anything and everything I want to write about music will go here…
This article was originally published in the Winter 2016/2017 issue of Ascension Magazine which is entirely in Italian. I wanted to share the English translation in case that is easier for some people to read. Enjoy!
🙂 ~ Candy
Music is Like Making Sculpture
IIOIOIOII is an American synthpop project from solo artist Christopher Gurney based in Charlotte NC. The music could be compared to bands such as Depeche Mode, Mesh, Beborn Beton, New Order, Front 242, etc. The vocal melodies could be compared to Gary Numan, Wolfsheim, Covenant, etc. The project began in 2012 with Gurney working in his home studio discovering the lush soundscapes and heavy melodic elements that have now become his trademark. He released a self-titled EP followed by his first LP “Reflect.” In 2013, he released his next full-length, “Sun,” with much acclaim from the scene both in Europe and the US. Later, he signed with Analog Trash records to gain wider distribution. His more recent EP “Post Brimstone” is available through Analog Trash in limited edition cassette form.
We had the chance to sit down with IIOIOIOII and have a chat about where he has been and where he plans to go in the future.
ASCENSION: Thank you for joining us on the pages of Ascension Magazine. Tell me a little bit about your beginnings. When did you get into playing music?
IIOIOIOII: I played around with music my whole life. I came from a musical household where everyone played an instrument. However learning an instrument wasn’t forced on me. I never took to a single instrument completely growing up. I tinkered around on the guitar and I usually ended up singing for bands that never left the garage. It wasn’t until around 2010 that I decided to teach myself music production. I loved a lot of Synthpop and Industrial and wanted to try and make it myself. That’s where I felt the most engaged. The concepts of composition, the technology of synthesizers, and all the way to the techniques of mixing and mastering were all very interesting to me. I wanted to learn it all and I still learn new things every time I sit down to write and record. In 2016 I finally took the project live and it’s been really great meeting and performing with so many like-minded and talented people.
ASCENSION: IIOIOIOII is an interesting choice for a name. How did you come up with that and how is it pronounced?
IIOIOIOII: HAHAHA The pronunciation is the easy part. It’s simply I.O. Originally the project was called iio. I recorded my first EP under that name and while designing the cover I had the letters IIO IOI OII stacked on top of each other in a column. A few weeks later I was informed that there was a producer who recorded under iio and still had the rights to it. So like many other bands in the past I had to change the project name. There isn’t any significance to the name I just liked the arrangement of the letters in an aesthetic kind of way.
ASCENSION: Do you have a process for writing music, or is it more spontaneous?
IIOIOIOII: It’s a little of both, I start off with vague emotions or tones and begin to write and record the music. When I start writing lyrics and recording vocals the emotions are then associated with concepts and memories that I have. It feels a lot like making sculpture with clay. You start off with a rough form and you begin trimming and shaping it until it’s ready for fine polishing before placing it in a kiln.
ASCENSION: You have some powerful songs and I’d like to talk about a couple of them. “We Are The One.” the melody is quite uplifting. What are the lyrics about?
IIOIOIOII: Thank you! We Are The One was meant to be exactly that. I know there’s a lot of negativity with the world but we’re all people and everyone needs help now and then. I’ve never known anyone to succeed completely on their own. The song is basically a message to everyone stating that despite any mistakes you make or the decisions you make it won’t segregate you from others. We all affect each other in some way and we’re all going on this journey through life together. Face Them All is about trying to live your life to the most and overcoming any obstacles that come your way. A lot of the songs on Post Brimstone are positive in theme.
ASCENSION: Another great one is “Rising Sky.” What was your inspiration behind that song?
IIOIOIOII: That one is a lot darker and from my personal life. That song was a good bye to a friend of mine that fell victim to addiction. I ended up having to allow them to go their own way and decided to let go by writing a song about the experience.
ASCENSION: You recently did a cover of Apoptygma Berzerk “Kathy’s Song” for the Apop We Love You Tribute album. Are you a big fan?
IIOIOIOII: I’ve always enjoyed their work and have a tremendous amount of respect for them as musicians. I was always on the dance floor with everyone else when their tracks came on. I wanted to give myself a challenge by taking on one of their most famous songs. After it was all finished I gained a whole new level of respect for their strength as musicians.
ASCENSION: Care to comment on the state of the American synthpop/industrial scene?
IIOIOIOII: Tribal would be the best way to describe it. We have pockets of locations where these styles are doing quite well and there’s an audience for it. We have a few outlier bands that are doing extremely well everywhere mainly for their ability to go beyond the scene with other musical influences. On the other hand it’s difficult to lump the United States together since it’s so large. Not every country in Europe has a large following for synthpop or industrial much like not every state in the US has one. The artists that make this music clearly do so out of love for the music and the diehard fans.
ASCENSION: Any plans to play shows in Europe? What current bands would you love to tour with
IIOIOIOII: No plans to tour Europe yet but I really want to. I’m hoping to be able to play a festival or two one of these days. As for bands I’d like to tour with, I would love to tour with Machinista, Aesthetic Perfection, Assemblage 23, Alter Der Ruine, IAMX, to name a few. I’d be happy just to meet them in person to be honest.
ASCENSION: Your newest release comes in a bright pink cassette and it’s called “Post Brimstone” What can you tell us about it?
IIOIOIOII: Post Brimstone was supposed to be a quick EP that actually took longer to record than my last full length album. I initially released it in 2015 digitally and then AnalogueTrash approached me about releasing it on cassette and I was excited about the idea. I grew up on cassettes and they hold a special place in my heart. There’s something special about holding a tape in your hands it’s very involved much like a vinyl record. There’s a ritual to it. So much about Post Brimstone has been influenced by my favorite bands of the 80s it seemed fitting to release it in that format. I want to thank Adrian and Mark from AnalogueTrash for helping me get it out there. Everyone has been very supportive and excited for the release. It’s been very inspiring and motivating for me.
ASCENSION: Thank you for talking with our readers in Italy!
IIOIOIOII: I’m more than happy to! Thank you for taking the time to read this and supporting Ascension Magazine and all the artists out there. I love your beautiful country and hope to visit again soon.
