Interview with Deafheaven

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Deafheaven is a five-piece metal band from San Francisco. They have received critical praise for their adventurous sound and dynamic onstage energy, and are currently touring in support of their latest record, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. KXSC DJ Blake Wagner spoke with Deafheaven’s frontman/lyricist/in-house screamer, George Clarke, about the band’s latest endeavor.

 

BW: Deafheaven is known for its eclectic array of influences. You’ve experimented with sounds from thrash and black metal to shoegaze and classic rock. What can listeners anticipate from the new album?

GC: Bands like Oasis, Pulp, Radiohead, and Queen all show up a lot more heavily this time around. We always keep our essential sound, but we shift around every album, and we like to joke that Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is our Britpop record. A lot of it has that kind of driving, melodic quality to it.

 

BW: Do you find that there’s a natural evolution from one record to the next, or do you just hit “reset” and start from the ground up with each new work?

GC: No, I think that it’s definitely a progression. By now, Kerry, myself, Dan, and Shiv have all been in a band together since 2013, and we can really play with each other in a much more cohesive way. We talk about the influences we want to bring to the table each time around, and with this album, we were really on the same page with things. That made the songwriting process really enjoyable – in fact, I would say the most enjoyable songwriting experience we’ve had so far.

 

BW: While we’re going down the roster of Deafheaven members, it’s worth noting that there is a new member of the band, Chris Johnson. What kind of energy do you think he brings to Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, especially to the songwriting process?

GC: A ton, which is something I really wanted to touch on. All of our past bassists – who, it’s worth noting, were all great musicians and are still friends of the band – were originally guitarists. But Chris is the first real bassist we’ve worked with, and bassists who know their instruments bring a totally different energy.

I think the bass work on this album is really a step up, and Chris wrote a lot of his own parts based off of Kerry and Shiv’s riffs. There are definitely sections in the album where the bass playing is my favorite part, and Chris is also a sound engineer, so you can hear a noticeable difference in our production both in the studio and live.

 

BW: Yeah, the new record has a really crisp, atmospheric quality that I think one review even described as “cinematic.” On that note, I’m curious to know what non-musical influences (movies, books, poetry, television) influenced the writing and recording of Ordinary Corrupt Human Love.

GC: Kerry in particular is a really avid moviegoer, and he’s always ready to discuss film, so a lot of that creeps into his songwriting. Personally, I was reading a lot of Dulce María Loynaz, whose collection, Absolute Solitude, was essentially the main lyrical influence on the record.

 

BW: And the title of the album is a Graham Greene reference, right?

GC: It is, which was something else that I was reading and kind of just grabbed the title from (which was actually a total life-saver). I was also reading Pablo Neruda, Maggie Nelson’s The Art of Cruelty, and Langston Hughes’ Not Without Laughter.

 

BW: There must be a direct link between all those influences and the larger ideas of the record. What are the recurring themes this time around?

GC: I would describe this album as very celebratory. Touring for New Bermuda was really stressful, and that led to some time off. During that time off, everyone individually relaxed and re-gained a sense of appreciation for what we do as a band, so Ordinary Corrupt Human Love has a really strong sense of purpose and togetherness.

The record focuses on empathy, unity, and the commonality of all people, especially the more mundane aspects of human experience. We incorporate a lot of flower and bird imagery, emphasizing that appreciation for the world around us and what we have. The mood overall is meant to be cathartic and positive.

 

BW: That’s really salient, especially with regards to the current social and political climate. The themes of empathy and humanity and collective identity seem especially apropos.

GC: You’re right, a lot of it did emerge as a reaction to the current political climate. I feel really exhausted and helpless a lot of the time, and I think that with this album, I wanted to help change the narrative, if only temporarily. Offer something different for a moment.

 

BW: Deafheaven’s sound has a really strong emotional tenor. It can be really invigorating but also really draining to listen to a Deafheaven album in its entirety. Performing your music night after night must be really intense. Can you switch that energy on and off or do you have to get into a certain headspace?

