premiere – teen daze

– featured image courtesy of paulina isaak –

jamison isaak has been recording and releasing music for nearly a decade as teen daze, a moniker he almost hung up a couple of years ago. after taking the last year to breathe and reflect, isaak has approached teen daze in a rejuvenated state of mind, crafting the eight songs that appear on his forthcoming album, bioluminescence, outside of some of the confines that dictated previous efforts.

on “endless light,” the album’s closing number, isaak explores some of that freedom through the vessel of a six-minute enveloping, meditative dance number, its percussive pulses felt more so than heard, its glimmering synth motifs pinballing through glassy soundscapes. we recently caught up with isaak via e-mail to discuss his new album, self-releasing music, and the genesis of “endless light,” which premieres below.

press play on the track and then scroll down for the full transcript, which has been lightly edited for clarity.

2018 seemed like somewhat of a year of recalibration for you, especially with the release of two extended plays under your own name. did you glean anything from the experience of writing and releasing those particular songs that has transferred over into your latest work as teen daze?

it certainly was a year of recalibration. i think i had exhausted a lot (if not all of my) energy over the course of 2017, and i needed to spend a substantial amount of time to regroup, and address some of the things that i had neglected in my busy previous year of touring. this applied to both my creative life, and my personal life, and both were healed immensely by taking the year to refocus.

honestly, when i started writing and recording those releases under my own name, i was ready to move on from teen daze. i thought i had accomplished as much as i could with it. if both themes records were the last thing i were to ever release as teen daze, i would certainly feel like i was going out on a creative highpoint.

but as the year progressed, i was (gently) presented with the idea of doing another teen daze record by my manager, and i’m so glad that she did. i began to take a lot of the sounds i was working with for those releases as jamison isaak, and look at them through a teen daze lens (sorry for so much third person use).

the result is a collage, rather than an album with a clear concept, which felt very stretching for me. i usually like to give myself a theme or a narrative to work within. this album simply doesn’t have one. even the narrative of how it came about isn’t really that endearing, if i’m being honest. and yet, i think it’s my favourite album of mine to date.

you’ve released music on your own label, FLORA, for the past few years now. has taking control of your music’s distribution changed how you approach making and releasing projects?

it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to self-release my music, in huge part to two factors: my fanbase and the team of people i work with.

if it weren’t for the people that continue to listen to, and purchase my music, self-releasing wouldn’t be nearly as beneficial for me.

and if it weren’t for the team of people i work with (my manager – dina young, the people that handle FLORA‘s physical distribution – the business in anacortes, WA, and my digital distributors – believe digital), i wouldn’t have the infrastructure to have self-releasing be a financially viable option.  because i have security in those areas, i feel like i have so much freedom when it comes to what, and how, i release my music.

i don’t really think it’s changed my creative process in any way actually.  i’m thankful to have worked with labels in the past who never pressured me into creating something specific for their agenda.  still, it feels amazing to not be bound by those types of constraints.

we’re premiering “endless light” on the site today; without divulging too much about bioluminescence, can you share a bit about the track’s origins and its place within the album as a whole?

at the risk of sounding cheesy, i have to start by thanking y’all for premiering this song. i feel like you have had my back for a long time, and i love that we can team up in this way!

“endless light” is one of the catalysts for this whole album.  the idea for the song was inspired by the jon hopkins episode of song exploder, actually.  he discusses the idea of creating a collage of single piano notes, panned to different spots, which was meant to create the feeling of having these twinkling notes play all around you.  being surrounded, or enveloped, by the sound.  so the sounds your hearing at the start of the song are my version of this!  the album has a very aquatic feel to it, and i feel like those notes are like drips of water happening around the field of sound.

sequentially, it’s the last song on the album, and i did this because i wanted to leave the listener on a hopeful note, because it feels like a pretty positive song to me. also, my trend has always been to have my albums finish with an ambient/drumless track, and i loved the idea of finishing this one off with a more straight-ahead dance track. there’s plenty of slow, quiet ambient music on the album, but it felt appropriate to end in a place of positivity and energy.

when i think about where i was, creatively and personally, at the end of 2017, and where i am now, “endless light” feels like a great place to end this record, and most likely lead into the next.

bioluminescence is out april 26th via isaak’s own label, FLORA. pre-order a copy here and check out teen daze’s spring tour dates below.

may 16th – abbotsford, BCTBA
may 17th – seattle, WA – central saloon
may 23rd – san francisco, CA – neck of the woods
may 24th – los angeles, CA – el cid
may 30th – toronto, ON – baby g
may 31st – montreal, QC – casa del popolo
june 1st – new york, NY – le poison rouge
june 2nd – washington, D.C. – songbyrd
june 3rd – chicago, IL – empty bottle

teen daze – “spring”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

jamison isaak has spent the past decade recording music, sometimes under the moniker teen daze, sometimes not. his various releases have in turn been dance-oriented, drone-based, or pop-leaning, but the common thread has been the inherent introspectiveness each album or extended play elicits as a whole.

isaak released material under his own name for the first time just last year, turning in a pair of meditative EPs grounded in piano and pedal steel treatments before returning his attention to teen daze with “hidden worlds” in the waning hours of 2018.

with the release of “spring” late last week, the latest incarnation of isaak’s flagship project has come into sharper focus; a worn-in, descending guitar loop is parked in the foreground as complementary elements develop methodically around it, its vernal bloom a snapshot of the purposefulness long woven through teen daze’s output.

“spring” is out now ahead of bioluminescence, due april 26th via isaak’s own label, FLORA. take a listen below.

stadiums & shrines – dreams

– featured image courtesy of victoria masters – 

“album of the fortnight” is an occasional feature that digs into a recent release of note. the articles will run roughly during the middle and at the end of each month, always on a friday; the album or body of work in question will have been released at some point during that two-week span.  this column focuses on art that resonates deeply, on pieces that necessitate more than just a knee-jerk reaction.  next up: a compilation curated by stadiums & shrines.

What is a music blog, anyways?  caught up in a seemingly endless stream of press releases and promotional blasts, sites might adopt a reverse-chronological feed, posting multiple items per day; others may adhere more towards a one-a-day policy (hello); still others may publish more intermittently.  regardless of frequency, this small community is passionate about the craft, making a strong case that discovery and curation by human beings can be much more intimate and impactful than the work done by algorithms.

since 2011, the new york-based stadiums & shrines has drifted away from the daily grind of release cycles in favor of an excellent radio show and multimedia collaborations with beloved musicians.  the result of the latter is dreams, a sprawling compilation powered by visual artist nathaniel whitcomb’s collages and contributions from more than twenty artists.  a project that’s equally auditory, visual, and tactile, the physical release of dreams comes with a gatefold book containing “handmade collages and written vignettes — creative exchanges between musicians and … stadium & shrines,” says the site’s dave sutton in an interview with goldflakepaint.

those collages, assembled from a 1950s book on tourism, each contain images from a specific landmass – usually a country, sometimes a province or a state.  after assembly, sets of collages were delivered to specific artists; the “dreams” were the sonic interpretations that were returned, with sutton and matthew sage then adding a written narrative to the audio-visual product.

s&s dreams

many of the resulting songs can certainly be classified as ambient, but perhaps exploratory is a more thematic adjective; indeed, a handful of contributors selected their collages based on places they were visiting or would travel to soon.  wisps of maria usbeck’s tropical buoyancy swirl around the digital bonus track “mexico,” while the pastoral strains of mutual benefit are very much present in his ruminative “bali.”  while quibbling about genre could certainly occur, it’s clear that dreams did not mandate the sacrifice of an artist’s identity for the sake of a predetermined, prescribed aesthetic.  calling cards at times juxtapose or complement their counterparts, providing the compilation with a lush, three-dimensional palette.

tracks that subsequently appeared on an artist’s own project – teen daze’s “alaska” opens his 2013 full-length glacier, while ricky eat acid’s “algeria” is housed within a longer composition on three love songs – feel re-contextualized and reinvigorated here, a testament to stadiums & shrines’ dedication to sequencing.  of course, dreams also boasts stunning pieces that are brand-new to its release, like yumi zouma’s french excursion and the spanish getaway taken by julie byrne and eric littman.  julia lucille’s “norway” in particular stands out, the inherent and effective sparseness of her arrangements lending itself well to a frosty, nordic REM cycle.

like any seminal compilation, the effects of dreams can be felt in myriad ways.  the physical version of the album is bookended by sea oleena and gem club, two artists whose signals have gone dim over the past few years; hearing “portugal” and “england’s countryside,” respectively, feels akin to the familiarity and comfort that washes over when running into a long-lost friend.  on a larger scale, dreams is an affirmation of the outsized power of human relationships and collaborations, proof that enduring and endearing projects can be cultivated at comparatively glacial speeds.  the change of pace is refreshing.

