It’s been a year since my debut Burst Mode as 2020k was released.
This reflection isn’t quite what I wanted, but it’ll do.
If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ll know that I suffered a concussion in July 2016 that left me in quite a shambled state, then moved into Post-Concussion Syndrome territory. I’ve improved leaps and bounds, but there are still debilitating symptoms (mostly visual problems) that haven’t fully resolved themselves. As a result, the 2020k project came to an emergency halt before it truly began.
100% of this project was a labor of genuine love for the creative process, so even though I didn’t fully get to enjoy the run of the record, I have it playing quietly in the background right now and take so much pride in it. What I wanted for my first release was to approach Pop music from a DIY standpoint, allowing layers of sonic abstraction and authentic imperfection about the human condition among a torn political climate in the social media era to unveil slowly through each listen. Burst Mode accomplishes just that and I can confirm that there are several projects finished, waiting to come down the pipeline, it’s just a matter of getting better and back on my own two feet again.
That being said, I have immense gratitude to anyone who’s streamed, downloaded, or bought the physical version of this release, so far. My thanks to you are endless…it makes me emotional every time I remember that there are people out there paying attention to 2020k on a word of mouth level. Thank you so much and I hope you continue to enjoy this record.
An extra special thank you to my family, Andrew, friends, an endless list of doctors*, and acquaintances who’ve popped their heads in and supported me during my recovery.
This has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through and having such a solid support system has meant the world to me, especially in the early months of this, which were filled with moments when I thought my world was ending.
I mostly worked in solitude, but also recruited a few friends for co-production, mixing assistance, and art direction. If you like Burst Mode and you’re waiting for more work from me, please check out the others involved in this release… Scyye, Alexander Aultman, Kinesthetiac, Doors in the Labyrinth, and Wet Eyes. I’ve babbled about how lovely their music is for years and they’re well worth your ears!
Also, props to Shanna Logan who shot and edited the album cover photo; whose photography business has rightfully blown up. Christopher Leary is the only person involved in Burst Mode who I don’t personally know (yet), but my adoration of his work as Ochre has been unparalleled for years and his work in mastering this project worked so well, with minimal direction from me.
Thank you for understanding. Thank you for listening. Here’s to the rest of recovery & getting back to the music.
*except the asshole in the beginning, who told me I was a hypochondriac, but that I should still see him three times a week because he had the best concussion care. You are not thanked. You can absolutely go fuck yourself.
It’s been a year. As I continue to dive into more artistic endeavors, this blog has morphed. Gone are the days of reviews and Top lists (how can one artist judge another?), and here for now and the future are pieces and posts of things that musically intrigue me, conversations with other artists, overall a more depth filled look into the psyche of my creative and other creatives.
Though it was a quiet 2014 on this outlet, it was a loud, adventurous, productive one in all other facets of 2020k.
All proceeds from downloads of this compilation support the Macmillan Cancer Support.
There are too many people to name who I’ve met this year and am thankful for, that continuously believe in my creative ability and artistic intent. There are also far too many friendships that continue to weave themselves as trustworthy confidants, insightful musings, and incredible, irreplaceable people in my life. To name them all would be incredibly tedious. They know who they are, and I am far too grateful for each person.
Last but not least, I’m speechlessly enamored by every one who’s listened to the music, downloaded/bought the releases, come to the shows, and continue to follow the long, unfolding road that is 2020k. It’s cliche, but this is nothing without you. Thank you and here’s to 2015. Lots more to come… x
A new recording called “Sea Bound” by 2020k & Wet Eyes is featured on the second installment of the Touched. compilation series, titled Touched. Two.
Touched. Two has been curated by Martin Boulton (Min-Y-Llan) contains a huge track list of over 250 Electronic music artists, a mixed bag of legendary names like Plaid, Bibio, and Autechre from Warp Records, Orbital, Maps, Secede, Ulrich Schnauss, µ-Ziq, The Future Sound of London, Ochre, Christ., and 808 State, as well as up and coming artists and producers like Eyesix, Fil OK, Wet Eyes, 2020k, and Nootropix.
The juggernaut is around 18 USD. All of that money goes toward the Macmillan Cancer Support and gets you 23 hours of music in return. In just two days, this compilation has hit number one on Bandcamp’s top selling list of any format, raised over $5,000, and continues to grow.
