Category Archives: Interviews

An interview with RÁJ

An interview with Raj

In September 2013, Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 debuted a track entitled ‘Ghost’, performed by LA-based singer-songwriter, RÁJ; in April 2014, the artist followed up with the song ‘Let Me Love You’. Both tracks are notable for their stark lyrical honesty, otherworldly atmosphere, and combination of traditional folk aesthetics with various degrees of brooding distortion. The artist has previously been lips-sealed on personal details of his life, background, and music, choosing instead to deliver somewhat-cryptic Twitter messages. That is, until now…

 There has been a scant amount of background information available on you. As such, would you be willing to provide some of the most elementary of these details? Perhaps your name, birthplace, or birth date?

Of course, my name is Raj, I was born in Westlake village, California, on July 22, 1993.

 To what extent has the hiding of your personal details been deliberate? Why might this be the case?

It hasn’t been important at all for me and the initial campaign. When I put out my first song “ghost” we released my name, my location, and a photo of myself. I’m fairly open actually, and pretty much willing to answer anything. My twitter is @rajnoise, ask away.

How important has social media and online distribution (including uploading and streaming services) been to the establishment of your own ‘identity’? 

I think that in today’s entertainment world, it is the only way for artists to stay relevant. Social media is SUCH a beautiful thing. I can let the world know everything I want you guys to know, when I want you to know it, and it’s coming right from my mouth. We “the entertainers” are controlling the information that is given out about us. Before social media existed we were being spoken for by companies and brands, like TMZ, who go out of there way to manipulate a situation for their benefit, regardless of what is the truth.

How did you become a musician?

I always knew I could sing. I would be sitting in the back of my car with my mom when I was little and would sing along to what was playing and I always remember her looking back smiling at what was coming out of my mouth. She’s an incredible singer, so I think I got a little bit of her gift.

Are there any non-musical influences that have had an impact on your attitude to being a musician?

Yes. Anyone, in any field, who is considered “the best”. Woody Allen is first who comes to mind. I don’t know a TON about Woody, and I haven’t seen all of his films, but what I do know is Woody sticks to his guns. He has such a distinct taste and style, and it wins. Seeing someone “win” time and time again by doing exactly what they want is so inspiring. And Woody is SO himself. It’s really amazing. Also Johnny Depp. He definitely isn’t the most well rounded actor, but what an amazing guy. Every role he takes, he makes his own. Everything he does is just an extension of Johnny Depp. That’s how I want to be. I want to go play and sing on old blues songs, and you guys can hear ME. I want go feature on Kanye West hooks and I want you to still hear ME. I want everything I do to just be an extension of the core of RÁJ.

How would you describe your sound? What other music was perhaps an influence on you, and would you be able to provide any comparable artists for those who may be unfamiliar with your work?

I’m still finding that out. It’s becoming much clearer to me these days. The only thing I can say I strive for is to be tasteful. It’s such a vague word but I think if you understand it, you know exactly what the word means. I’m really inspired by darker sounding music generally. Oasis is my exception there, but they even have their dark moments (“Wonderwall”, “Talk Tonight”, “Morning Glory”). Radiohead, Lana Del Rey, Sidney Betchet, Jeff Buckley and Burial are my go to influences. They’re all such amazing artists.

Your music is quite open-hearted and introspective, and implements interesting usages of more typical folk instrumentation with heavy effects of distortion and reverberation. What is your approach to songwriting? What guides you in this process?

I don’t know anymore. There isn’t really a process these days, I just let it happen. In the past, I would generally start on guitar, write a melody, throw a couple words together, and then take it to the studio.

I had previously described your two tracks with some of the following terms: dark; minimalistic; brooding; ethereal; and melancholic. Yet, I had still referred to them as ‘pop’ tracks, atypical as they may sound for such a designation. Where might you stand in your approach to ‘pop’ music? Would you see yourself as a pop artist?

