Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Feature: Fever Ray from Huck

The new issue of Huck (with Ben Harper on the cover) is out now. If you don't know Huck, it's done by a lot of the guys that contributed to Adrenalin (R.I.P) like Vince Medeiros, Jamie Brisick, Phil Hebblethwaite, Michael Fordham, Jay Riggio and Zoe Oksanen – all top writers in their fields of surfing, skating, snowboarding and music. So it's a pleasure to get my words in this issue with a few more stories to come on Surfing in Holland and OT301: Amsterdam's former squat turned arts centre. Anyway, here is my story with Karin of Fever Ray.

Fever Ray Tour 2009 from Fever Ray on Vimeo.

"I started from where I ended with The Knife." States Karin Dreijer Andersson, vocalist and one half of the Swedish brother/sister electro outfit The Knife, whose record Silent Shout was named the best album of 2006 by indie-elitists Pitchforkmedia.

"We were very definite about us having a break. We had been sitting in each other's laps for seven years so we both needed the time off."
So while brother Olof was on a field-recording trek to the Amazon, documenting the sounds of the jungle for the soundtrack to an opera about Charles Darwin The Knife had been commissioned to produce, Karin found herself back in the studio.

"I didn't know it was going to be an album," she says of solo project, Fever Ray. "I just wanted to work with some ideas I had been collecting. I did not have an overall sound in mind but I did have an overall idea of the tempo; slower, thicker."

Through the collected ideas and the minutiae, Fever Ray took shape, contemplative in its direction and certain of its evocation. Where The Knife bubbles with popping techno, Fever Ray stews like a primordial ooze, brooding through thick, droning, almost trip-hop tempos. And while The Knife stabs with sharp beats, Fever Ray weeps through unique timbres, building from trembling and fragile into strong, vengeful haunts. Karin's distinctive voice, like a siren, enchants the listener into an unknown world full of mossy darkness and decay.

"I have my own studio just south of Stockholm where I have mostly keyboard, computer and guitar and I've also got a new voice machine. I have been listening to a lot of Tomahawk and their Anonymous album inspired by Native Americans. It's very primal, making beats out of vocals."
Immediately you can hear that influence, via her new voice machine, on opening track and first single "If I Had A Heart" as well as "Concrete Walls", her voice alters and drop to looming chants over slow, prowling trance, creating an ominous tension.

She admits the album is intense, and that even she'd need a break from its heavy themes. However, "in [my] melodies you can find a lot more romantic aspects from the '80s like Alphaville which I listened to a lot a long time ago." She says with a guilty, kiddish grin. Certainly there's more than a touch of the new wave, synth-pop from "Forever Young" and "A Victory of Love" in songs like "Seven" and "Dry and Dusty".

Recorded after giving birth to her second child, inspiration inconveniently struck in those child-rearing, sleepless hours where the conscious and subconscious, the REM and restlessness, all dance.
"I think it's interesting to capture the moment while in that state of mind. It's not like you have an alternative - it's what's there. I don't sit and wait for inspiration. I definitely think you can write out of that perspective or state.
"Half of what the songs are about is the subconscious," she states in her bio. "Ideas of things happening. A lot of it is like daydreaming, dreaming when you’re awake, but tired; a lot of stories come from that world." As a result her lyrics are often cryptic, walking a thin line between mixed metaphors and just-decipherable details. It's no surprise she finds stimulus in the dream-like films of David Lynch.

Helping to bring a surreal cinematic feel to the Fever Ray project is Andreas Nilsson, who has collaborated with The Knife over the years on videos, live performances and DVDs. The video to "If I Had a Heart" is a voodoo trip down a bayou, spot lit with horror creeping in from the darkness.
"I've known Andreas for a very long time, even before The Knife," says Karin. "We have quite similar musical references but he also has his own interpretations of what we are doing, which I think is great."
The two have also collaborated on the visuals for Fever Ray's live shows, to be "five people on stage including myself playing different things," says Karin. "I think what makes sense to do live is percussion and some more noise elements. At first I was thinking about playing to a standing audience but now I'm thinking maybe it would be good to sit down and listen to it."

