Latest Features

Interview: Jessica Pratt

By Joshua Pickard; December 20, 2012 at 7:37 AM 

Jessica Pratt writes honest songs that vibrate and shimmer with a kind of effervescent emotion that is becoming all too uncommon these days.  Her songs appear to be simple, and on first listen, the skeletal instrumentation which houses her voice seems to confirm those  suspicions.  But Pratt is no waifish acoustic castaway.  Her songs, despite their apparent frailty, house deep emotions and a deeper wellspring of strength.  Her eponymous debut which came out on Birth Records this past November finds the singer casting her lot in with the folk song traditions of artists like Judee Sill and Bridget St. John.  Her songs act as both revelation and condemnation in equal measure, sometimes within the same song.  And it seems that this candor and directness is no affectation but is a genuine extension of her own unique personality.

Recently Pratt sat down and answered a few questions for Beats Per Minute concerning the recording of debut album, what records she was listening to during that period of time, and what she considers to be the best gift she ever received.

Beats Per Minute: Your debut came out earlier this month on Birth Records, a label which was founded by Tim Presley (of White Fence and Darker My Love) with the sole purpose of releasing this album. How did you come to know Tim? Do you know what the circumstances were that lead up to this decision to found Birth Records to release your record?

Jessica Pratt: At one point Tim’s brother, Sean Paul moved into the house I was living in. I heard him playing White Fence in his room, had no idea what it was, couldn’t place it. I was instantly excited about it. I think I saw him in the house once, didn’t interact with each other at all. Years later, Tim heard my songs and fortunately for me, loved them. I think the discussion of putting it out was pretty immediate after he contacted me.

BPM: Your songs could be considered stripped down in terms of how they use space and a kind of nonchalant effortlessness to convey a depthless sense of emotion. Was there ever a conscious decision to pare back the instrumentation or was this aesthetic choice simply an organic progression for you or was it even thought about like that?

JP: The sparseness of the majority of the songs on the record is really just sort of circumstantial. I had a friend that hooked me up with a couple of sessions at this guy’s recording studio. At the time, I was really just recording the songs for posterity. I didn’t think I’d ever use them for a record. Most of the songs were recorded in 2007 so it’s possible for me to look back on them and be more accepting of their straightforwardness, whereas now with the new songs I’ve recorded, I’ve definitely been adding layers.

BPM: Influences are hard to get away from, even for a record like yours which has a very singular personality. But what were some of your favorite records that you listened to while writing and recording what would eventually become the songs on your debut?

JP: A lot of different stuff. The time I spent writing most of those songs was split up between two different living situations, the first being an apartment in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco and the latter one being a basement floor I shared with my boyfriend and our friend Moses that worked at the record store down the street. I think he had something like 2000 records. Some of my favorites from that time were the first side of Nils Lofgren’s 1 + 1, Paul Williams, the first John Prine record, Strikin’ It Rich by Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks, Michael Hurley, everything by Townes Van Zandt, lotta Todd Rundgren, Wings’ first record, “Wildlife” and I think the top 3 most played records were Paul Simon’s first record, Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat and a collection of british folk guitarist John Martyn’s songs.

BPM: In previous interviews and articles, much has been made of some similarities between your voice and those of particular seminal folk artists. Instead of broaching that subject explicitly, I’ll just ask this: was there anyone you loved singing along to when you were younger, and even now? Someone you felt a connection to while singing?

JP: If we’re talking influences, I’d say my most sung-along to records were definitely Marianne Faithfull, and pretty much all of Gram Parsons’ various incarnations. Also, Love, huge on the Buffalo Springfield and all that dreamy LA 60’s stuff.

BPM: These songs almost sound as though they were recorded as-is. Was there much production applied to them or was it a case of getting that perfect take on the first try?

JP: There’s essentially no post-production on the tracks aside from basic mastering. “Night Faces” and “Dreams” are the newest songs on the record and those have two guitar tracks, some extra vocals and were also two of three songs on the record recorded with a 4 track.

BPM: These songs obviously feel intensely personal. Were you ever concerned that because of their relative simplicity (music-wise) and uncharacteristic directness they wouldn’t resonant as deeply with other people as they did with you? I understand that’s somewhat of a loaded question, as an artist’s own experiences are generally intrinsic to the art being created, but was that ever a concern for you?

JP: Again it was a case of not really thinking of it in the sense of being heard by lots of people. I was just writing songs to maybe play out and hadn’t considered anything beyond that. I definitely wasn’t consciously writing it for anyone else.

BPM: Can you give us a little background on the album’s inception and your musical history as well? How or why did you initially start playing music? In regards to the album, which song here on the album (or possibly not here) led you to begin recording?

JP: I started playing my brother’s guitar when he got bored with it when I was about 14. My mom taught me how to play all the basic chords, and she had a little lyrics and chords booklet she had made of some of her favorite songs, some CSN&Y, John Lennon, T.REX. I learned how to play a lot of those and was just so into music as a young teenager; it’s all I thought about. I thought I could maybe be good at it.

BPM: Was there ever a specific moment in your life where you thought, “Yeah, this is it. Let’s do this.” in regards to pursuing music as a career or even more than just a passing interest?

JP: I don’t know if I ever experienced one defining, cinematic moment, but there was definitely a moment when I realized that having music as a main goal wasn’t impossible and that if I could I would definitely do that above anything else.

BPM: And I’ve got to ask, “Dreams” feels so wonderfully rustic and that’s in part due to the contrasting trade-off in vocal duties, who is singing with you on that track? (And please tell me it’s not Presley or I’m going to feel like an idiot). What led to this duet of sorts?

JP: The deeper “man’s” vocals on that track are actually just me. The song’s pitch was turned down a bit, so the lower harmony sounds masculine.

BPM: Let’s set aside music for a moment since we’re heading into the holidays. Where do you stand on the issue of fruitcake as a viable Christmas food? And have you ever re-gifted a fruitcake?

JP: I actually like fruit cake. I think I’ve only ever had other family’s fruit cakes, though. I’ve never gifted one.

BPM: What was the best gift you ever received? The worst?

JP: Best gift I’ve ever received was this almost literally impossible to find record by the GTO’s called Permanent Damage. Worst gift was a Cardinals keychain from a classmate in the 6th grade when she found out my family couldn’t afford a Christmas tree.

BPM: Thank you for taking time out of your schedule and answering some questions for us. And lastly, do you have any customary holiday plans or traditions?

JP: I don’t really have any traditions aside from Christmas ham.


Interview: Interpol (Part 1)

By Gabriel Szatan; December 4, 2012 at 5:49 AM 

Interpol’s seminal post-millenial indie rock record Turn On The Bright Lights turns 10 this week, and, to celebrate, the band has put together an expanded tenth-anniversary edition of the record that includes a wealth of b-sides, demos, and archival photos. In the first part of our two part interview with the band, we sat down with guitarist Daniel Kessler to talk about TOTBL‘s five year gestation period, being a young band in early 00s New York City, and preserving oneself in the wake of creating a classic.

