursts of noise, and alliterative piano notes. The result is the song that is like watching the one that got away leave you forever while your stuck nursing a lonely pint, or appreciating your own courage for at least giving it the ol’ community college go after striking out with someone way out of your respective league. Two Death the kind of ruckus pop typically reserved for the music, but steeped in the working class blazed-blazer of noise that is direly needed for the aches and pains of the work week.

Vincent Campillo gave us a proper introduction to Two Death, their beginnings, and the events that inspired the righteous ringer, “Watch Her Go Now”, and more with the following words:

So, the story of Two Death. I guess I should properly introduce ourselves. Individually we are Vincent Campillo (guitar, bass, vocals) and Drew Marcogliese (drums, production, backing vocals). The two of us were in a band several years back called Afghan Raiders. That band broke up and Drew and I remained close friends and always wanted to do another project together. [As for the name], it’s actually not as cool as a story as I’d like ha ha. On one of the other demos I was just randomly singing the phrase “too death” over and over. After listening to it a lot I really liked that phrase and decided to change it to the numerical “two” for the two of us. It just worked well.

When Drew went on his honeymoon this past Aug/Sept he asked me to house sit and watch his dog. I was very excited for 2 reasons. One, I could hang out with his awesome dog, Snax. Two, Drew has a back room/studio with a bunch of instruments and I was excited to record with guitar and bass again. It had been about 6 years since I was able to record with those instruments.

I recorded about 4 rough demos. When Drew returned from his honeymoon I showed him the demos and he was into them. He quickly added drums, percussion, backing vocals, and mixed the first demo which became “Watch Her Go Now.” The song itself is just about two people not seeing eye to eye. And those frustrations leading to a departure rather than a resolution.

Plans for the future include getting this single out to as many people as possible, finishing up our other demos/writing new material, and getting our live show together. We aim to be playing shows by early 2016!

Some of the raddest things happening in the Bay Area…I’d say Drew’s party that he puts on with our friend Kevin Meenan called Push The Feeling. It’s a fun underground disco dance party which happens once a month in Lower Haight. They’ve pulled some rad acts like Larry Gus, Yacht, and Secret Circuit. I’d also say all the stuff Noise Pop is doing. They recently had their 20th St Block Party which was super fun. And they’ve set up shop at this rad venue called Swedish American Hall where they have been booking amazing acts. I’m headed there this Sunday to see Atlas Sound. It was also the first venue I saw a show at in SF so I have a soft spot for that place.

Conner Youngblood

Insights from Conner Youngblood; photographed by Shervin Lainez.
Insights from Conner Youngblood; photographed by Shervin Lainez.

Conner Youngblood recently dropped his second EP The Generation of Lift that features the most perfect sounds to transition your summer European vacation into the reality dawning of the autumn season. Consider the gradual eye opening experience of “The Birds of Finland”, to the sparse minimalism of baroque chorus harmonic passages on “Stockholm’, where cascading harp strings descent into “T X T N” that bring big bold soothing pop into the large atmosphere presentations, the experimental near perfection shine of “Diamonds”, to the atmospheric empire of the uncompromising massive closer “The Badlands”.

Conner was ever so kind as to give us a little introductory look behind the making of his forthcoming album:

The Generation of Lift came about very, very slowly.

The only song that I wrote and recorded in the same state of mind was The Badlands. All of the other songs took months, and some over a year to finish the recordings, and by the end it was pretty crazy to see where the songs ended up versus where I started.
Diamonds for instance I had made the instrumental well over a year ago and had a completely different song written over it that I just one day decided I hated, and started from scratch.

The weirdest part of the recording process came about when writing Stockholm and The Birds of Finland. When I started recording Stockholm, I couldn’t get over how simple it was and thought something was missing. I then started going nuts on the production and accidentally ended up writing a completely new song, The Birds of Finland, in the same session. After The Birds of Finland was done, I took a second listen to Stockholm, and decided it was best to keep it as simple as possible. It’s kind of cool to hear how different, yet similar those two songs are.