Whether live or recorded, immersing yourself into the muck and the mire of Fever Ray, seduced by Karin's vocals, pure or layered, mixed with the thick primordial tempo and foggy darkness you'll find there's a lot to unearth.

Fever Ray
Fever Ray myspace

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fact: Janet is better than Michael

Okay, maybe a stretch but indeed Janet is prolific from the 80s through to the nows where as MJ was only decent in the in the 80s. Thanks to Clare's Facebook status about being thrilled by "All For You" I spent this morning getting down to Janet slow jams like this

And this with J.Lo
And with Missy
And with Luther Vandross

Other great things I've been curing my hangover today.
this guy
Pharcyde's "Drop"
Diss tunes

Tune: Like a Boss

"Shit on Debra's desk"

also by The Lonely Island.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Review: Slim Cessna, Cameo, Legendary Tiger Man

Jello Biafra described Slim Cessna's Auto Club as "the country band that plays the bar at the end of the world." On Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label, the Denver boys sound like The Dead Kennedy's bumpkin brothers blending rockabilly, gospel, bluegrass yodeling and straight out rock n roll into the best dang knees-up since the last Appalachian Father-Daughter Hay Roll Championships.
As suggested the band is fronted by Slim Cessna – a sort of fallen Baptist turned truck-enthusiast cowboy and his sidekick Munly Munly, the skeletal, slack jawed yokel and backed by a rockabilly band of bastards that mix double bass, banjo, lapsteel, organs and rolling drums.
Possessing the old Church hall that is Paradiso's kliene zaal it felt like Beelzebub's Revival Sermon. They rumble through tunes like "Jesus Let Me Down", "Red Pirate of the Prairie", "Children of the Lord" and "This is How We Do Things in the Country". Theirs are stories of murderers, divorcees, heathens and penniless souls that engaged the audience with sadness and black comedy - if there was ever a time for depression-era melodrama its heading into another depression and entertaining the beer-swilling masses.

Sadly not enough people were watching Slim Cessna. They were all too busy in the main hall waiting for Cameo to play "Word Up" who assumedly have seen better times themselves. The great thing about the Paradiso is once you pay for one show you can move around between the halls. Their posters boasted "Word Up" to jog people's memories and no prizes for guessing it wouldn't appear until the final bow. The singer was bedazzled in a shimmering shirt, the hype-man dressed like a Funkadelic-Parliament backbencher, a guitarist wore Kiss-styled boots and rocked a hub-cap guitar, the Keyboardist smart in a blazer while the drummer was a man mountain - similar to Ice-T's drummer, Body Count era. I couldn't bring myself to stay for "Word Up", especially as something seemed a brewing back in the small hall.

Slim Cessna had made way for The Legendary Tiger Man, a one-man rhythm and blues machine with a heavy bass drum and kick snare walking through every song as he played stripped back blues on a couple of elegant old guitars. Portuguese, sunglasses still wrapped across his eyes 'cos the light was shining hard in his face (admitedly he set the lighting himself), he crunched throw mourning blues. He played originals as well as a Cramps cover and "(Get your kicks on) Route 66". Visuals were clips of old 8 and 16 mm film, most produced especially for each song - the Route 66 one especially beautiful, driving the course of the famous American road. When needed, his backing band was an old record player, helping to build an atmosphere of authentic roots rock, sparse, cool and dirty.

A good night all round.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Podcast: SDRNRfm #2 - The Clash

SDRNRfm is back on your wireless. Last time I put together a mixtape it was a Bo Diddley beat kinda deal This time it's The Clash - songs by either The Clash themselves, acts that have sampled them or songs you can hear a direct influence. Don't expect balls-out guitar though, This is The Clash doing dub, gospel, and funk. It's annoyingly short as Garageband doesn't like songs over 34mins, Obviously Phish don't use this program. So I think this is just part 1 of a 2 part special courtesy of Zshare records. Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

SDRNRfm - The Clash
1. Intro to Lightning Strikes (not once but twice) - The Clash (Sandanista)
2. Straight to Hell – The Clash (Combat Rock)
3. Paperplanes - MIA (KALA)
4. History Song - The Good, The Bad, The Queen (Self-titled)
5. Dub Be Good To Me - Beats International
6. Guns of Brixton - The Clash (London Calling)
7. Dirty Harry – The Clash (Golden Bullets)
8. Welcome to the Third World - Dandy Warhols (Earth to Dandy Warhols)
9. You Were The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve - Johnnyboy (self-titled)
10. Hitsville UK – The Clash (Sandanista)
11. The Sound of Sinners - The Clash (Sandanista)

And don't forget, you can still download SDRNRfm #1

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Video: Talking shop with Girl Talk Part 2

Did I say tomorrow... I meant next week - but better late than never for Part 2 of my Girl Talk interview.
See full report...
Live, Girl Talk invites mayhem. Those who have been to a Girl Talk show know the drill and first up are those with the most Dutch courage, in Amsterdam there's many. Before the first few riffs were out Gregg was joined by his band mates on stage, the thrashing, sweaty masses – booty shakin' girls, dudes clammering for podium placement in front of the crowd on the floor, someone even brought balloons.
And on the floor it was just as crazy, a packed house for usual the club night Noodlanding, the special guest kept people dancing til four in the morn.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Video: Talkin' with Girl Talk Part 1

Recently I spoke with Gregg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk for SPIN Earth before his show at Paradiso. We spoke about everything from how he samples music legally to onstage near vomiting, playing live and bio-medicine's role in Hollywood. This is part 1, stay tuned tomorrow for part 2.
SPIN earth Amsterdam
Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, holds firm to the grounds of fair use copyright law when legitimizing his brand of music—a sound once considered "illegal" by traditional copyright standards. His reconfigured party jams where Kelly Clarkson vocals go over AC/DC riffs, Weezer under Lil Wayne, Biggie and Elton together at last are more than just mash-ups. Surprisingly the record companies haven't tried to tackle Gillis's "mix 'em and cook 'em in a pot like gumbo" approach. As he explains, it wouldn't be a good publicity move for a major label to go after him. After all, it certainly doesn't take anything away from the original work. It's more a form of flattery.

But Gillis didn't get into the business to push legal boundaries. In the current climate where direct piracy is of far greater concern, what's the point? Girltalk is just here to rock the party.

Girl Talk's myspace

Monday, April 6, 2009

Feature: U can't Dutch this

For this month's Time Out I wrote a piece on Dutch hip hop. Though I can't understand much of what their saying I've been really getting into it - good beats, intriguing flow and a down-to-earth vibe make it a little more tangible than T-Pain. Sorry T. Check out the video by The Fringe too with a little tribute to fellow Dutch artist Mondriaan - Or if you're Australian, Silverchair.

