On Wednesday, Robin Thicke and Pharrell lost their appeal in the infamous “Blurred Lines” copyright case, the landmark music verdict ruled that the groovy 2013 track sounded way too familiar to Marvin Gaye’s much groovier song, “Got to Give It Up.” The appeal results continue the “giving credit where credit is due” debate and is extremely worrying to those who believe that the court’s outcome damages creative freedom in the songwriting field. The three judges in the appeals case were not unanimous in the decision to uphold the ruling; the dissenting judge cautioned that the final result “establishes a dangerous precedent that strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere.” Marvin Gaye’s three children, who were awarded more than $5 million from the original decision, struck back with the statement, “If an artist wants to use the work of others for ‘inspiration,’ they always have been welcome to ask for permission.”
Country Music Turns Its Back On The NRA
Country music has long been linked with a specific type of Americana – one that features flag-flying, blue jeans, trucks, and of course, the right to bear arms. However, a recent edit to the NRA’s website indicates that the classic genre’s relationship with guns is changing. The shift began after the Las Vegas shooting on October 1st, when a gunman massacred fifty-eight people during country music festival, Route 91 Harvest. In the week following the shooting, Rolling Stone reported that many of the musicians featured on the NRA’s website were no longer inclined to confirm their ties with the association. This week, ahead of Saturday’s student-led “March For Our Lives” protests, over thirty country musicians’ names have been removed from the NRA’s online list of associated artists.
That New New:
R&B’s princess of minimalism is back with a new ear worm – Jhené Aiko debuted a double serving of videos for her new track, “Never Call Me.” Global music collector, Diplo returns with a solo EP called “California.” Jack White’s long-awaited album, Boarding House Reach, is here, andreviewsaremixed. Kimya Dawson, Leon Bridges, and Thom Yorke have all announced tours, while Bloc Party will be playing their seminal album Silent Alarmon six European stops this October. Magda Davitt, the artist formerly known as Sinead O’Connor, also delivered dates this week; next month she plays in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In other live news, passes for all of Red Bull Music Festival’s May events are on sale now and on Monday, tickets for Christine and the Queens’ Halloween show are up on Brooklyn Vegan.
More Music News:
Realizing that teachers across the United States like to use their zany music videos in the classroom, OK Go has debuted an educational website. OK Go Sandbox pairs the band’s creative clips with free learning guides that bundle suggested assignments, spelling words and more.
Lollapalooza announced its lineup, and like so many others this year, the Chicago festival features very few female musicians, and a lot of lame excuses as to why male stars always seem to get top billing.
As part of a court ruling for securities fraud, Pharma-bro Martin Shkreli has been ordered to forfeit his copies of unreleased albums by Wu-Tang and Lil Wayne. However, we still might never hear Once Upon a Time in Shaolin and The Carter V; their future will probably be determined by U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. He doesn’t seem like much of a hip-hop fan.
It’s June 2016 and I’m testing how low I can get before breaking down. I’ve worked until midnight and gotten up at four to churn out more writing assignments. Seeking comfort from the stress, I reach for the chips in my cupboard, eat more than I intended, panic, and make myself throw up. Unable to focus on an empty stomach, I do it all over again. I move my laptop to Starbucks and order iced cold brew after iced cold brew, telling myself to focus until I’ve finished my 18th article of the day. My stomach feels like negative space.
I write a resignation email for my most stressful job and fantasize about sending it, knowing I’ll never have the courage. I don’t need the money, but the thought of turning down work makes me recoil. I must be successful and success means more bylines and more money.
This is a pattern I’ve become all too familiar with. But at least this time, I have something to look forward to. After another four hours of sleep and 15 articles, I’m headed to Vegas for Electronic Daisy Carnival, an electronic music festival I’d never heard of until the press trip invitation arrived in my inbox.
To accommodate my crazy work hours, I fly in the night before and pull an all-nighter. I sign in for my shift at 3 a.m. from a casino cafe and churn out 7 articles until it ends at 11. Just when I think I’m done, my editor keeps me late to post an update on the Orlando alligator attack.
Meanwhile, a college friend’s blowing up my Facebook chat, begging me to join her in Ibiza in two weeks. I can’t because of this goddamn job. Getting time off is impossible.
Skrillex and Diplo’s “Where Are U Now” wakes me up from a three-second, sitting-up nap. Emboldened by the catchy riff punctuating Justin Bieber’s refrain and fantasies of Ibiza opening parties, I write another resignation email. This time, I type my supervisor’s email address in the “recipients” box.
I still can’t hit “send,” but getting close makes me feel wild. I pack up, put on a tiny $3 romper, and walk along Las Vegas strip. As I pass Serendipity and hum along to Calvin Harris’s “This Is What You Came for,” I visualize myself lounging by the fountain, eating over-priced, calorie-packed ice cream. That would be self-indulgent. Unproductive. Bad. Glorious. Free. How freeing it would be to be bad. I don’t dare enter, but the thought alone loosens my mental shackles.
