Tag: BRAIDS

I just spent the past four days and five nights in Montreal covering the 14th annual M for Montreal Festival. And while walking and taking public transpiration from the gorgeous Hotel Monville in Downtown Montreal to the various networking events, happy hours and showcases I listened to a bit of music — some things a bit more obsessively than others. Check out this mostly Montreal-inspired playlist that features The Beat Escape, CorridorLeonard Cohen, Jef Barbara, BRAIDS and more. Check it out.

 

 

Interview: A Q&A with M for Montreal’s Program Director Mikey Rishwain Bernard

M for Montreal (French – M pour Montreal) is an annual music festival and conference, which takes place during four days in late November. Since its founding 14 years ago, the music festival and conference has rapidly expanded to feature over 100 local and international buzzworthy and breakout bands in showcases across 15 of Montreal’s top venues.

300 music industry movers and shakers, heavyweights and tastemakers from over 20 different countries make the trek to Montreal to seek out new, emerging artists and new business opportunities – while hopefully eating a ton of smoked meat sandwiches and poutine. I have the distinct pleasure and honor of being one of those music industry folks, who will be in Montreal tomorrow. As you can imagine, I’m looking very forward to poutine and smoked meat sandwiches, as well as a wildly eclectic array of music that includes the rapidly rising hometown-based Francophone indie rock act Corridor; acclaimed London, Ontario-based DIY rock collective WHOOP-Szo; British Columbia-based psych folk act Loving; hometown-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Ada Lea; hometown-based shoegazers Bodywash; Vancouver-based dance punk act NOV3L; Cameroonian-French pop artist Blick Bassy; and New York-based dance punk act Operator Music Band;  as well as a showcase featuring Icelandic artists and a two showcases featuring locally-based and Canadian-based hip-hop among a lengthy list of others.

Before heading out to Montreal, I chatted with the festival’s program director Mikey Rishwain Bernard about a wide range of topics including Montreal and Montreal’s music scene, what music fans, music industry professionals and journalists should expect from the city and the festival and more. Check it out below.

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WRH: While JOVM does have readers in Canada, most of my readers are based in the United States. Can you tell me and my readers a couple of things about Montreal and its music scene that we probably wouldn’t know but should know?

Mikey Rishwain Bernard: Most people will identify Montreal with Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and that’s cool as shit. After that Arcade Fire movement, it felt like many creative Canadian musicians started flocking to Montreal for the cheap schools, cheap rent, vast music scene and live venues. All that hype brought a new generation of artists like Grimes, Mac DeMarco, BRAIDS and more. All this to say is that Montreal is one heck of a place for creative space, freedom and affordable rent. Aside all that, there’s an entire francophone music scene that’s considered mainstream and not to forget the top shelf beatmakers and producers, most notably Kaytranada, Kid Koala, and A-Trak. There’s a lot of government funding dedicated in arts and culture and that’s a huge factor.

WRH: This is the 14th edition of M for Montreal. What was the inspiration behind its creation?

MRB: First and foremost, M was created on a whim. It was set up as a showcase to introduce 6 Montreal bands to 12 festival buyers and media from the UK, who happened to be in Montreal, while on their way to NY for CMJ. It helped artists like Patrick Watson and The Besnard Lakes get some action. In short, M is a networking platform for Canadian artists and industry to mingle with international tastemakers. We now recruit over 100 international delegates from 15 different countries to attend in hopes to export these acts into their respective markets. Another inspiration behind M is Martin Elbourne.  He’s our co-founder. A legendary British programmer who books for Glastonbury and co-founded The Great Escape festival in Brighton. He also worked with The Smiths and New Order, and has always had been involved with new wave’s in the making. He saw Montreal as a “sexy city” and wanted to contribute to this festival to help bring Montreal acts to Europe. Since then, M for Montreal has grown into not only a platform for Canadians, but we also make a little room for international acts.

 WRH: What does a program director of a festival do? 

MRB: I curate the music and conference. Lots of listening, making offers, negotiating and waiting. On repeat.

WRH: In your mind, what makes a successful festival? 

MRB: Aside from the talent, it’s the experience. The people you meet and the memories you make. I sound like Hallmark card, eh?

WRH: This is my first time in Montreal – and it’s my first time covering the M for Montreal festival. Besides the cold weather and maybe a little snow, what should I expect as a journalist? What would other music industry professionals expect from the festival?

MRB: You’re gonna feel welcome and our locals treat our guests/delegates with a lot of respect. Quebecers are very welcoming and charming, and they’ll all share their opinions on where to go, who to meet and what to eat. Everyone is going to ask you to try poutine. Just do it, once or twice. Try it sober at least once if you get the chance. Aside from that, don’t be surprised if some women kiss you on both face cheeks.

WRH: As a music fan, why should I check out Montreal? Why M for Montreal?

MRB: Like previously mentioned, the rich music history. It’s always good to see where Leonard Cohen slept & where Win Butler got his coffee, but it’s also a privilege to discover and experience the culture and new music cooking in French Canada.

WRH: I was doing some research and checking out the artists playing this year’s festival. Admittedly, I was very impressed – the bill manages to be very local centric but while being an eclectic and diverse sampling of a number of different styles and genres. There’s also a fair number of Canadian acts from other provinces, at least one American band and so on. How much work went into that? And how do you and the other organizers choose the artists on the bill?

MRB: It’s a mixture of things. We work with a lot of new kids on the block, Canadian export partners and local industry. We book bands and work with people who wanna play ball. Not for the money, but for a chance to play for some interesting people from all over the world. So, like the programming, it’s all over the place.

WRH: So once the festival ends on Saturday night, what happens next for you and the rest of the team?

MRB: The team will close out the festival and close the 2019 file. The week after M, I’m attending a conference in Saskatoon called Very Prairie… From there, I go directly into hibernation, back home, in Stockton/Lodi California (home of Pavement and Chris Isaak). I will start the new year booking another festival taking place in May called Santa Teresa. And the beat goes on.

While in Montreal, I’ll be busy with my social media accounts, live tweeting and Instagramming as much as I can. Keep on the lookout here:

Twitter: @yankee32879 @williamhelms3rd

Instagram: william_ruben_helms

 

For more information on the festival, check out their homepage: https://mpourmontreal.com/en/

 

 

New Video: Majical Cloudz Former Frontman Devon Welsh Releases a Meditative and Brooding Visuals for “By the Daylight”

Devon Welsh is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter and artist, who released two critically acclaimed full-length albums as the frontman of Majical Cloudz, an electronic duo whose brooding and intense music combined elements of poetry, hardcore, folk and minimalist electronica among others. The project ended in 2016 largely because its members felt it had fulfilled its intentions.”The band has come to a very natural conclusion, as it has communicated everything it was meant to and reached more people than we would have ever imagined,” Welsh said at the time.

Following the breakup of Majical Cloudz, Welsh stepped away from music for a year. “I wrote songs but didn’t think about their purpose or anything at all to do with the music industry or if I would be releasing music in the future,” he said about that time. “I just tried to grow as a person and do some learning.” Interestingly, the songs he wrote during that period would eventually comprise much of the material on his solo, full-length debut, Dream Songs. Slated for an August 24, 2018 release through You Are Accepted Records, the album finds Welsh stepping out and away from the strict aesthetic he had worked in with Majical Cloudz but while continuing and expanding upon some of the core themes an ideas which that project was best known for — and as a result, the material thematically is a series of reflections on time and its passing, separation, the complexities of love, free will, life’s endless cycles and so on.

Produced and recorded by BRAIDS’ Austin Tufts with the intention of making an album that maintained the simplicity and minimalism of Welsh’s previous work while exploring the possibilities of more traditional arrangements — guitar, piano, strings — the album presents the Montreal-based singer/songwriter and artist’s songs in a more organic context. As the story goes, Tufts and Welsh essentially rebuilt the recordings from the ground up, working out kinks in demos, imagining different arrangements and re-recorded everything. The simple string arrangements Devon’s demos possessed were transformed and became the sonic and emotional center of the entire album. “I love songs with strings,” Welsh says in press notes, “so making recordings with beautiful string arrangements is a dream come true.

Dream Songs’ first single “By The Daylight” is chronologically one of the oldest songs on the album — and as Welsh explains, it began with a very different arrangement than the recorded version. “It was originally made mostly with synthesizers and had saxophone on it, and then when Austin and I started re-recording the demos it got transformed into something built almost entirely around strings,” Welsh says in press notes, “the new arrangement opened a lot of mental possibilities for what the record as a whole could be.” Thematically, the song has a fatalistic view of life — that there are larger, deterministic forces at play in our lives, and as a result, we’re frequently caught up and swept away in a tide that we don’t (and can’t) really understand. It’s a mature and meditative song with a deep and aching yearning at its core. 

Directed by Christopher Honeywell, the recently released video features footage of nature,  some shot on old, Super 8 film — and in a subtle way, the video conveys passing of time and the sense of larger, natural forces at play.

With the release of “Superego,” which received nearly 3 million streams on Spotify, the Vienna, Austria-based indie electro pop duo Leyya, quickly emerged into both the national and international scenes. Adding to a growing profile, the duo comprised of Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer played sets across the European Union’s festival circuit. including The Great EscapeLiverpool Sound CityTallinn Music WeekPrimavera SoundReeperbahn FestivalIceland Airwaves and a headlining set at Popfest. Along with that the duo have received airplay on Huw Stephens‘ and Phil Taggart‘s BBC Radio 1 shows and Lauren Laverne‘s BBC Radio 6 show, been playlisted on Germany’s Radio 1, as well as praise from Pigeons and PlanesWonderland MagazineClash MagazineKonbiniThe 405 and Consequence of Sound among others.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you’d know that the duo’s sophomore effort Sauna was released earlier this year, and from album single “Drumsolo,” the duo further cemented a growing reputation for crafting ambient and moody electro pop while expanding upon their sound with elements of hip-hop, R&B and jazz in a way that reminded me of Flourish//Perish-era BRAIDS and Clearing-era Softspot but with a coquettish and swaggering self-assuredness. Interestingly, “Wannabe,” is a standalone single, released as a follow up to their critically applauded sophomore effort and the track is a breezy and summery track that finds the duo’s sound nodding at JOVM mainstays Sylvan Esso, as Lindinger’s coquettish and ethereal vocals float over a slick production consisting of layers of stuttering and staccato beats, bubbling synths, gently swirling electronics and an anthemic hook. Lyrically, the song manages to walk a tightrope between spirited animation and deep introspection, which gives the danceable song a palpable yet subtle emotional heft.

As the duo says of the single, “After releasing our second album Sauna we tried to avoid the post-release-down with being creative and writing new music straight away. The song is circling around a problem almost everyone can relate to: Wanting to be like somebody else. Ironically – we find – its often also the other way around.“

 

 

 

 

New Video: Married, Art Pop Duo, The Parlor Releases a Thoughtful Meditation on Grief

With the release of their critically applauded sophomore album Wahzu Wahzu, the Altamont, NY-based art pop duo The Parlor, comprised of multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, production and husband and wife team of Jen O’Connor and Eric Krans further cemented a growing reputation for a fearless willingness to explore a variety of sound palettes and styles while crafting intimate and thoughtful pop music; in fact, the Altamont, NY-based duo have progressed from indie folk to stomp and clap trance folk to “campfire disco” as Pitchfork described Wahzu Wahzu.

Slated for an April 13, 2018 the Altamont, NY-based art pop duo’s forthcoming, third full-length effort Kiku derives its name for the Japanese word for chrysanthemum. According to O’Connor and Krans, chrysanthemum began blooming in their farmhouse garden immediately following their second miscarriage, and for the couple, the flower became a symbol of their grief, despair, resilience and faith. Sonically speaking, the album represents a continued evolution of their overall sound, as Kiku is the duo’s first foray into trigged samples and orchestral synth soundscaping. “Kiku grew into something we never anticipated,” the couple admits in press notes. As they were grieving, they turned to their art and began writing and recording material inspired by what they were feeling and thinking, as the couple says they felt themselves “reaching out across the plane of the living and the dead, where we stumbled upon the tiny hand of the soul we lost. We brought a pice of her, of Kiku, back with us.”

Understandably, the material on Kiku sounds gloomier and more anxious than their previously released work while reportedly balancing a playful and relaxed air at points that suggests that while profoundly serious, the album can be coquettish, sexy and earnest; in some way, the album is meant to be the inner world of a couple, who keep trying over and over again — perhaps, because as cheesy as it may sound to some, they have each other.

Kiku’s first single, album opener “Soon” draws from dream pop, contemporary electro pop, movie soundtracks, jazz and experimental pop in a heady and swooning mix — and while to my ears, bringing to mind the work of Moonbabies, Beacon, Softspot, Mazzy Star and Flourish//Perish-era BRAIDS, the members of The Parlor manage to specialize in incredibly slick and lush production featuring soaring hooks paired with fearlessly heartfelt lyrics and sentiment. Yes, it’s meant to break your heart time and time again, but with a deeper purpose — to remind the listener of their empathy. Grief is grief is grief. We all know this and we all experience it at various points in our lives, and we try to move froward; that is what people do after all.

As O’Connor and Krans explain in press notes, “‘Soon’ was intended as a metaphor for the stages of grief. The chrysanthemums represent grief itself. We carry grief around with us, often to unlikely places. We try at times to let it go, to fling our grief from great heights or hope it’s carried off by time — an offering to the flowing waters of the hills. But ultimately we find ourselves steeping in it, drowning in it, and ideally cleansed by it in a baptism of intentional release. Allowing ourselves to stop fighting forces us to experience things that, as humans, we often try desperately to avoid. Allowing ourselves to dance in glowing sunlight empowers us to reclaim our spirit. And we are transported to a deeper place of understanding of one’s self and of the human experience as we know it. ‘Soon’ is an expression of painful hope and illuminated heart.”

The duo directed, shot and edited the video for “Soon” and naturally, the video prominently features chrysanthemums throughout — sometimes the husband and wife duo proudly and defiantly carrying them about, at other points, the flowers are being offered to the proverbial flowing waters of time or treated as a sort of sacrifice; but no matter what the flowers and their grief is inescapable — until they accept it.

With the release of their debut single Spanish Disco, the Vienna, Austria-based indie electro pop duo Leyya, comprised of Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer quickly received both national and international attention, thanks to the success of viral hit single “Superego,” which received nearly 3 million streams on Spotify. Adding to a growing profile, the duo played some of the European Union’s biggest music festivals including The Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City, Tallinn Music Week, Primavera Sound, Reeperbahn Festival, Iceland Airwaves and a headlining set at Popfest. Along with that the duo have received airplay on Huw Stephens‘ and Phil Taggart‘s BBC Radio 1 shows and Lauren Laverne‘s BBC Radio 6 show, been playlisted on Germany’s Radio 1, as well as praise from Pigeons and PlanesWonderland MagazineClash Magazine, Konbini, The 405 and Consequence of Sound among others.

The duo’s highly anticipated sophomore effort Sauna is slated for a January 26, 2018 release, and the album’s latest single “Drumsolo” will further cement their reputation for crafting ambient and moody electro pop but while revealing that the duo have expanded their sound quite a bit, as the song finds the duo with a subtly layered sound nodding at hip-hop, R&B and jazz in a way that reminds me of BRAIDS and Softspot but with a coquettish and swaggering self-assuredness.

“‘Drumsolo’ is one of our favourite tracks of the new album, ” the duo told NOISEY. “On the one hand, it’s very complex (at one point, it doesn’t even make sense ‘music theoretically’). But, on the other hand, the melody is very catchy, so you don’t notice its quirkiness; that’s what we always wanted our tracks to be like: different layers to discover depending on the listener’s mood.”

 

 

New Video: The Dark and Surreal Visuals for Vaarwell’s “You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOl-f7-BhDA%5D

Comprised of Margarida Falcão, Ricardo Nagy and Luís Monteiro, the Lisbon, Portugal-based indie pop trio Vaarwell, derives their name from the Dutch word vaarwel, which translates into English as farewell — and since their formation back in 2014, when the members of the band met at a music production class, the up-and-coming trio have received attention in their native Portugal and internationally with the release of their debut EP Love and Forgiveness, which revealed a sound that paired ethereal and delicate melodies with minimalist instrumentation and production. Adding to a growing profile, the trio had been included in 2015’s FNAC Best New Talent Compilation, named Tradiio’s “Artist of the Week,” played at the renowned Portuguese music festival NOS em D’Bandada and more recently commissioned by French designer Philippe Starck to write and record a track for his exhibition at the Groninger Museum during this year’s Eurosonic Nooderslag Festival.

“You,” the achingly melancholy and gorgeous, first single off the Portuguese trio’s forthcoming full-length debut Homebound 456 will further cement their reputation for pairing Falçao’s tender and ethereal melodies with a minimalist production featuring warm and soulful keys with subtle industrial clatter, fluttering electronics and shimmering guitar. And while sonically speaking, the song reminds me of Flourish//Perish-era BRAIDS, the song has a narrator who spends a significant portion of the song self-flagellating herself for getting herself fooled by someone she shouldn’t have, who has hurt her in an egregious fashion — and as a result, the song possesses a visceral sense of confusion, bitter heartbreak and desperate searching.

Featuring production work from the Playground Production Company, the accompanying video further emphasizes the brooding contemplative feel of the song, as the video has the trio sitting in a deserted, late night parking lot while a human-sized teddy bear stalks and stomps around nearby. And as the band’s frontwoman is seemingly focusing on some past event or situation and caught within her own revelry, the teddy bear stomps around — without anyone treating it as out of the ordinary; in fact, even the bandmembers quickly treat it as a feverish figment of the imagination.

New Video: The Hauntingly Gorgeous Visuals and Sounds of Benjamin’s Brother’s “Room 505”

Benjamin’s Brother is a fairly mysterious British electro folk/electro pop act comprised of a producer and songwriter, who writes and records under the moniker of Benjamin’s Brother and a rotating cast of collaborators and friends who pair haunting and ambient productions with songs that lyrically focus on death, desire and pain, among other subjects. The act’s latest single “Room 505” is an eerily sparse production featuring contemplative piano chords, plaintive, falsetto vocals, stuttering drum programming and brief burst of mournful horns. Sonically, the song reminds me of BRAIDS’ impressive Flourish//Perish but with an aching yearning at its core.

The recently released video features a dancer performing in sparsely arranged room with her doppleganger — but is it all an delusional within her head? Interestingly, the video manages to suggest the internal struggle between our real, internal self and the self we project out toward the world.