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Alt Pop





Edith Pop turns the lights on in "Tokyo" reinvention

With her penchant for dark-hued chanteuse pop torchery, glammy haute couture makeovery, and primitive protozoan punk rockery, I’d find it believable if you told me that Edith Pop was birthed from a test tube combining strands of DNA stored over the years from Edith Piaf, Edith Head, and Iggy Pop (yes, the latter is technically still alive, but clearly his DNA was donated to rock ’n’ roll science long ago and replaced by strands of barbed wire) thus inspiring the stage name of Edith “Edith” Pop.

Or not. But I’m sticking with my theory given how Edith Pop combines the theatricality and musical properties of pop, glam, and punk in her musical persona—not to mention borrowing Iggy Pop’s famous incorporation of foodstuffs on stage (I recently witnessed Ms. Pop prepare a steaming pot of vegetable soup at a live show, chopping the vegetables, boiling them in a hot pot, and ladling out the product to her audience all the while performing songs on stage.





Then again it’s easy to make such wild conjectures given how Edith Pop has deliberately erased much of her digital history outside a few recent musical collaborations (more info below) and a few older scraps left behind from when “Edith Pop” was a band (more info below) all culminating in the Sneaker-Pimps-meets-Shirley-Manson musical renewal of “Tokyo” (a song about losing oneself, and reinventing oneself, in a hotel room/womb far away). But hey luckily I scored a phone interview with our leading lady. So keep reading to get the inside scoop from the artist herself right after the DELI exclusive video below—a Cindy Sherman-esque photo montage capturing the Many Moods of Ms. Pop...........

 

On her musical roots and the invention of the Edith Pop persona:

EP: Music saved my life and helped shape my entire personality, starting with my dad who was a musician. And then when I got into punk rock I finally found something that spoke to my anger and dissatisfaction with suburban experience growing up upstate. That’s what moved me and made me want to make music of my own which I did in a hardcore band called Pandha Pirahna.

Then I got really into glam music—classic stuff like T.Rex and the New York Dolls, the music plus the decadence and excess and theatricality that was part of the genre. A lot of the Edith Pop alter-ego came out of that—but in the guise of a debaucherous, excess-driven teenage girl. Someone obsessed with themselves and consuming everything from media to drugs to boys. 

On the unmaking and remaking of Edith Pop:

EP: At first “Edith Pop” was this personality where I could express myself in new ways and go to places I couldn’t or wouldn’t before in my music and live shows. (editor's note: live shows described in one previous press profile as “cathartic” musical exorcisms of a “teenage alter ego” in which Edith could be found “seduc[ing] her audience by sprawling on the floor, mounting the mic pole, and other such provocations.”) I started a band, also called Edith Pop, with my best friend who was already on the indie scene, and we developed a following and got some press. The turning point was when I sold a song to Steve Madden. At that point it’d all gotten wrapped up in this corporate-driven brand-driven influencer thing, and I lost track of the art in it and the whole reason I wanted to make music in the first place.

This persona I’d created was kind of destroying my personal relationships. It all shifted—I realized it was out of control. When I first started making music, things weren’t so brand and influencer driven. When you’re pushed to put out content all the time, and to be networking all the time, it keeps you from making a meaningful connection to your art or to the people around you. I got fed up and took everything I’d created offline and out of circulation. (editor’s note: This is a great summation of the social media age: the conflict of content vs. art; online networking vs. IRL connection. Plus it sounds like Edith Pop has a good episode of Behind the Music in the works that is if the show still existed and were updated for the Internet Age.)  

On creating Edith Pop 2.0 and “Tokyo”:

EP: I finally realized this project could be anything I wanted it to be. Like David Bowie, I could remake Edith Pop at whim. Like if I wanna make a nearly hour long experimental track that’s based around an episode of Magic’s Greatest Secrets, because I’ve been binging the show on Netflix, that lines up with the episode perfectly as an alternative soundtrack, I’ll do it.

With “Tokyo” I had this mental image of being in a big, tinted-glass hotel room way up in the sky. In a sleek, clean, hyperreal space, dreaming about video games at night. The song itself was birthed all at once and unexpectedly. It started when I met this guy at a party in LA, and we connected immediately as fellow New Yorker. His name’s J. Randy and once we got to talking music he said “I’m at this great studio right now, you should come through. I’m gonna lay down a track with my friend Dae One who’s a producer who’s worked with some well-known names in hip hop.”

I went to the studio and it was all tied to something called the M.O.B. Collective which stands for Music Over Business so that’s perfect. Their mission is to bring together emerging artists with established artists. I went into this beautiful studio and immediately started working on the track, and it all came together from scratch in just a couple hours, and it perfectly captures the mental image I had in mind.

On working with producer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Meviu§ and on the future:

EP: The other few tracks I’ve got available to the public right now are collaborations with Meviu§. (editor’s note: previously profiled in The DELI!) They’re all on Spotify. I got to know Daniel (aka Meviu§) when he was tour manager for another band I was in called A Place Both Wonderful and Strange. He’s really open-minded and creative, and he eventually started playing with us and did a remix of one of our songs. So when we stopped playing live we decided to start making tracks together and our collaboration grew from there. We have a song coming out soon called “Ghost (remix)” which is a remix of a song where the original’s never been released!

EP: I’m going to keep remixing Edith Pop. Literally. It’s a new phase. Edith Pop is like a character that now exists outside of a specific time who rejects modernity. She lives outside set timelines or set expectations, even my own. (Jason Lee)





Alt Pop

Time: 
19:30
Band name: 
Freddy Hall
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
www.facebook.com/iamfreddyhall
Venue name: 
Jammin Java
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Alt Pop

Time: 
20:00
Band name: 
Freddy Hall
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
www.facebook.com/iamfreddyhall
Venue name: 
Rockwood Music Hall
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Alt Pop

Time: 
21:00
Band name: 
sautereau
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/iamsautereau
Venue name: 
The Bitter End
Band email: 
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Scam Avenue self-titled LP is a breakout break-up album

Last month the band Scam Avenue unveiled a long-playing record titled Scam Avenue and maybe you know how the whole self-titled thing is often shorthand for an intimately-revealing-or-even-autobiographical record which appears to apply here. At the very least, Scam Avenue is a marked departure from the pair of EPs they put out in 2015 and ‘16 (Mercury and Sailor, respectively) comprised mostly of hook-laden-lushly-produced-yet-minimalistic-coldwave-infused-electropop-with-a-guitar-peeking-through-every-now-and-again-songs-suffused-with-a-playful-sense-of-sensuously-inclined-tightly-coiled-sexual-tension which just happens to be a verbatim description of my favorite niche category to be found in the CD bins of Tower Records back in the day when physical media and highly-hyphenated genres ruled the roost.

In the intervening years Scam Avenue released but a single single—a song called “Jailbird” with lyrics about “the history you now disown” and “a crisis of your very own” (so long, flirtatious electropop!) featuring some of the moodiest saxophone interludes (played by Stephen Chen of San Fermin fame) to be heard this side of Tears For Fears' early repertoire, played atop a downbeat, descending chord progression and a skittering breakbeat style rhythm, culminating in a tremulous upper-register sax cry sustained for the better part of 30 seconds that all taken together could lead even Roland Orzabal towards a call to check in and make sure you’re doing ok—a song that (as it turns out) served as a fitting precursor to the new album and which is fittingly included on said album.  

So it’s no surprise to learn that the band’s principle-but-not-only-songwriter-plus-producer-guitarist-synthesist Laurence Kim had been through some stuff in the preceding years (and hey haven’t we all!) which he himself describes with admirable candor on the band’s Bandcamp page: “I had been in a relationship with someone and it came to an end. That was the inspiration for about half of the songs on the album. In addition, I had already been working on some other songs, which were in various stages of completion. So the album wasn’t conceived as a break-up album, but it could be viewed in that way. Each song can be seen as an expression of some aspect of that central theme.” 

So there you have it and kudos to the band for not putting out any music in the interim because who really who wants to hear a bunch of I’m-so-happy-and-fulfilled-in-my-current-long-term-stable-relationship songs. Scam Avenue has instead admirably jumped straight from the coy, flirtatious phase of romanic infatuation depicted on their initial EPs to the post-breakup-baroque-electro-indie-rock cri de coeur statement of their debut full-length, a worthy new entry to the canon of classic break-up albums like Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak, and Kermit the Frog’s Unpigged. And hey, I bet you didn’t know that the birth of the LP format as a medium for popular music owes its existence to a certain fedora-wearin’ mafia-lovin’ artist’s desire to explore and express the various facets of post-separation bereavement and if you don’t believe it I recommend you watch the enlightening video below.

Back to Scam Avenue, you can tell that this album’s gonna be a a melancholic headtrip from its very opening moments when “Fevers Fade” fades in on a burbling, circling synth arpeggio complete with knob-twisting timbral warping (*insert joke here about romantic withdrawal and knob-twisting*) which I’d say is musical semaphore for “help I’m stuck deep inside the folds of my own grey matter but hold up it’s not so bad in here and not so bad retreating from the world at large and just tripping out on my own emotional fluctuations and whatever else I got laying around” (the track’s duration is exactly 4:20 if you get my gist and I’m guessing that you do) an impression only enhanced with the layer-by-layer entrance of Nate Smith’s dead-eyed disco beat and Julie Rozansky’s goth-funk bassline and singer Devery Doleman’s airy falsetto haltingly reciting the opening lines (“blood / in the water / falls / like a flower / feels like fate / fevers fade”) after which even more layers of swirling synths and choppy rhythm guitar and plinky piano melody and bass guitar lead parts are introduced before the song folds back in on itself, ending back where it started with the isolated arpeggio line.

It’s really quite the low-key tour de force so it was a wise sequencing decision on Scam Avenue’s part to follow it up with the floaty-retro-dream-poppy ballad “To the Quick,” a song that’ll make you wanna go Julee Cruising Into The Night and maybe I should mention here the highly-relevant fact that Devery and Julie also play together in a Twin Peaks/David Lynch-themed band called F*ck You, Tammy (if you've seen Twin Peaks: The Return you’ll get it) which seems to have strongly informed this song because it's got some strong Roadhouse vibes for sure. 

And here’s a fun fact you probably won’t care about but I’ll share it anyway—the first post-Covid lockdown gig that I attended was seeing F*ck You, Tammy in mid-May 2021 playing outdoors in rural Pennsylvania in front of a drive-in movie screen as part of a weekend long tribute to (and viewing of) David Lynch’s filmic oeuvre at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater (the only drive-in in the world still screening 35-mm movies on the regular for all you b-movie cineastes out there) and lemme tell you it was a gig both wonderful and strange. 

Anyway it’s probably clear by now that I’m starting to lose concentration and anyway you don’t need me to spell out the rest of Scam Avenue for you (the band or the album) so just move on to the heart-rending harmonies of the six-minute-plus “Destroyer” which I’d say is one of the best aching-with-longing-indie-pop-epics since Lush’s “Desire Lines” (ok ok I’ll stop now) and keep going. And if you have any more questions I recommend you head out to the nearest forest clearing and throw some stones at a bunch of empty bottles. (Jason Lee)

photo by Ebru Yildiz

 

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