THE MUSICIAN ’S RESO URCE
MARCH ‘15 FREE
INTERVIEWS SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE JULIANA HATFIELD THREE NAPALM DEATH
Why Grueling Tours Yield Tighter Recordings
HOW TO CAPITALIZE ON NIELSEN’S INDUSTRY REPORT
WHY THE FUTURE OF MASTERING ISN’T IN THE STUDIO
A LOOK AHEAD AT 2015’S BEST NEW GEAR
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New i-Series. New song.
Tracked on her iPad® with new Capture™ Duo. Beamed wirelessly to her laptop and mixed with Studio One® Artist. Available for sale to her fan base the same day via Nimbit®. The iOne and iTwo are the only 96kHz USB 2.0 interfaces with a seamless suite of easy-to-use software that encourages your creativity. ©2014 PreSonus Audio Electronics., Inc. All Rights Reserved. iOne, iTwo and Nimbit are trademarks or registered trademarks of PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc. Capture and Studio One are trademarks or registered trademarks of PreSonus Software Ltd. All other marks are property of their respective holders. Except any smudges you get on this magazine. Those marks are solely your property.
Full info and videos at… www.presonus.com/i-series
The Juliana Hatfield Three
Six Organs of Admittance
Records That Changed My Life
by Mark Cowles
by Vincent Scarpa
TABLE OF CONTENTS
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3
The Dough Rollers
by T. Ali. Eubank
by Jaclyn Wing
by Matt Jatkola
4. Letter From the Editor
38. Studio Diary: Compass: Mexican Institute of Sound + Toy Selectah
6. Quick Picks: The Best in New Music
40. My Fave Axe: Natalie Denise Sperl
8. V inyl of the Month: Joanna Gruesome/Trust Fund
42. Best of Winter NAMM 2015
12. Live Reviews
46. Gear Reviews: Black Lion Audio & Steinberg
34. How LANDR is Innovating On-Demand Mastering
48. Flashback: AMS RMX16
36. How Indies Benefit From Nielsenâ€™s 2014 Industry Report PERFORMER MAGAZINE MARCH 2015 3
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Volume 25, Issue 3
I am writing this from our snowzillapocalypse headquarters in the hopes that my communiqué reaches someone who can help dig me out of about forty-five feet of white powder here in New England. In any event, if you are reading this (hopefully in a warmer climate), I bring several items of good news. 1. By the time this issue hits the streets, we should (fingers crossed) start entering our early spring thaw, which means of course, we’ve survived snowmageddon only to enter floodmageddon. Oh well. 2. This issue is fantastic, so rejoice! Our cover band The Dough Rollers is a breath of fresh air on the rock scene, and can probably teach your
band a thing or two about a thing or two, so give their interview a good read, wontcha? Plus we’ve got some cool articles on new instant, online mastering services for your tacks, as well as some useful data from Nielsen that can greatly help your band plan out future business goals. 3. We’re having a baby! No, not Performer. I’m not sure how a magazine could give birth exactly, but my wife and I are expecting our second child later this fall. I hope my family doesn’t mind finding out this way. I was just gonna text them, but this’ll help me find out which family members actually read the mag. Tsk tsk, Aunt Trudy :( Gifts and fruit baskets, as always, can be sent care of the magazine to the address in our masthead. -Benjamin Ricci, editor
P.S. – No, seriously. Please send fruit baskets. Produce is mad expensive here and that’ll save me some cash. Gotta do whatever it takes with baby number two on the way. Can you blame me?
PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143 CONTACT Phone: 617-627-9200 Fax: 617-627-9930 PUBLISHER William House Phone: 617-627-9919 email@example.com EDITOR Benjamin Ricci firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN AND ART DIRECTION Cristian Iancu EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Bob Dobalina email@example.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Amanda Macchia, Aya Lanzoni, Benjamin Ricci, Camilo Lara, Chris Devine, Christopher Petro, Dana Forsythe, Don Miggs, Ethan Varian, Jaclyn Wing, Jason Peterson, Julia DeStefano, Lauren Moquin, Mark Cowles, Matt Ingersoll, Matt Jatkola, Michael St. James, Taylor Haag, Taylor Northern, Tony Eubank, Vincent Scarpa CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Brandise Daneswich, Carlo Cruz, Chris Devine, Emilee Barnett, Julia R DeStefano, Kevin Estrada, Matt Lambert, Shervin Lainez, Stockton ADVERTISING SALES William House Phone: 617-627-9919 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.”
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EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS 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 email@example.com 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?”
© 2015 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.
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.
A Place to Bury
STRANGERS SEBASTIAN DOOMTREE TRANSFIXIATION Brooklyn, NY (Dead Oceans)
GIRLS IN PEACETIME WANT TO DANCE Glasgow, Scotland (Matador Records)
ALL HANDS Minneapolis, MN (Doomtree Records)
APTBS specializes in noise; their self-titled debut was released in 2007 and received positive reviews from critics and fans alike. Now they’re back with a new LP for the listener to fall into a baleful and bleak acid trip. The record starts out with the feedbackdrenched opener “Supercharger,” followed by “Love High,” one of the better tracks on the album. It’s a heavy shoegaze song full of blissful melodies and pulsating tremolo sounds. The drums are very sterile and Depeche Mode-like - adding to an eerie and cold backdrop. Meanwhile in the background, frontman Oliver Ackermann belts out abstract lyrics about a love overdose. Ackermann makes great use of his famed Death by Audio effects pedals on the song “What We Don’t See.” The track features a harsh, grinding fuzz texture on the lead guitar while a second guitar slowly whirs and throbs in parallel harmony. The sound is very My Bloody Valentine meets Ian Curtis. Recommended. Follow on Twitter @aptbs Taylor Northern
There’s always that ’60s pop flair to every Belle & Sebastian song, but this album defines a much different “pop.” One of the most beloved aspects of the band’s style comes with those croons and the stories that all lead up to that graceful kick of a chorus. This time around, synthesizers come into play and in the majority of the tracks they are put to use as a whole new vessel for Stuart Murdoch’s lyrical perspective and twist on some of his song structures. Verses tend to soar rather than incline to that catch. Then there are tracks like “Enter Sylvia Plath,” which sports a virtually unrecognizable dance beat for the listener seeking out traditional Belle & Sebastian, but with a track title like “The Cat With The Cream,” it’s pretty clear that this album is not a complete departure; it’s just chapter. Follow On Twitter @bellesglasgow Lauren Moquin
When Doomtree got on NPR to talk about their latest record, it wasn’t surprising to hear that getting the 7-piece Minneapolis collective together in one place to record didn’t come easily. That’s part of the beauty of a hip-hop collective the tension of attitudes, the war on style, the competitive fight for symmetry and narcissism can make for a raw and undeniably edgy record. Especially one that comes from an underground, DIY scene. And yet, All Hands is slightly predictable, perfectly indie, and sparingly unabashed. That isn’t to say the album is bad (far from it) . It just doesn’t rise up against the tide of Doomtree’s formidable years. In All Hands the crowning jewels are the moody, anthemic beats of Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak (in company with P.O.S. and Cecil), rapper/songstress Dessa’s slithering, sharp-tongued flow, and the final track (“Marathon”), which breaks away from the rest of the record to offer the listener a breath of fresh air, proving the collective is still able to harness what it means to be hungry in hip-hop. Follow on Twitter @doomtree Amanda Macchia
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TOTEM Cincinnati, OH (Self-released) After a decade playing together, The Hiders have long figured out their strengths: splendid harmonies; slow-building, worththe-wait songs; and, most of all, tight musicianship with perfectly chosen parts played for each moment. In addition to these strengths, Totem, the band’s fifth album, showcases well-crafted lyrics, particularly on the clever “Jesus Was a Cowboy,” which brings unique takes to potentially well-worn clichés and delivers lines like “If God was a bullet/And I was a gun/He’d point me at Calvary/And shoot His own Son.” With Totem, come for the music, stay for the words, and enjoy The Hiders at their best. Follow online at www.thehiders.com Jason Peterson
The Juliana Hatfield
WHATEVER, MY LOVE Cambridge, MA (American Laundromat Records)
YOU’RE BETTER THAN THIS Boston, MA (Exploding in Sound Records)
Juliana Hatfield is back, and she’s reformed her old band to record the trio’s first studio release since 1993’s Become What You Are. Whatever, My Love is an album filled with a nice blend of acoustic and distorted electric guitar hooks that are reminiscent of the alternative rock explosion of the mid-1990s. There are hints of The Lemonheads in there as well, a band Hatfield had been a crucial part of during that era. But lyrically, the album is classic Hatfield; each song is able to stand alone as its own story. So much of her personality comes out in each track: for example, she has thought about what it’s like to be a dog (“If Only We Were Dogs”) and even constructs a day-inthe-life narrative of being a dog (“Dog on a Chain”). She also longs for a normal, stable relationship (“Ordinary Guy”) but cannot seem to pursue it on her own (“I’m Shy”). Whatever, My Love also features a reworked version of the catchy “If I Could” as the lead single, an older song that had previously been unreleased. It’s an album that is going to set the bar high in 2015, as it’s the most poignant and authentic LP we’ve heard so far this year. Follow on Twitter @julianahatfield Matt Ingersoll
The Boston head-smasher four piece has proven to be a formidable leader in the world of noise rock. Their fifth LP, You’re Better Than This, maintains that visceral crunch. Think back to ’90s Touch & Go and Dischord releases, delivering ferocious LPs touching the voids between punk and college rock. Rhythm hammered by the indie rock trinity of bass, drums and guitar, singer Rick Maguire (possible vocal sibling to Hold Steady’s Craig Finn) bursts his roughed vocals between thrusting strums, savage percussive rhythm and ferocious sonic complexity. Though rhythmically robust, a sincere degree of melodic artistry lingers amid the dramatic slough. Chugging guitars flicker with guitar noodling, or a song like “Fuck the Police” will startle, a solo Americana acoustic interlude, ala Billy Bragg appears and dissipates like an apparition. An exceptionally strong release, with high degrees of primal energy, complex rhythmic detail, boldly aggressive and thoughtful lyrics and startling contrasts throughout. Follow on Twitter @pilemusic Christopher Petro
Here you’ll find the best new music our writers have been digging this past month. For full reviews and to stream tracks and videos from the artists featured on these pages, please head to performermag.com. Enjoy!
PERFORMER MAGAZINE MARCH 2015 7
REVIEWS Trust Fund/Joanna Gruesome
“Split LP exudes noisy, abrasive bliss…” 8 MARCH 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
It’s always a joy to get new Joanna Gruesome vinyl, and this time out fans are treated to a delicious two-fer: a split LP with three new tracks from Joanna Gruesome plus three new tracks from UK newcomers Trust Fund (pictured). The whole affair adds up to a noisy, punkfueled skin abrasion (but in a good way, ya dig?) The split is a co-partnership between Athens, GA-based HHBTM Records and the UK label Reeks of Effort (headed up by Joanna Gruesome member Max Warren). And if this showcase is any indicator of things to come, we can’t wait for more label team-ups from these two. In short, this split rules. You’ve got two rad bands from across the pond dishing out three cool new tracks apiece. Their sounds are different, yet complementary, and on the whole it all just works. Highly recommended.
Follow on Twitter: @HHBTMrecs
Father John MISTY I Love You, Honeybear Seattle, WA (Sub Pop)
Follow on Twitter: @fatherjohnmisty
photo by Elizabeth Tillman
I Love You, Honeybear is Joshua Tillman’s second effort under the moniker Father John Misty. Written by Tillman and produced by Jonathan Wilson, the album serves as a love letter to his Emma Elizabeth Tillman - who played a dominatrix in the video for Fear Fun’s “Nancy From Now On” - but also serves as a window into Tillman’s musical evolution. The album is as colorful in its personable lyricism as it is in its rugged American folk soundscapes. The music gushes over you while Tillman serenades you with his modern wit and pouting potty-mouth. Standout tracks on the album include the gorgeous and equally catchy “Chateau Lobby #4” (which gets its name for the place where Tillman met his wife), the brutally truthful and cynical “Holy Shit” and the soul musictinged “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me.” PERFORMER MAGAZINE MARCH 2015 9
Sleater-Kinney originally formed in Olympia, WA in 1994 and quickly began turning heads in the “riot grrl” scene, a feminist hardcore punk scene originating out of the Pacific Northwest. Now the band’s eighth album is here and it’s been ten years since their previous effort The Woods. On No Cities, the band sounds raw and explosive – they build upon the catchy indie rock riffs introduced on The Woods and transform them into full-blown post-punk anthems. The album starts off with “Price Tag,” which is the most noteworthy track on the album. It begins with a catchy synth guitar melody and the drums quickly fall in place with an upbeat, reggae rhythm. Drummer Janet Weiss exhibits the most musical prowess here; channeling the spirits of Stewart Copeland and Carlton Barrett while utilizing tasteful rim shots throughout the song. The guitars hammer out jagged post punk chords that are reminiscent of the Medications, while singer Carrie Brownstein yells about greed and the errors of capitalism. Other notable tracks include “Hey Darling,” “Bury Our Friends” and “A New Wave.” The album ends with “Fade,” a hard rock and roll anthem that could have better served as an introductory track that segues into “Price Tag.” Overall, No Cities is a solid postpunk LP that celebrates the band’s reunification. SleaterKinney has not released an album in a decade, but the band has managed to preserve the best aspects of their artistic chemistry.
photo by Brigitte Sire
SleaterKINNEY No Cities To Love Olympia, WA (Sub Pop) 10 MARCH 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Follow on Twitter: @Sleater_Kinney
REVIEWS Capturing a blend of gritty art-pop, sadcore sensibilities and indie joy, this breakout LP is a bombastic, yet heartfelt bound towards making a name for himself outside of Arcade Fire. The 8-song release is a giddy departure from Butler’s main role as multi-instrumentalist in the aforementioned AF. Its loose vibe sets a tone of playful artistic liberation that parades around swimmingly, rocking out all the while. The latest single, “Anna,” is a hyper-catchy, blip-tastic dose of ’80s pop with a hint of stalker lyricism. Slaphappy and upbeat, it’s bound to inspire Risky Business-style living room dancing and synthesizer envy. With hyper-personal lyrics of doubt, being distracted and wanting a pet fish, Policy is highly accessible both in its upbeat indie ruckus as well as in the beauty of its single-tear ballads. Sonically solid, it is an inventive and stellar debut from this indie chieftain.
Follow on Twitter: @ButlerWills
Will BUTLER Policy Montreal, QC (Merge Records) PERFORMER MAGAZINE MARCH 2015 11
Follow on Twitter: @kingsleyflood
pening the night was the Lawsuits. Hailing from Philadelphia, the band brought a unique sound to the venue as they incorporated harmonized melodies and soulfulness to each note. With inf luences from all different genres, it was obvious that the Lawsuits were there to have fun and entertain. Boston’s very own The Grownup Noise drew in the crowd with their melodic undertones like the sounds of Dashboard Confessional and Death Cab for Cutie. At times, it seemed like the crowd was louder than the band itself. The band played a mix of catchy and “hopeless romantic” tunes, and one which was about horror stories. “They make you really smart…and paranoid,” lead singer/guitarist Paul Hansen remarked. By the time Kingsley Flood hit the stage, the crowd was riled up and ready for the headlining
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act. With a visual sense to their lyrics, and a sound much like that of The Shins and The Clash, while at the same time adding their own unique, energetic twist, the group featured songs such as “Set Me Off,” “Wonderland,” and “Kings Men.” For their songs “Quiet Ground” and “Too Old,” the band brought out their former violinist to play alongside the band members one more time. Closing the night, the group played “Waiting on the River to Rise,” which band member Naseem Khuri said was “forever dedicated to their friend Matt.” They also closed the night with “Thick of It,” one of their newer songs that strayed away from the Americana sound. Khuri and the rest of band were clearly there to have a good time and celebrate their newest EP release, To the Fire.
