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dimanche 20 mars 2016

Album de la Semaine : Saul Williams - Martyr Loser King

Saul Williams
Martyr Loser King

Interview de Saul Williams, par Drew Millard de Noisey

Noisey: Where did you grow up?
Saul Williams:
 Newburgh, New York. It’s like 60 miles outside of New York City upstate and for the past 40 years it’s had the highest murder rate, drug rate, drug trafficking rate, crime rate in New York State with only 35,000 people there.
Per ratio, it’s got the highest rates in New York State for the last 40 years. There were shootouts with Uzis in my junior high school. I thought it was normal, I didn’t realize that wasn’t how the rest of the world was operating . This was in the 80s, way before the craziness. But you know we weren’t only good at shooting, we were good at dodging bullets so it’s not like everybody got shot. I only got shot on stage. It’s a crazy thing to be a part of something that you can really stand behind and go, this feels great. And me I have a habit of that, that’s what I learn by doing theatre before I got into the film world, even before Slam. Nobody writes a play for money. People write movies and TV shows for money all the time but if you’re writing a play for money you’re kinda stupid. You know the big money is in other avenues, so when you go to write a play, you’re putting other things on the line. Those things are things that actors can really sink their teeth into. I grew up doing theatre, so it’s all come full circle to this production because I’ve been away from the theatre since Slam, really.
When I saw that you were starring in it, it kind of hit me as a shock because I knew you primarily from your music, like the album with Trent Reznor and Dead Emcee Scrolls and things like that.
I’ve been on a particular type of grind since Slam, which opened a lot of doors for me. Slam was really my thesis project, my final project for the grad program that I was in at NYU. I was in the grad acting program. I had every intention of just going out and auditioning for movies and plays, I had no intention of writing my first project and I really didn’t expect to be offered a book deal or a record deal but I came out of Slam with those types of offers and it gave me the legs to walk away from the bullshit type of acting offers that came my way primarily.
Such as?
People being like, “Ah, we want you to be the funny black guy that sits beside the handsome white guy that gets the girl.” You’re like, “I’ve seen that story a billion times, I get it, I understand bankability and marketing but why are you making movies again? Is it to make money or to change lives?” In theatre it’s always to change lives. That’s the only purpose to fucking do it. Basically you don’t earn money doing it, not the type of money you get from other avenues in acting so why the fuck else would you do it except you feel some compulsion to do really put your all behind something and see what it brings out in you and in the audience? I always believe that art is powerful. Maybe it’s because I grew up with activist parents. It’s funny because the night you were there, Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s mom, was in the audience on Pac’s birthday.
She spoke to us. She was like, “Let’s be very clear. The revolution could not have happened and would not have happened without theatre and the arts. Don’t sleep for a minute, realize that what you’re doing on this stage is revolutionary work.” For me, that’s the type of household and the type of mentality that I grew up in, that I was taught that from a young age. I was taught about artists like Paul Robeson or even Sydney Poitier, all these characters, Harry Belafonte, who just broke barriers and did it proudly in the name of something bigger than their own egos. Granted, yes the times have changed and so have the issues, but the real issue is the same thing. It’s all about love. People who become confused about issues surrounding gay and transgender rights, what’s confusing about love? What’s confusing about openness? It’s always been the same issue but people get blocked on these things and the theatre has always been there to represent a way in which we can look at ourselves, critique and analyze our behaviors and grow from it, even before the fucking church.
Williams overlooks the stage. Photo by Joan Marcus.
One thing that I noticed about your performance is that a lot of the other actors seem to be rapping in Tupac’s flow, and it seemed to me that you made a very conscious effort to make the words your own.
That’s it, that’s all it was. Just a desire to own the material, but that’s something I learned certainly as a musician. I mean I’ve done covers, but that’s also something you learn in the theatre as well—it’s going to resonate when you have a certain amount of ownership of a text that’s written by someone else. It’s just a matter of empathizing, relating, and being able to identify with it to its core, and to your core.
Pac studied theatre as well.
