NPR

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.

ORTHY DANCES INTO THE HEART
August 8, 2016 12:08 pm

Ian Orth is an Austin, TX songwriter and producer. His dance project Orthy is a perfect example of the wide variation of music coming out of Austin. Besides the more well known acts such as Spoon, Okkervil River or Explosions in the Sky there is another side to the Austin music scene that Orthy well represents.

The project was inspired by a combination of events. A weekly dance party hosted by Orth in Austin went by the name of Learning Secrets. This was an event that Orth and others would host to try and introduce people that were typically fans of rock music to the electronic dance music scene. They would bring in the best DJs around to try to expose the crowd to a night of good vibes and stellar beats. Orth had been writing music for a good period of time, but never felt the urge to share the music with anyone.

That all changed when he met his soon to be wife. Orth said in an interview, “…Then I fell in love with my fiancée, and I know it’s kind of cliché or easy to say, but I just started writing all of these songs and all of it sort of started coming out.” After that, the music had to go somewhere. It came out in the form of Orthy’s first EP in 2011 called Suenos. The three tracks on the EP have a very organic feel to them, as far as electronic music goes. There’s a bedroom production quality to the tunes that is undeniably attractive. The track “City Girl” is a standout cut.

Orthy came back in 2014 with another EP called E.M.I.L.Y that garnered the band a little bit of critical success. They were featured on NPR’s World Cafe later that same year. Most recently, in 2015, the act released yet another EP titled Listen to Her Heart after the Tom Petty classic. Orth reworked the Petty song into a slow pulsing electronic groove. The EP also contains remixes of a few tracks that appeared on 2014’s E.M.I.L.Y.

Orthy will be playing at the Sound on Sound festival in Sherwood Forest outside of Austin with a killer lineup featuring Courtney Barnett, Run the Jewels and Phantogram to name just a few. Keep an eye out for Orthy in the future as they have to be poised to release a full length record at some point.

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.

ESKIMEAUX SLAYS IN 2015
December 11, 2015 1:59 am

2015 has been a big year for Eskimeaux, the solo project of songwriter producer Gabrielle Smith. While she has been recording as Eskimeaux since 2007, this year marks the first time she has garnered wider recognition from her own music.

As a frequent collaborator and friend of bigger names in the lo-fi/bedroom pop world, like Frankie Cosmos and Mitski, Eskimeaux released her own album O.K. to an unforeseen amount of positive response. The release garnered critical acclaim, successfully catapulted her from the insular Brooklyn indie scene to a more nationally recognized Indie stage. NPR’s host of All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen, picked Eskimeaux’s album as one of his top 10 of the year along with bigger name acts like Courtney Barnett and Girlpool. Rolling Stone declared her one of the artists you need to know this year. Stereogum selected the album as their “album of the week” above more prominent artists The Tallest Man On Earth and Snoop Dog.

Yet with all of this publicity and high praise, it’s likely that most of you haven’t heard Esimeaux before. Luckily with music, it’s never too late to get started.

O.K. is a beautiful collection of eloquent and earnest bedroom-pop. The confessions she makes cut pretty deep, yet the precision with which she molds her lyrics into pristine melodies functions as a haunting juxtaposition to the darkness in her stories. Above a soundscape of beautifully layered keyboards and fuzzy guitars, Smith’s voice floats in a realm of its own—too present to be labeled ethereal yet too aloof to be fully comforting.

The breakout track from the album, “I Admit I’m Scared,” is a masterpiece in the art of understatement. Reworked from an earlier version of the same song, the version that appears on O.K. is a beautiful example of when music and lyrics come together to create something larger than the sum of their parts. The track begins with a nervous and unsteady confession, “I admit I’m scared.” A softly strummed banjo complements the naïve lyrics. Yet as the song continues and the narrator becomes more confident in her confession, booming percussion and guitars chime in to ensure the narrator’s intensity echoes out to the listener. There is a true beauty to Smith’s lyrical and musical method of storytelling – reminiscent of a film score. With a little luck and some excellent sync/licensing placement in the indie film/television world, Eskimeaux could easily become a household staple.

As we near the end of the year, it’s important to remember all of the things that stood out to us about the year. Music discovery is no exception. With an oversaturated market, it’s easy to miss something great and difficult to go back and revisit stuff you may have overlooked. Do not make that mistake with Eskimeaux. Go home, put on the record and give it the full listen that it deserves. You just might find that it sticks.

GET CAUGHT IN STOLEN JARS “WAVES”
November 14, 2015 7:20 am

Stolen Jars is the indie music project of Cody Fitzgerald and Molly Grund. Inspired by acts as diverse as Sufjan Stevens, Elvis Costello, and Dirty Projectors, the music is a vibrant mixture of looping intricate guitar lines and floating melodies all brought to life by a live band featuring Elena Juliano, Connor McGuigan, Matt Marsico and Tristan Rodman.

