you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

28 December 2010

Interview: Keith Canisius.

Keith Canisius is an American-born Dane, now living and creating beautiful music in Copenhagen, Denmark. He first came into the spotlight as one half of the duo called Rumskib, who's 2007 self-titled release on Darla blew the minds of gazers and dreamers everywhere. In 2008, with Rumskib on hold, Keith released his debut solo record (also on Darla), Ferris Wheel Makeout, an amazing record that, unsurprisingly, sounded much like Rumskib, but the limits of the music were being pushed further here. Rather than sounding just dream pop, Canisius started incorporating psychedelia and experimentation into his already shoegazey and dreamy soundscapes. As a guitarist, vocalist, composer, and producer, his talent for creating music very much reminds me of Ulrich Schnauss. 2009 saw the highly praised release of Waves, another gorgeous album existing somewhere in the swirly gauze of dream pop, shoegaze and psychedelia. In September of 2010, Canisius released his third LP, This Time It's Our High, an absolutely beautiful album that shows Canisius evolving even further as a composer, blending and then defying genres altogether. When The Sun Hits is excited to bring you our recent interview with Keith Canisius, an artist with talent that grows exponentially with every release; he never fails to impress. A review of the new LP will follow later today.

1. Can you tell us what you've been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (new releases, tour, etc)?

I’ve got a band together and we will be ready for playing Keith Canisius by March 2011.
Besides that I’ve done around 5 tracks + some other more experimenting stuff. I also mastered 12 unreleased ambient drone guitar tracks created from 2007-09 I had lying around. Some of them are on YouTube.

Keith Canisius. Bright Smiles. (unreleased 2009)

I might release something in May or April. Not sure yet.

My last record This Time It’s Our High (released Sept. 10, 2010) is not an
easy act to follow and I also want to change up things a bit, so I’m not rushing at the moment. I still want to expose my new album.

On This Time It’s Our High, I set a rule for myself not to use any chorus effects. On the songs I’m writing now, I’m trying to keep them less 5 minutes.

It’s fun trying to confront habits either good or bad.

Keith Canisius. Watching Old Films With New Eyes.

2. How was Rumskib formed and is there anything new on the horizon for the band? Your output is far greater as a solo artist, it seems. Is Rumskib mostly a side project?

Rumskib was a main project at the time, but it has been put on hold since early 2009. I moved to Copenhagen and put the work for the band to rest for the time being.

Rumskib. Think Eyes Away.

3. Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene at all?

I like some bands a lot and wouldn’t mind being refereed as being in same scene as them, on the other hand my taste changes in what I want to produce in music and release, so I don’t like sticking myself into one scene.

I don’t like the pressure of genres when I’m working on music, although I’m somehow aware of them. I just don’t like the pressure of trying to sounds like something specific.

So I’ve stopped thinking in those terms. A good music friend referred to my new album as being "chill wave" and he also recommend me a band named Candy Claws, which he thought resembled my style. I really liked them and bought their album.

People will always genre drop you, it’s okay. I like that people are into music and create scenes.

It helps smaller artists like me to spread a little faster, which I why I also write similar artist in my album descriptions. People like to compare new stuff they hear and it makes it easy for them to pass the word to others.

Keith Canisius. Waves.

4. What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop artists, any favorites?

It seems like a lot of modern bands are using elements from shoegaze & dream pop incorporated in their styles and productions.

Bands like Deerhunter, Animal Collective, Ariel Pink, Candy Claws have some of those elements in their productions.

I like those bands styles and some of their albums and they seem to create a lot of attention, which is cool, but I don’t try to copy them.

5. What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?

It’s difficult to answer. My sound is blended by many different elements. I like doing everything from choosing snares to figuring out how to set the compressor. I try to go for the whole thing at my best.

I’m try not to get carried away by favourite effects or whatever, but on This Time It’s Our High, I used my Prophet 8 synth a lot, which I bought just before starting the record. I hope I can get a new synth soon as well. I really like synth, it’s a lot of fun.

After playing guitar for 20 years it’s nice to change things a bit. But I still use guitars a lot and I think about recording a noisy dirty guitar album some day.

6. What artists (shoegaze/dream pop or otherwise) have most influenced your work?

On the older stuff to name a few: Cocteau Twins, Boards of Canada, MBV, early 80’s pop, Stereolab, Ivy, Jimi Hendrix, Sonic Youth.

Sometimes one band can influence an idea other times another band can influence 10. It’s hard to answer precisely where it comes from always.

On This Time It’s Our High I was somewhat inspired by the flakiness and informality by Ariel Pink, an artist I've loved for some years now and always swore would become bigger very soon, the melodies and psychedelic trance of Animal Collective, Panda Bear and say some of the textures of Deerhunter. I’m describing my inspirations very squarely now.

The better I get, the less I’m paying attention to what others are doing, but I’m very interested in what’s going on in music.

It’s always an interesting task to try and push commercial cultural thinking towards a more artistic level. Like David Bowie mastered in the 70’s, you could say.

Keith Canisius. The Beach House.

7. Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc)?

At the moment I’m into BBC’s Blue Planet and other nature DVDs by David Attenborough. I can recommend them to any dreamy music lover out there. Fantastic and very relaxing stuff.

In music, I’ve started buying vinyl records, which is one of my new hobbies. The latest ones I bought where Daft Punk (Discovery), Serena Maneesh (Serena Maneesh) and Candy Claws (Hidden Lands). Albums that I had on CD, but I want to get my favourites on vinyl.

8. If you had to choose one track of your own that was the ultimate definition of your sound, which would it be and why?

I think the title track on my newest album, This Time It’s Our High is amazing in many ways even when I have to try being objective about it.The rich textures, the exploding energy at the end, the dreamy psychedelic vocals, the flakiness and depth in mood as well as good solid interesting Lo-fi production makes it worth a listen.

Please do: Click HERE to listen!

9. What is the most exciting thing that happened for you musically in 2010?

Realising This Time It’s Our High. I’m proud of that album and wondering how I’ve pulled it off so fast and easy, since I’ve only been producing music for around 2 years with lo fi equipment.

It’s also exciting to read reviews and hear what people think. I got some pretty good response in Denmark where I live, which I’m satisfied with, especially because the bigger media places here don’t always write a lot about subgenre music.

I like the simple feedback loop of creating and getting a response. I pay a lot of attention to what people think and say. And I like to hear people’s views, good or bad or whatever nuance.

Keith Canisius. Remember Me Lake.

10. What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?

Try going with your own thing and don’t let yourself be manipulated too easily.

And I also help save the sharks. Check out this website. It’s awful what goes on to those very important animals, as well as the cute panda bears and sea bears.

26 December 2010

Free Download: Amber's Shoegaze Radio Show. Aired Dec. 19, 2010.

Free Download: Amber's Shoegaze Radio Show.
originally aired on Dec. 19, 2010 on KTRU 91.7fm

Click HERE to download the show. Put on headphones or significantly turn up your speaker volume. Enjoyment should ensue. See set list below for mid-enjoyment reference time. Gaze correctly!

band name/song title

bell hollow. the bottle tree (peter du charme remix)
twin shadow. at my heels.
giant drag. this isn't it.
chapterhouse. greater power.
rocketship. i love you like the way i used to do.
m83. save us from the flames.
asobi seksu. pink cloud tracing paper.
monster movie. vanishing act.
my bloody valentine. drive it all over me.
a place to bury strangers. ego death.
the jesus and mary chain. never understand.
skywave. angela's an angel.
glifted. the ground.
bethany curve. door 2416.
ride. silver.
hum. i'd like your hair long.

22 December 2010

Free Download of Exclusive New Track: Bloody Knives. I Was Talking To Your Ghost.

Free Download
Bloody Knives, a band that put out one of the best records of this year (the unbelievable Burn It All Down LP - read Amber's review of it here) are releasing a limited edition 7 inch 45 gram vinyl split with the incredible Me You Us Them early next month (read When The Sun Hits' review of the split release here). This new track, "I Was Talking to Your Ghost", is frankly amazing, and confirms that Bloody Knives are simply growing more and more awesome all the time, and their next LP is eagerly awaited.

But best of all, Preston Maddox of Bloody Knives (read our interview with him here) has kindly offered When The Sun Hits readers a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song on their side of the 7 inch, the above mentioned "I Was Talking to Your Ghost". How awesome is that?! A free download of a song taken from a limited edition 7 inch shared with the kick ass Me You Us Them that hasn't even been officially released yet.

I think this is what is commonly known as: getting a major hook up. Thank you, Bloody Knives, for sharing this exclusive track, and when this split 7 inch comes out next month, get yourself one - it's limited edition AND features two bands that have a blazingly bright future ahead.

Click the link below to download the exclusive new track from Bloody Knives entitled, "I Was Talking to Your Ghost", to be released in conjunction with Triple Down Records (MYUS) and killredrocketrecords early next month.

21 December 2010

Interview: Brian Batz of Sleep Party People.

