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Hopelessly Devoted to Music and Art — Subbacultcha quarterly magazine Winter 2015

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Photo 2 by Robin Stein


Editors’ note

Dear reader, In our transition from a monthly magazine to a quarterly, we have often stepped outside of our comfort zone, pushing our writers and photographers, pushing our budget and our luck. With this issue, we let go of another safety net — the theme. It’s our way of saying, “Look, mom, no hands!” (in this scenario, you, dear reader, are the mom). As we did this, a gaping void opened in front of us and, as we fell, we grabbed at anything within reach. Or at least, that’s how it felt at the time. But now that our eyes have adjusted to the dark, our selection is not as arbitrary as we had initially thought. The likes of Weyes Blood, Oneohtrix Point Never, Torus, Empress Of, Meduse MagiQ and Red Light Radio are all artists — and organizations — we have known and enjoyed for a while but in these pages we discovered them anew. Listening closely, looking intently, we were able to have honest conversations about vision, method and perseverance. And then Empress Of said, “Everything I do is a craft. That’s the upbringing that I have,” and it all fell into place. None of us were born talented, but we were born nonetheless. And that’s a start. 03 3


Contents

For your consideration

Empress Of

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Interview by Callum McLean Photos by Julia Moebus

Weyes Blood

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Interview by Zofia Ciechowska Photos by Robin Stein

You as All and Nothing

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Text by Deva Rao 71

Oneohtrix Point Never Interview by Deva Rao Artwork by Max de Waard

Text by Sophia Seawell

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Riding in Cars with Torus

An Ode to Oddness

Photo essay by Gilleam Trapenberg

Text by Carly Blair

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Meduse MagiQ

Stay Classy

Text by Roxy Merrell Photos by Iris Duvekot

Text by Koen van Bommel

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Miquel Herv谩s G贸mez Text by Floor Kortman 46

Red Light Radio Text by Radna Rumping Photos by Wessel Baarda 54

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Growing Pains

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Photo by Gilleam Trapenberg 5


Colophon

Subbacultcha quarterly magazine Issue 02, Winter 2015 Front cover: Natalie Mering (Weyes Blood) photographed by Robin Stein in New York, USA Back cover: Joeri Woudstra (Torus) photographed by Gilleam Trapenberg in The Hague, Netherlands Editors in chief: Leon Caren and Bas Morsch Editors: Andreea Breazu and Phil Krogt Copy editor: Megan Roberts Art director and designer: Marina Henao Advertising and partnerships: Loes Verputten (loes@subbacultcha.nl) Contributing writers: Carly Blair Zofia Ciechowska Floor Kortman Callum McLean Roxy Merrell Deva Rao Radna Rumping Sophia Seawell Koen van Bommel Contributing photographers: Wessel Baarda Iris Duvekot Julia Moebus Robin Stein Gilleam Trapenberg Contributing artists: Max de Waard Miquel Hervás Gómez L.A.N. contributors: A Made Up Sound Black Decades Bonne Aparte De Tuinen Earth Mk. II Herrek It Dockumer Lokaeltsje

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Naive Set Parrish Smith Rats on Rafts Stellar OM Source The Anomalys The Homesick Vakantie Yuko Yuko Printer: Drukkerij GEWADRUPO, Arendonk, Belgium Distribution: Patrick van der Klugt (patrick@ subbacultcha.nl) This magazine was made possible with the kind support of GEWADRUPO. Thank you: Francesca Barban, Jan Pier Brands, Alex Christodoulou, Esther Crookbain, Cherelle de Graaf, Daniel Encisco, Saar Gerssen, Rose Guitian, Karolina Howorko, Maarten Huizing, Laura Huppertz, Nina Ijdens, Maija Jussila, Ilias Karakasidis, Robert Lalkens, Niels Koster, Loulou Kuster, Crys Leung, Jacopo Manelli, Melanie Otto, Alex Sadka, Zsuzsa Nagy-Sàndor, Davina Shell, Randy Schoemaker, Bart Staassen, Orla Tiffney, Aglaya Tomasi, Marilon Tresfon, Jan van der Kleijn, Ilse van der Spoel, Luuk van Son, Merinde Verbeek, Valérie Vugteveen, Marijn Westerlaken, and Sandra Zegarra Patow Subbacultcha Office Da Costakade 150 1053XC Amsterdam Netherlands Contact: editorial@subbacultcha.nl © photographers, artists, authors, Subbacultcha quarterly magazine, Amsterdam, December 2015

Subbacultcha We are an independent, Amsterdam-based music and art platform devoted to emerging artists. We organise progressive shows, make print publications and curate art exhibitions. We are supported by our members, who for €8 a month, have first-hand access to everything we do. Sign up online and we’ll love you forever subbacultcha.nl


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OPEN DAY Gerrit Rietveld Academie Fourteen departments to explore Friday 29.01. 2016

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Braids Sean Nicholas Savage Weyes Blood Dirty Fences L.A.N. Party Alex Calder Dilly Dally Jimmy Whispers Marching Church Gun Outfit I Am Oak Join Subbacultcha and get first-hand access to everything we do. Sign up online at subbacultcha.nl


Subbacultcha quarterly magazine

For your consideration

Local Area Network is a campaign initiated by Subbacultcha to celebrate the amazing network of the Dutch underground. There are dedicated events, workshops, festival showcases, and a publication. Printed below are excerpts from L.A.N.scape, a publication in which we turned to the vast and vibrant corners of our local music scene. It was conceived as the starting point to a comprehensive map of the local scene, sourcing connections between musicians according to the musicians themselves. The result was a dizzying network of more than 80 Dutch acts, some of which were new even to us. Not only that, they were so unexpected and exciting that we deemed it fitting to substitute the editorial team’s picks with these recent finds. Let this be your starting point and an encouraging nudge to get you to explore your Local Area Network. 10


For your consideration

Parrish Smith Recommended by Black Decades Parrish Smith is a completely uncompromised version of himself. With an approach based on impulsive interactions with the vast amount of gear laid out in front of him, he rises to a level where he touches his subconscious using his rhythmic drummachine rituals. We’d best describe it as out of this world. Everything is so full of energy, bursting to be released. His music can at once be described as “no elitism, no prejudices, no 4/4, no genre, hypnotic, tense, comprehensible, a state of mind.” We couldn’t have said it better.

Cinna Recommended by Yuko Yuko

Cinna, aka Finesselande, aka Aime Cain, is “Holland’s Best Rapper,” though he has never reached the fame of his younger squad mates Mr. Polska, Ronnie Flex and Boaz van der Beatz. Cinna sounds like a Gucci Mane locked up in a Roffa Oost studio that’s filled with lean and reverb processors. His inimitable lyrics move from ultimate swagger to emotional wisdom. A living legend.

soundcloud.com/parrishsmith soundcloud.com/finesselande Sweat Tongue Recommended by Herrek There aren’t many bands who dare to stay so close to what they’re feeling, who really dare to sound crappy to find the beauty that lies beneath. I’ve seen them perform several times and each time I had the feeling that there was something really important going on. Like they feel an urge to find something, but they haven’t quite figured out what that something is. Always with a great punk attitude, always embarrassingly pure. soundcloud.com/sweattongue Bonne Aparte Recommended by It Dockumer Lokaeltsje

It Dockumer Lokaeltsje Recommended by The Homesick It Dockumer Lokaeltsje was a short-lived Frisian post-punk band that was founded in 1985. Prior to disbanding in 1990, they made two great and equally weird records – Moddergat and Wil Met U Neuken!. After two decades of silence, the group reunited in 2014 to start playing again. They blew us away in an empty bar in Reduzum and at Freeze Festival. Their entire oeuvre is comprised of twominute post-punk madness and Frisian lyrics. It’s now 2015 and they’re still an exhilarating live act. We’re hoping they’ll record an album again soon. facebook.com/it.dockumer.lokaeltsje/

About eight years ago, I saw Bonne Aparte live in Leeuwarden. The 50 people in the audience took them for granted, smiled politely and thought they were rather nice. They were not nice though, they were brilliant. I felt lonely that night, because no one really seemed to realise how good they were. Years later, I was talking to Sytse and he told me a similar story about seeing them live. Bonne Aparte were gone by then. Like us, they’ve recently popped up again. They may not be essential yet, but they should have been then and we hope they will be soon.