Fitzgerald and Grund are building off the success of Stolen Jars’ self-titled album released in 2011. The single off that album, “Driving,” was featured in an international Apple iPad commercial. Their sophomore album Kept is decidedly more ambitious. Fitzgerald composed and layered tracks in his bedroom, tinkering to ensure precision. He and Grund then worked together to build vocal melodies around the tracks.

Stolen Jars played CMJ for the first time a few weeks back, and Bob Boilen of NPR discovered the band and subsequently included them on his list of Top Ten Discoveries of CMJ, as well as All Songs Considered. He wrote of the band: “This staccato pop band wavers between arpeggiated guitar and electronics and a lilting, almost South African-styled guitar band at times. It’s that melody between two of its members – guitarist Cody Fitzgerald and singer Molly Grund – that keeps these six musicians from being more than just another joyous indie rock band.”

All this leads us to today where NPR First Watch shares Stolen Jars’ new music video “Waves” from their sophomore album, Kept.

Cody Fitzgerald of the band says this about how the video came to be: “The video is about falling into and out of different memories. I wrote this song at a time when I was wondering whether I should let those moments pass by as waves of emotion or embrace them. So when the three of us were making the video, we wanted to try and capture that wave-like feeling of falling into a memory and being unsure of whether or not that’s where you should be.”

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When premiering, “Folded Out,” the first single from Kept, Wondering Sound wrote “Cody Fitzgerald and Molly Grund’s voices spiral and intertwine . . . flutes dart like fireflies, strings swoop down – what started modest and pretty becomes mighty and bold and imposing.” After their second single release, more music bloggers including Stereogum, The Wild Magazine, and Gold Flake Paint enthusiastically agreed, describing the music as “addictively vibrant,” “sweetly supple,” “grand, an anthem.” The album was mixed by Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs, Deerhoof, WHY?) and mastered by Jeff Lipton (Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, LCD Soundsystem).

Over the course of the last year, Stolen Jars has been performing regularly in the Northeast, including shows with Sofar Sounds, Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, and Brandeis College’s Springfest where they opened for St. Lucia, ILOVEMAKONNEN and Jessie J. In addition to all of this, Fitzgerald has been working as a film composer on features such as The Rewrite (2015) and Hard Sell (2015). Get ready to fall into and out of different memories, blaming the nostalgia for your new-found love of Stolen Jars.

YOU WISH YOU KNEW: WISHYUNU
October 21, 2015 8:43 am

Wishyunu (pronounced Wish-You-Knew) is a psychedelic-electronic duo hailing from Portland, Oregon composed of drummer Tony Bertaccini and vocalist Bei Yan.

Like the greenery that surrounds it, Portland’s music scene is a highly fertile place that has given birth to a variety of genres. While Portland and the surrounding cosmopolitan areas in Oregon are known for being central to the rise of garage/grunge rock in the late 80s and alternative rock in the 90s, the mid-late 2000s ushered in an extension of Portland’s DIY creative ethos into the realm of indie-pop and electronica. Bands like Beach House, M83 and Washed Out had begun flaunting the popularity of self-programmed drums and highly compressed/reverberated vocals on the national stage. Portland bands quickly followed suit as new dream pop groups like Blouse, Pure Bathing Culture, and Radiation City began rising out of the woodwork.

Wishyunu’s sound – programmed beats beneath drone-like synths and a highly effected female vocalist – is by no means a groundbreaking endeavor. Their sound is familiar, reminiscent of the shoegaze and dream pop musical trends that have since passed. However, there is something uniquely captivating about the music when you isolate it from its popular music context and listen closely to the material. There is a cinematic quality to each of their songs with psychedelic drones oscillating between the drumbeats and smoky vocals creating this lushly layered and almost poly-rhythmic sound. The song “Summer Suit” the B-side off their most recent two-track 7″ Photoplay has an effective hypnotic quality to it, as if taken from the score of an action movie soundtrack (the soundtrack to Drive comes to mind). The track captured not only the attention of the BEASTS but also the attention of NPR as they featured it on Heavy Rotation: 10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing back in July.

As for what’s next for Wishyunu, it seems a bit under wraps. The band’s Facebook indicates that they are currently unsigned and touring locally so it seems safe to say they’re not gearing up to lead a nation-wide shoegaze dream-pop revival. However, outlets like Oregon Public Radio and NPR have indicated that they are gearing up to release another full-length. Perhaps the band has their sights set on something huge that will travel beyond the tree-lined Oregon walls. Only time will tell.

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4 Of Many Strong Musical Women With Businesses
October 2, 2015 12:08 am

As I came above ground on the B train to Brooklyn, I flipped through episodes of NPR’s All Songs Considered to see if there was anything I could quickly download before we ducked back underground.

