This piece appears in the upcoming AdHoc Issue 23.
Since her early releases as E+E, Elysia Crampton has jammed together sounds from disparate genres and geographical locations to articulate an immersive method of cultural commentary and personal storytelling. Spots y Escupitajo, her latest LP, dismisses conventional musical form, juxtaposing several 10 to 20-second audio clips that she calls “spots” with flowing, song-length tours through a world of processed electronics, sound effects, vocal signatures, and, more specific to this release, the sound of a slowly moving piano. Compared to previous albums, this one is spare, in a way that can feel elegiac; indeed, a press release for the album notes that it honors Crampton’s deceased grandparents.
In the below interview, Crampton discusses how her personal history and certain conceptual frameworks team up to undergird her music. Her statements build on a variety of sources, weaving together such notions as “becoming-with,” attributed to the theorist Donna Haraway, and the stories and traditions of her people, the Aymara, an indigenous group from the Andean region. Elysia Crampton plays with Earthly and L’Rain at The Park Church Co-op in Brooklyn on Saturday 11/4.
AdHoc: Your work bespeaks a strong political point of view. What are some challenges you’ve faced as an artist interfacing with and through the digital world, where meaning is easily distorted and taken out of context?
Elysia Crampton: I’m always treading the irrational in an attempt to uncover the project—beyond value logic, beyond linear time and progress, often having to contradict myself in order to get to where I need to go. Beyond the rational lies a dark, generative ocean that exceeds any value judgment or ethical assignment we would confer upon it, though it’s something like an ethical demand that leads me there, toward that night.
I’m always treading the irrational in an attempt to uncover the project—beyond value logic, beyond linear time and progress, often having to contradict myself in order to get to where I need to go. Beyond the rational lies a dark, generative ocean that exceeds any value judgment or ethical assignment we would confer upon it, though it's something like an ethical demand that leads me there, toward that night.
The more I live—making mistakes, being messy, tasting and touching this life where the anti-colonial is continually given (as we are irreducible to coloniality)—the more I find it unnecessary to seek clarity or wholeness, or even what one would consider an individuated standpoint. An example would be a clear-cut political view, able to fit neatly into a packet of lessons. I'm learning that those desires are, in many ways, detrimental to the project. What is the project? I'm still learning that, as it is something felt out in a kind of synesthetic anguish and ecstasy not just my own—a demand, a queer desiring for the abolition of what has been called subjection, an end to imperialism and coloniality as things that prefigure such forms of capture. It’s a desiring born from the movement of becoming-with.
AdHoc is seeking events and editorial interns to work in our Brooklyn office. All candidates must live in the New York area and be available 12-20 hours per week.
Tasks include assisting with copy-editing and fact-checking, research, ticket counts, social media management, handling music submissions, using Photoshop, zine distribution, and, after some training, writing contribution and show booking. You should have excellent research skills, a laptop, and familiarity with the local music scene. The ability to gain school credit for the internship is strongly preferred but not required.
Please submit a resume, cover letter, 2 writing samples, and a list of your top 5 albums and tracks of 2017 in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “SPRING INTERNSHIP 2018″ by November 15.
In #adhoclifeadvice, we ask artists we love to answer questions from you, our readers. This time around, The Hotelier frontman Christian Holden opens up about pursuing a career in music, interacting with fans, and his somewhat unpredictable songwriting process. This article appears in the upcoming AdHoc issue 23. The Hotelier will perform at Brooklyn Bazaar on 11/2 with Oso Oso, Alex Napping, and Common Holly.
@sinaivessel: should i do less music and more gambling
Christian: Deciding to do music full time may be enough of a gamble for anybody.
@emmathesadgirl: what are your thoughts re: fans sharing stories of how your music has helped them? does it ever get emotionally exhausting for you?
Good question. It’s an interesting dynamic. Yes, it can be emotionally exhausting. It can be frustrating for me to not be on the same level emotionally as the person I am talking to. Also, it can be confusing for people to be casual in that conversation. Like, some will act as if we are friends. But I appreciate the moments when I get to let someone be seen for how far they may have come by someone who had a small hand in helping them do that.
@sconeappthebeef: What motivates you the most when it comes to writing & how do you go about writing your music?
Motivation and I have a complex relationship. Mostly, the way I go about writing music is locking myself in my house and not coming out until I’ve made something. My ~process~ feels pretty outside my ability to really nail down. There are a couple different people that I am when I write a song. One has a wild imagination, one is a bratty music snob, and one feels like a procrastinating high school student.
Feel like you need #adhoclifeadvice? Keep an eye on @adhocfm on Twitter, where we’ll announce the next round of questions.
L.A. Witch are a three-piece group of rockers from the City of Angels. Their rollicking sound blends together a myriad of influences–garage rock, harsh punk, and the surf-rock of their hometown. The band–singer and guitarist Sade Sanchez, bassist Irita Pai, and drummer Ellie English–recently released their debut self-titled album after three years of touring. The album’s nine songs showcase the band’s compact and tight groove: “Brian” could play on the soundtrack of a mirage-hazy western, and “Baby In Blue Jeans” sounds like the Supremes after one too many drinks. The songs, fleeting as they may be (the album clocks in at just over 30 minutes), are all climax, rushing headlong into a cathartic and devilish end. AdHoc recently chatted with Sade and Irita ahead of their show on 11/3 at Saint Vitus with Camera and Ghost King.
AdHoc: You've been together for about 5 years. How did the band start originally? Where did the name come from?
Irita: Our friend Tony added us to a show he was doing at Little Joy and needed a name for the flyer. We originally wanted just Witch but the name was taken.
Sade: We were a four piece originally. I was introduced to Irita through a mutual friend and we started the band. We lost our first drummer to New York. I knew Ellie from a two-piece band we had in high school and I asked her to fill in on some shows, then she just kinda became part of the band.
Are there any L.A. groups that had an influence on the sound of L.A. Witch?
Irita: The Gun Club, X, Screamers, Love.
Sade: The Gun Club was a huge one for us when we first started. L.A. has so much music history which helped a lot. A lot of great rock and roll has come from L.A., along with garage and surf, and I guess you can say we’re a blend of all that. We’re lucky to have been in the middle of a cool music scene when we started.
Boston’s folk-rock band Bad History Month is back with A Platitude and a Final Understanding a new song off of their forthcoming album Dead And Loving It: An Introductory Exploration Of Pessimysticism out November 3rd on Exploding In Sound. Platitude is a methodical and plodding track, a slow burner far from boring. It moves in slow, heavy steps through a train of thought as thick as the wettest snow of early November. A Platitude is an isolating walk for singer and main songwriter Sean Bean, filled with personal regret, doubt and introspection. The song shapes a sparse musical biome of electric guitars and slow drums lead by Bean’s vocals, weaving a quiet, but impactful sound that prove he is losing, but isn’t lost.
Bean, who is notoriously private, often changing his name in order to avoid the attention that his music brings, puts the listener in between his ears. He is searching to find something new within himself. At the climax of the track there is a moment of clarity signaled by an organ and piano where, Bean recognizes both his gratefulness to the world around him, and his greater desire to help himself because there are “more than enough fuck ups.” As the moment of clarity passes, he feels himself sliding back into old ways of the song, recognizing a cyclical nature of growth and regression. There are two voices here in unison, speaking towards a final result of synergy and creation. Through the sense of failure and self loathing there really isn’t a failure, there is a song. There is a clarity that is crystalized through the repetition of making music that is both cathartic for the artist and listener. Bad History Month opens for Pile at Market Hotel on 12/9.
Vancouver rock band Jo Passed, the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Joseph Hirabayashi (Spring, SSRIs), has shared the visuals to "Pet Crows," a standout tune from his 2016 Up EP. Animator Liam Hamilton conjures up aggresively strange hand drawn images to soundtrack the song's fitful, unconventional movements. Hirabayashi says the "the characters Hamilton comes up with are fantastic, likely decent halloweeen costumes too." Hamilton is also touring as a drummer on Jo Passed's upcoming tour, which stops through Brooklyn at Union Pool on 11/3, supporting Ratboys and DAGS!. Check out the delightful, and somewhat disturbing, halucinatory video below.
Danny L Harle is an experimental pop musician intimately connected with the London-born PC Music label. As a producer, he crosses international borders, collaborating with artists from Asia, Europe and the US and creating a unifying, global pop sound in the process. His latest EP, 1UL, showcases his production skillset and inclinations: maximalist, sugar-sweet melodies with expressively pitched and edited vocals. Danny spoke to AdHoc about his music and his vision for the future of pop ahead of his Halloween show at Brooklyn Bazaar on Friday, October 27.
AdHoc: What are your thoughts on how PC Music has grown over the past four years, and where do you see it going?
Danny L Harle: There are always a lot of big exciting projects in the works, and that’s how we always operate. For me, the goal has always been to make music which is accessible, but is also deeply experimental in its heart and is an expression of things that I love. For example, releasing the Carly Rae Jepsen track is one of the pinnacles of what I’m setting out to achieve: it has its heart in the sort of trance music I love, and the kind of clarity of expression that I love. It’s just very exciting dealing with the pop industry, because there’s an open-endedness to everything.
There are various TV/film/game ideas that are always in the works. I’ve always loved kids’ TV, and I’ve always been into the fact that you can be completely experimental and kids basically don’t know what’s going on, especially under the age of three. I’m really into that, and I’m really into storylines of TV shows in that world—like the illogic of them [laughs]. That’s the kind of level that I’m at in terms of following narratives. I get it when there’s a funny monster that runs really far away then back to the front of the screen—like, very simple ideas. I’m into extremes of simplicity and I think kids are on that level as well. And really funny stuff, like the sort of thing that kids would find funny so it has to be really clear.
A long-range goal is sort of to infiltrate the world of pop music and push it over the brink of insanity. I like when pop delves into the realm of fantasy–I feel that pop music, and culture in general, points toward either reality or fantasy, and I really like that as an idea. I’d say pop at the moment is a reflection of post-EDM culture, which is like, “We’re done with the electronic stuff, let’s get real, with real sounds and with real people singing about real things,” but it’s a pendulum that swings from side to side, because of course this “real”-sounding music is just as fake as the EDM.
Ultimately, my heart lies in the more honestly fake-sounding music. I’ve been writing some Japanese pop music that’s coming out soon, and their aesthetics have been in that world for a long time. They can have a pop star like Hatsune Miku do a sold-out live show, and no one bats an eyelid. Whereas if she does a show in the UK, it’s presented as a more of an art [thing]. In Japan it’s just a live show from a pop star, even though she’s completely fake. I like that kind of pushing against reality, and it would be fun to push things more in that direction, both working with artists and with major label stuff as well.
Strobe Talbot are a happy anomaly, a longstanding trio that consists of Jad Fair and Mick Hobbs of Half Japanese and percussionist Benb Gallaher, all based in different countries. The release of their most recent record Funland comes a decade and a half after the last Strobe full-length, with a playfulness that belies their age as a band—it’s an album full of wide-eyed love songs like “Superstar,” a blissed-out two minutes traversing the feeling of being “in the arms of happiness, in the arms of yes it’s true, in the arms of me and you, in the arms of love.” With Fair’s declarations, sitars roll alongside a choir of spectral voices in a giddy, transcendent rush. Fair made a video with his signature paper cutting animations to complement the song’s staggering sweetness, with cats, birds, flowers, and one-eyed monsters looking on as human couples gaze into each other’s eyes. Set to the headlong drumbeat and dreamy animations, Fair’s wordplay sounds perfectly natural—“The best thing that ever done did / it is here and it will not hid / it will not slip and it will not slid / yeah, solid! Superstar!”
Stream the video below. Funland is out now on Moone Records, and the limited-edition vinyl has a morphing hologram effect featuring some of Jad Fair's artwork (you can see a demonstration here).
Richmond, Virginia duo Lean Year released their stirring, self-titled debut on Western Vinyl last week. It's a somber, amorphous rock record that plays like a cathartic cry, hitting on folk, jazz and ambient art pop. We asked vocalist Emilie Rex and filmmaker/musician Rick Alverson to make a playlist of some of their favorite songs as of late. True to their record's wayward nature, the band's playlist contains some cosmopolitan selections–Ethiopian jazz for solo piano by Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou, Brazilian Tropicália sensation Tom Zé, Mexican national treasure Pedro Infante, Grammy-winning Malian musician Oumou Sangaré and more. Check it out below, and catch Lean Year at Alphaville this Friday 10/27!
Paul Simon - "Slip Slidin' Away"
So heartbreaking when he sings, “A good day is when I lie in bed and think of things that might have been.”
Ancient Ocean's music swells with gravity and delicacy, pummeling with subtlety. His upcoming release, Titan's Island, invokes the sublime vastness of the cosmic across its intimately otherworldly four tracks. It makes for gorgeous listening just as calming in the background as affecting in the foreground. The project's mastermind, J.R. Bohannon, spoke with AdHoc about composition and spaces, both familiar and extraterrestrial.
Let’s talk about your approach to composition. Do you start with a concept and build a sound and atmosphere around it? The opposite? Somewhere in between?
It generally changes. With this record, I actually spent a lot of time taking out layers from the compositions to open up the overall landscape. I spend a lot of time just tracking ideas and, over time, a complete vision starts to reveal itself—and thats what seems to make up a full album.