RSVP HERE: Automatic stream via Bandcamp + MORE

Automatic are an LA post-punk three piece composed of Izzy Glaudini on synths/vocals, Lola Dompé on drums/vocals, and Halle Saxon on bass/vocals. Their 2019 debut record Signal sounds like Suicide and Broadcast formed a supergroup to play at the end of a David Lynch film.

I spent a month in LA last February and my only regret is not catching their minimal synth soaked vibes live. Luckily they’re playing a few Bandcamp livestreams – the first being tonight at 7pm ET! – leading up to the release of their remix album out March 26, featuring new versions of Signal tracks from artists like Sudan Archives, Peaking Lights, John Dwyer, and Peanut Butter Wolf. We chatted with Automatic about records they will never get tired of, watching The Parent Trap 500 times, and custom fretless bass magic.

AF: How was the writing and recording process of your debut record?

HS: It was such a blast. We recorded with my boyfriend Joo-Joo Ashworth at Studio 22 and it was just so fun that we’re doing it again for album #2.

IG: It’s interesting to write so collaboratively because ideas evolve quickly and change as they’re passed between members of the band. You learn to be open to songs evolving. And we’re all pretty close so it’s fun. 

LD: Recording is my favorite part of the whole process because you get to really hear your song for the first time and add all the fun details. Writing with Halle and Izzy is amazing.  We’ve always made an effort to create a safe and fun space for writing. I think we work really well together, and songwriting pretty much happens very naturally. 

AF: How did your upcoming remix album come together?

IG: Peanut Butter Wolf, who runs [our] label [Stones Throw], suggested it as something to release during these unholy Corona Times.  We contacted artists we knew and loved and had them rework the songs however they wanted. Remixes are fun because other people do all the work. 

AF: What are your favorite pieces of gear? 

HS: My favorite piece of gear is my old Egmond bass that someone manually ripped the frets out of. I don’t play it anymore cuz I changed its magic strings and now it sounds terrible. But it’s a relic that I’ll keep forever and has nothing but also everything to do with my current bass sound.

IG: Maracas, the Holy Grail reverb, and my Moog Sub25 synth.

LD: I just superglued a Roland trigger to my kick drum and I love it! You can make it trigger any sound you like. 

AF: What non-musical things inspire you?

IG: My boyfriend has a cat named Pepe, and he’s got such a lust for life. Prowling animals in general.

LD: Fashion, movies and nature.

AF: What movies would you watch over and over again?

HS: Izzy and I both watch the LOTR trilogy on a regular basis.

IG: The sweet inner child in me likes LOTR and anything with magic. The dark demon inside wants to watch American Psycho or Repulsion

LD: I watched The Parent Trap probably 500 times from age 9 to 11. These days I like to watch a movie once… unless it’s Love Actually around Christmas time. 

AF: What’s a record that you’ll never get sick of?

HS: I’ll never get sick of Neu! or Suicide self-titled albums.

IG: David Bowie’s LOW.

LG: David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.

AF: What are your favorite bands to play with and/or see live?

HS: I think we all agree: Bauhaus. But I also loved watching Black Marble every night, one of my favorite bands.

IG: Yeah! Also, hmm. John Dwyer is always a maniac. He practices in the room across from us at our rehearsal space so we get to hear free Oh Sees shows.

LD: Oh Sees are always fun, and I definitely never thought I would get to open for Bauhaus! I got to play with my friend’s band, Body Double, and I was super impressed by their music and show. 

AF: What was your last show before COVID?

HS: Opening for Shopping at 1720 in Los Angeles! We had just circled back to LA and were about to pass it again when shit hit the fan. So we were extremely lucky in that scenario! I know a lot of people that were caught in terrible tour situations that day that basically everything shut down. 

AF: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in the past year? 

HS: That capitalism is killing the earth and humans (duh, but I didn’t really get it before).

IG: I second that. I got pretty heavy into social/political theory. Chomsky, Marx, Foucault, Zizek. On a ‘chiller’ level, I got into yoga and meditation. 

LD: Staying open and curious and learning to love myself more. 

AF: What are your hopes for the next year? Next 5 years? 

HS: That everyone stops using Amazon.

LD: That people respect the earth and each other way more, so that humans, nature and animals can get their basic needs met. 

IG: Yeah it would be great if humanity stopped cannibalizing itself. But I’m down to make the soundtrack to whatever unfolds. 

RSVP HERE for Automatic via Bandcamp on 2/12 at 7pm ET.

More great livestreams this week…

2/12 Teeburr, Kola Champagne, Survivor Guilt (DJ Set)  via Elsewhere TV. 6pm Et, RSVP HERE 

2/12 Hyphenate with No Age’s Randy Randall, DJ sets by Action Bronson, Japanese Breakfast, Laura Jane Grace & more via Vans Channel 66 “On The Air.” 11am ET RSVP HERE

2/13 Proper, Eli¡ via 6pm ET, $5, RSVP HERE

2/13 Mogwai via their website. 3pm ET, £15.00, RSVP HERE

2/13 Yeek, Jay Som, Ginger Root, Sosupersam via YouTube (88rising Lunar New Year). 9pm ET, RSVP HERE

2/14 Smashing Pumpkins, AWOLNATION, Portugal. The Man, Twin Peaks & more via JBTV Revolution Television Virtual Music Festival. 3pm ET, RSVP HERE

