Introducing, the first article from our new 2020k contributor, Fiona Gladstone!
Hi there. Bit confused that this isn’t RJ? Me too, but bear with me. RJ has given me permission to write music blogs for 2020k so expect gig reviews and tracks all the way from London. So, here goes.
I am really into promoting unsigned music. It’s great that there are always bands passionate to break through and be the next big thing, it keeps music interesting. The reason myself and 2020k first got in touch is through his support for July Child, an unsigned London duo that I am currently writing for. It’s fantastic being part of such an exciting project and I have huge belief that they are going to be a success.
Another of my favourite unsigned musicians is Matt Belmont. I originally came across him at Bingley Festival in Yorkshire during the Sunderland born singer’s first festival, and he has had my attention ever since. After self-recording and producing his 2012 debut EP Not Coming Down, he has reached the top 100 of the UK’s official itunes chart and featured in the YouTube top 50 most watched music chart. He has since played the backstage VIP tent at Glastonbury Festival 2013 and is currently producing his second EP Roots.
Matt carries intense emotion in his voice, there are quivers and a roughness that truly capture the depth of his lyrics. It’s welcoming how his choruses aren’t perfect mimics throughout the song, making his music beautifully raw and bare; a refreshing change from the churn of audio enhanced music that can haunt our airwaves.
Here’s his single “Only Love” from the EP Not Coming Down. If you like this, it is definitely worth checking out his live sessions on YouTube – a natural talent.
This is a recurring infrasound guest post by Amber Waves over atOpen ‘Til Midnight. Inside are five tracks – mostly independent acts from Canada – that have found their way onto Waves’ radar. Be sure to check out this month’s posting by 2020k on OTM’s blog monthly as well with the same premise, called Hidden Gems.
Oh my God, I think Spring may have finally sprung! I think I saw actual sunshine out there, and I dared wear my pleather coat outside and did not incur hypothermia.
To celebrate, allow me to share with you a few tracks that have echoed the prolonged cold of the winter months or bring a little light into 2014.
“Cold Without You” – Krystale
Montreal’s Krystale has crafted a sound she describes as electro-soul: a fusion of jazz, indie-electric and island influences that offers a new take on the soundscapes created by the likes of Erykah Badu with the introspection of Janelle Monae’s ballads. “Cold Without You” is a tale of longing and loss woven into an ethereal world of water-trickling percussion and synth and a bass-laced rhythm that evokes a more uptempo shimmy than might be expected. Krystale has a great sound and beautiful pipes and is one to watch on the Canadian scene this year.
“Communion” – Black Walls
Toronto-area artist Black Walls released his album Communion earlier this year and it’s an intriguing, enigmatic collection of songs. The impetus behind the compositions being the passing of his father, it’s no surprise that themes of isolation, childhood, attachment and detachment slip in and out of the post-rock and ambient layers. The title track is particularly stellar, ebbing and flowing, building slowly as if straining to reach beyond the inky night sky to something more… someone now gone. Recorded alone at night, Black Walls is indeed a musical dish best served through headphones in the shadows.
“Ghosts” – Thick As Thieves
Los Angeles band Thick As Thieves landed on OTM’s radar after discovering folk-pop singer-songwriter Sunday Lane (whose sophomore album From Where You Are easily made our top albums of 2012 list). Lane’s folk-pop sensibilities are a perfect fit for the band’s established exploration of the intersections of classic rock, rap and R&B. The result is music as catchy as any pop hit, but with layered emotional depth and edgier elements.
The video for “Ghosts” — one of the strongest compositions on their EP These Days — is sheer brilliance: a symbolic representation of being haunted by feelings for a love now long gone plays out as Pac-Man tumbles into a downward spiral after being left by Ms. Pac-Man. Touching, amusing and highly creative, it brings the song to life better than anything I could have imagined.
“Beauty’s Bones” – Villa Kang
Toronto artist Villa Kang lives and breathes in the realm of electronic music where EDM is shunned for the more classic playful vibe of synths, vocals layers and hand claps as accent. Think Passion Pit circa Manners, sans sped up vocals. Rich in bass, “Beauty’s Bones” treads that fine line between dark tones and shimmering, airy melodies to mirror the struggle between beauty ideals and one’s self-acceptance. Heavy material and lightness of sonic being.
