Rare Candy spoke with vocalist Ophelia “Fee” Booth to talk about the new EP, past performances, and what it’s like to be young professionals in the music industry.Read More
Equipped with her guitar and loop pedal, singer-songwriter Sidney Gish writes personal songs that anyone could relate to. Between her semesters at Northeastern University, she has released two excellent albums, Ed Buys Houses and No Dogs Allowed, each bursting with personality. Her second album No Dogs Allowed was released on New Year’s Eve. In her home away from home (Pret A Manger), we talk about songwriting, album art, going to Hawaii, meme culture, and definitely not jazz guitar.Read More
By Caleb Oldham
If you direct your attention to the map on your left you'll see the small town of Dokkum which Wikipedia tells me is known for "the assassination of the Anglo-Saxan missionary Saint Boniface in 754". What Wikipedia won't tell you is that since then Dokkum has been blessed with an industrious and creative dream pop scene led by a 19 year old genius cult leader named Yuko Yuko. Yuko's music is emotional, catchy and synth-heavy. If Atlas Sound was Dutch, listened to more Mac Demarco and Joy Division, and exclusively used gear from the 80's you'd get Yuko Yuko.
And I mean that in the best possible way - the young musician consistently puts out enough quality home-recorded material (not to mention his work with the multiple other bands he plays in, most notably The Homesick) to be compared to a Dutch Ariel Pink.
I got the extreme pleasure of sending Yuko Yuko some questions, and this is what I got back.
How have you been?
Bad, I've been kinda ill these last few winter days.
How would you describe yourself to someone completely unacquainted with your music and style?
Just look at the frontcover, and than decide to click on it or not!
You recently came out with one my new favorite Christmas songs "Under The Mistletoe" - do you have a favorite Christmas song?
No, not really, I like to listen to pop tunes from the summer during the winter days. It makes this period of the year less cold. And it also depends on the pop releases that came out this time of year. Like, the new Charli XCX leaked so I'm listening to that a lot, despite it being very winterish or Christmassy.
When did you start to get into the music that influences your own stuff?
When I was about 14 or 15 I think. I was influenced from a lot of 80's and 90's bands but later new music and local jokes and growing up became bigger influences on my music.
How has growing up in Dokkum influenced your music?
A lot, It's an isolated place in the north of the Netherlands. There are no international bands or even Dutch bands coming to this place so you're quite required to move away or to have fun with the friends you have in Dokkum. All my and Jaab's (The Homesick bassist) lyrics are about Dokkum. They're all anecdotes.
How would you describe your look?
Wannabe trash kid
How long does it typically take you to write a song?
Sometimes about an hour to write and record, sometimes a few hours to write and record. Not more than 5 hours most of the times, depends on the song.
How does your solo stuff differ from what you do with The Homesick?
The Homesick is a band I started with Erik and Jaab when I was 15/16. That's 2 years earlier than I started doing live stuff with Yuko Yuko. The Homesick is way more trashier and band-like than Yuko. Yuko is more sample driven and danceable, while Homesick more breathing out the teenage band spirit, that wants to make you smash your bedroom.
What Dutch artists should we be listening to?
Floris Bates & The Rented Friends, a fantastic lil' songwriter. Makes the best dirty pop tunes ever.
Rats on Rats, a punk band from Rotterdam.
When are you coming to NYC?
Don't know, not now <4
Listen/Download to Yuko Yuko here: http://yukoyuko.bandcamp.com/
By Julian Nebreda
"The Wendigo is the spirit of a swamp witch, channeled by Travis Braxton," reads the description on the Brooklyn-based artist's Bandcamp page. Chanting over hip hop beats, wearing an intricate outfit made of taxidermied deer, fox, and friendship bracelets, Travis Baxter channels the spirit of the Wendigo spirit with overtones of H.P. Lovecraft and the occult. I had the chance to send a few questions to this enigmatic performer about his favorite foods, inspirations and what's next.
According to Wikipedia Wendigo is "a demonic half-beast creature appearing in the legends of the Algonquian peoples along the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes Region of both the United States and Canada." On your bandcamp, Wendigo is "a demon that possesed the heart of a witch. He sings through Travis Braxton." How would you describe the Wendigo? When were you first possessed and how did it occur?
Originally the project had a different working title, Imma Witch, which ended up being the title of my first EP. As I was building the costume I was also reading a lot of the authors that HP Lovecraft mentions in his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature. When I read Algernon Blackwood’s The Wendigo something about the story of the lurking insatiable horror in the woods really grabbed hold of me. The more research I did into the legends I realized the costume I was building shared a lot of similarities with popular Wendigo descriptions so I decided to change the focus. At the same time I was getting more and more into the occult and started to have dreams about my Holy Guardian Angel a la Aleister Crowley. In the first dream the being which resembled the Wendigo was standing behind me asking me questions and demanding me to let go of my fear. The next dream I was strapped to a table in a dark dimly lit red room and the being was standing over me and cut a unicursal hexagram into my chest over top of a tattoo I have of the eye of providence. It was really intense - I shot up from sleep short of breath and felt like then the spirit and I had connected. I identified the spirit as the Wendigo and associated its insatiable hunger with a relentless drive for success in the project or the hunger to always do better and grow. Now before each show while I get into costume I do a short ceremony asking the spirit to speak through me as I sing kinda like speaking in tongues.
Does your outfit use real fox skin? How/when did you make it?
I made the costume myself. It does use real taxidermy. The face is from a coyote and the antlers are from a deer that were given to me by a friend. The bones of the deer skull are also braided into the hair. The funny thing is when I was working on it I was having a really tough time. I kept cutting my fingers and burning myself and was getting really upset with the whole thing. Then I realized that I was working with remains of living things that deserved respect and reverence. I set up a ceremony to bless the objects and thank the animals for their sacrifices. After that the rest of the build went really smooth. It is always evolving - I added a new clasp to the front not that long ago made of a necklace from the ceremonial rituals of the early pre Islamic Afghans. Its really pretty and makes a great jingling sound. Not all the components are as esoteric though, there are definitely torn up thrift store clothes and friendship bracelet yarn all up in my hair.
What's your music writing process? Your lyrics are a bit elusive, and the chanting aspect seems very organic. What do you start with?
My roots are in EDM and Hip Hop production so I approach the creation of the beats in a very similar way. I work mostly in Abelton and Sony Sound Forge. I use a lot of samples but I make an effort to deconstruct and degrade them to a point that you would be pretty hard pressed to find the source. I want to make the sample my own not just drop a loop from someone else’s song. There is an obvious nod to Sun Ra on the entire Alter Destiny record though even the title is straight Sun Ra shit. Once the beats and melodies are set up and in a place where I feel good with them I’ll usually meditate for a while and just let the song play over and over again. TMI moment I do my best lyric creating dancing naked in my bedroom. Once I feel like the tune is something I can really connect with I’ll just start scatting over the beat. Its very similar to talking in tongues, just let go and let the words flow. Some of the songs end up having English words that make manifest others are just series of sounds that come to me. I like to believe it is the sprit of the Wendigo speaking through me but once I get the “words” out they tend to stick.
I'm not familiar with bayou culture or chants, were that culture and music present around you growing up?
I grew up in Central Florida which is essentially a giant swamp with cement on it. I spent a lot of time in the woods and really felt a connection to the swamp. The rot and the life that springs from it really inspired me and I could spend hours wandering down dried up river beds and exploring the Econlockhatchee River. When I got more into magic, the swamp always felt like a place of power to me. My vocal style is also heavily influenced by bayou swamp boys like Dr John and Gobodobro. Both of their voices have that muddy dirty feel that I get after I spent a day out in my hiking woods. Dr John especially back in the 60s when he put out Gris Gris he had a really heavy voodoo influence going on with his lyrics and live set and I may have bit off him some. Lets call it hero worship. hahah
Your genre's on Bandcamp range from "experimental electronic", to "witch", to "industrial"- if you had to invent a genre name for yourself, what would you call it?
When we were in the studio working on the Alter Destiny EP the engineer and I spent a while thinking about that. What genre is this? What kinda record do we tell people we are working on? Our final answer which I really like is Industrial Swamp Music. Like Skinny Puppy and Dr John fucked and made a baby. hahah.
I have to ask who's in charge of making your music videos? The video for Passing em by is amazingly strange. It seems to have almost satanic imagery. How do you bring these together - do you worship satan?