2/15 Shelter Dogs via FLTV. 8pm ET, RSVP HERE

2/16 Talib Kweli book launch via MURMRR. 7:30pm ET, $33, RSVP HERE

2/18 GZA, Scott Bolton, Sudan Archives, Quintron’s Weather Warlock, Via Imara via Atlas Obscura Rogue Routes. 8pm ET, RSVP HERE

INTERVIEW: Billy Corgan on Epic Smashing Pumpkins Career, Cyr & Mellon Collie Sequel

Photo Credit: Jonathan Weiner

Twenty-five years ago, the Smashing Pumpkins released Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness, an epic double album packed with ferocious industrial-style rock like “Zero” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” but also with nostalgic, sentimental tracks, fuzzy with youthful romance, like “1979” and “Tonight, Tonight.” It entranced a generation of teenagers seeking escape from the daily ordinariness of their lives.

Mellon Collie, released in October 1995 – the third album for the foursome, following 1991 debut Gish and 1993 breakout Siamese Dream – debuted at number one on the US Billboard charts, still the only Pumpkins album to do so. It would go on to be certified Diamond by the RIAA, meaning it has sold more than 10 million copies. Produced by Flood and Alan Moulder, the sound was – as Flood is known for – anthemic, authentic and huge.

“We were just so focused on being successful on our own terms…we weren’t seeing much past 1995, honestly,” recalls Corgan, 53. “The label had pushed other people, more ‘successful’ rock producers, and I turned them all down. Flood was my personal choice. His work with Depeche Mode, U2, Nitzer Ebb, PJ Harvey – he’s a great human being and a great producer. He’d suggested Alan Moulder, since they were very close friends, so that’s how we ended up with the triumvirate of me, Flood and Alan.”

Corgan had announced to the label, Virgin Records, that he intended on recording a double album; they immediately tried to talk him out of it. Unsuccessfully, obviously. The fame that followed the success of Mellon Collie was a surprise to the band, which then consisted of Corgan, guitarist James Iha, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and bassist D’arcy Wretzky.

“I don’t think we were really prepared for that level of attention,” says Corgan. “We’d come from the indie world. To be famous in the indie world, you’d play to a thousand people and your friends knew who you were. Suddenly, you’re on the cover of the most mainstream magazines and they’re asking you the dumbest fucking questions. Anyone who’s wise goes along with it because they want to get more famous, but we, of course, thought it was all kinda stupid, so we resisted it and probably made it more complicated for ourselves.”

Touring behind Mellon Collie created strain for the band; Chamberlin was fired after suffering a heroin overdose in New York City with the band’s touring keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin, who died. Though Chamberlin returned to the band in 1999, Wretzky was replaced by Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur that same year, before the Pumpkins broke up “for good” in 2000. Various reunions and side projects in the years since have reconfigured the lineup with some original members, though Corgan has been the group’s only constant.

While Wretzky has rejected offers to reunite with the band, Corgan and Iha have remained especially close. “We were friends early on and connected very deeply on music,” Corgan explains. “As we’ve grown into very different types of people, it’s more like brothers. You don’t totally understand your brother, and I don’t think he totally understands me, but the thing we really connect on – the music – is the thing that’s always brought us back to the table.” Rather than the excesses of rock stardom, conversations are tame these days. “We mostly talk about family,” says Corgan. “He has two children, I have two, and Jimmy Chamberlin has two. It’s mostly like ‘elder dad talk’, or something.”

I saw Mellon Collie performed live in Melbourne in the late 1990s, where the album songs translated effortlessly to the live environment, I tell Corgan.

“It was actually Flood who insisted that the band who made Mellon Collie was more like the live band than the studio band,” Corgan says. “He wanted the live ferocity on record. He insisted that we try to capture that and we went out of our way to try to do that. Performances of the Mellon Collie album were an extension of that philosophy, which was: the darker and heavier we were, the better.”

The cost of the darkness and heaviness was a burden though, which Corgan can reflect on in the clarity of time.

“I think if you go out in front of ten thousand people and you create chaos, just because you stop playing the concert, it doesn’t mean the chaos in your head ends,” he says. “I do think it opens the door to a lot of bad behavior. You end up self-medicating to try to control something that really can’t be controlled. To go into that kind of energetic chaos on a routine basis makes for good art, but it’s definitely not healthy.”

Corgan admits he was in therapy for years, took “many spiritual journeys,” and yet maintains that there’s no way to truly understand what that kind of fame does to you until you’ve been through it.

“Human beings, at least in the 20th and 21st centuries, have come to worship fame as the ultimate currency,” says Corgan. “There’s no psychological manual for that, so only God can translate that, in my experience, into something more powerful and potent and less dependent on whether or not you’re being approved of or loved.”

To that end, the newest Smashing Pumpkins release, Cyr, has received mixed critical responses.

Corgan’s intention for Cyr was to invite listeners further into his imagination – beyond purely music-enabled communion – via a visual and animated dimension to the album. The album’s 20 tracks were released in increments over three months.

