ISSUE THIRTEEN | JULY/AUGUST 2014
SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES
THE FEELING WILLIAM BECKETT SCOT T PASFIELD MAN MADE [DEBUT] AD HOC ART LEE, SCARLETT & RIFF CHERRY JAPAN SOUL PARIS X Y MR KITO
SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES
The Artist D MANAGING EDITOR
Paula Frank CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Ann Marie Papanagnostou CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
Andrew Ashley Doug Seymour MARKETING & PROMOTIONS
Felicia C. Waters Ann Marie Papanagnostou SUBMISSIONS
Serena Butler WEB DEVELOPMENT
Rene Trejo, Jr. EDITORIAL
Christine Blythe Serena Butler Kathy Creighton Paul Davies Paula Frank Marguerite O’Connell Derek O’Neal Mark Sharpley Annie Shove Darya Teesewell Aaron Wallace Felicia C. Waters
COVER IMAGE: PETER MURPHY IMAGE BY: DOUG SEYMOUR © 2014 Fourculture Magazine Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. 2 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE THIRTEEN
Ad Hoc Artâ€™s Welling Court Mural Project
Lee, Scarlett & Riff Cherry Japan Soul
74 Darya Teesewell
82 Mr. Kito
in this issue THE ARTIST D The Artist D has been performing online since the mid 1990s; a relic from the cam show age before social networking was a network, advocate for the rights of the underground, author, painter, columnist, raconteur, provocateur and host of The Fabulous D Show, a radio show broadcast weekly for anybody with a brain in their head. Catering to the freaks, geeks and black sheep of society, he makes the extraterrestrials of culture feel right at home on planet Earth.
KATHY CREIGHTON Kathy Creighton, a.k.a. Mama Kath, is on a magical mystery tour of current fine, literary, and performance art and wants to bring you along for the ride. How? Besides watching, reading and listening, Kathy sits down with these creators and discusses everything from what inspires them to where their journeys began to how to fix the current A&E industry. She asks the questions you’ve been waiting for someone to ask.
PAULA FRANK Writer, painter, music lover, dreamer; Paula’s ever-changing Pisces spirit rolls with whatever the tides bring her. Constantly in pursuit of the beauty of art in all its forms, she pours her love for human connections into everything she does, be it writing fiction, interviewing her favorite musicians and artists, painting an emotion, or sharing time with the people she loves. This small town girl has great big dreams and strives to make them reality. She is thrilled to offer them to you, the readers and fellow dreamers. After all, what good are dreams with no one to share them?
MARGUERITE O’CONNELL Writer, attorney, wife, and mother of three boys in a bicultural interfaith family, Marguerite isn’t one to shy away from a challenge or decline an adventure. A semester in London studying art history and Shakespeare sparked her life-long passion for music and all things art and law school sharpened her natural abilities for research and communicating. Hoping to show her boys how it’s done, Marguerite has set out to use the things she’s good at, to communicate about the subjects that fuel her passions. For the reader, that might mean interviews with awesome indie artists one month and reviews of their latest works the next. For Marguerite it means lots of words, art, solitude and coffee. And happiness.
ANN MARIE PAPANAGNOSTOU Ann Marie likes to make things pretty. This award-winning designer loves to lose herself in the creative process and is psyched to work alongside amazing individuals who fuel her artistic fire and tolerate her fierce coffee addiction. She is most content with a beverage in one hand and a mouse in the other. ADAM D Adam is approximately one half of Photostat Machine. They are a synthpop duo hailing from York, England. When not working on devastatingly handsome pop tunes with his creative other half, @nik_krudeshaw, you can find him hunkered over a cup of coffee. He likes to smile but isn’t that fond of talking about himself in the third person. “So I’ll stop there,” he added. SERENA BUTLER Serena “Rena” Butler marches to the beat of a Linn LM-1 Drum Computer. Currently, she remains in a virtual time warp looking to hit that day where replicating a DeLorean time machine becomes reality. Sadly, it has yet to occur; she remains in the current year here to bring you the latest noise making waves in the four pillars of culture. When not working on the magic behind these pages you can find her rummaging the local independent record shops for CDs and vinyl, trying to get past the second level in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker game for Sega Genesis, or mastering The Force just from watching the Star Wars trilogy. FRANK COTOLO Known for his comedic acumen, Cotolo has made his living as a writer and a performer all of his life and during the lives of others. He is the author of the novel License To Skill and has co-authored its screenplay version, Molotov Memoirs, a collection of short stories, The Complete and Unabridged History of Japan, an epic novel, and a serious novella, Sweet Shepherd. Cotolo, born in Brooklyn in 1950, has worked in broadcasting, film, theater, music and television.
DEREK O’NEAL “You have to hear this song” is a phrase you’ll often hear from Derek. His fierce music obsession began at a young age, an age when playlists were captured on cassette off the radio with TLC and Soul Asylum in heavy rotation. As a writer, Derek has been sharing his stories since he was old enough to hold a pencil, which is a big deal since he really dislikes pencils. Derek now educates the masses with a combination of things he loves most: music and writing. Today, you can find Derek scouring the web for fresh sounds that both inspire and entertain. Sometimes he takes breaks for coffee and sleep. DOUG SEYMOUR Doug Seymour is a featured photographer with Paste, Pollstar, Billboard and now Fourculture. Over the past several years, his work has graced sixteen magazine covers, dozens of album & DVD covers, tour posters, countless published photos and even a book cover. He has also been the recipient of four Independent Music Awards for his photography. In his spare time, Doug is an avid collector of rare vinyl LP’s (and loves to get them autographed too). MARK SHARPLEY English writer Mark Sharpley brings a view from the other side of the Atlantic. A former bass player and drummer, he now concentrates on giving his two cents on all things musical. A huge lifelong fan of The Smiths, anything to do with them will always be a biased affair but don’t worry, he doesn’t come equipped with a Morrissey style quiff... DARYA TEESEWELL Darya Teesewell has been a lot of things, often simultaneously. She’s spent years working in the velvet prison of the Los Angeles movie biz, but nothing is below her line, because she hates lines. Darya travels freely from gender to gender and had made her living as a cinematographer, a writer, a teacher, a shop girl, a union organizer, and she’s ridden in Angelyne’s pink corvette; oh, does she have a tale to tell. FELICIA C. WATERS Born and raised in NYC, she began her lifelong love affair with music the moment she first heard T Rex. Throughout her life music has always been there...the steadfast friend with no judgment, always accepting. It nourishes, it angers, it heals and it makes you feel embraced. It is a part of her just as a limb or a lung. If she can bring any of those feelings to people through her writing, not only does she feel she’s done her job, she feels like she’s given them a gift.
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verywhere I go in normal society I am gawked at like a circus freak. It's as if people know something about me that even I may not. It's not as if I look bizarre all of the time or am in full glamour. I walk around from day to day looking as plain as can be, yet they stare and avoid me. I'm not a mean person. I treat everyone quite nicely, but they will say nothing to me and everything to the average Joe behind me. It's as if
they know. I get on much better with the extra special extraterrestrials of the underground. The other day I bumped into this blazing red haired vixen on the street. She wore a purple polka dot dress and big Marylyn Monroe sunglasses. We paused to say hello and enter into casual conversation about our surroundings. It was as simple as anything and with no hesitation. It's as if we knew. What do they know and what do we know? Encounters like that make me realize that I'm not strange. There's nothing wrong with me. There's something terribly wrong with most everyone else! The freaks, geeks and fairy godmothers of planet Earth have got the connection. They're super smart to the realm in which we artists operate in. It's the psychic friends network without the fraudulent friends. Artists share a link, just like the network that has become Fourculture automatically links us all into the hive mind of fabulous artistic creative freakdom. That's a good thing. I take this with me throughout the land and spread the news quietly among my people. It's not us, it's them! The normal sheep of society are out there squandering their time being boring. They operate on a flat line while we live life like a cardiac arrest. So don't feel too bad next time you're standing at a checkout line and the cashier doesn't say a word to you. Remember that they're just sensing something they do not understand. They're sensing your fabulousness, your artistic nature and (most very importantly) your unique ferociousness. Roar like a lion and carry yourself proudly seeking out our people â€” the people of the Fourculture underground. Your life will be better because of it.
Follow The Artist D: @theArtistD
letâ€™s get connected
everything and now BY M A R K SH A R PLE Y
Nile Marr is the name and Man Made is his musical outfit. Son of The Smiths legendary guitarist, Johnny Marr, Nile has joined with Callum Rogers on bass and Scott Strange on drums and together Nile and Man Made are breaking out into the vast music spectrum with their new album TV Broke My Brain. Since 2011 this Manchester born and sometime American raised musician and company have been wowing audiences across the UK with their live shows. Join Fourculture as we delve into what itâ€™s like being made in Man Made, the influences that helped create the music, what America means to them and, indeed, what itâ€™s like having a famous father like many other musicians before him.
First of all, do tell the readers a little about yourself. Well, I am just about to go out with the band. There was a point where it was way easier to get gigs if it was just you with a guitar and an amp to see if the songs worked on my own. I write the songs and make sure they still stand up live, and now I’m with the band and it’s really great. It’s like a new found dimension of songs that I used to gig a lot. Was being a musician always your first career choice? I think career choice might be the wrong word. I never really thought about doing anything else. It’s just something that I’ve always done. I’ve always written songs. I think even if I wasn’t making records and doing gigs, I’d still be up here. Now, to be honest I’d always be doing this anyway. If no one was listening, I’d still be doing it! Career choice is maybe the wrong word…it’s just what I do! What inspired the album title, TV Broke My Brain? I wrote the song when I was living in Sheffield. Technology is a part of everyone’s day and it’s something you can’t really ignore. It’s become so ingrained, and I think it’s just something that needs addressing. It’s quite interesting but TV Broke My Brain was actually a small art exhibition when I was living in Sheffield. The whole exhibition was about how television and media effects the scientific make up of your brain so it’s something that has always been on my mind. I’m not like identifying being Luddite…I’m not like super tech savvy. I think that’s just me personally. How do you find the music scene at the moment? Has anything grabbed your attention? I think it’s quite funny when you’re actually working as a band at a real ground level, especially in these early days when you get so self-involved. I don’t necessarily mean it like you hardly listen to your own music. I just mean from a general point. I’ve worked so much with bands as a tech or as a driver and everything like that as well as in my own band and I think it’s quite easy to see a gig or a show as work. When I say “work”, it’s not necessarily a bad thing at all. I think you get caught up in the “Well, this is what I do you know..,” so I think during the past few months while I’ve been getting our own shows together it’s been sort of all-encompassing and I have not really been paying that much attention. In England, it’s always been something that slowly takes over and in my experience it’s the towns that usually have it right where
you see unsigned bands for free so people can actually come because no one wants to pay to see five bands they’ve never heard of. I don’t see that as a model that really works so I always find that the healthiest scenes are in the towns where people aren’t worried about money and everything can be done in an artistic point of view. I’ve tried to avoid going on and on about a certain somebody in your life, but does having a famous dad (Johnny Marr) help you? I think it would be weirder if you didn’t want to ask the question! I mean it’s no. It doesn’t make things harder and it doesn’t help things either. It’s just a fact. I’ve grown up in a really supportive household and I think from that point of view obviously that’s
helped massively. I just grew up in an environment surrounded by people who were very serious about what they do and I was always brought up thinking I could go into anything I wanted to. I didn’t have to go into music but the support structure was there. When growing up around musicians you realize exactly how hard you need to work and how committed you need to be. I know how seriously you need to take your work as well and so from that point of view it helps. Just the nature of being a musician…you might be sitting inside all day, but still doing work. Some people find that an art career can be quite alien and you always hear things like “that seems like quite an easy job”. I think the difference being is if you consider it your job, if you’re lucky enough, it’s an amazing job to have. The thing was I was exposed ISSUE ISSUETHIRTEEN THIRTEEN
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“I think there’s never a conscious effort to sound like things my dad’s done. I mean, personally, I never really listened to The Smiths. It’s not like it’s played around the house.” to at a really early age growing up around musicians was how serious these people take it and how intense you’ve got to be. My sister and I could have gone into absolutely anything. Having a serious musician as a dad helps you understand the commitment that doing anything takes if you want to be good at it. Well, you practically answered my next question! I was going to ask what it was like growing up around Johnny Marr. I think it’s just great being a small kid around a lot of cool adults all the time. It’s great. Any plans to collaborate with your father? Well, with both of us sort of being busy it’s actually very rare that we’re in the same place at the same time. I think when he was making his last record I was in town for a week and I would get a knock and it would be, “Oh Nile, would you like to come around and make some weird noises in the studio?” It’s pretty much how it’s been for years. It’s not a conscious plan, let’s say. We’ll see! Who are your musical inspirations? Who really brings it out and you think “Oh, he’s good! Oh, I really like that!”? My real influences come from growing up around a lot of American bands. I think American alternative music in the past two decades has been really exciting if you’re a guitar player. I think of the sounds that came from that hardcore scene in America…like Fugazi are the kings of it. If you’re interested in being a guitar player what they’re doing over there in bands like Fugazi, Modest Mouse and Built to Spill is amazing and it’s something that I just don’t think we’ve ever really done in that way in England. The work ethic that American bands have, the way they practice, the way they tour — it was really eye opening for me when I found myself exposed to it. I think it was something that really resonates with me. The way American bands tour is so exciting and it’s something. It’s funny, with England being so much smaller I would definitely think that obsessive touring on a real grass roots level, you know, finding people’s houses to stay at, would be done more 10 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUETHIRTEEN THIRTEEN
often in the UK because it would be much easier. In America, bands really have to go far and wide between gigs but it’s amazing and it shows in the way they approach gigs because they have to face that adversity. When you see them come over they’re always so tight. That’s a big inspiration. Obviously people like Elliot Smith were kind of real kings for me in particular because you would see a guy where it’s all about the song. Someone like Elliot Smith, who isn’t necessarily punk rock but whose ethic and background is, is also a really a big inspiration to me. I still play him and he was amazing. When writing TV Broke My Brain did you have a style in mind? Did you want something that people wouldn’t associate with Johnny Marr? Some of the songs on there are quite old and I’ve played them for years and have become what you see on the record. A couple of them were relatively new. I play shows a lot so the songs start off as one thing and then they grow into something else. The album was actually recorded over three separate stages purely when I had time to do it because in the interim period I’ve been in many different bands and worked on a few different things. So really were three separate sessions and three separate times spaced quite far apart. I think there’s never a conscious effort to sound like things my dad’s done. I mean, personally, I never really listened to The Smiths. It’s not like it’s played around the house. It was before my time and honestly I don’t really know most of the songs. The only songs I know are the ones I’ve actually had to play with him in shows. It’s always something my friends have found hilarious over the years. They used to drop Smiths song titles into sentences to see how my knowledge is and then they got really bored with it because I just didn’t know! As a musician, you think you have an image of what you want in your head but you never really know if it comes off like that. I know from a guitar playing point of view, my dad and I like the same cord changes. We like a lot of the same records because of that so we have quite similar sound…my
uncle plays as well and we actually do the same things when we pick up a guitar. It doesn’t mean making the same music, but we play guitar in very similar ways. I think it’s just a genetic thing. Are there any artists you would like to work with? Kevin Drew. He’s been a hero of mine since I was a kid and in some of the most important moments in my life his music’s been involved in some weird background way. So whenever a kind of Broken Social Scene moment sort of happens in my life I tend to pay attention to it quite a bit. I’ve been lucky enough that he’s a friend. When you listen to those early records, he’s such an amazing songwriter and amazing musician and he’s been a huge and massive influence. Those early Broken Social Scene records in particular, they’re the most exciting things to put on. It was amazing to me and not like I’m not approaching this from a populated point of view. I really just loved the songs and I’m big into melody. Melody is really important to me and I’d hear these beautifully crafted sounds that seem almost accidental while being very deliberate and they were just so exciting. On his first album that he did called Spirit, there’s some beautiful songs on there and when you listen to it as a whole and hear just what’s going on
see everything in between. It’s amazing being in America and it’s such an exciting and inspiring place. I want to play everywhere so then the priority is getting out. I think at this point we’ve done our first fifteen shows or someYou’ve said a lot about the American thing so we’re just trying to get momentum bands, but is cracking America a prior- up. If there’s people who want to hear us, ity at some point? then I want to do everything that’s possible It’s always a dream, I think you would to go and bring it to them. be hard pressed to find any young English band who doesn’t want to tour America. You’ve been at the Night and Day Café I’ve been lucky enough to live in America pretty regularly, how is that and the rest and have toured America with my friend of Manchester these days? Meredith Sheldon, a brilliant songwriter The Night and Day has been absolutely who’s been writing for quite some years. fantastic with us. When I was younger, I I just want to play to as many people as I can and I’m obviously working on that in was playing shows on my own. They gave the future. I want to be able to be in a posi- me a residency where I just got to play four tion where I can tour sustainably in Amer- nights a week. I was doing it on my own ica, which would be incredible. Bands like just to practice and just to get good and I reModest Mouse were the kings of that to me ally learned a lot about how to be on stage and I felt that’s how you would make tour- and learning about your gear and learning ing work. You know, a lot of English bands about your sound and just singing through come over and they can only play New York the PA. I think it’s really invaluable pracand L.A. and they’ve lost a lot of money do- tice so I wanted to bring that to the band ing that cause you have to fly everywhere because it helped me so much when I was and you can only play the big towns, but doing it on my own. The Café has been for me, I would absolutely love going over good support and they’ve pretty much let there and getting in a van and just driving us have free reign — we can play whenaround and doing what Modest Mouse or ever we want and I’m really grateful for that. Fugazi did and just play everywhere and The Night and Day is as it’s always been. there are so many layers. It’s really beautiful, amazing music and his new record is absolutely fantastic. It’s the best thing I’ve heard in ages so I would love to work with Kevin.
