Tomorrow marks the first day of autumn. You might not believe it given these muggy 80-degree days, but Fall is upon us nevertheless. Fall is the best for multiple reasons, including turtlenecks, Halloween, and mock-necks; but it is also a time when things die. Leaves. Bar backyards. Your summer tan. All gone. Looking back on this time last year, I was writing about the death (or at least prolonged hibernation) of CMJ. Now I could add the Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and potentially The Deli Magazine to that obituary. Sure, the Voice is only going out of print, Rolling Stone is only up for sale, and The Deli Magazine is only half the size it used to be – maybe “death” is too harsh a word – but that’s what it feels like.
Today I happened upon one of those familiar red boxes and snatched up the last copy of The Village Voice I will ever hold. The cover was nearly text free, save for the paper’s logo and the words “Final Edition” in tiny print at the top. A black and white photo of Bob Dylan giving a salute filled the page. It is a somber image, and almost made my knees buckle on West Broadway. I could only think: “what next?”
And then, in rare moment of attempted optimism, I asked myself again: “yes, what next?” This time, instead of asking with dread, I asked it with the expectation of wonderful things. New York may be missing some iconic music venues, festivals, and print publications, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a wealth of great music coming our way regardless. So rather than mourn the lost, let’s look forward to the season’s best musical happenings, shall we? We shall. Here are the Fall 2017 record releases I am most looking forward to.
The difficult-to-define, experimental Canadians Godspeed You! Black Emperor will drop their sixth LP tomorrow – the much anticipated Luciferian Towers. Fortunately we don’t have to wait another second to check it out, as the group shared the album in full with NPR last week. In keeping with GY!BE fashion, this record is dense, sprawling, and frenetic. Now we can only hope the band will accompany its release with a US tour sometime soon!
Next week, Detroit post-punks Protomartyr will release Relatives In Descent – their debut LP for Domino Records. After seeing Protomartyr play a dynamite set at Basilica Soundscape last weekend, I’m especially thrilled for this new album, which according to the band’s Greg Ahee, was inspired by Mica Levi and the Raincoats’ Odyshape. Relatives In Descent was co-produced and recorded with Sonny DiPerri, who has worked with the likes of Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective. What’s not to love?
Mercury Prize winner Benjamin Clementine is one of the more fascinating characters in contemporary music. While his debut album 2015’s At Least For Now was a sweeping affair between neo-classical and Nina Simone, I Tell A Fly promises theatrics and a bit of the political. The record’s leading single, “Phantom Of Aleppoville” is an album all its own, volleying from marching snares to parlor piano and soul harmonies. It’s a tour de force, and I imagine the whole LP will be nothing short of the same. Don’t miss Clementine when he plays Carnegie Hall on October 5th.
Two very different records drop on October sixth, one being the long-awaited full-length debut from R&B artist Kelela. Take Me Apart (Warp Records) is the follow-up to Kelela’s 2014 EP Hallucinogen and her 2013 mixtape Cut 4 Me. According to the artist, the album is a blend of personal themes, politics, and genre. “Despite it being a personal record,” Kelela stated in a press release, “the politics of my identity informs how it sounds and how I choose to articulate my vulnerability and strength. I am a black woman, a second-generation Ethiopian-American, who grew up in the ‘burbs listening to R&B, Jazz and Björk. All of it comes out in one way or another.” Catch Kelela November 12th and 13th at Bowery Ballroom.
On the other end of things, Antichrist Superstar Marilyn Manson is back with his first new track in two years. The garage-pop cut “KILL4ME” is Manson’s leading single off his forthcoming record Heaven Upside Down, and it’s far more catchy than disturbing. Perhaps all of Manson’s interactions with Justin Bieber have affected his sound? Manson will perform at the Hammerstein Ballroom on September 30th and The Paramount on October 3rd.
Mid-October treats include the debut duet Lotta Sea Lice from Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, who make such a natural pair it’s amazing they didn’t cut a record together years ago. The record’s first single “Over Everything” is an expert blend of deadpan romanticism and tangy guitar riffs – elements both artists know their way around quite well. Kurt and Courtney (no, not that Kurt and Courtney!) will play The Beacon Theater on November 1st.
Archy Marshall is set to release his sophomore LP as King Krule. The Ooz is already garnering a lot of excitement from the music community, and if the entire record is half as good as its first single “Dum Surfer,” all the hype will be justified. For those of you who’ve yet to see King Krule live, he’ll be headlining Greenpoint’s Warsaw on October 24th and 25th. Get there early and eat some pierogies while you’re at it!
The first two singles from Destroyer’s forthcoming LP Ken sound completely different from one another. But then again, that’s the Destroyer sound: constantly morphing. Check out the frenetic and haunting “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood,” and keep an eye open for Destroyer’s 2018 US tour.
Right in time for Halloween, Sacred Bones Records will release John Carpenter’s Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998. This collection of Carpenter’s film scores (that’s right, he directed the flicks and composed the music to cult classics like Escape From New York and Halloween) will be limited to 500 hand-numbered vinyl LPs, pressed on “Anti-God Green” wax, of course. Get your copy quick, and don’t miss Carpenter’s Terminal 5 set on November 16th.
If that list of killer music-to-come doesn’t dissolve your Autumn blues, then I don’t know what will. Perhaps this list of incredible Fall concerts, happening right here in NYC:
Another year of South by Southwest has come and gone. It was a landmark year for us at AudioFemme, as we hosted our first ever SXSW showcases. It was certainly a learning experience, to say the least. Just as we have in years past, we met a wide array of musicians, promoters, industry folks, and music fans from around the world, an experience as enriching as ever. But networking and seeing as many bands as one can in five days aren’t the only things that go into the SXSW experience. At its heart is one weird little city redefining the festival experience. Here’s a rundown of our best moments from Austin, TX.
Most Memorable Performances:
The sun doesn’t shine in the UK the way it does in Austin, and the visible sunburn on these three lads made me feel an empathetic sting. I caught the post-punk trio at El Sapo, a newly-opened hamburguesa joint on Manor Road, hosting showcases curated by Austin local radio station Music For Listeners. The showcase included performances from Dublin-based noise pop quartet September Girls, Manchester rockers Pins, and Mississippi psych-pop outfit Dead Gaze, all of whom were arresting. But there was something especially captivating about the sparks flying during Traams’ frenzied performance, with frontman Stu channeling Alec Ounsworth’s frantic wail. The boys worked up a real sweat blasting everyone with pummeling pop.
The Baltimore synth punk outfit has long had a reputation as a hardworking and talented live band who’ve released some great albums over the last seven years. Singles is out March 25th on 4AD and the band took to SXSW for their first time ever to showcase the material, resulting in heaps of long-deserved attention. I caught their triumphant final performance of eight at Impose’s free Longbranch Inn party, and the vibes were stellar. Lead singer Samuel T. Herring was absolutely brimming with joy, repeatedly stating how good the energy in the room felt, promising to belt it out until his vocal chords gave up. The crowd loved him back, bouncing up and down to some stellar new songs, pumping fists, crowd surfing, and begging for another jam before the bar closed for the night. Future Islands obliged with a hushed version of “Little Dreamer” from 2008’s Wave Like Home.
When we previewed “Wire Frame Mattress” we knew that the UK band were not be missed, and the boys did not disappoint. Blending surf, sludge, and rockabilly elements with a healthy dose of reverb, The Wytches embodied worst-case-scenario teenage angst like we haven’t seen since watching The Craft at sleepovers.
