Interview: Sound Locking With Katie Gately

27 Oct 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

The atmospheric sounds of a dentist's office are comparable to the metallicity and searing audio mutations of Katie Gately's work. Her new movement, "Pivot," out on Fat Cat October 27th as a part of the Split 12" Series, displays the usual Gately melodies which lead listeners to unexpected places while being followed by surreal lyrics and indiscernible buzzing that originated with Gately singing into her at home studio microphone. Around eight minutes into the track, we are left alone to some dissonant timpani-sounding drum being struck at a rate that reminds me of the ticking of a giant universal clock, before medieval vocal cadence enters, followed by all kinds of silly blaring horns and rhythmic banter. Just let it suck you in.

Since the FC Split 12" Series focuses on emerging artists, and because we've been interested in Katie's style for some years, I felt that this elevation would be a great opportunity to sit down with the artist and pick her brain. As it turns out, Katie is a friendly, funny, and exceedinly cunning individual. Here's our conversation held via Skype chat.

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We really need to get you to Berlin for CTM or something!

Oh yeah CTM invited me last year! They are so nice but I'm not a performer, more a studio person. I really aspire to be in the studio twenty hours a day!

Are you in the studio right now?

Yeah I am at home, just working around the clock on some music as I have a week off from more film editing [and bill] paying duties.

It must feel good, though, to do artistic clockwork.

Yes, when it is going well! most of what I spend time on though is the technical tweaking which isn't very artistic but it's good to get in those 10,000 hours!

Do you always decline playing live?

Yeah I've declined to play for everyone - my focus is the studio. After being at USC, the most important thing I learned was to identify my goals and stick to them and not get distracted even if there is pressure to. Does that make sense? I have a few records that are so time-consuming to make and with no budget and no help. All I have is my own slave labor to push myself along!

That does make sense, and I feel like it's a very self-respecting rule to have with oneself.

I listen to a lot of Aretha Franklin.

And this is where the whole "I feel like a cave dweller" bit comes from, right?

The cave part blows…so now I try on/off weeks instead of months at a time. Just dig in like crazy for a few solid days and then retreat a bit (get some sun!).

Sun is very important, and those shadows in the cave can start to get freaky! The world of seeing live music is so poignantly different than private listening. Similarly, the act of performing music really has nothing to do with the act of writing and tinkering with music in the private sphere, in the studio, because the latter doesn't involve performing. People still think the ultimate music experience has to be a live one. What do you think? And do you have any feelings about performance in general?

Yeah I completely agree. Performance blows me away but I also think of it as using a different part of the brain. I am more prone to listen to records (I cannot afford to see live music or movies or anything these days….loans!) Since I trained in film….I'm also just prone to think of sound as fixed and "locked." Literally, when you finish editing you say "picture lock" and "sound lock." So I draft and draft and edit and edit and do pass after pass until I'm done. Then, I honestly never want to hear my music again! I spent insane amount of time hearing it loop and loop as I mix!

Oh interesting! That's how a lot of people feel about writing, and once they submit/publish, they don't want to see it again, or maybe they're even scared to read it because they're brain will go back into editing mode or something. I mean that's how writing my thesis was for me. I'm trying to reengage with it, but I still can't get passed page three of the introduction.

Yes! I've always felt that what I'm actually doing is writing. Or editing in the same way a writer self-edits. Just because there are no instruments. Watching someone play an instrument is totally beautiful and mysterious to me. It's obviously the normal/sane way to make music, but I just can't play anything beside the computer and assortment of weird plug-ins. I have a friend doing her PhD right now and we find millions of parallels between trying to structure a record and writing a huge essay like a dissertation. It's a nightmare! But a self-inflicted joyous and indulgent one totally worth the effort.

So you said that, for you, sound is a rather fixed medium, one that you lock and save. Does that rule out other observations about sound being as fluent as water, spooky, and fleeting?

No! I don't rule out anything! I've just found this one way of making music to be right for me as a solo producer. I know it will morph and change. It's just where I'm at now, still a bit of a beginner with making tunes after all.

The process is still fluent, but the process at this point entails that the sounds you record and edit are to be contained and perceived as fixed? That's a weird half question.

