Haunted House "Guess Who's Not Coming To Dinner" Review

In a time when bands are able to buff out their every last blemish by way of modern production techniques, Mike Watton's embrace of his monotone growl seems that much more unusual. On his band Haunted House's debut, Guess Who's Not Coming To Dinner, the singer's peculiar tone is the first sign of just how unpredictable is the music to come, as if The Jesus Lizard's David Yow were to reinvent himself as a pop singer, layering his nasally drawl beneath dense piano, breezy synths and an erratic rhythm section.

Haunted House began in 2002 as a solo project of Watton's, performing live with a revolving crew of contributors including drummers like Vampire Hands' Colin Johnson, Skoal Kodiak's Freddy Votel, and Martin Dosh. As time went on, a band grew around Watton including Cole Claerhout on guitar and percussion, bassist Jon Davis, and drummer Adam Patterson.

Haunted House deftly combines a host of influences to create an oddly original sound. The keys opening “Mirror” seem like a clear callout to Andrew W.K.'s “Girls Own Love,” while “The Coliseum” bends a dense, brooding rhythm section around late-stage '70s arena-rock. “The Hooker's Imagination” reflects something closer to the bouncing sound found throughout the New Pornographers' bubbling discography. The synth on "Let God Have His Way" echoes 1984-era Van Halen, and there's even a jam-band breakdown in "Rattled Out In Makeup." The parts are all familiar, but the combinations are imaginative and exciting—and the band may yet have more surprises in store, with two more albums (Lesh Is More and Ravage Through The Bum's Hair) already in the works for 2010.

[This article was first published by the AV Club.]

Lookbook "Wild at Heart" Review

Minneapolis is becoming increasingly known for being a hotbed of hip-hop and rock/noise acts, but somewhere in the shadows of the city lurks a stellar electronic scene that is just as remarkable. This often overlooked niche is arguably led by the duo of Grant Cutler (Passions) and Maggie Morrison (Digitata) who, under the Lookbook moniker, first captured the scene’s attention late last year with its acclaimed I Fear You, My Darkness EP. Now returning with its first full-length, Wild at Heart, Lookbook has expanded on Cutler’s dancefloor-friendly synths and Morrison’s enthusiastic vocals with an impeccable follow-up that looks to bring the band, and the genre, further into the spotlight.

After its breakthrough last year, Lookbook were invited to perform at First Avenue’s annual Best New Bands showcase and were named the Best New Band in City Pages‘ 2009 Best of the Twin Cities Poll. Such praise is rarely given to musicians who can’t hang. But not only can Cutler and Morrison hang, they add a genuine warmth and sense of personality to a style of music that has most recently been dominated by emotionless electronic acts a la Crystal Castles. At a time when it’s chic to outfit synths with a cold and distant sound, Wild at Heart is a warmhearted throwback that hearkens back to the most welcoming of ’80s pop and rock.

Album opener “Over and Over” is booming in its production, and finds Cutler underscoring Morrison’s sultry vocals with a tight guitar line. “Yesterday’s Company” and “Way Beyond” glisten with Morrison’s spirited lyrics, but as the album rolls on it’s that same enthusiastic playfulness that some might eventually find offputting. Uncorrupted by the glut of ’80s bands that may well be remembered as some of the tackiest in the history of pop music, Morrison has a fierce tendency to lay a dazzling bounce over Cutler’s almost kitschy beats. Depending on how hostile you might be to the sounds of an era gone by, however, this might come off as too sugary at times. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder.

As far as ’80s revivalism goes, there’s a thin line between unnecessarily rehashing music that died for a reason and being creative in reinterpreting an era’s essence in a refreshing manner. Wild at Heart is a dramatic representation of the latter. If more local acts were to follow suit, it wouldn’t be long before Minneapolis became known for “that Lookbook sound.”

[This article was first published by the Twin Cities Daily Planet.]

Sean McPherson of Heiruspecs: Favorite Albums of the Decade

Cannibal Ox The Cold Vein: This record reminded me that the world I was trying to make my way in, underground rap, had some real masters and my best bet would be to shut the fuck up and admire.

Why? Elephant Eyelash

Jay-Z The Blueprint: I listened to this record at a redhead from St. Paul named Chelsea’s house for the first time. At the time it was weird to have a Jay-Z record on because we thought that independent rap was all that mattered. That was before this record. Thanks Chelsea.

Low The Great Destroyer: Heiruspecs had the same manager as Low and when Vickie gave us this record I cried my little eyes out. On a way up to a show in Duluth my good friend Kevin Hunt said, “They should really get a bass drum.” Low is incredible and everyone knows it. Plus it would be some hater-ish shit to not have some localness on the list. Atmosphere and Love-cars are both real close to making this list. But Love-cars’ best record was in the 1990s, and actually so was Atmosphere’s.

Tegan and Sara So Jealous: Fuck it. This is fantastic pop. But, if I had seen my brother’s list before I submitted mine I would’ve put D’Angelo’s Voodoo on this list instead. Tegan and Sara make me feel young and excited.

Condominium: Favorite Albums of the Decade

Cold Sweat Blinded: Best live band of the decade, hands down. Raging without being “retro” in any sense. If the terms “modern” or “contemporary” hardcore were not already applied to Modern Life is War or Bane, it would appropriate here. Untouched in style.

Tragedy Vengeance: Able to barely edge out Self-Titled. Biggest, loudest record, including the super thick cardboard cover. This record sounds even better now that there aren’t a bunch of third-rate bands trying to ape this style.

Billy Bao Fuck Seperation 10″: This Basque band feels very much like a complete package. Their combination of heavy punk and conceptual noise creates some great unique sounds, and they are one of the only bands in recent memory who manage to be outspokenly political in a way that seems relevant and intellectually rigorous.

Mitch Hedberg Strategic Grill Locations: St. Paul represent. RIP.

Disclose/Framtid split 7″: Absolutely crushing. More “face-melting” than any crap grind record. This is the high water mark for all Japanese dis-bones raw punk of the decade.

Lucy Michelle: Favorite Albums of the Decade

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings 100 Days, 100 Nights: I saw Sharon Jones two nights in a row at the Fair, she is one of the most talented performers I have ever seen. Her and her band actually engage with the audience which is something most bands don’t ever do! And 100 Days, 100 Nights makes me think about my dad’s sweet dance moves.

Dark Dark Dark The Snow Magic: Dark Dark Dark is a magical band. I think that pretty much sums it up. When I listen to that record I think about love, but not in a cheesy way…

Andrew Bird Mysterious Production of Eggs: Mysterious Production of Eggs was unlike any Andrew Bird release I have heard. You can play that album over and over and never get sick of it. Not only is Bird an amazing musician, his lyrics are outstanding, strange, unique and charming and the arrangements are unexpected and thoughtful.

Dr. Dog Fate: Dr. Dog really pulled out the stops with Fate, they had so many catchy tunes on that release and it’s one that will sometimes give me goosebumps when I listen to it. Can’t explain why, Dark Dark Dark will do that too with the song “Benefit of the Doubt” (my favorite song on that record).

Mirah Advisory Committee

Julie Doiron Woke Myself Up: Julie Doiron, I discovered her when I was room mates with Geoff (our drummer). He brought home Goodnight Nobody, her 2004 release and I listened to that CD over and over until it got scratched and sadly couldn’t listen to it anymore. So I searched for more and found Woke Myself Up. It was so much brighter, it made me happier just listening to it and I believed that album as well as goodnight nobody inspired a lot of my own music.

In fact all of these albums are inspiring and each one creates a different memory. That’s my favorite part.

[Lucy Michelle is the lead vocalist of Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles. The Minneapolis-based band's most recent album, Special Party Time For Everybody, was released in September.]

Toki Wright "Devil's Advocate" Video

Currently on the Fresh Air Tour with Brother Ali and Evidence, Toki Wright has just dropped the first music video from his full-length Rhymesayers debut A Different Mirror. "Devil's Advocate" just saw it's debut on MTV—which also acts as Wright's solo debut on the national station—where it is now acting as the emcee's introduction to many across the nation. Time will tell, but hopefully the momentum surrounding the MPLS veteran's June release will evolve into his own headlining tour in the new year a la Ali. Watch out for Mr. Wright's video in the coming weeks as it continues to get play on MTVU & MTV JAMS. The Fresh Air Tour will continue to travel around the nation until late in November when a pair of shows at First Avenue will cap off the production (Nov. 20/21).

[This article was first published by City Pages.]

DJ Schmolli Interview

When did you start making mashups?

DJ Schmolli: I did my first mashup in summer 2000 (Creed vs. Destiny’s Child); after doing a couple more I decided to go for other musical projects as I am a live musician too. I rediscovered the bootleg scene in autumn 2005, going strong since then.

Was there any other mashup producer, or producers, that inspired you to get started?

DJ Schmolli: Well in 2000 when I started there were no other artists that inspired me. Actually there hasn’t been a mashup scene around these days and I haven’t heard many mashups before, just a few that I heard on the radio. So I just mixed songs for fun, to get better knowledge of the software and to irritate people when I put the mixes on at the DJ sets. Later in 2005 I found some great bootleggers on the web but I’d say I don’t get inspired from them a lot, I get the inspiration from the music itself. And since I listen to almost every musical genre you can tell I get quite a lot of inspiration.

Have you had any legal threats or issues arise surrounding any of your bootlegs?

DJ Schmolli: No, not yet. Actually quite the opposite is the case. I got feedback from a bunch of artists (or their management) and they were all pretty excited about the stuff I do. For once I thought that I got in some trouble. When I released the Falco Re:loaded album in 2008 I got an email from Afrika Bambaataa’s management regarding the use of his vocals in “Funky Kommissar.” The email sounded pretty bad at first, they were asking why I used Afrika’s vocals without permission and things like that. So I took the mp3 offline and apologized to them. But then they replied and said that A.B. loves the mashup and I should put it back online again.

What is the last mashup you listened to that wasn't yours?

DJ Schmolli: I’m listening to Mighty Mike’s “For No Bop” (Beatles vs. Ramones) at this very moment.

Who are your favorite bastard-pop producers?