Something has to change this weekend. Either life as I know it will be destroyed, or I will. Either the part of me that forbids eating ice cream and dropping work will die, or the part of me that wants it will. I secretly root for the former.
As I enter the Las Vegas Motor Speedway that night with a parade of EDM heads in wings, animal faces, and bathing suits, that little voice in me that wants to fuck work and go be an ice cream eating fairy kitten princess says, “Hey, there. I missed you.” I pass giant glowing flowers, foreboding owl statues, and a tiny schoolhouse where people are coloring. This is the closest thing adults have to Disney World.
My pace picks up. I don’t know where I’m running, only what I’m running from: everything outside this land over the rainbow the Nevada dust had dropped me in.
In a pavilion where Russian DJ Julia Govor is playing, I make timid, barely detectable movements, flashing back to middle school dances. Then, I see a dude doing a little catwalk in a floor-length fur coat and bull horns.
Oh, OK, so nobody gives a fuck. This is not middle school. This is not a networking event. Toto, we’re not in New York City anymore. No matter what I do, someone next to me will be crazier.
But nobody’s judging the crazy person either. I want to be the crazy person. The one people compare themselves to so they can shed their misdirected shame. I run from stage to stage doing exaggerated moves I learned in zumba class or ballet or wherever the hell I picked them up. I smile at everyone, not caring if they smile back, but they do.
A cute guy intercepts me to ask where the bathrooms are. I tell him I don’t know, and his glance lingers on me. “Can I kiss you?” he asks.
“Sure,” I shrug, because why not, and we make out amid the blending cacophony of DJ sets. He gives me his number and tells me to let him know if I come to LA.
I can’t believe this is actually a way to live, I think. This is a world where I don’t have to prove anything to be accepted. Where I don’t need a pretentious OKCupid profile to get a kiss. Where don’t need a job to feel good about myself. Where my only job is to have fun.
The next morning, I hit “send.” Three minutes later, my boss asks if she can change my schedule to keep me. Maybe, I think, but not if that rules out Ibiza. “I’ll come,” I Facebook chat my friend.
On the bus to the next day’s festival, I spot a woman with rainbow hair. I see something in her I want to bring out in myself, so I sit beside her and recount my spontaneous makeout sesh.
After flirting with a new guy in line, I see her again at Anna Lunoe’s show. Then, as the neon lights glow against the blackening sky, she gives me molly on a rooftop overlooking the ferris wheel.
On my way back to the stage, the guy from the line asks why I didn’t answer his text. I hug him and walk on, throwing off my shirt. I can do better.
I meet the LA guy by the bathrooms, and we make out again. After chugging his water bottle, I say with honesty I didn’t know was in me that I’d like to go off by myself again. Stupid boys. I’ll have more fun alone because I’m fun. I’m a fairy kitten princess, dammit.
I merge with a crowd jumping and shouting through JAUZ’s mix of System of a Down’s “BYOB.” This is the best moment of my year, I think, and then I think about how contrary that is to everything I believed. The thing that made me happiest was not when my income hit six figures or when I published 20 articles in a day or when I lost five pounds or even when Whoopi Goldberg discussed my writing on The View. It was when I was was doing something so incredibly unimpressive (unless screaming “why do they always send the poor?!” louder than anyone else is impressive). Maybe you don’t have to suffer for the best things in life.
The next day, I realize that in an attempt to film the festival, I accidentally recorded my trip. “The themes in my life,” I listen to myself telling my rainbow-haired friend, “are discipline and deprivation. Whether it’s food or work, it’s all the same.”
When I hear that, I know hanging onto that job would be just as destructive as hanging onto my disordered eating. As Anna Lunoe and Chris Lake’s “Stomper” fills my hotel room, I tell my boss that if she wants me to stay, she has to pay me more. As I anticipated, she can’t.
I panic with the urge to go work on other jobs to make up for that one’s loss. Instead, I return to Serendipity, get an ice cream sundae, and don’t throw it up or keep eating after I’m full. I chuck the half-empty cup in the trash and call up a guy I’ve been crushing on as I walk along the strip. Then, I stop inside Sephora and buy makeup, something I’d always considered too indulgent. On the way, a guy sees my arm band, says “EDC fam!”, and hugs me like we’re long-lost relatives.
Over the next two weeks, I jog around my neighborhood listening to Elliphant’s “Not Ready”:
“I guess I’m not ready for reality / A young woman in a new world / I have a big responsibility / to live life wild and free like a bird / Now is the time to be dancing.”
