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interlude


CONTENTS

December 2016

news......................................................................................................................................................................3,4 Grimes show review.................................................................................................................................5,6 Lady Gaga: portrait of a lady.......................................................................................................7,8,9,10 brand new music...................................................................................................................................11 Frank Ocean: album review..........................................................................................................12 art around New York....................................................................................................................13

interlude


news

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Elton John Denies He Will Be Playing Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration

Happy Birthday, Bjork! 10 Unforgettable Tracks Revisited

Donald Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci made the surprising announcement that Sir Elton John would be playing the president-elect’s January inauguration. Scaramucci said that John’s performance would demonstrate the president-elect’s “commitment to gay rights,” commemorating what he referred to as “the first American president in U.S. history that enters the White House with a pro-gay rights stance.” However, today, a rep for John unequivocally denies those reports, confirming to Billboard in no uncertain terms that John will not be performing at the inauguration. This isn’t the first time a performer for the inauguration has been rumored and then denied: Last week, Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil told Billboard that he would be performing at the event, but later went back on that, telling TMZ that “It turns out when the Republicans won, we were uninvited.”

Icelandic singer-songwriter Bjork is an eclectic artist that doesn’t fit into stereotypical molds. She’s known as a risk taker and has received plenty of accolades throughout her career, including 14 Grammy Award nominations and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. In 2015, The Museum of Modern Art in New York honored Bjork with a retrospective of her multifaceted work and today (Nov. 21) we’re celebrating her birthday by revisiting 10 classic tracks and their music videos. “Human Behavior” (1993) “There’s definitely, definitely, definitely no logic.” MTV aired Bjork’s first solo single and “buzz bin” video in 1993. The video, an animal’s point of view on humans, was nominated for six MTV Video Music Awards in 1994, and the song peaked at No. 2 on both the Alternative Songs chart and Dance Club Songs chart.


news

Holiday benefit concert celebrates its 20th anniversary on Dec. 9 John Legend and Lionel Richie are the first two announced special guests for Stevie Wonder’s House Full of Toys event. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the holiday benefit concert will take place at L.A. Live’s Microsoft Theater on Dec.9. Additional performers will be announced shortly. Wonder launched House Full of Toys in 1996 at former Hollywood venue House of Blues. In subsequent years, the concert has been staged at The Forum in L.A. as well as the Microsoft. Among the stars who have donated their talents are Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, Drake, Common, Dave Chappelle, Babyface, Alicia Keys, Corinne Bailey Rae, Ziggy Marley, Janelle Monae and Yolanda Adams. Concert proceeds benefit the We Are You Foundation, which assists children and families in need. For ticket information (patrons are also asked to bring an unwrapped toy), visit www.axs.com.

Chance The Rapper Cancels Remainder of European Tour Chance The Rapper has canceled the remainder of his Magnificent Coloring World tour in Europe due to “personal reasons.” According to a statement on Facebook from the promoter, the Chicago rapper was scheduled to perform two shows at the Helix in Dublin and a concert at the Apollo in Manchester. “He sends his apologies for this and looks forward to returning to Europe in 2017,” the statement read. Chance has previously canceled stints due to health issues, like his 2014 Coachella set where he had fallen ill and was taken to the hospital. Earlier this year, he missed a charity performance in New York also after being hospitalized. News of his canceled stint comes after Chance The Rapper’s frequent collaborator and “big brother” Kanye West also shut down the remainder of his Saint Pablo tour outing earlier this week after being hospitalized and reportedly suffering from “temporary psychosis due to sleep deprivation.”


STRANGE MAGIC

GRIMES is an outspoken pop electronica artist who has delighted critics, confunded listeners and driven the internet wild.


