Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In Conversation: Terror Bird

A while back when I was cruising through the Night People Records catalogue, I discovered Terror Bird. Two or three songs and I was on the Terror Bird boat. The DIY aesthetic, Nikki's voice and  the indie synth pop beat made Terror Bird's music becoming an instant part of my daily airplay. Originally from Canada, based in Europe, Terror Bird is Nikki Nevver's musical projects which also involves other artists. Since 2009, Terror Bird has released several albums and been on tour through out Canada and Europe. She has released a brand new album this year entitled 'All This Time'. More about this, the early starts and future plans in this special interview.

1. Tell us more about Terror Bird’s early starts and what inspired you to take this name?

I started writing solo music in 2004. Before that, I sang in a really high-pitched voice in an all-female Stooges-esque band called Automatic Fancy. Around this time, I learned about Siouxie and the Banshees, and wanted to sound like Siouxsie Sioux for a little while. I really only ever liked the album, “The Scream” but I thought they had few other good songs. I think this band might have influenced me to sing lower. But I know I wanted to sound like a British man from an 80’s pop group too. Anyway, by the time I was in my twenties, I think I was bored of Siouxsie and the Banshees, at least musically. I still love the way Siouxsie Sioux looks. Anyway, I’m getting a little off-track.

In 2004, I borrowed the electric piano and acoustic guitar of my roommate, and wrote songs about Bill Murray, surgery, ex-boyfriends and things like that. When I moved back to Vancouver, I bought an organ from a thrift store and started to record onto tapes at my mom’s condo. Eventually, I came up with the name, Terror Bird. I’d gotten the idea for this name from a kids’ movie about extinct animals that I’d watched when I was actually 18, the song “Danger Bird” by Neil Young (who I love), and the terrorizing anxiety I often dealt with.

My boyfriend and future husband told me the project reminded him of Daniel Johnston, who I had never heard of before, but started listening to after he told me this. I was happy that someone else had been successful in making crappy recordings famous just by writing great songs and handing cassettes out. I think I handed cassettes out with a bunch of songs to all my new friends, copying Daniel Johnston. But it’s a good idea. It’s cute.

2. Who is/are the artist(s) behind the name Terror Bird? Is it a permanent collective of musicians or a loose line up of artists?

The only constant member of Terror Bird is me. But my ex-husband, Jeremiah was in the band from around 2006 until the spring of 2012 when he quit. He normally played drums but in 2012 I asked him to switch to synthesizer so I could have electronic drums, and I think this made him enjoy the band a lot less. I think playing synth live is not nearly as cathartic as playing drums.

Other members have come and gone, mostly based on whether they could afford to (meaning afford the time and/or the money) come on tour or not. There’s been Daniel (from Nu Sensae), Daniel and Tommi (from unhappybirthday), Leanne and Jen (from Certain Breeds and Demian), Bianca (who used to play in a band with Nic from Cosmetics and the Riff Randells), Mel, and Jesse (from Twin Crystals). I would like to find more constant members, and I think I’ve finally found that in Leanne. She’s self-employed and will join me on her third Terror Bird tour next year. We get along really well.

3. How would you describe your music? What are the main topics, elements and what style?

I like to describe Terror Bird as “Nu New Wave”, because a lot of the songs sound like a new take on 80’s new wave. Or bedroom pop, since I write most of the songs in my bedroom. But both are tongue in cheek. There’s also some songs that sound 60s influenced, jazzy, or like weird indie music. So I don’t think Terror Bird has one particular style. Maybe it would make the project more marketable, but I don’t want to limit myself by writing in one style. Music is one of the few things that makes me very excited about life, so I shouldn’t wreck this. The main elements? There is nearly always piano, quite a bit of reverb, and romantic, bittersweet lyrics. I write a lot about love, people, the weather, and small parts of life that I find create a romantic or nostalgic feeling. I like to focus a lot on mood, lyrics, and melody. Of course the instruments are important too, but it’s more important to create feelings and to follow my intuitions about what sounds good than to write something musically complex. It’s influenced by everything I listen to, which is pretty diverse..but mostly from the past.

4. Are there any particular artists who influenced your decision to start making music?

I had a boyfriend when I was 16 who got me into Roxy Music, Gary Numan, Ultravox, T-Rex, Depeche Mode, and a bunch of other 80s music. He wore eyeliner and dressed very eighties glam. He showed me the movie, Velvet Goldmine. Back then, I started to listen to the hits of the eighties and thought most of the music was cheesy but fun and danceable. But actually a lot of that music isn’t cheesy and is dark, romantic, and (at times) deep. I’ve figured this out.

Now I’m trying to think back to the artists I wanted to emulate as a teenager, because my I was in my first bands when I was 18. I think I really liked Hole, Veruca Salt, Nirvana, Garbage and Babes in Toyland and was just starting to learn about punk music beyond The Ramones. Those bands didn’t really influence Terror Bird, but they influenced me wanting to be in a band. I think I also wanted to show up my makeup wearing boyfriend once he broke up with me and might have had the intention of being in a band as yet another way to get attention. I couldn’t use my looks, since he introduced me to pot and therefore “the munchies” making me gain a bunch of weight. I also had an awkward haircut for my face shape and wore men’s dress pants. Anyway, it was also a lot of fun to play electric guitar.

Terror Bird started when I listened a lot to Philip Glass, Tim Buckley, Neil Young, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Hayden, Leonard Cohen, and early Bowie. There was also this inspiring group of people in Montreal who wrote songs on acoustic guitar together, like this guy that called his project “Bedbox”. I still think it’s great because I love his voice. Duchess Says from Montreal was inspiring too...and Channels 3 and 4 from Vancouver. And I loved early Madonna when I was younger. Later I learned about Kate Bush from my bandmate and after I got used to her, she inspired me a lot. I still try to copy Kate Bush’s dance moves. I’ve written a few songs that in my eyes blatantly ripping off (or “paying tribute to”) Death in June (Say It), The Rolling Stones (Beat Off Queen), Kate Bush (All This Time), and OMD (Vacation).

I was also inspired by Sonic Youth, Young Marble Giants, Jeremy Jay, The Raincoats, PJ Harvey, and Wire.

5. From 2009 to date you have released several albums and EP/ singles. What do you consider your best work to be?

I always feel more attached to whatever is newest, because I’m most excited by novelty. I really like “All This Time” because to me it sounds electronic, and nostalgic but modern. But on “Secret Rituals” there are a lot of live instruments like organ, piano and drums... and I really love and miss that now that I haven’t recorded in studio for over a year. Both are quite poppy, but I think “All This Time” is more experimental regarding song structures and vocals. I wrote a new song called “The Cloak” and I think it’s one of the best things I’ve done so far. Actually, never mind all that...I think the best thing I did was with Cyan Kid. We wrote 16 songs together in Berlin last year and he did a great job in producing them and writing. I really like male-female vocal duets. The album we made is called “Cut-Outs” and you can find it on Spotify, bandcamp, iTunes, etc.

6. What is your live set up? What do you try to achieve when you play shows? Do you prefer the studio to the stage or the stage to the studio? What is your experience with both? 

Right now, my live set up is just myself with backing tracks, singing and playing synth. My band lives in Canada and I haven’t had the motivation to find more people to play with me in Europe. Although, when I have a band, there’s cello and one to two synthesizers and backing tracks and I just sing and dance. I try to do everything well and put on a good performance. I like to try to do dances and movements that look visually interesting and exert a lot of energy. I really like dancing and exercising and I sometimes feel very dead standing still. And I used to be self conscious about moving on stage, but now I love it. I love performing and the studio/recording, but both can be a rush. At least with recordings, you can cover your mistakes...ha ha.

7. How would you describe your last three months in music? Recording sessions, tours, promotions…

My last three months have been a bit mellow. There was a four week tour and lots of interviews for “All This Time” ...but that was back in May. Since May, I have been taking it easy. I just play a few shows here and there (Cologne, Frankfurt, Karlruhe, Leipzig, the UK, Czech Republic). I’ve still been writing lots of songs though. I have the tour bug again though, and would like to visit the USA next year and also visit some European countries I’ve never been to.

8. What music are you listening to when you are not recording or producing your own?

The new stuff I’m listening to is Koban, Molly Nilsson, Merchandise, unhappybirthday, Blouse, Chevalier Avant Garde, The Felines, Lana Del Ray and The Mary Onettes. The older stuff I’m listening to is Depeche Mode, Four Tops, Roxy Music, The Adverts, Kate Bush,, Elliot Smith, Christian Death, and Pulp.

9. What are your future plans for Terror Bird? More releases? Is there a possibility of any live performances? 

I want to do some more shows in Europe in December. I am writing a song with Carson Cox from Merchandise and have the intention of doing split record with Sally Dige. Night School Records and I are also talking about doing a piano based record, which I really like the idea of. I think I’d also like to self-release a set of tapes of old songs that were never released. And I want to write an album of club bangers, but I might save that for the new project with my friend, Szam. I’m playing “Queer Noises” in Prague in December, and might also go to Dresden, Berlin, and Vienna that month.

10. Where can fans gain access to your music and find regular updates?

They can go to these fine places:

Thanks for the interview!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lou Reed Dies Aged 71

One of the most influential artist and musician of all time who helped and changed the face of music almost 50 years has passed away. Born Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed was principal musician and the mastermind behind the music of Velvet Underground and he was also known for his solo career, which has spanned several decades. Reed was believed to have been in poor health since he underwent a liver transplant in May.
 He remained an avid and interesting artist, branching out into photography and released two book of his work, 'Emotions in Action' and 'Lou Reed's New York.' Reed interacted with fans regularly, with a Facebook page and a Twitter account with more than 42,000 followers. His last Tweet was posted this morning. 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Retrovision: Erasure- A Little Respect

Twenty five years ago Erasure released their tenth single, one of their biggest hit and certainly one of our favorite. Known as one of their signature tunes, "A Little Respect" continued Erasure's success on the UK Singles Chart, where it hit number four to become the band's fifth Top 10 single. It was also Erasure's second consecutive Top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, where it climbed to number 14, and hit number two on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Songs chart. The music video was directed by The Malloys and premiered in July 2001. It featured actor Shawn Hatosy and actress Brittany Murphy. 
Meanwhile imapatiently waiting for the brand new Erasure album 'Snow Globe' which will be out next month.