People will always want to go see shows there because they get good bands and it’s a good size venue. It is a real massive part of Manchester’s music heritage. Manchester has always been the same. It’s always got the same attitude. When I was a bit younger there was a real dip in the music scene because a lot of bands couldn’t afford to play here. Promoters, I think, took chances and put on a lot of shows in a lot of places where there shouldn’t be shows, taking advantage of young bands and I think that was a problem. It really hurt the scene for a while and I noticed it switched. Then every band I liked came from Sheffield or Leeds or Newcastle. I think it’s a rule that bands will go wherever it’s affordable and where they can be artistically free and where you’re not worrying about money. Manchester got a little bit bloated and it really hurt the scene but the balance has come back around now. It’s like any town where people are going to want to come to. It’s always a place where people are going to expect good music to come from and be exhibited. Were you ever into the Manchester scene when The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and The Inspiral Carpets were out? That was just a bit before my time. I’ve never really listened to any of that. It’s just ISSUE ISSUETHIRTEEN THIRTEEN
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not my thing, I never looked for it. Ian Brown is fantastic. I think he’s a great guy and I’ve been working festivals when he’s been doing his solo thing. He’s a happy dude to be around and when he pops up, it’s always a pleasure. I recognize that those bands shaped the identity of the city massively but it’s an identity that I never really shared. Musically, what has been your biggest highlight so far? Getting to tour America with Meredith Sheldon was pretty amazing and you know that was a real highlight. We had a lot of fun and it was a trip. When I was a kid I got to play with Broken Social Scene in London, which was kind of one of the great moments I have ever had. If you would have said to me when I was fourteen that I would be playing with Broken Social Scene and you’ll get to play your favorite songs ever, “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl”, and “You Forgot It In People”, off the album after seeing them the night before in Manchester… I mean, it was amazing. It was absolutely one of the most amazing gigs I’ve ever seen and it was just a beautiful moment. The next night I was in town because I was just dropping off some equipment and Kevin, in his real wonderful way, said “You really like ‘Anthems’, don’t you?” and I was like, “Oh yeah”. Then he goes “Oh, well do you know the song?” Then I lied and said I didn’t…really, of course I know the song! I had been playing it in my bedroom for many years! He then invited me up on stage to play it and it was just an absolute trip. I would have never imagined that would happen, so that was a pretty big moment. I feel pretty lucky to have been able to say that. Have you got any plans for the second album so far? Yeah. We’re going to tour for this first record but I write songs all the time. I think as of right now I’ve got twelve songs for the new record written. As soon as we finished the last session for the first album I wrote eight new songs. I love writing songs so there’s always new songs…When touring, we always like to throw in new songs. I see myself as a songwriter so I’m always writing songs and I always want to play songs and that’s the best bit about having a resi-
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dence…you get yourself in there and then you play it. What’s your favorite track off the album? “Everything and This” is actually my favorite song. In the review of the album that I did for you, I actually put that down as a standout track of the album… Thanks, I think that a lot of the tracks do very different things for me. I’m really proud of how the album came together and how the songs sound and I go through phases with different songs being my favorite or being ones I’ll actually put on…“Everything and This” was tucked away for a while from an old demo I made when I was living in Sheffield. It was this really nice period when I was on my own and the town was quiet and I would just make these demos in my bathroom. It’s the same audio from the bathroom demo and hearing it recorded properly with bass and drums…it really just grew into this thing so I’ve really always had a soft spot for the song. I was really keen to make sure it went on this first record and that’s the one I’ve been putting on the most. And last question, what are your plans for this year and beyond? Well this year it’s just going to be touring and touring with the songs we’ve got and the big move was having the band. We want to strive and become a self-sufficient touring machine really and just to play up and down. I’m hoping that by the end of the year I’ll have some free time to record some songs that will probably be on the next record. Oh good, are you planning on coming down to London? Well, actually I’m there a lot! My girlfriend lives there so we’ll play there. I don’t want to give it special treatment because its London, of course…we want to play there because there are people. I’ve got friends that want to see me play and it’s just a town you’ve got to play in. I’m sure we’ll be having some shows in there. It’s just a matter of adding shows to the other towns that are equally as important to play. Yeah, everywhere is important.
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TA K I NG C ON T ROL BY M A RGUER ITE O’CO NNELL PHOTOGR A PH Y BY RYA N RUSSELL
illiam Beckett first felt the connection that develops between an artist and the audience while playing a short set at a friend’s house during his sophomore year of high school. That night William fell in love with performing and knew it was what he wanted to do. With this goal in mind William graduated from high school a semester early, booked his own first tour on the East Coast, and set out to begin his career in music with barely a backward glance. It has been over ten years since then and William Beckett has spent most of those on the road, developing into a versatile, successful and charismatic performer. For six years he toured as the lead singer for The Academy Is…, the wildly popular and successful pop/punk band he co-founded in 2003. With William as its mesmerizing frontman, the band sold over half a million records and toured worldwide, building up an incredibly dedicated and supportive fan base before deciding to disband in late 2011. With his newfound independence, William wasted no time embarking on a career as a solo artist. Relying on his trademark discipline and tireless work ethic, he self-released three EPs in 2012: Walk The Talk, Winds Will Change, and What Will Be, and toured extensively in support of each. “Compromising Me,” the first single William released as a solo artist, rocketed to the top of the iTunes charts, cracking the top 20. He also self-released an acoustic album in January 2013, before announcing the next month that he had signed with Equal Vision Records. William released Genuine and Counterfeit, his debut full-length album as a solo artist, on August 20, 2013. Over the past year, William’s extensive tour schedule has included a US tour with We Are The In Crowd and Set It Off; a UK tour with The Summer Set, including performances at Hit The Deck Festival; a headline tour in Japan; an Australian tour with Anberlin and The Maine; and the 2013 Vans Warped Tour. He has also shared the stage with Relient K, Hellogoodbye and Rick Springfield. William recently announced that this summer he is touring with Pat Benatar and Rick Springfield, performing in amphitheaters across the United States. Fourculture is grateful that in the midst of preparing for his upcoming summer tour, William graciously sat down and answered some of our more pressing questions. ISSUE THIRTEEN
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When did you first know that music was your passion and that you wanted to write and perform? Was there a particular song or artist that inspired you to pursue music? My major influences early on are pretty varied. From a songwriting standpoint, being a huge fan of Dashboard Confessional and Death Cab For Cutie made me feel like I could express myself in my own way and maybe be embraced. I truly fell in love with performing, however, when I played a short set in my friend’s basement my sophomore year. Seeing and feeling the connection first hand is what made me fall in love with it. What artists or albums had a significant impact on you and your developing musical tastes? Are there any current artists or songs that you find inspiring or exciting? Some of my favorite contemporary bands are Metric, The Killers, and Arcade Fire, to name a few. What draws me to them is that they evolve over time with each album. They grow and reach for more and that’s where I relate.
“The album is essentially autobiographical so being able to share my story as well as just release what can sometimes be overwhelming emotions into songs was really what inspired it.” I know that you viewed the break up of The Academy Is… in 2011 as an opportunity to gain independence and start a career as a solo artist. Even when welcome, change can be scary and difficult to navigate. What were the biggest challenges you faced when making the transition from lead singer of The Academy Is… to unsigned solo artist? Was it ever isolating to tour as a solo artist or overwhelming to be the one making all the decisions? Any time you make a change in your life of that magnitude, there’s going to be a bit of fear of the unknown. For me, the freedom of being able to take full control of my music and my career overpowered my fear of going at it alone. 18 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE THIRTEEN
Congratulations on your just announced summer tour! You will be performing across the US and opening for Pat Benatar and Rick Springfield. What can you tell us about this upcoming tour? What are you most looking forward to about it? Thank you! First of all, having the opportunity to share the stage with LEGENDS of the stage is a complete honor. Aside from getting to know the artists, I’m most excited to play for audiences who haven’t seen or heard of me before. I’m thrilled to show everyone what I can do.
When another artist performs on your album do you approach it as though you are a director and relay a clear vision of how you want it to sound or do you take a more collaborative view of the process and seek their ideas and input? I think it depends. With Derek I was able to just loosely explain what I was looking for and he nailed it and so much more. I like to allow other artists to follow their instincts and embrace their style in trying new things that could enhance the song. Derek did just that in “Time For a Sign”.
You have talked about the demoralizing effect that compromising your artistic vision can have on an artist. Yet many artists routinely collaborate on their music. I’m wondering if you have any words of advice for young artists about knowing where the line is between an artistic collaboration and artistic compromise, and how they can recognize when the line has been, or is about to be, crossed? I think collaboration in songwriting is a very important thing to be open to. The line only gets crossed when the individuality of the performer is no longer present in the song. I’d say that young songwriters should be collaborating but to not let your thumbprint fade from the process. Identity is extremely important in performance, writing and relating to people through it.
I was impressed by how you utilized the EP format to release your new music as a solo artist. The idea of releasing new music on EPs — releasing fewer songs more frequently — struck me as a very savvy way to stay in touch with existing fans while introducing your music to new ones. It also meant you had a new release to support and to make the focus of your tours. Do you think this method of releasing music will be, or should be, more commonplace among indie artists — especially in light of how quickly information moves in and out of the public eye these days? I think it is definitely a creative way to release new music. It’s not only beneficial for the artists, but I think it is a fun way for fans to hear new music as well.
Both Max Bemis of Say Anything and Derek Sanders of Mayday Parade perform guest vocals on Genuine & Counterfeit. This seems to be a popular trend today, as we are seeing guest vocalists on albums across every genre. As an artist, how do you decide which songs will benefit from a guest vocalist and what artists you should consider as a vocalist? I don’t think guest vocal features are any more common now than throughout contemporary music history, but that being said, some are definitely more impacting than others. For me, I like to include another singer’s voice on a song with purpose based on that singer’s style. For instance, both Derek and Max’s parts were chosen specifically based on their styles, not just to say that they are on the song.
Can you describe your song writing process for Genuine & Counterfeit? Do you have a personal favorite track on the album? Writing Genuine and Counterfeit was a very therapeutic process for me. The album is essentially autobiographical so being able to share my story as well as just release what can sometimes be overwhelming emotions into songs was really what inspired it. Picking a favorite track is like picking your favorite movie, which for me is Finally, Fourculture wants to know: damn near impossible. If pressed though, What are your four favorite things – the four things you couldn’t (or just don’t I’d say “By Your Side”. want to) live without? Has being a parent changed or influOne - my acoustic guitar. enced the topics you write songs about, Two - my laptop. how you approach writing music, or Three - My Stetson hat. where you find your inspiration? Four - My George RR Martin signed copy I think the biggest change for me is my of Dance With Dragons. Yes, I’m a nerd.
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perspective. Becoming a parent forces you to broaden what you care about and how you live your life day to day, and as a result its inspired me in my songwriting to try some new things and broaden my influences. Trying to find balance between work and family can be a difficult task, no matter what your occupation. Do you find it difficult to balance touring and performing with being a Dad? What have you found helps you find a balance between the two? Trying to balance tour and home life is a constant tightrope walk for any artist, but having a child makes it that much more challenging. FaceTime is essential on the road. On the other hand, thankfully, when I AM home, I spend all day, every day with my daughter. It is true quality time. What do you do to relax? Do you have any hobbies that are not music related? Do you consider yourself a dedicated fan of any TV, movie or book series? I’m a huge fan of all of those things! My favorite TV shows are Sherlock, Game of Thrones, Top Chef, and Friday Night Lights to name a few. How many tattoos do you have? Where are they, what are they and what significance does the particular symbol/ words/images have to you? I have two tattoos — one on my left wrist and the other on my left bicep. The wrist tattoo is an ampersand. I got it in Austin, TX with a few of my friends and for me it represents the importance of friendships. My bicep tattoo says “bradford” which is a family name. It was my grandmother’s middle name and after she passed away late last year my sister and I got the ink done in her memory.
Are you listening?
Alternative and indie music from the 80s, 90s & today as well as new & unsigned artists emerging from the underground
SUNDAY NOISY SUNDAY SUNDAY | 4:30 PM EST
THE FABULOUS D SHOW MONDAY | 9 PM EST
FC PRESENTS WEDNESDAY | 8 PM EST
Sunday Noisy Sunday is a one hour musical journey, from noise to neo-classical, from wild rock to warm electronic music. This show is curated by GrĂŠgoire Fray (THOT).
With interesting guests and commentary, The Artist D tries desperately to display the realty of the moment. The Fabulous D Show is for anyone with a brain in their head. New shows every Monday! Previous episodes are revisited each Thursday at 11 PM EST.
Join The Artist D and various Fourculture artists as they unveil their new creations on a selected Wednesday of each month.
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BY PAUL A FR A NK
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In 2012, James Orvis and Alice Smith came together to create Paris XY. With six releases already to their credit, Paris XY has truly grown into their own sound, mixing traditional elements with sonic sounds to create music that is simultaneously stunning and stark. Alice’s lyrical influences, ranging from Joy Division to Edgar Allen Poe, add depth and dimension to James’ production skills and together they have created a unique canvas of sound. We got a chance to delve into the dual minds of Paris XY and discover where their sonic journey has taken them.
