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One of our multi-talented local acts to perform at this year's Culture Shock is brz. We invited the self-proclaimed abstraction to shop at Landlocked Music where we talked about his range of artistic influences and his upcoming projects.
Top Picks by brz
1. Camp - Childish Gambino
2. Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Fitzgerald, (1965)
3. Blue Bucket of Gold Live 12" Single + Hotline Bling Live (ft. Gallant) - Sufjan Stevens
4. The Shining - J Dilla
5. Live in Berkeley 1978 - Gil Scott-Heron & The Midnight Band
6. Porgy and Bess - Miles Davis
Special thanks to brz, Kenlynn Albright, and Landlocked Music!
You can see brz perform live at Culture Shock this Saturday, April 14th at Rhino's!
The origins of the Philly-based band, Joy Again, are almost mythic. The five members met while in boarding school and started making music to process their surroundings. We learned in an interview with Crybaby Zine that the name, Joy Again, follows a timeline like this. Band names themselves after crush named Joy. Crush finds out and gets mad. Band renames to "Forever Lesbians". Band keeps that name for about a year then feels they want the name of Joy, again. The band is in no shortage of magic as after some time playing in the Philly DIY-scene, they caught the attention of the limitless Shamir, who now also manages Joy Again.
The up-and-coming band is composed of Arthur Shea and Sachi DiSerafino who do vocals and play bass and guitar, Blaise O'Brien on the guitar and bass, Noah Burke on the keyboards, and Saint Sean Henry III on the drums. Joy Again has a blend of energy but also a tenderness that makes them sound like a '90s coming of age soundtrack. Fans of Big Thief and Slow Hollows will also enjoy Joy Again.
Here are five essential songs by Joy Again to get you acquainted with them if you haven't had the pleasure already.
Their most popular song, “Looking Out For You”, is both catchy and dreamy, as they croon about giving attention to someone who doesn’t seem to care.
Joy Again's "Another Song About Ghosts" plays like a sweet, indie lullaby but if you listen more closely, the warping of the voice hides the darker themes of loss and melancholy present in the lyrics.
"How You Feel" is a breezy post-breakup melody where self-awareness quickly turns to self-loathing as they attempt to talk to someone new.
Joy Again's most recent singles, "Kim" and "On A Farm", were released last September. "Kim" is a more uptempo song about feeling unworthy in front of one in a position of power whereas, "On A Farm" has a hazier feeling while they sing about needing a time for labor and a time to think.
Catch Joy Again's set at 6:15 this Culture Shock on Saturday, April 14th!
The sun is coming up earlier, the flowers are blooming, but all the while your nose is trying to sing a little tune! Along with the usual antihistamines and nasal irrigation systems, you always need a good playlist to divert and/or mask any whistling of the nose from potential onlookers/friends/suitors/etc. The key is to play all songs at FULL volume!
1. "Little of Your Love" - Haim
This song is not only a bop, but there's a lot going on so it's great for when you have just a lot of phlegm going on.
2. "The Times They Are A-Changin'" - Bob Dylan
If you've never heard of Bob Dylan, all you have to know is that his songs have a lot of harmonica interludes. Play this classic about political overthrow and social change when you have a nose that whistles just a little too much every time you attempt to exhale. Reflect on a time when there was no pollen or any dust irritants for you. It was a comfortable time, but was it necessary?
3. "Heart of Gold" - Neil Young
You may have a heart of gold, but you still have a whistle for a nose. To distract from that, use this song when you have mild nasal irritation. It's relaxing and has quite a bit of harmonica as well, so if someone hears your whistling nose, they'll just assume it's part of the song.
4. "Flute Sonata in E-Flat Major, BWV 1031: II. Siciliano" - Johann Sebastian Bach
Just thought I'd add a piece with a flute because that's what your nose is. A beautiful, but sad little flute.
5. "Caught A Lite Sneeze" - Tori Amos
As the title suggests, play this when you get an attack of the 3 sneezes in a row.
6. "Pills" - St. Vincent
Sorry St. Vincent, but I have a deviated septum which means I have to take some medication for my nose that doesn't want to work. You can dance to this as you attempt to search for a solution through WebMD, herbs, prayer, pills, anything!
7. "Just Like A Woman" - Bob Dylan
More harmonica! Listen while refreshing the weather page to see if the pollen count outside has gone down. (It won't...)
8. "BOOGIE" - BROCKHAMPTON
Refer to Song (1) for the same application. Do you hear that little siren in the background? That's our collective stuffy nose having an uncredited solo on this banger.
The annual one-day music festival led by WIUX is less than a month away. As someone who was new to Culture Shock and music festivals in general last year, here are some tips from yours truly to help you on this beautiful day.
1. Bring a water bottle
If all goes well, it’ll be a hot and sunny day for Culture Shock. Make sure you can last the whole day by bringing your trusty, ol’ Nalgene to avoid heatstroke and the line for bottled water. I made the mistake last year of prescribing myself more cold brew after becoming extremely dehydrated and thus, missed Post Animal! Do I still regret it? Yes, of course. You want to be as clear-headed as possible when you see <gasp> Chicano Batman and Milo perform.
