Maiof On Maiovvi : A Conversation With Composer Anton Maiof

I think it was close to two years ago I stumbled across a split single on the record label Foreign Sounds. It was a split between Slasher Film Festival Strategy and Antoni Maiovvi. I hadn’t heard either artist before but I was in the moment it started playing. I’m sort of into that whole horror/electronic/synth gumbo that these two were throwing my way on that 12″ vinyl so I was a fan immediately. I was especially struck by Maiovvi’s track “Psychic Driver”. Hypnotic melodies and a driving, electro disco beat gave you the feel of cruising down some desolate stretch of highway where you may never find your way back from.

I started digging into Maiovvi’s musical past and it seemed to be an endless list of albums, EPs, remixes, in varied degrees of Giallo, heavy synth, and Italio Disco for every day, mood, and psychic trauma. But who was this Antoni Maiovvi, really? I imagined a cross between Giorgio Moroder and Abel Ferrara, this music composer and producer who would only come out at night in a blaze of leather jackets, analog synthesizers, mysterious women in lanky dresses, and possible concealed weapons. Turns out that’s not the case. Antoni Maiovvi is the nom de plume of musician Anton Maiof. He’s not Italian, but a Brit raised in Bristol. Though, throw one of his records on and you’ll think you were in the midst of some serious Italian groove fest.

Maiof recently released an imagined film score called Cuckoo. It’s brilliant and seedy and all those things you want out of an imagined horror film score. I sat down and asked Anton a few questions. He was kind enough to answer them.


J. Hubner: Thanks for taking the time to talk. Let’s start at the beginning, where did you grow up? Was music a big part of your life even as a young boy growing up?

Anton Maiof: I was born and raised in Bristol in the South West of the UK. To be honest I wasn’t really interested in music until I was a teenager. I thought music was for pretty people and I thought music was pretty boring. Then I heard The Jesus Lizard and I realised that maybe things could be weird and I was very interested in it. 

J. Hubner: With your music being very cinematic, has film and cinema always been a big part of your life? Were you a horror film fan growing up? Who were some of your favorite directors?

Anton Maiof: I’d say I was more interested in movies than music growing up. Horror movies were something I had to become acclimatised to. But once the nightmares stopped I was hooked. Favourite directors would be Stanley Kubrick, William Friedkin, Paul Verhoeven, Robert Altman, Ken Russell, David Cronenberg, Shinya Tsukamoto, Karyn Kusama, and Shane Carruth.

J. Hubner: What was the first album you bought with your own money?

Anton Maiof: It was Kick by INXS on tape.

J. Hubner: When did you become interested in making music? What instrument did you start out playing? Did the synth music come later?

Anton Maiof: I started with guitar and piano, I would borrow things later. At a friend’s house his father had an old 4 track reel to reel so I taught myself to multitrack with that. Then eventually someone showed me how to record on a computer. By this point I could play guitar, keys and drums. The computer offered more possibilities, I got into sampling and eventually when soft synths started coming along I would mess around with them. Then I went to University to study music and that’s where I learned synthesis and some more advanced digital music techniques. It’s not that exciting a story. 

J. Hubner: What were some bands you were in before stepping out on your own?

Anton Maiof: I played in the noise rock group Geisha, we released 2 albums on the Maryland based freak metal label Crucial Blast and 1 on the great UK label Super-Fi. I had a solo project called My Ambulance Is On Fire which I made some weird CDRs. I played in a improv duo called Defibrillators with the very talented Seth Cooke. I played bass in a country band called Papa Molasses & The Dane County Paragons with Dan from Sex Swing. I also played guitar for my friend Rose Kemp. I played bass for Bronnt Industries Kapital and I played guitar in a Goblin cover band called Il Goblini. I also played in the noise group Menschenfliesch with Greg Godwin and Nick Talbot. Once in Europe I played in the noise groups Ultraspiecer, The Superusers and Kottbusserdamm Terror Corpse. I also played in the folk group The Cold Hand. I also play in a duo with Umberto called Law Unit.

J. Hubner: Before I knew that Antoni Maiovvi was a nom de plume I really did think you were a 50 year-old Italian music producer. A cross between Giorgio Moroder and Abel Ferrara. How did you come up with the name? Who or what was the inspiration behind the alter ego? Why not make music as Anton Maiof?

Anton Maiof: Maiovvi was the italianised version of Maiof. I was performing as Anton Maiof all over Berlin doing improvised guitar performances. It was fun.

J. Hubner: You have quite an extensive discography with a wide range of styles ranging from electro disco to more ambient, darker tones. What’s your writing process like? Do you go into the process with a definite idea, or do you let the muse take you where she may?

Anton Maiof: Sometimes I have an idea I want to try out. Sometimes I’m just messing around. The other day a chord pattern came to me in a dream and then I wrote a song about when David Bowie said the lord’s prayer at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert with it. 

J. Hubner: I first came across your work on the split you did with Slasher Film Festival Strategy. I absolutely loved “Psychic Driver”. Jumped into your world from there. Do you enjoy collaborations? Do you prefer working alone to working with other artists?

Anton Maiof: Yes I enjoy collaborations. I just like making music. 

J. Hubner: Speaking of collaborations, how do they work normally, using the Law Unit and SFFS collaborations for example. Is it strictly file sharing online or did you actually get together in the studio with Matt or Christopher respectively?

Anton Maiof: With SFFS we didn’t collaborate it was a split. Two tracks of his and one if mine. With Matt it was a little more complex. We started sharing files but then he came to stay with me in Madrid and we worked together in my living room in between movies and cocktails.

J. Hubner: You released two film scores this year, one for a real film and for one imagined. Can you tell me about the “Karakura Orchestra” on ‘Abdullah’? What was the writing and composing process like on that project?

Anton Maiof: Technically three as Thug also came out this year. But that is an aside. Abdullah’s music existed before the film, it was my attempt at making a sort of techno out of Turkish folk music that I recorded with this radio that Milo Smee AKA Bintus who runs Power Vacuum gave me for my birthday. The radio I named “The Karakura Orchestra”. Karakura being a Turkish sleep demon. So they edited the picture to those tracks and then I edited the tracks to make the soundtrack more graceful.

J. Hubner: Your most recent release was the imagined film score ‘Cuckoo’. What was the concept behind that album? Who or what were inspirations for this album? It’s a great record, btw.

Anton Maiof: Thank you. I was living in Berlin and it had been a few years since I worked on a film soundtrack, I was a little bit frustrated by that, so I thought I’d do another record of the kind of soundtrack that I like. So there are shades of Giallo, Maniac and Nightmare On Elm Street. I tried to arrange the album so there is a narrative. The title I had for many years. I was supposed to do it as a record for Seed who released three of my albums before, Bruce really does believe in me and I appreciate it. I failed him by not making it sooner.

Sorry Bruce. 

J. Hubner: Is film scoring something you’d like to do on a more full time basis? You seem to have a knack for creating cinematic music. Yellow is one that I revisit quite often.

Anton Maiof: Yes these days I’m more interested in making film scores, I find it the most rewarding part of my career. I recently did the score for Can Evrenol’s Housewife. Though I have started enjoying DJing a bit more recently, but I am playing mostly italo and “fun” music these days. 

J. Hubner: Are there any recent records, films, books, or shows that you’ve been getting into? Anything inspiring? 

Anton Maiof: I saw an amazing film recently called ‘Valerie & Her Week Of Wonders’ which has an amazing score also. I also enjoyed the last Com Truise album and the recent Drab Majesty album and the last Boy Harsher album. 

J. Hubner: Are you doing any touring to promote ‘Cuckoo’? 

Anton Maiof: No traditional touring, but I have a band now. We will perform some it live.

J. Hubner: What are you working on next? Anything you can share? 

Anton Maiof: At the moment I have found myself writing songs again and I am close to finishing an album.

J. Hubner:  What is one album that you think everyone should own? And why?

Anton Maiof: Scott Walker’s The Drift because it is a tough listen but rewards those who are willing to put time to invest and revisit. It is also a wonderful piece of work. 


Head over to Data Airline’s Bandcamp page and give Cuckoo a listen. It’s brilliant heavy synth electronica. And check out Antoni Maiovvi’s Bandcamp page and clear about a day to indulge in those heady tunes. 

Sonic Terror : Inside The Heady Sounds of Videodrones

Videodrones is a synth duo from Denmark. What they create are the sounds of dread, doom, darkness, and those things that go bump in the night. They summon the spirits of Popol Vuh, Fabio Frizzi, Bobby Beausoleil; as well as countless soundtracks to late night horror films you watched growing up(especially if you grew up in the 80s and with local late night television at your disposal.) There’s a sickly sweet and queasy vibe to Videodrones. There’s the horror and Gothic vibe for sure, but they aren’t creating “spooky” sounds for the hell of it. There’s a purpose to their pulsating, modular madness. There’s also a serious improvisational spirit with the sound band members Jakob Skott and Kristoffer Ovesen create. It’s just the nature of synthesizers to make weird, “far out” sounds. But what these two do is take it to a new level. Obviously inspired by both synth artists and old VHS tapes filled with schlock horror films and exploitation trash(the best kind of trash), these two are taking Komisch and Berlin School noisemaking to new heights here.

For me personally, I listen to both last year’s excellent Mondo Ferox and their brand new(and equally excellent) record Nattens Hævn and I’m pulled into another place and time. I’m reminded of late night viewings with the lights off and everyone else sound asleep. But it’s not what I saw that stayed with me when I finally laid my head down to sleep, but what I heard. The music that accompanied the horror on screen. The synth-driven scores would echo in my head; square wave’s bashing on the walls of my skull as syncopated rhythms became in sync with my own bewildered heartbeat. Videodrones capture that spirit of music for me. They capture those childhood memories and add to them. They create their own sonic world of musical introspection and let you walk into these bubbly landscapes(at your own peril, of course.)

I sat down and talked with Jakob and Kristoffer about Videodrones, their influences, and their love of sonic mayhem.


J. Hubner: So tell me about the idea behind Videodrones. How did this project get started? Have you and Kristoffer Ovesen worked together prior to Videodrones?

Jakob Skott: We started simply by having a long overdue jam-session. Just a fun day of noodling with our synths. That’s where about 90% of the first album was recorded. The day we were working on it, the ideas just got better and better, and we recorded hours and hours, and it became more and more cinematic – which is probably no coincidence, because when we were younger we’d watch movies for hours from Ovesen’s vast VHS-collection. So we edited it in that style sort of reimagining the jams into something more cohesive – but it wasn’t something we’d really talked about ahead of it: “hey, let’s do a tribute album to all the movies we love” – it was way looser than that, without any real starting point and we didn’t figure out the name until we worked on the cover and titles. So the whole thing kind of just fell into place.

Kristoffer Ovesen: We’ve always had very similar film taste, so our friendship was always more about movies, than music. Although we had one or two jam-sessions about ten years ago, the day we got together to record the first album was the first time we ever got serious about making something coherent together. We’ve discussed films, and film-scores so many times before, that we didn’t really need to plan which direction to go. I think we both knew what kind of sound was common ground for us. I could elaborate some kind of grand idea, but it would all be something cooked up afterwards. It just kind of happened, really, without us ever discussing a greater concept. I think we might have discussed a bit more doing the second album, talking about which direction to go, referencing both the first album and other artists. But to say we had a plan beyond jamming might be stretching it….

J. Hubner: You two capture a very unique musical sound on both the debut album ‘Mondo Ferox’ and the newest record Nattens Hævn. Who or what are some key inspirations and influences going into the writing for Videodrones?

Jakob Skott: Like Ovesen says, I think we’ve pondered over these things for so many years that it’s embedded deeply into both of us – so to untangle it seems impossible. However I really do feel that the fascination of genre-movies from the 70s and 80s gets stronger and stronger. Directors like Jess Franco, Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci & John Carpenter – the sheer WILL needed to create their works – under B-movie exploitation standards, they managed to make their movies soar. Furthermore they were all directors working in unison with a composer in a small cluttered home-studio – like Abel Ferrara & Joe Delia or John Carpenter & Alan Howarth. It was one of the things we talked about: Not killing the music in post-production, but rather letting it breathe – as some dude who’s been painstakingly arranging his music to the cues would: just leaving a single stringer note there for suspense…

Kristoffer Ovesen: I was always more into electronic, jazz or rock scores, than orchestral soundtracks. Goblin, Tangerine Dream, Fabio Frizzi, John Carpenter etc. The major influence of film-scores was allowing us to make small mood-pieces, instead of just full blown traditional compositions. The freedom to explore a single idea or mood, without the need of letting it go further. I enjoy listening to soundtracks because of those small pieces of psychedelic suspense-inducing freakouts, as much as the more elaborated “theme tracks”.

J. Hubner: Did you grow up gorging your brain on 70s and 80s horror movies? What was a trip to the video store like in Denmark growing up?

Kristoffer Ovesen: I grew up in small town where the local supermarket had a video rental section, just next to the newspapers and cigarettes. My mom used to drop me off in front of the shelves, and I would contemplate what was behind the strange artwork and punchline on the boxes while she was shopping. We never had a TV set during my childhood, so the rental stores were mostly just some weird display of inaccessible wonders for me. I became obsessed with videotapes during my childhood and i bought a television and a VCR and began collecting horror movies as soon as I could afford it. A lot of the classic Eurotrash and exploitation were available on Danish rental tapes in the 80’s and tapes could be rented not only in rental stores, but gas stations and supermarkets often had a small rental section too. You could find stuff like Cannibal Holocaust, Tenebre, City of the Living Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre etc. I guess it was the same as in the US or UK, but we did never have censorship like in UK or Germany. Although I did spend some time at university reading about more conventional stuff, I consider fanzine-reading and watching Dutch bootlegs of Jess Franco and Lucio Fulci movies as my real film-education….

J. Hubner: Can you tell me a little about how you two write in Videodrones? Do you get together and just start making sounds, or do you have motifs you work off of?

Jakob Skott: I have one secret weapon, which is a special way of doing live sequencing – I use the same figure at different speeds and in different variations for each voice in the track. So basically every figure is very similar to, say, the bass. It can be reversed or permuted, but it’s the same scale and basic figure that creates all the sounds. It also turns out very massive, and you can jam with 4 different polyphonic voices changing keys at the same time. It allows for vivid improvisation, but also creates a lot of great variation and motifs popping in and out of nowhere – as opposed to most other synth-jams where you usually just run an arpeggiator through chords. That’s one essential thing about this project: it’s born through improvisation – even when it doesn’t sound like it.

Kristoffer Ovesen: I used a two voice modular systems for both albums. Jakob would feed us different sequences, as described above, and the actual “writing” didn’t go much further on my behalf than “could you make that sequence faster” or “could you reverse/transpose that sequence”. I would have three or four sequences that I would feed to different voices, sometimes using a polyphonic sequence that I would split up into two or more monophonic voices. The approach was very minimalistic, allowing a maximum of freedom to improvise, without losing too much structure. The modular system also allows me to split gate and pitch signal, hence use the rhythm of one sequence together with the pitch of another sequence to create a third variation.