For a band that formed in 2012, you already have quite a catalog of work. What drives your creativity? ALICE: From when we first met we’ve had exactly the same inspirations; Trentmoller, LCD Soundsystem, Prodigy, post punk and indie, and then house, techno, and minimal. We understand each other and we’ve got the mutual love and dream of music being our life that helps us support each other I think. It sounds really naive when I say it like this, but when we watch other bands or DJs, it makes us want it more. It is a fickle line of work, but if we know that from the off then it’s easier to deal with. JAMES: For me it’s gotten to a point in which creating music has become an everyday part of my life, I couldn’t imagine taking a different path now. If I did it would still be something to do with the arts. The drive comes from a basic drive to want to create. To support creation we want to make success from our music that will allow us to carry on creating without having to juggle the mundane 9-5 day job. How did each of you get involved in music to begin with? What are your musical backgrounds? ALICE: I started with the cello when I was 9 and learned classically. When I went to school I started singing in musical theatre. I’ve taught myself to sing listening to Billie Holiday and worked in bars as a lounge singer. I wanted to make something of my own so, after a short stint with a beatboxer, made Paris XY with Jim. JAMES: I’m afraid we don’t have great stories for this one! Just the usual...listening 24 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUETHIRTEEN THIRTEEN
to music and picking up instruments, forming bands with friends and thinking you’re the next Jim Morrison! I had a very musical time growing up studying and idolizing bands such as Nirvana, The Doors, Stones, Pink Floyd, etc. I would borrow records and CDs from my father and uncle who were into some great music. The passion started there really. Did you have a clear idea of what musical direction you wanted to take when you began or is it something that evolved over some time? How did you get to where you are now? ALICE: It has taken the best part of 2 years to find what I would call “our sound.” Everything we make has always been our take on whatever genre we’ve decided, but I think gradually we’ve found a setup that is unique. Songs sound like “Paris XY” songs without being too repetitive I think. It’s always amazing to hear that people are reminded of a whole plethora of music and art, but it still sounds new. JAMES: My initial idea was to combine The Strokes with Soulwax/Crystal Castles! The way things have turned out though has far surpassed my expectations. I think we have arrived at a much deeper and mature sound to what I envisioned before I met Alice. I think our sound has evolved through us sharing ideas and influences over the past two years. I think we are heading in the right direction but we still haven’t fully developed, I don’t think we ever will as we are always looking for new ways to push our music and challenge ourselves in the studio.
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You have really done things on your own, even to the point of hosting your own shows. Would you have it any other way? How difficult was it in the beginning to really get yourselves heard? ALICE: Leeds is a thriving growing city for music and has been for years now. It’s a good base to work from, but occasionally hasn’t worked in our favour. The music we make can sometimes be a little niche I think, and in that respect it has made it hard to get booked, especially starting out when we had no fan base. We launched “The Basement” at the lads’ house in Headingley. We tested out our tracks and sets, and put bands and DJs on, throwing house parties every month with a 4K sound system in an underground basement. That built our following and support from Jim’s hometown, Hull, helped us get our music out of Leeds. Now, our biggest cohorts of fans aside from England are Germany, Portugal, Mexico and Eastern Europe… the power of the internet I guess. The saturation at the moment makes it a struggle for serious artists to get noticed. A lot of the time it’s not because promoters or labels don’t like your stuff. They just can’t get through everything sent to them. I don’t know if this surge in bands and musicians will continue to increase. If it does it will be nigh on impossible to get heard if you don’t know the right people.
You’ve worked with some other artists, such as Euan Baker films, consistently to bring your music further to life. How have you built that collective? How important is it to build that cooperatively creative group around you? ALICE: Euan was introduced to us by Stew Baxter. There is an amazing group of creative people in Hull who support and inspire us. Besides this, William Reinsch, a young artist from London is doing the album artwork. Such a good find! Lots of our friends are in bands, from metal and classic rock’n’roll to other producers and singers. We definitely need creative minds. It’s essential for inspiration and just that ethos and unifying drive behind what we all live for helps our work a lot. It helps as well that everyone we know is hugely talented. I love the fact that you show us your own inspirations on a regular basis, sharing videos of other artists’ works. How do you carry that inspiration into your own work? JAMES: Forming this band has been a huge learning process. It’s the first time either of us has tried to combine traditional rock and alternative music with current electronic styles. In order to find our way it has been important for us to explore vari-
ous styles of music and soak up the influences and ideas along the way. We have started to dig a little bit deeper lately, pulling influences from classical music, film scores and really obscure underground electronic music. From inspirations and experimentation we have started to develop our own unique sonic signature. I strongly believe that to make new ideas in music and art it usually goes through a process of merging and twisting ideas taken from other places. This is usually a process done consciously or subconsciously and I think that’s what we try to show in our work. So much of “electronic” music is concentrated in creating an atmospheric soundscape, a bass line and electronic clicks and clacks. While Paris XY does create some fantastic sounds, there is also a focus on lyricism and what you want to convey through words. Has that been an important focus, something you have kept on the frontline as you create? ALICE: I only started writing and singing in earnest when I knew I had thoughts I needed to release. I wouldn’t say it’s all melancholy and I wallow in my own emotions, but I love poetry and gothic fiction and if I can write direct songs but cover them in analogy I stay protected and the songs create depth that I hope rivals James’ production.
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JAMES: If we had an unlimited budget we would definitely spend a lot of time creating a deeply visceral experience for the audience. Visual aesthetics are almost as equally as important as the music itself these days. Visuals can add a whole new dimension to the live experience. We do have a vision in which we really want to mess with peoples senses through sound and visuals using technology such as projection mapping, surround sound, 3D technology and optical illusions. Maybe we would go for a really dark and twisted take on Alice in Wonderland? ALICE: We’ve been trying to get the Lewis Carroll influence into our work, if Your music has a rather psychological you watch the Vigil we managed to use the feel to it and I sometimes find myself 1906 film version of the story. There’s a lot picturing the old psychedelic live light of room for psychedelia for sure. shows of the 60s and 70s fitting very well with your sound as a whole “experi- How would you describe your relationence.” What can people expect from a ship as a duo? If you could compare live Paris XY show? If you could define yourselves to any great duo, who would your perfect show with unlimited bud- it be and why? JAMES: This is hard! Simon and Garfunget, what would it be like? Your newest video for “The Return” is a true complement to the starkly frenetic energy of the song. How did you come up with the concept for the video? Do you think in visual terms as you’re creating a new song or does that come later? ALICE: The concepts always come from the production and what we’ve seen or listened to as well as the prose I come up with. The lyrics usually come before the visual element, but then the lyrics are usually conjured from some morbid corner of my mind, realized in all of our songs. A Paris XY song never goes without some dark desolate undertone.
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kel? Ike and Turner? Robson and Jerome? I really don’t know. I would love to come up with a really clever answer but I can’t. Is there a full length album in the works? What’s happening at Paris XY HQ? ALICE: Yes there is a full album. We are getting through it, but it needs to be perfect so it’s taking time. We’ve been working hard on getting the live set ready for our Germany and Holland tour, as well as our summer of festivals. We will hopefully have it finished for the start of 2015, so the plan is to tour around Europe once it’s done. Lots of things happening. Details will be released in due course… You’ve been selected for a secret space mission. You can take only one gadget with you. What’s it going to be? ALICE: Jim can’t let his Mac leave his side so I’m guessing it would have to be that. We could come back with some insane David Bowie-esque LP. I think it could make a revival.
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representations and revelations
BY THE A RTI ST D
Photographers show us their vision. Scott Pasfield shows us ambition mixed with the revelations of a world that surrounds him. We are taken through a journey of not only art but ambitions to represent the culture in true light. From his inspiring photos of Gay in America to his endeavors and partnerships throughout the dimensions of our world, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey of Scott's adventures and taking a look into the world as he sees it...perhaps how many of us ought to.
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Looking into your world we find that you have done some stellar photography on many different levels. No matter what the person, place or thing you always seem to be showing us the intimacy of the situation. Where did this passion for photography come from? Even at a young age, the passion came from a natural high I experienced after successfully capturing what I had seen, along with the emotional response to what I was witnessing, and then sharing it with others. That is still true today. There is a certain special touch to all your photos which can only be described as showing us what is seen through your eyes. What do you think you are showing the world? I want to show the world what I find beautiful in life and to do so in the smartest, most interesting and thought provoking way I can. In your amazing book Gay in America you showed us that gay people are just people like everyone else. People are just people kept going through my mind …and beautiful people at that. What achievements did you see with this book?
themselves gay, but were not gay men, felt excluded from the collection. As a result, many of the organizations we had hoped would embrace it and use it as a teaching tool did not, fearing it was not politically correct enough. I heard that had it been LGBTQ in America it would have been more useful to them. but the fact that I was part of the same world as my subjects was the reason these men so honestly opened up to me and the work was so strong. Words that people think they own, that describe themselves for a lifetime, can turn into polarizing words for others that end up tearing the community apart. We continue to see that happen today. As far as the mainstream press goes, we were disappointed that most outlets did little to report on the book, despite it being so timely with the repeal of DADT and marriage equality. Perhaps they What kind of feedback did you get about are not ready to report that we are just like Gay in America from the people outside everyone else. of the gay community? The response to the book was amazing The portraits you take are striking to for many reasons and I learned so much. me. Tell me about what draws you to do The publisher changed the title from Scott this type of photography? Do you have Pasfield’s Gay America, aka my personal a preference of portraits vs. landscapes, project, to Gay in America, a definitive col- etc.? Why? I am drawn to people, their soul and lection, which greatly affected the way it was perceived. Some people that considered the beauty that lies within. To capture that During the process of making the book, one subject asked me what it was like to be doing missionary work. It left me speechless. It was nothing I had ever considered possible with my work. Sharing these men’s stories, allowing them to truly be heard and putting them through the process of being photographed was life changing for many. To successfully take a portrait, I believe you hold up a mirror to people that they often don’t look in. For some that is quite profound. The book also touched many people’s lives outside of the subjects, which was my original intent: to make a book that would let troubled kids or adults know that they were not alone and they could lead happy lives as out gay men wherever they wanted. I continue to hear from men whose lives have changed as a result of the book.
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Another success of yours was opening The INN with your partner, Nick Barletta. I can’t imagine how exciting it must have been to renovate a historic 6500 square foot former lumber baron’s home from the late 1800’s! Where did this opportunity come from and how has it changed your life? We had a ski place in Vermont for many years and when Nick was offered an early retirement from his corporate job we both jumped at the chance of getting out of NYC and doing something different. With our business and design backgrounds, we saw it as a chance to combine our passions in one project. It has been an incredible journey since buying the place two years ago and we have learned a lot about ourselves and each other along the way. It is definitely a challenge to go from having separate work lives to being together 24/7 and making decisions together. Anyone that has renovated something with their partner can attest to that. The next project you are embarking on is a change of location to Los Angeles California. I’ve recently seen some photos popping up as you explore the city. What do you hope to achieve in L.A.? With the INN up and running now and much of the creative work done, my hope is to start shooting more commercial work, which took a backseat to that project. After spending sixteen years in NYC then two in VT, LA seems a perfect fit at the moment for recharging my batteries. It is also home to the entertainment industry which I feel is a natural place for me and my portraiture. through a photograph is very challenging for me. It is something I think I can still get better at and for that reason I am drawn to it even more. To me it is the ultimate skill to combine the technical expertise of photography with the psychological game of directing someone in a way that reveals something wonderful and honest about them. My landscape work has changed in recent years as a result. I am often looking for a fleeting moment in nature that has a similar reaction.
You’ve clearly had the exciting opportunity to do a lot of traveling and see a lot of different hidden corners of our lands. What have you learned most about the world out there from exploring it? The more I explore the world, the more I want to see and the more beauty I search out to share with others. We are bombarded by so many negative images that are anything but beautiful in our daily lives. I hope to change the lives of those around me through my images, if only for a moment.
So, you’ve spent a lot of time in New York City and then two years in Vermont, now L.A. This is as much a wide ranging life as your photos are. Would you say you’re more rural or urban? What’s the balance you seek? I am equal parts rural and urban and love the extremes of both. Having the right balance makes me happiest. For me, that is the most important thing in life.
For more information on Scott Pasfield, visit: www.scottpasfield.com http://www.welcomebooks.com/gayinamerica/ http://www.theinn.us/
The Fabulous D Show OPINION. SURREALISM. EXTRATERRESTRIALISM.
FROM THE UNDERGROUND W W W. T H E FA B U L O U S D S H O W. C O M
BY PAUL A FR A NK PHOTOG R A PH Y BY DOUG SE Y M O UR
For over 30 years, Peter Murphy has stood as a testament to what music can be. From his beginnings in the band Bauhaus to his tremendous catalog of solo work, Murphy has stayed true to his passions and created album after album of incredible work. His uniquely baritone voice may be what catches the ears of listeners, but the haunting melodies combined with lyrics that provoke thought and open interpretation are what have kept them listening and made them die hard fans. Quite simply, heâ€™s a legend; a status which he seems quite reluctant to accept. With the release of his tenth solo album, Lion, Peter Murphy gives us a sound that is distinctively him while proving that he can still surprise us. For an album that was done through mostly on the spot improvisation, the music is deep, lush, and uncompromised. This is Peter from all sides and every angle. I jumped at the chance to speak to Murphy who, for me, has truly been a musical icon. Despite a couple of technological mishaps, I was finally able to connect with Peter in his home of Istanbul. I found him to be one of the most amiable, gentlemanly, and humble people I have ever had the pleasure to interview. Although our time was short, we discussed his thoughts on the unchanging core of music, stepping away from it all, and of course the new album.
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First of all, thank you so much for taking the time out for us! It’s a great pleasure to speak with you. Thank you very much! You’ve been around quite a long time now. In looking back, do you think you found music or do you think music found you? I think it was a case of I found music as sort of a basic singer. As a child I was brought up as a youngster in a sort of very vocal family. There was always music being played in the house, pop music through the 60’s and 70’s. There was a lot of song in the house and I would always gravitate toward vocals and harmonies. I’m not a musician at all. I’ve got no aptitude. I mean, I can play a few chords but that’s where that came in. Daniel Ash and I were very good friends from school. He and I sort of had a clique at school where we appreciated the same sorts of music and had that very childish wish to start up something. Daniel initiated that and it just went on from there, really very quickly. During that whole period I was learning how to sing very sparse and very often sort of oblique musical backdrops. So yeah, I think it found me. I was drawn to it but never sure how to get into it being from that sort of early 70s time in Britain. That time period gave a lot of nonmusicians the opportunity to begin to start playing and being creative; not that I was a punk in any way. We picked it up after that. The band (Bauhaus) formed around ‘79 and there you go. In continuing on with that, having been in the music industry for so long, you have come through all of these huge changes that we’ve seen in the music industry; from vinyl to cassette to cd and now to digital download. You’ve come through all of that. Even with all of those changes, what musical truths do you think still remain the same and unchanging through it all? Musical truth. What is musical truth? It’s the passion for anybody to just want to make music. On a philosophical level, I wouldn’t know how to approach that question, but the music industry definitely has changed. As you say, the manner of acquiring music has become random now, almost chaotic or out of control as it were. It requires us to tour a lot more and that’s a great challenge. Last year I played like 90 shows and that’s something that has to be looked at. The network has been great in promoting the album and all of that, but I have to do my bit to tour with it. That’s the thing. For me, I am considered an older artist, so I think it’s a case of trying to capture an audience now in a generation oriented towards the more 42 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUETHIRTEEN THIRTEEN
“What is musical truth? It’s the passion for anybody to just want to make music.”
