Smart staying silent leaves the stupid talking...
July 11, 2020

Margo Price on supporting BLM and losing some fans: You can’t argue with stupid

"I put up a photo of Obama smoking a cigarette, looked like he was enjoying it, and these people were arguing for days. But I’m not gonna get involved because you can’t argue with stupid" - country singer Margo Price told LA Times about alienating some fans with posts on social media. "There have been so many times where I’ve put in some kind of thoughtful response to somebody, and it rarely does any good. I’m not really worried about losing a few fans. I think I’m gaining an equal amount". She released her new album 'That’s How Rumors Get Started' this week.

Black is the color of my true identity
July 10, 2020

Tom Morello: Racism is as American as apple pie and baseball

Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine has spoken of his experiences with racism and encounters with the KKK - “In Los Angeles, dozens of times, I was pulled over when driving, going on official band business but in my old Chevy Astro van when I was driving through Beverly Hills. ‘Why is there a thirty-something-year-old black man in this neighbourhood?’", Radio X reports. While he was growing up, in Libertyville in Illinois, he was "the only black person. Once, there was a noose in my family\s garage, there was the occasional burned cross on the lawn", and then, “I was in a popular band that had songs that were predominantly played on white, rock-oriented stations, the way I speak is not typically urban vernacular, and there’s a large part of my fan base that freaks the fuck out when I say that I’m black".

Lady A / Lady Antebellum

"You don’t get to just come and take because you have that privilege" - blues singer Lady A, real white Anita White, told Vulture about a lawsuit that the country band Lady A (formerly Lady Antebellum) had brought up against her. The band claim that White's attorneys "delivered a draft settlement agreement that included an exorbitant monetary demand" of $10 million. The lawsuit they've now filed does not ask for monetary damages, but an official declaration that the band are lawfully using the Lady A trademark. White also told Vulture (via Exclaim) that while the band Lady A's presence grew in the public eye (and on search engines, Spotify and Apple Music), hers shrank. When she tried to upload her new independent single via independent distribution service DistroKid, she couldn't verify her name. She believes it's a thing of racism - "here we go again with another white person trying to take something from a Black person, even though they say they’re trying to help. If you want to be an advocate or an ally, you help those who you’re oppressing. And that might require you to give up something because I am not going to be erased”.

That last musician in the White House was there ages ago, time for a new one?!
July 08, 2020

Kanye West unveils his political platform - conservative, anti-vaccine, pro-life...

Kanye West talked in lengths with Forbes about his presidential bid - he has chosen a party name, Birthday Party, a slogan, “YES!”, and a vice president - Wyoming preacher Michelle Tidball. His political views are quite conservative - he said vaccines are “the mark of the beast”; he believes family planning is racist - “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work”; he envisions a White House organizational model based on the secret country of Wakanda in 'Black Panther'. NME's Mark Beaumont argues that West's "Presidential bid, by swaying even a small amount of liberal and minority voters away from Biden, might well serve to aid Trump’s re-election chances. You might even wonder if the whole idea for the West 2020 campaign came from POTUS sliding into his DMs to stroke his permanently priapic ego".

"The history of Black rockers is crazy. Little Richard and Chuck Berry were literally risking their lives. At any point, they could have been shot by cops at the side of the road" - music journalism veteran Scott Sterling told Los Angeleno in conversation with Tony Pierce about black guitar players. And they're one the most important ones; "Bad Brains was kind of like on some Miles Davis jazz thing. Those guys could really play"; "We can talk about [Thin Lizzy's] Phil Lynott all day and twice on Sunday"; "Lenny Kravitz is a guitar hero. A lot of his great solos are themes. It’s not about blowing everyone away, it’s creating a little melodic theme that people can latch onto"; "Eddie Hazel from Parliament-Funkadelic... is one of the main dudes"; "Tom Morello is literally a guitar hero. An educated Black man who can play with Bruce Springsteen just as easily as he can play with Zach"; "Isn’t it interesting that most people don’t consider Slash a Black guitarist?".

The most interesting artists right know, as selected by editor and journalist Matthew Schnipper for Music Journalism Insider: Dean BluntLara SarkissianJohn BeltranJabu and Daniela DysonDJ PythonMariah the ScientistAkasha SystemYdegirlCelia HollanderRod WaveMIKEDuval TimothyYu SuYoung JesusNkisi, The Weeknd. Best song in the last 12 months - 'Hope Road' by Anne Clark; best music journalists: Cat ZhangMina TavakoliBen Dandrige-LemcoMankaprr ContehHubert Adjei-KontohArielle GordonOlivia Horn, and Jenzia Burgos.

An immensely talented, LA-based collective that has grown from a group of school friends using jazz as a form of escapism to become one of the most influential forces in contemporary music - Dazed writes in a big profile of West Coast Get Down. They were playing for years in LA jazz bars perfecting their craft and style – "they" being Tony Austin (drums), Ronald Bruner Jr (drums), Stephen ‘Thundercat’ Bruner (bass), Cameron Graves (keys), Brandon Coleman (keys), Miles Mosley (bassist), Ryan Porter (trombonist), Patrice Quinn (vocals), Terrace Martin (multi-instrumentalist), and Kamasi Washington (saxophonist) – when they got their big break, playing of Kendrick Lamar's 'To Pimp a Butterfly'. That wasn't the highpoint, rather a kick - West Coast Get Down is only just getting started, Dazed argues.

Venezuelan-born, Barcelona-based artist Arca released her new album, an avant-pop record 'KiCk i' which celebrates the "prenatal kick; that instance of individuation, that unmistakable moment where parents realise their baby is not under their control but has its own will to live, its own impulses that are erratic and unpredictable, separate to their own", as she told i-D in an extensive interview - "So this is celebrating the moment of disagreement that is an expression of feeling alive". About her own change from gay to trans Latina woman she said "we’re all in constant flux, you know? We’re all transitioning: from birth to death, it’s inevitable. And then there’s this transition that is optional, that socially – as imperfect and flawed as it is – allows you to express this thing that is so abstract and physical and primal".

“It can’t be that music is a commodity, or content to use to sell advertising or a subscription plan. Artists have to come first” - Bandcamp founder Ethan Diamond said in a Guardian interview about his service. It's his second internet project actually - he sold his first company, an email service called Oddpost, to Yahoo in 2004. Unlike streaming services, Bandcamp takes the idea of ownership as crucial to its success - “by doing that it makes [fans] feel like they’re part of that music’s creation”. Diamond, a musician himself - saxophone player - believes music “is essential for humanity. If you’re serious about that, then the welfare of artists is essential”. This year he practiced his beliefs by waiving Bandcamp's fees in favor of artists...

Not a puzzle, just colourful
June 23, 2020

100 gecs - "just expressing a love for music"

Experimentalists 100 gecs were described, particularly at the start of their career, of being deliberately ironic, but “the ironic thing is the biggest non-true thing. We’re not doing this to be ironic. The opposite resonates as really true. There are people who say: ‘They’re just expressing a love for music, all sorts of different kinds’” - the band says in a Guardian interview. They are releasing a remix album - "If '1000 gecs' was the logical conclusion of the late-2010s’ post-genre experimentalism, the remix album is that worldview taken to its absurdist extreme".

An interesting interview in the Guardian with Norah Jones, who looks back on every one of her albums:

'Seven Years', her debut from 2002 - “I was trying to have fun with the success, but at the same time, I was a little too worried about getting swallowed up by it all”

'Sunrise' (2004) precipitated the signing of Amy Winehouse, Katie Melua, Joss Stone - "I had to separate myself from it all. The truth is some great artists came out of that and that’s awesome”

'Rosie’s Lullaby' (2007) was written on tour, with a lot of alcohol around - “I was just trying to keep together, to be honest”

'Chasing Pirates' (2009) was the first one written primarily by herself - "It lifted me up as a songwriter and made me feel validated”

'All a Dream' (2012) -  "It was a transformative experience. Before, I was terrified of having to finish songs before I went into the studio... I went in having faith in the process and the lightning bolt of inspiration that comes with making music"

'It’s a Wonderful Time for Love' (2016) - it's about "let’s lift each other up and send love to each other in a hard time"

'It Was You' (2019) - it was released one song at a time, which in turn "really freed me up and made me more inspired than ever”

'Flame Twin' (2020) - “If there’s a darkness to this album, it’s not meant to be an impending sense of doom. It feels more like a human longing for connection”

"This time I feel like the songs are wildly better because it’s me as an adult. I’m getting less afraid" - Phoebe Bridgers said in CoS interview about her new album, 'Punisher'. For her second record she made more energetic material - "I think it’s just more fun to play live. That might be something I learned from my collaborations: the more fun a song is to play live, the more I like it over time, whereas I get kind of exhausted playing sad songs over and over and over". Bridgers released the album earlier because - “I’m not pushing the record until things go back to ‘normal’ because I don’t think they should”, as she wrote on Twitter.

"I can’t say that I thought this would happen, because it’s one of those things - you know, my 20-year old self or my 15-year-old self would never have thought that would happen" Aaron Dessner told Stereogum about working with Michael Stipe, since R.E.M. were such a bih influence on The National - "but more recently, it seemed like more of a dialogue". The band is quarantined now, which is a huge difference, for The National in particular - "we’ve played so many shows for 20 years, and now who knows when that will come back. One of the negative sides of a really intense arc as a touring band is there are big gaps in your memory because you’re so exhausted. It’s an amazing job, and we’re so lucky and grateful for that. But one of the things that is maybe sometimes bittersweet is you miss a lot of normal rites of passages and people’s birthdays and such".

"We daydreamed a lot; we were trying to escape what was around us and were listening to much more immersive music, music that had lefts and rights and corners and different streets" - Dublin noir-rock champions Fontaines D.C. tell NME's Mark Beaumont about their new album 'A Hero's Death' (out July 31). The primary influence on the new album - “It’s inspired by the stillness of the sea. Kinda like later Beach Boys".

"I’m not going to pay my police to kill me. We never felt protected by the police" - producer Terrace Martin told Complex about his new song 'Pig Feet' where he's joined by Denzel Curry, Kamasi Washington, G Perico, and Daylyt. He says the message of ‘Pig Feet’ is "A, awareness, B, strength, and C, fearlessness. The song is very fearless. I want people to instill that in their lives. It's okay to be fearful, but to be fearless is much stronger right now. So, instead of pumping out Kumbaya, I want to pump out awareness and stay ready for whatever".

Jewels against the machine
June 02, 2020

Run the Jewels: The new form is coming

“I want the oppressors, the enemy, to know that they haven’t created complete hopelessness yet” - El-P of Run The Jewels told Guardian about protests in the USA. He explained - “It’s getting to the point where your whole system of racism does not apply any more to the spiritual and mental mindset of the new generation. We have outgrown you, despite your best efforts to keep us in the same place. You are in power, but you are outmoded. You’re the old form of human. And the new form is coming for your neck”. His bandmate Killer Mike adds - “They’re going to preach separation, they’re going to preach fear, conservatism v liberalism – they’re going to keep stoking those fires. So, we have some action to do now. Giving a shit is the first phase: now let’s progress it”. RTJ release their new album this week.

A funny interview in Guardian with Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt. He talks about bonus tracks - "The whole idea bugs me. Either it’s an album or it’s not an album. It gets my Asperger’s up to even think about it”; politicians - “It would be illegal for me to express my actual political opinions in probably any country in the world, and I definitely wouldn’t be allowed to travel”; about growing up in a Buddhist commune, loud music, playing live, etc.

“I probably would’ve hated social media when I was coming up. There’s a certain mystique that gets destroyed. I like the mystique. I like waiting. I don’t need anybody to know where I am every minute or what I’m doing. Or what I’m about to do… There’s a certain mystique that came along with music that was entertaining to wait to see what was about to happen” - Dr. Dre told in GQ interview, NME reports. Another thing - “the generation that comes in today is more impatient than ever, mostly due to the fact that their access to information has never been so uninhibited. Thus their expectations of their daily lives have changed. But it’s not just about going to work sooner; it’s about wanting to have an impact once they are there. They have more power in the palm of their hand than any generation in history – and it’s power to influence, to understand and to do good".

Death Angel drummer Will Carroll contracted COVID-19 while on a European tour in March, and during a medically induced 12-day coma as a result of his illness, the artist claims he had met Satan. Well, he didn't really like it, as he's told the San Francisco Chronicle - "I'm still going to listen to Satanic metal, and I still love Deicide and bands like that. As for my personal life and my experience of what I went through, I don't think Satan's quite as cool as I used to". He says he'll consume less alcohol and drugs now, too, Exclaim reports.

"[Freedom] is about living the life you want … I feel free and freedom is priceless” - French-Algerian rapper Soolking told Guardian about that fundamental element of everyone's life, the one that so many lack. Young people of Algeria felt like that when they started protests against the regime last year, with Soolking's song 'Liberté' being the unofficial anthem of the year-long protests.

“Touring in Europe can fucking suck—sometimes you have to pay to go to the bathroom, and it’s fucking nasty when you get in there, and maybe there’s no food besides sausage for days. But I would be in a van in Europe right now in a heartbeat” - Phoebe Bridgers says in New Yorker interview about her new album 'Punisher' (out in June, no tour yet). She had decided not to delay the release of the album, but still felt weird about putting it out during a global crisis - “Here’s my thing, for your emptiness. It’s very poetic”.

“Art doesn’t come from when you can do something. It comes from when you have to do something” - Einstürzende Neubauten's Blixa Bargeld told Guardian about the long wait between his last two albums. 'Alles in Allem' is their first studio record in 13 years. One constant is the band’s innovative approach to equipment and recording - “There’s a strategy. I want to undermine routine and sabotage logic. We’ve been doing that for 40 years with unusual instrumentation. It’s important to undermine functionality and knowledge – to disturb the obvious”.