Gabriel Szatan (BPM): I suppose the first question has to be: why now? Why the 10th anniversary and not the 15th, 20th or 25th?

Daniel Kessler: Oh, tenth had a nice round number to it I guess. It wasn’t something we were plotting and planning before we got to the ten year mark but people started talking about it, noticing more than we were. We’re not ones to go through our old stuff – we spend time on a record, release it, do a tour for it and then sorta move on. At first I was a bit hesitant to do something commemorative as I didn’t want to just do it – it wasn’t a marketing ploy – so in truth I wanted to leave it alone; plus I’m more interested in doing something new than going over what’s already done. But once we started really considering it, we wanted to make it really good for our fans or anyone interested in hearing it. So I spent a lot of time digging through the archives, and naturally got into it as you would any project, wanting to make it the best we could. So I don’t know quite why we decided to do it, but once we started we were set on making it worthwhile.

We existed, we were fragile, we could’ve broken up but we didn’t because we enjoyed making music together.

BPM: With regards to uncovering forgotten material, it was mentioned in the press release that in addition to doing so yourself, you asked others to dig through as well – did that procure any interesting results? Did other people have better recordings or earlier demos than the band?

DK: In that context I think it was more looking for photographs. There were a lot of people involved in that time period, stretching from 1997/8 to 2003: not just Turn On The Bright Lights but pre-signing a label deal and making our first album but also a time before that, encompassing the three demos and a Peel Session. It’s a big part of our foundation, spending four or five years without any interest – we existed, we were fragile, we could have broken up but we didn’t because we enjoyed making music together and so to me it’s a big part of us. There are a lot of people from that period we maybe don’t get to see all the time: guys who took our first group photographs, people who were there in the basement of Brownies in 1999, you have to really try and locate people you don’t get to see as often as we would like. I had all the recordings in a box but even when going through it I had forgotten that we had recorded versions of “Stella…” and “Leif…” on the third demo, so it was nice to take that trip and listen to it with some objectivity.

BPM: In amongst the bonus material on the second CD you have the initial demo from June 1998, at which point I was six years old and – 

DK: You were six years old? Shit man, fuck, make sure you put that in the interview! Wow. [chuckles]

BPM: Yeah, it’s bizarre to think about that, especially as on that first record there’s a version of “PDA,” which remains to this day one of your most well-loved tracks. I doubt you could have envisioned its longevity and that you’d still be taking it around the world 14 years later, but did it strike you at the time of recording that you might be onto something really good?

DK: You know, “PDA” for me personally was the first song that, when I came up with the progression, felt definably like I was changing as a songwriter at that moment – I had written songs before, recorded demos where I played every instrument except the drums, but I could notice I was doing something different than before, although there was no specific intent. It was actually the first song we jammed on as a band. Like I said, we played our first show in March ’98 but didn’t put our first record until August 2002, and we had “PDA,” played it at our first show along with a lot of stuff that would end up on Bright Lights. Maybe our timing wasn’t right for what was going on in rock and roll or New York City at the time and obviously while the internet was there it was pre-distributing tracks online and certainly before social media, so we were just hoping for an opportunity to make a record. But really you had to be patient and take rejection in your stride – even Matador rejected us two times before they said yes on the third demo, and we never took it personally. Persevering is a big part of a band’s existence, just keep doing it because you really like doing it. So no, I had no reason to believe that “PDA” was something that would give interest to anyone.

BPM: To pick up on what you mentioned there about the long gestation period: looking back your signature style, or certainly that which had crystallised by the time of the debut, was pretty at odds with what was going on in the late 90s. When pushing through the early phases, did you ever think you might never get that chance because you were making music that was out of step?

DK: Y’know, I’m not sure it’s that specific. I didn’t know, but I definitely had the thought that we would never make a record, which was all I wanted to do. At that time I was managing the band, booking all the shows, packaging the demos, sending stuff out and getting rejections from every single record label. I was doing everything I could think of to give us the opportunity to do something a bit different but I had no reason to believe that we’d ever get that. I remember specifically in early 2001 having a pretty good period; it was around the time we were writing “Say Hello To The Angels,” “Obstacle 1,” “Obstacle 2” and “NYC” and much of the latter half of what would be on Turn on the Bright Lights, we were coming into our own and Sam [Fogarino] had been in the band for almost a year. All I ever wanted was to find a band like this with such great chemistry but the chance to make a record and have people hear it was very much secondary to what it meant deep down to me as an artist. That was big enough for me. I had spent a lot of time looking for these guys before I found them, on the quest for several years before. I would have been content if we had just kept doing what we were doing without ever making a record; it wouldn’t have been my preference but I was at peace with that.

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Interview: The Mountain Goats

By Evan Kaloudis; November 14, 2012 at 2:02 PM 

Photo by DL Anderson

The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle has never apologized for being a prolific songwriter, mostly because he’s rarely if ever had to – over the course of 14 albums the man’s craft has remained legendarily intact and open to change. A bit before the release of The Mountain Goats’ latest effort, Transcendental Youth, we sat down with the man himself to talk about parenthood, avoiding dilettantism, and why a Mountain Goats metal record will probably never happen.

Evan Kaloudis (BPM): I’m not going to pull any punches here. Who would win in a cage match: frog ball or penguin ball?

John Darnielle: [laughs] Well, penguin ball is very new on the scene, I would have to say. The skill set of penguin ball is an unknown quantity. I have never actually seen penguin ball in person. My wife was at a play-date when penguin ball sort of… rolled onto the scene, so to speak. So it’s really hard to say. But I have to say, if you’re going with a known quantity vs. an unknown quantity, the unknown quantity always looks attractive on the outside, but I would stick with the one that brought you to the game, so my money is on frog ball.

BPM: So, you have a new son. Well, first son. Right?

JD: He’s almost a year old at this point.

BPM: Congratulations.

JD: Thank you very much. Do you have any children?

BPM: No, no. I’m far too young, I think.

JD: I don’t know. There are people younger than you that have a lot of children.

BPM: That is true.

JD: I want to avoid being – this is the thing, you see: people have a baby, and it’s so crazy how quickly they want to tell you, “No, you gotta have a baby. You gotta do this.” They get really evangelical, but it’s because it’s awesome. It’s the same as when you’re in high school and you get into weed, you tell everyone “Oh dude, you have to smoke weed! This is amazing!” Right? It’s very similar. It’s like you are in this sort of state of amazing, constant joy all day and you want to tell your friends, “Until you’ve experienced this, you can’t even relate to it! Go have a baby and we’ll talk.” That’s what it’s like.

It’s like this weird emotional pornography of the age, that the first question in sports goes “How do you feel?”

BPM: So you have a new album, Transcendental Youth. When did you begin writing it? Was it before or after your son was born?

JD: My wife was pregnant when I wrote the first one. But that’s actually one reason that the album is really dark: I have a heavy, heavy attitude problem about people having babies, and then suddenly a guy whose whole gift is for writing about the darkness in the world wants to assert that he is now good at writing about how the world is a sweet place. Since I was a kid, I’ve had an attitude problem about this thing. You know, it’s great that people have a good experience with parenting and everything, but to imagine that suddenly your muse has gotten good at writing about something that’s a new experience that you just got into last week… I mean, I just think that that’s a wrongheaded way of thinking about your craft. You spend your life honing your craft, getting good at writing about the themes and things that speak loudest to you, and suddenly, less than a year into parenthood, you’re an expert on writing about that. Let your ideas mellow a little.

I think I’ll be good at writing a parenting album 20 years from now, once I have raised a child. Part of that is that nobody cares about what my opinions and feelings are. Maybe they do in the short term – on Twitter I’ll talk about that stuff – but for stuff that I’m writing to send out there in the world, I write about the stuff that I’ve been thinking about my whole life. So I wrote “Lakeside View Apartments Suite,” one of the darkest songs on the record, with a baby under my left hand and a piano at my right. When you listen to this song, it is not a song about all the love and hope and stuff that exists when you’re looking at a baby. It’s a song about people in hopeless situations in an apartment, which I kind of like. I think that’s the right way to treat your muse, is to not tell your muse “Oh yeah, my life has changed. I’m going to abandon you and throw you out for this new one.”

Photo by Nick Pereslugoff. Music Hall of Williamsburg

BPM: So would you say parenthood’s influenced your perspective?

JD: Not in my songwriting, I don’t think. I don’t want to talk badly about your question, but I think… here’s a thing they do in boxing that I really hate. In boxing, you win or lose. Let’s say you lost. Let’s say you’re Miguel Cotto and you just beat Margarito, who had loaded gloves at one point, and Cotto had lost to him previously. And it was a stain on his record. So Cotto beats Margarito in the rematch, and it’s a very emotional thing for him to do that. And the interviewer goes into the ring, and the first question he has of a guy who just boxed is “How are you feeling at this moment?” I think that’s a meaningless question. It’s like this weird emotional pornography of the age, that the first question in sports goes “How do you feel?” Not an interesting question, actually! Unless we’re participating in this bizarre reality TV culture in which the most interesting thing to us about a person’s accomplishment is what he’s feeling inside. That’s not the most interesting thing to me about that. Now wait, tell me what your question was?

BPM: [laughs] Your perspective as a songwriter?

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Interview: Born Gold

By Ryan Stanley; October 23, 2012 at 12:02 PM 

Photo by Marc Rimmer

Last September, madcap electro-pop experimentalist Cecil Frena took a handful of songs that had been circulating around the web under the guise of his project GOBBLE GOBBLE and released them, along with a batch of new tracks, under the name Born Gold. The resulting album, Bodysongs, was one of the most furiously engaging and criminally overlooked debuts of 2011. One year later, we contacted Frena to ask about his creative process, his unique live performances, and Born Gold’s new record, Little Sleepwalker, out today on Audraglint Records.

Ryan Stanley (BPM): Born Gold used to be known as GOBBLE GOBBLE, and even some of the songs from Bodysongs were originally circulating under that name. What was the thought process behind that name change? Do you consider Born Gold to be a separate project?

Cecil Frena: Born Gold is the same project – the name change was just another element of its ongoing evolution. I did try to explain it here, if you can read through the winks. The new name and its signifance for me are derived from a deeply personal lyric in the song “Gauze Pillars” on Little Sleepwalker.

BPM: You said in that Forbes piece from earlier this year that you don’t consider Little Sleepwalker to be a pop album in the same way Bodysongs was. What changed in your approach or in the music itself that made you feel that way?

CF: The approaches to each record were starkly different. When I started making Bodysongs I actually set myself a lot of formal restrictions – for example: every song has to be 2:30 or less, every song is written on guitar first and then produced, every song needs to obey conventional pop structure but be structurally surprising or subversive in its own way. I ended up breaking some of those rules, but the overall result in the end was very much commensurate with them. On the other hand, the way I created Little Sleepwalker was much more unstructured. I started with beats and didn’t touch a guitar. Once they began to take shape, I would let the songs follow whatever dark alleys they wanted without concern for repetition or pop payoff. I wrote almost all of the lyrics to the record as I was waking up from dreams, which is part of what gives the record an impressionistic feel. The whole process ended up being much more free-associative than Bodysongs. It was very good for me psychologically to make art that way, despite the fact that I’ve since moved on. It really reinvested me in music, it was almost therapeutic.

“I don’t expect everyone to like everything I do, but you can at least rest assured that the next thing will be different, and that some of the risks will pay off.”

BPM: Was the move to a more unstructured and beat-based approach a conscious decision, or did it come naturally?

CF: I’ve talked a little bit about how I tried to invert myself with this record, and the compositional approach was absolutely a conscious part of that. That being said, it felt real good to let the strictures of the pop format go for a while and just explore. Calling it unstructured is a bit of stretch mind you – there’s nothing jazzy or jammy about Little Sleepwalker. Exploratory for sure – but it’s very much on its own particular set of carefully plotted rails.

BPM: Knowing that you were moving in a very different, more abstract direction compared to Bodysongs, did you feel any trepidation about alienating fans while writing Little Sleepwalker?

CF: I think I felt more trepidation once it was completed and I realized how odd it was. I get very deep tunnel vision when I’m in the throes of work on something; it’s something I’m gradually trying to overcome. I’ve always known that I wouldn’t be able to stick to one thing, so I guess what I’m hoping for are fans that are interested in watching and assessing my evolution. It’s pretty demanding of me, but I am asking for people to engage with me on a artist-level rather than a song or even an album-level.  I don’t expect everyone to like everything I do, but you can at least rest assured that the next thing will be different, and that some of the risks will pay off.

“The idea that there was this underground scene of dance music that is more or less run by aesthetes – that was a brand new thing to me.”

I like discographies that are varied and divisive. The other end of that bargain is that I need to be cognizant of my audience and try to make any new risks that I’m taking worth engaging with. I don’t want to make art that satisfies only my most cerebral desires — I want to make music that means something both to myself and other people. I’m still learning to strike the balance of shapeshifting while preserving an essential core of relatability and resonance – it’s an enormous challenge. Little Sleepwalker is an extreme demand on anyone who’s followed me till now because it mutates my voice in a pretty uncompromising way. Usually the voice is the one thing that people cite as uniting an artist’s different works and making them distinctively hers. Taboos always tempt me.

BPM: You’ve also mentioned the influence of club music on this new record. Are there any artists in particular you might cite in particular?

CF: 2011 is really the year where I discovered like the “thing” of club music. I had always listened to some dance music, and I make an annual pilgrimage to MUTEK in Montreal, but the idea that there was this underground scene of dance music that is more or less run by aesthetes – that was a brand new thing to me, and so exciting.

It’s hard to take stock of everyone who really had an impact on me that year, but especially darker, forward-thinking stuff like the Hessle Audio guys and R&S, denser party stuff like Body High and Unknown to the Unknown and then also the kind of UK/US dialogue that was taking place between labels like Fade to Mind, Night Slugs, Luckyme. I actually ended up interning at Body High when I was in LA for a bit in late 2011; they’re two of the very best dudes and just killing it with their release schedule this year.

BPM: What’d you do while interning at Body High?

CF: I just helped with administrative stuff and miscellany while I was there and absorbed it all. I really think there’s an exciting contingent of uniquely American club music that’s bubbling up, and Body High is an important part of that. They’ve been killing it this year, have you heard Sam’s new EP?

BPM: I haven’t!

CF: It’s called 5 Dollar Paradise – it’s club music through and through, not crossover stuff.  If you DJ, try dropping one of those tracks – the responses I’ve been getting are nuts!

Samo Sound Boy – 5 Dollar Paradise

BPM: You’ve done a fair amount of covers and remixes in the past – what is it about re-interpreting other musicians’ work like this that you most enjoy?

CF: It’s been a while since I’ve done either a cover or a remix, but for a long time I was very interested in both. I saw the covers as hosannas to some of my very favorite artists – all my covers’ titles involve some sort of acknowledgment of the fact that I am corrupting the material. That being said, I think you should only cover a song if you’re going to ruin it in your own way – make it an act of deference as well as a transgressive smear of personality.

“I’m doing my best at the moment to give people multiple paths into its frosty world in hopes that a few can make their homes there.”

BPM: You toured a lot of the music on Little Sleepwalker over the past year rather than staying with the Bodysongs material. Is there something about that strategy that adds to the finished product?

CF: Oh I don’t think so, I think I just was excited about the new material and felt those particular songs were a good fit with the Grimes tour. I’m trying to resist the urge to only play new material on our next tour, although now it’s looking like I will have yet another new record to tempt me when the time comes. I hope people who saw the Little Sleepwalker tunes live in 2012 identify them on record and have an easier entry to the album that way. But from the beginning I’ve been pretty real about the fact that LS is a record that is just more demanding on the whole than Bodysongs was, and I’m doing my best at the moment to give people multiple paths into its frosty world in hopes that a few can make their homes there.

BPM: Both of the times I saw you perform this year, you were manipulating your instrumentals with a kind of motion sensing jacket rather than a more traditional controller. Where did that whole live set-up come from?

CF: What I’m actually doing is using an Xbox Kinect to map my body. My positional information is translated into dynamic midi information, meaning that my motions cause musical changes, and what any given motion does can change over time. So I can set zones, for example, that if moved through, trigger sounds or manipulate filters, etc. There is then LED feedback in the jacket depending on the type of midi information I’m sending. So the jacket is largely a representational tool for what I’m doing, although it has an MPC style pad and some flex sensors built into it, so it’s technically sending midi as well. The whole thing was inspired by Dangerous-era Michael Jackson tourwear, and I designed it along with my friend Matthew Skopyk, who is a brilliant audio technologist.

BPM: Do you feel like the suit-based method of performance will mesh well with the material you’re gonna be playing on future tours?

CF: I have a host of pretty rad upgrades planned for the jacket. Whether it is foregrounded as the centerpiece of our performance or becomes one element among many is something I’m still debating. My newest songs are a lot more… social.

“I’m asking people to engage with me on an artist-level.”

BPM: You seem to have a pretty close connection with a lot of similarly forward-thinking pop artists like Purity Ring, Grimes, Baths and others. How do your relationships with other musicians influence your own music, if at all?

CF: Given that my friends make some of my very favorite music, I think that’s an interesting question. I identify with all of them in different ways – I think the things we have in common are a major reason we’re close. But then, we only found each other once we’d all already started. With a few of my friends, we’re at the point where we share advice with respect to our works in progress – so we are actually directly influencing each other, or not, depending I suppose on how good that advice is. But everyone is also equally concerned with carving out their own lane – and fortunately for us, we’re all pretty fucking different too.

BPM: You say you’ve moved on from the process you used to create Little Sleepwalker – where are you now with your approach? What can we expect from the future of Born Gold?

CF: I will talk about its sound and structure in more detail in 2013, but for now – the new record I am working on is a return to the craft of pop music, and to my clean vocals. In terms of immediacy, it’s light years beyond what I’ve done to this point and I’m excited to show it to people. My primary struggle at this point in its production is to not screw the songs up – and with anarchistic impulses like mine, that can be a struggle indeed.

Video Interview: Holograms

By Autumn Andel; October 8, 2012 at 8:50 PM 

Holograms have exploded onto the indie music scene within the past few months, thanks to being signed to one of indie’s most buzzy labels, Captured Tracks. But realizing their first ever US tour was another story, filled with countless obstacles. Luckily, things coalesced at last minute, and we were able to enjoy the Swedish quartet’s unique brand of vintage synthesized punk first hand.

I usually bring a gift to the band as a “reward” for enduring an interview with me. And usually, it’s in the form of alcohol, and usually it’s whiskey, and normally they get it after the interview. But considering the venue showered the tipplers with a short supply of PBRs, opening the bottle of locally produced WhipperSnapper seemed like a good idea. At a discreet corner of the outdoor patio of Mississippi Studios’ adjacent bar, Bar Bar, we talked, but mostly laughed, as the sun drowned into the night. Not sure if it was the whiskey, but the twenty-somethings were nothing like the dark matters that shroud Holograms’ debut self-titled LP.

Interview: Flying Lotus

By Evan Kaloudis; September 28, 2012 at 1:02 PM 

Photo by Timothy Saccenti

Evan Kaloudis (BPM): Hey, so you have this new album Until The Quiet Comes, out October 2nd. You were going through some dark stuff around the time of Cosmogramma. Where was your head at this time around?

Flying Lotus: Man, there’s always dark stuff, ha, you know — good things, bad things — I feel this time around I wanted to go with a more ambient and textural landscape, a more minimal approach. Instead of making things bigger and bigger, I wanted to try to pull back… in a way.

BPM: Is there a tangible relationship between Cosmogramma and Until The Quiet Comes. They almost feel like companion pieces. Was that intentional? What relationship do you see them having personally, if any?

FL: Definitely. A lot of that has to do with the players first of all.

BPM: For example, you have Thundercat on, what? 70% of the record?

FL: Yeah that continuity definitely gives it that sound, similar to the last record.

BPM: Your albums have a very holistic feel, how much of that unified arc is planned out before you start recording and how much of it is stumbled upon?

