boston

10 TECH CITIES TO LOOK OUT FOR
June 29, 2016 6:28 pm

As a writer I always looked down on articles that focused on lists, I always thought it was lazy to do that. To base your writing around an arbitrary numeric countdown of biased information that is grounded in data that is not fully sound was just against my journalistic integrity. Without further ado, here is my countdown of the top ten tech-driven cities in the US of A.

Many know about California’s Silicon Valley that is synonymous with tech, it even has a show with its namesake, centered around Tech. But tech culture thrives elsewhere as well.

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AUSTIN, TX

Austin has been an up and coming mecca when it comes to all things music and tech recently. Hosting SXSW which has previewed everything from games to television shows, Austin is a city to look out for. It is one that was featured in over 5 “Top 10” articles and good reason to be. The city is the host to 3M, AMD, Apple, AT&T, Dell, Evernote, Facebook, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Nvidia, and PayPal. An article on the city dons it “Silicon Hills”.

BOSTON, MA

Boston is slowly becoming much more than just its odd accents and rampant Catholicism. The city has started this initiative to get tech companies to come over by starting their Innovation District, which aims to be a tech friendly environment for up and coming start-ups. Boston’s innovation district aims to make this once great, dangerous city into a thriving economic tech powerhouse.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN

Minneapolis is another one of these unexpected cities. Whenever I think Minnesota, I think of Fargo; a cold, accent heavy (again) city. Now, if you haven’t noticed, I get most of my point of references from television or movies, but for Minneapolis, there is a lot more than meets the ear. The city is a host to its “Twin Cities Startup Week.” think Fashion Week, but with actual importance. It is a way to advocate for tech in a city that is very much in the tech game.

ATLANTA, GA

Yesterday, the white house announced that it would fund two different grants. Both of which would total a 7.7 million dollar teaching program in Atlanta. One of these initiatives is set to train youth and young adults in Atlanta in all things tech. The program, aptly titled, ATL Tech Hire will enable kids to learn coding. A step into building a more tech savvy city.

washington-dc-skyline-photoWASHINGTON, DC

Washington DC has been called by many, the Silicon Valley of the east. It is the host to the Dulles Technology Corridor, a cluster in DC that contains many tech businesses. Washington DC can easily become not only the capitol of the country, but the tech capitol as well.

 

RALEIGH DURHAM, NC

For those of you who have never heard of Raleigh, you have some real research to do. Raleigh is home to companies such as Cisco, IBM, The Research Triangle, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Red Hat and many others. The city is a hub of tech in the southeast region of this country and it is a force to be reckoned with.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA

San Francisco is close enough to Silicon Valley to almost have been skipped out on my list, but it is distinct enough to not have been. San Fransisco’s tech culture is so evolved that it has affected real estateenough to give the city national attention. Zenefits and Dropbox are just two of the many unicorns that have led this city’s housing crisis on its in.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Seattle’s tech status can be summed up by the fact that Google is giving a third of a million in grants to the city, in order to bring Wi-Fi to low income residents and parks across the city. Seattle might become the first in its kind with city wide Wi-Fi. Seattle is also the home to T-Mobile, Boeing, F5 Networks, Qumulo, Redfin, Extrahop Networks, Socrata and Avvo to name a few.

NEW YORK, NY

My city, of course it is an up and coming tech city. With Tesla moving into our backyard, and it being home to ATYPICAL SOUNDS, a music meets tech magazine, New York has in the past few years to bring more tech jobs into the city. With Google and Amazon here, who knows what is next for the greatest city in the world.

BALTIMORE, MARYLANDseason 2 silicon valley

When you walk through the garden, you better watch your back since Baltimore has rounded out our list. Baltimore has come a long way since its crime-addled days of The Wire and has since shown potential to be a tech powerhouse. CUNY students will recognize one of Baltimore’s over 200 tech companies, Blackboard. The city is also rolling out IBM’s P-Tech education program that partners high school kids with mentors in the hopes of getting them more involved in IT.

Which cities will continue to rise to power in tech advancement? And which ones do you think will join this list? Tweet us @AtypicalBeasts!

POST-SXSW ARNDTERVIEW
March 29, 2016 11:11 am

Sibling rock stars Jocelyn & Chris Arndt took their soulful, hook-laden blues/rock sound to this year’s SXSW. I caught up with them at Austin’s Handlebar and discussed Harvard, Ocean’s Eleven and life on the road.


arndtSo is this your first SXSW?

Jocelyn: Yes, yes it is.

How do you like it so far?

J: It’s crazy but awesome. Crazy awesome.

How many shows have you had?

J: We had one yesterday…

Chris: We had three yesterday, then one today and one tomorrow.

Damn, not too bad for your first time.

C: [laughter] No no, not at all

Well that’s just fantastic. Now, you guys are from New York, right?

J: Upstate New York. We’re from Fort Plain which is an hour west of Albany.

Okay, so right in the middle of nowhere.

J: [laughter] Yep, right there.

That’s awesome. And you just released an album about a month ago, right? Are you happy with it?

J: Yes, very much so. It’s called Edges, and it’s our first full length, which is a big deal. We’re freaking out.

Well of course. How many… “half lengths” have you had?

C: Just one.

J: We did an EP, but yeah this time we really got to sink our teeth in.

And you got some momentum going into SXSW. Are you on tour? Is this a stop on a tour?

C: Yeah, we came down from New York, we were in Cleveland, and then Chattanooga and Nashville, then Arkansas and then Houston. Actually Dallas, not Houston.

Somewhere in Texas. It all runs together.

C: …and then we’re gonna work our way back up next week.

Back up to… upstate?

C: Yeah.

What’s your favorite part of touring?

J: [thinks for a moment] I like knowing that every night we’re gonna be somewhere different, which is weird because I feel like some people would be like ‘oh my god another 8 hours in the car,’ but it’s kinda nice to be able to travel with the music and know that no matter where you are you get to play a set but then you get to go somewhere else.

So you get that time to explore, that’s cool. What do you do on the road? Who drives?

J: Our drummer, who’s also our producer…

C: And our manager…

Oh, multitalented.

J: Yeah he does most of–well, all of the driving.

Yeah I was gonna say, it’s not just you two. How does that work? Who writes the songs?

J: We both write together.

Which is good because you have that family bond, you work off each other. Who’s older? I can’t really tell.

C: [laughter] She is.

No way!

C: [shows x’s on hands] I’m not even 21.

Get the fuck outta here!

J: …and I just turned 21.

Oh wow, well welcome to adulthood–or something. Whatever that means. Do you have a favorite city that you’ve been to on tour?

J: I really really like Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Wow, that’s random but cool.

J: It’s random. We stopped there once, I think we had played in Nashville and then they were like ‘oh this seems like a good place to do another show.’ We stopped there and now every time we’re down south we make sure we go there because people come out and really really support us.

C: The music scene there is amazing.

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And then they know you now kind of. Do you have a good following up in Albany?

C: Yeah we do well in Albany.

J: We play the city (NYC) a lot too

Of course, that makes sense. Where in the city?

J: We played the Bitter End, we played the Slipper Room…

C: We played Rockwood a lot.

Rockwood is where it’s at. They don’t fuck around–if you’re bad they don’t invite you back.

C: Yeah they’re awesome.

So you guys write together? How does that work?

J: I do the lyrics and melody, and then Chris does the chords the rhythm.

Who goes first? Do you start with the chords and then build off that, or…

C: Depends on the song, really. Sometimes she’ll come up with something and might be like ‘I need chords,’ other times I’ll go to her with a chord pattern I really like and she’ll have lyrics and we’ll sort of fit them together.

But it’s just you two, not the drummer/producer/manager.

J: Nope, just us.

And you have a bassist?

J: We have a bassist as well, Eric.

But he’s just a random dude.

J: Yeah I mean we met him in Albany.

C: He’s a student and an awesome dude.

How do you meet these people? School?

J: Through our manager, he’s the one with the contact.

How did you meet him? How’d you get started, you just started playing?

J: We had a high school band. We’ve been doing this for a long time. This was our high school job–a great job, better than most high school jobs. We had a band called The Dependents, and we’d play, like, fairs and stuff, and we were playing at the beer tent at the local fair and this guy came up and slipped us a card and said ‘Hey I like your sound.’

And you were like ‘thanks me too’?

J: [laughter] Yeah, and he turned out to be David. You never know who’s listening.

You never know! That’s why you just gotta play everywhere, see everyone, expand your audience and shit. That’s awesome. That was in high school, like five years ago?

J: Three or four.

Oh right you’re young as fuck, I forgot. Well okay. And you’ve been slowly building since then?

C: It was kind of slow for the first couple years.

J: Well first you gotta build a foundation.

C: We were working on a sound and stuff, and then this past like year and a half things have been ramping up super fast, so it’s pretty awesome.

What’s the best part of that so far?

C: Oh man.

J: I like the fact that we have a new CD, that’s a huge plus for me.

C: That’s pretty exciting. I honestly like just…

Just being a rock star?

C: Yeah it’s cool. When I was in high school it never even occurred to me that because of our music we would get to travel to California and Texas and Nashville and Michigan or wherever, and now we’re going all over the country and probably going to Canada and maybe the UK all with our music.

Whoa, whoa, slow down there!

J: It would be cool. You gotta have goals.

Well that’s fantastic. Do you guys have day jobs? Or is this it?

C: Just this.

LADYGUNN-160318_JOCELYN-CHRIS-ARNDT_SXSW_001You save up and then go on tour and stuff….

J: Well we also go to College.

Oh really? Where?

J: We both go to Harvard.

Fuck you guys! No way! [laughter] I’ve heard of it, I’ve heard of it.

J: But this is definitely our job, job.

Holy shit. Okay, so you’re both at Harvard. Currently.

J: [gestures to self] Junior, [gestures to Chris] sophomore.

What are you studying? Music?

C: I’m joint music and computer science.

J: I’m English but these days it’s mostly music, so…

Well that helps with lyrics too, right? Do you find you draw inspiration from your studies?

J: Yeah, a little bit definitely. And people. Everybody around us. You know, basically everything.

There are some smart people there. What do you think of Harvard?

