Costa Rican producer mntjy’s debut album her note may be the best example of the power that the internet has in 2016. It’s loaded with post-regional sounds, combining the lonely, unsettling atmosphere of hypnagogic pop artists like Dean Blunt & James Ferraro with the murky r&b of acts like PARTYNEXTDOOR and DVSN. Paying homage to his birthplace, he also tops it off with both English and Spanish vocals and samples over the beats. It’s one of the few alternative pop releases that takes a new angle on the genre, one that’s been worn to death over the past few years. her note is a must-listen for anyone looking for a starker, stranger take on the nocturnal sound that dominates radio stations and playlists across the country. Listen to her note below.
Is there anything more beautiful than watching club kids wander around, smoke cigarettes, and pop wheelies. Literally — maybe, sunsets are objective nice but are not the best fodder for music videos. What I am trying to say is that this video is the next best thing to a sunset and I mean… listen to those tones. You can also find this song on your favorite website Soundcloud.
Last year, I came across Boston rapper Cousin Stizz through his “No Bells” music video, and was instantly hooked. “No Bells” is still one of the very best songs of 2015, and the mixtape it came off of, Suffolk County, was one my favorite mixtapes of last year. It’s chock-full of laid-back, uber-charismatic weed rap that’s perfect for long car rides and moments of positive self-reflection. It is with great pleasure, then, that I can say that he’s topped his debut with the follow up, MONDA. Featuring a more developed, unique flow from Stizz to go along with stronger and more varied production from up-and-comers Lil Rich, Dumdrumz and Tee-WaTT as well as Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Drake collaborator Cardo, MONDA is consistently quality throughout, with highlights scattered across the entirety of the 14-song tracklist. “500 Horses” does 2015 Drake better than 2015 Drake did 2015 Drake, “Gain Green” may be the wooziest song to ever motivate you, and “Big Fella” takes a gorgeous, soul-sampled beat and pairs it with Stizz’s best verses to date, making it a serious contender for 2016’s best rap song. With the constant flow of rap music stuffing the Internet every day, it can be hard to see what is truly worth it. Which is why it’s so important for Cousin Stizz to be supported, and why you need to go and listen to his mixtape. His music is not indebted to trends or waves; it is built for listening today, tomorrow and ten years from now. MONDA is only a few weeks old, but it feels and sounds built to last. Stream MONDA below and download it here.
The club is full of righteous anger.
How did a place both wonderful and strange come together?
Russ: A place both wonderful and strange was me originally, which sounds super egotistical, but originally I was in a band called Silent Draperunners and we broke up because my bandmate just wanted to be a journalist which is super awesome but I sort of wanted to continue on this path. My issue has always been that like as a dude, i’m not super into just wanting to be a cis gender white dude stomping around and making noise music. so if there’s not a female energy to bounce off of, I kind of don’t want to do it. So when my last collaborator and I split ways, Shanda, Laura, and I started talking about working together
Shanda: I was in a band previously for about 5 years, unfortunately it ended in a very traumatic way, with an act of violence perpetrated against me. At that point I had known Russ for about a year. I had lost everything I had been working on and Russ had also lost something, so we just decided to work together to try to make something new.
Russ: I kind of fancy myself as the witch house “The National”… just because I like vests and I drink a lot of wine
*raises wine glass*
Anyway, Shanda had written some lyrics to a beat I had written for my first project,
Shanda: Vanessa did the production for that one as well
Russ: Oh that’s right, my wife is on that track.
Laura: I would say it was kind of serendipitous when this happened, I didn’t really know Russ outside of his online presence, and I wasn’t acquainted really with Shanda – but the dynamic has really been very fantastic, balanced, and fun. They’re both creatively such mavericks, – Just like Sarah Palin
What is the concept behind this project? I’m assuming it’s Lynchian in nature.
Russ: The name behind the band is what it is just because… I had already gotten the tattoo. Just kidding, but a place both wonderful and strange was one of my favorite parts of Twin Peaks. In 2014, I think, I was approached by the David Lynch Foundation to do a show based around like everything they knew about me because I had done the Silent Draperunners thing for a minute and as a place both wonderful and strange my friend Lucy and I had toured a complete two and a half hour re-soundtracking of “Fire Walking With Me” through like 4 states (and that was goddamn impossible) –but they were basically like Lynch is doing an art opening in Philly and we would like you to do the afterparty and you have like 25 minutes. At the time the full blu-ray had just come out and I was super captivated by the pieces of “Fire Walk With Me” that Lynch had been forced to cut out of the movie by the studio. So I made a show based around those and some other stuff and it ended up becoming a thing that escalated to the point where we realized people didn’t necessarily care about the visuals but they wanted to hear the music because it was this improvised electronic noise that happened to be really sensitive, and I’m probably giving all this too much credit but it’s a noise record that doesn’t take it’s dick out and wave it around. It’s a noise record that doesn’t really even have a gender which i feel like is a thing that doesn’t really exist in the noise scene. There is either shit that Boomkat is like this is transcendental male shit or they call it like nauseating because it’s made by a woman… so
Shanda: The music industry in general, and the world in which we exist is male- dominated. It’s just something for me as a woman to navigate through and to add what I can, what artistry and quality I can to the world. I try to make people experience things maybe not necessarily through a filter of gender but through emotions.
