interview – majetic

– featured image courtesy of chris cox –

justin majetich shed his full band and the last letter of his surname in pursuit of his newest album.  club dread features a streamlined palette and a renewed ambition, becoming a vessel to explore the fractured intricacies of life through a dissonant, electronic lens.

after the acerbic, audio-visual one-two punch of “horseback” and “bloodbrunch,” majetic returns today with “tender ums,” the album’s reflective penultimate cut, its subterranean pulses and acoustic piano motif swirling together towards something bigger, more grandiose.  in its final moments, “tender ums” reaches that summit, all of its components coalescing into a perfect representation of majetic’s raw, soulful interior so often shrouded in stabs of angular synths.

we recently touched base with majetic via e-mail for an intimate glimpse inside the creation of club dread, its transcontinental roots, and the sequential significance of its third and newest single.  check out the transcript, along with the premiere of “tender ums,” below.

club dread is club adjacent.  is this a headspace you’ve occupied for some time or one you specifically found yourself in while writing the songs on this record?

when i moved to new york city in 2015, i suddenly had access to a whole range of underground parties — stuff i’d dreamt of in the midwest but that didn’t really exist for me there.  i’d caught traces of it from friends in detroit, but overall, it was totally new and exciting.  i moved to new york for a musical community i’d expected to find in the live venues, but i guess it was on the dance floor that i first felt a sense of belonging in this city.

so yes, for a while my headspace was club-adjacent – preoccupied with its magic, saturated with the music.  by the time i was writing club dread in 2017, i wasn’t going out as much, but i was absolutely referencing that headspace as i wrote.  i was dipping back into those experiences and re-imagining them for the album world.  i still catch a party now and then and have some really great friends who i met through that community.

both oakland and queens factor into your biography – disparate locations geographically, but perhaps ones with some things in common musically.  are you drawn more to the contrasts or the constants of these two cities?  how did working on the album far from where it was initially conceived affect its direction and outcome?

place heavily informs the work i make.  not only does it shape the album’s atmosphere but it is also personified in the work, almost as a character.  NYC was the place-character in my last record, LUV IN THE RUINS, and i wanted something different this time around.  i was spending a lot of time in oakland with my brother and sister, and naturally, it followed to set the record there.

there’s such a complex spirit to the bay area.  so much tension between the awe-inspiring natural beauty and the extreme human disparity, the promise of progress and the dystopian realities…  all the while, there’s this catastrophic fault-line brooding underfoot and the pacific chewing at the coast, violent and massive, an insatiable conduit of dread.  incorporating the bay as a setting seemed like a powerful way to illustrate both the ecstasy and grief the characters of club dread experience in and around a club stricken with tragedy.

that being said — and i realize i haven’t directly addressed your question — there are traces of NYC in the album.  a lot of the experiences i’m filtering into the record took place here, and it’s where i was living when i wrote most of the lyrics.  still, i don’t think being back in NYC for a bulk of the writing process hindered my ability to access my sense of the bay in any significant way.  i’d taken extensive notes, and honestly, i think place can sometimes be better comprehended from a distance.  or at least, better comprehended for the purpose of art-making – the finite, fallible substance of memory naturally lending a tint of mythology to the thing remembered.

as for the the contrasts and/or constants between oakland and NYC, i mostly think about the former.  to me, they’re sort of inverse of one another: one vast, one claustrophobic; one idealistic, one realistic; one circuitous, one direct.  these sort of things require a more nuanced explanation, but that’s the jist.  as for musical contrasts, i feel like there’s a lot more concern with coolness and cleverness in NYC versus a lot of play and theater in the bay.  but if i’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that any scene is mostly what you make of it.

much of your album is centered around an electronic soundscape, but “tender ums,” which we’re premiering today, counts an acoustic piano among its focal points.  can you speak to the genesis of this track and how it fits into club dread overall?

i was visiting my parents in ohio, where my dad pastors a church.  after service, everyone will head to the fellowship hall and catch up over snacks.  on this given sunday, i slipped back into the sanctuary to play the piano while i waited for my parents to wrap up. that’s where i wrote the theme that plays during the song’s first interlude and also lends shape to the vocal melody.  it felt like something you could loop endlessly.  it was soft and small but carried an emotional weight.  i’m actually just realizing it now, but this sanctuary setting in which the song began is preserved in the “airport chapel” of the song’s opening verse.

anyway, i tucked those four measures away for a few weeks, and then one day tried growing them into a song, along with a phrase i’d pulled from my notes: “the body wasn’t made for this sort of placelessness.”  thirty-six hours later, i had “tender ums,” which is a speed unheard of for me.  it just flowed with uncharacteristic ease.  it was the last song i wrote for club dread, and it felt like recompense for an otherwise meticulous process.

though it’s the penultimate track, i see “tender ums” as the album’s final chapter.  the actual closer, “club dread,” looks back over the record in a way, encompassing the events, characters, and themes – a spiritual conclusion.  but “tender ums” sees the speaker at the chronological end, as they make their departure from the bay (airplane imagery a bookend with similar imagery in the first lines of album-opener “chewing tabs”).

it’s perhaps the record’s most vulnerable moment, but still i find a quiet triumph in the song.  take the line, “waking to a kinder sadness….”  those who’ve experienced grief subside might relate to a moment when one first feels the heaviness shift.  it’s the tiniest movement but, nevertheless, a notion of a world beyond grief.  you understand that life can recover, even if you don’t understand how.  that’s the moment from which the song is sung, and i believe it’s a crucial expression of hope in an album frequently given to despair.

club dread arrives november 2nd via winspear.  take a listen to its third single, “tender ums,” out now on spotify and premiering below on the dimestore.

premiere – two meters

– featured image courtesy of margo dellaquila – 

tyler costolo ventured into the realm of home recording at the top of 2017, armed with a guitar, a voice, and a bevy of deeply personal, confessional lyrics.  as two meters, the boca raton native has honed sentiments of loss and sorrow into a precise vessel, one that takes the shape of a five-track extended play due later this year.

making a lasting impression is “left behind,” the stunning debut offering from two meters and his extended play’s opening number.  faint strumming and a muffled voice are the pillars of a prelude filled to the brim with accounts of overwhelming personal loss, costolo intimately recounting the death of his mother and the immediate aftermath.  “left behind” eventually swells into a titanic arrangement supplemented by production from label-mates pastel and get a life, a fuzzed-out cacophony that mirrors the indirect catharsis this song provides.

the self-titled two meters extended play is out june 15th via very jazzed.  listen to “left behind,” premiering right here on the dimestore, below.

premiere – lawn

– featured image courtesy of amelia anderson – 

the new orleans duo lawn traffics in a brand of jangle-pop that harkens back to the genre’s inaugural days: bright, chiming guitar parts layered over vocal harmonies that seemingly burst from nowhere.  mac folger and ruy de magalhaes are slated to release their debut full-length, blood on the tracks, as lawn on may 11th via forged artifacts; the folger-centric lead single, “2000 boy,” arrived last month, and today sees the release of the album’s title track.

“blood on the tracks” finds de magalhaes at the helm, navigating this mid-tempo number through to the sublime gang-vocal deliverance of its titular hook.  although compact in stature, “blood on the tracks” is incredibly potent, a combination of de magalhaes’ commanding lead vocal and folger’s instant-classic off-kilter guitar break in between the second and third chorus.

for those still looking to experience the thrilling dichotomy of lawn’s songwriting duo for the first time, run “2000 boy” and “blood on the tracks” back to back.  the latter is premiering today, right here on the dimestore.  dig in.

premiere – walrus ghost & max frankl

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

max frankl and christian banks had a chance encounter a half-decade ago in new york, one that sowed the seeds for a collaborative project.  after admiring each other’s work from a distance, the zurich-based frankl and banks – who records under the moniker walrus ghost – have linked up for avenues and remembrances, a compact collection of eight songs due out april 13th via seattle’s hush hush records.

nestled at the tail end of the album is its penultimate cut, “downing still life.”  just over two minutes in length, the track captures a guitar loop in its final stages of tape degradation, a pronounced, unsteady warble permeating throughout its progression.  “downing still life” is simple in presentation yet leaves a wistful, long-lasting impression indicative of what the duo achieve across avenues and remembrances.

we’re thrilled and humbled to premiere “downing still life” here today on the dimestore.  take a few laps around the track below.

premiere – tica douglas

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

nestled among this year’s shortlist of outstanding releases is tica douglas’ our lady star of the sea, help and protect us.  the album’s eleven songs are dotted with characters and stories born out of douglas’ time purusing their master’s degree in divinity from union theological seminary; at times sparse and at others cacophonous, our lady star and its contents should be unpacked over time with the utmost care.

at the center of our lady star lies “weightless,” a song about release, the lifting of burdens.  the resounding catharsis is almost palpable once douglas arrives at the hook, their lead vocal toggling between the phrase “weight lift” and the song’s title as hesitant arpeggios further compound its melancholic buoyancy.

perhaps it’s fitting, then, that the new music video accompanying “weightless” seems so preoccupied with the concept of floating.  director gracie pizzo aligns molds of slow-moving aerial footage to douglas’ verses and chorus; as more abstract imagery begins to drift by, douglas can be glimpsed taking it all in, transfixed by a fleeting instance of beauty analogous to the lyrical themes they explore.

our lady star of the sea, help and protect us is out now via team love records.  watch the gorgeous visuals for “weightless,” premiering right here on the dimestore, below.

premiere – vivian fantasy

– featured image courtesy of bee cardoso –

the kaleidoscopic expanse of vivian fantasy wouldn’t be a bad place to spend the rest of eternity.  danny bozella’s output under this moniker is measured and polychromatic, a collage of shoegaze and electronica swirled with accents of pop.  on november 17th, the richmond, virginia, artist will release his latest ep, deep. honey., via seattle’s hush hush records.

bozella constructs songs either from the results of weekly self-imposed ambient exercises or from an initial loop; deep. honey.’s title track could stem from either process, but seems to hinge on a bleary-eyed motif that sometimes burrows deep into the song’s pillowy texture.  sitting more prominently in the mix is bozella’s lead vocal, its delivery a delightful newfound comfort that spurned the creation of “deep. honey.”

says bozella, “that excitement put me in a headspace where i just had the desire to make something more urgent-sounding and emotive.  it was actually one of the first tracks in a long time where i really surprised myself.”  and what a gorgeous boost of confidence it is; “deep. honey.” oscillates between hazy ruminations and a persistent four-on-the-floor pulse, bozella’s pleading vocal melody the main constant.

“deep. honey.” premieres right here on the dimestore.  get lost in the vibrant soundscape that is vivian fantasy below.

premiere – stanley

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

ryan gebhardt recently began crafting a singular songwriting persona under the mononym stanley, sculpting a warm, lived-in iteration of guitar pop perfect for the changing seasons.  though the public unveiling of this project aligns rather nicely with his relocation to minneapolis, gebhardt actually wrote and recorded his self-titled debut full length in various locations on the east coast.

perhaps that’s why tracks like album standout “don’t you know i’m alright,” which comes on the heels of previous singles “daylight sun” and “brewin’ up,” feel like a pair of worn-in shoes, a troubadour’s foresight into a cross-country voyage.

at the forefront of most stanley compositions is a tandem force: gebhardt’s easy-going lead vocal and the bleary guitar melodies that meander in and out of the conversation.  “don’t you know i’m alright” is no exception; a mournful slide guitar swoops and slides across the verses before tightening up into a motif that’s as memorable and assured as the titular refrain.  warmth and ennui rarely collide in such a manner.

stanley is out september 22nd via the joint forces of forged artifacts and king forward records.  “don’t you know i’m alright,” the album’s third single, premieres below.  explore.

premiere – himehime

– featured image courtesy of christopher bachmann –

mackenzie simon has been slowly building electronic soundscapes for the past four years as himehime; the seattle-based producer is gearing up to release his stellar new full-length, bath texts, later this month via hush hush records.  after announcing the album and sharing the first part of its title track last week, simon returns today with “contrail,” the album’s opener, which features additional production from seattle’s wmd.

a glitchy, agitated sample stomps through the first minute of “contrail,” but simon sets the track’s defining tone with a gorgeous about-face, pivoting to a serene piano motif that serves as the foundation of the subsequent wide-eyed, ambient expanse.  as the song’s guitar countermelody collides gently into a slow, swelling vocal pad, it becomes apparent that “contrail” is a perfect vessel for afternoon daydreaming.

bath texts arrives august 25th; get lost in “contrail,” which premieres here on the dimestore, below.

premiere – lushloss

– featured image courtesy of brit hansen –

Lushloss is the moniker of seattle-based producer and songwriter olive jun, who will release her debut album, asking/bearing, on july 28th digitally via hush hush records.  it’s a double-record of sorts; the contents of asking allow jun to introspectively sprawl out as a songwriter and vocalist while traversing weightier topics like the intertwining of death, familial relationships, and identity, whereas bearing delves unabashedly into jun’s affinity for balmy instrumental hip-hop.  bearing closes out the project, but its contents actually came first.  the construction of its seven tracks ultimately compelled jun to venture into a more direct, vulnerable aspect of songwriting; asking is the phenomenal end result.

strung throughout asking is a skype conversation jun recorded with her mother, who lives in korea.  the conversation was a prime influence on jun while sculpting the album, and portions of it appear at the end of tracks, codas of sorts that often explore the album’s overarching themes in more explicit details.  such is the case with “sisters,” the third and final single from asking/bearing, which premieres below.

“sisters” feels as intimate as anything else found on asking, jun’s glitchy, pitch-shifted vocals skittering across a warm, sparse soundscape.  the track’s opening moments evoke a gentle plaintiveness and nostalgia intrinsically linked to music boxes; an innocent, consonant motif chimes throughout, occasionally bolstered by a gentle beat that jun guides through the chorus.  as “sisters” reaches its natural apex, jun correspondingly pushes her vocals into the realm of distorted agitation, an aural foreshadowing of the conversation jun and her mother will have soon after.

“‘sisters’ was the first track i started when writing the asking side of the album,” jun says when reached by e-mail.  “i was staying in a hot room in richmond, virginia at this queer diy house called ‘3 moons’ ran by my friends, and i wrote and recorded this there.  it was the summer of 2016 and very hot.”

cassette orders for asking/bearing have already begun shipping from hush hush records.  listen to “sisters” below.

premiere – wealthy relative

– featured image courtesy of justin sengly –

today, forke picks the microphone back up for “sage bundle,” the lead single off of a forthcoming wealthy relative ep and the first in a series of songs scheduled for release every wednesday over the next four weeks.  handling production this time around is the elusive relative newcomer goth fieri, who has likewise spent most of 2016 posting beats to soundcloud when he’s not busy collaborating with other underground electronic artists.

“sage bundle” is predicated on a woozy, cyclical sample – a gravitron coming to a halt on an endless feedback loop, its patrons forever trying to steady themselves.  forke is trying to steady himself, too; a pair of wandering verses seek solace in the cascading arpeggios that eventually saturate the foreground, priming isolated moments of clarity as forke delivers the song’s quixotic, mantra-esque hook.  “sage bundle” premieres on the dimestore, below.  try to find some nicer magic.