Notably, Cyr is the first Smashing Pumpkins album since Mellon Collie that unites the trio of Chamberlin, Iha and Corgan. Far from the angst-fueled, exploding hormones and extraordinary dream-like world of Mellon Collie, Cyr is almost a throwback to ’80s synth-glam pop. It’s not quite the darkness and romance of Depeche Mode, nor does it recall the gothic influences Corgan loved as a teen. What it’s not matters, because it seems to have cut off the limbs of a body of music that Corgan and Iha grew up obsessed with: Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure. Cyr is sugar-coated in digital wizardry: The synth samples, the handclaps, the perfectly aligned tempo, melody, and harmony that is made easy when watching a timeline on a computer. It is the sound of Corgan discovering and delighting in technology, so that some of the tracks sound like old Apogee games.

In comparison to the vulnerability, the clashing and contrasting beauty and rage of Mellon Collie, Cyr is glossy, glitchy surfaces that, while catchy, fall a bit short of the brain-tingling, synapse-exploding miniature universes that Mellon Collie surprised us with 25 years ago.

But fear not. Corgan and the two remaining members of the Smashing Pumpkins are currently in the process of recording a double-album sequel to Mellon Collie, that, like the original, offers 33 songs. Iha is recording his parts in Los Angeles, while Corgan and Chamberlain are recording theirs in a studio near Corgan’s home just outside Chicago.

What will the double album sequel to Mellon Collie reveal? Does Cyr give an indication that the next iteration will be digital, algorithm-driven and animated? Or is Cyr a red herring, designed to lull listeners into a safe place before Mellon Collie 2.0 smashes all our assumptions and predictions? We won’t know until it arrives, likely some time in 2021. But Corgan is at peace with how fans respond to his work, past, present, or future.

“If I create something that you love, and the next person hates, it’s kind of the same thing to me,” he says. “The human mind always wants approval, but I don’t operate on those precepts. Of course, I’d prefer you to like the record and what I’m doing, but it doesn’t have anything to do with why I do it.”

That’s between Corgan, his guitar and his God.

Follow The Smashing Pumpkins on Facebook for ongoing updates.

Bizou Premieres Stilllifeburning EP For a World on Fire

Photo Credit: Kristin Cofer

It’s one of those days. The sun is bright, but the news is bad and everyone’s eyes are on the clouds, peering from the windows of our hermetically-sealed homes, perfectly composed as if to somehow stave off chaos. On the surface, things almost seem normal, even as a slow-moving blaze encroaches. Enter post-punk outfit Bizou, with their latest EP Stilllifeburning: a fierce, yet plaintive collection of darkwave vignettes made for those solitary hours in a world on fire.

While Bizou’s sound has an inherent freshness to it, the LA-based quintet is comprised of veteran musicians – singer Marissa Prietto (Wax Idols, Glaare), multi-instrumentalist/producer Josiah Mazzaschi (Light FM), bassist Nicole Fiorentino (Cold and Lovely, Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt), drummer Erin Tidwell (Tennis System, Jennie Vee) and guitarist Nicki Nevlin (Light FM). Time and experience has clearly benefited the band, as each single on Stilllifeburning comes across as the perfect synth soundtrack for days spent daydreaming about nights downtown, rubbing elbows with leather-clad shoe-gazers, eating ramen in the early hours after a show.

It begins on an urgent note: “Now there’s crashing sky / in your green eyes / a crashing sky / crushing you, crushing me too,” Prietto sings, apocalyptic visions swimming in the mirrored reflection of her lover’s eyes. “Burn Your Name” takes us racing down a darkened street, looking for a shadow, a memory of the person she once knew: “Fire to change you / fire to tame you / fire to burn your name / fire to chase you / fire to save you / fire to burn your name.” “Kiss The Stars” taps into the slow burn of a doomed romance; the lofty synths and Prietto’s sullen, wistful vocals give off some killer Say Anything vibes, if Lloyd Dobler had been really into to The Cure. Stilllifeburning is a story told in the alleyways, neon lights blaring in the windows of a club; it immediately gives off the sensation of watching a silent film, faint images flickering with only music to accompany each scene. Prietto hints at watching that disintegration from afar on “Trapdoor” as well as in a press statement about the record as a whole that uses the same metaphor: “If you could dive into the subconscious of another person totally separate from you, as if through a trapdoor — that to me would describe the feeling of these songs,” says singer Marisa Prietto.

Listen to AudioFemme’s exclusive stream of Stilllifeburning below and read our interview with the band.

AF: As a band, your pedigree is fire. How has the experience of working together in Bizou differed from past projects?

JM: We were all friends first so it’s very platonic in this band. We’re all really easygoing. and have many similar musical tastes.

NF: It always feels very natural working with these three. There’s a lightness to it, a flow that hasn’t necessarily been there in every project I’ve been in. It makes it really easy and fun to be creative!

NN: This has by far been one of my favorite experiences with a band. we get along so well and we are pretty much 100% on the same page about everything. It’s kind of rare!

MP: It’s really different starting a band from scratch as opposed to entering an established band with existing dynamics and work flow. I think that has made collaborating really easy for us. There is no hierarchy. Regardless of which of us brings in a song or an idea, we all have equal input on how that idea is ultimately executed.

AF: What aspect of the song-writing process is your favorite? A hook, a line, a melody? The moment someone layers on a sound that gives it that certain something?

