ISSUE EIGHT | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013
SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES
BELLS AND HUNTERS
the learning curve: phil mccarty
A DOCUMENTREE: THE STORY OF TREEMAN
SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES
The Artist D Managing Editor
a new powerhouse
Paula Frank creative director
Ann Marie Papanagnostou
Christine Blythe Simone Brown Serena Butler Kathy Creighton Paula Frank Derek O’Neal Annie Shove
a machine’s eye view... of london
a storm force of
Rene Trejo, Jr.
an interview with
Ann Marie Papanagnostou
director & co-writer of the learning curve
the swedish sounds i ever heard
COVER IMAGE: NOBLESSE OBLIGE photographed by ARMANDO www.foto-image.com © 2012-2013 Fourculture Magazine Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. 2 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE EIGHT
:PAPERCUTZ creator of emotion & drama
when sounds become words:
STELLIFY: WRITTEN IN THE STARS
freeing the spirit:
PASSION, PLEASURE, AND DESIRE
BELLS AND HUNTERS into depths of the unknown
ZAMAPARA: VISION AND HOPE
learning to simplify
TALKING TO THE TREES
A DOCUMENTREE: THE STORY OF TREEMAN
my four 102
who we are 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, 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.
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.
PAUL B. BLUES Paul B Blues is one half of the duo who host one of the most listened to Blues shows on the internet, The Blues Connection on OnAirTunes.com. His mantra is “Blues music is a healer” and he thrives on promoting the artists who are making strides in the genre. If you need some healing of the soul, then tune into The Blues Connection. Be prepared to lose yourself in the ultimate Blues listening experience and enjoy the ride.
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.
Writer, painter, music lover, dreamer; Paula’s everchanging 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?
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.
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.
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.
SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES
© 2012-2013 Fourculture Magazine Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. 4 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE EIGHT
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.
let’s get connected
hile I was driving down the road the other day a dirty rust bucket of a car went by with the bumper sticker Artwork IS Work and God Bless the Freaks! I wanted to immediately run this clearly fabulous man off the road and lick his face. In the stark dust bowl that is now known as America it is so rare to see a glimmer of artistic hope. It is so difficult to find some sort of artistic coition. I suppose it’s always been like this and that’s why we live on the underground at Fourculture Magazine. A lot of people around me often pose the question “What underground?” They assume, like most people, that the Internet has managed to make a level playing field out of it all. The underground is now above ground and there’s no hiding us. Fortunately they are mistaken. We have not been unearthed; now we’re just hiding in plain sight. The people can’t possibly accept that we exist. It’s like a freak in the “The underground parking lot. Everybody sees the poor fellow but nobody says much. If the common people paid any mind to the artistic underground is sacred and it has they would be forced to show us nothing but avaricious contempt. become my asylum. Therefore we remain underground no matter what people may beAt a younger age lieve about it not existing. It makes us special. It keeps us safe and I wanted to go above secure hiding under the veil with our own culture. We should not wish ground and bask in to bust out, but instead stay for the block party. Look at all the people the lime glow, but who have gone above ground. They are often ruined by the sunlight known as Hollywood’s great ray. That ray is just about as healthy as now I shun it like the cancer I see it as.” the one that causes skin cancer. Cancer to true underground art is the sunlight known as televised exposure. As we rally into the eighth and continually fabulous issue of Fourculture we bring you more art that simply steps out. In fact, it steps across the street. It goes outside of the box, your mind, and perhaps the definition of all that some will never come to understand. Sounds, visions, words and voices from your underground are the key to happiness. We’ve continued to titillate your vision and now proudly announce encapsulation of your ears with Fourculture Radio. Picked as Editor’s Choice on Windows Media Guide we are featuring all the music from the magazine as well as readings. It’s public radio for extraterrestrials. That’s you. Terrestrial with a little something extra! Twentyfour hours a day with a mix of art, music and Rabelaisian repartee. The underground is sacred and it has become my asylum. At a younger age I wanted to go above ground and bask in the lime glow, but now I shun it like the cancer I see it as. I found my family below, but what I didn’t expect to find was the quality. We unearth it every day now because what’s happening in people’s home studios, sound proof closets and friend’s basements is of higher quality than anything the Corporate Cannibals have ever turned loose. The best sounds, visions, words and voices I’ve ever heard are right here. Listen carefully,
The Artist D ISSUE EIGHT
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a new powerhouse by paula frank photographs by A ll A bla ze Productions
Look out world! The Redd invasion has begun! We’re not talking aliens from another planet or scary political factions. We’re talking about Rose Redd, a new powerhouse coming at us from the UK. Her debut single and video for “Perfectly Useless” show us exactly what a force she can be. Rose Redd’s lyrics come as a direct expression from her heart and whether playing a quiet acoustic set or letting her pop flag fly, this young woman shows singing and songwriting ability well beyond her years. Open your ears and welcome the invasion of Rose Redd. You have entered the big, bad music business at quite a young age. What has given you the courage to jump right in? Has there ever even been another option? For me, in the beginning, I was incredibly reluctant to enter the industry. It wasn’t until I truly discovered what music really meant to me that I could throw myself into the world of music. I realized that music, like any other art, knows no prejudice. It doesn’t judge you for being different or unusual as I had been for years. There are no limits and there are no right and wrongs. Music was the only option for me because it was the only thing that made me feel like I belonged. It gave me the courage to be myself and not to worry about what people thought of me. It also allowed me to portray things I was too scared to speak out about. I was able to tell people who I was and the things I had been through. Nothing else in the world can do that on such a huge scale and for me expressing myself is the only way I can stay sane! When did you actually decide that music was what you wanted to do with your life? Was your family supportive of the decision? A few years ago I had a very difficult time understanding the world, the people in it, and what I was doing here. I became very ill and couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt useless. I doubted everything including my path and myself. I tortured myself for being that way, but was unable to drag myself out of the pit I had dug. It wasn’t only me that suffered during that time. My family was also very distressed and did everything they could to help me. It was whilst I was lost in that dark place that I discovered the real reason for music and it was Martin L. Gore of Depeche Mode that helped me to realize it. I could see music for what it really was. It is a way to express thoughts, feelings, and life without ever having to stand in front of somebody and blatantly tell them. It’s like a language that everybody understands. Some choose to
search the meanings behind the lyrics while others just enjoy singing along. I told my parents that music was the only way for me and to this day they encourage and support my decisions. Without music I’m not sure how I’d cope. You give a nod to Depeche Mode’s Martin L. Gore for really getting you into music. What was it about that music that spoke to you so deeply? Do you feel their influence in any of the music that you create today? To me, Martin L. Gore is so much more than a musician and so much more than a songwriter. To me Martin L. Gore is an inspiration and a teacher. Because of him, I learned that in just a simple melody and a few powerful words you can change somebody’s mood, thoughts and, in my case, somebody’s life. He made me realize it was okay to feel the way I did, that I was allowed to feel that way, and that one day it would pass. I can’t explain in words how much his music means to me or how much he influences everything I do, but he taught me how to write, how to stand by my beliefs, and above all to be myself! I definitely feel his influence in all of the songs I write. Sometimes I imagine how he would have written some of my songs or how he would sing them and I work that into my music. On a number of occasions people have told me they can hear Depeche Mode’s influence in my music and every time it gives me butterflies to even think that people use Rose Redd and Depeche Mode in the same sentence!
the incredible Tracy Chapman! I can’t get over how many people have recorded my version and uploaded it onto YouTube! Although I love to perform my own material live, I don’t think I will ever do a performance where I don’t perform at least one cover! I also try to pick songs that mean something to me. I’m currently looking into Bjork’s “Hyperballad.” The lyrics just speak to me. I believe the only way to improve my own songwriting is to explore other people’s. What better way to do that than to learn to play their songs? I also have a collection of songs I’d really love to sing. Amongst them are many of Depeche Mode songs, Kate Bush’s “Running up that Hill,” and A Perfect Circle’s “Orestes,” but because they mean so much to me, I haven’t performed them. I would want to do them justice and express the feelings behind them but worry I wouldn’t portray the songs how they should be. Maybe one day I’ll have the courage! You recently won the Young Performers Award at the Wath Festival. How was the experience of competing for the award? What new doors has this opened for you? It was nerve-wracking! I’ve never really been one for competitions. It was my parents that convinced me to give it a go and I’m so glad I did! The other contestants were so talented I couldn’t believe I walked away with first prize! More than anything it’s boosted my confidence to do more and maybe even enter new competitions…Maybe!
With radio appearances, video production, single releases, and now headlining shows and playing festivals, does it ever get overwhelming for you? How do you ground yourself with a career spinning around you? Sometimes. It’s so difficult to find time for myself and the people around me. Quite often I’ll vow to have the day off, but because I am a completely independent artist I end up answering emails, making phone calls, and booking gigs. I don’t have a manager or a record label so I have to be the promoter, the manager, and the performer all rolled into one. There is too much work for one person to handle so my family helps where they can. Until the right person comes along to help me out, I’ll carry on this way. I’ll have time to rest when I retire (or somebody signs Musicians often start with covers and me!). In the meantime, I love my job. I find you are no exception. What are your that my family is my grounding, but also my favorite songs to cover? Now that you drive. They are amazing! have more of your own material, will you still do covers? You’ve been gigging quite a lot. What There are so many wonderful songs in is the most important thing you learn the world that it’s hard to pick a few favorites! about your music in playing it live that I absolutely love performing “Wild Horses” you maybe hadn’t noticed about it beby The Rolling Stones. It’s definitely a favor- fore? Have you ever sent a song back ite of mine! You can really feel the passion to the drawing board after playing it live? behind the lyrics. I also love “Fast Car” by I love performing my own songs live
because I can see my audience’s reaction. ‘The Storm,” an incredibly personal song of mine, is one song I had to hide away. I hadn’t played it live for months after writing it because the lyrics are so meaningful to me. I was always scared what people would think. I finally started playing it live and soon found that people didn’t understand the lyrics and often left my audience highly confused. Lyrics like “You turn to face the bear/ watching as it sighs and hides/ behind a weak and lifeless smile.” After that, I decided to re-write the guitar line and try to make it more comfortable to listen to. It gave the song a more comfortable feel for the audience. For your new single “Perfectly Useless” you turned from your acoustic roots and made it quite pop. What prompted this change in direction? Will we hear more of a pop flair on the album? I’m in love with the sound Gavin Monaghan and I came up with in the studio. Not only did we get to produce a sound we loved, we also had an amazing time. It was just incredible when he said he wanted to use Depeche Mode’s Songs of Faith and Devotion album as the main influence to the sound of “Perfectly Useless.” I had to hold back a squeal of excitement. Gavin and I had a lot in common, had lots of laughs, and even had a tiger working on the track at one point. I’m definitely going to be visiting the Magic Sound Garden again soon so you can be expecting some more of that pop feel from the next single we release.
fantastic dress. The performances were the easy bits. It was when I was told they were using me instead of an actress that I really started to panic. I’ve never acted in my life. I played Anne Boleyn once when I was in school. I had one line. I walked onto the stage, the narrator explained who I was, and I shouted “I’m leaving!” and stormed off stage. So when the director for “Perfectly Useless” told me that I had to be angry, I suppose I had acted angry once before. When listening to or purchasing music, are you a single or a whole album girl? Definitely whole album! That way I can learn from every track rather than just the one. You can see what built up to that specific track, which songs might have influenced it, and whether the songs are consistent. I love variation in an album: subtle musicality to explosive musicality, loving lyrics to hateful lyrics, meaningful tracks to nonsense tracks. Then I learn from each track and take away the things I like about each one. Plus, you can sometimes find a real gem that no one else has yet. What does your hair look like first thing in the morning? Red. Do you have a name for your guitar? My guitar is named Grouch the Gretch because he never does as he’s told. I stumbled across him completely by accident. He wasn’t even for sale. Somebody had accidentally left him behind at my friend’s guitar shop. I asked my friend if he would mind phoning the owner and finding out if he’d be interested in selling Grouch. He sold him to me over the phone. Grouch is such a grump though. Maybe that’s why he sold Grouch so quickly.
How will you bring this new pop sound to the stage? Is a full band in the works? I have been searching for some talented musicians to help me out and have found two really talented permanent members. Originally I hired Nedd the Redd, king of When can we expect a full album from the Trolls, but improving his musical ability Rose Redd? What else does 2013 hold proved difficult as he is made of plastic. for you? Ha ha. I haven’t even released an EP You’ve made your first official video also yet and so many people have asked about for “Perfectly Useless.” Are you enjoy- an album. I’m going to work really hard this ing the video process? Can you tell us year and plan to release a debut album next the concept for the video? year. I know that the rest of this year is goIt’s hard work, but super fun! My friend, ing to include gigs all over the UK, which Chantelle Cassidy, designed the main started last month with “The Redd Invacostume for me and I couldn’t believe sion.” I’m also going to be recording the rest how short it was. I told her I looked like a of my debut EP, plan the supporting tour Victorian Prostitute and she just laughed. and, of course find the rest of my band so I shouldn’t complain though. It’s such a we can get that pop vibe going.
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BY K ATHY CR EI G HTO N
Firebird Rising Showcase 2013 with Starchild Photograph by Nate Miller
Firebird Rising Showcase 2013 with Liz Davies Photograph by Jazzwall Arts
tephen Hues. Stephen who? Stephen Hues may be diminutive in stature but his spirit is huge and it is filled with joy. From the moment his face comes into view there is a smile that remains there throughout a conversation. He is passionate about art, nature and the human community. He is a creator, choreographer and director. He’s lived in Hollywood. Excuse me? What? You’ve never heard of him? Never seen his name in a playbill or in movie credits? It’s true. Like many members of the the SoCal arts community, Stephen Hues is yet another phenomenal creator who resides below the radar.
Hues started his creative road as a child in the back of a van that his father drove to various places to pick up props and supplies to be used in his job as a window dresser in Kentucky. After graduating Ohio State, Stephen moved to Montreal and lived there for ten years. At that point he felt like he needed a challenge. He remembered the stories his grandparents and uncle had told of the two years they had lived in Los Angeles back in the 1930's. But it literally took the writing on the wall to help him make the decision to go west. One day he saw scrawled on a wall "Live and die in L.A. forever". He knew that if he didn't heed those words the Universe would make life miserable for him. When asked whether he found the tribe or it found him, Stephen explained about arriving in the City of Angels. Things continued to just fall into place. He met a woman who was connected to a director who'd been called away to a project in New York. He needed someone to fill-in and run the production he had going in L.A. Their first meeting was over coffee and ended up being about everything except the show but then their second meeting Stephen learned most of the important things about it. There were over seventy-five performers involved who were all parts of various segments of the SoCal arts community.
There were Burners, Moon Tribers and others. This production was before the emergence of troupes such as Lucent Dossier but already included the interactive performance element. Stephen contributed as a creator, director and choreographer. Each 35 minute performance was done in a club that held up to two-thousand people. When the artists began their show people would just stop what they had been doing, sit on the floor and experience the show. Stephen learned that this group had been doing this for a while and developed "I am" parties such as "I am fantasy". Being welcomed into the tribe and loving this new family, Stephen made his first trip to Burning Man in 2001. There he discovered the spirits of transformation and generosity. He found inspiration and the chance to understand man's place in nature. Between extreme temperature changes, the unobstructed view of the night sky and the ability to actually see the curvature of the earth at dusk and dawn on The Playa, one is reminded that humans are part of the fauna of this planet and this planet is part of the Universe. Hues returned to Burning Man eight times after that. In 2003 Hues had the opportunity to bring a taste of L.A. performance art to New York. It was shortly after 9/11 when
Stephen and Robert Briar along with a cast that included Burners, members of the Moon Tribe and Dream Circus arrived at La Mama with a production of the Hindu myth of Romayana. There they learned that New York had very little knowledge of what was going on on the Left Coast and the production had a very successful three-week run. Hues believes that the events on 9/11 created a hunger for sacred stories and finding that spiritual food in the form of a type of performance art New Yorkers were not familiar with led to the success of the show. He noted, though, that there is not a reciprocation of Broadway theater finding a niche in Los Angeles. It’s just never developed the following out there that exists on the east coast. In the midst of all this, Stephen has worked with Jim Rado, one of the co-author’s of Hair which led to him learning to walk on stilts. Today he is a member of “Stilt Circus”. He was also a member of Lucent Dossier, Cobalt & Crimson and has performed with the L.A. Opera. All of this was the building material for a project that Hues started earlier this year. It was the announcement of the Indigogo fundraiser for "Firebird Rising" that was shared by a friend on Facebook that caught my eye and learning a bit of six degrees of separaISSUE ISSUESEVEN EIGHT
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Firebird Rising Showcase 2013 with Windu Sayles, AJ Abrams, Evan Swenson & Damien Joseph Diaz Photograph by Jazzwall Arts
tion that drew me to learn more about Hues and this show he was trying to launch. While he was in college he saw the Harlem Dance Theater perform the traditional "Firebird" ballet set to Stravinsky's music based on the 1910 Ballet Russes rendition. He was impressed by the skill, grace and strength of the dancers and he loved the universal message of "rising from the ashes". It stayed with him. As years passed he became a fan of mythology and discovered that there were stories in many cultures about a beautiful creature that could be consumed by fire then rise from the ashes as beautiful if not more so than before. Those myths spoke to him on a personal level. He had come through many transformations from thoughts to religious dogma, general negativity, lack of respect for the arts, and experiencing different cultures in North America. The Firebird stories teach a lesson of facing changes with courage. Stephen believes that so many of the world's problems are due to fear of change. He has also been able to include references to bringing balance back to nature through respect and reminding people that they are part of of it. Although the fundraiser did not meet its full goal, over 300 investors provided enough money to launch a short performance which premiered in early June, shortly after this interview. Prior to its debut Stephen was excited, thrilled and a little afraid. As the artistic director this is his "baby" but to put it all together he had to entrust various parts of his vision to others. There were times he had to give up control 16 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUEEIGHT SEVEN
and let people guide the process which was scary. Going forward the hope is to step back and look for where this creation needs tweeking and improvement, to figure out what direction they want to take it. Eventually, if the show generates enough revenue it will be expanded to a 2-hour fully immersive experience where the audience and everything around them is part of the production. Hues also would love to see the addition of pre and post show elements. Firebird Rising performance information from the showâ€™s program: Magic Feather Productions Presents Firebird Rising Showcase A 15 minutes work in progress! The Firebird is the spark that begins time, she ushers in many eras including the dawn of man. Ivan and his associates enter the sacred forest in search of Coltan, a mineral that is used in electronic devices, here they encounter the beautiful Firebird and she takes Ivan on a journey of selftransformation where he discovers his own humanity. Directed by Stephen Hues Music Composed by Igor Stravinsky, Rara Avis, Kate & Martin St-Pierre Story by Susan McIntosh & Stephen Hues Book & Lyrics by Susan McIntosh Choreographed by Judith FLEX Helle & Stephen Hues
Costumes & Masks Designed by Adele Satori Ram Stilt Costume Designed by Starchild LED Puppets Designed by Daphne Vega Video Projections Designed by Yo Suzuki Body Mapping Projections Designed by Paul Ackerman Lighting Designed by Dan Weingarten Vocals by Kate St-Pierre Interactive Animation by Kurosh ValaNejad, programming by Todd Furmanski
Jennifer Curry Wingrove Photograph by Jazzwall Arts
Graphic & Branding Design by Yehonatan Koenig Financial Advisor, Linus Sora Marketing Advisor, Nate Miller Project Manager, Chico B Starring:
Firebird - Jennifer Curry Wingrove Ivan – AJ Abrams Kash & Cheetah – Windu Sayles
Turtle- Liz Davis Snakes – Bianca Sapetto & Sita Acevedo Ram – Starchild Wolves – Ashley Frances Hoffman & Brianna Haynes Fields Cheetah – Season De Angelis Skunk – Sadie Black 2 Business Men – Evan Swenson & Damien Joseph Diaz
For more information on “Firebird Rising” visit www.FirebirdRisingShow.com or https://www.facebook.com/thefirebirdrising For Stephen Hues: https://www.facebook.com/stephen. hueshttps://twitter.com/shues1
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BY A DA M D
London may look like a gigantic blob on a map. A sprawling, shifting mass of brown and grey, ringed by a Motorway that most often resembles a car park. People hope that going round the mass is faster than cutting across it (it’s debatable).
