Monthly Archives: November 2011

2011: The Year of the Massive Album Re-issue Boxed Set

Though artists have been re-issuing many of their classic albums for years, 2011 seems to be a tipping point for the lavish boxed set.  Many of these sets are price well over a hundred dollars, and some even well above that.  The Beach Boys’ Complete Smile Sessions runs at $140, The Who’s Quadrophenia Director’s Cut Set costs $127, U2 has a “super deluxe” version that is set at $440, and Nirvana’s Nevermind re-issue is a cool $150.  All of these sets are absurdly priced (though I have to admit I do really want the Super Deluxe version of Achtung Baby which is $300 less than the “uber deluxe” and contains much of the same music). But by far the worst offender in this area is Pink Floyd.  Their “immersion” sets of their classic albums costs are listed as $119, and then you can also get the Discovery Boxed Set which contains all of their studio albums remastered.

To diehard collectors and music obsessives many of these sets might be worth every penny. In the case of Quadrophenia and Achtung Baby the music that is contained within the sets offers demos and working versions of the songs found on the original albums.   On the surface,unreleased material by your favorite artist sounds great especially if said artist has broken up, or dead in the case of Nirvana. It might offer a different perspective on an album you’ve been listening to for a long time.  But listening to some of these songs is more like scholarly work. It’s interesting to go back and listening to classic songs in their archaic versions. But for me, alternate versions are something I usually go back to – the exception being Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, but that’s a whole other issue which I could devote numerous posts to.  For the most part, there’s a reason why the albums and songs were release the way they were.  Case in point – I listened to the original mix of Nevermind on Spotify, and the album as we know it, is far superior.

At what point did the artists say to themselves, “Wow some of this shit isn’t so bad after all?” On the other hand, the lister might also say, “you know what?  Some of this shit isn’t so good after all!  No wonder they kept it to themselves for all these years.”

That being said, I am interested in hear Smile, but I think I’ll stick to the double CD version.

New York’s Black Taxi On Their Forthcoming Album and Energetic Live Shows

BLACK TAXI is a rock band from Brooklyn, NY. Fully formed in 2007, the four-member ensemble consists of Ezra Huleatt (vocals, keys, trumpet), William Longyear Mayo(guitar, vocals), Krisana Soponpong (bass), and Jason Holmes (drums, vocals). BLACK TAXI is recognized for their animated stage performance and a diverse song catalogue, which amassed as a result of the members’ distinct musical backgrounds. Singer Ezra Huleatt started off studying jazz, guitarist William Longyear Mayo was an R&B/Hip Hop session musician, bassist Krisana Soponpong an 80s synth-pop revivalist, and drummer Jason Holmes an orchestral and theatre percussionist. Dance-Punk and Big-Wave dominate the foursome’s Grit-Pop sound, which is highlighted by carnival drums, glockenspiel, trumpet, keyboard and synths, in addition to their core setup of guitar, bass, drums and vocals.

I recently caught up with the band’s Ezra and Bill.  Interview below:

Your new album, We Don’t Know Any Better comes out in January. What’s different about this album than your debut Things of that Nature?

Ezra Huleatt: There was a difference in approach, I guess.  Our first record was recorded on analog tape, and we basically just performed the songs in a room until we got a take we liked.  The tunes had been around for a while, so we pretty much played them as they were, without much experimentation.  The new record, We Don’t Know Any Better, was written specifically with recording in mind.  We left whole sections of songs blank just to be filled in later while we were in the studio.  We’ve discovered how important it is to create while in the studio.  Some of the best moments happen when you discover an unexpected sound that only exists in that moment, some weird feedback occurring, or some obscure instrument that some band left there from the previous session.  When everyone in the room is laughing their asses off because of pure joy of discovering these sounds, you know have a winner.  But all of that said, the new record still sounds authentically like Black Taxi.  We embraced technology a lot more this time around, but we can’t escape our own songwriting.  That’s a good thing.

Your stage show is pretty wild and energetic – designed to get people up and dancing. You seem pretty fearless – with the megaphones, hats, and general presence. Have you guys been playing live for a while?

Bill Mayo:  We were pretty fearless even when we started, even though we sucked.  Maybe we should have been more timid ’cause man, we were awful for a couple years.  The caliber of our sound only started to match the performance around the time we released our first full-length album.  Ever since, things have gotten tighter.  We’ve focused on details that would have never crossed our minds, and we rehearse the hell out of it.  The idea is that once we hit the stage, the details have become second nature and we can just play and enjoy the energy.

Most of your songs seem to be influenced by post-punk bands and there’s definitely some Talking Heads about. Is that a fair assessment – or how would you guys describe your sound?

Bill Mayo:  I only learned what post-punk meant like six months ago.  Turns out I do love those bands like Talking Heads and The Clash, and Gang of Four. But my favorite bands growing up were Nirvana, Primus, Zappa, The Rolling Stones, and Steely Dan. I also listened to a lot of 90’s hip-hop.  My older sister was always listening to Wu Tang, and Biggie so that really rubbed off on me and I have a lot of love for rap.  And my younger sister taught me what it really means to be a singer.  I never paid much attention to vocals until I started jamming with her.  I think I’m more influenced by my friends and family than any artist.  I guess it does come across as a post punk thing.  But I heard it put best the other night – we played a show in Albany and some kid came up and said, “you guys don’t sound like anything, you sound like everything!”  I’m sure he meant that in a good way.  He was dancing like Thom Yorke all night.

You also use the glockenspiel on some of your songs. Did you learn to play that before the band or was it something you thought might sound cool for Black Taxi?

Bill Mayo:  Incorporating the glockenspiel into our music happened fairly organically.  At the time we were writing “pretty mama,” we were rehearsing in a loft in Brooklyn that was shared by a number of other bands.  We had the essential elements of the song down but were lacking one sound that would put the song over the edge.  As fate would have it, one of the other bands had a left their glockenspiel in the space, it was missing most of its bars but it did have the “E” and “D” bars which worked out perfectly for the song.  I had never played one before that night. 

Black Taxi seems to have fun with the usual conventions of what a song can be. For instance – “Up Here for Thinking, Down There for Dancing” has a pretty big 70s style riff but turns into an art-rock dance song. And “It’s a Ball” starts off as kind of ballad but then switches to a more up-beat song mid-way though. Is that deliberate or does that just come naturally when you write the songs?

Bill Mayo:  We deliberately keep things that come naturally.  Songs write themselves.  Nobody sits down and says, let’s do a 70’s punk thing here, and a Ke$ha synth line here.

What plans do you have for promotion for the new album?

Ezra Huleatt: Our manager can answer that best, but we are willing to try everything to get in into people ears  We have hired a PR team, given the first single out for free, and are working on a video for the second single.

Black Taxi

 

 

Black Taxi on Reybee Productions

Remembering George Harrison Ten Years Later

When I first heard the news that George Harrison had died, I was a sophomore in college.  It was late at night and I probably should have been writing a paper, but instead I was spending the night downloading U2 concerts from their then current Elevation Tour from the internet. To pass the time, I clicked on the Yahoo news site and saw the headline that Harrison had passed away.

It seems significant now that I was listening to U2 when Harrison passed away. Without Harrison’s forays and interests in religion, U2 as we know them now would not exist.  Harrison’s quest for something more than rock and roll left a mark on anyone who has ever expressed some sort of spirituality in their lyrics. Harrison’s spirit runs throughout the soul searching of The Joshua Tree, Pete Townshend’s need to connect the audience and a higher power through much of The Who’s work, and even Bob Dylan’s Christian period.

At the time of Harrison’s death, I wasn’t as familiar with The Beatles’ catalog as I am now, but his passing still struck me.  Another Beatle had died. John Lennon was killed almost exactly a year before I was born, so for my entire life the Beatles had always been Paul, George and Ringo. Even though they were no longer playing together, the three remaining remembers sporadically got together over the years including the amazing interviews for The Beatles Anthology. There was always a sense that their spirit was still alive as long as the three of them remained.

Over the last ten years as I dug deeper into The Beatles catalogue and Harrison’s own, I realized what an interesting character, and guitar player he was. As a guitar player, he made every note count and it was executed with such precision and delicacy.  Not many guitar players are as innovative and tasteful as Harrison was.  I’ve never been a huge fan of “Let It Be” – it’s way too sincere for my tastes – but Harrison’s solo on the song has never failed to move me.  Even on the popper early singles, Harrison’s playing elevated the guitar to new heights. One of my favorite Harrison moments is his playing on “I Need You” off of Help!  where he used a volume pedal to create a sort of scratching sound that perfectly suits the plea of the lyrics.

For Harrison to be revered the way he is in a band with two absolute geniuses, is nothing short of remarkable.  I’ve often wondered what many of the songs off All Things Must Pass would have sounded like if The Beatles had recorded them. As it is though, All Things Must Pass remains one of my favorite albums of all time for its scope and beauty. Lennon may have had the more challenging career, and McCartney may have made more popper songs, but All Things Must Pass is the one post-Beatles album that really gets inside your soul.

 

Exclusive Interview with DJ Phoecus from Neighborhood Children

Hot up-and-comers, DJ Phoecus and Mizzy the WildChild, also known as the brilliant group, NEIGHBORHOOD CHILDREN are ready to help you settle in to their amazing brand of eclectic beats as they take to the stage remixing everyone from M83 to Joni Mitchell. 

The first installment titled Welcome to the Neighborhood, is a fire cracker first release in the series, featuring guest spots from Ol’ Dirty Bastard, DJ Red Alert and 9th Wonder. Everything is fair game when it comes to what NEIGHBORHOOD CHILDREN will remix. Surprises are in tow, from Wu Tang Clan to the stellar standout track “Bright Lightzz,” which includes the hook from the newest buzz song from M83, “Midnight City.”

The most exciting hip-hop seems to be underground these days. Where do you think fit into this scene and how would you describe your sound an approach?

We never intended to put any music out, so its strange to think of ourselves “in the scene”, we just have fun with the create process and see how people respond.

I have to ask -how did you get the sample of Ol’ Dirty Bastard on Welcome to the Neighborhood.

We were introduced at a low-key venue in Philly about a month before he died; he was just partying with all of us.

You were in a terrible car accident. How has that affected your music?

The recovery process gave me a lot of free time so I just started messing around on a keyboard and invited people over for jam sessions.

Give a Damn,” reminds me of Pharrell William’s side-project N.E.R.D. Is he an inspiration? Any other musicians you aspire to?

Pharrell and all the big producers of the 90’s are influences. Our influences also include: Wu-Tang, Hall & Oats, Big L, Brian Wilson, Offspring, Smashing Pumpkins, Dipset, Stevie Wonder, & Jack Johnson to name a few.

You said you remix everything. What do you think makes a good remix in your mind? Is it a particular sound, or how people react to it?

I like to find unexpected samples and let them set the tone, then create the vibe around that.

You called yourselves “Neighborhood Children” your mix-tape is called “Welcome to the Neighborhood” and it says on your website you’re from “Neighborhood New Jersey.” What does the “neighborhood” mean to you?

If you skate, draw, play music, dance, write, create any art just appreciate it, we like to say you’re part of the Neighborhood movement.

What’s next for Neighborhood Children? Or are you always working on something new?

We just create and play it for close friends. If they like it, we feel it’s good enough to put out.

