Chad VanGaalen Artist Interview
The story begins in a galaxy far, far away… "Intergalactic slavery going on within this closed system," says Chad VanGaalen, describing a fictional world of his creation. "I basically started making the planet... Then I was like, ‘Oh, it's going to be this mining community." Surprise, surprise, like that's never been used before..." And that right there is about as close to "conventional" as Chad VanGaalen comes. 2014's Shrink Dust is VanGaalen's first album in almost exactly three years. Described by its creator as a "sci-fi folk record", it takes the sound of its predecessor from 2011, Diaper Island, and, through the introduction of a pedal steel guitar, amplifies a certain country element that's been rumbling around in the background for a while. That influence appears as early as the first track, "Cut Off My Hands", which drifts in on a sweet calm that's reminiscent of the quieter moments of, say, Joel R.L. Phelps and the Downer Trio. VanGaalen album-openers can be deceptively mellow, though, and "Cut Off My Hands" is chased by the propulsive, television snow Madchester-ness of "Where Are You". Spiraling through it all are his trademark traits and nuances: the spectral vocal quiver, melodic pivots and bursts, the stretching of a single word like "evil" to the length of a sentence...

As much as Francis Harris' new work, Minutes of Sleep, is a record of mourning, it is also a record of motion, which seems to materialize out of the vapor, its form gradually coalescing as it progresses. Storm clouds gather with the opening meditation, "Hems", and then break with "Dangerdream". The energy is one of patient inertia; a steady beat finally materializes three songs in with the haunting "Radiofreeze", dials up to muted minimal techno on "Lean Back", then glides to the fore in "You Can Always Leave", the first of a pair of nine-minute centerpieces that the album pivots on. All the while, the momentum has built up so gradually that the distance from Point A to Point B feels closer than it is. Francis Harris Artist Interview Perhaps more circular than linear, the path that Minutes of Sleep takes from one song to the next still feels like an entirely natural progression. Yet when it comes to the album's place within his body of work, Francis Harris doesn't really see any through-lines. "I think it's important to not trace a line or talk about the idea of progression," Harris says, revealing that he sees very little connection between this record and any of his previous work. "I find the idea of focusing on one concept at a time to be rewarding, as it keeps you in the present, at least conceptually."
 

Liars' 2012 full-length, WIXIW, dwelled in doubt and anxiety, pressed against a curtain of murky fragility. Even if one only looks at the cover art for the band's latest follow-up, Mess -- a robust mass of multihued string that looks like the Love Forever Changes hydra head grew dreadlocks -- it's evident that in 2014, the band is in a more positive, confident, and even silly headspace. Mess's stock in trade is industrial dance music -- and although Liars' beats are as primal as they've always been, their music is now a little too emotionally in-check to properly identify as synth-punk.

Hauschka - Volker Bertelmann Composer Interview
Poor Pripyat never had a chance. A city along the northern edge of Ukraine thrust into existence in 1970, its fate was unfortunately tied to the neighboring Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, whose employees filled its houses. Pripyat barely saw sweet sixteen before its raison d'etre blew, leading to its full evacuation. Empty to this day and enveloped by nature's reclamation, the city has become, in recent years, a destination for the marginal but growing business of disaster tourism. Volker Bertelmann, who has been composing music under the name Hauschka since the mid-2000s, is a musician who would consider visiting Pripyat; his latest album, Abandoned City, takes its guiding inspiration from such spent locations. "Pripyat" is the second track on the record, and eight of Abandoned City's nine songs are named after different cities that have all been left behind at some point for one reason or another. "Agdam" references a war-ravaged city in Southwestern Azerbaijan, and "Elizabeth Bay" a deserted mining town in Namibia. An additional unreleased track is titled "Hashima Island", based off of an abandoned island in Japan "where they also shot a lot of apocalyptic Hollywood movies because it... still has a lot of skyscrapers that are totally empty."

ENGLISH TEXT & INTERVIEWS BY KARLA HERNANDEZ
Imagine an ordinary day. You're driving home from work, maybe listening to the new Gardens & Villa track -- or perhaps that one Vampire Weekend song that you pretend not to like, or something more classic like The Beatles. You then stop at a red light, and the car next to you is blasting mariachi music. Annoyed, you instantly think to yourself, 'Why is it so loud? Why is the singer wailing? What is the singer even saying?' Something unfamiliar shows up, and instantly a barrier goes up. It's okay. We all do it, to varying degrees. Maybe at that Chinese restaurant where you dined last night, the moment the server went into the kitchen and started talking really fast in Mandarin, you gave your friend a funny look.
SPANISH TRANSLATION BY JEAN-CLAIRE PELTIAE
Imagina un día ordinario. Estas conduciendo del trabajo a la casa, quizás escuchando el nuevo tema de Gardens & Villa, o tal vez esa canción de Vampire Weekend que finges que no te gusta, o algo más clásico como los Beatles. A continuación, te detienes en un semáforo en rojo, y el auto al lado tiene música mariachi a todo volumen. Molesto, de inmediato piensas, "¿Por qué lo tienen tan alto? ¿Por qué esta gimiendo el cantante? ¿Qué está diciendo el cantante?" Aparece algo desconocido, y en este instante se forma una barrera. Todos lo hacemos, en grados diferentes. Tal vez en ese restaurant chino donde comiste anoche, en el momento que el mesero entro a la cocina y empezó hablando rápido en Mandarín, le dio a tu amigo una mirada rara.
Considering the large populations of immigrants that have lived throughout the past hundreds of years in the United States, it's odd to think that something as simple as language can create disconnections between us. Going back to Gardens & Villa, Vampire Weekend, and The Beatles, we listen to these bands without giving it a second thought. However, their music would not exist today without the cultural blending that occurred decades before them.
Considerando la gran población de inmigrantes que han vivido en los Estados Unidos a través de los últimos siglos, es extraño pensar que algo tan simple como el idioma puede crear desconexiones entre nosotros. Volviendo a Gardens & Villa, Vampire Weekend y los Beatles, escuchamos estos grupos sin pensarlo. Sin embargo, su música no existiría hoy sin la mixtura cultural que ocurrió décadas antes de su aparición.
 
Blues and jazz were born in African-American communities, and rock mixed R&B with country, blues and folk. The Beatles received a lot of attention for incorporating the sitar in some of their songs, while Paul Simon was influenced by music from South Africa. Who knows where modern Western music would be today if our musical ancestors did not explore and experiment with mixing their own regional music with that of other areas? These were musicians who traveled to different regions of the world and were inspired by the music of other countries. Now, these other countries are affecting contemporary Western music through immigration. To use the United States as an example, immigrants here are changing the DNA of communities, job markets, schools, public policy, and the economy. Musicians who are immigrants or children of immigrants are finding their feet, heart, and minds in two worlds. Not only is their worldview different; the way that they communicate is literally different.
El Blues y el Jazz nacieron en comunidades afro-americanas, y rock mezcló R&B con country, blues y folk. Los Beatles recibieron mucha atención por incorporar el citar en algunas de sus canciones, mientras Paul Simon fue influenciado por la música de Sudáfrica. ¿Quién sabe donde estaría la música occidental hoy si nuestros ancestros musicales no hubieran explorado, experimentado y mezclando su propia música regional con la de otras áreas? Estos eran músicos que viajaban a diferentes regiones del mundo y fueron inspirados por la música de otros países. Ahora estos otros países están afectando la música occidental a través de la inmigración. Usando a los Estados Unidos como ejemplo, los inmigrantes aquí están cambiando el ADN de comunidades, mercados de trabajo, escuelas, políticas públicas y la economía. Los músicos que son inmigrantes o hijos de inmigrantes están encontrando sus pies, corazones y mentes en los dos mundos, sus dos países. No solo su visión global es diferente; su forma de comunicarse es distinta literalmente.

In summer 2010, Gardens & Villa released their self-titled debut album on Secretly Canadian. Full of youthful imagery and metaphysical ideas, the record reflected the band's perspective of the world through musings on life, love, nostalgia, and nature, presented in ways that only the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed can. It was the work of a younger Gardens & Villa, relatively naïve and overly optimistic about the realities of being a musician in the modern age. "We'd never been on the road; we'd never really gone anywhere to make a record before. We'd never heard of Pitchfork or any blogs," explains vocalist and guitarist Chris Lynch. "Our vision of making music was, 'You make a record, and then it blows up, and then you're on the radio, and then you're huge!' And the reality of it was: some people like you, some people don't like you, and you have to tour for two years. There's no really 'making it' anymore, unless you're part of 1% of 1%." Gardens & Villa are playing REDEFINE's SXSW 2014 Unofficial House Party. Click here for details. Photo by Neil Favila 2014 has seen the release of Gardens & Villa's second full-length record, Dunes -- and while these same themes of life, love, nostalgia, and nature still resonate heavily with the band of brothers, months of relentless touring and eye-opening experiences have brought them to this current point, which is philosophically and musically evolved from where they were three years ago. They have matured -- and this maturation can be found in the change from the barebones simplicity of the first to the layered complexities of the second, as well as in the lyrical content, which is now far more difficult to decrypt. Both records still contain much that is celebratory and have a similar thread of emotional honesty -- but the difference is that on Dunes, what is honest, and what is real, feels less dedicated to enclosed emotions and memories, but more to how one interfaces with the multi-colored pastiche of interconnected human experience, on a larger scale. "The second record is a lot more realistic, I guess, and there's a little bit of melancholy in the record that kind of came out of so much time on the road and missing home. But there's also some beautiful elements on both the records that also came out of that time," explains Lynch. "Basically, I'm trying to say that getting older and touring a bunch wasn't all a bad thing; it was actually a good thing. It's kind of us discovering how we're going to do this and survive." "The time on the road [was us] realizing our dream," Lynch continues, "but at the same time, seeing our dream as this long, arduous journey that's not what we thought it was."

In the continental 48 states, we often romanticize what life is like up in the mysterious neighbor to our north: Canada. With their peaceful lifestyle and free healthcare, it must be utopia, right? Everyone’s healthy and winning the Olympics with their athleticism, and no one ever argues with each other. Or maybe it’s just too cold to create too much of a fuss. Either way, we’ve seen an influx of Canadian musicians taking over the indie scene in the past decade, and their rise is due, at least in part, to the efforts of those who are committed to making sure the music is heard. Thanks in part due to FACTOR (The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recording), a non-profit that works closely with the Canadian government to help fund Canadian musicians, there is a lot more freedom to experiment, without the weight of high recording costs. Yet another thing to envy about Canada! And when it comes to documenting and then launching artists from the Canadian music scene, specifically in Montreal, we are hard-pressed to find someone doing it better than Arbutus Records.

Like a shiny unicorn of the indie pop world, Connan Mockasin is the type of musician who has earned himself a number of adjectives and associations, often whimsical and colorful in nature. His 2011 record, Forever Dolphin Love, set the precedent for this; it was full of unconventional words, strange voices, and fictional characters, giving one the impression that he is one who floats off early and often into the ether, with one foot grounded in this world and one in another. As a result, media and press often generalize Connan Mockasin to be an "oddball" -- an assertion that he finds "kind of a bit weak", for he doesn't in fact feel odd... Connan Mockasin Band Interview With his latest 2013 full-length, Caramel, Connan Mockasin's music has taken in soulful influences to become a fair degree more grounded and accessible -- but it seems that he still has trouble shaking the character judgments heaped upon him. Caramel is conventional compared to Forever Dolphin Love, but it remains fairly unconventional in the world of indie soul and R&B, full of moments that might be difficult to relate to from outside perspectives. But talk to Connan Mockasin for any length of time, and one learns very quickly that his motivations and attitudes towards music-making -- and life, in general -- are actually much, much simpler than most would predict. The bulk of his decisions are based upon impulses rather than deep considerations, and flowing from moment to moment without preconceived expectations or concerns for consequence is his general mode of operation. Indeed, it is one that very few people can relate to -- which is perhaps why it is so very "odd" -- but to understand this is to understand the essence of Connan Mockasin's creative genius.

A sense of psychogeography hums underneath the surface of a lot of music. Yet in Glasser's new album, Interiors, it is not just present, but a part of the thematic foundation. Not too long after Glasser's Cameron Mesirow released her debut album, Ring, in 2010, she moved from her horizon-stretching home state of California to the vertically-crammed spaces of New York. In a city where space is premium, "space" would become a fixation for Interiors, a guiding concept for a collection of textured electronic songs that are both dense enough with ideas to fittingly reflecting the physical environment that they were nurtured in, as well as sonically expansive enough to stretch and breathe unconfined.
Glasser Band Interview Feature Text by Ian King; Original Interview by Ingmar Carlson