JM: A lot of our songs stem from Marisa’s or my demos. When Marisa sends me a demo I get excited to chop her song ideas up in Pro Tools and add my own parts and melodies.

NN: I love the process of creating guitar lines with Josiah. Also love the moment the vocals are laid down on the track – you can hear the magic come together.

MP: I love it when Josiah chops up my songs. It always makes them exponentially better. As a singer it’s satisfying for me to discover a hook, but arranging and listening to my bandmates lay down their parts is my favorite.

AF: Tell us about the genesis of this new EP. You’re just released your self-titled debut last year. What did you go into the studio hoping to convey?

JM: I’m always in the studio, so for me my approach was trying to dedicate as much attention to detail and critical listening that I give to all the projects that walk into my studio.

MP: This EP is so different from our last one. The demos started from this much moodier, and I wanna say, straightforwardly post-punk sound. We wanted to mess with that format and tweak it until it became something more our own.

AF: Which song is the most personal to each of you and why?

JM: I really like how “Burn Your Name” turned out. It sounds like a goth Go-Go’s song! Marisa’s vocals sometimes reminds me of Belinda Carlisle.

NN: I think “Call of the Wild” will always have a special place in my heart because it’s the one that brought us all together.

MP: “Kiss the Stars” is the most personal for me. It’s a catastrophic breakup song sourced from one of my first-ever demos. I felt vulnerable bringing it to the group. The lyrics aren’t as distanced or metaphorical as some of the ones I write. It makes it a little unnerving to perform live sometimes which I guess isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

AF: At what age did each of you start playing music and what were your first songs about?

JM: I started playing drums when I was 12 in band and then in punk/hardcore and industrial bands in my later teens.

NF: About 14, I started playing bass. I was really into riot grrrl at that time so all my songs were about feminism!

NN: I started playing guitar at 13 and only played Hole and Breeders songs over and over in my bedroom!

MP: I started playing piano and doing voice lessons when I was 8 but I didn’t write any songs until I was like … 28? Seriously. And I didn’t play any of them for ANYONE until I was in my 30s. Late to the party but happy to be here.

AF: You have such a clear, distinctive sound and style as a band. Do you ever write a song or hook and you’re like: “Damn, this is not a Bizou song. This is totally Roy Orbison.”

JM: I’m always throwing song ideas at the band. If I write something that doesn’t sound like us they’re usually like, “nah.”

NN: Sometimes something super clubby will come out of the studio, which is a lovely surprise!

MP: Me and Josiah pass around demos all the time and sometimes we are like fuck this is cool but this is completely, like, not a Bizou song. Josiah makes so much music it’s insane, and not limited to any particular genre, which I love. Going forward I’d like to incorporate more of that, and take more risks with our sound. I don’t think want to be confined to a specific genre.

AF: What bands/music inspire you, but are out of Bizou’s genre?

JM: I’ve been working with this industrial/post-punk band called Aurat. They sing in Urdu. It’s really unique. They are within our genre but their background is definitely different but cool!

NF: Neko Case, Tegan and Sara, Nina Simone, Jenny Lewis, Fleetwood Mac.

MP: I’m not even sure what our genre is, but if I had to guess, it’s goth and goth-adjacent? I’m actually scrolling through my most recently played stuff and I it’s chaotic as usual: Clinic, Ariana Grande, Cleaners from Venus, Material Issue, Eartheather, Hunny, Holly Herndon. I don’t even know what to make of that.

AF: You’re an LA-based band. What about the city gets you going creatively? Any favorite spots?

JM: So many amazing bands from all around the world come here. It really is a global melting pot. Inspiring!

NF: My favorite spots are The Bootleg, The Hi Hat, Satellite. There are so many great venues here it’s hard to list! We have an incredibly supportive community. I’ve always felt that way living here. It doesn’t feel competitive here the way it does in some other major cities.

MP: I grew up in and around LA. As cheesy as it sounds, I do get a lot of creative inspiration from being here because I am bonded to the place and it really has always felt like home. Even in my worst times I’ve always felt in control and empowered just like, driving around on the freeways here because I know them so well. Being here gives me a sense of continuity that makes me feel grounded enough to stay creative.

AF: With Coronavirus keeping everyone at home, have ya’ll been meeting up via video chat? Are you still writing or just taking a break for the moment?

JM: I’m working from home and not in my studio. I’ve busted out an old 4-track recorder from my garage and have turned my couch into my studio.

NF: Just taking a little time to reflect on everything that’s going on in the world and how it affects me, my loved ones, our community. I think there’s gonna be a lot of amazing art that comes out of this time. But I also think it’s important to slow down for a minute while we can (and have to). Really puts a lot of things into perspective. Already I’m seeing the things I’ve taken for granted and already I can see the ways I am going to be different after all is said and done.

MP: I’ve definitely been writing— it all sounds like shit though! Until we can get into the studio with Josiah, it’s going to remain sounding like shit, and I am going to keep writing, because I need something to do with my hands in the time of Corona. I think we do have a band FaceTime scheduled in the next couple days. I miss everyone. I miss playing together.

Preorder Stilllifeburning HERE. Follow Bizou on Facebook for ongoing updates. 

NEWS ROUNDUP: No More Hate…Policy, YouTube Copyright & More

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Prince would’ve turned 60 on 6/7; his estate will release Piano and a Microphone 1983 in September.

