Dick Texas Processes Grief with Debut Single “Flies”

Photo Credit: Jamie Sanchez-Skriba

There is no one way to grieve. Losing someone you love is one of the hardest parts of moving through life, and it often alters the way we see the world and ourselves. Valerie Salerno’s new solo project, Dick Texas, was formed out of a need to process her own grief and find a cathartic way to deal with the deaths of two of her closest friends. “I think that grief is something that just sticks in you,” says the Grand Rapids-based artist. “The best way to deal with it is to just put it into music. It just completely listens to you.” 

In her first single as Dick Texas, Salerno uses dark synth tones and distorted recordings of her late friend telling a story to paint a portrait of her unique experience with grief. Before starting this project, Salerno played in Sojii, a noise-rock outfit that often prioritized a harsh sound over identifiable lyricism. She says that part of starting Dick Texas was fueled by her desire to be fully heard. “In a band, I kept hitting this wall where I couldn’t be heard musically and creatively,” says Salerno. “So, I was like, I’m gonna sit down and write all these songs by myself so I cant blame it on anyone else.” 

This was in the spring of 2019, right before the pandemic started. She had decided to quit Sojii and start experimenting with synths. Shortly after, two of her best friends passed away. “Flies” deals with the painful fallout surrounding this tragedy and the exceptionally poignant agony of grieving in near solitude. “Never realized how full I was when I could always find you out there,” Salerno sings, starting the song with a familiar echo of taking loved ones for granted while they’re still here. She explains that the first lyrics for the song were spurred when she and a few friends were clearing out their late friend’s room. 

“We were walking through [his] room, cleaning out his stuff and the air felt so palpable and thick and tangible,” Salerno says. That’s when she wrote down the song’s first lyric in her notes app: “The air in the room can’t hold its own head up.” It’s a perfect way to encapsulate grief – as if the air is absorbing the darkness around it and falling prey to the same sadness as the people who are breathing it in.

Salerno explains that although she sang in Sojii, a lot of it was screaming, and even that was often drowned out by other instruments or loud feedback. She says it’s been refreshing to have control over how her words are received. “Words and literature are my first love,” says Salerno. “I didn’t start playing music until I was ten but I was reading and writing before that so it’s really special to have that [voice] heard.” And while Salerno’s lyrics are poetic, she makes sure to communicate exactly what she’s feeling without fluff or euphemisms. “As a person, I hate small talk. It literally gives me panic attacks,” Salerno shares. “I don’t think I’m special in my loss and pain; I think everyone feels those things. People should feel better about being able to share them.” 

Although Salerno’s right about the universality of loss and grief, her ability to distill the complexities of these feelings into a three-minute song is something that doesn’t come around often. She honors her friends by preserving the humanity of their relationship – the fights, the drunken nights and the feeling of home that comes when you’re around true friends. “I wish we could argue again/In flesh and blood/With words that cut/Like we’ve done before/Got a lot of poison in my soul.” Salerno lets herself miss every part of the friends she lost, to the point where she realizes it’s consuming her. “I wanna do more than just miss you,” she sings in a voice that mirrors the monotone of emotional exhaustion. 

“Flies” is the culmination of Salerno’s grief, anger, sadness and resolve to heal. After a months-long bender of grieving with friends and loved ones, she turned to her music as an alternative coping mechanism. “I sat down and was like, okay, I’m not gonna drink anymore, I’m not gonna feel bad for myself. I’m just gonna start putting those feelings into music,” she remembers. “Flies” (and its intro, “Prelude to Flies”) are the first iteration of that healing process and a sobering reminder to love your friends while they’re still here. 

Follow Dick Texas on Instagram for ongoing updates.

New Chance Blurs Lines Between Digital and Physical Realms with “Two Pictures” Premiere

Photo Credit: Yuula Benivolski

In this digital world, the lines of intimacy and consumption can cross over and over until they blur into a single continuum – especially in the last year or so of global isolation, when millions took to the internet as their only means of connection or meaning. Victoria Cheong of New Chance meditates on the nuanced intersection of physical versus digital, meaningfulness and the meaninglessness in her new video and song, “Two Pictures,” premiering today on Audiofemme. The single will appear on New Chance’s forthcoming record Real Time, out July 16 via We Are Time.

