As an avid reader of LA CANVAS (as I know you must be), I am sure you are familiar with the vastness of our colloquial music taste here at the Clubhouse. Everything from the latest indie rock, to our hip-hop fan boys, we cover it all—and in this case, we’d like to add black metal to the mix (surprise!).
Hailing from San Francisco, Deafheaven was founded by singer George Clarke and guitarist Kerry McCoy. They started off as duo which shortly there after became the full 5 piece that you see before you today. Reigning influences from various genres and formats within the umbrella of “metal”, the band has created a unique sound that is absolutely identifiable to only them. Sometime during their 2011-2012 tour, I had the chance to catch the guys in one of my personal favorite intimate concert settings: the basement of a punk house in the Northside of Chicago named The Albion House, and it was there where I experienced what I’d refer to as a musical epiphany. Either it was the cold winter night, lack of breathable air (this basement probably fit about 50 people, in a space meant for 20), the copious amounts of alcohol consumed from 40oz’s in paper bags or a true musical moment where the crowd really felt what was happening right in front of their eyes. I am pleased to say it was the latter situation (with maybe a little of the other mixed in).
From that point forward, Deafheaven’s music has drawn the jaws of spectators downwards into utter silence after each song as they flow seamlessly together, such as a classical masterpiece made up of a multitude of movements. The methodological build up and flow of each individual song provides not songs that you can “sing along” to, but songs that are genuinely amazing to listen to in themselves.
Fast-forward: 2 years later to 2013, the band put out their most recent album titled Sunbather. Gaining critical reviews from the likes of SPIN and Rolling Stone and general world-wide acclaim, the band has become a true example of how the hustle pays off. From the muggy and overpacked basement in Chicago to rocking the stage at FYF Fest, the band doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. During the festival, I had the chance to sit down with the band and talk shop prior to their big performance:
LA CANVAS: You guys have come a long way over the past couple years, I remember the first time I saw you guys was in a squatter house basement in Chicago.
ALL OF THEM: Oh yeah! The Albion House!
LAC: Yeah! So from there, now you are playing FYF, how does that feel?
KERRY MCCOY: It feels great, I think it has a lot to do with a lot of hard work, and non stop touring and a good healthy portion of luck.
GEORGE CLARKE: Yeah, lots of luck, definitely a lot of hard work. We’re a touring band, we do this consistently, and I think we are very mindful of our musical direction and I think if you invest enough care into it, things will sort of fall into place, with luck aside.
LAC: Did you guys think when you started that you would follow through with this genre which I see to be a mix between the melodic and metal styles?
“Lets throw this Morbid Angel influence part in here or this Radiohead influence part in here” then we all kind of just sit there and bang our heads against the wall for a couple days.
GC: The original idea years and years ago when Kerry and I were first toying around with the idea was sort of our take on post-black metal. Since then, I think our sound has evolved a lot. I wouldn’t call us that nowadays, I think that we still have that influence a lot, but we have expanded in different directions, and at this point I really know exactly what to call it, but I still feel that we are somewhat in that family that we started out originally wanting to be a part of.
LAC: With Sunbather coming out last year and being rated as one of the top metal albums of 2013, what kind of successes have you guys seen from that?
GC: I think we mostly just had a variety of people in the crowds, people you wouldn’t see before, that maybe found out about us through Rolling Stone or SPIN, or more mainstream avenues such as that. So I think seeing people that normally wouldn’t have access to that style of music.
KM: The shows have been doing really well.
GC: The shows have been going better, more interesting, more variety.
LAC: Awesome, so being that you guys are from California, I take it you guys have been to LA more than a few times now. What are some of the things you like to do while you have free time
KM: Well, George and I live here now, so most of the stuff I do while we’re not on tour is go to Cha Cha a lot, go to Brite Spot and Alcove a lot,
GC: Good food and good drinks.
STEPHAN LEE CLARK: I like going to Hollywood Amoeba, place is huge hah, so many records there.
GC: Plus our manager, lives here, so we always have a home base to hang out at.
KM: Usually when we are at home, or when in LA, which I consider to be a second home from San Francisco for the most of us, It’s just a time to relax and enjoy friends and people that we’ve gained relationships here. Nothing really out of the ordinary, just hanging.
LAC: Just to kind of wrap up, being that, at least in my opinion, your music is extremely complex and intricate, what are some of the things that go into your writing process when you guys are deciding your future tracks?
KM: It used to be me and George sitting down and working on riffs and lyrics together and bringing them to Dan. Now that we have a full band, all of us get into a room and bring various riffs to the table and get a general idea of what we are going for, i.e. “lets throw this Morbid Angel influence part in here or this Radiohead influence part in here” then we all kind of just sit there and bang our heads against the wall for a couple days. Then eventually we put it all together, and George puts his spin on that. It’s a very collaborative thing now, so a lot of heads just putting in as much as they can to get this weird product out of it all essentially.
SLC: It’s oddly very fluid
DAN TRACY: Probably from the constant touring and playing together every night for a year straight it’s easy for us to gel, and flesh songs out. We’re Cosmically in-tune.
Purchase/listen to Sunbather digitally here or pick up a vinyl copy at your favorite local record haunt.
Throughout the past couple years, we’ve seen an emergence in what I like to consider folk-electronic music rising up from the depths of your favorite underground music venues into your SiriusXM radios. Although the genre has been steadily growing, it somehow has yet to move on as a passé movement in the scheme of genres making a comeback here in Southern California.
Since Sylvan Esso‘s self-titled debut this past May, they’ve set the bar to a whole other level with tracks that reverberate throughout and unique mixes of top-notch vocals and clean production. From front to back, Singer Amelia Meath (previously of folk trio Mountain Man) and producer Nick Sanborn have created an interesting mix of simple yet mysteriously complex tracks filled with layers of meticulousness that leave for an experience in itself.
The dynamic eb and flow of the album provides listeners with jams like ‘Hey Mami’ and ‘Coffee‘— both to be enjoyed with a pair of headphones or in your nearest hipster dance dive—I personally recommend Dance Yourself Clean at Short Stop. Before the band hit their two night sold-out shows at The Troubadour, LA CANVAS Magazine had a chance to chat with Nick about now, next and how the duo came to be.[separator type=”thick”]
LAC: Out of curiosity, Amelia, having played with the trio Mountain Man (a very folk centered trio, touring with Feist and such), did you ever see your musical journey translating over to a more electronic/instrumental world?
NICK SANBORN: I hesitate to speak for her, but she has always loved electronic music and pop and wanted to try something that was more accessible. Both of us have a bit of genre-ADD, and have hopped around a lot over the course of our “careers”.
We’re booked out for the extended foreseeable future, and working on lots of remixes and new stuff when we can. We’re just grateful to be out here and playing for more and more people, which we’ll continue to do as long as we can.
LAC: Having both come from what seems very different musical backgrounds, what brought you two together to experiment on what is now your signature sound?
NS: We were just big fans of one another. I think any time two people are fans of each other’s music it allows them to contextualize each other. The remix of Play It Right kinda took me by surprise – it showed me a way I could work with someone musically in a different way than I had been before, and thankfully Amelia felt the same way. We didn’t set out with any stylistic goals beyond accessibility, this is just the natural music we make together (for right now, at least).
LAC: Once you got together and did the first mix of “Play It Right” what was the tipping point when you decided, “Yes, this is the direction we are going to go, and we are going to rock it”?
NS: After that we started trading ideas over email, which was exciting but neither of us had any expectations. The tipping point for me was a couple months later, when Amelia flew out to Durham to hang and record vocals at my house. I had a solo show scheduled at Hopscotch (a festival here in NC) and asked her to join me to sing Play It Right, which I had been using as the closer to my sets pretty regularly. Something just clicked during that song (the first time we had ever been on stage together, in front of six or so people) – we both looked at each other afterwards and decided we had to see where it could go.
*We both look at each other and decided we had to see where it could go…
LAC: The songs “Coffee” and “Hey Mami” seem to building the most traction in the blogosphere, are those tracks in which you were anticipating to hit, or did you have other songs off the album which you’d really like to resonate more with listeners?
NS: Not at all. We kinda had no idea what to release as singles. We had already put out Hey Mami and Play It Right on a 12″ single (just because they were our first two songs), and so we decided to put out Coffee next just because it was an opposite vibe of the other two. We thought it was way more of a sleeper hit than a single, I mean, it’s such a bummer of a song in so many ways.
LAC: The album still seems to be building serious momentum since it’s release in May, and with a nation wide tour, what are you thinking is the next level for Sylvan Esso?
NS: Who knows? We’re booked out for the extended foreseeable future, and working on lots of remixes and new stuff when we can. We’re just grateful to be out here and playing for more and more people, which we’ll continue to do as long as we can.
LAC: I have to ask (sorry if this has been thrown your way a million times) but what is the meaning behind the name “Sylvan Esso”?
NS: It’s loosely based on a video game called Swords and Sworcery that both Amelia and I would highly recommend.
LAC: I am not sure how many times either of you have been to Los Angeles (we are very excited for your show at the Troubardour), but is there a spot in town that you must hit while you’re here?
NS: We’ve recently been addicted to this breakfast taco spot called Home State, so that’ll be on the docket. Other than that our trip will hopefully involve hugging my friend Spencer, eating bahn-mi at this pop up place by Jackie’s house, and taking a hike up several of your urban staircases.
LAC: If you had one thing to say to describe your current tour, what would it be?
NS: Fantastic and exhausting.
LAC: What are some bands or songs that you two currently have loaded on your playlists right now?
NS: The Lounge Lizards – Voice of Chunk (whole record), Jessy Lanza – Keep Moving, Caribou – Can’t Do Without You
This past week, LA CANVAS teamed up with local powerhouse brand and establishment, LATS, for a night of food, music and of course one of our favorite things here at LAC, fashion. Throughout the evening guests were enticed by complimentary beverages courtesy of our friends at New Amsterdam Vodka, House Beer and Aquahydrate while taking in some of the most amazing small bite morsels I personally have had at an event (lets just say it involved cream puffs, and something made of quiona). Enough about the food though: LATS officially released a sneak peak into the brands first resort wear line slated for its debut this December, 2014. Styles included everything from funky and fun tops to unique outwear pieces and bottoms—there was something in the mix for everyone. With drinks flowing, PHHHOTO (the newest way to take a moving photo) going, the night was a reverie in sight and with soundtracks by LAC music babes Whitney Fierce and KITTENS, the evening was a tight-knit package. Be sure to check out our favorite moments below and keep up with the lovely ladies of the brand here. Also, see the space for yourself and grab a cup of joe at The Classic (the killer new coffee shop on the first floor).
[dropcap letter=”W”]ith the heat gradually rising day by day, we’ve been prone to putting our single unit A/C on full blast and rocking out to the tunes of our favorite bands. While I shrivel up to the sounds of Pentagram, Bass Drum OF Death and ASTR (I know, a very odd mix), I’ve come to find out that one of our favorite LA-based bands released a new album just last week. The Downtown Train, consisting of band members Troy, Bevi, Ned and Christopher take the meaning of cool cats to a whole new level. With the release of their EP appropriately titled “Egyptian Quinceañera” and a Monday night residency at new local hot spot Good Times At Davey Waynes (featured in our latest Teamwork issue), the guys seem to be the upward slope. I attended their album release party and had the chance to sit down and chat with the gents about life, music and a few of their personal favorite haunts in the city.
LA CANVAS: We heard you mention that your songwriting process took a few years leading up to this LP. What was the deciding factor for you as musicians when you knew you had what you wanted to move forward with and record?
TROY: Well, I come up with the songs, unconciously, months and months before hand through life, and the moment that they become the train songs, is when we are all jamming together. At that point, they hear them, and are able to put their magic into the pot, and thats when we come up with a real solution. We are always trying to find a new path, sometimes you come upon a real deep cut of forest in front of you, and it’s not always easy to keep going, so once we all get together, that’s when we start cutting through it all and it really becomes a hit, that’s where I think the magic is.
We are always trying to find a new path, sometimes you come upon a real deep cut of forest in front of you, and it’s not always easy to keep going, so once we all get together, that’s when we start cutting through it all and it really becomes a hit, that’s where I think the magic is.
LAC: You and the band recorded your demos in a cabin out in Joshua Tree. Was there any particular reason why you did so? Were you somewhat following in the footsteps of those icons from the 60’s and 70’s that did the same?
NED: As much as we do take influence and inspiration from the old school, rock and roll cats and the music and mystique of going out to the desert, it really is just a place that we resonate with that is isolated from the city . We needed to go away to focus on these things. Going back to what Troy said about the writing process, once a good portion of the record felt like it was together, that is when we decided to go out there. There were actually a few tracks that hadn’t been fully worked out yet and they kind of just came alive out there.
TROY: Yeah like 4 tracks, which is ⅓ of the whole album.
NED: Thats the kind of energy you find out in the desert. The inspiration and isolation that you have allows you to create without any worry, and thats what we did; by putting ourselves in this beautiful place. I think that is the same thing that those people saw, especially in the area of Joshua Tree.
LAC: While you were set up in Joshua Tree, the band particularly chose to record inside a rustic style house, and record all the demos strictly on analog. That must’ve been a pretty hefty set up, why did you choose to go that route in terms of recording style?
NED: We just went with tape, because we knew it was going to sound rad. We recorded once before digitally and we thought it sounded too clean, so we wanted to go more old school.
CHRISTOPHER: It’s complimentary to this sound, it gives off this warm feel, like a lot of old records, and thats something you don’t hear a lot anymore because of things like Pro Tools. It gives a uniqueness in this world, and connects back to that world of 60s and 70s rock and blues, which makes it sound nice.
BEVI: And at the beginning of the track it goes shhhhhhhhhhhh [the sound a record or tape makes when you start it up] saying [in a whisper] to be quiet, and listen what you’re about to hear.
LAC: What was the process like setting all of that up?
BEVI: Basically we recorded our first album at some place where we didn’t necessarily feel comfortable, where we could do everything we wanted to do so we tried to find a place where we could do exactly what we wanted to do and feel free, and that was the desert. There’s something about the desert, where there’s almost no rules out there, because it’s not dense. So Troy found this really awesome place called The Bottle Rock House in Joshua Tree, and then we met Tyler and JJ from Zenith Studios when we were playing at the second Desert Daze out at the Sunset Ranch. So the guys met us out there with their recording equipment at these two houses. One was made out of wine bottles for walls, and the other was more of a normal house. Our sound man Gary was out there too, and they literally set up a whole vintage recording studio in this Bottle Rock house. There was nothing there and then all of a sudden, a couple days later there’s this whole studio inside the bottle house [kind of like a control room] where we had a cord snake going into the other house, where we played live.
NED: Also the amps were spread out into three cars outside of the house.
BEVI: Yeah we had the bass amp, Troys guitar amp, and mine in three separate cars, that way it didn’t bother the neighbors and we had the isolation.
TROY: The actual location and how everything came together was really the most thought out part of the entire album, which I think was pretty interesting The music just came naturally, and like you mentioned earlier, it took a long time, and it just came. One of the songs in particular, “Marley” came to me in an Indian casino up near Yosemite, while I was at a buffet and I just started hearing this repetitive melody, that was really high tension, and I just had to run out to the car and get my guitar and figure it out. It wasn’t until Joshua Tree that I wrote out the map of the song listing and saw how they all flowed together.
Ideally if you put something out there and you do everything you can on your end, its bound to come around. I think if we work with our friends at different labels, it’s definitely a good way to catapult to the next level of where we want to be.
LAC: What are your hopes for the future of the record?
TROY: Hopefully we will be working with some of our friends—people that are inspiring music to be spread around the world which is really the key factor with any music. Music is not an idea until a lot of people hear it, and thats when it inspires people—especially here in Los Angeles. It has to go to ears beyond here, and thats when our friends at spots like Lolipop and Burger Records can help us out.
CHRISTOPHER: Ideally if you put something out there and you do everything you can on your end, its bound to come around. I think if we work with our friends at different labels, it’s definitely a good way to catapult to the next level of where we want to be. We aren’t looking to sign to a major label overnight, its about the journey.
LAC: Lastly, as always here with my interviews for LAC — as a band, what is your favorite spot to eat?
*Pick up “Egyptian Quinceañera” from the band at any of their live shows, and on digital platforms worldwide. Also catch the Downtown Train every Monday night at Good Times At Davey Waynes at 11:30 along with other local acts, and the bands own DJ Ned Casual on the decks spinning your favorite classic jams.
Have you ever found yourself in that perfect moment, when your sunny surroundings perfectly match the soundtrack from Ipod? Well, living here in California, that moment tends to happen to a lot of us here, and we can’t think of anything better to listen to on a warm Los Angeles afternoon than La Vega. The group, made up of members Daniel Vega and Evan Magers, boasts the vintage summer-rock vibe that we have grown to love, and they definitely do not disappoint with their new single “Do The Surfer Girl Limbo.” The track kicks off with a hypnotic guitar riff and some gritty vocals that invites listeners to do “the swim” in whichever location they are in (be it the car, your sisters wedding, or the irritatingly “iconic” California thing, driving down the PCH).
Their highly anticipated release of their full length, appropriately titled “Wave,” is set to hit your local record shop on August 13th. Take a listen to the new single below, and tag us in a instagram video @LACANVAS of your perfect La Vega moment, or even a dance (we promise, we’ll keep it between you and us).
For many men, a haircut is simply a routine process. Get in car, go to local barber, pay $30 and leave with a cut that’s satisfactory but not exactly in line with your idea of dashing-young-gentleman. Proper Barbershop Founder Vinnie Morey is trying to change that. Having his start cutting hair in female centered salons around the world, Morey made the switch to the classic art of barbering, and has never looked back.
At 23, Morey, along with business partner Trent Magnano, opened the doors of Proper approximately 9 years ago, all with the goal of creating an a classic barbershop atmosphere where a great cut could be had. Centering their business around “period correct” mens cuts from the 1920’s and onward, they have been cutting the locks of everyone from the normal joe to Hollywood celebrity. Morey looks at his work as both a tradition and an art, all while paying homage to the history that follows the craft.
“All we really hope to do here–not by our look or the way we dress, but by our haircuts and our work–we hope to pay homage to barbering.”
Morey and Magnano have certainly paid homage to classic barbering with Proper, but with a touch of flair that they attribute to punk, skate culture. While the shop’s chairs are like those you’d find in an old-school barbershop, the surrounding mirrors, booths and walls are filled with tattoo flash, skateboard decks, and custom-made pieces by local artists-slash-customers, alongside vintage barbershop memorabilia.
“A lot of us are just normal punk rock dudes. We ride motorcycles, we grew up skating and going to shows, and we aren’t going to change that because we cut hair.”