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singular song. Albums aren’t necessarily looked for as albums in that sense. Even though there’s an album coming out by “x and x artist” people tend to pick and choose one or two songs or whatever, so that is the real challenge. But what’s a musical truth? I think that’s the connection between the song, the performer, and the audience itself, the listener. Has that changed the way you approach an album now? Knowing that people will be picking and choosing? No, no. I do have set habits of, course, and I have that sort of mindset where I do approach making an album as an album even though I’m aware it’s going to be broken up into pieces. The thing with this album was that I had to jump in on it for two very fast, prolific periods and very little to work with. The producer, Youth, and I were doing this all very quickly. Basically I think we spent one week in London and then another week in Spain and I had to fly off, so as a creator I really had to be creative on the spot and do a lot of improvising. There are a lot of higher vocals going on there and I’m having to work a lot harder to get ready for it to be live. It seems that you go from tour and then there’s another album and you’re out touring again. You’ve been very prolific in your work and in staying out there and staying current. On top of that you’ve done film spots here and there, art… Well, we must admit, the films have been basically cameos. If I were to really get pitched or pitch myself into the acting world I might get typecast as a kind of like dark, cliché character. Basically things like The Hunger were bookends really. I wouldn’t really count them as acting. How do you step away? Do you step away or do you feel that need to express all the time? I do have to step away. I mean, after 90 shows of touring, you have to get a breath and a reboot of some kind. I do step away. I live with my wife and children in Turkey and that’s been a great value to me in terms of being able to disengage. The downside of that is I’m really sort of lazy on keeping up on what’s happening currently and it can become a bit like pulling teeth sometimes, refreshing and rebooting and approaching new songs again. I’m just a hard worker. Do you consider that detrimental to yourself then, that you sort of shy away from the current scene or do you think that’s helpful that you’re not stuck in this noise that there is these days with everything all at once? 44 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUETHIRTEEN THIRTEEN
I do check it out sometimes and look but I do avoid the associations with myself and the rest of the old Bauhaus band and don’t really identify with the old gothic moniker. I do try to avoid that. I generally listen to that music. Brian Eno’s music always catches my attention very well. I think there are two sides to that coin. Is it detrimental? Possibly, but I don’t see the point in trying to keep up with a trend of any kind. And you don’t have to! I do love it when I hear a great vocalist. Amy Winehouse, god rest her soul, was one of those people. You know she was just sitting on a sofa nonchalantly and it was like magic. You’ve done some albums in which you’ve brought in a bit more world music and things like that. If you will allow me a fan girl moment here, I have to give you a lot credit because I was at that sort of impressionable young age when I first heard you and you don’t think as deeply as you do when you’re older and… Are you talking about Dust? The album Dust? Yes! And even going back to the Deep album or even back as far as Bauhaus, it was the first time I had to stop and think about what I was listening to. It totally changed the way I looked at music and that it could mean more. Well, you’ve got to give a lot of credit to the Bauhaus band members. I was writing a couple of songs here and there but lyrically, it was very much a workhouse and a
â€œMy lyrics tend to be very impressionistic and leaving things open to the imagination.â€?
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part of all four of us. Thank you for that! My lyrics tend to be very impressionistic and leaving things open to the imagination. I like that you said that because I don’t like to direct too much. Brian (Eno) did that very well. He used lyrics as almost musical ideas in themselves and they give you an opportunity to use your own imagination. Exactly, an opportunity to consider what you’re listening to. At the time, and even through the rest of your career, do you think of yourself as an innovator in that way, that you have helped changed the face of music for people? Is that not something you even consider? I don’t think I’ve changed it. I’m very humble about that. I would pull back from saying I’ve changed the face of music. But I think you have for many people! You think so? Well, that’s a compliment.
that changed the face of music. Bauhaus may have generated something also in that sense and for that they deserve congratulations because they went on after Bauhaus to do very good work. They should be congratulated on that score.
The album is fantastic! I am in love with the song “I Am My Own Name.” Can you tell me just a little bit about what inspired the song?
Well, it’s that simple, trying to get away from the many identifications that can get pointed at you. It’s a statement I want to get to the new album, Lion! itself really. It’s just me here. Whatever What are you most proud of on this new you may think of me, it’s just me and it’s album? a celebration of that really. I think it would be the way in which we made it almost massive. Recording What have been some of the greatest wise that’s fine, but live wise I’ve got to lessons you have learned from makreally try to look at that and see how I ing your first album and now to making can achieve that with the little resources Lion? I will have. Vocally it was very spontaThe first album was a case of me neous and very inspired but on review learning how to put an album together. I’m finding that I was so high up there In fact there were so many musicians that I’ve got to really try and get that back on it we added of a montage now and I’m finding that difficult. It was into it. Then it wasa asort case finding a done and edited on the spot, so I’m a lit- band. This album was doneofagain with tle bit tentative about that at the moment not much involvement from the musical and we’ll see how that goes live, but I’ve level itself on the instrumentation. So I yet to feel it out to be honest. think I’ve learned how to use different After so many releases you’ve done with approaches when it comes to constructall your work throughout the years, do ing the music.
Well, I know it did for me and for many other people that I know. I hear that, but I can’t see that from the inside. I’m just a songster really, with both a disadvantage and an advantage in the you still have that sense of excitement at way that I’m not a musician in that sense getting a new album out into the world? Can we count on you making music far Yes, I do! Absolutely! As long as I into the future? so what comes out somehow must contain I hope so, Paula! I really hope so! something that works. I’m always amazed can do it well. Definitely. that it does work and I can’t imagine that We’ll see how it goes.
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ELING BY PAUL A FR A NK
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The Feeling exploded onto the music scene in 2006 with an acclaimed debut album and a string of notable hits. Best known in the UK, the five guys of The Feeling saw worldwide success with songs like “Sewn” and “Fill My Little World”. Two more albums followed along with a slew of festivals and tour dates. Fame comes with a price and The Feeling were feeling the pressure. It was time for a change and a bit of a breather. Splitting with their label, Dan, Richard, Kevin, Ciaran, and Paul got together to just enjoy crafting music again. The result is their newest album, Boy Cried Wolf, released in the UK last fall and here in the states earlier this year. Raw with emotion, Boy Cried Wolf is a testament to what a truly talented band can do when left to create and trust themselves. We caught up with lead singer Dan Gillespie Sells to discuss the new album and getting back to basics.
The songs on Boy Cried Wolf seem to come from a very deeply emotional place. Do you ever find it difficult to rip yourself open and spill it all out like that? How do you then rein it in to make it relatable to listeners? It's all about the songs for me. If they need it I will tell everything. Sometimes they feel like they need to sound a little more guarded and so sometimes I will rein it in but only if it's right for the song. I've learned Boy Cried Wolf is your latest and fourth that, as a writer you have to be prepared to studio album. Much of the album comes 'go there'. from places of loss as things were changing not only professionally but This time around, you got to self-propersonally. Was making this album duce the new album and had complete somewhat of a catharsis and liberation creative control. How different of an experience was that from being under a of sorts? How so? Being creative in any way is good for label with everyone’s thumbs in the proyou. I was just coming out of a tough time verbial pie? Did you find that freedom with this record and so was the band. This affecting the music in any way? The attitude this time was much more record represents where we were right then and it was healthy for us to express our- like our debut album. There was very little pressure. We had learned to trust our selves...it always is! You guys have been around for a while now and have lived the highs and lows of the music industry. Do you think you have now settled into a truly comfortable place as a band? It continues to be a roller coaster! I suppose we are more philosophical about our careers and about our art in general but there are always new adventures along the way that continue to surprise us!
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“We have managed to make a career out of doing the thing we love. It can’t get much better than that.” instincts again. With a lot of our career, once we had become successful, it was hard to see the wood from the trees with all the opinions! It was our fault too. We wanted to listen to everyone and please everyone. You guys have said that you didn’t necessarily feel second and third album pressure commercially, aside from external forces. Do you ever pressure yourselves as a band in any way or are you pretty relaxed about the whole thing? We are still learning. It's all a process. Artistically we are more ambitious now than ever. The commercial side of things is someone else's job as far as I'm concerned. I don't ever want to have to be that person. “Rescue” and “Blue Murder” have been the single releases off of the album so far. Do you have standout songs when putting an album together that you just know should be singles? Any band arguments on which songs should be released or do you all get on pretty well when it comes to decisions like that? I hate having to choose singles. I just want to put the album out and let the fans decide which ones they love. That would be the right way round. Instead you have to second guess your audience. It sucks. “The Gloves are Off” is one of my personal favorite songs from the album and one I think every human can relate to. Can you tell me more about the creation of that song? I started with 'Prelude No. 1' by Bach and put it into a minor key. The rest of the song just seemed to hang on that little musical sequence. We really had fun going all prog on that song! What is a day like in the studio? Who’s the prankster? The business guy? The sleeper? What’s the drink of choice? ISSUE THIRTEEN
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Ciaran is definitely the sleeper! As soon as we get into the geeky production on a song he's out like a light. Drinks are: strong long blacks from Wilton's Cafe and Brooklyn Larger. You’ve done some pretty hard core touring playing everything from intimate gigs to huge stadiums. Do you enjoy being on the road? Do you have a preference of one type of gig over another? A great crowd makes it for me… whether it's a big gig or small. Sometimes it all just clicks and everyone is together in it. Playing live is always important for us. We played ten shows a week in the Alps when we first started. We don't really know much else. We’d love to see you playing all over America. Do you think it will happen someday? Why do you think America is such a tough nut for UK artists to crack? I don't know about other artist but America is tough because of the amount of time you need to commit to it. We have this amazing fan base in UK and young families here. That's not to say that if the opportunity arose we wouldn't jump at it! I could see us all getting a big house somewhere and working the clubs and building it up. We would just need that first break. It's a romantic notion for me! Top ten singles, hit albums, industry awards…you guys have been there. At the end of the day, how do you really measure success? I only believe in measuring success through happiness. Things are better for us now than ever. We have managed to make a career out of doing the thing we love. It can't get much better than that. If you each could pick a song from any of your albums that suits you best, which songs would they be and why? For me it is impossible to choose. I will be honest with you. I tend to just make one up on the spot when I am asked. Today it is 'Fall like Rain'. It makes me feel hopeful. We hope The Feeling never ends. What’s next for you guys? Thank you! We have a summer full of festivals and during the week days we are working on new material already. Can't stop us now.
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needs must when the devil drives
BY DER EK Oâ€™NE A L
[debut] is more than just a band – it’s a music and art collective with an ever-changing cast, directed by musician, composer, and producer Gareth Thomas. Based in Los Angeles, California, [debut]’s sound lies somewhere between electro-pop and alternative rock and delivers cinematic soundscapes. [debut] began as a solo project and the first two studio albums – Soaked (2006) and Set To Zero (2010) – are instrumentals and have tracks featured in films and television advertisements. What began as a solo project has now become a revolving door of talent featuring various vocalists, musicians, producers, directors, and artists. The collaboration has expanded to video, film, and art with upcoming projects Postcards From Berlin and Home. Postcards From Berlin is a collection of songs inspired by the city of Berlin, which according to Gareth are “songs filled with the coldness of Eastern European winters, soaring pianos of classical eras gone by, and a raw industrial edge that only that city can inspire.” The album was successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Backers of the campaign will have their voices featured on the album in the form of Gareth’s Berlin Choir, an unparalleled vision that allowed fans not only to aid the project financially, but also become a part of its sound. According to Gareth, “having fans be a legitimate part of something they own just seems like perfection to me.” Postcards From Berlin will be released in December 2014. Home is a huge project. It’s an integrated short film, concept album, and collection of art that all culminates in a unique live show experience. “The central theme is about finding your place in this world, whether it’s what you do, where you live or who you love. It’s about finding out what you are supposed to do with your life and living it.” The project is slated for an early 2016 release, followed by extensive touring. From the forthcoming projects Postcards From Berlin to Home, to film score work to producing other artists to writing, always writing… Gareth Thomas is a busy man.
Why did you choose the name [debut] for your music? What is the significance of the name being enclosed in brackets? I wanted something simple and abstract that wouldn’t date or limit what the project could become. I couldn’t actually think of anything and then I saw the word on the cover of a Björk album and it just clicked for me. The brackets and logo font were actually very deliberate to maintain uniformity across all uses. “Arial font and always use the brackets” are pretty simple instructions for most people to stick to and hopefully get right! You chose popular crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to help fund your upcoming album, Postcards From Berlin. The campaign was successfully funded and was backed by nearly 134%! You surpassed your initial goal of $7,500 and reached your first stretch goal of $10,000 and now plan to include an additional song. In your personal experience, what are the pros and cons of going the crowd funding route? Well I must start by saying that it was a ton of work. We planned the campaign for about 8 weeks prior to launch and then the actual month of campaigning took a huge amount of effort. The video itself took about a week to “script” then 2 days to shoot and a week to edit. I say this because I think some people don’t realize that you can’t just slap something up and expect a load of people to throw cash at you. It’s much harder than that. You have to earn it. You have to create a compelling story and reason for people to step up and part with their money. Selling something that doesn’t yet exist is tricky so you have to really show people what they are going to get and how it will sound. You have to solve all this by planning it into your strategy. That’s why the video features quite specific footage and sound bites of a lot of the songs from the album. It’s also why we released “Open Your Soul” midway through the campaign to say “Here is something for you NOW that is reflective of the whole album and which also shows the quality of what you are going to get.” I think raising money to finish something that is already deep in production is smarter and more realistic than asking for help when you‘ve not yet maxed out your own resources to get it as far as you can first. I think backers respect you more when you show that you’ve spent a bunch of your own money on this, that you’re committed and in with both feet before asking for their help. Another thing is setting the dollar amount. We chose $7500 not because that’s what was needed but because it was what we thought we could realistically raise if it all went well. $7500 after Kickstarter’s 58 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUETHIRTEEN THIRTEEN
percentage and actually fulfilling all the rewards would have left us with around $5k to finish the project. I worked out that this was just about possible if I begged favors and kept it all simple. In reality I needed to raise more but with the “all or nothing” factor, setting the bar higher to start with would have been a disaster. Hitting $10k means that I can now do everything properly, still on a very tight budget mind you. There’s no champagne factor in this budget! Lastly, it’s a process where you really are tapping into your existing fan-base and network for money. We did acquire new fans in the process but I’d say 75% of the backers are people we knew in advance and who already had bought something from [debut] in the past. I say this because you must put effort in to reaching new people but you can’t spend a lot of money doing this. It has to be a grassroots effort. Trying to boost posts by paying on Facebook brought zero money in. We tried it twice and we’d hit 20,000 specifically targeted people (allegedly) but it didn’t transfer to rewards being bought. Postcards From Berlin is a collection of songs inspired by Berlin. What intrigues you most about Berlin? Strangely, and I don’t quite know why, I’ve always been magnetized to the city. It just fascinates me; the wall, the culture, its history. Of course it was the music I grew up with that introduced it to me, Depeche Mode and U2 specifically, but there’s something more that pulls me towards it and I can’t put my finger on why. It just does. I have a ton of friends and contacts there and creatively I’m being pulled in that direction so I’m just going with the flow! I naturally seemed to write a collection of songs that made sense with this direction and a sound that just said “Berlin” to me…Cold minor key pianos, huge warehouse drums and vast dynamic changes. It’s going to be quite a demanding listen I think; introverted, a little angry, dark but still with some positivity lifting it out of the doldrums. Postcards From Berlin will be recorded partially in Los Angeles and partially in Berlin, where you will construct what has become known as your Berlin Choir. How did you come up with this incredibly unique concept? What made you decide to use the voices of your fans versus a real choir? You never quite know exactly why or how an idea comes to you. I think it’s a combination of impressions and happenings that all of a sudden crystallize into an idea, that “a-ha” moment. In this case, I think it was needing to find a unique angle to get people involved for the Kickstarter campaign to work. I’d already had the idea of “crowd60 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUETHIRTEEN THIRTEEN
“There are professionals who can do certain things better than me and in working with them I get my creativity ignited and everyone is forced to raise their game. I still always direct and guide things in the direction aligned with my vision. After all, I am [debut] and I know where the ship needs to go.”
