T H E M U S I C I A N ’S R E S O U RC E
FEB/MAR ‘14 FREE
SHARON JONES and t he
DAP-KINGS “I'M GONNA SING THE SONG THE WAY I WANNA SING IT. YOU CAN'T TEACH INTERVIEWS MUTUAL BENEFIT PAPER TIGER ZOLA JESUS GOJIRA
ME HOW TO SING SOUL!”
LESSONS LEARNED FROM BOOKING DISASTERS SPOTIFY’S ROYALTY SYSTEM DECODED USING BRANDS TO PUSH YOUR MUSIC CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF ASCAP
ER REGIST HE OR T EARLY F T BIGGES ! NTS DISCOU
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The only U.S. music conference 100% dedicated to songwriters and composers
TAKE YOUR MUSIC TO THE NEXT LEVEL.
Celebrity Q&As Master Classes Songwriting & Composing Workshops Publisher & Business Panels DIY Career Building Workshops Showcases and Performances Attendee Song Feedback Panels Networking Opportunities State-of-the-Art Technology Demos Leading Music Industry Exhibitors
LOEWS HOLLYWOOD HOTEL LOS ANGELES
NEW in 2014: EXPO registrations include free access to the panel videos after the event. That’s 60 hours worth of knowledge!
REGISTER NOW REGISTER NOWAT ATWWW.ASCAP.COM/EXPO WWW.ASCAP.COM/EXPO open to all music creators regardless of affiliation @ascapexpo and
@ The Drunken Unicorn February 12 feat. Nobunny and The Hussy Doors at 9:00 pm $10 - 18+
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
@ Great American Music Hall February 13 feat. The Family Crest Waterstrider and Branches Doors at 7:00 pm $16 - ALL AGES
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
VOL.24, ISSUE 1
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
by Amanda Macchia
The sultry siren kicks cancer’s ass and demands to sing soul HER way. Join us as we catch up with one of America’s musical treasures to discuss the making of her new LP.
by Joshua James Amberson
Boston-based Jordan Lee explores experimental pop collages and idiosyncratic symphonic arrangements, all while keeping focused on staying artistically driven.
by Garrett Frierson
The Wisconsin transplant breaks down her creative process, stressing the importance isolation plays in her ability to write personal music and record ambitious, exciting albums.
by Jason Korolenko
Frontman Joe Duplantier sits down to chat about the challenges of bringing his French metal juggernaut to the world stage.
D E PA R T M E N T S 5 Obituaries
46 ASCAP Celebrates 100 Years
6 Local News
47 Edge Collective: Align Your Band w/ Brands
13 Tour Stop: St. Paul, MN
48 The Best Career Move for Your Band
14 Spotlights: Half Moon Run, Paper Tiger
49 Decoding Spotify’s Royalty System
34 Top Picks: The best in new music
50 My Favorite Gear: Arrica Rose
44 Booking Lessons Learned at Reel Fest
51 Recording: Drums & Percussion pt. 2
45 Behind-The-Scenes at Blood Drunk Records
52 Studio Diary: Jeff Taylor of Dumpster Hunter
54 Gear Reviews: Mackie; Gretsch; Qu-Bit Electonix
56 Flashback: Telefunken U47 Microphone Cover photo and this page by Kyle Dean Reinford
FEBRUARY-MARCH 2104 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 3
FROM THE TOP Dear diary, Today Justin Bieber was arrested for a DUI down in Miami. Now, normally I enjoy the wacky hijinx of our Canadian brothers and sisters (see: Degrassi Junior High, Strange Brew, John Candy, etc), but it’s about time this Tiger Beat puss-bag got his comeuppance. I’m not delusional; I know he’s got tons of money and is pretty much above the law, but at least let me have these five minutes of smug satisfaction while I sit here and type my thoughts in (relative) freedom. As I write, I gleefully imagine the Biebs rotting away in some pastel-painted holding cell overrun with those giant-ass bugs one can only find in the white-trashiest of states, Florida. Perhaps a large Cuban expat smiles at him from a darkened corner, lighting a cigarette and pursing
his lips in anticipation of…uh, never mind, diary. Some things are best left to the imagination… Anyhoo, as per usual we have a kick-arse issue, in which we chat with the soulful Sharon Jones, mince words with French metal gods Gojira and chit-chat with the introspective Zola Jesus and experimental Mutual Benefit. Like all those adjectives? Got plenty more where those came from, trust me. I’ve even got some obscure Canadian adjectives I’m saving up for when our ol’ pal Justin gets released from his latest publicity stunt – er, I mean incarceration.
Volume 24, Issue 1
William House Phone: 617-627-9200 email@example.com EDITOR
Benjamin Ricci - firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN AND ART DIRECTION
Joe LoVasco - email@example.com EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
Glenn Skulls firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers, -Benjamin Ricci, Editor
P.S. – in case you missed it (or ICYMI for the cool kids), we’ve redesigned performermag.com from the ground up, complete with an exciting new mobile site and tablet experience. You can also read the current issue and back issues on iOS devices and Android gadgets via the Issuu app, available in the App Store and Google Play. We’re also hard at work on a 3D holographic version of the site, a Google Glass compatible version of the site, and a Magazine Hero video game that puts YOU in the hot seat of running a music magazine and daily website, complete with a coffee mug shaped controller and “Ignore Publicist” wand. Enjoy!
Amanda Macchia, Benjamin Ricci, Brad Hardisty, Brent Godin, Candace McDuffie, Chris Davidson, Chris Devine, Christopher Petro, Don Miggs, Eric Wolff, Ethan Varian, Gail Fountain, Garrett Frierson, Hannah Lowry, Ian Doreian, Jason Korolenko, Jason Peterson, Joel Edinberg, John Green, Joshua Broughton, Joshua James Amberson, Lucy Fernandes, Michael St. James, Shawn M Haney, Tara Lacey, Taylor Haag, Teshanna Wilson, Vanessa Bennett, Zac Cataldo CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
Performer Magazine, a nationally distributed musician’s trade publication, focuses on independent musicians, those unsigned and on small labels, and their success in a DIY environment. We’re dedicated to promoting lesser-known talent and being the first to introduce you to artists you should know about.
Did we make a heinous blunder, factual error or just spell your name wrong? Contact email@example.com and let us know, cuz we’re big enough to say, “Baby, I was wrong.”
In the words of our esteemed forefathers at CREEM: “NOBODY WHO WRITES FOR THIS RAG’S GOT ANYTHING YOU AIN’T GOT, at least in the way of credentials. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be sending us your stuff: reviews, features, photos, recording tips, DIY advice or whatever else you have in mind that might be interesting to our readers: independent and DIY musicians. Who else do ya know who’ll publish you? We really will... ask any of our dozens of satisfied customers. Just bop it along to us to firstname.lastname@example.org and see what comes back your way. If you have eyes to be in print, this just might be the place. Whaddya got to lose? Whaddya got?”
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4 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2104 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Anton Coene, Aram Boghosian, Brad Hardisty, Dig It All Studios, Gail Fountain, Ian Doreian, Jensen West, Kamil Lee, Kyle Dean Reinford, Larissa Underwood, Matt Lambert, Rick Carroll, Salomon Davis, Sarah Jacobs, Sheila Ann Lacey, Valeria Cherchi, Whitney Lee ADVERTISING SALES
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© 2014 by Performer Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any method whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. The magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited recordings, manuscripts, artwork or photographs and will not return such materials unless requested and accompanied by a SASE. Annual Subscription Rate is $30 in the U.S.; $45 outside the U.S.
Singer, The Everly Brothers According to CNN: “During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Phil Everly and his brother, Don (now 76), ranked among the elite in the music world by virtue of their pitch-perfect harmonies and emotive lyrics. Rolling Stone labeled the Everly Brothers ‘the most important vocal duo in rock,’ having influenced the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel and many other acts. Along the way, they notched 35 Top 100 songs -- more than any other vocal pair.”
Junior Murvin, 67 Jamaican Singer, “Police and Thieves” Junior Murvin was a Jamaican reggae musician. He is best known for the single “Police and Thieves,” produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry in 1976. The single was released to international commercial success in Jamaica, Britain and elsewhere. Though written in the context of Jamaica’s turf wars and police violence, it became closely associated with the rioting at London’s Notting Hill Carnival. The song was a favorite of The Clash, whose version appeared on their debut album in 1977.
Oliver Withöft, 49 Co-Owner of Century Media A statement released by Robert Kampf, Century Media founder, includes the following thoughts on Withöft: “I have lost my best friend of 32 years and my business partner of 24. Oliver Withöft leaves a space that cannot be filled for all who held him dear. He was a tremendous father, husband, son and friend and will be terribly missed. I will always treasure him in my heart as the witty, brilliant and altogether great person he was. Farewell Oliver, see you on the other side and in our next life.”
Benjamin Curtis, 35 Guitarist, School of Seven Bells The following report on the musician’s passing was released by Pitchfork: “Earlier this year, Curtis was diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. He was 35. Curtis was an Oklahoma native who later moved to Dallas. He and his brother Brandon were members of UFOFU, and later, he drummed for Tripping Daisy. In 2000, he and his brothers started the band Secret Machines. He formed School of Seven Bells in 2007 with Alejandra Deheza. Together, they released several EPs and three full-lengths. Their most recent LP was 2012’s Ghostory.”
Wayne Mills, 44 Outlaw Country Musician Jerald Wayne Mills was an American country musician, known for touring with the Wayne Mills Band for over 15 years and playing alongside Blake Shelton, Jamey Johnson and Taylor Hicks. During his career Mills released six albums and had seven top 20 songs in Europe including a chart topper in Belgium in 2009. In the early hours of November 23, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee, Mills was shot in the head and killed by a bar owner allegedly over an argument involving Mills lighting up a cigarette in a no-smoking area.
Phil Everly, 74
Cheb I Sabbah, 66 DJ and Composer The San Francisco Chronicle reports: “Cheb I Sabbah…moved to Paris in the ’60s where he launched his career as a DJ, specializing in American soul records. He moved to San Francisco in 1984 and five years later began using the name Cheb I Sabbah. He was a master of world music, incorporating Arabic, Asian and African folk sounds into his rich compositions. His goal as an artist was to bring traditional folk music to new audiences, both preserving the integrity of the native sounds and finding the musical commonality at the same time.”
Charlie Chesterman, 53 Scruffy The Cat Frontman Friend and photographer Michael J. Charles had the following to say about the Boston-based college rock icon: “I lost a best friend yesterday. Charlie Chesterman, you will be missed dearly by your family, friends and fans. We had a lot of great times over the years and you lived a life that many could only dream of. Cancer took away many things, but it will never take away the love and music you shared with all of us. Thank you for leaving us all with that! I know you’re rockin’ away in a much better place now!”
Joel Oberstein, 50 President of Almighty Music Marketing
According to Billboard: “A music lover since childhood, Oberstein played in three Los Angeles bands while launching his career at the Los Angeles area-based Tempo Records chain, where he eventually rose to GM. Oberstein eventually hooked up with Clark Benson, an entrepreneur known for the eCrush and Ranker Websites, to form Almighty/Isis. The 18-year-old company, which continues to thrive, started out specializing in listening station programs in hundreds of independent record stores. Oberstein also spearheaded expansions into other areas of music marketing, including the Almighty Retail Database.” FEBRUARY-MARCH 2104 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 5
ATLANTA LOCAL NEWS
Get to know
Electronica in the South by Joshua Broughton The recent resurgence of electronica of all genres – from the sluggish crunk of Southern hip-hop to the relatively recent importation of Europe’s favorite craze, dubstep – has brushed close enough to independent success that it’s totally converted pop music over the last few years. For every Death Cab for Cutie guitar rock tune you hear on your commute to work, you’ll hear what seems like an endless parade of fantastically slick, ultra-produced electro-pop, from the inspired to the insipid. Atlanta has certainly
caught the fever; every other band you see live has a click track and a couple keyboards hanging out somewhere on stage, looking to all the world like they’re trying to avoid dirty looks from the bassist. Everyone knows why electronica is the genre du jour; there are a million articles and blogs out there discussing the low barrier to entry in the age of the personal computer, with its out-ofthe-box million-dollar studio software packages going for pennies. The more interesting observation is in the sheer variety available in a city the size of Atlanta. The current crop of electro artists in Atlanta is amazingly wide, if lacking a little critical attention. You’ve got the old favorite, the genesis: the DJ pumping out adrenaline from a booth in the middle of a crowded dancehall (Speakerfoxxx, Pull Out Kings). You’ll find the tongue-in-cheek new wave 1980s throwbacks (Cousin Dan, La Chansons). Guitar-heavy industrial raises its hand from the back of the room (SlowEarth comes to mind). The largest and most interesting pool of talent lies with the ever hard-to-pin-down label “indie” – you’ll find the noisy and unstructured deadCAT, the super tight Tikka, the knife-edge grooves of Technicult, and the dance-pop of Sonen all piled on the same bill. So, yes. The South will dance again.
Open Sky Studios
Mega-High Ceilings and Rehearsal Space to Boot
CJ Ridings Guitar, Big Jesus by Joshua Broughton photo by Tim Song CJ Ridings grew up in the Atlanta metro area. He’s been around the block in the local scene, playing bass with a number of bands. He’s back playing guitar and writing songs for a new heavy melodic project, Big Jesus. Their debut, One, is making a big critical impression on Atlanta’s fleet of journalists. He’s missed people telling him to turn his guitar down.
How’s One doing?
All the feedback seems to be really positive. Honestly though, I enjoy hearing the criticisms as much as any praise. I have a few friends I can always count on to [ask], “What’d you think?” and get an honest answer. Always room to improve.
Would you differently? Mike Froedge, one of Open Sky’s dual owners, has spent a lot of time behind drum kits in his life, from the successful (doubleDrive) to the hugely successful (Black Label Society). Performance is in his blood. The good news: so is recording and engineering. Open Sky is just north of the heart of Atlanta, still convenient to downtown proper. It has an interesting layout: one big room (25’ ceilings!) with a second-floor control room. The gear list is fantastic, and the place isn’t so well known that you’ll have to mortgage your home to get a damn fine record out the door. They also do tour rehearsals. All in all, very cool place. GEAR LIST Protools DAWs; Tascam, Ampex tape machines; AKG, Shure, Sennheiser microphones; Marshall, Fuchs, Orange guitar amps; Hammond, Fender, Korg keyboards; Slingerland, Ludwig, Pearl, Zildjian, Sabian, Paiste drum gear and more...
I believe…you’ll never be totally satisfied with what you’ve created. A record is never really done, it just finally reaches that point where you HAVE to stop working on it. There are a couple spots on the record where I think, “I should have put cool feedback there!” That kind of triviality. Other than that, I’m insanely pleased with how it turned out.
How much metal is too much?!
PAST CLIENTS Mastodon, Siberia My Sweet, James Hall, Jessie Marco, Ghost Party, Abby Gogo, The Swear and more… CONTACT INFO Owner: Mike Froedge Phone: (404) 277-3842 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.openskystudioatlanta.com Social: www.facebook.com/openskystudio
As a teenager, I exclusively listened to metal/punk/hardcore bands and grew up in that scene. Now, I’ll just squeeze in a record or two here and there. I’ll listen to my iPod on shuffle and Meshuggah or Converge will come on (two bands I love) and I just can’t do it. I start getting all sweaty and stressed and I have to scramble to put on The Beatles, Zeppelin, Boston, or something like that. That’s pretty much the idea behind Big Jesus. Heavy, but there’s enough melody to put you in a good mood.
6 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
LEARN. CONNECT. SUCCEED.
ER REGIST OR F Y EARL EST G G THE BI TS! N DISCOU
The only U.S. music conference 100% dedicated to songwriters and composers
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TAKE YOUR MUSIC TO THE NEXT LEVEL.
Celebrity Q&As Master Classes Songwriting & Composing Workshops Publisher & Business Panels DIY Career Building Workshops Showcases and Performances
Attendee Song Feedback Panels Networking Opportunities State-of-the-Art Technology Demos Leading Music Industry Exhibitors
NEW in 2014: EXPO registrations include free access to the panel videos after the event. That’s 60 hours worth of knowledge!
