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Feminist America Won’t Let Planned Parenthood Go Without a Fight
April 19, 2017 12:10 pm

At 21, I walked a childhood friend into Planned Parenthood when she feared she might be pregnant. With our shaky hands intertwined—hers seeking support and mine offering it—we walked inside, straight into the place we knew would have the answers should her fears be confirmed.

On April 13, President Donald Trump approved a bill giving states the legal right to withhold funding for Planned Parenthoods clinics should they choose. For men and women in more conservative territories, their means of receiving a free and reduced price yearly physicals, pap smears, mammograms, condoms abortion services have been taken away.  In the name of “religious freedom”, their access to affordable reproductive healthcare is gone.

Planned Parenthood de-funding

It’s a move many of Americans who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016’s election feared would become a reality. While every Republican isn’t anti-pro-choice, the President has proven himself to be staunchly anti-pro-choice. As well as also being an advocate for “family values”—which, by action and not words, means homophobic, transphobic, and against feminism—and one who has displayed sexist, classist, and rape culture-sympathetic behavior, Trump at the helm of the country’s operations spells danger for women.

President Trump’s witch hunt against Planned Parenthood and feminist adjacent aides to female healthcare, despite what his cabinet insists isn’t true, is, in fact, a war on women. When he proposed keeping the organization’s funding in place as long as they got rid of abortion services, it was the latest battle waged in this war. Taking services and entire organizations that directly assist women’s healthcare and cut them because they don’t fit the narrative of “family values” is why advocates are rising up.

Musical artists from Best Coast to Katy Perry, actors like American Ferrera and Scarlett Johansson, and political figures like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are among the most vocal advocates for the continued funding of Planned Parenthood clinics in the U.S. They know the importance of having condoms, breast exams, STD and STI tests and treatments, and yes, abortion services, available to those who need them.

Because personal judgments shouldn’t interfere with the health of your fellow man and woman.

So what can we as a people do now that the war is on?

We can donate to Planned Parenthood. You can sign petitions and advocate with groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign. You can volunteer at your local Planned Parenthood clinic or attend an appointment there. You can use the hashtag #WeWontGoBack to spread the organization’s message on social media, and/or speak with family and friends (this guide is handy all year round!) about the benefits of Planned Parenthood and the current government’s involvement.

Even though my childhood friend wasn’t pregnant all those years ago, she knew that Planned Parenthood had her back if push came to shove. She knew that the state of her health was important to them. President Trump can’t take away what the American people put up a fight to protect. Planned Parenthood is a savior for so many, and we’re not backing down to save it.

Check out our playlist that is filled with badass songs about empowering women and giving us the right to choose what we do with our bodies.

Ads on Tumblr: Is Nowhere Safe?
November 17, 2016 1:18 pm

Earlier this summer, Tumblr, the common blog of choice for painfully hip and melancholy teens, decided to dip their toes into the realm of commercializing their user base by enabling the option of slathering ads site wide. The move allows for Tumblr users themselves to monetize their blogging hobby by running their own personal ads and allows sites like Yahoo to run advertisements. The decision came on the heels of Verizon purchasing Yahoo earlier this summer, with Yahoo itself having purchased Tumblr in the summer of 2013.

The practical decision was at first met with the usual reaction from those who are used to being provided a service with little to no catch: derision. But it hasn’t been all bad; Tumblr allows users to switch off the ads in their settings menu, a step that is more about maintaining good will with their user base than becoming money hungry. The ability to switch off ads usually comes at a price to the everyday consumer, most commonly in the form of a premium account.

The decision came shortly after one of the largest internet mergers in its history. Verizon added the social media website to their ever growing list of content sites that it has steadily consumed over the years. As Tumblr has been traditionally regarded as a bastion for those who feel cast aside or otherwise different than mainstream internet consumers, the strategy from Verizon, as harmless as it may seem, opens the door for future changes in a capitalistic direction. Hence the reason why internet activists fight so hard to keep what privacy rights they are given; once begun, it’s a slippery slope.

Monetizing previously free service websites has always been a compulsory first step after a previously agreed amount of time. Popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit made the jump long ago, sacrificing a small piece of community goodwill in order to serve the very concrete problems and issues that face internet companies. With the ease and familiarity that users navigate the web, it can often come as a shock to find things not only different, but to be thought of as the product instead of the consumer. It’s within that discomfort where a company can move in one of two different directions: to either appeases the users or appease the board and/or the stockholders. It takes a brave spirit to attempt both and time will tell whether Tumblr can keep its outsider shine amongst the gold.

THE FUNDAMENTAL DIANE COFFEE
November 14, 2016 9:00 am

Guys. Me and Shaun Fleming of Diane Coffee have the same silver eyeshadow. And now that that’s out of my system, I can tell you that we were able to grab some quality time with the shiny bombshell himself Thursday night before his show with St. Paul and The Broken Bones at Terminal 5. Keep reading to get the essentials on how Shaun feels about touring, turning the big 3-0, and what it’s like to sing opera at Macaroni Grill.

It’s been a really weird week, with the election happening two days ago. Did you perform last night?
We did. I needed that more than anything else I’ve ever needed, ever. I look to music and to artists to get me though everything from cracked a toenail, or this. [The band] were talking about it, and none of us had slept the night before, and we were just…I’m sure a lot of people were stressed on both sides. It was really close for a long time. So we were feeling pretty down, plus sick all over from the outcome. [Drummer] Kate was throwing up before she went onstage. Everyone was feeling really dumpy and awful. We were in Philadelphia last night, and the crowd was so positive and so energetic, and it was really awesome to be someone’s relief.

How is your tour going otherwise?
It’s really great, we sold out tonight. It’s been one of my favorite tours. I feel like [St. Paul and The Broken Bones] and I are cut from the same cloth in a lot of ways, but we’re different enough where I think it’s a nice blend. We’re playing to a lot of people who have never heard us before, and they’re walking away really enjoying what they heard, so we couldn’t have asked for a better pairing. Crowds have been awesome, they’re here to dance, they’re here to have fun, and the few headlining shows we had done were great. I got sick early on; right when we hit the road, it became fall all of a sudden. I had to cancel a show, which was a bummer, but other than that I think it’s been awesome.
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Is it hard for you to sit in a van with a group of people for the entire length of a tour?
I’ve been playing with Foxygen as well, so I feel like I’ve been on the road for like five years straight. [Diane Coffee has] been touring this record since September of 2015, almost nonstop. It’s funny; I get home and I feel like I need to go to the gas station just to go to the bathroom to feel any sort of normalcy. It’s been awesome and very tiring. You get used to it, and I’m traveling with great people who are my closest friends, kind of the only friends I have now with being on the road.

The lineup for this tour is new; I was playing with a separate band for everything prior to this for the Good Dog tour. And this tour kind of came up last minute and the other band couldn’t commit. It’s fun for me, because everyone brings their own personality to it, so everything feels very fresh and very new and very exciting again.

Will you be playing with Foxygen when they perform in New York?
No, I’ve stepped away from Foxygen. I’ve got so much to do with this project now, kind of focusing on my baby. They’ve got a whole new lineup though, and it’s amazing. They just played their first show that I haven’t played with them, ever. It was kind of surreal to see the tweets and stuff, “Excited to see Foxygen!”, and I’d have a little panic attack like “I’m supposed to be onstage!”. It’s like that dream where you forget your clothes and you’re at school. It was that feeling. I’m excited to see my first Foxygen show.

I have to ask, what brand is your silver eyeshadow and is there a method to the madness in its application?
There is, I got way better at it. It’s been about 2 or 3 years in the making now. I started doing it with Foxygen and it developed in that world and spilled over into this one. I’m using Maybelline Color Tattoo. Once it dries, it doesn’t come off. And just a basic eyeliner. And I use that Maybelline silver eyeshadow for my lipstick too, which I don’t think you’re supposed to do. I got this stuff by L’Oreal, Liquid Diamond powder, and I was thinking of doing gold, but it kind of looks like you have jaundice. But if you mix it with a silver powder, it’s kind of a weird halfway point between silver and gold.

Guitarist Matt Kronish walks in.

Me and Matt grew up together in L.A.

Matt: I feel like we’re still growing up together.

What was he like as a teenager?

Shaun: Matt had shorter hair.

Matt: He was just as much of a dynamo when we were 15.

Shaun: We were just talking makeup. Matt wore makeup for the first time the other day.

I’m a serious journalist, and we’re talking about makeup.

Matt: Getting to the hard issues.

Shaun: How do you feel about the election? What brand [of eyeshadow] do you use? Actually, that’s actually exactly where it went.

Matt leaves.
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You’ve mentioned in interviews that you embody a female role for your Diane Coffee persona.
Not necessarily a female role. I embody the feminine archetype, which is sort of that performer. Everything gets lost in translation with interviews, especially stuff like that. Diane Coffee is that feeling that you get when you’re a shy, reserved person, but maybe you go to a concert and the energy surrounds you and because of that community, you’re singing at the top of your lungs, and you’re dancing and then you’re back home and you’re quiet and reserved again. It’s the same thing when you go onstage; that thing that kind of takes over.

You hear a lot of artists that say they don’t remember what they do onstage. I remember what I do onstage to an extent, but that part of me takes over completely. That’s what I call Diane Coffee. When I’m performing, I’m Diane Coffee. If the band feels it, they’re Diane Coffee. If the audience feels it, they’re all Diane Coffee. I definitely wanted a more feminine name, but I don’t think it’s a character I’m playing onstage. It’s a piece of me that’s amplified greatly.