J: It’s fun. I’ll tell you– SXSW is probably a little more fun. [laughter]

Yeah maybe a little. And the weather is nicer. What are you, on spring break right now?

J: Yeah.

Do you go on tour during the school year?

C: We do. We go weekends, we skip Monday and Friday–not every Monday and Friday but…

How do you…. I mean you go to Harvard, shouldn’t you be focused on Harvard?

C: That’s what some people say but, like, I kinda like music, you know? [laughter]

J: The other thing is, as long as we can do both we’re gonna do both. But if it comes down to Harvard or music, Harvard’s not going anywhere. Music is our thing, so…

How do you like the Cambridge/Boston area?

C: It’s a cool place to live. It’s pretty awesome.

J: Yeah it’s like New York’s friendlier, shorter cousin.

Friendlier… sometimes.

C: It feels less aggressive when you’re there. New York is a very “kill or be killed” vibe.

J: New York also literally never sleeps, as they say. Nothing ever turns off. Boston is like ‘midnight, better get on the last T or else you’re stuck.’

Do you play around Boston? Or around campus?

J: We haven’t a ton.

C: We honestly haven’t that much, we’re gonna start doing so more and more, but we’ve been really focused on New York, Nashville and LA for the past year.

jocelyn+&+chris+arndt-3
How do you like LA?

C: LA is awesome, the music scene is so great. We played The Viper Room, which was insane. But yeah, we’re starting to do pretty well in those three cities so we’re gonna branch out. But this is our first time in Texas.

And you like it?

J: Yeah we like it. We’re gonna come back.

Do you have any plans for today or tonight?

J: We don’t have a show tonight, not ’til tomorrow. So we’re still weighing our options.

Do you run into trouble playing venues underage?

C: Most of the time they’re just like ‘you can’t hang out beforehand, you can’t hang out afterwards, wait by the door while I get a marker to mark your hands.’ So it’s a little annoying. Vegas is kind of… [laughter] It was fun playing Vegas but they were like ‘you’re allowed to be on the casino floor as long as you don’t stand still.’

J: You can’t look at anything, you obviously can’t drink anything. I felt bad for the little bro.

C: But they let us play music, which is the most important thing.

Where did you play in Vegas?

J: We played this place the Sand Dollar

C: And then a place called… 

J: We did an open mic thing at the Beat Coffeehouse.

C: Yeah that was cool, it’s like a coffee house slash wine bar slash brewery slash record store.

J: Which is basically all the bases to cover.

Yeah that’s everything you need. Plus it’s Vegas, so…

J: Yeah we got to walk around, see the Bellagio, pretend we’re in Ocean’s Eleven.

C: Except, you know, we hadn’t just stolen a hundred and sixty four million dollars.

You can tell me if you have, I won’t tell anyone.

C: No, I mean I wish we had [laughter].

Anything else you would like to tell me/the world?

J: Check out the new album, it’s called Edges, it’s online, out now, bandcamp, iTunes, the works.

And you guys are continuing your tour?

J: Yeah this one wasn’t super long, we’re going… where are we going? Alabama on Saturday, then Cleveland…

C: Saturday morning we wake up early, Alabama, Cleveland and then we’re back.

J: We just pushed to radio, so the next couple weeks we’ll be doing that.

Playing at stations and shit?

C: We’re doing that, we’re playing a festival in Roanoke, and then the Florida Music Festival, and then between those it’s like every weekend we can we’re gonna be playing. And then a lot of radio stations.

Well that’s awesome, we’ll tune in to all those things. One last thing–can I get a selfie with you guys?

J: Yeah, sure!

C: Can we get one with you?

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SOMOS, PETAL AND MORE BRING PASSION TO PHILLY
March 8, 2016 2:08 pm

Boston-based band Somos made a stop in Philadelphia on Sunday, and for once in my life I wasn’t dreading a Sunday night.

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Photos by Kenzie Gasper

With a headlining tour, and the recent release of their album First Day Back, Somos has a lot to be excited about, and their show at PhilaMOCA proved that this band will be on top for a very long time.

Philly band The Obsessives opened the show. “We wanted to start a band with a ‘The’ because bands like that three years ago were cool, like The Black Keys and The White Stripes,” they recall. It’s very probable that The Obsessives will be at the forefront of the Emo music scene in no time. I think the girls standing next to me in absolute awe of the two-piece would agree.

The next band to play was The Superweaks, another Philly-based band who are signed to Lame-O records. Almost a year after they released “Bad Year,” they’re still playing the songs with as much excitement they had when the album was fresh.

They were followed by Petal, the musical child of Kiley Lotz from Scranton, PA (where all the BEST creative minds are from). Petal just put out Shame, their first LP in which the songs are so beautifully painful and the live versions are just as, if not more, brilliantly heartbreaking. Petal’s imagery made me think that for a few minutes I wasn’t actually in a venue around the corner from a Crown Fried chicken, but somewhere much more pretty.