A solid debut and good omen for his forthcoming EP, I may have found something to tide me over until Michael Angelakos decides to treat me to a post-Gossamer release.
“Mug Shot” – MAX
I’m a huge Marshmallow (read: Veronica Mars fan), so needless to say, I snagged a copy of the soundtrack to the movie I backed on Kickstarter, featuring this track right here. MAX — Max Schneider, a fellow Marshmallow! — delivers a ridiculously catchy fusion of Motown soul elements and pop in “Mug Shot”. Let’s just say this is my daily jam, and I’m often caught singing it at work. If James Brown were born in the late eighties, I imagine he’d be crafting a sound something like this.
Bonus points: the video’s pretty damn fun to watch. Enjoy! (And check out Veronica Mars because that show is amazing and the film is a delicious cherry on top.)
That’s all for this month! Be sure to come check out RJ’s post at OTM, Hidden Gems.
“I sit at the familiar computer and try to sketch out an idea from my head and go through several drafts until I get the one to call the ‘final’.” – eyesix
Deep in the heart of the Alternative Electronic scene is a world that seems to hang on to a distant memory. Pioneered by cult status record labels, both web-oriented and established businesses, these musical types are far and between each other, but always come out disturbingly pristine and layered with gorgeous melodies and brilliant compositional work. Jason Dowd, known as eyesix, contributes to this multi-genre with his two releases – a self-titled EP and his latest record Limerence.
Luckily enough, I was given the opportunity to hold a small question and answer session via email with eyesix for the 2020k blog. What transpired was a great conversation about the inner psyche of electronica, as well as what inspires, and what makes up the music and individual who is Jason Dowd.
Have a read below and give the record a try..you won’t be disappointed with either.
eyesix? Do you have six eyes? Just the two, I’m afraid. Although, I nearly lost the right one a couple of nights ago at a friend’s going-away party, in a “fight” with a table. Escaped with a few stitches, a tasty scar, and a trip to the emergency room.
There’s a thick line between infatuation and limerence. Considering the magnitude of the latter word, what caused your debut LP and title track to be called Limerence?
That’s a tricky one, ha. I had planned to name the album “Maryland”, after another tune, but the guys at Sparkwood Records much preferred “Limerence”, and I felt that was the strongest track I had for the album. So I agreed without much thought – I liked the sound of the word. But it does have a personal meaning to me, especially when the track was done. I had never heard of the word, but it felt fitting at the time for the track, and for myself. I’m glad it ended up being named what it was, not a lot of people know what the word means. I think I got it off some ‘Word of the Day’ type thing, but it was fitting to be fair.
In the liner notes for your record, you thank the Twoism family. Seeing as though this is a nod to the Boards of Canada community, it’s apparent the Scottish duo has influenced your work. What other muses (musical or otherwise) have guided your creative work?
Yeah, I met a lot of good people through Twoism. A lot of friends that have helped me out, and guys I have worked with. I love the community there, cool meeting place for people with similar taste in stuff as myself, so I’m a frequent visitor. Boards of Canada, Christ., Freescha, Twoism-heads etc. have all been major influences. I listen to a lot of psychedelic stuff from the 60’s also, before I got into electronic music. I’m a huge fan of Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd, but I remember discovering Boards of Canada with “Everything you Do Is A Balloon,” and it just seemed to settle into all the right neurons – I was hooked and have been since. Boards have been a huge part of my life, more so than a lot else.
Electronica music is known for being abstract, both inside the musical nature and of the artist itself. If you could tell the world anything about yourself or the music you make, what would you let the listeners know?
For me, I think it would be if you want to give it a go, grab some software and keep at it. You don’t need thousands of quid worth of gear, and I certainly don’t have it, but I tried to make tunes years back when I was skating, on Reason, and they were god-awful, so I quit. I picked it up again about 18 months ago and that’s my main tool and I’m glad I got back into trying to make electronic music, although I’m very uneducated on the tech side, I think anybody can have fun and get tunes going if they want. No excuse with all the information at your fingertips these days, except laziness, which I’m guilty of too, ha.
One of the tags on the Sparkwood Records Bandcamp page for the record is nostalgia. Is it a conscious or unconscious decision to recall the past inside of your music? To be honest, it’s just a sound or a theme in a lot of music that I enjoy and so I do deliberately try to emulate that, for sure. I love things that sound dusty, old and degraded, yet beautiful. I do try to achieve some aspects of that, but I don’t feel like I have yet… maybe in time, ha. It definitely appeals to me very much, and I can’t pinpoint why, as I’m sure so many others can’t who find that sound so intriguing. I think that’s part of the mystique – you feel something, but it’s hard to know exactly what, or why. There’s also incessant background chatter that can be heard through the stereo images of several tracks off the record.
Speaking of the background chatter, are there any specific soundbites on the record (vocal or not) that contain a certain significance to you?
None hold any real personal significance. I just source them online and use them where I see fit, to try create a certain tone or atmosphere. I think it’s most evident in “Sunsets on Skyscrapers”, especially combined with the video I made using edited footage from the brilliant Koyaanisqatsi [film]. It was an attempt to convey the pace of modern life, in a major city, that never really sleeps, and people repeat the same routine, day-in day-out. But mostly it’s there because I think it suits the tracks in some way or another, even if it’s just that I think its sounds nice, and works.
Is there any sort of insight in regards to how the music comes about? In broader words, how do you see creativity?
I studied graphic design in college, and worked as a designer for a while, and probably will again, and I see a big comparison between both worlds, for me at least. I sit at the familiar computer and try to sketch out an idea from my head and go through several drafts until I get the one to call the ‘final’. But at that stage, you’re sick of listening to/looking at your stuff, that you can’t critique it at all, so I usually ask my friends for advice, or wait a few days for fresh ears/eyes.
Are there any musical go-to processes you gravitate toward when creating a song?
Always a melody or some pads for me, that’s where I find I get the rest of the ideas, and sees the directions a track could go in. It’s always that way for me, I’ll fiddle about drawing some notes or mess with a midi keyboard and the rest comes secondary.
“Maryland” and “Idaho Transfer” both reference United States locations. In addition, they’re seemingly two of the more funereal songs on the record. How do geographical concepts get chosen to be represented on an eyesix project?
To be blunt, they don’t. “Idaho Transfer” is the title of an old sci-fi film, I believe, [though] I’ve not even seen it. I tend to just make a track, and if I pick up on something after, or sometimes during, that suits, I just name it that. Not a whole lot of thought goes into the titles to be honest; I just try to pick something interesting and suitable.
Tell us about “Drifting” – it seems to be shaping up to be quite a great project! “Drifting” is the new collaboration track between myself, and the super talented Shane Anthony. It was great to work with Shane, having been a big fan of his previous work. We decided to work on a track together and perhaps submit it for the next volume of ‘One on Twoism’, which we did. We were both very pleased with the outcome; Shane did some great work building on some of my small ideas. We are working a bit on a second track now also, and hope to put out an EP at least, we have a theme in mind, and we work well together and think alike, I think! So I’m excited about that and what may come from this project. I’ve done a video for drifting as I always like to have visuals for the tracks I enjoy, but it won’t surface until the track is chosen or not.
What’s in the future for eyesix? We see you’ve submitted to the One on Twoismcompilation series for the 2014 year. Any thing else coming up in the future?
Hard to say man, we submitted our aforementioned collaboration tune and I submitted one of my own. Still have a lot of sketches for tunes, but personally I would like to continue to, over the course of the next few months, build a release with Shane, perhaps under a pseudonym for our collaboration project (which we haven’t discussed). Other than that, just chilling, waiting to get my stitches out and a move away from the Green Isle may be on the cards.
Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot made a pit-stop at a McDonalds in Nizhny Novgorod before heading off to visit the penal colony where Maria was once imprisoned for Pussy Riot’s infamous punk prayer. While there, a group of men maliciously attacked the two with paint, trash, pepper spray, green antiseptic, other weapons, and verbal assaults.
Alekhina can be heard asking for the police while Tolokonnikova shouts out “it hurts,” and asks why the group of men why they are carrying out the unprovoked attack.
According to The Guardian, a police spokeswoman stated “They can say it was a provocation by the law enforcement authorities. The law enforcement authorities can say it was a PR-stunt by Pussy Riot. We don’t deal with rumours.”
The video below shows the aftermath, as well as the act itself.
Three recent creative outputs from Ghostly International have captured my ears and peaked my interest in the last couple of weeks. While I’ve yet to try the Ghostly Huron River Roast, these are three upcoming and released projects by some of the finest of the first quarter of 2014 on the record label. Whether you still envision Tom Cruise when listening to Com Truise, don’t know how to pronounce HTRK (hint, it’s Hate Rock) or you’re trolling 1-900 numbers with Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Tobacco, these three artists have some great tricks up their sleeves that I’m happy to listen to in between recording, report on, and share here.
Accessible sci-fi textures and analogue melodies brilliantly find their way into Com Truise’s recent concept EP Wave 1. Released February 18th, the extended play finds New Jersey artist Seth Haley expounding upon the 2011 LP Galactic Melt concept about the world’s first synthetic/robotic astronaut. Outstandingly structured, the songs sequence uniquely as a narrative that instrumentally explores a universe the project is named after. Auditory, the songs encompass musical power as well as evoke lighthearted imaginary visuals. Electronics soar through up-tempo floor stomps like “Mind” and the polished throwback pop-vibed “Declination (featuring Joel Ford),” eventually segueing into the shining “Subsonic” and slower title-track. Wave 1 is available now through Ghostly. Com Truise is also on tour.
Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang bravely recorded the eight songs embodied on Psychic 9-5 Club on their own after the death of Sean Stewart, which makes sultry-laced HTRK release a bittersweet one. Nevertheless, the project’s lead single “Blue Sunshine” dismally flickers against gleaming minimalist-production, leading the song to pour soul-ripping emotion about turmoil that yearns for a healthy dose of inner peace, dying to have it. Ghostly states that a theme of love runs throughout this release and lyrically, Psychic 9-5 Club contains an over all theme of “exploring the complexities of sexuality and the body’s reaction to personal loss, though there’s room for wry humour—a constant through much of the best experimental Australian music of the past few decades.” The album is currently up for pre-order at Ghostly, and is due out April 1st, 2014.
Fellow Pittsburgh Native and 2020k favorite Tobacco announced a new record called Ultima II Massage, which will be his first release on Ghostly (Fucked Up Friends and Maniac Meat were released on Anticon). While no new material has fully surfaced, the artist did display some new sonic ground through a short-lived hotline number that debuted on his Facebook page yesterday. The 1-844-TOBAXXO number was instantly crushed with calls and forced offline, but expanded upon the wonderfully immoderate display of character that accompanies Tobacco videos and shows (and sometimes gets him into trouble). Within the four lubricious and vulgar recording options to choose from contained buzzy synthesized beats and a prank call conversation that contained two Western Pennslyvania “Yinzers” discussing various hilarity. While the number might come back eventually, Radcult.net is currently prepping for and vinyl pre-orders, as well as offering new T-shirts that are available now. A first round of tour dates have also been announced.
I’m happy to share with you that over the last few months, I’ve been working on a project that is shaping up to be what will become my first full length record. More than a handful of songs have been crafted through hours of solitude in my studio, during hour long commutes to and from work, through small iPhone notes in the middle of dinner, in the dead of night, in the early morning, some with friends, some alone.
Fruition of some of this music to your ears is tentative for this year.
Live performance is imminent.
The artist in me has such an urge for creation. It’s an urge that can no longer be ignored – the pressure needs release.
This blog will update less frequently. The focus of it from here on out will be directed more toward infrasound articles, interviews, information regarding innovative projects, and sometimes shorter, but potent content (my articles at ATV, OTM, and Netlabelism will remain spaciously in tact).
Keeping in contact (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr) won’t change, in fact I encourage you to keep the conversation going. It drives me. The best part of technology is having a mutual platform to exchange words, images, ideas, etc. That said, these outlets will still contain things that inspire me, as well as be a space to communicate as much as possible with you. Follow them for developments as they come about.
Even more, I’m resigning my full time position as a customer service representative to completely dedicate my life to music. This is not a move I recommend to anyone. It’s risky. I’m hoping the customers that interact with me and sometimes purposefully hurt my feelings will understand. But, I’m hoping even more that the readers and supporters of my work will follow and enjoy this metamorphosis. Ultimately, this is for you.
With that said, thank you for reading this. I appreciate each and every one of you more than I can express. As soon as I can, I promise to assault your ears with audible touches, Contagious lyrics, and more as projects complete.
All proceeds donated to the 2020k EP will go toward creative funding. Download.
Want nightmares? Check out the artwork for Yonatan Ayal, aka xSDTRK‘s latest musical piece, “Chaos”.
Want to live those nightmares? Those awesome, dense electronic nightmares? Listen to the song itself, created by multi-instrumentalist.
As part of an upcoming project called the Canvas EP, “Chaos” reigns in a progressive look inside an electronic world that’s seemingly un-illuminated, built from disillusioned party talk, and scorched inside unfeigned pandemonium. xSDTRK paints the after-hours feeling of combatant disruption through a progressive song structure, bordering along a more impenetrable expansion of Burial experimentation, and a lingering vibe that’s reminiscent of the quiet moments in “Tetsuo: The Bullet Man Theme [listen]” from industrial-crossover veterans Nine Inch Nails.
All roots aside, Ayal’s capability as a producer and composer continue to show absolute strength, and countless instances of sonic expansion that portray kosher despair in deeply emotive blood, as much as it shows technically skill.
Jump into the Chaos below, grab the free download, and follow xSDTRK on Twitter and Facebook.
Welcome to the party.
If you missed our feature on Toronto based xSDTRK last year [here], then here’s your chance to hop on board again.
This is a monthly infrasound guest post by Amber Waves over atOpen ‘Til Midnight. Inside of these issues are five tracks – mostly independent acts from Canada – that have found their way onto Waves’ radar. Be sure to check out this month’s posting by 2020k on OTM’s blog monthly as well with the same premise, called Hidden Gems.
Happy February, 2020k! If you’re reading this on posting day, allow me a little pride strut as Team Canada is leading the medals board for the first time EVER. Rah! Aren’t our skiing sisters the coolest? I adore their support of each other.
Being as I’m feeling a little international, allow me to share a mix of tracks from all over the world to brighten those snowy commutes (or, for you lucky souls in warmer climates, accompany your sunshine-y days) and get you grooving.
“In Between Living And Dying” – Morgan Doctor
With an impressive resume stretching back to age 10, when she first laid hands on drumsticks, Toronto’s Morgan Doctor is a force to be reckoned with. Having shared stages and touring line-ups with The Cliks, Cyndi Lauper, Tegan and Sara and Andy Kim, Morgan also creates her own solo works. On her third album, Major Over Minor, Doctor locked herself away and chose to craft an instrumental album. The results are subtly confessional and intriguing listens. Have a listen to one of my favourites, a tune evocative of the darkest days of the year.
“Fall Of The Summer Heart” – The Foreign Films
Hamilton’s The Foreign Films has carved out this wonderful new genre of sound you might call “cutting-edge nostalgic”. Blending the timeless sounds of the 60′s greats who created a path for generations of artists with ingenious electronic elements, the man behind the moniker — Bill Majoros — has built a world where the familiar pulls the heart in while the innovative engages the mind. Foreshadowing his forthcoming new album, single “Fall Of The Summer Heart” is a 13-minute song cycle and it’s stunning — the ambitiousness of the concept truly pays off for listeners.
“No Name” – Colornoise
Costa Rica’s Colornoise bill themselves as experimental noise rock, but don’t mistake them for the hipster sort of the genre (I’m looking at you, old school Sonic Youth). Think of them more as the introspective stoners who toe the line between traditional prog and more of a meandering post-rock. Their latest album, Polychronic is a series of cautionary messages about societal control, conformity and a failure to embrace what we love fully.
“Face To Face” – Ohio
Contrary to their moniker, Ohio hails from Toronto, although the sly hints of rockabilly beneath their synth rock might conjure up the Delta more readily than the dusted hills of snow I glare at on my daily commute. Known for their playful and sardonic lyrical sense (aside: they’ve written a song about Rob Ford — excited, RJ?), “Face To Face” is an odd track with no album to call home that doesn’t want to belong to your status quo of albums anyway. So there.
“Stand By Me” – Playing For Change
This song isn’t new. This version is six years old. So why am I sharing it right now?