You used to live in New York and L.A., and now you’re in Bloomington. Do you feel like a big fish in a small pond when you’re at home?
I really love Bloomington. When I grew up in L.A., I wasn’t in L.A. proper; I was in a small place called Agoura. New York is kind of scary; I lived on the Lower East Side, which was a lot. Everyone was like “You should’ve moved to Brooklyn”, and they’re probably right. Bloomington felt to me like going back to business as usual. I don’t feel like a big fish or anything like that. A lot of my band members come from Bloomington, and there’s a sea of talented people there. There’s the Secretly Canadian label, Jagjaguwar, all that stuff, so they’re there. It feels like an artistic community in the middle of Indiana. It’s like this cultural oasis in the middle of corn. It doesn’t feel like a lot of other midwest towns; it’s a college town.

I’m far enough away that I do kind of become a little bit of a shut-in. Me and my girl have a house out in the woodsy area and it’s great. When you tour, it’s like city, city, city, city, all the time. And when I get home, I don’t want to be in a city, I want to be somewhere where I can have a fire and kind of just unwind and get creative again.

You’re turning 30 in the coming year.
Yes, I am. I’m trying not to think about it though. I feel like 29 was freaking me out more than I think 30 will be. My then-girlfriend in high school, me and her made this pact: she made me promise that if nothing starts happening with music by the time I’m 28, I had to get out of music and get a job or something like that. When I was 25, 26, I was like “Fuck that, I’m gonna keep doing what I’m gonna do”, and I started playing with Foxygen and things were taking off and it was going well. But still, in the back of my mind I was like “Oh man, 28 is coming up. How am I going to feel about it when I hit that point?”. And then my birthday was during the Primavera festival in Spain, and I think that was the biggest crowd I had ever played to, like 20,000 people or something like that. And I remember just thinking “This is cool, I think this counts as ‘I can keep doing this.’” But I mean, I know a lot of cool 30-year-olds. You seem cool. The world’s not going to come to an end. At least not because I’m turning 30.

Have you ever had a “real” job?
I did acting and stuff as a kid, and then no one really taught me about saving any of it. And one day it was like “Ok, this is over now. I have no more money.” My first job was at Cold Stone Creamery.
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Did you have to sing when they put money in the tip jar?
We’d holler for a dollar. Everyone had to sing. I was not getting into it. I had a job at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, and I was a host/opera singer. Every hour on the hour, I had to go into the middle of the restaurant, pull out a chair, take out a fork and a cup and sing some opera standard.

Our Macaroni Grill never did that.
I don’t know if it was just this one, or if they knew I could sing and were like “This is what you do, this is part of the job.” And I would have to go around to the tables and ask if people wanted a song and they would maybe tip me a dollar or something. It was so brutal. I hated everything about that job. That was, like, my darkest hour, I think. I was living in Reseda, in this little cramped apartment by myself. I was trying to play music and write, but I couldn’t get a band together. And L.A. just sucks for trying to put a band together.

That sounds like the theme of a Tom Petty song.
I tried everywhere – Ventura sucked, Reseda sucked. I ended up moving to Boston for six or eight months, crashed on couches. Tried to be in a pop band, that didn’t work out. I did a lot of teaching; I taught voice and guitar and a lot of stuff like that. Things were getting super dark and I didn’t know what to do anymore. So I was thinking about going back to school and trying to get into music business, which I’ve never really wanted to do. Anything to keep me in the world. That’s when Rado [of Foxygen] hit me up, and was like “Hey, we got a show, do you want to play some drums?”. That’s when one show became two, and two became more.

When you were a voice actor on the Disney cartoon “Kim Possible”, were you held to a strong code of ethics like many of the actresses on Disney’s live-action shows?
No, no one knows who the hell we are. It’s great, my dad would just pull me out of school, drive down and we’d sit in a booth and do the thing and get out. No one really knows who you are. Especially pre-internet, no one knew who the hell any of these vocal actors were.

Do you look forward to coming back to New York at all? Is there a pizzeria that you like?
I was living right across the street from Lombardi’s, so I was right in the thick of it. I look forward to the dumpling houses. I was right near Chinatown and I was broke as all hell, so dumplings.

I love being in New York and playing in New York, but I hate living in New York. I hate driving in New York. I hate parking. I always end up getting a parking ticket.

Do you have any last words before you go on tonight?
I think this is going to be the last show in New York for a while. I’m going to be doing the new record soon. I’m sure this will be one of the first stops. Don’t forget me, New York.

COOL COMPANY’S SLICE OF PARADISE
November 7, 2016 9:00 am

Are you ready to take a trip with Cool Company? The Brooklyn duo recently released their Slice of Paradise LP, and it’s a sublime taste of a tropical summer holiday, perfect for escaping these blustery autumn days.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS got to engage in some correspondence with Cool Yan and Fat Matt, and got the inside story on the album’s creation.

Congratulations on the recent release of your album Slice of Paradise. What’s the most important thing you learned during its production?
Y: I think on this project we really started to break out of our shell and take ownership of our style. We started being a little more experimental and just did what felt right to us even if we were bending some rules we may have been previously trying to abide by.

M: We developed a few techniques for processing Yan’s voice that I didn’t perfect until the end of the recording process. I was also learning about some of the Native Instruments Komplete plugins as I went, but that is just a part of being a musician. You are always better after working on a project than you were before.

Is there anything you were looking to do on the album that you couldn’t do on your previous releases?
M: On this album, we were able to bring in some talented instrumentalists and vocalists to add their sounds to the work. Yan and I can cover everything if we need, but adding back up vocals, brass, and guitar from people who were much more skilled in those specific areas gave the sound an extra dimension.

The songs on Slice of Paradise seem a lot less silly (for lack of a better term) than “Call You Back”, the song many of your fans may know you for. Was there a conscious effort to make more “serious” music?
Y: I think we’ve always made serious music since the beginning, but when it comes to the singles and one-off releases, we like to have a little fun and keep things light for our audience.  At the same time, with every song that we write, we continue to grow and some of this new music is representative of our continued growth.

Were you two friends in high school? I read you met in choir class.
M: We came from different grades and friend groups, but I think we each thought the other one was funny and we started hanging out. We also had Latin class together and Yan would always fall asleep because it was right after lunch. The Latin teacher would always get flustered when she saw him asleep and yell at him.

What was it like to meet back up in 2012? How did the creation of Cool Company come about?
Y: We started making music for fun with a bunch of our hometown homies and sometimes it’d just be the two of us chilling making tracks and writing raps. We noticed it had a totally different vibe and style than when we would all work together and it just sort of grew from there.

Are both of you originally from Brooklyn?
M: We are both from New Jersey; we moved to Brooklyn after releasing our first album. I guess we are part of the change; lots of creative types move into the city seeking an outlet to express themselves.

Is it financially difficult to be a musician in the city? Are you in a position where you need to balance a day job with your musical career?
M: It definitely requires some differences in lifestyle from friends of ours with full time jobs in Manhattan. People take Uber everywhere; I don’t even have the app on my phone. We get by by living relatively far out in Bushwick, sharing a big apartment with a bunch of other people, cooking meals instead of ordering, and generally trying to take care of things ourselves instead of paying someone else to do it.

For money, I work out of our studio recording, producing and mixing for other NYC artists, and teaching lessons. Yan works in a restaurant and occasionally does graphic design and songwriting and recording work.

Are there any bands in Brooklyn you feel deserve more attention?
M: There are a lot of great contemporary acts in BK, and we’ve been fortunate to be able to play shows with a few of them. Lewis Lane, Greg Banks, Lawrence, Blood Cultures, Lady Moon & the Eclipse, and The Northern Orchard are some of our favorites

What kind of music are you currently listening to?
Y: Right now I’m listening to a lot of top 40 stuff cuz I like stay in the loop, but I also listen to a lot of alternative R&B as well as some old school Motown. I’m always trying to find new music that I haven’t heard as well as keep up with what new stuff is being released, whether it’s real popular or more grassroots.

What albums would you recommend for someone looking to get more into soul and R&B music?
Y: I love anything from Frank Ocean, Anderson .Paak, The Weeknd (especially his earlier stuff, even though I still love his more current pop sound). Emily King, Esperanza Spalding, R. Kelly, Majid Jordan, there’s so much good stuff out there.

M: I’d recommend Emily King and Anderson .Paak as well, also King, this amazing group of 3 ladies making beautiful R&B music. For classic stuff, my favorites are Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield and Sly & The Family Stone.

What is your favorite NYC pizzeria?
M: My favorite is BD Pizza on Stanton St. near Arlene’s Grocery. It’s the only dollar pizza place I’ve found that gives you parmesan, plus the fact that it is a dollar makes it so much tastier.

What’s next? Are you planning to tour?
Y: We been really preoccupied with the Slice of Paradise record, so we haven’t been able to invest much energy into our live shows. But now that we’ve dropped the album, our next priority is gigging around the city, so look out for us playing around in the next few months or so. We also may set up a tour for next summer and hit some festivals. My family is from London, so we are also trying to get over to Europe for a few shows too.

BEN TALMI IS READY TO PLAY
October 31, 2016 12:00 am

Ben Talmi has worked behind the scenes for ages, manning the boards at Virtue and Vice Studios, as well as scoring films and being a DJ for an EDM-driven circus (more on that later). Now Ben has stepped into the spotlight, releasing a music video for his song, “Play”, and gearing up for the release of his album.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS was lucky to catch a few minutes with this musical renaissance man, and get his take on creating music for a diverse world.

You recently released a video for your song “Play”. What’s next?
I’ve got some more music videos up my sleeve, and an album done that I can’t wait to get out there. I’m hoping to tour as hard as possible on it.