Somos took the stage shortly after. The energy and passion they brought to Philly is unmatched.  I’ve been a fan of them for a while, but I’d never been able to see them, so when they announced this tour I thought “Screw my 8AM class I’m going.” I am so glad I did.

petal1

Photos by Kenzie Gasper

EXPERIMENTING WITH SKINNY BONES
February 21, 2016 11:09 pm

Skinny Bones is two guys and a world of possibilities. Band members Jacob Rosati and Christopher Stoppiello invent many of their own instruments, which they use to create a one of a kind, immersive experience.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS got the scoop from Jacob on the downsides of water-based equipment, and the best places to party in the Boston area.

skinny bones 1

You were recently named one of the Best Live Acts of 2015 by Jason Trefts of Boston Hassle. What would you say makes your live show special?

JR: We try to approach the live context in a way that works only for live performances, not just a recreation of the recordings. So we build our own instruments; we lust after large performance gestures and we favor anything that exposes our process a bit.

Your work is built around experimenting with sounds and makeshift instruments. Is there an outcome of this experimentation you’re especially proud of? Is there a time it’s failed miserably?

JR: We play with this homemade kalimba-ish instrument that has worked really well so far. Failures? Almost all of them. One in particular was this instrument we built that was basically a bottle with water in it that was hung on a spring. Sounded great, but mic-ing it was a bitch. Common water related phrases: “Oh shit, I have to go fill up my drum set!” or “Why the fuck is there water all over my gear???”

You recently finished recording a new album, and are currently working on a music video to support the first single. What would you like people to know about each? When will they be available to the public?

JR: Well, this album is mad different than the last. All of the field recordings on the record were taken on a trip I took to the Azores. The music is full of hobbling “dance” beats, wormy synth lines, and slow motion rap vocals. Oh and some sections that are sexy enough to make children to. Not sure when it will be out but when it is let me know how the children making thing goes.

There seems to be a certain amount of theatrics surrounding what you do. Do you enjoy creating art outside of music, or have interest in theater or visual art?

JR: Mmmmm we loooove performance. Chris is into photography and I am in to collaging. And dancing. We both love to dance.

Trimtab (your record label) seems to be keeping a low profile online, e.g. having a website with nothing on it but a Buckminster Fuller quote, an email link, and a link to a Wikipedia article that doesn’t really pertain to what they do. What’s their deal?

JR: Yeah right??? Trimtab has an imprint, but is actually mostly a lecture/performance series that Simon Remiszewski and I started. The series focuses on demystifying the artist and their creative process. A less cryptic website is (mostly) built and should be there soon.

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

JR: Live? I mean, the sound system at The Sinclair holds up really well and the dudes running it rock. But I’ve been really into these techno shows I’ve been throwing with some friends in Dudley at the Cake Factory. Just a huge warehouse with tons of rooms and absolutely no rules. I luv it.

Are there any musicians local to Boston you feel deserve more recognition?

JR: YES OF COURSE. There are way too many, but I think Dinnersss deserves more attention. He has been the spearhead of the techno nights at Cake Factory and a modular synth wizard. More <3 Audrey Harrer, FRKSE, HJOL, Citrusphere, Sam Franklin, Strange Mangers.

Are you planning to tour after your album is released? Will you be performing at SXSW this year?

JR: Yes! And no. Probably not South By, but we are planning on touring. Late summer? Look for a lil’ Prius packed to the brim with cables and wood. It’ll be great.

THANKS, LIKE A LOCAL
February 18, 2016 5:54 pm

You like to travel, sure, but you ain’t no tourist. You’re here to see the real city, not these smarmy tourist traps featured in your airport brochure. You’re not afraid of the road less traveled. Any city can be paradise if you know what you’re looking for. You do know what you’re looking for, don’t you?

If not, don’t worry, because Like A Local has you covered. The popular travel app has up-to-date recommendations from residents of cities around the globe. And when I say cities, I mean every single city you could possibly want to visit. From Amsterdam all the way down to Zagreb (which, it turns out, is the capital of Croatia), the list is truly staggering. Of course they know the skinny on Paris, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro–I mean who doesn’t, right? But what about Istanbul, Vancouver or Buenos Aires? Local recommendations out the wazoo. Boulder, CO; Phoenix, AZ; or Lafayette, LA? Make domestic travel your bitch. Even if you’re not actually traveling you can still find loads of activities in NYC, LA, DC, Chicago, and a handful of other North American cities. It’s all just a click away.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some examples.

By now you’ve probably heard that New York City has a lot to offer, but God forbid you actually live here to find out for yourself. What does Like A Local recommend? Given my location (off the L train) and time of day (afternoon), they recommend Roberta’s Pizza, The City Reliquary, and Beacon’s Closet (to name a few), three highly regarded Brooklyn establishments. So, pretty legit.

Did I hear somebody ask about Boston? No? Maybe it was just me. Anyways, Like A Local recommends the Arnold Arboretum, the Harpoon Brewery and the Coolidge Corner Theatre (to name a few). All of these places I have been to during my days as a local Bostonian, and all of them are awesome. Good work, Like A Local.

