art

MY DAY WITH SPENT WITH JARED AND THE JOKER
August 4, 2016 11:22 am

Hours before I was set to meet Jared Leto, staring in the highly anticipated Suicide Squad, at an Italian restaurant in the West Village I was awoken out of a dead sleep by a neon-masked jester giggling as he poured ice cold water all over me. I demanded to know what he was doing here, to which he responded, “The Joker will see you now,” in a high pitched cadence. 

The jester then proceeded to take a trumpet out of his satchel with the word “Chaos” bedazzled on it. He masterfully played the tune of Reveille with the brass when suddenly, Jared Leto himself popped on my mattress, cackling sisterly. He was dressed head to toe in his much buzzed about Joker getup, a move that hinted he was still very much in character. Ever respectful of an artist’s craft, I gladly played along. “Oh no, it’s the Joker,” I yelled. “What did I do to ever deserve a visit from anarchy’s son himself?!”

Although the Academy Award winner was deeply immersed in character, I couldn’t help but notice him give a slight wink of appreciation for going along with him on this thespian journey. Which is why, out of respect, I played the helpless and hysterical victim for Leto and his unnamed assistant in mayhem while they attached alligator clamps to my nipples. I still can not decide what was more electric that morning: Leto’s performance or the car battery he used to shock me.

Following a few more downright twisted acts of torture, the My So Called Life star blindfolded me, stuffed me in a burlap sack and tossed me into the back of his car. He drove and drove. Each erratic swerve gave birth to a new bruise. Sweat accumulated onto my shirt so immensely that it began to push down on my chest every time I would try to breathe. The only thing that kept me sane was shouting the questions I had initially planned for our interview. Leto pulled over at one point, only to throw a stink bomb in there with me when I asked him what working with Viola Davis was like. After that, I passed out from the astounding commitment he had to such a sinister character.

joker-suicide-quad-rick-ross-skrillex-purple-lamborghiniWhen I came to, I found myself strapped to a chair in the restaurant I had previously made reservations for. I couldn’t help but smirk at the 30 Seconds To Mars front-man’s demented attention to detail for this sly caper he’s orchestrated. Upon noticing I was up, he bellowed “good morning, Sunshine” loud enough to cause the entire restaurant to look over to our table. The jester was summoned by Leto and asked for him to fetch my ‘present’. After rummaging around his chaos satchel for a little while, he took out a plastic butt with wide circular hole in between cheeks and a clock attached to it counting down from 6 minutes. Leto thanked him by petting him under his chin like a dog, to which the jester stamped his leg up and down repeatedly.

The waiter came to take our order. I asked for a Caesar salad with ranch dressing on the side. Leto asked for a hot bowl of madness. Seamlessly, the jester then took the waiter’s pepper grinder and immediately began playing to its phallic nature. The comedic brilliance was upped when Leto dropped to his knees and confessed how been longing to taste some flavorful wood.  The chemistry between the two was palpable for everyone.  As we were being escorted out of the restaurant by the manager, the countdown butt I was ordered to hold hit zero. Confetti sprang out of the butt’s hole, landing on someone’s pasta primavera.

Back in the trunk, I gnawed out of the newly wrapped tape around my mouth to thank Jared for such a breathtaking dinner. To have front row seats to his performance-art tour de force inspired me in ways I never thought imaginable. His brilliance will not be forgotten. The jester took a power saw to the backseat in order to create a hole to the trunk. He jutted his head into the hole and spat on me.

Suicide-Squad

Once I felt myself being tossed from the trunk to my front lawn, I knew the interview was over. But before he tailed off into the sunset, Leto whispered into my ear about his gratitude for being granted the opportunity to let someone in on his process. It was easy to see that this role would be nothing without late Heath Ledger’s work in the iconic Dark Knight and how working with Viola Davis and the entire Suicide Squad was a dream come true. “We’re all lucky enough to have the greatest jobs in the world and we worked tirelessly to make sure what we were marking would be loved by all who saw it. It was a collaborative effort all the way through.”

