INTERVIEW: L’Rain, Spellling, and Boy Harsher to Embrace the Experimental at Basilica SoundScape 2018

Just a short ride on Amtrak from Penn Station, Hudson – with its quaint brick buildings, historic architecture, and riverside views – has become an enclave for New York City’s artistic expats. One of its architectural centerpieces rises from the city’s industrial past: Basilica Hudson, a sprawling 1800s foundry reborn in 2010 as a concert hall and community space, thanks in part to its somehow stunning acoustics. The waterfront land it sits on, just South of the tracks, is bucolic enough that camping visitors are offered tips on tick safety, and they’ll need it this weekend, when a few hundred noiseniks, metalheads, vinyl nerds, and lovers of the avant-garde descend on Hudson for the seventh annual Basilica SoundScape, taking place September 14th and 15th.

It’s a festival that bucks festival tradition, booking acts whose oeuvre often falls far outside of mainstream tastes for intimate performances in the Basilica’s dramatic main hall. Organized by Brandon Stosuy and Basilica Hudson co-founders Melissa Auf der Maur and Tony Stone, SoundScape kicked off its inaugural year in 2012 with noise artists and their “machines” and a dance party hosted by queer Satanists, Rainbow in the Dark (the collective returns this year to soundtrack SoundScape’s Saturday afterparty; the other, on Friday, is hosted by AudioFemme). Musical performances are augmented by readings, psychedelic art installations, a flea market, record fair, and local eats. It is, as Auf der Maur describes it, an “immersive pilgrimage” for those with dark tastes and open minds.

But beyond engaging its attendees with an uncommon experience, Basilica SoundScape offers experimental musicians something invaluable – a forum in which to try out new sounds and connect with fans and peers alike. For artists like Spellling (who plays Friday) and L’Rain (who plays Saturday), two very personal projects that defy genre classification, events like SoundScape are a rare and perfect fit. Both acts have found themselves on the bill at a wide range of events, from metal shows to R&B-focused events to jazz-centric salons; both say the fluidity of their styles allows them an opportunity to connect with vastly different audiences – as long as the crowd is open and receptive. And at Basillica SoundScape, that’s the crux of the whole program – to bring together disparate styles under the umbrella of experimentalism and offer them to listeners frothing at the mouth for outré encounters.

“In my live show I try to make people feel maybe a little bit uncomfortable. Not like I’m doing anything that weird, but I like to reorient them in the space and [make them] more aware of themselves than me,” says Taja Cheek, whose project L’Rain debuted last year with a widely praised self-titled LP built on fragmentary arrangements that drift between shoegaze, sound collage, and soul. Though it started as solo work aided by producer Andrew Lappin, Cheek’s live performances now feature improvisatory musicians Buz Donald on drums, Devin Starks on bass, and Ben Katz on synths and brass. “We’re on the cusp of a lot of different styles and genres so we’ve done lots of different sorts of bills, which has highlighted different parts of our performance,” she says.

Taja Cheek, a.k.a L’Rain: “I still feel like I’m learning a lot about what this project is and what it can be.”

For Tia Cabral, the Bay Area-based musician behind Spellling, SoundScape “feels like an ideal sort of coming together – so much intersectionality and multiplicity.” Like L’Rain, Spellling began as a solo endeavor with roots in multiple genres, culminating in 2017 debut Pantheon of Me and encompassing a sound that Cabral herself struggles to define. “One of the most exciting things is the various types of people that come together for music; [it] feels like the closest thing to spirituality and relationship building in this generation. It’s very satisfying to walk into a room and feel unsure if your sound will reach folks and if they’ll have an open heart to it, and watching that happen, or not happen. It’s always humbling and exciting and strange at times.”

Tia Cabral, a.k.a. Spellling: “I let myself be surprised by the process and return to that place of innocence and playfulness that exists in the sound I’m making.”