Okay let’s try international. I’ve always wanted to go to Vienna (mostly for the sausages) but I’m sure I wouldn’t know what to do once I got there. Well Like A Local has 130 recommendations grouped into categories like “Guide to Imperial Vienna,” “Most Popular Green Areas” and “Best Nightlife Spots.” Couldn’t be easier! Kind of makes me want to hop a flight there right now…

I won’t, but it’s nice to know that, if I did, I’d have cool things to do once I got there. Thanks, Like A Local (and also the hundreds of helpful foreigners providing insight into their respective cities), for optimizing my next vacation. Looking forward to it!

BOSTON’S OWN: NEMES
January 18, 2016 5:00 am

Nemes is going places. Literally. This week, the Massachusetts-based band begins a series of performances that includes a January 23rd show at Fat Baby in New York’s Lower East Side. They’ll also be premiering a video series, featuring the band performing in-studio. Luckily, ATYPICAL SOUNDS was able to snag some time with bass player Alex Glover, and pick his brain on it all.

Congratulations on your nomination for Live Act of the Year at the 2015 Boston Music Awards. What would you say it is about your live act that makes it so special? How did you find out you were nominated?

AG: I would say our live act is special (on a good day) because we’re usually feeling very connected to one another. All the songs are arranged very collectively and we all feel like we have a role in specific parts of each song. When Josh (Knowles) or Dave (Anthony) are taking a solo, Chris (Anthony) and I usually pump each other up and keep energy high. For all of our 3-part harmony sections, we usually practice by looking each other dead in the eyes while we sing. I know we’re all picturing what the other is thinking while we sing. Our live show is very interconnected while maintaining a spirit of high energy.

You also have a new series of in-studio videos coming out. Can you tell us what we can expect and what the first video will feature?

AG: All the videos will essentially feature the same thing: us playing in a studio that we rented out for a couple of days. Our good friend James engineered the session, Boston music scene staple Murdock Manor took care of lighting, and our new buddy Hanzley and his crew shot the videos. I’m not entirely sure what the first release will be, but as far as what to expect; Over the course of the video releases, the viewer will hopefully be able to experience the range of emotions that we strive to convey every time we play.

Your bio claims that Nemes formed; “around 2000 years ago”. How have you worked to stay relevant over the last couple of millennia?

AG: We honestly forget.

You’ve performed in a variety of different settings, including in the subway, have you had any unique experiences while busking in Boston?

AG: Yup. Chris once received a Silver Surfer ring from an enthusiastic/psychedelic bum. One time a homeless man smashed a bottle of Monster Energy on the ground/in our case. Tons of folks have danced, we’ve gotten hired for weddings, sometimes even gotten recognized from friends we hadn’t seen in years. Busking is a strange and beautiful thing.

What are your favorite venues in Boston? 

AG: Our CD release was at The Middle East. It’s an awesome room in Cambridge and we’re proud to have sold it out. The Sinclair is a fantastic venue as well, and Great Scott will always have a killer punk-rock vibe to it.

What about your favorite local musicians?

AG: Favorite musicians is a whole different story. We’ve made too many friends to name, but in ABSOLUTELY no order:

Damn Tall Buildings, Dressed for the Occassion, Annabel Lee, Will Dailey, Air Traffic Controller, Oh Malo, Arms and Ears, Grey Season, Box of Birds, The Luxury, Zip-Tie Handcuffs, Eternals, and the list goes on.

Are there any bands you opened for that you’re especially proud of?

AG: Yes! A couple: Guster, X Ambassadors, and The Lonely Forest were all incredibly different but amazing experiences!

How do you feel the response has been to your debut LP, I Carry Your Heart? Is there anything you would’ve done differently, or would have liked to do?

AG: Hard to answer! We’re all very happy with the album but obviously when we listen back there are little things we’d love to go back and change. The only regret we have is that perhaps it could have felt more cohesive as a unit.

Vinyl listeners have given us a ton more feedback and overall enjoyed the album a ton more than CD/digital listeners. That being said, one of our best choices was pressing it to vinyl. We’re all so proud to hold it in our hands, and the vinyl crowd has a special appreciation for music.

What do you have planned for 2016?

AG: The same thing we do every year, Pinky Atypical Beasts, try to take over the world.

Upcoming Shows:

January 21

Loyola University

Baltimore, MD

January 22

Bourbon and Branch

Philadelphia, PA

January 23

Fat Baby

New York, NY

January 30

Opus Underground

Salem, MA

February 6

Truro Library Session

Truro, MA

February 19

Great Scott

Allston (Boston) , MA

February 25

Motr

Cincinnati, OH

February 26

The Country

Nashville, TN

February 27

Da Vida House

Cincinnati, OH

MEET IAN
December 22, 2015 9:00 am

Ian isn’t that nice boy from the library your mom wants you to meet. Ian is actually a dream pop trio that originated in Boston, during singer/writer Jilian Medford’s tenure at Berklee. Now based in Los Angeles, bandmates Medford, Tim Cheney, and Damien Scalise have released their eponymous EP and are working to bring their diaphanous sound to the masses.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS caught up with Jilian to chat about her time at the famous music school and the band’s first time at CMJ.

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You released your first EP during your senior year at Berklee. How did your experience there shape you as a musician? Was there a lot of competition between you and your classmates?