But look closer: there are distinct areas, old villages and other settlements, all now linked together after years of expansion (temporarily halted by the World War II bombing). Yes, London is a collection of small towns and villages that just happen to touch each other at their extremities. Some of the areas are thrown together, as naughty children are in detention. They don’t make comfortable neighbours, but they’re forced to share the same space and pollute the same air. Others almost throw their arms round each other in a lovers embrace, meeting in the middle of giant urban parks, or sharing a view of the Thames. Living in London requires you to see things in this way. It’s simply too big and haphazard a place to be considered as a ‘whole’. Whilst there is a great pride in its residents, and a united front was certainly presented for the Olympics, few who live here really refer to it as ‘London’. You are either going to Hackney or Harrow, Peckham or Putney: all ‘London’ to the outsider. Many people who live here will never venture into the West End, tourist London’s beating heart. Fewer still have reason to visit the City, or the new financial district of Canary Wharf. Living north or south of the river really matters. Like most places then, identity matters. As the whole world has descended upon London, it is definitely a case of ‘it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at’. For this Yorkshireman, brought up in a small village on the outskirts of a relatively small town (York), where I’m ‘at’ is the borough of Tower Hamlets--more specifically, Aldgate East. The road I live on, Whitechapel Road, was one of the two cheapest on the Monopoly board. Its total ‘value’
was about the equivalent of 2 day’s rent in modern money. I think I was offered this regular ‘column’ on the basis that I talk about coffee, possibly. I am writing this in my favourite local coffee shop, ‘Brick Lane Coffee’. This is part of a trio of ‘Street Coffee’ houses that have been set up in London. Each one shares a relaxed atmosphere and an eclectic mix of clientele, all of whom crave premium coffee in what amounts to a large living room ‘home away from home’ setup. Music plays an important part in the atmosphere. The soundtrack ranges from hiphop (currently playing Gucci Mane) to heavy rock, with pretty much everything in between, usually played at the same volume as an angry teenager in his room. The staff change gradually, with new members easily integrated into the setup. They take time to talk to you, even in peak times. Above all else, they know how to serve excellent coffee. But I can’t just talk about coffee. I want to share my doorstep with you, if I may. Brick Lane itself is a fascinating road, and a microcosm of how London has grown, and grown up. The ‘ward’ I live in (an electoral district) is called ‘Spitalfields and Banglatown’. The Bangladeshi population actually dates back to the 1600s in London. The East India Company began trading with Asia for spices and silks. The Bangladeshi population has steadily grown, and found themselves a home in this part of East London. In the 60’s and 70’s, they effectively regenerated some of the more rundown housing in the whole of London; first as squatters and then as legitimate tenants, after the Greater London Council decided that it was better to work with people who wanted ISSUE ISSUESEVEN EIGHT
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“CurrentLY, the number of people under the age of 20 who dress like it is 1986 has boomed in the last 12 months.”
to live in and look after the area than force them out. Sadly, a large influx of ‘different’ people often causes tension. So it was here, with the racially motivated murder of a Bangladeshi factory worker in 1978, leading to the local park opposite my flat being re-named ‘Altab Ali Park’ in his memory. Brick Lane remains the central spine of this community, running from Whitechapel Road in the south through Bethnal Green Road to the north, almost a mile long. It is home to over 30 curry houses, one of the oldest international grocers in the UK (founded in 1936) and many other clothing and small shops. It is constantly evolving, as new generations of people ‘discover’ it. There are hipsters and homeless, tourists, both curious and lost, and a burgeoning creative community keen to inhabit an area that they feel they can express themselves in, and which can represent them. For 80’s music fans, Sarm East Studios were situated in a basement on Brick Lane. This is where Queen, Madonna, ABC, INXS and Frankie Goes To Hollywood all recorded some of their albums. Not far away, in Shoreditch,
Depeche Mode recorded Construction Time Again. The album track ‘Pipeline’ was recorded on a building site, and even picks up the sound of a passing train on the final recording. The spirit of creativity is alive and well today. The Truman Brewery houses many music producers and artists. Whitechapel Gallery is at the southern end, on Whitechapel High Road, and many more independent galleries and shops can be found on Brick Lane itself. Coffee shops have started to spring up in vacant properties. There are now five where there used to be just this one. Vintage clothing stores are flourishing. The area is home to a large number of artists and students, all of whom bring a more ‘bohemian’ outlook and quest for something ‘different’. There is a massive indoor market on Sundays, supplementing plenty of stalls that also occupy the neighbouring Spitalfields market on a Saturday. A large number of independent stores are opening. There is also one of the ‘cooler’ record stores in London, Rough Trade Records. Yes, they still sell vinyl, and lots of it. There is even what has been described as the world’s first ‘pop-up mall’, Box Park. A collection of shipping containers, set out on two levels, and housing short-term lets from high-end brands to local fashion labels. This is all topped off with a food court above. This sits under the recently opened Shoreditch High Street railway station, part of an expansion of rail services in London to ferry yet more people in and out of the city on previously disused lines. Fashions constantly evolve. It seems that this area is home to people more interested in setting, rather than following trends. Of course, the pace of change is so fast that just as the market stalls and shops fill their shelves with what everyone is wearing, they are already out of date. Currently, the number of people under the age of 20 who dress like it is 1986 has boomed in the last 12 months. The influence of times past is clear. Vintage stores burst at their seams with cardigans, braces, and shirts with prints and patterns. Everyone looks different, yet there are some similarities. Jeans are rarely blue and most likely skinny, and rolled up above the ankle. It sort of resembles a casting for extras for Happy Days, with a touch of the Fresh Prince thrown in. The markets on Sunday also offer a mouth-watering choice of foods from around the world. Close your eyes and breath in, and you could be mistaken for thinking
you are in Thailand, Mexico or China, all in the space of a few yards. There are fresh breads and pastries, salads and wraps. Greece, Portugal, France and Jamaica are all well-represented. In short, if you leave here hungry, you have a very picky pallet. Almost any spare wall space is adorned with street art. It would be disrespectful to call it mere graffiti. The authorities have taken a positive view, seeing it as enhancing the area, rather than vandalism. Most works are carefully set out and are also respected by other artists, rather than overdaubed with tags. There are regular exhibitions where the larger walls are painted with some more impressive scenes, often spanning several yards. There are even special tours, taking tourists round the area, pointing out examples of artists’ work, and discussing things in detail, as though on a fine art class. These tours compete for pavement space with the many ‘East End murder’ tours. Jack the Ripper used to frequent these streets, way back when gas lamps barely lit the streets and there was a semi-permanent thick fog rolling off the river. There’s plenty here to make the more timid run a mile. The streets are usually heaving with people. There is a clash of cultures. Everything seems a little louder, including the very walls that hold the buildings up. But for me, everything just works. There is no reason to want for anything. There is a real sense of community. This is both a typical and unique example of London life. You may replace Bangladeshis with Jamaicans, you may replace hipsters with City workers, but you will always find areas that are both distinctive and yet familiar. Next time you visit London, make sure you travel East. The Olympics put this side of London on the map, just don’t go past E1 without stopping. I’ll buy you a coffee. It may be expensive to live here, but you couldn’t pay me to move.
Fourculture Radio is our newest endeavor celebrating a wealth of artists not often heard on radio today. Itâ€™s also home to The Fabulous D Show, a program dedicated to unearthing the underground hosted by Fourcultureâ€™s executive editor, The Artist D. This is just the beginning. As we continue to evolve, so will FC Radio. Give it a listen: www.onairtunes.com/fcradio
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The Coldside storm is getting closer to our shores. As we begin to feel the thunderous rumble of what many in the United Kingdom have been making a fuss about for a few years now, we finally get a glimpse of what itâ€™s like to survive the likes of Hurricane Coldside. The Manchester duo of Aitch and Zane are ready to strike internationally with a unique twist on urban music that is sure to make the ground rumble. From sold out concerts (playing to over 47,000 people), awards stacking up for them left and right, and even some big time radio attention weâ€™ve only begun to feel the winds blow. Batten down the hatches, folks. Coldside is approaching!
by ser en a butler
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As with many successful artists, you have to have a really good vibe with your band mate in order to make it work. How did you two get together in the first place? Do you two always keep it civil or is there a brotherly aspect to the job? We both did our thing separately for a while and we occasionally worked together. In 2009, we did a lot of music together and the vibe in the studio was crazy. We both brought the best out of each other so we decided to join up and the rest is history. We’re both creative guys. At times in studio and rehearsals we have our own visions of how things should be. We do fight and bicker, but we always find a middle ground. It’s never serious. It’s just part of the process. It’s all love.
you do? Do you have an album which you’d say really set the tone for your love of the hip hop genre? We all love hip hop. Who doesn’t, right? We really enjoy mixing it up with our influences and other genres, mainly rock. Our influences aren’t even rappers. They are artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Crazy Town, Lenny Kravitz, and Michael Jackson. If I had to name some hip hop albums which stand out for me they would be The Slim Shady LP, Dre 2001, and any of Nas’s albums. We could fill your magazine with incredible albums and artists so it’s best we leave it there.
We touched upon this in our last interview “How you look is almost with you guys earlier this year. You weren’t always called Coldside. How did the name come as important as how you about? Why did you decide to drop the Generals half of the name? sound in this industry. How When we first started making music when we were 15-16, grime was the popular sound and you dress says something what we all did. There were a lot of crews in Manchester and around the UK and it was all about about who you are and the hardest sounding name. It sounds stupid now, but that’s how it was. So Coldside Generals was what you represent.” born from sitting in a room brainstorming ideas. As we grew up and jumped off the grime wagon and experimented with other music, we kind of outgrew This September, you’re set to sell out the Manthe generals. chester 02 Academy 3 for the second time, So you’re currently working on your very first a feat which has never been done by an unalbum, which is due out later this year. What signed act (to current knowledge). How do you can we expect? How will this set the stage for feel about having that ability to sell out a show without being signed? What makes this show/ the future of Coldside’s music? venue so special to you? We are taking this project slowly. We don’t Performing is the most amazing feeling anywant to rush things because, like you said, it will set the stage for future Coldside music. You can way so you can imagine the rush when a show is expect big beats, baselines, heavy rock influence, sold out. When I think back to our first headline and of course some records with real substance concert, I never imagined selling it out or the show going so well having organised it ourselves. It’s and meaning. incredible to be able to sell out a show without a For a while now, you’ve been dangling the E.P mainstream fan base. That’s not our doing. That S.I.X. over our heads with little snippets here shows the amazing support we have from our city, and there. What can you tell us about the E.P? our fans, and friends. So it’s only right we come With the delay of the release, how do you feel back and put on an even bigger, better show for them. Now with our full backing band and incredyou’ve made it better? S.I.X. is just us having fun and experimenting ible support acts, it’s set to be a hell of a show. with a sound that people don’t really associate Coldside with. It’s a hip hop, trap sort of sound with In 2011, you were able to capture the title of elements of dark R&B and beach house influenced Best Unsigned Act in Manchester with judges music. It’s a completely different side of us, but I and reps from the likes of Manchester City FC, hope people will be pleasantly surprised. At first, Sony Records, Key103, and Cherry Lips PR just we had hold backs in the mixing process so as we to name a few. What was it like to participate in were stalled we continued making more and more such a competition and come out on top? What songs until we had to scrap songs, re-write songs, was it like playing to 47,000 people 3 times? That was one of the most terrifying moments of and a whole other world of problems. We think the my life. But seriously, it was one of the moments wait will benefit the project and will announce the we have had to talk about and describe countless release details on our website. times and never do it justice. Let’s just say marAs a young band, you’ve clearly grown up dur- riage to Beyonce could not top it (dramatic overing a peak in the hip hop genre. Who would you statement). It was amazing to be appreciated at say are some of the main inspirations for what that level.
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You also won best Urban Act of 2012 from the Exposure Awards. What does being an urban act entail? With all these wins under your belt, how do you keep up the momentum? You have to use moments like that as inspiration to work harder. It’s not like “Oh we’ve won. We can relax.” It’s more like “Okay, what’s next? It’s straight back to work.” After watching the video for the single “Runaway,” you guys have a very distinct hip hop fashion sense. How do you feel that fashion has impacted the hip hop industry in the UK or worldwide perspective? Have you been involved with any of the brands you’ve been seen wearing? How you look is almost as important as how you sound in this industry. How you dress says something about who you are and what you represent. Hip hop usually has a stigma of baggy pants, baseball hats, etc, etc. Today, it’s completely different. Artists like Kanye, Jay Z, ASAP Rocky, and Schoolboy Q break that mould to show that the fashion industry is as much a part of hip hop as the music, the dance, and the art. We wear a lot of designer gear, but we also wear a lot of up and coming brands that sponsor us such as OffBeat and Humor to name a couple. Being very fashionorientated, we are also working with some brands to collaborate with for our own line of clothing. After doing a little undercover work, we’ve discovered that you, Aitch, have a bit of a talent with spray paint. We here at Fourculture have a soft spot for street art. Having involved yourself with a couple of street art projects, how did you become interested in street art in the first place? How long have you been dabbling in street art? You guys did do your research. Well, let’s just say I have a few unspoken years under my belt, shouts to Herro Maths and Zombee and street art projects. I do some youth work so teaching young people some techniques used to be my job. As for getting started, it spawned from a love of breakin’. I started breakin’ at 13 (I’m 23 now) with one of the UK champs, Mouse Boy, and then Timber. From there, the love for the music and the art all followed. I sing, but my love for hip hop goes deep to MF, Count Bass, J Live, Prince Paul and Grave Diggers.
Andre Mistier, known as The Adversary, is creating the soundtrack of today while telling the story of tomorrow. His newest EP, Chapter 1: The Ruins, (out now) is the beginning to a tale taking place in the ruins of our future. With his creative mix of what he calls “hybrid sound”, Andre creates a world that pulls you in and leaves you wanting more, a musical world painted from the pigments of our everyday lives. I had the opportunity to visit with Andre about the inspiration behind this world, his plans for releasing the next sensational chapters, and perhaps even a teaser or two of what’s to come for Maybelline and Cutty. by paula frank
What you are doing with the project is releasing EPs as chapters to a larger story. The first EP and beginning of the story, Chapter 1: The Ruins, is already out. What inspired the concept of the story that you’ll be telling with all of these EPs? I’ve always been interested in narrative stuff. My background was in theater. I used to act and direct and I always wanted to put these two things together. I’ve had delusions of grandeur of bigger performance things and not just 4 guys on stage. I played with this idea and I feel like I’ve often gravitated towards future dystopian ideas and that sort of speculative statement because I feel like it’s much easier to make comments on modern society. I feel it’s much easier for people to connect with when you make it in a fictional context. If I said to you “I know how to fix the world. Everyone follow me,” I would sound moderately crazy. If I wrote a story in which a fictional character figured out a way to save his world, no one would question it. That leap of faith is a very interesting thing to me, where people will digest what 30 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUEEIGHT SEVEN
you’re talking about and engage with it. That was the first piece of it, but the other part is a) there are an awful lot of dystopian stories in the world and b) they’re all relating things of the same sort. There’s the big brother society that’s trying to control individual thought and it’s some sort of governmental squelching of the people and the people are trying to fight that. I kind of, at some point, had the idea that rather than set the story within this dystopia, I wanted to set it in the fall of this dystopia. This world is the one that happens after this modern American society had become this dystopian, controlling society. By the time this story takes place, that society is in ruins and falling apart which is why the first chapter is called The Ruins. I also liked the idea of starting at what feels like the ending. In the fall of this structure and the chaos of nothing holding anything together, there is a really interesting place to try to rebuild and look forward as to how things could actually be. “Maybelline,” the first video, is kind of the center narrative piece of the first chapter. It’s about these characters, Cutty and
Maybelline running through the ruins trying to figure out what to do with themselves within that context. The line that happens at the end of the chorus is “Dance the ruins away” which is literally that life: Hey, we’re in the ruins. Everything is gone. The best thing we can find is to enjoy ourselves in this. That was another thing I wanted to ask is what the significance was of beginning the story in those ruins. So hey, cool... that explains that. So instead let me ask, will there be salvation in the end? I will reply no answer to that and I will even partly admit that I have not entirely finished the story and I’m really happy with that. I’m much farther along than I’ve released so far and I have songs both finished and songs that I might try to add to this but I really like that I have this very concrete world and I have the characters in it. I want it to kind of be constantly catching up with myself. I am much more interested in not finishing the story and letting the music and how people respond to it inform the direction of the story. I like the idea that I’m always kind
of chasing myself with this project. I’m only 1 step or 2 steps ahead of myself right now, so rather than thinking I’ve got it all figured out like Dr. Evil in the corner with a master plan, I’m more running through the narrative just like someone who’s listening to it is. Is that part of why you’re releasing in chapters? Yeah, that’s absolutely part of it. Certainly as well, I feel like it makes it much clearer in having this chapter statement as opposed to an entire album. There’s an albums worth of music that is done. I could release it as an album and people could see it as an album. With this, it kind of reminds me of the way novels used to be released serially in magazines. The other thing I like about this is that there’s no necessary requirement that these chapters culminate in an album in the traditional sense. I wanted to remove myself from the standard version of how music is released and just see what happened. I may in the end, if each chapter has 3 or 4 songs, end up with 4 chapters and then there will be an albums worth. There may never be an album. I may make 12 chapters worth. Who knows? I have the beginning, the middle, and most of the end but not all of it finished but if it seems like the story needs to keep going, I don’t feel the need to shut it down after 4 chapters. If it feels like it’s done, then I’ll shut it down there. I was interested in both the way it’s released and the process of the story both pushing me creatively at the same time and I wanted this whole thing in all of its varying directions to be a challenge.