participation” for a song on Home and I was listening to the demo for the song “Passion” where there’s this beautiful choir moment and it just made sense. The technical side is pretty straight forward. Backers will record themselves singing any note, in or out of tune and email me that note. I’ll put it in to some software and tune it then layer it on a keyboard so that I can play everyone’s voice at the same time. We’ll then pump that choir through a PA system in to the huge halls in Hansa studios and record it capturing the room’s reverb too. People will be able to say, “Yeah, I sang in the same studio as Bono and Bowie!” Crazy but pretty cool. Having fans be a legitimate part of something they own just seems like perfection to me. What is your ideal songwriting environment? Describe your overall creative process. There are essentially two ways I work. The first is the standard way of sitting down at the piano and just playing and exploring until I find something that inspires me and off I go. This typically results in a slower or ballad type track and a “song driven” production. The other way is “sound driven”. I will just sample and gather drum parts or synth sounds in the computer and start programming. I look for atmospheres. This often leads to tracks that are more rhythmically driven where vocals sit as another layer rather than the pure focus. “Open Your Soul” is a good example of this. It’s not a typical song structure at all. It just goes where the sounds and dynamics dictate it should. Sometimes a song will move between the two approaches and this is a way that I test songs to see how good they are. For example, “Sweet Little Girl” works as a stripped down piano and voice only track but also as a full studio production. Writing and recording is often the same process for me. The tape is always running you
could say. So something I played at the every start of the writing of a demo often ends up on the mastered recording. Of all the songs you have written and recorded which one stands out as a personal favorite? That’s a really hard one because I actually really love my own music and listen to my own stuff more than anyone else’s! I guess that’s a good thing in that I am creating what makes me happy but if I have to pick I’d say...I love “Starting to Love It.” It doesn’t sound like anyone else and technically it’s pretty unique too with so many layers and sounds. I have a song called “Angel” that is on Home that when I listened to the finished recording for the first time, all the hairs on my neck stood up and I just started to cry uncontrollably. It took a year to write and I knew it was going to be a very important track from the first initial demo. I had to get the words just right for it to make sense with the “Home” concept and I think actually achieving that was an incredible moment. Who are your influences? What goes into the [debut] sound? Well I’m classically and jazz trained on piano so that affects everything. Certainly it’s affected the mood I’m creating with the Postcards album. I’m also a rebel so I am always looking to do things differently from anyone else. That’s where the jazz influence and freedom comes in, to take things in non-obvious directions. Sounds inspire me. I’m not really into the standard guitar, bass and drums thing so it’s really the experimental artists that have influenced me the most. Depeche, Radiohead, Talk Talk, Björk and Blur. I love drum machines and synths and anyone who uses them well will catch my ear. Ladytron, Phantogram, IAMX, The Naked and Famous. I also like people with concepts rather than just ISSUE ISSUETHIRTEEN THIRTEEN
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Needs must as the devil drives! Isn’t that random collections of songs. To me Linkin Park’s Thousand Suns is the perfect blend the old saying? I can sing but there are only of concept, experimentation and pop-rock certain types of song that can hit their potential with my voice. I’m happy to do those all rolled in to one. but other tracks need different tones and Chris Corner of IAMX directed and edit- ranges and this is where the girls come in. ed the visually stunning music video for Each one brings something unique to the your song, “Starting To Love It,” featur- table. As a producer it’s like having a rack ing the lovely Cyd St. Claire. How did the of great synths to hand. Each one does its collaboration with Chris and Cyd come thing uniquely and you want to choose the about? Do you have plans to work with right one for the right song. It’s that simple. It’s also great to have someone else to work them in the future? Chris did a PledgeMusic campaign for with. An idea or tone from them can spark my his last album and when I saw that he was creativity and take the track to a new level. I offering to do a video for another band I learned early on to not try to do everything pounced on it. It was part of the whole “Ber- myself. There are professionals who can do lin-attraction” thing again. I thought “this is certain things better than me and in working either the best decision I ever make or a ter- with them I get my creativity ignited and evrible waste of money.” Luckily it’s turned out eryone is forced to raise their game. I still alrather well! We work really easily together. ways direct and guide things in the direction I told him my concept and what it had to in- aligned with my vision. After all, I am [debut] clude and let him get on with it. We were and I know where the ship needs to go. In the future I hope to do more work with so in sync that his initial edit was perfect. Sammi Doll who sang backing vocals on No revisions required. We’ve now become good friends. He’s been using my studio in “Open Your Soul”. I’m also open to working LA. It depends on work load and other com- with guy singers but right now I’m stepping mitments but hopefully Chris will help me up and doing a lot more vocals myself. In fact, on Postcards from Berlin I sing 90% of mix Postcards from Berlin. Cyd was working at a songwriting school the songs. next to my studio and again we just clicked. Siobhan, who sang the single version of You recently joined forces with RedOne “Starting to Love It” is in England, so when Productions to pen a track for J-Lo, betit came time to doing a video I had to think ter known as Jennifer Lopez. How did laterally. I asked Cyd to sing a new “video this collaboration come about? Can you version” and star in it and the rest is history. divulge anything about the song? I got a call one day asking if I’d be She is going to sing “Want” on the new album and hopefully be available for live shows and interested in doing a songwriting session with and for RedOne and J-Lo. You can’t the LA Launch Party in December. turn that down really, can you? It was a Speaking of music videos, what will be tough day at the office in terms of having the first song to receive music video to finish a track in one day. It usually takes treatment on Postcards From Berlin? weeks, months, even a year for me to write a song, so the pressure was on but I enDo you have a director in mind? Not sure yet. It might be “Open Your joyed it. We, (Marjorie Maye and I), came Soul” because although it’s out there al- up with a pretty great ballad. It’s not a ready, we’ve not yet really done a proper [debut] style song at all but it’s perfect for a release of it and a video plus a “Berlin pop or film placement. In the end J-Lo didn’t version” could work. Otherwise we’ll see. record it but word is that Red loved it and Postcards isn’t really full of “single” ma- another RedOne artist will use it soon. terial. It’s more like one flow of different soundscapes so it might be hard to choose. In addition to Postcards From Berlin, In terms of director, I might do it myself ac- you have an upcoming film project entually or co-direct with Chase Stockman. titled Home, and it is said that you have already completed the script. Can you I’ll get back to you on this one! tell us a little more about the project? Home is a pretty huge project actually. What is the reasoning behind having other vocalists – predominantly women – sing It’s an integrated short film, concept album your songs? Is there someone specific and collection of art that all culminates in a you’d like to collaborate with in the future? unique live show experience. The central
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theme is about finding your place in this world, whether it’s what you do, where you live or who you love. It’s about finding out what you are supposed to do with your life and living it. We know that when you are off track in your life that pain and suffering ensues. Certainly that was my experience. So my hope is that the project will actively shift people into an awakened state and get them to realign so that they thrive and truly live life to the full. It’s designed to entertain and move at its simplest level but also to inspire and ignite people to positively change their lives too. In terms of production and development, it’s ready to go. The script is done and has been vetted by some of Hollywood’s top producers. The music is written and largely recorded. Art is being commissioned. There’s a significant business plan in place and we are now just finishing up funding for it. There’s still about a year of production to go before it’s released, hence the reason why Postcards is happening right now. What does the future hold for Gareth Thomas and [debut]? I’ve got my hands full with Postcards and Home. I can see those taking me all the way through to mid 2016 easily. Postcards from Berlin will be released in December this year (2014) and then I will play that live for a few months. Then Home will take over. I can see Home coming out in early 2016 and that one will tour for quite a while if all goes to plan. Aside from that, I am doing some film score work, producing other artists and always writing. Finally, Fourculture wants to know: what are your four favorite things — the four things you couldn’t (or just don’t want to) live without? #1, My daughter Sasha. She’s 6 going on 15 and is the love of my life. #2, A piano for obvious reasons. It’s my meditation. It’s where I lose myself and heal. #3, My own pillow. Comfort matters #4, Mischief. Life’s too short to be good and play by someone else’s rules
N O M M O C E H T R O F ART HOC WELLING COURT AD
T C E J O R P L A R U M
. WATERS C IA IC L E F BY ASHLEY W E R D N A PHS BY PHOTOGRA
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ucked away in the streets of Astoria, Queens NYC is an art project that made its debut in May of 2010. The Ad Hoc Welling Court Mural Project was started at the invitation of the Welling Court community to brighten up their corner of the world and has turned into a must see for locals and tourists alike. Ad Hoc Art sparked the art scene in Brooklyn by opening a gallery in 2006. They are dedicated to showing the work of artists who don’t fit into the “traditional” mold. Street art, pop surrealism, illustration, comic book, tattoo and many forms of underground art, I like to think of that as being art of the common man. When the Welling Court neighborhood came to them, Ad Hoc was happy to bring an event that was well suited for the people who lived and worked there. On June 14th, 2014 the fifth year kicked off with what is now an annual block party. People were encouraged to bring food, drink and whatever else that could be contributed. Something akin to a huge pot luck with fabulous scenery provided by the murals, various cultural experiences, music and dance. There were also art activities given by some of the participating mural artists. The Welling Court Mural Project is always welcoming volunteers and support. Monetary contributions (tax deductible) as well as paint, spray paint, primer and all that goes with the brilliance. If this is in your nature drop them a line at info@ adhocart.org. The exhibit is there - 365 days of the year and is located at Welling Court between 30th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard in Queens, NY. I present to you the Welling Court Mural Project as seen through the eyes of the brilliant photographer Andrew Ashley. Please visit http://adhocart.org/site/ for more information on Ad Hoc and its endeavord. ARTISTS INCLUDE:
Abe Lincoln, Jr. AM Alison Buxton Beau Stanton Billy Mode Brian Life Cake Caleb Neelon Cern Cey Adams Christopher Cardinale Chris RWK Chris Stain Clown Soldier Col Wallnuts CRASH Cycle Dan Witz
Danielle Mastrion Dennis McNett Don Leicht El Kamino Ellis Gallagher Free5 Fumero Garrison Buxton Gilf! Greg Lamarche Hellbent Icy & Sot Jamie Hef Joe Iurato John Breiner John Carr John Fekner Katie Yamasaki
Kimyon Huggins Lady Pink Lmnopi LogikOne Mare139 Mensen Mike Fitzimmons Never ND’A Pablo Power Peat Wollaeger Queen Andrea R. Nicholas Kuszyk Rene Gagnon Royal Kingbee Rubin Russell King Ryan Seslow
SeeOne Sheryo Shok-1 Sinned Skewville Sonni SpazeCraft Subtexture Steven Cogle Thundercut TooFly Veng RWK Vera Times Vexta, Wane COD The Yok Zam Zed & more!
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by ADAM D
If you sing, you’re a singer. If you write songs, you’re a songwriter. You still with me? This is exhausting. So, if you sing AND write songs, you’re a singer/songwriter, right? Wrong. Ha! You fool! I can’t believe you fell for that! I'm sorry. You see, apparently, 'they' decide how to define what music someone plays. Not you and not the artist. David Bowie. Heard of him? Cool. David Bowie sings the songs that he writes, yet he is not a 'singer/songwriter’. Weird. You see, there are a whole bunch of other labels that are vying for the attention of the person with money in their pocket, or at least credit on their app. You also need to know the latest 'thing', so you can say you're deeply, passionately, insanely 'into' it, at least until the second that someone else says so too. Then you have to say it's passé-so very last month that you're 'over' it. Tunecore, Ghostdub, Downwave, Synthchill, chillwave, dubtrip, clap trap, twat monger. The last one is what you are if you peddle any of the other ones. I interviewed Blair Jollands recently. He's a man with a guitar who sings the songs he writes. He also adds other instruments to his stuff as well as sound textures. But he's not allowed to be different. He absolutely positively has to be labelled as 'something'. Actually, I think that would be my favourite label. “What's your favourite music?” “Me? I like something.” “Cool! I like something too!” See how easy it would be to have 'something' in common? What a wonderful world this would be, history, geometry, etceee. I mean, seriously, how the hell should we even have an inkling of what kind of music a 'singer/songwriter' makes? But we do! We know it will be acoustic guitar, possibly, sometimes electric, mostly without a band but not exclusively so. You may specialise in piano, but as long as you don't get any fanciful ideas about full on band76 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE THIRTEEN
accompanied songs, you too can be a singer/songwriter. It's not Suzanne Vega or Jake Bugg or Tori Amos' fault. Just so you know. So where did all this begin? I mean, 'classical' is pretty well understood. But would Mozart have said “Fuck you, I'm nothing like Beethoven. Beethoven's a mug. I make Dubchestra music. I write chillphonies, dude!” Fast forward to some time later, but well before now. We have jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll. All allowed (by me, so that's pretty much the final word on that). Sometime later, someone stopped rolling and simply rocked. Considerably later, rhythm and blues got shortened to r 'n' b, and modernised to R&B, and stopped sounding like Bo Diddley and started sounding a lot like grown men singing with really strained voices about getting to the ends of roads and believing they can fly. They did all of this without waking up. Name me a 'proper' rhythm and blues song that doesn't start with the singer telling you that they woke up this morning. I bet you can't. Ok, I bet you can. But if you can't exaggerate a million times to make a point, when can you? So in order to feel proper pain you have to wake up, preferably in the morning, and notice that something is missing. This is usually your woman who has 'up and left' you, or possibly simply 'gone'. It may even be your shoes, or they may be all you have left. You may have the 'shirt on your back', and it is probably raining. Yet you will have to walk outside because 'the man' will be about to knock on your door (caution, he may already have knocked, necessitating some 'sneaking out the back' and maybe even 'getting in your Cadillac' – assuming your woman hasn't driven off in it).
In modern R&B, you will find the singer hiding in a closet or wishing they didn't miss you anymore. They need to wake up. Next? Pop. Ok, we have pop. Is it short for 'popular music'? If so, can anything be defined as pop when it comes out? How do we know it's popular until it proves to be so? Should there be a 'pop pending' category? “It sounds like it should be popular but we'll see?” What about when other genres have their heyday? Disco was in fact as 'pop' as it got in the mid to late 70's. Yet it steadfastly refused to be anything other than disco. Of course, discos became clubs, so now we have club music. Then again, anything can be played in clubs can't it? People have specialist nights in clubs all over the place. You can go to a club and hear anything, even at a silent disco. So we have some pretty meaningless yet apparently well understood labels. Pop and Club. Here comes another. 'Indie'. Excuse me? That's 'independent music', aka music released on an 'independent label' -music not on a major label. So how the hell can it be a genre? Depeche Modeyes, they get a mention in pretty much every article I write, so get over it. Depeche Mode originally 'shook hands' (never signed) to Mute Records, an independent record label specialising for many years in electronic and synth-based music. So Depeche Mode was indie. Hang on. That label (the word 'indie', not the label they shook hands to join) didn't exist when they started. Some time in the mid 1990's, people started being labelled as 'indie'. Ironically, many of them were on a major record label. And anyway, how can you use the type of organisation a band is signed to as a musical genre? You can't! If you can, we should also have 'major' music. Well done, pointless, desperate label-makers! Happy now? Well, yes, probably, as you helped people make loads of money out of it. 'Join the indie revolution'. Or don't. You see, if we were just allowed to enjoy music without labelling it we might not worry so much about 'fitting in'. I am sure some of you are thinking, “What's the problem? These labels are really helpful. How will I know what I'm buying if I can't see the ingredients, right?” Well, no. Not according to me. I don't need the label 'meat' to know when I'm picking up a chicken-or a part of a chicken-a dead one. I don't go round picking up chickens. I mean, who does? Apart from farmers harvesting eggs. Wait. Are they 'harvested'? Collected, maybe? Ooh. That reminds me. Collections. Compilations if you will. THEY need labels! How can you have a collection of songs that you know the buyer will want to listen to if you can't label them? Well, actually, it was all very simple in the beginning, for in the beginning there was Now, That's What I Call Music. Brilliant! I want some music! I like music! I shall buy that compilation, for it contains what I call 'music'! So you take it home and they've only gone and put Billy Ocean next to The Smiths and you're thinking 'I hate Caribbean Queen...but ooooh, I love 'How Soon Is Now'. But when that finishes you have to listen to Shakin' Stevens. Anyone reading this who doesn't know about Shakin' Stevens, good. Trust me; ignorance is bliss on this one. I'm not going to waste any column inches on him. But he was all over the damn charts in the UK in the early 80s and all over 'music' compilations. So yeah. Leave the crud for people who want it, but split out the good stuff and put it onto genre-specific compilations. You can then buy them and enjoy the good stuff you love without being interrupted by sub-human Elvis impersonators who frankly should know better and anyway just how old is he, exactly? Shouldn't he be in a home with all the other people who think it's 1956? I'm sorry. I said
‘Indie’. Excuse me? That’s ‘independent music’, aka music released on an ‘independent label’ -music not on a major label. So how the hell can it be a genre? I wasn't going to talk about him. When something truly new comes out, surely it's OK to label it then, right? OK, I admit it. Yes. I am talking all over this article about how stupid and pointless labels and genres are, and now I'm only going to go and suggest that we need labels, but hear me out. Hip Hop. Rap. Hip-Hop. Love it. Can't get enough of it. But it doesn't all sound the same, does it? You have Tyler, The Creator. You have Tone Loc. Both of these fine gentlemen 'rap' on their releases. Both of them definitely seem to have a little hop in their hip but they are pretty damn different. I urge you to find any similarities between the fine long playing efforts of 'Loced After Dark' and 'Bastard'. You can't, can you? But they are both 'hip hop'. How can this be? They are as alike as Miley Cyrus (whichever version you like) and Marilyn Manson. So yeah, give me Hip-Hop. You get one label, and you have to figure out the rest. That's how it should be! Put a bit of bloody effort in, you lazy, mollycoddled muthafucka's. Now, I know, I absolutely KNOW that there have been many sub-genre labels thrown at hip hop. But the mutha ship survives and defeats all pretenders. I tell you another label I like. 'Shoegaze'. LOVE it. Music made by people so excruciatingly, painfully awkward they can't bring themselves to look anyone in the eye when they play it. They literally gaze at their shoes. Awesome. Mind you, most of them have exceptionally clean, bell-shaped haircuts. Their salon-washed hair is tilted forwards over their eyes so they have to look down to see where their feet are going. Imagine taking a Lego character and just shifting the plastic hair forward so the front is as far down in front of the face as the back is, erm, at the back. Just go on YouTube and look up 'Ride'. So I don't really know why it wasn't called 'Bellheadcleanhair'. Ok, maybe I have an idea. So there we have it. Labels. There are so very many more, but I only have so little time and make so little point. We need 'em, but we don't need to mess with 'em. It just gets really silly and then we all get really cliquey and then we all start judging each other and ostracising each other just because we all like music. Of course, if you don't like music, you're a loser and should be ostracised. That word comes from an old English custom whereby people who didn't fit in were made to leave town on an Ostrich. I'll end, if I may, with a quick plug. The band I am in, well, it's a duo, but does anyone ever say 'the duo that I'm in'? Anyway, look, the duo that I'm in, Photostat Machine, will release a new album in 2014. We play synths and programme stuff on computers. So now you already know what music we make without me having to spoon feed you a label. That's right. We're a Synthputer band, but I warn you, it's kind of more Future Thump than you'd expect from most Synthputer bands. Look out for our new album. It should be out in May. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go feed my Ostrich.