GC: I guess I have to get into a certain headspace, but that applies to pretty much anyone performing in front of a crowd of strangers. However, especially since our sets have been getting longer and our records do require a certain level of patience, there’s a need to make the live shows really energetic. It’s the difference between being at a concert with a bunch of people and just sitting at home listening to the album on your couch.

 

BW: Touching on the album-listening experience, there’s something really synesthetic about the cover art that’s accompanied each Deafheaven release – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is no different. It’s a really classic image. It looks like it could have been taken 50 years ago or yesterday.

GC: We worked together again with Nick Steinhart, who’s essentially our art director (as well as partner-in-crime and extremely good friend). We also worked with photographer Sean Stout, and the idea was to capture people in ordinary moments, touching on that appreciation for the day-to-day aspects of life.

While we were recording the record, we were living in this house and had picked up all this equipment to develop photos at home. Sean would come in every day and we would just roam around San Francisco and shoot everything - then, we’d go home and develop the photos that same night. We did that everyday, finally winding up with something like six hundred images.

All of the packaging is filled with photography of people in street scenes living their lives. But on the cover in particular there is a kind of sweet anonymity about this woman, and I felt like it was the perfect image to represent the record and the stories we wanted to tell.

 

BW: I’m excited to sink my teeth into the new album and catch you guys on tour later this summer. Thanks for taking the time to chat.

GC: My pleasure! Take care.

 

Deafheaven will be performing at The Wiltern in L.A. on Saturday, August 18. Their new album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, is out now.

Transviolet: July 2, 2018 - Concert Review

I've never had a more stellar Monday night in my entire life.

After a long day (and a 45 minute nap in my car before the show) I made my way over to The Echo on July 2nd for Transviolet’s last show. Not only was this the closing show of their first ever U.S. headline, but it was the group's homecoming show as well. I’ve been a fan of this band for about two years and had the chance to see them perform twice before. Both instances were incredible, the first truly left me frozen in place and utterly captivated. However, there was something about this occasion that was more distinct and even elevated.

There are very few artists whose performance genuinely changes the space and atmosphere of the venue, but Transviolet did just that. The members of this group have an obvious passion and love for the music they produce that translates to their stage presence. Small details added a level of depth to the artist's themselves as well as their production: the way eyes would close with certain notes sung, chords played, or individual shouts from the crowd. Pauses that the band held during songs left the audience on their toes, holding in a breath, waiting for more. Once that breath was released, the music seemed to almost possess members of the band, creating movements that represented a strong connection between them and the sound they have created. This environment communicated something that ignited every individual in the room, allowing fans to move with the music just as the performers did.

Often writing about feminist topics and issues, the band recently released their single, Bad Intentions, which they performed that night. Singing songs about topics that deserve to be noticed, Transviolet certainly creates a space in which they are the focus. The group definitely creates justice for these topics as their production is extremely powerful and impactful.

As always, Transviolet put on an amazing show. Til next time!

-- Nina Baker-Mason

SOPHIE - OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES - Review

With the release of the album OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES, avant-pop artist SOPHIE places herself at the top of the musical pantheon, ready to change auditory pop perfection as we know it.

The L.A. based producer, songwriter, and creator is an enigma. Prior to releasing her 2018 album (which, when said out loud, is meant to sound like “I LOVE EVERY PERSON’S INSIDES”), her identity was completely under wraps - her age, appearance, and, at the time, gender were all undisclosed, masked behind an output of textured singles with strange titles like “BIPP” and “MSMSMSM”. Her first project PRODUCT was released in 2015, and since then, SOPHIE has been kept in the darkness, her persona being carried behind pitched vocals and artificial instrumentation.

However, her debut album, released on June 15th, subverts expectations: OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES is an eclectic, meditative album on identity, society, and genre as it stands in the modern pop landscape.

When promoting OIL, SOPHIE decided to come out of her shell, and it pays off tremendously. The single “It’s Okay To Cry” was the first introduction to the record, and features the producer herself softly whisper-singing over a jingly keyboard riff and atmospheric synthesizers - a huge contrast to the abrasive IDM on her previous work. Every word, note, and breath here is incredibly delicate, and lyrics like “All of the big occasions you might have missed / No, I accept you” gain deeper meaning when considering that the song was SOPHIE’s self-introduction into the spotlight as a trans woman. By shedding the mystique, she allows herself to shine and become vulnerable, in a way previously uncharted.

The sound throughout the record consistently toes the line between bubblegum pop and industrial chaos with ease. She intends to be abrasive, purposefully developing sound clashes that upon the first listen make the listener jump, but reveal intricate and sophisticated progression beyond the inaccessibility. A first listen of “Ponyboy” or “Whole New World/Pretend World” can leave the regular listener confused, but through the disorientation, it’s easy to see that the whole record is shrouded in unparalleled creativity.

OIL reflects SOPHIE’s other work in that it carries a metallic shimmer, as though you’re immersed in a reflection of sort; on the surface it could appear bland and emotionless (as does most PC Music influenced bubblegum bass), yet there is something incredibly enticing just beyond grasp. Every note seems to come out of nowhere and leaves you at the edge of your seat in an incredibly surrealist form of auditory entertainment. Songs like “Faceshopping” feel as if machines haphazardly clanging together were banging in time - however, it all seems effortlessly calculated. There is an intention in every single note programmed, with every sound enhancing and adding to an emotional cacophony.

Where the record truly shines, however, is where it taps into that emotion. The centerpiece, and arguably an early contender for song of the year, is the immersive “Is It Cold In The Water?”, a song that frames itself as a melodic piece of performance art. Over sweeping bass and a consistently pulsating synthesizer that never lets up for the three and a half minute runtime, Mozart’s Sister sings lyrics like “I’m freezing / I’m burning / I’ve left my home”. Her voice, hauntingly gorgeous and, again, delicate, cascades over the production effortlessly, jumping octaves and flowing as if the song was the water itself. It is full of genuine uncertainty; when she begs the question “Is it cold in the water?” over and over again, it is desperation seeping through, conveying the true and very real fear of not knowing. When considering SOPHIE’s struggles with self and gender, even though she isn’t singing herself on this track, “Is It Cold In The Water?” is a meditation on what the unknown brings in a change of identity. The track seems to be an auditory form of rebirth, cleansing the palate and capturing the essence of transformation. The song is an experience, rather than a piece of music; it’s one of the most incredible forms of experimental emotion ever committed to a pop record.

OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES, in a phrase, is merely something that a listener has never heard before. The form-breaking tracks of “Ponyboy” and “Faceshopping” incorporate breakdowns fusing industrial music with IDM. “Infatuation”, much like “Is It Cold In The Water?” is a slow-burn track full of whispers and pseudo-harmonies over punching synthesizers. Even a cookie cutter pop song like “Immaterial” is an incredible earworm using sparse production to convey a critique on a materialistic society. The unconventionality oozes from every note, drop, and beat OIL brings; it is as though we are seeing into the future through an auditory crystal ball.

Every listener to this album will have a different experience. The impact this record has is felt where SOPHIE fills a sonic space or leaves it empty, it is felt with every single instrumental clash, it is felt in the feeling one automatically gets in their chest upon hearing the near six minute long ambient instrumental “Pretending” or the aforementioned “Is It Cold In The Water?”. The album looks to the future, and poises itself to challenge it with every lyric. With her first full-length record, SOPHIE makes her presence known, in both the pop scene and musical landscape, as a force to be reckoned with, and as the sole proprietor of an uncharted sound no one else dares to explore.

-- Reanna Cruz

Dyke Drama: Up Against the Bricks (2016) Review

Flipping through a 1985 issue of the Advocate I impulse-bought from eBay, I noticed a short blurb reviewing Hüsker Dü’s album New Day Rising, which came out that same year. The reviewer wrote that “as far as I know, there’s nothing gay about [Hüsker Dü], unless you count their ferocious, unforgiving optimism.” Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould is in fact gay--though he would not come out publicly until the 1990s, years after the band had broken up--so the reviewer was perceptive in noting something queer in Mould’s emotionally raw blue-collar punk. The chasm between queerness and gritty, heartland rock music is not as wide as one might be led to believe, and it is bridged by precisely the desperate hopefulness and unabashed emotionality described by the Advocate reviewer. But as much as myself and other butch lesbians admire Bruce Springsteen’s tender masculinity, and as often as queer and trans punks emphatically sing along to the Replacements’ “Androgynous,” few LGBT-fronted bands have emerged since Hüsker Dü that embody the humble, persevering spirit of rust-belt and midwestern rock music.

Enter Dyke Drama. Dyke Drama is the solo project of Sadie Switchblade, the prodigally talented musician best known as the frontwoman of the short-lived but much-loved hardcore punk band GLOSS. In GLOSS (“Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit”), Switchblade embraced cathartic political anger, scream-singing about trans women taking over the world and the necessity of violent resistance. Dyke Drama is no less revolutionary, so long as one understands that for marginalized people, the personal is inherently political. With this project, Switchblade delves into the traumas and daily frustrations that impact life for many trans women and other LGBT people. Some of Dyke Drama’s songs reference experiences unique to trans womanhood, but most of Switchblade’s lyrics--about heartbreak, loneliness, and ennui--would not be out of place on a Springsteen or Lucinda Williams album. Williams’ “I Just Wanted to See You So Bad,” which Dyke Drama covers towards the end of their 2016 album, Up Against the Bricks, could pass for Switchblade’s own writing.

Up Against the Bricks oozes with emotion and poignant lyricism, but it’s also a tightly produced and incredibly infectious rock album. Opener “Rolling Tears” begins with a twangy fifteen-second guitar riff followed by a breakneck drum fill and a primal yell reminiscent of the one that kicks off the Replacements’ “Bastards of Young.” This introduction sets the album’s stylistic and emotional tone: unflinching and achy, but equally energizing. The album’s second track, “Crying in a Bathroom Stall” employs pop-punk-esque chugging guitar to imbue the titular scene of despair with defiant strength. Most of the song’s lyrics describe the almost universal experience of romantic heartbreak, but the final line gives “Crying” specificity; “Do all tall girls die alone?” Switchblade asks twice over the final guitar riffs. The line, which refers euphemistically to trans girls as “tall girls,” succinctly connects Switchblade’s personal emotional pain to the culturally embedded undesirability assigned to trans women. This feeling of lesser-ness is expanded upon in the words to “Cis Girls,” the album’s penultimate track: “You say I'm second to none / but I'm still second to one, / One of those girls.”

The heartache expressed in “Crying” is wedded with a desperate hopefulness in Up Against the Bricks’ title track. The song’s verse meanders over a wounded guitar melody, and its catchy chorus comes in triumphantly with heavy guitar chugs. “Is it too much to ask for a moment that lasts for / long enough to get it right? For you to keep me up all night?” Switchblade pleads in the chorus, “Is it too late for dreaming? To go back to believing? / To push me up against the bricks, grab my skull and kiss my lips.” The poignancy in her voice makes us hope that it isn’t too late, even as we sense that it probably is. Alongside the desperate desire for love in these lyrics is a dark shadow of aggression, even violence--having one’s “skull” grabbed and pushed against a brick wall does not necessarily conjure up images of tenderness. This forceful imagery lays bare the abuse, or threat thereof, that has defined the lives of too many trans women.

Other topics covered in the anthems that populate Up Against the Bricks include the sleaziness of the music industry (“You Can’t Count on Me”) and the alienation of growing up in a neglectful and dysfunctional family (“Day-For-Night”). These subjects, along with the rest of the album’s lyrical content, compose a clear vision; one that connects the personal with the political to generate an all-encompassing pissed-off-ness that remains bold and self-assured enough to not stray into bitterness.

Up Against the Bricks ends with the devastating “Some Days I Load My Gun,” a stripped-down ballad of suicidal ideation. It’s raw and heartbreaking, but there’s a note of hope in it too. “Some days I load my .22,” Switchblade sings, “but I don't want to give up on you / sweet people in my life / I don't wanna make anyone cry.” The lyrics acknowledge and pay tribute to the presence of a loving support system, even as they show that loved ones aren’t always enough to keep out the dark thoughts. The song--and album--ends with the fading in of a droning organ and the repeated line, “Is there anyone?” The line is sung through tinny, distant vocal effects, evoking the sensation of isolation it describes. It’s a bummer of a way to end an album, but Switchblade isn’t trying to craft a narrative of straightforward perseverance that inevitably ends with happiness or success. She’s depicting pain and grief and joy and desire in the arbitrary pattern in which life throws them at us, particularly those of us who are marginalized along multiple axes. Dyke Drama embraces its similarity to older bands like Hüsker Dü and the Replacements--the album is labeled on bandcamp with the tag “Westerberg” in reference to the Replacements’ frontman--but rather than being derivative, Up Against the Bricks carries these bands’ tough and tender spirit into uncharted territory.

 

Natalie Lee's Pride Playlist

If you couldn’t already tell from all of the major corporations’ rainbow ad campaigns, June is Pride Month! To celebrate our most authentic, beautiful selves, we’ve created a playlist featuring gay, bi, lesbian, trans, queer artists. The eras span from the ‘60s to the present day. There’s a whole lotta pop and classic rock, as well as some blues and hip-hop; there’s something for everyone. Crank this up to get any pride party going.

It is important to acknowledge that the celebration of Pride started with the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969 led by trans women of color. So, when we commemorate this month, it’s crucial to shine the light on trans, femme, black folk. Lately, the LGBTQ community has been very white, cis, and commercialized. Corporations and institutions are branding themselves as allies, but very few are actually committed to the cause. We’ve gotten to a point where Pride is becoming more and more inclusive and mainstream every year. It’s a welcoming party; an invitation to revel in what makes us beautiful and unique. Still, Pride is political. Remember that queer history involves the intersectional fight against police brutality, racism, transphobia, and, homophobia. The community and its allies should celebrate, but be active in what still needs to be done to achieve justice.

This playlist reflects the change in dynamics of the LGBTQ community over several decades like how our love for ourselves has grown unapologetic, but also how anti-LGBTQ sentiments and violence are still prevalent (and arguably even worsening). I’ve highlighted notable queer-fronted bands and queer musicians with different struggles. We’ve witnessed a transformation from the ‘50s and ‘60s in which queer folk faced explicit anti-homosexual legal system such as homosexuality being a basis for arrest. The ‘80s were definitely more flamboyant and glamorous, however, there was still difficulty for stars to discuss gay topics in their music. Today, the popularity of queer artists is skyrocketing because the community’s visibility is being more widely accepted.

These artists don’t just create music about their sexual orientation, but also who they are. This music is the soundtrack of our lives since the artists live with similar personal struggles to their audience. Pride is about validating queerness and music has played a large part in making us feel comfortable; it has been anthemic The representation allows people to embrace their diverse identities. Music is a reminder that queer folk exist, feel, and create art.

-- Natalie Lee

Check out Natalie's playlist here!

Moontower

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MOONTOWER'S FOUNDATION

Moontower: a name that is common knowledge to USC students, and spreading like fire through a network of schools in Southern California and across the world, with their first single hitting over 100,000 plays in its first two weeks. Booking shows left and right, these three talented young musicians have had quite the atypical college semester - playing shows on boats in the San Diego harbor, booking numerous festivals, and attending record label meetings instead of studying for finals. However, as with most successful bands, there's a team behind the scenes making the rest of the magic happen. As Moontower always says, "There are three members in the band, but five members of Moontower".

To most, Moontower is just a catchy band that makes their feet move, but what many don't know are the ways the entire team is pushing the boundaries of what live music, and what being a band really means. These student's passions have ignited an augmented reality company, short films, and interactive stages… just the beginning of what is to come from Moontower.

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THE BAND

Tom, a once a signed DJ who cultivates catchy electronic beats, met Devan - a Juilliard level flutist with long flowing brown hair - during their first week at USC. They started producing and writing music, eventually catching the eye, and friendship, of Jake. A catalyst for the creation of Moontower was a Lemaitre concert they attended together. Standing in awe within the crowd, the three said to each other that they wanted to create indie dance music that made others feel the way they felt in that moment. In the fragmentation stages over summer, Moontower's grounding was built by the hands of numerous USC students. A few notable names out of the many are Rocky (Racquel) Levia who helped with their creative direction - making their first logo and artwork - and Jamie Haberman who helped them get their ducks in a row in the ideation phase. This was the start of a trend for Moontower. As their network at USC grew, a slew of young, talented, and passionate students took on the project of Moontower and made it more than just a band, challenging what is expected from musicians.

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Carina Glastris: Manager

"Shut up and stop worrying" is what the band recites as what Carina always tells them, because in their words "when she says she will do something - she does it … and when it gets done it's always better than we hoped it would be". Carina Glastris is a recent graduate of USC with a burning passion for her work and a radiant energy that ignites that passion in those lucky enough to be around her. Her involvement with Moontower began as help with branding, but during the initial meeting she started rattling off ideas and the band realized she contained the passion and drive they were looking for. Her initial mood boards she made for them blew the band away, leading them to take her on as creative direction. However, when she took on Moontower as a project, the band quickly started to see the dedication and knowledge she had push them forward in the music industry, leading them to increase her role to manager. Her housemates from this past year have become accustomed to Carina leaving the house regularly for Moontower meetings reaching past 1am, ordering 20 Amazon boxes to find "the perfect prop for the video", and daily screams of joy when Spotify updates Willam's play count. The band praises Carina's humble ability to understand what she doesn't know, and striving to gain that knowledge from those around her and surrounding herself with people who can help. "She knows how to be the coach, without being the quarterback", Tom said with a smile.

William Holywood: ???

William is one of the band's roommates who has been highlighted in "Pilot", a hilariously confusing psychedelic video to Moontower's song Marathon. William has moved many times in his life from places ranging from Czechoslovakia to middle-class suburbs. After starting his studies at USC, he ended up living with the band, but as he says, he simply "lives amongst them", mostly doing his own thing. The band was at first writing songs about William without his consent and took footage of him for Marathon by stalking him, which created a lot of animosity between him and the band. However, recently he has felt like their newer music speaks to him so has taken control of the videos - a hopeful bridge between a shaky relationship. William's next video in partnership with Moontower tells the true story of his nextdoor neighbor that he loves, or maybe he doesn't love.

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Jacob Fishman: Production & Tour Manager, Director of Live Experience, Head of Touring and Product at Mercive

Jacob, better known as Fish, has been with the band from its creation, a consistent thread through their growth. He was living in Portland when Rocky called asking for help building a stage. Intrigued, Fish drove back to Los Angeles to work on the stage that day. He came back the next day to help, and then the next day... and has been back every day since. As a child, Fish was heavily involved in competitive robotics. He strived with physical creation of mechanical objects, yet a heavy influence to music and art pushed him towards live music experiences. The full stage that Moontower plays with, including the modular stage and lights, were built by him and Rocky. He also handles all the logistics of playing other venues, from unloading and loading the gear to mixing their music live. When he graduates, Fish dreams of packing his belongings into a single backpack, and hitting the road with Moontower to continue to restructure the current box live music is within.

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Cam Lindsay: CEO of Mercive, partnership with Moontower

Fish remembers the moment when Cam had the idea to bring augmented reality into live music, excitedly asking how it would work, Cam replied, "Well, that's about all I've got right now". The idea was brought to life when Cam attended one of Moontower's shows and was blown away by its professionalism. For Cam, that show began to blur the line of what a professional was, and inspire him to work with Moontower as the starting point to creating his vision. The initial meetings consisted of conjuring up Fish and Cam's dream live performance, bursting the seams of current life music experiences. Reeling back their lofty ideas, they settled upon creating a 8ft by 10ft pod where two people could stand inside wearing a Mira Augmented Reality headset and Beats headphones to experience a three minute augmented reality experience catered to Moontower's song Marathon. The vast majority of people who entered had never experienced AR - not more than Pokemon Go - and their responses were overwhelmingly positive. Mercive has continued to expand their clientele, and has been accepted to be part of the Advanced Game Project at USC. Check out Mercive's experience at Moontower's show here.

Give Moontower's first single that is sweeping the world a listen on Spotify here.

Photo credits: Jacob Fishman, Carina Glastris, Anastasia Velicescu, Brittany Harper

 

New Adds: Common, 700 Bliss, Joyce Wrice & more!

New Adds: Common, 700 Bliss, Joyce Wrice & more!

Welcome back to the latest installment of the MoM newsletter. A quick shout out for our annual fundraiser going on right now: As a student radio organization we do not receive operational funding from the university so it's up to us to gather funds to keep us on the air. To support this newsletter, events, and DJs that create the content of KXSC, help us reach our fundraising goal atkxsc.org/donate!

James Earl / Duckwrth / What So Not Review By Madeleine Benn

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James Earl / Duckwrth / What So Not – Friday April 6, 2018
By Madeleine Benn / Madame Psychosis – So It Goes…

This was my first time at The Palladium, so I didn’t realize just how big the crowd was going to get, but apparently James Earl, the opening DJ, was very aware that he had maybe a ninth of the audience to keep entertained. But, if he didn’t give it more consideration than the ticket-holders for that night’s complete festivities gave him then, I don’t know what to tell you. He knew his role as the first hype man and he did his job. He played regular party mixes and encouraged fill-in- the-blank moments which kept the crowd involved and dancing and not ignoring him. Overall, he was not the most notable thing about the night.


Duckwrth was on next which was a surprise to me because I had been told that he was the  headliner, but that’s okay, I was rolling with it. Here’s the thing though, most of the rest of the audience, who by this time had made it through security (that’s a whole other story), were not rolling with it. Now I know (at the time I didn’t) that What So Not, the DJ that was the actual headliner, is an EDM artist and whoever paired his and Duckwrth’s audiences together should lose their job. Jesus were they mismatched. Only at the beginning of each other’s set were people not idling outside. Then it did a complete flip-flop. Anyway, Duckwrth had released the music video for his song Tamagotchi not two days before the show, so I thought there’d be some excitement over that, but other than making it his entrance song… nothing. His set lasted about an hour, but he was super active on stage, jumping over his stage props, taking off his shirt, etc. So that must have been exhausting. He finally caught the attention of the What So Not crowd with his last song, both because he declared it as his last song and because it is his most jammin’. It was one of my personal favorites MICHUUL. and it definitely had people up. Honestly this is the song you should get introduced to Duckwrth with (which is why we’ve hyperlinked it above, so check it out!).


As for What So Not, all I can say is that I finally get EDM music… or at least I understand why it’s something you have to experience. When I first saw the warning signs outside the auditorium for “INTENSE STROBE LIGHTING EFFECTS”, I said to myself, “What is this a haunted house?”. But a few drinks in, several types of smoke mixed in the air all around me and different colors and lengths of lights like that and I could see how it could be nauseating. The graphics behind the DJ were mesmerizing, but you couldn’t look at them for too long a stretch at a time because at that point the venue was pretty packed, so my friend and I really had to stick together. Ultimately though EDM is not for me. If you are looking to get into this artist though, the song that all of his fans seemed to yell along to was High You Are, so I would start there.

Japanese Breakfast & Jay Som at The Glass House in Pomona, CA

 Michelle Zauner singing in Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner singing in Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner, who formed Japanese Breakfast in 2015, and Melina Duarte, who began
recording as Jay Som in 2012, performed at the Glass House in Pomona on Saturday, the last
show of their short-lived 2018 tour together. Since the two headliners toured along with Mitski in 2016, they have garnered a passionate, dedicated group of fans who seem to trek out to their shows, again and again, becoming a group that seems as close-knit of friends as Zauner and Duarte appear to be.

Mentioning the names Japanese Breakfast or Jay Som to a general group of people won’t garner much recognition, yet it was obvious that they have their own cult fellowship that seems willing to follow them out to each and every one of their shows. The doors only opened at 8 PM, yet when I arrived at 7:30, there was already a line of a hundred people waiting – inside, a pair of girls joked loudly that they wished they could have been closer to the stage because it was “the one time two Asian American women are the headliners at a show.”

What Zauner, who is half-Korean, and Duarte, who is Filipino-American, have in common,
along with their other frequent tour mates and friends, Mitski, and Sasami Ashworth (previously of Cherry Glazerr), is that their unintended yet obvious representation of Asian women in the indie music scene, which until recently was majorly dominated by white men, attracts a certain crowd. Along with myself, the friends I attended the show with, and others I recognized from attending other Japanese Breakfast and Jay Som performances in LA, I noticed that the crowd was filled with young, excited, Asian American kids who saw themselves represented on stage and found within the music some kind of profound relatability.


After Meg Duffy of Hand Habits opened the show with a moving set, Jay Som performed as a
five-piece band, who displayed a rare chemistry and closeness as a group by improvising surreal, flawless instrumental transitions between each song. Not a moment passed where Duarte or her bandmates had to pause and consider what would come next – when the group’s 2017 single “The Bus Song” began, whose music video was directed by the other headliner, Michelle Zauner, the crowd became extremely overwhelmed, exclaiming the signature line, without planning or hesitation, “BUT I LIKE THE BUS” at the top of their lungs, to which Duarte just muttered, “Oh my god…”


Japanese Breakfast closed out the show in her iconic, all-white outfit and light up sneakers, an
ensemble she has worn at each of her performances in the past year, almost as if “JBrekkie” is an alter ego of Zauner in which she vocalizes in autotune and sings songs about “falling in love with a robot” (her closer, “Machinist”). She faces the crowd, holds out her hand to the audience, and jumps excitedly to each one of her self-proclaimed bangers – yet she also expressed that she felt her music, lyrically, is filled with her own complex emotion, saying she felt “it’s so special when a large group of people come together and feel something together”. This really came to light during a song she wrote while grieving for her late mother, “Till Death”, when the audience stayed silent in respect for her vulnerability and authenticity in her performance.


Japanese Breakfast herself struck up a conversation with the security guard at the front of the
stage mid-performance, introducing him as Christian. He advised her against her attempt to crowd surf during the final song, so instead, she wailed her final notes in her dreamy, high
pitched voice as she fell into his arms, off the stage and alongside the crowd who screamed and cheered her on. The adrenaline, spontaneity, and passion for that performance, at that moment, was found somewhere within everyone in the room. We were in complete support of each other – which is why I’ll continue to follow Jay Som and Japanese Breakfast as musicians and role models wholeheartedly, along with, I presume, every other hyped up Asian kid in the crowd that night.

-Marii Krueger

 

 

New Adds: Moss Kena, Moaning & more!

New Adds: Moss Kena, Moaning & more!

March is a time for celebration. The weather is warming up, spring break is coming, March 4th is the only day of the year that makes a sentence; everything is looking up. On top of that, MoM is here to deliver unto you the music you need to make it through the week. Special shout out to DJ Andres Guzman for his review on Sylvan LaCue with Apologies in Advance. Check it out alongside with MoM's usual suspects below.

New Adds: Christoph de Babalon, Velour Afternoon, Ryuichi Sakamoto & More!

New Adds: Christoph de Babalon, Velour Afternoon, Ryuichi Sakamoto & More!

As February comes to a close, we want to give a big shout out to MoM's very own R&B Director, Lani Renaldo, for spearheading KXSC's Black History Month initiative. By all measures, its been hugely successful. Of course, this doesn't end March 1st, and we have more things planned going forward. Keep your eyes out for more as the year goes on, and as always, keep it locked to KXSC! And here are some new adds for you.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH PLAYLIST #5 - Natalie Lee

Another dope playlist by KXSC's own Natalie Lee! Here's what she has to say about it:

"In honor of the start of Black History Month this playlist is all black bands/bands with black members. There's a cool mix of punk, garage rock, ska, etc. Here's to more punk music by POC!"

Check out the playlist here.

New Adds: MGMT, Rejjie Snow & Masahiro Sugaya!

New Adds: MGMT, Rejjie Snow & Masahiro Sugaya!

For all y'all who had the day off, hope your extended weekend was nice & relaxed. To those who had to go to work, at least the traffic wasn't too bad. Imported a review from Chile for this week; our Soft Rock director, Virginia, reports from abroad. As always, whether you're listening on the air, online, or on your phone, keep it locked to KXSC.