August 11, 2016 11:49 am

If you haven’t heard “Going the Distance” by Zipper Club yet, get ready because it’s going to be stuck in your head pretty much forever. The band, comprised of Mason James of Cerebral Ballzy and Lissy Trullie, have recently been working with James Iha (of The Smashing Pumpkins fame) to produce their debut album. If it’s anything like this single, I can’t wait to hear it.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS spoke with Mason about new wave, new music, and new experiences:


Your press release describes Zipper Club as being a “new wave-inspired” band. Are there any new wave albums that inspired you as musicians, or any that you’d recommend in general for your fans to listen to?

Stand And Deliver by Adam Ant, Big Country by Big Country is kind of a jam. The Bangles.

What bands from LA do you feel deserve more attention?

Every band in LA gets plenty of attention.

Has your producer James Iha given you any advice that’s resonated with you?

He has a real mastery of how to craft a song. He imparted little bits of his wisdom while working together. Subtle changes made a world of difference.

Did you squeal and freak out directly before/after meeting him?

I just got off tour. I met him in a dingy basement in Brooklyn to work on a Record Store Day single. I was so hung over that I wasn’t squealing much.

You just released a video for your song “Going the Distance”. What can you tell us about the production of it?

We wanted to make a non-literal adventure video that visually represented the music. We went out to the desert with some friends…and it turned out rad.

Did you help with the video’s concept or direction?

Jason Forrest Hogg and I had been messing around with ideas for a while and decided to direct this one together. Lissy and I worked as a band to conceive the storyline. We hit up some of our friends, bought a Cadillac, broke down four times on the way to the desert and then made a video.

What can we expect from your upcoming album?

Spacey synths and big hooks.

Zipper Club has a very different sound than your previous band Cerebral Ballzy. Is there anything in particular you were looking to do with Zipper Club that you felt you couldn’t do with Cerebral Ballzy?

I conceived this band out of frustration with punk. Punk can be pigeonholing in terms of musical creativity. This is a way for me to do something I wanted. It’s catchy and still cool. Once Lissy came into the fold, the remaining songs were greatly influenced by her presence and the collaboration built something great.

What advice can you give a band who is new to the music industry? Is there anything you were particularly surprised by when you were first starting out?

Get ready to sleep on a lot of floors.

Will you be touring soon or doing any live performances?

We play LA every Monday night in August at the Satellite. Then we’ll be on the road for the next year and a half.

Check out more Zipper Club with their tour, on Youtube, their site and here with the new single, “Going The Distance”.

July 18, 2016 10:57 am

Listening to Daniel Wilson, you’d never believe he’s 24. There just aren’t many young people creating gospel-inspired soul music. Daniel’s most recent single “Sinner Of The Week,” from the upcoming EP of the same name, fuses those heavenly sounds with a deliciously danceable beat and some pretty impressive vocals.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS was lucky to trade a few emails with Daniel, so keep reading to find out what he thinks of Detroit, Christian music, and Domino’s Pizza.

For people who have never been to Detroit, the city can sometimes be seen as a sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland due to all the photos of abandoned buildings on the internet. What is Detroit like for someone who’s actually been there?

It has improved a lot. It’s really nice down there right now and seems like it will only get better in the near future. The neighborhoods need more work, hopefully the neighborhoods nor the people in them will be forgotten while the fancy buildings are being built. Like almost any city, watch where you’re going. You’ll be fine.

What venues near your hometown of Ypsilanti are your favorite for seeing live music?

Haha. I have never been to a venue for live music in Ypsi. I hardly leave the house. I need to work on that. I’m a bad music fan.

Are there any local bands or musicians you feel deserve more recognition?

Because I am a bad music fan, I don’t know of any bands in town. Although my former songwriting teacher Spencer Michaud is a very talented guy. Check him out. He makes cool music.

Are you still based in Michigan? If so, do you feel like you’re more cut off from possible opportunities in New York or Los Angeles, or do you feel like location doesn’t matter since most business can be done over the internet?

I am still in Michigan and do feel pretty cut off most of the time. It’s hard for me to find other musicians around here…but I also don’t leave the house much because I don’t drive. Conundrums. I’d like to move. Maybe not to NYC or LA exactly. But who knows, maybe. I’d surely enjoy the opportunity to choose haha.

You’re signed to Zap Records (based in London) and seem to work predominantly in the UK. Is working in the UK something you were aiming for, or is that just how things worked out?

Working in London just sort of happened. I have worked in a few big cities—London has probably been the most productive for me. I never imagined being able to go to London, it’s been quite the dream come true. I’ve met great people down there. Talented, nice people.

In addition to your early influences of gospel and Christian music, you were also interested in musicals and 90’s MTV. Did the more religious aspects of your life ever clash with your interest in pop culture, or are each of those components more alike than people may give them credit for?

They clashed. Took me awhile to realize I could enjoy both. But my family was also fairly loose about it—maybe they weren’t aware how much influence MTV had on us, or television in general. We were glued to it. I’d say that at the end of the day these things have a lot in common with each other. Whether it was MTV, musicals on AMC, or gospel on Sunday—it was all passion. Passion is fascinating. It was a blessing getting to observe so much of it.

Do you consider yourself a religious person? Do your beliefs dictate the way you write or do business as an artist and producer?

I consider myself more of a spiritual person than religious, but sometimes I can’t help being a bit religious. I lived in it for years. Honestly though, it tends to cause me pain more than anything else these days; the structure of it all and how stubborn it can be. It’s reluctance to change.

Though we disagree on a few things, my beliefs are connected to my parent’s beliefs. Their souls were a gift from God. How loving and giving they are, the belief that you must be good to people. Selflessness. I try to give those things to the people I meet when collaborating. You don’t have to believe in God to know kindness, but those two have always been connected in my life.

Can you recommend any gospel or Christian albums for people who may not be very familiar with the genres? I think Christian music in particular tends to not have a great reputation in mainstream music.

I don’t really care for the gospel or Christian music I hear now. I could think of a few older albums or collections BUT BeBe & CeCe Winans Greatest Hits album from 1996 was life-changing for me. Just about every song on there is MAGIC. They’re just really good pop songs that happened to be gospel. Ageless. AND THE VOCALS are just. Ugh. INCREDIBLE. Listening to it right now haha.

How do you feel about Domino’s Pizza (founded in Ypsilanti)?

The best Domino’s Pizza I have ever had was while I was in London, it was delicious. Its deliciousness caught me WAY off guard…that’s all I have to say about that…

What can your fans expect from you in the near future? Are you planning to tour?

No tour that I know of (yet). Musically, hopefully more of it.

June 27, 2016 12:23 pm

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

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

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

It was really fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Did you grow up in New York?

No, I grew up in North Carolina.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More visual and auditory stimulation.