FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING RAFAEL GRAFALS OF HEART AND SOUL

A special characteristic of a music blogger is meeting a large number of people over internet. That’s how I have met Rafael Grafals, owner of Heart And Soul music blog. When you are following Orchid Tapes scene, you are probably familiar with his blog. He belongs to that type of people you will never forget you have met. I really admire his great taste in music and after this interview I have realized I also share with him a lot of thoughts and ideas.

What was the impulse to start a (tumblr) music blog?

I had just started digging through bandcamp and found a lot of really cool music that no one I knew was really talking about. I would send my friends links to stuff all the time and decided to just turn it into something I did. I also started reading blogs like We Listen For You and Flashlight Tag that really inspired me to start blogging.

Recently you have reached 1000 followers. How long did it take?

Yikes. It took too long for sure. I’ve been doing this for years now but I feel like just last year I figured out what I’m doing and how to blog (fairly) consistently.

How did come up with the name Heart And Soul?

I honestly can’t even remember. I just remember not being happy with the previous name (Brighter Sounds) and wanting to change it up. Sometimes people ask me if it’s a Joy Division reference and I just say yes.

Do you remember the first band/song you have posted on your blog?

Yeah! It was Grandpa Was a Lion. Can’t remember the specific song but I remember specifically that it was GWAL because he was a huge reason why I started music blogging. He also emailed me the other day saying he’s working on music again which I am really excited about.

Have your music taste changed since you started your blog?

Definitely. Exposure to a lot of weird stuff on bandcamp has led to me learning about a lot of music just because I’d hear a band and find out the who/what inspired them. I’ve learned a solid amount of music history because of it too. Also writing led to me being exposed to a lot of cool electronic music which I didn’t really have much of a background with when I first started.

Do you have any criteria that a song or an album should have to be posted on your site?

I guess I just try not to write about bands that are already really well known. I don’t have a specific line that I draw but no one needs to hear me talk about Arcade Fire or something. In terms of style, I guess I’ve been writing more about pop music lately but I still write about ambient / drone stuff too.

What is your three most favorite genres and why?

Pop music, in a very broad sense of the word, is really inspiring to me. I just think there’s a lot that goes into writing a melody that sticks really well, or a hook that gets stuck in your head. Ambient music has always been about escapism for me, sort of creating spaces where I feel safe so I love it a lot. I feel like there’s a lot you can do in ambient music like dealing with catharsis and portraying emotions in a purely sonic way that I really like. I guess hip hop would be the third. It just feels like a genre that keeps getting weirder and weirder and is really open to change.

Have you ever thought about making living out of your blog or music? 

I used to think I wanted to make a living off of music writing but the more I think about it the less appealing it seems to me. I don’t know, I guess there’s a fear if becoming really jaded or hating writing once it becomes my job.

Have you ever thought about stopping doing your music blog? 

Funny that you should ask because I’ve been thinking a lot about ending the blog after this year is over. I still love writing but I feel like the blog has sort of run its course at this point. I’ve been doing this for a long time now and I’ve loved it but I might be ready to move on. I’m giving myself the rest of the year to think about it, though. I could easily end up changing my mind.

What was the first record you have ever bought?

First CD I ever purchased was the Paul McCartney Back in the US Tour live album. I actually haven’t listened to it in a while but I used to play it every night before I went to bed on my parents’ boombox. 

Which type of physical media do you prefer and why?

Vinyl is still my favorite form of physical media. My sound equipment honestly isn’t even great enough for me to notice a huge difference between vinyl and high quality digital music but I love having album artwork in a larger, physical form and I think there’s a lot of great stuff you can do with vinyl packaging.

You are also hosting shows. Do you find it difficult? 

I only recently started doing that so I don’t have much experience but the two shows I’ve booked so far have been pretty easy to set up. That’s also because the spaces I booked them at have been really easy to work with and very cooperative.

What was your favorite show you ever hosted? 

Honestly haven’t hosted enough to have a stand out favorite yet. The two shows I’ve set up so far (Secret Mountain / Pebbles / Free Cake For Every Creature / Florist and Margo / Steve Sobs / Noble Oak) have both been really special for me.

Do you prefer music venues or special places, house shows? 

I honestly have no taste in venues besides absolutely loving the Silent Barn here in Brooklyn. It’s the only space I’ve made any real emotional attachment with and that’s just because everyone I’ve encountered there has been fantastic.

Recently you had your first gig. How did it turn out?

It was great! I played with Red Alder and it was such an honor because I’ve been listening to her music since before I even started recording my own. I had a really great time and felt like my set went really well. It made me really excited to play more shows and work on more music in the future.

rafael

Rafael at his first gig

 

Have you always wanted to write own music and start to play shows?