narrative thing for you? You can get all of them. You want to just like 1or 2 songs? I’m giving you 1or 2 songs. I feel like this is going with what’s going on anyway. In the end it’s kind of more about autonomy in how you choose to intake music. If you want a lot of music and whole big spectacle and a story and all these little things tying together, a whole web thing bringing in different pieces of the story, and live visual stuff, you can get the whole thing. I’m hoping to eventually make a graphic novel out of this even though I can’t draw for anything, but I’m hoping someone will help me do that. There can be as much as possible or you could just like 2 songs. That’s totally fine in this case. When you’re actually creating music for whatever you’re doing, what is your process like? You’re very sound based. You have so many sounds and layers of sounds within the music, so is it something you hear in your head to start with and need to get out or do you play around externally until you find something you like? I’m really glad you say that because the soundscape of this is something that’s re-
ally important to me. I kind of feel like, more than specifically building the story although there is a story; I wanted to build a world in which these characters inhabited. A friend of mine once said that the key to a good trilogy is that it doesn’t answer all the questions in that world, so you end up being able to make up your own ideas or you have questions of your own. Basically, it says that the story you got in that world is not everything that happens in that world. Musically, it’s very much the same thing and the fact that I’ve been interested in soundscape and creating a world sonically led me to that whole narrative idea. In the modern world, there’s a whole spectrum of sounds that we exist in. There are still human voices and birds chirping and violins and classical music and pianos, but there are also the sounds of your computer turning on and an elevator beeping and construction noises and cell phones and I feel like whether you choose to engage with it or not, you have to acknowledge that that full spectrum is the range of modern sounds that communicate to modern people. I’ve been really interested in playing with both sides of that but also what I
That’s very cool. How’s the response been to that so far? People are going to respond however they respond to the music regardless of the narrative. My biggest worry was that this narrative thing was going to be somewhat confusing. There are a lot of pieces going into this anyway. I was worried it would come across a jumble, but so far people are responding really well to it. I kind of feel like the impetus that I had to do this is something that makes sense and it something that people are looking towards. It’s kind of like the serial thing or a book series, where you get to the end of one and it’s like “Aaahh, when’s the next one coming?” Yeah, totally. Correspondingly, people are not currently as interested in albums. I love them, but on the business side, the general trend is toward individual songs or a few songs rather than an entire album so I wanted to take that idea and take it a step further as in here’s only a few songs. They’re connected to a whole bigger thing. You choose. You want this to be a whole ISSUE ISSUESEVEN EIGHT
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“I feel like whether you choose to engage with it or not, you have to acknowledge that that full spectrum is the range of modern sounds that communicate to modern people.” call hybrid sounds; taking an organic sound, like singing a nonverbal part and then running it through a bunch of computer filters, chopping it up and running it thru a bunch more filters and turning it into a percussion part or a synth part or whatever weird noise I found from there. If I played you just that sound you would totally know it came from a voice, but mixed into everything you just hear it as an ambient sound or percussive sound. But, because I’m human and not perfect it’s just a little out of tune, or a miniscule bit out of rhythm, or it fluctuates slightly or there’s weird overtones. I’m really interested in using technology to make sounds that have both the feeling of electronic and the feeling of human. I definitely started this project in that same idea of trying to keep pushing myself, doing my best not to consciously write, but to hear a part in my head and do my best to translate that part into a recording and then I just wanted to kind of let the parts be themselves to each other; pure creativity with less thought process. Now that there’s this narrative idea and I’m trying to think of how the songs fit into the story, I’m playing both sides of the creative process. I have songs that I’ve finished entirely on the acoustic guitar and then retranslated them to the electronic scape. The second song on the EP, “Patterns,” was the complete opposite. I was doodling around and made this sound I’d never heard before and I let all the sounds add to it and I had the music to that song written at least a year before I added lyrics to it. In listening to you talk about blending the organic with the computer and all those things that we hear around us, do you think that your music would be different if you were surrounded by a different set of soundscapes? I’m just thinking that you’re in New York, I’m in Montana. We have completely different environmental songs around us all the time. Would that affect your music differently if you were in a different place? Well, yes, but not, I think, in the first way that you mean that. I think it would maybe change the scape a little, but not necessarily in the way that the music would be more organic/acoustic based, which I think is the easiest answer to that. I mean, we’re
still on a cell phone right now. This call involved certain beeps and noises from the automated phone system, so I think we’re still playing with the same spectrum. We’re just dealing with higher percentages of one side than another. I do spend a lot of time in Northern California in the remote woods with no humans and that often very much helps me write a lot of the music I do. The last time I was in Montana was around Christmas. I think if I were to spend some more time there, I would come out with more crystalline glacial sounds rather than maybe more dirty sounds. Here in New York, I’ve been trying to mix kind of an element of the dirtier, like a lighter version of the Nine Inch Nails soundscape with prettier melodic stuff. The stuff I record here might be a little grittier than the stuff I would record, say, in Montana but I still think it would have that range of live to electronic sounds. In looking at the stuff that you’ve done, you used to be in a band called Ism. Has it been a good process for you to be doing this solo thing? Do you feel more freedom? Absolutely. I did really enjoy the band thing, but I feel for me it was sort of creatively limiting, mostly because of my lack of skill set in explaining stuff. By this point, I play pretty much all the instruments within the general arena of rock music except for drums. At the time, I couldn’t even speak drummer, having never programmed beats or even knowing how that worked so I would hear something that I wanted to be different and have no idea how to say it. So, the question was how much did the drummer fundamentally understand what I was saying. By doing all this stuff myself, I feel like I now understand the structure and composition of music, how things interweave, in a whole different way. I feel like I understand now what I never really fully understood before. Also it allows me that room to play. Today I’m recording a new song so I recorded the bass part and an arpeggiated part, and the keyboard part, and a couple of guitar parts. Then I decided I wanted to move the song down a half pitch and so I re-recorded all those parts. Then I decided the keyboard part wasn’t quite right so I went back and reworked that. This room to go back and play
and rework and edit; to me it then becomes more like writing or painting than live music and I feel like that’s really exciting. It’s kind of like sound painting but one of the things you get out of that is that it’s 4 dimensional to an extent that painting is not. Painting is a visual moment frozen in time, but with music there’s all these varying things that are happening at any given moment and the song progresses through time, each piece its own separate part but still in relation to the other pieces as well as they move together through the time of the song. Now that I’m actually starting to release this stuff, I started working with a producer. I’d finish a song as much as I could by myself and then he would them make suggestions or not. For the parts that needed a warmer, more acoustic sound like strings or voices, we went into the studio and redid them. All that simply goes to say that as I got to the end of this recording process, I hadn’t been playing with other musicians in a long time. It took me a little time to get back into what that all meant and the interaction of all that. I had forgotten how much I deeply love playing with other people. It’s gorgeous. It’s this both social and non-social collective conscious experience that is just fantastic. The difference is that now I’m coming into it with such a clear idea of this soundscape and the story and the world that it’s trying to evoke that my relationship to the people I’m playing with is much better. I’m really happy. I love my current live show and I also love sitting at home staring at my sounds by myself. What are you doing with the live shows? With you wanting to create the narrative and your background in theater and film, what are you creating with the live shows? I’m creating a live world that is as equivalent a version of the live experience of the album as I can possibly do and then setting it so that my performance is kind of the centerpiece of engaging in this world, but the world is bigger than that. I’ve been working with a phenomenal costume designer by the name of Mikaela Holmes and a great programmer named Adam Harvey and a few other people too. We’ve been working on a lot of costumes that exist within this world. You can see them in the video that’s out for “Maybelline.” The band all has the costumed uniform element and because it’s kind of this future, tech world most of the stuff that I wear incorporates lights and LEDs into the actual clothing. There’s also a bunch of LED light sculptural pieces that interact in real time to the music. The main things we’re working on at the moment are some very large wings that are made entirely of LEDs that react in real time to tempo, volume, and frequency of the music. I’m actually working on a smaller set of wings to wear myself and we’re also developing ISSUE ISSUESEVEN EIGHT
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costumes that will be for dancers to wear for a performance on stage. I’m trying to make this something for the audience as well. I have friends who also kind of do this same LED costuming and I’m trying to get many of them to be dressing in costume at these shows so that someone coming in is experiencing not just the performance on the stage but the performance is the entire experience. As much as I can, I’m trying to dress venues up and dress audience members up and dress everything up so you’re not watching a concert, you’re entering a world. This is the most fun I’ve had on stage. Nothing else comes close. 34 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUEEIGHT SEVEN
I want to touch on the video for a moment. So in creating this world and doing these chapters, is video going to be playing quite a large part in telling this story? Absolutely. The plan is each chapter will have one video. The hardest thing for me is that the focal point of this is music and how directly narrative can you make it and still have it be about the music. You go too directly narrative and it’s show tunes and that’s not what I’m trying to do. I find that the overly linear narrative concept albums don’t move me musically as much as the ones like, say Computer, which is a concept album that is more allegorical in terms of the
narrative. Even though I have a narrative, how much am I going to make completely clear? That’s a question I’m still dealing with, but all of the videos will tell a piece of the story. That doesn’t necessarily mean that if you had all the videos straight thru, it would play a 30 minute straight video. Well, that goes back to what you said about the key being not to tell the whole story and let people have their own ideas. Yes. Definitely. I want people to participate in that. I would love for this world to take on a life of its own and have this as much NOT to do with me as with me. If eventu-
“You go too directly narrative and it’s show tunes and that’s not what I’m trying to do.” with and an art director. My art director did the website as well and I feel like he’s one that took this idea I had and fully “got it” with the visual element and what he did there has kind of guided part of the stuff in terms of the videos and all the visual imagery since then. The director is phenomenal as well and the video for “Maybelline” looks like a film. It’s really beautiful. There’s been a whole bunch of people. On that same level, as much as I have a theater background, directorial background, I’ve written stuff, etc. I don’t want this to just be me. I do think the best thing I can do is explain my ideas as clearly and as in depth as possible and not claim that that means that I have the understanding of how best to express every piece. I’m completely involved in all of the processes, but I really wanted other people to come in and help translate this as much as possible.
ally I get to put the entire narrative down in one piece, to me a graphic novel is a better medium for that than an album. Don’t get me wrong. If someone comes along and offers me millions of dollars to make this into a movie, I’ll do it, but that’s probably not the first thing that’s going to happen. Are you conceptualizing the videos on your own for each chapter or do you have someone you’re working with? I have help in terms of a director I work
Do you think that music is kind of heading this way as with the technology that we have now musicians are able to connect with people and have them be a part of their work in new ways? I think the most defining element is that because of technology people are going to be able to choose their terms of engagement like they never have before on every side of the equation. People are starting to get this idea and I think people are doing it whether they’re actually clear that that’s what’s going on. The new question you can ask yourself is “How do I want music to fit into my life?” What do I want? Do I want to be spending my time making all of my music at home? Do I want to spend my time touring? Do I want to be a pop star? Do I want to be some conceptual arty guy? I think that the room to define your parameters and to define your business model in relation to that is unparalleled in the history of music. I think it’s exactly parallel to how the audience gets to choose their relationship to music and artists as well. Like I said before, you can buy one song and never get anything from them ever again. You can buy two or three songs and go see them when they’re in town and never engage beyond that. You could buy
everything the band ever does, engage with them in dialogue, and participate with them in the creative process. All of these things are completely available and there isn’t a value judgment on choosing one or any level of involvement. It’s just a question of what you want, which I think is very exciting. I think the corollary to those things is that it’s dramatically increased the opportunity for interaction and communication. So are we expecting a new chapter soon? Oh yes. The new chapter is almost done. I will say there is a cover in Chapter 2. That is the only tease I will give you beforehand. The one other additional element I will say in regards to part of the narrative element that will be coming out more and more over the course of these stories is this: there are these two characters, Cutty and Maybelline, who are in love and running through these ruins. At the same time the surveillance system of this future, dystopian world is starting to fall apart and as it falls apart it accidentally becomes sentient. As it becomes sentient it takes an interest in the two of them and it eventually falls in love with them. I will not tell you anything about where that goes from there, but this story will involve the collision between the falling in love and budding consciousness of this computer and the search for meaning between Cutty and Maybelline. Chapter 2 should be out late September/early October. Will you be out and about with the show then or are you going to wait until you get a further along with chapters? There are things going on. I played a show August 6th at Glass Ends. A little later I’ll be playing a few shows out west and I’ll be bringing this to Burning Man with a whole visual spectacle thing. I have a few weeks off to get ready for the release party for Chapter 2 and shows after that aren’t quite determined yet.
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Enter the mind of a Director. Enter the head space of one Phil McCarty as he takes us down his curvaceous vibrant mind-trails. The Learning Curve was a learning experience for Phil and opened his life as a Director even further than it already is. We talk his enthusiasm, his focus and his love of David Sedaris. Where does a Director go from here? "Where else?" is a much better question.
The Learning Curve is an adaptation of an essay by David Sedaris that you obviously fell in love with. What did you discover about yourself while making this movie? It’s hard to answer a question like that without sounding very self-congratulatory: “I discovered my strength” or “I found a new level of perseverance” or “Hey, look! I’ve got rippling abs.” So in addition to all of those things that, yes, I absolutely discovered about myself, I also discovered that I really love being a director on a film set. I love the temporary familial bonds that set up. I love the collaborative nature. I love working with actors. I love being surrounded by an extremely talented and passionate crew of people. Now, it’s probably obvious that one would love those things. So it’s not just that I discovered a love for those things. I also discovered what those things feel like to me, and my rippling abs. Do abs even ripple? Mine do, I guess. I heard you were more than pleased with the star of the film, Matthew Gray Gubler, not only as an actor, but also as a human. What really surprised you about this fabulous creature?
It’s hard to pick. The guy is a veritable grab bag of positive traits. If they ever get around to making that long-awaited, upbeat follow up to the movie Se7en, only this time a person ran around the city SAVING people using the seven holy virtues [in lieu of killing them with the seven deadly sins], the guy who shows up at the police station with his hands covered in happiness screaming “DETECTIIIIIIVES” won’t be played by Kevin Spacey, but by Matthew Gray Gubler (and his enthusiasm). Okay, so enthusiasm is a blanket word that gets thrown around a lot without people really digging into it. It often gets conflated with the word “energy,” which in my opinion is a component of enthusiasm, but they aren’t interchangeable. Enthusiasm is hard to maintain, but to me it’s sort of like the ability and willingness to extract enjoyment from things even after the novelty and newness have worn off. It’s the opposite of being jaded or cynical which are easier because they’re safe and because you don’t expose yourself. Matthew’s been in hundreds of episodes on TV and has worked with some of the finest directors alive; Wes Anderson, Marc Webb, yet each day he came to our
set and he was legitimately excited, the way you think he may have been for his first acting job. He responded to every note and every bit of direction [not that there were many, the guy is truly a badass.] and was just generally down for anything. The guy is an actor, director, artist, and I believe was a male model or something and you’d never know it based on interacting with him. I could equally believe he spent his days volunteering with sick kids. This movie is in your own words singularly the thing you are most proud of thus far. What tickles you about it most? The fact that it exists at all. Honestly, I sort of thought it would never ever happen. When the credits roll, I get to see the name of one of my favorite authors along with the names of some of my favorite people stamped onto something we all love. It’s a short film, I know, and in the grand scheme of things it’s not like we built the 8th wonder of the world, but I have a terrible memory. It’s awful. I’m only two seconds away from forgetting not only the question you just asked me but also the fact that I’m in an interview at all. Watching this film triggers a million different memories. Each
shot I can look at and go “Oh that’s when we needed to buy hay to bribe the tractor driver,” or “That’s when the PAs frantically blow dried the green screen to squeeze in that shot.” Each frame is a memory of people working together to create something that at the very least might make a few people smile for the 16-17 minutes of its running time. You could relate easily to the character in The Learning Curve, afraid you may be seen as a fraud. When all is said and done, do you still feel like a fraud? Yikes, tough question. Yes and no. This is my answer to everything in life, by the way. It’s the skeleton key of human interaction. If someone asks you something and you say, “Well, yes and no,” you’re almost NEVER wrong. It’s hedging your bets in the most god-awful wishy-washy way possible, but you can almost always back it up. Even when your smart-ass friend asks “Is Bob Marley Dead?” You say “Well, yes and no. His physical body is, but his legacy lives on, man.” If your notion of a director is someone who walks onto the set and barks orders, has to take raw actors and squeeze them and mold their performances, etc etc.
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Then, yes I’m a fraud. I am so far from being that girl or guy. However, in talking to more and more people, that’s actually just a dramatized notion of what directing is and while yes those people exist, they are (ideally) the exception and not the rule. There’s another type of director. In this alternate model of direction, your job is more along the line of a conductor. Train? Orchestra? Either one works. Basically your job is to get a bunch of talented people together and give them a reference point to make sure they’re all (on the tracks) working on concert with one another, but mostly you just get out of the way. To that extent I’m not a fraud because the film exists, right? When does a director believe he’s really a director? It depends on the day. It’s she or he, by the way.
What is the hardest thing about being a director? The hardest thing: not directing. The lag time on directing, at least for me at this stage of my career, is soul crushing. It takes so much time, energy, and money just to get to a point where you’re on a set directing. More practically: choosing your battles. Like most endeavors, I imagine, you hold the idea of how things should unfold in your head. Then as production gets underway, there are a million minor compromises you have to make; compromises for time, compromises for money. Each compromise takes you a step away from your envisioned idea. The thing is when you’re the “director,” you wield a very tangible sort of power. Whether its earned or not, you have the right and ability to more or less refuse to compromise. Abusing that power is of course the gateway to assholitry, but it’s also the stepping-stone towards not having a finished film. If you don’t compromise here and there, you potentially compromise the film at large. So sometimes you just have to say “Okay, this isn’t great, but it doesn’t need to be great. It needs to be serviceable.” That’s hard and knowing which is which, I don’t know. I don’t know how people do it.
David Sedaris is an exceptional individual. What did you learn from working with him on this script? To say he was hands-off with the scriptwriting department is an understatement. He basically let us do whatever. He didn’t have any rules or comments or anything of the sort. He was extremely generous and trust- Where in the world do you go from ing with his story and his life, to be honest. here when you’ve just directed the best So indirectly I learned that sometimes you thing yet? A number of things. My writing partner, should just trust people. I’m awful at that. David Dong, and I are currently writing our
feature film: a comedy set in the world of Super Villainy. We’re also both fairly into video games and would love to write one of those or something in between the two. Have you played with the Oculus Rift? I think it’s fantastic. You are quite upfront with the fact that this was basically your directorial debut. So tell me, was your first time everything you thought it would be? It was better than I could’ve expected. Every single person on the cast and crew, 42, 43, I hope it’s 42. Every single one of them did the job that they were hired to do and did it better than I could’ve expected them to and did it not just because it was their job, but because they believed in the project. I told Matthew that he has probably ruined me for actors because I can’t fathom having a better experience with an actor. Well, in the same way, this production has probably ruined me for films because I can’t imagine a better production experience. If they were all like this one, I’d be even luckier than I already feel. Will The Learning Curve be released on DVD for those who missed a screening or are outside of the US? Unfortunately, at the moment there are no plans to release The Learning Curve digitally or physically, but we’re hoping that might become an option in the future.
http://tlcmovie.com Check out The Learning Curve’s trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDFe03G0DNY
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The Swedish Sounds I Ever Heard by Frank Cotolo
hen my father and mother and I arrived in Gothenburg, Sweden, it was 1955 and only one thing stopped us from communicating with people—the language. My father knew this would be a problem when he decided we should move to the Scandinavian country but he was not the kind of man to allow an immense problem to get in the way of his dream. Nor would he let the protests of my mother stop him from what she saw as a misguided change of lifestyle. But my mother lost her bid for the three of us to stay in America, where my father had a great job as a jackhammer specialist (some say he played the machine like a violin). It was shortly before we moved that my 37-year-old father took my mother and I aside and said, “I know that I was not born
to be a jackhammer specialist.” My mother said, “This isn’t about going back to take Flamenco dancing lessons, is it?” (My father was expelled from a Flamenco dancing class after the two-hundredpound man tried to do simple steps atop a table and caused the imported piece of furniture to collapse into a million splinters.) “No,” my father said. “I want to be a Swedish filmmaker.” The announcement was met with silence as my mother and I were immobilized by the weight of our dropped jaws. He said he wanted to make films in Sweden, having been inspired by Victor Sajostrom and Mauritz Stiller, two directors whose names he pronounced phonetically. When my mother’s jaw lifted, she said, “Couldn’t you make movies like guys in
Brooklyn?” “Tessie,” my father screamed, “where in Brooklyn would I find resonant landscapes, intense allegory and ironic comedy?” “Have you tried Sears?” she said. There was no negotiating and in the summer of 1955 we were in Gothenburg. My father told us that until we learned the language we should only use the phrase “Na vern da kern” when talking to locals. “That is universal Swedish,” my father said, “for everything anyone needs to know.” I was a very smart kid for seven but I believed that there was such a thing as “universal Swedish.” My mother was 35 and believed it because she wasn’t very smart at 35. My father had zero income but hit the streets all day looking for film work. “If I can get a job on a film, my career as a filmmaker ISSUE ISSUESEVEN EIGHT
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will begin,” he said. “What will you tell them, daddy, to get a job on the film?” He looked at me with sparkling eyes filled with eternal hope and said, “Na vern da kern.” Over the next two years nothing my father would do could get him into the film business. By then we had no money and no home. The closest the family became to anything Scandinavian was the Knut Hamsun-like hunger we experienced begging for food in the most loathsome neighborhoods. During those lean and degrading times, though, my father stole paper and pens to write a screenplay that he was sure could get the attention of people in the industry. Although he wrote it in English, often without verbs, he titled it Na Vern Da Kern. As my mother and I continued to beg for food, my father shopped the script around. Wisely, he called it a “peasant film” because there were many post-war Scandinavian films falling into that category, which dealt with nostalgia and the rural way of life (my father added the urge to learn the ChaCha). This is what got the attention of Arne Mattsson, who was a film giant of the genre. One day, Mattsson came to Gothenburg and by coincidence strolled by as I was begging. I asked him for some Rubles to buy food. “You speak English,” Mattsson said, and then I asked him again for Rubles. “But why do you want Rubles? This is Sweden, you should ask for kronas.” “We can’t buy food with beer, Mister Swedish, we need legal tender,” I said with my hungriest voice. “Not Coronas, useless child, not the beer made by Germans who settled in Texas of the United States and produced the brew in Mexico. Are you a child of cretinism?” “Stop speaking English better than I.” “Better than me, you mean.” 42 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUEEIGHT SEVEN
Annoyed and riddled with hunger, I took out a copy of my father’s script, which was the heaviest item I carried (four hundred and fifty pages) and I hurled it at Mattsson’s head. He caught it before it struck him and immediately identified it as a film script with a peasant theme, disregarding the part about the Cha Cha. He fired through the pages as I thought of ways to get into his trouser pockets. “Where did you get this?” he said. I told him my father wrote it and that moment changed our lives. Mattsson took my mother and I to a bakery, bought us bread and waited for my father to return from his daily script-shopping chores. When he met my father he told him that Na Vern Da Kern was a “seminal work, a freehanded and germinal innovation.” My father said, “Did you like the scene where Sven adds an ‘e’ to his name and becomes Seven?” “I’m sure I will love it all if I get to that part,” Mattsson said, “but for now we have to see how this can be made into a film.” We moved to Stockholm, where Mattsson had offices and we lived in two of the offices. He exposed us to the city’s stage, theater, opera, mime, music and film atmosphere that my father said, “flows through the city like almost done Jell-O.” Our first week in Stockholm, Mattsson circulated a translated version of Na Vern Da Kern to the country’s top directors. They had come to the historic Hotel Diplomat for a filmmaker’s conference. The guest list included Alf Sjoberg, Goren Gentele, Ingmar Bergman, Arne Sucksforff and Hasse Ekman. Each of them read the script, loved parts of it and insisted my father speak at the conference, using a translator. My father realized the speech was a pivotal part of making his dream come true. My mother sewed his old tuxedo together, adding for the weight he had mysteriously
gained during our hunger spell. Mattsson introduced my father and a huge crowd of directors and artists sitting in the largest conference room of the age-old hotel. They all stood up, applauded and roared. As my father waved, the audience response became a din that began to shake the pillars of King Oscar II’s Strandvagen 7, the structure built around 1917 and eventually turned into a hotel. In a matter of moments, as the crowd added foot stomping, a pillar supporting the right side of the room cracked and crumbled. My father shouted, “Watch out!” in English, and the translator then screamed “Watch out!” in Swedish. But it was too late because the right wall (stage left) gave in and in moments most of the directors were trapped under a loft of steel, wood, concrete and dust. There was panic and those who did not feel the weight of the fallen wall ran for exits or sat in a corner to mourn the futility of life. But my father, who had avoided the debris except for being covered by a black curtain that hanged on the wall, did not miss a moment before he asked the translator where he could find a jackhammer. The translator asked the concierge, who produced a jackhammer coincidentally left in the hotel’s Lost And Found. My father ignored the black curtain that donned his head and body and began to use all of his jackhammer skills, pulverizing large blocks of fallen concrete to free the trapped Swedish directors. By the time help arrived, my father had dislodged all of the famous directors from the peril of death by crushing and/or suffocation. The directors heralded my father for the jackhammer expertise that saved their lives. Mattsson said, “Each one will honor him in a film over the next decade.” That, however, was to be the extent of my father’s dream. We returned to America in 1957, as Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Sign was released. A letter from Bergman to my father read: “The image of you in that black hood and cape while your jackhammer rattled through the deadly weight that burdened my colleagues and I was an image that changed the very theme of my movie.” Themes from Na Vern Da Kern are strewn throughout the great Swedish films of the 1950s thanks to my father’s heroism more than due to his questionable writing. In 1980, when my father died, we placed an original 1849 jackhammer from the collection of its inventor, Johathan J. Couch, beside him in the coffin. In his obituary, I said: “If there is any lesson from my father’s life, it is this: It doesn’t matter what you dream to do, you will always make the best impression on mankind doing whatever you do best, even if what you do best is not what you dream to do.”
NEW MUSIC FROM VODSEL: A product of a lifetime immersed in the nascent industrial and electronic scene of the 80s, the playful textures of Neu and Eno, the deadpan profundity of Jarmusch and Kaurismaki and the dark visions of Killing Joke.
The Sound of Nightland available September 23 Click to download this compilation mixing the recent releases with some previously unavailable songs!
Creator of Emotion & Drama Some people are born for music. One of those people is Bruno Miguel, whose musical moniker, :PAPERCUTZ, has been making waves in the world of electronica since 2005. Intricate and well-crafted, :PAPERCUTZ brings something to the world of electronic music that you may not have heard before. In a genre that is too often cold and unfeeling, Bruno creates worlds of emotion and drama within his soundscapes which are only compounded by the dazzling display of the videos to go along with them. Bruno was born to create and we are proud to share his creation as we bring you :PAPERCUTZ. by paula frank
Your latest album, The Blur Between Us, is a concept album dealing with mortality and loss. What was your inspiration? What is “the blur between us”? I did lose older family figures in my life in past years that motivated this work, but it was also inspired from my own friend's life experiences and fiction, movies and books dealing with similar subjects. I was mostly interested in writing and soundtracking what happens when one faces mortality as they lose someone close to them, a father figure of some sort. I didn't want want to be too clear about it just so I could leave some space for the listener's interpretation and empathy with the character. Throughout the album narrative, things that may matter most in one's life come up, like how valuable those close to you are and how you're perceived by others. Human relations end up being the focal point. I believe it's still one of our biggest mysteries that has been fueling centuries of fictional works. I guess in the end you truly know your experience is a very particular one but that should never stop you from trying to figure out what life is all about. That's an amazing feeling that you can never know it all but there's always something new you can learn from yourself
was having this conversation with an older respected musician that sees his music career as various events and releases all tied together, not just an album, but more of an overall vision. I hope that comes across in Your first album, Lylac, gained attention my work as well because it's something I do and won a few awards. Did you feel any try to pursue. pressure after that to live up to a standard of some sort? What growth have As the only “official” member of you gone through since that first album? :PAPERCUTZ, you are solely responsiI tend to be the toughest one on my ble for the direction of the music. What work anyway. There are those who became is this process like for you? When you our faithful listeners who I respect, but in the collaborate with guests on your music, end I have to follow my gut feeling. I'll admit do you already have a plan in place for there's always some kind of anxiety when where you want to go or do you get feedsomething new comes out, but for me it has back and input from those you are workalways been about trusting my instincts and ing with? Alone at first, though I like to start writmoving forward. Growth wise I feel the album is a lot more focused. I did work closely ing music by myself anyway. I have a fond with the album concept so I knew this time feeling for writing creatively at night when it the songs had to sound a lot moodier and feels like time is suspended. Besides, when darker than our first album. All I can hope we end up going to studio, things have to from our listeners is to have some sort of be done to a certain point so I already know open-mindedness when it comes to us what others will be performing, but there's overall, but I usually take it perfectly fine space for some interpretation. I would say when someone mentions preferring a par- that input you mention from others mostly ticular part of our output. And if it still isn't shows up live, so it's a different beast from as good as it could be, fine. In fact I'm hop- the recording. We do all sorts of arrangeing to write a lot of music. Just recently I ments to get through to the audience in the best way possible. I do treasure that a lot because it makes it feel new and exciting even for us. and others. That's why I've been saying the album ends up being a celebration of life, as weird as it might sound, with its somber sounds and lyrics.
Have you ever created a song with a voice already in mind? How do you choose a voice for your music? I would say it's a smart move to take into account the vocal range and the tone of the person you'll be working with. That helps me make some decisions musically, but it's something I feel I'm still refining. There's a fine balance to be met between the instrumentals that I make and the vocals on top, and I can arrange a finished song up to a certain point. I know this balance is something that will take time and experience. I mostly work with a vocalist that will be performing live with me and so far I've met them through other musician friends. When creating your music, do you hear each part in your head before even laying anything down or do you play with the sounds and then gain a sense of direction? How do you go about building each layer? Both, actually. There's definitely a vision of where I want to go that could be resonating in my head musically, or just something you want to emphasize with the lyrics in mind. The end result could be what you first envisioned or sometimes you can let go, focus on some instrument and arrive at a lot more interesting results. Actually, unexpected results can be the best ones. 46 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUEEIGHT SEVEN
“Human relations end up being the focal point. I believe it’s still one of our biggest mysteries that has been fueling centuries of fictional works.”
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Your videos are visual masterpieces and it is difficult for the viewer to tell if it is the music that complements the video or the video that complements the music. Where has the vision for the videos come from? I've worked for years with someone who either does most of our print visuals or helps me choose who I should work with in other areas; kind of our filter/curator. From there I work closely with the director or artists involved (could also be album covers or photo shoots) since I have the bigger picture in mind. Sometimes they already have something in their catalog that is exactly what we're looking for, or we discuss the hell out of the possible outcome. I would say I'm really lucky to have worked with a lot of talented folks and in the end it feels like it's part of the :PAPERCUTZ imaginary. That's why I think the videos could be perceived like that, and if that happens, it means we did good.
way, so we used stock footage. The desert would be a cool dreamy landscape, though I would like to balance huge landscape outdoors videos with something else. Lately I've had a current thing about shooting in an old historical abandoned house...don't ask me why. For The Blur Between Us you worked with acclaimed producer Chris Coady. What did Chris bring to the album that wouldn’t have been there otherwise? How does the New York vibe differ from your home of Portugal? How did you end up blending the two together? I would say he was pretty much essential to get the sound I was looking for. There's a cold, thick sound overall that is his doing. He also helped streamline the songs, cutting a lot of excesses or adding layers that would benefit it. We used a couple of analog synths and vintage gear that he knows exactly how to capture. I love New York because, not unlike my hometown of Porto, it's a cosmopolitan city but with a lot of rough edges. The difference is that there's a great music vibe in NY, from mainstream to underground, that clears up a lot of resistance one might have to mix things up. In fact, you feel a good mix of the world is kind of represented here, the melting pot as they say. Music wise, I would say mostly as a European, we tend to focus on fine details--which is awesome and newness comes from that, but sometimes we do lose focus on the communication part of it. Being in a place where live music is part of their culture, they've nailed that part. I do believe the best comes out when you mix both worlds.
The video for “Rivers” had shots on location from Portugal’s tallest mountain. How do you choose the landscapes to go with your soundscapes? What other cool locations have you shot in? Where would be your dream location for a new video? All landscapes are chosen by the directors since there's technical issues only they know how to address. I did ask Vasco (who shot and directed the 'Rivers' video) for a harsh background because the song is about conquering your inner fears without losing yourself in the process. I really like the wild forest Andy filmed for 'Where Beasts Die'. We had though about capturing wolves on film but it's not an easy thing to do, as one might expect. We called res- You’ve created remixes of your own muervations and all but bureaucracy got in the sic, as well as doing remixes for other
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artists. What do you think remixes can bring to a piece of music? How do you keep a remix unique to itself while also bringing something new to the piece? For me, having had my own work remixed, I think the best thing is to see two musical identities collide. Sometimes it works and sometimes it might not. There's no formula in music to making something unique. Personally I tend to respect the body of work of the artist I'm remixing, but interpret it in my own way. I do make an effort not to repeat myself and hope others do the same regarding my own work. I've been very fortunate about that actually, and worked with a lot of talented producers so far. I'm not good at pumping my own work but I can clearly say we have had some great remixes done for us. I really like our new E.P. remix releases, for instance. You toured for two years following your last album. Will you be touring extensively with this album also? Where can we see you? A couple of things have come up that prompted me back into the studio, like Red Bull Music Academy. In fact I'm currently working on new :PAPERCUTZ songs and a new solo beat driven electronic project that has come up from some of the studio material that wouldn't fit the band, my remix work, the RBMA experience and the months I've spent living in NY, listening and recording new music. What do you have planned for :PAPERCUTZ in the future? Some new songs out in the next couple of months, most likely in the form of an E.P. I know it sounds vague but we work with the labels so I never know exactly when our music is out.
ONAIRTUNES.COM the ultimate music experience
NOBLESSE OBLIGE BY DER EK O’NE A L PH OTOG R A PHS BY THO M AS PETER Stefan Busch & Sandra Th iedeck
photograph by thomas peter
In French, Noblesse Oblige means nobility obliges: the moral obligation of those of high birth or powerful social position to act with honor, kindness, and generosity; whoever claims to be noble must conduct himself nobly; one must act in a fashion that conforms to one’s position and with the reputation that one has earned; noble ancestry constrains to honorable behavior; privilege entails to responsibility. With wealth, power, and prestige come responsibilities and Berlin-based electronic pop band Noblesse Oblige fulfill societal (and musical) obligations with their fourth album, Affair of the Heart, released on Repo Records of Europe on May 24th.
“Affair of the Heart is a romantic journey in the classic sense of the term; our study of human passion from its most uplifting to its gloomiest,” according to the band. Originally from London, French-Caribbean performer Valerie Renay and German producer Sebastian Lee Philipp made a name for themselves in the indie/electro club circuit. The new album was recorded in Chris Corner’s (of Sneaker Pimps and IAMX fame) countryside studio, Turmwerk, where the band was undisturbed by the rest of the world. Noblesse Oblige deliver their most refined work with Affair of the Heart after working with mixing engineers David Wrench and Harald Blüchel to bring a new dimension to their sound. This new dimension includes raw passion, pleasure, and desire. Valerie and Sebastian hope that their energy and emotion is felt and will entice you into their fantasy world.
photograph by thomas peter
You met at a masked ball in London. What costumes were you wearing? Valerie: I was wearing my performance outfit as I was performing an extended stylized orgasm that night. I was in all red 60’s vibe plus a black bob wig. Sebastian wasn’t supposed to be there so he was one of the few people without a costume or mask. Sebastian: I remember feeling completely out of place without a mask, very exposed. It was a bit of an “Eyes Wide Shut” moment.
to be exposed to wonderful new audiences that would understand what we do and gain new fans. Your new album, Affair Of The Heart, was recorded in Chris Corner’s Berlin countryside studio, Turmwerk. Did you first meet Chris when you were on tour with IAMX? Did he make any appearances in the studio while you were working with mixing engineers David Wrench and Harald Blüchel? Valerie: We first met Chris while supporting IAMX on two dates in the UK. He then invited us to go on a European tour with his band. He then offered us his studio/live in factory while he would be away in the US. So he wasn’t around, but his spirit for sure was very present together with some wonderful equipment. Sebastian: David Wrench and Harald Blüchel came into the picture at a later stage. We had reached the limits of what we could achieve with the album’s sound. It was an important move to give it to somebody else. Harald, however, already had a big influence on the recording process because he lent us his Access Virus synthesizer, which we ended up using on every track!