Proper’s mix of old-school dapperness and modern-day punk sensibilities is clearly an equation for success. And other brands have taken notice, with successful collaborations from brands Rebel 8 and Filtrate Eyewear resulting in custom shop towels, t-shirts, sunglasses and beyond. The Rebel 8 collaboration was one in particular that struck the Proper’s humble owners. “My business partner and I have been fans of [Rebel 8] for so long, that for us to now get the opportunity to actually do a shirt with them is kind of a dream come true.”
Still, with all their success, Proper claims to stay true to its community-valuing roots. The shop’s employees have come from paths as varied as long-term friendships and clients who were so interested that they started as shop assistants and worked their way up. There’s a certain camaraderie within the shop, where guests face each other, rather than a mirror, and we have a hunch it’s this that really elevates Proper from being a trendy barbershop to being a Class-A destination.
So, what are you waiting for? Mention LA CANVAS during your next cut (first or 100th, whichever it may be) by Vinnie and the Proper crew and receive it all for $20.00. We think that’s a pretty stellar deal.
Get in touch with them here.
This past Sunday, we experienced some unusually gloomy weather in LA. In times like those, I decide to sit by the pool and crank up my iPod, loaded with tracks that I hope will transport me to the sunny state of mind that we Southern Californians are much more accustomed to. “Ride Your Heart,” the debut LP from LA-based Bleached, made for the perfect accompaniment. The band’s tunes are odes to soul-searching, relationships and the heartache that often follows, dressed as cheerful, sun-soaked post-punk.
We catch up with Jessica Clavin, who, together with sister Jennifer, lead the band. If their names sound familiar, it’s because the Clavins once were members of the now-defunct and well-loved punk band, Mika Miko. Jessica talks to us about Bleached‘s new release, and some of her favorite things to do in LA.
LAC: With the new release of “Ride Your Heart”, what do you see as the message of the album? Any particular meaning behind the name?
J: When I was trying to figure out the name for the album, I wanted something that made sense with all of the songs as a whole, and a lot of the song are love songs about falling in and out of love, figuring yourself out. So “Ride Your Heart” was one of the names of the songs, and I just kept going back to it, being like, “that really makes a lot of sense” because Ride Your Heart kind of means fall in love whenever you can or whenever you do, just go with it, its a ride, hah.
LAC: The album seems like a collection of love anthems, or a soundtrack for a Californian summer. Would you agree with that?
J: Yeah, totally. A lot of them were written when I was going through a time when I was really depressed, and going through a break up. So I like how it’s kind of a “timepiece.” I was in California writing the songs, and actually at that point I just got back to California from living in New York and going through that break up there.
LAC: The production of the album is definitely a lot less “loud” than your singles like “Electric Chair” and “Think of You.” Any particular reason for the change?
J: Not really, it’s just [the product] of working with the demos, experimenting a little bit more. I think with the first songs, we just wrote them, then recorded them in a day, and then with the songs in “Ride Your Heart,” we had more time to work on them, more of a budget, and a bigger studio and stuff. Also, I think just growing as musicians helped grow the songs into what they are now.
Also, I don’t really know what the future holds with more songs; who knows it may even go back to sounding more like songs like “Electric Chair”, but I don’t think we would go back to songs like “Dazed” and “No Friend Of Mine” because those are super lo-fi, but I like how that was early stuff, so it’s definitely cool.
LAC: With summer festival season starting, do you have any big plans to play any upcoming festivals both in and outside of LA?
J: We have a few festivals we are playing. A week after the Troubadour we go to Europe, and I know we are playing a bunch of festivals over there, which I’m really excited about. After that, I know we are playing a festival in LA, and one in Colorado, and another in Seattle. I’m really excited about playing these because festivals are my favorite.
LAC: We did an interview with you guys back when LA CANVAS was still in its fledgling stages, how would you say things have changed since then?
J: It’s funny, then we didn’t have a full length at all, but we had the 7″. We didn’t have any idea as to what the full length was going to even sound like, because we only had a bunch of demos at that point. Now though, I’m really happy we have a full length out. I feel like our shows are more fun because people know more of the songs.
LAC: It helps when the crowd can sing along huh?
J: Yeah! Exactly, before we would play and people would sing along to the singles, and then we would play the new stuff and no one would really know it, and now I think people are getting really excited for stuff from the new record. That’s the best part.
LAC: Being that you guys currently live in Los Angeles, what would you say are some of your favorite spots to check out? Favorite bar, restaurant, coffee shop etc.
J: There’re so many things I like to do, but it’s funny that you bring this up now because we will be home today. All I keep thinking about is the first thing I want to do when I get back to LA. I think, first, I really want to go on a hike. I live pretty close to the Hollywood Resevoir. As for food though, there are so many good places. I’m trying to decide between Señor Fish, which is Mexican food, and they have the best potato tacos. Have you ever heard of Spitz?