It takes two hours and forty-five minutes to get from

Los Angeles to San Diego by train, and a little longer than that if there is a mechanical delay, which on this day there was. Claire Boucher, curled up in a window seat on the train’s non-ocean-view side, didn’t seem to mind, or even notice. It was July, 2014, and, because she hates flying and doesn’t relish driving, she was heading, slowly, to Comic-Con, which attracts huge numbers of geeks, many of whom bring along their alter egos. Boucher’s alter ego is Grimes, the name under which, since 2009, she has been producing and singing home-brewed electronic music that is irreducibly weird but insistently pop, a term that describes both its sound and, increasingly, its reception. She fills tents at festivals, and this summer she toured with Lana Del Rey; her music videos have amassed tens of millions of views on YouTube. That weekend, CraveOnline, a media company aimed at young men, had hired Boucher—or, rather, Grimes—to be the celebrity d.j. at a party aboard the U.S.S. Midway, a decommissioned aircraft carrier moored in San Diego Bay. “Should my d.j. set be more chill?” Boucher wondered, not for the first time. (“Chill,” one of her favorite adjectives, can mean “mellow” or “good” or, most often, both.) “Or more dance?” She was thinking about songs, as she almost always is. The intensity of Boucher’s musical obsessions can make her seem like a mad pop scientist. On her bustling Tumblr page, she keeps track of her research into a cultural universe that seems, like its physical counterpart, to be expanding at an increasing rate. Her followers might encounter a snippet from the Japanese soundtrack composer Yoko Kanno, or a fan-made video set to the music of the electronic producer Aphex Twin, or a recent Selena Gomez single—which, Boucher has discovered, sounds particularly arresting in a car equipped with subwoofers. In her own songs, Boucher takes delight in rewriting the old music-industry story of the female performer in the spotlight and the male mastermind behind the curtain. “It’s like I’m Phil Spector, and then there’s Grimes, which is the girl group,” she says. She got her start in Montreal, part of an underground experimental-music scene, but now she herself is the experiment, as she tries to figure out what “pop star” means in 2015, and whether she might become one. For the moment, many of Boucher’s fans come from the world of indie rock, which has championed her as a new kind

of pop auteur. One of her signature songs is “Oblivion,” an upbeat but ominous dance track; Boucher doesn’t sing it so much as haunt it. “Oblivion” never appeared on any Billboard chart, but last year Pitchfork, the definitive indie publication, called it the best song of the decade so far, which was a complicated sort of compliment. “Oblivion” was a great choice to top the Pitchfork list precisely because it was not an obvious choice. These days, Boucher seems fascinated by the idea of making music that is as direct—as obvious—as the pop songs she loves. She acquired some important allies in 2013, when she signed with Roc Nation, the artist-management company founded by Jay Z, which counts Kanye West and Shakira among its clients. But Boucher still records for a small label, 4AD, which gives her freedom from just about any imperative except the financial one—she can’t afford not to think practically about her career. She had accepted the nautical d.j. gig to fund her next music video. But it also gave her an excuse to go to Comic-Con, where she hoped to bump into someone from “Game of Thrones,” the HBO series. “Every season, there’s a wedding, and they have a band play,” she said. “I really want to do it. ” She looked across the aisle at Lauren Valencia, a Roc Nation executive who was travelling with her. This predicament owes a lot to Boucher’s painstaking and intensely self-critical creative process. “Visions,” the album containing “Oblivion,” was released in January, 2012, and Grimes fans have been waiting ever since for the follow-up. The few tracks that Boucher has released, to keep them patient, seem to have had the opposite effect: “REALiTi,” a warm and hazy eighties-inspired song about disillusionment, appeared online earlier this year, to general acclaim, but Boucher now downplays it, saying, “It’s not that great.” She has mixed feelings about lyrics, although she recognizes that they are an important part of nearly every hit in history. Often, she conceals her voice behind reverb, a very un-pop thing to do: radio programmers usually reward the kind of clarity that can be found more reliably in Boucher’s social-media posts than in her songs. “REALiTi” comes from an album that Boucher recorded and then scrapped—it was too “disturbing,” she says, and she decided that she wouldn’t feel right disseminating such a hopeless message. She doesn’t necessarily follow these precepts, but she doesn’t want to forget them, either—a paradox that sometimes makes her sound ambivalent about her big moment. “I like building expectations, and then stressing people out by explicitly not doing the thing,” she says.. Hanna Claire Review, 2015


