A look into the thoughts of genre-transcending bass producer hailing from Jackson, Mississippi, TVBOO. Check out his newest release, “Tantrum.”

KSDT: Who are your musical influences?

TVBOO: Blink 182, Bring Me The Horizon, Jantsen, Attila, G Jones… The list never ends, I get influenced by someone new everyday.

KSDT: What movie could you see yourself doing a soundtrack for?

TVBOO: I feel like if they remade The Matrix or Mortal Kombat I’d be their dude.

KSDT: What would you say is your defining quality?

TVBOO: I’d say my style. Nobody can really explain my genre. Not heavy enough for the dub DJs, not weird enough for the Wook DJs, too heavy for the trap DJs. I don’t try to make a certain thing when I produce, I just make what comes naturally, and if that’s a booty song then so be it. I also get inspiration from comedy so if I’m laughing in the studio, I’m usually flowing. I just like to have fun in the studio and try not to worry about what people will think about it.

KSDT: How has being raised in the South affected your experience as a musician?

TVBOO: I’d say it made me work harder than most. People in big cities with big scenes have opportunities to network and perform and work with other local artists. I didn’t have that. No one [in the place] where I’m from was into what I was doing, so it made me grind it out way harder so I could make it out. Also, my parents were hella supportive. Really proud of where I’m from, I wouldn’t of wanted it any other way.

KSDT: What DJs do you enjoy seeing live?

TVBOO:

Jantsen has the best live edits in the game.

Klutch puts all of his emotions into his sets.

Zeke beats is a beast on the ones and twos.

Griz makes me smile.

Odesza makes me wanna be a better person.

Bassnectar stage production is next level.

RL Grime makes me wanna shake my ass.

Porter Robinson makes me wanna call my mom and tell her I love her.

Find more from TVBOO on SoundCloud.

 

My introduction to the music of Polly Jean Harvey was through ‘The Dancer,’ the final track of her 1995 album To Bring you My Love. It was a desperate song– I almost felt shameful listening to it, as if I was imposing, listening in on something I shouldn’t be. It was her raw vulnerability, that sense that I was eavesdropping on the middle of a crisis that fused my ears to the rest of her discography. 

Choosing at random, I opted for her 2007 album White Chalk. Rather than the split-open lava of her 1995 release, White Chalk was a slow burner. On tracks like ‘Grow Grow Grow’ and ‘When Under Ether’ Harvey whispers her secrets to us, enveloping darkness into lullabies and woozy piano-based ballads. The songs speak to trauma and loss, in a voice that grows softer and more reserved as each track progresses. There couldn’t be a greater difference between the PJ Harvey of White Chalk and the Harvey of To Bring You My Love.

This is the key to Harvey’s music – she always plays characters, macabre ones, shy ones, brash ones. She burst onto the scene as the emboldened, crude Polly Jean, roaring at us in ‘Rid of Me; “I’ll make you lick my injuries / I’m gonna twist your head off, see.” On the album of the same name, PJ operates from a place of instinct; growling, shrieking. The entire album is an outburst, the result of holding back nothing.

No one could predict what forms this voice would take over the next few decades, packaged in synth-laden tracks, 4-track punk-inflected pieces, political songs written on the auto-harp. With PJ, you must always expect the unexpected. There is no ground she will not cover.

Written by DJ Phenomenology at KSDT.

The scene: high school prom. The location: Croydon, London. Rather than sultry suggestive slow dancing or cool-cat shuffling, all the bodies in the room are jerking, twisting, convulsing. That’s because the soundtrack to this moody night is the notorious sound of south London – dubstep. I’ve spent many nights moving counterintuitively to the screeching frequencies of this genre. Many happy mornings with my ears ringing as a result.

And yet there would be no dubstep, no soundtrack to my high school years, without the foundation of Garage music. The genre, birthed in the late 1990s in London’s club scene, often gets forgotten in wider music history. It’s easy to dismiss its chopped up drum breaks and pitched up vocals as basic staples of dance music, but we forget the radical shift these elements contributed to UK house music in general.

Admittedly I am biased, my early years were laden with the genre – my mother would play her euphoric house compilation which consisted of a series of garage classic remixes. And with So Solid Crew, Oxide and Neutrino, and Artful Dodger eventually taking over the scene, the genre was solidified in my eyes as one of the most unique, London-specific genres in dance music. Garage, as with most genres of music, is more than its beats and rhythms, but is a point around which we can navigate the entire culture of London and its relentless commitment to loudness, to shameless dancing, to putting the music before all else.

Garage may be undervalued, but its legacy continues on in the moments within modern music where we hear broken drum patterns, time stretched vocals, adrenaline-infused bass. For those of who have traversed London’s club scene, specifically overpaying for entry to Fabric on a Saturday night to hear some deafening grime and breakbeat, we have garage to thank.

Written by DJ Phenomenology at KSDT. 

I never thought my neck would have hurt so much after a night of head-bobbing, but there’s something about Moonchild’s sound that makes you continuously groove. Whether it’s in the irresistible backbeats, the colorful horn harmonies, or the soothing melodies coming from lead singer Amber Navran, Moonchild’s show on November 11th resulted in a whole night of groovin’, thanks to the release of their biggest album yet, Voyager.

Recorded entirely in a cabin at Lake Arrowhead, Voyager feels organic and naturally soulful, even with the inclusion of synths and the occasional glitchy beats. “We bond a lot in nature, and musically, hidden in the tracks there’s a lot of nature sounds” says keyboardist and trumpet player Andris Mattson, perhaps in reference to the bird song samples on their lead single “Cure”.

“We all have set ups at our houses so most of what we do is home recording” says Amber, “but what’s nice about Arrowhead is we’re all in the same place, because we live spread out throughout LA so it’s nice to just live in the same house and bounce ideas off each other quickly.”

The group originally met as jazz students at USC Thornton School of Music (like many students here, they made their first recordings in practice rooms). “It’s nice to be in a community of musicians, because before college it was hard to find people who were really passionate about it, so just being around that energy is really cool” says Amber. “A lot of our stuff will have horn breakdowns or horn solos, and we picked up a lot of arranging skills in college. Now, we don’t necessarily write everything out, but Amber can, when she’s not singing, record this flute solo for a track and know what voicings work well from music school” adds Andris.

After a few small recordings, they released their debut album Be Free in 2012, and grew bigger after the release of their most popular song yet, “Don’t Wake Me” in 2015. Today, having toured and recorded with everyone from Kamasi Washington to Jill Scott and Stevie Wonder, Moonchild’s music seems to resonate well with artists from across the soul spectrum, and they reflect that in their own tastes as well they cite everything from Emily King and Noname to Roy Hargrove and 9th Wonder as current inspirations. Most recently, The Internet recruited them to open their fall tour. “We’re doing this tour with the Internet now and that wasn’t initially the plan, we were going to record this time, but they asked us to open for them and we were like ‘Fuck Yeah!’” says Andris. After the tour, Moonchild plans to spend the winter recording their next album and preparing to perform in new venues across the globe, as far as Indonesia and South Africa.

Regardless of their growth, the group continues to stick to their Jazz and DIY roots. On the state of the sound today, they show that Jazz is the best it’s been in a long time, and that talent and artistry stay crucial in the music industry. “There are platforms now that are glorifying the musician, and now you have all these instrumentalists that are establishing huge names for themselves just by playing their instrument, whereas before it was more the front people that get the attention,” adds Andris, “Jazz as a genre has evolved into a bunch of different things.”

After they ended their night at the loft, the group rushed towards their open table in the back, right next to the bar. Taking pictures, signing T-Shirts, and saying “Thank You” to every fan that came out, Moonchild’s show was not only an exercise in soul, but also an exercise in musicianship. Look out for what they come up with next!

***

Listen to Moonchild

Interview & article by Tino Tirado and Needhi Sharma

Gliding through warm water in the furthest-back parts of your mind until submerging completely in it, immersed in the reflections of stars– there’s something about The Marías and their seamless, psychedelic pop-soul-funk that creates waves in your soul, blending the ocean into a painted sky across the horizon. “It’s like if you were in a pool, but it were the temperature of a hot tub, so you could swim through it at night and see the mist rising into the air,” says lead singer María, “it’s all the senses that just feel good and look… beautiful.”

Kicking off their tour with a show at The Loft at UCSD, The Marías led the crowd through the tracks from their newest release, Superclean, Vol. II, and further back in their discography. “We record everything right in our living room,” says drummer and producer Josh Conway, “booking a studio, paying by the hour… that type of deal can sometimes be stressful and halt creativity.” María adds, “it’s just like a camera– it doesn’t matter as much what type you have, it matters more who’s behind the camera and what’s done with it.”

m3.jpgThe Marías, consisting of María, Josh, guitarist Jesse Perlman, pianist Edward James, bassist Carter Lee, and trumpet player Gabe Steiner, bring together a mosaic of backgrounds that create the foundation for their distinct style. “I get ski lodge vibes from the stuff we make,” says Carter, “fireplace, rug, all that warmth.” With influences ranging from blues to Spanish rock, each song transports its audience through time. “I lived in New Orleans for some time… I sometimes find myself doing things in live shows that may be derived from stuff I picked up when I was there,” says Edward, “I grew up on the music… when I was in high school, I’d always drive people but they’d constantly have to listen to recordings from, like, the 90’s.”

Superclean, Vol. II is packed with songs that capture the band’s essence. ‘ABQ’ proves to be a consistent favorite with the members– “it’s one of the most out-there songs we’ve put out, so I always look forward to playing it,” says Jesse. “I like ‘Ruthless,’ since it’s been such a long time coming,” María says, “it was written about five years ago and went through, like, ten different versions.” “It’s the song she played at the Laurel Canyon revival show where we met,” Josh adds.

“My favorite is ‘Cariño,’” says Edward, referring to the gentle, jewel-toned ballad, “I don’t really speak Spanish myself, but the song has that transcending quality of music that lets me understand it.”

“My mom’s side of the family is from Puerto Rico, so from that side I get salsa, merengue, even reggaeton,” explains María, “We were obsessed with reggaeton. And then from my dad’s side, I get flamenco, classical guitar, Spanish rock… I can’t name one single artist that I draw inspiration from, but the overall influence from so many is there.”

“I definitely see it, even if some of it is a little subconscious,” agrees Josh, “‘Basta Ya’ and ‘Cariño’ started off with just melodies that María sang, and I think it was the Spanish influence that ultimately made us think the song should be in Spanish. We don’t really choose what’s going to be in Spanish or English, it just happens.”

‘Cariño’ was the first release from Superclean, Vol. II, accompanied by a music video shot between rolling hills and vast fields against red and white backdrops. “I feel like the color red symbolizes sensuality, passion, and also that fiery Latin influence again– like, my mom’s favorite color was red,” María reflects, “that’s why it shows up so much throughout our work. When the song is written, if we visualize something we do a video for it, but if we can’t, we don’t want to…” “Force it,” Josh finishes, “All the videos that have been up have had a very clear vision.” From its red and white outfits to dance moves and dogs, the video for ‘Cariño’ exudes pure love; especially after hearing about Gabe’s encounter with tiny bugs in the field where they recorded as he played the horn, ‘Cariño’ hints that love doesn’t have to be perfect– which is exactly what makes it so beautiful.

The Marías embody the desire to feel. Between vocals bouncing back and forth, soul-strumming guitar and bass lines, and wistful horn solos materializing into cheers from the audience, their collective warmth could melt a glacier. Every object, every note, and every word, is strung together as it comes; everything is purposeful, but nothing is forced. The group has the rare quality of simply clicking into place, both on and off stage, which lets them connect so deeply with such a broad audience. Even with such different backgrounds, their organic creative process lends itself to a unique yet universal story told through each song.

Some stories can only be told by certain people, and The Marías continue to share gems not found anywhere else.

***

Listen to Superclean, Vol. II and more here.

Interview by Tino Tirado and Arya Natarajan.

Photographs by Aili Hauptmann.

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Last week, I caught a concert in Solana Beach by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, a funk jam band hailing from Baltimore. One of my friends, a Deadhead who attends several concerts a month, recommended it to me as “the best in-concert experience” he has ever had; this is a guy who spent an entire week listening to Phish in Madison Square Garden. It seemed like high praise, especially from him, so I had to check them out. I gathered a couple other music lovers who were also unfamiliar with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and we headed over to the venue, Belly Up: an excellent music venue packed with great ambience, killer acoustics, and enthusiastic listeners.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong created the perfect vibe for a small venue concert. Though it seemed that most of the audience was new to their music, their energy and presentation carried through the entire crowd. They had unrivaled on-stage presence, engaging more and more with each song. It felt like they were part of the audience themselves, responding to its every dance move.

The audience was universally letting loose, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong continued for two hours without so much as a pause. Their set was perfectly flowing, never monotonous, and always had you guessing the next song while keeping you completely in the loop. The guitarists and the bassist had great chemistry, exchanging riffs as if they were talking to each other. The drum solo was the highlight of the night, coming in between two wonderfully melodic pieces, and stole the show suddenly and superbly.

All in all, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong was definitely one of my best concert experiences. There were no crazy antics on the part of the artists, no bells or whistles; just pure musical excellence with incredibly engaging performers. They do over 200 shows a year, and if they end up in your area, I would highly recommend seeing them. Until then, find them on Spotify and Bandcamp– while you’re at it, definitely check out their 2014 album, Psychology.


Written by Avaneesh Narla

Catch Kugelblitz on Saturdays @8pm here on KSDT.org