Makeup For The Silence

The digital home of music writer Jesse Richman

Makeup For The Silence

Tag: sxsw (Page 1 of 2)

Simple Math 2015: Simple Math Is Dead; Long Live The Gospel According To Saint Me

Simple Math 2015: Simple Math Is Dead; Long Live The Gospel According To Saint Me

Veruca Salt – The Gospel According To Saint Me

In October, a catastrophic hard drive failure cost me my entire iTunes library – more than 85,000 songs collected over just shy of two decades. (Really! I started building my digital library way back in 1996, with live Husker Du bootlegs acquired from online trading communities and handfuls of punk and ska rarities downloaded off of sketchy FTP servers.) It doesn’t seem recoverable, not without a small fortune, and very possibly not with one either. I haven’t quite decided if I intend to try and rebuild or not. The real value of the collection was the stuff that can’t be found online anymore (or ever); the parts I could replace are the parts that it might not be worth replacing rather than just resigning myself to streaming from now on instead of ownership. Fortunately, my life has been far too busy to spend time worrying about, or even contemplating, what to do.

Not that iTunes would have been much use for my tallying this year’s Simple Math anyway – over the last few years, it’s largely become an archive of non-digitally-accessible tracks and a repository of star ratings, something to track what I’ve listened to and whether I’ve liked it, but not how much I’ve listened to it. And the one thing it was most useful for – keeping track of which albums I listened to over the course of the year – fell by the wayside when I ceased to add albums to my library post-crash. Meanwhile, my Spotify “Year In Music” feature didn’t, so far as I can tell, include anything I played offline, and certainly doesn’t include anything I loaded onto my account locally. And my Last.fm, by dint of not scrobbling Spotify plays on mobile, is essentially useless in providing any kind of accurate stats about my listening this year.

Even if I were able to get accurate stats, I’m not entirely sure what I’d find – this year has been one of change and upheaval, and my listening habits have been as chaotic as the rest of my life. The latter half of 2015 saw the bittersweet end of PropertyOfZack; a relocation from the urban hum of New York City to suburban south Florida; a farewell to six years of steady employment and a hello to a whole lot of question marks; and, six weeks ago, the birth of the most beautiful baby boy in the whole world*. Heck, truth be told, I’ve probably listened to more lullabies – played via Lionel’s sleep machine, by way of a decade-old iPod – in the last month than music the rest of the year combined.

The bottom line is that, after a four year run, the yearly tabulation post I’ve been dubbing Simple Math is, for all practical purposes, dead.

That said, Makeup For The Silence has, from the start, been about music and storytelling and the places where those intersect. And if 2015 is the year I stop quantifying the music side of the equation, it is also the perfect year to shine a light on the storytelling I’ve done. While 2015 marked the end of PropertyOfZack, it also saw me making my presence felt more than ever at Alternative Press, as well as opening up new doors at Myspace and the Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. And though things are currently a little to busy to focus on pitching elsewhere, I’m hoping that 2016 sees my writing finding its way into even more new spaces.

But it wasn’t just my reach that grew this year – I think I’m more proud of the writing I did in 2015 than any year prior. So, instead of recapping my musical stats, I thought I’d instead share some of the highlights of my year behind the keyboard. Welcome to The Gospel According To Saint Me. It’s gonna get loud; it’s gonna get heavy.

It Just Isn’t Like The Old Days Anymore – Mayday Parade [Alternative Press Magazine 328 / November 2015]

My first cover story for a national publication would have been the highlight of my year in any year. Mayday Parade, pop-punk’s ultimate play-it-safe band, bucked all expectations by growing darker and more daring at the exact time when most career-minded bands would have dialed back on the Risk-O-Meter. I suppose the jury is still out commercially – though it’s hard to imagine the band’s camp wasn’t disappointed by the precipitous fall-off in album-over-album sales, the band’s first in three outings – but Black Lines is an artistic triumph, and I think I did justice to the story of the album’s genesis.

Sting, Bon Jovi And More Help Celebrate 80 Years Of Overtown Legend Sam Moore [Miami New Times]

Writing for the New Times might not come with the paycheck or the prestige of other publications, but the access it’s granted me to big-name artists from across the pop spectrum is priceless. This year I had the good fortune to chat with everyone from piano-pop legend Ben Folds, to Emily Haines of Canadian indie heavyweights Metric, to up-and-coming tropical house DJ Bakermat. But none topped interviewing Sam Moore, one half of Sam & Dave, the voices behind “Soul Man,” “Hold On, I’m Comin’” and a dozen more hits that defined the sound of Memphis Soul at the turn of the ‘70s. I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, chatting with a member of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame would have been near the top.

