Tag: Grimes

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/

 

 

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New Video: Lunar Twin Releases a Brooding Late Night Visual for Trip Hop-like “Leaves”

Deriving their name from a scientific theory that suggests that Earth may have had a second moon, a twin moon that was destroyed in a massive collision during the earliest moments of our solar system, Lunar Twin, which is comprised of vocalist Bryce Boudreau and multi-instrumentalist and producer Chris Murphy can trace their origins back to 2011’s Denver Underground Music Festival when Boudreau joined Murphy’s goth band Nightsweats as a guest vocalist. And by 2013, the duo started collaborating together full-time.

With the release of their debut, 2014’s self-titled EP and 2017’s Night Tides EP, the duo which is currently split between Hawaii and Salt Lake City have developed a unique take on chill wave/dark wave that draws from and possesses elements of synth pop, shoegaze, dream pop and others. A couple of years have passed since I’ve written about Lunar Twin — and as it turns out, the duo’s Chris Murphy has been busy sharing the stages with a growing list of acclaimed and renowned artists including Grimes, Bonnie Prince Billy and Peaches through other projects he’s worked in. But the duo have also been working on their long-awaited third EP Ghost Moon Ritual, which is slated for a February 16, 2020 release through  the band’s own imprint, Tropical Depression/Desert Heat. 

Ghost Moon Ritual reportedly finds the duo expanding upon the sound that caught the attention of this site and elsewhere with some of the material nodding at psych folk and desert noir-themed late night moon music. The EP’s latest single, the moody and atmospheric “Leaves” is centered around Boudreau’s sonorous, Mark Lanegan-like baritone, layers of buzzing and shimmering synths and thumping beats. And while simultaneously nodding at trip hop and dream pop, the song evokes — for me, at least — a a specific late night loneliness I’ve known — wandering a new town, a new country on your own, as a stranger, a man from far away. 

Directed by San Francisco-based Zoey Nyguen, the recently released video is set in a raw, late night, neon cityscape — her neighborhood of Russian Hill. ” I wanted to embody the song with visuals from my within my neighborhood and local surroundings and to include basically a collage of clips from different time periods and eras of the City,” Nyguen says in press notes. “I made the video as a simple Creative Commons project and then approached the group about a possible collaboration and then filmed them performing to add to the story I had built around their song into something more” 

“Collaboration with a new person is always a surprise creatively and I thought her vibrant and imaginative approach visualizing the song to be just right .. to curate this version of this songs story,” Bryce Boudreau says of the video. “Her choice of imagery really melds with the track. I’m very happy with the way the video develops and encapsulates everything we are trying to express musically” Chris Murphy adds in press notes. 

 

elegant slims is a rather mysterious, up-and-coming electro pop artist, who quickly received attention with the release of her critically applauded debut single “Not Human.” a track that drew comparisons to the likes of Grimes, The Knife and Ladytron among others — and for collaborating with emerging visual artists to produce the artwork for her material. Her second and latest single “Hemisphere” is an eerie and atmospheric bit of synth pop centered around elegant slims’ ethereal vocals, fuzzy and arpeggiated synths, some industrial clang and clatter and a soaring hook that while recalling Depeche Mode and others manages to possess a cinematic air.

Continuing her collaboration with emerging visual artists, elegant slims teamed up with Norwegian painter Linda Syvestan, who created artwork that’s stylistically reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

 

Skyler Cocco is a Floral Park, NY-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumetanlist, producer and model, who began writing songs as a child, and by the time Cocco was 11, she learned to operate the eight track recorder in her late father’s studio, how to program drums and then taught herself bass, guitar and piano to accompany her songs. Her career started in earnest as a a pop artist, writing hooks and collaborating with rappers as a cowriter, usually by writing hooks or producing beats but while studying studio composition at SUNY Purchase’s Music Conservatory, she further fleshed out her sound, eventually transitioning to a hard rock-leaning pop sound that’s largely influenced by Nirvana, Grimes, Soundgarden and others.

Cocco’s full-length debut Reverie was co-produced by Zach Miller and is slated for release sometime this year and from the album’s latest single “Some Nerve,” the up-and-coming, Floral Park, NY-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and model specializes in the sort of anthemic and radio friendly hard rock — er, hard pop? — that’s reminiscent of Paramore, if they had decided to cover A Perfect Circle/Tool; and in fact similar to the work of Holy Wars, Cocco’s latest single, as well as the rest of the material on the album focuses on learning to live in the face of profound grief and heartache.

 

Over the past 12-18 months or so, you might recall that the Spanish-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and pop artist Sofi de la Torre quickly became a JOVM mainstay artist. de la Torre can trace the origins of her musical career to when she first began writing songs when she was 14 — and after stints in  Los Angeles and  London, where she signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV and then wrote and recorded her full-length debut. As the story goes, after the release of her debut, de la Torre went through an extensive period of reflection, self-discovery and re-invention, which began with the JOVM mainstay artist experimenting with her sound and songwriting approach. Interestingly, her early experimentation eventually lead her to collaborate with Finnish songwriting and production team Jonas Karlsson and Axel Ehnström and the critically applauded “Vermilion,” which was featured on The Guardians playlist and on Grimes’ blog.  The track was then remixed by deep house producers Crom and Thanh and played by Tiesto on his BBC Radio 1 program –- adding to an already growing international profile across the European Union.

Along with a growing international profile, de la Torre has developed a reputation for being rather prolific, releasing two critically applauded EPs That Isn’t You and Mess; in fact, at one point Mess steadily climbed the the Hype Machine charts and was featured in Spotify’s Weekend Buzz playlist. Now, although it’s been a little bit of time since I’ve personally written about her, de la Torre has been rather busy, writing and recording her latest EP Another. Not Me. I’m Done, and the EP’s latest single “D.G.I.T. (Don’t Get It Twisted)” is a collaboration featuring Blackbear and Taylor Bennett that further cements de la Torre’s reputation for deeply personalized songwriting — in this case, writing a song in which its narrator recognizes that because of her selfishness and immaturity, that she almost took a great thing for granted. And as a result, the song possesses a sense of vulnerability, regret and hopefulness — the hope that she hasn’t screwed it all up and hasn’t permanently lost a good thing. But along with that, the song pairs slick yet minimalist production consisting of tribal-like percussion, swirling electronics with de la Torre’s ability to craft a razor sharp, radio-friendly hook.

 

Deriving their name from a scientific theory that suggests that Earth may have had a second moon, a twin moon that was destroyed in a massive collision during the early days of our solar system, Lunar Twin, an electro pop/dream pop/shoegaze duo comprised of Bryce Boudreau (vocals) and Chris Murphy (multi-instrumentalist and producer) can trace their origins to the 2011 Denver Underground Music Festival when Boudreau joined Murphy’s goth band Nightsweats as a guest vocalist. And by 2013, the duo started collaborating together full-time.

Now, it’s been some time since the duo have released new, original material as both the Los Angeles, CA-based, Hawaii-based Boudreau and the Salt Lake City, UT-based Murphy have been involved in a variety of creative pursuits — with Murphy working in projects that have shared stages with an impressive list of renowned artists including Grimes, Bonnie Prince Billy and Peaches among others; however, the duo’s latest effort Night Tides EP was released earlier this month through Texas-based dream pop/shoegaze label Moon Sounds Records with an extremely limited run of lathe-cut vinyl through the band’s own imprint Lunar Industry Records, and a limited cassette run through their new label. Unsurprisingly because of the distance between the two collaborators, that distance plays a significant thematic role on the material of Night Tides. As Murphy mentions in press notes, ” We both live thousands of miles apart, separated by the Pacific Ocean and miles of mountains and desert. These totally different places of isolation are the nexus of our songwriting. The ocean plays a big part in this album. The ebb an flow of the die and the effect the moon has on it.”

Boudreau adds, “For this EP, we wanted to channel the spirit of the primordial world and a lost island in the equatorial night feeling. The dense warm air smelling of flowers beneath a canopy of banyan trees.”  “Waves,” the first single off Night Tides, Boudreau explains “is about drifting between two worlds — the primeval and the technological and between Earth and Water spirits.”  And while sonically speaking, the duo’s latest single will further cement their reputation for crafting moody and atmospheric pop in which they pair Boudreau’s rich Mark Lanegan-like baritone with a minimalist production featuring propulsive, tribal-like drumming, ambient synths with brief bursts of shimmering guitar and twinkling keys. It’s a hauntingly gorgeous track that manages to evoke  the sensation of awakening from a pleasant reverie and swimming within a warm and gently ebbing  body of water with the moonlight shimmering right in front of you.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Sofi de la Torre Returns with Some Slow-Burning Synth Pop

de la Torre has been rather prolific releasing two EPs That Isn’t You and Mess, both of which critically applauded and received attention across the blogosphere; in fact, at one point Mess steadily climbed the the Hype Machine charts and was featured in Spotify’s Weekend Buzz playlist. Earlier this year, I wrote about “Sit Down” which may have arguably been the Spanish-born, Berlin-based pop artist’s boldest, feistiest song she had released to date while nodding at the work of M.I.A. Interestingly, de la Torre’s latest single “Flex Your Way Out” is a slow-burning and radio-friendly track in which de la Torre’s ethereal yet sultry vocals are paired with moody and sparse production comprised of swirling electronics, twinkling keys, and stuttering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats. Pop artist Blackbear contributes a verse to a song that focuses on a relationship between two difficult and damaged people, who can’t quite figure out how to make it work — or if they should make it work.

The recently released music video continues de la Torre’s reputation for pairing her slickly produced pop with slick music videos — and in this case, the visuals feature de la Torre driving around her gorgeous birthplace of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

23 year-old Simon Ebener-Holscher is an up-and-coming German jazz pianist, singer and producer, whose solo production and recording project Moglii has started to receive attention for a sound that employs the use of analog synthesizers, soulful vocal samples, live, acoustic instrumentation and self-made field recordings — that frequently include recordings of coffeemakers, shopping bags, cactuses and other random things. Ebener-Holscher is also the creative mastermind and founder of Moglebaum, a quintet who has performed at festivals across their native Germany, Bulgaria, The Netherlands and India.

19 year old NOVAA is an up-and-coming German singer/songwriter and producer and pioneer of a a new, attention-grabbing subgenre that she has dubbed “Organic Electronic” — a sound that draws from electronica, electro pop, folk and pop. And as a result, the young German artist has been compared favorably to the likes of Björk and Grimes. The two German artists bonded over a shared love of organic, natural soundscapes and higher thinking and as a result they began collaborating on their forthcoming 5 track EP Down Under.

“Down Under,” the EP title track and the EP’s latest single is a glitchy and wobbling track that thematically “”focuses on the connectedness and circulation of energy that is felt, rather than seen” — and sonically, the song pairs shuffling and skittering drum programming, fluttering and undulating synths, wobbling low end, ambient and swirling electronics and raindrops with NOVAA’s and Ebener-Holscher’s vocals bubbling up and then serenely floating over the surface. The song’s shifting rhythms and time changes add to a woozy and trippy feel while keeping the ethereal song from floating off into space — while being remarkably subtle.