Wednesday, 16 December 2015

a kitchen conversation > with Paul Yendell

(these notes were hastily made after a brief chat with Paul Yendell
during Tuesday's Open Mic night at the Gore Street Cafe.
They do not reflect the views of this blogger, the Cafe
and may not even accurately document Mr Yendell's statements or beliefs:-)

downbeat (detail)

Sam Decter:
How would you describe the Soo?


Paul Yendell:
 A pretty ugly town.

 That's a Dylan Thomas quote?

Ambition is critical 
could also apply in this case,
 but pretty ugly town will do.

 The AGA?

 A pretty little gem

 Tell me about the steel plant.

 Without the plant there would be no Soo...
it would change the city drastically....
You would have to replace it.
It would be a scary couple of years. 
Lots of change...

 Tell me about the downtown bars, Lop Lops, Coch's, Top Hat...

 You mean the Queen Street crawl? 
Don't forget about the New A! 
The New A is lovely, getting better and better. 
Why go to the Rock Star when you can go there?

and a fifty

Your soiree at Lops is tomorrow?

 Jelly babies and Malteasers, check!

 I think we have a dinner party going on that night...
maybe we can do an interview 
and I could publish a little promo piece for you.
Did you see the Pixo Control's album release show?

 I was impressed by the screaming.

Mikus inspires me as well.

 I saw him in there at the show. 
I was like: 
You don't care who's in here....
And it takes skill. 
It's harder to do than singing pretty all the time....
 Coch's isn't going anywhere.
 He's gonna spend the rest of his life in that building.

beers #3

 180 Projects?

> just getting started
 And it's the anchor of things down here 
(on Gore Street)

 Chris Shoust?

 Dangerously wait;
Dangerously creative.
 He's a fun guy to watch.
 I don't get to see him play often enough.

 The Machine Shop?

Gonna be a great venue. As long as they get security in the bar.

 Paper Mill and the Locks?

 Just getting started...
 the building that's just standing there, 
its just bricks and steel. 
3/4 of the land on the site is unused. 
It's now a matter of, how far can they push it? 
Fuck major cities.

How great could this place be?

les demoiselles of distortion

 What would you say to an international student 
coming here to study at Algoma or Sault College...
never having seen winter before
just taking in this unseasonable warmth?

 Go get a toque and mittens. 
They are worth their weight in gold. 
Take a cab sometime, get into town. 
Come downtown and yell at the Americans! 
Go ahead, they can't hear you.

So the guy from Treble Charger 
is bringing a studio into the machine shop?

 Ya, he'll bring amazing production skills, 
management skills...

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Jocelyn Morlock: VSO composer-in-residence


What is the sound of the postmodern orchestra?

Given the huge amount of diversity in 21st century orchestral music, 
I am finding this question very difficult to answer!
 Maybe I can offer a few general comments. 
There’s been a huge increase in role of percussion in the orchestra,
and I find this the most noticeable difference between music of,
say, 100 years ago, and now. Other than that,
I think things I am more likely to hear would include the following:
grooves, competing ostinati, overwhelming sound objects,
masses of writhing sounds sliding viscously between pitches,
as opposed to contrapuntal writing...

What are you happiest about having presented through Music on Main?

The Orpheus Project
The project as a whole was a wonderful experience!
(I’m pleased with the music I wrote for it, too
–first time I’ve written for Speaker, or for Wind Machine...)
It was great fun to be part of the production, as well as writing music for it
I was an Oracle in the show,
as were composer Cassandra Miller and writer Colin Browne.

What composers are you proud to be able to bring exposure to from Canada?
Around the world?

From Canada: particularly Gabriel Dharmoo,
whose music isn’t well known to the VSO audiences.
Melissa Hui and John Rea, both of whom are better known
but not often performed here in Vancouver.
Christopher Mayo.
And Katia Makdissi-Warren,
whose music is new to me as of this year.

From around the world: John Orfe, a composer and performer
whose music I found via “Alarm Will Sound”
(New York based ensemble that does fascinating stuff.)
It’ll also be fun to present music by Rzewski, Adès, and Birtwistle,
all of whose names are very well-known
but not performed frequently enough here.

What forms of non-classical music other than jazz are of significance to your own work?

Balinese gamelan is by far the most noticeable influence.
Other than I’m interested in a lot of other non-classical music
(Gagaku, Laurie Anderson, Tom Waits, plus a million other things),
but I don’t know if there’s an audible influence.