FL: Um, you know, the album to me, when I started working on it, I sat down and said I wanted to try to make a record where I steal the drum sound from the same things — now I identify it that way: you have different patterns, but also have similarities in a way. At the same time I feel that a lot of it comes together on its own. You gotta stop and say to yourself, “Well, what do we got now?” There was a record that was almost done, I could feel it, I could see all these tracks. There were over 60 tracks, so then it became a matter of editing things down. I had figure out what I really wanted to say, figure out what I had to do to finish things, take on the task basically.

“You gotta stop and say to yourself, ‘Well, what do we got now?'”

BPM: Yeah it’s cool. It’s hard for most artists to tackle the album format nowadays. You still seem such a strong proponent of it, creating 40-50 minute soundscapes, instead of just songs.

FL: Yeah, it’s a strength I like to play on. As much as I would love to be a guy who excels at singles, I think that we just do what we can. We all want that sound we don’t have, don’t we? If I’m meant to do these things in this format — I mean, I like it. It feels like my opportunity to have a soundtrack to a movie in a way. It’s really fun. Hopefully people will listen to it all the way through, the way it’s meant to be heard.

BPM: On top of the jazz influences you started to explore on Cosmogramma, you seem to be digging even further into specific eras of soul and psychedelic music, any particular artists that played a role in that?

FL: I think a lot of Silver Apples, and Can, and Portishead, and Stereolab, and Gentle Giant, in that kind of psych-rock way. I was really feeling that stuff and it was really inspiring for me, especially Can.

“Hopefully people will listen to it all the way through, the way it’s meant to be heard.”

BPM: Care to talk about the other collaborators on this album? I know there were a few you hadn’t collaborated with in the past…

FL: Yeah, Erykah Badu. We… You know, It was really nice. She kind of reminded me of my mom in a way. We met up with Thundercat — it came together kinda quick — he played bass in her band and she got on [The Golden Age of Apocalypse], which I produced and then started planning some stuff. We discussed making an album, but what we made ended up on this record, on this album. We might make more stuff. There’s more, but they’re all musicians playing on this record.

BPM: Did you collaborate with Jonny Greenwood at all for “Hunger”?

FL: No, I still haven’t collaborated with him. The Jonny Greenwood thing on this album is just part of a track I took from one of his soundtracks.

BPM: Do any of those string arrangements translate live?

FL: They don’t, I mean I would have to bring my string guy — Miguel — with me to do that. I don’t usually play those takes live.

BPM: Yeah, your live sets seem to be a bit more high energy, but would you consider, say, taking a string quartet with you on tour?

FL: Yeah, I like the idea of doing that kind of stuff. But I think the idea is sometimes more fun that the results for some things. It’s hard to appeal to most people. They’re different things. If I bring out the strings people will be like, “well, where are the beats?” and vice versa. Maybe I’ll figure out the way to go with it, but I haven’t found that yet.

Photo by Christopher Alvarez

BPM: You talked about a large influx of beatmakers arriving in Los Angeles two years ago, has that changed at all? How has Los Angeles changed in the last two years?

FL: It seems like it’s more of a hub for artists. It seems like before 2004, or so, people weren’t really interested in LA in that way. Now it seems like a bunch of upcoming artists are on their way to LA if they’re not there already.

BPM: It seems like you’re constantly busy, working on new projects. You’re working on a new Thundercat album, you’re working on music for a new show on Adult Swim, Cat Boner

FL: Yeah, it’s just a pilot but hopefully it comes together.

BPM: You’ve also been working with Earl Sweatshirt. I saw you posted a photo with Childish Gambino and Ab-Soul in the studio. Any other collaborations you’d like to speak on?

FL: Honestly, I have nothing really planned at the moment, I don’t know what could happen tomorrow though. You pretty much know about everything that’s happening, as far as I know. Haha.

BPM: I hate to ask but I have to. A couple of years ago you had a collaboration with Burial on MySpace. Firstly, was that legitimate? Secondly, is there any chance any more will see the light of day?

FL: There’s some stuff I had done with Burial’s music… but uhhhhh… it’s funny that you ask, because I haven’t thought about it in a long while. I always hit him up and say, “send me some shit to work with, let’s get this collaboration thing going.” We talk, but he’s… he’s in his own world, man. Whenever he’s ready, I’m ready.

Burial & Flying Lotus – Untitled 4

BPM: That’s what I wanna hear…

FL: No you don’t wanna hear that, because waiting on him would be like you’re waiting until… well it won’t even matter anymore. Haha.

Flying Lotus – buriedMIX2 //burial dj kicks??’08

BPM: Well if I get to talk to him I’ll push for that collab and get back to you. What else have you been listening to?

FL: I listened to Frank Ocean’s album. I wanted the hype to die down a little bit, but I really liked it. I really like SpaceGhostPurpp’s album. I just downloaded the ASAP Mob album, there’s some cool stuff on that. And I was listening to the Childish Gambino Royalty things. Schoolboy Q. Ab-Soul. So much. A lot of these new kids rapping are really dope.

On collaborating with Burial: “Whenever he’s ready, I’m ready.”

BPM: How about your Brainfeeder? How close are you working with it?

FL: It’s my day-to-day goal to work on that, and on music, and making sure everyone is content at the label. It’s definitely an undertaking that I didn’t expect. But it’s a good problem to have, haha, we’re working on cool stuff with cool artists. I’m definitely involved and am probably gonna keep doing it for a while, at least as long as I can without losing my mind.

There’s good things to come from it. Seeing what it’s inspired — there’s nothing like it.

Read our review of Until The Quiet Comes here.

Interview: My Morning Jacket

By Michael Winnett; September 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM 

My Morning Jacket

It’s 5 pm on a Thursday in Los Angeles, but the die hard My Morning Jacket fans are braving the late summer upswing in heat – may in fact be for the third day in a row – to be right in front of the stage for their favorite live band. Two nights later in Berkeley, the weather may be cooler, but the anticipation remains the same. Why the passion? My Morning Jacket is known for being one of the most versatile and well-polished live bands in music today. Headlining festivals from their hometown in Louisville to Azkena Rock Festival in Spain, MMJ blasts their Southern psychedelic rock with an energetic fervor pouring through each member of the band. On their current worldwide tour, we had a chance to catch up with keyboardist Bo Koster and Two Tone Tommy Blakenship to discuss live performance’s impact on the band and their career. We discussed how they formulate their live shows, musical records and their recent involvement in the Forecastle Festival.

Beats Per Minute: Tonight’s show being the third night in a row at The Wiltern, and at the forthcoming stop at Capitol Theater in New York you’re also doing three consecutive shows, we wondered what is the creative process and difficulty in performing three straight nights with no repeats [the band have promised this, perhaps as a way of hooking in more fans] and having fan requests? Are you nervous or excited about playing some older songs?

My Morning Jacket: For us, we revisit so many of our songs that they sill seem fresh; creating the set lists though, that’s a challenge, it’s way more fun. Deciding how to distribute the hits and the tempo for three straight nights with no repeats, it’s almost like playing game. We need to figure out how to make these elements work: fast stuff, slow stuff, the covers, good opener, strong middle, great closer. Then you need to have your good opener for encore, and of course a killer ender.

(At these two shows, the ender is the epic “One Big Holiday,” it slays just like on Okonokos.)

MMJ: So you’re like, ‘fuck, how do we figure this out and put it altogether and ensure three high quality shows, including all the different records?’ But over the years, we’ve learned you can’t please everybody all the time. It’s like that famous Bill Cosby quote, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

They definitely found ways to make two completely different shows for the LA and Berkeley performances. In LA, they incorporated a live jazz trio, which brought the crowd to euphoria when accompanying the band on covers of Lionel Ritchie’s “All Night Long” and the even more unexpected Curtis Mayfield classic “Move On Up,” which even featured a trombone solo, while in Berkeley they had Shabazz Palaces join them on stage to add a unique hip-hop flavor to the final two songs of the encore.

BPM: At the end of those Capitol Theater shows you’re releasing an instant download for those in attendance. Any chance of another live record forthcoming?

MMJ: Well, we actually recorded our 5 consecutive shows in Terminal 5 in New York. We played all 5 records, one a night for those 5 nights, and the hardcore fans have been dying to have us release those concerts. But we’re talking 99 songs, to mix them together, get high sound quality, put together the art work; we just haven’t had enough time. We’re not releasing anything that isn’t up to our standards.

After noticing the different posters for LA that included a man in a monocle and then a completely new poster of two monkeys in an embrace in Berkeley, it’s safe to say the art is worth the wait.

BPM: Okonokos is considered one of the top live albums of the past decade; a dazzling array of sonic sound and sprawling energy. How did you guys prepare for such a great live album? For example, how did you choose the venue?

MMJ: Some of it was just intuition, we felt a momentum going. We had previous history of good shows in San Francisco, and The Fillmore is a historic venue. We were doing 2 nights in row, which is also conducive; if the first night doesn’t go well, you’re covered. It was our first time ever doing two nights.

It was really cool, looking back, I didn’t realize how rare that was gonna be for our career, might never happen again. People don’t buy DVDs, there’s so much YouTube free stuff, so much free live stuff. The art of a live concert film, live concert record is really changing, and is not as exciting for people. The level of production we had for the DVD and live album wouldn’t have been same if it was just a digital double live album with random YouTube videos, or some live video download. We were really stoked about working with Michael Brauer, he just understood the performance; it felt like a live record but extremely powerful. He really made bass and drums stand out, and did fantastic job even with the crowd noise.

BPM: One of our favorite concert albums of all time is Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, what are some of your favorite live albums?

MMJ: Oh yeah that’s up there, waaaay up there. Also Mad Dogs and Englishmen by Joe Cocker, The Last Waltz [The Band], The Song Remains the Same [Led Zeppelin].

BPM: Where does the inspiration for your live covers come from?

MMJ: We all have extensive record collections at home. We’ll have listening parties and brainstorming sessions on the bus late at night. We send long email chains about songs we think would be fun to cover. ‘What if’ scenarios, ‘would this be fun or funny?’

We’re the opposite of guys who like the after party. After parties for us are the five of us and some friends passing around iPod, listening to music, and hanging out; always thinking of possible tunes. We’ve been playing music half of our lives, so we’re always digging trying to find new stuff, new music. Jim is very good at finding nuggets, recently it was Syl Johnson. He’s kind of like Rodriguez, in that movie, where he should be famous, but wasn’t [Searching for Sugar Man]. It’s all about digging and trying to find choice things that never quite bubbled up, that didn’t hit the zeitgeist or public consciousness. Even the more famous covers that we do like “Rock the Casbah,” [The Clash], “All Night Long,” [Lionel Richie] or “Tyrone” [Erykah Badu] are usually things that you wouldn’t immediately think this is a song that we would cover. A lot of times after the email chain, we study and learn on our own, then we play together and just kick it around and see how it feels.

On top of the handful of covers mentioned already, the band also performed The Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’,” Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” George Harrison’s “Isn’t It A Pity,” The Band’s “It Makes No Difference” and Prince’s “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man” across their three night stint at The Wiltern.

BPM: After Evil Urges, a record of studio experimentation, Circuital was something of a return to straightforward live recording, using a church instead of a studio and recording straight to tape. Are you going to continue to use the live approach for your next album, or do you plan on returning to the studio?

MMJ: It’s hard to say at this point other than it will definitely be different – it won’t be the same process as those last records. We’re always trying to explore, refine and find new ways of recording. Everybody in the band loves the feeling of a live moment, that feeling at the time of something happening, feeling that sound in the recording. It’s hard to get that in the ways a lot of people are making recordings with Pro Tools and the ease of being able to perfect things, tune things. It’s too easy to go back and fix mistakes. Lots of recordings are two dimensional, put in the computer you lose that three dimnensional vinyl, analog feeling; but it’s getting better, hopefully keeps getting better. But at the same time, we all love the art and creativity that comes from the computer and some of things you can do with the computer nowadays. We try to do both, find the balance with the computer world and the creative aspects there, and combining it with the live, humanness of it all; finding the mesh between the two.

In the concerts, nowhere is this seen more clearly then when Jim James wears a Roland sampler with orange buttons for “Victory Dance.” It is quite a scene to see this shaggy crooner dawning a technological necklace of the future.

My Morning Jacket

BPM: How do you decide where to record an album?

MMJ: We always want to find a unique space. The most important thing is the feeling of the space how it affects overall vibe of band. If choice is between a weird, unique space vs classic studio that’s been recorded in by all the legendary artists, we’re choosing the unique space. The beauty nowadays is you can make a record in so many different ways. With the technology that’s come out, you can be more mobile. Back in the day, there were only 50 studios in the world that had state of art gear and you had to go to those places. But now, you can be more liquid about how you can record, you can set up anywhere.

BPM: What are some of the dream spots you have thought of recording?

MMJ: Recording on the beach, or a far out place like Singapore, Alaska, or Norway. We’ve talked about recording on a boat. It’d be crazy; we could have ambient noises of puking and getting sea sick between takes.

BPM: What is the difference between playing with My Morning Jacket vs other bands?

MMJ (Bo): I play with Neko Case and Delta Spirit and the process of communication when playing live is definitely different. In My Morning Jacket, there is so much non-verbal communication between the five of us. When we play with different bands it’s a different scenario because we really need to pay attention. We can’t just rely on second nature like when we play with My Morning Jacket.

For musicians who have toured and practiced as many times as these guys, one can’t help but think of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule. At this point the 10,000 hours has surely been passed and they have definitely come to the point where they are mastered their instruments and the art of playing together.

BPM: Speaking of other musicians, and your live music expertise, what was it like curating the Forecastle Festival in Louisville? What were the most rewarding aspects?

