A couple of weeks ago I met up with Grenier at one of my favorite local spots Forage for a little food and friendly discussion. What I think both of us anticipated was a brief discussion about his upcoming projects, but what ended up happening was a close to hour long conversation about creativity and the state of music. I left feeling the opposite of disappointed… sure I was like 30 minutes late to my next thing but the topics we discussed was something I felt needed to be expressed. So instead of a carefully edited, introspective piece from me that took days to organize and edit down, below you’ll find an honest conversation between myself and a musician who’s very clearly spent a lot of time not only working with others but also thinking about how to work in new ways.
This all came about by the premiere of his stunning music video for “Intentions,” which came out on Symbols last year. You can watch the video below but I highly suggest clicking after the jump to read about Grenier’s multitude of new projects, including ones with Archie Pelago, Eprom & Hejfund, and The Glitch Mob. I’d love to see others’ opinions on the rest of this, perhaps open some insightful discussions.
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On Tuesday Los Angeles based creative genius Jerome LOL released his Deleted/Fool EP on home label Friends of Friends. Having previously released an album on FoF as the now defunct LOL Boys, Jerome’s new EP is his first official solo release. I could throw words around about Jerome being a sort of avant-garde musical and visual curator, or how his aesthetic bleeds originality in its cheeky complexities and colorful simplicities – but that would be selling him short, and missing the point. My lack of ability to really envelop Jerome LOL as an entity is precisely his appeal. The off-kilter balance of this ‘tumblr-era x internet 1.0 x 90′s branding’ visual mish-mash with the delicateness and deeper meaning of Jerome LOLs musical endeavors is in my humble opinion so cleverly curated that I am just consistently in awe. Jerome’s filtering and curating of a dizzying amount of visual and audio influences from everywhere across the spectrum into a concise and branded look and sound is something I’ve always respected. His DJ sets are interesting and fun, his label Body High is a wonderful homage to LA and dance music origins while keeping releases and artists fresh and cool, and his music videos are insanely unique and some of my favorites:
The four-track EP begins with “Deleted,” starts with Jerome’s signature swinging drums, in true-to-form fashion created by an antiquated and distorted piece, the DJX-2. The claps and swing fade as Sara Z’s cool and sensitive vocals come in, with clear cut changes in the cord progressions between each verse carrying the mood. It’s these subtleties in the undertones that reveal the emotional complexities of the track – doubling computer jargon with the destruction of a relationship (“we’re offline, no course of action” “control, escape, command, delete, it’s all in our hands”). The track evolves and grows in almost pop-song format with repeated choruses and verses, a bridge and an outro, which shuts off all the drums just before Sara utters her last line- printing the track in your head.
“Always” continues with the cymbal-heavy, swinging drum patterns, this time lighter in feeling given the faster pattern & more effervescent vocals. The keys in the chorus are touching and warm, and the various inflexions of Sara’s voice on the word “Always” is captivating and soulful. The heavy distortion on the bassline and clanging drums on “Fool” flip the EP from pop-leanings to a much more club/warehouse mindset, until Angelina Lucero’s melancholy and poignant vocals rip you off your shuffling feet and onto the floor. But as the heavy bassline fades, a glockenspiel-sounding bridge comes in before Angelina’s chorus comes in, aided by incredibly pitched-up echoes of her voice carrying each line. The clanging drums and garage moodiness are met by the pitch shifts and “this instrument can never sound sad” use of the glockenspiel – it’s this touch of color in an otherwise entirely depressing track that is a common theme in Jerome’s work. The EP closes with “True”, another considerably moody song from Angelina Lucero’s teethy and slow vocals and sort of rain-down-your-windowpane piano chords that rain so heavily on the track it nearly drowns out her vocals until the very end.
Like with all artists that have developed their own signature patterns and sounds, I see the argument from both sides on Jerome’s heavy use of jazzy/swing drums and pop-oriented progressions: on one side it doesn’t have an grand sense of variety, but on the other it’s clearly a sound and vibe that nobody else is really doing. You can identify a Jerome LOL track from just a few seconds of listening, but because of that the tracks can be considered to start sounding the same. I’m personally more drawn to the ‘Deleted’ half of the EP, which to me is an example of the vibe of work I enjoy most from Jerome; the ‘Fool’ half dives much deeper into a darker side of his music which I simply do not grasp as well – I think that’s a side he’s still sonically developing. But I do have to give props to Jerome for really nailing the structure of his tracks.
You can purchase the EP on Bandcamp HERE or on iTunes HERE:
There’s nothing like a good mind fuck via music video. In this instance, you’re being held captive by the Plastic Mermaids, in which they present to you the story behind their single, “Polaroids.” The song itself is elegant, as weeping piano transports you to a world of heart wrenching reminiscing. The stirring strings add a glimmer of hope, though, to the ballad, as the processional builds into a sweeping orchestral explosion that brings about a more complex understanding of the sorrow. The video itself uses multiple mediums that tell the story behind the tune, in a way that provides clarity to the conflict being conveyed by the vocals.
Symbols artists ATLAS are back with their second official release on Symbols, appropriately titled the “Sophomore Sessions EP.” The atmospheres provided by Atlas are always warm and beautiful, like the soft feeling of spring sun on your skin. Opening with Ashycan, a sweeping tune with an off-kilter drum beat – Atlas sets the mood for the EP but surprises the listener with very different drums and structural patterns on each track. The drums on Monday Beats orient themselves in a more garage direction, and the essence of the earliest moments of a Monday are captured wonderfully, caressed with softness & the ambience of your mind before stress and alertness sets in. California is dripping, aided heavily by the lightest touch of keys, a heavy sprinkle of blips and bloops, and the lovely vocals of Emily Harris. The final track, Glow, drifts the EP off perfectly, with a simple 4/4 pattern and soft melodies.
Overall it’s an EP that’s hard to be mad at, a meditative and tender delve into the softer end of garage and house. I’ve always appreciated Symbols for their ambiance and close connection with the sensual and exciting feelings aroused by oxytocin and seratonin in the brain, and the Sophomore Sessions EP is very true to form for the label.
The music video for “California” off the new EP was released on Atlas’ YouTube yesterday. It’s a beautifully colored and lighthearted video chock full of carefree or internal-thought behaviors, skating, taking in the environment, walking along the beach. Lots of rain & puddles which with this drought is a rarity here in California but a beautiful touch nonetheless. Kinda want to head to Venice Beach and vibe out now….
As we put the cork in the sweet bottle that was 2013, dance music can toast to the New Year after having one of her finest years yet. Dance music has been stuck into the mainstream vein like never before, and the subsequent resurgence to underground sounds have been thriving across the globe. From the deserts to the beaches, festivals both new and old continue to pack sold out audiences, and there are no signs of slowing.
On behalf of the GDD™ collective, we’d like to say thanks for riding along with us. Whether you were with us from the beginning, or have only recently stumbled across our page, we’re honored to share our taste in music with you. We’ve humbly amassed a year’s worth of tunes and tallied up our favorite DJs and producers. This has certainly been the most difficult year for selections due to the awesome amount of great tunes that dropped, which is why most of the categories have expanded. It warms our hearts to see a host of our friends in the running this year, as well as all the fresh faces that broke through with massive years.
We hope that 2013 was a prosperous one for you, and we bid you all a Happy New Year.
LA collective Wedidit (known perhaps best for their work with acts like Shlohmo, RL Grime, and visual artist Sus Boy) have just released a dual-sided EP from new artists to their roster: C.Z. and Arnold. “Das Why” is C.Z.’s track, what I happily am going to dub as “evil runway” thanks to a very amusing Soundcloud comment thread. Tamed horns, repetitive vocaling, squeaks and drips, and the tiniest tinge of 808 cowbell, “Das Why” is dark but still relatively charming, a novel combination that WEDIDIT has made its name in. The other half of the EP, Arthur’s “Plus and Minus” is much more atmospheric, with pitched-up melodic vocals, piano chords, and little additions of triplet-snares. Though the two tracks contain similar elements (cut-up repetitive vocals, toned-down base elements (horns, piano), and little sound trinkets) and thus work well together, they’re very aesthetically different.
Accompanying the release is a music video for the tracks, designed by none-other than WEDIDIT’s own Sus Boy. Sus Boy, however mysterious of an entity he presents himself to be, has been making serious waves in the world of the internet this year, doing everything from designing EP covers to websites to tour visuals to music videos, each time with an perspective that is oft-imitated but somehow all his own.
PURCHASE THE EP: CLICK HERE
Our LA friend Marvel The GR8 just finished a visually killer music video and we’re giving you the exclusive premiere to his new single ‘Mollywood’, directed by Adam Leao (co-creator of the 12th Planet docmentary SMOG CITY). Cut-up like a bad reception, staggered channel, out of focus video reel, the young gun Marvel The GR8 takes us a trippy flow that gives off a Yeezus-meets-Danny Brown vibe. Scope it…
For all you on your cap game, make sure to check out his official store, we’ve been reppin his GR8 emblem hats all year!
Marvel The GR8 on
The longer I’ve known Boys Noize the more I’ve truly began to hone in on exactly how wonderfully awkward the guy really is… from his unibrow to his white pants to his weird instagrams and most recently his totally allovertheplace new EP (BTW you should really click on all those hyperlinks) that goes from Disco to straight up Hardstyle in one fell swoop. Since I pretty much base most of my humor off of awkwardness, obviously das German tekno god ya (that’s Boys Noize, duh) keeps a very close place in my heart.
Speaking of the new EP, although my personal favorite is with the raved-out “Push Em Up” – he’s just dropped the music video for the honorary disco tune of the Go Hard EP, “Starwin”. True to form, Boys Noize keeps it nice and campy with the video, chock full of some pretty tite rollerskate dance routines and (like all moments on the Venice boardwalk) a selection of interesting characters. Keep on keepin it weird, Alex… I and many of us love you for it.
Out now is the latest from Le Castle Vania’s label Always Never Records, an amazing and multi-faceted six track EP from Miami based producers SLDGHMR. I’m really impressed – there’s not a whole lot of young American producers that have finesse and versatility in delivering an EP that progresses from barreling techno to indie/nu-disco type stylings whilst maintaining a sound true to their artistry.