The first video off Alter Destiny was for the song The World and was directed by a good friend Kate Shultz who teaches film at the Univerity of Central Florida. The concept for that was really all hers and it came out amazing. She has a great psychedelic style that I just loved when I saw her first film When the Alligator Called to Elijah, (http://vimeo.com/63745200). It is so grimy and just captures that spirit of the swamp that I love. When I decided to start working on Passing Em By I was already living up in Brooklyn so I didn’t have the option to work with her anymore and decided to do it myself. The imagery is all found footage from a variety of sources. Some of the footage is tessellated images of swamp life. There are also some great Butoh performances in there. They just looked so ritualistic. There is definitely a heavy occult feeling to it. The song has always felt like a goetic chant and had a very ritualistic feel so I decided to embrace that with footage from real OTO and Golden Dawn rituals as well as some Laveyan Satanism thrown in there. I wouldn’t say its satanic as much as it is occult and carnal, very much like something you would see in a Lovecraft story calling to the old ones that existed before time. It starts with a group summoning the Wendigo and ends with a banishing ritual, essentially putting the demon back in the box. Gotta make sure you close all the gates you open.
If you had to choose one album, one book, and one movie to take to a deserted island, what would you choose?
Album: Lauryn Hill – The Misseducation of Lauryn Hill
Book: H.P. Lovecraft – The Complete Fiction
Movie: Richard Elfman – Forbidden Zone
Also can i request that carrots grow there cause thats my favorite food. haha.
What's in the future for The Wendigo? Any new music or shows to look forward to?
I’m kinda hibernating for the winter. Right now I’m working on a new EP not sure what its going to be called yet I have about 6 new songs I need to record the vocals for and weed through. I’m hoping to have that done by spring. I’m also toying with the idea of adding a back up percussionist or two for the live shows but I’m insanely controlling and protective when it comes to Wendy so I am struggling with that. I think live it would really bring the stage show together and take some pressure off me but its like letting someone hold your new born the whole time you are thinking if this bitch drops my kid I swear to god haha. I will definitely be back playing again come March - me and Kelly Knapp at Noise Love are working on putting together a spectacle of bands and chaos and fun for summer that should be amazing once it all comes together so definitely keep an eye out.
By Alexandra Howard
Nick Harris is a young bedroom pop artist from Chicago who's recent release "night terrors" sounds like the soundtrack to a pensive, icy morning walk through the park. Night of terrors is the third EP Harris has released this year, the third cycle of a project he calls "Living in Liminality".
Liminality - a transitional state associated with confusion - is exactly what Harris' music embodies. These songs are the sonic translations of the transition from fall to winter, or rather, the uneasy feelings of growing up that hit you unexpectedly. The somber timbre of this EP, overlaid by his voice, draws you into a universe of icemen, nightingales, and infinite glaciers.
I sent the young Chicago recording artist some questions and this is what I got back:
Who is Nick Harris?
Nick Harris is a Chicago musician who plays live and records all the time with his friends in Sons of the West, Peasantry, The Kuhls and Luke Henry and Rabbitfoot. He also also spends copious amounts of time alone in his apartment whipping up songs and sounds with his computer and keyboard and guitars. The truth is, I don’t exactly know for sure who he is yet, but I’m getting to know him better all the time.
Could you explain your "Living in Liminality" song cycle project?
I was putting out demos and home recordings one song at a time through my Soundcloud for about a year before I started “Living in Liminality,” and I wanted to start doing releases in a longer-form format that would allow me to work more with over-arching themes while still making lots of music and putting it out at a fast pace in order to hone in on my production and songwriting. So I decided to start the project as a long series of EPs, with each one being as sonically and thematically cohesive as possible.
What does "Living in Liminality" mean?
Liminality is a fancy college word I learned in a class about homeric epics, and it’s the state of change, ambiguity, confusion, lostness that comes between two life stages (see Britney’s terrible yet applicable song “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”). But to think that what our lives come down to is a series of transitions from point A to point B is oversimplifying it. I think it’s way more complicated than that. To me, there’s a lot more liminality than any real sense of stability year to year, day to day, minute to minute, and writing songs and making music and records is how I respond to that perpetual twilight. Even though not all of the songs are explicitly about me and my experiences, you can look at the project as a record of certain fleeting moments in my life.