Before I got the opportunity to thank him, Jared Leto was back in his Jokermobile. His jester, having just cherry bombed my mailbox, ran in through the window of the moving vehicle to make the getaway appear as wildly slapdash as possible. Leto’s feral laughter was heard as he and his jester tossed molotov cocktails at all of my neighbors’ houses. Despite the claims of arson, the only fire I saw that day came from Leto’s unflinching dedication to authenticity.

Suicide Squad hits theaters this Friday, August 5th. Find out more about the chaotic group hereget tickets here and check out more Jared Leto here.

NEARLY OROTORIO: SIMON LAM’S STRIPPED DOWN  TIN EP
April 15, 2016 11:43 am

Melbourne’s Simon Lam is known by many names. Earlier this month, Lam, who releases solo material through the Nearly Orotorio moniker, dropped his second EP, Tin, via Solitaire Recordings.

Whether contributing vocal tracks or lending his keen sound engineering chops, Simon Lam has done a lot in a short span of time–and it seems like any project he decides to take on tends to make its way to an increasingly wide audience. His career launched in 2010 with the formation of Kins, a group that initially manifested in Australia, but later transplanted to Brighton, England. Kins fused wistful guitar with downtempo electronic breaks. They followed up the release of their self-titled full-length by touring in support of last year’s indie rock blockbuster, Courtney Barnett, before officially calling it quits in February. Meanwhile Lam, who didn’t stay around for Kins to fully come to fruition, was busy parsing together tapestries of his soulful vocals and minimal electronics with I’lls. Next he was building warm synth backdrops to back fellow-Melbourn songstress Chloe Kaul for their project Kllo.  They released a debut EP Cusp in 2015 via Dot Dash / Remote Control.

Lam’s first Nearly Oratorio release Showers was released in 2011, perhaps opening the door to some of his other collaborations. His fluid transition from one project to the next is disorienting indeed, but it’s the sign of an ambitious recording artist dedicated to his art and finding just the right collaborative environment to find inspiration for his next work.

Tin is a collection of oddball ditties dedicated to the wandering thinkers and creatives that occasionally get stuck inside their heads. To soak in this album properly one simply needs to lay back in a comfortable position, adorn a pair of headphones and take it in. Tin captures the essence of Sam Lam’s tinkering, the thought-process of a tireless scientist going through the motions of artistic process. It’s packed with a modest range of percussion adding texture and rhythmic dimension to his tracks which are otherwise bare-bones: Sam’s soothing R&B falsetto accompanied by a trickle of acoustic guitar and under synths.  It’s a great introduction to Simon Lin’s signature blissfully minimal sound. 

FLATSOUND GETS CLOSER
March 14, 2016 12:29 pm

It’s not common for an email address listed on a musician’s official Facebook page to lead directly to that musician’s personal email account. I’m almost taken aback by what a seemingly intimate way this is to make a business arrangement, but knowing Mitch Welling’s approach to writing and how he interacts with his fans, I shouldn’t be surprised.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS got personal with Mr. Flatsound himself to find out what goes on inside his head.

flatsound2

You mentioned in the bio on your website that your only goal is “to create something honest.” What does honesty mean to you?

MW: It’s the lyrics and production. It feels like more than that, though. Something more subtle. It’s the selflessness that goes into every track, the idea of recording vocals in your own kitchen and mixing songs in your bedroom at 5am. I guess it’s Flatsound as a whole. The little things all add up and make a bigger picture. I just want to keep working on that picture and connecting with the people who see themselves in it.

You released two EPs in 2015, Four Songs for Losing You and If We Could Just Pretend. Was there a reason for releasing these separately, versus all tracks on one album? Do you prefer to release tracks as you have them?