Cabral was inspired to create music in part by walking into those same spaces, observing and absorbing the ways various Bay Area musicians would create sonic tapestries built from loops and noise. “I feel like a lot of artists will be prepared to bring something special and new to [SoundScape] because of how unique it is,” she says, noting that she’ll likely debut some new tracks she’s been working on, too. “I’m still absorbing a lot about music – and my music – in a live context. A lot of festivals are more about the crowd than about the artist sometimes – this seems like such a good balance between the artist being able to give more of their energy and time in an exchange.”

Like Cabral, Jae Matthews of Boy Harsher – an electronic post-punk duo from Northampton by way of Savannah – says that stumbling into the noise scene and witnessing first hand the innovations there allowed her to see a place for herself in its ranks. Originally a film graduate student, Matthews met partner Gus Muller in a repurposed storefront church where he was throwing experimental shows; soon enough the two had opened up their own space in former gallery but needed a local band with a minimalist bent to fill out bills, and so Boy Harsher was born. After completing a grueling tour with The Soft Moon last spring, Boy Harsher have been flying out to experimental electronic festivals in Berlin, Hungary, Lithuania, and Detroit, but Matthews says she’s particular excited about SoundScape because “it’s a community based festival – no one overlaps, you get the opportunity to see everyone, and it’s a mixture of performance, music, and readings.” Matthews approaches lyric-writing from a literary standpoint (she’s also at work on a book project) but says performing live is all about the give-and-take between herself and the audience.

Boy Harsher’s Jae Matthews: “I was very fascinated with underground performance artists and it was really special to go to a basement and see someone rip a wild set.”

“When I’m performing I’ll use the audience response as a mechanism how to respond,” she says. “If I can tell it’s a crowd that wants to be more aggressive, and really wants to feel it and have that type of smacking visceral connection then yeah, I’ll go deep.” She remembers playing a show at local Hudson bar The Half Moon years ago attended by a sparse, but “devoted” crowd. After their SoundScape set, Boy Harsher DJs AudioFemme’s afterparty at The Half Moon, along with Eartheater and Becka Diamond. DJing, she says, “takes a different level of understand and concentration – just like knowledge of music and what you have and what it means to other people.” She admits she’s something of a novice in that realm but says her DJ sets gravitate toward “some weirder picks that maybe are more ostracizing and strange… or maybe super invigorating for whoever’s there.”

If there’s any place where oddities can be truly embraced, it’s certainly Basilica SoundScape. Cheek, Matthews, and Cabral are also looking forward to becoming spectators – during sets from Grouper, FlucT, Miho Hatori, Lightning Bolt, Photay, and others – yet another way in which the festival blurs the line between artist and audience. Whether that encompasses L’Rain’s ability to “disrupt people’s expectations” as she puts it, or Spellling’s stated intention to encompass the “fluidity and boundlessness that can exist in the dreaming mind,” or Boy Harsher’s filmic energy, which Matthews hopes will “transport [the audience] somewhere else,” it all comes together under the soaring, vaulted beams of that former foundry for one fevered weekend in September.

Single day and weekend passes are still available for Basilica SoundScape 2018 – more info here.

LIVE REVIEW: Basilica Soundscape 2017

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Blanck Mass at Basilica Soundscape 2017. Photo by Samantha Marble/The Creative Independent

Day 1:

I knew this would happen. My one-person tent is sagging like ruined soufflé. Its support beams are in all the wrong holes, and the whole thing is yet to be staked in the ground. The bus for Basilica Soundscape leaves in one minute. At 5:59 in Meadowgreens Campground in Ghent, New York, I relinquish a losing battle with said tent, leaving it in a frightening half-mast tangle, and board the shuttle flushed with defeat. This row would have to be settled later. In the dark.

For a moment I feared that this tent dilemma would prevent me from enjoying myself at all. What if I kept dismembering and reconstructing the tent in my head all night, and missed all of the music surrounding me? It could happen. These obsessive thoughts ceased however, the moment I entered Basilica Hudson. The 18,000 square feet factory building was built in the 1880s, and has produced everything from railroad car wheels to glue, but these days its main export is art. In 2010, musician Melissa Auf der Maur and filmmaker Tony Stone acquired the building, transforming the space into a sanctuary for music, film, and visual art.