Crawling Towards the Sun: The Hush Sound’s Bob Morris Starts Again, Again [PropertyofZack]

It’s easy to forget that 90% of the hot new buzz bands you’ll have served to you on a platter this year will be the ones flipping the metaphorical, and often literal, burgers a decade from now – talent (and, often, fanbase) be damned. Morris is back with a new project, Le Swish, but he’s also got a new outlook on life and some new ideas on where and how music should fit into it. His story isn’t unique, but you might think it was for how rarely it gets told.

SXSW Wrap-Up: These Things Happened. These Things Mattered. [PropertyOfZack]

South By South West is a strange chimaera, a beast of many looks that serves many masters, but it often only gets photographed from its “good” side. Truth is, there’s a lot more than happens at the industry’s yearly bacchanal than the anointment of next big things and the grousing of never-will-bes. There are other stories to be told and, while they’re not sexy, they’re frighteningly easy to find. But when the hype-makers are the ones charged with creating the official record, they develop a nasty habit of only recording what’s hyped. SXSW is so much more than anyone seems to talk about, and it deserves better treatment. With what will be a 3-month-old son, I’ll be missing out on SXSW 2016, but you can be sure my heart will be there, in all the corners the cool kids aren’t.

Andrew W.K. Isn’t Partying Hard Anymore, He’s Got Too Much Else Going On [Myspace]

Conversing with Andrew W.K. was everything I could have imagined it would be; the man is a whip-smart deep thinker and a master of introspection, and better yet, he uses his powers for good. It felt almost criminal to have to edit down Wilkes-Krier’s soliloquies on art, feeling and life into interview-sized snippets.

Start Today: Bad Religion [PropertyofZack]

Bad Religion aren’t only foundational figures in SoCal punk and stalwarts of the current scene, they’re a remarkably consistent machine that’s churned out excellent album after excellent album for more than 30 years. That voluminous output makes their catalog as intimidating as it is deep, and made them the perfect candidates with which to launch our Start Today feature.

Matisyahu Spent The Past Five Years Discovering His True Self [Broward-Palm Beach & Miami New Times]

When your bizarre musical schtick is just a reflection of your unusual real life, what becomes of your career when that life drastically changes? It’s a question to which Matisyahu’s fanbase is still working out the answer, even if the man himself seems more certain than ever of who he’s supposed to be.

10 Things You Should Know About Phoebe Ryan [Myspace]

Pop singer/songwriter Ryan’s star is on the rise, but with only an EP to her name to date, it doesn’t seem that anyone has really plumbed her backstory yet. There’s nothing groundbreaking in our conversation, just some fun and revealing anecdotes that I haven’t seen told elsewhere – and really, isn’t that what this is supposed to be about? Sometimes the workaday pieces are the ones you’re happiest with.

Matter Of Time: A Chroma Q&A With Cartel’s Will Pugh [PropertyOfZack]

I first saw Cartel live in 2004, opening for Brandtson and the Rocket Summer in support of their debut EP. The full length they were writing at the time, Chroma, would top my very first Yearly Top Ten list in 2005. I’ve interviewed Will before, but sitting down with him before the band played that album in full, on occasion of its 10 year anniversary, felt especially significant. What followed was a marvelously candid discussion of not just the album’s stratospheric rise, but the band’s slow and steady descent over the decade that followed – one that’s landed them at a true career crossroads today.

Links to everything else I wrote this year after the cut.

Features:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Live Performance Previews:

Other Music Writing:

If you enjoy these, as always, you can find a complete archive of everything I’ve written on the Clips page.

*every new parent says this about their child. All of them are correct.

SXSW Wrap-Up: These Things Happened. These Things Mattered.

propertyofzack:

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by Jesse Richman

Now that it’s wrapped, I’m not sure what to say about SXSW
2015 that hasn’t already been written about ad
nauseum
by every major music publication. Smaller and less corporate?
Check. Fewer celeb/superstar cameos? Check. Rain-drenched? Soggy-ass check.
Something about Courtney Barnett and/or Halsey? Well, I’m still not entirely
sure whether Courtney is a man or a woman or something else entirely, never
mind what they sound like or if they’re the next big thing, because I didn’t
see them and I’m going on name alone. And the only Halsey I know is Paul
McCartney’s “Admiral.” But uhh, yeah, sure, check. Done. Next.

Read More

I’m back from SXSW and getting back into the groove of things. I’ll have links to all of my content from there posted today, in case you missed any of it. In the meantime, a six hour flight delay led to my writing quite an epic wrap-up of the week. I hope it’s worth your time and, if so, that you might consider passing it around.

POZ SXSW Blog: A Wrap Up, From Us

propertyofzack:

image

Our team is still recovering from South By South West, but we thought it would be great to do a wrap up blog from Jesse Richman, Erik van Rheenen, Ali Killian, and Ashley Aron. We had a great time this year in Austin, and we can’t wait for next year. Check out the wrap up blogs below!

Related Stories:  
POZ SXSW Coverage 

From Jesse Richman:

There’s a debate raging in the blogosphere this week as to whether SXSW has gotten “too big.” It’s actually been a topic of discussion since many years before I made my first trek to Austin. Some people feel that the event should stay small, focus strictly on independent music, and be about discovery. Others believe it should be big, showcasing all that the world of music has to offer, from baby bands to superstars, a celebration of all the things we love and the way that, whether it sounds like rap or country or emo or pop, whether it comes from a major or an indie or a kid in his garage, it all shares a common heart.

Read More

Welp, I’m back from SXSW. (Actually, I’ve been back for a few days, but I guess maybe today is the day I’m mentally back?) I didn’t really have time to keep my socials updated this year, so below are links to all of my content. There will be one more playlist, of new SXSW finds, running presumably this weekend, and then eventually all of the fifteen interviews I conducted down in Austin will run as well. As always, if you keep your eye on the Clips Page, I’ll keep it current with whatever’s new, and I’m sure I’ll be tweeting and Facebooking about it as well.

My SXSW:

SXSW Must-See Showcases (3/10/14)

SXSW Survival Guide (3/11/14)

SXSW: Calm Before The Storm Playlist (3/12/14)

SXSW Day 2 Recap (3/12/14)

SXSW Day 3 Recap (3/13/14)

SXSW Day 4 Recap (3/14/14)

SXSW Day 5 Recap (3/15/14)

SXSW Day 6 Recap (3/16/14)

SXSW Wrap-Up (3/20/14)

EDIT: Here’s that post-SXSW Playlist (3/25/14)

#7 Album of 2013 – The 1975 – The 1975

#7 – THE 1975 – THE 1975 [spotify]

(feat. track – “Settle Down” [spotify])

There was a lot of talk around this year’s South By Southwest as to whether, given the ever-increasing corporate spending and the continuing presence of attention vampires big name superstars, the music festival was relevant anymore as an avenue for breaking new bands. I don’t think that one piece of anecdotal evidence is any sort of proof one way or the other, but speaking from my own experience, nobody had a more deafening buzz last year than The 1975, and all those buzzers were right. (Naturally I didn’t manage to actually catch the band there).

The 1975 tickles all of my sweet spots – big memorable pop melodies tempered by splashes of pathos; vaguely danceable mid-tempo grooves; a distinctively-yet-not-annoyingly-voiced singer; little production quirks that act like tiny beacons for anticipation each time I hit replay; smoove 80’s sax. (Let’s be honest, everyone loves a little smoove 80’s sax.) It’s the sound of Blue era Stephan Jenkins, just returned from a short English holiday, soundtracking a John Hughes movie.

If that all sounds a bit kludgy and roundabout, well: it is. The 1975 is a composite, a collage. It’s the borrowed bits and reconfigured parts of other bands. Each constituent piece remains easily identifiable – a U2 chime in one of Adam Hamm’s guitar leads here; a Peter Gabriel cadence in Matthew Healy’s vocal there – but the thing as a whole feels like something new. Taking all the best bits of different bands and smashing them together shouldn’t work this well, but The 1975 are those guys with the moving van, the ones that somehow Tetris all your stuff so that it fits in a space half as big as it should need – through what seems like magic and luck but is clearly really skill, the end product is seamless and efficient. You can question the artfulness of the result, sure, but it’s hard to deny the artfulness of the process.

The outcome is an album that’s easy to like on first listen but doesn’t go stale with age. It’s a bit overlong, sure, but I seem to pick a new favorite flourish up each time i give i a go. Sometimes I get the nagging suspicion that, just maybe, I should feel guilty about loving something so precisely calculated; ultimately, though, I just want to celebrate that all those calculations check out. The 1975 adds up so well.

SXSW Lost Interview IV – The Venetia Fair

In what proved to be the most hilariously bizarre interview I’ve ever conducted, I chatted with zany post-hardcore mashers The Venetia Fair in between showcases at this year’s SXSW. Within, the band discusses how Macklemore stole their song, declare all-out war on Twenty One Pilots, and throw around just about every slang term for “semen” you’ve ever heard (and a few you haven’t). Some things are better heard than read, so rather than transcribe this one, here’s the original interview audio.

SXSW Lost Interview III – Life After Liftoff

Another interview from this year’s SXSW that never made it into print, this one with Ohio-based “alien pop-punk” outfit Life After Liftoff. Apologies to the band for the names I have most certainly gotten wrong – one of the downsides of chatting with a full band is that it’s often really tough to tell who’s talking on the recording afterwards. Lee’s is the only voice I’m entirely certain about here; I did my best with the remainder. C’est la vie!

Adam: We’re really bad at this.
That’s all right! Honestly, I was not prepared for this one at all.
Group:Yay! Oh good!  Perfect!
Your publicist didn’t tell me I was talking to you until like five minutes ago, so I have no questions prepped or anything. But it’s alright!

So to start out, let me just get all your names.
Lee: My name’s Lee Weiss, I sing and play guitar in Life After Liftoff.
Ryan: My name’s Ryan Chatterton, I play guitar, keyboard, and sing. Yeah.
Adam: My name’s Adam [Bostick], I play drums.
Jason: Jason [Sigritz], I play bass and sing and stuff.

So how’s SXSW going for you guys so far?
Ryan: It’s like a big, crazy circus of fun.
Lee: It’s rad!
Have you played your first showcase yet?
Lee: No! Ten o’clock tonight!
How many shows are you doing while you’re here?
Lee: Just this one.
Just the one? Really?
Lee: Yeah, this is a limited engagement man! We were actually on tour all of February, and we hit Austin two or three weeks ago, so to be back and be playing SXSW, it’s a blessing.
Adam: We’re happy to be back.
Was it on your way to anywhere?
Lee: No! We had gone back to Ohio, and then as soon as we got back we got the call, “hey you guys are playing our showcase.”
Adam: We found out last Thursday that we were playing. He [Lee] was coming anyway, so we just went ahead.

So are you going to hang out and catch some bands while you’re down here?
Lee: I was already planning on being down here, so I was here Monday. The guys came in last night. The band is going to be here roughly 48 hours total, and I’ll be here through the rest of the week.
Ryan: We were watching bands all day today, and I’m sure after tonight we’ll catch one or two more.
Who did you see that was good?
Ryan: We just saw The Dangerous Summer.
Lee: I was at MC Lars last night, he ruled.
Oh you were over there? I was over there too.
Lee: Nice man! He was really good.
He was doing that, all-different-backing-tracks stuff.
Lee: Exactly. Caught the Venetia Fair last night, they rule…
I was over there too! I feel like I should recognize you now!
Lee: Stoked to see Butch Walker. Fall Out Boy is doing a show. Green Day…
Is that confirmed, Fall Out Boy?
Lee: Yeah, they’re doing two showcases, one for Perez Hilton and one for Crush Management.
Ah, I had heard rumors about the Crush one. Didn’t know they were doing Perez’s.
Lee: I’m stoked to see them, for sure.

So tell me about your band.
Lee: I call it “alien pop-punk.” It’s a very harmonious mixture of early 2000’s pop-punk and punk rock music with a modern twist. And we’re a very positive band, we try to… while all the bands right now are kind of heavy and going in that direction, we’re staying pretty true to what we do, and we’re happy with it. We’re fun. You can dance to us. Or get naked. Whatever.
Ryan: That escalated quickly.
Lee: It did!

Alright. I don’t even know what your album situation is right now… This is the worst interview ever!
Ryan: No no, it’s cool. I can just tell you all… no I’m just kidding.
Lee: PropertyOfZack actually streamed our second single from our first EP that we released about two years ago, called “The Promise”. We released an EP back in 2011 called Memory Of You. We did a follow-up EP in 2012 called Brand New Life. We just finished our first US tour for Brand New Life, and we’re getting ready to release our first full-length album called Everything Is You with Tyler Smith of dangerkids. And we’re already starting to work on the second record at this point.
Oh wow. Are you chronic writers?
Ryan: We’re go-getters!
Lee: We just like to be busy. We really don’t like to sit around too much.

So when does the album come out?
Lee: Sometime in 2013.
You don’t have a date yet.
Lee: No date yet. We’re actually working around Tyler’s schedule because he just left for their first tour with Conditions and Sleeping With Sirens. So we’ve actually been working on the album with him for the last year and four months, five months, and we’re one song away from completion. So, 2013.
Do you know where it’s going to be coming out?
Lee:  We are actually looking for a home right now, no idea yet.
Is that part of why you’re down here?
Ryan: A little bit.
Lee: A little bit. You know, just getting the word out. We’ve self-released the last two releases. We’re hoping someone will see what we’re all about.

What about upcoming tour plans? I know you said you just finished a big tour.
Lee: We’ll be out in May for about a week or two doing a south and east coast run. Hitting the midwest again probably.
Who’s that with?
Lee: Actually, the tour we just did is called High School Nation. We played to about 1,000-5,000 kids a day in high schools. We would do like four shows a day, and then we would do shows at night. So we’ll probably do another run like that, and then this summer we’re looking to actually hop on a normal tour with other bands. After a while, being in a van with the four of us, it’s like…come on.
Adam: We need other friends.
Ryan: We kind of just signed with some new management stuff, so things are kind of up in the air.
Lee: Exactly.
Ryan: We didn’t want to start doing things and then get new plans, so we’re kind of holding off.
Getting all of your ducks in a row?
Lee: And also finishing recording. That’s gonna be the primary.
Adam: That’s the primary thing. And getting ready to tour that.

So what’s the goal for the rest of 2013? Get the album out and get on the road?
Adam: Make money, play arenas [Laughs].
Ryan: Buy a yacht. I wanna buy a yacht.
Lee: Finish our current record, get that out. Write and record the second follow-up record, have that ready to go. And then definitely hit the road as hard as we can. That’s our goal.

And if kids want to find out more about you, what should they check out?
Ryan: The Internet. [Laugh]
Adam: We’re everywhere. We’re all over it.
Lee: Google “Life After Liftoff”. We’re on facebook.com/lifeafterliftoff, YouTube, Twitter, everywhere. We’re all over the place. Instagram. MySpace. I think we still have one. We do! We’re on the new MySpace!
Adam: If Google Plus still existed, we have that too.
Ryan: We do! It’s small as hell, but it still exists.
Jason: We were the first band on there, I swear. I had a really, really early pass to Google Plus and I put us on there. And there’s no other bands.
That really worked out!
Jason: It did, that’s why we’re here! [Laughs] “We saw your Google Plus profile, and we thought we’d put you on SXSW.”
Google Plus, it’s where all the kids are now.
Adam: [Laughs] It is, don’t be fooled. My dog’s on there.
Lee: That’s where all the geriatrics are. That’s where everyone in, like, a nursing home or assisted living is just sitting around, like “I wonder what’s going on?”
Adam: Dude, they’re on Adult FriendFinder.
Lee: Match.com.
Jason: Now we’re talking about what I want to talk about!
Lee: Exactly.

Any parting words?
Lee: Thank you to Red Gorilla for having us down to SouthBy, we are blessed to be here and stoked to be back in Austin, and thanks to PropertyOfZack for featuring us!

SXSW Lost Interview II – Valaska

While waiting on another interview at this year’s SXSW, I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes chatting with independent Chicago-based singer-songwriter Dave Valdez, who records and performs under the name Valaska. 

Can I get your name and what you do in the band?
My name’s Dave Valdez. Singer, songwriter, kind of everything.

Tell me a little bit about Valaska.
I started Valaska maybe four years ago. I did a [self-titled] EP with Aaron Marsh [formerly of Copeland] then, just like five songs, and then toured for a little bit. And then I started a full length album. We just finished it last year, and it’s coming out March 26th. We did half of it at Aaron’s studio in Lakeland, FL, at the Vanguard Room, and then we did the other half of the record, I did it back at home in Chicago on an old Tascam 4 Track recorder.
Going old school!
Yeah, I really like that kind of old school, analog tape saturation sound. And those are just real stripped-down songs, and we just kind of meshed the two together. And I just got back from tour. I was just out for the whole month of February.
Who were you on tour with? Just by yourself?
Just by myself. I’m kind of a road warrior.

So where is the album coming out?
It’ll be on iTunes…
I meant, are you doing it yourself, or do you have a label you’re working with?
Oh no, yeah it’s just DIY. Just myself for right now, and then maybe eventually hopefully…
And what’s the album title?
Natural Habitat.
Why Natural Habitat?
I called it Natural Habitat because the whole record is kind of about being at home, in your normal surroundings. I wrote the whole record just kind of up in my room, the inside looking out, just kind of in my natural environment, my natural habitat.

Do you have plans for what you’re doing when it comes out? Are you hitting the road?
Yeah, I’ll be hitting the road probably late April, early May. I’m pretty much just trying to be touring the rest of the year.
On your own?
On my own. Later on, if I can find someone to tour with, other bands, other artists, that would be great. Because when I do tour, I have a live band that comes with me. A bass player and a drummer.

When you record, do you do all the parts yourself?
I had a drummer come down, and I did most of it myself, and then Aaron did the bass and a lot of accenting stuff. But mostly it was just me.
How did you end up connecting with Aaron?
Actually, through MySpace…
That was a thing once!
Yeah. I sent him this Hail Mary message, because I was a huge Copeland fan for such a long time, and I was like “I see that you do some producing, check out my song and see if you like it.” I wasn’t expecting him to even get back to me, but he was like “oh yeah, this is great!” And then he just decided…
It sounds like, from the timeframe, maybe you caught him just right as Copeland was winding down?
Absolutely. Right before the EP came out was when they were doing their farewell tour.
So he was looking to get busy with some other stuff anyway.
Yeah I guess you could say that. And then when the EP was out, when it finally was released, he was in Indonesia for the last leg of the tour. Which is funny, because when that record came out, he was sending out Twitter updates and whatnot about it, and I got a lot of fans from Indonesia, because he was there at the time and they were kind of fresh on the Copeland buzz.

Have any temptation to go play over there?
I would love to, but…
Once the right invite comes along?
Yeah. [Laughs] I don’t know how you get over there. It’s the whole money thing.
All I know is, we [PropertyOfZack] have…There’s a group of bands, that for some reason, you know, they’re mostly American pop-punk kinda “scene” bands, and there’s this group of American bands that have huge followings in Southeast Asia. We know because our site gets tons of hits from Indonesia and the Philippines whenever we post about them. I don’t know how that happens.
It’s bizarre. That and South America too.
Brazil, we get a lot.
Yeah, we get a lot of it.
[Dave’s Manager interjects]: Your first EP sold a good amount in England and Australia too.
Yeah, I would love to just leave the country and see what else…

So what are you doing down here at South By? Are you showcasing?
I’m actually not. We just got together with [our publicists] and they told us to just come down here, meet with them…
Introduce you to some folks.
So that’s why we’re here. It would be nice to [showcase]. I might play on the streetcorner or something.
Hey, I’ve seen people do it here and get hundreds of people standing around them.
Yeah, so I might try that tomorrow. And then hopefully, next year…

Are you seeing any bands down here?
Right before [our publicists] texted us to come over here, John McCauley of Deer Tick was just about to start, and I was so excited, and then she was like “hey come on over here”.
Is that the kind of thing you’re into?
Singer-songwriter types. I really am into Deer Tick and John McCauley. I really like old school, like John Prine and Townes Van Zandt, I love those guys.
There’s a Townes Van Zandt tribute show going on one night down here.
Oh really?
Yeah, a bunch of different artists playing a bunch of Townes’ songs. I don’t remember which night.
Oh wow. I’ll have to look into that. It would be great to see. And then, like, Bright Eyes. I love Conor Oberst.
I just saw Desaparecidos [Oberst’s punky side project] like two weeks ago. I’ve seen Bright Eyes a bunch of times but I’d never got to see him rock out like that. It was a fun change of pace.
That’s awesome. Yeah, I saw Bright Eyes in Nashville at the Ryman. I actually got to meet him. It’s like, what do you say to somebody who’s such an inspiration. It was great, I loved it.

So that’s really all I’ve got. Any parting words?
[Dave’s manager interjects again]: Talk about what your record sounds like, what it’s similar to, what you want people to get out of your record.
I mean, yeah, I guess. The biggest… I get that I sound like Ben Gibbard a lot. I get Ben Gibbard, and then Elliot Smith. Basically, the record is kind of, not to put it down, but it’s downer music.
Can I put the “emo” name on it? I know some people are allergic to it.
I mean, I don’t mind. It’s like acoustic emo. It is what it is. I just make music. And then, I dunno, I just want people to be able to relate to the record. Anyone who can find something in the record, find something in the music.

Along those lines, where can people find you?
It’ll definitely be on iTunes, you can find me on Facebook, we’re working on a website. Facebook.com/ValaskaMusic.
Twitter?
@DaveValaska
[Dave’s Manager interjects once more]: We have updates on our management website as well, Vintagebear.Net. And his website will be called ValaskaMusic.com.

SXSW 2013 Lost Interview I – Ed Tullett


Singer-songwriter Ed Tullett signed to Equal Vision Records last year, and played the label’s showcase this March at SXSW. While at the showcase to chat with some of their higher-profile acts, I found myself with some time to kill. Coincidentally, so did Tullett.

You just got off the stage at the Equal Vision Records showcase. How did your set go?
It was great! Everything went well. I was with my friend Micah [Josiah Dailey] who’s from Phoenix, and we’d never even met before. We played like three days, and then we’re here.