dreams is out today via the fine folks at cascine.  spend some time with the album in full, streaming below.

listen to a new song from teen daze

teen daze
photo courtesy of the artist

teen daze is prepping his newest full-length, morning world, out august 14th via paper bag records.  as the arrival of the album’s title track last month suggests, the canadian singer-songwriter is dabbling with a more straightforward approach to songwriting, and this sentiment is reflected in his latest single, “along.”  though “along” is more relaxed and contemplative than its predecessor, key pop tenets are still explored and pristinely executed.  subtle vocal layering underscores the prominent lyricism, perhaps teen daze’s most fully-realized effort to date, while soft strings and hesitant guitar warbles trace the song’s melodic contour.  take a listen to “along” below.

listen to a new song from teen daze

teen daze
photo courtesy of the artist

teen daze has been teasing the prospect of a new album for some time now, with detailed accounts of the recording process posted to his website and an excellent ep released in january to serve as a placeholder.  it seems like we’re finally catching wind of what his new cohesive project will entail with “morning world,” a new single that dropped yesterday.  “morning world,” teen daze’s first offering via paper bag records, subtracts most of the ambient haze found on 2013’s glacier and the dance music that permeated a world away in favor of more traditional pop constructs; the results are drum-propelled synth lines with familiar timbres that float along like a lazy cloud through the summer sky.  stream “morning world” below and check out its demo here.

listen to a new song from teen daze

photo courtesy of landon speers

teen daze released his a world away ep back in january, a six-track effort that has served as an adequate place-holder for his impending full-length album.  the ep is slated for a march 18th release in japan via plancha records, and the physical copy will double the content with six bonus tracks.  “lights in the palm trees” is a liquid, pensive cut included amongst the six new songs, and plancha has teased the track in anticipation of the ep’s release overseas.  take a listen to a particularly pastoral incarnation of teen daze below.

teen daze – a world away

the trajectory of teen daze’s relatively short career is exhausting to cover, as his prolific nature and a general curiosity have prompted over a dozen releases in the past four years.  the abbotsford producer truly hit his stride with 2013’s glacier, a monumental album that found him juggling his electronic and ambient ambitions with aplomb.  but his trajectory is by no means linear, and teen daze has proven that he’s inclined to shed certain acquired attributes like live instrumentation if it’s beneficial to his creative intellect.  his newest ep, a world away, is an interesting side-step, one that finds him delving deep into dance music without throwing in the towel on his ambient palate.

boasting six well-developed tracks, a world away flows and technically qualifies as a full-length album despite its rather utilitarian purpose as a tour ep for teen daze’s upcoming stint in europe.  while it’s ultimately a placeholder for his follow-up to glacier, the ep still feels like a cohesive, standalone unit and is anything but hastily prepared.  “reykjavik, january 2015” retains mere minutes of its acoustic piano motif before being swallowed whole by muted drums and persistent synth jabs, perhaps the perfect musical allusion to the duality of teen daze’s musical persona.  the ep’s strongest tracks, “another night” and “than,” feel somewhat indebted to house music despite their occasional chilly moments.  “than” is the longest piece on a world away, clocking in at nearly nine minutes, but any semblance of redundancy disappears once his commanding use and development of polyrhythms in separate drum tracks becomes apparent.

teen daze closes out a world away with “i feel god in the water,” a customary ambient track that has almost become his calling card.  above all else this project has always felt incredibly pensive, and the fact that jamison continues to end his recordings with a placid, stagnant piece is a telling indication of just how intimate his music truly is.  though his next full-length isn’t due until later this year, a world away is still an important juncture in teen daze’s discography and goes beyond the purpose it serves to offer potential insight into his future endeavors.

7.7/10

listen to a new song from teen daze

teen dazeteen daze’s european tour will begin next week, and he’s bringing a brand new ep along with him.  a world away is a six-track effort that serves to bridge the gap between 2013’s glacier and his impending full-length, but it doesn’t feel temporary.  evidence to this claim can be found in “another night,” a liquid-filled muted house anthem that occasionally sputters into moments of ambiance.  it’s the second single lifted from a world away, which is due out in full next tuesday.  take a listen to “another night” below.

most anticipated albums of 2015

2014 is all but in the books, and so we’re naturally turning our intention towards 2015 and all of the music it will potentially bring.  everyone is on the edge of their seats for the new kanye west album, and modest mouse’s first record in eight years should be interesting, but here are ten other acts with music coming out next year that we can’t wait to digest.  read on.

