Interview: Jlin

16 Mar 2015 — Anaïs Duplan

Dark Energy is not for the faint of heart. While it would be possible to place the album in the context of legendary footwork producers such as RP Boo and the late DJ Rashad, it would be more accurate to say that Jlin, an up-and-coming producer from Gary, Indiana, has blown apart the foundations of footwork in order to make space for her own uniquely relentless sound. Each of the eleven tracks on Dark Energy subverts expectation at every turn, toggling back and forth between percussion-heavy urgency and equally urgent periods of spacious subtlety. Jlin’s quick transitions are both inescapable and unpredictable, making Dark Energy exemplary of the most controlled and skillful form of pure pandemonium.

Jlin’s debut album will be released on 23 March by Planet Mu. In the meantime, I sat down with the producer and together, we delved into Dark Energy.

Read the interview after the break. 

(Photo by Matthew Avignone)

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Let's start from the beginning of the album, with "Black Ballet."

That was actually the very last song that I finished. I knew that I wanted one of the songs to be ballet-related. So for two or three weeks, I was watching Black Swan, which is one of my favorite movies, but I was drawing absolutely nothing. It was actually making it worse because I wasn't getting anything. And then something told me: Alvin Ailey. Immediately I started watching a lot of Alvin Ailey Youtube videos and it was like this spark came over me.

What made you feel that spark?

There was a connection. I totally understood the movement of their bodies, rhythm-wise. It was like a conversation almost. A silent conversation. That's how "Black Ballet" came into play. At first I was nervous because I was like, "This is far out." But I was really pleased with it.

The track itself felt far out?

It felt far out to me because I had never done something like that before. It was unfamiliar to me, and so was "Erotic Heat." But "Black Ballet" was uncharted territory. You're in there but you don't know what to expect. But I didn't shy away from it and go, "Oh no, I'm not gonna put that out because that's not what people expect of me." Usually what is far out or crazy is what I'll throw out there. I'll see how far it can go.

What other tracks felt far out or uncomfortable? You mentioned "Erotic Heat."

"Infrared," for sure.

Why's that?

I had to go back and play that over and over just to make sure I was hearing it. The sounds. It was just heavy all the way around. The percussion, the synths.

I think you’re quite skillful in controlling the momentum. The whole album is high-energy but there are certain moments when you manage to create space. It gets drawn out.

Right, exactly. Impact is a tool for me. For me, impact is more important than the sound itself. I'm trying to channel the momentum and to be able to be in control of it. Sometimes there are highs, very intense, and there are lows. I wanted it to be an adrenaline rush all the way through, so that you had to go back and listen to it two or three times because it was just so much to take in at once. Sometimes I'll listen to a track of mine before I go to sleep and then I have to go and listen to another track and another – and the next I thing I know, here I am, up for two hours. Then I'll go from my stuff to Sade's to Rachelle Ferrell's. I listen to so many different genres, but there are specific people that I really take note of – not to mimic but just to respect.

Who are those people for you?

I listen to Rachelle Ferrell a lot. My mom put me on to her at a very young age. Sade too. We used to listen to all kinds of artists when I was younger because everybody liked different things in the house.

It sounds like you grew up around a lot of music.

I did, but it was all older music. It wasn't my generation, at all. I had to come into my generation on my own and through my friends. But yeah, I know a lot of jazz. Different things too. The Art of Noise, Elton John. I become like a sponge, not just for music, but for the things that I see and feel – that's where the impact is. Now it's just a matter of channeling that impact into a frequency and a vibration and a sound. Putting it into the atmosphere. I'll never grow tired of that.

What is the process, for you, of translating something you've seen into a sound?

I have to become the thing that I saw. I got that concept from a Bruce Lee saying, "Be water, my friend." When you pour water into the cup, you take the shape of the cup. It's the same process. Sometimes it can be very uncomfortable. A lot of times I have to go places in my mind that I really don't want to, but that, to me, is the realest sound. That's why a lot of times I find myself running from myself. I'm sure you've read that I create from an unhappy place. To create from a happy place just doesn't do it for me. If you create from trauma, there are so many things that can come out. Darkness and blackness – they're not bad things at all. The word 'black' has such a negative connotation and it's so not true. If that were the case, I don't believe the stars would come from darkness. People have gained most of their momentum from low spots. Blackness and darkness produce beautiful things. Like a diamond. It's a piece of coal but when you put pressure on it, what happens? 