ONE-ON-ONE SESSIONS Our tremendously popular One-on-One Sessions give you a valuable opportunity to spend 15 minutes with a professional songwriter, composer or music industry executive. Register early – they fill up fast!
REGISTER NOW AT WWW.ASCAP.COM/EXPO @ascapexpo and
open to all music creators regardless of affiliation
12/30/13 10:38 AM
BOSTON LOCAL NEWS
2013 BMA WINNERS
The Field Effect pictured with their BMA for Song of the Year
Boston Music Awards Recap by Candace McDuffie / photo by Aram Boghosian This year’s Boston Music Awards proved to be another successful and dazzling celebration of local talent. The Liberty Hotel served as the backdrop for a night full of artists encouraging, not competing with, each other. Camaraderie was all around, and of course, so was great music. Different rooms contained different bands who only brought their A game. Pretty & Nice gave a percolating performance, Bearstronaut seduced us with their electronic evanescence, and Moe Pope (former Performer cover star) emoted nothing but battle-hardened rhymes. Top honors of the evening went to Bad Rabbits for Artist of the Year, Speedy Ortiz for Best New 8 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Artist, and Kingsley Flood nabbed Album of the Year for Battles (see complete winners list for more). The Best Music Blog award went to the newly launched Vanyaland, surprisingly beating out Allston Pudding from receiving it for a third year in a row. Regardless of who received accolades, it was clear that the BMAs was about continuing to nourish our local music scene and watching it thrive.
For more info,visit www.bostonmusicawards.com.
Artist of the Year: Bad Rabbits Album/EP of the Year: Kingsley Flood - Battles Song of the Year: The Field Effect - “Ogunquit ME” New Artist of the Year: Speedy Ortiz Live Artist of the Year: Eddie Japan Rock Artist of the Year: Deer Tick Hip-Hop Artist of the Year: Moe Pope & Rain Pop/R&B Artist of the Year: Bad Rabbits Americana Artist Of The Year: Girls Guns And Glory Blues Artist of the Year: Barrett Anderson DJ Artist of the Year: Frank White Electronic Artist of the Year: Bearstronaut Folk Artist of the Year: Aofie O’Donovan Gospel/Inspirational Artist of the Year: Kendall Ramseur International Artist of the Year: Los Rumberos de Boston Jazz Artist of the Year: Lake Street Dive Metal/Hardcore Artist of the Year: Converge Punk Artist of the Year: Big D And The Kids Table Singer/Songwriter of the Year: Lori McKenna Female Vocalist of the Year: Amy Renee Heidemann Male Vocalist of the Year: Ward Hayden Producer of the Year Clinton Sparks Video of the Year: “Acapella” by Karmin Best Boston Artist Who Doesn’t Live In Boston: Lady Lamb The Beekeeper Best Dance Night: Soulelujah Best Live Music Venue: The Sinclair Best Live Ongoing Residency: Session Americana At Lizard Lounge Best Music Blog: Vanyaland Unsung Hero Award: Charlie Chesterman
Clint Culberson Guitar/Vocals in MODOC by Brad Hardisty photo by Salomon Davis “I’ve lived throughout the Midwest, but generally say I’m from Indiana. Like most kids from there, I grew up with dreams of playing basketball. Obviously, I didn’t go pro... I found music early on, but it wasn’t until my teens that I discovered that I wanted to play rock and roll, so I picked up the guitar. After high school, I enrolled at Ball State University and played around the area with several groups. Eventually, I met the guys that would end up forming MODOC. We knew we would have a better chance of building a musical career in Nashville, so here we are! We’ve toured a ton this year, played some major festivals over the summer, signed with ZMG and just released a new record; so I’d say we made the right move!”
Carter Vintage Guitars Opens Near Cannery Row Offers Up Acoustic-Friendly Axe Testing Ground article and photography by Brad Hardisty Carter Vintage Guitars opened just this past June near Cannery Row and The Gulch after Walter and Christie Carter (who have a combined 50 years experience in vintage, boutique and high-end gear) envisioned a space that would provide a comfortable place for fine-fretted instruments and the people who appreciate them.
State-of-the-Art Venue and Top-Notch Grub
1979 Fender Vibrolux, Gibson SG Classic, and whatever I can get my hands on from Vintage King here in Nashville.
What are you trying to do in music?
We’re just trying to have our cake and eat it, too. I’d like to see MODOC build a nice, long career and keep playing to whoever will listen!
Being in Performer Magazine, of course! OK, I guess a close second would be producing and releasing our self-titled album this past August.
Three current local faves?
The WANS, The Cadillac III and The Gills. For more info, visit modocmusic.com
CONTACT INFO 625 8th Ave South Nashville, TN 37203 (615) 915-1851 www.cartervintage.com www.facebook.com/CarterVintage
Soulshine Pizza Near Music Row
What type of gear do you use?
Walter Carter served for ten years as Gibson’s in-house historian and has written a dozen books on vintage guitars including Gibson: 100 Years of an American Icon and Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Guitars. The 800-square-foot space has the best acoustics of any shop in town to hear the true tone of an instrument in a working environment, which has venue-style natural amplification. Carter Vintage offers vintage guitars, basses, mandolins and banjos, plus new instruments from a select group of makers, including Gibson Custom Shop, Magnatone Amps, Teye Guitars, Red Mountain, John McGuire, CSR, Hooper, Whipple Creek, Red Line, Gilchrist, Duff, Elkhorn, and Voight. Carter Vintage also has a full-line repair shop and appraisal service with future plans to offer advanced music classes with industry professionals.
Get to know
article and photography by Brad Hardisty STAGE & EQUIPMENT Soundmen Chad Fowler and Alex Gilson use a Behringer X32 FOH 16x82 console running 1,000-watt Crown amps and powered cabs featuring: 4 JBL 12” with horn hanging cabs, JBL 1,000-watt dual 15 subwoofer, 4 QSC K-series powered monitors, dual flat screens as well as full roll-down backdrop screen with in-house cameras, pro lighting, Shure SM58s, 86s, E604s and D12 for kick. The stage is a 15x20 foot half moon.
ABOUT They’re family-friendly, have a great variety of freshly prepared menu items, include full bars and offer live entertainment the way only the South can! A Mississippi original, Soulshine Pizza combines a huge mix of great pizza and food with a 175 capacity state-of-the-art venue upstairs pumping out every type of original music possible on Division Street – right in the heart of Music Row near Vanderbilt University. Each night has a different theme and is constantly booking new artists representing everything from indie rock, bluegrass, and blues to singer/songwriters. Friday nights feature local radio Lightning 100’s Band of the Week. Soulshine Pizza works with local radio to promote special events, as well. BOOKING INFO Standard Booking, Austin Marshall email@example.com Songwriter nights, Aubrey firstname.lastname@example.org 1907 Division Street Nashville, TN 37203 soulshinepizza.com facebook.com/SoulshineNash FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 9
RADIO PROMOTION (terrestrial, satellite, internet)
Dresden Dolls Bad Plus Girls Guns & Glory String Cheese Incident Esperanza Spalding Medeski Martin & Wood Steve Winwood Gov't Mule 311 Janis Ian Jim's Big Ego Stanley Clarke Umphrey's McGee Gretchen Parlato Miss Tess Mike Stern Soulive Maceo Parker PUBLICITY AND TOUR SUPPORT (print press and viral)
call: 800-356-1155 www: powderfingerpromo.com
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Fun Fun Fun Fest Gets Bigger & Better Plus 2014 Booking Info & More… article and photo by Tara Lacey
It has been a couple of months since Austin’s self proclaimed, foremost aficionados of fun and fellowship brought the quirky and creative music festival back to Auditorium Shores for its eighth consecutive year. Performer has watched it grow from a tiny little underground, punk rock fest held at Waterloo Park to a full-on force in the festival scene. This year’s event brought back the infamous taco cannon and a host of Twinkies raining from every stage. Texas’ Shiner Beer even produced limited edition cans commemorating the event while celebrating love of music and beer. In addition to the idiosyncrasy offered, the core of it all is always the musical lineup. This festival plays second fiddle only to SXSW in its promise to show festival goers the next big thing while simultaneously serving up nostalgia to the late twenty- and thirty-something crowds. In 2013, the lineup was studded with a throwback to the past featuring Snoop Dogg, Descendents, and Ice T. Each stage is sectioned off to cater to a different genre; Yellow is for comedy where Tenacious D and Sarah Silverman packed in audiences so tight that many stood no chance of seeing or hearing them. The yellow stage is housed under a tent, but the performers that make up the bill have long since outgrown the original space - and that’s an understatement. Blue is for electronic and hip-hop; highlights included Flatbush Zombies throwing down some Brooklyn flavored ‘Beast Coast’ hiphop while engaging the audience in some booty bouncing and blunt smoking. Dressed in tie dye
and wielding a 40 oz of OE, the trio rapped on unapologetically about ‘smokin’ it like it’s legal, blunt after blunt...’ After dark the blue stage does a 180 and the electronic sounds of Simian Mobile Disco and Bonobo commanded some of the largest crowds along with Deltron 3030. More than a handful of blue stage acts got bumped for sound issues, which riddled the entire festival this year - no stage was immune to feedback and static, making a number of the sets less than enjoyable. The orange stage hosted indie rock faves like Washed Out and Deerhunter as well as headliners Snoop Dogg and M.I.A., all of which were also plagued by sound issues where the bass rattled so loud that the vocals were barely discernable. Black stage hosted Ice T’s rock project Body Count as well as Flag, and Descendents. Body Count had the crowd charged up with some old-school thrash metal. If there were any sound issues, there would have been no way to tell through the heavy music and enthusiastic cries of the audience. It was a throwback to the days when T was rapping about popping caps in cops instead of buying diamonds for his wife on reality TV. Eclectic art and extreme sports played an even bigger part in the overall experience this year. The standard half pipe has grown to include a full-on makeshift skate park where festival goers can take part in BMX and skateboarding for all to see along with published letters from local teens pleading for places to skate in their home towns. Close by was a professional half pipe where X Games alums could show off their skills. SprATX (Spray TX) made up the central
fixture with a four-sided live graffiti art wall, where a number of artists took their turn at creating scenes for spectators to enjoy. Each day the previous artists’ work would be covered by another’s design. There were a couple of other enclaves where graffiti artists could go to work, but the central point of the festival was the pillar of street art featuring the work of various members of SprATX. As with many fests, as soon as the current year’s event draws to a close the team at Transmission Events begins planning the next festival. Each year Austin hosts ‘free week’ the first week in January on Red River, which is booked and produced largely by Transmission. Taking the stage at one of their venues throughout the year is the best way to generate some buzz and get the attention of the people that book FFFF. Red 7, Beerland, Mohawk, or North Door are a few venues worth exploring to put your band on Transmission’s radar. As of now recent changes imposed by the city of Austin on Fun Fun Fun Festival’s venue have left the fate of the 2014 event up in the air. The decisions have left the festival’s ardent fan base waiting in nervous anticipation for Transmission to confirm that there will be a ninth consecutive event.
For more info, visit funfunfunfest.com
FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 11
ST. PAUL, MN
VENUES TURF CLUB 1601 University Ave W Saint Paul, MN 55104 651.647.0486 www.turfclub.net The venue allows for a 300-person capacity, while offering a number of different shows throughout the week. The Turf Club also offers special “Country, Folk, and Bluegrass Sundays,” and is open for submissions. BIG V’S 1567 University Ave W Saint Paul, MN 55104 651.645.8472 www.facebook.com/pages/Big-Vs-Saloon This local bar is dedicated to promoting up and coming bands, as well as regionally touring bands. ROY WILKINS AUDITORIUM 175 Kellogg Blvd Saint Paul, MN 55145 651.265.4800 www.theroy.org This historical auditorium hosts a multitude of events, ranging from festivals to roller derby competitions. Their website contains a form for bands to submit to be considered to showcase at the venue. STATION 4 201 E 4th St St Paul, MN 55101 651.298.0173 www.station-4.com Live music is available at this dive bar every night, which is currently undergoing a remodeling. The venue welcomes seasoned and up-an-coming bands alike, and have contact information available on their website. Due to re-open in the spring. DEAN’S TAVERN 1986 Rice St Saint Paul, MN 55113 651.488.6868 www.deanstavern.com Booking bands only in the wintertime, Dean’s Tavern also holds karaoke and bingo nights as well. Artists ranging from blues to rock are showcased at the tavern.
St. Paul features a rich nightlife scene, although it is often overshadowed by its sister town of Minneapolis, which gave birth to Prince, Soul Asylum, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü and more. While those groups put the Min on the map, they also performed regularly in the St. Paul area, which still features several live venues for local and touring bands. Artists should not overlook the Twin Cities when planning gigs in the Upper Midwest. Minneapolis/St. Paul provides a convenient tour extension to bands already planning on traveling through Chicago and Milwaukee.
GEAR WILLIE’S AMERICAN GUITARS 254 Cleveland Ave S Saint Paul, MN 55105 651.699.1913 www.williesguitars.com This guitar shop specializes in use and vintage guitars as well as tube amplifiers. Those interested in finding basses, ukuleles, mandolins and fx pedals are also in luck. ELLIS DRUM SHOP 524 Snelling Ave N Saint Paul, MN 55104 651.603.0848 www.ellisdrumshop.com Any type of drumming equipment – ranging from cymbals, pedals, sticks and more – can be found here. Great for touring drummers who need to replace broken heads or pick up new sticks on the go.
PRESS STAR TRIBUNE www.startribune.com St. Paul and Minneapolis’s news source, in print and online. The newspaper also features a well-rounded Entertainment section. PIONEER PRESS www.twincities.com Another Minnesota news publication, with an extensive Arts & Entertainment section. MSP MAGAZINE www.mspmag.com A lifestyle-type magazine documenting artistic happenings around the St. Paul area.
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HALF MOON RUN by John Green photo by Valeria Cherchi
ON WRITING THEIR DEBUT ALBUM: “WE WEREN’T REALLY EVER INTERESTED IN PRECONCEIVED IDEAS ABOUT SONIC QUALITIES OR MESSAGES OR THEMES.”
HOMETOWN: Montreal, QC
GENRE: Indie Folk Rock
In the midst of an 18-month long international tour alongside Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters and Men, Metric and Patrick Watson, Half Moon Run made a stop back at their home base of Montreal last May to play a show on the banks of the Lachine Canal. As HMR made it on stage, the crowd of roughly 10,000 stood in the drizzling rain cheering in anticipation of their first song…not bad for the opening act. Flash forward to today, where the group is now headlining in Europe, performing songs from their debut album Dark Eyes, which was released in 2012. The band — Devon Portielje (lead vocals, guitars, drums), Conner Molander (vocals, guitars, keys), Dylan Phillips (vocals, drums, keys) and Isaac Symonds (vocals, drums, guitars 14 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
ARTISTIC APPROACH: Ditching writing clichés for jam space inspiration.
keys) — was dubbed by Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett as “one of the most important bands debuting an album” last year. During the writing process, Phillips said they had no idea what kind of sound they were going to produce. “We weren’t really ever interested in preconceived ideas about sonic qualities or messages or themes,” Phillips explains. “For us, the jam space is kind of a sacred place where you leave your ego and your preconceptions at the door and try to focus on the music at hand.” When released in Canada by Indica Records, the album received instant praise and was quickly picked up by Glassnote Entertainment Group to be released globally. Now, the band is looking forward to working on their next album, which Phillips believes will
be noticeably different than Dark Eyes. “We had almost completely different social lives [before], so any time we spent together was, for the most part, writing music,” he says. “We’re wondering what’s going to happen with album two now that we spend basically all of our time together on the road.” With musical influences that range from Bob Dylan and Steely Dan to Jon Hopkins and Bonobo, along with touring experiences like racing amps down hills in Leuven, Belgium and bodysurfing at 3 a.m. in Sydney, Australia, HMR is sure to find their own musical identity and sound. “It’s more interesting to try and free yourself from the idea and just write what feels best.”
