Fiendish Conversation with Damien Jurado

I’ve started writing for Seattle Met Magazine. Here’s my first piece, a short but revealing Q&A with Damien Jurado.

Check it out.

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Hossanas Feature From The Inlander

In the Highest

Portland band Hosannas takes a chance playing electronic instruments live.

Hosannas takes pride in bringing harmony to the incongruous. Onstage and on record, what pours out of the band, led by brothers Brandon and Richard Laws, are soaring electronics punctuated with light, delicate vocals. It’s a strange combination of the indie electronic world and the avant-garde.

It’s helped that the brothers are on the same page, musically speaking.

“Ten years ago, when Animal Collective came out, we got really into that,” says Brandon. “And Richard listens to a whole lot of experimental music; I listen to some. And we both just listen to tons of electronic music.”

After growing up in Santa Rosa, Calif., and attending different universities, the brothers — who both play synths, keys, guitars and sing — realized that they should to get back together and try making a career out of the music.

Today, the styles the band mashes together reflect the brothers’ intention to include elements from every style, from classical to classic rock.

“It’s kind of weird, because we’re really trying to throw together these really disparate elements and try and make them work together,” says Brandon. “Lately we’ve been listening to a lot of those ’70s classical electronic composers — the people that redo the classical composers’ music with synthesizers,” Brandon says. That stuff, suddenly, seems to pop it into their own music. Continue reading

MUTEMATH Feature From The Inlander

Anything But Typical

While many focus on the band’s videos, Mutemath focuses on the live set.

Mutemath produces videos that make OK Go look like playful amateurs. The latter are well-known for carefully orchestrated, one-shot videos that seem to go viral instantly, but look at the video for Mutemath’s 2007 single “Typical.” The band performs the entire song backwards in one take while incorporating visual elements ranging from Silly String shooting to paint throwing to the on-screen destruction of a keytar. The whole time, frontman and keyboardist Paul Meany perfectly nails singing the lyrics backwards. And, while that’s all very impressive, drummer Darren King actually learned to play his drum parts in reverse. Reverse!

The video earned the band a Grammy nomination.

The band hit another high note recently with its video for “Blood Pressure,” a stimulating clip that found its way onto VH1’s “Top 20 Countdown” at the end of 2011. And it’s not like they have a Hollywood studio at their disposal. They’ve achieved all of this with just one camera!

“So it’s whatever we can figure out to do with one camera,” Meany says. “Limitation has kind of been good for us.”

It would be easy to label Mutemath a “video band.” Or so sayeth the Viacom overlords: MTV dubbed the band a “You Hear It First” act and VH1 labeled them a “You Oughta Know” artist.

But when making its latest album, Odd Soul, Meany says, the band concentrated on identifying its biggest weakness. Continue reading