with the Grownup Noise and The Lawsuits
Kingsley Flood The Sinclair - Cambridge, MA January 30, 2015
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Follow on Twitter: @revhortonheat 14 MARCH 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
tanding in the pit of the spirited crowd, center stage and amidst the droves of fans that had brazenly ventured outside despite the city’s pre-blizzard conditions – excited whispers abound: “Who are you most excited to see?” “The Rev!” “Dale Watson!” “The Lonestars!” “Rosie!” Impassioned voices seemed to shout in unison, a number of them belonging to the assemblage of Texans that had flown in – bringing cases of Lone Star beer with them to mark the occasion and further add to the evening’s honky tonk-meets-rockabilly vibe. Billed as the Queen of Rodeo, the word “powerhouse” must have originally been coined to describe Rosie Flores, for no other word will do. Though small in stature, Flores packs a lasting musical punch – something she referenced [halfjokingly, half-seriously] at the end of the Johnny Cash classic, “Get Rhythm” and would continue to prove throughout “Boxcars.” But it was the conclusion to her five-song set, a Tex-Mex take on The Blasters’ “Long White Cadillac,” that brought down the house and served to further whet appetites. As proclaimed Outlaw himself and subsequent originator of the Ameripolitan genre, Dale Watson [and his aptly-named Lonestars] descended down the Royale staircase and emerged from the shadows in illustrious regality [with Watson’s pompadour to match] - the crowd erupted into resounding applause. This would continue throughout the opening notes of fan-favorite “Truckstop in La Grange” – complete with an elongated segue into the ZZ Top single of a similar name. One improvisational Lone Star beer “jingle” later and the band - graced with crisp instrumentation and Watson’s commanding lead vocal - launches into “I Lie When I Drink.” Sharp humor abounds amongst pure showmanship in a set that, though far too short for an artist of Watson’s caliber, charmed and rocked up until the very last second. Watson’s smooth, distinct baritone combines with the outpouring of his heart and soul, with a stage presence evoking Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and even Elvis… Dalelvis, to be exact. Before long, the fiery trio that is Reverend Horton Heat - with Gretsch-slinging Jim Heath in tow - would prove the validity of the tour’s namesake with a rollicking leap into the harddriving “Victory Lap”-turned “Smell of Gasoline” to the chants and fist-pumps of an enthralled crowd with its collective jaw hanging slack. The band, with its robust combination of Heath’s guitar work, Jimbo Wallace’s standup bass, and Scott Churilla’s drums, travels at the speed of light… dances, even – expertly playing off of the franticism of a crowd growing ever-zealous mere seconds into Heath’s frenzied exclamation: “It’s… it’s… it’s… it’s a psychobilly FREAKOUT!” (“Psychobilly Freakout”). Such a course would continue throughout the remainder of a rapid-fire set consisting of longtime fan favorites (the crowd-participatory “Jimbo Song” and “Baddest of the Bad”) and
Reverend Horton Heat with Dale Watson and Rosie Flores Royale Nightclub - Boston, MA January 20, 2015 newer material – namely, “Zombie Dumb,” a shift into surf-punkabilly ala Dick Dale and His Del-Tones, followed by “Let Me Teach You How to Eat.” The set list is quintessential Reverend Horton Heat, laden with witty, double-entendres and thundering arrangements designed to blow minds. Never one to play a slow song, [“until now!”] Jim Heath exclaims before launching into the sensuality of “In Your Wildest Dreams.” Later, Heath would trade his Gretsch for Wallace’s upright bass to perform a spirited rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” before proceeding to melt faces during the hypersexualized “Big Red Rocket of Love” and an encore including “Galaxy 500.” Boston may have been in the midst of a blizzard of epic proportions. But inside, the Heat was on, and it was boiling. PERFORMER MAGAZINE MARCH 2015 15
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Metal’s Extreme Godfathers Brutalize the Genre’s Boundaries on Latest LP
PERFORMER MAGAZINE MARCH 2015 17
W On his unique vocal style: “To be honest it just seems to be something anatomic that I’ve got that enables me to do what I do.” -Barney Greenway
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hen one thinks of heavy and extreme music, the first groundbreaking band that immediately comes to mind is Napalm Death. The perfection of their all-encompassing, intensely fierce sound can be summarized as a superb blend of death metal, hardcore punk and prog rock allied with their own unique approach. Their substantially influential and boisterous sound could easily be acknowledged as one of the most quintessential genres of the 20th Century, while they still maintain their innovative and dominatingly powerful legacy into the 21st. I was able to speak with iconic front man Barney Greenway to get some insights on their 15th studio album APEX PREDATOR- EASY MEAT as well as some background on the Gods of Grindcore’s brilliant and timeless sound. What are some of the highlighted themes on the new album? I know a certain disaster that resulted in the deaths of slave laborers was a major factor on your songwriting this time out. Yes, the big catalyst with this album actually stems from a specific event, where a building collapsed in Bangladesh about a year ago and a couple thousand people have either been killed or injured severely for the rest of their lives. It shocked me into wanting to make it the centerpiece of this
album and to expose an event like that and other things surrounding slave labor. The coverage when that whole thing happened was disgraceful. I mean obviously there are disasters from time to time, but taking note of the amount of coverage given to horrible catastrophes in the world, then you just think this one by comparison almost seemed to have minimal coverage. I thought it was a really regrettable and quite nasty thing to think that their lives were considered cheap because of the circumstances. And also a sense of shame to a certain degree, because they manufactured clothes to a lot of people in the West, clothes that are sold at certain shops that you might be buying from, you know? I think the whole nature of supply chains and manufacturing just has to change. Because if you were to enforce these types of conditions on people in another scenario in life you’d go to prison, no questions asked. This whole globalization process of driving down manufacturing costs just seems to have gotten completely out of control. And actually there was a study within the last few days that suggests that proportionally, the number of people living and working under slave conditions is bigger than it ever has been since things have been recorded. So think about that.
Let’s go back a bit. How did you first develop your trademark vocal sound? What I would say is you’re motivated by the depth of the things you’re feeling. There’s
You have a remarkably charismatic stage presence - what inspires you while singing live? It’s like f licking a switch and letting the electricity go through. I really get that urge to respond to the music that’s being played through the instruments and if I stand still even for a minute I almost feel like the odd man out, you know what I mean? Because that music is just absolutely barreling away in the background and I feel the need to move. If I stop, I just feel like I’m completely out of place.
On his dynamic stage presence: “If I stand still even for a minute I almost feel like the odd man out, you know what I mean?” -Barney Greenway certain things you’re feeling that give you that level of projection in your voice, but to be honest it just seems to be something anatomic that I’ve got that enables me to do what I do. Some extra little curvature on the throat muscle, it could be even something like that because, I don’t want to sound as if I’m boasting, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a lot of people that I’ve met that just cannot do the style that I do, but to me it just comes entirely natural. It’s just like riding a bike. I sing from the diaphragm. I actually sing from where ‘regular’ singers would and people think I just do it from my throat, but I don’t. It comes from right down in my lungs and then I project it in a certain way using my throat. What were some of your personal favorite bands growing up? Well, the first for me really was Motörhead. I mean Ace of Spades is probably my favorite album ever. I just think they were the first extreme band, unintentionally or otherwise, and so I went from there, really. I was always looking for the next extreme after that. And pretty much my next favorite band after that is Discharge and just tons of European, Japanese and American hardcore bands. I honestly wouldn’t even know where to begin and where to end. What bands would you consider influential to Napalm Death’s sound? Honestly, there are so many great bands that have influenced us that again, it’s like a neverending list. Off the top of my head there’s Siege from Boston, Repulsion from Michigan, Steve Austin and Today Is The Day, Celtic Frost, Death, Swans, Killing Joke and countless others.
Your lyrics are as profoundly intellectual as they are confrontational. What are some of the contributing factors that influence the lyrical content? Honestly, I don’t really think of [the lyrics] as intellectual. Because you know what, if you try to be too clever and if you try to do things like put in lots of high-brow issues and stuff then you’re really just lying to people. I’m not saying people are too stupid to get some of the political stuff, far from it, in fact; it’s just that not everybody wants to carry a dictionary around when they’re trying to decipher lyrics. I think the way to do it is just use English in a way that’s quite easy to understand but without being generic and just write it creatively. Just use metaphors, use similes, use word play, use comparisons...
after take. The more takes you do, of course the more stilted it becomes and the more mechanical it becomes and the more robotic it becomes… Napalm Death is such an evolving influential force with modern heavy music; how do you guys manage to re-invent your progressive sound with each new album? Again, it’s just one of those things where it’s like riding a bike, you sort of just don’t forget really. I know it sounds a bit common and mechanical but really it’s that simple. I don’t want to sound pretentious, but there’s just certain chemistry between the members and when we collaborate on stuff, we all understand each other’s little quirks in terms of writing. I don’t know how to put it any other way; it just really seems to come together perfectly. When we first write the material before we go into the studio, we’re kind of thinking between us, ‘Well, is this stuff going to be any good? Are people going to like it? Is it going to be as good as the last album?’ You try not to but it happens where you ask yourself those questions and somehow it always seems to come out [all right] in the end. Then once you go into the studio there’s almost an extra layer of goodness that seems to just materialize on top of it, and it just works out really well every time.
