It’s hard not to have a soft spot for that early 80s post-punk/post-disco New York sound. Class acts like ESG, Liquid Liquid and Arthur Russell inspired a new generation with the rise of DFA Records in 2001. London outfit Gramme seems to be bridging that gap and carrying the torch with their debut album off Tummy Touch Fascination. Apparently it’s been 17 years in the making! The band first emerged in 1996 with releases off of Trevor Jackson’s Output label then disappeared… only to reunite in 2010. … MORE
Patrick and I can’t stop raving about Planningtorock one of DFA’s latest and greatest. They blew my mind with their last album W to the point of having “Living It Up” on repeat in my car for 2 weeks. The group has a very original sound which is accessible to a wide range of people. If you haven’t checked them out please do me the solid. As per Shit Robot, he’s also DFA family and really fun. Some of you may have caught him at Grand Central a couple of months ago, great show!
The remix below is what happens when collaborations turn out as awesome as possible. The track retains Shit Robot’s quirky lyrical nature while employing Planningtorock’s unique orchestral sound. Here’s how their PR describes it:
“Rostron’s own Pizzo remix is up next, and in (a)typical fashion, she takes the song and shifts its mood by clearing away the dancier elements of its predecessor in favor of a foundation of strings in every form: plucked pizzicato notes, low cellos tones, and high pitched violins that flit through. Last up is another Rostron creation, the Whisper remix, which actually outpaces Lambkin’s version in bpm, but is lighter all the same. Here, she uses synths almost as a wash of white noise – a whisper, if you will – and only drops heavier vocals here and there along the song’s rustling path.”
DOWNLOAD: (click on downward arrow)
Shit Robot – Answering Machine (Planningtorock Pizzo Remix)
In 2009 Joe Goddard (key member of Hot Chip) debuted his solo LP “Harvest Festival”. Since then he’s put out some very triumphant 12″s and remixes. His last EP “Gabriel” features Valentina, an upcoming vocalist from the UK. I predict the title track is gonna be big although I haven’t heard much of his other solo stuff get much local play.
Make sure to also keep an ear out for his other project The Two Bears
*** BTW THIS IS OUR 400TH POST, YAY! ***
Alrighty kids! I’m sure many of you have already heard SHIT ROBOT is coming back to Miami on August 13th at Grand Central. Shit Robot is Marcus Lambkin from Ireland and part of the DFA family. I’ll spare you all of the biographical details which you can read about here. We caught up with Mr. Shit himself (lol) and were lucky enough to have a few really important questions answered. Check it out…. (also read past the interview if you want to be on Nightdrive’s reduced guest list on the night of the show)
NDM: Why Shit Robot and where did the Shit come from? We know it has something to do with a crappy drawing, what inspired the crappy drawing?
SR: The Shit comes from James (Murphy) mocking my raver background and he used to threaten to hang out with me in the DJ booth with white gloves on, doing a really “shit”, robot dance. Then it kind of developed into this character we used to joke about. We were spending a lot of time at Plant Bar at this time and Shit Robot was the guy who was always there, who everybody knew, but he never came with anybody, he was always alone. Then when myself and James were doing a party together, we had to call it Shit Robot and James quickly did the robot for the flyer and I’ve used that drawing ever since.
NDM: How did you conceptualize your live performance? Tell us about the light show and costume? Are there any visual artists that inspire the projections?
SR: Yeah, well again, the idea came from the Shit Robot character. I was thinking, what would Shit Robot do? I was imagining this idiot robot guy, trying to do his crappy version of the Daft Punk pyramid. There are some great shows out there, Daft Punk, Etienne De Crecy and other wicked LED shows, but Shit Robot could never afford that, so I wanted to make the “Shit” version. Charlie, from Syntheastwood did the visuals and came up with some great stuff, I just kept telling him, more crap, shittier!
NDM: When you DJ do you try to read the crowd and play accordingly or do you have a pre-made set? What platform do you DJ on? (vinyl, CDJs, or any particular software)
SR: Oh no, a pre-made set is a quick road to failure, I believe. You have to read the crowd. I mean, that’s your job as a DJ, If you have a pre-made set, you might as well just play a CD. I still like to play vinyl, but it just isn’t always possible these days. So often now, I show up and the turntables haven’t been used in months or they don’t work, or feedback. So, I always carry vinyl with me with a lot of it backed up on CD, just in case.
NDM: What’s been the craziest thing a Shit Robot fan has ever done?
SR: Oh, I don’t think I’ve seen anything too crazy. I do love it when people take it upon themselves to make homemade robot T-shirts, I love that.
NDM: Most memorable gig and what made it so memorable?
SR: That would have to be supporting LCD at Terminal 5 for their last few shows, that was amazing. I was really terrified, it was for sure my biggest show to that date, but more importantly ALL of my friends and peers were there and it was the first time any of them had seen the show, I was really nervous. It was the best though, Juan and Nancy got up on stage and performed with me, it was a load of fun. The crowd was great too, with them all being LCD fans, they were very open to another DFA artist playing. They were really great, I really felt like I was part of the show and not just another opening act that the crowd had to put up with before the act they came to see came on.
NDM: Who’s your favorite fellow DFA artist and why?
SR: Oh, how can I answer that, they are all my friends. James and Juan have played a huge part in getting Shit Robot to where it is today though, I couldn’t have done it without them. Plus their music has been hugely inspirational to me, but I think that goes for all DFA artists.
NDM: Favorite label that no longer exists?
SR: Network was a big one for me back in the day for the more ravey stuff. Then there’s 99, home to Liquid Liquid and ESG, that was an amazing label.
NDM: Now for a serious one …what do you think it takes to be a successful money-making artist theses days?
SR: HAHA, well, that’s almost an impossibility these days. It’s really hard to make money producing records now. I think the standard model now is to put out records, don’t expect any money from that and then DJ or play live to pay the bills. It’s become really difficult and I wouldn’t advise anybody to give up their day job for it. I’ve been really lucky in the sense that I never expected to make a career out of it. I just started DJing for fun, I’m a qualified Cabinet Maker, so I always had that to pay the bills. I think if you’re not expecting anything, it’s a lot easier. Then I’m very lucky that I have friends like James who has pushed me and helped me through the years.
NDM: How did you feel about your last Miami performance at the Vagabond and what do you anticipate this time around at Grand Central?
SR: Oh, that was a really great show, so much fun. I’m not sure what to expect this time round as my good friend Josh (JDH from Fixed) threw the last party during WMC, but I’m sure it will be great. I love visiting Miami and my good buddy Mike Sike lives there, so I’m sure it’ll be a throwdown.
NDM: And our typical 305 question…Favorite Miami related tv show, movie, personality, band, or performer?
SR: Too easy, Al Pacino in Scarface.
So there you have it! Now get psyched for the show (8/13 @ Grand Central) as it’s a seriously cool live performance with all sorts of visuals and a shitty robot. We’re not doing a ticket giveaway this time around (at least not yet) but you can avoid paying full price at the door if you take either of the following options:
1. Get presale tickets. If you buy them through this link you’ll be supporting Nightdrive without even realizing it: http://vor.us/3fd
2. Email us at email@example.com and we’ll put you on our reduced list. Just please put “Shit Robot List” in the subject line of the email. You can include as many full names as you would like. Tell your friends!
Now some music:
Shit Robot – I Found Love
Shit Robot – Simple Things (Work It Out)
I first caught wind of Planningtorock when The Knife announced the release of their opera score Tomorrow, In A Year. Along with Mt. Sims, Planningtorock collaborated with the Swedish Avant-garde electro-pop group on this monster that left Knife fans confused and grasping for accessibility.
On Monday DFA Records announced that it will be releasing Planningtorock’s much anticipated second album, W, giving us the first single, The Breaks, and a free stream of the entire album. Upon first listen, it’s obvious that Janine Rostron, the voice behind the name, is delicately straddling the line between artsy/conceptual and accessible/pop appeal. Orchestral strings dominate the album with an epic “film score” feel but are quickly balanced with pop melodies and electronic dance beats with a haunting mood. The track Living it Out even hits you with a disco beat that takes you a little off guard, but still seems to fit within the progression of the album. This track along with The Breaks and The One are the stand-outs for me but W offers plenty for consumption. Have a listen to the entire album HERE and download a few of the tracks for free below.
Posted by Patrick
Thank you Chelsie for the tip!
80s NY underground culture has majorly influenced contemporary indie music. We’re all fans of DFA and most of us would drool over tickets to LCD show, but the sad truth is that most 20-30 year old “cool kids” are a bit disconnected from other important elements of the NY 80s scene. It’s probably due to the fact that we were all in diapers when all this was going down. Some of those important elements are the visual artists of the era. I was a little surprised at the blank stares when I started asking scenesters if they knew who Keith Harring, Kenny Scharf, or even Tom Rubnitz (video artist) were. Come on friends, Sharf painted a permanent mural at Wynwood Walls for us! These guys are standards in the 80s art world and pioneers of Pop Surrealism and/or street art. So if you’ve ever celebrated Banksy and Shepard Fairey please give a little credit to the street artists of the 80s that made it all possible and put them on your cultural radar. Even better, lets find out how their art has influenced what we listen to and see what music they like. We had the privilege of discussing some of these topics with Kenny Sharf in the interview below.
But first, a little background info on Kenny Scharf (according to Wikipedia):
Kenny Scharf (born in 1958, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California) is an American painter who lives in Brooklyn, New York. The artist received his B.F.A in 1980 at the School of Visual Arts located in New York City. Scharf’s works consist of popular culture based shows with made up science-related backgrounds. Scharf came to prominence in the 80s interdisciplinary art scene making sparkly, pop-ed and monstrous paintings and installations. Scharf uses images from the animated cartoons popular during his childhood, such as The Flintstones and The Jetsons. In 2002, he released a cartoon of his own, “The Groovenians” of which there was only one episode.
Scharf was a key figure in the East Village art scene of the 1980s, with shows at Fun gallery (1981) and Tony Shafrazi (1984), before seeing his work embraced by museums, such as the Whitney, which selected him for the 1985 Whitney Biennial. He did the album covers of The B-52′s in the mid-80s. In 1995, Scharf designed a room at the Tunnel nightclub in New York. Scharf was friends with the graffiti artist Keith Haring and appears in the documentary “The Universe of Keith Haring”….
And now our little chat:
ND: The 80s and 90s are making a heavy comeback in the pop music realm. We’ve seen lots of day glo colors coming back in music videos and pop references in lyrics. Do you think your art has influenced indie culture/ music today?
KS: Hmm I see things all the time that I wonder if they have been looking at my art or been to the cosmic cavern but what I care mostly is if it’s done well, as when it is it makes me happy and when it’s not I feel like o jeez what did I spawn!
ND: Was there a particular type of music in NY in the 80s that captured the street art scene at the time?
KS: Well street art and graffiti were somewhat separate in the musical tastes before they meshed and I guess the music did too. Graffiti was linked of course to rap and early on with the sounds like the sugar hill gang. Street art was linked to more new wave/ punk like konk. When they meshed it made sounds like e.s.g.
ND: Do you think the message you sent out when you started making art has reached today’s youth (those born in the 80s-90s)? What was that message?
KS: I think some of my messages have reached the youth but I would rather hear it from them! Art was so stuffy when I arrived in n.y. In the late 70s that it was a natural reaction for us to take it to the streets and the nightclubs and let loose and not take yourself too seriously because that is stifling!
ND: If your art had a voice, what would it sound like?
KS: It depends on the art I’m making sometimes it would be gogo others glitter, mowtown or bossa nova.
ND: Name some of your favorite musical acts you listen to while creating art. How do you think their music influences your process?
KS: I use the rhythm and energy of music almost always when I’m creating. I sing and dance too while I’m working! As I said I like all kinds of music like the B52s, T-Rex , Stevie Wonder, Tom jobim.
ND: Have you heard any new (non-mainstream) bands or acts that have blown you away lately? How were you introduced?
KS: I saw LCD soundsystem in Miami beach they were amazing!
There you have it
Konk- Your Life
ESG- Moody (CT Remix 12″)
B52s- Mesopotamia (Marcello Giordani edit)
LCD Soundsystem- Beat Connection (Disco Dub Version)
I’ll be honest, James Curd hasn’t always caught my attention with his hip-house style, though I recognize him as a seasoned and respected producer most closely associated with the DFA crew. His new track “Open Up Your Mind” is a step in a slightly different direction with a harder, more dance-floor friendly house beat. It still maintains his signature vocal element with the help of Devin Byrnes. I see myself playing this one out on the regular.
Posted by Patrick
Here’s a little ditty from 1979 that DFA reissued last year. It’s pretty epic and I personally can’t describe Justine any better than what’s already been written about her:
Colette is a revered figure in New York avant-garde lore, if little-known outside of it.
Born in Tunisia and raised in France, she has worked variously as a musician, film-maker, photographer, painter and performance artist over the past forty-odd years, but her most radical and notorious practice has been that of turning her own life into art, following a strange fictional narrative of her own making and assuming a number of different identities and personas. This process began in 1978 when Colette declared herself dead, held her funeral at the Mudd Club, and then resurrected herself as Justine.
Justine hooked up with Peter Gordon and his Love of Life Orchestra – who were discovered by a new generation when James Murphy and Pat Mahoney’s included two of their tracks on their 2007 FabricLive mix – and set about recording new music, which they presciently christened “disco-punk”, under the name Justine and the Victorian Punks. Two tracks, ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ and ‘Still You’, were recorded with engineer Jay Burnett (who later worked on Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock’) at Electric Lady Studios and released via Justine’s own Colette Is Dead Co. Ltd private press. Original copies are virtually impossible to get hold of… (thedailyswarm.com)
Although I’m excited about all the artists we have performing tomorrow for Miami Music Week, my personal favorite is Woolfy. He makes the “dirty disco” that really gets me going. Not too many vocals, not too many strings or layers, just sophisticated grooves and driving beats. Here’s a brief interview with Simon James, the London born/LA based musician behind the name.
Posted by Patrick