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THIS MONDO THING
September 26, 2016 9:59 am

At  the Mondo NYC music conference earlier this month, every conversation began the same way: “Sucks about CMJ, doesn’t it?” “Yeah, what do you think of this Mondo thing?”

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To be honest, I went into Mondo disappointed for various reasons; one, because it was not a rebirth of my favorite dance party, and two, because I was very much looking forward to (the currently defunct) CMJ. Though Mondo was created by Bobby Haber and Joanne Abbot Green, the pair sold the conference in 2012. Could Mondo hold a candle to CMJ, my favorite local music conference? And could it ever grow to compete with the behemoth that is SXSW?

ATYPICAL SOUNDS was lucky to grab a few minutes with Austin natives Kelly Barnes and Brian Cole of the band Darkbird (who put on an absolutely incredible Saturday-night show at Pianos), and get their opinion on Mondo vs potential-future-competitor SXSW:

Kelly: My feelings about SXSW from years ago were great, because it was aimed at getting newer artists like ourselves up and running, getting seen by people that can actually take bands to the next level, and now it’s Kanye West performing or Bruce Springsteen. And there’s thousands and thousands of people coming to see that.

It’s just becoming this huge shit show, [which] is probably the best way to put it. And it’s just over-saturated. So it kind of lost its focus. I think if Mondo were to grow into what SXSW was…[SXSW] did have a time, and it peaked, and it was something really great and useful.

Brian: SXSW has turned into a monster that can barely contain itself. It’s having issues keeping itself together because it’s so big now. There’s lots of corporations involved now, like it’s “Lady Gaga on the Doritos stage”, and it’s not really about getting bands exposure, getting them in contact. It’s about the industry and the bands, giving them a place to meet, and that’s what I would like to see Mondo do. And I think they’re starting on the right foot. I went to a couple panels yesterday, and it was inspiring.

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Kelly: The business has changed so much. It’s not like someone sees your show and is like, “Come on, baby. Let’s make you a star!” Everyone’s kind of throwing their hands up in the air like “How does this work?”.

When [music] is something you do to try to make a living, it’s really frustrating – you’ve got the talent, you have all these things you want to do. But how do you do it? How do you get there? How do you get your music in the right hands? How do you get someone to listen to it? And maybe these conferences give you some tools and ideas that maybe you haven’t thought about. And you feel like you’re learning something very valuable. There’s so many question marks about how to do it anymore. It’s frustrating.

Brian: One aspect that I like about Mondo is they’re bringing in new technology, as well. The music industry is changing because of new technologies. Nobody buys CDs anymore. Nobody has the attention span to listen to a full album.

Kelly: Record deals from big labels aren’t worth anything anymore. Now it’s independent labels, or people are DIY-ing everything. But it’s possible that way. Here, you’re learning about how to utilize technology.

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The utilization of technology was an important topic throughout panel discussions at Mondo, which included talks called Why Can’t Music Apps Get Funding? and Digital Entertainment and Content. The honesty of many of the panelists was refreshing and informative. However, it was jarring to watch these presenters, some of whom with 20+ years of experience in the music industry, insinuating they don’t really know what’s going to happen with the music industry since file sharing essentially wiped them out. Then again, no one should have had to pay $20 for a CD in the first place, so they kind of had it coming. And there seems to be a lot of freedom right now to figure out what the “next big thing” in the music industry will be, so that’s at least one positive to come out of the Wild West the industry has become.

Mondo featured 3 days of panel talks, with 5 days of music showcases happening at venues throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. The showcases were not all day and night (as in CMJ), but happened only at night after the panel talks. While conferences like CMJ and SXSW thrive on their ability to offer band exposure from constant showcases throughout, Mondo limited this time by keeping the showcases nightly. Spreading the showcases out between Manhattan and Brooklyn also limited the number of showcases that could be seen in one night, with attendees being forced to choose one borough over another.

Ultimately, for their first year, Mondo made a pretty decent go of things. Having corresponded with the organizers, it’s clear they’re looking to grow and improve, and are doing so through open communication with attendees. Because of their willingness to “give the people what they want”, Mondo could grow into a strong contender in music conferences in the coming years. I’m looking forward to seeing that happen.

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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.

ROZES: THE GIRL BEHIND THE CHAINSMOKERS’ HIT
April 12, 2016 1:31 pm

We sat down with Rozes on a couch studded with roses (unintended) at SXSW to learn more about the girl behind The Chainsmokers‘ mega-hit called…yup “Roses.”

The song rose to #6 on the Billboard charts, is a favorite of Justin Bieb‘s, and has become a radio hit, however for Rozes herself, finding so much success in the electronic scene was completely unexpected…

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So this is your first time at SXSW!

Yes, it’s very exciting. We drove from Philly tailing my brother’s band down and I drove with my drummer and my boyfriend.

Oh cool so you have a pretty musical family?  

Yeah we’re like the Partridge family.[Laughs] Well my parents actually work in the medical industry but my dad also teaches guitar lessons and everybody in my family plays at least two instruments so music has like always been our thing.

How many instruments do you play?

Well I started on piano, then I went to violin, then saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, guitar…

Wow quite the variety.

I know, I was in a jazz band too.

So how did you end up in the electronic scene?

I never planned to go the EDM route. It just kind of fell into my lap. My brothers were hit up by this DJ, Just A Gentand they were writing toplines and were like ‘hey you know we have a sister who writes music.’ So they sent them to me and then I just wrote this song called “Limelight” which went huge in the EDM world. Then The Chainsmokers found it and so literally what happened was they followed me and messaged me on Twitter that they wanted to work me. So I was just kind of like pushed toward that path, it just kind of happened.

Rozes_Polaroid_SXSWEverything happened so fast. 

Yeah it’s kind of like we never expected it because when we wrote it we were just like oh this is a cool jam. We didn’t think anything of it we definitely did not think radio, I didn’t think radio, I mean I would have never thought that that’s what was gonna happen, like I was gonna get signed or anything. It’s crazy.

Are you comfortable playing live?

Yeah I am, I’m so comfortable actually. Well, I’ve also grown up in theatre so it’s kind of been my home you know. I was the theatre geek that always felt most comfortable when I could throw life aside and put on my alter ego and just be.

Do you have any pre-show rituals you do before you go on stage?

A glass of wine and I put on my crown and my lipstick.

What is your writing process like?

I write all the songs, but I have a producer who I’ll send all of my songs over roughly on piano or guitar and be like ‘here this is kind of what I want to be like’ and they help build it up from there. I recorded the EP (Burn Wild) in a studio in Delaware with my brother’s guitarist, he goes by ETRON. Now when I go to LA I’ll have different producers and we’ll have writing sessions and record in their studios.

What has the music you’ve been writing lately been about?