'Electronic India' is "a wonderful, warm, and eye-opening documentary" by Paul Purgas about pioneers of Indian electronic music, who produced innovating music at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad from 1969 to 1973, but then got forgotten about. The Quietus talked to Purgas about his docu, and that moment of fresh creative energy from 50 years ago - "there was a really beautiful scene that emerged in some of the conversations we had while making the documentary, this idea that at that moment India was still dreaming, there was this sense of a possibility of imagination, a utopian set of ideals and ideologies that were emerging around shaping India post-independence". Listen to the documentary at BBC.

"I want to stay here and feel everything, not just the oblivion. That’s what I thought that freedom was, and I actively pursued that when I was younger, whether I knew it or not. And maybe I’m becoming O.K. with just being at the edge, feeling the reach for it. I’m starting to realize that the reach is really what I want" - Perfume Genius told New Yorker about his new album 'Set My Heart on Fire Immediately'. He says he wants people to feel less lonely - "That’s what I hope people feel: that something unspoken, something hard to articulate, some tension, has been understood for four minutes. There’s something about sharing any sensation, even the deepest bleakness, that makes it less bleak".

Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson has revealed that he is “suffering from an incurable lung disease... exacerbations”, but he's okay if he's "kept in a reasonably pollution-free environment in terms of air quality", although "my days are numbered”, Variety reports. The 72-year-old rocker pointed to fog machines as a major culprit, stating - “I’ve spent 50 years of my life onstage among those wretched things that I call smoke machines. Today, they’re politely referred to as hazers, as if they’re somehow innocent and not damaging to your lungs. I really do believe that’s a very significant part of the problem I have”.

The latest episode of Talkhouse Podcast with Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker is dedicated to “mis-shapes, mistakes, misfits”. The two songwriters talk about reunions with their showbiz fathers who had abandoned them; the bad omen that nearly caused Jarvis to quit music in the year 2000; why Stephin’s new sexual fetish might be a “one time only” experience...

Since the beginning of lockdown on Monday, March 23 in the UK, Richard Dawson and Sally Pilkington have been releasing albums as Bulbils, at the rate of almost one album a day. Their living room in Newcastle has been converted into a makeshift studio, with synths, vocoders, keyboards, guitars and drum machines; the music is, for the most part, hypnotic, lo-fi, beautiful and ambient. Pilkington told Quietus it's "kind of music we wouldn’t normally share, which feels like quite a personal thing. A lot of it’s quite rough and the kind of thing that’s quite unprocessed. It’s quite intimate in a way". Find all the albums at Bandcamp.

Live Nation’s CEO Michael Rapino said the company would test crowdless broadcasted shows along with drive-in concerts and reduced capacity festival shows over the summer - “we’re going to dabble in fanless concerts with broadcasts, we’re going to go and do reduced capacity shows because we can make the math work”. Rapino explained to Rolling Stone - “There are a lot of great artists that can sell out an arena, but they’ll do 10 higher end smaller theaters or clubs. We’re seeing lots of artists chomping to get back out once it’s safe”. And fans? - Live Nation says that 90% of ticket buyers are choosing to keep their tickets and wait for a new show rather than get their money back.

Anthony Pateras

"In a nutshell, I feel the fact that most people live their lives half inside a screen, probably made by a slave, is a very weird thing. I feel the fact that most people have so willingly forfeited control over most of their lives to bunch of self-interested Californian billionaires is a completely insane" - Australian musician Anthony Pateras told the Quietus in an interesting interview about the theme of the latest album by tētēma, his collaborative project with Mike Patton. He elaborates further on: "I feel the cost of social media is not free; it takes a massive toll on the mental health of everyone who uses it, in turn making them not only anxious and depressed, but extremely distracted and self-absorbed. I feel this has resulted in otherwise intelligent human beings doing and saying stupid and cruel shit to each other like always, but just a lot faster and in public. Lastly, when I’ve been very outspoken about this at various points, I've received looks of bewilderment in return, because people say it helps them remain ‘connected’. People were connected before corporations sold our friendships back to us!".

Charlie XCX in Minecraft

Concerts in video games are more dynamic and immersive than 2D live streams of artists singing to front-facing iPhone cameras - Pitchfork argues in favor of video-game concerts, so they talked to Minecraft festival organizers for some advice. Open Pit is a volunteer-run collective of event organizers who’ve been making virtual festivals in Minecraft since 2018 - CoalchellaFire Festival, Mine Gala, and Nether Meant. So, why Minecraft - "[it's] is super open—you can do pretty much whatever you want with it. It’s also the best-selling game of all time, so most people either have it or know someone who has it". On the software side - "there’s a lot of custom software that has to be written for the events we throw, but it’s not super difficult to just run your own Minecraft server with some friends". On Fortnite, an event like Travis Scott’s Astronomical has to be run by the developer of Fortnite - "whereas in Minecraft, there’s a lot of flexibility for the community to organize things".

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