NO.5 Abshalom Lahav Nick Zinner Sun K. Kwak Joshua Callaghan Patric Sandri Rita Botelho Rafa Castells
Asobi Seksu Richard Skelton Nosaj Thing The xx Foolâ€™s Gold Henrik Vibskov Christian Joy
TITLE NO.5 | Dec/Jan 2010
TITLE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF CREATIVE DIRECTOR Catherine Bui ASSOCIATE EDITOR Christopher Nguyen WRITERS Jeanne Le Krystal Miranda Callie Rice Garrett Yim Michelle Nguyen Alex Rajabi Scott D. Mackie
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kari Elam Mukta Mohan Misael Galdรกmez Jack Dolan Emily Hsiao Stephanie Hernandez Alex Regla Daniel Jones CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Autumn Richardson Marianne Williams Mikey Tnasuttimonkol Misha de Ridder Owen Richards Robert Nardi Thomas Lavelle Youngha Cho Zake Kim
www.titlemagazine.net firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org P.O. Box 27434 Anaheim, CA, 92809-7434
NO.5 December/January ART/DESIGN 7
Rafa Castells His English may be bad but his photography is very good.
11 Patric Sandri Mixed media with a humor only America could enjoy. 15 Rita Botelho Botelho gives objects a “second chance” and “moment of fame.” 21 Hideyuki Katsumata Katsumata is as complex as his art. 27 Joshua Callaghan The man who turns utility boxes invisible. 31 Nick Zinner Yeah yeah yeah, Nick’s a guitarist. But he’s a photographer too! 37 Abshalom Jac Lahav An art that deals with relatable layers of identity, this conceptual artist is surely becoming an icon himself. 45 Sun K. Kwak With her unconventional use of masking tape as an artistic medium, artist Sun K. Kwak’s sculpture drawings fascinate viewers. 50 Gallery A focus on Graphic Design.
MUSIC 61 Asobi Seksu Asobi Seksu gets cheeky. 63 Wax Tailor Jean-Christophe delivers yet another wide-range album of high appraises. 65 Richard Skelton In the Hanged Air 71 Nosaj Thing At age 24, this young Angeleno has released a full length, been aired on numerous radio stations, and reached goals many people can only dream of.
Christian Joy Halloween in West Hollywood and Broadway’s bravest costumes are child’s play compared to the costume creations of Christiane Joy.
Henrik Vibskov This clothing designer from Jutland has no borders.
103 CorrellCorrell Hailing from Germany and now residing in New York, the Corrells use their childhood knitting skills to create distinctive fabrications. 106 Index
75 The xx Lead vocalist Oliver Sim lets the hype sink in as the band begin their world tour. 79 Fool’s Gold This Afro-Pop band hailing from San Frandisco by way of L.A. talked with us about their unique sound, organic creative process, and array of diverse influences that form the sonic farmer’s market. 82 Title’s ‘09 Favorites Here at Title, we named our top 2009 albums. Take a look and see if you agree with us. 88 Album Reviews
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RAFA CASTELLS by Callie Rice
Describing himself as foreign, Rafa Castells is anything but that in regards to photography. With images sprawled across Flickr, entitled “beers.london2009” or “la luz de octubre en Alba” – where pictures are worth a thousand words, are a handful of unanticipated quotes that lie beneath them. The aforementioned “Alba” is often the centerpiece for Castells’ work. “Alba is the girl who makes me feel like waking up every day,” Castells explains. The bun-clad beauty is scattered through over a dozen of the photographs; wide-eyed and regularly blankly staring into the lens. His goal is not to “pretend,” says Castells, but to express “only what you can feel in it. “I don’t act transcendental,” however, when sifting through the images, one very easily gathers that the black and white still life, the blur of “su gato,” and the transfer of light all incorporate a certainly organic incandescent feel to them. Between the parallels of bilingual explanations and half-naked images, Castells expresses his undying desire to travel to New York City – ironically juxtaposed to his statement of “Every day I discover new things. Everything goes too fast,” as with his unguarded fear of being lonely. A “New York Minute” perhaps, may indeed be exactly what he is after. “The most important thing about photography is having a split second materialized, it fascinates me.” Though his yearning for the Big Apple maintains itself, Castells’ favorite place in the world is Alba’s bed. The artist just recently moved his own sack to London. He does so after beginning the photography track roughly three years ago, and joining the Flickr community in July of ’08. “First I studied for one year in the darkroom process and after general photography in GrisArt, Barcelona. I was the assistant of Txema Salvans.” Training that has steered him away from the Photoshop trend and into the basic art of photography. “I do not usually edit my photos; I manipulate the picture when I take it. Usually I use 35mm cameras. Olympus Om1 is my favorite.” “I’ll be your mirror” are his favorite words which clearly trace his work. Castells is “serious” about photography, “It is not just a hobby.” As serious as he may be, there is a definite sense of humor drifting through his illustration and electrifying conversation. During the interview, Castells jokes about his own untaught English and sights “English Coffee” as his greatest pet peeve. Castells continues on about the “last cover of Wilco” being “funny” and how art can “CHANGE more for society than Obama.” When asked to associate the phrase “still life” with another, he replies “just walking.” Intimacy? “Cat power,” and momentum? “Books.” This same wit and jesting accompany many of Castells’ photographs leaving the audience entertained, detail focused, and speaking Spanglish.
PATRIC SANDRI by Krystal Miranda
When it comes to creating a piece, Patric Sandri isn’t one to look past the little things. With each new glance, it’s certain that the viewer will notice a new element that was not seen at first glimpse. His eye for detail and taste for subtlety makes Sandri stand out as an artist that most certainly has a knack for creating interesting pieces that will be sure to make everyone look twice. Growing up in a small suburb of Zurich, Sandri didn’t discover his love of art until he attended college; in fact, he went through most of his education with a focus in math. It was when he landed in Lucerne that he shifted his studies to art, majoring in visual communications and specializing in illustration. He explored his possibilities abroad in London, where he created a visual essay in the suburbs of the city. The experience, he tells, taught him a great deal about composition, colors, painting, and collages, which is what the majority of his mixed media tends to incorporate. The usage of various forms, from digital media to painting and illustration, demonstrate the talent Sandri contains when creating each work of art. Sandri’s general dislike for the trendy art scene back in Sweden has left his hope for impact in the United States; he believes countries abroad respond more positively to it due to a lack of humor in his home country, Sandri discloses jokingly. And in a strangely appealing way, Sandri’s work indeed exhibits a humoristic quality. Oddly cluttered landscapes, slightly inappropriate drawings, and cartoon characters fighting alongside a gorilla are creations that are sure to confuse the reader, but in an amusing and intriguing way. He mixes industrialization along with subjects of nature to create an even more puzzling view of the world, and it possesses an out of the ordinary experience, exactly the way Sandri wants it to be. He plans to work on another visual essay, like that of his first in London, but using the boroughs of New York as his new inspiration. Being free to draw, paint, and create whatever he wishes is clearly what Patric loves most about his art; something new he is thinking about dipping into is the realm of three-dimensional art, something Sandri would surely do well with. Sandri truly proves himself to be an unusually entertaining artist, never creating a boring project. With an open mind and creative hand, he seems ready for anything, or anyone. So if you’re looking for an artist with an exciting vision, Patric Sandri is the one who has it. To see his work, check out patricsandri.com. Or, just click on the About section of Title, with drawings of the staff courtesy of Sandri himself.
RITA BOTELHO by Garrett Yim photos courtesy of Fabrica and Rita Botelho
Tangibility is not to be confused with sterility. When we think of everyday objects such as a clock or a lamp, we only take them at face value. Simple objects that help us get through a simple day with no deeper meaning to them. However, Portugal-born designer, Rita Botelho, takes the simplicity of daily objects and turns them into works of art that are not only appealing visually, but carry a conceptual, and sometimes emotional quality to them. “[My products] are a form of art in that they are a medium I use to communicate with the world, to express my thoughts and feelings. An object is not just pragmatic and functional, its function goes beyond the materialistic world, touching feelings and memories, it has an emotional function.” Botelho’s most interesting products are perhaps found in her most simplistic designs, not only because they are easy on the eyes, but because of the driving concepts behind them. “The beauty of the product is connected with the simplicity of use and the cleverness of the concept.” One of her products, Drop, serves as a double-word play. It not only serves as a shimmering raindrop-shaped money bank, but it also signifies a concept of fragility and the thrill of destruction. She suggests that you actually “drop the drop” and break the product to view your collected earnings. Not only are Botelho’s products intriguing because they are simplistic, but because they are very unorthodox as well. “I love the surprise effect. In a world full of shinny perfect objects, it’s much more fun to give a twist to objects that people don’t normally think of as potential design objects.” The Attach Lamp is not only unconventional, but it is resourceful as well, using gardening tools to serve as a basic floor lamp. Her wall clock entitled, Playtime, utilizes 16mm film tins to serve as it’s base. “In [the Attach Lamp and Playtime Clock] I just took advantage of their functional and emotional characteristics and put them in another context, under a spot light…I gave them a second chance, a moment of fame.” However, one of her most interesting products has to be the award winning Breathe, a USB powered ionic air purifier that you can bring on the go. “[It] is based on piezoelectric ceramic transformer that releases negative ions into the air. Negative ions improve blood circulation and increase the levels of serotonin in the human body and clean the air from micro-pollution.” Such an item is particularly useful in office environments where one is constantly surrounded by electronics and man-made fibers. Stylish and health-friendly. Botelho’s products are a testament to the beauty and meaning we so blindly miss in the simplicity of everyday life. Heres what she had to say about some of her products…
“I never felt particularly attracted to designing electronic items, until I found a competition where I could redesign electronic items for an office environment that were already in the market. Since I was not fond of either electronics or office environments, it was quite interesting to try to participate in a way in which I could have a lot of fun with the project. I always love the research stage and this particular area was totally new to me. I found out that all the electronic equipment inside an office pollutes the air and that air can be cleaned by small USB ionizers. These objects already exist in the market but almost no one knows about them maybe because their designs are not appealing enough nor communicate their real function.” Salt & Pepper
“After university, I wanted to create a personal project with the main concept of redesigning common industrially produced objects in order to give them a second chance, a chance to live longer…to extend their original life span. For this purpose, using packaging seemed to be a good starting point. With this idea spinning in my head plus the memory of using film canisters to carry spices during camping adventures, Salt & Pepper was created. It made total sense to me to connect both objects. Apart from being created to be used in a different context, the demands for these objects are basically the same. Namely, in dimensions, storage, conservation and the ability to replace content. Besides, LDPE and HDPE (low density and high density polyethylene) are two of the most commonly used plastics in food packaging.”
“Portugal is a sunny country and it is quite common to see vases both outside and inside houses and commonly placed on the floor against the wall. I found the “common sense” action of placing vases against walls funny – common despite the rounded shape that by itself doesn’t give any guidance on where to place the vase. Based on this observation, I started to play with the traditional vase shape and divided it into four, in order to use it almost as a modular element that can be combined in different ways depending on the location. That might be a straight wall, a corner or an edge. With this modular system it is possible to combine different plants in a set of vases and the intuitive action of placing them in a specific part of the house will become more direct and more rational.”
“As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a money bank (the ones with a hole to take the money out) but in fact, I found these objects quite useless since I was never able to save money. The temptation to take the money out before the bank was full was always strong. When the economic crisis started in the U.S., everyone was talking about the importance of saving. It became a worldwide concern and seemed to be a perfect timing to design an efficient money bank. The main concept was to break it to take out the money so we actually have to drop it…just like a shiny drop of water – the heavier it gets, the faster it falls to the floor and collapses. The image of a big glossy drop came into my head and from that inspiration, the object was created. Besides, when you save money for a long time and then you have the chance to see how much you were able to collect, breaking an object is a great way to release the anxiety.” Attach Lamp
“Attach Lamp was designed for Fabrica’s exhibition at the Milan Furniture Fair 2008. I knew that I had a lampshade manufacturer available to work with, so I decided to think about different ways to make a floor lamp that could be entirely produced by a single manufacturer: a lamp that could stand up without the need to design any other objects. For that, I thought about the objects we use in our daily life that can stand up by themselves or against the walls, to which I could simply attach a lampshade. Brooms, mops and gardening tools came to mind, but since the design exhibition was all about the gardening environment, I ended up developing the project based on gardening tools. This allowed me to play with exterior and interior spaces and transform a common working tool into a decorative element.” Rug By Meter
“Rug by Meter was created when I was working at Fabrica, in Italy, where I was often asked to come up with new concepts for different types of objects. Based on my own difficulty in accurately estimating the dimensions of interior spaces, I thought about a rug that could be a medium to communicate those measurements and also a tool when we have to decide how many meters of rug you need for a specific part of the house. Inspired by the decorative edges of traditional rugs, I connected both ideas and used the edges as a ruler as functional, not just decorative elements.“
HIDEYUKI KATSUMATA by Michelle Nguyen
Characterized by his use of colors, Hideyuki Katsumata’s artwork is melodramatic as well as hectic in the way that his forms and different characters are placed in-between, around and in front of each other. Seemingly unorganized, Katsumata’s pieces have a sense of a dynamism that is all juxtaposed with familiar color palettes. We were able to ask this Japanese artist a few questions in hopes of untangling his artwork. Tell us a little about yourself?
