Tag: Mondo.NYC

12 years ago, I started what has been for me — my life’s work.

And honestly, when I started this site, I couldn’t have imagined three-quarters of the things I’ve done and experienced over JOVM’s history to ever happen. 

  • I’ve covered roughly 1,100-1,200 shows in NYC, with a handful of shows in ChicagoBaltimore and Philadelphia.
  • I’ve covered about a dozen or more festivals, including traveling to Montreal for M for Montreal back in 2019. 
  • I’ve been a panelist at Mondo.NYC Festival and at New Colossus Festival, speaking about PR, promotion and press for indie artists, giving my perspective as a indie blogger. 
  • A few years ago, I made a cameo in a JOVM mainstay’s music video. It’s a very noticeable spot towards the end of the video. It was a fun experience, but so far no one has called me about acting gigs. Maybe I need to stick to the writing and photography? 
  • I couldn’t have imagined photographing George ClintonPatti LaBelleSnoop DoggBlondieNile RodgersRoky EricksonPhilip BaileyBlind Boys of Alabama and so many others, as well as this site’s countless mainstays.
  • I wouldn’t have met the countless colleagues and musicians, who have become supporters and friends. And by far, music friends have proven to be the very best of friends. 

JOVM turned 10 in June 2020. And during the middle of the very worst of the pandemic, things seemed — understandably — bleak. And although we’re slowly managed to claw our way back to a degree of normalcy, in which gathering together can happen, things across the music industry still seem rather bleak: Touring has always been a big financial risk for musicians but COVID-19 has made it even more complicated, because musicians are out there risking their health and lives — because they need to make money to live. 

We’re all trying to figure out how to maneuver in a new, confusing and uncertain landscape that may well be with us for an indefinite period of time. But with these past 12 years under my belt, I have no intentions of going anywhere. 

I strongly believe that I’ve managed to carve out a unique spot in the blogosphere, a place that I feel is desperately necessary because both the music and media worlds are often so incredibly homogenous. Someone out there has to do something different. And representation in every aspect matters. So in many ways, this has to continue. 

As I do every month, I want to thank the following folks and organizations. Without them this past few years — and especially this year — wouldn’t have been remotely possible: 

Sash

Alice Northover

Bella Fox

Jenny MacRostie

Janene Otten 

All of those folks have been generous Patreon patrons. Of course, feel free to check out the Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/TheJoyofViolentMovement. And if you’re able to support, your support will be greatly appreciated and continuously shouted out. Any amount really helps. Seriously. 

I must thank the folks at Creatives Rebuild New York. I’m relieved, proud and humbled to be included in their Guaranteed Income for Artists program. The money I’ll receive over the next 18 months will be put to good use — keeping this little dream of mine going. I don’t think there’s enough words to thank them — or to show how grateful I am. (I’ll keep trying, of course!) 

There are other ways you can support. 

You can also support by checking the JOVM shop: https://www.joyofviolentmovement.com/shop 

You can also support my following me on the following platforms:

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And you can hire me for headshots, portraits and events. Seriously, I’m available for that, too. You can click here: https://www.photobooker.com/photographer/ny/new-york/william-h?duration=1?duration=1# or you can contact me directly.

Founded by some of the originators of CMJ and its long-running CMJ Marathon, Mondo.NYC is a music, technology and innovation-based festival that within its first couple years has quietly taken the place of both the CMJ Marathon and New Music Seminar’s New Music Nights Festival. Now, as you may recall, the third edition of Mondo.NYC took place last week and it found the global, emerging music, technology and innovation conference moving a few miles east across the East River to Williamsburg, Brooklyn with  The Williamsburg Hotel,Rough Trade and Brooklyn Bowl hosting daytime conference-related events hosted by  The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Guild of Music Supervisors,Record Store Day, and others meant to connect fans, artists, music industry professionals, business pioneers and leading names in tech and music to network, trade ideas and learn in a rapidly changing industry landscape. Additionally, the panels, talks and other events were meant to inspire young people to take control of their careers — whether they were heading towards a technological-based career, behind the scenes in A&R, marketing, promotion, management and publicity or up in front as an artist.

Live music showcases took place across a handful of venues in the New York metropolitan area, including the aforementioned Brooklyn Bowl, Piano’s, Berlin, Arlene’s Grocery,  Coney Island Baby, The Delancey, DROM, Hank’s Saloon, Niagara, N.O.R.D. and Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall that featured artists from the US, Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, France and elsewhere performing music across a wide array of genres and styles.

One of the artists who played during the music festival portion was the Swedish adult contemporary pop artist ELINDA, the collaborative music project of the Ekerö, Sweden-born, Stockholm, Sweden-based singer/songwriter and dancer Linda Östergren Frithiof and her husband, multi-instrumentalist and producer Mikael Frihiof. Linda Östergren Frithiof can trace the origins of her performing career as a trained dancer, studying at  the Lasse Kühler Dansskola School and the Ballet Academy, one of Scandinavia’s leading dance schools. While training as a dancer, it was discovered that Östergren Frithiof had a commanding voice and once she graduated dance school, she began performing at nightclubs, cabarets, vacation resorts, cruise ships and corporate events before landing gigs as a backup singer for a number of major Scandinavian artists including Magnus Uggla, Markoolio and E-Type, Shirley Clamp, Martin Stenmarck and Charlotte Perrelli, as well as Lutricia McNeal. She’s also sang vocal demos for Celine Dion, and collaborated with the likes of Leif Larsson and Anders Borgius for Swedish artists like Björn Skifs and David Hasselhoff. (Yes, David Hasselhoff.)

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Adding to a rather diverse and eclectic career path, Östergren Frithiof has played Sally Bowles in the Stockholm-based production of Cabaret and Joanne in the Stockholm-based production of RENT before joining The Original Band — The Abba Tribute, which features a number of musicians who have played with ABBA either on their records or tours. Additionally, Östergren Frithiof, was involved in the casting, choreography and scripting for the show, which has toured across Sweden and has performed in China several times, including a televised audience of more than 100 million viewers for the Chinese New Year broadcast.

Östergren Frithof, has been building up a profile as a solo artist largely inspired by the sounds, vocal styles and stage shows of Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Prince, Justin Timberlake,Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Ariana Grande and Bruno Mars. With her husband and collaborator Mikael, they formed a label Breaking Records and began writing and recording original material that draws from her own life, centered around her struggles and victories as an artist and mother of five. Interestingly, her MONDO.NYC set at Piano’s was her Stateside debut and I spoke to the up-and-coming Swedish adult contemporary pop artist and her husband at P.J. Clarke’s Lincoln Center location about her career to date, the MONDO.NYC Festival, her dance floor friendly, feminist anthem “Superwoman” and a lot more. Check it out.

Preview: MONDO.NYC 2018

Founded by some of the originators of CMJ and its long-running CMJ Marathon, Mondo.NYC is a music, technology and innovation-based festival that within its first couple years has quietly taken the place of both the CMJ Marathon and New Music Seminar’s New Music Nights Festival. Interestingly, the third edition of Mondo.NYC, which will take place October 2, 2018 – October 5, 2018 finds the global, emerging music, technology and innovation conference moving east across the East River to Williamsburg with The Williamsburg Hotel, Rough Trade and Brooklyn Bowl hosting daytime conference-related events. Interestingly, those daytime events feature partnerships with The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Guild of Music Supervisors, Record Store Day, a collection of international consular and export agencies and others to connect fans, artists, music industry professionals, business pioneers and veterans, leading names in tech and music to network, trade ideas and learn in a rapidly changing industry landscape as well as inspired others to become the industry leaders and up-and-coming artists of the future. Live music will take place on both sides of the East River with showcases being hosted by the aforementioned Brooklyn Bowl, Piano’s, Berlin, Arlene’s Grocery,  Coney Island Baby, The Delancey, DROM, Hank’s Saloon, Niagara and N.O.R.D.

Some quick highlights include:

  • RIAA hosts “Everything You Need to Know About Streaming Revenue and Policy in One Hour”
  • Guild of Music Supervisors NYC Education Event & Film Fest, an immersive full-day symposium to meet, network and learn from some of the top music supervisors and industry executives in the business, that will take place at The Williamsburg Hotel, October 5.
  • Record Store Day presents “A Conversation With…” Series at Rough Trade Records
  • The Second Annual Marauder Radio Room @ Pianos — College stations record interviews and live sessions with Mondo showcasing artists.
  • MusicTech Day @ Mondo.NYC hosted by Brian Zisk
  • Northern Beat: Indigenous Canadian New Music Showcase at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with iskwé, DJ Shub with James Jones and Elisapie
  • HOTS, The Hungarian Music Export Bureau, presents Breakthrough Artists from Hungary Ivan & the Parazol and Mörk
  • SWISS LIVE TALENTS present KT Gorique, The Last Moan, Sophie De Quay & The Waveguards, Eliane Amherd

Mondo’s speakers include key leaders from the emerging music and frontier tech industries:

●      Preeti Adhikary, VP of Marketing, FuseMachines

●      Danielle Aguirre, General Counsel, National Music Publishers’ Association

●      Lauren Apolito, SVP Strategy & Business Development, Rumblefish/HFA

●      Shelita Burke, Pop Star/Data Scientist

●      Bryan Calhoun

●      Susanna Choe, Co-Founder, Peace Accelerators

●      Thomas Emmanuel, US Business Development Advisor, Sonm

●      David Garrity, Partner, BTBlock

●      Mitch Glazier, President, RIAA

●      Adam Huttler, General Partner, Exponential Creativity Ventures

●      Lenny Kaye, Artist, Guitarist for The Patti Smith Group

●      Scott Kessler, Director of Business Development, L03 Energy

●      Tammy Khan, Partner, BTBlock

●      Clara Kim, General Counsel, ASCAP

●      Michael Kurtz, Co-Founder, Record Store Day

●      Andrew Levine, Content Director, Steemit

●      Jonathan McHugh, Director/Producer/Music Supervisor

●      Arjun Mendhi, CEO, MTonomy

●      Tatiana Moroz, Founder, TATIANACOIN

●      Ed Morris, Co-Founder and Director, Gate Reality

●      Rohan Reddy, Co-Founder, Y2X

●      Emma Reeves, Executive Director, Free the Bird

●      Jordan Rudess, Keyboardist/Composer, Dream Theater

●      Xander Schultz, VC, Galaxy Investment Partners

●      Cary Sherman, CEO, RIAA

●      Stephen White, CEO, Dubset

●      Bill Wilson, Co-Founder, Indie Ninja

●      Brian Zisk, Co-Founder/Executive Producer, SF MusicTech Summit

●      Shoshana Zisk, General Counsel, George Clinton Enterprises

 

Of course, I’m looking extremely forward to catching some of the incredibly diverse music offerings, including:

 

  • Omar Souleyman (Syria)
  • Laxmi Bomb (India)
  • Lord Esperanza (France)
  • Crosa Rosa (UK)
  • Kingswood (Australia)
  • Sevi Ettinger (China)
  • Mörk and Ivan & The Parazol (Hungary)
  • Eliane Amherd and Sophie de Quay & The Wave Guards (Switzerland)
  • DJ Shub, Elisapie, Goodbye Honolulu, iskwé, Karimah, and Kielley Koyote (Canada)
  • BriGuel, Girl Skin and HoneyChrome, RYAL (NYC)
  • THRILLCHASER (Providence)
  • The Darbies (Los Angeles)
  • and a long list of others

 

For more information, including tickets, showcases, talks and more, go the following: https://mondo.nyc

Hopefully, I’ll be covering the events of the conference, and if so, be on the lookout for a variety of live conference through my various social accounts:

Twitter: @yankee32879

Twitter: @williamhelms3rd

Instagram: @william_ruben_helms

New Video: Girl Skin Releases a Moving and Mediative Ballad

A day after covering OctFest and I somehow feel almost every single second of my age. Everything hurts — and in completely different ways: my ankles and feet feel as though they’re on file while my left shoulder throbs and so on. But I had some fantastic international beers, ate a lot of good food, saw some great music, stood in the rain for hours on end and photographed a ton of stuff; so it was worth it in the end. But let’s get to business, eh? 

Led by singer/songwriter and creative mastermind Sid Simons, the Brooklyn-based collective Girl Skin features a rotating cast of collaborators that includes Bailey Blu (drums, piano, vocals), Sophie Cozine (vocals), Al Nardo (bass), Stan Simons (vocals) and Ruby Wang (violin), the act meshes elements of folk and art rock in what the band describes as “lemon pop” — with the material thematically and emotionally drawing from Simons’ personal experiences: Simons was born in Portland, spent his childhood in Australia and New York, his teens in Shanghai, China — and instead of finishing high school, he went on a rambling cross country road trip of the States. 

The band’s latest effort, LoveMore EP was released earlier this year, and it found Sid Simons and company collaborating with his lover and muse Foster James. Reportedly, the band is currently working on a full-length album that is tentatively slated for release early next year; but in the meantime, the band’s latest single “Bite Real Hard” is a moody and slow-burning ballad with a rousingly anthemic hook that recalls Psychic Ills and The Rolling Stones as it shifts from slow-burning ballad to power chord-fueled, arena rock ballad, complete with the bittersweet air that comes from lived-in experience. As Girl Skin’s Sid Simons explains. ” When I was 19, I skipped school and took my Chevy Astro van on a 22 State, 12,000 mile odyssey around the USA. While I was out there, meandering around the back roads of America, I learned my Uncle, who had given me my first lessons on the guitar, had become sick with cancer. There I was searching for stories, looking for songs and myself, and one came right up and found me. Bite Real Hard is my song of respect, hope and an offer of strength to one of the most important people in my life.”

Directed by  Idle House, the recently released video begins with Simons walking through marsh before he encounters his bandmates — with each bandmate handing Simons something: the first hands him a cowboy hat, the second a lit cigarette, the last member a handful of flower before walking together to the shore; but at the shore, the bandmates pick up their respective instruments while Simons continues to walk onward into the sea, where he casually drops the things his bandmates hand him. It’s a remarkably pensive and moody video that emphasizes the song’s moody vibe. 

A Q&A with Hayley Thompson-King

Several months ago, I was invited to be a panelist on a Baby Robot Media hosted panel titled “Your First PR Campaign” at this year’s Mondo.NYC conference in Lower Manhattan, a conference created by some of the original organizers of the beloved and sadly defunct CMJ Marathon. In fact, after speaking at the panel, I along with several colleagues went to a nearby bar, where I watched my beloved Yankees lose a confounding and infuriating heartbreaking Game 2 of the American League Division series against the then-defending League Champion Cleveland Indians. At some point, I went from networking and mingling mode to yelling and cursing at the TV – and I couldn’t tell if these people, who I had worked with in some capacity for  much of JOVM’s history were amused, knowing how much of a Yankee fan I am or if they were horrified. But the postseason when your team is in it is another thing altogether. I’ve frequently told a story about sitting in Clem’s with my dear friend and colleague Natalie Hamingson after watching the New York Rangers lose Game 7 of that year’s Conference Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning at home, in which I went into a furious 45 minute, expletive laced tirade. About half way through, the bartender at the time said to Natalie, “I don’t think I’ve seen him that angry before.” In my mind, I thought “if I was at home, I would be throwing things at my TV,” but that’s another issue altogether.

Thanks in part to built-in travel days within the postseason schedule, and the weather actually holding up in early October, I was able to squeeze in some live music coverage at this year’s Mondo.NYC. Because I had spoken at Baby Robot Media’s PR campaign panel and worked with them for a good 6-7 years or so, the company’s co-founders had personally invited me to come out to the showcases they were hosting at Piano’s during the weekend. Admittedly, I just wasn’t able to do any research prior to the actual live music, so I went into everything with no expectations and a clear mind as to what I might be seeing – and interestingly enough, I wound up being pleasantly surprised by the variety of the acts I caught throughout that particular weekend. However, in a weekend with several impressive acts – including British folk singer/songwriter Hannah Scott, New York-based Americana singer/songwriter Mieka Pauley, Austin, TX-based Americana act Fairbanks and the Lonesome Light and Kellindo Parker, best known as Janelle Monae’s sideman, there was one decidedly clear champion of the weekend, the classically trained, Sebastian, FL-born, Somerville, MA-based singer/songwriter Hayley Thompson-King.

Thompson-King’s solo debut album Psychotic Melancholia was released earlier this year through Hard to Kill Records, and the album is a “Sodom and Gomorrah concept album” that in some way is an amalgamation of several different sources and wildly disparate sources. The overall concept of the album is largely influenced by her childhood obsession with the stories of the so-called wicked women in the Bible.  “I was the skeptical kid with her hand up in Sunday school,” Thompson-King recalls in press notes. “Also, I spent weekends performing with my church youth group called Clowns for Christ. I guess you could say I was obsessed with getting to the bottom of what exactly would send one to hell. I consider myself agnostic at this point, but I’m still inspired by the questions I had as a kid about disobedience, and about the characters I was taught to believe were evil, like Lot’s Wife and Judas and Lucifer. Upon revisiting these stories, I was inspired by their questioning. I thought they were strong and exciting, and I could put myself in their shoes.” Along with that, the album’s material draws from the Sebastian, FL-born, Somerville, MA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s small. Southern town upbringing, in which her father was a team-roper and trained cutting horses, and she grew up riding and showing American Quarter horses. “I spent a lot of time in the dually listening to country music,” Hayley Thompson-King recalls. “And then I went to opera school.” And lastly, the material which references Romantic period art also draws from her classical training at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she earned a Master’s in Operatic Performance.

And while having an operatic sweep with seemingly larger than life characters with oversized emotions, the album’s songs interestingly enough manage to possess a deeply personal and introspective nature. “I write about real things that have happened in my life,” Thompson-King says in press notes. “My relationships, like with my folks, the people I love, but using the landscape and stories of outside characters. They’re all about me, I guess, but it’s easier to write if I’m looking at a third party. So I look at myself as another character.” But perhaps more important, that voice, man; while there have been some comparisons to operatically trained vocalists like Pat Benatar and Heart‘s Ann Wilson, as well as Linda Ronstadt, which are all pretty damn reasonable, Thompson-King’s vocals throughout the album switch from feral howls and yelps, the sort of defiant, and self-contained resiliency and pride that only women possess, a world weary ache from a messy life, full of bad (if not completely fucked up) decisions, dysfunctional relationships with shitty, irresponsible lovers and good, decent ones – before ending with a gorgeous and sparse rendition of Schumann’s “Wehmut,” which translates in English to “Melancholy” and features Thompson-King singing in operatic German “Ich kann wohl manchmal singen / als ob ich fröhlich sei / Doch heimlich Tränen dringen / Da wird das Herz mir frei” (“Sometimes I may be singing as if I were full of joy, But secretly the tears are flowing and then my heart feels free”).

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Photo by Simon Sinard. Styled by Rachel Rule Walker. 
Front Cover, Final.jpg

Simply put, it’s a powerful and incredibly self-assured debut but it’s arguably among my favorites released this year. Now, as you can imagine this year has been incredibly busy as I’ve had to manage the responsibilities of an involved day job with that of this blog, but several weeks ago I spoke to the incredibly thoughtful and charming Hayley Thompson-King via email about Psychotic Melancholy, her classical training and how it’s influenced her own creative work, how much the Sun Records sound has influenced her on this album and more in a rather revealing interview. Check it out below.

 __________

WRH: You grew up in the tiny town of Sebastian, Florida near Melbourne and Vero Beach, and as the impressively detailed press notes I was provided mentioned, you spent great deal of your youth riding and showing American Quarter horses and your father was a team roper, who trained cutting horses. It’s understandable that you would have grown up listening to a helluva lot of country music; but I understand that you’re a classically trained opera singer, who went to opera school, which defies the stereotype of the country singer/songwriter. How did you get into opera? Did you have any of your friends or others make fun of you for singing classical opera?  How has your classical training influenced you and your work? When did you realize that you needed to write for yourself? 

Hayley Thompson-King: I’ve always had classical leanings…When I was about 12, I basically woke up one day and my voice had changed…like I hit puberty and all of a sudden I had a ton of vibrato and could speak Italian (just kidding about the second part 🙂  But, ya, it was very natural for me to sing classical music.  No one made fun of me!  (…to my face…At least not for that!)  I feel grateful that I had the opportunity to attend college and then graduate school.  I think besides being able to control my voice and all it’s little nuances, the training has helped me to be able to analyze music.  To dig into what the composer and lyricist are trying to convey and then honoring that…which is great for country music because it’s tradition to sing other people’s songs.  I take every note and every lyric very seriously and when I break from that, it’s intentional…  As a songwriter, it’s sort of a blessing and a curse…it takes me a long time to compose the “right” song because every note and every word have to serve the plot…It’s challenging for me to rattle off something visceral like Louie Louie (one of the greatest songs of all time, in my opinion).

Realizing I wanted to go down this path- what feels like performance art; using my brain, my feelings, experiences, and my body to express something- came about 7 years ago.  I became tired of waiting for someone else to tell me when or whether or not I could make art.  So, I wrote, produced and released my first record (an entirely analog production) called Save The Rats; it was the first release on my label, Hard To Kill Records.

WRH: Who are your influences? 

HTK: Lou Reed, Robert Schumann, Greg Cartwright, Iggy Pop, Waylon [Jennings], Willie [Nelson], Garth Brooks, Patti Smith, Smog, Francisco Goya, Lightnin’ Hopkins….

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

HTK: Please don’t judge me, but I am LOCKED on Traditional Holiday Favorites: Christmas Music of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s on Sirius XM…I have no excuse.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with you and your work? 

HTK: I like to say it’s Psychedelic Country or Alt-Classical.  Some folks have said Garage Country or even Riot Girl.

WRH: Earlier this year, I stopped by both of Baby Robot Media’s Mondo.NYC Showcases at Piano’s without any expectations of anything and honestly without researching any of the artists or anything, and out of all of the very talented artists, you and your backing band blew me away. I’m a jaded New York-based music journalist, so I don’t say that often! One of the things that I noticed that you and your backing band seemed incredibly road tested. How did you meet your backing band and how long have you been playing together? 

HTK: Oh, that is very kind of you to say!  I have about 5 musicians who I work with regularly (2 guitarists, 1 drummer and 2 bass players). Everyone who plays with me has one instruction from me: serve the song.  I don’t need them to be perfect or play it like the record, I just want to play together in the moment and serve the song.

That show, I had my original bass player (who played on the record) Chris Maclachlan. Chris is a classically trained singer and bassist for seminal Boston band from the 80’s called Human Sexual Response.  He’s been with me the longest…we started as a duo and that was when we began incorporating classical repertoire.  I had Rob Motes on drums and Nick Mercado on guitar.  My other Bass player Ben Voskeritchian is in a band along with Rob and Nick called These Wild Plains from Boston. Their whole band approached me with the idea to go on the road opening me and then backing me up. They are fantastic musicians, they listen to everything I do and respond…I feel really lucky to have them in the band.  And my other guitar player (who played on the record and also engineered and co-produced) is Pete Weiss.

WRH: I’ve listened the album a number of times and sonically it’s like you and your backing band manage to bridge honky tonk country with the Sun Records/early rock sound — I can’t help but think of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and so on because the album’s material has this raw, feral quality to me. Was that intentional? And how much has that particular period influenced you? 

HTK: It’s funny you bring that up…and I’m so glad you pulled that thread.  I’m also a college professor on the side 🙂  And I’m preparing for a course right now in Rock and Roll History so listening to A LOT of Elvis.  I think ‘feral’ is the perfect term.  That music was highly intelligent the way Nature is… and I think results from a feeling of being bound.  There is a release and it doesn’t feel contrived, but rather instinctive.  AND, most exciting, the audience was effected that way!  In my music, I’m working completely instinct-driven, so, yes, I’d say those artists have influenced me.

WRH: The album reportedly stems from your childhood obsessions with the Bible’s wicked women, doubters and questioners, questioning what exactly made them “evil,” and in some way viewing them in a very different, empathetic prism in which you put yourself in the shoes of Lot’s wife, Judas and Luficer among others while tying that together with your own personal experiences. When I read that in the very detailed press notes about you and the album, my immediate thought was “holy shit, that’s pretty heady — for anything these days.” When you began writing the material for the album, did you begin with that overarching theme, crafting material so that it would hew to it — or was it something that came about subconsciously and organically as you were writing?  

HTK: As far as the concept for the record, one day as Pete (Weiss) and I were working on pre-production, he said jokingly, “this sounds like a Sodom and Gommorah concept album”. So, that kind of stuck because it was a way to talk to people about what the hell is going on in this body of work.  But, truly this was not something that I was in control of… I was guided and sensed it was divine intervention.  My entire life, I’ve been haunted by these characters because, it seems to me, they were pawns in a game… Isn’t Judas the real martyr? I realize that this might come across as blaspheme, but I’m resigned to burning in whatever hell being a reasonable person gets you sent to.

WRH: You and your backing band spent the closing months of 2016 and the early months of this year writing and then obsessively revising and then recording the material that wound up comprising Psychotic Melancholia. How much revising and tweaking went into the writing sessions? And when did you know that you had finished, fully-fleshed out songs?

HTK: Pete (Weiss) and I got together in little pre-production sessions before we went into the studio and tweaked some of the songs… those sessions involved adding a chord here or there, some arrangement choices, and our plan of attack for mic-ing/live recording/vocals.  Most of the songs were fully formed at that point. Then we went to the studio and a lot of what you hear is live with some minimal editing/overdubs. BUT, a couple of the more kinetic pieces (Lot’s Wife and No Room) needed to be played live in order for us to get the feel… so we booked a couple things and then went back and recorded those… they are mainly live, but what you are hearing is probably the 3rd version of both of those.  I just get a feeling when something is right and the band trusts that… so that’s how we work.

“Dopesick,” and “Old Flames” are among my favorite songs on the album. What can I say, a sad song sometimes just works, you know? In any case, there’s a deep and visceral ache to them that comes from very real, lived-in experience, while drawing from some of the country songs I’d expect to hear while in some beer and whiskey soaked honky tonk. What is the story behind those two? 

HTK: “Old Flames” is actually a cover song.  It was written around 1978 by Hugh Moffatt and Pebe Sebert (Sebert is the mother of Ke$ha!).  I only add a cover if I feel a deep connection to it and if I feel I can bring something new to the table…for that one, I had been trying to write about being in love with my partner…I found it VERY challenging to write about joy.  I started playing that song and it said the things that I wanted to say about my love.  (I’m still trying to write originals about this topic and getting much better at expressing this these days)

“Dopesick” is an old song.  I probably wrote it about 5 years ago.  It’s also about someone very close to me who was struggling…but, in hindsight, it’s also about me.  It’s my favorite song.

WRH: I’ve mentioned this to a number of artists I’ve interviewed but I think that the one of the keys to an exceptional album is when the song order is so perfect that it creates a very specific mood, and if you were to rearrange the songs, it would be a different album with a wildly different mood — closing the album with a rendition of Schumann’s “Wehmut” is an eccentric yet gorgeous and fitting way to close out an album with a huge, operatic sensibility. Did you have any difficulties in arranging the material as it appears on the album or was it something that you always knew? 

HTK: It took me about 3 days to do the song order…which, to me, felt long.  I was taking into consideration the tempi, flow of the keys and lyrical arch…but really, this was the only way it could be.  On the vinyl (which I’m planning to release this spring, but am hoping to get some label support for), each side will end with a Schumann piece….I think the whole thing works beautifully for a record where you listen to one side and then flip:

 

Side A:

Large Hall, Slow Decay

Dopesick

No Room For Jesus

Soul Kisser

Mondnacht (music -Schumann / poem – Eichendorff)

 

Mondnacht (Moon Night):

It seemed as if the sky

Had silently kissed the earth,

That she in the shimmer of blossoms

Could only dream of him.

The breeze blew over the fields,

The grain stalks gently surged,

The forests rustled softly,

So starbright was the night.

And my soul unfolded

It’s pinions so wide,

Flew over the silent lands,

As if it were flying home

 

Side B:

Lot’s Wife

Melencolia I

Teratoma

Old Flames

Wehmut

 

Wehmut (Melancholy):

Sometimes I may be singing

As if I were full of joy,

But secretly tears are flowing,

And then my heart feels free.

The nightingales will sing,

When spring breezes play outside,

Their melody of yearning

Out of their prison’s tomb.

Then all the hearts are listening,

And everyone is glad,

But none can feel the sorrows,

The bitter grief in song.

WRH: What’s next for you?

Well, we are home working on a couple videos and doing some writing and light recording in January…and teaching my R&R History course at the college of course.  We’ll be doing about 3 weeks east of the Rockies in March.  I turn in my grades for \ on May 14 and on May 15 we leave for a month long tour in Scandinavia which ends at the Stockholm Americana Festival.  I’m pretty excited about spring.  I’m hoping to get back to NYC a few times in the next couple months…we’ve had such exciting crowds there (including yourself 🙂  It feels like the audiences really get what we’re doing and like the artistic aspect of it.  So, that’s the plan.

 

Live Footage: The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe Leads Pure Ensemble 6 at Space Fest 2016

Created by Nasiono Association, Space Fest is annual Gdansk, Poland-based festival of shoegaze, space-rock and alternative rock that features the prerequisite live music, but much like CMJ, Mondo.NYC, Northside Festival and others also features meet-and-greets with legendary and renowned artists, workshops for Polish and other internationally-based musicians, a battle of the bands-like competition for young, up-and-coming bands and more. As an annual celebration of all things psych rock and space rock-inspired, Space Fest in his almost seven year history has gradually become a scrappy yet internationally recognized festival with an increasingly diverse lineup of bands from across the European Union, Poland, the US, Canada and elsewhere. 

One of the festival’s standout highlights over the course of its history is the Pure Phase Ensemble, a collaborative collective that features one permanent member, Karol Schwarz (KSAS), who also manages Nasiono Records, and every year Schwartz is joined by a rotating cast of local musicians and at least one internationally recognized musician, who acts as a guest musical director, mentor and collaborator through a series of workshops and joint songwriting that culminates with the group performing their new material during the final night of the festival. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of years, you may recall that during the course of the Festival’s history, they’ve invited the likes of  Spiritualized’s Ray Dickaty, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, Placebo’s Steve Hewitt, Marion’s Jamie Harding, Six by Seven’s Chris Olley, The Bad Seeds and The True Spirit’s Hugo Race and RIDE’s Mark Gardener. Last year, The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s legendary frontman and founding member Anton Newcombe led Pure Phase Ensemble 6 with Serena Maneesh’s Emil Nikolaisen, and the collective managed to impress festivalgoers with a live set that included “God Drugs” a menacing, droning, and murky dirge, consisting of layers fuzzy and distorted power chords, thundering drumming and an almost mosh pit-friendly hook over which Newcombe laconically delivers his lyrics. While forceful, the song manages a lysergic haze. 

Also, every year the organizers create a documentary of the festival and the documentary features brief interviews and live footage with festival organizers, Anton Newcombe, who says that his appearance at last year’s Space Fest was a way to convince and entice establish artists that it’s a serious and growing festival; the UK’s MDME SPKR, Italy’s Be Forest, Germany’s Camera, the Icelandic-German act The Third Sound, Poland’s Wild Books, Lonker See, The Fruitcakes, Rosa Vertov and The Czech Republic’s DIV I DED. Additionally, the video features impromptu interviews with thrilled festivalgoers and more. The documentary offers a glimpse of a rarely seen Gdansk, a city with a burgeoning music, arts and nightlife scene, full of hungry, young creatives  — a marked departure from the city’s long-held reputation as a grim Soviet satellite city. 

Interestingly, the videos serve as a teaser for this year’s Space Fest, which take place the weekend of December 1 – December 2 and will feature Maciej Cieslak of renowned Polish shoegazers Scianka, leading Pure Phase Ensemble 7, Italy’s New Candys, Portugal’s 10,000 Russos, Mugstar, Switzerland’s Blind Butcher, Germany’s Odd Couple, Mexico’s Tajak, the UK’s Dead Rabbits and up-and-coming local acts 30 kilo slonca, and Wilcze Jagondy.