No More Hate…Policy, New Releases & More

By Jasmine Williams

Spotify Says “JK!”

In a continuation of last week’s story, Spotify has completely walked back their recently introduced “hateful content and conduct” policy. The streaming giant announced their decision via a blog post stating that they “don’t aim to play judge and jury” and citing “vague” language that created “confusion and concern” as the reason for abandoning the policy. Critics of the policy accused the platform of censorship and racism; the first and only three artists singled out by the rule were R. Kelly, Tay-K, and XXXTentacion – black males, not yet convicted of their accused crimes.

Spotify’s decision to rescind their policy has also been met with criticism. While only a half measure – the “hate conduct” rule seemed like a step in the right direction for many involved in the #MeToo movement. While Spotify cites ethical reasons for cancelling its new rule, the action could also be seen as yet another example of the music industry pandering to money over the fight against misogyny and sexual harassment. Spofity’s decision to reverse the policy came only days after it was reported that Top Dawg Entertainment (Kendrick Lamar’s label) threatened to remove their artists’ music from the app, while Pitchfork’s Jillian Mapes points out that Sony (R. Kelly’s record label) is a Spotify shareholder.

YouTube Vs. Copyright Infringement

In a preliminary ruling with potentially big implications, the Vienna Commercial Court found that YouTube is at least partly liable for copyright infringement in videos uploaded by the streaming platform’s independent users. YouTube says that it does what it can to prevent copyright-infringing videos from remaining on the site, but that as a “neutral platform” it can’t completely control its users or the content they upload. The court disagrees, thanks to that innocuous little “Up Next” sidebar to the right of the main video that suggests additional content based on whatever the viewer happens to be watching, or has watched in the past. Because the courts see this as helping to determine what viewers watch, they say it nullifies YouTube’s neutrality.

What does all of this mean? It means YouTube could be forced to ramp up its monitoring efforts or face strict fines. Though the hearing in question revolved around Austrian TV channel Puls4, this could change what users see (and upload) on the streaming site the world over.

Meanwhile, the infamous “Dancing Baby” case has been settled after eleven years of back-and-forth between Universal Music and a mom who uploaded a video of her toddler getting his groove on while Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” played in their kitchen. With the kid in question about to enter middle school, the Vienna ruling might’ve put blame on the shoulders of YouTube itself.

Oldies but Goodies?

A recent survey in Britain came to the conclusion that most people stop listening to new music after the age of thirty. Music streaming service, Deezer, surveyed 1,000 people and found that more than sixty percent of them mainly listened to music they discovered before the big 3-0.

Break out of the mold and check out brand new music below!

That New New

Shannon and the Clams vocalist and namesake Shannon Shaw released her solo album, Shannon in Nashville, today. She’ll play some solo shows before reconnecting with her band for live shows this summer.

Yesterday Prince would have turned 60. Perhaps in memory of the occasion, his estate announced the upcoming release of Piano & A Microphone 1983, an album of stripped back, previously unheard music.

Lily Allen stays real on her brand new album, No Shame.

Smashing Pumpkins reunited for “Solara,” their first new single in more than fifteen years!

Death Grips shared the newest track from Year of the Snitch and confirmed the release date for the LP (6/22).

End Notes

  • Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s new album, Kids See Ghosts, released last night via another livestream via another app.
  • A 55-year old original John Coltrane recording has been unearthed and will see release by the end of the month.
  • Afropunk announced their full Brooklyn lineup, including “Special Guest TBA”  Kaytranada!
  • Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon launched a new platform and used it to release music from a new project.
  • M. Ward released surprise LP What A Wonderful Industry, putting to song 20-plus years of music industy beef.
  • Queen mother Dolly Parton announced an upcoming Netflix series based on her songs.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Black Panther, The Recording Academy & More

  • Black Panther Controversy

    Black Panther doesn’t hit American screens until today, but Kendrick Lamar’s soundtrack for the film is already dominating music news for its star-studded collaborations and a copyright controversy. The album, which will soon be released on vinyl and cassette, features SZA, Vince Staples, the Weeknd, Schoolboy Q, James Blake, and many more. Yesterday, Jay Rock released the video for “King’s Dead,” his Black Panther track with Lamar, Future, and Blake. This latest single follows the debut of lead single “All the Stars” (featuring SZA), which has been the main source of the controversy; the creators behind its video have recently been accused of plagiarizing the work of British-Liberian visual artist Lina Iris Viktor for the clip’s imagery. She and her lawyer say that her painting series, “Constellation,” which features gold patterns and black female figures, was copied for a section of the video. The comparisons do seem too similar to be a coincidence, and in fact, Viktor alleges she was contacted by the “All the Stars” team about using her work but she declined to give permission – not once, but twice. The issue opens up a multi-layered debate about artistic license and usage (remember “Hotline Bling” and James Turrell?). Viktor told the New York Times, “It’s an ethical issue, because what the whole film purports is that it’s about black empowerment, African excellence — that’s the whole concept of the story. And at the same time they’re stealing from African artists.”

    Check out Lina Iris Viktor’s work below and then hit the three-minute mark in the video to compare.

  • Congratulations On Your Efforts… Not!

