FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING AARON POWELL OF FOG LAKE

Since I discovered Fog Lake, it has been a steady part of my playlist. I admire Aaron’s talent to create the atmospheric vibe coming out of his songs. His music has greatly influenced my taste and will always belong to my favorite musicians. Recently, when I heard that he was releasing a new album, I decided to approach him with few questions via email to ask him about not only his music life in Canada, but also his latest release on Orchid Tapes.

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Aaron, you are not very vocal on any social media. Do you prefer “online solitude”? Do you like communicating over Internet?

Anyone who knows me well knows i’m a bit of an introvert. I’m always afraid i’ll make a fool of myself online. Maybe it’s just an anxiety of mine but most of the time I’d rather let the music speak for itself.

Do you find keeping privacy important?

I do. I value my alone time a lot. If I didn’t, I don’t think I would have been able to have such an extensive output in these last years. I spend most of my time alone, for the better.

Do you remember when you first started getting more attention?

Yeah. I remember when I was delivering pizzas one day and someone told me that my song “Farther Reaches” had been posted on a popular youtube channel called “Majestic Casual”. Made my day. My music gained a very steady following after that. I’m very thankful for what they did for me, and I’m glad that they chose a song which I’m still fond of.

You are part of Orchid Tapes family. How did you met Warren and other guys?

Yeah. I’ve really only known Warren online. We’ve never met in person, yet. I discovered his project “Foxes in Fiction” on a forum and I always let him know how much his music helped push me to do what I do now. I think once I started making music, he realized we were coming from a similar place and I’m really glad he gave me a chance to be on the label. It was by far the best thing that ever happened to me and remains so.

You have released your music on cassettes. Do you prefer this type of media or was it a choice made by label?

I’m a fond believer in analog sound, even though I’ve not yet ventured into that path. I think putting out my music on cassette helps secure a sense of integrity and helps fulfill my own beliefs. Many of people I know laugh off the fact that I’m putting out music on such an “obsolete” device, but I don’t know, I really like the sound of a cassette just like someone would like the scratches on a vinyl record. It’s definitely an acquired taste.

Fog Lake’s songs have special vibe and sound. Was it a long process of creation or did you know from the start what your music should sound like?

Thanks. It took me a long time to realize that I really had a ‘sound’ to begin with, but these days I’m definitely a lot more self-aware. Whenever I’ve tried to branch off from Fog Lake, it’s never really worked out because I struggle to do something I feel is original. I would say it was a long process. I listen to a lot of my older material now and I just feel like I was trying to copy what was already done. Now when I listen to my new record, for instance, I feel like I can hear myself coming through and that’s fulfilling for me, providing something that comes from a real place.

Where do you get inspiration for your songs?

I can name you a lot of things that inspire my songs, but I won’t. Mostly just experience, and the ups and downs of this life.

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In my previous interview with Katie Dey, she talked about unimportance of lyrics in her songs. What are you thoughts on lyrics?

As much as I love, love, love Katie Dey (‘asdfasdf’ is absolutely stunning) I really have to disagree with her stance on lyricism. My favorite music communicates through tone and language, resulting in the euphoria I often get from it. It would make a great debate I think. I spent quite some time on “Victoria Park” making sure the lyrics said what I needed to get out. However, I would never want my lyrics to ever overshadow the music; it’s definitely the more important and complex element.

Do you prefer working on your music alone or have you ever wanted to have a full-size band?

I definitely like the fact that music requires solitude (in my case anyway). I try to keep Fog Lake a solo project. I played my first set with a band in a while tonight and it didn’t go too well at all. However one of best friends Kenney has been a great and loyal bandmate for awhile now and he’s on three tracks of ‘Victoria Park’, which is new because all of my older records were entirely just me. I’ve always thought the idea of a “one-man-band” was really intriguing however and I felt I was the right person for that, so at it’s core Fog Lake remains my solo project. I’ve always wanted to start a band, but my experiences working with conflicting creative control/input has always been an issue for me, unfortunately.

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How long did it take to create the last album?

I spent a year writing and recording on “Victoria Park”. While I was making the record I managed to drop out of school, get into two relationships (neither of which worked out), have my stepfather die and lose two jobs, plus plenty of friendships. The last year of my life has been extremely chaotic and emotionally draining, I’m glad to say that ‘Victoria Park’ expresses and sums up those feelings of loss quite authentically.

What is the toughest part of the writing process?

I think the toughest part of the writing/recording process was really trying to make amends with what was bothering me at the time in a cohesive way, that was yet still relatable. I had a lot of bitterness/resentment when I wrote ‘Virgo Indigo’ and I didn’t want to repeat that again. I find myself very unhappy with that record now, I can say that ‘Victoria Park’ is much better.

Do you think your music is influenced by the place where you live?

Yeah, definitely. I find myself torn apart by how much I wanna get off the island of Newfoundland and how much I wanna stay because it’s such an entirely different scene that has so much potential. I wrote about 50 percent of ‘Victoria Park’ out in my home town of Glovertown (three hours away from where I live now) because I have so many memories attached to that place, and it always gets me inspired to write. All of the songs I wrote while I was in Glovertown reflect that time in my life and relate it to what my life entails now, three years after moving away from there, into a much more populated city

Do you enjoy living in North America?

Yes! I’m hoping to do a tour of the eastern States sometime soon. From my few times in America I’ve really dug it.

What is your daily job?

I was doing dishes at a local bar/restaurant. It pays the bills. I delivered pizzas before that. Got fired for driving too fast though.

Is there any music community in Newfoundland and Labrador?

Yes! It’s a lot like high school. That’s kinda what the song “Renegade” is about. It’s very tight-knit and it’s an everyone knows everyone sort of deal. I can finally say that I’ve gathered some local followers which makes me wanna play shows and try to inspire, whether the set’s good or bad. I think there’s a lot of heart in our local scene, which has yet to be discovered.

Do you miss being able to hang out with guys around Orchid Tapes?

Miss? I’ve never met any of them. I feel pretty distant from the label most of the time to be honest. I’m very privileged to have a part in that scene. I’ve got Warren to thank for that. I’m a big fan of every artist on the label so it definitely cheers me up whenever I’m feeling down and out.

Do you have a place where you would love to live?

I’m thinking about moving to Montreal, or possibly running off to California. I could even try Halifax, maybe. I don’t think I can stay on this island for much longer.

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Do you have any goals or dreams regarding your music project?

I’d just like to be remembered, and have some financial security. Neither of which I’ve had much luck with.

Did you have any music project before?

I had a few joke/novelty bands in high school with friends, but no. Fog Lake was the first thing I took seriously.

Do you remember what the first instrument you ever got was?

I don’t! I think the first instrument I ever played was harmonica.

Have you always wanted to make music? Did you have support from family?

I can’t say that it was my plan to begin with. I always wanted to do something in the arts, but I never felt talented enough to pursue music. It seems it’s becoming less of a hobby and more of a career the longer I stay working at it. I think it’s what I’m gonna keep doing until the end though.

What did you listening as a kid?

The first CD I ever bought was ‘Hybrid Theory’ by Linkin Park I’m pretty sure. Then it might have been that Smash Mouth record with “All Star” on it or something by the Backstreet Boys. It was bad, man.

What important advice would you give to young musicians starting their own music projects?

I would say to keep it as true-to-heart as possible. Stop thinking about what other’s want to hear and start thinking about what you wanna hear. Don’t worry about being technical. Don’t worry what your parents think. Give it your best shot.

What are your current three most favorite bands?

That changes 2 much 2 say.

New album Victoria Park out on Orchid Tapes:

Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers and photos by Aaron Powell

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING KATIE DEY

The past weeks has been full of Katie Dey’s new album asdfasdf. I remember how I wasn’t giving it my full attention, but after some time I listened to it thoroughly and discovered its beauty. Katie’s music is something new and experimental in the current lo-fi, internet scene. Additionally, my favorite label, Orchid Tapes, decided to release asdfasdf on cassettes, which sold out insanely quickly. Thus, I have decided to approach Katie Dey with few questions regarding her music life.

A few months ago, people did not know about you and your music. How has the recent attention influenced your life? Do you enjoy the exposure?

It hasn’t really influenced my life much at all actually. The only real difference is that a few kind people bought my album on bandcamp and that helped me pay my rent and bills for the last month. That part is cool, I enjoy that. Actually, I guess I made some new friends over the internet which is awesome.

A new Facebook page, twitter account and many questions on Tumblr. Is it hard to manage all of this?

It can be a little overwhelming sometimes, but it’s mostly ok. I tend to put off answering emails a little too long though.

I think that a boom started when Mat Cothran from Elvis Depressedly started to recommend your album on different platforms. Do you know how he found out about you?

Mat apparently saw that I had been liking posts on his Tumblr for a while and decided to check out my blog which I had just recently posted a song on. We started talking and I sent him some demos which he said some cool stuff about and that became the album. It’s really mind blowing that he likes it so much because I’ve been a fan of his work for such a long time.

Do you know why people are so hyped on your music?

Not specifically. A few people have told me that they like it because it feels like something “new” which is a cool thing to hear. People like to hear things that don’t sound like everything else I think. It gets them jazzed!

A few days ago, Orchid Tapes put out pre-orders of your album on cassettes. Did you get lots of label offers? Why did you choose Warren’s label?

I got a few label offers but mostly small stuff which seemed kind of risky or stuff I wasn’t comfortable with. I’ve loved orchid tapes forever so it was kind of a dream come true for Warren to ask me if I wanted to work with them. It actually took me a bit of convincing from Mat Cothran for me to think it was a good idea because I was sure it would be a huge failure and I’d put Orchid Tapes out of business or something.

The first run sold out very quickly and the second one is selling pretty well too. Did you expect that?

Absolutely not.

On your Tumblr blog, a lot of people are asking about lyrics. Why are you not attributing them any importance?

I just wanted to shift the focus to how the music could convey itself as a sort of language in itself. There’s a lot of heavily lyric focused stuff around me at the moment in Melbourne and it’s kind of a reaction to that somewhat. It’s sort of an experiment I guess.

Also, there are various questions regarding your equipment. How did you find out your way of doing music?

It’s just something I’ve always done and have worked on for years and years. I’d gone through many phases before now that have heavily informed my current work. It’s hard to kind of describe how I got here, It’d be like telling my life story.

Do you get questions that bother you?

Very infrequently, most people are respectful. The gear questions can get a little much.

How long did it take to record your first album?

Those songs were done over the course of a 3-4 months at the start of this year.

Did you have a clear image of sound before you started recording songs?

I’m not sure I know what you mean by a clear image of sound, but I think I’ve always seen things in a musical way ever since I was little.

What is the hardest part of doing music?

The whole thing takes a huge amount of effort psychologically. It can really take a toll on your emotions and mental health. Singing is also hard.

I have read on twitter you were planning to record new songs, but it turned out badly. What happened?

I think I know the tweet you’re talking about, that was just a time I got a little overzealous with my recording plans and ended up trying to track 3 songs in a night which is a crazy thing to do for the sort of music I make. I ended up passing out at some ungodly hour and waking up with mysterious bruises all over my legs and arms, like I’d deliriously smacked myself into all of my equipment in a sleep deprived stupor.

Did you make all your songs by yourself? Are you planning to have a full band?

Yeah everything was done by me. No plans for a band at this point.

Who has been the biggest source of inspiration for you?

No one specifically. Maybe the based god.

What important lesson have you learned over past weeks of attention

People who do stuff for musicians get paid way more than musicians.

Where do you exactly live?

I live in my house in Melbourne, Australia.

Do you like living there?

It’s ok. The music scene is a little lacking maybe.

Are you part of any music community?

I’m part of the internet lo-fi illuminati.

Are you planning to start playing shows?

Not any time soon.

Are you getting any attention back home?