MW: Ah I couldn’t have just lumped them into one release. It probably would have worked (not to mention made me more money) if I had passed it off as a new full length, but the disconnect between the songs would have bothered me too much. The songs off of If We Could Just Pretend were just unreleased songs that I had laying around and thought deserved to be released. Four Songs For Losing You was something different; a concept album with a beginning, middle, and end. I couldn’t imagine breaking those songs up. I’m a sucker for themed releases, even if they’re short.

Your 2012 LP Sleep was recently released on vinyl. Is this something your fans requested? Do you find they prefer to listen to your music on vinyl, versus MP3 or CD?

MW: Oh my God, yes. Fans want vinyl today more than anything, they just keep getting more popular every year. Unfortunately for little ol’ independent me, putting out a record is an enormous project, so I typically have to work with different labels to even pull them off. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just kind of weird to send fans in different directions for specific releases. Not to mention some of the labels are smaller, inexperienced, or just get dealt a bad hand by the pressing plant resulting in major delays. I have nothing but good things to say about Sleep on vinyl, though. Broken World Media did an amazing job all the way through.

I love the sound of vinyl but most of my music listening is done digitally. Modern convenience killed my indie cred years ago.

You run your online merchandise shop yourself. Do you also pack and ship everything on your own? That must take a long time.

MW: Yup! I mean, yeah it gets pretty crazy sometimes. Especially when new items go up. My girlfriend helps a lot when things get too crazy and I feel overwhelmed, but on a casual day it’s just me. Printing labels, assembling packages, signing stuff, doing my best to reply to customer service related emails. Sometimes it gets a little mind numbing, but I just treat it like any other job and it’s not so bad. Plus, sitting there signing cards and folding shirts for a couple hours while listening to podcasts beats the heck out of most jobs, right? The rest of my work day is pretty creative and fun.

You mentioned you were passionate about gender issues when discussing the inclusion of your song “You Were a Home That I Wanted to Grow Up In” in a compilation to support Casa Ruby (a support center for trans people). How has this commitment to gender issues shown itself in your life?

MW: I mean, I’ve lost fans here and there from being so outspoken about gender issues in the past, but I couldn’t imagine something bothering me less than that hahaha. It’s a common theme in the advice podcast I record with one of my best friends, Christian Novelli, who happens to identify as agender. I don’t know, it’s such an every day part of my life that I don’t recognize it, but the passion and importance is still there.

Other than that, I’d say my dreadful left wing agenda is kept pretty low key. Though, I am known for occasionally starting twitter beefs with problematic internet superstars much larger than I will ever be.

In 2015, you requested for your fans to send in photos of their beds for a project you later called “Four Hundred Twenty-Seven Beds”. Your explanation for this was to use the photos to help you get out of your own bed. Did it work? Did the project have any other outcomes you weren’t expecting?

MW: The beds project was beautiful! I honestly didn’t expect so many people to actually do it. When I created the page I thought, if I was lucky, maybe 30 or 40 people would contribute to my boring little art project. Maybe I would put them on my website to show everyone, that was that. But, over 400? It forced me to rethink the entire project and turn it into something physical. Having them each printed, and covering a wall with them. The video was more impactful than I thought it would be.

Was “Four Hundred Twenty-Seven Beds” an effort to fight depression and anxiety? Do you ever struggle to create when faced with the symptoms of those conditions?

MW: I’d love to get all deep and say that I create my art when I’m at my lowest, and the words and sounds you hear are excerpts from that, but that isn’t the case. The truth is, anxiety and depression make everything harder. That’s just how it works. It kills your ambition to do anything, including make art. The fact of the matter is, I create my best work and am the most productive when I’m happy. The words and emotions are genuine, but they’re a recollection. A catharsis. Most of all, a reminder that it’s okay to feel a certain way. Let it come, but more importantly, let it go.

You don’t seem to vlog anymore. Does it have something to do with “The Gatorade Story”? Does the subject of the story know it’s about her?