What forms of songwriting or literature inspire your vocal pieces?

Inevitably what is most inspiring for me, as far as vocal music,
is whatever text I am currently setting
I have been fortunate to work with several great writers:
Bill Richardson, Alan Ashton, and the late Tom Cone.
Sometimes I’ve found that literature has been an inspiration or starting-off point
while writing non-vocal music. Theft (Waterclocks and Insomnia)
was inspired by the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

What non orchestral sounds stimulate your compositional imagination?

Birds, machinery, alarm clocks, wind, rain,
people making weird noises, and possibly goats.

You've said " and then I will write a piece
where my insomniac tendencies towards short fast thoughts
are a significant structural component"

Do you perceive mania and/or anxiety as states of mind
particular to the (post)modern urban artist?

I hope not, although I suspect that the constant,
high level of fast-changing bits of information being thrown at us
(via internet and other media, traffic, billboards, background music, etc.)
might encourage those states of mind in everyone living in an urban environment.

(photo: the Vancouver Sun)

You've been described online as
" perhaps the brightest shining star to come out of the west "
How does such praise affect you?

Ugh. It gives me the “I am not worthy”feeling.
Best not to dwell on what people write about you,
whether good or bad.

Do you feel connected to a community of Canadian composers?

Yes, in that I know many composers
and I’m interested in what they’re writing
and listening to and thinking about.

Do you feel connected to the international scene of classical players?

Not really, no. There are Canadian performers with whom
I have very strong professional associations
(Mark Takeshi McGregor, Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, Ariel Barnes, Heidi Krutzen,
Joseph Elworthy, Corey Hamm, Robyn Driedger-Klassen)
… but internationally not so much.

When did you first desire to be a composer?

Hard to say. I liked making up music (improvising at the piano)
as soon as we got a piano, when I was eight,
but it didn’t dawn on me to start writing music down until I was in my early 20s.
I hadn’t thought about composers as living people before I started music school (as a pianist.)

Have you had other jobs over the years?

Yes. Touring orchestral librarian, page-turner, copyist, library assistant,
collaborative pianist, sessional lecturer, etc. etc.
(That doesn’t count the non-musical ones)


What non musical forms of culture do you enjoy in Vancouver?

Visual art, dance, theatre. I wish I had more time!

What is your relationship to nature?

Living in Vancouver means I can easily spend time outside near the ocean,
which looks lovely and sounds beautiful. I’m fond of birds.
I spend a reasonable amount of time outdoors on non-busy streets,
so I hear a decent amount of natural sound.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Snake River this Saturday live in the Sunshine Laundromat

Tell me about your tour: Where have you come from and hoe far have you yet to travel?

We are in Montreal tonight
This is as Far East we'll get to. We're heading back west beginning tomorrow

How long has the band been going?

The group has been together for two and a half years. It started as a solo project for me a little before that. The guys came in originally to learn some of the songs I'd recorded, but it has since morphed into a full band. The new record is the first to feature all band members. 

. What kinds of bands do you play with

We're playing with a lot of our favourite bands on this tour at various locales. Bands like radiation flowers, rah rah, basic nature, living hour, the backhomes.  We're lucky that there is such a rich musical culture in Canada and that it's easy to connect with likeminded musicians. 

What are some Influences on the sound of your group?

There are a lot. 13th floor elevators. Robyn Hitchcock. Xtc. Scott walker. Syd Barrett. Television. But those are just mine. Everyone else in the band has their own things that they're into as well. Our tastes are all very disparate. 

Do you thrive on diner food or find it hard to eat well on the road?

It's extremely hard to eat right on the road. Can usually manage for a day or two then things get askew. But maybe life at home is the same. Who can say. 

Friday, 4 September 2015

The Genus of Valued Customer

It must have been a brisk autumn night, as the weather was ideally inclement for a stroll through the back ways and lanes of Toronto's downtown west side, along the curves and dips of the Garrison creek, formerly called the Bull creek, south from Davenport to Queen, into the still beating heart of Parkdale's musical magic hour.
The first time I brought the gang from Valued Customer down to Not my Dog, it was an appropriately synchronistic occasion. I carried a boombox and described to them the ideal James Brown sourcebook, which I would find in a used bookshop later that same week. Serendipity is not chaos, as I might have argued a few years earlier in the same bar.

