seattle

BRIANA MARELA: SWEET ELECTRO LULLABIES
August 15, 2016 9:43 am

 

Briana Marela makes moody, ethereal music. Layered vocals pierce through rhythmic ambiance, washy and compressed, like an ice queen in a steel canyon. Marela self-released two albums before getting signed by Jagjaguwar records, who sent her to Reykjavik, Iceland to work with Sigur Rós producer Alex Somers. The result is All Around Us, a collection of emotionally charged, heavily processed, ambient electro-crooning that put me right to sleep upon my first listen.

And of course I mean that in the best possible way. I was quite content to doze off to her dulcet love songs, whisked away by the aforementioned ice queen to slumber in peace atop her steely canyon of sound. I picture myself melting in a vat of butter, only the butter is covered in ice crystals and I’m made entirely of liquid nitrogen, which is poisonous when consumed so don’t even think about it. Excellent music to nap to, or to study to or to do anything mindless that can be accompanied by ambient music. Not great for long car rides or roller coasters or to be playing from an ice cream truck. But hey, that’s just me.

Briana Marela continues to live in Seattle and perform throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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

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

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

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AUSTIN, TX

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

BOSTON, MA

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

MINNEAPOLIS, MN

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

ATLANTA, GA

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

washington-dc-skyline-photoWASHINGTON, DC

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

 

RALEIGH DURHAM, NC

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

SAN FRANCISCO, CA

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

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

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

NEW YORK, NY

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

BALTIMORE, MARYLANDseason 2 silicon valley

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

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

DEEP SEA DIVER SHARES THEIR SECRETS
April 12, 2016 1:13 pm

Though the band Deep Sea Diver has only been around for a few years, writer and multi-instrumentalist Jessica Dobson has been on the scene for much longer. Signed to Atlantic Records at 19, Dobson recorded two albums that were ultimately shelved before moving on to collaborating with bands including The Shins, Beck, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Older and wiser, Dobson then went on to form Deep Sea Diver, with this past February seeing the release of their second LP, Secrets.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS had the privilege of speaking with Dobson to get her take on the new album, touring, and life as a seasoned musician.

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Photo by Brian S. Snider

Congratulations on your album release! Are there any new songs that you’re especially fond of playing live?

JD: Thank you! I really love playing “Wide Awake,” “Notice Me” and “Body on the Tracks” because I get to really step out on guitar on those ones and I think the fans really love that. There a lot of sweet guitar solos and pedals to play around with. It makes it even more exciting for me to do something different every night, especially with “Wide Awake.”

When you tour, how do you prepare to hit the road? What do you do to pass the time while traveling?

We basically start rehearsing about a month ahead and try to get the songs so deeply ingrained in our muscle memory so that by the time we hit the road, we feel totally free playing the songs. Its all about energy and vibe for us at shows, so we want to be emotionally as present as possible, not worried about whether or not we are ready to play the songs. In the van, its easy to tune out and go on your phone for hours on end, I try to read a few books at a time, and keep a journal about whatever I’m experiencing on the road and at shows.

Do you have any places you look forward to visiting when you tour?

New York is always a highlight for us. There’s a distinct energy in the city and we always see it as an adventure when we get to bounce around the different boroughs and eat the best food and stay out way too late.

Seattle might still be best known as the birthplace of the grunge movement. Has any of that culture remained popular in Seattle? Has it come back since the resurgence in popularity of 90s music?

Thankfully grunge has not made another comeback yet, but I think that music business people in Seattle wish that there was another resurgence of a scene that popular (insert $ signs). The music scene in Seattle is thankfully much more broad now and hopefully it will continue on that trajectory.

You’ve been a part of the music industry for about 10 years. What advice can you give to someone looking to break into the field? What do you think the biggest misconception about the industry is?

Music business is basically 99% smoke and mirrors and if you elevate the business end above the creative end, you will most likely be sorely disappointed. There is absolutely zero stability in the music industry and sometimes good art gets noticed, sometimes it doesn’t. You have to do everything you can to keep creating from an honest place and make the best art you possibly can. That is much more fulfilling than trying to pander to music business people and to fleeting musical trends.

What’s it like working with your spouse? Is it difficult to leave the workday behind once you get home?

