In addition to the itchy, overwhelming compositions that has made on her proper records, she’s also spent some time over the past few years as one the most adept remixers pop music. The boundary-pushing producer has turned songs like Justin Bieber’s Drake’s or into complex, dramatic movements swooning strings and shuddering polyrhythms. Today, she’s turned her attention to one pop music’s most under-appreciated records the last half decade, her friend Dan Bodan’s DFA full-length St.
Crampton posted on SoundCloud that her remix “A St Opening” was completed a few years ago, but it feels in line with the swooning edits and demos she uploads on a pretty much weekly basis. A simple acoustic guitar figure seeps in between the gravel-crunch a few percussion parts, the stillness punctuated occasionally by distant gunshots. Bodan’s already ghostly vocal is pitched up, then buried in the mix, haunting the otherwise regal proceedings. It’s tense stuff, but overflowing with emotion, like the best her work and the best Bodan’s. Listen here or over at her .
Every month Miles Bowe rounds up the best Bandcamp, unearthing the finest, freshest and weirdest releases the burgeoning DIY platform has to fer.
Tomorrow (February 3), Bandcamp will donate 100% its prits to the American Civil Liberties Union, an organisation that has never needed your help more than it does right now. We’ve recommended 33 classic Bandcamp albums to add your shopping list, but this rundown is all about brand new releases that are just as worthy your attention.
This edition also marks my two-year anniversary writing The Best Of Bandcamp, and looking back at so many favorites really shows how much the site’s community has grown. The releases this month don’t have much in common, but that only makes it more exciting — so join me for another tumble down Bandcamp’s rabbit hole.
Bandcamp Release Of The Month: mmph Dear God
Boston-based producer Sae Heum Han makes a haunting impression on Dear God, an EP that shuffles creepy industrial atmospheres, primal techno and IDM glitches with expert sleight–hand. ‘Sun God’ is a chilling introduction, painting eerie images with its dripping synths and creaky metallic samples. Yet it lives up to the title, thawing out in the second half with rushing synths and a piano melody dappled with chimes and birdsong.
Elsehwere, ‘Facade’ builds tension with spine-chilling percussion and strings until the EP explodes into its first storm noise and bass. It’s one many examples how well mmph sets careful trajectories over the entirety Dear God, bringing to mind sonic puzzlemakers like Oneohtrix Point Never and Arca. The delicate bridge ‘Past Lives’ channels R + 7 with blurred whispers and zero-gravity synths while the deceptively pretty closer ‘Blossom’ sounds like Arca’s molecular mutations unleashed on a Disney movie.
In fact, Dear God can conjure a seemingly contradictory series influences at any moment: nimble melodies indebted to PC Music, Jlin’s sinister romanticism and Nicolas Jaar’s ornate sense space. It makes sense – Han’s a young producer, but he’s too talented to let that overwhelm his vision.
You’ll either play Reflection for a couple minutes and tune out, or fall completely in love with the locked groove obsessions 아버지 (Father). It’s an album-length stutter in the spirit CD-skipping bliss outs like Fennesz’s ‘Before I Leave’ and Oval’s ‘Shop In Store’, where each track traps a few seconds audio in stasis to create subtle kaleidoscopic manipulations. The tracks only gain power when played in succession, but if you need a hook, the penultimate ‘Tomorrow’ is Reflection’s transcendent peak.
Using a shard vocal you could almost imagine on an Avalanches album if it was allowed to play out (it never is), the track soars and wanders for 11 graceful minutes. Like the rest the album, ‘Tomorrow’ never reaches its destination, but Reflection shows the journey itself is just as important.
Allergy Season Physically Sick
As the title suggests, the Allergy Season label may have been inspired (not to mention disgusted) by the awful political climate for this charity compilation – but it has never sounded to strong. The label teams up with Discwoman on Physically Sick to wrangle 42 tracks from some very pissed f and talented people, including familiar names such as Umfang, Octo Octa, Max McFerren, label owner Physical Therapy and his former ‘Drone On’ collaborator James K.
The compilation also provides a platform for some lesser known artists to present some their best work. Boston acid techno producer Isabella expands on last year’s Best Of Bandcamp-featured Viscous Positions with the unrelenting ‘Dying And Denying’ while Vancouver producer Yu Su fers a moody slow burner on ‘Tales’ which will satisfy fans her excellent 1080p album in the duo You’re Me. It’s available as “name your price”, but with all the release’s prits go to support charities such as the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center and Planned Parenthood, consider naming one other than “free”.
Wakesleep, Datavis, BassTechCustom™ — they’re all Robin Burnett, the Austin-based producer who introduced many to vaporwave with a genre-defining run albums as Internet Club. Since then, Burnett’s work has only grown more abstract and sensual, never more so than 2015’s excellent Three Thousand Flora.
On CORE GENESIS, Burnett adapts wonderfully to long-form drone with two glitchy synth epics, ‘Gay Bass Hologram’ and ‘NEXT GENESIS’, that deliver plenty the promised low-end rumble. The former follows a gently building path for 11 minutes, while the latter spends more than twice moving through carefully placed peaks and valleys. It’s too dynamic to be called “ambient”, but that won’t stop you from losing yourself in its hypnotic surges.
