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  • SXSW Interview: Sea Moya

    The interplay of music and location are something essential to Krautbeat pioneers Sea Moya. The three-piece of German natives crafts their unique genre from a mixture of Krautrock, Afrobeat, Psychedelic, and Hip-Hop. And holding true to their international stylings, the group has recently uprooted themselves from Germany to Quebec. But despite how drastic this transatlantic move may seem, it was only natural for the three members of Sea Moya, who have made a habit of leaving home to draw inspiration.

    I had the opportunity to sit down with Elias and David of the band while in Austin, where we discussed what nationality and location means when it comes to making music.

    How did you all form Sea Moya?

    Elias: We met back in Germany in Mannheim, you [David] were playing guitar, some synth guitar thing and you changed to the drums, I was playing guitar as well. Eventually the band split up because the head guy didn’t want to do that and anymore. Then it was us two and another guy finding ourselves in a situation like “What do we do now?” And we’d just started writing songs and it felt really good and then it became Sea Moya. It was just really natural, we were doing music anyway and just wanted to do something new.

    What has been your favorite part about SXSW this year?

    Elias: Camping, tacos are amazing. Everyday. What are we going to do when we leave Texas? Back to baguettes & croissants… Dammit

    I understand y’all played a string of shows on the way down here, how did the tour go? 

    Elias: The preparations for the whole tour were kind of hard because with the election and with the administration right now it got harder for foreign people to enter the country and also the cultural support of music kind of faded away a little I guess, so the visa situation was hard to deal with. But then, we had this one situation in Houston, our drummer did this exchange program and that just showed us just kind of how wonderful people can still be here.

    What spurred the decision to get out of Germany and get into Canada?

    Elias: We had kind of a very comfortable situation in Mannheim where we had our studio and we always did stuff like packing up our studio in the van and driving through the Baltic states and that is why the last EP was called “Baltic States” and we wrote the songs in the van with our studio gear, and it just felt right to be out of our daily surroundings to write songs. And we kind of wanted to take the next step and just throw ourselves in a new situation, a new surrounding, and wanted to go somewhere English speaking because we also wanted to improve our English and Canada is kind of easy in terms of visa applications, and that was kind of a door opener

    David: And at the same time it was kind of an intuitive decision, cause at the same time we were sitting at my room back in cologne starting to think about it and after 30 minutes we were like “eh lets go to Montreal Canada” and we applied for the visa and it worked out, and here we are.

    Elias: I mean Montreal has such a cool music scene and I knew a lot of bands there I really liked before and that was really awesome, and it definitely lead us to the idea of moving to Montreal

    David: Moving to a different place kind of uses you out of your comfort zone, that kind of set some energy free.  Back home you have your studio and that stays the same but sometimes you need a change and the different people and surrounding, even though hard sometimes, is energizing.

    Despite being based in Canada, you seem to hold your German roots tightly, especially with your fusion genre Kraut-Beat, obviously based heavily in German styles.  Is keeping that German identity of your music and as a band important to you all as artists?

    Elias: It feels really like we have this German thing going on anyways cause we’re from Germany. But it feels like, we always did this kind of worldwide international sound because we mix all that stuff from Africa like afrobeat and from the us like hip hop like J Dilla stuff all of this world wide stuff, and now it feels like we’ve translated that into our personal lives. It feels more naturally international even if we’re still l3 dudes from southwestern Germany living in the same city now but in Montreal.

    David: I think we can relate to the history of German music and we kind of dig it but I wouldn’t consider myself as a German band. I don’t think our music is German branded. But there is lots of German music going on we can relate to like from the 70s.

    Elias: A friend of ours came over the bassist Michael from Mt. Joy he was like “Germany is such an amazing country” and we were like “Eh… I don’t know” and I think this brings us to think about that, if we want people to identify us as a German band, or if we want be a Canadian band. It’s weird.

    David: And in general the concept of nationalities if it needs to be like that.

    Your sound is so unique bringing in everything from krautrock to psych to electronica to some Afrobeat all wrapped up so seamlessly.

    We did and get inspired by all different kinds of music, instruments we want to try. Its just about messing around with sounds and messing around with instruments and trying new things.

    Y’all have been around a few ears now but stuck primarily to EPS and singles. When can we expect an album from you all, and what are your upcoming plans for the band 

    Elias: We actually have been in the Italian Alps, northern Italy and we wrote and recorded an album there, in a mountain hut in the middle of the Alps it was beautiful

    David: It was super chill, we actually one time i spent 2 weeks not going down to the city and didn’t get to speak to anyone aside from the band

    Elias: It was intense, but we have an album in our backpacks actually, we’re not quite done with it but we plan to release it this summer maybe

    Outside of the band what other pursuits do each of you have? Whether musical or otherwise?

    Elias: I do a lot of video stuff as well. Our music videos are mostly shot and directed by me, I love them. I always have visuals in my head when playing the songs. And to translate that to video is amazing, it feels really good. I think arts in general is the overall language we’re using. It doesn’t matter if you do abstract paintings or music, I think we’re all in the same boat kind of.

    David: We were in New York a few weeks ago and we had a couple of days off, and we went t the Guggenheim museum, and it was a f***ing blast.

    Elias: We had these audio guides, and there was this one guy talking about what is art for him and how he sees art and how he likes to be creative, and i thought its the same thing about doing music. It doesn’t matter if you output is music or painting something or taking a photo or doing a video the creative process can be quite similar

    It’s cool to see that if you want to see stuff you just can do it.

    Will you stay in Montreal?

    We just moved to Montreal and it feels really good. I do not think about leaving. So we have this visa thing going on for one year and we have to see what to do next, but we’ve already decided that going back to Germany is not an option.

    While still being finalized, the trio has a forthcoming album due some time this year. Check out the video for “Nothing is Real” below!

    by Jackson Tucker

    Photos by Christian Senf

  • SXSW Interview: Nobuki Akiyama of DYGL

     

    DYGL (pronounced Day Glow) are founded around the boundary breaking power music can have. Founded at their university several years ago, the four-piece Japanese indie rock group would sound more at home in London than Tokyo. And while the influence of groups like The Strokes sand The Libertines is immediately clear, lead singer Nobuki Akiyama has fully embraced these roots as they not only influenced the musicians, but helped form each of the members personalities.  They released their first full length album in 2017 Say Goodbye to Memory Den, produced by guitarist for The Strokes, Albert Hammond Jr. and released a single “Bad Kicks” earlier this year. The group played several shows during the 2018 SXSW festival in Austin, where we had the opportunity to speak with Nobuki about the DYGL, Austin, and his time working with Albert Hammond Jr.

    So you’ve had a week in Austin, how’s it been?

    It was really cool, this was the second time for us as a band to come to Austin. We played four shows, and we were able to catch lots of performances from some of our favorite bands, which we didn’t get to do last time. Shopping and Idles have been the best ones so far.

    When you were recording your album last year I know that you all spent some time living in New York to record it. What was that experience like?

    It was nice, we had been really into British music and American music, kind of Indie rock stuff. And we don’t have a lot of the same vibes in Tokyo. We have either super pop, or super underground. There’s no real in between. So we knew we wanted to work with some guys that understood our tastes and understood our vibes, and we’d been looking for some engineers and producers. And we found that and that the city didn’t matter as much as the engineer, and that [New York] is just where the engineer was. But with the engineer and being in the city it was all just really good for us. These guys, Albert and Gus are great at judging everything and knowing, like they would always guide us.

    S0 how did you get hooked up with Albert?

    We had mutual friends with Albert and Gus, a Japanese guy who worked at the label distributing The Strokes first 3 albums, and while we were looking for some good engineers it was coincidence that Gus was on that list we wanted. But before we even contacted him, Gus contacted us, and we sent him some demos and ended up working together.

    Going back to how you said there’s not really your style of music in Japan, how has it been then being that artist stuck in the middle ground of pop and the underground, both in Japan and worldwide?

