Author Archive

Artist Mix

Miles Heizer

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Artist Mixes are an ongoing series of mixtapes curated by some of our favorite musicians.

This month, the Los Angeles-based actor and musician Miles Heizer highlights serene cuts from Miles’ own Autumn / Airhead project, Lai.Lai, and Vashti Bunyan.


Tracklist:

[00:00] • Bilo 503 – “Wynd”
[01:28] • Autumn / Airhead – “Bad”
[03:02] • Bilo x Lai.Lai – “Track 04″
[05:27] • Peach Kelli Pop – “Tucson Song”
[07:18] • Vashti Bunyan – “Diamond Day”
[09:00] • Miles x Amindi K. – “Don’t You (Frost Mashup)”
[10:28] • Lai.Lai – “Longbeach”
[12:20] • Seaweed Salad – “Where Are U”
[13:19] • Rad Reef – “Been Rad”

Residency

Saint Pepsi - Week 1

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Residency is a two-part journal entry brought to you by one of our favorite creatives.

This week, the New York-based artist Ryan DeRobertis, a.k.a. Saint Pepsi, reflects on the transition from summer to fall.


It’s funny to me—and probably nobody else—that I’ve been asked to take over the Residency for September. As coincidence would have it, this happens to be the first September I won’t be going back to school since I started the academic cycle. It’s a monumental moment for me, and I’m honored to usher in a new era of personal ambition with a little writing assignment. This is an ode to September: a month that has proven time and again to be capable of turning the rest of the year on its head. Let’s dance, you bastard.

A lot of people I know have the easiest time channeling and realizing their ambitions during the summer. Unfortunately, it’s not so for me. I’m cosmically inclined to push myself into gear just before the leaves change. Year after year, I let summer pass by in a blur and vow to pay it more attention the next time it rolls around.

I would usually realize this a few weeks into August, putting me in peak position to set goals for the school year as a form of redemption. The short term goals were the most successful, and I was starting to get good at just “doing things” by my senior year of high school.

The next summer was plagued and I spent the first month at BC scared close to shitless, trying to blend in so people wouldn’t talk to me because I didn’t know what I would say. The only thing I ever thought made me sound interesting was that I “made music” and I never knew where to turn the conversation from there. I developed a fuck-you mentality really quickly and spent the rest of my year evading interaction and longing to return to a place where I felt more comfortable. It took a shitty semester away from home to snap me back into reality, and I spent the second semester of freshman year happier and around more people.

I had mono for two weeks the next summer, right at the end of August. Literally up to the last day of summer. As in, I couldn’t see anybody until the day before I moved back to Boston. So that semester was doomed to fail from the start. And last summer served as a similarly transitional period, in that I had disgracefully left college and came back home to attend an audio school for a semester. That’s about as much time as I’m willing to spend on those two years. Enough dwelling.

As the school year rears its necessarily ugly head, I’m feeling more fortunate than ever that I have an opportunity to live my dream. Currently it’s hard to imagine a time where I didn’t think it was possible, but the fact of the matter is I never thought it was. And now to be in these circumstances where I’m being encouraged to create by people here and there, all over the world—it makes me want to give up sleep for the rest of the year. The goals I’ve set for myself, whether artistic or personal (though I often have trouble distinguishing between the two), seem more tangible now than they did at any other point in my life. Now I just have to get myself into shape to see them through. I’m excited to return to Residency at the end of the month, having been to new places, with new people. Hopefully I’ll have learned something about myself, but it won’t mean anything to me unless I can put it to use. Here’s to more days of labor.

With love,
Ryan

Residency

Yohuna - Week 2

Residency-Yohuna2

Residency is a two-part journal entry brought to you by one of our favorite creatives.

This week, the Berlin via Eau Claire artist Yohuna talks about her time in Germany and her friend and collaborator who will soon join her there.


