Texas

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.

GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE: RAW FABRICS
July 22, 2016 9:46 am

Jack B. (Jack Bruno) has been through the ringer and then some.

Jump back 12 months and he’s on the brink of self-destruction. Okay, so you’re not the first chip off the block to embrace the rock and roll lifestyle only to find yourself completely in over your head. Rebel without a cause. His creative outlet, Raw Fabrics, abruptly goes up in smoke. His band mates leaving him in the dust. His girlfriend calls it quits. Bridges are burned, relationships tarnished. Jack B. checks himself into rehab.

But this isn’t just some sob piece. Put your tissue box down. It’s cliché, it’s trite, but it often holds true: sometimes you need to reach rock bottom before you can claw your way to a higher place. Raw Fabrics has done just that, albeit as a revitalized solo band, Jack B. hasn’t looked back.  In fact, he’s turned the page in dramatic fashion.

The LA native’s been on the road for the last 3 months straight, sucking in fresh summer air, playing shows, writing new songs, meeting new friends and finding himself.  Raw Fabrics was asked to open for She Wants Revenge, the mid-ought’s electro-punk band celebrating 10 years since the release of their eponymous self-titled debut. I got to catch their Philadelphia stop at the Theater of the Living Arts.

The two bands emerged from two very different eras of indie rock, but they have their comparisons. Both might loosely qualify as dance punk–Although Raw Fabrics blend is much more hook-centric, accessible pop sensibilities with an LA hipster cool edge.  Jack B. is full of energy and charisma on stage—he ended his set by jumping out into the audience smashing a floor tom before breaking into one last tune.

She Wants Revenge music hinges on grooves and gloomy minimalists.  Their closest contemporaries were The Faint or The Kills—they’ve stated their admiration for early goth bands such as Bauhaus and The Cure.  As such, SWR music is likewise abound with horror tropes, such as their album cover depicting a scantly-clad girl clutching a kitchen knife. Fun for the whole family! It was great to see them back at it.

With this level of activity, it feels likely Raw Fabrics will have some new material on the way soon. In the meantime, he did manage to squeeze in time recently to film his last single “Get Me The Hell Out of Here”, check it out below.  He also recently teased a remix  by Lil Texas.

EVERYTHING IS NICE WITH LUCAS DIPASQUALE
March 30, 2016 10:02 am

What do Canadian 20-somethings have in common with Jamaican dancehall music? Everything, apparently. Lucas DiPasquale went viral in 2014 with his acoustic mashup of Popcaan tracks and just recently he was at SXSW, performing with bands including The Posterz and The Lytics.

We caught up with Lucas in the lobby of absurdly luxurious Austin hotel The Driskill to get his side of the story.

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Was this your first SXSW?

LD: Yes, it was incredible. I didn’t know what to expect. I’d never been to Austin, never been to Texas. Honestly, other than Miami, I’ve never been to the southern United States. I’ve never really explored down here, and it’s just a different United States – different than the big metropolises like New York and Chicago, way different. I love that.

I got there on Tuesday. I had some good meals and did a few shows on Tuesday and Wednesday, and saw some great acts.

Did you see any bands that you thought were really good?

LD: I saw Anderson .Paak, Jake Bugg, both of them just incredible. Blew my mind. I saw Jack Garratt at a Playstation kind of event, he was…as a person who uses loops onstage, I have an acoustic guitar, and I try to do my own one-man kind of thing? He blew my mind. Just incredible.

You’ve been playing guitar since you were eight-years-old. What inspires an eight-year-old to pick up a guitar?

LD: I actually asked for drums. I always had rhythm, but my parents were like “Ehh…I don’t think so, let’s get you a guitar.”. So it kind of just happened, and then I didn’t really start playing until I was 14 or 15 years old, and then I just started singing all the indie and alternative music I was listening to, and some of the rap music, trying to play it on the guitar.

And then you had that viral video.

LD: I kind of just played whatever I wanted on guitar through high school, and then in my first year in university, at the end of it, I made a Popcaan cover and it did well. It started my career.

Did the idea for your video initially come as a joke that turned into a realization that you were actually really good?

LD: I didn’t take it as a joke, but I saw it as just a cover. I listen to that music, I wanted to show my buddies that, and I was just like “Yeah, this is cool.” It’s like singing anything else. And it did well, it got a lot of attention, a lot of people respected me for that more than they respected me for anything else. I like all music, so I was just happy that people dug it. I was flattered by it; dancehall people, Jamaican people, people who are invested in the culture really liked it.