"They remind me of me. "
Said Johnny awesome.
"I hate them"

I first met Patrick Power, guitar and vocals, through Craigslist. I had posted a call for scores composed for violin cello flute and oboe, having no real means to present any such music.

Patrick invited me to hear his string quartet, performed at gallery 345 as part of Torontiad 2. He gave my sister guitar lessons. We had tea and talked about jazz. I sensed that the pedigree of instrumental proficiency  and thero-storical background possessed by VuCu refracted through their native classic rock and post-millenial rap

would find fertile modes of sonic articulation in the mid-century black American avant garde.

Then  came Torontiad three, a workshop in which we both rehearsed brass duets for french horn and tuba. Due to an allergic hyper sensitivity, my eyes were bleeding during most of this time, and somebody else had to turn my score into a PDF format acceptable to the players. Patricks piece sounded like Stravinsky vs Zappa. Mine sounded like medieval mush.

Justus Gustus is an enigmatic, well-coiffed sort. I admire his savvy lyrics and the frenetic trance of his powerful delivery. He plays his guitar through a golden JVC boombox I left on Patrick's doorstep last time I moved and downsized my collection. He lives in cinespaces and dates projectionists.

The Victory Café open mic was another happy time. Few jammers actually discovered this jam during its ill-fated three month run, and I was often left to entertain in marathon sessions with the rapman. Unless VuCu came in, and then it was a lovely romp of an evening. One of my best moments in Mirvish village was killing it free styling to a Bran Van "Drinking in LA" instrumental. ( L A, L L A, L A W Y E R S...)

Just as much fun as playing the Elvis Costello Challenge with my aunts Ann and Leah, or getting goofy and doing pratfalls during a zombie rap jam called "bodies on the ground".

I also got to jump in on a VuCu set at the Holy Oak a couple years back, in the midst of a sexy song called " perfect body"

Essentially VuCu serves, in my timeline, to justify and encourage my shamanic status as a goofy, wise, dirty old(er) man. I enjoy quipping that I am the Satie of whatever this post-jazz rap thing is called, and that they will outshine me as its Debussy, but that's just me being all cute and musico-historical.

O how i love their merch! They design their own stylish shirts,  sometimes stiched together from multiple sources. 

My birthday party recital, "so long summer" farewell parties, and a one off open mic, all held at the Belljar Café, were also graced by VuCu members.

I did a session for Patricks solo project: the "piggga" album, my first studio rap after a dry period away from the jams and the joints. I mustered some rambling shout outs over a 6/4 beat and was offered more future collabs.

If you're still reading this without having heard the music of Valued Customer, now.might be the time to mention that they are on some next level. Look up their bandcamp. Turn off the Netflix and chill.

When valued customer came to visit us in the Soo last summer, it all came back to me. Bohemia. Vast art-historical pipedreams. Distortions in my perception of time....

Vucu are growing up, and hosted the Gore Street open mic as a full blown new thing panmodal jazz combo. Actually, their show in the Sunshine laundromat last summer was possibly the best we put on last year. If only I could find the videos...

A couple days later Vucu trumpeter David Baldry was back in town with Reenie  and rocking Gore Street once again. At 180 Projects, I confessed to him that since the Holy oak I didn't think the band could maintain their hip hop approach without a drummer, and that the laundromat show had changed my mind.

But the last time I met up with my boys at the dog for my now-regular xmastime gig, things went a bit awry. A buddy of theirs had smuggled some outside beers into the open mic on Wednesday, and their act was barred for insulting the owner. Steve Mozarowski showed up at the last minute to replace their set. I think they'll come back again this summer to visit and play. I think their next album is going to astound:-) I think next time the cypher is going straight to video;-)

The Backhomes play Gore Street Cafe Sept 14

Kees Dekker of the Backhomes 
talks to the Tinderblog:

Tell me about your tour: 
Where have you come from and how far have you yet to travel?

This current tour takes us from Victoria where we live, 
across Canada as far as Montreal and back. 
Staying in Canada, means you have to zig zag strategically 
to make sure you don't hit the same place twice 
(which is tricky in a few spots due to geography).

How long has this band been active?

The band has been active since 2010. 
We put some songs together and played a show 
in Montreal ... and then moved west, 
where we really cultivated our sound and direction.

What kinds of bands do you play with?

We play with all kinds of bands, 
from garage rock to electronic music, 
but we tend to make connections with people playing 
"cosmic or cosmically inspired music".
photo: @fisheyefoto

What are major influences on the sound of your group?

I would say that depth and texture in music is big to us, 
more so than technique and musical dexterity. 
Repetition and fuzz are your friend! The music of Rick White (Elevator/Eric's Trip), 
JJ Cale, Primal Scream, Pete Kember, 
Flying Saucer Attack resonate with us greatly.

Thoughts on car culture: what's the parks-to-parking lot ratio like across the country?

Well on the highway and coming into towns its all box stores and lots, 
as that's where the cities are expanding most, 
but once you get into the heart of the city 
you can usually find some refuge in green spaces. 
It is important after day long drives and crummy service stations...

Do you thrive on diner food or find it hard to eat well on the road?

We can't really do diner food, cause you are what you eat. 
We try to stop at grocery stores and not fast food.
 If we have time we will try to find a good sit down meal. 
It can be a challenge in smaller places and where the highway tends to take you, 
but we'll try to plan for those stretches.

Do audiences dig your grooves more in certain parts of the country?

This tends to surprise us. 
At first we might have thought that the bigger cities would be our bread and butter, 
but being a little different than the typical fare that hits smaller places 
can help in getting into peoples ear holes. 
That being said, we have played more in western cities, 
so people probably know our name a bit more there.

What are your favourite music scenes to connect with across the country?

Anywhere where people get into what we are doing is great.
 We have had some amazing times in Edmonton and Saskatoon 
and have made really good friend bands there. 
photo: f@fisheyefoto

What challenges does your group face with media exposure:
getting your music to sympathetic ears?

I think we face the same challenges most small DIY groups experience, 
especially living in a smaller city. 
We mainly self release our records, 
so it's all about getting on the road and getting in front of crowds of people. 
Good things come when you are active and open, 
and enjoying yourself as much as possible.

Is college radio still alive in this country?

Most definitely! 
We rely on Campus/Community stations a lot, 
as they play the music and get it into the right volunteer DJ's hands.
 We have made a lot of good friends 
and gotten a lot of help and opportunities from many Campus stations. 
Victoria's CFUV is a backbone of the music community here. 

Are musicians, fans, and the industry still adjusting to 
the impact of online media on the music business?

Sure, but it's time to get on with it. 
Just pay for music, 
so musicians can continue to make records, 
so you can buy them.
 Buy music directly from musicians as much as possible. 
It's easy and you don't have to get into some silly internal dialogue 
about how downloading music for free is not hurting anyone, 
especially when you can preview entire records online before you buy. 
Grow up.

What's the music scene(s) like in Victoria?

Well the music scene where we live is small and eclectic 
like most smaller cities, 
but not very competitive which is nice. 
The scene that I grew up with in Moncton N.B. 
was really creative and inspiring while I was there 
and gave me the confidence to make my own art and not be too afraid of judgement.

Friday, 7 August 2015

The Pixo Control play Emergency Festival Saturday August 15

left to right: Keeghan Rosso- Michael Mikus -Steve Edwards

What sets this band apart from other young rock acts in the Sault? 
What do you bring onstage that other bands miss the mark on?

This is a tough question 
because there are more than a few great bands around here 
that ... pour themselves into what they do. 
I don't know what exactly has gotten people's attention about us at all; probably has something to do with the music. 
We just aim to play a good show for people every night. 
When people leave our show, 
I want them to feel different from when they first walked in...
it doesn't matter if we're playing in front of 4 people or 400
...we have to keep doing our thing no matter who sees it. 
You have to really give them that high-energy live show 
that makes them feel something.
That's been our natural approach to playing shows so far.

What local acts are you excited about 
and what do you feel the music scene is missing?

Gnaeus and Caroline Divine are buzzing for me 
as far as young bands. Aldous is another good one. 
Then there's my heavy taste which likes 
Jack Spades and Destroilet. 
This Sault Ste. Marie scene is small right now 
but it's got a lot stemming from the branch. 
I think right now it's just missing the chaos. 
There are a lot of kids here that don't get the opportunity 
to see new music because even when it's promoted, 
it falls short to cover bands. 
In my opinion that's a little backward, but nonetheless, 
the community of people 
who are brought together by music and art 
is growing stronger than it has in recent years. 
Hopefully the city's reputation for music 
will continue to improve with the addition of the Machine Shop 
as a go-to venue for touring artists. 
The bands are here, the talent is here, 
and all the hormonal, pissed-off teenagers are here too, 
we just need to get them off their phones 
and out to a damn show. 
It's a far more memorable and emotional experience 
than today's trending topics.  

As Mike had mentioned before Caroline Devine, 
Gnaeus and Aldous are great young bands in the Sault. 
I also really enjoy bands such as Frank Deresti and the Lake Effect 
and Shannon Moan. I feel that the music scene is missing 
..swarms of teenagers lining up outside of a venue
(for) a band they want to see. 
...the Sault music scene is definitely growing in all genres, 
slowly but surely.

The  band was recently signed to Tidal records: 
How is life on a label for Pixo so far?

Tidal Records has been great to us. 
We're still a really young band even though we seem to be doing alright. We have a lot to learn, and it's just nice to have people there who can offer you that family-based support that you can't get from a major label. We play the rock n roll, and they provide a good vehicle for us to get our music into people's ears. It's people helping people.

We have had complete support from Tidal Records 
since we first met Dustin and the Tidal crew on day one, 
even before we were signed with them. 
We have just gotten started...

really excited for the future with them 
and the experience that comes along with it.

The album you've just about to release will be the first for the band.
How did you enjoy the recording experience 
and how do you see the album as far as your musical direction goes?

Recording this album was our first time cutting a whole LP 
and it had bits of all things good and bad about being in the studio. 
We had our moments of pure awe....
hurdling over on the couch in utter joy, 
along with long hours of self-loathing 
where you wanna break the microphone under your foot. 
I like to think it balanced out the way we wanted it to in the end. 
It's as rough as I wanted our first record to be. 
It sounds like a band that is far from well worn-in....
quite the teaser to say the least.

Your music strikes me as being fairly retro in its approach 
to both punk music and the influence of the blues. 

I dig the old aesthetic, I'm not gonna lie. 
I would say I'm more of a guitar player than a singer too. 
I like players like Josh Homme and Kim Thayil, 
Johnny Greenwood, really aggressive yet melodic players. 
And as raunchy as I may like my guitar tone, 
I'm still a sucker for a well-written pop hit. 
There's no perfect formula for what we try to capture in our music,
 it's just me trying to push the limit of rock music songwriting. 
Whatever it is, it's working for me.

Since the earliest of age that I can remember, 
I was always listening to older rock and roll, 
bands like The Steve Miller Band, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, 
Kiss, Ac/Dc and about everything else in between. 
As I got older I started enjoying heavier and lighter bands like Alexisonfire, 
Queens of the Stone age, Kings Of Leon, City and Colour 
and tons of other bands. I think our influences come out when we play 
whether we try to or not, 
it's who we are as musicians.

Tell me about the journey from solo Mikus music to the Pixo.

I started writing music when I was 12 or something. 
Just these really simple, sorta cheesy songs about pre-pubescent love. 
I played acoustic shows and that was about it. 
And then I just kept practicing, 
expanding on my musical repertoire 
and eventually I found myself in a two-piece garage rock band 
called The Fever Tops with Mitch Harris. 
We did that for nearly a year and in that time, 
the songs were getting better 
and I was getting impatient to start something new. 
So I quit that band and moved on to Pixo 
and now we're doing a lot more than I thought we ever would. 

How do you keep your head on straight while becoming a teenaged rock frontman?

I still have one more year of high school to go, 
so I'm just gonna keep riding this wave. 
It's been nothing but amazing so far, and there's no chance in hell 
I'm putting the brakes on doing it anytime soon.

What's behind Keeghan's leaving the drum chair in the pixo control?
 Is this a big concern to the rest of the band?
 Has a new drummer been recruited?

Keeghan's just not really in the right mindset 
to devote himself to playing music right now. 
It's a difficult change to take on. He's our friend and yeah, 
it sucks that we don't have our original line-up anymore 
but it's not a concern for the band at this point. 
It would be really silly to live out this band thing 
thinking everything's always going to stay the same. 
That's not how life works, and at the end of the day, 
we're just people who have to take care of themselves. 
We have a new guy that we're working with right now, 
and to me it still sounds like The Pixo Control,
 if anything, a much more focused Pixo Control. 
But we'll save the introduction 
for when he starts playing the shows.

You've been gigging locally on the regular this year.
Where have you played outside of the Sault 
and what's planned for this summer and beyond?

So far we've done one mini-tour of Southern Ontario;
playing in Toronto, Barrie, and St.Catharines. 
Now we're back home to play the Emergency Festival on Saturday
We're hoping to book more dates later but for now, 
I think we'll focus on getting the record out.