MMJ: JK McKnight (Forecastle Founder) had been doing this festival in Louisville and joined up with AC Entertainment, the guys that do Bonnaroo, and asked if we wanted to help curate this festival. We have very good relations with both parties, both are good friends of the band. Patrick (MMJ’s drummer) had always been involved with setting up a Louisville village anytime we performed in Louisville; a kind of tent city we would have at our performances. There would always be local vendors and restaurants. We’d always have local charities involved in these events. [MMJ donates percentages of all tickets sales to charities for all shows.] So, we’d have this kind of tent city at our shows in Louisville. Being part of this festival was a natural fit. We got to bro-down and discuss which bands we would want to come and help pick the final ones. We all have our favorite bands, and we felt very proud of ourselves when our line up was complete.

In the end we had a solid, strong line up top to bottom that we felt matched any other festival. It had solid indie acts like Neko Case, Flying Lotus, Clutch, and Beach House. We had great headliners in Wilco and ourselves. We got cool acts no one knew like Floating Action and Orchestre Poly-Rythmo from West Africa.

It was just cool, a musician’s dream come true: Pick your favorite bands, curate your own festival in your hometown, be on the same bill, all in the same weekend. We invited lots of our friends, people we had toured with. On our tour in 2003, Dr. Dog opened for us, and now they’re on the same bill as us in a festival along with other acts we’ve toured with like Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Andrew Bird. That’s pretty special day right there. It was so cool, like throwing a party in your backyard, except 20,000 times the size.

BPM: Jay-Z wasn’t the only artist to throw kick-ass festival this summer. He might’ve got most of the press, but you all did an amazing job as well.

MMJ: “Big pimpin’,” that’s our slogan.

BPM: Speaking of surreal moments, let’s get out of here on this one: your episode of American Dad! What was it like being in a cartoon TV Show? How did that come about? Did you notice any surge in popularity?

MMJ: We’ve had some surreal moments in our careers, where we look at each other and are like ‘what the fuck is happening right now?’; meeting our heroes, playing with them, some amazing musicians and amazing places but this was a real, lucky surreal moment. I wish I could go back and tell my nine year old self, ‘wait ’til you get to do that.’ I remember watching The Simpsons as a teenager on Fox. My 13 year old self would be like it’s a dream come true. I remember seeing Aerosmith on it when I was kid, and now here we are.

Carl [MMJ’s guitarist] was saying the other day a lot of people didn’t even know us before that. They watched the show and thought it was a fictional band. We know that it reruns a lot because when it does we get hit up on Twitter from people being like ‘we found you on American Dad,’ and on YouTube videos people will be like ‘I didn’t know they existed ’til American Dad.’ Then our hardcore fans will be like, ‘Fuck man, I’ve been listening to them for 15 years. Fuck American Dad!’ And the other guy will be like, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t know they were real band.’

It came about when we met Mike Barker, the creator, at Bonnaroo. He saw our four hour set there. I think that’s where the inspiration came from. He thought it would be funny to have whole episode with the band. It was art imitating life. Mike’s love letter to the band by having Stan (the show’s protagonist) love the band. And we all became friends with Mike because he is so funny.

Just like in most people’s lives, great things for this band have been through knowing somebody and finding the perfect opportunity to work with them, collaborating for a real special memory. Heck, even for this reporter, I was lucky enough to meet Bo on a high stakes poker TV show. Seems even for a great band like My Morning Jacket, the old adage holds true: You never know who you are going to meet and what adventures are coming along next.

Interview: Anand Wilder of Yeasayer

By Chase McMullen; September 17, 2012 at 7:07 PM 

Beats Per Minute (Chase McMullen): I know none of you are fond of having to describe your sound in simplified terms, but inevitably Fragrant World is a growth from prior sounds, how would you describe the departure of this LP for fans new and old?

Anand Wilder: Kind of abstract dance music.

BPM: You’ve discussed a desire to reach different areas and build a different sound with each LP, so how, if at all, would you say your past records influenced Fragrant World? Or was this a conscious effort to craft something completely different?

AW: I think it’s a conscious effort to craft something completely different, and not try and repeat the successes – or failures – of the past.

BPM: I know in 9/10 interviews you’ll be forced to pick apart your influences, so I’ll try and skip over the duller areas of the question, but obviously you’ve all discussed R&B as a major facet of this record, did any particular artists or albums from that world inform the recording sessions?

AW: More of a general, kind of vibe of R&B, but you know, we’re all big R. Kelly fans, Boyz II Men fans. I had always thought that R. Kelly was just awesome, almost crossing different dimensions…but I think without trying to imitate his overtly sexual lyrics, but trying to emulate some of those mid-temp come-ons. We’ve always been real influenced by hip hop and R&B, the ways in which producers make sounds for rap music, I think it’s similar to the way that we make a bed of sound for a song we’re writing…so we’ve always been really influenced by, you know, RZA and Wu-Tang and The Neptunes. I like dance hall a lot, too. We try to get some of the like very minimal stuff, but we’re kind of a very maximalist band, so it can be difficult for us.

BPM: Marry, fuck, kill: Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and The-Dream.

AW: Did you say Marry, fuck, kill? Wait, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and The-Dream, marry, fuck, kill. Aw man, this is so weird. I mean, I like, out of all those, I like Frank Ocean, and I like The Weekend about evenly… actually no, I like Frank more. So the person you like the most is marry? I guess The Weeknd, fuck, cuz that would be really… seems… weird. (breaks down laughing) It could more of interesting kind of… one time thing. And then I guess The-Dream… kill. (laughs again) I don’t know. Is that the correct answer?

All live photos by Nick Pereslugoff

BPM: In the early press rounds last year for this LP, Chris talked about despising ‘David Guetta bullshit and recent techno’, I’ve always felt your music aims at getting people moving, and this LP seems all the more a dance record, would you say the album is consciously a direct alternative to that brand of dance music?

AW: Yeah, I think so. We were just at a festival in Germany, and there was this guy, The Gaslamp Killer, and he was DJ’ing some really interesting stuff, mixing things up with some really cool sounds – and then right before there was this other guy with really just…boring, one-dimensional sounds, and I think that a lot of that David Guetta type music is just very unimaginative.

BPM: I’m right there with you, I can’t stand Skrillex and people in that vein.

AW:Yeah, I mean Skrillex I feel like, at least, the first time I heard a Skrillex song I was like, ‘woah, this is kind of insane and all over the place’, and I think he took something that was maybe a little more nuanced and made it appealing for a broader audience. I don’t know, the Skrillex stuff I ultimately find to just be a little bit irritating, David Guetta and music like his, though, is just so derivative…boring, and simplistic. Simplistic in a really boring way. (I make a comment about recycling becoming more prominent in the rapid distribution and consumption process of online music) Yeah, it’s weird, it’s like people recycle…you know what it is, it’s kind of like the merging of commercial music and popular music, where there’s a real blurring of the line, you watch an advertisement, ‘Wait, what is this song? Is this a Black Keys song or a blues song or is it some guy in a commercial music house writing it to sound like a Black Keys song? (I mention finding it odd to constantly hear Modest Mouse in ads) “Yeah, Modest Mouse. I mean, I’m not mad at artists for being on commercials at all, it’s just this very weird era where like you know there’s this Modest Mouse song where Wiz Khalifa… No wait, I think it was Lupe Fiasco, I think.