You look at artists like Iggy Azalea, who are doing something in the same kind of vein as you, and they’ve had these intense knee-jerk reactions from the public. Was that something you were concerned about?

LD: It’s still something I’m concerned about. Cultural appropriation is a discussion, it’s a conversation that needs to be had, and it’s a real thing. When you’re not real about it, or you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, then people should be upset with you. But I covered the song because I love rap and dancehall music. So music that’s not necessarily made by, you know, my race…hip hop is born in New York, so it’s “not supposed to happen”, but through the internet and by other means of communication, the music got to me. And I love it. So I just sing whatever I sing.

Are there other artists in Toronto that you feel deserve more recognition?

LD: There’s a guy named John River who’s just an incredible rapper. I’m not sure how much you know about Toronto, but there’s a greater Toronto area; so he’s from Mississauga, I’m from a place called Markham, which is just 45 minutes outside Toronto. And I don’t know him or anything, and I just started listening to his music, but I think he’s gonna bust.

You were in college when you released your video. Did you leave school to pursue your career?

LD: Yeah, so after I made the video I got a few emails from music people and record labels, asking if I was serious about it, and I don’t really know if I was, but I took a few meetings. And then my manager now, I signed to him a year and a half ago, to his production company, and it kind of just started it.

Was it a hard decision to leave school?

LD: I really liked school. I was at Ryerson for radio and television arts, and I loved it. I still love it, I still go back and make videos and stuff. But I was also waiting to do this for a while, and I think I can do this well, and I really want to perform for everyone. It was hard in the sense of “Do I want to stop going to school?” But it was easy in the “Yes, I’d like to make music. Yes, I’d like the opportunity.”

Are you considering moving to a place like New York or Los Angeles to pursue your career, or do you think you have everything you need in Toronto?

LD: Currently? Absolutely, I think I have everything I need. The future changes, and you never really know what’s going to happen, but I love Toronto and as long as I have what I need, I’d stay there forever.

What are your favorite places in Toronto to listen to music?

LD: I listen to a lot of rap music, I listen to a lot of indie and alternative music, but it’s still established artists; they’re always playing at the ticketed places like Sound Academy. My aunt sings at this jazz bar called The Rex, and I just went there the other day and I love being there.

You just released your first EP in October.

LD: There are four songs with a live version of one of them, so five tracks. That was crazy for me. It felt like my career was leading up to that, and it happened, and I was like, “Wow.”

Do you have a song from there you enjoy performing the most?

LD: I think “Come Home” is a lot of fun to play when I’m not in Toronto, because it’s about going home to Toronto and I really feel it when I’m playing it.

I’m going to be releasing a new album, probably this summer, and there’s a song called “Pager” that I’m going to start working on. It’s about my family, and I always play it in my sets. Every time I’m singing about my grandpa, and my mom and dad, I really feel it. So that’s probably my favorite song.

Do you find you’re often inspired by your family?

LD: I’m close with my family. They’re so supportive, and they’re different. I’ve been exploring the world and meeting new people, and you meet such lovely people most of the time, and you meet some people who just aren’t like your family. You realize you have really good parents and I have two brothers, they’re twins, and they’re all really good people. So you realize how blessed you are when you start exploring people and realizing what you had and what other people had and it’s cool.

POST-SXSW ARNDTERVIEW
March 29, 2016 11:11 am

Sibling rock stars Jocelyn & Chris Arndt took their soulful, hook-laden blues/rock sound to this year’s SXSW. I caught up with them at Austin’s Handlebar and discussed Harvard, Ocean’s Eleven and life on the road.


arndtSo is this your first SXSW?

Jocelyn: Yes, yes it is.

How do you like it so far?

J: It’s crazy but awesome. Crazy awesome.

How many shows have you had?

J: We had one yesterday…

Chris: We had three yesterday, then one today and one tomorrow.

Damn, not too bad for your first time.

C: [laughter] No no, not at all

Well that’s just fantastic. Now, you guys are from New York, right?

J: Upstate New York. We’re from Fort Plain which is an hour west of Albany.

Okay, so right in the middle of nowhere.

J: [laughter] Yep, right there.

That’s awesome. And you just released an album about a month ago, right? Are you happy with it?

J: Yes, very much so. It’s called Edges, and it’s our first full length, which is a big deal. We’re freaking out.

Well of course. How many… “half lengths” have you had?

C: Just one.

J: We did an EP, but yeah this time we really got to sink our teeth in.

And you got some momentum going into SXSW. Are you on tour? Is this a stop on a tour?

C: Yeah, we came down from New York, we were in Cleveland, and then Chattanooga and Nashville, then Arkansas and then Houston. Actually Dallas, not Houston.

Somewhere in Texas. It all runs together.

C: …and then we’re gonna work our way back up next week.

Back up to… upstate?

C: Yeah.

What’s your favorite part of touring?

J: [thinks for a moment] I like knowing that every night we’re gonna be somewhere different, which is weird because I feel like some people would be like ‘oh my god another 8 hours in the car,’ but it’s kinda nice to be able to travel with the music and know that no matter where you are you get to play a set but then you get to go somewhere else.

So you get that time to explore, that’s cool. What do you do on the road? Who drives?

J: Our drummer, who’s also our producer…

C: And our manager…

Oh, multitalented.

J: Yeah he does most of–well, all of the driving.

Yeah I was gonna say, it’s not just you two. How does that work? Who writes the songs?

J: We both write together.

Which is good because you have that family bond, you work off each other. Who’s older? I can’t really tell.

C: [laughter] She is.

No way!

C: [shows x’s on hands] I’m not even 21.

Get the fuck outta here!

J: …and I just turned 21.

Oh wow, well welcome to adulthood–or something. Whatever that means. Do you have a favorite city that you’ve been to on tour?

J: I really really like Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Wow, that’s random but cool.

J: It’s random. We stopped there once, I think we had played in Nashville and then they were like ‘oh this seems like a good place to do another show.’ We stopped there and now every time we’re down south we make sure we go there because people come out and really really support us.

C: The music scene there is amazing.

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And then they know you now kind of. Do you have a good following up in Albany?

C: Yeah we do well in Albany.

J: We play the city (NYC) a lot too

Of course, that makes sense. Where in the city?

J: We played the Bitter End, we played the Slipper Room…

C: We played Rockwood a lot.

Rockwood is where it’s at. They don’t fuck around–if you’re bad they don’t invite you back.

C: Yeah they’re awesome.

So you guys write together? How does that work?

J: I do the lyrics and melody, and then Chris does the chords the rhythm.

Who goes first? Do you start with the chords and then build off that, or…

C: Depends on the song, really. Sometimes she’ll come up with something and might be like ‘I need chords,’ other times I’ll go to her with a chord pattern I really like and she’ll have lyrics and we’ll sort of fit them together.

But it’s just you two, not the drummer/producer/manager.

J: Nope, just us.

And you have a bassist?

J: We have a bassist as well, Eric.

But he’s just a random dude.

J: Yeah I mean we met him in Albany.

C: He’s a student and an awesome dude.

How do you meet these people? School?

J: Through our manager, he’s the one with the contact.

How did you meet him? How’d you get started, you just started playing?

J: We had a high school band. We’ve been doing this for a long time. This was our high school job–a great job, better than most high school jobs. We had a band called The Dependents, and we’d play, like, fairs and stuff, and we were playing at the beer tent at the local fair and this guy came up and slipped us a card and said ‘Hey I like your sound.’

And you were like ‘thanks me too’?

J: [laughter] Yeah, and he turned out to be David. You never know who’s listening.

You never know! That’s why you just gotta play everywhere, see everyone, expand your audience and shit. That’s awesome. That was in high school, like five years ago?

J: Three or four.

Oh right you’re young as fuck, I forgot. Well okay. And you’ve been slowly building since then?

C: It was kind of slow for the first couple years.

J: Well first you gotta build a foundation.

C: We were working on a sound and stuff, and then this past like year and a half things have been ramping up super fast, so it’s pretty awesome.

What’s the best part of that so far?

C: Oh man.

J: I like the fact that we have a new CD, that’s a huge plus for me.

C: That’s pretty exciting. I honestly like just…

Just being a rock star?

C: Yeah it’s cool. When I was in high school it never even occurred to me that because of our music we would get to travel to California and Texas and Nashville and Michigan or wherever, and now we’re going all over the country and probably going to Canada and maybe the UK all with our music.

Whoa, whoa, slow down there!

J: It would be cool. You gotta have goals.

Well that’s fantastic. Do you guys have day jobs? Or is this it?

C: Just this.

LADYGUNN-160318_JOCELYN-CHRIS-ARNDT_SXSW_001You save up and then go on tour and stuff….

J: Well we also go to College.