There's something about Sun Ra that comes up for me in that reference to stars coming from darkness.

Right, exactly. It's poetic. The process itself is beautiful even though it may be hard. It's beautiful. If you've ever looked at a puddle of oil on the ground, look at all the colors inside it. What I put out splashes so many colors because every color originates from black.

There is blackness in the context of the color spectrum, but then there's also the experience of blackness, of being a person of color. Does that come into play in the album for you?

Of course. It amazes me, the negative connotation that black has. Black is the original color of original colors. And as far as being a person of color goes, I'm just one of those people who doesn't accept everything that's out in the atmosphere. I just don't. The atmosphere that we're in now – we're in trouble.

Say more about that.

Look at the state of world. We're in trouble. Look around you. I feel like I have to put it out there that it's my responsibility to put a certain vibration and frequency back into the atmosphere. There's so much love lacking. People are so accustomed to whatever being thrown into the atmosphere and they just adapt. But it shouldn't be like that all the time, because not everything you put out is a good thing.

In some ways, this is the perfect time for this album to come out.

Exactly. A lot of people are afraid. They're afraid to talk about certain things. The media can immediately shift what you've said and turn it into something else. One day you were being praised and the next day you're being hated. That's how powerful the media is. Because you may have been addressing something that's real, but if you violate a certain terrain, it's like you blackball yourself. In a way, with this album, I probably touch on a lot of subjects silently. I say it without saying it.

In my experience of the album, there's so much of black history there. Like the track, "Mansa Musa."

Absolutely. If you think this one is something, wait 'til the next one.

Oh yeah? Is there a next one?

Hah, you're the first person I've said that to. But yeah, I think it's my responsibility. That's why it's taken my whole life to get through this album. I had to go through so much. It was less about the music and more about my experiences. What I had to go through and what I had to learn, first about me as a person and then about what came before me as a person. I'm still learning.

What were some of the things you felt like you needed to learn before you were ready to produce Dark Energy?

I needed to be honest with myself. That's a hard thing to do. I'm still grasping that. A friend told me, "The truth doesn't hurt. It only hurts when you try to fight it." That's probably one of the realest statements I've heard in my life. Failing is very important. Failing is more important than your success, and I still fail. I'm in a wreck right now musically, but that's another story for another day. And being transparent publicly is hard. It takes a lot of energy because you're vulnerable and you have people who are waiting to eat you alive as soon as you step out. I went in telling myself, "Not everyone is gonna like your music." And you know what? I would be pissed if everybody did like my music. I would feel so unaccomplished.

You want that agitation.

Yeah, exactly. It would be like being in a happy state all the time. No trauma, no drama. What is that?

You spoke about how hard it is to be publicly transparent –

It is. That's the hardest part. The fun part is the creating and the producing, because you can just put your message in a bottle and send it out. But then you remember that once you send it out, it's gonna find people. Interviews are fine, but then you have to remember this interview is not just between you and the person you’re interviewing. It's about to go out into the world. It's like, "Oh, do I sound silly? I wonder if I sound stupid there." There are people just waiting for you to fail and to devour you. To say, "I don't like this. This is whack. She's not going anywhere." You have to be ready to face that. It's kind of like being thrown into the middle of a jungle full of vultures who haven't eaten in months, and here are you, fresh meat. But that kind of thing also gives me an adrenaline rush. You have to know how to use that force against itself.

You've really mastered how to channel difficult emotions –

There are those moments when it is so intense that I can't hear anything. But once I get my hearing back, that's when I create. But when I can't hear anything and I can't rationalize the sound, I don't create.

So there's this element of constructing the tracks that is very emotionally internal for you, and then there’s the fact that you don’t use samples, which means that every sound has to come from you.

Right. That goes back to sometimes having to go places you don't want to go mentally. And as far as sampling goes, I used to sample and I still know how to – I just chose to get away from it. Sampling is such a heavy thing in Chicago footwork. All the stuff on Dark Energy took time and it wasn't so much the music as having to learn myself, having to trust myself, having to forgive myself. It's more personal than it is musical.

