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THE USUAL 4 Letter from the Editor 4 Staff Credits


FEATURES Local Feature 14 Sama Dams

Cover Feature 18 NEW MUSIC

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

5 Aural Fix Yamantaka // Sonic Titans Loma Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever The Mattson 2

COMMUNITY Literary Arts 26 Portland poet Matthew Dickman

8 Short List 8 Album Reviews Hinds Orquestra Pacifico Tropical King Tuff Brazilian Girls

Visual Arts 28 Portland artist and curator Shannon Edwards

LIVE MUSIC 10 Know Your Venue Black Water

12 Musicalendar An encompassing overview of concerts in PDX for the upcoming month. But that’s not all–the Musicalendar is complete with a venue map to help get you around town.

more online at elevenpdx.com

HELLO PORTLAND! I returned home yesterday from Boise, ID following my fifth year in a row performing at Treefort Music Festival, and I find myself both exhausted and rejuvenated. Mentally and physically, I beat myself into the ground with four nights of celebration and debauchery. Spiritually I feel elevated after watching inspiring performances from old friends and new favorites alike, and from seeing how well an event can showcase the under-represented groups (womxn & P.O.C.), and also while I was away, from watching students around the globe march in the streets, calling for action against gun violence. Coincidentally, these themes are echoed throughout this month’s magazine. Featured in the Visual Arts section, Shannon Edwards touches on her efforts to elevate the womxn and non-binary individuals in the arts communities. Poet Matthew Dickman addresses the violence that surrounded his childhood in SE Portland. Highlighted in Know Your Venue, Black Water serves as a home for Portland’s often-overlooked underground punk and metal scenes. As I resume my work/life routine, I hope to see continued efforts in lifting each other up and advocating for what’s right. One single festival, art show or march isn’t enough. Dutifully yours,

- Travis Leipzig, Managing Editor

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EXECUTIVE STAFF EDITOR IN CHIEF Ryan Dornfeld (ryan@elevenpdx.com) CREATIVE DIRECTOR Dustin Mills (dustin@elevenpdx.com) MANAGING EDITOR Travis Leipzig (travis@elevenpdx.com) SECTION EDITORS LITERARY ARTS: Scott Mchale, Morgan Nicholson VISUAL ARTS: Mercy McNab GRAPHIC DESIGN Dustin Mills CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Cassi Blum, Tyler Burdwood, Matt Carter, Brandy Crowe, Mandi Dudek, Jameson Ketchum, Christopher Klarer, Kelly Kovl, Samantha Lopez, Scott McHale, Gina Pieracci, Kelsey Rzepecki, Ellis Samsara, Tyler Sanford, Eric Swanson, Matthew Sweeney, Charles Trowbridge, Henry Whittier-Ferguson

PHOTOGRAPHERS Mathieu Lewis-Rolland, Molly Macalpine, Mercy McNab, Katie Summer, Todd Walberg COVER PHOTO Neil Krug

ONLINE Mark Dilson, Kim Lawson, Michael Reiersgaard

GET INVOLVED getinvolved@elevenpdx.com www.elevenpdx.com twitter.com/elevenpdx facebook.com/elevenmagpdx

GENERAL INQUIRIES info@elevenpdx.com

ADVERTISING sales@elevenpdx.com ELEVEN WEST MEDIA GROUP, LLC Ryan Dornfeld Dustin Mills

SPECIAL THANKS Our local business partners who make this project possible. Our friends, families, associates, lovers, creators and haters. And of course, our city!

new music aural fix


up and coming music from the national scene



Toronto’s Yamantaka // Sonic Titan are probably the only Noh Wave band in the world. Or, at least, they’re the only band to pin the namesake firmly to their collar. The cheeky selflabeling is a reference to their highly theatrical stage shows, which draw on the traditions of Japanese classic theater when it comes to costuming and makeup. But also, the multiracial and multicultural collective, part band, part multimedia project, throws so much into the crock pot it’d be exhausting to try to pin them down as anything else. Throw together melodramatic anime and J-pop, tricky prog, and a slow, heavy wall of sound that could bring a mountain to its knees and you have got an idea of where to begin. YT//ST are an ongoing exploration of Asian-Canadian and First Nation identity set to a backdrop of epic and surreal widescreen imagery; the collective has encompassed dancers and visual artists. Their third outing for Toronto’s Paper Bag, Dirt, came out March 23 and shows the art-y rockers in fine form. Like YT//ST’s self-titled debut and its follow-up Uzu, their latest record Dirt mines a unique vibe in heavy, proggy rock. Funny that the band seems so close in vision to its first incarnation, considering that Alaska B is the sole original



Photo by Bryan C. Parker


Loma is a trio of artists made up of two bands and many projects, Dan Duszynski and Emily Cross of Cross Record (some may also recognize Cross from her folk/bluegrass vocals from point-and-click adventure game Kentucky Route Zero), and Jonathan Meiburg of fellow Texas indie band Shearwater. Cross Record was still a relatively new band, touring for the first time in Europe with Shearwater when they decided to collaborate. The resulting self-titled album would be born off a dirt road in the Texas countryside, full of joy, fear and heartbreak.

member left. His thunderous drums drive the group’s percussive, textural sound. Coldly beautiful, gazey moments like “The Decay” contrast pretty starkly with rambunctious freakouts like “Yandere.” New singer Joanna Delos can turn from a gossamer voice drifting in an ethereal soundscape to a sword-wielding badass on a mission, just like that. The cover art speaks to that sensibility, as playful and dead serious as any Studio Ghibli adventure. It isn’t all fantasy, though—the album concludes with the incisive “Out of Time,” its pointed lyrics directed squarely at the agents of division and violence getting too comfy lately (Ottawa and a dozen other Canadian cities saw widespread rallies against U.S. gun violence recently). Check out this ferocious rock monster at the Doug Fir lounge April 9. » - Matthew Sweeney

This was Duszynski and Cross’s home, having escaped Chicago to settle just outside of Austin as a married couple and musical partners. During the weeks that they crafted Loma’s sound they decided to divorce, but with the album finished and released on Sub Pop and an active tour, it’s obvious what they have is unconditional and they are seeing this through. The abum is sonically, lyrically and emotionally rich. Both Cross Record and Shearwater held talents for engineering and experimentation. As Loma they continue to blend sounds, creating well thought out layers for unique and varied songs. While there are a few jaunty moments, their sound is relaxing, mystic and delightfully dark. Electronic synths and static are paired with acoustic elements, like the tracks “White Glass” and “Shadow Relief.” Meiburg found joy in organic recordings around the property, seeking chirping birds, cicadas and rustling leaves. An iron skillet was turned to drum on “Relay Runner,” and there are exotic undertones of steel drum and sitar in the completely instrumental “Jornada.” Meiburg wrote the lyrics for Emily Cross’s crystalline voice, and whether they shaped her inwardly as she strongly asserted “When you said serve you. I will not,” alongside the cultish choir of “Black Willow” or in the bittersweet music box pings of “I Don’t Want Children” isn’t for us to wonder. Loma is the sound of exploring, healing and evolving, for the band and it’s audience. » - Brandy Crowe

www.elevenpdx.com | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 5

new music aural fix



Pulling off a five-piece independent rock band with a four word name could seem a presumptuous task for most, but Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever handles the task with style and composure. There is a commendable dynamic in allowing three guitars and three vocals to uniquely contribute on top of a solid bass and energetically on time drumline, that create an in-depth and emotional rock ‘n’ roll sound with

Photo by Rubin Utama

the sentimentality of sounds from the ‘80s (across multiple genres). Since their first release in 2016, Talk Tight, there has been no deviation from the dreamy, melancholy, yet powerful and intense approach. Since 2016, Rolling Blackouts C.F. have been constantly at work, getting themselves signed by Sub Pop Records, releasing The French Press EP in 2017, touring the planet (including stops at notable festivals such as SXSW), shooting music videos and working on a new record. As they cruise the globe in 2018, Rolling Blackouts C.F. will be landing themselves at Coachella to display their undeniable sound to the masses, with only a quick two day reprieve before they appear at the Doug Fir for the thriving and enthusiastic scene here in PDX.