1 or 2 show offers every now and then. Essentially no.

What are your plans with this music project?

Just to keep pushing forward. I’ve got another album in the works.

Do you have any music dream?

I’d really like to move to America at some point and meet all the awesome people I’ve met on the internet.

What did you listen to as a kid?

As a kid I listened to a lot of Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Silverchair and Radiohead. A bunch of classic rock too and dumb Australian bands like Eskimo Joe.

Have you always wanted to play music? When and why did you learn to play a music instrument?

I’ve always wanted to be a musician for as long as I can remember, yeah. I learned how to play keys from an old Wurlitzer organ our family inherited.

Name three recent albums that has gotten your full attention.

The new Elvis Depressedly, obviously. And the new Eskimeaux and Girlpool albums are both amazing.

Read a short review of asdfasdf by Michael Hansford

Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers and photos by Katie Dey

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING LEW AND HENRY OF NICE LEGS

The best part of doing my music blog is meeting new people, whether in person or here in this virtual world. I have met Lew and Henry through music discoveries of our contributor Lar. I have also discovered that besides their solo projects Henry Demos and Lewtrakimou with a great cassette split on Fox Food Records, they all play in a band called Nice Legs based in Yogiga Gallery in Seoul, Korea. Both Lew and Henry have very interesting personalities and their music is really catchy. I have approached them with few questions to let them reveal a little bit more about their music, life story.

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How did you end up in Seoul, Korea?

Henry: Oh yeah something personal! Lew you go first!

Lew: I had a buddy Joe (Awkward Binoculars), who came here first, and asked me what the hell I was doing and told me to come on over and join the experimental music scene and etc.

Henry: Mine is easier! My wife and I really wanted to leave the US. We looked up what countries had really cool music and South Korea definitely had that going for it. So we chose it!

Your whole band is part of the community around Yogiga gallery. How did you become part of it?

Lew: My buddy Joe was already fully immersed in the Yogiga family, so I was accepted at default and felt that was my home from the first day until today, six years later. I owe a lot to those loveable weirdos and especially the head-weirdo Lee Han Joo, one of my best friends of life.

Henry: I actually went there my FIRST night in Korea. It was so strange and felt like basement shows back home. Beer all over the floor and clogged toilets… it was awesome.

Where are you all originally from?

Lew: This is the twilight zone segment of our story that NO ONE BELIEVES. I didn’t either, at first. A few years ago, Henry and I met, at Yogiga, of course, and at some drunken point we realized we were both from Arkansas. Then last year we realized we were actually born in the same year, about a month apart, in the very same hospital in North Little Rock. Our parents live about five minutes apart from each other.

What is the story behind your band?

Lew: I alllllllllllllllllways answer this one. Henry, it’s your turn, damnit.

Henry: Shit. Okay, so I am usually unemployed. My life partner Mary asked me to go busk for extra cash. It just so happened that Lew was sitting on our couch at the time. I asked her if she wanted to join me. We went out busking in Seoul improv sets for the next two weeks after that. It turned out we liked making music together. That works right?

Lew: Decent.

How did you come up with the name?

Lew: Don’t tell anyone, but it’s a line from a movie of supreme cinematic importance:  I’m sure you’ve heard of the director:  Dr. T. Wiseau.

I know you like DIY, bedroom style of making music. Why do you prefer it?

Lew: Because we’re lazy, for one thing. Also, it’s just the style that appeals to us. I’ve always been way more into fuzzy, slightly-off things, in art, film, and music, and humans in general.

Henry: Yeah, absolutely. We have both recorded in professional studios with great equipment and engineers but it never really felt honest. Like we were never in control of the outcome.  At home we are limited to really basic equipment of kids keyboards, some cheap mics, and guitars but with a little patience you can make really great stuff.

Do you prefer writing music alone or as a band?

Henry: Well, I can’t speak for Lew but absolutely as a band… Lew?

Lew: Definitely together. I still get surprised when what we both bring to the table comes together in a little bit of a magical way. And it’s just fun as shit playing music with your best friend.

What is the toughest part of a writing process?

Henry: Oh, I got this one. Knowing when enough is enough. Because it is home recording we can layer and layer and layer.

Lew: Because typically Henry records the music and then I write lyrics and melodies to it, sometimes it can be tricky. But when it comes together, it’s a great feeling.

Where do you get an inspiration for your lyrics, music?

Lew: As for the lyrics, they usually just come without any purpose. A lot of times they are stories, true and untrue about love lost or never had or unruly shenanigans or made up places and people. A lot of them end up being about my family or imaginary evenings.

Is it hard to write and play music in foreign country with a completely different culture?

Lew: No, not really. It’s been an incredibly friendly and accessible scene from the start.

Henry: I could be wrong here but I have a theory that people want to make loud music everywhere in the world. Plus you have all the outside influences around you that change your music for you.

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Do you speak Korean well?

Lew: I speak well enough that it’s more than just a party trick, but not so much that I could be of great use in a medical or diplomatic emergency. Henry knows how to say the Korean word for “sperm”.

Henry: Gotta keep people on their toes. Plus Lew totally speaks fluently and is just being fucking modest.

What is the toughest part of living in Korea?

Lew: Missing my family. My niece asked her parents the other day, “Does Lew have teeth?”

Henry: Just for context there… Lew’s niece is a toddler and not a crazy person. It is the same for me though. It can be tough not seeing my family whenever I want.

Lew: hahhaha. Thanks for clarifying.

What is your favorite thing about Seoul?

Lew: Our friends, daily unexpected adventures, little parks where everybody drinks, our neighborhood where everybody knows everybody but can’t remember their names and there’s always some reason to celebrate or put off doing whatever it was you were supposed to do.

Henry: Ditto. Those reasons alone should be enough for you to pack your bags and get the fuck over here.

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Are you digging Korean (Asian) culture?

Henry: Holy fuck yes. Every place is so wildly different and unique. Whenever I go back home I get some strange reverse culture shock and want to get right back on the plane and go back to Korea. Also Japan and Taiwan are totally amazing.

Lew: Perfectly stated.

Do you like any local bands?

Henry: Too many.

Lew: Yeah, so many greats: Anakin Project, Genius, Amatuer Amplifier, Third Line Butterfly…

Henry: And Table People, Tierpark, Vidulgi Ooyoo and holy fuck SILICA GEL. They rule way to hard.

What do you think about K-pop?

Henry: I try not to.

Lew: Is that a cereal?

Henry: Smart ass.

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Have you ever thought about moving somewhere else?

Henry: I think we are up for anything. How is Slovakia this time of year?

Lew: Slovakia.

I know your fans are mostly outside of Korea. Do you have an idea why it is like that?

Lew: We really lucked out with some UK exposure right off the bat.

Henry: Man, I wish I knew why but it feels really good.

What is your biggest music dream?

Lew: Just this I guess? Making music I love to play in my ratty old car when I’m back home.

Henry: I’m not that romantic. Touring for life is definitely my dream.

Lew: Oh, yeah. Shit. Yeah, me too me too. Touring forever and ever.

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What did you listen when you were a child?

Lew: Oldies radio. We were scared of the classical station.

Henry: My father listened to a ton of David Bowie so by… uh osmosis..that is probably the wrong word but anyway… I listened to Bowie. I also played Nirvana’s Nevermind until the tape died.

What is your favorite physical media?

Henry: These days tape for sure.

Lew: Vinyl or from like old videotape footage, more warped the better.

Henry: I take it back! VHS is my favorite! They had previews and terrible advertisements and other crap!

Name three last records you have bought.

Lew: Cancertron, Rj Myoto, Lee Han Joo/Sato Yukie, Table People

Henry: That’s four! Well, I got two Good, Good Blood and NEWFOUNDLAND

Lew: We can’t count too much.

——-

Henry: Thank you soo much.

Lew: Yeah, thanks a billion homie!

Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers by Lew and Henry
Photos by Douglas Vautour

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.

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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

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

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING JACK STANSBURY OF PRINCESS REASON

Behind the name Princess Reason you would probably look for a female musician, but the truth is different. Jack Stansbury formerly coming from College Park, Maryland – living now in Los Angeles, has been doing music under this name for a while. I remember following his music from its very beginnings and it always had a special place in my music collection. His songs have a special bedroom lo-fi vibe that is fitting for my taste. We worked a few times on compilations for my website and talk a little bit over Facebook about different music topics for quite some time now. I have decided to do a short interview with him about his music life as Princess Reason.

princess reason

When did you start playing guitar? Why this instrument?

I started playing guitar when I was 14 because my friends played and it seemed like a fun time. I became obsessed with music very quickly. Guitar was the easiest to play, and you can start writing your own songs on it after you learn two chords.

Who was the biggest motivation for you?

My friends that were already playing and trying to create things in a new way. I always drew and made things, but this was something different.

Do you prefer writing music by yourself?

I guess so. I write riffs constantly and then pair them with some words, and eventually a song sometimes emerges. However, when the song is played by the band the other players bring their own compositions to it and it changes. I prefer when what I’ve done alone is brought together with other contributions.

What is the toughest part of writing process?

Turning a riff into something that sticks, that i actually want to play over and over again.

What are the sources of inspiration for your lyrics?

With lyrics I mostly approach them as an element that complements the sound of the song. The actual words come from observations, characters, a mix of things.

Have you ever thought about stopping doing music?

Not really, it seems like I can’t stop making it. It’s just a part of what I do on a basic level.

Your songs have specific sound. How did you achieve that?

I think it’s probably my voice, it isn’t particularly good but it’s different. With my home recordings a specific sound developed just out of my limitations.

How did you end up with name Princess Reason?

Princess Reason is the name of a character from the book The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It is a book with a lot of puns, it’s one of my favorites. It is worth checking out, and definitely worth showing your kids (if you have any).

You have moved to California. What was the reason? Do you miss your hometown?

I moved to California to work in film, but I wasn’t very happy in LA and I came back to Baltimore. I’m very glad to be back home. I met some nice people in Los Angeles that I remain friends with, but it wasn’t for me.

Did the moving affect your music?

Not really in any kind of sound or genre way, I had less access to recording equipment in LA so that changed my recorded sound a little bit. I didn’t have drums so i used a keyboard drum track, and my amp was my roommates bass amp.

You were part of college label Tricot Records. Was it hard to have left it behind?

It is something I miss, but I also realize nostalgia isn’t worth spending a lot of time with.

You are planning a new release. What should listeners expect?

This is the first release to be recorded with a full band. I’ve been very lucky to play with great people. Mike (Drums) and Morgan (bass, vocals) are terrific musicians. It’s also the first release to be recorded outside of my room. We recorded the songs here in Baltimore with Chester Gwazda and the sound quality and mixing has significantly improved. He was awesome to work with and I think the recordings reflect it.

What your plans with Princess Reason? Do you have any musical dreams?

I’d like to keep making songs and playing with friends. That’s about all I need from it.

What did you listen to when you were a child?

When I was young it was probably mostly Beatles and Stones. The first CD I bought was “Big Willie Style” by Will Smith.

Which musicians inspire you the most?

My inspirations change but I’m I’ve been pretty consistently inspired by musicians and bands like Silkworm, Double Dagger, Malkmus, and a whole bunch more in a list that would be boring to read.

Name three recent albums that you find very good.

Peals “seltzer” tape, Romantic States self titled. My friends Ratburn put out a new record in January that is very enjoyable called “uncertain origins”.

Question by Filip Zemčík
Answers by Jack Stansbury
Photo by Megan Lloyd

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING JUDE NOEL OF HALF GIFTS

Despite the fact that I have never met Jude in person, we are pretty close. Especially when we are talking about music. We both run blogs and small (cassette) labels. Additionally, he publishes a small B/W zine in small editions. We have collaborated in several ways. The last thing we worked on together was a compilation for Valentine’s day. This short description fits to a young blogger Jude Noel from Half-Gifts living in Kentucky. Recently, he celebrated his 17th birthday, so I asked him few questions about his music endeavoring.

jude noel

How did you start doing your blog?