I would say they’re kind of about how life is changing for me at the moment and it’s like trying to figure out who is real and who is not because I have a lot of people coming out of the woodwork pretending to be my best friend and wanting to catch up and stuff and it’s me trying to file through who’s actually being genuine or not. It’s also about me coping with the fact that people are going to come out just because I have a hit on the radio not because they want to be friends with me and it’s kind of a rough realization but it’s something that has obviously happened.

The personal experience of a sudden rise to fame has sort of become cliche but I still always find myself thinking about what it must be like for people like, say, Justin Bieber. What has it been like for you?

I’ve actually thought about that because I met Bieber when he came to my show with The Chainsmokers at the Shrine Theatre in LA. He’s such a super nice kid and I just wonder if sometimes he feels like are these people just my friends because I’m Justin Bieber, is anyone a real friend? Nobody is prepared for that life. He’s a kid in his twenties and he’s in the public eye all the time, he’s grown up in it. If people had followed me growing up they would definitely be saying “this girl is crazy.” Britney Spears went through it, Lindsay Lohan went through it. I think it’s good that it’s just happening now for me because I got to see life before it all and so I can stay level headed and I’ve got my people that I trust.

That’s so awesome he came to your show I heard he’s a huge fan of the song “Roses!” Has it opened up a lot of other crazy opportunities for you?

Yeah. It’s definitely like having a resume. Like people see your credentials and they are like ‘oh yeah I’ll write with her’ you know. It kind of sucks that it’s that way because people who don’t have that on their resume its just like ‘oh why should I write with that person’ but they could be an amazing writer. You just have to somehow get lucky and get your foot in the door. It’s not really like having a lot of connections, like a lot of people think it is, but mostly you have to make the way yourself.

So do you think you’re going to stay in the EDM route?

No. I definitely plan to get out of the EDM route. It’s just not really my scene. I keep ending up getting featured on tracks because in my free time I’ll just write to music and it’s just kind of how it goes. I think if I were to do another EDM feature it would have to be something different that allows me to keep growing with it.

Have you been writing since a very young age?

Yeah, I think I wrote my first real song in eighth grade.

Awe, do you remember it? What was it about? 

Oh yeah, I remember it. It was like I had been dating this guy, and you know how middle school relationships are you think you’re so in love like “we’re gonna get married!” But it was actually just a horrible relationship and I couldn’t figure out how to get out of it because I had never had a breakup before. So I just wrote a song called “I’ve Come A Long Way” all about realizing how he’s not good for me.

So that was your first real song. Do you find that you get inspired or tend to write about things you are going through?

Oh yeah totally. I’ll feel something and be like I just need to sit down at the piano. People always ask me “what’s the first thing you’ll do when you get home?” and I’m like honestly I’ll probably just sit down at the piano and write. It’s my hobby and my job, and it’s the best thing ever.

Is it harder to write about other people or even yourself knowing now that so many people are going to hear it and listen to it?

I don’t think so. It’s kind of therapeutic for me. It’s like someone accidentally finding my journal. It’s like being able to tell my secrets in a honest creative way and not being judged for it.

What’s next for Rozes?

I think I just want people to be prepared for something different and I don’t want them to expect anything of me, but I also want them to be ready for something that they’ll love, you know. Because what I’m coming out with is so honest and I always say I’m going to always write what’s true.  Whether it’s about somebody else and so hard core true they have to know it’s about them or whether it’s about myself. There’s this new song I wrote called “Under the Grave” that’s actually about myself. So it’s like I’m not even written off you know, I’ll write about myself good or bad too.

Rozes released a new EP Burn Wild in February and is currently working on finalizing her next release.  

GET STUCK WITH THE FIELD
April 4, 2016 2:59 pm

How many artists out there can claim to have the best reviewed album of 2007?

And now, how many artists can claim to have accomplished that feat on their debut album?

Not very many. Especially when their chosen genre is ambient music.

Axel Willner, alias The Field, is the acclaimed Swedish producer who has come to embody a diversity of aesthetics, splashing energy and mood together in entirely unexpected ways.

As a young man, he attended a formal music academy but never lost his love for punk and classic pop. These influences would later merge and become the template for The Field.

And if there is any one great strength of the music itself, it is its synergistic power, its blending of multiple forms into a dynamic unity.

I mean, if you were to place ambient music on one end of a spectrum, it’s very likely you would drop punk or pop music somewhere close to the very far end of that spectrum.

The genres are just…different.

Yet The Field, employing samples, synths, and a whole lot of creativity, has managed to simultaneously draw energy from one end of the spectrum and insert it in the middle of a beautiful, minimalist soundscape.

Clever, right?

That ear for a catchy tune, so much an essential quality of a good pop songwriter, is exactly what distinguishes The Field from the rest of the ambient crowd. Like all good ambient music, it assists in heightening your experience of the moment; it takes what is already inside you and amplifies it, projecting it outwards into the surrounding world.

And that’s all well and good. But a great hook never hurt anyone.

And that’s what The Field delivers. Mood plus Energy plus Listenability: an altogether enjoyable listening experience.

What makes the music interesting is not just that The Field has been consistently bold throughout his career or that he combines genres while simultaneously smashing the boundaries between them.

It’s that he’s really good at it.

And not just good at challenging preconceived notions of what ambient music is (although that is certainly part of the appeal), but also at making enjoyable, gets-stuck-in-your-head-and-stays-there music.

TO ERR IS HUMAN; TO YAK, DIVINE
2:23 pm

Yak is a difficult band to describe faithfully. Their performances, and even conversations with the band, are kind of like watching the big bang happen—a tiny, tense mass of energy that begins to explode, and then grows exponentially. I still have glass in the treads of my shoes from their Wednesday show at Berlin NYC.

Earlier that night, ATYPICAL SOUNDS sat down with Oli Burslem (vocals/guitar), Leo Kurunis (bass), and Elliot Rawson (drums) to talk sense and nonsense.

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Photo by Sasha Maese

You played last night at Saint Vitus, the metal bar.

OB: It was greeeat.

LK: I liked it. It was a bit of a scuzzy rock venue.

Is this your first time in New York?

ER: We came over last year, we did CMJ. We did Mercury Lounge and Elvis Guesthouse. Elvis Guesthouse was cool, it felt like we were in a sauna.

You just came from SXSW, as well. How many shows did you do?

ER: Six, I think. Six in two days?

OB: I would say “half a baker’s dozen”.

Six? Seven? Six-and-a-half?

OB: You know what? Six-and-a-half, that’s good, because one of them wasn’t at a venue. Cause we did one on a balcony.

LK: Or, we did one song on one stage and then moved our gear to another stage and did a set. So I think it’s definitely half a gig on that one.

OB: Lots of people said it was going to be really hard or whatever, but it was such a great, carnal, atmosphere. And we don’t have much gear, keyboard went out the window…

Literally?

OB: Yeah, sure. It was clammy, it was sweaty. It was so good, it was hot. It was saucy.

