Yesterday we arrived in Barcelona to play a festival. We were picked up from the airport by two lovely men who bellowed and bragged about how lovely our hotel was going to be, how it was seconds from the beach and very glamourous. Upon arriving at this glamorous hotel we waltzed by the five stars on the wall feeling satisfied and vindicated for all our years of hard-assed work and sat ourselves down on the plush, leather sofas in the lobby. Our excellent tour manager left to retrieve our room keys and returned 15 minutes later with some news that was unexpected but not entirely impossible to believe: this hotel was not ours. We called the transport who apologized profusely claiming they didn’t realize there was more than one hotel for the bands playing the festival, and took us on a 15 minute ride to a different town, on a different road for which glamorous might be the least-appropriate description. He laughed as we pulled up to a crooked hostel and dumped our 17 pieces of luggage on to the street.
Needless to say, we had hit a slump. Our egos had been overflowed with resort amenities and was now being rapidly deflated by bleach, rat poo and mould. It does get better, though.
We ended up in the town of Vilanova. We enjoyed a huge Spanish feast at a local spot for 8 euros and then tread to another beach, coming upon a blank face carved into a piece of stone on the way down. By the water the sound of smooth techno drew us forth to a sheltered cabana serving wine and tiki lights right on the sand and seconds from the waves. I took off my shoes and wet my toes in the dark waves and felt the sand disappear from underneath my feet each time they pulled back. It was quiet, and it was cheap. And so, I decided that 5 star hotels feel nice, but then you have to pay for a 5 star meal, sit beside a 5 star busy pool deck (while the ocean is steps away), co-exist with people who can actually afford to pay for a 5 star room (!!!), and usually you have to pay for internet. So fuck 5 star accommodations. You shouldn’t have to pay a fortune to enjoy a place as magical as Barcelona, and in fact it’s probably a lot more fun if you don’t.
Emily and Zeesy are both old friends, it was really good to work with them on this project. Before I started performing my own music live I used to make soundtracks for Zeesy’s performance art pieces like this one:
Let me tell you a little bit about this release. Habitat is a pretty typical austra song in that its made up of synths, drums and some big woman vocals. The other three tunes are more different than anything we’ve released before because we decided to remove a key component of our sound: my voice. And this doesn’t mean that I’m gonna stop writing music with vocals, but it is a good chance for you to ingest our sound without the epic distraction that tends to oversahdow some of our more sublte ideas. And so, here are some short explanations about what we were thinking/feeling when these songs were written, I certainly hope you enjoy them:
Most have you have heard Habitat already cause its an old song. However, it had not been properly recorded until now. Actually, it was recorded, but we kept changing it and remixing it and adding parts and taking them away. After we released Olympia a LOT of people seemed kinda pissed it wasn’t on the record so we decided to give it its very own EP. We hired Rusty Santos to re-mix (as opposed to remix) the track, and he added the flavour we had been looking for all this time. If Olympia was an adventure of abandoning computers, this release is about loving them whole. We erased the real drum kits and the guitar bass from the pro-tools sessions and went entirely electronika once again.
Maya wrote Doepfer. Originally we were just going to release Habitat and Hulluu but then out of nowhere Maya presented this track. I love anything that involves filtering an analogue sequence so I was easily charmed. My favorite thing though, is the melody in the bass line. Follow the path it creates and this song become something more than a repetitive beat. There is a story to be told of a hopeful sadness marred by confusion and disorder.
3. Bass Drum Dance
I have always loved the idea of writing music for films. I used to do it when I was younger, as well as writing songs for my friends that were performance artists and dancers. This song to me feels like it should be on a screen. Its about creating sonic textures, the rise and fall and variation of the simple “violin,” and finally the space between near the end of the track. Bass Drum Dance is intended to colour a room and manipulate a feeling. It is the opposite of anthemic: the climax happens when everything is quiet.
I don’t know why I don’t write more music like this. Its so refreshing to abandon the idea that everything you do has to be anthemic. The simplicity of this track is a sound and a beat. Sometimes these two things come together so easily, and within moments you have a song. At one point I tried to sing on this track but it sounded dumb.. unless I become a rapper (album 3???) I don’t think its for me. Actually I guess the whisper vocals are kinda like me rapping… I guess when I try to make rhythm with words I just turn into a warlock.
The Habitat EP has been getting nice reviews! Its cool to see that people are getting what we were trying to do with this release.. The b-sides are pretty weird/experimental tracks but it looks they are being embraced which is good news for the future : ) :)
"Women were again sternly reminded this week that “Not all men…”
If we were talking about rhino poaching, we wouldn’t be expected to begin the conversation by saying we know that not all men poach rhinos – that we know that lots of men truly love rhinos and would give their lives for rhinos. It’s a given. No one would be chastized for not sending out a disclaimer, “I’m very grateful to all the amazing people in my life who’ve never slaughtered a rhino,” or declaring that most of the men they know are practically goddamned rhino veterinarians. We’d just talk about what the hell we were going to do because rhinos are in danger.”
Decisions are incredible difficult. More so than making them, it is maintaining them. Spontinaity is not an issue. “This is going to be my new self starting now” is not hard to say, but then on day two, that self suddenly becomes undesirable. Not only the self, but the people around the self also become undesirable. The shining beacon of human perfection in your life becomes a disease on day two, one that you cannot live with. And in order to compensate for the changes you need to make among those that surround you, you have to change the self again. A new self, a new goal from this day forward, and then you come upon day three where everything is different once again.
The pull to be alone, to be in a group, to be a pair is constant. To be an extrovert, to be an introvert. To be a human delight, to be a toxic burden.
As I enter a new year since my birth, I am thinking about how the stars have affected me and my life, how I have ended up here are where else i might have been had i not been born a gemini.
I studied opera when I was a teenager and from my experience, physical appearance never played much of a role in casting. I would often see a small 5”2 robust male playing Rodolfo in La Boheme, and a much larger woman playing his love interest, Mimi. As the singer in this article states: it is all about the voice. The voice transcends physicalities, and the two lovers relationship is brought to life based on the sheer musicality and communication through the human voice. This is an actual thing that happens. Though they may seem like an unlikely pairing at first glance, these heroes and heroines always manage to create a love story so real you can touch it. And it is almost more engaging to watch two people fall in love that you may not usually get to see fall in love on a screen. Women in opera have never been criticized for their weight on the stage, in fact a heavier set woman often results in a voice with more depth, and so size could sometimes be seen a plus.
The fact that these singers have been excluded from the outrageous bodily expectations society lays upon women (until now) is what I find pretty crazy. Today, if you read the same article about a woman in pop music: would you be surprised? Of course not. I’ve read countless articles about Adele’s weight, and she has even gone so far as to speak out about it: “I make music for the ears, not for the eyes.”
In thinking about how they have avoided these criticisms until now: its possible that woman in opera have throughout history enjoyed respect and admiration from their peers in a way no other female artists have. Since people stopped regularly castrating men’s voices to play the female leads, there have always been Divas. And these performers are not appreciated for their bodies, or their beauty, they are appreciated for their enormous skill to control the human voice. Men and women alike recognize that to be able to sing opera requires years of training, dedication, discipline, and a woman who excels at this is always credited for her work. Today in pop culture I often see woman being reduced to their physicalities as an explanation for success. It is extremely difficult for a woman to achieve “genius” status like her male counterparts, an example of this lies in Jessica Hopper’s review of St. Vincent’s latest record: http://www.spin.com/reviews/st-vincent-self-titled-SPIN-essential/
And so, maybe it is the history of respect that woman have enjoyed that has protected them from sexism and misogyny in the present day entertainment industry. Centuries of admiration for the Diva have carried on into our current decade: and this is why the fact that woman are now suddenly being targeted for the way they look in this ancient art form is enraging the community.
Maybe it is some indication that we have gone backwards. Obviously woman have more rights today in the western world than ever before, but the impossible bodily expectations laid upon us is creating a new kind of opression: one that dangerously overrides the work, talent, skill and genius we should be credited for.
Things To Do While At Home "Writing Music" And Your Girlfriend Is On Tour With MIA
Read cookbooks! I love to ingest, but my proficiency in the kitchen has always been less-than-adequate. I recently discovered, though, that if you follow a recipe magical things can happen. And a cookbook is better than looking up a recipe online because when you search the web you have to know what you are searching for, whereas when you read a book the ideas are plainly laid out for you. So the past few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time in my kitchen making things and its been very rewarding. For all those hummus-loving lesbians in the world that “Jerusalem” cookbook has the best recipe, and it makes like 10 time the amount you would normally buy for $5 in a grocery store. Also, reading this other book “Every Grain of Rice” has made me wish I were Chinese. I’ve filled my cupboards with things like Chinkiang Vineger and Cassis and have learned that you can basically make anything you would get at a Chinese restaurant in less than 30 minutes with 5 ingredients.
Things i’ve learned about photography since becoming a real band a few years ago:
1. wearing your pyjamas to a press day is a bad idea cause all the photos on the internet end up looking like you literally “woke up like this”
2. photos in general are really hard, its really to make an image that seems natural but still conveys your creative intentions
3. photoshop is ok in moderation: sometimes i see photos of myself and i don’t recognize my own face which is weird. But, i’d rather cover up a big pimple with a computer than have to wear a whole bunch of make-up for 4 hours.
4. the ultimate goal it to be able to communicate your personality in a photograph, and its really hard to do if a whole bunch of people staring at you while you try to look nice makes you uncomfortable. i have a lot of respect for models and other artists who seem to do this really well, it takes a lot of self confidence and self assuredness to be able to take good photos i think.
As a woman in music people often expect you to also be a model which is kind of a bummer. Becuase a lot of music magazines are reluctant to photograph women most female artists get the majority of their press in fashion magazines. Like Lykke Li for example: I’d sooner see her on the cover of Vogue than the cover of Rolling Stone, and the reasons for this can be confusing and daunting for other women trying to get credit for their musical skillz.
One thing I have to mention about Coachella thats kind of a bummer is the number of people who wear headdresses as a fashion accessory. It’s a form of cultural appropriation I find really offensive. Mostly because in North America millions of aboriginal people were displaced and killed when the European settlers moved in. And today, many people living on the native reserves are living in extreme poverty and are constantly having to defend their land against greedy industrialists. The hollywood fantasy of the “indian” is not accurate and tends to camouflage a real, more serious problem. Wearing a headdress, to me, shows a lack of awareness of the on going problem and that must be remedied.
There is a really sick aboriginal DJ/production crew from Canada called A Tribe Called Red who mix traditional pow wow vocals and drumming with dance production. You should check them out. They are vocal supports of the Idle No More movement (http://www.idlenomore.ca/) and also wrote an open letter requesting that people stop wearing headdresses and warpaint at their shows, i.e. dressing up in redface.