It started out in early 2012. I was starting to take an interest in writing at the same time that I was getting into bands like Wild Nothing and Craft Spells. I would always talk to my friends and parents about albums I was enjoying, but nobody I knew seemed to share the passion for discovering new music that I did. I decided to set up Half-Gifts as a music “diary” of sorts, a way to channel my interest into something constructive.

How old were you when you started your blog?

When I first started I had just turned fourteen. I feel like my age was something that made people interested in my reviews at first, so it definitely gave me an advantage when it came to attracting readers early on. Now that I’m seventeen, I find it fun to look back and see the progression of my writing and music tastes over time.

What was your motivation to start digging deeper in music scenes?

I remember during the summer after I finished fifth grade I was really starting to take an invested interest in music after watching Explosions in the Sky and The Decemberists play live on an episode of Austin City Limits. Besides the CD copy of Belle and Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister that my parents kept in the car, it was the first indie music I was exposed to. The Explosions In the Sky set affected me in particular. I remember waiting for one of the members of the band to start singing, but it never happened. I was transfixed by the quiet intensity of each person on stage and the minimal, intricate guitaristry. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I went out to Border’s Books and bought a copy of The World Is A Cold Dead Place soon afterward, which I listened to constantly. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite albums.

Discovering Bandcamp was what really got me deeper into underground music. The idea that someone’s bedroom recorded album can be heard instantly over the internet fascinated me and, as a person who can be obsessive about his interests, I began to spend a lot of my free time using the site to browse new shoegaze and chillwave music. From then on, Bandcamp browsing has been the main factor in what I listen to.

How do you manage going to school and blog?

School will always come first for me. Whenever I have a lot of free time to myself at home, I make it a point to take advantage of that and spend some of it working on material for Half-Gifts. Sometimes I’ll write a review on my lunch break in the library.

Are your classmates reading your blog? Did anyone want to contribute?

My closest friends have checked the blog out, but it seems like most of the readership is pretty far removed from me. It’s cool knowing that I can connect with people all around the world, though!

And not really, I have had a few people submit reviews to me and usually I’m more than happy to publish fan-written work.

How did you come up with idea of printed zine?

I picked up an issue of King Cat Comics at Shake it Records and found it beautifully intimate and personal. I see an issue of a zine as an open letter to all who stumble upon it and King Cat’s peaceful, zen-like approach to cartooning resonated with me, making me seek out more independent publications like it and ultimately to start a zine of my own.

Is it cost efficient to print your zine?

I usually break even by the time all the orders come in.

How long does it take to actually make it?

Usually two to three weeks. It takes a while to plan and compile interviews, but writing the reviews is quick and fun when I get into a groove.

How do you choose content for each issue?

I try to keep Half-Gifts as a record of my evolving tastes, so whatever I happen to be listening to at the time of publication is what I choose to include. This approach tends to give each issue a good variety of genres and sounds for me to write about.

Is your dream in the future to publish in a proper magazine about music?

That would be really cool! I love seeing my work in print; it makes it feel more “official”. My dream is honestly just to keep doing Half-Gifts! I have fun doing it and it gives me a sense of purpose. No matter what happens with Half-Gifts, I’ll be happy as long as I’m still writing about the music I enjoy.

Do you prefer working alone?

Yeah, I’m really particular about the image of my work. I like for everything down to the design of the blog to reflect my personality and state of mind. I want it to be a diary of sorts. But if I enjoy someone’s artwork or their writing and they’re interested in submitting material for the zine I’m totally cool with it!

How do you choose bands for your reviews?

I usually choose whatever I’m most enjoying at the moment whenever I get the chance to sit down and write. I make sure to write about music that’s fresh in my mind. The main criteria for what I review is that it has to be beautiful, minimal and intimate. If an album fulfills those three requirements, I’m probably going to like it enough to give it a review.

Do you read reviews on other sites?

Yup! When I do, I check out Cassette Gods and Raised By Gypsies. (and Start-Track of course!)

What do you think about writing negative reviews?

I refuse to do it, at least on my personal blog. Since I’m reviewing pretty obscure music, I feel like it would be destructive to hit them with a bad review. I prefer to make honest recommendations rather than to tear an album to shreds. If I were reviewing more well-known albums for a larger magazine/website, then I’d feel more comfortable panning an album. There’s so much negativity out there and I find positivity more rewarding.

Do you think there is something like an ultimate taste?

As long as you are actively seeking out new music and are willing to give anything a shot, your taste is the ultimate taste! Sounds kind of corny, but it’s something that’s taken me a long time to figure out.

What do you think of sites like Pitchfork?

I check them out occasionally, but I don’t have much of an opinion one way or another. I wish they’d review more bandcamp albums, though.

Is your taste progressing as you are getting older?

For sure. When I first started the blog I listened almost exclusively to shoegaze and chillwave. Now I’m into a much greater variety of music. I’m mostly into twee-ish stuff at the moment. I listen to a lot of c86, PC Music and lo-fi pop these days. I’m starting to listen to more pop music too, haha. I like Chris Brown’s “Loyal” more than I’d like to admit, and I’ve started to get into Madonna.

Do you play music yourself?

I make little song sketches on Garageband for fun. Making shoegaze and Yung Lean inspired hip-hop is fun for me as I love to layer guitar riffs and synths on top of each other.

Did you ever want to be in a band?

Yeah! It’d be fun! I’m always down to collaborate on music with new people.

What your plan for future with your blog/label?

Just to keep doing what I’m doing and to have fun with it! I’d like to come out with a t-shirt or something, though. That would be neat.

Name three songs that have been stucked in your head recently.

Madonna – “Live To Tell”, Jessica and the Fletchers – “Air Balloon Road”, Earl Sweatshirt – “Grief”

And lastly, name three bands that had shaped your music taste the most.

Wild Nothing, Tiger Trap, Cocteau Twins

Questions by Filip Zemčík
Answers and photo by Jude Noel

http://half-gifts.blogspot.com/

Review ~ ACAB Rocky – Truce ~ by Filip Zemcik

When you know a band from its starting point, you can see the whole development of their music. ACAB Rocky from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada is one of these cases. I know Samuel Wells since his previous music endeavouring, when he was playing in Jackie Trash. I released their EP on a cassette a while ago. After some time, he decided to begin with a new project and that is how ACAB Rocky was born. The fact is, I have followed them from the beginning and became one of their earliest big fans. I can remember listening to their first two releases, which belonged to my lo-fi lieblings.

Nevertheless, those times have passed and they have come out with a new album and a completely different sound and atmosphere. The truth is, I had a chance to listen to Truce before it was officially released and I was overwhelmed by how they have progressed. At some point, bands decide that it’s time to “grow up” and decide to do a studio album. In the case of lo-fi bands, this transition may harm their uniqueness and make the sound flat, inclining to mainstream ones. However, ACAB Rocky have managed this pretty well, and released a solid album.

To be more specific, the opening song Matches, released as a single before the whole album was out, belongs to those you can listen over and over. The catching phrase “I don’t know what you’re up to, or up against” lingers in your mind forever. The math-rocky riffs in the background are mastered in excellently. The rest of the album is much slower, with various shoegaze passages, and Samuel´s voice slowly singing the lyrics makes you sink into songs even deeper. Additionally, all guitar riffs are completing every single song, and what more in several moments create an amazing dreamy atmosphere.

When listening to songs on loop you are able to discover that little nuances which make every song really unique. Especially in case of Stella, the slow and grungy passages of the leading guitar are made in perfect balance. The best way to fully grasp the essence of the whole album is to put headphones on, play it loudly and enjoy every bit of it. I like how ACAB Rocky has moved their sound to a more mature level and songs are full of hidden gems.

Truce definitely belongs to your playlist and you should head to their bandcamp and buy their music. I wish they could get a bigger buzz for such great piece of music. Moreover, I am looking forward their further albums. I expect even greater pieces, which will shine in my (not only digital) music collections. I am really glad I have come across this band through my blog. ACAB Rocky belongs to the best young bands in the current music scene in Canada.

Buy a cassette via Hacktivism Records.

Read an interview with Samuel Wells from ACAB Rocky.

Text by Filip Zemcik 
Photo by ACAB Rocky

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING SAMUEL WELLS OF ACAB ROCKY

Samuel Wells is a young musician from Victoria, British Columbia. I first came across his name when I started listening to Jackie Trash and later on released their album on cassette. He then started a new band called ACAB Rocky with similar lo-fi sound as JT. This year he released two ambient albums under his own name. However, now he and his pals from ACAB rocky are going to release their new studio album. When I first heard the new single Matches, I immediately fell into it and have decided to ask Sam a few questions about his music projects and his life in Canada.

sam wells

You are releasing in the near future a new album with a completely different sound than previous releases. How have you decided to do your studio album?

Well we have always just made the music that was appealing to us. When we started working on a new studio album, we were listening to a lot of math rock, and emo music so naturally it melded into what we were doing.

Did you have a clear idea before recording how the new album will sound?

Both yes, and no. When we went to Vancouver to record we definitely knew we wanted all the layered guitar parts, but a lot of the synth work that shows up on the EP was added during the mixing stage, and just came of experimentation.

ACAB Rocky is three-piece band. Do you have a lot of time to practice?

We practice pretty frequently to stay tight for shows.

What’s the story behind your name?

When we first started the project we just chose it as a joke. “ACAB” is a very typical punk saying that we just thought was sort of funny. Eventually the band name will change, but it’s alright for now.

You are all pretty young. Are you on the same page with the plans for the band?

We like to take things one step at a time. I think we all definitely want to tour, and put out another record in the near future. Other than that though we haven’t thought a whole lot about what exactly we’re going to do.

I assume you are all from Canada. How did you guys all met?

Well, Oliver (drums) and I grew up together as kids. We’ve known each other for about 13 years now. As for Colt (bass) about 3 years ago we started a very short lived punk band with another friend of ours which Colt was a part of. When ACAB started playing live we needed a bassist so we brought in Colt, and he has since become a full time member of the band.

Does your hometown of Victoria have any music community?

Indeed it does. It has a huge punk and metal community. As well as fairly sizeable folk community. Victoria is a pretty artistic town so there is always plenty going on.

Which bands from your area would you recommend to listen to?

Pinner and is a great lo-fi garage-y band that I love very much. Also Woolworm (who are actually from Vancouver) is as extremely underrated band.

Have you ever thought about moving somewhere else? Where it would be?

Being that we’re all still in High School it’s hard to say exactly what will happen, but I think Oliver and I plan to move at some point. I’ve always found places like Olympia appealing, but as of late have also been considering Montreal.

Recently you have started a solo project with a more ambient, experimental feel. Have you been creating the songs for a longer time period or it is just a recent thing?

For quite a while now I’ve loved ambient and experimental music. Maybe 4-5 months ago I just started making it out of boredom, and found it extremely enjoyable. I threw it online to see if anyone would be interested, and it’s been going quite well. I plan to release a full length sometime in the middle of this year.

Which bands have shaped your music taste when you were growing up?

I grew up on some modern classics like Neutral Milk Hotel, and bands of that sort, but a few artists who have shaped what I do would be Mount Eerie/The Microphones, Steve Reich, Tim Hecker, Swans, Slint, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Women.

Was having a band your dream? How did you come to play music?

I grew up around a lot of music. My father, brother, and cousin are all professional musicians so I think it was implanted in my head at a young age that I could in theory do that. I always played some kind of instrument, but it wasn’t till I turned 15 that I started taking it a bit more seriously.

What do you find the most difficult about writing lyrics? What’s your inspiration?

I have trouble writing directly about myself. I find it easier to just write about characters. Even when singing in first person it’s more than likely not directly referencing myself. I also write a lot of my lyrics while recording, and just see what happens.

What is your biggest dream regarding the ACAB Rocky or your solo project?

Personally I’d love to see something I put out get a vinyl release, as I collect vinyl myself.

And here is the new ACAB Rocky’s single:

Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers by Samuel Wells from ACAB Rocky

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING MOLLY DRAG AND THEIR ALBUM DEEPLY FLAWED

Molly Drag is new sad-pop project of Michael Hansford from London, Ontario, Canada. I have known Michael for a long time. We worked together on a cassette release on our label Z Tapes under his other moniker The Raspberry Heaven. He also did two reviews for START-TRACK and we talked a lot about music. Now, his new project Molly Drag has recorded a new 76 minutes long LP, and I have decide to ask him some questions.

michael hansford

The first time I came across your name it was connected to your previous project, The Raspberry Heaven. Why have you decided to start a new one under different name? Does it mean that your old moniker is dead?

The Raspberry Heaven is a band only now. We only write and play shows together. So it’s not a moniker of any sort. Molly Drag, however, is only me. I write it, and sometimes will have a backing band.

Your new album is finished and you posted on your facebook that it depicts your last 4 years. Have you been writing these songs for a longer period of time?

Basically these songs have been kicking around either on paper or in the back of my mind. I kept them messy for a while, and then my good friend Jake Jackman came over and helped me come up with the idea to record a double album. I already had the “molly drag” title in mind for a solo project. The songs poured out very naturally after we started. And for basically two months, I would work, walk an hour home, record all night. It was quite cathartic.

ghost

Is it hard to write and sing about topics that are connected to your life?

Yeah, it’s difficult sometimes.  But also relieving. It feels good after a while.

Most of the songs have sad, emo vibes. Is it coming from your personal feelings or it is a music style you feel good in?

Most of it is storytelling of things that have happened. Some of the stories aren’t even mine, but from friends of mine. It feels good being able to be honest through you art or whatever.

You live now in London, but you grew up in Midland. Do you miss your hometown?

I actually got to visit Midland over the holidays after two years without being back. It was crazy. Living in London is cool, but I will always have a deep love for where I grew up and how beautiful it is in the winter.

molly drag

When you moved to different town, did you try to fit in? Have you became part of a music community?

No. I just went to college. Started meeting people. Went to shows. And then I found myself opening for Bif Naked at Call The Office here in London, and then the music thing turned into a weekly thing. It happened very fast actually.

What are some of your favorite bands in the area you live?

There’s so much good music in London right now. Currently, I’m really into Raised By Swans, Single Mothers, Drew Thomson’s solo stuff, Heart Attack Kids, Hindsight, First Ghost… there’s so much I’m forgetting I think, but yeah, the scene is strong here right now.

Did you ever consider moving somewhere else? To another country?

I would love to move to Boston, or even Philadelphia so I could get to see all my favorite bands, but I’ve always wanted to move to France for the food.

molly drag 2

You work closely with Fog Lake from other part of Canada. How did you become friends with him?

Aaron from Fog Lake and I have been talking for a long time, around 2 years almost. We collaborated on an old Raspberry Heaven song. Then this past summer, we did a short tour together and I filled in as an extra guitarist for his live act. It was so cool because I think his music is absolutely stunning.

Do you have any dreams connected to your music?

I just want to be able to keep recording my own albums and playing shows with other cool people. I really want to start touring more with friends and make new friends.

What are your plans with this new project?

I am hoping to play some shows out in Seattle with the Hellur Records family. Zayn and the guys from the band Mixtape Minus have helped me so much in order to release this album properly. It means so much to me. I really want to go party with those guys.

Have you consider touring USA or other countries?

A tour in the east coast of the states would be cool. I’ve always wanted to play a show in Philadelphia, or New Jersey or something. I really want to travel a lot more this year and would love to tour after I release this album.

Molly Drag’s new album is coming out tomorrow (10/1/2015) on Hellur Records, listen to it here:

Read a review of Deeply Flawed written by Lukas Foote here.

Questions by Filip Zemcik

Answers and photos by Michael Hansford from Molly Drag

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING SKYMNING AND HIS ALBUM REKINDLE

Recently I had chance to ask Skymning coming out of beautiful lands of New Zealand few questions and also premiere his new album Rekindle. You can listen to his beautiful ambient music on bandcamp.

rekindle

I grew up in Slovakia which has always been on music (cultural) periphery. New Zealand seems to be in similar position. How the music has been growing there and how it was able to spread to other countries?

I guess New Zealand is the same to an extent – we’re pretty far away from everywhere and although in more recent years we’ve seen a lot more international artists touring it still seems ignored to some extent. The New Zealand music scene itself is pretty great. There are a whole bunch of artists doing awesome things and plenty of local shows to go to which is great. I guess without the internet I’d have pretty much no chance of spreading my music internationally or even within New Zealand for that matter. But things like Soundcloud and Bandcamp really give you the best platform to promote your music to an international audience.

Do you like creating music in New Zealand?

New Zealand is the only country I’ve ever lived in so I’ve not got anything to compare it to so I guess my answer would have to be yes. It’s a really beautiful country. I live in the capital and I’m still surrounded by nature most of the time which is great. I guess I draw a lot of inspiration with my music from nature just in terms of creating environmental soundscapes. It’s really important for me to not be trapped in a windowless apartment in the middle of a massive city so I’m very fortunate.

Have you ever considered moving somewhere else? Where it would be?

I’d like to travel but I have no idea where I’d choose to move. The world is such a massive place. I guess Scandinavia seems pretty untouched and beautiful much like New Zealand. I mean the name Skymning is Swedish so I guess I have some kind of attraction to that part of the world. We don’t get much snow here either I think I’d like that.

Are you part of a music community or has your music been produced in solitude? Also past months many artists from New Zealand have been getting worldwide recognition. Why not sooner?

I began making music in solitude but the New Zealand music community is pretty small so I guess it wasn’t too long till I felt like I was a part of something bigger. I work with a collective called Kerosene Comic Book and it’s been great working with them to put together remixes or mixtapes. I haven’t been following her music too closely but I guess Lorde is probably behind recent international recognition of New Zealand music. Having a #1 single on the American chats and winning Grammys is pretty amazing for a girl her age regardless of location.

skymning

What are your favorite artists from New Zealand?

To be honest most of my favourite New Zealand artists are just friends I’ve met through music. People like Race Banyon Eskimo Eyes Yvnalesca. There seems to be a growing electronic beat scene within young New Zealanders and it’s really exciting to see it evolve. Bands like Caroles Cheats and Sheep Dog&Wolf are awesome too. I went to some festivals over the summer – some of which had international artists but some just local and it was great to see just how much is going on in such a small country.

You have been working on new album. Will it be different to previous stuff you have made?

Right now I’m working towards another mixtape with the collective I was talking about before Kerosene Comic Book. There are a bunch of us (Race Banyon Yvnalesca Totems Career Girls – the list goes on) who all have the same goals with our music I guess. We’ve put out a couple of mixtapes so far and it’s just really nice being able to support each other and kind of pool whatever buzz we have as individual artists into hyping up compilations we’re all really happy with. We’re releasing the tape on 4/20/2014 keep an eye out. kerosenecomicbook.com

What was your biggest inspiration when writing new songs? What is the toughest part of doing music?

As I said before my biggest inspiration is probably my environment. It’s great working with a collective too I feel like hearing how amazing everyone elses’ music is has really pushed me to try and do better and I think everyone else feels the same. The toughest part for me is probably just trying to stay original and developing my music. Creating my own sound which is consistent with my other releases and doesn’t sound like I’m ripping off another artist’s sound.

And lastly list three top artists right now?

Oh man that’s a hard one. First I’d have to say Ricky Eat Acid. Three Love Songs is absolutely incredible I’m so gutted I missed the 12″” of that. Hmm second maybe I’ll say Race Banyon. The dude’s only 17 and is by far one of the most talented dudes in the country. I just want the best for him I really hope he starts to get some massive international recognition because he really deserves it. Lastly I’ll say Lil Wayne. If you haven’t given him a chance now’s the time download Dedication 2 and Da Drought 3 and get buck!

And as bonus here is a premiere of new beautiful album Rekindle:

Questions by Filip Zemcik

Answers and photos by Skymning

WILDERNESS YEARS IN EARS OF FILIP ZEMCIK

Introducing Michael Bringardner aka Michael Parallax from the heart of Florida is not necessary for many of you. It has been a while since I have discovered Michael’s music. I still remember listening to Vicious People over and over again in the summer of 2012 while I was working at my father’s company. During that time I never thought that I would have a chance to meet Michael in person and see his live performance.

It was last summer when I visited Orlando for the musical festival Total Bummer 4ever –  the best festival I have ever gone to – that I was able to experience Michael’s music live. Seeing Michael’s live set was definitely one of the best moments of the festival. A crowd dancing wildly bodies covered with sweat singing together on every song and feeling the enormous energy flowing through Michael. It was a collective spiritual and musical experience. Moreover for his set’s finale we followed Michael to a building under construction to sing with him ending our musical séance. It would not be the last time I saw him live.

I had the great honor of touring with Michael and his amazing sister Malee aka MoonLasso for a few weeks. I was travelling with them from Florida up to Philadelphia and experiencing their live sets over and over. I danced every single night and never did I feel bored. Michael playing his music live is something you want to see and hear again and again. Somehow you are always connected to him and you feel the music flowing through your body especially your heart. You have to experience the feeling to understand.

When I heard Michael was working on a new album I was excited because I knew it was going to be great. I expected that some songs that I heard at shows would be included. I knew the album versions would be different but I was sure I would not be disappointed. I am not.

Wilderness Years (Spirit Cat) as a whole has no weak point every song stands on its own merit. Each song carries some message hidden in the text wrapped in beautiful music and melodies. The intro Two Years along with Growing Splendid has the ambient folk fusion found on Michael’s previous record Vicious People but rest of the new album is highly built upon samples catchy beats different sparkling sounds and the pop-y styling of Michael’s voice.

The album has so many fine musical details which are only discovered after many repeated listens. Michael paid a lot of attention to make everything sound perfect. Simple dance beats combined with galactic noises and catchy lyrics makes you want to dance and sing along with him.

Michael uses his lyrics to tell stories about love and so strong is the imagery that you feel like you have experienced it too. Michael in his songs often invokes nostalgia with references to older hits which most of us remember from our childhood and from our parent’s playlists. When both aspects are combined the songs are so easy to sing along with; therefore everyone eventually ends up doing just that.

A simple description of this type of music is provided by Michael himself when he labels his music as “Celebratory Electronic Spiritual Revival Tent Music”. The spiritual feeling in the songs is especially strong and it gradually creates a bond between you and your musical priest Michael Parallax. It is harder to do it while listening to the album on your iPod but once you experience it live you will feel it forever. If you ever have a chance to see him do not miss that opportunity. I know I will go to Michael’s shows as many times as I can and I know it will never be enough. It is similar with this album which is currently being looped in my ears for many hours.

Go and grab Michael’s album whether a digital copy or a cassette from my great friends at the label Spirit Cat from Tallahassee. They are all great people and I will support them forever because they deserve that and much more. If you have met them you would understand why. And finally an excerpt from song Growing Splendid to demonstrate Michael’s amazing songwriting skills:

“I don’t talk to ghosts
I can still see them
i can hear them laugh at me
when i’m talking to the ceiling
i don’t believe it’s cold
i don’t believe it’s winter
you can’t hear the branches breaking
i can’t hear them either
do you believe in love
do you believe i’m loving
do you believe in anything
is there anything worth believing
do you believe in trust
do you believe i’m trusting
won’t you tell me anything
well i don’t believe you.”

Text by Filip Zemcik

Photo by James Dechert