At Coachella two years ago, Flying Lotus, known to his flesh-and-blood friends as Steven Ellison, played one of those shows where the sun seemed to set just as the drugs kicked in. He blew us way mostly with an arsenal of tracks from his then-upcoming album, Until the Quiet Comes. That record eventually came out, and with its harmonically rich compositions and surgical beats, reinforced the L.A.-based producer as one of the most adventurous and tough-to-pin-down artists working in contemporary music. Yesterday, Flying Lotus tweeted that his follow-up album is in the final stages of completion, but without a release date. Instead, he put out a .zip file called Ideas+drafts+loops, that amongst its 24 outtakes features an unexpectedly simple remix of Kanye West’s pulverising anthem, “Black Skinheads.” The Flying Lotus leave in most of West’s touches alone, but adds a sparse, Radiohead-like guitar loop that twinkles behind West’s world-hating growl. Check it out below.
It’s not every video we get to see a couple of strong women in leotards, a Mexican wrestler, a tattooed sailor, a fireman, and an astronaut in a foot race, but that’s just one of the many flights of fancy on display in this exquisitely animated video for Eureka Birds’ “Fastest.” That’s before we get to the rocket flight to Mars.
The video, the first from the Baltimore band, was produced by Brooklyn’s dreambear production company, with a story by Matthew Yarrington and animation by Daniel Cordero.
“We’re really excited to put something visual to our music,” Eureka Birds told us in an email. “We always felt like animation was a good fit for our sound and we knew dreambear had a track record there. The artist they found just happened to be the perfect match. Daniel and Matthew really got what we were going for with ‘Fastest’ and brought it to life. Everything from the character design to the color palette just felt right. It was one of those rare, true collaborative processes.”
“The story Matthew set forth, and the concept of characters racing against themselves that Daniel took to the next level, is quite powerful,” dreambear added. “We wanted as much of an emotional undertone as possible with such a driving song… There are many ways, both literally and metaphorically, to find success. We don’t need the approval of others to know that we are winning. The capacity of personal triumph and a feeling of success without external influence reigns supreme in the video.”
Maybe the video isn’t quite as fanciful as I thought. Some of the characters are based off true stories, Cordero says.
“I love history, and I once read about how in the early 60′s there was a real Space Program in Zambia, Africa, that intended to take 10 humans and 10 cats to Mars (man hadn’t gone to the moon yet). I saw a few photographs of the astronauts and it just looked fantastic and amazingly exotic. So I thought it would be a good idea to take this story and give it some visualization for the music video.”
More from Eureka Birds here.
Robyn, the only person who really gets me like no one else, and no she doesn’t get you she gets me so back off, is back in the studio. About damn time. She tweeted a picture yesterday of herself at work with Röyksopp, with whom she’s produced some pretty glorious tracks in the past. (via via)
— Robyn (@robynkonichiwa) December 9, 2013
Most of the tour dates haven’t been announced yet, but check back here every day until they are.
Photo by Stian Andersen
Rebecca Black has finally answered the cliffhanger at the end of her smash hit “Friday”, what happens after that? It’s “Saturday” of course. I’m not going to watch this long enough to be able fire up any jokes so you guys are on your own with this one. Is it good? Probably. It probably is.
“‘Dreamboy’ is about being single in New York. It’s not about one dream boy in particular, but really about a whole collection of experiences,” The Prettiots’ Kay Kasparhauser sats of the New York City trio’s irresistibly kewt ukelele strummer. “There this point where I was just going to bars and wanting to find the man of my dreams and marry him, so I never had to go to another bar again. I mean, of course I wasn’t going to meet any one I could marry because it was like fucking Black Market.”
She lays out what she has in mind for such a non-existent creature anyway. “Won’t you please just be perfect right away….Won’t you please just do everything right the first time and know without me saying just exactly what’s on my mind.”
It’s tongue in cheek and funny here, but it’s kind of true isn’t it? Where is that person? Show yourself, we’re all waiting.
There’s nothing more off-putting and stoic than checking out an artist and having the venue be the size of a strip mall you’d visit back home on the holidays. Eoin Loveless agrees. The lead singer-slash-guitarist for UK post-grunge outfit Drenge has a personal preference for smaller, more intimate settings to showcase his music. “Playing a small venue just feels like where our band should be,” he explains in his video monologue for Burberry’s collaborative project with Noisey titled Sound And Rhythm. The series showcases artists and their respective performance processes long before we the fans get to hear a damn thing.