Well, it’s a bad-ass cover. Let’s be real. It’s true to the original without lacking in its own spirit and flavour. What makes it truly remarkable and inspiring at this time is the way it was assembled: each musician was added piece by piece as the song traveled the globe. The result: a piece of music that unites us all in message and in its existence alone.
In thinking of Sochi and the atrocious way LGBTQ people are being treated, in examining the highly questionable financial decisions made by Russia and the pockets lined, it’s heartwarming to see our athletes focused on sports, on a universal language of hope and hard work. It’s amazing to see artists like tatu take a risk and push the limits of restraint.
No matter where you are, 2020k readers, stand by the ones you love and the ones who need our love all over the world.
Be sure to swing by Open ‘Til Midnight, where 2020k shares his own highlights of the month!
Someone tries out for American Idol and was rejected by the judges. This is a predictable bedtime story. Since the beginning of the shows run on Fox, we’ve seen talentless gimmicks pushed through to the audition process while worthwhile talent is pushed aside. It’s an obvious attempt at ratings that unfortunately causes enough mild-mannered humor for ratings to skyrocket each year. It’s a shame. We all watch with disappointment each year as talent is turned away and can’t do a thing about it but yell at the TV and continue gushing over the celebrity judges (I do love Jennifer Lopez).
For once we’re seeing a revival of this wrongdoing through the success of an original song called “Lydia” that 22 year old Jessica Bassett elegantly sang in front of the national audience. She was turned away, but her song, which was released on iTunes on Friday February 7th, 2014 has skyrocketed through the Apple charts in Canada and the United States.
2020k Fun fact: The last entry in my teenage journal contemplates trying out the American Idol audition process, only to come to terms at the end of its entry that the disillusioned process and strict winning contracts would cause more artistic imprisonment than one could bargain for. A few days ago, I contemplated once more with friends before ultimately coming to the same conclusion. Jessica’s success only reinforces this notion that hard work does not go unnoticed.
It seems that a lot of this wouldn’t be possible without the help of Ellen DeGeneres, who’s went to bat for her the second the American Idol judges declined to progress Bassett along. In fact, a quick Google of the songwriter and song title pulls up almost The Ellen Show links exclusively.
We’re here to give her an extra push. This song is too good to be ignored and we want more.
In Jessica’s words, the song’s inspiration is a cinch, but it’s delivery is anything but. “It was a couple months ago and my best friend Lydia had written on Facebook that she was having an awful day and that just didn’t sit well with me – she’s my best friend. So, I sent her a video of a song I was written and she loved it. It made her feel better, luckily.” Strictly guitar and vocals, the live performance of “Lydia” lies in a realm that recalls that of more accessible Stan Getz compositions or other jazz/pop wonders of yesterday, interpolated with a more 21st century vocal delivery.
Currently, Jessica Bassett has a phenomenal YouTube channel full of cover songs and a humble Twitter handle that shows she’s currently in the studio cooking up something.
“Lydia” and its artsy artwork is currently available for $0.99 on iTunes and is also streaming on Beats Music.
The Forward thinking Russian synthpop duo t.A.T.u performed “Nas Ne Degonyat” at the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Sochi, Russia yesterday.
As part of a signature pro-LGBTQ movement the duo has stood for since the beginning of their careers (which was originally brought to surface by controversially taking on the role of lesbians), the two held hands and were seemingly ready to kiss at the end of the show, instead opting for a more friendly, but politically effective conclusion to the song that speaks for young lovers who run away to cut ties with those who don’t understand their love.
Sound interesting, Putin?
The performance is ironic due to Russian politics so outrageously against homosexuality that it’s debatable to hold public demonstrations in favor of gay rights, speak in defense of gay rights and distribute material related to gay rights, or to state that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships. See Madonna, who was sued for breaking a law that was passed in 2013 aiming to “ban promoting homosexuality to minors.” Eventually, the allegations were thrown out of court.
The performance continues to be ripped from video uploading services, so please continue to post links in the comments section of this article to keep it alive. The most updated link seems to come from Rutube.
“Nas Ne Dagonyat” was also an international hit in the English speaking world under a translated re-working of the song called “Not Gonna Get Us.”
The song was later mashed up with Queen’s “We Will Rock You” during the ceremony.