BPM: Yep, he sampled “Float On.”

AW: Yeah, he samples it, and I thought, ‘Does he know about…’, I don’t know, it seems too recent to be sampling a song from 2006. It’s all very strange…but then, the David Guetta thing; it’s weird because he’s just sort of standing there, and it doesn’t seem like he’s even putting in much effort…it really just kind of plays to your most primitive receptors in your brain…you know, ‘filter sweep and floor-to-the-floor kick drum,’ and really compressed, and squashed to sound like it’s coming from a small radio, but it’s just music you’re supposed to dance to like an idiot when you’re really drunk.

BPM: If Fragrant World were a friend of yours, how would you introduce or describe them?

AW: I would say that she’s a little bit unhinged, a little schizophrenic, could be really nice one second and really angry the next moment, a very creative dancer… maybe a little bipolar, but probably more schizophrenic.

BPM: Getting a bit more particular – not that anyone with a brain has ever been particularly fond of him, but with the Killer Mike record and so on, I feel like Reagan as the villain has become a popular tool for 2012, as what kind of device would you say he’s intended on “Reagan’s Skeleton”?

AW: Oh, you know, I think that songs just kind of about the deification of Ronald Reagan, and how he’s seen as this sort of saintly figure for half of the country, it’s just kind of a silly story song, an anecdotal song about a séance of ultra-conservative, tea party type people just blind in their love of Ronald Reagan.

BPM: Fragrant World is releasing on blue marble vinyl, and some of the singles have come in glitter & glow in the dark vinyl, how much thought do you all put into the physical features of an album, and how would you say it impacts listener experience?

AW: I don’t think it really impacts the listener experience, I think you can have just as genuine experience just listening on your Ipod, but I think it’s another interesting experience of putting out a record, especially in this day and age where you really don’t have to put out a record, at least in that it’s not the only technology we have disseminating our music, but it kind of shows an extra kind of…not effort, appreciation for the recorded music if you put a little effort into the artwork and packaging…I think it’s also nostalgic too, because for us, we grew up with the physical copy being so important, whether the CD, or the vinyl, or the tape cassette, it has this kind of tangible quality to it that is sort of lost when everything is just uploaded to iTunes.

BPM: Yeah, my nephew couldn’t understand me bothering to build a physical collection on vinyl.

AW: Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to have 500 records, or 500 DVDs when you can have it all on a hard drive, but…I guess it’s just the area where we’re going, having everything on your computer, on Kindle, it’s a piece of technology just as much that a book was a piece of technology that replaced handwritten scrolls. We’re that generation that grew up with something old that’s been replaced, and it’s probably just nostalgia.

BPM: For something unrelated to the new album, some of you linked up with Natasha Khan for Two Suns, did you all get together again for her new LP? Are there any plans with her in the future?

AW: No, Chris and Ida were working with her for a couple of songs, I didn’t actually have anything to do with that, but she actually worked with the same guy who mixed our record, so there’s a connection there, he worked with her on Bat for Lashes.

BPM: Ok, just a personal question, you guys have mentioned a few rap favorites in the past, Tribe and Young Jeezy and so on, did any particular MC rob off on you all whether generally or regarding the way you make albums?

AW: I think the recent Kanye stuff has been pretty inspiring; he’s been doing some cool stuff, especially with the production, but as far as lyrically, we can’t really pull off many similarities, the goals of hip hop lyrics are obviously very different (laughs).

BPM: Is Detox ever coming out?

AW: (without pause) What’s Detox? Oh, I don’t really care. Dr. Dre’s kind of a one trick pony, isn’t he? It was a great trick for a while, you know I like his work on early ’90s stuff, Snoop’s stuff, Eminem’s stuff…he did some of 50’s stuff, too, right? But I’m probably more into production on OutKast records. Yeah, that’s some of the best shit ever, and the profile is so much lower for some reason… those guys are ATL, right? You’re from Atlanta? I was doing a photoshoot the other day, and it must have been like a greatest hits OutKast album, because they were playing stuff from SouthernCadillacPlayalisticWhatever to “Ms. Jackson” and I was just like, ‘This band? They’re the best. The best.’ They’re the Beatles of the ’90s and 2000s, you know?”

BPM: What is the single best venue you’ve played? By audience or the location itself, your call.

AW: Best venue… hmm… really, I’m partial to New York venues, I really love Music Hall at Williamsburg, Slow Down in Omaha is really nice, San Francisco has a lot of really great things, I really can’t pick any one place, too many great venues.

BPM: Something I’ve often wondered about when a band is releasing a new album: do you get a feeling of completion that lasts you for a tad and relax and watch the LP play out, or does the need to create, to forge ahead, immediately return?

AW: There’s a sense of accomplishment, a sense of productivity, but then you need to start touring. It’s not manual labor, but the closest thing we have to working with our hands and bodies is going back on tour, you start singing again every night, have to keep your voice in good health. So I know that then, the touring experience, will – at least for me – give me the need to do something new, to create again. It’s really just a cycle.

Interview: Mount Eerie

By Colin Joyce; September 6, 2012 at 5:37 PM 

Phil Elverum has had quite a year. While we’ve already pitched our support of his tranquil Clear Moon, this week saw the release of it’s twisted companion Ocean Roar, which we’ll speak at length on in the next couple of days. Elverum was kind enough to return a few emails in regard to both of these records and his upcoming tour.


Interview: Ed Rodriguez (of Deerhoof)

By Joshua Pickard; August 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM 

photo by Richard Saunier

Deerhoof seem to deal with things just a little bit differently than your average band. Their new album Breakup Song is ostensibly about the heartache and pain that comes from pulling yourself through multiple emotional scrapes but the songs sound as upbeat and playful as anything off their mischievous 2011 album Deerhoof Vs. Evil. The lyrics, such as they are, are all about the band turning this heartache in on itself and using fragmented thoughts and sometime incoherent emotional reasoning to blunt the harsh reality. Like most of us, the band does whatever it can to get by. They just seem to come at it in a more tangential way than the rest of us.

But this refusal to conform to expectations is also the band’s most endearing quality. They never seem to approach an album the way you might imagine. Even their albums which are generally considered to be more accessible like The Runners Four and Apple O veer off into surprising and unanticipated musical spaces. This expected eccentricity is what keeps fans eager to get their hands on as much new material from the band as possible. And with a discography that has them releasing an album almost every year for the past 15 years, fans don’t have much to complain about.

Lead guitarist Ed Rodriguez was nice enough to sit down and answer a few questions for Beats Per Minute concerning the development of Breakup Song, the often confusing identities within the band, and how using a good medicated shampoo is important to a having a good strut.

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