How did you begin writing and producing, and do you do it all by yourself?
It was through a cocktail of curiosity and ambition. I’ve been coming up with little bits of music since I first started playing years ago, but until the last couple years or so I hadn’t been writing fully fleshed-out songs myself. I’ve always helped with arrangements of songs, but the primary songwriter of groups I’ve been a part of was always someone else. I started doing things myself a couple years ago when I realized that all you need to make a great song is a guitar, your voice and literally any kind of recording device (including a laptop with a mic and cheap software), and that truly great music will shine through regardless of recording quality. And I do all the writing and recording by myself, except on my first EP “Goodnight, Morning” which features the talents of Gregg Midon on drums on a couple tracks.
Where do you draw your musical and creative influences from?
Everywhere. It’s a kind of a mix of musical auteurs and people who make lo-fi records. Prince, Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren, R. Stevie Moore, John Maus, Jay Reatard, Guided by Voices, Alex G, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Joni Mitchell. All sorts of people. I get lots of inspiration and ideas from movies, TV, commercials, sci-fi novels, my friends and things I see when I’m riding around Chicago on my bike.
Finally, what other Chicago acts should we be listening to?
Here’s a list of 10 great Chicago acts that I don’t play in:
Gregg Midon (giscooking.bandcamp.com)
Anthony Saint and the Downers (anthonysaint.bandcamp.com)
Dam Gila (http://damgila.bandcamp.com/releases)
The Walters (http://thewalters.bandcamp.com)
The Gnar Wave Rangers (http://thegnarwaverangers.bandcamp.com)
That’s just a starter list. There’s too many great Chicago bands to name, man.
Check out the music of Nick Harris here: http://musicofnickharris.bandcamp.com/album/night-terrors or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nick-Harris/401920913295417
Todayshits is a self-described now-school punker from Chicago with an affinity for pop melodies and a subversive disregard for production value. His new compilation Today's Favorites 2014 is available for pick-your-price download online at todayshits.bandcamp.com
Below is an interview I conducted with todayshits earlier this year:
I've gotten into your music as a total outsider to the Chicago underground music scene and it's hard to find much information about todayshits on the internet. I know you have some degree of involvement with Burger Records - to my knowledge, the extent of it is playing some shows with a few of their groups and rocking a Burger pin. And I know you have some degree of involvement with fellow Chicago band Magic Milk - I actually got into your music after taking a chance on a Magic Milk & the Goons cassette in Austin, looking them up in Bandcamp, and stumbling on your page somehow. But just how exactly you're involved with Magic Milk, whether you are/are a part of/are involved with all the Bandcamp pages on your Tumblr fakebands section, etc is a total mystery to me. Could you maybe shed some light on your projects and how all these groups fit together?
At the beginning of the song a day project I was sure it would be pretty low key and that fake bands would be cool, so I would take songs and make fake bandcamps. Some were a band that only played songs of the same length. Or a band that loved pizza I think, but I guess I'm less bored now? Kenny the guitar player for Todays Hits when we play live he is the guitar player and singer and guy who takes his pants off in Magic Milk. He had been telling people after we met one time at a festival called Cataracts that if they were not listening to me they were crazy and then he went so crazy he pretty much picked all the songs we play and told me we were a band. Then we got Andrew Martin from locals The Sueves to play drums and there we were! We will have a tape out on Burger Records and Gnar Tapes and Shit as soon as the world is ready for it. (editors note: the tapes have come out and are on the Burger website for free!)
What’s up with your crazy YouTube video for "Cooler Jerk"? ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu1kJgPiVlA) How'd you get to perform it on cable?
Chica Go Go is an amazing gem we have in our city. It is a kids dance show that plays things kids can dance to. I was asked to preform, and gladly accepted.
How aware are you of, and to what degree are you inspired by, other classic singer-songwriters like R. Stevie Moore, Daniel Johnston, and Bob Dylan who have released massive amounts music at a similar pace?
Have not really listened enough to any of them to properly place myself amongst them. Would not consider any a real idol. I am sure their work and dedication is the reason this path exists for me, but I'm more inspired to go to work by 2Chainz being on every song this summer.
