TORO Y MOI
C HIL LWAV E & THE ART OF PRODUCTION
T H E C H I L LWAV E I S S U E
ISSUE Nยบ 01 SPRING 2014
THOM YORKE English musician, singer, and songwriter. He is the lead vocalist, lyricist, principal
songwriter, guitarist and pianist of the bands Radiohead and Atoms for Peace
_ 010 CHAZWICK BRADLEY BUNDICK AKA TORO Y MOI American recording
artist and producer. His music has taken on many forms since he began recording, but he is often identified with
the rise of the
chillwave movement in 2010 and 2011
CLAIRE BOUCHER Canadian producer,
artist, musician, singersongwriter and music
video director. Grimes’ music has been noted by critics and journalists for its atypical
combination of vocal
elements, as well as a
wide array of influences.
_ 024 |ˌnēəˈterik|
CHAIRLIFT an American synthpop duo. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Chairlift consists of members Caroline Polachek (songwriting, vocals, tambourine, synthesizer) and Patrick Wimberly (drums, bass guitar, keyboard, production).
_ 028 PHOENIX Phoenix is an alternative rock band from Versailles, France, consisting of Thomas Mars, Deck d’Arcy, Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz.
_ 032 TAME IMPALA a psychedelic rock band, Australia and signed to Modular Recordings. The band came to prominence in 2010 with the release of their debut album Innerspeaker, and received critical acclaim for their 2012 album Lonerism. They describe themselves as “a steady flowing psychedelic groove rock band that emphasizes dream-like melody.”
intr _ o
In the 20 0 0s, the ch a n gin g m usic ind ustry, the d ecline in recor d sales, the gro w th of the ne w digital tech n ology a nd in cre ased use of the inter net as a tool for m usic pro m otio n allo wed a ne w wave indie rock b a nds to achie ve m ainstre a m success. This ne w co m m ercial bre akthroug h a nd the wid espre a d use of the ter m "indie" to otter for ms of popul ar culture, led a n u m ber of co m m entators to suggest th at indie rock h a d ce ased to be a m e a nin gful ter m. Indie rock is m ore m elodic, less n oisy a nd rel atively a n gst-free cou nterpart. NEOTERIC sta nds for w h at is ne w, recent a nd m od er n a nd this issue is our atte mpt to represent good m usic in this er a.
ANTHEMS OF ALIENATION AND HEARTACHE TURNED THOM YORKE INTO THE WORLD’S MOST MYTHOLOGISED INDIEROCK ICON. BUT, AS TIM NOAKES DISCOVERS IN THIS RARE INTERVIEW, THESE DAYS HE’D RATHER MAKE PEOPLE DANCE THAN CRY
SPLITTING ATOMS THOM YORKE By: Tim Noakes
It’s three days since Thom Yorke flew back
out the middleman entirely; he sat in a room
mammoth The King of Limbs world tour. Sitting
bottles of wine, got pissed and interviewed
old hotel to the north of Oxford city centre,
wilfully schizophrenic portrait of a 27-year-
unassuming figure among the graduates and
tional fame yet completely disconnected from
stubble lines his chin, and long dark-brown
his famously asymmetrical eyes.
A year later, following the massive commercial
In the age of PR firewalls, it’s a heartening
Yorke “went pop” and he descended into a deep
water next to an open fire in this refurbished
and the group stood for. When they emerged
white suite surrounded by a team of advis-
childhood friends to embrace a radical new
able conducting an interview within earshot
synths and drum machines. It alienated much
avoid doing them altogether. Yorke has never
proved the key to the band’s longevity.
for the sake of selling records. Having
Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief, In Rainbows and
been heralded as one of the most influential
as one of the few 90s bands who have managed
of view. If you want answers, just listen to
ters and stay culturally relevant.
home from Australia after completing Radiohead’s
on his own with a dictaphone and a couple of
at a table in the lobby of a quaint 300-year-
himself. What emerged was a fascinating,
he’s instantly recognisable but cuts a slight,
old caught in the heady throes of interna-
tourists checking in and out. Dense, greying
the person he saw looking back at him in
hair frames his angular face, curling around
crossover of OK Computer, something inside
surprise to find him quietly sipping sparkling
depression, losing faith in everything he
relic, rather than locked away in a soulless
again with 2000’s Kid A, he had persuaded his
ers. Not many rock stars would feel comfort-
approach, replacing guitar lines with abstract
of the public, let alone one who would rather
of their indie-rock fanbase, but ultimately
liked having his life dissected by others
They’ve stuck to the formula ever since, with
shifted in excess of 30 million albums and
The King of Limbs solidifying their reputation
songwriters in history, you can see his point
to constantly redefine their musical parame-
Now 44 years old, Yorke’s insatiable hunger
When he was last on our cover in 1996, Yorke
for new forms of expression has led him on
breakthrough second album, The Bends. Back
of the dance-music matrix. The first major
was riding high on the success of Radiohead’s
a parallel solo quest into the digital realms
then, the self-confessed control-freak cut
manifestation of this was 2006’s The Eraser,
an album composed entirely on his laptop. Kanye, Pharrell and Lupe Fiasco became so
infatuated with the title track that they
formed a short lived supergroup and rapped
over a remix just for japes. Since then his own
reedits of DOOM, Liars and Major Lazer and collaborations with Flying Lotus, Four Tet and Modeselektor have marked Yorke out as a true EDM renais-
sance man. He even borrowed Daft Punk’s helmets to DJ at a Halloween party in Hollywood Forever
Cemetery, plunging shell-shocked ravers into a pop-culture wormhole that some are still trying to crawl out of.