Venus Tropicaux Recommended by Rats on Rafts

facebook.com/Bonne-Aparte-298403251962

soundcloud.com/venustropicaux

Venus Tropicaux reminds you why a band gets started in the first place: no ambition, no school, no technique; just pure feelings, passion and energy to express themselves. The sound, song structures and 15-minute sets seem to connect to the No Wave period or bands like The Slits or The Raincoats. Not sure if they know or care; either way, they are brilliant.

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For your consideration

De Tuinen Recommended by Vakantie

Our first date with De Tuinen was at an art exhibition where we played live elevator music for six hours non-stop. We made loops that went on for ten minutes just so that we could hang out with this guy – who looks like he comes straight out of a comic book, makes cosmic ambient collages and also operates as De Beffende Hooligans – as much as possible. He’s like a New Age guru for meditating cyborgs. Seriously, De Tuinen is a sublime way of getting lost.

Enno Velthuys Recommended by Bonne Aparte Probably a name that doesn’t ring a bell for most people, Enno Velthuys was a so-called “hometaper” in the ‘80s. Little is known about him. He lived a reclusive life and died in 2009 in a mental institution. Living with his mum in The Hague, he released six cassettes of which some tracks can be streamed on YouTube. Every single track he made boasts an incredibly luscious handling of ambient synthesizer music and oozes the solitary state in which he must have lived. For some reason his music really, really gets to me, and I’m startled it hasn’t gotten a proper re-release to this day. discogs.com/artist/641388-Enno-Velthuys Vakantie Recommended by Herrek

soundcloud.com/detuinen Fluisteraars Recommended by Black Decades Black metal is a genre that has faced countless waves of change since its origins. In every genre, there’s a lot of stuff soon to be forgotten. Only a few can stand the test of time and fewer still can transcend the boundaries. Fluisteraars is one such band. Only existing inside the studio, their new album, Luwte, is a masterpiece born on Dutch soil. We need more music of this quality within and beyond the confines of heavy music.

Gijs and Rik just really know what fun is about. Don’t we all just want to hang out with friends, look at great drawings and paintings and dance to some awesome music? So they provide us with a cool place called the Gym, operate in some kind of painters’ collective and make some great dance tunes. Vakantie’s music sounds like the coolest dance music you’ve ever heard, but without taking itself too seriously. soundcloud.com/vakantie Razzia BV Recommended by Yuko Yuko

facebook.com/Fluisteraars

The most hard-working talent I know, Sevdaliza is shrouded in a certain mystery that surprises at every turn. This ensures that she’s always one step ahead of the rest of us. With her given talent and accompanying hard work, she introduces her audience to a slow industrial crawl of beautiful music.

Razzia BV is a band from Kootstertille, Friesland from the ’80s. I’m probably one of the only people who know the band because there’s just one place on the internet where you can find something about Razzia BV: a Soundcloud page called rensepens with six songs on it. It sounds like a screwed-up version of The Cure’s Disintegration. I contacted the uploader a while ago to ask where the music is from. He replied, “It was recorded in a barn in the ’80s.” Nothing more.

soundcloud.com/sevdaliza

soundcloud.com/rensepens-1/sets/razia-bv

Sevdaliza Recommended by Parrish Smith

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For your consideration

De Sp Aties Recommended by The Anomalys

Stellar OM Source Recommended by Vakantie When we learned about Stellar OM Source, we soon became spellbound by her introverted mantras on hardware machines and her enigmatic appearance. Back in the day, we were still defining what Vakantie was by running back and forth between techno and new age healing music. Stellar OM Source inspired us to practice a delicate yinyang balance between the two. Later we found out she is a yoga teacher as well.

Formerly known as The Stilettos, De Sp Aties are relatively new, but already criminally overlooked. With just one guitar and half a drum set, these guys are able to make some of the catchiest and rawest punk/rock’n’roll songs. Added to that, they probably have the best Dutch lyrics of the underground written in the past 15 years: funny, witty and, on occasion, gut-wrenchingly heartfelt. soundcloud.com/despaties Marc van der Holst Recommended by Naive Set Widely known as a writer, poet and cartoonist, Marc has proven himself an essential part of the Dutch musical underground with his bands The Hospital Bombers, Spilt Milk and The Avonden. A ceaseless creator, Marc drops his many projects, musical and otherwise, like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs, without giving much thought to whether they’ll be eaten by birds and get him lost. theavonden.bandcamp.com

soundcloud.com/omsource Leuk en Ko Recommended by Earth Mk. II The absolute best Dutch group ever. Active in the late ‘80s, they never really got their music out there. Niemand Is Perfect is a masterpiece to which no underground band active now compares. loslaten.tk/blog/tag/leuk-en-ko/ Zachte Man Recommended by De Tuinen

Touché was one of the best house/techno labels the Netherlands ever had and one of my favourite labels full stop. Between the two of them, these guys were responsible for loads of timeless records in the mid- to late ’90s. There’s still at least one Touché-related record in almost every DJ set I play.

Apart from being my best friend and genuinely the nicest person I know, Zachte Man is hands down the best musician, designer and human being there is. I hereby challenge you to find someone more awesome. He rarely releases any music (and if he does, it tends to disappear), so good luck finding anything now. But I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the future there will be lots of his stuff to enjoy. How is he important to the music scene? Idk, but he’s very important to me, and therefore my music scene.

bit.ly/jamezmusictube

soundcloud.com/zachteman

Touché by Jamez & Dobré Recommended by A Made Up Sound

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Interview

Idealist Natalie Mering on delicate peninsulas and the human condition

Weyes Blood Phone interview by Zofia Ciechowska Photos shot by Robin Stein in New York, USA

Natalie Mering of Weyes Blood answers the phone on Daylight Savings, straight from a farm in Atlanta, a rooster crowing in the background. The ghosts of Halloween are still lingering in the air after a night spent dressing up as John Lennon, her boyfriend pretending to be Yoko. We spend nearly an hour talking about the world of make believe, daydreaming and how she discovered her artistic calling very early on in life. Natalie is very open about herself, her upbringing by Christian parents with arty friends and admitting that she’s not immune to self-doubt and dystopian visions of the world. She exudes a wonderful curiosity and warmth when describing her love for the ocean and her temporary home in Rockaway where she recorded her Cardamom Times EP on reel-to-reel tape. Her four-song collection embraces the best of 1960s folk without being overly nostalgic for those times. Mering’s voice 16

floats beautifully on top of the organ synth, guitar and flute that she’s so carefully arranged to express sad romance and visions of urban dystopias. Raised to pick up her suitcase and go, Natalie is headed back home to California in the New Year to start recording her new record, which, if the prelude of Cardamom Times is anything to go by, will undeniably be deep and bittersweet. Last time we spoke you were still in New York. Tell me more about your move and how you’re feeling. [A rooster crows over the phone.] I’m temporarily staying at an arts centre in downtown Atlanta called the Goat Farm, and get woken up by roosters! I’m headed for L.A. soon to make my next record. I’m going to work with Chris Cohen, one of the artists on Captured


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Weyes Blood

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Interview Tracks. When I saw him live, I cried. I hadn’t heard anything that good in so long. I’m so excited to be working with him. I left New York without really telling anybody. The opportunity presented itself to go to Georgia and I just left. New York is dying a sad death and that was depressing to me. I was living back in Rockaway Beach, the best place I’d ever lived in New York. But then, I like the South and I’d never lived this deep in it. It’s good for me to change scenes.

were rebuilding the boardwalk that had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and I watched trucks offload these vast amounts of sand on the site. It seemed so unnatural to bring in so much fake land that was going to be eaten away again. You find out about the history of that place and you realise it’s been destroyed a couple of times by storms and a fire. Living there had a feeling of impermanence and transience. You’re on a delicate, tiny peninsula; you can really feel it, especially near the swamps of Jamaica Bay.