Sleep Party People is essentially Brian Batz; a one man bedroom pop magician making some of the most innovative and compelling sounds in the realms of shoegaze and dream pop that this blog has heard in quite awhile. The band (Brian does take 5 bunny mask clad musicians [we'll get to that in a bit] with him when touring) is based in Denmark and the band's debut self titled LP (that being Sleep Party People, for those of you with short memories) was one of the greatest discoveries When The Sun Hits made in 2010. Compelling, beautiful, quirky, extraordinary, surprising, otherworldly - basically it's impossible to describe with words, so you must hear if for yourself. Listen to the video clips; you'll get it. Also pertinent information: Every member of Sleep Party People, whether it's Brian performing by himself or with a touring group of musicians, wears a bunny mask onstage. Just saying. In any event, Sleep Party People is absolutely and positively one of the most noteworthy new bands of the year, and we expect (and eagerly await) all future releases. Enjoy the following interview with Mr. Brian Matz, and check out the band's official website for further investigational activities, and you will find a free download of a new SPP track there, as well!Win!Cheerio!Band photos by:Christian Klintholm.

1. How was band formed?

Well I’ve been playing in different band constellations since I was 14 years old and in 2008 I bought some recording gear and you know, then I just started to record new stuff. In the beginning it was only meant to be some new sketches for the band I was playing in but I felt that I’ve really recorded something different and surprisingly enough something I didn’t expect coming from me. So I decided to keep the recordings to myself and start my own project. I wanted to get away from the idea of writing music together as a band. I needed my own space and rules without anyone interfering in the process.

Sleep Party People. I'm Not Human At All.

2. Where does the name "Sleep Party People" come from?

My ex-girlfriend had these words hanging on her refrigerator and one morning I was drinking my coffee and making funny words on the refrigerator and one of these sentences was “sleep party people”. I remember that I thought, “That’s a really cool band name, I must use that next time”.

3. Here comes a question I'm sure you are sick of: Why the bunny masks?

No, I’m not at all sick of this question. It’s really an obvious question but very relevant. It’s all good. Well when I created the vocal sound it reminded me a bit of a bunny talking. If a bunny could talk it would probably sound like that. That was my thought. So I got inspired to go on the Internet and search for “people wearing bunny masks”. I found this very cozy but also very frightening picture of a boy standing in the hallway wearing a bunny mask. I got permission to use the picture as my front cover for the Sleep Party People album and then I got psyched about the thought of wearing these masks live as well. The whole intention was to make it the Sleep Party People logo and image and I think it works like a charm. Although I don’t if it’s an everlasting keeper so maybe I’ll figure something different out for the second album. That’s a maybe though.

Sleep Party People. Notes to You.

4. Do you feel any connection with Dream Pop?

Absolutely. I love dream pop. Big fan!

5. What artists have most influenced your work?

Oh that’s very difficult to say because I listen to a lot of different music and genres but ever since I heard Four Calendar Café with Cocteau Twins I’ve been very much inspired and influenced by their sound and the whole explosion of shoegazer bands. But I’m also very inspired by Erik Satie and Arvo Part. You know more classical music. When I’m thinking back at the period where I recorded the album I was listening to a lot of My Bloody Valentine, Helios, Erik Satie, Animal Collective, Panda Bear, Scott Walker, Mercury Rev and Cocteau Twins. So they must have influenced me quite a bit.

6. What is the music scene like where you live?

It’s actually getting pretty good. We’ve always been in a very sad state of mine if you ask me and I really don’t think that we’ve been a part of anything good musically. Almost that is. Perhaps we have had some good bands, which crossed the Danish borders and played in other countries. But I think the whole DIY thing has opened a lot of doors for creative musicians to do it themselves and that’s why we’ve seen a lot of very interesting new bands shine and spreading there wings and actually becoming a new name outside of Denmark. More and more are watching Denmark and that’s with a very good reason because we have plenty of good artists coming your way.

7. Tell us a little about what you are currently into (bands, books, films, etc)?

I’ve been listening a lot to Tamaryn's The Waves, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitis Before Today, Lower Dens’ Twin Hand Movement, Efterklang's Magic Chairs and Tame Impala's Innerspeaker. These are maybe my top 5 records of 2010. I haven’t been reading that much because I’m not really a big reader. Actually the only book I’ve been reading this year is Submarino by Jonas T. Bengtsson. It’s a Danish book, which is very sad and melancholic. I don’t know if it’s been translated into English or released outside of Denmark but I can surely recommend it. I love watching movies but I don’t think that this year has been that good in the movie business. The only good movie I’ve seen this year is Where The Wild Things Are. That was maybe the most heart-warming movie I’ve seen in many years. Really big fan of Spike Jonze.