A big focus of the website is the lo-fi/bedroom recording scene. Do you consider what you do "lo-fi"? If so, do you seek more of a lo-fi sound purposefully for idealistic or aesthetic reasons and what reasons are those? Your cover art with the aquarium background for The Boy Can't Help It seems to support that you do, but I might be totally wrong about that.
I had a grandpa I never met but I heard he played hobo songs. Would do anything to hear them. I live in a time where I can make sure that doesn't happen to my grandkids. By any means necessary.
You give away almost all your music for free online with the exception of HOMECOURT ADVANTAGE. Why charge for that album? Why give away the rest? What are your feelings in general on the value of music, charging vs. giving away for free, music piracy, etc?
We did a tour this summer out to the west coast and that was our fundraiser slash tour tape so we tried to make money to do that and people bought it, and so I don't wanna make em feel like they bought it for nothing. That $5 for those 20 songs is an homage to all that helped us have a great summer
You're stranded on a desert island and can only bring with you one person (celebrity, musician, or otherwise), one album, and one book or movie. What do you choose?
Rihanna, and whatever album and book or movies she wanted.
And lastly, any plans to play any shows in New York in the near future, or any other dates/info readers should be aware of?
No clue right now. I really want to play with The Beets again, and I've been known to get my way.
I want to make a movie. In this movie all of the trashcans of NYC grow arms and legs and start eating people. The city gets put on lock-down and the citizens of the city have to survive the night. The camera would follow different people and their reactions to the doomsday situation. Some fight back, while others try to enjoy what they think are their last moments. Overall the tone wouldn't be negative or scary, it's more an affirmation of the fact that you're alive. A reminder of the intensity that existence can hold.
Klaus Johann Grobe is the soundtrack to that movie. The Swiss-German duo play their own flavor of 60's inspired psychadelic rock stripped down to its essentials: sharp dancey drums, funky, percussive bass, vocals that sound cool enough in Swiss-German to make you drop your fondue, all dipped in a classic pysch-organ smoothie.
I got the extreme pleasure of emailing some questions to Klaus Johann Grobe, and this is what I got back:
There's been a bit of a confusion about who "Klaus Johann Grobe" is - some people might initially think the band is a solo artist. What's the story behind the name?
It’s just a name really. It fitted the feeling we had about the band and what it is or was or could be quite well. It says many things if you like it, and nothing at all if you don’t like it. It’s a good name!
What are the songwriting dynamics like between you two? Do you find inspiration in any other particular songwriting duos?
Normally we both sit at home on our own, fiddling around with basses, chords, synthleads or drumpatterns. Eventually there will be a song in the end. We know pretty quickly if something is going to work or not. After that we’ll bring it to the rehearsal room. When Dani ads the live drums to my songs, or I ad organs or stuff to Danis tunes and we start messing around with them they change a lot and new ideas come up. Lyrics always come after the instrumental parts, sometimes only 2 minutes before recording time. The good thing is we both know exactly what Klaus Johann Grobe is about, without really talking about it.
What attracts you to the vintage organ sound?
The sound of the organ was always there as long as we play music together. And probably as long as we listen to music. It took a while to get into the cheap and cheesy organ sound as well, but in the end its always the same, it adds a wonderful and known warmth to the music its used in. And its easy to create those eye-twinkling moments with an organ. It’s a really funny instrument.
You guys have been touring around Europe quite a lot recently - any interesting or crazy "on the road" stories?
Yea, we did drive the whole last tour with a broken backlight on our car. Exciting days! But to be honest, apart from constantly breaking our equipment we’re not really rock n roll. We do drink lots of beer and dance to our own acapella dj set sometimes.
A lot of labels have been put on your band's music, everywhere from Brazilian Tropicalia to Krautrock - were you surprised to hear such a wide range of genres applied to your music? How do you guys see yourselves?
We were kind of surprised yes. But more in the sense that people could actually hear specific influences that must have been somewhere in our music but we had never thought about. On the other hand however, we listen to so many different things all the time it’s only natural that there are influences from psych to jazz and from avantgarde electronics to pop music. It’s all good and we’re not afraid of anything. Maybe that’s why we can’t really describe our music. It’s probably more about a feeling than a genre.
What other Swiss German bands (besides Klaus Johann Grobe) should we be listening to?
We like «Blind Butcher» or «Fai Baba» a lot.
I love listening to your music and walking around NYC, it seems to lend itself really well to passing images and scenes- has anyone approached you guys about putting your music in movies yet? What do you think a Klaus Johann Grobe scored movie would look like?
Not yet. We would love to compose music for a movie though. When we are writing songs there are always certain images in your head. So it’s interesting if someone else gives you inputs and you have to find the right musical moods for it. We can’t really think of a specific Klaus Johann Grobe movie. It would be ace to have a proper car chase in it though. And some nightclub dancing as well as a heartbreaking love scene.
If you could bring one guest member into the band living or dead to collaborate on an album who would it be?
That’s a really difficult question. We’re both big Soft Machine fans. It would be amazing to have musicians like Wyatt, Hopper or Ratledge on a record. On the other hand we might need Manfred Krug to sing some lines on our next album. Yes, we really need to contact him…
When are you guys coming to NYC?
We’re certainly coming over to the states. But first we’ll need a break from all the touring and play european festivals during summer. Our record label Trouble In Mind is based in Chicago, so it’s only a matter of time til we’ll hit NYC. We’re looking froward to it!
Listen to Klaus Johann Grobe here: https://soundcloud.com/klaus-johann-grobe
Download here: http://troubleinmindrecs.com/bands/klausjohanngrobe.html
By Caleb Oldham
Liberty Styles is a singer-songwriter and tap dancer who manages to combine both art forms live, looping and layering her voice while tapping out an accompanying (often show-stealing) rhythm section. We got a chance to talk to Styles this past week about her musical influences, aspirations, and process.
When did you start combining tap dancing and singing?
I started this summer when I was living in Cincinnati. I was doing labor organizing and conducting oral histories with Walmart workers, and on my free time I started putting the audio clips into Garage Band and setting them to a beat. I started humming, drumming my fingers on the table, and tap dancing. Once I got my loop pedal, my interest in combining the two grew because I could do it live.
Have you ever encountered anyone doing anything similar to what you're doing?
Singing and tap dancing have been best buds for a long time! James “Stump” Cross, the Nicholas Brothers, Gene Kelly… they all were song-and-dance men. I haven’t seen much done with a loop pedal nowadays, though I bet it’s out there. In terms of mixing electronic music with tap, I really dig Nicholas Young -- he taps on a board that hooks up to his computer so that he can alter the echo and create other effects. He doesn’t sing but he loops together outside voices and body percussion in a cool atmospheric way.
What artists influence you? What are you listening to these days?
My favorite band of all time is Talking Heads -- they’re tight, upbeat and unapologetically strange. Tune Yards and Rubblebucket definitely inspire me in terms of vocal complexity and punchiness. I’ve been listening to a ton of hip hop too because it’s so wonderful to tap to. I especially like Vince Staples and Isaiah Rashad a ton because of the way they tell stories... and their rhythms are nasty.
Your music has got a beautiful trance-like quality with mantras like "Um Shali" and "Wang Dang Doodle." Are these expressions products of a jam session or do you usually start off with them?
Wang Dang Doodle is actually an old blues standard, my version was a cover… but yeah, I definitely wanted to make it into a party mantra towards the end of the song. The phrase “Um Shali” was invented by me and my high school friends and we chanted it to each other a lot on weekend nights, so it just came out of my mouth one time after I had already made a loop, almost by accident, but it fit.
When you're writing music do you usually start with the beat or the melody?
It really depends. Sometimes a melody randomly comes into my head and I record it on my phone so that I can loop it later. Other times I’m clapping and drumming into my loop pedal and find an entrance into it with my voice.
You've recently been collaborating with Columbia rapper Jonah Hemphill. Do you see yourself doing any other collaborations in the near future?
Yes, I hope so! Jonah is really amazing and super fun to jam with. I am definitely interested in making my sound deeper… by adding bass, maybe, or a synth. I live in a house with some sick musicians, so there’s a lot of great musical fusion going on all the time. So we’ll see!
The subject matter of your songs are characters from your life: your mom, your dog. How important are the people in your life to the music you make?