Even in the whirlwind of perpetual motion, the group just released a new single in January titled “Mainland.” The band’s guitarist, Tom Russo, was quoted on Sub Pop News reflecting on and revealing the inspiration to the new energetically striking and melancholy song, stating that he “was reading about a refugee crisis unfolding not far away in the Mediterranean sea,” while adding that, “The song is about longing, disillusionment, privilege and holding onto love as a kind of shield.” Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever captures that emotional charge that such nearly unbearable situations create. » - Ellis Samsara



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new music aural fix

Photo by J Hon Poellnitz



The Mattson 2 are the living, breathing answer to the question: what happens when you get identical twins to jam together? The result, consisting of Jared Mattson on guitar and Jonathan Mattson on drums, brings together a range of sounds stretching from bebop and swing all the way up into surf rock, jam-band psychedelia and modern pop. Whatever clichés exist about the subliminally telepathic connection between twins, they turn out to be true–The Mattson 2 communicate musically in the effortless way of people who’ve known each other their entire lives, able to conjure vast instrumental soundscapes that ebb and flow, swelling into intricate peaks and valleys that still retain the off-handedness and easy familiarity of a shared history. The duo’s latest release, Star Stuff, is a collaboration with Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi, and though the pair’s signature rhythm section remains distinctive, Bundick’s pop and hip-hopleaning songwriting style brings an interesting new factor to the experience. Introducing The Mattson 2 (2009) and Feeling Hands (2011) both play on up-

tempo rhythms and melodies evocative of someone like John Scofield, or even The Grateful Dead. The 2014 EP Agar sprawls in its modal progressions, lending a sense of timelessness to the music. The pair have said that they aren’t a Jazz group, and indeed it’s hard to categorize them so narrowly. More so, they represent the ways in which that form of music has come to grow and evolve, spreading beyond itself, bleeding its blues into everything it touches. There on the borders, where it’s spilling out, you can find a pair of twins in black and white playing like they’ve known it their whole lives. » - Henry WhittierFerguson

QUICK TRACKS A “JBS” Groove-heavy psychedelic pop instrumentation with minimalistic, melodic vocals from Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundic.

B “BLACK RAIN” A sprawling, orchestral and emotive instrumental track blurring the lines between indie rock, jazz and post-rock.

www.elevenpdx.com | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 7

new music album reviews


“The Club” bounces with all the charm of a mid-’90s coming-of-age comedy soundtrack, while “Tester” ups the attitude through vengeful narratives of unrequited affections. I Don’t Run embraces a wonderful diversity of styles and genres with


sultry punk vocals (“Linda”) contrasted with grungy and lonely laments (“I Feel


Cold But I Feel More”). “To the Morning


Light” wails that vintage guitar shine over an imperfectly lovely singalong,

Short List Eels The Deconstruction Hop Along Bark Your Head Off, Dog Zola Jesus Okovi: Additions A Place to Bury Strangers Pinned King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard Gumboot Soup Laura Veirs The Lookout Speedy Ortiz Twerp Verse

Hinds I Don't Run Mom + Pop

Melvins Pinkus Abortion Technician Twin Shadow Caer Lord Huron Vide Noir Blackwater Holylight Blackwater Holylight Wye Oak The Louder I call, The Faster It Runs Buy it

Stream it

Toss it

L Orquestra Pacifico Tropical

El Tren Self-released

facebook.com/elevenmagpdx @elevenpdx

8 | ELEVEN PORTLAND | www.elevenpdx.com

midnight chat feel. “Rookie” is the unsung toe-tapping hero of the record, speeding up the tone and once again highlighting

Hinds is the very definition of great garage rock. Unfiltered, biting and unapologetic, the band’s newest album I Don’t Run is pure liberation. The Madrid-based four piece has let us in on a lifetime of late night conversations around a bottle and disguised it as their quintessential statement of arrival, among a scene quietly desperate for revitalization.

Willie Nelson Last Man Standing


again invoking that secret club,

Psychedelic Cumbia is far from the most ambitious fusion genre to ever come out of the PNW, but it is likely the one with the most rapturous result. As a meeting of Colombian folkloric and African/ European influence, Orquestra Pacifico Tropical's take on Cumbia music is executed without neglect to the rock scene in their vicinity. On El

all four vocals. It’s a record of selfreflection and inward inventory, a messy beauty which Hinds have used to unlock their most important songs to date. The listener feels let in on a secret, something hushed and whispered to only those worthy of fully feeling its intention. » - Jameson Ketchum

Tren, OPT is a locomotive of musical transportation–and why a train, you ask? Once a train gets started, much like the collective's clappable rhythm and animated horns, it's quite difficult to disembark. If psychedelic rock's M.O. is to enhance the experience of hallucinogens, then OPT's flinging of listeners into a jubilant rhythmic frenzy is all the mind-altering you really need. “Siglo Nuevo” (or “New Century” in English) typifies how the band takes rousing fiesta-like aspirations and somehow channels them into a four-minute piece of fuzzy psych-guitars and slingshot effects. With the majority of tracks hovering around three minutes, even “Cumbia Marinero”–the shortest track on the album–still brims with the instrumental talent of each member. You don't need to take an elective course in college to enjoy international music, and you need no more proof than El Tren. » - Matt Carter

new music album reviews

King Tuff The Other Sub Pop No one would mistake King Tuff for someone who really gives a fuck what musical cognoscenti think about the state of rock ‘n’ roll. He’s been making his own funkified version of garage psych rock for a minute now, and each release sees him leaning even more into his developing sympathies for the lyrically bizarre and the musically fierce. With The Other, he doubles down on his most notable elements–a

Brazilian Girls Let's Make Love Six Degrees Records

On “The Critic,” released as a single in 2016, Brazilian Girls lead singer Sabina Sciubba advises, “Listen to the music/Don’t play the critic.” That track leads off this month’s new full-length and long awaited fourth album, Let’s Make Love, which was

proprietary blend of unpredictable guitar work and song structures– creating perhaps his most complete album to-date. The lyrical content of The Other finds King Tuff (née Kyle Thomas) articulating his ascent from a selfproclaimed dark place from which he had to scrabble and claw his way back. When he kicked out the early single, “The Other,” Thomas described it as such: “It’s a song about hitting rock bottom. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do anymore, but I still had this urge—this feeling—like there was this possibility of something else I could be doing… and then I just followed that possibility.” He conveys this feeling of darkened ambiguity with a tender, synth-driven trip through the ether. Although it is decidedly down-tempo and incredibly personal, “The Other” is a perfect entry point into the rest of the album, both thematically and sonically. The Other rides heavily on the synthesizer, with the guitar providing more of a melodic flavor, and it is this sort of surreal pump that pushes

recorded around the world over the past few years with long-time producer Frederik Rubens. The album follows their last LP, New York City, released a decade ago, as well as a solo album by Sciubba (Toujours) in 2014. Followers will love this collection of 13 new songs, and new fans will be impressed by this otherworldly collaboration of musicians. Close your eyes and pick a track, because they all get you to move or feel something good somehow. Brazilian Girls has this way of just being random, but also being completely right. Threads of punk, house, tango, reggae and jazz permeate throughout the album, creating a paradoxical sound that is both old and new at the same time. Sciubba brings new dimensions to their sound when she sings in Italian, Spanish, or any of her six languages. No matter the vernacular, she has a distinct singing style. The message of this album is written in its title; A simple, poignant

tracks like “Psycho Star” forward. With a funky bass line and catchy little hook, Thomas pokes around the nature of our place in the universe. “Thru the Cracks” drips with some southern songwriting elements, dancing around the angelic chorale backing the main vocals. It’s an oft-told tale: the misunderstood slipping through the cracks of a cookie-cutter existence, but Thomas makes it sound less like a dirge and more like smiling overture. But, it’s not all serious. “Raindrop Blue” is an absolutely perfect ode to his raindrop blue Subaru Brat. It’s a funky, somehow heartwarming booty-shaker that calls back some of his earlier weirdness. The synth goes crazy, running up and down, and the bass just bumps itself into place. The Other is polished and well thought-out. Thomas manages to walk the line between ripping out his heart and making you want more. It can be a risky endeavor for an artist to ‘go serious,’ but with the path already walked, and the music some of his best, King Tuff more than shows out. » - Charles Trowbridge

statement to make love. That’s all you need to know, now and forever. While all the tracks are enjoyable, it was one of the final songs that sent me over the edge. “Impromptu” is this powerful, addicting anthem that starts off stating that “Profit is your religion.” I liked it so much I listened to it 11 times in a row. Unable to find the lyrics, I just made them up as I sang along. Other notable tracks include “Wild Wild Web,” which is super danceable, synthy and relevant; and “Looking for Love,” a catchy, hopeful and shoulder-shaking number. This album is a great choice for many occasions, like cleaning your apartment, making love or any movement-related activity. Brazilian Girls are consistent in their ability to create new music on a whim. This feelgood album is the best complement to the Spring season. 11/10, would recommend. » - Kelly Kovl

www.elevenpdx.com | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 9

live music Photo by Molly Macalpine

as well as a recording studio, where guitar blasts might escape while perusing the inventory. Most recently, the second location on Broadway was secured to open a bar, restaurant and live music venue. The doors are also open to provide a community space for various causes to use for fundraisers, gatherings and other events. “There aren’t a lot of spaces that don’t charge a lot, and there isn’t a lot of money involved with what we do, so we try to provide a space for causes that need one.” says Testerman. “There is a huge scene in Portland, probably one of the biggest underground punk scenes in the world.” he says, citing that this is one of the few all-ages venues in Portland. There are a lot of shows going on here, but event links are hard to come by ahead of time. “Since it’s such a big scene we do it old school. When you go to the record store you see the flyers instead of checking a website.” says co-owner Alex Carraccio, who used to write underground music blog PDX Subvert. Of course, keeping everything word-of-mouth is not entirely intentional. “We’re just really spread thin on time,” she laughs.