Basilica Soundscape offers all of these mediums at their finest. Often described as “the antifestival,” Basilica Soundscape is exactly that – the weekend of music, poetry, and visual art feeling far more intimate than the word “festival” suggests. In fact, Soundscape seems more akin to a house party hosted by wealthy eccentrics, or a wedding held in a medieval hamlet. Within minutes of surveying the grounds, it appeared as though all the romanticism and utopia promised by other festivals was actually here all along, from the rainbow arching across the sky to the flayed chickens sizzling on an open grill.

At 6:30 everyone funneled into the Main Hall, where openers Bing & Ruth plunged into a dizzying set that I can only describe as sounding like the ocean. Pianist David Moore’s technique was both dense and delicate, evoking a sense of moving through water. The blue light enrobing the musicians and the whale songs sung by cello and clarinet added to the seascape of sound. Even the stage decorations seemed marine in nature; plumes of pink silk hung from the ceiling, dissolving into tendrils of rope and swaying like jellyfish. It was only after Bing & Ruth left the stage that I realized they were hand-dyed parachutes and not aquatic invertebrates.

On the other end of the decibel spectrum, Philadelphia’s Moor Mother (aka Camae Ayewa) annihilated all previous serenity with her serrated poetry and beats. Ayewa stabbed through her set, entangling herself in the parachute ropes and assaulting the crowd with glass-shattering backing tracks and car crash raps. Ayewa’s brand of hyper-politicized poetry utilizes the distortion of punk and the rage of metal to potent effect. Her command of the crowd was immense; when Moor Mother demands that you “hug your motherfucking neighbor!” and “slow dance!” you’d be wise to do so. And we did.

The next best display of aggression was black metal band Thou, who filled Basilica’s smaller North Hall with bowel-shuddering screams and swampy instrumentation. Next, Tunisian artist Emel Mathlouthi had everyone looking upwards, as she performed from the building’s rafters, her colossal voice bellowing from above. For one last dose of drama, Baltimore’s Serpentwithfeet charmed us with his occult gospel. Singer and musician Josiah Wise – the snake in question – is always mesmerizing live, as he summons the spirits of Nina Simone, Josephine Baker, and Aleister Crowley. He is a poised and diverse performer, able to traverse songs about mourning with his operatic pipes, and then whip the audience into fits of laughter with his wry wit.

A far less verbal artist, Indiana’s JLIN closed out Friday night with her hard-driving electronic collages, often splicing horror movie screams with chopper-like drum beats. JLIN’s set was weaponized and dense, but that didn’t stop a pack of men from breaking into arrhythmic dance moves in the audience, convulsing like electrocuted lab rats under the strobe lights. I hoped to harness their energy for later…I still had a tent to set up.

Day 2:

Basilica’s second day was filled with far more fury than its first. Notable early sets from Yellow Eyes and Yvette got our blood pumping right off the bat. The former filled the North Hall with unrelenting drums and ear-piercing screams. Fog hung around the black metal trio, while two wrought iron candelabras added a solemnity to their set, which was dedicated to a late friend of the band.

Brooklyn’s noise duo Yvette played a wealth of new material on the main stage, opening with the older, hard-hitting “Radiation” before treating us to new songs. Rumor has it the pair are currently recording another album, and their Basilica set was a delightful preview. The energy harnessed by lead singer/guitarist Noah Kardos-Fein and drummer Dale Elsinger was strategically focused on Saturday, only improving their intensity as performers. If Yvette were previously men of chaos, they now appear to be mad scientists, fiddling with knobs and emitting blips and whirrs amidst controlled fury.

There was unfortunately some overlap during sets by Priests and Protomartyr, but I was able to catch a bit of both. Priests commanded the large stage expertly, lead singer Katie Alice Greer stalking the stage in a spangled mini dress like The Runaways’ Cherie Currie. On the other side of the building, Protomartyr channeled FEAR and The Fall with a one-two punch of distilled punk rock.