Also, a concentrated area of people, I’m not a big fan of musicians to be honest with you, or people in the music business, so you think it was going to be a horrible time. But everyone behaved themselves.

Outside of the industry people, who probably don’t want to be there anyway, it’s people who love music.

OB: I don’t dislike them, but it’s a different vibe. If you get a load of industry people, it’s like “Ok, let’s check these guys out,” and you’ve got a lot of chin-stroking. When I started playing music, it was down at a pub on a Monday night. And that’s the kind of music I like playing. It’s just like people and low-grade budget entertainment. But I really enjoyed it, and Austin was great.

Did you see any bands there you liked?

OB: Thee Oh Sees I’ve wanted to check out for a long time. So that was good, and we wanted to go see stuff, but we hit a bar afterwards, and you meet some guys, locals. And we were just having a good time. So we probably could’ve seen Iggy and everyone we wanted to see, but I was talking to a guy, and he said he had a gun, so I was trying to get him to shoot. I said “Can you shoot me?” but he didn’t have the gun.

You just released your video for “Harbour The Feeling” as well. Was it your idea to do a music video?

OB: Everyone was on a hiatus, and I was the only one left in London. And we released some live videos, but we got bored of that. So we sat around at a pub with my mate who shot it, Ben [Crook], who’s a wicked guy, and we were there for like three hours. And we got to the part where we went “Oh, we could drive a car through a desert”. So we got all these things, and we got to the end and it was like, “We shouldn’t do a video”, it’s a waste of money, and we don’t have an idea, and no band members.

And then a few days later, we were like “Bucking yak! That’s hilarious.” And then we built the Yak [sign]. We got up at five in the morning, drove to south London to find the bulbs, and then I couldn’t find the thing, so I went to north London. I spent the whole day driving around, I was like “Wow, this is being in a band. Finding bulbs.” And then we spent a whole day wiring it up with our friend Levi who built all the pedals. And it took a day to do it all. But it was like the best feeling ever. We just plugged in and turned on, and it was like “Ahh.” This is what it feels like to be a functioning human being. Being in a band is like…sometimes it’s great, I’m not complaining, but you’re not directly helping anyone.

You are, though.

OB: You maybe are, it’s just like…

ER: He wants to be a nurse.

OB: I want to be a nurse, yeah. Just something that makes me feel good.

You go to a town, you get pissed, you feel guilty about it, you go to a museum, you relieve the guilt, you go to a bar. You go to the bar, you wake up feeling really bad, you go see the Statue of Liberty, you go to a museum, you feel better. That’s why in Amsterdam, that’s why the Van Gogh museum is always packed, full of like people eating mushrooms.

Is it a lot of tourists?

OB: It’s people with a lot of guilt inside them. They need to relieve it and then get back to the bar.

So art is something you do to relieve guilt?

OB: Yep. And being generous as well. I’m only being facetious. I don’t really believe that.

I’ve read two of you were selling curiosities before you were in the band [Oli gestures to himself and Leo]. Where were you finding that stuff?

[A/N: I realized after this interview that it was actually Oli and original bassist Andy Jones who were the curiosities dealers. So Oli and Leo could’ve been fucking with me.]

OB: That would be giving away trade secrets.

LK: We’re not really allowed to say.

Are you going through the garbage at weird, old mansions?

OB: Anywhere you feel, really.

LK: My mother does it for a living, and she has her own shop. You had your own shop as well, didn’t you?

OB: Not technically.

LK: You didn’t, did you?

ER: You don’t know who’s listening.

OB: Basically, I had loads of jobs, then I was lucky enough to get a van. So I started going to auctions and buying stuff, and then selling it. A glorified van man. But I enjoyed it, I like that.

LK: There’s a good buzz to it.

OB: It’s not even a money thing sometimes. It’s just like, I had a space and every week I’d change it into something else. And I liked that. It’s just like music. If you walk down the street, and you see people walking slightly different, it’s the same with this kind of stuff. You can dress it differently.

We went to a museum yesterday in Philadelphia.

The Mütter Museum?

OB: Yeah, and everyone’s body language was like this [he mimes someone looking guarded, hands folded over his chest]. Cause everyone was so uncomfortable. I was more interested in the people that were alive, to be honest, than the ones who were dead.

If you’re working in antiques, some of that stuff is probably really dirty.

LK: It’s a nice trade, it’s a good trade to be in, and how many people you meet in it as well. There’s some really funny characters, they’re so far out of society, some of them. Lots of funny people with lots of different histories.

OB: There could be a man and his wife, and they could be millionaires, but they’d also be homeless. It’s a big hustle. I like the sales that aren’t on the internet. Like someone would be deceased, and all of their belongings would be at an estate sale. So you’d be looking through loads of books and then you get a book and you go “Ah, hang on, that’s an interesting book to have”, and then I’d go to the auctioneer and ask which furniture the [deceased] guy had. And then I’d buy like books, and books, and books, and everything I was obsessed with if the guy seemed cool. So I’d just buy all of it, and I’d sit until four in the morning, just going through it all. Just going, “Oh wow, he was Jewish, he was a doctor, and he was into industrial furniture.” And in my head I was picturing this guy. I don’t know it sounds mental.

Do you prefer photo albums over other kinds of books?

OB: I’m pretty illiterate, so…well I’m not illiterate, but…I, uh, yeah.

You’re doing four dates with The Last Shadow Puppets in April. Were you freaking out when you got the gig? Are you big Arctic Monkeys fans?

ER: It’s just another gig, really.

OB: [Speaking in a robotic voice] It’s a great gig, and we’re really honored, and pleasured, and in such awe to be able to have the opportunity, and we’re really happy to do that.To be in front of all the people who have gone to see a great band as The Last Shadow Puppets.

Is there a band you dream about being able to tour with?

OB: Well, if it isn’t The Last Shadow Puppets, it would probably be the Arctic Monkeys.

Did you have a falling out with Alex [Turner]?

OB: I actually had a nice night with Alex, and he was a gentleman. He invited us around to his house, and he was a pleasure, he gave me a drink, and we had a good chat. And he’s a talented man. There’s not that many rock stars that can exist anymore, people come and they go, and there’s this level at the top, and he’s managed to secure himself there. And rightly so, I think. His lyrics are good, and he’s got money and he’s doing it and doing the rock star thing. And why not?

And I can’t wait to get out there and play some shows, and I hope we do them proud.

Your first album is coming out in May as well. Is there anything you’d like people to know before they listen to it?

OB: It’s probably the most important album of the last ten years, guitar-music wise, from England. It’s the most important album to come out of the suburbs of Wolverhampton for the last five years.

What other bands are from Wolverhampton?