“Sea Bound” is 2020k’s only proper studio recording released in 2014 and is embedded below for your listening pleasure. Just press play, and thank you for listening! Also, please consider downloading a copy of the compilation for yourself or spreading the word to friends, so we can all support this cause together.
Something way exciting happened. Check out the first 2020k audio interview via The AP Collection podcast. In it, Genevieve Barbee and I discuss a whole range of topics stemming from my music, this blog, my on-air DJ nights at Pittsburgh’s 91.3 FM WYEP, live shows, and more. There’s also a whole bunch of asides ranging from various authors, discussions about Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, number stations, and the Touched. project.
All of that information above and more is jam packed into this wonderful podcast. Genevieve and I pretty much spent the entire day together visiting The Roundabout Brewery, as well as rummaging through her book shelves, talking Pittsburgh entertainment & culture, and, of course, having the lovely conversation you hear below.
This blimp has been flying around London, at Oval Space, with the year 2014 written on one side, and the AFX logo on the other. There’s also been sightings of the AFX logo in New York City, right outside of Radio City Music Hall.
Does this mean a new record? A new live performance schedule? Has Richard D. James invested in a new blimp company? We don’t know right now, all we know is that the signs are out there and we’re anxiously awaiting what’s next.
Warp Records could not be reached for comment.
Disregarding the release of a Kickstarter oriented Caustic Window release, there’s not been a proper Aphex Twin album since 2001’s Drukqs (the one that brought us the brilliant “Avril 14th” track) [iTunes]. And you thought the Boards of Canada hiatus was long…
Note: This is a developing story. Just like the Tomorrow’s Harvest saga, 2020k will update this article every step of the way as well as live tweet and occasionally Facebook update developments.
UPDATE #1: Aphex Twin has Tweeted a link to http://syro2eznzea2xbpi.com/ which contains possible album artwork information, as well as eerie information in regards to what kind of computer you’re operating and where you were sent from.
UPDATE #2: If you access the tweeted link through the Deep Web, you’ll unlock the tracklisting, which is as follows:
After announcing her release from Universal/Interscope Records contract via Twitter, Azealia Banks unleashes her first unsigned release, with a music video by Rob Soucy and Nick Ace.
The Lil Internet produced “Heavy Metal and Reflective” sees Banks being the cool indie chick she’s always wanted to be, with a spacious, risque composition that almost completely lacks a hook, and visuals that recall a traditional version of something M.I.A. would think up in the last five years.
The song is also available for download on iTunes right now!
3 hours ago Billboard.com posted a seemingly cryptic teaser of a new Daft Punk influenced, disco infused snippet of music. Uploaded via a private track through Billboard’s official Soundcloud.com account, there are no leads except for the text.
The last we properly heard from Madge was 2012’s MDNA [review], but we’ve since seen rise in activity through her Art For Freedom campaign, as well as announcements that Diploand Avicii have been called on board to produce the upcoming Madonna record.
Oh, and remember that time she answered one of my questions during a Reddit Ask Me Anything segment?
Click here to be directed to the article & hear the snippet.
Given the vogue and shape shifter references…our bet’s on Madonna.
“I can hear something in a piece of media and I can co-opt myself in that narrative or alter it, even.”– Mark Ronson
Producer Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, Christina Aguilera) appeared as one of the latest installations in the TED Talk series. In a segment titled “How sampling changed music,” the talented Englishman spends seventeen minutes chronicling the heart behind sampled music, a historical overview behind Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick’s “La Di Da Di,” and even goes as far as live mixing aspects of TED talks and the TED theme music.
Uploaded to YouTube on May 9th, 2014, Ronson’s humble charm comes across, as always, wonderfully in his speech and is one to check out. Watch below!
Mark Ronson’s latest solo record Record Collection was released September 28th, 2010 [iTunes]
In a musical world pipe-lined by corporate businesses meant to drive record sales through mass-accessibility, truly honest records at the end of a musical fad are understandably difficult to come in contact with. Massive Attack and Portishead pioneered the Bristol sound, but by the end of the 20th Century’s Trip-Hop phase, there had been enough copycat releases that meant to capitalize off the sound to build an army. Toronto’s singer-songwriter Jenny-Bea Englishman and producer Martin “Doc” McKinney broke the mold of imitation by releasing a brutally untainted, incorruptible Downtempo debut Breath From Another, under the duo moniker Esthero.
