OTHER MUSIC'S NEWEST COLLECTION AT ACE HOTEL NEW YORK
Other Music curates selections of vinyl and CDs for Ace Hotel New York, and this is their latest collection. You can come check it out for yourself — everything’s for sale on the wall just to the right of the taxidermy birds. If you want something good to play in your room and take home with you, just call the front desk and they’ll send some things up.
KURT VILE — SMOKE RING FOR MY HALO
Philadelphia native Kurt Vile has been hailed as the next Petty, Seger or Springsteen, and with Smoke Ring for My Halo all these comparisons are more accurate than ever. This is a sincere, no-punches-pulled showcase for a towering talent, and the arrangements and care that went into Childish Prodigy effectively meet the songwriter who we met on his earlier releases, on his own terms. Those familiar with Mr. Vile’s body of work won’t be surprised at the very depth of emotion summoned here, belied by his deadpan vocals; these are songs of isolation and general unease, rendered beautiful by (and sometimes even despite) the certainty in his voice and actions.
VARIOUS ARTISTS — THOSE SHOCKING SHAKING DAYS
Those Shocking Shaking Days is as warped as a hash pipe run over by a moped; equal parts King Crimson and James Brown, this set of twenty stomping, stormy fuzzballs is packed with danceable beats, heavy riffs, and most importantly, hummable, memorable TUNES, not to mention some totally cracked vocals (often backed by angelic harmonies), and some heavy-hitting raw production. Several of the artists also infuse a heavy sociopolitical context into their songs; like many of the world’s most fertile music scenes, this one also flourished during heavily-censored dictatorship. Not only is the song selection flawless and the notes fathoms deep, but the tracks have all been properly licensed and thoroughly annotated in the massive booklet inside.
DJ Shred One, aka Sheila Red, co-founded the all-female DJ crew RRS FEED with her pals DJs Roza and Raichous (Shred One is in the middle, above). Based in Chicago, she’s gone from LA to Brooklyn and back spinning and touring with artists like Talib Kweli and Exile. She’s playing tonight at Ace Hotel Palm Springs with DJ Day at his weekly party, ¡Reunión!, and she talked with us about the endangered art of DJing, her collective, and the beauty of analog modes.
Tell me about your creative process and how you go about approaching edits and mixes.
I still dig and collect records, so finding new and old music is my main inspiration for making mixes and edits. When I discover a song that’s new to my ears and hits me in the gut, I like to fiddle with it. I’ve been using Ableton, and the more I learn the program the more I get inspired to create the music I hear in my head. For mixes, I like to record live as it keeps an honest element in the sound. In a world of digital perfection, there’s beauty in analog imperfections.
Cosmo Baker is a producer and DJ based in NYC. He recently shared the decks with our friend DJ Day at his weekly hell-raiser ¡Reunión! at Ace Hotel Palm Springs. Cosmo’s playing tonight in New York at Switchboard. Next month and months thereafter it will be at Ace NYC, but for this month it’s happening at Tammany Hall.
Cosmo’s been a champion of New Jack Swing, obscure, special and rad music for a long ass time. He talked with us about some of his projects past and present, and a banana he met this morning.
I heard you have a CD buried in a time capsule in Hawaii. Do tell…
Several years ago me and a buddy Scott Melker did a CD called “Live At The Spotlite” which was the labor of love homage to one of our favorite music genres, New Jack Swing. All that late 80s and early 90s stuff that sounds so dated yet at the same time is still incredible music, production values and songwriting. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure of mine and my knowledge of it runs pretty deep. This was back when it was still possible to sell physical product in healthy numbers as opposed to just putting things up online for download. So the reception for the CD was pretty fantastic, shipping around the globe. I know that we had some on sale in retail outlets out there on the islands, but as to how it got in someone’s hands and why they decided it was appropriate to put in a time capsule I will never know. But it’s pretty cool if you think about it, and when they open it up who knows when in the future, you’ll have an artifact that will represent two separate periods of time. Now whether or not they will actually have CD players in the future is another question.
What’s your history in Hawaii — do you have family there?
I’ve only been to Hawaii once, spending a few days on Kauai with some friends of mine. No question that once you’re out there, you feel the magic and the pull of that place. It’s a very powerful spot on this planet. And I was totally fine with just sitting in a hammock on the beach, beer in hand, doing nothing for 5 days straight. Life sucks!
Tell me about The Rub.
The Rub is a Brooklyn based DJ collective that consists of myself, DJ Ayres and DJ Eleven. We’ve been friends for years and Ayres started the party at Southpaw in Brooklyn in 2002 and I came up and did a few guest spots during the first year. Then in 2003 I moved to Brooklyn, at which point the three of us guys decided to solidify the partnership and we’ve been rocking ever since. We’ve taken the show all around the globe but always continue to rock the first Saturday of every month back in Brooklyn. Musically it’s incredibly diverse and also gives us a place to really open up artistically as DJs, and over the years the crowd that we’ve cultivated definitely have learned that it’s a completely different and unique thing from your standard club night in NY. And we’re stronger than ever, and I’m super grateful that we kind of captured lightning in a bottle with this.
Switchboard is based around the idea of “telephoning music” — the transportation that occurs when an artist interprets a piece of music. What do you have planned and what’s inspiring you as you get ready for the party?
I totally trust Sammy when it comes to his ear and artistic vision so when he approached me to do this I jumped at the chance. In my very humble opinion, the thing about art, or the creative process in general to me is that it’s a deeply personal thing. You put all this energy from your soul into creating something. It belongs to you and only you. But once you release it and let it out in the world, you relinquish ownership of it in a sense, and it ends up belonging to everyone else except you. So when a song is created, and when someone covers it or remixes it, it’s kind of like this cycle that continues on and on. Even as a DJ, the way one manipulates and edits the sounds, using layering or other techniques, you’re doing your own interpretation of prerecorded music. As for how I’m prepping, I’m just trying to pull some really fun, cool groovy shit that people will dig!
What project are you most excited about at the moment?
All the production that I’m working on and collaborating with others for a side project called Sheen Brothers, which is me and my homie 4th Pyramid. We’re looking a a few releases this year for that and I’m very excited about the initial response that we’ve been getting. Other than that, I’m writing a lot, and I’m traveling a hell of a lot. That’s tiring, but it’s still very exciting.
What’d you do this morning?
The first thing was drink some coffee. Then worked on the 4th Pyramid project that he’s putting out for SXSW. Then I ate a banana.
Favorite music right now?
Two things that come to mind — The Miracles Club which is a house music group out of Portland, and Frank Ocean who is an R&B singer from Los Angeles via Atlanta. Both of them are really fucking amazing. But there’s always so much music out there, both new and old, that inspire me. Every month I do a Monthly Top Ten Mix with some of my most favorite music at that moment. It’s kind of across the board but really representative of where I’m at in my head. But I don’t know, I just love music so fucking much it’s insane. I don’t know what i would do without it!
Nature is her boss. Neck like a crane. Numb feet from pounding metal on her knees all day. Hazel Cox is a local treasure in Portland — a good friend, collaborator and darling of Studio J (our friends John and Janet Jay who also make Pearl+ Soaps for us), and an inimitable innovator. She has been designing and handcrafting jewelry for multiple decades, jewelry that, when it hangs off your ears and neck and wrists, incites women (and men) at every street corner to ask you where it came from. It looks like math in a hot dress.
We put some philosophical questions to Hazel in a common language. She’s probably finishing up The View about now and tuning back into other frequencies.
A typical work day for you:
Wake and break, tea or coffee, yoga breath, emails, cat kisses, The View at 10:00, earplugs, hammer, anvil, drill, popcorn, General Hospital at 2:00, polishing metal while situational discussions tramp around in my thoughts, dying silk fibers to the perfect hue, emails, a walk, cutting bronze, engraving bad words onto sheet steel for practice while I have a snack break, packing and shipping out orders, answer the phone when Dee calls, day dream about other projects that I want to be working on with my lady pal Janet, order supplies, sharpen my tools, play some amazing air drums with my hammers to the music of WITCH when it comes on my itunes, etc…..
A tree you like:
Pine trees. They have the best resin for burning and their needles whistle in the wind. Nothing better than a long nap on the soft needle-covered ground in a stand of pines. The best part is they are everywhere on earth.
A song you like:
Right now it’s “A Forest,” The Cure off of Seventeen Seconds (again). I want this song to never stop when it’s playing…it’s playing right now. Well, it just ended so I am gonna play it again. This song where the land and sea meet. “Lost in a forest all alone, the girl was never there, it’s always the same, I’m running towards nothing, again and again,” some of my favorite lines. I have a fantasy of being lost in the forest with nothing but the trees and me forever. If I could play guitar I would play like that. Also, it is a glorious reminder of growing up oh-my-goth…
A cat you like:
Why you got to make me choose? Well, I prefer panthers and kool katz.