Yes, 100%. It is my goal, and I’ve just came to this idea recently, to be a pop artist. Not in the sense of production, but in the sense of being popular. I’m not saying I’m going to compromise my vision for what I think will do well, that’s the opposite of what I’m saying really. I’m here to take my abilities and write music for the entire world. For everyone’s home. I’m interested in writing songs your mother will love, and your super hip elitist brother or sister loved 6 months before you found it (classic art elitist). I want to make art that I like and in return the world likes. That’s my goal.

The video for ‘Let Me Love You’ contains some heavy symbolism of spirituality and religion. How central are these concepts to your songwriting? (And, perhaps by extension, your life?)

Songwriting? Not so much. I haven’t gone there yet. But in my life, heavily. “GOD” is an English word, and the concept seems Western to me. But the concept of “GOD” is rather worldly, or at least it should be. I believe there is a higher power that created all man. I believe Buddha, God, and Allah are all the same person (I know I’m missing a few). But it’s really been butchered. I don’t go to a specific church, and I don’t practice a specific religion. But I believe and respect in a higher power.

What was the impetus for having the video for ‘Ghost’ be one of a cinematic breed? Would you see it as being any less ‘personal’ than that made for LMLY (which is composed entirely of amateur footage of RÁJ walking around various areas of France)?

It was just fitting. I don’t know if it was so thought out to not have me in it. It just felt right though. In hindsight,  maybe it’s less personal to the viewer (me not being in it), but it’s still a moving video. I don’t think it lacks passion at all.

What can we expect from you in the near future? A full EP or LP release? A continuation of your current touring? 

I’m just writing right now. It’ll all come out eventually, I’m not sure if it will be an EP or LP, but I’m working hard at making it the best it can be. That’s my main focus. What comes after it, I have no clue.

And, finally… Have you caught World Cup fever?

YES! Love the World Cup. I don’t pay attention SUPER closely, but I have seen majority  of  the games. Predicting  Netherlands win.

RÁJ has most recently performed as part of KCRW’s Chinatown Summer Nights series on Saturday, June 14, in Los Angeles. 

-Tim Nicodemo
Katuwapitiya.com Contributor

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An Interview With FDJT

London's FDJT

London-raised DJ/Producer Jesse Figueiredo has seen himself steadily climbing the ranks of playing local house parties and bars to opening for such headlining acts as Felix Cartal and Vicetone, to achieving billing on this weekend’s first annual Aries Music Festival in London, ON. We recently chatted with Jesse to gain insight on his influences, production methods, and the music industry, itself. Just don’t ask him to choose between Favre or Rodgers…

Who are you?
My artist name is FDJT, which is pronounced as “Fidget”. But to friends and family, I’m just Jesse Figueiredo.

How would you best describe your sound, or production methods? To whom might you be compared (or perhaps contrasted)?
I am frequently compared to Deadmau5, which is both a blessing and a curse. I think this stems from my production methods mostly, as I like to make very melodical, progressive music. A lot of my synth work sounds very analog, as well, which is a signature of his since most of his stuff is actually analog. So, I love the comparison in that sense.

Mind explaining where the ‘FDJT’ alias came from? And how important is the artist handle to the process of establishing your musical ‘identity’?
It’s really not as amusing a story as most people would think. When I was first starting out at house parties, a lot of my friends would call me “Figgit”. One night, someone misheard one of friends and started calling me “Fidget” all night, and it just kind of stuck since I’m a fairly energetic person. From that I tried to think of a catchy way to separate it, and something that would be alone when you Google searched it. Thus, “FDJT” was born.

What sort of music did you enjoy throughout your youth?
Pretty much anything and everything. I listened to some terrible, terrible music at times, but I enjoyed it, so I didn’t let opinions stop me from listening to it. I would listen to anything from Big L, to Blink 182, to Armin Van Buuren. If it made me happy, it was on my iPod (or CD player, haha).

What drew you to the world of electronic music? What artists were seminal in capturing and holding your interest?
I’ve always had a passion for electronic music. I never would have said it was my genre of choice during my teens, but something always caught my ear when I’d hear it. On the production side of things, my heart has always been in piano, which is a crucial tool in producing electronic music. Once I got my hands on my first DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), there was no turning back. Everything felt very easy to me, and I knew I had found something I could run with.

