October 23, 2013 Last week, we mentioned one of our most anticipated acts at the CMJ Music Marathon was producing and performing trio BASECAMP. And, as the CMJ diagnostic proves, they were well-worth the trek to NYC. Just kidding. Though we didn't actually make it out to the festival, this week we did catch up with band members Aaron Harmon and Jordan Reyes right after they arrived back from their busy week. Topics covered: what it was like performing as BASECAMP for the first time, their highly downplayed public profile and what it's like creating and producing in Nashville's music community. Read on for our exclusive interview, and watch a clip of their debut performance at The Bowery below (via musicobssessed). So how was CMJ? Aaron Harmon: It was fun. We played four shows but our first time was playing at The Bowery. Was that actually the first time you played together in public? AH: Yeah it was. Jordan and I had been in a band together for a while, but that was the first time as BASECAMP. Was it a different project? AH: Oh it was way different - it was a rock band. Indie rock? Classic rock? AH: No - It was like pop rock I guess, the best way to put it. It was called Enjoy The Zoo. Jordan and I have been in a band since we learned how to play instruments together so we've been doing it for a long time. We've known each other since first grade. You grew up in Nashville? AH: We grew up in Vegas, we moved to Nashville with our band about eight years ago. With Enjoy The Zoo? AH: Actually it was a different band at the time, the band was called The Beginner's Mind. It was actually a prog rock band, it was way different than Enjoy The Zoo. We've been through a lot of different changes. Well that's good, now that you've explored all these genres it gives you a wider perspective to draw from. AH: Oh no doubt, you know BASECAMP is loaded because of the journey we went through. What were your influences when you were in the pop rock and prog rock stages? AH: Well the prog rock I can tell you, straight up, we were like The Mars Volta, and Tool, Coheed and Cambria, that kind of sound. And then the pop rock we were more like Maroon 5 or Cobra Starship. Muse was kind of a big influence. Chili Peppers. Nice. So it's a more somber sound now, I feel like it's really calm and dark. Who's the person singing on tracks like "Emmanuel" and "Rydia"? AH: Aaron Miller is the vocalist. He has a very interesting voice. It reminds me of Beach House and Rhye - you can't really tell if it's distinctively masculine or feminine. Did he do any side projects before BASECAMP? AH: He was a singer in his own solo thing for a while before called Boss of Nova. That's an interesting play on words. Was it actually a bossa nova act? AH: No it was more along the lines of I guess what BASECEAMP became - that more chill kind of sound. So that was his own thing for a while. We met through a mutual friend - Chancellor Warhol, a rapper - who Aaron would sing for and me and Jordan would produce for. So that's how we linked up. What's it like being based out of country music's capitol? Do you have any local influences? AH: No. Not really at all. We're not really in the country scene at all [laughs]. There are really cool artists out here not necessarily in our genre, there's a growing music scene I'll say, a pretty cool rock scene. A little bit of a hip-hop scene - like Chancellor Warhol who we work with all the time. So you played four shows at CMJ. Did you guys have a goal going into your first live show - was there a creative aim or did you kind of wait and see what would happen? AH: There was definitely a goal. We were actually super nervous going into it just because it was our first show. And when we were originally writing this record, we weren't thinking about playing live ever - it just wasn't even in our minds. So being able to make music that wasn't designed to be played live translate right was a challenge. We didn't want to come across like DJs playing tracks and Aaron singing or anything like that. We come from a live background and we really love being on stage and performing so we wanted it to come across that way - like an actual band and not a DJ group. But we got a great response and it came out pretty cool. Was there a favorite performance you guys had out of the four? AH: They were all really fun but I think we all just let loose in the final show. It was the last night we were there - it was at Slake. Did you guys get a chance to check out any acts at CMJ in your downtime? AH: Yeah, we actually rolled over to the Cashmere Cat show, which was amazing. We played after Sweater Beats at the Vital show. He's someone we really love so it was cool watching him DJ. But we didn't get to see as many as we'd probably have liked to, but that was certainly a highlight of the shows I saw. Who would you say your influences are currently - or do you not have any? AH: Oh no we have probably a million. That's all we do, all three of us, all the time. We listen to music. And we all have common grounds of artists that we love, but we all kind of listen to different styles in a different way. I like Cashmere, I'm really into that Jersey kind of sound. Trippy Turtle, DJ Yellow Bear, all the way to Rhye - I'm kind of late to the game on that. Jordan Reyes: The Rhye record I've really been messing with. Really into Penthouse Penthouse right now. AH: Of course, we're all on that new Drake record. What's your favorite song? AH: I don't know I'm really getting into "Pound Cake" for some reason. I don't know it just feels so good. I hated it at first. I didn't like Jay Z's verse, but now I'm like "Oooh." I think I heard it in a mix and it was slowed down a little. Just researching you guys on the Internet, there's not really much out there. Did you intentionally try to create a mysterious persona around yourselves? AH: It definitely wasn't intentional at all. Like I said, we didn't really plan for this to be any bigger than just playing our record for our friends and maybe getting some licensing deals for commercials or movies. So I guess what we wrote the record for was just moody stuff for movies. Is there a reason why there aren't any publicity photos of you on your Facebook profile and website? AH: That was intentional. Eventually there will be photos up. And your audiences saw your faces at CMJ. The whole point of BASECAMP was originally to be synced up to movies, so we're very visual people. And it's all about the experience. I don't know, connecting my face to the music isn't a priority for me. We're not trying to hide our faces like with a mask, but when we put our music out and people are hearing our songs for the first time, I want it to be more art than selling you songs. JR: We're about vibes. AH: I think there are enough artists, bands, producers out there who are putting their faces on everything and trying to be big rockstars when that's not our goal at all. We're just trying to make good music and even pass that to eventually good art. What kind of films would you want your songs to score? AH: We like to throw up visuals while we're writing in the studio and movies on mute. Movies like Only God Forgives is something recent that is just beautiful front to back. And even big blockbusters. I thought Pacific Rim was one of the coolest-looking movies ever. So something really moody and cinematic. This past EP, Jordan collects a lot of photos, literally there were 8,000 photos cycling on the computer screen and t.v. while we're writing. Everything from beautiful women to crazy landscaping to fashion. Our studio's on an acre of land and a big forest behind us with a creek. It's really pretty and we have a window in our studio to look at, and during the winter it was freezing cold. That's what we love about Nashville. You're kind of in the zone, that winter vibe. That came through on your album, it's a little bit chilly. Are you working on an album now? AH: Not a record but we're working on our second EP What's that process been like? JR: We're just starting. AH: We had to stop all the writing to put the show together. It took a lot of time and just a lot of experimenting and failing until we got the show right. So we just haven't had the time to sit down and write because our mind's been elsewhere. But now that we got this leg of shows down, we're super excited to get back into the writing process. We've got some cool ideas going but we haven't finished anything yet.
October 17, 2013 This week, you've been hearing bits and pieces about the CMJ Music Marathon, which New York City is currently smack in the midst of. In spite of the festival's 1,300-plus acts, we can't help from fixating on the lineup, which includes established artists like The Dismemberment Plan and Placebo (who played their first show together in six years Tuesday night), as well as countless new and emerging bands. We're especially excited for the debut performances of several of our own featured artists, including BASECAMP, NONONO and Duologue. As the music marathon continues with today's College Day (stream it live here) we've put together a list of acts playing the festival who you should definitely know about. Check them out below. BASECAMP This emergent trio of producers from Nashville made their CMJ debut at The Bowery last night and will also play three more shows this weekend. In August, their quietly released self-titled EP revealed four stunning songs of downtempo electronic with shades of R&B. Download it for free here and stay tuned for more on the group from Ones To Watch. PAPA L.A. locals Darren Weiss and Daniel Presant's brand of jingly pop-rock takes its time to grow on the ears: you have to kind of let it slowly swish around your brain before the impact takes. Their debut LP, Tender Madness, has been making impressions this way since it released earlier this month. Stream it on Rdio here. Bishop Nehru This ambitious New Yorker keeps a coolly conscious profile way beyond his years, having already collaborated with J. Dilla at the ripe age of 16. The rapper and producer named himself after Tupac's character in the 1992 crime film Juice and the former independence leader and Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Jonathan Rado For those of you mourning the quick rise and fall of Foxygen, former frontman Jonathan Rado brings the lo-fi, sixties-reminiscent alt-rock sounds to Law and Order, his solo effort which debuted last month. NONONO One of the buzziest premiere bands this CMJ have been Stockholm's NONONO. Singer Stina Wäppling, a former psychology student at Brighton, teamed up with producers Astma and Rocwell to produce one of this fall's most elated indie-pop singles,"Pumpin Blood," which has already spawned countless remixes. Ryan Hemsworth Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth's keeps the electronic music quotient guessing with his unique mixing of shoegaze-y samples that touch on hip-hop. You can stream his latest album, Guilt Trips, via Pitchfork here. Torres Torres is 22-year-old singer-songwriter Mackenzie Scott. Based in New York (by way of Nashville, Tennessee), Torres' ardent, brooding voice translates over into a stirring live show. Her self-released, self-titled LP debuted earlier this year, featuring wonder tracks "Honey" and "Come To Terms." For more CMJ coverage, stay tuned at Ones To Watch.
October 11, 2013 [Photo: John Gleeson] October 10, 2013 - What's the formula for creating the next electronic-rock sensation? Of course there isn't one, but going into hibernation and experimenting seems to have worked for many a band, the latest being London's emerging electronic outfit, Duologue. For a winter, that's what songwriter Tim Digby-Bell and fellow musician and programming beats-head Toby Leeming did in an isolated barn in Suffolk, when they first began playing music together. From these experimental beginnings, the duo garnered enough intention and material to round out its membership to a five-piece. This past summer, the band landed spots playing the dance stages at the internationally-renowned Reading and Leeds music festivals, and that was only the beginning. This week, Duologue traveled to the U.S. to promote the release of their debut album, Song & Dance (out this week via Killing Moon). The group is slated to headline tonight's Culture Collide Festival in Los Angeles, which showcases emerging international musicians at various local venues in the eclectic music enclave of Echo Park. The following week, the group will travel to New York to play at the CMJ Music Marathon. Prior to their Culture Collide performance, Ones To Watch caught Duologue at a private showcase at the Bootleg Theater, where the London rockers unleashed an impressive set of rollicking techno beats and moody instrumental connections. Before the show, we sat down with singer and instrumentalist Tim Digby-Bell, who'd just hopped off a plane the day after the rest of the group arrived. The reason? Digby-Bell is also a playwright (he's a big Samuel Beckett and Tennessee Williams fan) and was attending a reading for a play he'd written in London. Ones To Watch: How did you all meet each other and form Duologue? Digby-Bell: We were all up in University of Edinburgh. Toby and I - the blonde Toby [there are two in the group] - started jamming together and kind of had a real shared taste in music and wanted to experiment playing with electronics. Toby was playing Detroit techno, I was singing in a pub, then we got together and started messing around. We set up in a barn in Suffolk and just spent a few months freezing our asses off and trying to write music. It was a really slow process and we eventually got material together that we felt was good. Then we felt that what we'd written was too big of a sound for the two of us to play, so that's when we started thinking about getting other people on board. We got Seb and Ross and the other Toby slowly. We really wanted to take our time with it and make sure it was the best we could be. Ones To Watch: You mentioned you and Toby had similar tastes, so what kind of sound were you going for? Digby-Bell: Well I think the whole idea was we wanted to start with something without a drummer, Tobes is a massive techno head, and we're both really into electronic and dance music and we wanted to make something that had all those elements - we wanted the energy and the sound palette that you can change up, but then also at the heart of it we wanted to have songs and songwriting and the singer and lyrics and everything like that. We just wanted to combine the two a bit - the bits we love from dance music and the bits we love from traditional songwriting. There were a lot of misses, a lot of things we tried and didn't work, but it really opens up - you can explore any kind of genre, that's the most exciting bit about being in this band. You can go anywhere you want - you're not limited by the instruments you have on stage, you have an infinite choice of sounds and choice of vibe and atmospheres. The possibilities of electronic music are endless. Ones To Watch: So how would you describe where you ended up with Song & Dance? How did that concept come together? Digby-Bell: Well the album is the product of years of work, and some of which was done just before the album session. I demo-ed "Underworld" two weeks before we went in and thankfully we all pushed it through. And there are other songs that we wrote years before. It's really snapshots from all kinds of bits of our lives. "Push It" is on there in the middle of the album, which is the first song we put together as a five-piece. We just put a four-four on loop and just jammed on that for literally weeks and then ended up with a seven minute song that sounded like it's being jammed live. Then we wanted the album to have different moods and different characters to it: to be really lonely at times and be really content at times, then have moments of tension and release in them. Moments that were sumptuous. We got a wonderful string quartet to come play with us. I think the one thing we're keen on is to have a real variety and breadth on an album. We wanted an album that could have really small, intimate moments and sort of a much bigger electronic sound. So like any album, I think it's got to have its various moods and peaks and drops that makes it a work as a whole rather than just a collection of songs. Ones To Watch: What's your aim with your live shows? Particularly playing with electronics, it's hard for it to come across as particularly live sometimes. We've tried to make it as live and exciting as possible, and be kind of banding, do you know what I mean - and be more. Maybe on record it's more a half and half thing, but certainly live we want it to feel like there's a lot of synergy; we do a lot of live looping. Ones To Watch: So a lot of live collaborating. Digby-Bell: Yeah, and exploring bits of songs and taking it to different places you couldn't on a record, and blending it together kind of like a DJ. Ones To Watch: Your voice has been compared to Thom Yorke's a lot, which is obviously a compliment, but do you fear being pinned to just, say, Radiohead? Digby-Bell: We do get that a lot, and we can't deny we're fans… it's only a compliment I guess. I sing, and that's just the way I sing. So I can't really help if people draw that comparison. And in general I suppose it's not like we're an indie band that sounds like so many other indie bands. It's just our aim is trying to do something different if we can. I don't really think about it much, to be honest. We're just very keen to take our time. I think we've gotten to a place now where we can write really quickly and we feel our live show's the best we've been. And I think it's good to let it brew and ruminate. Ones To Watch: Are you excited for Culture Collide? Digby-Bell: So excited, I need to get over my jetlag. Looking forward to it. For more on Duologue, we’ll be covering them and other new artists at this weekend’s Culture Collide Festival. Follow us @Onestowatch for live coverage and photos!
October 3, 2013 Portugal. The Man has had an amazing run in 2013 on their Evil Friends Tour. Here’s our favorite moment from their show at Terminal 5 in NYC. Photo: Francesca Beltran, CMJ. More cool content from PTM at http://ones2wat.ch/ptm