Hello everyone. I paint on the borderlines to erase them...I also make animations for music videos beside fine art. I teamed up with RE:RE:RE:Mojojo as a VJ duo called mojoVisions. What type of mediums do you work with the most? Which mediums are your favorite to work with?
I use acrylic on paper a lot these days but I use other stuff according to how I feel like. Where do you find the most inspiration from?
My own philosophy and imagination.
I noticed that your artwork consists of many vibrant colors, how do you think your artwork has progressed throughout the years of your career?
I always liked many different colors. If the fact that I’ve been always using many different colors has made me progress my art, that’s what I would appreciate. What artists/musicians have you worked with? If you had to choose, who would you select as your favorite?
Rainbow Arabia, Little Dragon, Simone White, Floattt, Kiyoshiro Imawano, etc... everyone is differently amazing in their own ways, so I can’t just choose one. Don’t you also think so? Are there any upcoming projects that we should know about?
I am going to work as a part of mojo Visions more from now on. Also, check out mine and Billi Sprague’s collaboration work, “YUBISUMO.”
JOSHUA CALLAGHAN by Krystal Miranda photos by Misha de Ridder
In Culver City, and most likely every other county in California, utility boxes stand unnoticed as unsightly scraps of metal; that is, until Joshua Callaghan came along. In response to a call for public art made by the city, Callaghan had an idea so obvious, it couldn’t help but be innovative. Decorating utility boxes to blend in with their surroundings would in fact do the complete opposite; a double take often occurs at the sight of his public art, and the smile this brings to citizens’ faces is what Joshua finds the most satisfying. Callaghan tells of his need to constantly change mediums, and prefers hopping around, getting involved most especially with his hands. Looking at his art and exhibitions, it shows. As a man of many mediums, Callaghan has worked with illustrations, performed installations, taken various photographs, and created sculptures and graphs out of wood, steel, and concrete. Surprisingly enough, when asked what he would do if he could multitask very well, it didn’t relate to his scattered art; he’d much rather cook breakfast for the whole neighborhood on his hotplate. In the same sense, Callaghan isn’t one who settles down easily. From New York to Rio de Janeiro and finally, for the last six years, Los Angeles, the 40-year-old has ventured around the nation since he was a child, and expanded his journey internationally after high school. He reveals his personality and his art to be closely associated with his constant dislocation. Life in Los Angeles has proven to show through his work, and he classifies the landscape and human built environment of the area as his own new medium. Callaghan’s medium is soon to reach other areas of the nation. He is excited to begin his project in New York at Bryant Park, an area rich with industry that is sure to notice the originality of Callaghan’s boxes. Luckily for us, it can already be found here. So the next time you happen to be strolling down Hollywood, look past the silver tinned boxes; keep an eye out for the camouflaged squares that manage to stand out by blending in.
NICK ZINNER by Misael Galdรกmez
Flip through Nick Zinner’s photo album and his world will open to you. Each picture is a day in his life — one of constant change. Life on the road breeds a stronger need to take photos, to capture the moment, capture the first glimpses of every location. This is Nick Zinner’s world. For those unfamiliar with the name, Zinner is the guitarist for the New York rock band, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The band is currently touring in the UK and will soon be headed to other parts of the world, including Australia and Japan. Zinner first delved into the world of photography in high school. He’s always liked the idea of making a moment or memory last forever, and even likes being able to create and manipulate those memories. Of course, Zinner’s personality also played a role in making photography so pivotal. “Being pretty shy, having a camera initially gave me a reason and purpose to interact with the outside world and people,” he says. Zinner has learned that being too self-critical and self-aware is dangerous to his photography. He’s better off trusting his instincts, but at the same time, not worrying about making mistakes. As one of his old teachers once said to him, “You can’t take that one great photograph without taking all the shitty ones before it.” While on tour and traveling around the globe, Zinner finds a need to take photographs. Though he loves waking up in a different city everyday and always having something new to see, he finds that after a tour, there’s a tendency for everything to blind together in hindsight. Thus, the photography becomes important, valuable as a form of documentation, even if only for clarity’s sake. Stemming from documenting life on the road is Zinner’s fascination with photographing the beds of hotels and places where he has stayed. The eight hours spent in bed seemed have always seemed as equally important to what he was experiencing out of bed. It would be a shame not to take advantage of the opportunity to note similarities and differences between each place he’s been. Zinner also documents beds because he is attracted by the notion of capturing the essence of someone or something after the fact. Zinner states that, he in fact has no favorite place to take pictures or favorite picture and enjoys being an anti-favorite. Recently, Zinner has been experimenting with the effects of still image saturation and consequently, has been looking to cinematographers like Robby Muller, Christopher Doyle, and Lance Accord for inspiration. He hopes to one day revisit Indonesia, where he studied music, and travel to all the places he didn’t get to see.
ABSHALOM JAC LAHAV by Stephanie Hernandez
“Describe my art? I don’t know about the paintings, but I’m tall, dark, and handsome” jokingly states Abshalom Jac Lahav, a conceptual painter from Brooklyn, famous for his Jewish inspired paintings. Born in Israel and living in Brooklyn, Lahav is being exposed to an overwhelming amount of culture and great food, all in which fascinates him. Being a well-known painter, he still follows the typical day routine. He wakes up, writes, exercises, does some paperwork, and by 12 or 3 in the afternoon, he is already painting. He steadily continues painting until 1 or 2 am, until the point where he is about to pass out. That pretty much shows how dedicated he is to the art. A fan of Notorious BIG, Wagner, and the early punk scene, Abshalom is surely making a name for himself with his work dealing with the relatable layers of identity. Lahav first realized his passion for art at a very young age in which he helped his father paint pigeons in Tel Aviv. His father was a doctor, but also did a little painting in his leisure time and became the premiere painter of Pigeons in Tel Aviv. Flash forward years later and you’ll find Lahav currently receiving high recognition for his series, 48 Jews. In reality, the series consists of more than 48 paintings and was in the works for nearly three years. According to Lahav, the title is a conceptual riff off Gerhard Richter’s 1971 piece 48 Portraits. The project starts with a focal point on the Jewish identity and expands to question his own stylistic identity as a painter. When looking at his collection, one can immediately detect its mysterious, distorted, and haunting effect. When asked who were his main influences in projecting such mood, Lahav lists Francis Bacon, Giacometti and in general, most surrealists. He continues by describing his technique: “a lot of the process comes from layering, and the mood usually comes from use of color a sense of kinetic energy. The creepy power of the unconscious is an amazing force. I guess some of that comes through in the painting.” Another characteristic of his work is that it consists of busts, floating heads, solid backgrounds, and gloomy shadowing as seen in his “Bob Dylan” and “Neils Bohr” paintings. Although Lahav describes his personal style as “US Weekly meets Gustav Klimt,” he also furthers his stylistic depiction as being influenced stylistically and conceptually by Richter and as well as Andy Warhol. A major difference between him and Warhol is that Lahav is us-
ing the series as self-beneficial, rather than for profit and that in his series, each painting has its own identity. The idea of the portrait as a bust serves as a vehicle, or armature, in which the painting is draped over. In a way, he mentions how the floating of heads on backgrounds summarizes the depiction of the iconic nature of celebrity. The “masked” effect adds a sort of veneer to the celebrity, in which reinforces the concept of layers of identity. In the series, his “Anne Frank” painting comes across as the most inspirational. That is due to the honor that Abshalom pays to her. “Anne Frank is the most inspirational for me. She was 13 when she wrote her diary, in the most horrible of circumstances. If that’s not enough, she then edited it! Its through the multiple versions of her Diary that we get this amazing picture of a maturing artist.” Once again, he is accomplishing capable of showing his appreciation and honor to many Jewish icons. If Abshalom wasn’t painting, he states, “I would like to bring more fashion into the painting. I think costume and veneer is a beautiful thing, especially when you begin to strip away the layers. I’m actually doing a lot of that in my new work, The Great Americans.” So be sure to look out for his new work, which I know is breathtaking as well. Though Jac Lahav may seem like a “too serious” kind of painter, he also has a witty side to him, as well as his paintings which are satirical. When asked where his ideal place would be to paint, he answers “I only paint in my studio. Every now and then I fantasize about being a plein air painter. I picture myself on the Coney Island boardwalk eating funnel cake all day, enjoying the beach and pretending to paint. I doubt I would get any work done and painting in public gives me the creeps.” He also admitted to listening to the entire Twilight book saga, in which all he comments is, “Gag.” So, sorry to any “Twilighters” out there because you won’t be seeing Lahav in line waiting to watch the films. Talented, intelligent, and passionate are three words that come to mind when the name Abshalom Jac Lahav is spoken. With his successful 48 Jews series, Abshalom is slowly becoming a Jewish icon himself. It is said that a picture is worth a million words, what would you say your paintings are worth? “A trip to see them.” I agree.
SUN K. KWAK by Mukta Mohan photos by Youngha Cho, Robert Nardi, Zake Kim & Sun K. Kwak
Representing the ephemeral essence of life itself, artist Sun K. Kwak’s sculptural drawings envelop their surroundings only temporarily. The black swirling lines and flowing waves creep out from within the walls and open up an unexplored universal frontier. From a distance, her work looks like a mural. However, up close it can be seen that she incorporates two dimensional drawings onto three dimensional structures using an unconventional medium – black masking tape. “My drawings are born through the communion between the material and the spiritual, wherein my own self is constantly reflected emptying itself,” says Kwak about her technique. She rips the tape after laying it down flat to create a new pictorial world in which she invites all viewers to enter. Born in South Korea, Kwak moved to New York 16 years ago and received her MA in Studio Art at New York University. Since then, her site-specific pieces have been displayed in the United States, Europe and South Korea. Having developed an interest in art at an early age, Kwak pursued it and meddled with canvas, wire, ink and performance until she discovered masking tape. “I felt as if ink was coming out from my fingertips the first time I used masking tape to draw.” Kwak gives birth to previously unseen space and time that only exist in the imagination and subconscious realm. She taps into the natural world by harnessing the lines and rhythmic patterns found throughout the unaffected environment. Her images look like smoke swirling above an open fire, like vines crawling over a leafy surface and like waves rolling gently. Her space drawings are done in a stream of consciousness style that allows for rough edges and mistakes. The three dimensional artwork inspires viewers to create their own representation of what the work might mean. Kwak’s home life is rather average when compared to the abstract art that she creates. In her perfect day she wakes up early, has breakfast at a café, works on a project at her studio, has coffee with a friend, exercises, eats a warm home cooked meal, checks her email, showers and then goes to sleep. It appears as if she can have her perfect day every day. Her latest exhibit, Enfolding 280 Hours, was located in the fifth-floor Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery at Brooklyn Museum earlier this year. She started the installation process two months before the opening, used three miles of tape and worked for roughly 280 hours. Using architecture as an inspiration, Kwak mapped out her design to visually represent the energy that she felt coming from the space. She covered walls, ceilings, pillars and staircases with sprawling smoke-like tendrils. After all of this labor, her work was displayed from March 27th to July 5th. However, as soon as the exhibition time was over, the tape had to come down. “It starts from empty space and ends as waste when its time comes, like our limited life. It begins from nothing but ends different from before because of the mark it leaves.”
GALLERY Graphic Design
MIKE GIESSER 33; Melbourne, Australia What is your approach to design?
I suppose it’s best summed up by the considered restraint and process of reduction I consistently adhere to. Initially a result of ridiculously short timelines and even smaller budgets, it ultimately became the manner in which I felt to be the most effective, both in terms of form and communication. I make things as simple as I possibly can while still trying to tell a story. Of course aesthetics are very important to me too, everything has to have a visual appeal and stopping power. I do try to stay away from producing work that becomes more about me than the product or message. There isn’t a right or wrong approach, but for me, simple feels more honest, pure and devoid of the emotional decoration designers have historically employed in order to create desire. It does generally put the onus back on the product or service you’re ‘selling’ and also on the consumer to make smarter, more informed decisions, rather than purchasing on an emotional response. I think the whole “Here is my product. This is what it does. These are the benefits. Now, is it for you?” approach is ultimately more ethical and genuinely refreshing. Have you heard of the Adbusters Magazine? I see a similarity between your guys’ message.
Is it still around? I haven’t seen an issue since I was in college [11 years ago]. I suppose I see similarities, but I guess I’ve always found it a bit naive and for the record, I am by no mean
a hardcore anti-consumerist. It’s great to have beliefs and values as a designer, but we’re only kidding ourselves if we truly think “design” can save the world. It’s a nice thought though. I mean, if you truly want to affect change, I’m pretty sure there are much wiser ways to go about it. Any tips for someone who wants to pursue a career as a graphic designer?
Take your job seriously, but try not to take the [graphic design/ advertising] industry too seriously. There are an alarming number of people out there who have convinced themselves of their self-importance in order to make it through each day. I’d hate to be one of those guys. What do you think the future of graphic design will be like?
Hopefully more like the past and less like the present. What is your favorite font?
