ATX

TELE NOVELLA: REFRESHINGLY DRAMA-FREE
August 31, 2016 9:58 am

Tele Novella are gearing up to release their debut album, House of Souls, on September 23rd and have already begun to wet our taste buds with the deliciously subdued first single “Heavy Balloon”. Members Natalie Ribbons, Jason Chronis, Matt Simon, and Sarah La Puerta formed the band as a supergroup of sorts, coming from bands including Agent Ribbons (Natalie), Voxtrot and Belaire (Jason, Matt), as well as solo projects (Sarah).

ATYPICAL SOUNDS had a nice chat with Natalie on recording the new album, and how she really feels about SXSW.

What can your fans expect to hear on the new album?
They can expect to hear toe-tapping cynicism, hope-filled broken-ness, odes to the joys of hoarding in 3/4, and sex. Spooky sex.

Is there anything you learned during its recording that you wish you had known going into it?
Ho boy. Right for the ol’ can-o-worms question! Haha. The short answer is YES. But honestly, you’d have to be a fool or otherwise not give a shit for the answer to not be yes! I’d really rather not bore you with the details.

You’ve all come from other bands or solo projects. What do you feel you’ve been able to bring to Tele Novella?

Well, we all bring a lot to the band, given our collective experience and (of course) talents. This is such a talented and creative band, I’m beyond thrilled that we’ve stuck it out long enough to get to this point because it’s such a delightful group of people to work with!

Figuring out exactly what we should bring rather than can bring has been the question.  We’re still carving out our aesthetic world and figuring out who and what we are as a musical entity! This album has brought us so much closer to knowing what that is, and I think we have a clearer vision for where to go from here than we ever did!

Sometimes it’s more about subtracting elements rather than adding to them, and we’re going more in that direction now. When I was a little kid coloring pictures at the kitchen table, my grandpa used to ALWAYS say to me, “Natalie, a great artist knows when to stop.” It’s kind of hilarious to think of saying that to a little kid, but it has really stuck with me and I am only just now starting to deeply consider that advice.

Is there anything you’ve done (or want to do) with Tele Novella you feel you couldn’t do with your past bands or projects?

I can’t speak for the others, but in my case, yes. I am working with very experienced people, so when presented with a new song, the group approaches it as though it were a little gemstone or something. You turn it this way, and this facet is particularly of interest or prominence. You turn it that way, and you’re looking at something else entirely, perhaps emphasizing other aspects not seen before.

There are many more options, a greater array of possible directions. Sometimes this is overwhelming, but for the most part it is much better! This is the case not only at rehearsal but also in the recording studio. Everyone contributed so much, I actually probably contributed the least as far as production and arrangement goes. These are Jason’s area of expertise, for sure. He has a striking and natural talent for knowing how to take a song and really make it bloom in the recording studio. Of course, Danny Reisch played a large role in this also—he recorded the album.

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How did you all get together as a band?

Jason and Matt have been in bands together for years, starting with Voxtrot and most recently before Tele Novella, they were in Belaire together. My old band Agent Ribbons dissipated shortly before SXSW where I was still scheduled to appear, so we put Tele Novella together on the fly with members of Belaire. It turned out really well so we just kept doing it!

How do you feel about SXSW? Do you love it, or does it make you want to escape the city?

It’s always both. I think it’s a good thing for our city, even though the quality has declined every year in lieu of quantity. We try to participate when we can, but it’s a pain in the ass to be in the crowds or to look for a place to park the van and load everything in/out. We probably won’t do it this year, but we’ll see.

I’ve heard that Austin’s growing economy is pushing out the artists that made it a destination in the first place. Is that something you’ve experienced firsthand?

Yes, the struggle is real! Of course this is a nationwide war against the poor, not just Austin. Rich people are asserting more and more for themselves every day, and Austin is a really black and white, clear-as-day example of this for sure. Jason and I moved to a small historic town built in the late 1800s called Lockhart. It’s about 30 minutes south of Austin and it’s super cheap, but who knows how long that will last. For now it’s great though!

Austin is well-known as a music city, but are there any bands there you feel deserve more attention?

Deep Time is a long-time favorite. They are just so good, and I’m stoked they are playing again. Big Bill is the funnest band in Austin. Caroline Says is great also.