As for what really captured me about electronic music: it was the scene at the time. It had a very underground family vibe to it in 2008-2010. You could tell it was about to explode. People you had just met would treat you like family, and everyone had one common goal: to just have a good time.

Asides from electronic music, what other interests or influences do you have?
I take influences from anything and everything. I find video game soundtracks are very underappreciated in their beauty and composition; I’ll often be playing a game and think of a piece to build around it. I find the best way to find inspiration is to often let it come to you, as taking a step back has often led to my biggest breakthroughs.

How difficult has it been to find ‘success’ in this field, having to largely produce and promote your own work before being signed to CDN Entertainment? How much of a role has social media played in helping to find, and hold, your audience?
Social media is absolutely everything nowadays. This industry is cutthroat and I had to play a LOT of shows for simple drink money before anyone even knew I was a DJ, let alone a producer. I often tell people right now that, the way the industry is, it’s less what you know and more who you know. People are booked simply based on Facebook ‘Likes’ or Instagram followers with no regard for talent. A huge problem right now is people buying fake fans and Likes for social media outlets. CDN Entertainment has been a crucial part to my success and I don’t go a day without thanking them for everything they’ve done. They’re like family to me. It’s a dark reality, but talent will only get you so far these days, and it’s the sad truth.

Speaking of ‘success’, what, to you, would be deemed ‘successful’? What propels you to create and perform this music?
Success to me is being able to do what I love and pay bills. People constantly ask me if I think I’m going to be famous, and I tell them that I really couldn’t care. As long as people are enjoying my music, and I can afford a decent lifestyle, then I am more than happy. I have no interest in making what is “popular” in order to make a few extra bucks.

Do you feel the relative ease of accessibility to technology used in electronic music production (i.e., laptops, computer software) is making it easier for blooming artists to get noticed, or more difficult (due to how many are now appearing)?
It could go either way, honestly. A lot of people catch flack for the type of equipment they use unless it’s vinyl. Advancements in technology have made DJing a lot easier, so people who actually have a ton of talent are sometimes lost in a crowd of DJs playing a bunch of bootlegs and hitting the ‘Sync’ button. If you use the technology to be more creative, that’s awesome, but a ton of people are just lazy. It’s really not hard to beat match.

How do you feel about being on the billing for the first annual Aries Music Festival in London? What emotions or feelings come to you at this moment?
Excitement. The last 6-8 months have been an absolute blur, and this is kind of an accumulation of all that hard work. When doing opening sets and other things at various venues, you often have to cater to a certain style. At Aries, I can be myself. I’m not opening, and it’s not some club that likes specific types of music, I get to be an artist and play what I’d like.

Do you prefer producing music at home or performing for a live audience?
They both have their pluses. When you are producing at home and you know you’ve perfected something, it’s an absolute thrilling experience. Producers have a rule of thumb that basically says, “Goosebumps don’t lie”. At the same time, performing in front of audiences of 1000+ people is absolutely jaw dropping at some moments. Cutting out vocals and allowing everyone to sing them to you is an experience you can’t quite describe. The same goes for building the audience up over a period of time just to see the exact moment it hits, and the reaction they give. It’s awesome.

What’s the most memorable live moment you can think of?
Most recently I opened up for Vicetone and a few points of my set were definitely moments I won’t forget anytime soon. I got the chance to play my remix of Kaskade’s ‘Atmosphere’, and the crowd went absolutely nuts, singing an entire verse. That was absolutely nuts. Then, because I’ve always wanted to be able to play ‘Strobe’ by Deadmau5—as it’s been a huge influence on my career and is what I’d consider one of the best progressive songs ever made—I did play at the end of my set. The mood was just right, I went for it, and have no regrets. It was beautiful.

What’s in store for the future? Any new material to look out for?
I don’t like to look too far ahead as that can sometimes lead to disappointment, but I always have new songs in the works. In the past I was bad for putting up too many previews which caused the launch of songs to not have as much punch as I would have liked, so on I’m holding back on my next EP until the entirety of it is done. Expect a few commercial remixes to be released as long as I don’t run into copyright issues… As for shows, I’ll be branching out to surrounding cities this summer, so hopefully I can expand my fanbase a bit.