OB: Slade, Babylon Zoo, Robert Plant, Killing Joke‘s bass player [Paul] Raven. There’s quite a lot. I feel quite proud of being from the Midlands. I mean, I was born in Wolverhampton, and have family from there, but I lived in the suburbs seven miles out. There’s something quite nice about being from there, I’m quite proud of it. But I don’t really belong anywhere, really. Like everyone else.

I’m from the suburbs of New York, but I couldn’t wait to get out. I found it suffocating.

OB: I think it’s just a part of growing up.

ER: When you’re growing up in New York City, you’re just thinking you want to get out of New York City. I’m the same, from New Zealand. Everyone’s like “Oh, New Zealand’s beautiful.” Yeah, fucking beautiful, but look at me. Look at me. Have you seen me play? Look at me. LOOK AT ME.

[Everyone laughs]

Sorry, I’m losing the plot here. [Pause] Imagine if I had no face.

That would be scary. Like that woman that got her face ripped off by a chimp.

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Photo by Sasha Maese

You’re all based in London now, right?

OB: It’s great. It’s great for modeling.

Do you model?

OB: Yeah, I can’t wait to do more. I know Elliot’s really keen on me doing it. You know what, what’s the point? What’s the fucking point?

Of modeling? Of anything?

OB: There’s no romance, we are shit, and it’s all a fucking joke. [He giggles]

You’re doing pretty well.

OB: It’s bullshit, and we won’t be long in this house. I cannot stand being in a band with him [gestures towards Leo] and him [gestures towards Elliot].

How long have you been on the road so far?

OB: Two weeks [they all laugh uproariously]. I just wanna get naked. Not physically. Mentally. You know what? I don’t even know why we are doing this. We’re not getting paid.

I’m not getting paid.

OB: And I don’t love it [they continue to laugh]. Nah, I do. I don’t know. I think I’m just tired.

A friend and I are going to be in London in July. What should we do while we’re there?

OB: Come visit us.

LK: We’re going to interview you.

I’m not that interesting.

LK: You are, Sasha. Everybody’s interesting. Everyone’s got something to say.

Actually, after this, I want to go talk to that other Sasha I met earlier. I don’t meet other Sashas too often.

ER: He’s a nice guy. I’ve known him from New Zealand for 15 years.

He’s from New Zealand too?

ER: Yeah, he’s a good dude.

Did you hear Flight of the Conchords are coming here? They’re doing two dates. The first one sold out as soon as the tickets went on sale.

ER: Americans love Flight of the Conchords. It was always on American TV, wasn’t it?

It was.

ER: They were a proper band, like a comedy band, for years before their TV show.

And Bret was in that ukulele orchestra, as well.

ER: They’re both really good musicians. They really cashed in on the TV thing.

Do you guys have any songs you look forward to performing the most?

OB: The idea of the set is pretty loose, so we kind of do a different version of a song every night. I look forward to playing them all, and sometimes we’ll do something we haven’t done before, and that’s the bits where it really gets me excited about wanting to do music.

LK: Making it changeable.

OB: That’s probably the reason why we do it.

You must need to work pretty closely to improvise like that.

OB: It’s quite a boring genre, rock and roll is not complicated. No one can really explain it, because it’s so simple.

What is your average number of chords used per song?

OB: More than three. I like it simple, but there’s a thing about guitar, bass, drums, and we’ve been on all the records. Disregarded all of them, disregarded the drum kit on the recording, just played the shells, disregarded the bass in one song and just did feedback, disregarded the guitar and just hit it. It’s about energy, I think. All these things we can flip so it’ll be a new song.

Does that go along with your feeling that art produces relief?

OB: I don’t think our band has anything to do with art. I think music is quite low-grade, it’s like beans.

You’d be amazed at what passes for art.

OB: I know, but when bands get into that territory, it makes me feel…I like the bands that are like, “Let’s get the denim on. Let’s get out there and play some gigs.” And it’s just entertainment. People go to the cinema, the casino, the pub, or they could see a band. And that’s the level we’re working at. I don’t think there will ever be a band again that will work like the Beatles, changing society. It’s like a carwash, cleans your car; a band should make you feel excited and on edge.

When you first got into playing music, was there a musician or band you really wanted to be like?

OB: Start at the top. And I thought when I was six, I would be like Elvis but bigger. And then I thought the Beatles. And then it just goes down and down, and you end up at the bottom. And then you work yourself back up. “I’m just gonna be a cool band in London.” I’m not even that cool. And then you drop. And you put Fun House by The Stooges on and you go “Well that’s just fucking good, isn’t it? Why don’t I just do that?”. I listened to that when I was 14 and then you go up. I don’t know where I’m at now.

I think it’s also hard to be creative in London because it’s such an expensive city to be in.

OB: I got there when I was 17, so that’s quite a long time ago. And I was doing loads of jobs, but it’s character building and I couldn’t write the songs I did then, now. I was just hungry to be in a band, I didn’t know why. But now, it feels like an expression of that struggle. And we’ve had a lot of help along the way from people in bands. We’ve had a lot of help, and this hasn’t just come about by us being a good band.

Is there anything you do to prepare for life on the road? Is touring hard for you?

ER: It’s fucking easy. Not easy, but we’ve all worked jobs that sucked.

LK: I’m sick of working jobs for people that I hate.

ER: But we’ve all had shit jobs.

LK: We absolutely love this. I don’t care about sleepless nights, we’d still get up and do it and play.

ER: It’s not going to last forever. When the wheels fall off, they fall off, and we’ll go back to doing other jobs.

OB: The only thing we could do with our skillset would be coffin bearers. We could carry stuff, and we’re emotionally discharged. So we could be hauling out corpses.

LK: I bet you can’t name a good, simple, rock and roll band that’s not outstayed their welcome. It’s the careerists that get it wrong. My idea is that we go hit it hard as we can, and then retire and be happy people and not have anything to do with this. I don’t want to be famous or anything like that. And all the bands that we like, I think, have a good period of intensity. And that feeling, I think, bands miss it.

What if you get to the point where you are famous and you try to go somewhere and people are freaking out?

OB: It doesn’t happen. See this is a myth that everyone always talks about. The bands will never be like that again.

The 1975 has kind of turned into that.

OB: Yeah, but he has to look himself in the mirror every day. He’s gonna have depression. I hope he’s got a lot of money, because he’ll need a lot of counseling.

Do you guys have any last words before you perform tonight?

[Their tour manager walks over]

Tour Manager: Hey, sorry, it’s time.

ER: America’s been great, we’re really happy to be here, we want to come back.

LK: We love it, and we love you, and…

OB: It’s been brilliant. It’s…just music.

It’s everything.

SHOOT THE SHIT AT SXSW WITH NIKKI’S WIVES
April 2, 2016 11:00 am

Toronto’s own Nikki’s Wives came to SXSW this year, taking time out of a busy schedule to talk with us about their meteoric rise, Shaq’s security team, and a useless hypothetical question.


So you just released your first EP? How long did that take?