What are your favorite venues in Austin for seeing live music?

I feel like we’re missing a truly special venue at the moment. There’s an unbelievable amount of venues, but we don’t have that one special place that I crave. Cheer Up Charlies is one of my favorites, even though going downtown is not my ideal scenario (it’s a clusterfuck down there).

Have you tried the kale margaritas at Cheer Up Charlies? They’re weird, right?

Haha. Funny, I didn’t notice this question while I was typing in ‘Cheer Up Charlie’s’ but it looks like we’re on the same page with this! Yes, I’ve tried ’em. I’m not huge on margaritas, but they do a carrot-rita that’s not bad.  I like getting whiskey and kombucha there.

What are your plans for the rest of 2016? Will you be coming to New York any time soon?

We have a NYC date at Shea Stadium for October 7th. It’s all-ages.

LOVE YOUR BOYFRIEND
April 1, 2016 10:47 am

Boyfriend is hard to miss. She’s the one wearing vintage lingerie, her hair in rollers, and depending who you ask, may have started a cupcake fight during this year’s SXSW. You may have caught her last year when she toured with Big Freedia, or learned about her three EPs, LoveYour Boyfriend, parts 1, 2, and 3. The performer from New Orleans is also a brilliant conversationalist, a connoisseur of diners. 

We met up with Boyfriend at Hey Cupcake! in Austin to enjoy some beautiful weather and even-more-beautiful cupcakes.

It’s been raining here, and the mud is full of clay.

BF: You can eat it if you’re starving. It has minerals. My grandmother grew up in the 1930s in rural Alabama, and she was telling me how when they were out working sometimes, they would scoop up a little clay and be like “om nom nom.” That is so Alabama.

I think they used to eat sparrows during the depression, as well.

BF: Oh dear. That’s disgusting to me. Those disgusting, starving people.

They probably don’t have a lot of meat on them either. They’re so small and have all those feathers.

BF: They barely have marrow in their hollow bones. I’m vegetarian so I’m a little out of my realm, so who knows.

I was raised vegetarian – my parents are hippies.boyfriend_2

BF: Did you revert?

I eat fish.

BF: I eat fish occasionally. If it’s a nice sushi place.

Is there good sushi in New Orleans?

BF: I love oysters. Raw gulf oysters. Sorry Pacific and any other place that has oysters, I’m all about the gulf oysters; I mean they’re the biggest and the most delicious. But I’m biased because I grew up on the gulf coast.

How is it in New Orleans since the hurricane?

BF: It’s thriving and vibrant and expanding and gentrifying, and all of the -ing words that you associate with a hip place. Much like Austin, or Nashville, or Asheville, or Brooklyn, just a neighborhood that you used to not go to, you now go to. I think that New Orleans, specifically, is back with a vengeance. There’s just so much going on there right now.

Do you feel like you have everything you need to run your career from where you are in New Orleans?

BF: I sort of resist the narrative of being a “blank-based artist” because I think anyone who’s being realistic knows that you’re an internet-based artist, and that physically you might be in one place but your emailing with people in different places every single day, and you’re going to places for meetings, and for sessions. So, could I have stayed in New Orleans and not leave, and become who I’ve become? No way. But I don’t think anyone could stay where they live and become who they’re going to become. You should always reach out. I’ve always been very much a tumbleweed, gypsy lady.

Have you lived in other places?

BF: I grew up in Nashville, I lived in LA for five years, then I lived in New Orleans. But during all of that, I’m also traveling constantly, bouncing around the country. It’s the nature of the life.

What are your favorite places to listen to music?

BF: I used to really enjoy Cheer Up Charlies, but I don’t know if I’m going to be allowed to go there anymore. Even back when it was called De Ville, it was a great space. I think our days are numbered.

What happened?

BF: I performed there the Friday of SXSW, and I brought cupcakes from Hey Cupcake! Before a show, I want a hot bath and I want a cupcake, and having been to Austin several times before, I was familiar with Hey Cupcake! and how delicious their stuff is, especially their cream cheese icing.

The person I shared my Lyft car with this morning said the same thing.

