/ I tend to drift away from remixes and I haven’t even really told myself why I don’t like them, but every so often I feel in the mood. Donald Eley and Tiger Smith reached out to some of their LA friends on this one, so they break off some of the electronics and enter into the computer-realm with a natural hum. But fear not, the balance that implies the woodseenness of the track only gets shaken off a moment in.
I’m writing this letter from a window seat on an Alaskan Airlines flight heading back to LA from Portland. I bought tickets to the Brian Wilson show up in Portland in January before he announced the Hollywood Bowl date. At least I got to experience some solid rain—it’s been too long.
Brian was surrounded by a talented crew, which included Al Jardine, and Al Jardin’s son, who took over any falsetto parts that Brian prefers not to reach for anymore. The sustain on the end of his notes are not what we are used to hearing from the recording of Pet Sounds, so the lyrics are more stark, not cloaked in the soaring melodies. This was most apparent in the song “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” where he states “Sometimes I feel very sad” in a spoken-word type way. It was still an amazing experience and he left us with a near perfect remembrance of “Love and Mercy” as the final encore song. Anyhow, I’m looking fwd to being home.
At the core of it all, we are extremely thankful to have an outlet (and excuse) to do something we love. The music is already there for us to discover and tap into. Like meditation or playing a game of basketball, it’s a way for us to focus on the breath and just live in the moment. Let’s stay in touch.
Thanks for posting about our new project, isle&fever. Super humbled to be on this blog. My music partner Donald and I have been in three different projects together (The Sea of Cortez and Blacks&) but this is the first one where it’s just the two of us doing everything.
A typical session starts with passing around various instruments in my basement studio until a groove becomes clear. The usual culprits are the Fender Pawn Shop Mustang Bass (¾ size), Roland Juno-106, MicroKorg, Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano, Rhodes, Strats, midi triggered drums samples, and (most importantly) a combination of random handheld percussive instruments. Mezcal or whiskey is our choice of late night fuel for the vocal chants that turn into trackable melodies, which are reworked with different lyrics until it feels right.
We are trying to put a live version of the project together, so we are relearning all the parts that we played. Most of those parts were only played once—at the time they were written and tracked. The live project currently consists of myself, Donald, Thomas Bowden (a new father who plays drums like Steely Dan’s Aja), MACK (amazing female vocalist/guitarist with her own EP coming out soon), and Anthony Polcino (who is in Beat Club and releasing his solo project Antoine Diligent this month).
/ After reading this piece from Cathy Wilcock and Chris Lyon from Manchester it made me wonder if they are working on a PhD in philosophy or psychology, and music lands in the region of ‘side project’. I don’t know if they are students or professors - it’s just my own wild guess - but their methodology clearly correlates to their song writing craft. Perhaps, like many of us, their professional life is merely a side project of their true passion in music.
We came across your blog and have been having a blast reading through the Letters to YVYNYL – great idea for a blog feature. We wanted to write you a little something about our recent single ‘Young Blood’ and the EP that it is from.
The EP has a central thread running through it: the concept of liminality. The ‘limen’ is a boundary or threshold and liminal moments refer to transitions through those boundaries. While the concept has been borrowed into all kinds of contexts, we are taking it in its original anthropological sense. Societies everywhere have been very consistent in developing rituals of transition. These mark (or even bring about) the transition from one category of identity to another. They can happen to selves within societies (for example, the Sinhalese-Buddhist exorcism-of-illness ritual), or to societies themselves (for example, during revolutionary epochs), or can reflect a society’s sense of the world they inhabit itself undergoing substantive change (as in the spring rituals of pagan Russia explored in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring).
These rituals are chaotic moments because they require disassociation from the ordering principles of the past followed by the establishment of different, new, ordering principles. In between the disassociation from and re-establishment of ordering principles, there is a space where experience is unstructured and unmediated by these principles of order – this is the liminal moment.
One of these rituals of transition is the coming of age ritual which formalises a subject’s transition from childhood to adulthood. This is the particular moment of liminality which informs our single ‘Young Blood’. Coming of age rituals let the subject loose from the authority of their parents, their tribe, their roots, and allow them to / invite them to establish their own principles of ordering. This sense of release can be liberating and enriching but also sorrowful and angst-ridden, as seen, for example, in Goethe’s Young Werther or Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko. This fretfulness and self-doubt often arises because the subject is being asked to prove that they are ready to go it alone. It is the anxiety accompanying liberation during coming of age liminality that our song ‘Young Blood’ explores.
There are multiple voices in the song which all take place in the subject’s head. This is because of the multiple selves (pre- and post-transition) which co-exist during liminal moments. There is fear about being set free from the authority of the parents and the homeland and perhaps losing contact with those ordering principles altogether. There is self-doubt about whether or not the subject will let down both themselves and those former authoritative voices. This apprehension accompanies the euphoria of liberation from those authorities. Throughout the song, the lyrics reference these pressures / freedoms. At the same time, the music embodies simultaneous apprehension and excitement in its fluid metric shifts between an angular pattern in the verse and bridge and a euphoric four-on-the-floor in the chorus.
/ Montreal-gone-LA electro artists Jeff Feldman picks some poignant collaborators. Darkness and blood get a moment to break down and reflect with his friend singer Dani Poppitt. Personally, I’m absolutely fascinated by the dreams of death and life and how the two will never be disassociated by the two elements of our experience. Songs, as meditations, on the afterlife have always had resonance with me and maybe you’ll share that emotion with us as you listen to their newest track here.
I don’t really know where to begin so I think I’ll begin by saying I think you have something special going on over here at yvynyl.
I just stumbled across it recently and once I landed on yvynyl and started digging, I quickly realized that it was more than just another generic blog. It breathes, has a pulse and feels alive. Thanks for creating a human, comfortable place to connect to new art!
My name’s Jeff. I go under the moniker Alone Architect. I make what I’d like to consider to be cinematic, electronic music. I often compare my music to a novel. Weird, right? Or a film. I like to think that in listening to my songs, they take you on somewhat of a journey. That they tell a story. That they’re visual.
I’ve always had a thing for love songs. Not in the sense that I like listening to love songs, but more in the sense that I fell that there are so many of them out there that the world doesn’t need another one. For example, listen to any pop tune out there and there is some form of love, lust, sex, heartbreak etc associated with them. Now, there’s obviously nothing wrong with love - the actual emotion. It’s amazing! It’s probably the best feeling out there. Loving and being in love and being loved. I love it! Ha! That being said; there are other things to write about as well. So I’ve never written a love song.
Faded is, in a way, that love song that I had yet to write. Myself and Dani Poppitt, my friend and the vocalist on the tune, penned the story from the perspective of someone who recently died & finds themselves unable / unwilling to leave our physical world behind for fear of losing their true love and never finding them again.
They’re trying to beckon their love to follow them to another plane of existence that they think is better. Closer to the source. So they can transcend together. They basically want their true love to kill themselves, so that they can be together.
Now from our human perspective that may seem pretty messed up. I often find myself wondering if what we think we know, is actually what we know. As a species, I mean.
So much of our beliefs are based upon “laws” that are only viewed as sensical because of our willingness to accept their validity. Even when it comes to science, all these values (numbers, equations etc.) that we use to obtain proof, through scientific equations and formulae, are only true based on our willingness to accept these values for what they’re inherently meant to be taken as. 1 being 1. 2 being 2. 1 + 1 = 2, for example.
Now, I’m not saying I’m anti-science. Far from it. I love science. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that we all have our own ideas of what happens to our consciousness energetically, once we die. If we retain it and move on to a more evolved and aware state. Or if it just goes back into the flow of it all and who we were, the thoughts we had, the energy we bottled for our briefest of moments in this particular life, explodes into a wave of everything and our individual “souls” or “spirits” cease to be. Or there is a huge possibility that there’s nothing. That’s it.
The truth is, is that no one really knows. We all want to believe that we go on. That there is another dimension where we are going to transcend to, once we depart this physical plane. We want to think that we’ll still hold strong bonds to those that we loved dearly and the fiercest in this life. That we’ll move on in another life, together as more enlightened beings. Beings working our way to the source of it all. To the light of enlightenment, where we’ll be able to rejoice forever and marvel at how ignorant and naive we were when trapped in our physical selves.
We want to live on, ‘cause, goddamned it, we’re important. We matter.
I wish I could believe that when I die, I’ll still be me, but version 2.0.
That I’ll be with those that I love most in their 2.0 forms.
This is kinda what this song is about.
I wish I could believe that I was important enough to live on after my body dies.
But I can’t. Because I know enough to know, that I know absolutely nothing at all. Like Jon Snow. Only not nearly as badass.
Enjoy the tune and please feel free to let me know if you need any more info!
slackers ☂ - ты приснишься мне (“I’ll See you in My Dreams”)
/ One huge benefit I get from my project here is that people write me from far away places and share stories of their wild adventures. This Moscow-based punk band told me about some incredible travels they took across Siberia on their way to perform at the Playtime Music Festival in Mongolia. That’s right. Mongolia. Now I want to go there, too!
During a tour show in Moscow, we played with our friends Nikola Tesla & Thee Coils in a small venue Ypsilon. It was summer and there was really hot in all ways, about 200 people were jumping and dancing, many of them came to us near the club after the show, wished to have a good trip, took pictures with us and hugging haha. We were hanging out for the whole night after the gig, no one went to sleep and in the morning we found ourselves in a van going to Nizhniy Novgorod.
We were there before, it’s a very beautiful hilly city stood on two rivers, but the road there was the most terrifying in this tour. It was very hot outside and there were no windows in the van except the driver’s one, so you can try to imagine what it’s like to be there for 8-9 hours haha. We arrived there only in the evening and went to the scene almost immediately. But the show was ok, we ate some pizza, drank couple of beers, found the last drops of energy in ourselves and played rather long and strong.
The next city was Ekaterinburg, it’s in the Urals that separates Europe from Asia so we took a flight there. The show was totally mad, there was no stage and people just went crazy and danced like hell, fell on our drums and equipment and also on us, took a mic and sang our songs instead of us while we played for them like karaoke, looked at each other and laughed haha.
Then we went to Omsk on a train. Omsk is in Siberia and it’s a hometown of my bandmate Andrei, he has a lot of old friends there and he wanted to perform there for a very long time, to show me the city where he lived for more than 20 years - and so his dream came true! His friend met us at the railway station, we walked in the city, Andrei showed me different places from his childhood and teen age. In a bar where we played we met millions of his friends, the show was fun except one moment when I broke my cymbal. I was disappointed, but I quickly forgot about it, because we were having a very good time after the show with all of the audience and Andrei’s friends for the whole night.
The last city was Novosibirsk, we were invited there by Slava, he’s a barman in The Rooks bar where we played. We were there at 1 pm and testing all kinds of craft beer and cider till the evening when the show started. The Rooks bar is a very small place so the stage was outside, we played about 20 minutes and suddenly the police came. Two cops told us that if we continue playing they would call for reinforcements and all of us would be busted haha. We asked to play a couple of songs and after them they shut our gig down unfortunately. But we just continued testing beer and cider with our friends who came from another Siberian city Tomsk to see us, and the next day together we spent at the botanical garden.
By the way, not long ago Slava invited us again to finish our set without cops haha. At this moment our final trip started. We had to get to Ulaanbaatar from Novosibirsk and it took more than twenty four hours. There were two flights (one 3 hours flight to Irkutsk and another 20 minutes flight to Ulan Ude over the Baikal lake with 5 hours waiting between them) and 12-hours bus to Ulaanbaatar. While riding on a bus and looking through window we could only see miles and miles of nothing, there were only plains and prairies outside, with horses, goats and yak from time to time and almost no men, only nature.
The thing is that all of the bands at this festival had 4-5 members at least and had a very massive epic sound - that’s like almost all Mongolian bands sounded. But there is only two of us in a band, we have only guitar, drums and two voices, the audience didn’t dig it and we just vanished on that huge main stage, but it was fun aniway, we played about 50 minutes there. But two or three days later we had a solo gig there in a venue called “Temple” and it was really cool, the audience was at arm’s length from us, we always like it that way.
The whole Mongolian experience was really impressive, we didn’t know what to expect, but we met many interesting young people, saw and visited many beautiful places, including the Chinghis Khan monument and dinosaur park with stone dinos there haha. We became a real good friends with our promoter Oyunka, we were hanging out all Mongolian days with her, made funny interview on her radio show “Indie Thursday” there. And she visited us in Moscow in September for a week, we had a cool time. It’s a pity that we live so far from each other, I want to hope it wasn’t our last meeting.
We arrived two hours later than we should and we were afraid that we couldn’t find each other with Oyunka but she recognized us, took in a car and we went to Playtime. That was the day before our show and we just had a rest after a trip, eating, smoking and drinking something strong haha. It was very strange and like a dream, we couldn’t believe that we’ve got there after all these hours of time and miles of space. We met a lot of people of all nationalities that night, Oyunka introduced us to The Radio Dept. who played there that evening, we met Ann, a Russian girl who lived in Australia for a very long time, then studied in Japan and turned up in Mongolia after all. We became friends and she also visited us with our promoter Oyunka in September in Moscow.
Thanks god, our road to Moscow was just a one plane flight, I sat on my seat, fasten my seat belt and turned off for a six hours till the end of a flight. The tour was over.
/ Bending a song’s tempo within itself will also bend its mood. The work of Alex Fox Tschan dissociates itself within each phrase it makes. In this song, the character is looking at a woman who “runs a lifestyle blog, which means she does nothing at all.” The ultra modern references in that oh-god-I-hate-myself sort of self loathing makes his work is more complicated than it at once appears. Let it soak, let it marinate a bit before you trust the story. And let his letter tell you more.
Hope you’ve been having a great summer man. Just wanted to drop a line about retiring Lunifred Benjamin. It does’t mean what it used to & it had gotten quite tiring to preface/spell-out each damn time I was asked. Plus, Pastel Hell sounds like the new tunes I’m making & it fits with my general sardonic blonde vibe I guess…
I just finished an EP on Friday. It’s 5 songs & is available on the links below. A video & full LP are coming… I always tend to keep relatively silent about sharing my personal life. I prefer to let the music speak for itself because the lyrics are very honest & autobiographical.
That said, I appreciate how you’ve always been on the lookout for the substance & context surrounding the music. I want to share some of the bullet points (dark impending pun not intended) with you. I owe that much to ya after you were so kind to pump me up from obscurity almost 2 years ago.
I’m from very rural Virginia & was raised by my father (who is from Philly & went to Lower Merion btw). My mom is a beautiful soul whom I’m very much like, but she is also bipolar.
I’ve made original music since I was 14 but it sucked until college. Possibly because at Virginia Tech I lost a couple friends, & nearly lost a best friend, to what was still the largest mass shooting in America until Orlando… but that event was also the thing that woke me up and made me more vibrant & grateful. But it also significantly scarred me in a way I did not realize until years later. I stayed in Blacksburg another year, then moved to NYC in 2009 with my band, The House Floor (all Virginia Tech folks like my good buds in Wild Nothing).
Somehow The House Floor got on All Songs Considered within 3 months of living here. Then in 2010 we got courted by Secretly Canadian for a while. We even made it out to Bloomington to meet them, but I was having a tough time emotionally & was abusing pills then. I ended up getting into a drunken argument out there with the main guy Chris. Still so ashamed to this day of that era in my life, but he is a gracious dude & we’ve remained pen pals over the years. I think he could tell I was not myself during that visit. I ended up breaking up that band in early 2012 because I wanted to try some different things. But we had a good run! One rad LP & shows with Mr. Twin Sister here and War on Drugs down in Virginia.
For nearly a year in 2012-2013 I lived in the back of my car after a bad break up. I was a casual cocaine user from 2010-2012, but became a heavy daily user eventually. That lasted WAY too long… until I got pulled over for a DUI in May of 2013. Thankfully & very luckily no one was hurt. But that shameful event may have saved my life. Whatever aggregating depression that I wasn’t acknowledging from all the aforementioned shit finally caught up to me. I got sober & sorted my life out after that. I think/hope I’ve finally dealt with the things I needed to, because nowadays I can drink & confront tragedy without getting pulled back into old habits.
I hope that my music sounds like it’s coming honestly from the person above. It’s the only thing in the world (other than bartending apparently) that i’m pretty good at. I thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to read this. I hope you enjoy the new music. Thank you wholeheartedly, Mark. Be well, bubba.
/ If you’re like me, you need to get your heart broken on a daily basis. I seek music like this, to keep my own spirit in check. Am I okay? Am I alive? Large portions of my mental space hovers in that place. Wales-based duo Rebecca Rose Harris and Franklin Mockett write music with that truth in a daily practice, based purely on the way they craft melody, and tap into the capacity of her low, mystical voice. They wrote to me about how they’ve built their sound, their story, and how they view this life.
It is a pleasure to write to you and I hope this letter finds you well.
I am writing to you from across the Atlantic Ocean. The valley, from beyond our window, is shrouded in autumn’s palate of geological golds, fading greens and burnt reds. As the days proceed, the nature that surrounds our solitary farmhouse becomes increasingly different. I regard the season of autumn to be a reflection of change and of movement both in the land and within oneself. It is for this very reason I feel it is an appropriate time for me to write you this letter and share with you our story.
My partner and I are Samana.
A year ago we packed the bare necessities of our lives into our thirty-year old van Govinda and left England with 300 Euro’s to write a body of music born from freedom, instincts and belief. We removed ourselves from all restraints and commitments and journeyed by map and compass across the far reaches of Europe to write in the isolated forests of Slovenia, the mountain peaks of Austria, the holy valleys of Montenegro, the golden farmlands of Serbia and the secret communities of Hungary. We made ancient pilgrimages, slept beneath the stars and washed all year round in lakes and rivers.
We devoted every element of our existence and progression to the development of our music. We performed it ritualistically on the streets to people of passing towns and villages to share the essence of our work intimately and personally in its rawest form, defying language barriers and division. From Indian summers through to winter snowstorms we gathered interest and support from people of all walks of life whose kindness allowed us to travel like this for a year, taking us to the furthest reaches of Albania and back again.
Having composed an album on the road, we returned to the UK and took residence in an old farmhouse in the Brecon Beacons. We have since built an analogue recording studio and darkroom, where we compose and record our music and develop and print our photographs. Requiem is an insight into our lives and what is to come.
/ I know there’s a deeper story that he’s not telling me here because Robert Nicholas was cagey about the details when I asked. But okay, the duo’s first single speaks for itself so I’ll bite.
Being honest, today a close friend turned me on to your blog. I am a first time reader. With that said, I’ve spent the past several hours reading and discovering fantastic new (to me) music. Your unorthodox approach is refreshing, and inspiring to read/watch/listen. You definitely have a new fan.
Currently, I reside in Los Angeles. I live two doors down from M, my musical other half. We are located in a quaint apartment complex in the Thai town neighborhood. In our two apartments she and I produce, write, and record all of our music. If you listen closely you can hear our neighbor yelling at his son Noah. Kid’s a brat :)
Earlier this year we made the decision to leave a major label project behind to focus all of our attention on Rooms. The constant compromise, and restrictions left little artist freedom. Although we’re back to surviving on pennies and collecting Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons the ability to share something that is derived from passion is fulfilling.
The video for “Bittersweet Company,” was shot entirely on my iPhone. We moved the futon in my apartment to access the bare wall, a red bike light as our lighting source, and taped my phone to a mic stand to keep it steady.
I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read my note and watch our video.
It’s 67 degrees in Los Angeles right now which means it’s finally moving towards fall. 90 degrees in October is far from appealing to us. I’m jealous of your east coast seasons and all the moods that winter weather creates. Stay warm.