My cousin Jesse asked me to DJ his wedding this past weekend. Back in the 70s/80s it was his father, my uncle, who spun records at weddings under the DJ name of “Steve Keen Music Machine,” and he gave me my very first taste of selecting and cueing up songs. I thought it would be fun to do, and to be honest, I found it very rewarding to play some mainstream hits and watch people go nuts on the dance floor. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. Who knows, maybe I’ll do it again in the future. This was not my usual mix of dark or obscure music, but I did manage to work The Cure into the set as you’ll see below 😉 I also had to slip in “Jesse’s Girl” for Jesse’s lovely new wife Elizabeth, who is an absolute catch. I’m sure the couple will have a wonderful life together!
cocktail / dinner:
a selection of claranet instrumentals by Mr. Acker Bilk
Frank Sinatra – I Get A Kick Out of You
Percy Sledge – When A Man Loves a Woman
Natalie Cole (with Nat King) – Unforgettable
Billie Holiday – The Very Thought of You
Adele – Crazy For You
Ben Folds – The Luckiest
Elton John – Can You Feel The Love Tonight
Buddy Clark/ Ray Noble – I’ll Dance at Your Wedding
Michael Buble – Dream a Little Dream
Carpenters – Because We Are In Love (the wedding songs)
Cliff Richards – Congratulations
Wet Wet Wet – Love Is All Around
Stevie Nicks (w Don Henley) – Leather and Lace – bride/groom
John Coltrane – Naima – bride/father
Jason Mraz – 93 Million Miles – groom/mother
LeAnn Rimes – I Believe – wedding party and others
The Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feeling
John Paul Young – Love is In The Air
Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines
Bee Gees – You Should Be Dancing
Madonna – Vogue
Mark Ronson feat Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
Daft Punk feat Pharrell – Get Lucky
Lionel Richie – All Night Long
Bill Medley – The Time of My Life
Belinda Carlisle – Heaven Is A Place on Earth
Andy Williams – Can’t Take My Eyes off You
The Commodores/The Cure – Easy /Heaven (Brat Mashup)
Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight
Etta James – At Last
Eric Carmen – Hungry Eyes
Abba – Dancing Queen
Chic – Good Times
Taio Cruz – Dynamite
Deee-Lite – Groove is In The Heart
Cindy Lauper – Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Rick Springfield – Jesse’s Girl
Walk The Moon – Shut Up And Dance
bride and groom walk under bridge of sparklers:
Coldplay – A Sky Full of Stars
Bangles – Eternal flame
Cyndi Lauper – All Through The Night
Chris De Burgh – Lady In Red
Journey – Open Arms
Beatles – Something
Ben E King – Stand By Me
This article was originally published in the March 2015 issue of Ascension Magazine which is entirely in Italian. I wanted to share the English version in case that is easier for some people to read. Enjoy!
🙂 ~ Candy
Keeping America’s traditional Goth alive
– an Interview by Candy Rosenbaum
California, USA. If you haven’t been there, you should know that it’s quite different from the rest of the United States. The people there are different. The attitude is different. California has started so many great things in entertainment. And, one thing is for certain; California has been one of the starting points for the American gothic rock scene. Christian Death, 45 Grave, Screams For Tina, Switchblade Symphony, London After Midnight, and the list goes on.
Former Humans, are one of the current California bands that I would say are helping to keep the scene alive here in America. They blend traditional gothic rock and deathrock sounds of the past with the robust songwriting knowledge that comes with their years of experience. It’s worth mentioning that the band have gotten some attention lately, being featured on some radio shows and in some compilations. More recently, guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite (The Mission/Peter Murphy/Theatre of Hate) did a remix of their track, “Heaven’s Gate.”
I had the chance to talk with lead vocalist Brandon Anderson and guitarist Mark Allen from Former Humans and discuss their music a little further, and of course we discussed the scene currently in California.
ASCENSION: Thanks for chatting with us, guys. First off, tell us a little bit about your band members and how you gottogether:
Mark: During a downtime with my other band, Hyena Motorcade, I had been writing some new material that seemed to be a bit too traditionally gothic inspired to really fit well into the Hyena set so I started thinking about forming a new side project. I knew Brandon from playing with him in a band called The Widowed, and have always been impressed with his vocals, so I reached out to him. He was open to working on a new project, I sent him some guitar and drum machine structures that I had come up with, and he started writing the lyrics and working the phrasings and that was it. We clicked right from the start. I found original bassist Rick Greeno through a Craigslist ad (Online advert) that I had posted and shortly after that drummer Alberto Campos responded to the same ad and we had the initial lineup in place and started writing, rehearsing, and playing shows fairly quickly. Brandon and I first got together to work on songs in June 2012 and by the end of August 2012 we were playing live shows, so it was a pretty quick process, and by November we were already playing larger Festivals, such as the Eternal Death Wake Festival in San Francisco, as well as opening for bands such as 45 Grave, ABC, Midge Ure (Ultravox), Bow Wow Wow, Kommunity FK, Kid Congo Powers (Cramps/Gun Club/Nick Cave). Things were happening really fast and it was all going really good from the very start…
Brandon: Mark is a fantastic guitar player. Alberto is a amazing drummer. Joe, Steven, James, and Rick have all been fantastic bass players. Like Mark said, we used to play together in other bands, so when we got together it just clicked! I do write all the lyrics and Mark handles the music, but it feels like the songs write themselves.
ASCENSION: Your single, “Heaven’s Gate” is one of my favorites, the guitar really rocks, and the vocals are so delightfully wicked. Can you tell me something about thelyrics? “39 faces riding on goat tails?” what does that mean?
Brandon: “Heavens Gate” is about a cult that committed suicide in San Diego back in 1997. 39 people poisoned themselves in hopes of being taken with a comet into space.
Mark: I absolutely love the lyrics that he wrote for that piece….amazing….I am Brandon’s biggest fan I think!! I am lucky that I get to write with him…In regards to the guitar, I wrote that in about five minutes…isn’t that they way so many musicians say that some of their best stuff happens? It’s true! At least in this case.