DJ Schmolli: There are quite a few, of course from the old days I like GHP, Aggro1, Divide & Kreate, DJ Moule, Lobsterdust, Loo & Placido, DJ Clive$ter, DJ Earlybird and Dunproofin. From the new bootleggers I think MadMix Mustang & LeeDM101 do some great stuff, as well as Marc Johnce & Norwegian Recycling.

How many mashups do you think you've made in your life?

DJ Schmolli: I released about 140, got quite a bunch in demo status.

What is your favorite mashup of all time?

DJ Schmolli: Now that’s a really really tough question. I guess I can’t just name one, I love GHP’s “Rock In Black” and the Futuro mix of Kid KO’s “A Deeper Rigby”. My favourite of 2009 is probably LeeDM101 with “Radioactive Tubular Girls”.

[This article first appeared on Mashuptown.]

Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles "Special Party Time for Everybody" Review

The past year has offered a world of change to the six members of Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles. Dropping the independently released Orange Peels and Rattlesnakes in the summer of 2008 only added to the budding attention that the band had already been attracting for its live performances around the Twin Cities. By the end of the year the group had received best local band honors in City Pages‘ annual Picked to Click poll and began expanding its roadshow while anticipation at home continued to build. Now releasing their second album, Special Party Time For Everybody, Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles not only buck the highly dreaded sophomore slump, but offer a change in direction that adds an entirely new dimension to the band’s already remarkable sound.

There is no easy way to describe the band. To those unfamiliar, it might best serve as an explanation to include generic terms such as “fun” or “lighthearted,” but with Party Time the band has stepped outside its traditional folkie constraints and sailed further into the seas of jazz and rich, sophisticated pop. This transition might be best represented by the album’s title track, where the band’s carefree harmonies and hand claps eventually blend with Michelle’s whistling and airy call and response. It’s a song that sounds so distant from the Velvet Lapelles of a year and a half ago that it hardly seems like it came from the same set of musicians.

“Magnolia Tree” follows in the vein of a Spanish waltz, if such a thing were to ever be created by a metropolitan band based in the Midwest. Later in the album “Ghost Town” arises as an unofficial second part to the album’s lead track “Mouth of the Beast,” both foot-stompers that take full advantage of the instruments used in each respective song. The smoky sax in “Goodnight” and the playful piano in “Treetop Lullaby” (one that parallels “Chopsticks”) act as additional examples of how the band has furthered its sound through a wide array of instruments throughout the album.

The greatest representation of the prowess that the band have gained since first finding their place within the Twin Cities is the album’s “Hotel.” The seven minute song overlays Michelle’s ukulele with Eamonn McLain’s cello, each given their respective moments to seek the spotlight before eventually fading in with the rest of the dramatic mixture of sounds. Later the song adds horns and piano, both of which echo over drummer Geoff Freeman before each eventually loses its individual nature and becomes a thread in the song’s beautiful musical tapestry. As a whole, it is the most impressive piece the band has put together to date.

Much of the evolution evinced on Party Time might stem from Michelle and guitarist Chris Graham, who were attended St. Paul’s Central High School together—they both played in the school’s jazz band—though it likely has more to do with the rapid maturation of the band as a whole. The contrast between the its two albums is striking, and suggestive of far more than simply time spent practicing or playing together. For lack of a better description, Party Time still reflects the “fun” and “lighthearted” sounds that have been present since the group’s inception. But the new album reflects something deeper; far from a leap into dangerous territory, it showcases a group of artists who have comfortably outgrown their musical wardrobe, now tailoring new remnants of inspiration to their already broken-in sound.

While retaining the essence of what originally landed them so much interest, Lucy Michelle and co. have seamlessly done in a short stretch of time what many bands fail to achieve during their entire careers. One can only imagine where they’ll be in another year.

[This article was first published by the TC Daily Planet.]

Red Pens "Reasons" Review

“It’s not every year that the winner of our Picked to Click poll blows the rest of the competition out of the water, but every so often a band comes along that manages to win over the hearts of the entire music scene.” Though a tad hyperbolic, City Pages‘ recent introduction of this year’s best new band honors, which were given to Minneapolis’s Red Pens, weren’t bestowed without sufficient rationale. Particularly over the past few months, few burgeoning local acts have appeared so consistently on the radar—the excitement surrounding this band is hard to dispute.

A visual artist, guitarist Howard W. Hamilton III originally met drummer Laura F. Bennett after a friend of Hamilton’s suggested that he should check out Bennett’s work. From there they began collaborating until Bennett eventually hit the guitarist with a suggestion that maybe they should play together. Considering that they performed together for a year before actually playing in front of an audience, their album Reasons is more than simply the band’s debut: it’s a sonic time capsule culminating the evolution of their relationship.

Imagine for a moment what an under-produced version of Sonic Youth’s “Sunday” might sound like had it been shortened, amped up, and filtered through a youthful Midwestern duo: that’s pretty much what you’re going to hear on the majority of Reasons. In a half hour Red Pens tear through a dozen songs, shredding and wailing away on their instruments before an undertow encapsulates the last song and carries it out to sea.

“Cave Something” switches up the pace early on in the record, with Bennett introducing the track through a rumbling introduction while Hamilton chimes in with a steady drone of guitar that overwhelms the next three minutes of the song. “Street Issues” later continues the album by dropping a full-bodied sound that raises Hamilton’s vocals over an uncharacteristically bouncy riff. After a few more tracks of violent riffing, “Phase You Out” brings the record to a conclusion by capping off everything off and fading away. As its slow, emotional drive dissipates, it’s hard not to think about the blazing sound that came before it and pressing play once again.

The reason that best new band honors might seem a bit much is because there are hundreds, if not thousands of bands around the world right now attempting a similar sound at the moment as Red Pens. But it’s the delivery of the dizzying shoegaze-inspired whirlwind that the band sets itself apart. Whether it be the wavy “Children and the Kids” or the shredding sounds of “Kick Me,” Red Pens offer ample evidence suggestive of the true quality of their interpretation of the sound. For those who don’t get it, the band is just another faceless entity in the overpopulated populace; for those who do: Reasons is a record to play many times.

[This article was first published by the Twin Cities Daily Planet.]

team9 Interview

When did you start making mashups?

team9: In their current form I started probably about 2002. I think the first one I did was Shola Ama vs. the Pet Shop Boys, I’ve got no idea where that is now–long deleted. I used to mess around with mixing tapes into records though back in the '80s. I had a mate that was the DJ at the local skating hang out and I remember him mixing Nitro Deluxe and Michael Jackson together–it blew me away. So if we want to get technical my first mash up was Milli Vanilli "Girl You Know It's True" vs Bobby Brown "My Prerogative." Maybe I shouldn’t admit to that.

Was there any other mashup producer, or producers, that inspired you to get started?

team9: Freelance Hellraiser, Richard X and GHP were the first that really stood out for me. I still love listening to the first wave of mashups. Some of them weren’t really that good in hindsight but it felt really fresh. I still admire those three though as producers. I think Richard X is up there with Trevor Horn as a pop producer—legendary!

Have you had any legal threats or issues arise surrounding any of your bootlegs?

team9: I suppose the only one I had was together with Party Ben as a part of the American Edit stuff. Scary but exciting because of all the press and web coverage that it generated. I was slightly disappointed that nothing came of it. I wouldn’t have minded being the mashup poster boy. ;-)

What is the last mashup you listened to that wasn't yours?

team9: Probably Copycat's latest with "White Wedding"–very nice. High rotation though would have to be Party Ben's MJ "Rock with You" vs. Nelly Furtado thing. My kids love that one and its on my summer playlist for this year.

Who are your favorite bastard-pop producers?

team9: I’ll probably miss someone here: Earworm, Copycat, WFAH, Party Ben, Girl Talk, Go Home Productions, Dunproofin’. I’ll download anything new by them. I’m sure there are more I just cant remember right now.

How many mashups do you think you've made in your life?

team9: Far too many.

What is your favorite mashup of all time?

team9: I’ve got a playlist set up of my favourites. I’m crap with track names but Zebra’s "Come Together’" vs Nine Inch Nails and Earworm's PJ Harvey, Thom Yorke duet are the first two that come to mind. GHP’s Hendrix vs Beyonce, Freelance Hellraiser's Stars Wars vs Hatiris, Phil Retrospector’s U2 vs Marivin Gaye – all brilliant.

[This article first appeared on Mashuptown.]

As His Future Remains Uncertain, Roger Huerta Looks to Mickey Rourke for Guidance

During a post-fight interview following his loss to Kenny Florian at UFC 87, Roger Huerta commented on remarks he had previously made about his future in the UFC, "All I was saying is that as a business decision—and you can't argue about this, it's in all business—if a company offers you something better for you and your family, then you would do that, right? It's the logical thing to do. And that's all I was saying." And now, without a contract with the UFC or any other fighting promotion, Huerta is again searching for what is best for both him as his family.

Roger Huerta's story is one that has been well documented, and the adversities he has overcome in his life list like those from a Hollywood screenplay. His father, who was plagued by drug and alcohol abuse throughout his life, had a history of infidelity that eventually led to the separation of his family. Little support came from his mother following the divorce however; often physically abusive, Huerta was eventually removed from her custody at the age of seven. Following further tribulations with both parents over the next five years, including being tragically abandoned, Huerta eventually found himself living on the streets at the age of 12, surviving through gang life.

As City Pages' Kevin Hoffman explains,
"His salvation was wrestling. Through wrestling he met the teacher who became his adoptive mother. She helped him find Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where he joined the wrestling team. A teammate introduced him to Mixed Martial Arts. MMA introduced him to the world."
Now, no longer under contract as an MMA fighter, Huerta's future is again in the air; though under far better circumstances than in the past.

The first MMA fighter to ever be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated (pictured above), Huerta's final bout of his six fight deal with the UFC came with a split decision loss to Gray Maynard at UFC Fight Night 19 last month. Maynard, who was recently ranked third in the world in the lightweight division by Five Ounces of Pain, pushed Huerta to his limit, leaving Florian, Huerta's previous opponent who was acting as a commentator for the fight, in awe. "I don't know how Roger is not tapping on that. You can see his shoulder blade popping out of his back. This is the heart of Roger Huerta!" Earlier in the fight the UFC's Mike Goldberg had alluded to the uncertainty that would follow the bout, and as Maynard's hand was raised in victory, Huerta's immediate future with the UFC looked increasingly unclear.

Now the free agent is looking to, of all places, a career in acting to help add a new sense of fulfillment to his life. Speaking to MMA Weekly in September, Huerta discussed his direction,
"I’ve just got to balance it out with my life, my social life,” said Huerta. “Balance it where I’m not fully just focused on one thing – I’m focused on fighting, and fighting is everything I do. I have to balance it out where fighting is my job, and outside of training, I get to hang out with my family and my loved ones, then the acting thing. Acting, that it’s just my job, and not making it where it’s all that I’m about."
And at the request of the once-troubled Hollywood actor, and former boxer, Mickey Rourke, Huerta looks to have an opportunity to pursue that next stage of his life. Insisting that Huerta join him in New York, Rourke recently flew the fighter out to East Coast where they began working together. “Mickey took him under his wing,” noted Huerta's manager Jeff Clark in a recent discussion with MMA Weekly.

And under Rourke's guidance Huerta has now found a role in Ling Bai's (Crank: High Voltage, Entourage) new movie Circle of Pain, which is set to being production later this month. The film comes as Huerta's second role in a major motion picture, his first will reportedly see release in theaters next month as he's featured as Miguel Caballero Rojo in the screen adaptation of the popular video game Tekken.

Despite Huerta's new direction in life however, it would be surprising if the 26 year old failed to set foot in the octagon again. "After the Maynard fight, he realized how much he loves fighting, and he definitely wants to fight again," Clark later commented. Prior to his consecutive losses, Huerta had been undefeated in his last 17 fights, with his final loss (which was subsequently the first loss of his career) coming in June of 2004 to Ryan Schultz.

At such a young age Huerta's options are seemingly limitless. Given his ability to find success against odds that would likely crush most people, he deserves the opportunity to pursue every avenue available to him. And regardless of which of those directions he decides to focus on, Roger Huerta should be celebrated as a champion.

[This article first appeared on Examiner.]

No Bird Sing "Devil's Trombones" Video

In preparation for the release of No Bird Sing's self-titled debut earlier this summer, City Pages interviewed the band and attempted to draw an accurate description of its music. "[No Bird Sing] is a hybrid, a product of a city where the MCs listen to NPR, musicians feel free to mix partying and post-modernism, and making something honest is preferable to making something perfect... The work is referential of hip-hop mechanics but humanized through the nuance of live performance." Pretty complicated, huh? And now No Bird Sing is replacing the written word with an increasingly abstract form of interpretation: a music video. "Devil Trombones" is dark stop-motion project created by 14 year old artist Malone Mischke. (Hey, that name sounds familiar.) No Bird Sing's next performance will be this coming Sunday night when the band opens for Saul Williams at the Varsity Theater.

[This article was originally published by City Pages.]

Lyoto Machida

Despite giving up some 60 pounds to the Heavyweight Champion, the UFC's current Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida said in a recent interview with Sherdog's Marcelo Alonso that he would jump at the opportunity to fight Brock Lesnar.

Alonso: "I also heard you said if you can defend your title for five times you're thinking about facing the UFC Heavyweight Champion. Is that true?"

Machida: "Yeah, but my focus right now is in my class: Light Heavyweight. But in the future I would like to do a couple fights... like Brock Lesnar. I respect Brock Lesnar as a fighter, but I know that I can fight with him. Brock Lesnar is a big challenge for me because he is a big guy, stronger, very very strong, very very power... very fast. And for me, I like the challenge."

The 15-0 Machida also discussed the possibility of coaching an upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, just as a number of Light Heavyweight Champions have done in the past. Noting that he works on his English daily in an effort to prepare for such a show, Machida bluntly said that he would be very interested in coaching a season of the UFC's reality program if given the chance.

Before Machida even considers Lesnar or The Ultimate Fighter however, he will have to focus on his forthcoming title defense at UFC 104 against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Priming fans for the bout, Machida currently appears on the cover of the November 2009 edition of Men's Fitness magazine. UFC 104 will take place October 24 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Ultimate Fighter is currently in its 10th season and can be seen Wednesday nights on Spike.

[This article was first published at Examiner.]

Copycat Interview

When did you start making mashups?

Copycat: Depends on what you categorize as a mashup. I've been laying tracks on top of each other since the '80s. But as regards the modern equivalent, doing it on a computer, using parts of different tracks to create entirely new ones, I'd say around 2002/2003. But I didn't have the guts to start sharing them until a year later or so.

Was there any other mashup producer, or producers, that inspired you to get started?

Copycat: Well, Soulwax and their 2 Many DJs project, of course. Another factor was the Freelance Hellraiser and his "Stroke of Genius"—brilliant then, brilliant now. Not to mention Mark Vidler and his Go Home Productions. However, not everyone was as good as those guys, and I suppose that's essentially the reason for my getting into the game. I thought I could do better than many of them...

Have you had any legal threats or issues arise surrounding any of your bootlegs?

Copycat: Not really, no. Had a few tunes/videos taken down from my various sites every now and then, without a word or notice, but no major hassle. Yet.

What is the last mashup you listened to that wasn't yours?

Copycat: Listened to Mighty Mike's "Papa Was In Your Hands" the other day over at Audio Porn Central. Brilliant.

