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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Summer/Autumn Features: Butter The Children, Sua, Heliotropes, ERAAS + DeliMag Print Issue #35

The Deli Magazine has now published its Late-Summer/Early Autumn Print Issue (No. 35, Vol. 2), which includes a number of feature interviews conducted and written by Dave Cromwell.



There is a playful element running through the speedy punk music of New York City’s Butter The Children. Revealing themselves to be keenly aware of the irony all around us (as well as outright fans of classic comedy) vocalist Inna, guitarist Ray, Drummer Jordyn and bassist Jon bring an intelligent approach to an often maligned genre. The more amusing elements of our television culture serve as a catalyst for the lyrical content running through much of the bands self-titled seven song EP. Angular guitar lines snake behind straightforward progressions, proving ample sonic hooks for your ears to latch on to. Having recently signed to the prestigious Downtown Records label, expect to see the bands profile continue to expand in the coming months.


Q: I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but for readers here being introduced to you for the first time, can you explain the meaning or origin of your band name?

A: Inna: It's a family name. Ray: It's a Jonathan Swift reference. Jon: CHILDREN, PREPARE 2 GET BUTTERED Jordyn: Paula Deen jk

Q: You seem to favor quick short burst punk rock songs, with each one on your record clocking in under three minutes, and a few at or even under two minutes. Yet they are all relatively speaking lyrically quite dense. Is there one member of the band who writes most of these lyrics, or is there some collaboration?

A: . Inna: I write all the lyrics. Ray: I wrote most of the music on the self titled EP, Inna would write the vocal melodies though. Jordyn: I love Inna’s lyrics! I sometimes mishear them and then Inna’s like No you fucking dummy it’s this! ( just kidding, she never says that).  Jon: I'm really new to the band but I certainly have seen many a live show where bands play for way too fucking long, and so we like to keep songs and sets on the short side for that reason (not to say long songs can’t be pulled off, but for our type of material we feel it’s better to have the audience left wanting more).



Q: What inspired you to immortalize local legend, yet arguably fringe adult film practitioner “Robyn Byrd” in song? Perhaps the subject matter goes deeper than simply this person?

A: . Ray: If you were born after 1985 and checked out channel 33 after dark and a dude, then you knew that the commercials on the Robin Bird show had the best whacking off material on basic cable. The show itself was kind of terrible, but the commercials were great spank bank material for young minds. Inna: I just really like her and thought she was someone worthy of an homage. Her show is just so bizarre. It's got this gross, unflattering lighting and everyone is a total amateur and it's almost grotesque in a sense, but then Robin will come on and, like, lick someone's nipple and then tell you to be sure to brush your teeth before bed. She's great. I hear she lives on a houseboat now. But yeah, I guess in a larger sense, the song is just about an idea I had of this person who works a shit job and feels like he can't relate to anyone around him, and then he comes home and watches Robin Byrd's show and it makes him feel less alone. Oh, and we spelled her name differently for the song so we wouldn't get sued.

Q: “Vermin Supreme” appears laden with political commentary. Is there any effective way we can shield ourselves from the daily attempts by these flawed powers-that-be to manipulate and subjugate us?

A: . Inna: Well, it's funny you mention that, because this song is actually about satirical presidential candidate Vermin Supreme, and I feel like that's exactly what he does, through satire, and I think that's really interesting. Sometimes things are so bad that the best you can do to not go insane is to laugh at them. Vermin does exactly that by taking the act of being a political candidate to its natural, absurd conclusion. And I guess masking the deranged nature of it all with humor is kind of a shield in itself, if that makes any sense. Ray: Vermin is a personal buddy of mine. While I don't share his overall anarchist viewpoint, I have a deep love of political satire, and once something is satirized it’s harder for it to remain able to manipulate and subjugate you.




Q: Straightforward rocker “Prognosis Negative” has a great angular guitar line that echoes the brilliant work of Robert Quine with Richard Hell and The Voidoids. While the hard charging rager “Lupus” positions Inna’s strong and forceful vocals nearer to Siouxsie Sioux on her earliest records. Are you fans of that era of music, and do you feel a sonic kinship with those artists?