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BY K ATH Y CR EI G HTO N
What happens when a guy from Brooklyn and a girl from Charlotte, NC, who both love to dance and have a passion for musical theater come together in Los Angeles? Pure creative magic. Today they are the Cherry family â€” Lee, Scarlett and 3-year old son Riff. Their journey has been crazy, amazing,scary, risky, joyful and loving. They are the brains and talent behind Cherry Soda Studios. They are taking pictures and making videos while also recording their own music while being wonderful, loving parents and child.
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ee Cherry is originally from Brooklyn, NY and despite all his travels since then, definitely has that New York edge and work ethic. He’s fearless, articulate and has a dry sense of humor. Lee’s epiphany and discovery of his creative soul came when he was a teenager in South Florida. He said that it was in the teen clubs that he quickly learned that the guys that could dance were the ones who got the girls. So he initially started working on his own moves and was able to catch the attention of a particular young lady who was a ‘real’ dancer. He said the whole relationship was like a “Step Up” movie. She finally convinced him to take professional dance lessons. Later in this conversation, Cherry talked about his first dance teacher. He actually saw her dancing in a cage at the Beastie Boys License To Ill concert. He moved on to taking ballet and then went to the North Carolina School of the Arts for his Senior year in high school. The school was a conservatory and he focused on modern dance there. Upon graduation Lee headed back to his native New York for an Alvin Ailey session. Then it was time to test the waters of actually working as a dancer. He auditioned for a European tour of West Side Story and landed the job. Scarlett discovered her dancing talent much earlier in life. By the the age of 12 she earned a full scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet in New York. She spent two years with the iconic school. At 17, she attended the Manhattan School of Music to study music performance and opera. She only lasted a year there when she also chose to audition for a touring company of West Side Story. This tour was in the U.S. The West Side Story tour Lee had been on ended in Los Angeles where he decided to put down roots. Scarlett was already in the ‘City of Angels’ and was a member of the company of Ragtime at the then, Shubert Theater. It was their mutual friend, Vince, who introduced them on the 4th of July. After twelve years as a couple, they decided to tie the knot, on the same day they met. This Independence Day they will be celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. During these seventeen years both Lee and Scarlett have continued to feed their performance arts appetite. Numerous times, Lee referred to dance as his “gateway drug”. It would be dance that opened his eyes, mind and heart to his passion for and expertise in live performance production. In 2000 one of Scarlett’s Ragtime castmates, Alan, invited her to perform with him at “Club Make-up”. This was a monthly event that combined rock bands and drag
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queens singing live, no lip-syncing, with them. Alan’s drag alter ego was Ms. A Superstar and with Scarlett they performed “Sweet Child of Mine”. To celebrate the performance, Lee put together an after-hours afterparty in his studio. The party was a big hit and all agreed to do another one the following month after the next “Club Make-up”. Another regular underground event in the city was the Choreographers’ Carnival. Lee added afterparties for the Carnivals. For the next year and a half the Cherrys smashed together rock music, dance and drag. Eventually these parties started attracting backing performers from major label artists’ tours. When the Pussycat Dolls hit the scene, they joined these get togethers. Even the big name stars themselves would show up. Christina, Usher and Janet Jackson were among attendees. Lee says “it was a great time. Nobody got hurt. No one went to jail. It was all on the downlow. If you knew about it, you knew about it. I’d hand out maybe four business cards and word traveled from them. No one was posting pictures or videos on the internet. The paparazzi didn’t show up. We had our shoebox full of blackmail if things got really bad. Cops would come, but more to just make sure everyone was safe. When they did come by, there was a code word that signaled us to hide the money. No money — it was just a party. This was before 9/11 so things weren’t police state-ish like they are now. We did eventually bring in security but they were mainly just to let us know if the cops were coming.” This whole thing grew to the point that these parties needed a bigger space. Freedom moved into a 5000 sq. ft spot that had formerly been the Hollywood Athletic Club. What would be the precursor for Zodiac Show would only last three performances in this venue though. The downstairs neighbors called them out and said, “You can’t do this here….but you can do it here” and offered them a new space. The decision to switch from Freedom Party to Zodiac Show came with the realization that people wouldn’t pay to go to a party but would to see a show. Zodiac Show played at the Q Club, the Henry Fonda Music Box, and Avalon. Both the Cherrys describe the whole thing as one of the best times in their creative lives. Each performance was dynamic, fierce and original. There were a total of thirteen unique shows during Zodiac’s tenure. Lee describes himself and his wife as the “Marilyn Munsters” of their family - those normal freaks. Starting with that first Club Make-Up experience they finally found where they fit, “their people”. As they both fondly reminisced about the entire experience, Lee noted that it was all orchestrated by only six people who had very little, if any background in any of it. He says “it was
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kind of the reverse of ‘if I knew then what I know now’. Had I known, I never would have done it. Thankfully ignorance is bliss and so I didn’t even consider that I could go to prison for some of this.” Turning to the current creation going on in the Cherry household, and the launch of Cherry Soda Studios last fall, we talked about Lee’s photography. He initially started taking pictures in earnest on that European tour of West Side Story. He concentrated mainly on scenic images. On his next tour, at the request of cast members, he took photos of them. When he landed in L.A. he turned to the theater community offering his services doing headshots rather than waiting tables to pay the rent. He put out one card and got many calls for that effort. As time has gone on the jobs have gotten bigger and Lee continues to teach himself more about the art to accommodate the requests. He has also branched into directing and film making. Over the past two years he has provided his talents to Sony’s Epic and RCA labels, produced documentary style videos, electronic press kits and live performance music videos. He is working on one of two screenplays right now. Lee has learned the ropes of the current music industry and
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is always working on making new friends which helps add to his repertoire. To date he has worked with artists such as Great Big World, Quadron, Christina Aguilera, Cheryl Lloyd, Pit Bull and Bonnie McKee. One thing that Lee learned is that, although not an instrumentalist, he can “speak musician”. It was why he took the role of executive producer of project the couple decided on to document their road to parenthood when they learned they were pregnant. It was almost immediately that they agreed they needed to come up with some special way to remember this stage of their lives. Scarlett had already released a solo EP so she had been considering a full-length album. This felt like the logical progression. Labor Of Love tells the story of hers and Lee’s lives and the anticipation of becoming first time parents. Over the next eight months, they would get together once a week with one of three different songwriters. Scarlett notes that the writing and recording process flowed effortlessly. “Moving from musical theater to creating your own music is an almost natural evolution. You learn the craft performing other people’s material but then create your own organic, personal songs in your own voice.” In the end, the writers
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provided three songs each and all but one made it onto the record. But the Cherrys didn’t just fill the time waiting for their son to be born, recording Labor Of Love. Of course not. They used a Kickstarter platform to raise funds to bring the album to market. They raised over $42,000. They created album art and promoted the record via social media. They shot behind-the-scenes videos of the recording process and shared those online. In the end, there was this great record that was purchased by many people and a sweet baby boy named Riff. Riff Cherry is already growing into his own creative being. He has plied his talents to guitar and piano and has perfect pitch and rhythm. His parents talked about his skills at rearranging some of his favorite songs lyrically and instrumentally along with making tempo changes. For his third birthday they gifted him with a microphone into which he proceeded to belt “Are you ready to rock?” Mom and Dad are not discouraging him from becoming a songwriter and/or composer-arranger but they will never try
to confine him to one career option. They believe all chidren are special beings who deserve to become their own person. At this time they still aren’t sure whether they want to send him to school or educate him at home. Already his learning experiences far outweigh the average American child. In talking about Scarlett’s upcoming live performance at the “PINK” event for breast cancer research in Vienna, Austria, she mentioned that Riff was coming with them. His father says he travels “like a champ” so this is a boy who has the world as his classroom. Regarding the event, it is being presented by world-renowned body painter Filippo Ioco. PINK Austria takes place July 1, 2014 at the Schlossvilla Miralago Pörtschach and benefits ÖSTERREICHISCHE KREBSHILFE - KÄRNTEN. The event is hosted by Gabriela Zaucher, co-hosted by Tanja Doppelreiter and will feature guest speaker Petra Piber. The Cherrys will also be celebrating their anniversary during this trip. Finally the conversation was brought to a close talking about the things that the Cherrys derive their peace and inspira-
tion from. Scarlett quickly responded with “family”. As for the art or arts that fill those needs, both she and Lee share the love of truly great musical performances, whether a play or concert. “When there is that connection between performers and an audience and everyone is present, if the music really speaks to us, then we will talk about it for weeks or months after.” However, sometimes respite can also come in the form of just binge watching a really good TV show now that they are parents. A break in their hectic lives can be filled by “12 episodes of TV with your wife while the baby is sleeping.” As for that signature question, what art do you suck at that you wish you didn’t? Neither of the couple believe there are any. However, they do admit to something other than an art that they fall short at. Lee wishes he could shoot a decent game of pool and Scarlett wouldn’t mind a better head for numbers. Her husband teases her with the fact that when they first started dating she couldn’t remember his phone number. Today she has moments that she forgets their address.
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BY DA RYA TEESE W ELL
was soaking in the tub at the Holiday inn in San Francisco on Kearny Street. I had just finished shaving my legs, chest, arms and pubic area. I also took this opportunity to insert a butt plug. I had flown up here and checked into the hotel for one reason: to have sex with a guy I had met in a chat room on America Online. His name was Charles, he was a lawyer, and he had a serious thing for me and the pictures I posted in my online profile. We had chatted via steamy instant messages and finally, by phone and he kept saying that he’d fly me up for a night in a hotel and “take care of me”. Finally he said: “Darya… pick a weekend and come up. I’ll take care of you. I’ll put you up in the Holiday Inn near Chinatown”. The process seemed complex on its face, but it went smoothly and simply. I told my wife I was working on a German rock video for cash. Charles mailed me cash for the flights in my boy name, along with an imprint of his American Express card to show the clerk at check-in, since I would arrive first. On the day I left, I went over to see Bev and Brandi who helped make sure I didn’t have hair on my back. Bev was using some gadget that pulled the hairs out mechanically. It wasn’t painless. I was leaving their apartment to catch the two-o’clock Southwest to SFO from Burbank. “Fucking a guy for money, huh? Our little girl is growing up,” Brandi said. She was drinking a martini at eleven a.m., her normal late-morning choice. “You packed an enema, right?” Bev asked. “It’s just common courtesy,” She was right. It’s the little things. I had packed a lot of stuff for the trip, more than I needed, but I am not the world’s most decisive person. My online photos sold me as a big, rideable, Ginger tranny with a dark red cupid-bow of a mouth and a fondness for garters, stockings and thigh high boots. I believed in truth in advertising. I was flying up in my male mode; t-shirt,
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jeans and dirty Nikes. I had one checked bag full of boots, shoes, clothes, sex toys and a coat, and a carry-on filled with breast forms, makeup and toiletries plus a back up wig and outfit in case they lost my bag. Preparation is the sign of a pro, whose ranks I would be joining tonight. When my carry-on came into view on the x-ray, I overheard one TSA agent tell the other, “Someone has a little secret”. I said nothing, but the response, in my head, was simply, “A girl’s gotta eat”. Charles had given me money for the cab ride from San Francisco Airport to downtown. The check-in got a little tense for a moment. The officious young man at the desk didn’t accept the photocopy of Charles’ American Express Card. The young man finally agreed to call Charles on his cell phone, which I had a feeling irritated both of them. Nonetheless, I now had a lovely room on the eighth floor looking out over the city. Charles was supposed to come by around 8:30, so I got busy. The bath was heavenly. I’ve always had mixed emotions about buttplugs. There is something I find oddly claustrophobic about using them, but tonight it was preparing me for the main event. I showered off loose hair and let the soft San Francisco air breeze into the room to dry me off. I applied moisturizer all over and shaved any vagrant hairs off, especially around my nipples. The enema had done its work and my southern portion was clear and ready to receive. My makeup was simple then. I was slowly mastering the art of seductive illusion. My go-to base had been taught to me by Jim Bridges, the old master. I blended two Kryolan Dermacolor tattoo covers to match my skin tone and mask what was my then pre-laser beard, set it with powder, and then blended with a water-based liquid foundation. I used a light golden green color on my eyelids, then a dark brown shadow in the crease. I used dark brown liquid liner along the edge of the top lid, and another dark brown pencil along the bottom lid below
the eye. Charles was paying so he deserved sex-kitten me in false lashes. I applied some fairly natural looking ones. Brows and cheeks were next. I waited on lipstick until I had an ETA on Charles. I hate it when lipstick bleeds on the edges. I chose my go-to red wig after putting on a wig cap. It had bangs and layered sides. I’d primp it more later. I put on my black quick-untie panties, a patent garter belt and then pulled up and snapped on the lace-top black stockings over my freshly shaven legs. I had some new breast forms with fairly realistic nipples, and a see through bra that fit them. The effect was pretty convincing for a moment or two. I hadn’t eaten much, so my corset would be pretty effective at narrowing my waist. I sucked in and began the tighten, double-tighten routine I had gotten so good at. I stepped in the black pumps I’d brought and stepped in front of the full length mirror. I decided that I would definitely fuck me and that was the look I wanted. The sky was darkening and fog was rolling in. Charles said he was at a dinner and delayed. He’d be there before ten. I watched local news while applying a double coat of brownish-red “Vixen” on my nails. The city was coming to life below. I could hear traffic and smelled an occasional garlicky whiff of something Chinese. I slipped into a short, snug, tight skirt and a top that would slip off easily. There was no balcony, so I smoked a long cigarette by the window. Waiting. I clipped on my favorite hoop earrings and tied on my velvet choker. I painted my lips with my favorite MAC color of the day, deep burgundy “Carnal”, after some wine colored pencil outlining. I sipped Diet Coke through a straw as the ten o’clock news came on. Ten minutes later there was a knock at the door. I looked through the peephole and saw a tall white haired man. I opened the door. He looked down the hall and stepped in. He smelled like he’d had some expensive white wine and fish for dinner. “Hi, Darya.” I took his hand. “Come in.”