KNOW YOUR VENUE Black Water | 835 NE Broadway

Many nights find Testerman in the soundbooth and Corraccio behind the bar. The sound set-up apparently started with a basement amp, but it doesn’t sound like it’s in a basement anymore. They are humbly building upon what they have. Everything is a grassroots approach, and there’s a homey feeling as everyone gathers in front of the stage or fills the back seating to enjoy the 100% vegan menu, which is full of delicious burgers, hot “wings,” cashew


lack Water is more than just a bar on a strange corner in the Lloyd District, it’s Portland’s

underground music resource center. Owner Keith Testerman named the venture after a favorite early ‘80s track by Japanese band Execute (NOT the military company). It started as an underground label and distribution center and later became Black Water Records on NE Morrison, where you can find old Hawkwind vinyl and a number of records off of the Black Water label. Black Water Records also houses a screen printing studio for shirts and show posters,

10 | ELEVEN PORTLAND | www.elevenpdx.com

Photo by Molly Macalpine

live music

Local band Mr. Wrong playing Black Water. Photo by Molly Macalpine

based sauces and vegan cupcakes (there’s also vegan brunch). When asked about the correlation between punk, metal and goth music communities and veganism, they says it’s about ethics. “Most people are involved in this scene for ethical reasons to begin with. Animal rights, human rights, the environment,” says Carraccio, “So there are scary songs about nice things.” Spring and summer usually bring international tours to join the local punk/metal/hardcore/dark bands that play the Black Water stage. April shows include local bands Rubble and Impulse Control, Portland/ International band Red Dawns (The Observers), Primer Regimen from Bogata, Columbia and French band The Lullies. Early May brings Contrast Attitude from Japan and UK’s anarcho-punk legends Antisect. » - Brandy Crowe

Local band Macho Boys playing Black Water. Photo by Molly Macalpine

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Sassyblack | The Seshen Durand Jones & The Indications | Saeeda Wright Acid Tongue | Cat Hoch | Robin Bacior Life & Limb | Worws | Year of the Coyote Soccer Mommy | Madeline Kenney Mt. Joy | Fort Atlantic Geographer Bitch'n | No Kind of Rider | Mero Yamantaka // Sonic Titan The Hague | Cool American | Luna Vista Albert Hammond Jr. | Pinky Pinky Federale | Fernando | Evan Thomas Way Ural Thomas & The Pain | Eldridge Gravy Gill Landry Lo Moon | Kraus Cam Coast Modern | Mikey Mike | Waterbed The Brevet The Cave Singers | Red Ribbon Sloan The Sherlocks | The Domestics | The Breaking Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever Phoebe Bridgers | Lomelda Slow Corpse | The Hugs | Surfs Drugs Strange Ranger | Lee Corey Oswald | Little Star Bowievision | SOS Charlotte Cardin | Niia | Aliocha




Marlon Williams | Tiny Ruins Kevin Morby | Hand Habits Kululuu | Sheers | Dominoes Gonzalez Sama Dams | Kelli Schaefer | Pool Boys The Soft Moon | Boy Harsher | Vive La Void Sure Sure Nina Diaz | Wild Moccasins Prism Tats Marty O'Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra Blackwater Holylight | Weeed | Gardener Loma | Jess Williamson Sons of an Illustrious Father Y La Bamba | Kera | Brown Calculus

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Chromeo | Phantoms Alvvays | Frankie Rose Nightwish Dashboard Confessional | Beach Slang | Kississippi Luke Combs R+R = NOW Fiji | Morgan Heritage | Maoli & Nomad Zapp & The Dazz Band | The Othership Connection De La Soul Flatbush Zombies | Kirk Knight | Nyck Caution 3LAU | Elephante The Fratellis | Blood Red Shoes NAV | 88Glam

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The Darkness | Diarrhea Planet Jonathan Davis (of Korn) | Palisades Amanda Palmer | Jason Webley The Breeders | Post Pink The Neighbourhood | Health | Field Medic Uncut Youth Music Experience Marian Hill | Michl Kelsea Ballerini | Walker Hayes Noname+BJ The Chicago Kid | Gus Dapperton & Fontaine Down The Rabbit Hole Bishop Briggs | Matt Maeson


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MC Chris | Bitforce The Moondoggies | Tango Alpha Tango Whores | Helms Alee | Pushy | Marriage + Cancer Windhand | By The Hathchet | Holy Grove | Black Mare Dead Meadow | Sumac | Dommengang | Fuure Usses Twin Shadow | Yuno Surfbort | Pow! Black Belt Eagle Scout | Holy Hum Matt Alber | Jon Garcia Kuinka | Rainbow Girls King Black Acid | The Fur Coats | Streetcar Conductors Wild Child | Stelth Ulvang Pete International Airport | Daydream Machine | Heaven









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DJs in The Taproom (weekends)


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Wet Dream | Ben Zar | Frenz Ice Queens | Skinny The Kid | PennyMart Mujahedeen | Kal Marks | Loom



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Sunbathe | No Aloha | Surfer Rosie Vice Device | Missions | Dan Dan | DJ Ian Hicks Orquestra Pacifico Tropical | Chanti Darling Public Eye | Deathlist | WL Chaos Chaos DJ Black Daria | Cay Horiuchi | DJ Mami Mami Natasha Kmeto | Maarquii | Siren & The Sea Kasbo | Baynk Zaytoven





Jungle | Omar Apollo Echosmith | The Score | Jena Rose Marc E. Bassy | Rexx Life Raj | Gianni Taylor The Residents Andrea Gibson | Chastity Brown The Big Pescado Hayley Kiyoko Carpenter Brut | Jean Jean Tyler Childers | Lillie Mae Frankie Cosmos | Ian Sweet | Soar JID | Earthgang Wyclef Jean | Culture Crew | Moira Mack | Anael Jeannis Cigarettes After Sex Django Django Dessa | Monakr Jukebox The Ghost | The Greeting Committee


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Eye Candy VJs (Mondays) Party Damage DJs (Tuesdays) KPSU DJs (Wednesdays) Talk Town Live (hip hop live interview & podcast) Flickathon Presents: People under the Stairs Dead Phone Dummiez | N.G.M. | Verbz Songs For Snow Plow Drivers | Rat Heaven The Juice (hip hop and comedy) Flickathon Presents: Felice Brothers The Shrilltones | My Proper Skin | Nine:Forty:PM Hot Won't Quit | Headwaves | Rilla Flickathon Presents: Those Darlins The Adio Sequence Robots of the Ancient World | The Decliners | The Hot LZs Jane Deaux | Tarah Who? | Dry Can | Summer Soundtrack Flickathon Presents: Tank & The Bangas The New Candys | Burning Palms | Hollow Sidewalks

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Photo by Molly Macalpine

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King Louie & LaRhonda Steele Cary Miga Quartet Eli & Fur Tube & Berger Bodywork Monthly Series w/Jason Burns Mothership - Episode 1 NVL Soul Night 4.20 Celebration featuring ExMag 90's Night Cut Snake Swing City

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Pimps of Joytime Flannel Fest: 90s Grunge Tribute Show The Wailin' Jennys Anderson East | JS Ondara Cornelius Secret World Live John Hiatt & The Goners Leftover Salmon & Keller Williams Joseph } Becca Mancari Mount Eerie


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Toffee Club 2nd Birthday - Party Hits 9 til late Indiepop Brunch w/My Lil Underground Hip hop, trap & R&B w/Drew The Universe Indiepop Brunch w/My Lil Underground Britpop, New Wave & UK Indie w/Huff & Green Indiepop Brunch w/My Lil Underground Old Skool - Funk & Soul Indiepop Brunch w/My Lil Underground

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Two-Step Tuesdays (Every Tuesday) Will Moore Band | Mood Beach | No Damsel Jaycob Van Auken Local Roots Live Series Faustina Masigat | Birger Olsen Western Centuries The Lasses & Kathryn Clair | Malachi Graham Stephanie Scelza Phil Ajjarapu & His Heart Army | Marmalakes