Nate: Very quick, very quick.

Dylan: We met this dude who was a big fan and had some big connections, and he loved what we did live so he asked us “why don’t you do a new record? We’d like to work with you on it.” So we said sure we’ll book this studio, but what we didn’t tell him is we didn’t have any songs for it yet, and we booked it in thirty days. So we took time off work, took ten days of pure writing and we wrote the whole EP. But it’s Canada, it’s minus 40 and my heater dies in my apartment, literally. So we did it with no heat and ten days for the whole record.

Nikki: We were just writing so fast, trying to get out of there.

Dylan: It’s cool to be under the gun sometimes, you know?

Nikki: I think that’s when you get the best stuff. That’s when we’re all the most creative is when there’s that kind of pressure.

Either this is gonna happen at this time or it’s not gonna happen at all.

Dylan: Yeah we like the pressure.

How do you start writing? Like ‘okay, I’m here, day one.’ Who starts?

Nate: I mean that week it was just, like, whatever. However we can get it done we got it done. Like, ‘okay I got this beat, Nikki’s got this melody…’ We just start with whatever pieces we have and then add and add and add.

Dylan: At first we could dig from our wells of whatever we had in the past, but by the end of the week it was like ‘okay, we’re sitting down at the keyboard and hopefully we hit something cool and take it from there.’

Nikki: Some days, inspiration doesn’t come until five o’clock, and then we’re there ’till like 1 am writing.

In the freezing cold midnight Canadian winter.

Dylan: An interesting story from the process was with “Forever,” the title track. We were having nothing creatively, just sitting. And my grandma, when she passed, left me this 1940s car with shot glasses, and when you take off the carafe it plays this really creepy melody.

Nate: Like a music box.

But a novelty toy?

Dylan: We recorded it and then we sat down in ProTools and cut all the notes and made a new chord progression out of it. So I mean, anything to get the song done. We pumped all the sound into a sampler and just made up a melody out of the sounds. It sounded really cool.

sxsw

So you’re Nikki, and… what are these, your husbands?

Nikki: These are my wives.

I guess I should have known.

Nikki: See, they’re dressed in white.

Yeah, I couldn’t help but notice the white outfits.

Nikki: We kinda figured that this band would be the closest thing that any of us were gonna get to a real relationship, or actually being married, so it was just fitting.

Welcome to 2016.

Nikki: It’s 2016, I can have two wives and it’s totally fine.

And they can be guys.

Nikki: Exactly.

So you guys tour a lot?

Nate: Well we’re just starting to pick up our touring, so we’re gonna be out in the US all around in the late spring/early summer. We got some things, we got some early festivals coming up.

This is the beginning of a bigger thing.

Nikki: Yeah we’ve only been together for, like… it was a year a couple weeks ago.

Dylan: We’re kinda focused on one-offs. We did that San Francisco thing, called Leather and Laces, hosted by like all the cast of Entourage and some Victoria’s Secret models.

Nate: Shaq and Kobe were there.

Together?!

Nikki: We were like, ‘holy fuck is that Shaq right there?’ We walked by like ‘wow he’s so tall.’

Dylan: He’s got all these, like, security guards but they look like children you know? All these hard little kids.

They’re huge, but … they could stop you and me but…

Nikki: They’re just meant to stop regular sized people.

If another Shaq went in there… [laughter]

Do you have a favorite American city, you Canadians you?

Nikki: My favorite was San Francisco, I just thought it reminded me a lot of Toronto but if Toronto was warm. So I liked it. What about you guys?

Nate: I gotta go with New York, I think. It’s just where everything happens.

Dylan: I was gonna say the same thing.

Nate: We were gonna say Vegas because we were there a little while ago, but…

Yeah can’t say like “well I really love Las Vegas.” I mean you can love Vegas but you can’t say it’s your favorite, can’t really rep it that hard.

Dylan: Exactly.

Do you have a specific stage persona or personality that you’re going for?

Nikki: I don’t know, we’re just on stage. It’s very much just the three of us, we have a lot of fun, we have a really great energy, so I think it kinda looks like we’re all married on stage.

Nate: We interact a lot, we feed off each other a lot. It’s a lot of communication, honestly.

Dylan: Yeah and actually doesn’t change too much if theres ten people there or if, like in San Francisco, there are three thousand people there.

Nate: We’re playing for ourselves out there.

You played for three thousand people in SF?

Dylan: Yeah it was that party, it was crazy. It was like a thousand bucks a ticket.

And you just started a year ago.

All: Yeah

Fuck you guys! [laughter]

Nikki: Yeah, it was pretty crazy.

Dylan: Fun time, the Victoria’s Secret Super Bowl party. Pretty lucky.

Nikki: I think we were all in awe.

Who’s the best dancer on stage?

Nikki: I would say Nate.

Nate: Yeah, I kinda sit down…

Well if you’re seated, that’s not really…

Dylan: It’s hard to explain.

Nate: I do a little bounce, a little shuffle.

Nikki: Nate’s the dancer.

Nate: Yeah, it’s fun.

What else are you gonna do, you know? But you’re in the back, right?

Nikki: Yeah, yeah. We get comments on it all the time, like ‘your drummer’s fucking crazy.’

Nate: It’s a weird thing, I stand up and play sometimes, just kinda move around a lot.

It’ s a physical instrument, you gotta kick the shit out of it. Do you guys have previous iterations of the band?

Nikki: We’ve all been in various bands but I used to be a solo project, then Dylan and I started writing together, and then we were playing some shows and we needed a drummer, and Dylan and Nate went to University together, so he was like ‘oh I’ll just ask my friend Nate.’

And then you got married.

Nate: Yep. That night!

You went to Vegas and had a three person wedding! 

Nikkis-Wives

Who would you say are your biggest influences? Or just is it just you in a cold room with a deadline?

Dylan: I don’t think you can really hear it in our music, but we were talking about this this morning for another thing: David Lynch.

Really?!

Dylan: We find ourselves always talking about him and how stark and kind of unsettling all his visual stuff is, and we’re trying to kinda get that going a little bit.

Translate it to music?

Dylan: Yeah, and I don’t know if it translates but it still influences our decisions even if we don’t sound like what he looks like.

That’s a great answer to… kind of a bad question. [laughter]

Nate: Musically… I mean, I like Peter Gabriel a lot, I like a lot of prog-rock bands, so like King Crimson and stuff. We listen to a lot of hip hop, Kendrick and Skepta recently.

What do you listen to in the van?

Nikki: There’s so much time that we have to pass that it goes like all over the place. Every single Kanye West record, this band Snarky Puppy which is like instrumental, I don’t even know.

Dylan: If you wanna listen to a crazy jazz fusion band from New York at south by, go see Snarky Puppy on Saturday. They’re crazy.

Nikki: It’s just kinda everything.

