YEAH YEAH YOLO.
Y.A.L.A. by M.I.A.
I met Phillip Morris at a sick ass Halloween party in Northeast a couple weeks ago. He was in charge of the cups, very polite and dressed as Dartanian from the 3 Musketeers. I was a little bummed because I thought his gigantic wig was his real hair (hey, it was a great look). Later in the evening, we were sitting by the fire and started talking about music and shit. I had recognized his name from my friend in Seyah and their CD release show a year and a half ago at the Entry (local famous musico babez Lizzo and Sophia Eris performed at that show well). However, I don’t think I got to see Phillip Morris that night because he was on his way back from Chicago and got to the show extra late, or I was being a total bum and had to be in bed by midnight. WHATEVER OK.
Anyways, the night partied on beautifully, twitter handles were exchanged, and the rest my good internet pals is this: Phillip Morris and Wide Eyes (which consists of Minneapolis artists/producers Sean Anonymous, Tony Phantom, DJ NAME and Dimitry Killstorm) have banded together to collaborate on an album released last week titled “The Sick and the Dead“. It is awesome and really cool. Download it below, throw these talents a few bones, and settle in all cozy-like with an awesome interview below from your new favorite rapper, Mr. Phillip Morris.
I originally started writing short stories in 4th or 5th grade, as my defense mechanism. I was getting picked on and bullied pretty frequently since i was really short and uber nerdy. That ended up resulting in me starting to make music approximately 15 years ago. After I ate LSD for the first time, i decided that I wanted to seriously make music for a living. I was NOT a good rapper then, but that was the turning point where i decided to take it much more seriously and start practicing a lot more. It took me about 6 more years to finally get to a point where I was comfortable performing in front of Chicago crowds.
First of all I have a lot of love and respect for Wide Eyes. Not only are they some stand up dudes, but they are definitely responsible for me becoming popular in Minneapolis. I was living in Chicago when i met them, the first big Mpls show I did was at their video release party for Borrowed Time, and after that show the momentum just kept going. So yeah, one day my younger whiter twin brother by the name of Sean Anonymous approached me with the idea of doing a collaborative project together and I was like YUP YUP HOME SKILLET THAT’S A STELLAR IDEA and then we began working on it. The official release party is 11/15 at Triple Rock (West Bank in Minneapolis).
I would most like to perform on Uranus because then when girls would ask me when’s my next show I could be like “Hey there girl…thanks for asking! I’m currently touring across Uranus.” and they might just mistakenly think i was talking about touring their bootyhole. (Okay that was a bit juvenile, but it made me giggle) Yup. Uranus all day. But okay, the real reeeeal reason is that it’s the only planet named after a Greek God (as the rest are named after Roman gods) and I am a huge mythology buff but i prefer Greek over Roman. (Sidenote: I have won 1st place in 3 separate citywide mythology competitions in Chicago. Mythology nerd. Yup. Okay, I’m done)
Fastidious Metaphor Jamboree?
I was first introduced to Jus Post Bellum‘s music over too many cocktails with band member Hannah Jensen’s sister Kitty (who is also a musical wunderkind along with their Minneapolis music scene ICON mother Wendy Lewis). I can’t even being to quote her, but it was summer, we were drunk on the sidewalk patio of Cause, and Kitty said something like “my sister’s band is fucking awesome!!!” Which is all you really need to hear to give something a listen.
It’s so cool when you listen to music like Jus Post Bellum, especially because it’s something that transports you directly to another era with one bass note or a drum cadence. In “Stonewall Jackson” you are sent to a field, feeling the sluggish heat and bugs biting your ankles; in “Shotgun Wedding” you’re riding in the back of a truck driving down a dirt road; from the title track of their first full album release, “Devil Winter”, you can hear the existential drain of winter, yet hopeful defiance that spring is on its way. It’s the kind of music that draws you in to listen, instead of demanding your attention like the sometimes obnoxious thump of a dubstep drop.
Anyways, as for the actual people behind Jus Post Bellum, there is Geoffrey Wilson (lead vocals, guitar), Hannah Jensen (vocals), Zach Dunham (drums, percussion, vocals), and Daniel Bieber (bass, cello, vocals). Below, Geoffrey answers my 7 Questions in Heaven about the birth of Jus Post Bellum, race in America and drinking with the hottest emancipator of all time, Abe Lincoln.
One version goes that Jus Post Bellum got its start in the apartment I had while living in the New York Hudson Valley. I had just graduated from college(I studied music and American Studies) and was working full-time at a school for kids with developmental disabilities. I was also waiting tables and bar tending. I was gifted one of those 70′s era organs with foot pedals and funny analog instrument sounds from a man named Dr. Kim, a loop pedal from a friend John, an old Kay guitar from another friend John. I also had an array of woodwind and and percussion from my collection(*note I am a hoarder of instruments and other stuff) I played saxophones in a Minimalist-Afrobeat band and in my free time recorded weird multi-layered acoustic tracks on the looper. Fast-forward a couple years, I moved to Brooklyn for grad-school and and continued secretly writing and recording ambient singer song-writer inspired tunes. At a very low point, I went alone to a party and met a girl named Hannah. During our year long courtship I wrote the first official JPB song ‘Stonewall Jackson’ in homage to that complicated war hero, and realized my interest in American History and folk style music worked very well together. Duh! Hannah encouraged me to come out of my shell a bit and sing her some songs. Then we started singing together. The rest is history.
Obviously Abe Lincoln. Though I am most interested in the lesser known subtleties of that era. It would really be foolish to skip that chance. I so admire his pragmatism and in a big way it is at the root of how I approach the characters in my songs. I often choose to write from the perspective of a white southern man, a woman, a child. I look to find the good in “villains” and tell complicated histories, and injustices borne by both sides. This all is an effort to illuminate the complexity of our American History. Jus Post Bellum means Justice After War, and one of my goals has been to explore the full scope of what is just and unjust in that period of time.
__________________Indeed! We have 2 full length videos set to be released over the coming weeks [one of which is shot by Drew Weigel and Bushwick Happy Hour]. We are so excited for them and so thankful for the many people that dedicate their time to help us make these works of art happen. One will be a more classic “Music Video” directed and shot by Oscar Hudson in upstate NY at a house where I used to live. It was an overnight shoot and a bunch of our friends and local folks jumped in last minute to play characters. Its a bit light hearted, and was so much fun. The second was done by a collective of artists here in Brooklyn (and fellow minnesotans!) and is a beautifully conceived and executed work of art. Both are very different from one another but serve the music really well.
This is a great question, and perhaps more than I can tackle at one time. Speaking for myself as an African American person and more broadly as an American, addressing the topic of race is a complicated task. It is fraught with many differing opinions, and one which opens you up much criticism wherever your opinion may fall. If we limit this conversation to race as it relates to art, we are inevitably going to discuss the performative aspects of art, specifically music. In my mind these are inextricable from the larger context of the performative aspects of culture. I.E Blackness, whiteness, wealth, poverty. I’m writing you as a black guy, singing a fairly white American(at least in appeal) style of Folk derived music, likely appropriated in large part from black musicians in the rural south.
Growing up I lived for 10 years in North Minneapolis on Washburn Avenue, and then moved to Golden Valley for my adolescent years. Both my folks are from the economically poor, and predominantly black and hispanic side of San Antonio, Texas. I think moving to Minnesota, and specifically to the suburbs, my parents wanted to provide us with a sense of community with a more broad range of identities and possibilities. It should come as no surprise I’m not big on overtly performative aspects of race. More than once I’ve been asked indirectly or very directly why I don’t act black. I’ve never had a great answer other than to say all I can do is be myself. Like Prince;)
You mentioned Caroline Smith. We shared a bill out here in NYC a while back, but I haven’t seen her new, more soul inspired work. My estimation is that stylistically her performance might be a larger reflection of “pop music” moving towards a more stereotypically black aesthetic. Hip Hop and Pop music becoming more and more synonymous. Much is being said about this topic so I wont go into it except to say that if as Andrea Swensson suggested in her recent article music deserving an equal audience is being ignored in the nearby North Minneapolis community in favor of something more palatable and in fact co-opting the label “black music”, we may have a problem. And no doubt this happens all over the country. But if it is as I expect, simply that audiences enjoy Caroline’s voice, music, etc, and are excited about her expanding her palate and genre as a larger reflection of enthusiasm over soul music, so be it. What right do we have to deny her talent because of her race? While I’ve turned more than a few heads, especially singing our more country tinged numbers, name dropping “Stonewall Jackson” and the “N Word!”, especially in the south, no one has told me I can’t sing “white folks music”, yet…
In regards to the record: I intentionally say the songs are inspired by the Civil War. Some of them are overtly about figures or topics directly related to the period, others simply use that time period as a sort of working point and may not mention it at all. “Abe and Johnny” is most obvious, it is an homage to their parallel tragedies. “Sonny” is a fictionalized story about a confederate army deserter and pacifist. Others like “Oh July”, “Tell Me Mama”, or “For the Brokenhearted” mention elements of war or conflict as a backdrop for a romantic, or other tragic occurrence. Race certainly plays a part in the songs, but as in the war itself, race was only one element of a larger conflict.
Much of our touring has been through the south. I’d hate to offend any one of the many amazing folks who helped us along the way, that wouldn’t be very Minnesotan of me now would it? So suffice it to say, we ate a lot of delicious BBQ and stayed in many great towns. And if your town has a great BBQ joint and a thrift store, we will come, eat, play, and stay the night.
We will be touring the first couple weeks of november. We will also be doing a show or two in Minnesota over the Christmas holiday, so stay tuned. Dates below:
11/5/13: Washington DC -Hill Country, 8:30PM FREE
11/7/13: Chicago, IL - The Burlington, Doors 9PM $5 donation
11/8/13: Louisville, KY - Atlantic No5 TBD
11/12/13: Boston, MA - The Beehive, 8PM-12AM FREE
11/13/13: Cambridge, MA - The Beat Hotel, 8PM-12AM FREE
11/14/13: Philadelphia, PA - Tin Angel TBD
Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan. Both of them made folk-art in service to their times, but not limited by that context. This is something I greatly admire. There are many other lesser known American Blues and Folk artists who contributed greatly to this cannon but for me these guys are the top. Guthrie continues to inspire me to look closely at complicated and real histories and capture them in plainspoken, simply executed ways. Dylan encourages me to be aware of my time and place, and to not be afraid to use language, metaphor, and more importantly things said, unsaid, or merely suggested lyrically to stretch the boundaries of songwriting and the tolerance of our audience. And they also happened to have great voices
Have you heard of Lizzo yet? HAVE YOU?! She’s everywhere in the Minneapolis music scene. For real. Last year she was girl-groupin’ it with The Chalice, a 3-piece girl group comprised of staples in the Mpls music scene: Ms. Lizzo, Sophia Eris, Claire de Lune. This year, she’s been busy with another girl group called GRRRL PRTY (Lizzo, Manchita and Sophia Eris) and her own solo release radly titled LIZZOBANGERS (which, by the way, I believe was titled waaaaay before Miley Cyrus swooped in with her Bangerz album BUT WHATEVS MILEY. WHAT-EVZ).
Anyways, LIZZOBANGERS was released this week out of local Minneapolis cool kid record label Totally Gross National Product. The album was produced by Lazerbeak (Doomtree) with creative guidance by Ryan Olson (Poliça). If you listen to the Current or Radio K, you’ve probably heard her first single “Batches and Cookies” (featuring Sophia Eris) allllll ova the airwaves. It’s a hip ass song for two reasons: sick beat and WHO THE FUCK DOESN’T LOVE COOKIES. Maybe we’re entering into a new trend in the Minneapolis music scene. After all, Caroline Smith sings about lemons in her latest single “Magazine.” Perhaps as a metro area, we really connect and identify with songs featuring foodstuffs. I know I do.
SO. If you’re into hip hop, kool chicks and mpls tunes, LIZZOBANGERS is the album 4 U. There are 13 tracks and there’s a song called “Bus Passes and Happy Meals” which is basically my new Wednesday afternoon anthem on the 16. Pick it up on iTunes RIGHT HERE BABIES.