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Priests at Basilica Soundscape 2017. Photo by Samantha Marble/The Creative Independent

We looked to the rafters one last time for readings by Morgan Parker, Darcie Wilder, and Hole drummer Patty Schemel, who read excerpts from her new memoir Hit So Hard. Schemel’s tales of Kurt, Courtney, and rock n’ roll abounded before Blanck Mass’s Benjamin John Power mounted the smoke-cloaked main stage. The technical headliner for 2017’s Basilica Soundscape was Zola Jesus, but for me, it was Blanck Mass, whose diabolical wall of sound is more a physical experience than a purely sonic one. Power ripped through tracks off his latest LP World Eater, churning out frenzied tapestries like “John Doe’s Carnival of Error” and slow grinding dance cuts like “Please.” Power is obscured during most of his sets, dressed in black and barely visible within the fog and flashes of light. In this sense, he becomes more entity than man – more furious gospel than mere entertainment.

So what was my takeaway from Basilica Soundscape 2017? Go every summer, bring ear plugs, try the chicken, and definitely get to know your tent before next year.


FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Basilica SoundScape 2016


Basilica Hudson is a “non-profit multidisciplinary arts center” in Hudson, NY that supports “the creation, production and presentation of arts and culture while fostering sustainable community.” They’re also throwing a killer music festival September 16-18, called Basilica SoundScape.

Wow, that sounds great! You’re probably thinking. But I have so many questions! Of course. Like, will there be after parties? Yes, at the nearby Half Moon barHow do I get to this Hudson Place? It’s two hours from NYC, by rail or car. Where will I stay? There’s camping nearby! And hotels. What else do they have besides music? Friday and Saturday pop-up shops, including one by Sacred Bones Records. How much does this cost? $75 covers a ticket for the weekend music festivities, $125 for the weekend + camping. Single day passes are also available. But let’s get to the most important question: Who’s playing at this thing?

Angel Olsen – Friday 

Angel Olsen’s new material from her upcoming My Woman is a bright and bold reinvention of this folk singer’s persona. “Shut Up Kiss Me” and “Intern” have shown a wilder and playfully sardonic side of Olsen, making her an act you won’t want to miss.

Bell Witch – Saturday

The Seattle duo is a gloomy, atmospheric doom band that brings a unique approach to metal. Using just drums, bass and, vocals, their sound is eerie and minimalistic. You might not get much head thrashing done during their set; if that’s your scene, just check out Cobalt on Friday.

Mary Lattimore- Friday

At The Dam, the harpist’s May 2016 album, creates its own little world with gentle, twinkling melodies that is delightfully easy to get lost in. If you camp at Basilica SoundScape, hopefully it will be much harder to lose your campsite.

Explosions In The Sky – Saturday

Bringing your dose of moody rock is Explosions In The Sky, scheduled to play on Saturday. Obviously, the nature friendly festival is the best place for them to play their latest album, The Wilderness. SoundScape’s organizers have described its lineup as “heavy,” and Explosions In The Sky is an ideal band to balance things out.

Deradoorian – Saturday

Angel Deradoorian is a former member of Dirty Projectors who has started a psychedelic solo project under her last name. A year ago, her Expanding Flower took us on quite a strange trip; read the review here.

On Basilica SoundScape & Authenticity

Julia Holter Basilica

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Gamelan Dharma Swara
Gamelan Dharma Swara, photo by Lindsey Rhoades

Touted as a cure to “festival fatigue,” this past weekend marked Basilica SoundScape’s third year in Hudson, NY, two hours north of the city. Nestled in that bucolic landscape hulks a cavernous 19th century foundry revamped and rechristened by Hole’s Melissa Auf der Mar and her partner, filmmaker Tony Stone, as an arts collective. With Brandon Stosuy (of Pitchfork fame) and Leg Up! Management’s Brian De Ran organizing a line-up of experimental music’s best and brightest, the shindig also boasts artisanal foods, art installations, and an avant-garde craft fair.

