Last September we spoke to Don Froth about his approach to producing music and general outlook on life. At the time he was on the cusp of two releases for Uno and West Norwood Cassette Library’s WNCL Recordings. With those records behind him and a relatively quiet 2013 (so far) we thought it’d be nice to catch up with him. Not soon after the thought crossed our minds we received an unsolicited mix with a selection of tunes that can only be described as eclectic. Unsurprisingly, it did not include a tracklist, but for those diggers among us we’re sure that won’t be an issue. After a few back-and-forth emails, he mentioned that he pulled away from the hustle & bustle of life (aka the Internet) and isolated himself in a cabin for a while before returning to LA refreshed. With a clear head and new appreciation for the things around him he gave us a quick update on his musical trajectory.
When we last spoke you mentioned records you made for Uno and WNCL. Since then those have both been released. What was the feedback like on them? “Mixed nuts, some really interesting feedback from different camps. I got the green light from XLR8R to open a fantastically sloppy night club, so that’s cool. RA reviews “VAP” as hilariously quixotic, someone else mentioned that it’s de-sexualized, while other reports came in that you should listen to it whilst copping, rather than doing your homework. I could only hope for that kind of response. Any of the feedback, being positive or negative to me is positive, reminds me of an art crit – you just can’t be soft skinned about that stuff, you can always take away something positive.
RE: the last few records, I suppose they are alternative in sound. I look at it like an unpredictable trail, you might see a bulbous plant out there, or better yet, what if you came up on a blown out Chevy Lumina exo-shell wiped out from years ago, or mis-calculate a step and wind up taking a fierce shoulder roll. You would remember that, I guess.”
You’ve had a relatively quiet start to the year, what have you been working on? *Dialing in the omelet flip — ten times out of ten* “I just did a remix for Eshone for the Futra Label here in LA. He is a true bad man producer, I had a blast working on this project, top gun working with friends. Preview listen here.”
In our email exchange you mentioned isolating yourself. Can you elaborate and how has that affected your writing process? “In about ten to fifteen years from now people will be begging to be disconnected. Figure I’d give it a jump start. I haven’t been able to write much though, just incase my mom reads this, I don’t want her to worry – so ill say I have been living with a stocked fridge, hot water, insurance, and wheels. Having time to think with no distractions does wonders on your psyche, but makes it extremely difficult to produce anything, mainly because with limited resources, the day in it’s self knocks you flat out with survival basics. It’s been a great experiment – now I am out of that pinch ready to start wrestling with this VP-9000 Jason dropped off on me.”
The mix you’ve recorded for us is entitled “Cosmic Experience”, can you tell us a bit about the mix and idea behind it? “It was an exceptionally nice day out, wanted to share a few sounds.”
Download: Don Froth’s Cosmic Experience
Words by Jonathon Alcindor, 13 September 2013. Leave a comment
Seattle-based Hush Hush Records recently released the third full length from duo Cock & Swan “Secret Angles” and they’re currently prepping a collection of remixes from the album, a couple of which we’re excited to premiere here on Truants. Cock & Swan is the product of a 10 year relationship between musicians Johnny Goss and Ola Hungerford, with a Tascam 4-track in a “white brick bunker by the Slough.” “Secret Angles” marks a significant step forward for the duo’s dark, intricate focus on vocal-laced pop and if you ask us, it fits in nicely alongside the beach-faded pop of Tycho. The first remix we’re debuting comes from Truancy Volume 61 contributor Kid Smpl, who warps Cock & Swan vocalist Hungerford into a church choir drowned in reverb and pairs it with trademark subtle percussion on his “Following” remix. For the second, relative newcomer (but someone we’ve definitely had our eyes/ears on for a while) Korma uses his knack for uptempo beats to meld acoustic analog cut “Melt Down” into something you could dance to, much like what Midland did to that Boards of Canada track a while back. It’s definitely a slow builder though, so don’t expect something right from the get go. Check out a stream of the tracks below. Though Cock & Swan’s album is available for a name-your-price download here, Hush Hush is starting a month-long Kickstarter campaign to have it pressed to vinyl. If you feel so inclined, head over here and donate. We suggest you do.