Laura: I kinda feel like at least within the noise scene, it would seem as though the options are limited for women. Like you can either be angry or upset – but the great thing about [The Laura Palmer Deviations] it really allows the grander scope of experience to shine through.
Circling back to the last question, I connected with ‘Twin Peaks’ on a very visceral level, like ‘oh shit this is my home town’. This is a small weird community filled with these fascinating characters somehow co-existing without any real connection to time or logic.
David Lynch has always been a huge influence in any art that I make.
Russ: I think it’s because Lynch manages to take the completely weird and inaccessible and kind of force it down your throat, like telling the audience ‘no you do get’. a place both wonderful and strange is akin to this approach because we take seemingly disparate influences — Janet Jackson, found sound, noise music, David Lynch, extreme darkness and extreme light — and we process it into something that’s completely inaccessible around the edges until you start to experience it. It happens TO you, and it’s in the eye of that tempest that you realize it’s all actually familiar.
Do you have an conclusory remarks about Laura Palmer Deviations and what’s to come after the forthcoming album?
Russ: The record is going to be a version of the soundtrack to what originally initiated as the afterparty of David Lynch’s Unified Field Art opening in Philadelphia. It ended up becoming a touring/improvisational thing every night. What the record is, is multiple performances combined and edited into what is basically a perfect 22 minutes, edited by Partisan, the most amazing mix/master person I’ve ever met.
Shanda: He’s a frickin genius
Laura: He is
Russ: He is a genius. And uh [the record] will be interesting and emotional and moving if you just listen to it. Our goal is to have people listen to it and then come out to a show and our other goal is we want to turn around the third record very quickly because when we do shows that aren’t Laura Palmer based they are a lot pop-ier and this weird sludge noise thing isn’t where we are right now, we’re releasing it because a lot of people wanted it but it doesn’t reflect where or what we are right now. We are going to pop it up a bit in the future.
Make it Pop
This song made me want to devote myself to loving sincerely. Well I already wanted to do that, but this song affirmed my desire.
There is great beauty in discord. The vocals and drums in particular make this single one of the most engrossing pieces of music I have heard in a long time.
Interview conducted by Alex Wen.
Giacomo Casanova, Italian adventurer and famed womanizer, may have lived a few hundred years before Save Money’s Brian Fresco, but their shared penchant for smooth-talking brings them together for Fresco’s latest, Casanova.
Coming off the heels of Chance’s Coloring Book and Vic Mensa’s There’s Alot Going On, Casanova’s blend of sentimental confessions with tropical dance tracks make for a fitting continuation to Save Money’s summer takeover.
We catch up with Brian Fresco to chat hybrids, McDonald’s WiFi and Michael Jordan.
You just had a live show? How was it?
It was fucking crazy.
Was it the first show you headlined?
It wasn’t the first show I headlined, but it’s the first show where I got the venue and everything.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: who you are, what do you do?
I feel like I’m a hybrid. I’m just in my own world. There’s not many people who have grown up the way I’ve grown up, overcome the things that I’ve overcome, yet still seeing things they were able to see and bond with the people that they were able to bond with. I don’t quite want to say best of both worlds. I came from the projects, and I could still go back and people would embrace me. And I can also go hang on the Northside with some of my friends that grew up in huge ass houses.
You described yourself as a hybrid, can you elaborate?
It’s so much culture I’ve experienced throughout these short 20 years of life. I’ve seen so many different cultures, and it leaks into the music. I don’t think many people expand on…most people stick to one culture or one way of thinking. I open my eyes and mind and be open to everything. I like a lot of different views and different cultures.
You mentioned before that women like the music you make, why do you think that might be?
I think women like the music I make because women like it when a man makes them feel special. That’s my goal with my music, making everyone feel special. Women love hearing music that makes them feel special, whether it’s me making them feel special or them thinking of someone else that makes them feel special. This album is a smooth charmer. It’s going to charm the shit out of women.
Can you expand on your music-making process?
Usually, I have a certain feeling. With a lot of the songs that were created for Casanova, started from scratch, from a feeling. Trevor and I were just trying to paint that picture. That’s why he’s the executive producer for my project. Him and I are going to be doing a lot more things in the future because he sees the visions and feelings that I have so well.
How would you compare Casanova to your other projects?
It was definitely a harder process. With Mafioso, we would record at the house, that’s how me and Chance recorded “Greenlight”. We drove to McDonald’s, got WiFi, and downloaded the beat because there was no WiFi in the crib. At that time, I was younger. I’m 23 now.
When I created Mafioso, I was 17. I’ve definitely grown. As far as SoulMoney, that was a more polished approach. It was a joint project with one producer. It kept me in a certain sound. With Casanova, I was able to take all the growth from Mafioso and my experience from my whole life–I have a child now. My child’s mother was pregnant when I was creating Mafioso. Now I have a child here; it’s different, I have bills, stuff like that. From Mafioso, to SoulMoney, to Casanova, it just all comes down to growth and me being older and more mature.
How’d you get into music?
Kami from Leather Corduroy, that’s been my friend since 2nd grade and we would rap some of the stuff in grammar school–kind of since forever. We started to hang with most of the homies that are now Save Money and we weren’t all rapping like that. The original start was all friendship, we were all friends. We were all individuals that wanted to do bad things and get away with it. We had a lot of fun. When Vic dropped Kids These Days, it was like stupid crazy. We had sold out shows at the Metro. We were in high school–going to a show on a Thursday, and coming into school with a hangover the next day. That had a lot of influence on everybody to seriously pursue rapping. Honestly, without meeting Victor [Vic Mensa] and Save Money, I probably would be somewhere in jail. Meeting him showed me there was something bigger out here in the world.
How do you see Save Money now?
Save Money is just going to move forward as Save Money. We’re the first Save Money. People expect us as a group or collective, like A$AP and how they did it. We’re not them. They came together and made that their business, but we didn’t make that our business. We’re a bunch of friends that make music and we make music together. My latest project has Chance in it, he doesn’t still have to do that with me, but he’s my homie. We’re not a handout group–just want to say that. People have to do what they have to do to make it. Everyone is still going to support everyone and have everyone’s back. At the end of the day, we are still all individuals. We’re like a team full of Jordans. There’s no Scottie, no Rodman, no Paxson. It’s full of people that want to make it to the top.
What do you have planned coming up?
We’re going to put together a few shows, I may do another show here before the summer is over. I’m just so happy this project is out. I’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into this. I want to spread this project and really get it heard. Once people are listening, it’s going to spread like wildfire. I know it’s going to take me places. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, a few secret weapons. I’m not going to name them, but there’s a few people in my corner that got my back and understand what I do is good. Between me and them, I feel like the rest of this year is going to be terrific, all the way to next year. We’re going to have a big 2017.
Any last words? Why should people check out Casanova?
I want people to listen to this project because it’s a breath of fresh air with all the nonsense going on in this city and in the world. It’s just something different, something original, something heartfelt, it’s something with heart in it. It’s something I made with love. If you listen to it, you’ll feel that.
Follow Skinny on Soundcloud.
Crisp tones, brooding synths, and uplifting vocals all coalesce in this truly affecting banger.
I had the chance to sit down with the three members of ‘a place both wonderful and strange‘ the other day over Skype to conduct a pretty lengthy interview. Though I am still in the process of editing this piece, I wanted to include a small but weighty snippet with the premiere of their latest album The Laura Palmer Deviations.
What draws you to David Lynch and how does that influence your work?
Russ: Lynch manages to take the completely weird and inaccessible and kind of force it down your throat, like telling the audience ‘no you do get’. a place both wonderful and strange is akin to this approach because we take seemingly disparate influences — Janet Jackson, found sound, noise music, David Lynch, extreme darkness and extreme light — and we process it into something that’s completely inaccessible around the edges until you start to experience it. It happens TO you, and it’s in the eye of that tempest that you realize it’s all actually familiar.
“The Laura Palmer Deviations” is the soundtrack to a place both wonderful and strange’s acclaimed Twin Peaks audio/visual performance piece “Keys Open Doors: The Hidden Life of Laura Palmer” .
“The Hidden Life of Laura Palmer” as a performance, and “The Laura Palmer Deviations” as a recorded piece, works as a frayed and piercing tapestry between the band and other performers, touching on ambient, contemporary electronic, noise, and of course standard Lynchian sounds to “tell the secret tale of the final hours in the tragic life of Laura Palmer”.
When Throat Singing met EDM met Harry met Sally.