In many, many ways, it is the quintessential “anti-festival” – the only act I remember seeing on actual festival bills this summer was Deafheaven, who played Saturday night. It’s so different, in fact, that you begin to wonder why or how its organizers would even mention “festival” in the same breath as “SoundScape” except as a framing device for people who wouldn’t care in the first place and certainly wouldn’t be attending – those people that like festivals even, who plan to meet up with their crop-topped and cut-offed friends by carrying around some ten-foot, vaguely humorous sign or balloon animal all weekend, those people that don’t get festival fatigue because they live for any opportunity whatsoever to drop molly in a field with a hundred thousand rave-orbing Skrillex devotees. With capital-F Festivals popping up in or around nearly every major American city, this is no longer a market cornered by Coachella and Bonnaroo, but they all have the same vague feel – wide open grounds, multiple stages that make it impossible to see every act, overpriced tickets and overpriced concessions, ‘roid-raging security, and mostly unimaginative line-ups. The thing is, tons of people still go to these events as if it’s the only way to see live music. These people need no “anti-festival.” So who, then, is something like Basilica SoundScape really for?

Unlike most mid-sized towns with relatively small music scenes, New York City’s “scene” is pretty diffused due to its sheer size. But there is a specific intersection of journalists, musicians, labels, managers, PR teams, and their social circles who form the sometimes insular “insider” bulk; this is the subset of people Basilica was curated by and for, and they headed up to Hudson in droves. Though supposedly SoundScape attracts locals, most of the faces in the crowd were familiar to anyone tangentially related to the industry. Much the way SXSW can feel like a vacation for music-industry folks and culture critics (even though we’re all still “working”), SoundScape felt like a bizarro (though admittedly awesome) tailor-made alternate universe for an incredibly niche crowd. While that’s not exactly a bad thing – most of us do what we do because we are actually passionate about bands like Swans – there was a different kind of fatigue to the whole thing, even if it wasn’t “festival fatigue” so to speak.

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Julia Holter Basilica
Julia Holter, photo by Lindsey Rhoades

That being said, Friday’s performances were breathtaking. The most appropriately-named band on the roster, Endless Boogie, stretched their searing psych jams to their limits. Julia Holter’s performance was a personal highlight, her hands deftly springing over her keyboard, her vocals emotive and grandiose enough to fill the entire space but remaining somehow intimate. With a more sparse set-up than some of her typical full-band performances, it was a treat to see her play solo. Following her performance, Gamelan Dharma Swara filled the floor of Basilica Hudson, observers posting up all around the ensemble of twenty or so seated behind traditional Balinese percussion instruments. Xylophone-esque, the bars are tamped by hand after striking with mallets, their ornate golden forms producing tones just as gilded, the whole sound a complete wonder. That segued into the transformative drone of electronic wunderkind Tim Hecker, whose complex compositions act on the senses in peculiar ways. His low-end is amped to earth-shattering proportions, so as to produce a very physical sensation in the throat and chest (and even skull) while washes of shimmering melody play just beneath. It’s the best kind of thing to zone out to. Taken together, this onslaught of transcendent performances was worth the trip alone. Afterward, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry performed his inventive Music For Heart and Breath compositions, all of which are timed to the players’ own breath or heartbeats via stethoscope – a novel idea, although in such a cacophonous space full of distractions it unfortunately fell flat.

So, imagine now the type of person who would soak that all up while sneering at the idea of Outkast-and-Jack-White-headlined, corporate-sponsored Festivals – the music writers, the experimental composers, the record store clerks, the somewhat elistist Brooklynites who’d never be caught dead at Governor’s Ball (unless they were covering it for some internet publication or other). That’s who was there, and that’s who a thing like SoundScape is meant to impress. And yet, there wasn’t any real air of snobbery, because snobbery hinges on looking down at someone, and at Basilica, we’re all in the same discerningly curated boat, our sails full of our own good taste. And that is fine and good, and unsurprising, but let’s not pretend that SoundScape is solving any of festival culture’s actual problems, or even acting as a model for anything other than a DIY-ish version of something more similar to All Tomorrow’s Parties.