Jon Dwyer reunited his early aughts garage rock group and it felt so good. Eschewing stages as often as possible, Dwyer & Co. preferred to set up shop in the Austin dust and totally wreck it. I saw them once at the Castle Face Records showcase (that’s Dwyer’s label, which is set to re-release Coachwhips debut Hands on the Controls this month) and again on Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge, after which Dwyer set off fireworks during Tony Molina’s set. Dwyer sings into a mic that looks more like a wad of tape, resulting in a scratchy, unintelligible, yet somehow glorious garble, the short songs every bit as good as those from Thee Oh Sees catalogue but faster, looser, and somehow more primal.
Another Baltimore act that’s been around for years, steadily releasing unnoticed but beautiful records, Wye Oak’s folk-inflected synth pop impressed many a South by audience. Andy Stack did double duty on drums and keys, using one hand to play each simultaneously. Just think about that for a minute. Try to mime those motions. It’s a good deal harder than rubbing your belly while patting your head, but Stack never missed a beat. Add to that Jenn Wasner’s honeyed voice, and space rock guitar riffs, and you’ve got a template for the galactic anthems of Shriek, the duo’s fourth studio album. It comes out April 29th on Merge.
Our inaugural SXSW showcase was a success! There’s no way we could thank everyone involved, but extra special thanks go out to eight bands who came from all over the world to play breathtaking sets for us and for our fans:
Worst Venue to Throw a Showcase: Upstairs on Trinity
It’s not actual a venue, it’s a wine bar. After reading the fine print on a very misleading contract, we learned that we’d have to rent an entire soundsystem to even have a show. We had to hire our own sound guy too. Even after pulling off both these feats (no easy task considering our out-of-town status), we weren’t allowed to set up until after 7pm, pushing our showcase back an hour. There weren’t even extension cords at the “venue” so I had to haul ass down 6th to a CVS to purchase whatever they had in stock. When psych rockers Electric Eye finally took the stage, their unravelling guitars definitely eased my frayed nerves.
Followed by Cheerleader’s uplifting pop punk, I was starting to feel a little better – until technical difficulties resurfaced. Live, learn and shrug it all off with some whiskey, that’s what I always say.
By the time we worked out our sound issues and Samsaya hit the area where a stage might have been in an actual club, I was admittedly wasted, but not enough that I failed to notice how inventive her acoustic set was, featuring musicians from all over the world, and how everyone in attendance – including the bartenders – responded to it. Leverage Models followed her lead, encouraging some seriously rowdy dancing with their artful antics, only helped by the (still) flowing libations. I didn’t get any decent pictures of the dance party because of the shitty lighting but also because, you know… libations. It all ended with me crying alongside I35, unable to get a cab, unidentified cables draped around my neck like someone’s pet python, ’til a random Austinite took pity on us and gave us a lift back to The Enterprise where I passed out in bed still wearing a leather jacket. We go to pick up our equipment the next day and the venue attempted to overcharge us for an event they had no business booking in the first place and hijacked our rented equipment as collateral while we disputed the bill. The process of getting it back took up a significant chunk of the rest of the week. All in all, it presents a gross example of the worst of SXSW profiteering. But wonderful performances from the bands who played the showcase are what saved the day, so big thanks to them!
Best Random Austin Moment: Salute!
Embattled with the venue from Hell, I was feeling a bit depressed – in part because the show hadn’t gone as planned, we’d inconvenienced Austin friends kind enough to give us rides while juggling insane work schedules, but also because I was missing out on a lot of bands I wanted to check out while going through the whole retracted process. I smoked some weed a bartender had given me the night before, ate a veggie burrito from Chillitos, and stumbled into The Vortex, a theater/bar in a barn hosting a party that featured Italian bands and a Patrizi’s food truck. I sat in the sun and took in the sounds of Omosumo, an electronic outfit that could be the lovechild of Led Zeppelin & Daft Punk sent away to boarding school in Palermo.
Runner Up: When Red 7 played The Hold Steady on the soundsystem right before The Hold Steady played
Queerest Showcase: Y’all or Nothing, Presented by Mouthfeel & Young Creature
Listed as a showcase for “not-so-straight shooters” the bill at Cheer-Up Charlies on Saturday night was stacked beginning-to-end with impressive performers, thoughtfully culled from queer scenes in Austin and beyond. There was a palpable feeling of community and camaraderie in the air and the evening was all about fun. Gretchen Phillips’ Disco Plague opened the night on the outdoor stage, situated in a white-stone grotto that forms the venue’s patio. Her improv dance-punk got the entire crowd going. Meanwhile, performance art duo Hyenaz brought glammed up electro to the inside stage, and it only got crazier from there. Austinites Mom Jeans‘ quirky pop punk had me beaming; they dedicated songs to John Waters, weed, and Satan. Leda introduced her band Crooked Bangs with the declaration “I’m a woman, and I don’t know what that means” before proceeding to mesmerize everyone watching with bass playing so nimble I still can’t get over it. BLXPLTN’s industrial punk-meets-hip-hop vibe is every bit as brutal as Death Grips, their lead single “Stop & Frisk” lambasting the racist practice. Big Dipper rapped. Ex Hex rocked. We deeply regret missing performances by TacocaT and Christeene and Sharon Needles due to some ongoing drama that needed taking care of. But we wish we could’ve stayed forever.
Not because I’m a stalker, just because they got to play early slots on some really rad bills. They were on point every time. Hopefully this means a lot more attention for the Philly-based trio in the upcoming year.
Best SXSW Tradition: Bridge Parties!
Night one I saw Perfect Pussy throw a bass into the Colorado while Meredith Graves wore a sparkly ball gown, followed by bang-up performances by Nothing and Ex-Cult.
Night two was the aforementioned fireworks display courtesy of John Dwyer while Tony Molina played. The cops don’t seem to care and I want to be friends with everyone on that bridge forever.
Best Venue for Charging Phones: Cheer Up Charlie’s
Newly inhabiting the former Club DeVille compound as Wonderland has taken over its old East Side location, this is a haven for anyone with a near-dead battery, though Hotel Vegas was a close second. Both had multiple outlets that were conveniently accessible (rather than behind a bar that forced you to bug your bartender every time you wanted to Instagram something), often times in full view of a stage where bands were playing so you didn’t have to miss the fun.
Worst Venue for Charging Phones: Red 7
Home of Brooklyn Vegan’s day parties, not only was capacity over-policed after Tyler, the Creator incited a riot at Scoot Inn, but Red 7 has a peculiar sparseness that makes finding outlets nearly impossible. And you couldn’t just hand your phone over to the bartender without paying a $5 charging fee. A particularly hostile sign on the sound booth discouraged the uncharged masses from inquiring therein. Now, I know you don’t have to be able to snap a selfie at a show to have a good time. I was content to simply watch these lovely performances with documenting them. But ranting and raving about newly discovered bands enriches that fun and hopefully generates some buzz for the artist, which is kind of the whole point of SXSW. And communicating with friends still waiting in lines outside is pretty paramount, so cell phones at shows count as a necessary evil and everyone kind of has to get used to it.
Best-Kept Secret: Chain-Drive
This little-gay-bar-that-could is hunkered on a quiet street off the main drag of Rainey District. Met Christeene and Gretchen Phillips and Big Dipper on Tuesday, but the venue hosted out-of-control, unique line-ups every night.
Most Inflated Price: $6.99 Non-Bank ATM fee at 7th & Red River.
As in, $2 more than non-badgeholder admission to a show steps away at Beerland, where I caught Connections before heading to Hotel Vegas for Forest Swords.
Number of Chase ATMS in the immediate downtown area: 2
That were able to dispense cash: 0
Best Food: Gonzo
Every year I have to stop by Gonzo’s food truck at the East Side Fillin’ Station for a “Pig Roast” – sweet pulled pork topped with provolone, tangy carrot slaw, and spicy brown mustard on Texas toast. As I ate my annual sammie I literally found myself thinking about how ingenious Texans were for inventing really thick white bread grilled with butter on it. Austin’s first-ever In-N-Out location was a close second, because a Double Double Animal Style really is a life-changer.
Best Metal Band We Stayed With But Didn’t See Live: Christian Mistress of Portland
They were all very nice but their hair made us jealous.
Best Movie We Saw While Charging Phones/Re-Charging Selves At Jackalope: Daughters of Darkness
Best Austinites: It’s a tie!
Jenn from Guitar Center rented us four monitors, two speakers with stands, six fifty foot cables, a sixteen channel mixer, two DI boxes, and two mics with stands within a days notice, and didn’t change us extra when a snafu with the shittiest venue in Austin forced us to keep it longer than we’d planned. In general she was super understanding, knowledgable, professional, and friendly.
Chris English of Haunted ATX gave us a lift whenever we needed it in a hearse tricked out into a six-seat limo. We flagged him down out of a cab line a mile long trying to get from the downtown Hilton to the South Lama for Ground Control’s famed Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge punk party. The TV in the back was playing Dune. The next night, after another bridge party was announced, we texted him for another ride and he showed within fifteen minutes, giving us the same deal. Then he came in with an assist in The Great Equipment Rescue of SX2014 when none of our friends were able to help us schlep our equipment from venue to where we were staying, and he gave us a mini-tour of an Austin cemetery because that’s what he normally uses the limo for – haunted tours of Austin.
Best Non-Austinite: Giselle from Vancouver
…who came to our Tuesday showcase. Bowled over by our line-up, she proclaimed it was one of the best at SXSW and couldn’t understand why anyone would “wait so long to see Jay-Z ” when they could have been partying with us. Giselle is a little older, probably in her 40’s or maybe early 50’s. Having recently entered my thirties, I’ve often wondered if I was too old to be so invested in such a youth-centric industry. Giselle gives zero fucks about that. She isn’t even in the industry; she told me she “just likes to go to shows”. She makes trips to Austin each year (as well as to New York for CMJ), travels for other events and festivals and attends shows at home, where she uses her iPhone to snap pics of up-and-coming bands she started finding “when the internet came around and made it easier to discover bands”. It might be that Giselle is actually myself from the future, sent to the showcase to give me the hope and reassurance I need to keep going. If that’s so, I’m here to tell you that based on her outfit, normcore will be bigger than ever in fifteen years.
Best Almost-Brushes With Celebrity:
I was invited to go to Willie Nelson’s ranch and was hoping to hang with the country legend, but thanks to the showcase debacle didn’t make the limo. Annie almost interviewed Debbie Harry of Blondie but the Queen of New Wave rescheduled and switched to over-the phone.
Number of Wrist-bands Accrued: Only one.
A friend said to me, “That’s kinda sad and kinda really amazing.” But between putting on our own showcases and going to everyone else’s, I didn’t have time to wait around in lines for wristbands, then wait for lines to get into a venue, then wait for lines to get to the patio of the venue where bands were actually performing. And in what little time I did have, I chose to attend smaller events that lacked the corporate sponsorship necessitating said lines and said wristbands. So someone else was the one to Instagram Lady Gaga getting puked on; meanwhile I got to see shows unobstructed by big-box advertising that felt way, way more personal and memorable. For instance: I closed out SXSW at The Owl, a DIY space on the East Side with Eagulls, Tyvek, and Parquet Courts headlining.
Number of Messages on Thursday morning asking if I was safe:
Lots & lots; truly felt loved. Our hearts go out to those that didn’t get a message back.
An Alphabetical List of Bands I Saw:
Amanda X, BLXPLTN, Big Dipper, Big Ups, Bo Ningen, The Casket Girls, Cheerleader, Coachwhips, Connections, Crooked Bangs, Dead Gaze, Eagulls, Electric Eye, Empires, Ex-Cult, Ex Hex, Far-Out Fangtooth, Fenster, Forest Swords, Future Islands, Gretchen’s Disco Plague, Guerilla Toss, Habibi, HighasaKite, The Hold Steady, Hundred Waters, Hyenaz, Jess Williamson, Juan Wauters, Kishi Bashi, Leverage Models, Mom Jeans, Nothing, Parquet Courts, Perfect Pussy, Pins, Potty Mouth, Residuels, Samsaya, September Girls, SOLDOUT, STRNGR, Tony Molina, Traams, Tyvek, Vadaat Charigim, Warm Soda, Weeknight, Wild Moccasins, Wildcat Apollo, Wye Oak, The Wytches, Young Magic[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
Electric Eye‘s debut collection Pick-up, Lift-off, Space, Time came out last spring, but three of the group’s four members have been playing together for a decade and a half, since they were in high school in a small city on the west coast of Norway. Even then, guitarist and vocalist Øystein Braut (also of The Alexandria Quartet) loved the grooves and repetitions of psychedelic drone music. In 2012, the band of four–each already established in the Norwegian music scene–officially solidified into Electric Eye and began working on their self-produced first LP.
The record spans a broad range of influences, channeling a groovy, plodding twelve-bar blues on one track and shimmering over Indian seven-note scales on the next. Each song takes its time to develop, growing into a multi-textured soundscape with layers of distortion, synth and long jams that could be a soundtrack to a movie, or a trip into outer space. Though Electric Eye embraces the expansive power of repetition, each instrumental line develops its own set of twists and turns, recalling the psychedelic sounds of seventies drone rock while also rolling a catchy array of pop hooks and bluesy rhythms into the mix.
In between a Portugal tour, Oslo Psych Fest, and coming to Austin to play SXSW this March, Øystein Braut was kind enough to chat with Audiofemme about drone grooves, the psych scene in Norway, and the influences that contributed to Pick-up, Lift-off, Space, Time.
AF: You’ve toured a lot in the past few months, including a trip to Portugal. How have your travels been?
ØB: I’d never been to Portugal before, so that was really cool. It was in the late fall and the weather was getting cold in Norway, so it was nice to head down there and enjoy the nicer weather for a while. We played seven shows, I think. The crowd was amazing. Most of the shows we played by ourselves, without any other band. We had some local support in a few places, but basically we did our own tour.
AF: You also came back to Norway to play Oslo Psych Fest.
ØB: I’m involved in setting up that festival as well–just trying to build a psych scene in Norway. We’re taking the model from the Austin Psych Fest, which I went to last year. [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”][Oslo Psych Fest] was a great weekend, and hopefully it will become bigger in the future. We played with ten other bands. We had Wolf People and The Rolydrug Couple, from Chile, and Disappears played just after us.
AF: What’s the psych scene like in Norway? Is it getting big?
ØB: I mean, Norway is a pretty small country, so everything is relatively small here. For the festival we had maybe two hundred people each day. That’s why we keep trying to get abroad as much as we can. Norway only has about five million people, so we have two or three cities that we call major cities, which are small cities by US standards I guess. It’s easier to go to the UK or Germany or the rest of Scandinavia, maybe the US.
AF: How did Electric Eye come together?
ØB: All of us except the drummer went to high school together in a small city called Haugesund on the west coast of Norway. We started playing together about fifteen years ago, and just kept playing over the years. Two years ago, we all started working on this project, which felt very natural since we’d been playing together all this time. With a new name and new songs, we had a new band. We started in 2012 with some gigs, and then we recorded an album. It’s gone really well so far.
AF: The four of you have played not only in different bands, but in different genres. How did you settle on the music you currently play?
ØB: I’ve always been really into psych stuff, but never had a band that did it. I had a lot of songs that were meant to be really long, and more psychedelic, experimental, whatever you call it. In the music scene in Norway, if you need someone to play bass on your songs, you just call them and ask them. It’s not really separated by genre. Of course there are some separations between black metal guys and pop guys. But the scene is really small and not that separated. We’re all musicians. For me, it’s not that different playing different genres, as long as it’s cool music.
AF: What was it like recording your debut, Pick-up, Lift-off, Space, Time?
ØB: We did it ourselves in our rehearsal room in the summer of 2012. We recorded the drum groove, which are sort of monotonous, and just started layering stuff on top of it. We really like to have a pop hook in there somewhere, even if it’s kind of got a jam sound. We worked on the album a lot during the fall of 2012. We produced all of it ourselves, because we kind of had an idea where we were going with it and knew how it was supposed to sound. It didn’t really make sense to bring in some producer, because we had a good idea of what we wanted it to sound like. So we just did it ourselves.
AF: What’s the significance of the album’s title?
ØB: It’s the first four songs of a Swedish album from the sixties, by a band called Hansson & Karlsson, and the album is called “Man At The Moon.” It uses, like…drums and organs, only. I love that album, and I thought it would bring some nice images to mind. I liked having a long title, as well. It sounded cool, I guess. There’s no hidden meaning. It sounds like a countdown for a space shuttle taking off.
AF: Is there a philosophy behind the instrumental, soundscape-like quality of the album?
ØB: I think we just decided to not be in a hurry with the songs, and not to feel like we had to be in a hurry to get to the chorus. We gave the grooves time to develop. It could be a soundtrack for a movie or something. And whenever we play live, as often as we can we use some visual projections, which seems to work really well with the music.
AF: You’ve mentioned you draw inspiration from India. Tell us how that factors in.
ØB: I went to India the year before we started this project. I’ve always been interested in classical Indian music. We use those types of scales, and some Indian instruments. Something called a drone box? Whenever we play concerts and we have it, it plays one really ambient, background chord. Compared to Western music, Indian music allows stuff to last a little bit longer. It’s more hypnotic. Some songs can last for twenty minutes and that’s not weird, that’s just how long the pieces have to be. That’s also the philosophy for our album. We don’t have any twenty minute songs, but we believe in letting the songs evolve to however long they’re supposed to be.
AF: It must be liberating to decide that you’re not going to pay as much attention to typical song structure.
ØB: We have short songs, but it’s kind of nice to have more space, compared to contemporary popular music, and not be stopped by the four minute limit. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff from contemporary, regular music that’s great. We use chorus and verse structure, but we don’t feel trapped by it. And when we play live, we try to let the song be a starting point and then improvise. It’s really important to try to keep it interesting, of course, and not to lose the hooks of the songs. The easiest thing is just to put on a lot of noise for twenty minutes, without any stuff going on in it. But to do it for twenty minutes and keep it interesting…
AF: There are also a couple of tracks (6 AM, The Road) that feel so bluesy. Is the blues big in Norway? Where does that aspect come from?
ØB: I always loved the blues. Some of the older blues has a lot of the same stuff we like to work with: groove, minor changes, being repeated over and over. That’s kind of what we’re doing as well. Here in Norway, older people listen to the blues more than younger people do. But it’s kind of the basis for all rock and roll.
AF: Do you incorporate traditional Norwegian folk music into your playing?
ØB: No, not really. Norwegian folk music is more dance music. It’s similar to Irish or Celtic music. They have some scales and stuff that we use, but I’m not really interested. I haven’t listened to all that much of it, actually. American pop music is more exotic, or exciting, for me.
AF: You’re coming to America in March, to play SXSW in Austin. We’re so excited to have you over!
ØB: We’re super excited. This is our first trip over. I’ve been to the US before, to Austin Psych Fest, but never played there. I have friends who say that SXSW is crazy, super crowded, super colorful. That’ll be cool. And then we’re going to start recording pretty soon, and hopefully get back to the US, and then get picked up by some huge record label–haha. I don’t know. We really just want to keep on doing what we’re doing.
Thanks so much to Øystein Braut for taking the time to talk with us! You can buy Pick-up, Lift-off, Space, Timehere, and check out the ethereal and gorgeously spacey single “Tangerine” below!
Each week Audiofemme gives away a set of tickets to our featured shows in NYC! Scroll down to enter for the following shindigs.