I’d like to think this EP includes some of my best work yet, but I look forward to recording some new, and hopefully better music this winter.

Total Unicorn

total unicorn week in pop

Watch Total Unicorn’s video for “Mini Knee” from Stephen Hal Fishman and PJ Raval off the forthcoming from their forthcoming Relaxation Tape available October 30 from Pecan Crazy. In a video made to look like some analogue and digitally enhanced trip, Lyman ‘Corn Wizard Venti’ Hardy III commands the post-glitch brain-blender sounds, out of this world visuals from Stephen ‘Microcorn Eagle Vision’ Fishman, Lindsey ‘Cornette’ Taylor, and dancing, further puppetry from Stanley ‘Fantasy Horn’ Williamson. These are the worlds and alternate universes we always wondered about yesterday, that would arrive today in an uncertain and unusual looking/sounding universe.

Tell us where the conception and inception of Total Unicorn came from/happened.

Microcorn Freshman (MF) approached Lyman Venticorn (LV) to musically enrich his time-based image sequence. LV had been developing a new sonic thought bubble and an opportunity time branch presented itself. Their hybridization was successful. They then devised a multi-disciplinary performance combining sound, moving image and dance, with the incorporation of choreogra-fist, Lindsey Unicorn Pink (LUP). Together, they form the Total Unicorn.

Give us the details of everything we need to know about Relaxation Tape.

LV found a meditation tape in the 99 cent bin at Goodwill. His life-partner, ‘Other,’ achieved altered states through and because of it. In his haste to ‘capture the magic,’ LV inadvertently ‘enhanced’ the tape by recording over its program material. Although it imbued the tracks LV recorded with transcendental power, regret followed, as the loss of the original material has prevented ‘Other’ from achieving the altered states she drew upon for inspiration and mental clarity. If someone reading this interview finds a pink tape with the words Relaxation on it with a cowboy and a mandala on the cover, or simply a pink tape adjacent to a cowboy and a mandala, we will gladly buy it from you and make you a copy. Thanks in advance.

Describe for us the Total Unicorn recording process….these sounds are all over the map.

Set up a situation for things to go wrong and hit record, and record for a long time. Repeat 50 times. Chop it into little pieces and reassemble.

What does Total Unicorn listen to when not making music or listening to your own works?

Currently on heavy rotation: Alice Coltrane, various krautrock (always), Cory Allen, Igorr, Damaged Bug, Ray Parker Jr., and those fantastic Kmart store tapes that seem to be making the rounds. Also, an awesome collection of 60’s anti-hippie country songs that friend Britt transmitted.

Total Unicorn advise for other aspiring artists and like minded avant-garde futurists?

The future hive-minded aging gourd should expect to be inspired by things that are unique and refined. Old ideas used to be good but it’s time for some new ideas. Your idea is not stupid. Go with it, especially if it seems stupid.

Total Unicorn’s Relaxation Tape will be available October 30 from Pecan Crazy.

Martin Crane

Meet Martin Crane; photographed by Christine Hahn.
Meet Martin Crane; photographed by Christine Hahn.

Check out Martin Crane’s title track from his upcoming Physical Therapy available digitally November 20 from INSCAPE. The artist who you have known from Brazos and more brings about his presentation of big bold and bright nu-dance brush strokes that invites his listeners to “call it like it is.” Imagination therapy of a future that flies high in the sky is entertained with lyrics and production that rides on the clouds (digital and IRL) that point toward the fascinations that surround the notion of forever.

Martin was very kind in sharing with us a few thoughts on his forthcoming Physical Therapy album:

I was thinking about ways in which people live forever today. Like cloud computing for example—your online life will never die. Or air pollution—all the stuff you put into the air will be there forever. Air pollution is like the pyramids for people living in the last 100 years. Everyone in the future is going to have to deal with it, so in a way we live forever. All this stuff is anxiety-provoking, but it’s funny to me how it’s also got that foreverness that people look for in spirituality.