    In an attempt to make themselves look slightly better, the Recording Academy have given another lackluster response to the lack of female representation at The Grammys. In a letter to members, they present a challenge to USC Annenberg’s findings on gender disparity in the music industry. The study noted that among major categories in the Grammy’s between 2012-2017, only 9.3 percent of nominees were female. The Academy points out that these numbers only included Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, and Non-Classical Producer of the Year. If you take all of the Grammy categories into account then the percentage of women is a whopping seventeen percent!

  • Other Highlights

    Borns plays Terminal 5 tonight. Beach House released a new song this week; “Lemon Glow” will appear on their next album, which is slated for a springtime release. Frank Ocean also has a new track release, but it’s an oldie. Listen to his cover of “Moon River” below. “Black Kennedy” is the latest from mega-group August Greene (featuring Common, Robert Glasper, and Karriem Riggens). Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds will release a documentary film of a Copenhagen concert. Distant Sky will have a one-time screening around the world on April 12th. The next day, Brazilian Girls will release Let’s Make Love, their first album in a decade! They recently unveiled the video for “Pirates.” The band will embark on a short US tour, starting with Williamsburg Hall of Music on May 5th. Sleigh Bells are staying busy! On Tuesday, they played at Brooklyn Steel. They’ll return to New York in July for opening slots on an upcoming tour with Weezer and the Pixies. The Smashing Pumpkins are celebrating their 30th anniversary with a North American summer tour. Kook Keith’s alter-ego, Dr. Octoagon, is back after more than two decades! He reunites with DJ Qbert and Dan the Automator for the song, “Octagon Octagon.” Zola Jesus and Yves Tumor play an immersive performance at House of Vans next week on February 23rd. On Valentine’s Day, Kanye West reactivated his Instagram account by posting many, many pictures of celebrity couples. He’s since deleted that account and bid farewell to social media again.

ONLY NOISE: Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a controversial holiday with a wretched color scheme. The Hallmark credo of thankfulness is thin when stretched against this country’s historical relationship with Native Americans. The shirking of materialism is undercut when Black Friday rolls around. To many, Thanksgiving is merely a day to get tanked, watch college football, and shout about politics with Uncle Larry.

Holidays are hard for me. I’m not religious, my family lives 3,000 miles away, and if I did live closer to them, I’d have to decide which half to celebrate with. I don’t like the premise of most holidays either – the fact that we need a nationally ordained day to eat a meal together and be thankful has cynical implications – as if we aren’t thankful for the food we share together the remaining days of the calendar year. As you know, I could easily play the curmudgeon and pick these things apart to forever, but there is one thing Thanksgiving has going for itself that I just can’t knock: the food!

A delicious meal is a delicious meal, and I’m thankful for all of them, but Thanksgiving dinner is a particularly iconic spread of dishes only Americans can understand – like, say, canned cranberry sauce and mini marshmallow encrusted sweet potatoes. The Turkey Day smorgasbord is vast and overwhelming; gluttonous and nap inducing. In fact, it is so immense that I’ve put together a soundtrack to help us waddle through each course.

The Turkey

We don’t call it “Turkey Day” for nothin.’ You don’t have to hang your kids hand-traced paper turkey art on your fridge each year for nothin’ either. The turkey is the main event on Thanksgiving, and whether you’re the one butchering it, cooking it, or simply eating it, the big bird that goes “gobble gobble” is going to affect your life this week. So why not give the poor bird a song? “Stuffy Turkey” by Thelonious Monk is a great place to start – a classy jazz number to score the bird’s arrival, all glazed and brown and stuffed. Follow it up with the frantic “Turkey Chase” by Bob Dylan as you and your family members squabble over precious dark meat morsels. And finally, blast Butthole Surfers’ “Turkey and Dressing,” which will provide the necessary aggression to finish your plate of food, and weather Uncle Larry’s xenophobic rants.


When Peaches sings, “I see you sittin’ and stuffin’ your face/Why don’t you stuff me up?” on 2003’s “Stuff Me Up,” she is clearly personifying the Turkey in your kitchen, begging to be filled with breadcrumb dressing, aka “stuffing.”

See also: “Stuffy Turkey.”

Mashed Potatoes

What would Thanksgiving be without a vat of butter sodden mashed potatoes? Just another Thursday, that’s what. There are a lot of songs that pay tribute to the “mashed potato,” referring to the wildly popular 1960s dance move. Rufus Thomas’ “Mashed Potatoes,” however, is a tune that rightfully exalts potatoes in their many forms, be they “French fried potatoes” or the titular, macerated kind. For purists, The Ventures’ ode to the side dish, “Mashed Potato Time” has but two lyrics: “Mashed” and “Potatoes.”


It appears that Dee Dee Sharp’s “Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)” may be a grotesque sexual innuendo, but at least it’s spot on for Thanksgiving Dinner. Like Sharp, we likely won’t get through the evening without shouting, “C’mon baby/I want some gravy!”

Rock n’ roll has been good to gravy, as there are countless songs that reference the rightful sidekick to turkey and mashed potatoes. Gravy grooves range from the instructional (Paul Kelly’s “How To Make Gravy”), traditional (George Benson’s “Giblet Gravy”), and of course, the addictive (“Nicotine & Gravy” by Beck).