LAC: Yeah, I live right by the one in Los Feliz. Falafel and shwarma?
J: Yeah! It’s really good, the sandwiches especially. Also, the sweet potato fries are the best.
LAC: So for our readers, you’d recommend those two spots?
J: Yeah, totally. There’s also this place called Cafe 101 that is really cool. It’s this old diner, and there’re usually celebrities there.
UK Singer/Producer Lyla Foy (A.K.A WALL) has likely popped up on your music radar as of late. After a killer series of sold-out shows opening for Los Angeles-based Local Natives in Europe, WALL has built nothing but buzz for her US debut. Her newest single “Shoestring” off her self-titled EP expresses a talented lyricist’s quiet side. Vaguely reminiscent of Au Revoir Simone’s space-age lounge sounds, Foy’s sleepy instrumentals and lyrics that read like poetry invite the listener to just drift away into the music.
Eerie, fragile vocals add another unique brick in the “wall” of dream-pop artists that have been taking the music community by storm over the past year. WALL leaves nothing but an impression of what is to come in the future, and the future is looking fairly bright. LA CANVAS had a chance to get one-on-one with Lyla whilst she finished off a leg of European show dates, in preparation for her performances on 3/8 at The Bootleg and 3/11 at The Echo with March Monday Night Residents Harriet.
Listen to the new single “Shoestring” here.
As you are from the UK, how does it feel to have your music now overseas in the states?
It feels amazing, it’s a dream to be travelling to the US. I’m especially excited about LA as I thought I’d never been there. But my Mum just informed me we did visit when I was eight years old. I have a terrible memory.
Do you produce all the tracks yourself? Or do you have other collaborators you work with?
It’s a pretty solitary operation at the moment, although I can work with people on the music-side. When it comes to lyrics and melodies though, no one’s allowed in. Beginning WALL for me was trying something new, not thinking about a band or how I’d play live. Just letting the songs do what they want and be how they want. Then when I had to prepare a live show it was a bit overwhelming, but it’s fun too. There are three of us in the band and we all swap instruments a lot, it may look like we’re just making things complicated, but it’s the only way we can play the tunes.
What would you say is your process? Do you have a ritual of sorts?
My writing process at the moment is really simple. I do like writing in the evening, so a glass of wine is essential, of course! I normally start with a bass line and then my vocals and melodies, and just layer everything up around that. Keeping things as sparse as possible is important so the lyrics stand out. For me, that’s the most important thing.
Having been on tour supporting Local Natives, a local Los Angeles band, do you find a good connection between their fans and fans of your music?
Yeah. I mean we’re pretty different bands, but I think their fans cross over well. Local Natives are all about the songs, and so are we. We’re having a blast with them, they’re such lovely guys.
With your EP officially dropping in April and an ongoing tour before-hand, where do you think WALL will go from here? Is there a full length in the works?
I’m working on the full length at the moment, and when this tour is over I’ll be back to the studio to finish things off. But I’m not in any rush to release an album quite yet, when it’s ready it’s ready. After the EP drops there will be a summer single and hopefully some more touring in the autumn.
Being a fan of classic pop myself, any particular reason behind choosing to cover the Supremes “Where Did Our Love Go”? Should fans of that particular cover look forward to any more classics coming their way?
I love the Supremes, and that tune is my favourite. I didn’t set out to do loads of covers, but I really enjoyed re-working “Where Did Our Love Go” and giving it a different feel. I also did a Karen Dalton cover which I actually love performing live—it’s intense. Yes, I really want to do another cover soon, I’m just trying to decide which song to ruin next.
If you can, name your favorite musical inspiration, could be anything, band, record, parents, dog, food stand…you name it.
The 70s. With all the art around that time and all the change that was going on, it’s no wonder so many beautiful records came out of that decade. I only wish I’d been around then…. but hopefully by absorbing all the music I can re-live it somehow.
Do you plan on going to SXSW? If so, where can our readers check out your performances?
Yes we will be at SXSW! We’re playing six shows, some are day parties but our official showcases are:
3/14 – Latitude 30 – 8pm
3/16 – Central Presbyterian Church – 9pm
What’s something you are looking forward to doing while in LA?
I’m really hoping the weather will be good and we can hit the beach on our day off. That’s just not something we get to do in the UK very often. I guess we’ll need some tips!
You can catch WALL at the Bootleg Theatre on 3/8 with Joshua James, as well as 3/11 at The Echo with Harriet during their free March residency.
This past weekend we had the chance to get an exclusive ride-along with the crew behind the MINI Normal Crashing Tour. For their most recent stunt, MINI recruited Detroit indie-rock duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr to perform out of a cup-up MINI Cooper convertible.
During a typical concert you may walk into a venue, order yourself a the finest frosty glass of PBR, and direct your attention towards the stage. In the case of MINI however, they like to do things a little…abnormally.
With the help of music blog RCRD LBL, MINI has produced a series of shows which take place in “Not Normal” locations throughout the U.S; Kicking off the tour in Chicago, IL with a performance by Twin Shadow inside a run down furniture store in the heart of Wicker Park (the Silverlake of CHicago).
For the final leg of the tour MINI decided to go all out and do something that at least I have never seen done before: have a band play in a moving vehicle. Of course our first thought here at LA CANVAS was, how? especially in a MINI cooper?
I’ve seen bands play out of buses, which usually have a enough space to set up a drum kit and amps, but a MINI? I own a MINI Cooper myself and I can’t imagine having any more than 1-3 other people in the car, and that alone takes up all of the room, but leave it to the auto designers to come up with a wild concept for the Dale Earnhard Jr. Jr. guys.
MINI took their coveted 2013 Cooper S convertible model, got rid of almost all but the driver’s seat, and built a custom set-up just for the band. Of course you had your typical add on’s, you know, the must-haves: bluetooth accessibility leather interior, chrome accents, spots package, the works. Yet, this particular model was rigged with a specially designed keyboard station, complete with synthesizers, a microphone, and a shnazzy leather stool allowing access to a guitar amp that had been built into the car. As well, the car was outfitted with a full set of speakers, creating a sound blast radius that could definitely be heard in any angle around the vehicle (take that bass-bumping low-riders!).
After the show, we had a chance to have a quick chat with Dale Earnhard Jr. Jr.’s own Josh Epstein about the experience:
LAC: How did MINI approach you with the opportunity to play the Normal Crashers Tour? Did they let you know what you were getting yourselves into?
JE: They told us about the idea, and who could refuse riding around in Mini cut up like an El Camino, playing songs on loud speakers?
LAC:Were you able to have any say in how your performance space on the car was to be designed?
JE: We weren’t consulted. Perhaps they had been warned of our overly ambitious design history? We probably would have come up with 100 ideas that would have been rejected anyhow.
LAC: Was there a particular reason behind the choice of your song “Vocal Chords” to be the featured track while playing in the moving car?
JE: That was the song that Mini picked. We would have enjoyed playing any of them, but that one ended up being really fun. Good choice, Mini.
LAC: I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band playing out of a moving car, how did that feel, and did you have any difficulties while cruising at…let’s say 30 MPH on the US 101?
JE: It felt like being on a ride at Disney World. But there was no line to wait in before hand so it was better.
LAC: With the release of It’s A Corporate World in 2011, what does the band have on the horizon for 2013?
JE: A new EP, a new LP and much touring
LAC: While you guys were in LA, what would you say is your favorite spot that is a “must-visit” before you leave town?
JE: We typically find ourselves at the 101 cafe for apple pie a la mode after we finish a show. I guess that has become a “thing.”
Stay tuned for our exclusive video capturing the performance on LAC TV. Keep an eye out on whats happening in the world of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. right here and keep up with MINI and everything “Not Normal” here.
By now, you’re probably well versed in the art of trouble-making. You know how to shot-gun beers in under ten seconds, covertly slap subversive stickers onto innocent street signs, and give the finger when it matters most (like when you’re getting your head-shot taken, obviously).
But whatever level of hooliganary you’re operating at, it probably cannot compare to the antics of LA punk band FIDLAR (an acronym for Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk).
What we have here is a rowdy group of guys who have been chronicling their hard-partying behavior via song for a couple of years now, and by the looks of it, they have no intention of leaving the fast lane and taking up crochet any time soon.
Most recently, you may remember FIDLAR opening up this past summer’s FYF Fest, or you may have heard about their personal rendition of “Oh What a Night” at the Cha Cha Lounge in Silver Lake.
And now, on January 22nd, with the help of Mom + Pop/Wichita Recordings, FIDLAR are finally releasing their first self-titled full length LP, featuring some oldies but goodies and some new tracks to tickle your fancy. The album best laptops for college students under 500probably contains your party anthem for 2013, with uplifting tracks like “Stoked and Broke,” and the procedural classic to rival Gym/Tan/Laundry, “Wake Bake Skate.” Here at the LA CANVAS studio, we’ve been favoring the band’s latest single “Cheap Beer.” Being natty-light drinkers ourselves, we can appreciate the message.
Snag a free download of our favorite tune here:
If you are still looking for a good way to celebrate the upcoming day of the apocalypse, we would like to bring to your attention something the Mayans may have not predicted. The Sacred Bones 5 Year Anniversary Party, happening this Friday at Pappy and Harriets in Pioneertown (yup, it’s in the desert). In case you haven’t heard of Brooklyn-based record label Sacred Bones, they’re the ones responsible for bringing us acts like Zola Jesus, Psychic Ills, Lust of Youth and more, and for one night, they are pulling out all the big guns in their arsenal. For this special event you can enjoy music from the above as well as performances by Pop. 1280, Var, and Lust of Youth. As well, Sacred Bones created a special edition LP, only available at the show.
Fresh off the release of their third studio album Unpatterns, English electro duo Simian Mobile Disco stopped over in LA this past weekend to headline FYF fest for the second year in a row. LA CANVAS sat down with member Jas Shaw to talk about the band’s evolution, the new album, and how to perform electronic music live.
MAX: Your new album Unpatterns is very different from Attack Decay Sustain Release. How would describe your transition from DJ/Club music to the roots of ambient, electronic house music?
JAS: I think that’s a pretty good description. I think it reflects our journey into electronic music. You can hear in Attack Decay that we were just coming out of being a band, and that whole scene of bands playing in clubs, and all of that kind of stuff which we take completely for granted now. But at the time even djing in venues afterwards there were no decks”
When we were touring as Simian, we would be like “oh lets have an after party somewhere” and they actually wouldn’t have 12/10s (turntables) there. Now every club in the world knows to have them. I guess you can hear that, in that record and we kind of felt we went too far with vocalists on “Temporary Pleasure.” With this record, we were super selfish with it, and think it reflects a lot of the stuff we listen to at the moment, and also a lot of stuff that got us into electronic music. A real gateway into “proper electronic music.”
MAX: So this is the second time you’re playing FYF, right?
JAS: Yes, hah we love it! We played it for the first time last year, and we were really excited that they asked us. Sometimes, because of the band that we are, we kind of don’t obviously fit here, as a lot of the bands are actually punk bands. We are really into that kind of stuff, so we were really pleased to be booked for it. We had a really nice time, and when they asked us to come back it was a no brainer, we said we would definitely do it.”
MAX: Also you guys have a very interesting light show, somewhat reminiscent of your music videos. Will there be one for tonight’s show? Any surprises you have in store?
JAS: Actually we have a new light show for tonight’s performance that we haven’t even seen. I mean we have seen it in production, because we are only coming out for one show. We said, okay, maybe we can find someone local to do it, because we couldn’t bring our lights over because they are so heavy, flying out would’ve been insane. So we have been talking to the local company, going back and forth with ideas. We were hoping to see it last night, but we came in late to check all of our gear, and it wasn’t ready, so everybody has been asking.
There’s something I kind of like about that, it’s going to be interesting. It won’t be smooth, and there will be some screw ups, but I honestly think that a lot of electronic shows I’ve seen that are flawless become decreasingly interesting. Honestly if there are some fuck ups, we will just be like “sorry, we will get back on it now.”
MAX : So the screw ups make it more unique then?
JAS: They make it HUMAN, which is one of the things I think is essential and often missing in electronic music. It doesn’t necessarily need to be human in terms of there needing to be a voice, but there needs to be room for error, room for good things to happen. The worst possible situation is you press GO, and it runs smoothly, and it’s the same EVERY night. No one wants that.
MAX : So you guys will be at the forefront of doing that?
JAS: I don’t know if anyone else will do it if we make a mess of it, but if you see the system that we have, it’s all happening live. There’s a lot of room to play well or badly, and there’s a lot of room for us to jam and take things based on how we feel the crowd is reacting, and how we feel actually.
With all of those things, I feel like a good live show should be a collision of how we are feeling, how the gear works, who else is playing during the night, and how the crowd reacts. Even to a certain extent, paying attention to the kind of PA you are playing on. If you are playing on a PA that is very “subby,” like particularly if you are playing a warehouse party, you can get away with playing really minimally. But at a venue like this, we will probably play more vocals, because it’s kind of a rock show. It doesn’t have the same pressure here that it would in a room, like the physicality of it.
All of those things, without really considering them, inform how the set goes, which I think is the nature of a live show. There are things that we have not worked out yet, but at the end of it, you are kind of nervous. You should feel a bit nervous before you go on.
MAX: How many times have you been to LA?
JAS: Quite a lot actually.
MAX: So what’s a typical day in LA for you when you’re not working?
JAS: You know, I feel like I haven’t spent very much time in LA. Every time I’ve come to LA it’s always been to play. And usually you arrive feeling pretty ropey, for one reason or another, in the afternoon, and then you leave at night. For example, I leave tomorrow at noon, I’m sure I will be going back to the hotel. But, one of the things I really want to do more is go out to the places where people actually live.
We always end up staying Downtown, or in Hollywood. We went over to visit a friend who lives in Silver Lake, and all of a sudden I was like, okay, this seems like the kind of place where people actually live.