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interview

Dead Leaf Echo On ‘Thought And Language’

DEAD LEAF ECHO INTERVIEW

Dead Leaf Echo are busy touring the USA on the back of their debut album ‘Thought And Language’ (available now through Neon Sigh). The New York-based trio have toured alongside Chapterhouse, The Psychedelic Furs, Ulrich Schnuass, A Place To Bury Strangers and Ringo Deathstarr among others and recently worked with John Fryer (Cocteau Twins, NIN) to mix the album. Guitarist and singer LG has taken a moment to answer a few questions about the new album, the tour and that special spot on the Beautiful Noise 20th Anniversary stage…

Your debut album ‘Thought And Language’ was released this month through Neon Sigh – congrats! What was involved in the recording process and are you happy with the result?

Cheers Jimmy. The recording process was heavily labored over almost 3 years….a bit too long for most but I wanted it to be right but we just keep going over budget while trying to tour at the same time….so it became a ping-pong back and forth of saving and spending.  As to the 2nd part of your question….I think contentment is the word to be used regarding the album….it’s time to move on to other things and get this off the chest.
 
Dead Leaf Echo – ‘Memory Traces’


 
For those of us new to Dead Leaf Echo – how did the band begin?

The band started for fun and just artistic exercises but has survived through a lot of positive feedback and excitement over our 1st EP ‘Pale Fire” But after the 2nd EP and roughing it through the our first album it became more sheer determination and obsession to make it through.

We were formed in Manhattan as that’s where all members lived at the time but has now moved to Brooklyn over the past 5 years. All members are now located there and we rehearse there as well.

DEAD LEAF ECHO
 
Dead Leaf Echo – ‘Kingmaker’


 
Its already been a big year of shows – touring with Lorelei, The Ocean Blue and the Warlocks with more coming (Beach Fossils and the Telescopes). How has the tour been so far and what can punters expect when they see you guys live? The Beautiful Noise festival celebrates its 20th Anniversary in Arizona on April 27, you’re playing alongside Half String, Tennis System, Alisons Halo and more. Its an ambitious mix of newcomers and veterans – how excited are you to be there!?

Yes. This has by far been our busiest year yet and the shows have been amazing…we’ve put in more road time yet at this point than ever before I hope we can keep it up. Lorelei was amazing and the mini-tour with them was extremely satisfying. We have known them for years and those guys have such an amazing rapport with each other….it’s something that happens after playing 20 years together. Really stoked on their new record with Slumberland and glad to see that it could happen again – it picks up right where they left off. Once we got to Austin it just felt so good. We saw Experimental Aircraft (local Austin band) as soon as we got there at the Mohawk. Really amazing show and it was good to see Rachel from that band as we hadn’t seen her since our show with Chapterhouse. The Ocean Blue boys are real gems….absolutely professional and courteous. The showcase with them was a lot of fun…it’s an interesting match so I’m really excited to be playing with them again here in New York.

We’re lucky to be back out on the road with Tennis System and Slowness old west coast friends of ours and then later we have east coast shows with Heaven and Nightmare Air should also be a blast.

As far as the live show is concerned it’s a blissfest. Lights out and let the visuals take you away…..bring earplugs for the volume levels. Sensory levels taken up through the roof.

We’re dying in anticipation……This west coast tour is book-ended with 2 amazing festivals. The 1st being Part Time Punks mini-fest…with us and Beach Fossils and Half-String in one room and the Telescopes, LSD and Tennis System in the other…Brad Lerner from Medicine DJing the whole thing! It’s gonna be nutz…and so thrilled to be a part of it. It’s the best in old and new school under one roof.

Same goes for Beautiful Noise. What a tradition they’ve had in those desert festivals…with so many classic band coming together in the past we’re so elated to be on this bill not mention it being the 20th anniversary….What’s even more insane and on a another level is that we will be backing up Scott Cortez’s project Astrobrite (an old Beautiful Noise fave band). San Francisco, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Tucson – it’s gonna be a ride. Thanks – LG

Visit Dead Leaf Echo online @ Neon Sigh @ Soundcloud @ Facebook / Tickets for Beautiful Noise here.

Nothing’s Worth Seeing

It’s been said the most real state is the state of nothing; a dead end, the Zen path to ultimate reality, emptiness incarnate. Nothing is just about the weirdest thing ever. It’s logic and beauty invokes a sort of dread, and more often than not, confusion. While I doubt Philadelphia’s NOTHING are on any serious existential mission to reify ‘nothingness,’ they are just as enigmatic. Steeped in ghostly guitars, deafening noise, and grisly metaphors – NOTHING diverges from the familiar (i.e., your typical “dreamy/astral/ethereal” shoegaze act) and instead delivers an immanent sound and vision to get completely lost in.

 
Nothing – ‘Downward Years to Come’

After collaborating across genres with Wes Eisold of Cold Cave on their last EP ‘Sunns and Lovers’ and going on tour with Night Sins (highly recommended post-punk/darkwave from Philadelphia via Avant! Records), NOTHING is heading on tour again and playing SXSW in support of their second EP, ‘Downward Years to Come’ (via AC390 Recordings) with Whirr (Tee Pee Records, Oakland, CA).

 
Nothing – ‘The Dives (Lazarus in Ashes)’

We got a chance to catch up with Domenic Palermo and Brandon Setta of NOTHING to answer a few questions before the start of their epic U.S tour (scroll down for dates).

People are kind of losing their shit over this upcoming tour w/ WHIRR (including SXSW). How stoked are you to be playing SXSW this year? Do you prefer to be on the road or would you rather be at home writing and recording? 

Domenic: I’m really excited to get to see Whirr play finally, and there probably isn’t another band that meshes better with us for a tour. I’m not the biggest SXSW fan, but huge Austin fan. Just thinking about all of those people gives me anxiety. Touring in general has always been a kind of a love/hate relationship thing with us. We’re always so excited to get out of this miserable city, but the thought of living out of vans for weeks on end while drunk driving our vehicles with blindfolds on, creates another series of problems that follows over our heads like black clouds. We enjoy recording and writing more than anything but I don’t think I could ever stick with this all without playing live. What do you know… I’m torn.

Brandon: I’ve been a fan of Whirr since ‘Distressor’ came out, so I’m excited to be watching them play live every night for a month. My only SXSW experience is a bit of a haze but I’m pretty sure it included getting jumped by some college jocks and eating delicious breakfast tacos, most importantly it’s an escape from home in a warm and friendly city, so I’m excited to play this year. I also have a love/hate relationship with both touring and recording, but I’d rather have the van explode before I see the Philly skyline again.
 
Whirr – ‘Junebouvier’


 
‘Downward Years to Come’ has a very sensual, mind-altering, languid feel to it, despite its initial intensity.  What’s NOTHING’S attitude toward drugs?

Domenic:    I think all drugs are good for opening new doors in the creative category, especially in the arts. I only use them for self- destructive purposes though.

Brandon:    Where can I find some?

Last year you toured with NIGHT SINS and worked with Wes Eisold (Cold Cave) on the B-side to your first EP, ‘Sunns and Lovers:’ can you tell us more about your relationship with both acts? Are any of you big fans of industrial/synthwave music?

Domenic:    I’ve known Wes for quite some time now. We’ve worked on a couple different projects, but it’s always an honor whenever I get to create anything musically with him. The Night Sins guys are more recent friends. They are really amazing people and we love hanging with them.

As far as the music goes I am a huge fan of both bands and do appreciate the genres but it has much more to do with me being in love with my friends and having the opportunity to create things with them. You’ll never see me do anything in music with someone I don’t care for, no matter who it is.

Brandon:    I’ve always been a fan of Cold Cave, so working with Wes was a pretty crazy experience for me, more so because of my obsession with American Nightmare since I was super young. Night Sins had a simple and grim sound and were great to watch live, I like them a lot as a band and as people. I’m into alot of other bands in the genre as well, like Former Ghosts and Blank Dogs.

A lot of your band flyers, symbols, and art use rather grisly tropes— sacrifice, injury, illness. Where does NOTHING’S visual inspiration come from?

Domenic:    Life in general. Things I see everyday, everywhere. Things that people enjoy usually make me nauseous. I can’t figure out if I’m fucked [up] or everyone else is.

Brandon:    Anything we find fitting with the music. I suppose when you see a depressing phrase or bleak picture on a t-shirt or record cover, you get a feel of what we are going to sound like, and it’s not going to make you happy.

Does it ever bother you how writers and the press lump you with other shoegaze acts?

Domenic:    I don’t care what we get lumped into. I don’t even know where that is. That’s your guys’ job.

Brandon:    People generally compare us to bands that I’m greatly influenced by and listen to every day, so that’s fine with me. Most of them don’t know what they’re talking about anyway.
 
Nothing – ‘If Only’

 

To hear and check for more updates on NOTHING visit Facebook / Bandcamp / Tumblr.

By: Psychic Hearts

 

EP Superblast! An Interview With Nick Benton Of Carousels

 (Carousels; Nick Benton, Lucy Wilson, Angela Won-Yin Mak, Danny Power, and Ed Kirwan)

CAROUSELS are a noise pop quintet from Cambridge, England, who last Fall issued their second EP, ‘POP’ via Deadly People Recordings. Never one to warp records or over-scratch CDs from constant rotation, POP is no short-lived affair. Each song bleeds into the other, leaving you slightly rattled with delight. Kind of like when you heard “Sueisfine” by My Bloody Valentine for the first time, and I mean really heard it— head spinning, pure joy and what have you.

Indeed, it’s tempting to compare the new incarnation of CAROUSELS to Isn’t Anything era My Bloody Valentine. Actually listening to POP, though, yields a superblast of highly textured noise with swirling, dissonant guitars that have a sort of brash, motorik quality that’s neither over-bearing or severe, rather concurrent with Nick Benton’s (lead singer) gentle pop melodies and biting lyrics.

 

 
Carousels – ‘Over Me’


 
We got the awesome chance to catch up with Nick earlier this month to see what CAROUSELS were up to and their future plans for this year: Pretty much everyone I know LOVES the POP EP. Like seriously, instantaneously, digs it. Do you feel a lot pressure now from just one EP?

Nick: Not really. I felt a lot of pressure when we put up our first demos a couple of years ago. I never expected those songs to get as much attention as they did and there was this instant pressure to follow them up with loads of gigs and more recordings, but we were just totally unprepared. I’ve kinda learnt from that now. That being said, the live aspect has been difficult. The EP sounds so massive and is mixed in such a particular way that it’s been quite hard to get the live show to match it. We weren’t happy for ages after the EP was released. We’ve had a lot of changes in our live setup since then. It has been hard but we’re getting there now.
 
Carousels – ‘All I Could Do’


 
Are you currently working on an LP? Any plans for a tour?

Nick: It would be cool to do another tour soon, but it’s difficult because we all have to work. Lucy is 6 months pregnant as well, so I think as of May we’re going to stop gigging for a bit and do some more writing and recording, not for an LP but definitely a single or something… Musically it’s going to be completely different to the POP EP, I’m not sure I’m in the right mood to write another batch of pop songs, I get bored too easily. It should be cool, we’ll see.

How did you and everyone else get into shoegaze / noise pop? Was it just a natural progression, so to speak?

Nick: I can’t speak for everyone else but I got massively into stuff like that when I was about 14 years old. Weirdly it was after watching a live version of Creep on TV and seeing Jonny Greenwood punch his telecaster throughout every chorus. I’d never seen anything like that before and it all went from there really. Everyone else at school was listening to The Strokes and what-not, and I got a kick out of being that weird kid that played people Psycho Candy at full volume.
 
Carousels – ‘Sweet Honey’


 
Curious, what is the scene like in London? Do you hope to stay there as a band in the future?

Nick: I tend to hide away in Cambridge and only get to go to London to rehearse and play gigs so I don’t know much about the current scene really. I’ve been lucky enough to have played with a lot of cool bands in a lot of cool venues over the past few years, and from what I can tell everyone seems genuinely excited and there doesn’t seem to be too much negativity about anything… There’s an abundance of venues and nights that cater for all types of music, so I can’t imagine people find it tough to get gigs… Could be wrong though maybe I’m just not paying enough attention.

Be sure to get your limited-time only free download of “Sweet Honey” @ CAROUSELS POP and for more news, music, & updates @ iTunes @ Soundcloud @ Facebook @ Tumblr.

PSYCHIC HEARTS is a CA/NY-based writer of sorts who loves obese cats and used records. You can read more reviews, features, and commentary right here!

Introducing Kigo…

Earlier in the month Brisbane’s Kigo posted ‘Guilt‘ online and we immediately lapped it up. At that stage the EP wasn’t available but now it is – download here. These bold and colourful shoegazing sounds were recorded over the past few weeks, by one man at home. With plans for an album and expanding into a live show, there’s plenty to look forward to. This is one of the more exciting new acts to grace my ears in recent times. To find out more, I put some questions to Kigo…

 
Kigo – ‘Now You Know’


 
How did the EP come together?

I am really happy with how quickly it came together. I recorded the songs myself at home. I don’t own much, or if any recording gear, so I basically recorded it straight into my laptop. Three of the songs were recorded in the last week.

What’s your favourite piece of kit?

My favourite piece of gear I own would have to be my MicroVerb III. It has the reverse reverb effect on it (which I love), and along with my old Boss DS1 (replaced with a new pedal I got from a friend – Thanks Chris), is the only piece of gear that I use regularly.

What are your influences, what are you listening to?

I have a really limited set of bands I listen to, and it’s become a joke among my friends that the only bands I like are The Beach Boys, and MBV. I have always liked music where the main song writer/band has a story. I’m not sure why, but I think it makes the band more enjoyable in some way. I have been listening to the new albums by Converge, and Swans, along with old favourites like Pet Sounds, Ariel Pink, and Two Hunters by Wolves in the Throne Room. I also love Bored Nothing, j. francis, and Epithets; all Australian bands that I listen to often.

Any future plans for an album or live shows?

I’m talking to some friends about forming a band. This is the first time I have ever really played music on my own, so I’m not really sure how to go about anything yet, I am proud of my work, and I really want to get out and play live, so I’ll try my hardest to get a band together as soon as possible. I’ll be working hard to get the songs/the band/album ready over the next few months. Hope to have another EP out by mid year, and an album out by the end of this year, the start of the next. Can’t wait to get started.

Visit Kigo @ Soundcloud @ Bandcamp @ Facebook.

 

Love, Rain And Reverb: An Interview w/ Soft Shadows (By Psychic Hearts)

Weary, lo-fi over a thin vapor of reverb, listening to Soft Shadows (fmr. Sundaze) reminds me of that part in “Lost in Translation” when Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray’s character take a cab ride through Tokyo while “Sometimes” by My Bloody Valentine plays in the background.  Yeah, you know that scene — the shallow focus, low light, Kevin’s whispering, that feeling of something cool and familiar.  It’s rare for bands, like Soft Shadows, to generate a memory of such a beautiful and iconic scene.  Though they are in the midst of recording their debut, we at SBWR were instantly drawn to their cold, sparse noise and wanted to know more about what they’ve got planned for this year while in PDX.

If you like Beach Fossils, Sparklehorse, and/or Weird Dreams check out SOFT SHADOWS @ Facebook // Bandcamp // Soundcloud.

 
Soft Shadows – ‘Whatever You Say’


 
Soft Shadows sound has this sort of late-night, cold, whispery, lo-fi vibe, which is, I would say different from that of Sundaze whose sound was more fuzzy surf/garagaze influenced, kind of like the Vandelles or even The Raveonettes. What inspired the name change and new direction?

As you have picked up, our sound has shifted and we felt it was time to shed the name we chose out of necessity. At the time, we were a brand new band with shows lined up and needed a name fast, so that’s how we chose Sundaze. Over the course of little over a year we found sounds we really related to and they were much different than when we started. This sparked a difference in direction and led to a member leaving. With the addition of Ryan Simon on guitars, we felt this is a perfect time to regroup.

I got a chance to watch “New American Noise: Electric Noise,” a music documentary series for the Sundance Channel directed by Abteen Bagheri who is known for his avant-garde rap videos. It really seems like Portland holds a special place in your hearts. How has the scene, shoegaze and otherwise, responded to Soft Shadows? What do you think you are doing differently to stand out in Portland? Do you plan on staying in Portland?

There are so many scenes in Portland right now, and with lots of bands sharing members between projects, the lines between scenes are blurry, and I mean that in all positive aspects.  Portland has a great vibe and friendly atmosphere; it’s small enough to have a town-feel. There’s a pho restaurant nearby when a couple leaves, she’ll bid them farewell by saying, “Have a romantic weekend!” As you know, Portland is surrounded by water. The weather plays a big part in how we write and feel. Being enveloped in rain most of the year produces guitar sounds as if it was dipped in water.  I try to soak the guitars in reverb but not over doing it for the hopeful feeling that the sun will come and dry the rain eventually. As much as Portland is a hometown in our hearts and the place where we’re grounded in, we’re always open to living in a new place.

New American Noise – short documentary on lo-fi/shoegaze in Portland…
 

 
I loved Soft Shadows video for “I Want to Be With You,” because it reminded me of the taxicab scene in Lost In Translation when “Sometimes” by MBV is playing – was that a conscious decision?

I love that scene too! I had a similar experience of flooded imagery when I was an exchange student in Tokyo, which “Lost In Translation” was released after I came back from my 3 months abroad. I’ve always liked the idea of travelling alone with my camera. Being immersed in new and different environments with little or no outside comfortable influences, it becomes a completely personal enveloping experience through my own lens (also, I don’t have to burden people waiting for me running off somewhere for a random shot).

My last overseas trip was to Vietnam and Japan early 2012. Usually, I’m the girl taking photos, but sometimes I’ll remember I have film capability as well, so take short segments here and there to edit afterwards. The plan was to get as much random footage possible, and then cut it down to something that may flow together. When it came to the idea of making a music video for “I Want To Be With You,” I revisited the old footage I took, only to have found a large bulk deleted on accident. Surprisingly, even though it may not flow as perfectly how I would like it, all the pieces fell into place for the mood and pace of the song. If you listen to the lyrics, it’s also about a girl wandering around town, looking to be found, which sort of fits.

Soft Shadows – I Want To Be With You

What can we expect from Soft Shadows in the upcoming year?

We’re shooting for a tour within the next few months. Our album will be coming out later this year, and you can expect a dreamier sound, still accompanied by our heavy droney sound.
 
PSYCHIC HEARTS is a CA/NY-based writer of sorts who loves obese cats and used records. You can read more reviews, features, and commentary from her music site dedicated to shoegaze / dreampop / garage / synthwave. More @ PSYCHIC HEARTS.