Tag: The Smiths

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: The Still Tide Releases an Intimate and Mischievous Visual for Shimmering and Introspective “Keep It”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about Anna Morsett, an Olympia, WA-born, Denver-based singer/songwriter, musician and creative mastermind behind the up-and-coming indie rock act The Still Tide. And as you may recall, Morsett’s work as The Still Tide has largely been inspired by her experiences growing up in the Pacific Northwest, living in Brooklyn in her 20s and traveling the world as a guitar tech for the likes of critically applauded acts like Kaki King, The Tallest Man on Earth and The Devil Makes Three among others. As a solo artist, she has landed opening spots for Cat Power, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats and Margaret Glaspy.

Her latest Still Tide EP Between Skies is slated for a January 20, 2020 release through Mod y Vi Records and the effort is largely inspired by the duality she regularly experiences as a magnetic frontwoman and a self-described introspective loner — with the material touching upon love, loss, opportunities won and lost and the closed doors of our lives. So far I’ve written about two of the EP’s previously released singles: The shimmering, The Smiths and Pretenders-like “Change of Address,” an introspective song centered around the sense of loss and defeat after the embittering end of a long-time relationship that also managed to be imbued with a sense of hope over new starts — and the swooning “On The Line,” a song was written about her own experiences of being in a long distance relationship that managed to capture the longing, ache, hope and anxiousness at their core.   

“Keep It,” the EP’s third and latest single continues a run of shimmering and introspective guitar pop, centered around sharp and infectious hooks, and earnest songwriting rooted in lived-in, personal experience. “‘Keep It’ is about a relationship running its course and the aftermath of the split; how these two try to sort themselves out afterwards,” shares Morsett. “The hope that despite all the mess of the breakup that we keep our hearts open, keep our health and carry ourselves well. I also tried to highlight that weird feeling of watching that person who was once YOUR person go through a tough time but knowing that it isn’t your place to help them through it anymore. That perhaps it’s almost unkind to try to intervene with help in that space of a breakup as helping may just prolong emotional pain. Especially if you were the one to cause it – to break it off –in the first place.”

Directed and produced by Jonah Hart, the recently released video for “Keep It” is an intimate look behind-the-scenes of the video’s filming and of a promotional photo shoot that finds Morsett stretching and morphing from introspective and shy loner to self-assured frontperson — but with a mischievous sense of humor. 

New Video: San Francisco’s Split Screens Releases a Lysergic, Hand-Made Animated Visual for Shimmering “From The Start”

Jesse Cafiero is a San Francisco-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and animator — and the creative mastermind behind the indie pop/indie rock recording project Split Screens. With the release of his Split Screens full-length debut, 2014’s Before The Storm, Cafiero quickly established a profile for crafting widescreen pop, as the album received praise from the likes of Impose, My Old Kentucky Blog, GoldFlakePaint and others.  

Unfortunately, about a year after the album promotion campaign for Before The Storm, the San Francisco-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and animator began to experience severe burn-out. “My passion for why I started making music in the first place had started to dwindle,” Cafiero says of that time, “and while it’s never fun to put a project on an indefinite hiatus, that’s essentially what happened.”

In order to keep his creative juices flowing, Cafiero shifted his focus to making collage art and animating music videos for a number of Bay Area-based bands with some of his work being prominently featured on Vice. Unsurprisingly, his forays into visual art eventually led him back to writing music. “Approaching a new art-form really gave me the perspective and confidence I needed to fight back any self-doubt and dig deep into recording this EP,” Cafiero says of that period — and of his soon-to-be released six song EP,  Everyday Static. 

While being the long-awaited follow-up to his critically applauded Split Screens full-length debut, Everyday Static is both a reflection of the burn-out he experienced and the result of a prolonged, deeply personal personal journey as an artist and and as a person. With five years of life behind him, Everyday Static’s material is understandably more mature and focused as its imbued with an understanding and awareness of the passage of time — and of course, of one’s own mortality. Interestingly, the new EP continues Cafiero’s ongoing collaboration with producer and engineer Jeremy Black, who has worked with Langhorne Slim and JOVM mainstay Geographer, as well as Tycho’s Rory O’Connor, who contributes drums throughout the EP. 

Everyday Static’s latest single “From The Start” is a deliberately crafted, swooning bit of guitar pop that thematically and sonically nods at Wall of Sound Phil Spector-esque pop, The Smiths and Patsy Cline-era country, as the song features shimmering lap steel guitar, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling keys, a soaring hook and Cafiero’s achingly plaintive vocals. Interestingly, the song manages to be unhurried yet an earnest and urgent expression of appreciation and devotion. 

The recently released video for “From The Start” is a fully analog video, painstakingly animated frame-by-frame with images found at library sales, Goodwill and a variety of other donation-based stores with the end result being a lysergic visual that nods at Monty Python and The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour.  “My favorite part about animating with paper collage are the limitations,” Cafiero says. “The imperfections of shooting frame-by-frame really gives the video a human touch, something that I think is missing in our current digital lives.”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Noosa, Australia-born, London-based indie pop duo and JOVM mainstays Geowulf. The act, which is comprised of longtime friends Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin have known each other since they were teenagers; however, their musical collaboration is a much more recent development that can be traced to when Kendrick enlisted the assistance of her old friend Benjamin, to flesh out some of her early demos.

The duo then released a string of highly successful, critically applauded singles that began with “Saltwater,” which received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s Top Ten and landed at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts, continued with the Mazzy Star meets Fleetwood Mac-like “Don’t Talk About You,” the  Phil Spector meets Still Corners “Drink Too Much” and  the jangling, 60s girls group pop-inspired single “Hideaway,;” and The Smiths-like “Sunday,” before the release of their Duncan Mills-produced full-length debut, last year’s Great Big Blue.

Building upon their rapidly growing international profile. the duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore album My Resignation is slated for an October 25, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings. The album reportedly finds Geowulf’s Kendrick writing arguably some of the most brutally honest lyrics of the band’s growing catalog to date. Written from the perspective and lens of a 20-something women trying to maneuver the weight of expectations put upon by others and herself, the album touches upon heartbreak and loneliness — in particular, leaning how to accept and love the space and much-needed self-awareness it can provide. As a result, the album and its material finds the duo maturing and attempting to maneuver the complexities and uncertainties of adulthood with their dignity and sanity intact. And if that feels familiar to you, it should. We’ve all been there at some point or another, and we’re still struggling through it all.

My Resignation‘s fifth and latest single, album title track, the deliberately crafted pop confection “My Resignation” is centered around a Phil Spector Wall of Sound-like production consisting of shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring hook and Kendrick’s gorgeous vocals expressing regret, weariness and hope for a new start simultaneously. “‘My Resignation’ inspired the name and the theme of the album,” the band’s Star Kendrick explains in press notes. It summed up a lot of the years before — resigning from old habits and relationships. Creating space for new things and learning to let go. Toma and I feel proud of the song and had a lot of fun writing and finessing it. I originally wrote the demo on holiday in Sweden, so it came back to London with me, where Toma and I worked on it some more.”

Geowulf will be returning to North America to embark on a handful of tour dates throughout November. The tour will include a November 11, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

NORTH AMERICAN DATES:
11/7/2019 – Chicago, IL – Schubas
11/8/2019 – Toronto, ON – Drake
11/11/2019 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
11/13/2019 – Los Angeles, CA -Moroccan Lounge
11/14/2019 – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
11/15/2019 – Seattle, WA – Barboza

New Video: The Still Tide Returns with a Thoughtful and Introspective Visual for Shimmering “On The Line”

Last month, I wrote about Anna Morsett, Olympia, WA-born, Denver-based singer/songwriter, musician and creative mastermind behind the up-and-coming indie rock act The Still Tide. Her work with The Still Tide has largely been inspired by her experiences growing up in the Pacific Northwest, living in Brooklyn in her 20s and traveling the world as a guitar tech for the likes of critically applauded acts like Kaki King, The Tallest Man on Earth and The Devil Makes Three among others. As a solo artist, she has landed opening spots for Cat Power, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats and Margaret Glaspy.

Now, as you may recall her latest The Still Tide EP Between Skies is slated for a January 20, 2020 release through Mod y Vi Records and the EP is largely inspired by the duality she regularly experiences as a magnetic front woman and a self-described introspective loner while touching upon love, loss, opportunities won and closed doors of our lives.  The EP’s first single “Change of Address” was a shimmering, hook-driven bit of guitar pop that subtly recalls The Smiths and The Pretenders while managing to be an introspective song centered around the sense of loss and defeat after the embittering end of a long-term relationship — and yet, the song was imbued with a glimmering hint of optimism over the new possibilities of a new start. Interestingly, Between Skies’ second and latest single “On The Line” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor — shimmering and introspective pop with a mournful bursts of sax and Morsett’s gorgeous vocals. Written as a reflection of her experience falling in love and being in a long distance relationship, the song captures the longing and ache of those sorts of relationships. And as a result, the song is imbued with the hope and anxiousness that comes about when you’re falling in love. 

“The phrase ‘on the line’ was such a perfect fit for how I wanted to capture both the act of being on the phone with someone and also the act of putting yourself out there — of putting your heart on the line in the hope of love,” Morsett says in press notes. 

Directed by Gabriel Jacobson, the recently released video focuses on Morsett in a sparsely furnished room writing and performing the song and on the phone with that long distance love interest. And it manages to capture the sweet ache and longing at the core of the song in an unadorned, unvarnished fashion. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Geowulf Releases a Shimmering and Self-Assured Pop Gem

I’ve written quite a bit about Geowulf over the past few years. Comprised of Noosa, Australia-born friends and collaborators, Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin, have known each other since they were teenagers; however, their musical collaboration is a relatively recent development that can be traced to when Kendrick enlisted the assistance of her old friend to flesh out some of her early demos. 

The duo released a string of highly successful, critically applaud singles that included “Saltwater,” which received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s Top Ten and landed at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts; the Mazzy Star meets  Fleetwood Mac-like “Don’t Talk About You;” the  Phil Spector meets Still Corners “Drink Too Much;”  the jangling, 60s girls group pop-inspired single “Hideaway,;” and The Smiths-like “Sunday,” the JOVM mainstays released their Duncan Mills-produced, full-length debut, Great Big Blue last year.

Building on the growing profile, the duo’s highly anticipated sophomore album My Resignation is slated for an October 25, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, and the album finds the Aussie JOVM mainstays collaborating with acclaimed songwriter and producer Justin Parker on a number of tracks. Reportedly, the album finds Kendrick writing arguably some of the most brutally honest lyrics of the duo’s growing catalog to date. In fact, the material thematically focuses on loneliness — in particular, learning how to accept it and love the space and self-awareness it can provide. But naturally, the material is written through the lens of a 20-something woman trying to maneuver the weight of the expectations put upon by others and herself. Along with that, the album also deals with heartbreak. Of course that all should sound familiar and it should because all of us have been there at some point or another. In other words, the album finds the duo maturing and attempting to maneuver the complexities and uncertainties of adulthood with their sanity and dignity intact. 

My Resignation’s fourth and latest single “Lonely” is an incredibly self-assured bit of radio friendly and sugary pop, centered around jangling guitars, atmospheric synths, thumping drumming and Kendrick’s sultry crooning, but the song finds its narrator coming to a profound realization — that it’s better to be lonely and find yourself than to be lost and lonely with someone else. The song’s narrator also seems to be growing more confident within herself and within her own skin. It’s arguably one of the most mature and adult sentiments the duo have put to wax so far. 

“In a way, ‘Lonely’ epitomizes a lot of what this album means to me . . .” Geowulf’s Star Kendrick explains in press notes. “A bold and welcomed acceptance of myself and my own company. Feeling less and less like I need the approval of others. That’s one of the many nice things about getting a bit older.” 

The recently released video was shot on grainy Super 8mm film and it features Kendrick is a sparsely arranged room, wearing a gorgeous red, satin gown with matching veil. As she sings the song to herself, she takes off the gown and completes the song in just a plain bra and pair of panties. Essentially, the video finds Kendrick disposing of superficialities to get to the heart of the matter — her growing comfort with herself. 

New Video: RVG Releases Feverish and Surreal Visual for Anthemic “Alexandria”

In 2004, the Adelaide, Australia-born singer/songwriter Romy Vager left her hometown, a teenaged goth kid runaway drawn to Melbourne, Australia. Upon arriving in Melbourne, Vager’s first band Sooky La La wrote material centered around anger and discordance. They were misunderstood, never found a following and they routinely cleared rooms. Eventually, the band broke up and Vager committed herself to write songs that people would actually like and want to listen to — doing what countless other aspiring songwriters hope to do: match alienation and loneliness to melody and introspection to enormous hooks and refrains. 

For a while, she was living at The Bank an erstwhile recording, rehearsal and performance space that took over an old bank building in Preston, Australia, a suburb about six miles from Melbourne. The Bank was a scene unto itself: bands like Jalala, Gregor and Hearing all played there, practiced there and lived there. Living in an enormous house surrounded by musicians, who were constantly working and refining their work was profoundly inspiring to Vager. 

In September 2015, Vager launched a tape of solo material that hadn’t actually been pressed and landed her first solo show at The Bank’s downstairs performance space. She recruited Drug Sweat’s and The Galaxy Folk’s Angus Bell, her Bank neighbor, Gregor’s and Hearing’s Reuben Bloxham and Rayon Moon’s Marc Nolte to be a one-off backing band. But as the story goes, once they played together, they all realized — without having to actually say it — that they were a band. Initially forming as Romy Vager Group, the band shortened it to RVG. 

The members of RVG recorded their full-length debut A Quality of Mercy live off the floor at Melbourne’s beloved and iconic rock ‘n’ roll pub, The Tote Hotel. Initially released to little fanfare — no press releases, no music videos, no press photos of the band or any other industry standard press push, their full-length debut, featured material heavily inspired by the likes of The Go-Betweens, The Soft Boys and The Smiths and centered by Vager’s passionate and achingly vulnerable vocals. Much to the band’s surprise, A Quality of Mercy won them attention and praise across their native Australia and elsewhere. The band signed to Fat Possum Records, who re-issued A Quality of Mercy, which helped them achieve a growing international profile. And building upon it, the band has toured across the world with the likes of Shame and Kurt Vile.

While much has changed in the professional and personal lives of Vager and her bandmates, the world has become an increasingly dire and fucked up place with hate, pessimism, greater inequality and economic insecurity as part of an old, new normal. Artists across the world are responding in a variety of ways. Interestingly, RVG’s latest single, the Victor Van Vugt-produced “Alexandria,” was part of handful of songs that Vager wrote as a response in the immediate aftermath of Brexit and Trump. And as a result, the song is ardent and urgent. Centered around subtle layers of jangling guitars, pummeling drums, a rousing and anthemic hook and Vager’s plaintive and earnest howl, the new song gives the band a subtle studio sheen without scrubbing the material’s grit and emotional center — Vager’s earnest, gravelly howl. “Alexandra is a song which came together quickly, but which felt like it uncompromisingly needed to be recorded,” Vager told The Fader. “The lyrics, [which] describe a story of personal oppression at the hands of one’s community, [are] an allegory for the broader oppression marginalized people are subjected to.”

Directed by Triana Hernandez, the recently released, brooding and cinematic visual follows the shellshocked members of RVG drive to a local hotel, drinking copious amounts of tea, brooding in various hotel rooms and urgently performing the song in the hotel. It’s a feverish and surreal dream. 

New Video: Surf Curse Releases a Brooding and Cinematic New Visual for “Hour of the Wolf”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Los Angeles-based indie rock act Surf Curse, and as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of Reno, NV-born, Los Angeles-based duo Nick Rattigan (vocals, drums) and Jacob Rubeck (guitar) can trace their origins back to when they formed in 2013 back in Reno. And since relocated to Los Angeles, the band emerged from their adopted hometown’s local DIY, all-ages, punk scene, developing a reputation as one of the region’s best contemporary live acts, amassing a fervent, die-hard following — at first locally and now internationally.

Slated for a September 13, 2019 release through Danger Collective Records, the duo’s forthcoming Jarvis Tavaneire-produced third full-length album Heaven Surrounds You is reportedly a coming-of-age epic, inspired by the cult films the duo cherished growing up — and sonically, the album finds the band making a bold and decided step forward. Earlier this year, I wrote about two of Heaven Surrounds You’s singles — the swooning, The Smiths-like “Disco” and the shimmering, hook-driven “Midnight Cowboy.” Interestingly, the album’s latest single is the brooding and melancholy “Hour of the Wolf.” Centered around shimmering guitars and Rattigan’s plaintive vocals, the song evokes an aching longing that brings The Church’s “Under the Milky Way” to mind. The band offer a cryptic note behind the story of the song, saying in press notes, “Look close. There is filth. Rotten gold. What good is blood if not to be swallowed. Whole and clean.”

Shot in a gorgeously cinematic black and white, the recently released video for “Hour of the Wolf” is full of inconsolable loss, regret, loneliness and lots of gore, as it follows a Bryon-esque like protagonist, as he and the world surrounding him go completely mad.