You can live inside one video game world. Which one, and why?
Damn, that’s a tough one, but I’d have to go with Hyrule. I have an insane love for anything Zelda-related, but at the same time, somewhere like Kanto would be awesome too because, I mean… C’mon, Pokémon.

You can musically collaborate with up to three different living producers or artists. Who?
Elton John, Sam Roberts, and Kaskade. Although if I could bring back Jimi Hendrix or Freddie Mercury…

Who is your spirit animal?
According to a test I just took, a bear. But I honestly have no idea, haha.

Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers?
You don’t wanna go there, haha. It’s hard to not pick Favre since he is a legend and did a ton for the franchise, but I see Aaron Rodgers having a better career. So right now, Brett Favre; in the long run, Aaron Rodgers. Can I do that?

If you had to become famous/successful in any other field but music, what would it be?
I’d love to be a comedian, or an actor. Some kind of performing art. Honestly, as long as I make money doing something I love, I won’t complain too much.

FDJT will be playing at the London Music Hall on Saturday, April 5th, as part of the two-day, first annual Aries Music Festival in London, ON. Tickets are $55. 19+ event.

-Tim Nicodemo
Katuwapitiya.com Contributor

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Megan Bonnell: An Album Review and an Interview

Megan Bonnell

Toronto songstress Megan Bonnell makes a convincing statement from the outset of her debut album, Hunt +Chase, that she aims to distance herself from the many female solo artists performing today: on ‘Coming Home’, she immediately calls attention to her own distinctive style with a low, raspy voice, replete with unique inflections. This voice helps carry forward the song’s slow, intense pace, with both feeling as if they are wanting to ‘burst’ forth, and the lyrics juxtaposing life and death, bloom and decay—“Six feet underground and down below/I am all you know”… “My heart is tangled up in vines/And I’m going down”—combine to give the listener an inclination that Bonnell may be taking us to the dark recesses of our heart which we may otherwise want to avoid.

This tendency for slow-burn crescendos, melancholy, and open-hearted honesty travels through the veins of nearly every track on the album, making for a potentially emotionally-exhausting listen, yet one which is truly beautiful and original all the same. Folk-oriented ‘Stars’ follows this buildup-and-release method with vivid, imaginative lyrics which extend deep-seated emotions into the realm of the fantastical, contrasting the natural and the supernatural: “Explosions in the sky, they/Fell on my head/And I bled and I bled/‘Til I was just a ghost”.

Her ability to strike the heartstrings of the listener not only comes through by way of her touching words, but through very atmospheric sonic aesthetics. ‘We Are Strangers Now’ features successive layers of sound overlaid on top of acoustic guitar chord strumming, and great depth to the drums, the bass sounding like a cannon going off, while the snare whips in and out, akin to a pistol being fired.

The only instance in which this aesthetic is broken is on the album’s title track, which marks a large digression in tone from the rest of the album: a blaring, rapid drum loop introduces the song, which is quickly followed by a piano loop, multiple layers of instrumentation and vocals overlaid atop one another, all propelled by the album’s fastest tempo. Arguably the most ‘upbeat’ track, its frenzied pace and multifaceted instrumentation strays markedly from Bonnell’s otherwise sullen, emotionally-charged album.

Megan Bonnell appears to be trying to break some new ground. Rather than succumb to the charms of electronic pop or folky saccharine sweetness found in much of today’s female-driven music, Bonnell instead takes the route most of us would try to avoid: going down the dark, desolate pathways to one’s most inner and fragile emotions, erring on the side of gloom and melancholy over joy and optimism. What results is an outstanding debut album that becomes cathartic as Bonnell’s vibrant, candid lyricism is matched by its potent, moody sound.