Yeah, coming up with ideas is fluent - anything goes – then when I finish a song, because I make everything via editing techniques (no midi controller, no real-time singing but heavily processed voice-as-effect) it's just literally beyond me how I'd perform this kind of stuff! My computer crashes all the time because of the CPU i'm hogging to process this way you know? Imagine me live. I'd need three computers and like ten people helping me! it's totally worth exploring for sure….it's just that i have zero time! I am trying to work in film and make records and it's already like 90 hrs of work a week.

I totally just had an image of that being your live set. It'd be so trippy omg – instead of backing musicians you'd have a back up tech support choir moving around you while you sing and splice the real-time.

I just hope I live until I'm really old so I can do everything I want to do. That's my constant anxiety. Like 'please don't let me get the first case of Ebola in LA so I can release these six songs first. Then give me Ebola! I don't care!'

Aww you'll be fine! I want to back up again to something you just said – you feel like a writer though you're a producer. Virginia Woolf, who was a massive music listener, who took listening and representations of listening to a new level, famously wrote that she "pens to a rhythm," and that she felt like her novels were movements of music. Have you ever come away with any inspirations from reading VW, and do you think that crossing media (writing fiction like it's music, producing music like it's fiction or polemical), is especially important nowadays?

I remember falling in love with VW at a very young age and then well, I found out she killed herself (alongside a disturbing number of the people I've found so moving!). I wrote much more as a kid than music...I didn't make music at all. Reading was such a huge part of my childhood. Sometimes I think it's those earlier memories than most seeped into my mind and changed me – that awe at someone building an independent universe and just with text and structure!

So awesome, yes. Microcosmic construction.

Yeah I liked that she would spend obsessive amounts of time on a single sentence. I relate to that deeply. It's not even an aspiration for getting something "right" for the reader but just getting it right in the sense that it perfectly communicates something specific about how you feel. I don't know if there is even a difference. Her and Kafka and Herman Hesse were my favorites. Also, duh, Nancy Drew books. I read 100 Nancy Drew books. She was a cute little role model. I'm pretty sure all those books were ghost written and formulaic to a T but comforting for a little kid.

Holy smokes there totally is! Curating how you want your work to be for yourself is utterly different than making things as clear and stiff as possible for faceless readers. VW wrote about that, too. Do you have any thoughts on the popularity of synaesthesia/intermedialty in art nowadays?

Gosh I don't know much about that – do you mean the self-diagnosis of it? Or an intentional practice of bringing this into artwork and music?

I guess more diagnosis, and seeing it in other artworks too – what has accelerated its popularity?

Haha, I don't know. Self-obsession? There are a lot of gluten allergies in LA. I tend to veer away from diagnosis and categories just as a knee-jerk bias.

Labels, categories, contagions.

Yeah they're so comforting but often just not even remotely accurate. My brother the other day asked how I'd describe my music and I said 'I have no clue. listen to it and decide for yourself. I'm just as likely as anyone else to totally describe it incorrectly!' It's not easy describing things. Thus, this is why I did become a writer!

That anecdote reminds me again of how superficial the uses of categorizing are – it's just for short answers and explanations.

As long as someone doesn't compare me to Lil Wayne or something I'm like 'oh I can see how that description makes sense' – ha! it's incredibly hard to talk about abstract art (i.e. music and sound are literally invisible to the eyes!)

Exactly! That brings me to the next question: I usually like to ask artists what their aural, as opposed to musical, influences are; but, since your work is already quite abstract, broken, and heavily coded, I want to ask what your musical influences are, as they are not very evident in the music. Besides Aretha Franklin.

[At this point we go off on a long tangent about sonic torture and Satan and Katie doesn’t end up responding to this generic question which I respect]

Hey how was the dentist?

Oh, great. I wish I could go every day. The dentist is like fun to me. I wish I could afford weekly bone scraping and feel newborn every day.

You like the sounds of the facility? Have you ever had an MRI?

Yes i love the sounds! Servos are beautiful. I have had an MRI and I was furious nobody warned me how incredible it sounded because I did not have a recorder with me! One of my biggest sound regrets and sadnesses. I guess will have to get injured again soon.

Haha, 'sound regrets.'

I try to be zen about it like 'don't become attached to things. it's all good' but I am essentially lying to myself when I do this. Just hard to carry a recorder at every moment.

Are you attached to sounds? Love at first listen?

Yes for sure. Some get made out of nothing, they start dull and then surprise me (it is so exciting when it happens). Others are like heart-stopping and just just draw-dropping out of the gate. And then there are childhood sounds which have a whole other comfort and association.

Can you give me an example of a childhood sound?

Oh damn, I walked right into that one! Let's see…well the sound of my childhood bathtub when you turn it on. It makes this crazy hyena wailing sound because the pipes are from like the 1800s or maybe even earlier! Also we owned a really old stool…my parents furniture growing up was like very very creaky and old! And we had a stool that when you stood up…the sound of it scraping against the wood floor was almost like a whale bellowing in pain or something. So dramatic! Especially with reverb.

So childhood sounds that remind us of wildlife, all contained within the walls your childhood home?

Yeah things that feel too exceptional to be from the mouth of something so mundane! Sort of teaches you to not judge a books by its cover!

One more thing super duper important: Do you know your astrology at all?

I don't at all! I am a Cancer though, which always sounded like such a bummer. But crabs are cute (and sassy!). 

***

Fat Cat Split 12" Series #23 with Katie Gately and Tlaotlon is out now and you can order it here.

DoublePlusGood “You Can Remaster Life” Remix EP (exclusive)

16 Oct 2014 — Henry Schiller

DoublePlusGood are a pop group from Portland, Oregon, and last month they released their first album in three years, You Can Master Life, on SoHiTek Records. Now, the group has collected some of their best Portland music pals to remix four tracks from the album for an EP titled – perhaps cleverly, certainly playfully, and maybe even a little bit obviously – You Can Remaster Life. You can listen to the exclusive stream of the EP after the jump.

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The four track EP, which has remixes from The Ocean Floor, Purse Candy, Daniel Rafn, and Apache Jackson, serves well as both an appetite whetter for DoublePlusGood (have you ever knowingly listened to a remix and not wondered what the original song sounded like?) and an excellent parting gift for anyone who’s already spent some time with the original album. Perhaps most importantly, however, You Can Remaster Life is a pretty solid showcase of Portland's sonically diverse underground pop talent.

The Ocean Floor has turned “Words Fall Asleep” into a summer shower of electronic resonance. Singer Eric Carlson’s voice is like the doomed ghost wandering tepidly through the mist that springs up from the ground
And then something drops, the bass starts a riccochetting attack. Purse Candy’s remix of “Never The Same” is the highlight of the EP. A sensual, mid-80s 'come back to me track' that combines glistening 1999 era Prince-style synths with a sweat drenched nod to something like Blood Orange’s signature smooth-wave. Apache Jackson’s “K$ing 4 A Dxy” remix fades a repeating vocal part in and out, mounted on the back of some ancient emperor's bass-heavy funeral march. The mostly instrumental track plays off of a Spirit of Eden style horn motif and endearingly clumsy electric keyboard. The effect is that the song is warped into a piece of self-referential nostalgia; a forlorn recapitulation of its earlier incarnation.

DoublePlusGood bassist and singer Eric Carlson emailed me earlier this week to share his thoughts on the remix EP:

“We wanted to get a remix project together for a while, since we have so many insanely talented friends from a variety of production styles. I'm always a fan of handing over complete creative control to someone, so its been really fun to hear what direction they took these songs. Remixes can run the risk of straying too far from source material, or sticking too close and I think our friends have done us good!I love how Daniel Rafn takes mainly the chorus and sorta rewrites his own song with "Are You Listening", Ocean Floor recasts the baseline from "Words Fall Asleep" as a twinkling melodic embellishment. Also Purse Candy adds the biggest breakdown we've ever had in our music! These are the kind of alterations that make a remix record so fun, and we're totally thrilled with what everyone has done.”

The best (anddefinitely most surprising) thing about this remix EP is its coherence. The artists who are remixing these songs have each molded their assigned tracks into their own musical offspring. Each artist feels suited to the track they’ve remixed, and the flow of the original album is not lost in the haze of four competing voices.

You can stream the entire EP right here:

 

Recap: Decibel 2014

15 Oct 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

While studying Sadie Plant's brilliant Zeroes + Ones, I came across her interpretation of how net programming and social media are rearranging our uses for hierarchical structures. Plant establishes that hypertext is a non-linear, weaved form of footnoting. By surfing the net and following hyperlinks, one does not abandon a main text but instead is presented a macrocosmic idea and its backing details in a more spiraling way. Such easy-access cross-referencing has begun to lessen our thinking rectangularly, limited to the edges of the page.

Hypertext programs and the Net are webs of footnotes without central points, organizing principles, hierarchies.... Such complex patterns of cross-referencing have become increasingly possible, and also crucial to dealing with the floods of data which have burst the banks of traditional modes of arranging and retrieving information and are now leaking through the covers of articles and books, seeping past the boundaries of the old disciplines, overflowing all the classifications and orders of libraries, schools, and universities (Plant 10).

If hypertext is another form of narrational text and editing protocol, it is safe to say that telling the same story through a different lens, or sending the same information through a different grid, is indeed informative as well as expansive. Undoing the straight and narrow, single-strand perception as the standard doesn't only benefit our experiences as perceptual beings; it also speaks to the circularity and mysticism radiating off of the internet, which is being absorbed by this eager stage of cultural history.

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This year's Seattle Decibel Festival incidentally offered such evolved and altered referential structure. The Experience Music Project (EMP), located at the Seattle Center, directly below, or next to, the Space Needle, served as the main ticketing and showcase hub. Arriving at the EMP and remembering the time I had been there before, I started recollecting the available exhibitions in the museum, contemplating how neat it is to have so much live, innovative, and passionate electronic music within the corridors of a museum incidentally focused on rock music.

The reason for emphasis on rock music and guitar worship is quite simply due to the non-profit museum's dedication to popular culture. Unanimously, guitars have played a huge role in shaping said culture. The museum also houses a notable sci-fi exhibit, in which we find reverent Dr. Who props and Sean Young's neo-gothic dress from her entrance as Rachel in Blade Runner. Since Star Wars, fantasy and sci-fi genres and styles have immersed themselves somewhat sustainably into the mainstream; but a larger part of sci-fi will always lie out on the outer limits, for it must have that element of unknown in order to generate dreams, or fantasy, of what will be.

Electronic music, gear tinkering, and the mystical futurism evoked by these hyper-creative soundscapes and oftentimes non-linear song structures, are the perfect links for tying together celebrating innovation in music and sci-fi mentality. In other words, housing dB primarily at the EMP makes complete and utter sense. The EMP acts as a central point of dB but without any feeling of singularity. As an added bonus, festival pass holders were granted access to the museum exhibitions during daytime hours.

While some found the fortress confusing and perpetuating of a fragmented feeling, perhaps due to our having to exit the building and walk around to a different entrance in order to access the other stage, such a requirement fascilitated getting some air, readjusting, running into friends, and glancing up at the shimmering, bulging fortress. The architecture of the museum, impressive and provocative, complements forward-thinking electronic aesthetic, which helps create a cohesive visual + audible experience that can override fragmented perception.

I was curious about how the dB team ended up wanting to use the museum has a main hub, so I got in touch with the EMP's Audience Development Programs Manager Michael Stephens, who offered the following statement:

The EMP and Decibel partnership aligned perfectly with the mission of EMP - EMP serves as a gateway museum, reaching multigenerational audiences through our collections, exhibitions, and educational programs, using interactive technologies to engage and empower our visitors. At EMP, artists, audiences and ideas converge, bringing understanding, interpretation, and scholarship to the popular culture of our time. Decibel fit perfectly within that and we look forward to a continued partnership with the festival and the community.

Something that is difficult about dB, and something that I've noticed festival regulars joking about, is dB's incongruent, overlapping schedule. There's loads of good stuff, showcases featuring personal favorites as well as artists that peak new interest, but no possible way to see everything. Schedule overlapping typically demands that we zoom around Capitol Hil and Bell Town venues via taxi, foot, or bus. It's as if a dB tradition, which is now upgraded. Having a main hub with several stages and superlative sound execution (I mean, really, one of the best I've ever experienced) ensures that festival-goers at least catch parts - yes, perhaps fragments - of acts that are playing at the same time, as one can simply swing around the building as opposed to wait for an Uber taxi and/or walk to the other venue. Again, this creates a more accommodating and correlational experience, although this year there were still plenty of performances at venues such as Re-Bar, The Crocodile, and the Triple Door, all still within a downtown reach.

[Strength] of connection derives from the partial overlapping of many different strands of connected-ness across cases rather than from any single strand running through large numbers of cases... (Plant 11).

Because it is a festival, and due to the overlapping nature of this specific one, the dB experience is already not very linear. All the showcases, happening more or less simultaneously, appeal to widely varying music lovers and philanthropists. I feel that, looking at the dB festival as such - like a wheel turning on top of other wheels, adorned with hyperlinks and gateways - reinforces its textuality and referentiality. Such conception also solidifies the festival as unique, and the EMP as a partnered main hub helps this festival's uniqueness become a strength, a multi-stranded, dense communal experience.

Altogether, dB this year had a welcoming, different, almost sleek feel to it. 'Sleek' maybe comes to mind just because of the texture of the outside of the EMP; nonetheless, I feel that the partnership between the dB team and the EMP was a very smart and graceful gesture toward both Seattle and dB communities. The action of primarily operating out of the EMP was a means of doing the same old thing but in a different way, hyperlinking events that are taking place simultaneously in the same building or at least, so to speak, just a click away.

In case you can't dig on my massive analogy, here's a linear and hierarchized list of personal highlights:

1. Kangding Ray
Gorgeous, wavering light show with driven, coherent dance beats: Kangding Ray was exceptional, and likewise a very welcomed taste of Berlin ambient techno that doesn't live under the banner of a specific club or crew. It's real artistry in the guise of minimal techno, reveling in the complex labor of blaring emotionality through restraining, gray machinery. David Letellier's latest album, Solens Arc, is highly recommended, and out on Raster-Noton.

2. Cherushii (played in town with Golden Donna festival week but unaffiliated with the festival. Speaking of overlapping...)
I went to see Cherushii at Seattle's small clothing shop and DIY concert space Cairo, and it blew my mind. I've seen Cherushii aka Chelsea Faith several times at this point, and I've even had the pleasure of playing alongside her at the NFOP event in August: this set blew my mind. It was focused, lush, full of new sounds, and demonstrative of Faith's unlimited talent. Looking forward to her forthcoming releases on 100% Silk.

3. Sassmouth
After some arsenide broke out at a Chicago regional airport, Sassmouth made it safely to Seattle's Re-Bar on Sunday night and her set blew pretty much everyone away. The stars were right. This glorious celebration wasn't just because it was the last night of the festival, or because the vibe in Re-Bar after Nordic Soul's set was completely radiant: it was because she authoritatively spun pure house at perfect tempo for hours. What more can I say?

4. Braids
Admittedly, it's taken me a while to fully get on the Braids bandwagon. After seeing them a second time and letting my mind grasp their style, I am completely enamored. Their performance was dense, beautiful, and spellbinding, and left the devoted audience speechless. They announced that they are "working very hard" on new material and played some of it. I can't wait to hear the new album when it is complete, or, better yet, at least see them live again.

5. Loscil
I've listened to Ghostly+Kranky icon Loscil for years and years, and thanks to this year's dB, I've finally experienced that world of ambient sound live. The visuals performed by were perfect, and the set quite simply spoke directly to my insatiable appetite for pad.

6. ASC
James Clements aka ASC's performance was a proud part of the Silent Season showcase. It was a calming, meandering, and slightly aberrational set. His latest Truth Be Told is undoubtedly one of my favorite albums of 2014, so why do I say abberational? The showcase was moved from its original assignment to the EMP Level 3, which is more of a dance space. Sitting on the floor, listening to ASC, and watching crystal clear images of the moon over northerly boreal landscapes hardly fit the Friday night festival head space. Nonetheless, I appreciate the mismatching mostly because it sparked contemplation over how to better experience ambient music, which rouses very private emotions, in a public space. Furthermore, I love paradox.

Unsound Preview: Janus / Kablam

15 Oct 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Krakow's Unsound Festival started on Sunday and so far it's been a Golden October dream, perhaps despite that true nightmare that was the early afternoon showing of Andrzej Żuławski's 1981 relationship drama-cum-horror movie "Possession" that I'm still trying to wrap my mind around. "The Dream" is also this year's festival theme – described by the curators as "a symptom of a world where self-expression and experience are increasingly mediated and commodified. It plays out on laptops used for work and leisure, in networked coffee shops, airports, international 'artistic enclaves' and nightclubs. Anxiety is its underside: those Living The Dream often do so in precarious financial situations, while in the background, ecological, political and economic systems lurch towards collapse; war looms on the horizon, threatening to escalate."