J. Hubner: How long does it take usually to build up enough material for an album? Is there an extensive editing process that goes with these records? The albums are so well sequenced, and everything seems to bleed perfectly into the next piece. I imagine the mixing/editing/sequencing is just as big a part of each record as creating the sounds.

Kristoffer Ovesen: Both albums were basically cut from a one-day jam, but on Nattens Hævn we recorded more tracks afterwards, than on the first album. The editing and mixing, all done by Jakob, is essential to the sound. He sends me tracks while he mixes and I sometimes record extra sequences, but all the hard work of listening through hours of endless noodling around is done by him. Both albums were actually completed quite fast, as we talked about not overdoing the post-production.

Jakob Skott: Yeah, I try to keep it fresh. The first one I think I spent no more than a few hours mixing each track. Just really cropping out huge parts and reassembling hours worth of jams – folding the layers on top of each other and immediately sending the highlights to Ovesen – trying to decipher whenever something interesting was happening. For the latest one, I spent a bit more time – and it has more depth simply because it’s mixed better – adding stuff and automating a lot of effects, pitching and tweaking as well. But still with a sketch-like mood in mind. I try to empathise the weird coincidences, sudden shifts and dropouts, rather than edit them out.

J. Hubner: With the albums, from the titles to the names given to the songs, it feels like there’s a definite theme on these albums. Do you go into these with a direction? Are you writing as if you’re composing for a film? Do you go so far as to come up with an idea for an imagined film and write around that idea?

Kristoffer Ovesen: Not really. There was never a real concept behind it, it was more an extension of watching and discussing movies. We did joke around with different fictive titles during coffee-breaks between jams, though. Some too offensive to mention…. Some track titles might be referencing a certain movie, some just a feeling, but as said before, there’s not much of a finished story  going on. It’s all just a product of our shared memory bank of psychotronic cinema, I guess.

Jakob Skott: I’m very happy that we didn’t settle on the “lost movie” theme – it’s just everywhere – it’s weird. I remembered we did the first album in May last year, and in June when Stranger Things popped up on Netflix, I watched it and thought “holy shit, this synthwave soundtrack-thing is going to explode – I need to hurry up and finish this album”. Well then it kind of happened ten-fold. But I think our inclination towards more weirded out stuff sets it apart enough to keep it fresh – at least I hope that’s how it works to the listener – maintaining a rougher edge through that whole improv-aspect. I’m as inspired by modern electronic music as by the grand synth-maestros – stuff like Autechre still sounds almost as fresh as when I first heard them 20 years ago, and I try to channel that ethos as well.

J. Hubner: Can you tell me what’s some of the go-to instruments Videodrones uses to make albums? It all has a bubbly analog warmth to it. Do you record to tape or is that aesthetic created in the engineering and mastering side of things?

Kristoffer Ovesen: I use a Eurorack modular system and a Roland HS-60, and some effect pedals. While jamming we record onto separate tracks on Jakobs computer, allowing him to mix and edit the tracks afterwards. I think the “warmth” is partly a result of Jakob not overdoing it in the mixing process, but the mastering Jonas did for us was definitely the final touch. Just like The Dude’s rug, it really ties it all together.

Jakob Skott: We use all kinds of stuff – there’s tons of digital stuff in there as well – we’re not purists, but use the best of all ages. Ovesen’s modular has a lot of really noisy and weird filters – for the stuff he puts out on Interzone Tapes – I used wavetable-synthesizer, as well as the analogues – there’s even an Ipad in there. But usually with some sort of analogue pre-amp or drive boost at the end of the chain to warm things up. I actually tend to make my mixes too dark, so Jonas actually adds some sizzle (which tape will absolutely not do) as well as ties the low-ends together – by using some hardware compressors, etc. So he adds definition to our blurriness – I’m always really happy with that, because in the end it has tons of murky vibe, but still packs a good punch.

J. Hubner: If you could only choose one, who’s a director that had the most influence on you growing up? Was there a film that affected you more than others?

Kristoffer Ovesen: That’s a tough question, different directors through the years, of course, but i think George Romero, David Lynch and Tim Burton were some of the first directors I were into in my early teens. I guess the film(s) that kicked of my interest in horror movies was the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. I watched most of them one summer night when I was 13 and it had a profound impact on me. I think being a horror-buff grew into some kind of identity for me, and to this day I like to see myself as a horror/exploitation collector/expert more than a musician, actually. The first time I remember noticing how different a film score could be done must have been watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Argento’s Profondo Rosso. Especially the pounding prog/synth scores of Goblin still resonates in my brain whenever I turn on my synths.

Jakob Skott: Right now, finishing Twin Peaks: The Return I feel inclined to say Lynch as well. I watched the first Twin Peaks series when I was about 11 or 12 – needless to say, Killer Bob has caused a fair share of night terrors for me. I also remember watching Lost Highway when I was about 17 – yet another crucial turning point: watching a world of cinema you thought you knew and understood just literally go up in smoke in front of your eyes. And of course the outer-worldly role of music in his films. The way they’re not bound to regular structures, but invents their own deeper and more emotional logic – that’s very inspiring. And this new 18 hour opus is just as heavy. I’m blown away – the old weathered faces – and also that he’s not keeping it very clean stylistically – just messing up with poor video-effects, style changes in every scene. Zero fucks given to his own legacy – that’s awesome!

J. Hubner: Can we count on more from Videodrones? If there was a once-a-year release I’d be perfectly happy with that.

Jakob Skott: The first session we had at my apartment – the 2nd was at the Studio where Causa Sui records, so I played all of Jonas Munk’s synth gear. We had a third session a few months ago, but I actually haven’t listened to it yet – that was at Ovesens place in the country side. So sure, we have to finish the trilogy just like any good movie-franchise…

Kristoffer Ovesen: What he said….

J. Hubner: So what’s on the horizon for El Paraiso Records? What musical tricks do you guys have up your sleeve for us? I’m asking so I know just how much money I need to start putting back.

Jakob Skott: Ha, sure – there’s a lot of stuff in the pipeline. I’ll give you the first 3: New Causa Sui studio album, New Mythic Sunship – and Nicklas from Papir is doing a follow-up to his first solo album. All moving up to a new level and all currently being printed. The X-mas LPs are already causing really long delays at the printers, so we’ll probably have to wait til next year. But will be worth the wait! Our best stuff yet to come!


A trilogy of Videodrones, new Causa Sui, Mythic Sunship, and Nicklas Sorensen. The future’s so bright I’ve gotta wear shades. You should wear shades, too. And grab Videodrones’ Nattens Hævn over at El Paraiso Records.

Sounds of the Universe : A Conversation With Astral TV

For me, a record has to pull me from my surroundings and put me in another headspace. I want an album to paint something in my brain and make me psychically open up and let some of the universe inside. Music should be more than just mere entertainment; it should make you feel something. As a kid music affected me in a way that cartoons, movies, and books never did. My imagination bloomed when a song hit me the right way.

I think that’s why I’m drawn to synth music. There’s nothing obvious about the musical world an analog synthesizer is creating. You’re not being told what to think or what it means. There’s a visceral aspect to synth music that you don’t get with a rock album or pop single. It’s pure, raw emotional content that’s being pushed through tubes and circuits via the composer. They can lead you down a path to contentment and beauty, enlightenment, or sonic anxiety. They open a portal and you’re allowed to step in and see where it leads.

Astral TV is a synth duo based in Copenhagen, Denmark. They released their debut with El Paraiso Records, titled Chrystal Shores, back in July and it’s a record that opens many portals. Rasmus Rasmussen and Keith Canisius have created a modern ambient album that pulls from both a New Age lean and a Sci Fi vibe. If this album was a movie it’d be a cross between Kubrick’s 2001 : A Space Odyssey and Tarkovsky’s Solaris. Musically these two are taking some of the headier vibes of Tangerine Dream and giving them a bit of light, though at times the light feels a ways away. Astral TV create a warm and inviting sound that you can easily get lost in.

I had a chance to talk with Rasmus and Keith about the record, their influences, and the large amount of wires it takes to make the magic happen.


J. Hubner: So tell me about how Astral TV came together? How long have you two been making music together?

Rasmus Rasmussen: Actually Astral TV have existed less than a year. But the two of us have played together for some years now, accompanying each other in various projects. Then Keith was asked to play a concert last winter, and he suggested we do it as a duo instead, and that was the beginning of Astral TV.

J. Hubner: Who are some influences you guys are pulling from? If you had to name one album that you looked to for inspiration in creating the Astral TV world what would that be?

Rasmus Rasmussen:  I guess it’s really a wide range of stuff, and quite different for each of us. We both love newer electronic music like Boards of Canada, Tim Hecker and that kind of stuff, but for me the classic kosmische kraut stuff is definitely a huge influence as well. The same goes for Eno and also late 90’es / start 00’es electronica and ambient. One album that has influenced the way I approach what we do with Astral TV would be “New Age of Earth” by Ashra.

Keith Canisius: I think we can pull a lot of inspiration from small things. I definitely wanted to bring the film music aspect into the picture. Allowing us to work with shorter sequences and mood presentations. I’m more interested in what people think it sounds like, than the few bands I could mention, when I think hard about it.

J. Hubner: Similar to the previous question, are there any films or film soundtracks that blew your collective minds that went into molding the Astral TV sound?

Rasmus Rasmussen: The Blade Runner soundtrack would definitely be an essential key to the Astral TV sound. That’s a record which has stayed with the both of us from quite early on and still is a big influence. For me the Popol Vuh soundtracks from the 70’es have also been a big influence.

Keith Canisius: Blade Runner yes. For me most sci-fi movies from the 80’s and 70’s. I liked Interstellar too. But mostly the sci-fi movies from my childhood. Some newer movies like It Follows was really nice too. Movies play a bigger inspiration for me than actual music artists in this project.

J. Hubner: What’s the writing process like for Astral TV? Do you two get in a room together with tons of gear and improvise until you like the vibe? Or do you share music files via the internet and just add to each others ideas? Do you each have your own futuristic-looking music stations, surrounded by synths like Edgar Froese or Rick Wakeman?

Rasmus Rasmussen: Some tracks are written by one or the other, and then the other supplies his stuff, but mostly we just get in my basement and jam. We both have our gear set up down there and live right next to each other, so when we are up for it we just meet after work or in the weekends and jam out for a few hours. We’ll record it all, and at some point we go through the recordings and see what works. Most of the tracks on the album were done this way, based on improvisations. It might be edited a bit afterwards, but as little as possible. We like to keep the spontaneity of it.

And yeah, both our synths setups are quite extensive. We are gear nerds, we like knobs and don’t do well with limitations.

J. Hubner: You’ve just released your new LP Chrystal Shores via El Paraiso Records, but this isn’t your first release. You released ‘Stations’, a limited edition tape in April via Funeral Tapes. Are there any significant difference between the two? Is ‘Stations’ available digitally?

Rasmus Rasmussen: Some of the material is the same, but there are differences in the track list. Some tracks are on the tape and not on the vinyl and vice versa. Also the production is a bit different. It was the tape that actually made us realize we had some material worth putting out. One of our friends runs the Funeral Tapes label and asked us to do the tape, and that made us dig through the recordings we’d done when jamming and found that there was stuff we could use. The tape is not out digitally. It’s a very limited release of fifty tapes, which can be bought from the label.

J. Hubner: First off, ‘Chrystal Shores’ is a stunning record of beautiful electronica and heavy synth. How long was the writing and recording process for the LP? It has a really heavy 70s vibe. A basement spin for sure, complete with beanbag chair and incense burning. Was that the aesthetic you guys were going for?

Rasmus Rasmussen: Thanks! Most tracks are essentially first takes and have only been played that one time of recording. So both the writing and recording process was quite short. The mixing as well. We only did what was necessary to make it glue and work as self-enclosed tracks. Some times new stuff was added, but it was all a very spontaneous process, without too much fiddling around. That way of working is completely opposite to how I’ve done my solo albums, meticulously building it up until you have a finished track. Here you just listen to hours of jams, occasionally going: “Wait, stop, there was a track!”. There was never a conscious intent on sounding retro, but I guess there’s something inherent in using these instruments in the way we do, that’ll pull the sound in that direction. With that said there was no attempt what so ever of avoiding that thick new age vibe – on the contrary really. I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff, and if we can do anything to mend it’s crummy reputation just a little, I’ll be happy.

Keith Canisius: This project is also opposite from most my solo stuff. Keeping it to the idea of music for film scenes makes it easier for me to free. Then I have some simple borders to work out from. We also want to be able to perform it live without any back tracks going on. Above mentioned ideas gives it a border, that makes it much easier for me to be creative. A track like “Surveillance” is really wild. The thought that we did that suddenly in the middle of a jam without speaking about it is pure magic. A lot of tracks happened like that, but that long track was something special. Special how the whole thing came alive in one take without any communication.

J. Hubner: I wanted to ask you Keith, you live in Copenhagen but you’re originally from Massachusetts, right? How did you end up in Denmark?

Keith Canisius:  My father (Dutch) moved to Cambridge Mass., where he met my mother. They got married and had me. Later on they went to Holland, but the marriage ended. My mother took my brother and I to a friend she had from Harvard university, who had moved back to Denmark. She got settled and remarried in Denmark.

J. Hubner: What drew you two to the synthesizer? Did it start out with piano lessons as a kid then progressed to a Buchla set up in the family room?

Rasmus Rasmussen: I started playing keyboards when I was nine. It was the first instrument I learned to play. It was a fascination with 80’es synth bands that drew me to it. Aha and stuff like that, but more specifically the synth theme in Phil Collins “Another day in Paradise” played an important role. I was very much into that. So my parents sent me to keyboard lessons. I lost interest for a while, focusing on the guitar in my teens, but when I got into electronic music in the late nineties, I invested in samplers and synths and the collection has just expanded from there.

Keith Canisius:  My brother had a Juno 60 and my stepdad had a piano and later on a grand piano in our home throughout my childhood. Although guitar became my main instrument in my early teens, I’ve always be fiddling around with keys in some way. When my music became more serious I got a Prophet 08, which I still use all the time. I also think guitar got a little boring at a point. So diving into the synth world was exciting for me.

J. Hubner: With the album officially out, will you guys be taking Astral TV on the road? I can only imagine that being a daunting task. Lots of wires I imagine.

Rasmus Rasmussen: Yes, we have a couple of shows lined up in the near future. Most of the tracks are essentially recorded live, so in that way it makes good sense, but we are still trying to figure out the perfect way of bringing it to the stage. We want to keep the spontaneity and improv vibe but avoid too much aimless noodling, so it’s about finding the right balance. And yeah, the amount of wires are enormous. We’re trying to limit ourselves, but it’s not working out very well.

J. Hubner: What’s next for Astral TV? Could we see a follow up to Chrystal Shores at some point?

Rasmus Rasmussen: A follow up is very likely. We’ll focus on playing shows for a while, but in that process we’ll probably be working on a new album. We are recording continuously and already have a good deal of material and a bunch of tracks that’s more or less done.

Keith Canisius: We have some nice new stuff already as Rasmus mentioned, and we are looking forward to exploring this world much much more for many years hopefully.


 

Astral TVs Chrystal Shores is still available at El Paraiso Records and at Forced Exposure.

Andy’s Party

I came across Andy Shauf’s excellent The Party on one of those layabout Friday evenings where a couple stouts were enjoyed and a homemade pizza pie was built to perfection. It’s kind of a regular Friday evening thing around here. Anyways, I’d posted a review of the great new Beach Fossils record Somersault and my good pal Aaron from way up north told me I should look up Tuns. Tuns is a supergroup consisting of Chris Murphy of Sloan, Mike O’Neil of the Inbreds, and Matt Murphy of the Super Friendz. It was a solid lead to some seriously great power pop. I’ve been a fan of Sloan for 20 years now, having been introduced to them by Much Music in the mid-90s. I found quite a few great bands from the land of Rush and the McKenzie Brothers back then, including Big Sugar, Odds, and of course Sloan. I felt like this whole other world of amazing musicians had been hidden from me by an overwhelmingly evil American music system. Why did I not know of these bands sooner? Where was Much Music when I needed it in the early 90s? Why so many rhetorical questions?

Well this all leads to me stumbling across a guy named Andy Shauf. As I was perusing  Tuns videos on Youtube and waxing nostalgic about those exciting early days of Much Music I came across a video for Andy Shauf’s “Early To The Party”. He came up as something like-minded to Tuns, so with a bit of a beer buzz I decided to jump into the wormhole.

Holy shit.

I was immediately pulled into Shauf’s melancholy musical world that felt like it was part Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm, Randy Newman’s Sail Away, and midnight listens of Michael Penn’s Untitled after a funeral carry-in meal. It was both nostalgic and alien to my ears, like some sentient being attempting to make sad power pop after receiving transmissions in deep space of old Lenny Waronker-produced albums like Van Dyke Parks’ Song Cycle and Randy Newman’s 12 Songs. Shauf’s voice sounds timid and fragile as he sings about trying to win the affections of a good friend’s ignored girlfriend, or the weird goings on at a party. But for me there isn’t a more exquisite and regal opening as “The Magician”. It’s built eloquently on loping piano, tasteful strings, and clarinet with a fuzzy guitar line for good measure. Lyrically it’s this juxtaposition of the idea of the magician doing these tricks to amaze and astound us, but is really just winging it each time, hoping things will work out. Sort of like the rest of us. “Just a shaking hand, without a concrete plan” he sings over this sublime musical concoction. Probably one of the best tracks I’ve heard in a long time. It takes something like this song for me to remember how much I truly used to love that 70s singer/songwriter stuff.

“Early To The Party” has a video for it that’s one of the best videos I’ve seen in years. Lyrically Shauf sounds like an unsure loner, showing up to the gathering before everyone else(much to the host’s chagrin.) “Early to the party, You’re the first one there/Overdressed and underprepared” Shauf sings over a hypnotic musical build that feels like Michael Penn at his very best. “Twist Your Ankle” is another melancholy pop gem that feels like an introvert’s anthem(“Wish I’d just stayed home“.) I don’t know if Shauf is this timid and unsure in his real life, but on record he comes across as one disappointment away from an emotional breakdown.

I think what hits me so hard is that I completely relate to his characters’ lack of confidence and social awkwardness. I wasn’t a mingler or “party dude” when I was younger. Crowds made me uncomfortable, and trying to keep up with social norms just made me ill. Fortunately I had a tight knit group of friends and a girlfriend that appreciated my insular ways so I never became some lonely, bearded guy in an apartment fantasizing about the next season of my favorite show. But I can appreciate the loner’s struggle I hear in Andy Shauf’s songs on The Party.

According to the internet, Andy Shauf was a drummer in a Canadian Christian pop punk band called Captain(sounds like a Kids In The Hall skit.) He also played Christian music with his parents as a kid. The guy plays everything, and on The Party he performed all the music. He’s a pretty stellar clarinet player and he uses it quite a bit on this record, tastefully I might add. On earlier records his vocals sounded unique, but not as effected as they do on this album. There’s some sort of accent in there, but I’m not sure what it is. He sounds like Wreckless Eric trying to be quiet during church service. It only adds more emotional depth to the songs.

Honestly, there isn’t a bad spot on The Party. From start to finish it’s a beautifully crafted piece of singer/songwriter fare. Andy Shauf hits all the right notes(metaphorically and literally.) Fans of bands like Jellyfish, Michael Penn, Owsley, Red Kross, Aimee Mann, Jon Brion, and Wondermints would find something to love and hold dear on this record. Shauf also taps into something specific for me. It’s this aged, 70s vibe that I can’t get enough of. Key parties, stoned afterschool conversations in your best friend’s basement lounging on bean bag chairs, faux wood trim in boat-size Oldsmobiles that take you to and from the local arcade, and late night card games with the haze of cigarette smoke hanging just below the globe-shaped dining room light fixture. The 70s were many things in my head, but the aforementioned defines that decade for me.

So does Andy Shauf’s The Party.

Thanks Much Music, thanks Aaron, and happy 150th Canada.

Breathe Easy : The Legendary Trainhoppers Ready New Album ‘Let It Breathe’

I always look forward to talking with Fort Wayne’s The Legendary Trainhoppers. That’s a group of six guys that are at an age of mature comfort. What do I mean by that? I mean they’re middle-aged dudes with careers, kids, mortgages, and all the dad life fixings, but are still willing to take risks for the sake of the muse. After a years-long hiatus from the Trainhoppers in 2015, the guys broke out the mandolins, Telecasters, and tube amplifiers to find that magic they used to make together. They found it and then some. Family Tree was a sweeping and rugged collection of dusty Americana and buzzing rock and roll. It wasn’t a weekend warriors kind of record where dad hangs in the garage with his pals and swills Natural Lights and jams on Petty hits. The boys really did get the band back together and it was glorious.

We’re not even at a year and some change since Family Tree was released and they’re already readying a new record they recorded back in March with Jason Davis at Off The Cuff Sound. It’s called Let It Breathe and it’s their best yet. It features contributions by Cassie Beer and The Hoppin’ Horns. But not only did the guys record an all-analog warm and fuzzy beauty of a long player, they had filmmaker Brad Bores document the whole process. On June 10th at Artslab you’ll be able to hear the guys debut the record, pick up a copy of the album on CD(0r download code if that’s your thang), and see the film and relive the making of the Trainhoppers beautiful new record.

I talked to Matt Kelley and Phil Potts about the record, as well as Brad Bores about the music doc and how he got involved.

J. Hubner: So we’re just a little over a year from the release of the last Trainhoppers album ‘Family Tree’ and now thanks to the wonders of internet voyeurism I know you guys have been recording a new record. The Trainhoppers are in one hell of a creative streak. How did this new one come about so soon? Was it a strike while the iron’s hot sort of situation? Is this a whole new batch of tunes?

Matt Kelley: We definitely felt like we were on a streak, and even when promoting Family Tree, we continued to write—fear that if we stopped, we might lose momentum. All of these songs but one were written in the 15 months since recording the previous album. I think our velocity has been helped by a couple of things; for starters, we’re a six-piece and everyone contributes song ideas (rather than there just being one songwriter), and second, we’ve hit a really great collaborative place where we share ideas very early in the process, and pass ‘em around to be made different and better.

Phil Potts: There are 6 of us in the band and we’re all songwriters, so while having so many creative voices has its challenges, the upside is there is a lot of material. It was a challenge just picking which 10 to record. . .so we recorded 11.

J. Hubner:  So the album’s called ‘Let It Breathe’. You recorded this time around over at Off The Cuff Sound with Jason Davis. What made The Trainhoppers decide to go full-on analog? It seems like a perfect fit. How was the experience with Jason?

Phil Potts: It was a very different process than our last album. With the last one, we made the conscious decision to produce it ourselves. We recorded it in a more modern way, digitally. On ‘Let It Breathe’ we decided we wanted input from someone who could help us best shape the songs for recording. Not everything that is great for a live performance translates well to the studio, so having someone like Jason who has so much experience in that realm was revelatory. Having input from fresh ears was helpful because we’d been living with these songs for a year now. The real artistic benefit to recording to tape in an analog studio, in my eyes, is not some fetishization of  is that there are limitations. Constraints can be immensely beneficial to creativity. You can’t have 100 tracks. You can’t Auto-Tune a bad vocal. You don’t make everything mathematically perfect and that’s what makes it beautiful.

Matt Kelley: Well, we’ve known Jason and known about Off the Cuff for a very long time, but had never been to the studio. We had the option to record in The B-Side again—it’s comfortable (it’s where we write and rehearse) and convenient, and there’s no clock running. Which is to say, it’s an easy option. So, we checked out Off the Cuff, considering it part of our due diligence. About ten minutes into the studio tour, we were in love, and sharpening our resumés in hopes that we might work there someday. Of course, folks often thing “analog tape” immediately when they hear about Off the Cuff, but it turns out that’s the smallest part of the story. It all starts with Jason Davis and his perspective and approach and process to making a record. The incredible collection of instruments is a blast, too. Using real instruments and real gear slows everything down, forces you to make more deliberate decisions, and cranks up the pressure.

So yes, The B-Side would have been the easy choice for us. But easy is a four-letter word, and we felt Off the Cuff was the more challenging direction, and could lead to a better album. We certainly believe that to be the case. It was an experience—grueling, hilarious, brilliant—that the seven of us (band + Jason) will never forget.

J. Hubner: Song-wise did the Trainhoppers go into Off The Cuff with completed songs ready to hit record or did you guys leave space to experiment a bit? What’s the overall vibe of ‘Let It Breathe’?

Phil Potts: We had the songs completed, but we were open to changes. And they did change. Off the Cuff Studios is an inspirational environment.

Matt Kelley: The songs were ready to be performed live. But live, The Trainhoppers are often pretty busy—very loud, everything and the kitchen sink, loud. The studio often gave us the chance to actually play a little less, and be very purposeful with what we played when, and how. Also, of course, the studio’s collection of gear gave us the opportunity to experiment more than we might in a digital environment. If you have a million options, you might just choose the one you know. When you have a dozen, you might find you want to try ‘em all…

Vibe-wise, you know, it wasn’t quite spring, and definitely not summer, when we recorded. Our final pre-production and early studio days were when winter was hanging on, and the rainy season had begun. I think there’s part of that in the album, but it’s also jubilant, and it’s got some real fight to it. We stretch into some places we’ve never been before, including a song pretty much without guitar, and working with a horn section. But hey, if The Replacements could bring in the horns with Jim Dickinson on “Can’t Hardly Wait,” we can do the same, right?

J. Hubner: The album release is Saturday June 10th at ArtsLab. Besides the album, the band will be premiering a film on the making of the LP that evening, too. How did the film come about?

Matt Kelley: I first met Brad Bores when he attended a Rayland Baxter show at The B-Side with some dear mutual friends. We hit it off, and share a love for a certain loose Americana music. We were getting the band together and talking about why we did, after almost a decade off, and I left Brad a five-minute voicemail essay about it, and it just seemed like there might be a story worth telling here.

J. Hubner: Is there any ‘I Am Trying To Break Your Heart’ drama in the film? No personnel changes or vomiting mid-mix I hope.

Phil Potts: Unfortunately for the Brad Bores, the filmmaker, we all get along and had a blast making the record.

Matt Kelley: Fortunately—I think—Brad wasn’t there on those days, lol. But really, this band is far more in simpatico in 2017 than it was in 2007. We did have conflict in writing and making this record, but it was always ultimately in service of the song, and the album, and ideas bigger than any of us as individuals.

J. Hubner: So what can folks expect on June 10th at Artslab?

Matt Kelley: We’re really excited to present a very focused show—a concert performance, rather than a gig. We’re doing two shows, one at 6:30 and one at 9:30. Each will open with Brad’s film, which will be around 15 minutes. We’ll then have a Q&A with Brad, and then the band will perform the album in its entirety, and maybe a couple of requests. It’ll be a fun, all ages show. The ArtsLab is an awesome venue, and we’ll have a bar by The Brass Rail.

Phil Potts: They can expect the rain to stop falling and the clouds to part. We advise bringing extra socks because we will have rocked them off by the 3rd song. All of the ladies in the first two rows run the risk of immaculate conception just by looking at our drummer, so sit accordingly.

J. Hubner: After June 10th where can folks pick up copies of ‘Let It Breathe’?

Matt Kelley: We’ll have hard copies at shows and at TheTrainhoppers.com, hopefully Neat Neat Neat and Wooden Nickel, and digital copies on all the usual outlets, including streaming services. I’m pretty proud of the album cover, so I do recommend the CD to those who still have a way to play such a thing…

J. Hubner: Any favorite memories of making the album?

Phil Potts: There was a game of HORSE. I was draining long distance shots over and over again while missing 5-footers. I think that’s a metaphor for this album. As John Irving said “If you don’t feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then probably what you are doing isn’t very vital.”

Matt Kelley: A long, long time ago I worked on the website for a studio in Nashville that was up in the holler surrounding the city, a getaway, a destination studio that was down-to-earth, outside the music industry and all about the song, and the art. This was when I was first discovering this guitar I had picked up was lucky. Well, I never had the chance to be part of recording there, but working with this band, with Jason at Off the Cuff, I really felt like I finally got to live an experience like the one I had daydreamed about all those years ago.


So June 10th, Artslab, and bring extra socks. And if you don’t want to be carrying an immaculate Trainhoppers baby sit in the back row. Seriously get out there. It’s gonna be great, and you’ll get to see the great film about the making of ‘Let It Breathe’ which was directed by Brad Bores, who I talked to as well.

J. Hubner: So how did you get involved in documenting the Trainhoppers recording sessions for ‘Let It Breathe’? Were you a fan of the Legendary Trainhoppers prior to the film?

Brad Bores: Yes but I wasn’t living in the Fort Wayne area for the first coming of the Trainhoppers so I am a newer fan. I met Matt Kelley at a B-Side show back in 2013(?) and when I heard his band was making a comeback a few years later I knew I would dig the music, just from knowing Matt and his musical tastes that align pretty closely with mine. Last summer the B Side hosted a screening of another music doc I made on Fort Wayne Musician PJ Sauerteig. While I was setting up Matt was talking about the Trainhoppers recording a 3rd album and I think it just clicked that this could make a great short film.

J. Hubner: Were there any music docs you were pulling inspiration from while filming?

Brad Bores: There are quite a few music docs I admire and I’m sure subconsciously elements may show up, but I was more focused on the inspiration coming from the Trainhoppers story and how the visual elements of Fort Wayne (trains, rivers, winter) are connected to the themes of their music.

J. Hubner: Did the filming take place specifically with the recording process or were you involved before that?

Brad Bores: I was filming sporadically the entire process starting last fall when they were still writing and assembling the songs. I also spent the winter chasing down countless shots of trains, bridges and rivers leading towards downtown Fort Wayne as well as the harsh winter vibes in general. The last phase of filming was in the studio this spring as they recorded the songs.

J. Hubner: How long have you been making films? Who were some of your early inspirations? Do you prefer docs to scripted films?

Brad Bores: I have been making films on some level since my college days back in the mid 2000’s. My first serious project was a feature length documentary titled “When the Bell Rings” completed in 2013. The Maysle brothers and John Cassavetes would be earlier inspirations with Roberto Minervini being a more contemporary filmmaker I have followed. I enjoy all types of films but only create docs.

J. Hubner: Will you be documenting the album release show on June 10th?

Brad Bores: Nope. I plan to just relax and enjoy the evening.

J. Hubner: What’s your overall takeaway from this experience? Could there be another music doc in your future?

Brad Bores: This isn’t my first music doc and I’m pretty certain it won’t be my last. There is such a strong relationship between film and music that when the right story or theme lines up it makes the process very conducive. I’m excited to screen this film as it is a departure from my typical style of verite into something more visual and stylistic.


Get to Artslab on June 10th for either the 6:30pm or 9:30pm all ages performances. The cover is $12 and includes a CD copy of ‘Let It Breathe'(or a download card.) Brad Bores’ short documentary will be shown first, followed by a Q&A with Bores and then a performance of the full album by the Trainhoppers. Don’t miss this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joel Grind : Master Of His Domain

There’s quite a few talented folks that have mastered the art of writing and performing music. Those numbers drop a bit when you add in the process of recording, mixing, production, mastering, and general studio wizardry. It’s one thing to have some amazing ideas and being able to plunk them out on a few instruments, but it’s a completely different beast to be able to make those ideas a real thing and make that thing sound amazing.

Enter Joel Grind.

Joel Grind is the man behind the extreme metal outfit Toxic Holocaust, which he records all the albums by himself and has a crew that hit the road with him to perform the songs live. He’s also recorded several more experimental and synth-based albums under his own name. One album, recorded under the name X-77, is described as “Sound collage of bizarre sound clips of black masses, LSD trips and documentaries cut up over ambient analog synth drones and arpeggios.” It’s a trip, man. Grind has also opened his home studio to other bands to lend his mixing and mastering expertise. Some of his clients have included Poison Idea, Sunn 0))), Integrity, Midnight, Ringworm, Lord Dying, Black Tusk, Spellcaster and labels such as Relapse, 20 Buck Spin, Magic Bullet, Hells Headbangers & Southern Lord. He’s the go-to guy for some serious metal heavy hitters, and that’s because he knows how to get a live, raw sound in the confines of the recording studio.

I came to Grind’s work through his great synth record Equinox. I was blown away by that record’s capturing of that Carpenter and Goblin magic while never just giving me a carbon copy version. He’s got a unique style. I reached out to Joel to see if he’d be interested in answering a couple questions. He said why the hell not?

J. Hubner: So Joel, where are you from? Have you always been in the Pacific Northwest?

Joel Grind: I was born in Pennsylvania and grew up on the state line between Maryland and Delaware, mostly bouncing back and forth between the two states. I’ve moved a lot in my life though and have lived all over, after moving to the Pacific Northwest about 10 years ago though I decided this is where I would like to stay.

J. Hubner: You’re a pretty multi-faceted kind of musician, playing multiple instruments, writing, composing, and performing all the songs on your albums, and taking care of production duties. You also run your own studio and are a sought after producer. My question is how did you get here? How old were you when you found a love for music? Was there someone in your life that steered you towards music?

Joel Grind: That’s a great question that I haven’t really given much thought to. I think I got here by working really hard, being goal oriented and knowing what I wanted to do. Even from an early age I was always fascinated with music and specifically recording it. My uncle gave me an old cassette deck when I was a kid and I always loved recording things around my house. I feel like with being a musician your heart has to be in the right place with it especially nowadays. I get asked a lot on how to “make it” and I guess everyone’s definition is different, but if it involves lots of money…that doesn’t really exist anymore. You have to truly love it and be willing to sacrifice and lot of comfort and stability to continue with it.

J. Hubner: What instrument did you start out with? 

Joel Grind: I started with drums actually. Didn’t learn to play guitar until I realized there wasn’t many musicians around me into the same kinds of music I was and figured if I wanted to write songs I better learn a melodic instrument.

J. Hubner: What was the first album you bought with your own money?

Joel Grind: I think it was Megadeth “Rust in Peace”. But I get that confused with Motley Crue “Shout at the Devil”, which I had before the Megadeth record but cant remember if I bought it or it was a gift.

J. Hubner: How old were you when you were in your first serious band? Did you play the high school talent show?

Joel Grind: I started jamming when I was 13, but my first serious band that played shows was when I was 15. Never played a talent show but did do local DIY shows.

J. Hubner: When did Toxic Holocaust come into play? Who were some influences on that sound?

Joel Grind: Started in 1999 when I was 17. Venom, Misfits, Black Flag, D.R.I., and Nuclear Assault were the main ones.

J. Hubner: Besides Toxic Holocaust you work with heavy synth sounds as well. I came to the Joel Grind world thru your synth album ‘Equinox’. It’s a great synth album, man. Has all the eerie undertones and Carpenter-esque vibes that get me excited about music. When did you first get into synth music? Were you a fan of horror first?

Joel Grind: I’ve been interested in it for a really long time but started to pursue it more seriously around 2010, took up until the end of 2015 with touring schedules to actually start working on it though. I remember as a kid hearing this type of music and always wondering what made those creepy sounds.

J. Hubner: On both ‘Equinox’ and your 7″ single ‘Fatal Planet’ you list some pretty classic analog equipment that was used in the making of those recordings, including an ARP Odyssey, Moog Sub 37, Elektron Analog 4, and SCI Prophet 600. When working in synth mode do you prefer to use old school hardware as opposed to software? It seems to me it would add to the aesthetic of the work.

Joel Grind: For me it kind of boils down to (without trying to come across too new age-y)the  relationship you have with your instruments. You get to know the quirks they have, especially with vintage stuff. I also enjoy the tactile controls as opposed to pointing and clicking with a mouse etc. I wouldn’t want to play a VST guitar ( if that even exists). I like the feel of a real Les Paul. Even if the sound is equal, I feel like you approach things differently the way you interact with them. That’s not to say I’m anti-software or computer, I just prefer the hands on approach to making music.

J. Hubner: How did you get hooked up with Spencer Hickman and Death Waltz? 

Joel Grind: I just emailed him and asked him if he’d be interested in working together.

J. Hubner: What are your top 5 horror films? Are there any horror film composers that you look for inspiration or have been big influences on your sound?

Joel Grind: I’m not good at these list things because I always forget something, but ‘Phantasm’ is at the top for film and soundtrack. John Carpenter / Alan Howarth music is one of my biggest influences as well.

J. Hubner: What are some differences between composing in Toxic Holocaust mode as opposed to the more film-leaning synth mode? Where do you pull inspiration from? Do you concentrate on one or the other, or do you work on both simultaneously? 

Joel Grind: Inspiration is one of those things you almost cant describe or pinpoint, one day I’ll wake up and have this urge to write something. I do approach both somewhat similarly though, with Toxic it usually starts with a riff, and same goes for the synth stuff.

J. Hubner: How did you get into the production side of music and running your own music studio? Do you enjoy that aspect? How do you like producing and recording other artists? 

Joel Grind: It really stemmed from a lot of years of recording with other people and not liking the results and/or the experience. You know the saying if you don’t like the results…do it yourself.

J. Hubner: What upcoming projects do you have in the works? Will you be releasing with Death Waltz again at some point?

Joel Grind: I recorded a New Age-y type synth record that will be coming out on a label I cant divulge yet. It’s kinda like Tangerine Dream/Klause Schulze/Jean Michelle Jarre spacey synth music. As for working with Death Waltz again, I’m definitely open to it. It’s up to Spencer, really.


Spencer, give Joel a call. As for the rest of you go listen to Joel’s music over at his Bandcamp page grab an album or two. Keep checking back for the new age-y record. I’m sure it’s gonna be amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall Of Sound : A Conversation With Post Child’s Bryan Alvarez

by EA Poorman

 

Can you feel it? It’s the roaring warmth of summer coming just around the corner, folks. Temps in the 80s, balmy breeze blowing through the car window as you sit at the stop light waiting for the green to tell you to go, go, go. The best thing about the oncoming season change is that first great rock show of the season. Maybe you think you’ve seen it already. At that point maybe it was, but boys and girls there’s a show happening on May 26th at the Brass Rail that will knock your socks off. Local heroes Heaven’s Gateway Drugs and Girl Colors are warming the stage up for our Ohio pals Water Witches and Chi-town’s Post Child. And even better, cruise over to Neat Neat Neat Records at 6pm and watch Water Witches christen Morrison’s all new Hi Fi Lounge with some of their psychedelic magic. Yep, NNN has the Hi Fi Lounge up and running so leave the house a little early and grab some suds courtesy of CS3s pop up bar while you soak up some Water Witches magic.

Post Child are new to the Brass Rail stage and Fort Wayne in general. But if you’re like me and you were drunk a lot in the 90s, alternative rock has a special place in your heart. Post Child capture that post-grunge, in-the-red, hooky indie rock that made so many of us fall in love with rock and roll all over again in the early days of the Clinton administration. When I listened to their newest record Wax Wings I instantly thought of bands like Local H, Marcy Playground, Imperial Drag, Tiny Music-era STP, Blur, and some of the gnarlier Beck. The trick is to take those influences and make it original, which is exactly what Post Child does. They add that Chicago flavor to the sound; it’s that Midwest moxy that is equal parts working class gusto and big-hearted earnestness.

I talked to Bryan Alvarez, Post Child’s singer/guitarist about the band and their show at the Rail.

EA Poorman: So tell me about Post Child. How did you guys get together?

Bryan Alvarez: Post Child was started by me back in 2011 from the ashes of a previous band I was in. I’ve been in a bunch of bands over the years that were group efforts. Post Child was started as a way for me to really hone the sound I’ve been searching for over the years. I wanted something that I could have full creative control. But with that being said, we wouldn’t sound how we do without the guys in the band. They take my songs and transmute them into something bigger and better.

EA Poorman: So who else is in the band? Are you guys all from Chicago?

Bryan Alvarez:  The band is me, Bryan Alvarez, on vocals/lead guitar, Jared Olson on guitar/vocals, Mustafa Daka on drums, and Victor Riley on bass. We’re all from Chicago or the surrounding towns.

Photo by Alen Khan

EA Poorman: Are you all in different bands besides Post Child?

Bryan Alvarez: Everyone is in multiple bands. I used to play in the band Peekaboos (who have been around for a while now), only recently leaving to concentrate more on Post Child. Jared is in Elephant Gun and Dirty Bird, Mustafa is in The Brokedowns and High Priests, and Victor is in Salvation.

EA Poorman: Where are you guys pulling inspiration from? I hear a lot of great 90s alternative bands in your sound.

Bryan Alvarez: I grew up listening to bands like Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, Blur, Beck and the Flaming Lips. And I think we all can bond over these bands, who when we were younger were larger than life. But I think a lot of our current sound is influenced by local Chicago bands, like Meat Wave, Peekaboos, Milked, Rad Payoff, Velocicopter (RIP), and Closed Mouths. All of these bands come from the realm of rock and post-rock but are all unique in their own way. Seriously, you should all listen to them and see them live when you can.

EA Poorman: So tell me about the newest Post Child long player Wax Wings. Where did you guys record the record? What’s the songwriting process like for you guys?

Bryan Alvarez: We recorded Wax Wings at Kildare Studios in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago with Joe Gac of Meat Wave behind the board. We recorded it at the end of Sept 2015 and spent 2016 doing overdubs and mixing. I usually try out different methods of songwriting for each album. For Wax Wings, I spent a lot of time trying to write lyrics that were meaningful to me, using music as a way to add impact to them. It was a very introspective and meditative process, trying to get deep into my mind. I was reading a lot of esoteric books on meditation and psychology at the time. The music was a much longer process, sometimes rewriting a song 3 or 4 times over before I was satisfied with it. At that point I would bring all of this to the band and have them add to it and make it sound even better. I think I wrote maybe 30 songs for Wax Wings, we recorded about 20 tracks, and ended up only using 10.

EA Poorman: So you guys are playing the Brass Rail on May 26th. How did this show come together? Is this your first time in the Fort? Who else is playing?

Bryan Alvarez: Corey from Brass Rail had reached out and invited us to come and play. He liked the band. I didn’t actually ask him how he heard of us. We’ve never played Fort Wayne before, so we’re excited to come out and play for everyone. We’ve had friends come through and tell us it was a good time. So the details, It’s Friday May 26th. Girl Colors are opening, then us, and Heaven’s Gateway Drugs are headlining.

EA Poorman: What other shows do you have lined up for the summer?

Bryan Alvarez: Locally, we’re usually booked up a few months in advance. We have some really great shows coming up this summer that I can’t quite announce just yet that are really cool. But we’re trying to get around the midwest a bit more and play places like Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and so on. We’re working on a longer tour for later this fall. If you are reading this and want to help us book a show in your town please reach out to us!

EA Poorman: Any new music on the horizon?

Bryan Alvarez: I’m actually writing the follow up to Wax Wings right now. I write a lot of music. Much more than we’ll ever release probably. My goal for the next album was to write at least 15 songs before I considered doing any recording. I got to about 14 songs and ended up scrapping almost all of them. So I’m down to like 5. It wasn’t sounding the way I had wanted it. So, I’ve been spending a lot of time on these new songs working on rhythms and beats. We sometimes play a new song or two at our live shows. Otherwise, we might try to put a new tune out later this year.

EA Poorman: In one sentence, how would you describe Post Child?

Bryan Alvarez: We’re really loud. Bring ear plugs. It wasn’t even intentional to be as loud as we are, but it just kind of happened that way. We played a show the other night and someone came up to me and described it as “wall of sound”. I think we write really poppy music overall, we like to do vocal harmonies, double guitar solos, but just to do it really loudly. I like the idea of using sound to take people out of their comfort zone a bit.

So don’t forget earplugs, folks. It’s gonna be great, but loud. And make sure to hit up NNN and the Hi Fi Lounge at 6pm for some pre-main event music goodness with Water Witches and some brews courtesy of CS3. The main event starts at 9pm at the Brass Rail. Get acquainted with Post Child over at https://postchildmusic.bandcamp.com/.