I don’t have one, but I am known for my grotesk love of the Didones. If you could help the world from terrible fonts, what font would you want banned forever?
Again, just too many. I’m quite certain that there are more bad typefaces than bad musicians. But to each his own.
MATTHEW MANOS 21; Bay Area, CA, USA Are you excited to be getting out of school soon? Any plans you have for the future?
It is sort of sad and happy at the same time. I am very grateful for my time at UCLA. That being said, now that I am leaving, I can put everything I learned to use!...My dream is to achieve my MFA, and soon after that become a teacher while I run 2 of my own studios. One of the studios in particular is actually in the making as we speak. “A Verynice Design Studio” (or “Verynice” for short) will be one of the world’s first registered 501( c) (3) design studios. We work with other non-profits, people with beneficial dreams, and also on personal projects for the greater good. My idea is that the studio would run off of volunteer designers as well as support from sponsors. My hope is to teach a class at the collegiate level in which the students are given the opportunity to work on a project for my non-profit studio. Where do you draw inspiration from?
I first look at what is around me every day. I tend to be inspired by the very little, mundane things. If I am working on a project for a client, I draw inspiration from the client’s inspiration to do what it is they do. I am also constantly reading design blogs. What are some of your favorite design blogs?
Speak of the devil… I have a lot of favorite design blogs. The three that I check every single day: Beautiful/Decay, LovelyPackage, and FairSpot.
If you could invent a tool to help graphic designers, what would it be?
I am so glad you asked. I really want Adobe to make the super program. One where you can create both rasterized and vectorized pieces, edit photographs and video, and animate all in one program. It would be called Adobe CS (Creative Sweet). What is a font you find yourself using a lot?
That is a good question, and this changes on a day to day basis. My philosophy on fonts is sort of similar to my philosophy on style (that it shouldn’t really be repeated for more than one project). In the beginning of my design career I was using Helvetica a lot… because I was told to. Eventually I started to branch out. Lately I have actually been using my handwriting quite a lot... OK here goes: top 5 favorite fonts of all time: Bell Gothic, Akzidenz, Din, Georgia, and your (whoever is reading this) handwriting. Pick a font you would like banned.
I would never ban any font (not even comic-sans!!!). I would instead first ban the misuse of crappy fonts. I think that every font has a place.
ANDREW LISTER 21; Norwich/Newcastle, UK
Define what graphic design means to you.
A lot more than just arranging things to look nice on a page. How would you describe your style?
There’s a quote from Buckminster Fuller that pretty much sums up what I strive to achieve with every piece of work: “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I’ve finished, if the solution isn’t beautiful, I know it’s wrong.”
Besides from graphic design, your also very much into photography. Which do you think you enjoy more? Why?
Photography is very much a hobby for me so i’d say it’s more ‘enjoyable’ but it’s also a big part of my graphic design work. I feel like the two feed into each other, photography helps my design work and vice versa. What is your favorite font?
I’m torn between Plantin, Akkurat and Lubalin Graph at the moment.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I always look towards books, magazines and the Internet when starting a project but there’s a lot to be said for looking beyond the realms of the design world. One of the great things about graphic design is that you can dip in and out of so many different fields and subjects. I read an interview with Karel Martens recently and he described constantly looking at other design as “incestuous” which is something I agree with. Any favorite design blogs you read?
I would rate Manystuff, Today and Tomorrow and but does it float pretty highly but I feel there’s a tendency to rely on blogs too much for inspiration instead of people searching out what inspires them specifically.
Pick a font you wish would be banned forever!
I’ve never liked Skia Regular but there are thousands of poor free fronts floating around the internet that I’d happily see gone forever. What do you think the future of graphic design will be?
As a designer I think you just have to accept it as a given that technology and communication will constantly change and develop but ideas will always be central. What would you do with a million dollars?
I’m not even sure a million dollars stretches that far these days but maybe start a studio in Berlin and build the dream house.
PHIL YAMADA 30; North Vancouver, BC What are you usually inspired by?
What inspires me is pretty disparate; there really isn’t any pattern or particular thing. It may be seeing a really creative piece of work, meeting an interesting person, a good conversation, a girl I’m into, music, movies, books, some program on PBS ... of course, I’m very inspired by typography (in both a contemporary and historical context). I am impressed by the creativity of your alphabet series “Paint On Print,” what was the idea behind using newspapers?
Originally I just had the idea to paint an alphabet and explore various letterforms. At the time, however, I was dead broke and really couldn’t afford any materials to paint on, so I figured I could just raid the recycling bin for however much newspaper I needed. Luckily, I already had a good stock of acrylics to work with. So initially the idea to paint on newspaper was more of a practical decision rather than a conceptual one. I started to select sheets that I thought had an interesting typographic texture to them—sheets that were more copy heavy versus image heavy. During the process of selection I couldn’t help but read the content, which basically led to the idea that the content should inform the characters. So in the end, the letterforms became an interpretation of the content (some quite literal, others with a more tenuous connection).
Any good design books out there you would recommend?
Regluar: Graphic Design Today, pulished by Gestalten Verlag, Berlin (because I’m in it!); Area 2, published by Phaidon; and anything from Fucking Good Books, Motto, Neives Press, Rollo Press, BAT, Dexter Sinister, et al. What is your favorite font?
Such a tough question — it just depends on what I’m into at the moment. Right now I’m really into display type. Shit that’s quirky, bold, and unusual; mostly stuff that traditionalists would have nothing but disdain for. I’m also liking a lot of brush faces, too. If you could ban a font forever from this world, what would it be?
I’m pretty much over the debate of good and bad typefaces. In the past there were a lot of fonts that I thought were complete shit, but then I saw some people do really interesting with them and was blown away. So I’ve come to the conclusion that every font has it’s place in this world (in the right hands, of course).
MATT ADAMS 21; London/ Nottingham, UK
Did you always know that you wanted to be a graphic designer?
I think I realised I wanted to go into the creative industry at quite a young age, but probably had my heart set on graphic design from around the age of 14 I think. Both my parents were graphic designers themselves, so I have always been exposed to this creative world. Simplicity plays a big role in your designs. What about it appeals to you?
I just think, as a designer, the most important task is to communicate the product or idea to it’s audience in a way in which they will understand, and if this is through using simplistic methods then so be it. I do find myself drawn to bold, striking design though. Where do you get inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from a number of sources. Obviously I do the whole spending hours on the internet, trailing through blogs and blogs, but I also get a lot of my inspiration from the outside. Walking around town, and even just going to the pub, having a laugh with mates can suprisingly spark up ideas. Not that I’m condoning spending everyday in the pub!
Any favorite design blogs you read?
Everyday I visit blogs such as FFFFound, Grafikcache, Visuelle, Bitique, Fleuron, Form Fifty Five, It’s Nice That, and Type Neu. There are so many out there now, but I would say those are the top blogs I visit. Whats your favorite font?
Tough question! I don’t think I could say I have a favourite. I have always been a fan of Univers, especially for body text, and DIN for its nice correlation between weights. The guys at the type foundry ‘Colophon’ are producing some really nice fonts at the moment. Check them out at colophon-foundry.org. What font would you want banned forever?
The obvious choice would be Comic Sans, but I think any of these wacky fonts, made out of circles and bits of kittens, that are completely and utterly useless, should be banned forever! What would you do with a million dollars?
I really don’t know. There is so much I want to do, I just wouldn’t know where to start! The money would certainly help set up a nice little studio in London, full of self-indulgent bits and bobs! I think I’d have to stick my name down for one of the first civilian trips to the moon too! Are you offering?
© cemcav – chuv
ARIS ZENONE 26; Lausanne, Switzerland On your site, you said “My work is not a style, it’s a service that I provide to meet the needs of the client.” What does that mean exactly?
I don’t agree with the idea to develop works on a unique style and approach to be easily and more recognizable, I think that is not good for creativity and challenges on projects because it reduces the possibilities to develop a project or to resolve a problem. Did you go to school for graphic design?
Yes they are a lot! I love the Dutch approach in Graphic and Industrial Design. What’s your favorite font?
I don’t know if I have a favorite font, but today I can say..… Trade Gothic Bold Condensed No. 20 Pick a font you wish would be banned forever!
I think Sand.
Yes, I went to CSIA located in Lugano (Switzerland) where I studied graphic design for 4 years, after that at Lugano I did a bachelor of 3 years in Visual Communications at SUPSI.
What is a tip you would give to someone who wants to pursue a career as a graphic designer?
What would you say was the most important thing you learned while in school?
What would you do with a million dollars?
Something good at school is that often you are 100% free and pushed to develop a project with a lot of experimentation, no budget, no client etc...because of that it is really easy to get lost in thousands of ways and ideas. I think the most important thing I learned was self-criticism and rationality Are there any designers out there who you admire their work?
To be interested in everything! Buy a million candies.
ASOBI SEKSU by Michelle Nguyen photo by Catherine Bui
On the music scene since 2004, Asobi Seksu has grown profoundly under the lime-light. Striving under the influence of the Smiths and classical music, this duo creates a new-age shoegaze genre that could mostly be compared to My Bloody Valentine. An omnipresent echo is included in every album, creating a haunting atmosphere for the listeners – balanced out by catchy guitar riffs and nifty melodies. Originally from Los Angeles, Yuki Chikudate moved to New York and joined forces with James Hanna to form the band Sportfuck. Under their first time, Sportfuck released their self-titled EP; shortly after this release, the duo changed their name to Asobi Seksu, meaning “playful sex” in Japanese. “It was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek…More sensual than sexual, if anything,” Yuki explains. From there, Asobi Seksu quickly released their selftitled album in 2004 and second album Citrus through Friendly Fire Records with help from producer Chris Zane from Gigantic Studios (later re-released in 2007 with their European label One Little Indian Records). From the beginning, Asobi Seksu’s sound is unconsciously rooted back to British pop, thanks to Chikudate’s Morrissey-like vocals combined with Hanna’s Smiths/punk band background, the band creates what Chikudate calls dream pop universe. Their latest full-length album Hush (Feb 2009) was released on their new home, Polyvinyl Records. With this release, the band proved that they were just not an echo of their influences, but multifaceted musicians that could take their past sounds and mold it into something almost completely different. Standing confident to Chikudate’s description of the band, the band took raw music and evolved it into a mellow, dream-pop universe. Singles from this album include Me & Mary and Transparence (Transparence EP was then released in August 2009). This year has been quite a successful year of Asobi Seksu, with three albums released (Hush, Transparence and Rewolf, their new all-acoustic album recorded in Olympic Studios in London) and six albums in total since 2001, the band is just starting to climax to the surface. After touring for all of Autumn/Winter of 2009, Chikudate and Hanna plan on getting back to the studio in the Spring of 2010 to expand their dream-pop universe.
WAX TAILOR by Jeanne Le photo by Thomas Lavelle
Jean-Christophe Le Saoût comes from Vernon, France, a small town of thirty-thousand people. Fifty minutes from Paris, this is a town where you either become a depressive, and alcoholic, or a musician. A town where boredom is the source of creativity, where mere nothingness leads to productivity. Well, at least in Jean-Christophe’s case. He traces his roots back to 1986 where Run DMC, Public Enemy, Eric R. & Rakim and many other hip hop artists were steadily rising. The hip hop movement of the mid ‘80s and early ‘90s were not only prominent in the States, but apparently also in France. This worldwide movement affected Jean-Christophe, the man behind Wax Tailor. It began when he started rapping and double tape recording ruff beats in the early 1990’s. By 1994, he bought his first sampler. Four years after, he produced records with his before-band, La Forumle, on his own label, Lab’Oratoire. In 2001, Le Saoût began working on the Wax Tailor project which included a first remix of La Formule and Looptroop’s (a band which he collaborated earlier in the ‘90s) “Breathing Under Water.” This was the beginning of Wax Tailor. When asked why he chose the name “Wax Tailor,” Le Saoût interestingly replies, “I’ve always been digging. The sampler is my main instrument that I feed with vinyls (wax)...I was always making the music after the lyrics, to create the right mood.” Crafting words and vocal samples along the music’s lead, Le Saoût explained that it is a way or “tailoring” his songs. The familiar and conservative sounding voice samples come from old movies, advertisements, and stories for kids from obscure records that Le Saoût rummaged through at old markets and vinyl shops across the globe. It is a sort of game he plays, picking out old records for a few Euros. Some are a disappointment, he explains, while others are records that he completely adapts to. With these eclectic choice of records, and Le Saoût’s love of cinema, he creates such anomalous albums that merges modern and older genres, yet also manages to depict a story line: Tales of the Forgotten Melodies, Hope & Sorrow, and In the Mood for Life. Time has change, and hip hop has evolved. The passion for producing music, especially hip hop, has drastically changed. Remember the golden days of A Tribe Called Quest, Run DMC, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier? All that evolved into Kayne West and Lil Wayne? “I think that Kayne West used to be a good producer not a crazy MC. It’s very rare that I enjoy ‘popular’ artists right now especially in the hip hop culture. And I feel sad about it, because I don’t think that good music only can grow in the shadow of the underground. It’s strange when you think of it.”