If it could be really gotten through to people to pay a few dollars more to get something that wasn’t manufactured [like this], I think perhaps the culture would change, but again I don’t want to beat people with a stick, you know? I just want to put these things out in the open so people have a better understanding of where their dollars go.
Follow on Twitter: @officialND
I don’t want to seem like an elitist or anything because frankly that would undermine anything we could really put down, so I think it’s important to say that. But to be honest, things just instinctively develop with the lyrics. I’ll take a particular subject and just write it out and incorporate it into the music and I’ll go, ‘OK, that’s a little bit generic, what can I do to just take it up a notch?’ It’s truly a natural process, you know? You just sit down and let it develop without being too over analytical about it. How do you prepare to go into the studio? Well, I like to be fully prepared. And in as much as we are spontaneous, I like to be absolutely prepared to go in. And the reason I do that is I want to learn the songs as efficiently as possible. As much natural flow as you can get when you’re singing in the studio, the better result you’ll get, because you don’t have to do take after take
NAPALM DEATH APEX PREDATOR – EASY MEAT STANDOUT TRACK: “SMASH A SINGLE DIGIT”
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SPOTLIGHT 20 MARCH 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
HE JULIANA IELD THREE
How One of Alternative’s Most Storied Artists Capitalized on Crowdfunding To Craft a Masterpiece 20 Years in the Making... by VINCENT SCARPA / photography by MATT LAMBERT
hen Juliana Hatfield was younger, she took private tennis lessons. She remembers vividly the day her instructor asked her to try a different grip on her racket. “He said, ‘Turn your serving hand a little to the left and keep it there,’” she recounts. “It felt so uncomfortable for so long, and then at some point it kicked in and I realized: my serve was better. But it took someone else to show me that I could actually change, that I could move in a different direction and it could improve me.” This anecdote that Hatfield floats by in passing seems as apt an analogy as one is likely to land on to characterize her diverse, mutating presence in the music industry. In
addition to a solo career during which she has released more than ten records, she’s also been a contributing member of bands like Blake Babies, The Lemonheads, Some Girls, and, most recently, Minor Alps, a collaboration with Matthew Caws, lead singer of Nada Surf. But it’s Become What You Are, the Scott Littproduced 1993 project released as the Juliana Hatfield Three - with Todd Philips on drums and Dean Fisher on bass - that truly landed Hatfield in the public consciousness, with songs like “Spin the Bottle” and “My Sister” receiving regular radio airplay and becoming MTV staples. [“My Sister” remains Hatfield’s biggest hit, a song storied enough to receive its own oral tradition in a recent SPIN feature.]
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The trio never released another record, and showed no signs of doing so, so it came as something of a surprise, in 2014, when plans for a reunion tour and a new record, Whatever, My Love, were announced through Hatfield’s website. “I tend to get bored and restless if I’m on my own,” Hatfield says. “There’s a danger of repeating myself and repeating the same habits in terms of recording techniques, playing, and writing. It becomes too comfortable.” She can’t quite remember whose idea the reunion was, only that it came about quickly. “I knew the songs were good, but I didn’t know if we would have any musical chemistry still. I just booked the studio and said, ‘We’re gonna go in there and do it, and if it’s a total disaster we can still pat ourselves on the back for giving it a try.’” A total disaster it is not. Whatever, My Love finds the trio evolved in many ways - it being twenty-three years since Become What You Are was released in a musical climate wholly unrecognizable from today’s - and yet the sound and the songs are unmistakably theirs: incisive, gritty, melodious, vulnerable. Hatfield’s voice is as distinctive as it ever was, her songwriting as surprising and smart. The songs themselves are served tremendously by the bold and arresting backgrounds Phillips and Fisher create for them, strung together with contagious melody. “Push Pin,” the album’s most infectious song, was written by Hatfield for a possible Lemonheads reunion album a few years prior, to be produced by Ryan Adams (a project that never came to fruition). The song ended up appearing on Hatfield’s acoustic Wild Animals, but is reinvigorated here by the trio, who elevate the track to the upper echelon of Hatfield’s catalog. “I hear your voice and I’m a born-again whore,” Hatfield
“If you’re a real writer, it’s torture.” Veruca Salt, and Sleater-Kinney, to name a few - have reemerged on the scene. This prevalence of nostalgia-fueled reunions seems to signify a renewed interest among contemporary audiences in the left-of-center, alternative sound that came to characterize much of the music from the ’90s, but Hatfield can’t place her finger on why. “I’m still trying to figure it out,” she says. “I’m just now starting to think about what it means, what we did back then. We’re finally able to look back with distance. I was too close to it before. And up until recently, I said I’d never do one of those play-the-whole-album tours. I wasn’t into nostalgia. But then at some point in the last year, I realized [Become What You Are] actually holds up. It doesn’t sound retro to me. And I think we could actually have fun playing it.” She continues: “I know for other people it’s a nostalgic thing, but for me the ’90s doesn’t stand for much. It just happens to be when I started to make this music people were starting to hear.” Hatfield has seen the times and the industry change drastically; many of her more recent albums - including Whatever, My Love - have been made possible only by way of crowdfunding, which didn’t exist when she first came on the scene. “You have to be more down-to-earth about everything when you’re in the position of
Pledgers and non-pledgers alike will have the chance to see and hear the product of their investment on the trio’s upcoming tour, which will make stops in cities like Cambridge, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. After the tour is over, Hatfield says she’ll continue writing and recording, despite describing the whole process as challenging. “People who say ‘I love writing, I just love it’—they’re not real writers.” She relays an adage from the great Dorothy Parker: “I hate writing, I love having written.” “If you’re a real writer,” Hatfield argues, “it’s torture.” And yet one need only listen to Whatever, My Love to see how productive and generative that torture is for Hatfield, who consistently surprises, haunts, and delights, reinforcing over and over and over again, in any number of variations, the vitality she’s been demonstrating for more than a quarter of a century.
Follow on Twitter: @julianahatfield
“It took someone else to show me that I could actually change, that I could move in a different direction and it could improve me.” sings, and it’s difficult not to join her. Never has pop-punk been more exciting, imbued and stylized with the rigor and rancor for which Hatfield is known and loved. Beginning this month, the trio will play the entirety of Become What You Are, in addition to songs from the newest record, in venues throughout the country. This at a time during which so many venerated bands - like The Breeders, 22 MARCH 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
being crowdfunded,” Hatfield says. “You have to watch the numbers. You’re in charge of the budgets, which we never used to be. So, in a way, that’s kind of a drag, because I’m not accountant, but at the same time I’m not wasting money like I’m sure the record companies did. We can be more realistic about it and use money where it needs to be spent. Crowdfunding really saved my ass.”
THE JULIANA HATFIELD THREE WHATEVER, MY LOVE STANDOUT TRACK: “INVISIBLE”
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lers Jack Byrne Explains How Demanding Tour Dates Bond Bands
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“I think that there is no better way to come together as a band than being on tour.” 26 MARCH 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
of these older guys, just watching them can teach you so much. They’ve been on the grind since before we were born.” Byrne goes on to express his love for the road and the band’s experience touring with Queens of the Stone Age: “We did two tours with them and they were great. They were huge, huge inf luences on us as a band. We had recorded an album with a guy who plays
you walk away with something after recording, being able to see where you can improve and what you did right. We’re getting ready to step back into the studio soon and we’re a lot more prepared than we were last time. Not that we weren’t prepared, but since then we’ve learned a lot about where we can go writing songs, what we want to get out there creatively and who we are as a band.”
aving just released their debut EP Gone Baby Gone on Third Man Records, New York blues/rock outfit The Dough Rollers are slowly gaining notoriety. Lead guitarist and founding member Jack Byrne attributes their rise to the band improving their chops and forging a stronger bond on the road. “We just finished up a tour in Europe and the U.K. with Billy Idol.