Muyassar Kurdi Intersections and Variations
Performance artist Muyassar Kurdi sings like an interpretive dancer moves on Intersections and Variations, an album that uses silence as an effective voice its own. With occasional accents from gong and cello (the latter provided by Nicholas Jozwiak, who also contributes vocals), Kurdi draws a worthy comparison to her former teacher, experimental vocalist Meredith Monk, while crafting something markedly personal.
From its tributes to unity (the lengthy, transporting ‘Companions’) and declarations individuality (the persistent ‘Alone’), Intersections… captures a unique voice in more ways than one.
Mary Lattimore Returned To Earth
On this lovingly crafted twer, harpist Mary Lattimore delivers a tribute to a man’s journey in space and is then joined by tape-noise composer Jefre Cantu-Ledesma for a track that feels like you’re floating in it.
Lattimore had been following astronaut Scott Kelly’s transmissions from the International Space Station when she broke her jaw in a fall. After spending the winter with her jaw wired up to heal, she got better just in time for his descent, when she recorded ‘For Scott Kelly, Returned to Earth.’ Her spritely harp buzzes with a renewing energy, which is balanced on the second half by the more reflective improvisation ‘Borrego Springs’ with Cantu-Ledesma.
The release comes through new tape label Soap Library, who package each cassette with a small object, in this case a packet orange zinnia seeds — Captain Kelly’s favorite.
This short collection was meant to be part a larger, now-abandoned project from Melbourne-based artist Deku, but what’s left leaves fascinating impressions. ‘Marie’ floats on warm organ passages reminiscent early Microphones before resting on a weary-but-not-defeated monologue rejecting suicide (“Just gotta keep on staying alive and hope that things are better, so yeah…”) while the highlight ‘Dominic DeNucci’ lays out a gentle duet between acoustic guitar and stormy drones static.
But after finishing on the uplifting, beat-driven ‘Trash Trio’ it suggests an unexplored range and thoughts at what could have been. Unfinished, yes — but undeniably worth your time.
Angus Dawson just dropped his single Ocean in the Sky. A quick takeaway: It’s all emotion and no saturation.
Dawson is Western Australia’s latest musical produce. With the producer’s highly anticipated debut EP (Ellesmere St) still on the way, it’s high time his growing followers got their hands on something they can wrap their ears and eyes around.
The video itself is a moody one. It follows a girl as she wanders, perhaps aimlessly, into the outskirts what could only be an Australian beachside town. It brings up all the feels a relationship and the compromises that can ensue.
The song is a well-crafted piece work. With original layers and vocal hooks, Dawson harmoniously mixes vocal automation with acoustic and electronic music. The warming vocals and sweeping soundscapes are 100% true-to-form. Dawson seems to be an expert at crafting a textual wash brooding indie-electronica and we highly suggest you get on board.
You can keep up with Angus or . We recommend you watch his space because this guy is making big moves.Check out the video below and let us know if you’re feeeeling it!
The singer takes an acoustic approach on his third album.
Mac DeMarco has announced his third album This Old Dog which he describes as “a new thing for me”. Hear two tracks from the release, ‘My Old Man’ and ‘This Old Dog’, below.
“The majority this album is acoustic guitar, synthesizer, some drum machine, and one song is electric guitar. So this is a new thing for me,” DeMarco explains in a press release statement.
Lead singles ‘My Old Man’ and ‘This Old Dog’ incorporate more synth tones and drum machines than any DeMarco’s previous work, while sounding gentler than 2014’s Salad Days.
Another change is just how much time DeMarco spent writing it. In a statement, he explains his usually swift writing process began in New York, but was delayed by his move to California. After a few months adjusting he approached the songs with a new perspective.
This Old Dog is out May 5 Domino. Check out the album cover and tracklist below.
01. ‘My Old Man’ 02. ‘This Old Dog’ 03. ‘Baby You’re Out’ 04. ‘For the First Time’ 05. ‘One Another’ 06. ‘Still Beating’ 07. ‘Sister’ 08. ‘Dreams From Yesterday’ 09. ‘A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes’ 10. ‘One More Love Song’ 11. ‘On the Level’ 12. ‘Moonlight on the River’ 13. ‘Watching Him Fade Away’
Make Music is FACT’s new section devoted to making music anywhere, whether you’re a seasoned producer or a total novice, using an arsenal analog gear or just your iPhone.
Last week, the music tech world landed in Anaheim, California to show f its new gear for the year ahead at this year’s NAMM show. Scott Wilson picks out the most exciting announcements the show to start saving for.
In the weeks leading up to NAMM 2017, it seemed as if all the most interesting new music gear the next 12 months had already been announced. However, despite the reveal Akai’s MPC X sampler, Korg’s full-size ARP Odyssey reissue and Bitwig Studio 2 in the weeks leading up to the gigantic music trade show, there were still plenty surprises when the doors opened on January 19.
While there were some typically high-end announcements, chiefly Dave Smith Instruments’ new REV2 synthesizer, it was boutique manufacturers like Teenage Engineering and modular companies such as Make Noise, Intellijel and Qu-Bit who were leading the innovation at this year’s show. This year didn’t feel quite as focused on modular gear as 2016, but it was clear that the enthusiasm for Eurorack is here to stay.
FACT was there to see the best new gear for ourselves, and we’ve rounded up the synths, drum machines and Eurorack modules we’re most excited about for 2017.
Pioneer DJ and Dave Smith Instruments Toraiz AS-1 Released: March 2017 Price: $499
Despite putting on a flashy 360-degree livestream event, Roland didn’t announce any new gear at NAMM. With no new synths to show f, Roland left Pioneer DJ and Dave Smith Instruments to steal the show with their surprise Toraiz AS-1, an analog mono synth that’s even better than last year’s Toraiz SP-16 sampler.
It would be easy to dismiss the synth as an attempt to make a clone Roland’s TB-303, but first impressions suggest it’s far more powerful and a lot more versatile. It’s basically a monophonic version the Prophet-6, meaning you can get trance-style leads and powerful arpeggios out it along with muscular acid basslines.
The AS-1 can easily hook up to a set Pioneer CDJs for live sets, but it’s going to find itself in a lot studio setups too. It feels study, sounds like a jet engine and most importantly, seems intuitive enough for anyone to start making pressional sounds within a few minutes getting their hands on it. If you were left underwhelmed by Roland’s TB-03 reissue, this $499 box is worth a look when it lands in March.
Elektron Digitakt Released: April 2017 Price: $600 approx
If there was a prize for the prettiest new product NAMM, it would go to Elektron’s Digitakt drum machine. Elektron gear always looks great, but the st LED glow the Digitakt is a real step up from the more utilitarian lines its Analog Rytm unit.
Unfortunately, looks were all we had to go on at NAMM, as Elektron only had a non-working prototype on display, but the specifications suggest it could be a serious competitor to Roland’s AIRA TR-8 and Arturia’s DrumBrute when it’s released in April. It’s only digital, but the ability to upload samples could be enough to sway people that would rather have versatility over retro drum sounds or an analog engine.
However, the Digitakt’s killer app could be its ability to sequence external MIDI gear. It’s something Elektron’s Octatrack sampler has been able to do for years, but the Digitakt is expected to come in at a very affordable $600. A hardware drum machine and sequencer for such an affordable price will be very popular with anyone who wants to ditch their laptop. If it’s user-friendly, Elektron could have a big hit on its hands.
Bastl Instruments Klik Released: March 2017 Price: €49
Bastl Instruments already has a reputation for small, innovative synths, but its latest device is set to be a breakthrough product for the Czech boutique company. It’s a sync box that converts line level audio from a sound card into clock signals for CV-enabled synths.
The best thing about Klik is that it’ll even do this using a standard headphone out – ideal for anyone that doesn’t have access to an audio interface. For just €49, it will appeal to anyone with a modular synth, as shown at NAMM, where Bitwig Studio 2 was linked up to a Bastl modular setup Klik.
Malekko Heavy Industry Manther, Mr. D and BFF Released: TBC Price: $600 approx
Standalone synths that also fit into a Eurorack modular system are nothing new: Roland’s AIRA System 1m and Moog’s Mother-32 have fered the best both worlds for a while now. But Malekko Heavy Industry’s three new units on show at NAMM suggest these hybrid devices are entering a new phase innovation.
There was Manther, a synth inspired by Roland’s classic MC-202, Mr. D, a drum machine with the technology from Malekko’s Varigate module for adding a random element to sequences and Industrial Music Electronics collaboration BFF, a polyphonic/monophonic synth with four voices, each which can be shaped individually.
Malekko only had non-working prototypes on show, but on paper they promise to bring some the fun Eurorack gear fun into standalone boxes. If you’re tempted by modular but don’t have $5,000 to drop on a full system, these $600 boxes will give you a taste without breaking the bank.
Make Noise Morphagene Released: March 2017 Price: $529
Make Noise only had one new module to show f, but it’s probably going to be at the top the list for a lot Eurorack fans. Morphagene is a tape music module in the same vein as its Phonogene module, but with several improvements, the most notable which is an SD card slot capable uploading 87-second “reels” to the unit.
Morphagene also improves the granular processing for chopping up sound at a micro level and adds a “morph” function, stereo ins and outs and a clock in. At $529 it’s not cheap, but hearing Make Noise taking a Pauline Oliveros vocal sample and layering it to create wild textures was enough to make us consider upgrading from the Phonogene.
Teenage Engineering PO-32 Tonic Released: April 2017 Price: $89 ($139 with Microtonic VST)
Teenage Engineering’s quick and easy Pocket Operator series has proved incredibly popular since it debuted in 2015, but not everyone has been sold on their limited palette sounds. The new PO-32 Tonic could be the unit that convinces more experienced producers to buy one for both making music on the go and in the studio.
Made in collaboration with Sonic Charge, the people behind the Microtonic drum VST, PO-32 Tonic is a tiny drum machine with a difference: it can receive new drum sounds a built-in microphone, through a sound burst transmitted from your computer. The function makes it one the most versatile drum machines you can buy for such little money.
From our time with the PO-32 Tonic, it sounds great too. It’s no match for an instrument like Arturia’s DrumBrute, but its data transfer ability could be enough to dethrone Korg’s Volca Beats as the cheap, portable drum machine choice for budget-conscious producers.
Intellijel Plonk Released: Q2 2017 Price: $309
Out Intellijel’s massive 10 new modules on show, the one that caught our ear was Plonk. It’s a new percussion synthesizer made in collaboration with Applied Acoustic Systems, with physical modelling technology that sounds very convincing. Its resonator can make strings, beams, marimbas, hi-hats and more, has a USB port for uploading presets and a randomisation feature. If you need a drum module for your rig, Plonk looks like one the most unique options on the market.
Read next: The best hardware synths, drum machines and effects to buy for under $350
Indiana producer Jerilynn Patton a.k.a. today shared the indefatigable track “Nyakinyua Rise,” f her forthcoming for Planet Mu. Combining a swam acoustic percussion with tectonic shifts subbass and vocal samples chopped into transcendence, the song finds Patton in the thrall rigorous experimentation.
In an interview with THUMP last year she described what was her forthcoming music as and “Nyakinyua Rise” certainly fits the description. While the listener can hear some the Chicago genre’s rhythmic phrasings and drum machine patterns in the track’s DNA, Patton creates a relentless, molten sound entirely her own, etching out abstract forms without sacrificing emotional impact.
She will release her sophomore album Black Origami in May, following her 2015 breakout LP Dark Energy.
Dark Lotus will be released on digital and vinyl formats February 10, and is available fore .
FACT gets the details on Intellijel’s 2017 range synth modules.
NAMM 2017 was full great new Eurorack modules, but Intellijel had one the biggest ranges new gear, showing f 10 new products in total.
As well as Plonk, a percussion synthesizer made in collaboration with Applied Acoustic Systems capable making everything from hi-hats to marimba sounds, Intellijel was showing f a new touch controller called Tetrapad and Quad VCA, which can act as a mixer, amplifier and VCA module.
Intellijel also had a new module called Shifty, which takes inspiration from the sequencing capabilities Korg’s classic MonoPoly synth, and a redesign the Springray module. There were also five new 1u tile modules on display along with new cases.
FACT visited Intellijel’s booth at NAMM 2017 and spoke to company founder Daniel van Tijn to find out more.
For more information, visit the Intellijel website, and keep an eye on FACT for more videos from NAMM 2017.
Watch next: Watch Make Noise’s new Morphagene tape music module at NAMM 2017
The second release from the mysterious project in two days.
Hype Williams has dropped Chalice, another release on The Internet Archive following their return yesterday.
While yesterday’s Guccistreams2 was a short four-track release, the seven-track Chalice runs 25-minutes. Just as its recent predecessor inexplicably included a quote from rapper N.O.R.E., the only information provided with the release is the phrase “Wine is not an emulator,” a reference to the acronym for the open source stware application Wine.
The sound the release varies wildly from the acoustic ‘Corn Brazy’ to the distorted guitar solo ‘Chocomel’ to the closing title track which brings to mind Blunt’s The Narcissist II. As with all current Hype Williams releases, the involvement Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland is unknown.
Stream Chalice below and download it while you can.
Ever wondered what it could be like to be inside a venue that is acoustically perfect? We’ve all thought it at one point, surely. A venue where the sound flows effortlessly with no concern for which direction the speakers are facing? Well the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg promises just that.
The $843 million structure is the brainchild Swiss architectural firm Herzog & De Meuron as well as One to One Studio and various engineers, and is quite literally the best venue in the world in terms sound.
As reported by , “the 10,000 panels feature one million “cells”—little divots that look like someone used a seashell to carve out a chunk material. These cells, which range anywhere from four to 16 centimetres across, are designed to shape sound within the auditorium.”
“When sound waves hit a panel, the uneven surface either absorbs or scatters them. No two panels absorb or scatter sound waves alike, but together they create a balanced reverberation across the entire auditorium.”
The amount time and craft that has gone into this really shows how far we’ve come in terms technology. The place itself looks almost alien in design, with it’s curved interior and obscure exterior build.
Bruce Springsteen has called president-elect Donald Trump a "flagrant, toxic narcissist" and once described the billionaire property mogul as a man with “no sense decency, no sense responsibility about him.” He’s even questioned whether Trump was competent for the top job.
Bruce is so unimpressed with Trump, even a Springsteen covers band has declined a request to play at an Inauguration night ceremony.
It turns out Bruce isn’t done yet.
According to various reports, Springsteen snubbed Trump again by delivering a 15-song acoustic concert at the White House as a final thank-you to president Barack Obama and his hard-working staff.
Backstreets soaked up the action from inside the East Room on Jan. 12, where the POTUS and First Lady joined some 200-250 guests for the most exclusive gigs.
The show “was a real personal thing, this thing for staff who sacrificed so much over the last eight years,” according to Backstreets' account the night. “It was a humble, quiet gesture from Bruce to say thanks to President Obama, the staff, and their families. No pomp, no ceremony, no press. Just the man, the guitar, and the songs.”
Springsteen was reportedly in a chatty mood as he talked politics between songs, and sang Obama’s praises.
And all the old favorites came out, from "Thunder Road" to "Born in the U.S.A.," "Long Walk Home," "Dancing in the Dark" and the set-closer, "Land Hope and Dreams".
As the show wrapped up, the president took the mic and thanked the performer. "He's been with us for some time now, performing his craft to show his support," Obama told his staff.
Springsteen is something a regular at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He was on hand to receive the Presidential Medal Freedom at a function in the White House last November and was reportedly invited to the Obamas’ goodbye party last week.
American Idol Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips paid his respects to New York Police Department Det. Steven McDonald this weekend by performing his song "Home" at the fallen ficer's wake.
Phillips was moved when he learned that his coronation song was McDonald's favorite song, reports the New York Post.
“Without hesitating Phil came," McDonald's son, Conor, told mourners.
McDonald, who died at the age 59, was injured in the line duty by a teen gunman in Central Park thirty years ago, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Phillips' song got him through his final days, explains Conor, who is also an ficer.
"One thing I knew when he was lying there in bed, was definitely to pray, cause he would want us to pray,” he said in his eulogy. “But I also put the phone next to his ear and would start playing, 'Home.' I mean, we played that almost every hour from Friday until Tuesday morning, when Dad passed on."
The Leesburg, Georgia native then played a reverential version the song acoustically, saying he was "a man few words." He concluded with a touching version "Amazing Grace."
This isn't the first time Phillips was touched by a fan. In 2014, the big hearted Idol star took to Twitter to fer his condolences to the family slain teen Maren Sanchez, who performed his song at a high school talent show in Milford.
Watch Phillips' touching performance at St. Agnes Parish in Rockville Centre, Long Island.
A surprising changing the guard as the smart speaker company adujusts to a changing market.
Last week Sonos' CEO and founder John MacFarlane, the smart speaker company's prime mover and force personality, announced he was stepping down after 15 years growing his business into a billion-dollar global brand. The sudden news came as a surprise to many in the music business.
The industry's support Sonos products paralleled the company's (and streaming's) rise as MacFarlane personally cultivated many relationships within the business. Rick Rubin, WME Music's Marc Geiger, Giles Martin (the late George Martin's son], Hans Zimmer, Q-Tip and others became advisors and/or joined the company while the founder regularly met with top executives including the likes UMG chairman Lucian Grainge. While Sonos Studios in Los Angeles and London supported artists and hosted performances, speakers seem to sprout up in many a music exec's fice.
In a blog post on the company website entitled the "The Next Generation Sonos Leadership," the now ex-chief executive wrote that as part continually trying to "take Sonos to the next level" and "assessing his own role at the company" he had decided to pass the CEO baton to Patrick Spence, 42, a Toronto-native who joined Sonos in 2012 as its chief commercial ficer after working for 14 years at RIM/BlackBerry. Spence's arrival comes at a pivotal time as the smart speaker market is undergoing dramatic changes with the rise voice activation technology.
This led Sonos last spring to undergo a round lay-fs and re-strategize. Since then, the Santa Barbara-based company announced last August it would be partnering with Amazon to integrate its systems with its popular Alexa platform. The company also opened its first retail store, in NYC, and announced (in Pusha T's presence) partnerships with China's QQ Music and Airbnb, West Elm and the Rough Trade store. The company has streamlined how Spotify controls the Sonos speakers and has similar plans for Pandora. Billboard caught up with Spence on the first day on the new job to get his take on the changing speaker market, his priorities for the new year and his relationship with the music business.
Billboard: Congratulations on being named CEO.
Patrick Spence: Thank you. It's an honor to try and follow in John's huge footsteps. He's one the most selfless high-integrity people I've ever worked with and it's an honor to have him pass the mantle on to me
Last time Billboard interviewed John [MacFarlane] in March the company was undergoing a major pivot towards voice activation and went through a round layfs.
We went through a tough period in the middle last year as we made the adjustment we needed to, but it's a testament to John and the entire team that we were able to make that turn quickly. I was on the leading edge kind ringing the alert about voice and the way it was changing listening in my own home. I got an Echo early on and saw the way my kids started interacting with it and the way I interacted to and I thought, "Wow, this is something that could really help in terms creating a more enhanced music experience," and it was something we ten talked about.
What are the advantages voice activation?
You might have heard John talk about "Time to Music," which is about how quickly you're getting music playing in your house. Voice is an incredible way to do that. It's not like using the Sonos App or the Spotify App to control your Sonos speakers, you can't yet go deep in terms building playlists and exploring new music and all the great stuff that comes from the music streaming services you get through the Sonos App, but it's a great way to get it playing, move the volume up and down and do the basic stuff.
How will Sonos move more towards voice activation in the future?
You saw us in August talk about the relationship with Amazon and the work that we're doing to bring that to Sonos and there's a whole lot more work ahead. The way I look at voice services is that they're a lot like music services: We were there from the beginning with music streaming services when there was only one service in the very early days starting withRhapsody. We built from there and we've learned what it takes to integrate a variety services into our speakers and our platform.
Did you ever consider bringing voice activation in-house?
There's a lot people out there investing a lot money in voice services area particularly when you think across mobile as well. Apple and Google are putting billions into this, Microst is with Cortana and Amazon with Alexa, so we think that it's smart to take advantage that. You may see us add unique elements Sonos into that mix, but just like we haven't tried to compete with Spotify we're not going to compete with Amazon or Google or Apple on voice service. But it's going to be a challenge for a lot the more ecosystem-focused players, somebody like Google or Amazon or Apple, because they produce products that typically tie you into their service and don't provide a multi-service experience. We're in a really unique spot with voice right now.
How did 2016 compare with 2015, which MacFalane said drove a billion dollars in revenue?
It was good holiday season. We measure our business based on the number new homes we are actually filling with music — so I keep the team focused on that. For the holiday period, with no new products but driving what we did with the Spotify app integration and some great marketing, we were able to grow the number new homes by 20% year-over-year. [That is] a great sign in terms where we are and a really healthy sign in terms growth in the music industry around the streaming side. It was a good quarter.
So if you were in 20 percent more homes last quarter, does that mean you were well over a billion dollars in revenue last year?
We don't typically disclose revenue… the number I was citing is the number homes we fill with music.
We last reported that Sonos had eight rounds funding totaling $320 million. Have there been any more rounds?
There's been no more rounds funding and we are pritable and that's important. We're in good shape on that front and we don't need another round funding for us to operate our business.
Your predecessor had in-depth relationships in the music business and high prile musicians, do you plan to continue those?
John's not going anywhere and I'm going to jump into those meetings with him as well and am looking forward to getting engaged. I'm going to spend more time being more externally oriented and try to understand what's happening in the ecosystem and the industry and bringing that back into Sonos in terms what products we build and what services we support.
I see a lot Sonos speakers in music executives' fices…
That's a testament to John as well asGiles Martin [the company's "sound experience leader"] and Thomas Meyer really connecting. We take our products before they're released to some the folks in the industry. Rick [Rubin's] been up here ten to check out our speakers and give feedback. And you still see a variety different artists who might tweet when they get their new Sonos — so that remains super important. We did a A Tribe Called Quest special edition speaker that came out in our New York City store with the launch their new album which was pretty cool.
How do you think your vision differs from MacFarlane's?
I think you'll see us executing faster in terms where we are and working together. One the things I've been very very focused on is making sure the teams are aligned and together and figuring out where to go. What I bring to the table is my ability to bring this amazing team together around a shared vision and enable people to be able to go and create the magic around a variety different things, like our stware and the products we make. We are delighting the world with new stuff on a frequent basis. I'm really looking forward to doing that and making sure we're filling a lot more homes with music. It's going to be a new era. It takes something different at this stage for sure as we scale the company up. I had the good fortune going through this at BlackBerry, the mobile phone company which went from 150 people and no revenue to 17,000 people and $20 billion in revenue and so I think i'm going to be able to help Sonos and the team here unlock a a lot innovation.
Didn't BlackBerry lose the mobile phone wars in a big way? Were you there then?
Absolutely. I left there in 2012 just when it started to collapse
What did you learn from that experience?
That clarity and focus around the mission is really important and building a strong culture to make sure you're staying focused on what your customer needs as opposed to reacting to some the other things happening in the eco-system or getting too caught up in what the competition is doing. And then making sure you're building, you're staying sharp and building a platform that allows you to innovate. At the end the day it all boils down to the ability to innovate and to be consistently exceeding your customers' expectations
What is Sonos focused on for the new year?
Really there's three things: There's voice. There's streaming music and that's just exploding, you see that obviously in the U.S. with streaming revenue overtaking everything else and growing the industry again, which is awesome. And then the third thing is the push around the connected home. Meaning there's a lot more products around the home that will emit sound and we think they should be emitting sounds through Sonos.
Those who aren’t fans anthemic alt-rock outfit Kings Leon — or who stopped following the mighty MOR act years ago — might be surprised to learn that their most recent record, WALLS (an album whose art we called the absolute worst the year and which one our editors, no joke, actually thought was called MILK — just look at that creamy cover to get why), is something a new fan favourite.
Although (perhaps unfairly) critically derided (as per usual, save for the NME) like much the band’s discography, it was hard not to find a concertgoer singing along to whichever one the album’s many tracks were performed at the Air Canada Centre last night (January 16).
Opening the third night their short North American tour was Atlanta, GA’s Deerhunter. Headliners in their own right (though not at a venue this big), their appearance was the band’s first in Toronto since being forced to cancel their 2015 appearance at TURF.
Known for his at-times confrontational and powerful stage presence, bandleader Bradford Cox almost seemed to be swallowed up by his surroundings in such a large setting, choosing to lurk in the shadows at the front the stage as the band performed hits from across their catalogue, such as “Breaker” from last year’s Fading Frontier, Monomania cut “Dream Captain” and “Helicopter,” from their 2010 release Halcyon Digest (the latter sounded especially good in an arena, what with the song’s echoing snare drum hits and chiming guitars).
A little leaner and less noodling compared to most the band’s other sets in the city, their sound was mostly lost on the sparse crowd, and it’s hard to blame them; although Kings Leon frontman Caleb Followill called Deerhunter one their favourite bands and said that he was honoured to have them on the tour (frankly, even he seemed surprised they agreed to it), their music and fans seem like polar opposites the modern rock spectrum.
By the time the Followill brothers (and cousin Matthew) took the stage, the massive Toronto venue started to resemble a sold-out show, with almost every seat in the house taken.
Starting things f with Come Around Sundown opener “The End,” the band quickly pushed through a number hits from their early career, including Aha Shake Heartbreak‘s “Slow Night, Slow Long,” the bass-heavy “McFearless” and classic rockers “Four Kicks,” “Molly’s Chambers” and “The Bucket,” all which were met with mixed — at least compared to what was to come — reactions from the crowd.
After cover band bar staple “Sex on Fire,” a curtain dropped on their minimalist stage set up and an extended, acoustic segue (save for Jared’s bass guitar and a drum machine placed out the spotlight), including “The Runner” and “Comeback Story,” ensued. It all felt a little lame and indulgent — that is, until halfway through the title track from their new album, when the walls and curtains were literally lifted around them to reveal a previously covered chunk the stage, two additional members on guitars and keyboards and a pretty spectacular light setup; it was cheesy if you know the song’s lyrical content, but it’s hard to imagine even the most resolute music snobs not finding that kind reveal at least sort special.
From there the Followills really got cooking, playing a string late-career hits (“Radioactive,” “Supersoaker”), call-backs to their early years (the slinky and spry “On Call”) and a smattering songs from their new album that almost all in attendance proudly knew the words to (“Waste a Moment,” “Reverend” and real highlight “Find Me”).
Saving their biggest hit for second last, the band got the whole venue singing along to “Use Somebody” before calling their crew on stage (after thanking them and their fans for sticking with them through the years) to pick up some pieces percussion and play along to new number “Around the World,” a track that took on new meaning live.
No encore was played, but, to be fair, the band barely took a break throughout their almost two-hour long set — not too bad for a Monday night in the middle January.
When it comes to most branded Twitter accounts, it’s safe to assume that a media intern is dreaming up the content. After all, companies love to dabble in dank memes in a desperate hope for relevance. One Twitter account that has surprised many with its authenticity, however, is that naughties pop rockers Smash Mouth.
In recent years, the band has used their endlessly entertaining Twitter page to pay tribute to dead celebrities in odd ways, press their love for bands like Parquet Courts and share surprise new songs.
While it ten feels like it might be another post-modern marketing plan, however, there’s something entirely unique about Smash Mouth’s account. After all, they’re just as quick to debate politics, discuss oral sex and fight with pressional sports teams.
We reached out to Smash Mouth to get to the bottom their endlessly entertaining Twitter presence, and frontman Steve Harwell happily completed an interview via email.
He revealed that the account is run entirely by him and bassist Paul DeLisle, and also pressed his love for Death Cab for Cutie, Lower Dens and Local Natives, among others.
Read our full interview below (lightly edited for clarity).
Do you wish people would take you a little more seriously, or are you just having fun online? We’re a pop band for the most part and the nature our songs are fun. We’ve never taken ourselves that serious so interacting with people online is sort the same thing. Any mention is a good mention in this biz.
Who is behind the band’s Twitter? Is it one person or a group people? It’s me and Paul, my bass player, with assistance from management. We argue about stuff before we even post it so the process is more entertaining than the actual posts. Our Twitter process is a damn reality show.
Unlike other branded Twitter accounts, the Smash Mouth account is amazing because you are willing to talk to people about anything. Are there any rules to your Twitter? Is there anything that’s f limits? We just watched our new President win the election because Twitter and that dude goes f. We have a filter but we also don’t want to be boring and we want a forum to express our opinions on everything. One thing we pretty much stay away from is politics because we learned early on politics is do or die for some people. We do lots shows so the last thing we want is someone trying to get at us physically. We travel a lot so we saw Trump’s support firsthand and it’s crazy. We’re all sports nuts so talking sports and having strong opinions comes naturally.
You recently mentioned that you love the band Parquet Courts, which took a lot people by surprise. What are some other current artists you’re into? It’s funny because people always tell us ‘rock is dead!’ If you’re not enjoying this alt-indie rock explosion then you’re missing some incredible bands. Lower Dens are amazing! Death Cab is probably the best band period. K-Flay’s ‘Blood In The Cut’ is an incredible song. The Strumbellas, Bishop Briggs, Fits & the Tantrums, Dreamers, Phantogram, Wild Belle, The1975, Coin, Grouplove, Barns Courtney, CircaWaves, Chvrches, Bear Hands are rad! Their song “Boss” fucking kills! Local Natives. And the best band/duo today and maybe EVER is TwentyOnePilots. I’ve never seen an artist have a connection with their fans like TwentyOnePilots!
You’ve recently started posting celebrity tribute images when people pass away. Who creates the images? Our Management does but we usually tell them what we want.
Some people have criticized those tribute images for being a little crass with your logo on them. Anything you’d like to say regarding that? The idea is our logo is our stamp approval but some people took it as trying to get noticed by using someone’s death. We will probably go a different route on that one.
Forgive me for asking, but I have to — there’s currently another Shrek movie in the works. Do you think you’ll be involved in any way? No way, they always go for current fresh artists as they should. That being said we actually have a couple new songs that are perfect so we will see. We recorded a song for the 2nd one but they never used it. ‘All Star’ was not written for any film but it ended up in like 5 and 2 before Shrek.
You’re working on an acoustic album currently. Tell me about that project. 2017 marks our 20-year anniversary because we’re old fucks and we thought it’s a good way to celebrate our debut LP by re-recording it as an acoustic album. We never knew the actual process recording it would be so fun.
You’ve ten (correctly) argued that you’re not a one hit wonder. What are some other Smash Mouth songs people should check out if they only know the radio hits? Lol. You’re either a one-hit wonder or you’re not. If we we’re we’d rally around that and joke along and call our next album 1HitWonder. Heck we may have even changed our name to the title the one song. That being said, trying to set the record straight with the millennials got everyone trolling us and making a joke out the fact that we even answered to it. The millennials are smart fuckers, so we earned a social media lesson for sure.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross know they may not be the first names that come to mind when imagining composers for Patriots Day, director Peter Berg’s docudrama about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. But it was the chance to delve into something new that made the Oscar-winning composers The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo say yes to the film, which opens wide Friday.
“We [consider] things that are interesting to us and might put us in unfamiliar waters. The idea a Hollywood picture about current events with Pete, who is an experiential filmmaker, and was a different kind film than we’d been involved in, was a challenge,” Reznor said during a recent Q&A with the pair after a screening presented by The Society Composers & Lyricists.
The Nine Inch Nails bandmates wrote the atmospheric, largely electronic, ten-droning score face-to-face. “We’re always in the same room when we’re composing,” Ross said. “If you were spying on us, it would look like I’m playing most the stuff,” Reznor added, “but the arrangement is all [Atticus], and the combination works in a way where we can play f each other. [We] grind our way through one frame at a time.”
While bits piano and strings are decipherable at times, for much the score, the instruments were deliberately distorted through a device their own creation. “We had a friend ours build this machine that is two tape machines hooked to a computer, where it just endlessly locks something in and copies from one to the next, each one degenerating another time,” Reznor says. “The longer you let it sit, the worse it gets. You’d go to lunch and come back and it sounds 8-track/tape-ish. Leave it overnight and it’s unrecognizable, but it does it in a way that’s interesting, that’s warm and nostalgic.”
Almost every bit instrumentation, including live strings, went through that filter. “We pretty much used that through the whole score in different ways,” Reznor says. “Sometimes it sounded more aggressive and sounded more electronic, but [there were] real acoustic instruments played and then glued together by this process taping it over and over again.”
As Reznor and Ross researched the bombing — including looking through previously unreleased FBI files — the project took an emotional toll, not only as musicians, but also as fathers, especially since one child died in the attack and several others were injured. “Every film has been challenging, and that’s why we take them on. This was challenging, aside from the music, as a father,” Ross says. “In the FBI folder we were given, there was some stuff in there that was unwatchable, deeply upsetting, as a parent, really as a human being.”
In an almost unheard- move, initially Reznor and Ross felt Berg used too much their score. “As we got into scoring the film, we kept getting comments back like, ‘No. Needs more music’ [from Berg],” Reznor said. “Working with [director David] Fincher, music is a bit more subtly woven into the DNA the picture; [this picture] was much more towards ‘add music here between these two cues and have it continue through this into the next thing.’ It was really about dynamics and space. At the end the day I think [Peter] made the right call.”
Next up for Reznor and Ross, who also scored the climate-change doc Before the Flood this year, is The Vietnam War, a new 10-part documentary from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick on the history the conflict. The series will air on PBS in September. Burns and Novick have shared footage from their film over the years with Reznor and Ross to give them an idea the emotional range music the project requires. “To bear witness to their process was immensely inspiring,” Reznor and Ross said in a statement. “The sheer scale the project combined with the magnitude the subject matter was initially daunting for us, but the commitment, care and reverence they displayed made the experience deeply satisfying on many levels.” The Vietnam War also includes original music composed by Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble.