Listen to this track by Las Vegas-based songwriting and all-around performer Xoch (pronounced “Zoach” and meaning goddess of flower and song, derived from Mayan and Aztec culture). It’s “The End of the World” as taken from her most recent record Hollywood.
In many ways, hearing Xoch’s music undercuts a lot of assumptions after you’ve seen her step out on stage, or seen her in pictures. She’s done some modelling. She’s also an actor, having appeared in films, TV shows, and commercials. These other interests might make one think that music is just another pursuit for her. But, she’s not just a pretty face.
“The End of the World” hits the power-pop and folk-pop songwriting sweet spot that goes beyond her years. Clearly, Xoch has been paying attention, and honing her craft accordingly.
I talked to Xoch via email about stage names, Sin City, varied pursuits and multi-disciplined artistic expression, and about avoiding stagnation by challenging one’s own routines.
Listen to this track by Seattle-born, New York-based singer, violinist, loop technician, Of Montreal string-arranger and touring member, and songwriter K Ishibashi, aka Kishi Bashi. It’s the sumptous-yet-spacious “Manchester”, an impressionistic and post-modern narrative about a narrative as taken from the EP Room For Dream.
The song is the opening track on the EP, an ever-expanding soundscape that is, at once, airy, organic, and with a touch of hopefulness balanced against melancholy. Musically, the song is an amalgam of pan-cultural textures, from sparse Far-East flavouring, to western classical aesthetics, and delivered in the similar kind of cinematic orchestral pop packaging as a Mercury Rev, or Flaming Lips.
After seeing Kishi Bashi perform as an opening act for Sondre Lerche (and then join Lerche’s ensemble as a backing musician on violin, guitar, and keyboards) at the Biltmore Theatre here in Vancouver, I had a chat with him via email about the business of cultural crossover, about the importance of location in the songwriting process, and about what Beethoven would have made of loop technology.
Listen to this track, a double-A side single from Southern Ontarian rock ‘n’ roll upstarts The Dirty Nil. It’s the rip-up-the-seats anthems “Fuckin’ Up Young/Verona Lung”.
If your workplace includes members of the clergy, you might want to put on your headphones, good people.
A drums (Kyle Fisher) bass (Dave Nardi) guitar (Luke Bentham, who also sings) trio, the guys have recorded EPs, cut vinyl singles (like this one), played shows, and have been named Best New Band at the Hamilton Music Awards starting in 2008. A part of the vibrant indie scene in Hamilton, Ontario, the band revel in their own brand of gritty, garagey rock music, while acknowledging the eclectic musical landscape in Hamilton of which they are a part.
Among other things, I talked to the Luke and Dave about cutting the single, about being indie and going pro, and about the the important fuel that guns the engines of many a rock ‘n’ roll band – beer.
Here’s a clip of singer-songwriter, Northern Pikes co-founder, and TV/film composer Jay Semko hard at work with fellow musician Randy Woods on the soundtrack to History Television’s Dust Up. The show follows the stories of a group of daredevil crop dusters on the Canadian Prairies.
Appropriately, Jay Semko himself hails from the Canadian Prairies, specifically Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the place where he got his start playing bass, singing, and writing songs for ’80s hitmakers The Northern Pikes. Later, he would make a name for himself as the composer of soundtrack music for the popular TV show Due South, among other projects for film and TV.
But, this is his newest soundtracking project. Thanks to the people at Paperny Films who sponsored this special edition post here on the Delete Bin, I talked to Jay about what interested him in the show, how he views the role of music in the storytelling process, and how his work as a film and TV composer dovetails with his work as a rock and roots songwriter and performer.
Listen to this track by Winnipeg-based art rock duo Querkus. It’s “Half-Acid Lee”, a cinematic John Barry-meets-prog-meets-pop song as taken from the band’s 2011 debut album Spaces Between the Leaves Make Room For the Stars. The song is a part of a richly-textured record that pulls in all kinds of influences which range from that 60s film music sound that also fueled acts like Portishead and early Goldfrapp, to the progressive rock complexity of King Crimson, with splashes of PJ Harvey and Kate Bush in there for good measure.
The band is comprised of two creative minds in vocalist/keyboardist Karen Asmundson and guitarist/vocalist Edgar Ozolins. Both are interested in amalgamating disparate styles and sounds together into an ambitious whole. This song is a shining example of the results of their efforts; a large-scale, and decidedly menacing track that is marked by the contrast of Asmundson’s voice against the abrasiveness of Ozolins’ guitar.
After featuring this track on my recent Winter Indie Round-Up post, I got in contact with the song’s writer Karen Asmundson. She and I talked a bit about the making of this song, about how the Querkus sound is interpreted in a live setting, about the pressures of making a debut record, and about visions of some very angry trees …
Oh, and I thought it might be fun to give away some copies of the record to you guys here. Details at the end of the interview!
Rock ‘n’ roll stories, are just like other tales of questing heroes. They follow a pattern. It’s just like Joseph Campbell said.
This starts from young enthusiasm, to paying one’s dues in squalor, to rising fame, to the pinnacle of that fame, and moves ever onward around the cycle. And by onward around the cycle, we mean going down through the underworld of rock excess – the women, the drugs, the concept albums – and upward again, after the blaze of glory has long been extinguished for many a grizzled rock ‘n’ roll hero.
Then, comes the classic comeback. Some cynics out there might say the classic re-sell. Writer, music fan, and rock ‘n’ roll sceptic Geoff Moore is such a cynic … Continue reading →
Over the last few weeks here at the Delete Bin, some of you have read a couple of pieces about Ron Sexsmith, and about the movie Love Shines, which is in part about his latest record Long Player Late Bloomer.
Today is the third installment in the Long Player Late Bloomer/Love Shines Ron Sexsmith trilogy here on the Delete Bin, and a great honour it is to present it to you here: the Ron Sexsmith interview.
I asked him about the movie, and what he thought of its central character. I asked him about mainstream success, and about some of his heroes who have also been at the center of recent films contemporary to this one. And of course, I asked him about fan support, and how he sees the future unfolding for himself as a songwriter and performer, post-biopic.
It’s a big thrill for me to have had the chance to do it, given that Ron is nothing short of one of my favourite songwriters of all time. And Ron himself was very generous with his time and his responses, given that (at the time of this writing) he’s on tour, and about to play the Rio Theatre here in Vancouver.
Here is that interview, conducted via email a few days before the show.