My interview with LA Band Gateway Drugs

On their Facebook page, Gateway Drugs describe their genre as “drug pop.” It might be tongue in cheek, but if your ideal drug experience is fun, unpredictable, swirling, and unbound by rules, then the band probably has a point. Straight out of Los Angeles, Gateway Drugs are the three Niles siblings – Gabe, Noa, and Liv, and friend Blues Williams. They all share the instrument and vocal duties. And the Niles trio knows a bit about the music world – their father is Preston Niles, from a little band you might have heard of called The Knack. But this is no throw-back to the 1979 classic hit “My Sharona”. Instead, there is a punchy garage band meets pop punk psychedelia ethos that could call for the formation of a whole new set of classics. Their latest song, “Fridays Are for Suckers” off the album, Magick Spells, shows a band who knows exactly what they’re doing. Northern Transmissions caught up with Gateway Drugs in the middle of their tour. Alice Severin asked about how this spell was cast.

NT: The chorus to “Anu” is great – do you think there is a certain feel you were trying to capture?

Liv: Thank you, no not really, we just wanted it to sound like Chuck Berry on Acid.

interview here!

My interview with Nick Hemming of The Leisure Society

UK based group The Leisure Society are releasing their new album, The Fine Art of Hanging On, on April 13. Since their debut album The Sleeper in 2009, they have been praised by both audiences and fellow musicians for their emotional and musical range as well as the orchestral balance of their songs. In a flurry of notoriety, they were nominated for two Novello awards back to back. Brian Eno said that their music was beautiful and wanted to meet them. Ray Davies wanted to work with them. The live performances of their delicately crafted folk-rock songs have won them five star reviews. And they just played a 5am show to support Dermot O’Leary and his 24 hour dance marathon to raise money for Red Nose Day, the UK charity event, not only for a good cause, but because they are one of his favorite bands. With the new album on the horizon, Northern Transmissions wanted to hear more about The Leisure Society. Alice Severin spoke with front man and singer/songwriter Nick Hemming who generously shared his thoughts about life, lyrics, and the inspirations behind his songs.

I spend most of my time obsessing over lyrics in one way or other. I do deliberately try to leave them open to interpretation although they generally come from quite a personal place. I love it when people find their own meaning in something I’ve written.

tap here for full interview

Pop Levi and Bunny Holiday

My interview with Pop Levi and Bunny Holiday – Crush DLX

Crush DLX is a musical partnership formed by the joining together of two very provocative personalities, Pop Levi and Bunny Holiday. Bunny is a model and designer for American Apparel, whose icon-busting take on Southern California imagery is both playful and edgy. Pop Levi is an indie music perennial, a producer and multi-instrumentalist. He’s been part of Super Numeri, Ladytron, and The Emergencies. He’s possibly best known for his solo album The Return to Form Black Magick Party. Self-produced and recorded in various locations around the world, Pop Levi toured the album in the US, UK, Europe and Australia, which led to Lauren Laverne naming him on the UK’s The Culture Show as one of her favorite artists. He also wrote and produced the Childish Gambino song “The Party” for his album Because the Internet, one of the nominees for Best Rap Album at the 2015 Grammy Awards. His latest creative endeavor is the Micro Sex Tapes 370 project. Experimental and intuitive, the project releases a new song every day on the Crush DLX SoundCloud for 370 days. Nearly halfway through, and they’ve already collaborated with Ariel Pink on one of the tracks, “My Pleasure”, and plans are in the works for other musical hook-ups, possibly including members of Cabaret Voltaire and Duran Duran. Alice Severin spoke to the extremely charming Pop Levi and Bunny Holiday about their inspirations, how to get your cassette into an Oscar goodie bag, and what it takes to release a song every day.

The idea of it is to keep it dirty and sketchy on purpose, as opposed to making a final polished product album. Both of us are really turned on by…the idea of doing it, of giving people a music series rather than a polished album. Like, watch us make it with all the faults and all the good things. Like music should be, I think.

tap tap interview this way…

It’s an intriguing collaboration. …check it out –
Twitter: @crush_DLX

Portrayal album cover

Unsigned discoveries – my interview with UK band Portrayal

Alice Severin is starting a series looking at some great unsung and unsigned bands, who are on the cusp of wider recognition. First up, UK duo Portrayal. Rob Tranter and Joe Crook hail from the West Midlands and are producing stellar electronic music. They’ve been noticed by BBC Introducing, and are putting out an album in the next few weeks with the atmospheric title To the Black Sea. The music itself conveys hints of wistful sadness and introspective moods, while sharp synth and guitar work, coupled with almost shoegazy vocals, make for a mix that manages to straddle both electronica and rock sensibilities. Merging both tension and abstraction, like in the gorgeous track “Departures”, the band shows an ability to create emotional sketches with a fine sensibility. “Universal Libraries,” the latest track, seems even more able to spill an array of tones and moods, while “Never Adjusted” pours into the air like a song that’s always existed. The interplay between guitar and vocal is carefully interlaced, building before opening out into a chorus with wide sounds and vision.

Alice Severin spoke with Rob and Joe of Portrayal, who shared some thoughts on their music and their upcoming album.

The song came about when we were experimenting with patching up a number of guitar pedals to come up with some interesting sounds to play with. We wanted something which had a variety of dynamics and interesting sounds whilst also keeping quite a tight structure and vocal.

The interview with UK band Portrayal this way tap tap…

Update – I’m listening to the new album right now as I type this. It will be coming out, self released, at the end of March 2015. Full review to come. Great stuff. Listen to this song…

And this one…

Twitter – @portrayalmusic

Dan Deacon

My review of Glass Riffer – the new album by Dan Deacon

On his album America Dan Deacon explored themes around the vast landscape of the states, borrowing from what at moments was like a mix of marching bands and American genres of music run through a filter of electronics that concluded with a four part ode to the country. And while Deacon is a stalwart member of the Baltimore electronic music scene, he’s also known for his classical work, even making his debut at Carnegie Hall in 2012. On top of all that, he writes film scores, including one for Francis Ford Coppola. This range of skill and ambition shows why the first song to be released, “Feel the Lightning” from the new album, Gliss Riffer, already has over 200,000 plays on Spotify, and his show at Rough Trade in NYC is sold out.

“Meme Generator” has to be one of the best off the album. At the beginning, it has a deep beat and trance like vocal, reminding a little of Museum of Love, but it’s quickly followed by a repetitive rhythm that gives the impression of a world speeding up. But it’s the haunting electronic keyboard motif that gives this song its oddly soulful mood, emphasized by the melodic continuation that allows the feel to drift over the incessant rhythm underneath.

tap tap review this way