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22 July 2019

INTERVIEW: Nebula Glow.

Nebula Glow is a Parisian quintet consisting of members Valentina Esposito (guitar/vocals), Quentin Le Roch (guitar/vocals), Manuel Devier (bass), Gregory Wojcik (lead guitar) and Antoine Lenest (drums). The band released a debut self-titled EP in June via Somewherecold Records, and the songs featured on it quickly impressed us. The gorgeous textures, heavenly vocals and well-crafted compositions are absolutely stunning. Do yourself a favor and check out the EP on Bandcamp – you won’t disappointed! We hope you enjoy getting to know more about Nebula Glow in the interview below.

How and when was the band formed?
Val: The band formed in 2015. Quentin (guitarist/singer) and Manuel (bass player) used to work together. Coincidentally, they realised that they didn’t only share the same workplace but musical tastes as well! Quentin was going through some hard times and the music really helped with that. Then they start to look for musicians online and Greg (lead guitarist) came along, then me (Valentina, guitarist/singer). Antoine (drummer) came later; he’s our second drummer and he was a friend of friend.

Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (any new releases, tour, etc.)?
Val: We just released our first EP but actually the songs have been there for a pretty long time. Quentin is a very prolific songwriter, he has tons of news songs on his hard drives! So, right now we’re working on those, three of which are ready, and planning gigs. It’s cool to see how the songwriting is evolving and we keep on learning how to work together. There’s five of us -- plenty of ideas!
Manuel: When we have enough  material, it might be the time to hit the studio once again!

Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
Val: We call ourselves Shoegaze, Post-Rock and Alternative rock 90s as there are clear influences of all of these genres in our songs and sound. We love and follow these scenes, but we don’t want to repeat a working formula. We’d like to find our way within the spectrum of things we like. We come from so many different musical backgrounds that it would be strange for us as well.

Quentin: I am constantly listening to an eclectic array of music, up to 10 hours a day! I mainly come from punk, metal, hardcore and I’ve always been fan of Deftones. At the same time I grew up with The Cure, Bowie, Queen...I listen as much Brit pop as black metal, as classical, as electronic. What moves and influences me isn’t a particular genre, but a sensibility, a feeling, a melody, when the message is clear and it gives the goosebumps.

Val: Manuel likes post hardcore and early math-rock, Greg listens to a lot of post-rock, Antoine to jazz and me to riot grrrls, songwriters, post punk and shoegaze. Genres help to give a name to music, help people to select and not having to go through literally everything to find something they like.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
Quentin: We’re big fans of Nothing, Holy Fawn, Hatchie, Slow Crush and Cloakroom.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
Quentin: My Jazzmasters + Twin Reverb + Big Muff + Shimmer
Val: I’m in love with my Roland Jazz Chorus and my brand new glittery Reverend guitar!
Manuel: I think the most important piece of gear, the one that helped us define our sound, is the Big Sky reverb from Strymon.  It allowed Quentin and Greg to really sculpt the aural landscape that the songs live in. For my part, I recently acquired a Your and You’re from Montreal Assembly. It’s a killer oscillator fuzz! Even Antoine like to experiment, bringing a second snare into his drumming. One of the things I like is that we are all ready to experiment with new configurations, new pedals, amps and such to find the right mood for each song.

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others?
Val: First Quentin records his songs using Logic. He’s a big geek composing every single instrument part and spending plenty of time on it! He’s a volcano of ideas, we’re very lucky. Then I bring my vocals and lyrics, working closely with Quentin to make sure to be faithful to the first concept/ feeling of the song. Then everyone else studies their parts, modifying sometimes and adding their bits. We then work all together refining everyone’s part and the song structure. Every band has a different work dynamic I guess, and I’ve seen so many bands getting all bitter about ego reasons. Having a band, it’s teamwork.

Quentin: When I have “THE” idea I can even wake up in the middle of the night and record a few notes on my Iphone. The day after I work on it on Logic, only using the software’s effects at this very first stage. Then I export the tracks to have them on Reaper, it’s an open source software and it’s great for sharing.

Manuel: We also recorded our EP by ourselves. It was definitely hard work. It’s been mixed and mastered on ProTools by the great people at Jonesy Agency who did a stellar job. They really took the time to speak with us, listen to our references and our remarks on the mix.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
Manuel: We’re currently happily signed with Somewherecold Records and Araki. Having someone with us who’s used to this is really reassuring and helps to relieve a lot of pressure.
Quentin: Before getting signed we had our DIY Bandcamp. Everyone does this to be heard and reach to a greater audience. It’s a win-win as it helps record labels to find the artists they want to promote.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?
Val: Definitely vinyl! We’re nostalgic about cassette tapes but we’re not there yet. Vinyl are beautiful, each vinyl has a story. Quentin, Greg and me could spend tons of money of them. And then, as their friends say, “They’ll eat soil for the rest of the month.”

Manuel: We are all consumers of physical releases. Of course, the music is at the heart of everything but to have an object as big as a vinyl (compared to other formats) is something. The artwork really shines. And tapes hit home for me. It’s listening to The Clash in the family car going on vacation all over again. And the cheapness aspect is a plus for me.

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?
Quentin: Johnny Marr (The Smiths) for his touch on the guitar, Robert Smith (The Cure) for the melodies and the feelings, Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) for the originality of his songs, Slowdive, Deftones for the post rock atmospheres and prog evolutions.

Manuel: I’m a huge fan of the Louisville math-rock scene and indie rock. I try to use that spirit in ways that work with our sound and tracks.

Valentina: The early Cranberries (as some of you can probably hear) have been a huge influence on me as I grew up listening to them. I was 10 and I learned English, to play guitar and started to write songs and sing. Then Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Cure, MBV, PJ Harvey, Suzanne Vega and riot grrrls. Recently, I’m having a big Kate Bush crush!

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
Val: We don’t have a specific band philosophy apart from doing what we like and what we believe in. Music is a blessing and there’s no reason to “lie” in it. Otherwise, we all have personal ones...I guess that mine is as easy as “Carpe diem”!

Quentin: When things go well they won’t last. When things go badly the worst is yet to come…So get ready for it!
Val: Hellooo happiness :P
Manuel: I think it would be try to be the best version of yourself. We all have fairly different views on life and how to react to it. I think all of it adds up to something better, just as all of our influences work toward something more.

ALBUM REVIEW: Submotile | Ghosts Fade on Skylines. Reviewed by Elizabeth Klisiewicz.

Submotile - Ghosts Fade on Skylines (Midsummer Madness)
Reviewed by Elizabeth Klisiewicz

Dublin-based Submotile is new on the scene, and their full-length debut album is a real corker. The band is blessed with a plethora of talent, including velvety-soft vocals that contrast with hard charging melodies. The band consists of Michael Farren and Daniela Angione, an Italian-Irish couple who call the Irish capital their home. Lest you think these folks are throwbacks to the likes of Slowdive, MBV, or Chapterhouse, think again. Sure, there are aural patterns that remind you of the giants that came before, but these new leading lights are forging their own way in the often muddled and crowded field of nu-gaze and every shade of dream pop under the sun.

Lead out track “Alba” has all the familiar touchpoints, but it’s a jagged haze that goes down like a vanilla milkshake laced with razors. The hooks are indelible and you’ll want to hear it again and again. “Amped and Faded” is aptly named, as it kicks major ass but keeps the vocals corraled in the back of the mix. The “amped” energy level is high and draws you right in and keeps you fixated on their delightful sound.

The joyous “Tramonto” shimmers and shines like the star-studded arms of the Milky Way, surely a song for the great unknown cosmos that hovers behind light-polluted skies. “Eastern Sky Sundown” races forward smoothly, a blissful mesh of Swervedriver and The Wipers. Pounding drums pummel the senses, all while layers of heavenly guitar float through, bolstered by sweet vocal lines. Wonderful and memorable!

The longform “Winter Storm Sequence” is a firm favorite of mine. It’s introspective, tranquil, and quite possibly the best song in this suite. Its understated and otherwordly beauty will surely enchant you and keep you coming back for more. You can hear ambient and post rock hints, just before the heavy ‘gaze kicks into high gear. “Terra Lontana” uncoils like a viper, striking the senses with its dichotomy of airy vocals and mind-bending guitar. “3am Reveries” is another winner, with a huge hook that won’t fail to reel you in! This one should really be a single and deserves major airplay.

“For a Moment I Forget You Were Gone” has all the shoegaze elements firmly in place, and varies between bliss-induced vocals and a zillion layers of sound. Play this one loud! The final “White Lights Ascending” reverts slightly to post-rock with a side of dream pop. It’s a fine ending to a grand album, certainly one of the best of 2019 and one you should absolutely not miss.

11 July 2019

INTERVIEW: Roya and Matt of So Totally.

So Totally tape release party *tonight* in Philadelphia.

Rarely have we celebrated a band’s debut full-length as much as we have So Totally’s May 2019 release in the shape of…. The Philadelphia, PA quartet, founded about four years ago, here delivers a fresh new blast of classic nineties-style American shoegaze and noise rock, bringing to mind Lilys, Swirlies, and Medicine, as well as MBV (check out “Vision”). Furthermore, these nine songs will have no trouble holding their own in mixes with such seminal projects. Look no further than So Totally for proof that it’s still fully possible to work this kind of territory and come out with a distinctive, exciting sound of your own.

In the shape of… is rich and subtle enough to listen to day after day and continuously yield new rewards. Its compact thirty-two minutes pass too quickly while nonetheless leaving the sense of a well-wrought, completed whole, solidly put together yet generous with the textural bristle and surges of squall essential to this kind of music.

So Totally first appeared on the radar with the archly titled December, 2016 digital and cassette EP a cheap close-up of heaven. The ensemble consists of Roya Weidman and Matt Arbiz on vocals and guitars—offering the kind of male-female vocal interplay so exquisitely employed among the bands mentioned above—with Ryan Wildsmith on bass and Joe McLaughlin on drums.

In the shape of... is available digitally through Bandcamp. The cassette edition, released today, will be available only at the band's shows until Citrus City Records offers it online sometime shortly before the end of the month.

Huge thanks to Roya and Matt for the time, effort, and thoughtfulness involved in providing the following interview.
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How and when was the band formed?
Matt: The band started in 2015 as a three-piece. Roya and I booked a full band gig without having a drummer.  Joe and I were working together at the time and had a lot of overlapping music taste so he agreed to fill in for a few shows. Luckily it became a permanent thing. When we brought Ryan in on bass, we had played in previous bands together so it felt like a no-brainer. The creative chemistry was really good right from the start.

Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (new releases, tour, etc.)?
Roya: We digitally self-released our first full length in the shape of… on May 3rd. It took very long (over a year) to finish, but we’re happy it’s finally out!! Citrus City Records, who co-released our EP with Forged Artifacts, has done tapes for this record too.

Matt: We’ll be having a tape release show at Johnny Brenda’s in Philly on Thursday, July 11th [Tonight!-Ed.]. We’re hoping to have new music recorded and tour plans set by end of summer. There are definitely things in the works.

Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
Roya: I think we have our shoegaze moments. Someone referred to us as heavy reverb’d indie recently, which sounds right. I don't think we directly identify with any one genre. It's more about blending whatever influences we have at the moment, not saying no to ideas, etc.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
Matt: There are a lot of good bands making music right now: Ringo Deathstarr, Froth, Ulrika Spacek.

Roya: Crumb, Stove, Melody’s Echo Chamber, plenty more that I’m forgetting right now.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
Roya: I got Curtis Novak Gold Foil pickups installed in my guitar (J Mascis Jazzmaster) and they’re really clear/beautiful! The Electro-Harmonix Cathedral reverb was the first pedal I ever got, Matt actually got it for me! But it’s still the reverb I use, it has a lot of options and makes everything sound full.

Matt: My Sunn Concert Lead is the backbone of my rig. It’s the loudest and cleanest amp. Effect-wise, they all contribute to our sound so it's hard to pick just one. Definitely my nineties reissue Fuzz Face. I’ve been through a bunch of fuzzes but this one seems to move the most air. The Eventide Space reverb is also such a sick pedal. Makes everything sound huge.

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others?
Roya: Most of our recording is done in our apartment. We live above an art gallery that is only open a few times a week so when we want to be loud, we can be.

Matt: In the past, we used a Tascam 16x08 interface to track everything into GarageBand on an old 2012 Macbook, which all had their limitations. Since finishing the record, we’ve upgraded to a Focusrite Clarett 8preX and gave the laptop an overhaul. On in the shape of..., we had the opportunity to record drums and bass in a studio with our friends Chance and Hank and they sound killer.  We ran the drums through a Neve preamp and distorted the hell out of them, something we never could do at the apartment.

Roya: The most important thing is feeling comfortable and being able to know when to push and “perfect” something or when to let it be. Have a vision going in and make it happen.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/Bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
Matt: Self-releasing music is all we’ve done with Totally but I think the overall experience with releasing through a label is that there is a lot of waiting around. Label schedules can put you out six plus months from recordings.

Roya: We aren’t anti-label by any means but we take a long time to create what we make and for this last release we wanted to do it at our own pace. By the time we finish, we want to put it out as soon as possible.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or MP3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?
Matt: As far as sound goes, I think we all enjoy a good low-end presence and that’s hard to get with cassettes and vinyl. I guess it depends on how you’re listening. As long as you can listen to it loudly, I don't think it matters.

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?Roya: Some of our all-time faves are bands that can fill space with big textured sounds. Swirlies were always good for that, and the Pixies for weird transitions and melodies.

Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc.)?
Matt: Early Gregg Araki movies like Doom Generation, Nowhere. They’re all super pleasant visually and have great soundtracks (Medicine, Lush, Catherine Wheel, The Jesus and Mary Chain).

Roya: Anything sensory overload. Old movies before everything was CGI have the best visuals, anything horror or weird mixed media.

If you had to choose one track that was the ultimate definition of your sound, which would it be and why?
Matt: This question is hard! I think we both feel like “Pluto” encompasses our sound pretty well. A lot of our sound is created around merging of our different songwriting styles and what we bring to the table when the songs are being written. Pluto is one of those ones that came together pretty quickly and has pieces of everyone’s style in it. It’s always cool when that happens!

Can you tell us a little about the band’s song writing process?
Roya: Usually Matt or I write a basic structure for the song and bring it to each other to start piecing together ideas. Sometimes I’ll sit on lyrics for a long time and apply them to songs as we go but other times the whole song comes at once, so it’s hard to say. But we usually just go to practice with some ideas and everyone sorta goes at it ‘til we work it out! It’s fun.

Photographs by Maureen Murphy.

So Totally on: