Tag Archives: Emmett Kelly

Ep. #285: Chicago Underground Duo

Chicago Underground Duo consists of two very notable musicians: Rob Mazurek (also of Exploding Star Orchestra, Starlicker, Pulsar Quartet, Rob Mazurek Octet, São Paulo Underground) and Chad Taylor (also of Marc Ribot Trio, Side A, Digital Primitives), who formed the group in 1997. When asked to describe their work together, they suggested their music is “an organic mixture of African, Electronic, Coloristic, Jazz influenced life supporting systematic, non-systematic feeling from two humans trying ever to expand outward and inward for the people and ourselves.” The duo’s seventh album is called Locus, which was released by Northern Spy Records in 2014, and Chicago Underground Duo played the 2016 Guelph Jazz Festival this past September, which is when we caught up for this conversation. Here, we discuss why Rob thinks Guelph is friendly and full of free hamburgers, playing small cities with cool music scenes, Peterborough New Hampshire, Ajay Heble and Julie Hastings and the Guelph Jazz Festival, how some festivals go safe, when B.B. King would play at jazz festivals, open-ended and creative music, opening for Stereolab, what indie-rock might mean these days, what 20 years ago was like for outsider musicians, social music networks, music marketing and music media that can’t figure out story angles, jazz and intellectualism, the origins of jazz as a process, the relationship between niche and big budget, general audience festivals, Esmerine, competition and cultural cores, the future of the Guelph Jazz Festival, underground culture will always thrive, Mike Reed in Chicago who founded the Pitchfork Music Festival, Rob’s fascination with the Underground, when 24 year-old Rob encountered 16 year-old Chad, Chad’s history with classical guitar playing, how both attended jazz school in Chicago, Henry Threadgill, Steve McCall, Fred Hopkins, and Air, a personal meltdown at a recital, jazz and authority and parameters and freedom and improvisation, trouble with a lower case ‘t,’ playing drums and hearing Marc Ribot play guitar, introducing electronics to CUD and musique concrete, Chad’s resistance, ‘no fear,’ samplers and modulators, the windy city, when Rob and Chad each left Chicago, gentrification and displacement, how Chicago was designed, poor communities have been pushed further out of the core of the city, the vilification of Chicago and its correspondence with the terms of President Barack Obama, when Tortoise discussed their experiences with gun violence on this show, living in Sao Paulo, the proliferation of fear in American mass media, the surreal U.S. election and its lingering impact, Bernie Sanders and the Clintons, Chad’s grandmother and declining wages, the Chicago Underground Duo record Locus, a Chicago London Underground record with Alexander Hawkins and John Edwards that’s coming out in January, the new São Paulo Underground record, Cantos Invisíveis, which is out now via Cuneiform Records, Rob’s new record with Emmett Kelly, Alien Flower Sutra that’s out now, the Chicago Underground Duo song “Yaa Yaa Kole,” and then we went underground.

Related links: northernspyrecords.com/artist/chicago-underground-duo vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #193: Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen is an evocative and true singer and songwriter who originally hails from Missouri but now calls North Carolina home. A frequent collaborator of Bonnie “Prince” Billy, as well as the Cairo Gang, Olsen emerged as a solo force with her 2010 debut EP, Strange Cacti and its 2012 full-length follow-up, Half Way Home. Her most recent album is Burn Your Fire for No Witness, which was widely hailed as a masterpiece and the best album of 2014 according to the A.V. Club. The record is available via Jagjaguwar and Olsen is playing select solo shows in Canada, including a NXNE appearance on June 20 in Toronto and Sappyfest in Sackville, New Brunswick on August 1. Here, Angel and I talk about how it’s funny to be called the best, lists and friendships, the year 2014, Dude Incredible by Shellac of North America, forming a band and playing solo, how band arrangements might impact deeply personal creations, working with Will Oldham and the Cairo Gang and leadership, other people’s annoying suggestions, what Burn Your Fire for No Witness might say about Angel’s 26th year, people’s fixation on darkness in her work even though there’s lightness in there, people should be able to sense her sense of humour, comedy jokes, two nuns and an orgasm, funny and mystifying lyrics, where the songs might come from, external perceptions and disappointing media coverage, podcasts are preferable, e-mail interviews too, nosy journalists, early music days for Angel, makeshift audio engineering, Skeeter Davis and the Davis Sisters, busking in St. Louis, early days working with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Emmett Kelly, people might be popping off too soon, getting into film and filmmaking maybe, writing a book, the movie Paper Moon, the next album is shaping up in some ways, recording everyday, conversations at parties that are presumably about LeBron James, a possible Angel Olsen covers album, working on piano pieces for something, the use value in learning another person’s song, the Everly Brothers and singing like you talk, the song “Iota,” insecurity, and this was fun.