From: Time Out
U can't Dutch this... Or can you? Colin Delaney finds out Nederhop is keeping it 'realer' than ever.
In English language hip hop, the North American accent sets the standard, the British come with a ‘grimey’ edge, the Kiwis carry a Polynesian ease while the Australians boast a broad ‘ocker’ twang. On the international stage the French rap smooth, the Germans sharply, and Brazilians do it upbeat and playfully. But for the Dutch scene it wasn’t until the mid-90s that MCs began to rap in the local tongue – they mostly wanted to sound as American as possible.
Perhaps surprisingly, flow, style and rhythm roll effortlessly through the thickets of this nation’s guttural language. Dutch rap, or ‘Nederhop’ as it’s most affectionately known is getting more comfortable in its own skin, too, reflecting the way people live here, rather than trying to mimic the American style.
‘There’s a real Dutch culture in local hip hop now – that’s the most important change,’ says Lars Kelpin, project manager of the hip hop organisation, GRAP. ‘People are talking about all aspects of growing up, about family, difficulties, street life and politics and fun. There’s a Dutch proverb, “act normal, you're crazy enough”. We don't like our heroes driving around in Jeeps in 21inch tyres. We like it when they act normal. It’s part of Dutch culture, and that’s part of Dutch hip hop culture
GRAP coordinates the Dutch R&B and hip hop competition, Wanted, which ran through MARCH? And has its final showcase at Melkweg on 3 April. Now in its 13th year, Wanted has been an important launching pad for many current chart toppers, such as The Partysquad, Ali-B and Baas B. They may not be exactly busting across the borders, but at least they’re getting plenty of airplay nationally. Watching MTV or TMF, Nederhop is better represented than the current crop of Nederpop stars.
What accounts for its success? Get ready to cringe – ‘keeping it real’ – say the local experts.
‘People are really down to earth. That’s what I like about hip hop in Holland,’ says Kees De Koning, the head of The Netherlands’ premier hip hop label, Top Notch. ‘Dutch MCs are being very honest.’
As an example, he sites the current cross-over hit by Dio, ‘Tijd Machine.’ The rapper, says De Koning, is ‘talking about all the times he’s fucked up in life – he should have listened to mom; he should have called his girlfriend more; put out the garbage once and a while… This is one of the top hip hop songs at the moment. That says a lot about keeping it real, just being honest and not being a bigger-than-life comic book character.’ Radio DJ Vincent Patty AKA rapper Jiggy Dje agrees. ‘In America, a lot of rap is about money and jewels,’ he says. ‘We don't have a lot of that in Holland because it’s Holland. As soon as someone starts rapping about a lot of money everyone is like, “We know you don't have a lot of money.” It’s like, “Dude, if you've got so much money, why are you on a tram?”’
Local hip hop artists are also ‘keeping it real’ by rapping about struggle and overcoming racial prejudice or socio-economic adversity. The Opposites, an Amsterdam-based duo (so called for the duo’s appearance: one is tall and Anglo, the other short and Antillean) started out rapping in English but switched to their native Dutch. A recent hit track, ‘Sjonnie & Anita’ by describes two delinquents in an inter-racial love affair. It refers to the pair as ‘The Dutch Bonnie and Clyde’. ‘Mami is a lady from the hood,’ the lyrics read. ‘Loyal mentality; dangerous when necessary. Dad comes from the polder; he’s half from CuraƧao, half Spanish.’
Salah Edin, who also started out rapping in English has made a name for himself in the Middle East and the west by rapping in Darija Arabic., His rhymes question Dutch politics and society, and he’s not afraid of controversy. The cover art of his 2007 album ‘Nederland’s Grootste Nachtmerrie’ (‘The Netherlands’ Worst Nightmare’) featured Edin on the cover, looking a whole lot like the mugshot of Theo van Gogh’s killer, Mohammed Bouyeri. The rapper said it was meant to reflect, ‘the way the average white Dutch citizen sees me, as a young Moroccan Muslim radical.’
Of course, politically-charged or conscious hip hop has never been the most profitable side of the music business. Patty says that’s not really the point of Nederhop, anyway. ‘I talk to a lot of young rappers and the most important thing is not to get caught in a pipedream,’ says the DJ and rapper. ‘There’s not a lot of money in it so make sure you have fun while doing it. That’s where our hip hop origins are from – having fun with the little you have.’

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Party: Subbacultcha

If you're in Amsterdam get along to support your favourite indie magazine/label Subbacultcha! April 4 sees the launch of a new issue which means a new party at De Nieuwe Anita. You know De Nieuwe Anita, the one that looks like you're Gran set up a bar in her basement (compliment). Cover is 6euros and you'll get a free magazine.
Line up:
Blues Brother Castro
Major B (DJ Set)
DJs Hotlpizz & Jane

However if you don't go to parties because people tend to freak you out or you hate tangibility in a magazine then just check it out online.