PAPER TIGER SPOTLIGHTS
by Garrett Frierson photo by Sarah Jacobs
ON SOLID ENGINEERING: “IF IT CATCHES THEIR EAR, THEY’LL LISTEN MORE TO THE SUBTLETIES.”
HOMETOWN: Asheville, NC
Molly Kummerle and Dave Mathes have been through a lot the last few years. The duo form Asheville’s rising trip-hop act Paper Tiger, and in the three years since the release of their first record they’ve garnered acclaim, toured with major artists, lost a third of the band, and did an overhaul of their sound and show. It was time well spent. With a spat of tour dates and a new record on the horizon, the band is ready to move on in a big way. Paper Tiger’s critically-acclaimed first record, Me Have Fun, is defined by layers and layers of vinyl samples - a groovy, gritty backing orchestra for Kummerle’s sultry vocals. This foundation was provided by the band’s third member, crate miner Isaac Gottfried. After the release he left Paper Tiger amicably,
ARTISTIC APPROACH: Fusing experimentation and professionalism.
but his departure forced Kummerle and Mathes to rethink and redesign every aspect of the band. Instead of starting with Gottfried’s carefully constructed vinyl creations, Kummerle decided to write most of the material for the new record at home, layering her vocals with synthesizers to explore a darker new direction for the band. For Mathes, it’s important to think about the production and engineering process to get unique sounds. He says, “If it catches their ear, they’ll listen more to the subtleties.” Together they fleshed out demos into arrangements that captured the magic the vinyl provided before. “I was looking for ways to grunge the sounds up; I wanted to match the rawness of the records,” Mathes says of his goals during recording. He
ran tracks through long chains of analogue gear before sending it to the computer: “[It] smears the transients, which can sound cloudy but can also sound very classy.” The result is a record suspended in time, cuts of a synthesized history not dissimilar to our own that collect thoughts that exist beyond consciousness and distill them into flavors that will delight and amaze.
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The Flight of MUTUAL BENEFIT by Joshua James Amberson / photography by Whitney Lee
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EXPLORING EXPERIMENTAL POP COLLAGES WITH JORDAN LEE
In just a matter of months, Mutual Benefit has gone from passing the hat at a house show to being declared the next big thing. For Jordan Lee, the songwriter and leader of this mutable indie pop project, it’s a far cry from what he initially intended. “Mutual Benefit was where all my weird music went,” Lee says. Starting in 2008 as way to separate the more traditional pop music Lee was making under his name from the more experimental sound collages he was moving toward, the two projects soon became one. While it’d be hard to label it experimental music, the project’s penchant for lo-fi field recordings and its constantly fluctuating line-up makes it different from your average pop band. “Mutual Benefit’s been experimental not in the sense of being weird, but just experimental like, “I wanna try this thing out!’” Lee says. The sound Lee has cultivated over the last four years is a nice middle ground between worlds — an addicting and accessible experiment. Mutual Benefit’s new album, Love’s Crushing
Diamond, is Lee’s most thought-out pop experiment yet. Lying between a meticulously composed epic and the most transcendent jam session ever, it’s one of those albums that doesn’t come around very often. In short: It’s an album for people who love albums. The songs work so well together that after a few listens it’s hard to say what the single might be because it feels like one half hour-long song - slowing building, subtly referencing itself, working toward a complete thought. Using recordings made on $30 home recording equipment and hand-held recorders and mixing them with lush studio recordings, the album plays with the dichotomy of lo-fi ethereal and close-mic clean. The result is an album that feels intimate and personal while also feeling big and expansive. And it’s this album that has taken Lee out of obscurity and into the spotlight. Initially released by some of Lee’s friends, who used their tax return money to press the album to vinyl,
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“MUTUAL BENEFIT’S BEEN EXPERIMENTAL NOT IN THE SENSE OF BEING WEIRD, BUT JUST EXPERIMENTAL LIKE, ‘I WANNA TRY THIS THING OUT!’”
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“SOMETIMES I HEAR A BAND AND [ON] THEIR FIRST ALBUM THEY HAD TO DO IT THEMSELVES AND IT SOUNDS LIKE IT WAS RECORDED IN A BASEMENT…AND THEIR FOLLOW-UP IS THEIR FIRST TIME IN A STUDIO AND OFTENTIMES A LOT OF STUFF GETS LOST…I GUESS I’M HOPING THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN TO ME.” -JORDAN LEE
the record immediately sold better than any of them expected. But then a Pitchfork write-up that praised the song “Advanced Falconry” - essentially calling it the great modern mixtape song - led the album to selling out in a day. Soon after, the LP was re-released through Brooklyn label Other Music Recording Co. and in less than two months received more glowing reviews than most artists get in their whole career. Quitting his job and putting a hold on the house show circuit, he’s suddenly a full-time musician playing big showcases and moving into a world where there are people whose livelihoods depend in part on how well his album does - which is a little unfamiliar to Lee. “There is this motive that I’m not used to being there,” he says. Having his own livelihood depend on his music is even less familiar, but something he’s adjusting to. Lee says, “As a human being there has to be a certain level of bullshit in your life. And for a while bullshit was my money job and then I could make music 100% for fun. And now music is both the bullshit and the fun thing in my life...I think I like it for now.” Lee’s tender voice, sound experimentation, and use of both orchestral and electronic elements have drawn many comparisons to Sufjan Stevens and early-2000s projects like The Microphones. These are not unfair comparisons by any means, but Mutual Benefit is an interesting intersection of music. His indie pop doesn’t follow traditional song structures and manages to stitch together musical worlds without showing the seams. Take the vocals out and it could easily be compared to the ambient work of Eluvium or Colleen, or the less beat-driven work of Four Tet. The new album’s strong thread and happy/ sad tone give it many of the same qualities that made Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago album so special. And if you get caught up in the slow builds and lyrics’ natural imagery, it begins to feel like some of the more mellow psych-folk of the ’60s and ’70s.
Mutual Benefit Love’s Crushing Diamond Standout Track: “Advanced Falconry”
Lee says his inspirations often come from albums that mix pop music with idiosyncratic symphonic arrangements, mentioning Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left and Joanna Newsom’s Ys as “albums I can’t go through a week without listening to,” while his more experimental side has largely been fueled by the catalog of Finnish label Fonal Records - in particular their 2008 release from Finnish band Paavoharju, Laulu Laakson Kukista, a texturally-rich ambient-noise album recorded at a cathedral in the woods of Finland. Lee lovingly talks about how different parts of the album sound like they were made by someone walking through a room and briefly recording the musicians while passing through. “That just totally blew my mind,” Lee says, “to actually feel movement within a song.” While the next Mutual Benefit album might have more financial support behind it than previous efforts, Lee doesn’t see it changing his desire to play with movement and fidelity. “Sometimes I hear a band and, you know, their first album they had to do it themselves and it sounds like it was recorded in a basement or something. And their
follow-up album is their first time in a studio and oftentimes a lot of stuff gets lost, like it just sounds too smoothed over,” he says. “I guess I’m hoping that doesn’t happen to me.” To him, keeping the life in a recording is more than just equipment and fidelity, “part of it too is just leaving some of the mistakes in and, I don’t know, just making it sound more human. I think that can be translated through fancy or not-fancy equipment.” Almost instantly following any success story, there’s always the question of how to follow it up. Lee takes this pressure in stride, though, saying he’s less worried about keeping the popularity going and is more concerned with staying artistically driven. And though he’s happy to ride the wave while it’s here, he says he never wants to be above playing a house show or self-releasing a cassette. When asked what he wants the future of Mutual Benefit to look like, Lee simply says, “If I could just stay inspired as much as possible, I’d be happy.” mutualbenefit.bandcamp.com
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ZOLA JESUS ON THE BENEFITS OF FINDING CREATIVITY IN ISOLATION by Garrett Frierson photos by Sarah Jacobs
It’s a brisk autumn day in Asheville, North Carolina, but that doesn’t bother Nika Roza Danilova, aka Zola Jesus. She’s here to perform at the Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit, the last show of her tour with JG Thirlwell and the Mivos Quartet in support of her latest album. That album was inspired by a gig and has in turn inspired her to write with more fervor than ever before. She is darkly philosophical and avoids uniformity at all costs, only 24-yearsold but with more drive than artists twice her age. To outsiders it may seem that she has come a long way since her 2009 debut, but for anyone who has kept close tabs on Zola Jesus, it’s clear this is only the beginning.
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ON WRITING IN ISOLATION: “YOU CREATE IN YOUR OWN WORLD; THERE IS SO MUCH FREEDOM, THE CREATION IS MORE INSTINCTIVE.”
Growing up in the deep woods of Wisconsin leaves you no stranger to low temperatures and long periods with little human contact. She spent her formative years surrounded by trees, a wideopen sky and whatever music she could get her hands on. She loved all kinds but it was the powerful voices in opera that drew her in and inspired her to begin singing on her own. More at ease in isolation than in company, she felt music would help her interact with others more easily. Her teenage years were spent in lessons as she tried to force her voice to become like those of the great operatic singers until, one day, she realized that it wasn’t going to make her happy. “Then I began to try to unlearn it all,” she says of her years just before going to college, trying to find a place in her voice where she felt confident and comfortable. Zola Jesus recorded her first album, The Spoils, in her dorm room at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, writing and producing between classes. The Spoils was industrial melancholia pop that ran counter to most everything coming out at the time. The sounds were abrasive, the harmonies often discordant, with Zola’s powerful voice coming through buried in reverb and delay. The record garnered Internet buzz in a music community looking for a new sound, and Zola left college to begin touring. She was going to chase her dream, but it would bring with it a host of obstacles. Zola spent many years writing, practicing, and producing alone. Time spent holed up from the Wisconsin winters isolated her from whatever trend came and went as she explored her own ideas. “You create in your own world,” she says of the process, “there is so much freedom, the creation is more instinctive.” Despite recently moving to L.A. where winter never comes, she still writes and produces her music alone, admitting she finds the collaborative process challenging. The first time she worked with other musicians was for her first tour, recruiting a bassist, drummer, and synth player to help perform her songs live. “It’s a steep learning curve, reconciling their ideas with what you want. You have to develop a kind of internal language.” It was a difficult process, but for Zola “challenges are opportunities to grow.” It was well worth it; her tours have drawn crowds and praise across the country. In the five years since The Spoils Zola Jesus has released two albums and provided guest vocals for artists such as M83, Prefuse 73, and 22 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Orbital. The years have shown her grow as a writer and producer, embracing more organic sounds that have, in combination with her incredible voice, added a classical edge to her reverb-laden industrial-pop creations. Through it all she has been steadfast in her resolution to keep complete control over her art, writing in seclusion and avoiding the confines of a traditional recording studio until this year. This trepidation to collaborate makes her fourth album, Versions, all that more impressive. Grandiose in ambition and beautifully intimate, it marks a turning point in her career. Versions began as a oneoff, a gig at the Guggenheim that she wanted to do something special for. “I wanted to take advantage of the acoustics,” she says, “I’ve always wanted to use strings but could never afford them.” To make this dream come to life she asked avant-garde composer JG Thirlwell (aka Foetus) to arrange selections from her first three albums for string quartet and electronic percussion. This required a huge leap of faith. She was on tour while he arranged the music and they had little interaction, a tortuous time for someone who usually has absolute control over her sound. “I don’t like people touching my music, but I felt JG Thirlwell shouldn’t be inhibited. It was hard but I committed myself.” The show at the Guggenheim turned out to be equal parts success and inspiration. Pitchfork filmed the concert and the crowd packing the museum’s spirals to hear this young artist’s new sound. Zola herself was so taken in that she asked Thirlwell and the quartet to come record her next album and accompany her on tour. Versions is not a retrospective, but an introspective moment as she pushes towards new frontiers: a complete reintroduction to Zola
Jesus. Despite having no new songs, it feels fresh and inspired. The recontextualization of her material brings out emotions that were previously drowned out. We no longer hear her crying out from an unknown beyond, she’s close and intimate. The songs become less about existential angst and take on loving, painful qualities. Versions opener “Avalanche” is a perfect example. Originally on 2011’s Conatus, the old “Avalanche” has Zola at a distance, caught somewhere between the synthesized string parts and quantized IDM drum beats that flitter around her. It is emotional but disconnected, as if the artist will only allow her pain to be viewed from afar. In contrast, the new “Avalanche” puts her at the ear’s edge, as if she’s disclosing her secrets and struggles to a close friend or lover. The strings swell organically and rest comfortably behind, allowing her to sing passionately but softly and bring out warm tones in her voice that aren’t
Listen Now performermag.com
Zola Jesus, Versions Standout Track: “Fall Back”
“CHALLENGES ARE OPPORTUNITIES TO GROW.”
present in her trademark belt. It is the sound of an artist finding courage to match the strength of her voice, letting down her guard and overcoming her fears. The sound of a woman taking control of who she is becoming as an artist. The next album is in the works and will be her most ambitious yet, combining all she’s learned so far with the drive to push her art forward. Versions showed her how much there is to explore within the material she’s already written, how many different angles can be developed from the same source. Now she’s taking the time to be her own collaborator. “I’m writing ten different versions of every song for this album” she says, “I want to do some exploration beforehand.”