They’re everything! People make my world go round, and they completely shape who I am. I’m the kind of person that wants to know everything about your mom and dog, so I guess that’s why I sing about mine. And I like to sing about things the way they are, not the way they should be. I like specific words and actions that make people strange and vibrant.
Where can listeners see you perform next?
You can see me at the “Power Collage” art show on December 4th that goes from 7-9:30 in Altschul. I’ll holler out soon when I have another gig in the city!
Listen to more from Liberty Styles at her Soundcloud.
By Caleb Oldham
On a small island named Bruhaha far out at sea in a galaxy far, far away there is a special way of saying hello (and goodbye) that's a bit different than how you or I would do it. Out there they say: "Chill Grooves!"
"Oh Chill Grooves there!"
"Sorry I can't stay, Chill Grooves!"
"Stop right there!"
"Oh shit you got me!"
"You're arrested right now."
"I'm a real man"
"Fuck tha man!"
"I've got a gun and a badge"
"Fuck tha man!"
"I've got a gun and a badge!"
"Fuck you man!"
"I've got a gun!"
"Fuck the man! And I hate the world!"
That last part was from the Halifax smoothcore artist Harley Alexander's song "F Da Man". Alexander is the kind of musician that would have any native of Bruhaha immediately exclaiming "Hello!"
I had the extreme pleasure of asking Harley some questions, and this is what I got:
Doing research for this, I couldn't find a lot of bio information on Harley Alexander-would you mind filling us in a little?
Well, I'm a Canadian boy. I'm 25 years old. I grew up in Ottawa. I am a boy.. a male. Male (laughs)
You used to record under the name "Sheepman" what prompted the switch?
I had a falling out with the band and the content was changing and I was changing, and it just didn't feel like we were the same band as when we started out, and I wanted to be free from that. I just wanted to be completely free to create whatever I wanted without the history.
The sound of your guitar is really at the center of your songs-do you usually come into the studio with a specific sound in mind or does it come out of a trial and error approach?
Sometimes I have it in mind. I usually write on acoustic guitar, but I generally know the sound that I want - the texture. I like pretty clean sounds-not too synthetic.
What artists inspire you?
I really love Jonathan Richman, I really love The Kinks, Harry Nilsson, Neil Young and Lou Reed. Old music mostly. Old sensitive boys.
Why doesn't Tony Stark just give Black Widow, Captain America and Hawkeye Iron-Man suits? We know he has them.
Tony stark is a narcissist and he doesn't want people taking his identity.
There is a lot of great guitar-oriented pop music coming out of Halifax right now- what do you think makes you stand out?
I like clean guitars, and I think my influences are different. I grew up in a different city listening to different music. A lot of the bands here are from here and grew up listening to the same kind of music. I think coming from somewhere else, growing up on different stuff just innately makes my playing different.
Was your song "F Da Man" inspired by a specific experience?
Funny you should ask! It was actually a handful of experiences. Overall, I was taking out my frustration with authoritative figures. I've never felt safe or really appreciated by them.
Specifically the song was about two experiences. The first half of the song - the first chorus specifically- was about getting a speeding ticket a few years ago on my way to Vancouver, and the cop pulled me over. And he had already pulled us over at a sketchy speed trap spot so it was already greasy. It was on Transcanada between a gas station where the limit is 50 and the highway where the limit is 90... Anyway, the cop was parked right in between the speed change and caught me going 90. He pulled me over, and I knew he was looking for blood because he started looking around asking me if I had any alcohol drugs or weapons. He made me pull out all the empty bottles to check that there was no alcohol in them. He then scanned my license, noticed I had an X under the optical thing and asked me where my glasses were, and I told him I had contacts in. So he preceded to stare me down and call me a liar and say I didn't have the contacts in. He looked me straight in the eyes, told me he couldn't see the contacts. I told him I had them, he said no you're not you're lying, I said again I have them in here. He told me to take them out, so I took my contacts out. That's why there's the line "take my eyes take my pride, make me hate the world". So he sees I have the contacts in, and gets all pissed off because obviously he looks like an idiot. So then he goes back into his car, then comes back to me, to the window, rolls it down, and he hands me a ticket face down, so I don't see how much it is. Tells me that I have blah blah this many days to pay it. Then scurries off, and I flip it over and it's 300 bucks. 300 dollar ticket and my eyes were all itchy and hurting for the rest of the day cause I had to drive all day long with my dirty contacts in.