Really, one of the more innovative aspects of Basilica programming were the Saturday evening readings by Mish Way (of White Lung), Los Angeles poet Mira Gonzalez, and Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves. It’s an interesting concept to bring spoken word pieces into a lineup that features post-hardcore acts like Swans and Deafheaven, and the fact that all three readers were women felt progressive and uplifting. Graves’ piece was published in full on The Talkhouse and dealt with gendered double standards and examined authenticity through anecdotes about Andrew W.K. and the media’s treatment of Lana del Rey. It’s a bit of an odd comparison in some ways, Andrew W.K.’s “persona” having been invented prior to the popularity of the longform thinkpieces del Rey’s been such inspiration for, but at its heart was the very real feeling that female celebrities face far more scrutiny (and for that matter, scrutiny of a different breed) than men in entertainment ever do. Graves used Andrew W.K. as a talking point because she’d recently met him and familiarized herself with his backstory, but I couldn’t help but wish she’d left del Rey out of it and chosen instead to share her own struggle to be taken seriously or seen as authentic. Pop music is a whole other monster – something she touched on in her essay only briefly – because it reaches such a wide audience and by its very nature demands its performers have some sort of gag or gimmick, and that does manifest itself differently for women in pop than it does for men in pop. At Basilica SoundScape though, the kind of authenticity folks seemed most concerned with was proving their own, their presence at such a groundbreaking, culture-altering event the best sort of cache.

So Basilica SoundScape is absolutely worth attending if you truly appreciate a well-curated lineup in which the details and intersections behind every act are carefully thought out by its organizers. For those types of show-goers, SoundScape will likely continue to be that breath of fresh Autumn air as long as the gorgeous venue that hosts it stands. While it may alienate the mainstream festival attendees of today, hopefully SoundScape will act as a beacon that proves there’s always a different way – particularly for those that put big-box events together. If SoundScape can build on this year’s successes and continue the trend of innovation next year, even the Lollapalooza lovers are bound to notice.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

INTERVIEW: Emily Reo talks Olive Juice, DIY Touring, & Basilica SoundScape

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Emily Reo photo by Daniel Dorsa

Emily Reo‘s swirling brand of bedroom pop is the kind that makes you feel like you are sinking and floating all at once. Recording almost every sound herself, from watery beats to hazy synths to manipulated vocal loops, Reo has produced two albums in the last five years: 2009’s Minha Gatinha and last year’s Olive Juice. The first, for all its lo-fi dreaminess, had a certain sense of mystery that made it irresistible, particularly in a moment where home recording was having a hey day. Looking back, the record feels more like a raw collection of experiments than the fully-realized aesthetic Reo achieved with Olive Juice, which saw the artist revamp some of that early material while adding a batch of exciting new tracks and a stirring cover of Built to Spill’s “Car.”

To compare the songs side-by-side is to see how much Reo has grown in five years, and is an indicator of how far she can and will go as she continues to tour, produce tracks, and write new material. It’s with this in mind that the curators of BasilicaSoundScape, now in its third year, included Reo in this year’s lineup alongside acts like Julia Holter, Tim Hecker, Swans, White Lung, and Deafheaven. Taking place two hours north of NYC at Basilica Hudson in a reclaimed 19th-century factory, the festival features readings, art installations, and a host of sister events and afterparties that, when taken together, fly in the face of the huge, corporate-sponsored festivals that have cropped up all over the US these past few summers. AudioFemme will be on-hand for the event next weekend (September 12-14th), and though weekend passes are sold out, single day tickets are still available. We chatted with Reo about her involvement with the festival, her DIY approach to touring and making music, and the frustrations she faces as a woman in the industry.

AudioFemme: I’ve been a fan since Minha Gatinha. What propelled your decision to re-work some of those songs for Olive Juice?

Emily Reo: That rules, thanks for listening to the early stuff! Over the course of developing some of the songs from Minha Gatinha for my live set I started to prefer the newer versions, and really wanted to share what they had grown into. Minha Gatinha to me feels more like a collection of rough demos than a proper release and I wanted to give some of those songs a better chance.

AF: How did your ideas about production and your recording process change between the two projects?

ER: Between Minha Gatinha (2009) and Olive Juice (2013) I spent the better part of four years teaching myself more about recording and production while also honing in on a more specific sound that I identified with. Where Minha Gatinha was the process of figuring out how to write songs, Olive Juice was the process of taking songs and turning them into a cohesive package with an intentional aesthetic. More specifically, I started using more advanced recording programs, learned the basics of mixing and EQ-ing, and realized my personal limitations and the benefits of working in a studio with other people.

AF: Now you’re branching into producing other artists’ songs, like Yohuna’s excellent “Para True”. How did that collaboration come about, and is that a role you’d like to take on more in the future?

ER: After I finished recording Olive Juice, I started using midi to create sketches for future songs. In the process, I got really interested in making beats and learned more about production. When my good friend Johanne (Yohuna) asked me last year if I would add a beat to her song “Badges” I was so excited. Next I added a beat for “Para True” as well as mixing the track, which was a first for me and a great learning experience. I definitely see us working together more in the future, it’s something we’ve talked about for a really long time and we’ve sent things back and forth to each other for a few years now without much follow through. Her songs are indescribably gorgeous and it’s so rewarding to contribute something that can take them to the next level.

In general, production is something I would love to get better with and continue working on. Besides being a great skill to have for personal use, music production is generally a male dominated field which frustrates me a lot and just makes me want to learn how to do it myself even more. I know of so many incredible female producers that should be getting a lot more attention than they are, and I hope one day all pop songs aren’t still made by the same ~10 men. It would be really cool to have the skill and know-how to produce hits somewhere far very down the line if I don’t feel like DIY touring when I’m 50!

AF: So you’ve spent the last few years moving around a bunch, from Florida to NYC to Boston to Los Angeles. Has that affected your songwriting process? Do you feel at home in L.A. or are you contemplating another relocation?

ER: I actually just moved back to NYC in July. I loved my time in Los Angeles but haven’t been inspired to stay in one place for very long. And as much as I’d love to feel settled and stable, the process of moving around feels pretty liberating. For the past two years or so I’ve been living in short sublets, which allows me to experience a lot of different living situations between tours.

As far as moving affecting my songwriting process, it can be hard to get into a groove and really concentrate while I’m re-settling into each new place, but it keeps me from falling too deep into a routine. As long as I have somewhere comfortable to sleep and concentrate I can get things done. Until I find a place that really feels like home I’m enjoying spending time and working on projects with friends in different places, and might move again in the spring depending on how things are going.

AF: As much as you’ve remained nomadic, you’ve put down roots in that you’ve affiliated yourself with collectives like FMLY – how did your connection to FMLY come about? How does your affiliation with them help you further your goals as a musician?

ER: Honestly, FMLY is something that introduced me to a lot of guiding principles that I take with me everywhere I go, but it’s not something that I currently feel rooted with. The nature of a large and amorphous community/collective is that it’s ever changing, and because of this it isn’t always something that everyone will align with all the time. At one point it was exactly what I needed – I had just finished college and moved to NYC, and it introduced me to communal values and some really incredible people. But now my interests fall with taking a lot of the things I learned through my experiences with FMLY in a different direction than some other folks aligned with the collective might be interested in. Which is totally fine and great and the point of something like this – it should inspire creative and independent thought, not conformity. Sorry if this is vague or not the answer you were looking for, but I’m asked about FMLY a lot and although I’m super appreciative to have met many great people and been introduced to tons of rad communities through these ties, it’s just not something that has a direct daily impact on me or my music at this point in time.

AF: You just finished a bunch of dates with Cuddle Formation, playing mainly house shows, arts collectives, and other progressive spaces, called Utourpia. Can you talk a little about what organizing that tour was like?

ER: I love to travel and try to go on a long tour at least once a year, and since my partner Noah (Cuddle Formation) and I were planning on moving back to New York for a little while we figured the best way to drive across the country is on a tour. Tours give us the opportunity to visit as many places and friends as possible, while playing fun shows and making some gas money to keep us going. We basically made a list of all of the places we wanted to go, reached out to friends (or friends of friends) who live nearby and managed to book all of our shows. We’re really lucky to know such an incredible network of musicians across America who could help and/or point us in the right direction.