 Virtue and Vice Studios has seen some pretty impressive bands pass through its doors. Do you have a favorite band or artist you worked with there?
Any time that I’ve had the extreme luck of working with or having any of the musicians from yMusic in my studio has been amazing. They operate on a very inspiring level of musicianship while maintaining impeccable taste with their playing. Often times when musicians achieve such a high level of technical ability, they want to use all their knowledge and skill all the time but the musicians in yMusic really balance that world beautifully. I’ve also been writing a bunch of songs with Dave Monks from Tokyo Police Club recently, he’s amazing, just totally free and fun to write songs with.

You wrote the score for the film Duke and the Buffalo, which was included in the Tribeca Film Festival. How does one go about writing a soundtrack for a film about bison? Where do you start?
These days, directors and filmmakers will send you what’s called a “temp score”, that’s sort of a guideline or reference music for cues that they want you to imitate or mimic. Composers generally detest this because it doesn’t leave room for much creativity or the ability to put your identity into the music you are making. With Duke and the Buffalo I was pretty inspired by the peaceful nature of the animals in these epic landscapes virtually untouched by man. If you listen to the score you will hear hints of Brian Eno, Nils Frahm and Jon Brion throughout.

You also wrote an EDM score for Circus Electronica. Acrobats seem pretty different from bison. Is it a challenge for you to switch gears between projects?
Conor Oberst once said something great about how a song is just a naked body and the way you produce it is like sending it into a walk in closet and putting on this shirt or that pair of pants. At the end of the day its all harmony, melody, rhythm and lyrics, just open up the faucet, the water will pour out.

How different is the “real world” of music from what you learned while attending Berklee?
No one cares about how many scales you know, how fast you can play augmented arpeggios or what your proficiency ratings are. The only thing that matters is if you make art that says something and connects with people. It’s not about you, squash your ego, be a vessel for something greater that can inspire and change people for the better.

You’ve also done music for clients like Microsoft. Do you have much experience specifically in the advertising industry? Do you find your advertising clients asking you to do things like making a soundalike of a popular song for an ad?
Whenever I’ve done commercial writing, music supervisors will always ask to mimic other songs or do a soundalike but Microsoft actually licensed one of my own songs for a commercial. Its a really personal song that was inspired by something I went though. I had no intention what so ever of molding the music to fit a commercial sound or putting any kind of obviously “licensable” characteristics in it. Funny how that works.

You have experience in orchestral composition, yet much of your work is electronic. Do you see there being major differences between the way the two genres are composed, or are they more similar than people may think?
It’s all the same if you look at music as the four fundamental elements of harmony, melody, rhythm and lyrics.

What’s your favorite place in New York to get pizza?
This might be obvious to people who live in Brooklyn but Roberta’s will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

JAPANESE WALLPAPER EMERGES FROM ITS COCOON
October 27, 2016 9:28 am

When I was 17 years old, I was doing what most other 17 year old teenagers do; playing sports, doing homework, driving a car for fun, I was even playing guitar a lot by most standards. But I was creating nothing like Gab Strum did in his seventeenth year.

He started the electronic pop project Japanese Wallpaper and released his first single “Waves” back in 2014. Even at this early stage in his career, the sounds he created were nearly on the same level as ambient titans Tycho and Boards of Canada. The ethereal, jovial tunes started drawing attention from some pretty well-known folks in the industry such as fellow Australian, Chet Faker. Also in Gab’s seventeenth year, he won Triple J’s Unearthed High competition. Oh, and his track “Breathe In” was also featured on the soundtrack for Zach Braff’’s follow-up to Garden State, Wish I Was Here. Seventeen! I think this goes to show how the state of modern music equipment has altered the music scene. If a high school kid fifty years ago wanted to make music with more than a guitar, he would find it incredibly difficult to do so. The tools to do so weren’t easily available yet. Now we can download software on our laptops and create magic.

Gab did his first tour of Australia back in 2014 with great success. He has since been putting out EP’s with some fantastic remixes in the last couple years. Most recently this year he released the single “Cocoon.” Earlier this year, he released a deluxe edition of his self-titled EP that came out in 2015 with a slew of new remixes. The remix of Between Friends” by Sable is a noteworthy track from the record. The single “Forces” featuring Airling is a smash. I think it’s safe to say that Japanese Wallpaper has a promising future ahead of him. He has a few tour dates left in 2016 if you happen to live in a major Australian city. I imagine he’ll make his leap over to the states soon enough and I for one will be right there in the crowd grooving along to these incredible tunes.

SAY YES! AN ELLIOTT SMITH TRIBUTE
October 25, 2016 9:49 am

It’s been thirteen long years since Elliott Smith took his own life on October 21st,e 2003. He battled demons a majority of his short life and his music brought so many people the harsh reality of that struggle into the words we could tangibly use to forget our own aches for a few moments, or for an entire album. In my opinion he is one of the most underrated geniuses in modern music.