BF: So I’m not alone. So I was having one, and I said to the manager, “We need to make sure that everyone at the show tonight has one of these. I think that would be very special”. I was the final set of the night, so everyone was going to be hungry and drunk. We’ve got to feed them. So we brought 250 cupcakes to the show to make sure everyone there got to have one, and things got a little bit rowdy as they tend to at the end of a show. And, unfortunately, the venue was kind of upset about that.

Did you have to stay behind and mop the floor?

BF: Well, I didn’t.

Was this your first SXSW?

BF: My second, technically my third. I was there, sort of as a ghost my first year. As a spirit, haunting the place.

Did you perform?

BF: I did, unofficially. I enjoy.

Your costumes are great [she’s wearing a 1950s-style satin bra and panty set with a dressing gown].

BF: Thanks. Believe it or not, this was from a fan. I perform a birthday bash every year in New Orleans and it’s become sort of a thing where I give everyone gifts. I pretty much give everyone gifts at every show; cupcakes, tampons, something, but since it was my birthday I decided to really go all-out. So anyone who came in lingerie received an actual present in a bag. And that’s something I do for all my birthday shows – you dress up in lingerie, you will be rewarded.

Well, I started receiving gifts as part of the whole exchange and someone handed me this beautifully wrapped, it was wrapped in an antique mat with a sprig of lavender, and [gestures to her dressing gown] this robe was inside of it. She just took it upon herself to make this for me. So then I reached out to her on Instagram, my favorite place, and said “I love the robe, I want something to wear under it.” and so she found this vintage pattern, and I sent her my measurements, and I picked out the color, and it matches my nails. And there we are.

It looks great.

BF: Thank you! It feels great. I’ll never wear another thread of denim in my life. I need something slick.

Denim can chafe, especially if it’s hot out. When I was researching you for this interview, I noticed that certain publications were trying to describe your performance style. I think NPR called you a “mysterious, raunchy, feminist”, and Paper Magazine said you were “endearingly weird.” Do you feel like those descriptions are accurate? Or rather how would you like people to see what you’re doing, and what would you like them to get out of it?

BF: I practice bathtub meditation, and one of the things I focus on when I am neck deep in bubbles, is not being invested in the reaction of others, for I know I have no control over that. I can control whether or not my nails match my outfit, I can control how much champagne in pour into my flute before I get into the bathtub, but I cannot control how people react to me. So they will choose their adjectives and I’d say that NPR chose some pretty good adjectives. I hope other people agree with those adjectives. I’m sure there’s a few flying around after Cheer Up Charlies. I love the English language, whether the adjectives are favorable or unfavorable.

A lot of your songs focus around feminist issues. Would you say you became interested in that because they’re issues that effect you directly, or are you interested in feminism as a whole, or is it a combination of the two?

BF: Feminism as a whole, and feminism as an individual, and feminism as an unconscious mode of being. As being a woman, born into the world, and walking around the planet as a woman. These are just the things that I experience and encounter, and those are the things I comment on.

Have you performed in New York?

BF: I have. I was on tour with Big Freedia this fall, and we performed at Irving Plaza. And I’ve performed at Pianos, and I’ve performed at Joe’s Pub. I especially love Joe’s Pub because the cabaret setting is the perfect setting for Rap Cabaret.

What’s coming up for you this year?

BF: I released an album yesterday. It’s a baby, an infant, it has not yet suckled at my teat, it’s so young. So that was Love Your Boyfriend, Pt. 3. and it is the third and final part of the Love Your Boyfriend EP.

Do you listen to a lot of rap?

BF: I’ll tell you this: I don’t think that Harper Lee read a novel and turned around and wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. I think that she grew up in the south, as a woman, experiencing things, observing things, and then she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. And that would be my answer to who influences me, and why I avoid talking about music that I listen to. Because I think that journalism, the knee-jerk reaction is to be referential, saying “If you’re this band, you must like this band, this band, this band.” And the band says “Yes, we do like this band, this band, this band.” It just becomes a list instead of a dialogue. Waiting in line at the bank might be as influential on a song as a concert you saw when you were four years old.

I did actually go to the Lilith Fair when I was eight. My mom loved Sarah McLachlan, but when I was eight, I was loving Jewel. Pieces of You is like my jam. Yeah, I loved the Lilith Fair.

Do you have any last words before you hit the road again?

BF: Let them eat cake.

BASSH INTO SXSW
March 31, 2016 9:30 am

Though the name Bassh may be new to you, it’s members shouldn’t be; the band is comprised of CJ Hardee and Jimmy Brown of Matrimony. Though they have only released one single so far, Bassh has already managed to catch some buzz from sites like NPR and Perez Hilton.

We caught up with CJ and Jimmy in Austin to talk shop about SXSW and what it’s like being a new band working towards their own sound.

How did SXSW go for you guys?

CH: It was exhausting, but fun.

You did four shows?

CH: We had four shows, plus a couple of other things, we were running around nonstop, basically.

JB: We had a lot of fun, though. It was really awesome.

What sort of things did you do for fun?

CH: We went to a castle. We finished a show and met a photographer, and she invited us to this castle. It was literally a castle.

Was it nearby?

CH: It’s in Austin, somewhere. There was a pool-moat, it was literally a castle. I’m talking spiral staircases, the whole nine yards. And they had a full bar, they had a bass rig, a guitar rig. We just hung out and played as a band all night. So that’s what we did for fun.

How did your shows go?

JB: They were really good. There were lots of different venues, we really had a good time. We saw some new bands, and we were all just kind of exploring and figuring out how to do live shows in the best way. All of us have been in different bands before, so I really value that opportunity to acknowledge the fact that [Bassh] is a new thing and it’s raw and we’re still figuring it out. I think for me, to put it in layman’s terms, when something is happening to you it’s a lot more exciting but a lot of the time you don’t realize it in the moment. And then you look back and think, “That was a really good time.” We try to keep up with how fresh it is, and really enjoy it, not put too many expectations on it, and just let it happen.

Was there anything you learned in your past bands, that you carried over to Bassh?

JB: You learn a lot of stuff along the way. You learn how to play better, you learn how to sing better, how to deal with things going on better, how to cope with being really tired better.

How do you cope with that?

JB: You just have to get over it. Sarah, our PR girl, she brings us water and stuff to rehydrate us.

Have you been to Austin before?

JB: I’d been there a few times to play shows with other bands, Austin’s a great place.

Do you have any pointers for bands going to their first SXSW?

JB: Don’t expect to get a soundcheck. For someone that’s never done SXSW before, they might freak out that they might not get that. You get there, you have five seconds to set up, and they feel like “This is South By, I thought I was going to make it this year.” You never know who you’re going to meet, or who you’re going to see. You just got to kill it.

You’re based in Nashville now, right?

JB: I’ve been there 10 months or a year, something like that.

How do you like it so far?

JB: Well I’m still there. It’s one of those things where you move somewhere and you learn a lot because your environment changes. You get to enjoy the new things, and also the pros and cons. I think for Bassh and for the music side of things, I think Nashville is a good place.

Are there certain things in Nashville you feel you can benefit from, versus being based in a place like New York or Los Angeles?

JB: Probably, it depends on what your goals are. If you want to write with other people, and perform with other people, than those are all good places. Some people don’t want to do that, a lot of people realize that’s not for them and they just don’t want to do that. It just depends. It’s a good experience and it’s good to feel it out, and you’ll definitely learn something from it.

You released “Body”, your first single, recently. Is there an album coming?

JB: We’re going to do another single pretty soon, and we’ll put out an EP or an album. We’ve got a plan. Once you put an album out, it’s out, so it’s like the way the music industry is, everything is very instantaneous. So once you make an album, then you have to make another album. I think for us, we’re a band still defining what our sound is. I think doing it this way allows us to be more creative.

EVERYTHING IS NICE WITH LUCAS DIPASQUALE
March 30, 2016 10:02 am

What do Canadian 20-somethings have in common with Jamaican dancehall music? Everything, apparently. Lucas DiPasquale went viral in 2014 with his acoustic mashup of Popcaan tracks and just recently he was at SXSW, performing with bands including The Posterz and The Lytics.

We caught up with Lucas in the lobby of absurdly luxurious Austin hotel The Driskill to get his side of the story.

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Was this your first SXSW?

LD: Yes, it was incredible. I didn’t know what to expect. I’d never been to Austin, never been to Texas. Honestly, other than Miami, I’ve never been to the southern United States. I’ve never really explored down here, and it’s just a different United States – different than the big metropolises like New York and Chicago, way different. I love that.

