Princess Nokia flexes on "G.O.A.T." And she deserves it, too: coming off the explosive 1992 mixtape and riding high on a worldwide fanbase cemented by a blistering world tour, the New York rapper has earned a ride on her own coattails. And if the accompanying video for "G.O.A.T.," Destiny Frasqueri's first track since 1992, is any indication, Princess Nokia is enjoying her life at the top. Lounging on the three-wheel Polaris Slingshot as comfortably as she luxuriates over Wally West's icy throne of a beat, Frasqueri issues one-liners like edicts from a gold-bedecked (and gold-betoothed) monarch. Clad in "skinny jeans and a studded belt," Princess Nokia reminds us that she's become "that weird girl that's running shit."
When she stares at the camera and declares that she "changed rap forever, man," it's no coincidence that she includes the word "man." Eyes directed at the male-dominated, patriarchal industry, Frasqueri sets her sights on label bosses and other suits that stifle and marginalize femme voices, and brandishes normative signifiers of both masculinity and femininity to explode them both. Atop the rubble s(p)its Princess Nokia, festooned with a Yankees Cap and Air Force 1s.
Last year, New York’s Bing & Ruth unearthed their charming, sparse-yet-monumental second LP, Tomorrow Was the Golden Age. A suite of nine rather lengthy post-modern compositions, the LP bridged the worlds of contemporary classical, ambient, and chamber pop with a subtle grace that not easily achieved, at least this side of Julia Holter. Now, the David Moore-led ensemble’s debut album, City Lake, is getting a proper remaster and a wider release thanks to RVNG Intl. The video that accompanies “Rails,” the record’s warm, upbeat centerpiece, accentuates the humanistic character of Bing & Ruth’s music. Featuring blurry, impressionistic footage of a day’s train ride in what appears to be Southern Europe, the video portrays a world that’s honestly worth marveling at: while the destination is unknown and the train is moving through both clouds and sunshine, the passengers are confident in their togetherness, eager to make contact with each other or just calmly contemplate the changing landscape outside the window. It’s a rare moment of optimism that’s neither trite nor overly idealistic.
Pete Swanson may be most famous for his work in the celebrated noise duo Yellow Swans, whose six years together lead them to acclaim in the experimental scene, with releases on labels like Root Strata and Type. Yet, Swanson also has a longstanding solo career, with a sound that is continually evolving. Most notably, he is a case study of an American musician whose work is slowly crossing over the boundary from noise to techno. The early stages of Swanson's transition to more dance-oriented music was in 2010, when he recorded Man With Potential in an isolated spot in Oregon, shortly before moving to New York in 2011 to begin an accelerated nursing program at Columbia. In New York, a scene of similarly-minded musicians with noise backgrounds were an apt audience for Swanson's new record, attracting him a fresh following. Swanson is once again switching up locales, soon ditching the east coast for Los Angeles, where he will seek out employment opportunities and take advantage of more spacious accomdations for his musical projects. We recently took some time to talk to Swanson about his experiences in New York and the ongoing convergence of techno and noise into the powerful hybrid it has become.
AdHoc: It’s sad to hear you’re leaving New York. When did you move here and what stuff did you see right away that you really liked?
Pete Swanson: I moved to New York in summer 2011, and I couldn’t really go to shows very much for awhile because of a very accelerated program I was in at Columbia. One of the first shows that I saw was actually a Bunker show with Rene Hell, Keith Fullerton Whitman, JD Emmanuel, Raglani, Led Er Est, and Kassem Mosse. It was kind of bonkers! Actually, one of my favorite things about that show was that Rene Hell managed to get really drunk that night, and he was leaning over pretty heavily on the table while he was playing one of his laptop sets. You probably know his music is getting more and more abstract, and there was this point where it was getting very, very quiet, but then it just stopped. He was just sitting there; he didn’t move at all, didn’t change his expression, and was just pawing his mouse. It seemed to take way too long, somewhat more than a minute. Eventually the promoter came onstage and tapped him on the shoulder to figure out what was going on, and it looked like he just tapped the space bar and all the sudden all of this crazy noise started coming out of his computer after total silence for that time. It turned out his computer had crashed, and he had to reboot it. He was drunk enough it didn’t really register, so he restarted it onstage without letting the crowd know, and it took forever.