MW: Hahahaha, very funny! I actually tried to look her up on Facebook a couple years ago. You know, for scientific reasons. To see if she still drank Gatorade or whatever. Anyway, I realized that I couldn’t even remember her name. I hope she doesn’t remember mine either.

In your “Electromagnetic” video, the video is shot in such a way as to imply the electromagnetic waves of your phone and guitar are contributing to the song playing over the video. Can you speak to the actual process used to create the song in the video?

MW: Oh I really love that video a lot. It’s a visual demonstration of a noise piece from my website. It’s pretty simple stuff, you’ve got an electric guitar running through different heavy ambient and reverb effects and a smart phone held up to the electric pickups of the instrument. Without ever actually touching the guitar, you hear the many beautiful sounds coming from the phone as it makes its way through different applications. The most beautiful part is, everything that you do in your phone sounds different and creates a unique pattern of sound; Twitter, iMessage, your home screen, even taking a picture. It all has it’s own little beautiful pattern of noises.

I know, it comes off as pretentious postmodern nonsense, but stuff like this really does drive me wild.

What are your plans for 2016? Any tours? 

MW: I actually don’t know yet! So far my plate is pretty full from the future releases I have coming up. I’m releasing yet another EP soon titled Did Everything Feel Beautiful When You Let Go of the Idea of Being Anything At All, it’s about panic and agoraphobia. Later I have a full length spoken word album, and then I’m even trying to squeeze in another full length after that.

I’ve never toured. I barely even consider Flatsound a normal band or music project. It’s always just me creating art and showing it to people online, and one of those outlets of art just happens to be songwriting. I’m fortunate enough to be friends with some really successful and amazing bands, and they keep inviting me on their tours, so maybe I’ll actually take them up on that soon. More realistically, I’d love to get back into the habit of playing local shows again now that my fanbase has gotten as big as it is. Baby steps I guess.

MILAN TO MINSK TO MERCURY LOUNGE: EP RELEASE
February 26, 2016 10:15 am

Brooklyn based indie art-pop act Milan to Minsk were out this past Tuesday night to release their debut self-titled
EP at Mercury Lounge. The show brought life and color to an otherwise grey and rainy New York City day. Opening the night was Gobbinjr and a particularly energetic set by atmospheric indie rock band Isadora.

DPP_017Milan to Minsk are a special case of Brooklyn indie rock – a rare combination of classically trained and jazz musicians who initially met within the musical community of Tel Aviv, Israel. The bond is clear in the tightness of their unique sound. A sound which has a definite 90’s influence, with the sophistication of Coltrane, the obscurity of Bowie, and a possibly unhealthy obsession with Sting. The musicality of Milan to Minsk’s rhythm/horn section, coupled with the intellectual yet humorous songwriting of lead singer Daniel Rote is absolutely a show worth seeing.

While the band lacks the visibility that some of the Brooklyn indie scene has garnished, their style remains true to the DIY, community oriented ethos that defines the bushwick neighborhood music scene. It’s a humble approach to an at times vanity filled, ego driven scene which seems to forget about the music.

If true creativity, musicality and originality is something that you have been missing in your musical consumption as of late, then the Beasts highly suggest you take a listen to the brand new Milan to Minsk EP and make sure to check them out at an upcoming show. You can find the dates here.

QUIRKY CLEVER KOOKY COOL: WEAVES
November 24, 2015 8:31 am

Toronto has produced yet another phenomenal alternative indie music act with Weaves. Although they have only been a band for less than two years, Weaves has been on the Beasts’ radar for a while now, playing our CMJ showcase at Pianos this past October, and living up to the respectable hype generated by publications such as The Gaurdian, NME, and Rolling Stone.

weaves

The praise is well warranted as the music of Weaves is in a category of it’s own. Front woman Jasmyn Burke and friends have created a spunky brand of laid back stoner pop that has been immersed in a world of pop art. The laid back vibe brings a wave of 90’s nostalgia with it, drawing comparisons to acts such as The Thermals and fellow Canadians The New Pornographers. But Weaves has something more. They have a creative element to their sound that goes beyond music. Is it the recognizable sense of humor? The non-chalantness? Or the never before seen Individuality? I’d say it some combination of all of these.

