We Promised breaks with tradition. In our musiczine we focus on the most interesting foreign bands of the moment. The ones that don’t get enough attention in Belgian media; bands who often don’t make it to the end of year lists but still produce music of high quality. With a fresh outlook on the music scene We Promised goes for the bands it believes in, not necessarily for the hyped ones. Two hundred and fifty unique copies of the magazine will be lying around at Café Video, Music Mania, the Democrazy gigs & Dance Dance Dance (A Blog Party).
We Promised is
Gerlin Heestermans (http://neonenlightenment.be) Kasper – Jan Raeman (http://ieatcrabfood.wordpress.com).
A special thanks to
Hermine (http://hermine.me) for the lay-out Nel (http://pullmybauhaus.wordpress.com) for The Sound of Silence (a story that unfortunately doesn’t appear in this English version) Katrien Schuermans for the piece about Woodsman Democrazy (http://www.democrazy.be) and Trendwolves (http://www.trendwolves.com) for sponsoring. We Promised online: http://wepromised.wordpress.com
Prologue 2 The Jezabels 4 Oberhofer 5 Veronica Falls 6 Yuck 9 The Soft Moon 10 Idiot Glee 11 Jamie Woon 14 Frankie & The Heartstrings 15 Mark Bowen (Wichita) 18 Cloud Nothings 20 Suuns 21 Austra 22 PLUG 23 Trophy Wife 24 Sharon Van Etten 26 Woodsman 27
It doesn’t always have to be all about the US or the UK, Australia definitely has something to offer too, musicwise. And at the moment, it’s this quartet for me. The Jezabels are another band who have been around for a couple of years, but have only managed to win over hearts in the other continents the past year. All thanks to their third ep Dark Storm, which completely transcends their first two 4
efforts. The Jezabels definitely like some drama (think Kate Bush), which is reflected in their lyrics as well as their melodies. A story is often unravelled and you may feel like you’ve entered a completely different world. This band is a true gem. Here’s to hoping they’ll be coming out with a full album next year and a European tour short after. Check it out: Mace Spray
ÂŠ Kristin Y. Kim
Oberhofer is the perfect cure for this dreary winter weather. Founder of the one man band Brad Oberhofer is one of those kids who surprised the world with his bedroomrecordings (that turned out to be excellent and original popsongs) in 2010. The 20 year old New Yorker combines quirky melodies with psychedelic folk and possesses an
extraordinarily flexible voice. And live this young genius creates a sparkling set backed up by three extra band members. After a mere 5 gigs 2010 saw Oberhofer open up shows for The Morning Benders, Small Black and Beach Fossils. This year heâ€™s ready to win over the audience on his own. For fans of Pavement and Animal Collective 5
Discovered at the start of 2010 and immediately sold. Veronica Falls make dark popsongs (their single Found Love In A Graveyard immediately proves my point) with a high sing-along and bop-along degree. Debutalbum in the Spring of 2011! I can hardly wait. They played Ghent at the start of September 2010 and I had a short talk with James, Patrick, Roxanne and Marion. When, how and why did Veronica Falls start? Roxanne: well, me and 6
Patrick had moved from Glasgow to London and weâ€™d been in bands before together. We met James and started a band together. James: we spent a long time rehearsing in a studio we had â€“ a free studio. So we were living the dream for a while, not paying. Patrick: it was very much like something we could never afford, it was very luxurious. There would always be lots of art openings around so we could have free beer in the street. It was kind of too good to be true.
© Robin Silas
James: we started playing with different bassplayers, temporary ones, friends of mine before we recruited Marion. Marion: they were hotter than me. James: one of them was
definitely hotter than you. Roxanne: we wanted a girl basically. Marion: no no that’s not entirely true. James wanted a girl who looked like she didn’t go out 7
much. (chuckling from everyone, James is very vague about this) If your band was a cult, then which rules would your members have to live by? Roxanne: no drinking before playing. Marion: riding a bike, I think. Patrick: no smoking weed. James: never smoke weed, EVER! (let’s just say there was a little bit of a negative experience with it the day before, ed.) Roxanne: no sportswear. Patrick: well I don’t agree 8
with that at all. Roxanne: what with your sports casual look? Patrick: yeah. Every decision we make should be agreed upon by everyone. We are definitely a cult. Marion: we haven’t got a guru though. I think our tour manager, Mido, should be. James: yeah, he’s taught us a lot. You learnt about architecture from him, remember? (this is correct. Mido taught me Van De Velde’s work is brutalist architecture ed.)
