Flatbush Zombies’ Meechy Darko contains multitudes. On April’s first Friday at their album release concert in Rough Trade’s Brooklyn shop, he’s shirtless rapping in a gravelly voice alongside his two other crewmates — rapper-producer swingman Erick The Architect and long-bearded fast-spitter Zombie Juice. It’s a crowd that ranges from the Rawkus Records generation to Pro … More »
The new single from Canada’s VVAVES has left us desperate to hear more from her stunning voice. Whilst we wait for a follow up to the magnificent “Alive,” she shares her five Musical Guilty Pleasures with us. 1) Shaggy – “Angel” Shaggy was the first concert I ever went to when I was eight years
Ben Schneider, as is his tendency, is trying to remember the night we met. The Lord Huron mastermind believes it took place after a show where his fledgling band opened for Avi Buffalo. I always assumed it was Abe Vigoda. Either way, this is definitely an “LA indie rock in 2010” story. That’s … More »
Twelve years is just a blip in the grand scheme of humanity, but for any living person, that’s a pretty significant chunk of time. And for Dear Nora, a project that started in 1999 and went on to put out three proper albums and a ton of ephemera in just under a decade, 12 years … More »
Thugfucker were founded on the basis of uplifting peoples’ spirits with ethereal and mystical shades of house and tech. The outfit — now a singular act led by member Greg Oreck — rose through the ranks swiftly, making their mark on the underground world with their dynamic approach to sets and drive to create an ideal atmosphere at all their events. Thugfucker later paired with DJ Tennis to create their prolific Life & Death imprint, which helped break through the likes of Mind Against and Tale Of Us, among others.
Such an aesthetic has made Thugfucker a particularly highly-demanded entity within the transformational festival community. Oreck’s shamanic abilities with melodic manipulation have made him a staple at events like Burning Man and beyond. Come Memorial Day Weekend, he will make his return under his beloved moniker to Elements‘ second edition in Lakewood, Pennsylvannia.
Oreck stopped by the Dancing Astronaut offices ahead of his appearance at the festival to talk Thugfucker’s new beginnings, his sonic ethos, prized Elements memories, and more, in addition to providing us with an enticing mix to boost excitement in returning to Lakewood’s cozy confines.
How would you describe your musical ethos? How did you arrive there over time?
While it’s probably impossible to nail down something so big sounding as a musical ethos it is interesting (for me anyway!) to try and think about how I reached the point where I’m at musically. I was talking with Cosmo D from Nucleus a few years ago and I realized I could specifically draw a line from my friend playing “Jam On It” to me at age 12 to where I’m at now in my relationship to music (and dance music specifically) and it was an amazing moment to be able to talk with him about it directly. We’re all shaped by the various experiences we have throughout our life and I’ve been lucky to have a pretty wide variety of experiences that’s really exposed me to a lot. Too many musical movements and styles to try and make an exhaustive list but my whole life I’ve always found something to love in a wide variety of music and have been absolutely drawn to it so I guess that’s just who I am. One thing seems to always lead to the next but it only really makes sense while looking back at it. I remember calling into the radio DJ’s on the local alternative radio station so regularly when I was 12 years old that they got to know me by name. Who does that at 12? But I can’t imagine having been any other way so perhaps chalk that one up to nature versus nurture.
What draws you to the deeper, dreamier sounds of house and deep tech?
Hmmm, I’m not sure I’d be ready to subscribe to any specific genre labels as those are always moving targets that mean very different things for different people. However I wouldn’t deny that among the wide variety of music I find myself drawn to there is definitely a good sized space for some of the trippier sounds. More than anything I guess I love music that engages your mind and imagination while still making you move your body.. which cuts across a pretty wide swath of music overall and which, at the end of the day, is what dance music is really all about right?
It seems eclecticism is also a big motif of your sets and music. Is this correct? What are your tips for balancing the left field and a crowd who expects the hits?
It really depends on the situation. The crowd, the setting, the time of day, what’s happened before you’ve gotten there, what’s going on around you, what the crowd’s expectations are and what kind of relationship they have to you and each other can all have a big impact on how open people will be. Certain situations you can just walk in and they trust you and they’re really ready to follow you down the rabbit hole — so you can just jump right in and get playful. Other times you really have to work hard to earn that trust. The trust is what’s key.