/ Maxton Stenstrom needed to vent a little bit. I feel that. That’s what I’m here for, folks. Stand up, shake it off, pick up your synth modulator and whale away.
do you ever feel like connecting with people is way harder than it has any right to be? or maybe that the world is so rife with invisible barriers between everyone that, hell, maybe it’s even not worth attempting to reach out at all?
i’ve been struggling with this emotion for some time now. i think a bit of it stems from the fact that i’ve always felt a little like an outsider. i’ve spent most of my life thus far cycling between various interests, friend groups, homes, identities, and the cloud hanging over me asks “how can you expect to get close to others if you don’t even know who you really are?”
i grew up in charleston, south carolina and moved to los angeles last year after falling in love with many of their music scenes. when i moved here, i was able to start seeing tons of my favorite acts perform, not only at standard venues but at after hours shows. these shows would often take the form of the elusive warehouse party, which are exactly what you think they are: everyone is doing drugs, everyone looks incredible, red bull and vodkas are $10, the crowd is made up of one-half die-hard music fans and one-half people trying to forget what day of the week it is. it’s simultaneously superficial and spiritual.
these first parties i went to were where i became hyper-aware of these invisible barriers. at these parties, i’d watch swaths of people with money, people with prestige, people with style, people who are connected, people with more friends than you, people who fit in better than you, people you think you’d like section off into their own equally impenetrable cliques; each dividing attribute adds yet another barrier to the space between myself and the silence. i saw them and wanted to feel like i belonged to something as much as they all seemed to; i thought about how wonderful it would be to fit in here. and then i looked at myself and wondered how much i’d have to change the person i am now in order to do so.
and these emotions became the impetus for this song. i’ll never underestimate the ability of art to turn even your most deeply hidden insecurities into a something of harmonic mantra for yourself… i think putting these emotions on full display helps me better deal with them. after all, therapy’s expensive.
p.s.: this is one of the most wonderful, personal, and honest blogs i’ve come across in a long while. thanks for what you do. it’s incredibly inspiring.
/ Homesickness is a state of mind, according to Stockholm based songwriter Matilda Mård.
My relationship to Sweden is; I was born here, I grew up here, and became a grown up here.
I visited my first “Haunted House” here, learned to swim, but never to dive. Held a newborn baby rabbit, heard my first poem.
I’ve realized something in the last couple of days. My thoughts must have been trigged by that image, seen from an airplane window
right after leaving the ground. I saw my hometown, a piece of the
country I was born in. Looking just as physical as a tree or an
animal. Just as wild and unpredictable.
“That’s my home down
there” I thought for a second, before an opposite comprehension
filled my body. “I don’t know anything about that piece of
I had a nice home many years ago. Maybe I’ve been continuing to put that title on every new place I’ve been living in, only
because it’s expected. Or because we all need the comfort that the word brings. While in fact, non of these places were really homes
to me. I know this, because I never felt home sick.
All this time, all I did was to dream away. Or longing for home somewhere else.
I’m a child of the 90s so I’ve watched the whole world through television for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I wonder how
the things I’ve absorbed from that documented or fictional world
have effected me. Maybe I’ve formed a person that can only live
some place else than in this country, this town, this house.
Television is also one of a few things that’s been constant during life. Channels that keep running day and night until they start
again in the morning. For years and years.
But home is not the same as a constant, I’ve decided. Home is something that’s been given a meaning.
Home to me is a girl that I no longer know. She was my friend when I was living in that nice house. I wrote a song to her many years
after we lost contact. I’ll never stop missing her. Seeing it like
that, I’ll never stop feeling home sick.
/ I keep telling everyone that talent grows here in Philly.
It’s a true pleasure to make your acquaintance. My name is Attia Taylor! I’ve been following YVYNYL for a MINUTE. It’s true, I’ve been a reader/listener since my days as a teen on the Philly music scene. Thank you for existing and putting out good music.
I’ve since moved to NYC to follow my dreams and now here I am 6 years later doing something of that nature in research for a woman’s health non-profit. Moreover, in that time I have been working with my musical soul-mate, Corey Duncan of Oh! Pears to write a full length album. We sent emails across the country (he lived in Seattle at the time) with drum tracks, lots of humming, ambulances in the background, and a lot of mumbles. After some trips to Seattle and too much two buck chuck, we had an album.
Fast forward to about a year later I went down to Philly and Corey flew in to start recording the full length album with Jeff Zeigler in the middle of winter. We recorded for about three or four days but decided to lay down my vocals toward the end. The morning of the day I was to record all of my vocals I fell on an icy driveway, hit my head, and broke two of my teeth. My boyfriend rushed me to the hospital and his childhood dentist came in on a weekend to bend my front tooth back in place. Immediately after my trip to the dentist I went to the studio and youtubed how to sing through a lisp (chewing gum while singing does not work). This was one of the most physically painful and truly empowering experiences of my life. Never forget!
With all this said, our album is finally finally finished. Strange Parts is here and there are no lisps to be heard.
! Let me know if you’re into it. Otherwise, if you don’t respond to this I’ll be forced to look for a mailing address.
All the best, Attia T.
P.S. – We’re opening for Adia Victoria at Johnny Brenda’s on October 17th.