Yeah its almost impossible to stop our minds from thinking about new songs, record label plans (we started a record label, High Beam Records) and what the next step is for Deep Sea Diver. We fight about silly things like who’s chorus ideas are better, but when we aren’t being immature, it’s the most fun to create with the person you love most.

Are you working on anything with The Shins at the moment?

Nope! I had to give Deep Sea Diver my full attention in order to get this new record out and to promote it as much as possible. I believe they are working on some new songs and I can’t wait to hear what comes of it!

You’ve also worked with Beck. Do you feel more pressure to perform well when you’re working on your own projects, or other people’s?

Performing live is one of my favorite aspects about being a musician and I treat any project or show like its the last thing I’ll ever do. I love the kind of healthy “pressure” that comes with performing, and it causes me to keep pushing my limits live. With that said, if a show of Deep Sea Diver’s gets a bad review or goes poorly, yeah, it stings a bit more because we wrote these songs and they are much more personal to us.

Is there anything you’d like your fans to know before listening to your new album?

If you can tell me who I’m singing about in the song “Secrets” I’ll somehow find a million dollars to give you.

GOODBYE HEART: RESTLESS NIGHTS
March 2, 2016 10:52 pm

Seattle is home to the space needle, kick ass scenery, hipsters (c’mon we all know it’s true) and the up-and-coming dream pop duo Goodbye Heart. Friends Sam Ford and Nila K Leigh started their musical journey in New York City and decided to mix their musical tastes together. Using electronic percussion, synthy upbeats and velvety vocals they created their E.P Restless Nights in 2014.

Sam and Nila have said that their influences range from “The Cure to Johnny Jewel to Nas” and they describe themselves as, “Drawing inspiration from lush, textural movie soundtracks and their native New York City hip-hop roots.” Their EP tracks include “Just Kids,” “Don’t Slow Down,” “Seconal,” “Wish” and “How to Make Friends in a New Town.” Each track will simultaneously trap you in a surreal indie film that you stumbled upon and force a jam sesh in your car. To hear Goodbye Heart’s E.P check them out on sound cloud here.

KAPTAN: GLITTER, NOT QUITE GOLD
January 6, 2016 3:44 pm

When Andres Gaos moved from Seattle to Nashville, he brought his “Shimmery Indie Pop” with him. If you want proof, just listen to Kaptan’s five song EP, Sprinter.

If there is one thing Kaptan has done perfectly, it’s their genre declaration. The EP really shimmers all the way through. While it is certainly not dull, it also doesn’t really shine.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Kaptan is at its best when it’s shimmery sound lands somewhere in between. Take the first track, “Way Out.” It starts with a bouncy guitar riff and tacky percussion. Enter the bright synths. What could lead into an overdone, The 1975-esque (you can see how I feel about their new stuff here…) verse, instead offers a pleasant male-female vocal duo. This keeps the song from getting overblown—the energy of the band keeps us bouncing forward, while the vocals let us lay back in the grass on a sunny day.

This juxtaposition is best exemplified on the third song, “Everything.” Again, the energy and brightness of the synths and the guitars keep the song going in a positive direction. When Gaos comes in to the chorus singing calmly “Everything is all right,” you believe him. How could everything not be all right when this music is so pleasant and he is obviously sure that that it will be?

Unfortunately, two of the other three songs sound pretty much just like those two I mentioned, except they are not as successful. For Kaptan’s formula to work, each ingredient needs to be perfectly measured. “Anywhere We Go” comes in a bit over-spiced, and “Let Go” a bit bland. The EP ends on an outlier, “Closer Now.” The first time I heard it I assumed Spotify had started playing a remix of one of their songs. The half-time electro R&B jam feels like it’s out of Kaptan’s wheelhouse. Like trying to use the ingredients of one recipe to make a completely different dish.

Sprinter by Kaptan shows some serious promise. Gaos certainly has an ear for catchy pop melodies. The trick will be figuring out how to make Kaptan’s songs stand apart without getting repetitive.

SISTERS Released A New Video, And It’s A Great Conversation
October 14, 2015 2:51 pm

Sisters just released their brand new video like hours ago! Watch below! It premiered last night at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festivaland it completely opened up a new kind of conversation. The song “Queer Life” (which they wrote two days before Marriage equality was legalized across America),  is a supportive and fun portrayal on the family dynamic that pertains to coming out to those who still think it’s just a stage. The video ends with the wildest dance party explosion, and who doesn’t like dancing?  It is a wonderful support of a real issue in America and it is a reoccurring theme in their music and lives as far as I can tell.  We love this Video, so check it out!

I’m not going to lie, I usually don’t expect much sound from any two piece band.  Sisters, an indie pop duo from Seattle far surpassed my expectations in that respect.  They’re an explosion of sound in league with bands like MGMT and Portugal. The Man.  Both Emily Westman and Andrew Vait seem to be champions at multitasking, as you watch Emily conquering with tight drumming technique and singing harmonies, while Andrew plays keyboards and offers up the electric effects of his genius.  This all sewn together through their perfect harmonies intertwining like the arms of long lost sisters.  They have a sense of quirkiness about them as well that reminds me of the band of Montreal, vocally.

The band who moved separately to Seattle after playing various projects around the area finally got together in 2014 forming Sisters officially.  They met at University of Miami’s Frost School of Music initially and the rest is history according to their band bio on their website.  Since then, they have played at Sasquatch! and Bumbershoot music festivals along with many others. Give them a listen and check out their enormous sound and vocal harmonies bleed together seamlessly here!

La Luz, A Weirdo Shrine
September 17, 2015 11:47 am

Seattle based band La Luz just released their second full length album Weirdo Shrine and it is bangin! The psychedelic garage surf rock quartet La Luz teamed up with producer/engineer Ty Segall and released the album with 11 songs at a mere 31 minutes. I wouldn’t have been happy with any length, I would just want to hear more and more from these girls. From start to finish, the timing and layout of the songs really paint a beautiful visualization for the imagination. There’s a melancholy feeling to the lyrics, an overall cloud of sadness that meets a blissfulness of love and death with the hypnotizing organ and dreamy guitar solos. At some points the lyrics get drowned out by the reverb to where you can hardly tell what the hell they are singing about. They transition into instrumental elements that work perfectly for their surf rock tune. Their talent together with the guitar, bass, organ and bitchin’ drum beats all fit together so perfectly with their harmonizing and overall creation of the band. Sounds trippy right? That’s because they are.  The album was released in August with their label Hardly Art and selling exclusively as a cassette with Burger Records for just $6!

Cooling Off With Seapony
July 30, 2015 11:24 am

Have you had a long day? Are you unbearably hot this summer? Sit back and relax with Seapony, Seattle’s dreamy, indie-pop threesome. This is a big week for them, as not only do they finish their Summer 2015 tour back home in Seattle this weekend, but they release their third album A Vision on Friday. Check out the second single “Let Go”:

With an old school, almost surf-rock feel, Seapony sounds like a laid back, American version of The Smiths. Tennis, Cults, and other washy, female-vocal driven bands also come to mind. Seapony excels at performing their up-tempo songs in such a serene way, reflecting a sense of stability despite chaotic surroundings. “Whatever the world throws at me today,” I think, listening to Seapony, “I’ll handle it coolly and easily.”

Seapony2

Seapony is singer/guitarist Jen Weidi, guitarist Danny Rowland, and bassist Ian Brewer. Weidi and Rowland moved to Seattle from Ohio in 2010, taking their Midwestern charm to the tranquil, easygoing Pacific Northwest–and we’re glad they did! Although they are presently wrapping up their summer tour, I’m sure they will be back soon after A Vision is released. As the summer heat sucks the life out of you, cool off with Seapony’s crisp, refreshing new album.

LEGS: MUSIC FOR THE BODY
June 11, 2015 2:46 pm

As one of Brooklyn’s hottest bands, Legs has a bright future full of riveting music and a compelling live personality. I sat down with Legs’ singer Tito Ramsey, guitarist Charles Larson, keyboardist Jack Ramsey, and drummer Juan Miguel before one of their Brooklyn shows to try to uncover the secret to their success.

Alright, Legs. Tito, Charles, Jack, Juan… Isn’t there a fifth?

It’s five of us, yeah. My brother [Herman Marin] lives in Lima, so we’re coordinating the project long distance.

That’s quite a distance to cover…

Yeah, but we started the project with him being in New York, and since we’re brothers, these two guys [Tito and Jack] are brothers, Charlie is a brother at heart, so we wanted to keep it in the family.