I got there on Tuesday. I had some good meals and did a few shows on Tuesday and Wednesday, and saw some great acts.

Did you see any bands that you thought were really good?

LD: I saw Anderson .Paak, Jake Bugg, both of them just incredible. Blew my mind. I saw Jack Garratt at a Playstation kind of event, he was…as a person who uses loops onstage, I have an acoustic guitar, and I try to do my own one-man kind of thing? He blew my mind. Just incredible.

You’ve been playing guitar since you were eight-years-old. What inspires an eight-year-old to pick up a guitar?

LD: I actually asked for drums. I always had rhythm, but my parents were like “Ehh…I don’t think so, let’s get you a guitar.”. So it kind of just happened, and then I didn’t really start playing until I was 14 or 15 years old, and then I just started singing all the indie and alternative music I was listening to, and some of the rap music, trying to play it on the guitar.

And then you had that viral video.

LD: I kind of just played whatever I wanted on guitar through high school, and then in my first year in university, at the end of it, I made a Popcaan cover and it did well. It started my career.

Did the idea for your video initially come as a joke that turned into a realization that you were actually really good?

LD: I didn’t take it as a joke, but I saw it as just a cover. I listen to that music, I wanted to show my buddies that, and I was just like “Yeah, this is cool.” It’s like singing anything else. And it did well, it got a lot of attention, a lot of people respected me for that more than they respected me for anything else. I like all music, so I was just happy that people dug it. I was flattered by it; dancehall people, Jamaican people, people who are invested in the culture really liked it.

You look at artists like Iggy Azalea, who are doing something in the same kind of vein as you, and they’ve had these intense knee-jerk reactions from the public. Was that something you were concerned about?

LD: It’s still something I’m concerned about. Cultural appropriation is a discussion, it’s a conversation that needs to be had, and it’s a real thing. When you’re not real about it, or you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, then people should be upset with you. But I covered the song because I love rap and dancehall music. So music that’s not necessarily made by, you know, my race…hip hop is born in New York, so it’s “not supposed to happen”, but through the internet and by other means of communication, the music got to me. And I love it. So I just sing whatever I sing.

Are there other artists in Toronto that you feel deserve more recognition?

LD: There’s a guy named John River who’s just an incredible rapper. I’m not sure how much you know about Toronto, but there’s a greater Toronto area; so he’s from Mississauga, I’m from a place called Markham, which is just 45 minutes outside Toronto. And I don’t know him or anything, and I just started listening to his music, but I think he’s gonna bust.

You were in college when you released your video. Did you leave school to pursue your career?

LD: Yeah, so after I made the video I got a few emails from music people and record labels, asking if I was serious about it, and I don’t really know if I was, but I took a few meetings. And then my manager now, I signed to him a year and a half ago, to his production company, and it kind of just started it.

Was it a hard decision to leave school?

LD: I really liked school. I was at Ryerson for radio and television arts, and I loved it. I still love it, I still go back and make videos and stuff. But I was also waiting to do this for a while, and I think I can do this well, and I really want to perform for everyone. It was hard in the sense of “Do I want to stop going to school?” But it was easy in the “Yes, I’d like to make music. Yes, I’d like the opportunity.”

Are you considering moving to a place like New York or Los Angeles to pursue your career, or do you think you have everything you need in Toronto?

LD: Currently? Absolutely, I think I have everything I need. The future changes, and you never really know what’s going to happen, but I love Toronto and as long as I have what I need, I’d stay there forever.

What are your favorite places in Toronto to listen to music?

LD: I listen to a lot of rap music, I listen to a lot of indie and alternative music, but it’s still established artists; they’re always playing at the ticketed places like Sound Academy. My aunt sings at this jazz bar called The Rex, and I just went there the other day and I love being there.

You just released your first EP in October.

LD: There are four songs with a live version of one of them, so five tracks. That was crazy for me. It felt like my career was leading up to that, and it happened, and I was like, “Wow.”

Do you have a song from there you enjoy performing the most?

LD: I think “Come Home” is a lot of fun to play when I’m not in Toronto, because it’s about going home to Toronto and I really feel it when I’m playing it.