“I heard the door close. I had just turned my first trick in almost exactly twenty minutes. The envelope on the desk contained seven $100 bills, which we sorely needed. A girl’s gotta eat.” “You look beautiful,” he said. He took an envelope from his coat and put it on the desk in the room. “For you…” he said. He put his arm around my waist and kissed me deeply. He was a good kisser. “God, I’ve wanted you…” he continued. His hands were already up my skirt and his hand was on my candy. I took my top off. He liked my tits, even though he knew they were fake. “I could buy you some real ones baby. Would you like that?” I considered his offer while I unzipped his pants and freed what was already struggling to get out. “Wow,” I said to myself. He was a monster. I swallowed him and I heard him suck in a deep breath. He was still in his white shirt and lawyer jacket, pants around his ankles, laying on the California King. He’d managed to slip off his Bruno Magli loafers. After I worked him for a few minutes, it was obvious what he wanted next. I straddled him after applying lube on both of us. It took a minute or so, but I finally got him inside me. I didn’t even think about a condom. Stupid. Dear God, he was huge but he was paying for this, wasn’t he? He was moaning as I moved up and down. He called out my name, which felt good somehow. After a minute or two, he pulled out suddenly and began to finish himself off, which he accomplished quickly. “Now you,” he said. I was pretty stimulated too and managed to climax for him after a few minutes of him encouraging me. I must say, this wasn’t what I’d pictured, but the customer… “You’re beautiful, Darya,” he said, then got up, zipped up his pants and went to the mirror. He wiped my lipstick off his face. He came over to where I lay on the bed and gave me a short kiss. “Gotta go. Thanks.” I heard the door close. I had just turned my first trick in almost exactly twenty min-
utes. The envelope on the desk contained seven $100 bills which we sorely needed. A girl’s gotta eat. I cleaned up in the sink, repaired my makeup, and straightened my wig. I was hungry. I slipped into a knee length denim skirt, my knee boots, and the same top as before. I threw my wallet, room key, cigarettes, lighter, and phone into my counterfeit Prada purse and sprayed on some “Allure”. I slipped into my huge, plush faux Leopard car coat and put up the hood. An older man in the elevator tried hard not to look at me, especially when I smiled at him. It was late, almost eleven. I slipped out of the lobby into the cold Chinatown fog; a San Francisco evening in July. I needed Wor Wonton soup. I slipped on my short leather gloves and then lit a cigarette. The streets were almost empty but I knew a few places were open until midnight. I called Bev and Brandi. I knew they’d be up. Bev answered, “Hey, Slut!” “Hi, Bev.” “It’s Darya!” I heard her yell. “Put her on speaker!” Brandi yelled back. “What happened? How much did you get?” “Seven hundred bucks. What does that mean?” “It means you’re a whore!!” Bev said. They both laughed. So did I. Grant Palace is one of those old Chinatown restaurants that smells vaguely like pine disinfectant and old cabbage. There was one youngish couple in the restaurant when I arrived. They were arguing about music. I crossed to the other side of the place and slipped into a booth. The waiter came by and put the menu down. I had a feeling he’d seen stranger people than me in here before. “Tea?” he asked. “Oolong?” I answered. He nodded and stepped away. I felt very alive at that second, staring at the empty splendor of Grant Avenue. I imagined Nancy Kwan singing “I Enjoy Being a Girl”. I ordered a large bowl of Wor Wonton soup and a plate of steamed dumplings. The smoky Oolong tasted wonderful. My lipstick stained the cup. A girl’s gotta eat.
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world is watching
BY SER EN A BUTLER
Straight out of George Orwell’s 1984, big brother is certainly watching Japan Soul’s every move. The Brooklyn-based Art-Funk collective (Jason Paul (vocals, guitars, bass, programming) , DaVe Lipp (saxophones, bass, guitar, various eclectic instruments), Dave Rozner (percussion, arrangements, guitars), Tyler Graham (drums), and Matt McMurry (synths) have been making noise not just in their Brooklyn music scene but also in many blogs across the world since last year’s release of “Hey Ya Hey” grabbed the attention of MTV and their viewing contingent by winning MTVU’s Freshmen. This year has brought another step towards greatness as April saw the release of their new album Plastic Soul which was premiered on Fourculture in April to the excitement of many and many more to come. With a full blown indie approach to getting their name out, the boys of Japan Soul are setting an example for many more indie bands in the world to follow closely. Before their summer heats up even more, we had the chance to speak with Jason Paul and DaVe Lipp to dig into their creative/band lives as deeply as the National Security Agency/Central Security Service could ever imagine. It’s safe to say that in a matter of time the whole world will be watching Japan Soul.
How did you all get together and decide to form Japan Soul? Having that musical background that you all have was it an easy connection just to say “Hey, let’s start a band”? DAVE: We go back to the early 2000s. Jason was in a band called Music for Girls and I lived on Ludlow Street and had no friends. My college roommate knew all these bands which is how I met the Vitamen and ended up playing on their last album. I would go to this bar called Luna Lounge and I would see Jason’s band play with The Vitamen. We kind of knew each other from way back when but I don’t think we met at that time. The Vitamen broke up and I ended up joining Jason’s band. JASON: Music for Girls also broke up maybe a little after the Vitamen broke up, but I was still hot to do music. We took in all the Vitamen players and all the Vitamen came to the old Japan Seoul band. DAVE: It was Jason leading the Vitamen plus 1 or 2 other people. JASON: Tris McCall, he’s like a New Jersey legend kind of person, is a great keyboard player. It was like a super group, an unknown super group. People would come to the shows, probably because the Vitamen were so popular back then. DAVE: And that was the first incarnation of Japan Seoul spelled like Seoul, South Korea. Back then there was like, what, 20 people in that band? JASON: Our first show…it wasn’t 20 but there must have been 10 people on stage that first show. Not everybody lasted. They didn’t get kicked out. They just disappeared. The band ended up being a 6 piece 90 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE THIRTEEN
by the time we put out that record. DAVE: We played a few gigs then kind of ended with everyone kind of going our separate ways. JASON: I got it in my head to travel the globe, and the preparation for that left me putting music on hiatus for several years actually. From that incarnation of Japan Seoul, I’ve noticed this bit of a genre change. You’re pulling towards this electro funk feel that you’ve called “Art Funk”. What defines that sound and what inspired you to head in that direction from the prior incarnation of the band? JASON: Yeah, I came up with that last week. I was trying to find what music I liked. I was like, it’s art funk. That’s what it is. I think that the prior band was a band where I would write really simple 2 or 3 chord songs, write the melodies and maybe play rhythm guitar. Then I would give it to the band and these guys would make the song. It was very much a live thing. We actually recorded that album live. DAVE: It was also a very diverse group of musicians that had more classically trained musical knowledge. They went to music school pretty much. JASON: Some of them did and some just had deep classic rock love. There was some soul in there too. They love soul. I probably always wanted a more polished sound or a more sophisti-funk/art funk kind of thing. That’s probably what I always wanted to do. I always wanted to go there, but that band was very much democracy I would say.
DAVE: I think being a 3 piece, putting the album together. Jason comes in with the songs, then Dave Rozner and I would start throwing things in there. The one good thing about us 3 working together is there is really no ego. It’s about the song. We’d take Jason’s idea and not turn it into something else but add things to it. Some things work, some things didn’t work. Jason: We took our sweet time because we got where we wanted to get to because… Dave: We had no deadline! So, Plastic Utopia is the first album of this incarnation of Japan Soul. I understand that for the beginning the process you started writing singles at first. What made you say, “Well, let’s market this as an album”? Jason: I think because I hadn’t written too many songs. I took a trip and my head was filled with traveling things. I probably read about 30 books on the trip and I didn’t even have the need to write songs. I kind of wanted to do music, I was playing in bands. I was playing bass with Dave Rozner actually. I got the thirst back when I was seeing how much fun that was being the guy in the back watching the lead guy, Kent Odessa,
having a great time. I was like “Oh man! I got to start doing this again!” I think around Occupy Wall Street, I wrote. Maybe that was going around in my head… so that kind of teased out Plastic Utopia. Melodies would sort of come in the shower. I wish they came all the time but that’s not really the case. I sort of went with it and started producing it on my iPhone. I called up Rozner and we went to his house and sort of started putting it together. Then we were like, we need DaVe Lipp! We just really put together the song “Plastic Utopia” first and it was a very frequent process. That kind of just got my head going to thinking about writing songs again. That was the springboard. That song is special in that way I guess. Dave: Also we started with putting out a few single. As we got a few more songs, it then turned into an EP. For me, it was like there’s a lot of bands that come and go. You put out a song and it’s like “OK, what else you have?” People get very bored of a single or you put out an EP and this has wet my appetite “when does the album come out?” It would morph as we kept writing the songs. It made sense to put it all into an album but release singles slowly, that way we
could build the brand and get our name out there. When we put the album out, people would be like “I’ve heard the songs, I’ve been waiting for this!” rather than “wait, who are you?” It’s a lot easier to release singles now. I really feel like music has evolved back to the 1950’s singles. People don’t have to buy albums anymore. They can take the two or three singles they love off an album, and just buy that on iTunes. Jason: Although we want people to buy this, this album feels like it should be taken as a whole. Dave: All the themes going on, it fits very well together. It reminds me of a great jazz album and you hear one song that really strikes a nerve, and you need to hear the rest of the songs on the album in the context to really understand where the artist’s head was at. Jason: That’s a good point. That album is a product of those two years. We took one song from our previous incarnation and completely redid it and rewrote it. Everything is really of this last time span. We do have a lot of songs. We could have pulled out some oldies that never got produced.
Regarding the creation of the “Hey Ya Hey” video, how did the George Orwell 1984 idea come in as the concept? JASON: That video just came as we started to accumulate songs where there was some sort of concept. I was trying to think of what this whole thing was together. I started thinking, “Are we living in an alternate universe?” and I sort of gave him (director Christopher Arcella) that rough idea. He’s actually published a book that seems like an extension of the world he created in “Hey Ya Hey.” It’s a novel called Deviations and he’s almost pulling from his own stuff. He brought his stuff together with our stuff and it clicked. DAVE: We didn’t even give him too much direction. The funny thing is that we met with them and discussed some of the ideas and he said, “Well, I’m going to Paris to visit my girlfriend. Do you mind if I film it there?” OK! That sounds awesome, and low and behold he comes back with that awesome video. How does it feel to know that your video has been played on a station that has pushed such stars as Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna? And how what does it take for an indie band like you to get noticed by MTV? DAVE: You have to have a plan. You can’t just drop an album and expect people to review it. The smart way to do it is to put a song out and contact a bunch of blogs. Get people, smaller blogs, or your friends, or anyone to talk about you and have them write their honest opinion of you and get your name out. You have to treat your band as a brand. JASON: We hired a promotion company to get the video some circulation. When the promo company saw the video, they were overly enthusiastic and our contract was fairly short. They really wanted to see this go somewhere. We didn’t hit MTVU till well after the campaign was over. It was very nice of them to just stick with it. Now, onto live shows. Some may find it difficult to translate the “art-funk” sound you create into a live show. How do you circumvent having to bring in a lot of electronic equipment? JASON: We have actually brought in two members. Dave Rozner is taking on a producer roll and isn’t going to be in the live band but DaVe and I really have to play this live. We brought in two really great musicians. On drums we brought in Tyler Graham and on synths we brought in Matt McMurry. We’ve been practicing our buns off for the last couple months. If you look at the computer audio file of how many tracks, 92 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE THIRTEEN
some tracks are over 100 tracks to get this sound and here we are, 4 guys doing it. DaVe and I are switching instruments like crazy. Sometimes DaVe will be playing guitar, sax, guitar, I’ll be singing playing guitar, bass. DAVE: We switch instruments during songs. It’s very visually entertaining. JASON: It’s pretty wild. The fact that we’re pulling it off at least in practice and hopefully we pull it off live. We will. It’s fun. It’s hard. It’s challenging. DAVE: It’s fun! I actually really enjoy doing that. How many bands do you see changing instruments during songs? There’s probably a reason for that but we’re going to ignore it. Looking at the cover of Plastic Utopia, in the bottom corner is the logo for the grass roots campaign that you’ve started entitled “Buy Music Love Artists” Can you tell us what really got you fired up to start a campaign? What are your plans to expand the campaign? JASON: I’ll try to condense it because it goes back pretty far. On the internet I’ve been following David Lowery (Camper van Beethoven). I read David Byrne’s How Music Works and a really great book called Freeloading by Chris Ruen. A lot of those groups are anti-piracy. I probably came of age in the year 2000 and when the floodgates of Napster opened, that was discovery. There was all this music I would have never gotten to listen to because of it, but on the flipside it has damaged the lively hood of musicians. As a musician I was trying to reconcile that. I love access to all music, but there is something not working about this. I recently got into streaming. I love streaming too, but there’s just pennies going to artists. We can see it on our own returns. We’ve only made pennies and we’ve probably had several thousand people listen to our music. It’s interesting when you think about how much money you put into making it and how much time. DAVE: You don’t realize it, until you actually do it. JASON: So it occurred to me, there are a lot of people like David Lowery and David Byrne. Their solution is to go after the big corporate people, like YouTube is taking money. It’s probably true but YouTube is also awesome. Our thing with Buy Music Love Artists is that it’s really the fans. If you love music, you should buy it. Go to Spotify and stream but when you love something you got to double down and buy it. It’s a conscious choice. There’s no way to rescue music unless you buy it. That’s the core of that idea. So, my wife and I have a design com-
pany and it’s going to be one of our special projects. To launch that, we’re going to launch a website. Really the campaign is an artist grassroots campaign. Put this on your posters, on your album covers, put the logo on t-shirts, whatever it takes to make people aware that if you love music, you should buy it. It took me awhile to come around to that point of view actually. That’s why I think me doing something like this is quite interesting. DAVE: The way music is going now, it’s like it’s going from ownership to renting. How do you get people to buy into the artists? If I had the answer to that we’d be able to solve all this. JASON: I guess with the Buy Music Love Artists campaign they’re finding that what’s being done is not enough. I’ve made a personal commitment to buy local artists. If an artist doesn’t have a vinyl out, I will buy their music via Bandcamp. It’s almost like we need to write a pledge for the BMLA “do your Spotify, do your streaming, but buy something too!” How do you feel that an indie band can gain notoriety without use of such applications (Spotify, Pandora) if they are taken away through these legal actions that some artists are perusing? JASON: I don’t know. This is why I say “buy music love artists” because we kind of need those channels. DAVE: Playing live. This is the only thing you can’t stream but it goes back to the experience. That’s something we’re actually trying to figure out ourselves because we’re going to start playing live. I guess talk to us in a few months and we can tell you if we’re selling more albums. It’s very much about blogs and playing live. The classic strategy of an indie artist that has no audience is to play with bands that do have a fan base and hope they get turned on to your band. There are certain things about music that will never change as much as the industry is changing. You have to play live if you want to build an audience and hopefully sell some albums. Even just playing local and building a following in your local scene. Since you guys are Brooklyn based, you have a bit of a unity amongst the Brooklyn music scene. What is it about Brooklyn that seems to bring musicians together? DAVE: Lindsborg and Greenpoint have become a mecca for musicians to experiment. I guess it’s kind of cool to become a Brooklyn band nowadays. It has attracted a lot of good musicians from all over the country, like established musicians to discover themselves or artists to find like-minded
There’s people like Michael Harren and this group Little Big who I wouldn’t have known without Plus Heart Star. There’s a hidden layer of Plus Heart Star where we exchange information, like Google+, but that’s behind the scenes. It has been interesting for me Speaking of unification among artists, to talk to other artists who want to get to the you, Jason, have joined up with the web same place. zine Plus Heart Star in order to spread the word about art, culture, and even Since it’s been roughly two years since eateries you all love in Brooklyn. How you all have started this current version of Japan Soul and you’ve already been did you get involved with that? JASON: Melissa Hsiung started that. played on MTV and are picking up some She was a founding member of Music for steam, what does the future hold for Girls and I actually knew her before that. Japan Soul? JASON: We have so much more music We used to work together and then we were friends and a lot of people we know to release and we didn’t expect this project circulate around that. She’s always doing to take 2 years. We probably wrote the last interesting projects and has this ability to song of the album about a year ago. Now get people to want to jump on board when- here we are a year later just now having ever she does something. That was a proj- released the album. We want to release ect she did and I was like, “Sure, let’s start singles. But we have different music direcblogging about music.” I wouldn’t know Sy tions we want to explore, maybe more Art from Naked Highway if it wasn’t for the Plus Funk. You may see some singles from us Heart Star Group. Tyler, who just joined up pretty soon. DAVE: My idea is to play live shows, with us, was in some bands she was in. players to create all sorts of crazy new music without having a label or having venues to play. It has created an awesome atmosphere of great musicians and musicianship. It’s easy to take it for granted.
