VICE

POP ETC GETS DOWN IN TOKYO
August 29, 2016 11:13 am

As  summertime rolls around, artists travel around the globe to perform at the biggest music festival. It’s about time a New York native band come perform in Tokyo, and POP ETC finally made their way halfway across the world to bring their American indie-rock vibes. They were actually in Japan not even a year ago, but who cares? They’re rad, and they deserve to be back as many times they want.

Some of you may know POP ETC from the The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 2 soundtrack (ha!). Some others may have seen them supporting big time indie musicians like The Black Keys, Death Cab for Cutie and The Kooks. Either way their music blurs the lines between indie pop and indie rock, sitting just in between those two genres. They create music that makes you want to chill with a beer in hand, but also wave your hands in the air and dance at the same time.

Their show in Tokyo was surprisingly filled with an unusual mix of fans ranging from young females in late teens to middle aged business men. And like any other show in Japan, people watched them quietly, showing major respect to the band and their music. I was surprised with front man Chris’ fluency of Japanese – who knew! Because of that, the band members were able to connect with the audience on a whole other level. I was amazed to see the lack of phones in the crowd, trying to record precious videos of the show on their iPhones so they can upload it on their social media. Literally nobody. Nobody had their phones or selfie sticks (thank goodness) out which made this show an even more superb experience. We’re hoping they’ll be back again sometime soon, but if you’re in the big apple, don’t miss their next gig!

Want to know more about POP ETC? Click here to check out our exclusive interview with them.

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PARIS IN TURMOIL WITH THE EAGLES OF DEATH METAL
December 3, 2015 1:20 am

We’ve all heard the news, whether from a friend, our televisions or the Internet. No matter how we realized the event had happened, we were all truly heart broken. To know many music lovers, musicians, entrepreneurs and families lost not only their lives but people they loved as well, was devastatingly tragic.

On November 13th, 2015 a series of attacks took place throughout France. Three shooters entered The Bataclan Theatre and immediately started  shooting around an hour into the Eagles of Death Metal’s set. There were said to have been 89 deaths in the venue with an additional 368 sustaining injuries. Among those killed was the band’s merchandise manager, Nick Alexander. The attacks were also said to have been a retaliation against France for it’s air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. ISIS claimed responsibility and France launched its biggest air strike in response, just two days following the atrocious attacks against Paris. Among all of the chaos and victims were the band themselves.  Though EODM co-founder Joshua Homme was not present, this interview with VICE shows how heavily both he and the members that were there that night were effected by this tragedy. Watch below.

 

VICE interviewed them just over a week after the attack, and gained insight as to what happened in many different areas of the building as the band and their fans fought for their lives. This interview also takes the glamour out of speaking with a highly regarded band and exposes the vulnerability that comes with being thrown into such a hostile and terrifying situation. That is something we don’t see in the music community as often as we think. It brings humility to the music scene, and forces us to sympathize with these guys just from knowing their first-row points of view of the attacks.

After watching this, the thing that will stick with me indefinitely is that most lives were lost because they were practicing humility the best they could; by blocking friends or simply not leaving them behind. Such a tragically beautiful fact and idea; that we can protect one another even in such harrowing situations. The band members present during the attack were Jesse Hughes, Matt McJunkins, Eden Galindo, Julian Dorio, and their sound engineer Shawn London. These men tell their versions of the brutal attack that occurred that night in the very different sequences dependent on their position on stage and who was around. The band explains first-hand just how terrifying this was. Then you hear Josh Homme’s version and his feelings on the subject.  It is stated by Jesse Hughes in the interview that Josh was likely the first person in the world to truly know what had happened because of the real time connection to the band.  It is clear to see on their faces how thankful they are to be alive today and how devastated for their fans family’s and friends for those lost.

The important thing about this band- especially in the context of this event- is that they stand up for the music. This attack not only hit close to home in terms of our nation’s allies, but also in our most sacred, regarded safe place; the music scene. The place where adults, teenagers, kids get to listen to the music that holds them together. The place that people around the globe get to be in the same physical room as their biggest heroes.  Music is a powerful thing, and I commend The Eagles of Death Metal for powering forward for those victims. The Eagles of Death Metal is an American band founded by Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme in 1998.

It’s very important to me that they were there because since ATYPICAL SOUNDS thrives in Brooklyn, NY, most of us have seen this band grow from the ground up.  EODM handled this situation with such grace and humility, showing the world that love and solidarity is what will overwhelm violence. That we should never give up, but not harm others in the process. We cannot be afraid, we have to show the people who initiated and facilitated these attacks that we are not afraid.

Once this interview was made public, tons of my friends were sharing it on Facebook. I won’t even lie, I cried. Everyone had heavy hearts. Most importantly though, everyone agreed with continuing to pursue their love of music with as much passion and strength and love as we have ever had before. We won’t be scared; it was like a universal chant for love, strength and solidarity. We will not back down; music is in all of our souls and it showed very frequently in the comments, shares and conversations that this was a global thought.

As music enthusiasts here at Atypical, the Beasts know it is our way of life, not only an interest we share with all of you. We all know the joy and love of being in the crowd, soaking up the energy and soul that reverberates off the walls, and many of us know that connection from onstage just as well. This news hit us pretty hard considering we spend a massive amount of our time at shows, and this could have been anyone we know. But most importantly it was everyone that we know, we are all a family.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS offers our deepest condolences to all of the victims and their families, and we hope that through continuing to strive for local music scenes to thrive and keeping touring bands moving, we can help bring hope to those feeling discouraged about music because of these attacks. Josh Homme’s Sweet Stuff Foundation is currently raising money for the victims of the Paris attacks. All donations received before December 31 will go to the families of those who lost their lives while indulging in their passions.

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Artist of the Month: Lena Fayre
September 4, 2015 2:02 pm

Lena Fayre isn’t some ordinary teenager out there. This 19 year old singer-songwriter from LA has already established herself as a talented pop musician among the indie music scene, West coast to East coast. She’s already caught Rolling Stone’s attention who described her music as “an angst-filled afternoon spent lip-syncing into a hairbrush.” People have been raving over her ‘darkwave’ Lorde-esque voice, which explain her millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify.

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Her latest EP ‘Is There Only One?’ captures her emotional journey through her romantic loss. It’s a full compilation of songs showing “sadness, regret, bitterness and, finally, a shaky truce.” According to Lena, Instagram had played a big role in her past relationship, hence the cover art is basically a photo of her on Instagram showing a photo of her ex’s current girlfriend, who apparently gave an ‘ok’ to be on the cover. Talk about awkwardness! At least she was able to get inspiration and deliver some great tunes to the world, right? “I don’t want to lessen the meaning that this music has for me by like putting a pretty picture on my face on the EP.” Looks like she wants to lay everything out in the open by keeping things real. You go girl!

She describes her sound as “deconstructed pop”, pulling elements from a variety of pop singers who inspired her throughout childhood. In an interview with Austin Underground, she says “Pop has certain elements and I like to use those elements but in a different way and not feel that I have to fit in a certain genre, but I can use a pop aesthetic and pop sounds and kind of use it to my advantage in whatever way I want. Deconstructed pop just means I have a minimalist sound, but I can [still] use those elements.”
As someone who grew up in the same generation as her, I can relate to her pop music influences from the 90’s and early 00’s including Gwen Stefani, The Veronicas, and Evanescence. “Vocally, I got a lot of my style from Evanescence. The lead singer Amy Lee – I listened to her a lot growing up, and that genre of music so, kind of how she uses her voice as an instrument. I had never realized that that was a thing, that you can manipulate your voice and train it to do whatever you want. So [I] kind of listening to her at an early age [and] set the tone for how I’d use my voice now.” 

There is no mystery as to why Lena Fayre is our Artist Of The Month.  Now we get bragging rights that we were rocking with her before she was hugely famous.  Hey Lena, we see you.

 

Us Versus…Us? The VICE Dilemma
March 15, 2015 6:05 pm

Last fall, staple Brooklyn music and art venue Glasslands announced that they would be closing doors on New Year’s Day 2015 as a result of being denied a lease renewal at 289 Kent Avenue. Nearby venue Death By Audio was also among the allegedly displaced businesses. Both venues served as a catalyst for major change throughout the 2000s on the Williamsburg waterfront.

These are the people who originally shared this space with real-deal drug dealers and had to “earn their stripes” in the neighborhood the old fashioned way: drinking dollar beers in abandoned tax centers and looking over their shoulders on the walk home. These are the people who found acts like MGMT, TV On The Radio, Tame Impala and Alt-J, and showed them to us. These are the people responsible for the cultural revolution that VICE Magazine made billions of dollars reporting on.

P1040300-1024x768In July 2014, VICE Media announced they would be moving into a 70 thousand square foot battery of warehouses on the Williamsburg waterfront, after 13 years at their previous Brooklyn location. The project is valued at an estimated 7 million dollars, according to The New York Times. At face value, this would appear to follow suit with the last decade of gentrification on and around Bedford Avenue, if not for the indie music landmarks being displaced by the media giant.

Founded in 1994 in Montreal by soon-to-be CEO Shane Smith, VICE was originally a free indie music zene campaigning to be “the voice of Montreal.” The company relocated to Brooklyn in 2001 while it was briefly under the ownership of Canadian software millionaire Richard Szalwinski. Smith reacquired ownership following the end of the dotcom boom.

Through the early and mid 2000s, the company was widely viewed as the face of the hip and progressive new culture of Brooklyn–publishing some of the grittiest and politically incorrect stories and documentaries that nobody knew they wanted to see. From punks to rockers to club kids, VICE was the voice of an alternative generation for the better part of the last decade. In essence, the brand was built on the backs of the original indie underdogs from places like Brooklyn, and more specifically, the emerging Williamsburg cultural marketplace.

Enter commercial success.

vice-williamsburgThe past few years of unchained success have yielded partnerships with entertainment conglomerates like 21st Century Fox, HBO, and CNN, just to name a few. This, combined with 36 new bureau locations spanning over five continents, has skyrocketed the company’s net worth to over $2.5 billion.

But has it all gone to their head? Have they stayed true to the original vision they had as kids sitting at a crappy pre-Apple computer in a Canadian garage, or have they already taken the plunge into the dark abyss of commercial capitalism, spoon-feeding the masses pseudo-documentaries and biased news that promote their partners’ private enterprises? Unfortunately, the latter is already becoming a reality for the brand, online and via HBO, under the label “sponsored content.”

Meanwhile, we’re losing more iconic indie music venues by the minute. According to FADER:

It’s believed that Glassland’s closing may have something to do with their South 2nd and Kent neighbors, VICE. A source, who has asked to remain anonymous, tells us that the deep-pocketed media company has plans to level the block and build a multi-story office tower, adorned with a big neon sign, beckoning out toward the East River so that it’s visible to anyone crossing into Brooklyn over the Williamsburg Bridge.

So what does this Rupert Murdoch-backed company have to say about displacing their smaller neighbors? Very little, apparently. The only person who has gone on the record in any detail is the real-estate broker who set the whole deal up.

Drew Connor worked with Sol and Leo Markowitz, owners of two connected buildings at 49 South 2nd Street, the original headquarters for Domino Sugar, and 285 Kent Avenue. He told The Commercial Observer this winter that he “believed the space at these addresses was not fulfilling its post-gentrification potential, especially given the scarcity of commercial space available in the area.”

That’s where things took a turn for the worst:

Though the brothers had tenants that embodied the area’s creative bent, including popular music venue Death By Audio, Genius Media, Windmill Studios, indieScreen and Brooklyn Bowl, Mr. Conner envisioned the sizable space meeting Vice’s specific and difficult-to-achieve needs.

All it would take was the Markowitz brothers agreeing to simultaneously terminate the existing leases, empty the properties and create a full space the right size for Vice.

If VICE’s mission was once to be the face of a progressive new generation and culture, that is clearly not the case anymore. A media conglomerate more than a revolutionary news source, more capitalist than community-oriented, VICE is well on the path to completely undoing the work of its earlier iterations.

Why would VICE do something so contradictory to their mission? It’s not surprising. It happens all the time. Gentrification has taken its strangling hold on Williamsburg, and there may never be a way out. The question is, where do your loyalties lie?