JM: Berklee is a very interesting school. Most of the kids I know and was close to while attending ended up dropping out after their 2nd or 3rd year. I had thoughts of doing the same but my mom wouldn’t let me and also I wanted to finish and walk in graduation with funny socks peeping through the bottom of my gown!

There is a lot of competition at that school, and it drove me to start exploring different ways of expression, because I just didn’t feel like I was pushing myself enough or I didn’t feel like I was fully executing my projects to my full potential. So I decided to seek out Mark Fede for our EP (he has worked bands like Guerrilla Toss and Fat History Month) and it was a huge step in the right and certain direction for this band.

The recording process was short and sweet and hot and sweaty in August of 2014. We mainly recorded this tape to have something to give people on our summer tour but it ended up taking many twists and turns in a positive direction that we are so grateful for! People actually listened, I didn’t really know what I expected but I just didn’t know if anyone would listen.

Your first CMJ festival was this year. Did anything stand out to you about your performance?

JM: Cake Shop was special! The spot itself reminds me a lot of this spot in Boston called Great Scott so it was a familiar vibe. It was the end of CMJ so the show was quaint and filled with familiar faces, plus a few new ones, and my best friend Ellen Kemper from Palehound came and it was the best surprise since she had been so busy all week.

Something that really stood out was a 60-year-old woman asking me if she could buy our shirt that says “don’t call me” on it, since she had just left her husband of 30 years and wanted to wear it next time they saw each other! Kick ‘em 2 the curb!

How did you prepare for the show?

JM: [The band] hung out in a practice space together and got our new songs all worked out so we could be comfortable dancing while playing them.

Did you discover anyone new?

JM: OooOoo!! Loved seeing PWR BTTM! That was my first time seeing them play and it was incredible. So intimate even though so many people were there, and they managed to engage every single person watching. It was admirable.

Always love seeing one of my favorite bands Kal Marks at the Exploding in Sound showcase as well as Palm! Got to catch Protomartyr at the Sub Pop showcase, had to pee the entire time during their set but it was worth the wait, their new record is fire fire FIRE!! And they are even better live; Joe Casey’s stage presence makes me think of Bill Murray.

Were you able to try the pizza while in New York? How did it compare to the pizza in LA or Boston (where you’re based now)?

JM: We did eat pizza, I remember it clearly because we ordered a chicken bacon ranch pizza and couldn’t stop chanting CHICKEN BACON RANCH down the street all night long. This is my breakdown of foods between BOSTON NY AND LA: Boston has the best donuts (dunkin donuts, strawberry frosted, keep it simple baby), NY has the best pizza and hot dogs, LA has the best Mexican food ~ taco trucks till infinity.

What can fans can expect to see from you in the future?     

JM: The future, especially this coming year is really exciting for us. We will be relocating to LA in the next couple months to see if that is the spot for us, or to at least escape for the winter, and finishing a record to come out later next year, which will hopefully be accompanied by a lot of touring and traveling and seeing new places, faces, plants and dogs!

Artist of the Month: Years & Years
July 1, 2015 1:43 pm

Years and Years will be your ultimate band crush of 2015. This British trio composed of Olly Alexander, Mikey Goldsworth, and Emre Turkmen have been rapidly climbing the music charts with their indie-pop sound ever since their song “Real” emerged. It’s quite hard to put a genre on them since they have hints of electronic, pop, soul, and R&B that somehow captures a wide range of young peoples attention. They’ve been given the 2015 Woodie Award for Artist to Watch and have also won BBC Sound of 2015 Award. Within the past year their careers have skyrocketed and have been on tour non-stop.

I first stumbled upon their music last fall when I was browsing through a Spotify playlist and got instantly hooked with “Real.” The more I binged on them, the more I fell in love. When I found out that their U.S. debut show was in January, I immediately jumped on it since I was dying to go to as many shows as possible during the winter season instead of being cooped up in my cozy comforter. I didn’t expect them to wow me since they were a fresh band who only had a few songs released here and there. I also didn’t know how well they would transcribe their electronic sounds in a live setting.

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Their set blew my mind. You could tell that they were genuinely nervous to play in front of an American crowd for the first time. Olly says in one Nylon interview “It’s crazy coming to a place you’ve never been to and people know your songs. I’ll never get over that.”

Years and Years performing live on stage at the 2014 Great Escape in Brighton, UK

Years and Years performing live on stage at the 2014 Great Escape in Brighton, UK

Surprisingly Olly is also a talented actor who starred in God Help The Girl, but “it’s always been the dream” (Noisey) for him to become a singer. You’d think that with such talent he’d be confident enough to flaunt his vocal chords, but he always seems to be pretty shy on stage! Their recordings are great as it is, but seeing their raw talent on stage is a whole other magical experience.

