Author Archive


Mister Lies - Week 1


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

This week, the Brooklyn-based artist Nick Zanca, a.k.a. Mister Lies, reflects on a death in his family.

I’m not exactly sure when my fascination with the concept of death began. Perhaps it was when I was in the sixth grade and I would walk through the graveyard about a mile away from the house I grew up in. Much to the chagrin of my mom, I would waste hours there after school and skim through surnames on the headstones. I used to convince myself that I didn’t believe in ghosts; that I would return there every other afternoon because it was all that the cafeteria of Saxe Middle School wasn’t: tranquil, open-spaced, the pond in the back always resembling glass. I don’t believe that anymore. In retrospect, I realize that I’d always find myself stopping at the graves of those who died young—kneeling to grab their decaying roses and picking off the pedals. It took me a long time to realize that it is within these moments of deep reflection—especially meditating on how a life can come and go so quickly—in which a spirit can surround you.

If you look at the liner notes of the album I’m releasing at the end of the month, you’ll notice I dedicated the record to a Richard Roy who passed away last year. He was my grandfather. I could boast of his many accomplishments: that he was a beloved pediatrician and an avid stained-glass artist; that there is a hockey rink in Rochester, New Hampshire named in his honor—but most crucially to the story I’m about to tell, he restored my belief in ghosts.

The last time I saw him alive was about a week after finishing a long co-headlining tour with Giraffage last year. It was late July, and between a long summer of European and North American tour dates, I was exhausted. I was on the way up to my family’s place in Vermont to sketch out new ideas for the next record. On the way, my mom and I stopped by his retirement home about an hour away from where he grew up in New Hampshire. The last few years of his life came with much suffering, and without going into much detail, it was very clear with that visit that he was on the way out. When we got back in the car, my mom and I were silent. It must have been about ten minutes on the I-89, passing through New England foliage, before we began reminiscing about the man we used to know. He always whistled wherever he went—a one-note sound, always shrill and out of key, but that I still associate with some of my best memories of him. His spirit was kind, energetic and full of love, which only made it more tough to feel it become trapped inside his slowly failing body. I don’t remember what was said on the rest of the trip up, but at some point she said something along the lines of “He’ll come back as a dragonfly.” I wasn’t sure how to respond. It felt like a strange thing to say.

The three weeks that followed were met with some of the worst writer’s block I’ve ever had. I found myself staring at a blank Ableton screen every morning, nothing but tunnelvision. After playing the same set every night for the past nine weeks, I had no idea where to start. Besides, I was hesistant to dive into any idea because I knew that there’d be a funeral I’d have to attend soon. Inspiration was at an all-time low. I was only focused on spending time with my family, celebrating a life.

I woke up to the news on a Friday morning. My mom’s voice on the phone was almost vacant. After I hung up. I made my bed and started packing for New Hampshire to meet up at my aunt’s place and prepare for the service. It rained the whole ride up; I played a Grouper album on repeat as loudly as my speakers could handle. In the late summer, the roads of Vermont are America’s best kept secret—especially driving through a storm. With flowing greys, blues and greens, you feel like you’re traveling through a Miyazaki film. All I could think about was that Richard’s spirit had finally come up for air; that, the scenery and the music was all I needed to get through the bad news.

Early in the morning of the wake I walked with my mother in the parking lot of the funeral home. Right as she put her hand on the door, a dragonfly landed on her hand. It sat there for two minutes. She became incredibly still, tears stuck in her eyes. “Hi, dad,” she whispered.

Mister Lies’ forthcoming sophomore album, Shadow, will be available on October 28th via Orchid Tapes.


Small Wonder - Week 2


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

This week, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Henry Crawford, a.k.a. Small Wonder, talks about his anxiety and a traumatic memory from his past.

make me better. make me strong. make me a Gamelan, every piece set at once, so that all outside influence affects every piece at the same time. let my parts be in tune with the whole

Earlier this week I had a pretty bad anxiety attack, set off by a particularly bad Small Wonder set. Made me feel like the tower of Babel, toppled for it’s own arrogance. I’ve spent the last few days recovering from it. Sometimes I feel good, like when I’m walking my favorite dog at work. Other times I hear someone talk about death and I can feel my heart beat move up my throat until it’s shaking my tongue.

let me be good, let me be loved, let me ease my way through the lonely nights with the memory of those i love

When I was 16 I tried to play off my pre-show panic attacks as an act. I was scared people would think I was wimpy for being scared of the thing I’d devoted my life too. As I’ve grown older I’ve dealt with my depressive nature through distance, usually using stories of my heroes as metaphors in order to distance myself from the people I’m talking to. This succeeds in making me feel safe, but also has prevented me from making any truly close friends since I was 17.

lend me hope, lend me faith, lend me the eyes that see that all things pass into the night

This is the dark that was lifted onto my shoulders by heredity. The same waves of sadness that stop me from getting out of bed in the morning have paralyzed them since I can remember. The shadow that guided my hand through all the glass in my basement when I went through my first real heartbreak is the same shadow that made my dad throw all the pots and pans on the floor when I was 15.