2. Plan out your day accordingly
The official schedule for Culture Shock will be released soon so give yourself time to figure out who you want to see. Plan your festival day based on meal breaks or bathroom breaks or because you might just be plain tired.
3. Everyone’s free to wear sunscreen
This sentiment is not only the name of a fantastic, hypothetical commencement speech, but it is also some practical advice. Wear and/or bring sunscreen to Culture Shock so your skin doesn’t peel from the glorious sun while listening to some great artists.
4. Meet some new people
If you bring sunscreen, this will be a lot easier because people will come to you for the SPF. You’re welcome. If for any reason your friends decide not to come to Culture Shock, consider going alone. There will be plenty of people there for the music, so you’ll be in good company.
5. Try local vendors
If you’ve never ventured out of the Kirkwood strip for food and coffee, Culture Shock will be a great place to try local vendors including Rainbow Bakery and Hopscotch Coffee.
6. Wear shoes you wouldn’t mind getting ruined
This means something different for everyone but keep in mind that Culture Shock is held at Dunn Meadow with plenty of grass and mud. Also, wearing comfortable shoes are especially important when you’ll be standing for nearly 10 hours.
7. Bring earplugs, especially if you’re noise sensitive
This is basic concert advice but you can expect the speakers to do some wild things to your ears. If you’re sensitive to loud sounds or don’t go to shows often, bring some earbuds so you can take care of yourself while enjoying the event.
8. Consider bringing a blanket
If you don't mind the extra luggage, you can bring blankets to set on the grass and take little cat naps in between sets. I was envious of the many people who brought blankets last year. They looked so happy and relaxed…
9. No culturally appropriated fashion
Do I even have to explain this one?
10. Think about the space you’re occupying
For one last piece of advice that should go beyond just this beautiful day, remember that everyone is also here to have a good time. We will be in each other’s space but constantly check yourself that you are not making someone else uncomfortable. Make room so it can be accessible and not just for yourself. No discrimination or harassment of any kind will be tolerated because this is a safe space meant for all people to enjoy and experience!
Bring your fanny packs! Bring your beanies! And most importantly, bring your selves to April 14th at Dunn Meadow.
Adult Mom performed last Thursday night on February 8th at The Bishop. Seeing Adult Mom live was a fuller experience than listening to their albums alone because the band was so generous with the audience. The show felt like you were over at someone’s house with close friends instead of doing the social sway with strangers. They sound warmer on stage and because they perform live, it makes Adult Mom’s songs of romance and life feel more fruitful and of the moment. The songs sounded like they could be describing that same night.
The first opener was The Bills, a local punk rock band with lots of energy and sound reminiscent of The Julie Ruin. In “uh oh”, they reiterated the band’s name by trying to get the attention of the mysterious Bill. After The Bills was Chris Farren from Naples, Florida, who toured with Adult Mom. Chris Farren’s ability to pull off his high-intensity show alone was impressive. There was no one else on stage, just Chris Farren, his laptop, and his visuals projected with his music. He is a performer who leaves it all on stage. He makes his songs which are often about failure and death, hopeful and funny. My favorite song was definitely “Human Being”, where a projection of his face attached to a bean spun around and around as he howled into the night, “I just wanna feel like a human being!”
Not to be sacrilegious, but seeing Adult Mom was like Christmas day. They came out with all smiles and cheer. (See? This is Christmas.) The night was about rejecting those who’ve hurt you in the past and leaning into self-love. Even to the enthusiastic heckler, the band laughed it off and asked if they had a song request since they were so vocal about their enthusiasm. The fist-pumping heckler responded that they were just there to support.
They played “Be Your Own 3am” last and gave an encore to “2012”.
The night was filled with gems, but here were my top 5 moments:
Steph taught us how to do a Judy Garland impression. The key is to speak as if you have the longest cigarette in your mouth. They also added that the best performance that Judy Garland’s daughter, Liza Minnelli, gave was as Lucille 2 on Arrested Development.
“Told Ya So” is a song about the first time they came out to themselves.
Adult Mom’s favorite show growing up was The Big Comfy Couch. (And Clifford the Big Red Dog is a scam!)
A special addition to their setlist was a cover of “2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten” by Lucinda Williams, which ironically they kept forgetting the lyrics to.
Steph works as a substitute teacher and recently played name association games with their class. One slightly nervous 8-year old child gave a very rushed introduction as “Hummus Hakim”, who Steph will now never forget.
Adult Mom will go back on tour with Lucy Dacus in March and solo dates are to be announced soon. You might even be lucky enough to catch the punchline to, “What sound does Bob Dylan’s dog make?”
Adult Mom is playing at the Bishop tonight with Chris Farren and The Bills. Prepare yourself for some shared emotional intimacy with the bedroom pop band with these 10 tracks and corresponding activities.
Go to sleep at 6PM for a good night’s rest but set your alarm for 2:59AM. When you wake up at 2:59AM, sit up in bed. Try to get clear-headed and reflect on your life for about one minute. Prepare to hold yourself gently while reflecting, then press play on “Be Your Own 3am” right when the second hand hits 03:00:00.
Because you’re already up now and very ready for an emotional journey, listen to “Meg Ryan”. You realize that you’ve never seen Sleepless in Seattle (directed by Nora Ephron, starring Meg Ryan first and Tom Hanks second) about a child who phones a radio show to find his widowed father a new partner. Find the movie through some sketchy means with too many pop-up links, then watch it. Feel the power of radio(!) and think about how much you never want to die thinking, what if?!
Fall asleep to Steph Knipe’s soothing voice on “Patience”, from Soft Spots.
Eat your breakfast and contemplate the emotional journey a voice on the internet made you go through. Was it worth it? It doesn’t matter, just listen to “Survival” from Adult Mom’s 2015 album, Momentary Lapse of Happily. This is for your own good!
Sneer at the face of winter and listen to “First Day of Spring”.
Can some peaches. Kidding! Instead, get some peach rings and eat them outside and enjoy their slightly soapy taste while listening to “Tenderness”.
Decompress from your day by listening to “Laying On My Floor” and actually lay on your floor. This day has been really literal!
Make your way down to the Bishop for the show. Listen to “I Think I’m Old Enough” in line and hope that you brought your ID so you can get in.
You did bring your ID! Yes! Make your way inside to get situated for some good tunes about life and love and sigh. Listen to "Paws" as you dig through the depths of Adult Mom twitter to see which New Girl screenshot you are based on your zodiac.
The show's over! You experienced some deep soul-searching and you feel vulnerable yet restored. Get in your car and put on “Drive Me Home” to head into the endless night!
While stopped in Boise, Idaho for their second U.S. tour, Leslie Schott and Andrew Valenti of indie dream-pop band, Holy Golden, talked with WIUX about their “cosmic” meeting, biggest influences, and the power of grandmas.
Do you write songs while you’re on tour?
Andrew Valenti: Kind of. We just came up with a tune last night in our motel room.
Leslie Schott: It kind of happens accidentally. Sometimes, we'll just start playing on the keyboard or the guitar and something will happen and we'll record it. We'll get the idea down and plan to record it later.
What are your favorite songs to play live?
AV: There's a brand new one that we haven't even recorded yet. We kind of just it wrote when we were practicing for the tour. It was another accidental kind of song. It came out of nowhere.
LS: It's called “Locked Jaw” and we've been really enjoying playing that. And we have, “Arrival" which is on our upcoming album that we're putting out in January. We've been getting a really good response on that live. Our favorite live song is "Where Were You When" which is our most recent single, so we love playing that. We always finish off the show with “Where Were You When”.
Starting with the band's beginning, how did you guys meet?
LS: So basically, I was wondering around the island of Martha's Vineyard. I walked past a record store and I decided to go inside. It was the middle of winter, a freezing cold day. Andrew happened to be working there, that was his shift. His shift was a 3 hour shift, one day a week, so it just happened to be perfect timing. I walked in and all the CDs I bought were bands he was interested in. We immediately connected over that and it's the same story but there’s been different tellings of it. Essentially we met in a record store. I lived in LA at the time so we just immediately started collaborating on things and it just grew and grew and grew until we came to the place we are now. It was sort of a cosmic event.
AV: We found out later on that there was a lunar eclipse happening that day.
LS: So maybe that was the-
AV: "Cosmic element".
What were your first impressions of each other?
AV: Martha's Vineyard is a really quiet place in the wintertime. You kind of can't leave your house without running into everybody that you know. So, I was seeing this beautiful girl that I'd never seen before walk into an empty record store. She was probably one of two customers that entire day (Laughs). It kind of knocked me out of my seat.
LS: I didn't realize, until later, that everybody at Martha's Vineyard knew that I was there that day because they were like, "Who is that person walking around?” Everybody knows each other. I was in my L.A. mentality. I just could tell immediately he had similar musical tastes to me and there was really a nice energy about him. So when he said to come to that concert later, I was like, “He seems like a person that you could trust to meet in some random place.” It was almost like we had a feeling that we'd known each other before, which is hard to describe. There was a familiarity on a level.
AV: There was an immediate comfort in a way but also the excitement of meeting someone you'd actually never met before.
How were you guys in Martha's Vineyard?
AV: I was born and raised there.
LS: I lived in L.A. and had a background in acting and film. I was in New York and with some friends out there. There was a lot of different stuff going around. I was in NYC and I decided to go to Cape Cod to be with my elderly grandmother, who has passed away now. I took care of her for 3 weeks. I needed a break from L.A. I was across the ocean by ferry from Martha's Vineyard while I was taking care of her and working on some film projects because I do a lot of film stuff, personally. I just decided that I was going to go over to Martha's Vineyard one day. I was just kind of bored. I just thought I'll go over to the vineyard and just shoot some film. I wanted to see what that place was all about because you hear about it all the time. I went over and my whole life totally changed. It was really weird because it was such a casual thing.
