Los Angeles based experimental rock group Mothers of Gut are gearing up to release a new album this June 4th in Buildings. Following up on the full length LP with Family Time Records, Unking (2011), Buildings is a step forward into technical and creative states of bliss, where a prowess of musical pedigree is bridged with the infectious sense of pop sheeted in an endless array of color and texture. The layering is superb, resulting in a canvas of sound that is dense beyond measure. Psychedelic guitar work, complex note configurations, mind blowing drum work and texture filled surreal moments creates an overall dynamic through Buildings that is reflective of the best progressive rock music of the 90′ and beyond. Mothers of Gut are streaming the album in full via Bandcamp and are scheduled to perform with the illustrious Corima on the day before the record release (June 3rd). The first 10 people to show up will get a free copy of Buildings. This is one of those albums we will be playing for years to come, stream the record below.
Created in 2001, Important Records has become a staple for experimental music from artists all over the globe, bridging worlds together that is all their own. They have created this bridge with consistency in the amount of releases launched every year and are now launching a series of podcast music mixes that compile tracks from the labels 300+ albums. 2 months ago, Important Records launched Volume 2 of these mixes and is now finishing up work on Vol 3. In anticipation of the third volume, we are presenting news on Volume 2 for any of those who may have missed out. Enjoy the free stream and be sure to check out the catalog at Important Records webstore. Free download is included here.
From Important Records | http://importantrecords.com/
IMPREC Podcast Number 2 features new, fresh, and upcoming releases from the Important Records catalog. Most of the artists featured have upcoming releases this spring and/or early summer. Enjoy!
Artists featured include:
Sal Mineo (Xiu Xiu & Eugene S Robinson), Gaspar Claus, Holy Sons, Gunter Schickert, Duane Pitre, Total Life, Lawrence English, Deceh, James Blackshaw & Lubomyr Melnyk, and Overhang Party.
The evolution of Life Coach’s musical output with Thrill Jockey Records began with the 2011 self titled solo venture of multi-instrumentalist Phil Manley into 2013′s duo based Alphawaves with world renowned drummer Jon Theodore. Alphawaves is also welcomed by guitarist Isaiah Mitchell who dedicates himself solely to the many high powered solo sections found through out. A strength comes forth that reflects the personalities involved, resting in small areas for atmosphere filled textures that catapult back into the highest states of Bonham style drumming and cerebral mixes of psych and orchestral style melodic layering. Everything is dense but full of separation among one another. The harder edges are balanced by some of the most gentle, delicate and spiritual moments the two have ever recorded in any band, an element that sends it far into another dimension and back. A beautiful psych record that has all the energy of their previous projects along with the lucid dream states that separate it from past works.
Phil Manley composed all of the music for Alphawaves over an extended period, tracking many of the instrumental components before taking it to Isaiah and Jon for further recordings. Performing with Manley over the last 10+ years in various projects, Alphawaves really shows the masterful state of spontaneity and raw skills Theodore unleashes when he is performing with him, laying down his tracks inside the garage of his Malibu home at the very end of the recording process all in single unedited takes. One of just the many astonishing facts about the album when considering how much tone, depth and complexity Theodore adds. The state of joy overcomes everything, showing the companionship and friendship talented musicians can achieve together in the act of constantly expanding their approach to music. Every beat is perfectly sub-divided around the multitude of guitars, bass, keys and sparse vocal sections, a communication that stays constant from the beginning of the album to the end. Manley presented the material to Theodore as one continuous piece and the results are journey taking, a process of taking in the album that we feel is very critical.
The backdrop of middle eastern drones resonates into the mix with sublime affect on the opening track “Sunrise”, starting Alphawaves’s off with a very emotional voyage into the delicate regions of music. The drums are used for color, not rhythms, tracing the ambient nature of the music to surreal levels. It sets the album up for the high octane energy of the title track. It’s a pop psych sound that glows with an intense fire like nothing else on the album and is a fitting transition from the meditative world the album began on. The guitar layering on “Alphawaves” is mind blowing, showing the technical prowess this album holds in the realm of rock right away. The ending guitar solo’s and rhythm keyboard sections bring forth a homage to legend Jimi Hendrix and his more ethereal work, stretching the limitations of the rhythms for spell binding music. A nostalgic nod to the 90′s then takes place with the acoustic guitar driven “Limitless Possibilities”. Big sounding drums, vocals that roam across the mix with trails of its former phrasing and a pulse that is as dreamy as it is powerful, it takes the body of the LP’s whole into a completely different direction.
Starting with an exploratory intro of minimalistic texture, the energy that explodes out of the “Unto The Known” near the end is a phenomenal and unexpected transition. Atonal and experimentally driven, the color schemes are beautiful and out of this world on this slow moving number. “Fireball” is another high energy driven piece, beginning the second side of the Alphawaves with a gusto that really burns into the album. The quality of the drum tracking is mind blowing and is my favorite take in that department. The end section has one of the most intense states of energy, ripping out note after note over the infectious groove of Theodore. “Life Experience” is a one of a kind number, devoid of percussion and placed with hypnotic singular guitar that is fully laced with affects. Slow building, it contains an energetic spark and buzz from within that slices into the speakers. Very raw, it serves as the perfect introduction to the psych rock power of “Mind’s Eye”. The closing piece “Ohm” is the piece that I connect with the most, ushering in a world that is an expansion to the beginning of the album and really resonates with a mood altering tone. Very spiritual and full of the purest essence, a special vibe overcomes my senses as each layer elevates the emotional gravity to new levels.
Alphawaves is a mood changing album that really pulls you in every direction possible. It’s these kinds of sonic experiences that really capture the way we live as people now and serves as a warming soundtrack to so many different types of experiences. Thrill Jockey has become the main home for Life Coach and the release of Alphawaves honors this relationship very well. One of those records I can’t seem to put down.
Order a copy of the LP, CD or Digital Version by Clicking Here
When talking The Heliocentrics, discussion always turns planetary. As if psych, funk, hip-hop, jazz, and the numerous genres, sub genres, and influences they inhabit were each an earth unto themselves. As if they orbit one another like a united federation of freaky-ass planets, from Sun Ra’s home world of Saturn to Dr. Octagon’s Jupiter, traversed by way of the P-funk Mothership. Given 2007′s debut album, Out There, it’s fair to say The Heliocentrics revel in the interstellar, the sixty-eight minute LP played through like a futurists exotic take on 1960′s space opera.
With unshrouded freshness and a reinventive inner groove, Out There blasted The Heliocentrics forward into much praised work with Ethio-jazz forefather Mulatu Astatke for his 2009′s Inspiration Information, Vol. 3 and then with ethnomusicologist Dr. Lloyd Miller for 2010′s OST. Although these collaborative albums could not come more highly recommended, “Out There” has cemented The UK ensemble as a cosmic link in the unchained history of brave new sound. After six years The Heliocentrics finally release their sophomore LP 13 Degrees of Reality.
Through Stones Throw imprint Now-Again the twenty-one track album is a forty-five minute fractaling trip bullet-ridden with rupturous interludes and hypnotic spans of wrinkling time. The tracks themselves are chaotic bursts of deep cuts that waver around the two to four minute mark save the albums first single and central piece “Wrecking Ball”. This nearly eight minute long track is perhaps the centrifuge where all aural density separates, or more aptly described; it’s a wrecking-ball-sized Foucault pendulum oscillating one true groove throughout its surrounding matter. Its dank effervescence is a meditation fit for Yoda’s swampy exile on planet Dagobah. Yes, when physics collide with Star Wars over a track it can only be The Heliocentrics.
Another key element of the emotional terrain of 13 Degrees of Reality is the feel of the numerous sound clips splintered into the LP. “Feedback (Intro)” alone samples overlapping bits from George W. Bush, Malcolm X, a resoundingly German announcer and what must be a sparse barrage of U.S. military radio chatter. This builds an atmosphere which is pulled into bassist Jake Ferguson and guitarist Adrian Owusu’s twin electric churn. On the other side of the track Ethnicity’s krautrock fueled break beat (provided by Malcolm Catto) rants William Burroughs and later Langston Hughes issues an echoed warning. These clips offer a conspiratory paranoia from which the album attempts to ascend, musical form and sense rise from this chaos.
It’s a form that coalesces in the extrinsic flutes of Jack Yglesias on “Collateral Damage”, the free jazz keys of “Ollie Parfitt” and the theremin of Tom Hodges on “Freeness Part 2″. It materialized in the ring mod guitar drone of Mike Burnham in “Wrecking Ball”, in Dan Keane’s haunting cello on “Eastern Begena”, and Shabaka Hutchings bass clarinet. Together a magnetic system of planets rotate and orbit one another.
13 Degrees of Reality introduces new stars into The Heliocentric universe and the gristled western reverb of guitarist Adrian Owusu grows brightest among bandleaders Malcolm Catto and Jake Ferguson. Still, the core of the LP is intrinsically the nonet’s timeless excitement of style. Whatever galaxy these space-gods form, from Out There to 13 Degrees, the same star dust is ubiquitous. For the Helios there is always the same sun at the center. On the outro, “Vibrations of the Fallen Angels”, Owusu’s guitar leads an inspiring psychedelia of Ferguson’s Ethio begena and Catto’s marimbula. It’s the album’s closer but in it the sun is rising.
The Entrance Band founder Guy Blakeslee has released a new series of collage art work under the title Third Eye Memories with an accompanying album of meditative and tranquil guitar based music that transcends ones self into a relaxed and peaceful state. The collage work of Guy Blakeslee has become a new creative outlet or this young visionary and is as fitting, strong and worthwhile as all of the music left behind. The CD and collage packages plus additional items from Blakeslee can be purchased here. Very minimal, exotic and pure, both the art and music for Third Eye Memories is a satisfying experience, making it a project we really love and appreciate. From Blakeslee: “CD of previously unreleased home recordings… made at home in Idyllwild, San Clemente, and Los Angeles, California from 2010 to 2012.. Edited and mixed in 2013… A mostly instrumental odyssey for the purpose of meditation or self-hypnosis.. Perfect for drawing or writing or for providing a soundtrack to a silent experimental film… Each package contains an original handmade collage and other ephemera by the artist including a personal typewritten letter..”
All images from http://prayerofdeath.tumblr.com/
Lord Quas aka Quasimoto has come out of hiatus in 2013 for the arrival of a new full length Yessir Whatever, scheduled to release in June. As the alter ego of prolific Los Angeles based producer Madlib, Quasimoto has remained an enigma in hip hop, becoming a singular voice that has remained its own thing. The most abstract and crazy worlds of hip hop emerge and the standard has never changed in the high pitch lyrical abstractions of Madlib under the Lord Quas moniker. The LP version of Yessir Whatever will come with a bonus 45 and has been an anticipated follow up to . Both CD and LP versions come with a special peel off sticker revealing Quasimoto’s guts. Sourced from material over the last 12 years or so, this is in our list of most anticipated releases of 2013. Pre-order a copy directly from Stones Throw Records by Clicking Here. Check out “Planned Attack” below, the first track to release from the new album Yessir Whatever. The beat is immaculate, making room for a minimal kick and snare 90′s style head nodding anthem with a beautiful Jeru The Damaja sample. Quasimoto is back.
From Stones Throw Records
Quasimoto first came to life on Madlib’s personal beat tapes in the producer’s early years in Oxnard CA – private music, not meant for release, made for himself and a small circle of local smokers and their car stereos.
By the time of Quasimoto’s debut The Unseen, most had caught on to the fact that Madlib and Quasimoto were one in the same. The MC as artistic alter ego, like a talking dummy from surreal rap vaudeville. Quasimoto is usually the “bad character,” doing and saying what the producer doesn’t, with Madlib along side as a noncommittal collaborator. The Unseen (Stones Throw, 2000) was among the new decade’s first sleeper hits, ranking on Spin’s year end list at a time when the producer and label were unknown outside hip-hop DJ circles.
After a subsequent journey through jazz production and now-legendary collaborations with MF DOOM & J Dilla, Madlib called on Quasimoto again for The Further Adventures of Lord Quas. The album played something like a smoked-out comedy/crime Blaxploitation flick, and continued to build Madlib’s reputation as one of the most creative and fearlessly skewed creators in hip-hop.
As for Quasimoto – usually represented by pen & ink with brick in hand – he has been many things over the years: rapper, cartoon, the poor-man’s Gorillaz, a toy, bad tattoo, internet meme. To all this Lord Quas might say, yessir … whatever. It’s all about the music.
Yessir Whatever collects 12-tracks made by Madlib and Quasimoto over a roughly 12-year period. A few were released on rare & out-of-print vinyl, while a few others are previously unreleased, now mixed and mastered for the first time. Take two & pass. Yessir … whatever.
Artwork by Jeff Jank. Mastered by Dave Cooley.
Experimental fusion duo Date Palms have taken a leap of faith for their third full length album scheduled to released with Thrill Jockey Records this June. For the fist time in their career the group has opened their doors to musical colleagues, enlisting the duties of Michael Elrod, Ben Bracken and Noah Philips to further enhance the Date Palms vision with their latest offering. The third release from Date Palms is titled The Dusted Sessions and is seeing its first glance into the public this week with a single premiere of the ending of side A, “Yuba Reprise”. There is a very mystic and spiritual tone embedded, featuring structures and instrumentation from the east and west that rise in aura beautifully. A celestial affair that was shocking in the best of ways upon first listen. It’s a song I can’t stop playing over and over. Sounds for the soul.
From Thrill Jockey Records | http://www.thrilljockey.com/
Date Palms is the Oakland-based core duo of Gregg Kowalsky and Marielle Jakobsons, joined on this album by Michael Elrod (who has also played with Barn Owl and Life Coach) on tampura, Ben Bracken on bass, and Noah Philips on electric guitar. Date Palms uses the sound and imagery of the dustbowl and the American West to express something truly cosmic and unique within the already highly individualistic Bay Area underground. “Yuba Reprise” closes the first side of the album and reflects on a trip Kowalsky and Jakobsons took to the Yuba River in rural California.<
Long Beach, CA’s Free Moral Agents have remained a solid unit for a decade now, creating a dreamy experimental pop sound that has been consistently infectious and beautiful. The live shows are in every way memorable and you can feel the emotion pouring out on stage and in their records through every moment. Taking a break from releasing material for the last few years, 2010′s Control This still remains an influential album that gets active rotation in our listening sessions. Gearing to release the Chaine Infinie EP on the 16th of this month with Neurotic Yell Records, home to one of our favorite groups Swahili Blonde, the first single and official music video has been released this week for the title track “Chaine Infinie”. The hypnotic backdrop of sitar is present on this number from Ruben Villalobos, a mesmerizing feature to the transfixing state of the music from FMA. This is a highly anticipated release that features Prefuse 73 and Flying Lotus collaborator Niki Randa and was recorded in the groups region of Long Beach. The Bandcamp page has 40 second preview clips available along with the full audio stream of ”Chaine Infinie”. FMA has remained one of the best groups around and this new video is a really powerful beginning to the Chaine Infinie EP.
Pre-order a copy from Neurotic Yell Records by Clicking Here
FMA play this Wednesday @ The Commonwealth Lounge in Fullerton (112 E. Commonwealth Ave). Starts @ 10pm. 21+
French violinist Louis Warynski has been going under the moniker Chapelier Fou over the last few years and has released a pair of the most forward thinking experimental neo-classical records in the 21st century. A visionary in digital and acoustic realms, his talents have been brought into the team at the long standing independent label in France, Ici d’ailleurs. Dimlite is an artist of equal creative ingenuity as Chapelier Fou. His body of work has become generation defining and it feels like he has just begun in his stages of musical growth. His talents in the digital realm are just as exploratory and technical as anything in the acoustic. Dimlite was called upon for remix work on the track “Protest” from Chapelier Fou’s latest full length Invisible and the results are breathtaking and satisfying. A beautiful array of vocal harmonizing introduces the remix with a surrealistic growth of tones that builds over it. The mix is much more spacious than the original and breaths full of wondrous types of color and life. The string instrumentation is elegant and singular, standing out with a sense of independence that allows the electronica elements of Dimlite’s sound to really flourish. The track crawls slowly out of its shell as the music builds in intensity, resulting in mantra layers of horns and percussion climaxes by the time the song is fully layered. I love how alive the synthetic components feel in this piece, especially as the natural elements dominate the emotional weight. A state of duality between the electric and acoustic worlds of creation from two visionaries who are masters at their craft. One of the best remixes I have heard all year.
Listen to the track below and stay up to date with the imprint Ici d’ailleurs as this remix will be released with the label in the future.
For the past four years the band have been conducting parapsychological experiments based upon the classic Ganzfeld (“total field”) experiment, but with a twist: instead of sending and receiving simple graphic patterns, test subjects were put into a state of sensory deprivation by covering their eyes and listening to white noise on headphones, and then Matmos member Drew Daniel attempted to transmit “the concept of the new Matmos record” directly into their minds. During videotaped psychic experiments conducted at home in Baltimore and at Oxford University, test subjects were asked to describe out loud anything they saw or heard within their minds as Drew attempted transmission. The resulting transcripts became poetic and conceptual scores used by Matmos to generate the nine songs on this album. If a subject hummed something, that became a melody; passing visual images suggested arrangement ideas, instruments, or raw materials for a collage; if a subject described an action, then the band members had to act out that out and make music out of the noises generated in the process of the re-enactment. “The Marriage of True Minds” boasts a promiscuous cast of guest musicians, an array of sonic tactics, and a broad swathe of musical styles, but this diversity is joined together with a common purpose: the translation of this archive of psychic experiments into a delirious hybrid of conceptual noise and electronic pop.. – Thrill Jockey
M. C. (Martin) Schmidt and Drew Daniel, Ph.D. of Matmos have created something very special for modern music with their first full length in five years, The Marriage of True Minds. As mentioned above, the method and process of creation to the album is very unique, relying on modified experiments that would server as the basis for composition to the whole. Conversations the test subjects attributed to these experiments are interwoven into various areas of the music, reflecting the sources of inspiration Matmos ran with for creating the songs. Matmos are always going the extra mile for their releases and have created some of the most unique concept albums in music history. With an unclassifiable sense of achievement through their sonic musings over the years, it’s not hard to believe Matmos are reinventing themselves album after album.
Capturing experimentally unhinged pop music to field recordings sourced from unthinkable destinations, they utilize instrumentation from unusual sources and have results of the same nature. I have given up trying to determine what type of group they are and have given myself to how long the impressions go when I encounter their albums. Releasing their first self titled LP in 1997 on the imprint Vague Terrain, the two have continued to bend different genres and unique sounds into their identity without compromise to artistic integrity. I have learned a lot about the act of listening to music through Matmos and The Marriage of True Minds has become one of their brightest moments in recorded form.
Their signing with Thrill Jockey last year resulted in the full length experimental masterpiece The Marriage of True Minds this year, a record we are absolutely enamored with when listening from beginning to end. Created out of the momentum and recording process of the groups first release with Thrill Jockey last year in the Ganzfeld EP, The Marriage of True Minds is dense in color and texture, full of surprising wonder through a labyrinth of shape shifting music. There is a wide variety of guests present on the album, extending the musical pallet even further than the places Matmos take things. Nothing is culturally normal about The Marriage of True Minds and that is normal if you have been staying up to date with the duos career since the beginning. It’s a record that leaves me with that feeling of not knowing where to even begin, something I love about the connecting power of loving something without having direct thought out reason for doing so. When something is good you just know it and these leaps of faith have to be taken for the unknowns in this world.
The Marriage of True Minds is the type of album that I feel has to be absorbed with full attention given to every moment. When trying to skip through tracks, pulling out any type of piece to gain a sense of the whole is impossible as every moment is traversing through so many different areas of music growth and decay. There are many moments on the album when abstraction takes full weight and the sense of rhythm is relegated to a state of chaos. When percussion and drum tracking is in place, the atmosphere above it is always breathing outward into every direction like tentacles. With only nine tracks present, every song has a multitude of parts to absorb and process, giving way to many angles of entry. Every track is pleasing and beautiful in the most oddest of ways and has been on repeat for the last 2 months. I could speak about the components of this album for hours and is an album that would take miles of writing to truly represent. This is a highly recommended experimental album from the staff at Sound Colour Vibration.
Order a copy from Thrill Jockey Records by Clicking Here
Video by M.C. Schmidt
Soft Machine are one of the most incredible bands from the transition between 60′s psychedelia and the 70′s fusion movement in the UK. Touring with the Jimi Hendrix Experience opened up their sound to a very different audience in the beginning of 1968 and they would go onto become of the top billed acts in the fusion scene. 1970 was a very important time for the group as they were transitioning heavily into the jazz idiom and had released the pioneering LP Third to critical acclaim. The pristine pro shot footage of the group we are presenting today of Soft Machine performing to a full audience in Paris of 1970 is a defining example of this transition and their greatness. Below is a track listing along with the video, one of the best full concert videos I have ever seen.
2. Robert Wyatt Vocal Improv: 19:17
3. Esther’s Nose Job: 22:18
4. Eamonn Andrews / Backwards: 33:16
5. Out-Bloody-Rageous: 47:00
*Article by Erik Otis
Owner of Bridgetown Records, Kevin Greenspon is a Southern California based musician whose construction of sound is something we really respect and cherish any time we have experienced it live and listen to the albums. Utilizing texture over technique, he creates landscapes of tones that cover the entire spectrum of human emotions and in the most subtle and honest of ways. Where many musicians who create ambient and texture based music look for extremes, Kevin Greenspon reaches for areas of sound that are more common place to the everyday pace of the lives we experience that is in a middle ground where as he mentions, “things just are”.
Kevin Greenspon works relentlessly on the materials for his independent label along with his own path with touring and all the other extensions of music culture he expresses with his platform. We opened up communication with Kevin in the last year or so and knew right away that he was an artists we really wanted to find our more about it in our interview projects. Below is the results of this exchange along with a plethora of media to absorb from Kevin’s catalog. We are also presenting two new premieres from Greenspon today in the tracks “Against Words” and “Betrayed By The Angels”.
*All performance photos of Kevin Greenspon by Sarah Collins
Q&A with Kevin Greenspon of Bridgetown Records
Conducted by Erik Otis
Erik: Hello Kevin, I have been slowly going through the last materials released with your Bridgetown Records imprint and I am very happy to say that we will be following what you are doing very closely in 2013 for reviews. Thank you for your time with this interview and we hope to open up some good dialogue on your new records, your label Bridgetown Records, your thoughts on current music and more. Can you explain your background with music and why you have chosen the type of music you present to the world?
Kevin: I started playing guitar around 1999 and recording a few years after that. I’d try my hand at a lot of different sounds. One thing I remember when I was a teenager, I’d sometimes think about how it’d be interesting to take a brief moment of a guitar note ringing out and imagine that as the basis of a piece of music instead of assembling a series of riffs and repetitions. A single note or chord had all this character in it that was overlooked because song would take precedence over it. But I’d analyze this in a really casual manner, thinking about how the overdrive gives the note a bit of crackle that’s different at every instant, or chorus would have this sound weaving into and out of itself. Any effect or combination would give that single note a multitude of diversity in its character that could fill a space. I didn’t do a lot with this idea at the time besides a few recordings, but it’s sort of stuck with me. These days I’m still pretty interested in blending that notion of how you can put a note, chord or series under the microscope, and apply it to writing and arranging songs that aren’t necessarily traditional, but aren’t clinical science experiments either.
For most of my records, this has been my palette for expressing personal stories in the same way that an acoustic guitar and voice are for a folk singer, or a pen and paper are for a writer. I want to put myself out there and music is a huge outlet for me, but I don’t really consider myself that talented musically. The elementary parts of playing an instrument or producing a recording are at my disposal but getting bogged down in the minutiae of details with instruments, software or equipment doesn’t excite me. The bottom line is that I don’t think that music or any kind of expression is about being technically proficient in the classical sense. It’s important that anyone can do it by any means available to them.
I may make a lot of music that falls under the ambient/experimental/etc. umbrella, but it’s not really for the sake of experimenting, and doing something that’s cutting edge or unique isn’t at the top of my priority list. There are things I want to express and this is the way that feels most comfortable.
Erik: I feel that your music is very spiritual and also visual. With your music, a closing of ones eyes and a nice sound system can create something very surreal and beautiful. Where does your mind go when you are deep in performance and creating the material that eventually ends up on your records? Has music ever given you an out of body experience or any other form of unexplained phenomenon that will stick with you forever?
Kevin: It’s always nice to hear that, it’s really fulfilling when my work is able to help people step out of the moment and take a break from the real world in some manner, especially if it takes them somewhere that is comfortable and relieving. It’s not my main intention to write music that is an escape from the world though. It’s just how some people interpret that, and I’m completely fine with that. It can mean anything they want to them. I’m not really a spiritual person though, so the mental focus is more on summarizing emotions and experiences.
Erik: What types of feelings or emotions do you try to convey the most through your textures of sound?
Kevin: From my perspective, most of my recordings are dominated by a somber or bittersweet emotional theme that I try to translate into the music. It’s a direct representation of what life feels like to me: not quite sad, not quite hopeful. Sometimes I feel like a lot of music or art focuses on extremes. There are so many albums out there that really show how someone fell into a dark and depressing spiral, or is celebrating pure joy. In experimental music, it’s really common to think of harsh noise being a document of utter distaste for one’s own self or their social surroundings, and bliss is often the go-to descriptor for melodic ambient sounds.
We spend a lot of our lives in the middle ground though, and sometimes that gets overlooked. It can’t always be great or terrible. Sometimes, things just are. It’s okay to get carried away with a tiny victory or be unhappy with one’s present situation even if it’s not that bad. Most of my songs are about being bounced around it all. Things always find a way of averaging themselves out. That’s something I’ve always wanted to convey, that though there are moments that sway towards different extremes, it’s all still somewhere in between when you step away and look at the big picture.
Erik: I’d love to hear about your approach to creating music. What type of atmospheres and settings do you prefer when composing your pieces and what are some of the most memorable places you have ever played music at?
Kevin: Ideally, I’d like to be alone for a good while and not have much interaction with others when I’m writing and arranging. Having pressure on me helps too. Probably the most productive times for my music were when I had a lot of weight on my shoulders and important things to do on my own but didn’t have many outlets for personal issues. It’s a lot easier to let it out that way, because there’s no fighting it. It just has to come out. It’s a situation of stress, but one where working on music is the relief, not the other way around. It’s different from having the pressure of having to finish a recording because it has to be done for some reason or another.
Playing songs live is different and comes more naturally to me. You can’t control the situations around you when you’re playing a show but being committed to the songs, what they mean to you, and putting it out there for someone to experience is really fulfilling. Usually by the time I start playing something live, it’s because the song and all its tangents are so familiar. Like when a band locks down a song from playing it together so many times. I get more personal satisfaction out of a show and having the chance to present music in person than sitting for hours working on a song at home and questioning yourself if people will understand what you’re trying to express or find their own meanings in it. You run the risk of someone’s first exposure to you being when they have eight tabs open on their web browser. Hearing something on laptop speakers when you have all this other digital stimuli makes it hard to build a connection.
At a show, it’s all right there on the table. The best feeling comes from playing shows when people find something in what you do that clicks with them. It can happen in any sort of place. I think the most memorable time that happened for me was playing in the Reed College chapel in Portland, Oregon last Spring. It felt like everyone there got something out of it more than I’d ever felt at any other show.
Erik: You are close to a 100 releases out in the world on your imprint. Can you tell me about the full history behind Bridgetown Records formation and where you’d like to continue to see the imprint go?
