Focus: SHIPS

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We are focusing today on Dublin’s synth-pop duo, SHIPS. A musical project of Simon and Sorca as SHIPS started in 2012. Continously releasing a strong suite of singles since 2012, the duo has finally released their debut album last May, titled Precession. We have spoken to Simon and Sorca about the making of this album and how the concept of the album, which was inspired by what was learnt throughout their life, the past and future.

Interview: SHIPS
By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, June 2, 2017

Hello! Very nice to meet you. How’s everything?
Hi, lovely to meet you, everything is well here for us in Dublin.  Thanks for inviting us to chat.

We always ask artists this question. Please describe Ships in three words.
Sorca: Hmmm three? I’m not sure I have one that would do, Simon?
Simon: I’ll stick to empirical descriptions, Duo, suffix, journey

What’s the creative role between the two?
We write songs together and sometimes separately, and we record them here at our home, in Dublin.We both like to sing and play different instruments and we like to sit together and share production ideas, then try to make them happen, and we take turns making dinner.

We read that most recording is done in house. What’s your set up?
We have a small studio set up in the attic. It’s cosy, with a big sky light. There are some synthsisers, bass guitars, regular guitars and a few other odds and ends.
The music is recorded and mixed onto a computer and the rest is history.

You have been making music since 2012. How did it all start?
When we met we had an instant connection around our musical loves and we just took it from there.  We’ve been writing and preforming together ever since. We’ve put out a few of singles over the years, each quite different, mostly just trying ideas out.

And in May, you have released your debut album. What took you so long?
We just followed the natural course of things, we didn’t rush in, and it happened when it was ready.

‘Precession’ is the name of the album and you said that this album draws inspiration from what you’ve learned in the past and what there is still to learn. Can you tell us why and how you reached to this concept?
Much of our experience of life is rooted in cycles.  We are all part of our own set of cycles, from experiences, to emotional cycles and of course, intrinsically tied to the cycles of our planet, our galaxy and our universe. One of the beautiful aspects of experiencing something again and again, is that you get a chance to take with you what you learned from before, and add it to the experience, each time it comes around. Making each personal precession uniquely different, with something new to learn at every moment.

And how is it reflected in the songs featured in the album?
Each song speaks of parts of ourselves that have learned something along the way. They are as much a selection of songs about the self as they are about the experience of being human in general. They kind of speak directly from experience, none are abstract or have storylines, you might say they are upfront and transparant in this way.

I believe that by learning something new, you continue to discover more to learn. Do you agree?
Absolutely! Although at times it might seem daunting that behind every door is another door, it’s also very exciting!

What do you believe in music?
Music is a powerful evoker of emotion that cuts across barriers of language or understanding. Music is for everyone.

What’s next for Ships? Touring Japan anytime soon?
We would love to tour Japan, we’re drawn to your culture’s strong connection with the planet and respect for nature. We’d love to visit and play music there along the way!

Follow SHIPS
Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud
Bandcamp

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Year End Interview: flau

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Japanese record label Flau has been releasing an array of sensitive, beautiful music for nearly a decade, building a loyal following among discerning listeners in Japan and beyond. Their output ranges from folk and pop to experimental techno, but there is always a delicate sensibility that runs through every record, a quality that characterizes the Flau sound. We talked to Flau owner Yasuhiko Fukuzono about 2016 and where the label might be headed in coming years, on this special year-end interview.

Year End Interview: flau
By Alisa Yamasaki, December 31, 2016

What were the most memorable releases to you this year?
Serpentwithfeet left a big impression on me, with both his music and visuals.
In terms of Japanese releases, I listened to Little Museum of Bird, Asa-Chang & Junray and Theater 1. For overseas releases, I listened to Lee Lang and Beatrice Dillon a lot.

What about Flau releases?
At the end of last year, we released two albums (Ocean and Farewell) from the Taiwanese ensemble Cicada, and did a Japanese tour as well. The first release from Flau this year was by Port St. Willow, a singer-songwriter from New York. We couldn’t do a concert here, but he visited several times and we caught up. He told me all about gentrification, Donald Trump and moving to a suburb up North with friends. I helped with the BRRWD compilation, the project between Repeat Pattern and Ta-ku, as well as Submerse’s zine. We also had releases by Submerse, Fabio Caramuru and Molnbar av John. I really want Caramuru and av John to tour Japan next year. For reissues, we had Robert Lippok from Raum and MOTORO FAAM from Flau.