Their debut self-titled EP is a sonic masterpiece of the lazy punk- indie rock aesthetic. The record, released through Buzz Records, was produced by Dave Newfeld, known for his work with Broken Social Scene and Super Furry Animals. Tracks like “Take A Dip” feature wailing guitars and upbeat melodies while tracks like “Buttercup” and “Do You See Past” present a loosened up and faded side of Weaves.

After their big 2014 release, Weaves shows no signs of slowing down. Their Summer was spent on tour in Europe and since their New York City CMJ appearance, they have been spotted in Iceland. Their next show will be in their hometown of Toronto at Lee’s Palace December 5th. So if you’re in the area, make sure to see Weaves make their waves.

If your like the rest of us, You will probably be reminiscing a bit this holiday weekend on how the hell you’ve gotten so old. So the Beasts suggest you take a trip out of time, perhaps back to the 90’s, throw on the Weaves EP, and go ahead, stuff your face, we’re not watching.

CREATE CULTURE @ EMPIRE CONTROL ROOM & GARAGE
October 18, 2015 6:34 pm

Come and get your art on before Art Outside this Wednesday, 9pm Oct. 21st at Empire Control Room & Garage‘s eventGet loose before you jump into the festivities, meet some peeps, funk the night away and make some new friends for the fest. Don’t be a spectator of Art Outside, be a part of it. Create Culture is featuring their first ‘from beyond Texas’ visual artist; Apex Collective.

Art Outsides’ Featured Guest Artist Zach Jackson will be at the Control Room alongside the Collective with Jake Amazon and The Artwork of Stephen Kruse. Currently Jackson is working and living in Los Angeles, California creating. Lucky enough, we’ve got him to come out to Austin, TX and be apart of ASO again this year!  Last year, Jackson had incredible pieces. Watching him start on a blank canvas to what was created by Sunday evening is unforgettable. His pieces looked as if they were straight out of a sci-fi novel, with an incredibly futuristic and mechanical aesthetic. His work is undeniably one of a kind.

Music all night by Fractala, Funky JesusMetranohm and Fractal Dragon. There will be plenty going on with hooping, live art performances, healers, vending and artists. Tickets at the door 5$/18+ and 5$ suggested donation/21+.

Funky music, psychedelic art work and good times.
LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL.

Art Outside; The Festival Awaits
October 15, 2015 9:43 am

The festivities are about to begin! Art Outside is next weekend folks, October 22nd-25th. A four day camping festival just one hour outside of Austin. This festival includes music, performances, visual art and workshops to stimulate all of your senses. This is the 11th year and it is not cooling down! Well, the weather will be but nothing else! The fest has a close intimate feeling with guests and artists, and that’s something you just don’t get at other festivals here in ATX.

There are 4 stages with 83 sets starting Thursday and isn’t stopping till Sunday at midnight. The acts vary from electronic to rock n’ roll, folk to DJ sets to live performance art . Lettuce, Holding Space, Bonobo DJ set, Sangre Del Sol, Elephant Revival, Transcontinental Trip, Greensky Bluegrass, Golden Dawn Arkestra, Rising Appalachia and Papasido are just a few to start with! The list just doesn’t stop on the amazing acts that are about to happen. AOS fest has an amazing schedule set with music going on every day and every night till sunrise.

