Check their bandcamp below and make sure to check for select tour dates and an upcoming split with Moira Scar.https://xanaxax.bandcamp.com
DECAYCAST Interviews: “If it smells like noise, it must me noise.” – An Interview with experimental music mainstay Steve Davis / +DOG+
First hearing of +DOG+ they were somewhat of a mystery to me in history and intention, I think I first came across a split 7” between +DOG+ and The HATERS or maybe they were separate release I acquired at the time along with a Tribes Of Neurot CD maybe were the first “noise” albums I would own ? I could be crossing releases/synapses, but i remember +DOG+ was sort of enigmatic from the beginning- much like many of the out there experimental titles I was discovering at the time, who were the members, where were they from, what did they do during the day, and why were they making these wonderful and chaotic sounds. In the bay area, +DOG+ had built sort of a mystified legend around themselves, toting a modular lineup that seems to shift with nearly every performance and document (of which to both there are, MANY). +DOG+ was one of the first projects I saw that completely eradicated the boundaries between audience and performer, encapsulating the true spirit of noise, freedom from convention and maybe even a slight dissolving of the psyche, or at least a loud probe into it’s existence. +DOG+ seems to record an uncanny amount of studio material, boasting at times seemingly monthly output but overall, the work is intentional and nuanced, yet free and engulfed with the celebratory spirit of true avant-garde sounds and performances. Digging into +DOG+’s exhaustive discography, there is a nearly endless trove of sounds and expressions, but we are left with one constant, the man behind +DOG+, Steve Davis. We chatted with Steve about his longstanding +DOG+ project as well as his imprint LEM. Love Earth Music although largely focusing on noise, boasts a rather diverse roster of artists, everything from the nuanced, drone tone poem mastery of multimedia artist Conscious Summary “Flowers” or the blasting, alienating noise walls of +DOG+, or the angular, broken guitar rhythms of Intensive Studies, LEM keeps it refreshing, interesting and uncontrived in the most honest way possible.
Can you talk to us about the history of +DOG+ and your other various musical outlets if any?
Hi, I started doing +DOG+ around 1990 when I lived in Osaka. Prior to doing +DOG+ I was in a Boston band Expando Brain and The Flower Brothers in Osaka, I played bass in those bands. I had been doing another noise band J-Shi with David Hopkins- Public Bath Records and Sam Lohman- Nimrod , 36. Then made +DOG+ as a ‘studio’ extension of that sort of. When I moved back to MA in early 1993 I started doing +DOG+ as a regular band and did a lot of shows around MA/NY/CT with myself and a couple of others. We were blessed to have Ron Lessard release our 1st 7” on Stomach Ache in 1994 and Detector to do our 1st full album in 1996. I moved to CA in 1997 and continued to do +DOG+ there. That’s when I met you and the other Bay Area folks and did a lot of shows around CA as well as doing a tour of UK/Belgium in 2007 then did a tour of Japan in 2008. I moved back to MA in 2016 and have continued to do +DOG + here and have a new CD out soon called “10, 585” which is approximately how many days I’ve done the band. The line up has been myself and a large number of members coming & going. I’d say the core members besides myself are Eddie Nervo, Ron Karlin, Lob, Chuck Foster, Bobby Almon, Jack Szymczak and they send me stuff for the cd’s and then I mash it all up so to speak and add my crap.
I also have a couple other bands, Intensive Studies with Jack, we grew up together and started it when I moved back. I think that band is a mash up of styles from all the stuff Jack & I love; the Mothers, Punk, and just overall weird sounds. It’s a hard band to categorize as far as a “style” goes. I also just started a new noise band with Daniel Sine from L’elcipse Nue. That project is called Le Chien Nu and we just did a release on LEM. +DOG+ has a new release out spring and another probably out in the summer.
Speaking of releases, talk a bit about the history of your imprint, love earth music? How does running your longstanding label, LEM inform your creative practice, if at all?
I started Love Earth Music (LEM) around 1999 when I was living in CA. The 1st release was +DOG+ “Luddite Revolution” I started it just to be able to do +DOG+ releases and stuff from my friends and that’s how & why I did it. I used to make all the CD’s, covers, etc at home with my computer and printer but it just got too much so I don’t do that anymore . I have them made by someone else now. I have my friend Lob to help out with the art stuff on a lot of the releases and my pal Dustin ( Actuary) helps with a downloadable component of the label. That’ s stuff that usually is not on the physical LEM releases. A lot of the early LEM releases were friends from CA, but then it sort of branched out to bands from everywhere, mostly noise/experimental stuff at first. I’ve tried to do some stuff that is not noise/experimental stuff cause I’m really into everything. Weirdly, we did a Brutal Truth 8 track but I think we sold all of those. I feel that doing the label is a way to be a part of something that I enjoy and have respect for. Its easy to make crap, and have someone put it out. The stuff we / my friends do and release is hopefully something that isn’t boring and pushes the envelope a little. I have met so many great folks thru the bands and label and I have enjoyed many wonderful life experiences that I never would have imagined as a kid growing up in the woods in MA. I don’t get out to many shows these days, but when I do I am always blown away by the power of the sounds and the passion that my friends put into the shows. Even after all these years, it’s still inspiring. Last summer I was playing a show at a venue in Worcester, MA and there was this huge drum on top of a piano and was looking at it thinking how cool it would have been to use ( I’d already played my set) and then a bit later, Victoria Shen, a local noise great, went over and used it and it was soooo awesome..I so glad she went over and just mic’d it and wailed! It was very cool. Stuff like that is inspiring to me.