build an audience and maybe release a couple singles, an EP. With the new members, we all are brimming with ideas. JASON: The new members are not just in the live band. Japan Soul is all about collaborators. If you’re going to put the time in we’re going to expect your ideas and we’re all going to work together and the new songs are going to be an expression of that. If you guys could have any classic film or television car, what car would you own? JASON: The De Lorean from Back to the Future. DAVE: Kitt from Knight Rider. Finally, Fourculture wants to know: what are your four favorite things — the four things you couldn’t (or just don’t want to) live without? JASON: Guitar, Coconut, record player with records, and electricity. DAVE: On the Road by Jack Kerouac (Book), Jacque Torres chocolate, Momofuku pork buns, iPad (if there is access to wifi)
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BY FELI CI A C WATERS
"The realm of consciousness is much vaster than thought can grasp. When you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of thought and see clearly that the thinker is not who you are." — ECKHART TOLLE
As the world becomes a smaller village, die hard habits, beliefs, and ways of understanding are slow to change. We have been subconsciously trained most of our lives to do things in a certain way; experiencing music is one. It’s hard to describe an artist or a band without automatically putting labels all over them. There are those rare moments in life when you put something new on, expecting it to be one thing and as you listen to it takes you out of your thoughts and sets your thinking onto a new path. This was my experience when I heard Eric Michot’s solo project, Mr Kito, for the first time. You hear the music and it dares you to actually listen. There is no label, no 140 characters or short snappy post driving his sound. It is unique and allows the listener to take their own journey. To me, this is a gift. I have been drawn back to his latest work, the EP Where Are the Lizards? countless times since I first wrote about it. The thing that keeps drawing me back is that this sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before. I’ve talked to friends about it and am constantly forced out of myself to try and describe it. You actually have to hear it for yourself and allow him to be the conduit for your own personal musical journey. When I was given the chance to ask Eric a few questions, I was completely excited. What I believe I have discovered is that he creates these vignettes by allowing himself to be open to his own life experiences, spiritual teachers and musical influences; taking all of it in, stepping out of himself and forming a new musical reality. While this may seem pretty heavy or new-agey, in the end it’s all about the sound, the wonderful, beautiful sound. Come and step out of your consciousness and take the journey as well.
Cape Town is a remarkable place. A beautiful city located between crisp oceans and a majestic Table Mountain, where a large collection of people are found enjoying varied life’s styles, sharing interesting and peculiar aspects of their culture. To me, it feels like a human Noah’s ark at the tip of the African continent; a smorgasbord of many different species roaming the streets and living together. I am inspired by this diversity. My EP Where Are the Lizards? responds to my experience of this reality by discretely asking questions to provoke Who would you name as some of your reflection and awareness, not necessarily any answers. biggest influences? Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Serge Gainsbourg and The Velvet Under- Listening to your body of work, you have ground are just a few of my musical influ- such a recognizable sound without the ences. At the same time, I acknowledge songs being cookie cutter or formuthat everything I ever heard influences my laic. Did that come organically or was it work, my taste, how I interpret and perceive something you intended? Thank you. My sound has emerged music to be as a whole. Consciously and organically I suppose. I do not strategize unconsciously. Regarding life influences, all Spiritual around the creative process or put much Teachers who walked this earth and their mind to it. If anything, I am simply aware of teachings are undoubtedly solid founda- what I like and build on it. My music tends to be representative of where I was at, at tions in the way I relate to reality. Naming modern day’s accessible ex- the time of the recording. A slice of time in amples perhaps, Eckhart Tolle, Maxwell Maltz, Napoleon Hill and many more are themselves providers of great insights... I’ve done some looking around the interwebs and there isn’t much to find about you. I’d like to talk a bit about your early years. What led you to music? Music has pretty much always been part of my life. My late father was a rather skilled guitar player amongst other things so I was exposed to the art of music from an early age. Later as a teenager, it became a personal interest. I collected vinyls, explored all kinds of musical genres, and learned to play guitar, bass and drums.
sound produced for myself and loved ones. As more and more people are listening, following and enjoying what I have to share, I spend more time and energy refining what I create. I naturally wish to present a better product! Can you describe your creative process? Where do you get most of your inspiration from? My inspiration comes from life experience and the present moment. So how do I create music? I make myself available to what IS…that is my creative process! I believe that the ability to gain perspective on life’s events allows oneself to be free from identification, supports enjoyment and living a fulfilled life. Creativity is flowing naturally and effortlessly providing that we make ourselves available to it. Everyone has access to an ongoing and endless source of ideas. Even though our identified self would love to take credit for it, Art such as Music per example is expressed through us, for us. We are channeling and expressing something that IS already. I have come to really enjoy the process more and more as I witness the birth and
With 7 albums under your belt, you’ve no doubt grown as an artist. How has Mr Kito changed since the first release to now? How would you describe yourself as an artist today? My music is about self discovery, enabling me to appreciate deeply that I am more than what I think I am (and so is everyone else for that matter). I grow through the act of creating music as a person and an artist! In the past, I would center myself, get into “the creative zone”, press record and see what happened. I was without much direction or intent. Music just seemed to flow through me. Presently the process of creation is different. I am now at a point where my commitment in honoring “the State of Presence” through music is always on and consciously channeled. I feel that I consciously serve the Cause I am committed to in reverence of Acceptance and Awareness. If you are looking for a label to describe me as a musician, I suppose I could be considered an intuitive artist, with some conscious direction thrown in. That being said, I believe labels should be avoided, to limit identification of self… You’ve moved from France to Cape Town. How much of an influence does living there have on your newest work Where Are the Lizards? ISSUE THIRTEEN
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materialization of an idea, shaped and I play bass guitar and have the privilege transformed into sound. I absolutely love it to share the stage with the very talented Simon Van Gend on guitar/ vocals and Ross when a song finds me… Campbell on drums. We are currently proYou’ve received so many write ups from moting our 4th album Blinking and BreathInternational press, but not as much ing produced by the Australian producer here in the US. Is it important for you to Ian Pritchett (Angus and Julia Stone/ The Beautiful Girls). In fact, Simon will be touring ‘break out’ here? The US is an amazing place! Ameri- in the US in September for some solo gigs. cans are wonderful people; of this I am well Look him up, you won’t be disappointed, aware since I am married to one. I would Simon writes beautiful lyrics. be honored to be recognized and appreciated in your American homes too. Who Who’s in heavy rotation right now on wouldn’t? It is the next step in my profes- your iPod? A selection of self-hypnosis mp3s and sional journey and featuring in Fourculture Magazine is certainly a great opportunity to the demo songs of my forthcoming new aldo so! I feel humbled and grateful for the bum, due for release soon! opportunity to share what I do through your platform with others in America. I would like What are your thoughts on streaming to thank you as well as everyone who is services, like Spotify, for the independent artist? reading this interview. In my opinion, streaming services are What has been the greatest reaction to useful platforms allowing people to downyour music so far? load content and effortlessly enable access I find it difficult to apply a ‘scale’ that to someone’s work. It is true that indepenevaluates the reactions of others. I feel dent artists perhaps shouldn’t expect imthat all reactions are unique and valuable mediate miracles and if you can get over because everything we experience is a re- the royalties split, you are in for a treat! On flection of who we are. That being said, my this note, I personally prefer using Bandexperience of the reactions of others to my camp because one out of every ten sales is music is limited since I tend to keep to my- your fee, which I think is pretty fair. ITunes self and not go out much. I probably missed is evidently a good platform too, being convenient and popular. Spotify, well it’s Spothe greatest reaction! (Laughing) tify. Perhaps ask Thom Yorke for his take? Do you have touring plans to support Sorry I couldn’t resist. Seriously, streaming Where Are the Lizards? What would a services are like life. It’s what you make of it. Mr Kito performance be like? No touring plans are in the pipeline for If I could give you a Tiffany box with the this EP. To tour, I would have to set up a future for you inside, what would you band first, since MR KITO is a solo, studio want in that box? I basically wish for what life has to offer, based project at this point in time. Considering that live performances are powerful a gift always perfectly suited to my needs marketing tools, I may change my mind in which positively supports my growth in bethe future and decide to go this route. One coming a decent human being and artist. day maybe… At the moment, I am pretty content with Fourculture would love to know your favorite four things. What four things can the current set up. I get to participate in a substantial you not live without? They can be anyamount of live performances through my thing. involvement with an indie folk rock trio, “SiMy pillow, electric toothbrush, juicer and mon and The band a Part”. In this project, my ego!
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In part one I was hired by the Illuminati—the world’s most surreptitious organization — to speak at its inaugural member drive in Austria. Attempting to draw a younger crowd, I was hired instead of Sven Klammer, once the most popular speaker in Austria who had lost his appeal due to his old age. I was put in the care of twin bodyguards, Togar and Fabian Retenwender. They were murdered in their hotel room while I was cavorting in Pfarrplatz, one of the area’s nightlife hot spots. Before I could have any fun, two policewomen abducted me and brought me to a police station, saying I was in grave danger. By the way, as I mentioned atop part one, reading this might put you in danger due to its sensitive subject, one that you may not be able to deny. “The Retenwender twins were poisoned,” said Amelie, the lovelier of the two policewomen. Her doting face enveloped my attention. “Both of the men are dead.” “Must have been a local brew,” I said, smiling. “You find the death of two humans amusing?” said a deep voice from behind Amelie. A tall, stringent man in plain clothes, at least as plain as most Austrian men dressed—a dark woolen suit, white cotton shirt and conservative silk tie, with polished shoes that shone from the room’s florescent lights—stepped in front of Amelie and looked at me forebodingly. “Only in a comedic way,” I said, nervously. “I am inspector Fuchs.” “Don’t tell me, they call you The Fox?” “It’s my name,” he said. “I know,” I said. “Fuchs means fox in English and a fox is a crafty mammal predator, a solo hunter. You must be a brilliant inspector cracking many cases.” “Inspector Fuchs is with Interpol,” said Amelie. “Then I guess not,” I said, stepping back. “We know you did not kill the twins,” Fuchs said, “we think we know the murderer and we think you were to be killed next. But you left the hotel. Fortunately for you,
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we have been on your tail and we followed you to Pfarrplatz.” Interpol knew everything and denied everything it knew at the same time, according to Fuchs. The global police force had an informant inside the Illuminati but denied it because Interpol denied Illuminati existed. “So I guess you deny tailing me,” I said, “and you deny knowing I am in Austria to work for an organization you deny?” “Exactly,” Fuchs said. “I don’t even know what I just said, no less deny it.” Fuchs wouldn’t reveal the name of the informant or the suspected murderer of the twins. He did, however, take me into an interrogation room to disclose a plan he said he would deny creating, as well as he would deny that it required my cooperation. “So you deny this is an operation to raid the Illuminati event?” “Of course I deny it,” Fuchs said. I had to deny, of course, that I would participate in a plan I denied to know, for an event we all denied would take place … and so on and so forth. Before I left the station I approached Amelie and said, “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever denied seeing.” Amadeus Stumpf, the residing secretary of the Illuminati who hired me, asked about the twins when I arrived at the archaic bunker beneath the surface of the abandoned
mansion in Klagenfurt, which was Illuminati headquarters. “Dead,” I said, smiling. There was a beat and then Stumpf laughed loudly and long strands of thick, white liquid streamed from either side of his mouth. “You are so funny, mein herr,” he said and then showed me my dressing room. It was dank and small and it had a large plate of catered food, a mirror and hygienic products, including, for some reasons, Durex tropical flavored condoms. I thought of Amelie. “You haff an hour,” said Stumpf in his thick Carpathian accent. “The crowd is just arriving now, slowly. He left and came back in an hour. There was a knock on the door, I opened it and saw Stumpf. “Why didn’t you just turn yourself into a vapor and float through the crack in the bottom of the door?” I said. He laughed, releasing more ugly thick, white liquid and said, “I know already that you will be a hit.” I put some condoms in my pocket and followed Stumpf down the corridor to the foot of a winding stairway of concrete and cobwebs. We walked slowly upward and all I could think about was Fuch’s plan, which he and I and Amelie discussed with inexorable detail before I left the police station. When we reached the top of the stairs we were in a backstage area, with all the familiar paraphernalia. The huge footlights at the edge of the stage reflected behind a thick velvet curtain. I forgot about all the danger. The unique atmosphere in which every performer thrives inebriated me. I heard the mumbling of the audience and my heart pounded with excitement. Then there were sounds of a full orchestra and a voice introduced me. There was a thunder of applause, clamorous shouts and the raucous cries of a hungry audience. I stepped lively onto the long, shiny stage where I was blinded by the footlights. I took bows and
PART TWO By Frank Cotolo
waved, then the audience became silent. I took the microphone off of its stand. “What a great looking crowd, and I say that not knowing any details of your bodies. [LAUGHS] It’s great to be here at the Conspiracy Convention Center. [LAUGHS]. This is the theater where Illuminati wanted to assassinate President Kennedy but no one was sure Lee Harvey Oswald could hit a target so close to him. [LAUGHS]. It was a responsive audience, fueling my performance with every round of laughter. I was invigorated, exalted, elated … and then I was shot. As I fell to the stage grasping my left shoulder, where I was hit, I shouted into the mic: “Hey, heckling would have been enough!” [LAUGHS] Then, looking up I saw an old man holding a 45-caliber Colt Peacemaker. He looked to be preparing a more lethal shot as I began to drag my body stage right. He aimed and screamed in a thick German accent, “You will die for taking Sven Klammer’s job!” [LAUGHS] It was Sven Klammer and as he struggled to squeeze shot two from the bulky handgun another shot rang out, hitting Sven, who was hurled into the footlights by the force of the shot. As his body went up in flames the audience applauded and offered a standing ovation. Stumpf had shot Sven in the back of the head. Suddenly Amelie was by my side. She covered my shoulder wound, bent forward and kissed my brow. “Klammer killed the twins to get to you,” she said. I smiled and passed out. When I awoke a doctor at the police station was treating me. Fuchs was talking with Stumpf. “That’s right,” Stumpf said, suddenly without the Bela Lugosi accent, “I am the informant.” He explained that it was Sven Klammer Interpol was after all along. The famous lecturer was a Nazi war criminal “much younger than he looked.” Sven was ninety-nine, maybe older. What about the Illuminati?
Interpol used Illuminati as a façade, trying to incite Sven to violence so they would have a reason to kill him. It never worked until someone thought of hiring me, who they hoped would put Sven over the edge by crushing his ego. “You used me,” I said. “And the poor twins.” “Absolutely,” said Fuchs. “But you got lucky.” “And we deny it all,” said Stumpf. “So sometimes things you deny are true?” “That’s what makes denial so sinister,” he said. “And there’s no Illuminati?” Fuchs and Stumpf smiled. Amalie strolled in, smiling and gorgeous. She whispered in my ear, “Do you have the condoms?” I denied they were still in my pocket and smiled wickedly. “Good,” she said.
http://cotolochronicles.blogspot.com/ ISSUE THIRTEEN
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