Episode 21 - Berlin Dora
- 01. Fiona Brice - Berlin
- 02. foreverandever<3 - heliotrope (feat. Helh)
- 03. Ten Fé - Make Me Better (UNKLE Reconstruction)
- 04. Pantha du Prince - Frau im Mond, Sterne laufen
- 05. Rari - Birth
- 06. On Dead Waves - Blue Inside
- 07. The Amazing - Ambulance
- 08. VIMES - Esk
- 09. Niki & The Dove - You Want the Sun
- 10. Flock of Dimes - Everything Is Happening Today
- 11. Kyson - As the Mind It Changes
- 12. L I M - Comet
- 13. Bewilderbeast - Swimming II
- 14. beGun - Dora (feat. Ela Minus)
Fiona Brice is a classically trained orchestral composer, arranger and violinist. She has orchestrated arrangements for more than thirty studio albums by artists including PLACEBO, JOHN GRANT, ANNA CALVI, ROY HARPER, MIDLAKE, ED HARCOURT, KATE NASH, GEMMA RAY, SARAH JAFFE, VASHTI BUNYAN, HOWARD JONES, STEPHANIE DOSEN, SANDY DILLON, MICHAEL J SHEEHY, ANTHONY REYNOLDS and THE SEPARATE.
She also specialises in adapting songs and scores for concert performances eg. ROY HARPER LIVE AT THE ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL, GEMMA RAY LIVE WITH THE BABELSBERG FILM ORCHESTRA (Berlin), and ANNAKIN & THE ZÜRICH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA.
As a violinist she has performed and recorded with many high profile artists including KANYE WEST, JAY-Z, BEYONCE, LEMAR, MEATLOAF, LEONA LEWIS, IL DIVO, RUSSELL WATSON, KATHERINE JENKINS, KATIE MELUA, GORRILAZ, WESTLIFE, ROBBIE WILLIAMS.
She also collaborates as a songwriter, writes music for theatre, plays piano, keyboards, and sings.
Pantha du Prince
The name Pantha Du Prince came to Hendrik Weber in a dream. It would have had to: The Berlin-based techno composer-producer (whose moniker is French for “the panther of the prince”) makes some of the otherworldly electronic music around. It’s dreamy, but not somnambulant: The new Pantha album, The Triad, pulsates hypnotically, drawing the listener into a rich, uncanny whole that keeps revealing new layers with each listen.
“It’s a fantasy character,” Weber explains of the alias. “For me, the name is an open metaphor for a certain atmosphere I want to transmit — a poetic transporter for the concept behind the music. There is a certain romanticism in it. I try to find something that combines ear, eye, body, feet, and all the other senses, and also transcends these senses and brings them back into a holistic experience. It’s an entry into a world that is fantastic, but also very down-to-earth.”
Weber has carved out a unique space, not only in electronic music, but also the indie world generally. An early star of the influential Berlin dance label Dial thanks to the stunning one-two of Diamond Daze (2004) and This Bliss (2007), Pantha Du Prince made the leap to Rough Trade for 2010’s breakthrough Black Noise, which featured a notable cameo from Noah Lennox, a.k.a. Panda Bear of Animal Collective, on the single “Stick to My Side.”
The collaboration made a wider audience aware of what dance fans already knew: For all his floor-ready beats and theoretical approach (“A rave party for me is a psychosomatic organism,” offers Weber, whose background is in art history), Pantha Du Prince’s makes deliciously, approachably melodic music, full stop. “It’s layered and cinematographic,” says Weber. “I enjoy dancing very much, and I enjoy going through certain experiences of physical expression. At the same time, it’s not brainy music. It should work on all levels.”
That’s what The Triad does, in part due to a key decision that helped shape the feel of the album. “I wanted to use more voice,” Weber says. “The album is much more personal than the one before. Yes, it’s very heavily instrumental. But to give a space for this very direct, human appearance is also a liberating thing. It gives you the possibility to express more, and not be as self-contained. It’s a human touch — something that is soulful and more connected to a social environment. Black Noise was very much about me being alone in a small room in Berlin and composing. The Triad opens the structure to more human ways of interacting, not digitized ways of interacting. It’s not about Facebook; it’s about meeting up and jamming. I wanted to cut through the digital dust that surrounds us.”
Weber does most of his own singing on The Triad, and a handful of close collaborators also got on the mike. Though he’d been working on several of the tracks since 2012, recording in Berlin and L.A., the music began opening up once he headed to Swabia, in southwestern Germany, to record at the studio of friend and collaborator Joachim Schütz, whose setup included a full complement of vintage analog gear.
“They have all these amazing synthesizers there, from the CS-80 to the Synthi 100 to an ARP to various modular synth setups,” says Weber. “For Black Noise it was more about little snippets and samples, this combination of nature sounds and computer sounds. For The Triad, it’s not so much computer music; it’s more analog electronic music.” This studio’s natural surroundings provided inspiration, respite, and the occasional snack: “We were jamming and playing, and going for hikes in the woods, collecting and eating apples,” Weber says with a laugh.
The “we” was, you guessed it, a triad: Weber with Scott Mou, a.k.a. Mr. Queens, and Bendik Kjeldsberg of the Bell Laboratory, with whom Pantha Du Prince collaborated on 2013’s Elements of Light. “Three beings generated this album,” says Weber. “Most of the tracks come from my inner processes, but it was very important to have the other two. I worked in several setups, and you always end up with three people: Two people jamming and one person recording; or three people jamming and one recording. It was always this power structure of three. The cover art is something that is a basic structure in nature as well, and in digital reproduction. This is why you have these symbols and atmospheres on the cover that work with this energetic state.”
Beyond working out musical ideas, Mou and Kjeldsberg offered other kinds of inspiration. “Bendik is much younger than me, and it’s a very refreshing input,” says Weber. Mr. Queens, meantime, lends his ghostly croon to the glacial album opener and first single “The Winter Hymn,” and to “In an Open Space,” whose plucked strings and fuzzy low end slowly accrete sonic mass. Those tracks typify a wide-eyed vastness, intricate layers generated electronically but organic in feel, that permeates The Triad. Not to mention a newfound playfulness that adds light to the densely arranged tracks.
The title of “You What? Euphoria!” was borne of a studio misunderstanding. (Weber: “Wow, this was really euphoria!” Engineer Kassian von Troyer: “You what?”) “Chasing Vapor Trails” was written in a “classic painter apartment” with large windows overlooking Berlin that Weber, Mou, and Kjeldsberg lived in together while working on the album. “When you look into the sky it’s like you’re hovering like a massive spaceship,” says Weber. “Every day you have different vapor trails in the sky. It’s a formation that constantly changes, that you have breakfast to, listen to music to. It’s a visual and atmospheric environment that the record has.” “Lions Love” is named in homage to Agnes Varda’s film of the same title — which also ties into the album’s concept. “It’s about a triadic relationship between a woman and two men in Los Angeles,” says Weber, who caught the movie at a Varda exhibit while living and working in the Pacific Palisades. “I wanted to have this vibe: Agnes Varda, this strong person in film history — Godard called her the originator of the Nouvelle Vague. She was together with Jacques Demy, and I also love his movies.”
Weber’s love of film shows up as well in the title of “Frau im Mond, Sterne laufen.” “Frau im Mond is a movie by Fritz Lang,” he says. “The album is a lot about concrete utopia, and Frau im Mond is basically about a concrete utopia. It’s one of the first science fiction movies ever — they are building a rocket. I love the movie’s style: Germany in the 1920s, so much of this new-age vibe of end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, where you had these spiritualist movements.”
To support The Triad, Pantha Du Prince will be hitting the road—in a much different environment than that which greeted Black Noise.
“At first it was really an underground thing. In New York ten years ago, it was for a hundred people,” says Weber. This time around, he’ll be concentrating on festivals. “It’s basically a production that comes with a visual aspect: costumes, with us wearing masks and different objects on our heads, a light show, and video — and, of course, a trio onstage,” says Weber. “I will always play my solo sets. I’m already working on a club setup now, a small solo setup where I can also play for 500 or 600 people. But these will be very rare this year.
“We try to keep it limited,” Weber concludes. “We’ll be playing mostly festivals. As soon as the album’s out, we will see the way it goes and what kind of audience it will generate. I think it’s opening us up to a new category of festivals. You don’t know what happens with an album like this. It can go anywhere.”
RARI is the electronic music project of Raphael Jomaux, producer from Liège’s area, now based in Brussels.
Raphael has been obsessed with music creation for years. Having navigated through various music styles, he found with electronic music the right channel of expression.
As a self-taught producer, it took time and misfires to develop the style he actually thrives on. RARI is currently his main project, whose two first tracks have just been self-released. He is currently working on his debut EP while building a live setup.
With the project RARI, he aims at creating emotive tracks made of immersive and deep atmospheres, where brightness, melancholy, hope and rage are intertwined.
On Dead Waves
Heavy of atmosphere, rich in melody, rippled with an air of malice and flowing female and male vocals, On Dead Waves’ eponymous debut album is immediately arresting. You haven’t heard them like this before, but you might already know the two members. One is James Chapman, better known as Maps, whose critically acclaimed debut «We Can Create» was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2007, and whose latest album «Vicissitude» came out in 2013. The other is Polly Scattergood, the electrically-charged singer-songwriter who signed to Mute aged just 22 and whose second album «Arrows» was also released in 2013.
