Professor Plumb’s "Pleiades" Is Brought to Life in an Epic, Animated Space Odyssey

By: Adam Cabrera

In Professor Plumb’s new music video, their psych-rock song “Pleiades” is brought to life in an epic, animated space odyssey. 

Composed by bandleader Benom Plumb and animated by Jeremy Brown, the blazing rock’n’roll instrumental is illustrated into an adventure out of the solar system and across the galaxy to the distant star cluster known as the Pleiades. 

The track, which was first released in 2018 on their Majic 12 EP, is an example of the band’s compositional side. Plumb argues, “I've always thought of myself as more of a composer, than an artist. So at this very early stage in my solo music journey, it's an important part of my overall sound and style.” 

As for the video itself, Plumb was inspired by an old astrological myth while stargazing one night at his home. “My backyard faces south,” Plumb explains, “and on the clearest winter night, the Pleiades can be seen near Orion. There's a ton of legend and mystery surrounding the Pleiades… that's when I came up with the idea for the video.” Planetary alignment, end-of-the-world prophecies, and other science fiction can be found all over Professor Plumb’s other work in songs like “Red Sky” or “Dark Star,” and this new music video is no exception. 

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Plumb took his ideas to Brown, initially picturing a fleet of alien spaceships headed home to their star in the Pleiades. However, according to Plumb, they decided to remove the ships in favor of something more visually abstract while still trying to allude to the idea of an advanced alien civilization. In place of spaceships, Brown came up with the concept of an outer space “megastructure.”

“Visually, it’s a hodgepodge of concept art from all over the internet and from some of my favorite sci-fi films, TV shows, and games,” Brown says about the music video’s final image of a Dyson sphere (a colossal space structure built to harness the energy of a star). 

Fueled by Professor Plumb’s high-energy space-rock performance, Brown describes the final cut as “a hyper-real, first-person journey to a distant part of the galaxy” and a “mysterious galactic tour guide.” 

Check out the full interview below if you’re interested in learning more about Professor Plumb, Pleiades, and the creative production behind the video. You can also check out the new video on Professor Plumb's website where you can find more of their music along with more information about the band. They’ll be performing live at Denver’s Underground Music Showcase happening July 26th to July 28th and are also planning to release a lyric video for their new song “Take That!” sometime soon.

Professor Plumb.

Professor Plumb.

In your previous work there is a big emphasis on political or societal themes like in last years Midnight Creep lyric video or this years single Red Sky. But, with Pleiades being an instrumental it seems that you’ve decided to put an emphasis on more of the space rock / psychedelic side of the band. Is this the case or does the song represent more to you as the writer? 

BP: Yes, that's definitely the case with “Pleiades.” I've always thought of myself as more of a composer, than an artist. Pleiades was an opportunity for me to display my compositional side and cosmic wonder. 

What was the reason behind naming the song “Pleiades?” And, What made you decide to produce a music video for this song in particular?

BP: Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like to travel to a constellation that can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. My backyard faces south and on the clearest winter night, the Pleiades can be seen near Orion. There's a ton of legend and mystery surrounding the Pleiades, so that sounded like a good one to visit to me. That's when I came up with the idea for the video. I listened to the song over and over with my eyes closed to try and visualize what an epic space travel video would look like. I relayed these ideas to Jeremy and he made it look even better than I imagined in my head. 

How does Pleiades compare to the rest of your catalog in terms of overall sound and style?

BP: Out of all the songs I've written, I think “Pleiades” is one of my favorites. I was always a fan of rock bands doing cool instrumentals and I had always wanted to do one myself. So at this very early stage in my solo music journey, it's an important part of my overall sound and style. I played most of the instruments on the track, so the overall sound of the recording is me. It hits all the points of my catalog so far: dark, mysterious and hopefully, keeping the listener's head bobbing. 

At the end of the video I noticed what looks like a Dyson sphere is pulled into the shot and I’m wondering what that might have to do with the song thematically? Or, just being a fan of science fiction myself, I’m curious if you have any big influences from the sci-fi genre that make their way into your music?

BP: The Dyson sphere is 100% Jeremy so I'll let him address that in more detail. I'm definitely a sci-fi nerd. The original idea of the video was to have some spaceships flying through space to go home to their star in the Pleiades. In production we removed the ships, but kept the idea of visiting a star of an advanced civilization. After talking through this idea, Jeremy came up with the "megastructure" around the starm similar to what scientists recently theorized could be surrounding a massive star observed in our galaxy. 