Related links: angelolsen.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #134: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is the long-held moniker of the esteemed and uncompromising songwriter, singer, actor, producer, and musician Will Oldham who hails from Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past twenty years, he has been remarkably prolific and displayed an astonishing dedication to the quality of his craft, which is ostensibly folk, rock, or country music of the highest level. He has been something of a shape-shifter, working under different names like Palace Brothers, Palace Music, Palace Contribution, Bonny Billy, and his own given name, Will Oldham. He has also collaborated with different backing bands and hundreds of other artists and worked with many record labels outside of his core partnership with Drag City. Oldham also has a fluid relationship with his own work, often re-interpreting, re-recording, and, in a sense, re-releasing his own songs in different forms. In 2011, he put out a record called Wolfroy Goes to Town and his new album, Singer’s Grave a Sea of Tongues, which is out now via Drag City, recalls songs from those Wolfroy sessions. Here, Will and I discuss The Family Circus footprints, talking to people in Slint, how Singer’s Grave a Sea of Tongues may represent an alternate reality than Wolfroy Goes to Town but the records actually aren’t really all that connected, the DC comics parallel universes, the Justice League of America and the Justice Association of America, different versions of the Flash aren’t really related to one another, I don’t understand the DC universe, people might be misremembering Wolfroy Goes to Town, how people remake movies years apart and can have vastly different audiences,Yasujirō Ozu, Douglas Sirk, definitive versions of things, creative fulfillment versus expectations met, Yusuf Islam reinterpreting his older songs for newer material, Bob Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings,” Pixies and Rolling Stones, when the Ramones would cover songs on their albums, factors that impact a recording, how Will prepped Emmett Kelly and Paul Oldham ahead of working on Singer’s Grave a Sea of Tongues, white elephants and gorillas, “Fuck Birds in the Bushes” bumper stickers, taking stock of one’s own work via their own work, R. Kelly and David Allan Coe, Ian Fleming’s James Bond books, The Man Who Would Be King by John Huston and its influence on the song “So Far and Here We Are,” confidence and confusion, why we need to issue challenges from time to time, most awkward radio interview ever, how and why to promote music, the pros and cons of self-awareness, human RAM, Robin Williams, early teens triggers, going to acting day camp as a kid, Louisville punk bands like Malignant Growth and Languid and Flaccid, seeing Hüsker Dü and going to Maurice and Slint band practices, taking pictures, making a living acting and not needing college, the weirdness around agents and auditions compared to Louisville’s creative, unmediated music community, touring with Samhain and Squirrel Bait and seeing Dinosaur, then seeing Sonic Youth and the Necros, Lydia Lunch, Jim Thirlwell Foetus, CBGBs, bullshit intolerance, Old Joy, Pioneer, indirect parental support for kids in bands in Louisville, Matewan, encountering Steve Albini, the Slint doc Breadcrumb Trail and Britt Walford’s awesome parents, what the hell is up with Silver Jews leader David Berman, Berman’s stressful, strained relationship with his conservative lobbyist father, an extensive forthcoming article about Richard Berman in Mother Jones, calling David Berman, perhaps we’ll hear or read something new from Berman some time soon, how Berman brought Will to Drag City, sending demos to Interscope Records, Harpo and Chico Marx, an Italian woman and two Dutch guys aren’t into the Frogs’ It’s Only Right and Natural, laughing a lot with Slint, working with people like Dawn McCarthy, David Ferguson, Matt Sweeney, playing a show at a state prison and getting closer and closer to meeting Don Everly, twin Mexican wives, maybe performing “Omaha” before Don, Bill Withers didn’t maybe care so much, Manual Cinema in Chicago, complicated websites, the songs “We Are Unhappy” and “New Black Rich (Tusks),” and then it’s time to be clear.

Related links: royalstablemusic.com dragcity.com vishkhanna.com

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