I don’t know, it makes me happy to be able to get some of these sounds out for other people to hear. Seeing people and hearing the stuff they do keeps me interested in sounds and being creative. Doing the label has also let me get to know people from all over the world. Some upcoming LEM releases are going to be by Ego Death from Greece and God Pussy from Brazil. I’m also planning to do releases by some local / east coast folks here over the next year too, like Angelsbreath, Lean, Matt Luzak, Pas Musique, Martyr, This Is Not Okay, Bullshit Market ( MI), The Flayed Choirmaster (CA), Jolthrower (CA), Instagon (CA) and others that I can’t remember. I am looking forward to being able to release some interesting stuff in the future.
Having established yourself and your label on both coasts can you talk about the differences and similarities between west coast and east coast scenes, and if not the scenes the style/aesthetics?
I honestly don’t see much of a difference at all really. I think with so much stuff available online and the growth of these different groups online, everything is out there for everyone. So therefore there are no surprises …I see folks in NH doing similar stuff to folks from CA etc… I really don’t see differences..the only thing different here in the northeast is that the winter weather can mess up plans for shows/travel, but as far as styles or aesthetics it seems pretty much the same to me all over the country.
What was the most powerful performance you’ve ever witnessed?
I have seen a lot of shows over the years so its hard to pick just one, but if I had to I would have to say that the Swans at the Rat in Boston in the mid 80’s was one of the most powerful shows ever. They were terrifyingly amazing, the sound kinda went thru me and Michael Gira was awesome..it was an incredible show. The Boredoms 8-8-08 show in LA with 88 drummers was also great.
What are the main differences between recording and performing noise, is one inherently more valuable to you as an artist?
I think for me the differences is in the energy. I tend to be a little more harsh I think doing +DOG+ shows as compared to some of the studio stuff which is usually more varied. I also tend to play short sets ..usually between 5-10 mins so that would be different as well. When I ‘ve done ‘live’ on the radio sets..its usually a combination of studio and live cause I have to fill more time and bring a lot of extra gear as compared with a regular show. I honestly like both about the same…each year though I say to myself I’m gonna do less shows, but end up doing about the same number each year. One thing I do like about playing out is just seeing friends and seeing what they’re up to with regards to theirs sounds and their lives. I do feel that as an “artist” the recorded stuff is more of an accurate picture of where my head is at musically/sonically/sound wise. For example, the new +DOG+ studio album will have a couple minutes of acoustic guitar and actual singing on a track, which I doubt I would ever do live, and the sounds are more layered and clearer in general. What I enjoy about playing live are the physical aspects of playing, of making noise on the spot with all the adrenaline of it all, you know, getting to release some noisy energy. So I guess they both have value to me but just in different ways.
And lastly, how do you define noise?
I don’t know..at this point “noise” seems to encompass many varieties & styles. When +DOG+ first started it was easier to define, we set up a wall of amps with a few distortion & delay pedals, smashed metal all over the stage, screamed bloody fucking murder and made a lot of ‘noise’…it was very primal at that time. We considered ourselves a “noise band”…but now I don’t know…the noise scene now has so many sub genres…harshnoise, ambient noise..experimental noise, whatever…its noise if you wanna call it “noise”. I guess I could define it as anything that doesn’t follow the standard musical format and/or structures, but even that would be wrong cause a lot of noise folks do use structure and use regular instruments etc…so its really hard for me to literally define noise to someone else. If it smells like noise, it must be noise.
DECAYCAST News: Let’s Burn It Down: Mixed-Genre Benefit Show Invades Richmond District Tonight w: CCR Headcleaner and more!
There’s no secret 4/20 in San Francisco in 2019 can be a shit-show, with zombie-like blood thirsty capitalists co-opting and squeezing any profit they can out of literally anything cannabis related, and culture related for that matter, while steamrolling communities with racist and patriarchal policies which put the cities most marginalized at risk. Any and all culture in San Francisco seems to be at best, null and void for the distant future, to the lazily observing outsider, but local organizers fight back against this hypocrisy with a psych forward diverse musical event where you can support a good cause while having your brain melted with outsider sounds from some of the bay area’s stranger and more esoteric musical offerings. We spoke with the main organizer, Andre Torrez of the Brown Recluse Variety Show, a local radio program on BFF.fm. about the event and why it’s important to support organizations that help folks clear their criminal records or marijuana and other non violent low level crimes, especially now in an ever changing Bay Area landscape that seems hell bent on destroying anything that rebels against this hyper dangerous runaway capitalist model.
“With the annual crush of humanity on Golden Gate Park’s Hippie Hill reaching near mythical proportions, 4/20 in San Francisco is pretty much a stoner holiday. It seems like a no-brainer to tap into this crowd for some low-level marijuana offense criminal justice reform.
California’s recreational use marijuana law went into effect in 2018. At this point, any partakers are “barely legal”. Good times! But what about all those pot-case convictions prior to the new law kicking in? Bummer? Not so fast.
Recently Code for America, a nonprofit that helps gov’t use tech to better serve people, worked with San Francisco’s D.A. to clear more than 8,000 marijuana convictions.
Why stop there? Marijuana is just the tip of the iceberg! Expunging old, low-level convictions can help tens of millions of Americans so they can get jobs, housing and education. Algorithms helping break down these barriers? It’s already happening! But it takes time, resources and money.
Pocket your vape pen and follow the wafting haze from the park on 4/20 and step inside SF’s Neck of the Woods(406 Clement Street) for the Blown-Out, Blowout Benefit Show: Barely Legal Edition.”
We spoke briefly with organizer Andre Torrez of The Brown Recluse Variety Show, who talked about the importance of organizing a benefit show and co-opting this green day for a good cause, “This is the 4th installment, though I haven’t thrown this party in 5 years. I used to be a DJ at KUSF 90.3 FM. When they were taken off the air I started the tradition of organizing a benefit show that was 4/20 themed. It’s not so much out of weed adulation, though I’ve definitely had my own adoring moments. It was more from my own observations of how 4/20 is like a California phenomenon. It really is treated like such an event as it is. Anyhow I like puns and themes, so I would get whatever local bands and acts I could convince to play for the cause of getting KUSF back on the air. Fast forward 5 years and they kind of are back on the air as KXSF 102.5 and I’m now affiliated as a BFF.fm DJ and recreational weed is now legal, so I needed a new cause.
I work at a local TV news station and that’s where I heard about all these low-level marijuana convictions getting expunged by the SF D.A.’s office. The cause to me was clear: more of this kind of work. When I dug into it and found out it was Code for America’s Clear My Record Campaign that was behind creating this algorithm that helped expunge more than 8,000 cases, I reached out to see if they’d like to be the beneficiary. I respect what they are working towards and how this impacts people’s chances for a greater housing, education and job opportunities. Really this is a manifestation of the income disparity I see on the streets everyday in San Francisco, especially living in the Tenderloin these last 10 years. People need help and not enough of us are stepping up to do something. I don’t expect a fat billion dollar check to come out of this, but even small-scale philanthropy can help make a difference.”
“This year’s lineup includes local, psych-heavyweights; CCR Headcleaner, bringing you riffs for days! Oakland’s Milk For The Angry is hot with their new cosmically, psychedelic-flavored album ‘Extraterrestrial Desert’. Ratskin Records’ Cyborg Eye, a dark and moody East Bay duo, will wow you with their gear. Hauras sets the experimental tone including a special screening of film work by Myleen Hollero. And if you like Glitter Wizard, then you won’t want to miss “members of” in the country-folk duo known as Honey Bucket Boys. DJ Mashi Mashi of Galaxy Radio fame will be spinning vinyl all night.
Come on out and stick it to the man. The fun starts at 8pm. $10.”
DECAYCAST Interviews: A Deep Look Into Collective Grimalkin Records.
We stumbled across VA based label collective Grimalkin Records on the internet, and this discovery proved the internet still occasionally can surprise you in the best way. Here’s a in depth look into the label and collective as told by, and questioned by their own collective members. The best interviews often feature little of the interviewer, so we went one step further and removed ourselves entirely from the discussion, enjoy and make sure to buy some of their fantastic music here! The label varies aesthetically however the overall presentation is unified and concise, yet sonically there’s something for everyone on their bandcamp, so take a look!
Nancy Kells (Richmond, VA), founder and leading facilitator of Grimalkin Records, also creates music as Spartan Jet-Plex.
Elizabeth Owens (Richmond, VA) is a musician and visual artist and helps with various logistical and design work for the label.
Liz (to Nancy): What are some big plans you have for Grimalkin down the line? Any specific projects you have in mind?
Nancy: I would love to put out a collective member compilation. It could benefit a specific person or organization or whatever we want to do. It would be nice to do some other compilations with various members curating different ones or members collaborating on curating it together. We could also do one as a collective where we each pick a song of someone else- we each ask one person/band we know for a song for it. I would love it if we could grow enough to do releases of 100 where proceeds from 50 could go to a non-profit or cause and the half could be given to artist to sell as they want at live shows or on Bandcamp or their website. It would eventually be great to have a setup to dub and do all j-card printing work. I hand dub them now, but it’s a small setup where realistically it would be too much to do runs or 50 or more. I’d love to have a community recording studio and do workshops on how to home record, do releases on your own, play music, whatever people were interested in hosting and attending. I love collaboration and would be interested in putting together small projects with others. I love that kind of thing. Maybe we could do one large mega-collaborative song with all of us? That would be very cool and probably a lot of fun.
Liz: In what ways do you hope Grimalkin differs from other labels?
Nancy: In comparison to bigger labels, even some smaller indie labels, we aren’t a business. If we were to grow and could get grants and be non-profit to support people on a larger level with stipends and then also in terms of raising money for organizations and collectives but also individuals in need. I personally admire Virginia Anti-Violence Project and the work they do. I would love for GR to be a place were we could do workshops and educational things but also support on learning things and how to be creative and play music- and then also individual support for people and even counseling. I also really admire Nationz and what Zakia McKensey has done for RVA. I see Grimalkin as a collective group of musicians who can help organize the community through music and in doing so can organize with others in the community as well and support other organizations and individual people.
Liz: How do you find new artists and decide who to approach about doing a Grimalkin release/joining the collective?
Nancy: My hope is that collective members will naturally know people or have friends who’d like to release- just building a community and support our talented friends. The people I’ve asked to join or release with us are people I’ve seen play live or from playing with them in Womajich Dialyseiz Mainly from being out at shows in Richmond.. I have met a few people on Twitter or through organizing benefit compilations as well which is great. So Kate is from Guayanilla, Puerto Rico and Berko is from Baltimore, Mabel is in Philly and Quinn is from Springfield, MO. It’s really cool to have people elsewhere and that our collective is branching outside of RVA.. I envision Grimalkin one day as supporting small music communities in various places. I know that’s lofty, but I can dream. We encourage people to reach out to us though.
Liz: If someone wanted to support or join Grimalkin, what are some of the biggest needs of the org in terms of labor right now?
Nancy: We want people to join us who feel like what we are doing is right for them. You don’t need to be in collective to release with collective so it’s more about just collaborating in various ways. Having people join us who feel like they have something that the collective would benefit from but at same time, it’s a no pressure thing. No one has to do anything specific, but if you want to contribute, that’s welcomed and encouraged. Everybody in our collective now contributes in various ways- graphic design, artwork, recruiting new people to join us or release music, social media promo, mastering songs- and we could help with mixing and recording as well, helping book shows and organize benefit shows. Also, just being a supportive friend to others is being part of the collective. Sometimes support is just showing up when you can. To me, that is important and I have a lot of respect for everyone in collective. And each person cares greatly for the world and all of the injustice and wants to do better and I think that ’with music is what brings us together.
Liz: Where you you like to see Grimalkin go?
Nancy: I’d like it to be a place where people can come to for help with their music and for support but also without expectations and strings. Like a home away from home or place you can come and be creative and help others and collaborate but a place you can come and go as you please. I’d love it if eventually we had enough money where we could pay people stipends to help them create their work or take care of themselves. Get paid for shows or creating artwork. Just a positive community where we raise one another up and help people when we can. Being around creative people inspires creativity and collaboration and support. It would be great if at some point we had a recording space people could use with equipment. It would be great if we eventually had a proper printer setup to do j-cards completely on our own. I’d like to get two of my tape decks fixed and try to have a much better dubbing setup. If we ever grow to doing larger runs, that would be wonderful. Maybe we could dub albums for friends then as well which would help a lot of people. I’d love more people to join the collective but at same time don’t want people to feel they have to join to release or collaborate with us. I’d like Grimalkin to support other people’s collectives and projects. And on same hand, would love to see us grow with people who really want to contribute every now and again or as much as they want and be part of the collective. I want us to be this network of people basically and we do what we do when we want or can to work with and help others
Nancy: I think benefits of creating music might be similar for both of us. We’ve both talked about how music is a way to process life and channel a lot of dark emotions into something positive. When did you know creating and writing your own music was important to you?
Liz: I started writing music as early as 7 years old, and knew it was important then. I used to get punished a lot as a kid and as a result ended up spending a lot of time in my room with nothing but a pen and paper and a lot of feelings. Before I knew how to write my own music I would just put my own lyrics to other songs (an early favorite of mine was the Harry Potter opening theme…). I’ve always used poetry as a way to work through my feelings and putting the words to music helps solidify the message in an emotional way for me. It didn’t really occur to me that my emotional/mental health largely depended on making music as a therapeutic device until about 5 years ago, though. I think I’ve gained a lot of clarity and healed a lot as a result of that insight.
Nancy: How has your personal sound changed over the years?
Liz: I think most of the change in my sound has come from collaborating with other musicians and challenging myself to think differently. My dear friend and musical sister, Micah Barry, has had a huge impact on my sound because we flow really well when we write together. She’s an incredible guitarist, so challenged me to write more complex and fluid guitar parts for Coming of Age, for example. Access to weird instruments has also shaped my sound a lot; Dave Watkins, who helped record Coming of Age, lent me a bowed psaltery which I learned to play and used heavily on the album. I also just acquired and fell in love with a lever harp. So curiosity and a love of learning new instruments has a lot to do with it, too.
Nancy: How did you meet the people who play in your band? You all really seem like you fit together when you play live like perfect puzzle pieces. Your music solo is wonderful. Growing Pain is particularly beautiful. I love that EP and all of those songs except the intro are on Coming of Age. The intro is this beautiful ambient and vocal piece that you can also hear ideas that end up on Coming of Age. Perhaps you think of Growing Pain as sketches for Coming of Age or maybe they sit separately as two entirely different things or a bit of both. I wonder how you view them in relationship to one another and what you think your current band brings to the songs on your new album?
Liz: First, wow thank you! Regarding my band mates, we fit really well together because I was friends with everyone before we started playing together. They’re all kind, perceptive listeners and I think that’s the key to making a band work really well. We have fun together. Regarding the EP vs. full album, I definitely think of the EP as a sketch of Coming of Age. It helped me lay down an intention for the record and feel out the sound before committing to a full band and recording plan. It also helped me realize that the songs were begging for added instrumentation and a spirit that could only exist with more people present, hence the band. It was really difficult to hand over these extremely personal songs to other people at first, but I’m so glad I did because the record wouldn’t be what it is otherwise, and I wouldn’t be where I am otherwise. Working with a band has done amazing things for my depression.
Mabel Harper (Philadelphia, PA) has a variety of music and writing projects including their solo project Don’t Do It, Neil, and helps with recruiting bands, artwork and graphic design, and mastering releases. She has a new album, B/X, out with us late June 2019. You can view her first video and single, Strawberry Cake, below.
Nancy: Your new album that you’re working on has a newish sound for you. What do you think inspired this change? I actually think your sound varies from listening to your Bandcamp. I think experimenting and trying new things is great and important in growing as a musician. I think it’s really exciting that you’re trying new things. Is there anything that stands out to you about doing things differently than you have previously?
Mabel: K-pop inspired the change. People shit on boy bands and pop music and stuff, but I think, when it’s really good, it’s good at crystalizing emotion in an accessible way. I basically see Don’t do it, Neil as an experimental pop project—not experimental as in, I wanna make something alienating, but experimental as in, I don’t wanna limit myself. It gets boring if you do the same shit over and over! I really believe that you can’t grow as an artist if you just keep doing the same thing over and over.
Nancy: You collaborate on a web serial through Form and Void. How did you get the idea for that series? You also have some music collaborations as well. How does your music collaborations differ from the writing and how to you see them in relation to each other? How does writing differ creatively for you from music and from your various collaborations?
Mabel: We got the idea for Form and Void after a long time of not collaborating and then one day just being like, “Maybe we should do something?” And, from our mutual interests in the historical practice of magic, queerness and identity issues, and stark human fucking darkness, Form and Void arose. I see writing as totally different than making music. Writing for me is something I find naturally collaborative, while I find that hard as fuck to do with music. I’m just so into my particular vision, that I find collaborating on music really frustrating. Of course people have their own ideas, but, if I feel strongly about something aesthetically-speaking, that’s it. That’s the way that shit’s gotta be.
Molly Kate Rodriguez (Guayanilla, Puerto Rico) makes music as kate can wait, and helps with recruiting new artists and collective members.