    In Japan, it’s really changing little by little. Twenty years ago there were no kind of indie rock music scenes, it was just like pop and there were only a few bands singing in English, and not a lot of them were good ones. Well, some were but not a lot. But they were still not ready for, the market and audiences were not ready [in Japan]. But gradually because of the Internet, these things have changed a lot. And there’s a few bands trying to do what we’re doing, inspired by the Americans or British and the French. So it’s not terrible, but it’s still hard. Markets are gradually growing.

    What made you decide to sing in English?

    I was just into the Libertines, the Strokes, and I just thought I wanted to sing in English like that. I actually learned English by listening to Oasis.

    Going back to your record you bring in lots of political things in line with your punk influence. Do you take most of these issues as centered to Japan or more internationally?

    It depends really; we like to think about the world as international. So singing about Japan’s politics is really connected to the world. I mean also we do a bit of politics but try and sing about everything.

    Looking at your most recent single Bad Kicks it gets a lot more punk than last year’s album. Is this a direction you want to take the band in, or just something you’d played with?

    This one is a lot more rough and energetic, where I feel like the album is a lot more clean. So now it’s become seeing which way we should go. I feel pretty comfortable with the new single; it’s a lot like what I have in my mind when I write a song. I’d like to make an album with that sound.

    How do you feel about moving into the future wit DYGL?

    We’re trying to move out from Japan and settle in London or somewhere in the UK.

    The world is really changing fast. Politics, markets, people, but good music is always good. In each city and each country. I want to connect with more country’s music scenes and bands and more individuals. And spread more good Japanese bands as well. Sometimes there are so many good local bands and not enough opportunities, especially in Japan. That’s why coming to South by Southwest is so good, to know what’s in the world. You know you’ve got legendary bands playing in a tiny bar and suddenly brand new bands playing side by side, which is cool.

    We’re just trying to make timeless music.

     

    Check out the music video for “Bad Kicks” below

    by Jackson Tucker

    Photos by Christian Senf

  • Salt Cathedral Interview

    Image result for salt cathedral

    Juli Ronderos and Nico Losada are Salt Cathedral, a musical group with 3 EPs out already and a debut album set for summer release.  Although the group is currently based in New York, their global pop has deep roots in Colombia (not to be mistaken with WUSC’s Columbia), and their sound features a collage of cultural influences.  They recently released a new single, “No Love,” and performed at this year’s SXSW. Read my full interview with them here, in which we talked about the origin of their band name, their experience at SXSW, what’s to come, and much more.

     

    Related image

    The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is a Roman Catholic church in Colombia, where you guys are from.  How did this play a role in inspiring your band name, and does religion influence your sound in any way?

    When we chose a name we wanted something that you could always trace back to our home country because it is such a big part of our identity. The Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá is a grand and strange and beautiful place and the concept itself is very mystical. It started out as a salt mine where workers would create shrines to the virgin before going in to perform this dangerous mining job. We think the relationship between struggle and religion is very representative of music. Most religious music is so beautiful – and it’s always our own struggles that inform our music.

     

    Do you guys have a favorite place you’ve visited, or a place that’s given you the most inspiration?

    Recently I would say that place was Lima, Peru. The community of artists we met there were incredibly inspiring to us as was the ancient culture and their gastronomy. It’s just a very lively and unique place and it filled our souls with the best feelings.

     

    Why do you release your music in English?

    We release our music in English because after we went to jazz school in Boston, we moved to New York. We made some songs in Spanish with our first project but felt that our songs in English communicated better with the people we were playing for. We are actually working on a record in Spanish now!

     

    Since your band gathers inspiration from global sounds, and since you have toured at various places across the globe, what audience in particular do you create your music for?

    We don’t have one specific citizenship or race that we create music for. We create music for anyone who is open to understanding and loving other cultures and to accept a sort of new globalized culture we inhabit – like us, being Latinos in the US. Music is a pretty universal expression so we hope that people from every corner of the world feel like our music is for them if they can connect through dance, lyrics, sound or emotionality.  

     

    Since you have global inspiration for creating your music, how does this global perspective make you view the music industry?

    I guess it just makes it that much harder because we have to find people to work with in many different territories. But it also breaks barriers, you realize how much of a common language music is. Also, the industry varies a lot form region to region – the US is a different animal than Latin America or Europe, even geographically.

     

    The cover art for your singles/EPs are some of the most colorful and artistic I’ve seen– how do you guys decide upon these?

    We work with our absolute favorite artist in the world, we’re so lucky. Her name is Micci Cohan, check her stuff out! We usually choose from artwork pieces she’s already made. We think it’s the best representation of our music because it’s vibrant and collage based – and since our music draws from so many influences, it feels like collage sometimes.  

    Image result for salt cathedral ep                            Related image

    Always There When I Need You Single Cover                                        Oom Velt EP Cover

     

    Where does your lyrical inspiration come from?

    Life! It’s usually either about our common social/political/human experience or very personal things – like pain and conflict and love – but then again, aren’t those also part of our common human experience? I really like to portray images!

     

    How do you think your sound has changed throughout the band’s history?

    Oh it’s changed so so much. We are such music lovers that it’s been hard to stick to one thing and also it’s a constant process in search of our identity. We both grew up with music from rock to merengue, salsa, reguetton in Colombia. Nico used to play hardcore/metal, we went to school for jazz, and later moved to a neighborhood in Brooklyn where hip hop is predominant. We’re inspired by so many different styles that the sound has changed a lot. I would say the main change from last EP to this new record was taking the sound a bit out of our heads to make music that is more accessible to more people.

     

    How was SXSW?

    SXSW was amazing! It was a really brief trip, we were only there for two days playing two shows. We played the Pandora stage alongside incredible artists like Kelela and Tinashe and just got to see some of our friends and enjoy the Austin weather – could not have asked for a better SXSW experience.

     

    “No Love” came out right before SXSW, and was played live there.  How was it received?

    When we play that song live, people get really dancey so we love playing it.  The music video is out tomorrow!!

     

    What was it like to collaborate with Assassin for “Run For The Money”?

    We collaborated from afar but honestly it was surreal because we admire him so much!

     

    Last fall, you toured with Coast Modern. What was that experience like?

    The Coast Modern tour was an incredible experience. Their fans were super receptive of our music and it was fascinating to drive across the entire US playing our music.

     

    What’s to come from Salt Cathedral?

    We have a music video coming out, then we have some more singles and our album in late July. We will also be touring in the second half of the year in support of the record – probably through the US and Europe! We’re excited to take our music on the road.

     

    For more information on Salt Cathedral and to track their progress in the music world, you can follow their Spotify or follow their Facebook page.

    For more information on artist Micci Cohan, you can go to her website.

    By Emme Ostrander

  • Interview: Taska Black

    Appearing on festival lineups such as Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo as well as having tracks dominate the HypeMachine charts, Taska Black is a name everyone should know. The 21-year-old producer from Antwerp, Belgium, is challenging the very word “genre.” Unveiling all types of new approaches to future music, Joachim Gorrebeeck’s creative techniques are grabbing the attention of ravers all over the world. Taska has just come out with a brand-new collaboration with San Holo called, “Right Here, Right Now,” and is also coming out with an acoustic version of his latest Monstercat single, “We Would Never Do.”

    Listen to my full interview with Taska Black, discussing dropping out of school, music video production, and his new song here:

    Taska Black’s new collaboration with San Holo:

     

    Nick Gerace /  Zero 

  • Interview: DROELOE

    Last week I had the opportunity to talk to Dutch future bass duo, DROELOE. Having records with millions of plays on Spotify and more than 50,000 followers on SoundCloud, Vincent Rooijers & Hein Hamers are a force to be reckoned with. Their innovative sounds have been catching people by surprise ever since their hit SoundCloud record, “zZz.” Their unique style has been noticed by many EDM fans, earning them spots on some of the biggest festivals in the U.S.! With many releases on Monstercat and bitbird, they continue to impress with their brand-new single “Many Words.”

    Listen to DROELOE talk about their new track, EDC Las Vegas, and plans for the future here:

    DROELOE’s new single, “Many Words”:

     

    By Nick Gerace

  • SXSW Interview: CHAI

    CHAI is a 4-piece Japanese pop group going against the conventions set up for them.. Often referred to as J-Pop, the Japanese pop scene often centers around idols, or girls with harsh beauty standards and plastic pop all around the cultural standard of being cute, or kawaii in Japanese. Playing with the formula of the commercialized, infamous scene of Japanese girl groups comes Chai’s band philosophy of Neo Kawaii, or new cute, as they stand up to Japanese (and subsequently global) beauty standards and asks what “kawaii” even means in an industry and society so set on marketing women & music as a product. The group released their first album “Pink” in 2017 to largely positive reactions. With a message of positivity, happiness, and self-love, CHAI sing about what they find more important in life like eating, playing, and just having fun.

     

    The group played the 2018 SXSW festival in Austin, Texas and we had a chance to talk with them after the festival wrapped up.

    You just finished a string of shows in the US including a few for SXSW. I understand this was your second time playing the festival, what’s been your favorite part about being in Austin?

    Last year we only performed at the Japan Nite showcase but this year we joined the lineup for the Burger Records’ showcase which had nothing to do with being Japanese so we were happy to be able to perform simply as just “musicians”. It was so exciting!

    Have you found that your music and live shows are perceived differently in the US than in Japan?

    American audiences give more of a direct reaction! It makes us happy to see the audience dancing and enjoying themselves!

    How did you all come together to form CHAI? What musical background did each of the members have before coming together?

    When we were little, we loved Jpop (Japanese Pop Music) and Mana and Kana always wanted to be singers since they were young.

    Before forming CHAI, we were all friends!

    What have been some of the major influences for you four musical or otherwise?

    We have sooo many!!! The XX, Basement Jaxx, Tom Tom Club, CSS, Passion Pit, Justice…too many to count!

    When CHAI was formed, what vision did you have for the group, and how has that changed?

    At first we were doing music as a “fun” thing and just playing around but 2 years ago is when we officially decided to do it on a full-scale professionally. It was during that time that our message of “NEOKawaii” and “Complexes Are Art” were born.

    How did the dynamic of twins Mana and Kana affect the course of the group?

    Our personalities are totally different so we never really thought about that~

    However, the harmony between the twins is precise and amazing!

    Japan has historically had a large gap between mainstream and underground artists. How do you view your place in the middle of this scene?

    Actually, we’ve never really thought about that~

    CHAI wants to be the 3rd most invincible band in the world!

    In 2017 you released Pink, your first full-length release. How did you come to get involved with Burger Records, and how was it working with an American label?

    Burger Records found us on YouTube and FB-messaged us asking if we’d like to join their Burger World Japan compilation.

    Burger Records founders, Sean and Lee, are full of love and kept telling us that we were #1. We really love them! Once it was time for our US tour to come to an end, it was so hard to say goodbye, and we cried a lot!

    How was your approach to this record different for you four from the previous two EPs?

    Usually when we create music, we are influenced by music that is stimulating us the most at that particular moment.

    This was our first time making an album, however, like a lead actor or lead part is to a movie, we really put all the songs that we felt were the best together in the record.

    Pink focuses on female empowerment, through the philosophy of  “neo kawaii”.  How would you describe this message?

    Society often defines “cute” as having lighter skin, larger eyes, or being slim…but we thought how narrow-minded this is…we wanted everyone to know that, “Not that! But that everyone is cute as they are!

    Why is this issue important to you as a group?

    In the past, we’ve also had many negative experiences but thinking to yourself, “I am cute!” makes you more confident in yourself.

    Do you view this as an especially Japanese problem, or something more global?

    Yes!!!!! A global issue!

    Looking back a now few months after the release of “Pink”, how have you seen this message and the album as a whole received?

    When we were on tour, we really felt like a lot of the people had already listened to our album and were waiting for us!

    When we would say, “NEOKawaii” during our MC portion of the shows, everyone got really excited and we thought, “They get it! Transmitted!”

    I understand that Yuuki designed all of the merch associated with “Pink”, how was it translating CHAI’s unique sound into visuals?

    The cover for our PINK album is our theme, exactly, “woman”…we are the Goddesses’ of complexes.

    Once you change your complexes into confidence, you become flexible or open enough to even pick your nose!

     

    CHAI have a new EP coming soon which they’ve promised to be filled with “Today’s CHAI” In the meantime, check out their 2017 record “Pink”video for their latest single “Future” below, filled with all things Pink and neo-kawaii.

    by Jackson Tucker

    Photos by Christian Senf

  • SXSW Preview – Interview with IDLES

    IDLES’ debut album Brutalism is an explosive, visceral catharsis. Named after the Brutalist architecture movement, wherein buildings were rebuilt cheaply with concrete after the destruction and demolition of World War II, the album represents the rebuilding of the band itself. Two years after the release of the Meat EP, the change in IDLES’ sound is as drastic as their change in tone – they are much angrier. In times of political turbulence and uncertainty, IDLES makes unwavering, bold statements with song titles like “White Privilege” and lyrics likes “Men are scared women will laugh in their face / Whereas women are scared it’s their lives men will take.” Despite the didactic nature of the album, deeply personal stories within the lyrics differentiate IDLES from other mindlessly angry punk bands and keeps them from crossing lines into preachiness or self-righteousness. Behind aggressive punk/post-punk drum and bass, Brutalism tackles the ugly with unabashed candor. Based on an encounter between frontman Joe Talbot and a friend, “1049 Gotho” paints a very real, unromanticized vision of depression with the lyricsWon’t someone help me sleep? /There’s no right side of the bed with a body like mine and a mind like mine.” He also writes about the struggle of addiction on the track “Benzocaine,” and lazy conformity in the opener, Heel/Heal.”

    Brutalism may not strike the listener as an intimate portrayal of the human experience on the first listen, maybe not even on the second or third. But past the propulsive, raw urgency of the music itself, the album is a passionate testimony of visceral, guttural hurt and emotion.


    This week, I was able to speak with Joe Talbot, vocalist and lyricist on the phone in preparation for SXSW. Read the full interview below.

    Idles played at SXSW last year, was that your first time at the festival?
    Yeah that was our first time in the states, yeah. Just kinda flew over for three days then flew back. It was a bit weird, but cool.

    Did you enjoy it?
    Yeah of course, it was magic. It’s not the first time I had been to the states, it’s the first time I’d been to Austin. It was the first time to come to America for a few of the boys so that was good. Yeah, it was hectic and it was fun. I like playing no matter where we are so that was great.

    So, what are you most excited about for this year’s festival?
    Playing. Just getting out there and playing. Its what we’re there for man, getting up in the morning and playing music. I’m sure there’s plenty to see in that, but as long as the shows get done well, that’s all I can hope for.

    Any artists you’re looking forward to seeing?
    No… ‘cause were fucking busy. I don’t know, there’s like 6 shows in 3 days in Austin so I don’t know how much time were gonna have spare. But we’ve got friends playing there, Life are playing which should be great. Andrew W.K. is apparently playing, that’ll be amazing, I’ve always wanted to see him play I think that’d be fun. I don’t know man, I’m just gonna feel out our days when we get there.

    So you guys supported the Foo Fighters at The O2 a few months back, how did that come about?
    We heard that they put us on a shortlist of bands to support them, so I told my manager to get a jigsaw puzzle made, do you know what that is? I don’t know if you call It that in America. So yeah, we got a jigsaw puzzle made of our bassist in his pants, you call trousers pants don’t you? In his briefs, his knickers. Holding up a sign saying “Pick IDLES.” We sent them the puzzle, covered up the box, and wrote on the box “If you build it, they will come,” and they liked it, and they picked us, and we built it and they came.

    What was it like playing in a venue of that size?
    It was cool man, like, if you build it up in your head before you go to a giant venue like that, I think it might swallow you up. But, I was just excited to play and I knew it would be good, like the sound would be amazing. It was cool, it wasn’t a surprise, it was exactly how I thought it was gonna be and it was great. It was surprisingly easy; do you know what I mean? I felt way more at home than I thought I would on a giant stage, not that I expect to play on one again anytime soon, but it was amazing.

    Your debut album, Brutalism – is it named after Brutalist architecture?
    Yeah. I’m a huge fan of architecture in general, always been an interest of mine and brutalist architecture is probably my favorite category, but it was more the metaphor of where we came from and rebuilding the band and doing it quickly and cheaply. And then it kind of burst the whole idea of how we sound.

    Is brutalism common where you’re from? Is that something that influenced your sound as well as just the metaphorical value?
    It’s common in Britain, yeah. Obviously the Germans bombed a lot of Europe and Britain, so post-war there was a lot of rebuilding that needed to be done. Society needed to be rebuilt and restructured, so they used concrete as the material that was quick-setting and cheap to use. So there’s a lot of it knocking about, and it serves as a great metaphor for kind of post-punk and punk music. Its got a very strict base, abrupt sound, concrete blocks of noise that are there to help society and rebuild things.

    Do you think places and surroundings have a big effect on artists and the music that comes out of a specific area?
    Absolutely, yeah. I think it’s the areas and the situation and the sentiment behind your situation. If you look at New York and what was necessary at different points, the jazz movement in New York and then the punk movement later on in New York it was very much a New York sound that also translated to people in London and you know the jazz scene translated to people in Germany and punk translated greatly to the British because there was a time of despair. So yeah, I think your surroundings, if you’re an honest writer–or even if you’re not an honest writer–I don’t think you can escape your psyche and what’s going on around you. That definitely shapes the way I write and the way I think. All over the world in America and in England there’s a real segregation separating the rich and the poor, the right and the left, in your country more so black and whites. You know this is a strange time to be alive and to be a liberal, to be forward-thinking. I think things seem to be going backwards in a lot of places.

    You also have a song, “Stendhal Syndrome,” that mentions painting and photography. Does visual art have any influence on IDLES?
    Massively, yeah. My dad’s an artist so I kind of grew up around that shit. Bowen, one of our guitarists is massively into more violent-looking imagery, like Goya, Dante’s Hell, Francis Bacon, stuff like that. Whereas I’m into more fantastic realism and realism like Lucian Freud, Michaël Borremans is probably my favorite painter, Rachel Whiteread, a British sculptor who famously filled a house with concrete and took the foundations away and the walls away so your left with the inside imprint. Yeah, I mean art is a huge part of our life and our passion, trying to incorporate it into our music, not just lyrically, but with our artwork and our outlook on how we treat things, and treat our writing and everything.

    How did you construct the album artwork?
    I knew I wanted to create something that was kind of a stand alone, abstract thing that represented the music. And then I wanted the thing that represented the music in the middle of the cover to be housed in a situation that demonstrated what the album was thematically about. So the block in the middle is supposed to be how it sounds, and then the photo of my mother and the construction of where it is and the simplistic, strict, designed poster on the right is supposed to embody the thematics of the album and our approach to music. So I did that in my dad’s studio. He helped me build it, we got a bunch of old flooring from a school and built it, and then I took some photos.

    Did you create the album artwork alone?
    Apart from my dads help, yes–and my girlfriend’s vagina. My family is very much involved in the art, but yes it was all my vision, I guess you could call it.

    Theres obviously quite a few songs on the record that are pretty political – are you trying to start a conversation or is it simply cathartic?
    Well, Brutalism is very much a visceral, explosive catharsis where I was getting rid of a lot and the politics kind of served as the purpose behind my grief, which was very personal, and about my mother. Obviously she had nothing to do with politics, but her situation did. So I wanted to start a discussion about something personal that is very important and very relevant at these times where we’re dismantling the inner chest. Something you might not appreciate in your situation, we live in a country where everyone gets healthcare, no matter how poor or their situation. Even if they’re not from this country, they get helped. It’s one of the best things this country has produced, and the right-wing government are destroying it. They’re overworking nurses, underpaying nurses, overpricing medications. It’s driven like a private co, the whole thing from the inside out. We don’t have a democratic process; they’re just doing it on their own without our choosing. So at the moment and for the next probably 50 years we’re battling with a right-wing government that are trying to change for the worse – Brexit is another example. So, my songs aren’t to lecture at all, they’re there just to give a very personal experience that hopefully opens up. I don’t want everyone to agree with me, I want people to listen, enjoy the music and disagree, agree or just dance, it doesn’t really matter.

    Notably in the song “1049 Gotho,” you explores themes of depression from some unique angles. What made you want to tackle that subject in your songwriting?
    My friend came back from a night out and I was staying on his sofa. He came back and woke me up, it wasn’t too late maybe 1 in the morning, and he was just crying. I wanted to know what was wrong. He said he was just feeling down and felt this from depression, and I unknowingly tried to cheer him up because I thought you could fix that. I thought at the time I could fix depression or someone who was feeling depressed. And he explained depression to me in a way that made it very clear what it was and helped me understand his situation and other people’s. I thought it was really such a poignant and beautiful moment that my friend helped me understand his pain. And I thought, well if he could do it I should try and pass that on, so I tried to write a song about it and just about that experience, really.

    Clearly you and the rest of the band are politically and socially conscious, what are your thoughts on the music industry?
    Its the same as a lot of other things, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. There’s not many idiosyncrasies I think to the industry as a whole, I think its very white washed. I don’t mean that literally in race, I mean its just really a mundane collection of music, you don’t even have to look at the mercury music prize or thing like that and see that its contenders are not very interesting. Mainstream radio is just playing the same shit, but I don’t know. I don’t see that a problem for me personally because I’m just working around it. You get what you get, and you make it better or you make it worse by going along with it so I’m trying to not go along with it. On that, I think there’s room there for people to flourish. I think there are certain artists in Britain and around the world are successful, just maybe not in the major radio side of it. But they’re touring and making a living out of it which is great. So, I think its just about not really giving a shit about the industry and just getting on with it, seeing what you can do yourself. I think If you’re an artist you can act as a Trojan horse and do something interesting and get through those walls instead of standing outside the walls throwing pebbles. It is what it is, to me its not of interest because I seem to be doing alright out of it and I’m like a fat old British guy with bad teeth writing music about depression and getting in fights.

    We’re coming up on the first anniversary of the release of Brutalism – how do you reflect on the album a year later?
    I’m glad you mentioned that. It’s actually on International Women’s Day (which is on Thursday) and the anniversary of my mother’s death. How do I reflect on it? I don’t know, I don’t think there’s a time of reflection at the moment just ‘cause I’m working on album two as we speak, and we haven’t finished with album one yet. I think its only good to reflect when you’re finished with something, and Brutalism is not finished in any way. We still got some touring to do out of it and I wanna make it the best we can. So, at the moment, it’s a great journey that were in and I can’t wait to crack on.

    What can we expect from album 2?
    Same thing but different. Again, I’m amongst it in the moment so I don’t really wanna talk about too much–I wanna get it done automatically without thinking too much about what it is. But, I can tell you that it’s better, and it’s very good.

    Watch the music video for “Mother” below


    By Jordan Smith

  • Spice Boys – “Glade” | An Interview & Album Review

    Spice Boys are back after their 2016 “Spice City” EP with their high octane debut album, “Glade”. The Swedish garage-rock band recorded 16 tracks over a hectic weekend in their hometown of Umeå, Sweden, and perfected them over the course of the next year. The time taken to perfectly craft this album was well worth the wait, as “Glade” is a force to be reckoned with, encapsulating the sound and feeling of urban frustration.