The other half of the song was just about a house show that we had and the cops came and gave me a 500 dollar ticket and no one at the party helped me pay for it. So that's like the intruders filled their mouths to shake down at my house, just a bunch of drunk 19 year olds and no one helped me out. Basically the song is frustration trying to be filtered into a light context. Try not to face it with anger, but make a joke about it.
A different Halifax group The Jennifers actually recommended you to me - what other Halifax acts should we be listening to?
You should be checking out Robert Loveless he's my main man, my partner in crime, also Brian Askew another sensual being very talented, the Everywheres, the Gnarwhalz. These are like my main crew.
What are you doing when you aren't playing music?
Chilling with my bae mostly. Sort of looking for work. I have a home studio- which I just record my friends and anyone who wants to pay me who I'm not morally opposed to I'll get down with.
When's the next time you're coming to NYC?
As soon as you invite me! Probably in the Spring- I gotta put together some US dates obvi.
Any parting words?
Thanks for having me! Spread the love, treat each other with kindness. Peace to the world. Love yourself.
By Caleb Oldham
When I first heard the Jennifers two months ago I freaked out. So much so that, after listening to every song they had put up on Soundcloud, I felt compelled to send them a message telling them I was freaking out. Before writing this article I couldn't really tell you exactly what made them so GOOD-the energy, the tone on the guitars, the exhilarating feeling that you've stumbled upon the next saviors of sound, but none of this really captures the essence of what hit me so strongly that faithful night.
The quartet from Halifax, Canada label their music "Garage Truth" and I think Truth is the keyword here, because it is the Jennifers' "authenticity" that makes them such an amazing band. Authenticity is a pretty vapid word these days but listen to the way the singer draws out his vowels like Bob Dylan's having a stroke on the chorus of "She Left With All The Jazz", the riff that stutters and stumbles before smoothing into a stream that carries you away with it in "Drum Jam", the slap of the face you get at the beginning of their cover of The Beatle's "Don't Let Me Down" (They do a better Beatles than The Flaming Lips recent) and you might hear it.
I sent the Jennifers some questions and here is the result:
So, I guess first off if you could tell me a little bit about yourselves and the band history?
Well, first things first we met in Halifax, though some mutual friends - Stephen and Will (guitars) were already writing stuff and had a bunch of tracks ready to go, then Cian and Ian slid right on in and it all started from there.
You label your music as "garage truth", I can definitely see the "garage" but where does the "truth" come in?
The garage truth label came from Stephen's soundcloud tracks, and we just decided that was the best way to describe what we were doing at the time.
What is the songwriting process like for you guys? What do you think differentiates SteezyP's (Stephen) solo work from The Jennifers?
Typically when a song is written, it usually stems from a lick that one of us comes up with either on our own time, or out of nowhere in a jam. Lyrics generally come after when the mood's right. Stephen's solo stuff is essentially 100% written by him, and the tracks are then recorded sometimes with a few friends, but typically it's all done by him.
What are some other Halifax bands we should listen to?
Some good Halifax based bands we listen to are Harley Alexander, Weird Moon, U2, The Everywheres, and Cold Warps - we're missing a bunch - there's a ton of buzz in the scene right now, not that we were in it though.
Do the Jennifers have any groupies?
We have Noah, and John Thomas, as our mains, and we got a few brothers and sisters out there in Dal and Kings.
Are you guys going to be putting out any new material soon?
Right now, we're in a bit of hiatus status, because half of the band moved to Toronto, and the other half are still in school back in Halifax, so yeah, nothing from the Jennifers as of now, not until we're all back together.
Do you guys have a motto that you live by?
Not really, Ciano has a lil' thing calle "popology", but we won't get into that.
Any plans for this year yet?
Stephen's working on his solo project, along with a new band he made with the bass player Ian, and a friend kristjan. Ian's got some stuff in the works, mostly ambient echo-y stuff, but he says he doesn't really see it going anywhere. Will and Ciano always got something going on, but Will's learning the ways of Math, and Cian's writing various screenplays.
Hopefully before the start of next year's school - most likely next summer - we'll have a few more shows under our belt, and possibly an EP, but who knows.