Britney released the video for her latest single, “Work Bitch” and it’s a step in a good direction. In the vid, Britster moves her legs way more in the dance scenes than in past videos of recent history. See “Till the World Ends” for the modern Britney arm wave dance-like reference. So yeah, this is pretty huge, folks. I can’t help but think every single time I see her perform in a video or live that her dancing just isn’t there anymore. But in this video, her dancing is creeping back to almost good again. As you may or may not know, in 2004 Ms. B broke her knee on the set of the video for “Outrageous,” thus leading into the downward spiral we all sort of lovingly remember. In the knee breaking video, you can see how FUCKING AWESOME she was moving. But she just can’t do it like she used to. Of course I feel like a shit fan for wishing and hoping she would dance like the old days.
Hope is such a dangerous drug.
“Work Bitch” also raises important societal questions like:
Will Britney’s new song inspire millions of people to work?
Will everyone who has been avoiding the gym finally get out of their laptop/couch coma and get to sweatin’?
Will Congress finally get their shit together after a Britney dance party?
Let’s hope so. I know I’ve gotten through some weird times by listening to Britney. There’s something ethereal and existentially comforting about listening to a woman ask a stranger to fuck her in the back room of the club, all over super hot club beats. The air of “Fuck it” and “Imma get what I want!” is so inspiring. When you’re knee deep in quarter-life crisis, it’s important to have Britney there as a reminder that you REALLY, REALLY can make it through anything.
CAN a pop song inspire a nation to quit being lazy shitbags on a personal and professional level and “Work Bitch”? Time will only tell if our Godney will deliver us from evil.
GOD DAMN I LOVE THIS SONG. Minneapolis wundergal Caroline Smith is gearing up to release her latest album titled “Half About Being a Woman.” And it’s gonna be killer. Like, this chick is blowin’ up killer. Because if you haven’t heard of her yet, holy shit. She’s about to blow your world. She has a show on the 27th of Sept. at First Avenue in MPLS, otherwise I’m sure she’ll be on tour in a city near you soon. You’ll wanna see it.
The first time I saw her live was 8 years ago when we were all in college, at the 400 bar. She had hand written CDs and gave me one fo’ free cuz I was cash poor/my friend was dating her friend. My favorite song from that (I think) first little album was “Clench My Teeth.” Very folky, very pretty. I am so proud of her, not only because she’s fucking awesome but also because she’s an awesome part of the music scene in the good ol’ MSP. AND I’m also excited to see where her career goes from here, because I have a feeling its gonna be amazing!!
Def check out her new album when its out, which is I believe Sept. 27. YAY!!!!!
Here is a comp I found on Youtube that was suggested after watching “ashlee simpson singing live” videos.
BRITNEY ROCKS 4 EVER.
I happened upon this marvelous B Spears vid after torturing myself by watching a ton of Ashlee Simpson live performance videos. Because, you know, I wanted to remind myself that I once loved Ashlee Simpson, drove an hour and a half to meet her AND got her autograph. To this day it remains my darkest pop culture hour.
But for real. Ashlee Simpson. Could America could have crafted a less compelling performer? Like, to start, bitch doesn’t even have good style. She was like a watered down pop version of a pretty attractive, “i like 2 ware black n dark green cuz its edgy and my sister is a pretty blonde singar so i gotta stand out sum how,” pretending to be emo because of market trends, dad hooks up everything cuz he’s a closet gay minister and gays have weird powers, hot topic loving kind of gal, which is probably just the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. She must be just the most vapid and undeserved person in Hollywood, because everything was without a doubt handed to her. There’s one thing to be a pop star who follows the trends and gives the audience what they want to hear and see. It’s another to expect that your audience will follow your weird, manufactured “punk” persona and shitty music because of your formerly B+ famous family. People posing as punks are so fucking lame, because it’s not even that hard to be a punk. That’s how dumb her career was.
The only thing she really ever earned was all the times she got booed for being a shitty performer. She also married Pete Wentz, who is kind of annoying on Twitter so you can only imagine how annoying they must have been IRL together. *shudders*
You can even see her “A” for Ashlee in an anarchy symbol. Hahahahahaah WUT?! Nobody performing at a televised half time show for a football game is an anarchist. Take a shit on stage at a televised half time show screaming “WE ARE ALL SHIT” while setting a football player on fire and you’ve got yourself a genuine moment of anarchy brought to you by MTV. She wasn’t even trying!