Next month, almost 20 years to the day since Radiohead’s debut album, Pablo Honey, was
released, Yorke reveals Amok by Atoms for
Peace, the first group project he’s undertaken outside of Radiohead. The collective
– funky-bass cadet Flea, percussionist Mauro Refosco, drummer Joey Waronker and long-suf-
fering ’head producer Nigel Godrich – ini-
tially formed in 2009 to play The Eraser live for a series of American shows. Their musical
chemistry was so kinetic that following the
tour they decamped to Flea’s Chili compound
in LA, got twisted, listened to Fela Kuti, booked three days in a local studio and began embellishing on more of Yorke’s laptop exper-
iments. Feeding the results back into the machine and remixing them over the interven-
ing years, Amok’s final nine tracks ingeniously blur the lines between Radiohead’s melan-
YORKE’S INSATIABLE HUNGER FOR NEW FORMS OF EXPRESSION HAS LED HIM ON A PARALLEL SOLO QUEST INTO THE DIGITAL REALMS OF THE DANCEMUSIC MATRIX.
cholic rock and the beat-heavy production
You’ve talked about Radiohead imitators in
EDM purists may write it off as a vanity
the edm scene for Amok?
favoured by today’s generation of bassheads. project by a bunch of aging rockers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth: Amok is
a masterclass in modern songcraft, regard-
less of genre. Of course, none of this makes the prospect of actually trying to get the notoriously tempestuous frontman to divulge
a deeper understanding of his musical process any less daunting. Fortunately, within a minute of meeting, Yorke gives Dazed a positive
indication of today’s mood: “I always crash when I get back from tour. I’m just over it now, so you’re lucky,” he says with a soft, laidback voice, his eyes glinting. “To be
honest, if it had been yesterday, you wouldn’t want to have known me. I would have been more like, ‘Get the fuck out of my face.’
But today’s alright. We’re gonna be alright.” Welcome home, Thom. How has your relationship with Oxford changed over the years? Oxford
doesn’t change much, to be honest. It’s got
richer people here now, which is unfortunate. There’s less of the bonkers nutters. Mentally speaking, I think there’s a high proportion of people that are trapped in their own heads
in this city. Definitely. My local is full of researchers in all different fields and sometimes I go there and eavesdrop. I love eavesdrop-
ping. But these people’s conversations are not normal. They’re all about nuclear physics and mathematics.
the past, but have you ripped off anyone from (laughs) Oh, of course! Totally, man! But
that’s what it’s about. It’s about how you
do it. There’s this theory about our collec-
tive imagination, and you’re either in tune with it or not. And I think, yes that can be
used as an excuse, but it’s also kind of true.
It’s certainly true in poetry and literature. You could even say the same in fashion.
It’s how you use it. When people rip each
other off but don’t add anything original to the equation, it’s painful because you
can hear the anxiety of the creator wanting to be loved. I’m not going to say any names but you know what I’m on about. That
desire to be loved, rather than, ‘Fuck you, this is all I got.’
Were you like that when Radiohead began?
That’s how everybody starts out; everybody goes through that period of imitating other things because you’re worried, you want to be liked. Everybody does it; it’s just how
soon you realise that it’s not very pleasant to listen to and nobody wants to hear it
anyway. Knowing that you’ve found an original formula must be both a blessing and a curse, though. Well, it becomes a massive
hit and you’ve got to get your next fix. It’s
hard to go through periods when you haven’t got something like that. So I don’t ever stop
“WHAT DO YOU CARE MOST ABOUT RIGHT NOW? THE PRESENT. TRYING TO STAY IN THE PRESENT BECAUSE THAT’S HOW TO NOT GET ILL. DON’T OVERTHINK. LET IT GO.”
working. Do you find yourself constantly chasing a new buzz?
Is that why Amok is rooted in electronic
music? It’s just what I listen to. My missus
says to me, ‘Why do you listen to dance music
in the middle of the fucking day when there’s no one around?’ It’s just what I do. But to me the Atoms album is not dancey enough. How has your musical relationship with Godrich changed since you first met?
It’s exactly the fucking same. It’s like broth-
ers: we fight, but it’s always okay in the end. Sometimes I need to be left alone to just get
on with it, sometimes he needs to be left alone to get on with it. Sometimes I’m like, ‘You’re not right, you’re wrong.’ And that can
go on for days. Did you have any trepidation
about embarking on the Atoms For Peace project? That was the real head-masher. During the first
day of rehearsals it was clear that every-
one had really done their homework. So when I got there with Nigel, we just started up and it was just there for the taking, it was fucking
mental. It was really the first time I’d played
properly with another band, ever, since I was like, 16. No kidding, it was a headfuck. I
was buzzing for weeks. It was all informed
by what I’d done on my own on a laptop, which
I just thought was really wild. You have such
a diverse back catalogue now. Would you ever
go back through your Radiohead archives and remix it all? I could do, yeah. I love remixing because you can take something people
already identify with and claim
The David Kelly thing was very much an excep-
actually spend your whole life
so fucked up. I get obsessed and that often
it for something else. You can
going back and sampling yourself – but that would be a bit like
masturbation. Does the fact that
your music attracts everyone from teenagers and middle-aged dads to
bankers and prime ministers annoy or delight you?