I want to backtrack to something you said about footwork. Have you felt constrained at all by that label? You’ve mentioned that you don't like to name genres.

Yes. If I feel boxed-in or restrained, I have a tendency to react a certain way musically. Did you notice the name of one of those songs is "Abnormal Restriction"?

I was thinking of that track exactly.

That's where that feeling comes from. When I feel restrained, I lash out. I lash out in a way that you can hear in my music.

I don't know if this is appropriate to say, but I worry that people will react to Dark Energy by saying, "Look at this great new black female footwork producer" and take only that away from it.

You brought up something that I was worried about. This is predominantly male field – before we even touch the black aspect. I don't want to be known because I'm a female producer. My gender and my race have nothing to do with what I can do as a person, though melanin is very important to me. But I don't want to become a stereotype. You get seen for being the first of this or the first of that but not for your work or your craft. I should be able to stand toe-to-toe with anybody who comes before me or after me. It shouldn't matter that I'm a black woman who produces. Though, again, melanin is very important.

Have you had a lot of people talk to you about what they take away from the music?

Not a lot. Most people just give you their reactions to it. They don't go into detail about it. Certain people do. A lot of people just really like the way it comes across, the way it's presented. I’ve heard people say, “Man, I listened to this one track like six times in a row!” That makes me happy, though I'm never satisfied.


I have happy moments but then those moments die very quickly. I'll make a track and be satisfied with it for one to two days max, and then I'm like, "What's after that?" I'm never satisfied. I have to keep creating. That's my heartbeat, my constant heartbeat.

Is there something you think it's important for people to know before listening to Dark Energy?

No. I never want to dictate to a person what they should feel. It's just a message in a bottle. However you take it is however you take it, whether it be good, bad, or indifferent. Who am I to tell you what you should get from the album? I feel differently about it every other day. So if I feel like that, who I am to tell you what you should feel?

Watch: Sally Dige “Hard to Please” (exclusive)

12 Mar 2015 — Henry Schiller

Danish-Canadian polymath Sally Dige makes dark, minimal synthpop that might draw comparison to the likes of Depeche Mode - Dige's vocal affect is remarkably similar to thant of Dave Gahan - if she didn't already seem to be ushering in an italo-disco revival. "Hard to Please", the title track from Dige's debut album, fuses the ghostly humanism of Dige's new wave forebears with the pointed, synthetic narrative of contemporary electronica.

Ditching the glam and gloss typically associated with synthpop, the choppy black & white video for "Hard to Please", which was directed by Laslo Antal, has the almost vandalized, hyper-candid feel of something that might appear in the corner of an art gallery. The video then cuts between shots of an outdoor birth and ambiguously gruesome scenes of Dige mauling (what looks like) hamburger meat with fork and spatula until it bleeds. The video bears some aesthetic semblance to Eraserhead (which also has bleeding food) but has the loose, zoom-crazed cinematography of later lo-fi masterpieces like Slacker.

The slightly NSFW video (mostly for blood) is worth repeated viewings (is Dige giving birth to prepackaged hamburger? is that a slice of watermelon?), which is just as well: the song will be more or less inextractable from your head once you hear it.

Hard To Please is out May 11 on Night School Records.


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Broshuda “Flares”

11 Mar 2015 — Richard Greenan

Broshuda straddles the worlds of electronic music and illustration, casting a beguiling emoji-web of broken rave doodles from his base in Kassel, Germany (or, as Bro affectionately refers to it, Dorkville).

His latest record is maybe my favourite yet – murky but, unlike some of the other stuff on Seagrave, never heavy enough to drag you down. Rather, Broshuda's unfettered curiosity takes centre stage, as we dip in and out of conversations, undergo soft-focus techno flashbacks, and sometimes swear we can hear the scratch of sharpie across rough card.

One thread is a series of stone circle jams – primitive, Satie-esque piano meditations, tempered with subtle electronics and other intimate, unrecognisable sounds. The question is, how does he make it all?

Flares is out now on cassette via Seagrave.

