Stanley Odd are a hip hop collective from Scotland. Their live performances are inspiringly energetic, their studio productions energisingly different. Their take on the genre is influenced by a wild mix of ingredients, from metal to the melodies and pads of Nena-keyboarder Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen.
Stanley Odd's T Lo: "I think it is important that we think about where and how we borrow from and are inspired by other cultures. Ultimately, I think it comes down to trying to always show respect."
Read our Stanley Odd interview.
Early on, Thom Nguyen got caught up in the magical world of repetition and phrasing. Quickly, he discovered free jazz and entered the realm of improvisation – a realm which has remained inspiring to him until this days.
In this personal conversation, he sheds some light into the reasons for his interest in searching, inquisitive music: "I’m adopted and have kept putting off searching for my birth parents and wish I was raised in my own culture, which seems foreign now. I feel similar with music in that I’ve been drifting from different genres for years not knowing where I fit in but I believe I’ve recently found the direction I want to pursue and have become more critical of future collaborative projects."
Read our Thom Nguyen interview.
Charlie Nieland has written with legendary artists like Debby Harry, a job he got as part of production team Super Buddha. An impressive achievement, as are is his work with Rufus Wainwright. But in many respects, the songs of his current album Divisions are even more impressive. Written for the Bushwick Book Club – one song each month – they explore a multitude of directions, styles and approaches, always with surprising, sometimes with outright majestic results.
The sheer joy of composing is audible in every bar here: "The best things come from my focusing on the feeling of the music coming through me, the sound of the universe, not so much any personal agendas or really trying to “say” anything."
Read our Charlie Nieland interview.
Anna Jordan aka The Allegorist already answered our 15 Questions in our The Allegorist interview a while ago. This time, she is back with an even more personal essay,
In the past, Anna had something similar to a near-death experience, and her art has never been the same since: "As time passed, my memories and thoughts stretched across areas that were shrinking like in a funnel until there was nothing left but peace. Only in the face of death could I finally see life for what it really was. This is how I came to learn, that death is as beautiful as birth. And I wouldn’t dare to ruin it with expectations."
Read the essay here.
For quite some time now, Noémi Büchi has impressed us with her diverse sonic excursions on her modular rig. So it was about time we invited her to the series. The result is as deep as her music and a great introduction to her work, which oscillates between dream-like drones and crisp textures, between intense stillness and rhythmical playfulness: "The ear is an interpreting organ and establishes a reference to the world. Through hearing, we are directly and affectively involved in the play of forces in the world."
Read our Noémi Büchi interview.
We're kicking off a new series of interviews on 15 Questions. These will take expansive, focused looks at the creative process and how music emerges from the first spark to the finished piece.
Our first interviewee is Tamara Lindeman of The Weather Station. For the past month, her latest album, "Ignorance" on Fat Possum Records, has hardly left my player. It's a change of pace for the band, with sensual grooves propelling her songs forward and embedding her poetry into delicate chambermusical arrangements.
For this interview, we caught Tamara at the right moment. She is, as she mentions, in the process of writing a book on song lyrics – so a lot of the topics we cover in our conversation are currently on her mind. Here's an excerpt from her talking about the spiritual aspects of songwriting:
"I used to be a lot more spiritual about writing songs and that honestly almost destroyed me. I think of the song as a structure you put in the spiritual place. Sometimes you look up from that place, and the sunset just blows you away. Sometimes you don’t look up, and that’s ok; sometimes the song is just shelter."
Read our Weather Station interview.
We're honoured to welcome Carlos Niño to the site. After a short excursion into conscious hip hop, he has established a cosmos of mesmerising music, filled with remote echoes of jazz and ambient, but so very much its own that it defies comparisons and categorisations. Albums like Chicago Waves Aquariusssssss are invitations for immersion, invitations to a place that is intriguing and otherworldly, but feels astoundingly safe at the same time.
Ahead of the release of the new Carlos Niño & Friends release More Energy Fields, Current, Carlos shared his thoughts on the creative process and his ideal of dissolving completely in sound: "Being truly creative, to me, is beyond identity. It is a very open state of being, totally present and connective … I am there, more and more so …"
Red our Carlos Niño interview.
Patrick Shiroishi isn't easy to pin down. In fact, this is exactly what makes his work so fascinating. Known as a fearless improviser, his possibly most popular releases so far have been with his quartet of himself, Chris Jusell, Chaz Prymek and Matthew Sage, playing dream-like pastoral jazz meditations. In these delicate mood pieces, Shiroishi's preference for smaller ensembles reveals itself fully: "I love small settings like duo or trio. You can get to know the player and have a real conversation together."
For 15 Questions, Patrick expanded on his take on improvisation in an essay. Read it here.
Many artists spend their entire lifetime searching for their voice. Riley Downing was born with it. His handsomely sandpapery vocal chords rub against the brittle directness of songs which feel like they're drenched in whiskey and cigarette smoke, adding up to a Tom-Waits-like take on a David Lynch soundtrack. That said, Downing's music never gets ethereal or dreamy, but rather seems culled from the pages of life itself.
There's plenty of humour to be found here, too: "One piece of advice I randomly got and have never forgotten was when I had to get my first passport picture taken at a Walgreens in New Orleans. I asked the lady after she took the picture if I could take another and she said “No that’s what you look like” haha fair enough. I think about that anytime I feel self conscious and remind myself, that’s just what you look & sound like bud."
Read our Riley Downing interview.