In Drenge’s case, Loveless details overcoming stage fright and the anxiety of wanting to deliver his best performance. He refers to their early sound as “shit,” but we all know that “shit” is out the window now. Drenge is bringing a proper dose of grungey rockey awesomeness to the world outside of London. “Our first shows to me were really exciting, even though I was terrified,” he recalls. “Now and then I do get nervous before we perform. I think it’s a case of like thinking we really need to put a good show on because we’ve traveled 12 hours to be there.” The result? Taking on smaller venues, where the experience is more personable. Who doesn’t love that? Check out Drenge’s Sound And Rhythm video, and hear a bunch of other rock stars’ stories here.
While her old outfit Best Coast may have gotten a bit more polished of late, that dashed-off garage punk charm that made us fall for the band in the first place is in ample supply on Upset’s She’s Gone, the new project from ex-drummer Ali Koehler (also of Vivian Girls). We asked Koehler and the rest of the Los Angeles band, which also includes Patty Schemel of Hole and former La Sera guitarist Jenn Prince (super group!) to share some photos from their recent tour with Screaming Females. She’s Gone is out now on Don Giovanni Records.
Speedy Ortiz are good. Their video for the song “No Below” is good. I like the video and the song, which are good. Maybe you will like them too? You’ll never know unless you watch it. That’s an inarguable fact right there, friend.
You can read more about the Massachusetts band here on Pitchfork, a music blog. I also asked the band some questions one time here on Buzzworthy, also a music blog. And that’s all the time we have for this blog post. See you in hell fuckers. Woh, this blog post took a surprisingly aggressive turn at the end there. Not sure what that was all about.
“I want to write about love, but I also want to write about the dark side of the world,” Mapei tells me in a suite at New York’s Ace Hotel. The 29-year-old was recently in Los Angeles filming a video to accompany her brand new song “Don’t Wait” and only stopped in New York for a few days. Raised in Rhode Island and then transplanted to Stockholm, she’s been dabbling in songwriting and rapping since sixth grade. Combining her desire to rap with Swedish club influences and Liberian folk music, her sound is fierce and nuanced—her social commentary more so. A chance meeting with Spank Rock in Sweden led her to connect with Downtown Records, who put out her EP Cocoa Butter Diaries back in 2009. The EP was full of plucky rapping and jazzy, digitized sampling and beats. But after a four-year hiatus, her return single has inspired a rabid new wave of interest.
A darkness surrounds Mapei, but it’s not ominous. It’s more like a palpable defiance, a refusal to fit into any preconceived notions. In place of her gruff, quick-paced elocution, Mapei’s voice is all honey, and she promises her new album will have plenty of both rapping and singing. Assured and deadpan, but equally prone to breaking into laughter, Mapei opened up about how Sweden affected her art, her thoughts on race, and rapping as a female artist.
Because you are relatively unknown, and it’s a little confusing, can you give me your take on your come up?
I did my first song in the sixth grade called “Come As You Are” with a rap group, because I lived in Sweden so the image of people I had in America were rappers. So I wanted to imitate them. When I was 18 I made an album, and I came to New York and shopped it around, but nothing really happened. So then I moved back to Sweden when I was 22 and started freestyling at different clubs, and a scene grew out of that. That was when I met Spank Rock. I didn’t even know of him, but we were doing the same style. I’ve always been scared to sing because my voice has never really been accepted. But now I want to sing more.
I think your voice amazing I don’t think it would be unaccepted! I’ve been listening to the EP a lot and compared to your new song they are very different. “Don’t Wait” is very much alt-R&B whereas the EP is like this plucky rap. For the album that’s coming will the 2009 elements be in there?
There will be 2009 elements in there because I think it’s important for social commentary, just to say how it is even if it’s not from my experience I’ve seen a lot of stories that I want to share. I grew up in the projects and then in Sweden I grew up in the suburbs there with a lot of immigrants and refugees and stuff. So I saw a lot of things I wanted to take from other people’s experiences and my own. So I want to write about love but I also want to write about the dark side of the world. (I used this in the lede, unsure whether you’d want to cut it here or not)
What parts of Swedish culture have influenced your art?
The darkness. It gets dark in the evening there around 3 in the winter. The melancholy that that darkness brought out has shaped me a lot.
How did you choose the name Mapei (pronounced Mah-pay)?
It’s my middle name and it means “wise woman.” It’s an African Bassa name, like a Liberian tribal language.
I noticed you said Liberian music was one of your influences. What is your connection to that?
I went to a record store and found Liberian folk music so I started listening to it. You can go on Youtube and look up “Liberian folk music” and hear folk songs. Liberia was never colonized, but it has a strong connection to America so they took a lot from American folk music. I think I have a bit of a Liberian accent when I sing and rap.