Oh really? Where?

J: We both go to Harvard.

Fuck you guys! No way! [laughter] I’ve heard of it, I’ve heard of it.

J: But this is definitely our job, job.

Holy shit. Okay, so you’re both at Harvard. Currently.

J: [gestures to self] Junior, [gestures to Chris] sophomore.

What are you studying? Music?

C: I’m joint music and computer science.

J: I’m English but these days it’s mostly music, so…

Well that helps with lyrics too, right? Do you find you draw inspiration from your studies?

J: Yeah, a little bit definitely. And people. Everybody around us. You know, basically everything.

There are some smart people there. What do you think of Harvard?

J: It’s fun. I’ll tell you– SXSW is probably a little more fun. [laughter]

Yeah maybe a little. And the weather is nicer. What are you, on spring break right now?

J: Yeah.

Do you go on tour during the school year?

C: We do. We go weekends, we skip Monday and Friday–not every Monday and Friday but…

How do you…. I mean you go to Harvard, shouldn’t you be focused on Harvard?

C: That’s what some people say but, like, I kinda like music, you know? [laughter]

J: The other thing is, as long as we can do both we’re gonna do both. But if it comes down to Harvard or music, Harvard’s not going anywhere. Music is our thing, so…

How do you like the Cambridge/Boston area?

C: It’s a cool place to live. It’s pretty awesome.

J: Yeah it’s like New York’s friendlier, shorter cousin.

Friendlier… sometimes.

C: It feels less aggressive when you’re there. New York is a very “kill or be killed” vibe.

J: New York also literally never sleeps, as they say. Nothing ever turns off. Boston is like ‘midnight, better get on the last T or else you’re stuck.’

Do you play around Boston? Or around campus?

J: We haven’t a ton.

C: We honestly haven’t that much, we’re gonna start doing so more and more, but we’ve been really focused on New York, Nashville and LA for the past year.

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How do you like LA?

C: LA is awesome, the music scene is so great. We played The Viper Room, which was insane. But yeah, we’re starting to do pretty well in those three cities so we’re gonna branch out. But this is our first time in Texas.

And you like it?

J: Yeah we like it. We’re gonna come back.

Do you have any plans for today or tonight?

J: We don’t have a show tonight, not ’til tomorrow. So we’re still weighing our options.

Do you run into trouble playing venues underage?

C: Most of the time they’re just like ‘you can’t hang out beforehand, you can’t hang out afterwards, wait by the door while I get a marker to mark your hands.’ So it’s a little annoying. Vegas is kind of… [laughter] It was fun playing Vegas but they were like ‘you’re allowed to be on the casino floor as long as you don’t stand still.’

J: You can’t look at anything, you obviously can’t drink anything. I felt bad for the little bro.

C: But they let us play music, which is the most important thing.

Where did you play in Vegas?

J: We played this place the Sand Dollar

C: And then a place called… 

J: We did an open mic thing at the Beat Coffeehouse.

C: Yeah that was cool, it’s like a coffee house slash wine bar slash brewery slash record store.

J: Which is basically all the bases to cover.

Yeah that’s everything you need. Plus it’s Vegas, so…

J: Yeah we got to walk around, see the Bellagio, pretend we’re in Ocean’s Eleven.

C: Except, you know, we hadn’t just stolen a hundred and sixty four million dollars.

You can tell me if you have, I won’t tell anyone.

C: No, I mean I wish we had [laughter].

Anything else you would like to tell me/the world?

J: Check out the new album, it’s called Edges, it’s online, out now, bandcamp, iTunes, the works.

And you guys are continuing your tour?

J: Yeah this one wasn’t super long, we’re going… where are we going? Alabama on Saturday, then Cleveland…

C: Saturday morning we wake up early, Alabama, Cleveland and then we’re back.

J: We just pushed to radio, so the next couple weeks we’ll be doing that.

Playing at stations and shit?

C: We’re doing that, we’re playing a festival in Roanoke, and then the Florida Music Festival, and then between those it’s like every weekend we can we’re gonna be playing. And then a lot of radio stations.

Well that’s awesome, we’ll tune in to all those things. One last thing–can I get a selfie with you guys?

J: Yeah, sure!

C: Can we get one with you?

photo (2)

JOHN MARK NELSON: SWEATING IT OUT
March 28, 2016 2:20 pm

John Mark Nelson has just begun a tour, starting with shows at SXSW and followed by seven more weeks on the road. How does he do it? ATYPICAL SOUNDS intends to find out.

We had a nice chat with the Minneapolis-based musician in the delightfully air-conditioned St. David’s church in Austin to learn what keeps him going.

jmn

How’s your SXSW going so far?

JMN: It’s chaos. We got here yesterday. It’s going well, it just is what it is. And there’s nothing really in the world you can do to prepare.

I’ve been to music festivals before, but…

JMN: This is a special breed.

This is your second SXSW.

JMN: We came down two years ago. We skipped last year because we were kind of at a weird point in album releases where it didn’t really make sense to come all the way down here.

After this, you’re touring for another two months. How do you prepare for that?

JMN: I don’t think you can. So far, I’m doing well. You just throw everything you own into a couple of bags and hope for the best.

Is there anything you do to prepare mentally?

JMN: I’ve actually never done a tour of this length, so I don’t think there’s anything I could’ve done to prepare me. I feel like you have to take the whole trip, and not actually think about any of it, other than just that specific day. Like, “What do I have to do today?” and “How long is it until I sleep?” And then when I wake up, I think about the next day.

What is your average day on tour like?

JMN: It depends. SXSW is such a brutal beast. It’s like 9 or 10am to 2 or 3am every single day, out in the hot sun. So I think once we finish with SXSW, we’ll get into a little bit more of a semi-regular routine, where we have a 3 or 4 hour drive each day and nothing too crazy. And then we’ll play one show each night. Usually, we have three or four days on, and then a day off, so it’s not insane.

Has anything stood out to you about your most recent tour?

JMN: Two stories come to mind immediately; we did a little warm-up run right before this tour in Chicago. We got on the road from Minneapolis and one hour into the drive, I was driving, and the guy in the passenger seat yells “Pheasant!”, and two seconds later this giant pheasant explodes on the windshield. A lot of times, you see birds coming towards your car, but they always pull up at the last second, but this one did not make it. And just, bird explosion.

In terms of crazy audience stuff we had someone, a really intoxicated man, during one of our shows, trying to get me to take a nude inflatable blow-up doll.

And do what with it?

JMN: I don’t know, but I did not take the acknowledgement. He was really just holding it loud and proud. Big fellow, intoxicated, nude blow-up doll.

Is there anything you miss when you’re away from home?

JMN: I just really like being in Minnesota; it feels like home.

What’s there that’s important to you?

JMN: It’s hard to explain, really. But when you’re from the midwest, you kind of know what it is. It’s just that feeling of “This is where I’m from, this is where the people that I love are.” There’s always that element of home.

You released an album this past September. Are there any tracks you look forward to playing live, or any that got an especially good response?

JMN: It’s really fun as you create songs, to see how people react to them. Especially in a live setting when people haven’t heard them before. I feel like you can get a good gauge of a song based on the immediate reaction of people who have never heard it. And what they decide in the first minute or two really says a lot about the craft of the song. It’s been fun to watch people react. I think one that I really enjoy playing is called “That’s What You Do”, it’s the second to last track on the record, and we usually close our shows with it because it’s pretty high energy. It’s fun to see people dancing and clapping along, and I feel like if you can relax…I feel like when I go to a show I’m so analytical about it, and if a band can make me relax enough to have a good time, I feel like that’s due to the craft of their songwriting and their playing and I feel like if I see people doing that at a show of mine, I feel really grateful.

Have you found any new bands at SXSW that you like?

JMN: Tonight is actually our first showcase that we’re playing, and I got to hear the soundcheck of the girl who’s playing now, Aoife O’Donovan, she’s fantastic. I’d never heard of her before, but I think she’s from Brooklyn. So it’s really at events like this, where you’re loading in your gear and then sitting for 5-6 hours, where you really get to hear new bands. Usually, if I’m seeing stuff around the festival I’m deliberately going there to see people I want to check out or am already familiar with. But it’s when I’m playing with bands on the same bill that I get to discover new stuff.

Are there any bands in Minnesota you think deserve more recognition?

JMN: You know, the girl that plays keyboards in my band, her name’s Kara Laudon, and she’s a very very gifted songwriter, and she graciously takes time to play with me and tour with me, but she’s also a very gifted artist in her own right. She’s got a lot to give to the world, and I hope to see her make a big impact in the future.

You funded one of your last albums on Kickstarter. Did you expect that to work out so well?

