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by Rob McCallum

12 Jan 2011


Veiled. Mysterious. Masked. Call Nika Roza Danilova what you will. As Zola Jesus, she has certainly been a shrouded figure since her first release on Sacred Bones Records last year. Carving out a unique space—much in the vein of a young Kate Bush or Björk—to sit in since she shot to the forefront of the blogosphere last year, it’s hard to believe the operatically trained 21-year-old from Wisconsin is such a new figure in the music scene, as she presents a sound with a maturity way beyond her years.

There was an undeniable lack of expectancy for the transition she made from the solitary lo-fi of last year’s The Spoils to the all-enrapturing ethereal pop on this year’s Stridulum EP. It is a transition that seems to signal her ascendancy into the art-pop hall of fame as – backed by her new band – she embarks on a tour later this year with the Swedish songstress of insomnia, Fever Ray. Popmatters finds out more.

Zola Jesus is a stage name. Are you getting into a character when you record/perform your music?
No, that would be dishonest. Zola Jesus is too personal for that.

Do you still write/record all the music alone?
Yes.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

30 Nov 2010


Freekbass arrived at Moogfest in October with a different Headtronics trio than usual, which is just part of the footprint for the band. He’s a protégé of legendary funk bassist/singer/songwriter Bootsy Collins, and in Asheville, Freekbass was hanging out with another legend, the “Wizard of Woo” Bernie Worrell of P-Funk. DJ Spooky was enlisted to take the place of DJ Logic but this seemed perfect, since he’s the one who appeared in the Moog documentary along with Worrell. Every show is start to finish improv, all crazy funk with bass, electronic beats and keyboards—no matter who is playing the show.

Are you enjoying Moogfest? Is there anyone you want to see?

Oh yeah, definitely.  I want to actually see [DJ] Spooky’s own set. I’m also excited to see Dan Funk who is a Los Angeles DJ kind of musician and I love really where he’s coming from, his whole headspace and what he’s doing. So we’re just trying to squeeze in as much on this Halloween as we can, you know?

Tell me about your Funktronic sound.

Well we came up with that word.  There’s obviously the electronica music scene, which is huge, and then there’s the jam band scene.  So it’s combining that—a lot of people have been using “jamtronica” for a little bit. But we’re coming from the organic side, from a funk sensibility which is kind of where my roots are obviously. Bernie’s roots, that needs not to be said, and then you mix the electronic in with it too. We started playing a few shows and a little catchphrase started catching on—“funktronica—and I thought that’s a pretty cool word.  It seems to really match what we were doing.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

23 Nov 2010


Since 1999, the Octopus Project has been forging a new hybrid known as indietronica by happily expanding upon the quintessential rock quartet to include modern techno gizmos and vintage experimental gadgetry. Rarely relying on vocals to explain the soundscape, each member plays all sorts of instruments—even switching to another mid-song.  While at Moogfest in Ashville, North Carolina over Halloween weekend, the group was called upon to quickly learn a few Devo classics to play with Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerry Casale after Bob Mothersbaugh was injured. The very next day Toto Miranda plus married couple Josh and Yvonne Lambert sat down to catch their breath with PopMatters.

by Crispin Kott

29 Sep 2010


They’ve fought a volcano to tour North America, so the very least you could do is turn out to hear first wave British shoegaze legends Chapterhouse bend nature to its will with howling guitars. Chapterhouse begins its brief journey on Friday, October 1. It may prove to be the group’s final act.

Because fame is fickle, especially in Great Britain, Chapterhouse was swept up in the early ‘90s as darlings of “the scene that celebrates itself” before being unceremoniously dismissed as pointy-headed navel contemplators by a hyperbolic media suddenly in thrall to Britpop.

History has been far kinder to Chapterhouse, whose legacy has survived thanks to a stellar debut (Whirlpool), a genre-defying sophomore effort (Blood Music), and an expansive career retrospective which left its fans longing for more. With their North American tour looming, Andrew Sherriff and Stephen Patman took the time to speak to PopMatters.

“Bar another volcano, we’ll be there,” says Sherriff, joking about the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, which left Patman stranded in Japan back in May just as the band was meant to begin the tour it is finally able to undertake.

“Although we were psyched up and really wanted to come out and do the shows, we were also quite tired, because there was an intense period where we had the Japan tour and the Scala gig in London as well,” Sherriff said. “It was quite full on, and in a way we had more time to be relaxed for this tour. We’ve been taking full day rehearsals rather than evening rehearsals, and we feel that we’re in a better state to cope with this now.”

by Christian John Wikane

28 Sep 2010


A Ferris wheel is an appropriate metaphor for the career of Bruce Sudano. Like a passenger car rotating full circle, he’s traveled 360 degrees. The towering palm trees in the video for “A Glass of Red and the Sunset”, which captures the Ferris wheel at Venice Beach, greeted the Brooklyn-born musician when he first moved to the west coast in the early-‘70s to explore the singer-songwriter scene. Now that the Nashville-based Sudano has relocated to Los Angeles to begin writing material for his fourth solo album, palm trees once again shape his surroundings.

In fact, any occasion that brings Bruce Sudano to Los Angeles inevitably serves as a career benchmark. He appeared as one of six faces frolicking in the waves at Malibu on the eponymous debut of Alive ‘N Kickin’ (1969). Years after the New York City-based band landed a Top Ten hit with the Tommy James-penned “Tighter, Tighter”, Sudano moved back to the West Coast and re-emerged as one-third of pop/soul trio Brooklyn Dreams. Following the success of his third solo album, Life and the Romantic (2009), Sudano is once again drawing on the City of Angels for inspiration.

Sudano employs a contemporary jazz sensibility on “Beyond Forever”, the third single off Life and the Romantic.  The whispery sheen of the song is a career best for a songwriter who’s often traversed a chameleonic course over the pop landscape. Exhibiting a fluency in many milieus, his songs have topped both the R&B and dance charts (the rare Michael Jackson and Jermaine Jackson duet, “Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming”) and country (Dolly Parton’s recording of “Starting Over Again”). Of course “Bad Girls”, which he wrote with Donna Summer and his Brooklyn Dreams cohorts, was a cross-over smash that crowned the pop, R&B, and disco charts in 1979. In more recent years, his own solo sides have reached the summit of the Adult Contemporary charts (“It’s Her Wedding Day”) and are even now becoming a presence on smooth jazz radio stations (“A Glass of Red and the Sunset”).

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