What stage are you at for the album?
I have seven songs that I like. It’s really eclectic. We have punk riffs, but it’s real soulful. There’s some spoken word on there. It’s a mixture of everything I’ve seen and where I’m from.
For “Don’t Wait,” you worked with Magnus Lidehall. What was that like?
He’s very cool, it’s like painting a picture. Music to me is like coloring a picture, and when you have a good partner that you can do that with and the music comes out as you imagine, then it’s really cool. He was in the Swedish rap scene, and everybody sort of knows each other in that scene.
There’s a line on “ “Every three or four years being black is a trend / then a white chick’s a ho because she’s got a black friend.” It really stuck out to me this year because of all the stuff with Miley Cyrus and her cultural appropriation. What are your thoughts on the subject?
I love what Miley is doing. Growing up I would defend my white girlfriends because I don’t like it when people say “oh you’re trying to be black” when they’re just being themselves. I don’t like race lines that people create. So my take on it is that I think cultures should blend, and there shouldn’t be any colors at all.
What are your thoughts on rapping as a female artist? It’s such a traditionally male genre and aside from Nicki, there’s not many other “accepted” female rappers.
I think Nicki is so good and I think she can compete with dudes. Because dudes compete with each other and they don’t really want to compete with chicks. So she can really do that and she’s a really dope rapper. For myself, I’m still developing as a rapper. I need to rap, it’s not like I want to. Sometimes it’s hard for me to rap because it’s so competitive and you have to be really good at it. But I need to do it to say what I want to say. I just think more chicks should express themselves. We’re so underestimated.
So if you blow up and become this huge pop star, are there any pop stars that you like? Where do you see yourself fitting into that?
I think I’m something new. I think I’m like Lady Gaga meets Bob Dylan. I want to still say what I want to say. Like Erykah Badu says “keep on singing those hymns.” There’s modern day slavery now—I sing hymns. I come from pain. I want to continue to bring that. I’m not going to fabricate anything.
It’s late at night after the first stop on Braids’ tour in support of their second full-length, Flourish//Perish, and Raphaelle Standell-Preston and I are sitting on the floor underneath a green light at Glasslands in Williamsburg. Meanwhile, her bandmates, drummer Austin Tufts and multi-instrumentalist Taylor Smith, pack up their gear. It’s an unexpectedly terrestrial vision of the Montreal-based trio, considering the ample accolades they collect for their otherworldly sound. While BRAIDS’ music certainly accessible, their unique personality shines through a thoughtful spontaneity and reverberant intimacy, and through Standell-Preston’s clarion singing and intermittent injections of impassioned yelping.
Last summer, Canadian music weekly Exclaim! published a lengthy cover story on BRAIDS, who along with Grimes is signed to Arbutus Records, that painfully detailed the falling out between Standell-Preston and her keyboardist and friend, Katie Lee, who eventually left the band. The piece was a rare and revealing look at the personal wars band mates must sometimes wage, and it left Standell-Preston feeling hurt and exposed. Since then the singer, who also fronts Blue Hawaii, has been weary about the press and their ability to make her into the story, instead of her music.
The first time I spoke with you guys, you had just finished Native Speaker. I understand that the way you approached writing and recording your new album was really different.
With Native Speaker, it was very trial-and-error, because we didn’t really have any idea what we were doing. We kind of pounded ourselves into the ground. We’d do take after take after take, never knowing when we had reached our personal best. With Flourish//Perish, we wanted to capture the emotion right off the bat, and we got a lot of rawness on this record, a lot of real emotion, a lot of what was going on in the room.
Flourish//Perish does sound a lot more restrained and sparsely arranged. There’s definitely an element of negative space. Was that approach influenced by anything in particular?
Yeah. I think that goes back to the recording environment, and we’ve just been listening to so much minimal electronic music. I think space is a very powerful tool in music. I’m currently trying to understand it. It’s kind of like a realm of its own. This album sounds a lot more electronic as we were using the computer more. Before, we had amplifiers and synths and we would play it and track it as we went along. But this, we would play it or program it in, then we would sit back and listen to it.
I understand your recording environment was really different this time around too. You all share a house in Montreal, right?