The fan-girl in me saw the name Sharon Van Etten and immediately clicked “download.” I watched as the remaining two megabytes of space on my phone was eaten up by what I prayed would last through the remainder of my commute. The title of the episode “All Songs + 1: Sharon Van Etten Interviews Low’s Mimi Parker.

What I expected: a captivating conversation between two of my favorite musicians out there, Singer-Songwriter Sharon Van Etten and Indie-Rock veteran Mimi Parker (drummer and vocalist of the band Low). What I did not expect: the topic of conversation to be “how to balance being a musician and a mother.”

Typically, I roll my eyes at this kind of piece. You don’t see male rock-stars being hounded by the media with questions like “who takes care of your kids while you’re on the road?” or “what’s it like being away from your child for months at a time?” God forbid the father stay home and care for his child while the mother went out and earned a living.

But as I listened, I was slapped in the face with the privilege of my youth and child-less status. This wasn’t the media forcing two women in the workforce to confine their conversation to the subject of motherhood. No, here was Van Etten vulnerably and honestly confessing her deep fear of subjecting her child to the permanent stain of parental inadequacy. Here was a woman, anxiously anticipating her biological clock as it approaches the station. Any strong woman in her position would have asked for any words of wisdom that could potentially help make the most difficult decision of her life – pursue her dreams and give up on having a child or have a child and risk losing her entire career. Is it possible to do both?

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Parker’s band Low came up in the 90s when album sales were huge. Hell, Parker could afford a nanny to accompany them on tour and watch the kids while she soundchecked, performed, did press shots, signings, meet and greets, etc. Plus, Parker’s husband was also in the band which made touring a happy family affair. Van Etten, admittedly, couldn’t afford that kind of help. In fact, she even mentioned needing to pick up a second form of income to provide for her family. A famous musician with a day job… is Yuppie the new rock and roll?

It’s a shame. Whether we like it or not, today’s music artist has to be more than her moniker. She must be a shrewd businesswoman, a marketing guru, a self-promoter, an entrepreneur. She needs to know not only how to make music but also how to have her music make her money.

The following female indie musicians have successfully been able to strike that balance between art and industry, integrating their creative eye with their business acumen. We are choosing to focus on indie musicians because they have been able to engage with the business side of things without the massive corporate backing and brand partnerships that a major label provides. We are focusing on women because as tough as it is for dudes to make it in this industry, imagine how hard it is to overcome the same obstacles as the dudes plus the added weight of both sexism and/or carrying a child to term.

So take a peek into the side-endeavors of just a few of your favorite female indie rockers and allow yourself to become inspired by their creativity and their work ethic. I know I am.

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Courtney Barnett – Breakout indie rocker of 2015, Courtney Barnett captured the hearts of millions with her neo-Dylan talk-singing, psychedelic melodies, and proto-punk electric guitar riffs. But did you know she also co-founded Milk! Records with her girlfriend, Jen Cloher and their friends. Their website outlines how they are an “independent label where you can buy direct from the artist.” They also “occasionally curate special events, compilations, split 7” vinyl releases and artist designed t-shirts and curios from friends and artists we love.” A group of friends self-releasing their own material and selling it to a DIY-hungry audience sounds like the dream to me.

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Zooey Deschanel – You may think I’m going to talk about her highly lucrative career as an actress, but I’m not. Not only is Zooey a fabulous musician and infectious actress, but she also founded hellogiggles, a “positive online community for women (although men are always welcome!) covering DIY and crafting projects, beauty, friendship, sex & relationships, tips on savvy and stylish living meant to inspire a smile.” Sure that sounds like the quirk-heavy Zooey that polarizes many women across the country, but you can’t really argue with the numbers and with how much traffic her site gets, that’s one hell of a side-gig.

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Amanda Palmer – You may know her as lead singer of The Dresden Dolls. You may know her from her infamous kickstarter campaign which raised nearly 1.2 million dollars. Or perhaps you know her from the countless controversies she has encountered like her publicized dispute with Roadrunner Records or her Poem for Dzhokkar. Palmer has captured our attention over the years for countless reasons, one of which she turned into a book. Following the success of her highly viewed Ted Talk special “The Art of Asking,” Palmer turned her speech into a book with the same title. The book garnered mixed reviews but sure enough it climbed its way onto the New York Times bestsellers list. Not bad for a first time author.

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Brittany Howard – Lead singer and guitarist of the acclaimed Alabama Shakes recently announced her side-project, Thunderbitch. Thunderbitch is the old-school rock outlet for a collective of seasoned acts including Fly Golden Eagle and Clear Plastic Masks. Their website bio reads “Thunderbitch. Rock ‘n’ Roll. The end.” Thunderbitch is not tied to any known label (indie or otherwise) and seems to be running the whole operation on its own. While she’s left me with more questions than I’d like, I’m definitely stoked to see what this side-endeavor evolves into.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awesome. So are you going on tour anytime soon?

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

Well who knows whats next after that..

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

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