interview – barrie

– featured image courtesy of the alexa viscius –

after releasing a handful of sharp one-off singles last year, the brooklyn quintet barrie has their sights set on 2019. the band is slated to release their debut full-length, happy to be here, later this spring and recently shared “clovers,” the album’s lead single, an encapsulation of the harmonically-rich collaborative nature barrie’s music tacks towards.

we recently caught up with four of the five members of barrie via e-mail to talk collaborative creative direction, the significance of “clovers” as a lead single, and how individual members’ experiences have shaped happy to be here. check out the transcript, which has been lightly edited for clarity, below.

there’s a bit of ambiguity as to whether barrie is a band or a solo project, which i think is by design. how do you approach integrating your own creative direction with the input and contributions of the other band members?

barrie: we’re figuring it out as we go. everyone in the band is a talented writer and producer in their own right, and has other outlets outside the band. the best way i can think to describe it is we’re running my songs through the filter of this really interesting group of people who have experiences and talents that i don’t. sometimes that plays out through the music (and very much in the live production), and sometimes it’s in ways beyond music, like in the aesthetics or big picture decisions, or who we collaborate with.

although the band now operates out of new york city, each member originally hails from a different part of the globe. can you speak to any individual experiences, musical or otherwise, that were particularly valuable and/or informative to the band as a whole while making this record?

dom: that is a heck of a question. i would say a great thing we did was to play the first set of songs together many times, as for the first few months we were maybe listening to barrie’s demos remotely and coming together was more about meeting and getting a feel for each other. i think that allowed us to imagine what we could each bring to the table.

spurge: almost all of us are on the other side of twenty-five, so we’ve each had our own experiences, in and outside of the music industry, before coming together to start this project. that’s allowed us to have a patience and self-awareness about our band growth and group dynamic that i don’t think is common for new bands. for example, i’ve worked and interned at a few music studios in new york. that experience has taught me about the prevalence of ego in the creative process, sometimes more so than the actual music making. so, we all make sure to always be empathetic and communicative to each other with this in mind.

noah: yeah, everyone in the band is a bit of an old soul type/has been around it all for a while so longevity and sustainability is something that is a constant consideration, both logistically, musically, and emotionally. we want/plan to be around for a long time and make decisions accordingly.

“clovers” is the lead single from happy to be here, and i’m particularly struck by how the synthesizers in its second half juxtapose the piano in its first, how it encapsulates your aesthetic well while leaving other avenues open for exploration. is there anything in particular you’d like to share about the track, its origins, and/or its significance to you collectively as an ensemble?

barrie: i’m happy this is the lead single because it’s one of the songs that was most shaped by others in the band. i made the demo in boston with the original piano and synth sounds, and it was the first song spurge and noah and i worked on together when i moved to new york. spurge and noah added textures and beefed up the synth sounds, and then once we were in studio, noah beefed and polished them even more.

lol, gross.

it captures the “fucked up classic” aesthetic that we’re after. and of course, like most of the songs on the album, dom’s drumming on it, and that takes it to another level.

dom: “clovers” for me is a great indication of how we wanted to push the record beyond basic “pop songwriter” territory – a lot of that is down to (co-producer) jake aron giving a lot of space while keeping control of what was at the core of each track. the middle eight is mega hard to play though, scary.

polish that beef brisket!

noah: one of the major guiding principles behind this project is timelessness. we wanted to fill the record with a ton of easter eggs so there’d be something new to discover with each listen and listeners can consume it on whatever level they prefer. in this song, we mostly achieved that through running the MIDI that barrie had written into a bunch of analog synths, and playing with filters and stuff in real-time to introduce some human variation and create some happy accidents.

happy to be here is out may 3rd via winspear. pre-order the album here.

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.

majetic – “horseback”

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

as justin majetich tilted his axis away from full band arrangements and more towards a singular production style, a name change for his output also felt natural.  shedding the moniker CARE in favor of the slightly altered mononym majetic, the queens-based artist will release his third full-length album, club dread, on november 2nd via winspear.

the album’s lead single, “horseback,” is a jarring, dissonant port of entry into majetic’s after-hours electronic dystopia, the tension palpable in frenetic string arpeggios and haunting vocal samples that precipitate its central melody.  equal parts acerbic and austere with an eerie music video in tow, “horseback” is a subversive anthem, suitable for those who have always observed the dance floor from a distance.  check it out below.

spissy – “radio” b/w “good for me”

– featured image courtesy of anna powell teeter –

spissy, the bloomington duo of ben lumsdaine and aaron denton, have been culling indelible pop songs tinged alternately with psychedelia and americana for a minute now; the band’s self-titled debut full-length landed in march of 2016 while a follow-up extended play, easy mirror, arrived at the top of last year.  after a slight hibernation, spissy have reemerged with “radio” b/w “good for me,” a pair of breezy, saturated singles effortless in their delivery.