Who are your favorite bastard-pop producers?

Copycat: Um... How much time have we got...? There are tons of good ones. But I rarely miss any of Team9's releases. That guy has it all. Apart from being a nice bloke, he's got an eclectic and great taste in music, cool ideas, and excellent production skills. Check his latest project, the Memorabilica album under his Found Sound Orchestra guise, and you'll see what I mean. Magic.

How many mashups do you think you've made in your life?

Copycat: Don't really know. Some hundred probably. And some 20-25 remixes. But the past few years I've become much more restrictive about what I post. So I suppose you'll only find some 50-60 tunes out there. Tops.

What is your favorite mashup of all time?

Copycat: Rather impossible to answer. But I'll go with either Jacknife Lee's Eminem mash from a few years back ("Cleaning Out My Closet" vs. ?) - or "Stroke of Genius." Mostly for the sense of infatuation that still comes over me when I hear either of them; few other mashups can match that. Both make me rush off to my computer to do one of my own...

[This article first appeared on Mashuptown.]

To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie "In People's Homes" Video

Continual Stereogum darlings Jehna Wilhelm and Mark McGee have popped up on the music site once again, this time debuting a new music video from their latest album Marlone. If anything, "In People's Homes" is an outlier in terms of what can be expected from the band, but a diversion that is as enjoyable a listen as the rest of the catalog from the talented Minneapolis-based duo. Alluding to the track as the record's "most surprising" in a review earlier this year, Pitchfork's Joe Colly added that "Homes" is "a buoyant two-minute pop cut that springs up virtually out of nowhere to loosen the seriousness of Marlone's second half." Complementing the comparatively light sound of the short two-minute track is the kaleidoscope of airy visuals cast throughout the video. To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie's next local appearance will come at the Hot Roxx Halloween Hextravaganza which will also feature Invisible Boy, mystery supergroups, DJs Nick & Jen, more.

[This article was first published by City Pages.]

Illuminoids Interview

When did you start making mashups?

Jells Mayhem: Back in 2006, after listening to some CDs that where floating around, and we would always listen to DJ Paul V.'s Mashup of the Day that used to air on Indie 103.1.

And we became so fascinated with the whole concept. And then seeing that there was this whole scene (GYBO, Bootie, Mashuptown, etc.). It was just like "Fuck, we got try this out."

It's funny because those CDs were treated like top secret government documents. People used to be real nervous about duplicating them, due to them being illegal. It was weird.

Was there any other mashup producer, or producers, that inspired you to get started?

Jells Mayhem: 2 Many DJ's and Mark Vidler.

Have you had any legal threats or issues arise surrounding any of your bootlegs?

Jells Mayhem: Nope. We have actually had a lot of the bands really dig the bootlegs we have done, as well as the labels too, ironically.

What is the last mashup you listened to that wasn't yours?

Jells Mayhem: DJ Faroff's The B-52s vs. Lipps Inc., spun it at Bootie LA last Saturday.

Who are your favorite bastard-pop producers?

Jells Mayhem: Wow, tough question. I'd have to say A plus D, DJ Zebra, DJ Moule, DJ Schmolli, Divide & Kreate, Aggro1 and there are some more that I can't really think of right now, but those are usually the ones that put out consistently good boots.

How many mashups do you think you've made in your life?

Jells Mayhem: 45-50 and about 5000 scrapped ones... haha.

What is your favorite mashup of all time?

Jells Mayhem: Salt N Pepa vs. The Stooges, that was the one that really got me hooked into the scene.

[This article was first published by Mashuptown.]

dj BC Interview

When did you start making mashups?

dj BC: In about 2004, after hearing some made by other folks. But before that I was making them for a few years outside the 'computer realm' and was thinking of them more as hip-hop remixes. But Sony Acid opened up a whole new world for me.

Was there any other mashup producer, or producers, that inspired you to get started?

dj BC: Go Home Productions, and of course, Danger Mouse. "The Beastles" was basically a rip-off of his "Grey Album". And pretty much everyone on McSleazy's GYBO, that community in general was hugely

Have you had any legal threats or issues arise surrounding any of your bootlegs?

dj BC: Yes, I have been asked to take things offline a few times. EMI does not like 'The Beastles', and asked me to take it offline. Some sampled artists I spoke with objected to "Wu Orleans;" though others quite enjoyed it, a few were not fans at all, and I took it offline out of respect for their personal feelings. Philip Glass' management asked me to take my 'Glassbreaks' album down, as well as the photo of him on the page. No one has been overly threatening or a jerk about it, though.

What is the last mashup you listened to that wasn't yours?

dj BC: By French mashup duo SUYT, "I Gotta Walk Away." Party staple, I predict.

Who are your favorite bastard-pop producers?

dj BC: Go Home Productions, Party Ben, G3RST, DJ Moule, DJ Schmolli, Divide and Kreate, Martinn, Mei-Lwun, DJ Jay-R, A+D, Earworm... There are really too many to list, but there are a few, if people want to hear something new by a talented masher. And now Dj Y alias Y is one of my new faves.

How many mashups do you think you've made in your life?

dj BC: A few hundred, I guess? Not sure. Probably less than a thousand. Also it depends on how you categorize mashups! I do a lot of remixes and sound collage things as well. Not everything gets released, of course.