What a horrible pock on the last decade in American pop culture. Music industry Gods willing this lady never puts out another single, EVER.
My first introduction into the world of KILLSTREAK was at a secret santa party in December 2012. Our mutual friend Kait (hey gurl) had given me “Tony-he’s 19 and a rapper in a group called Killstreak.” Gifts were exchanged at the party, facebook friendships were forged, and new music was introduced, as KILLSTREAK had just released a song with local slam poet/hip hop artist Guante titled “Collateral Damage.”
I was really impressed with Tony’s lyrical content and youthful yet old soul passion and intelligence that bleeds from his music. Granted I was only 5 years older than him at the time, but still-it’s rare to meet a 19 year old (or any teen/20 something for that matter) with any kind of direction and certainty in their life, let alone confidence and drive for their art. It’s a powerful and unassuming vibe for real, and that’s what makes their music and performances so philosophically ballin’.
Tony and his KILLSTREAK partner/producer/pal, ICETEP, released their first full-length album this summer titled “Janus.” (You can read a solid review about it here and buy it here). They are definitely gonna be two guys to keep an eye on in the music scene over the next few years, together and independently. Check out what this Minneapolis hip-hop wunderkind duo has to say about the origin of their fantastic name, Yeezus, sex in college and Carly Rae Jepsen.
T: I’ve been rapping for about 6 or 7 years, although I’ve been making music my whole life. ICETEP started out playing the piano at age 5 and has been making beats for about 3 years. We first realized we meshed musically about 2 years ago when we were reintroduced by a mutual friend. At first we didn’t really like each other’s shit, but we grew together and gained a mutual respect. 2 years later, we have an album out and are best friends. It’s funny how things work out.
I: For a long time we couldn’t decide on a group name, one day we were chatting and one of us suggested “KILLSTREAK” as a joke, because we both mutually decided that it was a dumb name for a rap group. Flash forward a couple of days and we both sort of independently decided it was the perfect name. It’s less like a streak of “quaint” blood and more of like that blood straight out of “The Shining” just a massive tidal wave. (T: It’s also a play on the nerdiness of our personalities, because it’s a video gaming term. We thought it fit us well to have something nerdy and intimidating) A “Janus” is the Roman god of Duality, Entryways, Beginnings and Entryways. It was a fitting name for the album though, because it represents a time in our lives where we both were changing from one artistic space to another, as well as representing the overt duality we intended for the general theme of the artistic content of the album.
T: Disillusionment with society. Also, watching how people act when they want to have sex with other people, because a lot of people act really different when they really want to have sex with someone. And just interpersonal interaction in general– that kinda stuff is mad interesting to me; I’m a sociology major and a huge extrovert so I’m continually fascinated by how people interact in group settings.
I: Yo fam I love bedroom shows, I wish we could play more, but usually people have really small bedrooms, and I’m not about me and Tony being the third and fourth wheel of a good time. This summer we unfortunately do not have any underground shows on the horizon, but we do have a couple of legit shows that are still being organized. That being said, from the house parties I’ve played, in my experience I’d rather just play in an actual venue, because people go to shows at venues with the explicit purpose of (usually) seeing an artist or a band. It’s not like I don’t like hanging out with drunk people, but I feel venues have determined drunk people. We’ll probably end up playing lots of underground shows in the spring just because T has a house in nor cal, and I am about that life.
T: Kanye West, Doomtree, Linkin Park, Rustie, Flying Lotus, and giant robot anime. Bam.
I: I’d really love to do a whole album with Kanye West actually, I know a lot of people are divided over Yeezus, but I still really fucks with him both as a rapper and as a producer. I guess I’m more interested in just hanging out with him in the studio than anything, like seeing what his process is like and what not. If Kanye wasn’t available though, prolly Flocka. Dude goes IN when he’s in the studio. BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BRRRRRRIIIIICCCCKKKKKKK SQQQUUUUUAAAADDDDDDDDDDD. (video context: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvJDiZwGGd4)
T: I love Party in The USA. And Call Me Maybe. Anybody who doesn’t like Carly Rae Jepsen can eat a bag of dicks. Straight up.