Wild Belle

Q&A: Wild Belle on familial dynamics, schmoozing, and using loss as inspiration

Wild Belle: IslesWild Belle: Isles (Columbia, 3/12/13)

“Keep You”

Wild Belle: “Keep You”

Though eight years apart in age, siblings Natalie and Elliot Bergman have a long musical history. Whether playing together in church in their youth, hearing James Brown and Neil Young records from their parents, or soaking up influences on trips abroad, the two have a shared musical heritage that has manifested itself in Wild Belle, a multi-cultural pop project that was born from Natalie’s demos and rounded by Elliot’s professional experience in Nomo.

Isles, the group’s debut full-length, is a blend of pre-1980s reggae and rocksteady, dub, R&B, rock, and African influences, all held together by Natalie’s airy vocals and lovelorn lyrics. Here she speaks about familial dynamics, quickly signing to a major, and using loss as inspiration.

Damon Locks

Guest Playlist: Damon Locks’ most truthful tunes

The Eternals: Approaching the Energy Field (Addenda, 2/15/11)

The Eternals: “War’s Blazing Disciples”

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Damon Locks — frontman for experimental dub-punk band The Eternals, former member of Trenchmouth, and part-time member of Exploding Star Orchestra — is an accomplished visual artist in addition to being an accomplished musician. For ALARM’s newest book, Chromatic, Locks curated a section of handmade mix-tape art. In addition, his sociopolitical mixed-media art is featured alongside a story that details his upbringing, influences, and guiding principles. Here, Locks compiles a playlist of tunes that he repeatedly turns to for inspiration.

The Uncompromising Art
by Damon Locks

I side with the ones that follow their hearts,
Not the ones making due rather than making art

These 10 tracks are tunes that inspire me to make work both visual and musical and to trust in the creative process. Upon every listen, these pieces always feel so kinetic and vital. The music business is now so savvy and marketing is so embedded into the processes of music-making that the impetus to make most music generally feels (and sounds) suspect. I wanted to put a list of tunes together whose intentions felt truthful and without an eye for its profitability.

1. Eddie Gale: “Song of Will”

A spiritual and uplifting female vocal chorus crescendos to reveal a cacophonous horn melody that punctuates and empowers.

Woima Collective

The Groove Seeker: Woima Collective’s Tezeta

On a weekly basis, The Groove Seeker goes in search of killer grooves across rock, funk, hip hop, soul, electronic music, jazz, fusion, and more.

Woima Collective: TezetaWoima Collective: Tezeta (Kindred Spirits, 11/15/10)

Woima Collective: “Wayna”

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The Woima Collective has produced a remarkable set of Ethiopian-styled grooves with its debut record, Tezeta, released on the Netherlands-based record label Kindred Spirts. Including the brass-section members of the internationally respected German funk outfit Poets of Rhythm, the Collective channels the sweet funk and jazz rhythms of Mulatu Astatke, with a sound that matches his legendary 1960s and ’70s recordings.

Liz Janes

Guest Spots: Pop singer Liz Janes on her noisy, experimental past

Though her music might not immediately suggest it, adventuresome pop singer Liz Janes has a particular fondness for noise and drone music.

Janes entrenched herself in the vibrant Olympia music scene before joining Sufjan Stevens and Asthmatic Kitty for albums like Done Gone Fire (2002) and Poison & Snakes (2004). Those albums put a unique spin on classic Americana and blues, but her upcoming album, Say Goodbye (Asthmatic Kitty, 12/7/10), is a pop/soul record built on Janes’ inescapably experimental roots.

Here, in a personal recount of her musical history, her songwriting theory rings especially true: “You can choose any two points to be A and B, and there is always a way to connect the two.”

Liz Janes: “I Don’t Believe” (Say Goodbye, Asthmatic Kitty, 12/7/10)

Liz Janes: “I Don’t Believe” (Say Goodbye, Asthmatic Kitty, 12/7/10)

Drones Are Forever
by Liz Janes

I was a hippy living in a trailer in the coniferous rain forest of Olympia, Washington. Eventually, my endless meandering through the woods brought me into the little downtown. It was there that I stumbled upon the gentle and brilliant rock-poet solo performances of Mirah, Phil Elvrum, and Karl Blau; the kinder-pop of Jenny Jenkins and Super Duo; the pop punk of The Need; the hot, spastic, urgent noise of The Nervous System; and the shrieking, sexy soul of Old Time Relijun.

This sparked for me a new interest in culture. This K Records / Olympia scene was really vibrant and producing truly original and interesting art. So as I was drawn further into culture, and out of the woods, it just got better and better.

Cosmos Records

Behind the Counter: Cosmos Records (Toronto, ON)

Each Tuesday, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.

For more than a decade, independent record store Cosmos Records has supplied the Toronto area with hard-to-find vinyl releases. In addition to its flagship Queen St. West location, a sister store specializing in hip-hop and soul records opened down the street in 2005. Owner Aki Abe is known for his encyclopedic knowledge, an expertly cultivated record selection, and his downtown-Toronto nightclub, Una Más. Below, Abe answers a few questions, and Cosmos employees show off their favorite records.

Cosmos Records
Aki Abe holds Machine: s/t

What was your motivation for starting a music store? / What is your background in music?

In the late ’80s, I used to wholesale rare disco and soul LPs to Japan, which paid for my college tuition. I always seemed to obsess about something, whether it was rare action-figure erasers in grade two or obscure soul LPs I’ve never seen. If I didn’t open a record store, my apartment would’ve burst. I have no background in music.

The Mad Platter

Behind the Counter: Rhino Records & The Mad Platter (Claremont, CA)

Each week, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.

ALARM recently spoke with Dennis Callaci, general manager of the Inland Empire-based Rhino Records and The Mad Platter, about the sisterly record stores and the potential correlation between UFOs, Jim Morrison, and Vietnam (hint: he’s not interested). To kick off the Q&A, here’s a photo of Mad Platter employee Jonny holding his favorite record.

The Mad Platter
Jonny holds The Cure's Disintegration

Zine Scene: Starlite Motel on the necessity of independent publishing

What is it really like to be a zine writer in today’s world of megacorp publishers and big media?

Amber Ridenour, who also writes under the name “Starlite Motel,” answers a few questions about process, creation, and reputation. With her husband Chris, Amber is the author of many zines, including Autobiographical Alley Map and Night Bomb.

Freak Disco/Metal Collective Chrome Hoof Spends Halloween in France for Rare Shows

Other than spending All Hallows Eve at the campy blood fest of a GWAR show, seeing London’s Chrome Hoof on October 31 has to be the ultimate in Halloween plans. Whether the group’s members are burning a 12-foot ram in effigy or donning silver, sparkling, hooded robes in uniform, their stage show is just as riveting as their weird sonic stew.