Summer Like The Season – a.k.a Summer Krinsky, Scott Murphy and Liam McNitt – has a way of creating its own little world. Krinsky, who explains that texture and rhythm serve as the guiding forces of her songwriting, meticulously builds this world, brick by brick, using field recordings she’s captured on tour or in her home, layered vocals and unexpected rhythmic patterns. On latest single “Root Mean Square,” Krinsky reflects on the complexity of “remembering past relationships as a full picture instead of just highs and lows,” she says.
While the song emits bursts of longing, heartbreak and understanding, the video, premiering today via Audiofemme, is pure comedy. “The music is all pretty serious so we wanted the music videos to be a little lighter and fun,” Krinsky says. The setting for the visual takes place in an old dollhouse at Krinsky’s grandmother’s home. She was visiting one day when she was struck with inspiration. “Summer calls me up and says, ‘Get your cameras – my grandma has a dollhouse and we’re gonna use that to make a music video,’” Murphy recalls. “’Just get all the action figures you have and come on over.’”
Murphy, a self-proclaimed “bad visual artist,” took up cinematography at the start of the pandemic and ended up shooting the entire video. While Krinsky’s vocals tell a story of loss and perception, a completely different kind of tension builds in the film. A tiny mouse family is ambushed late at night by some bad guys who came to rock. “The bad men come and they break into the mice’s house with the sole intention to jam,” says Murphy. “But their jam gets out of control and they kidnap a mouse,” adds Krinsky. The band casted, wrote and shot the film all within a day, in the type of fever dream-haze that many experienced during lockdown. “One might say it was manic,” Krinsky jokes.
Though the video was made within a matter of hours, Krinsky explains that the band’s forthcoming record, Hum, was a process three years in the making. “It was written and recorded, mixed and remixed a million times,” she says. When she finally finished the record, the pandemic happened and she felt like the timing wasn’t right to release the record; it’s finally been rescheduled for release September 3, 2021.
As frustrating as holding on to a body of work can be, Krinsky said it gave her time to reconnect with the songs and to make videos like this one. Space away from these songs that she spent countless hours on gave her a chance to return to them with a different perspective. “I was kind of worried that I’d feel really disconnected because [the album] was written so long ago and at first… I was feeling that,” Krinsky says. Because she writes and records almost all of her songs alone, bringing them to the band to arrange for live performance helps make them feel new again. Before they’re transformed into their live versions, Krinsky’s compositions are lush, intricate tracks, usually including multiple samples she’s recorded herself.
“Root Mean Square,” in particular, includes a recording she made while unloading at a show in Duluth, Minnesota. “When we were on tour , I made it a point to take a sample in every city that we go to,” says Krinsky. “Every song has some hidden sample either from tour or like other things around Detroit or in my house or my dog.” These unique sonic textures combined with her shapeshifting vocals are what make up Summer Like The Season’s alternate universe; a place where rhythm has no rules, mice can be held hostage for a jam session, and the remnants of love lost are splayed out for all to see.
Follow Summer Like The Season on Instagram for ongoing updates.
Detroit-based artist Billionaire Sophia melds pop, R&B, trap and hip hop on her new EP, Ootgoat. Written, produced and mixed entirely by herself, the project is a testament to Sophia’s growth as a producer and artist. She explains that her journey with production started about eight years ago and has been almost entirely self-taught. “I started making beats and stuff in 2012, but I didn’t get my own equipment until 2014,” says Sophia. “That’s when I started doing it myself, but I didn’t start getting good ’til 2016…and it’s still gotta get better.”
Where Sophia’s at right now is already sounding real good. Following her February 2020 release, Love Not Attention, and recorded in her bedroom due to the state-wide lockdown, Ootgoat expands on Sophia’s languid, stream of consciousness style of songwriting and showcases both her flow as a rapper as well as her ethereal vocals. Sophia explains that she doesn’t practice a locked-in method for her songwriting, but follows whatever she’s feeling at the time. “If I’m listening to a beat I made… I just listen to it and see if I can feel something. Then if I can’t feel nothing I just go to my mic and start singing whatever comes out,” Sophia explains. “Eventually, maybe a hook will come out.”
Her innate melodic sensibility and knack for hook writing are evident in songs like “White Girl” and “Milan” that are almost impossible not to sing back. They’re the type of songs made for warm summer nights, cruising with your friends, maybe burning one. Sophia’s pop-leaning instincts are likely a combined influence of Detroit’s deep electronic roots and a lifetime of listening to pop trailblazers. “When I first started making beats, I was like, I’m gonna make a whole bunch of jittin’ beats, you know, Detroit style beats where you can dance,” Sophia says. “I just like pop music, I like rap, I like all types of music,” she says, citing Timbaland, Pharrel, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Justin Bieber as some of her early influences.
Merging Detroit-style beats with more Billboard-charting influences gives Sophia’s music both catchiness and a musical complexity not found in generic pop music. Her cadence on “Brown Eyes” is akin to the talk-style singing perfected by artists like Sza or Kari Faux that makes the listener feel like she’s talking solely to them – her sultry, whisper-like vocals add to that sensation as well.
While individual songs on Ootgoat act as vignettes into Sophia’s personal life and aspirations, the EP as a whole speaks to what seems to be Sophia’s vibe as an artist: nonconforming. The cover art, designed by Sophia, features the first-ever known statue of a woman, Venus of Willendorf, thought to have been created in 30,000 B.C. Sophia chose this image because of its stark difference to images of women that we generally see in the media. “She is not typical and it’s not what people think what women should be,” explains Sophia. “Really, you can be whatever you wanna be. [There’s] no rule to being a human.”
Like many women, Sophia personally relates to that sentiment, especially when it comes to who she is as an artist. “I just see that I’m a free artist, I do what I want to do, but I’m never going to be understood fully.”
Follow Billionaire Sophia on Facebook for ongoing updates.
With “band interests” listed as “fresh cut flowers & cum” on their Facebook page, it’s no surprise that Pixel Grip’s debut LP, Heavy Handed, is about as sweet as a goth-disco record can be. Bandmates Rita Lukea, Jonathan Freund and Tyler Ommen grew up in Chicago suburb, Crystal Lake, but found themselves drawn to the house and electronic sounds that their neighboring city has to offer. After taking two years to fine-tune the record, the result is a lush, dark-wave wonderland, filled with catchy hooks and cutting lyrics.
Imagine if Aphex Twin, Lorde, LCD Soundsystem and SURVIVE got together to make a supergroup. Entré Heavy Handed. Made primarily from three different analog synths, Pixel Grip definitely leans into the vintage synth realm without sounding derivative. The clarity and range of Lukea’s voice differentiate the group from archetypal “synth-pop” acts and guides the listener through the record’s peaks and valleys – of which there are many.
There’s a little bit of everything thematically on the record, from fun, lovestruck bangers like “Tell Him Off” to dark murder fantasies in “Body Like That.” Resounding themes of freedom, escapism and acceptance reverberate throughout the record. That being said, the band doesn’t seem to take themselves too seriously – it’s a delicate balance of blending life’s absurdity with brutal honesty and a whole lot of dirty synths.
AF: I read that you recorded this record over the last two years — how did you all start playing together? When and how did the first song on the record come together?
Jonathan Freund: We all met in high school. Rita and I had been making music together since then and Tyler joined about two years ago. “Golden Moses” is the oldest song, that one came about as an improvisation we later developed into a pop song.
AF: What type of synths do you use? How do you all normally start working on a track?
Rita Lukea: A few songs on the album start with a really crude demo. I would record a little demo on my phone using a $10 Yamaha that I found at a thrift store and my loop station. Jon would then go in and use more sophisticated equipment and sounds to produce a track.
JF: We also like to improvise all together and record what we come up on the spot, then stitch together the best moments into a song. We use a core group of three analog synthesizers, one vintage and two recent ones.
AF: What are some of the artists you grew up listening to? Did you all grow up in Chicago? How has being in Chicago now affected your sound as a band?
RL: We grew up in Crystal Lake, a northwest suburb in a Red County.
JF: We shared a love for groups such as Daft Punk, Boards of Canada, Little Dragon, Trust, the list goes on! Chicago has an exciting music scene – we’re definitely noticing the club and techno influence starting to creep in.
AF: Your music feels very escapist — is this purposeful? How do you hope listeners feel when they hear your music?
RL: It’s not intentional but I welcome that.
JF: I want listeners to be taken on a ride when listening to Heavy Handed, as we embraced a variety of sounds and moods throughout the album.
AF: In “Body Like That,” the music is so fun but clouded with a terrifying theme. What inspired this song? Is it difficult to write/perform this kind of material?
RL: “Body Like That” was written during a very stressful time for me when a guy I had fling with over the summer started stalking me during the fall. I wrote the song as a form of catharsis and a warning. The girl I “met in Texas” is fictional. It’s just one long “don’t fuck with me” in the form of a narrative.
AF: What are some of the Chicago house bands that you’re inspired by?
JF: We love the classics, especially Mr. Fingers. We have the same synthesizer he used to make his first dance hits, the Roland Alpha Juno, and it feels like that instrument allows us to channel his spirit more closely.
AF: How did you all learn your instruments?
Tyler Ommen:I bought a drum pad and would play along with the radio. Once I purchased my first drum kit, I started playing along with my favorite records as best as I could and played in rock bands with some friends in middle school. I became really obsessed with drumming and started working with local instructors and entering myself into drum solo contests. Eventually, I moved to Chicago to study music performance and music business at Columbia.
JF: I learned saxophone and piano growing up, but switched to electronics the minute I heard Aphex Twin for the very first time.
This week, Detroit-based producer, songwriter and DJ Tammy Lakkis released her debut single, “This is How It Goes,” a mesmerizing meditation on the cyclical nature of life. Lakkis fuses her background in more traditional songwriting and her love affair with Detroit’s electronic music scene, honing her original demo with the help of Assemble Sound resident Jonah Raduns-Silverstein (who produces his own music under the moniker Jo Rad Silver).
Lakkis’ crystal clear vocals are a welcome and surprising pair to the track’s droning bass line and punchy percussion. “This is How it Goes” has the cadence and repetition of the dance track Lakkis spins as a DJ, but her poetic lyrics provide a clear narrative that’s normally not found in most electronic music.
We spoke with Lakkis about making the track and how being in Detroit has shaped her music.
AF: Can you talk a little about your background in music? How long have you been producing? Where did you learn or did you teach yourself?
TL: I’ve been singing since I was a toddler. I picked up guitar when I was 13 and started writing songs a few years later. I was briefly in an alternative rock band called Tammy and the Enemies that formed in 2016 and that’s when my songwriting started taking most of its shape. My segue into producing was getting a drum machine and a looper pedal and making loops of my voice, guitar, and other sounds (like flicking water bottles, scratching the mic with my nails, hitting things against each other, etc.) and just exploring. That led to getting Ableton and later a sampler and that’s mainly how I make my music now. I was lucky to have friends around me I could learn from. I try to keep it fresh and use a variety of electronic and analog instruments and sounds with each new track.
AF: How does being a DJ influence your songwriting/production?
TL: I’m in the midst of a musical identity crisis because I used to primarily be a singer-songwriter but now I find myself making dance tracks on my sampler and my answer has been to fuse the two worlds together into more of a trip-hop vibe. DJing has added another dimension to music-making: now when I write songs, I consider how they speak to the body in addition to the mind and soul. Also, I’ve learned storytelling through DJing and going to DJ sets. It’s made me consider the context around individual songs and what story that context tells.
AF: Were there any artists in particular that you were listening to a lot when you wrote this track?
TL: Björk, Stereolab, and Portishead!
AF: What was your process for writing this song?
TL: One night in my garage in the spring of 2016, I laid down a basic beat on a drum machine and started making creepy loops of my guitar on a looper pedal and drank a Soft Parade and sang over the loop for hours and hours and hours. The main lyric of the song: “This is how it goes, it goes and goes and goes” kept coming back. So I spent a few weeks building around that. The final track is pretty similar in shape to what I originally came up with in my garage that summer but with less guitar, more electronic elements, and a much more refined and gritty sound. It’s mainly electronic besides the guitar, vocals, and me and Jonah’s clapping.
AF: What was the collaboration process like with Jonah?
TL: We did mostly sound design stuff and some arrangement stuff. We replaced my original recordings with analog drum machine and synth sounds and really spent time dialing in the exact sounds we were looking for. We did a complete rehab of the guitar, bass, and drums and it added so much to the complexity of the sound. We went through and honed in every sound in the track. It was a lot of work but it really paid off. I had been a little stuck before working with Jonah since I had been working on this song for so long and could no longer see it clearly and lost direction of what to do next. Jonah also mixed/engineered the track, so I learned better ways to make different sounds fit and be more accommodating of each other.
AF: How does living in Detroit influence your music / DJing?
TL: Living in Detroit is like having an endless stream of inspiration to tap into at any time. I go to shows several times a week and inevitably recycle the stuff I hear out in my music. Whether or not I’m making dance music, all the music I make is deeply inspired by dance music (primarily house music). Detroit has made me ditch my acoustic act and become an electronic artist. I am very inspired by all of the music coming out of Detroit and all the people here making sounds.
AF: What is this song about, to you?
TL: The transient nature of things. The inevitability of change and growth and moments turning into other moments turning into other moments turning into other moments, etc. I think, anyway. It may have subconsciously been a spinoff of Ruth Stone’s poem “Train Ride.”
This week, Detroit’s own Flint Eastwood – Jax Anderson – released “Real Love,” a powerful song detailing her broken relationship with the Christian church, and how breaking away from it finally gave her the chance to find love and truth. Like many people in the LGBTQ community, Anderson says she felt ostracized by the church because of her sexuality. After years of being told that there was something wrong with her, she decided to cut ties altogether with the church and free herself from what she felt were the judgmental confines of Christianity.
Anderson didn’t take this decision lightly. As someone who comes from a long line of preachers and grew up in the Christian church, separating from it meant much more than not saying her prayers on Sunday. “It was an extremely hard decision,” says Anderson. “I knew that I would be losing a community of people that I’d loved for a very long time and I had a huge fear that it would cause a division in my family, but thank god it didn’t.” She says although she made the split a while ago, this is her first time talking about it and also her first time openly singing about her sexuality. And the timing wasn’t a coincidence.
A few weeks before the song was released, Anderson’s older brother – who is also a preacher – sent her a link to a video of her family’s ex-pastor receiving an award for a “gay conversion therapy workshop” that he hosted for young women who are questioning their sexuality and gender identity. “We were both like, ‘this is ridiculous and it’s terrible that he’s doing this,’” says Anderson. “Especially because it was targeting girls aged 11-13 and that really hit home with me. That was exactly where I was when I was 11.” Understandably outraged, Anderson felt the best way to express her anger was to write a song about it.
She pulled up a bunch of instrumentals sent over by her brother Seth Anderson, a producer who goes by SYBLYNG, and settled on a piano loop that sounded like it came straight from a hymnal. “I sat down and wrote the song in about thirty minutes,” J. Anderson says. “I basically went through all of the ‘fruits of the holy spirit’ – which in Christianity are love, joy, patience, kindness – and said I found all of those in ways outside of the church, not by being a Christian but by being who I am.”
Anderson starts off “Real Love” by singing, “Can I be honest for a minute? Found peace when I lost religion / Found love when I thought I couldn’t.” Her opening lines set the stage for her description of her life after the church – one full of acceptance, love, and freedom. At one point in the song, a male voice says “Love without truth is not love,” exactly imitating the words of the conversion pastor’s acceptance speech, twisting his ill-meaning words back on him to create something positive.
With the help of strong choral voices consisting of Detroit divas Bevlove and Vespre, Anderson manages to orchestrate a reformed gospel song in which the world is her church, love is her God, and truth is her bible. Released just in time for June’s Pride celebrations, “Real Love” serves as a reminder that no one in the LGBTQ community should ever feel alone.
“I just want people to know that they’re not alone and it’s okay to be who they are,” says Anderson. “It’s not as scary as you think.”
Flint Eastwood will play her first Detroit show in over a year this Friday, June 29th with Princess Nokia at MOCAD. Doors at 7pm, tickets $25.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
Ikutaro Kakehashi passed away last Saturday at age 87. He founded Roland in 1960, meaning without him, we’d be way behind in drum machine and synthesizer technology. After leading the company for decades, he founded the electronic instrument company ATV Corporation in 2014 and received a technical Grammy in 2013 for work in MIDI technology.
Stayin’ Alive: A CPR Playlist
CPR is most effective when chest compressions are performed at 100 to 120 beats per minute, but how can someone easily remember that tempo? If you’ve been CPR certified, you were probably told to think of the Bee Gees classic, “Stayin Alive.” But, there are more options. As NPR reported, the New York Presbyterian hospital created a playlist of songs that are the right tempo to save a life, with artists ranging from Shakira to the Beastie Boys to Modest Mouse. Listen below.
Last night, the new, huge Williamsburg music venue Brooklyn Steel opened with the first of a five nights LCD Soundsytem residency. Tickets to all five nights – 10,000 tickets, to be exact – sold out in minutes. The band reportedly debuted three new songs and mentioned that they’re almost done with a new album. Signs posted outside the venue tried to deter concertgoers from filming the show, saying, “It’d be a real gut punch to all the people who have been working insanely hard the past 18 months to release this music.”
Beyond the Wizards Sleeve, the psychedelic “sonic brotherhood” of electronic stars Erol Alkan and Richard Norris, have announced a debut album The Soft Bounce coming out July 1. Fresh off that album is the single “Diagram Girl” and accompanying video, the first in what will be a series of films complementing the album.
“Diagram Girl” is a cool, dreamy track that will melt into your day like a deep breath or a cup of lavender tea. Electronic music that fills the air like a hazy ambient cloud, if you’re feeling the jagged edges of your Monday, slip into this track to take the edge off.
Sorry For Your Loss, the debut album of the ‘occult electronic dance music’ duo A Place Both Wonderful And Strange, is like an eerie journey into a dark forest; it’s terrifying, yet beautiful, and you can only arrowope you’ll make it out alive. This duality in Niabi Aquena and Russ Marshalek’s music perfectly fits the duo’s Twin Peaks references. “Pedestal” prominently features longing vocals and mysterious whispers provided by Niabi, while the sounds of wind and static surround her. The song’s theme is echoed in the last track, “blue is like drowning and drowning is like this.” “DONT,” however, shrugs off beauty and is straightforwardly creepy, with a taunting, sinister voice and an accompanying music video that shows religious fervor in a darker light.
Though they have a lot of upcoming projects in 2016, Niabi and Russ took the time to talk to us about the occult, their love for dogs, and how they started their duo (you’ll find a stream for Sorry For Your Loss at the bottom of the page).
AudioFemme: How did you two meet?
Niabi: We’d begun the dialogue of wanting to work together after he booked my solo project for a Tori Amos covers night of her album “Under the Pink.” I covered “Icicle” and Russ covered “The Waitress.” We both gravitated, as individuals, to a more beat-orientated, abstract version of our covers, so when he asked if I’d be interested in joining him, it felt quite natural and logical.
Russ: When I moved to New York I was throwing shoegaze parties, and Niabi, ever the shoegaze aficionado, would come out. When my former band played our second 92Y Tribeca gig and were asked to curate a night of moody, Lynchian music, we booked Niabi’s solo project and she got a great response. We tossed around the idea of making music together for a long, long time, but we finally started poking away at it at the end of last year. The energy just felt right so we figured we should at least nail down the tunes we had made together.
AF: Where are you from originally?
Niabi: I’m from the Shenandoah Valley, in Virginia. We’re talking very rural here. I grew up on a dirt road and my address was a route number. We heated our home with a wood stove; my mother being the one, as a single parent, to chop the wood. There was no cable, no internet. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything though. I feel very lucky and grateful to have the upbringing that I did.
Russ: Atlanta, Georgia. I miss it at times. I sometimes wonder if I’d tried harder down there if I could’ve had the successes I’ve had in New York. Sometimes I fantasize about taking my band and my dog and my fiancee and running away back south.
AF: You call your music a “raw, visceral mess.” Can you expand more on this? How does it affect your art, and life in general?
Niabi: After playing in a bunch of bands, including my solo project, I got so tired of striving for perfection. I felt real dismay, not feeling like I could be more playful and experiment without major judgement from others and myself. So now working with Russ in APBWAS, it’s wild and I don’t really know how it happened, but I feel so free to be myself and be experimental without fear of failure. If something doesn’t stick, it’s okay, and when it does – holy hell how neat. So everything has gotten a lot more raw and a lot more natural, [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”][both] in our process of creating and certainly when we play live as well.
Russ: I have no formal musical training, which probably won’t come as a shock to anyone. So a lot of my creative process is literally slopping around in ephemera, taking samples to places where they’re unrecognizable, crafting sounds based on how much I can possibly tolerate. Niabi’s the first person I’ve ever worked with who can, well, work with me in this way. For me, it’s how I live my life, too. I live and love big, messy, and without apology or forethought, and I think that reflects in the music, as well as the performance. We’re two people but we’re big, loud, and messy.
AF: I read about the Goths for Dogs show you were involved in. It’s an amazing idea- though, since you describe your genre as Occult Dance Music, I thought you’d be more into cats. Which animal is your favorite, and why?
Niabi: I love all animals, it’s difficult to name one as a favorite. Right now, I only have a dog. His name is Odie and he’s a blind senior with many missing teeth. “Goths for Dogs” raised money for both of the rescues where we got our current animal friends. To quote one of my favorite art films, Nadja: “I have walked behind the sky, we are all animals.” So that is my answer. There is no favorite, we are all animals.
Russ: I fucking hate cats. As a dear friend said, “If I wanted to throw money at something that doesn’t care about me, I’d invite a man over.” I definitely didn’t choose my dog, Mr. Frito Burrito, he chose me, and he is my favorite animal. He worked on a video with us for Goths for Dogs, by the way:
AF: In your music video for “DONT,” I really liked how you placed such a dark, moody song over the religious archival footage. I was wondering if you could explain: Does association with the occult mean a different kind of religion, or the absence of religion?
Niabi: I’d say a different sort of religion. I’m deeply spiritual of a person, gravitating towards a more Wiccan practice of earth based ritual. The moon and recognition of celebrated earth holidays, solstices, and equinoxes are a very big part of who I am. Of course I am referencing of some very old knowledge here that is actually the influencer of modern Christianity. The thread between paganism and Christianity is not only tangible but historic.
Russ: For me, the occult association is a different kind of religion. Practicing witchcraft, for me, is about personal empowerment as well as appreciating the forces that are beyond my control. It’s made me a much more grateful person.
AF: You picked a great band name. What is the strangest place you’ve been to, or situation you’ve found yourselves in? What about wonderful, or beautiful?
Niabi: It takes a lot for me to consider something strange. Although if I would have to, I’d say humans’ gravitation towards negativity and hatred. I don’t understand how others intentionally try to hurt people. In risking like sounding like a total fucking hippy, I just wish there could be love everywhere and with everything. On beauty, I’d like to offer another quote that I’ve held for many years. I adore mid century art and design and of course love Charles and Ray Eames. I think that he nailed it when he stated that he wanted to find “the uncommon beauty of common things.” Beauty is everywhere if you just open your eyes and look.
Russ: Without getting into it, I every so often have extreme auditory hallucinations. And definitely that is the strangest, because suddenly, in the actual tangible physical world, I experience the deepest and most terrifying parts of my brain, the parts even I keep secret from myself, acting as though they’re real, and present. Some of it is what bleeds into our song “Way Out.” For beautiful: Iceland. Iceland Iceland Iceland. We’re trying so hard to get into Airwaves [Music Festival] this year.
AF: What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
Niabi: There’s much on the docket for 2016, personally I’m very excited. Our second album is to be recorded upstate in a real cabin with a real wood stove, which I’m very excited about given my mountaineer-woman upbringing.
Russ: I’m terribly influenced by our friends/mentors-of-a-sort Azar Swan, and they talk about their upcoming albums by labeling them LP#, LP#, etc, until they have real names, and so I’ve taken to calling everything LP2, LP3, and LP4, because those are what’s on the docket right now. LP2 is going to be recorded in a house up in the fuck-off woods of Phoenicia, a place that’s really magical, and it’s going to be a version of our touring Keys Open Doors: Hidden Life of Laura Palmer show.
Niabi: During the recording of our second album, we are also going to play with the beginning songs of our third album, which will be more of a collaboration with Vanessa of The Harrow and Synesect and the magical Shanda.
Russ: LP3 we’re writing and recording with Vanessa Irena aka knifesex, aka my fiancee, and our dear friend Shanda. Niabi and I really want to try and make that one an album that’s very much taking the idea of weird electronic dance music and applying some song structure to it. I’m thinking huge, world-stopping choruses.
Niabi: Our intention with the third album is for something more structured, slightly more commercially accessible, with songs that have a chorus and maybe a bridge. Our fourth album will be recorded at the end of the year, however at the moment I can’t say anything more beyond that we have a very exciting producer who we’re working with and it’s going to be incredible.
Angel Deradoorian is a former member of the Dirty Projectors. As one of the band’s vocalists, she contributed to many of their trademark harmonies and long, sustained cries that used the singers’ voices more like an instrument than just a way to deliver words. Some of that sound creeps into her solo album The Expanding Flower Planet, but for the most part, Deradoorian chooses a bold, new direction.
The album, which will be released on August 21 via Anticon, appeals to my San Francisco roots: it’s filled with vibes that convey peace, love, and more than a hint of psychedelic drugs. Deradoorian’s voice ranges from serious and mystical to singsongy, like a butterfly that lands on your hand only to flit away suddenly, flying this way and that through the air. On tracks like “The Invisible Man,” the Middle Eastern inflections in her singing are perfectly mixed with echoes of her voice, low sustained tones, and rock drums. On other songs, however, the percussion seemed overwhelming yet too simple, even childish under the range and layers of her voice.
The Expanding Flower Planet is trance-inducing, but with it’s many, many percussive parts, vocal lines, and a constant stream of lyrics, it’s too busy for passive listening. The best song comes first with “Beautiful Woman,” which recalls Deradoorian’s work with the Dirty Projectors but repackages the sound in shiny, polished pop. Other noteworthy tracks include “Darklord,” which features a trilling surf guitar, the monk-like chanting of “Ouenya,” and the high-energy track “The Eye.” “Komodo,” a song about running from the deadly lizard with a fatal bite, was also enjoyable for its playfulness.
The Expanding Flower Planet is a fun trip through someone else’s mind, someone who may be in another universe entirely. It’s a great listen if you need to completely change your frame of mind. And, on some distant flower planet, aliens are probably dancing to it somewhere.
“They say people never change, but that’s bullshit/ They do.”
That’s a line from Currents, the latest album by Tame Impala. If you’ve been following their music for the past seven years, you’ll notice immediately that the album is quite a change for the Australian psychedelic rock band led by Kevin Parker. Tame Impala’s debut album,Innerspeaker, was filled with the bluesy guitar riffs of “Half Full Glass Of Wine” and quirky pysch-pop of “Solitude Is Bliss.” The 2012 release Lonerism, which included the heavy, time-shifting rock track “Elephant,”mostly continued this sound.
But on Currents, little is the same as before. The guitars have been replaced with synths, except for a few lines on “Disciples” and some delay-heavy melodies in “Love/Paranoia.” I cringed when an euphoric, Avicii-like synth melody started halfway through the opening track, but then it turned into a broken-record loop of noise, which melted into a psychedelic jam and finally a funky hook before fading out. That song is titled “Let It Happen,” as if Parker had a feeling this new direction would cause some resistance in listeners (or even have them double-checking their screens to make sure that yes, that is a Tame Impala album they’re streaming.) But go with it – though it sounds strange at first, the album is as good as it is different. I miss the old Tame Impala’s guitar riffs, but Parker proves that his songwriting talents extend beyond rock to soulful ballads and electronic music. “Elephant” showed us that he has an amazing feeling for rhythm and beats, which makes him a natural when it comes to dance music. You can get anyone to move to something with a good beat, but Parker’s substantial, introspective lyrics will also hold the attention of listeners.
Key tracks are the long lost Tears For Fears single “Moment,” the shimmery pop of “Reality In Motion” and the soul-filled single “Cause I’m A Man.”
There may not be much overlap between Tame Impala’s old fans and the ones he gains from Currents – or, like in my case, someone could like both Innerspeaker and Currents, but for completely different reasons. Before, Kevin Parker wanted us to know he likes being alone. Now, he wants to make you dance. At least he hasn’t gone country.
Currents will be released July 17th via Interscope. You can check out the new song “Let It Happen” below stream the album via NPR here.
“We had affection, but you couldn’t handle passion,” Xan Young sings on “Passion.” While I feel for anyone stuck in the friend zone, I’m kind of glad his heartbreak inspired this track.
Xan Young is new to the electronic music scene, and “Passion” is the first song ever released from the Brooklyn musician. It’s an impressive debut, with a sound that fills the whole room: a heavy bass, fluttering synths, and Xan’s whispery,soulful vocals. The siren-like squeal of synths and street drumming percussion during the bridge lightens the mood as he laments that, at least, “There’s pleasure in the pain” of his unreturned affection.
Check out “Passion” below, and stay tuned for Xan Young’s debut album The Flood in August.
DATALOG (moniker of Brooklyn-based digital artist Conor Heffernan), is garnering momentum and buzz on the NYC indie electronic circuit for his recent live performances, many of which have included stunningly curated videography that rivals any I’ve seen in quite some time. His body of work is immense, and reflects the inclinations of an artist coming into his own, though he has yet to release a full-length album. The genre that he deals in—namely live electronic music that incorporates visual or performance art—is an increasingly compelling medium for performers and audiences alike, and hence includes its fair share of mediocrity. In fact so much mediocrity that you could say its heyday is up. Or needs to die and be reborn I suppose. From what I’ve seen, DATALOG is at the forefront of that rebirth, and people should be taking notice.
His tracks embody an expansive classical and jazz pedigree, often layering self-composed, complex instrumentals and polyrhythmic beats into thoughtfully arranged digital sequences that are at once ominous, chaotic, soothing and purposefully glitchy; they call to mind early Notwistalbums (minus vocals) and expand on the style of Four Tet, Underworld and the like. His older work, including 2011 EP Threads as well as his impressively thorough collection of singles tends toward the more formulaic aspects of deep house, with heavy beats underpinning jazz and funk infused melodic motifs. His newer tracks however, showcase a growing confidence in his own capacities as an artist, and perhaps more importantly underscore Heffernan’s exploration into darker, more untapped genres of electronic music. There seems to be more negative space in his compositions, in which silence is equally as important as noise, and through which tension is cultivated—not by an accelerating BPM, but by the inclusion of ambient noise and languid, extensive, drawn out expository themes which are often based on two or three notes of music. When performed live with video the result is as much dark and gripping, as it is accessible and visually gratifying.
AudioFemme was lucky enough to get its hands on an exclusive from him. “Everything Is Essential”, a brand new track from Heffernan, seems to signpost a new era in his creative life. It displays in equal measure his prodigious rhythmic abilities and eye for detail as well as his desire to edit and restrain his compositions to create a more sculpted and deliberate sonic narrative. The first minute or so is quiet for the most part, and plays entirely on three notes of a major scale. Then come just enough hints of bass to keep one guessing whether it might just be a dance track. When the beat finally cuts through, it amps up and resolves this quandary simultaneously. Frantic, like the pulse of an animal in flight, it hovers over the melody for a few minutes until the composition as a whole begins to dissolve into artfully conceived progressive house/trance. By the time it wraps up, right where it started with only a three-note melody, one is left breathless: a rare feat even for those artists who inhabit the upper echelons of electronic music. DATALOG is clearly just getting started.
2012 saw a handful of genres altered by a growing number of electronic music producers. These artists have convinced listeners in the mainstream to embrace electronic music, and are subsequently changing the conventions of pop, rock, indie and everything in between. Last April TheNew York Times released an article about the growing demand for EDM. The article quoted Michael Rapino, chief executive of Live Nation Entertainment saying “If you’re 15 to 25 years old now, this is your rock ‘n’ roll.” Here are three electronic inspired albums that have broken stereotypes and will continue to resonate in the coming year.
began as a documentary inspired by a challenge given to electronic music producers. The project resulted in a ground breaking album that hybridized genres in unsuspecting ways. Released February 2012, this ambitious endeavor paired five headliner DJs with a music style out of their typical music production range. Skrillex teamed up with members of The Doors, The Crystal Method tackled classic country style, Pretty Lights took on the challenge of incorporating early R&B, and Mark Ronson melded his music with the jazz tradition. A moving collaboration between DJ Premier, NAS, and the Berklee Symphony Orchestra produced the title track “Regeneration”, which entwined the explosive sounds of a full orchestra with hip hop beats, rap lyrics and a lyrical record scratch solo. The outcomes of this album concept were widely varied, and embraced many challenges. The most exciting revelation of this project was discovering the link that connects music fans to a particular mode of expression, and exploiting that link to coax fans out into new musical territory. A dialogue was sparked between music listeners of different ages, backgrounds and traditions, and this particular spirit of collaboration continues to inspire new music projects. I found a new level of respect for these DJ/electronic music producers as they invited listeners to hear time tested styles in a daring new format.
has captured the hearts of electronic and pop music fans this year with her third album Visions. Her exposed vocal expressiveness and technical savvy of production and performance have centered the media around her. But what is particularly defining about her style is her rejection of mainstream media. This may sound shocking as she was not long ago featuredin Vogue magazine, but her values are clearly visible in her art, music and live performances. Grimes has rejected expensive music video production in favor of DYI. She draws her own album covers. She performs with electronic music gear that she’s picked up over the years, and has learned to play with an array of hardware on stage alone, rather than streamlining her act with a hired band. She is not the typical pop model, and her emphasis on doing things for herself are an inspiration to many aspiring artists in a wide range of mediums. Visions is filled with catchy pop hooks and the satisfying synth sounds that have filtered into many popular acts this year. Yet she is also wildly original in the way she expresses herself and lets her music unfold in a beautifully unpretentious manner.
is Trent Reznor’s most understated album, yet the music churns with a deadly undertow. Looking over a career that has encompassed a long run as lead singer and songwriter of the band Nine Inch Nails, and a transition to successful film composer, the next step in his musical journey has been a satisfying one for fans. The six song 2012 EP An Omen captures the evolution of this multifaceted artist. The band includes Reznor, his wife Mariqueen Maandig, and longtime collaborator Atticus Ross. How to Destroy Angels oscillates between loosely organic, acoustic sounds such as plucked strings, and tightly knit, precisely positioned electronica beats and effects. The album pushes forward a dark electronic style that stirs with a deep restlessness. Maandig’s gentle vocals overlay the music in a way that is at once breathtaking and unnerving. Expansive, building tension encapsulates the energy, excitement and unease many music listeners may be feeling as we move into a new age of technology, advance, and the unknown.
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