How did you connect with him?
Online, basically. It probably sounds pretty creepy! But he sent me his stuff and I really liked it, and it just went from there. And I knew I needed a band member, because doing it by myself isn’t going to work.

Was that just a one-off thing for while you’re down here?
Maybe, I don’t know. I mean I’d love to play with him in the future, he’s a great musician, but yeah, we use a ton of guitar loops, and then the drums and stuff, and by myself, I couldn’t have done that.

Now, you’re from the UK, right? Have you played over here before? Is this a first for you?
I’ve never played here before, that was my first show.
Your very first show in the US.
Yeah, I’ve only been here… I was in New York for three days last July, and that’s it.
Have you had a chance to take in SouthBy yet?
A little bit. It’s kind of crazy. It’s kind of humbling to see this many musicians in one place. You always know there’s a ton of musicians, but to see this many people who are probably better than you in one place is kind of weird. But it’s really cool.

Your music tends to be acoustic-based, a lot of loops and things like that. You’ve gotten a number of Bon Iver comparisons… Actually, maybe you should talk a little about that. There was the stem competition? [Tullett’s contest-winning remix of Bon Iver’s “Hinnom, TX” can be found on Spotify]
Yeah, it was great, it was so cool to be recognized by someone who’s such an inspiration. I never thought I was going to win, there was some great music…
So he just put the stems online for anybody to remix?
Yeah yeah, and I just thought “this would be fun.” Then I did one, everything was great, but I uploaded it to the online thing, and just got my fans to listen to it and comment and stuff, and then it just went from there. And they picked it!

So how did you connect with the Equal Vision folks over here? It’s not usually that sound that they focus in.
I’m glad someone knows that! They’re a great label. My manager, he just sent my stuff to a ton of people. He picked me up around maybe March or April of last year, sent it to a ton of people, and Equal Vision absolutely loved it. The A&R there wanted to fly me over straightaway. So I went to Manhattan and then Albany in July, it was a crazy three days, tons of meetings and stuff. And then it was all finalized shortly after that. They’re a great label, I’m really happy to be on them.

So they’ve reissued the album?
Yes, they’ve reissued Never Joy. That was originally released, probably, not last September but the September before. I was 17 when I wrote and recorded that, just by myself. We’ve remastered it. It’s a cool album, but it’s kind of weird because I’m 19, I’m 20 in October, and it’s just weird to still be on the album cycle of an album that I did when I was 17. Which is pretty young I guess. I’m still young now! [Laughs]

Have you been writing and demoing and all that in the meantime?
Yeah, I have. There’s definitely a lot of progression. I’ve got a new single coming out on April 9th which is called “Oxblood” which is one of the songs we played. It’s, like, electric guitar and a ton of high harmonies. I’m really excited about it. It’s very different from stuff on Never Joy. I’m definitely progressing lyrically; when I was 17, you know, my lyrics were pretty naive.
Is it hard for you to get on stage and still sing those songs?
No, I like it! It’s hard because when no-one knows you, it’s hard to sing stuff like that, acoustic stuff, because you need people to be really into it to get it. But if people like it, it’s great. I don’t know what to say, it’s just how I write. I’ve always written poetically, and I’m getting better and better. I usually write as poems first, and then turn them into songs. That’s pretty hipster of me, I guess.

Do you have any timeframe on when you want to get a new recording done, or are you all-in on Never Joy for now?
I’d love to get something out as soon as possible. We’ve got that single coming out on April 9th. I’ve got a ton of ideas written; lyrically, I’ve got tons of stuff. I’d love to get a record out soon, but we’ve got to talk to the label and see what they say. Definitely this year I think.

What about touring plans? I know you’re just here for these couple days at South By, any plans to come back?
I would absolutely love to. It’s hard now, because the label’s based in Albany, NY and I’m based in Brighton, England, so it’s kind of hard, but I’d absolutely love to do any touring I could do really. But the one problem for me is I really need a band, because my stuff isn’t just acoustic guitar. That’s why Micah is so great, we can loop stuff and play drums, it’s like a full band with two people. But yeah, it’s hard. I’d love to do any sort of touring over here and have him with me because, yeah, that’s enough, I don’t need anything more than drums and some loops.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Hopefully some touring, hopefully to do a new record but I just don’t know when it’s going to be.
Do you have touring lined up in the UK or in Europe?
I did a very small tour supporting Jonny Craig last year, at the end of last year, and I supported Tegan & Sara for a one-off date – which was really awesome, I love those guys.
How was being on the road with Jonny?
Interesting. I didn’t really speak to him very much, so…
I’m talking to him later this afternoon.
Oh really? Well have fun, it’s going to be good. Don’t ask him about MacBooks, I guess. Have you seen the Kickstarter thing he’s doing?
I have.
In the video, there’s just a MacBook right there. Come on. He’s asking for it.
Yeah, I think he is. It’s something I’m going to bring up. We’ll see what happens.
Oh yeah? That’s a good idea.

