NEWS ROUNDUP: Don Pedro, SXSW & More

  • Don Pedro Is The Latest Venue To Close

    The Brooklyn venue will be closing after May 6th, the owner of the Ecuadorean-restaurant-turned-DIY space stated earlier this week. The building that includes Don Pedro has been sold to a limited liability company, but the venue’s manager, Danielle Giaquinto, said that they hope to reopen in a new Bushwick or Ridgewood location. Read more here.

  • After SXSW Controversy, International Bands Still Face Problems

    Several international bands have been denied entry into the United States to play the festival in Austin, despite having the necessary visas. Italy’s Soviet Soviet posted that they were not just turned away after landing in Seattle, but questioned for hours and detained overnight. London’s United Vibrations and Canada’s Massive Scar Era were also turned away. Many artists were under the impression their visas would cover performing at SXSW since they do not receive compensation for showcases, and though performers have taken advantage of that loophole in the past, many were denied from using it this year, including those scheduled to play additional shows that their visas didn’t cover at all. Needless to say, this strict application of visa procedure hurts emerging bands most; if you really want to deconstruct the situation, we’ll let NPR take it from here.

  • Speaking Of SXSW…

    Jealous that everyone else is eating tacos and rocking out while you’re stuck trudging through the remnants of Tuesday’s snowstorm? These clips will either make you feel better, or worse.

PLAYING DETROIT: Stef Chura “Spotted Gold”


Quickly rising as Detroit’s DIY pensive pop priestess, Stef Chura and her captivatingly peculiar lo-fi sensibilities shine and burn playfully in her latest video for “Spotted Gold,” the third single from her debut album Messes due out January 27. Chura’s candy-colored, battery acid coated disharmonious world beckons late 90’s MTV feels complete with pop-star commercialization and her signature voice, which teeters between collapse and eruption, finds its visual counterpart in “Spotted Gold.” The colors change quickly like the tuning of an old television set as does the wardrobes of Chura and her bandmates as if to But the most strikingly unsettling element is the montage of

The colors change quickly like the tuning of an old television set as does the wardrobes of Chura and her bandmates. But the most striking element is the montage of rapid-fire imagery depicting activities that are considered taboo (smashing a mirror) and bad judgment calls (pouring milk on a laptop) to completely self-destructive behaviors (drinking poison and playing finger/knife roulette) all of which end as badly as one might imagine. The aesthetic is clean, perhaps even sterile, but in Chura’s sugary torment, is messily sincere. It’s easy to interpret “Spotted Gold” as a mischievous night out or miscalculated reckless relationship but the lyrics: “Spotted gold turned black and blue” reveal that perhaps Chura’s sand-in-the-eyes, hand-on-the-stove universe is less of a lark than it is a tale of emotional masochism and that when a good thing goes bad, well, maybe we are more in control than we think.

No, your toaster doesn’t need a bath. Keep tinfoil out of your microwave and check out Stef Chura’s series of unfortunate events in “Spotted Gold” below:

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Although The Old Adage and their synth heavy, diy-pop sound is far from old news, we’re just now getting around to showing brother and sister duo Mimi and Nino Chavez’s some TLC.  Formed back in 2012, The Old Adage has been trudging along as an independent duo (enduring a name change, a band line-up change and change back) releasing their sophomore album Cycles last year.

Confusing and cheeky, the track “RED” is a bit theatrically challenged and misses some attention to detail (I really wish someone would have ironed the table cloth) but in a way that is chalk full of charm and allure. Opening with what feels like a nod to Alice and Wonderland, the color red is brought to the forefront and we are introduced to Mimi, who takes on the role of distressed woodland witch, and Nino, who seems to have lost his car in a parking garage.

The labyrinthian cat and mouse chase between the two matches the urgency emoted by the songs tempo but throws too much at us to really grasp what’s going on.  There are blips of stunning imagery and thoughtful lighting (i.e. Mimi in a studio setting backlit by a smokey red light and Nino’s overhead shot running through the stairwell) but most of the time it seems like an unintentional homage to Tommy Wisseau’s famed disaster movie The Room.

It may be a matter of difference in taste and aesthetic, but I can say that what The Old Adage has done is far from disingenuous. If anything, the kitsch factor (whether intentional or not) is the video’s very saving grace (which is just as confusing of a point as the video is a video). The song is danceable yet brooding enough to warrant a high-energy mysterious video counterpart.

My only wish is that they would have found a way to refine their vision and ditch the tangled story-line to pack a harder punch and to drag the darkness into the spotlight a bit more effectively.

Get caught in the rat race/brother sister chase below:

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VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Car Seat Headrest “Vincent”


The video description for Car Seat Headrest‘s “Vincent” is simply: “Will plays the guitar while a guy has a bad time.” That’s about as concise as anyone could get, but the song is layered with a lot more meaning, imagery and emotion. It looks like Will Toledo, the creator and frontman of Car Seat Headrest, has given detailed explanations of the song’s lyrics online, but in the context of the official video, the words tell a story about how and why one drink can turn into way too many.

Scenes switch between a house party where Toledo performs and the apartment of “Vincent”‘s main character, a guy who looks like he’s been working in an office all day. It’s not clear if the party is something he’s trying to relive, or just in his own head. As the song begins with long, deliberate strums of distorted guitar, he pours himself a drink in his empty house. He looks sad when he’s sober, and Toledo repeats, “Half the time, I want to go home.” Then the booze kicks in, and so does the music: There’s the long, drawn-out static of guitar feedback, restless drums, and the sadly serious vocals of Toledo immersed in it all. Horns swirl around his voice when he chants, “It must be hard to speak in a foreign language/Intoxicado, intoxicado.” The band knows how to pull back and surge ahead at the right moments, and does so frequently, never settling until “Vincent” is over. It’s chaotic and messy, and embodies the video’s character as he loses restraint and gets completely wasted. At one point he unpacks a suitcase that’s filled only with liquor, a clear metaphor about replacing emotional baggage with booze.

Though the video is pretty dark, there are moments of subtle humor, like when the main character drunkenly cuddles a cat or when Toledo refers to playing a guitar as “holding a noise machine.” The video ends with the guy stripping down to his underwear and staggering to Toledo’s microphone as the crowd looks on, disgusted. If this last scene accompanied a different song, it might have comedic potential. But, instead of relieving the tension by making it a laughable moment, “Vincent” reaches for something that’s uncomfortable, but better.

Drink responsibly, kids.

INTERVIEW: Meet the Founders of The Gateway

Just a few years ago, if you talked about the Brooklyn DIY scene, you’d likely focus on a stretch of Kent Avenue in Williamsburg. There was the tiny but true-to-its name Death By Audio, the more spacious and artsy Glasslands, and of course, 285 Kent. But now that the waterfront street has succumbed to Vice offices, condos and rising rents, musicians, along with their venues and fans have moved East. More specifically, to Broadway in Bushwick. There’s Palisades and Silent Barn near the Myrtle/Broadway stop, and a few stations away on the J train, a brand new venue: The Gateway. 

The trio behind the venue are Ned Shatzer, Nelson Espinal, and Robert Granata, who spent the month of September renovating and painting the space before its October 1st opening. A few weeks later, I got to take a look. Having heard and seen nothing about The Gateway, I showed up to the venue expecting to be led into some kind of dark basement, but that wasn’t the case. Before the three musicians transformed it, The Gateway was a fully-functioning nightclub called St Lucian Paradise. And while it does have a (huge) basement, it’s receiving some finishing touches, so the upstairs is the main attraction: dimly-lit, with most of the light coming from a beautiful stained glass panel above the bar (it and some leaf-like spirals are meant to be reminiscent of the Italian horror movie, Suspiria, according to Ned).  Above the register hangs a single red, high-heeled boot that they found inside of a podium downstairs, and a sword that Nelson’s brother donated. You can see why after playing there, Pepto, the vocalist/drummer of the local band Psychic Selves, described it as like a “Chinatown karaoke bar, but with a real welcoming vibe.”

On October 15th, the Philadelphia psych band Creepoid headlined at the venue, now filled with listeners and smoke from a fog machine. Even though the show took place during the CMJ festival, a time when music fans were scattered all over the city, there was a sizable audience. Even better, everyone was close to the stage, listening attentively. The shape and size of the room seems to naturally force focus on the stage – as Pepto says, “The second floor is tight enough for the audience to be engaged with the band.”

And since it’s run by musicians- Nelson plays in the local band Stuyedeyed, and Rob in The Makeout Club – the venue focuses on what matters to music lovers: not just looking good, but sounding good and giving all bands an opportunity. “He loves music and wants other bands to play and be given a chance to be heard,” Pepto said about Nelson, who currently books for the venue. “That’s what it’s all about.”

How did it all begin, exactly? Check out a Q&A with the trio below. 

the gateway1

AudioFemme:How did you begin booking shows?

Ned: I said, “Nelson, I want you to book Thursdays.” And within like two hours he had all of October booked for Thursdays. So I said, fuck man, why don’t you just go ahead and get moving on this and anyone else can go through you. So, within 48 hours he had 17 shows booked.”

Nelson: I’m in a band, I’ve played a whole bunch of shows, and it’s just a community you become a part of. “Hey man, you wanna play a show? I’m booking at a venue now.”

Do you consider The Gateway a DIY venue?

Rob: We built all this, this was four guys. We did it all ourselves, it’s very much the definition of that. But we’re focusing on giving the illusion that it’s not DIY, that it’s bigger than life. Like, you can escape and get out of here. We put a lot of thought and time into it, so it has a cool feel. We put a lot of time into the sound, too, because we want the bands to sound good, and be happy with the sound. DIY spaces do that too, but we really focused on it hard here.

Nelson: All the bands I’m booking, we all come from playing house shows. A lot of the kids that play here, they’re like, “We just played a basement last week!” Well, we wanna bring you out of the basement and put you on a nice stage. We want to be that hand, that brings you into a bigger playing field.

Rob: I feel like this place has a little of what Glasslands had, where you can have smaller bands and also mid-level bands play. A lot of venues, it’s just mainly mid-level bands. We’ll try to get some bigger bands in here, too, and give an opportunity for local bands to open – that’s your goal as a band anyways, to open up for bigger bands.

Nelson: I think for us this place, is kind of the best things about all of the places we’ve played at. The things that we like, and the place that we’ve always wanted to play. My band played the opening night, and I walked off stage and was I like, this is what I’ve always wanted to do.

How did you find the space?

Ned: I was looking at this area for a long time actually, and I had a spot across the street that I was going to take. That fell through because they didn’t want to build another fire escape. The realtor that I was speaking to and I kept in contact – he’s from St. Lucia as well, like the owner of this building – as soon as it came up he called me first because he knew I was looking for a spot. And this just happened to be what we wanted, but a lot more stuff. But this place just happens to have the right zoning, all of the stuff you need to have a venue. We can be loud here. As soon as he told me about it I was like, we can’t not do this. I don’t know how we’re gonna do it, though… (laughs). And the first people I called up were these two guys.

What kind of changes are in The Gateway’s future?

Rob: We want to be able to do seven days a week. When we open the downstairs, you’ll be able to come in, have a beer, and hang out when there’s no shows. There’ll be something going on every night. We just want people to come and have fun too. Not feel like they’re at a club, or at a bar, or anything. Get lost and wander around. Up here will have a crazy French disco tech vibe, and downstairs will be totally different so you’re not stuck in one environment all night. We’re going to get a pool table too, probably. We’re kind of just building as we go… it’s kind of like a massive space.

Nelson: We’re all kind of crazy, so we have all these crazy ideas.

To stay updated with The Gateway’s eclectic events, including a Bernie Sanders benefit on December 10th, follow them here.

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Creepoid at The Gateway, 10/15/15
Creepoid at The Gateway, 10/15/15

INTERVIEW: Buke and Gase

Buke_Jon Wang

When Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez met in 2000, Sanchez had already been building instruments for years. For him, constructing the instrument came part and parcel with creating sound. When he speaks about creating his gase–a guitar-bass hybrid, and the namesake of one-half the duo Buke and Gase–there’s no sense of novelty to his tone; he makes instruments to suit the sound he wants. Arone Dyer, perhaps even more straightforwardly, made her first baritone ukelele (the buke) as a way around her carpel tunnel syndrome. Their philosophy is no-nonsense, the resulting sound otherworldly. The Brooklyn-born two-piece, more recently of Hudson, NY, uses every limb at its disposal: Dyer and Sanchez dreamt up their own breed of kick drums and something called a toebourine to accompany their primary instruments, in the name of making a heavy, cataclysmic sound filled with contradictions of darkness and delicacy, percussive rhythm and cacophony.