The Toronto-based artist explores her relationship to the outer world by removing herself from it completely. Her face painted in skull makeup, she narrates her observations as w post-Earth version of herself, recounting the way she used to move through the world and the things that stimulated her. She reflects on her connection to the digital realm and the way it shaped her everyday life. “I woke each day to pass through the gate to relate to other people,” Cheong sings over extraterrestrial synths and sparse drums, letting woozy saxophone (courtesy Karen Ng) take over the bridge. Viewing the internet as a gate to an endless web of connection is a perfect way to represent it’s duality; the positivity of connection and closeness mixed with infinite opportunities to spar hate or sadness. 

Cheong explains that “Two Pictures” was inspired in part by social media algorithms. “There’s no meaning between images that follow each other on a feed,” says Cheong. “It’s actually de-stabilizing, because we can’t make meaning between images. Like, if you see someone celebrating someone and the next image is some horrible thing in the world, it’s like, ‘How am I supposed to feel?’”

She juxtaposes this esoteric phenomenon with the concrete sensation of physical touch. “How do we integrate this image culture into the realm of the senses and the realm of how we perceive or how we project and relate?” asks Cheong. When digital and physical intertwine, what does that mean for our relationships, and what if the two become unbalanced? If all of your intimate connections are formed online, you’re missing out on the essential human need of touching and being touched. But in a world where everyone is online, having no digital footprint can feel close to being non-existent to some. 

Cheong’s out-of-body voice contemplates this binary when she sings: “Two pictures/I got stuck in between/I couldn’t tell what either should mean/I knew I had a body/And I knew what it could do/And I could tell it just how to move.” In the wake of algorithmic-fueled confusion, Cheong turns to the simplicity of touch and physical intimacy to ground herself. The observations of her “future self” serve as a sage reminder to find stillness and peace in the things that can’t be found online – the warmth of the sun, a hand to hold, a deep breath.

Follow New Chance on Facebook for ongoing updates.

Nashville Ambient Ensemble Embraces Space and Experimentation on Debut LP Cerulean

Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz

With their debut album Cerulean, Nashville Ambient Ensemble reimagines the art of experimental music. Founded by native Tennessean Michael Hix, who returned to Nashville in 2018 after honing his solo craft in New York’s experimental music scene, the group rapidly expanded into a septet, proving just how rich Nashville’s scene can be. “Moving back to Nashville, I was impressed by how people wanted to make music together,” Hix tells Audiofemme. “It reminded me what is so unique about making music in Nashville, and that is that it’s much more collaborative in nature.”

Hix quickly became a magnet for artists across the city seeking collaboration. After connecting with multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Diatom Deli through social media, the two teamed up for a live show at East Nashville bar The Crying Wolf in 2019, where journalist and guitarist Jack Silverman was in the audience and suggested to Hix that they collaborate. Hix’s longtime friend Timon Kaple was also in attendance and approached him with the same request, presenting the first sign of the community spirit in Music City.

As a self-professed fan of musical improvisation, Silverman says the Ensemble was a welcomed invitation to join forces with like-minded musicians in the experimental music world. “To me it’s about completely losing yourself, and that’s something I’ve always felt about instrumental music and improvisational music. It’s like playing in the purist sense,” Silverman explains, comparing the process of working with multiple musicians to that of walking a tight-rope. “Everyone has to really be patient and listen to other people. I felt like I was discovering a whole new world of musicians who I related to a lot more.” 

Hix continued to build the multi-faceted group into a seven-piece ensemble where he serves as composer and plays synthesizer, with Silverman on baritone electric guitar and Kaple on electric guitar. Rounding out the band is Luke Schneider on pedal steel guitar, pianist Kim Rueger, Cynthia Cárdenas helming guitar synth and Deli providing vocals.

Nashville Ambient Ensemble. Photo credit: Jeremy Ferguson

The Ensemble’s debut album, Cerulean, was an exercise in patience and experimentation. The septet only rehearsed twice before heading into the studio for a two-day recording session to create the album, which was released March 19th, 2021 on Centripetal Force Records. Hix provided rough outlines for each composition, along with loose chord structure that was left open to interpretation, inviting the musicians to play off one another’s strengths.

“We all work together very naturally,” Hix observes. “I think one of the things that we achieved as a group was the sense of space that we allowed for each other, listening to one another, along with that semi-improvised setting. That kind of environment that we set up allowed everyone’s personal contributions to be more effective and heard.”