Patrick Cowley's Compilation School Daze out on Dark Entries

Dark Entries and Honey Soundsystem have teamed up to release the gay porn soundtrack work of San Francisco-based musician and producer, Patrick Cowley. Perhaps one of the most revolutionary and influential people in the cannon of disco music, Cowley created his own brand of Hi-NRG dance music coined “The San Francisco Sound.” 
Featuring over 80 minutes of music, this compilation contains soundtrack music from two Fox Studio films, “Muscle Up” and “School Daze”, never before released on vinyl. The tapes were restored and transferred using the same speed and pitch settings, then remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. The vinyl comes housed in a glossy dual pocket gatefold featuring classic gay porn imagery from the Fox Studio vaults plus an essay from Indoor Life vocalist, Jorge Soccarras. 
 For Patrick’s 63rd birthday, Dark Entries and Honey Soundsystem present a glimpse into the instrumental world of a young genius. These recordings shine a new light on the experimental side of a disco legend who was taken too soon. All proceeds from “School Daze” will be donated to Project Open Hand and the AIDS Housing Alliance. 

More info: www.darkentriesrecords.com/store/dark-entries/patrick-cowley-school-daze-2xlp


Friday, October 18, 2013

Ultravox' - Ultra Box Set Announced for Late October

Chrysalis Records have announced the release of a new Ultravox box set. 'The Albums 1980-2012' is a nine-CD collection featuring the six Midge Ure era studio albums – 'Vienna' (1980), 'Rage in Eden' (1981), 'Quartet' (1982), 'Lament' (1984) and 'U-Vox' (1986) – as well as live records 'Monument' (1983) and 'Return to Eden' (2009). The story is brought right back up to date with the inclusion of 'Brilliant', last year’s studio album featuring the classic line-up after a recording hiatus of almost three decades. All the LPs from the 1980s have been newly remastered by Steve Rooke at Abbey Road Studios. 
The CDs will be in card sleeves and housed in a clamshell box. The Albums 1980-2012 is released on 28 October 2013.


WAW: Soft Metals- On a Cloud

"On a Cloud" is a brand new video for Soft Metals which was premiered yesterday on Youtube. The video for the song was directed by Erica Schreiner and the song is taken from their second album 'Lenses' which is out now.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Next Wave: Schonwald

Schonwald is an Italian cold wave duo consisting of Alessandra Gismondi and Luca Bandini. This two-piece unit has been surreptitiously dwelling in the shadowy corners of the European underworld for a few years now, releasing their debut LP in 2009 and performing at festivals with the likes of UK Decay, and other similar bands. Schonwald are now encroaching on world submission with the unleashing of their long-anticipated “Mercurial” single. A chilling and hopelessly bleak drum-machine rhythm sets the tone, parting the waves of rippling darkness into a massive surge of inescapable, hushed-yet-crushing electronic melancholia. European post punk at it’s finest, Alessandra and Luca of Schonwald create a pulsing, black-lit atmospheric electronic vibration so cold, hypnotic, and simple, it’s perfect for our endlessly frozen world. 

Take a listen here:
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Rational Youth's Live Recordings and Archive Tracks to be Released as Magic Box

Artoffact Records have announced the release of 'Magic Box', a compilation which includes Rational Youth's live Recordings from 1983 as well as previously unreleased material. This three CD collection includes the double-CD Live 1983 and a third, limited edition CD that collects Rational Youth archive tracks, demos, 7" remixes, as well as solo tracks from Bill Vorn, Kevin Komoda, and Tracy Howe. The CDs also includes two tracks from the infamous "Affection" cassette, and a track from Heaven Seventeen, a pre-Rational Youth project. All tracks have been remastered from original tapes where possible. Limited to 390 copies worldwide. 'Magic Box' will be out on November 5th. 

More info:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Marc Almond Returns with a New Single and Announces New Album for 2014

Marc Almond has announced the release of double A side single, "Burn Bright/The Dancing Marquis", on 4 November 2013, the stunning result of his collaboration with legendary record producer Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T-Rex, The Moody Blues, Morrissey). Marc defines the partnership as one of the highlights of his career. "Burn Bright/The Dancing Marquis" will be available as a download from all usual retailers. For the die hard fans looking for a highly collectable piece, Strike Force Entertainment will print 1,000 copies on 7" purple coloured vinyl in a beautifully designed gatefold sleeve, complete with a CD version of the tracks. The double A single precedes an EP/Mini Album out early next year, with a full studio album to follow in the summer.

More info: