Sound of Ceres aims to mesmerize. The New York-via-Colorado synth-pop quartet brings its dreamy music to life with a unique live show, full of choreographed laser lights, reflective handmade costumes, and illusions inspired by early 1900s magicians. Founded by husband and wife Ryan and Karen Hover of Candy Claws, the Marina Abramovic-approved, outer space-bent group will perform at Alphaville for three shows this month in a residency for AdHoc. Each night will have an opener hand-picked by the band: performance artist Sarah Kinlaw on September 7, composer Dondadi (aka Connor Harwick of The Drums) on September 14, and a yet-to-be-announced “dream” artist for the final show on September 21.
Ahead of the residency, Karen Hover spoke to AdHoc about their psychedelic stage productions, touring with Beach House, and recording their latest album, The Twin.
You just finished a U.S. tour with Beach House, and you’re due to head back out with them to Europe soon. How was it playing with them?
It was great. We went out with them in May and we just did another chunk of time in August with them and it was great—really crazy venues that are way bigger than we’ve ever played before. It was kind of a unique experience to play in pretty opera theaters and ballrooms. [Beach House is] very light-oriented like we are so it was a very fun pairing. Basically we’re both very into visuals, but their set is a little higher-end because they have the budget to do that, versus ours, which is very homespun. It was fun seeing the two side by side.
On “Sugar & Spice,” the title track from Hatchie’s debut EP, the Brisbane, Australia songstress sings, “We could outlast it all.” Though the song’s lyrics revolve around an uncertain future, they could easily double as a mission statement for Hariette Pillbeam’s unique brand of pop music, which feels less tethered to modern conventions than it does to universal feelings, like longing and lust.
Hatchie’s songcraft relies heavily on massive, major-key hooks, with reverb-drenched vocals and jangly, shoegaze guitars giving depth to the EP’s intimate lyrics. Upon first listen, the tunes are honey-sweet, but repeat spins reveal some vinegar beneath the surface, like when Hatchie sings, “Baby, I’m a piece of glass, I shatter so fast,” on “Sleep.”
Ahead of her Hopscotch performance on September 6 in Raleigh, NC, Pillbeam spoke with AdHoc via email about her earliest influences, the story behind the Hatchie moniker, and when fans can expect some new music.
AdHoc: When did you first starting writing music? Is there someone in your life who inspired you to pursue music as a career?
Hatchie: I toyed around with ideas as a teenager, but didn't really write full songs until I was about 19 and started taking it more seriously. I wouldn't say there's one person who inspired me to do it; I've wanted to do it since I was a kid and always had support from family and friends. I always wanted to write my own music and play it myself, so I looked up to singers like Carole King and Jewel.
Meg Remy’s favorite topic of discussion is repression. The Canadian-American musician behind U.S. Girls has been discussing it in her music for years, whether she’s singing about patriarchy or late capitalism. Her latest album, the incredibly funky In a Poem Unlimited, takes on some heavy subject matter over the course of its 11 tracks. On “Rage of Plastics,” woman becomes infertile after years of working at a chemical plant. On “Pearly Gates,” another surrenders her body to St. Peter as a means of entering heaven.
While that all may sound depressing, the music is the opposite. For In a Poem Unlimited, Remy enlisted musicians from the Toronto jazz collective Cosmic Range, whose horns and thumping bass bring on disco vibes as the singer croons about darkness. AdHoc caught up with Remy ahead of her Hopscotch set on September 6 to chat about crafting dance music that makes people think, the tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church, and how she stays afloat while touring.
AdHoc: In a Poem Unlimited caught quite a lot of buzz this year. What does it feel like to have more people paying attention to your music?
Meg Remy: I’m always a pretty skeptical person. Although I’ve maybe climbed another stair in terms of visibility, I’ll be curious to see how it translates this fall. The turnover rate with things is so quick right now. When I’m [playing] a sold-out show, or [I] see people singing the lyrics—[those] real life like examples feel exciting. It also feels very right. I’ve been working for 10 years on this project, and if I’ve been working for 10 years, I should be having some sold-out shows.
It was fun. It was very interesting to do it how it used to be done—you know, like The Beatles or Little Richard or jazz singers would do multiple sets in a night for months on end. You learn stuff about the stage that you’re bringing to the next set. It was wild to do it once and feel how exhausting it was and to be able to recognize that people’s entire careers were made up of, you know, three sets, six days a week, for six months.
The music of Montreal post-punk act Ought isn’t known for its conceptual stability. Their first two albums—2014’s More Than Any Other Day and 2015’s Sun Coming Down—had more to do with considered existential anxiety than the sort emotional volatility characterizing many of the band’s less clever contemporaries. There’s an ornate dirtiness to their music, and while words like “thorny,” “wild,” or “agitated” come to mind, none of them really do it justice. Ultimately, that refusal to be pinned down almost works as a unifying concept.
Their most recent album—February’s Room Inside the World, on Merge—saw Ought departing from the gritty, live quality of those early records and teaming with veteran producer Nicholas Vernhes, known for his work with Animal Collective, Deerhunter, and The War on Drugs. But rather than sink into sterility, the band reinvigorated their music with additional instrumentation—including a 70-piece choir, on “Desire”—and some of their sharpest songwriting to date.
Ahead of Ought’s performance at Hopscotch on Saturday, September 8, we spoke to frontman Tim Darcy about the band’s creative process and what it means to make political music in 2018.
You've said you think about Ought’s most recent album as having more of a studio sound than the first two. How did you guys achieve that sound without compromising the live, raucous energy you’re known for?
We still ended up doing a fair bit of things live, and I think that really helped maintain that energy. We went in feeling like we were game for anything, thinking we might go track by track and really break every element down. We did a pretty extensive demo-ing process, home-recording all the songs. In some cases, we did like three versions before we went in with Nicholas. I think it’s totally case by case. For us, working with Nicholas was a really good fit, because he was excited about the record. He got the band.
So Nicholas was wrapped up in that process of maintaining the energy?
Yeah, for sure. I think a different producer could’ve boxed things off more. Obviously, he knows how to make a studio record, and that was something that we wanted, having done two extremely live records. I think we found a really nice balance. Having someone who’s a little bit more like, “Oh hey, let’s try this,” or who just grabs some random thing—that type of energy is much more akin to the world of live performance. We don’t really go home and come back with riffs; we’re always jamming, and out of these long jams will come a little pocket of an idea that we then play through [in] all these different manifestations.
A glitch is not always a fault. Sometimes, that chink in the machine can render new possibilities: a sound, a melody birthed of dysfunction. And with the right manipulation, that melody can sound gorgeous.
On his latest album, Mulberry Violence, Trevor Powers, formerly known as Youth Lagoon, has crafted an electric world that reprograms its defects into strengths: discordant arrangements breed balance, lyrics of loss and abuse emerge within crystalline harmonies. On album opener “XTQ Idol” robotic screams quiver and break; piano keys singe underway like overcharged currents; programmed beats ring out in metal clangs.
But Powers’ voice, layered and filtered like gauze, somehow bridges the cacophony. In an email interview with AdHoc, which you can read in full below, the Boise, Idaho-based instrumentalist, producer, and composer describes the album to AdHoc as a “tug of war” between “harmony and discord.” The result is a brooding, compelling embrace of our worldly condition.
AdHoc: In a note accompanying your recent single, “Playwright” you wrote that you ended Youth Lagoon because it “became a mental dungeon.” What gave you the impetus to break free, and what was the largest obstacle you had to face on your way out?
Trevor Powers: It was never meant to be something that continued. It was a muted, detached world I wanted to spend a bit of time in to examine memories. But I wasn’t about to set up camp there forever; I would’ve torn my face off. I said what I wanted to say in that setting, then burned it to the ground. I didn’t want to turn it into a disgusting money grab just because the name could sell a few tickets. It became its own organism, and I was luckily in tune with it enough to kill it when it told me it wanted to die.
My only concern in art is following the visions. Those rapturous flashes of imagination direct every stride. If I’m following those, I know I’m going the right way. Often the flashes only last for a second or two, so it’s critical for me to always be paying attention. Ideas truly are phantoms, and life is far less grand and appealing if those phantoms aren’t chased.
In many scenarios, I’ve found the most colossal of obstructions come from my own fear—and there’s no way around those obstacles except to decimate them completely. The war on fear is a strange one, because it can be just as inspiring as it is devastating. Usually my best work comes from the same thoughts that are trying to destroy me.
We first spoke with Mike Collins some years ago. He was still finding his way back then, producing music under the name of Salvia Plath — one of many punny monikers he’s recorded under throughout the years. In 2016, Collins unveiled Drugdealer, and with that new name came the kaleidoscopic glory of his latest album, The End of Comedy.
With its roots in the psych-folk melodies of the ‘60s and ‘70s, The End of Comedy is a vivid, dreamy record with guest appearances by the likes of Mac DeMarco, Weyes Blood, and Ariel Pink. Listening through feels like settling into an endless reverie; indulging in a swirling reprieve from life’s troubles. The record received a quiet flurry of love when it was first released — and Collins has been able to maintain the project’s popularity even as he’s taken his time recording a follow-up. “The response has been steady, even though it came out so long ago,” Collins tells me over the phone, “I feel like people are still finding out about it, all the time.”