Kevin: I started Bridgetown a little over five years ago as a means to share music that my friends made. It’s always been the primary outlet for my own solo music as well. It just feels more comfortable making my own releases. Most titles would be in editions ranging from 50-200 copies but ideally it’d be more practical to make larger runs. It’s kind of tough though when production is so hands-on. I’m into making Bridgetown releases look as professional and classy as possible while maintaining a high level of manual labor. I use a razorblade to cut and score all the artwork by hand on big sheets and try to go the extra mile to bring myself as physically close as possible to the music I release. The way I see it, how committed to your releases can you be if you are just having something manufactured at a place without getting involved? Maybe the extra work is unnecessary, but it puts the back catalog in perspective. It shows there is nothing in the label’s discography that I wouldn’t be willing to clock in the hours to make myself. I can count the number of totally manufactured releases on one hand.
In the future I’d like to be able to release titles in larger editions. It’s slowly getting to that point. I handmade over 600 copies of my “Maroon Bells” cassette/CDr and 550 of the “Already Dead” 7″. That’s around the sweet spot I’d like to hit with more titles coming up.
As much as I’ve tried to deny it in the past, digital is the new preferred format for media, so I’m starting to get into that as well. A lot of sold out titles in the back catalog are going to be available online soon.
Erik: What are some of your latest projects that you listen to now and are really happy with the results?
Kevin: I’m so happy with how the songs that are going to be on my next full-length are coming out. They’ve been forming so naturally and without any pressure. They’re just developing at their own pace.
There are also a couple of one-off side projects that aren’t publicly known to be my work that I’m pretty pumped on. Listening to them is kind of a guilty pleasure. Not trying to expose those or the people who have released them though.
Another project I just started is a blog about my U.S. tour last fall. It doesn’t really talk about my own music, but is more about the experiences, feelings, and trivial events. I also include music by lots of people who played or that I met so that readers can check out some new bands they might not have heard about otherwise.
Erik: You are a part of a special community of musicians and other creative people. Who have been your biggest mentors since putting records out? Which people come to mind the most when you think about the inspiration you receive from your peers?
Kevin: All of my friends play a huge role in what inspires me to do this. For the most part, everyone I know is making music, putting on events or running another little label or at least supporting them with heartfelt dedication. This isn’t a casual thing for them, like going to one show a month or getting a CD on occasion. It’s about contributing. So everyone I know, and that they know, they all serve as mentors or influences to me. I think it’s a very interactive thing. You just see what everyone else is doing and know that it’s something you’re a part of and can add to as well. Some of them include Family Time, Lillerne Tape Club, Solid Melts, Rok Lok, Juniper Tree Songs, Folktale, Monorail Trespassing, Hi Shadow, Patient Sounds. There are so many more.
Erik: What releases would you like to talk about that just came out on your label and others and what’s some material we can look forward to in the future?
Kevin: I’m really happy with how the new “Already Dead” 7″ came out. It’s a collaboration with my friend Nicole Kidman [real name Jon Barba] where we’re doing these raw, blown out pop punk songs that were recorded by extremely meager means. The songs and recordings are so raw, confessional, and constantly on the verge of falling apart. We had years to do it but went with these versions where we played everything live into a junk TV set because it captured what we wanted to express so accurately. It’s a drastically different way of materializing the same kind of feelings that are prevalent on my solo works. If I had only one record out, it would be this one because the whole package is this hybrid of so many things I like about underground music all rolled into this weird mongrel… blown out home-taper recording style, emphasis on songs over technical proficiency, hyper-personal subject matter and imagery, crude punk/hardcore-inspired art elements, classy visual design.
It’s how I’ve always wanted to represent my group of friends and world to a stranger using a 45 RPM single.
Future releases on Bridgetown are mostly going to be in the same vein as much of its past: sincere, passionate albums by my friends. Mostly artists that aren’t very well known but are doing something that should be heard by strangers who aren’t afraid of genre restrictions. All the releases are pretty different from each other musically but fit together so well.
Erik: Really looking forward to hearing the new content from the label. Thanks for your time again, cheers.
Upcoming Kevin Greenspon 2013 Tour Dates