When I called Buke and Gase last week, they were on the road, in the latter leg of a short tour. Dyer answered the phone, her voice pleasant and frank, breaking periodically into little bursts of laughter. In Buke and Gase’s swampier songs, this voice works like a foil to the distorted instrumental lines. It rises above the chaos, clear and soaring, a homegrown instrument in itself.


AudioFemme: So, you guys are on tour. Where are you right now? How’s it been so far?

Arone Dyer: We’re on our way to Chicago from Detroit. It’s been great! We started in Boston and went to Montreal and Toronto and Detroit last night. It was a pretty short tour.

AF: Both of you live in Hudson right now. Do you find there’s a difference between being a musician in Brooklyn and being a musician in upstate New York?

AD: Um, no? Yes? There’s a lot less anonymity in Hudson. You move into town and you meet everyone. It’s a very small town. Everybody knows what we do, and we know what everybody does. In Brooklyn, you tend to like, have your scene, which is the group of people you spend the most of your time with. That kind of limits your friendship base to the size of a small town. Which is pretty much what we’ve got in Hudson. In Brooklyn, or New York, or any larger city, there’s also the influx of other people who are curious or who you wouldn’t otherwise see on a regular basis.

AF: I actually used to live in that area. I know that Kris Perry (a local artist who builds sculptures that operate as musical instruments) lives around there, too. Have you ever played with him? Do you think there are some elements in his work that resemble what you do?

AD: Oh yeah, totally [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][we’ve interacted.] His musical instruments are mainly sculpture that makes sound. That’s what’s really interesting about his work. Our work is not necessarily sculptural, it’s more that we make the instruments to perform the sound that we specifically want to get. Form follows function with us, whereas for him it’s the form that comes first, I think. Although he integrates it, too.

AF: Can you tell me a little bit about your songwriting process?

AD: Sure. Basically, all of our songwriting comes out of the two of us in a room together. We don’t bring anything to the table necessarily from our own personal stash, our own ideas. It’s very rare that that happens. Usually Aron and I get into a room and we sit and improvise for hours on end. We record it all and then we go back through and listen to it, just kind of sift through the whole improv, and pick out stuff that catches our ear, or that we hear some kind of potential in, and we work with that. We’ve tried taking parts and contriving them into full songs, or taking several parts from different improvisations and putting them together, or just taking an entire improv as it is and learning that. So there’s lots of different ways and it all comes out pretty organically and differently each time.

AF: And it’s a totally collaborative process at this point?

AD: Oh yeah, totally. A completely fused collaboration.

AF: How did the two of you meet? Were you involved with other projects at the time?

AD: A long time ago, in 2000. I was roommates with one of his friends. We were both musicians, but I don’t know if we were doing anything specifically at that time. We started playing music together pretty much right away.

AF: Aron, you were already building instruments at that time, right? What got you started making your own instruments?

Aaron Sanchez: When I was really, really young, it was part of the process of me learning to be a musician. I just got really into taking things apart and putting them back together. It was just natural for me to get into it like that.

AF: Did anyone teach you how to build instruments? Did you take formal music training?

AS: No, I was self-taught. It was mostly like, “Oh, I want this instrument–I’ll make it!” That kind of attitude. I studied classical piano for about nine years, and I taught myself guitar, and maybe some drums. I started playing bass. I became more of a bass player for a long time. I took some lessons here and there, but primarily I’m self-taught.

AF: Who writes your lyrics?

Arone Dyer: I do. Or it’s mostly me, probably about 90%. But we talk about them.

AF: Do they usually come after you’ve written the music?

AD: It totally depends. It’s different every time. Sometimes it’s straight from improvisation, where I’m mumbling or saying something weird and I’ll try to phonetically translate that and it becomes the base of whatever story it is. Sometimes lyrics come from a dream diary. I keep track of my dreams.

AF: That totally makes sense. Your lyrics always seem to me to be kind of surreal and dark. Do you prefer to write lyrics that don’t have an immediate, explicit meaning?

AD: (laughs) I mean, I’m human. I like to have things make sense. I look for patterns, that’s what humans do. So generally that’s what I go towards, but there are many times when it just doesn’t happen.

AF: Do you intentionally write dark lyrics?

AD: Dark, no, it’s not always intentional. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s born out of the feeling of the music, too, because our music kind of heavy. Or sometimes it’s not–the contradiction of having lyrics that are dark and a sound that’s very light, I think both of us find that contradiction really interesting. So lots of times the [music and lyrics] end up being contradictory or…dissonant. Or maybe I’m just a dark person. I can’t tell.

AF: On your albums–for example, on General Dome–do you have a vision for the songs before you begin to write or record them?

AD: No. Not at all. We never have a plan. Like I said–we get into a room and we improvise. What comes out of that is where we are.

AF: Interesting. Do you make new instruments specifically for certain songs, certain recording sessions?

AD: No. I mean, Aron tends to make a new instrument every three months or so. Or twice a year? Well, he’s made something like thirteen different gases, and sometimes they have the same neck but a different body, or a different neck but the same body, of they’re entirely new. He’s constantly developing a sound.

AF: Do you come across people who want to play a buke or a gase? Do they ask you for lessons?

AD: Totally. Tons of people.

AF: Do you make instruments to sell, or would you consider doing so in the future?

AD: No, we don’t sell instruments. [As for the future,] it depends. I think Aron would say the same thing.

AF: Has there ever been an instrument that ended up making a sound completely different than the sound you had thought it would make?

AD: No, I mean, we’re not just building blindly. The instruments I’ve built, or created, were for a specific thing. In the past I’ve built an instrument that I wasn’t sure how it would sound, but I basically made a tenor bass. I’ve been thinking lately about doing something different for my instrument, though. I’m kind of ready to move on to something else. Maybe in the future, I’ll come out with something where I won’t know how it’s going to end up.


Buke and Gase will keep their live act on the road in the coming months, and are slotted to appear in Ireland in December! Check out the elaborate and fragmented video for “General Dome,” off the  2013 album of the same name, below:


TRACK REVIEW DOUBLE FEATURE: New Singles from Ty Segall’s Label

Ty Segall God? Records

Ty Segall‘s GOD? Records imprint, on Drag City, is only a little over a year old, but Segall has chased a visceral, DIY aesthetic since the imprint’s very first release. To that end, Segall is bringing out two new 7″s from noise rockers Running and the tech-heavy, growling metal outfit Zath. Stylistically, the two groups have chaos in common–whether zany or doomed, Zath and Running test the limits of listenability with heavy distortion and production thick enough to wade through.

“Totally Fired,” the B side to Running’s Frizzled, opens with a slew of reeling guitar riffs, reveling in the sheer pleasure of making a whole lot of noise. The rest of the track is half blissed out with punk rock naiveté, half sci-fi and surreal. Even though the song’s backdrop tells an old story–a dingy basement show and a sea of moshing blue mohawks, beer cans crushed underfoot–there’s a drone to the guitar work  that occasionally cuts into the forefront with a sound like a space laser.

Zath’s “Black Goat Razor” is more old school, but not a whit less freaky. This is technical, guitar-led, metal, beefed up by growling vocals that seek to dominate–sometimes literally. “Do what you’re told,” the most audible line hisses, the words backed by a rapid and gunshot-crisp drum line. There isn’t anything particularly innovative about this single, but that doesn’t bother me a bit. Remember how Behemoth released The Satanist early this year and even though it didn’t really break new ground for the band, it still ruled so hard your ears started bleeding halfway through? Exactly. Sometimes heavy metal just needs to be heavy. “Black Goat Razor” will land on you with such force that you’ll feel oppressed, in all the right ways.

You can check out both new tracks in the Soundcloud links below. Go here to purchase Frizzled, and here for Black Goat Razor.