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I Don’t Think That MDMA Was Pure: Visions of Ecstasy

05 Mar 2015 — Anaïs Duplan

Last November, Jerry Paper played his set at the Center for Digital Arts in Brattleboro, VT, wearing nothing but a pink satin robe and grey socks, bunched at the ankles. This was, apparently, not atypical. Before the show, I’d familiarized myself with the work of Jerry Paper, whose ‘host body’s’ name is Lucan Nathan, by reading his feature with The FADER, where he discusses his typical show attire, as well as his attraction to pre-linguistic sensory experiences, both in musical and religious settings.

During the set, Paper moved in ways I’d never seen anyone move. It was oddly seductive, the way he belted into his microphone, the farting and belching sounds he made between songs. Oftentimes, he’d crouch low to the ground, as though he were attempting to hide underneath his synthesizer, while also stomping his feet in alternate wide-legged strides.

In the other room, through a Christmas-lit doorframe, a set of iMacs displayed Jerry Paper’s new video game, which accompanied his latest album, Big Pop for Chameleon World. Nathan, in addition to being a musician, designs digital worlds in which he is the main character, pottering through his own dreamscapes. I’d been standing over the shoulder of my friend Julia, who was seated at one of the computers, when she pronounced, “I’m about to score some MDMA.” The digital version of Paper stood at the bar in a mostly empty nightclub. Julia hit the T-key on the keyboard, which prompted the digital Paper to give some of his virtual coins to the bartender in exchange for ecstasy. Immediately, the club began to quake and all we could see was the back of Paper’s head as his brain began to suffer the effects of the virtual MDMA. Julia hit a slew of keys, trying to get the shaking to stop. “I wish I hadn’t done that,” she said, sighing. On screen, in fancy print, appeared the words: I DON’T THINK THAT MDMA WAS PURE.

Jerry Paper’s set came as a relief seeing as I had spent the last half-hour trying to force myself to enjoy the opening band, whose conceptual drivings had almost certainly overshadowed the consideration of musical craft. A tall skinny boy with long black hair had sung into the microphone the way one sings into a comb while pretending to be a rockstar in front of the mirror, at home, alone. He used his other hand to make wild gestures above his head, arm outstretched, fingers reaching for the stars. He sang in a mostly broken and frantic falsetto while twirling his lean body around the carpeted stage. Occasionally, he knocked knees with the people sitting in the first row. This did not faze him. “Everybody wants to be somebody upstairs,” he crooned, over and over, during one particularly heartfelt song, whose background track played on his iPod and which he sang over. After each song, the iPod would immediately begin to play the next track and the boy would rush to it, pause the music in order to consider which song he wanted to play next, and then press play. Throughout all of this, a sea-themed screensaver projection colored the stage, the boy, his iPod.

When he was done, the audience screamed for more. This both baffled me or did not baffle me at all. While I’d found the music itself intolerable, there was something about the performer’s abandon, the bright reverb-laden tracks, and the porpoise projections that seemed important. I was skeptical of this sentiment then and still am, but I can’t shake the feeling. In the middle of his set, I turned to another friend, who was seated to my left. “Maggie,” I said, in the quiet between songs. She turned to face me and I stared at her for a moment before whispering, “What is happening here?” She laughed, but I stared on. I gestured toward the Christmas lights, the metal folding-chairs, the dorm-style lamps, the eroding carpet. “This all feels so familiar. What is happening to us?” She shrugged, but not before nodding in agreement.

There is a sound I hear all the time now, in the music that surrounds me. Or rather, it is a type of sound that I can only describe by listing the things it reminds me of. It sounds like nostalgia for the future, like robots at the beach, like the darkest depression and the brightest cheer you’ve ever felt. It sounds like carefree but not because I don’t care but because I can’t care. Like, these are the times we’re in, the world is ending, we have no future but I promise I’m having fun.

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But it’s not just a sound. On the last day of the Hudson Music Project, which featured headliners like Flying Lotus, SZA, and Kendrick Lamar, I witnessed a woman sporting an oversized t-shirt with a picture on it of one of the baby Olsen twins – I couldn’t tell which –  and the caption: COCAINE. I had the same feeling I had watching the boy squealing against the beach background in that tiny room. This isn’t just funny, I thought. This means something. But what? What is happening to us?

The last day of the festival was canceled due to a thunderstorm. This severely disturbed the droves of Bassnectar fans who’d trekked to Saugerties, NY from god-knows-where. I suspect I will never again in this lifetime see as many Bassnectar tattoos as I did that weekend. As I wearily packed up my tent, I heard a man making rounds through the campgrounds. “Horny and high!” he exclaimed,  apparently offering last-minute copulation services, as though to counteract the general low morale that had taken over the festival-goers.

I carry a reel of these events – these images, strange encounters, strange sounds – in my mind, as I try to connect the dots. I think of how sad Jerry Paper looked but also how luminous. When I try to answer my own question about what is happening to us, I come to this: We are trying to improvise small paradises in a landscape of doom. This is, no doubt, heavy-handed – but if every era dreams of what the next era will be, and tries to manifest that dream in everyday life, here in the present, then it is clear that our dream of the next era isn’t a very good dream. In fact, it’s a nightmare. The future, if there is a future, is disjunctive, incoherent, figuratively drug-addled, melancholic. The future has been canceled due to a thunderstorm.

In the 1974 film Space is the Place, when Sun Ra speaks of shuttling the black race into space, it was because he could conceive of no future for the race on the planet Earth. We don’t talk about transcending space and time, generally speaking, unless we feel doomed – headed for some fate we should like to avoid. So we improvise new futures. That’s what the porpoise projections were doing. That’s what Nathan’s kimono was doing. Opening a portal, by way of transcendence, to a vision of ecstasy.

But what have we transcended, if anything, and how? It’s worth noting that the voices I hear are markedly plainspoken. A day or two before Jerry Paper’s show, at a house concert in a basement in Hadley, MA, I was struck by one particular lyric I heard, for its sincerity. The guitarist sang, “When I was a kid, I fell down,” as he played, with remarkable skill, music in a world somewhere between Daniel Rossen and classical guitarist John Williams. This set was preceded, somewhat inexplicably, by a reading from Finnegan’s Wake from a man in tall hiking books and was succeeded by a death metal outfit whose lead singer yelled into a microphone made out of bone. There were Christmas lights there, too.

If the future isn’t a viable option, then all we have is right now, which means we have no choice but to make all the mundane things feel more special than they really are. What the boy who sang along with iPod lacked in musical talent, he made up for in heart; and if there was a time when all these strangenesses were merely chicaneries, that time is over. I don’t say this because I particularly care for displays of inappropriate lighting or equally inappropriate readings of James Joyce, but rather because I am perhaps sick with the same ailment I see afflicting those around me. I’m not standing up for anything in particular, but I’m also standing up for it all. I will fight for the future of this planet until I die or it dies, but I’ve also already given up. Throughout my days, I sometimes lose bodily awareness, not because I’m lost in thought but because I’m lost in observing what is around me. How beautiful and entirely absurd it is. How uneventful and awe-inspiring. I feel more and more like a child. I feel more and more like I am in mourning for a death that hasn’t happened yet.

Interview: Susanne Sundfør

04 Mar 2015 — Andrew Darley

For her fifth studio album, Susanne Sundfør vowed to put herself to the test. After building a repertoire of producing for herself and others, as well as collaborations with Röyksopp and M83, she committed herself to self-producing and arranging a body of work. This autonomous approach conceived a frenetic collection of songs, comprising several stories and characters as she embarks on a crusade of love. Ten Love Songs expands on her signature brand of dramatic pop that interweaves classical and electronic elements as she hops between menacing electronics, sweeping synthpop and organ ballads. The initial assault of her diverse palette soon gives way to lyrics of complexities of love; obsession, unfulfillment, vengeance and trust. Her voice is both the anchor and the vehicle of the music as she brings these stories to life in the way she heard and imagined them. I spoke with Susanne about the intent of the record’s literal title, the learning curve of her career so far and the confidence she has developed to carry her music.

Read the interview after the break.

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The last time we spoke in 2013 for Polari Magazine, your back catalogue had just been given a UK release. How do you feel you have progressed since then?

I feel that I have made a lot of progress working in the studio, especially different boxes involved! I have learnt so much about production; from how to use new synths to writing string arrangements. It’s been a very exciting album to make. It was a lot of hard work but it was fun as well.

You recorded, orchestrated and produced Ten Love Songs predominately on your own. What made it feel like the right time?

I produced an album for a band called Bow To Each Other two years ago so I learnt a lot from that. That project gave me the confidence to produce my own music. Also, I co-produced my previous album, The Silicone Veil. It’s been a step-by-step process where I’ve just picked up more and more skills as I’ve done it. I had a lot of ideas about how I wanted the songs arranged and things to sound so I figured it would be best to do a lot of it myself. It was both a wish to have independence in the studio but also a necessity because I had so many ideas. It would have been pointless to tell another person to do what I could do myself.

Do you feel that you are able to execute ideas you hear in your head more effectively now?

Definitely! On my two first albums, which I’m very happy with, it was difficult for me to communicate in the studio because I didn’t have the language or didn’t know the names of things. I might’ve had a vague idea of how I wanted things to sound but I had no idea how to express it to someone else.

The name of this album is Ten Love Songs and the songs feature diverse musical styles and moods. Did the title of record give you the freedom to write ten very individual songs which worked as a whole too?

It was the title that made the most sense because they’re all different worlds. They have quite different sounds so Ten Love Songs was a name that bound them together.

You obviously were not afraid of not being cohesive?

Yeah, it’s a bit schizo for sure! I just had so many different ideas and I was listening to lots of diverse music and that’s probably why my songs came out that way too.

There’s always been electronic dance elements in your music but possibly not as direct like "Accelerate" or "Kamikaze". Did you want to make people dance with this record?

I think if that’s what I directly wanted, I would’ve made it quite different. Like in "Accelerate" there’s a long part of just an organ solo and "Kamikaze" ends with a harpsichord solo. I think I wanted to use the dance elements in music just because it’s an interesting sound. It’s quite instant. It’s not like jazz, you can pretty much get it after a few listens. It doesn’t mean it’s bad but there’s something more immediate about it – it’s like candy almost.

There are several voices and characters throughout this album. The character in "Delirious" really stood out for me in the way they describe his or her desire to hurt, even kill, their partner.  It’s quite a viscous tale. Do you enjoy creating characters like that?

I think it’s interesting to put yourself in someone else’s mindset. I’ve seen these things happen to people – these misunderstandings in love when one is just playing and the other one gets hurt. It’s so classic. I thought it would be more interesting to frame it as a murder ballad.

This theme of violence also has roots in The Brothel and The Silicone Veil. What is it about it that fascinates you?

Extreme things fascinate me a lot – these extreme emotions. Taboos as well. I think the biggest taboo of this album is that it’s called Ten Love Songs. It might even be more controversial than the violent references because a lot of stuff happening in the public or in media, it’s usually about sex or violence. It’s generally never about love or feeling vulnerable. Love is kind of corny to talk about today. That was also a reason why I believed it to be an interesting title.

As you say that, I can see that the album and single artwork is quite different as well. It almost doesn’t match the music.

That’s one of the reasons why I really like it. I completely trusted Grady McFerrin and told him to do whatever he wanted based on what he had done before. He came up with this drawing concept, which I thought brought an interesting element to the record. I love when artists bring their own take on the music and conjure another world or dimension.

Moving on to performing, I’ve watched your shows online for this album and it looks like you’re becoming more comfortable fronting your music in a live setting?

Totally! The first time I was ever on stage, I completely forgot the lyrics but I was 12 then. It’s taken me a long time to just be comfortable on stage and feel like it’s my place. For many artists, going on stage can be a bit alienating especially if you work a lot in the studio – an audience is pretty much watching what you do in the studio on stage. It’s much easier for me now to be in the music when doing shows.

Are there any musicians that you admired in terms of carrying the music over to a live stage?

When I started music high school that we have in Norway, I began listening to a lot of my Dad’s old records. Before that I would only listen to pop music or whatever was in the charts. I listened to Carly Simon, Cat Stevens, John Lennon and George Harrison – all these ‘60s and ‘70s classics. Both their songwriting aesthetic and the way they performed as musicians really inspired me. These artists really influenced how I view and create my own music.

Have you learned anything about approaching music from the contemporary artists you’ve worked with recently, such as M83 or Röyksopp?

Oh definitely! I’m a huge fan of both, so to work with them was such an honour and an education. I learnt so much about the various microphones, different equipment to how they compose music.