Check out “Welcome to the Neighborhood” 

 

Why Sam Cooke’s “Live at the Harlem Square Club” is the Best Soul Live Album Ever

James Brown was one of the best performers in any genre of popular music – a dynamic performer who would strut, leap and do splits.  Both Mick Jagger and Iggy studied his moves and adapted it.  And this isn’t even mentioning the famous cape routine during “Please Please Please”.

Live at the Apollo captures Brown and his band at their peak in the early 1960s.  It’s vintage Brown – sexy, sweaty soul music.  And Brown leads a tight ship – there’s no filler here, every single note that is played has a purpose.  Of course, an audio recording of a James Brown tells half the story.  The leaps and splits aren’t presence, but Brown’s charisma shines through.  And as great as Live at the Apollo is (indeed it’s one of the best ever), it only confirms what you probably already know about Brown in 60s.  (And chances are if you don’t know, you might not be interested in the album anyway.)

But Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club -recorded in 1963 is even better than Live at the Apollo.  Between the two of them, you have some of the best soul music ever recorded. Brown was able to translate the power of his live performances into his studio singles.  Cooke’s singles on the other hand, never offered a hint of the power he would display on Live at the Harlem Square Club.  Even his other live album Live at the Copa sounds stuffy in comparison.  Live at the Harlem Square Club is the live album that Cooke made for his own audience – the ones that truly like to dance – instead of people dressed in suits and ties.  And from the moment it begins, you know that you’re in for a party.

Every single song is transformed into an entirely different animal. “Chain Gang” and “Twisting the Night Away” are played at breakneck speed, but with a precision and looseness only a seasoned band could pull off.  The original version of “Chain Gang” sound kind of cheery, but here the song shows its skin and Cooke’s non-verbal grunts only add to the drama (or add sexual tension) depending on your viewpoint.  On “Cupid” when Cooke laments that he’s in distress and doesn’t want to bother the fabled God of Love, there’s a sense of irony that was never present in the studio version.  “Having a Party” turns into the musical party of the century.  About 30 seconds in, Cooke laughs into the microphone and even without seeing the smile on his face it’s totally infectious.  “Everybody’s dancing to the music!” Cooke declares, “On the radio!”.  It’s impossible to hear this song and not want to get onto your feet.

An that’s probably what is most important about Live at the Apollo – the music.  In a time of civil injustice, and changing tides (musically and culturally) the performances Live at the Harlem Square Club offered a sort of salvation for those in attendance.  (Unfortunately, the album wasn’t released until 1985.) Cooke didn’t want people to have a good time.  No, “that’s not all Sam will for you,” He shouts mid-way through the album. He forces you to.

 

 

 

 

Song of the Week: “No Action” – Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello’s debut My Aim is True was a songwriter’s album with a punky edge.  It was full of paranoia, rage and bitterness. For his second album This Year’s Model, Costello found a backing band – the Attractions who he would record his most famous record with – whose musicianship match the attack of his lyrics.

The two records aren’t totally dissimilar from each other. But by having the Attractions back him up, Costello is ready to declare war or any previous relationship. “I’m Not Angry” off of My Aim is True may have been drenched in irony, but here Costello doesn’t even pretend that’s not pissed off. And if you don’t believe him just look at the cover ofThis Year’s Model.  With a camera in hand, Costello eyes suggest that he’s ready to catch the scorned lovers in the act.

“There’s No Action” the first track off of This Year’s Model starts thing off with a bang.  Costello has always been known for throwing in wordy, complicated lyrics into fast songs but the words fall from lips at a furious speed even for him – “the things in my head starting my mind”, “he’s got the keys to the car, they are the keys to the kingdom – it’s a shame he didn’t bring them”.

There are many songs where the narrator laments about how he misses the voice of his loved one. Not so with “No Action”.  Costello only wants to talk on the phone (“Im not a telephone junkie” he declares in the verse) so he can not only start an argument but deliberately demean the other person.

What’s got Costello so pissed? As it turns out, he told the girl they “were just good friends” and now she’s off with another guy.  Ever the jealous type, Costello admits he calls her when he knows “she’s not lonely” luckily, he always disconnects it just in time.  I’m not entirely sure this lets him off the hook though – he is after all, trying to call when the woman is most likely having sex with the other guy.

If this was the first song the Attractions recorded with Costello, he seems to be pushing them to the max.  Several times throughout the song (particularly on the chorus), the band comes dangerously close to falling apart. Pete Thomas’s cymbal furious crashes perfectly match Costello’s lyrics.

Costello would write meaner and wilder songs than “No Action”, but because its socompact (barely over two minutes) and a perfect introduction to one of my favorite albums of his, I’ll always rank this song highly.

Hatsune Miku Screening

Press release courtesy of the Musebox:

MEET THE WORLD’S FIRST VIRTUAL POP DIVA

VOCALOID-DRIVEN DIGITAL FEMALE AVATAR AND
INTERNATIONAL MUSIC SENSATION
HATSUNE MIKU
BRINGS HER DYNAMIC LIVE PERFORMANCE TO THE US
FOR THE FIRST TIME – IN A THEATER NEAR YOU

ONE-NIGHT-ONLY VIEWING EVENT PRESENTED BY
LIVE VIEWING JAPAN
HITS NINE MAJOR US CITIES ON NOVEMBER 10TH

New York, NY – Live Viewing Japan, a distribution company focused on bringing Japanese entertainment media to an international audience, has announced that it will stage a very special one-night-only Hatsune Miku event simultaneously in nine major U.S. cities on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 7:00pm (local time). Hatsune Miku Live Party 2011 39’s LIVE in SAPPORO (originally organized by 5bp Inc. in August, 2011) will screen a live concert performance of Hatsune Miku in movie theaters in select markets. More information about this exclusive one-night-only event is available at:
http://www.liveviewing.jp/contents/009_mikupa.html.


The cities that will host the Hatsune Miku event include:

Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Chicago, IL
Houston, TX
Los Angeles, CA
Orange, CA
New York, NY – Two locations
San Francisco/Bay Area, CA
Seattle, WA


“We’re very excited to present this unique Hatsune Miku experience for her U.S. fans,” says LVJ Executive Director, Mr. Hiroki Kotani. “Miku has captivated a global audience with a mix of catchy pop music and captivating technology-inspired visuals. Her popularity has opened an entirely new range of possibilities to blend a cute pop idol persona with technology and computer-created graphics. We invite fans to visit the Live Viewing Japan web link for more information and for specific movie theater event locations. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see Hatsune Miku perform!”

Pop idol Hatsune Miku, whose name means, “first sound of the future,” is a Vocaloid (meaning machine-made vocals) digital female avatar and the most popular of the Vocaloid Character Series software originally created by Crypton Future Media, Inc. using Yamaha’s Vocaloid 2 engine to create organic-sounding synthesized vocal tracks.

In Japan, Hatsune Miku is a major national phenomenon and has appeared in numerous popular video games and music videos. She’s also played several enthusiastic “concerts,” where she performs on stage projected as a 3D hologram and backed by a live band. Miku recently played her first live concert in the U.S. called, “MIKUNOPOLIS in LOS ANGELES,” at the Nokia Theatre for the 2011 Anime Expo, held this past July in Los Angeles, CA. The show sold out in only 4 hours, further underscoring the growing popularity she enjoys in North America. Hatsune Miku was also recently featured in a T.V. commercial for the Toyota Corolla.

Live Viewing Japan has seized on the growing global popularity of Hatsune Miku and has plans to screen her live concert film in several countries including France, Thailand and Brazil.

Is David Bowie the Gateway Musician to Weirdness?

Like many kids born in the 1980s, my first introduction to David Bowie was through the movie Labyrinth. Without knowing much about him, even at a young age I knew the dude who played Jareth the Goblin King was plain weird. This was the first time I became exposed to extremely tight pants on a man. If you ask many people about the movie now, they’ll probably tell you with a slight bit of disgust that the scene where Jareth throws the baby up in the air, which exposed more of Bowie than Mick Jagger on the cover of Sticky Fingers, is forever cemented in their brain.

So yes, for a good decade that what was came to mind whenever I thought of David Bowie. That all changed one Christmas when my older brother Pete bought me a copy of Bowie’s famous best of collection, Changesonebowie. The songs that were on it were unlike anything I had ever heard.  They were flashy, explicit, down-right bizarre at times but also undeniably cool. The character of Ziggy Stardust sounded tragic – “making love with his ego, Ziggy sucked up into his mind” – but Bowie made him sound like the most bad-ass rock star that ever lived even if he was fictional. “Heroes” was cold and metallic sounding, but Bowie’s gorgeous voice on the track pulled you in.

With the exception of perhaps Queen or Elton John, Bowie is rock’s most accessible weirdo. He dressed in strange costumes, sang about finding other guys attractive, created fictional rock stars that were more fascinating than many real ones, but many of his songs catchy enough to get mainstream attention. Who else can make a hook out of “hey man!”, making the trappings of fame so fun?

As much as I love Bowie, his greatest contribution to my musical life has been introducing me to even weirder and stranger artists who I love even more. It’s been said that marijuana is a gateway to harder drugs. Bowie is rock music’s gateway to more experimental, strange and less accessible music. Without being exposed to Bowie’s experimental album Low – a gift from my sister, which I absolutely hated at first – I would have never made the left turn to discover such albums as Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, Roxy Music’s For Your Pleasure, or Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, or The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat.  Bowie’s theatrics and sexual imagery suddenly didn’t seem so outlandish when compared with the dark, druggy imagery found on the Velvet Underground’s noisy 17 minute “Sister Ray”.

Without David Bowie, who know whats rock music would be like? It would certainly be a lot tamer, that’s for sure. Almost any artist who is a little bit left of center owes him a huge credit. Even newer arty bands such as Arcade Fire and TV on the Radio take cues from his book.  And hopefully, for my generation he’ll be remembered for his music more than the Goblin King.

U2’s Zoo TV Tour and the Influence on Mass Culture

U2 ended the 1980s as one of the world’s biggest bands. The Joshua Tree had made them global super-stars.  By the time the group emerged two years later with 1991’s Achtung Baby, the world around them had changed. The Cold War ended, and the Berlin Wall had fallen. The United States had been at War with Iraq. Millions watched CNN’s constant coverage of the war.

Sensing the cultural shift, and their own personal issues U2,came into the 90s as an entirely different band. Achtung Baby traded in their signature sound of delayed guitars and spiriting yearning for distorted guitars and dark sexual imagery.  Instead of becoming a rock and roll dinosaur, the group became trendsetters in what would eventually become the age of information and the digital age by the world-wide Zoo TV Tour that followed the album.

Unlike many rock and roll tours before, Zoo TV was perhaps the first to make full use of the stage as part of the show.  The massive set-up included dozens of televisions screens that displayed flashing texts, edited clips from television shows and movies and various other visual elements. Zoo TV was a visual assault on the senses in every sense of the word.

Twenty years on many of Zoo TV’s presentations seem might antiquated, but that’s only because they were radical at the time.  Bono certainly may blurred the lines between a rock show and reality by linking up with civilians in Bosnia during the Yugoslav War and pissed off many. But with today’s smart-phones similar news information can be easily accessed during a concert. Sure, it is now left up to the individual, but the point remains the same: where does entertainment begin and where does news end?  Or vice versa.

The barrage of phrases and slogans that flashed across the screen during “The Fly” may have been hard to make out as the band played below.  But coupled with one of the band’s fieriest songs and some of Bono’s most observant and ironic lyrics (“every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief”) the segment doesn’t seem that far removed from constant television advertisements or the spam that clutter e-mail boxes.

For two subsequent tours after Zoo TV, U2 gave a more stripped down approach.  When 2009 came around, they decided to go big once again for the 360 Tour.  This time though, the visuals weren’t so much a commentary on digital culture as they were embracing it.  The band finally arrived in North America in the spring of 2011, right after the Arab Spring which had been initiated by Twitter. Perhaps it was fitting that a revolution would occur on a service that can also be used for entertainment and garbage almost twenty years after Zoo TV.

Q&A With Finnish-French Pop Band The Dø

French-Finnish band The Dø conjure up an unlikely blend of indie rock, folk, dance, and mid-20th century pop.  Taste-making website Pitchfork proclaimed their debut album A Mouthful “as ambitious and fun as any coming out party in recent memory.” MTV Iggy said, “Overall the album is a solid first effort, so have A Mouthful of The Do’s musical scale. You wont be disappointed.” Their hotly anticipated second album, Both Ways Open Jaws will be released via Six Degrees Records on November 15, 2011 and is already receiving rave reviews.     

   Singer Olivia Merilahti and instrumentalist Dan Levy first met in 2005 while recording the soundtrack to a French movie.  After realizing their mutual love of music, the duo began to collaborate, and released A Mouthful in 2008 to critical acclaim.  

 After the release of A Mouthful, and touring, you’ve said you “were frustrated by the technical restraints of performing live.”  How did they affect your songwriting for “Both Ways Open Jaws?”

 We rushed into the studio to record harpsichord, harp, double-bass and grand piano, everything we couldn’t have on the road. It was like a rebellion. I put my electric guitar back in its case for many months, and bought a wonderful vintage acoustic Gibson.  On this new tour we’re a lot happier as we’re a band of five on stage, with baritone saxophone, many different guitar effects and obviously the kitchen pans.

You two met while recording a soundtrack. How did you two connect and decide to form The Dø?

We recorded many songs for that movie back in 2005 and realized pretty quickly that we had a lot to do together. We were very complimentary, we still are. We worked on other soundtracks, composed music for contemporary dance pieces, for theatre. I discovered what it was like to compose for image and Dan realized the power of a song, which he was unfamiliar to.

Both Ways Open Jaws is self-produced.  Have you had any experience producing before, or is something you decided to specifically for this album?

 Everything we ever did together is self-produced. Dan used to record music in his studio for other projects before we met, for cinema or for bands such as Toumast, a Touareg band from Niger. We self-produced A Mouthful and Both Ways Open Jaws and we like to keep it that way. It’s a lot of work, composing, recording, arranging and mixing, but it’s how we maintain our artistic freedom.

Your music is such a mix of genres – pop, folk, and dance, yet it sounds effortless. How do you bring all of these sounds together?

We don’t think of our music as a conscious mixture of genres, we don’t calculate or think of it in advance. We both have such different backgrounds, our music is naturally eclectic i suppose. It usually starts with guitar and vocals, and from there we record anything we want. Sometimes we have a specific sound in mind, or then we’ll just record a lot and edit a lot. It’s the most delicious process.

Dan – you play a wide variety of instruments.  What was the first instrument you learned to play and when did decide to explore different types?

I learned to play the saxophone first, but i wanted to play drums and piano. I had a piano at home so i played all the time. My father bought an old drum-kit, and he put it in the basement of his restaurant. I remember playing drums for hours during the service upstairs. I think a musician can play any kind of instrument if he thinks musically, not technically.

Olivia – your vocals are a huge part of The Dø’s sound.  Do you come up with the melodies or is it a collaborative effort?  

I usually come up with songs on piano or guitar. Sometimes Dan gives me a beat and I’ll work on the vocals. Dan’s good for beats and I’m good for melodies. But we like to reverse it sometimes, too.

You’re touring Europe this fall.  Any plans to come to the US after “Both Ways Open Jaws” is released?

We would love to, maybe early next year. All info will be on our Facebook page.  See you soon!