I want to be my heroes, I want to be my friends, I want to be the same day today as I was the day before

When I was small my best friend tried to kill herself. She called me the day after from St. Vincent’s Psych Ward. She told me that she had tried to slit her wrists, sardonically berating herself for “going across the street, rather than down the lane.” After a long conversation I hung up the phone and my mom asked me what was wrong. “Olivia tried to kill herself,” I said and retreated to my room. After a few minutes my Dad came to my room, and silently sat down on my bed next to me. “On my eighteenth birthday my girlfriend jumped off a building and killed herself.” he paused and then put his hand on my back and said, “This kind of thing has always happened, and you’re going to be okay.” He got up and walked out of the room.

show me your love, show me your mercy, show me the road home

I don’t know why I’m writing this. Maybe I wanted to talk about depression in a way that doesn’t feel like some sort of clinical explanation of the real pain that millions of people experience every day. Maybe I’m still mad at the anarchist who told me that depression was a myth created by pharmaceutical companies. Maybe I’m trying to say what I wish the patron saints of artistic sadness (Elliott, Sylvia, Kurt, Virginia) had said to me. Maybe I wanted to tell Olivia, “Even though we haven’t spoken in years, I carry you with me, and I love you, and I’m sorry.” Maybe I just wanted to tell you how I feel.

I don’t know why I need to separate each paragraph with a line of the prayer I’ve been writing all night. Maybe I’m trying to hide the disjointed nature of the way that i think about these things. Maybe I’m scared to show myself without the veneer of poetry. Either way the prayer rings true. One more line.

give me yesterday, give me tomorrow, give me the light that leads out the door into today.

Week 1 | Week 2

Artist Mix

Dustin Wong & Takako Minekawa


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

This month, Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa share their favorite music from around the world.

[00:00] • Naffi Sandwich – “The Scream”
[01:50] • Humpe Humpe – “Yama-ha”
[04:22] • Felicita – “Doves”
[06:53] • Iasos – “The Pipes of Pan”
[08:20] • Lena D’agua – “Tao”
[13:40] • Bozo (Willy Siegel) – “Silk Veil Waterfront”
[15:26] • Saeko Suzuki – “Real (excerpt)”
[18:37] • Mister Matthews – “10 Cuba Libres”
[20:50] • Nerftoss – “Future and Co.”
[24:04] • Hatsune Miku (Matei Dobrescu) – “Anaconda”
[27:27] • Yeongrak – “I’ll never burn more”
[29:07] • Frank Zappa – “G-Spot Tornado”
[32:20] • Daniel Lentz – “Is It Love?”
[41:20] • Beatniks – “Le Sang du Poete”

Their new collaborative album, Savage Imagination, is out now via Thrill Jockey.


Small Wonder - Week 1


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

This week, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Henry Crawford, a.k.a. Small Wonder, talks about Dylan going electric, Paul Simon being miserable on tour, and a letter he has hung over his desk.

I’ve never been much of a writer. When I was small I would curl up in the fetal position and cry whenever a teacher would assign written homework. As I grew older those emotional outbursts transformed into anxiety attacks, much like the one that is making my heart beat faster right now, as I type these words out at my rarely used desk.

I put on Bob Dylan, trying to coax out my better side. I’m reminded of a video I saw once of Joan Baez singing while Bob sits at his typewriter typing out something or other. I’m reminded of Bob Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival. He’s booed off stage. Pete Seeger tries to cut the power cables with an axe. Bob Dylan comes back onstage and plays Mr. Tambourine Man, and after that he famously closes with a symbolic offering to the folk scene who had raised him, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”

I think of the tour I just got home from. I feel like meat. I feel like a clown. I feel like Paul Simon in Homeward Bound;

“tonight I’ll sing my songs again
I’ll play the game and pretend
but all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity
like emptiness in harmony, I need someone to comfort me…”

Paul Simon wrote that on tour. He wrote it waiting for a train in England. They have a plaque on the bench he wrote it on. Imagine that, “Here Paul Simon sat, wishing he was anywhere else.” Isn’t that perfect? A reminder that the poet is forever just the entertainment.

On the other hand, hung above my desk is a letter from someone named Charlie from Baltimore. I don’t know Charlie but they say I helped them through a break-up. They says they’d like to have lunch with me the next time I come through Baltimore. I desperately want to write back. I want to tell them that their letter made me cry, that it made me feel like I deserved to be alive. I want to thank them, but like I said, writing doesn’t come easily to me.

I wish I could live in the world where Charlie is, where music isn’t a thing to drink to, and where movies don’t get talked over. I guess I am in Charlie’s world, it’s just a two-faced one. Charlie makes me remember Henry Crawford at 16. He knows what he wants, he wants to be a Lou Reed, a David Bowie, an artist constantly reinventing himself, damning expectation. He doesn’t know that at 23 he will be so paralyzed by the expectations of others that he’s too scared to change.

I’m thinking of Bob Dylan again. He is in Manchester, England, just a short time after going electric. He comes out onstage with his Stratocaster and is greeted by jeers and boos. “Judas!” someone shouts, reverberating through the hall. Bob turns around to The Band and says, “Play it fucking loud.”

“…strike another match go start anew
and it’s all over now, baby blue.”

Watch Small Wonder perform a live rendition of “Clearly Again” for Portals here.

Monthly Mix

September 2014


Monthly Mixes highlight our favorite tracks of the month in one place.


[00:00] Los Angeles Police Department – “Cave”
[02:20] Foxes in Fiction – “Glow (v079)”
[06:44] High Pop – “The Alter”
[13:45] Olivia Kaplan – “Goddamn, I Miss You”
[18:49] Porches. – “Prism”
[21:32] Homeshake – “Making A Fool of You”
[24:35] TOPS – “Way to be Loved”
[28:44] Rough Year – “Never Been Here”
[33:40] Et Aliae – “White Light” (Johnathon Pablo & Chindamo Remix)
[35:43] Kero Kero Bonito – “My Party” (Bo en Remix)

Illustration by Laurent Hrybyk.