So for people who are first checking you out, you’re an unfamiliar name in the US right now, what would you say… I dunno, sell yourself!
Sell myself?
Yes! Why should people listen to your music?
Jeez! Well, Americans like English people, right? So there you go, that’s one thing! If you like kind of folky [music], with a ton of harmonies… I could compare myself to other bands, like Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, that sort of stuff, but…
Well what have you been listening to lately?
That’s a tough question! There’s a great band who just released an album called Rhye. Do you know them?
Yeah, it’s so good.
Oh yeah, it’s an incredible record. What else, I dunno man? I’m always listening to Radiohead, they’re my favorite band. But go get Rhye’s album, that’s an incredible album!

Any final words? Where should we look for you?
Just Google me! I’m on Facebook, Twitter, everything. It’s usually just “Ed Tullett” – with two “t”’s at the end! Everyone has it with one “t”, and that’s wrong. It makes me sound like my name’s all French, like it’s “Eddie Too-lay”…
That’s alright, over here we’d just pronounce it “Tullett” anyway! [Laughs]
That’s true, that’s very true. But then I’m English, so I’m cool over here!

The Lost SXSW Interviews

There are countless reasons to interview a musician, but the one nobody ever talks about is: as a favor to their publicist. It’s a frequent occurrence at SXSW and other festivals; you’re waiting around for the band you really want to chat with, and the band’s publicist tries to push off one of their smaller acts on you in the meantime. Who can blame them; they’re just doing their job (even if it’s in the most annoying way possible), and from a writer’s standpoint, it’s always best to stay in the publicist’s good graces – frequently, access is everything.

None of the interviews that will follow here are among my finest moments – they’re all circumstances in which I was entirely unprepped, having not even listened to the act prior to the interview. Mostly, it was both parties trying to make the best of an awkward situation, which led to mostly garbage, with a few genuinely charming moments scattered among the weeds. But as an interviewer it’s a good creative exercise, and I always find it interesting to chat with people who commit themselves to spinning art from ether, to learn about their processes and motivations and aspirations, even if I’m unfamiliar with their output.

For one reason or another (reasons which should be pretty obvious from everything I just wrote), none of these made the cut over at PropertyOfZack. Rather than let them reside in the dustbin of history, I figured I’d at least put them online here – heck, even these smallest of acts have their fans, and perhaps they’ll enjoy our silly chats.

So coming up are four lost interviews from this year’s SXSW; in the future, if I accumulate more of this stuff and have the chance to transcribe, I’ll post more of these. And as always, you can find an up-to-date record of everything I’ve written on the Clips page; most of the action lately has been in the Interviews and Other Music Writing sections.

Every band I caught at SXSW 2013

Oh, and if anyone’s interested, below the cut is a list of every band I caught at SXSW

Tues 3/12:

New Born Authority
Sirah
Charli XCX
The Venetia Fair
Marnie Stern
DIIV
Cloud Nothings
MC Frontalot
MC Lars

Weds 3/13:

Chris Stamey
Shoes
Tegan & Sara
Blake Fischer
Kyle Crow
The Adolescents
Poolside
The Dangerous Summer
Twin Falls
Schematic
Asker
California X
Follakzoid
The Chevin
Ash
Nu Sensae
White Lung

Thurs 3/14:

Olafur Arnalds
The Limousines
Lisa Marr’s Cub Singalong
Renny Wilson
Nardwuar and Andrew WK
K Sera
June Divided
No Somos Marineros
Candy Hearts
Pentimento
KEN Mode
Larry G(ee)
BNLX
Sea Wolf
Butch Walker

Fri 3/15:

Ed Tullett
Kristen Kelly
Ashley Monroe
Butch Walker
Matt Nathanson
New Politics
Fall Out Boy

Sat 3/16:

Allison Weiss
Davey Suicide
Foreign Tongues
Upon This Dawning
HRVRD
Allison Weiss
What’s Eating Gilbert
Candy Hearts
Weatherbox
Lemuria
What’s Eating Gilbert
Allison Weiss
Rescuer
Pentimento
Allison Weiss
No Somos Marineros
Brooke Candy
Fall Out Boy

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