JB: It’s definitely inspired by a Dyson sphere, but I think a true one would completely encompass the entire star, the idea being that one could harness 100% of the star’s energy. Benom had wanted it to be clear that this star is home to an advanced civilization, and I can’t think of anything more advanced than an enormous space station surrounding a gargantuan star. Visually, it’s a hodgepodge of concept art from all over the internet, and from some of my favorite sci-fi films, TV shows, and games. The god rays and subtle flickering are definitely a nod to present day exo-planet detection techniques!

When I watch the video I can’t help but be reminded of trips to my local planetarium when I was younger and that natural fascination with outer space that most people have. How much does astronomy and maybe even astrology influence your music? And if so, has that been an interest of yours for a long time?

BP: Astronomy has been an interest of mine since I was a kid. I read and study astronomy as a personal hobby, so that has a huge influence for sure. As for astrology, I don't follow it for spiritual living, but I do have an interest in it. We see the marks of astrology all throughout history and that events have coincided when the planets and stars align into certain positions. That's basically what “Red Sky” was about, when Earth sees this dreadful winged planet in its skies, it means destruction is at hand. It's subtle, but this mysterious winged planet from Red Sky makes an appearance in the “Pleiades” video, just as we exit our solar system and before we go into light speed. 

Jeremy, have you worked on any other music videos in the past? If so, how much or how little did your previous experience influence the final product?

JB: This is the first music video I’ve worked on professionally. Earlier in my career, I did a few personal music-related projects here and there, but nothing to this scale. Music videos are a lot different than narrative film, which is primarily my background, in that the music should still take center stage and drive the visuals. Throughout the process, Benom and I wanted to make sure that the visual complexity and intensity ramped up or down based on the energy and beat of the music. I’d like to think that the video helps you hear the song more powerfully so that it makes more of an impact. Furthermore, with an instrumental song like “Pleiades,” I think it’s especially powerful to give the listener an idea of what inspired the music in the first place.

How involved were you with developing the idea for the video? Or, how much of the video was your own creative input compared to Benom?

JB: The creative process was very much a collaborative effort between Benom and myself. The original idea and the initial brief were provided to me early on, and I developed some concept art and storyboards. After that, it was a consistent back and forth between the two of us. For example, we both knew the hyperspace effect was going to be a big part of the video, so that’s one of the first things I began working on, and it went through many iterations before it became what you see in the video. Benom is probably the best client an artist can ask for; his feedback is not only clear and visionary, but also practical and actionable. We both brought our ideas to the table and we saw eye to eye on just about everything. When we did have some differing opinions, we reached compromises that satisfied us both.

Do you have a particular style of animation that you like to brand yourself with or do you not like to box yourself in? Is there a personal animation style that characterizes the video?

JB: This is a difficult question for me to answer, but a great one! Professionally, my background is in post-production for live-action film. Working as a digital compositor (think green screens and CG characters) for 8 years before coming to Colorado, I rarely got to exercise my own creativity beyond the very limited freedom given to me by my supervisors and directors. In other words, my style was the style of whomever was signing my paychecks! I suppose I’d have to say that my “style” is invisible visual effects that aren’t supposed to be noticed… now that I’m in a position to be creative in my own right is that no, I don’t have a style that I like to brand myself with… yet! 

What was the initial idea behind this music video? Did that idea change or develop in the production process? And, did it come out how you had hoped?

BP: The initial idea was to have some spaceships flying through space and time to go home to their star in the Pleiades. The idea did change. For example, in production we removed the ships, but kept the idea of visiting a star of an advanced civilization. It came out amazing and I appreciate Jeremy's patience with me during the process. 

JB: After 40+ iterations, it changed quite a bit in some ways, but stayed true to the original idea in all the ways that count. One thing that we eventually cut was the ship itself. At first, I think we both felt it was really important, but after some feedback that Benom got, we realized that the ship was a distraction that kept viewers from being able to enjoy the rest of the frame. Another example that kind of went the other way, was that originally, the solar system fly-through was much shorter. After a few versions, it became very clear that there’s only so many ways you can make hyperspace, galaxies and stars look different before it starts to get a little boring. So, we decided to give more weight to the solar system at the beginning. In the end, I think it was a great choice for the overall pacing of the video.

One thing I liked in particular about the video is the simplicity and far-outness of it. Was that a creative choice either of you made or maybe a stylistic choice?