Ascension: Wow! I have heard of that, it’s amazing when it happens. Did you have a direction you wanted to go, or some influences in mind?
Mark: I did.. Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim, and Interpol…all of them played a part in my mind during the writing. Now that I have said that, if you listen to it again, you’d probably know what I was referring to. But, I always have those bands rolling around in the back of my brain somewhere when writing. Guitarists Hussey, Marx and Gunn from the Sisters are probably my biggest guitar influences followed closely by John Ashton and Roger Morris of the Psychedelic Furs who were early guitar influences and ones that basically changed the way I wrote completely. My guitar playing came from a classic rock background before I heard the Furs.
ASCENSION: The California gothic rock/deathrock scene is legendary and its historyis well known even with the Italian dark music fans. Some say that scenehas all but died off – what do you think? Is it still alive and kicking?
Mark: It’s definitely still alive and kicking, however in somewhat of a different way. There are still elements here that hearken back to circa 1987 but the gothic music scene has splintered off in so many sub-genres since that time that it’s become a bit muddled in regards to the sonic aspect…I mean you have sub-genres such as Steampunk that are considered part of the gothic culture but they really have very little to do with the roots or even the visual and in a lot of cases the musical aesthetic of what many think of as “traditional gothic rock” ala Bauhaus, Specimen, Sisters, etc…but hey, even back then there were multiple factions with Sisters trying so hard to distance themselves from the Batcave scene and/or goth in general combined with the whole post-Zeppelin, neo-hippy thing going on within the “gothic” culture back then with The Cult, Sisters, Mission, Balaam & the Angel, etc…so it’s really no different in theory I suppose…just in the players….
Brandon: I hope the scene dies. Then music could be resurrected. All too often bands are graded on image rather than the actual sound coming from a record. People should be more into art than a can of hairspray. Express yourself as a individual and have fun. I dress the way I do because I have a sense of fashion…it has nothing to do with the music i listen to.
ASCENSION: This one’s for Brandon. I’d love to know what some of your vocal influences are. Do you have a favorite singer you look up to?
Brandon: I have always enjoyed the old crooners from the big band era. Roy Orbison is one of my top favorites. Jim Morrison…the list goes on and on!
ASCENSION: Mark, you mentioned your other band Hyena Motorcade earlier, I am a big fan of this music too! Want to tell us a bit about it?
Mark: Hyena Motorcade was a side project of another band I helped to start called BloodPenny. The BloodPenny vocalist Ric Kaley departed that band fairly early on in the band’s trajectory and he and I remained in close contact even after he left. I told him the idea of a new project that would be a bit more like The Psychedelic Furs, New Order, Cure, etc and he liked the idea so I sent him some song ideas that I had, which ended up being “Shadows” and “Into The Static,” and that is how Hyena Motorcade started. We were fortunate to get “Shadows” into a the soundtrack of a weekly cable television series through my job, and the reaction to it gave us a reason to keep going. Since then, we have done some really great things and I am very proud of the music. I brought in Alberto Campos who is also the Former Humans drummer. Alberto appears on the Hyena Motorcade debut EP, which is getting some rotation in Japan and the UK. John Ashton of The Psychedelic Furs will be producing Hyena Motorcade’s full length album sometime in 2015. We are still working out details and logistics. We hope to tour if we could find promoter funding. There are some opportunities to support our friends, Modern English, on their tour, once they finish recording their new album. Also, John Ashton’s new project Satellite Paradiso may tour the US in 2015 as well and we have been told we will get the opportunity to open for them, so we are looking forward to that.
ASCENSION: And, what are your future plans for Former Humans?
Mark: We’ll be trying to get the EP out in actual hard copy CD form and market that to radio programs and dance clubs, etc. Probably playing some local shows… I am always hunting around for the big shows of course and sometimes promoters will contact me, and sometimes I will see a show listed and I will go after it.
Brandon: I just want to continue making music with a talented group of guys!
ASCENSION: I’m guessing there are some gothic rock fans in Italy who might enjoy a copy of your EP. How canItalians get their hands on some of your music?
Mark: The Former Humans downloads and CDs will be made available some time after the holiday season, so hopefully by the time your issue is printed. Hyena Motorcade has an actual CD as well as downloads and other merchandise available currently. [links below]
ASCENSION: On behalf of my friends in Italy who read Ascension Magazine, I want to thank you for the chance to talk with you.
Mark: Cheers to all the readers in Italy from us here in Southern California, and thank you for allowing us the opportunity to be included in your great magazine!!
Sept 19. 2014 –
Last Remaining Pinnacle, Yarbs, Earth Mover, Heiros, DJ Candy
A Place To Bury Strangers – Alone
Ringo Deathstarr – God’s Dream
Dum Dum Girls – Rimbaud Eyes
Siouxsie and The Banshees – Peek A Boo
Louis XIV – Finding Out True Love Is Blind
She Wants Revenge – Tear You Apart
Brian Jonestown Massacre – Wisdom
Teenage Sin Taste – Sleepless
Catherine Wheel – I Want To Touch You
The Foreign Resort – Orange Glow (Novachild mix)
Screen Vinyl Image – Revival
Cold Cave – People Are Poison
The Soft Moon – Zeros
Joy Division – Shadowplay
ACTORS – It Goes Away
The Dandy Warhols – We Used To Be Friends
Curve – Fait Accompli
Modern Man – Wild Animal
The Dragons – Trust
The Chameleons – Don’t Fall
Principe Valiente – Take Me With You
Blouse – Trust Me
Wonky Doll and The Echo – Obsession
Revel Hotel – Phantasm
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking
The Foreign Resort – Flushed
The Secret Post – Eyelashes
[Last Remaining Pinnacle]
O. Children – Chimera
Light Asylum – Dark Allies
Tones On Tail – Go (Club Mix)
White Lies – Holy Ghost
White Rose Movement – London’s Mine
Trust – Bulbform
Ladytron – Ghosts
The Cure – Screw
Diego – A Lot Like You
My Bloody Valentine – (When You Wake) You’re A Dream
The Wars – Parsec
Unkle – Money And Run (feat Nick Cave)
Miami Dice – So The Night Goes
Thanks to everyone who came out! 🙂
This article was originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of Ascension Magazine which is entirely in Italian. I wanted to share the English version in case that is easier for some people to read. Enjoy!
