It was a true pleasure and honor to get to spend some time with Emil Amos (Om, Grails, Lilacs & Champagne, Holy Sons...) backstage at Exit/In before Holy Sons opened for the Japanese legends MONO. If you liked what you read, make sure to listen to his podcast Drifter's Sympathy on the Feral Audio network. Check out the full story here or keep scrolling... -- KLARead More
I first met Eric Slick in 2010 (?) when he played a show in my tiny East Nashville living room with Hop Along and Lithuania. Since then, I've seen him perform numerous times with Dr. Dog, once at The End with Lithuania, and, now, solo at Fond Object Records' 4th Avenue location in downtown Nashville, as well as with a full band backing him later that evening at the High Watt venue nearby. It's been really inspiring to see the things he's accomplished and to get a chance to dig in deep with him about a range of existential subjects.
You can read my interview with him (and the help of my friends / colleagues Liz and Lee) on the Original Fuzz blog here or keep scrolling to check it out. -- KLARead More
Many thanks to Original Fuzz for allowing me to express my thoughts on the current state of DIY venues and community centers in our country! Check out the full article and more here. - Kari
Late on December 2, 2016, a catastrophe occurred that resonated with nearly every creative soul in the world. A fire ignited in a warehouse in Oakland, California during a house music dance party where 36 people, including three of the five acts slated to play the show, perished in the blaze. The warehouse was known as the Ghost Ship, home to many and often used to host various events and parties. In a few moments, a safe haven for musicians and artists was transformed into a death trap.
Criminal and arson investigations were initiated soon after but, ultimately, it was determined a faulty electrical system was most likely the catalyst for the inferno. The creative director of the artist collective in the Ghost Ship claims the group had previously notified the owner of the building, Chor Ng, about potential electrical issues throughout the warehouse.
Ms. Ng owns numerous other properties in the area that have incurred building codes violations in the past. Previous tenants and neighbors had supposedly reported unsafe conditions to authorities. A fire station is located roughly 500 feet from the warehouse, but no one had ever filed for an occupancy permit and records show the city hadn't inspected the building in 30 years. These facts, in addition to a nasty report submitted by the Alameda County Grand Jury in 2011 alleging poor management and lack of structure in Oakland's building services division, have caused many to question who to blame for the unfortunate loss of so many precious and talented lives. They raise a good inquiry: How could not a single firefighter or city worker have visually assessed the building for potential calamity in the several years it was inhabited?
Stories have been relayed from Baltimore, Denver, Colorado Springs, L.A., Philadelphia, and Nashville, among other cities, of the suppression of DIY communities since the Ghost Ship tragedy. All of these cities reacted similarly. Local powers have been dispatched to break up gatherings in makeshift venues across the country in a time when organizing a legitimate venue has become expensive and exclusionary. Many of these DIY venues have not and may not reopen. Rolling Stone reports authorities may be receiving anonymous tips from 4chan users, in the name of fire safety. A meme recently circulated online detailing how to submit information to officials regarding illegal house venues (nicknamed "leftspaces"), claiming it will help subdue the political dissension created by the recent Presidential Election.
After a "Concerned Parent" sent an email to the office of the Mayor of Nashville, as well as to several other city officials, a local art and music collective known as DRKMTTR was visited by Nashville's fire marshal and police officers during a performance by garage rocker Nobunny. The show was promptly shut down and forced to relocate to a bar nearby, effectively removing anyone below the age of 21 from attendance.
Olivia Scibelli, one of the ten people that combined their know-how and experiences in DIY scenes to found DRKMTTR, explained to Original Fuzz that, "people under 21 are a huge part of the scene. Those kids need these DIY spaces the most." She also estimates that as much as 80% of the shows she has attended in her life have been in similarly non-traditional venues.
With every catastrophe comes a lesson and, amidst the crackdowns and blaming, there will always be those that use this learning experience to move forward with initiatives to improve their surroundings. In response, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf has announced $1.7 million to invest in the local arts community, intent on creating safe and affordable spaces for artists and their organizations. She then issued an executive order to review tenant protections in cases of displacement caused by evictions due to codes violations and told reporters that city workers would not be held at fault, but “rather, we will provide them the guidance, clarity and support they need and deserve to do their jobs."
DIY venue organizers and other unsung leaders of these communities have been mobilized by this tragic awakening to amass all of their shared knowledge about harm reduction for DIY venues with a Google doc. The continuously updated document outlines ways to modify locations for optimal safety, including diagrams and links to other resources.
One thing is left certain, these places are crucial to communities in almost every city in America and beyond. However, the future of such collectives is unclear. Scibelli concluded, "I want to emphasize that it's not just about showing up, cracking some beers and getting rowdy at the punk show. It's about fostering a global scene. It's about providing a safer space for people to enjoy music and art in areas like Nashville that are literally pushing artists out of affordable spaces. I wish we didn't lose sight of the fact that simply sharing art and experience, without a bottom line, fuels the world."—KLA
My year-end contribution to the fabulous ORIGINAL FUZZ blog and magazine is out now! Click here to check out the full feature. - Kari
2016 could easily be described as a banner year. With virtual reality making a breakthrough into the mainstream, fake news leading the social media headlines, and psychedelic drugs on track to be approved by the FDA, the future is becoming now and reality may seem like a dream—but we have survived, dear Fuzzheads. As we hurtle through this wild space-and-time shuttle into the year 2017, let's take a moment to reflect on some notable albums released in the past year.
ORANSSI PAZUZU - VÄRÄHTELIJÄ
Svart Records, February 2016
Staying true to their Finnish origins, Oranssi Pazuzu have polished the spaced-out, blackened sound in their newest effort. The anguished vocals and urgent riffs mirror their name, a reference to the Babylonian wind-demon. With a siren-like soundscape as backdrop, Oranssi Pazuzu brings ritualistic drums and emotional fuzz to a new place.
CLEAR PLASTIC MASKS - NAZI HOLOGRAM
Soft Junk Records, October 2016
Drawing their album name from the neo-fascistic quality of our current political atmosphere, Clear Plastic Maskswill take you on a scrambling dance and leave you feeling like a hurricane. Through a variety of foreboding stories and insistent keys, frontman Andrew Katz warps the narrative to suit his needs. He sings matter-of-factly in the title track, "It's just an illusion, honey, fuckin' with your mind."
ULTIMATE PAINTING - DUSK
Trouble in Mind Records, September 2016
Ultimate Painting's follow up to their acclaimed sophomore record finds a return of the sleepy hooks and demure harmonies we have come to adore. With an ethereal, movie-like quality, their modest take on earnest, folky psychedelia escorts listeners on a fluid journey through Dusk. We love Ultimate Painting so much that we teamed up with them earlier this year on a guitar strap as part of our Artist Series. We're confident you'll love them, too.
THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE - THIRD WORLD PYRAMID
A Recordings, October 2016
Joined by indie-psych darling Tess Parks and Norway's Emil Nikolaisen (Sarena-Maneesh), Anton Newcombe's fifteenth album came in like a lamb as the first fully recorded and produced at his new recording studio in Berlin. Featuring imagery evoking psych icons Spaceman 3 for the album art and a band that just won't quit, Anton manages to hit an extremely high bar set by his prior efforts. The droney, chant-like phrases almost reflect worship music, from the angelic choruses to the ominous prophecies.
HOLY SONS - IN THE GARDEN
Partisan Records, October 2016
The tender vocal melodies lent by Emil Amos (Grails, Om) meet and part with wandering harmony on this dreamy theme, produced by the legendary John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Kurt Vile). In The Garden has a peaceful confidence in its bright, soulful rhythms that comes solely from Amos, a man well-known for his nonstop touring and the multitude of releases under several monikers. Taking a hint from his cover of Del Shannon's "It's My Feeling," it would appear as though he's channeling some deep existential wisdoms from within and can hardly help but let the beauty flow in this nod to the aesthetic of essential albums of yesteryear.
PRINCE RAMA - XTREME NOW
Carpark Records, March 2016
The "Now Age" guru-sister duo Prince Rama brings a playful empowerment to this instantly classic album. Produced by Alex Epton (The Kills, Neon Indian), the long-anticipated Xtreme Now will leave you breathless and buzzing with energy, just the way they intended. Tribal drum beats, diversely inspired vocalizations and Prince Rama's relentless commitment to having fun will have you believing that everything is an instrument on the path to enlightenment.
DOUG TUTTLE - IT CALLS ON ME
Trouble In Mind Records, February 2016
Doug Tuttle (ex-MMOSS) issues easygoing promises and contemplates his options through airy harmonies and thoughtful melodies on his newest record. It Calls On Me is a relaxed departure from his previous albums, but still brings to mind cheerful images of flowers and sunshine streaming through tree branches on every track. Tranquil organ solos, reminiscent of the 1960s, and untroubled reflection will keep you hooked until the end.
GOAT - REQUIEM
Sub Pop, October 2016
Claiming possession by a village witch, Swedish rockers GOAT rode into our psyches to deliver an otherworldly message. An amalgamation of vintage rock tones, Baka Forest People vibes, cult hypnosis and a slew of other far-out influences, their aptly named double-album Requiem will ensnare your attention and become a quintessential favorite.