In their solo careers, each is known for their own branch of electronic music. Together, the parts add up to an unexpected whole, thanks in part to the two artists finding a different way of working together. «We’d both previously spent a lot of time alone and introverted in the studio», says Polly. «We enjoyed this new experience because it was all a bit unknown.»
The seeds of their creative partnership were sown in 2011, at a special event celebrating Mute at London’s Roundhouse. It took some time to clear space in schedules, but James and Polly reconvened in February 2014 to make good on the idea of working together.
James’ home studio in the countryside provided the perfect location, and the environment soon started to shape the sound of the music – the sense of calm feeding into the disquieting feel of the album, the landscape providing inspiration for the lyrics.
Speaking of inspiration, the pair cite art and imagery – from Edward Hopper’s sodium-lit scenes to Gregory Crewdson’s skewed suburban landscapes – which seemed more important to the feel of the album than any specific musical influences.
At this last showcase at Music Apartment, On Dead Waves will present a selection of songs from their self-titled debut album.
The Amazing inhabits an aural landscape that’s all its own: a panoramic, constantly evolving spectacle marked by layers of intertwining guitars, richly textured keyboards and a rhythm section adept at skewed tempos and a tendency to veer off in unexpected directions. It would take a shelf full of thesauruses to describe the Swedish quintet’s music, but one word that keeps reoccurring is “psychedelic,” a characterization that Christoffer Gunrup, the band’s singer, songwriter and guitarist, dislikes. “I hate the word,” he says. “I have no relation to psychedelic music or prog rock. Reine (Fiske, one of the band’s three guitar players) likes that prog stuff, and he’s very good with sounds, so he would be the one to blame for that.”
The mid-tempo music on Picture You has its own unique texture and timbre, but Gunrup, an ironic perfectionist who is always slightly dissatisfied with his work, would rather play music than talk about it. “I have no idea how to describe the songs [on any of my records]. I like and hate them all equally. If you theorize about the songs, it ruins the tension and passion. Just shut the fuck up and play, but play good.”
That’s just what the band did. Gunrup showed the band the songs before they went into the studio, but everyone improvised freely to bring the songs to vibrant life. “They do what they feel, “Gunrup says. “If I were to tell them what to play, it would be a lot less interesting.” The album’s basic tracks were cut in three intense days of studio recording, then Gunrup and keyboard player Fredrik Swahn added overdubs and vocals.
The music on Picture You is as compelling and enigmatic as expected. Atmospheric keyboards, twanging guitars, and Gunrup’s anguished crooning float through the slowly intertwining melodies of “Broken,” concluding in a hushed pastoral interlude of voice and chiming guitars. “Safe Island” floats on a sea of reverb drenched feedback, while meandering clouds of hypnotic lead guitar ebb and flow through a vast sonic space, finally colliding with an avalanche of distortion, highlighted by clusters of playful interstellar keyboard. “British guitar stuff,” Grunrup says dryly. “Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain – not that this song is as good as theirs, but it evolved it that direction.”
Stuttering James Brown-like guitar accents and a laid back funk beat drive “Fryshusfunk.” It’s a long meandering piece that moves from funk to jazzy prog rock, with classical organ inflections and the hiss of cymbal splashes, to a dramatic metal-like climax where everything falls into a whirlpool of distorted bass, guitar and organ. “The Headless Boy” drops a bit of folky Nick Drake-like melancholy into the mix. Autumnal keyboards, whispering slide guitar and lovely acoustic strumming compliment Gunrup’s aching vocal harmonies.
“We’ve evolved our ability to play together,” Gunrup says, “but I don’t see that as a good thing. I think it’s important to not know what’s going on, to always be surprised. That’s why we can’t repeat ourselves, we need to change a bit, need to improve a bit – constantly – otherwise we will be bored to death.”
Christoffer Gunrup has been playing music all his life, a serious musician, with a modest, self-effacing approach. “I’ve played drums, trumpet and guitar from an early age, not that I was any good. I had a band at University that released four albums as Granada.” The band was known for its slow tempos, dreamy songwriting and the heartfelt vocals of Anna Järiven. They composed collectively, but Gunrup was also writing his own songs. “When Granada was put in the ground, I started playing alone and realized that I needed to howl on the songs myself to get them to sound as I wanted.” Gunrup enlisted former Dungen guitarist Reine Fiske and drummer Fredrik Björling and started playing dates. “I played guitar, Reine bass and I ended up with a microphone in my face. I had never sung before.”
When the trio needed a name, Fiske offered The Amazing, England 1969! He imagined the band as an obscure trio playing some unknown festival in England in 1969. “All band names are rubbish,” Gunrup says, “but if you like the music, any name is OK.”
At an early gig, an engineer from the Fashionpolice studio discovered The Amazing. He helped them record their eponymous album. After a few personnel changes, they made their second record, Gentle Stream. The band for Picture You also includes Fiske on guitar; Fredrik Swahn on guitar and keys; bass player Alexis Benson and drummer Moussa Fadera. “We play because we’re friends,” Gunrup explains. “It’s all about playing music and hanging out, recording songs and getting the songs into this thing we do, that we never speak about.”
German Electronic duo VIMES comprises of Azhar Syed and Julian Stetter from Cologne, supported by drummer Johannes Klingebiel for their live shows. With only four songs released so far VIMES have already received international recognition and love. Thus far they have played well known showcase and international festivals including Eurosonic in Groningen, Great Escape Festival Brighton, First We Take Berlin & Reeperbahn Festival Hamburg. They've also been invited to play SXSW and Canadian Music Week.
In 2014, the band locked themselves away to focus on their highly anticipated debut album with German producer Jochen Naaf (Emeli Sandé, Xul Zolar). Following ‘Celestial’, ‘House Of Deer’ and ‘Upstairs’, ‘Ential’ is the first new track of their creative collaboration that showcases the band's development and once again climbed the Top 10 HypeMachine charts.
‘Their delicate, electronically processed songs of heartbreak are at once otherworldly and painfully human; think Wild Beasts’ sense of musical melodrama wedded to the techno lifeblood that flows through the band’s home city of Cologne and you’re, well, still not quite close.’ - Electronic Beats
‘There’s more than a whiff of Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor wafting around Azhar Syed’s wispy coo’ - The Line Of Best Fit
Niki & The Dove
Flock of Dimes
[ Jenn chose to share the narrative behind If You See Me, Say Yes through a letter from her close friend, writer Rachel Monroe…]
I’m sitting here in California imagining you in your house in North Carolina — I’m picturing an overgrown yard, those baby bunnies you were telling me about, the green hum of a country morning in spring. And of course the ghost of the city heard as a kind of absence: no sirens, no police helicopters, no strangers in the street yelling hilarious or terrible things.
At this point it’s been a year since you left Baltimore, where you grew up, where your family is, where you began playing music, where you started Wye Oak with Andy, where you were such a beloved and integral part of the community. “Baltimore, to me, is noise, and light, and excitement, and constant activity, and all the good and bad things that come along with that,” you wrote me. I know what you mean when you say that Baltimore is overwhelming in the best and worst senses of that world, and you were worried that it was eating you alive.
Now you live all by yourself in a brand new place. And so when I listen to this new record, If You See Me, Say Yes I think about how when you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to another. And how this record is a kind of monument to those moments when you’re poised on the precipice, that feeling of diving into the new but at the same time looking back at what you left behind. When you’re on an edge like that, both sides — where you’ve come from, where you’re going — are in such sharp relief, and I feel like this record comes out of that intensity. From “Birthplace” to no place at all, from a deep history to a future in flux. Maybe that’s why so many of these songs are built around these ecstatic moments when it feels like something is spilling open, or breaking through, from the cosmic dancedream of “Minor Justice” to the soaring reassurance of “Everything Is Happening Today.” Or “Semaphore,” a signal sent from a distance, an attempt to bridge the infinite space between two people (or two cities).
It’s also powerful to listen to this record and to think about the three years of work that went into it — from the initial recording in Baltimore (with Mickey and Chris Freeland), to the process of refining and tweaking (alone and with friends in Durham, Brooklyn, and beyond), to the mixing in Dallas (with John Congleton). And also that it’s the first record where you’ve done the bulk of the work — writing, playing, producing— yourself. When you wrote me, you said that making this record on your own after having spent so much time making music in close collaboration was harder than you expected, but also liberating. I can hear that in the songs, too — so many of them are about being lost, and being free. Maybe because we’re both living alone now (how grown up of us!) that this sounds to me like a record made for dancing alone in your room with your eyes closed. (Okay, or with very good friends.)
When you write about creativity, you always talk about the various competing versions of yourself, the Jenn who tells you you’re being selfindulgent, that you should be out saving the world (whatever that means), and also the workaholic Jenn who never wants the record to be done—who identifies with Arthur Russell, for whom declaring a song finished felt like a kind of death. But the songs on this record seem to come from another Jenn — the version of yourself who “believes in magic, and love, and the mysteries of the universe and shit like that,” as you put it. The Jenn who loves making songs more than anything. I guess what I mean is, I’m so glad you let that Jenn say yes to making this record.
Kyson is composer/producer/vocalist Jian Kellet Liew. The Adelaide-born, Berlin-based artist sees music as the platform through which he feels most comfortable - projecting his imagination through musical narratives; embracing and documenting the images and sounds of the world he’s traveled - from the chaos and cacophony of bustling cities, to the peaceful, sun-drenched comfort of his own hometown.
Kyson weaves together layers of foggy synths and his own smeared, gauzy vocal take into a chilly, slowly shifting web of sound - (Pitchfork)
Kyson's tracks have an uplifting, self-reflective quality - (XlR8R)