🙂 ~ Candy
The Foreign Resort
The Chameleons of Copenhagen
– an Interview by Candy Rosenbaum
Out of Copenhagen, Denmark, this band has already had an EP and a debut album as well as lots of shows throughout Europe and the US over the past few years. Now, their new album “New Frontiers” has just been released, and was produced by the one and only John Fryer. This record is the most solid sound we’ve heard from this band, displaying more of their raw passion for postpunk and new wave, and their ability to write good hooks and melodies. The Foreign Resort have truly focused their energy and evolved into a mature project, but they aren’t afraid to keep evolving.
Recently, while the band toured through the USA, working their way from the east coast, through the south, and over to Texas for the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival, they found themselves with a day off, and made a stop here in Charlotte, North Carolina. During their visit, we sat down and chatted about their music, their influences, touring, and their new album. Joining me were Mikkel Jakobsen, lead singer/guitarist, and Morten Hanzn, drummer. (To complete the live lineup, Steffan Petersen also joined this tour on bass.)
Even though I had unfortunately missed the band’s show in Raleigh, after talking with them, I could tell these guys know a thing or two about performing live. And, their smiles, energy and enthusiasm told me that they were thoroughly having a good time on this tour.
Q: Thank you for joining us for this little chat in the pages of Ascension Magazine. Let’s start with something easy. Can you tell us, how did the band form?
MIKKEL: It was a solo project to begin with, and then after about a year or so, I got in touch with Morten, our drummer. Then we started contacting other people. Eventually by 2006 we became a band – two guitars, bass, and drums. We were fooling around in the practice space for about two years to figure out exactly what we were going to sound like, which then resulted in the first album coming out in 2010. So, it really took about four years to become the band with the sound we have now, but the sound keeps developing. The current lineup is me on guitar and vocals, there’s Morten on drums and vocals, and there’s Henrik Fischlein, who is not with us on this tour, on guitar and bass. So, the quartet has turned into a trio lately, after the latest recording.
Q: Your music feels very familiar to me, though it would be difficult to compare your sound to any one band. You have your own unique style. But, I’m curious, what are some bands that you get compared to?
MORTEN: I would say a little bit of The Cure, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, New Order, My Bloody Valentine…
MIKKEL: Brooklyn Vegan [music blog] compared us to The Chameleons. That’s a good one.
Q: And would you say that list is quite accurate as far as your influences?
MORTEN: Yeah you could say that. Also The Jesus and Mary Chain. We’ve heard that one as well, and I can totally see that comparison in pieces of our music coming together there.
MIKKEL: We listen to a lot of newer, rather unknown bands. A bigger one of them, which is not really unknown, is The Soft Moon. I know Morten has been listening to a lot of them. So as far as the droning sound of the songs, the chorus on the bass guitar and things like that, we just we listen to a lot of different things; New Canyons from Chicago.. André Obin.. I don’t know, anything new will influence us all the time. There’s of course always the basics; The Cure, The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, etc., but we keep redefining ourselves because we get new ideas from what we listen to.
Q: It’s always interesting to know how a band comes up with their songs. Describe your songwriting process. How do your songs start to take shape?
MIKKEL: I usually make demos at home and then I bring them into the practice space and I play them for the band, and they say, “wow, that’s a great track,” and we start rehearsing that, or they say, “well, that’s an ok song,” and then we throw it in the trash. [laughs] So it either gets accepted or it doesn’t get accepted. Well, if it gets accepted then we start working on it and every band member will start adding their own touch to the song, so the demos often sound very little like the final result. For example, Morten will often refuse to play the drums that I programmed, which is cool because he adds the organic touch to the whole thing. Our guitarist, he’s very noisy and I’m less noisy, so it develops more.
MORTEN: Yeah the whole process is like Mikkel said, but sometimes a demo will come up and we’ll say, “this is a shitty song, but the chorus is really good, let’s build from that.” Then, something new develops in a whole different way, and Mikkel takes it back home and starts redefining the whole thing around the chorus, or the words, or the hook line or whatever. That’s the whole interesting part of that process.
MIKKEL: It’s actually very interesting. You know, the chorus from “Dead End Roads” is a bridge from a different song that got canceled because everyone hated it. We worked on it, we changed the chords just a bit, but the actual vocal line is a bridge from a different song, and now it’s the hook line!
MORTEN: One more example like that would be the song “Dave,” which is the B side of the single “Alone,” It basically came out of a guitar riff that our guitar player Henrik used to play all the time in the rehearsal room, and one day Mikkel came in the rehearsal room and said, “Hey man, I used your riff. Listen to to this!” Everyone was like, “Hey, that’s great! That’s awesome!”
Q: So you have a new album, “New Frontiers” How are your fans reacting so far? How does it compare to your previous work in “Scattered and Buried”?
MIKKEL: Oh yeah! That’s a big difference. I mean, “Scattered and Buried” was this combination of older recorded songs and remixes and it was was kind of like a very mixed reception. The new album, it’s being received very well, because it’s more focused, and I guess the songs are better too. We abandoned the shoegaze almost entirely to go postpunk/new wave instead. And so, the responses have been really good. But, I think we’re still rebuilding, because our audience are still unsure, like, “What are you really? Are you shoegaze? What are you?” So we’re kind of re-branding ourselves in black and white, and building on John Fryer’s reputation. So, it has been really good. Great reviews so far.
Q. That leads to my next question. John Fryer, the producer on this album, is known for so many great records. He has worked with everyone from Depeche Mode to Fad Gadget to Clan of Xymox and many, many more. What was it like working with this legendary producer?
MORTEN: That guy is really a pro, so we were pretty excited to start out the process with him. He was so down to Earth and always in control of his ideas and the way he works. It totally reflected the whole recording process. It was nice and calm, intense, and a lot of hours. Twelve hour days, eleven days. But it was good, I think he challenged everyone in the band in his own ways, and “New Frontiers” came out of that.
MIKKEL: A good example was that we had a lot of trust in his decisions, even though we were like, “woah, this is weird.” He put me in front of a huge old microphone from 1948 which, from what I heard in my headphones, it sounded terrible. Then he said, “I think we’re going to use this for the entire album.” and we were like, “ehmm.. alright. Let’s do it, let’s do it.” So he did that, and at the end, after the final mix we could totally hear why he did that. If he had used a super hi-fi microphone, then we would have been a total ripoff of The Cure, but since it’s more lo-fi and pulled back, it sounds older and, I don’t know, it sounds like our own sound.
Q. I’ve heard from other bands that there is always one song on the album that was a headache, that took more time and effort than the rest, but it’s usually worth it. Was there any song on the new album that was particularly challenging?
MORTEN: I would say “Quiet Again” was a challenge for me because I didn’t know in which direction the song would take. And, Fryer actually insisted on me recording the drums all in one session, so I worked my ass off for like three days. And when we finished and we started to put layers on top of that, I could instantly hear that the drums I had been working on just didn’t work. So, I went to him and said, “Hey, tomorrow morning, we have to tape that all over again because my approach to that was totally wrong.” So we did that, and after that, it turned out pretty good.
Q: When you play live, do you prefer the smaller intimate venues or do you like the big festival crowds? Do you have a preference of the types of places you like to play?
MIKKEL: It depends on the audience really, and how they respond to our show. I would say more than often I like to play the small venues because you get the people all the way up front, and you’re kind of interacting with them, like cracking jokes or whatever. The whole serious image we have, that kind of breaks when we go onstage because I actually like to have a laugh. But sometimes the audience gets really serious, like, “ah, we’re watching this gloomy band, we’ll be gloomy too.” I’ll be like, “oh, whatever.” I prefer having a few laughs. When we played recently at Great Scott in Boston, I had some trouble with my pedals. It turned out good and everything, but there was this interaction with the audience and everyone was like, “c’mon get it fixed” just laughing and everything.
MORTEN: Then again, you know, big stages are cool too. When we supported the Raveonettes on their Denmark tour in winter of 2011, we played bigger stages than we’re used to. The crowd were a little bit different, but they were listening and they were receptive, and it was really cool. It was a different feeling, a bigger feeling. I’m a fan of that – the big stage, the big sound. Our songs deserve a big sound, you know, a big PA system, things like that.
Q. And now you’re on your way to South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas later this week and this will be your third time. I have to assume it’s worth the trip to go. So how it compare to other festivals you’ve played?
MIKKEL: I would say it’s more fun that any other festival. We have showcase festivals in Europe, like in Holland, Germany and Denmark, but they’re more organized. They’re smaller, but more organized. SXSW is this huge chaos of these 7000 shows in one week and something like 3000 bands playing, if not more. But we kind of enjoy that, I don’t know, the whole chaos of that is cool. What we exactly get out of it, I’m not sure. We’ll have to see what happens after SXSW. But, I guess we’re just jumping head first into it and doing it as we go along. We have five shows set up, and I know all of them will be pretty chaotic, but I don’t know, we’re used to it now that we’ve been there before. It’s a lot of fun.
Q. Obviously I am talking with you today on behalf of my fellow postpunk/newwave fans who live in Italy and who read Ascension Magazine, and they’ll want to know something about when they can see you live, so I ask; do you have some plans to tour in Italy?
MIKKEL: We just signed with the Italian label Black Nutria and they’re releasing the album in May. They’re doing some promotion for that. We already have the first reviews coming out in Italy now, I just read one today.. in Italian, which was why I didn’t understand it [laughs.] So, we’re planning Italian shows for the fall, which would be probably September or October, so stay tuned for that!
Official Website: http://theforeignresort.com
This article was originally published in the Spring 2014 issue of Ascension Magazine which is entirely in Italian. I wanted to share the English version in case that is easier for some people to read. Enjoy! 🙂 ~ Candy
MOUNTAIN OASIS ELECTRONIC MUSIC SUMMIT
an overview and report on the five best performances
This is my first time writing a report for Ascension, so I’ll say, “Hello from the USA!” For the past few years I have been contributing by designing the cover page, so I’ve watched every issue with reports on WGT, Villa Festival, Leeds, etc and I’ve enjoyed experiencing the European festivals through these pages, so now I’ll try to do the same of an American festival. If you’re a fan of electronic music or simply curious about a music festival in the US, you should read on…
First, a little background: Asheville, North Carolina is a small town nestled in the mountains about two hours from the big city of Charlotte, my home. In the conservative “bible belt” of the Southern USA, Asheville stands out as a rare, liberal pocket. In fact it has been nicknamed “The Cesspool of Sin” by religious types who would burn the whole town at the stake if they could. The area is buzzing with art and culture, and swarming with bohemians and free-thinkers (and yes there is a goth scene.)
This town has been home to Moog Music since 1978. Robert Moog made Asheville his home for the latter part of his life. Moog’s electronic music festival, “Moogfest” moved here in 2010. Last year Moog parted ways with AC Entertainment, the company who had been in charge of organizing the festival. As soon as the split was announced, AC announced they would instead start a new festival and call it, “Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit” (what a long name, we will just call it MOEMS) Now, Asheville will have two annual festivals; Moogfest every April and MOEMS every October. This is quickly making a name for Asheville as a destination for synth lovers and electronic music fans.
The challenge with music festivals is to try and navigate through the enormous lineups to find the artists who interest you most. With the 3-night MOEMS festival, there were a lot to choose from in almost any electronic genre you could think of (and perhaps some non-electronic ones that we’re wondering why they were there.) With a lot of preparation, I was able to see everything I wanted and more. I won’t cover all the bands I saw, but I’ve selected what I think are the top five performance highlights for me.