Where do you feel at home then? In California, where I was born. That is one place that has stayed the same, despite my parents moving a lot. We moved from California to Pennsylvania in 1999. It was such a strange change. I was a beach kid… actually, maybe that’s why I took to Rockaway so much. When we moved, my parents hated the Jersey Shore, Billy Joel. They clashed with the culture and we didn’t integrate well at first. I think they thought Pennsylvania was more backward than it was. The first few years were really strange. We went to this creepy church in the middle of nowhere. Eventually we had ‘home church,’ which was basically our dad reading the Bible to me and my brother, and we’d both instantly fall asleep. We became allergic to church. We’d get there and just pass the fuck out. A year ago, there was a Bible study at a family gathering and, guess what, my brother and I fell fast asleep. He’s 31 and I’m 27! It’s the same with preachers and televangelists from the Bible Belt. My mother would play those tapes to get us to fall asleep at night. Do you feel like Cardamom Times is in a way related to the places where the EP was made, Rockaway and Greenpoint? I don’t really think so. I mean, of course there will be environmental factors, Rockaway being the most influential. In the winter it was desolate, I took some freezing cold walks on the beach. I remember in the spring they

“I wanted to be an actress, a comedian, a marine biologist – I love the ocean, I love feminism”

You know how when you’re little, you’re told you can be whatever you want to be? What does that feel like when you decide to be an artist? I wrote my first song when I was about four while riding my tiny bike around the kitchen island, round and round in circles. My mother wrote songs so I decided I could too. As I got older, Kurt Cobain was my idol. We weren’t allowed to watch MTV, but we’d turn it on when my parents were out. I had Nirvana Unplugged on cassette tape and thought it was really crazy. My parents were Christian but they were Born Again so they had arty friends. One of them was a couple who lived on the Lower East Side back in the ’60s and the woman, Diana, was obsessed with Tim Buckley. Apparently, one day she was drawing a picture of Tim Buckley and Andy Warhol walked past, took the picture, signed it and said it was a Warhol. I learned that when I was an adult. But when I was a kid I remember them having a Sex Pistols poster and being very excited and shocked. Back then I dyed my hair with food colouring, dressed up my guitar and took 19


Weyes Blood polaroids of it. Those may have been my first ventures into conceptual art. Have you ever had moments where you thought you should be doing something else? Definitely. I feel like a jack of all trades, master of none. The music thing just turned out to be an obsession so I did that, but I’d heard my calling in other places too. I wanted to be an actress, a comedian, a marine biologist – I love the ocean, I love feminism. I wish I was more intellectual, my family isn’t really; it was never in our house.

“I’m married to music so my greatest satisfaction comes from seeing where and how far I can take my work”

You’ve been to many places and explored many art forms. What brings you satisfaction? These days, it’s finishing recordings because I put myself through such an arduous process of being very particular about how I want things to sound, learning how to use my voice in a different way. I’m married to music so my greatest satisfaction comes from seeing where and how far I can take my work. Aside from that, touching people with my music, having them feel more meaning. I don’t like to get too deep into that territory, though, because I don’t know how I feel about giving myself credit for that.

it will be replenished. There are some people in power who refuse to admit how fragile we are. It’s really obvious and really sad. Same goes for mental illnesses and addiction. Even in these modern times, we don’t understand them. We refuse to associate with the animal kingdom and so, we’re flailing, thinking that we’re better than other creatures. I don’t think we are. There’s a whole culture of TV and movies that feeds into the culture of us believing we’re these perfect archetypes of human beings. You don’t get the full human in them. It makes the imbalance even more destabilising. And that’s when you get these beautiful people staring in the mirror saying, ‘Oh God, I’m disgusting.’ Everyone gets this idea of who they should be, how much they should get done, how they should reply to emails, post pictures… We get caught up in an imaginary race that is really making us like monkeys. What do you do to get more clarity and perspective? Sometimes I notice that I’m taking myself too seriously with an unrealistic set of goals and I have to take a step back and remember that I probably won’t write six perfect songs in one day and by doing that I’ll inevitably disappoint myself. Even though in my mind I should be a super human. I also believe that we as humans need to be touched and loved. We need to socialise, it sends good chemicals through our bodies. Isolating yourself from people, feeling unloved, living your life vicariously through others on the internet, will make you suffer chemically. Be close to nature, understand your connection to a larger system.

And disappointment? I’m disappointed by hubris, in my personal microcosm, but also on a larger scale. Hubris with the planet and our attitude of being able to do whatever we want with it and believing 20

— Weyes Blood’s Cardamom Times is out now on Mexican Summer. She plays at WORM, Rotterdam on 06 December 2015.


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Interview

The Warp composer on Garden of Delete and constructing a world of your own

Oneohtrix Point Never Email interview by Deva Rao Artwork by Max de Waard

Every generation has its vanguard, its cultural frontrunners seemingly fated to bring about waves of paradigm shifts, conceptual advancements and, you know, generally mindblowing tunes. At the forefront of the current crop is Daniel Lopatin, the artist best known as Oneohtrix Point Never, forging ahead into entirely unprecedented musical territory and, arguably more impressively, remaining exceptionally laidback throughout. Imbued with a seemingly boundless frame of reference, he’s equally adept with humorous, off-the-cuff live-tweet sprees as he is dispensing academically rigorous musical and societal analysis. That is to say, his is a truly unique perspective. When rolling out his new full-length, Garden Of Delete, he disseminated the MIDI files making up the album and created both a fictional ‘hyper-grunge’ band and a grotesque, pus-oozing teenage alien companion. This would be indulgent and gratuitous in al22

most anyone else’s hands; not so with Lopatin, whose impeccable musical track record and astounding compositional prowess afford him a justifiable level of credit. We talked about reaping the benefits of subjective interpretation, non-musical influences and opportune sugar daddies. As for the dimension of Lopatin’s music that remains stubbornly beyond articulation, we asked artist Max de Waard to address it in a series of digital illustrations. Feast your eyes. So: Garden Of Delete, a harmonious ecosystem of the discarded? That’s sort of what comes to mind for me; it’s a phrase ripe for subjective interpretation. That’s true. Also [the notion that] one’s negative thoughts don’t have to be thought of as waste, that positive things can flow from negative environments. But I like the phrase


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Oneohtrix Point Never as it mostly strikes me as a paradox, or some kind of immanent space that you couldn’t really describe easily.

to him go through puberty ad nauseam until their bodies just can’t handle it any more and die. So he kinda just hit the road, you know, to save me. But he’s still on the internet trollOn the other hand, the song “I Bite Through It” ing me all the time so it’s kind of confusing. has a chunkiness to it. For whatever reason, the track really lives up to its title. Why the As long as it doesn’t get in the way of commastication fixation? missions and residency offers, you shouldn’t have any problems. Speaking of, what other factors come into play when potential benI just like to look at other people at restauefactors reach out to you? Any tips on getting rants, like all around me and try to picture a sugar parent of my own? the sounds of everything happening in their mouths amplified in concert with one another. It’s just perverse. Fangs and saliva and food I wish I could tell you. I think I just constantly textures. I get a huge kick out of it. People ask myself if I can picture an idea or some dress up nicely to sit around and bite stuff. kind of personal idiosyncratic exploit or challenge coming out of whatever scenario is presented; that keeps me from discarding most of these concepts from the get-go. But if there’s some way where I can figure myself “I love the human voice above all into it on a purely hedonistic level, like I’m going to get pleasure in X, Y and Z ways, then other musical instruments” my curiosity is piqued. Whose hypothetical artistic sponsorship do you most covet? You tend to create these worlds or ecologies around each release, like an overarching discourse, providing something of a context. How big a role do non-musical factors play for you in constructing an album? I don’t know how big a role but I do feel like I might be “doing research” when I make a record and that is definitely a way of pulling in all kinds of extra-musical ideas... However, for me the point of all of this is that there’s no difference between these types of materials; to me they are all the same in some sense. Still Ezra – the fictional Garden Of Delete protagonist – kind of stands out. He sounds like a chill-ass homie. I was sad to hear he bailed. Why’d he go and do that?