RICHARD SKELTON by Scott D. Mackie photos by Autumn Richardson
Richard Skelton has released more than a half dozen CDs in the past 3 years, while operating under a number of guises: A Broken Consort (The Shape Leaves, Box of Birch, Crow Autumn, Crow Autumn Part Two), Clouwbeck (A Moraine, Wolfrahm), Harlassen (A Way Now), Heidika (Tide of Bells & The Sea), Riftmusic (self-titled), and the single release he has done under his own name, Richard Skelton, Marking Time. How would you describe what you are doing musically?
For someone who hasn’t heard my work, I make acoustic, instrumental music which sits somewhere between modern classical, folk and early music. I often use quite simple melodic motifs, threaded into a dense and richly textured weave of shifting, interlocking layers. My compositions are quite loosely structured and often fairly long, which leads some to describe them as ‘ambient’ pieces, but I’m not really comfortable with that tag, as it feels like too polite a term. My recordings are more intense, raw and elemental: Bowed, plucked and chafed steel strings. Accordion billow. Bell-like piano chimes. Shimmering percussion. There’s often a sense of urgency and drama. More abstractly, it’s music as landscape and weather. A meditation on absence and loss – part memorial, part lifeaffirming ritual. How are your pieces conceived? Are they written, written and improvised, or pure improvisations? Can you describe the creative process?
Most of my music is written in response to landscapes – their topography, history, folklore, flora and fauna. I’m drawn in particular to a region of the UK called the West Pennine Moors, in Lancashire, not far from where I spent most of my childhood. For me, exploring such a landscape is also a form of selfreflection and transformation, an attempt to uncover a sense of place – of connectedness – to witness transience, change, and the slow shift of the seasons. My creative process used to be quite straight forward, but has become increasingly elaborate over time. I used to simply visit a location, which had a specific resonance for me, and play there. Later I began to make recordings in these places too. I then began to wonder what it would be like to hear this music as part of the landscape itself, so I started to visit these places with small, portable speakers, which I’d hang from trees or put in hollows in the ground. I’d then retreat to a suitable distance and listen as the music acquired a kind of density and physicality. I used to imagine it as a kind of liquid, seeping into the soil. From here I began to see the possibilities of music acting as an auditory bridge between disparate places, and became fascinated with the idea of taking the sounds recorded in one location, at one particular time, and replaying them in another. So, for example, it became meaningful to record the sounds of a wood in spring, and to play them back when the leaves were gone. Or to make a musical composition from the sounds played in isolated, ruined farmhouses – to bridge their isolation with sound.
Part of my reason for playing in these environments was a desire for the landscape to impress itself – however obliquely – upon my recordings. I thought that perhaps the topography might have some kind of residual energy, an acoustic fingerprint. This in turn led me to leaving my instruments overnight, or for days at a time, in certain locations, so that they might acquire something of the energy of a place. I still keep many sets of strings buried in soil or beneath stones on the moor. Throughout this period, my main desire was to collude with the natural environment, and to allow it to transmit itself through my recordings. As time has passed, these processes and rituals have become more stylised and gestural. These days, for example, whilst recording in the studio, I might place a stone collected from one of these places on the body of my guitar. The act might have little or no acoustical effect on the recording, but it has huge significance in the ritual of creation itself. Are there any other musicians, or is it entirely you?
It’s just me. The process of actually playing an instrument is very important to me. As mentioned previously, I’m concerned with the ritual involved - its gestural qualities, its physicality. Moreover, making music should leave a residue. Something more than memory. The pain in my fingertips from coiled metal strings. The marks left on my skin by the wooden body of an instrument. The feeling of it resonating against my own body. A feeling of connectedness. Of being a transmitter or conduit. It’s a very private and meaningful thing. What instruments do you use? Is there a particular instrument that is most “instrumental” at the creative stage?
I use everything and anything that I can lay my hands on. Guitar, piano, mandolin, accordion, concertina, violin, dulcimer, bouzouki, lap harp. Mostly cheap, second-hand or broken. I often modify them, adjust or restring them. I do have one nice instrument, though – a beautiful guitar which was made for me by a luthier in Cumbria – but I may sell it, as I’d really like to buy a good violin, or possibly a cello. I seem to be gravitating towards bowed sounds - there’s a seemingly infinite gamut of sound and texture – of feeling – that can be elicited from a single, taut string with a length of horsehair. What are some of the frustrations and failings you encounter in the processes of creating and recording?
I’m sometimes thwarted by unwanted environmental noise, as quite a proportion of my recordings have been made on windswept moorland. I have hours of material that’s been rendered unusable by a slight breeze playing across sensitive microphones, or ruined by the sudden intrusive sound of traffic. Sadly, as the UK is such a small country, it seems like you’re never more than a stone’s throw away from a road, which is why I often record very early in the morning. But the actual process of making music is a joyful mystery. It’s life-affirming and sacred. I discovered quite early that a key to overcoming frustration is to embrace one’s own limitations, as it’s actually in the flaws – those unrepeatable sounds – that something unique and beautiful often happens. Moreover,
I have no expectations about the end result. No preconceived ideas. No demands. Why would I make music if I knew in advance how it should sound? Each time should be a process of discovery or revelation. Obviously, as I’ve become more proficient, I’ve come to have a better idea of what works for me. In a sense, I feel that I’m writing the same song again and again. Using the same handful of notes, intervals and sonorities. But it’s always changing, and the results are always unpredictable. Like walking along the same path in the woods on different days. It’s the same place, but it changes all the time. Do you have any personal favorites? Was there a particular piece whose final execution vastly surpassed your initial expectations?
My personal favourite is usually the piece I’m working on at the moment. Mainly because I’m so involved in it. The song becomes a space in which to reside – for a while at least. A conjured landscape. But in general, given that I have no expectations to begin with, it’s difficult to choose an overall favourite. In terms of the effect they have on me, then perhaps something that’s still and haunting, like “And All Their Silver & Gold” (from The Shape Leaves) or “Lowe” (from Marking Time). In terms of complexity and intensity, then maybe “Something Fell” (from Box Of Birch) or “The River” (from Crow Autumn Part Two). But then there’s the Carousell album, “Black Swallow & Other Songs,” which has some of my oldest, simplest and most beautiful pieces... Do you have a sense of the direction things will go creatively in the future? Are there things you have in mind? Are there any people you would like to collaborate with?
I recently collaborated with Canadian songwriter Autumn Grieve on a mini-album entitled Stray Birds. We recorded her performing a selection of her songs on acoustic guitar, and then I later added string and piano arrangements. She was a joy to work with, and very gracious, especially as I’d never written arrangements before. It’s a whole different art, song writing, and her music is subtle and intricate, with strange chords and beautiful changes. Each time I listen new things reveal themselves, new shades and colours, new depths. We’re planning a follow-up album soon, once we’ve found somewhere beautiful to record it. Apart from that, I have a few other irons in the fire, so to speak, but I’d rather not reveal them just yet, if that’s okay. It’s not that I’m superstitious, but in the past I’ve been guilty of announcing things that have failed to come to fruition. My main hope is to continue making bespoke editions of music, published through Sustain-Release, my own private press. Working this way allows me to establish a meaningful relationship with my customers – it feels more personal than the traditional retailer/consumer paradigm – although, ironically, if interest in my work continues to increase, it may be difficult to sustain, as it’s quite time-consuming and labour-intensive work. You have staked out a distinct niche in the ambient world. In my opinion, the emotional depth and technical execution of y-
our pieces is unsurpassed. Do you feel you have succeeded in what you are doing?
For me it’s interesting to ask myself what I would do once I’d succeeded. Would I stop? Do something different? I think perhaps musicians, or at least music journalists, are obsessed with change. To stay the same is a kind of damnation. But I always think about bird song. There’s a blackbird that sings outside my window each morning. The same blackbird. The same song, each day. The same, but different. I’ve mentioned already that it feels like I’m writing the same song, over and over. Ploughing the same furrow. Am I slowly perfecting something through repetition, or is each iteration a variation on something that’s already perfected? On reflection, I think each piece succeeds on its own terms, regardless of its lineage, or the expectations placed upon it. To return to a favourite analogy – for me, they’re like landscapes, these songs, so you might as well ask whether a particular landscape is more successful than another. Birch wood or wild moor? Meadow or mountain? It’s down to personal preference. People write to me and describe their feelings upon listening to a particular album. The images evoked. The memories recollected. Some of the descriptions are astonishingly vivid and varied. Different moods and emotions. Are any of their responses more valid or apposite than others? I don’t think so. I think it’s just important to put something out there and let it find people who connect with it, in whatever way they choose. The physical packaging of your CDs is also unsurpassed: please discuss the physical packaging of the Special Editions.
The original impetus behind starting my own private press was to publish the artworks of my late wife, Louise, along with my own musical offerings. So from the very beginning, I wanted to place the ‘packaging’ and music on an equal footing. Physicality is very important to me, perhaps because of the loss created by her physical absence. The senses become more acute when they are deprived. The music has weight and density, being born of touch, pressure, friction and vibration. You can hear those things in the recordings - the whine of horsehair on metal, or the rattle of fingertips on steel strings and wood. Even though the resulting sound is just a disturbance of the air, it has an almost tangible presence. ‘Packaging’ is a way of creating a landscape for the music to inhabit. It grounds it in reality. Gives it a sense of permanence. My idea for packaging this music was to create something beautifully tactile, intricate and delicate. There are many layers, and so opening one of my releases requires a certain degree of patience – almost reverence. A kind of ritual. My Special Editions take this idea one step further – lifting the lid off one of my wooden boxes is a transformative, sympathetic gesture. Each of the items contained therein has a kind of totemic power. By touching them, they are activated, and become an element in a ritual, which connects and transports the recipient into the landscape of the song. Typically, I fill each box with items collected from a specific location. These places have a very private and real significance for me, acting as the
venues for recordings, or the focal point and inspiration for a composition at a later date. So I might collect fallen leaves, seeds, bits of wood or bark, small stones, bones, feathers, and phials of water or soil. When placed together and removed from the landscape, they act as connective tissue – what I call ‘thing-poems’ - a synecdoche for the landscape itself. In many cases, the items contained in each box have literally been used in the act of creation - either directly, as plectra, or by simply placing them on the wooden bodies of my instruments. In all, the idea is to create a box that is filled with something that is both beautiful and meaningful. Something utterly unique. Have you played live? Do you have any plans to perform live?
Playing live is quite a difficult proposition for me. Performing my music is primarily a private process. I’m dealing with loss, memory and a sense of place. The fact that I published it at all is almost a fluke. A leap of faith. My motivation in sharing it was to publicly commemorate the life of my late wife. But to perform it in front of an audience – I wouldn’t want to make a spectacle of something so private. Likewise, judging from the way people respond to it, I imagine that it’s quite a solitary, internalised, listening experience. Is it something that people would want to experience in company? I don’t know. I do get asked to play live quite a lot, and have turned most of them down so far. One of the other factors is purely technical – on most of my records I play maybe a dozen instruments. The music would be difficult to recreate in a live context, without help from other musicians or some sort of technological sleight of hand. Would people want to watch me fiddle with a laptop? I have played in some ensemble settings, and those experiences have been really good, but it has never been ‘my’ music. It’s always a group effort, and the music goes in weird and wonderful directions because of it. Having expressed all those reservations however, I would eventually like to put on some kind of live performance. These things take time. I just need to discover how best to make it work, and to hopefully find a sympathetic promoter and venue. Any other pertinent info you’d like to share?
Well, I suppose – quite understandably – this interview has concentrated mainly on my music, but that’s really only a part of what I do. It forms a complementary strand to my work, along with photography, filmmaking and writing. They’re almost interchangeable – to me at least – and I’m currently in the process of collecting these things together, with the intention of shortly publishing a book of photographs and writing, along with an album of material entitled Landings. The whole enterprise is intimately concerned with my explorations of the West Pennine Moors, and may provide a more balanced and thought-provoking insight into my work than I’ve been able to share in this interview. Other than that, I’d like to thank everyone who has personally contacted me, shared their impressions and expressed sentiments of good will and encouragement. It’s a privilege to continue to share my work with such caring and generous people.
NOSAJ THING by Catherine Bui photos by Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
Unemployment due to the recession for the average person usually means months and months ahead looking for a job; however for Jason Chung it was more of like a “blessing in disguise.” “I was requesting a lot of time off to play shows and they were probably feeling like ‘Hey, this guy is starting to do this more and more,’ so maybe that’s why I got cut,” Chung explains. Lucky for him, the same week he was laid off he found a booking agent who was interested, and since early this year Chung’s career as a music producer behind the alias Nosaj Thing (Nosaj = Jason backwards) came to fruition. I had the pleasure to meet and talk with Chung after his show at the Glasshouse in Pomona, California not too far away from his hometown of Pasadena, to discuss how Chung got into music and what Nosaj Thing is all about. Chung walks me to the room backstage, where the other bands are hanging out, tuning their guitars and lounging on the sofas, trying to find a quiet place so we can talk. We end up in this loft, built above the area where the other bands are, accompanied with two old sofas, a pool table, and a random square table in the middle of the room. Without hesitation Chung walks over to the pool table and shoots a few balls, missing both out of two. Despite him being bad at pool, Chung is indeed talented in music though. He’s been featured in countless publications including Fader, The New Yorker and XLR8R while aired on BBC Radio One and Los Angeles’ own KCRW. He takes off his coat and sits down on one of the poorly upholstered sofas whose foam-y guts are already spilling out — typical backstage furniture. He begins telling me about how he was interested in music at an early age. Being part of the school band in elementary school, Chung was playing the saxophone and clarinet then switching over to drum line while in high school. During his high school years, Chung was usually hanging out with older kids who were into dj’ing, spending time at their house messing around with turntables and discovering his potential. Having older friends without a doubt pushed Chung into the dj’ing and production cult-
ure. “One of them [friends] gave me a bootleg copy of this production software, so I installed it on my dad’s computer and just never went to sleep after that,” he recalls. He also remembers a time in 8th grade when he lied to his parents saying that he was going to a sleepover but in reality was going to his first rave, an experience he says “sort of changed my whole life a little bit, because I liked it so much.” At this time Chung was mostly listening to backpack hip hop, drum n’ bass and house music, discovering music through online chat rooms, asking people “I like this, what else if familiar?” Though Chung’s music roots lie in hip-hop, he became interested in indie rock; attending shows at least once a week at The Smell, L.A.’s home of D.I.Y. acts. He draws inspiration from a wide range of music from classical influences as Debussy and Satie to bands as Boards of Canada and Radiohead. I asked him what he is currently listening to and he tells me about his current obsession for the latest Beach House album, also listening to Hudson Mohawke and Burial. As soon as he says Burial, I realized the obvious similarities in style and I asked if he considers Burial as an influence on his music and he says that he was indeed listening to a lot of Burial while producing Drift, his first full album released earlier this year. Though it is apparent that Drift incorporates the dubstep influences of Burial and the hypnotic qualities of Flying Lotus, let’s not be so limiting. He bridges a vast array of styles from classical, hip-hop, electronica and dub. His sounds are dreamlike sometimes even ghostly, a world of soundscapes. Drift opens with “Quest,” a track that well defines what I meant by ‘dreamlike.’ Because of its subtleties and ephemeralness, it serves as a great introduction to the rest of the tracks. Chung also wanted to embody more human elements, fearing that the electronic album might become “stale,” he cleverly added vocals to “Coat of Arms,” the third track on the album. The vocals combined with layered claps and pensive beats prove Chung’s talent in dealing with more complicated sounds. However “IOIO” is a stand out with its beautifully constructed intro through sputtery drums and resonating synths, building up to what is an infectious rhythm. Chung however is not known only for his EP and album — he has also created some of the finest remixes. From transforming Flying Lotus’ already brilliant track, “Camel,” to an even more astounding piece of work is difficult, but Chung manages to do so. In addition he has remixed songs for Radiohead, HEALTH, Jogger, and many others while still keeping his distinct style, what Daddy Kev, Alpha Pup Records founder, calls his “sonic signature.” I asked Chung if he was looking forward to doing remixes from any other artists and he reluctantly answers, “Honestly…I don’t know if I should say this…but I guess I’m just kinda tired of doing remixes…I just feel like I should focus more on making my own music, that’s what I enjoy most.” Despite the fact that we possibly won’t be hearing anymore inspiring remixes from Chung, he will be doing what he enjoys most, which is making his own music. He is slowly working on another record hoping to release it by the end of next year. A record he says that will be “more diverse…a compilation of stories.” When asked what he looks forward to in 2010, Chung replies, “I’ve been working on more hip hop beats. One of my goals is to make a beat for Busta Ryhmes and I made one that is perfect for him. Hopefully I can get it to him.”
THE XX by Jack Dolan photos by Owen Richards
“Hype can be scary.” Oliver Sim tells us, “I know I’ve reacted badly to it when it’s happened to other bands in the past. If I feel a band has been forced on me in any way I kind of don’t want to listen to them, just to prove I can think for myself.” It’s a familiar phenomena, band’s being disregarded purely because they’re ‘the next big thing.’ But this reaction is something that Sim, and his band The xx are going to have to get used to quick. Only recently they were virtually unknown (and subsequently very cool) and now they are receiving rave reviews for the eponymous new album and are embarking on a world tour. If they are relying on their underground kudos, they’re not going to have much left when they get back home. Hopefully they are going to prove to the world they have more to offer. “We’ve got about a year’s worth of touring planned. We go on tour with Friendly Fires around America next month and then early next year we go to Scandinavia, Australia and Japan and then, um, quite a bit more. I try and not look at the calendar too much. It’s a bit scary seeing a whole year planned.” Taking their new show around the world is understandably daunting, especially as this is their first headline tour, too. “It’s a whole different experience playing when everyone is there to see you. It’s really nice when people know the songs but then I suppose they’re going to realise when you do mess up. But, I’m on a bit of a high at the moment playing our own shows” So far the tour has been a success. No doubt, in the crowds there are arguments over who discovered them first as the hype
continues to build. The question is, is it only a matter of time before the fan base reaches critical mass and the same people start to insist they were never that much of a fan in the first place? The xx have become the new Indie band that everyone is talking about, but they do offer something slightly different. Yes, it is true they are essentially a guitar lead four piece, we wouldn’t want to big them up too much after all, the last thing they need is more hype. But the difference is, The xx’s approach is very much their own, and has developed in a it’s own unique way. A couple of years back, fresh out of the London’s Elliott School (with a musical alumni that includes Four Tet, Jeff Mills, Adem, Hot Chip and Burial) the band was spotted by Young Turks (sister label to XL recordings) and given a rare opportunity. “When we first started working with them we were just turned 18, we hadn’t played many shows, hadn’t played outside of London, only had about six or seven songs. We were starting to get some attention then and all the other people approaching us were talking about releasing stuff and I suppose we just weren’t ready to put ourselves out there. Young Turks came along and offered us a place to rehearse and got us gigs and nothing more and that’s what the relationship was for a year.” The complete lack of pressure has clearly paid off, allowing them to develop at their own pace, something which a lot of acts wouldn’t have the time or creative vision to pull off. “It
just seemed like Turks were looking out for our best interests. It was only after that first year that we started talking about working towards an album and releasing stuff. We didn’t really start doing interviews until we’d finished the album either, because, I suppose we didn’t want to work under any sort of expectations” But the expectations were inevitable. When the press finally got wind of what was going down it was so tantalisingly mysterious that news was spreading faster than the music itself. When the album did arrive it burst into the limelight with unprecedented speed and amazingly the songs stood up. Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft (the other lead vocalist) have been best friends as long as they can remember and have been writing songs together for years. It is their unique relationship that allows them to share the lead vocals so effortlessly. This gives what are essentially very simple songs an interesting twist. The strange thing is they don’t actually write their songs together. “It’s very separate, what Romy sings, she’s written and what I sing I’ve written and we both kind of write it at home, alone. Then it’s just a case of coming together and collage-ing what we have. We’re not really singing to one another so it’s not really about making it fit perfectly.” This might sound like a deliberately difficult way to do things but it works for Romy and Oliver almost telepathically. “Looking back, it kind of freaks me out sometimes when Romy does send me something and I don’t have to write to fit in with what she’s doing and I think vice versa, it’s a case of just looking back and there is stuff that just works. We’re both kind of pretty similar people so I think it comes from there.” Another crucial element of the final sound was the addition of Jamie Smith, MPC drum machine player. “Before Jamie joined we were using a backing track. He was often making the beats on the backing track anyway but backing tracks are temperamental, when you mess up then it’s terrible, the whole songs finished, there’s no going back. When he joined he replaced the backing track and the live show flowed a lot better, it gave us room to be spontaneous if we wanted to be. It wasn’t so static and robotic.” The addition of an electronic element may have added a bit of a trendy gimmick, contributing to the hype but it works musically for The xx — gimmick or not. “What Jamie does goes past just drums, he does a lot of noises and sub and all that so it’s freed up song writing a lot too because we can be like, ‘How about we have harp in this song?’ and he’ll just make it happen.” Sim and the rest of the band’s faith in Smith’s electronic prowess is unflinching, to the point that they got Smith to produce the album, despite having worked with some prestigious producers. “We worked with six or seven producers (including
Diplo and Kwes), Young Turks was setting up the chance to work with these guys and they were all people we really liked, it wasn’t like working with them for an album or anything it was just trying out stuff and seeing where it went. We went in there to learn and take on board all of their ideas, we were quite passive. We weren’t like ‘How about we do this, How about we do that?’ so naturally the recordings came out sounding a bit more like them than us. Smith just knows how every sound should sound and it’s an honest relationship in that he can be really frank with us and be like ‘You can sing that better, that doesn’t sound right’ and on the other side we can be like ‘Do that, instead of that.’ It made me feel a bit more involved even though he very much produced it himself, we all felt kind of included.” The electronic influence in The xx’s music is subtle as are all their influences. “All four of us have very different tastes, I suppose it is a kind of middle ground of everything we love.” And it’s not just obscure or Avant-Garde influences being banded about in an attempt to show off their musical knowledge and understanding. Sim in particular has a soft spot for R&B which has lead to them covering Womack & Womack’s “Teardrops” and Aaliyah’s “Hot Like Fire”. The smooth R&B comes through in a lot of their own vocal hooks also, the band make no attempt to deny their cheesier influences. “A big problem for me, I never know what to label as an influence and what I just like listening to. I don’t want to deny something as being an influence, when I’m sure a lot of the stuff has just crept it’s way in without me knowing subconsciously.” Some more obvious influences come from classic indie bands that they have been compared to like the Pixies and the Cure, some of Madley Croft’s favourites. All these influences combine together in one very minimal sound. Quite an achievement, although apparently not a deliberate one. “We didn’t really set out to make minimal music. A lot of the earlier songs came about just because me and Romy were just learning to play our instruments, we weren’t very good and it was just playing what we could. As time’s gone on and we’ve played more and more, we have become better players and it’s been more of a case of trying to keep this minimal sound and hold back a bit more.” For now it seems The xx have the right idea — holding back and making sure they keep it simple and unpretentious. The growing hype that surrounds them could, ironically be their undoing, it remains to be seen. With such a rapid rise to fame, the skeptics would love to see it become an anticlimax. So far, they seem to have proved their worth; hopefully their followers will too and give them a fair chance at being more than just ‘the next big thing.’
FOOL’S GOLD by Kari Elam photos by Marianne Williams
Fool’s Gold: an up-and-coming Afro-Pop band from San Francisco by way of Los Angeles, more organic than a Whole Foods produce aisle and more worldly than your alma mater’s Model UN. Fool’s Gold is a world farmer’s market of sound on a gorgeous Californian summer day. Fresh, organic acoustics imported from little known rock bands in Niger to mainstream Korean pop groups, from the Top 40 from across the pond to indigenous tribes settled along the Fertile Crescent – where the cradle of civilization continues to cultivate authentic culture through its music. All of these beautifully rich sounds nestled alongside one another, collaborating, mixing, and mingling for you to pick up and enjoy at your leisure. Fool’s Gold is the product of two star-crossed lads: Luke Top and Lewis Pesacov. While these two are the core duo, the group can be anywhere from two to twelve people depending on the time and place. Ask Top to name the members and he’ll cut to the chase, “I think I should just refer to everyone as a number, I think that would be easier. Suffice to say, there’s a few of us.” The group got their start when Top and Pesacov found a shared passion for world music: “something was revealed that we both had a love for world music, African music, world pop music and really casually decided to start messing around. We started these super informal…‘jams’ I guess – I hate using that word: ‘jam sessions.’ Anybody could come in and out - four people or 16 people at a time. We’d be really super loose and this went on for months. We really started play-
ing our first shows as ‘Fool’s Gold’ at parties: Backyard BBQs, parks, stuff like that.” While their sound reaches to the bedrock of civilization, and their home shows tout a band of twelve, their namesake doesn’t share that same depth of origin: “the story of the name is not really as colorful as our music – or album cover should I say. It was an off-the-cuff joke a friend made. Lewis and I were driving around S.F., having a good time, and his ex-girlfriend was reminiscing about how she found a whole bunch of fool’s gold in the ocean somewhere. She kept talking about it and we just thought it was the most ridiculous concept for whatever reason.” Profound? No. Deliberate? Obviously not. Fitting? Beyond, “We just took it, used it, didn’t think too much about it. Which is kind of like how our band’s been working since the beginning. We just kind of fall into where we are, and I guess the selection of the name kind of set the stage for our creative process that ended up here.” That openness, and ability to balance their role as musicians, but also media/channels for their musical influences is what sets Fool’s Gold apart, “Everyone in the band we all have such a deep love for music in general. Obviously, Africa is an immense source of music and there’s just so much music yet to discover. There’s different countries in Africa that have different sounds that we find interesting, also just pop music from the UK, US, Brazilian music, Korean pop music. It varies; that’s kind of the beauty of this band (laughs) we just took a bunch of stuff and filtered it through ourselves to the music.”
Needless to say, Fool’s Gold is brilliant live – and it is where they come alive. The stage is a bridge between the now and the never-ending that captures Fool’s Gold’s spirit, “That’s the beauty of playing music live. We can let the music go wherever we want it to. There’s no pressure to bring the hook in at any particular point. I can just pick and choose where I pick up and start to sing. We really keep our time when we can, and I think that’s really special. It doesn’t sound drawn out, it sounds really natural. I think, maybe, hopefully some people in the audience will agree with us, like we just played a song for ten minutes but you’d never know it.” The group is currently on the road. This, their first tour, starts in California, touching base at home – before they take on the world, “It’s awesome because it was never any pressure to be anything. We all had all these different projects. I mean, I’ve been playing music my whole life, and we all have our different things. But, something about this band we all came together and there was no pressure and you could do whatever you wanted. Without that kind of environment, I don’t think we would be existing right now because it really allowed us to push ourselves and be more free with ourselves. Part of that credit goes to a city like Los Angeles that supported us. We played in a lot of different places that let us hone our skills and work on ourselves, so gotta thank Los Angeles for being our first mother.” In a marketplace of ideas where everyone is trying to make a dollar, Fool’s Gold is that kiosk in the corner that just wants to make you dance, feel, flow with the music, “Lewis and I we’re trying to have our music be as broad as we can. We want it to reach as many people as it can. We’re not trying to be precious about what we’re doing here so, if there’s anything I can do to help expose that – I’ll take the opportunity,” to tap in to your visceral core by letting go, and to connect, “there’s something very visceral to it. At least for me when I’m playing, I feel like you can use your body to interact – to interact with the band, you interact with the audience, you connect and I feel like everybody’s alive when we’re playing music.” What makes Luke and Lewis feel alive? Their Top 10 Favorite Tracks du Jour that fuel the band on their current tour. Lewis’s picks: 1. Zaïko Langa Langa- “Zaïko Wa Wa”
Early 1970’s ‘new wave’, youthfully punked-up Congolese rumba which left a long lasting effect on the African music scene with it’s dizzying electric guitar melodies, watery bubbling bass, sweet harmonious singing and seriously extended jams.
2. The Tempress- “Love (Between a Boy and Girl)”
There’s something about the combination of some funky-azz drums, an easy-breezy pace and the dreamiest of falsetto soul vocal harmonies that just makes me wanna cruise real slow with my girl right up next to me. 3. Tinariwen- “Mataraden Anexan”
Tinariwen are probably the most internationally famous groups of the large musical community of the Tuareg nomads currently living in Mali, Northern Africa. Their music is just so beautifully spacious, eerily peaceful and as trance inducing as the hot Santa Ana winds of Los Angeles. Their name means “empty places” in the Tamashek language. 4. Marvin Gaye- “Sexual Healing”
This song always kind of embarrassed me when I was child but now that I’m older, I totally understand where he’s coming from. Also, this song was the first ever hit single to use the Roland TR-808- only the coolest drum machine of all time... 5. Leonard Cohen- “True Love Leaves No Traces”
Pure bliss, immediately reminds me of driving around LA on one of those too-warm-to-be-fall days when the sky is clear and you’re surrounded by the city’s brown, sun dried hillsides. Beautiful lyrics supported by deeply emotional production. Plus stellar duet vocals with Ronnie Spector! And Luke’s picks: 1. Dirty Projectors- “Two Doves”
This song sounds wonderfully like a lost cut from Nico’s Chelsea Girls. The production and arrangement is stunning. 2. Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou- “The Homeless Wanderer”
This music can be played at any time of day or night. Each sweeping piano line transports you to some discreet emotional palace. 3. Big Audio Dynamite- “E=MC2”
Moody and danceable 80’s hit from Clash guitarist Mick Jones’ crossover group. 4. Serge Gainsbourg- “Lemon Incest”
Serge may have really crossed the creep line on this one, but there is still something beautiful and seductively cavernous about this song. 5. Kuku Sebsibe- “Balemamaye”
Kuku’s music is more regal than a napping white tiger. Suggested for use as a life raft.
TITLE’S ‘09 FAVORITES Here at Title, we each named our top 5 albums of 2009. Take a read, take a listen and see if you agree with us.
Catherine Bui Editor/Creative Director #1 of 2009 The xx: xx
The xx: xx (Young Turks; 2009)
What initially drew me in was the mysterious and fragile feeling The xx expressed. The vocals of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim are effortless and papery, yet expressive and sincere. They mix influences of modern R&B and liberal uses of bass tones into tidy minimal compositions inspired by indie rock and pop melodies. Undoubtedly no other band has achieved this persona as well as The xx. Little Dragon: Machine Dreams (Peacefrog Records; 2009)
This cute quartet from Sweden brings a new look on pop-oriented electronic music. From their soulful first release to this 80’s pop influenced album, Little Dragon shows us their wide scope of talent and sounds. Machine Dreams definitely made hours of layout making more enjoyable. Tosca: No Hassle (!K7 Records; 2009)
Once again, another great release by Tosca. It isn’t as good as their earlier album, Dehli9, but it is definitely still worth listening to. I don’t think it’s possible for Dorfmeister to ever go wrong. Cass McCombs: Catacombs (Domino; 2009)
Without a question, this was one of the best folk albums of the year. With a voice like McCombs’, I often found myself comparing McCombs to Bob Dylan. Though I haven’t been able to put my finger on what it is exactly that McCombs embraces that is Dylan-like, it is obvious this album was easy to listen to but difficult to describe. Kings of Convenience: Declaration of Dependence (Astralwerks; 2009)
I wished they released this album during the summer rather than after it. The bossa nova influenced tracks would’ve definitely fit the mood of the warm summer evenings. But best of all, this album gave me a breather during my Brazilian music phase.
Jeanne Le Writer #1 of 2009 Choir of Young Believers: This Is for the White In Your Eyes
Choir of Young Believers: This Is for the White In Your Eyes (Ghostly International; 2009)
I guess I have a thing for orchestral pop/folkish music. Jannis Noya Makrigiannis leads the band, whether it’s just him or an entourage of 8 people, this album is definitely a must. Christopher Willits: Live On Earth Vol.1 (self released; 2009)
Christopher Willits is unlike any other instrumental artist. He uses a custom-built software to overlap his guitar and beats to create complex patterns of melodies. Beside his solo work, Christopher has collaborated with Scott Pagano, Taylor Deupree, and Ryuichi Sakamoto on frequent occasions. The Mercury Program: Chez Viking (Lovitt Records; 2009)
The Mercury Program’s album Chez Viking, has been finally release since their seven year gap since the third album. Quite contrary to their tranquil album cover of Chez Viking, the album contains a heavy ambience of rock and jazz-influenced rhythm. Efterklang: Performing Parades (The Leaf Label; 2009)
I enjoy the orchestral feel of this album. And Casper has a cool haircut too. Yuki Murata: Films (Ricco Label; 2009)
Yuki Murata is a pianist and composer hailing from Saitama, Japan. She is known for her neoclassical/post-modern style of morphing simple piano melodies with instrumental reverberation.
Krystal Miranda Writer #1 of 2009 Calvin Harris: Ready For the Weekend
Calvin Harris: Ready For The Weekend (Ultra Records; 2009)
Fun, upbeat, and original; a sort of flashback to 70’s disco. Makes me wanna get up and dance! Ladyhawke: Ladyhawke (Special Edition) (Modular Recordings; 2009)
I recently discovered her music and I love it, she’s got such a unique sound. Catchy without being poppy or annoying. Passion Pit: Manners (French Kiss Records; 2009)
Michael Angelakos has a voice like I’ve never heard, but it’s perfect in its eccentricity. It mixes with infectious beats to create a happy and upbeat album that I can’t resist! The Bird and The Bee: Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future (The Blue Note Label; 2009)
The Bird and The Bee has always been a favorite, and this album didn’t disappoint. Glee Cast: Glee- The Music, Vol.1 (Twentieth Century Fox Television; 2009)
Saving the best for last...I’m not afraid to admit it, I’m a gleek!
Callie Rice Writer #1 of 2009 The Fray: The Fray
The Fray: The Fray (Sony; 2009)
As much as I’d hate to admit it: I do actually like the Television-Theme-Song-O-Matic that is, The Fray. Spring Awakening Cast: Off-Broadway Sountrack (2009)
Okay okay - it’s not your typical album. But this is far from your typical musical. Although the ‘09 broadway edition is only available at the show, try: “Mama Who Bore Me,” “The Bitch of Living.” and “Totally Fucked” on iTunes. Andrew Bird: Noble Beast (Fat Possum; 2009)
Because everyone needs a little Bird.
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band: Outer South (Merge; 2009)
Finally, Conor Oberst got his shit together and produced some high quality music. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: It’s Blitz! (DGC Records; 2009)
With the addition of some disco synths and more electronic influence, Yeah Yeah Yeahs shows something they’ve never done before.
Garrett Yim Writer #1 of 2009 Perfume: Triangle
Perfume: Triangle (Tokuma Japan Communications; 2009)
Nostalgic, yet highly futuristic, 3 piece girl group, Perfume, has blended in elements of 80’s Italian disco, techno-pop and electro-house music on their latest release, Triangle. Producer Yasutaka Nakata’s sound rivals, and triumphs, over many of today’s more well known electro acts. group_inou: ESCORT (Spotlight Records; 2009)
A hip-hop record with a punk aesthetic, Japan’s group_inou continue to push forward their innovative sound on their latest EP. Their high energy 8-bit infused sound has caused them to make one of the best feel good records of the year. Hijokaidan: The Noise (Alchemy Records; 2009)
A 30 CD boxset by Japanese noise innovators, Hijokaidan. What’s not to like? Class of 1923: Class of 1923 (Zoom Lens; 2009)
Debut album by CO1923. Synth-noise destruction and electro-pop melodies with a post-
punk approach, A highly versatile, yet seamless CD that takes an adventurous approach in finding a medium between the clashing of both old and new sounds. Burial & Four Tet: Moth/Wolf Cub (Text; 2009)
Burial and Four Tet manage to transcend the boundaries of their individual counterparts to create something that is hauntingly beautiful and dismal, yet melodic and uplifting at the same time. Moth/Wolf Cub is unlike anything put out by either artist.
Michelle Nguyen Writer #1 of 2009 Little Dragon: Machine Dreams
Little Dragon: Machine Dreams (Peacefrog Records; 2009)
For the past couple years, I’ve acted almost like a screaming fan-girl when it came to Little Dragon – especially when I needed some move n’ groove. Machine Dreams’ release only justified my love for their versatility as well as unconventional melodies, therefore deserving my #1 album of the year. Zee Avi: Zee Avi (Brushfire Records; 2009)
There’s no doubting the fact that Youtube starlet Zee Avi’s voice is so, so humbling. She is a twenty-something-year-old singing clever lyrics telling of her experiences as though she’s lived for centuries – as though she could relate to everyone’s stories. There’s a song to fit every mood. Asobi Seksu: Hush (Polyvinyl; 2009)
Hush is clean. This album almost contrasts the band’s personality, as the duo are dynamic and approachable; whereas this latest album is calm (with it’s perfectly inserted climaxes) as well as different from their earlier albums, it took a week or two to grow into. Juxtaposing a mature sound with playful lyrics, Hush gleams with juices that I can regurgitate and loop for days-on-end. OOIOO: ARMONICO HEWA (Thrill Jockey Records; 2009)
When in the right mood, ARMONICO HEWA is the best album I’ve ever heard; on other days, I’d rather not touch it at all--but that’s how OOIOO has always been for me. With instrument bangin’, modest-Japanese screaming and a variety of catchy noise break-downs to choose from, ARMONICO HEWA is the go-to album when I’ve lost my touch of inspiration for the day. Arctic Monkeys: Humbug (Domino; 2009)
Being produced by Queen of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Humbug has taken a turn to a more predictable sound. Sticking to a more comfortable zone, Arctic Monkeys still never fails to deliver catchy tunes as well as hard-on guitar riffs. Good album for the car – bad album if you were looking for something new. Alex Rajabi Writer/Film Documentarian #1 of 2009 Beirut: March of the Zapotec/Holland
Beirut: March of the Zapotec/Holland (Pompeii; 2009)
Half drunken doom sing-along with your friends and half listening alone in your bedroom, the Balkan folk guru Beirut reaches new heights on this double EP by hiring a 19 piece funeral band from Mexico and then decides to turn to a new direction with a solo-electronic album which makes this 23 year old seem like a veteran. Though I combine the two albums together, mushing the two sides of Zach’s brain, it’s just as good of a listening experience with this man’s genius spread on two albums. It’s like Pink Floyd’s epic The Wall, but a third of the price and actually good. Boredoms: Ant 10 (Rhythm Republic; 2009)
It seems like my A.D.D. is kicking in this year, adding another EP to the list, but Boredom’s newest addition to the Super Roots series is nothing short of fantastic. Though the remixes do get a bit tiring (especially after listening to them back to back), Eye and the group make one of their tastiest additions to the Super Roots series since Super Roots 7.
Toe.: For Long Tomorrow (Machupicchu Industrias; 2009)
Released just in time to make it on the list, and being the first full length on the list, Japanese instrumental band Toe. brings nothing but the hearty goodness they’ve served throughout their career. The album is not much different from past albums, but that’s not a bad thing. The band’s soft harmonization hovers through speakers like clouds as the drums and subtle screams in the back tear through the atmosphere. These songs will you tat feel-good cry. Thao Nguyen: Know Better Learn Faster (Kill Rock Stars; 2009)
From the chorus-like singing and claps that start the album to the cheerful “bum-bumbums” finishing off the album, you can tell that Thao and the Get Down Stay Down are just trying to play the lively alternative country that everyone loves them for. The album’s tangy guitars and hard hitting snares compliments the surprisingly strong voice that comes out of little Thao Nguyen. Maybe it’s the cigarettes she’s smoking on the back cover... Nat King Cole: Re: Generations (Capitol; 2009)
It looks like ghetto superstar Mya had arranged a play date with The Roots and TV on the radio at a local Starbucks and picked up a Nat King Cole CD. This remix album adds a “Lush Life” to the Cole’s genius that reached the world’s ears over 70 years ago. This beautifully arranged album flows smoothly as the man’s voice soars through synths and hip hop drums making this a delight for old and new fans of Cole.
Scott D. Mackie Writer
Tiny Vipers: Life On Earth (SubPop; 2009)
#1 of 2009 Tiny Vipers: Life on Earth
Banjo or Freakout: Upside Down (Half Machine; 2009)
The premier songwriter on the planet. The sound of falling in love.
The Drums: Unreleased Songs (2009)
This collection of unreleased songs contains their best songs: “Best Friend,” “I Felt Stupid,” and “Instruct Me,” which were inexplicably not included on their first official release: Summertime! Their recent show at Spaceland revealed their live act is as good as their recordings. JJ: No. 2 (Sincerely Yours; 2009)
Beautiful Scando-indiepop that answers the question: “What if ABBA were cool indie-kids making music in 2009?” Washed Out: Life of Leisure (Mexican Summer; 2009)
Super-elegante-con-80’s-synth-joypop-totalmente-hecho-a-brillantemente. Ganglians: 7’’ (Captured Tracks; 2009)
This two-song sample of a forthcoming full-length is a foretaste of surely great things to come: stream-of-higher-consciousness, lo-fi guitar & warped synth wipe-outs.
ALBUM REVIEWS by Scott D. Mackie, Kari Elam, Jack Dolan, Emily Hsiao, Daniel Jones, Stephanie Hernandez and Alex Regla
Best Coast: Where the Boys Are Blackest Coast; 2009
Best Coast are among a slew of a relatively recent post-shoegaze revivalists, but unlike most there’s no re-hashing here; their sound is very much their own, somehow unique among even the most unique noise-and-feedback feeders. Winding their sound along waves of static white sound and metallic shuddering, the songs are structured and even, tempered by a feminine voice which hurls out emotive yearnings among the walls of cacophony. Melody is strong and fluid; tracks like “Angsty” place a marked emphasis on tone and pitch, using a streaming guitar wail as an accompanying voice. As an EP, it works brilliantly from start to finish, and most should be disappointed by its brevity. One can only hope that an LP will follow soon. -Daniel Bibio: The Apple and the Tooth Warp Records; 2009
Bibio’s first two albums were such a subtle and abstract affair that they went largely unnoticed. A recent departure into a slightly more accessible sound on his first release for Warp, Ambivalence Avenue has finally shown Bibio being recognized for the genius he is. This album was a witness to how he turned his hand to huge range of genre’s from track to track, it was hard to believe it was all the work of one man, let alone the same man who had debuted with two drone guitar albums. Bibio covers everything from Folk to Glitch-Hop all laced with his retro textures and found sounds. This new release, The Apple and the Tooth is a continuation of this, with four gorgeous new tracks and then a bunch of remixes by other artists. “Lover’s Carvings (Leatherette remix)” is a smooth rework of Bibio’s original and probably the pick of the bunch. As much as this isn’t exactly a proper album, it is worth picking up purely for the new Bibio tracks, particularly the title track and the fourth “Steal the Lamp”, which makes a sudden u-turn half way through into Dubstep/Breakcore, an avenue that even Bibio hasn’t been down before. -Jack Coconut Records: Davy Young Baby Records; 2009
The idea of an actor deciding to go into the music business is remotely a difficult thing to do. Coconut Records aka Jason Schwartzman, famous for his roles in popular movies such as Marie Antoinette, Rushmore and other Wes Anderson films, has recently released his sophomore record Davy on Young Baby Records earlier this year. Songs such as “Microphone,” “Drummer,” and “The Summer” surely enough give Schwartzman some extra brownie points for his musical talent. Like his 2007 album, Nighttiming, Davy introduces a new set of foot-tapping ballads (such as the ending part of “I Am Young” ) and songs that will overall just put you in a delightful mood. Although each song lasts a mere 3 minutes, he takes that time to tell a short story of his own. It is no doubt that with these two albums, Jason proves his talent in not just acting but a brilliant musician, as well. For those who have never heard of Coconut Records or just haven’t had the time to listen to his new album, I highly recommend that you to listen to Davy, you won’t regret it. So grab your friends, plug in some Coconut Records, and hit the road! -Stephanie Cymbals Eat Guitars: Why There Are Mountains Sister’s Den Records; 2009
A debut album is a band’s first real attempt to put their name on the map-- to be recognized from music’s mass oblivion and to be truly called “original”. For Staten Island’s four piece Cymbals Eat Guitars, their attempt to do so cannot be ignored. Led by 20 year-old lead singer Joseph D’Agostino (aka Joseph Ferocious), the band’s debut album has drawn much interest. Why There Are Mountains is an impressive debut for the Indie rockers, giving them immediate popularity around the Brooklyn area. The opening track off the album “And the hazy sea” automatically begins with synchronized “oohs and ahhs”, then elegant guitar playing. Gradually drawing the listener in with comforting sparkly pop, then with-
out hesitation, an explosion of noises coming from their ferocious leader’s mouth, crashing cymbals, screeching guitars, and pounding keys on their Casio shows teenage angst on full display. The rest of the album follows common trends and is difficult to differentiate some songs, but the real draw of the band is that of their young leader in command. Fiercely jamming on the guitar, almost as if trying to rid demons of his past, tugging on the whammy bar at any chance possible. Wiping the sweat off his forehead, Joseph’s cracking voice goes in and out of whisper to full out screaming bloody murder. Cymbals Eat Guitars’ youthful and exciting new energy has drawn listeners all across the country to open their ears. “Why there are Mountains” is the definition of a successful debut album, here’s hoping the young guns of Cymbals Eat Guitars don’t lose their ammunition. -Alex Daniel Johnston: Is and Always Was Eternal Yip Eye Music; 2009
I saw Daniel Johnston perform live in the summer of 2007. It was a monumental moment for me—the man’s music meant and continues to mean so much to me. It should have been an amazing experience; he played well, seemed happy and healthy, and I even got to go backstage to meet him—but the night was marred when, backstage, I uncomfortably witnessed the aging legend sloppily make out with a (most likely) strung out groupie. To this day I still don’t know exactly how I feel about that night. I feel similarly confused after listening to his latest effort, Is and Always Was. Simply put, the new album is only mediocre at best. It is obviously a Daniel Johnston album—his trademark lisp and his childlike-yet-incredible way with words are present, but his songs on this album have been man-handled by some big-name producer (Jason Falkner, who’s worked with Beck and Paul McCartney). As a result, the sound is bigger, more mastered, and oftentimes, too overpowering. Tracks like “Queenie the Doggie” (complete with dog barks and ice-cream truckesque flourishes), “Without You,” and the revamped version of “I Had Lost My Mind” are evidence of this excessiveness, which ultimately makes the songs sound a little too forced. It is only when Falkner lays off the heavy glossing that the songwriting genius of Johnston is allowed to shine through. “Tears,” by far the best song on the album, is appropriately stripped down given its lyrical weight. After that night in 2007, I tried to block that particular image of the songwriter from my head. I may do the same with Is and Always Was; I will overlook it. It may not be one of my favorite releases by Johnston, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is still one of my favorite artists. -Emily Devendra Banhart: What Will We Be Warner Brothers Records; 2009
Devendra Banhart, known for his high energy on and off stage has recently debuted his seventh studio album What Will We Be, which was released on Warner Brother Records. On previous albums, Banhart has delivered bizarre, “in-your-face,” folk music, which has earned him the name of “Freak Folk.” His application of the Spanish language and sound have also caused his music to be under the category of “Naturalismo.” An accompaniment to his 2007 album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, What Will We Be delivers a more distinct free, relaxed, mellowed out version, perfect for laid-back evenings. Being released on a major record label this time around, Banhart’s voice is a bit more enhanced, decreasing the penetrating effect of his trembling voice. With this said, the album’s overall sound is a little bit unlike his previous work but still continues to be beautiful in its own way. With songs such as “Angelika”, with pleasant, heart filling tunes, guitar plucking, serene vocals, and distant whispers accompanied with “Baby,” the most popular of all, Banhart continues his quest of creating charming folk music. Like Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, fans can expect to hear the sound of collaboration with Los Hermanos/Little Joy’s Rodrigo Amarante, Greg Rosgrove, as well as others. Banhart’s new album being released on a major label may worry his followers in fear he may become a “sellout,” but for now, let’s enjoy his music and worry about the future at a later time. -Stephanie
Harlem Shakes: Technicolor Health Gigantic Music; 2009
Though officially broken up back in September, fans (and new fans) of Brooklyn based band Harlem Shakes will indeed treasure their last album Technicolor Health, released back in March. In this album, Lexi’s (lead singer) amazing pipes pierce through as he sings his heart out throughout the album. It may be true that their sound is very familiar to that of Vampire Weekend, but immediately after pressing “play” on your player, Harlem Shake’s music will blast your headphones with their idiosyncratic sound. Full of poppy, joyful tunes, Harlem Shakes takes you back to the good ‘ol days when indie rock was all about creating some awesome notes and playing them with your mates. Once after listening to one song on Technicolor Health, something takes over; like a drug, it only makes you want more. Songs such as “Nothing but Change Part 2” only makes listeners want to dance and sing along with Lexy to their lungs. In “Strictly Game,” the optimistic lyrics, “this will be a better year” might describe the future of the members as they make their way to new projects and new experiences, but it only saddens fans as they say goodbye to a great band. Harlem Shakes successfully conclude their journey together by delivering one of indie rock’s best albums of the year. -Stephanie Hudson Mohawke: Butter Warp Records; 2009
Its been a year since HudMo began gathering momentum, wetting our appetites with groundbreaking tracks like “Still on It” and “Polkadot Blues” put out on Myspace and Youtube. Finally, he had his big break by releasing his first full-length album on Warp. Butter is certainly original, in a post-modern kind of way and pretty brave, too. The production style is very unique; it sounds like it’s been made on an old Casio keyboard but simultaneously kicking out some huge sounds. Unfortunately, Hudson never seems to quite pull it off as well as he should. Along with people like Mike Slott (friend and collaborator), he is credited with taking messy hip-hop beats to new heights. Unlike Slott, who’s scattered beats build infectious quirky rhythms, Hudson’s beats are starting to seem just plain sloppy. What’s more quite a few of the tracks on the album have been knocking around the internet for months. “Fuse” is the best effort while “Just Decided” has a retro synth charm, but collectively a bit of a let down from one of the Glitch-Hop movement’s biggest hopes. The noisemakers from Providence attack our ears once again. Propelled along by the frantic octopus-armed drumming of Brian Chippendale, Earthly Delights careens from riff to riff, with what sounds like an East Coast thunder squall and a digital delay pedal being blown apart, bit by bit. The vocals are used as another percussion instrument, coming in and out of songs with one or two syllable chanted explosions. On “Rain On Lake I’m Swimming In,” the cacophony settles down a little bit with a Harmonia-esque delay workout that includes a Woody Woodpecker vocal inflection sung through what sounds like a speak and spell microphone. With such heaviness strewn throughout, my only complaint is that either the snare head is too tight or the snare is really shallow. I would have loved to have the drums with more definition. But that’s a small complaint. Earthly Delights has more focused songs than previous Lightning Bolt offerings, which allows for a rewarding listening experience. -Jack Memory Tapes: Seek Magic HSR; 2009
Memory Tapes first full length album, Seek Magic plays itself out like a middle-of-theeighties-madchester album. The influences come up pretty significantly on every track, drenched in reverb with distantly warm vocals. ‘Green Knight’s guitar work mimics Benard Sumner’s guitar work of early New Order before diving into in the second half of the song, with synthesizers and effected guitars oozing together in a state of electro-dance. ‘Plain Material’s humming synthesizer and church bell like guitar flow together and feels as if its the soundtrack to some midnight drive through the fog, distant lights flickering from the horizon before dipping into a underpass and into the busy intersections. The latter
of their songs run together well, although the drum work remains at most times at the standard dance club tempo or chill ambiance, and maybe a little too lackluster to carry the weakest songs on the album. However, the strongest tracks make up for this, making the album a definite satisfaction, expect to see these guys playing at the Hacienda 2.5, and any nostalgically bitter fan still holding onto their Stone Roses records while crying should take up these guys for the proper cure to their woes. -Daniel Portico Quartet: Isla Real World; 2009