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Not So Secret Family Show (Sundays) Salsa Social (Tuesdays) Zydeco (Wednesdays) Swing (Thursdays) Oldmil | Haymaker | Wilinson Blades | The Loved The Cat's Meow fea/ Mod Carousel The Shimmy Hendrix Experience The Midnight Serenaders | Bridgetown Sextet The Tree Frogs Reunion Show Bang-A-Rang! Rocksteady Explosion

Want to have your show listed? E-mail listings@elevenpdx.com

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ith their third album, Say It, Sama Dams top themselves in their specialized craft of experimental rock. They will promote their album with a tour of central Europe, with many dates in the German-speaking world. There is a bit of Kraftwerk to this band, but there is also jazz, psychedelia, and, as I learned over coffee and donuts with the band, a backbone of classical composition at play as well. ELEVEN: What have you noticed about your audience? Chris Hermsen: Our music seems to speak to someone in the age range of 30-60. People in that age bracket at our shows are most captivated, most likely to talk to us afterward about our music. Sam Adams: I do remember that when we started out in Portland, people would stand back kind of far. That was a little annoying to me. I know we’re not very fun, but... CH: We’re also not very loud. They weren’t trying to get out of the sound. SA: I think they were just trying to take it in, stand back and watch. I’m not saying our music is hard to understand, but I hear over and over, “It took me like three times listening to the record before it really clicked, but then it really clicked.”

Sama Dams

Lisa Adams: I would say our demographic tends to be more male than female. The music is reminiscent of music from the ‘70s in its experimental nature, and that might attract a certain kind of listener. 11: Do you have any favorite bands from a least favorite genre? LA: I’d say one of my biggest guilty pleasures is Mannheim Steamroller. SA: She loves it. LA: I hate that genre in general— even some Mannheim Steamroller. 11: The Christmas album maybe? LA: Well, no it’s actually all the Christmas albums that I really love, and I hate the other stuff. I feel like the music is so indulgent. In any normal context, I would reject that. Some of it’s nostalgia, things that I listened to growing up are things that I gravitate to. In general, instrumental, synth-heavy songs are not always my favorite. 11: What’s your favorite kind of music? LA: I like alternative rock a lot. I really love Radiohead. I definitely like rock that has good words: St Vincent,

Blonde Redhead. I grew up listening to a lot of jazz and then played a lot of classical music, sang a lot of classical music. I have a degree in vocal music education, did opera in college.

the cemetery where Beethoven and

11: Oh okay. Any other musically educated members? [Sam sheepishly raises his hand] What’s your deal, Sam?

a translator or a driver?

SA: I got a degree in piano. I did a double major in jazz studies and classical performance. 11: Okay, who are your jazz people? SA: I don’t like his attitude, but Keith Jarrett’s playing is really just great. 11: I don’t think I know him. Does he play with any of the famouser ones? SA: Yeah, he was on Bitches Brew [Miles Davis]. That was really early. His main deal were these big solo concerts he put on. There’s a famous record called The Köln Concert—it’s just him improvising, solo piano the entire time. It’s a double record. He’s got this really peculiar habit of singing along and his voice is like–I don’t want to speak ill of cats while there’s one present–but it’s not good. That’s kind of like part of the package. When you improvise, sometimes you need to sing to embody the music. 11: Sam, you’re teaching yourself about electronic instruments? SA: Yeah, I’m learning a little bit. I’m trying to learn about Arduino stuff. They’re little microchips—they’re PCB [Printed Circuit Boards]. They have microprocessors on them. You can do all kinds of things with them–install custom car horns, make a cereal dispenser with spinning gears. You can make your toaster dance, if you know how to work with servos and motors and all that. It’s just like a brain. What I’m trying to do now is build a replacement set of MIDI organ pedals for the band. 11: Europe’s coming up. Are you looking forward to anything? Any anxieties?

Schubert and Brahms are buried. It’s called Zentralfriedhof. They have like a shrine. 11: Do you have someone there like

CH: Everyone knows English. LA: We won’t have anyone else with us the whole time. We taught Sam how to drive stick this year, so we are all going to be eligible to drive the rental vehicle. SA: I’m going to drive on the Autobahn! Last time we were there we topped off at 180 kmh [about 110 mph] in our van, being passed on all sides.



Tracy Bonham & Blake Morgan Wasted Words Biddy On The Bench Robots Nicholas Franchise | Low Flyer | Louder Oceans Syco Billy's String Band Weekend Assembly Lagoon Squad | The Quags | Lowlight Rules of Motion | Fir | Radio Phoenix Gurf Morlix | Silver Lake 66 Erisy Watt | Jake William Capistran | Herbert Bail Vacilando | Daystar Band Of Comerados The Tumblers | Heather Littlefield & The Buckle Dusters The Dead To Rights | Fells Acres Mic Check (local hip hop showcase) Weener (Ween Tribute) Mexican Gunfight Orenco Station Band

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CH: But a loaded van with all of us, and our gear, and its the size of a Transit Connect. 11: I’m definitely putting this in because it could be really cosmic if you die this way. LA: We’ll get our will together before we go. SA: Always keep spare change on you because the bathroom costs money. LA: What did he say to me last time? “Skirt! Skirt!” There was a bathroom attendant who chased me out of a bathroom calling me “skirt” because I didn’t pay a euro. 11: We haven’t talked about your new album Say It yet. I like it a lot. It sounds like a ton of work. It’s long, the album has a lot of parts, a lot of voices. So what went into recording it? CH: Basically what you just said.


SA: We were at The Hallowed Halls for five days tracking. And then we did two days of overdubs at The Magic Closet. LA: Rest in peace. SA: We do a lot of work pre-session. 11: Demos and stuff?

producer, lots of rehearsal because we like to go in there and play live.


Madison Crawford & The Half of It | Bubble Cats John Davis | Sam Coomes Briana Marela | Ever Ending Kicks | mindparade Hunger | Lavender Flu | Day Dos Rich Halley 4 | Savage/St. James/DuRoche Yardsss | Tied To A Grizzly | Sunsout Michael Hurley | Jerry David Decicca | Barry Walker, Jr. Roseblood | Tsar Anise | Sean Croghan Severance Package | Dark/Light | Remnants Maurice Spencer | Bill Barry | Aubrey Debauchery Rob Magill | Multi-Verse | Ensemble Bart Davenport | Mini Blinds | Palm Crest Beverly | Lubec | Havania Whaal Magick Gardens | Fox Medicine | Law Boss MikeDonovan|LavenderFlu|DraggingAnOxThroughWater Peaceful Valley | Ash Dives | Institute For Creative Dying Sheers | Meleana Cadiz | Vordestrasse B.R. Mount | Family Mansion | Bre Depriest David J | Joshua Charles McCaslin Rooftop Love Club | Husky Boys | Skelevision

HAWTHORNE THEATRE 11: How long did it take?

SA: Yes, demos, working with our LA: Vienna is really cool. Last time we were there we got to go see


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Prong | Powerflow | Cutthroat | Sifting | Proven The Maine | The Wrecks | The Technicolors Moose Blood | Lydia & Mccaftery Kate Nash | Miya Folick Brian Fallon & The Howling Weather | Ruston Kelly Whiskey Myers | Jobe Fortner Jaden Smith King Lil G | EMC Senatra | Hi Tone | Cool Nutz Turnstile | Touche Amore | Culture Abuse | Razorbumps Twiztid | Blaze Ya Dead Homie | Gorilla Voltage Ripe | The Dip | Soul Vibrator Jorja Smith | Ama Lou Skizzy Mars | Oliver Tree The Lawrence Arms | Red City Radio | Sincere Engineer Sons of Apollo | Felix Martin



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Kevin Morby | Hand Habits Anders Osbone & Todd Park Mohr The Lil Smokies | Mapache Jesse Colin Young PJ Morton + Leela James Bettye LaVette Paul Barrere & Fred Tackett Uriah Heep Motley 2 Red Yarn

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Wretched of the Earth | Annapura | Leucrota Clarke & The Himselfs The Fur Coats | Muscle Dungeon | Ex-Kids Piss Test | Hayley & The Crushers | Fire Nuns Casper Skulls | Risley THE FIRKIN TAVERN Located on the west side of Ladd’s, the Firkin Tavern features an astounding selection of craft beers to enjoy inside or on our patio. Art enthusiasts will enjoy a variety of local artwork on display and sold comission-free! SE LADD'S 1937 SE 11th Ave (97214) 503.206.7552 | thefirkintavern.com