I wrote this record myself and recorded it with my good buddies Spencer Zahn and Ian Chang. It comes out November 20 on a record label called INSCAPE that me and my partner in crime NARC started. I love music, but I really want to score films, so get at me if you are making a film and need music.

Taken off of Gentleman Surfer’s new album Gold Man; check out all the prog rock theatric instrumental epics that spew off the chords and rhythms orchestrated here by the San Francisco based band with a listen to science experiment-like swirl n whirl, “Beef Peddler”. Jon Bafus from the band shared a few thought on musical prose, arrangement, and execution:

Beef Peddler was created collaboratively, based on the main theme written by our keyboard player Zack. First we figured out how we wanted to execute that phrase as a loop, and then began altering it into more of a ‘theme and variations.’ The more we played with it, and tried different ideas out, it started to come together pretty naturally. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did sort of create its own natural flow without too much friction once our ideas started to solidify. It was just a lot of trial and error in the beginning, until we found something that felt right. Our goal is to create songs that are fun, and go a lot of places but still feel like they have an internal narrative that the listener can almost picture.

Carlos Forster shared the emotive and atmospheric album Disasters that brings atmospheric outlooks and reflections. Penning heart felt and pained numbers like “You’ll Survive”, the candid read of “Books”, to atmospheric experimentations like the title track, “Child on a Train”, “Tim”, and more that bridge the gulf between the spaces between the connective heart chords wide eyed wandering and the home comforts that surround ideas of belonging.

For those in need of a group that runs through the gamut of baroque, nu-prog holistic folk shamble-core rock; then Amsterdam trio Labasheeda brings about the bouquet of anarchic pop you were looking for on their minimal nu-trad electric album, Changing Lights. One moment cloud funnels of gloom and penultimate faiths engulf your being, while grungy cuts like “Head” keep things hedonistic with high stakes and the guitars pointed toward roads of oblivion and certain perdition.

Saint Sister dropped their single “Blood Moon” off their upcoming Madrid EP available November 13 that features the harmonizing of Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre that move moment to moment habits into the regiments and routines of rituals bathed by the light of a blood hue saturated moon.

We Roll Like Madmen dropped their animated video for “You Thought You” drawn and directed by Lyon Forrest Hill and filmed/edited by Jordan Young. Carnival/fair odyssey exhibits unfold from carousel spun fantasias, magic shows, haunted house frights, heroics, and more to the trippy emotive dance groove designs.

Watch the Liza Mandelup video for The Garden’s single “Egg” off the Burger / Epitaph album haha available now that breaks out of the surburban scenes via mopeds in search of excitement, urbex swamp excursions of exhilaration and the beckoning call of adventure.

Oakland duo Jefferson Zurna and Dena Goldsmith-Stanley are 3 Moons readying their album Astronomy of Dreams for October 20 through the great minds at Moon Glyph. We invite you to step through the portal with “H.A.A.R.P. (We Milk The Clouds)” that mesmerizes the mind with transcendental sounds and blurry spun visuals. Hear your midday electro folk fixations become lifted toward levitated states of being and consciousness.

MED & Blu & Madlib’s Bad Neighbor will be available October 30 from BangYaHead, and we got a listen to their new track “Finer Things” feat. Phonte & Like-wise. As you can already imagine before listening, Madlib is about to destroy whatever your current surroundings are with an ultimate and ultra chill atmosphere that allows all involved verses to flow together like friends and folks super stung on a super cool romantic and heart lead vibration. Not to be missed.

Lymbyc Systym, the project of Jared and Michael Bell who are brothers that live in Brooklyn and Phoenix respectively release their album Split Stones on Western Vinyl today and we give you the following sneak listen. Here you can hear what Jared refers to as the “push and pull of organic instrumentation against synthetic sounds” where the IDM elements of introspective parts correlate with BDM components that comprise the body moving aspects of the sounds. From here drums, synths, and illustrious rhythms move toward a synergistic alchemy that portrays the possibilities of synth-syntheses and pop possibilities conjured up between siblings.