/ If only more of us would say “fuck it” and do what you love…
Hi Mark, it has been a while…
My name is Will. You may not remember, but you posted my other band’s video (The World War I’s “Psyche Assay”) a few years back. Although that is not related to why I am writing you today, I am still very grateful and wanted to take this opportunity to thank you once again.
It is September 11th and I am on an airplane. No, that is not meant to be metaphorical or over dramatic. I am merely stating a fact. While I’m sure there are those up here who can think of nothing more than those planes flying into the towers (understandably so) I am relatively comfortable for a typically nervous flyer. It’s not that I am ignoring the horrific events of 15 years ago, but rather I can’t help wonder how many of those people, if you told them what was going to happen, would be satisfied with the lives they lived.
I am on my way to Charleston, SC, for work. I build blast doors. Once there, I will spend the next 3-4 weeks on a Navy base working 10-12 hour days 7 days a week in the sun and rain all-the-while pondering (as I always do): why? At first, it was an Applied Physics degree, then a Mechanical Engineering degree, because “fuck it…I don’t need to be a starving artist if I don’t have to be.” Next, it was “oh I’ll just work for a few years to fund my records, and then I’ll really fire my shot and go after it.” Then came a few more years, and 6 months in the Mojave Desert, and a few more years after that, and all of a sudden it has been 3 years since I put out any music or played a show. I’m out of shape and my back hurts from hunching over a desk all day. I own white New Balance. WHITE FUCKING NEW BALANCE!
Anyway, if there is one good thing about this Charleston job, it is that it will be my last. I have put in my notice at work, I put out a single this week, I am dropping a full length October 4th, and at the end of the year I am following the girl of my dreams (who I am lucky enough to call my fiancee) to Milan, Italy. If someone were to ask me if I was satisfied with my life up to this point, I’d probably say “not quite.” But, I am fortunate enough to be cognizant of that, and I am finally pursuing it like the unquenchable thirst it should be. And I’m excited about that…
PS - I realize it is now September 12th, but I could not send this yesterday as I was on the plane. Cheers!
Covering two decades of live performances, this two-disc comp, put together a few years back by a superfan, captures Tom Verlaine at his best (away from Television, that is). I don’t think I’d call any of his solo records complete masterpieces (though a handful come close), but the guy always brought his A-game to the stage. If you’re only familiar with his Television work, Pull Down The Future is an excellent place to start further explorations – it’s basically guitar heaven. Tom’s unmistakeable tone shines and shimmers, even on some of the more lo-fi recordings here. The band backing him on the 1980s tracks ain’t half bad either – Fred Smith from Television, Jay Dee Dougherty from the Patti Smith Group and Jimmy Rip (guitarist on too many things to name).
For variety’s sake, there are a few departures from the electric-guitar-centric vibe – a solo acoustic rendition of “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” and the weird, 13-minute synth drone of “Days On The Mountain.” There’s also a really remarkable version of “Swim” that showcases just how great a vocalist Verlaine can be – not something he’s called out for all that much. I think I once read someone referring to him as “the Christopher Walken of rock” and that makes sense in a weird way. But mainly you’ll be vibing to such six-string workouts as “Miss Emily,” “Breaking In My Heart,” “Persia” and plenty others. Almost all of the songs come from Tom’s solo records, with one big exception – the 22-minute “Marquee Moon” blowout that appropriately closes the whole thing out.
1. Miss Emily 2. Bomb 3. Persia 4. Breakin’ In My Heart 5. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain 6. A Future in Noise 7. Clear It Away 8. Soul Freedom 2000 9. Dissolve/Reveal 10. True Story 11. Swim
12. Always 13. Days On The Mountain 14. Penetration 15. Souvenir From A Dream 16. Words From The Front 17. Kingdom Come 18. Psychotic Reaction 19. Marquee Moon
/ I love following the arc of an artist’s work, creatively and professionally. This piece came to me from Philadelphia years after I first wrote about Vincent’s other projects.
It’s a pleasure to reach out to you. You might remember my group Market East, who you helped put on the map in 2011 by premiering our track “Marielle”. I’ve been busy with Market East, Lee Fields & The Expressions (I’m a songwriter and guitarist for the group), other various endeavors and most recently, my solo Electro-Pop project, Vincent John.
At the time of Market East, I was at a crossroads between continuing music on the local level and pursuing the opportunity of touring with Soul artist Lee Fields. I had been a part of the crew as a co-writer of his Faithful Man album before being asked to join the touring band.
I had gotten tired from the let downs of failed passion projects and thought “hey, this is pretty cool. I’ll get paid to travel the world and play music. This is what I always wanted”. Instead of forging-on more seriously with Market East (which seemed to be a uphill financial and emotional battle), I decided to take a step back and be-a-part of a hardworking team that resulted in a better life than the local band hustle could have provided.
It was great. Traveling the world, meeting new people, trying new food.. It still is great. I love Lee and the rest of the guys like brothers but I hit serious rough patches on tour finding myself unable to be creative.
I decided I had to find a way to make music. I started producing beats out of drum machine samples while editing and mixing in the van on the way to far away places. Making music this way kept me in good spirits. In my mind, it began to bridge the gap between the 60s Soul music I was playing and today’s modern electronic music.
In the latter part of this time frame I began to resent being in New York, where I was currently living. I began to remember why Philly had been so good some years prior, where I used to live and where I’m from. I moved back to Philly in the summer of 2015 and wrote the songs for the “Never Go Back” EP, my debut being released this October.
I’m proud of these records and feel they’re the beginning of a catalog where I can truly express what I hear in my head. There’s a complicated and feel-good rhythmic back beat, vintage synths and analog drum machines, emotional chord changes and carefully constructed melodies. I sing about what I’m going through, channeling it all.
I’m happy and excited for what’s to come. It feels right and I can’t wait to make more music for this project.
I’m playing (Norther Liberties Philly venue) Ortlieb’s on October 7th and the EP release show is November 2nd at (South Philly venue) Boot & Saddle. I’d love to extend a personal invite to you to attend either/both.
The music is being released as a limited edition cassette w/Instrumentals as B-Side via Know Hope Records (Philly, PA)
Thanks, Mark. I appreciate you taking the time to read this & hope this letter finds you well.
/ Have you seen the 7 hour long video from the Norwegian national trains? It is the mellowist media on the web, and while these punks appreciate the vibes, their songs are nothing like that.
My day job is in book publishing—well, that’s a night job too, a follow you into your sleep kind of job I guess—but what I meant to say is that I get to work with slow stories all the time working with books. Stories you have time to work out, play with, kick around, carve slowly. The same way you do as a musician I suppose, the songs that trail you around for awhile, stand next to you while you wait for the train in the morning. It’s all slow. Slow like how the Norwegians now have TV shows that are 24 hours long and it’s just a static camera on the front of a train driving through the mountains. And when you give something time to develop like that, stories that you didn’t expect maybe come out. Small things, like a particularly weird tree that slides past the camera on that train near a tunnel in a Norwegian fjord, those odd little things are allowed a strange unexpected glory perhaps.
I like that you want letters, because to me, it just gives a little of that same space to how we talk about music and the life surrounding it. Let something wander I guess, and it’ll take an unexpected path.
Here’s a little wander into something that means the world to me about my band ahem. We live in Minneapolis, and we started just two of us, myself and Alyse, who plays drums and sings. For months and months and months, we played songs in pretty deep isolation, literally, in an old bunker underneath a garage, no windows, lots of tea breaks, lets songs wind in weird directions. It was a kind of hermetic life for a band. We weren’t out networking. We weren’t going to tons of shows and if we were, I was shy and kept to myself while loving the bands I was seeing. And we were listening to other local bands all the time, mostly on tape, mostly bought from a local gem of a store called Dead Media in Mpls.
This store is special to me, I suppose they kinda know me but really don't—but always say what’s up and fuckin mean it. It’s special to me the way independent bookstores are special to me, because this is the place that our band, who felt very isolated, asked a guy about someone whose production we really dug on tapes we loved—just a name in 10 point type on a few jcards—who encouraged a shy band to “of course man, just reach out,” so we sent a heartfelt letter out into the blue waste of a Minnesota winter day to someone we didn’t know in the slightest. Someone who seemed very connected, knew a lot of other people, did music we respected a lot. We got such a warm and kind response, these two kids just kind of thawed, and it led in slow oblique ways to recording an EP in the bunker with that good soul over two frozen Minnesota days, which led to other out-of-the-blue emails and a local label who we’d admired for a long time, Forged Artifacts, and now, a tape coming out early October. Like an odd gift bolted from the sky. Just because we reached out to people, in slow and almost aimless fashion, and honestly I guess. And we owe so much to those people. Jordan Bleau. Matt Linden. The list goes on and on and on.
I guess I just wanted to give a little shout out this morning to a small store in the heart of Minneapolis. Perhaps it’s the onetime bookseller in me who wants to do that. A place where for months, and being relatively new in town and really knowing no-one in the music scene, I bought tape after tape after tape, at their recommendation, that filled in my sense of local music when I was too shy, tired from my job, or simply uncertain how to meet people to do that in other ways. But I could hit this store and flip tape after tape after tape. I could ask them what I should be checking out, and I began to understand I liked their read on music, that it was all over the map in the best of ways, that they were truly just telling me about tapes and bands they loved the fuck out of. And that small store full of sweetly down to earth and kind people opened a lot of doors for us that they didn’t realize I’m sure they were even doing. They were helping these two music-soaked people who had written a bunch of songs that—as goofy as the songs came out, being about umbrellas and bottle rockets and such—were actually woven in with a lot of hard things that had happened in the months and years surrounding when we started writing them. The songs had become steeped in those joys, sorrows, hells, hopes of brighter days, and had become so precious to us. Those good people in Dead Media had no idea I was carrying that precious (to me) cargo when I was in just asking about tapes with $15 to spend – I maybe didn’t realize it either – but in retrospect, I was. They sure as hell don’t know it now. Like I said, they’d recognize me, but they don’t really know me. They don’t know I have a tape coming out now I’d bet. But it’s with a label they support, and I know it’ll likely be on those shelves someday, just one or two copies next to the tapes I fell in love with at their recommendation. They clearly give a shit about what they do. So I simply wanted to write into this grey Minnesota morning, and I’ll tell them directly sometime too if I’m not too shy: thank you. The simple little things we do—shit, who knows what they mean to others. To use the words of our man Jordan who recorded us, who answered an out of the blue email from two shy people with so much warmth and welcome and who we owe so much to – to use his words to sum it up and that little store in the Seward neighborhood: honestly, hell ya.
erik // ahem // mpls
PS: Mark thanks for reading this, I hope maybe you dig this track. We certainly dig what you do. Here’s a link to the first song released from our tape that comes out with Forged Artifacts on Oct. 7th.
PPS: Thanks for giving people a space to tell a little story that means a lot to them, and just might to others our yourself. A blog is a lot like a tape shop or a bookstore when you really think about it I guess, so thanks to you to for keeping the door open for people to browse. Who knows what they’re carrying with them.
/ I’m glad that folks share their deepest feelings with me (and you). It must be a bit cathartic. Do you have something to share? This is what Rob Voigt had to tell me:
thanks for listening, mark.
let me tell you the full story, which i didn’t tell before because i don’t think i’m okay with it being publicized. but you like stories, so here it is: a few years ago my mom got diagnosed with breast cancer, from which she is now dying (very slowly, over years). she’s always been very religious, a jumble of things really, catholicism when she was a kid, quakerism during my childhood, but she got really into christian science as i was growing up. so she got breast cancer, and because of the christian science thing decided to get no treatment. disease is an illusion, if she prayed hard enough she would be healed.
i found this to be insane. i begged and argued with her, saying please, recognize that breast cancer is the most treatable form of cancer, but if you do not get treated you will die from this. almost like a person indoctrinated into a cult, she simply could not hear me. i would push her about it and she would laugh and say, patronizingly, you just don’t understand, i’ve seen how diseases are lifted, i’ve seen how miracles happen.
eventually we began to genuinely fight, and our relationship got worse. when i would visit home it was hard for me to let it go, to just go about things normally as she was letting this cancer beast grow. and i would push her again and again because i felt it was my responsibility and because i was scared, but she would only harden and get angrier and more defensive.
so one day after having an argument with her over the phone my younger brother called me. he is a zen kind of character in some ways. and i was telling him about how frustrated it all made me, how she was hurting all of us, how fucked up christian science is, how she was indoctrinated and lying to herself and so on.
at a certain point he just said, “yeah, but you just have to love your mother.” and we talked more, and he repeated that a few times. you just have to love her, brother. and that simple thing became a huge revelation for me. he was right. at the end of the day, people, even your own mother, are just going to do what they’re going to do. you can try to influence them, to help them, but you can’t control them.
that day was full of feelings of mono no aware, i was reading and thinking and wandering around. i ended up staying up late and wanting to eat a piece of apple pie and ice cream in a diner somewhere with a coffee. but there was nothing even remotely nearby that was open, except the aforementioned IHOP. so i found myself at the IHOP, pen and paper in hand, eating pie and drinking coffee at 3am on a tuesday. i looked around at the people: the construction workers with big steaks, the servers smiling but tired, the teenage couple obviously having snuck out late. and i ended up writing that song. so that’s what it’s about.
it’s become an important song to me. i guess i want people to hear it, i feel like it should be heard. i’m sure everyone thinks that about their music. also i have no idea how to get things out there. but anyway. it hasn’t been published anywhere but my facebook, where it got a whopping 70 likes. out of this world i know. i only found your blog recently, but i’m really enjoying it so far. you could premiere it if you were interested?
I’ve been collecting new tracks for this project so that I can share them with you together in one bundle. I’m thrilled that this project is attracting wildly talented new and innovative artists from all over the globe. On this short mix, you’ll hear diverse elements: two songs from Japan (though one of them pretends to be Russian for shits and giggles), a poetic song from Australia, another from New Zealand (the one track here not a premiere, I just love it so much I can’t help but plug it again), yet another from England, and of course a smattering of new ideas from far corners in the United States. I love that part of doing the premiere mixtapes. Have a listen!
Photo by Jeffery Silverstein from Singles Club, used by permission.
Time passes. Or it doesn’t. Maybe it’s a trip that we all get fooled about experiencing together. In that vein, I decided to put together a group of songs for you, dear readers, that feel the essence of my elemental beings of music here in the late summer days of 2015.
Artwork by Colin Holloway, used with permission.
Time tangles some mighty webs, don’t it? You blink yr eye and all of a sudden you’re in a completely new world, new skin, new haircut, new seersucker suit. This weird journey we’re on, the surrealism of it all keeps yr mouth agape and full of wonder. And this, friends, is just a small soundtrack.
Tracklist + DL = http://bit.ly/catscradlemix
Don't give in to the A/C - roll those windows down! Crank up that stereo. Embrace it. Maybe these are a set of summer tunes for yr vacation roadtrips, or perhaps just yr backyard BBQs. Slow down and feel 'em.
Original artwork by o_lie. Used with permission.
Check out more yvynyl mixtapes here: http://bit.ly/yvynylmixtapes