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Skeletal Family | Fangs on Fur | Deathcharge Hux Flux | Gorilladust | Deafchild | Balam Una Dama Diva Chrome Sparks | Machinedrum | Ela Minus Moonchild Ghost-Note | Polyrhythmics Tezeta Band Ron Artis II & The Truth | Christopher Worth | Moorea Masa Yak Attack | Mars Retrieval Unit

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Nasalrod | Marriage + Cancer | Bobby Peru Champion Stanley Ipkuss | Joe Mousepad | Slurgeon | Snugsworth Reid Speed | Dunjin | Lil Grenadine | Scot Free | Stemi Awesome Tapes From Africa | Sahel Sounds & Cuica Mike Dehnert | Andrew Boie | JAK

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Thor & Friends | Norman Westberg Wimpy Rutherford & The Cryptics Scott Biram & Jesse Dayton | Rod Melancon Swamp Devil | Redeemers The Goddamn Gallows | Koffin Kats | Against The Grain Red Sun Rising | Them Evils

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Photo by Todd Walberg

11: Who’s your producer? SA: He’s named Sebastian Rogers. He doesn’t produce much else these days. He’s a good friend and a great producer. 11: What makes him good? SA: He knows us and he’s not afraid to be very honest. He knows who the music should connect to and he helps train the overall vision of the band to be in line with that unified sound. CH: He sees the big picture and knows how to get there in the timeline that we give him. SA: He’s a dear friend. He also knows how to find my weakest points and shine light on them, which is great for somebody who wants the best for you, but it’s also incredibly painful. The other guy who works with us is Ian Watts, the engineer. He’s a studio genius in the way he’s super calm and he knows how to solve problems. LA: He’s a really nice personality to have in a recording room. SA: That team recorded all our records. 11: Is there anything you would describe as unconventional or new for you about making the album? SA: One of the songs changed pretty drastically before post-production. 11: Did you change the basic tracks too?

SA: We cut it up. I hated the chorus, so we completely hacked up the structure of the song. CH: Yeah, that we’d never done– taking the bones and moving them around. 11: You’ve got the track "Say It" and the album Say it, so… say what? SA: Say what? I think the whole record is about being more honest in the relationships we have. I wrote the title track after visiting home [in Indiana] and seeing my grandma. She’s in a nursing home now, and has these four storage units full of garbage. My uncles are all trying to get her to let go of stuff... There’s just this oppressive feeling when you can’t say what you feel. When I go down there, even though I know that she’s said terrible things, and she’s done things that have alienated my family, I still want to be a loving person to her because she’s family. That got me thinking of that kind of tension you have when you’re caretaking for someone who’s difficult, but you can’t—it would be wrong to push them aside. It’s a responsibility that you have. That was one of the starting points for the record. LA: I think a lot of the record for me is about looking back to move forward, trying to figure out some of the frustrations and heartache. The song “Secrets” is about some relationships that I’ve had with friends in the past, and how I don’t feel like I’ve actually told them how I feel or what I’m thinking. And instead I let things grow or fester instead of just making the intention to clear the air with someone,

making myself vulnerable to talk with that person to make amends. I think the songs that I have on the album are about that and about my family—my parents got divorced. 11: Like recently? LA: No, it was in college, but it was stuff that had been building for a long time. Then, when it finally happens you start thinking about your past and all of the signs that were there the whole time. I think a lot of it is about healing by saying things to people. 11: So you and Sam were both on the same page. SA: Oh yeah. 11: Are you married to… each other?

L Sama Dams

Say It Friendship Fever

It probably comes as no surprise to those familiar with Sama Dams that their fourth release, Say It, is hard to pin down. Featuring a kaleidoscopic track list of songs that refuse to settle in one place for too long, Sama Dams finds success in an assortment of meticulously crafted songs that manage to spontaneous dissolve and rearrange before your very eyes. Err... ears. While the trio’s excellent vocal and instrumental performances keep the album feeling filler-free, the most successful songs on Say It are the ones that keep listeners on their toes as to what comes next.

LA: Yes. SA: We talk. 11: How do you explain what your band sounds like to well-meaning but non-musical people in your life, like co-workers and aunts? LA: I’d say that’s been our struggle as a band. We cannot answer that question. SA: Weird rock. CH: I just say “rock” and they’ll take it at that or they'll keep digging, and you get into this rabbit hole and you’re like, “Listen to Radiohead.” SA: You just try not to say Radiohead the whole time, but you do end up saying it. » - Tyler Burdwood


features APRIL DANTES (CONTINUED) Knower | PigWar | RC & The Gritz Reverend Beat-Man | Nicole Izobel Garcia Glaare | Shadowhouse | Sex Park Huntertones | Swatkins | Positive Agenda Birdcloud | Chris Crofton Sam Riggs | Michael Dean Damron I Can Lick Any SOB In The House | Lucky 13's | Brass Tacks Sunny Sweeney | Ward Davis | Tennessee Jet


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Erotic City (Prince tribute) The Larks | Alexa Wiley | Loose Change | Ma Fondue Tevis Hodge Jr. Dumpster Joe | Zach Bryson | Blue Flags & Black Grass Norman Sylvester Band Son De Cuba Cool Breeze Gerle Haggard Harvey Brindell & The Tablerockers Weske

LAURELTHIRST PUB Case in point: you-thought-it-wassaccharine album opener “Pockets” grabs the listener immediately as delicate vocals from Lisa Adams and excellent drumming from Chris Hermsen lure listeners into a wailing synth and double-vocal-backed ambush. The song’s twists and turns are a good preparation for “Driving By,” which features Sam Adams on lead vocals, an ensemble cast of flutes, distorted guitar and synths that seem to come and go to join forces as they please. After the driving organ-backed title track “Say It,” the album takes a bit of a stylistic shift on the more electronic and R&Binfluenced “Down by One” and “Dig Ourselves a Hole.” While delivering interesting performances, the more straightforward nature of the two tracks can leave one wanting compared to what came before. The following cinematic and dreamy “Western Love” reveals itself to be an album highlight as it manages to do what Sama Dams does best–combining several seemingly disparate ideas into something larger than the sum of its parts, and in a way that makes the listener glad they’re not quite sure how they ended up where they are. » - Eric Swanson


Swimming Bell | Andrew Victor | Yankee Gaucho


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HOLLYWOOD THEATRE A not-for-profit organization whose mission is to entertain, inspire, educate and connect the community through the art of film while preserving an historic Portland landmark. NE HOLLYWOOD 4122 NE Sandy Blvd (97212) 503.493.1128 | hollywoodtheatre.org



Supposably | Alminiana | Laura Sowards | Moms Mad Polar Bear Capitalist | Bitches of the Sun | High Five Danger Freemans Dead | Gusset Rold | Psyclops | Arbiters The Wobblies | All Worked Up | The Tanked Nicolai Carrera & The Celebrators | Louder Oceans The Home Team | The Second After | Bleacher Days Outlier | Words From Aztecs | Skulk | True Form Nick Roberts | Lynyrd Nimoy | Damian Discoll RVIVR | Petite | Mala Fides LaGoon | Ethereal Sea | Head The Hive Lord Gore | Petrification | Terminal Conquest Famine Fest Presents The Out of Body Experience | The Weird Kids | Dog Lord Impiety | Divine Eve | Gravehill | Torture Rack Escape From The Zoo | Ground Score | The Antidonts Street Tramps | Street Hassle | Exacerbators The Ogres | The Sellwoods | The Mean Reds Abraskadabra



Mystrionics | Childspeak | Toothbone The Big News | Born Sick Mere Mention | Lubec



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18 | ELEVEN PORTLAND | www.elevenpdx.com

uban Nielson lived out the pipe dream of every aspiring musician: he uploaded a single track to the internet, it blew up, he got signed and the rest is history. The single? That would be “Ffunny Ffriends.” The band (although solo act at the time)? Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Since his initial scene-stealing turn, Nielson has continued to create musically complex and thematically rich records. 2013’s II showcased Nielson’s significant guitar chops and the experience of a quick rise to fame. The 2015 follow-up, Multi-Love, explored the equal-parts invigorating and heartbreaking experience of opening his marriage to a third party while digging into some comparatively highfidelity production techniques. With Sex & Food (2018), Nielson finds himself eyeballing the more surreal elements of existence through a prismatic lens of dry-humored funk, slithery disco and mashed-up rock and roll. If that reads as slightly chaotic, that’s because it is–by design. Every good musician has the quintessential ‘on the road’ album–the one where they shed the shackles of previous artistic success and look outward to the world for inspiration or new avenues for exploration. Nielson (and frequently bassist Jake Portrait) didn’t just get out on the road, they jumped on jet planes and hopped continents–frequently returning to Portland to hammer out more pieces of the record. Spending notable time in Reykjavik, Seoul, Vietnam and Mexico City, Sex & Food is imbued with a sense of musical ambition that Nielson attributes to a willingness to let his surroundings seep into the process bit by bit.

His sense of humor is evident in the first single released from the album, “American Guilt.” Fuzzy, boisterous and the most lyrically ‘topical’ track, Nielson thought it would be funny to throw some of his fan base a taste of the new record that was actually much different than the rest of surprisingly gentle line-up. Indeed, it is a grinder of a song. Matched only somewhat sonically is “Major League Chemicals,” the de facto album opener–a rollicky, psych-rock throwback that gives the first glimpse into the theme of identity obscured by drugs or consumption that pops up throughout the rest of the record. “This Doomsday” shuffles stoically, propelled by beautifully contrapuntal vocal and guitar lines framing the enduring possibility of existential regret. “If You’re Going to Break Yourself” is a floating, ethereal elegy to broken relationships. “Hunnybee” is a delightfully twitchy take on R&B. The juxtaposition of these sounds and styles is not only glaring, but an integral part of the album as a whole. It’s tender and aggressive; unpolished and meticulously created. Nielson and crew let the leash go as far as it possibly can, contemplate letting it go completely, and then snatch it back at the last second, ultimately tying together a brilliant amalgamation of thoughts, experiences and sounds for a record that, frankly, in other hands could have been a trainwreck. In Nielson’s, it’s just the opposite. Fortunately for us, we were able to track Nielson down to gather his myriad thoughts on Sex & Food, and pick his brain about the creative process and how, despite his frequently downer subject matter, he’s really just a normal dude.

www.elevenpdx.com | ELEVENPhoto PORTLAND 19 by Katie |Summer

features national scene ELEVEN: Let’s dive in here. Can you talk about the origins of Sex & Food? It sounds like you traveled all around and recorded in all these different places. Given how, with other albums, you’ve talked about how you’ve mined life experiences for creative content, why was this album more of an ‘on the road’ album? Ruban Nielson: I suppose when I first started I had this feeling it was going to be kind of fractured, and as time wore on it kind of felt like the whole of society was getting kind of fractured and confused. I felt like I started with this feeling that it was going to be a combination of extremes, and eclectic, and as I kept working on it, it kind of felt like I couldn’t help that–like, I couldn’t stop it if I tried. Does that make sense? I suppose, the last two albums that I just kind of made in the same space–I made them in my basement–I made them at night, by myself, and it kind of felt like if I did this entire record like that, it was going to drive me nuts. It’s kind of lonely down there, and I’m down there so often, I knew this record was going to take longer. My creative ambition for it was bigger, I guess, so I kind of thought that I needed to start playing in different places. 11: Did you feel like you had a bigger question, or something that was keeping you up at night, that you needed to reckon with? Something that you felt like you needed to get out of your normal studio

Photo by Neil Krug

setting to grapple with? RN: No, I don’t think so–I don’t think that there was any overarching issue, I just felt like I was kind of waiting for these things to present themselves. I didn’t want it to be too heavy and too serious, but also because of the way that the politics and confusion and the media and stuff, I kind of felt like it was going to be impossible to keep all of that outside of the record. At the same time, I felt like all of that stuff was going to seep in from the side, so I was just trying to stay focused on keeping the record kind of personal, as much as I could. Leaving the states–because I would kind of work at home for a while, and then leave, and then come back and work for a while and then leave–I didn’t really decide where I was going

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to go for sure until it was time to start planning the next place. The first place I went was Reykjavik, and I kind of had my reasons for going there, I always kind of liked Iceland and sometimes it feels like their society is like a cult of nature or something. I kind of felt like it would be interesting to be in a place like that wandering around the landscape and write my impressions of what was going on. I was in the Uber coming from the airport, and the driver was talking about how people in Iceland write books–like 1 in 10 or something incredible like that –and how people in Iceland read a crazy amount, and I was telling him that I was writing an album and he was saying that I should go to these certain places and you’ll absorb energy and all

features national scene this. So, I wrote these things down and checked them out–

he recorded, I thought about my personal experience with

they were really inspiring places, and I felt like this was

his music–the first time I heard Jimi Hendrix’s music was

going to work. Once I got back to Portland I was working

probably in a movie or a tv show about the Vietnam War.

on the record a little bit more and decided that I wanted

And I was thinking that a lot of the ‘60s music that I was

to go to Seoul because I wanted to be near the DMZ (De-

influenced by was probably inspired by the Vietnam War,

Militarized Zone). I always loved that story of Bowie and

and I thought that was kind of a strange thing that I hadn’t

Iggy Pop going to Berlin, being near the Berlin Wall, and I

really dealt with before. So I thought, well maybe I could

was thinking, what’s the modern equivalent of that? The

be inspired by going to Vietnam? It’s a communist country

DMZ! So, I thought, what if I booked a studio as close as

and kind of one of the few places that America was ever

possible to the wall? So I booked a place where they make

defeated, so I kind of felt like maybe I would go there and

K-Pop, and I just kind of hung out with my bandmate Jake

see what kind of ideas I’d come back with. And that worked

[Portrait] and lived in Seoul for a while and continued

really well, too. We didn’t really do anything touristy. We

recording for a while. It was really cool. There wasn’t

just kind of had an apartment there and walked to the

any weird tension or anything–the South Korean people

studio and back. It was quite difficult, and I thought, it’s

aren’t threatened by the posturing or anything; they aren’t

hard enough to make an album here; how did anyone fight

scared, they just kind of talk about it. The North Korea

a war here? I think I kind of expected Hanoi to be more

situation has gotten so much more intense since then! That

modernized, but really it was more like the Vietnam that

made me think that maybe I should go spend some time in

I remember from the movies, so it was kind of inspiring in

a communist country….

that way.

I knew that I wanted to do more guitar on the record,

So, [we] got more done, moved back to Portland, and

so I started thinking in a similar kind of way, what’s the

then ended up in Mexico City. My plan was that I was

most obvious cliché that I could pursue and build a plan

going to finish the record there. Get all of the vocals done

out of? And I thought about Jimi Hendrix, and thought

and stuff. But then there was the earthquake right in

that rather than going to Electric Lady or a studio where

the middle of when we had booked the studio. Jake and I

www.elevenpdx.com | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 21

features national scene 11: During that time in

Photo by Neil Krug

Mexico, I imagine there were a million things going through your brain during the earthquake–the record, family, things like that. What was going through your head? RN: I guess, the idea of being inspired by putting yourself in certain situations, I wasn’t really… I wasn’t really thinking about the record after the earthquake happened. I was really just obsessed with getting home and making sure I wasn’t putting Jake in any more danger, and thinking about my family. I just was worried that I was putting us in danger unnecessarily–like, my children couldn’t really afford to lose their dad, you know? I suppose I didn’t really think about the record again until I got home. I was more worried that stuff was going too fast– like traveling around so much was increasing the chances of something bad happening. I couldn’t have known… it’s an earthquake, you know? Traveling seems like a really good way for me to work–really inspiring–but I had to be more aware of putting other people in danger or taking unnecessary risks. 11: You mentioned earlier that you didn’t want this to be

ended up stranded in a park with a bunch of other people either whose building had collapsed or who weren’t cleared to go back into their apartments. It was upsetting and scary. I was kind of freaking out because I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to finish the record, and I was feeling guilty that I had asked Jake to go to Mexico City and then endangered his life. Looking back on it, it did kind of prompt me to finish the record. I had to go back to Portland early. When I got home I was still kind of shaken and I guess, I wasn’t exactly inspired, but I felt determined to get as much done as I could. Finish it up in Portland, do the mixing–the whole thing.