Live art is in the making all day. You can watch artists create their master pieces from start to finish as the weekend rolls through. The artists are set up all throughout the festival grounds surrounding stages, under trees and vending set up with pieces ready! You have the chance to meet artists personally and see their passion and creativity from hand to canvas. Featured Guests Artists include Michael & Violet Divine, Randal Roberts & Morgan Mandela, DELA, Zach Johnson, Andy Reed, Kengo, Ian Spencer, Bild, Norm4eva , Molly Gardner and Olive Love are going to be in the gallery with more TBA! Art Installations will be covering Apache Pass fest grounds by Christina Sporrong, Shrines, Christian Ristow, The Wooden Nickel Carnival, James Peterson and Michael Christian.

THERE IS A DIDGERIDOO WORKSHOP. How cool is that?! Who doesn’t want to learn the didgeridoo?! Just the name of it is something to spark interest. There is also acro yoga, essential oil mixing, permaculture 101 and a galactic portrait art class w/ DELA and more. There has been some talk of “laughing concentration circles” too. Hmmm.

You can think of it as “Austins’ Burning Man” without the harsh weather conditions. The festival is stimulating and interactive, there are so many things going on to see, do and experience. The music, art, food, workshops, interactive art pieces, camping, and vending are all kid-friendly and totally catered to the people and the artists. Those are just a few of the things to anticipate the experience of true expression.  TICKETS STILL ON SALE. Who knows what else is going to happen that they haven’t told us, —> hinting to you AOS! Can’t wait!!

LAST TASTE OF FAILE @ BK MUSEUM
September 22, 2015 9:30 pm

Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller are the master collaborators who morphed together two greatly artistic minds to conceptualize Faile. Sections of the “Savage/Sacred Young Minds” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum has been splattered all over the Instagrams of Brooklynites since July, and it only resides here until October 4th, so tap into that nostalgia of the graffiti covered walls you saw inside the tiny bathroom of your first Brooklyn pub, and delve into the energy of the artwork inspired by such a staple of NYC grit.

I walked into the drastic blast of glowing colors and neon lights that covered the entirety of the 5th floor Faile exhibit. Now, I gotta be honest, it was the last hour the museum was open and I had prepared myself for a truly ethereal, artful immersion for Faile at a bottomless brunch earlier, so it took my eyes a second to adjust. Once that happened, I was able to witness the awe of this installation. I felt silly for waiting this long to see it in the first place since I had a craving the next day to be inside the room once again. It gave me nostalgic fondness of adolescent innocence; trying to make sense of and understand the world through a perspective of pop culture, digital interactions, and a rebellion whose loudness reverberated off the walls.

FAILE ART

The interactivity displayed through pinball machines in the arcade were a perfect provider of the playful noise that encapsulated the down-to-earth, full sensory experience that the Patricks intended to create. It was not just an amazingly modern Warhol-esque exhibit, it was a full-bodied experience that was too small for my liking. The entire damn 5th floor could have been turned into a little galaxy of trippy colors and could have moved the American Identities to the fabric of the streets of Brooklyn itself! (Kidding.. American Identities is great too! Although it would be cool to see them plastered on brick buildings.)

Public accessibility to great art adds to the likability of the Patricks, whose namesake “Faile” came from “A Life” because of their interest to incorporate what every good artist knows all too well. “Look past your failures and you’ll find life.”

Written by Annie Paul 

FAILE ART

@dustyrebel FaileArt In Redhook, BK

@dustyrebel FaileArt In Redhook, BK

FAILE ART

FAILE ART

IMG_2876

Out in the Streets Festival
August 12, 2015 4:31 pm

Not so far off from Bushwick, Out in the Streets Festival took place at the Onderdonk House on a spacious lawn where tents were set up for local music, food, and artists. Although this ‘festival’ was on a much smaller scale, it showcased the best of Brooklyn’s indie artists. The sun was blazing and people were chillin on the grass with their friends. People were buying booze and scarfing down on some cheesy Archie’s Pizza slices, while listening to bands play.