“radio,” a synth-driven tour de force propelled by lumsdaine’s drumming and the instantly-recognizable wobble of a wurlitzer, is a perfect vessel for denton’s testament to the familiar and comforting.  the timbre of its outgoing synth solo dovetails nicely with the opening bars of “good for me,” an expansive mid-tempo ballad masquerading as a funk exercise.  as syncopated guitar interjections cascade into a wash of keyboard pads on the song’s refrain, denton wields the title as a hesitant question, gently repeating it as the track fades away.  taken together, the two singles are a cogent presentation of a songwriting duo that has further solidified over the past eighteen months and are hopefully a precursor to forthcoming spissy material.

“radio” b/w “good for me” is out today via winspear.  take a listen to the two tracks below.

major murphy – “strangers”

– featured image courtesy of daniel topete – 

many folks have spent much of the past month bearing witness to an unconscionable, morally bankrupt administrative decision that mandated the separation of families seeking asylum in the united states who cross the border illegally.  as international outcry has surged, renewed scrutiny has been placed on the country’s immigration policies and practices at the southern border in general, especially the role of ICE in enforcing those decisions.

as they so often do during times of cultural upheaval, everyday human beings are identifying organizations committed to curtailing and/or abolishing these policies and are supporting them financially.  three of these everyday human beings include the members of major murphy, the grand rapids outfit who released their excellent debut album, no. 1, earlier this year.  the trio have released a cover of the kinks’ “strangers,” a track they have interpreted as showing solidarity with marginalized groups of people; all proceeds from the release will go to fianza fund, an organization that provides financial relief to migrants detained at the border.

learn more about fianza fund and their mission by clicking the link above; listen to and download major murphy’s take on “strangers” below.

major murphy – “one day”

– featured image courtesy of michael newsted – 

grand rapids trio major murphy are gearing up to release their debut full-length at the end of next month.  the three-piece traffics in a brand of soft rock imbued with the warmth of yesteryear’s am radio compounded by jacob bullard’s harmonic interplay with jackie warren, and all components are on full display throughout their latest single, “one day.”

brassy synth pads envelop bell-like guitar up-strokes and a steady back-beat from the track’s outset, the resulting vessel cooly cruising down a sonic highway before bullard’s lead vocal merges seamlessly into the texture.  the end result is a slightly hazy, understated slice of comfort food, a perfect primer for those just discovering the wonder of major murphy.

no. 1 is out march 30th via winspear.  listen to “one day” below.

barrie – “canyons”

– featured image courtesy of daniel topete –

brooklyn quintet barrie may claim the new york borough as a home base, but the new band is decidedly cosmopolitan; members hail from são paulo and london, as well as various united states locales like boston, baltimore, and upstate new york.  their atmospheric lead single, “canyons,” is a perfect primer for things to come, as restrained verses dovetail into assured, robust refrains, replete with a rubbery bass line that threads through barrie’s irresistible brand of dream pop.

“canyons” is out now via winspear, who will have further material to offer from the band as 2018 progresses.  listen in on barrie’s debut single below.

major murphy – “no. 1”

– featured image courtesy of daniel topete –

grand rapids trio major murphy allowed a glimpse of their then-untitled debut album a couple of months ago with “mary,” a plaintive nostalgic trip through the radio dial of yesteryear.  as 2018 has settled in, the band has begun to further detail said debut album; no. 1 will arrive march 30th via winspear, and its title track has arrived today.

“no. 1” again finds major murphy examining the sheen of 1970s soft rock through their own contemporary lens, the effortless harmonies of jacob bullard and jacki warren swaddling the track.  peer underneath that warm veneer, however, and one will find lyrics dotted with existential crisis, moments of harmonic dissonance, and a fuzzed-out bass line that all work collectively to create an impeccable, dichotomous entity.

listen to “no. 1” below.

major murphy – “mary”

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

for major murphy, the closest analogue to a coast would be the banks of lake michigan, but the grand rapids trio have long dwelt in an auditory enclave decidedly less chilly than the midwest.  as this year draws to a close and they start looking towards the next, the band has shared a sampling of things to come in 2018.

“mary” begins with plaintive keyboard chords before a full-band arrangement kicks in, crackling as if coming across via transistor radio.  the groove is well-defined and the atmosphere decidedly nostalgic as jacob bullard and jacki warren gently harmonize with each other, traversing through a narrative before arriving at an impossibly tender coda, driven by the contours of bullard’s guitar solo.

“mary” is out now via winspear.  get swept away below.

kevin krauter – “reckless”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

kevin krauter plays bass and sings in the bloomington, indiana, dream pop outfit hoops, but he also released a stunning six-song collection, changes, under his given name late last year.  consuming that body of work immediately would be ideal.

while each track on changes holds its own as a singular achievement, it’s “reckless,” the album’s fourth cut, that has received music video treatment.  like the song it accompanies, hugh sherman donkin’s visuals are sparse but impactful; krauter is filmed alone in various parts of an older building – a gymnasium; a stairwell; a loveseat – either playing or miming the various components of “reckless.”  the poignancy of the audio and video truly coalesce in the final moments, with krauter departing as a harmonized piano motif gently drifts off into the ether.

changes is out now via winspear.  watch the clip for “reckless” below.