Sleep Party People. The Dwarf & The Horse.

8. What sort of set up/gear do you use? What is the most important piece of gear for your sound (i.e. pedals, guitars, drums, etc.)?

We’re five bunnies on stage with a piano, three keys, a bass, a guitar, drums, lots of computers
and pedals and then four of us sing. And that’s the core of our live sound, but without any doubt the most “important” piece of gear must be my keyboard, because it creates the sound on my vocal. Without that it’s not Sleep Party People.

I’m the only one who writes the music, but the guys arranges a lot when we’re rehearsing for the concerts. Sleep Party People is more dynamic live and that’s because of my beautiful bunnies. They’re so talented and nerdy in the best way ever. Without them I wouldn’t be able to play my music live. But the fact is that Sleep Party People is my project alone and they are not a part of the writing process but they will be on the second album.

10. What do you think of modern Shoegaze/Dream Pop artists?

I really like the new wave of shoegazing artists. I think they have a very interesting approach. It’s different than the old shoegaze/dream pop and that’s extremely positive. I don’t like when new artists sound like the old and just do a “copy/paste”. Then I would much rather listen to the old records.

11. What is your philosophy on life, if any, that you live by?

Be brave. Believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s impossible and that you’re not good enough. That’s not true. With positive energy you can go far and maybe reach the gold you’ve always dreamt of. And treat others like you want them to treat you. Be loving and believe in love.

Video Post:Bee Gees.Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You.Proto-Dream Pop.

Video: Insect Guide. Grey Sky. New EP Out Today!

Gorgeous new track from the Insect Guide's EP, Five O'Clock Recordings, released digitally at 5am this morning, which you can download for free in it's entirety HERE!

20 December 2010

Top 5 Records of the Week.

Welcome to another installment of When The Sun Hits' weekly obsessions. Old or new, undeniably shoegaze or proto-gaze, psychedelic or just plain noisy, we post our top 5 records each week, spotlighting what we've had on constant rotation. It's a great way to give old and new bands exposure, plus we just like making lists, because we are music nerds like that. (You know, studies have show that people with higher intelligence make lists...we're just saying.) Any way you slice it, you get a list of 10 records every week that we think are awesome, influential, and deserving of turning the volume up to 10.

We've archived all of the previous weeks for your browsing enjoyment, which you can find in the right side bar, if you're curious about such things.

*Danny's Top 5 Records of the Week*

1. Swallow. Hush EP. Rough Trade. (1994)

2. Various Artists. One, Two, Twee: An Indie Pop Retrospective. (2004)

3. My Bloody Valentine. You Made Me Realise EP. Creation. (1988)

4. Telescopes. Telescopes. Creation. (1992)

5. Trembling Blue Stars. Bathed In Blue Light EP. Elefant Records. (2005)

*Amber's Top 5 Records of the Week*

1. The Voices. The Voices. Kung Fu Records. (2005)

2. Bell Hollow. Sons of the Burgess Shale. Five03 Records. (2006)

3. Twin Shadow. Forget. 4AD. (2010)

4. The Clientele. Strange Geometry. Merge Records. (2005)

5. Spacemen 3. Sound of Confusion. Glass Records (1986)

15 December 2010

Album Review: Implodes. S/T Cassette.

Occasionally, When The Sun Hits will be featuring guest writers for the blog. Mostly because our growth since July (when we were born) has been so rapid that Danny and I can hardly keep up with all of the amazing albums that are being released; or I should say, we can keep up with them, but between the two of us, we certainly can't review everything! In 2011, When The Sun Hits will be expanding on many levels - merchandise, for one, and other surprises that will come to light soon enough.

This particular guest writer is a certain Josh Davis, who hails from Milwaukee. I've known him for several years; in fact, he was a co-writer with me on my very first online music journalism endeavor back in 2006-2007 (sadly now defunct). Not only does he have excellent taste, but he's also a musician and an eloquent, concise writer. And because he lives so close to Chicago, he has access to underground goings-on that Danny and I just don't have. The review is of the Chicago based drone/noise quartet Implodes, who releases cassettes only on Chicago's cassette only record label, Plustapes.

I find this interesting for several reasons: as digital downloads and mp3s are slowly taking over the music industry, CDs are, in my opinion, becoming rather obsolete. On the flipside, so-called "obsolete" formats such as vinyl and cassette releases are gaining popularity, especially among die-hard collectors. There are many cassette only labels out there (check the right sidebar on the Plustapes website for a list of those), and the music industry is experiencing a drastic change in the way things are done. The next few years will certainly be interesting, in that regard. One thing is for sure, and I'm quoting Plustapes here: "Tapes will never die." Nor will vinyl. This is becoming increasingly obvious.

Enjoy the review of the Implodes cassette release by Josh Davis, and definitely look into the cassette tape-only labels. At the very least, I think you'll be surprised at how many they are! The evolution of music is always changing...and that's part of the fun!

Artist: Implodes.
Album: S/T cassette.
Record Label: Plustapes.

About a year or so ago, I was in Chicago, visiting friends and buying records. A trip to Reckless Records was on the docket for the day, so I checked their website in the morning to see if there were any interesting new releases. Sure enough, one of the listings was regarding a cassette-only release by a band called Implodes. I don't remember exactly what it said, but the name-checks of The Jesus and Mary Chain and Flying Saucer Attack were all it took to sell me. I was not disappointed.

Implodes' self-titled cassette was a brand new release right then, in October of 2009, the twenty-second on Chicago's Plustapes label. There's been much talk, and will be more, about the current wave of tape-only labels. Are they merely capitalizing on retro nostalgia? Or on the cheap cost of duplication? Perhaps some are doing the former; certainly not the latter, as tapes and CDs are pretty similar when it comes to production costs. But some albums, and much of the Plustapes roster, have a through-line of logic when it comes to cassettes. Plustapes is very eclectic in its releases, from 60's Indonesian girl group Dara Puspita to modern garage bands like Mannequin Men or Blasted Diplomats. But they all carry the same cassette logic, one way or another: this stuff isn't glossy. It lives in basements, cheap studios and four-tracks, and it may as well stay there when it arrives with the listener.

Implodes' tape specifically reminds me of those basements. Not very well-lit, maybe a little funky smelling, and a bit sinister. The Flying Saucer Attack comparison strikes me as apropos, in a photo-negative sense: this is the darkness to their light. Everything's distant and shrouded, though the drums sometimes cut through. On a track like "Meadowlands," the vocals drift, and don't get too excited. Rather, like someone quietly threatening to hurt you, they're effective and punctuating in their calmness. Like the distended Misfits logo photograph on the cover, the image might be blurred, but that's still a fucking skull.

There's been a long period of silence following that tape. Guitarist Ken Camden put out a solo record on Kranky and played with a bunch of other people, and there was a bass player switch. But there have been pictures of mixing and mastering sessions, and an announcement that the album is "in the can" (along with a somewhat enigmatic blog post featuring only the Kranky logo - presumably meaning the album will be on that label.) Video evidence of the current lineup shows the band leaning towards a clearer, more forceful sound...but not by much. Keep your eyes peeled, folks, I think this one's going to be worth the wait.

Guest Interview by Josh Davis.

*Watch Implodes' video for the track "Giant Systems" HERE!*

Useful links for more info:
Implodes' Blog.
Implodes' Blog discussing the cassette.

13 December 2010

Top 5 Records of the Week.

Welcome to another installment of When The Sun Hits' weekly obsessions. Old or new, undeniably shoegaze or proto-gaze, psychedelic or just plain noisy, we post our top 5 records each week, spotlighting what we've had on constant rotation. It's a great way to give old and new bands exposure, plus we just like making lists, because we are music nerds like that. (You know, studies have show that people with higher intelligence make lists...we're just saying.) Any way you slice it, you get a list of 10 records every week that we think are awesome, influential, and deserving of turning the volume up to 10.

We've archived all of the previous weeks for your browsing enjoyment, which you can find in the right side bar, if you're curious about such things.

*Danny's Top 5 Records of the Week*

1. Moscow Olympics. Cut The World. Lavender Recordings. (2008)

2. Robin Guthrie. Songs to Help My Children Sleep. Darla. (2009)

3. Mojave 3. Ask Me Tomorrow. 4AD. (1995)

4. Love Spirals Downward. Flux. Projekt. (1998)

5. Mazzy Star. Among My Swan. Capital. (1996)

*Amber's Top 5 Records of the Week*

1. Blonde Redhead. Penny Sparkle. 4AD. (2010)

2. Bell Hollow. Sons of Burgess Shale EP. Five03 Records. (2006)

3. A.R. Kane. Sea Like A Child. 3rd Stone Records. (1994).

4. This Mortal Coil. It'll End in Tears. 4AD. (1994)

5. Keith Canisius. Waves. Quince. (2009)