A group of other musicians apparently felt the same way when they decided to get together and create a tribute album for Smith titled Say Yes! as released by American Laundromat Records. It features bands such as Yuck, Waxatachee and artists like J. Mascis and Julien Baker. A wide array of sludgy rock to intensely acoustic indie artists. I think my favorite from the album is the Yuck version of “Bled White, which is also an all time favorite Elliott song of mine.

I’ve personally covered one Smith song during a live performance “The Biggest Lie”. While I enjoyed singing my heart out, Elliott’s songs are a force to be reckoned with. A tantrum of eloquence and equally as dark currents raging inside of a drowning man. It’s nearly impossible to recreate the feelings Smith captured in his music.

Honestly, I was pretty giddy at first and while I wholeheartedly appreciate these artists showing their influence by Smith, it was almost a little hard to hear the songs without Elliott. The fact that 13 years after I find him, he is no longer putting out new material is a heart wrenching realization for me. There just isn’t a way for other artists to recreate something so personal, and the despair he felt daily triggered the wild agony in his songs. These things made them what they are, and it is a travesty to deny that.

However, these songs are a tribute and we can not look into them as if Elliott is there, but more so that he was inspiration to them.

Songs you can find on this album include but are not limited to, “Waltz #2 done by J. Mascis, “Easy way out” done by Wild Sun, and “Division Day done by Lou Barlow. Yuck’s upbeat version of “Bled White” got me pretty pumped up for the album as the first song I heard with its punchy drums and rock version of a song always adored. In J. Mascis’ version of Waltz #2, he seemingly chose specific parts of the song to use, and it’s very eerily pasted together with slow vocals and droning guitar and drums, at first I wasn’t even sure it was the same song.

We may have lost a very valuable and pivotal force in indie, acoustic and rock and roll music thirteen years ago, but his music transcends time and is not fleeting by any means of the word. Elliott had an unwavering ability to create classic music that would punch you in the gut every time you listen. There is no simplicity, paper thin vocals, shuttering harmonies, both clean and distorted guitar riffs in all the right places, so much Beatles influence you’ll be humming “The Two of Us” or “Helter Skelter” without even knowing why after checking out Figure 8 or From a Basement on a Hill.

Take a listen to this new tribute album, and if you haven’t yet listen to Elliott’s albums front to back in memory of 13 years without him in the physical realm, go and do that too. He’s always here in the musical realm, hats off to you Elliott Smith.

 

KEEPING THE MAGIK*MAGIK ALIVE
October 24, 2016 9:00 am

Minna Choi is one-of-a-kind. In addition to leading her own Magik*Magik Orchestra (who have performed as the backing orchestra for Death Cab for Cutie and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood), she is the choir director for City Church San Francisco, AND has just released a solo album as Magik*Magik with her own original orchestral work.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS caught up with Minna as she prepares to tour, and had a nice chat about the new album, traveling with an orchestra, and the terrifying state of the San Francisco housing market.

Does it make you more nervous to be out there on your own, versus backing another musician?
It’s a completely different level of fear and vulnerability playing your own songs than it is being a hired gun for someone else’s material. I didn’t anticipate it was going to be such a steep emotional learning curve. Magik*Magik Orchestra recently played at Outside Lands with me conducting in front of 40,000 people, backing up the band Third Eye Blind and I wasn’t nervous at all. But a month ago I played a little private show of my own songs in front of maybe 60 people at a club and my foot was uncontrollably shaking trying to press the piano sustain pedal. The nerves were on high alert. It’s amazing the difference.

How much input did you have in the creation of the video for “Weep”? 
My main input to Nathan (the director) was that it had to feature the orchestra, and that it had to be a live performance. I was adamant that the first video I put out as a solo artist pay homage to the orchestra because that experience directly led me here. So I told Nathan, it needs to have the orchestra, I need to be conducting and I’d like my friend Coco dancing in it. That’s all the prompt I gave him, and then he took that and came back with the story idea.

What do you see for the future of orchestral music in the mainstream?
I’ve always described an orchestra as a piano made out of people. If people can start thinking of the orchestra as simply another instrument, like a piano, that is capable of playing any type of music at any level, that will be healthy for the future of orchestral music. There are 4 year olds plinking away at pianos in homes everywhere, it’s “allowed” to be bad at piano and to be a beginner, learning as you go. That mechanism currently doesn’t exist in the orchestra world. If a bunch of really smart people could figure out how to change the mechanics of how orchestras are funded and programmed so that the experience of making music in orchestral formation was more approachable and everyday, it would be a good thing.

Are there any classical artists you feel deserve more attention?
I’m very biased and have a bit of tunnel vision on this topic to Bay Area artists. All of my closest friends are musicians and they are all in outstanding classical chamber groups. My favorite group is Delphi Trio, a piano trio based here. Their violinist is Magik*Magik Orchestra’s concertmaster and their cellist is our principle cellist. Their pianist is Jeff LaDeur, who may be the most intuitively advanced musician I know. He’s like the Gandalf of music or something. A local composer I’m also crazy about is Luciano Chessa. He was a teacher of mine at the conservatory and his work is joyful, sorrowful, human, funny all at once. Very theatrical. Also, my former boss Carla Kiihlstedt, the violinist, singer and composer is my musical hero. I used to be her personal assistant when she lived in the Bay Area. She is the best violinist I’ve ever heard. She writes music with her husband Matthias Bossi and have a subscription service named Rabbit Rabbit Radio. I highly encourage checking it out.

Do you still work with that church band during the day? How much freedom do you have to experiment with their sound?
I do still work at City Church San Francisco, it is my full time day job but they give me a lot of freedom to work from home when I need to. The church has 3 music directors and I focus mainly on the choir. The church had no choir when I started working there 6 years ago but they were always interested in starting one so I tried a few approaches and finally settled upon a more gospel choir type approach. The choir is always accompanying the band, we never sing like Bach or something. Lots of ooos and ahs and backup vocal type moves. The band is amazing. They are all jazz session musicians and can play anything. Wil Blades is our B3 player, and Jeff Marrs is our drummer who is also the drummer for Marcus Shelby. It’s like an all-star band. And yes, I have a lot of freedom musically with this job. My boss is Karl Digerness, who has been their main music director for over 10 years. He and I have an incredibly trusting musical relationship. He basically told me when he hired me that he loves how I write and arrange and that I could write whatever I wanted for the services. It’s a dream job.

Classical music is often stereotyped as a genre that appeals mainly to older people. How do you think classical music can be more relevant for a younger crowd?
That’s the million-dollar question facing pretty much every Symphony these days, except maybe the LA Phil, they seem to do a pretty good job with keeping their organization in the black with good ticket sales. I think younger audiences enjoy going to performances by their peers. That’s not 100% true of course, but generally speaking, young performers tend to have young audiences. And older performers tend to have older audiences. If every major symphony in the US started a chamber symphony of musicians with age ranges mirroring the age ranges of the audiences they are hoping to pull, I think that could potentially yield results. Maybe that’s too simplistic of a suggestion, but I feel like the other methods just aren’t really working.

The Bay Area has become notorious for its real estate prices. Have you noticed any major changes in the neighborhood you live in since the tech industry took over?
Yes. Every day someone is leaving. SF is bleeding musicians and working creative types every day. People are either moving to Oakland, to LA, to Portland, Seattle, Austin, NY even. And it’s not just musicians and artists. If I look at the friends I had when I first moved here in 2007, I think maybe like 30% of them are left. Many of these folks actually do work in Tech, but even then the housing prices are so ridiculous that they would rather move elsewhere and have a decent 2 bedroom to start a family in or whatnot. I live in a rent controlled studio that costs $2500/mo and that’s considered a steal for the neighborhood. I was only even able to get my place because my aunt and uncle lived in it before me and they pleaded with the building manager to let me take over their lease without raising the rent to market value, and that was back in 2013. I’m able to pay that and barely eek out a life here because I have a full time job at the church and I also do tons of freelance gigs on the side for the orchestra. If either one of those things went away, I’d have to move tomorrow because my yearly income would cut in half.

Are you looking forward to getting back to New York on your upcoming tour? Is there anything you miss about New York from your time at NYU?
I am SOOOOO excited. Scared yes because playing your original songs live just cuts you so deep but I’m proud of the live show and I can’t wait to see my friends. I lived in NY for 8 years from 99-07 and I became who I am there. It shapes you and forces you to stand up tall when you live in NY. I owe a lot of my tenacity to that city and I’m looking forward to returning in this new way. The first thing I will be doing is going to the Bagel Store on Metropolitan off Graham and getting an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese and tomato and an Orange/Tangerine Tropicana from the drink fridge to the left when you walk in. And maybe a bag of jalapeno kettle chips. That was my go to breakfast for years.

How do you prepare for a tour with so many musicians and instruments?
The live band for this is going to be myself on vocals and keys, James McAlister on drums (Sufjan’s drummer, he played on the record), and 6 piece string section. We are only traveling with 2 of the 6 and then we are going to be contracting local string players in each city. That’s tricky because you basically meet your new players on the day of the show, hand them the music, run the song once and then do the show. But really great string players can sight-read almost any Pop music perfectly. Magik*Magik Orchestra does that all the time for bands traveling through San Francisco so I know how that goes and it’s time to put some faith in players in other cities and enjoy the experience of having the tables turned.