FINAL GRADE: A-
SIMILAR SOUNDS:
Sybille Baier – Colour Green (2006)
Vashti Bunyan – Lookaftering (2005)
Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me (2010)

We also had the pleasure of speaking to her about her album and her current tour:

Could you try to describe the tour with Emilie Mover so far?
It’s been very special!  I feel like the past year I did a lot of touring, but some of it was in Europe, and some in the States, and then a lot of it was flying to, say, Halifax, or Québec. It was nice this time to just kind of be playing a little bit closer to home at some of the smaller cities. And they have a real kind of a…heart to them. And then one of the most special parts was just getting to do it with somebody. You know, I’ve been playing solo, and lots of the time the band can’t come with me, and to sort of have a partner-in-crime in Emilie, it’s been really fun, and especially, just another girl in a similar situation, it’s been great to sort of share that together.

Following from that, you have played in “larger” cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Do you feel any sort of difference when you’re playing in a big city as opposed to, say, Waterloo, or Guelph, or London?
Yeah, I think it’s a little bit more intimate, and there’s also kind of a built-in appreciation. I do think that people that live in smaller towns and cities actually are really excited. They kind of plan nights around music that they like that come into town because it doesn’t always. Sometimes they have to go to bigger cities to hear the music, so, I think that I felt that for sure, just a real appreciation and excitement.

You grew up in a rural area in Caledon, surrounded by wilderness, and the themes and emotions in your songs are largely influenced by nature. How have you handled this fairly rapid transition to touring and playing in such large locations, and living in Toronto?
I think I was really keen not only to play shows abroad, but also just to travel, and so it felt like the perfect way to kind of take me there. It was extra satisfying seeing these beautiful, beautiful countries and cities, and knowing that it was what I’ve been working on my whole life. Being given that opportunity, it felt extra special. So I think there was just a deep appreciation and excitement that there wasn’t room for many other thoughts other than just being really, really happy.

In the past, you’ve commented that you feel many female musicians are disinclined to show too much emotion or intensity, especially toward men, and that you believe it’s perhaps out of a fear of seeming “crazy” or “needy”…
Well, I’ve found it’s a term that gets thrown around, like…it’s so dismissive to say, “Oh, she was crazy.”  I have totally been called “crazy”, and, personally, I think ‘crazy’ is good, better than ‘boring’, but I also think it’s kind of unfair. With Hunt & Chase, I think I kind of let it all hang out, and I’m glad that I did. I guess I feel like I kind of honed all the emotions that might be seen as a little bit much.

Do you feel that female artists, today, continue to struggle with feeling pressured to conform to certain values or images?
Yeah, I think so. Like in anything [when] you’re putting yourself out there, you leave yourself vulnerable. You’re kind of at the risk of being judged. But I also think that, in Toronto, there’s such a community of musicians, and you feel supported. There’s a real connectedness. You know, for a bigger city, it feels very small—in the music industry, at least—so I appreciate that. I couldn’t have done the last album without the support of my co-producers, Josh Van Tassel and Chris Stringer.

Is creating music, and the process of writing and putting together Hunt & Chase, a way for you to hold onto nostalgic memories and feelings?
I think so. Unintentionally, but…I just want to forever remember it. Most of my songs are kind of a remembrance of something I’ve encountered, and so it does kind of slip into my music since it’s a huge part of me. And I also just kind of love, like, if nostalgia had a sound, I love that sound, or what I imagine that sound should be. There’s a peacefulness, but also this hazy, haunting darkness in it, too. And I also think, when you remember things, you don’t remember them exactly the way they were, they’re kind of glorified without you even being aware of that, they’re sort of romanticized.

Does that also hold true for the painful memories? When writing Hunt & Chase, you had went through a break-up that set a lot of these feelings in motion, so was that album a way to be accepting of letting go?
For sure. It’s the cheapest form of therapy.  Making a song about something like that…it’s a way of processing and putting pieces together.

You have also referred to Hunt & Chase as being like a “dream sequence”, saying that it kind of “weaves in and out of the place you are, and the place you imagine to be”. So, where were you when writing the album, and where did you imagine to be?
I think a million different places as far as imagining to be. Some would involve time travel.  But where I was, physically, was usually either in Caledon, at my parents’ house, where I grew up. And then the other place would have been in my loft in Toronto where I was living at the time. A cavernous loft where my ex-boyfriend no longer lived—it was just me and my sad songs.  But it was for the best, because I got songs out of it. I won.