Splendidid’s debut album Easy Trip will be available November 17 from Melbourne, Australia imprint Breathlessness and we bring you their first single “1123” that entertains the atmospheres and galactic leaning essences of a space bound astral plane. Splendidid lives up to the joyous nature of their name (not to mention creative spelling liberties at that) where the good feels wash over like a thousand bank holidays where the worries of the weary & wary world melt like the mountains after the end of a long winter spell.

Tracy and James Tritten, aka Raleigh, N.C.’s Band & The Beat who dropped a minimalist and super catchy synth pop gem with “Buoy” made for the sentimental side of your upcoming mixtape. Heard previously as a demo draft, Tracy & James create a succinct and ultra sweet serenade to the spirit of taking off for another town, or willfully departing from familiar shores to the ever-allure of international waters.

From the upcoming concept album (and 40 page comic book) The Jade Amulet, watch ASM (A State of Mind) deliver the epic Monkey Egg video for “Masking” feat. MF DOOM as King Dumile and oversees a hip hop odyssey of medieval proportions. unfold.

Peep the video for epic heroic romantic narratives at work in The View’s video for “Under the Rug” off Ropewalk co-produced by Strokes guitar-bro Albert Hammond, Jr.

We bring you the Leo Kalyan’s new single, given a bit of an atmosphere alteration twist with Fine Print’s moody remix of “Get Your Love”. The too much too late sentiments get brought into the tense sort of standoffs that define the moment of a climactic cinematic movie event.

Hear 0’s “Nijùichi”, featured from Sylvain Chauveau’s ensemble from the upcoming album Umarete Wa Mita Keredo available October 23 from flau. Harmonic poetic resonances echo like concert hall recital chambers bringing baroque chapters for modern emotive rendered pop music.

Anna von Hausswolff’s album The Miraculous will be available November 13 via Other Music (US) / City Slang (UK / EU), and Pomperipossa (Scandinavia) and we have the epic video for “Evocation” filmed in Sweden that stars Anna, and directed by her sister maria von Hausswolff. The atmospheric video features forestall surroundings, and a metaphysical touch of the supernatural by means of tricky effects that match the song’s evocative and mystical nature.

Brooklyn’s DUST dropped the video for their 2MR/Sisterjam single “Trespass Against Us” to stoke-out/psych-out listeners, ravers, and weirdos for their upcoming headline spot at Unter’s Halloween party in Bushwick.

Woody Ranere, Christian Celaya, & Josh Thomas aka With Lions have been doing big things in the industry, making moves and readying their album Fast Luck for next year and dropped the lyric video for “Rundown (The Fire)” that rumbles with all the cinematic momentum for frantic moments and emergent actions.

John Carpenter’s Lost Themes Remixed is available now from Sacred Bones, and we give you the Zola Jesus & Dean Hurley remix of “Night” that transforms the deepest and densest essences of night into a sub-bass/subterranean dimension where Zola is the overlord and overseer of all.

Available via ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective, check out Kasbo’s single “World Away” where far off words come together like pangaea going a reverse continental drift motion as imagined by the 19 year old producer.

Django Django just dropped Born Under Saturn on Ribbon, are readying to jet out on their north American tour January 19 and got the flipside to their “Shake & Tremble” single with “Hold The Line”. End of the week revelry worthy of leaving the phone off the hook (or in this case, switched to the off mode) gets a marching dance jam anthem of it’s own.

Dead Ghosts just dropped their third studio album Love And Death And All The Rest today via Burger Records, and we bring you a listen to their wall of sound mind-wandering single “Around and Through”. Recording the album in a messed up barn out in the boonies circa Vancouver; Bryan Nicole, Maurizio Chiumento, Drew Wilkinson & brother Mike Wilkinson update your favorite 1965 strange-beat single for the audiences and ears of 2015.