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Photo by Katie Summer

taken as a political album, but that people are going to read into things regardless, and then that you wanted to keep it personal, but also light and fun. It seems like when artists talk about trying to delve into the personal, it ends up being heavier and more somber. Can you talk about how you balanced that personal element with the musical lightness? RN: Sure. Part of it is my personality. Sometimes I think–not that it really matters that much–that there is a misunderstanding of my personality sometimes when

features national scene I think about the way that the records are talked about. I think there can be this idea that I’m writing from this kind of angsty worldview or something, but I feel like there’s a misunderstanding about me. I called the album Sex & Food because I wanted to play against this idea of heaviness or seriousness. I wanted to play against that with the fact that I think my personality is kind of simple and dumb, in some ways [laughs]. I tend to think that it’s more like a dark sense of humor rather than a serious thing, and to me it’s fun. It’s fun to talk about this stuff, or to write dystopian lyrics. I don’t expect anyone to take me seriously–I just want other people to find the subject fun to talk about or listen to. With Sex & Food I suppose it’s more relevant to talk about food, because I guess I can have sometimes a depressive personality, but all I have to do is eat my favorite, very simple meal, and I can turn on a dime with a medium fries. Suddenly, I’ve forgotten all that heaviness. I think that’s more what my music is about. It’s not really supposed to be super serious and heavy; I think it’s more just that both dark and light things are up for grabs when making something fun. It’s all fun stuff, even talking about the apocalypse! You know? Like I said, it’s not that important, but sometimes I think it’s a little misunderstood. 11: It’s interesting that you talk about how you can turn on a dime with your favorite food, listening through the album, it seems like the songs styles can kind of turn on a dime. You can listen to one song, and then spin around and get another flavor. When you were working on it, did you have a bunch of different things you wanted to try? RN: I guess one thing is that I was going to go and make a summary of what I’d done before–all the stuff I’d done before this album–because I felt like I’d tried so much stuff before. I wanted to put it all into a cohesive album, but as I got further into it, I started to worry that the album was going in too many different directions, so I was thinking, where is this going? I started reading articles about Spotify and the music industry and where it’s going, and there were articles about this new generation of music fans that sort of don’t really understand or care about genres so much, so it’s not so discordant as it is to someone my age–like someone who didn’t grow up around record stores and not really have that much use or framework for different genres. I was thinking about how they were talking about all this stuff in a negative way, but I was sort of thinking that a music fan like that wouldn’t have any issue that went in a bunch of different directions at the same time, so it kind of gave me permission to keep doing what I was doing. But, also, I believe in albums, and

www.elevenpdx.com | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 23

features national scene a lot of people who listen to my band buy a lot of vinyl, and the albums are still important to them, so I kind of had this idea, like, could this album split wildly into different categories and be impossible to predict if you listened to one isolated song, but also could I make it hang together and have it make sense as one sound? I kind of took that on as a fun, creative challenge to work with and see if it could push me into making the album into what it was supposed to be. And, I suppose traveling and meeting new people and being in different climates kind of helped me have this album that felt like it was fractured and chaotic and kind of moving in different directions but also had some kind of overarching feel or sound that would make it one thing as well. Does that make sense? 11: For sure–it’s fascinating how there is so much going on, but listening start to finish, it is absolutely a complete album. Something else I wanted to ask, in some of your earlier albums, family plays a big role–what it means to be a father, watching your kids grow up, the relational elements of Multi-Love–and I was wondering if you felt like you kind of turned away from that for this one a little bit? RN: I suppose sometimes I’m thinking about it and sometimes I’m not. Probably the point where–there’s a song called "Hunnybee" on the album, and my daughter’s middle name is Hunnybee. It’s a platonic love song about, like a gift or theme song for my daughter. A lot of the ideas I had about my family kind of get concentrated into that song. I suppose it was there in that sense, but I think in other way sometimes I would just kind of let go of that ‘weighing on you stuff’ and write about something that happened to me before I had a family or try to separate myself from that role. I think I’m always doing that, though. Sometimes it’s not really relevant to the song–it’s not about the person that I am when I’m being someone’s father, and I’m just kind of wandering around the world. I think it’s always there. It’s a big part of what drives me and part of being the reason I can stick to this band as a project, because I have a reason to. It’s important to me. 11: When you go back and listen to the record, is there anything that surprises you or sticks out that you maybe didn’t find so surprising when you were working on it? RN: Hmm… I guess it’s interesting to me putting the song "American Guilt" first. It’s really fun putting a song out where if you listen to it in an isolated way, the influences on it are like hardcore stoner rock, and sometimes when I listen to it it sounds like Queens of the Stone Age or Black Sabbath or something, kind of rock

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features national scene band-y. I think there’s something kind of fun about putting that rock band out first. For me, as a music fan, when a band that I like–or maybe not even a band I like, maybe a band I don’t particularly care about–puts something out that prompts me to contact my friends about it or debate about it, it’s really fun. I enjoy that. So kind of taking "American Guilt" out of context and realizing that not many people would be able to hear the rest of the album yet, it was really fun and was something kind of surprising to me, imagining that song out of context and dealing with certain fans kind of freaking out that the whole album’s going to be like this heavy rock album, and then maybe friends of mine that are metalheads that never quite got what I was doing in UMO suddenly getting kind of excited that I’m doing something heavier again. All that stuff is fun–kind of mischief. That kind of stuff gets me out of bed in the morning, not just like trolling people, but just people’s expectations about what they want the band to be or what it was going to do. »



community literary arts ELEVEN: Can you tell me about where you came from in the Portland area and what inspired these poems? Matthew Dickman: I grew up in Southeast Portland in the Lents neighborhood, and my house was off of 91st and Cooper. I was born in ’75, so I basically grew up there through the ‘80s and ‘90s until I went off to college. A lot of the poems in Wonderland are about me sort of dreaming into certain memories of childhood. I grew up without any money, really. I had a single mom who worked her ass off to get food on the table and buy us clothes and eventually new skateboards when we would break them. Photo by Mercy McNab

LITERARY ARTS Portland poet Matthew Dickman


he poems that make up Matthew Dickman’s new book Wonderland (W.W. Norton) exist on a plane somewhere between dream and memory. It is an exceptional body of work that is more accessible than his previous work, but just as powerful. He cuts right to the heart with expert precision, juxtaposing shocking images of violence and the everyday life of a skater kid in the ‘80s and early ‘90s in Southeast Portland. Sometimes reading like nuanced short fiction, sometimes purely lyrical, the book expresses emotional truths about his relationship with his mother, and, himself. Some of the poems in Wonderland unearth the shameful past of a city that was complicit by looking the other way while extreme hatred and racism were taking place in plain sight. The poem “White Power” displays this for all to see, starkly contrasting extreme violence with an ambivalent natural backdrop. Dickman’s poems have been published in The New Yorker, as well as many literary journals. I met with Dickman at the recently relocated IPRC, in the historic Gardeners and Ranchers Building under the Hawthorne Bridge. The sounds of skateboarders above us served as the perfect backdrop for a discussion about his childhood as a punk rock-loving skater kid.

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11: The poems “Very Good Dog” and “Minimum Wage” show the unique relationship you had with your mother. Can you tell us a little about those poems? MD: In “Minimum Wage” we’re just at the house, having a smoke. So I was just thinking about that moment. There were a lot of moments I had like that with my mom. Anyone’s relationship with their parents is going to go from really great, to fraught, to being great again. Those relationships go through all sorts of passes. But to have this moment with my mom where everything was calm, everything was cool–it felt to me like I was working a long shift with someone, and then finally being able to go out back and have a smoke break together. There’s a kind of love between people who work nine-to-five shitty jobs like some of the ones I’ve had. 11: So it was kind of like a friendship then? MD: Yes, it was a friendship. One that was perhaps born out of necessity for her as a single mom. She worked all day, had three kids and didn’t have a ton of time to go out with friends. So I think she worked hard to make friendships with her children. I also talk about being extras in the film Night of the Hunter. The scene I had in my mind was a moment around twilight, when the sun was just coming down. The film is fully about anxiety. There’s always the chance that something bad may happen. That was definitely a feeling, not with my mom, but that feeling of an ambient threat of violence or something turning really quick. It was definitely a feeling I picked up from the neighborhood. And definitely from staying overnight at my friends’ homes whose parents were often also single moms, who were also addicts or alcoholics. Or if the dad was still at home, there was always the threat of violence.

community literary arts I remember my brother and I staying over at a friend’s house–we were eleven or twelve. Our friend had gotten a skateboard sticker, like a PowellPeralta sticker. It was the size of a sand dollar. He put it above a light switch in the kitchen. We went to bed at some point, and his dad came home from the bar at around 3am and went into the kitchen to get something to eat and saw the sticker. The next thing we knew the door to our friend’s bedroom was kicked in and his dad flipped on the light and marched right over to his son’s bed and punched him in the face. Michael and I jumped up from the floor and he kicked me in the chest and threw my brother into the closet and then just turns around and says “Goodnight faggots,” and turns off the light and leaves. That wasn’t a surprising moment, and it wasn’t the first time something like that happened. 11: There are also a few poems about your childhood friend Caleb, about his violent tendencies. Can you tell me about him? MD: I knew a few boys like Caleb. We were all skater kids together, and a handful of them eventually went the ways of their older brothers, or older sisters. Getting into drugs, alcohol, or becoming members of a predominant skinhead gang in Southeast Portland called the East Side White Pride. The figure of Caleb in the book–there are several poems each called “Wonderland” that sort of trace it.