The debut album Knee Deep in the North Sea was always the outside runner of 2008’s Mercury Music Prize nominees but to be even nominated at all was a surprise. Described as an Indie band that plays Post-Jazz, the London four-piece are surprisingly young to be producing music with not only so much technical ability but also such creative vision. Still pretty underground but with a rapidly growing cult following, Portico Quartet continues to prove that Jazz can have a wide appeal and still keep it’s integrity. Their sophomore album Isla remarkably keeps hold of the charm of their first album-- even taking it further. The addition of a loop pedal (used by saxophonist Jack Wyllie) and a third hang drum (the rare and much sought after instrument that defines the band) gives their pieces an increased possibilities. The album was recorded at Abbey Road studios, so it’s not surprising that the production values are perfectly refined. “Line” is a mesmeric, shifting, low-key masterpiece, whilst “Paper, Scissors, Stone” is the head-nodding opener. -Jack The Swell Season: Strict Joy Anti; 2009
The Swell Season has truly been one of the more successful bands in recent music history. In 2007, the duo of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won the Academy Award for best original song for “Falling Slowly” in the film Once (which the duo starred in). Their selftitled album and the original soundtrack for Once both gained enormous critical and commercial success and the duo’s openly displayed romantic relationship was highly discussed in media and public. Presently, Hansard and Irglova are no longer romantically involved, and they have just released a new album entitled Strict Joy. When discussing the latest album Hansard explains “For me, it’s just an audio diary. It’s just another installment of the life we lead.” Strict Joy does just that, it chronicles the next installment in the duos individual lives and the remaining bits if their still is a romantic relationship. The album opens to Hansard yelping “I wanna sit you down and talk, I wanna pull back the veils and find out what it is I’ve done wrong”, A desperate grab at his lover’s attention. The rest of opening track “Low Rising” continues with Hansard yelping and rapid guitar-string plucking, of which is a common trend for the rest of the album’s songs. In specific songs “I have loved you wrong” and “The Rain” the intimacy meter is catapulted upward. We, as listeners, are now intruders and flies on the wall as we watch and listen to Hansard and Irglova hash out what went wrong in their relationship.Hansard heart broken explains “I know we’re not where I promised you we’d be by now, but maybe it’s a question of who’d want it anyhow”. The album in a whole is a wonderful folk pop album, Filled with romance and emotion, with guitar plucking, harmonica blowing, and organic music spewing out of each and every song. For some this may be a turn or off but the album may get old and tiring a bit quickly, which really brings nothing new to the table. Nevertheless, Strict Joy is very similar to that of a good old Van Morrisson record, and more importantly The Swell Season maintains that honest and authentic sounds they simply perfect. -Alex White Rainbow: New Clouds kranky; 2009
White Rainbow’s new album is not a thing to rush through. In fact, New Clouds, clocking in at nearly 70 minutes sprawled over four tracks, is pretty much impossible to speed through-- doing so would defeat the purpose of psychedelic-ambient-noise-bro Adam
Forkner’s newest offering. The point is to really take your time to listen and hear all the different sounds and textures—the shifting moods and pulsing beats, the gentle washes of guitar and drone—that have found their places together in an intricate and aurally pleasing soundscape; that, or to have one hell of a trip (if you are of the ilk that partakes in mindaltering substances). Whichever suits your fancy. “Tuesday Rollers and Strollers” starts New Clouds off, and immediately reassures listeners that this experimental album is not of the prolonged single note of drone variety. There is movement, there is excitement, and there is life in these pieces. Echoing chants come in hazy waves over a steady maraca percussion loop. The song progresses and morphs, it takes its time building up and then decrescendos out; this and the subsequent tracks may be lengthy, but they are nowhere near boring. On New Clouds, Forkner tinkers with his electronics and (forgive me if this sounds like New Age garbage) successfully induces an otherworldly listening experience. Drugs optional. -Emily Why?: Eskimo Snow Anticon; 2009
Commonly, a band’s music is categorized into a specific genre but for few bands, choosing one genre is almost impossible to do. A perfect example of this scenario is the Cincinnati based group, Why?. The band’s earlier and previous records are non-mistakenly rap/ hiphop records. In fact the Anticon label which Why? is currently apart of, Is heavily hip-hop based. But with their latest release “Eskimo Snow” the band has jumped ship in a rapid and drastic fashion. From hip-hop, Why? is now treading on Pop/Folk/ Indie rock waters. Lead singer of the group Yani Wolf describes “Eskimo Snow” as: “Really the least hip-hop out of anything I’ve ever been involved with.” Along with older brother Josiah Wolf, Yani uses the album as his personal experiment with yet another genre. The fascinating aspect of the album is definitely its mature situations which Yani so vividly elaborates; situations involving stalkers, guilty pleasures, and plain criticism. Yani shares his pain and confused mind with the listener. In album standout “This Blackest Purse”, elegant piano sets the backdrop then Yani’s nasally raspy voice softly confides of his concerns, pet peeves, and desperate pleads of an answer in the track’s chorus: “Should our hero’s hands be holding this blackest purse? Mom, am I failing or worse? What should these earnest hands be holding?” The beautiful song concludes with those words, a boy’s desperate plead for his mother’s approval. Yani Wolf, a man who has gone through and has seen many troubles, has been reduced to a boy, whimpering for his own mother. The dark themes of “Eskimo Snow” are presented in a sugary pop tune, which makes every song catchy and creating great replay value. The album, though, does have flaws in the fact that every song does heavily depend on the sugary hooks. The lack of diversity definitely is noticeable. The album in a whole may be inferior to 2008’s “Alopecia” album. But “Eskimo Snow” does succeed in other separate ways. With some of the group’s fans furious with the groups decision to once again experiment with new sounds, Why? ends the album with choice words: “Bearing my watery fruits if fruits at all. And I’m still here. Barely understanding what truth that rarely calls.” -Alex YACHT- See Mystery Lights DFA Records; 2009
Ingenuity and a sense of invention can take pop music a long way, and YACHT’s debut is living proof of that. From the onset, it’s a piece of recorded dynamism, melodically complex and rhythmically diverse. It’s difficult to imagine that bands like this can still exists, so toying with pop pleasures while still managing to maintain a marked degree of originality, which is one of the reasons why See Mystery Lights is so consummately enjoyable. Tracks like “The Afterlife” with its delicious tune and literate lyrics show a powerful sense of both wit and musicianship- this record was created with skill. “Psychic City” is a soft boomboxbeat number with a great vocal hook. “Summer Song” ups the sleaze and the funk while “I’m In Love With A Ripper” trips on electro wires. They have fun and use the sounds of decades past and present as their playthings. Best part of all, they invite the listener to join them—who are any of us to refuse such an invitation? -Daniel
CHRISTIAN JOY by Callie Rice photos by Nick Zinner
What do the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, grilled cheese sandwiches, the state of Iowa, and The Lord of The Rings Trilogy all have in common – the affections of Christiane Joy Hultquist. This proud Iowan native now resides in Brooklyn, costuming Karen O and the Klaxons in outrageous garments. Hultquist is creative and aggressive, similar to her pieces. She holds a strong distaste in pattern making and CNN News, a great fear of ghosts; but a bottomless appreciation of the peculiarities of the world – which in her eyes include David Bowie. Hulquist’s desire to succeed took her from corner antique shop employee to a renowned designer analogous to the word unique. She makes her outlandish creations out of her apartment and is unlikely to return to collection designing. So what? Hultquist uses some of the most bizarre materials on her fashions. Exhibit A: packing tape. Exhibit B: Pasta. All in hopes of inspiring us to create and maybe even break a few rules. After all, her favorite childhood memory is sitting outside her brother’s room listening to Madonna- there’s no room for bland for Hultquist.
How did you get involved in costuming?
What does your favorite creation look like?
It was by accident. I had moved to NYC and I was working at a store called Antique Boutique which used to be where American Apparel is now on Broadway. The store carried a lot of small designers and I just figured that I could deisign too so I gave it a shot. I started off creating one of a kind tees which I sold at a store called Timtoum on Orchard Street and then I basically moved up from there creating one of a kind prom dresses. Karen O saw one of the dresses and asked me to make one for a show the YYY’s were playing at the cooler here in NY and then it just sort of took off from there. That’s how I got
What inspires you most?
David bowie as Ziggy Stardust. The costumes made for him by Kansai Yamamoto. I love how otherworldly David Bowie is. He’s totally androgynous and very alien like. What brought your focus to costumes?
Working with Karen O. I basically started making clothes and then Karen and I met and then the YYY’s started getting tons of press Explain your relationship with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Karen and I knew eachother before the YYY’s began or I began making clothes. We were aquaintances. Basically I make KO’s costumes and then deliver them to her the day of the show or before they leave on tour so she never knows what she’s going to get. It’s probably the costume Karen wore at Glastonbury. It’s a native american headdress created with hands. The hands all have eyes in the palms. It’s super colorful and pretty psychadelic. She wore it with a loin cloth-esque jumpsuit that also had hands and fring hanging from it. It looked similar to the headdress. She also wore a shrimp print cape with sequence. What is your favorite part of your career?
The beginning when everything started to happen. All of the insane energy.
HENRIK VIBSKOV by Michelle Nguyen photos by asdfghjkl
Standing at six foot and five inches tall, Henrik Vibskov’s personality is as large as his stature – his ideas are even larger than life. “The presentation was about laundry, simply the act of doing one’s laundry,” Vibskov says about his Autumn/Winter ‘09 collection. Stumbling upon his fashion interest accidentally, his inspirations were initially started by, of course, a girl. More generally, he is influenced by his “floating mind” as his ideas melt, and merge together to slowly shape his overall themes. Mixing colors of his mass natural-colored landscaped hometown of Jutland, Denmark, Vibskov’s designs consist of popping colors as well as detailing to shapes and figures. His ideas for this season focuses on the illusionists and magicians of a nineteenth century carnival, along with the American pilgrimage and Californian 70’s hippie culture; creating a very eclectic, theatrical look, yet keeping the pieces practical. Consisting of oversized hammer pants for the daring and pajama-like leggings for the restful, Vibskov balances his use of extreme color with the use of contrasting proportions; meaning using more subtle colors for strong hip shapes, and bangin’ colors for his more figure-friendly pieces. While being inspired by the world around him, mainly through travels and close friends, Vibskov states that he dismisses negative, as well as positive comments about his work – “Oh, there is always room for improvement.” Trying to accurately describe Henrik’s designer style in a short phrase in unimaginable. For the more minimalistic admirers, his online shop includes pieces that will quench Winter thirsts; for the daring, not only will his creations keep you warm, they’ll keep you asking for more. Vibskov’s eclectic fingertips have made a piece for every shape and every taste. When Vibskov isn’t playing drums or sailing on the canal, he is observing and concocting up designs for future collections.
CORRELLCORRELL by Krystal Miranda photos by Isabel Asha Penzlien
Growing up in Black Forest, Germany, Daphne and Vera Correll lived in a town filled with yarn manufacturing companies, so naturally, it was inevitable that they began to knit at a very young age. And since then, this skill has carried on and entered their line, CorrellCorrell, and is the major aspect of their work that makes their designs eclectic and unique. Scrolling through their collections, starting back in 2004, it’s obvious that the sisters have undergone some stylistic changes. What started off as a mere t-shirt-oriented line has further emerged into a collection made up of soft, detailed knits and pieces that are truly one-of-a-kind, which is exactly what the Corrells’ are aiming for. They attribute their progression to the fact that “[they] don’t try to do ten million things at the same time anymore”, and their focus, depth, and attention to the little things have been made clear through their simple yet classic pieces. With their latest collection, Daphne and Vera describe it to be a sort of experiment, with the basis in their current residency, New York. Observing the people on the street, they noticed an abundance of “hi-tech” wear, and hope to create a collection that contrasts this idea. Using their own methods and manufacturing, the Corrells utilize knits, cotton, and light fabrics to create clothing that is soft, natural, and perfectly irregular. It’s somewhat hard to describe a line such as CorrellCorrell’s; while each piece is unusual and a bit random, they all tie together and generate a style that is fresh and simple. Intricate, geometric, eccentric, colorful, delicate; what first appears to be unpredictable turns into something contemporary and wearable, and Daphne and Vera wouldn’t have it any other way.
INDEX Abshalom Jac Lahav www.actiondocument.com Andrew Lister www.andrew-lister.co.uk Aris Zenone www.ariszenone.ch Asobi Seksu www.asobiseksu.com Christian Joy www.christianjoy.us CorrellCorrell www.daphneandveracorrell.com Foolâ€™s Gold www.myspace.com/foolsgold Henrik Vibskov www.henrikvibskov.com
Hideyuki Katsumata www.myspace.com/hideyuki_k Joshua Callaghan www.joshuacallaghan.com Matt Adams www.mattadamsdesign.com Mike Giesser www.mgiesser.com Nick Zinner www.eyeagainsteye.wordpress.com Nosaj Thing www.nosajthing.com Patric Sandri www.patricsandri.com Phil Yamada www.philyamada.com
Rafa Castells www.flickr.com/photos/rcastells Richard Skelton www.sustain-release.co.uk Rita Botelho www.ritabotelho.com Sun K. Kwak N/A Wax Tailor www.waxtailor.com The xx www.thexx.info