Now you guys are from Seattle, right? Two of you are at least.

Outside of Seattle: a small town like an hour outside where we [Tito, Jack, Charlie] all grew up.

Then why Brooklyn? Why here?

Tito: Charlie came first out of the three of us.

Charles: No, Jack did.

Tito: Oh yeah, Jack came for music school.

Jack: Yeah, I came out here about nine years ago to go to the New School jazz program. I did that, then I just stayed out here after to try to play some music in the city. Tito moved out here and we all kinda met. Him and Juan met by happenstance…

Juan: Yeah it was some kind of Fourth of July party that both of us were kind of forced to go to, and we had a real good conversation and we realized that we both have brothers in the city and we both wanted to play music and we were on the same page.

Tito: Yeah I came for music, my wife came for art, Charlie, you came for…

Charles: Music. I was playing music back home in Seattle, but… I was bored.

Yeah and you guys had the same musical ideas…

Yeah it was a good vibe, for sure. And just a kind of camaraderie. I had spent a long time in Seattle trying to bring various music projects together. That worked out, and then for whatever reason didn’t continue. But right off the bat this kind of just came together.

legs

How would you summarize Legs in one sentence?

Tito: I would say “interesting dance music.”

Charles: “Music for the body.”

Jack: I would just quote our manifesto: “Music for the body, music that makes you feel something.”

Tito: This is more than one sentence, but I mean we make music that we think will be fun to dance to, that kind of fits like an “indie dance” because we’re… it’s not straight ahead funk. We’re not pulling from the straight-ahead rhythms necessarily, but pulling from all of our interests. Jack studied jazz, Juan has varied, wide interests. When we first started hanging out, he had a huge set up of samplers and loop pedals and sound-making devices, so we incorporated that stuff. And Charlie has just played in a lot of bands, rock bands. He’s a songwriter, has interest in song forms…

Jack: One of the things that speaks to me about the music that we’re doing is that it is music to dance to and to feel good to and bring people together, but because it draws from these different influences, it feels different to me than just house music, or party music. It’s an outlet for other things, and we use language from other genres and make it something that means more as an expression than just house beats, which is a tricky line to walk. Especially writing little sketches of ideas on Garageband, everything I write turns into a house song, and you’re like “dammit, not that again!”

Juan: Not that there’s anything wrong with that music.

Tito: No, no, I actually really enjoy that music.

It’s just not what Legs is about.

Tito: Right.

Ian: Cool, so it’s dance music… which of you guys is the best dancer?

Tito: Probably me, probably. I don’t see these guys dance a whole lot. Juan has to be seated at the drums.

Charles: I don’t dance? [laughter]

Tito: Charlie moves…

But you [Tito] have to move to engage everybody.

Tito: Yeah it’s definitely part of the show, I think; moving because I’m able to. I don’t have a guitar strapped around me. Jack has two keyboards. I make a point to turn my keyboard so that I’m open to the audience.

Jack: I’m just waiting for the right moment. It’s like in a kung fu movie, you see the guy who’s not moving a whole lot, not fighting, but you wait ’til the end of the movie, he pulls out the best move out of everybody.

Charles: I’m still waiting on that…

Tito: Yeah well it’s not the end of the movie yet, is it?

That’s awesome. So you guys just released a new album; how is it different from your old stuff?

Juan: I think it was kind of an evolution off an EP that we put out in 2013 that was essentially a live EP. We were just going to the studio with the idea to make some demos, but they turned out nice enough that we decided to put them out as an EP. So it’s an evolution—there’s a little more production going into the record—but we’re still very much a band in development. We’re working on tweaks in the studio. We feel very comfortable playing live, so we try to keep it as live as possible without getting too crazy for the computer.

Charles: I think there’s more maturity in our songwriting. The give and the take of playing with one another, and that whole process.

So it’s kind of an organic development over time, that’s cool. I loved your music videos; where do you come up with ideas for that?

Tito: Juan is the major videographer force in the group, being that he produces videos. So “Jungle” came based on a sketch that he made. I work in a barbershop, and it’s a beautiful space, so that was a main trigger for Juan; he was like “if we could do something in there, that would make a great space.” And we have a lot of really great friends in film. Rafael Salazar…

Juan: …Javier Andrade. He did the “High Time” video for us a long time ago. So yeah, we pitch some ideas, we love collaborating with people—friends—when they’re in town. So whenever we can we go for it.

Jack: Yeah I think that’s another really cool thing about this project is that it’s allowed us to collaborate with some really talented people and kind of bring more people into the project, into the whole thing; it’s fun with such talented people.

Awesome. You guys have toured all over the world, including South American and North America; which is your favorite city to play in?

Juan: Seattle was a lot of fun for me. I don’t know though, I think we’ve experienced opposite things, because when we went to play in Seattle I was blown away, and I felt really loved by the Seattle crew.

Jack: It was kind of a homecoming for us. We hadn’t shown the band there yet.

Juan: And then we did the opposite; when we went to record the album in Quito, we went to play a show there and that was very special for me, but I think it was probably a different dimension for you guys because we were playing in a different country, and the idea of that in itself is weird.

Tito: The show we played there… When we went to Ecuador it was like a house party on a rooftop, and just the vibe of the people that were there… not like here. People were amped just to be involved. The party went until like 5 in the morning. It was really cool.

Your guys’ music was featured in the movie “Obvious Child.” How did you pull that off, and how did you feel about how they used your music? Did you see the movie?

Tito: Yeah of course, it was amazing. Juan was involved…

Juan: I was involved; I did the titles and the key art for the festival run, so before it was bought. Through that project for me as a designer I got to know Gillian and Elizabeth, the director and producer, and I think around the same time we were premiering our EP, and I was sharing it—more in terms of “Hey this is my band, just wanted to share the music”—without even thinking that Gillian was going to pick it for the movie. Through that process I had seen different cuts of the movie and was sort of a big fan, so when that came to be it was really awesome.

Yeah, and the song is called “So Obvious,” so it kind of is so obvious that it would be there.

Tito: Yeah, and it’s in one of my favorite scenes of the movie.

So you really like how they used it.

Tito: Yeah. But just to be in there was great.

Juan: It’s sort of like the thing that just happens in New York.

Yeah you meet people and…

Juan: Exactly.

Tito: Yeah, and Gillian supported our Kickstarter; it’s been a really nice connection.

Are you playing mostly in New York, or are you going out?

Tito: We’ll do several shows in New York, but trying not to overdo it. We’ll pick and choose the shows that we think’ll be really fun, because we play at a lot of little venues around town. We’re going to Ecuador next month, doing at least three shows out there so that’s a big summer thing. That’ll be, like, the release of the album in Ecuador, and there’s been a lot of support to make the record from Ecuador; social media support from there has been huge, bigger than here in a way.

Juan: …and even press there, in a way, because it’s different. I remember when we were recording the album down there, there were like two or three national TV stations coming to the studio for a little bit, and that sort of stuff gives you exposure that’s harder to get here. Plus there’s a lot of really good things happening in the music scene in Ecuador. There’s a lot of bands, so we kind of feel like we want to be a part of that.

Yeah and it’s cool that you can sort of permeate both the New York and Ecuadorian markets. And the Seattle market…

Tito: Yeah we want to go out there in the Fall…  what else are we doing boys?

Jack: We’re playing a little festival upstate called the Wassaic Project. We’re playing that in July.

Juan: And then we wanna get back into writing, to get the new record as ready as possible.

The next record?

Jack: Yeah, we’re pretty diligent about keeping new material ready. We need to keep working.

How many songs do you have ready for that?

Juan: We have a lot of ideas.

Tito: It’s hard to tell at this point what’ll be a song. We record all of our rehearsals, so there’s a lot of material on the table already. Everyone’s got their own little demos at home too, so what’s gonna work actually brought in and played out with the group… There’s always lot of material.

Charles: Which is a good thing.

Jack: Twenty slow jams. [laughter]

Tito: To be a little more specific though, I think one of the big goals actually coming up for the group is just to get everyone singing. At this point it’s a lot of just me, but everyone sings, so I would look forward to that coming up, which I think will actually change the game a little bit for our live show.

Yeah you’ll have harmony and stuff on top of each other. I’m sure it’ll sound great, Atypical Sounds is looking forward to it! Thanks a lot guys!

Tito: Thank you!