Tag: National Sawdust

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the emerging Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, keyboardist and indie pop artist Sophie Colette. Colette initially relocated to New York to pursue fashion design, but she pivoted her ambitions to music after being scouted at a high school reunion by The Party Faithful‘s bassist. About a month after that, the Brooklyn-based pop artist found herself contributing vocals, keys and synths for the band and playing with the band at venues across the New York Metropolitan area. During that same period, she met Degraw Sound producer Ben Rice, who she later presented with a stack of sketchbooks filled with lyrics and visual palettes, which became the genesis of her solo work.

Now, as you may recall “Tonite,” off Colette’s debut EP Strangers and Lovers was featured at Jasmine Chong’s runway presentations to the editors of VogueWWD, Elle and others during New York Fashion Week 2017. Selected footage from her Stephen Dirkes-directed music video for “Get Close” was nominated for Best Creative Concept, Art Direction and Visual Effects at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival. And building upon a growing profile, Colette supported Strangers and Lovers with a European tour with Berlin-based indie-folk project The Crystal Elephant.

Since then, Colette has released a handful of shimmering pop singles that have caught the attention of the blogosphere, including my dear friends and colleagues at Glamglare, Adam’s World Blog,  as well as receiving airplay on French radio station Déclic Radio 101.1FM. Last year, I wrote about one of those singles ““Would You Like It?,” a dreamy pop confection centered round shimmering synths and Colette’s achingly vulnerable vocals.  The Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and keyboardist began this year with a live set at Rockwood Music Hall that featured her gorgeous chamber pop rendition of Cheap Trick’s smash hit “I Want You To Want Me.

Interestingly, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s first bit of original music of this year finds her collaborating with highly-regarded New York-based singer/songwriter, electro pop artist and producer Julie Kathryn, best known for her solo recording project I Am Snow Angel. The end result is the minimalist and ethereal “In Love a Little.”  Centered around atmospheric synths and electronics, twinkling synths and Colette’s vulnerable vocals, the song manages to sound otherworldly while evoking the swooning pangs of a new crush that has begun to turn into love. 

“I met Julie at her Mothership album release show at National Sawdust in January 2019. I didn’t know anything about her prior to the show, and was pretty floored by her exploration of sound, the choreography of her set and accompanying visuals, and her overall vibe,” Colette recalls in a lengthy statement. “I resonated with her spirit and felt a bit of a kinship even as I was watching from the audience. After her set I felt compelled to say ‘hi’ and introduce myself, even though I was intimidated as she was swarmed with other guests and press. She was so warm, gave me a big hug, and suggested I reach out to her to chat soon. It was that simple.

“A few days later I already had ‘In Love a Little’ in mind that I wanted to send to her, hoping she would want to produce it. It had been sitting in my collection of demos for a while and I hadn’t landed on a producer for it. My vision of the song was to have a supernatural slant, ethereal and romantic and weird, which would require a different sonic approach than what I’d done before with other producers. Luckily she loved the demo and we started collaborating.

Working with Julie was an amazing experience – it was very hands on and communicative. We sat side by side and made decisions together, from the tracking to the comping to the mixing. I learned so much about Ableton and the possibility of different soundscapes that could be created outside of traditional instrumentation.

“It became apparent to me that working with a female producer, who inherently applied these types of sounds to her own work, came with the advantage of being able to feel the same nuances of emotion without having to explain them to each other. Each session was an open-ended conversation, and quite nurturing to be honest. Something about that female-to-female energy in a room is really powerful when the ego isn’t there. Not to throw shade at any of the amazing male producers and engineers I’ve worked with, but there’s almost a different quality of ‘safe space’ and freedom when working with a female producer. I felt comfortable to be totally vulnerable and emotional all around, without feeling self-conscious of my sensitivities.

I find it hard to explain in words beyond that…perhaps the best way is to say, ‘girl power’ ? :)”

Live Footage: Rafiq Bhatia Performing “Breaking English”

Rafiq Bhatia is a Hickory, NC-born, New York-based composter, guitarist and producer of East African Indian descent. Before joining Ryan Lott and Ian Chang to expand renowned indie act Son Lux from a solo recording project to a fully fleshed out band, Bhatia released two critically applauded solo efforts — 2012’s Yes It Will and Strata. As a guitarist and producer, Bhatia has worked with an impressive and diverse array of artists including Olga Bell, Sam Dew, Marcus Gilmore, Billy Hart, Heems, Helado Negro, Vijay Iyer, Glenn Kotche, Valegir Sigurðsson, Moses Sumney, David Virelles, Lorde, Sufjan Stevens and others. Adding to a growing profile, he’s recored with the chamber ensembles International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet and Alarm Will Sound, and he’s had work appear on the soundtracks for the major motion pictures The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Air, and Afflicted.  

Bhatia’s third solo album Breaking English is slated for an April 6, 2018 release through ANTI- Records, and the album reportedly finds the renowned composer, producer and guitarist, who has long been influenced by Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Madlib, as well as mentors and collaborators Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, meshing avant-garde jazz with textured and sculptured electronic composition and production. Because of his experience as a first-generation son of East African-born, Indian Muslim immigrant parents, who can trace their ancestry back to India, and the influence of mentors like Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, Bhatia sees music as a way to actively shape and represent his own identity, not limited by anyone else’s prescribed perspective.  Interestingly, the album’s overall theme and its title were inspired by a 2008 trip to India that Bhatia took with his sister and parents — the first time he had ever seen the ancestral homeland. “We were driving towards the Taj Mahal, and noticed as we approached that there was an alarming number of signs advertising ‘Shooting Ranges.’ We grew increasingly curious and concerned about why these signs, which were written in English, were so prevalent — could they be targeted towards American tourists and their obsession with guns?” Bhatia recalled in press notes. “But eventually, we realized that ‘shooting’ was intended in the photographic sense. We had a good laugh about it, but then my dad turned to me quite seriously and asked ‘Eventually there will be likely more English speakers out here than there are in the West. At that point, who will get to decide what constitutes a proper use of English?’”

“’Breaking English’ is a ceremony of a song,” Bhatia continues. “Its central theme revealed itself to me in an improvised performance, fully formed, as though it had always existed. The cyclical form of the piece allows it to shed its skin and present itself anew in successive iterations, even as the core idea — or problem, or experience — stubbornly persists.”

Breaking English‘s latest single, album title track, the atmospheric and soulful “Breaking English” which features skittering drums, a sinuous bass line, blasts of bluesy guitar and a wailing chorus — and in some way, the composition nods at an incredible synthesis of the work of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, J. Dilla and Flying Lotus but with a soulful weariness and ache.

New Audio: Rafiq Bhatia’s Atmospheric and Soulful New Single

Rafiq Bhatia is a Hickory, NC-born, New York-based composter, guitarist and producer of East African Indian descent. Before joining Ryan Lott and Ian Chang to expand renowned indie act Son Lux from a solo recording project to a fully fleshed out band, Bhatia released two critically applauded solo efforts — 2012’s Yes It Will and Strata. As a guitarist and producer, Bhatia has worked with an impressive and diverse array of artists including Olga Bell, Sam Dew, Marcus Gilmore, Billy Hart, Heems, Helado Negro, Vijay Iyer, Glenn Kotche, Valegir Sigurðsson, Moses Sumney, David Virelles, Lorde, Sufjan Stevens and others. Adding to a growing profile, he’s recored with the chamber ensembles International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet and Alarm Will Sound, and he’s had work appear on the soundtracks for the major motion pictures The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Air, and Afflicted.  

Bhatia’s third solo album Breaking English is slated for an April 6, 2018 release through ANTI- Records, and the album reportedly finds the renowned composer, producer and guitarist, who has long been influenced by Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Madlib, as well as mentors and collaborators Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, meshing avant-garde jazz with textured and sculptured electronic composition and production. Because of his experience as a first-generation son of East African-born, Indian Muslim immigrant parents, who can trace their ancestry back to India, and the influence of mentors like Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, Bhatia sees music as a way to actively shape and represent his own identity, not limited by anyone else’s prescribed perspective.  Interestingly, the album’s overall theme and its title were inspired by a 2008 trip to India that Bhatia took with his sister and parents — the first time he had ever seen the ancestral homeland. “We were driving towards the Taj Mahal, and noticed as we approached that there was an alarming number of signs advertising ‘Shooting Ranges.’ We grew increasingly curious and concerned about why these signs, which were written in English, were so prevalent — could they be targeted towards American tourists and their obsession with guns?” Bhatia recalled in press notes. “But eventually, we realized that ‘shooting’ was intended in the photographic sense. We had a good laugh about it, but then my dad turned to me quite seriously and asked ‘Eventually there will be likely more English speakers out here than there are in the West. At that point, who will get to decide what constitutes a proper use of English?'”

“’Breaking English’ is a ceremony of a song,” Bhatia continues. “Its central theme revealed itself to me in an improvised performance, fully formed, as though it had always existed. The cyclical form of the piece allows it to shed its skin and present itself anew in successive iterations, even as the core idea — or problem, or experience — stubbornly persists.”

Breaking English’s latest single, album title track, the atmospheric and soulful “Breaking English” which features skittering drums, a sinuous bass line, blasts of bluesy guitar and a wailing chorus — and in some way, the composition nods at an incredible synthesis of the work of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, J. Dilla and Flying Lotus but with a soulful weariness and ache.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past year, you’ve come across a small handful of posts featuring the Brooklyn-based post punk duo and JOVM mainstays NØMADS . Comprised of Nathan Lithow  (vocals, bass), who has been a touring and recording bassist for My Brightest DiamondInlets, and Gabriel and the Hounds; and Garth Macaleavey (drums), a former Inlets touring percussionist and head sound engineer at National Sawdust, the duo have received an increasing amount of attention across the blogosphere for a sound that draws from Nirvana, Fugazi and Girls Against Boys while also nodding at Zack de la Rocha’s post-Rage Against the Machine project, One Day As A Lion  and Japandroids.

After a year hiatus from touring to support their 2014 full-length debut Free My Animal and from writing, the Brooklyn-based duo spent the better part of 2016 writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their sophomore album, PHOBIAC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion, while capturing the innermost thoughts, anxieties and fears of someone in the grips of their own deepest fear; but at the core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the end result.

Adding to the conceptual nature of the album, each song off the album will be released every month over the course of 2017 with the full-length album being slated for a 2018 release. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, it shouldn’t be surprising that I’ve written about a handful of singles PHØBIAC — “Achluphobia” focused on a fear of darkness, and throughout you can feel the narrator’s palpable and overwhelmingly primal dread and fear as darkness begins to envelope everything around him  — and it’s further emphasized by angular and forceful bass chords, thundering and propulsive drumming and Lithgow’s growled vocals. The following single “Acrophobia,” focused on a fear of heights and is a explosive instrumental composition that features a rapidly shifting meter paired with a propulsive bass line meant to evoke the sensation of peering over a high ledge of a bridge or some other surface, with the instinctual recognition that solid ground and mortal peril is just below you. And it was followed by “Axatophobia,” which focused on a fear of disorder and chaos. Featuring Lithgow playing an angular and distorted yet melodic bass line, Macaleavey’s forceful and dramatic drumming  and paired with Lithgow’s urgent and pleading vocals, the song had the air of someone who’s life is thrown in disarray in an unexpected way.

PHØBIAC‘s latest single “Chronometrophobia”  is a slow-burning and moody instrumental track, focusing on a fear of clocks, watches and time. Mixed by Michael Abuiso at Behind The Curtains Studio, the composition features buzzing and distorted bass chords, meant to evoke the grinding mechanisms of gears while the metronomic-like drumming manage to evoke the clicking of watch hands moving second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour. But just under the surface is creeping anxiety of time passing; of time’s relentless march forward, whether you’re here or not and being continually reminded of it everywhere you go.

As the band’s frontman explains in press notes “The fear of clocks is a very compelling to me as a soundscape metaphor. As a physical object, a clock not only “tells” time, but also represents the passing of time, and the concrete idea of the present tense. Chronometrophobia is tangentially connected to Chronophobia, the fear of time or of time’s passing, but as a compositional theme I think the clicks/ticks/tocks/beeps and bells provide a bit of a textual context to the song as a whole.”

The band is embarking on a series of dates, most of them local and it includes their ongoing Tuesday night residency at Piano’s. Check out tour dates.

Tour Dates

5/16 – New York, NY – Pianos
5/23 – New York, NY – Pianos
5/25 – Erie, PA – Bobby’s Place
5/30 – New York, NY – Pianos
6/02 – Brooklyn, NY – Three’s Brewing
6/05 – Indianapolis, IN – State Street Pub
6/22 – New York, NY – Berlin
8/03 – Brooklyn, NY – Cape House (PopGun show w/ CLOAK)

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Nathan Lithow (vocals, bass), who has been a touring and recording bassist for My Brightest DiamondInlets, and Gabriel and the Hounds; and Garth Macaleavey (drums), a former Inlets touring percussionist and head sound engineer at National Sawdust, the Brooklyn-based post-punk duo NØMADS have received attention across the blogosphere and from this site for a sound that draws from Nirvana, Fugazi and Girls Against Boys while also nodding at Zack de la Rocha’s post-Rage Against the Machine project, One Day As A Lion  and Japandroids.

After a year hiatus from touring to support their 2014 full-length debut Free My Animal and from writing, the Brooklyn-based duo spent the better part of 2016 writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their sophomore album, PHOBIC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion, while capturing the innermost thoughts, anxieties and fears of someone in the grips of their own deepest fear; but at the core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the end result.

Adding to the conceptual nature of the album, each song off the album will be released every month over the course of 2017 with the full-length album being slated for a 2018 release. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, it shouldn’t be surprising that I’ve written about a handful of singles PHØBIAC — “Achluphobia” focused on a fear of darkness, and throughout you can feel the narrator’s palpable and overwhelmingly primal dread and fear as darkness begins to envelope everything around him  — and it’s further emphasized by angular and forceful bass chords, thundering and propulsive drumming and Lithgow’s growled vocals; the following single “Acrophobia,” focused on a fear of heights and is a explosive instrumental composition that features a rapidly shifting meter paired with a propulsive bass line meant to evoke the sensation of peering over a high ledge of a bridge or some other surface, with the instinctual recognition that solid ground and mortal peril is just below you. PHØBIAC‘s latest single “Axatophobia” focuses on a fear of disorder and chaos and features Lithgow playing an angular and distorted yet melodic bass line, Macaleavey’s forceful and dramatic drumming — while Lithgow’s vocals take on the urgent and pleading air of someone who’s life is throw in disarray in an unexpected way, and they can’t handle the slightest bit of disorder. You can practically sense the creeping dread that subtly permeates the entire song.

The Brooklyn-based post punk duo started a string of tour dates the other day at Third Man Records, Detroit and it includes a month-long residency at Piano’s with sets on May 9, 2017; May 17, 2017; May 23, 2017; and May 30, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you had been frequenting this site last month, you may have come across a post on the Brooklyn-based post-punk duo NØMADS. Comprised of Nathan Lithow (vocals, bass), who has been a touring and recording bassist for My Brightest DiamondInlets, and Gabriel and the Hounds; and Garth Macaleavey (drums), a former Inlets touring percussionist and head sound engineer at National Sawdust, the duo have quickly received attention for a sound that draws from Nirvana, Fugazi and Girls Against Boys while also nodding at Zack de la Rocha’s post-Rage Against the Machine project, One Day As A Lion , as well as Japandroids.

Now, as you may recall that the duo received some attention with the release of their 2014 full-length debut, Free My Animal, an effort that reportedly drew from Death From Above 1979 and Queens of the Stone Age. And after a year hiatus from touring and recording, the Brooklyn-based post-punk duo spent the better part of last year, writing and recording the material that would comprise their their newest, conceptual album PHØBIAC, an album in which each song focuses on a different phobia — approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion, capturing the innermost thoughts and anxieties of someone in the grips of their own fears, while possessing a cautionary message: that whenever we succumb to our irrational fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the end result. And with our current (and continuing) sociopolitical climate, the Brooklyn-based duo’s newest material is desperately fitting and necessary, especially in light of the fact that an enormous swath of the American population have let their fear and hatred of “the other” to the point of endangering everyone within their path.

Adding to the conceptual nature of the album, each song off the album will be released every month over the course of 2017 with the full album being slated for a 2018 release.  And as you may remember, the album’s previous single “Achluphobia” focuses on a fear of darkness, and throughout you can feel the narrator’s palpable and overwhelmingly primal dread and fear as darkness begins to envelope everything around him  — and it’s further emphasized by angular and forceful bass chords, thundering and propulsive drumming and Lithgow’s growled vocals; but just under the surface of the song is a bigger message that fear can easily turn something that’s natural and normal into something fearful, horrible and dangerous.

“Acrophobia,” PHØBIAC‘s latest single is based around the fear of heights and it’s a forceful and explosive, instrumental composition that features Los Angeles, CA-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Max Braverman on drums. Featuring a frequently shifting meter paired with a propulsive bass line, the song intends to to evoke the vertiginous sensation of peering over a ledge with the recognition that solid ground and ghastly, mortal peril is just below you, all while sonically nodding at Entertainment and Solid Gold-era Gang of Four — in particular “Not Great Men,” “He’d Send in the Army;” but with an tense, anxious dread at its core.

 

 

 

 

Featuring Superhuman Happiness‘ founding members Stuart Bogie, Eric Biondo, along with Andrea Diaz (a.k.a. Dia Luna); producer and multi-instrumentalist Ian Hersey, a former member of Rubblebucket; and Brain Bisordi (percussion), the Brooklyn-based experimental pop act TOUCH/FEEL can trace its origins to when Superhuman Happiness’ primary trio, had convened to write material for what they thought would be the band’s third full-length effort. And as the trio explains in press notes, while they had already begun to be known for crafting a sound based around bright and mischievous harmonies and driving, funky polyrhythms, the newer material turned out to be the complete inverse, as the material took on much darker melodies and harmonies with slower, heavier rhythms. The lyrics they began writing with that new sound focused on death, destruction and transformation as being a necessary part of the cycle of existence, drawing some thematic influence from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Tarot, re-runs of Unsolved Mysteries and the renewed sense of urgency that countless folks across the country felt after this past Presidential election. The project’s founding trio of Bogie, Biondo and Diaz then enlisted Ian Hersey and Byran Bisordi to join their new project, as the founding trio felt that both Hersey and Bisordi helped bring a rough edge to the proceedings that makes the music feel raw and alive, “and more like chamber music in the sense that we are playing to each other, and striving to engage each other like a string quartet would — without backing tracks or whatever to regulate the music to a clock.”

The project draws from a wild variety of influences including early Peter Gabriel, Sade, the Kronos Quartet, Fela Kuti and Kraftwerk, sonically as you’ll hear on the project’s debut single “ASHES/GOLD,” Diaz’s husky crooning ethereally floats over a slick production featuring processed drums, analog synths, filtered bass guitar, saxophone, flute and trumpet — and while still bearing a resemblance to the sound that won them attention with Superhuman Happiness, the track is a mid tempo track, full of  plaintive, unresolved longing and ambiguous and murky emotions.

From what I understand live, the material is meant to take the audience through 9 specific movements, much like a chamber music group balancing composition and improvisation and incorporating dancers and a degree of performance art. TOUCH/FEEL’s first live set is on March 4, 2017 at National Sawdust — and based on what the band describes, it sound be a spectacle.