Were there any standout moments for the label this year? What were some new discoveries as a label owner?
We actually had the fewest releases and tours this year, but there were also a lot of interesting experiences through overseas festival bookings and compilations. There seems to be more of a focus on “Cool Japan” music at festivals overseas, and I had to think of how Flau as a label should be involved in that scene. These days I’m interested in how to support the growth of artists who’ve released on my label.

What are some labels you’ve been checking out recently?
I like to discover new labels through Bandcamp and SoundCloud and immediately download music, but I tend to forget to follow up on the labels. I always check out labels that Flau has a close relationship with. Sweet Dreams Press is a label that continues to inspire me.

There are countless microgenres in Tokyo alone. Are there any trends that have caught your attention in the Japanese music scene?
I’m not sure if it counts as a microgenre but I’m interested in local communities that aren’t visible through the internet. Shifts in styles and attitudes among groups are fascinating to me in general.

Flau has impacted the Japanese music scene not only through its releases, but also through its events. How do you approach event curation? What do you have in mind when showcasing live music?
With our regular event Foundland, I do think about how to create a relaxing environment for music. I want to keep throwing events that have the music front and center, not as background music.

What makes you want to release an artist’s music on Flau? Have there been any changes in the “Flau sound” over the years?
I used to only look at completed projects, but these days I’m moved by unfinished work as long as the artist’s personality shows through. I enjoy the process that begins there, thinking with the artists on how to present the project and how to connect it with the public. The label’s taste has changed since it first started. These days I want to release music by artists from Japan and Asia.

What makes Flau special is not only the style of music, but an entire personality created through the record artwork as well. Do you decide on the artwork? Is looking for good art like looking for good music?
I usually choose the artwork but sometimes the artists have requests too. I try to incorporate artwork that reflects the label’s style. I tend to rely on my instincts but I trust Ryuto Miyake who drew the Flau cat. I ask him to do a lot of artwork for the label. It’s the same for music, but I like art that doesn’t try to be weird or edgy for the sake of it, and has a classy aspect to it. A playful spirit is always great.

Do you think 2016 was a good year for Japanese artists abroad?
There are plenty of Japanese artists who do well in alternative scenes abroad, but these days I feel like major Japanese artists are also breaking through. With the internet it’s become so easy to trace what influenced today’s music scene, so in that sense I think a lot of older Japanese ambient and New Age records are going to be talked about again.

What are your goals for 2017 as a label?
We already have a lot of releases lined up for next year, like records by British harpist Emma Gatrill, a collaboration between Tomo Akikawabaya’s project The Future Eve and Robert Wyatt, as well as new projects by Noah and Henning Schmiedt. As I mentioned earlier, I want to focus more on small, local communities. You’ll be seeing more releases by Japanese artists.

Flau is turning 10 years old next year. How does it feel?
I want to use this upcoming year wisely so there will be a 20 year anniversary to celebrate in the future. I’m constantly looking for new talent, so please send me demos!

Connect with flau

Official
Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud
Bandcamp

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Year End Interview: King Deluxe

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2016 might be one of the worst years the history could ever remember. God can only guess what the future holds. But as for the futuristic sounds of music, we can always count on King Deluxe, a Vancouver based record label that specialises in exploring the most cutting-edge, visual, and futuristic (and unsigned) artists of the moment. We had a chance to speak with a founder of the label, PK. We talked about who King Deluxe is, their take on 2016, and their own view on the music industry.

Year End Interview: King Deluxe
By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, December 28, 2016

Can you tell us a little bit about King Deluxe? Who is behind the label? Where is it based?
We’re based mostly in cyberspace, with me running things currently from Vancouver. With me are a loose collective of artists that sometimes work together, for this label and elsewhere. Plus we constantly have new people contributing from all over the planet although a lot of those are animators and 3D modelers. I myself am a treeplanter, living remotely up in northern Canada for parts of the year. On one hand it makes it challenging to run a label year round but it also allows me to devote myself almost entirely to King Deluxe the rest of the time.

What’s King Deluxe’s manifesto?
It used to be something along the lines of let’s make future sounds. Then it evolved to lets make future sounds and sync it with cool visualizations that nobody’s seen before. Now, it’s to put people right inside of our creations. And eventually have our art interact with them.

Wave Arp from King Deluxe on Vimeo.

King Deluxe seems really particular about its curation. How do you find emerging artists and how do you approach them?
I spend a lot of time obsessively digging for new sounds and visual art when I’m not living in a tent, so the majority of the people working with the label are those I approached because I found it criminal that they weren’t already signed to a larger label. In the summers I have lots of time out in nature to listen to the music I’ve collected. It’s getting a bit easier though every year to find a good data connection up north, so I’m not entirely cut off.

Globally a lot has happened in 2016. For King Deluxe, what was the biggest news? What excited you the most?
On one hand the rise of global populism is disheartening, on the other we finally have impressive virtual reality devices, and a ton of creativity happening within this new medium. It’s early days but quite exciting to me. So years later looking back at 2017 we may all view it as the beginning of the slide into a 1984 style hellscape, but at the same time we’ll be able to escape into our stylized virtual dreamworlds, so it won’t be all bad.

While the streaming sites have been re-defining how we consume music, what’s your view on the music industry now?
I know we’re not the only ones finding it difficult to reach audiences and sell our work, streaming is definitely up but overall I feel like we’re in a dip that won’t last forever. Soundcloud once led the way when it came to showcasing fresh sounds and now we need the next big platform to come along. These things move in cycles and I’ve been around long enough to experience the rise and fall of many others, including Audiogalaxy, MP3.com, and Myspace, to name a few important ones.

Basically we need central hubs of new work from those pushing the form, that’s easily searchable and is great for keeping tabs on the artist as well as letting you get in touch with friends with similar tastes. The scene right now is too fractured, but I do think there’s a lot of potential to make a living doing music. I would be surprised if Spotify remains vital for too long unless they overhaul their business model.

As for King Deluxe, you’ll be able to find lots of our new stuff on Steam soon enough. It’s the best place to find VR works and that’s a big focus for 2018. Expect music videos (and short films) that completely immerse people, with 360 youtube versions for those without access to these headsets. Also we’re working on a virtual music festival.

Your Gay Thoughts – To Disappear from densuke28 on Vimeo.

Favourite album:
DVA – [HI:EMOTIONS]

Favourite track:
Julien Mier – Smokestacks, Shorelines

Favourite music video:
most intractable earworm – Genghis Khan

Favourite audio production / radioplay: MarsCorp
http://marscorppodcast.com

Music peripheral I could no longer live without:
Subpac M1

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Connect with King Deluxe
Facebook
Bandcamp
Official

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Interview: LANKS

ivanhoe shot 1LANKS doesn’t need a label to help make rules. Neither did he need lots of money to create art. He collaborates with friends and family. He believes in people who believe in music. His third EP Viet Rose, which he co-produced with Andrei Eremin, is the absolute proof. The lead singles, “Golden Age” and “Holla” are emotional and experimental take on pop music, while hypnotic “Sometimes” takes hints from the likes of Vaporwave. The final song “Kyneton” may remind listeners of Radiohead ballads; bleak, ghostly, and poignant. Viet Rose, which is named after his favourite Laksa restaurant in Melbourne, is a wonderful representation of who LANKS is, and arguably the best.

Lights + Music sent this Melbourne-based artist a bunch of questions to find out who he is, how he challenges himself on creativity, the making of his new EP, and what he would do to a penguin in a fridge.

Interview: LANKS
By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, October 16, 2016

So, who is Lanks?
LANKS is me. It is my current artistic journey and persona. Some people don’t even know my real name anymore, and this really does feel more like me now. In real life I try to be balanced and level-headed but with LANKS I try to dive deep into my thoughts and emotions.

What songs best describe your personality?
Of my own songs I think Holla is probably the best showcase of me. Emotional and uplifting and there are lots of layers and sections and ideas that all converge to make one big interesting mess. I think that’s me. If I’m looking at other people’s work, I’m not sure, maybe ‘You And Whose Army?’ off Radiohead’s Amnesiac. I like questioning accepted norms and trying to break them, and I think that carries that message a bit.

Have you always been a musical kid since you were growing up?
My older sister and I learned music together from a pretty young age (she played Trombone/keys and I played flute/guitar) and were always playing music together, and even went on to study jazz at the Victorian College of the Arts. So music has always been in the family, jamming out all together and being introduced to the fun and creative side of music first and foremost. My cousin is also a musician, making music under the name Ry X (also in The Acid and Howling).

How old were you when you put your own song online for the first time? Do you remember what it sounded like?
I was always making things, as soon as I picked up an instrument I like creating. I still remember how to play the first full song I wrote when I was 12. I’m not sure if that was the first song I uploaded or not, but I had a bunch of songs I uploaded to myspace as a teenager, and across a few different random soundcloud accounts I probably have a hundred or so random songs and ideas still live on the internet.

Living in Tokyo, it is difficult to see what is actually happening in Melbourne! What is the music scene/community like in Melbourne?
The music scene here is amazing! It feels like there are lots of supportive people and talented creative people all working hard and growing together. Seriously, check out Kllo, Hayden Calnin, Woodes, Big Scary, Andrei Eremin just to name a few. There are lots of people pushing interesting and creative music here, and they are all starting to really impress on the world stage so it’s an exciting time coming up I feel.

I read that you have a home studio. What is your setup like?
It’s pretty minimal and I would like to invest in a few more pieces soon, but I am also a fan of working with restrictions. I have a piano, a guitar, a flute, a mic and a laptop. I only have one plugin right now. It’s been fun making 3 EPs with this same setup, it forces you to be creative when you don’t have a lot. Working with Andrei Eremin on co-production and mixing/mastering helped me bring the songs out and develop them the extra bit they needed though.

How often do you write songs?
I try to write as close to everyday as I can. While on tour I have been writing a little bit less but still making things. I hit road blocks all the time but laziness doesn’t solve problems. A thoughtful, open-eyed, and self-questioning approach is best I find.

When there are too many or too little ideas and you are hitting a creative wall, what do you do to break it?
Creativity and songwriting is all about problem solving, and the longer you stand still for the more you get attached to what was there also. I think my creations have become a lot better the more I have learned to open up a song again and continue developing it. If you sit down and are prepared to spend hours on it and it’s not waste if you don’t use any of those ideas you just came up with, then you’ll be ok. It takes a long time to make something that you are really excited about I think, so devote lots of time to exploring.

More specifically, if you do get stuck, you can also try going for a walk, writing with a different instrument, introducing chance (write notes on pieces of paper and draw them out of a hat or roll a dice), forcing yourself to play on only one string on the guitar or only 2 fingers on the piano, etc etc. Essentially what you’re trying to do is break your natural patterns that your brain wants to walk down. Get out of your comfort zone, the possibilities are endless.

Acoustic and electronic instruments are mixed really nicely in your music. Instrumentation wise, how do you approach songwriting?
I just make sounds with whatever I have around me and that shapes the songs and sonic palette. I love playing piano and I have been playing guitar most of my life, as well as flute, so I experiment a lot with those. I like making sounds that sound unusual to me. That’s what I am always hunting for, something that excites my ear. And the process of creating songs with computers is like weaving a tapestry and takes a lot of time. I really enjoy the process of making things.

a3826445125_10Your grandmother is providing you some of the artworks for your recent releases. How did this collaboration happen?
My grandma is a fantastic visual artist and after she designed a tattoo for my sister’s 21st I think there was always an idea in the back of my mind to collaborate with her at some point. My best friend and housemate Will Devereux had done all my cover art up until this year and all my design work, so it was nice to get him to work with my grandma and with her illustrations Will manipulated them a bit and brought a little extra to them also, a bit like a mixing engineer actually. I’ve always been a big fan of my grandma’s work and it has been a real joy to share in this experience with her. No matter what happens with my artistic journey, collaboration with my friends and family will always be a huge part of it, and I’m having so much fun making things with such amazing people.

What’s the meaning behind the EP title, Viet Rose? What does the title entail?
Viet Rose is the name of my favourite laksa restaurant in Melbourne. I live very close to it (too close) and it summed up the past year of my life. Their $10 vegetarian laksa kept me alive. I am a 100% independent artist, which has been a challenge with doing lots of support tours and making 3 EPs in 2 years, but ultimately it means I can release the sort of music I want to and I’ve learned so much doing that. If I release music through a label soon I know why and I know the reasons I would be doing that now, and that is a great thing to learn.

What is it like working with Andre Eremin?
It’s incredible. We both love food, which is the first and most important requirement. And he just has such incredible maturity and skill that he brings to music. It took me a while to find someone who really got what I was trying to do, and isn’t afraid to challenge me on ideas. But importantly, someone that I trust when he does that. This latest EP in particular would not have reached the level it got to without him, and the world will know soon how amazing Andrei is. I’m excited to continue exploring with him.

I noticed that you are an active SNS user (on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter). Do they help you interact more with your fans?
Yes. So much! I make friends with my fans. And through social media we can hang and stay in touch and live our lives together. Social media has downsides, I know, but the upsides are incredible. They take away some of those middle-men that used to control your channels to your fans also. Now it just comes down to you and the challenge is can you engage these people and build some connection with them, just like you would with a song. I think that’s really cool, and the internet has empowered us in that way.

Living in the golden age of advanced technology, everything seems so within reach. Do you feel that how people approach music has changed in a good or a bad way?
I am cynical about technology really changing things. I think humans are pretty much the same, emotional beings that they were before all the advanced technology. What that has brought though is that people can make complete songs in their bedroom, and they have a chance to develop those skills in a quiet, non-confronting environment, especially if they are a bit insecure and want to experiment before they are thrust into a spotlight. But ultimately, there were making people music at home before computers made music, but the biggest change is the channels (social media/soundcloud/the internet) giving these people a way to reach music lovers/listeners with their creations. And you can do it from anywhere in the world.

If you compare your life to a movie title what would it be?
Good Will Hunting – My real name is Will and I am always hunting for more information and knowledge. I really love new experiences and new things are what excite me the most. I don’t see myself as a genius or anything (in case anyone reads into this one too much), I believe in hard work, exploration and patience.

Lastly, if you found a penguin in a fridge, what would you do?
Cuddle it forever.

LINKS:
Official Website
Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud

Viet Rose EP is out now and available to download from iTunes and Bandcamp

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Interview: Port St. Willow

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A multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Principe’s solo project Port St. Willow is following up Brian Eno approved masterpiece Holiday from Tokyo’s flau  (cuushe, Noah) and People Teeth this month. Inspired by the idea to capture the moments just after an idea is found, his new LP Syncope is build heavily on improvisation. By leaving everything unedited from the recording sessions, it enabled him to capture the unique tension and pure existence of sounds. Closer and closer you listen, you will be sure to discover little things breathing quietly from far away.

Lights and Music spoke to Principe to find out more about the album’s concept, reasons why he was drawn to improvisation and thoughts behind the album title. Make sure to check out the soundcloud widget that contains standout tracks from Syncope.

Interview: Port St. Willow
By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, January 29, 2016

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Focus: Semi Precious

Semi Precious is a musical solo project by a South East London producer Guy Baron. Following the acclaimed self-titled debut EP by such publications as The Guardian, DIY and The Line Of Best Fit, his new Herbert-produced When We Talk EP was released from NX Records in association with Squareglass, in which he is a founding member. His minimalist approach in songwriting succeeds to emphasise beautiful melodies and gorgeous soundscape, helping him to directly address messages that deal with “false honesty and ambiguity in intimacy” to listeners. Through an email interview we asked Baron about minimalism, working with Matthe Herbert and about his own forward-thinking music label, Squareglass.

Focus: Semi Precious
By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, August 30, 2015

Please describe yourself in three words.

Experimental bedroom pop.

How did you get about starting to write music?

I’ve been singing for quite a while but only started writing my own tunes a few years ago. I can play basic keyboard and try to do some “traditional” songwriting once every while, but I get bored of it quite easily. In a way I feel that I’ve only started making music once I’ve started experimenting with sampling. When I first started working with samples there was something very intuitive and exciting about the process, which very much triggered my creative flow.

Minimalism is committed to limitations. Your songwriting is evolved around limitations but what attracts you to minimalism?

I struggle when I have too many options to choose from. I think about my compositions as being rather concise and condensed and like it when things evolve in a somewhat “organic” way. It’s kind of like every piece has its own distinct and intrinsic identity. My music also often deals with notions of solitude and alienation and I feel that these sensations are somewhat linked to sparseness and reflectiveness. There’s also something about the fact that I’m composing and recording in my own small bedroom with a very minimal setup – I feel that the music should reflect that in a way, rather than being “big” and in-your-face.

“When We Talk EP” deals with “false honesty”. Can you elaborate on that, and why were you interested in exploring this kind of intimacy?

I feel that passion and intimacy can be quite ambiguous and elusive sensations and I wanted to convey some of the complexities they hold. The EP deals with several kinds of “unfulfilled intimacies” that cannot be realised for all kinds of reasons, such as lack of communication. I personally find inspiration within the unfulfilled, remote and somewhat broken.

What was it like working with Matthew Herbert for the production of this EP?

I’ve been listening to Matthew’s stuff since I was 14 or so. He is a true inspiration for me and I find myself going back to his works over and over again, discovering new layers with every listen. So I felt incredibly privileged and excited to work with him on this release and to see how he approaches mixing and production.

You are also a founder of Squareglass. With so many forward-thinking artists in the roster, what do you think makes Squareglass different from other labels?

To begin with, we’re all very close friends so I feel that this isn’t just a commercial label in the traditional sense of the word. There’s a strong element of mutual trust and we perceive the collective kind of like a “safety-net” – a place that allows us to experiment, stay bold and empower one another (creatively and practically). I think that collectives are particularly relevant for nowadays bedroom producers who work in relatively isolated environments.

Who would you like to collaborate with the most, and why?

I’m really inspired by Burial’s music and would be thrilled to collaborate with him. I think that his latest release Rival Dealer is a true and inspiring masterpiece that in many ways redefines the boundaries of electronic music production.

Finally, what is next for Semi Precious?

Doing more gigs with my band in the next couple months and putting out another, slightly more conceptual and extensive release sometime next year.

Connect with Semi Precious

Official
Facebook
Squareglass
Soundcloud

When We Talk EP is out now and available to purchase from Bandcamp and iTunes.

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Interview: CEO

Eric Berglund seems to thrive off transformation. One minute he’s a baseball bat swinging, glassy eyed hooligan in Swedish pop group The Tough Alliance, the next he’s the secretive, tight-lipped label-runner for Gothenburg based indie imprint Sincerely Yours (whose catalogue has included things like selling $300 t-shirts with marijuana leafs emblazoned on them), and the next he’s a cashmere sweater-clad, rosary-wearing protagonist of CEO’s “Come With Me” music video – clutching a Totoro doll in the grip of some sweat-drenched fever dream.

But as continually perplexing, and sometimes problematic as Berglund’s music can be (in 2007, he sampled a Muslim call to prayer for TTA’s A New Chance EP, a decision that the Islamic community wasn’t thrilled about), his passion for the stuff he creates is undeniable. I spoke to Eric via email and talked about masculinity, embracing contradiction, and why worrying about the future is “so fucking stupid”.

Interview: CEO
Interview by Brendan Arnott Mar. 28, 2014

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Interview: Cuushe

Mayuko Hitotsuyanagi’s music under the Cuushe moniker manifests itself as a distillation of dream pop. Traces of ambient techno, synth-pop, J-pop and chillwave comingle within her second album Butterfly Case (2013); however, her breezy coos and delicately hazy guitar and synthesizer textures tie her music to the dream pop legacy begun by the early 4AD roster. Quite literally, her music represents her intricate dream states as filtered through what she refers to (with a tongue in cheek) as “experimental J-pop.” Not content to rest on her laurels, she dreams to extend her collaborations beyond her compatriots on the Flau Record label and Julia Holter to the likes of Blue Hawaii, her tour-mate Grouper and more.

We caught up with Cuushe to discuss Butterfly Case, times of the day and year, places and mental states she has visited, felines, and her past, present and future.

Interview: Cuushe
By Maxwell Weigel, Feb 11, 2014
Translation by Andrew Brasher & Satoru “Teshi” Teshima

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Interview: Diamond Rings

Photo by Norman Wong

In both image and sound, Diamond Rings is an artist who works in brash, primary colors. The gender-bending solo project of Toronto-based electro troubadour John O’Regan, Diamond Rings makes pulsating, 80’s-tinged synth pop that’s as challenging as it is danceable. Diamond Rings first shot into public consciousness in 2009 after a string of stunning music videos went viral on youtube. He has since gone on tour with Robyn, performed on Late Show with David Letterman, and made androgyny hip again for the masses.

At 196 cm tall, with his trademark baritone, elfish good looks, and extravagant outfits (heavy on the glitter), Diamond Rings is a singular figure in music today. We caught up with the internet phenom to talk fashion, gender, and his new album Free Dimensional (2012).

Interview: Diamond Rings
By Ben Landau, April 6, 2013

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Interview: LLLL

Without a photograph, a backstory or even a proper LP to their name, Tokyo’s LLLL, have become one the most blogged-about artists on the web. Binding the moody drone of My Bloody Valentine, the nostalgic dreaminess of Millionyoung and the warped R&B of Purity Ring into their own tense bit of magic, they capture a vision of Japan very much at a crossroads. And above it all, is the vocals; LLLL’s haunting, incomprehensible centerpiece. Set to release their new EP Mirror in the fall of 2012, we talked to a band member about the group’s decision to remain anonymous, the current state of Japanese electronic music and how the Tohoku earthquake inspired him to start making music, in what is the band’s first ever interview.

Interview: LLLL
By Ben Landau, Mar 22, 2013

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