DSC_1041

As I step foot into the festival on the bright Saturday afternoon, I was unexpectedly welcomed by a pretty hardcore rock n’ roll band, A Bunch of Dead People. They were badass, to say the least. The rest of the show was just a plethora of awesome, unsung talent waiting to burst through the Brooklyn flames.

ABunchofDeadPeople

A Bunch of Dead People

Next on stage were the trio Haybaby who rocked their beats out with some catchy bass tunes and smooth female voice from Leslie. As the day started to pass by, the tunes slowly transformed into more chill vibes.

Haybaby

HayBaby

Balancer played some beachy tunes that made me want to close my eyes and just let my body flow with the rhythm. They have a really badass female drummer who made some sick beats which kept me on my feet throughout the set.

I was put in a state of euphoria when Salt Cathedral started playing some electro dream-pop. Her breathy voice really captured my soul left me in a peaceful state.

SaltCathedral1

Salt Cathedral

Stranger Cat kept the electro indie-pop streak going and did a brilliant job covering Sia’s “Chandelier” which left everyone in awe. As the night approached, more people started to crowd towards the stage and Mr. Twin Sister entered with some trippy psychedelic music and made the audience dance.

StrangerCat2

Stranger Cat

Sunday afternoon also started with some pretty guitar heavy rock ‘n rollers KDH. Their long hairs swaying side to side really added an extra touch to their energetic stage presence and music.

KDH2

KDH

Spritzer showed some catchy indie rock tunes that were surprisingly titled with the word “die” in it, which seemed bizarre to me since the melody didn’t sound as dark as it’s titles. Nevertheless, they’re still a solid local band that I hope to see more of in the near future!

Spritzer

Spritzer

Heliotropes had some 70’s rock elements which made it sound nostalgic and immediately caused me to fall in love with them. Seeing a female lead singer with badass guitar skills taking over the stage sure did keep the crowd going.

Heliotropes

Heliotropes

The festival ended with a big bang when The Love Supreme tore up the stage. Having over 10 people on such small space, it was already a party starting to happen. As the music started playing the singer hopped off the stage and mingled with the audience which kept everybody excited. They were definitely the right fit to end such a lovely festival where I discovered many amazing upcoming local bands.

TheLoveSupreme29

The Love Supreme

 

<3

DSC_1054

Make Way For Makeunder: Great Headless Blank
July 31, 2015 1:54 pm

The buzz is growing around Oakland-based experimental indie band Makeunder. With the recent release of their EP titled “Great Headless Blank“, and after a small article posted by NPR, Makeunder’s eclectic sounds and raw emotions are beginning to seep into the collective consciousness of the musically inclined, and rightly so. Makeunder’s music provides a candid perspective on life’s realities in a detached world of computer screens and cell phones. The birth of this project, as lead singer and songwriter Hamilton Ulmer explains, came about largely as the result of an intense period of family tragedy ending with the death of his father and the cleaning out of his childhood home in San Antonio, Texas. It was there, during a five day stretch in which only a violin, a family trumpet, and a laptop microphone were used,  that Ulmer unloaded five songs that would go on to become Makeunder’s debut EP. With Radiate Satellite, Ulmer successfully crafted a style reminiscent of the Dirty Projectors, which draws on diverse influences, from traditional world, to Earth Wind and Fire, to Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring. Three years since it’s conception and enough time to heal, Makeunder is back with an even bigger and more curious sound than ever with Great Headless Blank. An insightful and intelligent man indeed, I recently got the chance to ask Hamilton a few questions…

Hamilton_medium_wide

So it sounds like you came from an artistic background. Was there anything in particular that made your childhood Atypical? 

Sure, well I can’t speak for kid’s in other socio-economic strata, but my parents moved to this middle class neighborhood in San Antonio, and they were these two sort of hick artists from northern California who did not belong. This is Southwest Texas, there weren’t a lot of people like them, and they were extremely committed to their art. So, my childhood we were encouraged to paint our walls, we were encouraged to pursue weird ideas, and also I think my parents, even though they didn’t vocalize it, I think they always hoped their children would become artists like them. Kind of like a lot of parents have hopes for their children’s careers. I don’t think they’d ever admit it though…

Interesting, so coming from your childhood, how exactly did your musical style develop throughout the years?