“WE DIDN’T LIKE WHAT WE HEARD INITIALLY. SO I WENT INTO THE STUDIO AND LEARNED HOW TO MIX AND PRODUCE AN ALBUM.”
Touring in Europe was great, really a lot of fun. The people over there really get turned on by music still, which is cool. It’s different here, where sometimes you play and people are totally indifferent. It was also really nice to play on a big stage and be able to stretch out, as opposed to playing in a little shit hole in the middle of nowhere which, don’t get me wrong, is fun too,” says Byrne. Byrne explains that every time the band goes to record or goes out on the road they learn something new, but that touring and performing is what really shapes a band: “I think that there is no better way to come together as a band than being on tour. Even if you’re at home and you practice together every day, there’s still something different about being on the road and playing shows. Especially when you get into these big tours, it’s a high-pressure situation and you just have to play to the best of your ability; I think that we’ve definitely done that every time we’ve been on tour.” Byrne continues to explain how the road can really expose a band’s strengths and weakness and provide insight and opportunity for improvement. “When you hit a stride you can learn about where the group is collectively, how you’re playing and how you can improve. Also, any time you play with anybody else on a bill, especially when it’s one
in a band with the bass player from Queens of the Stone Age, so we had some connection already. When they asked us if we wanted to go out with them, at that point it was still just Malcolm [Ford, vox] and me. We said we definitely wanted to go on the tour, but maybe it’s a better idea that we do it as a full band. We weren’t that familiar with the Queens of the Stone Age’s music, but we knew that it was a pretty heavy sound.” So Byrne and Ford added a bassist and a drummer to form a full band for the first time. “That was a huge change and it was directly because of that Queens of the Stone Age tour. You know, just watching those guys play every night, seeing how they do their show and how professional they are and how good they are live, it just changed everything for us,” Byrne says. In describing the songwriting and recording process for Gone Baby Gone, Byrne expresses that the band does whatever works for the song they’re working on at the moment, so that they’re not married to one style, giving them some natural f lexibility and f luidity in the process. Byrne says that the EP was about two years in the making and also contained its own learning curve. “With this EP we… didn’t like what we heard initially. So I kind of went into the studio and learned how to mix and produce an album, so that was definitely a huge learning experience for me. As a band
Follow on Twitter: @TheDoughRollers
THE DOUGH ROLLERS GONE BABY GONE EP STANDOUT TRACK: “MANSION ON A HILL”
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SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE Ben Chasny’s New Composition Method Could Be a Game-Changer
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SPOTLIGHT PERFORMER MAGAZINE MARCH 2015 29
On new methods of songwriting: “I wanted to create new paths for guitar playing, paths that turn away from ‘normal’ tonality.”
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eginning as a solo endeavor for Ben Chasny, Six Organs of Admittance now regularly features other musicians in concert and as guests on records. Original inspiration for the band came from wanting to merge the styles of fingerpicked acoustic guitar with more improvisational elements. Their sound has moved toward electric, psychedelic, and folk styles throughout the years. The newest Six Organs of Admittance record, Hexadic, is to be released this month on Drag City. The particular songs on this record were bent toward the idea of rock music. While every album is different in their own special way, Hexadic is truly unique. “I wanted to create new paths for guitar playing, paths that turn away from ‘normal’ tonality. In a way I suppose it is a bit anarchic because I wanted to ignore structure and think of playing in terms of individual tones and the way they can be combined and recombined. I
guess you could call it a re-territorialization of the fretboard. It has precedents in modern composition, of course, but I wanted to think purely in terms of guitar. I don’t think many people will care much about this, but I do, so I did it.” Hexadic is the result of years of working on a new way to compose music. The process is malleable, and in a sense, is an open system; Chasny explains that this system “exists as an aleatory, combinatorial and meditative practice.” It is pragmatic in the sense that it can help with the memorization of notes, and at the same time, it is surreal in the sense that “the method of teasing out songs from a framework is not entirely different than Ernst’s use of decalcomania.” When it comes to the songwriting process, Chasny tries not to limit himself. Some songs take years to create, while others have been
written and recorded in hours and are then used on records. However, with Hexadic, he created a system of composition based on chance and combinatorial methods that begins by building a basic framework for each piece before he engages with it. From the basic framework, he teases out tonal relationships and word structures. Everything is a little different with this album; in the past he would write the melody first, but this new method makes the words dependent on the music, but not in terms of melody. “Melody arises in the performance only because the music in improvised.” In fact, all of the words on the record were written using the language aspect of the system.
of playing cards, a crucial tool that’s part of the system, but they utilize “the system to get out of a creative jam.”
The system itself consists of different aspects that can interact with each other or exist on their own. There are game, graphic, and language aspects that intersect with the plane of tonal relationships in a way that creates a unique assemblage. Since the system uses a deck of playing cards as the ‘ur-ground’ that most of the aspects of the system are born from, Drag City and Chasny have created a special Six Organs deck of playing cards.
Using this new composition system, Chasny composed thirty pieces but only used nine for Hexadic. Chasny doesn’t consider the twentyone compositions he didn’t use on the album as ‘songs’ - they can be better classified at “precompositions, because they are merely the frameworks for future songs. I would consider them ‘songs’ once the individual tonalities have been established.” These pre-compositions live on paper, as charts, and as various letters that can be built into words. “Right now, they are merely possibilities.” Chasny chose the ones that were used on the album because they made for a more rock-oriented record. Chasny notes, “If the system gave me a pre-composition that had fifteen tonal fields in a progression, I disregarded that because I wanted to make something immediate. I kept the pieces that had few tonal fields.” Few tonal fields make rock n’ roll.
“The cards have special markings to help with aspects of the system. For instance, there are markings to signify specific cards that are used to create a pattern that is used for composition.” To expand upon this idea, spades have plus and minus signs on them to identify them as cards to be used for alternate tunings or as ‘intensity’ signifiers for tonal fields. The face cards in the deck depict individuals who Chasny admires or who have influenced Six Organs. You’ll find Gaston Bachelard as the king of hearts, Octavio Paz as the king of spades, and Maya Deren as the queen of hearts. Creating the cards was a “nice excuse to do something fun and creative in the visual realm.” The cards are an ordinary deck
There is no such thing as an average recording session; it all depends on what the record hopes to sound like. “After 15 years of recording with this project, which is essentially just me, you can imagine that many scenarios have arisen.” Every record is different with different people, engineers and tones. In the studio, an engineer accompanies Chasny but when recording at home, majority of time he is flying solo. “I can’t say there is a typical situation. That’s one of the things that keeps me doing it. New situations.”
This new composition process that Chasny has generated led to the creation of Six Organs’ first true rock record. The album also features Noel Von Harmonson (Comets, Sic Alps, Heron Oblivion), Rob Fisk (Common Eider, King Eider, Badgerlore, ex-Deerhoof) and Charlie Saufley
On his recording process: “I can’t say there is a typical situation. That’s one of the things that keeps me doing it. New situations.” (Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, Meg Baird, Heron Oblivion). Chasny still has those twenty-one precompositions on paper, waiting to be teased out into full songs in the future. “I have them filed away. Anything is possible.”
Follow on Twitter: @6organs
SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE HEXADIC STANDOUT TRACK: “WAX CHANCE”
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SPOTLIGHT 32 MARCH 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
with Matt Jakola of The Bynars
RECORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE P
eople of Earth: How Are You? My name is Matt Jatkola. I’m the guitarist/vocalist/ songwriter of synthpop band The Bynars from Boston. We’re currently working on writing and recording new material – two projects simultaneously, actually – which is so daunting that I often drift off in thought instead of actually working on music. What thoughts come to me as I’m in this depressive procrastination haze? Making lists of albums that changed my life, of course! These mostly come from the time I was in 4th–12th grade, which is probably where your life-changing albums come from, too.
Aerosmith Get A Grip (1993)
Nirvana From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah (1996)
This album and Ace of Base’s The Sign were the first CDs I owned. Every song rocks. I think “Cryin’” is fantastic. “Boogie Man,” the instrumental at the end, is one of my favorites. Christmas ’93 was very good. I got a Discman, too. Thanks Mom and Dad!