    Heavily influenced by the San Francisco garage scene, it opens up with “Spice City Boys” – a surf rock/psychedelic chaotic romp. It’s a fantastic opener, as it sets the sound for the rest of the LP. They carry this energy almost all the way through the album, deviating only on their track “Citrus Blossom”, for a perfectly placed, serene, and melodic intermission that refreshes you for the rest of the mayhem that ensues. The highlights of this album include the aggressive jam in “I Don’t Get Around”, the brief emotional headbanger that is “Fuk Luv”, and the raucous riot of “Vessel”.

    If you haven’t listened to Spice Boys yet, you definitely will be in the future, as this band definitely here to stay and is making their mark on the garage rock scene.

    I was able to talk with Sebastian Holmlund and Adam Forsberg from the band about “Glade”, the process of making the album, as well as what the band looks towards going into the future.

    “What was it like for you guys making this album?”

    Adam: “It was trying and fun but i think that when we recorded the album but I think when we recorded the album the process was we recorded the songs over a weekend in two days”.

    Sebastian: “Yeah everything 16 songs in two days.”

    Adam: “There were a lot of unfortunate incidents like we had to borrow a lot of equipment and that took some time and then we worked on overdubs, mixing, and producing.”

    Sebastian: “We wanted it to sound more expensive than a classic garage album, like Brian Wilson. So we took a long time to do the overdubbing and finding the right sound. It sounds so wildly different than the eight tracks we started out with, it’s like night and day…I think it’s a process before it starts, and then during you’re making it, then after it’s still a process like you’re never really finished.”

    “How do you guys think your sound will change going forward and what do you look towards in the future?”

    Sebastian: “It’s always ambitious to say that. Me and Adam write songs separately as a songwriting team but not related. So we come up with a song and see what we do with it and i think that’s great because it makes for a lot of diversity in songwriting. We listen to a lot of different music so it’s always exciting and a little competing to have that kind of talent. We will see. It’s hard to say at this point. We are probably going to record a new album this spring”

    “I know that it’s forward thinking to start talking about all of that but I think it’s important to think about what’s coming next.”

    Sebastian: “Focusing on the next thing is the most important think you know? This album took a year and a half to record and produce so it’s very old songs for us. It feels very good to start with something else.”

    “How do you guys feel about the album? Do you like it the way it is? Are there any things you wish you could change about it? Or a combination of the two?”

    Adam: “We’re very proud of it! I think it’s really good and of course when I listen to it I still hear things i want to add and change maybe but in the whole I like it.”

    Sebastian: “Yeah i think we did the most with the songs we had and it’s like that’s the period that has gone from my life and it feels better now when its out and you don’t work with it so now i can feel glad about it but for a long time i didn’t feel so good about it but now when it’s released and it’s something that’s out there.”

    Adam: “Yeah and I think always it’s like that during creative processes. Feeling bad, feeling like what what you’re doing sounds like shit you know haha but that’s what pushes you to make it good and reaching.”

     

    Interview by Luis Rodriguez // Speaker of the House

  • Interview with Guard

    This past week I had the incredible opportunity to interview Guard, a meme maker and anti-pop artist whose single “Pineapple Crush” has been featured on Spotify’s ‘Young & Free’ playlist.  With five original songs released under his belt and an EP scheduled for soon release, we talked about his relationship with the music world, how it relates to his online presence, and what he’s got in store for 2018.

    Why did you decide to get involved with the music industry?

    Music has always been my passion. I have been writing songs for as long as I can remember and started making demos to shop around a few years ago. It became more of an artist project quite early on and I just knew that this is what I was meant to do!

    What encompasses the anti-pop genre?  How would you define/describe it to someone unfamiliar with it?

    For me, anti-pop isn’t really a genre, it’s more of a concept that I am working towards. I guess it’s about blurring the lines between genres as well as focusing on concepts rather than commerciality. I love what the guys over at PC Music are doing… They take elements of mainstream music & just completely mess with them to create something totally new.

    What does your song creation process look like?  What’s your favorite step in creating a song?

    Every song is different, but usually I’ll start with melodies and just freestyle on voice notes. I get really inspired when I am driving or at like 4am when I should be asleep. I’ll often take a fully written song to a producer and work on it or else we’ll just start from scratch in a studio session. I love being in the studio. I feel complete there.

    Who are your major music influences, and what contemporary artists do you find yourself inspired from?

    My main influence is The xx – I also love Banks a lot. I listen to a lot of indie rock stuff like Tame Impala and Foster The People as well. l gravitate towards artists with cool concepts in their music. All of my songs stem from the concept of duality, more specifically the dichotomy of technology & humanity – this will be explored more in my new releases lol.

    How does your online presence relate to your music career?

    Basically, I’m a professional meme maker. I have been making memes on Instagram for a few years and have managed to gain quite a big audience. My biggest pages are @tindervsreality & @mycringe and I have used them as a platform to promote my music. Memes are so prevalent in current society… Rappers like Lil Pump, 6ix9ine etc are blowing up almost overnight because of memes & internet culture. I guess people that know me online understand my warped sense of humour. It has been great to see people that follow me for memes appreciate and engage with my music. I’m trying to tap into a new market here haha meme pop music.

    You’ve mentioned on your Twitter account that your 2018 goals include an EP and an album.  Is there anything that you can reveal so far about that progress, or the content to be included?

    Yes! My first EP is 99% finished. I experimented a lot with guitars but there are also elements of electropop. Looking forward to putting this out very soon! It’s very conceptual but also really personal to me. It will feature all previously unreleased music yay!

    Is there any song that you’re looking forward to release the most?

    I have a down tempo guitar driven song that I wrote with TYSM who is an amazing singer/writer based in Nashville. It was such a chilled session and I’m really proud of what we made. Hoping to put this one out asap!

    Do you plan on going on tour?

    Yes 100%, I am organising a live show as we speak! Going to be a lot of fun.

    “Pineapple Crush” recently hit 1 million plays on Spotify.  How did/does that feel?

    So dope!! It was really unexpected…I wrote it myself & had one of my friends in Melbourne (sb90) produce it. It’s quite an unusual pop song and I am so surprised and excited that it has found an audience. I put out a weird music video for it as well which was amazing to create. My meme followers roasted me pretty hard for my dancing in the video but I am so glad that people are digging the song. We made a follow up for “Pineapple Crush” called “Distorted” which will be on the EP!

    Do you have a favorite song that you’ve released?

    “Die Online” is definitely my favourite. That song saw so many different versions before the final release. Felix Snow really killed the production on it and I can’t wait to perform it live.

    What would you want to do for a living if you weren’t in the music industry?

    I dropped out of film school but I am trained in graphic design…. definitely something creative!

     

    For more information on Guard and to track his progress in the music world, you can follow his twitter (@guardsounds) or his Spotify.

    By Emme Ostrander

  • Danger Boy: Not a Shoegaze Band

         2017 was a big year for Columbia post-punk group Danger Boy. The four piece group formed, toured all over the east coast, and recorded their first EP, Lavender Realm. The album, released in January, is an epic of the hero Danger Boy, telling the first chapter in his journey through dark vocals and groovy bass hooks. The album digs through gothic, noisy spaces eliciting influences from The Smiths and Modern English, while expanding them with their own influences ranging from comic books to 90s anime.
         WUSC caught up with the group and showed them around our library. Digging through, they found everything from early 2000’s rap singles to reviews of the member’s past projects. where they talked about influences, anime, why their music isn’t shoegaze. Hear the full interview below, and be sure to check out Lavender Realm out now on Bandcamp and Spotify.