#5 PURITY RING
From what I hear they were added at the last minute to fill in for another artist who backed out. This duo’s performance was “large.” I don’t know how else to describe it. Loud and bass-filled, with volume levels I wasn’t quite used to. Often the bass and percussion would drown out the vocals, but singer Megan James had a rather stunning and powerful stage presence that was hard to ignore. Several lanterns lit the stage and were shaped like alien larvae pods and smaller lanterns worked in sync with Corrin Roddick’s synths and percussion which made for an eerie, otherworldly experience. This is a band that I haven’t listened too very much and I only know a song or two, but I’d say the live show surpassed my expectations.
I arrived about 10 minutes late and came in just as the band were playing “Tick of The Clock” made famous by being part of the soundtrack to the film, “Drive” (One of the best movie soundtracks in recent years, in my opinion.) The theater was so crowded, I couldn’t find a place to stand. The room was filled with energy, though the band seemed to want to play it cool and pose like sculptures more than dance. They sounded great, though. “Cherry” and their cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” were in perfect form. It was almost too perfect, with songs sounding pretty much the same as they do on the CD. But they were playing real instruments, so let’s just say they gave a solid, tight performance that had the entire room dancing in unison.
#3 ZOLA JESUS W/ JG THIRLWELL
How dare the festival organizers do this to me… how dare they overlap this show with Gary Numan!? Luckily there was time to catch about half of the show before I had to go. Well, what can I say? Nika, the tiny girl with the powerful voice did not disappoint. The symphonic orchestra conducted by JG Thirlwell and some nice electronic drum sounds lifted her into another dimension. It was if we were being beckoned by an angel to proceed through the tunnel of light. I would have crossed over. At one point, she came down from the stage and went into the crowd, being passed by drunken idiots who didn’t realize she was there. She broke into a laugh. When she was on stage, she gave the illusion of being tall, with giant platform clogs and her hair stacked into a bun on top of her head, but the true tallness was in her voice. By far,“Night” is my favorite song and to hear it live was a moment for me. I nearly cried. I didn’t want to leave. But, she is young, there will be a lot more from her.
#2 NINE INCH NAILS
This was my first time seeing NIN so I have nothing to compare this show to, but I will say this was one of the most amazing stage shows I have seen in a while. No matter that we decided to sit up in the balcony way back in the arena. It was the best spot to see the full stage. Seeing Trent Reznor was only secondary to being able to see this intense light show. There is really no way to describe, but the lights made every song feel ten times more electrifying. Opening with his new one “Copy of A” and later, launching into some of the old Pretty Hate Machine hits that I was glad he was still willing to play and hadn’t tired of.. “Head Like a Hole,” “Terrible Lie” “Sanctified”.. Suddenly, I was back in college again. Encore was an amazing soul-ripping performance of “Hurt” What didn’t he play? “Closer.” Perhaps he is as tired of that one as club DJs are. Great, great show.
#1 GARY NUMAN
In 2009, Numan had toured in the US and the one show he canceled was the one I was attending in Atlanta, Georgia. He owed me a show! So, I finally got my wish. Earlier in the day, I went to a bonus event; a sit-down interview with Numan in a very intimate theater. The whole interview is on youtube if you look for it. What can I say, the man is endearing and boyishly charming, giggling and cracking jokes, and sometimes getting very personal. He also had lots of inspiring tidbits of wisdom. I walked out feeling my outlook on life a little brighter. It was at that moment I forgave him for canceling that Atlanta show.
Later that evening came the show. Sadly I missed the introduction and first song since I was still running over from where I was seeing Zola Jesus, but thanks to NPR.org posting the entire show in high quality audio on their website, I heard it later. From start to finish, Numan was kicking serious ass on stage. Powerful and strong vocals and intense moments of pure synthesizer bliss. It was so powerful in some moments I have to say I sort of went into some sort of musical drunken trance where I had no idea of my surroundings and ignored all attempts at human interaction. It was simply amazing and I was in heaven. Highlights for me were hearing some of the old ones; “Down In The Park” “Prayer for The Unborn” and of course “Cars” (sadly, no “Are Friends Electric”) The songs blended well with his new material “Everything Comes Down To This” “Love Hurt Bleed” and, I get emotional just thinking about his performance of “Lost.” Seeing this legendary pioneer of electronic music was what absolutely made my weekend complete.
Other performances I did not mention were Cut Copy, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Baths, Disclosure, Neutral Milk Hotel and The Orb, to name a few. The other fun part of this festival is the people-watching. Since it’s close to Halloween, a lot of people dressed in costume, some of them elaborate. There were beer tastings, flash mob dance-offs, discussion panels, and a synth meetup to play with some boutique modular synths. All in all, a fantastic weekend with lots of memories. If I could choose a time in 2013 to go back and experience again, it would be this weekend. Next year can’t come soon enough!
In some dark corner of Tulsa, Oklahoma comes a lineup of four guys; Zachariah, Nicoli, M,and Tim. The Secret Post; a band that has been coined by the local scene as “a dark and sensual mix of New Wave restraint and rock excess.” (Tulsa World) “Tulsa’s new dark-romantics are sexy, sultry and imminently danceable” (The Urban Tulsa)
The band describes themselves: “The Secret Post is sex…The Secret Post is dark romance…and The Secret Post will make you dance all dead…WE WILL RUIN YOU.”
Whatever way they’re described, this is a great postpunk revival band with influences of The Cure and Joy Division… I hear hints of The Chameleons.. Modern English.. maybe a bit of Asylum Party… The Sisters of Mercy… Danse Society…
The band has had its ups and downs since founded in 2004 by lead man Zachariah Wiser, but now with a solid lineup and tons of material under their belt, they’re ready to take on their first full album. And, ooh I know a secret! I can’t tell you yet, but all I can say is they’re working with an influential guitarist from the 80s for this album, and you may have heard of this person before 😉
This is definitely a band to keep a watchful eye on in 2014 and beyond!
The Harrow are a new formation of talented Brooklyn musicians coming together to create a pure decadent coldwave sound that is both icy and warm. The band is comprised of previous members of bands like Bell Hollow, Revel Hotel and Dream Affair, to name a few. The band’s self-titled debut EP is up on bandcamp as of today.
Noblesse Oblige are French-Caribbean performer Valerie Renay and German producer Sebastian Lee Philipp. This band has actually been around since 2006 and has four albums under their belt. I still have yet to explore their entire discography, but everything I’ve heard so far has been amazing.
I took a listen to some other great songs of theirs such as “The Great Electrifyer” from their third album “Malady”
Also.. I really must mention their cover of “Gloomy Sunday” since it’s one of my favorite songs (best known as performed by Billie Holiday but was actually written back in the 1930s) such a beautiful version of the song…
And now we come to the fourth album “Affair Of The Heart” which was just released in May. The album was recorded and produced in Berlin at studio haven ‘Turmwerk’, founded by Chris Corner of Sneaker Pimps/IAMX. The album is excellent from start to finish. Here’s their most recent single off the album.. a very sexy track, “Mata Hari”
The band are fearless and artistic in their approach and, while they stay on the dark and underground side, they’re not allergic to pop and dance. I look forward to diving into their work a little deeper.
These guys from Orange County, California are slowly getting noticed, and deservedly so. They make no secret of the fact that they are heavily influenced by bands like The Psychedelic Furs, New Order, The Sisters of Mercy and of course David Bowie. The first single I heard from them a couple of years ago was “Heartbreaks“.. full of melancholic romantic tones and a very clear taste of that Furs sound.. singer Rik Kaley’s smooth vocals are endearing and unmistakably nostalgic of a lot of things I loved about the 80s. And yet, this sound is also very “now”… gorgeous track…
Then I went back and listened to some of their other tracks such as “Shadows” and detected the darker more gothic and deathrock influences. (by the way, just a bit of trivia.. guitarist, Mark Allen has a long history in the Los Angeles goth scene and was one of the early members of Ex-Voto. Singer Rik had worked together with Mark in another California goth/deathrock band called BloodPenny some years back. Currently, Mark is also in another postpunk/gothic rock project called Former Humans.) Amazing bass work on this one from bassist Art Agunod…
Now the band have a brand new single “10000 Sparrows” which to me is almost Bowie-esque in parts with the vocals.. such passion in this melody.. someone on soundcloud called the guitar work on this track “buttery”.. perfect description. This track features world class drummer Alberto Campos who recently joined both Hyena Motorcade and Former Humans.
The band are working on their full length album and are in hopes to close a deal with a label soon. Their current songs are available to purchase through iTunes [here] and other digital outlets. I’m looking forward to hearing what comes next!
It’s no surprise this is some great music out of Brooklyn. The Mystic Underground, Vlad and Ben, can write pop songs without selling out… songs that are bright and upbeat but still emit some bitterness of life’s struggles and disappointments… songs that will make you want to dance, or perhaps make you want to stand up to your asshole boss. Empowering songs with thoughtful lyrics. Vladimir Valette’s dramatic and soulful vocals add to this empowerment. Benedetto Socci puts the melodies to work with amazing electronic arrangements and intense lead synths, pulling from various influences, which is why it would be hard to tag them into one genre. These guys never pause.. when they’re not writing and recording or working on a remix, they’re playing shows around New York. It’s also worth mentioning that singer Vlad is often in the chatroom on Strangeways Radio. He joined the chat during an episode of Toy Factory when I first played their song “Discord and Panic,” off their “Dreamers and Lovers” EP, and we kind of adopted him, so he’s been joining chats ever since 😉 And of course, it’s not surprising that The Mystic Underground is a staple in the Strangeways Radio library. DJs love them because It’s just good stuff!
These guys have a few videos, but I’ll just share this one since it’s one of my favorite songs. This tune can stay in my head for days! Great video too:
The band have now finished a new EP which is called “Gender Rules” and will be out probably sometime in July (follow them on Facebook for updates on the release) For now, they have put out the first single off the EP, “Fanfare For The Modern Man”
free download [click here]
After reading NME’s review of Girls Names’ new album “The New Life,” (Slumberland Records) I found myself on Spotify, giving it a listen (after all, how could I resist their description of doom-laden goth pop?) What I heard was a lot of influence from The Cure, Joy Division, Echo and The Bunnymen, Smiths etc.. and a modern art rock sound peeking through to let you know this is not the 80s anymore. Girls Names hails from Northern Ireland (Belfast) and, unless I’m misunderstanding the article, NME says that “The New Life” is the band’s debut, which is a bit confusing. This album actually makes the band’s second full-length, and they’ve also had a mini album and an EP (which could be considered their debut, released through Captured Tracks.) So, anyway, they’ve been around making music since 2009. The band has indeed shifted their sound towards a darker influence and away from that beachy surfy indie pop sound (not that there’s anything wrong with that)… also the band has added members, so I guess in a sense, we can consider them a debut outfit. I look forward to seeing where this band goes.. all I can say is “Drawing Lines” has haunted me for days… a relatively simple track (the vocal melody mimics the guitar line).. but that melancholic riff just gets me…
Here’s a band I would like to listen to more of. They’re an electronic duo from Montreal, Canada. I had accidentally stumbled upon their track “Haircut” a year or so ago when putting together an episode of Toy Factory and absolutely loved it. Later, I also included their song “Baby You Were Great” in an episode.
Members Dimitri and Filip have built up quite a nice catalogue of tracks on their Bandcamp page. Last year they put out their 10 track LP called “Heterotopias,” (which included the aforementioned “Haircut,”) and they have a couple other EPs and singles already under their belt. Subtle, romantic electronic sequences and rhythmic tones teamed with haunting vocals make for some nostalgia, but you would not listen to them and think they were something from the past. Something about their sound still takes you into the current scene. The band have played around North America and Europe alongside bands such as Dream Affair, Police des moeurs and Automelodi.