Nika Roza Danilova was afraid of a lot of things when she was young, and so she started writing and performing music. It began as a way to combat her anxiety and overcome her fears. Over the past five years she’s channeled these struggles into a unique artistic voice with a remarkably original approach to music. She is woman who refuses to conform, even to herself. Though her voice will always remain the recognizable centerpiece of her music, the rest will change drastically over time. No one can ever predict what will come next from Zola Jesus. www.zolajesus.com
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THE CHALLENGES OF BRINGING FRENCH METAL TO THE WORLD STAGE
GOJ I RA AN INTERVIEW WITH GOJIRA FRONTMAN JOE DUPLANTIER by Jason Korolenko / photography by Matt Lambert
November 30. A dark, hot arena in punch rhythmically at the sky. Gojira NYC audience a few nights prior. Itâ€™s Lowell, Massachusetts. A paraplegic frontman Joe Duplantier watches hard to imagine how any crowd could man strapped into his wheelchair with a smile on his face, furiously resist the powerful stomp of this floats over the audience, dozens picking away at his guitar. When the French monster. of hands holding him safely aloft song ends, he praises the enthusiastic while his own hands form fists and masses, commenting on a lackluster
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But make no mistake; Duplantier claims Gojira is not a “French” band. “In France,” he explains during an interview in Vermont a few days before, “the vibe of the country is very far apart from metal, so we cannot really go, ‘Yeah, we’re French!’” He laughs, mimicking an angry-faced musician playing a guitar slung low. Though all business on stage, the amiable frontman exudes an infectious sense of calm while discussing his band, their connections to France and to the world. “Mario - my brother - and myself, we have an American mother. She was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and she grew up in the States. She traveled to France, met my dad, and stayed in France. Never came back to the U.S. So we had, also, this American education. I mean, even though I was born and raised in France I had more of something else, this education, so since I’m a kid, I’m like, ‘I’m not French, I’m a human being.’ So Gojira is more like a ‘human being’ band. An intellectual band.” The concept of French intellectualism becomes apparent with just a glance at the band’s lyrics. Standard heavy metal tropes and clichés are nowhere to be found. Gojira takes a more philosophical stance than their peers, choosing instead to cover such topics as the power of nature, personal spirituality, and respect for all life. Even though Duplantier’s approach to writing lyrics may be culturally reflective, he says, “I never tried to sing in French. It was completely natural to sing in English. I guess I wanted to sound like Metallica and Sepultura. But more than that…when you want to deliver a message, you want to be understood by the world. The idea of communicating something to the world, it cannot be in French, really.” Growing up in the small town of Bayonne in the southwest of the country, Joe (and his brother Mario, who has served as Gojira’s drummer since the group’s inception in 1996) discovered an early interest in art and music. “I learned piano a little bit when I was a kid,” he says. “I would never work on piano, really, but I would still take lessons and then not work during the week because I thought it was a little boring. But I grew up with the sound. The very first guitar I had was my mother’s guitar and it was just a piece of crap. It was an old, classical guitar, all broken and beat up, with two strings 26 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
“IT’S KIND OF STRANGE TO GO ON THE ROAD FOR SO LONG…I WISH I COULD BE IN TWO PLACES AT THE SAME TIME, IN THE STUDIO CONSTANTLY, CREATING STUFF, BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT I LIKE THE MOST.” on it. But I would spend hours on it, trying to make a sound. I thought guitar was really difficult until I grabbed a real guitar and I was like, ‘Whoaaa!’” But in those days, there was no heavy metal scene to speak of in France, and kids felt enormous pressure from society to pick a “respectable” career path early in life and stick with it until retirement or death. “In school and society,” Duplantier explains, “the outside world would be like, ‘No, this is not a job,’ but we were lucky to have very open-minded parents. When your parents back you up, it helps a lot. I mean, you see your kids playing and completely passionate about music…do your thing. And if one day you’re a bum in the street,” he adds, laughing, “that’s your problem!” The Duplantiers’ parents, as well as those of guitarist Christian Andreu and bassist JeanMichel Labadie, may have been on to something. Gojira’s latest album - 2012’s L’Enfant Sauvage - is their first for the renowned Roadrunner Records label and their fifth overall. The album has seen them headlining multiple tours across Europe and the United States, and most recently, wrapping up a tour as special guests for Slayer,
which ended its run at the Tsongas Center in Lowell. They are scheduled to play Australia’s Soundwave Festival in February, and are currently ironing out details for a possible tour of Japan in early 2014. The routine has been grueling, non-stop since the album’s release. This is the reality of a working band in the Internet era, when almost no one buys albums anymore. “Life on the road is not easy,” Joe adds. “We get mentally and physically very, very tired. Right now, we are exhausted.” And for a band like Gojira, there is little breath to be had from show to show. Between supporting slots with Slayer, they headline one-off gigs whenever possible, and to keep things exciting for themselves as well as the crowds, the band tries to change things up whenever they can. “Mario is the one deciding the setlist, usually. You know, ‘This song after this song will boost the energy, then we need something to chill, and go back to something stronger.’ He’s really good at it.” But Duplantier is aware of the toll so many months on the road can take. “We have a lot of songs, of course, but there’s just a handful
of songs we’re able to play in that state of fatigue. Don’t get me wrong; we put 100%, all our energy goes into each show, and it’s very important to us. It’s like a mission. But because we’re so tired, we can’t be like, ‘Oh, let’s play that old song that we haven’t played in years.’ The way we put the songs together, and how we interpret—how we play them—that’s what makes the concert unique.” Judging by their performance in Lowell priming the audience for Slayer, or by their brutal headlining gig in Burlington, Vermont, one would never know this was a band past the edge of exhaustion. “It’s kind of strange to go on the road for so long,” Duplantier continues. “We’re hungry for new songs. I wish I could be in two places at the same time, in the studio constantly, creating stuff, because that’s what I like the most.” In the gap between the end of the Slayer tour and next year’s round of appearances, Gojira hopes to burn through some new material in the recording studio. In fact, they have begun writing already, on the tour bus, a phenomenon that Joe admits is rather new for them. “I actually hate it. I mean, I love it when
there’s an idea and it works and it sounds like there are things happening, but it’s really weird to sit in the middle of all these shoes - because everybody throws their shoes in the back lounge, and dirty socks - and a computer, and [Mario’s drum] pad…we’re not a rock band anymore, you know? It’s like being in a cage, a stinky cage with a computer. It’s not the same. I need to be in a room with my friends and jam, so I cannot wait to get to that stage.” The conditions are far from ideal, working with GarageBand software and the limited amount of technology they can haul with them on the bus. “It’s mostly riffs and ideas that we record,” he says. “We have a list of riffs, but we don’t have, really, a song. Well, we have two songs that [we think], ‘Okay, there’s a structure here and there are enough ideas to make something.’ Some of the stuff is really exciting, but the conditions are really difficult, and when the bus is driving…” Duplantier shakes his head, chuckling again. The exhaustion he spoke of earlier is still far from apparent. He appears comfortable and confident as he considers the next steps of the band.
When confronted with the fact that Gojira is fast approaching its 20th anniversary, he remains as philosophical as ever. “I don’t care,” he says, smiling. “I just try to be a better person, and my personal life is very important for me - my family - and trying to have a life that I actually enjoy. Of course [with] the band, yeah, it’s like, ‘Holy shit, it’s more than half of my life.’ My adult life is Gojira. Almost all of it. What we do, though, is we work hard making our group healthy, communicating, having good moments and being on the same page, all of us. With different personalities, sometimes it is not easy, but I feel we’re doing a pretty good job.” www.gojira-music.com
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Sharon Jones e h t d n a
by Amanda Macchia photography by Kyle Dean Reinford
KICKING CANCERâ€™S ASS AND DEVASTATING THE STUDIO WITH SASS AND CLASS Sharon Jones is an American treasure. One of the purest, most authentic soul singers around, sheâ€™s overcome massive amounts of adversity to become the respected pillar of music she is today. Last summer Jones was diagnosed with cancer, but after successful surgery and ongoing treatment, she and her band the Dap-Kings are back with a vengeance, unleashing their latest album, Give The People What They Want, on a very eager public. Mixing sass with class, we recently had a chance to speak with the soul siren about the making of the new record and her creative process with the band.
“THERE’S NO TIME FOR NO FAKE AND PHONY. JUST BE YOURSELF. ’CAUSE IF I CAN’T BE ME, IT’S TIME FOR ME TO STOP.”
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The first time I saw you was in 2009 at the Knitting Factory. It was during CMJ. The show was a Daptone Records Super Soul Revue. I went to see the Budos Band, but I got blown away by you and the DapKings. I think Lee Fields came out on stage,too. The sheer energy and the soul. How do you do it?
When I go out on stage I don’t think, I don’t plan it. It just happens naturally. A lot of my energy I get from feeding off the audience and the band. We all just feed off of each other. When the whole band is there and we’re locked, it’s almost like a spiritual thing…like an out of body, out of mind experience. And I don’t conjure up anything, I just always look at it as a blessing. That I have the energy, at my age of 57, to get on the stage for an hour, two hours, and jump around like a maniac. The last few months I’ve had the opportunity to sit back and go online and look at all these shows on YouTube, and stuff that people put out. And it’s just amazing, you know? I amaze myself when I’m watching myself put the energy on, and just how we do on stage. For the last 18-19 years I’ve been working, you know? This is the longest break I ever had. And it wasn’t something I wanted to do, you know? This is because of the sickness, the cancer. Other than that, I would be gone.
How are you handling taking a break from music?
It’s not like I’m taking a break. I’m sick. They’re putting poison in my system; I’m taking chemo. And this stuff is tearing me down. Like right now I walk up 16 steps and by the time I get to step number 19, I’m about to die. But now, this is my time for recovery. For healing. It’s not to say I have no time for music. I can’t even concentrate on music. I couldn’t even sing up until about a month ago. I couldn’t even get air in my diaphragm like that. They removed my gallbladder, the head of my pancreas, about a foot and a half of my small intestines were taken out, and then they had to build me another bile duct and connect it to my stomach. This is what I went through since June… June 11th was the operation. I always say I don’t believe God brought me this far to leave me. Everything that’s put in my way, is put in my way for a reason, and I’m gonna take it one day at a time.
And yet, through all of that, you’re doing
interviews and getting ready for the release of an album. You still have to work.
A few weeks ago we had rehearsals. First time I’d been with the guys since May 2nd. I went over all of the songs from the album and it felt good. That was my first time singing since May. So everything takes its time, you know? I think I was in town for three days, and when I got back to recovery it took me six days to be out of bed. [Rehearsals] just tired me out… That’s why I don’t want to do too much, because once I get back out there on the stage, I wanna be out there. I don’t wanna get on the stage and have them say, ‘Oh Sharon’s gotta cancel shows again, ’cause she wasn’t ready.’ So, right now, it’s a hard thing. In my heart, I believe that I’m gonna be ready when the time comes. But right now, talking to you today, honey, nuh-uh.
Listen Now performermag.com
You’ve been so honest with your fans throughout this whole process.
I’m glad I am because I’m that type of person. Some people wanted me to wait to tell people that I’m getting chemo. I’m like, ‘No. I want to tell my fans. I want to tell my friends. I want them to know what I’m going through, so they can understand. I don’t want them thinking that [I’m] gonna be out there in a couple months. That [I’m] OK.’ I’m not OK. But…. I am OK, you know? And I want them to see. I want to put up a picture with my bald head. I’m not ashamed of it. I mean, I’m not proud of it either. I’m not happy about it. You know I would prefer it with a hat or a wig if I could, but I put on a wig and I didn’t like the way it looked. So I don’t wanna a wig. I’ll do the natural bald [thing] for a while.
I think it’ll make a very powerful statement.
I think so. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m not trying to sugarcoat anything. There’s no time for no fake and phony. Just be yourself. ’C’ause if I can’t be me, it’s time for me to stop.
The video for “Retreat!” just came out. Can you tell me a little bit about that production?
“Retreat!” was done in the summer. I was sick and I didn’t even realize it. And the meaning of that song had a different meaning during the summer. Now, from the video, and even in the cancer, it has a whole ’nother meaning. I look at the song
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Give The People What They Want Standout Track: “Retreat!”
and see… I’m beating the cancer. I’m overcoming it. I’m getting back out here to the world and to my fans and lettin’ them know - I’ve battled this cancer and I overcame it. I beat it. And that’s what the video says to me now. Can’t hold me down!
Let’s get into your creative process. The band writes the music and the lyrics to your songs? The band writes ’em all. Isn’t it amazing?
I mean, yes. That song “100 Days, 100 Nights” popped into my head today. That song feels so personal when you sing it.
[sings] ‘To know a man’s heart...’ That song almost didn’t make the album! And we ended up naming the album 100 Days, 100 Nights. We couldn’t decide if we needed to do it fast or slow. So we tried it fast and said, ‘NEEHHH...’ Then we tried it slow and said , ‘AHHH ...’ FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 31
ON COLLABORATING WITH HER BAND: “YOU WROTE IT FOR ME, I’M GONNA SING THE SONG. I’M A SOUL SINGER. YOU CAN’T TEACH ME HOW TO SING SOUL!”
What about this new album? One of your bandmates was quoted as saying this is one of the best albums Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings have put out to date.
I can’t say its gonna be one of the greatest, because we’re gonna be doin’ more stuff. And how can you outdo yourself? [laughs] You know what I mean? Put it like this - we put music out, and we like it. And whatever we do in the studio and put out there, we hope our fans like it. If we don’t like it, it don’t make sense to put it out.
Can you tell me a little bit about how you and the Dap-Kings create a record together?
It’s weird. In the studio, you have to realize that the drummer might pick on the guitar, and the guitar player might be on the drums, and the bass player might pick up a guitar or get on the drums. They switch around and come up with
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some grooves, and then they come back with some lyrics. They’ll have an idea of how they want it to go. But…not on one of these songs that they gave me, I did it exactly the way they told me to do. ’Cause I can’t. Because that’s not soulful. And I try to tell them. You bring the song to me, I’m gonna sing the song the way I wanna sing it. You wrote it for me, I’m gonna sing the song. I’m a soul singer. You can’t teach me how to sing soul! It’s like I’m not trying to tell you how to play your instrument, you know? So don’t try to tell me how to sing the song. Why don’t you play the music? That’s how I know where you’re going, you know? Follow the music. Follow the chords. But I’m thinking soul. When I hear a song I think, ‘What would Tina Turner do with this?’ When I was with Lou Reed and he gave me that verse in “Sweet Jane”…I’d never heard of “Sweet Jane.” And when I heard the way he was
singing it, you know, [laughs] I was like ‘Hmmm…’ And then I thought of Tina Turner…[begins singing], ‘Jack, he is a banker…’ And I went up there! And so, if I’m gonna do something, I’m like this - if people ask me to do a song, than you want me to do the song soulful. If you want a pop singer, or somebody to sing it poppy or whatever, then get some young girl out here to do that. But not me. To my band members, they don’t have no problem! They know I’m gonna take it and I’m gonna do what I gotta do with it, ’cause I’m not gonna do anything wrong. I’m gonna do it right! I’m gonna do what I do! And it sounds good. www.sharonjonesandthedapkings.com
PAPADOSIO review by Garrett Frierson / photography by Sarah Jacobs
November 7, 2013 Highline Ballroom – New York, NY
The Meatpacking District in Manhattan is known for fancy boutiques, dining, and nightclubs that cater to fashionable patrons who walk the cobblestone streets in high heels and expensive suits. But one night in early November, it was invaded by a crowd of tie-dyed college students coming to see the future of jamming. Papadosio is music’s Doctor Frankenstein, dissecting vast quantities of genres to find their basic elements, then recombining the broken parts into novel new creations. The band came on stage and launched into a tricky angular beat that
PHILOSOPHY ON REVIEWS 34 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
switched to a heavier groove within the first minute, then came back to a lighter feel before diving right back in. Each song bled into the next as they wove electronica, rock, reggae, funk, lounge, and other styles into a sonic blanket that enveloped the dancing crowd. The band was backed by several LED screens showing videos and still images by artists the band had partnered with. The visual creativity matched the music, moving from Tron-esque dystopias to Mexican-American inspired tapestries as quickly as the band moved from electronic jazz
to reggae-tinged metal. Papadosio has made their name through extensive touring and it shows; the band was tight and on point all night long, jamming not just with each other, but also with the incredible light show and the students who braved the cold New York streets to be there.
OUR REVIEW SECTION IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT. We don’t use a numbered scale or star system,
new releases that we’re really enjoying, and that we recommend you check out. We also mix in a few of our favorite
and we don’t feature music we don’t like. Instead, think of this as our top picks of the month. These are the
live shows, as well as books and videos from time to time. Listen to the music featured at performermag.com
Dissecting genres to find their basic elements and
recombining the parts into novel creations.
FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 35
LEEDZ EDUTAINMENT SHOW OF THE MONTH
Dub-rock-Afrobeat gumbo that re-educated
expectations of Lauryn Hill.