For me, I don’t really see my music as pursuing something different than what I’d always done. I feel like what I make is really sort of within my own musical world. Which even though my music might not sound very traditional, It feels very natural to me. And that’s just because I have kind of a weird musical background. Growing up my parents loved Marvin Gaye, they loved Earth Wind and Fire, they loved Stevie Wonder. For a while my parents were obsessed with African drumming. There was a period they became obsessed with Australian Aboriginal music. And then, when I was around twelve years old I heard Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring for the first time, and that completely convinced me I wanted to become a classical composer. So, I studied music rally intensely from about the ages of 12 to 18 right before I left for college.

So when you moved to the Bay Area, was there anything in particular that drew you there?

I think it was more just life circumstances. My parents didn’t make a lot of money, so I figured I desperately needed to get a job somehow. So, I did what a lot of people from my school did, which is get into tech. But I think it was sort of hard to fight that sort of primal call to be an artist that my parents had demonstrated to me.

Hamilton_coffee

So I guess you weren’t really planning on becoming a musician?

I kind of decided on being a musician at a really young age. So when I went to college, I always wondered if I would get back into music, or if it was just a matter of time before I jumped careers completely. Also, I wasn’t sure if I had missed the boat, because I had spent my early twenties studying and doing other things. Of course, I don’t think there’s ever any bad time to get back into art. I mean, if you want to be an artist, you’re committing to doing that for the rest of your life, regardless of your age.

Good answer! Was it hard to find the performing cast when that time came?

Yeah it was really hard. When I got back into music I hardly knew anyone at all. I think my ability to write music is a lot stronger than my ability to find people that were like minded. It’s a whole other skill set to find, I think, and learn how to work with other musicians. You’re gonna have to learn their language basically.

How about theme wise? Do you think you’ve moved on from the overall character of your previous EP? 

I think I had come to terms with a really difficult year before I had even begun recording the EP. And I think I needed to. The songs that I had wrote during that period were really sort of morose. It felt too somber, I didn’t really want that to be the memory that I had crafted from that period. Because even when there’s so much grief and tragedy, there’s so many more complicated emotions that come with that sort of experience. And I wanted to tackle that musically.

Hamilton_close_up

So I guess it’s looking at things in a different light…

Yeah, and one of the things about Radiate Satellite is I had never wrote about personal experiences like that. So for me, I think that was a gateway into telling personal stories through songs, and pretty much all of the songs from Great Headless Blank are like that.

Interesting. So you talk a lot about death. What do you think should be the aim of life while you are alive? 

*Laughs I probably have an overly simplistic view about what life should be about. I think you should put out really good work, and be good to the people in your life. Some people I think focus on one thing over the other. But if you had to pick just one of those two you should probably be good to people *laughs. 

Definitely, I think we all need a little bit more of that… What do you think is the role of the artist or musician to society?

I recently read something… Do you know who E.O. Wilson is? Well, he was this Biologist, and this incredible writer. And he said something that really resonated with me. That “story telling doesn’t just accentuate the human experience; story telling IS the human experience.” It is sort of what motivates our species. I think it’s the one thing that truly separates us from other creatures.

Awesome. So are you going on tour anytime soon?

Yeah we’re locking down the rest of our tour for the fall, and the rest will be done in February. Everything’s kind of shifting under our feet right now because of the whole NPR thing. That’s one thing that I didn’t think would ever happen.

Well who knows whats next after that..

Honestly, yeah. But literally know one  knows… *laughs

Time will tell what the future holds for this band, but before that time comes, the beasts suggest you take a listen to Makeunder’s Great Headless Blank, and appreciate the realness while you can.