I’m going to be releasing a new album, probably this summer, and there’s a song called “Pager” that I’m going to start working on. It’s about my family, and I always play it in my sets. Every time I’m singing about my grandpa, and my mom and dad, I really feel it. So that’s probably my favorite song.

Do you find you’re often inspired by your family?

LD: I’m close with my family. They’re so supportive, and they’re different. I’ve been exploring the world and meeting new people, and you meet such lovely people most of the time, and you meet some people who just aren’t like your family. You realize you have really good parents and I have two brothers, they’re twins, and they’re all really good people. So you realize how blessed you are when you start exploring people and realizing what you had and what other people had and it’s cool.

JOHN MARK NELSON: SWEATING IT OUT
March 28, 2016 2:20 pm

John Mark Nelson has just begun a tour, starting with shows at SXSW and followed by seven more weeks on the road. How does he do it? ATYPICAL SOUNDS intends to find out.

We had a nice chat with the Minneapolis-based musician in the delightfully air-conditioned St. David’s church in Austin to learn what keeps him going.

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How’s your SXSW going so far?

JMN: It’s chaos. We got here yesterday. It’s going well, it just is what it is. And there’s nothing really in the world you can do to prepare.

I’ve been to music festivals before, but…

JMN: This is a special breed.

This is your second SXSW.

JMN: We came down two years ago. We skipped last year because we were kind of at a weird point in album releases where it didn’t really make sense to come all the way down here.

After this, you’re touring for another two months. How do you prepare for that?

JMN: I don’t think you can. So far, I’m doing well. You just throw everything you own into a couple of bags and hope for the best.

Is there anything you do to prepare mentally?

JMN: I’ve actually never done a tour of this length, so I don’t think there’s anything I could’ve done to prepare me. I feel like you have to take the whole trip, and not actually think about any of it, other than just that specific day. Like, “What do I have to do today?” and “How long is it until I sleep?” And then when I wake up, I think about the next day.

What is your average day on tour like?

JMN: It depends. SXSW is such a brutal beast. It’s like 9 or 10am to 2 or 3am every single day, out in the hot sun. So I think once we finish with SXSW, we’ll get into a little bit more of a semi-regular routine, where we have a 3 or 4 hour drive each day and nothing too crazy. And then we’ll play one show each night. Usually, we have three or four days on, and then a day off, so it’s not insane.

Has anything stood out to you about your most recent tour?

JMN: Two stories come to mind immediately; we did a little warm-up run right before this tour in Chicago. We got on the road from Minneapolis and one hour into the drive, I was driving, and the guy in the passenger seat yells “Pheasant!”, and two seconds later this giant pheasant explodes on the windshield. A lot of times, you see birds coming towards your car, but they always pull up at the last second, but this one did not make it. And just, bird explosion.

In terms of crazy audience stuff we had someone, a really intoxicated man, during one of our shows, trying to get me to take a nude inflatable blow-up doll.

And do what with it?

JMN: I don’t know, but I did not take the acknowledgement. He was really just holding it loud and proud. Big fellow, intoxicated, nude blow-up doll.

Is there anything you miss when you’re away from home?

JMN: I just really like being in Minnesota; it feels like home.

What’s there that’s important to you?

JMN: It’s hard to explain, really. But when you’re from the midwest, you kind of know what it is. It’s just that feeling of “This is where I’m from, this is where the people that I love are.” There’s always that element of home.

You released an album this past September. Are there any tracks you look forward to playing live, or any that got an especially good response?

JMN: It’s really fun as you create songs, to see how people react to them. Especially in a live setting when people haven’t heard them before. I feel like you can get a good gauge of a song based on the immediate reaction of people who have never heard it. And what they decide in the first minute or two really says a lot about the craft of the song. It’s been fun to watch people react. I think one that I really enjoy playing is called “That’s What You Do”, it’s the second to last track on the record, and we usually close our shows with it because it’s pretty high energy. It’s fun to see people dancing and clapping along, and I feel like if you can relax…I feel like when I go to a show I’m so analytical about it, and if a band can make me relax enough to have a good time, I feel like that’s due to the craft of their songwriting and their playing and I feel like if I see people doing that at a show of mine, I feel really grateful.

Have you found any new bands at SXSW that you like?

JMN: Tonight is actually our first showcase that we’re playing, and I got to hear the soundcheck of the girl who’s playing now, Aoife O’Donovan, she’s fantastic. I’d never heard of her before, but I think she’s from Brooklyn. So it’s really at events like this, where you’re loading in your gear and then sitting for 5-6 hours, where you really get to hear new bands. Usually, if I’m seeing stuff around the festival I’m deliberately going there to see people I want to check out or am already familiar with. But it’s when I’m playing with bands on the same bill that I get to discover new stuff.

Are there any bands in Minnesota you think deserve more recognition?

JMN: You know, the girl that plays keyboards in my band, her name’s Kara Laudon, and she’s a very very gifted songwriter, and she graciously takes time to play with me and tour with me, but she’s also a very gifted artist in her own right. She’s got a lot to give to the world, and I hope to see her make a big impact in the future.

You funded one of your last albums on Kickstarter. Did you expect that to work out so well?

JMN: I didn’t put a ton of thought into it, other than I had seen some other people do it. I thought it was worth trying, and then it raised way more money than I thought in a very short amount of time. It was fun. I don’t know if I’d ever do it again, but it was just a fun experience. It’s a very immediate and tangible acknowledgment when people care about what you do.

You’ve been releasing albums since 2011, but I feel like you’ve kind of maybe stayed under the radar a little bit. Do you enjoy being sort of mysterious? Because you’ve done a lot, you’ve recorded a lot.

JMN: It was not necessarily a deliberate effort to stay off the grid, so much as it was I was a really young guy when I started doing this and had no idea how to do it. I loved recording and songwriting, but I had no vision or plan for the career portion. So it really wasn’t until these last couple of records where I really started to think outwards. Getting the craft in and of itself is so rewarding and so fun that that was the reward.

Is it weird to have a team of people that you work for and with?

JMN: It’s weird, songwriting is so personal. It feels bizarre to have people invested in a monetary or fiscal business sense. It’s weird when you start to have really technical elements to what you do, like when you have a budget meeting for writing songs.

Does that take the enjoyment out of it at all?

JMN: It doesn’t, actually. I find it kind of energizing to think about my craft as any other business. When I wake up in the morning, some people drive to a job and sell things, and when I wake up in the morning I write songs. But it’s like a job, even though a lot of people probably don’t consider it a job.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of your SXSW?

JMN: I’m excited for tonight, I think it’s going to be great. We’ve been here for almost two days and haven’t played yet, so I’m ready to play.

So what have you been doing?

JMN: We’re staying at a five or six bedroom Arabian horse ranch outside of Austin, so we’ve just been hanging out and cooking meals together, riding the train to the city.

Not riding horses?

JMN: Not riding horses, I don’t want to damage anything on a two-month tour. Just hanging out, walking around, seeing bands. I went to like five or six events today, so it’s a chance to network and encourage people around you. We have a bunch of Minneapolis friends around here, and I want to go and support them. It’s a good chance to participate in the bigger picture of music. SXSW is kind of a chance to participate in where music as a whole is going.

What about the rest of the year? You’re touring until April and then sleeping for a week?

JMN: We’re actually touring until the first week of May, so we’re three or four days into almost eight weeks on the road. I get home in May, I’ll be home a couple of weeks, and then I’m leaving for Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington state, which is going to be awesome. It’s Alabama Shakes, and Leon Bridges, and Sufjan Stevensetc. I’m currently in the process of working with a European agent, so I might be doing some solo stuff there in the fall. I’d like to get back into the studio this fall, as well. I have almost a whole record ready to go again. It’ll be the fifth, which is starting to sound excessive.

Which venue has the best green room?

JMN: I thought Brooklyn Bowl was pretty sweet. The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis is pretty great; you can make your own tea and coffee, and there’s a record player and a selection of old vinyl. There’s nice couches and it’s not in a basement, which is nice.

Any last words before you go on tonight?

JMN: Pray for us on the road.