LADY GAGA: PORTRAIT OF A LADY For 150 years, Bazaar has explored what it means to be a woman in the modern world. Here, Lady Gaga offers her take on what it means to be one right now. 7


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On her flamboyant early albums, Lady Gaga’s fascination with fame led to trenchant societal observations and subversions. The tepid 2013 album Artpop reversed that trend. With its vapid, debauched commentary—the kind at which she once sneered—the record wasn’t from the perspective of an outsider looking askance at celebrity culture, but from an artist who had internalized and embraced fame’s worst facets. Post-Artpop, Gaga smartly retreated from being, well, Lady Gaga, and dialed back both her music and style. This reinvention involved collaborating with Tony Bennett on a jazz album, Cheek To Cheek; acting on American Horror Story: Hotel; and co-writing a grand, Oscar-nominated song, “Til It Happens To You.” Gaga is wisely keeping these detours separate from her pop career. Joanne, Artpop’s proper follow-up, contains no ham-fisted attempts at authenticity. Instead, Gaga tries to find a middle ground between her sophisticated present and glitzy, electropop past. Joanne’s collaborators and co-writers are all comfortable with genre fluidity. Besides producer Mark Ronson, Gaga worked with Beck, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Florence Welch, Father John Misty, and BloodPop. However, Joanne at heart is a singer-songwriter album, with an emphasis on smart hooks and taut arrangements that place Gaga’s vocals firmly at the forefront. The record finds her belting out songs like a ’60s girl-group leader (the sepia-toned, horn-peppered “Come To Mama”), conjuring Stevie Nicks circa “Rhiannon” (the dewy vocal intro of “Diamond Heart”), or unleashing an Emmylou Harris-like warble (the superlative, stripped-down title track). Gaga’s always possessed one of music’s most unique singing voices, and on this album, its bluesy grit and raspy soul overtones are more prominent. Unsurprisingly, Joanne’s best songs also highlight her vocal strengths. The yowling “Diamond Heart” has subtle electronic coils and serpentine guitar licks courtesy of Homme, who reprises the subtle accompaniment on the heel-kicking, disco-rock highlight “John Wayne.” “Sinner’s Prayer,” co-written with Father John Misty, has a ’70s desert-folk edge and gospel tinges; “Hey Girl” is a slow jam duet with Welch that praises the power of women supporting one another; and the pulsating electropop single “Perfect Illusion”

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works perfectly on Joanne as a pivot into the more somber second half.

The record stumbles, however, when Gaga doesn’t sound like herself. The snake-bit, sitar-augmented Beck collaboration “Dancin’ In Circles” feels like a cast-off from Gwen Stefani’s last record, mostly due to Gaga’s breathy, coquettish delivery and the song’s languid hip-hop beats.

“Million Reasons,” meanwhile, possesses earnest but bland country-pop flair, perhaps owing to co-writer Hillary Lindsey, who also co-wrote Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.” Both Joanne songs are passable, but they sound like any pop artist could be singing them. Now and in the past, the secret to Gaga’s success has been her outsize cult of personality, and the confidence and sincerity she brings to her performances. Think of Joanne like Stevie Nicks’ 1981 solo debut. Both albums have distinct sonic parallels, mainly an early-’80s songwriting vibe that hovers somewhere between country, pop, rock, and early new wave. More importantly, both LPs find each woman defiantly standing on her own as an artist, separate from her own past glories, collaborators, and success. Joanne may not become the multiplatinum blockbuster Bella Donna was, but the record absolutely feels like Gaga is once again on an upward trajectory. On September 9, Lady Gaga hopped onto the stage at London’s Moth Club, a sweaty Hackney venue with gold-painted walls and a shimmering Quality-Street-wrapper stage curtain. Pop megastar Lady Gaga is back with a genre-hopping album to surprise even the most ardent fans – and it’s all thanks to spiritual guidance from her deceased aunt. Dan Stubbs hears how ‘Joanne’ helped heal long-held family rifts and brought Gaga back from the brink


Growing up, I was always told I was a rebel. People would say things like, “You’re defiant,” and “Why are you dressed that way?” But I continued to do what I wanted and wear what I wanted—because, clearly I haven’t changed. For a long time, though, there was a shame that I carried with me. I’m an Italian Catholic—I grew up with a lot of guilt. But what I’ve started to realize is that my rebelliousness, if you want to call it that, is something that was passed along to me by a long line of tough people—and tough women—in my family. My mother and my grandmothers are without a doubt the most powerful female forces in my life. My mother grew up in West Virginia, in an Italian family. Her father was an extremely hardworking man; he worked in insurance. My grandmother’s parents died when she was young, so she had to raise her sister. She really held down the fort. My father’s father’s family came over from Italy through Ellis Island. They lived in New Jersey. My grandfather was a shoemaker, and my father’s mother worked with him when she wasn’t home with their kids. They had two children. They lost one of them—my father’s sister, Joanne, who I’m named after.

AG shirt, $64, agjeans.com; Chanel skirt, $59,950, 800-5500005; Inez & Vinoodh earrings, $1,035, and ring, $12,725, prettymucheverything.com; Stephen Russell choker, price upon request, 212-570-6900; Gladys Tamez Millinery hat, $495, gladystamez.com.

Joanne died when she was 19. I called my album Joanne because Joanne’s presence was always important to me. The best way to describe my relationship with her is that it’s like the relationship someone might have with an angel or a spirit guide or whatever you think of as a higher power. Joanne died of lupus, which is an autoimmune disease, and from what I know of the history of my family, one of the reasons her disease may have worsened was that she was assaulted when she was in college. She was sexually assaulted and groped. Joanne passed away in 1974, 12 years before I was born, so I learned about her mostly through stories and pictures. But I also learned about her through the rage of my father and watching him pour a drink every night and through seeing my grandparents cry at the Christmas dinner table when it was clear that there was an empty seat they wanted to fill.

“Health, happiness, love—these are the things that are at the heart of a great lady, I think. That’s the kind of lady I want to be.” —Lady Gaga To me, Joanne was my hope and my faith. I always felt that I had somebody looking out for me, and I looked to her to protect me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also really looked to her to help understand myself. I thought about Joanne as I was watching the news during the election about the scandal surrounding the Access Hollywood tape. Here we were, in 2016, and the fact that the sort of language that was being used to talk about women was everywhere— on TV, in politics—was eye-opening. I felt depressed and hurt by it because that’s what that kind of language does. Then I watched our incredible first lady, Michelle Obama, talk in New Hampshire about how hurt she felt seeing it too. She talked about how women are often afraid to say anything because we’re worried that we will appear weak. Being a lady today means being a fighter. It means being a survivor. It means letting yourself be vulnerable and acknowledging your shame or that you’re sad or you’re angry. It takes great strength to do that. Before I made Joanne, I took some time off. I made music with Tony Bennett. I want to be somebody who is fighting for what’s true—not for more attention, more fame, more accolades. What matters is that I have a great family, I work hard, I take care of those around me, I provide jobs for people I love very much, and I make music that I hope sends a good message into the world.

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b r a n d n e wm u s i c By Pitchfork Launched in 2003, Best New Music is Pitchfork’s way of highlighting the finest music of the current moment.

Georgia

A Tribe Quest

“Ama Yes Uzume”

We got it from Your service

EXPERIMENTAL RAP

Autechre Incunabula / Amber / Tri Repetae

Weyes Blood Front Row Seat to Earth ROCK

ELECTRONIC

Solange A Seat at the Table

Jenny Hval Blood Bitch

POP/R&B

EXPERIMENTAL

Pitchfork is an American online magazine  launched in 1995 by Ryan Schreiber, and owned by Condé Nast. Schreiber was working in a record store at the time, the magazine developed a reputation for its extensive focus on independent music, but it has since expanded with a variety of coverage on both indie and popular music artists.[2] based in Chicago, Illinois. 11