In more than one sense of the word, in the past few years Berlin has become The Dream for more and more musicians from all over the world, who mostly seem to come to the city in the search of exactly that: a place that is somewhat detached from the troubles of globalised late capitalism, where artistic expression is still possible due to a still comparably reasonable cost of living, and an overall attitude just liberal enough to not become an obstacle. Whether Berlin really is or has even ever been that dream place is one question, the other more pressing is in which way the expat community itself has started a process that's fundamentally changing the dynamic of the city's social geography. Soon, it'll be time to reflect on the sustainability of the dream. Artists have already started leaving Berlin again, moving to Leipzig or further east, with Krakow among a growing list of cities that now embody the illusion of a culturally rich location that willingly provides the means to devote yourself entirely to creative activity, without being forced to compromise. Which begs the creeping question – has it ever been about Berlin at all? "How do ideas of locality – or the lack of them – affect culture?," asks the panel "Place/Displace/Non-Place" at Naodowy Stary Teatr on Friday at 3.45, featuring some writers who should have to say something about that as expats in various European locations themselves.

However for the time being, legitimately focusing on the upsides of Berlin's evolvement into a truly global creative hub, the Musicboard-funded Berlin Current poject by CTM Festival has started to showcase some of the exciting aspects of the expat scene along the Spree. Over the past two years the Janus night has certainly become the epitome of New Berlin. Still, considering the aforementioned, it isn't entirely clear whether the scene around Janus is even a Berlin thing – or merely something that was started here by accident. After its first Berghain night last Friday the Janus crew is coming to Unsound Festival this week. In anticipation of the event and in order to explore some of the topics just mentioned, we spoke to resident DJ Kajsa Blom aka KABLAM via email. Read the interview after the break.

CTM's Berlin Current showcase featuring the Janus crew is part of Unsound Festival's night "The Ticket That Exploded Part 1", happening at Hotel Forum on Friday, October 17. More information on the event is available over here.

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Try to describe Janus in one sentence.

Hype, hate, copy

In which way does the night's concept embody an approach to club music that was missing in Berlin?

I would say its concept is genre-crossing, rude, more fearless and more diverse than what usually is being served in Berlin’s nightlife.

What does Berlin have to do with it in the first place? You've had a night in NYC already and now you're gonna be at Unsound. In which way is Janus' sound essential to Berlin; could it exist without the city or is its location wholly incidental anyway?

Having a space like Chesters really played a big role. A space like that would probably be impossible to find in NYC or Stockholm. It was not too big, not too small and had a great sound system for that size. It worked as this residency where we could try out things. For me having never really DJ’d before, this was the perfect place to try out things and learn.

What do you like about the Berlin crowd? Do you find it particularly open-minded or rather the opposite, still fixated on techno and house?

The ”Berlin crowd” is quite diverse I would say, but there is definitely still a huge crowd fixated on techno and house. Don’t get me wrong, I love dancing to hard techno, and I really respect a good techno DJ, but it’s almost like a different occupation. Using the CDJs you can manipulate the tracks in ways you can’t do on a record player. I think a large part of the Berlin crowd still wants to see DJs who play records, but I believe that’s slowly changing too.

How long have you been in Berlin now? Do you think that the place is getting more or less interesting? What are some developments that concern you?

I’ve been in Berlin for two years, but I am currently in Stockholm to write my BA thesis. I definitely think it’s getting more interesting, but that is my individual experience. I think it is intact with me discovering more parts, areas and scenes, opening up my eyes and ears more and more. 

Janus is usually depicted as this Brooklyn thing that came to Berlin – by the New York Times anyway. You are from Sweden, right? How did you get in touch with the rest, and how do you fit in from your own perspective?

I am from Sweden, but I am half-German. It is kind of not a Brooklyn thing-- no one in the Janus crew is from Brooklyn. I was not a part of Janus from the beginning but I was at almost every Janus party before I became a resident, and that’s how I got to know Dan, Michael, J’Kerian (Lotic) and James (M.E.S.H.). I had never felt at home in a club environment before. I loved how they approached the whole idea of what a club can be and I loved how they played so fearlessly. Last August Dan asked if I wanted to play a Janus night; I said yes although I had never really mastered the CDJ-2000 before. So I watched some Youtube tutorials, went there and played a bunch of Jersey club tracks and they liked it. I can’t point out exactly what it is that we share that make us work together, we just belong together, it just makes sense.

What are you trying to achieve with your own work? What's your main incentive to do the stuff you're doing?

Whoa, what am I trying to achieve…? I guess I want to produce something that sounds exactly like me in that moment. But it’s also about being fearless, not being afraid to fail. It’s gonna sound corny maybe, but I think my main incentive lies in the creation of ’the new’. When new thoughts and ideas are born, just in that moment, there is a sense of complete freedom. Of course new ideas aren’t born out of nothing like some kind of magic, most of the time they are born as an opposition toward existing norms. I hate genre categorization for instance, this is something that is flooded by norms. I hate the genre term ’IDM’ (Intelligent Dance Music)-- why is that type of music more intelligent than other dance music? EDM is not less intelligent than IDM. Let’s talk about what it actually sounds like and how it makes us feel. Let’s stop forcing music, and people, into categories that they have not asked to be a part of.

Adding this spatial dimension, like a more or less public space where these ideas can take form and be introduced and exchanged, that makes it real. I used to think my music experiments were made just for me, but I was wrong!

What's next for you artistically? What do you expect from the Berlin Current funding? Is there anything in the works already that you could tell us about, or is it mainly your participation in the showcases?

It is mainly my participation in the showcases. The night we did at Berghain was the most insane and beautiful, and now we are doing another night at the Unsound festival on Friday with Dj Hvad and Amnesia Scanner. I am super excited! I don’t know what’s next. With my own stuff I am still trying to figure out what direction to go in and it is an interesting phase because it takes me to all kinds of places.

Interview: Peter Sagar (HOMESHAKE)

14 Oct 2014 — Henry Schiller

Cold weather, warm showers, slick grooves, capital letters: HOMESHAKE (the pseudonym of Montreal-based Peter Sagar) has one of the most full-bodied aesthetics of any act I’ve had the pleasure of covering. The former Mac DeMarco guitarist's debut album, In the Shower, came out last week on Sinderlyn / Bad Actors. I chatted briefly with Sagar over email about his album, his friends, and his influences: both musical and meteorological.

 

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NFOP: Hi Peter. I know you'll be in New York in a couple of weeks for CMJ. Is this your first time playing the festival? Are you currently at home in Montreal or are you already on the road?

PS: I've been down to CMJ a couple times,  we did it last year as well. Right now I'm at home.

NFOP: You’ve mentioned Canada’s "icy landscape" as an influence, which is a fairly atypical point of reference. There is, however, an undeniable iciness to your music. Not to say that its lacking in warmth or emotion, but your music feels like it would be a good soundtrack for being bundled up in an igloo. How is it that you feel your musical output has been shaped or affected by growing up in a cold climate?

PS: I remember when I was a teenager in Edmonton I'd always think "fuck this I'm going out I won't let the weather get me down" while I put on three pairs of socks and 5 sweaters to take the bus across the river to drink at some dank bar, but eventually it broke me and I stopped leaving the house.  It was probably at that point I started spending a lot of time recording music on my own, so I suppose it is directly responsible for my output.

NFOP: Is HOMESHAKE your first project, or just the latest in a long line of musical pseudonyms? What are some other projects or bands you've been involved in, and in what capacity?

PS: I had a band in Edmonton called Outdoor Miners, it was sort of noisy 90's style stuff, didn't last a long time though.  Then I started making solo music under the name Sans AIDS, but the name was terrible and offended people so when I got to Montreal I ditched it.  For the last few years I was playing guitar with Mac DeMarco, lots of fun, saw the world, went insane.

NFOP: We don’t cover a ton of guitar music at No Fear of Pop, so when we do it’s usually because we're listening to something downright unique. You seem like you might have a fairly “standard” guitar, bass, drums setup, but your sound is very difficult to place. Who are some of your biggest influences?

PS: A few would be Curtis Mayfield, Angelo Badalamenti, R Kelly, Herbie Hancock and Broadcast.

NFOP: Kind of in the same vein as the last question, but what kinds of groups / acts are you usually compared to? Have you gotten any comparisons that completely took you by surprise?

PS: Most comparisons are with friends of mine, which is fine because I have some very talented friends.

NFOP: You recorded In The Shower at Montreal's Drones Club this past winter. What was the process like? Do you think of this as a studio album or more of a DIY piece?

PS: I recorded it with my friend Mike, a few days here or there over a fee months. We would do a couple songs and then not work on it for a a few weeks. I paid him with several bottles of Jameson, he deserves better.

NFOP: No Fear of Pop’s readers are on the sharpest point of the cutting edge when it comes to new music. Any acts you’ve been playing with, or otherwise getting into who you think our readers ought to know about?

PS: Wow great job everybody! A few acts I'm into big time these days are Tonstartsbandht, Silk Rhodes and Jerry Paper.

Halasan Bazar and Tara King th. “Rot Inside”

13 Oct 2014 — Henry Schiller

“Rot Inside” sounds like it’d be the music that plays during Serge Gainsbourgh and Jane Birkin’s daytrip to hell. It’s the soundtrack to a Halloween party where everyone comes dressed like John Wayne and is of the opinion that Pink Floyd could never recapture the magic of Piper at the Gates of Dawn. “Rot Inside” is evocative of a damp New England backyard on a crisp autumn morning; it is evocative of a rodeo clown come back from the dead, and gunning for the cowboys that tortured him. It is French New Wave meets the American Old West.

Whatever sense it sparks for a particular listener, there is no denying that “Rot Inside”, the product of an unlikely collaboration between the groups Tara King th. and Halasan Bazaar, must reside in the polarized space between different, even contradictory musical forms.

Every moment of psychedelic revivalism is bookmarked by woodland-oriented Scandinavian guff. Every burst of western guitar has lilting around it the sneaking suspicion that Belle and Sebastian has been listened to, absorbed even, by the people playing this song.

Halasan Bazar and Tara King th.'s debut collaborative LP, 8, is out October 13 on Moon Glyph; expect further coverage.

 

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Watch: Half Waif “Ceremonial”

08 Oct 2014 — Henry Schiller

Half Waif's “Ceremonial” was one of my favorite tracks of the summer, so I’m very pleased to be able to share director Grace Gardner's rather autumnal video. Gardner brings Half Waif’s carefully crafted ode to the dark magic of monotony in a video that is perfectly evocative of the song’s themes and tone. It is filmed in a grimy, hand held-style-- almost Dogville-esque-- and degenerates into instagram filtered, slime-gulping voyeurism. The gonzo approach is offset by the synchronized movements of the dances behind Half Waif's Nandi Rose Plunkett, who sing-lurks at the bottom of the screen. The ceaseless repetitions of daily life are a choreography of sorts: one best captured on handheld devices and filtered into a demonic oblivion. The struggle between the humdrum of the everyday and the vile otherness of breaking even the most banal of habits is on full display in both Rose Plunkett's song and Gardner's exceptional accompanying video.

Give this a watch and check out Half Waif’s debut album KOTEKAN here.

 

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Win Tickets for the CTM Prelude with Suzanne Ciani at Volksbühne

08 Oct 2014 — Henning Lahmann

The 16th edition of Berlin's cherished CTM Festival will kick off on January 23, 2015 under the theme Un Tune, but already on October 24 you can have quite a significant foretaste of thing to come when American synth pioneer Suzanne Ciani plays Volksbühne to improvise on the legendary Buchla synthesizer for a collaboration with Neotantrik aka Andy Votel and Demdike Stare's Sean Canty. Having released some of Ciani's early work on their acclaimed imprint Finders Keepers in 2012, the two already built an intimate artistic relationship with the composer before launching the current project together. The video below shows the trio at a performance at Lincoln Center in New York City in April. The evening will be completed by another stunning joining of forces, Mark Fell coming together with Keith Fullerton Whitman to coalesce their approaches to electronic music radicalism.

We're giving away 1x2 tickets for this highly recommended show. Just send an email with the subject "Suzanne Ciani" to submissions@nofearofpop.net before October 20, 12pm CET.

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