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chvrches – after touring relentlessly for nearly two years behind their excellent debut the bones of what you believe, glaswegian trio chvrches has returned to the drawing board to work on a follow-up.  no word on when that album will show up, but new songs that showed up on the re-worked drive soundtrack and the lorde-curated hunger games: mockingjay – part 1 may be indications of what’s to come.

daughterdaughter – everything that daughter has touched has turned to gold, including a couple of remixes and re-workings of songs off of if you leave with a ten-piece chamber orchestra in tow.  like chvrches, daughter just finished up a pretty extensive tour in support of their excellent debut, and the trio is holed up somewhere overseas working on a follow-up.

deafheaven – “from the kettle onto the coil” was the only offering from deafheaven in 2014, and the song yields absolutely no indication of what their impending new album will sound like.  regardless of the final product, it will be interesting to see what the genre-defying san francisco outfit comes up with on their third try.

elvis depressedly – we were supposed to hear new alhambra before this year was over, but mat cothran and company chose to sign with run for cover records to allow for wider dissemination of the record, among other things.  elvis depressedly’s much-anticipated new album will be out sometime in the spring of 2015, and we have the excellent “no more sad songs (n.m.s.s.)” to tide us over for the time being.

frank ocean – frank ocean’s follow-up to 2012’s channel orange was purported to be done this past april, then it was due out sometime this past summer; now, who knows.  ocean did release a snippet of a new song called “memrise” last month, enough to set the internet on fire, but there’s still no concrete release date for his new album.  then again, dropping something completely unannounced seems right up his alley.

james blake – james blake’s third album is reportedly seventy percent complete and should see a release sometime in the spring of 2015.  blake has been quietly building anticipation, teasing the prospect of collaborations with justin vernon and kanye west along with releasing a short ep entitled 200 press.  expect a single sometime early next year to dictate the aesthetic of the impending album.

kendrick lamar – kendrick delivered some promising material in 2014 but failed to provide what everyone wanted: the follow-up to good kid, m.a.a.d city.  his new single, “i,” seemed to indicate a departure from the grim undertones of his masterful 2012 concept album, but the untitled track lamar revealed on the colbert report swiftly contradicted that notion and leaves the tone of his new record completely up in the air.  but who knows when that will surface.

panda bear –  noah lennox is releasing his fifth solo album, panda bear meets the grim reaper, on january 13th via his new home, domino records.  the world always seems game for a new panda bear record, and it’s been about four years since lennox has delivered.  armed with the strong singles “mr. noah” and “boys latin,” grim reaper is poised to be one of the early standouts of 2015.

teen dazeteen daze – if all goes to plan, we’ll be able to hear not one but two new projects from teen daze in 2015.  he recorded the follow-up to his 2013 magnum opus glacier in san francisco this fall, and he’s also slated to release a placeholder ep entitled a world away for his european tour this winter.

their/they’re/there – this chicago trio is kind of like a birthday cake: the individual ingredients might not be significantly appetizing, but the sum of all its parts is quite desirable.  their/they’re/there released a pair of eps in 2013 that hinged largely on the impeccable guitar work of matthew frank, and rumor has it that they’ll offer forth a full-length sometime next year.

listen to a new song from teen daze

teen daze released his stunning, poignant album glacier late last year, snippets of which you’ve undoubtedly heard floating around in mixtapes on this site for quite some time now.  after letting go of the excellent tour ep paradiso this past spring, the man behind teen daze took some much-deserved time off before trekking down to tiny telephone in san francisco this fall to record the follow-up to glacier.  while details about that album still remain scarce, an entirely different project has come to fruition.  teen daze has announced a european tour in january, and he’ll chart his course with a new ep in hand.  a world away isn’t set to drop until january 13th – the day before his first show in helsinki – but teen daze has already shared its lead single.  “reykjavik, january 2015” is an imagined timestamp, a six-minute odyssey that blends soft and warm synthesizers with muted drum programming while evoking an accurate sonic portrayal of northern europe in the dead of winter.  while a world away isn’t correlated to the recording sessions he detailed earlier this fall, any new music from teen daze is always welcomed.  take a listen to “reykjavik, january 2015” below, and click through the soundcloud link for a full list of european tour dates.