Posts Tagged ‘philthy mag’

High Violets at Philthy Mag

Although they may not quite be a household name, Portland, Oregon’s The High Violets have been kicking out wonderfully lush and fuzzy dream pop and shoegaze jams since the late ‘90s, and this Friday, April 1st, will see the release of their fifth full-length, Heroes and Halos, courtesy of Saint Marie Records.  The album would seem to be their most accomplished yet and in a recent chat with The High Violets’ mainpeople/songwriters Clint Sargent and Kaitlyn ni Donovan the two tell me that the album is essentially the culmination of both all the processes and sounds they’ve worked with over the years.

Izzy Cihak: I’m just realizing that you’ve been together for almost 20 years now, which is sort of insane:  What have been some of the biggest highlights of the band over the past two decades, whether it be experiences, reactions to your work, or anything else that really stood out to you?

Clint Sargent: There have definitely been some good highlights, but I would say the overall reaction to our work has been the most satisfying. With fans continuously reaching out and letting us know they appreciate what we do. That, as much as anything, keeps you going.

Izzy: What do you think is the biggest difference between the mindset of the band now, compared to when you first got together?

Clint: In the beginning we viewed the band as a solid collective. We had regular rehearsal nights in Luke’s basement and considered everyone involved with the song writing. As time went on and people came and went and came back it became clear that Kaitlyn and I were composing the majority of the music. And this was certainly the case on Heroes. So this is our mindset currently.

Izzy: How is Portland’s music and arts scene at the moment?  There always seems to be tons of really cool and really diverse things going on there.

Clint: In years past it has been the case for sure, but honestly at the moment I wonder myself. We barely got this album done before I could no longer afford my rent. The last few years have seen so much change with people moving there and the cost of living going up. Many artists have moved out to the suburbs or are crowding into houses. Anyway, it’s a good question. The scene will always live on in some capacity.

Izzy: You’re about to release Heroes and Halos.  How do you feel it compares to previous releases?

Kaitlyn ni Donovan: I feel Heroes echoes the maturing between our beginnings in traditional shoegaze and our last release, Cínema. Cinema leaned more into straight dream pop. Heroes… seems to bridge the two. If you listen to the first side of the LP, you may noticed a distinctly dream pop feel, while the second side lends a darker tone with our shoegaze background.

Izzy: What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences, both musical and otherwise?

Kaitlyn: I try my best not to be influenced by other’s music when I write, but rather images that arise as if in a dream, fictional story, or film whilst, forming the first melodic foundations of a song. To me it keeps the music pure and not overly influenced by trends or other’s muses.

Izzy: I especially dig “Longitude,” which just reminds me of so much of the mid-90s’ best alt rock, so I’m curious how that particular track came about.

Kaitlyn: “Longitude” came into fruition at a lightning pace, though I was disabled with a back injury and unable to play any instruments. Consequently, for the first time in my musical career, while laid up on a couch, I turned to composing with a drum machine and sang the vocal melody in one pass that you hear on the album. It all very happily stuck. The lyrics came later, (not so quickly) which are from the perspective of a bee, but also reflect the feelings of one in a manic phase of bipolar disorder. In the final fleshing out we included analogue drums, synthesizers, and Clint’s gorgeous guitar.

Izzy: Finally, what are you planning and hoping for in 2016?  Any chance we might get to see you on the road in the near future?

Clint: We’ve put the album out and we’ll see what comes down the pike? What might be? It’s been so long since we played live. No plans at this time. Perhaps at some point we can dust off the hiatus?


Witching Waves at Philthy Mag

Sometimes it’s nice when a band turn out to be exactly what their name promises.  Such is the case for London trio Witching Waves, whose sophomore LP, Crystal Café, is set to drop on February 26th on LP, cassette, and digital download, via HHBTM Records.  The songs of Crystal Café tend to find themselves on the dark and chaotic side of garage rock, but also prove to be some of the most aggressively and abrasively anthemic Rock’N’Roll songs of recent history.  It’s music you can’t help but getting excited to fuck shit up to.  Although the band doesn’t have a huge presence in the states just yet, they’re definitely one of the bands most worth knowing in 2016, especially if you’ve recently been revisiting the soundtrack of your ‘90s teen angst (which many seem to be doing). Witching Waves’ Emma Wigham and Mark Jasper took some time this past week to tell me about their history, their process, and their inspirations.

Izzy Cihak: First of all, I love that you’ve been putting your music out on cassettes, which is my favorite way to listen to music.  I’m curious, do you have a particular fondness for the format, or was that just something suggested by the label?

Emma Wigham: Well, we definitely do like the cassette format for a few reasons. I think the revival of tapes has been a really good thing for bands. It’s much cheaper to do a short run of tapes than it is to do vinyl and there’s usually a quick turnaround too. This means it’s much more accessible and you can do it yourself which is really important. You still end up with a physical object and I think there’s something quite aesthetically pleasing about cassettes, there’s a lot you can do with the format. We’ve done some tapes with other labels and have also put out a couple of tapes ourselves.

Mark Jasper: I feel like it’s easier to take risks with tapes, like you putting things on vinyl feels a bit more sacred or something.

Izzy: Despite your achievements on the other side of the pond, I have to admit that there’s not a lot known about you over here in the states (although maybe you kind of like that).  Is there anything you think is important for fans and potential fans over here to know about your process of writing and recording, or just your aim as artists… or is it all in the music?

Emma: I guess I hope that our music will give people a good sense of what we’re about, although I do think the way we do things is important too. We’ve been together almost three years and we started recording ourselves early on, we’ve also toured a lot in the UK. Mark runs a recording studio close to where we live in Homerton, London and he has been responsible for all the recording and that place has been really central to us. Part of the reason this band started was because I wanted to learn to play the drums, so I feel like it’s been a constant process of doing things ourselves and pushing ourselves, whether that was writing new songs or booking another tour, we’ve kept very busy.

Mark: I guess for me, I hope the recording process is of interest to people because that’s a big thing for me, although at the same time, I guess I’d rather people just enjoyed it!

Izzy: Have you noticed any patterns in the kinds of people who most like or best “get” your music?

Emma: I’m not sure about patterns. I guess we tend to play at indie/DIY type gigs so that plays a part in it. I always hope that other women will like us as seeing women in bands has always been important to me.

Mark: I don’t know if I’ve noticed any patterns, I’m just glad people like it really.

Izzy: So I always hate to confront bands with such specific comparisons, but has anyone ever compared you to Sleater-Kinney? You seem to have a very riff-heavy, post-riot grrrl, sonically-morose brand of punk that reminds me of Corin and Carrie. [Nevermind, I just Googled it and you have, haha.]  Is there anything to that?  Are you fans of the trio?  And, if so, do you have any particular favorite works of theirs?

Emma: Yes, we do like Sleater-Kinney! The Hot Rock and Dig Me Out are probably our favourite albums of theirs.

Mark: Yeah I like them, I don’t know if they are such a specific influence, but Dig Me Out has a great energy to it, and I really like the production!

Izzy: What have been some of the highlights of the band so far for you? You’ve already done a lot of cool things, despite still being a relatively new band.

Emma: I have felt really grateful for so many of the experiences I’ve had playing in this band. Just for my music to be on a vinyl record seems pretty amazing! Music was so crucial to me growing up but I didn’t start playing in bands until quite late on so, in a way, each cool thing that happens has been kind of beyond my expectations.

Mark: I think for me, touring with friends has been the biggest highlight. We’ve done tours with Rattle, As Ondas and, the now sadly defunct Shudder Pulps. I don’t think you could ask for more than hanging out with friends and getting to watch such great bands. I like the records coming out but by the time we finish them I always feel quite neurotic about them and have already started thinking about the next thing! I think the day Soft Power asked us to put something out was a big day for the band, we were really excited as they had put out so much stuff we’d liked: Aggi Doom, The Wharves, September Girls…

Izzy: What would you consider to be your most significant non-musical influences?  You seem to have a lot of really cool ones.

Emma: Outside of musical influences, we have been very influenced by our surroundings, where we live, and the development of the area as well as how it has been affected by national and local politics. I really like British kitchen sink films from the ’60s and I think some of that influence has come through in the past.  That sort of feeling of the mundane, routine life, but also what else is going on under the surface. We watch a lot of films and they definitely influence us. Mark and I watched Carol, the Todd Haynes film, recently and I thought that was really amazing. And I’m always interested in aesthetics and looking out for fonts and designs and colours.

Mark: I think Emma and I are definitely influenced by the sort of greater DIY community, and obviously a lot of great stuff comes out of that, that isn’t just music. I used to work in a cinema and I think films are a massive influence for me… I could list a million films here, but I think everyone should seeHigh and Low by Kurosawa, but that’s an old film.

Izzy: You’re about to release Crystal Café, your second album.  How do you feel it compares to your debut, whether in relation to sound, influence, or just how you came about constructing the songs?

Emma: The main difference is in how we approached it as an album. The first album was more of a collection of songs we had up to that point. With this album, we wanted it to make sense together as an album rather than as individual songs. It’s more cohesive and we were starting to feel a bit more confident about what we were doing. We also gave ourselves more freedom with the recording process.

Mark: Yeah, I think the idea was to create something that was more whole, I was really interested in the idea of sequencing and how that would work. We took a lot more risks this time around.

Izzy: I really love your videos for “Better Run” and “The Threat.”  What is it that inspires the visual elements of Witching Waves?

Emma: Both of these videos were made by our friend Moe Meade who is brilliant and always gets what we’re trying to do. “Better Run” was made on Super 8 and it was really influenced by the kitchen sink thing but with a b-movie/weird/sinister element too. It was really fun to do. The original inspiration for “The Threat” was the film Haxan. That was Moe’s idea, which I was really into.

Mark: I actually studied art, but it was a long time ago now! I think with the videos we just try to work with people we trust. I think I’m more influenced by film-makers than artists, in general. But having said that, I like to leave it to the people who are making the videos. I am definitely going to make a video myself at some point, I just need to figure out how to do it!!

Izzy: What are you most significantly hoping and planning for in 2016?  Any chance we might get to see you in the states sometime in the near future?

Emma: We are working on writing new songs at the moment which will hopefully form our next album. There should be some touring later in the year and, fingers crossed, a trip to the US.

Mark: As is our way, we’ve already written quite a few new songs since Crystal Café so we should have something out quite soon. The process of writing and recording seems to have lengthened out and I think I’d quite like to start recording more regularly. In the old days, we used to just write a song, and then the next week record it, I think I’d like to try that out again.


Static Daydream at Philthy Mag

Static Daydream are an enigma… no, really… there’s like no info available on them…anywhere… Pretty much the most the internet knows thus far is that the duo is comprised of partners (musical and otherwise) Paul Baker and Jamie Casey.  That and that they make hyper-fuzzy pop music reminiscent of both proto-and-post-punk, but with an extra heavy dose of what the shoegazers brought to the table.  Oh, and (I promise this is the last thing I could find on them.) their self-titled full-length debut drops this Friday, August 28th, on Saint Marie Records and Paul Baker recently took some time to fill me in on all the things I’d been wondering about Static Daydream.

Izzy: So this project is still pretty new, with your debut LP coming out next week. What was it that first made you want to embark on this project? And do you feel like it’s allowed you to do things that you couldn’t in previous bands?

Paul Baker: I decided to leave my previous group back in 2012, and even though I had a bit of music I’d been working on, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue. Working with Jamie Casey inspired me to keep working on things, and I decided to just go for it. Jake Reid was incredibly helpful, from helping me to use technology a bit more, to recording some vocals and guitar, to working with me on the mixing and mastering aspect of things.

I don’t think I’ve felt like I’m allowed to do anything I couldn’t have done before, though that’s a good question.  Maybe I’ve just taken some time and felt a breath of fresh air, so to speak, and enjoyed experimenting a little bit more.  It’s been both humbling and really rewarding to start Static Daydream from almost nowhere and feel good about what we’ve done, and to have gotten some really nice feedback from people out there.  Sometimes I can’t believe how nice the response has been.

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Presents for Sally at Philthy Mag

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