Fans' love and money go separate ways
February 06, 2023

Jack Antonoff: We're a very easy group of people to take advantage of

uper-producer and songwriter Jack Antonoff talked to the press after his Grammy win last night, addressing soaring concert ticket prices and the sustainability of pandemic-era touring for musicians. "The whole thing is incredibly tough. There's no reason why — if I can go online and buy a car and have it delivered to my house, why can't I buy a fucking ticket at the price that the artist wants it to be?... Let artists opt out of dynamic pricing. Stop taxing merch, and let artists sell tickets at a price that they actually believe. Don't turn a live show into a free market. That's really dirty. Charge what you think is fair". He also went into the motives behind the decision to become a musician: "We're a very easy group of people — historically, and not much has changed — to take advantage of because we didn't start doing it because of money."

An interesting experiment by the Music Journalism Insider - they gave ChatGPT a task to make an interview with itself about music journalism. Turns out, the AI is quite self-aware: "AI tools can extract data from various sources, analyze it and generate articles or reports that can be used to supplement human journalism. However, this doesn’t mean that AI will replace human journalists completely. AI is good at producing basic information and data-driven reports, but lacks the emotional intelligence and creativity that humans bring to journalism."

February 03, 2023

HiTech: Release your inhibitions!

Tone Glow talked to Detroit techno trio HiTech about their debut album, and also, among other issues, about reaching for freedom through dance:

"King Milo: I be tired of seein’ people be locked up. You gotta understand, and I know you understand this for sure, bro—when people, these days, are at a show, they’re a little more tightly-knit since before COVID. And after COVID, you have to get these people to chill the fuck out. Release these inhibitions out, and kind of let it go, and have fun. You’ll have people out to shows, and if it’s not one of those A-tier joints, they tend to be a little more reserved until they see a million people be unleashed. I want people to feel like it can be ten, twenty, thirty, a thousand people there and you can unlock, just jazz out. I don’t want no locked in, confinement of the mind and expression.

47Chops: We want people to have fun, not worry about all that other shit. And, dancing is not only spiritual, but it’s good for you, it’s healthy.

Milf Melly: Burnin’ hella calories (laughter).

47Chops: Relieves stress".

Tunisian producer and composer Ghoula is about to release his new album 'Demi-écrémé'—which translates roughly to "semi-skimmed", and which features songs built around the sounds he captured during his travels around Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Lebanon. On that voyage he found a lot of vinyl, so he played around with chords, tunes, and instruments to make his second album. "It’s like being in conversation with another person through sound. I found myself thinking, ‘These sounds are derivatives of the original source.’ So I’ll call it 'Semi-skimmed'” - he says to Bandcamp Daily.

The story behind the story
January 30, 2023

Interviews with Grammy nominees for best album notes

This week’s special edition of Music Journalism Insider is bringing interviews with nominees for the Grammy Award for Best Album Notes. MJI talked with four nominees - Gareth Murphy, who earned his nomination for the notes to the important Irish album 'Andy Irvine Paul Brady'; Fernando Gonzalez who is nominated for the notes to 'Astor Piazzolla: The American Clavé Recordings' about the tango master; Bob Mehr, the liner notes author for the important Wilco album 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot'; Ted Olson who wrote liner notes for 'Doc’s World: Traditional Plus'.

"I think art is the best medium for this awareness. Art comes from the heart, the pain and the suffering. I know that’s the case for me and other artists doing amazing work right now. The truth of my work is what is happening in Iran right now. I am just mirroring it" - Iranian rapper Säye Skye says in a Mix Mag interview about using revolutionary rap in the current protests in Iran. "The regime takes these mediums, and deals with them, very seriously. They know that having a podium and speaking the truth of the people can resonate with society, it can unite communities and that’s what they are afraid of. For the past 40 years the regime has been trying to diminish the power and value of art."

Each week, music journalists Courtney and Melissa sit down with a guest to discuss the one song they can never hear quite the same way again thanks to a past relationship. Big Joanie bass player Estella Adeyeri swings by Song My Ex Ruined to talk about how Mitski's 'Happy' was "almost" ruined by an ex but she refused to let it. Adeyeri says - "I just love the storyline that she sets in that song where it’s like, oh, like she didn’t hear them leave, and now’s, now I’ve got tidy up. It’s the come-down. It’s like, oh, this person’s here and stuff, and they made everything about them and not really considered my input, like my time. A few years later you’re like, 'Why was I so impressed about this man? Shouldn’t have been.'"

"The first thing you learn as a Palestinian is that you’re probably going to die. You have to engage a little bit extra because life could be over in 10 minutes” - DJ Sama' Abdulhadi says in a Guardian interview. Talking to Resident Advisor, she goes a step further: "We're human beings before anything else, and it's our trauma that creates our music and makes us who we are. It's just normal life for us, which is sad, because we're much more than that". She says her goal is to bring the world closer to Palestine—and Palestine closer to the world. Sama' Abdulhadi's short documentary, 'Portrait of Sama' Abdulhadi', will premiere online January 31st.

Last year's The Rising Star winner at the Brits, singer-songwriter Griff, talks to Lyor Cohen, the Global Head of Music at YouTube. about women, creativity, songwriting, and new talent in The Face. "Female talent is still looked at as a product. So there’s so much more doubt that we could possibly be involved in the back-end of creative. And it’s frustrating. But that’s something that I’ve just tried to shut away" - Griff says. She adds "I’m trying to now be really intentional about protecting my work and not letting loads of people come in, just because the pressure is on and we need a hit song. Actually I am a producer and I am a songwriter, and the same talent that you signed, so I can still do this. So, yeah, it’s frustrating!".

"It’s mainly business, but it’s cool because you get to work with people who you may not have ever been in the room with if it was just being an artist... I can write records for people that I would never write for myself. I’ve been doing this for 31 years; there’s nothing I can’t do with a pen, but certain things would not make sense for my brand" - Skyzoo, rapper and ghostwriter, says in a Tidal interview. "When I make records with people, I’ve really morphed into who they are. I never want to be the ghostwriter that when you hear it, you can tell that I wrote it. I want you to really think that person wrote it and all of a sudden just went crazy [laughs]. The one thing I do when I ghostwrite, I try to sneak in at least one moment that’s my style, just for fun" - Skyzoo says, adding he's "made records with Maino, Lloyd Banks, Jill Scott, Raheem DeVaughn. I’ve worked with John Legend". When it comes to money, he says - "I get paid twice. I get work-for-hire pay, and then I get paid when the record gets placed. And I get my points and my publishing and all that stuff".

"Every digital streaming provider has a treasure trove of data on their deep catalogs and how their users interact with each song. This same data, along with their relentless A/B testing, has upped the effectiveness of personalized algorithms to keep users on the platform" - Trapital's Dan Runcie points out in his latest memo. He talked to Ari Herstand, an independent artist, course instructor, and author, who believes that algorithmic shift works in favor of independent artists who may not have the ear of the top playlist editors, but have a better chance to show up in one of your Spotify Mixes. It’s a numbers game, and numbers games benefit indies who are less reliant on gatekeepers.

"We will learn what happened on the record, but once it comes back into the live show, it really starts to change again, and it evolves because, in a live show, you’ve got to bridge all of the tracks. Things start to happen spontaneously in the show. Sometimes by accident, sometimes we allow things to happen. I think of that as decomposition, where you had the finished composition and now it’s starting almost to disintegrate” - the Comet is Coming drummer Max 'Betamax' Hallett says in the PopMatters interview. The band is deep in the tour part of the writing-editing-touring cycle, and they will be back to writing - “but to do that, we need to be ready, but we also need to be blank. The canvas needs to be white; there needs to be nothing there, so we’re ready to do something new".

"The Brits have always been good at repacking Black American music and then selling it back to the US. If you think about the Beatles and the whole British Invasion of the ’60s, those artists were all massively inspired by rhythm and blues and other forms of Black American music, but the white audiences that loved them wouldn’t necessarily go back and support the records that inspired these groups in the first place. The same thing happened with dance music" - Matt Anniss told First Floor. He also talks about the "Ibiza origin myth", music journalism, “hardcore continuum”... Anniss is the author of 'Join the Future', a history of bleek techno, which is being reissued this month.

Only a feeling
January 18, 2023

Rick Rubin: I know nothing about music!

"I have no technical ability. And I know nothing about music" - THE producer Rick Rubin told Anderson Cooper in an interview tied to his new book 'The Creative Act: A Way Of Being', the CNBC reports. What he knows, Rubin says, is "what I like and what I don’t like. And I’m decisive about what I like and what I don’t like." He points out what he's being paid for - "The confidence that I have in my taste and my ability to express what I feel has proven helpful for artists." Watch the interview - here.