Sweet Potatoes

The idiosyncratic orange cousin of russet potatoes, sweet potatoes come in many forms. Baked whole, sliced au gratin, glazed, and of course: mashed and smothered in tiny marshmallows. In the music world, sweet potatoes seem to have as much clout – and erotic overtones – as gravy. As Lonnie Johnson sings in the searing “Sweet Potato Blues,” “If you want sweet potatoes/Bake it in my pan.” For a less raunchy take, check out Pete Seeger’s family-friendly “Soon As We All Cook Sweet Potatoes.”

Green Bean Casserole

There is an unjust deficit of green bean songs on the Internet, and even fewer that mention the congealed, Turkey Day staple we refer to as Green Bean Casserole. What I have found in the musical spirit of hericots verts has been pretty dismal. Especially “Green Beans,” a warbled electro cut that slanders its namesake ingredient by repeating, “I don’t like green beans” through a vocoder too many times. The most practical application of this song would be as a punishment for children who don’t eat their vegetables. Weary parents of picky eaters should make them listen to it fifty times in a row.

Cranberry Sauce

If you thought there weren’t enough songs about green beans, then you’ll be horrified by the dearth of cranberry sauce ditties. Such a peculiar condiment deserves to be memorialized in song. Alas, the closest we can get to an aural rendering of that red, gelatinous cylinder is ‘90s Irish alt-group The Cranberries. Their catalogue may be pretty food-reference-free, but songs like “Ode To My Family” and “No Need To Argue” fit perfectly with the relatives-around-the-table theme of Turkey Day. And who could forget “Linger” – the band’s biggest hit, which could very well reference the relentless food coma that looms post-feast.

Pumpkin Pie

Last, but certainly not least in our festive meal is dessert. Though different tribes may take their coffee with a variety of sweets, pumpkin pie is the poster pudding for Thanksgiving. It is also (much like mashed potatoes, gravy, and sweet potatoes before) a euphemism for genitalia. Look no further than The California Honeydrops’ ditty “Pumpkin Pie” (off of the subtly titled Spreadin’ Honey LP), which begs in a brazenly possessive manner, “Won’t you save all your pumpkin pie just for me, girl?” A similar winking nastiness can be found in Bob Dylan’s 1969 number “Country Pie,” which nods to pies of pumpkin, and many other flavors. Let’s just pretend these songs really are about pie for one night, what do ya say? Your family will thank you for it.



With a name inspired by a Kafka story, it makes sense The Harrow would be well-spoken. Yet even with the bar set high the mysterious Brooklyn coldwave/post-punk band impressed with their bewitchingly intelligent interview. The Harrow is Vanessa Irena (vocals, synth, programming), Frank Deserto (bass, synth, machines), Barrett Hiatt (synth, programming) and Greg Fasolino (guitar). They are currently working on an upcoming LP that we’re already gnawing to hear. I spoke with our Artist of the Month about gothic art, nerdy influences, and selectivity of gigs.

AudioFemme: How did you guys meet and form a band?

Barrett: We all seemed to have traveled in the same circles for some years, and it seemed like it was only a matter of time for this band to come to fruition. Frank and I became close friends during our previous band, and we had shared stages with Greg’s previous band as well. Vanessa and Frank met through their respective DJ gigs, and the timing just felt right. Frank had some demos kicking around, I jumped in and we started fleshing things out. We then invited Greg to add his signature sound, and Vanessa was the perfect last piece to the puzzle.

AF: Who do you look up to as musical inspirations?

Frank: As far as sound is concerned, bands like Cindytalk, And Also the Trees, Breathless, Cranes, For Against, and of course, The Cure and Cocteau Twins are hugely inspirational, as well as most of the players in the French coldwave and early 4AD movement. Belgian new beat and ’90s electronica have been influences that I’m not quite sure have fully manifested yet, but are definitely something I’d love to explore further in the coming years.

Greg: For me, the 4AD sonic universe is definitely a place we all intersect and Cocteau Twins are the ultimate touchstone. As a musician, I am particularly influenced by classic ’80s post-punk bands like The Chameleons, Comsat Angels, Banshees, Bunnymen, Sad Lovers & Giants, and The Sound, as well as ’90s genres like shoegaze (Slowdive, Pale Saints, MBV), trip-hop (Massive Attack, Portishead), and alt-rock (Smashing Pumpkins, Suede, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley). Lately I am very inspired by a lot of modern neo-shoegaze bands, who seem to be carrying the torch for dreamy, effects-heavy music now that much of the post-punk revival has dissipated, as well as more atmospheric metal stuff like Agalloch and Deftones/Crosses and creative, hard-to-categorize bands like HTRK and Braids.

B: I’m not sure if I can get through an interview without mentioning Trent Reznor, but he has always inspired me, through his recording methods as well as his choice of collaboration, and just his general attitude towards music. Of course: David Bowie, Chris Corner, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, The Cure. I do have a tendency to lean on bands from the ’80s.

Vanessa: I’m a huge fan of Karin Dreijer Andersson (Fever Ray, The Knife) and Elizabeth Bernholz (Gazelle Twin). These days I’m mostly listening to techno and textural stuff (Ancient Methods, Klara Lewis, Vatican Shadow, Function, Profligate, OAKE, Adam X, Mondkopf, etc.).

AF: What about other artists: poets, painters, writers – who else has influenced your sound?