I wrote it on a post-it and stuck it to the wall in front of my desk: “I am exactly where I want to be.” It’s for remembering three times a day, once for failures like taking the U-Bahn in the wrong direction and twice for victories like having a conversation in broken German or giving a tourist directions. The note sticks in the middle of two others: the first, “Express gratitude. Appreciation becomes happiness.” The last, “Access trauma. Revisit past. Trust is courageous. Love is brave.” I read them to Addie over video chat and watch her laugh into her coffee cup (the sun is streaming into her window in Eau Claire; it is setting in Berlin). She reads me her own reminders pinned to a corkboard. They are nearly identical.

That’s why we’re bandmates, best friends. She just bought a one-way ticket to Berlin, and we spend the rest of the chat planning what hasn’t happened yet: waking up and making breakfast in the same place, conjugating German verbs together, drinking beer next to the canal, sharing clothes, and most of all, playing music. Our friendship features heavy geographical difference; we’ve only written one song together and it was over Skype. Still, she plays on my live set when we’re in the same place, and we’re always sending demos back and forth, giving feedback or recording parts. I should mention that not only are the songs she writes herself entirely devastating, but also, in coming to Germany, she’s foregoing her positioning in one of the hardest working and most notable bands from our pocket of the Midwest. She’ll arrive off the tail end of a month-long North American tour in mid-September.

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A lot has been written about Berlin, which makes anything on the subject hard to write. This will parallel the romanticized trope: History feels alive in Germany’s capital city, the second largest in the EU, which is filled with war memorials and a still palpable difference walking between East and West districts since the fall of The Wall. Considering its deep and reactive underground, from cabaret to techno and everything in between, it’s a city that people dream of moving to—“ever since I was a little girl,” the British mother of a girl I babysit for told me. This place knows that art is a social practice.

I never gave Berlin a thought, due to oblivion more than anything, which might make it funny that I ended up here. It’s my fifth month, the second since being granted a two-year artist’s visa. Building a portfolio to defend and legitimize writing very personal songs coupled with the notorious German bureaucracy was a process. Another paradox, too, is that I had no reason for moving to Berlin aside from a handful of inviting experiences traveling through, and yet it’s been the most intentional decision I’ve made. There is power in knowing that nothing brought me here but me.

So Berlin could have been anywhere, but walking around a city with a language I don’t understand is at least immediately helpful for really listening to personal desire. I was post-grad, post-breakup (read: confused) and threw myself into the hustle that is finding work, an apartment, an instrument, and a supportive community. It is hustle, luck, and something else—I acknowledge that a lot of privilege comes with performing; I met my first friends, and then opportunities, because they had written about my music on their blog.

And for performers, it seems this place gives and keeps giving. The resources are vast for a couple of reasons. There are simply a lot of artists that move to Berlin and work to grow its infrastructure. Case in point, there’s always cheap gear for sale online, more so than any city I’ve lived in, and whenever I tell someone I’m learning Ableton they eagerly offer to show me around the program like I’m joining their cult. Likewise, the state recognizes culture, and the tourism along with it, as a valuable revenue source. Musicboard Berlin sponsors independent artists’ projects as well as team development endeavors, one of which manifested Music Pool Berlin, an organization that gives artists free consultation and hosts workshops and panels. Much more so than in the US, these spheres, the “artists” and the “professionals,” are not mutually exclusive dichotomies, but blurry and leaking categories. Creative worlds are professional and vice versa. DIY is less of a phenomenon because it’s just not as necessary of a tactic for psychic survival. It is not positive or negative.

I’ve grown to care for Berlin and the ways I’ve continued learning how to care for myself here. Addie will come to Berlin next month. We will make breakfast together, study German, drink beer, share clothes, and write songs in this city. Instead of notes at our desks, we can each remind the other that love is not passive, we are active participants in history, and that self-care is preservation.

Week 1 | Week 2

Residency

Yohuna - Week 1

Residency-Yohuna1

Residency is a two-part journal entry brought to you by one of our favorite creatives.

This week, the Berlin via Eau Claire artist Yohuna describes her nomadic lifestyle and a show she played in her hometown with a rapper called Sayth.


If there’s a theme that’s remained constant for me, it’s displacement. I found comfort in the solitude and adventure of it—new places breed forward momentum. Sharks keep moving. And I’ve been lucky to have a support network to depend on throughout it.

