Last night came the fruition of a little project some friends and I had been working on for a little while now. I write for my university magazine and we wanted to boost it’s profile, so we decided to follow in the well trodden footsteps of NME, Pitchfork and the rest and put on some shows. The first gig was back in February with a bunch of exciting young bands from Cardiff, and last night was the second where we put on Casiokids, with some local support bands (Decimals and Hyener). Anyway, I thought I’d share this video my friend recorded of Casiokids last song Fot I Hose; you can’t see much but you can hear everything okay. Should also mention that Casiokids, who are very nice guys by the way, are releasing a new single on 7″ and download in June or July on Moshi Moshi.
I went to this show on a bit of a whim, but no live music for a few weeks will make you choose gigs on impulse. Papercuts are one of those bands that have flown under my radar, sure I’ve heard them mentioned a few times and seen the odd good review, but nothing’s ever convinced me to sit down with one of their records and get to know it. And so, I went to the gig with an open mind, and the infectious bass-line of the one track I had bothered to check out, new single Future Primitive, ringing in my ears.
Papercuts is the project of Jason Quever (the guy second from the left in the above photo), and live it’s clear to see that the rest of the band are taking their cues from him, continually looking to their leader for indications. Quever’s clearly an interesting character, I guess when you’re raised at a commune that comes with the territory, but live he keeps almost resolutely stum; when he does speak it’s to briefly introduce the band, and make requests to the sound engineer.
The sound quality isn’t great, and there’s occasional and disconcerting crackles coming from the Buffalo PA. With a band like Papercuts that can be a problem, and on listening to their new record subsequently I don’t think their set-up quite did them justice. Luckily, Quever’s voice came across brilliantly, and their dreamy vintage indie pop rubbed me up the right way. As enjoyable as they were, I felt that I could only half appreciate the set. Papercuts aren’t a band whose songs you can instantly grasp; not fully at least. What I can say in their favour though, is that now I’m going to make some time to spend with their new record, You Can Have What You Want.
This is the video for the excellent aforementioned Future Primitive, and it’s a good ‘un so give it a watch…
Following on from my last post, here is some more of that very same interview from Bristol a few weeks ago. I guess the most interesting thing Panda talks about here is the Animal Collective music-film that’s in post-production. Other topics covered include ‘Animal Collective go pop’, Merriweather Post Pavillion, Animal Crack Box and Summer festivals. Enjoy.
Me: How does living in Lisbon (Portugal) work with all the band stuff?
Panda Bear: At first it was really good, I don’t mean to say that it’s like a bad thing now, but at first I feel like because we were recording together and touring together all the time. I was around Dave more than anybody else in my life probably, and so I feel when I moved away it sort of gave us all space away from like the band stuff or the music stuff, so when we would get together again for a tour or for recording or whatever we would be really psyched to see each other and there was a good sort of vibe to everything, and there was a lot of excitement to it every time we would do it, rather than like, “oh… you again”. Not that it was like that, but sort of like a different thing, and it took a second probably to figure out the working process, and basically it’s evolved into everybody doing work on their own, and we’ll send some files over the internet and stuff like that, just to give everybody else an idea of what kind of songs we’re doing or whatever, or sounds, and there’s a little discussion about stuff, and then when we all get together in a room we like really hash it out.
Me: Regarding Merriweather, did you have a specific idea in mind of the record you wanted to make?
Panda Bear: We had a couple of thematic things we were really sure about, we really wanted to focus on bass, because we’d never really done that before, and it seemed like an exciting thing to do, and its such a major part of music that all of us get really into, like dub music from Jamaica, or more current dubstep stuff, so it’s a little funny we never thought of it before. For whatever reason, it seemed like the right time to do it now, but I don’t know if that really come through, it’s still pretty much like dance music.
Me: My friend likes a lot of dub, and he was never into you guys before, and he heard the new record and really likes it because of the dub influences…
Panda Bear: Oh sweet, so yeah, that, and we definitely did not want to do strict vocal harmonies, we’ve done a bunch of that before, so we just wanted to try a different approach to two people singing, rather than like this person sings this line and then the next person adds a harmony to that, so we got into the idea of two people singing main vocal parts that would be different, but somehow work together. Some songs highlight that more than others, Guys Eyes does, Taste is a bit like that, something like Also Frightened is an older way of us doing stuff, that’s more strict harmony stuff, but I like that song still. The bass and the singing stuff were the two really big things, we were sure about that, we wanted to focus on those two things. We also had this idea, well two sort of things, one was music experienced outdoors, we wanted it to sound like it was this organic space of something like that, and sort of with that idea we had this image of us playing as this little band underwater, not deep underwater, but at like a coral reef that’s really colourful with the light coming in.
Me: With Merriweather, a lot of people have sort of said it’s poppier and more accessible, is that something you were going for or did it just happen?
Panda Bear: Um, it definitely just happened, it wasn’t something we talked about like lets do something like this, strangely we’ve also got the other people saying the other thing to, like “this ones a little bit weirder than the last”. I feel like the comment, “Animal Collective go pop!” is something people have been saying for at least the last four albums. I guess the way I see it is more like, we all love pop music for sure, as much as anything else, and er, I can’t really say why it’s being reflected in something like this but I feel like we’ve kinda gone back and forth, like in the beginning, like way back ten years ago or so, when Dave and I were like 18 or something, we were writing songs that was pretty much straight ahead music for the most part, and then when we all ended up in New York, with Spirit They’re Gone… was really Dave’s album, and sounds pretty straight ahead to me, even though there’s abrasive sounds and stuff, the song structures are pretty clear and not traditional, but they’re easy to follow, where as with Danse Manatee we [decided] we didn’t want anymore of that style of music anymore, it’s something way more esoteric and wawaa and difficult to follow, and it’s kinda swung back and forth since then, Sung Tongs is more like the concrete side of things, to me this one is less tangible than Strawberry Jam or Feels, but I feel like the weirdness or the oddness of the music tricks you, the way everything is mixed, and this was definitely conscious, means nothing really stands out at you hard or is really abrasive or slaps you across the face, its all in this sonic spectrum that’s really easy to listen to in a way. But, sometimes when I listen, the way the vocals are, like sometimes I’ll hear my vocal part more than Dave’s, other times in like a car or something where the frequencies are different I’ll hear Dave’s more, and that sort of stuff is really weird and untraditional to me, or like unPop. But, the fact that there’s really heavy rhythms in the music, I think that’s the main thing, I feel mainstream music these days is all about really strong rhythms, good bass, nothing too crazy, and in that sense I would say that this album is pretty like, in that zone of things.
Me: Could you tell me a bit about the film you’re making?
Panda Bear: It’s with our friend Danny Perez, who did a music video for us several years ago for a song called Who Could Win a Rabbit, and we had talked about it since then, this idea of the combination of doing a music album and a film, and it’s taken a lot longer than we thought originally, but now I almost feel like that’s necessary in the way the work process has been, in that we worked on all the visual parts of things, there’s no lines or story to it, it’s kinda like a dream in a way. So we did all these visual situations and filmed all that stuff, and then we started making music to like fit the edits that Danny would do, it’s really crazy with the editing process, it’s almost as much of the visuals as like the filming of it, it’s really heavily manipulated. Danny puts a really artistic touch to it, it’s really tweaked. So we would start to do music that would go to the edits he was doing, and then he’d edit more so it was closer to what we were doing, and we would change the music and so on and so on. It’s kinda getting really close at this point, I hope that it’s done this summer; we’re really close now. I’ve started to get way more excited about it, before you couldn’t really see the thing or understand how it was going to work, but the more we work on it the more I can see where it’s going, I’m getting way more excited about it now. I hope it’s released this year – it’s going to be released on DVD.
Me: And is all of the music on it original?
Panda Bear: Yeah, I mean before it sort of seemed more of an aside or something for us, we do this music stuff and then we also do this, but now it seems like the next Animal Collective thing.
Me: Can you tell me a bit about Animal Crack Box?
Panda Bear: Animal Crack Box is a long time coming, just like the movie, it’s something we had talked about with Rob, because Rob used to put our records when nobody else wanted to (pauses) yeah that’s weird, I never thought about it like that, he was really the first person not us to put out our music, he put out the Danse Manatee album and Campfire Songs later on. It’s like a collection of three LPs worth of live recordings of ours, not really amazing live recordings, but it’s more about what we were doing then, sort of a document of what happened to us then, and I think it goes by side in stages for us, like one side is like the Sung Tongs live side, one side is just weird stuff we would do in the practice space back then, one side I think there’s some Here Comes the Indian tracks on there, I don’t think it goes any further than that. I don’t think there’s any Feels live stuff, its all like previous stuff.
Me: When’s it due out?
Panda Bear: Pretty soon, Chris who does sound for us also runs a distribution company and he’s going to be the exclusive distributor for it, so he won’t be able to start working on it until he gets back in like a week and a half, so I would assume within the next month or so, it should be out for real. I might get one, at least a cdr of that shit.
Me: Lastly, are you coming back to Europe in the summer to do any festivals?
Panda Bear: I think we’re doing a couple, but not very many. We’ve done a bunch of festivals in the past couple of years, but I think this year we’re trying to cool our jets with that one a little bit. I think we’re going to Japan for one, we’ll probably do one around [Europe], one in Japan, and one in the US.
Last week I was lucky enough to interview Panda Bear before Animal Collective’s Bristol show (22/03/09). The interview was for my student magazine, but I thought I’d post some of it up here as Noah gave me some interesting insights into what he wants to do with his next solo record. The most striking thing he said was that his next record wasn’t going to be sample based, anyway, read on…
Me: How do you write your songs? Is there like a set process, or does it change for different songs?
Panda Bear: Um, for the past 4 years I’d say its pretty much the same. I’ve been using like these samplers and I’ve written all the songs on those, and I’m sorta getting a little tired of that process, but for the past four years all the songs have been like me fooling around on the samples, like sounds and a lot of loops and repetitions of stuff, kinda going from that foundation.
Me: Do you have another solo album in the pipeline?
Panda Bear: Um yeah, I’ve gotten really specific, like I’ve been thinking about it for a while, it’s probably about a year now since I’ve been thinking seriously about what I want to do. With the last one, it was really loose and came together, and with this one I’ve got a much more concrete idea of exactly what I want to do, down to like the type of equipment I want to use, and I’ve got like a picture of the studio space that I want to make in my house or whatever, and that’s proving a little difficult in finding that space, I haven’t been able to yet. It’s really hard in Lisbon, I don’t know how a musician in Lisbon does it.
Me: So there’s no studios?
Panda Bear: There’s like artist spaces, but you can never be loud in them. There’s like this one place that when Animal Collective would come we would practice but those guys went out of business, I think it was a studio and three practice spaces, but that avenue has been deleted now, so I don’t really know, I’m still trying to figure out where to do the stuff, once I get that in motion and set up, which I feel like I could do, like as soon as I find the space I feel like I could set it up in like a week or something, then I’ll start recording stuff, I’ve got titles and I’m writing songs on guitar or piano and instead of using samplers.
Me: So it’s not going to be like Person Pitch?
Panda Bear: Yeah, it’s not going to be like sample-based at all, for sure, and I wanna do like, sort of like Person Pitch, I wanna do like 45s , with singles of two songs like an a-side and a b-side which are both pretty short, I’ve been really into music albums that are like, a lot of really short songs, instead of more sprawling things, I wanna do something that really like (makes rapidfire sound).
Me: Cool, what have you been listening to?
Panda Bear: Erm, that Erykah Badu record from last year I still really like, and this guy Zomby, I think he’s sort of thought of as a dubstep guy, but not totally. And, as far as that rapidfire stuff, that JD album called Donuts is really like that, I’m not totally sure he meant it to be an album like that, it definitely took me a couple of listens to get my head around what was going on, because it’s so like, one thing after another in succession really fast. The Erykah Badu record is a little bit like that, less so than the JD album, Black Dice’s new album is a bit like that too.
Interview to be published, in a different form, in Quench magazine later in April.
(I might post some more of the interview up in a few days, which is more Animal Collective/Merriweather orientated, but I need to finish transcribing it)
Back on Wednesday me and my gig buddy sidled down to Clwb to catch Dirty Projectors. They’ve been on my ‘to see list’ since I first sat down with Rise Above, and I wasn’t left disappointed. They were supposed to be headlining but the times were changed on the night, a bit of a shame as their set wasn’t as long as I’d hoped. Anyway, Longstreth and co started out as a sixpiece and played a lot of new material from the upcoming Bitte Orca, all of which sounded fantastic; particularly Remade Horizons. Later, they became a quartet and played some tracks from Rise Above, and I was so glad to hear some of those tracks live – Gimme Gimme Gimme was a personal highlight. It was all over too soon.
Something that surprised me about the set was the girls’ vocals. They made these really interesting harmonies together, creating an effect that I’d always assumed was done with a sampler or synths or whatever. Their drummer wasn’t what I expected either, he was a lot more ‘into it’ than you’d imagined, like, he wouldn’t be out of place on stage with Black Flag, adding a more aggressive dimension to their performance.
Polar Bear played afterwards, which is Seb Rochford’s band, as in the Mercury nominated jazz drummer, who looks like Sideshow Bob. They were really energetic and entertaining, and I hadn’t really seen much live jazz, not like that anyway, so I felt enlightened. One of their members irritated me a little though, he was making sounds with his laptop and various non-musical objects e.g. paintbrush, teaspoon, balloon, video-game controller hooked up to his mac. The balloon sounds worked really well, as did the brush, but I think everyone was thinking, ‘what crazy instrument is he gonna play next?’ I’m all for experimentation, but when it’s just reeled out like that I feel it devalues it into a sort of sideshow.
Anyway, Bitte Orca drops on June 9th, can’t wait!
I’m so excited by this festival, while I was hyped for ATP last year, the line-up here is even better. Myself and three friends will be staying in a hostel right by the sea, it’s going to be sunny, i’ll have finished my degree, and Barcelona is a beautiful city. I visited when I was like 13 years old with my parents, and I was so blown away by the Gaudi park and the Nou Camp.
I think an interesting way to judge a festival line-up is not by counting the bands you do want to see, but rather judge it on the bands you’ll definitely be missing. Suffice to say, there’s only a handful of acts I’ll be steering clear of at the Parc Del Forum.