Say Hello to New Music
I once got head while playing Final Fantasy VII. I distinctly remember climaxing while frantically trying to replenish my mana during an intense boss battle. If that wasn’t enough, this bombardment of stimuli occurred at that unique inflection point in a boy’s adolescence when thoughts of girls finally begin to overtake thoughts of video games. This particular blowjob, then, represented a conflation of the two best things the world then had to offer.
I’m pretty sure that my musical endeavors thenceforth have constituted a continuous, semi-conscious attempt to replicate that awesome sensation. To that end, Magick Mountain is my only successful project. It tries to distill the most euphoric moments of dance music and reorder them according to my own interpretation and appreciation of Midwestern house and techno. I replace kick drums with recordings of the human heart, hi-hats with clipped microsamples of sibilant vocals, and hooks with wordless chants. I try to achieve the large sound of classic house tracks through the sum of multiple miniaturized melodies stacked and woven together.
There is a reason why dance music originated and took hold in the bleakest urban environments. My close friend said of the act of walking around a city, that everyone is so focused on themselves that it’s like being alone. Dance music is a genre that simulates the feeling of community absent in day-to-day life. It is escapist by nature. I try to make music that preserves this communalistic quality of dance music while still providing a rewarding experience for the attentive individual listener. I want to simultaneously engage peoples’ solitary and social tendencies. I can only hope Magick Mountain lies at that intersection. It’s there that dance music reveals its full potential. Check out my EP this fall and judge for yourself. Or just buy a PS1, a copy of FFVII and find someone who really cares for you.
From: Brooklyn, NY
Our band is inspired by our experiences. The birth of the band came from all the excitement we felt while we began recording in New Orleans. As we got to work on what was to be a Xander Singh solo record, the attitude from our friends Adam LaClave and Jonathan Allen, who were recording us, took away the unneeded seriousness. They tried their best to convert us to local Cajuns during the two weeks we were down there. We ate gumbo, took breaks for sno balls, wound down with daiquiris, and ended our trip at a crawfish boil. All of that experience played into the looseness we feel with our music. The music itself of New Orleans hasn’t steered us into any direction but the ways of the city twisted the sound of our otherwise “pop” music.
From: Los Angeles, CA
Konnichiwa is a synthpop duo from New York City consisting of D.V. Caputo and Kaela Noel. Below they interview each other via Gchat, while sitting on the same sofa.
Kaela Noel: What are your three fave Italo songs?
D.V. Caputo: What are your current visual influences … AHH BEAT ME TO IT!
D.V. Caputo: Hmmm.
D.V. Caputo: I’d say I go for the larger-sounding ones, so probably “A Love Again” by Savage, followed by “Maria Magdalena” by Sandra (whose producer now does this really proggy ’90s techno stuff well into the 2000s – Enigma, I think? My friend’s mom really likes it) and probably “Dance On The Groove” by Funk Machine.
D.V. Caputo: Though I also like the faster stuff like “Spacer Woman”, obvs, and “Bad Passion”, or basically anything with a sampler.
Kaela Noel: You <3 Italo
D.V. Caputo: I do!
D.V. Caputo: I think my fave subgenres are probably either Italo, Japanese technopop (tons of Yukihiro Takahashi, Yukako Hayase and Miharu Koshi), freestyle, Detroit techno, anything ZTT or Factory Records-related, bits of hardcore techno or that weird period between 1988 and 1991 where everybody wanted to sound like New Order circa-Technique and wore really round glasses. You know, like late ’80s Severed Heads, Cause and Effect, Boxcar, etc. It’s not the most mind-blowing stuff, but there’s something about it that just I love so much – these agile, incredibly cold digital sounds that remind me of Macromedia Interactive CD-ROMs.
D.V. Caputo: But yah! Visuals!
Kaela Noel: Visual influences? Hmmm. I feel like for Konnichiwa, I inhabit a different self, a different girl. It’s me who gets up and sings when we play on stage, and it’s me singing the vocals when we record, or do photos – but it’s also, well, not me – it’s this other identity. I have a totally different space in my closet for Konnichiwa-wear. It’s all black, with tiny sequins, or dots, black with glitter, like the landscape of a galaxy… I think of universes when I dress for Konnichiwa, and disco, and sultry, smoky 1980s Japanese cosmetics commercials from YouTube. I have to wear high heels.
D.V. Caputo: LOL. What are your fave songs of all time?
Kaela Noel: Hm… I love “Hounds of Love” and “This Woman’s Work” and “Suspended in Gaffa” by Kate Bush. I also love Terry Riley (“Journey from the Death of a Friend”), a lot of minimalism stuff, early ’90s freestyle like Expose, and Italo, of course. Karin Dreijer Andersson is my heroine, she is amazing.