Yeah I’ve been involved with music since around the 5th grade so I’ve always loved the idea of writing my own music and performing it so it’s been something I wanted to do for a really long time.

How did you decide how your music project should sound like?

I feel like the sound itself happened naturally. I just started trying to make music that was a direct extension of what I was feeling and what I needed to make for myself. Like I mentioned before, ambient music for me has always been about escapism so that’s sort of what I went into this project with in mind, a way of sort of getting away from all the negativity I’ve encountered in my life, creating a safe space for myself because often I don’t feel very safe.

What are your plans with the blog and your music project?

The blog can really go anywhere at this point as I’m not really sure what I’m gonna end up doing with it. As far as my music project goes, I just wanna play a lot of shows and get back to recording soon, maybe release a tape before the end of the year.

Have you ever wanted to start a label?

It was a dream of mine to run a label for a while but now I’m not too sure. It’s definitely a huge investment and I’m not sure if it’s something I could take on given the things I’m working on at the moment. It would be really great to start one some day though.

How did you meet all people in music scene Orchid Tapes, Teen Suicide, FMLY, etc.?

Pretty much through the internet. Most of the time it’s that I make some sort of connection with them online and then we meet in person at a show or something. I feel like this still happens even with local musicians.

Do you find it hard to manage school with your interests?

I actually don’t go to school. I’m working five days a week though which often sucks the inspiration out of me and makes it hard for me to want to be creative or do writing. 

Do you have any specific dream regarding music?

That’s hard to say. I don’t have any long-term goals at the moment that are related to music. The one thing I feel I really want to accomplish is making music that heals people in the same way a lot of my favorite records have helped me through a lot. I’d love to be able to give back in that aspect and help someone through art.

What are your three recent best discoveries?

Big Hush, Ruhe, and sister palace. I found all three of them on bandcamp digs in the past few months and I love all of their work so much. Big Hush and sister palace are more pop leaning type bands that are just really good at songwriting and Ruhe is an ambient artist whose album Chamber Loops has been really inspirational to me lately.

Name one advice you would give other music bloggers based on your experience.

I guess the main piece of advice I’d give is never feel like you have to generate writing on a super strict schedule or else you might feel pressured to write about things you might not even care about that much.

And last two questions. Why did you dyed your hair blonde and why did you changed your middle name to Bandcamp?

Haha well the bleach blonde thing was just a result of me having wanted to do that for a while and finally being pushed to do it after a few of my friends tried it. The Bandcamp thing was based off of a joke someone made about me and my friends where they took a picture of us and said, “wow look they came dressed as bandcamp.” A lot of my friends still don’t let me forget about that so I played along with it and made it my middle name on Facebook (but then they made me get rid of it).

Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers by Rafael Grafals
Photo by Fairleigh Rose

LAR EADE-GREEN PRESENTING ELLIS OF TRUST FUND

It was the Autumn/ Winter of 2013 and I was living in a flat above a bookshop, which turned out to have a very leaky roof! We would be rudely awoken by a drip, drip, drip and begrudgingly get out of bed to try and collect the rain drops in buckets, with the water seeming to appear from everywhere. It was around this time that I got numerous tweets from Ellis (AKA TRUST FUND) asking whether he could crash on my sofa after playing a gig. The leaky roof did not deter him! These were the days when Ellis was touring lonesome with a little help from Mat Riveire. Fast forward a year or two and he is now playing with a full band and after numerous smaller releases (including a split EP with Joanna Gruesome) has just released his debut album No One’s Coming For Us via Turnstile Music!

I am very happy to present to you my email interview with Ellis from Trust Fund!

Hello, how are you today?

Eurgh, I’m ok. Can’t sleep at the moment and haven’t really spoken to anyone in 4 days cos feeling quite anxious. My dad reads every Trust Fund interview there is though, so dad if you’re reading this, don’t worry.

You have released your debut album ‘No one’s coming for us’ through Turnstile, which is all very exciting….

Yeah, I agree that it is exciting, and a couple of months on it still feels exciting to me so that’s good I guess. They asked to put it out after it was already finished, which surprised me cos i thought it was maybe not recorded well enough for them to want to put out. But they didn’t wanna change anything and they have been very supportive so far, and have let me choose obnoxious artwork (for this album and for the next album).

Reeks of Effort have released ‘No one’s coming for us’ and your EP ‘Don’t let them begin’ on cassette, as well as you having two tracks on Sick of Hits vol.2 limited edition tape… What do you like about cassettes?

Nothing really? I like them fine, but Max who runs RoE is into tapes, and so it’s his choice rather than mine. I guess to an extent it’s about resisting ‘mainstream’ formats or whatever, and trying to create space for yourself away from that, but I think the format is only a small part of doing that — record store day and stuff maybe shows how you can’t keep a format safe from big label interference cos if there’s money there then they will just come back.

When I saw you play in 2013 you were playing solo with a little help from Mat Riviere and you both slept on my sofa. You now have a band behind you, how did that come about?

I think the band just sounded better than me on my own (Mat is a great drummer so that was always good), and I gradually got less confident about playing without them, and enjoying playing with them so much more.

Are the days where you were travelling to shows by public transport and sleeping on peoples sofas behind you!? What are your top survival tips for doing tours on a small budget?

Nooo that is still mainly what is happening. I think we have stayed in a hotel a few times but it has always felt like a bizarre novelty. i don’t have any advice really, sorry. Just do what you want.

You have been on tour supporting your debut album, how do you and your band normally entertain yourself when you are on the road? Have you got any fun tour stories?

We play Jelaball.

When I saw you in Manchester you were all talking about your stage banter! How is your stage banter coming along?

Umm quite badly I think. Roxy has a thing where she makes a joke about “#TheDress” at every show. I think it is pretty hilarious but either people have never heard of the dress in some cities (including Cardiff and London which seems unlikely), or they have a very short/selective memory. It is usually met by silence.

On your 7 date Feb ’15 tour you travelled from Bristol to Glasgow so I am sure you have spent lots and lots of time on motorways. What is your favourite service station?

They are all the same to me except for Tebay which I dislike.

I did a Health degree and can’t help being a little concerned that bands will struggle to have a healthy balanced diet when they are touring. I can just imagine everyone eating copious amounts of crisps from service stations. What is your staple diet when you are on tour?

Umm I have a lot of M&S salads? And a lot of crisps but crisps make me feel bad. Sometimes I sit in a massage chair at the services but they aren’t on and it’s uncomfortable.

What are your favourite veggie/ vegan places to eat?

In Leeds (where I live now) it is probably Grove Cafe or New Ho Garden. Although what I mainly like from New Ho Garden is things in satay sauce, but my friend Emily told me how to make it and now I can do it myself kinda.

What have you been listening to on repeat recently?

Infinity Crush and also just people talking to help me sleep.

I see that you are on the Green Man line-up!! I went there last year and it is such a beautiful festival. What else do you have lined-up for 2015?

Not much else in the summer, maybe another couple of shows. Then Autumn/Winter will be busy hopefully.

You can get yourself a copy of No One’s Coming For Us here

Interview by Lar Eade-Green
Answers by Ellis

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING ANDI DVORAK OF FETTKAKAO

I have met Andi Dvořák at Creepy Teepee festival in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic. He was there with bands from his Austrian label Fettkakao based in Vienna. We have not talked a lot, but later I have approached him over internet and we chatted few times. Then I have met him again at another Creepy Teepee and we talked a little bit more. From time to time he sends me news from his label and I am always happy to check it out. Last week I have approached him with few questions about his label and music life as well.

When and why did you start the label Fettkakao?

I started Fettkakao in the summer of 2005. In my understanding, everyone was participating and communicating within the punk community, which I was part of since my early teenage years. I was writing a fanzine, playing in bands and setting up shows w/ friends, so starting a label at age of 25 was doing another one of those things.

What is the story behind the name?

Krawalla from Räuberhöhle (Berlin) was visiting us in Vienna. During her stay at our shared flat, my friend Lisa Max asked Krawalla if she’d already had a fettkakao, she was referring to the way I made Hot Chocolate. From that day on, I was called Fettkakao by Krawalla.

fettkakao

Do you remember your first release?

Of course! It was the the Vortex Rex – Short Attention Span 7″. For me, it was the punkest record/act in our area, but I knew no one around us would put that out. It wasn’t indie enough for the established labels, and it didn’t fit the punk formula of the HC labels.

Which type of physical media do you prefer?

I love vinyl. I was socialized with that medium. Nevertheless, my main focus lies on the artists and the documentation and manifestation of their work.

It is hard to run a label in Austria?

I guess as hard as it is everywhere else. We have an okay funding system here, but shipping prices are very high, and since I don’t intend to release sellable items in the first place, it is always a question if I will recoup the costs.

Have you ever thought about moving to some other country?

Yes, but not because of the label. Also, I really like living in Vienna.

How do you approach bands to be part of your label?

I release music by friends of mine, people I admire and feel connected to, like their art, performance, message and music, I guess.

Do you have a lot of music submissions?

Not that many, people still send me emails though.

What should a band have in order to be released by you?

Something to say? But really, I constantly figure out myself what it is. As said before, my friends make great art and I am still making new friends.

How big is alternative indie scene in Austria, particularly in Vienna? Are you part of some community?

What’s really changed in the last 10 or so years in Vienna is that you always have something interesting happening here. People became active. You’d go out and discover something new: shows, art exhibitions, queer feminist performance festivals – all very punk, very thoughtful. Also labels like Totally Wired or Bachelor – they really keep things moving.

graphikkinder_schrenhuber

Andi and his DJ box

Do you find music reviews important?

Well some write ups never hurt. I still want to share by releasing music.

Do you get a lot of attention in other countries?

Yes. From people like you, luckily. But the thing is that I work locally, because things happen around me. Since my involvement with punk rock, on the other hand, it was communicating around the globe. First letters, fanzines and tape trades, later e-mails and what not.
I still set up shows for touring bands I am a fan of, and also like to tour. I never thought of Fettkakao as an Austrian label, I just happen to live here.

What do you consider as the biggest success with your label?

Being surrounded by a good community, where people are inspired by each other. This is not my success, but I can see how one or more labels could help.

I know you are also working with Mile Me Deaf. Do you enjoy it? How did you met them?

I released a 7″ and an LP and you’ll find MMD tracks on both compilations. Wolfgang was in a band called Killed By 9 Volt Batteries and joined Sex Jams, who released their first single on Fettkakao. Even though it was around much longer, MMD was Wolfgangs little known solo project. By late 2010, I was setting up an MMD show and thought about releasing a 7″. It turned into a band later and they have released 3 records on Siluh, their current label.

What is the toughest part of running a music label and being a manager?

You work with human beings which is wonderful, but it can be challenging sometimes.

Are you able to make a living off of music?

No, I don’t live off it and I never intended to.

You are also part of a band called Lime Crush formed from Fettkakao family. Why did you start that one?

I haven’t had a band in over 10 years, although I helped out and played (mostly bass) in bands I was working with from time to time. But I wanted to be in a punk band again, performing, being part of the writing process, and traveling around. So I asked Panini, Veronika and Nicoletta and they all said yes!

What are your plans with this music project?

We released a 7″ in January, toured a little bit and now have recorded a song for the upcoming Totally Wired compilation. We are doing some shows with Alte Sau from Hamburg in May and then play some shows in Hungary in July. We are working on some more shows in June at the moment as well.

What is your biggest music dream?

Playing with my friends and being able to tour.

What did you listen to when you were a child?

I liked some radio songs, but did not give it much attention. I was more impressed by Ghostbusters and cartoons than by music.

Do you remember the first physical record you ever bought?

It must have been a Credit To The Nation or Therapy? LP. I first listened to stuff my sister had. She introduced me to Rock music.

Name three new bands that are worth checking out.

Kristy and the Kraks, Trash Kit, and Dubais.

Question by Filip Zemcik
Answers by Andi Dvořák
Photo by Peter Schernhuber

Review ~ Molly Drag – Open Casket Hidden Meaning ~ by Lukas Foote

I have said it before, and I will type it again: Molly Drag will have you waving around in a sonic ocean of ambience, despair and heartbreak. The same thing could be said about the newly released Molly Drag song “Open Casket Hidden Meaning.”

Molly Drag - Open Casket Hidden Meaning

At the start of this track, the familiarity of the paulstretch effect is heard. The paulstretch effect was used quite a bit in the Molly Drag fulllength debut: Deeply Flawed. This effect has become a signature, or a characteristic trait for Michael Hansford. Hearing the paulstretch over some slow acoustic picking right off the intro of OPHM gives the song the nostalgic notion of another ambient, nebulous, slow-jam.

The lyrics are very bleak, unpromising, and full of depressing topics such as death (“My coffin thrown into the ground/fills the empty spaces here/I am the blood, you are the crown/She feels the bodies buried here.”), addiction and the bad trips you may conjure up while high (“Addiction always has its waste/but your hands were on my face/and you were suffocating me.”). I would not expect any different subject matters from a song inspired by a funeral.

Molly Drag’s Open Casket Hidden Meaning is part of a 15-track compilation by MD’s label Hellur Records entitled “I Still Call You My Friend”. It is currently available up on Bandcamp for the ideal hipster price of “Buy Now name your price” and includes other great tracks on it by label mates such as Claws & Organs and Sorority Noise.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Molly Drag