My first night in Ibiza, as Chris Liebing fills the Amnesia opening party, I ask a German guy I would’ve deemed too hot for me before if I can bite him. We fall in love in just two days, and I leave in tears. But on the plane home, I realize New York and I are over anyway. I’m going to travel the world like I’ve always told myself I couldn’t, and Germany’s my first stop. I spend my flight to Dusseldorf transcribing an interview with Mexican DJ Jessica Audiffred, who told me,
“People want to experience a festival. People want to get crazy. They just want a place where they can let their emotions go. They just want to have fun. They just want to get wild and electronic music can give that and a lot of other things. Just to be in the festival scene, you realize why people go. You realize why people are interested. I think electronic music is a way for people just to be free and just to be themselves and have fun and let everything go.”
Slowly, my inner fairy kitten princess takes power back from the workaholic, money-driven person I never wanted to be. Now, nine months since EDC, I’m partying in a new country practically every month, I haven’t made myself throw up since last summer, and am still with the guy from Amnesia. And I’ve got rainbow hair.
My world used to extend from the Kips Bay studio apartment where I worked myself to the bone and stuffed my face to the 28th Street Starbucks where I filled my empty stomach and heart with cold brews. Now, it’s expanded through the beaches of Ibiza, the nightclubs of Berlin, the casinos of Vegas, and the Brooklyn clubs I used to pass by because I was “too busy.”
But there’s much more fairy kitten princess left in me, telling me to chuck it all and be a DJ, and she grows louder every time I hear “Stomper.”
Tucked between the bustle of E 6th and some seemingly deserted train tracks was the South by Southwest nexus of Fader Fort and a converted warehouse identified only by its address at 1100 E. 5th, which would host an array of bands under the daring header “Mess With Texas”. I was especially grateful for the stellar lineup sponsored by a slew of vendors, since I’d somehow tragically forgotten to RSVP for Fader Fort. The Mess With Texas showcases were set to span three days and featured impressive rosters in both their day parties and their nighttime extravaganzas, with the venue shutting down midday. There was an outdoor space buffeting the huge warehouse floor which was equipped with massive, pounding amps. I don’t know if it’s just the necessity of drowning out all the bands other than the one you’re actually seeing, but I want to take a moment to note how extremely loud every single showcase I saw was. I mean, I could feel my hair follicles vibrating at some of these shows.
I felt guilty for missing Tycho’s set the night before so I planted myself beneath the awning of the outdoor stage, determined not to miss these boys this time. I was slightly disappointed, however, that due to the stage configuration the songs would not be accompanied by Scott Hansen’s gorgeous projections, which I’d been looking forward to seeing firsthand. Even without the visuals, Tycho bathed the crowd in a lush soundscape. Just as we settled into the dense, intoxicating layers, the speakers blew and silence fell. Apparently this had happened to Tycho earlier in the week, which only proves my assertion that no eardrum in Austin was safe from the incredible volume SXSW venues unleashed. It didn’t take long for the band to get it together and the encouraging crowd didn’t seem to mind the temporary snafu, falling right back into the sway. Despite the blazing sun beating on our shoulders, watching Tycho felt like being cleansed. Atmospheric, breezy guitar tones moved across my skin, anchored in Zac Brown’s elastic bass chords and the sensual beats provided by drummer Rory O’Connor. I let my vision blur out of focus, tilted my head back to the sky, and let the serene sounds saturate my senses.
Once Tycho’s set ended, I moved inside to escape the sun and (more importantly) to catch a few songs from indie darlings Girls. The incredible stage set-up included four band members as well as a coterie of boisterous back-up singers who did double-duty hyping up the audience. Flowers adorned the mic stands, reminiscent of so many altars and therefore drawing parallels between the players on stage and religious deities. I’d never seen Girls play live, and quite honestly never understood all the hype behind what I considered to be pretty run-of-the-mill garage rock. I know everyone is constantly losing their shit over the latest Girls releases, but for some reason none of the material ever really resonated with me. I can’t say that a venue this cavernous and filled with questionably shirtless bros was the ideal introduction, but in terms of their playing I can at least begin to see what all the fuss is about. There’s a compelling, vulnerable nature to the way Christopher Owens sings; this is true even at moments where the guitars burst explosively and the theatrics reach their greatest heights. “Vomit”, the band’s signature single, was a perfect example of this phenomenon, as it erupted with particular ferocity and brought the adoring crowd to its knees.
At some point (the point at which I tried to buy an overpriced Heinekin) I realized I’d left my ID in the pocket of last night’s outfit. Worried I would be denied entrance to any other showcases I tried to attend, I actually braved the crazy traffic to drive across town and retrieve it, hoping I’d make it back to the warehouse in time to see Cults. I arrived about halfway through their set but was absolutely tickled with what I saw. I’ve followed Cults since they began anonymously posting demos on bandcamp in the spring of 2010, but had somehow missed every single performance the Brooklyn-based band had played. The set lived up to all my expectations. It was sweltering inside the warehouse, the midday heat having turned it into an oven. So it was hard to imagine how Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin, both sporting hairdos that would made Cousin It look positively bald, held up under such intense temperatures. But they seemed unfazed, running through favorites such as “Oh My God” “You Know What I Mean” and “Go Outside” with smiling faces and cutesy bopping. Madeline’s vocals sounded sublime and the band perfectly replicated the 60’s girl group vibe that made their 2011 self-titled debut such a standout.
There was plenty on the menu in terms of shows that evening; Of Montreal and Deerhoof made one of a handful of what were probably noteworthy and fun appearances. I would have loved to see Das Racist, Dirty Beaches, or Zola Jesus, for a second (or third) time, and I was dying to catch Cleveland noise pop outfit Cloud Nothings. While all provided great options for ways to spend my second night in Austin, I could think of nothing but this: at the Belmont that evening, Jesus and Mary Chain were slated to perform around midnight. In my obsession with getting into this packed, badge/wristband/ticket only show, I committed one of the cardinal sins of SXSW. No band, no matter how rare or epic the appearance, no matter how important to you in terms of influence or admiration, should cause you to wait around in a huge line with no hope of entry into the venue, thus forgoing the chance to see any one of a number of other of bands; even if your secondary choices don’t compare to the actual experience of seeing the prolific band in question, almost anything is better than standing around waiting for nothing to happen and missing out on a host of other opportunities. I did put in a brief appearance at 512 for Young Magic’s rooftop set, which was thrillingly luxurious. A sumptuous rendition of “Night In The Ocean” featured reverb drenched male and female vocals twining around its incantatory chorus. But I couldn’t get my mind off the possibility of seeing Jesus & Mary Chain.
After a few frantic texts, the idea of watching the show from the parking garage across the street was bandied about and that’s eventually where we found ourselves. In all honesty, I was content with the set-up, as we had a perfect view of the stage and again, thanks to the punishing volume at which all venues set their amps, could hear Titus Andronicus’s set perfectly. If I didn’t hold that band in such disdain I would have been nearly ecstatic, but I do totally think they’re overblown and pretentious and I was tired and still a little bummed, knowing that this was all a fool’s paradise.
Jesus & Mary Chain ripped through their first few numbers in a sonic blast that would have reached us even if our little perch had been blocks away rather than across the street. Unfortunately, we saw all of about three songs before a group of crusty idiots totally blew our cover and got us promptly kicked out by a surly security guard.
Defeated and dejected, we trudged back to the Mess With Texas warehouse, where turntable.fm was hosting a slew of DJs in an elaborate promotion for the site, which allows users to DJ for their friends and random strangers alike in private chatrooms loosely based around a genre or theme. When turntable.fm first launched I spent an amusing evening in one of these chat rooms with my roommates and some of their coworkers, as well as some friends of ours back in Ohio. It seemed a novel way to share new tunes with old buddies, though my interest in doing so had since tapered off. I wasn’t a high school sophomore anymore, you know? I spend enough time in front of a computer as it is without haunting chat rooms, waiting for my chance to blow minds with some new Clams Casino track. I decided to start a blog instead.
I’m not sure if many of the other attendees had had similar experiences with turntable.fm but if they had not, they were certainly introduced to its interface that evening. Diplo stood center stage but was flanked by dancers shuffling around in over-sized Japanime-style animal heads meant to mimic the avatars available to users on turntable.fm. There was also a table full of paper avatar masks right at the door, presumably for guests to wear as a means of creeping each other the fuck out. Huge screens showed a cute little animated version of Diplo spinning. It was kitschy and sort of fun, but also kind of over-the-top. At SXSW you’re constantly being marketed to, and sometimes its nice to have things like the music to focus on to forget that. Turntable.fm was not going to let you be distracted by a silly-old real-life DJ like Diplo. Actually, I’m pretty sure the man has some kind of investment in the whole project, but still.
Diplo spun classics like MIA and Ginuwine and spent a lot of time getting an already rowdy crowd pumped up into a delirious craze. I saw some truly raunchy dance moves and if I’d been a little drunker probably would have joined in, but I was still feeling like an idiot over the whole Jesus & Mary Chain debacle. I vowed that Friday would be a day of redemption; I’d see so many bands my eyeballs would fall out of my skull. I’d shake my tail feather furiously to Star Slinger and Neon Indian’s Hype Hotel DJ sets. I’d reserve my energy tonight and tomorrow collapse from exhaustion if that was what it came down to. Who was I kidding? I’m getting older and was already a bit exhausted; I could feel a sore throat coming on. No matter! I shouted bravely to myself. These shows will go on, and I’m gonna try to see damn near all of them.
Each week Audiofemme gives away a set of tickets to our featured shows in NYC! Scroll down to enter for the following shindigs.