I spoke to his brother last week, last Thursday, Mopreme Shakur, and it’s crazy because his brother was the president of the drama club and Pac was in the drama club with him and he said, “Nobody will believe this but mostly what we did everyday is we’d go out and nerd out listening to the Les Miserables soundtrack.” Can you imagine that? Tupac, nerding out to the Les Missoundtrack? That’s what he would do all the time!
Another thing that struck me is that there are very few other artists from whom you could pull material to form a musical from, because Tupac was such a whole person and his work represented that.
His whole being is there. Look at the women singing “Keep Ya Head Up.” It’s coming out of women’s mouths and it feels like it’s written by women. Tell me which Jay Z song you could do that with. Tell me which Biggie song you could do that with, which 2 Chainz song. These are all artists that I like, I’m just saying Pac was the best, because Pac did not rap for money, Pac rapped for the pure passion of his community, for being alive, he put his all into it the same way that Kurt Cobain put his all into it. He’s rapping from the motherfucking anus of the universe, he’s pulling through all of that shit in the most crazy way. And yeah, the misstep is that Pac saw red, when he got angry he saw red and just went all the fuck out. Who would not see red after getting shot five times by someone you recognize as a friend of someone else? Of course he felt like he was justified in saying he slept with Biggie’s baby mama in “Hit ‘Em Up,” and then being thrown in prison for other shit, especially when you’re someone that was practically prison. His aunt, Assata Shakur, is still in political asylum in Cuba right now.
If you want to understand Tupac, read the autobiography of Assata Shakur. That’s his aunt, and read what’s happening with her right now, via the state of New Jersey. She’s listed as the number two most wanted terrorist in America today.
Holy shit.
The number-one woman. Today. For something that went down in 1976, based on COINTELPRO, which is to say what the us government did when they looked at what was happening in the civil rights movement and the black power movement as terrorist cells, which is what splintered into the Bloods and Crips and a lot of bullshit you see still in the community still to this day was started by our own government. Pac’s family were victims of that. That’s why he was practically born in prison, that’s why his father Mutulu Shakur is still in prison, to this day. That’s why Afeni Shakur got led into the lifestyle that she got into and his aunt Assata Shakur is still in political asylum in Cuba with a $2 million bounty on her head by the U.S. government today. You wonder how Pac could rap against the government? It’s crazy, it’s much deeper than just hip hop. Pac is a descendent of a fucking rebellious force, fighting for justice in America to this day.
It’s still insane that they managed to make the Tupac Resurrection documentary with all that fucking footage.
It’s crazy. It’s funny when other rappers compare themselves to Pac. I read these bullshit articles where the writer’s like, “Pac was a great figure, he wasn’t necessarily one of the best rappers but he was a great figure.” I disagree eternally with those cats. And they mean well, usually those are written in articles even when they’re bringing up Pac. Fuck that. Pac was an amazing rapper.
Especially in his time, I think.
Yeah, his first album came out in ‘91, which is early enough to even originate a few styles of hip-hop. I think that had to do with just the luck of being born in New York, moving to Baltimore which is south, and then crossing the country and going to Oakland, which is west and thus becoming influenced by what was happening in the north, in the south, in the west and of course they’re also listening to what’s happening in the southwest, like Texas and all that, Scarface, so that Pac just at an early age was exposed to more hip-hop than your average head as far as regionality was concerned. The New Yorkers were listening to New Yorkers, the West Coasters were listening to West Coasters, the Midwesterners were listening to Midwesterners, the Florida cats were listening to Florida cats, the Atlanta cats were listening to Atlanta cats, Texas cats listening to Texas cats, Pac moved around.
And so you think that ability to be influenced by all those different styles in all those different places plus sort of the totality of his and his family’s experiences, you think that has to do with what created Tupac as a person?
That’s it in a nutshell. That’s no different then pointing out someone’s Zodiac sign, isn’t it? That’s what we say, it’s like where were you born, what time. So this planet was here, this planet was here, this planet was here that makes you a Gemini, that means this this and this was in your first house, this was in your second house. Pac was in this house and this house, he visited this planet, this planet, this planet and that planet.