How would you describe your working relationship? What is it like making music with one another? Valerie: Sebastian is my soul mate and we are very close. Living together, we have a very flexible schedule. We can make music or just share ideas at any time day or night. We both have a very eclectic taste in music and refer to many different genres. That’s probably what makes it easy for us to make music together. Our creative process is very organic and follows no specific rules. Sebastian: One of us usually comes up with an initial idea, a riff, or a melody for a song. That initial idea will probably be the main hook of the song. The other one then complements this with a countermelody or an idea for a verse, a harmony, or something Chris also directed the music video for similar. It’s a very democratic process. your first single, “Runaway.” What was it You have shared the stage with artists like like working alongside Chris? Was it his IAMX and The Dresden Dolls. What expe- vision for the video or yours (or a mixture riences have you taken away from per- of the two)? Do you have any plans to collaborate with Chris again in the future? forming with such acts? Sebastian: Working on that video with Valerie: It is amazing to see the level of professionalism those bands put into Chris was a great experience. It actually ended their work. While on tour with the Dresden up being a very smooth, easy shoot. He comDolls, night after night we could hear Aman- pletely gets where we’re coming from musida warming up her voice backstage for cally and visually. He managed to capture that hours. With IAMX, there’s a great attention in a very beautiful way. We all brought ideas to to details. Their sound check is a lengthy the video, but it was Chris’ vision and we knew process. They won’t go on stage until ev- we could completely trust him with that. Valerie: Chris has also asked us to make erything sounds absolutely perfect! In both cases, there was a real musical connec- several remixes for IAMX. Our creative world tion and a spirit in common so it was great and artistic vision feel vey close.
“We need to feel completely free to explore our unconscious mind and throw musical ideas at each other. It might also involve dancing around laughing or talking about the meaning of life or favorite films.”
On your three previous albums, there were songs in both French and German. Is there any reason why you chose not to include a song in German on the new album? Sebastian: In retrospect, I really would have liked to include a song in German on this album. But somehow at the time, it didn’t feel right. All lyrics, with the exception of “Vagabonde,” spontaneously came to us in English. Since Val doesn’t speak German, I would have had to write the lyrics alone, which is something we rarely do. Since your native languages are indeed French and German, what is the idea behind recording in English? Is it to expand your listener base and appeal to a wider audience? Valerie: We met and started the band in London. We speak English together, so it feels more natural to write lyrics in English. I left France such a long time ago. I rarely have the opportunity to speak in my native language. I think and dream in English these days. Sebastian: I also think we are so influenced by 99% of all music around us being sung in English that the language does end up becoming a kind of standard. I have nothing against that because I do think English works very well in Pop music. Your third album, Malady, was influenced by tarot and the writings of Aleister Crowley. What specifically intrigued you about Crowley? Sebastian: I was fascinated by his courage to really delve into things many people wouldn’t dare to touch on. He led a very radical and uncompromising life and I respect him for that. He also wrote beautiful poems and a great book, “Moonchild,” both of which had a big influence on Malady. I never managed to fully connect with his spiritual and theoretical teachings and magic. I do feel the magic in his writings and in the work of people he has influenced such as Kenneth Anger, Donald Cammell, etc. On your new album, what was the inspiration behind your chilling cover of the Eagles’ classic, “Hotel California?” Is there a mutual love for the Eagles between you? Sebastian: Val absolutely hates The Eagles with a vengeance and it took me a long time to convince her to record a cover version. I’m not an Eagles fan, but “Hotel California” has always intrigued me. I remember in school during religion classes we actually talked about the song and its supposed satanic background so that song always stuck with me as something scary and intriguing. I just thought it would be interesting to cover such a famous song and really change its atmosphere. Edwin Brienen initially asked me to record a version of the song for his radio play about Anton Lavey. From there I 56 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE EIGHT
photograph by Stefan Busch & Sandra Thiedeck
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developed it with Valerie until it became a long walks through the woods. Noblesse Oblige version. What would you describe as the highlight Affair Of The Heart will be supported by of your musical career so far? live shows around Europe. Do you have Valerie: The most exciting thing was any plans to tour the United States? probably our trips to Brazil playing to audiValerie: We so far have no plans of tour- ences who knew our songs so well they would ing the US even though it is, of course, a big sing along! Receiving the Steppenwolf Award dream of ours! There is a very European qual- for best foreign band at the televised award ity to Noblesse Oblige, musically and aes- ceremony in Moscow was also a very special thetically, that luckily seems to also appeal thing for us. to the US market, but North America is a bit of a monster. Everything is on a bigger scale What are your favorite music artists at the compared to Europe where it is so easy to moment? What albums have you been travel around. spinning lately? Valerie: Austra is great. I also love the My favorite song from the new album is new Tricky album and Tearz for Animals by track seven, “The Seventh Wave.” What CocoRosie (ft. Antony Hegarty). are your personal favorites? Sebastian: There are so many great artSebastian: I’m happy you like “The ists out there at the moment. It’s hard to keep Seventh Wave!” That song is new territory for up with all new releases. I quite enjoyed the us because I don’t think we ever did anything new Jon Hopkins album and I also like what that’s so slow. My favorite songs change Gesaffelstein does. depending on what mood I am in, but “Voices in My Head” will always feel like a special What color are your auras? song to me. I also think “Vagabonde” really Sebastian: I’ve not seen it yet. I’d love stands out and from a producer’s point of to though. view. I’m very happy with the way it sounds. Valerie: Hopefully it includes every color Valerie: Whenever I hear the beginning of the rainbow! of “Burn,” my spirits are lifted and I want to get up and dance. “Voices in My Head” always And for the cliché: if you both were strandgives me goose bumps. It feels so intimate ed on a desert island, what three items and dreamy. could you not live without? Considering that When writing music and lyrics, what is you could play music on this island, what three albums could you not live without? your ideal songwriting atmosphere? Sebastian: Items: Antiseptic wipes, the Valerie: We usually work very late complete work of Friedrich Nietzsche, and a through the night till the early hours drinking dark rum and smoking cigarettes. We need knife. Albums: Mike Oldfield – Crises, NEU! to feel completely free to explore our uncon- – NEU!2, Richard Wagner – Der Ring des scious mind and throw musical ideas at each Nibelungen. Valerie: Items: Anti-mosquito cream, other. It might also involve dancing around laughing or talking about the meaning of life sunblock, and matches. Music: “Don Giovanni” by Mozart. Joy Division’s complete work. or favorite films. Sebastian: It’s always just the two of Massive Attack Blue Lines. us. Come to think of it, we’ve never worked with another person in the room. It’s a very What does the future have in store for intimate atmosphere. We need to be on the Noblesse Oblige? Valerie: We’re happy to explore new tersame wavelength in order for things to work and to be productive. Turmwerk Studios was ritories literally by playing live gigs, but also a perfect retreat for the production of this opening up our horizon by experimenting in album. It’s outside the city and there wasn’t different areas like making soundtrack, colmuch else to do except recording and taking laborative performances, or production.
when sounds become words
by paula frank
Bombee is a band that has everything you could want and more. Having paved their musical journey with stepping stones in everything from acoustic to hip-hop, Bombee has arrived on a sound that is all them. Electronic beats that move your body, luscious lyrics that move your heart, and haunting melodies that tie it all together are the hallmark of what makes Bombee special and in a class all their own. From Germany to the world, we bring you Bombee.
Your new EP is almost ready to be released. Did anything surprise you in the creation of the EP? What are the most interesting new sounds you’ve brought to the music? We wouldn’t call it surprising. The songs have been written during a long period of time which was followed by the production process. The whole creation all in all took more than one year. For us, the making of the record was more like a step-bystep work than an unexpected progress of events. This time we particularly focused on gathering of the sound itself. The very first step, microphones, preamps, rooms and the different ways to use it, turned out to be much more important than every step we could do with the computer. This almost classic way of recording sounds is determinative of the sound design of the contemporary Bombee. You have had several guest appearances on your albums. Who did you work with on this new EP? Do you ever write a song having a guest in mind or do the guest ideas come later as you consider who could bring a special touch to the music? On the upcoming EP we worked again with Markus Altmann who is an outstanding cellist with fresh ideas. Moreover Toni Niemeier lent us his unique voice for one song. And there’s Marcel Römer who recorded some drum tracks in his studio for us. At the end of the production process our friend TiKay One joined us to participate in the final mixing. Usually the basic song idea comes first and after that we think about the guest appearances. But the songs definitely grow with its musicians. Every ingredient has its influence on the final result. Alexander and Philipp, it seems Bombee first began as a friendship between you. How did that friendship develop into making music together? Does the creative process ever test your friendship? Indeed, it does! All the time. Playing in a band together is like a romantic relationship. A combination of good and difficult moments full of disagreements, compromises and stubbornness. At the end everything is fine but the road is often paved with these different opinions. The different points of view lead to an interesting tension in the music. And of course they also affect our relationship. Felix, you are the newest permanent member of Bombee. What do you feel you have brought to the band that has enhanced it? What is the best part of working with Alexander and Philipp? Mainly I had quite different views of drum sounds, rhythms and song structures at the beginning. Before I started participat-
ing in the band I always felt like the sound of Bombee should be more loose. Basically I brought different ideas and another point of view in the band. A great thing of working together with Philipp is that he has a terrific knowledge of technical issues which is way better than mine. He is able to figure out what it needs to make a sound proper and how to record it. It's also great that we're pushing each other permanently in several ways. We complement each other in a healthy way. To work with Alex is always exciting. Mostly it takes just a few moments until he catches the vibe of a new idea. I'm always curious about how he interprets the melodies Philipp and I recorded before. And it’s also exciting to make music with Alex because recording often means some kind of struggle between me and him. But our different opinions lead always to a great result in the end. I think we simply need some tension. What is your creative process as a band? Do you all come up with ideas together or is one person the base and the rest the building blocks? A lot of songs were built of very basic and short ideas we had. This pieces are put together, stretched, cut up and rearranged by Felix and Philipp. At some time a rough structure can be created and Alex comes in. Based on his ideas the song is rearranged and edited again. This process is sometimes repeated several times until we’re satisfied. That’s pretty much it. Sometimes this procedure takes ages (i.e. the oldest song was the last one we were able to finish), and the other time the first loops are very close to what it will sound like at the end. Germany is a hot spot for many different styles of music. How do you take that surrounding environment and channel it into what you do with Bombee? Who are some of your favorite bands to listen to and do you find that influencing your sound at all or can you keep it separate? We couldn’t say we’re directly influenced by a specific band or style of music. But of course we’re influenced by the things around us. We all listen to a lot of different music and when we meet everybody brings in his own sight of view. Probably there are only a few bands we all are in agreement. Charles Bradley, Woodkid and Kendrick Lamar, to name some of the artists we all enjoy lately. But probably these common
likes are not really an influence for Bombee. We couldn’t name a German band that influences our sound. But besides that, the town we’re from has possibly some oddities. We’re not confronted with a variety of creativity compared to Berlin. Which is good. It helps to reflect on ourselves. You add a couple of people for your live shows, namely Anneke Bird and Markus Altmann. How do you work with them to create your live performances? Actually we decided to go back to the basics. On the upcoming tour we will perform as a trio. A vocalist, one who taps away at the keys and plays some bass guitars and a drummer. Very basic. Maybe we’ll add some people in the future. Last time we talked to you, you were working on incorporating a live drum set into your shows. How’s that going? Currently we’re actually rehearsing the whole set with the drum set which is a real challenge. It sometimes feels like remixing the songs. The result is sometimes like a reinterpretation of the actual song. We really appreciate having clean studio versions of a song on the one hand but on the other
“Every ingredient has its influence on
hand creating a more powerful version of the same track for live use. How do you feel your music and style have grown since you first began? Do you have any songs in the vault that you wouldn’t want anyone to hear? We see our past records as an essential requirement. It’s part of the way we necessarily had to go. The broken down acoustic sound of the first days, the electronic Parallels album, as well as the heavy stuff, the hiphop projects and the experimental electronic music each and every one of us was involved in before were bricks to get to the sound we have today. But generally it’s always the same: when a new record is finished we’re convinced all the stuff we did before was total crap. We guess this will change this time but let’s wait and see. You’ll be touring with the new music. Describe for us your perfect gig. A “perfect gig” is most likely not linked to a minimum number of people. It’s rather related to an audience that enjoys just the music. People that merge with the sound. That’s the main thing – giving and receiving.
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A Documentree: The Story of Treeman by kath y creig hton Ph otographs by SLenh ard Photograph y
mich ael angelo films
ÂŠ S L en h ard P h otograph y
ichael Angelo is a videographer from Los Angeles who has done his time in the major film studio world. His biography on IMDB includes some well-known movies that he has worked on doing visual and digital effects. Over time Angelo felt the need to give back and to add “director” to his resume. Stepping away from the corporate world, he set out to help lesser known artists by shooting 3-10 minute documentaries and circulating them, mainly via the internet. He started with his “neighbor” Arthur Moore, a painter who lived in the alley behind his place. The Hammer Museum had featured Arthur in their “The Art of Funky Pussy” exhibit. Moore paints cats in crazy poses along with his own versions of the Mona Lisa and other characters. Michael was pleased with the result and was ready for his next project.
Angelo decided he wanted to turn his lens on another acquaintance, Lionel Powell, who is better known as the “Treeman of Venice Beach”. Powell is a stilt walker whose character is a tree. They were already friendly so Michael was sure he could make the project work. His vision was one of a short film, but things began to change quickly. After literally running down the beach to find “Tree” and discuss the idea, the two began spending more time together--95% of it just socializing and only 5% working on the film. The deepening friendship however, was expanding the possibilities the film could become. As things
progressed, Michael discovered that Lionel’s daughter Krystle was a singer/ songwriter and had a wonderful song about her father. She was immediately added to the mix. However, Angelo hit an impasse when he reached approximately thirty minutes of edited footage. Already he saw that this documen-tree could be something to be entered into a film festival. The problem was that most festivals either accept ten-minute shorts or full-length features of seventy minutes or longer. At that point Angelo had accomplished two major milestones. He had begun releasing trailers which he called
© mic h ael angelo films
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© S L en h ard P h otograp h y
“tree-views” and he had added Powell’s daughter’s music. The third and probably largest element of the process was added when Powell traveled back to his home in Brooklyn to celebrate Earth Day in New York and to visit with family and friends. Michael really wanted to spend some time in NY with Lionel in the hopes that there would be sufficient material to make a full-length film. Already challenged by the lack of budget and volunteers dropping by the wayside, he finally justified making the trip. It was worth it. Lionel took Michael to his childhood home, the Marcy Projects, and it was watching “Tree” in that environment that Michael knew he would get all the footage he needed and then some. Over the next few days they would see one of Lionel’s teachers in Queens, visit with the kids at Trey Whitfield School — where Michael did a screening of the trailer, have an 68 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE EIGHT
encounter with children in a Hasidic neighborhood, and the list went on and on. Prior to meeting both “Tree” and Michael in Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, I was given the opportunity to have some time with just Lionel and observe “Tree” in the wild, so to speak. I ran into him at Metro Tech Plaza in Brooklyn. There was a lot to process and admire from the very first moment. “Treeman” blended into the park in the center of the plaza. It’s something he has a lot of fun with wherever he goes. He calls them “tree awakenings”. People pass by and don’t notice until he speaks which usually surprises them. Most laugh. Some are frightened until they realize what they are experiencing. Out in the open, he immediately attracts attention. Children especially gravitate to him. He is a kind and gentle soul with a message about taking care of nature and therefore our-
selves, which he shares with everyone. He is a great teacher for our young. A few days later, it was more of the same as people noticed the moving tree in the park. He played right along with the children gathered around a street performer who was making giant soap bubbles and posed for pictures with park regulars and tourists before sitting down to talk. Lionel started his career as a performance artist when he was in his 30s. He has worked with New Visions Cirque and Dance, Universal Studios and Disney along with many small cirques while creating his own unique characters. One of his earliest originals was a spider couple known as Spydek and Spindra. With Jessica Pierce taking on the female character, they entered two different contests. The first one, Jessica won $4000 and Lionel won the second one, taking home $2000. Another of his characters, T.I.N. — Technological Intergalactic Navigator, actually made a brief on-screen appearance in Will Smith’s movie Hancock. Lionel thanks his grandmother for teaching him to sew as a child, which has helped not only turn out these characters and Treeman but also a scarecrow, a cat and Dar-the stargirl from afar. Lionel’s time with Disney included being a member of the premiere cast/staff of Disney World (Orlando) Animal Kingdom and its show “Festival of The Lion King” which was a baby sister to the Broadway production of The Lion King. Powell shared how members of the two casts made the trips from NY to FL to see and play in each other’s shows. Along his journey, Powell has worked with members of Cirque Du Soleil and other well-known circus-type shows. He has taught people how to walk on “the big shoes”. Student Lynn Sky appeared on the cover of Mademoiselle Magazine with Sarah Jessica Parker. Fellow New Dimensions member Garrett Lauer was another beneficiary of Powell’s tutelage. Today Lauer runs his own events company that still uses cirque elements. Lionel started working on the character that is now The Treeman about ten years ago. Once Powell arrived in L.A., “Tree” really took on a life of his own. Today The Treeman feels that Mother Nature has set him on this path and although he’ll never be the biggest tree in the forest, he is a unique, natural phenomenon like every other living thing on this planet. He explains to people their importance in creation and creating. He mentioned that it is the person at the center of the hula-hoop that provides the force that causes it to twirl, and a human breath that produces the sounds from a flute. We are responsible for taking care of ourselves as well as the Earth. Spending time with both film-maker and
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© m i c h a e l a n g e lo f i l m s
subject, one sees the bonding of these two. Treeman’s message is about man’s part in nature. He has the wisdom of the ages and yet the heart of a child. He is so purely innocent. Michael is also in sync with his inner child while maintaining the required seriousness to make this film something very special. Both of them long to share their art with other artists as well as audiences. Michael hopes to find more creators to spotlight with his films, while Lionel envisions rounding up all his performance arts friends and doing some kind of annual tour. They each brought some of the California arts culture to New York and will also share their Big Apple experiences with the folks back in Venice Beach. Sometimes they are the yin to other’s yang, whether it’s Michael trying to hurry Lionel up or Lionel making Michael stop to smell the flowers. Eventually, all the footage for “A Documen-tree” will have been shot, edited and “put in the can” ready for its unveiling to the world. It won’t be the end for Michael and Lionel, though. They are intertwined at the heart and the soul and will continue to create and share.
Michael Angelo Films www.michaelangelofilms.com Treeman www.adocumentree.com © m i c h a e l a n g e lo f i l m s
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E v e r y S u n d ay From the Underground w w w. t h e f a b u l o u s d s h o w. c o m
e p o H d n a n o i s Vi
b y paula frank
There once was a man who had a vision that the world could be changed and made better by music, by good energy, by love. His name was Randy Perrone and he surrounded himself with brothers who shared this passion. Together, they called themselves ZamaPara. They mixed together incredible acoustic guitar riffs, layers of drum sounds, interesting melodies, life-changing lyrics and tossed in a bit of that New Orleans spice to release their debut album, Peace of Mind. The story of ZamaPara took a turn for the worse in February when Randy passed away due to complications in removing a brain tumor. Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Randy’s vision, hope, and passion to get the music and message out into the world live on in the remaining members of ZamaPara. Having just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, ZamaPara is set to record their next album with Randy’s voice and spirit at their side. We are truly honored, humbled, and thrilled to be a part of spreading the message and story of ZamaPara to the world. After all, this story of Randy Perrone and ZamaPara carries on with love, peace, and hope and those are the best stories of all. Bandmember Michael Wheat shares the continuing story with us.
ZamaPara seems to be a band of truly kindred spirits with a common cause and like-mindedness. Would you consider yourselves a band of soul mates? How did you all find each other? I definitely feel that ZamaPara is that way. I know I was always looking for a band like this to be a part of. You learn something from every musician you jam with; it’s not often that you learn a way of looking at the world when you plug your guitar in an amp. When you join something that is bigger than yourself, you know it, and that’s the way it is with ZamaPara. To use a cliché: “You never really know you’re lost until you’ve been found.” That’s what I think we all were. We all found each other. Rip invited me to audition for ZP when they were looking for a lead guitar player and it immediately felt like a band of brothers. I was coming from another band that had a revolving door of players, and whenever we got together it was work going over the same songs over and over again with the new musicians, and I was losing my passion for music. Joining and playing with Randy and ZamaPara was a revelation and made me believe in the healing power of music again. Playing music is a continuing source of therapy to get 74 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUEEIGHT SEVEN
you through certain stages in life, but with the right players it can be more than that. It can lift you up. With ZamaPara, you are a part of something like that. Randy was one of those people that you are drawn to. He was our leader, best friend, and band mate and he will always be there with us. Where does the name ZamaPara come from? It comes from Sanskrit and it means eternal peace. You suffered a huge loss in February with the passing of Randy. Were there ever any doubts about continuing on with the vision in his absence? What keeps you going and the dream alive? Randy sat the band down and had many one on one talks with us too about his vision and his wishes in case he passed away. Very emotional conversations. He always had this amazing peace in his heart about everything. He made us promise and pledge to him to keep his dream and mission alive. His goal was to record 50 songs with himself and click track so we could continue to record and to document and to get the music out into the world. He was only
able to record 12 songs, so he gave us his approval to find other lead singers to finish up the recordings and to keep ZamaPara going. Whatever it takes, he wanted his message to get out and be heard. What keeps us going? I would say each band member has his own Randy story of what makes that connection so forever strong. For me, it was his smile when playing music together. When the band was jamming and we are going all out, he always had this infectious grin, a smile as wide as the Long Island Expressway. That energy, that bonding moment along with the promise to keep this going is what inspires me to keep that “dream alive.” Randy is woven throughout every song on the album and to listen to the music is to get a glimpse of a truly beautiful spirit. What would you most like the world to remember about him? He was a kindhearted soul that believed in the power of overcoming hardships with a smile on your face, that positive energy can get you through. We had a “leave it all behind” ethic to band practice. He was working 10-14 hours a day for a long time and he always had the biggest passion for play-
ing music and leaving work troubles and life troubles at the door. He wanted to be a positive influence on the world and to embrace life and make things better. What has been the most challenging part of the last few months as you take steps forward? The pain of missing him. It’s definitely harder without him. (I’m laughing when writing this — understatement). Keeping the band together; everyone is hurting, everyone mourns, everyone heals at different speeds. In order to keep Randy’s vision alive we have to stay focused and keep moving forward. There are so many things we need to accomplish. It’s easy to get sidetracked. Sometimes we feel he is right here with us and sometimes he feels far away. But our goal never wavers. The positive spirit of ZamaPara is evident in your interaction as well as in the music. What fuels this positive outlook? Do you all make a conscious effort to spread this positivity to the world? Again, back to Randy’s outlook. That is the true spirit of ZamaPara. Every one of us has had many hardships and troubles in life. I believe in the power of music and to hold fast to the belief of “us” or a positive outlook. We talked about this, about the power of good. Good things come from good things, to put it simply. Even though some of the songs tackle heavier issues, they all seem to come from a place of personal responsibility and hope for change. What do you think is the most important thing that each of us can do individually to make the world a better place? Randy wrote this before his surgery: “So tonight I lay my head down and tomorrow starts a new day for me. I have been absolutely blessed and humbled by everyone praying for me, thinking about me, and wishing the best for me and my family. It’s incredible to see such a great force of positivity and spiritual asking for me; just some person who happens to be living and breathing amongst everyone else. I believe your destiny is in the hands of your own outlooks, spirits, and thoughts of how it’s supposed to be. I am so grateful that it is me who has what I have and not anyone else that I love and care for so much. When you go to sleep tonight, make sure you tell your family that you love them, your kids, your friends, even new strangers turned friends how much they mean to you. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, today is what we live. Many thanks to everyone and much love!!” — Randy
How does ZamaPara accomplish this as a band? By continuing on, showing the world through actions, not words. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the struggle to carry on and how you act through it; your grace during hardships defines you. We can create songs and honor Randy so that they can take a life of their own, and connect with other people through music. That connection with people is what Randy and ZP are looking for. That is what can and will last forever.
to them as well. We also have dueling percussion players to create that fat backbeat that many bands here have. The best thing about New Orleans is the freedom to play music of any style. No one judges you down here. We all fly our freak flag in New Orleans.
Tell us about a typical jam session. How do you all work together as a band? If we are in jam mode, normally Rip starts a funk riff and then we all join in and we free jam on that for a bit. Rip and I (Michael Wheat) have been playing with each other for years and years so we know each other well New Orleans hosts a slew of musi- and we can lay down the vibe for everyone to cal genres and sounds. How has the jump on board. Then we just followed Randy’s “Nawleanz” magic made its way into the lead on changes. ZamaPara sound? What is the best thing about making music in “The Big Easy”? Who’s late for every rehearsal? It was ever Randy because we always Many NOLA bands have this free jam mentality and our live shows have that flavor jammed in his living room! ISSUE ISSUESEVEN EIGHT
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get from your live shows that nobody else can give them? What do you do to unwind after a gig? That driving to a percussionist beat along with Randy’s amazing acoustic guitar playing, Rip’s groove bass and my layering guitar, along with Randys’ heartfelt smooth vocals. No other band sounds like ZamaPaIf I were to visit New Orleans, which mu- ra. To unwind we always toast to each other. sical hot spots would I not want to miss? Is there a particular song that you can What makes them special? Frenchman St: there are about seven just let loose on when you play it live? I’m sure we each have our fave song, bars that play music, many restaurants, outside art and all within three blocks. You but I always thought we played Master always run into friends there and can sit in Blaster by Stevie Wonder and our song with other musicians too. But it is the place Beautiful Riddance with a little more mustard than some of the others… to go to see multiple live music shows. Who’s responsible for food? Randy came from an Italian family so he was always very gracious about putting in a frozen pizza or providing snacks to the band — always ccoming from a place of love, always with a smile and he always asked if we needed anything.
You’ve been able to play some of the great- What is the greatest wonder of the world? est spots in the city. What do your fans One Love.
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Do all the tourists get annoying during Mardi Gras? Mardi Gras is like the crazy uncle, you are happy to see them come and happy to see them go. Where do you hope the next part of the journey takes you? We just has a successful Kickstarter campaign to record all the unfinished material that we have been working so very hard on for the last two years. I feel that these songs are the best we have done and we can’t wait to show the world Randy’s last recording, and to complete the songs that we have been pouring our love into over this time. Stay tuned for more details…
by Darya teese w ell
The Queen Mary show lounge was not terribly crowded; normal for a Friday in August in 2002. I was in a short black halter dress, suspender fishnet stockings and four-inch heeled boots: a fairly subdued outfit for me back then. I was wearing my favorite red wig, which patiently tolerated my endless torturing to wear it in a messy up-do, as I did tonight. I’d had time to paint my nails a dark red, and my MAC lipstick in “Carnal” matched them perfectly. A quick spray of Chanel on my wrists and the nape of my neck and I was ready. I was open to anything that night; relaxed and on my own.
t was early by the Queen clock, only 10:30 PM. Lots of girls were still home fussing over their second eyelash and working on their third drink. I had been catching up with Laurie, my favorite barmaid, who supported my sobriety by supplying me with diet cokes for the price of a generous tip. Some misguided soul had put Sinatra on the jukebox, so I crossed the empty dance floor and went out the door to the back patio to smoke. I had never smoked until I put on a dress, and had years of suppressed adolescent badness to get out. A tall guy sat down smoothly next to me on the low bench and lit my Virginia Slim 120. I use to love that come-hither moment after a feminine exhale when I looked a man straight in the eye and said “thanks.” He was as tall as I was, even in my heels, I guessed. Gorgeous blue eyes. “My pleasure, Sweetheart. My name is Ray.” I held my hand out; “Darya…” He kissed my beringed right hand. “Nice to meet you.” The men who admire women of trans history are an uneven bunch. Most of them stand there in the bar and do nothing, often because they wish they were one of us, and because they are overloaded with cultural baggage, fear and social retardation. A guy who talks to you is mentionable; a guy who puts the moves on you with some grace and skill immediately stands away from the herd. Ray was from Chicago, here for a healthcare conference. He liked my smile and my green eyes; “It looks like you don’t take yourself too seriously” . I laughed; “Well you’d better take me seriously…” He said he did. That became clear within a few minutes. I soon was following him out the alley entrance to the parking lot. The security guy glared at me, and I glared back. The management had a constant crusade against parking lot quickies, and that’s what the guy with the flashlight thought was about to happen. Instead, I got in my car, Ray got into his, and we left the guard behind. Ray was staying at the Mikado, on Riverside. The Mikado was the Taj Mahal of late night nearby tryst motels. The Carlton smelled like curry combined with fresh paint and the Park smelled like pine disinfectant and had cockroaches the size of cats. Both had squeaky beds. It was Santa-Ana dry, cricket-loud midsummer in Los Angeles, and decent air conditioning would feel good. Ray opened the door for me, and a quick kiss we’d exchanged at the QM escalated to deep tonguing and his hands cupping my ass before the door closed behind us. I’m a big girl, and being engulfed by a big guy really gets my juices flowing; I was quickly his. The king size bed had already
been turned down, since this was a Best Western, and soon our clothes were off, though I retained my crotchless fishnets, on request. We both seemed to know how to please each other instinctively, as if we had been making love to each other on a regular basis; I fantasized that I was his kept woman. In the heat of passion, he stopped and looked at me with those blue eyes: “Do you know how beautiful you are?” I was speechless, and I felt myself melting into him. He really knew how to make love to a woman like me, using his lips, hands, those blue eyes and what nature gave him. I couldn’t remember the last time I had climaxed at the same time as a lover, but we did, and I had a shuddering full body orgasm. I found myself hoping he’d impregnated me, because I wanted to have his babies. We collapsed in breathless, post-coital ecstasy. I snuggled up next to him and rested my head on his hairy chest. These were moments I loved best with a man; breathless, peaceful, vulnerable. I’m sure my wig was a fright; I was just happy the bobby pins had held, and I hadn’t lost it. I don’t miss having sex wearing a wig. “Can I ask you something?” He asked. I kissed his chest, and traced my finger around his nipple. “Anything…” “You know you’re a girl don’t you? You know you’re the real thing?” “I guess…what do you mean…?” I was pretty sure I knew, but I wanted to hear this. “I’ve had sex with crossdressers, before, but you aren’t like them…after they get off, they’re pretty much done..”. He held me closer and kissed me lightly on the lips. “You shine in the afterglow…the intimacy… that’s what women do.” The air conditioner hummed. A woman laughed distantly and someone dropped a bottle by the pool downstairs. “You’re married, huh?” I knew he was. “Yes. So are you, unless I miss my guess” I giggled. Busted. “Ray…what do you like about girls like us?” “There aren’t many like you….” “You know what I mean…” “You are so passionate...intelligent… funny...and there’s something so fresh, honest and new about all of you…” I laughed out loud. “We lie on a daily basis, most of us…” “So do the rest of us, sweetheart. But right this second, you aren’t lying about anything, are you?” I’d never thought of it that way. We spent a long time snuggling, kissing and playing before discussing the reckoning we both knew was coming. I had to
leave and he had to get up fairly early. He suggested we take a shower together; I happened to have my other clothes in the car, so I slipped on my dress and stepped out of the door. It was only a few degrees cooler; still hot, and the freeway roared a few hundred feet away as I opened up my shabby little Chevy and took out some shorts, a t-shirt and worn flip-flops. A couple was staring at me a few cars over. I turned and stared back. They looked away and I slipped back into the room. My own hair was long and graying, now freed from a wig cap, transpore tape and bobby pins. I had a little baby oil in my purse to act as makeup remover on nights like this, and I’d finish washing my face in the shower with him. I was stripped of my feminine weaponry, but Ray still held me like his hot girlfriend. We washed and soaped each other, kissed, groped and when the water was shut off we’d both climaxed again. I gathered up my pile of girlish things, gave him a long kiss and we exchanged email addresses and cell phone numbers we’d never use. I left the windows open on the drive west to the white-flight suburbs; the Chevy’s air conditioning had been as sporadic as my employment as a camera operator. The sky was getting lighter, as it often was at 3:45 a.m. “Music of the Spheres” came on KCRW; music from the Renaissance. Mara Zhelutka started out with a spare, lute-heavy version of “Fortuna Desperata” and I was very much in that moment. The coolest air of the day rushed over my face; I smelled the dry, sagey spice of Chaparral as I crested the Calabasas grade. My body was tired, depleted and sated. I’d have to take my nail polish off at the house, not the first time. We lived in a 3200 square foot McMansion we’d bought in more optimistic, drunken times, times when I was younger and trying desperately to kill the thoughts in my head about being female with work and alcohol. My wife, ancient Piscean soul that she is, accepted my personal upheaval with a long and tolerant view; as long as I kept working on some level and being good to our children she went with the flow. There were flashpoints, but we always managed to return to equilibrium that I now understand as living life teaching me about love what the culture could not. Our collie-shepherd mix greeted me with wagging tail as I walked in. I scrubbed my nails semi-clean in the downstairs bath, washed my face again, and went up the stairs to our bedroom. My wife as sleeping, but stirred as I slipped in. “Dirty stay out” she said. I kissed her and we both lay down to sleep. ISSUE ISSUESEVEN EIGHT
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BY SER EN A BUTLER
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On calm, cool, and clear nights, many of us look to the sky and point out the brightness of the stars. For the UK based rockers, Stellify, it’s clear that their future is written in the stars. Composed of James Howlett, Carlos Dittborn, Richard Costello, and Tim McNichol the guys of Stellify have come to know that there is much more beyond the sky. Their limit goes much higher. 2013 has marked a year of transformation in the band and luckily we have had a chance to discuss that with lead singer James on what we can expect from the band’s new look and feel. It’s only a matter of time until the guys of Stellify earn their place among the stars. You have a new single that you’ve been working on. What can you tell us about it? How do you think this one compares or contrasts from the last one? The new single has taken on a more rock/blues sound than our previous releases. The production is still very much in the same vein as our last release but I think it's got more of a classic rock sound to it. I was listening to a lot of BRMC at the time of recording, so I think some of the production and effects on their records influenced this single a little. Overall I think "Hide" is more what we are about. Big, bold and immediate. We've got a recognisable sound now that people are begging to love. We're constantly being told how unique we sound (in a good way, obviously). You can see from our first EP, The Exhale, right up to this new release how we've grown and settled into what we do best. If you listen to all three releases in chronological order, you can literally hear us progressing into what you hear now. You’ve played your latest song “Hide” live a couple of times. How has it really evolved since those live shows now that it’s recorded? What’s the background behind the making of the song and what does it mean to you as a songwriter? To be honest I don't think it has changed that much at all. "Hide" was one one of those songs that just fell into place as we wrote it. By the time it came to recording not much had really changed with it. The reaction we had when playing "Hide" live for the first time was huge, which is why it was an obvious choice for us to release as a single. I've always been a big fan of blues and I think you can hear that in most of our stuff, but for this I really wanted to capture that sound with my twist on it. So I started play82 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUEEIGHT SEVEN
ing and writing in "open G". This opened up a whole new world of sounds and playing for me, so "Hide" was really a product of that. To me this track means a lot. It's taken us, as a band, in a direction that we are all very comfortable with and we all feel like we've really hit our sound now. To me as a song writer, this song is about perseverance. We've had some pretty tough times as an unsigned band. It's an excruciatingly tough road to travel, but it's about dusting yourself off and going in stronger than before. "Hide" means lying low, getting yourself together and then hitting it head on with everything you've got. Speaking about song writing, what was the approach you took to writing this single? How do you really come up with the music? How does it feel for you to actually be hands-on in the production versus using songwriters etc? Well, as always we try to keep things as minimal as possible. It's a bit of a cliché but less is more. Once we're happy with a new song we then go back over it and start taking out any ballast. If there's too much going on, it just weighs the track down. So with that in mind we set out to write a single that was immediate and heartfelt. "Scars", for example, is the closest we've come to a ballad, but we've kept it simple and because of that the emotional gravity of the song shines through without having to push it. We have also had a change in bassists so that has added to our new direction and sound. Writing is a bit weird really as we don't always use the same format. Both myself and Richard write so there's always ideas, little riffs and melodies floating around. Some of these are played out in the studio with the band and we'll all just go with it and see where it takes us. Other times I'll write
by myself and bring a whole song to the table, and we'll all work on it until its structure and sound is where we want it. I think that's why it's important for us all to be involved in the whole process. It's what makes the Stellify sound. Without everyone's influence and their own playing styles, it would just be four session musicians in a room making very bland music. So far, there haven’t been many music videos as the band hasn’t been around for too long. Can we expect more music videos from you guys out in the future? Any plans for releasing a video for “Hide”? If so, what do you have in the works?
Videos are such an important part of a band's artillery. We all wished we could have one for every single track we release but our budget as a self maintained band can only go so far. We are, however, working on a video for “Hide” as we speak! I'd love to tell you more but you'll just have to wait and see. This time around you have announced you’re working with the talented Dave Pemberton (The Prodigy, Groove Armada, Supergrass). How did you get his attention to work on this album with you guys? Is there anything about Dave’s work that drew you to him? In what manner are you using his talents this time around?
We threw a massive wad of cash at him and he just hit the record button! No, seriously, I've been lucky enough to work with Dave previously on other music projects so we've built up a rapport over the years. He worked with us on our previous single "The Rebel" and he instinctively knew the sound and direction we were after. He uses a lot of old school methods to get the right sounds out of all the instruments. It's amazing watching him work. Because of that he was our natural first choice for the new recording. His mixing and production skills are second to none. It's an easy process with him involved, so it means as a band we just need to concentrate on getting our bits
down while he does all the technical stuff. Once recorded we leave it with him and he'll get all the first mixes done and add his own touch on things. Once that's done we'll go back to the studio and sit in on the final mixing process so everything is as we want it to sound. Once that's done it's then mastered and, voila! Since your last release you guys have had a bit of an image re-launch with a “darker” (for lack of a better term) look to the group since last time. What spurred on that change? How do you think image will help market Stellify to the world? I think it's all to do with the music and the direction we want to take. We found ISSUE ISSUESEVEN EIGHT
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ourselves referencing bands like the Dead Weather and The Black Keys to get into that more rock and blues mind set. With that we looked at our image and decided it was time to embrace our more rock and roll side so it was off with the peacoats and brogues, on with the leather jackets and boots. It's important to have the whole package when you're trying to make your way in this industry. The collars have to match the cuffs! I think people buy into a band's image almost as much as they do the music. They both go hand in hand and always have done. Fashion follows music and viceversa. Image is such a big part of a band's branding. It's almost as important and 84 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUEEIGHT SEVEN
unique as the music itself. You have to have both to make any kind of lasting impression. Our main market and fanbase is in the U.S. and I think what we have in terms of image, sound and attitude caters to that perfectly. You’ve noted to us that you guys are trying to steer away from the typical “Brit Pop” label as you seem more influenced by US rock. What is it about the label that you don’t find yourselves connected to? What is it about US rock that you find most influential? I think in all honesty it's just lazy journalism. "They're from London and they play in a rock and roll band. We'll label them under Brit pop". Yes, we are influenced by that
scene and to be put under that umbrella is a real compliment, but I don't think that's what we're about. I think we do have a slight British nod to our music but you can hear a massive American rock and roll influence that dominates our entire sound. U.S. rock has been a huge influence on my musical preferences since I was a teenager. It's only natural it should come out in my writing and playing. The rock scene in America is still going strong compared to over here. We've recently had a nice surge of rock and roll hit the isles with recent releases from the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age, BRMC and even our boys the Arctic Monkeys, but other than that, it's pretty milky.
Yeah, it's something I've always been interested in but never really thought I had the skill to pull it off. Then one day a few months back during the winter I just thought, "Fuck it. I'm gonna sit down and play around with this until I come up with something good." And that's what I did. Bringing it to the table was a fairly simple transition. The other guys are great musicians so they picked it up instantly. Although, Richard used to get pretty annoyed as I'd go around the studio detuning all the guitars to open G so I could play them. I think he's learned to live with it now. As for the future... who knows? I've always loved the sound of a Fender Rhodes (keyboard) and you can't beat live brass and string instruments so hopefully in the future we'll get to experiment with those. James, before starting Stellify last year, you’d been doing a lot of work around London in the music community already. What kind of stuff did you do outside of working in Stellify? Have you been working with any other bands lately that you could share with us? I've always tried to keep myself as musically active as possible, really. I had been working with a couple of bands previous to Stellify but just as a guitarist. I also did a stint of solo acoustic gigs around the city. I had a bit of a back catalogue of music that I'd been gathering so it's nice to go out on your own sometimes and see how they come across live. You can tell if it works or not as soon as you've played it in front of people. I'd also written a track for a 9/11 documentary called "The One" (https://soundcloud.com/stellify/the-one?in=stellify/sets/ the-exhale-e-p). It's the first time I'd ever written on demand so that was a great experience. And to be part of something that paid respect to everyone involved in such a terrible day in history was a massive honour. For now my main focus is on Stellify. Once we're off the ground, then I'd love to start working with other bands. There's a The states is where it's at as far as our ton of artists and different avenues I'd like sound is concerned. There's too small a mar- to explore. ket for our genre of music here for us to really kick off and all the time we're getting labelled With all this work with the relaunch, you as "Brit pop" it's steering people away from guys ought to be planning a tour someus. It was a great scene at the time but that's where in the world. Could you let us in over. We want to be labelled for what we are. on some details? What kind of shows And that's makers of rock and roll. are you planning to support the new stuff? Any changes to the live perforSo we’ve heard that you’ve practised mances we can expect? playing in “open G” in order to capWe've spoken about an American tour a ture that bluesy sound in Stellify’s mu- lot. But usual, finances are the only thing sic. What was the most difficult part in slowingas us We're still gigging around adapting that sound change in the mu- the U.K. anddown. keeping busy with our London sic? Do you feel there may be a chance shows, but coming across the pond is our that you’ll experiment with different next move. sounds in the future?
We're in the middle of booking some support slots with some fairly big names in the UK but until it's all finalised I'm afraid I have to keep that on the down low! As with our live stuff, it just goes from strength to strength. We're all much more confident in each other and in ourselves now and that's really starting to come across in our live performances and in our music. It takes a while for a band to get comfortable with each other on stage, and over the last few shows we've really upped our game. It's what makes us tick, you know? Live is where you really separate the boys from the men and we've reached a point now where we are itching to play bigger and better venues. For a band who has only been around since 2012, a lot of success is coming your way quite quickly. What do you feel generated that speed of getting the word out about Stellify? Any suggestions or tips you could give the up and coming artists on how to get out in the public eye so quickly? Hard work! It's been relentless. When you are self managed from booking your own rehearsals to drumming up PR and radio play, it's a 24/7 job. There've been times when I've wanted to throw the towel in because it's just gotten to be too much. I seemed to be hitting brick walls whatever route I took. But I'm extremely stubborn. If I want something, I WILL get it. If you can keep going when you've hit rock bottom and still make progress, then you're doing better than most. My only advice is that if you honestly believe something can work, that you've got something, then keep at it. The right person will turn up at the right time. If you could be a fly on the wall watching in on someone’s life at this very second, whose life would you be viewing and why? Ricky Gervais. The man is a hilarious genius.
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the spirit by paul b blues
There is no doubt that Lisa Lim is a consummate, professional musician. After reading about her it quickly became clear that she is very well known for her aggressive style of playing. Most of what is written about Lisa tells us that she lays down some frantic riffs that leaves her axe smouldering! If you carefully read between the lines, and listen to Lisa’s lyrics, you’ll soon find out that in fact she is someone who really cares about you, the listener. There is no doubt that Lisa can deliver a smoking Blues Rock tune, but she can also deliver an acoustic ballad that can soothe and calm the beast. Her new self titled album is full of songs that were written after the loss of some close family members and was recorded when she was encouraged to “free her spirit”. This helped her come to terms with the loss, and has made the album feel very personal. As a listener, I encourage you to “free your spirit” and indulge your senses in Lisa’s music. Her mix of styles is refreshing and shows us just how versatile a musician she is. If Rocking Blues is your thing, then you’ll find a reason to add her to your collection, and if you want great music that takes you on a journey, and leaves you wanting more, then look no further. Lisa Lim can deliver it all.
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What brought you to the Blues, and do you feel that the Blues can be played by anyone? I started playing the blues at an early age on the piano. Then, transitioning over to the guitar and applying that feel and music theory. Blues really is the foundation of so many styles of music. Growing up, I could hear it in so many bands and artists music I was listening and gravitating to. Early on, listening to the likes of Jimmy Henrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Roy Buchanan, Danny Gatton, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt. It was addicting, the sound and feel radiating from each of these artists music. Can blues be played by anyone? I believe anything you completely immerse yourself in stylistically, you can develop a feel and touch for that style. Music is an extension of our feelings and emotions. If you truly love a specific style of music, you listen to it 24/7, developing your chops and skills. There is a finesse and delivery that comes with playing the blues. And certainly life's experiences, tapping into that, digging deep into those emotions, is truly the ultimate achievement, to hear that radiate from your instrument and connect with the listener. To me, that's the blues! 88 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUEEIGHT SEVEN
Do you have a system for song writing, or do you just hit the studio full of ideas? I have various approaches to songwriting. It's different with each song I write. Sometimes it starts with a musical phrase or chord progression, even just a guitar lick. Other times it starts with a drum beat I'll play around with. Lyrics come to me in bits and pieces. I have various notebooks of words, thoughts, ideas scattered throughout my home. Words come to me at all hours of the day and night. And with that said, they are scribbled down, no matter how random they might seem. I also keep a portable recorder close by to capture musical ideas that randomly come to mind. I revisit them often, usually with a guitar close by or while sitting at my piano. In regards to the studio, I always have pretty solid progressions/ songs in place before entering a studio to record.
thing new to learn and incorporate into your craft. You just have to keep an open mind and a desire for continual growth.
The song â€œDenialâ€? on your self titled second album sounds as if it has a political message behind it. Is that the case? Yes, this is true. I've watched our politicians in action over the past several years along side many folks. It has been brutal watching the economy tank, friends and loved ones lose jobs, homes, health insurance, savings, nearly everything they've worked so hard for. We seem to hang onto the empty promises that our politicians proclaim in times of elections and in times of struggle. Safe to say, truly the majority doesn't want to take responsibility for the way things have become. It's easier to pass the point of blame onto someone else. It's definitely the most vocal I've ever been in You played along side many great art- my songwriting on the subject of politics. ists, Devon Allman among them. Have Iâ€™ve read that you play over 150 live gigs you come away inspired by them? Absolutely! Each artist I've had the plea- a year. How do you cope with life on the sure of working with has something unique road? Yes, I just about live in my vehicle along in their approach on stage and as a musiwith thousands of other working musicians cian. I am always hungry to grow as a musician and a performer. There's always some- throughout the world. It goes with the job.
you think this is something others artists should do, share their knowledge? I would encourage other musicians certainly to contribute their knowledge, experiences that they feel their fellow musicians could benefit from. Absolutely!
An occupational hazard, if you will! You get into a groove, in terms of coping. It's your livelihood. To me it's no different than the typical government worker who commutes five days a week and sits in traffic traveling to and returning from work spending several hours each day to make a round trip. Arriving at your destination, getting to perform and having your music embraced, makes it all worthwhile!
Some say women get a raw deal in the music business. Would you say that’s the case? I do feel women have and continue to be a minority in this industry. Do they get a raw deal? I think it truly comes down to you, whether you're male or female, how motivated, hard working and determined you are, as to how far you get ahead in this business. So, I do believe the playing field levels out, in that respect.
You have teamed up with Don Chapman to form an acoustic duo. Do you feel this adds to your fan base, or will those who see you solely as a “Rock Chick” be put off? I believe it expands my fan base. This platform enables me to show another dimension and side of my performance abilities. You are involved in writing editorial for I'm confident that my fans will enjoy and welPremier Guitar & Girl Guitar Magazine. Do come this additional performance outlet.
I read you carried out a Kickstarter Campaign to help raise funds for the new album. How successful was the campaign, and is this something you would recommend to other artists? I did earlier this year launch a 30 Day Kickstarter Campaign to help with expenses left to finish my recently released self titled cd. This is the first time in my life I have ever reached out publicly for financial support to help in funding a musical project. It was an interesting experience. I was touched by the response and support I received from my fans and friends. It's something I'll never forget and will always be grateful for everyone's generous and thoughtful contributions. I would certainly encourage other artists to explore this great crowd funding resource. Do you see yourself touring in Europe in the future? If so where would you really want to play? I do. I've been receiving enormous support from European radio, press and music enthusiasts. I am hopeful and working diligently towards touring overseas. I have my sights on the UK and the Netherlands!
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â€Šhunters into depths of the unknown
by ser en a butler
When many think of Washington DC, they may think of the historic nature that flows through the city. From the monuments to the museums, there’s always something to see. For others, they may be thinking about the heated divisiveness that flows between the United States capitol building and the White House. Well, for once we can add a positive thing to the “stuff to see” list in the capitol of the United States. Check out Bells and Hunters. The band (comprised of Kelly Ann Beavers, Keith Fischer, Igor Ivanov, and Eric Putnam) have been heating up the DC music scene with their unique rock flavor since 2008. With their 2013 release of the album Weddings and Funerals, the next chapter of Bells and Hunters has only just begun. Finally, something is working in DC…
This March, you released your album Weddings and Funerals. For this, it took about two years of recording. Many artists could consider this as an issue with “perfectionism.” What was your reasoning for your extended recording time? What was it like when you finally knew you hit the perfect album to release? Kelly: Regarding the time frame, there are a lot of layers to making an album and the territory was completely unknown. We just kept working on it until it was complete. It included very little in the way of “reasoning” and much more just listening and putting one foot in front of the other. I would describe the moment when we knew it was complete as similar to the silence in a baseball field when you realize you’ve just hit a home run.
Keith: I can definitely be guilty of perfectionism in a sense, not wanting to release material until it's the way I hear it in my head and to some degree, that played into it. For Weddings, the extended length of recording time was really due to a bunch of things. For starters, we originally only intended to record two songs with a new friend (Christopher Goodin), but we immediately clicked with Chris and were very pleased with the results so we decided to keep going and kept adding more songs to the project. On top of that, we were sort of right in the middle of re-building the band and having to find replacements for some of the original members so the songs evolved a lot as Igor, Terry, and Eric came on board and added their own pieces. I'm sure most artists would have just released the original two songs instead of holding onto them for over two years. I already started to have the concept for the larger release and once I get an idea in my head I tend to develop tunnel vision. Kelly and I really felt that we had an opportunity to make a more complete album so the timeline kept getting extended because we kept deciding to do more. Many artists make a big change between the first and second albums. What do you feel are the biggest changes between the EP the Static Sea and Weddings and Funerals? What have you learned from releasing an album and an EP that you will apply to the next recording? Keith: Well for one, we made this second record with a completely new band so that is a pretty big difference. As for the first record, at that point in time we were playing with a lead guitarist by the name of Orind Adams. Orind has infectious creative energy and really propelled the band forward during the time he was with us. When he decided to relocate to Arizona, we wanted to at least document what we were doing with him so we booked a 12-hour block of studio time the day before he was leaving and recorded 10 or 11 live songs. We later picked out the best 5, did 1 or 2 more overdub and mixing sessions, and that was it. Obviously for Weddings, we went about tracking much more methodically and spent as much time as we felt necessary on each song. Despite all that, I still think it sounds like our natural progression from where we when we released The Static Sea. We are already working on the next album little by little, recording it all ourselves. It’s going in a totally different direction so far. Kelly: I cherish The Static Sea very much, but the difference is that it was made by a bunch of creative children exploring the fun of recording their music whereas Weddings and Funerals is a more professional and collaborative work of art that affirms
my commitment to a lifelong path of music. I love them both, but the way that I revere W & F is from a more mature and silent awe for the subtleties of partnership. Personally, I learned that the most important aspect of effectively laying down vocals is being able to hear yourself. Refining vocals requires listening on a lot of levels and you need to develop a knack for aptly communicating the annoying experience of when you cannot hear yourself which requires a lot of bravery. I’m so grateful for the repeated experience of the lovely Keith Fischer asking me, “Kels, can you hear yourself??” Throughout the album, there tends to be a theme of a darker side of love. What really drew you to write about the subject matter? Have you based any of these songs off personal experiences? If so, why and how? Kelly: Yes, I love darkness! Darkness is the new black. Seriously, the album is definitely about the depths of the unknown, which is as much about coming into the light as it is about darkness. Yes, it’s all very personal and very universal. As a yoga teacher and human being, I experience all darkness as the unconscious and I know that you must become conscious of darkness in order to transform it and evolve. In my opinion, some of us walk onto the planet with an awareness of more layers of the subtleties of darkness and thus more responsibility to clarify the unknown. I consider this a gift and I am grateful to have met Keith. He has offered me many a light saber. Keith: We chose the songs for this record with that common theme in mind. Personally, it's never been easy for me to write songs about happy things without them sounding cheesy. I even wrote a song called "Happy" that’s really only kind of happy. I am working on it though. I think there is more of a need to analyze the dark times as a way to cope and make sense of things. A lot of the record is based on personal experiences, though not all of it. The story in “She Wants to Roll” is more or less imagined. “Mercury” is not really about love at all, at least not between two people. On the album cover, we noticed a bit of an allusion to every song on the album. Who had the idea to create such a cover? What really inspired the album cover in the first place? Do you have a dream album cover to release in the future? Kelly: I think it was Keith’s idea to hide the imagery and thanks for noticing that. I love to draw and I’d love to create even more layered imagery for future albums. I heart collage and photography. I also have some sexy/controversial schemes up my sleeve, but the imagery is so preposterous. ISSUE ISSUESEVEN EIGHT
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I’d prefer to take the 5th for the sake of surprise. SO yeah, stay tuned. Keith: We had the idea to use flowers in some way on the cover, as they are universal to both weddings and funerals. I came across a hand drawn bouquet on Google images that gave me the idea to hide little references to the songs in the artwork. Kelly did an amazing job drawing all these different looking flowers and shapes and one night we arranged them all until it looked right. I'm really proud of this cover. As for future covers, there is a really great photo of Kelly's great grandmother playing an acoustic guitar that will be a Bells and Hunters album cover at some point. You just released a video for “Maybe a Fool.” What kind of stories can you tell us from the set? Kelly: While working on “Maybe a Fool,” the main thing I could feel was Keith’s gift as a producer and video artist becoming solid, clear, and grounded. What we all did was just listen to him and go where he said to go. I believe it was the beginning of him turning a talent into a career path. Koorosh, who did the actual filming, has such a grounding presence and that made a huge
impact on the look of scenes. He’s obviously great at seeing and choosing what to frame visually, but he also shares that same asset and skill through his presence in real life and that helps lend a little sanity to the stress of performance. Keith: I still can't believe I was able to get our drummer Terry to act! Sometimes I just have to thank everyone for being willing to go along with some of my ideas, but we tried to have some fun with it and poke a little fun at ourselves in the process. It's finished and we released it on July 22 so we're excited to finally share it. Many may not think of DC as a bit of a music hot spot. How has the music scene in DC really shaped the current feel and sound of Bells and Hunters? Do you feel that DC has a chance to make it as a music city like Houston or LA? Why or why not? Kelly: Houston is a music city! No wonder my parents are going to concerts all the time. I’m from Simonton, a small town outside of Houston. Go H-Town!! Yes, DC has wicked awesome venues and the community cares about making and hearing new music. That’s a winning
combo if you ask me. Keith: There was recently a compilation series featuring DC artists that was called Music Still Gets Made Here. I thought that was the perfect title. The arts can easily be overshadowed by the politics in this town, but there is still really great music and art being made here if you are willing to go look for it. We put together a benefit show that was on Saturday, August 10, which featured us and 5 other great DC artists. We tried to squeeze as many on one bill as we could. As a band you’ve come together with a mutual love of Jeff Buckley. What is it about Jeff Buckley that has inspired the work of Bells and Hunters? Are there any of his songs that really drew your love of music? Kelly: “Lilac Wine.” Buckley could command a stage and still be palpably human. He wasn’t afraid to show his sadness, his regret, and his epic love no matter how much he knew the romances to be over and done with. I think that’s beautiful and I’d like to think it’s similar to how Bells and Hunters creates. Some of our songs were written about really old romances that were for all intents and purposes over but the charge, the physical experience, and the desire express the story. That was all still alive and that’s an aspect of the human experience I want to embrace until the day I die. Keith: “Lover, You Should Have Come Over” is one of my absolute favorite songs of all time. When Kelly and I first started playing together, we had some mutual ground in that we both can appreciate and see the genius and beauty in even the saddest of songs. I think that gave us a good place to start, not to focus on writing sad songs per say, but to not shy away from writing honestly about experiences and emotions. It has been said in a couple of your past interviews that you’re interested in touring. Now that you’ve released your fulllength album, are there any plans to get a full tour out? If so, how would you plan out your first nationwide tour? Kelly: Yes and I don’t know. I’d start with Google and then talk to friends who are good at touring like my cousin’s husband, Nathan Singleton. His band, Sideshow Tragedy, tours all the time as if it’s as easy as pie. I’ve also worked some with the lovely Claudia Gonson of Future Bible Heroes/ The Magnetic Fields helping her coordinate the details of a tour so I’d undoubtedly consult her expert opinion. Keith: A bunch of bands we know have gone to SXSW the past few years and that’s a trip I would love to see us take in 2014 while making stops along the way. We’ve
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discussed doing a few shows in NYC as well range that I know I need to go in order to as a few of us have roots there. We haven’t embody more depth. Keith: We’ve mixed in a bunch over the made it up there so far, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we get up that way sooner than later. years at this point. I like doing them, especially when there is a reason to play one. You’ve been known to do the occasional Like if it’s a Halloween show, we are gocover song on YouTube and sometimes ing to play a “Walking with a Ghost” medlive. Do you have a favorite cover song? ley with our song “Ghosts” because why What is it and why? Are there any re- wouldn’t we?!? A few years back, we recent songs you may want to cover in the corded a version of “I Will Buy You a New Life” by Everclear that I really liked and that future? Kelly: I keep a playlist in Spotify of song “Anna Sun” by Walk the Moon is just songs I want to learn to play on guitar and such a phenomenal song. That’s the kind cover. Lately, it’s a mix of Conor Oberst of “happy” song I want to write. Kelly and and a bunch of gangsta rap. I like to cover I have messed around with “Ahead of the songs that make me go places in my vocal Curve” which is a Conor Oberst song on the
Monsters of Folk album (easily one of my favorite albums of the past five years). I’d like to see what we could do with that. If you could morph into any animal at any time, what would you morph into and why? There is no limitation if the animal is extinct or not. Kelly: I’d like to be a snowy egret and a black panther preferably on the same day. Keith: Probably something that could fly, like an eagle. Unless I could specifically morph into my dog and find out what really goes through his mind all day. Wait, I can morph, back right?
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LEARNING TO SIMPLIFY by paula frank
“You’ve got to suffer so you know what suffering is and then you’ve got to try to describe that suffering, stay sane and stay healthy so you can come out of it, but you’ve got to go to those places so you can write about them accurately.”
On August 6th, Brendan James released his new album, Simplify. This is an album that comes straight from the heart of Brendan and the album as a whole encourages us to stop and think about what’s really important in life. From the first lilting piano notes on “Windblown” to the philosophical musings of “Constellations” to the “Letter of Apology” sung to our Mother Earth, Brendan James approaches this album and life with positivity and a sense of endearing earnestness. I got the chance to speak to Brendan about not only the new voice he found within himself on this album, but what he has learned along the way. Brendan James is a songwriter in the truest sense and we could all take a lesson from the stories he has to tell within his music. First of all, congratulations on the new album, Simplify! This is your fifth album, right? Yeah, I guess it is. It’s really my fourth studio album. I did one where I just sort of sat at a piano and hit record. I did 10 songs just at the piano, but they were songs that had been on other albums so I kind of call Simplify my fourth studio album.
I even got a little tired of touring and I took about a year off. What I found was that what I was tired of was too many opinions involved in the music itself. That had really worn me down and made me forget why it is I write music and after that year I really started doing some of my best writing. After that year is when I started writing the music that is this new album and there’s really more clarity in these lyrics than I had been What has the journey been like for you able to find in a while. to get from that first album to this one? What are some of the greatest things That was actually something I had comyou’ve learned along the way now that mented on in my notes. In listening to the past stuff and then listening to the you’ve done this a few times? Well, that journey has been about 5 new album, you really seem to have years from first album to fourth. I would say come into your own and this album rethat the highlights are really all the things ally seems like we could present this you encounter while touring. I hadn’t really album and say “This is who Brendan toured much before my first album and now James is.” Are you feeling that also with I’ve done 5 years of pretty much nonstop this album? Totally! It’s so true, and I’m already traveling and it has its highs and its lows. I’m so grateful to have had the highs because excited about the next few albums too beit’s a true adventure. Every month is differ- cause, you said it best, I really do feel like ent in this career and I think what’s brought this is the true business card or calling card me to this place is just a persistence that I of who I am and who I’ve wanted to be as didn’t even know I had. I have found persis- an artist. I also see it as a launch pad for the tence in the love of the craft and it keeps me next chapter in my career, in which I hope to have more clarity and success than I ever going year after year. have. That’s good to hear because by this time, some people are meh…it’s old hat. You had been with a couple labels and It’s good to hear somebody that still are now doing your stuff independently. How have your connections changed, finds the adventure in it. There’s a more loaded answer as well both your connections to your own mubecause I had a period of time, about 2 sic and also with your fan base? Definitely the connection to the music years ago or so, when I was getting dropped from my second major label experience and is just night and day for me. I mean, that’s it kind of got a little dark for a while. I really a really deep question because there’s so was kind of fed up with the whole process. much involved here. There’s a whole comISSUE ISSUESEVEN EIGHT
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mercial music vs. non-commercial music, and many times artists are going to be more connected to the non-commercial music, the stuff that just comes out of them purely before they try to paint it at a different angle or change it for somebody else’s opinion. I just feel like I’m so much more connected to this new sound and it’s because I wrote it pretty much all by myself. There are 2 co-writes on the album and that was with a good friend of mine who I’ve had success with in the past so I’m just directly connected to it this time more so than I was when I was on a label. With the fans it feels like I’m exponentially more connected to them as well because something happens when you find yourself without a record label. You feel like the world is on your shoulders and you’re a little scared. Something happens. You open your eyes really for the first time in a few years and you think “OK..Who ARE the people who are supporting me?” You know, when you’re on a label you’re told to go here, they pay for this and that, and you’re in the studio this day and you’re traveling this day and you’re not really thinking about who’s actually out there supporting you. Who are the real people? Who are the
fans? When you find yourself out of that framework, it really starts to matter! You wonder about these awesome people who are buying your record all over the country so you get on Facebook and you start having real conversations. I really have enjoyed getting more in touch with my fan base. You had the Kickstarter to fund Simplify so I’m sure that helped in that process as well. You got double what you asked for and that kind of ties back to that connection of who actually is out there supporting you. So what did you learn about yourself thru that process of doing the Kickstarter this time? Well, I think I’m right on the cusp of being the older generation before the Kickstarter generation. I’m four albums deep. This isn’t my first album, so I definitely kind of had to do away with all the misconceptions of what I thought asking for help meant. Once I did, I was so pleasantly surprised by this outpouring of help. I can’t help but cite Amanda Palmer who gave a Ted Talk that I watched. It was just so beautiful how she talked about how when you stop forcing people through a record label to pay for every single ounce of your music and to pay for every single
song and you just ask them to support your art and what you’re trying to accomplish in the world, you’re amazed at how they respond and you end up getting more money and more help than was ever given to you through record sales. It just felt good to say “Hey, I need a little help. I don’t want to go back and get any other kind of job. I don’t have a backup plan. I just want to write music.” It was really a cathartic and rewarding experience. I do want to say that record labels aren’t all bad. There are several out there that are healthy and prosperous and they care about their artists and they’re helpful and terrific. If I find another one in my future, it will be great because I will really know who I am after a few years here in the trenches of recalibrating, meeting my fans face to face, getting their Kickstarter support, evaluating where they live and where my strongest markets are and learning everything about this career that I enjoy. If I ever get signed again to a major or minor label, I would be able to know enough to call the shots. So I’m not closed off to ever using a label, it’s just been really magical to experience this new wave of social media and Kickstarter and this direct contact with the people who like your music. Speaking of Ted Talks, you gave your own Ted Talk. Yes! That was an intense and amazing experience. It was intensefully amazing. That’s how I like to say it. So what was your reaction when you got asked to do a Ted Talk? I was honored. Honored and surprised. As a singer and a songwriter it’s not the first thing on your mind that you’re going to get asked to do a Ted Talk, you know? You think maybe you’re going to get asked to do a festival or a benefit concert or something. You don’t think you’re going to get asked to talk and I was just so honored. I want to touch a little bit on what your talk was about because I think it’s important in regards to consciousness within your craft. You touch on that a lot through your music and the things you even do personally. The song that comes to mind on the new album is “The New Plan” which is about the gun issue. Is this consciousness something that’s always been a part of you to want to speak out and use your voice on pertinent issues, or was it something that came along with songwriting and using that power responsibly? I know no other way, to be honest, and for better or for worse I have always just subconsciously incorporated some kind
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of message or meaning into my songs. I don’t wait for something new to happen on the news and then go to the piano and write about that topic. When I started writing “The New Plan” I was just really emotional about a lot of things; not just Newtown, Connecticut or Colorado or Virginia Tech. It wasn’t like those moments individually had such a profound effect on me. I just started those lyrics and they came to me. I don’t know where they came from and then when I got halfway through finishing the song I thought ok..I guess I’m writing a topical song here, but I didn’t really set out to do that. Those lyrics and that messaging is just something that comes to me naturally I guess. Another thing you spoke on a little bit within your talk is how to keep the balance between speaking out and still being an entertainer. Do you ever find yourself writing a song and saying “This is just horrid. I’m standing on my soapbox here,” and find you have to pull it back a little bit? Well, that’s a huge consideration of mine and I hope that happens sort of in my subconscious first. When these lyrics come out, I analyze them in a way after they come out and I make sure that they’re not too pedantic or I’m not standing on a soap box. I really do try to spend time with each phrase to make sure it walks a line. I really do want to walk that line and I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t think music is supposed to be ugly or have any negativity in it or any hate. I feel like I just want to speak from a positive place and really focus on not offending people, but still say what’s in my heart. I think you’ve found that balance very well, but I imagine that sometimes it is hard to find that place. Yeah…where is that balance? It will be a lifelong struggle because writing about things that matter…I just really don’t want to do anything else. That’s what I want to do. I want to cut right to the core on certain things. I wanted to ask about a couple of the songs on the new album. The title track is “Simplify” which is basically about taking time out from this world that’s nonstop to appreciate the things that are around you. You obviously are very
busy; being on the road all the time and now you don’t have that label behind you doing some of the things for you, so I’m sure that takes a bit more time up as well. With all of that, how do you take the time to simplify, find your center, and get back to that place? That’s a good question. I called this tour the “Simple Adventures Tour” for that exact reason. What I’ve found in this new framework that I’m operating in as a musician is I want to enjoy all parts of it. I don’t want to think of writing or recording or touring as laborious or challenging. I want it to be enjoyable. And when I make sure those 3 parts are enjoyable then I have a really enjoyable life. Tour, especially, can be grueling and so the way I do it is I just plan adventures during the tour. By adventures I mean outdoor stuff. We’re always going on hikes. If I have a day off, I’m jumping in a river or asking one of my fans if they have any ideas for something fun to do in the area I’m in. The goal is to not make it about venue, venue, venue, venue hotel, sleep, venue, venue, and venue. I don’t care who you are, that gets grueling. I just try to incorporate little adventures in all that I do and it seems to create a fun life.
finding your own worth and realizing that at the end of your life you struggled so much to assert that worth and to mean something and that it never really mattered. What matters the most is that you smile and you enjoy life. Nobody really grasps that until they’re older…just that concept basically. I guess I love that song because I’m of an age also where you really begin to realize what does matter and more importantly what doesn’t. Totally. Some of my family and friends heard that song and got a bit worried. They’re like..”Are you ok? WE think you have purpose.” And I had to explain that no, it’s not me. It’s everybody, you know, and it’s the role that a true artist should try to play. You’ve got to suffer so you know what suffering is and then you’ve got to try to describe that suffering, stay sane and stay healthy so you can come out of it, but you’ve got to go to those places so you can write about them accurately.
And now you’re out enjoying your “simple adventures” on tour? Yep. I’m out on tour until September 15th. I’m doing a mix of half venue shows and half private shows which is a whole Another song I want to touch on is “Con- other conversation. It’s been a great way to stellations” because it’s my absolute fa- tour. It’s keeping me sane. vorite on the album. I know. Those words. I’m so happy that Oh Cool! So what are you doing with the those words came to me from somewhere. private shows then? Is that like fans that I wrote that in the redwoods of California. I you connected with? wrote it in a little cabin that I was taking a Yeah! I put it out on Facebook. Before I retreat in and every day I’d walk down the go on tour, I just say these are the venues river. I had six days there and I thought I’d I’m doing. I plan some days off between write three songs, but I could only write one. venues and I just tell people the route of the That was the only song I wanted to work on tour and tell people if you’d like me to come that whole week and it came to me there. It to your house or have a theater near you was pretty special. that you want to organize, or you want to get people together in your neighborhood, just Well, the song is absolutely amazing. let me know. I have had surprising luck with I guess the question that came to my that. It just seems like an endless amount of mind when listening to it was do you homes that I can go to and it’s been wonthink that you could have written a song derful. like that or even understood a song like that ten or even five years ago? So is that the plan for the next while, just NO. WAY. That one and “Windblown”, more touring? but especially “Constellations”, I had to kind Yeah, it’s basically a couple headlinof experience a certain rite of passage, I ing tours around the US for the next while think, in my own life and in the gauntlet that and then possibly trying to get to UK and is the music industry and kind of come out even China next year. Other than that, just the other side of it and realize the storm I to keep spreading the word and keep the had just survived. That song is just about adventure going.
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we asked our featured artists, musicians and thinkers about their four favorite things
noblesse oblige Sebastian: Gaffer tape – one of the greatest inventions ever! I’ve used it to fix so many things — from remote controls to my guitar, it never lets me down. iPhone – I’ll admit it...I’m completely addicted to my iPhone. I discovered it has a pretty decent camera and made two little music videos with it for some cover versions we recorded. I even read the news on it while I’m on the toilet…or does everybody do that? Cheese – I could possibly live without meat but I don’t think I could do without cheese… I just never get bored of it. Frasier – I’m very out of touch with current U.S. TV series, I just stick with Frasier, my favourite TV comedy. Valerie: My motorcycle boots, I wear them everywhere, I took them to Russia, to Brazil, they travelled around the world with me. I have a few pairs as I'm really obsessed with them, recently someone stole one of my favorite pair from backstage at a gig in Berlin, and a few days later some one gave me a new pair. It's good karma. A good hair conditioning product. My hair needs a lot of it!!! L'annee dernière a Marienbad by Alain Resnais. My favorite film ever, even though I still don't really understand it! Crime and Punishment by Doestoevski.
BO M BEE Alex: Nature. The only thing that can free my mind. My Neumann KMS105 microphone. To let my voice sound live like on the record. My niece "Momo". She shows me how easy life can be. The "Best Of George Michael". To be prepared for any situation…haha. Felix: Noodles. I'm never bored of noodles. Records by Bonobo. Outstanding music. The sea. I just need to sit and watch – simplicity! Seagulls and blackbirds. Most likeable birds. Philipp: My left ear and my right ear. That’s easy. I need those! And I choose my electric toothbrush and my sweatpants. I can’t imagine living without them.
stellif y James (Vocals) My Elysian acoustic guitar. It’s my go to guitar when ever I have any sort of musical ideas. could not live without it. Sandwiches. Part of my staple diet. I don’t really care what’s in it as long as it’s edible. New York. No ass kissing intended. I’d move there in a shot! Red Wine. Needs no explanation. Carlos Dittborn (Bass) Push me to create something, could be music, writing or some film project. Just love the challenge of developing an idea and making it being real. Watch a good movie with my girl and then chat about it. Gig, just fuxxing love the adrenaline to play music live. Go out for a run hearing my Hard Rock playlist on my mp3. Richard Costello (Guitar) The sea. We have an understanding between us. I may have been a matelot in a former life. A small round stone that my son gave to me. It's a lucky charm. Gin. It hits the spot. Alone time. It's how I recharge my batteries. Tim McNicol (Drums) My kids - I know its a little twee (I can hear James groaning now!). My 4 year old believes I go to London to play drums for the Queen! Snowboarding/Skiing - Nothing quite like being on top of a snow covered mountain, The Red Hot Chili Peppers playing through my iPod with a plank strapped to my feet. The most exhilarating feeling! My wife's chicken and sweetcorn soup She should package it and sell it, we'd be minted! Cider - Looking forward to ice cold apple nectar on warm summer days in the garden of my new house by the sea.
:papercut z Well, taking my cue from the movie "Amelie", here's my four small (weird?) pleasures: Listening to music while driving, open windows, neither too fast or slow, everything from pop (possible singing on top) to minimal classical music (with mimicking piano moves on the steering wheel)... kind of my shower thing, I would say. Speaking of showers, taking a bath (if available) after a great show and having a proper meal with the rest of the band, feeding off of everyone's positive vibes. The stage thing is a weird rush that I feel has a drug-like toll on me, and it just leaves me in a good mood all night/morning long. Speaking of food...seafood, lots of it, and great wine, lots of it. Running next to a shoreline at sundown, just so my body can keep up with all of this and the weird schedules.
bells and hunters z amapara Tom Robbins because he wrote this: “Tell love you want a momento of it and obtain a lock of its hair. Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides. Face southwest. Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language. Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a mustache on your face. Find love. Tell it you are someone new. It will stay." Bob Marley because he said this: “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively." New Orleans: because it’s a live culture of art and people living and creating. Mixing it up. Stirring it up. Randy Perrone because he will forever be our best friend. We will always love him and he said things like this: “No exterior force will bring you peace and happiness. True joy spawns from within. Surround yourself with people who show you how.”
Kelly: The color orange because it elevates and grounds human consciousness. My drawer full of Sharpies so I can draw. Makeup and body paint because duh. Meditation because it helps me align my personal vibration with the universal vibration and that’s where it’s at, yo. Keith: My dog, Shannon, who is named after Blind Melon singer Shannon Hoon (another of my favorite things by the way). I’ve had him since he was 6 months old. He’s 14 now. He’s a 90’s bitch. New Orleans. Honorable mention to San Francisco, but NOLA is my favorite U.S. city. Every time I go there I discover new music and art that I wasn’t previously aware of. You can get into a lot of trouble in New Orleans without actually getting into trouble. Exercise. Since turning 30, I’ve become a big believer in the benefits of regular fitness and proper diet. I’m actually training for a half Ironman in October, which is just silly. Diet Orange Sunkist soda, because man, I just love Diet Orange Sunkist soda.
coldside iPhone - (life blood) Meat - every man needs their protein. Sneakers - one can never have too many kicks. A set of speakers. Don't think we can go a day without listening to music
th e adversary Martial arts. I have been studying jeet kune do, the martial art developed by Bruce lee, for 14 years and teaching for 6 years. For me it's the balance to music. Cooking. It's like music, but you get to eat it! Animation. I like animated characters better than real people. No offense. Happy socks. I genuinely feel better about the world wearing brightly colored socks.
Rose R edd Martin L. Gore (of course) because he exists. My family for their support, love, and crazy ways. Ali Kitten: the sweetest, cutest, little kitty ever! She makes me so happy! Leon Kennedy because no real man is as cool as he is!
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A bimonthly magazine & blog bringing you art, music, literature & compelling societal views.