AV: Both of our lives changed.
LS: Yeah. Very interesting. It definitely changed my perspective on things moving forward. You never know what kind of a casual impulse will lead to. A lot of the times it's just your everyday stuff. It's interesting how little impulses like that can add up to a crazy way.
AV: You never know.
LS: And I almost got on the bus to go because it was so cold outside! I almost got on the bus to go back to the ferry but I decided to walk for some reason. If I'd gotten on the bus, I would've never walked to the record store. So, trust your instincts.
AV: She told me like a year later that she even got on the boat to leave the island but decided to run off in a dramatic, filmic moment.
LS: I always say, we should write a script and sell it to Hollywood and make a-
AV: It’s like the ultimate, Hallmark movie.
LS: It was like the meet-cute in every script. It was very much like that. And he worked on a farm, too, which made it all the more. He just hung out at the record store. It was totally, for me coming from LA, like being thrown into a movie plot.
What is this?
LS: I was enjoying every minute. He was like, "I drive a tractor". He like took me out on a ride in a tractor. He hasn't driven tractors in a while.
AV: It's been a little while.
When did you guys know you wanted to work and make music together?
LS: We just connected over it and he had just finished an album.
AV: The day after we met, I was finishing up my solo album. I drove around the island showing her around and played the album.
LS: I really liked his music. I had been casually writing stuff with friends but I guess it wasn't until Andrew came to visit L.A. where I was living. We were living in two different places for three months. He flew out there for two weeks and we traveled a lot around California and both took some time off of work. We were on this campground across from the Hearst Castle and we started playing on the guitar and came up with our first song ever. which is “Cut Up in Rows” which is on our album, Wax Castle. That was our first song we wrote together and everyone we played it for thought it was great. It just felt like there was a lot of good energy around it so we kept writing music.
AS: And we made music videos together and it's just been growing exponentially.
LV: We actually made music videos together before we wrote music together.
There’s a strong visual component that's a world inclusive of the music. Does the musical inspiration come first or is there a specific photo or film that inspires the visuals before the music?
LS: We probably both had different inspirational databases. For me, it’s anything that's kind of brooding and romantic and country-esque. This new album we have coming out in January; the whole sound was indicated by a daydream I had my entire life. It's very mystical and kind of a dark, romantic, Dracula's castle kind of vibe. The whole time, I basically visualized the entire album in my mind as if it were a movie. Andrew's very much the structured musical background. He'll create a tune and then we'll apply the visual to it afterwards.
AV: We're making these short films and we just posted one half an hour ago. We'll make these short videos and then add the music in afterwards to fit the video. They're not actual songs we're creating for an album, but just creating a soundtrack for these weird short films that are showcasing the world of Holy Golden.
LS: It goes both ways. Sometimes, it's the sound first and sometimes there's a very specific story that we put a mood with sound to.
What are some of your film and sound influences? I read that you guys were inspired by Valerie and Her Week of Wonders.
LS: I love that movie. That movie is one that comes back all the time because it's so beautiful to watch, but it also has a lot of darkness in it. I would say that that's a major theme in all of the music, especially a lot of our upcoming stuff. It’s just kind of the dark underbelly of the romantic-[searches for a word]
LS: Yeah, it's very fantasy driven. So Valerie and Her Week of Wonders and-
AV: Well, you're really inspired by Maya Deren.
LS: Maya Deren is this experimental filmmaker. Her stuff has been hugely inspirational for me.
AV: I really love the whimsical worlds that Wes Anderson creates. You could see a scene of his and immediately say that's Wes Anderson. Or even a character or an outfit. I really appreciate when an artist is able to create something so identifiable. That's also really inspirational.
LS: The Jean Cocteau Beauty and the Beast from the 20s. They go down the hallway and there are these hands that hold these chandelier lanterns.
AV: A lot of the Criterion Collection is so inspirational.
Would you guys ever consider releasing a movie list?
LS: I was actually just thinking about this the other day since it was Halloween. I was thinking about Susperia. It's perfect for Halloween or this time of year. We should, that's a good idea.
AV: I mean even just thinking about Halloween ones, there's so many. Like House (1977), that's wild.
Would you guys ever consider making a full-length feature or a musical? Like Belle & Sebastian’s God Help the Girl?
LS: Totally! I haven't thought about that in a while. It'd be something I'd be really interested in. I've been thinking more about that recently because I really love combining the musical and the filmic worlds together.
AV: That's been a dream of mine, or a goal. To make music for film. We've made short films before.
LS: We've done a few short films before. They're sort of deep in the internet, but we did one when we first met that we premiered at a film festival and stuff. It's fun and I really enjoy that as well.