Years and Years’ music have been described as ‘dance music with heart’ which the band members seem to agree. “I’m not interested in writing songs about nothing. I’m writing personal songs, which is like therapy in a way. Those are the kind of songs I really loved when I was growing up — singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley and Bob Dylan — and I’ve always written that way. But I love dance music and I love electronic music; it really affects you physically, so I’ve found a way to marry the two. Dance music is really emotional, but it often gets used in a very banal, middle-of-the-road kind of way, and that’s a shame. I would not be making music if I couldn’t make it personal to me.” (HungerTV)

I was reluctant for their set at Rough Trade to end, since I wasn’t sure when the next time I’d be able to experience them would be. But soon enough, they came back to the U.S. in March and I had a chance to see them in Boston again. They’ve also release some new music and videos, as well as announce their debut album (finally!) which comes out on July 10th in the U.S.! “Thematically, a lot of the songs I’ve written—at least 6 or 8—are breakup songs. It’s going to be a whiny breakup album. I’m most creative when I’m feeling a bit shit and lonely. I use music as therapy. A lot of the songs come from painful rejection [laughs].” (Noisey)

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Via Audio, One Year On
June 24, 2015 1:55 pm

It’s been a year since Via Audio released their woozily gorgeous “Natural Language”. Funded through the support of their fans, friends, and family through a successful Kickstarter campaign, the album sat for two years before being released in 2014. Now the band is on hiatus, living on separate coasts and finding out just how far they can stretch their talented wings.

The indie duo, comprised of Jessica Martins and Tom Deis first met in 2002 while studying at Berklee College of Music. They began as a quartet, then became a duo, first living in Boston, then Brooklyn, then half in Philadelphia, and half in Los Angeles.

They were a four-piece through their first three releases, becoming just two for Natural Language, producing the album with Via Audio’s original drummer Dan Molad. The release show, held at Glasslands (RIP), was both a “hello” and a “goodbye”; it was here, on a stage filled with flowers, that Martins announced her impending move to the west coast.

ATYPICALSOUNDS caught up with Jess and Tom to find out how life’s been treating them, and what we’ll be hearing from them in the future.

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Your album Natural Language was released about a year ago. How do you feel the response was, compared with your 2010 album Animalore?

JM: The two records are completely different, from the songwriting to the budget to the way they were recorded, right down to the team involved in getting them out to the world. At the time Animalore was released, we had spent two weeks in Austin with Jim Eno from Spoon crafting a high-quality, expensive analog (to tape) album, which was released with help from a small label.

With Natural Language, time had elapsed, interest in the band seemed to be waning, and a lot of the team had fallen off the wagon by the time it was released – no longer did we have management, a label to represent us, or a booking agent to help set up shows. So to clarify, after our gracious friends and families helped us raise enough money to record and press Natural Language on our own, we couldn’t pay for PR as the budget was depleted – we really had our backs against the wall as to whether we should just release the record ourselves and do what little PR we could on our own, or to never release the record at all because we couldn’t promote it as well as we would have liked.

We had been sitting on the completed record for almost 2 years, one of our key members had decided to leave the band, resulting in Via Audio becoming a duo, and I was getting ready for a change in my life, which ended up with me moving to LA. In the end, we made the decision to just do what we could to put it out into the universe, having no expectations for what the future would hold. Because of the differences in all the behind-the-scenes, it’s hard for me to compare them fairly, but the awesome fans we’ve maintained seem to really like Natural Language, so it would’ve been really great to have gotten more traction with this record.

TD: We had positive responses from our fans for both records. There were some songs that critics weren’t ok with on Animalore, but it was all part of what we wanted to do as a band, which our fans have always supported. We didn’t pay for PR for Natural Language, so I only saw a few online reviews which were quite positive! Most of what we heard from our fans was that Natural Language was their favorite. So, I sometimes wonder what would happen if we got a more public response from critics.

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Natural Language is more subdued than Animalore, which had more elements of dance music. Was this a conscious shift, or a part of your evolving tastes as musicians?

JM: Via Audio has always been a very open, collaborative democracy and it’s what I believe makes it so special. The evolution felt natural as we grew up and expanded our tastes.

TD: Natural Language was more personal, and that just happened due to us as humans. There was never a moment that we got together as a band and decided on any direction. That’s what made the band feel like a free space to write whatever.

What changes have you seen in indie music since you started the band in 2002?

JM: Though it’s hard to believe, the Internet wasn’t really a huge resource yet for musicians in 2002. You had to do more digging to get to the good stuff – today it feels really convoluted and like a lot of stuff passes for indie when maybe it really belongs in another genre. I guess it’s expanded though, which is great for the acts who can break into the higher echelon and fall somewhere between truly “independent” and backed by a label, but still maintaining the “indie” quality.

TD: There are a lot of exciting things going on all the time. SXSW has been an interesting cross section of the indie music scene of the USA. I’d say that it has become more welcoming. More and more bands are doing what they want. It was nice to see the rise of a band like Dirty Projectors, who probably wouldn’t have achieved that level of success when the current indie scene was still in adolescence in 2002.

Many albums, like Natural Language, are being released on vinyl in addition to CD and MP3. What is your opinion on the appeal of vinyl? Has it become expected for indie bands in particular to release albums on vinyl?