Dublin frontman from Grand Pocket Orchestra Paddy Hanna lends a listen to the “Underprotected” single available December 4 from Trout Records where vulnerable expressions of sentiments are worn with an elaborately arranged honesty that reaches straight for the core parts of the heart.

Dublin’s Pleasure Beach return with the cool title cut single “Dreamer to the Dawn” off their upcoming EP of the same name available October 30 from Belfast imprint Faction Records. Playing London November 1 at Notting Hill Arts Club and November 5 at Hoxton Square Bar & Grill; listen to their quintet’s music that brings the dreams of evening time celebrations to the dawn break of a new day and an exhilaration that inspires the senses.

Hear The Besnard Lakes’ single “Golden Lion” grooving with some heady sounds off the 12″ available November 13, with word of their forthcoming A Complex Coliseum Museum available January 22 from Jagjaguwar.

Touring with Father John Misty this month and also in November, Anna B Savage dropped a new song that was recorded live at Café Oto in London while supporting Jenny Hval called “Also Human”. Releasing her new recordings and her previous I-IV EP on limited 12” vinyl November 6; the sparse and electric accompaniment to Anna’s voice highlights a candid desire of human exchanges and interaction that resonates within the being of the listener long after the song finishes.

Princess Century, the regal music vehicle of Maya Postepski (who you know from Austra, TRST, DJ star supreme) has just released Progress for Paper Bag Records, and we give you the following listen right before Maya takes over Week in Pop. Maya’s synth-studded worlds find “Bros vs UFOS” battling it out between the beat and the keys, to the sun-kissed holiday mode of “Sunscream”, moving the action toward thematic rhythmic avenues the d n’ b variations of “Tokyo Hands”, to the organic percussive fusions that simmer on “Sheughnessy”. Dawning day break beats are illustrated on “Sunrise 101/Last Disco” that is designed for those early hours of morning, keeping it cordial and fancy on “Rosé”, moving the movements and rhythms down the regal halls of “Domestic”, to the hallowed keyboard haunt of “Fata Morgana”, right before dropping you with a Princess Century dance deluxe masterpiece titled “Metro”. Reign on.

Princess Century’s Week in Pop

Her royal majesty, Princess Century, oka Maya Postepski; photographed by Claire Louise Foster.
Her royal majesty, Princess Century, oka Maya Postepski; photographed by Claire Louise Foster.

Further celebrating the release of her new Princess Century album Progress for Paper Bag Records; Maya Postepski presents the following Week in Pop guest selections:

Magic Island, “So Tender”

So tender indeed.

Cocteau Twins, “Pink Orange Red”

One of my all time fave bands, also love that they unashamedly used backing tracks instead of a full band, now everyone does that.

The reign of Princess Century; photographed by Claire Louise Foster.
The reign of Princess Century; photographed by Claire Louise Foster.

iamamiwhoami, “fountain”

Pretty song + pretty video= dreamland.

Abba, “The Name of the Game”

Performance video at its finest, also my fave Abba track. That groove off the top kills.

Maya Postepski on the decks.
Maya Postepski on the decks.

Legowelt, “Norwegian Raven” (off Occult Oriented Crime System)

Eat some mushrooms and go on a trip with Legowelt.

U.S. Girls, “Window Shades”

So groovy.

Guerre, “Cannibal”

Sex music.

Her highness herself; Princess Century.
Her highness herself; Princess Century.

Bryan Ferry, “Don’t Stop the Dance”

This track is so smooth and sexy, and the video is fantastic. I love the saxophone model girls, clearly miming their skills with effortless elegance.

Andras Fox, “Rachel’s Theme (water)”

I listen to this record a lot, so peaceful.

Enigma, “Sadeness Part 1”

Pervy Monk music from the 90s… that was weirdly popular as well.

Follow Princess Century via Twitter.