December 18, 2013 / Royale – Boston, MA review and photo by Ian Doreian
Lauryn Hill destroyed her doubters in an ambitious, two-and-a-half hour whirlwind at Royale. Blending her songs into a dub-rockAfrobeat gumbo, she proved her versatility as an implacable singer, rapper, and conductor. It was the second show of a December “Homecoming Tour,” Ms. Hill’s first foray after a three-month incarceration for tax evasion. Even if she sported an ankle monitoring bracelet, there was no holding back her vivacious energy: gesturing for her backup singers to “make it beautiful,” or crouching low to unleash a barrage of neo-Marxist brilliance from her new track “Consumerism.” Hill commanded the entire 36 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
stage, everything from pacing guitar interludes and orchestrating an unscripted sing-a-long for Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” She owned the Boston crowd. The set list reflected Hill’s wide musical influences. Transitioning a cover of The Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes for You” into “Zealots” (the Fugee’s track that sampled the doo-wop original), Hill effortlessly shifted from diva to blunt spitter. The shift propelled the show into nostalgic ecstasy as Hill tackled her bars from The Score. And Wyclef’s. And Pras’s. It was a moment of lyrical agility, deftly running through “How Many Mics,” “Fu-Gee-La,”
“Ready or Not,” and “Killing Me Softly” with only brief pauses to refresh her flow. After an encore break, Hill took up an acoustic guitar for “Mr. Intentional” and “Damnable Heresies.” While these moments intimated her disappointing MTV Unplugged album, Ms. Hill wasn’t going out like that. To close, she regained momentum by driving the band into a raucous rendition of “Doo-Wop (That Thing).” On this night, there was a refocused edge to Lauryn Hill. Take notice; L. Boogie is ready for more stages in 2014. www.lauryn-hill.com
Adrian Krygowski Roam Nashville, TN (Self-released)
“Soaked in moonshine, drenched in strings and redeemed in wanderlust” Picking up where Uncle Tupelo left off on March 16-20, 1992 with songs that bitterly celebrate moonshiners, barflies and the average American, East Nashville’s Adrian Krygowski dives headfirst into a raw, yet brilliantly composed record entitled Roam that brings his espoused “soul-folk” genre full-circle. What makes this record immediately enticing is Krygowski’s alternating vocal styles, which makes the listener swear that they are listening to more than one singer dialoguing on these tracks. What one soon realizes is the conversation is more internal than external and eventually determines these kind of half-drunken ramblings plague their own minds when the bottle reaches a point-of-no-return emptiness. Krygowski owes some debt to the songwriting of Jay Farrar, whose aforementioned Tupelo broke down barriers for alternative country in the early-’90s (Roam’s “Drunkard’s Hiccups” pays homage to Farrar’s “Moonshiner” with a tad more earnestness and experience to back it up), but the songwriter does not settle for comparisons and mines deep, traditional and innovative territory with each composition. A Daytrotter session and shows with members of Dr. Dog and Johnny Fitz prove that Krygowski will continue a steady uphill slope to some amazing accolades and songs that will stay with you long after the album ends. Engineered by Keith Compton Mastered by Garrett Haines at Treelady Studios www.adriankrygowski.com -Chris Davidson
Crushed Stars Farewell Young Lovers Dallas, TX (Simulacra Records)
“Farewell young lovers; Hello timeless sounds” The cover of Farewell Young Lovers possesses the qualities of a Polaroid picture. It’s textured, nostalgic, full of mystery and timeless - a most appropriate description of the
album’s contents. Multi-instrumentalist Todd Gautreau and drummer Jeff Ryan worked with producer Stuart Sikes (White Stripes, Cat Power) to create Farewell Young Lovers. With only nine tracks, the album immediately grabs your attention with “Flowerbomb” and takes you on a journey through sonic textures that would make the perfect soundtrack to a favorite memory. A quick Google search by a new fan results in several links to articles and reviews that refer to the band’s music as dreamy psychedelia. But Farewell Young Lovers offers so much more than that. While fans of their classic sound might prefer the more mellow vibes of “Fly” or “Crocodiles,” there are up-tempo tracks like “Haters” that make you want to dance a bit when you hear it, even if you don’t mean to. Altogether, the collection creates an experience…one worth sharing and repeating. The only disappointment is that the journey ends 32 minutes after it begins. But just as the could-be Polaroid on the cover, Farewell Young Lovers presents a picture worth wondering over and appreciating over and over again. Produced by Stuart Sikes & Todd Gautreau Mixed by Stuart Sikes Mastered by Alan Douches www.crushedstars.com -Teshanna Wilson
Dead Waves Take Me Away EP Queens, NY (Self-released)
“Dredged out guitars, head-mashing snare and faded, blistered lyrics” “We never die,” repeats singer Teddy Panopoulos who, along with his brother/guitarist Nick and drummer Fabien Streit, offer a respite for none in their teeth-kicking, six-track Take Me Away EP. Queens NY trio Dead Waves are full of surprises; the gates open with “Planet of Tribes” and the gambit is an ambush, a treacherous assaulting wash of electric guitar, dinned percussion and Teddy’s growling lyric-blender voice. Jarring the mindless subway platform icebreaker, “I see the train coming.” Teddy’s words are simplistic, agitated and deliver with “fuck you” retribution - every song aiming to break through an apathetic wall of banal routine. Each song yanks the listener in a different direction, one moment will flash the muddy Melvins, the following a textured youthful disillusion like the Thermals and the Bronx. Dead Waves forge Continued on 39
DRUM LESSONS with DEAN JOHNSTON 617.388.5395 firstname.lastname@example.org CALL OR WRITE FOR A FREE EVALUATION BOSTON, MA
VINYL OF THE MONTH
OPPOSITION RISING Get Off Your Ass, Get Off Your Knees EP
Boston, MA (Opposition Records/Pirates Press Records/ Rodent Popsicle Records/Riotska Records)
“A metric fuck-ton of guttural, hardcore fury” The sonic bombast that opens Opposition Rising’s new EP is a bit of a false start, tricking the listener into thinking they’ve perhaps picked up a raucous Cheap Trick album. But about 20 seconds in, a full-on onslaught of Boston hardcore is jammed down your throat like a well-mixed cocktail of whiskey and Blackflagohol. The EP is fantastic, so let’s put that right out on front street. Why is it great? Because it’s balls-to-the-wall, authentic Boston hardcore. Waving the flag like Performer faves CHEECH, Opposition Rising gets everything right about
38 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
what it is to make aggressive, abrasive East Coast music. This ain’t no California skateboard pop nonsense. This is for the kids who wake up in the gutter covered in someone else’s piss and vomit. Delightful, no? If forced to pick a standout track, this reviewer opts for the minute-long “No Way Out,” if only for its sheer brutality and in-your-face staccato chorus assault. But really, all five tracks are killer, and any fan of BHC should cop this vinyl immediately.
Produced by Richard Marr Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering Recorded at Galaxy Park Studios, Boston Size: 10-inch Speed: 45 rpm Color: Black Vinyl oppositionrising.bandcamp.com review by Benjamin Ricci photo courtesy of Dig It All Studios
variation; amid the dissolved grandiosity, rockdefiant guitar solos pierce and pull the listener through the cataclysmic din (“Over Me” and “Big Fish”). Drums simplify then reignite, words soften then boil back. “Instead” takes bold swings, going from a Dead Kennedys-like “Pull My Strings” washed groove, into hard wallowing vectors, Teddy punching away, “I never shut down for you.” Engineered, Recorded, Mixed and Produced by Nick Panopoulos and Teddy Panopoulos Mastered by Pete Maher www.deadwaves.com -Christopher Petro
The Difference Machine The Psychedelic Sounds of the Difference Machine Atlanta, GA (Psych Army Intergalactic)
“ATL hip-hop tosses up grooves and fxladen chill-outs” This group is not for the weak of heart, Performer fans. The Difference Machine, an ensemble straight from Atlanta, Georgia, is an ode to the old school, chill, psychedelic hip-hop genre that surfaced with groups like Living Legends. Vaguely reminiscent of Deltron 3000, the Difference Machine produces effects-heavy tracks that anyone looking for a laid back afternoon should get their hands on ASAP. The Psychedelic Sounds of the Difference Machine initially sounds like it should be played on the beaches of California, blasting for the surfers coming in from the waves and hitting the skate parks. Yet, the band describes their music in a very unique way, stating that, “We have seen the world as it truly is, from an infinite point of view. We are not ministers, philosophers or politicians, we are psychedelic rap machines.” Perhaps this relates them to Flobots. The group’s music is very layered; Dr Conspiracy and DT, along with their five traveling members, provide depth to their sound using a mix of cymbals, loops of lazy riffs, special sound effects and rhymes laid over the top. This group will quickly join the ranks of Dr. Octagon and Atmosphere, so keep an eye out for the rise of The Difference Machine. Produced by Dr. Conspiracy Mastered by John Gowen thedifferencemachine.bandcamp.com -Hannah Lowry
The Family Crest Beneath The Brine San Francisco, CA (Tender Loving Empire)
“Community-building orchestral pop” For many independent musicians, success is having a community of supportive fans. In this sense, creating a band is about more than just making great music; it’s about building community. The Family Crest does both of these things at once by inviting people from across the country to participate in their recordings and live performances. The group’s latest album, Beneath The Brine, includes the musical contributions of at least seventy “Extended Family members,” some with little or no previous musical experience. The result is dramatic orchestral pop that succeeds in capturing the energy and power of this massive group of players. The gigantic sound of this large ensemble sets The Family Crest apart in an independent music scene dominated by ever-smaller groups. Lead vocalist and songwriter Liam McCormick delivers well-crafted, sentimental compositions and poetic lyrics that evoke feelings of sadness and loss, but also hope. Opening up the recording process to their extended family has allowed the band the chance to explore nearly limitless possibilities of instrumentation. McCormick’s songs are enhanced by epic arrangements that employ strings, brass, and choruses, as well as more unusual instruments like pump-organ. His skillful and emotive lead vocals are just the icing on the cake. www.thefamilycrestfamily.com -Eric Wolff
Gem Club In Roses Somerville, MA (Hardly Art)
“Lovely, soothing, ambitious dream-pop at its finest” Massachusetts based trio Gem Club follow up 2011’s Breakers with a riveting and ambitious sophomore effort, the glorious In Roses. The album is truly dreamy in every sense of the word, a collection of eleven soft ballads built around decadent pianos and whirlwind vocals, decorated with golden, lush orchestral strings. After a heartwarming opening in “[Nowhere],” one discovers the majestic strings and piano arrangements accompanying mournful, ambient vocals with grace. This can be
heard in further tracks such as “First Weeks,” “Michael” and “Ideas for Strings.” The album contains sounds that flourish, stirring the soul with mournful, heartbreaking colors. The piano is the main instrument on In Roses, gently guiding along melancholy vocals throughout. One can see this in the lilting, stops and starts of “Speech of Foxes.” “Soft Season” is also very romantic and enchanting, with tones and moods eerily reminiscent of Sigur Rós’s ( ) album from 2002. This is a beautiful listening experience, ready to nourish the weary soul and soothe the listener who may need a break from the business of everyday life. It’s a helpful album to relax to, rejuvenate and gather ones thoughts with. It’s the perfect album to reflect on one’s life. A dreamy record, it is a joy to listen to captivating drums while escaping along with pianos and choir-like vocals colored with reverb. Overall, truly a masterful effort.
Dead Waves (continued)
www.iamgemclub.com -Shawn M. Haney
Kashka Bound Toronto, ON (Factor)
“Thick-plated rock rhythms massaged into glossy electronic synths & glittering vocals” Toronto-based, once-upon-a-time folk singer Kat Burns, former front woman to the orchestral pop quintet the Forest City Lovers, has the simmering playful tone like that of Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and Leslie Feist. Her songwriting is beaded with painstaking clarity and attention to melodic indulgence. Burns is a lover of hooks and melody and they cling to Bound like whipped cream, hemmed throughout the patchwork of rock, bedroomfolk intimacy and synthetic dance beats. Songs like “Cursed Wind” could have been a glum finger burner for café folk, but Burns takes the nobler high-tier route with thudding bass, immense atmospheric keyboard haze, Beach Fossils-ready surf guitar and her cool, demure energy. Every song features sweetly affectionate distinction and shored listenability via strong melodic emphasis, without going twee. A horizon of rhythm is explored, going from tribal drone (“Easy Prey”) or fetter carefree (“Grain of Salt”), where Burns’ need for space and time to breathe will convince the most stonehearted listener to oblige. Bound’s sophisticated and novel indie pop framework bridges the gap for those waiting for the next Continued on 41 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 39
Mala In Se LIVE SHOW
review by Lucy Fernandes / photo by Rick Caroll
IRONFEST IV November 1-2, 2013 Southgate House Revival Newport, KY
HIGHLIGHT Scorching sets from Cincy natives & toppled over stand-up bassists. The 2013 incarnation of Cincinnati’s Ironfest, a rock and roll honorarium for Cincinnati’s “Iron” Mike Davidson, took off at the Southgate House Revival on the first weekend in November. The fourth annual event, sponsored by friends and supporters from the local music community, was held in celebration of his memory as well as to raise funds for his family. Over 30 bands performed on the venue’s three stages during this year’s blowout. Because it was held the weekend after Halloween, there were a smattering of attendees in full costume. A spangled white suited “Elvis” was in the building, as well as two “Miley Cyrus” clones, complete with huge teddy bear backpacks and twin topknotted hair. There were assorted other “punks,” “sock-hoppers” and “zombies” rounding out the colorful crowd. Friday night began with Red Beast, featuring a long blond-haired lead singer called Adolf Christ, so it was no mystery at all what this bunch was about. Aggressive and heavier than Hell itself; spitting out menacing lyrics, 40 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
they were perfectly suited for the “iron” mood of the evening. Doom metal band Grey Host held forth in the large Sanctuary room downstairs, surprising with a Rush cover as well as three tortuously slogging, original epics. Featuring de-tuned guitars, hair-raisingly ominous vocals, and sledgehammer drumming interspersed with occasional, almost dreamlike instrumental interludes, they offered up fitting tribute to whatever unsettled spirits may have remained in the old converted church building. Switching gears into a lighter mood, Keith Jones and the Makeshifts provided a playful rockabilly sound that had their audience hopping on the dance floor during their set. Things were going great until the stand up bass player decided to balance atop his instrument while playing, toppled over, and popped the bridge off in the process. Undaunted, he continued to thump away for the remainder of the act with hardly a hitch, to everyone’s delight. Saturday night’s lineup attracted more
people, and an early entry was Mala In Se, a genre-bending mash of angst-ridden yelps and wails and discordant, woozy guitar riffs running blindly over a chaotic rhythm section; yet the whole of it always ended on a dime when the songs were finished. The cacophony this three-piece created was mesmerizing in its crash-and-burn precision. Detroit’s Joe Hertler and his accompanying band the Rainbow Seekers performed later in the smaller Lounge. Their soft folk pop, enhanced by Hertler’s sweet, melodic tenor, was a brief break from the more sonic lineups of the night. Valley of the Sun, a powerful, heavy, guitar-driven rock trio, took over the Sanctuary stage and attracted a large crowd. The new track they premiered at Ironfest was a scorcher. Whether Ironfest will survive to rise again next year seemed to be in the cards, judging from this year’s enthusiastic response. www.southgatehouse.com
The Royal Oui
Engineered by Leon Taheny and Josh Korody Recorded at Candle Recording Studio with additional
recording at Boombox, Toronto
Mixed at Candle Recording by Leon Taheny
(File Under: Music)
Mastered at Lacquer Channel by Noah Mintz Produced by Leon Taheny
“Impassioned indie pop” www.playthetriangle.com -Christopher Petro
Lost in the Trees Past Life Chapel Hill, NC (ANTI-)
“Stripping the orchestra and taking a detour from acoustic folk” The description that’s been attached to Lost in the Trees since their inception and release of their debut EP, Time Taunts Me, and has carried through their follow-up albums All Alone in an Empty House and A Church That Fits Our Needs, consists of two words: orchestral folk. While this description is mostly accurate, in that Lost in the Trees has often employed strings and carefullyarranged musical pieces, the band will soon need to be identified in different terms. Past Life, Lost in the Trees’ newest effort, strips away the orchestra and makes a detour from acoustic folk, staking out in a new direction that finds Ari Picker with a reverb-heavy electric guitar tone, simple drum tracks, and fewer embellishments. This detour suits Picker’s voice just fine; the singer/guitarist’s distinctive, powerful singing is complemented by the sparseness of his accompaniment and move toward synths and poppier rhythms. Each of the record’s tracks follow this move, creating an album-long flow that demonstrates Picker’s talent for creating long-form pieces from his individual songs. But the songs are there as well, from the catchy-as-hell title track to the haunting “Glass Harp” and beautiful “Upstairs.” Picker has always had a knack for surprise in his songs, and it is found here in creative chord voicings and eerie backing vocals that tweak what otherwise could be straight pop songs. If this is Lost in the Trees’ past life, it’s exciting to think what their future will bring. Produced by Nicolas Vernhes www.lostinthetrees.com -Jason Peterson
LISTEN TO MUSIC FROM THIS ISSUE
A canapé of an EP, this two-song teaser is a vessel of melancholy beach-pop with a side of joy. The debut release, which marks the beginning of the formal partnership between Adrienne Price and Ari Shine, serves as the lead up to a fulllength set for a spring release. With a floating-down-the-river calmness, the EP’s charm is marked by long brushstrokes of endearing harmonies, lackadaisical synths and reverb-drenched guitars. The pair’s compassionate croons and smooth pop accessibility paints young love portraits and plucks on the nostalgic and tenderest of heartstrings. The entrancing “When You Lose Your Mind,” is a well-crafted, winsome offering of care and consolation, daintily laced with lyrics of love and concern: “You lost your umbrella and the forecast calls for rain / And you’re not sure when you’re gonna see the sun again.” Concordantly, the B-side of the couplet, “Actual Size,” is an indie dancehall version of the Cheers theme song. With stellar production and dreamy accessibility, Forecast looks promising for The Royal Oui.
percussion pay homage to the Seattle music scene. Included in the mix is a six-minute power ballad (“Godhead”) composed of pulsating guitar riffs, frantic percussion and a well-crafted tempo. These same qualities can be found throughout the album, thumping alongside gritty vocals, shifting beats and layers of sludgy weight (as evidenced on “Champions”) Where the band takes their sound next remains to be seen, but the strong and varied songwriting, coupled with the intricate compositions are markers of more good things to come. Encompassing the world of grunge with a sharp and distinctive edge, Godhead is a strong sophomore production and clear indicator of the group’s longevity.
Kashka (continued) Knife or Thao & the Get Down Stay Down.
Recorded by Matt Bayles in Seattle, WA Mastered by Ed Brooks at RFI, Seattle, WA sandrider.bandcamp.com -Vanessa Bennett
Shantell Ogden Better At Goodbye Nashville, TN (Hip Farm Chic Records)
“Layered pop-infused country and Mellotron textures”
Produced and Mixed by The Royal Oui in Vancouver Mastered by Marco Ramirez at Sonic Ranch www.theroyaloui.com -Taylor Haag
Sandrider Godhead Seattle, WA (Good to Die Records)
“Grimy, sludgy, dirty riff-rock from the land of coffee” Former Performer cover stars Sandrider are back with their second full-length album, and Godhead demonstrates a relentless commitment to their craft. On this latest endeavor, the Seattle-based trio is once again drawing on their signature grimy punk style and are infusing it with abundant and confident energy. While it’s not a total departure from their first album, the level of expertise and compositional mastery is undeniable. No time is wasted as the album opens with powerful and driving tracks. The combination of heavy riffs, heavy bass and determined
Shantell Ogden’s vocals have never sounded stronger than on her third release, Better at Goodbye, with a wordsmith, melodic Jewel-like approach and a pure clarity like country star Kim Richey. John Willis’ production brings multi-layered guitars and depth from Mellotron tones reminiscent of The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” on opener “The Lie I Tell Myself,” to swirling vibrato and driving distortion on the pop/country hip shaker, “Where You’re Not.” Lyrically, Ogden considers the pursuit of joy in relationships while facing a maze of intrigue and complexity from “I don’t know how she does it, it’s hard to live a lie,” on “Only God Knows Why” to realizing love that moves too fast may not last in “Better At Goodbye.” The songwriting on this record sparks lyrics for the long haul, with deeper emotional understanding than the current fads in music that are tossed out when a new cultural trademark begins. Produced by John Willis at Willisoundz in Nashville Vocal Production by Judy Rodman www.shantellogden.com -Brad Hardisty
FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 41
Valley of the Sun LIVE SHOW
VALLEY OF THE SUN with MANGRENADE AND THE KILLTONES December 7, 2013 Southgate House Revival – Newport, KY review by Lucy Fernandes / photography by Rick Carroll
HIGHLIGHT Wailing, shaking, testifying and strutting in a tour de force performance.
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Starting off the evening was Mangrenade, a trio who came to the forefront during 2013 with two EP releases during the year. The nasty, strong vocals from guitarist Nick Thieme and relentless bassist Ben Morgan, plus the solid backbeat from drummer Erik Olsen make this group one to watch. “Where Swagger Turns to Stagger” and “Lions in the Parking Lot” were particular standouts. Following them were the KillTones. Superanimated front man Clinton Vearil wailed, shook, testified, and strutted the stage as this four man blues-based rock group played their butts off. Featuring well-constructed arrangements and Josh Pilot’s nimble, stinging guitar work, they stormed their way through an exhausting set. A memorable cut was the tour-de-force pleaser, “See it Go”. Taking their turn, headliners Valley of
the Sun treated the big room crowd to a preview of their new album Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk in its entirety. Aaron Boyer’s rapid sledgehammer drumming and Ryan Ferrier’s gritty virtuoso guitar and ripping, powerful vocal style are this band’s calling cards. The bite of Ryan McAllister’s Rickenbacker bass completed the mix. Their music inhales you, and doesn’t let you go. “Gunslinger” from the new album and their encore “Deep Light Burns” were two of their most relentless selections of the night. It was VOTS’s last home appearance before their tour supporting fellow Fuzzorama labelmates Truckfighters in Europe soon. If this strong performance was any indication, they’re poised and ready for a real breakout. valleyofthesun.bandcamp.com
Bim Skala Bim
The Rebel Set
Chet’s Last Call
How To Make A Monster!
Genre: Garage Surf
Medicine for a Ghost
Back to Land
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
“Kaleidoscopic array of folk and rock driven by decisive percussion and weighty bass”
“Hypnotic riffs and organ lines, mixed with heavy fuzz and phasers”
Folk and rock blend together on Tam Lin’s latest album, Medicine for a Ghost. The New York City natives, known for their simplistic styles and themes, have set their storytelling to strings and synthesizers and have blended them together into heartfelt harmonies and brooding melodies. The band’s front man, Paul Weinfield, has written the bulk of the work, for which he draws on many of his own personal experiences. For ten solid tracks, he pours his heart out over wellcrafted percussion and bass lines. The band opts for an array of instrumentation to construct their tracks; heavy guitar chords reverberate alongside eloquent piano notes and cello progressions. Tracks like “Golden Apples” and “Flame Within the Sun” are driven by Weinfield’s crisp vocals and span a range of styles from dark and brooding to fast and decisive to more ambling and introspective. While the album is in many ways modest, it captures the band’s desire to craft compelling and engaging stories through vivid imagery and a clever utilization of style and sound. Simply put, Medicine for a Ghost highlights the group’s wellhoned talents for lyricism and composition.
To really dig Wooden Shjips, it’s helpful to contextualize the band’s reductive approach to rock and roll. Beginning in the early-’60s, so-called minimalist classical composers including La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Philip Glass began creating music that broke free of traditional compositional structure and instead emphasized repetitive motifs, drones and pulses to create a meditative, trance-like effect. Similar to Indian ragas and other forms of Eastern music, these pieces challenged the listener to appreciate the gradual process and development of a piece rather than its larger architecture. By the late-’60s, rock acts on both coasts began introducing a minimalist aesthetic into their songs and extended free-form jams. To describe Wooden Shjips as a minimalist rock band may even be an understatement. Every song on Back to Land sticks to the same formula: a hypnotic guitar riff and organ line, heavy fuzz and phaser effects, spacey unintelligible vocals, and most importantly, a commitment to simplicity in both arrangement and performance. The album’s opening title track, for example, is based on a rolling I-IV chord progression that becomes a meditation for singer/guitarist Ripley Johnson’s laid back vocals and Garcia-esque lead guitar lines. “Ruins” and “Servants” utilize looping blues lines as launching pads for more ethereal guitar improvisations. Other tracks like “In the Roses” and “Other Stars” employ impossibly simple Stooges-inspired power chord riffs, highlighting each musician’s stoic commitment to their individual parts in support of Johnson’s vocals and guitar explorations.
Assuming the songs on Back to Land are just vehicles to jam, however, is to miss this point. The band has clearly put thought into these cyclical arrangements; each song is assembled like piece of calligraphy or a haiku, adhering to a strict set of parameters to create something elegant and contemplative. The result is an album that stands as whole rather than a collection of songs, in which each track bleeds and fades into the next without an arc or destination. www.woodenshjips.com
Recorded at Electric Ladyland Studios and Alice’s Restaurant, NYC Produced by Mario J McNulty Mastered by Dave McNair at Incognito, NYC tamlin.bandcamp.com -Vanessa Bennett
Xiu Xiu Nina San Jose, CA (Graveface Records)
“Xiu Xiu plays the music of Nina Simone literally” Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart’s overall vocal styling on this Nina Simone cover album can be described in one word: harrowing. Like the entire Xiu Xiu catalogue, Nina possesses this ominous rumble that sits nicely in the back of Stewarts’s throat, waiting to unapologetically consume you. The opening track “Don’t Smoke in Bed” portentously writhes around on his tongue, while “The Other Woman” takes a step back with harmonies that soften Nina’s clamor. “Just Say I Love Him” is fraught but uplifting, and “Flo Me La” ascends fragilely on the listener. It might have taken a decade, but this is the Xiu Xiu album that undeniably features Stewart’s voice as the headliner, not the bafflingly obtuse experimentation we’ve become accustomed to; it knows how to plumb heavy emotions from just about anyone. Arranged by Ches Smith Produced by Ches Smith and Jamie Stewart www.xiuxiu.org -Candace McDuffie
FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 43
ABOUT THE AUTHOR -Joel Edinberg is the leader of the Somerville Symphony Orkestar, a Slavic-inspired gypsypunk group from the Boston area. To learn more, visit somervillesymphonyorkestar.com.
Screwed at The Reel Fest
How One Disastrous Gig Led to Smarter Booking Decisions I run the Somerville Symphony Orkestar. We play instrumental gypsy-punk music. If you don’t know what that means, we write original songs in the style of traditional Klezmer and Balkan music, but we add distorted guitars and make it much louder and more intense. We like to get people dancing at our shows. This is very important to understand when booking the right show, as gigs with very strict noise requirements should understand what we do. I often get some gig offers that seem really good. Even if the pay might not be the greatest, the networking opportunities can sometimes make for an excellent show. I recently took a gig opening up for the Rebirth Brass Band even though the pay wasn’t great because it was a great show and got us out to a new audience. But I have to be careful when taking low paying gigs because it’s hard to keep solid musicians in your 44 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
band if the gigs aren’t good. I’ve learned this the hard way and pretty much had to find all new band members after this one amazingly terrible gig. A few years ago, I got an email for a seemingly great gig offer. A group of filmmakers was putting together a film festival called “The Reel Fest.” Get it? I mean, with that awesome pun these filmmakers are sure to be successful. So they were really excited to have us play at the Somerville Theatre near Boston to open up for the last day of the festival when they are showing their feature film. They don’t have funds for a band, but that’s fine because filmmakers would now hear our music. Plus, the Somerville Theatre has an awesome stage and fits about 900 people with the balcony. U2 has played and they host the Slutcracker. Simply put, it’s a great room to play. I also checked out what I could find about the “Reel
Fest” and everything pointed to it being a legitimate film festival, so there was nothing to tell me not to take this gig and I happily replied that we’d play it. Leading up to the event, the organizers started making some weird requests. They were really concerned about noise level. I wasn’t worried since the main room in the Theatre is pretty isolated and it’s a big room and though we get loud, we’re not Motörhead. They didn’t even want a PA. This is bit odd, but we can still work a set without a PA and if people are quiet, they’d be able to hear us in the balcony. About a week or two before the show, they mentioned that there was another band playing before us and each band has a half hour to play. The first band is on from 7-7:30 and we’re on from 7:30-8pm. This totally gives us plenty of time considering there’s no time for a set change. I’m definitely dealing with some really professional people. Finally, it’s the day of the show and I get to meet the organizer. He leads me to the elevator and takes me to the basement, which does not lead to the main theatre. We load everything in and are told to set up in this really tiny room in the basement. It’s a small 20-30 person private viewing room. It was weird that neither the organizer nor the poster for the event mentioned that the festival was right next to the Museum of Bad Art. Maybe it was all just a ploy to extend the dimensions of the museum to the private viewing room for that night, but who really knows since art is very interpretive. At least the noise issue finally made sense. I talked with the other band, and they also though we were in the main room. It’s finally time for the bands to play and of course the first band doesn’t finish setting up until 7:10, and then they play for more than 30 minutes, so we don’t get to start until 8pm at the earliest. But finally we get to play and we’re captivating the four-person audience quite well, one of which is my girlfriend and the other is a friend of our violinist. But after two songs a mysterious man enters the room. This man is the owner of the Theatre and is complaining about the sound level for the people watching movies in the main room, so we have to keep our volume down. We’re a six-piece group with a drum set. There’s only so much we can do, so we left after our epic two song set. No one showed up, we started late, and got shut down after two songs…and the feature film sucked. But, I now have a completely new lineup of musicians, I’ve learned to do a lot more homework before accepting gig offers, and we’re getting much better shows.
Behind-The-Scenes at Atlanta’s Rising Indie Label by Gail Fountain photo by Kamil Lee
marketing approach to get their music to people’s ears. We have put out two compilations as well, so far, to help expand our bands’ audiences. We also have been putting on showcases that consist of nothing but BDR talent. They have been doing really well.
An Inside Look at Blood Drunk Records
Is there a PR person for Blood Drunk Records or is it done by you or the bands?
Yes, we have the always-wonderful Juliett Rowe, who runs most of our PR operations. She is great.
Label founder Brandon T. Pittman
Blood Drunk Records is a label from Atlanta founded and owned by Brandon T. Pittman. This interview’s purposes is to provide an inside look at how a small label owner makes decisions. When was established?
Blood Drunk Records was formed in 2010.
What made you want to start a record label? Was it originally for releases by your own band (Swank Sinatra)? [Yes], the label was originally a way to release Swank Sinatra releases. We added Hip to Death that same year and the first couple releases consisted of those two bands. We grew from there at a steady rate starting in 2012.
How many bands do you represent?
As of this month, we represent 10 bands, all with their own unique sound.
Is there a submission policy or process for prospective bands?
We simply use our ears. There’s really no magic to it at all. If we like a band, then we are interested in working with them.
How do you find, recruit and sign the
bands on the roster?
We mainly operate within the Atlanta area, at the moment, to find new talent. Our network of people within the label are always out and about, going to shows. When a band is really spectacular or stands out, it always gets back to me. Bands from all over also send in submissions via our website on a frequent basis. Once a band expresses interest in working with us, we start getting them into the studio and working on releases. We also like to get the bands on the label to play with each other and build inter-band relations that promote a “group mentality,” which is very important to our unified image. Our recruitment process is super relaxed and we are keen about not overloading the label with more bands than we can handle. It’s a family, essentially.
How does marketing the bands and their releases happen?
We deal heavily in street promotion (flyers, etc.). We also use a very personalized web
What would make a band choose your label over another? Is there something to attract them, such as funding, attitude or mission statement?
I think that bands tend to gravitate towards us because…we all play in bands or have worked with bands our entire adult lives and know how to treat bands fairly. We do not own any band’s works or intellectual property. We let bands keep 100% of their royalties that are generated from their releases. We practice a very tenacious system of promotion that helps acts reach a broader audience than what they are capable of on their own.
What do you feel that BDR represents?
Blood Drunk Records is a collective of likeminded individuals that simply want to make good underground and independent music heard by as many people as will listen, while actively having an interest in preserving the arts and culture of the underground.
Is there anything that you’d like to add to the conversation?