JMN: I didn’t put a ton of thought into it, other than I had seen some other people do it. I thought it was worth trying, and then it raised way more money than I thought in a very short amount of time. It was fun. I don’t know if I’d ever do it again, but it was just a fun experience. It’s a very immediate and tangible acknowledgment when people care about what you do.

You’ve been releasing albums since 2011, but I feel like you’ve kind of maybe stayed under the radar a little bit. Do you enjoy being sort of mysterious? Because you’ve done a lot, you’ve recorded a lot.

JMN: It was not necessarily a deliberate effort to stay off the grid, so much as it was I was a really young guy when I started doing this and had no idea how to do it. I loved recording and songwriting, but I had no vision or plan for the career portion. So it really wasn’t until these last couple of records where I really started to think outwards. Getting the craft in and of itself is so rewarding and so fun that that was the reward.

Is it weird to have a team of people that you work for and with?

JMN: It’s weird, songwriting is so personal. It feels bizarre to have people invested in a monetary or fiscal business sense. It’s weird when you start to have really technical elements to what you do, like when you have a budget meeting for writing songs.

Does that take the enjoyment out of it at all?

JMN: It doesn’t, actually. I find it kind of energizing to think about my craft as any other business. When I wake up in the morning, some people drive to a job and sell things, and when I wake up in the morning I write songs. But it’s like a job, even though a lot of people probably don’t consider it a job.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of your SXSW?

JMN: I’m excited for tonight, I think it’s going to be great. We’ve been here for almost two days and haven’t played yet, so I’m ready to play.

So what have you been doing?

JMN: We’re staying at a five or six bedroom Arabian horse ranch outside of Austin, so we’ve just been hanging out and cooking meals together, riding the train to the city.

Not riding horses?

JMN: Not riding horses, I don’t want to damage anything on a two-month tour. Just hanging out, walking around, seeing bands. I went to like five or six events today, so it’s a chance to network and encourage people around you. We have a bunch of Minneapolis friends around here, and I want to go and support them. It’s a good chance to participate in the bigger picture of music. SXSW is kind of a chance to participate in where music as a whole is going.

What about the rest of the year? You’re touring until April and then sleeping for a week?

JMN: We’re actually touring until the first week of May, so we’re three or four days into almost eight weeks on the road. I get home in May, I’ll be home a couple of weeks, and then I’m leaving for Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington state, which is going to be awesome. It’s Alabama Shakes, and Leon Bridges, and Sufjan Stevensetc. I’m currently in the process of working with a European agent, so I might be doing some solo stuff there in the fall. I’d like to get back into the studio this fall, as well. I have almost a whole record ready to go again. It’ll be the fifth, which is starting to sound excessive.

Which venue has the best green room?

JMN: I thought Brooklyn Bowl was pretty sweet. The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis is pretty great; you can make your own tea and coffee, and there’s a record player and a selection of old vinyl. There’s nice couches and it’s not in a basement, which is nice.

Any last words before you go on tonight?

JMN: Pray for us on the road.

SXSW SPOTLIGHT ON: LENA FAYRE
March 18, 2016 11:38 am

When listening to Oko, Lena Fayre’s debut album, for the first time, I did a lot of giggling. She’s 19 and is already brimming with all this talent, so I really don’t know what to do other than laugh because of how good she is. I refer to this as the Steph Curry Giggle for obvious reasons.

Fayre gets those SCGs out of me because, similar to the Davidson product, her range seems to be limitless. In her earlier work, she was able to show off her pop star impression on “Love Burning Alive”, which has everything a great pop song needs: strong vocals, a catchy hook and a heavy handed innuendo pertaining to sex. All of it came easy to her.

On Oko, Fayre wisely slows things down and focuses on opening up her entire tool chest to get it to work in her favor. ‘The Tiger’s Bride” shifts from delicate to powerful seamlessly in a stripped down effort. For the most part, the instrumentals are buoyed by a single patch of drums, and with that, she’s still able to make a booming chorus that’s catchy.

By opting to go minimal, the structure of the song, or its sonic accompaniment isn’t what’s being focused on. It’s a wise move that puts Fayre’s dynamic voice as the engine of the song instead of just an alternator (I needed to call my cousin who works with cars in order to complete this clunky metaphor). On “Ophelia”, her voice conducts the song’s pace. The piano compliments her timid moments perfectly, and when she builds up to a moment, the strings soar with her. 

The moments of overt liveliness isn’t as prominent compared to her EPs, but they’re each more well deserved while fitting to the flow of the album. “Games” has a droney dance floor vibe that makes everything appear to be going in slow motion. And the all over the place glitchy paradise that is “Intimacy Is Me” is a true gem. Neither have the directness of her earlier work, but it works more effectively because of the intimacy that surrounds this entire record.