Someone asked me recently what made me want to be a musician or be in a band. Michael J. Fox’s guitar solo in Back to the Future made me want to be a musician. The front cover of Wishkah made me want to be in a band. The music is pretty good, too. Love “Spank Thru.”
The Get Up Kids Something To Write Home About (1999)
The Lot Six GWYLO (2002)
Before this album, no music existed in my world except what was on the radio and MTV. My friend Andy liked this band, so I checked them out. I bought this CD and the second I popped it in my mind was blown. Emotionally, it stirred up so much in me. “Holiday” is one of the most exciting openers I’ve ever heard. I still get chills.
Speaking of exciting openers, “Anita De” is badass-ery at its finest! I love how weird this album is, but still kind of straight-up like a punk record…they were just the coolest band ever [and former Performer cover stars – Ed.]. Amazing live as well. And “Shit for Brains” is gorgeous and heart-wrenching in the midst of it all.
Prince Sign O’ The Times (1987) I was way late to the Prince game. I first heard the 1999 b-side “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?” in 2011 and thought it was beautiful. Then I got into the 1999 album, but Sign O’ The Times is my favorite. It makes me feel like anything is possible.
Follow on Twitter: @thebynars What records inspired you to become a musician? Let us know and you can be featured in a future column. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
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LANDR: Drag and Drop Insta An Interview with LANDR’s VP of Product Justin Evans “Master Yo Shit!” That was a t-shirt our team had printed up after a very disappointing conference, in which we received hundreds of submissions that were of poor audio quality. When someone in the industry exclaims, “Wow, that’s a great song,” more often than not, what they really mean is, “Wow, that’s a great sounding recording of a great song!” This industry runs on recordings, not on songs. Yes, what’s in the recording is just as important, but a great song that sounds horrible is essentially useless. And with the explosion of home production (better equipment, plug-ins, etc.), producers and artists can get damn close to pro studio recording quality. Now, we can argue about the need for a producer and the value of a studio experience, etc. But sonically, it’s very close. As mixing has gotten more affordable, or even accessible to learn, we have one final step to conquer. Mastering. must do
But it’s expensive, it’s confusing, it’s an art, and the mix has a lot to do with the outcome, and blah, blah, blah. All of that is true. But to be taken seriously, to make actual money on licensing, to sound professional, and to treat your art with the finishing touch it deserves, you must bite the bullet, and spend the dough. OR do you? I was recently introduced to LANDR; which is an online site where musicians and producers can drag and drop their mixed
tracks (.wavs) and receive an outputted master, all automatically. I chatted with Justin Evans, VP of Product at LANDR by MixGenius, to get some insight into this new music tech solution.
“Our system is built around an adaptive engine that ‘listens’ and reacts to music.” – Justin Evans Performer: In pro audio it’s really hard to simply explain what the hell “Mastering” is to an artist; what is your simple explanation? Justin Evans: Mastering is the thing that makes your music sound great on every single platform at the same time, whether it’s through headphones, out of a great stereo, or online. Think of it as the final step of polish. It brings your track to life. PM: So how did this all start? JE: LANDR is the first product of MixGenius [our parent company]. Almost 8 years ago,
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the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary University of London program started working on machine learning and A.I. approaches to sound engineering. They developed a body of knowledge that we acquired a license to use. LANDR is the growing manifestation of that technology. PM: How many musicians are using LANDR now? JE: We’re pushing 150,000 users and 750,000 songs mastered. We’re in six countries, six languages, and we’re growing. PM: I ask everyone in music tech - are you a musician/producer? JE: Yes, a ton of us here are. My background was making experimental music, so I’ve felt all of the pain points, personally. I think most of us at LANDR are basically trying to use technology to make being a professional creator easier. Montreal [where LANDR is headquartered] is just an incredibly creative community. We are proud to help represent it. PM: What’s the secret tech sauce? How does LANDR’s algorithm work? JE: (laughs) Well, I can’t tell YOU that! Basically, LANDR is smart and getting smarter. Its true beauty lies in its ability to learn. Our system is built around an adaptive engine that ‘listens’ and reacts to music, using
tant Music Mastering For All
“Basically, the more we throw at LANDR, the better it gets.” – Justin Evans micro-genre detection to make subtle frameby-frame adjustments, selectively using tools like multi-band compression, EQ, stereo enhancement, limiting and aural excitation based on the unique properties of the song. Basically, the more we throw at LANDR, the better it gets. PM: How does LANDR handle throwback genres, when an artist maybe wants a master slammed hot? (Ex. Synthwave, etc.) JE: That’s the cool thing about it, it’s always learning. We’ve tried to do the heavy lifting under the surface, but we have one complexity we give to users the ability to change - the “Intensity Settings.” The loudness wars are a very real thing, but we offer people a little leeway into that low intensity, or into higher sensitivity, but each genre will be dealt with differently.
PM: Congrats on the partnership with TuneCore, Xiami, and others. Are there more to come? JE: Yes, LANDR is now available as an integrated embeddable option. Less than 1% of all songs get mastered. We feel a responsibility to educate people on mastering. So, we’re working on ways to put LANDR wherever a musician is uploading audio. PM: What’s next for LANDR? JE: We’re excited about more integration partners. We want to be a part of high-quality streaming’s growth. We never thought we’d be
breaking bands. But, there’s this whole A&R angle, where we are actually helping bands succeed with mix contests, even label deals. Come join the community, and let’s make better sounding music. Try out LANDR for free at http://landr.com and follow on Twitter @LANDR _music 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. PERFORMER MAGAZINE MARCH 2015 35
What Nielsen’s 2014 Music For Independ You’ve heard it from everyone from Bob Lefsetz to David Byrne: the music industry is dying. At first glance, Nieslen’s annual music industry report seems to back up this sentiment. The report, a summary of the data the company compiled on U.S. music consumption over the past year, finds the major development for the industry has been the dramatic increase in on-demand streaming in the face of a precipitous decline in physical sales. In addition, total music consumption (purchases and streams), dipped slightly in 2014, but the report points to the overall expansion of music engagement online and the growth of vinyl LP sales as encouraging trends. It comes as a surprise to no one to say that the music industry is in a state of flux. New technologies have upended nearly every way we’ve been conditioned to act as consumers, and no industry has been more affected than the music business. Independent musicians are now left to navigate this brave new world on their own - but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As the old guard
while this really may come to pass, an analysis of exactly how listeners are consuming music online shows this new model may be more sustainable than it initially appears. Nielsen came up with its “on-demand streaming” metric by combining counts for streaming audio services like Spotify and Rhapsody with play counts for streaming video sites like YouTube. A detailed breakout of listeners’ streaming habits finds that video streams account for more than half of all plays, but that audio streams are increasing at a significantly faster rate. For as much as people like to gripe about Spotify, it is important to realize that more consumers actually use YouTube to listen to online music. It looks as though this trend may be changing, however, and more people migrating to audio services like Spotify is good news for musicians. First, royalties for streaming audio players are almost always exponentially higher than Google’s per stream payouts for YouTube plays. In addition, Spotify, the streaming service with by far the largest user base, actually increases
“Festivalgoers are much more likely to buy merchandise of bands they see at an event.”
“For as much as people like to gripe about Spotify, it is important to realize that more consumers actually use YouTube to listen to online music.” of the music biz has been eviscerated, working musicians have in many ways been freed to take control of their own careers; and a close look into Nielsen’s report reveals emerging opportunities for artists hoping to cut out the middlemen. Here are the major findings of the report and what they mean for independent musicians: ON-DEMAND STREAMING IS UP 54% Online streaming increased a whopping 54% in 2014 to 164 billion streams, while total unit sales (both physical and digital) dropped 11% to 257 million units. The simple take-away from these numbers is that eventually people are going to stop paying directly for music, and 36 MARCH 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
its payout rate proportional to its total revenue distributing 70% of its annual revenue amongst rights holders. While on-demand streaming may never pay at rates comparable to those of digital downloads, it is likely that royalties from Spotify and its competitors will increase in the coming years. And as more people turn to streaming audio players as their primary means for listening, these services could provide an easy, direct and profitable way to distribute your music to a wider audience. VINYL LP SALES INCREASED 52% You’ve undoubtedly read the same type of “Vinyl is back!” article over the past few
years, but it looks like all the enthusiasm has been warranted. Vinyl sales increased 52% in 2014 to 9.2 million individual sales, making up 6% of all physical purchases. It may be time to get in on the vinyl boom if your band hasn’t already. LPs have a higher a profit margin than nearly every other format. And even if you don’t have a distribution deal, pressing vinyl is easier and more cost effective than you may think. Plants like Furnace Record Pressing, for example, will press 500 copies of your album for $2,090, which comes to $4.18 per record. So say you buy Furnace’s 500 record package and go on to sell them for $15 apiece at shows - that is a possible $5,410 return on your investment!
Ever notice how late night hosts often hold up an LP of a band’s new album when introducing them? This isn’t just due to the fact that vinyl has a better profit margin than other formats; it is because selling LPs is also a great way to engage your fan-base. Fans who buy vinyl make a much bigger investment in your music than those who simply stream your album online. As a result, they are more likely to make it out to live shows, buy future albums and remain long-term fans. This looks to be especially true if you are a rock or indie band, as 71% of all vinyl sales last year were classified as “Rock.” LIVE MUSIC IS STRONGER THAN EVER While people may not be spending as much
on music, they are willing to pay for concert tickets. The average consumer spent $109 on live music last year and self-described music fans surely spent significantly more. Festivals in particular have made huge gains, with 32 million people attending at least one festival over the past year. The report also goes out of its way to point out that festival-goers are much more likely to buy merchandise of bands they see at an event. Although there is some debate over whether or not we are currently in the middle of a festival bubble that is bound to collapse, it is clearly worth trying to make it onto a festival stage. Events ranging from mega summer festivals like Outside Lands in San
sic Industry Report Means ndent Artists
Francisco to your hometown jazz-fest feature local showcases and are always looking for independent bands to fill out the bill. To succeed as a musician today, you often need to be your own manager, agent, producer and publicist; becoming your own biggest advocate is essential to making a living off your music. And while the overall state of the industry may seem bleak, the Nielsen report shows there are still opportunities for artists to exist and thrive within this new paradigm. For more information and to read the full report, visit http://www.nielsen.com/ us/en/press- room/2015/2014 - nielsenmusic-report.html PERFORMER MAGAZINE MARCH 2015 37
Mexican Institute of Sound + Toy Selectah Recording around the globe with a cast of nearly 100 artists
Band Name: Compass (Mexican Institute of Sound + Toy Selectah) Album name: Compass (self-titled) Recording Studios: Red Bull Studios LA, Red Bull Studios NY, Red Bull Studios Sao Paulo, Red Bull Studios London, Experimental Workshop Mexico City, Reggae Center Studios (Toots Studio), UPT007 Studios Jamaica, The End Studios Brooklyn, Anchor Studios Jamaica, Flood Studio Spain, Estudio Trece (Tampiquito, Mexico), Medico Studio Miami Record label: TBA Release date: TBA Producers: Camilo Lara and Toy Selectah Main Engineer: Frank “El Medico” Rodriguez. Mixed by: Frank “El Medico Rodriguez and Toy Selectah
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very important matter is the fact that we’ve been working the major part of this project over RED BULL STUDIOS around the world: New York, Los Angeles, London and Sao Paolo. I personally believe that in terms of the multi collaborations and the dynamics of creative sessions, a space and proper facilities, as the Red Bull Studios provide, were definitely a key to be able to work in a comfortable, creative atmosphere. Without this environment most of the goals of this projects would not be achieved as they were. Space, technology, environment, equipment, station A, station B, vocal booths, main room, second room, all this was essential. – Toy PRE-PRODUCTION What was your pre-production like on this project? Toy sent me a bunch of beats, so I spent a couple of months creating these beats into songs. I try not to use MIDI; my studio is basically a bunch of toys and old keyboards to work with. Then
“This is basically the mothership of all collaborations.”
KEY RECORDING GEAR
Ableton Live SSL Boards Pro Tools 10
had some featured spots that were completed in one take and some meticulous million-take artists. – Camilo So who were some of the special guests? Collaborators ranged from Boy George to Sly and Robbie. – Camilo What did you try to accomplish in the studio that you’re not able to do live? Everything we record in the studio, we try to translate that for the live show. – Camilo What were the toughest challenges you faced? To be honest? The sessions were just fun. No challenges at all. I guess it got more challenging by the time we started doing the legal side. – Camilo Any funny stories from the sessions that you’ll be telling for a while? Originally Toy asked me, ‘What if we do a collaboration album and we record it in a couple of weeks and release it in a month?’ It’s been a year…10 studios and 90 collaborations later…. still not done! – Camilo POST PRODUCTION How will you handle final mixing and mastering? We are in that process now. Toy is working hard with Frank El Medico. He is doing the mastering and mixing. – Camilo What are your release plans? Release it…or release singles…or just put music out…and tour all over! There is a documentary and some capsules with the release of the album that Red Bull created for us. That was fun, since the documentary shows the whole process of how it was done. – Camilo Any special packaging? Yes. Working with the amazing Mexican artist Gabriel Kuri and the man behind lots of Mexican classic album covers. The artwork is going to be killer. – Camilo
we started to travel and record sessions with artists in LA, NY, Brazil, UK, Mexico and some other collaborations in India, Jamaica and China. – Camilo I am a beatmaker, DJ and producer, been making music for 20 years, always working with MCs and vocalist to create songs and hits from scratch, but starting with a beat. For this project, I took out all my triple “A stash” of beats, knowing that Camilo is a great, crafty musician who is very focused on textures. Camilo is simple and has an almost all analogue approach to things, which blows my mind. Also, conceptwise, he always finds the right startup idea for lyrics and themes. We’ve known each other for more than 15 years, and have respected each other’s careers since day one. When recording, we know exactly what the other is good for. We capitalize on that fact, understanding that I can take the lead on some things and that he can take the lead on the next thing. I definitely think that this project was possible because of our past experiences of creating records: from A&R to production, to mixing, to playing the bass or keyboards, and programming the right drums, or looking for the right sample. – Toy PRODUCTION What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it? Well it is a mix between what Toy does and my sound. I guess we both share the passion for the dance floor. I’m way more lo-fi than Toy, so that has been really exciting. Toy and Medico are working hard on pulling out the dust of my sounds. – Camilo About our sound, some people believe that we are on very similar musical paths for the fact that we’re both Mexican and that we came from a hip-hop and sample-based production background, plus Cumbia proliferation. Another key element to our work, is that we found that the outcomes can perfectly show our designation of origin. This project is that - you could currently hear our origin connections with our prior works, but as Camilo pointed out, this time it was with a maximization of our artistic resources. – Toy How does it compare to your last releases in terms of style and the creative process? This is a master’s degree in production. We worked with more than 90 artists across the world, so this is basically the mothership of all collaborations. – Camilo What was your philosophy on live, fullband takes versus individual tracking? When you do this kind of project, we did both. We
Follow on Twitter: @toyselectah and @camilolara
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MY FAVORITE AXE
NATALIE DENISE SPERL is the front woman of Kill My Coquette, whose self-titled debut EP is out now. Kill My Coquette is armed with attitude and boasts vital rock and punk with a twist of designer blues. MAKE & MODEL 2014 Gibson SGJ. Slim profile maple neck, vintage style tuners, ’61 Zebra Humbuckers. Made in the U.S.A. WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU Freedom. Fun. I plug in and I have that tone and sound and power coming from behind me; it makes me want to play my heart out. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE The clean tone purrs. Dirtier tones growl. The Gibson SG gives me that smooth, beefy tone I like for playing rhythm. I use the Big Muff and OCD overdrive pedals through my Vox AC30. I use Ernie Ball custom gauge strings and Dunlop 50mm picks. SPECIAL FEATURES None. It’s a stock SG and I love it! CAN BE HEARD ON The tracks “3rd & Bonnie Brae,” “Close To Me,” and “Sweet Baby Blooze.”
Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share? Email us at email@example.com
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Follow on Twitter: @killmycoquette
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
ARTISAN BASS WORKS
AMM is the biggest gathering of music manufacturers in North America. All the new gear comes out in a tidal wave, hit all at once in lovely Anaheim, California.
It takes a ton of time to cover the acres of booths, but here are some items in particular that stood out as we cruised the floor this January. TEMPLE AUDIO DESIGNS PEDALBOARDS Lightweight aluminum and a very unique mounting system that makes Velcro seem caveman-ish. The ends can also support power supplies and audio routing, making for a very clean and tidy board. And if there’s one thing rock and roll is known for, it’s tidiness (just kidding). www.templeboards.com WAVES AUDIO SIGNATURE SERIES BUTCH VIG PLUG-INS Waves had legendary producer/Garbageman Butch Vig showing off a new vocal plug-in he’s developing, using a lot of experiences with the most recent artists he’s worked with, such as the Foo Fighters as well as his own band. Lots of unique of ways to enhance a vocal track, and a very unique steampunk user interface. www.waves.com ARTISAN BASS WORKS AB had some very unique designs on display, including a new take on an offset bass, offering an instrument that has better balance with some unique tonal options, via an active EQ. www.artisanbassworks.com 42 MARCH 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
WAVES BUTCH VIG
AVID Avid has a new version of Pro Tools out, Pro Tools First, which is available for FREE. Yes there are some limitations, but for someone who wants a risk-free intro to the industry standard recording software, itâ€™s worth checking out. www.avid.com These companies, and their products, barely scratch the surface of what was on display, but are worth checking out. Flip through the next few pages to relive some of our favorite Instagram moments from the tradeshow floor. Chris Devine
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NAMM Here we are! Performer arrives in sunny Anaheim for the NAMM show.
Here’s one of the rad new pedalboards on display from Temple Audio.
Can you see our drool as we fawn over the gear on display from Black Lion?
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Retro-inspired axes recall the neck-thru glory days at the BC Rich booth.
NAMM An awesome offset bass at the Artisan Bass Works booth.
Producer Butch Vig talks turkey as he demos his new Waves software.
HE NAMM The best of Performerâ€™s Instagram Feed from Winter NAMM 2015
s we mentioned on the previous page, NAMM is a huge gathering, and almost a bit too much to take in all at once. So we roamed the tradeshow floor the best we could to find the coolest new gear coming out in 2015. Expect a lot of product reviews in the coming months as manufacturers get their busts into gear (no pun intended) and ramp up production to get their goods to the marketplace as quickly as possible. In the meantime, here are some of our favorite Instagram shots from the trenches. A lot of our favorite brands were well represented, along with some new favorites, as well. Enjoy! Source Audio shows off some cool new stompboxes at their booth.
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BLACK LION AUDIO B12A MKII Preamp - $549
hile every studio loves the clarity of digital workstations, external preamps often give a color that just can’t be replicated via a plug-in. Black Lion Audio has a lot of options, and their B12A MKII is worth checking out. It’s relatively simple; 1/2 rack space, with minimal controls on the front. Power, 48V, Phase, 10dB Pad Hi-Z buttons, a gain knob and a 1/4” input. The back sports an XLR input and a 1/4” output. Inside is a Cinemag input transformer, and a Edcor output transformer - in the audio world these are highly regarded, and considering the sound quality this unit has, they’re worth it. With its simplicity it’s super easy to use; plug it in, make your selections for your application, and it’s done. The only real control is the gain knob. Surprisingly, even with the gain at “0” there is noticeable signal going through it.
› Cinemag Input Transformer › Edcor Output Transformer
› 70dB Gain › Hi-Z Input (passive, unbalanced) › Phantom Power › 10dB Pad › Phase Switch › XLR Microphone Input › TRS Line Output (balanced)
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After speaking to one of BLA’s techs, it’s part of its design. With a preamp, setting an absolute 0 would kind of be pointless. Turning up the gain, it gets nice and warm, regardless of the input. Yes, hotter signals can distort things and get a bit hairy, but not in an unusable way. Even at these higher gain settings it’s remarkably quiet, as well. Direct guitars and basses have a warmth and depth that’s musical and sweet. It doesn’t tend to color the sound, just gives more. It really excels at warming up sterile sonics. It’s a classic sound, and considering that the API 312A was an inspiration in its design, it lives up to that in spades. Here’s the great thing: there are so many companies out there making modern versions of classic preamps, usually with a price tag that’s eye watering. The Black Lion unit has a street price of $549, and it’s worth every penny. Chris Devine
Excellent sound quality. CONS
STEINBERG UR12 USB Audio Interface - $99
Simple, small, ultra compatible. CONS
in tracking. Since the input options are limited, it’s not going to record a full orchestra, but it’s meant more as a portable workstation for a songwriter, either at home or on-the-go. The unit comes with a copy of Cubase AI, Steinberg’s audio recording software. The software is easy to adapt to, complete with 32 tracks of audio and 48 MIDI tracks, as well as an extensive drum loop library. The big seller here is that this plays nicely with pretty much any recording platform: Cubase, GarageBand, Sonar, and Pro Tools. Taking an idea that may have been developed on the road, or in a bedroom, and using the tracks as demos to build off of, is an excellent practical application for this unit. So for mobile or home recording applications, this is a pretty neat little interface, and it can fit in a gig bag easily. Considering the flexibility across operating systems and recording platforms, it’s well worth the insanely low $99 street price. Chris Devine
› 24-bit/192 kHz USB 2.0 audio interface › 1 Class-A D-PRE Mic Preamp supporting +48V phantom power
here are a lot of companies making USB interfaces. Some claim to be portable, and are too big, and others while being small, just lack the features required for any kind of decent recording. Steinberg has found a happy medium with their UR12. Size-wise it’s about a half rack size and relatively light. The front panel has XLR, and 1/4” inputs. Output and input levels are controlled via two knobs, with a direct monitor, and 1/4” headphone out finishing things off at the front. The rear has a 5v USB and a standard USB 2.0 connection that is selectable. RCA output jacks and phantom power selection are here as well. A nice feature is the connections labeled on top of the unit, eliminating the need to keep flipping the unit around to make any connections or adjustments. It’s designed to work with Mac and Windows platforms, buy the real interesting option is the ability to use it as a recording interface with an iPad, as well. Sound-wise, it’s quiet, and there’s no latency
› 1 MIC Input (XLR) plus 1 Hi-Z Input, 2 Line Outputs (RCA) › CC Mode for iPad › USB-Powered for Mac & PC › Loopback Function for Internet Live Broadcasting › Rugged Metal Casing › Includes CUBASE AI for MAC & PC PERFORMER MAGAZINE MARCH 2015 47
1981 AMS RMX-16 Digital Reverb
Craft a perfect room sound without the room
BACKGROUND Started in 1976, Mark Crabtree and Stuart Nevison were aerospace engineers moving into pro studio design who designed a tape phase product that ELO and Wings used to great success. Later, they merged with Neve.
MODERN EQUIVALENT There is a plug-in, of course, as there is for most old school gear. I still have two AMS machines but the plug-in is pretty great alternative, honestly. If maintenance is an issue, get the plug-in. Mine seem to have problems from time to time but I still love them.
WHY IT WAS USED Digital reverb was way easier than finding a million different rooms to get the sound you wanted!
LESSONS LEARNED How to manipulate reverb in unique ways. You don’t have to settle for the norm.
PROMINENT USAGE Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.” Think of the iconic drum fill in that song. This machine helped create that.
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, lalamansion.com, or his radio show, @thefringeAM820 (Saturdays 5-7PM EST).
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Hey Marseilles. Nectar Lounge. Seattle, WA. 09.17.2014
EVERYTHING FROM ANYWHERE
Free yourself from the confines of FOH. With the DL32R, you get 32-channels of powerful digital mixing that’s completely controlled wirelessly — MIX FREE.
Freedom from FOH – mix from anywhere!
Hardware: Flexible, professional I/O in an incredibly compact 3U rackmount design
Wireless: From mic pre gain to control over multi-track recording and playback
DSP: Powerful processing on all inputs and outputs that replaces racks of outboard gear
Recording/Playback: Complete wireless control over multi-track direct-to-drive recording and playback
Master Fader: Intuitive wireless control over everything, proven at more than 2 million live mixes
iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. ©2014 LOUD Technologies Inc. All rights reserved. Wireless router and iPad required for operation (not included).
From the solid cedar top to the rosewood sides, the unparalleled playability and incredible tone make the new Mitchell Element Series acoustic guitars a rock solid value in every way possible. Available in dreadnought or auditorium style, with built-in Fishman electronics and cutaways, there is an Element acoustic guitar that is perfect for virtually any player. Test drive one today at your favorite retailer. Starting from only $299. The NEW Element Series available exclusively at these preferred retailers
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