In general, I covet singers because I love the human voice above all other musical instruments, but I don’t have anyone specific. When commissioned, do you maintain complete creative control? It’s typically been scenarios where the only parameter set is a theme, the rest is up to me and how I want to work. You’ve spoken before about taking influence from sources other than music – the paranormal, the corporate. I find the latter influence to be particularly interesting in the context of your work. What draws you to the corporate environment?

Yeah, he is. He bailed because he didn’t want For many of us on this shrinking planet, everyday living for many of us means corporate get me sick. He has this unfortunate affliction, which is that Earthlings who get exposed exposure. 24


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Oneohtrix Point Never The tenor of it is enhanced for those that work on a corporate campus every day, for example, but you don’t have to [in order] to feel its absurdity permeating everything. Its symbology, its look and feel, the undercurrent of desire and control that is presented; all of it is totally real and palpable on a daily basis. So being inspired by it is inevitable.

“Authenticity never struck me as the gold standard for anything good”

You also often mention sculpture. I’m a philistine sculpture-wise, can you point me in the right direction? Personally, I love mid-20th century abstract sculpture, stuff like Anthony Caro, Tony Smith, David Smith, Isamu Noguchi, and all the greats like that. But I like more contemporary stuff like Charles Ray and recently I have been interested in Ron Nagel’s stuff, which is very small in scale compared to the stuff I’m mentioning. Nate Boyce, of course, and I like Frank Benson’s sculpture of Juliana Huxtable at the most recent New Museum Trienniale – that was amazing. What I love about abstract sculpture is how it can suggest to us, through form, organisms that we don’t yet understand or can’t recognise as such. What types of impossible creatures might inhabit the space of an abstract sculpture? Beyond that, the forms are inevitably so musical for me, it’s endless inspiration. Returning to music, what inspires you when selecting artists for your label, Software Recordings? What do you look for in a Software artist? Hard to say. It’s kind of an ineffable feeling

I get from an artist where I feel like they’re showing me something really personal through music, that’s important. And just the kind of addictive quotient is important as well. I want to be infatuated. To paraphrase something I heard in the documentary about Pentagram – music is a powerful drug too. You collaborated fairly recently with A.G. Cook. What do you make of the recent nearbacklash over the supposed “insincerity” of PC Music and their tunes? In the age of transparency, it’s desirable to reveal who you “really” are, which is, ultimately, just another performance to me. So authenticity never struck me as the gold standard for anything good. I just like the way Alex writes songs. A lot. I like his chords. And the way his melodic ideas come together. They make the hairs on my arm stand up. He’s exactly who he wants to be, which is as sincere as anything. Right, I find it unfortunate to see a point where the aesthetic interpretation of music’s conceptual basis overpowers its discussion at face value. Do you ever have that sense with your own tunes? “Aesthetic” is an easy way to talk about anything, and allows people to cross-commit to ideas they’re working out. It’s just funny to me. I don’t mind, there’s many readings of many things, but balance is optimal. Do you ever find yourself annoyed by a particular stance on or interpretation of your own work, regardless of how subjective it is? It feeds my ego, and then makes me depressed when I realise that I want it fed, and then I reject it. Repeat.

— Oneohtrix Point Never’s Garden Of Delete is out now on Warp Records. He plays The Rest Is Noise at Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Amsterdam on 23 February 2016.

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Subbacultcha quarterly magazine

Photo essay by Gilleam Trapenberg

Riding in Cars with Torus Since debuting his Torus project back in 2012, The Hague producer and KABK student Joeri Woudstra has always displayed a very particular and precise aesthetic. It’s an aesthetic that has evolved with each release and performance. A desolate landscape of digitally rendered objects – plants, columns, temple gates – accompanied 2013’s Feeels, while 2014’s Temples and the ensuing live visuals revealed a fondness for antiquity by way of sleek digital images of ancient ruins and scattered Greek columns in malls overrun by vegetation. His aesthetic sense has become so intertwined with his music that we decided to catch up with Joeri and dig deep into his obsession with classical sculpture and architecture. Little did we know, he has already moved on. The new visual crush? Cars. Fast cars. We teamed him up with fellow KABK student and photographer, Gilleam Trapenberg, a young master in the genre of staged documentary photography. His work often focuses on subcultures, calling into question the social constructions of status and identity. Under Gilleam’s careful gaze, Joeri tried out some new poses – let’s call it research for the new Torus visuals. Now imagine what the new tracks will sound like. 30


M.E.S.H.

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Photo essay

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Riding in Cars with Torus

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Riding in Cars with Torus

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Jana Hunter

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When attempting to make plans to meet the minds behind Meduse MagiQ, I was kept largely in the dark. An apt introduction to the enigmatic entity that defines itself as a “community for musicians by musicians” and releases records, puts on shows and unearths emerging artists. The one thing we knew for certain was that it was set up by Alexandra Duvekot, front woman of moon-pop foursome Blue Crime, and Rosa Ronsdorf, front woman of dreamgaze quartet Bird on the Wire. We tracked them down to find out more. Text by Roxy Merrell Photos shot by Iris Duvekot in Amsterdam, Netherlands

We meet on a gloomy October morning at Plantage Dok, a collective and creative space in the East of Amsterdam, set up by a dedicated community spanning NGOs, activist organisations, musicians and tattoo artists. Meduse MagiQ is their most recent addition, and there couldn’t be a more serendipitous match. The Dokzaal, a former church hall, is now a blank canvas that can be morphed to evoke divergent ambiances, “ranging from shamanistic weekends to very experimental cello music, from drawing exhibitions to theatre plays. It’s very broad, but the Dok collective does have a vision,” Alexandra tells me. We’re sitting in the homely restaurant of the Dokhuis Gallery when Alexandra explains, “We like to think of ourselves as a community. We are both musicians with backgrounds in the arts. We really wanted to have a curated community, based on our love for experimental music.” Her charismatic gaze, peering from under heavy bangs, immediately draws you in. “We decided to set up a space that will function as a record label, a venue, a sound studio and a radio station, all dedicated to that love.” In the hazy morning light, a faint glimmer reveals a silhouette of what Meduse MagiQ wants to become. “We are very specific about the things we book. It’s all about an atmosphere, an experience of music.” I dig for descriptions to get a grasp of “the experimental,” but Alexan40


Meduse MagiQ dra and Rosa cunningly elude my pinpointing. They seem wary of the limitations that being pinned down brings. This is difficult to rhyme with their desire to curate and organise. Are they contradicting themselves? Alexandra insists, “We do have a genre, a direction. Our bands Blue Crime and Bird on the Wire have a specific sound that fits, too.” Rosa sits calmly and quietly, without being withdrawn. She interjects: “Atmosphere is key to what we do. We envision our events as experiences you can step into.” Their events are masterfully coordinated occurrences, dedicated to evoking the atmosphere of their choosing. Meduse MagiQ dedicated one such night to the moon in late 2014. For MAAN, the Dokzaal was spun into a shrine, featuring artists willing to indulge in the sound of the moon, such as “charming astronaut” Molly Nilsson “music for sleeping stars” Bed, and art by “spaceman of the unforeseen dream landscape” Amos Mulder. International acts and artists, matched with costumes, installations and research, resulted in an undoubtedly atmospheric experience. The point is exactly this: what they do is distinct and recognisable, but sometimes there is no simple way to articulate or verbalise something so versatile. They require props, projections and a willing group of explorers to investigate with them. Their niche is exactly what they say it is – the experimental. “We really found each other in these views,” Rosa reveals when we speak of Meduse MagiQ’s genesis. “We met by playing similar shows, in De Nieuwe Anita and such, five years ago.” “Always friendly but operating in our own range,” Alexandra refines. It wasn’t until after their artistic paths took them both to New York, separately, that the two found each other, that they connected. “I lived in New York for a while,” Alexandra explains, “where I was alone most of the time. The solitude gave me the space to think about how I experience music. I was feeling uncomfortable with the commercial approach to making music, and realised I needed to connect – not professionally, but intimately – to continue making the music I wanted to make.” “It was years later, after I returned from New York,” Rosa chimes in, “that I reached out to Alexandra 41


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“We live in a time in which people that live across the ocean don’t feel far away. So we want to create a kind of web.”