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    Interview by Jackson Tucker

    Library and Studio pictures by Maquel Parks

    Live photo by Leslie Leonard

  • An Introduction to The Space Hall of Columbia

     

     

    Space Hall Director: Sean Shoppell

    Photo Program Director: Richard Voltz

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    On a random Sunday evening, I was able to visit the The Space Hall in Columbia, an ethereal venue that’s usually sci-fi themed, and got to see a place without any fancy lights, no origami hanging from the ceilings, and no bamboo-lined walls.  I was able to view the space in its raw form without being decorated for an event. Today, Garnet and Black, USC’s student run magazine, used The Space Hall as a professional portrait studio. I was able to take a tour of the place, and chat with the Space Hall’s directors, Sean Shoppell and Richard Voltz.


    What is space hall?

    “The Space Hall of Columbia is a multi-purpose arts space located in the basement of Tapp’s Arts Center. Our main focuses right now have been placed on live music events, while also developing a community dark room and photo lighting studio.”

    How did this idea form and who is responsible for the development of this space?

    “It’s a little difficult to pinpoint where the idea for this project started, but I do know that a huge influence came from all the house shows I went to or set up while I was still in college.  House shows always gave me a sense of community and freedom that I’d have a hard time finding at a normal venue.  There was a time when there were about 5 separate house show spots running in town which meant there was a show almost every day of every weekend.  But that is were the true beauty of house shows are, they can’t last forever.  

    Around the time that a couple of those house show spots started phasing out was when I went to live up in NYC to potentially drop out of college/ have an internship/pursue “the dream”.  It was a beautiful experience that helped me learn a lot about what it means to be a creative today.  As important as it is to be creative and have talent, it is just as important to have time for practice and time to relax.  For me while I was up there I was working the whole time trying to stay sort of not broke, any free time was spent on a train or in traffic. It made me appreciate what “free time” meant and that you don’t have to move to a “name brand” city to “make it.”  If anything, you should only move to one of those places after you’ve “made it” or you have a ton of money or you’re ready to really work your ass off.  Added to that I’d never found anything that gave me that feeling of community that I’d had while I was here in Columbia.  

    With the hopes to actually finish college, have free time, and pursue creative endeavors more fully, I came back to Columbia.  This was around the time that a few friends I’d worked with before decided we wanted to try and do something in Columbia. We took a record label idea and revived it as an arts collective, each of us bringing together our different strengths, ideas, and dreams of what we saw we could do to help the community.  My goal from day one was a new arts space, something that could help refresh Columbia’s artistic community.  After almost exactly a year of trial and error with the collective, we decided to dissolve and focus on our personal goals.  It was during our last event with the collective that I knew I really wanted to focus on starting up a new space and I just started thinking “Yeah Space Hall is a good name for something” but I had no idea what it would actually be.  

    For a few months I spent time looking around town for buildings that could be potential arts spaces but I realized I had no money and no plan to do anything with a space. That was when I began to think “What kind of artists could really use the help right now?” The first thing that came to mind was photographers.  Columbia has such a incredible under the radar photography scene here, and there isn’t much access to tools for them to use.  There are no public dark rooms in South Carolina and any local photo studios are going to cost too much for artists trying to get their foot in the door [except for the really dope photo studio at the Richland County Library that is completely free to use, you should definitely check it out].

    Through sheer luck of the stars aligning, my old photography professor Gordon was able to help with donations related to everything needed to start the dark room and lighting studio while at the same time Tapp’s Art Center were looking to add a dark room to their building.  Space Hall owes so much to both Tapp’s and Gordon for making this a reality.  Tapp’s especially, has been the place that give me high hopes for the future of Columbia’s arts and culture.  The sense of community with the people who work there really shows me how much potential this city has.”

    How would you describe this type of space to a prospective artist?  

    “Space Hall is best described as a raw space. Somewhere, that if you have enough time and effort, you could do close to anything you want in it.”      

    What’s unique about space hall that sets it apart from other venues in Columbia?

    “When it comes to our live events we do as much as we can to make it a unique experience each time.  We make sure that when you come to see a live performance, you’re not just coming to see the live act, you’re there to really experience something new.  With that, we also try to do all we can to give credit where it’s due.  There’s so many moving parts of a live show that kind of go unrecognized on a public level.  Everything from who sets up the sound system, to the photographer who takes pictures at the show.  It’s kind of like the show is a big cell and each different aspect plays an important role which makes it important to recognize them and their work.

    For example, my brother Michael Shoppell [aka Grawix] is the most talented VJ artist in town, and if you’ve seen a show in the past two years, where there have been crazy visual projections, it’s a very good chance that he there was standing in the back of the room making it look that cool the whole time. Chris Johnson is also another important collaborator with the Space Hall who’s talent with sound equipment has truly been a blessing on the local music scene.

    Another side of that is we want to teach people those same skills to help them learn how to do something related to live events. Zoe Hedquist, who is a talented photographer works with the Space Hall as the Dark Room Manager, has also been learning how to operate lights for live events.  Basically, the more people who learn how to do these behind the scenes kind of things only helps build for better more unique shows in the future.”

    What type of art do you want to be included in this space?

    “We want to try and do all that we can.  Our strengths continue to be live music events, but we hope to have everything from galleries to film screening.”

    What events at space hall have been the most successful / how were they successful?

    “There’s a lot of different ways to look at success, which is something this process has been teaching me. When I first started throwing shows and events a big concern for me and everyone else was numbers. Which is important but not the ultimate barometer for success. The main focus for us is to give people an experience that was fulfilling. Be it a time you danced all night, or something where you heard something that made you laugh, cry, or dream.

    Our most important and successful event to date has definitely got to be our “Venus Rising” show.  Everything from the performers involved, and everyone who came out gave me that’s “oh shit this real” moment. The line-up featured three all female fronted R&B singers. Their experience that night, and what it felt to help these incredible artists have a chance to perform, doesn’t compare to anything else when it comes to success.

    Another thing that added to that show’s success is in thanks to Lee Garrett, Space Hall’s Live Event Coordinator, who put together the most incredible collection of art for the show’s campaign. His attention to detail and his talent for original flyer art is a style of it it’s own”

     

    What’s to come for space hall? Are you excited for any future exhibitions/ shows?

    “We have a lot of things lined up to come — that it’s hard to say what’s most exciting, but for as of now, I know we are excited as hell that the dark room we’ve been working on is almost finished. Richard Voltz who is our Photo Programs Director, has been deep in the basement pretty much every day working on the dark room.

    We will be having a big first Thursday opening on March first. So if you have any film you want to get developed soon send it out way.”

    If you guys could host any type of exhibition/ concert/ or gallery, what would your ideal show be?

    I’ve always wanted to make a VR drone system where you can pilot a drone in outer space like around the International space station or something . There’s also the idea of making 3D visual graphics shows. So maybe one of those things could happen soon.”


    The Space Hall of Columbia is located in Studio 31 in the basement of Tapp’s Art Center.

    Interview and Photos by Maquel Parks // DJ Corduroy

  • Interview: Jennifer Waits of Radio Survivor

    Jennifer Waits is the co-founder, College Radio and Culture Editor, and Social Media Director of Radio Survivor, a blog that advocates for the importance of FM, AM, Short-Wave, HD and satellite radio. She is also the founder of Spinning Indie, a blog that is dedicated solely to College Radio. She has visited over 100 college radio stations, and has been a DJ since 1986.
    In this interview, she tells us about the importance of College Radio in an increasingly complex media landscape, and explains why the future of radio is more optimistic than it may seem.


    In your experience, what distinguishes college radio from other public radio stations?

    College radio is pretty diverse, with many different types of stations; but in general, it’s special because it provides opportunities to college students. At many college radio stations, students are completely in charge, running a radio station, training their peers, and creating programming.

    How has the industry strengthened since you first went on air?

    College radio is ever-changing, but differences in technology have meant that students have more ways to do radio than when I first started. Back then, it was mainly limited to licensed terrestrial radio (AM/FM), carrier current, cable, and very low power campus-only stations. In 2017, college radio stations still have AM, FM and cable, but also have opportunities to stream online, broadcast over LPFM, use HD radio channels, be heard over a few satellite radio stations, as well as through apps and streaming services. It’s a multi-media world now and one of the things that excites me about college radio is its embrace of video in order to augment the formerly audio-only broadcasts.