Back to your music, "Insects" closes the album in an intense, almost anxious way. Why did you want to close out the record in this way?

When I made the tracklisting for the album, it was more about the mood than the lyrics for me. There also had to be a flow to the songs and "Insescts" was so intense that it wouldn’t really fit in anywhere else. That is the main reason why it’s the last one but it’s also quite open and experimental. It doesn’t end with a statement or something clear – it’s a cliffhanger.

Looking forward, what would you like to achieve with Ten Love Songs?

I just want to have an open mind about it. I am ambitious but I prefer not to make business plans. My only goal with this album, apart from that I wanted it to be good, is that I want to play more shows. Maybe that can happen and maybe not. We’ll see!

My final question I’d like to ask you, given the content of this album, is what are some of your favourite love stories?

The Brontë sisters are the first people who come to mind. They’re probably my number ones.

Ten Love Songs is out now. 

Review: We Love Lobster Theremin and Here Are Three More Reasons Why

27 Feb 2015 — Evelyn Malinowski

We have covered several of Lobster Theremin's limited edition releases since their genesis, ranging from Imre Kiss to Route 8 to Ozel AB. While there are several more excellent EPs coming your way from new LT artists, here are three that we would like to highlight.

Pairing with sister label Mörk, Raw M.T.'s La Duna is a calm cab ride along a coastal region. Seeing as how the "M.T." stands for music theory, this Italian producer surely has more goods to offer than what is briefly seen in this enjoyable EP. The title track starts us off in the usual LT aesthetic of lo-fi quality, and the beat is experienced with a type of jovial skipping stone counterrhythm. Midway through the track, a friendly, curious melody hits all the while the shimmering pad persists in the background. "Untitled" is an entrancing, beachy song, nearly balaeric. It bears a steady and simple hum next to an indecipherable, perhaps Arabic, vocal sample. "Strike" is slightly darker. An applicable analogy for the listening experience of this EP is an afternoon in a beachy destination: it starts slow and sunny, perhaps accented by consumption of local food and material goods. The taxi ride to the social event of the day is like "Untitled," private, transitional, and meditative. Then, "Strike" is the dirty transition from participation in one's own beachy day to an acidic situation in either a bar or an underground party. Take what you will from this alternative construction, but take lots from this gorgeous piece of music.

La Duna is out March 6th.

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All the LT album covers are sleak, completist, photographic, and some kind of beautiful. The cover chosen for 1800HaightStreet's The Pursuit is a psychedelic branching out. Apart from that visual difference, The Pursuit is furthermore a refreshing break from trancey techno, the LT variety I personally love most. What we get from 1800HaightStreet is clearer production with more of a strange and cynical trajectory. Doubtlessly melodic, this non-1080p Vancouver-based producer seems to be on a mission to make people dance maniacally rather than ask them to contemplate a scene or experience. A maze of matter-of-fact distorted percussion and raise-your-hands-high synths awaits listeners like a small, unassuming volcano waits to blow up and lovingly destory something nearby. No fatalities needed, just an LSD casuality anticipated.

The Pursuit is also out March 6th.

Now back to that trancey tech stuff. Budapest's Route 8 is one of my favorite discoveries from last year. Considering his mastery over banging bass and midi tapestry, and also his loving involvement with Chicago house archetypes, Route 8 still shines through with a unique sound. This Raw Feeling is equipt with romantic undertones and nostalgic implications. Song titles such as "The Sunrise In Her Eyes" and emo-electro "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" communicate the possibility of a personal catharsis for the artist, emotionality only vaguely differing from that of his release from last spring. All that said, I feel like Route 8 could make an excellent score to a film, despite my conjuring a movie-like scene for Raw M.T.'s EP; Route 8's charming combination of dance and sensitivity speaks loudly to the evolution of his artisty as well as his humanness. Yeah, I'm a fan.

This Raw Feeling hits as soon as February 26th, thank god.

High Heels “Pendulum Swing”

23 Feb 2015 — Lukas Dubro

Austin Brown is one artist in Berlin that I admire a lot. He is someone who knows entirely what he is doing. Not just by the action, but by the intellectualization of it as well. When it comes to music, Austin can tell you everything from the difference between sine and square waves to the forces behind his favourite records. On the last EP of my band 케이프 you can hear Austin's self-built amplifiers coming to work.

This experience doesn't come from anywhere specific. At the age of five, Austin began playing violin and has been playing music ever since. The US-native used to play in more than 50 bands, most notably Why?, the Anticon hip hop rock outfit. In 1991, he began studying audio engineering and experimented with recording techniques for a long time. In the 2000s, he worked as a professional sound engineer in the states before moving to Berlin in 2008. Here, he made several records for local bands and worked in different venues; "My education was just trying out a bunch of bad ideas to see what might work."

The two new songs "Pendulum Swing" and "Collide" from his moniker High Heels are a demonstration of Austin's skills. We hear perfectly arranged dense rock music with a warm organic sound. Distorted lead vocals catch up with clouds of noise produced by guitar and powerful drums. The music has a great dry '90s vibe, reminding me a lot of Sonic Youth records from that time along with newer reverb drunken noise music like No Joy. With the two songs, Austin perfects the style of his older records out under the same name.

An important part of Austin's working process is to collaborate with other people. In the course of the last years, he has recorded with over 20 other musicians. These are people he worked with in studios or wanted to work with, but didn't have the chance to. For each musician Austin carefully picked the material knowing pretty well their individual playing styles. This way, he could compile the best parts together and add them to the songs the way he wanted without making compromises. "The results are fantastic. People do their best work, when they are doing whatever they want," he says.

Especially nowadays where everything primarily seems to be about style you don't come across many people who are real maîtres of their metier. Hanging with a perfectionist like Austin is always quite refreshing. It reminds you that dilettantism and irony, as interesting as they are, are not the only things that are cool.

Photo: Elisa Longhi

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Stream: 5 Years of NFOP Anniversary Edition on BCR

23 Feb 2015 — Henning Lahmann

This little website is turning five today, and there will be a proper party sometime this spring – or so we hope. We'll keep you posted. For the time being however, without further ado, here's our Special Anniversary Editon of the NFOP Show on Berlin Community Radio, which aired last Friday. We only played songs from 2010, the first year of the blog, when it was tiny and even more irrelevant. It was the age of blogging however, even though decline yould already be felt. In June of that year, Altered Zones entered the playing field, which first seemed to make everything even more exciting but ultimately engulfed everything into the abyss along with itself (*full disclosure: this author used to contribute to AZ). The rest is history. In any case, we're still here. Thanks for bearing with us.

That being said, another announcement: The NFOP Show on BCR will from now on be biweekly, two hours long, and air from 7 to 9pm CET. The next edition will be on March 6. Tune in.

Stream both parts of our anniversary show below.

Part 1:

(1) Games ”Shadows In Bloom“
(2) Autre Ne Veut ”Drama Cum Drama“
(3) Hype Williams ”The Throning“
(4) Girls ”Broken Dreams Club“
(5) LA Vampires & Matrix Metals ”Berlin Baby“
(6) Twin Sister ”All Around and Away We Go“
(7) The Sweethearts ”Burnin' Thru the Night“
(8) Herbcraft “Road to Agartha”
(9) Velvet Davenport “Warmy Personal Routine”
(10) Holy Strays “Faint Beams Ceremony”
(11) Big Troubles “Bite Yr Tongue”
(12) D’eon “Keep The Faith (Airbird Remix)
(13) Philip Seymour Hoffman “requiem for the ghostbuster”
(14) Perfume Genius “Look Out, Look Out”

Part 2:

(15) Rangers “Deerfield Village”
(16) Tamaryn “Love Fade”
(17) Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti “Bright Lit Blue Skies”
(18) Pigeons “Fade Away”
(19) Julian Lynch “Mare”
(20) Demdike Stare “Caged in Stammheim”
(21) Ensemble Economique “Forever Eyes”
(22) LA Vampires & Zola Jesus “Bone Is Bloodstone”
(23) Sun Araw “Deep Cover”
(24) Woods “Blood Dries Darker”
(25) Herzog “Cautiously Optimistic”
(26) Coma Cinema “Only”
(27) How to Dress Well “You Hold The Water”
(28) Jeans Wilder “Blanket Mountain”

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