Trapital's Dan Runcie is looking into Diddy's businesses with tequila and cannabis, building upon a successful venture with Ciroc vodka. Some interesting thoughts by the entertainment/business analyst: "Tequila is a less mature liquor than vodka, but U.S. tequila sales may soon outpace vodka as the #1 spirits category. Tequila has different drinking occasions, which shifts the marketing and messaging... Cannabis is a more complex industry. Many Black business leaders want in to help reset the narrative. Historically, the criminalization of weed affects Black people disproportionately, but the legalization of weed has benefitted white business owners the most".

"If you need to recover from anything, whatever it may be, whatever sort of fundamental change you want, there’s usually a darkness there. I think everyone has a shadow within those periods of isolation that we were confronted with" - The Murder Capital's frontman James McGovern says to The New Cue about the process of writing their new album 'Gigi's Recovery', written in isolation in rural Ireland. "When we were out there making this album we were alone, it felt like that old world had departed to a different side of the galaxy, so we had to iron out the creases ourselves. To make authentic music it requires honesty. We were calling out our own shadows and just being like, we need to change this darkness". Also, good advice about New Year's resolutions: "A good resolution is to be kind to whatever parts of yourself were good in the year before and to continue on with them. Focus on them more because they already exist."

Soil, water, air, light... and music
January 09, 2023

Podcast: Links between music and plants

The latest episode of Source Material podcast explores the symbiotic links between electronic music and house plants discovering how bass frequencies mimic bees and why festivals are adopting sonic soil pollution. Diving into the world of frequencies and root systems, RA's Martha Pazienti Caidan speaks to four musicians and artists who make music and/or technology for plants - biotherapeutic musician Imka, Joe Patitucci of PlantWave, an app that translates plants' biorhythms into music, sound artist Karine Bonneval and composer Erland Cooper.

The New Cue talked to Bristol’s singer-songwriter Billy Nomates about her new album 'CACTI', out this Friday. She describes how she chooses songs from the raw material: "What I’m slowly realising is you never throw the dart closer to the bull’s eye than when you first burn off a demo, because you create something that’s just the feeling and sometimes it actually doesn’t need the other things. It’s taken me a long time to understand that but I’m starting to grasp it now. I think getting them out of the bin was a lot of encouragement, there was a lot of kicking and screaming, there was a lot of ‘naaah, what are you talking about, it’s rubbish!’. That’s the cons of being a solo artist, you are your best friend and your own worst enemy in those situations".

"There were a lot of samples and things that needed to be taken care of. It was long, but it wasn’t grueling. What’s great is that a lot of these owners, writers, and publishers were De La Soul fans, and they had publicly understood what was going on" - De La Soul's Posdnous says in the Billboard interview about his band's music finally coming to streaming platforms. It was frustrating to be absent from the digital media: "It almost felt like we were being erased from history, because our music wasn’t up".

In a rare interveiw for the Wall Street Journal, Bob Dylan shares his thoughts on how technology might represent the end of civilization, the music he likes, as well as creativity - "When we’re inventing something, we’re more vulnerable than we’ll ever be. Eating and sleeping mean nothing. We’re in 'Splendid Isolation', like in the Warren Zevon song; the world of self, Georgia O’Keeffe alone in the desert. To be creative you’ve got to be unsociable and tight-assed. Not necessarily violent and ugly, just unfriendly and distracted. You’re self-sufficient and you stay focused".

Violinist and singer Sudan Archives talks to Pitchfork about her musical style, her identity, and her urge to change. “There are people who want me to be this certain type of Black artist woman singing about hippy shit and the trees... The highest version of myself is a ghetto fabulous girl. I can’t run away from that. It’s time to show these motherfuckers who I am" - SA talks about her early fans.  On the topic of artists who stay fateful to their old sound - “that’s some pussy-ass shit right there. I’d rather make horrible songs and be feeling like I’m expressing myself and growing”; on steady pathologizing of Black creative power in every industry - “I’m not their magical nigger”.

Patrick Hicks has a TikTok channel where is telling interesting music stories 4-5 times a week. He started in April 2022 because his wife challenged him to do a new creative project for 30 days. Now, he has nearly 300,000 followers. In MJI interview he points out that he'd like to see "more positivity and enthusiasm for music. I didn’t really know what to call myself when I first started doing this—journalist, historian, storyteller—and then somebody in the comments said I was a 'music celebrator' and I really like that. Music is so amazing, I’d love to see more celebrating of it".

A very interesting interview in GQ magazine with Lyor Cohen, Google and YouTube’s global head of music, about short-form video. "Kids are being hit with the tidal wave of choice and it's unpleasant. You cannot become an adult until you find the soundtrack of your youth. You don't know what partner to hook up with, what clothes to dress in and what crew to run with. It helps curate the direction... It’s a ‘Complicated Age’, but I think short-form video is the solution for it all... It’s going to simplify everything. Kids now want to participate. When I was a kid, it was OK for me to break of record open, put a needle on, smoke a joint and listen. Now, that doesn't work for them. Short-form video means they can be part of the zeitgeist without, 'My life is great and your life sucks'. It’s the new version of rummaging through the crates, but my competition wants them in that ‘dumb stupid mode". Cohen is a businessman, but he still nurtures the passion for music: "Being surprised and blown away by music is sticky and powerful".

An interesting conversation in Wired with the "computer musician" Holly Herndon, who created an AI-powered vocal clone called Holly+ that is, at least theoretically, infinitely capable. “There’s a narrative around a lot of this stuff that it’s scary dystopian. I’m trying to present another side: This is an opportunity" - Herndon says. She recently released Holly+’s cover of Dolly Parton’s 'Jolene' (watch it below). Wired also makes a good point - It’s not creepy. It’s pop culture.

Daniel Vangarde is an artist, writer, and producer behind an array of releases that range from the wildly obscure to the instantly familiar, like Ottawan's 'D.I.S.C.O'. Vangarde had retired from music years ago, relocating to a remote fishing village in northern Brazil, after losing interest in music. However, at the age of 75, he is having a career-spanning compilation released. Because Music was keen to release the compilation, partly due to the success of his son, Thomas Bangalter, until recently one half of Daft Punk. Alexis Petridis brings the exciting story.

"When you go to a football match and there’s lots of people all singing together, in the 21st century that’s a unique thing. When do you get groups of people singing together unaccompanied other than at football matches, mass singing like that?" - Alex James (of Blur) says to The New Cue about his football song 'Vindaloo'. Having a football record, James argues, is "half as good as a Christmas record... I’ve come to realise, because it’s every two years that there’s a major tournament and Christmas is still yearly". He also favors "boozy singing late at night" with friends - "there’s nothing more wonderful than singing when you’re drunk, is there? It’s better than headlining Glastonbury, a bunch of mates all singing together".

A very interesting interview in the Tone Glow with members of experimental rock band Horse Lords about being in a band, understanding and experimenting with each other. "I think in a larger sense, there’s a combination of a willingness to experiment in a free way, or playful way, but also a willingness to submit to various strict practice-based music" - guitarist Owen Gardner says about their "shared language", which the saxophone player Andrew Bernstein defines as "an ethos that we’re willing to trust each other". Bass player Max Eilbacher talks about playing in the band: "When I have time with these three people, it’s very much hyper-focused and we all have a common goal. We’re all in it for the same reasons, too, which I think is really important. At least from what I can tell, we all have the same end goals and desires and we wanna derive the same joys out of what we do together".

King Princess is the latest featured artist on Song Exploder with her song 'Let Us Die' which she wrote in a special place on a lake, while having relationship issues. Mikaela Straus breaks down the song, along with two of her collaborators on it: co-producer and co-writer Ethan Gruska, and multi-Grammy winning producer Mark Ronson. The song features Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins on drums, who died afterward. Also, Straus' father Oliver, gave the key engineering advice.

Musician, producer, DJ, director, and author Questlove has released season 2 of his Shorty Award-winning YouTube series 'Quest for Craft', where he talks to creatives about their creative process and the way they’ve honed their craft. In the new season, he talks to ballet dancer Misty Copeland, author Fran Lebowitz, and Kenan Thompson. In episode 5 he talks to producer Mark Ronson about finding your voice as a craftsperson and an artist, as well as composer and musician Kris Bowers about expressing emotions.

Dan Runcie talks to New York Times music reporter Joe Coscarelli about his new book, 'Rap Capital', in the latest Trapital's podcast. The key, Coscarelli believes, is Atlanta rappers' adoption of modern tech: “I love to see when art lines up with the technology of the moment. These Atlanta rappers were in the perfect place at the perfect time to take advantage of that explosion". Also, the reporter sees broader liberties: “Artists have found freedom…your audience is going to find you. You can still have as much of a footprint but not in the same everybody-knows-the-same-10-people way. It’s almost healthier for some of these artists to say ‘I’ve seen what happens on the fame side and I don’t want that part. I just want to make my music and play for my fans.’ That’s become more and more of a possibility without having to play the game with the gatekeepers”.

1 2 3 17