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
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Focus: Joel Porter

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When I first listened to “St Anthony” by Joel Porter, a singer songwriter and a North Dakota native, I was by myself in the office brainstorming some creative ideas for my client. I had to stop. The song was, though quietly charged, so captivating and filled with emotions – both hopeful and sad, I knew I needed to commit myself fully to this song. After a dozen of listens, I couldn’t help but wonder, who is this guy? So when I heard a news that he would release an EP in a week, I messaged him right away for an interview.

Porter explains that Mountain Twin EP is about growth. Over the course of four folk-based, painstakingly carefully crafted songs, which include a song he co-wrote with his musician parents, he illustrates the nature, feelings, memories and what it means to seek for the truth. You can easily feel yourself being in the desolate plains, where the snow is falling, the river is flowing and the mountains howling. In order to get to know the world he paints further, we asked him how he came to discover his own style, how the nature influences his art, and what he believes in life. Make sure to check out the streaming link at the end of the interview.

Interview: Joel Porter
By Satoru Teshima, March 12 2017

How would you describe your music in three words?

Ambient, Honest, Beauty-seeking

Where are you right now?

In my bedroom in Nashville, Tennessee

Growing up, were you a musical kid? What made you want to express yourself through music?

I was. My mother is an incredible vocalist, and my father is a talented and intelligent musician and composer. We actually wrote “Winter Coat” together. That is so cool to say…”I wrote this song with my father.” Makes that song really special.

I started playing violin at the age of four, french horn in the 5th grade, guitar/bass guitar in the 6th grade. It wasn’t until high school that I fell in love with writing music. I’ve always associated songs to certain time periods and linked them to the little truths we find as we grow. I’ve found that I can explain these memories and little truths to someone through music better than I can through conversation.

How did you develop your way of singing that you do now?

I’ve been singing since I was six or seven in my dad’s children’s choir.. but this is the first time I fell like I’ve found where my voice fits. This project plays to the strengths of my voice rather than me trying to force it to be something it’s not. This music is where my voice needs to live. Soft, honest, aching at times, uplifting in others. Intimate the whole way. Eric (my good friend, producer, and 1/2 of the band Foreign Fields) took this idea and capitalized on it.

Are there any singers you look up to?

Not so much vocalists, but artists/groups. I love atmospheric sounding artists like Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Asgier, Foreign Fields, Connor Youngblood, Death Cab, Coldplay etc. I’m also very inspired by orchestral and choral music.

I recently watched a TedTalk presentation by David Byrne, in which he talks about how the environment can affect the way you write. Seeing from your pictures, it seems like you are surrounding yourself with nature. How is that affecting the way you make your music? Is nature playing a big part?

Absolutely. I grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota. Its a city of 70k people, by a river in the heart of the midwest. Its full of rolling golden hills during the summer and desolate snowy plains during the winter. You feel like you can see forever. That open space fuels my writing, and I try to get back home as much as possible to let my mind roam.

I also spend a lot of time in the mountains. I love mountain landscape as well as mountain culture. The communities and people I’ve spent time with in those areas are content being isolated, but are constantly pushing themselves to be the best version of themselves for the sake of growth rather than status. That constant search for beauty is a beautiful way of life, and it definitely influences the thoughts and opinions in my music.

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Your emotional songwriting and meticulous attention to details what made me a fan. How do you approach songwriting? What’s the process?

It’s different with every song, but for the most part it usually starts with a melody. Then I’ll find one idea to write around and try to describe it in as many personal ways as possible. If its honest and beautiful, its usually right. The rest of the process is molding, adding, and taking away the unnecessary until there is a complete, beautiful idea. Then I take it to Eric and we finish it up in the studio. The two of us covered everything on this record (except live drums). E turned my idea for this project into something. His production and guidance are just as much a part of the identities of these songs as my writing and melodies are. He takes what I’m trying to do, and elevates it. He is incredible to work with.

“I’m sick of writing songs that my father cry”, is a line that left a bittersweet sentiment in me somehow. Are your songs autographical? Or are you more of a storyteller?

That line came from a conversation I had with my father… but overall I would say it’s a combination of both. Everything that I write about comes from some form of personal experience. I build and create layers and layers of material from that experience. At its core, the end product is very autobiographical… but its covered by interesting, beautiful pieces of imagery and metaphor.

Tell us more about Mountain Twin EP. Is there a certain theme underlying to this EP?

From the beginning of the writing process, to the end of the mastering process, it took about a year. The Mountain Twin EP is about discovery.. sifting through our low points, our adventures, the quite, desolate open spaces where our minds are able to roam and rest, our memories… taking all of those moments and trying to piece them into an identity…. trying to weave them into something that matters. Its about growth, and becoming the best version of myself that I can.

Finally, what do you believe in as an artist to achieve your goal in life?

To never stop seeking the truth, and continuing to grow. I just don’t want to waste this life. As long as I’m working toward a beautiful life, I’ll have no regrets.. Love as much as you can. Thats my ultimate goal.

Stream Mountain Twin EP.

Connect with Joel Porter

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Instagram

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stream: Role, “Blurry”

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We have been a fan of Role’s mysterious aesthetic. Following their debut album How Distant, the London by way of Barcelona group is back with a new EP titled Blurry. Absorbing elements of Dream pop, Witch House, and Trip Hop, they have polished their ethereal sound. It’s ghostly and thrilling, but at the same time, inviting. Stream the EP below.

Connect with Role
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stream: Makoto Kino, “Eternal Loss”

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Makoto Kino, although his names sounds like a familiar Japanese name, is not Japanese. It’s a drone-pop project by Mexico city artist Federico Cabrera Celio. His new album “Eternal Loss” is infused with surreal and Dadaist mood and hued with dark, twisted eroticism. It’s a kind of music you sink yourself in, deeper and deeper.

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stream: Sandunes, “Downstream”

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An up-and-coming electronic producer from Mumbai, India, Sandunes released Downstream and now it is available to stream in its entirety. From Hip Hop to UK Garage, she takes influence from various sources, building a soundscape that sounds like no one else. If you are a fan of Ninja Tunes, she maybe the next big thing.

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stream: Yagi, “Bellwood”

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Melt until you can’t. Yagi is an electronic producer based in Saitama, Japan. He has recently released his new EP, “Bellwood” from BRRWD/Jakarta Records and it’s available to listen and purchase (download link here). This collection of beats were created during his one year stay in Toronto, Canada. Collecting sounds mainly from folk records, Yagi’s sounds jumps from ambient to Hip Hop, as if to separate listeners from earth. It’s an ultimate chill-out music to let you go of what binds you. Stream below.

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stream: Debz, “Extended Play”

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Dare to reach the unknown forces. Lights + Music HQ, as known as wherever I am with my laptop, receives a ton of interesting submissions every day. We were both surprised and confused about this newly founded New York based label, Choice Records. They reportedly started in 2016 and specialize in releasing rare albums and singles on vinyl record. Their first release is by a Colorado based songwriter, Debz and her EP called “Extended Play”. From her punkish introduction on “Plastic Wrap” to bonkers electro pop “Barbizon”, she makes sure she is heard. Crying, laughing, yelling and singing. Despite all the Lo-Fi soundscapes she creates, Debz’ freewheeling nature is somehow adorable and charming. Stream the record and check out their different ‘rare’ releases here.

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stream: Semi Precious, “Ultimate Lounge”

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Escaping for the lounge where dreams and reality coexist. Our favourite minimalist songwriter Semi Precious streams his latest album Ultimate Lounge from UK’s experimental pop label Squareglass. Built on a concept to encapsulate essences of lounge music through cinematic and minimal arrangement, Semi Precious created a space that lets you swim between reality and illusion.

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stream: repeat pattern x fitz ambro$e, “chopp II”

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Give yourself a little lazy time. A globally acknowledge artists collective, BRRWD (read as borrowed) recently released an album called chop II, a collaboration between Tokyo-based beat makers Repeat Pattern and Fitz Ambro$e. It’s available to buy digitally and on cassette tapes here. Put this on and its super laid-back, slow burners will fill the room with bitter-sweet psychedellia.

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