I can’t say I love the idea of a
banker liking our music, or David Cameron. I can’t believe he’d like King of Limbs much. But I also
equally think, who cares? As long as he doesn’t use it for his
election campaigns, I don’t care. I’d sue the living shit out of
him if he did. I’m now getting
this thing where a cute 18-yearold girl will come up to me and
ends up in lyrics. Politics is not a fun thing to write about. Now it’s too fucking dark. I went to the Copenhagen summit (on climate
change), and that permanently flipped my lid, because the whole thing was so wrong. Obama stormed straight past me after the meeting
he had with China, and it was just horrible. It sort of spun me out permanently to be honest. But shouldn’t that have provoked you to
write something? Yes, but when you’re presented with that level of stupidity, it kind of blows your mind. Which sounds terrible, because I don’t want to be the person that goes, ‘We’re
all fucked,’ because I don’t think we are.
I’m trying to convince myself not to care.
It’s like this phrase I keep seeing around – ‘I couldn’t care less, it’s such a mess.’
she’ll say, ‘Aww man, will you
Are you sick of people saying that you only
me onto your music when I was
It used to piss me off and then I thought,
sign this for my mum?’ She turned tiny.’ And I’d be like ‘Ohhh,
fuck’s sake!’ That spins me out on a number of levels. I’ve got two
generations now. You wrote The
Eraser’s ‘Harrowdown Hill’ about the suicide of biological-war-
fare expert David Kelly. Do any
of your new songs have a political agenda?
tion. I thought it was just so horribly English,
write and sing miserable songs?
‘Well, people hear something in my voice and
respond to it, and there’s nothing I can do about it.’ You could say the same thing about Scott Walker. Recently it’s not as heavy, it’s
a lot lighter, because I’m more into rhythm and the fact that it dances through the track
rather than grabbing you and being the centre of attention. Sometimes I don’t want it to be.
Sometimes I just want it cruising through the
WHEN P RIP EA OTHER BUT DO ADD AN ORIGIN THE EQ IT’S P FUL BE YOU CA THE AN OF THE ATOR W TO BE
PEOPLE ACH OFF ON’T NYTHING NAL TO QUATION, PAINECAUSE AN HEAR NXIETY E CREWANTING LOVED
rhythm. Do you ever feel caged in by your voice?
everybody wants. If it’s something
certainly it can be quite frustrating. I’ve
the edge like that then that’s
issue – at some point you’ve got to say, ‘This
puts you off for a while.
in a way, having that signature is licence
Oh, I couldn’t possibly say...
‘Well, that’s my instrument, and that’s a
Which is your favourite?
nice is you can make a really complicated piece
ite, because when I watch it or
through it and suddenly you don’t see any
much of a laugh I had shooting
A bsolutely. Maybe not as much now, but
you’ve worked at and it goes over
done enough stuff now that it’s not such an
great. If you do a few duffers it
tone is me, there’s no getting round it.’ Now,
Which are the duffers?
to do more. It’s kind of liberating to say, very clear limitation right there.’ But what’s
‘Karma Police’ is still my favour-
of music and then just put a simple line
see clips it just reminds me how
of the complications there at all.
that. It was brilliant. Especially
What about your image? Have you become more
because I’m totally wasted in it.
or less confident about your looks over the
You also admitted that you had
but I’m always into being shocking and visu-
Seventeen years later, have your
I’m comfortable or not. It takes me a long
I guess it depends what you’ve
uncomfortable with the ‘Lotus Flower’ video.
sake, or for working your nuts off
and then they showed me the rushes the next
a kid, I always assumed that it
It was like paparazzi footage of me naked
fill a gap. And it does the absolute
a risk that’s probably a good thing.
body. I was so driven for so long,
Are you surprised that ‘Lotus Flower’ has
I woke up one day and someone had
YouTube? It’s a massive kick. That’s what
OK Computer and I couldn’t deal
years? I’m never confident about how I look,
always wanted to become famous.
ally interesting. It comes down to whether
time to get my head around that. I was deeply
become famous for. Fame for fame’s
I did the whole thing, it was such a crack,
at what you do. Also when I was
day and I was like, ‘This ain’t going out.’
was going to answer something –
or something. It was fucked up. But if it’s
opposite. It happens with every-
now been watched over 20 million times on
like a fucking animal, and then
given me a little gold plate for
THIS PROBABLY DOESN'T SURPRISE YOU, BUT CHAZ BUNDICK—A.K.A. TORO Y MOI—SEEMS LIKE A SHY GUY. WHEN I GIVE HIM A RING TO DISCUSS ANYTHING IN RETURN, HIS ENTRANCING NEW ALBUM, HIS INITIAL ANSWERS ARE CLIPPED AND HESITANT AS THOUGH HE HASN'T SPENT ANY AMOUNT OF TIME THINKING ABOUT THE THINGS HE WOULD PROBABLY BE ASKED ABOUT DURING THE EXPECTED ROUND OF PRE-ALBUM HYPE AUCTIONEERING. BUT WHATEVER RETICENCE IS QUICKLY COAXED INTO MORE THOUGHTFUL REFLECTION AS WE KEEP CHATTING, AND IT MIGHT JUST BE THAT FOR ALL HIS INCREASED MATURITY AS AN ARTIST, HE'S STILL GETTING USED TO PARTICIPATING IN A MUSIC INDUSTRY THAT MAKES SOUND BITES
TORO Y MO DOESN'T K WHAT THE F*CK "SINC POP" IS.
By: Jeremy Gordons
toro y moi
020 Noisey: This is your third album now, or
fourth if we're counting June 2009 [a compilation of early recordings]. Do you think
you've gotten better at making your music? Toro Y Moi: Yeah. I think the stuff I'm making now… It's a little similar with what I tried
to do but I am getting better at production,
at least, if not songwriting. I like to challenge myself and put myself in a new situation, so
this one is kind of different and I think it was… I'm getting better at production, yeah. Is there a difference between this
and the last few records—more live playing, or anything? Right. Not..too different. I
mean, there's drum samples and programmed
drums; there's that element, and vocals cut here and there, that's about it.
How has your perception of yourself
as an artist changed? My vocal. I wanted
to challenge my range on this album and
really sing; maybe try to hit a range that I wasn't really used to hitting. That was
one thing I wanted to work on. Did you take lessons? No. I just started practicing, you
know. I don't know. It's kind of a weird way to sing, trying to be all over the scale. It's something Arthur Russell would do a lot, and I think that was a big influence.
Have you been a fan of his for a
while? Yeah, yeah. I found out about him
a lot time ago when I was in college and he's just been a big—one of my biggest influ-
ences because he could write a disco song or a country song and it would be really good. And that's something I'd definitely
like to do in my music, not really worry
about genres. If I feel like making a folk
song or something, I could focus on that. One of the pieces of pre-album hype was
that this was the "sincere pop" record, per an interview you did a few months ago. I
searching through your Twitter and saw you'd quoted the phrase along with a bummed out
emoticon. I take it that was your disavowal?
toro y moi
IF YOU DO SO M ETHIN G F0R SOMEONE _ Y O U S H O U L D N'T E X P E C T ANYTHING IN R E T U R N .I T WAS SORT OF LIKE _ THE THAT SIN CO NSTAPART NTLY OF I "GETTI N G " I WO THAT M E N TALIT Y.THE M LIKE IT DOESN'T TO NOT BE M A T THATED E R AN IF _ YOWOULD U'RE G E T T IT I NTO G BE M A N Y T HEINNDGE A R OUT OFNOT IT, AS I T _ JDIMENSION UST MATTERSYOU THATKNOW. YOU'RE DOING A WAY I'D SOMETH G BE M ITI NTO YOU _ THINK R E L ATA B IS _ RIG HT.
NCERE IT IS WOULD MUSIC E AS ND I LIKE MORE E D. ONENAL, . IN LIKE MORE B L E.
[Laughs] Because I don't know where that
came from! I mean, who says sincere pop?
I think I was… I might've said it, but then
Pitchfork made it a pullquote and, "Oh God, here it comes. Alright, get ready for it. He's trying to be a 'serious artist' or something and everyone's going to think
it's just cheesy." I… like, I just wanted
to make pop music that imitated Justin Bieber or The-Dream, but the sincere part of it is that I would like the music to not be
as hated and I would like it to be more
endeared. Not as one-dimensional, you know. In a way I'd like it to be more relatable
than stuff that, I guess The-Dream or Kanye talk about.
What's the stuff you talk about? I
guess… I don't know. I don't buy expensive stuff. I'm not crazy rich in my money. But I don't know, stuff—the album is mostly about my
move out West, the move to California. It's about moving away from home for the first
time and being away from extended family, which is something I definitely think people my age should definitely be interested in
doing, moving away from their hometown for the first time. You just get a different perspective on things and I definitely… I don't know, I feel like no matter if you
grew up in New York City or grew up in Los
Angeles, you only have—I feel like your vision of the world is very limited if you've never
had the experience in any other location.
— T H E _ A L B U M _ I S _ M O S T LY MOV E OU T W E S T, _T HE MOV E I T ' S _ A B O U T_ M O V I N G _ AWAY_ F R O M H O T IME A ND BE ING AWAY F ROM E X T E ND I S S O M E T HI N G I DE F I N I T E LY T HI N K SHOULD DE F I N I T E LY_ BE _ I N T E R E S IN_DOING,_MOVING_AWA Y _ F R THEIR HOMETOWN FOR THE FI TIME._YOU_ JUS T_GE T_ A _DIFFER PERSPECTIVE ON THINGS AND I DEFINITEL I DON' T K NOW, I F E E L L IK E NO M AT IF YOU GREW UP IN NEW YORK CIT Y GREW UP IN LOS ANGELES, YOU O H AV E — I F E E L L IK E YOUR V I S ION O WORLD IS VERY LIMITED IF YOU'VE NEV THE EXPERIENCE IN ANY OTHER LOC |ˌnēəˈterik|
toro y moi
Y_ A B O U T _ M Y_ T O C A L I F O R N I A ._023 ME FOR THE FIRST D E D FA M I LY, W H I C H K PEOPLE MY AGE STED R OM IRST ENT LY… TTER Y OR O N LY OF THE VER HAD CATION.
you used to? Probably enjoying it about the same. I'm not really one to go out and party or anything, so for me, I just go and play
the show and then go back home. If there's
enough time I'll try to do music stuff, but usually I just go to sleep and that's the
end of it. I like to be at home, really, the most. It's nice to be around visiting all
these places but I'm not really visiting them
for more than a few hours. It's cool to know
that I get a chance to visit these places but it would be even cooler to go back and enjoy the location.
Where does the album's title come
from? It comes from the song "High Living." It's just referencing, I don't know—it kind
of reminded me of a jazz album, or something. I liked the way it sounded. But it also just means not expecting anything in return, or
getting a favor. If you do something for someone you shouldn't expect anything in
return. It was sort of like that constantly
Had you lived out West for any
extended period of time before moving?
No. And I'm so glad I did. Before I moved
out here I got the chance to go tour around the country and around the world, so my old connection to South Carolina was kind of
slowly fading away. It felt a little differ-
ent and more comfortable moving away. And I think I like it.
Do you like touring any more than
It doesn't matter if y o u'r e g e tt i n g
anything out of it,
it just matters that you're doing something you think is
right. I also saw on Twitter—where I do
all of my research, I guess—that you'd
shouted out Robert Griffin III during the playoffs.
Did you play when
you were younger? I played some when I
was 8 until 15, but
t hen I quit and then sta r te d playi ng m u s i c. I playe d
cor nerback, on
RAILS AGAINST SEXISM AN
N D T H E D O U B L E S TA N DA R D S
don’t want to have to compromise
me out’ (without being asked), as if i did
I dont want my words to be taken
without them, or as if the fact that I’m
my morals in order to make a living. out of context. I dont want to
be infantilized because I refuse to be sexualized. I dont want to be molested at shows or on the
a woman makes me incapable of using technol-
ogy. I have never seen this kind of thing happen to any of my male peers.
street by people who perceive me
I’m tired of the weird insistence that i
personal satisfaction. I dont want
producers (and I’m eternally grateful to
as an object that exists for their
to live in a world where im gonna have to start employing body guards because this kind of behavior is
so commonplace and accepted and I’m pissed that when I express
concern over my own safety it’s often ignored until people see
firsthand what happens and then
they apologize for not taking me seriously after the fact… I’m tired of men who
aren’t professional or even accomplished musicians continually offering to ‘help
this by accident and i’m gonna flounder
need a band or i need to work with outside the people who don’t do this). I’m tired
of being considered vapid for liking pop
music or caring about fashion as if these
things inherently lack substance or as if the things i enjoy somehow make me a lesser person. I’m tired of being congratulated
for being thin because i can more easily fit into sample sizes from the runway.
I’m tired of people i love betraying me so they can get credit or money. I’m sad that it’s uncool or offensive to talk about environmental or human rights issues.
I’m tired of creeps on message boards
discussing whether or not they’d “fuck”
me. I’m tired of people harassing my dancers and treating them like they aren’t human
beings. I’m sad that my desire to be treated as an equal and as a human being is
interpreted as hatred of men, rather than
a request to be included and respected (I
have four brothers and many male best friends and a dad and i promise i do not hate men at all, nor do i believe that all men are
sexist or that all men behave in the ways described above). I’m tired of being referred to as ‘cute,’ as a ‘waif’ etc., even when the author, fan, friend, family member etc. is being positive.
“I _ THINK _ GRIM ES SU CCEE D E D _ B EC AUSE I _ HAD TO DISCARD EVERYTHING ELSE IN MY LIFE IN ORDER TO DO IT. I WAS SO FUCKING DESPERATE TO MAKE IT WORK, I DON’T THINK I COULD HAVE POSSIBLY ALLOWED IT TO FAIL.”
THAT OLD AMERICAN BANDSTAND ADAGE — “IT’S GOT A BEAT AND YOU CAN DANCE TO IT” — COMES TO MIND WHEN LISTENING TO “SOMETHING,” THE NEW ALBUM FROM BROOKLYN ELECTRONIC POP DUO CHAIRLIFT, AND AT FIRST YOU DON’T KNOW WHY. THE ALBUM’S DREAM POP SOUND IS NOT WHAT ONE WOULD TYPICALLY THINK OF AS DANCEABLE, BUT CHAIRLIFT STILL OFFERS SOME UPBEAT TRACKS IN “SOMETHING,” AN OVERALL WEAKER OFFERING THAN THEIR FIRST ALBUM, “DOES YOU INSPIRE YOU,” RELEASED IN 2008. |ˌnēəˈterik|
CHAIRLIFT FEELS GREAT TONIGHT
general, many of the songs all give off a strange, ethereal vibe, making them more
suited for the soundtrack of a David Lynch film than for a dance club. Yet if there were
any doubts as to the danceability of the
album, frontwoman Caroline Polachek, wearing a skin tight suit and a stoic expression — offers a captivating dance to the
track “Amanaemonesia” in the video for the
single. While most of the songs on “Some-
thing” are about being in love, one would be remiss to call them love songs.
