Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kali Ma - Sacandaga EP

Only three songs?!

Kali Ma:
Well 2 and a jam between…

So basically 2 ½ songs?! (laughter)

Kali Ma:
Haha yes. That's how I write, that's how I've always written.

The last EP had 6 or actually 5 then.

Kali Ma:
Yeah, SIDDHARTHA EP. That was actually the longest piece of coherent music I've ever written for a single release. Don't ever expect anything longer than that. (laughter)

What's the reason for making a shorter EP this time?

Kali Ma:
Back in high school when I was first getting serious about being in a band and playing music, I usually wrote most of the songs. But I could never write more than 3 or 4 songs with a cohesive sound before getting frustrated and playing the same intervals and chords in a different order.  So I would stop writing for a few months, play out a bit, and not write anything for a while. But then, at some point, I get smacked in the face with an idea and I MUST write.

So no full albums, I’m assuming?

Kali Ma:
Not in my past or in the foreseeable future. I used to get frustrated that I couldn't write a "whole album". But what the fuck is an "album"? Why does something have to have 10-14 3-4 minute songs to count as complete? There's no objective reason why an artist should have to stick to this formula. That's just not how my creative process works.  So it's been really great for me to release these EPs.

Sacandaga EP is West Chester- based Kali Ma aka Cody Miller’s fifth EP released during his 20 month period of using synth music as a transmitter for his thoughts and feelings. While every EP shows growth in one or two areas of Miller’s music, with Sacandaga EP, let’s say Miller has reached puberty. Unlike in the previous EPs, he had found what he was looking for: “After I worked with Christina Klaproth of the Philadelphia band, Tutlie, on our track "Sun Stars Moon and Rain", it became clear that vocals were that missing element.” It came as a surprise to me that Miller’s own vocals are used on the tracks. He explains: “I've never been much of a vocalist myself, but it was really important to me that every aspect of the "Sacandaga sound" came pouring out of my experience. So it was really exciting to work with the vocoder effect in order to get the sound that I wanted. It allowed me to retain exclusive creative control, while focusing on the production end of things to make it sound great. You don't want to hear me sing live.”

Adding vocals are not the only part of Miller’s growth, as he paid attention to equalizing every sound to perfection. “When I compared my tracks to the tracks of some of my favorite artists... It wasn't even a comparison. There was no pop, no high end, badly EQed low end. Just a bunch of synths taking up the same mid-range Hz. This is the first time that I took a good long time to EQ every sound before finalizing the mix.”

When understanding the story behind the EP’s concept I realize not only does it take a huge step forward, but also backward. Sacandaga EP is a nostalgic ode to which Miller calls his favorite place in the world. It’s become a tradition for him to spend a week or two every summer at his friend’s lake house by Sacandaga Lake since he turned 15. The lake and the surroundings reminds of life’s glorious beauty, as well as Miller’s first time to buy beer under-aged. “I did my absolute best to take all the connotation and nuance and raw emotion of this place, and translate it into sound. And though I know now that this goal is unattainable, the result is still something special to me, as every time I listen, every time I reflect, these songs work their way into that idilic form that my mind conceives whenever I hear the word, "Sacandaga".”

The first time I heard the EP, I was dragged into the middle of the Amazon. When the in between jam started I was witnessing some sort of a ritual while hiding behind some giant leaves. I couldn't say if the tribe in front of me were people to run away from as quick as possible, but the music was too hypnotizing that I just stood still quiet. By the final track I’ve been noticed, though luckily, I’m not the one being sacrificed and they turn out to be a friendly tribe. And all of this is through the eyes of Sid the Sloth from Ice Age.

Anyways, when ending the interview with Miller he’s quick to reveal his future plans and hopes: “Slightly heavier, bassier, more minimal. It will still be Kali Ma, but I've been digging the deeper South London sound, and even some of the street bass that is coming out of Philly. So I hope to work some of those influences into Kali Ma, and see what happens.”

Until then here’s Sacandaga.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Feature: Concrete Knives

The coastal town Caen in France has brought up a quintet, which combines art rock and pop hooks brilliantly enough to convince BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Steve Lamaq to hail them as one  "New Favorite Bands" in 2012. Starting during their high school days in the late 2000s, yet it wasn't until the only female member joined the band, and Concrete Knives' edgy colorful sound came together.

Influenced by NY bands Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio, I'd say myself they're like the French version of Norwegian Team Me, or actually the other way around. We can all think differently about the musical resemblance, but one thing is easy to agree on- Concrete Knives' success is no surprise. Both their live shows and debut album Be Your Own King, released this week in the rest of Europe, Japan and Australia, have received raving reviews from critics and the public.

They're about to tour in the UK and France this spring, so better catch a show if you can.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"It makes your soul happy"

The definite highlight of my England trip was a long-awaited visit to the Twinings Tea Shop & Museum in London. At those very premises in 1706 Twinings was founded. I kept telling my friends not to expect too much, so they wouldn't be disappointed, because I didn't know either what was waiting for us. But as a devoted tea drinker, I considered it as a pilgrimage to make.

The visit couldn't have started any way better, when outside the store free drinks were promised.

It isn't a big place at all, but it was very neat, classical and elegant- just how I see Twinings.

Looking at all the portrait paintings, I have to say that the Twinings people have lived long lives. It must be because of all the tea drinking. The shop was full of exciting details, like the tea quote above. It would have taken the whole afternoon to go through them all- too bad we couldn't.

And the reason for that was that we spent much more time enjoying our cuppas.

When I asked the sales man for an Earl Grey, I was frowned upon by my friends. I saw it as the classical beverage for a classical place. It didn't take too long for them to realize that it was the right decision to make, as we all agreed that we've never tasted an Earl Grey like that before. The friend who basically condemned me to eternal darkness with my choice, said that that Earl Grey "makes your soul happy". That's how good it was.

 I was trying to figure out what I have done wrong with the brewing- was it the water, temperature... They even use normal tap water at the shop. Well, I guess it's just because I've always used bags when it came to Earl Grey, which from now on I won't.

The 1st flush (the first tea leaves in spring) Darjeeling was amazing as well. The £35 for 100g, indicated the quality of it. By looking at all the tea options on the wall, we managed to learn so much. For instance, I had no idea that tea is grown in Brazil too.

The most interesting lesson, though, came with the mini pur ek cho or something. Apparently, the Chinese wrap the leaves with paper and bury it in the ground in a cave. It's so valuable that some use it as money, and the one we drank was 8 years old, while the oldest could be even a hundred. Because of its moldy taste, we just simply called it the "old British house tea". It didn't taste bad, it was just a bit intoxicating.

In the end we spent more time at the shop than we thought we would. I think it's paradise- a place where you can feel completely relaxed and forget all of your troubles. One of my dreams is to be able to work in the tea industry, let's see how I can work myself into it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cambridge calling. Twice.

It was great to visit another city in England, so great that I did it even twice. Same city I mean. All I heard about Cambridge was that it reminded of our Dutch exchange city with all the bikes and so on. Indeed it did feel like being in Holland/Belgium with the cozy streets.

Cambridge is known for its numerous colleges. Colleges, which look like churches. A city crowded by the rich talented students and the poor extremely talented students. Dressed up like Harry Potter with the scarves and other clothing showing which college they belong to.

the corpus clock is exact every 5min
unveiled by stephen hawking in 2008. always thought he was american!

Many important things have been discovered in Cambridge, and it seems that the best place to announce them is a pub. Like you can read below.

Basically, if you visit London, it would be a good idea to visit Cambridge as well, since it's only 40min away by train!

Monday, February 18, 2013

London calling. Again.

Just as I got to finish all my blog posts regarding London, another trip there was done. But this time it was all about being a complete tourist. And reliving stuff that I loved doing, which was mainly eating.

chicken bacon spinach jacket potato, former office food

my favorite food stall in whole camden...

...the place where i got home food

finally a proper fish & chips meal

chinese take away, extra spicy please. 

annual competition, this year i choose coconut

Of course the trip wasn't only about eating.

my favorite english beer
got this as a welcome present, for my friend's surprise it had finnish written on it

And with the touristic part.

thursday tesco time

We did some serious shopping at Harrods, the world's most famous department store. It's owned by the late Michael Jackson's good friend, which explains the story of Jackson being able to buy a monkey from there. The owner also owns Fulham Football Club, which has a statue of Jackson just outside the stadium. Also, his son died in the car crash, which took Princess Diana's life as well. I learned more about that place than I would have thought. The most interesting thing in the store itself was a £1 million Chardonnay wine collection. The bottle collection started already from the late 19th century. A few years were missing, but that's because during those years the wine grapes didn't meet the quality expectations Chardonnay had. Therefore, they got rid of the entire crop.

It was strange to be back in London, but at the same time it felt like I never left. Like a former colleague of mine said- London is one of those cities, which just stay the same. Although, on my first day a couple of people bumped into me and apologized. This is not the London I remembered.