“I never know where you’ll be next.”

It’s because my stepmom was a flight attendant. I’m embarrassed every time I tell some about its perks. “For free? You’re kidding.” I can only do this for another year, those are American Airlines’ terms, and I’ve taken advantage of it. Waiting at airports for a seat to open up has taught me patience.

I think, at 23, my list of homes reads manic. I grew up in Wisconsin and went to college just south of my hometown. The first songs I wrote were the first times I was very lonely, the first time I had moved far away while studying in Albuquerque my sophomore year. I did an internship in Los Angeles the following summer and headed back to Wisconsin to finish my degree. Two years later I lived in Boston before traveling around Europe with Liz Pelly, a Dreamhaus resident turned Silent Barn resident, for two months. When we got back, she moved to New York and I sort of kept going, traveling around North America, back to Europe and a short trip to the Middle East. I was burnt out when moved to Berlin, and I didn’t get on a plane for five months, the longest period in five years.

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I went home last week. If there’s a place that’s remained constant, it’s Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It’s a college town on a river, population 65,000, a place people exhaust the saying “there must be something in the water” to describe how much music is produced there. I was burnt out when I moved away over a year ago too. Sharks keep moving, but we hadn’t moved in a while. I was sick of booking and playing shows no one came to or wanted to pay for, sick of trying to get girls to come out, sick of the small town politics and exclusivity, sick of the lack of all ages space, and then sick of the destructive boozy tone that kept sneaking into the basements week after week.

I had been following what was going on over the past year, seeing more of an infrastructure develop, more spaces pop up—it’s been thoughtfully documented here by Sam Clark of “Wisconsin’s second-tier independent music blog” Dimestore Saints. Still, it seemed like a boys club; all of the house shows were booked by men and there weren’t a lot of women playing. The night before my show at Lake House last week, I sat on its front porch, beer in hand, criticizing that not every place is like this. “No no,” everyone around me insisted, “It’s not like that. We have Adelyn Rose, we have Hannah Hebl.”

One didn’t object: “But how do we change that?” It was Eric Wells, a young rapper who performs as Sayth and an Eau Claire native-returned. He wasn’t around the year I was, but he had messaged me six months earlier, “Just wanted to thank you for helping start the DIT scene in EC…now we have shows every weekend at all kinds of safe, non-ageist spaces.”

Eric had booked the show and was splitting the bill with me. Sloslylove had to drop, so, with just our two acts, Eric proposed we set up together, trade off fifteen minute sets, and end the night djing a half hour each. Only a few hours earlier we had made the Facebook event and uploaded a couple sloppy photo booth pics: (>*+*<) YOHUNA X SAYTH \(–__–)/ LIVING ROOM TAKE0VER. It was last minute, but we knew it was all the notice and promotion our city needed.

The next night, the first to arrive were our moms. While I played they sat on either side of the living room, grounding the mass of bobbing kids—and they were kids, so earnestly young. I saw my mom wipe away some tears. When Eric played everyone shouted along about being gay in unsafe places, the strangeness that is grieving on the internet, unrequited crushes, the power of DIT and condemning what these tactics resist: “Raised in a culture that values art as an audience / A corpse and a bunch of vultures seeking dominance.” He sweated, he jumped, he grabbed my hand and spun me around the living room.

I believe in the intrinsic value of sharing an intimate experience in an intentional space with a group of people. When we live in a world that thinks of music as commodity, anything outside of active rejection and undoing of that system will promote isolation and fear. During my week home I saw Eric demonstrate this rejection over and over again, whether it was approaching strangers to tell them about a show the next weekend or posting a Facebook status praising local rockers Softly, Dear: “In the last 5 days these boys have printed 150 shirts, packaged, burnt and labeled 200 CDs, all 100% by hand.” There’s something to be said here about growing up in a place where it’s hard to find “the balance between feeling real and feeling really cynical,” that this place is every place, as well as always bringing what you learned while you were away back home.

Something is in the water in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It’s a shark and he goes by Sayth.