I would like to just say that Atlanta is a wonderful city for art and music that gets better every year. I am very happy to be a part of its vibrant and never-ending arts and music culture. Blood Drunk Records is mainly an attempt to catalog the many talented bands and acts that this city has to offer. We need a presence like Dischord Records and Sub Pop established before us. I hope that Blood Drunk Records can become that. Writer’s note: Blood Drunk Records has the resources to distribute artists through Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, as well as CDs and Cassettes. For more, visit blooddrunkrecords.com. FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 45
Celebrating ASCAP at 100
PRO Launches New Campaign & Site to Mark Milestone ASCAP hits its 100-year milestone on February 13th. For an entire century, the leading U.S. performing rights organization has made it possible for American songwriters, composers and music publishers, who create the music the world loves, to thrive alongside the businesses that use their work. As it approaches its birthday, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is celebrating its 100year history – and looking ahead to its future – by launching its 100 Years, 100 Days campaign and website back in November. The site (ASCAP100.com) features an interactive timeline of ASCAP’s rich history. Each day leading up to the birthday, a new year will be unveiled, revealing a fascinating trove of photographs, facts and important milestones that tell ASCAP’s – and America’s – musical story in an exciting new way. The ASCAP100 site will also soon debut a commissioned short film, Why We Create Music, directed by Michael Marantz, providing a behind-the-scenes look into the creative process of a veritable who’s-who of today’s top songwriters and composers collaborating on an original score. The film combines interviews and the musical gifts of 15 ASCAP members – all of whom are at the top of their field and have been recognized by Pulitzer Prizes, Grammys, Emmys, Oscars and Dove Awards: Aloe Blacc, Claudia Brant, Carter Burwell, Amy Grant, Josh Kear, Savan Kotecha, David Lang, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, Bear McCreary, Ne-Yo, Stargate (Tor Hermansen & Mikkel Eriksen), Dan Wilson and Bill Withers. ASCAP President and Chairman Paul 46 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Williams says, “Since ASCAP is its songwriter, composer and music publisher members, this is an exciting opportunity to honor and thank the men and women whose music has moved the world for 100 years. ASCAP’s story began with a group of visionary leaders coming together to build a sustainable future for music creators and music lovers alike. The ASCAP100 site shows how our unwavering commitment to that mission is as strong today as it has been throughout our incredible history.” Since its founding, ASCAP has played a vital role in helping American music creators embrace the country’s founding ideal of freedom of expression by ensuring they’re rewarded for their work. The organization has seen its ranks grow from a small band of music visionaries in New York City in 1914 to 470,000 current members – a majority of which have joined in just the last four years. ASCAP processes a staggering 250 billion performances annually, resulting in $4.2 billion in distribution to members in the last five years alone. And its reach is international: ASCAP works with reciprocal partners in more than 100 countries to diligently collect foreign performance income – an increasingly large percentage of overall revenue, now at about one-third. Perhaps most importantly, the ASCAP100 site serves as a reminder of ASCAP’s ability to adapt with changing technology and industry paradigms. When it was founded, ASCAP helped its members collect earnings from a single type of performance royalty; today, it tracks revenues from every type of public performance imaginable in an ever-increasing variety of platforms – from an underscore in a TV show, to
radio, to live concerts, to myriad performances on licensed wireless and online platforms. As the number of performances promises to multiply in the century ahead, ASCAP’s proven ability to adapt assures its members will be compensated for types of performances as unfathomable to them now as Spotify was to its founders. The site launches with the interactive timeline; as each year in ASCAP’s history is revealed online, a wealth of new content becomes available, including key events in ASCAP history, world history, and relevant artwork. The site bridges the gap between old and new, as a Spotify embed of an important song or musical work and the modern day impact of ASCAP’s historic achievements is included with each year. With a constantly changing music industry, ASCAP is always evolving to lead in licensing new media. The site also includes a Thunderclap widget to allow visitors to schedule a “Happy 100th Birthday, ASCAP” wish via social media on February 13th. Given the rapidly changing music industry, performance rights organizations have to evolve, too, and no one is adapting as quickly as ASCAP. Processing over 250 billion performances a year, no other entity can do what ASCAP does as accurately and as quickly as they can, nor provide the level of performance information and detail that they do. Having already accomplished 100 years of success in the U.S., the world’s largest producer of creative works will continue to pave the way in licensing new media and adapting to rapidly evolving business models. For more info, please visit www.ASCAP100.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR -Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.
or just commercial placements, or something else?
Benefit From Brand Sponsorship Without Selling Out An Interview with EDGE Collective
Magnus Erhardt: A lot of brands are still dipping their toes in this. Major bands really only do those 360 deals, and we think it’s a bad strategy. We don’t do sponsorships. They cost way too much money for too little return. We try to figure out what the band’s story is and align them with the brand. Sometimes, it’s a single campaign, sometimes, longer.
EDGE Collective Managing Director Ryan Aynes
RA: Every client is different. For instance, we did a female DJ thing in partnership with Steve Madden. It reached across online channels and some in-stores, as well as live events. The difference with EDGE Collective is we’re not ‘just’ a music agency or advertising agency. We just feel music is the best way to reach the audiences, and brands are coming around to that.
PM: Does an artist have to have a massive following to work with you?
The argument over whether bands should partner with brands is pretty much over: the answer is yes. Now, I know there are true believers out there who think it’s a sellout move to align with anything corporate, and that their music will suffer if they do. I get that. There’s a place for straight-up starving art; there’s beauty in that. But, it is not sustainable. If you are rocking a Facebook page, or playing an instrument with a logo – you are ‘partnering,’ your band just isn’t benefiting from it. So, for those of you who are trying to make music your life’s work and a sustainable career, you need partnerships that benefit everyone: your band, the brand, and even your fans. With that in mind, here’s some insight. Brands ARE looking at your social channels and searching top playlists in blogs, Shazam charts, reviews, etc. They are looking for how far your message spreads,
what your story is, and whether or not your relationship with your fans is two-way conversation. Notice I did not mention music there? Don’t worry about that. It’s probably not possible for the VP of a liquor brand to “get” what you’re doing as an artist (they probably love The Eagles anyway). Numbers do matter, (Followers, Likes, and Views), but should never be traded for how far your message travels. If you have 1,000 real followers who respond when you say something interesting, it is far better than paying for 10,000 fake views on YouTube. One of the best agencies pushing this initiative of partnering bands with brands is the EDGE Collective out of New York. We chatted with Ryan Aynes (Managing Director) and Magnus Erhardt (Creative Director) to get some insight on how artists can get involved.
Performer Mag: Give me the elevator pitch of what Edge Collective is about.
label. Most of our clients were looking to reach Millennials, and we knew there’s no better outlet than music to reach them. One of the things I communicate a lot, because of the transition that’s taking place in music, is more bands are becoming brands with their own audiences. It’s all about influencing and engagement.
Ryan Aynes: We’re a creative agency, and we happen to specialize in the music sector. We do branding and creative campaigns for great clients, and music is a big part of that.
PM: How did music become such a big part of what you do? RA: We’re music nuts; I almost started a
PM: So, what kind of brand partnerships do you do? Are these 360 sponsorships
ME: We’ve worked with some artists who’ve had a small, but mighty, fanbase. I would say the quality of their social influence matters most. That means their fans trust and listen to them for what’s next; that’s what we’re looking for. Oh, and great music, of course!
PM: What can artists expect in terms of money from these types of partnerships.
RA: Well, aside from great publicity, I can also say we really help a lot of bands with tour and production/studio fees. It’s not retirement money, but if you can get those costs covered, a lot of artists can release more music and spread it further – which builds their brand.
PM: How does a band, DJ, or artist get involved with EDGE?
RA: We are constantly on the lookout in all the top music blogs and social media for artists building a story. Make some noise, get noticed, and we will probably find you. ME: In the coming year, we are rolling out some really cool live events around bands, bloggers, and influencers, and we will have a portal on our site for artists to submit to us. In the meantime, email us at email@example.com – address your message to either Ryan or myself. Send links to music and your social sites, or [reach us] on Twitter @edgeofideas. We look forward to hearing some great stuff. FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 47
ABOUT THE AUTHOR -Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.
The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Career Right Now Is… pictured: the always awesome Gaytheist (photo by Sheila Ann Lacey)
Make great new music. It’s simple, really. No amount of marketing, licensing knowledge, recording techniques, equipment, social media following, views, clicks, or anything else will help you today as much as just making great new music. I know you read this section - and this magazine - for insight and tips on how to tame this beast that we call the “music business.” (And we thank you for doing so) That is an important function, to be sure; you will not make a career without it. But, we all too often forget the ultimate important of the music itself. You know the saying, “The music business is 95% business and 5% music.” That actually used to be somewhat true, but no longer. There was a day where someone could make incredible music and toil in obscurity forever because they had no idea about the business of music. However, times have changed. Today, you can record a song, put up a video on YouTube, and boom, you have worldwide distribution. It is that easy. Of course there are other places to freely post and promote your music: Bandcamp, ReverbNation, music blogs, your own page, etc. And trust me, there are literally hundreds of industry people scouring thousands of sites every day for any new song posted (I know; I’m one of them). Understand that the industry constantly needs new music. We really do. That’s why your 48 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
album from two years ago is not really moving the needle. You may think that if only the right person heard it, if only you had more views, if only your follower count were higher, maybe something, anything, would happen. It is my experience that it won’t. Now, “the right place, right person” scenario WILL help you build upon success; but the music, the song, comes first. And let’s not forget about the fans. With so many choices and channels to receive music now, music fans are even more rabid than before. When fans can listen to all of their favorite songs from the past, at anytime, on multiple sites, it actually increases their need to find new favorites. And when I say, “favorites from the past,” don’t think Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, or the Beatles - think more like Coldplay, Muse, or The Fray. Let me crystallize that for you; I recently had a conversation with a 26-year-old who said, “I do like the classics, like Disturbed and Godsmack.” Some of you will agree with that statement, some of you will scoff, depending on your age. But I think most would agree that those are not dinosaur bands. What’s important to understand is that the list of music considered “old” or “classic” grows daily. So, too, must new music. This all sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just make new, great music. I’m not telling you to stop focusing on the other important parts of being in the music game. For instance, “how” your music is produced, mixed, and mastered, absolutely will
have an effect on whether or not you find success; but, once again, only if the song is great. No one cares about a low master on a shitty song. How you go about monetizing and distributing your music will obviously determine whether you can do it as a full-time job, but only if your songs are great. No one is making a living on shitty music. They’re not, and neither will you. And for those who believe that the business of music is more important, understand that the new music business will be one of more singles. It already is. It will be dependent upon your producing newer, better music more frequently than ever before. Your career (and your fans) will demand that you give them fresh new art to experience. Revenue streams will be tied to larger catalogs. So, if your music career is stalled, stop worrying about your business. Go back into your bedroom or rehearsal space and make new music. We must get back to the wonder of making music and stop getting so caught up in how we sell it, promote it, and exploit it. Being a creator is a gift, but also a responsibility. Realize that you are a special person, that not everyone can even do it at all. Realize that even fewer can do it well. Realize that at every show you play, someone in the crowd would give up everything for the chance to do it just once. So, stop playing the same songs for years. Stop trying to write the perfect song, write your way to it. Start by writing a song, any song, TODAY. Tomorrow you will be better.
by Ethan Varian
Spotify’s Mysterious Royalty System Explained
Since its debut in the U.S. in 2011, a lot has been written about Spotify and its effect on artists, labels and the music industry at large. Many have derided the free streaming music service for its mysterious and seemingly stingy royalty system, while others have championed the easy exposure it can provide for DIY and independent bands. Some artists, including Thom Yorke, have spoken out against Spotify and others including The Black Keys have opted to prohibit some or all of their catalogue from being made available on the streaming music service. Other artists like Moby seem to have accepted Spotify as a step in the process to the inevitable overhaul of the music industry. Will Spotify finally realize Napster’s vision of cheap and easy digital access to the world’s music library? It’s difficult to say. But what seems clear is that free streaming music services like Spotify are affecting the way many people listen to and spend money on recorded music. To shed some light on how its business model works, Spotify recently posted an article on its website as well as its projections for future growth. In the article, Spotify describes its service as a viable alternative to music piracy, claiming to “offer music fans a legal paid service capable of generating for artists the royalties that they deserve.” The company goes on to position itself a potential savior for the music business by fundamentally restructuring music
distribution and consumption habits in order to regenerate the value lost by the industry over the past 15 years. The first thing to know about Spotify’s business model is that artists and rights holders are NOT paid out on a “per play” basis. Instead, royalties are distributed based on an artist’s “market share” of the total amount of streams on Spotify over a given month. It works like this: Spotify gains revenue through advertising and its paid
While Spotify’s user base is clearly growing, this sort of estimate makes some very specific assumptions. Publishing and licensing contracts are always subject to change, and it’s difficult to know if Spotify will remain the premier steaming service over the next few years, or whether a new platform will take over with an even stingier royalty system. It also assumes a near 700% growth in Spotify’s user base. As an indie artist, this projection further assumes your
subscription service before paying out 70% of its total revenue to rights holders. The percentage each rights holder receives from that initial 70% is based on a simple formula [see chart]. From there, royalties are divided up based on existing contracts between labels, publishers and artists. Bands not signed to a label or affiliated with any publisher can receive up to 100% of these royalties. So what does this all mean for independent artists? Spotify gives an example of an actual but unnamed “Niche Indie Album” earning $3,300 in royalties in July 2013. Not so great compared to physical sales or downloads, however Spotify argues that as its consumer base grows, so will its royalty payouts as its total revenue increases. The company estimates that with 40 million paid future subscribers (there are currently only 6 million) that the same album will garner $17,000 over a one-month period.
fan base will migrate to Spotify in proportion to the growth of said total user base. Even with an increase in total revenue, it’s actually conceivable that your payout will become smaller as throngs of Katy Perry and Talyor Swift fans begin using Spotify, in turn diminishing your market share. It’s still too early to paint a clear picture of the aggregate effect Spotify will have on the industry in the future. It’s very possible that the service could alter people’s listening habits and make it a lot easier for bands to get paid for distributing their music. As of now, however, this new information validates what most independent bands already know about making it in the digital age: the importance of personally engaging your fan base, selling physical merch and putting on a kick-ass live show.
Now With Fancy Charts!
For more, visit www.spotifyartists.com/spotify-explained. FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 49
Arrica Rose & the …’s (the dot dot dots) is a California folk-pop group who draws inspiration from timeless records made long ago. The music hints at Americana, classic pop, and vintage rock all dressed up in Andrew Sisters-esque harmonies, strings, horns and pretty noise. MAKE & MODEL
1973 Gibson Dove WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU
my FAVORITE AXE
ARRICA ROSE photo by Larissa Underwood
It’s the first instrument I busted out the credit card and invested in. For me it represents making music a central part of my life. Although I play electric more often in my band, I write mostly on this guitar. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE
Sitting on a front porch swing on a balmy summer night with Elvis. Maybe the Elvis part is a bit of a stretch but he did in fact play one of these. SPECIAL FEATURES
Mother of pearl inlays on the headstock, fingerboard, pickguard and bridge, red maple back and sides, natural finish spruce flat top. CAN BE HEARD ON
It appears on our new EP Lucky on the track “Come On Home to Me.” LISTEN NOW
Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
50 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
The Key to Recording Killer Drums & Percussion 2/2
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Zac Cataldo is a musician and owner/ producer at Night Train Studios, a recording studio in Westford, MA. He is also co-owner of Black Cloud Productions, a music publishing company. Reach him at email@example.com.
Capturing drums can be one of the most challenging aspects of the recording process. For one thing, there are so many pieces in the average kit that need to be mic’d. And they take up so much room. And they are so loud. And they have to be performed perfectly. And they are hard to edit if the drummer makes a mistake. Starting to get the picture? Damn drummers!
You’ll want to set up a matching pair of condenser mics in either an X-Y or ORTF pattern a few feet in front of the drum kit and usually about 6-7 feet off the ground to capture the kit as a whole (check out YouTube videos on these stereo setups if you’re not familiar or go back and read our previous article on stereo miking techniques in Performer). If the room sounds good and the mics are placed properly, then these stereo mics will often capture the cymbals quite well without the need for separate cymbal mics. Close miking cymbals generally doesn’t work well, as cymbals are designed to be heard from at least a few feet away. Plus, with all the close miking of the other drum pieces, the overall mix can sound a little dead, so using the overhead mics to capture the room sound can breathe some life into your drum mix.
We often use dampening gel like RTOM Moongel ($8), which are little blue pieces of semisticky gum that you apply to the outer edge of the top heads of the snare and toms. This easily helps
reduce unwanted boominess and overtones. But in a pinch, maxi pads or folded up paper towels taped to the heads with console tape or blue painters tape work well, too (it just doesn’t look as cool).
TIGHT TO FIT
Make sure that your drum and percussion tracks are tight. If you recorded to a metronome, this means taking the time to solo playback each track with the click and edit any “loose” hits. Remember that if you edit a hit on a close mic track, you also have to move any room mic tracks that captured the hit as well. If you didn’t record to a click, the job becomes a bit harder because you won’t have a reference, so in this case you’ll probably want to dim solo the drum track so that you can still hear the other rhythm instruments. Don’t be fooled into thinking the drums are wrong if another rhythm instrument is actually the culprit. Also look for timing issues around drum fills and changes in the song; this is generally where drummers tend to speed up temporarily.
SHAKE IT UP!
One of the most enjoyable parts of the session for us is after a song has been rough mixed and we break out the percussion basket. The band gathers around and everyone starts slapping, shaking and tapping the mixture of familiar and foreign percussion instruments that we’ve collected over the years - cabasas, tambourines, shakers big & small, agogos, güiros, triangles, slide whistles, claves, wood blocks, washboards and so forth. The biggest hurdle we usually have is to
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Brent Godin is a bassist/guitarist and engineer/producer at Night Train Studios. He is also a talent scout at Black Cloud Productions. Reach him at brent@ blackcloudproductions.com.
get musicians into the mindset that it’s okay to experiment. What sounds like “too much” when trying out a percussion instrument in the control room can be mixed and edited so that it just adds a subtle sonic texture during certain sections of the song. Think of percussion like a spice. Too much and the meal is inedible, too little and food is bland. You’d be surprised how often a little bit of shaker or tambourine can add an interesting flavor to a track. I urge you to check out the percussion section the next time you visit your local music store and see if you can’t find an instrument that intrigues you. Also percussion manufactures like LP (Latin Percussion) and Meinl have great videos on their YouTube channels of many percussion instruments being played by pros for your inspiration Our advice is to record a part over the sections that you think need an extra lift or excitement and then mix this new percussion track down and to the side. If you mix it low enough so that it’s barely noticeable right after you tracked it, then when you come back with fresh ears you might be surprised that you don’t notice it at all. Percussion tracks can do well when panned hard left or right, and can help open up a mix in the stereo field and add textural interest at the same time.
editor’s note – see last month’s issue or head to performermag.com for Part One in our series on recording drums.
FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 51
How to Record a “Band” Record Sans Band IN THE STUDIO with Jeff Taylor of Dumpster Hunter
Artist: Jeff Taylor (Dumpster Hunter) Album: TBD Recording Studio: Pat Dillett’s studio Saltlands. Record Label: Self-released Release Date: Spring 2014 Engineers: Day 1: Dave Groener at Pat Dillett’s studio in Midtown. Days 2/3: Dawn Landes at Saltlands Studio in Dumbo. Mixing: Steve Wall Mastering: Steve Fallone at Sterling Sound, NYC Artwork: Rawan Rihani.
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interview by Benjamin Ricci photos by Anton Coene
PRE-PRODUCTION What was your pre-production like on this project?
After a few years of obsessing over the idea of being in a band with a set group of people, I decided to make a record that focuses more on completed songs - one that doesn’t depend on working handin-hand with others on the songwriting process. I just finished these four songs, asked a friend to produce, and we went into the studio. I finished these songs in a very natural, focused way, over the past six months or so. Instead of settling for half-arranged versions, which didn’t satisfy, I’d work on these songs even
when I didn’t feel like doing it. Just pick up a guitar, or sit down at a piano, and play it through. What feels right? What feels honest? That’s how these were pre-produced.
How did you choose the studio?
I didn’t choose the studios this time around. Thomas Bartlett, the producer for this record, brought us into rooms he has experience working in. I’ve been thrilled with the environments and engineers.
PRODUCTION What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it?
I wanted to make a record that listened all the way through with the kind of homogeneity to which our last record kind of said ‘fuck you.’ And that was fine, last time, because we were finding our way through the weeds - not just in the musical sense, but in the business one, as well. It’s easy to shoot yourself in the foot. Remembering to store your weapon safely - with a cleared chamber - now that requires experience.
What was your philosophy on live, fullband takes versus individual tracking?
‘River’ was performed live with no click, as a full band. Other moments on the record are more ‘assembled’ creations based on the sound of an instrument, how it would record best, and of course the types of rooms we worked in. Some vocals sounded great just the way they were on
the initial tracking day. Others felt like they could use a revisiting.
Any special guests?
You’re our special guest - welcome to the studio! Can we get you some coffee? [laughs] Well, I’m very excited to have gotten the chance to work and play with Thomas Bartlett. Steve Wall, who’s played such a big part (engineering, producing, playing in the band) over the past couple years in Dumpster Hunter, continues to be involved. He sings and plays on here as well. David Heilman, who played with me all summer long, helping me work through arrangement ideas on a couple of these tunes, drums on ‘River.’
What did you try to accomplish in the studio that you’re not able to do live?
I just wanted to sound natural and to have a good mix. Honesty and meaningfulness are
totally new friends for me - I tend to be totally full of shit most of the time. I hope this record comes across as sounding kind of genuine.
What were the toughest challenges you faced?
The toughest challenge was figuring out how to facilitate studio time, musicians’ availability, etc. Through some online fundraising we were able to make it happen on our own. That weird, interconnected network of servers and satellites out there these days - thank goodness for that, otherwise the death of the record store would have tolled that of the entire music industry.
Have a unique studio story to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Any funny stories from the session that you’ll be telling for a while?
These sessions have been pretty focused and deliberate, I’m afraid. You’ll have to meet up with us after the show to create some good laughs. We can always use them!
“I JUST WANTED TO SOUND NATURAL AND TO HAVE A GOOD MIX. HONESTY AND MEANINGFULNESS ARE TOTALLY NEW FRIENDS FOR ME - I TEND TO BE TOTALLY FULL OF SHIT MOST OF THE TIME.”
POST-PRODUCTION What are your release plans?
Initially, the people who helped us raise funds via our online campaign will be the only ones to receive the record - a general release will follow in 2014. By then, though, we’ll be well into our next recording project.
Any special packaging?
This one went straight to vinyl. It’s the first time I’ve had my songs pressed on vinyl and I was really adamant about that happening this time around. I don’t think I’ll be pressing CDs again until someone else can invest in that for me. It’s hard to even locate a CD player these days, other than in a car.
For more visit www.dumpsterhunter. com and follow Jeff Taylor on Twitter @dumpsterhunter. FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 53
MACKIE MR6mk3 Studio Monitors - $199/each
Fantastic performance, good price.
May require a little tweaking per location and room size.
The cliché is that monitors are the ears of any home studio system; in most cases they’re the heart. Mackie’s new MR6mk3 monitors are a great place for a starter studio or a full-blown commercial facility. With a 6.5” subwoofer and a 1” tweeter, they’ll fit in even the most cramped studio desks. The rear panel is where the action is, with low frequency filters that can even be bypassed or engaged with a +2 or +4 dB. The high frequency filter can boost +2 dB over 3.25Khz, meaning boosting the musical highs, and not any spiky, unmusical frequencies. Connections for RCA, 1/4” TRS and XLR are also located here. So with all the tech specs aside, how do they sound? In a word: amazing. Mackie’s build quality translates to sound quality. For most music, out of the box, plug-and-play, there are no problems. These bad boys recreate the entire frequency spectrum with ease, allowing you to listen to a beautifully transparent and un-muddied version of your mix. Highs are crisp and feature no brittleness, while the bass frequencies are full, but not boomy or flubby. However, there is some tweaking that should be addressed. Room size, position, as well as listening angle can make a huge difference during playback, so some adjustment may be required for maximum performance, specifically with the bass frequencies. Mackie is aware of this, and even has suggestions in their manual (you do read the manuals, right?) as how to compensate for these issues. But hey, a little tweaking is nothing when you’re able to enjoy your mixing sessions without listener fatigue, right? For any style of music they sound fantastic, bottom line. So for studios of all sizes they’re worth a look, especially for the price. -Chris Devine
MACKIE 1604 VLZ4 Mixer - $899
Well built, great sounding EQ, useful in several formats.
Might be overkill for small bands.
Music-centric voicing ideal for modern mixing applications
Not too long ago, the quality-to-price factor in compact mixers was pretty sad. When Mackie came on the scene, they were able to make a high quality mixer for a fair price, and the pro audio world hasn’t been the same since. Their VLZ series mixers have been around for a while, and their newest incarnations still could be called the gold standard for mixers. This is pretty much the bread and butter of mixers, with 16 channels, super easy connections with 1/4” and XLR ins and outs; nothing out of the ordinary there. Each channel sports Aux sends and a 4-band EQ, the ability to submix 4 separate groups, as well as a tactile fader. Headphone and tape in and outs are here as well. It’s definitely a step up from most table top mixers, as it can be configured to be mounted in a rack system, with the patch bay being mounted facing front. No onboard effects, but considering the price, and at this point, using external effects will give better overall performance. So who’s this for? For a small club this would make an excellent front of house mixer, or even a monitor mixer, due to its construction and mud-free, transparent sound quality. As a home studio deck its equally exceptional, considering the ample amount of channels and the superb preamps, which deliver crystal clear audio on each channel without fear of clipping or unwanted signal noise. For most bands in a practice studio it may be a bit of overkill, but the fact it can be used for several formats really give it a decent value for the money. -Chris Devine
Enhanced waveguide system for unmatched clarity 6.5” polypropylene woofer, 1” silk-dome tweeter
16 great-sounding mic preamps
Perfectly matched amps and drivers for optimized performance
Balanced main outputs
Flexible inputs Customizable frequency control for your studio space Custom-tuned rear ports for smooth, even bass extension Rugged all-wood cabinet
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65 watts of Class AB amplification
Inserts per channel RCA and 1/4” inputs Sweep mid EQ Six AUX sends
Great sound, great playability and insanely good price.
The latest offering from Gretsch’s “roots” collection is a stunner, an import model acoustic/electric mandolin that will certainly appeal to the Americana, bluegrass and traditional folk communities, or experimental indie rock bands looking for an interesting texture to add to their recording sessions. The New Yorker Supreme sports a classy sunburst matte finish (what Gretsch calls “antique semi-gloss”) and a user-friendly Fishman M300 “Nashville” piezo-ceramic pickup. Purists, fear not! The pickup is remarkably clear and musical, delivering a much more natural acoustic tone when plugged in than you might be used to in the acoustic/ electric realm. In our tests, gone were the somewhat shrill highs other A/E instruments can sometimes (frustratingly) “feature.” In fact, we actually preferred the tone of the mandolin recorded from its pickup than from miking it acoustically. Go figure. Playability is spot on, as are fit and finish. The instrument is lightweight and strums like a dream. The neck is smooth with no sharp frets, and intonates perfectly across the fretboard – another welcome relief considering the quality issues we’ve seen with other mandolins in this price range. In fact, so good is this instrument that we’re stumped to think of anything negative to say about it. If you’re in the market for an acoustic/ electric mandolin, look no further than this new model from Gretsch. Your band (and wallet) will thank you. -Benjamin Ricci
Acoustic-electric mandolin with vintage ‘50s styling
Solid mahogany top, back, and sides Mahogany neck Rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlays Rosewood bridge Grover machine heads Fishman M-300 Nashville pickup Vintage-styled clam-shell tailpiece
Qu-Bit Electronix www.QuBitElectronix.com
Qu-Bit Electronix is a Eurorack modular synthesizer company based out of New York and California. They build synthesizers that are computers hiding in plain sight, able to do things analogue machines could never accomplish while providing a playable user interface. Instead of trying to replicate or replace older, beloved synthesizers and effects, Qu-Bit aims to bring new sounds to the physical realm by making things like granular synthesis and surround sound panning more accessible and intuitive by putting the power of digital signal processing behind a fun and instinctive instrument. Qu-Bit Electronix started in Boston, in the basement synth labs of Berklee. Co-founders Andrew Ikenberry and Jason Lim spent many nights circuit bending and building modules for themselves, but decided to form a company when they realized they’d created instruments that did things no other instruments could do. They had created the means to a whole new universe of sound; now they want to share it with the world. Qu-Bit loves open source, and posts all their schematics and source code online free of charge.
GRETSCH G9311 New Yorker Supreme Mandolin - $349
Nebulae is a Eurorack audio file player and granular oscillator, adding playback, pitch shifting, time stretching, and a host of other effects to any Eurorack setup. The synth uses audio files loaded via flash drives to create granular clouds, microtonal drones, loops, and world expanding sounds. You can play files forwards or backwards (or both) as either loops or one-shots, giving users control over speed, pitch, length, grain length, grain size, grain rate, wet/dry mix, and glide. It can also ‘freeze’ a track, stopping at any point and holding the sound. It accepts eight gate inputs and MIDI and can function as a MIDI sampler or drum machine while in one-shot mode. It can save and recall presets, requires no file-naming conventions, and comes with a flash drive loaded with a copyright free sample library. -Garrett Frierson FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 55
VintageTelefunken U47 Microphone YEARS MANUFACTURED From about 1949-1965 the original product was made. It continues to be made today. BACKGROUND Few microphones are as iconic. The original models had a vacuum tube that would dry out, which was problematic but corrected after 1965. HOW IT WAS USED It was one of the original high-end microphones and used for all sorts of applications from vocals to classical recordings, where it captures a great low end and airy high end with switchable cardioid/omnidirectional patterns. INTERESTING FEATURES What makes the product so cool is that Neumann literally RAN OUT of the original tubes in the early ’60s (which were Telefunken tubes) and the mics suffered until Telefunken produced a suitable replacement vacuum tube to capture the “magic” of the original. MODERN EQUIVALENT Telefunken and Neumann make comparable mics today; expect to spend an arm and a leg! LESSONS LEARNED Where you place this mic makes all the difference and also the ability to record several instruments and situations with a single mic is still important to remember. Sometimes we use too many mics to get a sound that one GOOD one can capture. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Don Miggs is a singer/songwriter/producer and fronts the band miggs (Elm City/Capitol Records). His love affair with vintage instruments and gear only presents a problem when he’s awake. Find out more at miggsmusic.com. Don also hosts a radio show called the Fringe. Details at facebook.com/thefringeshow.
photo by Jensen West
56 FEBRUARY-MARCH 2014 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
WE’VE TAKEN DIGITAL WIRELESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL . . .
DIGITAL 2.4 GHz HIGH-F IDELITY WIRELESS Combining advanced 24-bit, field-proven performance, easy setup and clear, natural sound quality, our System 10 Stompbox delivers the ultimate wireless experience. With the tap of a foot on the rugged, metal Stompbox receiver, guitarists can toggle between dual ¼” balanced outputs or mute one output without affecting the other. And, since the System operates in the 2.4 GHz range, it’s free from TV and DTV interference. You can also pair multiple UniPak® body-pack transmitters with a single receiver to easily change guitars. So go ahead, give it a try – we think you’ll be floored. audio-technica.com
ERIS IMAGING WAS GREAT , THE MIDRANGE CLEAR AND WELL-FOCUSED, AND THE
HIGHS WERE DETAILED. Sound on Sound, Nov. 2013
ONE-UPS TIGHTER BASS RESPONSE
SAUCE” IS THE SET OF
I FEEL LIKE THE ERIS
THE KRK. EVEN WITH THE ACOUSTIC
BUT LISTEN CAREFULLY TO THE E8:
SPACE CONTROL FLAT, THE E5 HAS
Tape Op, Aug. 2013
THE SOUND IS EVEN, PROJECTS WELL, AND LETS YOU REFERENCE
HIGHS WERE EXTENDED AND
SMOOTH WITHOUT ANY EDGY
Eris™ E8 • 8" Kevlar LF Transducer • 1.25" silk dome HF transducer • 150 honest watts • Eris™ E5 • 5.25 " Kevlar LF transducer • 1.0" silk dome HF transducer • 80 honest watts • Big Boy Controls our competitors don’t have: continuously variable Mid and High frequency controls • 3-position Acoustic Space switch • Input Gain • Low Cut-Off for use with our cool new Temblor T10 sub
SPIKINESS OR RESONANCES. ©2014, PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc, All Rights Reserved. Eris is a trademark of PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc.
Recording, May 2013
AT A REASONABLE PRICE. Electronic Musician, Apr. 2013
NOTABLE LOW-END RESPONSE
PUNCHY. SANS SUB—FULL AND DETAILED, YET
Pro Audio Review, Sept. 2013
E8’s FROM PRESONUS SOUND SIMPLY AMAZING…A
REALLY PHENOMENAL REFERENCE MONITOR, NOT ONLY FOR THE PRICE, BUT JUST IN REGARD TO REFERENCE MONITORS, IN GENERAL.
AskAudio Magazine, December 2013 Baton Rouge, USA