LITERATURE IS TURNING JAPANESE
December 15, 2015 8:00 am

If you haven’t heard Chorus, the LP from Philadelphia-based band Literature, you’re missing out. It’s everything that’s right about pop music. And we’re not the only ones who think so, either; in 2016, Kevin Attics, Nathaniel Cardaci, Seth Whaland, and Chris Schackerman are being sent to Japan to spread the love and wreak some havoc.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS snagged some quality time with Nate and Seth, and found out what they’re looking forward to most.

You’re traveling to Japan next year. How did that happen?

We’re still in the planning stages, but it’s looking like we’ll be there for a week or so. Playing a couple shows in Tokyo & then some in surrounding cities. None of us have ever been so we’re just looking forward to learning more about Japan and eating amazing food and butchering their language.

This came about because this rad label in Japan called Waterslide Records offered to put out [Literature album] Arab Spring on CD. They then also released Chorus on CD. Both have at least once track that the US versions don’t have, to make it a little more special. But yeah, we’ve been working with Kazu from Waterslide for a while now and are very excited to meet him!

While in Japan, is there anything you’d like to hit during your free time? Can I suggest visiting the Moomin Cafe?

You can suggest that! I think you just did. It looks like this place is an anti-loneliness bar? We might visit that place, but we certainly won’t be lonely! We’re planning on having a decent entourage with us on this trip. For instance, Chris Reject from Square of Opposition Records is supposed to join us for the trip. We don’t usually enjoy his company, but perhaps in another country he’ll be more tolerable.

You also have a split 7” with Expert Alterations. How did you get involved with them?

They set up one of the most fun shows we have ever played – Baltimore Popfest! We’ve been close friends with Expert Alterations, Wildhoney, Post Pink and other Baltimore folks ever since we met them there. Why’re Baltimore folks so great? Probably all the Natty Boh

literature-slumberland You toured with Expert Alterations over the summer, as well. Do you have any memories of the tour that stand out to you?

YES! Something amazing happened. The first show of tour was in DC, which we’ve only played once before, and this woman came up after the show and asked if Chorus had a lyric sheet because she’d previously only listened to the record on Spotify. We couldn’t remember if the CD version had a lyric sheet or not so we checked (spoiler: it does!). She then revealed that she’d WRITTEN HER OWN VERSION OF THE LYRICS AS SHE HEARD THEM. She e-mailed them to us. It was a good effort and very endearing, but they were way wrong. It was really fun for us to read her version of the lyrics. It was also a high compliment that she did that, which of course is always nice.

Your live performances are fun to watch, as they tend to be pretty high-energy. Which bands do you think put on the best live performance? 

People can be good at performing in so many different ways. Nate thinks an Austin band performing these days that is really good is Big Bill. Seth loved playing with The Shivers during CMJ in New York last year because Keith (the principal member) is so intense when he plays. And the other two dudes aren’t here while we’re answering these questions so I’ll guess for them. Kevin probably loves The Spook School because they’re just a great pop band and that drummer is so goofy. Chris would perhaps say The Drums because I know he loves them!

Kevin used to write for music publications as a teen. What do you think drew him to do that, when many of your peers were probably drinking under an overpass in their free time?

Kevin was under a different overpass playing covers of Smashing Pumpkins songs. And he definitely didn’t know enough nerdy musicians IRL, that’s why he was writing to/with/for them. He may or may not approve this answer, but I think it’s fairly accurate. 

Your band biography mentions that Kevin, Nate, and Seth have worked at various times to operate a venue in Austin, TX and run small imprint labels before forming Literature in Philadelphia, PA. Can you talk about what goes into those ventures? Also, what prompted the move to Philadelphia?

We’ve all tried to help support the music scene and be supportive of other folks and their creative pursuits. What goes in to that stuff? Time and money and fun! Seth is doing a small vinyl label again called Keeled Scales. Kevin is setting up a lot of shows in Philadelphia, more in the traditional venue scene than in the house venue scene which we were more involved with at the beginning in Austin. 

As for Philly – Nate & Seth are originally from the Lehigh Valley, PA so it was a return to some of our roots. It also allowed us to play in cities other than Austin! As fun as Austin is, there isn’t a whole lot going on within a days drive from there. But from Philadelphia we could easily play NYC & Baltimore & Bethlehem, etc.

Is there anything planned for you between now and Japan?

We’re playing a wedding in January but none of y’all are invited. Hopefully album #3, but that is still in the writing stages.