The Creators Project went behind the scenes with one of our favorite electronic acts, Purity Ring. Nerd out and learn how Purity Ring creates one of the most dynamic live experiences in indie music today.
Hunting Grounds is the up-and-coming sextet from down under, landing with their brand new album In Hindsight on July 6th. What I love about this album is its fantastic diversity, branching out from multiple songwriters. The album is truly a group collaborative, as each of the six members traded ideas, inspiring an intelligent blend of alternative rock, post-punk, and shoegaze. Check out this sweet video for “In Colour”, one of the tunes on In Hindsight.
Here’s a little Q&A I had with Michael Belsar (vocals/guitar):
Newdust: What brought you all together to form Hunting Grounds?
Belsar: We all went to High School and I guess originally bonded over music. It was sort of inevitable that we’d start a band.
ND: I hear Australia’s a pretty cool place to live. How’s the music scene? Who have you recently shared the stage with?
Belsar: Yeah Australia’s great and so is the current music scene. We live in a little regional town called Ballarat in Victoria with a population of under 100,000 people. Somehow it has this crazy music scene which we were lucky enough to grow up with. The last big show we played was probably Golden Plains Music Festival alongside of Bon Iver, Ariel Pink and Chic. That was pretty sweet. We also played a festival called Big Day Out with Kanye, that was pretty fucking rad.
ND: What are some albums in heavy rotation amongst you guys lately? Any major influences?
Belsar: I don’t know about the other guys but I’ve been getting really into Sebastien Tellier lately. Go and buy his new album ‘My God Is Blue’, it’s brilliant. Apart from that I’ve been writing a lot whilst listening to the new Battles and Atlas Sound albums, you can imagine how strange the songs are (haha)
ND: What changes have occurred, throughout the writing and recording processes of this past year, in the sounds of Hunting Grounds? Where do you see your sound going?
Belsar: It took us a long time to write this album, which mainly was because we wanted to find our own unique sound. I guess the sound of the album came from the idea of writing the songs we wanted to hear, instead of what we have been pigeon holed as, and what people expect us to do. The new sound of the band seems to have opened so many doors writing wise, so I have no idea what to expect for future works, all I know is I’m excited to get it started.
Newdust has been big fans of We Are Scientists since their debut album With Love and Squalor came out back in 2005. Keith (vox & guitar) took the time to answer a few quick questions about the tour and what We Are Scientists are up to.
WAS Keith: Well… day one was in Boston. We had the trailer hitch stolen off of our van, and we were an hour late to sound check. So I’d say its a smashing success. We bought margarita mix and tequila as well. Seriously though, this tour is great because we are getting to tour with some of our best friends from Brooklyn in Lightspeed Champion and Bad Girlfriend.
ND: How many places are you from? According to your press kit you are “New York-based Californians” and you have an “adopted homeland in England”.
WAS: Um… I had no idea our press kit said that. We are just from one place… and that is New York. We did though meet in California back in college, and briefly sublet an apartment in the UK.
WAS: We got into “soccer” while living the UK. Why do you care? Americans don’t like soccer!
ND: Well I live in DC and…
WAS: You spend too much time with all the ambassadors. (Keith called me out. I do in fact spend most of my time hanging with ambassadors, foreign dignitaries… and other social elites) American don’t like soccer. Anywhere you would go in England, within 10 feet of a TV there would be 50 people crammed near it. Crazy…
ND: Give us a few bands that newdust readers have to check out?
WAS: Oh man… Well, Two Door Cinema Club. This band called Yuck, not sure if it is with an exclamation point or not but their name rules! Also, 2/3 of this band called Oxford Collapse started a band called Skiing. Check em out!
Thanks Keith for catching up with us! Be sure get the new album Barbara out now.
A few months ago we posted about Hooray for Earth and their new EP Momo. We have been spinning their single “Surrounded by Your Friends” ever since. I got a chance to catch up with Noel from Hooray for Earth a few weeks ago to answer a few quick questions.
HFE: The band started in Boston around 2005. Chris and I have been bands since we were a freshman in high school. We decided to record and stuff and that eventually became Hooray for Earth. That feels like a long time ago. Those early days we kind of lived off the grid. We eventually moved to NYC where we recorded Momo last November.
HFE: Who knows how it happened? Pains shares some of the same members as a band called the Depreciation Guild (readers check em out) which we have played with a few times. It was around the same time we got on this tour that we were picked up by Dovecote Records. We are pretty excited about it. Surfer Blood was added later on.
ND: How did you arrive at your current sound, and how does a typical HFE song happen?
HFE: I write and record everything and then I bring it to the band. It varies though, sometimes it sounds almost exactly how I recorded the demo and sometimes it sounds different. It all depends on the song.
ND: What is your inspiration? I feel like your music is very ethereal and subtle, but the lyrics are very straightforward and literal.
HFE: Lyrics… well I have no method. Its definitely a stream of consciousness thing. I think about it a lot but I am not sure how it happens. I really let the lyrics go… I let the melody impact the lyrics.
ND: Give us a band that newdust readers have to check out?
HFE:Oh No Ono, I found them last Spring. Their last record is called Eggs. Crazy chord changes and melodies. The production is massive and intricate.
ATTN DC: As you know Hooray for Earth is on tour with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Surfer Blood. They will be playing at Black Cat on Wednesday June 16th and it is sold out so you better scalp or pray or steal, but you better be there.
I just got into Letting Up Despite Great Faults just last week after I posted their new video for “Our Younger Noise.” I’ve been exclusively listening to their self-titled since then. The album is fantastic as I’ve said before… You gotta give it a listen if you haven’t already. Here’s a little Q & A I had last week with LUDGF’s singer/songwriter Michael Lee along with a couple of my favorite songs off the album:
“The Colors Aren’t You Or Me”
Newdust: One of the first things I noticed the first time I heard your self-titled was its distorted & fuzzy-reverbed goodness. I was instantly
reminded of My Bloody Valentine…but you take that shoegaze-y sound and lighten it up; it’s much more poppy. Did MBV have any influence on your sound? Who are some other influences?
LUDGF: MBV was a definite influence but, as you noticed, we have a lot of different influences too. I grew up listening to a lot of indiepop bands like Velocity Girl and Papas Fritas, but also listened to noisy guitar driven stuff like Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. Then there was Brian Eno, The Orb, and Daft Punk using tons of inorganic sounds to create awesomeness. It’s really too many to name. New Order, The Smiths, Lush, Black Tambourine, Slowdive, Boards of Canada, DJ Shadow, Pinback, Labrador Records, Morr Music… We might be a little scatter brain trying to fit all sounds we love into 4 minute pop songs, but we enjoy doing it.
ND: Your songs remind me of those rainy days when you’ve got absolutely no plans but to stay inside and enjoy the rainfall. How do you feel your sound has developed and aged since Letting Up’s 2006 Movement EP?
LUDGF: It’s become more hopeful. Definitely brighter, but not still without your moments of doubt, haze, and melancholy. Technically we use more electric guitars which cuts through a lot differently than an acoustic would. We also added some female vocals to song which I think really adds an important texture we didn’t have before.
ND: How was the recording process for this album? Was this a DIY release?
LUDGF: A lot of it was recorded on the fly. If I came up with an idea, I’d record it and most of the time I used the first take for the final cut of the song. Most of the painstaking part was how much time it took to process things like running guitars and synths through different effects. And yes, this is a self-release. There are a lot of pitfalls and walls you inevitably run into when self-releasing, but it’s definitely a very personal and ultimately rewarding experience.
ND: You guys just finished up @ SXSW. How was it? Was this Letting Up’s first?
LUDGF: Yes, our first time and it was great. We definitely want to go back next year. First off, Austin is a fabulous city and everyone there was very open and friendly. It seemed like no one really had an agenda other than to just have a good time and hopefully hear some good music. It’s also hilarious to me seeing so many band vans on one street. Us bands are a dime a dozen people!
ND: What’s next for you guys? Will you be hitting the road again or is there another album in the works?
LUDGF: We are working on some new songs and will concentrate playing the west coast during our writing stages. We want the next release to be incredibly meticulous, but hopefully that won’t slow us down too much. We’ve been through a lot of crazy adventures since our last release and we have a lot of new sounds we want to explore as well. We’re always trying to move forward with our music and we’re very excited about what’s to come.
ND: Give me two bands that Newdust readers have to check out.
LUDGF: Only 2!? Surfer Blood is an obvious choice, but still alot of people haven’t heard. DO IT ALREADY. An older artist who you’ll probably never hear about is Color Filter from Japan. Their EP was on heavy rotation for me back in 1999.
I decided after last week’s post that the Blithe Field / Newdust relationship was missing something. And so spawned this interview. I got some really sweet answers from Mr. Spencer Radcliffe regarding his live show, his latest album Beautiful Wave ’74, and much more. Here are two more tracks off BW’74, of which you can stream and purchase on his Bandcamp page, or you can buy the handmade CD for $3 directly through the Messy Life Records website.
“Thank You French Fry”
Newdust: So how did Blithe Field get started, and is there a story behind the name?
Spencer Radcliffe: In 2006 I was making instrumental music that had more of a full band sound. I would just write a song then record guitar, then drums, then violin, keyboard, and have a song. I really wanted to be in a band but I always had these ideas that I couldn’t articulate to other people, and I always wanted it to sound just how it did in my head, you know? Then in the summer of 2007 one of my really good friends/seasonal band mate Jack got a sampler and soon after that I followed in his footsteps. I started making more loop based stuff. Eventually I played my first show and two of my friends starting a cassette label wanted me to release something so I decided on the name then for good.
Blithe Field is the name of a fictional place where a great American poet once found his inspiration. All I can tell you is that it is 300 miles away from the Painted Gorge.
ND: What kind of equipment do you use?
SR: I use a Roland SP-404 and SP-303, guitars, melodica occasionally, random keyboards, and anything else I can find.
ND: What’s the story behind Beautiful Wave ’74? Are there any underlying themes?
SR: The album’s title came from a story one of my best friends was telling over breakfast with my girlfriend and me. He told us about a T-shirt his friend had brought him back from Japan that had all of these very poorly translated phrases and sayings on them, one of which was “beautiful wave ’74.” I instantly knew that was the perfect title for the album I was working on and we all really liked it, so it stuck.
To me, the album is mostly about time, not in a minutes and seconds way, but time in a broader sense. Time passing, time stopping (or seeming to anyways), and the blur of it all. It is about my fondness for the people I love and how time makes me appreciate them.
ND: How does your live show differ from your recorded performances?
SR: When I play live, I don’t sequence stuff so it is all played sample by sample on pads and that leaves a lot of room for improvisation at ends and beginnings of songs. Another difference is that stuff tends to be longer or shorter than it is on albums, just because sometimes I am really into something, or a song can just rub me the wrong way and I will end it early. Also I like to thrown in different stuff live, like extra chord progressions or a reference from an old song, just to keep people interested. Messing up leads to that too sometimes, but that is a nice thing about sample based music, you can accidently hit the wrong pad but it still usually sounds pretty cool or sometimes even better.
ND: Your music has almost a comforting nostalgia behind it’s sound, do you try to create that feeling in your music or does it just come naturally?
SR: I think what gives it that feeling is the fact that memories are what inspire most my songs. Whether it is fond childhood memories or something that just happened to me a month ago, when I make a song it is usually out of the desire to take myself back to that moment. So really, when I am making stuff, I am looking for sounds that make me feel like I am there. In a sense I am purposely doing it, but at the same time, making music and feeling that way go hand in hand for me.
ND: Who are some of your musical influences?
SR: Both of my parents really love Pink Floyd so that was one of the first bands I was exposed to that could really lasting feelings with music and I still sometimes think “well what would Pink Floyd do here?” when I am stuck. The Wall taught me early on how big of a role speech can play in music. The same goes for Neil Young, especially when writing guitar parts, I have a lot of “what would Neil Young do?” moments.
As for more recent stuff, Modest Mouse, Tarentel, and Fridge are a few of my all time favorite bands. I am a big fan of The Books, which is a question I get asked a lot. “Beat Romantic” by Talkdemonic, “Start Breaking My Heart,” by Manitoba and the Boats’ “Songs by the Sea” all had a really important part in how I came to make music and are still three of my all-time favorite albums.
ND: Give Newdust readers two artists/bands they need to check out.
Long Walks on the Beach or Fritz to his friends, is a one man DIY solo project based here in DC. His music sounds as if it should play as the credits roll during a mid-80′s John Hughes movie. When he is not working his day job in broadcast journalism Fritz is spending hours perfecting the perfect vocal sound for his latest single. Lucky for us, he was able to take a break from all that and chat with newdust on the phone about his music and the story behind Long Walks on the Beach.
Newdust: Tell me about how this got started? Short history?
LWOTB: Well this has always been a DIY/solo thing. The project started after college with a simple 4 track and it just expanded from there. Its great people (and blogs) are starting to pay attention.
ND: What sort of equipment do you use to get your sound?
LWOTB:I use a laptop (mac of course), sm57′s through an audio interface. I mix it all right there, all in house. It is really learn as you go. I don’t really know what I am doing which is great because it makes every song like an experiment.
ND: What other DIY acts or movements do you look to for inspiration/innovation?
LWOTB: The no-fi/lo-fi, bedroom movement, garage rock whatever… is getting a lot of attention. It is defined by limitations and it causes artists to push the envelope. Locally, DC has a lot of great venues with a swath of scenes that move in out which is always refreshing. To be honest I am inspired by a lot of local art. New York/Brooklyn/Baltimore also influences DC and myself of course. Overall it (DIY) is great because it makes the playing field even, the starting point is the same.
ND: There is a certain innocence in your music, was that something that happened organically or was it intentional?
LWOTB: The music is all about wrapping things in the “ideal”. Which goes back to the name, Long Walks on the Beach. The sound and subject matter are the same way. It comes from a pure place in the heart. I am not sure if innocence is the right word. Maybe acceptance? To clarify, it’s definitely not a nod to being juvenile its a nod to the ideal.
ND: With that in mind can you tell me the story behind “Didn’t Want to Make Out” or “TRUE LOVE or bust”?
LWOTB: “TRUE LOVE or bust” is not a song about love its a song about life. It is a meditation on the concept “capital L for Love.” Though, you have to remember with a project like LWOTB its not supposed to be serious its supposed to be fun.
ND: Give me a couple of bands newdust readers have to check out?
LWOTB: P.S. I Love You… (no relation to the chick flick movie from 2007) I have been listening to a track called “Facelove” on repeat. Something older… Bobby Rush anything from his catalouge Sue,Wearing it Out, What is Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander, and Gotta Have Money. He practically invented rap with James Brown.
ND: Future plans?
LWOTB: I work on new stuff a lot actually. I write really fast but recording can take me a bit longer. I have limitations due to the reality of DIY and my life in general. I put out stuff when its done, and I get it out to my friends. I like pop music and I like tunes that people enjoy and want to listen to. One of my criteria when I am working on a track is that I think of my old friend from college… and I think “would she put this on her workout mix or not?” If I have a recording I will let my friends listen to it and see what they think.
ND: That is a great criteria… so, just to follow up… when it comes to recording and writing you are completely collaborating with people around you artists and non-artists alike?
LWOTB: Absolutely… its never just me as an individual. I don’t feel super protective of my stuff some blogs have asked me about that but the truth is I really love music and bringing people in and getting their opinions.
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Keep your eye on LWOTB, there will be more soon I promise. Enjoy “Didn’t Want to Make Out” and “TRUE LOVE or bust” below.