THE BLACK PARADE IS BACK IN A NEW WAY
October 19, 2016 11:23 am

“When I was a young boy, my father took me to the city, to see a marching band…”

This line of lyric is so universally known by the rock world that no one can hear this song and not feel some strong attachment to it. My Chemical Romance‘s immersive album The Black Parade was part epic, part tragedy filled with soaring highs and wallowing lows. Rock Sound magazine is celebrating the 10th anniversary of this legendary album with the story of the creation and life of The Black Parade and an incredible amount of content.

9390352-368-k802450A decade is a long time, in 2006, the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii came out, Casino Royal and Cars debuted, Justin Timberlake was bringing “Sexyback, Shakira’s hips didn’t lie and Daniel Powter was still having his bad days. This was a year of strong movement in pop culture and punk rock was being redefined. My Chemical Romance way making one of the biggest movements because of their raw style of music, fashion and tone in their genre defining The Black Parade.

Rock Sound’s October edition is an essential for any punk, emo, rock or ska fan. There is a beautifully told story of MCR’s creative process of The Black Parade and its life and impact it had on the band. It is filled with a lot of funny small stories and interesting insights on why the band took a break and how they dealt with all of these changes.

However, the part of this edition that seems more interesting and gripping is the cover album that accompanies the issue. Rock Sound gathered a grand collection of artists deep in the indie rock world to cover each song on The Black Parade giving each track new life while saluting them with praise and honor at the same time. From Escape the Fate‘s similar and powerful rendition of “Dead!” to Twenty One Pilot‘s heart breaking performance of Cancer and Against the Current‘s different take on Teenagers, this album brings new life to The Black Parade while reminding you how truly amazing this album was and still is.

I would recommend anyone and everyone who is a fan of MCR, The Black Parade, punk, rock, indie, ska, heavy metal or good music in general to pick up this epic issue of Rock Sound with the additional tribute album. MCR is also celebrating this 10th anniversary with a special deluxe edition that any fan NEEDS to get, you can’t miss this. The Black Parade is amazing in both forms and may their music and memory carry on.

TWIN ATLANTIC TAKES EUROPE
October 17, 2016 9:00 am

Twin Atlantic seem to be celebrating the release of their album GLA by tearing Europe to shreds. After a summer spent playing festivals including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, and T in the Park, the band is taking the show on the road with dates in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and a whole ton of other places.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS exchanged some transatlantic emails with drummer Craig Kneale and got the scoop on the creation of GLA, and the finer points of living in Glasgow.

I was in Glasgow over the summer, and did a number of things that are probably considered “touristy”. What do you think visitors to Glasgow generally miss?
Glasgow has a thriving arts scene, and I suppose you would miss that if you didn’t dig a little deeper below the surface. The four compass points of the city (East/West/South/North) are all so different from each other too – you won’t get the full picture unless you experience a little bit of each of them.

King Tut’s is a pretty well-known music venue in Glasgow. What others do you like for seeing live music?
Well, not being biased – but Barrowlands is one of the greatest venues in the world. I’ve never seen a bad show there – there’s something in that room that creates an electric atmosphere between the performer and the crowd that’s really special.

You’ve performed at a number of music festivals, as well as some smaller venues. Do you prefer one over the other?
I think you can’t really appreciate one without the other. I suppose that our own shows are always more special to us – but it’s great getting to spend the summer playing festivals when the pressure is off a little. When it’s your own show and people have paid to see you, there’s more at stake as you don’t want to let people down.

Are there any bands/musicians in Glasgow you feel deserve more attention?
I’m a little out of the loop on music in Glasgow at the moment, but I really like Holy Esque. I think they’re already on their way up, but even the biggest bands in the world could do with more attention I guess.

GLA, your new album, has a much heavier sound than your previous releases. Did something make you want to create a less pop-sounding album?
It kind of naturally happened when the album was being written. Perhaps subconsciously the songs turn out heavier as there were moments on the last album where we weren’t all fully attached to the songs. GLA seemed to be much easier to record than the previous album – so perhaps it’s a more natural sound for us.

What music are you listening to currently?
I’m currently listening to a lot of Parquet Courts + Mac DeMarco. And I got the new Local Natives album this week which I really like.

You recorded GLA in Los Angeles, which is obviously very different from Glasgow. Is there anything you miss from your time there that you can’t do at home?
Well, the sun is out constantly so you don’t have to plan to do things dependent on weather like you do in Glasgow. Being able to drive to a beach and look at the ocean is something I don’t think I would get bored of either.

What advice would you give a band who are just entering the music business?
Just throw everything at it and always go with your instinct.

Is there anything you were surprised by when Twin Atlantic was first starting out?
Hmmm, not really. Everything at the start of this band was a learning curve for the 4 of us so we kind of tackled everything together. We started right at the very bottom so we were kind of prepared for most steps by the time we got to them.

Are you planning any shows in New York?
I really hope so. It’s one of our favorite cities, and one we’d love to come to more. I think there are plans to get over early next year, so hopefully it all works out.