JM: There’s certainly a charm to vinyl that will hopefully never go away – it really makes me happy that so much of the world understands the importance of tangible, analog things, all over again. Nowadays most bands record digitally and transfer it to an analog record, which somewhat defeats the purpose – and financially speaking, it’s somewhat a waste if you really break down numbers – but besides the improved warmth in the sound, having that product to offer helps the overall message of your band come across, that this is something you worked hard on and now you can hold it in your hand and listen to it or break it or melt it down into a cool bowl or whatever you want to do with it. A vinyl record of my music could potentially outlive me, and that’s cool. Not to mention it helps your idols take you more seriously when you sheepishly hand them your record on vinyl.

TD: Indie bands are expected to release on vinyl. There is a certain ritual to putting on a record that feels like we’re taking time to appreciate music. Something has to be sacred in our culture. There’s also the sound of vinyl, which is charmingly imperfect, more organic sounding. I believe the current culture treasures both of those elements as they add meaning and physical reality to the experience of music.

You’ve toured pretty extensively throughout the US and Japan. How did you keep your shit together?

JM: Touring can be less difficult if you have the money and resources to make it so, but when you’re in your salad days and you’re driving yourselves around, sleeping on floors and living off gas station meals, it’s hard to remember how fulfilling it all becomes for those 45 minutes you’re on stage, and the couple of hours around that where you’re exploring new places and meeting new people. When you’re traveling with another band, it can really be fun getting to know them and their set and swapping seats in vans and just having a musical adventure together. Perspective is always skewed though – now that we’re not touring, I long for that life again; but put me back in the van for 3 weeks and I’ll be ready to come home to my cats.

TD: We toured month on, month off at the most. We all felt good about not touring constantly, and it would’ve been hard to take all that touring. We love playing shows, but home is something that gets pretty appealing even after 3 weeks on the road.

While touring, did the combination of sleep deprivation and unfamiliar surroundings culminate in any unique situations or experiences?

JM: We once ended up in a ditch in Montana during a snow storm…

TD: The first real outside promotion we got was from kids who mostly promoted Emo music. We played many shows with Emo/screamo bands, once found ourselves playing in a skate park. I think that counts as a unique situation for a band that sounds like us.

What advice can you give to a band that is getting ready to tour for the first time?

JM: Bring a book and other things to keep busy in the van. Learn how to snack well and stretch so you don’t fall apart eating gas station junk. And of course, appreciate every single person who listens to you play and wants to talk to you after the show. The life is unglamorous, but the love it brings back is not.

TD: Make the most of any situation you’re in. When one person shows up in some random Midwestern town, be their friend.

Do you read reviews of your work that get posted online and printed in magazines, or do you prefer not to know? Do you think a less-than-stellar review could change the way you write?

JM: I wouldn’t say we necessarily care if someone has a negative review, because it certainly is just as valid as any other. It’s good to know what your feedback is – while Say Something and Animalore were a bit more eclectic, Natural Language felt more focused, and I think that has to do with the response we received on the first two records. That might have more to do with the production and less with the writing.

TD: I read as much as I can find. I think all feedback has some kind of subtle effect on anyone. To me, it’s the feedback of people I know and respect that I think counts for the most. There was one time when Dan Molad told me to write lyrics in a certain persona that showed up when I wrote him weird emails, and I liked that idea. That fed into a Via Audio song called Lizard Song. So there are specific situations where you get hints as to how to write from the world. But mostly it’s just “what do I want to hear” that drives my writing.

Do you find the inspiration for your songs changes based on where you’re living (e.g. California vs New York)? Also, don’t you miss the pizza here?

JM: I’ve been writing some stuff out here [Los Angeles], and I would certainly say my surroundings are informing it – though I don’t know if it’s 100% geographical as it also feels based on how my life changed moving out here. California is such a beautiful place to live, and I’ve only ever lived on the east coast before this, so the change definitely helped move along a writer’s block I had been experiencing, and inform it a bit. Tom is actually still on the east coast [in Philadelphia], so maybe the time spent on opposite coasts could be a good influence on future Via Audio sounds. While the pizza in LA does leave something to be desired, the taco trucks on nearly every corner somewhat make up for it.

TD: Songs come from everything in your life. I’m sure surroundings work their way into your songs. I once heard an escalator making a repeated rhythmic thump and click, and sang it to myself all the way home. When I got home, I made it into a song.

How are you keeping yourselves busy now? Any new music coming?

JM: We put out Natural Language without saying too much about what the future would hold, because I think we weren’t sure either. It feels good to work on other stuff, to get back in touch with my own songwriting so I can better collaborate with others. If Via Audio does continue to make music, which I have complete faith it will, it might become something different than what it has been due to all the changes that have happened over the last 13 years, which on one hand feels okay as the band has evolved, but on the other hand feels like it might end up that we’re working on something that could be energy better-served on something new and fresh and differently inspired. Via Audio was such a wonderful, unique thing for so long that I almost don’t want to tamper with it now that so much has changed. I’d like to let the music that made it out into the world speak for itself and not try to force anything else if it isn’t meant to be. Either way, Tom and I will continue to make music, whether together or in different capacities, and that feels inspired enough to me right now.

TD: Jess and I have both been writing music for other projects. I may record some of mine as a solo album soon. A bunch of work has gone into my band Lazercake. Jess has some really cool music posted on the Internet under the name Land Art.

Watch: Wing & A Prayer from Via Audio’s Natural Language: