EAST VILLAGE

SAM EVIAN: STAY HYDRATED
June 27, 2016 12:23 pm

You guys. I’m pretty sure this is the best response to an email interview anyone has ever gotten. After failing to secure time to interview Sam Evian in person, I sent him a list of questions through email, and got an MP3 with a SOUNDTRACK in response. I don’t think anyone has ever spent so much time giggling alone in a cubicle as I did when that showed up in my inbox. What follows is a transcript of that file, which you can listen to as you read.

Oh, and for the formal stuff: Sam Evian is the “luxury brand” of Brooklyn musician, engineer, and producer Sam Owens. You may be familiar with his work in Celestial Shore. Last Monday saw his new outfit perform in the penthouse suite of The Standard, East Village. It’s a great place to hang out if you want to feel like an urchin. Regardless, the band sounded great and the view off the private deck is pretty unbelievable. For a list of upcoming shows at the penthouse, click here. Ok, on with the interview!

It says in your artist bio that you wrote the 10 songs on your upcoming album Premium ten days prior to your first show, though the ideas had been in your head for a long time. What was it like to finally bring your ideas into the world?

It was really fun.

As an engineer and producer, do you ever feel like you stress too much over the production of your own music?

While there’s certainly vortexes and traps that people fall into when they’re recording themselves, and I’m certainly no stranger to those, the process on this record was relaxed. It was kind of stress-free, and the mixes were the most difficult part. I kind of just locked myself in the basement, well, in the studio that I work at, and mixed until it was done (for six days). At the end of it, I felt like I kind of emerged as a new person. I learned a lot about myself and my process. So yeah, it’s kind of a “full circle” thing.

I love your song “Sleep Easy,” partially because it reminds me a bit of Porcelain Raft (one of my favorite musicians). Are you also a fan?

I wish I could say, honestly, I knew who Porcelain Raft was but I don’t. And I guess that’s kind of one of the reasons way I wanted to respond to you in this way. I think if you’re going to sit down and answer questions over email, I may have Googled Porcelain Raft and decided whether I liked it or not and then responded, having done that. And I think that’s a little dishonest. So I’ll be sure to check it out.

You mentioned in your interview with Impose that “Bottled water is weird and totally irresponsible (kinda like playing music)…” Do you really feel like playing music is irresponsible?

[Laughs] Yes. Actually, I should say playing music is not irresponsible, totally. Directing your life towards only trying to play music can be extremely irresponsible.

You already have 71 Instagram followers [now 190] and your only entry is a video of you pouring water on your face. What’s your secret?

Hydration.

There are so many great music venues in New York. Do you have a favorite?

Yeah, my favorite venue of all-time in New York is The Bowery Ballroom because it’s a beautiful room and there’s a sound guy named Kenny who mixes all analog and the sound is just really phenomenal. And the staff are really great too, so that’s my favorite all-around venue.

But I’ve lived in New York for close to five years, maybe six, and there used to be a venue called Big Snow Buffalo Lodge in Bushwick and I spent a lot of time there learning how to play guitar, And learning how to play shows, and hanging out with really wonderful musicians. And it doesn’t exist anymore, but I still think about it a lot.

I guess that ties in with your next question of “Are there any venues with sentimental value for me”, and that certainly is one of them. But I also like the venues out in Bushwick like The Silent Barn and Shea Stadium. I have a fondness for them as well.

Did you grow up in New York?

No, I grew up in North Carolina.

What’s your favorite place in the city for pizza?

Well, I really like Best Pizza…because it’s the best.

Is it true that your mother is Italian? Have you spent much time in Italy?

I’ve never been to Italy, but someday I’d like to go to Italy with my mother. Her side of the family, they’re called the Trupianos, and they’re very Italian.

What do you think of the Italian pop music they have there?

I know of this wonderful artist named Luxardo, and I really recommend them.

What’s with all the Ringo Starr on your Twitter page?

Ringo’s Twitter is really amazing, and I think if you read through it, you really start to get a sense for how he is as a person. Like, it’s definitely him posting on Twitter. And I suppose ultimately, my greater plan is to be able to hang out with him someday and record with him playing the drums. Because he’s still out there, and he’s literally the best drummer of all time. Yeah, definitely Ringo.

Did you ever see The Point, that animated film Ringo did in ’71?

Yeah, the Nilsson film with the record. My favorite song is “Me And My Arrow” on that record. Yeah, Ringo narrated it. I think that may have been the beginning of his career in narration. I grew up with Thomas the Tank Engine, which he also narrated. Ringo’s been in my life.

What can your fans look forward to in the near future?

More visual and auditory stimulation.

Garden City Movement Hypnotizes NYC
October 12, 2015 10:22 am

The East Village was full of good looking 20-somethings walking around the streets hopping from one bar to another. Finding a mysterious staircase that lead underground on Avenue A, it brought me down to one of the most underrated venues Elvis Guesthouse. At 9am sharp the electronic band Garden City Movement from Tel Aviv, Israel made their performance debut in the U.S. by playing some sick beats. The room was packed with locals who were down to get into some groove that night.
The iridescent blue lights added to the air of mystery from the fog machines and created a dream-like atmosphere that made the experience sort of trippy. Sort of made me feel I was on a drug trip I didn’t want to end. Every song had a different personality to it and had a great balance between electronic beats, vocals, and guitars. Every time I would watch them hit their beat pads I’d unabashedly step to it and dance the night away. They’re one of those bands that you have to experience live to fully appreciate their music because their energy can’t be translated through their recordings. I walked out of the venue practically mind blown that these guys aren’t being raved about as much as they should! Let’s start raving! 

Save B&H Dairy/A Short History of Diners in Music
July 9, 2015 11:00 am

East Village restaurant B&H Dairy has been closed for over 3 months at this point. Narrowly escaping the gas explosion that destroyed Pommes Frites on March 26th, B&H Dairy has yet to reopen, and the 73-year old luncheonette is at risk of going out of business.

Though B&H Dairy was unharmed in the explosion, subsequent inspections of the restaurant found it needed a new fire system at a cost of $28,000. A post on the blog EV Grieve outlines the full extent of the red tape the owners are trapped in:

For starters, owners Fawzy Abdelwahed and Ola Smigielsk needed approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (the building is in the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District) to install the new fire suppression system. The LPC approval finally came through last week. And as of Wednesday [July 1st], the DOB had issued the necessary permit for the job. Work starts on Monday. (The contractor needed to be first approved by the FDNY.)

Jeremiah Moss of Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York adds in his own article on the diner:

…the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City promised financial assistance to residents and businesses impacted by the Second Avenue explosion, but no funds have made their way to Fawzy and Ola, and no one from the city has been in touch with them.

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So what’s the big deal about this place? It’s the best diner on earth. In its 73 years on Second Avenue, it’s been a home-away-from-home for countless people looking for comfort in a bowl of mushroom barley soup and a few thick slices of house made challah with butter. Little Jimmy Urine of Mindless Self Indulgence was kind enough to share his memories of B&H with ATYPICALSOUNDS:

I was born and raised in New York City and for 14 years I lived on 7th Street and 1st Avenue with my roommate and drummer Kitty. We spent most of our time on St. Mark’s Place and the surrounding neighborhood and one major staple of that neighborhood was and is B&H Dairy. It is a small, one-counter, old-school establishment with the most famous Challah French Toast in the world.

I’m not a vegetarian and have never been and I tend not to eat at super healthy places, but B&H was different. Kitty and I ate there thousands of times. Sure there are tons of places on the Lower East Side to get a good knish or blintze but B&H has a charm and a quaintness that is packed into the smallest restaurant I have ever frequented.

For years I would write songs all night until six in the morning and inevitably end up around the corner at B&H downing an omelette before I crashed for the day. I’m proud to say that B&H is a very big part of mine and Kitty’s life working and living in New York City. I don’t know much about the current situation that B&H is in as I have not lived in the city since 2005, but I would be very saddened to see another great local L.E.S. establishment lost like so many before.

Jimmy and the rest of Mindless Self Indulgence are getting ready to release Pink, an album of never-released tracks from the band’s early years. Pre-order the album here.

Another East Village native, indie folk musician Jeffrey Lewis, offered his memories as well:

B&H is a mainstay of the neighborhood, and has been for generations. I’ve been going there for years (I grew up a couple blocks away), and despite the small size I often bump into friends or neighborhood familiar faces; bumping into an ex-girlfriend there inspired a song on one of my albums a few years back.

When Lower East Side cultural hero Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs died in 2010, Ratso Sloman catered the local memorial with borscht from B&H, a Tuli favorite. In fact, I may just be the only person who has figured out that the dark, obscure photo of Tuli on the back cover of his 1967 solo album No Deposit/No Return is, if you look closely, a photo of Tuli standing in the doorway of B&H. You can’t see the name, but the door-frame and surrounding details are unmistakable, for those who would know!

Jeffrey Lewis just completed a tour of Europe in support of his recent album, Jeffrey Lewis & the Jrams. Order it here.

What can you do to help B&H Dairy? Donate if you can. If you can’t, Jeremiah Moss has started a Twitter campaign to light a fire under the ass of city officials. And to remind you all of the importance of diners in pop culture, let alone New York City, here is a short list of diners in music.

Suzanne Vega – “Tom’s Diner”

While this pop iconoclast is on every. single. list of food-related songs, it would be wrong to leave out. There is no better place in the world for people watching than your local diner, and this song is a perfectly concise illustration of that. The song’s namesake, Tom’s Restaurant, is located at the corner of Broadway and 112th Street. It’s also known as the exterior for the fictional Monk’s Café on Seinfeld.

Listen: Suzanne Vega – “Tom’s Diner”

King Missile – “Detachable Penis”

Bet you haven’t heard this one since high school. While searching the East Village for his missing phallus, our hero stops for breakfast at the now-gone Kiev Restaurant. Closed in 2000, Kiev was known for its Eastern European fare, including blintzes and mushroom barley soup (much like the menu at B&H Dairy). Kiev was open 24/7 at the corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street, and must’ve seen some pretty incredible characters in its nearly 30 years in business.

Listen: King Missile – “Detachable Penis”

Rent OST – “La Vie Boheme”

This one isn’t about a diner, so much as it is a celebration of diner culture. In the Rent musical, the characters meet at the Life Café after Maureen’s protest of the eviction of the homeless from a vacant lot. It’s late at night, and Life Café stands out like a warm beacon on a dark city street. They celebrate. The real Life Café was located on Tenth Street and Avenue B. It closed in 2013 after 34 years in business.

Listen: Rent OST – “La Vie Boheme”

The Human League – “Don’t You Want Me”

This classic song about a failing relationship between a cocktail waitress and a jerk is a still a mainstay on dance floors everywhere (or just in Williamsburg). Since its release in 1981, the song has also appeared in commercials for mops, shower heads, cookies, and chicken.

Listen: The Human League – “Don’t You Want Me”

Greta Gertler & The Extroverts – “Veselka”

This polka-infused love letter to Ukrainian diner Veselka is all the more poignant when you learn Gertler originates from Australia, but still has a place she feels at home at the East Village diner. In it, she sings, “I used to go there on my own a lot/or with my best girlfriend/over coffee and pierogi/our hearts began to mend”. Veselka still stands at the same place it’s been since opening in 1954 at the corner of Second Avenue and Ninth Street, just over a block from where B&H Dairy remains closed. It’s clear Veselka won’t be going anywhere soon, and B&H Dairy shouldn’t have to either.

Listen: Greta Gertler & The Extroverts – “Veselka”

New Music Seminar Takes Over the Big Apple
June 30, 2015 1:20 pm

“Do you want to be part of the largest movement to build the music business- to be part of the community that is affecting change?”

As a music enthusiast, it’s important that you know about one of the most important music events in the city. Being able to attend the New Music Seminar this year, I’ve been really fortunate to be a part of the music business movement and to be able to engage with colleagues of the same interest.