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and we found ourselves sharing the exact same feeling. A sort of epiphany – music should be about that connection all of the time. That’s why we wanted to set up this community, which does exactly that.” Connection is at the core of everything they do. Chemistry and mutual understanding make the groundwork for their collaborations. “It is about connection, friends, making things happen,” Alexandra explains. Meduse MagiQ is expert at channelling the energy different people bring forward, to get things done, together. In that way, they have placed themselves at the axis of a web of creators. Take for example Blue Crime’s album cover, which was shot by Alexandra’s photographer sister, Iris Duvekot, or the one for Bird on the Wire’s recent record, painted by Jacco Olivier after the band played at his exhibition. FANGOVER, made up of cinematographer Fan Liao and director Gover Meit, directed Blue Crime’s video for “The Whore,” and even landed the band with an interview published in Chinese. Then there’s their date with The Space Lady, which they put on with Red Light Radio — it was sparked during a chat Rosa had with Susan Dietrich herself after a show. 43


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Meduse MagiQ But this is not happenstance, it is a philosophy; one that pursues connection and cultivates personal exploration. And although it sounds ethereal, it is all very human. “I make music because I love making music, but I also love to connect to an audience,” Alexandra speaks of her ten years of experience. “To do that, you have to give them part of yourself. I think Meduse MagiQ works like that too – we’re trying to give.” They want to create a stage for the artists they believe in and build bridges between the “islands of communities” operating throughout the country. They began locally, at Amsterdam squats Vrankrijk and OCCII, while dreaming of broadening their scope internationally. Alexandra has recently been on an Eastern European tour and Rosa has just returned from a trip to America’s West Coast. “We meet these kind of people everywhere we go,” Rosa marvels. “We live in a time in which people that live across the ocean don’t feel far away. So we want to create a kind of web. You want to be able to go places where people like your music, but you also want to bring something new to Amsterdam – a fairly small place.” Alexandra encouragingly observes, “Things are really starting to change here, now. I have hope for our small city.” Upstairs lies their headquarters, in the depths of its transformation. The small space aspires to be a manifestation of all their explorations. It is destined, according to Rosa, to be just as multidimensional as Meduse MagiQ. “A music studio, radio station, cosy hang out, and tiny shop with mini exhibitions” – essentially, a home base for their curiosities. On 26 November, the duo will hold their headquarters’ grand opening, MQ EXORDE*, in what I now understand is the quintessential Meduse MagiQ style. “We’ll be debuting projects that have never seen the light of day,” Alexandra beams. “From artists such as Slumberland & Sven Torfs, from Belgium, who I’ve toured with a lot, Meduse MagiQ’s newest project Raaf & Rover and shaman folk by Right on Mountain.” As my morning with Alexandra and Rosa draws to a close, I realise that in seeking to reveal what they do, I have largely discovered who they are. They are intuitive and spontaneous, both on their own and in their collaborations with other artists. They are anchored by a clear point of focus, whilst still being free to explore beyond that. It is a mindset truly fitting those interested in the experimental. The fact of the matter is that if you want to know more, there’s only one thing for it. Attend an event and immerse yourself in the depths of Meduse MagiQ, and be ready to discover the intricate mysteries that await you. * This feature was written and published prior to the MQ EXORDE event. — Meduse MagiQ would like to say “Merci to Cyriel Cremers from Studio13 for his generosity and Panda de Haan for being an excellent hustler.” Bird on the Wire’s Elephanta is out on Meduse MagiQ on 22 January 2016.

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Featured artist

We dive into the history of colour with recent Rietveld Academy graduate

Miquel Hervás Gómez Text by Floor Kortman

Graphic designer Miquel Hervás Gómez graduated this summer from the Rietveld Academy with a big stack of A0 prints featuring a grid filled with a bunch of seemingly random, colourful images. We didn’t quite understand what was happening, but we were intrigued. We asked him to participate in this year’s edition of The Wrapping Paper Project – an art publication that doubles as wrapping paper featuring designs made by several artists. He delivered a most unconventional design that also needs some further explaining, so we took the bait and decided to investigate. For the past year, Miquel has dedicated his work to colour. He is fascinated by the perception and digital processing of colour. Within printing and photography, there is a complex and problematic history of colour perception. The standards for this were at one point set by Kodak, leading developer of photographic film in the late 20th century. One of the controversial items Kodak developed during that time were the Shirley cards, 46

used by photo labs to calibrate skin tones, shadows and light during the printing process. Shirley cards were always photographs of fancy white ladies, accompanied by the word ‘Normal’. That word was meant to imply the standard that each printing company should adhere to, but clearly, setting a white, fancy lady as the standard is problematic to say the least. The odd idea that we should all perceive colour the same way, or that there would be a ‘correct’ way to represent colour, was the starting point of the vast archive Miquel built during his investigative visual research. For this occasion, he revisits and re-appropriates images from said archive, together with his wrapping paper design, to show the many possible variations on the theme. What initially seemed a set of random objects is now revealed to be a deliberate collection, and his modern-day Shirley, a thoughtful comment on the perception of colour. — miquelhervas.com


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Future Vintage host and RLR stalwart Radna Rumping tells the story of five years of Red Light Radio through five of its resident DJs Text by Radna Rumping Photos shot by Wessel Baarda in Amsterdam, Netherlands

“I don’t want to be filmed, because the only thing that was important, and still is important, is being a voice on the radio, a face in the crowd, a figment of the imagination.” This quote, by the Electrifying Mojo, a legendary radio host who introduced Detroit to the sounds of Kraftwerk in the early ’80s, always embodied the spirit of making radio for me. Although radio broadcasting is less anonymous these days, and you’re more likely to find underground music online than through FM channels, it feels like that spirit hasn’t changed much. In Amsterdam, Red Light Radio became the meeting point for many contemporary electrifying mojos. I’m just one of them. Presenting the weekly Future Vintage show together with Reinier Klok, I started at the launch of the station in December 2010, when founders Orpheu de Jong and Hugo van Heijningen still thought Red Light Radio would be a temporary endeavour. Hosting Future Vintage has become a wonderful routine. My Tuesday night always starts with a simple dinner at a Chinese restaurant, a stroll through the narrow, red-lit alleys towards the studio and the sound of the church bell ringing at 8pm, a jingle indicating the start of the broadcast. It’s the music that’s always different – depending on mood swings, our musical taste and the changing seasons. Although local radio is still the foundation of Red Light Radio, the station has broken new ground in recent years. The current community is much larger and more international than the original crew of friends who believed in the project. Requests from people to join Red Light Radio are increasing. Since there’s no standard procedure for involving new residents, the programme evolves quite organically. “We listen to what people send us and invite someone for a show based on our gut feeling and whether it adds something to the shows we already have,” Hugo and Orpheu explain. It’s an approach that has resulted in a diverse community of engaged radio personalities, some of whom visit the studio during the day, others in the evening; some on a weekly basis, others monthly; some since 2010, others only recently. At different times, in different ways, they each shape the sound of Red Light Radio in their own way. With that in mind, I turned to five fellow residents to talk about their love of radio, their individual shows and the intimate rituals and routines that set the tone for every broadcast. 56


RedInterview Light Radio

Right on Mountain When best friends Jevin de Groot and Dennis Duijnhouwer prepare their bi-weekly show, they bring in music and everything else they’re into at that moment – “be it ’70s Californian cults, internet conspiracy theories, revolutionary writings, black power or weird pop culture stuff.” Their first show in 2012 was all about Charles Manson: “It was the only show where we did some talking ourselves, but we decided that wasn’t for us, it felt cheesy as hell. Now we just jam out.” After a series of epic, themed three-hour shows called Wasted Years of Pumping Iron, the follow-up, Right on Mountain, feels “a little looser,” playing with contrasts like light and dark, hectic and calm, loud and quiet. They know they’re on track when “somehow something beautiful rises up from the chaos, and you can’t tell where one track ends and another begins. It says something about how universal music is and the patterns it follows.” The duo usually feels pretty confident behind the window: “People definitely find it surprising to see two hairy guys there rockin’ out. Sometimes we take our shirts off for extra confusion, and yeah, we wave a lot, and sometimes people wave back.” Signature song: A lot of Grateful Dead. Studio drink: It used to be beer; now just water.

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Rege Satanas Latin for ‘Hail Satan’, Rege Satanas was one of the first weekly shows to air on the station and it is still going strong. Its host, Joris ‘Reggie’ Dirven, imagines his show as “making a mixtape online.” Growing up listening to VPRO’s Ronflonflon, VARA’s Vuurwerk, Villa65 and his parents’ record collection, his musical knowledge ranges from reggae to black metal. Each Rege Satanas show has a theme, often influenced by a fascination for the obscure as well as his massive collection of film music. Ideas for the show pop up during the weekend, resulting in a carefully crafted selection that fits into an hour: “Because I think it’s important to play the songs completely, I always measure their duration in advance, so I don’t have to switch off the final track,” he says. Reggie has witnessed the empty walls of the studio evolving into a collage of countless stickers, flyers and pictures. “It looks cool. The only thing I miss is the drawing my daughter made on the wall here four years ago.” The best feedback he’s ever received from one of his listeners? “A bottle of homemade ‘tsipouro’ from Greece that was delivered to the studio.” Signature song: Black Widow – “Come To The Sabbath”. Studio drink: Beer, beer and beer (accompanied by five joints).

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Anus Records Radio “Going to Amsterdam and Red Light Radio every month reminds me of school trips from back in the day, a feeling of excitement mixed with a holiday vibe,” says Panda Lassow, owner of Rotterdam’s Anus Records. She enjoys the “not-too-chic” atmosphere of the station: “Lots of people tell me the Red Light District location matches perfectly with the name of our show,” she laughs. The week before her broadcast, she spends nearly every evening looking for vinyl to play, picking out sounds that can be classified as world, beats and bass. “I love so much more stuff than what I am able to showcase when DJ-ing in clubs, but radio offers me the chance to play those tunes.” She also likes to invite guests to the studio for interviews and short sets during her air time. When thinking about her influences, she mentions Mary Anne Hobbs and Gilles Peterson (BBC) and André Langenfeld from Radio Fritz in Berlin. “His show used to be five hours long on Saturday evening and was always full of new and diverse sounds. Those radio shows made me not only listen to music, but feel it.” Signature song: Karima - “No Compromise”, Flako - “Lyrebird” and lots of Four Tet. Studio drink: Water, beer and definitely cider afterwards.

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Subbacultcha Radio Carly Blair remembers listening to Power 92 in Phoenix, Arizona, where she was “regularly calling in requests for some cheesy R&B song or another, and then sitting there for hours with a blank cassette, ready to hit the ‘record’ button.” Though she already had some radio experience, when she arrived at Red Light Radio to host her first Subbacultcha Radio show back in February of 2012, she was still “terrified.” These days she’s often dancing around and singing along, while her voice is beloved by fans. “I’ve gotten some really nice feedback over the years, but I think the one that amused me the most is when someone told me they hated the music I play but they liked my voice so much that they always listened anyway.” Her preparation usually takes place on Sunday night, “chain-smoking on the couch, 500 tabs open, staying up three hours later than initially planned because I somehow always forget how much amazing music is out there.” She has a love-hate relationship with her visibility behind the window: “having tourists gape at me like I’m the most musically-oriented prostitute they’ve ever seen isn’t my favourite part of the experience. On the other hand, seeing our neighbours – scantily clad, high-heeled Dominican ladies of the night – running after a dude with a water bottle never ceases to amuse me.” Signature song: Anything by Mac DeMarco. Studio drink: Tea.

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Perfect Portfolio International When Daniel Da Costa had to DJ at a Models at Work party some years ago, he wanted to sound like he was representing the sleaziest modelling agency worldwide, hence the birth of Perfect Portfolio International. That turned into a monthly show on Red Light Radio, where he channels icy cool experimentation and cranial vibration, or in his own words: “a frantic and pedantic mix of everything I consume”. He still considers his first show in July 2013 as one of his best – “because I thought it would be the only time so I played my ultimate favourites!” These days, Daniel reckons the studio is his favourite hang-out in Amsterdam. “It has a huge impact on the city,” he jokes. “The tourists come for the radio station and stay for the prostitutes.” Though it’s all about fun times, the show works best when he’s focused: “It’s serious business. I think #8 is still my favourite one because it’s varied in age and style, and quite well mixed. That was also the only time no one came over so maybe I should take note.” Signature song: A threesome between “Bamboo Houses” by David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto, “Pyramid Bricks” by Regal Degal, and “To Lord Eminence” by Jonas Reinhardt. Studio drink: Lukewarm beer.

— Red Light Radio celebrated five years on 27 November 2015 at Studio 80, Amsterdam. Tune in to their daily broadcasts at redlightradio.net.

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Interview

The singular artist on control, artistic expression and leading by example

Empress Of Skype interview by Callum McLean Photos shot by Julia Moebus in Cologne, Germany

As Empress Of, Lorely Rodriguez can be the boss of anything. Whether it’s the production of her album, her sense of self in an unjust world or just her morning coffee, she is in complete control. As Lorely, she’s a little late for our interview – “I… didn’t know what time it was…” – but I can’t hold it against her. She’s touring Europe for the first time, with no tour manager and a band that, apparently, “won’t listen to stuff on their headphones.” Lorely is frantic, enthusiastic, and all wrapped up in the present moment. It’s bewildering. But as we jump from global inequality to the importance of painting glitter all over your nails, a candid self emerges and each utterance could just as well be a mini-philosophy as a harmless comment. Empress Of is her invincible stage persona, a note to self and “pep me up” devised to overcome any jitters. It is as carefully and purposefully crafted as each and every one of her previous achievements. Following her breakthrough project Colorminutes in 2012 and bilingual EP Systems the year after, she wrote her debut album Me in isolation in Mexico,

which she then, save for two live drum samples, recorded and produced all by herself. But Lorely does not want to pull a veil over your eyes. She is the first to talk about how trying this process is and the tremendous amount of work that goes into being an artist or, for that matter, finding a ratchet nail salon. You’re on a pretty major European tour right now. What are the biggest practical obstacles, day-to-day? Sometimes it’s hard to find the things that you want to do every day in the city. If you wanna go and get a really good cup of coffee, sometimes it’s hard to find when you’re in, you know, Warsaw. Or say you wanna find deodorant or a razor… What, you don’t have people that get all that for you? Oh, can you imagine? I could be, like, “I REALLY NEED A CAPPUCCINO! IF I DON’T GET A FUCKING CAPPUCCINO RIGHT NOW I’M GONNA THROW MYSELF AT YOU!” Nah, that’s mean. 65


Interview What about when you were recording Me in Mexico? What did you find the toughest challenge to be? The first challenge I encountered when I was there was just not being in New York – the constant chaos, people, noise, shit to do every second. As soon as I got to Mexico it was like the wheels stopped. It was constant anxiety from having nothing to do – except make a record. I was pacing a lot… The first five days were awful. Then it was just learning how to be by yourself and be comfortable with that.

“Everything I do is a craft. That’s the upbringing that I have”

Did it work? Did you find that your thoughts were clearer? I found that when I turned the mic on, a lot of what I said was much more direct. Have you ever been hypnotised? I was once and I got so in a daze that my subconscious was talking. Someone would ask me a question and this person in me would just spit something out. It was, like, “Woah, I didn’t even say that!” So writing without distractions was like that, it just came out. To me it was a little shocking but also really comforting. You have a background both as a singer and in production and sound engineering. Does songwriting ever feel more like a craft than an art? Everything I do is a craft. That’s the upbringing that I have. I always study everything. Before, with my EPs, my music was more about the vibe, fun, texture, mysticism and all this bullshit. But when I started to take songwrit66

ing seriously for this record I was really taking songs apart, studying them. I was listening to tons of Sia and Sade, Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell. Learning their songs and reading their lyrics and playing with that. So if you’re working from detail outwards, how do you know when you’ve found “THE SONG” – the complete work? I feel like a song is a song when it’s its own thing. As if I didn’t even make it. If I can think of it as the product of someone else, it’s a song. It’s cool being, like, “Woah – I made this!”, but you have to remove yourself from it until it could be anyone listening, anyone relating to it. That, or if I can listen to it all the way through and not make little throw-up movements because I need to fix something. How important is it that you remain in control of every aspect of the production? It’s really important for me to be happy with everything, and not do something because it’s cool or someone else will like it. I’ve tried working with other people and it always ends up sounding like someone’s interfered. It’s hard to defend those things when they’re not your ideas. Everything that’s on the record I put it there, and I put it there for a reason. What I’m kind of getting at is something that you seem to be asked a lot – and which I feel stupid asking in 2015. I mean, you don’t hear male producers getting congratulated for doing their own production... Exactly: you didn’t ask me but you did ask me! I overheard a meeting where a rapper was shown my album and he was, like, “Oh shit, she produced this herself!” It’s true, you never hear the millions of male producersinger-songwriters asked: “Excuse me, did you produce this all by yourself? Sir, I know you’re singing on it, I know your name’s on it, but did you really write this yourself? It seems to me impossible that you did!”


Empress Of

“It’s true, you never hear the millions of male producer-singersongwriters being asked: ‘Excuse me, did you produce this all by yourself? Sir, I know you’re singing on it, I know your name’s on it, but did you really write this yourself? It seems to me impossible that you did!’”

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Empress Of It’s totally ridiculous. Do you feel you need to take a stand on this? I think it’s cool to lead by example. I always quote Kendrick Lamar from “Alright”: “Don’t talk about it, be about it.” I make my own music because I want it to sound a certain way, which I’m sure is why all artists – male or female – make their own music. That’s all it should be about. A lot of your lyrics do allude to sexism. This is not something you shy away from… Sure, but that’s being a woman on the street, in a relationship, being objectified. It can all be related but that’s also just something that happens. In your lyrics, you have a way of merging these wider issues, whether privilege or poverty, with your own experiences. Yeah, it’s weird because I’m trying to tell a story… Maybe it’s the same as the way I talk! I don’t know if you’ve noticed during this conversation but I will tell you exactly what I’m doing right now and then I’ll just come back around to what you want me to answer. That’s what my songwriting is. In a story like “Water, Water”, I’m in a house in Mexico and I’m thirsty because I forgot to buy water from the village. It starts with that but then I’m painting a picture, I’m here because I’m trying to get rid of other memories that are bothering me. A lot of my songs start off with things I’m doing literally at that moment – if I was going to write a song right now it would be, like, “I’m on the phone with Callum. We’re always talking about me, never about him.” Then I would be, like, “I don’t know who he is,” then, “I don’t know who anyone is, because I don’t have any friends because I’m so alone.” And that’s what the song would be about.

ally piss me off. Like for “Kitty Kat”, I was just walking from A to B when someone said something really gross to me. When I got home I was compelled to just put it out. Or like “Standard” – that song came from walking back from a village and seeing a family that was super poor selling firewood on the side of the road for cents just so they can eat. Then I went to this really nice house where I was recording the record and had to deal with that difference. So the lyric is: “I’ve been living below the standard with a hunger that feeds the fire.” How do you reconcile those two realities at the end of the day? Well, that’s when you write the song. For me, I do it so that I can relate to it. I’m talking about something that upsets me. I can relate to it because I live in New York and it costs so fucking much to live there – I had to have four jobs to live in a shitty apartment. I can’t necessarily relate to this family on their level, but I can relate in some way. It’s like connecting dots. On a complete side note: you said a few years ago you wanted to follow up your Colorminutes project by releasing more weird short songs and disseminating them in weird places online. Did that ever happen? Yeah, I did that and nobody found them so I just took them down. They were weird. I liked the idea that there was a big portion of your back catalogue in some dark corner of Reddit. Yup, it happened and no one noticed! The internet is too big.

Where do your politics come in? Something needs to have happened to re68

— Empress Of’s Me is out now on Terrible Records/XL Recordings.


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19:00 — 03:00 12 december OT301, AMSTERDAM

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Point of view

You as All and Nothing by Deva Rao As a deeply erudite, cultured human of meticulously maintained contemporary relevance, you can imagine the overwhelming delight that took hold of my feeble corporeal form upon reading of the release of C-ORE, a collection of songs by the Mykki Blanco-helmed collective Dogfood Music Group. It delivered exactly what I’d hoped for – the unbridled filth, belligerence and volatility we’ve come to expect of Blanco and, by extension, of his hand-picked and aptly monikered cronies Psychoegyptian and Violence. But what struck me most amid the general sonic antagonism of the compilation was a track, “Childish,” by one Yves Tumor. A cavernous, melancholy production, its blend of otherworldly vocal samples, submerged pads and trappy percussion eschewed the densely arranged aggression of the rest of the compilation for a different brand of tumult, more rooted, to my ears, in internal strife than in the overt protest of cultural marginalisation described by Blanco in the leadup to the release. I was intrigued. Where the others seethed and thrashed in search of catharsis, “Childish” gazed inward, a striking shift in tone contrasting not only his crew’s tracks but his other contributions to the collection, which take the form(lessness) of three writhing blasts of raw noise. Subsequent Soundcloud and YouTube trawling revealed Tumor to be the mastermind behind a slew of equally compelling projects, some of which I’d been familiar with for years. It emerged that he’d contributed to (what I’d long considered to be exclusively) James Ferraro’s Bodyguard project, whose 2012 Silica Gel mixtape represented a sonic monument to XTREME deodorants, energy drink-based identity formation and ultra commodified #masculinity via a blown-out, warped take on radio rap aesthetics. Beyond that, he’s affiliated with Bekelé

Berhanu, whose gnarled, punishing Untitled piece marked the third release by Berlin’s Janus imprint, he’s put out a collaborative tape with LR Bedman as Silkbless and he’s DJed alongside London’s rising Endless collective under the alias Shanti. Wiping the Pringle crumbs from my pyjamas, I contemplated all this with rising resentment. I’d concluded he couldn’t possibly be any more prolific – until it occurred to me that the real name of the man in question, Sean Bowie, sounded suspiciously identical to that of a producer called Teams, whose woozy and unfortunately timed releases landed him squarely in the confines of the then-buzzing chillwave [*shudder*] pseudo-scene. It’s difficult, more than it should be, to process the idea that the man behind a particularly upbeat collaborative EP with once ubiquitous remix/edit purveyor Star Slinger was capable of the disconcert and misanthropy embodied by Yves Tumor. Turns out this particular human has more than one facet to speak of. More than that, the bevy of aliases obscuring the core of Bowie’s being speaks to the idea of an artist refraining from loudly proclaimed artistic reinvention in favour of something refreshingly less egotistic: self-effacement. It’s a rare virtue in an artistic climate often prizing self-expression above appreciation of music in and of itself, unencumbered by extraneous notions of individual identity that, more often than not, serve to frame (and perhaps cloud) our judgement and perception of art. Yves Tumor has an album of his own – When Man Fails You – out now. Go listen to it on its own terms.

— C-ORE is out now on Dogfood Music Group.