Nancy: Kate, I think you said you just recently played out solo as kate can wait for first time or first in a long time. I played my first ever solo set as Spartan Jet-Plex a month ago which was very scary. Just guitar and vocals is really intimate and kind of intimidating to do in front of people, at least it was for me.How did you get prepared for your show and how did it go? Do you have any advice on how to prepare and for getting your head in the right space for it?
Kate: It was my first time as kate can wait but it was the 3rd solo show I’ve ever played. My first 2 shows were me singing over a backing track but this one was the first time it was just me and my guitar. I practiced a lot,more than I ever have and the show actually went well. I’m a very indecisive person so I was still choosing songs for the setlist the day of the show which added a lot of stress to an already stressful occasion. My advice would be to not think about things too much and just have fun with it. People react positively to honesty and passion in a performance so just go for it.
Nancy: Kate, Out of everyone in the collective, your music is probably most similar to what I do with Spartan Jet-Plex. What is your writing process usually? And do you usually write lyrics and guitar simultaneously or which usually comes first for you?
Kate: My writing process involves me grabbing my guitar and playing around until I’ve found a chord progression I like,then I sing over it and if I like the vocal melody enough then I decide to make it a full song. Sometimes I end up recording the first thing I play and sometimes it takes me a long while until I come up with something worthwhile. I almost always write lyrics after the music, I find it super difficult to match up music to pre-written lyrics though I do it on rare occasions. I don’t like to spend too much time working on songs because I enjoy my first reaction to the music so my writing process for the most part coincides with the recording process. Sometimes I’ll go back and add or subtract things here and there but I normally spend a day on each song,2 at most.
Nancy: Kate, You mentioned that kate can wait and this current style of music for you is fairly new. I think you mentioned doing ambient and noise type music projects previously. How were you inspired to switch gears and write the kind of songs you’ve been currently writing? And do you ever miss doing ambient and noise and do you feel like there is room within the kate can wait project to bring those other sounds into it or how does that work when you’re writing music?
Kate: I made ambient and drone music from 2010 to 2017. I also dabbled a bit with instrumental hip hop,meditation and noise music and while all of those things were very exciting to make I’ve always wanted to make singer-songwriter type of music. Experimental music is very gratifying to make but sometimes you just wanna work on songs with verses and choruses and the like. I never felt confident enough to do it and my access to recording gear has always been limited so I always saw it as a pipe dream. I’d like to mix both things in the future but at the moment I have no real desire to go back to that sound. I feel like I ended those projects off on a high note and I’m ok with that.
Berko Lover (Baltimore, MD) met founding member Nancy Kells through organizing one of the compilations we put out as Friends For Equality. She’s been supportive of the work we are doing and helps with recruitment as well. Berko and Nancy just released their collaborative project, MERGE, this month.
Nancy: Berko, what is the music scene like in Baltimore? What are your favorite hangouts and places to see or play music there?
Berko: The music scene in Baltimore is very vibrant and and eclectic. There’s something for everyone.i love it and I am very proud of my peers. I love playing anywhere where the sound guy really loves to mix. That’s hard to come by but it’s a magical night when you sound like you want to sound.
Nancy: You created a food show. I loved how you edited it together with the different restaurant visits around the city and also the music. How did you come up with the idea to do your show and how do you view it in relationship to your music and other collaborations you do with various people?
Berko: I use my show as a vehicle to drive my music. I shot a bunch of footage but lately have been in a weird creative slump. I’m working on getting mySelf out of it and am pushing myself to get my show back up. I love food so coming up with the idea was easy. The execution and discipline to continue on hasn’t been as simple.
Nancy: I know we collaborated and I am excited to finally release it. I love So Nice Yesterday. Whenever I do a collaboration, the other person is bringing something unique and different to the table and it’s fun to see how you can bounce ideas and mesh with someone that works and possibly sounds different than you do. What is your motivating factor for working with Cazre? You both sound great together musically and vocally. You also were in another collective a while back and have collaborated quite a bit. What do you think makes it work?
Berko: Cazre is my best friend. Working with him is easy and the friendship motivates it. However, working with someone is always difficult when your both inspired in spurts. Getting on the same page can get challenging but once we do it feels and sound gorgeous. But our mutual respect for the talent each brings to the work is what works. I know that I perform my best in collaboration with him & I know that also does in regards to working with me. We bring out the best in each other musically and understanding that is what we focus on.
Sarmistha Talukdar (Richmond, VA) is a scientist, visual artist, and musician, and founding member of Womajich Dialyseiz, a queer improv noise collective. They help with organizing benefit shows and designing artwork for releases and events. Their solo music project is Tavishi.
Nancy: Sarmistha, why did you form Womajich Dialyseiz and how to you think Grimalkin can support the goals of WD? My favorite times playing with WD were when it was just a get together and not a show. Liz and I have talked about scheduling one seasonally. Emily R said she would be down to host at her house. We could not only get together for an improv session but also share what we are all working on outside of WD.
Sarmistha: Womajich Dialyseiz was formed to create a safe(r) space for women, non-binary and trans artists to improvise and collaborate artistically. I think Grimalkin can continue to support the goals of WD by continuing to support and provide platform to marginalized artists. It makes me happy to see members of WD having and organizing cozy musical get togethers!!
Nancy: What types of benefit shows, events and people do you think we should organize a benefit show for this year?
Sarmistha: I feel we could host fundraisers for ICE out of RVA, Southerners on New Ground (Black Mama Bail Fund), Richmond Food and Clothing Initiative, Advocates for Richmond Youth, The Doula Project, these organizations tend to not get enough funding or visibility even though they are really doing great work. We can try to support undocumented immigrants who have taken up sanctuary in Richmond (ex Hands off Abbie campaign), there are many community advocates in Richmond who are struggling but hesitate to ask for help, I would like to fundraise for them as well. For example Maria Escalante has been trying to help migrants in Southside through Richmond Conexiones, but has been going through a lot in her own life. There are several QPOC folks who need money for hormones, gender-affirming surgeries but do not have the means to do that, we could try to fundraise for them as well. We could potentially even fundraise for a small scholarship for QPOC folks who might need a little help with their work/studies/creative efforts.
Martina Fortin Jonas (Portsmouth, VA), who makes music as MELVL, helps with recruiting bands and musicians and organizing benefit shows. They also serve on the board of The Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia.
Nancy: Martina, Your music sounds both ancient and new. What are your inspirations?
Martina: I am a classically trained instrumentalist and have been an early music enthusiast for most of my life, so ancient music, medieval music (shout out to my girl Hildegard von Bingen!!), renaissance music, and generally just music before 1750 A.D. have a huge grip on me. Some of my other favorite composers include Leonin, Machaut, Josquin, Mealli, Uccellini, Marais, Handel, and of course, Anonymous. Other artists I love that influence my work are Enya, Sade, early Grimes, Alcest, Pink Floyd, Treha Sektori, Csejthe, Araphel, Batushka, Atrium Carceri, Endvra, Coph Nia, and more.
Nancy: You teach at ODU? I think that is correct. What do you teach there? How do if at all does your teaching impact or influence your music? I was a special education teacher and taught middle school math, algebra and English. I always felt like my work was directly in relation to my music. I feel the same now too as a vocational counselor. I think my job always affected my art or music but it has had a more positive impact as I felt like what I was doing was meaningful to me outside of a paycheck.
Martina: I have taught at ODU before, but currently I teach Intro to Linguistics, Written Communications, and German at Hampton University. Usually I keep my music and teaching pretty separate from each other, but over the years I have found that it is teaching that helps me the most with the stage fright I deal with in my musical endeavors.
Quinn Wolf (Springfield, MO) is a musician and podcaster who recently reached out to Grimalkin about joining via email. She plans to help with recruiting and planning future podcasts.
Nancy: How did you get involved in the video game project Transhaping? Can you tell us about your experience working on the project and how you came up with songs for the soundtrack and what attracted you to the project?
Quinn: Unbound Interactive put out a call on Twitter for trans musicians to contribute to the soundtrack. A friend of mine sent me the link, and I just sent them a quick DM with some SoundCloud links and forgot about it until they messaged me back. I really wasn’t expecting anything, since I hadn’t done any paid work of this scale before, but the Unbound team were both super cool and committed to telling their trans story with trans talent. I let them know the genres I’m used to working in, and they gave me the task of making a handful of short songs to play on in-game radios. I naturally sketch out short musical ideas with different synths, so making these tiny tracks came easily to me. Unbound Interactive is a fantastic group of folks with some real business smarts, so I’m looking forward to watching their next project take shape.
Nancy: Tell us about Luminous Studios and how you got involved in that podcast team and what your goals are with that and some of the main topics you like to discuss on there?
Quinn: Where to start? The founding members of Luminous Studios – myself, Cole Shepard and Jack Grimes – decided to form our own network after discovering our love for podcasting on a now-defunct podcast arm of a vaporwave music label of all things. Originally the three of us wanted a space to create more serious works of analysis and criticism about media, but instead the network became more of a place to showcase new and experimental audio content. We have a large group of friends from our past creative endeavors, and Luminous Studios became a great way to introduce a lot of them to podcasting and vice versa. Right now, we’re pushing forward with this idea of honing our craft and trying things without worrying too much about being commercially viable or anything like that. To be honest, we’re somewhere in this weird middle space between podcast network and publishing co-operative and art collective. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Nancy: Tell us about your music and what inspired you to reach out to Grimalkin and what you hope to gain from working with us, how you hope to contribute to the collective and how the label can help you personally but also what you would like to see us do for others and communities?
Quinn: Music has always been a bit of a lonely pursuit for me. I grew up around church music and school bands and choirs, but I’ve never had friends who were into pursuing music independently. […]
Osser Smith (Richmond, VA), a.k.a. Peter Pierpont, is a visual artist and musician and helps with various aspects of the creative work Grimalkin does (i.e. posters, merch, promotion, etc.).
Nancy: Similar to me, you just performed live for the first time. I find that exciting but it was also very scary to me but I felt like it was time to push myself to do not only for me personally to grow as a person and musician, but also as a way to give myself some kind of validation that my music is worthy to share with others in a live setting. I guess I never really felt like I was good enough or valid enough to play in front of people. I was really holding myself back and fearful of failing and falling flat on my face. What are your thoughts on this and what drove you to finally take the plunge? Did you have to psych yourself up for days, weeks? How did you prepare and overcome any fear or reservations you may have had?
Osser: Oh my gosh I was terrified. I told all my friends I would never perform my music because it’s too scary. But a couple nights before Kosmo, my friend running the show, asked if I would hop on. I practiced a couple hours before, hoping I would remember all the words. I remembered most of them! I think I just really was driven to share the feelings I got making those songs.
Nancy: Tell us about Peter Pierpont. Where did you come up with that name and are you taking on a persona when you do your music or is that just a band/project name?
Osser: Peter Pierpont is actually a character from a narrative I’ve been working on for some time. I decided to use his name for my music project because he sort of represents the positive sides to being overly emotional and mentally ill for me. In my narrative, Peter lives a very similar life to mine in the beginning, dies in his early 20’s then comes back from the dead some time in the future to sing songs about his past life and find a new path to plunge his heart and soul into. Metaphorically, Pete’s death represents killing the happy parts of myself early in life and slowly picking them back up. I don’t know what my future holds but I hope Pete can bring myself others empathy and aural elation!
As for the name, Osser is actually the origin. Osser was the original “Peter” persona. He was actually called “Ossy” and his character design was based on the sad clown, Pierrot. At some point in my late adolescence I was too embarrassed of how queer Ossy was so I created Peter from him. I used “Pier” as a starting point then. Peter and Pierpont both mean “stone” in some way.. (and that’s a whole other story) Peter was a more gender confirming character for me even though I was still years away from coming out. I started to miss the old Ossy and brought “them” back in my art and via myself. Their name changed to “Osservalten” in a car ride one day and it just stuck. Peter lived through the narrative for sometime gaining more and more relevance. Now I happily serve as a vessel for Peter’s musical numbers he writes about his past life in his new life. We are all much more comfortable with ourselves now.
Nancy: Osser: I know we’ve talked about the Legendary Pink Dots together already. I mentioned how your live set (my first intro to hearing your music) reminded me slightly of them and your voice of Edward Ka-Spel. When did you discover their music and is there anything you’d like to share about your music and them? I know you mentioned Edward is a music idol of sorts to you.
Osser: LPD is my biggest inspiration! Back in my teen years I was very angry and listened to lots of Skinny Puppy. This one time I was watching some tour footage and one of the band members pointed out “The Legendary Pink Dots” was written on the wall backstage somewhere. I didn’t know anything about LPD til one day soon after that I walked into Plan 9 records in 2007 and found their album “Your Children Placate You From Premature Graves.” and bought it on impulse. I thought their sound was fantastic then slowly discovered more and more… (and I’m still finding things I’ve never heard by them) One of the most inspiring moments in my life was watching Edward Ka-Spel perform “Salem” live in DC. I’ve looked everywhere for a video of my favorite part of the song where he screeches “YOU??? I MEAN YOUUU?????” Ka-Spel is a compelling story teller and I will always aspire to follow a similar direction.
Nancy: I believe you are also an artist? Can you tell us how you see music and art in relation to one another and specifically your creative relationship to both music and art? I made artwork and drew and painted and then got into sculpture long before I tried creating music so I am interested in how people relate the two who do both or have done both. I always had a love of music throughout my life but drawing and painting seemed more natural to me creatively when I was young and then overtime that flipped for me. I feel like artwork was limiting me to what I need to get out of myself and so I think that is where the change came for me.
Osser: I’ve been having a very similar experience as of late! I grew up in a musical family but didn’t really take interest in playing an instrument or learning anything about music because I was always more passionate about my drawing ability. I watched my mom participate in choirs, my dad play music with his friends every thursday night, and my brother pick up drums and electric guitar at an early age. I was excelling in art and it was the only thing I really cared about growing up so I stuck to that for the longest time. As I grew older though I began hanging out in different Richmond music scenes trying to find my place. I’ve always been an audience member because I didn’t want to share my narrative with anyone. But one day in late 2018 I opened GarageBand on my computer and just started obsessively piecing together some heavy loops to sing over. And I haven’t been able to stop ever since!!! It definitely took me a while to even want to take that first step away from the pencils and paintbrushes. I didn’t think I could make something that sounded decent but thanks to modern technology I can focus on narrating and create a digital piece as a catalyst for my stories. Together with art and music I want to create a complete work. I’ve thought of making a comic book with soundtracks to go along with them but that seems very involved. We’ll see what life throws at me.
Heaven Imanchinello. Richmond, Virgina.
Heaven IImanchinello is involved in several community projects that help people in Richmond. including Great Dismal, which hosts and books benefit shows and supports local and touring musicians. They help with recruiting bands and musicians and with organizing shows and with giving us general advice. Heaven is also in Womajich Dialyseiz and curated our live set release. They also will be curating an upcoming compilation Grimalkin is putting out of collective members & friends hopefully this fall. They were unable to participate in this interview this go around due to life getting in the way.
Backxwash. Montreal, Québec, Canada.
Backxwash helps with promotion and recruiting. We met her through her Twitter and discovered her killer music and checked out her music video for F.R.E.A.K.S. and you should too. We asked her if she would be interested in releasing and/or joining and we’re so glad she’s a part of our collective. Look for a release from her in July 2019. Backxwash just joined the collective this week prior to conducting and submitting this interview.
1.Nasiba Abdullayeva – “Lazgi” (Uzbekistan, USSR, 1983?)
2.Rahima Shaloer & Gulshan – “Shiriniy” (Tajikistan, USSR, 1986)
3. Gunesh “Chayhana” (Turkmenistan, USSR, 1989)
4. Sevda Alpay & Zafer Dilek “Kara Kasli Yar” (Turkey, 1974)
5. Grup Akdeniz “Sine, Sine” (Turkey, 1984)
6. Eolika “Karavana” (Latvia, USSR, 1985)
7. Vishnya “Raschoska” (Russia, USSR, 1988)
8. Isabela Trojanowska “Jestem Twoim Grzechem” (Poland, 80’s)
9. Snezhniy Avgust “Fialki” (Russia, 1991)
10. Rusya “Nye Stiy Pid Viknom” (Ukraine, 1991)
11. Dos Mukasan “Barinende Sen Sulu” (Kazakhstan, USSR 1971)
12. Kino “Kamchatka” (Russia, USSR, 1984)
13. Original “Sen Kaydan Bilasan” (Uzbekhistan, USSR, 1981)
14. Biokonstruktor “Teletourism” (Russia, USSR, 1987)
16. Murad Kajlayev “Fakir” (Azerbaijan, USSR, 1972)
17. Alla Pugachyova “Sirena” (Russia, USSR, 1987)
18. Glass Wings “This Music” (Russia, 1991
DECAYCAST Premieres: Watergate Sandals’ Releases “Presidential Bootleg” via Under The Counter Tapes
Here we have a genre we haven’t really covered before on Decaycast and what better way to bridge this gap then with a fantastic new release from underground mainstays Under The Counter Tapes. For their newest release, they present “Presidential Bootleg” from Watergate Sandals. W/S excavate their twanged, fuzzed out, up beat, four to the floor garage rock sound to it’s fullest extend on “Ukrainian March” which you can listen to for the first time below. The track combines thick distorted guitars, driving basses, and cavernous drums accented with vocals oscillating between a fed up, accentuated yell and blown out howls which perfectly complement the sound and vibe of this upbeat, but heavy track, perhaps the standout on the album. Ukrainian March is like an old beat up machine inching down the road toward uncertainty , exhaling billows of smoke behind it’s rusty, decaying exterior, but it keeps going and going and going until the job is done. in a seemingly oversaturated genre, Watergate Sandals offers a unique and refreshing take on garage rock / power pop, not something we have covered much here in the past, although this offering is both uniquely refreshing and captures a sound well those familiar with the genre can appreciate and understand.
“Light” offers a more upbeat, slower and more controlled take on expanded garage rock / blues with more out front vocal harmonies gelling with the guitars and drums perfectly. Light still has a garage rock feel but defiantly oscillates into some straight classic rock territories as well. The cassette ends with “Chilly” the perfect combination of up beat guitars and vocals while acting as a crescendo for the album. This was explained to us more as a compilation, but the flow to beginning to end and consistent recording style lends itself as more of a complete album, energetic and fun listen, also check out the beautiful J card art below. Order this today!
Presidential Bootleg pulls together all 20 of Watergate Sandals’ recorded songs, from the 8 featured on Pick Apart the Jewels and Gems, the 5 featured on their final digital-only EP, 4 newly mastered former demo recordings, and 3 never before heard recordings to form the ultimate document of the Santa Cruz band’s history. Watergate Sandals notably went through a few distinct shifts during their run, starting as a noisy punk blues band, then moving towards more power pop oriented garage rock and then finally landing on psych rock influenced by the Paisley Underground. As such, none of their previous works quite captured a true picture of the band in isolation. Presidential Bootleg is arranged not as a chronological compilation, but its own album released (and not released) in bits and pieces over the years, flashing back and forth between the eras in a way that feels as though it were always meant to be and lending immense range and dynamism to the 70 minute runtime. Shockingly seamless transitions from the destructive force of the newly mastered “Landlord” into the soft, floating “Ways Away” paint a perfect picture of the band’s uncommon deftness and versatility.
Thanks to the efforts of Jesse Nestler (Watergate Sandals bassist) and Kevin Percy Linn (owner of Paisley Shirt Records and genius behind Sad Eyed Beatniks), we’ve been able to put together an incredible package honoring the band in celebration of the 4th anniversary of their previously only physical release, Pick Apart the Jewels and Gems. Featuring a stunning double-sided 7-panel j-card collage including archival photography, old gig flyers, and satirical American and presidential iconography, Presidential Bootleg is not only musically comprehensive, but visually as well.
UTC is absolutely thrilled to bring this incredible band’s catalog to true fruition in the form of Presidential Bootleg.
Presidential Bootleg releases April 26 digitally and on limited edition cassette bundle. Bundles are limited to 50 worldwide and include a chrome cassette tape with a double-sided 7-panel j-card, and 3 release specific collector’s pins. A portion of sales through UTC will go to Planned Parenthood.
Open Call For Works for #ActuallyAutistic Musicians Awareness Compilation
The twelfth annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2019, and this is the same day musician, writer, and activist mynameisblueskye has chosen to release “On The Spectrum 2: Red April”, a compilation featuring mixed-genre artists who are on the Autistic Spectrum. The title is a reference to the often problematic Autism Speaks’ Light It Up Blue campaign, as the majority of autistic people having problems with Autism Speaks (pretty much saying Autism Speaks is low key an autistic hate group that masquerades as a harmless Autism-focused organization.) The artists have chosen to focus on the color red, with the slogan “Light It Up Red”. We can’t wait to hear the submissions for this and if it’s anything like the diverse sounds championed on I Heart Noise in the past, (the label slated to co-release the project) it’s sure to be a diverse and eclectic sonic offering. In a time where artists are already exploited within shifting narratives of global chaos of racism, sexism, transphobia, ableism and other forms of systemic oppression, artists and activists must often function as double sided advocates for both their own work and their friends and peers work who might not have the same set of resources to fight these menacing, and this to be titled compilation is a fantastic step in fighting against this very system. Representation matters. Below is the call for works from the organizer. Please spread this far and wide and contact the organizer with any direct questions, inquiries or submissions!
#ActuallyAutistic Musicians: We are putting together a compilation to Autism Awarness Month. What we need from you is to know if you are interested in being on the compilation. If so, DM or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know your interest. 🙂
— mynameisblueskye (@tokenblackaspie) March 14, 2019
From the organizer: “we are doing a compilation wrapping around artists who are on the Autism Spectrum. For Autism Acceptance/Awareness Month, me and IHeartNoise decided to put together a compilation to showcase some talent within the spectrum. Are you interested in being a part of it or do you know anyone on the spectrum who might be? If so, is there a song you would like to offer to the compilation? Although, we accept covers, we prefer your material be original. 🙂
If so, please email a song that you wish to contribute to email@example.com. If you need more information, don’t be hesitate to ask. Also, if you know other artists with Autism that might be interested, please do not hesitate to spread the word,
Addendum: we cannot promise every song will make it, but you will be shouted out when the whole operation is done. Thank you so much not only for reading, but for being interested.
You can listen to mynameisblueskye ‘s personal music below!
Stay tuned as this article will be updated with a link to the compilation once released.