When you’re throwing your own events you can have a lot of control over those factors and I really love to do that. In other cases I think as much as you can you just try and pick and choose the situations where you play to try to find the kind of environments where it’s possible to give people the best experience possible. Of course sometimes you just walk into a situation that’s a bit more challenging but in the end that’s the job of the DJ, to work with the crowd that’s there and the situation you find yourself in to create something special together. Just because you have an incredibly eclectic music collection put together over millennia or whatever doesn’t ever give you the right to bore people to tears. People come out after a hard week of work or whatever life has thrown at them and they come to dance for a release and an escape from all that. Something to lift them up and give them some proper dancefloor catharsis. They’re not just putting their hard earned money on the table, they’re giving you a big chunk of their time and that’s the most valuable thing any of us have. So you always have to honor that and remember that it’s not just about you, it’s about everyone in that space with you.
You two recently parted ways. What caused the part, and how does this affect the Thugfucker sound?
Really something pretty normal for artists working together so closely in a collaboration for so long. In a partnership there are always going to be certain restrictions because naturally you can only move forward on the things that you both agree on, and these restrictions bring both benefits and limitations. So it’s natural to reach a point where you have stories to tell and things to express outside the bounds of those limitations. Holmar reached that point and expressed his interest to go off and do his own thing and when you reach that point, that’s exactly what you need to do and I support him fully. I know this is going to be a great new adventure for him that’s going to bear some beautiful new fruit.
As far as how it will affect the Thugfucker sound, obviously it will continue to evolve which is something I’m proud to say it has been doing all these years. You always have to remain true to yourself but part of being a DJ comes from a relationship with music that’s always evolving. And I think that goes for all the DJ’s at a certain level, as far as I’ve experienced anyways.
Being out on the road these last few months has been incredibly inspiring and I feel like I’ve found a new flow and a new energy that comes from digging even deeper into music that I might not have had the chance to play before. It’s been super exciting to stretch myself in new ways and it feels like a really growing moment and I’m having a lot of fun with it. Similarly in the studio I’ve been feeling very excited to dig into new ways of working and have been back to working pretty exclusively with hardware lately just because that’s what’s really been inspiring me, not because I think there’s any one right way of doing things. I even started taking some music theory classes recently which I had always very consciously avoided as I felt it would take away some of the spontaneity and intuition from things. I remember hearing that Elvis Costello went back to learn music theory after 20 years on the road and despite some initial misgivings really loved it. For me it’s really been quite the same. I don’t think I could have done it before I already felt comfortable making my own productions as I appreciated having had to learn things my own way and on my own terms. But now it just feels like adding more tools to the toolkit which has been fun and motivating and a nice new challenge. It feels like the right time for it and I’m already very happy with the results!
This isn’t your first Elements festival. What are some fond memories from previous editions?
Last year was my first and it was absolutely stunning. The setting is beautiful and I ran into so many friends there from near and far which already says quite a bit about what they’ve accomplished in terms of the word getting out and people really talking about how special it is and traveling from far and wide to get there. Of course playing in the woods with DJ Three and Doc in the morning last year was amazing just because they’re both just such impeccable DJs and the setting was so beautiful as the sun was starting to shine on everyone through the trees. Talk about an environment where people are really ready and encouraging for you to give your all.. you just can’t help bring your A game in these kind of situations. I’m really looking forward to be back!
What else is coming up next for Thugfucker?
Right now I’m trying to walk the fine line between time on the road and time in the studio. I have some interesting long term plans (1 to 2 years out) which I’m very excited about but not really ready to talk about but in the short term I’ve been more energized to spend time in the studio then I have been in quite a few years so I’m trying to balance my time better so I can spend more time doing that. In addition to new Thugfucker material I’ve also been working on an ambient album with my old friend Eli Janney which has been super fun. Spaced out music for after the after-hours…
I’ve also started raising Alpacas which is a lot more work than I realized… Be sure to follow them on Instagram!
Since 2014, a handful of deep, otherworldly synth transmissions emanating from Floridian mystic Severed+Said have carved an exciting niche within the fervent, if underrated, independent music outposts of the Sunshine State. Across four releases, Jacksonville’s John Touchton composes sounds that draw inspiration from the ritualistic undertones of creation, performance, and consumption. The latest Severed+Said cassette, Incorporeality — released last month via Los Angeles’s legendary Not Not Fun — is a collection of pulsing, hypnotic songs that stands as his strongest work within a stellar discography.
John and I discuss the influences of mysticism on his work, the fertile, under the radar music scenes throughout Florida, and the impact of mood on the creation and experience of music. At the end of the interview, check out a playlist compiled by Severed+Said, featuring fellow Florida artists, label mates, and friends connected through Touchton’s travels and tours around the country.
What have you been up to between the release of Occlusions (2015) and now? Were you impacted by Hurricane Irma last year?
I’ve been concentrating on my personal life. I’ve been staying busy with writing and recording music, but I specifically decided to withdraw from playing much live last year. It’s important for me to share my work with people in a live environment, but I wanted to dedicate some time to my personal relationships. I married my partner and we took some time to travel together. I’ve also been studying human anatomy and physiology. But, consistently, I ritualistically stay involved in Severed+Said. It’s a therapeutic catharsis. It helps me to cope with modern existence. As far as Irma goes, yes we were affected by the hurricane. I live near the St. John’s river so we experienced flooding and massive power outages A giant oak tree fell on my car. If anything, it evoked more of a reverence for the dispassionate ways of nature. I was less upset about the damages to my car than I was inspired by the destructive forces of the universe. Fortunately for us, North Florida was less affected than, say, Puerto Rico, but it was still a humbling experience. Though, it was actually quite beautiful to roam the neighborhood amidst the aftermath of the storm. Ancient trees were put to rest and modern luxuries, temporarily suspended. I did, however, manage to work on new synth patches for future songs by battery power, some of which are currently in the works.
Can you discuss the origins of Severed+Said? What inspired you to pursue these sounds and themes over these four releases?
The instrumentation came from my interests in manipulating guitar through various effects pedals. I feel it was a natural progression from seeking to further control and manipulate guitar through pedals to exploring synthesizers. The sounds of Severed+Said just progressed from learning the gear to understanding and getting it all to work together. After that, the music came quite natural. But the themes behind Severed+Said are less technical. I’ve always been inspired by certain motifs; whether from film, literature, philosophy, or music, I always thought that I was using these inspirations to inform what the music was going to be about. After releasing Occlusions, however, I realized that I was less in control than I thought. I started to understand that it wasn’t my intentions informing what the music was about. Instead, it became clear to me that the music was actually more of a message from my subconscious to my conscious. In affect, the song writing process acts as a conduit for learning more about myself or hopefully our collective experience of reality. Occlusions showed me that the truth was behind the veil of intention. Now I try to let go of control when it comes to themes regarding Severed+Said and let the music speak to me. Through synchronistic messages or heavy contemplation, hopefully more concrete concepts begin to emerge from the work. Maybe I’ll have key words for song titles or album titles, but over time the music actually, in turn, ends up informing me. I’m looking forward to gaining a better understanding of “Incorporeality” as this process unfolds.
In this interview with Delayed Gratification, you said, “The first track, “Occluded,” is an interesting word that implies being unable to see what’s right in front of you. You can be occluded from the truth.” The new album’s title is Incorporeality, and ‘incorporeal’ means no physical or material existence. How did you decide on the title, and how does that meaning relate to how you approached the writing and recording of the album?
The album title for Incorporeality came after I had recorded the material, as did the album title for Occlusions. Language is, of course, a technological device for communication, but words can provide meaning for profound, intangible concepts. Being an instrumental project, I’ve always relied on the album and song titles to imbue meaning into the sounds of Severed+Said. The word, incorporeality, came to me while reading about the secret rituals of various mysticisms throughout history. Some modern interpretations understand many of these rituals to be allegorical of the evolution of human consciousness and what was our gradual awareness of the self. Furthermore, some postulate that our deepening material awareness has made us less acquainted with our subconscious.
But, at the same time, I was studying human anatomy and physiology in a scientific light, which contrasted with these concepts in a befitting way. On one hand I was reading about meditation, dreams, and astral projection. On the other hand, I was studying about organic matter, the central nervous system, and the cellular activities of the body. My new understanding of the body in tandem with what I had been reading about consciousness evoked the idea that to be absent from the body is almost a return to our inner selves. From this, I gathered that the meditative, or even somewhat transcendent, state I experience when I can really get lost in the music is a way of reaching back to a higher level of self: a borderline between consciousness and subconsciousness. And when you bridge the gap between these two levels of being, ideas and meaning can flow through the medium. Through dreams, subconscious thought, art, or, in this case, music, maybe we can experience an incorporeal state even if only for the duration of the set, before the house lights bring us back to reality; it’s, essentially, a temporary escape from the anxieties of being human.
It’s interesting to think about your readings of mysticism and rituals, and parallel that with the act of creating music for recording or live performance. From a listener’s perspective, nighttime or dawn and dusk seem the most appropriate times for experiencing your sounds. Do you have a particular mindset, time of day, or setting required for working on Severed+Said material?
I think that mood is an important aspect of listening to music. At night, sounds really come alive. Dusk and dawn are perfect times for a contemplative drive while listening to your favorite cassette. Mood and atmosphere are also important, if not more so, for creating music. But most importantly, for me, to flourish creatively is my state of mind. Whether I’m practicing my set or working on new material, it’s important for me to ritualize the process. Sometimes this means having a contemplative daydream before I work with new sounds, or maybe I will take a walk. Reading also helps to put me in a creative mood. I also enjoy the combination of coffee and marijuana while working. The introspection provided by the flower combined with jolt of caffeine gets gears spinning in a weird way that focuses me. With the creative process and recording for Occlusions, I was enjoying a lot of wine, as any creative Dionysian can appreciate. All of these things can help to ritualize the process. Sometimes I’ll even dedicate a performance to something abstract, whether I’m all alone or sharing in a live environment. If I have anxiety about something or if someone dear to me is experiencing a dark time, I like to make a sort of offering through music. I don’t know if it has any real effect on anything, but it helps me, personally, to exorcize the feelings associated with these kinds of things. I feel that this is part of the catharsis behind creating something.
I’ve only visited Florida a pair of times, both of which were visits to the theme parks near Orlando. Listening to your music, I get a sense of a darkness beneath the happy-go-lucky vibe of Disney and beach tourism. Was it your intention, or merely coincidence, that your music gives an outsider a gloomy, dark, yet enticing view of the Sunshine State?
Florida is an ecological paradise. The springs here are beautiful and there are some great beaches. Our ancient, moss-bearing trees can be hypnotic in the haze of summer. But yes, I believe there is a darkness that exists beneath Florida’s majesty. The state was once inhabited by an array of native cultures who were intentionally wiped out of existence. I think the kind of negative energy associated with genocide and cultural displacement lives on and takes new forms. Violence, poverty, and drug addiction are huge problems here. Floridian politicians are often found to be corrupt and self-serving. For instance, Governor Rick Scott was found to have family ties with drug testing companies after he tried to pass a law requiring mandatory drug testing for food stamp recipients: a process that would have proven more expensive than just distributing food stamps without the drug testing.
Of course this is only one recent example of the level of political corruption here. Developers have been destroying Florida’s natural ecosystem for decades, compromising the purity of our water. People have been fighting to keep the Sabal Trail Pipeline out of Florida to prevent further damage to the ecosystem. This has been an ongoing process with ups and downs. Of course, this kind of corruption isn’t unique to Florida. But to answer your question, no, it’s not my intention to interpret this through Severed+Said. That doesn’t mean, however, that these concepts are not somehow channeled through the music. As I said, there is a lot of unconscious meaning imbued into the songs. If the music sounds dark, maybe it is because of the darkness around me. More than anything, however, my intention with the music is to create something mysterious that deepens the more you listen. And if it causes the listener to look deeper into it or if it evokes a concept unique to their perspective, then maybe I’m doing something right.
I found another project you were involved in, Ascetic, with a split cassette on Florida label Rainbow Pyramid. It featured a quieter, meditative sound compared to that of Severed+Said. Do you continue to record under that moniker, or was that a one-off project?
Ascetic was a project I did for a few years. It started as just a side project that allowed me to learn the synthesizers I was getting into. At the time, I had been getting deep into unconventional guitar work and, as I said, the effects pedals lead to synthesizers. At one point, Alyssa Silva started doing vocals for Ascetic. We lived together at the time, so she was exposed to the music I was working on on a daily basis and, therefore, knew the material. We did the split on Rainbow Pyramid then moved to Northern California for a little while. We got to play some really fun shows in the Bay Area, specifically at this venue, Life Changing Ministries, a d.i.y. community space where they had shows on a regular basis. After moving back to Florida we started working on recording new material, but we never finished it and eventually laid Ascetic to rest. It was around this time that I had been venturing into writing music solo. So the end of Ascetic was the beginning of Severed+Said.
With Popnihil, Rainbow Pyramid, and I’m sure countless other labels, I’m catching a glimpse of some of the underground/DIY sounds coming out of Florida. Even with these two labels, it’s as vast and as varied as anything you’ll hear in L.A. or New York. The internet, without a doubt, connects us better than before, but without venues or a group of people, a real scene cannot thrive. Where do you see yourself in your community in Jacksonville, and do you stay active and connected with other cities in Florida?
I’ve been trying to tell people for years that something is brewing in the Floridian music scene. We have a lot of creative people here, but it’s difficult to tour out of Florida because of its geographic location. So many Floridian artists often go under the radar nationally, while cultivating and thriving within the confines of the Sunshine State. As far as Jacksonville goes, it’s kind of a drinking city that loves heavy metal. There are a lot of talented and creative people here, though. Some of my friends who lie low here actually have more of a presence in the national and international arts and music community. I do try to keep experimental music alive here by facilitating shows for artists I know who are on tour. Even that is difficult, because the majority of venues are just rock bars, so it can be problematic curating something like an ambient/experimental/noise show. I did, however, recently curate the Jacksonville pre-show for Miami’s International Noise Conference. I was able to secure an art gallery for the venue, so these things are possible. We also have a great historic movie theatre here, called Sun-Ray Cinema. They are open to booking musical artists if they can schedule around their calendar. Last year they even launched their inaugural Sleeping Giant Fest, a film and music festival that they are doing every year now. In 2017 Xiu Xiu performed their Twin Peaks cover set during the festival. And Hexa performed a live score to the photography of David Lynch, one of only ten or so performances of this collaboration. Severed+Said even performed too. They also got SUNN O))) a couple of years ago, which was amazing. They are the only band that ever induced me into having visual hallucinations without the use of substances.
And when possible, Sun-Ray has been open to working with me and a few others to bring some great d.i.y. touring artists through, including Kevin Greenspon (Los Angeles) and Darsombra (Baltimore). As far as connectedness in Florida, yes, there is a thriving network of musicians throughout Florida and we all collaborate to help touring artists find shows from city to city. It’s possible for an artist to book an entire circuit just within Florida. In fact, Severed+Said and Proud Father (New Orleans) did a Florida tour together back in 2016. And every year for the last 15 years, Rat Bastard has been putting together the International Noise Conference in Miami, which serves as a noise pilgrimage for people from all over the world, but mainly draws from within Florida. It’s a free event so it’s less of a gig, and more of a five-day party where artists can connect and be exposed to new music.
How did you get involved with your local DIY music community? How long have you been playing shows, for S+S or other projects, and what drew you to underground, underappreciated sounds and scenes?
It was a gradual process. I was introduced to the underground music scene probably 12 years ago when I first attended a show at “The Pit,” a d.i.y. venue here in Jacksonville that is no longer around. There was a handful of people who ran the building. They would have movie nights, often projecting film; they also did shows there. I remember the first pre-international noise conference I ever witnessed back in 2004 or 2005. It was crazy. Maybe 20 artist played from all over. It was a free show, but through donations they raised plenty of funds for out-of-town artists. The space also hosted touring bands on a weekly basis. It was where I first realized that there was an entire network of artists and musicians all working together to share their work. It was a fresh breath of air, compared to what I had been exposed to before. There were no ticket pre-sales, booking agents, or even promoters, in the traditional sense. There was an organic reciprocation happening: networks of artists sharing contacts and helping each other with shows. Once I started booking my own regional/national tours, about 10 years or so ago, I began to become aware of the interconnectedness between artists all over the country. At this point, I can’t meet a new artist that doesn’t know at least one person that I’ve worked with in the past. I’ve kept in touch with some people over the years who I really only see once every few years, but we are as old friends when we can reunite. The beautiful aspect of meeting someone who thrives in the underground art/music scene is that the first few barriers that normally exist between two strangers are almost nonexistent. I think that interconnectedness is what has kept me involved for the last decade or so. But as far as S+S goes, I started in 2014. I was performing live before I had recorded anything. The first recording, Crying In Dreams was more like a recording of ideas, rather than full songs. It all just evolved from there.
I’ve seen a few videos of full sets from your last bout of touring. Digital hardware allows solo acts to recreate as much as possible from the recording, but it appears you work with a lot of analog gear in a live setting. How do you approach recreating recorded material for live performances?
I’m actually not recreating anything in a live setting. The music I write is written to be performed live, so what I end up recording is the live performance. This is an approach that I adhere to as Severed+Said, with the exception of two collaborative tracks I’ve done for recordings only. One was for a comp on Atrocious Symphonies, a label based out of Madrid. The other is a new track on “Incorporeality,” called “Communion.” There is a grand piano in the studio we recorded in, so I asked my partner, Rebecca, to play keys, while I played guitar and Jeremiah, my friend who recorded all four S+S albums, played the melodica. I wanted to have one track on this album that could only be played live if the three of us were in the same room. For everything else I’ve done as S+S, I start by trying out new sounds and piecing them together over time. Then I’ll begin performing them live to see what I like or don’t like. In this, the songs continually evolve in a live setting until they are recorded, and even after. Of course there are limitations as to what I can do, but I like working around limitations. And without using any midi syncing, it keeps the songs vulnerable to mistakes, which I also like. There is something thrilling about performing Severed+Said live, because it could all go wrong if I trigger something out of time. I’ve learned how to work around this, of course, but it’s still possible.
This is your second release with Not Not Fun, and you spoke earlier to relationships with local Florida labels. What qualities do you look for in a label when you get ready to write an album or plan a release? How did you and Britt make the connection for your two NNF releases?
I don’t ever plan on writing an album or planning a release. The process is kind of reversed. The songs I write come from experimenting with sounds and seeing how they fit together. Over time, a body of work emerges from this process and then I record. If I like the recording and everything fits together, I’ll share it with friends and labels that I’m in touch with. This is essentially how it worked with the two Not Not Fun releases with Britt. I initially was in touch with Britt about doing a release for Ascetic. We were recording the material we had been working on since the Rainbow Pyramid release, but we never finished it. As I said, toward the end of Ascetic, I had already begun working on solo material. After releasing Crying In Dreams with Popnihil, I sent it to Britt and told him I was working on some new material. When I finished recording Occlusions, I sent it to him. He was really encouraging and so we did the release. As far as label qualities, I guess I look for diversity in a label. I don’t think Severed+Said fits into one specific genre, so I feel it fits best with diverse labels. I guess the only other quality I look for would be that the people who run the label make music, too.
After the recent release of Incorporeality, what’s next for you in 2018 and beyond?
I’m not sure. I don’t like to plan too far ahead. I look forward to learning more about myself and developing through music. I hope to work more with others in the future. I have a few collaborative projects in the works. I also intend to perform Incorporeality abroad before moving on to something new. But eventually that will be the case. I’d like to share the new album live before it runs its course. I’m already working on new material. I like to keep things moving.
• Night Foundation – Lumonics
• Omebi – Road to Xanth
• Secret Boyfriend – Chocolat
• Voice Hoist – Fast’r’han u
• Haves & Thirds – Open Your Eyes Til the Day you Die
• Proud Father – Kutsu Shizen
• Deterritory – Esperando
• Fjsh Wjfe – Crying At Parties
• Bernard Herman – Plastic Flowers
• Robedoor – Lower Life
• Virgin Flower – Shadow People
• Other Body – Imperial Cloud
• Craow – HD-R5
• Xerome – C Eel Foot
• Profligate – Vixen
• Sand Circles – Motor City
• Complejo Alfa – Wax Society
• Godafoss – Electro Convulsive Therapy
• Auscultation – Black Window
• Litanic Mask – Kabuki
The late ’90s were a heady time for hopeful, plucky alt-rock hits that would forever soundtrack senior class montages, and I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why. Maybe it was the economy or the internet boom or just the general laissez les bons temps rouler vibes of the last days of Clinton that made opportunity … More »
Music fans can often be territorial. “That’s an understatement, my friend!” Michael Imperioli — the actor/writer/director best-known for his role as The Sopranos‘ perennial fuckup Christopher Moltisanti — cackles over the phone when I make this statement to him in conversation. And the sentiment is extremely relevant to him right now: His just-released debut novel, … More »
He has just put out his single “Imagination,” and the talents of Scandinavia’s Lovespeake are seemingly far-reaching. We hit him up for our Musical Guilty Pleasures features – you can check out his five picks below. 1) Will Smith – “Gettin’ Jiggy Wid It” My number one guilty pleasure. And all my friends know it.
Dancing Astronaut recently spoke with Los Angeles based Lauren Abedini, aka KITTENS, about her career, her activism, and her favorite artists.
In addition to her performances at Coachella, KITTENS will also be performing during the Space Yacht takeover at Day Club Palm Springs on April 20th. To win a VIP Package for Day Club Palm Springs, enter the contest here.
We spoke with you in the summer of last year, ahead of your performance at Hard Summer Music Festival. What has changed for you since then?
SO MUCH. I literally feel like my life changed so quickly. Mentally I feel just like a more grounded balanced person. I went on my first bus tour with RL Grime and Gravez which was incredible. I’m playing Coachella. I’m playing EDC. I got a Vegas residency. I’ve got releases in the works with two of my favorite labels, Fool’s Gold and Insomniac. I’ve been able to focus on activism and charity work which is my deepest passion. I redecorated my house lol. I just feel GOOD. Like life is so good.
What’s your touring schedule looking like through the rest of the year?
Ima be everywhere.
What does the LA Club scene look like these days?
Honestly, I haven’t been going out in LA that much. I’ve kind of just been trying to stay home and work on music and my self growth. When I do go out it’s usually more of a party situation versus a club situation. So the music and vibe is a bit different but in a really refreshing way.
You made some great artist predictions when we asked last. Who are you co-signing the most these days?
I stan RL Grime so I’m super excited for his new album to come out. I really love this rapper Flipp Dinero who I actually have featured on one of my tracks. Gravez continues to just release fire. I’m super excited to see him get more and more recognition.
You are a self-described “Intersectional Feminist.” This is a highly evolved view on the matter, but can you spell out what that means for everyone?
Intersectionality is complicated but simple. It basically means you take into account all the other factors that might make someone’s life a bit more difficult. Like for example, ya, women face inequality, but a black woman who is living below the poverty line without access to resources is ABSOLUTELY going to deal with more inequality and struggles than say a rich white woman. So then when we want to talk about progress and how to move towards equality, we don’t just leave the conversation at “women need to be paid the same as men” for instance, we factor in ALL the different levels of oppression people face and address how to fix those too. It also means people with less struggles should check their privilege. Like my life isn’t as hard as a darker skinned butch woman for example.
Another huge part about intersectional feminism is that we focus on issues outside of women. LGBT, race, poverty, gender…all these things can affect how difficult the lives of HUMANS are, so taking time to educate people on being compassionate to all of those bits will eventually lead us towards true equality. It helps men, it helps women, it helps people who don’t identify as either. In simple terms, intersectionality helps everyone be aware and compassionate of other peoples struggles in life.
Billboard recently featured you along with Krewella and Dani Deahl on “Dance Music’s Gender Gap in the Age of #TimesUp and #MeToo.” What’s been the reaction since that was published?
So far so good! I think it was an important conversation to have. I’m glad we were able to focus on progress and “how do we move forward” topics versus just how messed up things can be. Also it was just really amazing to connect with such dope women.
Are you seeing growth in your PWR series? What do you think is causing that change?
PWR is booming more of a social movement outside of just the charity DJ women’s workshops. This year I’m going to be launching PWR 2.0 basically which will really focus on those intersectional issues and focus on educating everyone in simple to understand ways. I’m really really excited. I feel like this is my main purpose in life so I can’t wait to share it.
What’s coming up from you on the music front?
STUFF COMING OUT lol
Releasing a couple little projects that I’m excited about because I’ve literally been working on making stuff I like for YEARS and I finally feel like I’ve made stuff that I’m like “OK this is good this is ok enough to put out! I don’t hate it!” which is a big deal when you’re the most hyper critical person ever.
Anything else you want to impart to the DA fam?
2018 is a cool ass year.
Thanks KITTENS, keep doing you in 2018!