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Point of view

Growing Pains by Sophia Seawell I first heard Braids during my first year of university, in the fall of 2010, when I received Native Speaker in the mail from my best friend in Portland. I would lie on my twin-size bed listening to it, stoned and half-asleep with the sun filtering through my window. I think in time I will hear the group’s latest album, Deep in the Iris, with as sentimental a heart as I now hear Native Speaker. Released in late April, I listened to it as the summer following my first heartbreak began and found myself crying in my kitchen to songs like “Taste” (“Will you guide me through this phase/Of not really knowing where I am”). But overall, the album didn’t resonate with me. The sounds in Native Speaker were both comforting and contradicting; it provided me with a new and somewhat magical musical experience. Deep in the Iris felt like it was coming from an authentic but less imaginative place. I didn’t feel transported – I was in my kitchen. “Miniskirt”, I would skip entirely. My ears would pick up on phrases like “my little mini skirt”, “you think you’ve the right to touch me”, “because I asked for it, didn’t I?” and assumed I was hearing a song about cat-calling, slut-shaming, and the like – subjects that I feel stay near the surface both of the complexity of women’s experiences and of feminism as an emancipatory politics. I remember telling a friend, “It’s your typical coming-outas-a-feminist song.” A nice gesture, but of little substance. Still, I was always planning to be at their May show in Amsterdam. And it was with that live performance that I regretted my jaded intellectual dismissal of “Miniskirt”. Raphaelle Standell-Preston fiercely delivered lyrics that it turns out are not just about being cat-called but also about an abusive relationship that her mother was in, and being dislocated as a result – that is, about the interconnectedness

between space as gendered, male entitlement, violence and resistance. And every time she came to the chorus I had once used as grounds for trivialisation, I saw something burning in her eyes. The thing is, even if it had “only” been about being slut-shamed for wearing a miniskirt, we tend to hold female performers and artists to unfair standards about their feminism. The same year I heard Native Speaker, five years ago, I started a feminist blog that I am sure would make me cringe if I were to re-read it now. Luckily at the time, I had a small audience and my only critics were anti-feminists, not feminists themselves – those with slightly more celebrity status aren’t afforded the same amount of room for experimentation, growing pains and mistakes when it comes to expressing their views and experiences. If we praise Grimes for championing feminism by producing all her songs herself and writing a hit song that was only later revealed to be about sexual assault (“really? I never would have guessed, cool!”) then we can also applaud Standell-Preston for sharing what she did. “Miniskirt” is no “Oblivion”, but it is no less feminist.

— Braids’s Deep in the Iris is out now on Arbutus Records. They play at OT301, Amsterdam on 03 December 2015.

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Point of view

An Ode to Oddness by Carly Blair In a time when your average schmuck can produce a slick-sounding album with the potential for global distribution via the internet and when much of what was previously considered “hip” or “edgy” has been completely mainstreamed, it takes an increasingly elusive je ne sais quoi to weasel one’s way into the hearts of today’s discerning listeners. This old fart’s as jaded as the next guy, but over the last few years a handful of markedly unhip oddballs have been cranking out a bizarre brand of pop music whose utter lack of slickness and disregard for current musical trends have completely won me over. Juan Wauters, Jimmy Whispers, Sean Nicholas Savage and (of course) Mac DeMarco: how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. First and foremost, of course, is the music itself. From Wauters’ sweet and simple folkrock to Whispers’ manically sincere synth pop to Savage’s eclectic but always silky-smooth lounge pop to DeMarco’s surprisingly tender “jizz jazz” (as he likes to call it), these guys all use straightforward lyrics and minimalist instrumentation to craft catchy and heartfelt ditties that rarely clock in at over three minutes but stick with you for years afterwards. Making enjoyable and distinctive music is obviously critical to being a noteworthy musician, but personality is (for better or worse) the secret ingredient to achieving cult star status, and these guys have it in spades. Their often goofy music videos, interviews and offstage antics are fascinating in their own right, but there is perhaps no more meritorious means of earning a fan’s affection than being able to put on an entertaining live show, and these guys rank among the most memorable Subbacultcha has booked in recent years. For example, at Wauters’ recent show at De Nieuwe Anita, he donned a football jersey and wide-brimmed fisherman’s hat, festooned

the stage with a banner emblazoned with his latest album’s title, Who, Me?, and an image of infamous Howard Stern sidekick Beetlejuice (so very New York), and interspersed his songs with adorably heavily accented and good-natured banter. Whispers, meanwhile, delivered his set with an almost frightening level of enthusiasm, throwing his body around the stage and declaring mid-set that he’d never kissed a girl, only to make out with some random chick on the dancefloor for the rest of the night. Savage’s onstage intensity and command of his band have the ability to render crowds awestruck, while DeMarco’s balcony-climbing, crowdsurfing, and broken guitar string-induced, time-killing cover song curation are the stuff of legend. Without fail, the unpretentious and unguarded nature of these musicians’ personas and the absurd and unpredictable nature of their performances create an atmosphere in which listeners feel comfortable, compelled and free to openly enjoy themselves, which is shockingly rare these days. Whether they actually don’t care what you or anyone else in particular thinks, or whether they simply don’t know how to be anything but their weirdo selves, theirs is the kind of freak flag to which I’ll proudly pledge allegiance.

— Jimmy Whispers plays at WORM, Rotterdam on 15 January 2016 and in Amsterdam on 16 January 2016.

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Point of view

Stay Classy by Koen van Bommel The most powerful, soul-shattering piece of music currently in existence is, if you ask me, the third symphony by Henryk Górecki. It’s called Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, and that’s exactly what it is. It was written in 1976 and dedicated to Górecki’s wife. If you haven’t heard it, I urge you to look it up. It’s on YouTube somewhere. There are a couple of versions, by different orchestras, with different sopranos, but I think the best version is by the Polish National Radio Orchestra. Górecki himself was Polish, so having a Polish orchestra play this makes sense. You should listen to this music at night, preferably late at night, when everything is quiet and tranquil. It helps if you have good equipment (laptop speakers won’t do) and I’d recommend smoking some weed, or if you’re not into that, a couple of glasses of wine. Also, close your eyes. The first movement is called “Lento – Sostenuto tranquillo ma cantabile.” This means sustained, tranquil and song-like. There are cellos and violins and it runs for roughly 27 minutes, which is the same as the combined duration of the second and third movements. It starts off really quiet and low and gradually becomes louder and higher in pitch until it fades away again, ending in a single note, at which point the soprano, Zofia Kilanowicz, starts singing the 15th-century Polish Lamentation of the Holy Cross Monastery. It’s about the Mother of Christ begging her son to speak to her. The translated lyrics are printed in the liner notes: “My son, chosen and loved,/ Let your mother share your wounds/ And since, my dear son,/ I have always kept you in my heart,/ And loyally served you,/ Speak to your mother,/ Make her happy,/ Though, my dear hope,/ You are now leaving me.”

Tension starts building up, and is released again, and by this point you should be floating somewhere between intense pain and love. The first movement ends the way it started, but this time in reverse, going from loud and high-pitched to low and barely audible. The second movement, “Lento e largo – Tranquillisimo,” starts hopeful, and really pretty, but also kind of sad. The lyrics are taken from a prayer scratched on the wall of a Gestapo cell by an 18-year-old Polish girl, seeking the protection of the Queen of Heaven. Zofia hits some really high notes that will resonate in your soul and may cause shivers and sad feelings. The second movement ends with a prolonged single note. The third movement, “Lento – Cantabile semplice,” starts with cellos again. The same two chords are played over and over, a piano plays a single note every so often, and another note after some time. This part also has lyrics, they’re about a mother who mourns for her son, whose body she’s seeking. It’s sung in Polish. It’s longer than the other part. I’ll type a fragment here: “He lies in the grave,/ I know not where,/ Though I ask people/ Everywhere./ Perhaps the poor boy/ Lies in a rough trench/ Instead of lying, as he might,/ In a warm bed.” At the end of the piece, it has moved from sad to hopeful and back to sad. You will feel quiet inside your soul. When the sound has died out, open your eyes, finish your wine and stare at the wall in front of you for as long as you want.

— Listen to Symphony of Sorrowful Songs on youtube.com/watch?v=-mEWlGLkjIw.

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