We were actually really surprised and honored that folks took interest in our method of “DIY touring,” which to us as musicians sans booking agents is just the only way we know how to tour and visit friends. The Fader even published a piece about Utourpia, DIY touring and communities in their print issue that just came out which was not something we would have expected going into this humble process!

AF: What were some of your favorite moments from the tour?

ER: Some highlights of the tour were in Vancouver at a space called Fingers Crossed, and a house show in Eau Claire, WI. We’ve always had incredible experiences in Canada between our first show in Montreal (in 2013) and Vancouver this year on Utourpia, and unlike shows we would play in New York or Los Angeles where a handful of people would come out and seem mildly interested these communities in Canada are incredibly supportive and enthused. Fingers Crossed is a gorgeous art space with every wall covered in murals and a bunch of risers built together by the collective. The environment was beautiful, the people that came out to the show were so fucking nice and the entire night was responsibly planned and purposeful. In Eau Claire we had the perfect house show situation, so many friends of the folks that lived at the house as well as parents came out (all-ages at it’s finest). I love when everyone can feel comfortable walking into a room whether they’re watching their friends or their kids play. That’s what it’s all about. The show was over right by 11 because it’s important to show your neighbors that you respect them and appreciate their willingness to have 5 loud bands play next to their windows, haha. And I honestly think Sayth (our friend Eric who also ran sound all night) played my favorite set I’ve seen so far on tour. There was a ton of talent as well as collaboration to make the show happen. I also really appreciated a space we played in Eugene, OR called The Boreal, which kept their safer space show policy on the front door. It’s important for both show-goers and artists to feel comfortable to create the best possible environment for a show.

AF: So what are your feelings, then, going into playing something like Basilica SoundScape? Because it’s oriented around the idea of an arts collective, it’s similar in some ways, but the scale is much different.

ER: I’ve admired Basilica SoundScape ever since it began and I feel so incredibly honored to have been invited to be a part of this. It’s definitely the largest scale festival I’ve been asked to play, and unlike festivals with corporate sponsorships or questionable intentions I don’t feel like I have to compromise anything. I’m also a huge fan of so many of the artists playing, it’s curated beautifully and everyone putting this together has been an absolute dream to work with. I realize that compared to everyone else on the schedule I’m like a kid walking into the first day of kindergarten, but the Basilica crew has treated me with so much respect and kindness I feel completely welcomed entering this prolific community.

AF: On Twitter, you voice a lot of frustrations with regards to sexism in the music industry. What do you feel are some of the biggest hurdles facing female musicians, and what can we all do, regardless of gender, to alleviate some of that tension?

ER: I wish I had a magical solution, but it’s a huge struggle not only for women but queer, POC and other artists of marginalized groups to get half as far doing double the work, and it doesn’t help that we’re constantly being treated in ways that make us feel completely deflated. I voice my frustrations (which are usually induced by sexist statements or actions I encounter both at shows and on the internet in regards to my music) in an attempt raise awareness of the very real experiences we have, and hope by doing so maybe someone out there will think before saying something offensive, or at least not deny that these oppressive acts take place with alarming frequency. I’m not trying to be the PC police, but the only thing I can suggest is for everyone to be extremely conscious of what you say and how you act towards the people around you.

AF: What’s your next undertaking? Can we expect another album soon-ish? More touring?

ER: I’m currently on tour with my good friend Warren playing in his band Foxes in Fiction, opening for Owen Pallett. With some other tour plans in the works. I also have some solo tour plans that I’m working on for early 2015 and am planning on spending the majority of winter writing and recording my next album. I have a smaller release that should be out before January as well, with more details to come next month!

Foxes In Fiction Tour Dates w/ Owen Pallett

09-08 Seattle, WA – Neumos
09-09 Vancouver, British Columbia – The Imperial Theatre
09-10 Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
09-12 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
09-13 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre
09-14 San Diego, CA – Casbah
09-15 Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
09-18 Austin, TX – The Mohawk
09-19 Dallas, TX – The Loft[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]