Is collaboration ever a struggle? Do you guys have different ways of working that have challenged you and helped you grow as artists?
LS: Definitely. We both have very different processes. They complement each other really well. For us, it's really important that there's so many ideas. Constantly, I'm throwing out ideas. I can become kind of trapped in this tornado of ideas. I get sort of stressed because I want to see them all materialize but they're all sort of trapped in my subconscious creative mind. It becomes a fiery need to make them happen. Andrew’s is calmer, more collected. He'll want to bite off as much as he can chew at a time, in a sense. What's really good is for us to come together and storyboard things. Once we're working together on an idea, it just works really, really well. We have a different way of coming to ideas. Once we're working on a project together, it just flows really really nicely. It's kind of about directing the river in the right path so it doesn't become an overwhelming flood.
What a vivid description!
LS: Yeah. Just the other day I really wanted to work on this short, episodic film. It was a week ago and now we've already done two episodes of it.
LS: Initially, it’s kind of this overwhelming feeling, but then we sit down and we go here are some ideas we could actually do, and find time to shoot them.
AV: When it comes time to execute the ideas, it just really happens so naturally.
LS: It's kind of like forcing yourself to exercise. It's kind of overwhelming until you're there and you just say "ok I'm just going to do this". I do all of the editing of the films and I really enjoy that process. Andrew's really great about doing the camerawork, recording. He's more of the technical side, in a sense. I am more controlling about being the one to sprinkle the fairy dust on it at the end and get it to be exactly how I want it.
AV: I could spend two days figuring out the tone for a guitar solo. That's part of my process. We have different processes. And yeah, we do complement each other, like Leslie said.
LS: It's funny we were trying to, before this, shoot a new music video in the next couple of days and we were looking over some new locations in Boise and we went to this weird romance motel. (Laughs)
AV: Which there are actually quite a few.
LS: There are a lot of them. They have these crazy rooms called The Secret Garden and the room has all of these fake plants. We ended up deciding not to stay there because it was kind of weird, (Laughs) but it's nice to have someone who's game to do that. You have to learn to get used to making strangers really uncomfortable. People are always like, "what are they doing", when they watch us and we're outside and filming and wearing weird outfits. It's just nice to have someone who's down to "get weird".
I can already see the article title, "Down to Get Weird".
LS: Yeah. Could be your Tinder profile. Or a band dating site.
Where do you guys get all of your costumes?
AV: We spent like two hours at a vintage shop today.
LS: We spend a lot of time at vintage shops. We'll kind of find them and go in. We've had pretty good luck with that.
AV: When we lived in Rhode Island, we made really good friends with this one vintage shop, Maison DNA. They were so supportive and they're still really supportive of us.
LS: They would just let us borrow anything we want. They styled a lot of our shoots when we were out there. And we've also been weirdly lucky about finding things from the 1800s. You have to get off the beaten path a bit and be willing to just kind of dig and see what you find.
AV: We're also getting more into making our own things now. I always wear a cape on stage and it's kind of hard to find a cape that you like. (Laughs) That's not like super costumey or really heavy 1800s wool cape. I've been making those. We'll find a vintage dress for Leslie and make it and tailor it.
LS: We've done a lot of sewing. (Laughs)
AV: That was a huge part of tour planning. Just sewing.
LS: The week before we left, Andrew was just a madman on the sewing machine. It was really funny. He just kind of had to learn how to do it. If you want to make things the way you want them, sometimes you have to literally make it yourself (both say at the same time).
Have there been any physical locations that you've had a really good response to? Or specific places that really inspire you?
LS: Definitely. It's funny how energy shifts in different places. I remember being in certain cities a long time ago and I really liked them and then this time, it's fine, but I just don't really feel any attachment. We talk about this all the time.
AV: Just like people and cities give off their own special energies.
LS: And they change. I'd say we both have been on the same page. We really loved Louisville, Kentucky. Everybody was really nice there.
AV: Boise's cool. It's got a good vibe here.
LS: We had a great time in Denver. There's so many people moving to that city right now. I'd say we've had good stops everywhere, for the most part. Everybody we've met, everywhere we've gone has been really nice. Which is a good feeling. It makes you feel like you're attracting the right kind of energy. We had a great time in the midwest; Louisville, Indianapolis, Columbus. Going through that whole area was really great.
AV: It's a really special part of the country, I think.
LS: I get this feeling from the midwest that these cities are having a resurgence or redefining themselves. It's cool to see things come from that. Cincinnati was where I was born and raised and I've been really enjoying visiting there.
AV: Cincinnati's' really cool. You're in Indiana, and just I think that part of the country has all of that genuine warmth of the midwest and the southern hospitality blended in this really unique, great thing. It's so nice to visit and be there.
LS: Everything's cool. It was really exciting to see the mountains on the horizon. It's just like a totally different planet out here. Everywhere we go, people are like "where are you going to live". We're not ready to commit to any place right now. We just like being on the road.