Four years after the landmark Channel Orange, two new releases from Frank Ocean find him writing richly emotional songs for a quieter, more meditative space. At first, Frank Ocean was simply a great storyteller. Then he became the story—an avatar for all of our fluid modern ideals. He could be the dynamic human of the future, exploding age-old binaries with an eloquent note, melting racial divisions with a devastating turn of phrase or quick flit to falsetto. He breathed hope. Then he went away. Years clicked by. It was easy to worry. There are precedents for this sort of thing, for disappearances, for the self-implosion of black genius. Lauryn Hill. Dave Chappelle. “Black stardom is rough,” Chris Rock once said. “You represent the race, and you have responsibilities that go beyond your art. How dare you just be excellent?” The Rock quote is from a 2012 profile of the reclusive D’Angelo, who felt compelled to release his first album in 14 years following the shooting of Michael Brown; the moment spurred him on.

Faced with a hellish loop of police brutality, other musical leaders like Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé came forth with brilliant righteousness as well. But not Frank. Though he posted several elegant messages online, reacting to horrors in Ferguson and Orlando, his relative silence only grew louder as tensions outside continued to rise. The stoic empathy he beamed throughout Channel Orange was missed. There was a yearning for his perspective—how he could soothe without losing sight of what’s important. How he allowed us to escape within his carefully drawn characters. It still can. “RIP Trayvon, that nigga look just like me,” he sings on “Nikes,” the opening track from Blonde, his wary exhale of a new album. In the song’s video, Frank holds up a framed photo of the 17-year-old martyr, the boy’s sad eyes tucked inside a hoodie. Even now, four

years after the Florida teen was shot and killed with Skittles in his pocket, the line jolts. It’s also the most overtly political statement Frank makes across the entire record. And “Nikes” is hardly a call to arms. The song is a woozy, faded, screwed-down odyssey, replete with helium warble and dewy third eye—and it’s actually one of the album’s most propulsive tracks. On its surface, Blonde seems tremendously insular. Whereas Channel Orange showed off an expansive eclecticism, this album contracts at nearly every turn. Its spareness suggests a person in a small apartment with only a keyboard and a guitar and thoughts for company. But it isn’t just anyone emoting from the abyss, it’s Frank Ocean. In his hands, such intimacy attracts the ear, bubbles the brain, raises the flesh. These songs are not for marching, but they still serve a purpose. They offer views into unseen places and overlooked souls. They console. They bleed. And yes, they cry. 12


EVENT HORIZON: ART HAPPENINGS AROUND NEW YORK Opening: Francis Picabia at Museum of Modern Art

At long last, the Francis Picabia retrospective, the first show of its kind since 1970, arrives in New York this week. Curated by Anne Umland, of MoMA, and Cathérine Hug, of the Kunsthaus Zurich, this show includes 200 works, ranging from periodicals made during Picabia’s Dada period to paintings based on pornography that were spurned by critics. The retrospective is proof that Picabia never settled on a signature style, medium, or aesthetic, leaping from proto-conceptualist gestures to appropriated images and back again. For a new crop of younger artists working today, Picabia’s work has been an inspiration; this show will offer a chance to see why Picabia is one of recent art history’s most influential, and most underrated, figures.

Museum of Modern, 11 West 53rd Street, 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Talk: Douglas Crimp at the Kitchen

In this talk, Douglas Crimp will read chapters from his new memoir Before Pictures, which details his time in New York from 1967 to 1977, the year he published his acclaimed essay “Pictures” in the journal October. A major portion of the book is about how Crimp got interested in dance, and much of this talk will be about his involvement with performance art over the years. Judson Dance theater founder and choreographer Yvonne Rainer and New York City Ballet principal dancer Adrian Danchig-Waring will discuss Before Pictures with Crimp after the reading.

Opening: Koenraad Dedobbeleer at Clearing

It’s not unusual for the Belgian artist Koenraad Dedobbeleer to take a block from a granite column and exhibit it as a freestanding sculpture. Dryly funny and often devoid of any affect, Dedobbeleer’s sculptural installations take design elements and make them unusable—in one case, he attached two chairs to each other, for example. This show, titled “Catch as Catch Can” (the name of a Picabia painting, as it happens), will feature new sculptures by Dedobeleer.

Clearing, 396 Johnson Avenue, 6–8 p.m.

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