Hey Hey Hey live music fans! Performer is stoked to be presenting the AMAZEBALLS Tumbleweed Wanderers show this Saturday, November 30th at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
Oakland’s Tumbleweed Wanderers combine soul, folk, and rock and roll to create a hugely dynamic musical experience. They weave through their shows with smooth transitions, bringing the listener from dark chaotic banjo-rock, through intimate acoustic harmonies, to energetic explosions of soul.
Want tix? Of course you do, and we’ve got the hookup. Just leave a comment below and we’ll pick one lucky winner to win a crisp pair of tickets which will be waiting for you and your guest at the door. How’s that for a Thanksgiving treat?
New York-based indie rock quartet Ula Ruth is gearing up to release their new EP Restless Nights on January 14, 2014. Excitement is already building for the release and we’ve got the EXCLUSIVE video premiere right here at Performer.
According to the band,”There’s a lot of videos out there that show people getting burned in relationships. In our video we wanted to show revenge. It’s very uncomfortable to watch someone go completely insane. We’ve all felt like this, but our character actually goes through with it.”
“I’m not very interested in singing about myself,” says Owen Ashworth, the humble songwriter behind Advance Base. Often using the first person narrator to paint a scene or explore characters, Ashworth approaches songwriting more like an old time folk storyteller than a modern singer-songwriter. “I know that it’s natural to assume that the person singing a song is singing about themselves, and I don’t mind that, but when I’m singing one of my songs, I’m picturing the characters in the songs, and most of the time, they are people I made up, even if they aren’t all that different than me,” says Ashworth.
In an age when most songwriters focus on self-exploration, his style of songwriting seems slightly antiquated. But where one might expect sparse acoustic guitars to accompany this approach, most of Ashworth’s music uses keyboards, vintage electric pianos, and drum machines. This unlikely pairing of folk storytelling and minimalist electro pop is what makes his music so intriguing and so hard to pin down.
Ashworth made a name for himself with his previous moniker, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (CFTPA), a synth pop project that started in 1997 while he was taking an Intro to Piano class in college and borrowed a battery-powered Yamaha keyboard from his brother to practice scales on. He instantly fell in love with the keyboard’s presets and started making songs of his own. “A slow rock beat and a few drony organ chords sounded pretty good to me, so I started writing these simple little songs and singing them into a hand-held tape recorder,” Ashworth says.
He made tapes for his friends and, with their encouragement, kept going with it, eventually getting signed to German indie label Tomlab (home of Deerhoof and The Books) in 2001. Early in his career, he realized that CFTPA was, conceptually, a project that wouldn’t last forever and even had the idea for the last CFTPA album – Vs. Children – planned in 2003, six years before its release. When the album finally got released in 2009, he spent a year and a half on the road in support of the album before retiring the CFTPA name, and all the songs that went with it, for good in 2010.
The Advance Base project started while making beats for Chicago rapper, Serengeti. The name had been used for his home recording studio since 2006, but the 2011 Serengeti album was his first time he’d been credited under the moniker and the name became the default for everything to come after. The switch to Advance Base could easily be seen as just a new name, since Ashworth makes music that is so distinctly his own. “I don’t know how to describe what it is, really, but for better or worse, I can’t seem to shake whatever it is that makes one of my songs sound like one of my songs,” Ashworth says. But the project does have definite differences from his previous work in CFTPA – a vintage Rhodes electric piano takes the lead role in most of the songs, the tempos are generally slower, the characters and themes slightly altered.
“I have a wife and a kid, and more of my writing deals with family relationships these days, as opposed to the heartbroken love songs that I wrote as a younger man,” Ashworth says. The changes have made the critics take his music more seriously, with his 2012 debut, A Shut In’s Prayer, getting praise across the board and making #19 on MOJO Magazine Best Albums of 2012. Everyone seemed to call it a “more mature” effort, which could be seen as comical given the innate similarities, but Ashworth understands the critics’ interpretation, “The older I get, the more nostalgic my songwriting seems to get, and I think there’s something more mature-seeming about singing about memories,” he says. A subtle, but striking, change is that while CFTPA were mainly stories of the city, a pastoral backdrop has taken over many of the Advance Base songs. It seems fitting then that he would reinterpret an artist from the largely rural, character song-driven, folk blues of the 1920s and 30s.
The gospel folk blues of Washington Phillips has long been revered as a marvelous curiosity among folk music enthusiasts. Using only a zither-like instrument that many scholars are convinced was homemade, Phillips recorded only 18 songs, 16 of which survive today. The attraction is more than just an early example of DIY ingenuity, though. As Ashworth puts it, “No one else’s music sounds like Washington Phillips’.” Phillips’ one-of-a-kind voice brings the unique sound of his instrument and his spiritual lyrics to an almost ethereal realm. “His voice is completely wonderful and pushes out so much genuine empathy and caring. It’s so intimate and so completely mysterious at the same time,” Ashworth says.
Advance Base’s recent EP, The World is a Bad Fix Everywhere, reinterprets Phillips’ music in a subdued fashion that pays tribute more than it reinvents. Its five songs mainly use an autoharp, a Rhodes electric piano, and a drum machine to retell these old stories, creating a curious dichotomy – while incorporating electronic sounds into these folk songs, he’s also using instruments old enough to be considered vintage. A combination that makes the album exist somewhere outside of time, not clearly of any era. Which seems a proper tribute to Phillips’ otherworldly music; music that was recorded in the late 1920s, but was largely unknown until it was collected and re-released in the early 2000s.
While not a religious person, Ashworth is compelled by the relationships people have to religion and connects to gospel music as a songwriter, “I find there is a lot of very relatable emotion and struggle happening in those songs,” Ashworth says. The EP started with Ashworth teaching himself to play the well-known Washington Phillips song, “Mother’s Last Word To Her Son.” He says, “There’s so much to the relationship of that son and his mother and her religion. I can’t listen to that song without wondering about those people and what happened to them.” The project is also the result of his recent writer’s block. “I’ve chosen a really ambitious kind of over-arching narrative for my next album. It’s just one big story and it’s taking forever to put all of the pieces together,” Ashworth says, “For now, I’m stuck…so I’ve been recording a lot of covers, just to keep the engine going.”
While the much-anticipated follow-up to A Shut In’s Prayer might be a ways away, he’s not letting it slow him down. Currently on tour in Europe and with The World is a Bad Fix Everywhere just released in June, another EP, Our Cat, came out at the end of July. Our Cat is a perfect example of Ashworth’s unabashed love of the mundane. “Small details and tangible things are a sneaky way into people’s lives, and I want songs to feel real,” Ashworth says. Ashworth takes on little moments with an almost literary zeal and has documented many moments of life that have previously gone unacknowledged in song.
He’s sung about a confessional letter blowing down the street, walking home in the snow after missing the bus, and killing time while waiting for a car to get fixed. Now he turns his lens on the story of a cat that gets lost and (spoiler alert) eventually gets found. In another songwriter’s hands, these kinds of songs might come off as shallow or dull, but Ashworth has a way of making these moments shine in a fashion that’s more akin to a short story author than a songwriter. “I work to make the songs feel as intimate and relatable as I can manage, because those are the kinds of songs that I like to listen to. Some people like big songs, some people like little songs,” he says, “If you want to hear a song about world peace, you can listen to a Coldplay record. For lost cats or keys, you can listen to Advance Base.”
There’s a saying in the startup world by founder Marc Barros of Contour Cameras: “The best product does not always win, the product everyone knows about does.”
I often repeat this when I speak at music business gatherings because I think it’s so analogous to our industry. This is why “My Humps” was a Top 5 song in the U.S. and track three on your latest CD is not. That’s harsh, I know. So, how do you get everyone to know about your music? In short, the answer is, and has always been, distribution. But what does that mean today?
There are plenty of companies that will distribute your music to online platforms for sale or streaming. You can even do this yourself with a little research and motivation. Simply having your music “available” is the old definition of distribution; being on iTunes or Spotify does not necessarily drive sales, increase fans, or lead to licensing. But, being on YouTube can. What’s more, if it’s done right, you can generate revenue, gain fans, and cultivate channel partners all by just “distributing” your music on YouTube.
With that in mind, this month we’re focusing on ONErpm, a leading digital music distributor. What separates them from the pack – and why I think you should know about them – is their growing YouTube Network partnership. I spoke with ONErpm’s CEO, Emmanuel Zunz. We discussed his company’s vision of the music industry landscape, and their newly launched YouTube elevated networks program.
You run a global company; what kind of trends or changes in the music business do you see?
Yes, it really is a different story everywhere. We have been primarily active in Latin America and Brazil. For instance, in Sao Paulo, iTunes is relatively new (launched in December 2011) and not that big. Social media is the primary driver of music discovery in Brazil, and YouTube is a huge driver of it.
I know ONErpm is listed as a distribution company, but it seems you are more in the service area with widgets, Facebook sales, and now the YouTube Partner program. How do you see your company?
I think we started as distribution, then moved into services with direct-to-fan, and now we are a pushing partnerships, or a combination of all our offerings. We look at this as an opportunity to help artists, no matter where they are in their career. We offer free distribution packages, fair royalties, and low pricing to make it simple. But we also work with bigger artists and labels, so we want to make sure we’re offering value to everyone.
Let’s get into the YouTube Partnership, how long have you been doing it, and how effective for artists has it been?
We started it in January and it is already a big part of our business. Our YouTube Network already has 100 million plus views monthly and is growing rapidly. Results have been encouraging for those artists using our YouTube Premium Partnership. On average, the company has been able to more than double the revenue of what our artists earned as a Standard YouTube Partner – which is our free service.
So, you’re proving that YouTube can be a great place to distribute music to fans, and also make money doing it.
Oh yeah. YouTube is by far the biggest and most popular destination for music on the web. Period. Through Content ID, YouTube has given control back to the rightful content owners enabling them to earn significant income. Our goal is to find artists who are serious about their careers and music, and then partner with them to maximize that potential and grow their business.
How do our readers get involved with ONErpm YouTube Partner Program?
To participate in our Standard YouTube partner program, artists simply upload their music at no cost, and we deliver the audio files to YouTube with the correct copyright information. YouTube then scans its site for any videos using that work and then generates a claim for each video so artists can start earning advertising revenue. Artists have a dashboard so that they can see where and how their music is performing. Additionally, ONErpm’s elevated Network of Channels option offers several added benefits: a premium percentage share of advertising revenue, Content ID for videos (which is more lucrative than audio alone), cross-channel promotion to expand views, and a greater selection of ads with higher CPMs that run against the videos. ONErpm keeps only 30% of royalties it collects and directly pays the artist 70%; we think that’s a good pretty good deal.
Like outlaws, The Goodnight Darlings shot their newest music video (“July) in the same wild desert backdrop as the movies “No Country for Old Men” and the 1950s classic “Giant.” After touring their way down south, playing 13 shows culminating at SXSW – they took an exploration drive further west to the Marfa, TX desert.
They sped through pitch black desolate land under a legendary night sky. The stars seem to swim in mysterious order. The phenomena is called “The Marfa Lights.” And as Marfa approaches, the town lights rise from the horizon like strange UFOs in the distance..
When you arrive, it’s advised to shine your blue flashlight to warn yourself against the scorpion tails that could be at your feet.
They spent the rest of a late night at The Hotel Paisano, in the same room James Dean stayed in when he starred in the movie “Giant” with Elizabeth Taylor.
The opening image in the “JULY” video, you find Kat waking up in Dean’s room, switching on a retro radio with curlers in her hair. The shot was done quickly before check-out.
This was only the beginning of a magical day-long video shoot, equipped with just two iPhones, a guitar, a Mustang convertible, and Marfa (seemingly to themselves). The musicians filmed each other using one iPhone to record, and the other to play the song – the footage filtered through their favorite 8mm app, which had the right vintage grain and nostalgia for this beautiful place.
Locations include vistas of train tracks and tumbleweed, an abandoned gas station, classic cars, and even a PRADA sculpture. PRADA is also a fan of this visually stunning area. In 2005, they designed a sculpture of an abandoned Prada store, full of shoes and purses, behind a storefront of glass- with no working door.
Note** All dusty-stunt-driving was done by the band.
**Amazing Skull Dress done by Australian label, Premonition Designs
**Special Effects done by Austin, TX local artist Zero Libertad
Montreal-based folk pop violinist Eliza Moore has traveled the world playing everywhere from street corners to opera houses. She was classically trained by composers in Boston and London and has recorded albums with acclaimed musicians like Deron Johnson (Miles Davis) and Michael Valerio (film scores for Sin City, The Hurt Locker).
After taking some time to treasure thejoy of becoming a mother, Moore returns to the spotlight to exhibit “stately presence and crystalline delivery” (Boston Globe) on her new album Everything to Me.
With influences ranging from the Irish landscape to early choral music to the triumphant sounds of Arcade Fire and Sigur Ros, Moore has an old world style with a new twist.
Teaming up with sagely songsmith/producer Jay Nash, Moore achieves an exposed and authentic sound on Everything to Me that offers the most intimate experience of her “lovely, strong voice” (Portland Press Herald). From the intertwining melodies of “Everything to Me” to the dirty punk rock fiddling on “Humanity”, the songs on the album represent different facets of Moore’s faith in life, humanity, and love.
2013 has been an exciting year for Moore as she joined Jay Nash on an east coast tour, and fall 2013 will bring more solo dates.
It’s been a busy week for Auckland’s Ghost Wave. On the heels of the release of their “Bootlegs” video earlier this week, they now reveal the video for their third single “Country Rider.” The Fader says of the band, “Somewhere between garage rock and the best sounds of ’60s British pop, Kiwi (by way of Auckland) outfit Ghost Wave bangs out jangly tunes made for good company.”
The video was filmed and directed by Jacob Perkins of Ready Steady Shoot.
Flying Nun Records (The Clean, The Bats, The Chills) will release the band’s debut LP, Ages, on August 27th in the U.S.. Ages is the first new release since Flying Nun announced their partnership with Captured Tracks in America.
Ghost Wave will return to the U.S. in October for a full tour including performances at the Culture Collide Festival in Los Angeles and the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City. Dates will be announced soon.
One Way was formed in 1979 in Detroit, Michigan as the newer incarnation of a band originally known as Soul Partners. They first recorded as “Al Hudson and the Partners”, scoring an R&B hit on the ABC label called “You Can Do It” in 1979.
They scored three Top 10 U.S. R&B chart hits, with the biggest being “Cutie Pie,” which reached number four in 1982.
As NYC-based singer-songwriter David Bronson completes work on The Long Lost, the second half of a 22-song, two-album collection titled “The Long Lost Story,” he is also closing in on completing a video for each track from the Story album, released earlier this year. Previous videos from Story have been variously featured by Under The Radar, Baeblemusic, My Old Kentucky Blog, and others, and now Bronson is offering up the video for “Us,” the album’s most ambitious clip to date.
“I met choreographer Genevieve Ferron after deciding that a two-person dance would make a great video for this song,” Bronson explains. The beautiful result features the performances of Joannie Douville and Milan Panet-Gigon as directed by Ferron, cinematographer Pier-Luc Latulippe and editor Joshua Sandler.
Of the song, Bronson says, “’Us’ is kind of a crucible to me in that there was a kind of sound I was building towards in my writing, and with ‘Us,’ I remember feeling instantly that this was a special point in my development as a writer.” Bronson believes the song represents the heart of the two records that comprise “The Long Lost Story,” explaining that “It deals with some of the most central themes of the project: severance, isolation, history, and ultimately accountability, forgiveness, and hope.” David Bronson’s Story is out now. The second album in the cycle, The Long Lost, is scheduled for release on September 17th.
In addition to his solo work, Bronson also composes instrumental, ambient soundscapes for filmmaker Jennifer Elster’s “In The Woods,” which is the first installment ofElster’s film series entitled “The Being Experience.” The project is an unflinching look at existence, featuring a cast of actors, thinkers, and musicians including Dave Matthews, Moby, Questlove, Rufus Wainwright, and Yoko Ono among many others.