The Los Angeles-based musician has been hard at work with a band made up of (mostly) skaters that he affectionately calls his “unofficial super-group.” We caught up with Collins to hear about what he’s been up to with his new band, his love of skating, and his pursuit of filmmaking. Read up below, and be sure to grab tickets to his show at Market Hotel tomorrow, August 11.
You’re a skater. How has being a skateboarder influenced your ethos, whether on music or in life more generally?
When I was younger, I wasn’t musical. There was a piano in the house, but my parents didn’t really play music. They largely listened to talk radio. It just wasn’t really a part of my life and didn’t care about music very much— I cared more about authors and movies and skateboarding, which was my first main love when I was about 8-years-old. The way I got into music was actually through skating.
When you’re a skateboarder, you’re extremely obsessive. You repeatedly watch videos of a skater you like. We would loop the same section manually on VHS. I never really realized it, but these repeat viewings of those skateboard parts meant that I was just listening to the same songs over and over again. And the music is almost more important than the skating: It says a lot about that skater’s worldview. I’d watch these videos and I’d be like, “Oh I like this part and I like this one,” but what I didn’t realize was that I really was just like, “Oh, I love this music.”
I had never really been a music fan before that. When it hit me was when I badly broke my ankle when I was 17. I was immobile for awhile. If you talk to a lot of people, this is usually the story — with a lot of young musicians that I know, they were once skateboarders that either just weren’t good enough or got really hurt, and they started making music instead. I sort of gave up on skating for many years after that, but I got back into it when I moved back to L.A. properly about four years ago. The thing that I find interesting is that I was influenced by a lot of this music that these skaters chose and I think that my music has started to reach some of them. It’s sort of been like an echo chamber, them reaching out to me and being like, “Oh I like this,” and realizing that their taste-making was partially an influence to it in the first place.
I don’t know if that’s a good answer to your question, but I just think that the community of skateboarding is a lot like the community of art — it’s complicated and everybody is sort of pushing off each other. The last thing I’ll say about it, is that it allows me to not be concerned with the music industry, which is a total godsend. I don’t think I could really be working on the music that I am right now without having this other outlet that takes me away from it. And I think that that’s a big part of why I love it so much.
Has your musical work ever overlapped with other skaters? Who are some of those people, if so?
Danny Garcia came up to me and told me, “I like your album,” and I was like “I’m a huge fan of your skating,” and slowly I basically begged him to be my friend. I realized he was a really, really talented musician and he started playing guitar with me. And then through that, I met a handful of skateboarders that I related to, having watched them as a little kid. He’s not playing with me anymore, but an equally legendary, amazing skater joined my band named Kenny Anderson. He’s played trumpet his whole life and nobody even knew that he played. Recently he started playing with me and kind of began promoting it, and a lot of people in the skate world are just really perplexed and excited about it.
Dave Benton is learning to walk away from what feels comfortable. For the Brooklyn-based songwriter, this means stepping out on his own with his new solo project Trace Mountains, and saying goodbye to the projects that led him to this point in the first place. Two years ago, Benton began the process by stepping down from indie beacon Double Double Whammy, the record label he co-founded in college. And in June of this year, LVL UP— the beloved DIY crew that Benton has been playing with since 2011 — announced their retirement with a final string of tour dates this fall.
Amidst all these changes, Benton was quietly working to release his first solo full-length as Trace Mountains. Self-released this March via Benton’s new label, Figure 2 RC, A Partner to Lean On puts a pastoral spin on the crunchy indie rock Benton honed with LVL UP. Bucolic images of “Rising water through the trees” and “Thunder trails under the mountain range” rise against the sound of pulsing drum machines, and Benton’s folksy, guitar-rooted arrangements oppose the record’s icy synths. The juxtaposition depicts an artist in transition, taking a personal leap of faith into new forms of songwriting.
You know Calvin Johnson’s band, The Hive Dwellers? My friend asked me to play this show with them, and I was just like, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do.” But I just started playing some of my earlier songs at that show. So the inception of the project was very spur-of-the-moment, with a friend just asking me to perform solo. It was a long time ago, though and [Trace Mountains] is pretty different now.
In past interviews, you’ve described Trace Mountains as a way for you to tread in more vulnerable territory. Do you still feel that way now?
Yeah, ideally. I guess it can be hard sometimes to not have things be veiled, lyrically. But yeah, that’s still what I’m going for with my words, at least.
Tanuki are charming beings. Otherwise known as Japanese racoon dogs, these foxlike canines have been the subject of Japanese myths and folklore for centuries. Often depicted as magical shapeshifters and carousing little tricksters, Tanuki are easy to love: so much so, that Hannah van Loon decided to name her solo-project after them.
“They’re super fun,” she tells me over the phone. “[A tanuki] is always down to party, and has these really big balls,” she says, laughing. This lightheartedness makes its way into her music: Tanukichan delivers gentle melodies that lull her listeners into a carefree reverie.
On her debut full-length, Sundays, the Oakland-based songwriter luxuriates in this dreamy mood. Co-written and produced by shoegaze mastermind Chaz Bear of Toro y Moi, the record largely feels like taking a sun-drenched nap in a field of daisies, with Hannah’s voice flowing over you like a soft breeze. But sometimes, Sundays’ sleepiness feels restless—like on “Hunned Bandz,” where grungy, distorted guitars soak the track and cloud her vocals, adding a note of uncertainty to her indiscernible lyrics.
We connected with Hannah to talk more about this emotional ambiguity, her unexpected side hustle as a carpenter, and her penchant for lyrical simplicity. Catch Tanukichan this Friday, July 27 at Union Pool, with support by Airhead DC.
Jerry Paper is one of the most lovable weirdo-pop entities in music. Toying with existential themes and ego dissolution, mastermind Lucas Nathan crafts uncanny, captivating tunes informed by muzak, lounge music, and bossa nova. Onstage, he transfixes audiences with gyrating movements that flow under his signature silk robe.
This fall, Nathan will release Like a Baby, his first full-length for Stones Throw Records. It’s his most approachable work to date, while never sacrificing the surrealism that makes his music so bizarrely satiating. We chatted about the transportive video for “Your Cocoon,” collaborating with Weyes Blood, and escaping New York City’s oppressiveness for his native Los Angeles.
AdHoc: Let’s start with this video for “Your Cocoon.” How did you get involved with animator Steve Smith?
Lucas Nathan: I met him when I moved to LA a few years ago. He was neighbors with the comedian Jay Weingarten. I’ve been collaborating for years with my friend Cole Kush who lives in Canada. Cole and Jay had been doing some stuff, and I was about to move to LA, so apparently Cole told Jay, Jay was neighbors with Steve, and we ended up getting together and collaborating. Steve is a genius. He’s just a really good animator. I love him.
Is that an actual 3D model of your head in the video?
The head came from another project that involved scanning my head. We went to this place where they scan all sorts of stuff. You go into a cube made up of very fancy cameras. It’s something like 250 cameras that are all rigged to take a picture at the exact same time. So you just get an insanely hi-res version of your head. I am very happy with what Steve did.
Greenwave Beth is the Sydney-based electro-pop duo of Charles Rushforth and Will Blackburn, who also play in indie-rock band Flowertruck. Their music captures what frontman Charles calls “a dance of agony”: that space where we move to the rhythm of our own anxieties and desires. Watching him perform, Rushforth seems to be quite literally in the throes of that dance, his body twisting and writhing to the beat of a drum machine.
The band’s latest EP, People in Agony, invites listeners to share in this dance. The four-track release features hypnotic drum and bass sequencing alongside Rushforth’s explosive vocals. On opener “Country,” surging synths give way to a frantic cry: “I can’t sleep through clenched teeth / not a boy anymore.” Moments later, on “Against Me,” Rushforth croons over pulsing beats, “Love’s a fight and we’ve spent our life on the ropes.” These restless deliberations on youth, love, and identity fill People in Agony with darkness, but also with the hope that we might learn to find some pleasure in these complicated states.
AdHoc spoke with Charles Rushforth about the new EP, his raucous performance style, and the Japanese “Mom and Dad” rock stars that look after him on tour. People in Agony is out now via Dinosaur City Records.
Greenwave Beth is a side project for you. What made you want to start it, and what are you doing with Greenwave that you aren’t able to do with Flowertruck?
Charles Rushforth: I suppose it’s funny calling Greenwave a side project—it definitely is one in terms of how much time it takes up, but it’s equally as important to me in terms of what I get to create with it. With Greenwave, I’m able to make music where I don’t feel hemmed in by the genre, whereas with Flowertruck I feel like I have to make a certain sound. Greenwave lets me work with other elements like violin or a choir quite easily, for example, and I know that won’t set anything off. I can play music that fluctuates between happier and sadder stuff, but it’s still got the same tone if that makes sense.
Yeah! It’s physically a musical risk, ‘cause we’ve got a lot of stuff cabled up and it doesn’t always work; stuff breaks and it’s really organic. It’s always funny to perform live, since we have a lot of energy and it can get kind of dangerous.
I remember being electrocuted at a house party once: I was standing in a pool of water in my socks, and this power board started freaking out because we were putting too much power through it. There were certain points on stage where I’d stand and get 50 volts going through my system. We didn’t stop; we just had to tailor that into the performance. I love that it’s always kind of risky, though—that feeling like you’re putting your life on the line every time you perform.