Here’s my very first listen…
The band now have a brand new single coming out, “Hilary” with the B side “Those Who Suffer” being released on Beko as a 7″ on May 12 (click here to preorder.) Back in February, the band posted on their Facebook page, “Our new LP album is ready! Details soon…” so, it sounds like we can watch for more from this band in the coming weeks 🙂
Here’s a video clip from their new single:
I’ve been a bit busy lately and I know it’s been months since I’ve done any kind of show. I’m quite sure I am now speaking to just a very small group of you. Thank you for sticking with me even though I’ve not been “in the loop” as much as I would like to be. I have a few bits of news I would like to share with you:
CAROUSEL RETURNS MAY 3, 2013
I still don’t feel I can come back full force with all 3 of my shows. I just have too much on my personal plate to commit to that much DJ time. That said, I do find myself missing it. So, for now, I think my schedule will allow me to bring back Carousel once a month, starting in May. This is a monthly podcast and I will post it on the first Friday of every month. The thing I like about Carousel is that the playlist isn’t thrown together in a few hours or a few days, but it evolves over the course of the month as I set aside interesting tracks I want to play. The end result is usually a mixed bag of songs that are of my taste, which makes it special to me and often personal. In the past, Carousel has had the least amount of listeners out of all three of my shows, but for some reason it gives me the most pleasure, so I will continue, and maybe if I’m lucky, a few of you will enjoy it 🙂 As for my other shows, Toy Factory and Crossover, they’re still on hold for now. It’s possible I could have a special interview podcast or two coming up, but nothing solid. I will let you know. You can check out old episodes of Carousel if you click here. Between now and May, I hope to fix my website to make the show easier to subscribe to on iTunes and RSS. I will also continue to blog “Feature Bands” when I can and hopefully make that subscribable.
BEDROOM CASSETTE MASTERS VOL. 2 – RELEASE DATE APR. 13th 2013
While I’ve been on hiatus, I have had the chance to play more with my synth toys. A year or so ago, I made a weird outer-spacey track called “Exploration” and it just sort of sat there on my soundcloud as a semi-finished experiment. I had downloaded the Vol. 1 Bedroom Cassette Masters compilation (label: Carrillion Cassettes) and quite enjoyed it. It was full of odd minimal wave stuff that was in the spirit of the vintage age of electronic music. More recently there was a call for submissions for Vol. 2. Much to my delight, they called for real OR “imagined” minimal wave projects from the 80s. They requested real OR fictional biography and cassette cover to be included with the submitted track, which needed to keep true to the aesthetic from that era, as if it were taped in a home studio. I couldn’t resist this fun idea! I reworked “Exploration” to take out anything that sounded too modern, and I added some Moogey sounds and vocal bits and some filters to give the track more of a non-digital flavor. I submitted it under the name of “Omniluxe” with a biography about a woman from Finland who wanted to make music for science fiction films (sadly, in the fake bio, she died LOL.) Simon Holland, the head curator of Bedroom Cassette Masters responded immediately and said he wanted the track on the compilation. He made some helpful suggestions for the final submission, then it was good to go. The compilation will come with a .pdf booklet with all the bios and images of the cassette covers. If you’re an electronic music nerd, you definitely should grab a copy. You can get Vol. 1 for free now on the BCM bandcamp page and Vol. 2 including a copy of “Exploration” will be just a few dollars to download on April 13 at this link. (also, I think my speaking voice is in the compilation’s intro track hehe) Thanks to Simon Holland for choosing my track. He was inundated with submissions so I feel honored I was chosen 🙂
NEW PROJECT: TENDERLASH
I want to push myself to finish projects I’ve started in the past few years since getting some new synth toys… I have all these unfinished tracks on my hard drive, or partial songs or vocal ideas. I have been a creative person all my life and composing music is the one area I haven’t done too much with. I like to write lyrics as well. I hope to make this side of my creativity more of a priority. Some of my friends have offered to collaborate and help with mixing or adding their own talents as I go along. Realistically, what I’ll consider as “finished” will be nothing more than homemade demos. I don’t have any desire to sink thousands of dollars into studio time to make my music sound pristine. I’ll do what I can with them here at home, and I expect nothing beyond that. I don’t want to force my music project down your throats. You came here for DJ Candy, the maker of playlists, not Candy the synth experimenter… which is why I decided to split off into another moniker, or “band name” if you will. Not to think too deeply into the name “Tenderlash,” but it sort of fits me and the type of music I want to make… it’s feminine, soft, timid, flirtatious, but also a bit melancholy and emotional… I don’t have any delusions about this project. I probably won’t be signing to a major label and going on a world tour LOL… but I’ll be happy if I can make something from start to finish and make it listenable. You won’t get news about Tenderlash on this website or on my DJ Candy facebook page, so please follow the Tenderlash facebook page if you’re interested in updates on this project www.facebook.com/tenderlash (and I have reserved www.tenderlash.com but there is nothing there yet but a splash page.)
In other news, I am still also helping out as the US Manager for the Italian band The Shade, so I hope you’ll check out their music and watch for updates on their Facebook page… and even though Toy Factory is on hiatus, I am still active with the Strangeways Radio community. Follow them on Facebook and check out all of the shows they have to offer!
That’s all for now. I wish you all a pleasant spring 🙂
Love and gratitude,
A foursome out of the UK music scene who rightfully tag themselves as “Electro-filth,” have been playing together since 2008. They have 2 EPs out, “Confessions” and “Last One Dies” with the title song being released on a split single (on pink vinyl!) with A*Star on May 3rd. Their sound is definitely naughty, and every song powerfully delivered with sexy vocals, jamming electro sounds and wicked bass lines.
BBC Radio 6 says, “”Definitely a band to look out for… Dark, Raw, energetic, very very loud and intense with powerful and compelling vocals”
This from their official biography:
Blindness features Beth Rettig (vocals, programming, noise), Kendra Frost (bass, noise), Debbie Smith (guitar, feedback,noise) and Alex Lutes (drums, programming, noise). Originally a three-piece they recruited Lutes to “fill out” an already intense set of pre-recorded loops and noise as well as live bass and guitar courtesy of Frost and Smith, the latter being guitarist for 90’s bands Curve and Echobelly and, later, Snowpony.Taking sonic tips from The Jesus and Mary Chain as well as My Bloody Valentine and with the hook sensibility of PJ Harvey, Blindness show “exquisite warmth” in their “seductive dark wave electro pop.”
This was the first song I heard from Blindness:
Check out the band’s new EP that was released last week:
find more info about Blindness on http://weareblindness.co.uk/ or their Facebook Page.