Final question, and it’s a timely one: If you could become a gold medalist in one Winter Olympics event, which one would it be?
I think hockey would be cool. I was watching [HBO’S] 24/7, and that kind of got me better-acquainted with the players, and now I’m really into it.

Were you into hockey much beforehand?
I like it. Again, I think that sound of the game reminds me of my dad and my grandpa, so, I like it for that.

Megan Bonnell’s debut LP, Hunt & Chase, is available now on Nevado Records. Megan will be performing in Toronto at The Drake Hotel on Saturday, February 15, with labelmate Emilie Mover. Doors @ 7PM, $10. 19+.

-Timothy Nicodemo
Katuwapitiya.com Contributor

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An interview with Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello

Gogol Bordello to play Toronto's Danforth Music Hall

After 14 years of being the forerunners of what critics have termed ‘Gypsy punk’ (commonly used to describe a hybrid of punk rock and traditional Romani music), New York-based Gogol Bordello have established a reputation for their manic live shows and distinct sound, its most prevalent element being the accented drawl of Ukrainian-born frontman Eugene Hutz. Last month, the group released their sixth studio album, Pura Vida Conspiracy, further pushing the Latin American tinge introduced on 2010’s Trans-Continental Hustle, yet still remaining indebted to the punk riffs and Romani folk music they have always been recognized for:

Questions of multiculturalism and ethnic juxtaposition have long pervaded their music and image, with rotating members of the band hailing from locations as disparate as USA, Russia, Belarus, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Israel, China, Scotland, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine. With the release of Pura Vida, these ideas are pulled out even further, as Hutz’s recent living in Brazil designates an even greater collocation of cultural and ethnic boundaries. Hutz recently took the time with us to address this issue, as well as reflecting upon the latest album’s ‘evolved’ sound, his perspective on contemporary electronic music, and why his mustache is just so damn good-looking:

 

What makes such a unique hybridity of Balkan and Latin American musical cultures so appealing to you? And what result is acquired by bringing the two together which might otherwise not have been found on their own, separately?

Yes, I have discovered firsthand that east Europe and Latin America, indeed, are kindred spirits. They are both children of chaos. And we as a band have definitely embraced influences of both. However, we are not in any way a musicologist research group, you know; we are primarily a rock band, and essentially, as a songwriter, I write whatever I darn please from my own perspective, and we play it however we want without looking back. That’s very important to know. Otherwise, we would be doing archaic music, you know, instead of progressive forward music. I believe in music breaking borders, not in signifying them.

A number of songs on the new album feel more ‘symphonic’, or more ‘dense’, compared to those found on previous album releases. Was there a different approach taken to songwriting, this time around? If so, how might it denote a shift, or evolution, in your sound?

We can proudly say we never made the same record twice, and indeed, this one is yet another step forward, particularly in melodic and symphonic direction. This record is about resonance with grand feeling of life. With all its ups and downs and all its madness, yet lurking light in there that keeps us all going. So it’s just happened that this batch were all big melodies. They just sound and feel big, and that’s all there is to it. It is indeed connected to the uplifting vision of life in general. And I’m very excited that we got the chance to express it and put it on this record properly, so nothing gets lost in translation. And that was largely successful because of a growing understanding of each other in the band.

Do you perceive audiences of different countries as receiving your music differently from one another? Or do you find the reaction to your music as being mostly ‘universal’?

I have to say “universal” reaction is what’s up! The universe is expanding and so are we! But really, I witnessed this wild response pretty much everywhere we went so far…

 ‘Gypsy punk’ is a relatively niche musical genre, yet you have been able to break out into more popular territory. How might you gauge the reasons for your widespread popularity and success, and how do you ensure you remain indebted to the ‘exclusivity’ of the genre, while still being accessible for a mainstream audience?

Okay, okay, let me do a little educating here, heheh…Obviously you don’t go to a store and see a section called “gypsy punk”. It doesn’t exist as a genre…The press got carried away here a little bit; in reality, Gypsy Punks was the name of Gogol Bordello’s third album, which then was also used by writers to describe a whole bunch of bands inspired by that album. But, essentially, I made that name up—nobody else. In the meantime, we didn’t even think about stopping on what we achieved and been moving forward with new songs and bending our sound every way we pleased, and having lots of fun with it. In reality, we were always a rock band with distinct style, yet no limitation…and therefore, our audience is limitless.

 The accessibility and popularity of computer technology since the early 2000s has led to an increased interest in electronic music recently. Some punk subgenres, in particular, have utilized synthesizers to various degrees. Will Gogol Bordello ever look to the electronic scene for influence or inspiration?

Actually, we have made a kick-ass electronic record back in 2003. I was in a full DJ swing back then, and I felt inspired by crossing electronic beats with Balkan riffs and whatnot. It was released under the title J.U.F. Gogol Bordello vs Tamir Muscat, and some people know about it. However, I didn’t feel so attached to it after all…Something about electronic music evokes the word “disposable”. And I don’t mean it in a condescending way, because I really like a lot of electronic artists, although never as much as Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits…Somehow, you LOVE those guys, and have less faith in music that was entirely formulated on a laptop. I prefer real life; I prefer PURA VIDA!

And finally: how does you keep your mustache so finely groomed and youthful-looking?

Well, that’s because I use “pura vida conspiracy” mustache wax, right?..Okay, okay, I think the real answer is that I just have generally strong hair. I really couldn’t give much fuck about some kind of grooming. My eyebrows, on the other hand…

Gogol Bordello is playing two upcoming sold-out shows in Toronto @ Danforth Music Hall  (August 19th and 20th). 

-Tim Nicodemo
Katuwapitiya.com Contributor

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An interview with Caveman

New York's Caveman

Caveman‘s dreamy self-titled sophmore album warms with its atmospheric synthesizers and rich harmonies. Nowhere is that more apparent than on stand-out track “In The City” which quickly has become my favourite song of the summer.

Based out of New York, the band has a sound that will hopefully take them far. Though their strengths do often shine through, it is a lack of variety that holds back this most-recent album back from reaching that next level. With that said, there is a lot to love. Here’s our conversation with with lead-vocalist Matthew Iwanusa:

You played a show in Toronto last month! How’d it go? Any highlights?
Toronto’s great! I ate some amazing sushi. But I think the highlight was our good dude Mikey Jones playing with Snowden. They got added to the show so we got to see him. It was great!

I was surprised to see Julia Stiles in your slick video for “In The City”. How’d that come into being?
I met her through some friends. She likes the band and we thought it would be the perfect fit. I’m really happy she did it. It turned out great!

I saw you play at SXSW 2012. Since then, I feel your sound has broadened to an almost anthemic level, what’s precipitated that change?
That was a fun show. I remember my monitor was completely blown out so I could barely hear anything. We’ve played a lot since then. A lot of it has to do with the way we react to each other. Everyone gets excited about what each other plays. We care about a big sound.

What’s the inspiration behind the name Caveman?
They paved the way.

How have you felt like your past experiences in other bands have helped/hindered your progress as a unit?
Our other bands had a real drive just like this one. I think they helped us understand ourselves as musicians. We were all in bands that were at different levels so everyone brings something different to the table.

It’s hard to stand out in a scene like New York’s, how have you been able to overcome that?
Not really worry about it. There’s a lot of great music and musicians in NY. If you accept it, it works to your advantage. No reason to get down about it or over think it.

What are albums that you guys currently have on rotation while on tour?
Well we probably listen to the Stone Roses at least once a day. I’ve been listening to this Jacco Gardner record a lot and I love the DIIV record. Throw some Tears For Fears in there and you’re at the next city.

Freestyling is an important form of expression in hip hop. If you had to freestyle four lines about your new album, what would you say?
Listen to my shit.
It’s what you want to hear.
Then come hang after.
Help us load out the gear.

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