F: Literary influences are as important to me as musical influences. There’s the obvious surrealist and nightmarish nods to Kafka, but other authors such as Isak Dinesen, Robert Aickman, Albert Camus, Charles Baudelaire, and William Blake have inspired the lyrics I’ve written for the band, some more directly than others. As for art, the same applies; Francis Bacon seems almost too obvious to mention, but his work is incredibly moving. Francisco De Goya as well. I’m also drawn heavily to bleak, medieval religious art, usually depicting the crueler aspects of Christianity. Perhaps a bit cliché as far as gothic influences are concerned, but lots of imagery to draw upon.

B: David Lynch, John Carpenter, Jim Jarmusch, Anton Corbijn, just to name a few. These guys paint wonderful pictures through film, and I always find it very inspiring.

V: Frank and I have pretty similar tastes in art, so I definitely agree with him on the above, but I think it’s worth mentioning that we’re also all a bunch of huge fucking nerds. I’m not ashamed to admit that lyrical inspiration for me can come just as easily from The Wheel of Time or an episode of Star Trek: TNG as it does from Artaud.

AF: What do you credit to be your muse?

F: My bandmates.

G: Posterity.

V: My shitty life/Being a woman.

B: Dreaming.

AF: Blogs love labels, but how would you describe your music?

F: I don’t ever attest to reinventing the wheel. We all draw from different influences and I mostly consider our sound to be a blend of shoegaze/dream pop, 4AD, and early ’80s post-punk vibes. We generally err on the dreamier side but have no qualms with getting aggressive if the mood calls for it. At this point in the game, creating a new sound is out of the question, but our varied tastes and interests have led to some cross-pollination of genres that hopefully proves to be interesting amidst dozens of modern bands operating in a similar medium.

B: I’m still trying to get a little saxophone in there.

AF: Will you speak to the darker element of your style?

F: Operating in this medium is less of a conscious choice for me than it is a catharsis. Therapy in a sense – a method of expressing otherwise unpleasant thoughts and feelings to make something creative, rather than letting my shadow side consume me.

B: Darkness is way more interesting. And real.

AF: If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?

F: At this point, the idea of collaborating with someone famous is an overwhelming thought. Sorry for the cop out, but I can say that we’re looking forward to some collaborations from some of our peers, both original and in remix form. More on this as it develops!

B: Sorry Frank, but I’m going with Pee-Wee Herman.

AF: Will you tell me about your current LP you’re working on?

F: We spent the majority of 2014 hunkering down and working on the record. We recorded Silhouettes in piecemeal form over the course of the year, layering synths and guitars and drums as they fell into place. The record is currently in the can and is being mixed as we speak by the uber-talented Xavier Paradis, and will hopefully see release this fall via aufnahme + wiedergabe.

AF: How does it differentiate from previous work?

F: The new record is incredibly diverse – there are ambient segues, the occasional industrial/hip-hop hybrids, and plenty of other eclectic sounds to go around. There are more complex rhythms that are the result of Vanessa and Barrett’s superior drum programming talents, for starters. We also took turns writing lyrics this time around, with Barrett, Vanessa, and I all contributing. It’s truly The Harrow as it’s meant to be – a band hitting their stride as a full working unit with equal love and collaboration driving us.

AF: Can we expect any live shows for you in the future?

B: While we enjoy playing live from time to time, it isn’t the primary focus of the band. We are at points in our lives where making the music is more important and rewarding in and of itself than performing it on stage. Our goal with the band leans much more toward the creative side. When we do play though, we want to make sure it is an event, and something to look forward to, not just the typical four random bands on a Tuesday night thing.

Watch The Harrow’s music video for “AXIS” below.

APPROVAL MATRIX: 2/16/14 thru 2/22/14

Kurt Cobain Statue

Here’s our take on the best and worst in music this week.



[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_2″][box type=”shadow”]William Corgan Teacup

Mark your calendars: on 2/28, Smashing Pumpkins’ frontman William Corgan (as he’s billed himself for this event) is improvising an 8 to 9 hour ambient musical interpretation of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha at Madame ZuZu’s, a tea-shop he opened outside of Chicago last year.  Your soul is the whole world, which is a vampire.[/box][/fusion_builder_column] [fusion_builder_column type=”1_2″_last][box type=”shadow”]

Fiona Apple Bio-Frau

Fiona Apple will appear in a French Sci-Fi spoof called H-Man as Bio-Frau, an environmental activist held captive in a German power plant.  It’s highbrow because it’s French.[/box][/one_half_last]

DESPICABLE <<—————————————————————————– >>BRILLIANT

[fusion_builder_row_inner][fusion_builder_column_inner type=”1_2″][/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”][box type=”shadow”]Kurt Cobain Weeping Statue

Bill Simpson, Mayor of the City of Aberdeen, has unveiled a controversial statue of Kurt Cobain in the grunge star’s hometown (a place he hated, BTW) and it’s so embarrassingly rendered that even the statue is weeping.[/box][/fusion_builder_column_inner] [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_2″_last][box type=”shadow”]Coachwhips Seance

After announcing the indefinite hiatus of Thee Oh Sees a few months ago, frontman John Dwyer is scheduled to re-unite his old band Coachwhips for some SXSW appearances.  Can we get in line tomorrow?[/box][/one_half_last]