Words by Tim Willis, 12 September 2013. Leave a comment
Shawn O’Sullivan is one of the more opinionated people in electronic music. On top of that, he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of little known or recognized strains of music. During our conversation, he referenced his angst filled teenage years and the various types of music that accompanied it; that explains why his music tends to veer toward brooding, borderline thunderous, techno. From gabber to industrial, his taste for sonically destructive forms of music balances his cool composure. Under a variety of alias including Vapauteen, Civil Duty (in conjunction with Beau Wanzer), Further Reductions (with Katie Rose), and his band Led Er Est, he keeps himself more than busy. What’s next for him isn’t entirely clear, but he’s in no way slowing down, musically. His most recent work comes via Anthony Parasole’s fledging imprint, The Corner and New York Staple L.I.E.S. (under Vapauteen.) With numerous collaborations and a few records on the hush hush, we can expect to see his name (or variations of it) crop up more frequently. Below, is an excerpt from our chat. He’s also dusted off a few records and contributed the 79th installment in our Truancy Volume series.
Can you talk a bit about your background? “Keeping the story short, I grew up mostly in the Midwest, Farefield, Iowa. It’s the transcendental meditation town. I started DJing when I was 16. I was an eccentric youth and naturally gravitated toward eccentric and extreme music, so I was into noise, gabber, early industrial, breakcore, and hard acid – basically the most extreme electronic music I could find. That was really what I cut my teeth on – playing noise records to teenagers at the local youth center and terrorizing them until they kicked me off the turntables. I went to Bard College upstate and gradually got into italo, electro, post-punk, wave stuff. I DJ’ed that all throughout college and drank myself stupid; I had been DJing regularly at a bar. Eventually I drank myself out of college and wound up in New York. I met Will Burnett, Ron (Morelli), and all those people at some point over the last decade. Started going to the Wierd party in the mid ‘00s. That was a game changer for me. It was the first time in New York that I had encountered something that felt so new and interesting.”
Being from the Midwest, where did you buy all of these records? “I would go up to Iowa City. There was a record store called Record Collector that I pestered them into stocking some of the records I was looking for. The Midwest in the ‘90s had a really good culture for hardcore techno with the Drop Bass Network scene. All that stuff was just around. I’d order from mail orders and when I went to other cities I would check it out. Going to Strange Records, which used to be in New York, and Sonic Groove.”
What made you want to start making music? “I had always made music since I was a teenager. In college, using a laptop and Max/MSP was it. If you were seriously into electronic music you devoted yourself to the laptop. That was the absolute cutting edge. It took me a long time to realize I didn’t work well on a screen. The big developments for me were: meeting Sam, who I started Led Er Est with, and seeing Sean McBride, Martial Canterel play. Sean put into perspective the possibility of truly live electronic music. That was one of the big things that got me excited about making music again.”
The music of Further Reductions and Led Er Est are sort of in the pop realm, but still dark and has your signature on it. Are you into pop music at all? “With Further Reductions Katie and I met because we both DJ’ed and it has been a platform for us to play around with a slightly different set of influences. She definitely has more of a pop ear and ear for melody than I do. There’s a lot minimal synth and italo influences, some techno and early house influence. We’ve kept our parameters pretty broad. We have a record coming out at some point on Cititrax, the Minimal Wave sublabel. That stuff has some darker techno elements as well as early IDM.” When will that be released? “I have no idea. Katie needs to finish up some vocals on some of them. I don’t know what the schedule is like these days. Hopefully, it’ll be out by the fall.”
What’s the process like with you guys? “Vocals are always recorded afterward and sometimes Katie will overdub a synth part. Generally, it’s the same process – everything recorded pretty much all at once. When you work with other people it’s hard to be as purist. Streamlining your methodology allows you to work a lot faster and that for me is the real key to it. When that methodology becomes a hurdle itself then you have to rethink it. When you’re working with other people it may be hard to get the right take and if you’re recording a song 14 times before the right take then that starts being a hassle.”
When did your Civil Duty project with Beau Wanzer form and what are some of the goals with it? “Beau and I met a long time ago. He would come to New York to come to the Wierd Party and whatever shows. We talked about making music for a while and then we actually got around to it. He works in more or less the same way that I do, which is working as immediately as possible. We speak a similar language in a musical environment. Collaboration with Beau has been very easy and fruitful. We recorded a bunch last fall and that was one of the tracks on The Corner record. We recorded more when I was out in Chicago doing a few Further Reductions gigs with Katie.”
Is there going to be another record with The Corner? “I think we’ll have another 12-inch out next year on The Corner. We need to organize those tracks. Anthony [Parasole] wants to do another Civil Duty record; it’ll just be a 3 or 4 track 12-inch. I’ll also be doing another solo record for The Corner.”
Can you tell us a little bit about your Truancy Volume? “I was going to do a mix of just hard ‘90s techno and acid, Downwards, PCP stuff. I pulled records out to do this. Then I put them aside somewhere and when I went to pick out records again I picked a bunch of contemporary stuff. So there’s a mix of contemporary techno and older stuff. It did come out a little weirder than I expected – it’s pretty scattered and abrasive of course.” It’s a really rugged mix. “There’s a lot of great techno going on these days. That’s one of the reasons I got back into doing proper dance floor stuff. Techno’s in a better space than it’s been for years. Arguably, it’s even better now than during certain periods in the ‘90s.”
Who are some of the artists you rate highly? “Ancient Methods were really the first that I heard who pricked my ears up. I had stopped listening to dance music for years. Everywhere had gotten bad. In the mid to late ‘00s the only interesting things to me were some of Jamal Moss’s music, some of the Dutch stuff – Legowelt, Bunker Records. There was a lot of productive experimentation going on. Anyway, my friend Evan burned me a CD in 2010 with some Traversable Wormhole, Ancient Methods, some Sandwell, and some other contemporary stuff I had slept on. Hearing Ancient Methods was thrilling. For me it evoked the best of the Downwards and British Murder Boys stuff as well as some rhythmic noise and even a little bit of PCP Records. As far as other new stuff, I like most of the stuff on Avian and Perc Trax, Sonic Groove, Milton Bradley’s Acid Rain stuff, there’s lots of good stuff these days really.
Finally, what’s your drink of choice? “Tito’s Vodka.”
Words by Jonathon Alcindor, 11 September 2013. 1 comment
With the gothic pop of WIFE’s “Stoic” EP and Saa’s self-titled EP, one could be forgiven for thinking that left_blank was moving away from the more dancefloor-oriented styles it promoted with its first releases in 2011. One Circle’s “Flight To Forever”, the label’s eighth release, reverses that trend. The EP comes from a triumvirate of Italian producers, Lorenzo Senni, Vaghe Stelle and A:RA, and combines a range of pulsating styles across its six tracks. Oscillating bleeps and swooning synths lead the way on the title track, a sense of lift-off prevailing throughout. Jerking screeches hint at a primitive craft struggling to make it off the ground – the feeling of different types of machinery is one that appears again and again on this EP. A lengthy track, this one seems initially to be lost in the throes of a never-ending series of awkward, triplets that seem stunted and never quite fully play out. Mechanical instruments gurgling in the background add to the sense of anticipation, until this tension is relieved with the arrival of a solid beat, nearly four minutes in. “Delta City”, meanwhile, opens with the sound of a steam engine powering along, with syncopated beats that don’t quite fit standard 4/4 patterns lending the track a disconcerting air, and that’s before the haunting riff that plays like the invasion of an army of robots. Slightly off-pitch droning adds further menace. This is challenging, unsettling listening.
Stream: One Circle – Flight To Forever (left_blank)
A deep, pitched-down vocal groans “Please” on the next track, as a hazy, trance-like wash sits over slow claps and otherworldly sirens hover overhead. It’s the brightest moment on the release, which gives a sense of the sombre atmosphere. “Wipeout” recalls 90s videogames in more than name alone, opening with sounds that recall “Food and Revolutionary Art”-era Carl Craig. That’s until African rhythms kick in and take the jam into space. It’s a proto-trance anthem, skiffling beats and epic synth washes soundtracking your astronautical racing league. The beautifully haunting “3D Immersive” closes the EP proper, with synth riffs that cry with painful yearning over a scuzzy drone that sounds like the rain that’s captured in the appropriately enigmatic video that was released last week. For digital purchasers, however, there’s an additional number that shows an all together different side to the trio. “Kadikoi Terrace” is a tongue-in-cheek refrain, with agonisingly infectious percussion and a bright, spacious chorus section that uses – shockingly – major chords. All the while the droning hum of a flight taking off undercuts this joyous mood, suggesting in a sense the titular journey setting off or coming to a close. You can be the judge. It’s very easy to put out a release with six entirely different tracks for the sake of eclecticism, and it’s just as easy for such a release to suffer on account of its lack of focus or direction. That is far from the case with Flight To Forever. left_blank continues to grow as a label, fostering new talent or providing a space for artists to follow new ventures. One Circle have proven a worthy addition to the label. In an interview with Dazed Digital, which accompanies a beautifully rendered mix, they say they plan to work together again soon, so we await such labours with great fervour.
One Circle – Flight To Forever is out now on left_blank. Buy here.
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 10 September 2013. Leave a comment
Promising young Westside rapper ZMoney belongs to a generation of Chicagoans, raised on dudes like Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane, who have mutated swagged-out ATL hip-hop into their own uniquely midwestern strain with its unique marble-mouth flows and roughly pretty autotune hooks. Although his music might sound at home alongside Southside drill rappers, ZMoney is more insolent than misanthropic, more of a rude hornball than a gritty trap rapper. His massive ego and juvenile sense of humor command attention and set him apart from his peers.
ZMoney dropped his first two mixtapes, Heroin Musik and Rich B4 Rap, on the same day earlier this summer. Both tapes are hosted by DJ Hustlenomics and feature a variety of local producers serving up skittery beats that leave plenty of space for the rapper’s big personality. Raised in the wealthy suburb of Olympia Fields, ZMoney came up in North Austin, where he dropped out of high school after his dad was locked up. “My old man was rich as shit,” he brags on “Born In This Shit“, and across both mixtapes, ZMoney presents himself as a someone who grew up around luxury and expects to maintain that lifestyle into adulthood. Getting paid isn’t his goal, it’s his reality. “Don’t you wish you could just wake up and buy everything?” he listlessly drawls on his strongest single “Everything,” as if nothing less could satisfy him. It’s the kind of question only an ambitious rich kid would pose. Materialism is his most consistent theme; most of ZMoney’s songs are about how no one has as much money as he does.
If ZMoney lacks the “hunger” often valued in young, unknown rappers, he also never sounds like he’s rapping because he needs to be, but because he wants to. He just seems to enjoy the activity of rapping, which might be why he sounds so effortless when he delivers puerile zings like “no love for thots, they smell like cocks.” His raps are genuinely fun to listen to, jam-packed with funny hooks that beg to be blasted out of car windows and memed to death on twitter. His weirdo delivery style alternates between mush-mouthed incoherence and nasty, biting punchlines. At times he is deadpan, but often he veers into the hyperemotional whining tones, like a more immature Rich Homie Quan. He manages to find seemingly endless ways to rap about getting paper. He names it (“Ben Franklin”), brags about it (“Flexin”), humble brags about it (“Problem,” “Want My Money”), and makes fun of you for not having it (“Lacking,” “Regular”).
It was a risky move for ZMoney to release his first two mixtapes on the same day. Both tapes are relatively long, creating a relatively inaccessible body of work for new listeners to contend with. Fortunately for ZMoney, his music is so immediate, so hooky and fun, and his mixtapes have far more hits than misses. The large volume of music feels like a gift, not like homework. It’s even more impressive given that ZMoney has only been rapping for a year. His rhyme skills might still improve, but he already has the raw talent and personality to become a breakout star. Afterall, it is ZMoney’s charisma and pop sensibilities that carry what could be a tedious amount of music. Instead, we get two hours of nasty jokes, catchphrase hooks, autotune weirdness and a whole lot of new ways to talk about money.