By attending panels that tackled discussions such as the role of artist managers and where indie labels stand in the industry right now, I was able to expose myself to a range of knowledge and ideas that I wouldn’t have been able to answer myself. It was motivational seeing important music business individuals express their informed opinions and give us advice on how to handle situations. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited sitting through these discussions and taking notes like I was back in college studying for a test.

While these mind boggling topics of the music industry kept me occupied during the daytime, I’d have to say that I was pretty impressed with the festival performances that went on in the evening. The opening night red carpet was helday1_DIY-movementd at Webster Hall with an extensive line up of talented musicians including Alessia Cara, Fictionist, Bad Veins, Belmont Lights, Jay Stolar, Grace Weber, and Melanie Martinez. Although Webster Hall is one of my least favorite venues in the city, NMS managed to glam it up with a beautiful red carpet. The show started later than expected and I was pretty exhausted from all the waiting, but I was blown by the amount of talent I saw that night.

I discovered Alessia Cara for the first time and was astonished by her soulful voice. I was also taken aback by Belmont Light’s powerful stage presence; so much so that it was impossible to think a record label hasn’t picked them up yet. Expecting Melanie Martinez to make a grand entrance on stage as a last act, she peacefully strutted her way on stage with no shoes on while hardcore teen fans raged. Although she seemed reserved at first, her confidence projected through the room when she started singing. Her songs may sound depressing with lyrics like “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to,” but it gets pretty contagious and you’ll be singing it to yourself the next few days.

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The next two nights followed with an overwhelming line up of musicians who performed at DROM, Cake Shop, Pianos, and The Delancey. I ended up staying in Pianos for the first night seeing Little Racer, Lewis Lane, and Dear Rouge. Tuesday night had a line up which was tough for me to choose since my favorite bands were overlapping with each other. Most venues were pretty close to each other except for DROM, in which I exhausted myself running back and forth. I started the night with mellow tunes from Frances Cone, and checked out the indie-pop sister band Chaos Chaos afterwards right next door. I traveled all the way to DROM to see the last set of The Collection and made my way back to the lower east to see some Fort Lean because that Northside Festival showcase wasn’t enough for me. I definitely didn’t want to miss City of the Sun because no matter how many times you listen to them, they will never disappoint. There’s something about their tunes that put you in a euphoric state that leave you with the chills.

All in all, the New Music Seminar was a successful evening bursting at the windows and walls with talent, successful professionals, and innovative artists who live, breath, and work the ever-changing music industry!

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Oberhofer Takes Over Elvis Guesthouse
June 21, 2015 2:02 pm

When you say 85 Avenue A you immediately think, Arrow Bar. Or at least you should have, until now. Earlier this year, the team of well-known Williamsburg venue Baby’s All Right opened a new bar/club in the East Village, taking over the old Arrow Bar space (RIP). The newly remodeled venue (with legitimate bathrooms might I add) is our new favorite small band destination called, Elvis Guesthouse.

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You can imagine my surprise when I found out that not only was my once favorite bar being replaced, but now my favorite band was playing at this new replacement. Oh, the conflicting feelings! I stumbled in last Wednesday night, June 17th to see Oberhofer taking the stage. Since the space is small, there wasn’t a bad seat in the house; you could really get up into the faces of the band members, seeing every drip of sweat slowly sliding down their nervous faces.

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Never seeing Oberhofer perform live, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but after a shaky start the group killed the rest of the performance. Their garage band sound was a perfect match for the intimate space of Elvis Guesthouse. I felt like I was at band practice. The sounds weren’t perfect, but that just added to the charm of the evening as lead singer and guitarist, Brad Oberhofer, continued to drink his mystery liquid from a pitcher rather than pint glass.

Oberhofer can be categorized as a mixture of GIRLS, and Yellow Ostrich. The almost grunge, almost indie pop, and almost psychedelic, Oberhofer remains one of those gems you can still see in small intimate spaces. Listen up and get familiar. They’ll be back again to wow us this fall with the highly anticipated album, Chronovision.