Deli admits she felt a sense of trepidation when approaching the project and trying to find her voice within it. “I viewed it as a challenge for myself,” the self-described “loner” says. ”It felt right to really challenge myself and be a part of something that is out of my element.”

Her calming voice guides the listener through the album’s six meditative songs, offering gentle whispers and simple words that poured from her stream of consciousness, adding as much dimension to the music as the instruments themselves. “The voice is being used as an instrument where you’re hearing and feeling in the way that a guitar would,” she explains of the “subconscious-driven” verbiage that arose from “intently listening” to her peers. “Intuitively hearing how each part was coming in and out was a very ebb and flow feeling, and I was feeding off of that with the voice.”

“It’s almost like a symphony where there’s all these different movements of a piece,” Silverman describes of the project. “There’s this tentative exploring wonder of getting to know people. I think the fact that we were all in that moment [of] ’what are we doing?’ added a certain awe to it and magic.” 

That magic is captured in the mellifluous arrangements that allow each musician to shine, Silverman harboring a connection to the title track that he composed and invited his fellow players to improvise on. “Cerulean to me is a shade of blue that is very striking, but very elusive,” he says. “There’s something about that shade and that color that is very mysterious and other-worldly to me.”

Meanwhile, Hix and Deli nod to “Coda” as a personal favorite, with Hix citing “Conversion” as one of the album’s most “effective” numbers in the way that it enables each musician to perform a solo in the span of its nearly 10-minute runtime. “It shows in the most comprehensive way what we were trying to do with the project, that balance between structure and improvisation,” Hix says.

Deli compares the album to a “musical jungle gym” that entices the listeners’ minds to play on the sounds while being open to the messages that apply to their own lives. “You’re just in this moment. There’s nothing else but this image that you’re watching and the world lights flickering on and off at the right moment of a sound coming in,” she shares. “The main message is be here and be here listening.”

“What it feels like to me as someone who participated in playing it is that you’re letting yourself be absorbed into a great whole and seeing what happens when you trust, let go and be in the moment to the point where you’ve lost all sense of self-consciousness. It’s almost like the music is playing you at that point,” Silverman analyzes. “What I’m trying to do is to find beauty in life and the universe and seeing how things connect. But there’s also a scariness in there. Life is intense; what I’m trying to do with my music a lot of times is process that. Sometimes there can be a darkness to it, too. There’s a lot of beauty and prettiness and chill melodies on Cerulean, but there’s also moments where it goes to slightly more mysterious and darker places. What I’m always trying to do is balance.”

Hix makes it a point to recognize the faint sound of laughter in the album’s closing track “Coda,” recorded during the final take of the sessions. It’s a sign of collective release from a group that leaned into trust and experimentation, knowing they conquered the journey with open hearts and pure intentions. Hix hopes listeners feel that same sense of liberation when they experience the music.

“I think everyone brought their whole selves and their whole lives to the music. I think it’s evident in their playing – it has a lot of heart in it. Their performances have a lot of power in them and it’s not just glossy, happy, bright feelings. The music has a lot of dimensions, and I think a lot of that is the result of everyone bringing their whole experience to the music,” Hix reflects. “My goal when making music is to create a space where someone can disconnect from the noise from their daily life and regain a sense of who they truly are. I turn to music for that, so when I’m making music, I’m doing that personally. I try to pass that on for the listener as well.”

Follow Nashville Ambient Ensemble on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for ongoing updates.

PLAYING DETROIT: Saajtak Share Ethereal Live Performance of “Spokes”

Experimental art-punk band saajtak takes the most enticing aspects of free improvisation, opera, electronic and jazz music and melds them to create complex sonic narratives. The Detroit-based group – made up of Alex Koi (vocals), Simon Alexander-Adams (electronic artist), Jon Taylor (drums), and Ben Willis (bass) – prove to be just as compelling live as they are in their lush recordings. All virtuoso musicians in their own right, each band member lends their distinct musical style to the collective sound of gorgeous chaos. The band demonstrates their fluid improvisation and seamless transitions in this live video of their song “Spokes.”

Koi’s undulating vocals deliver weighted metaphors, creating a call and response between her and guest saxophonist Marcus Elliot. Koi’s voice serves as a compass for listeners, guiding them between bouts of stream-of-consciousness and smooth, calculated melodies. The directional nature of the song is appropriate, considering Koi says the song is a loose metaphor for a roadmap. “From a lyrical perspective, ‘Spokes’ is about getting lost in the chaos of everyday life to the point of becoming disconnected from yourself, other people, and particularly nature,” says Koi. “It explores the process of rediscovering connection through a walk in the woods.”

Sonically, the song shapeshifts and transforms throughout its lifespan, like watching a timelapse of a tadpole reaching its full form. Its meandering nature is likely due to saajtak’s fluid songwriting method. “I think ‘Spokes’ is pretty emblematic of our writing process,” says Willis. “I seem to remember Simon coming in with the initial groove idea, and then we played and improvised with it in rehearsal and in performance for months as we discovered other sections.” The group’s creative process doesn’t end after one burst of improvisation, however, but spans over months where the song is workshopped and analyzed, especially in this case. “’Spokes’ is probably our most complex song,” says Alexander-Adams, “and being so episodic in form, definitely came together slowly in sections before it reached its current state.”

Instead of one person having autonomy over the final structure of the song, saajtak works as a completely equal unit, each member creating their own piece of the puzzle. “It’s one of the great benefits and challenges of this band,” says Taylor. “Rather than one person writing the material and directing everyone’s individual roles, we all contribute in real time, but also have to be open to compromise and deconstructing our ideas in order to serve the bigger picture.” The result leads to episodic arrangements like “Spokes,” which feels like a natural marriage of stimulating segments telling a small piece of a larger story. The song comes from a 2017 EP of the same name; you can check that out, along with the the band’s latest EP, Hectic, via their bandcamp. Lyrics for “Spokes” are below.

Eulogies of compromise, how can one say goodbye when she’s walking out alone?
Wasted devotionals, way too emotional.
Dot in a box trynna push out and resurvey itself.
I’m flying highest tie the wools around me.
Farce, c’mon and out and pull me down to warm soil.

I’m falling. (Falls, falls, falls down)
When I get up the first thing I hear is,
“Time Will Pass Us Just Right Not Late This Quarter”.
Whipping around, who made that sound?, but no one lingers. Not a whispers.
Still, I’m lulled toward the forward of the woods.

My ring of marcasite shines in the sun like all my freckles, speckled cartography.
My lungs breathe easy here, hung upside down trees.
I don’t choose a spot, the spot it chooses me to find its tilted home, homey little alcove.
I will the wind, I will the wind. The breeze, to find me out – Guide me from outside in.
I will the wind, I will the wind, I will the wind.

So you’re divine? You think you can stand alone forever?
Refine and repeat, refine and repeat.
Desperately annulled, refusing the change
Refusing the nuance to clear the pathway.

My ring of marcasite shines in the sun like all my freckles, speckled cartography.
My lungs breathe easy here, hung upside down trees.
I don’t choose a spot, the spot it chooses me to find its tilted home, homey little alcove.
I will the wind, I will the wind. The breeze, to find me out – Guide me from outside in.
I will the wind, I will the wind, I will the wind.

I’m first. I can only imagine I’m first.

Surprise! It’s every moment of your life.
God spoke to you in a birch tree bark.

Take all of me. Well I’m sure I am offering it to you.
Take my lips I want to lose them, take my arms I’ll never use them.

Surprise! It’s every moment of your life.
God spoke to you in a birch tree bark but you weren’t there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[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”]

Bryan Ramos, Benni Aragbaye, Josh "Quick" Ivey and Sir Izik of FRTNK rocking out at UC Riverside.
Bryan Ramos, Benni Aragbaye, Josh “Quick” Ivey and Sir Izik of FRTNK rocking out at UC Riverside.

I stumbled upon FRTNK [/fusion_builder_column][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”][pronounced “FourteenK”] in the Voodoo Lounge at the House of Blues on Sunset. Their eclectic style (not to mention bare feet) caught my eye, and I was intrigued when the eight men took their places on stage. They were absolutely mesmerizing once the beats began flowing. Floating harmonies, beautifully on pitch with their vocals and instruments; I was hooked. It wasn’t a common venue space for them to play in with a small stage in the corner next to a blues bar, and the show itself was performed almost exclusively acoustic. In fact it was a happy coincidence that we ran into each other at all, and they encouraged me to attend their next concert at Seven Points in Downtown Los Angeles, a venue more typical for them so that I could truly understand their energy and sound.

I took their advice and there I stood, surrounded by fashionistas and men with beards wearing ironic t-shirts. I found myself speechless at the complex music resounding from the makeshift stage. Truly with a little more space FRTNK rocked the house. With so many exuberant members in FRTNK it is impossible not to be caught up in their positive energetic performances.

At the front stood the original members – Benni Aragbaye, B.J. and Bryan Ramos. They met in “The Gates,” which is their nickname for the cookie cutter gated community they grew up in. Boredom motivated them towards artistic expression and creating the grooving harmonies that is truly FRTNK. These three began developing their sound as early as 2009 and make up the core vocalists of FRNTK. The tenor-alto harmonization is stunning, and the in sync raps layered on top ties their sound together.

The rest of the band didn’t join until later in their career and the addition of the five musicians elevate FRTNK’s sound with style. Sir Izik was the first band member added as he joined three years ago. He plays bass, adding a consistent and creative backbeat, and with his relaxed island vibe it’s hard not to move with the beat. The other band members joined just one year ago, although they are so in step with each other it seems as if the entire group has been playing with each other for years. Along with Bryan there’s Raven Michael on guitar, both adding melodic tune (reminding me of beach rock) to each song. Not only are there two guitar players there are two keyboardists, Josh O’Connell and Caleb Ivey. These two create a sound just as synchronized as the vocals, they are also responsible for both the electronic and blues elements added into FRTNK’s sound. Finally there’s Josh “Quick” Ivey (yes, he’s Caleb’s brother) on the drums. Quick brings the concluding tone to the music, an ever changing jazz style drum beat. Normally I would attempt to name their genre but according to them it’s “undetectable” so I’ll leave it at that. Plus, with all these elements added together they are on the way to becoming one of the most unique and amazing group of sounds I’ve heard from an up and coming band.

Quirkily they divide their audience into “robots” (a.k.a. the people that just stand nodding their heads with their feet planted) and “aliens” (those who dance as hard as the performers) and interact with each group throughout the entire show. Working hard everyday on their sound, to them “music is a lifestyle” and that dedication shines through in their tight performance and deep sound. They produce their music in a homemade studio, which is simultaneously cheap and brings a “down to earth” element to their music.

As I stood on the wooden floorboards at Seven Points I was enchanted by FRTNK, a group that believes in the avoidance of perfection, represented by their slogan “live life impure.” To them the name FRTNK doesn’t just reference gold, it tells a story of a group of men bonded as tightly as brothers (some quite literally) who refuse to conform to the norms of society.

As said by B.J., “This is a time when impressive, magnificent things are occurring” and with the lyrical and musical depth presented by FRTNK I believe they are one of those magnificent things. The men of FRTNK are weird, loud, a little crazy and absolutely brilliant. They have a bright future to look forward to as more people are as lucky as I am and stumble upon one of their shows. Bringing a unique perspective and sound to the music industry, I am eager to follow FRTNK’s path and implore you to do the same. And you don’t have to wait long, if you don’t have plans for New Years Eve these wild dudes are hosting an all ages show at 9onVine in Downtown Los Angeles that should definitely make it on to your party-hopping list.

[fusion_soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157042898″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]


KatOriginally released as a Limited Edition Double Vinyl Set, TELLUS TOOLS, curated by Taketo Shimada, was intended to be used as a tool for DJ’s to create original mixes of a compilation of works by artists including Nicolas Collins, Kiki Smith, Catherine Jauniaux & Iuke Mori, Joe Jones, Alison Knowles, Louise Lawler, Kohondo Style, Ken Montgomery, Christian Marclay, Isaac Jackson and the Bonus Break Artists.  Since the release of this compilation in 2001, the idea of the mix and the methods in which one creates a remix has drastically evolved.  Harvetsworks, a digital media arts center based in New York, is hosting this competition, and seeks to create a dialogue between DJ’s, electronic producers, and experimental artists.

For this exhibition, artists are asked to create an original remix of the tracks provided that utilizes an innovative mixing method. The creations will be submitted to soundcloud.com/groups/harvestworks-tellus-tools-remix-competition/dropbox by April 3rd 2013. Each creation will be posted publicly and reviewed by the Harvestworks Curatorial Panel. The selected creations will be exhibited in Harvestworksʻ Studio C.