    What have been the biggest setbacks?

    The main challenges of college radio are as old as college radio itself: funding and an ever-changing student population. Beyond that, there’s the complex media landscape today, so some folks get the impression that radio is less relevant. In reality, radio is still one of the most consumed forms of media.

    How has the demise of the College Music Journal affected college radio?

    I don’t get the impression that CMJ’s troubles have had a major effect on college radio overall. It’s unfortunate that CMJ is no longer doing its annual music marathons, as that was a rite of passage for many of us former college radio Music Directors. I have fond memories of traveling to New York City to attend CMJ and I saw some great panel discussions and amazing live music over the years. CMJ’s college radio charts have been useful for many stations and when it started to become clear that CMJ was in trouble, a number of charting services appeared on the scene as alternatives.

    Why is it important to keep college radio stations on air?

    I believe that our airwaves should be full of a wide range of programming, including a breadth of non-commercial radio options, including high school, college, and community radio. Local radio is special and is increasingly lacking on the commercial side of the dial; which makes it even more important for college and community radio to step up and fill that void. Additionally, college radio stations can be voices for their campuses and places where students, faculty and administrators can share hyper-local stories, events, athletic competitions, concerts, and more.

    How are college stations adapting to an increasingly difficult climate?

    I’m not sure that it is an increasingly difficult climate. In fact, I’ve been inspired by the recent increase in low power FM (LPFM) radio stations, thanks to the Local Community Radio Act. College radio groups were among the recipients of new LPFM licenses, with more than 75 college radio stations obtaining construction permits following the 2013 application window. Additionally, online-only college radio stations are still being launched, which provides more evidence of the ongoing relevance of college radio in 2017.

    What is lost what a station loses their signal?

    Once a college radio station loses an FM or AM license, it’s very unlikely that it will get one again. Audiences for terrestrial AM/FM radio are much larger than for streaming-only radio stations, mainly because the radio dial is finite and the internet is flooded with audio options. In recent years a few stations that have lost full power licenses have returned to the airwaves over LPFM, including Rice University’s KTRU. Although students will say that they are most likely to tune in online, it’s also the case that having an FM or AM signal is perceived by many as a sign of legitimacy, of “real” radio.

    What should communities do to help support their local college radio station?

    Listen, donate, evangelize. College radio stations should also ensure that they are staying relevant to their campus and community. I think it’s important to document the good work that stations are doing and to share the positive impact of your college radio station with administrators. Invite them to tour the station, talk to them about why college radio is important to students, and make sure that they are on your side. Also, take pride in your station by telling your station’s story, including its history. Preserve artifacts, digitize vintage audio and ephemera, and reach out to alumni to hear their stories.

    What can students gain from getting involved in their campus radio station?

    For many of us, college radio was one of our most treasured experiences while in college. I’ve heard tales of people nearly flunking out of school because of their devotion to working at a college station. It can be one of those rare chances for students to be in charge, so it’s a powerful learning experience. Students gain leadership and communication skills in addition to all of the radio station-specific benefits. For some, it’s the place where they learn how to interact with the music industry (labels, venues, musicians, etc.), while for others it’s a chance to manage a website, control a social media feed, do sports play-by-play, or learn audio and video editing. In an increasingly multi-media world, college radio stations are the perfect place to experiment and learn.

    By Jordan Smith

  • Interview with Kevin March of Guided by Voices

    Guided By Voices has been extremely influential not only to independent music, but the development of college radio. Earlier this month, one of our DJs was fortunate enough to interview Kevin March, their longtime drummer, before their headlining performance at this year’s Jam Room Music Festival. Here they discuss Robert’s songwriting, the future of the band and the legacy they’ve built. Listen to the full interview above, and tune in to The Cesspool on Monday nights for more post-punk music and discussion.

  • Interview with Andrew Rieger of Elf Power

    On October 14, Elf Power returned to Columbia to play the Jam Room Music Festival. One of our DJs had the chance to chat with Andrew Rieger about their newest album, influences, and recording techniques, Listen to the full interview above!

  • Interview with Mike Kinsella of American Football

     

    American Football released their second album a year ago and we are looking back on our interview with frontman Mike Kinsella. Read our review of American Football [LP2] below and listen to the interview above!

    “It took 17 years, but American Football is back with their second self-titled album. It’s new, fresh, material that feels familiar, but in a good way. I was so excited for this album, and I still am. I love this album precisely because it’s exactly what I expected and so much more: it’ a cozy sweater on an autumn day, it’s your favorite cup of coffee or tea when it’s raining outside, it’s that feeling you get when your favorite person laughs at your jokes. It’s indie-emo gold. This is the band that essentially created emo music as we know it, the band that inspired the tidal wave of music that has unfortunately become somewhat of a mockery, including bands like Dashboard Confessional, Death Cab for Cutie, Jack’s Mannequin, and so many more. Because of the 17-year gap between albums, this go around sees songs focused more on the fragility of adult relationships, the destructive power of impulse, and heartbreak when the culprit isn’t so obvious. It has a sense of listless wistfulness, twinkling guitars and confessional lyrics that characterize the genre that American Football helped create.”

  • WUSC Talks About Free Speech Around the World

    Free Speech

    As part of WUSC’s Free Speech Initiative, News Director Nick Vogt and myself interviewed Randy Covington on 90.5 Minutes of the News.

    Covington is the Director of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers Newsplex and a professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He has worked at television stations across the United States, for the Associated Press and in radio. As part of the Newsplex, he travels around the world to present workshops on investigative journalism and new media.

    In our conversation with Professor Covington, we focused on free speech around the world. “Generally, the medium that has the largest audience is television,” he said. “It’s not by coincidence that in much of the world television is government owned and government controlled.”

    Covington, who has experience training reporters in Russia, cited the country as an example. According to him, once Vladimir Putin took power, he moved to limit independent television stations in Russia in order to silence dissenting opinions.

    We also talked about the role of governments in restricting the newest place people are expressing themselves – the Internet. With the Arab Spring and the “Umbrella Revolution” in Hong Kong, the Internet took center stage. “They try their best,” Covington said of authoritarian regimes. “This Internet thing – it’s like whack-a-mole. You think you’ve got it under control, but all of the sudden this information is getting out. People will seek the truth.”

    Another role of the Internet and new media is citizen journalism. How do citizen journalists fit in with free speech? According to Covington, “traditional media organizations have yet to embrace the power of the crowd. As a result, we suffer. But it’s not like they are going to do our story about why this government agency is corrupt. We’re gonna have to do that story – but they’re going to help us.”

    Towards the end of our interview, we focused on an incident that made headlines last October. Covington, along with his colleague Joe Bergantino, was arrested in Russia on alleged visa violations. Covington suspects it was attempt by the FSB (the successor to the KGB) to stifle their workshop on investigative journalism because it was just a little too much free speech for the government to handle.

    The pair were hauled into court. “The thing that struck my attention when I walked in was this big iron cage that they used to put the defendants in,” he said. “Fortunately they trusted us and didn’t put us in the big iron cage.”

    Covington recounted how the session began. “[Bergantino] was up first and he’s trying to make the argument ‘I have a visa from the U.S. embassy’…and the judge cut him off and says ‘you don’t really need to make that argument, because you’re guilty.”

    Ultimately, neither was jailed or fined, but they were ordered to stop the workshop.

    Covington says one of the most jarring things about the whole incident was the reaction he got from two hotel employees when he asked their opinion on his arrest as they were checking out. “I have never seen such fear in my life as the fear I saw in their eyes,” he said. “For me, that…really hammered home what we take for granted.”

    As Covington and Jay Bender both pointed out during our Free Speech Initiative interviews, we do take free speech for granted. Hopefully our conversations about it on WUSC have helped to educate about the need for and importance of free speech.

    You can hear part of our interview with Randy Covington here.

    For WUSC News, I’m Ben Turner.

  • WUSC Talks Media Law and the First Amendment

    As part of WUSC’s Free Speech initiative, News Director Nick Vogt and myself interviewed Jay Bender on 90.5 Minutes of the News.

    Bender is the Reid H. Montgomery Freedom of Information Chair at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he teaches media law. He also teaches media law at the School of Law and is a practicing attorney specializing in first amendment law. He has represented the South Carolina Press Association and the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, as well as various reporters and media outlets.

    We talked with Professor Bender about free speech. He stressed that the right of free speech is always a struggle. “During times of turmoil, the government puts great pressure on unorthodox speakers and speakers who urge a view contrary to government policy and it’s been that way throughout our history,” Bender said.

    Most people know free speech in America isn’t absolute. The classic example is not being allowed to yell “fire” in a crowded theater when there’s no fire. According to Bender, “the Supreme Court has seen the first amendment as a right or a protection to be balanced against other interests the government might have.” This balance includes restrictions against obscenities and speech likely to incite violence.

    Professor Bender brought up something we are acutely aware of at WUSC – the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) restriction we must obey against airing swearing on the airwaves. This limits the music we can play and the on-air commentary we can offer, but it’s one of those restrictions the government has deemed in the public interest.

    Many people believe individuals abuse their rights, such as the Westboro Baptist church or the KKK. Bender agrees “free speech could certainly be abused in a private context…but the government cannot be offended by speech, particularly where it’s commentary on the operations of government and criticism of government officials.”

    He pushed back against the recent push to limit criticism of religion or try to limit “hate speech” against groups. “What is hate speech?” Bender asked. “How do you draw the line between hate speech and protected speech?”

    Bender tackled the issue of campus protests, comparing the protest at USC after the events in Ferguson with the protests on the campus of Coastal Carolina. He praised the reaction of USCPD, who worked with protesters and criticized campus police at Coastal, who arrested several students for defacing property when they drew chalk outlines on sidewalks.

    Bender praised USC on free speech, arguing “this university in recent times has been tolerant of speech and I applaud the administration for that. It was not always the case.”

    He encouraged students to speak out, noting “one of the beauties of being young is you have the opportunity to explore a lot of things and the limits of free speech would be one of those.”

    Throughout the interview, Bender offered a spirit defense of free speech. “Citizens benefit when problems can be exposed and discussed,” he said. “One of the philosophical justifications of the first amendment is that it is a safety valve. It allows the society that has unhappiness to express itself and discuss possible solutions.”

    You can hear our full interview with Jay Bender here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La5xuH3uvYY

    For WUSC News, I’m Ben Turner.

  • Interview with Boreal Sons


    Recently, I (Rupert Hudson, WUSC Music Director) interviewed Evan Acheson, the lead singer and piano player of Calgary, Canada-based band Boreal Sons. He was a lovely man and we chatted about haters, their new album, and maple syrup (not sure if we actually talked about that but it was implied).

     

    I’m very exciting to be interviewing you today. Especially because of the beautiful connection we have through your guitarist Logan (I went to high school with him). How did you meet him?

    Yeah, we call him the ruggedly handsome one. I met him a while ago through some friends. We went to the same live music events in Calgary. I think I’d met him very briefly and I was driving in rush hour traffic one day. I looked over and he was the car right where I wanted to be in traffic. We kind of had this silent moment and with motioning charades I said “would I be able to sneak in front of you there?” Of course, he waved me him. That’s why I let him in the band. I owed it to him.

    Who else do you have in your band and how did you meet them?

    Well, I play the piano and sing, and Logan has the guitars covered. Zack is on percussion and I have known him my whole life. Our parents were friends. And finally, Reagan is the bass player and I met him through an organization called Young Life.

    Tell me a bit about your childhood.

    Well, I was homeschooled, which was interesting. Actually, I thought that I had a very normal childhood. My mom was a teacher and she taught my three little brothers and me. The four of us were very good buddies growing up and I had lots of friends in the neighbourhood with whom I would go build tree forts in the woods and ride our bikes.

    Are you on tour right now?

    We are in the middle of a long tour right now but we have a few days off in Calgary. We toured the west coast of Canada and we got to play a bunch of really fun shows out in the Vancouver/Victoria area and also in the mountains. We’re getting ready to head east now. We haven’t really played anywhere on the eastern side of the continent so we are going to be doing a lot of driving in the next few days. We are so excited for new adventures and new sights. Our mechanic just put new tires on our van and he assures us everything will be a-ok for our massive trek.

    Have you had trouble with your van before?

    Well, we had an old tour van that was a lot of maintenance and trouble. In the end, it burst into flames on the highway. I called our mechanic and described to him what our engine looked like and he said “I think that’s probably all she’s got in her.” Zack, Reagan and I had been at a wedding and Logan was visiting friends in another part of Vancouver and we called him. Like a knight in shining armor, he borrowed a large van in Vancouver and drove 3 or 4 hours to come pick us up.

    Your new album Threadbare was just released, how does that feel?

    It’s great. It’s our first full-length album. We’ve had a couple of EPs previously but this is our first album where we sat down and strategically planned it out. We worked with an awesome producer and made our greatest effort and best product to date.

    What has the reaction in Canada been like? Have certain cities asked you to come play there because of this album or did you plan it out?

    Well, it was mostly us, but we have been getting a lot of media coverage. We’ve been working with some people to help us with publicity and they have been a huge help. We have got a few blog articles and album reviews about Threadbare. Everyone has been extremely supportive.

    Well, we have loved your album on WUSC. I think you were #5 on our charts this week.

    Holy smokes! I’ve never even been to South Carolina.

    You’ve got to come here! Anyways, do you have any good stories that come from your most recent tour?

    There was this cool bar we played at in Victoria, BC called The Copper Owl. It was a bizarre experience. The venue used to be a gay bar but now hipsters have claimed it. It’s like, a guy sits down with a PBR, another guy sits down with a fancy cocktail and they can hit it off. They can be best buds. It was quite small but made for a really intimate show. There was torrential downpour that night and crazy amounts of wind. I think it was a special moment as people sought shelter from the storm and huddled around.

    Are you going anywhere in the next month and a half that you haven’t been?

    I think I’m most excited to go to the east coast of Canada because I’ve never been there at all. Not even on a family vacation. I’m looking forward to seeing the beautiful landscape. I’ve heard there are lots of rocky cliffs near the sea and that the people are really lovely. We’re travelling through Quebec as well, and I’ve never been there either.

    I see you’re playing at a place called Burritoville in Montreal.

    I’ve heard from sources that is a beautiful old building, which should be fun. I’ve also heard that they have great Mexican food.

    Have you had to deal with haters at all with your band?

    No, not really. Oh wait, today we got a 2/5 star review. But you know, you’re going to get that so whatever. It is interesting though. I think having people give their honest opinions and poor reviews is not a bad thing altogether. It at least gives us a gauge for how many people are actually hearing it now. I mean, we’re not out there to win everybody over. It was such an awesome experience just to make this album and express ourselves genuinely and honestly. We can only improve from here so we are open to hearing honest criticism.

    What is your personal favorite song to play live from the album?

    Oh, good question. I think it would be Sparks, which is track 2 on the album. It’s a bit more groovy than some of our previous stuff. We’ve been playing a real Fender Rhodes keyboard on tour and the sound of it mixed with the drums, the whole band playing together and the movement of the chord changes is a lot of fun. Also, the song Coward has a bit of gnarly, staticky guitar solo on the recording but live we have been having a lot of fun trying to make it loud and crazy. Some of our fans who have been listening to our softer, quieter stuff will hopefully be surprised in a pleasant way by how these songs sound.

    Thank you so much Evan for doing this interview.

    Thank you! I hope to see you in Canada sometime soon.