Check it out: Beachy Head
You might have already seen them on the BBC Sound of 2011 list, this international band with four to five members – ranging from London over Hiroshima to New Jersey. They rose from the ashes of Cajun Dance Party but have chosen an entirely different path in the meanwhile.
Blood Red Shoes? Yuck is another band who reverts back to the grunge era. No sing-along choruses to be found however, instead a layer of distortion is draped over every song. But they can show their soft side too – just listen to Automatic (“I was always an automatic, don’t assume I’m in control”).
You might have heard of
Check it out: Georgia. 9
The Soft Moon conceived one of the scariest records of the past couple of years with his self-titled debut. It was created in the deepest caverns of San Francisco. Luis Vasquez seems to be stuck in the era where gothic rock and new wave dominated the music scene. It had an audience thirty years ago, but this ice king succeeds in surprising everyone with it in the here and now. The pace in which these songs race towards you, blow you away. The danger in The Soft Moon’s 10
music seems to be coming from everywhere and Vasquez’ panting doesn’t allow you one moment of rest. The Soft Moon is an adrenaline kick you will want to relive time and time again. For fans of Bauhaus and The Cure
In September of last year I saw Women â€“ who, by the way, made one of the best records of 2010 â€“ live twice in the Netherlands. Both times they were supported by the young James Friley, also known as Idiot Glee. What he does seems pretty simple: hit some notes on his keyboard and drape his deep voice across it. Live, however, you can notice that he works with loops, which he creates on the spot (see also Andrew Bird or tUnEyArDs). This makes for a beautiful combination,
but it gets even more intriguing when he is backed up by a full band. For now he only plays solo shows but James has big plans for the future... When did you start Idiot Glee? When did you start making music? When I was about 7. I started Idiot Glee in July or September 2009. Before that I played a couple of shows under my own name or under the name Happy Day (which is also one of my songs). When I was little I made 11
© Nick Helderman
piano songs, I’ve been taking piano lessons forever. I actually studied piano but dropped out of college. I have 85 hours towards a degree but I haven’t finished it yet. When I have a whole 12
semester of free time I’ll finish it (laughs). Have you ever considered touring with a full band? When I saw you play in September, Women backed you
up for one song and I thought it sounded AMAZING. I want to, sometime after the first album comes out in April. I’ll probably come back to do some touring solo and then I wanna do something with a two- or threepiece band, maybe even fourpiece. I miss it really bad. Playing with a full band is so different and I get into it a lot more when I’m playing a show. If your band was a cult then what rules would the members have to live by? Sorry if this is offensive in any way. (James is Mormon, ed.) Haha it’s not offensive
don’t worry. Just to be sarcastic and drink Purple Kool-Aid all the time I think. Did you hear of that massacre? There was a massacre that this cult started somewhere in America where people were led into the jungle and they made them drink Kool-Aid and they all died. Everybody knows about it but not over here I guess. It’s a sugary kids drink with grapes. I was just trying to be funny. But obviously it’s not very funny now (laughs). Also, drinking soda water is not allowed! Check it out: All Packed Up 13
The revival of old school R&B and hip-hop within electronic and popmusic was one of the most interesting trends of the past two years. Among The XX, James Blake and Mount Kimbie we can now count Jamie Woon, who convinces one and all with a crossover between these genres. Itâ€™s not just his dark beats that strangle 14
you, what makes him stand out from being just another songwriter is the intimacy of his warm voice. If his new album possesses the same narcotic power as single Night Air, then we are in for a treat! For fans of Prince and The XX
Why everyone in the UK is so crazy about Frankie Francis? Cause he’s one of the people! With his band The Heartstrings this chick magnet has been putting on shows for barely a year but when you see him singing diligently or crooning or dancing, you can just feel that he was born to entertain. You can definitely call it a talent. Frankie collages 50 years of pop music, which doesn’t seem all that original, but the fire
in this chap works contagiously and give each song a personal touch. I discovered Frankie & The Heartstrings a little over a year ago and I feel like so much has changed since then. How about you? Michael: well we’ve had a line-up change, for one thing. We’ve now got Mick. Frankie: Pete (former member and producer of their earlier work, also exKenickie member) was 15
© Andy Wisher
only in the band cause we recorded demos with him. We needed seomeone to play guitar live so he did that. He’s kinda done it before with Kenickie and all that. He doesn’t really wanna tour. We needed someone who was a better musician and who brought ideas in in the practice room. Dave: we couldn’t get 16
that person.. Frankie: so we got Mick! (everyone laughs) Michael: Well, what else is changed is that we signed to Wichita which meant we got to leave our jobs and which also meant we got to tour a lot more. Dave: Frankie started shaving. Michael: we got more time to rehearse so I
also think we sound a lot tighter. Dave: regarding relationships, we haven’t got a lot of them left cause we’re never home. Everyone hates us: girlfriends, friends, family.
everyone. It means thank you. Dave: arigato! We’ve learnt some Dutch too ‘frugel schnudel dudel’.
It’s almost December which means it’s almost a new year. What Have you learnt any events in 2011 are you new words from visiting looking forward to? new countries? Frankie: album comMichael: Arigato! ing out, on the 21st of Dave: Arigato! February. Coming back Frankie: Arigato! to Europe and Japan. Mick: bonjour. I’d never America… heard that one. Michael: we’re looking Frankie: we learnt Sinforward to prince William terklaas (the Belgian/ getting married. Dutch equivalent to Frankie: we might write a Santa Claus, basically song to commemorate. ed.). Michael: when we were in Japan we just shouted For fans of Buddy Holly ‘arigato!’ everywhere to and The Cribs 17
name but a few. And I’m pretty sure Wichita will keep working with amazing and groundbreaking artists all throughout their future. We Promised paid the Wichita office in London a visit and listened to what co-founder Mark Bowen had to say. In between the thousands of album releases, Wichita Records celebrated its tenth birthday the past year. The British independent label has launched some of the most creative artists of the past decade: Bright Eyes, Bloc Party and Simian Mobile Disco, to 18
Congrats. Two of the fifteen bands we’ve nominated are on WIchita Records. How did you discover these talents? That’s wonderful news! We’re very proud, as with many of our acts they came through personal recommendation. Cloud
Nothings by their US agent who was raving about this 17 year old who was locked away in Ohio recording all these amazing singles for different labels playing all the instruments himself. I had to check him out myself and was amazed to find him inspired by Hüsker Dü, one of my favourite bands from when I was 17! Frankie I learnt about through their former guitarist Pete. I went up to Newcastle to see them play and couldn’t believe what a great band they were already with this incredible frontman. Love at first sight.
Were do you want to be in ten years? And what do you expect of the music industry in the next few years? Still being able to make a living though music I hope. The saddest thing about the last few years for me has been the way that music/art has become so devalued. It’s become harder and harder to work with it as a full time job. As an industry, if we can’t find a way to make people see the worth in what we do soon then I fear that more and more artists and labels big and small will be forced out of it. 19
18 years young. Dylan Baldi. Cleveland, Ohio. Jangly guitar pop. This is basically all you need to know about Cloud Nothings. How that sounds? As if a couple of youngsters have been jamming in a garage, sang on top of that and recorded it on the spot. The truth is only slightly different: Dylan actually does all of it himself. Live he gets the help of a couple of 20
friends. It is then that you also notice just how strong a voice he has. All of his demos sound very lo-fi but not to worry, his debut takes a step back from this and sounds more like the live experience: tighter and cleaner. Hey Cool Kid, go see that live! Check it out: Understand At All
Suuns are ready to break down boundaries! They brought out their fantastic debut Zeroes QC in 2010 and are ready to tour mainland Europe later in the year. Zeroes QC is beautiful in its restraint: whispering, frugal and still impressive, it’s not something a lot of bands can pull off. If they are just as unexpected in their live performance as they are on record then
we can expect quite a lot, that much is sure. Suuns hail from the creative heart of Canada, Montreal. They’re signed to Secretly Canadian and share their place on that label with, among others, Here We Go Magic, Yeasayer and jj. There’s definitely worse company to be around, if you ask me. Check it out: Arena 21
Austra is like a devil in a box. This trio, led by Katie Stelmanis, were still complete nobodies a couple of months ago. But the release of their six minute long bomb Beat and the Pulse left everyone completely enthralled - and rightly so. Musicwise, these Canadians are on crossroads 22
between New Wave and New Beat with their soot black electro. Finally a band that demolishes the boundaries between the venue and the club without sounding too smooth. For fans of Bauhaus and Front 242
Less is more, PLUG goes back to basics. Armed with just a keyboard and drums, the duo Sian Dorrer and Georgie Nettell create an entire landscape filled with obscure melodies. Even though their self-titled debut didn’t get the recognition it deserved, you can still count these two girls amongst the most interesting bands of the
moment. What makes this London based couple so unique is the hypnotising combination of doom-y, monotone rhythms – like the ones the sexton plays in the church – and the clear timbres of their voices. PLUG in two words: spookily excellent. For fans of Roxy Music and Cocteau Twins. 23
Trophy Wife like to get crafty. They decompose songs to the bone and then rebuild them with completely different rhythms. The finest example is probably their interpretation of Joanna Newsom’s The Book of Right-On, which they transformed into a sparkling popsong. Live their set turns into exhilarating electronica that seems to come straight from the era of The Hacienda in Manchester. Diversity, creativity and contrariness are the pillars of their philosophy and these are guaranteed to make Trophy Wife one of the most colourful bands 24
of 2011. Why does an electronic band cover the folksong The Book Of Right-On by Joanna Newsom? Jody: that’s actually the very reason why we started Trophy Wife. Our bedroom recordings sounded so solid that we immediately wanted to write new songs. We’re always looking to push ourselves. Live we end with The Book of RightOn every time, it’s the cherry on the cake!
When played live, your songs are more danceable but I’ve also heard a couple of songs acoustic. Is it important for you to play live in different ways? Jody: we’ve always wanted to make dance music and the way we wanted to play these songs live had a big influence on the songwriting. Ben: Trophy Wife will always be a band that never stands still. I think we’ve grown enormously when you compare us to how we first started out and I don’t think the growing will ever stop. We’ll keep experimenting in the future with different genres. You released your first single Microlite on
Moshi Moshi. Is there gonna be an album in 2011? Jody: for the moment we’ve still got a huge amount of work to refine our songs and write now ones. An album is a little too soon, still. Ben: there will be a new single out on Moshi Moshi in February though. And have you got any exciting gigs planned for the future? Jody: at the end of December (2010) we’re playing at a festival in Sri Lanka for the orphans of the tsunami. I think that’s gonna be a huge experience. For fans of New Order and Talking Heads 25
© Anika Mottershaw
Sharon isn’t exactly new to the scene. She’s been doing this for a couple of years but has only now seemed to gain a foothold – and rightly so. You might already know her from her contribution to several tracks on The Antlers’ Hospice (make sure to check out the gorgeous Wake) but believe me when I say 26
there’s so much more she has to offer. Sharon’s songs are often fragile: a combination of just her voice and a guitar. But those with a broader orchestration are just as beautiful. Whatever she does or contributes to, the result is divine. Check it out: For You
Woodsman is an experimental post-psychedelic outfit from Denver with an indescribable preference for krautrock and tribal dronescapes. Their sound: samples captured in endless loops that revert back to the LSD-sound of bands like Gang Gang Dance or Panda Bear. Everything is flowy, dreamy and floats like the experimental
films by Stan Brakhage. Visually alienating, even when sober. Auditory addictive because an unknown cosmos opens up for you layer after layer with one secret ingredient: a pop sensitivity that keeps the sparseness compact. For fans of Brian Eno and Emeralds. 27
We Promised breaks with tradition. In our musiczine we focus on the most interesting foreign bands of the moment. The ones that don’t get en...