What’s described above and is saving face for records like 1998’s Breath From Another is the status quo of cult classics, and their extraordinary ability to infiltrate the mass market quietly, but ultimately remain under the radar. Englishman and McKinney were able to bubble up through film spots (“Lounge” in Zero Effect, “That Girl” in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and Boiler Room, and “Country Livin’ (The World I Know)” remixed by Goodie Mob for the Slam Soundtrack), but simmer down enough to have one of the most respected, touching debut records in the niche-electronic scene.
Released on April 28th, 1998 through the shifting music trends, the project garnered enough strength to transport eclectic grooves through the hearts 250,000+ sales, and many more listeners as the way to listen and consume music altered through time.
Here, we take a look back at the inhalations and heaven sent vibes of which embody the blue aura and multifaceted spirit of Breath From Another. From the words of Englishman to 2020k, past interviews, liner notes, and more, below is an exploration of an album’s heart and what causes it to strongly beat sixteen years on.
Half a World Away…
Though the origin of Downtempo music in the 90’s stemmed mostly from European vibes, Esthero hemmed their craft in North America, Canada. Meeting through EMI affiliated terms, the two created six demos that perked the ears of Sony Music enough to sign them to their Work Group (Jamiroquai, Jennifer Lopez, Len) imprint. Obviously impressed, a promo EP entitled Short of Breath was released, featuring four tracks of which couldn’t be more diverse from one another. A few months later, Breath From Another followed.
Not only is the Esthero project half a world away geographically, it’s also distinct in influences. In an uncomfortable interview with Darren Gwele, Doc offers a shimmering light about the multitude of genres featured on Breath From Another. “I like to call it a ‘salad bowl’ concept – there’s all different flavours in there, but they all maintain their own shit – nothing gets pushed together. That’s the cool thing about crossing shit over, if you can maintain the individual identity of the different things and respect them for what they are then it can be really cool.”
Somehow, diversity suits Esthero’s debut record well. In a melting pot, ingredients from the Pop, Jazz, and Electronica spectrum mix themselves amongst guitar layers, atmospheric vocals, and lite drum ‘n’ bass, dub inspired rhythms. Perhaps the most interesting use of instrumentation comes on “Flipher Overture,” in which Rami Jaffee (Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, and keyboardist for The Wallflowers) plays an Optigan, an instrument manufactured by Mattel in 1971 that produces lo-fi instrumentation through prerecorded optical discs and was manufactured for the consumer environment, not professional.
“Flipher Overture” seems to be one of the most interesting pieces of music, despite its short-coming of only being forty-two seconds long. Cee-Lo Green looped the interlude on the song “Champain” from his mixtape Cee-Lo & Greg Street Present… Stray Bullets, and it’s without question why. Potentially named for being the overture of the B-side on Breath From Another’s vinyl edition (FlipHer Overture, get it?), the song soars through string and guitar arrangements that recall melodic aspects of classical music, while fast paced rhythms scream for tyrant Electronica to march the composition forth.
The sheer amount of production, engineering, and compositional work that represents the whole of Esthero’s Breath From Another is largely overlooked for the controversy surrounding Doc and Jenny’s personal friendship (which has destructed), and replaced with babbling comparisons to Bjork and Sade. Sure, Englishman sounds obscure, and she does one good Bjork impersonation, but it’s a defining quality, and one that was wrongly objectified time and time again for being a rip off. Some could argue it’s typical Girl Vs. Girl journalistic sexism at its cliched finest, but no one can argue against talent, which Esthero surely has an abundant amount of (check out The Chris Rock Show performance of “Heaven Sent” if you’re unsure).
Anywayz, Breath From Another has absolute wonderful mixing work from Doc McKinney, as well as Dave “Hard Drive” Pensado, Jeff Griffin, Warren Riker, Blair Robb, and Abacus. As well as engineering work from Kyle T. Hamilton, with a gorgeous mastering job by Eddy Schreyer and Gene Grimaldi at Oasis Mastering. Just how wonderful is it to know that Breath From Another has an average dynamic range of 10dB, as well as a maximum dynamic range of 11dB on two tracks (and this is from the lossy version, no less).
The way songs flow and are given space, the debut record from Esthero can translate beautifully in just about any pair of speakers, and reveal its layers of beauty over time, with each listen.
The lyrical love design inside of Esthero’s debut is a wonderful adventure through the life and times of the passionate adolescence. Jenny wrote most of the material for Breath From Another when she was between sixteen and seventeen years old, and while the record does exhale quite a few exasperated growing pains, the language of which encompasses this album speaks so vaguely, but distinctly of its subject matter that the humanistic appeal of the record is nothing short of magnificent.
Interestingly enough, fervency flourishes at younger ages and Englishman knows it. In an interview with David D. Robbins Jr., she recalls the vigorous writing process “[the debut] was written from the perspective of a 17-year-old girl. And when you’re 17, you’re fucking passionate. Because everything is new, everything is fucking now, do or die. You get older and get a little more relaxed. I think a lot of that comes from the passion of being young.”
In the same conversation with Robbins, the songstress would also give out more information into the motives behind Breath From Another’s lyrical themes. Stating, “A lot of the songs came from a very personal place. A lot of it came from trying to find strength in myself. I didn’t want to be the whiny jilted lover. ”
Breath From Another tells stories with cryptic enthusiasm. From the title track’s opening scratches from DJ Grouch from the movie Deliverance. To the uplifting change of complete structure in the song’s chorus, “Breath From Another” tells us not to compromise what’s gold for the soul you never sold, while the song’s verses and raps from Shug and Meesah brood a tale of desperation.
Brayden Baird provides Breath From Another with one of the more memorable, optimistic moments through his melodic trumpet on the popped out, almost bubbly “That Girl,” then comes back around to join Trombonist Evan Cranley, Tenor Sax player Ewan Miller for an outstanding brass section, put together by Doc, on “Lounge.” On “Lounge,” Jenny Englishman took to her blog, Esthero in Progress in May 2010 to discuss the meaning of the song, saying she had no idea what she wrote that about, because music is more of a visual, phonetic tool to her, then went on to describe a scene full of sophistication and dismay of which inspired the lyrics. Her imagination, if you will.
Even further, 2020k spoke with Englishman two years ago, and asked if she could share any specific memories she had while making the debut album. Specifically, we asked “When someone says Breath From Another to you now, is there anything in particular you think about?” In response, she spoke “I think of the first time I was in the studio and the first song we wrote, which was ‘Superheros.’ It’s been a while, I was a kid, a baby.”
Then, she turned quiet. Too quiet – like a pregnant pause that’s gone on for far too long, but the kind of pause that’s filled with deep thought – reflection, with a silent retrospective back in time.
Finally, she solemnly clued me in on “Swallow Me,” arguably the record’s most confessional song. “…and then I think of the very end of that record, which was ‘Swallow me,’ and what that song meant to me, just as far as overcoming fear.”
The conclusion to this acknowledgement of song meaning is perhaps some of the most open we’ve seen Jenny-Bea Englishman be in regards to Breath From Another. Almost apprehensively, she continued discussing “Swallow Me” with just one more sentence, “I wrote that in a hotel…” she paused again, before allowing one melancholic, lone word to complete the sentence “…alone.”
In conversation between Esthero and 2020k, the ethereal siren cracked jokes and ended on a conscientious note. “It’s funny, I think of that record and I don’t know if I feel sad, or I feel old,” she laughs. “But, I’ve come a long way. It was a special record and was born out of a very specific combination of people…at a specific time and place.”
For reasons still not disclosed, Jenny and Martin had a falling out and the Esthero moniker became a pseudonym specifically for Englishman’s solo ventures. While the two came together for two tracks on Breath From Another’s 2005 follow up Wikked Lil’ Grrrls (“If Tha Mood” and “Bad Boy Clyde” respectively), Esthero boasted over never working with Doc again in a 2005 interview with Exclaim.
Regardless, Breath From Another is one of the staples in Electronic music that is impossible to ignore. The artistic chemistry created by Englishman, McKinney, and their engineering team is a rarity in any form of the music industry. The giving of breath from all parties involved with the Esthero debut to us is a gift that should be taken with the utmost graciousness and respect.
Music was the lamb that made a lion out of me.
Happy Birthday, Breath From Another.