Will you please talk about these images in relation to your work:
This person really knows how to accessorize. I am into how gender neutral it is. These are the enhancers and protectors bound to this person’s soul. This is the spirit of their being.
I hope my work is this good. I also try for a reunion of the organic elements and my need to accessorize.
The first thing I notice in this image is that there are 5 eggs — this provides a perfectly solid structure. I also work in 5s. The way it is bound together is clever and simplified to only what is needed to keep the design clean and to make it possible to make many of them accurately every time. I like my eggs sunny side up by the way.
Photo from Natural Fashion by Hans Silvester. Egg photo unknown. Gif from one of our favorite blogs of all time If We Don’t, Remember Me. Go see it and thank us later.
Nightmare & The Cat are playing a live show with Vulpes Vulpes tonight Ace Hotel New York as part of our weekly live music series in the lobby, with artist Chris Tucci spinning before, between and after sets. Nightmare & The cat are a set of two brothers, Sam and Django, and a talented woman named Claire — and they’ve found something really good together. Stop by and check out their show if you’re in the neighborhood, it’s free and starts at 9.
When did the two of you start playing music together —- in the nursery? In high school?
Sam: I think our first ever musical collaboration was when we were about 14 and 11 and I had just started messing around on Garageband. We were in a hotel room in Vienna and we just screamed in fake German over a generic drum loop. We named it ‘Mein Fraulein’. The first Nightmare & The Cat song was ‘Sarah Beth’ which was written in early 2010…
What and who are your inspirations?
Django: I think Karen O was the first person I saw live who really blew my mind, I hadn’t ever seen such confidence in such a unique and bizzare performance. It was during the “Fever To Tell” tour and I was fourteen. She pulled fake guts out of her jumpsuit and threw it all over the crowd. It was amazing. What really motivates me is seeing the connection in the eyes of the audience, because there is nothing as good as being one of the lucky few being moved by an amazing artist, it feels to me like the closest thing to a myrical I’ve ever seen (assides from the circus)…
It sounds like you’re doing a lot of puddle-jumping for shows — what’s your favorite thing about traveling?
Sam: I love the first night in a new place… Taking in the smells and sounds and looking around. I feel very energetic when arriving in a strange city or town and have to go out and do something straight away!
How did Claire become involved and how has it affected the dynamic and aesthetic, musically?
Django: Claire went to high school with me and we were in a choir together, I always new she had a good voice and was a cool chick. When Sam started playing live and as we hung out more and more she became apart of his solo project. As I formed a band with Sam about a year or two later, I was very happy that Claire wanted to be a part of it as she has an incredible voice and is meticulous with her quirky instruments and sounds, it adds a ghostly atherial aspect to the band and I’d say having juicy three part harmonies stirs the soul.
If you had to choose —- who is the nightmare and who is the cat?
Sam: It definitely varies from day to day.
What did you have for breakfast today?
Django: Shredded Wheat cereal.
Please describe the shoes you are wearing.
Sam: Clarks Desert Boots, they have a kind of rusty metallic tinge to them. They are wet.
Chris DiMinno is head chef at Clyde Common, the celebrated restaurant at Ace Hotel Portland. Chris has innovated local, seasonal cuisine by working closely with regional farms and his brilliant staff to create an experience that woos newcomers and the Portland foodie old guard alike.
Food & Wine has nominated Chris for Best New Chef in the Northwest (which surprises no one). Go express your love by voting for him — the race to the finish ends tomorrow.
He shard some words with us about nerdy breakfasts, keeping dollars streaming back to local farms, and junk food.
Food at the Clyde riffs on the adventurous, regionally loyal spirit of the Northwest, with particular high notes in favor of Portland. When you’re creating the menu, are you thinking of locals or of Ace guests and other travelers coming through and experiencing this local fare for the first time?
When we’re creating the dishes, we think of everyone. There are certain dishes on the menu that everyone can enjoy, and then there are some dishes for the more adventuous eater. I like that I can work in a restaurant where two people can sit at a table; one person can order the burger and the other can order the crispy fried calves’ brains.
What’s your guiding inspiration for Clyde cuisine? The menu changes frequently but always has a recognizable personality.
My inspiration for the food at the Clyde comes from many places. It was somewhat of a coincidence that my style of food was in-line with Clyde before I even got to Portland. Now I base the food mostly on the pristine produce, meat and fish that comes from the Pacific Northwest, as well as my past experiences in other restaurants. I am also very fortunate to have a staff that contributes many ideas to the menu, and we all work together to make sure the dish is appropriate for the restaurant.
What are some of your most prized relationships with local farmers, fishers and ranchers?
I am very fortunate to work with many local farmers, and when possible we get as much of our product as possible from them. I love to give local farmers money. It really makes a difference. Our lamb comes from Cattail Creek Farm, and our pigs come from Square Peg Farm. Our produce comes from a variety of different sources in the area, and when the farmers’ markets are open, we are there three times a week.
Tell me about a typical breakfast you make at home on a busy morning.
When it comes to breakfast, I’m a bit of a nerd. I sort of have the breakfast on the back of the Honey Nut Cheerios box. A bowl of cereal, a glass of orange juice, a cup of yogurt, a banana and usually about 5 cups of coffee.
And favorite junk food in Portland?
Portland is amazing for junk food. I’m addicted to anything that comes out of the kitchen at Bunk Sandwiches, I’m a sucker for the enormous plate of Nachos at the Matador, and the burritos at Los gorditos are amazing.
Mindy Seegal Abovitz is the creator and editor of Tom Tom Magazine, and she is a force to be reckoned with. A drummer who noticed a glaring lack of representation for female beatmakers and drummers, she rose to the challenge and has, in very little time, taken her efforts from a side-project blog to a full color, beautifully-designed, totally engrossing and inspiring quarterly with booming circulation and a packed touring schedule — it seems every week they’re having a release party on a new continent.
Tom Tom holds its Issue 5 NYC release party, co-hosted by Kim Thompson (of KTMUSIC, and, until recently, a drummer for Beyoncé), in Liberty Hall at Ace Hotel New York on Saturday night.
I read that Tom Tom started as a blog, and I was wondering both what inspired you to start it and then how it transitioned into a magazine?
Well, I’m a female drummer, and I’ve been drumming for a really long time and involved in a lot of different groups that empower women to play music, like the Rock Camp For Girls and Vibe SongMakers, and I’ve also had my own personal allegiance to play with women my whole life. I don’t consume any drummer magazines because they don’t speak to me and never have. I was sort of sitting around wondering if there was a magazine for female drummers, and thought that if there wasn’t I wanted to start one.
So, initially the blog was a test to see if anything like this existed. I started the blog with that in mind — “here, I’ll just start approaching drummers I respect and interviewing them and posting it on this blog and seeing what happens.” And with that little experiment I discovered that there was no magazine like it and that we were, indeed, in dire need of something like that. The blog turned into a website and then some benefit shows gave me enough money to put out the first issue. And then it just happened after that. I decided it was a quarterly print magazine and it’s just been growing since then.
And how do you feel about special categories for women making music — is it limiting or liberating or both?
I believe it’s both, but because we’ve been living in a draught — we female drummers and female musicians in lots of specialty fields or whatever…or not specialty fields — we pretty much go unrecognized in the media. So, essentially, while it could potentially be holding us down, initially, it’s not — I believe that it’s really empowering and necessary. I feel like we’re asserting ourselves in the media. I do believe we’ll live in a climate where that’s unnecessary. Until it’s unnecessary, I do believe we need to have these places where we can go to communicate and share and promote each other.
In an ideal world, we would be represented in these current magazines and it wouldn’t be necessary. I would open a drummer magazine and see myself or someone like me and I could relate and I wouldn’t feel the need to have this magazine. But, right now that’s not the case. So, you know, it may appear to be a limiting sort of resource, but for me and a lot of other women and men that I know it’s totally necessary and encouraging and a move in the right direction.
Skooby Laposky is a Brooklyn-based DJ and producer who has held down a residency in the lobby of Ace Hotel New York every Wednesday night in February as Pocketknife. He just released a tribute mix of one of the last centuries greatest undiscovered artists, Arthur Russell — a cellist, vocalist, composer and disco artist who died of AIDS-related illness in 1992, leaving an overbrimming gem cave of unreleased material (many of them obsessive remixes of his own work) in addition to the four albums he released during his lifetime. Six more would be released (to date), compiled and produced by those devoted to his work.
Many of us are — there is an inexplicable spin cycle of revelation and effervescent melancholy that accompanies every phrase of Arthur’s cello, every flared-leg, platform-shoed beat galloping alongside his rich, vulnerable voice. Skooby is one such devotee — not only has he befriended a group of Arthur’s friends playing both well-loved and previously unreleased songs in their band, Arthur’s Landing, but he’s helped produce a couple of the tracks. He’s now working with some of Arthur’s old equipment (a few drum machines and an effects pedal) to create an EP, coming out this fall.
This resurrection of equipment used to create something held as sacred reminds us of Cornelia Parker's work — chopping up playing cards and lady's gloves with the guillotine that beheaded Marie Antoinette — and speaks to the importance of Arthur's work. Skooby, who's been DJing for the last 18 years or so, has played with a chamber music group and worked with the likes of Temper Trap, Lykke Li, Adele and other artists. He spoke to us about Mr. Russell, and the impact of who he was and what he made.
What drew you to Arthur Russell, or did you have a moment of discovery?
I’m trying to think of the first time I heard him… The thing about Arthur’s music is that he did so much stuff that I really heard it all at different stages. I don’t think it was like I got the compilations that Soul Jazz put out or something. I think I heard the disco stuff first, just from being in that community — the Loose Joints stuff, the Dinosaur L stuff — and then much later on, I heard the more avant pop stuff that he was doing. When I found that he was from Iowa which is my home state as well, you know, I guess his music kind of started resonating more with me. He came to New York from Iowa, I think he was in California first. But there’s this kind of Iowan — I guess he wasn’t a farm boy — but he was this Iowan guy that had some larger ideas that he wanted to seek out wherever the cultural center was, and I guess it was New York at that time.
Yeah, I didn’t really hear everything together. Of course, I did end up getting all of his releases, all of the compilation. Then, I started listening to every little song or piece I could hear that he had done.
He was so all over the place, and he moved between all these worlds. He was a cellist and a vocalist, totally into disco, and kind of revolutionized what that could be. He made dance music into something you could think about and have feelings about. Arthur was also really obsessive and prolific, and left over a 1,000 tapes of stuff that he recorded — this isn’t even his releases — and 40 of the tapes are actually just remixes of one song. He seemed more concerned with process and exploration that he did with finishing a product — he wasn’t concerned with having intelligible lyrics, or even sexuality or musical genre. He was just so in his own experience. I wonder how you, as a producer and a DJ, see that has having affected the world of electronic music, or disco, or just music in general.
Well, in terms of version and variations, and listening to people’s remixes — it seems like in the past maybe 5 years, every band, it doesn’t matter if they even have any anything to do with remix culture, there’s a remix of their song. Which I find interesting, you know, that you have these stems, these tracks that have this continued potential to become something else. And now, pretty much everyone has access to the same equipment because it’s so cheap and available. It’s great that there are people getting these ideas out there. Some of them may never happen or be fully realized like a lot of Arthur’s stuff, but the great thing about him was that he was doing this before — you know, it was pre-digital. It’s so easy to makes tons of variations of one thing when it exists digitally, and he was doing it all laying it to tape.
I’ve never really stuck with one genre. It’s funny, when I get booked for tours, for promoters to describe my style is hard because I don’t really stick to a genre. Even the Arthur mix is a perfect mix for me because I can go through a lot of different styles I like. That’s something that he did, so I was kind of trying to, in some way, trace his life. That’s the nature of how I DJ and how I produce. If you were to listen to, like, five of my remixes they would all sound like…some Spanish gypsy remix, and the next one is like a pretty straight-forward club track, and the next one could be a combination of the two. It’s never been my thing to be a purist. I know some people stick to their genre or their style, but the stuff I usually gravitate toward is stuff I can’t really pinpoint, or stuff that’s so purely its genre that I can see the brilliance in that, but a lot of times I am drawn to stuff that sort of falls between everything.
I don’t think you need to be loyal to one genre to be authentic as a DJ, you just have to have the courage to work with what moves you and inspires you, regardless of what’s cool or what’s expected of you. Arthur’s music is so much about emotion and vulnerability and being really present in that way. How has his music affected you personally — what kind of emotional imprint does it leave it on you?
His music has so much emotionality. The music and the lyrics have so much feeling. The song of Arthur’s that I listen to most is “This is How We Walk on the Moon” — just listening to it can inspire you so much. If I’m having a bad day, listening to this will totally bring me up. “It’s a talk in the dark, it’s a walk in the morning…” Which one is that? Wild Combination. Such an incredible song — if you’ve ever had that moment, experiencing that with someone you love. He really tells these moments in his music.