Dylan: Mastodon, metal, rock, like even some punk records, like FIDLAR or whatever, lots of hip hop, all over the map, jazz, Britney Spears–we love Britney. Backstreet Boys

Nikki: Get it all in there.

Do you have any one song that you think encapsulates your sound?

Nikki: I would say our debut song, the title track “Forever.”

That’s why it became the title track.

Nate: It’s kind of our attitude more than any other song. I think lyrically it really pins us down.

How would you describe that attitude?

Nikki: Um, like kind of a bad bitch vibe. Like up in Miami in a suit, briefcases of money…

Nate: Like a faded kind of vibe, an after-party vibe.

Nikki: It’s like you went to a really dope party and then you wake up the next morning and you’re still wearing what you were wearing and you pick up your cigarette that was burning…

Still burning ‘cuz you fell asleep with it in your mouth, totally get it. What’s your favorite part of your lives right now?

Dylan: This, here right here! [laughter]

Nate: This very instant.

This moment. You’ve never been more thrilled than right now, talking to me, getting this interview out on the internet. It’s gonna be sick.

Dylan: And if this is coming out during south by…

Oh no, there’s no way.

Nate: Oh. Well then I’m sorry you missed our gigs at south by! [laughter]

I have one more question. I promised my friend I would ask you this hypothetical question: would you rather be born with only one leg, or with three legs? Those are the only two choices.

[a moment of thoughtful consideration]

Nate: Ah, okay, so… when we’re talking three legs, do we have equal movement in each?

Yes, but they’re three across, not like a tripod.

Nate: So I couldn’t have three and have one amputated?

Dylan: They already call me the tripod…

[to Dylan] Yeah that’s what I figured. I set you up for that. [to Nate] Yeah you could, but then you’d have to get a leg amputated and you’d have a stump where one of your legs began.

Nate: I would go with three because I play drums and it’d be hard to drum with one leg.

Oooo and it’d be sweet too, you could play the double petal and the high hat.

Nate: Exactly.

Dylan: I’m gonna say one for sympathy girls. I’d stay real fit, hop around.

Nate: Maybe I could donate you my leg.

Do a leg transplant.

Nikki: I’m gonna go with three because I’m very uncoordinated, and I feel like one leg would just…

Dylan: Three would probably be an improvement to your life.

Nikki: Probably! I mean if someone could hook me up with a third leg…

Nate: You’d have to get extra shoes every time and throw one away. Is it two left feet and one right?

One symmetrical middle foot.

Nikki: But it would give me an excuse to buy more shoes!

Welcome to south by, where everything’s ridiculous.

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: METHYL ETHYL
April 1, 2016 10:58 am

Here at AtypicalSounds we’re always looking out for the next big thing. Our April Artist of the Month is Methyl Ethel, a Perth-based dreampop trio that are hot off the heels of releasing their debut record Oh Inhuman Spectacle, which was released digitally last month via 4AD.  The album showcases a sleek backdrop of psych-rock influences, reverb-drenched guitar, and Jake Web’s oddball lyrics: the chorus to lead single “Twilight Driving” caution unsuspecting drivers to watch out for “roos”.

Methyl Ethel are the latest indie upstart to burst out of Australia in the wake of big acts to emerge from the continent including Courtney Barnett and Tame Impala. The band’s following has been growing steadily since CMJ this past October, demonstrated by their insane and successful performance at this year’s SXSW. They’ve proven their ability to arouse new fans to faithfully follow them wherever their tour may take them.

Unfortunately, if you haven’t had a chance to catch them live yet, you might have to wait a bit. They’ve just wrapped up the US-wing of their international tour and are doing their last handful of shows in Europe and in native Australia. We’ll be waiting their return.

LOVE YOUR BOYFRIEND
10:47 am

Boyfriend is hard to miss. She’s the one wearing vintage lingerie, her hair in rollers, and depending who you ask, may have started a cupcake fight during this year’s SXSW. You may have caught her last year when she toured with Big Freedia, or learned about her three EPs, LoveYour Boyfriend, parts 1, 2, and 3. The performer from New Orleans is also a brilliant conversationalist, a connoisseur of diners. 

We met up with Boyfriend at Hey Cupcake! in Austin to enjoy some beautiful weather and even-more-beautiful cupcakes.

It’s been raining here, and the mud is full of clay.

BF: You can eat it if you’re starving. It has minerals. My grandmother grew up in the 1930s in rural Alabama, and she was telling me how when they were out working sometimes, they would scoop up a little clay and be like “om nom nom.” That is so Alabama.

I think they used to eat sparrows during the depression, as well.

BF: Oh dear. That’s disgusting to me. Those disgusting, starving people.

They probably don’t have a lot of meat on them either. They’re so small and have all those feathers.

BF: They barely have marrow in their hollow bones. I’m vegetarian so I’m a little out of my realm, so who knows.

I was raised vegetarian – my parents are hippies.boyfriend_2

BF: Did you revert?

I eat fish.

BF: I eat fish occasionally. If it’s a nice sushi place.

Is there good sushi in New Orleans?

BF: I love oysters. Raw gulf oysters. Sorry Pacific and any other place that has oysters, I’m all about the gulf oysters; I mean they’re the biggest and the most delicious. But I’m biased because I grew up on the gulf coast.

How is it in New Orleans since the hurricane?

BF: It’s thriving and vibrant and expanding and gentrifying, and all of the -ing words that you associate with a hip place. Much like Austin, or Nashville, or Asheville, or Brooklyn, just a neighborhood that you used to not go to, you now go to. I think that New Orleans, specifically, is back with a vengeance. There’s just so much going on there right now.

Do you feel like you have everything you need to run your career from where you are in New Orleans?

BF: I sort of resist the narrative of being a “blank-based artist” because I think anyone who’s being realistic knows that you’re an internet-based artist, and that physically you might be in one place but your emailing with people in different places every single day, and you’re going to places for meetings, and for sessions. So, could I have stayed in New Orleans and not leave, and become who I’ve become? No way. But I don’t think anyone could stay where they live and become who they’re going to become. You should always reach out. I’ve always been very much a tumbleweed, gypsy lady.

Have you lived in other places?

BF: I grew up in Nashville, I lived in LA for five years, then I lived in New Orleans. But during all of that, I’m also traveling constantly, bouncing around the country. It’s the nature of the life.

What are your favorite places to listen to music?

BF: I used to really enjoy Cheer Up Charlies, but I don’t know if I’m going to be allowed to go there anymore. Even back when it was called De Ville, it was a great space. I think our days are numbered.

What happened?

BF: I performed there the Friday of SXSW, and I brought cupcakes from Hey Cupcake! Before a show, I want a hot bath and I want a cupcake, and having been to Austin several times before, I was familiar with Hey Cupcake! and how delicious their stuff is, especially their cream cheese icing.

The person I shared my Lyft car with this morning said the same thing.