BP: I believe it was a mutual creative and stylistic choice. We both imagined a sort of light speed tunnel, like from Star Wars, but more transparent so we could imagine all the galaxies flying by, but all the while, the Pleiades is still forefront in our center vision as a reminder of the destination. 

I also notice how the video throws out a lot of common music video tropes and opts for a more abstract approach. How do you think the video compares to the usual rock video format?

BP: I felt the music really just lent itself to something artistically abstract. I suppose the usual rock format is mostly all about the band, the look, the ego, etc. That's not wrong in any respect, I like to see the band too. However, this is about taking people on a trip for two and a half minutes and the audience has no idea, nor do they care, what the band looks like or who they are. I like that about this video. It's just all about the music and artistic creative expression. 

Are there any upcoming plans for the band that people should know about? What’s this summer look like for Professor Plumb?

PB: I'm releasing a new song and lyric video soon titled, “Take That!,” which hits on the heightened state of paranoia and divisions growing in the U.S. and around the world. I'll also be performing at The Underground Music Showcase, date, time and venue TBD. This set will be cool and different because it will be a rock duet. I'll be performing on bass/vocals with John Demitro (The Velveteers; Pink Fuzz) on electric guitar. 

Keep up with Professor Plumb here.

-Adam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

More Than 20 Years Later, The Acid Mothers Temple Continues to Carry On Their Free-Spirited Way of Life

By: Adam Cabrera

Though perhaps far past their prime, The Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. continues to carry on their free-spirited way of life pertinent to the beatnik soul collective that the group helped found over two decades ago.

The Japanese psychedelic/noise band, who have played a significant role in the psych revival of the past two decades, performed at the Larimer Lounge on Monday night. Though I had the feeling that the band may have lost some of its muster since their heyday in the ‘90s, their bohemian personality and genuine passion for live performance made for a unique show experience.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan opened for the headlining act, a five-piece psych/metal band whose diabolic guitar meddling, dark organ sounds, and powerful vocals effortlessly captured the attention of the crowd and got them moving. Faces painted and wearing decorative costumes which resembled traditional Japanese attire, their performance had a theatrical and often menacing tone as if the music was tapping into some ancient oriental mysticism. But the strange and experimental attitude of the band was only the tip of the iceberg compared to the following act.

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The Acid Mothers group is just a small part of the larger collective led by founding band member Kawabata Makoto. “A group of social dropouts of every description – musicians, dancers, artists, farmers, channellers, ex-yakuza, mermaid researchers and professional vagrants” as the band describes it. So, as the group began to gather themselves onstage to set up their equipment, it was clear each member jived with the nonconformist mantra of the collective.

Kawabata, with a head of long unkempt hair and casually touting a pair of paisley bell bottoms, oddly unpacked his gear out of a grocery basket showing perhaps how he never felt the need to buy cases for his equipment. Likewise, the band’s vocalist, Mitsuko Tabata adorned themselves with a purple cape and orange wig while Higashi Hiroshi played synthesizer; not touching a single key throughout his performance. It seemed he much preferred the alien-like whirring of the machines pitch generator.

Drummer Satoshima Nani humorously came dressed in runners shorts and a loose workout shirt. During the show he pounded relentlessly behind the kit; so much so that he broke his sticks halfway through the set and by the end of the night, he was drenched head to toe in sweat, which explained the runner’s getup.

Together the band was a curious group of misfits who in every action displayed just what the AMT collectives motto states, “Do Whatever You Want, Don’t Do Whatever You Don’t Want!” In their largely improvised set they similarly denied any of the usual trappings of traditional rock performances. And in winding psychedelic jams, they would regularly devolve into ear-splitting noise freakouts or relax comfortably into tranquil sonic meditations.

However, despite the youthful energy of the music at certain points during the evening, the oldest members of the group did show their age. Kawabata often would lean against the wall providing relief from standing for so long. And on one occasion, amid Higashi’s long white hair, you could see him wince as he rubbed his sore back. They may have been long past their prime, but their performance surely was one of the most energizing I’ve seen in recent months.

Before the show, I spotted Kawabata hard at work on his computer, most likely plugging away at the multiple AMT projects he is apart of, and as soon as the show ended the band ran to the front of the club to run their merch table. It’s plain to see that nearly 24 years after their start in 1995, they remain true to their carefree and untroubled beginnings with the AMT soul collective as the band continues to tour the U.S. independently. Over the next few months, be sure to catch them live as they make their way across the country as part of their 2019 North American tour.