I believe, is to bankrupt white supremacist groups as a way to undercut their power, and to deal with the title of white power. I’m not just hinting at the murder of this young man, but how white power survives through white families that are just living by the atrocities that are perpetuated in their community by keeping their heads down, ignoring it, or not even thinking about it. So that little dinner scene is about that. It really is a way not to talk just about that murder briefly, but my own family’s sort of larger complicity with that sort of violence. 11: There are some poems in this book named after punk bands from the 80s–Minor Threat, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, Bad Brains and Black Flag. What was the significance? MD: The poems in here that were named after punk bands are the last poems I wrote for the book. They are my version of the nature poem. Each of them is about nature, and I wrote them because I was looking at the book where it was at that point, and these memories of childhood, and this kind of ambient violence and these relationships between parents and children. But that wasn’t all my neighborhood was. It was hard to remember that. There were trees, there were birds–it’s Oregon. It was kind of interesting that my trauma memory around some of those experiences as a kid don't include nature. I have to work hard to remember the maple tree in the backyard. Because you’re not really thinking about the maple tree, you're thinking about the stitches. I wanted to write these nature poems, but the neighborhood couldn’t be this one kind of neighborhood where these things occurred in my life where there was no nature. Also, nature cannot be without the neighborhood. So I thought about the musicality of nature, the bird song, the sound of wind through trees. Then thinking about music, and the first music that really moved me that I could really relate to, was punk music. » - Scott McHale

"White Power"

11: Your poem “White Power” just blew me away, especially that first line. Can you tell us about it? MD: There was a young man who lived not far from our neighborhood, Mulugeta Seraw. Some East Side white skinheads basically targeted him and murdered him. It wasn’t the first time East Side White Pride had anything to do with murder, but it was the first time they really got caught for it. And in many ways, it was the beginning of the end for them. Southern Poverty Law came in from the south and represented the victim’s family. Skinheads were beating people down all over the country. They came because they found a connection between East Side White Pride and the Klan. And one of the many goals of the Southern Poverty Law,

They took an Ethiopian soccer player and split his head open with a baseball bat. Trees were standing around, cars were driving by. My mother was making chipped beef and toast. We never borrowed milk from the neighbors though sometimes we had no money for milk. My sister thought any man taller than me was her father.

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community visual arts Photo by Mercy McNab

11: You also work in art education, what demographic do you teach and how does your strong womynhood present itself in your teaching? SE: I’m an art instructor for second and third graders. I make a conscious effort to plan projects that are central to the work of women artists, since they are vastly underrepresented in textbooks and museums. I teach with an intersectional feminist lens, which comes in handy when discussing the nuances of artists like Cindy Sherman, who despite their brilliance have enforced white supremacist systems (re: blackface). I consciously keep politics out of the classroom but it’s frustrating to see that these kids are riddled with anxiety because Trump’s incompetence is so pervasive. 11: Did you have any experiences that really shaped your views on sexuality, feminism and the expression of each in today’s world? SE: Since childhood, I’ve had an attraction to justice, which in my adulthood has manifested itself as an interest in social justice. I became aware of my inherent feminist philosophies in high school, especially after being sexually assaulted. My relationship with my sexuality has been harrowing–I’ve always felt very much in control of my body but after being assaulted by multiple people I developed a lot of complexes in regards to sex. I’ve only recently been able to reclaim that part of myself and work through that trauma through writing and community.

VISUAL ARTS Portland artist and curator Shannon Edwards

(art images from various artists featured in the show "Anatomy of Autonomy.")

ELEVEN: I’d like to know a little more about your history and what inspires you. You’re originally from Northern California? San Francisco? What was the experience like, growing up in such a liberal, progressive and “free” city? Shannon Edwards: I grew up in Santa Rosa, which is about an hour north of San Francisco. It’s a mid-sized city nestled in California’s wine country–my upbringing was rather suburban and granola. I was inspired from a young age by the matriarchs of my family, specifically my mother and grandmother. My grandma was raised by Irish Catholic parents and knew what it took to survive from a very young age. My mom raised me as a single parent and somehow gave me the illusion that it was effortless despite her endless sacrifices. They made it very clear to me that they were more than capable of being both mother and father figures. I don’t like pedestaling people, but I idolize them and will never truly understand the ways in which they overcame their adversity.

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11: This has been a powerful year for womxn! What excites you about this movement, what worries you (if anything) and what more should we be doing to further the ground we have gained?

community visual arts showcase that featured local artists across all kinds of media. The theme is very personal to me because it is something I have been struggling with a lot lately, but a part of coping with this kind of trauma is finding a network of people who understand your pain. The exploration and dissection of what constructs our individual feelings of autonomy is fascinating to me. I wanted to use this platform to show only the work of womxn, trans and non-binary artists and uplift their diverse experiences. 11: How did you choose the artists for this event? What were the criteria/requirements you were looking for? SE: I know so many wonderful artists but I wanted to make an effort to give priority to QTPOC (queer/trans people of color) through submissions and nominations. I wanted the bills to be representative of a variety of media while still being cohesive. Each show in each city will consist of an entirely different lineup, which will make each night its own unique cultural moment. The Portland show will have performances by Thumper, Violet Paley and Anna Vo and visual work by Kaija J. Xiao, Marisa Mijares Smith and Ellie Gordon. Artist: Marisa Mijares Smith "Overshot weaving with handspun yellow thread" (Cotton blend warp and wool weft.)

SE: I think mainstream feminism specifically in the form of neoliberal politics is more harmful than helpful. This was especially apparent to me at the Portland Women’s March when I saw more people advocating for veganism than I did trans rights. I should emphasize that I saw no poster boards with any messages focusing on the plight of trans people. Then there’s acts like SESTA being passed that exist to “protect” women from sex work instead of empowering them by improving their working conditions. We also have a rapist in the White House. I don't like to focus on the negative but we must remind ourselves that despite any progress being made there is almost an equal amount of regression happening within our government. I think in this time and place we need to focus on the micro in addition to the macro and do our part to really show up for the marginalized people in our own cities and neighborhoods that need help. 11: You are curating an upcoming show, “Anatomy of Autonomy,” which explores artists that weave their sexuality with gender, race, disabilities and class and how these oppressive systems have threatened their autonomy. Can you give a bit more on what we will see and hear from these artists and how the name of this event ties into the exploration of this oppression? SE: A couple of months ago I was at OMSI’s Pink Floyd laser light show, and at some point my mind wandered off. I came up with this idea of putting together a multidisciplinary arts

Artist: Ellie Gordon "Pearl Necklace, Like Ice Cream" (acrylic, gesso, and graphite on cardboard.)

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community visual arts 11: The show is being showcased in Portland, Oakland and New York City. What made you choose these cities (especially Portland and Oakland) over larger cities like Los Angeles or Seattle? SE: I’m currently based in Portland, which made it easy to choose a city for the tour kickoff. Shortly before I started planning the show I was invited to be a part of the Kennedy Center Arts Summit in DC, which snowballed into me wanting to bring the show to the East Coast. I thought it would be nice to have a homecoming show in the Bay Area since I know so many phenomenal artists in that region. My selections were arbitrary in a sense but I know that there will be a lot of support from those communities. If all goes well I hope to curate shows in Los Angeles and beyond. I’m not fond of Seattle so I doubt you’ll see me there anytime soon. 11: There seems to be a prominent culture wrapped around the spectrum of sexuality and its expression. What do you think is different about that expression here in Portland that makes this city so unique? SE: In a liberal city such as this one there is certainly more of an acceptance of gender fluidity and gender expression than in so many other parts of the country and even greater Oregon. That being said, trans women of color are being

Artist: Kaija J. Xiao From the series "Hold the wall. We have always existed. I shouted." (35mm slide film, slide film projector, plywood, canvas and masking tape, January 2018)

murdered at an unwavering rate nationally because their expression of gender challenges cisnormative binaries. I do give credit to Portlanders for generally being self-aware and proactive when it comes to social change. At the same time we can’t allow ourselves to be sedentary because that’s when activism turns into performance. 11: Thank you for sharing your experience with expression and activism. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about yourself or the upcoming show? SE: “Anatomy of Autonomy” will be shown 7pm-10pm on April 7th at Grapefruits Art Space, 2119 N. Kerby Avenue Suite D., Portland, OR 97227. » - Laurel Bonfiglio


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Artist: Kaija J. Xiao From the series "Hold the wall. We have always existed. I shouted." (35mm slide film, slide film projector, plywood, canvas and masking tape, January 2017)

Profile for Eleven PDX

Eleven PDX Magazine April 2018  

Eleven PDX Magazine April 2018  

Profile for elevenpdx