AV: I feel like you can find inspiration anywhere. You have no choice on where you were born or raised. There are great artists and musicians and people who come from all over the world and they get inspired no matter where they are. I’m finding inspiration everywhere I go.
Have there been any locations that you've wanted to go to but you haven't been able to?
LS: We almost had a show in Salt Lake City, but that didn't work out. It seemed like an intriguing place to me. All these mountain towns that are so far from anything. It would've been a cool show. There and this will also be the first time we'll play in the Pacific Northwest. We're excited about that. We didn't get to go to Pittsburgh. We were curious about Pittsburgh. Definitely Canada and Europe.
AV: Also Argentina.
LS: We've gotten an unexpected following in Argentina. We had someone come to our show in New York he was like, “People love you in Argentina, if you come it'll be huge.” Who knows? (Laughs) It's definitely fun to just see who knows about you in these different places. You don't want to get obsessed trying to book every single city.
AV: And one thing we've committed to on this trip is letting go of expectations. Going to every next stop with an open mind and being ready for the biggest, best show of our lives or playing a show to the bartender. You never know so you have to put your best foot forward.
LS: And places with such strong reputations. You can get so in your head about it.
AV: Even some of the bands we're playing with. We're so excited about all of the bands we've already played with and the bands we're going to be playing with. You can psych yourself out a bit.
LS: You've got to keep it real and just see what happens.
AV: We love what we do, our own thing, so we just remind ourselves about that.
In response to having a following in Argentina
LS: I think it was because we did a cover of The Smashing Pumpkins song, “1979” that was really popular there for some reason? Maybe somebody on a music blog. On Spotify, we were curious what would show up in our music radio. It was us and then a bunch of Argentinean indie rock bands.
How did your band’s name come about?
LS: We had been writing and playing music for a little while when we were trying to find a name for our whole creative world. A name that wasn't just what our friends called, Leslie and Andrew's thing. Andrew's grandmother is a Reiki master.
AV: Right before we moved to LA together, my grandmother tuned me to Reiki.
LS: Which at the time I didn't even know what that meant.
AV: She can see auras so she saw my aura and it was golden. We were on the highway, headed west, always going towards the sunset. There's something within people that's a natural thing to go west, kind of chasing after this sun or this golden thing. It's sort of like reaching for this ultimate.
LS: It's a search for this Holy Golden. We got the golden from Andrew's grandmother but then Holy Golden was reaching for this golden, perfect thing, which is what you're always doing when you're creating. You’re always trying to come up with the next thing that's going to grow from what you did before. Something even better, more pure and speaks what's in your heart. We came up with the name much more naturally than thinking about all that. Then afterwards, we realized that the name had all of that in it. Kind of the search, for the holy being. The perfect thing that you're always trying to create.
AV: The ultimate beautiful thing in your soul that you're always reaching for. That you're always trying to grasp and sometimes you do grasp it! (Laughs)
LS: I guess if Andrew's grandma saw it already going on, maybe he's already got it.
AV: That's our roundabout, long way of that answer. (Laughs)
LS: We saw his grandma at a wedding this summer and I asked her, is his thing still golden and she was like "Yep, it's still golden". Luckily, she wasn't like, it turned to a dark gray. I was like, thank god! She's sweet. She lives in Northern Vermont and knits all the time. We have her to thank for our indie rock band name.
Thank you to grandmas all over the world!
LS: Especially for all their clothes! All their vintage clothing! (laughs) All thanks to our grandmas.
Any poetry recommendations?
LS: I am in love with Anna Akhmatova. She was a Russian poet that just has an amazing body of work. Some of it's dark, but I always find a lot of lyric inspiration in her work. I have a huge, thick book of everything that she wrote. Terrance Hayes is a poet out of Pittsburgh who has some really amazing poetry. A lot of it was inspiring. I haven't read any really recently.
AV: I'm not as much of a bookworm as Leslie is but the poetry that I find is more connected to visual artists that I'm interested in. Oftentimes, I'll find some zines or small publications that typically have poems with other visual art, which we like to do with our photo stories. They're all Leslie's poems.
LS: Andrew will be like my editor, again. Look it over. Those two are the ones I've been reading a lot. I just got a book a little bit before we left of Michael Earl Craig. A poem of [Anna Akhmatova]'s was inspiration for the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind. They're just very visual. If I have writer's block I can read something of her's and it'll open up kind of a visual that's like a map into how to write something.
AV: We're totally obsessed with Edward Gorey.
LS: That's a big inspiration behind our films.
You guys need to do a film, book, and poetry list!
LS: Someone should pick us up to do a monthly thing on a blog or a magazine or something.
AV: Holy Golden's List.
LS: We're trying to be good about taking in other people's work as well. When you get into making your own stuff, sometimes you can become too obsessed with your own stuff. You have to remember to look outside of yourself.
AV: And traveling is such a cool way to do that as well. We'll find so many local artists in all these different places we're visiting that are just amazing.
What are some current projects that you want your fans to pay attention to?
LS: Our EP we just released in September, “The Licking River”. We have the “Where Were You When” music video. We're about to release another music video that we finished this summer for this song called “Lifeline”, which is also on there.
AV: Our vinyl just got released on Wallflower Records which we're really happy about.
LS: Our focus is on our EP for our music videos. Once the winter sets in, we're shifting gears and focus on our upcoming album. We have one music video for that that's waiting in the wings.
AV: More of our one minute films, music videos, music.
LS: There'll be a lot. In terms of what's out there right now, our Wax Castle and The Licking River EP.
AV: And to just come see us live. It's just a totally different experience.
What's Holy Golden's comfort food on tour?
AV: Noodles! It's been like the noodle tour.
LS: We've had so many soupy noodles.
AV: Like phở.
LS: Like Vietnamese food. If we can find a hot bowl of broth with rice noodles, we've probably eaten at least ten bowls of that on our tour. We ate it last night. That, and trail mix is a total addiction.
AV: Rice cakes.
LS: We'll have a bit of a rice cake habit after a show cause we're so hungry.
AV: But on our spring tour, it's so much Mexican food.
LS: It depends on the season.
AV: And where we're traveling.
LS: We've been eating pretty well, though, on the road. We have like a little camping stove and an electric kettle so we make our own little coffee and tea. Pretty gourmet. Lots of soup.
“You’d reassure me in a way you only can”, Michelle Zauner crooned as she reached out into the audience of sweaty, wide-eyed, hopeful hipsters. The line is from “Till Death”, off the sophomore album of Zauner’s solo musical project, Japanese Breakfast. Her music is like this one lyric; healing for the artist and audience as she transforms and processes her intimate struggles into revelatory art. They played a sold-out show at the Bishop on October 5th, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
For their first headlining tour, Japanese Breakfast was accompanied by Philadelphian bands, The Spirit of the Beehive and Mannequin Pussy. The Spirit of the Beehive is more in the psychedelic rock and folk genre while Mannequin Pussy is punk rock. Though classified into drastically different genres and scenes, the bands all fit well together, a credit to all of the bands’ talent. The Spirit of the Beehive was first up and their mellow and chill shoegaze quickly changed into more intense and frenzied head-banging. Their music was mostly off their newest album, pleasure suck, which was released over the summer.
Mannequin Pussy delivered an energetic and powerful set. The mic for the lead singer, Marisa Dabice, kept dipping in and out to which she coolly replied that her stuff must be haunted, but hopefully by a friendly ghost. No matter the mic situation, Dabice commanded the audience as she wailed into the night. Their songs, “Emotional High” and “Romantic”, off their 2016 album, Romantic, were my favorites. I was not previously a big fan of punk music, but Mannequin Pussy made me feel like I was a rebellious high schooler in the 80s who had snuck out for her first underground punk show.
The woman that we love came out in a custom Pearce ensemble with white sneakers that lit up red and blue and green lights. She didn’t need the shoes to keep the audience. Zauner has an infectious presence as she jumps and smiles through her songs. Her candid spirit on the album remains on stage and she is joyful and quick to joke and poke fun at herself, or sometimes her band. Zauner’s husband joined them for the first time on this tour and they celebrated their 3rd year anniversary just a couple of days before the show. She shared that she had had to help her husband get his underwear on for the second time in their marriage on this tour, both times because his back had given out. What a trouper!
Japanese Breakfast’s highly vulnerable music is not lessened in a concert setting in the least. If anything, it is heightened. Her reflective, meaningful music is able to sound off and bring joy to so many people. It had been so personal and intimate listening to the albums on my own that I thought it would be hard to translate to a concert setting. Zauner’s voice carries so much emotion and has a way of connecting with each and every one in the audience that the whole crowd was melting for her. They played slow and quiet songs like, “This House” and super energetic songs like “Machinist” with equal focus. There really wasn’t a beat out of place even though it was so hot that Zauner said it was “probably the most she had sweat in her entire life”. Japanese Breakfast’s music is transformative and so refreshing in the indie pop genre because she doesn’t compromise for just catchy tunes or a “chill vibe”. She breathes meaning and depth into their beautifully-worked music. Her experiences through grief, heartbreak, relationship turmoil, are all personal and yet so poignant and relatable.
Favorite Songs Played: “Till Death”, “In Heaven”, “Roadhead”, “This House” - Is “Till Death” really a surprise? No! But she did come out into the audience and we made eye contact so that was really special!
If you still have a chance to see Japanese Breakfast live, do so at once!
Japanese Breakfast is playing at the Bishop this Thursday for their tour with their sophomore album, Soft Sounds from Another Planet. Fronted by Michelle Zauner, the name of the indie band from Brooklyn came from Zauner looking at pictures of japanese breakfast one day. Zauner, who is Korean American, explains that the name relates to the familiarity and mundanity of something like American breakfast in juxtaposition with the exoticism and otherization of Asianness.
