Rose Dorn Interview (2020)

words by Nayra Halaijan

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(Rose Dorn, Jamie, Scarlet, Joey, from left to right)

Los Angeles-based band Rose Dorn made a stop at the KUPS Studio in September to chat with General Manager Nayra Halaijan. Band members Scarlet, Joey, Jamie, and their friend Derec (OMW2HEAVEN) talk about all things involving music, LA, and every possible tour snack you could imagine.  

How has tour been for you all so far?

Scarlet: It’s been good. We’ve only been like four days out. It’s been really beautiful. I’ve never been to Portland or Tacoma so that’s cool. A lot of beauty.  We took the 5 to Oakland and from Oakland we took the coast and it was a cool drive. 

What has been your favorite place so far to play?

Joey: Arcata was really interesting. It’s in California near Humboldt and we played this joint liquor store- bar- sandwich shop.

Scarlet: That has been the most fun show but our favorite place so far has been Portland.  I mean we just got here (Tacoma) but I bet once we adventure this will be our favorite place. It’s just unknown! It looks really cozy and the air feels clean.

So you just released “Days You Were Leaving” on Bar None Records. How have things changed since that record for you guys? Since recording and releasing it?

Scarlet: I think a lot has changed. We recorded that two years ago and I think overall our lives have changed and maybe our music has changed. We have been playing around with the songs on that album up until the final cut of it, which was not much before the release of it. Jo: I would agree. We’re very perfectionistic so we just kept sending the producer notes up until the end. Ja: And I feel like we play a few select songs very differently. Our tastes change and our lives change. Jo: Definitely. A couple of the songs, I think the recordings on the record were like our third time playing them. S: We were there and we thought, “why not just try?” and it worked out super well.

How does your songwriting and recording go for you all? Is it usually collaborative? 

S: Each of us writes a skeleton of a song like the basic structure and maybe some lyrics. Then we bring it to practice and we can all work on constructing it or deconstructing it or adding parts.  It’s really cool and special that we all get to have a part in it.  Especially in the album, but even in the EPs, they are all very collaborative and no one specific person takes over. Jo: Same with recording. There’s not one set person who does the guitar track or the bass track.  We feel out the song and it’s cool.  It’s constantly rotating who does what.

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(Rose Dorn opening for Girlpool and Snail Mail at the Teragram Ballroom in May 2017) / (Photo by Maximilian Ho)

When I first saw Rose Dorn at the Teragram Ballroom in LA, you opened for Girlpool and I remember Joey came off of drums and played guitar.  Is that something that still happens? 

Jo: Yea. We pretty much do that every show.

How did you feel about playing that show?

(Photo by Luca Lotruglio)

Jo: That was a blast. That was like our third show ever and it was a great lineup. We felt pretty small up there but people were so nice.  We played very carefully. 

How does it feel to play in LA versus on tour?

Jo: Phew… interesting question. Ja: We’ve been really excited to not be playing in LA for a few days.  S: It’s fun to be completely unknown and completely strangers.  Everyone is pretentious in LA. Ja: We’re allowed to say that because we’re from LA. 

How do you think growing up in LA has shaped your music, your sound, and who you are as people?

S: Joey and I were just talking about this yesterday actually. Growing up in LA and being a musician under any department is very lucky.  It has definitely helped and been super motivating to see other artists and other people doing their thing.  Something about it, and leaving town, it’s definitely a privilege to play in a band. Joey and Jamie and I just met and started playing in a band and it just worked out. Ja: We’ve never really started a band in any other city. Jo: It’s not really an LA thing (starting a band) but I think of songwriting as a very cinematic thing. 

Have you been listening to any podcasts on the road? What keeps you entertained?

Jo: Besides the alphabet game? We love the alphabet game. D: We listen to a show about cops. S: It’s so interesting and it goes into specific stories and the backgrounds of them. We were talking about listening to a new one. Jo: This one called Case File. He wrote his number one episode about a crazy skydiving accident in the UK, but I’m not telling them anything.

Everyone: No spoilers!

Jo: Everyone should listen to it. It’s real wacky.

 Have you been listening to any music on the road?

Ja: No. Nothing. *collective laughter*  S: We sing. I’m not even joking.

Scarlet and Joey running around University of Puget Sound campus. (Photo by Derec Patrick)

Do you have one song that’s been on repeat? 

S: We just kind of sing over and over again. Jo: Barbershop quartet-ing it. We’ve been listening to Lana’s new album and Alex G’s new album. D: We’ve been listening to Neutral Milk and Mountain Goats. School House Rock, even. S: I was falling asleep and it was like… “three is a magic number” Ja: Oh! Zenzenzense by RADWIMPS. RADWIMPS are this amazing Japanese rock band and they did the soundtrack to this really amazing movie, “Your Name”.

That soundtrack is so pretty and twinkly. I hear a lot of slowcore and shoegaze-y influence in your music. Did you grow up listening to that or is that something that you recently came into? 

S: I think it’s something we all grew up listening to. Kinda like Elliot Smith and the Verve for me. I think they all had some sort of impact somehow, without even realizing it. Jo: I don’t even know if that’s what we wanted to do.  Even when we were recording we were playing very carefully so every song had this slow intentionality to it. It wasn’t really a decided thing, it just showed up on it’s own. 

What’s your go-to tour snack?

D: These are the biggest snackers I know.  I eat meals, but they only eat snacks. It’s insane. S: Okay… Every type of Hubba bubba. I’m trying to get every flavor I see at gas stations. And Bubbalicious. They’ve been getting Subway a lot. Jo: Once…okay twice. S: That’s a lot. That’s enough to say a lot. J: Derec and I realized we’ve been getting the same sandwich. D: It’s the veggie pattie, which isn’t vegan PSA. We’re mostly vegan. Spinach, bell peppers, pickles, olives, pepperoncinis, white mustard, salt and pepper, toasted. I usually get a bag of Mrs. Vickies. S: I love Chex Mix. Even though I’ve only gotten it once this trip I’m waiting to get it again. Also Skinny Pop Popcorn. D: We’ve been noticing a lot of innovations in candy, that’s really exciting.  S: This is all we’ve been eating, we have another week and a half. No Taco Bell yet. 

What do you do when you’re not making or playing music?

S: Joey and I make smoothies at the same place and I also work for a clothing company.  Ja: I’m a baker. I make cupcakes and cookies and assorted things like that. Jo: I work at a record and bookstore down the street from the juice shop. I do some writing here and there. D: I do lighting for fashion photo shoots. 

Are you recording anything new anytime soon?

S: So we’ve been working on this album for about two years so we do have some new stuff we’ve done.  We haven’t talked about it in depth so far so we’re just going to finish up this tour and maybe hop on the next boat. 

J: Hopefully October I think. 

awakebutstillinbed Interview (2018)

Words by Hugh Schmidt

Photo: Hugh Schmidt

In 2018, San Jose emo band awakebutstillinbed (Tiny Engines) released their debut LP “what people call low self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you” to critical acclaim, and have been touring non-stop ever since. Before their show at Chop Suey with Alien Boy, Sunsleeper, and Sundressed back in February, I sat down with songwriter and guitarist Shannon Taylor to talk about tour planning, favorite San Jose bands, and a little bit about her writing process. 

So, is this your first co-headlining tour?

Yeah, kind of–we did a DIY tour with Football, Etc. and people treated it like a co-headline when we did it, but I didn’t intend it to be. In my view that was more like a DIY tour package where it was two bands, and then I wanted to have local headliners and local openers, but no one did it that way. They all booked it like, local opener, local opener, awake, football, when what I wanted it to be was local opener, awake, football, and then local headliner, but no one did that because they all thought we were going to be big. That’s why that tour was weird. 

Did that set up any strange expectations for this one – are you nervous?

Yeah, I am, this is our first co-headline and I didn’t really wanna do a co-headline.

Why’s that?

Because I don’t feel like this band is at a point where that’s what we need to be doing, especially not co-headlining big venues like this. This room is really big, and there’s a decent crowd here– I’m really stoked about that, but I feel like the band should be playing smaller rooms, and focusing on supporting other bands, bands that are larger than us. Just playing to people who already like our band isn’t really doing anything for us, because we’re not big enough where that’s a thing. I feel like some bands do that because they’re really popular, a band like Joyce Manor headlining makes sense because they’re so popular they can just go on tour to support their record and their fans will come, and also it makes them money. It’s really different when you’re at that point and I definitely don’t think we’re there yet. I don’t like all the expectation to be the draw, it just doesn’t feel appropriate. 

This past year, y’all blew up in terms of popularity. Did that set up any expectations you were uncomfortable with, especially on top of that huge DIY tour where people said you were going to die? Was that weird or scary for you?

Well I booked that tour, so I knew that tour was gonna be what it was–that tour was stupid. It was great, it was amazing, I’d always wanted to do a tour like that. There’s no possible way I could have realized how unnecessary that tour was until I did it, because in my brain that was the tour that I always wanted to do–because I wanted to see the country. And I did that, we played in almost every city you could think of. I was just talking to Tristan from Dogbreth about this, when I had the concept of doing a big tour like that, I had wanted to do a tour like that since when I was pretty young, and I had this idea that I would be in a band that absolutely nobody knew, so every single show you played, nobody would be there to see you so you would have to play and impress them. That’s always what I imagined would happen. Well that wasn’t really what happened with awake, because awake was already at a point where we were driving people, not gigantic crowds but every single show we played we brought out 5-10 people at least. So we ended up just doing an oversaturation tour, and I didn’t really realize that would be a problem for bands like us, but it is. 

The first time we played Salt Lake City, there were a ton of people there. The second time we played Salt Lake City there were way less people, and the last time we just played Salt Lake City, almost nobody watched us even though a ton of people were there for Sunsleeper. We’ve played Salt Lake City four times since the album came out, we don’t need to play a market like Salt Lake City that many times. I think Mom Jeans has played Salt Lake City maybe twice in their entire lives and they’ve been a band for like 4 years now. 

This is our 4th Seattle show, and we did our first tour in January last year. That’s crazy, no one needs to play Seattle four times in a year. Two times in a year would have been “Oh, you guys are touring a lot,” so we definitely overdid it. It was sort of aimless, at that point you’re touring just to tour. If you’re a band that has nothing going for it, that’s how you do it. There are bands I know that dont have any press, and that sucks that it’s like that, that it’s hard to get attention, but I was prepared for that. When we did our big tour that’s what I kind of thought it was going to be like but then it totally wasn’t.

We played Lowell, Boston, Providence, and also Northampton, we didn’t have to do that–we could have just done Boston and all the same people would have come. That’s the other thing, what I didn’t realize, is that people will drive to your show. When we played in Providence and we played in Lowell, if we had just played in Boston, people from both those cities would have just come to the show in Boston. If they didn’t, it’s fine, we’ll come back later. I think I had this idea that I was never going to be able to tour again, I kind of saw it like “this was my shot, this was my chance.”

It’s funny though because that tour there were already shows with people trying to get us to headline or booking us at big venues. Our second full US tour was like Mexico, Canada, with some USA sprinkled in, and the first time we ever played Toronto the promoter booked us at this large venue called the Baby G. Now the Baby G isn’t a huge venue, it’s maybe 250 capacity which is small in the grand scheme of things, but for a band like us it’s really big. And he booked us there, and we had an amazing show, we played to a really enthusiastic crowd, but there were probably 45-50 people there. And he was like “Sorry there’s not more people”, and I was like “Dude that’s a lot of people, I was just freaked out that the venue was so big”, and he was like “Sorry I thought you guys would fill up the venue”, and I was like, why, why would you think that, this is our first time playing Toronto and our record came out, at that point, 7 months ago, our first release ever; it’s just bizarre that people would think we had that pull. Whenever people think we’re more popular than we are, it freaks me out so much. 

Looking back, can you think of any bands that you saw when you were just getting into your local scene that inspired you to make music or make music differently?

Yeah, I got into the San Jose scene through my first band, and all of those people, at our first practice, they were like “We gotta give you an initiation into what San Jose DIY is”, they played me Hard Girls, Shinobu, and Leer, at that point they had only put out their first EP, before they put out their LP and became a big band, and also Pteradon, The Albert Square, and a bunch of other San Jose bands. All those bands were the foundation for me getting into DIY punk and stuff, obviously I got into stuff that comes from DIY before that, like Cap’n Jazz and stuff, but then I met these people and got into the local scene. 

So you’re writing a new record, can you tell us what that process is like? self-esteem was written over a long period of time, so is it a completely different process for you writing this new one?

Sort of, the songs are all coming out along the same pathway, the way I write songs they just come out. I never sit down trying to write, they just sort of come out of me. It does feel really different from self-esteem, because that record started out as me wanting to do a solo thing, because all the other times I’d ever done music, they were always with other people who were helping me write the songs. I had fronted or at least partially fronted, the other bands I was in, like in Jr. Adelberg I sang lead, at least for the first ep, but then we switched off for the others. So self-esteem was a conscious decision to do a solo thing, so it was harder to get in the groove so it took a lot longer to start because I was scared to write my own songs, because I didn’t think anyone was gonna like them. I almost didn’t know how to do it. I had written songs before but it was scary to do it myself and I had this really high bar, I still have the same bar but I’m so much more practiced since I’ve written those nine songs. I’m so much more confident now that the other songs are just so refined that I’m less worried about them being good. I’m still worried about them being good, but not to the point that I’m not writing anymore. Before I was so worried about them being bad that I just wasn’t writing them. 

Last question, do you have anything that you like to do before you play a show? Do you have any pre-show traditions or warm-ups?

I definitely do, before I found you for this I was doing my vocal warm ups that I do everyday of tour. I guess you might call them intense–I have to do 15 minutes of breathing exercises, 30 minutes of scales, and then I do about 15 minutes of vocalizing, so that I’m actually singing the parts. My voice gets rusty, it’s hard to to sing these parts every night and not lose my voice, and I think I do a decent job. Especially because I’m playing bass in Sunsleeper on this tour, and there’s a song where they have female vocals doing harmony, and so they asked me to sing that and do back-ups for other parts, which is fun but it’s a lot of singing when I still have to do my set too. So that’s the hard part of this. 

awakebutstillinbed embarks on yet another US tour next month supporting Worriers and joined by Pity Party. Check the dates below and check out their Facebook page for more information. 

5/15 Ithaca, NY

5/16 Portsmouth, NH

5/17 Montreal, QC

5/18 Albany, NY

5/19 Brooklyn, NY

5/20 Philadelphia, PA

5/21 Baltimore, MD

5/22 Pittsburgh, PA

5/23 Cincinnati, OH

5/24 Chicago, IL

5/25 Howell, MI

5/26 Toronto, ON

5/28 Iowa City, IA

5/29 Omaha, NE

5/30 Laramie, WY

6/01 Reno, NV

6/02 San Francisco, CA

Music, Magic, and Healing: An Interview with Old Time Relijun’s Arrington de Dionyso

words by Evan Welsh

After a decade of silence, Olympia and K Records heroes Old Time Relijun have re-emerged and re-formed to respond to and confront our current socio-political mess with an enthusiastic and timely new record, See Now and Know, as well as an upcoming American tour.

Visual artist, This Saxophone Kills Fascists founder, and Old Time Relijun’s bandleader, Arrington de Dionyso was gracious enough to respond to a few questions regarding the necessary return of the band, the magical properties of the musical art form, and the process behind the group’s new record before the group hits the road in April.

* * *

KUPS: See Now and Know serves as the group’s return from a decade-long hiatus, why is OTR deciding to return now?

De Dionyso: Old Time Relijun isn’t just a band, we’re all part of a bigger plan and we each have our parts to play as the world turns and our stories twist and intentions merge. Right now the world needs Old Time Relijun more than ever before, so we just had to answer the call and try to do whatever we can to help out. I come from an age of optimistic idealism — we used to believe that music could help change the world. Facing such enormous evils as we are now with the encroachment of fascism upon our political landscape along with its handmaidens of racism and ecological exploitation, I know it seems like it could be a ridiculous proposition to try putting forward the idea that music can have any effect at all. However, I can state very clearly what I know from experience: music is a force for HEALING, and even more than physical healing, it can be used to provoke the healing of damaged imagination. As daunting as it seems, if we can use the music of Old Time Relijun and others to heal the damage that has been done to our collective imagination, we can easily, in turn, bring our medicine to the entire world. 

KUPS: What has each member of the band been doing during the hiatus, how have those pursuits outside of OTR influenced or changed this most current incarnation of the band?

De Dionyso: The band never “broke up” the way that bands sometimes do. We simply found ourselves in circumstances that forced us each to focus on other things — we were all living in different cities, occupied with sustaining families and careers in the global economy. For much of the intervening decade, I have been engaged in a form of “alternative diplomacy,” by fostering relationships between far-flung communities dedicated to the diffusion of experimental music and the decolonization of traditional musical expression throughout Indonesia, Japan, North Africa, and South America. After being attacked for my artistic expression by a baseless right-wing conspiracy theory, I also founded a group called This Saxophone Kills Fascists, which channels the spiritual power of post-Ayler saxophone medicine to dismantle white supremacist power structures through sonic vibration. Interestingly enough, the official saxophonist of Old Time Relijun, Benjamin Hartman, has used his own knowledge and experience of the saxophone to build a new career as an electrician. They don’t seem to be related at first glance, but they’re actually very similar!

KUPS: See Now and Know is a concise, bouncy, and furious record, and I’m curious to know if the process of writing and recording the album reflects the type of spontaneous spark of inspiration and energy the music seems to display?

De Dionyso: Thank you! I’m really glad that comes through. Things came together for this record quite rapidly, and in a certain sense, it felt like the songs kind of wrote themselves. Embedded within each song is a kind of magic spell — when I write songs I am much more interested in finding ways to translate that exact spark of inspired energy that happens in a  moment of creative impulse when you listen to the voice of imagination. My work has little to do with capitalistic notions of “personal expression” and everything to do with translating the unspeakable into music that people can move to. 

KUPS: How long have these songs been around for? Has everything for this reunion of sorts been created with the reunion in mind?

De Dionyso: The songs just happened on their own, like a magic gush of water springing forth from a rock. But, for creating the conditions that allowed that magic to happen, all the credit is really due to the hard work and diligence of our bassist Aaron Hartman. He produced the album in his home studio and it was his intense focus that allowed us to move forward as a band with a unified vision, not only in creating this record but in our continued existence as a touring entity as well. 

KUPS: The band is heading out on its first major US tour in a decade starting in April. what are you most excited about to be touring as a group again? 

De Dionyso: A lot has changed in the music world since we last toured as a band. Far too many people are getting most their music from tiny earbuds connected to a telephone and this to me is an obscenity to be abolished. Old Time Relijun’s music thrives when it can inhabit a space — when sound waves bounce along walls and move through dancing bodies — that is how the medicine takes hold. It’s crazy to think of people listening only with their ears — I think that what you hear with your ears is only maybe 10% or less of the overall potential cathartic impact of an Old Time Relijun experience. So in that respect, we owe it to our audience to put a little dragon juice in the van and bring it to the people that need it the most. 

KUPS: What has it been like practicing as a band for live shows again, and how has it been constructing a setlist with the new material?

De Dionyso: It’s been fine. We’re all just family at this point so band practice is just like a family reunion anyways. The setlist is constructed in a way so that the newer songs are highlighted in the midst of all the classic “fan favorite” tried and true Old Time Relijun “hits” that people know and love and tend to sing along with when we play live. The new album’s been getting a great response and so I hope folks will sing along with the new tunes too!

KUPS: I know you’re concentrated on the immediate future first, but can we expect another long silence from OTR after this album cycle is over or is this a start to a new long run of OTR releases and tours?

De Dionyso: Oh, I anticipate we’re going to be pretty damn busy for a while here. I’m looking forward to playing “I Know I’m Alive” on Colbert. 

* * *

You can listen and download “See Now and Know” right now at oldtimerelijun.bandcamp.com. Make sure to catch them live on their long-awaited, upcoming “Dragon Juice Tour,” dates below.

Old Time Relijun “Dragon Juice Tour” 2019:

4/25/19 Seattle, WA at the Sunset Tavern 

4/26/2019 Portland, OR at Mississippi Studios 

4/27/19 Missoula, MT at Zootown Arts 

4/28/19 Billings, MT at Yellowstone Valley Brewing 

4/30/19 Minneapolis, MN at 7th Street Entry 

5/1/19 Madison, WI at High Noon Saloon 

5/2/19 Milwaukee, WI Cactus Club 

5/3/2019 Chicago, IL at The Hideout 

5/4/2019 Detroit, MI UFO Factory 

5/5/2019 Buffalo, NY at Duende 

5/7/2019 Brooklyn, NY at Union Pool 

5/8/19 Philadelphia, PA at Underground Arts 

5/9/2019 Baltimore The Mercury Theater 

5/10/19 Asheville, NC at The Mothlight 

5/11/19 Knoxville, TN at Pilot Light 

5/13 St Louis, MO at FOAM 

5/14/19 Kansas City, MO at Mini Bar 

5/16/19 Denver, CO at Hi-Dive

Connecting the Dots with Perry Porter

One Friday night nearing the end of my first semester at UPS, I was advised to “hit-up the hip hop show in [some kid’s] basement on the corner of [some dead president] Street and [some number]th Avenue”. Blindly following the directions, I found myself opening the door to a jam-packed house that smelled of pot, sweat, and Rainier- I knew then, I had found the right place. I followed my ears down to the basement where I walked in on a small sea of people raising their hands and bobbing their heads to a clean rhythm and a sonorous voice. Before I knew it, I had joined the masses and was lost in fluent flow of this man’s verses and the kick of the 808. 

I came to learn that the voice I was hearing was that of Perry Porter- an artist who hails from the neighboring community Spanaway, WA. His deep, full voice and melodic flow is reminiscent of a young Jay-Z. His wholesome beats leave you satisfied with what you’ve heard yet eager for the next track. Familiarize yourself with the man, the painter, the musician, Perry Porter below, and make sure to peep his artwork on perryporter.com and perryporter.bandcamp.com.

Under it All main photo

Headaches main photo

“Under it all” ; “Headaches”

Interview

I am…

Perry Porter aka Black Brad Pitt aka Mr. Perfect. Hailing all the way from Spanaway, WA (SWAYSIDE) Hhmm, I see myself as a mid 40s Latina MILF who only likes white women… haha or something like this. 

I create…

Hip Hop Music and I LOVE painting pretty ladies (Mostly in Watercolor) but I wish I could sing so I could be in a jazz band. I’d sing about doing drugs and speaking to Robert Johnson and Tupac on three way. Haha yeah that’d be so sick. 

My daily routine includes…

Wake up, go back to bed, wake up, go back to bed. I’ll do that for a few hours then I’ll paint or write music depending on what my dreams or night was like. After that i’ll watch some anime or a documentary… Like, dude I LOVE documentary. You should check Century of The Self, that’s prob my favorite documentary ever. Too good man, too good. Oh and there’s this one about Ants that’s pretty dope but I forgot the title is haha. haha I guess Google it?

When I go to the grocery store, I always make sure to cop…

PORK!! Praise to the most high. Pork is the fucking truth, bruh. I need to try that bacon beer asap… anyway… I could go on about pork man. haha what else  is note worthy? hhmm Ginger Beer (Highly recommend it), Cinnamon toast crunch, dried mangoes, beer and condoms (highly recommend those too)…

and more pork.

I produce my best work when… 

While folding my socks. You ever rap to yourself while you fold socks, homie? That shit is therapeutic fuck, son!

My biggest inspiration is… 

Seeing women lose themselves within their art form, like when they’re performing, ya know?.. My favorites are Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday, Erykah Badu, Lora Zombie, Charmaine Olivia… and Skin Diamond. hehe

Stop what you’re doing and go check out… 

Dan Quintana. Dudes paintings are fucking insane! 

In four years you’ll find me…

Shiiiitt. I see myself high on shrooms in a slick ass three piece doing my first real art show in some big ass museum asking my manager if I can leave yet cause my favorite anime is on in 30 mins and I promised my puppy we’d watch it together. Music wise… at the Grammys, head down playing my giga pet and texting my friends how stupid this shit is before accepting a Grammy. 

You can find my work at…

PerryPorter.com, @PerryPorter (Instagram & Twitter), and perryporter.bandcamp.com

‘Pharma’: Nmesh Interview (2018)

words by Val Bauer

I talked to electronic artist Nmesh (Alex Koenig) about his newest release ‘Pharma,’ released August 4, 2017 on Orange Milk Records. ‘Pharma’ most notably took #7 on the Needle Drop’s ‘Highest Rated Electronic Albums of 2017,’ Resident Advisor’s 2017 ‘September’s Best Music’ and Tiny Mix Tapes’ ‘2017: Favorite 50 Music Releases.’

(Bandcamp/Keith Rankin)

First of all, compliments on the new album. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying listening to it and so have some of our other DJs. How would you say Pharma is different from your previous releases? What were your biggest influences in producing it creatively/personally/otherwise?

I feel like ‘Pharma’ was the inevitable culmination of all my plunderphonic work over the last several years.  I released ‘Nu.wav Hallucinations’ back in 2013, and that one was about as bare bones “vaporwave” as I’m capable of making.  It was intended to be a one-off conceptual release in which I tried my hand at making some ‘ecco-jams’.  ‘Dream Sequins®’, the follow-up to ‘Nu.wav’ on AMDISCS, was unequivocally a much needed experimental step in the right direction, and much more thought out.  I’ve seen people refer to it as what it might sound like if The Future Sound Of London made vaporwave, which I’d like to think is a fitting way to describe it.  Finally, ‘Pharma’ goes balls to the wall and turns all the rules and ideologies about vaporwave on its head.  It’s rather difficult to pinpoint any particular influence in the creation of the album, as I worked on it off and on over a period of 3-4 years.  I was listening to a lot of Hype Williams and old Ferraro, so that’s probably where the evidence of lo-fi / hypnagogic material kicks in.  Other than that, I spent a lot of time getting back into the experimental underground, so you could say I took a lot of inspiration from the output of labels such as Orange Milk, PAN, Hippos In Tanks, stuff like that.

What is your process when manipulating and arranging samples?

Depending on the track style, the sampling madness will either come into play immediately, or else once I have the framework down.  With the beat-oriented material, I treat samples as the finishing touch, or the icing on the cake – it’s a lot of random experimentation, trial and error, etc.  In my plunderphonic work, the process has a lot to do with spontaneous sample grabbing, and just mucking about.  With television and film, I habitually record samples on the front end of projects – if there’s a movie or a YouTube clip I think might contain some worthy bits, I’ll keep it recording in real-time and tidy up the reel later on.  I’ve amassed a colossal sample library by these means.  It’s a time-saver when it comes to the final stages of working on a track, and easily the most enjoyable part – I can just go in and start making ridiculously detailed edits and candy-coating everything with an extra layer of eccentricity.

As one of the most well-known artists in the vaporwave genre, would you still consider what you produce to fall under the scope of vaporwave? What is your opinion on the current state of vaporwave?

It’s 50/50 on that first one.  It’s a weird thing I’ve been struggling with for the past couple years — I’ve attempted to branch away from that pigeonhole, because I know my music falls more under a broader electronic spectrum.  Whether or not I’ve had any luck with that is hard to determine.  Not to say some of the material off the new album doesn’t fall under that umbrella, I just feel it’s not entirely accurate to continually dub me a “vaporwave” artist – but then again, what even is vaporwave in 2018?  The straight and narrow path of Floral Shoppe era has come and gone.  Vaporwave has spawned so many subgenres, and much of the music under the scope is simply guilty by association.

What have you been listening to lately? Any new releases you’re excited for?

Always a loaded question, and a pleasure to try and answer… Been listening to loads of Lee Bannon, Machine Girl, Asha Mirr, Simo Cell, all the usual ‘lo-fi house’ suspects like Ross From Friends, DJ Boring, Grant, DJ Seinfeld etc.   I recently discovered SEEKERSINTERNATIONAL through their dub rework of Red Snapper’s “Prince Blimey” and am currently entrenched in their discography.  In recent months, I had an itch to revisit all of The Black Dog’s albums that flew under the radar.  I’ve really been digging their minimal techno output, despite them sounding like a totally different group from the early days on Warp.  Albums such as “Neither Neither” and “Tranklements” have been on repeat. There’s been a surge in female electronic producers that have my fullest attention, such as JASSS, Yaeji, Pan Daijing, and Bosco on Fool’s Gold Records, who happens to also be a fan of my ‘Dream Sequins®’ record.  Laurel Halo’s ‘Dust’ might very well have been my favorite release of the year.  Kelela put out a phenomenal full-length debut on Warp, and as a bonus I discovered the awesome music of her tour-mate Lafawndah. Continually trudging my way through the entire discographies of James Ferraro, Software (thank you George Clanton for reissuing those gems), and King Gizzard (I’m fairly new to them, but thoroughly impressed with their already vast catalog of music – quantity nor quality is lacking).  I could go on forever…  I can’t really think of any upcoming records I’m excited for off the top of my head.  I’ll know them when I see them.

Lastly, are there any upcoming projects/releases/represses/mixes/anything else you have going on that you’d like to publicize?
Sure.  Although it’s been out for several months, I released a 100+ track charity compilation in honor of Leyland Kirby’s ‘Caretaker’ project, entitled “Memories Overlooked”. (There’s a Shining pun in there somewhere).   All digital proceeds go to The Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org), and the project has raised over $1,200 to date.  Leyland Kirby himself donated to cause and had some nice words to say.  No Problema Tapes in Santiago put out a run of gorgeous 4x cassette boxes of the compilation, which sold out in a matter of days.  Aside from that, I’ve been trying to play catch-up on a lot of things.  I kicked off 2018 working on a few collaborations – a remix for FIRE-TOOLZ, my fourth collaborative track with 회사AUTO, etc.  I’ve been putting quite a bit of time into an upcoming 3-hour mindfuck guest mix for Resident Advisor.  There’s a bunch of other random projects that may or may not come to fruition.  Full disclosure, prolificness in 2018 may end up suffering a bit on the music front, due to the recent acquisition of an SNES Classic — hope everyone understands!

Mike Park Interview (2017)

Mike Park is the motivated man behind Asian Man records. He started the label out of his parents garage in the San Jose area. Over the years he has signed various ska, punk, and rock bands like Jeff Rosenstock and Joyce Manor. In addition to the label, Park himself has been in several great ska and rock bands. One of which, Bruce Lee Band, perfectly manifests the feeling of surfing or skating a decrepit, drained pool. Mike has always combated racism and promoted peace through music. His foundation, Plea for Peace, organizes tours and provides venues for youth artists to perform or display their progressive and peaceful works of art. 

First off, I have a question about the Bruce Lee Band song ‘Do the Politicians’. Are the shows in backyards or basements or homes more or less fun than playing a venue like Neumos? Do you have a favorite venue?

It really depends.  I have had a great time playing basement shows and clubs.  It really depends on the vibe going on and the feedback from the audience.  My favorite venue is bottom of the hill in san francisco.  

Where do you like to go in Seattle? Any favorite neighborhoods or restaurants? 

My favorite place to eat in Seattle is Araya’s in the U District.  It’s a vegan Thai place that’s all you can eat.  

You were recently touring in Asia? Any favorite Asian city?

I love Tokyo. It’s just a fun place to be.  Safe and bustling with energy.  Never a dull moment. 

Seoul is also a lot of fun.  A lot different than Tokyo.  Seoul has the grit of NYC in the sense of a little dirtier than tokyo, but still energy flowing like crazy.  

Asian Man Records is home to one of my favorite bands of all time, Joyce Manor. Do you have a favorite Joyce Manor song or album and why?

Constant Headache was the first song I heard by JM.  So that’s what made me fall in love with the band and has become the de facto song for me and that band.  

What music are your two kids into? Do you plan on getting them into ska?

They just listen to mainstream music.  They’re just 8 and 10 years old.  They don’t care what I listen to.  I figured that much would be the case, but hopefully as they grow older and start going to shows, they’ll

enjoy underground music a bit more.  

What were some of your early influences for your high school bands before Skanking Pickle? Were you ever influenced by the California hardcore bands like Black Flag?

I was in a band in 1985 called Psychiatric Disorder that was heavily influenced by Black Flag.  I saw the movie dance craze in theaters sometime in 1986 and then become obsessed with the 2 TONE movement.  

How did you meet Jeff Rosenstock? 

His old band ASOB contacted me saying they were going to be in California.  I used to have a lot of activities like a day at the amusement park or beach or baseball game. And so they read my newsletter and just showed up at the baseball game we were going to and that’s how we met. 

Do you have a favorite album of 2017?

I know you’re not supposed to pick releases from your own label, but Hard Girls “Floating Now” is an amazing record.  

Where did you go to college and what was the best show you went to during your college years? Any fond college memories?

I went to San Jose State for 2 years and dropped out.  College was a blur.  I didn’t care because all I wanted to do was play music.  FISHBONE was the best live show I’d ever experienced and I made it a point to go 

to every single one of their shows that was within a 100 mile radius, so i saw them quite a bit during college and was never let down.   

Let’s talk reggae; which do you like most Cali roots, roots reggae or island reggae? Any favorite reggae bands? Roots reggae!  

Not a big fan of cali or island reggae.  I’m a fan of the Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals era of bands.  

What do you see next for your organization Plea for Peace? 

We’ve been on hiatus for over 4 years now.  I don’t have any plans currently.  But hopefully one day I can revive the idea behind the foundation.  “promote positive youth development through the arts”.  

A Few Questions with JAHKOY (2016)

You just dropped your “Foreign Water” EP at the end of October.  What was the process of making that project and what has been the response from your fans?

The process of making the project was really good, you know, just to have fun and just introduce myself to the audience and give my introduction because I hadn’t put out a project yet.  At the time, I was still figuring out what direction with the music I was going to go because I love making all kinds of music.  The process was easy, I tried not to think about it too much and was just being more vulnerable and letting it all out and being expressive.  The response has been honestly been amazing and great.  Everyone has just been enjoying themselves.  I had a few fans who had hoped to hear stuff that was similar to my older stuff, but I wanted to show growth and show that an artist is creative.  What shows growth in an artist is the diversity they can show or some kind of difference to show that they are evolving and becoming more.  I guess what it was with me was not worrying about how I was going to do it, we were just going to get it done and we were just going to let it out and say, “Hey, this is me and I’m delivering the experience of a Toronto native coming to California and all the things I experience as a foreigner in this new place that I am adjusting to and the relationships that I was building while I was out there and finding my purpose in this new environment.”  I’m back in Toronto and I’m sharing my story with everyone and saying, like, this is what happened in LA.  I just recently moved to LA now, after everything.  I put everything together and now I’m just exploring and being more creative.  I went to California and I found what, to me, was my purpose and what helped me find what I consider to be my heaven.  I found my purpose in California and to me that was heaven.  I’m out there now and I just want to see what there is to come of that experience.

I definitely noticed California was a consistent theme throughout the project.  I was wondering what else you wanted to share through the project.

I just wanted to share my perspective.  There is only so much we can say with the words we have and what makes music different and unique and special is the perspective that you bring.  More than anything, music is relatable.  What makes it relatable is that people will feel the exact way that you do and how you deliver the message in the music.  It sticks with the listener.  I just want to deliver my perspective as a young, growing artist and also just being from one of the spotlighted cities in music right now, Toronto, and sharing that sound.  There’s a lot of things people don’t know about Toronto and Toronto has a lot of culture and a lot of diversity and I feel that there is a lot of in the city that people absorb and take from.  I want to just deliver my perspective on it and I just want to create good music and share my side of the story for everybody to enjoy.  

Who are some artists that influenced you or inspire you and your work?

My top four artists of all time would have to be Kanye West, Andre 3000, Pharrell and the fourth is Rihanna, just because she is one of those artists that has so much about her that people can relate to and take from.  She’s able to tap into the different worlds and appeal to the different audiences.  Rihanna does records like “Disturbia” or she’ll do a record like “FourFiveSeconds,” a record like “Work,” all these records show her diversity and how she’s able to stretch the bar.  She doesn’t corner herself into a specific sound but delivering as an expression and not necessarily worrying about how it sounds, it’s more the feeling than anything.  I love those artists because they are artists who aren’t afraid to step out and be themselves and not necessarily do what’s going on right now.  Right now, there are a lot of trends going on and a lot of music that is sounding similar.  I love these artists because they are able to show and deliver an exciting experience once they come out with some new music.  When I grew up, when a new artist came around, they brought something to the table and that’s why everybody loved that artist.  They were something fresh and new to be excited about.  I want to bring that with my perspective and creative ideas.  

Who have you enjoyed collaborating with on either this latest project or your music in general?

 I worked with quite a few names on the project.  I worked with Rico Love, Schoolboy Q, Jeremih on the project. I had Cardiak and Boi-1da.  There’s quite a few people on the project and I was able to work with people I grew up paying attention to.  They come from a generation before me and I watched them grow from songwriters to actual artists.  I was able to feed off their energy and a lot of the things they had.  They had a lot of good advice and writing techniques that I fed off of and it was really cool to be in a group with those people.  Even though it was kind of intimidating, I felt that I had to step my game up.  It made me feel that I had to go the extra mile because I was able to make something magical.  We did make something magical.  We made some crazy records and some records that are not even on the project.  The ones that we did choose for the project, they’re rockets and they are some of my favorite records ever and I’m so happy we got the project out.