We do! Right after we had finished recording Native Speaker, we turned the garage downstairs into a studio. It’s a good studio but there’s no window. It’s like a room within a room, so if you can imagine, all the emotion that was going on as we recorded Flourish//Perish was very much contained within the walls. A space with no windows really holds the emotion. I think that’s something we’re learning we don’t want for our next record – there were a lot of really difficult times that went on in that room, and I think you can hear that on the record. It’s something that we definitely want to acknowledge, and that I think we made the best of, because we made something very beautiful from something that was really painful. For our next record, we want to try and embrace open space. We want to go to Arizona and rent out some weird place in the middle of the desert and just have endless space.
On that note, do you want to talk about (keyboardist/vocalist) Katie Lee’s departure from the band?
It’s a difficult thing to be represented properly, because there’s so many sides of it. It was kind of a life-or-death thing for the band. The band really felt like it was going to end, o we all had to make that decision. It’s been really hard; I really, really miss her, and I think about her. When you go through anything in your life that’s difficult or traumatic, you have 20/20 hindsight vision. I think that we’re in a good place now. It’s hard, but at least we made a piece of art together to mark that difficulty. She’s still all over the record. Katie was there for the first third of the record, so she’s on it, and it’s her record too. We made a good record together.
I read your interview in The National Post where you said you felt that situation, and your own character, were really misrepresented in your cover story interview with Exclaim! What do you think went wrong?
You can kind of see what went wrong. I felt like it was a piece by a writer for other writers. It felt as though he amplified everything to such an intense degree to make it really interesting. I found he talked too much about me as a personality. Sure, I make up our music, and so does Taylor and so does Austin, and I guess my core ideas are more immediately portrayed in the music because the lyrics are there, but I just felt like he was not talking about our music, he was talking about me, and I don’t want to be a personality. I feel like he painted me as a self-obsessed vain person, which I’m not. So far from it. That’s something I really stand behind: to be introspective is not self-obsession.
Some artists want their art to be separate from their personal identity, whereas others see their work as so personal that they don’t mind putting themselves out there. In light of all that, how do you feel about having your personality connected to your work ?
I’m feeling like maybe my person should be separate and protected from my work, because that interview, hearing his thoughts on who I was as a person made me so upset that perhaps, as a form of protection, I should separate myself. But I think the art that we make is so personal, it’s so vulnerable. People like to see a person who is exposing themselves and isn’t acting like some weird, made-up persona that’s much more grandiose than their self actually is. I guess if people want to do interviews with us, I just have to be myself and deal with it. But I sometimes wish I was ballsy enough to be like, “I had a bad interview! I’m never doing them again! I’m just making my art!”
Do you really think that’s ballsy, or do you think it’s more cowardly not to go and face the press?
The interesting thing with art is that, preserving your art and the honesty of it and its legitimacy, that is so much more ballsy than giving in to interviews, and trying to get on this show and that show, and be in this or that magazine. That, to me, seems cowardly, if you really care about that stuff. So I think you just need to find a really fine balance between how much you want to do and the people you want to talk to. I probably overreacted to the Exclaim! interview. I really wish he would’ve treated the Katie situation better, but I don’t want to trash him. He’s a writer, he did a good job, he wrote an interesting story. I’m just the hurt artist. I’ll get over it.
Maybe sometimes the personality thing and the politics of the music industry make the actual creative process and the music itself take second stage.
It’s not a good thing. Thinking about yourself that much is not a good thing, either. Sometimes thinking too much about what it is you do, that’s not good. When you get a burst of inspiration, you’re not really thinking about it; you’re just letting it come. So when you start to dissect your process, it’s like, “Did I get that right? Is that actually how I do things? Is that actually what I think about this?” Thinking too much about what you do actually hinders you from doing it.
If you can actually articulate the reasons, it kind of takes the magic out of it.
Yeah. Art is very much that same thing. It’s intuitive. It is kind of thought-out, and so is love; you can have discussions with yourself about it. But sometimes it’s just too much to explain.
How does it feel to have this career going, and to be scrutinized in these ways we’ve been talking about, when you’re only 23? Do you think people expect more from you than they should?
I’ve been told since I was younger that I have an old soul, if that means anything. I definitely get confused about a lot of things in my life, but maybe I investigate them as an older person would. I think I am shy, but I decide to put myself out there. People are going to associate the face you put out there with your music, and it’s something you have to really think of. That’s something that is really interesting about Claire Boucher (Grimes). She’s one of my great friends. We’re very different people, very extreme in our own ways, but Claire is somebody I really look up to in regards to how she has handled her personal image. With her Tumblr and everything, she’s really putting herself out there. She has this imaginative, other-worldly presence, but she’s being extremely human and addressing all of these topics like being female in music. She is able to be really real, but then have this project that is so other-worldly, and the two work really beautifully together. It’s something I really look up to a lot when it comes to my personal image.