Zauner metamorphoses her pain over her mother’s death into Soft Sounds from Another Planet, a raw and poetic look into the artist’s grief and longing. The album also draws inspiration from Zauner’s Korean American heritage, with the starting track referencing hanyeo, a community of women living in Jeju Island, South Korea, famous for making their livelihoods out of fishing deep underwater without any breathing equipment. The energy of the "Diving Woman" is present throughout the whole album. Much in the same way as hanyeo quite literally plunge into the deep ocean, Zauner plunges into the fear of living fully, especially without the one you loved so much. There is fear in living fully, but there is also beauty in learning to live on your own. Soft Sounds from Another Planet is one of the best albums of the year because of Zauner’s vocal and musical versatility. Songs like “Diving Woman” and “Road Head” bring to mind David Bowie, while "Boyish" sounds like it could belong to a 1960s girl group.
Until Thursday night, you can play the RPG in correspondence with their album, titled Japanese Breakquest, and cry alongside with me to "Till Death". (I dare you to not cry to this!)
If you haven’t heard, it was indie dreamboat Ezra Koenig’s birthday. Ezra Michael Koenig, of Vampire Weekend, was born on April 8, 1984, and the master musician also happens to be a Twitter master. To celebrate his grand ol’ 33rd, here are his 11 best tweets matched with songs.
This classy tweet deserves an equally classy musical counterpart. How about “The Great Gate of Kiev” from Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which was frequently played as Vampire Weekend’s entrance music during their Modern Vampires tour? Listen to this song, feel majestic, and then write some glorious tweets.
Well, as far as I know there is no song written about Panera so the next best option is a Bowling for Soup song. I recommend “High School Never Ends” although I honestly couldn’t tell you which BFS song is better. It’s about realizing that not only was everyone immature in high school but that they never grew out of it and it’s just people in society now. Which is probably what Ezra is talking about with the new trend of hot bowling...
“Way to Blue” by Nick Drake is the only fitting song for this kind of shocking color realization.
I feel like Vampire Weekend should cover Desire’s “Under Your Spell”, except change the lyrics to this tweet. “You keep me under your spell - device”
This tweet is directly inspired by “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths. Keep playing this song whenever you are near your crush and maybe you will have the sort of beautiful relationship The Smiths and Ezra are talking about.
I think this is basically Ezra’s way of saying, “conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know” from Frozen’s “Let It Go”.
When this silent euphoria washes over “u”, you will have to listen to “Jungle” by Drake if you want to recuperate at all.
As anyone who has ever had that one cup too much of coffee knows, when that caffeine overload hits, it feels like you may just explode on that wooden chair in that super hipster cafe. Hey, maybe they’re even playing Vampire Weekend! So cool! Pair your out of body experience with one of the songs I was so scared of in middle school; “Day in the Life” by The Beatles. It’s basically your coffee mind explosion in a song.
As Ezra shares some incredible insight into American culture, I am reminded of a similar sentiment in “I’m Afraid of Americans” by David Bowie, because we should all be afraid of the nuggification.
If you didn’t already know, this beautiful tweet inspired the magic of “Hold Up” by Beyonce. I could explain it to you, but this master tweeter has already tweeted about that.
I love this tweet because I can recognize the agony behind it. Listen to “In the Morning I’ll Be Better” by Tennis, a sentiment I frequently share and something I probably say too often.
And also ready yourself for LP4--sure to be a banger.
Happy Late Birthday to the best vampire in music! (Except for Will Smith who is a literal vampire...)
If you haven’t heard of her yet, Noname is the project of Chicago native, Fatimah Warner. She makes amazing rap music and has collaborated with Chance (yes, that Chance), but don’t expect her to prescribe to whatever label that comes with. Her moniker, Noname, refers to her sense of not belonging to any category, whether it be music, art, or existence in general. This sense of self is reflected in her debut album, Telefone. Described by the artist herself as having a conversation with your crush for the first time, Telefone belongs in a category of its own. The album plays like a mixtape made by Noname personally for you.
At the same time, the album is exactly what you want from a debut release. Every song comes from a sonically different tradition, whether it’s akin to the beginning of the Super Mario theme or a hymnal. Noname threads all of these disparate sound elements into a unified flow. She brings to the table what sounds completely natural to her.
For example, her fifth song on the album, “Reality Check," lyrically discusses facing head-on the subtleties and confusions of life, but the sound makes her struggles seem almost optimistic. Telefone seems to be telling us not to expect our feelings to be simple or easy, but to accept them as what they are, contradictory and confusing, and then to deal with them from there.
In addition to having a stellar first tape, Noname has been featured on NPR's Tiny Desk series as well as The New York Times online. We predict big waves to be made by this Chicago artist in the very near future, and Culture Shock will provide a unique opportunity to see her up close and personal--and for free.
If that sounds good to you, experience your first sonic existential crisis with Noname at Culture Shock 2017!