BF: So I’m not alone. So I was having one, and I said to the manager, “We need to make sure that everyone at the show tonight has one of these. I think that would be very special”. I was the final set of the night, so everyone was going to be hungry and drunk. We’ve got to feed them. So we brought 250 cupcakes to the show to make sure everyone there got to have one, and things got a little bit rowdy as they tend to at the end of a show. And, unfortunately, the venue was kind of upset about that.

Did you have to stay behind and mop the floor?

BF: Well, I didn’t.

Was this your first SXSW?

BF: My second, technically my third. I was there, sort of as a ghost my first year. As a spirit, haunting the place.

Did you perform?

BF: I did, unofficially. I enjoy.

Your costumes are great [she’s wearing a 1950s-style satin bra and panty set with a dressing gown].

BF: Thanks. Believe it or not, this was from a fan. I perform a birthday bash every year in New Orleans and it’s become sort of a thing where I give everyone gifts. I pretty much give everyone gifts at every show; cupcakes, tampons, something, but since it was my birthday I decided to really go all-out. So anyone who came in lingerie received an actual present in a bag. And that’s something I do for all my birthday shows – you dress up in lingerie, you will be rewarded.

Well, I started receiving gifts as part of the whole exchange and someone handed me this beautifully wrapped, it was wrapped in an antique mat with a sprig of lavender, and [gestures to her dressing gown] this robe was inside of it. She just took it upon herself to make this for me. So then I reached out to her on Instagram, my favorite place, and said “I love the robe, I want something to wear under it.” and so she found this vintage pattern, and I sent her my measurements, and I picked out the color, and it matches my nails. And there we are.

It looks great.

BF: Thank you! It feels great. I’ll never wear another thread of denim in my life. I need something slick.

Denim can chafe, especially if it’s hot out. When I was researching you for this interview, I noticed that certain publications were trying to describe your performance style. I think NPR called you a “mysterious, raunchy, feminist”, and Paper Magazine said you were “endearingly weird.” Do you feel like those descriptions are accurate? Or rather how would you like people to see what you’re doing, and what would you like them to get out of it?

BF: I practice bathtub meditation, and one of the things I focus on when I am neck deep in bubbles, is not being invested in the reaction of others, for I know I have no control over that. I can control whether or not my nails match my outfit, I can control how much champagne in pour into my flute before I get into the bathtub, but I cannot control how people react to me. So they will choose their adjectives and I’d say that NPR chose some pretty good adjectives. I hope other people agree with those adjectives. I’m sure there’s a few flying around after Cheer Up Charlies. I love the English language, whether the adjectives are favorable or unfavorable.

A lot of your songs focus around feminist issues. Would you say you became interested in that because they’re issues that effect you directly, or are you interested in feminism as a whole, or is it a combination of the two?

BF: Feminism as a whole, and feminism as an individual, and feminism as an unconscious mode of being. As being a woman, born into the world, and walking around the planet as a woman. These are just the things that I experience and encounter, and those are the things I comment on.

Have you performed in New York?

BF: I have. I was on tour with Big Freedia this fall, and we performed at Irving Plaza. And I’ve performed at Pianos, and I’ve performed at Joe’s Pub. I especially love Joe’s Pub because the cabaret setting is the perfect setting for Rap Cabaret.

What’s coming up for you this year?

BF: I released an album yesterday. It’s a baby, an infant, it has not yet suckled at my teat, it’s so young. So that was Love Your Boyfriend, Pt. 3. and it is the third and final part of the Love Your Boyfriend EP.

Do you listen to a lot of rap?

BF: I’ll tell you this: I don’t think that Harper Lee read a novel and turned around and wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. I think that she grew up in the south, as a woman, experiencing things, observing things, and then she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. And that would be my answer to who influences me, and why I avoid talking about music that I listen to. Because I think that journalism, the knee-jerk reaction is to be referential, saying “If you’re this band, you must like this band, this band, this band.” And the band says “Yes, we do like this band, this band, this band.” It just becomes a list instead of a dialogue. Waiting in line at the bank might be as influential on a song as a concert you saw when you were four years old.

I did actually go to the Lilith Fair when I was eight. My mom loved Sarah McLachlan, but when I was eight, I was loving Jewel. Pieces of You is like my jam. Yeah, I loved the Lilith Fair.

Do you have any last words before you hit the road again?

BF: Let them eat cake.

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.

ROLLIN’ WITH BANDITS AT SXSW
March 30, 2016 11:11 am

We sat down with Denver’s very own BANDITS at SXSW, discussing their influences, their destructive stage antics, and their van.

So, how long have you guys been here at SXSW?

Lulu: This is our second… third day.

Andrew: Third day.

And you tour a lot too, right?

John: Yep

L: Yeah, we’re pretty… we’re on the road a lot.

A: We’ve been on the road for about… in the last month we’ve been home for about five days. We went from Denver all the way out to New York City and back–in like a two-and-a-half week tour–then had a couple days off and then toured our way down here.

What’s the longest tour you’ve ever done?

J: I think that one actually. Like two weeks.

L: Yeah we like to keep them sporadic. Go home for a couple days in between, regroup.

A: This way we can do them a lot.

Do you like touring?

L: Oh yeah.

J: I love touring. Being on the road is the best part. You just get to see a new city every night, and you get to experience the culture everywhere. You get to play in front of new people all the time.

A: It’s great when all you have to do is focus on just going and playing music every night. You just kinda get into that zone, and that’s where you wanna be as a musician.

What’s your least favorite part of touring?

J: Well, loading in and out kinda sucks, but it’s mostly fun.

L: I would say my least favorite part is driving for so long. I get sore from sitting in the van for like nine and a half hours at a time. But it’s not that bad.

A: I think the hardest part is trying to stay healthy and sleep well and eat well and not get sick. It’s definitely a physical struggle.

banditYou’re up late every night?

J: Oh yeah, up ’til like three, four in the morning.

And then you gotta hop in the van next day?

L: For like nine hours, yeah.

Shit. Do you have a name for the van?

L: Not really.

J: We had a few of them, one of them was “Nelson Vandela.”

A: Yeah that’s a good one

J: We made a Facebook post of what to name it, and that’s what we got.

L: We’ve never been like “everyone to the… whatever.”

“To the mystery machine!”

L: It’s just our van.

So you guys do a lot of social media outreach or crowdsourcing and shit?

J: Yeah, I mean we post every day on Facebook.

You got to, right? Welcome to 2016.

L: And then Twitter and Instagram. I mean we do it, we do a good job staying in touch with our fans. That’s the easiest way to talk to them and know what they’re thinking or feeling about everything.

Do you find it difficult to stay active, stay relevant, stay involved with the fans to have that kind of relationship?

J: Yeah, sometimes. I think also when you’re absent on Facebook for a few days it really helps people stay interested in what you’re doing. Not posting all the time…just exclusive stuff.

That’s cool. So, you guys play pretty heavy rock. You remind me of the classics, some Sabbath, some classic rock type situations. Do you have modern influences as well?

L: I would say we have a lot of modern influences. We listen to so much when we’re sitting in the van for nine hours that we take in a lot and are always bringing it back to rehearsal. Like, ‘how can we use this, how can we use that.’ But I would say Queens of the Stone Age are a big influence, The Kills, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Tame Impala, we listen to a lot of hip hop that also comes into play.

Really? How do you find that the hip hop effects your music? 

A: I think more than anything… well, definitely the groove and the beat because hip hop drums comes from the same place as rock drums, and the rhythms are the same. But I think also the attitude, a lot of the time. You could say that about any music though.

J: Yeah definitely the attitude.

What would you say is your biggest influence that I wouldn’t expect? bandit2

L: I’d say Biggie. We loves Biggie.

J: Just the whole attitude thing there.

How far is it from here to Denver?

L: Like a sixteen hour drive. It’s not great.

Who drives the most?

L: John.

J: I’m kind of a control freak, I like to drive a lot.

L: John likes to drive.

Would you say you’re the best driver?

J: Well, I don’t know.

L: No. [laughter]

J: I’d say Lulu’s the best.

L: I’m the most cautious driver.

A: I’m the best with the trailer. If you gotta back a trailer into something, I got it.

J: But if you wanna get there in maybe eight hours less, let me drive.

A: If you want somebody to drive a hundred miles an hour the whole time, not give a shit…

Law be damned, just go for it.

J: We listen to a lot of Motörhead when we drive that fast.

Yeah, that’s good for driving. Anything else? Any other music in the van?

A: Oh man, there are so many. We’re all over the place. We’ve been listening to a lot of Dr John

J: Lot of Iggy, his new album

A: And his old albums…

L: I love to listen to Portishead and nobody else ever wants to listen to it.

When you’re driving though that’s up to you.

L: Yeah. The Roots, listened to them on the way down here. Tame Impala’s new album

J: Humble Pie.

A: The Arcs, all that new Dan Auerbach stuff, that’s really good stuff. We listen to that a lot.

Do you guys write songs in the car? 

L: I don’t think we’ve ever done that. It’s not the most inspirational place to be.

J: I’ve thought about words and stuff, but…

Who writes most of the lyrics?

J: We split it up usually, and then we’ll bring it into practice.

How do you start a song?

J: Well usually it’s a riff or something. I usually just sit down with the guitar and noodle.

Have fun until something materializes?

J: Yeah and then we put words to that, bring the song to practice, and then kind of develop it from there.

So you start with it and then the group kinda builds off of it?

J: Yeah either me or Lulu will start, and then we’ll bring it to Andrew and all converge.

L: Yeah, we’ll keep developing ideas.

Which of your songs would you say best encapsulates your sound?

J: That’s a hard question to answer because a lot of our songs have different vibes.

L: I would say our band has kind of a dual personality, because John and I split up being lead singers, and I think that’s why our new 7″ is so good. We’re gonna be releasing a vinyl in a couple weeks, and it has my single where I’m the singer and it’s a different vibe.

J: Yeah there’s two different vibes going on, which is kinda cool.

What’s your favorite song to play on stage?

A: I mean we always… The closer song of our set usually has a big, like, jam section at the end where we get really quiet and then build it up really big. It’s a little more psychedelic and gets really heavy at the end, and that one’s always really fun because it’s the end of the set.

L: That one’s always really fun.

J: Yeah I think I’d say that one.

Do you guys try to give off a certain vibe on stage? A personality?

J: Definitely. I mean, we’re just a very, very high-energy band. We kinda have to be because our music is so aggressive…

L: We want our crowd to know that it’s okay to dance around.

J: And that we enjoy the music. I don’t like going to see bands and then they just stand there. Especially for a rock and roll, you know.

L: We wanna go crazy, we wanna get rowdy.

Do you get the crowds to mosh or anything?

J: We’ve had a few moshes…

I mean, they happen on their own. You don’t have to be like ‘hey excuse me’…

L: ‘Hey excuse me, can you start moshing down there? Thank you.’

J: There was one show we played in Lincoln, Nebraska that was the last day of our tour and we weren’t expecting anybody to be there, and then it was a packed room of 300 people, going fucking crazy.

L: Crazy, stage diving and stuff. We were like, what? What is Nebraska?

Yeah, I wouldn’t have expected that.

A: We were moshing ourselves the other night. The first night we were here we went and saw the OCs and few other bands, we played some shows with them back in Denver so we know them, and we were just moshing in the front. I got hit in the head. It was awesome.

What’s your craziest partying on stage, head-banging, ‘oh I hit my head’ kind of story?

J: Oh, I mean we always knock–I knock over everything.

L: John, yeah, he knocks everything over. But I think injury-wise, John has hit both Andrew and I with his head stock so many times. It’s the worst.

That’s dangerous.

J: There was one show I remember, I don’t know what I was doing, we were obviously all drinking quite a bit. I was down on the ground and I got up and just fell into the drumset, passed out almost. I didn’t really realize what had happened.

A: There was one show where you just kept knocking over a drum of mine, like in the middle of a set, kept knocking it over, and so I ended up playing the rest of the set with just a kick and a snare and a high hat because everything else was all over the place.

You’re not gonna change in the middle of a song, not gonna try to fix it. 

A: Yeah I was like ‘just go with it.’ There was another show where John had his amps stacked up on each other, and at the end of the night he knocked both of them over and then chucked his guitar at the wall. He almost hit me in the head, like, the guitar was this far from my face.

L: Literally going straight for his head.

Did you break it? You break your guitar?

J: No it was completely fine! It was a hollow body too, I was expecting it to be, like, snapped in half, but…

A: And the amps were both fine.

L: Lucky.

You guys go through instruments or equipment?

J: Not at all.

L: I mean, you would think that we would. I definitely get nervous about it. John knocks over so much stuff, like my keyboard–the volume knob doesn’t work anymore because John’s knocked it over so many times.

A: Every single show John knocks that thing over. He has a vendetta against it, I think he just hates it.

L: One of these days we’re gonna be out on tour and my keyboard’s gonna break for real and then I won’t have one.

And then that’s it.

L: And then that’s it, and then our band is done and we’ll quit forever.

Hopefully you don’t do that. One last question–what’s next? You guys on tour still?

J: So after SXSW we’re gonna go home, we’re gonna go into the studio and just record everything we got, and we’ll kinda just see what happens from there. Then we got a lot of shows coming up in April, and then May we’re gonna be releasing our 7″, so lots of stuff.

L: Hopefully we tour some more. We’re gonna be doing a lot of touring over the summer and the fall.

Well good luck with that, looking forward to it.

L: Thanks so much.

Thanks for the interview, do you mind if we take a quick selfie?

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