Breath From Another by Esthero was released April 28th, 2014 [iTunes]
Music Was the Lamb that Made a Lion Out of Me…
To celebrate sixteen years of Breath From Another we’re giving away one copy of the album by Esthero!!!!!!!
This copy was a copy bought on International Record Store Day in 2013, in which it was saved from the clearance bin. I needed to save it, I felt completely obligated. I’d seen this disc sitting in the suburban town I lived in for 23 years and knew that it’d been on that shelf since at least 2008. Why? It has nothing to do with the music’s content, surely, but sadly not too many people in suburbia want anything to do with alternative music (which relates back to the opening paragraph of this article). The world I know is a world too slow, basically. This is a used copy of the US CD version of Breath From Another, as it was purchased to support a physical music store.
To win, there are a few different ways:
First way to win: You must follow 2020k on Facebook. This automatically enters you! After you’ve followed, like or share this article. For every like or share you’ll receive one additional entry. Bonus points if you leave a comment sharing an Esthero related story or letting us know your favorite Esthero song.
Third way to win: Send an email to email@example.com with the subject line “2020k Breath From Another Entry!” and let us know your name, as well as an Esthero related story or favorite Esthero song. A few more lines wouldn’t hurt either. 😉 One entry per email allowed.
Recently, I went to a Cults show where guitarist Brian Oblivion was visibly aggravated. Throughout the set, his mic was inaudible, Madeline Follin’s vocals were lost in the layers of guitar effects, and before their set a freezing crowd stood outside in almost below zero temperatures while a water main break down the street prevented the venue from letting them inside. Somehow, someone convinced the venue that it would be better to have clogged toilets and warm fans than constipated, dead ones and they let the fans inside. Another incident, I saw a Daughter concert [here] that found vocalist Elena Tonra suffering the same sonically lost fate that Cults would a few months later. Oh, and one time Crystal Castles’ sound blew out [here].
Sadly, most mishaps do not seem to be at the fault of the band. Live sound is tricky and got a reputation [pun] of being imperfect, but tonight at Stage AE, M.I.A. suffered through a set plagued with countless sound issues that hindered the hour and four minute long set on April 28th, 2014.
“Turn my motherfucking mic up on stage,” she snarled multiple times between songs. Eventually, she stopped the show to ask if the sound was as bad in the audience as she was hearing it. It wasn’t, mostly. It was indeed difficult to decipher Maya’s words at times, but it’s hard to get a mix perfect when it’s just a DJ & vocalist. You try mixing a mastered instrumental against live vocals and not have moments during song structure changes where the vocalist doesn’t get buried by a sonic portion of the track. Regardless, the mix was apparently so bad at one point Arulpragasam stopped rapping the first verse of “Warriors,” turned to the dancers, turned to the DJ, composed herself, and continued along at the chorus.
Mic feedback screeched through several songs.
For comparison purposes, the entire Pittsburgh show was very reminiscent of the looks she gave during her censored “Paper Planes” performance on David Letterman [here].
Beyond mishaps, M.I.A.’s short, but powerful set at Pittsburgh’s Stage AE was packed with high energy, and high talent. The majority of her back catalog is brilliantly remixed and re-imagined beyond their original form to fit in with the theme of her latest record Matangi.
While the rapper drove the Google is connected to the government message home via sitting at a computer for the opening number “The Message,” the rest of the show was met with just a few dancers, a carnival-esque amount of Matangi themed lights, and two numbers in which she invited fans on stage to dance and charmingly interact with her.
Toward the end of the concert, M.I.A. asks the DJ not to go into the next song. What happens next? You guessed it – “Bad Girls” starts to play. While you can watch footage of this happening below, it’s worth noting that bad girls do it well [reference]. “Holy shit,” she laughs with the crowd. Only so many things can go wrong before you start laughing and one thing Maya knew to do was laugh along with the people who stood by her.
Bad night aside, she soldiered through everything and did so with elegance. There’s a vibe about M.I.A. that completely embodies the overused term swag. That vibe is amplified 500% when you’re in the same room as her.
She absolutely killed her entire performance with power, power.
Story To Be Told
Partysquad Intro/Bucky Done Gun
Bring the Noise
Double Bubble Trouble
The redheads were saved tonight [reference] as the encore was cut from the set. According to the paper setlist, it was supposed to be “Born Free.”