Kaela Noel: Okay, your turn. What are your visual motifs? Also we should talk about synths.
D.V. Caputo: Visually, usually specific things, like Univers Condensed Oblique, Mac OS 7, mid-’90s Interactive CD-ROM adventure games and photographic gels, but then I also get really into Japanese ads too – particularly those with good early CG. Also anything by Zbigniew Rybczynski, Max Almy and the graphic designer April Greiman. Oh! And sci-fi made between 1968 and 1998. Particularly Alien, Akira and Star Trek VI. The control panels and interfaces in those movies are especially gorgeous with all of the visual complexity and robustness they imply (even though a lot of the information is obviously fictional).
Kaela Noel: And now… Synths.
D.V. Caputo: Anything digital from the 1980s. Analog synths are very cool, but they can only do so much. I prefer drawing waveforms, sampling voices and making clean-yet-harsh FM sounds, thank you very much. I’m still holding out for a cheap used D-50. Oh! And one more thing: What did you eat for breakfast?
Kaela Noel: Coffee… And a PB&J… But wait, isn’t that kind of cheesy to ask in an interview?
D.V. Caputo: In general I’ve pretty much given up on trying to determine whether or not I’m being cheesy.
From: Brooklyn, NY
I think there was a point in history before people tagged and categorized music with the zeal of a lepidopterist with OCD. Nobody ever told Stravinsky that his music was “post-baroque”, or “classicalcore”. I doubt anyone ever told Sabbath they were a doom band. My mum thinks Black Sabbath are a blues band, and she’s more right than most people.
We are Astrohenge (guitars: Matthew Rozeik and Hugh Harvey; keyboards: Olly Weeks; drums: Kieran Iles), a heavy metal band from London. We don’t know how to describe our music in a way that will make readers leap out of their chairs and check us out like so much leaked celebrity honeymoon footage. It’s not that we’re “indescribable”. Far from it (even “indescribable” is a description). It’s just that we will have to use words like “heavy metal”, “progressive”, and “ridiculous bandanas”, which can be a little bit misleading. I mean, what kind of heavy metal? The leathered-up Judas Priest variety, or the type that involves corpse paint and dead crows? I always thought it was funny when the latter bands describe their gigs as “rituals” – how are you supposed to take the sentence “our next ritual will be at the Norwich Corn Exchange” seriously? We don’t really have an ideology as a band – I mean, I’m pretty sure most of our favorite bands didn’t (beyond “Let’s rock the fuck out boys, and maybe try and see some tits while were doing it.”).
Anyway, we have an album out on Eyesofsound Records. Some of it is really fast; some of it is really slow. Some songs are really medium. We recorded it in a converted chicken shed in Colchester while we stayed with Hugh’s grandparents and it sounds chunky, yet funky. Personally, I’d recommend listening to the album as an alternative to reading this car crash of bad punctuation and syntax. For one thing, you can hear the riffs better.
From: London, UK
We’re Summer Camp. On holiday in America last year we found this letter, and it’s the reason we’re making music. Hopefully when our songs are good enough, Andie will hear them and realize she should have picked Duckie over Blaine.
How are you? I’m sure you’ve been keeping busy with the kids and Major Appliance (a.k.a. Blaine). I’ve been touring with my band; I think people are finally ready to see a middle-aged white guy doing Otis Redding covers.
I know it’s been so long that probably any tiny dust-like speck of feeling you might have had for me has been swept away, but Andie, I love you. When I saw you at the reunion I couldn’t believe how beautiful you looked, but it killed me to see what you’ve become. You’d forgotten a part of yourself – the bitter, twisted, and hilarious side of you I adored. I saw you by the punch bowl, laughing with Steff, and I was shocked. How could you have turned into a country club wife? Dripping in diamonds, vodka in hand, I hardly recognized you. But when you said my name, it all came rushing back. Driving in your car, making you mixtapes you’d throw out the window, planning our future – you were going to be a fashion designer, remember? Baby, we’re soulmates.
At your dad’s funeral, when you drunkenly kissed me in the rain, I thought you needed me too. But the next morning I stood in your doorway, hands shaking with frustration, as Blaine took you away from me again. I saw you turn around in the car, I know you felt something.
I don’t have much – still living off that cat food jingle I wrote! – but I can offer adventure, love, passion and excitement. Remember what you’d say when those rich bitches were bullying you? “I just want them to know they didn’t break me.” Well you broke me, and no one can put the pieces back together except one red-haired girl.
I believe in you, Andie.
From: London, UK
Sunday Mourning is Mark Wagner and Sanna Charles. They play dark ritualistic music. A sort of horror-folk infused with doom, blues and live electronics. A haunting and primal commendation of the forces of good and evil with thematics of hope, despair, longing, ghouls, ghosts and kingdoms gone. For ’SUP, Mark and Sanna asked each other some questions.
S: What do you think about?
M: Making good from bad, winds of change, birds of prey, longing, tits, love, lonesome me, E.N.E.R.G.Y.
M: Why bother?
S: Something to do with nature.
S: What object would you compare Sunday Mourning to?
M: A box of matches.
M: Where would you rather be?
S: In/on or near a lake.
S: Where do you keep your weed?
M: In a metal box the size of a matchbox.
M: What makes you bleed?
S: My ovaries.
S: Will you ever leave London?
M: Yes, though I might not stray far.
M: Describe your last Sunday morning.
S: Woke up in a garden, smelled of cat piss… Got back into bed ’til it was over. OVER.
S: Describe your sound.
M: The saddest music…
M: What do you fear?
S: My heart… And the debt collectors.
S: Where do you most want to play?
M: Paris, Portugal, more churches… Our next gigs I guess.
M: What came up on your iPod today?
S: Lynard Skynard, Mr. Banker, King Diamond, O.G., Ron C – “Sippin’ on Codeine”, a bunch of other shit…
S: Are there any instruments you want to introduce to Sunday Mourning?
M: Your dad’s guitar.
M: Who are your drumming influences?
S: Micky D., Doug “Cosmo” Clifford from Credence Clearwater Revival, Donald Tardy from Obituary, Neil Smith from Alice Cooper Band.
S: Is there a higher (or lower) being and what is it?
M: Earth, Air, Moon, Sun, etc. All is energy.
M: What is your longing?
S: The smell of woods, the Black Lake.
S: What’s yours?
M: Dunno… But I think about it a lot…
From: London, UK
SWEET BULBS are a pop band that began in the basement of an opera house off the M train in Bushwick, Brooklyn. They are sacrilegious, and combine jangly guitar tremolo, distorted bass, straightforward drumbeats and delicately-delivered vocals for a sound that is blissfully dissonant yet intricate. The band is comprised of Inna Mkrtycheva on vocals, Ray Weiss on drums, Jack Wolf on bass, and Michael Sheffield on the guitar.
SWEET BULBS sing short pop songs about love and disillusionment. They use repetitive, booming sound clouds of burned-out drone to mirror the degradation they see in Modern Art as well as simpler, lighter emotions, like the drunken feelings brought about by love. They played their first show December 10th, 2009 at the Silent Barn in Queens in front of a pile of television sets.
SWEET BULBS are your first bad acid trip, at that certain moment when in the confusion of hallucinating you think back to how you were before you took the drugs. How warm, carefree, naïve, and distant that place now seems. SWEET BULBS are sick of it all; SWEET BULBS are childishly innocent dream pop aggression. Their debut self-titled record was recorded this past spring in a basement in New Jersey and is due out early this October on the Brooklyn-based imprint Blackburn Recordings.
SWEET BULBS are a smoky empty club on a crisp spring day. They are ugly and sensual, a neglected Indian summer. SWEET BULBS are whores.
From: Brooklyn, NY
BITCHES was a band started like most. I’m allergic to cats and in lieu of a sarcastic, fur-dressed companion, we needed something to bond over in order to survive winter in London: a not-that-cold, rainy, miserable, gets-dark-at-5-p.m. irritant of a season. I’ve found myself stomping through London in mid-December still wearing the dregs of my summer outfits, bewildered in pink shorts and unsure as to how the shitty weather has crept up on me again, wondering why the fuck I threw out my only raincoat.
Our weather cannot be taken too seriously. Sporadically warm, usually cold, drizzling constantly, it’s not extreme enough to make me crazy and pen ballads to hibernating bears (or love, etc.) from my snowdrift-buried log cabin, nor is it awesome enough to inspire me to pen verse in honor of cats, weed and beaches. BITCHES are in that blissful hinterland. Living it up, not giving too much of a fuck, but also making sure we recycle and keep on top of the laundry.
There are two people in the band. Blake (bass guitar/vox – often bearded) and Staz (drums/vox – no beard). We play noisy, thuggish pop and shout about niche grievances (i.e. quantity of cereal dust), sleep disorders and other minor conflicts and desires of the week. If we were ever in a celebrity gossip magazine, this is the fact I would want published in one of those little circles that contain amusing tidbits from the main interview: “They’ve only ever argued once. About bread!”
We’re currently working on our first album and are aiming for a minimum of ten songs, but probably more so as best to represent good value for money. This was something my Grandma drilled into my head when I was a kid.
From: London, UK