Lena Fayre is only going to get bigger and better, seeing how she’s only 19 and has already gotten the modern day sultry R&B style down to a tee already. I’m expecting to do plenty more Steph Curry giggles at her music in the future. It’s why we’re excited for her to be performing at our SXSW this year…….TODAY! If you’re in town for the festivities, be sure to check us out at Darwin’s Pub. We’re kicking ass there all day from 11:30AM-6:00PM.

And if you’re not in Texas and still unsure about who Steph Curry is at this point, please watch a Golden State Warriors game for christ’s sake.

SXSW SPOTLIGHT ON: RONY’S INSOMNIA
March 17, 2016 11:17 am

Rony’s Insomnia is the female fronted and hybridized alternative rock project of local New Yorker and native Israeli Rony Corcos and company. Rony’s Insomnia, who will take to stage at 11:30 a.m. this Friday at the Beasts’ SXSW showcase in Austin, is a powerful symbol of feminine might and creative expression. With their cerebral blend of modern technology, intelligently employed effects, and traditional jazz-rock core, Rony’s insomnia creates a wall of sound that is sure to please both the punk-alternative enthusiast and the more refined musical tastes.

Rony’s knowledgeable production background is evident in their highly sophisticated set, while her Mediterranean Middle-Eastern roots can be heard in an almost ancient background whisper. Be prepared for lots of pedals and an impressive display of female vocals. The talented display can be heard on 2014’s well received Count to Ten EP.

With a new and improved line-up featuring Ben Fitterman on Bass and Colin Taylor on drums, Rony’s Insomnia is set to make their unique presence felt at this years Southby celebration. If you can’t make it down this year, be sure to see them at their upcoming New York dates, or catch them on the road this spring.

STILL CORNERS LIVES
February 1, 2016 12:10 am

When a band goes more than two years without releasing anything, their fans begin to worry. Or worse, forget. That’s why it was something of a Christmas miracle when Still Corners released the single “Horses at Night” at the end of 2015. It was their first release since their 2013 LP Strange Pleasures and well worth the wait. I’m pleased to announce that Still Corners is very much alive.

To commemorate the occasion, ATYPICAL SOUNDS had a nice chat with writer/producer Greg Hughes and vocalist Tessa Murray.

You released a new single, “Horses at Night”, at the beginning of December. Is this in anticipation of a new album?

TM: We wanted to put something out before 2015 ended, we had just finished that song and thought yeah, let’s put this out. It’s not on our next record and was just a one-off really.

Will there be a tour in 2016? Any U.S. dates? How about SXSW?

TM: Yes we’re planning some SXSW shows and a new tour as we speak.

You toured with Chvrches in 2013. Are there any experiences on that tour that stood out to you?

GH: There were tons of people at the shows, lots of great cities. I remember driving through New Mexico, just seeing this massive expansive flat desert with mini-tornadoes everywhere, appearing then disappearing as we drove. We spent a lot of time in our van. Nothing like waking up on your friend’s armpit, just in time for sound-check. I just remember having my imagination rejuvenated more than anything else.

Tessa, you sang in choirs before moving to singing with Still Corners. What was it like to make that jump? Was there anything that surprised you about singing with a band?

TM: To suddenly be standing in front of a huge drum kit and guitar amps and synthesizers took some getting used to. I didn’t really have any idea what it would be like, but we hit our groove. The feeling you get after a performance is similar though, it’s a big high when you come off stage and know that the audience was into it.

What are your favorite venues in London? Are there any parties or club nights you’d recommend?

GH: Bush Hall is great. For larger shows the Barbican and Shepherd’s Bush. Any night at Cafe Oto.

Greg, what advice can you give for someone in the U.S. who is looking to move to London? What was it like for you when you first moved there? Scary? Fun?

GH: When I first arrived my mind was blown; I needed a new mind after that. My advice is to do it all. Ask around for a cheap room, rent is high. Bask in the glory that is the National Health Service and never worry again about convoluted over-priced healthcare. Drink pints often. Get rid of your car, you won’t need it.

Are there any foods from your native Texas that you wish they had in London? What have been your favorite foods in the U.K.?

GH: Proper Mexican food, but there isn’t proper Indian food in Austin. You can’t win.

Be on the Lookout for Still Corners in 2016.

LITERATURE IS TURNING JAPANESE
December 15, 2015 8:00 am

If you haven’t heard Chorus, the LP from Philadelphia-based band Literature, you’re missing out. It’s everything that’s right about pop music. And we’re not the only ones who think so, either; in 2016, Kevin Attics, Nathaniel Cardaci, Seth Whaland, and Chris Schackerman are being sent to Japan to spread the love and wreak some havoc.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS snagged some quality time with Nate and Seth, and found out what they’re looking forward to most.

You’re traveling to Japan next year. How did that happen?

We’re still in the planning stages, but it’s looking like we’ll be there for a week or so. Playing a couple shows in Tokyo & then some in surrounding cities. None of us have ever been so we’re just looking forward to learning more about Japan and eating amazing food and butchering their language.

This came about because this rad label in Japan called Waterslide Records offered to put out [Literature album] Arab Spring on CD. They then also released Chorus on CD. Both have at least once track that the US versions don’t have, to make it a little more special. But yeah, we’ve been working with Kazu from Waterslide for a while now and are very excited to meet him!

While in Japan, is there anything you’d like to hit during your free time? Can I suggest visiting the Moomin Cafe?

You can suggest that! I think you just did. It looks like this place is an anti-loneliness bar? We might visit that place, but we certainly won’t be lonely! We’re planning on having a decent entourage with us on this trip. For instance, Chris Reject from Square of Opposition Records is supposed to join us for the trip. We don’t usually enjoy his company, but perhaps in another country he’ll be more tolerable.

You also have a split 7” with Expert Alterations. How did you get involved with them?

They set up one of the most fun shows we have ever played – Baltimore Popfest! We’ve been close friends with Expert Alterations, Wildhoney, Post Pink and other Baltimore folks ever since we met them there. Why’re Baltimore folks so great? Probably all the Natty Boh

literature-slumberland You toured with Expert Alterations over the summer, as well. Do you have any memories of the tour that stand out to you?

YES! Something amazing happened. The first show of tour was in DC, which we’ve only played once before, and this woman came up after the show and asked if Chorus had a lyric sheet because she’d previously only listened to the record on Spotify. We couldn’t remember if the CD version had a lyric sheet or not so we checked (spoiler: it does!). She then revealed that she’d WRITTEN HER OWN VERSION OF THE LYRICS AS SHE HEARD THEM. She e-mailed them to us. It was a good effort and very endearing, but they were way wrong. It was really fun for us to read her version of the lyrics. It was also a high compliment that she did that, which of course is always nice.

Your live performances are fun to watch, as they tend to be pretty high-energy. Which bands do you think put on the best live performance? 

People can be good at performing in so many different ways. Nate thinks an Austin band performing these days that is really good is Big Bill. Seth loved playing with The Shivers during CMJ in New York last year because Keith (the principal member) is so intense when he plays. And the other two dudes aren’t here while we’re answering these questions so I’ll guess for them. Kevin probably loves The Spook School because they’re just a great pop band and that drummer is so goofy. Chris would perhaps say The Drums because I know he loves them!

Kevin used to write for music publications as a teen. What do you think drew him to do that, when many of your peers were probably drinking under an overpass in their free time?

Kevin was under a different overpass playing covers of Smashing Pumpkins songs. And he definitely didn’t know enough nerdy musicians IRL, that’s why he was writing to/with/for them. He may or may not approve this answer, but I think it’s fairly accurate. 

Your band biography mentions that Kevin, Nate, and Seth have worked at various times to operate a venue in Austin, TX and run small imprint labels before forming Literature in Philadelphia, PA. Can you talk about what goes into those ventures? Also, what prompted the move to Philadelphia?

We’ve all tried to help support the music scene and be supportive of other folks and their creative pursuits. What goes in to that stuff? Time and money and fun! Seth is doing a small vinyl label again called Keeled Scales. Kevin is setting up a lot of shows in Philadelphia, more in the traditional venue scene than in the house venue scene which we were more involved with at the beginning in Austin. 

As for Philly – Nate & Seth are originally from the Lehigh Valley, PA so it was a return to some of our roots. It also allowed us to play in cities other than Austin! As fun as Austin is, there isn’t a whole lot going on within a days drive from there. But from Philadelphia we could easily play NYC & Baltimore & Bethlehem, etc.

Is there anything planned for you between now and Japan?

We’re playing a wedding in January but none of y’all are invited. Hopefully album #3, but that is still in the writing stages.