Chairlift’s simultaneously disaffected and
affectionate sensibility breathes hip new life into well-worn territory, sounding
heavily influenced by but never derivative of the genre.
lishes the band’s jaunty but murky elec-
tronic soundscape in a catchy song about vehicular manslaughter. Recognition also
must be given to instrumentalist Patrick
Wimberly and producers Dan Carey and Alan
The airy synthesized instrumentation and production-heavy tracks are both staples
of the chillwave genre, but “Something” offers more than the typical fare with Polachek’s strong vocals. Her range and
emotionality are similar that of an R&B
star, albeit transposed onto an electropop indie darling from the 1980s. Her persona
reflects the nature of the band’s music, being as influenced by Kate Bush as by Feist. The band’s unique sound comes from the way in
which their influences are amalgamated. At the album’s best moments, the band seems
to channel these influences toward creating truly ambitious and infectious tunes. The
opening track, “Sidewalk Safari,” estab-
Moulder for the slick beats. Polachek, as wonderful as her voice is, knows when to let the sound of the song take the forefront. She does not quite let go vocally
until “I Belong In Your Arms,” probably
the strongest and most straightfor ward
pop track on the album. With traces of A-ha
and Blondie, the song is the stuff of musical addiction. “I Belong In Your Arms” is
currently available for free as the iTunes Single of the Week. “Something” is not lacking in great single-worthy tracks.
“Ghost Tonight,” “Amanaemonesia” and “Met Before” all help set the catchy, art-pop
Chairlift sound in stone — a sound I hope to hear more of in future albums.
CHA SIMU DISAF AFFE SENS BREAT LIFE TORN S O U H E INF BY DER OF
I R L IF T’S ULTANEOUSLY FFECTED AND ECTIONATE S I B IL I T Y ATHES HIP NEW INTO WELLTERRITORY, U N D I N G A V I L Y LUENCED BUT NEVER RIVATIV E THE GENRE
_ 031 “SO M ETHIN G” OFFERS MORE THAN THE TYPICAL FARE WITH POLACHEK’S STRONG VOCALS. HER RANGE AND EM OTIONALITY ARE SIMILAR THAT OF AN R&B STAR, ALBEIT TRANSPOSED ONTO AN ELECTROPOP INDIE DARLING FROM THE 1980S.
AT A TIME WHEN SO MANY NEW BANDS EXPLODE OUT OF THE GATE ON THE STRENGTH OF A DEBUT EP AND A WAVE OF INTERNET BUZZ, ONLY TO FIZZLE INTO THE PAINFUL OBSCURITY OF NO LONGER BEING THE HOT NEW THING BY THE TIME THEY GET AROUND TO MAKING A SOPHOMORE ALBUM, THE SUCCESS OF PHOENIX IS A RAY OF HOPE. THOUGH THEY’D ACHIEVED A FAIR AMOUNT OF SUCCESS AND FAIR TO FAVORABLE REVIEWS FOR MOST OF THEIR NEARLY DECADE-LONG CAREER, THE BAND DIDN’T PROPERLY BLOW UP UNTIL THEY RELEASED ALBUM NUMBER FOUR, 2009'S MONSTER HIT WOLFGANG AMADEUS PHOENIX. AFTER SPENDING THE BETTER PART OF TWO YEARS TOURING AND PROMOTING THAT RECORD, THE BAND THEN SPENT ANOTHER TWO YEARS HUDDLING IN VARIOUS STUDIOS AROUND THE WORLD WORKING ON WHAT HAS BECOME A FEVERISHLY ANTICIPATED FOLLOW-UP. DESPITE BEARING WHAT MIGHT SEEM LIKE A PRETTY EPIC WEIGHT OF EXPECTATION, THE BAND ASSURE ME THAT THEY MADE THE NEW RECORD AT THEIR OWN PACE IN THE ONLY WAY THEY KNOW HOW — BY SIMPLY LOCKING THEMSELVES AWAY FROM THE WORLD AND WAITING TO SEE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN. I SAT DOWN WITH THE BAND’S VOCALIST THOMAS MARS AND GUITARIST CHRISTIAN MAZZALAI TO CHAT ABOUT HOW BRANKRUPT! CAME TO BE.
034 STEREOGUM: I first interviewed you guys
finally have happen to us.
released — sometime back in 2004 — which
been such a success, what might
around the time that Alphabetical was
seems like a lifetime ago. I remem ber
thinking that you guys were just on the cusp
We grew up, just the four of us, and learned how to write a song together at the same time. We truly didn’t know what we were doing, so we kind of learned together just doing it. We’d record things onto a shitty 4-track and sometimes, you know, we wouldn’t even know the name for a chord so we’d just hum it into the 4-track. It’s a very weird combination that exists between the four of us. |ˌnēəˈterik|
of kind of breaking big right at that
STEREOGUM: If that record hadn’t have happened to the band?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, probably we still would have been happy. We’d
moment … little did
anyone know that it
would be another five years or so before that actually happ e n e d. Were you
surprised when Wolf-
gang Amadeus Phoenix ultimately blew up? CHRISTIAN: Oh yes.
We operated at the
same level for a very long time. Many
years of playing
not-very big venues.
Eventually the venues started to get
slightly bigger, but
it took a really long
time. We played Bowery Ballroom a lot, which
is actually very nice
— you get to know the security guys on a
first-name basis — but you start to wonder if that is as good
as things will get. We really needed
something to happen, so the success of
Wolfgang was really a gift. It allowed us to do all these
other things. After 10 years of so, it
was a nice thing to
probably still have made another record and it would be the same as this one we’re here talking
about. We might have had a little
more pressure this time knowing that maybe more people were gonna be interested in what we did
next, but when we entered the
_ 035 studio last December we kind of just forgot
a failure because they only sold a few
next two years. During that time it was
think about it in that way because he made
everything and closed all the doors for the
still just the four of us in a room working… not that different from how we approached things in the past. Still, you can’t deny
million copies or something. It’s crazy to so many great records after that and they
have all aged really well … except maybe for Batman. Maybe not that one.
STEREOGUM: That idea is so prevalent in the music industry now though. If you don’t at least match the sales of your previous
record, if you don’t at least get the same
rating, if not better, from Pitchfork, then
it’s a disappointment somehow. It’s such a dumb way to think about art.
THOMAS: It reminds me of when we made our second record. It’s like, ok, we have one record done now, so let’s really go crazy
this time. Let’s go big! So we hired the Paris Philharmonic to play on this one song
— it wasn’t even the finished song, it was
basically the demo — and that consumed our
entire budget. For a seven-minute song with totally crazy arrangements. It became totally
out of control and eventually we had to scrap it from the record, which was a really
hard thing to do since we had already spent so much money on it. It was ridiculous.
STEREOGUM: Ha! Whatever happened to it?
THOMAS: It’s saved somewhere on… I don’t even know what we were using then — a floppy disc? CHRISTIAN: A true lost classic.
STEREOGUM: So when the four of you do
finally get locked away in a room together to make songs, has your way of working changed
radically over the years or is the dynamthat success does change things.
STEREOGUM: If nothing else, the increased weight of expectation must lingering in your mind somewhere …
CHRISTIAN: Oh yes. I was just reading a
biography of Prince and it was interesting to think about how every album he made
after Purple Rain was basically considered
ic still pretty much the same?
CHRISTIAN: The same, but deeper. THOMAS: Oh, the same.
STEREOGUM: How are songs usually born? Are you guys jammers?
THOMAS: We really grew up hating the whole jamming kind of situation. We thought it
YOU HAVE TO MAKE SOMETHING WITH THE BELIEF THAT ON THE DAY IT COMES OUT IT’S SOMEHOW GOING TO CHANGE EVERYTHING. IT’S A VERY NAÏVE WAY TO THINK, BUT YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO BELIEVE IN IT THAT STRONGLY EVEN THOUGH ….
_ 037 was really lucky that we didn’t have a drummer,
didn’t want to be a part of that. Also, with so much
was a very traditional band context.
felt a kind of responsibility … like, it’s almost
it kept us out of having to work in what CHRISTIAN: Bands that jam med were all
about showing off their skills, which we did n’t have so much in the
beginning. We grew up, just the four of us, and learned how to w rite a song together at the same time. We truly didn’t know
what we were doing, so we kind
of learned together just doing it. We’d record things onto a shitty 4-track and sometimes, you
know, we wouldn’t even know the name for a chord so we’d just hum
it into the 4-track. It’s a very weird combination that exists
between the four of us. I don’t
think any of us would be able to
work very well with someone else … it’s like we only really know
how to write songs when it’s the four of us together. Me alone? I’d write a very boring song. So would Thomas.
THOMAS: We are really dependent on each other in that way.
STEREOGUM: Four years is a pretty
healthy gap between records, did you spend all of that time working?
music constantly being released out into the world we
irresponsible to put another record out there unless it’s something ambitious and actually has something
WHEN WE ENTERED THE STUDIO LAST DECEMBER WE KIND OF JUST FORGOT EVERYTHING AND CLOSED ALL THE DOORS FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS. DURING THAT TIME IT WAS STILL JUST THE FOUR OF US IN A ROOM WORKING … NOT THAT DIFFERENT FROM HOW WE APPROACHED THINGS IN THE PAST. STILL, YOU CAN’T DENY THAT SUCCESS DOES CHANGE THINGS.
to say. The whole
process is very self-
ish, but we felt like we needed time to
make something good. I’m a m azed when I
think about how people in the ’60s and ’70s
were putting out two or three records a
year sometimes. I just don’t know how you
would do that. I could see it if we were living back in 1700
and most people died
by the age of 28, then you needed to be prolific by the age
of 16 because you
probably weren’t gonna have a lot of time to make things. But as
for us, we’re pretty
healthy, and we need a lot of time to make something we feel good
THOMAS: We didn’t plan on taking so long,
about. Also, we don’t own a studio, which would allow
really pure and good. I feel like we kept
er and go into a studio it really requires us to focus
but we also wanted to deliver something
saying things like, “In two months we’ll
be done with this… ”And then we wouldn’t be. STEREOGUM: What took so long?
THOMAS: You know, there are so many records coming out so quickly … it’s kind of embarrassing. Like, if you are successful you
have to immediately turn out another one while people still care about you. We
us, maybe, to waste even more time. When we get togeth-
on making something good. You have to make something with the belief that on the day it comes out it’s
somehow going to change everything. It’s a very naïve way to think, but you have to be able to believe in it that strongly even though.
CHRISTIAN: Even though in reality nothing changes. I
remember we put out our first album expecting that our lives were really gonna change, and then nothing changed. Still, we always have that fantasy when we finish a
TAME IMPALA |ˌnēəˈterik|
hen Interview sat down with Tame Impala frontman/lead creative
force Kevin Parker, he had just played a sold-out show at the
Music Hall of Williamsburg and
the band was about to hit the
road again. He was tired but relieved after finishing an album that took two years of grueling, perfectionistic studio work to
create. The show had been a smash, and even
though Parker complained about feeling under the weather (“Hope my voice didn’t sound too terrible”), no one in the audience seemed to notice. Now, a few weeks later, the Perth-
based rockers can rest easy. Their sopho-
more LP, Lonerism, has finally dropped, and it’s garnered heaps of deserved praise.
Expanding on the heady, heavy jams that m ad e InnerSpeaker a critical smash, the
album justifies the band’s vision of a wholly contemporary psych-rock opus. It’s unmis-
takably a bigger, badder, and more ambitious LP than anything the band has previously
attempted, with songs that oscillate between tightly wound rockers and cosmic freak-
outs, often over the course of the same
track. Below, we talk to Parker about the
making of Lonerism, the problem with encores, and the lengths a kid will go through to see a great gig.
NATHAN REESE: So I was able to catch your show the other night, and at one point someone threw a rugby ball onstage.
KEVIN PARKER: That was actually an AFL—Australian Football League—ball. We've had it
on tour. It was probably one of our friends. REESE: So getting things thrown at you by fans isn't a regular occurrence?
PARKER: Right. No, that was our ball.
[laughs] I didn't expect it to be hurled
on stage, though. I saw it land right on
one of my effects pedals. Normally we don't get much of that. Sometimes hats.
REESE: You mentioned that this show was your first encore ever. How did you manage to avoid them all this time?
PARKER: Well actually, it's technically
not our first one, I've suddenly realized.
It's really our second. The first one we ever did was when Craig Nicholls from The Vines was backstage with us, and we were kind
Well I think [Lonerism] i s _ l o a d s different, but that’s_just me. I’ve been working on it so long and so intensely that I’ve lost all perspective of what it sounds like_to_the outside world, or to someone else_who_is hearing_it for the first time. For me, the_songs, t h e _ s o n g structures, the_sounds, everything is different. E a c h instrument is treated like a weapon. I would say it's more orchestral, but_that's completely w a n k y
T _ h _ e production is_meant to be a bit fucked-up and weird. I like the way those elements play_off each other. R e a l l y cheesy pop melodies in this bed of craziness.
of drunk by the end of the gig. Someone thought it would be a good idea if Craig
would get back up and sing "Get Free" and we'd be the backing band. So I jumped on the drums—that was our first.
Anyway, we used to just make it a thing that
we never did them. I've found them to be so obviously premeditated. It sort of kills the idea of an encore, where they're not
meant to come back on onstage and if they do, it's this amazing thing. Nowadays, it's
like "good bye" [claps lightly for a few
REESE: What does the title refer to?
But now it's become where it's actually
into my head. It was the best thing I could
seconds] and then—oh, they're back again!
harder not to do them than to just do them. So now where we stand, is that if the fans make a big enough noise, we'll come back. REESE: That's a dangerous precedent.
PARKER: Well they won't know if we're going to come back, because they'll think we don't do them.
REESE: So, switching gears, tell me about the new album. What's changed since InnerSpeaker? PARKER: Well I think [Lonerism] is loads
different, but that's just me. I've been
working on it so long and so intensely that I've lost all perspective of what it sounds like to the outside world, or to someone else who is hearing it for the first time.
For me, the songs, the song structures, the sounds, everything is different. Now there
are a lot more instruments. The guitars wait in the wings for a lot of the songs, and then suddenly come in right at the end. Each
instrument is treated like a weapon. I would
say it's more orchestral, but that's completely wanky —orchestrated, that's a better word.
PARKER: It was just this word that popped think of to describe the atmosphere of the album.
REESE: I remember reading interviews when the last one was coming out, and you said you'd already started this one. How long have you been working on the record?
PARKER: Well, since the end of the last one, literally every day for two years. It's really drained me. I haven't even been thinking
about recording music for a couple of months now, because I'm so exhausted creatively and mentally. For the first time in 10 years I
can not think about music for a whole day and not feel weird that I haven't been working on a song.
REESE: Is it nice being able to finally play the songs live?
PARKER. Yeah, it's always a different experience playing them live than recording
them. Sometimes it feels like a different song. There's always the process of adapt-
ing it to a live environment. I usually like to wait until the song has been released
in the studio form until we play it live,
because I hate the idea that the first time