What is your favorite mashup of all time?

dj BC: It constantly changes. Classics are "Rapture Riders" by GHP (Blondie vs The Doors) and "Let It Be Me" by Soundwasta (Shaggy vs Beatles), but I also admire DJ Earworm's "United States of Pop" boots from 2007 and 2008, which took the top 25 tracks of the year and combined them.

He basically does what a lot of "10,000 source" DJ s try to do, does but in a much more coherent, musical, in-key and satisfying way than almost anyone. I also love LeeBuzz's "Easy Waiting" (Bob Marley vs Lionel Richie). I could go on and on, really.

[This article first appeared on Mashuptown.]

Ben Frost Interview

To call Ben Frost unique would be an understatement. The Australian-born experimental composer now resides in Iceland and is on the brink of releasing By the Throat, his second release on the Bedroom Community label. The album is a chilling listen that scans Frost’s environment, picking up on the majesty of nature, and the welcoming the sounds of its most primal inhabitants. Part Richard D. James, part David Suzuki, Frost’s cross between the digital world and nature creates a soundtrack which is as delicate as it is aurally impressive. In this interview Frost discusses his disdain for much of modern music, his collaboration with the Arcade Fire’s Jeremy Gara and his admiration for the world’s natural sounds.

Through your connection with Valgeir Sigur├░sson on the record, it didn’t surprise me to think of Medulla when listening to “Hibak├║sja.” And with “Leo Needs A New Pair of Shoes” I felt as though the track wouldn’t have been out of place amongst Aphex Twin’s Drukgs. Do you find yourself being influenced by other artists when creating your own compositions?

Ben Frost: I listen to a very limited palette of music nowadays, the vast majority of modern music bores me terribly.

Many of the songs on the album carry a very primitive, sort of animalistic sound (in “The Carpathians” it’s fairly explicit with the howling of wolves). The liner notes refer to the inclusion of orca recordings and also feature pictures of wolves. Was there an aim to make the album reflect the raw sounds of nature?

I have been perpetually fascinated by the natural world my whole life. By the Throat is certainly the most explicit example of that, but its always been there — I grew up surrounded by animals, and was always encouraged to explore that world. When I was leaving school I was very torn between art school and the zoology department, it’s a left brain right brain argument. The orca recordings I used in By the Throat were given to me by a marine biologist in Norway, Heike Vester, whose work I have followed for a number of years — she studies orca language, which fascinates me. The beginnings of By the Throat were born pouring over her hydrophonic recordings, often sleeping with them playing. My fascination with them probably goes back to my mother, reading me a book called The Killers of Eden when I was a small boy.

Sonically, as with most things, truth is stranger and more captivating than fiction. There is simply more honesty and more power in the tone produced by the snarl of a lion than by the same tone performed on a bass synth. I am not setting rules to make an “animal record,” these things, just make sense to me, I am not trying to be eccentric. I am inspired far more a by breathing snow leopard than by a new max patch.

This perpetual adoration of mediocrity, taking the past, the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s, or whatever is in fashion at the moment, and just microwaving it just makes me want to hardwire my radio to the BBC world service and never enter a record store again. It’s aural Botox. People demand so little from the music they listen to these days I don’t even blame these “artists” for supplying it to them — why bother struggling with art when you can be acclaimed for producing vapid, pointless drivel. I am actually working in Australia this week, this is particularly evident here.

If anything By the Throat is me expressing, explicitly, my need to hear things that scare me and shallow my breathing - I want flesh in my music, it has to bleed to mean something to me. It's just not enough to make the notes fit together for me anymore.

Winter also plays a significant roll in casting a particular feeling when browsing the liner notes. Is that feeling meant to reflect something of a bleakness within the sounds on the recording?

Have you ever seen a wolf pack running in the snow? Bleak is not my intention at all. By the Throat is a celebration of nocturnal, carnivorous joy — it’s not evil, it's simply visceral. It is drawn from, if anything, primal, elemental forces. I crave that, especially now. It is no coincidence to me that vampire culture is so en vogue again — clans, bloodlines, unity — we are not supposed to operate alone to the level we do, unplugging ourselves from the pack, our undeveloped caveman genes are screaming at us. Bleak? I cannot think of a time I have felt more joyful than when I was running around in that blizzard with those beasts.

Is there a relationship between Bill Murray’s character in the Ghostbusters movies and your songs “Peter Venkman (Parts 1 & 2)”?


If there is one, what is the concept behind the final three “Through the…” songs on the record.

In the early stages of this record, just after I was kind of done with Theory of Machines, I started listening very purposefully to quite a lot of ceremonial music, both western and eastern—music whose design is solely to convey a sense of order and ritual and provide space for something else to happen. It amazes me how instantaneous those ideas can be conveyed in that music, similarly though in some pop music like Control by Joy Division or Disintegration by the Cure. The elements of those pieces of music are all presented within the first four bars of the composition and they exist wholly, together, like “Fascination Street,” for example, an unchanging un-evolving rhythmical and melodic structure that simply provides a stage for Robert Smith’s voice.

Structurally this approach was the antithesis to Theory of Machines, and up until this point the majority of my work actually, where the idea has generally been to accentuate each element and its relationship to every other element - to build: the crux of “post rock.” This is simply not the case with By the Throat. My focus here is not the music, but the drama operating within it, and as such, for the most part the elements that create that space are there from the start, until the end, the point is to put you there and keep you there. I mean, it’s more like Part or maybe in a physical sense more like the Rothko room at the Tate Modern. In place of single infinitely detailed landscape, it's not about revelation of detail but presenting a three dimensional space whose singular atmosphere alters the drama that occupies it.

Also how did you become acquainted with Jeremy Gara & did he lend any insight during the recording of “Through The Mouth of Your Eye”?

Jeremy Gara was the Big Lebowski‘s rug for that piece, he just really tied the room together.

Dj Doc Rok Interview

When did you start making mashups?

Dj Doc Rok: I first started doing remixes of songs in late 2006, the first one was Mims "This Is Why I'm Hot." It was a vehicle to promote my production skills, I didn't mix it with another famous song I just put my own beat underneath it instead. I did this for about a year, exclusively with hip hop songs. Whenever a song came out that I thought had a weak beat ("This Is Why I'm Hot," "Crank Dat Soulja Boy," etc), I'd put my own beat underneath it and send it out to my email list. Then, in 2007, a friend sent me the American Gangster album a capellas about a week before everyone else had them, and I decided to sample Led Zeppelin tracks as the foundation for a whole remix album. I put the whole thing together in about three days, Perez Hilton posted it on his blog, and the rest, they say, is history.

Was there any other mashup producer, or producers, that inspired you to get started?

Dj Doc Rok: When I first started it was really just a novel idea to promote my beats.The American Zeppelin mashup/remix album was definitely inspired by the knowledge of Danger Mouse's Grey Album, though I hadn't had it specifically in mind when I started.

Have you had any legal threats or issues arise surrounding any of your bootlegs?

Dj Doc Rok: Yeah, the fuzz has been all up on my shit. After American Zeppelinblew up, they deleted my MySpace page due to "copyright complaints" and then a while later also randomly deleted my YouTube account too. Universal is pretty cool about allowing their stuff to be used creatively, Warner Brothers and Sony are complete dick holes. It also sucks because these projects really don't do anything but help expose all the people involved. I haven't made a cent off of any of the remixes I've ever done, but a lot of people have discovered either rock and roll or rap artists they didn't know they liked because it hadn't been presented in the unique way the remixes exposed them.

What is the last mashup you listened to that wasn't yours?

Dj Doc Rok: Eric Pryds vs Sean Paul Temperature, we played it at the Epic Dance Party last night. It's a banger.

How many mashups do you think you've made in your life?

Dj Doc Rok: I've done four album remix projects, American Zeppelin, Biggie Hendrix, 50 Cent's Golden Oldies and Motown Electronic, plus probably fifteen single remixes of songs. That's in between trying to get my own shit off the ground and working.

[This article first appeared on Mashuptown.]

Moby at Fine Line Music Cafe (Minneapolis, MN)

Video of Moby‘s October 1, 2009 show at the Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis, MN features performances of “Shot in the Back of the Head,” “Mistake,” Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” “Extreme Ways,” “Honey,” Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” and “Feeling So Real.”

Total Babe “Heavewave EP” Review

Following a brief musical introduction Clara Salyer opens Total Babe’s six song EP with the welcomed sound of her voice. Her gently slurred verses are slightly elevated over the guitar, drums and organ throughout the song, allowing her distinct hum to immediately make an impact. And even though I can’t really tell you exactly what she’s singing at all times, the effect of the collaboration of sounds within the song is one that is serene and full of warmth.

When I was in high school I essentially pissed my days away. I hated classes so much that I opted to take part in an apprenticeship where I trained to become a chef; hey, beats chemistry lab, am I right? But even at that, I really had no personal outlet, and spent my hours outside of the kitchen trying to find some sort of high to give me a feeling that I can only imagine the members of Total Babe have found through their music. At their age (as I’m writing this it just dawned on me that writing such a statement as “at their age” is bound make me sound like the oldest 26 year old alive) I would have given a lot to have just been around a group of people making music of this caliber, let alone have the patience and drive to focus on music as an outlet myself. At the age where I could typically be found passing around the peace pipe and watching the clouds go by the members of Total Babe were rocking TV commercials in Germany. As envious as I am, I’ll be damned if those clouds didn’t seem like the most interesting things in the world at the time.

“Gary Coleman,” the song used in the ads, allows a playful guitar line to bounce atop Lizzie Carolan’s violin, resulting in a blissful harmony that is aided by a handful of auxiliary instruments throughout the song. Whether it be the whistling that is repeated throughout “Shape Up,” or the rolling chorus of “Short Stories,” Heatwave has a consistent lighthearted feeling of airiness throughout—I mean that in the best way possible. Had I not searched out information on the band, I would have never guessed that the songs were created by a group of musicians so far away from the presumed age, and even upon discovering that I still find it a bit hard to believe. I dread saying something along the lines of “they’re playing music that is mature beyond their years,” “Total Babe is the next big thing,” or “you’ll be hearing about them a lot in future.” And I won’t. But if someone were to say any of those things, I wouldn’t disagree.