Keep up with The Acid Mothers Temple here.

-Adam

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Japanese Band Kikagaku Moyo Delivered a Tightly-Honed Psychedelic Performance at Boulder's Fox Theatre

By: Adam Cabrera

Tuesday night, Kikagaku Moyo performed at Boulder’s own Fox Theater, delivering a performance that ranged from the soft, serenity of acid-folk to the fuzzed drenched, freakouts of heavy psychedelic rock.

Kikagaku Moyo. Photo per the author.

Kikagaku Moyo. Photo per the author.

The Tokyo-based five-piece band, who have been continuing to grow international acclaim, rarely visit North America, and even less frequently make stops in Colorado. So, it wasn’t a surprise to see a theater packed with fans on what would typically be a slow night for most live music venues. All in all, the show was more than expected and turned out to be one of the best I’ve attended over the past year.

Starting out the night was Boulder artist Ashley Koett. What felt like a mix between soul, jazz, and indie bedroom pop, the band brought together a relaxed, laid-back set composed of tasteful bass grooves and catchy guitar melodies, all supported by the pleasant timbre of Ashley’s voice. Following Koett’s crew was WEEED, a psych-rock quintet featuring the uncommon double-drummer setup, along with electric bass, guitar, flute, conga, harmonica, and ambient live-looping. In long, hypnotic jams, the band captivated the audience and got them moving along with the heavily textured percussion and the reverberating daze of guitar solos.

But, as the headliner collected themselves on stage, a noticeable change in energy happened throughout the room. Hair grown well past their shoulders and dressed in clothes which resembled the fashion of the sixties and seventies, Kikagaku Moyo gave off the semblance and character of wandering bohemian mystics with a slew of curious instruments placed upon the stage. The usual cast was present (drums, bass,keyboard, and guitar), but the unusual characters such as the electric sitar (a defining aspect of their sound), and cello also found their place among the band.

Tightly-honed, as well as spaciously free-formed, together they played through the best of their catalog adding unique improvised moments which made watching the performance feel all the more special. It was a pleasure to get to see the band react on the fly, switching from spaced-out meditations tenuously held together by echoing guitar riffs, to introspective and effortlessly catchy pop melodies which quickly received cheers from the crowd once recognized.

In this rare chance to see Kikagaku Moyo, I couldn’t have been more satisfied with their incredible performance, and I was even happier at the end of the night when I stopped at the merch table to picked one of their records on vinyl, as they rarely make their way to U.S. record stores. Surely to be recognized as one of the most notable psychedelic acts of the past decade, it was a pleasure to see Kikagaku Moyo perform.

Keep up with Kikagaku Moyo here.

-Adam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Review: Professor Plumb Releases Their New Single "Red Sky"

By: Adam Cabrera

In their new single “Red Sky” released on February 15th, the Denver-based rock band Professor Plumb drifts atop a turbulent sea of metal doom in a slow, heavy hitting jam which warns of impending catastrophe.

Professor Plumb.

Professor Plumb.

First appearing in the Mile High in 2018 with the release of two singles and eventually a five song EP entitled The Magic Twelve (EP 1), Professor Plumb has proven themselves to be one of Denver’s more noteworthy new artists over the past year. Led by vocalist/songwriter Benom Plumb, who began his career working in music publishing and is currently an Assistant Professor at The University of Colorado Denver’s Music Industry Studies Program (hence the bands name), Professor Plumb is his first effort as a performing artist. Comprised of Plumb performing second bass, John Demitro (Pink Fuzz, The Velveteers) on guitar, Alex Bailey on first bass, and Ben Hatch performing drums, the band managed to find some recognition with their 2018 single “Midnight Creep.”

But last year’s aggressive, punk-inspired single plays in stark contrast to Friday’s release, as “Red Sky” introduces a new sound previously unheard from the band. Where “Midnight Creep” was a fast paced, rock’n’roll shuffle, “Red Sky” is funereal. Reminiscent of Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” or Pink Floyd’s “The Nile Song,” the single moves along sluggishly while relishing in dark, menacing guitar riffs which subside just before breaking off into a high-energy guitar solo. One sound that distinguishes the recording is Benom’s voice. Sitting well below the vocal range of many punk/metal singers, Benom projects a unique baritone which cuts clean through the densely packed distortion and booming drums.

Furthermore, the heavier sound lends itself to the similarly dark themes presented in the song lyrics. Steeped in metaphor and ancient mysticism, the song’s imagery paints a picture of world destruction and coming apocalypse. Borrowing a line from an old rhyme often repeated by mariners, Benom’s words warn of red clouds on the horizon and “wicked” sailors who appear ignorant of the coming storm.

When asked what the song’s lyrics refer to, Benom explains that he has always been fascinated with “end-of-the-world” scenarios and the self-destructive, often hippocratic, nature of the people involved. In regards to Red Sky, Benom says that he was influenced by a red winged-planet referenced by the ancient Sumerians. The planet, aptly named “destroyer”, was said to wreak havoc on the Earth as it entered our atmosphere. With this in mind, it’s easy to imagine a certain pessimistic outlook on humanity that the song details but Plumb suggests that a far more positive message can be realized. To Benom, the song is a word for the wise and encourages, “kindness, empathy, love and compassion for one another” by pointing out the hubris of humankind and the dreadful consequences if it be left unchecked.  

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The single comes as a precursor to The Magic Twelve (EP 2), the group’s next release in a series of three similarly titled EPs. So, in the swirl of an eerie crystal gaze and heavy metal rumbling, “Red Sky” gives us a taste of what’s soon to come from the band as well as something to blast over the stereo while we wait.

Professor Plumb will be performing at the Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF) Songwriter Showcase on Saturday, March 2nd located at The Post Brewery in Boulder, CO. The same day, Benom will be hosting a panel on film music and audio production on the Pearl St. Mall. On the morning of March 3rd, you can also catch them performing a short set just before the screening of The Mustang at BIFF.

Keep up with Professor Plumb here.

-Adam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

I Hate It Here Tell Us About Their Unconventional Sound

By: Adam Cabrera

Exceptionally loud, passionate, and in-your-face, I Hate It Here is a Denver based synthpunk two-piece whose unapologetic, experimental sound pushes the boundaries of contemporary electronic music. The group is comprised of frontwomen Cooper Carrington who acts as the sole producer, lyricist, and vocalist, while Alec Doniger provides accompaniment on drums.

Though Cooper has been releasing music for I Hate It Here over the past three years, Alec was added to the project in the fall of 2018 giving a unique electro-acoustic sound to their live performance. Alec is not featured on their most recent release, Songs for Pouring Bloody Glories: Why There Is None (Amongst Other Things). In spite of that, the album is perhaps the best in I Hate It Here’s catalog and is only improved upon with the addition of Alec’s drumming when performed live.

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For the moment the band will be on hiatus until Cooper returns from attending school in New York City. In the meantime, she will continue to make music under a new project named None Known with plans for an album release sometime this year.

After hearing this news, I decided to attend their final farewell show where I sat down with the duo to ask a few questions.

How did this project come together? Where did it start?

CC: I guess I started recording and writing stuff in 2012 and then I made a lot of bad experimental music under the name Toast Confessions. And then, in 2015 I released I Hate It Here’s first EP.

What was the process of creating that EP and putting that whole thing together?

CC: Yeah um… I guess that was when [writing music] started a continuing trend for I Hate It Here which was really writing about some of my worst emotions and some parts of society that I think are grotesque. So, in a way it’s therapeutic I suppose it’s like a diary almost, but it’s weird because I show everyone in.

What does this project mean to you? Why do you do it?

CC: The “why” is you know just something within me that I guess just commands me to make music and make that a part of my life. For I Hate It Hear though, the “why” was in a lot of ways it was for myself and like I said earlier it's therapeutic and it helps me express things that I am dealing with and articulate them. And, you know, feelings aren’t so easy to describe through words, so I think the sounds that I make help articulate the intensity of them.

What sonically about your music correlates with those emotions?

CC: You know, In a lot of ways they are emotions that are really hard to tell people about in general, it’s not easy just saying them. The sounds are a good way to convey the intensity of these emotions that are often quite negative. So the screaming and the noise I guess it just represents a lot of chaos that is going through my head. I mean there’s also a political element to it a lot of the time. Once again I feel like the political things that I like to talk about are political topics that are not touched often.

What are those topics?

CC: So, for example, Rage Crown’ is a song about street battles between far right and anti-fascist groups. And, you know I’ve attended some of those before. And I guess kind of my emotions around this. What is the effectiveness of this? Does it seem feudal? Does it seem… uh… Why is it that I think it’s so important? What drives me to do that? Or, drug addiction and the whole world around the politics of drugs. Whether there be like legal aspects of it, like the criminalization of substances, or the social elements of it. How when one recognizes one who does a lot of drugs that’s probably a time when they need people to talk to the most and yet that's when people distance themselves from you.

In some of my future releases, I talk more about being trans and just emotions about that. Dealing with transphobia and general discomfort about the subject. And I think it’s also important to talk about whiteness and class. Because I feel like America really just doesn't want you to talk about those things. And, like I said I feel like it's important to talk about these taboo issues.

Do you think your music serves as a medium for those things to be talked about?

CC: I do. I do. Um… I actually think about this a fair amount… You know, I don’t see… Um...

Is that something that motivates you’re writing: opening up the conversation?

CC: I hope! I hope it does. It’s also something I get kind of self-conscious about though.

Why is that?

CC: Well, for one thing you know I talk about things that from a liberal standpoint might be very controversial. And, sometimes I think I may be spitting out perspectives that might actually be nasty that I’m not even trying to convey. So, you know, I’m worried I would never want to make someone so uncomfortable with my music that they would want to turn it off. But, there is a certain level of discomfort that I do want to make people feel. Alec actually once talked to me about how sounds in themselves and music without lyrics can convey some sort of politics in a way, and I thought that was very interesting.

AD: I think that maybe the only reason I say that is because I think it’s almost by escaping, not escaping politics I mean it’s definitely a very central thing, but at least having these spaces to do this, express your political views, you know, I think that is what’s political about it. The fact that we get a chanced to play at DIY spaces like Thought Forums where they open it up for like you know, even if it’s a math rock band that doesn’t have lyrics like Cat Bamboo that last time, I think what makes that political is the fact that it's even able to happen, you know what I mean. Yeah, it’s an expression that isn’t being suppressed and often times that is what politics does in this country. It suppresses people.

CC: Yeah I think you’re really right about just having them perform in these spaces is a political act. Cause in a lot of places all these bands which are often young kids and people in their early twenties and teenagers, you know they can’t always afford to buy out a venue for the night to perform. And that's what's great about DIY spaces is that the whole attitude is that it’s accessible.

What inspires your music making?

CC: Yeah, I find that a lot of people just in general find it hard to talk about very intense emotions that have happened to them even privately with a single person. And I think that creates something kind of toxic in our society, just like a certain emotional closed offness. So I feel like I channel a lot of painful experiences that I’ve had into my music because I think it's important that people be able to be open about those kinds of things.

How would you describe your music to someone who's never heard it before?

CC: You know most of the time when someone asks me when I’m like, ‘Oh I make music,’ and someone's just like, ‘Oh what kind of music do you make? I’m just like, ‘Uuh it’s pretty weird,’ and then I don’t know exactly where to go from there. I guess I would say its menacing, I would say its discomforting, but in challenging and important ways. I like to think so at least.

AD: I also find it, I mean I’m not the creator of it, but I also find it really pretty. Not in a sense that is sounds beautiful or conventionally beautiful but in the sense that, like we were talking about earlier, that you’ve created a very very effective outlet. I mean I think what’s beautiful about it for me is specifically watching you perform. Yeah, there’s never a moment in my mind where I’m doubting that you aren’t pouring your soul into this, which is beautiful.

CC: Thank you, I appreciate that. Yeah, even though it is experimental music with lots of elements of noise and avant-garde stuff, it can often be pretty melodic in a lot of ways.

Could you talk about the performance of it a little bit more?

CC: I’ve had someone come up to me and say that they wonder if I did theater in high school and if I acted, and I did, and it was nothing like… Oh my goodness I was um… You know… I’m not playing Huckleberry Finn. I guess I’m kind of the antithesis of that. But yeah, you know, when I go up I feel like it's not acting as so much as is being able to express these… if I expressed these songs in any other way than what I do, which is often pouring a lot of soul into it, pouring a lot of emotions into it, interacting with the audience a little bit during the songs and doing weird stage antics, I don’t see how it could be performed any other way. Like, I don’t see myself standing perfectly still and singing it unless I wanted that effect because that would be weird.

Are you musically trained? Do you have a musical background?

CC: Yeah um, I’m a classically trained vocalist, and I did choir all through high school. And uh, I’ve done voice lessons and guitar and mixing and mastering classes.

Does that background influence your music?

CC: Yeah definitely I think folk, like classical folk, has had a big influence on me and Italian standards and choral music I think have quite a bit of influence on me. And you know I only knew about these things through choir and my voice lessons.

What drew you to music to express your art?

CC: Well I’ve had a drive to sing and to express myself with music since I was young. My mom tells me this story how about how in kindergarten we had our classroom, and there was a bathroom for the kindergarten kids in the class. And, at the same time every day I would go into that bathroom and take a shit and sing my fucking heart out, and the whole class could hear, and I was just clueless. But looking back at that I guess that's the beginning of me not giving a shit about what...

AD: You did give one shit!

CC: I did give one shit, oh my God!

AD: Just putting that out there.

CC: Um… yeah, and I just feel like sounds can carry a lot of emotion. I think singing a poem can take that poem a lot further than maybe just reciting it or reading it?

What are your more modern musical influences?

CC: Uh more modern stuff… I guess I really get inspired by a number of things like I listen to a lot of different music from around the world, so I guess lately I’ve been listening to a lot of like Ghanaian music and also kind of standards and experimental rock, and art rock, and whatnot. But I also listen to a lot of hip hop, and I listen to a lot of electronic music like minimal electronic music like techno and house. And then yeah I guess I listen to a fair amount of noise music and experimental stuff.

Is there anything new coming up in the future for I Hate It Here?

CC: Yeah pretty much what we are performing tonight is almost all new material which has not been released yet so yeah there’s an EP that's gonna be coming out this year, a single that's gonna be coming out this year, and an album under a different project name called None Known. And that is more experimental, and its structure has a bigger element on noise and ambiance. So that whole album is about exploring themes of sexual trauma and transphobia, and kind of the failures of queer theory and domestic violence and stuff. So, it's some really f*cked up stuff, so I’m excited about that.

Keep up with I Hate It Here here.

-Adam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Review: Alex Fermanis Releases Fifth Full-Length Album ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’

By: Adam Cabrera

Colorado Springs indie artist and multi-instrumentalist Alex Fermanis just released his newest solo album Land of the Midnight Sun, on November 3rd. This is the fifth full-length release of his career, and Alex presents us with a highly-listenable album that performs as a nostalgic throwback to classic 70s rock filtered through layers of otherworldly effects and dreamlike synthesizers.

Alex Fermanis.

Alex Fermanis.

Influenced by prog rock, krautrock, synth music, folk and bluegrass, Alex has built up an impressive catalog of releases that cover a range of genres from psychedelic to country. However, throughout this diverse set of styles, what has remained constant for him is a knack for songwriting and his unique ability to find new creative avenues that diverge from mainstream musical norms.

Some of the standout tracks on the record such as “Letter,” “USW,” and “Freight Train,” demonstrate his expertise as an instrumentalist and songwriter. Each displays a new feature of Alex’s sound while creating captivating melodies and catchy hooks reminiscent of 60s and 70s pop music, before eventually breaking off into atmospheric psych-rock instrumentals.

In the context of his lyricism, Fermanis’ record explores themes of unrequited love, isolation, loneliness and a wistful longing for travel; all of which speak towards Alex’s quiet-lifestyle and introspective personality.  “Letter,” for example, describes the story of a man attempting to reunite a long forgotten romance, while Streets of Stockholm” describes a sentimental feeling towards traveling abroad and adventuring into foreign lands. In short, it’s these feelings of nostalgia and blissful adventure that define the album.

The artwork for  Land of the Midnight Sun.

The artwork for Land of the Midnight Sun.

Demonstrating his persistent DIY attitude, Alex wrote and recorded the entirety of the project by himself at his home studio in Colorado Springs and is heard performing on every instrument. This versatile range of talents adds a palpable sense of cohesiveness throughout the sonically dense album. Nevertheless, at the very bottom of the many layers of sound sits a highly-skilled piano player orchestrating each track. And though Alex doesn’t consider himself a pianist, he often composes his songs on piano, as he enjoys the technical complexity of the instrument. Moreover, this intricacy tends to show through in the overall sound of his latest release. It is lushly textured with synthesizers and abound with harmonically-rich piano riffs; this new record stands out as a highlight among his relatively large discography.

This winter, Fermanis will be trying to pull together a new band with the hope of performing his recent release for live audiences across the Front Range. When considering the record’s quality and Alex’s capacity for songwriting, it’s clear that his career has the potential to expand far beyond Colorado Springs’ modest music scene.

Keep up with Alex here.

-Adam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.