And that’s the other thing, that Bay Area style was very real. Don’t sleep, Pac’s parents are Panthers and then he moved to Oakland, which is the birthplace of the Panthers and also the birthplace of so much style. No one tilted their hats the way the pimps in Oakland tilted their hats, it was only them who could compete with the pimps in Detroit or Chicago. Oakland had its own thing, proudly, from before hip-hop. And then in hip-hop, the Bay Area had its own thing with E-40. We saw it clearly when Del and Hieroglyphics came out. We were like “Holy shit, who taught these kids how to rap like this?” They had such a playful relationship with the funk and that’s what Shock G and Digital Underground represented, and Pac came up through that too.
Tell me a bit about the rest of the cast, what are their backgrounds?
Well, most of them have backgrounds in theatre and music like myself. We do have a lot of Broadway veterans, and we also have a lot of artists like myself who are making their debuts on Broadway, so it’s kind of a mix between the music and theatre worlds. We do have a great many dancers as well who do everything from being b-boys to being trained.
There’s so many different styles.
We have krumpers, we have b-boys, freestylers, we have dancers trained modern jazz, they’re all in there and everybody in the crew also sings. Tonya Pinkins, her first movie is Beat Street which is the classic hip-hop film. We need to bring back the old school hip hop shit so cats know what’s up. It’s funny how cats can think that they’re doing shit that’s original when they don’t know that like there’s hardly anything more original than how it was when hip hop first started, when cats were dressing like robots from space.
Jonzun Crew.
Yeah, you know what I’m saying. Africa Bambaataa and the Grand Master Flash, look at how they dressed, look at how they danced, it’s out of this world. I see you Bushwick, but check this. This is what skinny jeans looked like. It’s crazy what the fuck they would have on and how they would talk, people like Rammellzee we talk about Basquiat but Rammellzee was like, in terms of style, fucking hell. These cats, those are my heroes. I feel like that’s the only shit missing right now, is them.
This is something one of my coworkers and I were actually talking about today. I think that there’s almost this generational schism in hip hop happening right now, for a lot of like younger rappers and rap fans, their frame of reference for “old school” is Carter 2-era Lil Wayne or College Dropout. Like Chief Keef is 18, so he was born in 1995 or something. That is classic rap to him.
What’s funny is this—you gotta do your homework. For me, it’s like, I just say that in terms of access. I grew up ‘80s and ‘90s listening to hip hop and at some point I got interested in where the samples came from and so I started digging in the crates and finding vinyl and going back. Hopefully when the musicians in the music industry become more interested in music then posing, and they really start doing the music research, then they’ll really discover what fucking old school is. I’m still going back, further and further fucking back. I listen to southern hip-hop and the thing that made me understand it was the blues. As a New Yorker at first I’d be like, “What the fuck are they talking about, why should I listen to this?” But it’s not what they’re saying, it’s how they’re saying it. Just like Robert Johnson played the same guitar as everybody else but turned his back to his audience when he played because he didn’t want them to see how he was bending the strings and getting the certain sounds from the guitar that other guitarists couldn’t get. And that’s what those southern rappers are doing, just bending the strings. Young Thug and all of them bending the strings. Not to mention that Young Thug and a lot of those cats, they come from Haiti, Jamaica so the Caribbean influence is there as well, and if you get into what’s happening in those countries at the time of their birth you start finding where those influences are coming from, whether they’re known, subconscious or conscious. It pays to love music. It’s like what George Clinton says. “The funk is its own reward.”
What’s your favorite Tupac song?
“Resist the Temptation.” Right now.
Favorite Tupac album?
Me Against the World.
Favorite Tupac documentary?
No idea, I don’t even know if I watched Resurrection. I’m not a Pac expert, I’m really not. I’m just as an actor here conjuring his spirit. That’s a whole other thing. This has more to do with candles and pentagrams.
How do you accomplish that?
[Laughs] Pac pills. I’m popping Pac pills. I don’t know. His mother said something crazy to me last week, she was like “Maybe you’ll see Saul Willams again when you go home tonight, but from the moment you started doing ‘Holler If You Hear Me’, at the end of the first act, the moment you did that, I looked on stage and I saw my son, I heard my son and felt my son’s spirit in the room and he’s there, in you, right now. So maybe you’ll encounter Saul Williams when you go home tonight.” And what could I say, it’s Pac’s mom.

Label :
Fader Label

Tracklist :
01 – Groundwork
02 – Horn of the Clock-Bike
03 – Ashes
04 – Think Like They Book Say
05 – The Bear Coltan as Cotton
06 – Burundi (feat. Emily Kokal)
07 – The Noise Came From Here
08 – Down For Some Ignorance
09 – Roach Eggs
10 – All Coltrane Solos at Once (feat. Haleek Maul)
11 – No Different
12 – HomesDronesPoemsDrums

samedi 12 mars 2016

Album de la Semaine : Daughter - Not To Disappear

Not To Disappear

Interview de Daughter, par Ilana Kaplan de Interview Magazine

ILANA KAPLAN: It's been three years since your debut came out. Can you tell me about what the writing and recording process was like for you this time around?

ELENA TONRA: We officially started writing it about two years ago. We had come off touring for an extensive and intense amount of time. We stopped touring as much, we rented a space, and put all of our instruments, microphones and equipment in this space and made it a writing and demo-ing situation. It was great because we could go in at any hour we liked and if we had any ideas, we could make them there. That was kind of the start of the process. Each song had a different way of coming about. In some, the music was written first while others it was the lyrics. We didn't want to overthink anything too much—we just wanted to, writing-wise, chuck out as many ideas as possible. It was really cool that we had a lot of different stuff going on in our heads. There were some tracks that were really far away from what we've done before and some that were really folky, and others that didn't make it onto the records.

IGOR HAEFELI: This time around, we got to cherry pick.

REMI AGUILELLA: We went in the studio with a pretty clear idea of what we wanted to do. There was more preparation in terms of not having to freak out in the studio as much.

KAPLAN: If You Leave, was extremely melancholy. I think anyone who has heard it probably cried at some point during it. Do you think Not To Disappear will have the same effect? Is there an upbeat side to this record?

TONRA: It's a bit different. For me, there's stuff that's sad because it's such a personal record. I'm not sure, if you're the listener, if it'll have the same effect. Our first record was maybe more emotional because it wasn't really a breakup album, but it was that weird 'pre-everything going to shit' album. I think that sentiment was beautifully recognized by people saying I feel the same way. This record is a bit more aggressive and lyrically, I think it's a bit more straightforward. I don't think there's as much poetic license or hiding places within my lyrics. It's quite direct about my feelings.

KAPLAN: Why do you think that is?

TONRA: I don't know, actually. To be fair, it really worried me initially because I was writing very stream of consciousness stuff. I just wasn't writing the same way, and I really worried that I couldn't write anymore. I worried that it was the end of the band. [laughs] I just had to embrace that what I'm thinking and feeling is more confident, in a way. It's confident in its lack of confidence.

HAEFELI: It's definitely about Elena finding strength in the lyrics on Not To Disappear. To me, the title evokes coming from a place where you've nearly faded away and trying to fight back.

TONRA: There's always fighting and bringing that person out of a miserable hole on the first album.

KAPLAN: Do you mean disappearing from depression?

TONRA: I think disappearing in different ways. You can disappear inside of yourself and become an empty shell with depression in mind. It's that feeling of being invisible. Sometimes when I wake up I don't feel like my head is attached to my body—there's nothing. On "Numbers" it's basically a repeating mantra of ‘I feel numb.' It's not disappearing in that sense, and it's not disappearing in an artistic sense—trying to make something beautiful that means something. If it's something beautiful that means something just to us, that's enough.

AGUILELLA: I think we talk a lot about reminiscing about alienation and looking through a specific person's eyes. I think it's figuratively disappearing, but not so much in your entire self.

TONRA: You can take it in all different ways.

KAPLAN: What's the most personal thing you've written about thus far?

TONRA: Everything is super personal. Basically all of the songs are 'this is my life and what I feel about it.' That's how my brain works and thinks about things. It's really strange because I never really think about what I want to write about—it sort of just comes out. I literally say whatever is in my brain. "Doing The Right Thing" is a song that was really hard because I started writing it and wasn't really thinking about it. I just started spouting out whatever I could think of and it became this song about my grandmother and my mother. It was something I didn't realize affected me as much as I thought. I find it interesting when I look back at songs and it's what I've been thinking and feeling for the past two years. There's some sexual stuff in this record and I'm sometimes like, "Is that too far?" There's a confidence in it. It's over-sharing, but in a really therapeutic way.

KAPLAN: There's obviously the sophomore slump idea that second records are often a disappointment to fans. Does that concern you guys?

TONRA: I think we try to let it not concern us. There's this weird pressure also because our first album totally exceeded everything we expected; we didn't really think people would be as beautiful and kind about it as they were. For us, that was really surprising and amazing. Now, we're going into the second album and trying not to compare it to the first album and seeing it as a completely new stage. If you have that outlet—and we shouldn't confine ourselves to music or genre—it's really great because you can literally do whatever you want. Obviously now that it's finished, we're thinking of the technical side of things.

AGUILELLA: I think you need to trust your sensibilities. We're all coming from different directions, and it just ends up being what it is. If we're happy with it, then that's a big achievement. We do it quite selfishly in a way—for our pleasure. It's amazing people relate to it. I think Elena's lyrics have a lot to do with it.

HAEFELI: We had played the songs from the first album over and over again and some of them became more aggressive on stage. I think that, in an interesting way, influenced our second album.

KAPLAN: When we spoke two years ago, Elena, you and Igor were romantically involved. Are you two still together? How has that affected the music?

HAEFELI: No. It's worked out as a record. It wasn't an easy record to make—maybe a little bit of it is how that change happened. Maybe it's what brought us together in another way, as friends. We're still very creative together.

AGUILELLA: Because you guys weren't together, space had a lot to do with the making of this record. Being further away to concentrate on something that didn't have to do with the band was good. It was a healthy way of dealing with music and life, rather than being in a tour bus all together. It was needed.

KAPLAN: It's very admirable. How did you decide on releasing "Doing The Right Thing" as the first single?

TONRA: It was quite hard for us to decide. When you're making something, you obviously like every song. It's sort of like what song represents the album or what song represents the change we made, musically. We had a couple of people who were like, 'we love this song!'

AGUILELLA: I just think it's just a nice song to start with.

Line Up :
Elena Tonra
Igor Haefeli
Remi Aguilella

Label :

Tracklist :
01 – New Ways
02 – Numbers
03 – Doing the Right Thing
04 – How
05 – Mothers
06 – Alone With You
07 – No Care
08 – To Belong
09 – Fossa
10 – Made of Stone

dimanche 6 mars 2016

Album de la Semaine : Kokomo - Monochrome Noise Love

Monochrome Noise Love

Interview de Kokomo, par Post-Rock

P-RHow did Kokomo started as a band? Have you guys played in other bands before and if so, what genre of music was it?
Oliver: We started playing together in April 2008 after the old bands of us disbanded. At this time Rene and I were really in to instrumental music and had started to set up post-rock shows in our hometown Duisburg. Benni and Tobias joined in after their former folk band called it quits. Soon some songs evolved and we named the band Kokomo.
P-RHow did you come up with the name for the band and what does it mean?
Oliver: It is taken from a novel called “Torture The Artist” by Joey Goebel.
P-RDo you have other projects or are you fully dedicated to Kokomo?
Rene: The are no other band projects, as I know. But we started to build up a studio in our hometown, where bands like us can get a chance to record their albums. This project is quite huge and also takes a lot time and sadly a lot money as well. But all in the band are really into that project and I hope, that it will be finished in the beginning of the next year.
P-R: At next year’s Dunk!Fest you are releasing your new album via Dunk! Records. What brings new this album compared to your last two?
Rene: This is a really good question and I think that we ourselves are the most interested in giving an answer to that question, but at least, the album is not written and recorded yet, so I really can’t say what it is going to sound like. But I think this time, we gonna try to get a bit deeper. I don’t mean the tuning, which is deeper as well. What I’m talking about is the way to write these songs and regarding all the details. Everything just needs to fit together.
P-RI haven’t seen any official videos from Kokomo. Do you have in plan to release one with the new album or are you just not interested in having a music video?
Rene: Well, I would not say, that we are not interested in having a music video, its more the problem, that we’re already so busy with writing songs and touring around, besides our work and university, that its almost very hard to start even more projects. But if anyone would be interested in doing a video with us … By the way, I’m also very into that youtube-video, in which somebody put a song from our first album together with a clip from a Russian football match.
P-RYou have a song called Arcade Romania, can you please tell us the story behind that track? Is it related to your trip in Romania for the concert you held here almost three years ago?
Rene: Yes it is. When we came to Romania three years ago, we were very excited and got very childish. We were on the road with our van and Oliver was driving. There were massive holes in the road and we started to count the holes he droves through, so it becomes kind of a video game. The shows which we played in Romania were one of the most emotional ones for us, so we decided to name one of our songs after that country, which really means a lot to all of us.
P-R: Do you have in plan an East-European tour in the near future, promoting the new album?
Oliver: March or April!
P-RDo you mind being considered an underground band, playing small venues? Or would you rather live “the rock star dream”?
Rene: I would definitely prefer the small venues and being an underground band, if you can say so. The scene and all the people, putting their passion and love in several projects, and getting in touch with these scene and even take a small part in it, is the best drive a band like us could have. I think, there is only this wish to drive in night liner to one show … A show in venue for 20 people.
P-RWhat are your plans with Kokomo in the future?
Tobias: Living the rock star dream!

Line Up :
Oliver Ludley 
Rene Schwenk 
Tobias Stieler 
Benjamin Hellig 
Ansgar Koenig
Label :
Dunk Records
Tracklist :
01 – Pills And Pillows
02 – Kill The Captain, Feed The Fishes
03 – Monochrome Noise Love
04 – LichtStaub
05 – Juengling Mit Apfel
06 – Beware of Pity
07 – I Am Bill Murray
08 – I Am Not Dead
09 – Me vs. Myself
10 – Deathmaster Danger Dance