A:. Inna: I loooove that era of music. I never really got into Siouxsie Sioux but I love Richard Hell and pretty much every project he was involved in. I love Fear and the Ramones and X and Blondie. When anyone asks me what kind of music I like I usually just tell them I like stuff from the late 70s through the early 80s and the late 80s through the early 90s. That about sums it up, I think. Ray: I pretty much just listen to Super Nintendo music, Momus, The Fall, and Captain Beefheart, but I like that other stuff too. Jon: In addition to what Ray and Inna said, I like tons of random 70's stuff from as soft as ELO to as harsh as Throbbing Gristle, and have definitely gone through phases of listening to punk-influenced pop from that era that was more under the radar in addition to the obvious stuff like the Clash and Sex Pistols (ex: The Smirks, The Favourites, The Homosexuals).  I'm extremely influenced by John Peel's approach to seeking out music old and new and as diverse as possible, always trying to keep my ears open and going on long Youtube journeys, there were so many underdog rock groups that deserve wider recognition.

   Q: “Rochelle Rochelle” is an amusing title as it namechecks a classic Seinfeld episode. Are you fans of that show? Are there any other comedies or comedians that you feel are worthy of mention?

A: Inna: We love Seinfeld. Prognosis Negative and Flesh Wound in Ithaca are actually Seinfeld references as well, and then we have a song on our upcoming LP called Sacked Lunch. Also Seinfeld. But yeah, I love comedy in general. My favorite modern comedian is probably Louis C.K., but other than him I really like Bill Hicks. Ray: Garry Shandling is my personal and spiritual hero/guru. I have never been able to relate to anyone on television other than Larry Sanders. Jordyn: I wasn't in the band at the time this EP was written, but I also was obsessed with Seinfeld for a time. Jon: I think it’s safe to say Seinfeld influences us in our day-to-day more than we can ever fully realize.

This interview appears in an edited form in The Deli Magazine, Print Issue No. 35, which can be found here:
Deli Magazine Print Issue No. 35

And directly on The Deli Website here:
http://www.thedelimagazine.com/FeatureView.php?artist=butter-the-children

EQUIPMENT/RECORDING INTERVIEW

- How much of your recording is done at home versus in the studio?

Ray: All of it is done in the studio.

- What are the pieces of equipment that you find particularly inspiring when recording at home?

Ray: We don't record at home, but if we did, probably the bong and any bottle of cabernet.
Jordyn: Whenever I recorded with previous projects at home, we definitely needed a lot of coffee, tea, whiskey, candy, and frequent breaks to do something physical, like hula hooping or taking walks. I don't really remember much about specific brands of equipment; we always were just using whatever we had and spending frustrating amounts of time trying to make it sound decent.

- If you use a studio, what do you record there and what do you record by yourself and why?

Ray: We record in a studio because its helpful to have professional and objective people in the room with you. I love being in the studio, it feels like I’m alive and in my element, I spend as much time there as possible.
Jordyn: I sort of dislike being in the studio, I psych myself out thinking about how what I'm about to play will be permanently released into the world, forever. I like to have a lot of friends for support but also who are honest enough to give constructive criticism, especially if they know what I'm capable of playing or not playing.

- What one piece of hardware/software would you most like to add to your recording setup (cost not an issue)? Why?

Ray: A Volcano Vaporizer as it leaves your lungs pristine.
Jordyn: Some electronic drums and synthesizers, and effects pedals hooked up to the mics. Not that I forsee any of that working with BTC right now, but always wanted to try it.

- Do you expect your next record to be self-produced, or would you like to work with a producer? If it’s the latter, who would you most like to produce your band, and why?

Ray: As long as I am a co-producer or producer, I don’t really give a shit. I would love to work with whomever the guy was that did Hex Enduction Hour by the fall, I think production wise that record is perfect.
Inna: At one point we were considering kickstarting a recording session with Steve Albini. I think he’d be pretty awesome to work with just cos I’m a fan of his work.
Jordyn: For this new record we worked with Jesse Harris and with Ray they did a great job. I can't even think about the next record right now.




- Do you use rack effects or guitar pedals to forge your own sound? If you do, please list the ones you use the most and let us know why you love them.

Ray: I love my OCD pedal for certain things, but I prefer getting a genuinely lush sound out of the amp and layering that with more guitars if need be. I personally love Fender amps with big speakers.

- Do you have a particular recording style that you aim for? What techniques do you employ to recreate it?

Ray: I like to do things to a click and then push layer upon layer upon layer. Later on I like to do a heavy analysis on the songs and then try out messing around with parts and cutting out things to see if it adds to the tracks.

- Who determines the direction and style of your recordings?

Ray: It’s my way or the fuck yourself and eat a dick way.
Jordyn: We do, and whoever else was involved. This was the first recording session where we had a producer, engineer, and a manager all delivering their input, as if another band member was present.

- Is there a person outside the band that's been important in perfecting your recorded or live sound?

Jordyn: I guess just advice from our friends who have seen us, sound guys who have worked with us. Inna: We worked with Jesse Harris and Pat Dillett on our forthcoming LP and it was a wonderful experience all around. They totally understood the sound we were trying to evoke and helped us achieve that, all while allowing us plenty of creative freedom. Basically, I couldn’t have asked for a better recording experience.

Ray: I would like to say that some of our friends who have since passed have had a huge impact on the way we carry ourselves, and have helped us to take ourselves seriously with their memory in mind.




- What other artists would you say have had the biggest influence in your approach to recording? Why?

Inna: If I had to choose a single artist I would say the Pixies. They’re probably my favorite band ever and I love the production quality on every single one of their records. We definitely take a lot of cues from them when it comes to recording, whether it’s a conscious decision or not--like with the drums on Surfer Rosa. And that record was produced by Steve Albini, too, coincidentally. I feel like you can hear a lot of that influence in our new record.

Ray: Like I mentioned before, the Fall has had a huge influence on me in terms of production value (specifically Hex Enduction Hour; some Fall albums are purposely recorded terribly though nonetheless fantastically) and also the kind of effort Brian Wilson would put into his recordings inspires me as well.

- Would you say that your live show informs your recording process or that your recording process informs your live show? Both? Neither?

Jordyn: I dont think we have much of a 'recording process' other than that we tried to implicate the same vibe, energy, and delivery that we create live. We had the advantage of professional equipment to achieve the perfect balances in mixing, and to include lots of vocal, guitar, and keyboard overdubs. But I think when you hear the record it sounds just like how we sound live, although maybe with more players.

- Is there a piece of equipment that you find particularly useful on stage?

Ray: Anything that works is good enough for me. I like fender stuff as it’s sturdy and dependable. Jordyn: I could go on way too long about this. I've become pretty particular about certain pieces of drums just because I've had too many experiences arriving at a gig where I can't adjust the drum throne or something, and then my whole body has to adjust to playing in a way I'm not used to. I lean towards DW drum equipment. I have a bass pedal with a nylon strap instead of a chain, and I love that because it can move swiftly and I never have to worry about the chain displacing or falling apart.



- With bands doing more of everything themselves these days (recording, performing, self-promoting, etc.) and the evermore multimedia nature of the world, how much effort do you put into the visual component of your band - fashion, styling, photography, graphic/web design, etc.? Do you do these things yourself or is there someone that the band works with?

Jordyn: We're going through a major transition in this as we recently signed with a record label. Prior to this experience, we had friends do artwork for us - such as Sydney Howells who drew our first EP cover, and a Tshirt design. But now, we have been working as a team with the label concerning these things. So far they've given us a lot of freedom over our image while offering some ideas and input, for example they asked photographer Lyle Owerko to work with us for our album art and for a music video, which has been fun and different. I feel like we know what we want and what we like for these components but we are open minded and not too picky.

Inna: We’ve had the chance to work with lots of amazingly talented people. Photographer Danny Krug  for one, and lately we’ve been working with Lyle Owerko, which was a lot of fun. We just try to be ourselves with everything we do and hope it works.

- What do you find to be the most challenging aspects of the recording process? On the flipside, what aspects are the most rewarding?

Ray: The most challenging thing is to check myself and allow other people to include their input. I tend to believe that things taste better when there are fewer cooks in the kitchen, but its important to have a number of people looking objectively at it. The most rewarding thing is having a finished product that you are proud of.

Jordyn: It's awesome to hear yourself recorded and be pleasantly surprised at your performance, but it is nerve wracking to go in there and put pressure on yourself to do your best. It also sucks to be disappointed in your performance. Either way you have to learn to be happy with what turned out if you did your best. Inna: I’d say the most challenging aspect of recording would be having to do takes of the same part/song over and over again until you get it right. The most rewarding is actually getting it right.

Jon: I didn’t play on this album but I’m looking forward to the next one if we get there; the newest song we’ve written called “Animal” is really fun to play.


*****





With the recent release of their latest EP "Twins," New York City’s Sua add fresh ideas to the dreamgaze sound while never straying too far from that genre’s ultimate appeal. The title track comes initially powered by pitch bended guitars over fluid drumming, while female lead vocals occupy a tonal quality and presentation that lands somewhere between The Cocteau Twins and Asobi Seksu. At nearly 6 minutes in length, there’s more than enough room for multiple soft vocal passages, forceful guitar explosions, a uniquely placed minor chord as well as a stereo field panning psyched-out coda. “All You Have” shuffles along a brightly percussive pattern as multiple layers of guitars create alternately pitched sonic walls around the seductively sweet, centrally placed vocals. “Beach 90” celebrates those “summer days in the rockaways” with light near-jazzy vocals, while guitars played by overt disciples of Kevin Shields deliver alternately measured skewer and punch. “Welcome” juxtaposes casual, airy vocals against a busy rhythm section and angular time changes for an auspicious result.

Sua on The Deli by Dave Cromwell

Additionally, the band won The Deli Magazine Artists of the Month for September - as voted by the readers.


*****



2013 has already proven to be a most productive year so far for Brooklyn’s own heavy rockers Heliotropes. Releasing their debut full length record “A Constant Sea” on Manimal Vinyl records to widespread critical acclaim and audience support, the band appears to be on a steadily rising trajectory. The record is a high level accomplishment of quality songs, inspired performances and impeccable production. Signature track “Early In The Morning” leads everything off and places an immediate stranglehold on the listener. The momentary quiet “plateau” passage within only serves to setup additional riff-heavy bombast. The band members consist of Jessica Numsuwankijkul on lead guitar and vocals, Amber Myers on vocals and percussion, Cici Harrison on drums, and Nya Abudu on bass. Catching one of their live shows drives home just how locked in each member is to the overall rhythm. Jessica’s powerful guitar riffs are supported flawlessly by Nya’s bass. The seamlessness of that pairing can go unnoticed until you take a moment to become aware of it. Tracks like “I Walk Upon The Water,” “Psalms” and “Good and Evil” provide ample proof of this. It’s a low down dirty groove and never veers off into uncontrolled noise. The album is not all bombast, however. Quieter tracks like “Everyone Else” and “Unadorned” place emphasis on softer vocal performances accompanied by acoustic guitar and very little else.

Q: The subject of “heartbreak” might possibly be the single most referenced feeling written about in songs. Even if it may not be speaking about the big, devastating romantic fallout kind, would you agree that our daily lives are filled with constant little “heartbreaks?”

A: Not really. In fact, I would think that heartbreak is the least of our worries.

Q: There appears to be piano chords on “Awake” as well as electric keyboards on some of the other tracks like “Christine.” How did these instruments get chosen to be added and did someone in the band play them?

A: Jeff Berner (our engineer) played the chords on Awake and Matthew Flory Meade played the Rhodes on Christine. We felt we needed those keys. I just felt the keys were appropriate.

Q: Is there any sense of irony being presented in your heavier, 70’s style groove-metal tracks? Like opener “Early In The Morning” or additional raveups like “Ribbons” and “The Dove.” That perhaps you are giving a knowing wink to the founders of heavy rock, via your present day sound?

A: No. That is just how we wanted those songs to sound.



Q: “Good and Evil” is another heavy track, with significant lyrics that go “who wanna corrupt your heart? Destroy your mind?” and “I don’t believe in good and evil anyway.” Is this an acknowledgement that since there are both good and evil existing in all people at the same time, that one can’t simply label anyone (or thing) as either?

A: It's a general commentary on how good and evil is a hackneyed dichotomy.

Q: The peculiarly titled “Quatto” contains lyrics that go “one of these days I’m going to jump right out of my skin - one of these days I’m going to jump right back in.” What was the inspiration for this particular track?

A: We named it after the most horrible thing in the classic 1990’s Science Fiction movie “Total Recall.”



Q: If you could do a set of any 70’s era heavy rock band – who would be your dream choice?

A: Pink Floyd. Brian Eno. Kate Bush

This interview appears in an edited form in The Deli Magazine, Print Issue No. 35, which can be found here:
Deli Magazine Print Issue No. 35

And directly on The Deli Website here:
http://www.thedelimagazine.com/FeatureView.php?artist=heliotropes

_____
 
EQUIPMENT/RECORDING INTERVIEW with Jessica

- How much of your recording is done at home versus in the studio?

It was all done on our iPhones and the studio

- What are the pieces of equipment that you find particularly inspiring when recording at home?

Space Echo Garage Band (because we're recording dumb) Wurlitzer Piano (it's at mine and amber's apartment) -- I wrote half the songs on it.




- If you use a studio, what do you record there and what do you record by yourself and why?

We record at GaluminumFoil Studios in Brooklyn with Jeff Berner. We record everything there. We don't record anything alone.

- What one piece of hardware/software would you most like to add to your recording setup (cost not an issue)? Why?

I'd like to add a mellotron to our set-up because it would be extraneous and ridiculous.




- Do you use rack effects or guitar pedals to forge your own sound?

No.

- Do you have a particular recording style that you aim for? What techniques do you employ to recreate it?

The clean and multi-layered style of Butch Vig albums, I guess.



- Who determines the direction and style of your recordings?

Mom.

- Is there a person outside the band that's been important in perfecting your recorded or live sound?

Jeff Berner.



- What other artists would you say have had the biggest influence in your approach to recording? Why?

Steve Albini, Butch Vig.

- Would you say that your live show informs your recording process or that your recording process informs your live show? Both? Neither?

Our Recording process informs our live show, but only a little.



- Is there a piece of equipment that you find particularly useful on stage?

Big Muff Pi. I like it because it's big and fuzzy and wonderful and smelly.

- With bands doing more of everything themselves these days (recording, performing, self-promoting, etc.) and the evermore multimedia nature of the world, how much effort do you put into the visual component of your band - fashion, styling, photography, graphic/web design, etc.? Do you do these things yourself or is there someone that the band works with?

We're really bad at all of that stuff, so nothing really.

- What do you find to be the most challenging aspects of the recording process? On the flipside, what aspects are the most rewarding?

The most challenging aspect is not working with Jeff Berner. The most rewarding is working with Jeff Berner.

*****



Brooklyn darkwave texturalists ERAAS have announced the follow-up to their highly regarded self-titled debut with the soon to be released “Initiation.” The full length is set to hit the streets November 12 on Felte Records’ imprint. First single “Old Magic” can now be heard via the labels soundcloud page, revealing details on how the band’s sound continues to evolve. Built on a steady percussive beat and progression-defining bassline, initial surrounding spaces come filled with what sounds like the subtle crackling noises of an old vinyl record.  Ominous falsetto vocals present the songs lyrical content as sleigh bells enter the mix, giving the percussive element additional focus. Muted synth textures are introduced, further contributing to a disquieting atmosphere.



ERAAS on The Deli by Dave Cromwell

Dave Cromwell Interview with ERAAS here

*****

17 comments:

The Grim Reefer said...

This is a lot to digest at one sitting. And that's a good thing.
perhaps I'll comment further after a thorough perusal.

DaveCromwell said...

I realize there is quite a bit of reading here, TGR. Two complete interviews (both having two separate parts), plus other features on additional noteworthy bands. Make your way thought at a pace that works for you. More specific thoughts and comments after that are always appreciated.

Patricia Mena said...

Very nice review Dave, good bands. Heliotropes - The Dove... Cool song, love the rhythm, guitars.
Eras - Old Magic.. Sounds really magical, like occult. One thing that captured me was the logo.. so original and creative... *__*

DaveCromwell said...

Ah - as a visual artist yourself, Paty - I can see how you would be keenly aware of ERAAS' logo. I have to admit it IS pretty cool. Good to know the 'rhythms' and 'magical sounds' have caught your interest as well.

The Grim Reefer said...

I am now a fan of Butter The Children, I like the way they subvert convention with that..."who us?" ambiance. What can initially seem skewed in their music soon makes perfect sense. I'm really taken by this band & I've ordered their cd's.

DaveCromwell said...

That is too cool, Reefer! I know - their lyrics are really great. I love all the little Seinfeld references in their song titles too. Not only are they a great rocking punk band - but they do it with wit and intelligence.

Ivanka said...

wow!!! so many nice bands, cool tunes, photos and interview!! I enjoyed!!! Well done Dave, great job!!!

Mr Smork said...

cool feature.
cool interview.
so many bands and good stuff takes me ages to read... :P

though i dig "heliotropes"

as for associations - "eraas" kind of reminded me - bjork. :P

DaveCromwell said...

Great to hear you enjoyed, Ivanka.

I'm sure you are somewhat familiar with Heliotropes, Mr. Smork - as I've written about them here more than a few times in recent months.

Interesting comparison between ERAAS and Bjork. I can see what you mean.

Mirror said...

Ray Magdaleno (on Facebook) wrote:

Pretty rockin' stuff. This is the kind of rock the female voice was made for. Feels like it's 1990, & I'm watching 120 mins late at night.

DaveCromwell said...

Thanks Ray. Yeah, females front 3 of the 4 bands featured in this one. I didn't plan it that way, just sorta worked out like that ;-)

William said...

did steve albini pay for this article?? haha - seriously tho some good music on here - gotta listen more when i have more time- but very cool!!

DaveCromwell said...

I only WISH I had contact with the great Steve Albini. Interesting you should mention him, though. I just discovered that he engineered and mixed ex-Stranglers legend Hugh Cornwell's latest album "Totem and Taboo."

Back to the artists here, though - yes, please double back and give it all a good listen, William.

The Midnite Rambler said...

I agree, it is a lot to digest but you've written about a couple of these bands before so I'm at least a little familiar. I like all the songs you featured. Your corner of the world must be a hot spot for creative people. Keep it coming Dave!

DaveCromwell said...

I definitely *have* written about most of these bands here before (some, like Heliotropes - multiple times). As for content/digest capacity - I put it all up - anyone can pick and choose as to what they want to read. The multi-media audio and video clips enable that instant gratification mode we've all come to rely on as well.

Anouk vdM said...

Nice review ;)

I quite liked the Butter The Children lyric writing part. And that ERAAS song is quite good. It reminds me of something, I thought Grimes or The Golden Filter.. But that's not right it, I think. :) I'm going to look up their music on the internet.

DaveCromwell said...

Cool that you like Butter The Children and ERAAS, Anouk. Interesting comparative thoughts too (the Grimes one especially).