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Thursday
Nov192015

61 The Dears' Natalia Yanchak

 


We recently had the pleasure of exchanging some words with Natalia Yanchak from Montreal orchestral pop wizards, The Dears. A talented and multifaceted creative mind from a band of several, we were elated to find out what she thinks about a few different topics, and how excatly you stay afloat and stay inspired as an artist in 2015. The Dears also just released their new album 'Times Infinity Volume One' and you can pick up a copy at the links after the jump.

First of all thanks so much for chatting with us! 

 

The Dears are known as an iconic Montreal band, and we have to say, it is easily one of the best cities in the world. What sets it apart? What do you love about it?

Montreal is definitely a special place. It fosters a "creative" life because it's almost what the city demands of its residents. I was reading a report and it said the quality of life in Montreal is one of the highest in the world, while the same report stated that Montreal was a terrible place for business (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-study-institut-du-quebec-1.3322892). That basically sums it up: if you want to be free to make Art, come to Montreal. If you want to make money, move to Toronto. It's the classic, dichotic conversation.

 

You've always had an iconic sound that sets you apart from other bands. How have The Dears always managed to stand out?

I wouldn't call it "standing out" as much as I would call it an assertion of our identity. Without prejudice. Beyond an improvement in the quality of our recordings on the production side, it's important for us to remain true to what "The Dears" is. We are not trendy. There are no iPads on stage. We are a rock band -- musicianship is important to us, and it's a characteristic that runs deep in our blood. Songwriting is just as vital. Many bands have all the "right" textures and sounds the "right" album art and haircuts, but they can't write a song. Essentially, marketing can't write music. And that's why we're so popular (hahaha!). Since The Dears formed in 1995, we've been the same band with the same end game: to make great orchestral pop music.
 
While recording this new album, Times Infinity Volume One, what was a typical day like for The Dears?

We recorded much of the bed tracks at Revolution Recordings in Toronto, and the overdubs at Hotel2Tango in Montreal. But the city never matters because a studio day is always the same: Wake up, drink coffee, get into the (invariably windowless) studio in the morning. Sit on the couch in the control room and listen, listen, share an idea, listen some more, and maybe that day you'll get to lay down a few tracks! Suddenly it's midnight and you're starving. Poutine time! Repeat. 

 

What are your favourite cities to visit and play in while touring? Is there anywhere you haven't been that you would like to visit?

Even though it's a beast, I love London, UK. What a massive and confusing place -- but I have to admire the down-to-earth conceit of Londoners. The celebrity culture there is also like none other, where you can be at any old bar and be sitting next to a famous musician, or a crazy successful person, or just some random human being -- and you're guaranteed great conversation. We haven't been back to London in a few years so I'm feeling nostalgic, I think! 

 

Recently, shows in Turkey and Mexico have been highlights, and we'd love to get back there. As far as places I'd like to visit: it's pretty much anywhere we haven't been, really. Russia & all of Eastern Europe, Morocco, Egypt, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Korea, Vietnam, Columbia, Argentina, Peru, Brazil... you know, all those places bands usually get to...

 

If you were out DJ-ing, which record would you take with you every time?

 

"There's a Riot Goin' On" by Sly and the Family Stone.

 

What's the best part about being a creator for a living? If you weren't in The Dears, what might you be doing right now?

 

Having a creative "job" is not easy, but it is an amazing philosophical lesson to share with our kids (Murray and I have two, aged 10 and 3). Happiness is often seen as some unattainable goal -- the pressures of everyday life quickly erode at one's notion of what being "happy" might be. To me, happy means fulfillment, satisfaction, compassion and love. These things are everywhere, they are free, and they exist within each of us. I think if I had a 9-to-5 job I would be less "stressed" about money, but all the other facets of happiness would suffer in the face of that. Does this answer the question? Because I've kind of given you the best parts and the worst parts about a creative life… 

If I wasn't in The Dears I would be writing more. In fact, the sci-fi book I'm currently writing would be published already!

 

How do you stay inspired? Where do your ideas come from?

Life inspires us, and knowing there is even a single person who is listening, compels us. 

Thanks so much for chatting with us! Is there anything else we need to know about?

Thanks for the interview! Here's a shameless plug/link to some of my sci-fi writing: https://www.scribd.com/nyanchak

'Times Infinity Volume 1'
Thursday
Jul162015

60 ON AN ON

 

We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Ryne Estwing from a favorite band of ours, ON AN ON. We happened to learn some seriously intersting things.


FOB - First of all thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.  On July 24 ON AN ON's second full length album 'And The Wave Has Two Sides' will be released.  So far the 3 singles 'Drifting', 'It's Not Over' and 'Icon Love' are complete opposites of each other, 'Drifting' being a powerful and emotional ballad worthy of goosebumps, 'It's Not Over' being a catchy and fun love song and 'Icon Love' stands out with a guitar solo.  What else can we expect from this album?

 Ryne - Ya I'd definitely say that 'Drifting' and 'It's Not Over' are the polar opposites of the album and 'Icon Love' would sort of be the median of the album and the rest of the album would sort of fall in between.  We actually just released a fourth single called 'I can't escape it' via a video game maze on our website that you have to play and escape from to listen to it.

FOB - In August you guys begin touring the U.S. and some of Canada.  Do you have any rituals does the band have while on tour?

Ryne - Nothing too interesting I guess aside from the boring stuff like eating.  We usually jam to 90's techno songs in the van and sometimes after shows with the energy we carry afterwards we like to cruise around and positively heckle people. 

FOB - What's the significance of the album title "And The Wave Has Two Sides"?

Ryne - Well it's actually a Brian Eno reference and For us all being from the mid-west, it was being so close to the ocean when we were on the coast in L.A. recording the album.  We would be in the studio almost everyday from 11am to midnight so when we got a day off where we could relax we would go to the beach, and when you see a wave from the one side when it's coming at you it can look sort of terrifying but if you're looking at it from the other side you can see that it's actually kind of calm which I think runs parallel with a lot of things in life. It's pretty universal.

FOB - That makes so much sense. Damn! Since we're on the topic of L.A...  You recorded 'And The Wave Has Two Sides' with Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, My Morning Jacket, Beck, countless others).  How was it working with someone with such an impressive resume?

 Ryne - I thought it was pretty intimidating and humbling.  When you walk into a room with somebody like that and you look at the list of artists they've worked with, it's always pretty intimidating.  Once we started working with him and showing him our songs it was easy, and good to get to work.  I think it's also kind of a vulnerable thing too when you're showing someone your songs they could potentially want to change everything but what we learned from working with Dave Newfeld on the last record is that it's better to trust the producer's overall direction for the process and result.

FOB- You recently had remixes done by Sammy Bananas and Twelves.  What other artists would you like to remix your tracks and are there any tracks or artists you would consider remixing?

Ryne- It would be a dream to have someone like Todd Terje, Disclosure, Nicolas Jaar to completely alter a song and turn it into an amazing remix. We've been fortunate to have a lot of amazing talent already remix our music like YACHT, The Twelves, KYWO, The Hood Internet, and Sammy Bananas but hopefully that list can just continue to grow. In an ideal world I would love to remix Björk, Beck, Miike Snow, and many, many more extremely talented artists out there.

FOB - ON AN ON was a fresh start from you previous band Scattered Trees and it's taken a more electronic approach.  What inspired the Shift and are you happy with the results?

Ryne - I think it just happened with what we were listening to at the time. It was a natural progression from where we were at the time.

FOB - You guys represent both Minneapolis and Chicago.  Where do you spend the most time?

Ryne - Definitely Minneapolis.  I was the one who lived in Chicago and when it came to writing the new record it just made sense for me to move there since the rest of the band had relocated to Minneapolis.

FOB - Thanks again for chatting with us.  We look forward to July 24 for the new record and we will see you at The Drake in Toronto September 22.

You can play the maze game to here the new single "You Can't Escape It" and also pre-order 'The Wave Has Two Sides' here: http://youcantescapeit.itsonanon.com/#

Tuesday
Jun302015

59 Vursatyl The Great


The incredible mc known as Vursatyl The Great is back, and once again he has hit the ground running.  His first solo album apart from the superteam Lifesavas called 'Crooked Straights' is making waves all over.  He just released the Jake One remix of 'Bring It To A Halt' which has heads nodding across the globe.  We were lucky enough to have a chat with the man himself.  Check it out:


Fingers on Blast: First of all, what's a typical day in the life of Vursatyl The Great?

Vursatyl: I'm up at 6 AM every morning, in my headphones listening to beats. Often times I am listening to the same beat over and over again, trying to get ideas going.

Where do you think your ideas come from?  What inspires you?

I like to get out and drive. I like to see the city, to see people and just observe life man. I find inspiration through what I see. Like most writers I also get inspiration from life experiences. Going to concerts and shows inspire me as well. I get challenged by seeing excellence. I guess that's why the music I have released as a solo artist feels like music to drive to.

What do you love about living in Portland?

I love living in Portland because everything was so untapped here that I've been able to be myself and find my own voice as a musician and an artist. I love being born and raised here, and being able to watch what we built grow into such a colorful Hip Hop scene.

After traveling the world, I dig that my kids can go to school here and also generally feel safe.

You mentioned before being challenged by excellence.  who have you seen live that would fall into that category?

Man, there are so many great live performers that I've seen. But I'd have to say the greatest live shows belong to Public Enemy, De La Soul, The Roots (in the 90's and early 2000's), Digital Underground

But on a micro level, I can go to underground shows and see an unknown MC who's hungry and on his game and leave feeling inspired to go harder.

If you could make a posse cut with some of your favorites, who would produce it and who would you have rap on it with you?

Wow! Best interview question ever!

J Dilla would produce it. Rakim, Pharoahe Monch, Mykah 9, Kendrick Lamar, Elzhi, Jay Electronica, Black Thought and Me. First names to come mind.

We first came across you as one half of lifesavas and being on tour with the quannum mc's.  can you tell us how that all got started?

The short version: In 1998 Chief Xcel of Blackalicious heard Lifesavas cassette single while shopping at Jump Jump Records here in Portland. I was introduced to him at a show a day or so later.

I met Gab, and Lateef that night as well. Xcel said he loved the tape, so we kept in touch and a year later after understanding that I also sang, he asked me to send more music and some of me singing.

The next day, he sent me a plane ticket to come to Oakland to rehearse with Blackalicious and Latyrx to join them on the 'Quannum Spectrum Tour' in Europe. In 2000 they signed Lifesavas.

To back up a bit, while on that tour I was giving away A new Lifesavas demo. In Rennes, France I had given one to Babu & J-Rocc of the Beat Junkies, and Cut Chemist. Lyrics Born got pissed that I being the "newbie" was giving his friends music that he hadn't heard and didn't want me to giving them anything wack.

So he and Xcel told me to let them hear it before I gave anymore out.

They took it on the tour bus and once they listened, they asked me if I'd like to release it on Quannum. That demo included our first 12"inch single "Head Exercise".

That is actually so awesome.  Are there any plans for more Lifesavas music?

Yes. We've been saying for years but coincidentally we've been hard at work this week on new Lifesavas music. We are sure to be releasing an EP by fall

Amazing!  What inspired the creation of your new solo LP Crooked Straights?  Can you tell us what it was like to make this one?

While Jumbo and Shines had been so busy working on various projects, I continued to record.
I compiled Crooked Straights from many of the songs I've been working on. My focus is on reintroducing myself properly to the world. I wanted to be more deliberate with everything regarding the music and the depiction of me as a person. After years of being put in a box I didn't completely relate to, Crooked Straights was the right introduction to my plan to release my opus. I wanted to put a project out to set the tone for what was to come on a larger level. I'm fortunate that it's being so well received and even serving as a catalyst for my crew to re-embark on our quest to extend our collective legacy. Crooked Straights is the fire starter to the inferno that follows.

Thanks you so much for talking with us. Is there anything else we should know? Shoutouts?

Shout to my partner in crime Lunden who executive produced Crooked Straights and also produced my soon to come single 'High Horse'. Big up to Jumbo, Shines, Sly Da Brown Hornet, Wolveryne & Libretto from my crew the Misfit Massive. Also look out for Imani Vol. From my brothers Blackalicious coming soon! Big up Chief Xcel & Gift Of Gab!

Special thanks Jake One for Killing This Remix!

Buy the single here: geni.us/VursatylNothingBring
Buy the album: geni.us/VursatylCrooked
Thursday
Jun112015

58 MURS

We had the opportunity to chat with the extra dope, super prolific MC.  He's a Living Legend, he's worked with everyone, and now he's releasing his NINTH album on Tech N9ne's Strange Music label.  We managed to borrow a few minutes of his time to discuss that and a few other things...

 

You're releasing solo album nine, 'Have A Nice Life' on Tech N9ne's 'Strange Music', how is this different from some of your other albums?  


I feel the production is bigger on this album. And lyrically I am definitely speaking from a wiser more mature place. And the significance of my 9th album coming out on Tech N9ne’s label is trippy.

-If you could have a chat with yourself when you were working on and releasing 'F'Real', what would you say?


If I could go back and speak to myself then. I don’t think I would drop any spoilers. I would just buy a tape from him. And tell myself to keep up the good work. 

-You've collaborated with so many great artists, and made so much great music.  Who have been your favorites to work with?

Everyone I’ve collaborated with has a special place in my heart. They all have helped me grow. They’ve all helped me refine my skill and master my craft. I’m just grateful for the opportunities. I’ve been blessed to cross paths with some really talented individuals.

Will there ever be new material from 3MG?

At this in my point in my career. I am not looking to collaborate as much as - I’m in to developing myself further as a solo artist. But if the right song comes along I wouldn’t be opposed to calling the fellas hop on it.

You're about to embark on a huge North American tour with Tech N9ne - where are your favorite places to play shows?  

Not to sound generic. But I like playing anywhere there are people who are ready to have a good time. 

Do you have any rituals on tour to maintain your sanity?

I don’t’ know if it’s possible to maintain sanity the definition of insanity is said to be doing the same thing and expecting different results. And I wake up every day and do the same set soooo….. As far as rituals white tee and pants and always some vans Sk8 Hi’s the same ones the entire tour and then I give them away at the last show.

-We've heard you're an avid sports fan, who do you need on your fantasy football team this year?

Sen’Derrick Marks

-We were huge fans of 'Walk Like A Man', do you have any other plans to 
branch out and work on film or other art forms? 

I have a film premiering June 16th “Maul Dogs” and there are plans for a short film/video compilation for a few songs on “Have A Nice Life”. Definitely plan on doing more acting in the years to come.

-'And I Love It' is one of our favorite tracks ever, do you think you could ever make a part two?  

I love that you love it. If I find the right beat. It is a definite possibility. There’s so much to love in this world.

What are some of your favorite tracks from your own collection?

The Jerry Maguire Song. First Love. The entire Melrose album. Everything. Mi Corazon. Pussy and Pizza. And some shit you haven’t heard yet. LOL

-How do balance music, touring and everything else with being a husband 
and father?

You have to prioritize and put your energy where it’s needed most at the time. And whatever I do I do in the name of love. 

-Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, this is something we never could have imagined doing! So, thank you! 


 

The Strange Music debut album from MURS, Have A Nice Life, 
is now available in stores and at http://strangemusicinc.net!
Get it here - http://bit.ly/mHANLyt

Available NOW on iTunes - http://apple.co/1yqQR89

Wednesday
May132015

57 Four Color Zack


 We had a chance to catch up with the magnificent Four Color Zack and were delighted by his kindness and how incredibly humble he is considering he is an undisputed champion and one of the world's premier turntablist/selectors doing it right now.

 

First of all, thanks so much for chatting with us.  One thing we find fascinating about your recent trajectory is that it's built on a foundation of raw skill.  How has being an award winning dj helped you as a musician and producer?

I think it's important to have that technical skill based DJ foundation, if for no other reason because it helps be able to translate your ideas and control your sets more. I see a lot of DJ sets where they have been very planned out, so much so that it eliminates any level of difficulty. That can be fine sometimes, but its like a tightrope walker doing their thing with a giant net below - it really takes the excitement away from it. Having a foundation of skill means you can present your ideas as freely as you want, and know that if you get in to trouble and need to steer things back on track, you have the skills to correct it and save the party.

How do you stay inspired?  Where do ideas come from?

Having a strong set of peers is always a great way to stay inspired, to keep digging for new sounds, and really to just develop the ideas that come throughout the day. They always start off as small ideas or concepts and can be made into something pretty cool with a little work. I find that I get most of my ideas when I'm just goofing around with friends or during my sets. Something will happen that I take note of and later turn into something that feels more polished. Its just about being open to any idea no matter how silly it seems.

If you could have a roundtable scratch session with any djs (alive or not), who would it be?

Craze and D-Styles and I'll just be in the corner eating pizza cheering them on.

Why do you live where you live and what's a typical day in the life of Four Colour Zack?

I live in Seattle because it's an amazing quality of life. Pacific Northwest kinda has it all - except for the sun most of the year. It doesn't have a huge DJ scene but its a great place to come home to. No matter where I travel I can never seem to find a place that trumps it for raising a family. My days at home usually involve running the dogs, playing with my daughter, having as much chill time with my wife as possible, sometimes get some design work done for a skate shop called Alive & Well I own with some homies… and somewhere in between finding time to work on the music and DJ stuff. I'm on the road a lot so when I'm home I try to make it count with the fam as much as possible.

What music, film, tv, books, whatever, have you been loving lately?

Been listening to a lot of Sam Gellaitry, Shlohmo, Guns n Roses, The-Dream, Denzel Curry… all sorts of random music stuff. It changes daily. I don't get to watch much TV but Im really bummed the BBC show Utopia was cancelled. Was looking forward to season 3. I can't even remember the last movie I watched that I wasn't just intentionally falling asleep to.

What do you love most about what you do for a living?

That it doesn't feel like im doing an actual job, its all stuff I would want to do anyway. Sure theres tons of pressure, especially with a family and real life stuff going on, but the idea that Im able to support them and exist doing this is mind blowing to me.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, is there anything else you'd like us to know?

Come thru to a show and say hi some time, thanks!

 

 



 

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