WARMER MIXTAPES #292 | by Matthew Shogi [Party Girl]
Photo by Caroline A. Bowen.
1. Sufjan Stevens | Now That I’m Older
Oh, Sufjan… Let me begin by saying that my interest in Sufjan Stevens did not develop until very recently, but it came in the form of an explosion. I first sat down and listened to his All Delighted People EP a couple of months ago, thanks to my close friend Adam, and it quickly became an obsession. I found myself listening to those 8 songs over, and over, and over and over again. I had listened to a few Sufjan tracks in the last 2 or 3 years before hearing All Delighted People, but I sort of discounted him as just another folk revival artist. I listened to Chicago and Casimir Pulaski, but never ~really~ listened. And I find it sort of funny how this song relates to my interest in Sufjan as an artist. The lyrics It's different now I think/I wasn't older yet/I wasn't wise, I guess pretty much describe how I feel about my interest in Sufjan. I think when I first heard his works, I did both him and myself an injustice by not taking him seriously. I feel as if I was a very foolish teenager for overlooking the textures in his sound that are so carefully crafted, and the sheer brilliance in his lyrics that compliment them so well. Of course, years later (after I wised up) I found myself listening to the BQE and All Delighted People religiously. And then out of NOWHERE, Age Of Adz came out. I was just blown away. I still am, in fact. In his music, I find sounds from all of my favorite artists from across the spectrum (Aphex Twin, Animal Collective, Bright Eyes, Johannes Brahms, Michael Jackson, of Montreal. The list goes on forever...), and yet he does it BETTER, and in his own unique way. His melodies are so damn catchy, and his delivery is fiercely unstoppable. His sound encompasses all of the aspects of pop, electronic, hip hop, folk, classical, and jazz that I simply adore. On a personal level, this song speaks volumes to me. I was in a very long, cold, and bitter off and on relationship with my first love. It got to a point where I was just pining for her out of loneliness, even though I was thousands of miles away and we had both burned the bridge. I realize now that I was young and foolish (I wasn’t older yet and I wasn’t over you as the song says). But now that I’m older I realize that Somewhere, I lost whatever else I had. Getting over my foolish ways was one of the many steps I had to take into adulthood, and this coming of age song hits close to home. The thick layers of vocals, effects, piano, and harp have a striking similarity to what my mind’s eye considers the sound of enlightenment and realization. Essentially, this song means many things to me, but none are more important than that of being okay with growing up.
2. Toro Y Moi | Talamak
Another 2010 fascination of mine is Chaz Bundick. Causers Of This is my go-to album. I can’t properly express enough how much I love Toro Y Moi. Some of my fondest memories of 2010 were set to this album. I first heard a live version of Talamak back in April on VIVA radio (I was working at American Apparel), along with an interview with the band. It was the sort of moment where I heard the song/interview, and I knew almost immediately that I would be listening to it for a very, very long time. The timing couldn’t have been better, too. I felt bad, because I had just missed him at SXSW (apparently he did 7 shows in total), and I wanted nothing more than to see him live. Sure enough, I find out that he had a show booked in May at Emo’s. I was giddier than a schoolgirl. At this point, I had committed almost all of the lyrics on the album to memory, and I could often be found humming the melodies from start to finish. So when I found myself shaking hands with the man himself, after a stellar performance, I was somewhat starstruck. One aspect that stood out to me was how humble and shy he was. It was very inspiring and influential. I was going through a sort of musical identity crisis at the time. I found it difficult to execute the music that was playing in my head, and the frequent changes weren’t helping things. I couldn’t focus. Finally, after hearing Toro Y Moi, I realized what I was yearning for. The inspiration for Party Girl came from a very lovedrug induced pining for a girl who is now a very good friend of mine, all of which was set to the sounds of Causers Of This. This particular song is my favorite off the album. The sounds are so clean and refreshing. It’s my body’s plan.
3. Lissajou | Hikikomori
Possibly one of the most underrated artists ever (in my humblest of opinions). I feel so very honored to have met this minimal techno/lo-fi/gameboy musician from Jacksonville, Florida. Back in the spring of 2008, I was performing exclusively as a chiptune musician (my act was just me, and a gameboy, pumping out lo-fi music that I was writing back then). I had a show in Atlanta, and it was a showcase of various chipmusicians from all around the Southeast. I was living in Tennessee at the time, and there were musicians from North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and of course Georgia. It was a very, very exciting event, to meet similar musicians and enthusiasts, since it was such a niche genre at the time (and still sort of is). I really hit it off with Lissajou, we spent hours talking about different elements of gameboy music, travel, food, etc. Although there was quite an age gap, he and I became good friends (through forum and email correspondence). Fast forward to fall 2009. I was out on the road with my family for 8 weeks (we had sold our house a lot quicker than expected, and didn’t have anywhere to go). It was a time of unrest and instability in my life. I had lost touch with almost everyone I knew, and I was in a different city every few days. It was both exciting and nerve racking. I distinctly remember sitting in a hotel lobby one morning after breakfast, scanning the forums of the gameboy music site that I frequented, and up popped this release from Lissajou. The word hikikomori is a Japanese term for a person who locks themselves in a room, shutting out the real world. This phenomenon happens in Japan frequently, due to the pressures of school and work. Hikikomori are largely considered a burden to society, due to the fact that they do are not functional, working people. They are almost parasitic. This cold view of hikikomori is displayed by those who, obviously, do not struggle with the infliction. At a time where I had a lot of pressure and stress in my life, I felt as if shutting myself off in a room would be the best solution to all of my problems. This 50 minute exploration of the human psyche in music was one of the few windows of solace I found during those 8 weeks. I love this song. It just gives off the mood of living in a bleak environment, but somehow having this feeling of peace and serenity. That sort of numb feeling that stems out of depression. Almost like a painkiller. I don’t think I can explain why this song helped, but it did. It’s IDM beats, with the thick layers of moving ambience, all of which just clicked in my brain somehow. I would almost call it a cyberpunk adventure of self discovery. I still listen to this track and get butterflies.
4. Animal Collective | Daily Routine
What playlist would be complete without Animal Collective? In that 8 week period of time when I was without home, I found that waking up to Daily Routine by Animal Collective was the best way to get motivated for the coming day. I don’t think that there’s anything that I can say that hasn’t already been said about Animal Collective. The bounciness, layers of vocals, sonic walls of good feelings…. It’s just good. Really, really good. In those 8 weeks, I visited New York for the first time. I found that spending my days walking around the city, listening to Merriweather Post Pavillion, Feels, and Sung Tongs, were a much needed break in my days of desperation. I still smile from ear to ear when I hear those opening chords. They lyrics are so simplistic, yet they’re catchy and identifiable. My favorite line from the song is Up uneven steps and talking’s hard, in conjunction with the arpeggiations of that synth. The way the song dies down and shifts into something entirely new and equally exciting has always impressed me. In conclusion; if you have trouble waking up in the morning like I do… Listen to this song.
5. Beach House | Master Of None
The first time I heard this song, I was thoroughly convinced that it was written for me. The dreamy sounds of Beach House always stuck out to me, and still do. But for some reason… This song just pulls on my heart’s strings a little more than all of the others. The lyrics Jack of all trades. Master of none. Cry all the time, cause I’m not having fun always always always always kill me. In a good way. I feel that in my life, I’ve never pursued something to the fullest. I always get distracted, and I find myself becoming a jack of all trades. That expression always stuck with me. Hearing it executed in such a dreamy song has been amazing. I find myself singing along, at the top of my lungs, each time the song comes on. It just moves me, I guess.
6. Michael Jackson | P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
COME ON. Who doesn’t love this song? Long live the Prince. This is my favorite MJ song, off my favorite MJ album. I can’t really say anything more than this. It’s just… Fucking…Yeah.
7. of Montreal | An Eluardian Instance
For many years, of Montreal has been in my list of top 5 favorite bands. Their pop sensibilities and deftly infectious execution always spoke volumes to me, especially in my adolescence. It’s safe to say that Kevin Barnes holds a very deep spot in my heart, and probably will for a long time. I was living away from home for the first time (at university) when Skeletal Lamping was released. At the tender age of 17, I came to the realization that this point in my life was something akin to magic. I felt completely liberated and ready to experience the glamorous side of life. As you can see, it’s only natural that I would develop such a close relationship with this music. It’s just so damn exciting. It was the first time since my childhood that I had listened to an album, start to finish, repeatedly. It chained my attention to a proverbial chair, padlocked it, and threw away the key. This song in particular always stuck out to me. I never really had a clear cut favorite song from the album, but if you asked me what’s your favorite song from Skeletal Lamping? I would have answered An Eluardian Instance. I want to say it was because of the mood that the song presents, on a sonic level. It sums up, in an almost anthemic fashion, all of the good feelings that I was experiencing. From the get-go, the horns lay out a very triumphant and joyous setting. The opening line Does she know/ you should know that I/ am not just searching for some first-time high, hit the nail right on the head about my (at the time) romantic interest. The rhythmic properties of this song created such an intense sensation of ecstasy in my little teenage heart. Again, though, this was true for the majority of the album. As I write this, I can understand how it might sound exaggerated, or too mushy or sappy, or whatever. But this was, truly, the first time I realized how much music can affect a person. Believe me, it had a grandiose affect. One could say that I was no more than a music enthusiast before of Montreal. Sure, I loved music, enjoyed creating music, listened to a wide variety of genres, and had phases like anybody else. But the intense passion for music was not really there until I understood its full potential. of Montreal certainly had a hand in making me realize these important aspects of life, and ultimately is the reason why I’m so serious about making music today.
8. Aphex Twin | Stone In Focus
My first encounter with ambient music was that of Aphex Twin. I found out about Richard D. James through my musical mentors, the Coma Lilies. They performed a spectacular cover of the song 4 on live radio, and I was awestruck by it. I ended up researching Aphex Twin, and got a hold of as much of his works as I could. I shared this interest with my best friend, Houston. He and I were attending a community college about 30 minutes north of where we lived, and I carpooled with him very early in the morning. Thankfully, we only had classes 2 days out of the week. At any rate, I recall one particular Tuesday morning in the winter, where the CD-R of choice contained this song. We had arrived on campus a good 30 minutes before class, so we decided to just sit in the warmth of the car and enjoy the music. There was something about that morning that was out of the ordinary, and we both knew it. Houston and I sat completely still and did not speak for the entire duration of this song. All 10 minutes of it. I think it was the first time we had ever heard it from start to finish, without interruption. When the song came to its end, I instinctively reached up and turned the stereo off. For the next 20 minutes, we sat in silence. We had both sort of drawn a blank. On the walk to class, we finally both broke silence with a simultaneous sigh, and then laughed. It was strange to have been so mentally in sync with another person, and we discussed this all throughout the day. It was a mind-bendingly metaphysical experience, and it was shared. We bonded over this for a while, and are still close friends.
9. Sergio Mendes & Brasil ‘66 | Tristeza
A lesser known fact about my taste in music is that I absolutely adore 60’s latin pop/bossa nova. Sergio Mendes is the highlight of my affections. This particular song always gets me through times where I feel down or depressed. Although it’s in Portuguese, the lyrics still get to me. They speak of longing for happiness, and growing tired of sadness. I find it extremely difficult to stay unhappy when I hear this song. The barrier of language is completely nullified in this song. Upon listening I’m sure you’ll agree, with a big goofy grin on your face, no less.
10. El Guincho | Bombay
Whenever I hear those opening stabs, my eyes get wide. My mind jumps a little bit. Then, I find myself grinning and nodding my head in agreement and approval. I never noticed this before a friend of mine observed it, but it does happen. Almost instinctively. This song (and El Guincho in general) was introduced to me by a friend of mine. Although she and I have never met face to face, we make a point of staying in touch and sharing our current obsessions. She happened to bring this to the table one day, and I flipped. I feel like if you played an El Guincho track at half-speed, make it a bit spacey-er, and played it in English, you would have the spitting image of what I wanted Party Girl to sound like in its early phases. In the same breath, I feel like changing anything about what El Guincho is doing would be a damned travesty. The only thing I love more than the song itself is the video. It renewed my faith in modern cinematography (especially music videos). If you’ve seen it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I was beyond flattered when I found a French blog featuring my music used a .gif from the video. It was a mere coincidence, but it was such a FUCK YESSSSS moment for me.
+11. LAY BAC | Stay Out Tonight
I love Josef (the genius behind LAY BAC). It has been an incredible honor and pleasure to work closely with him these last few months, and I have Wassup Foolie’s Andy Richardson to thank for this. Just a few days before the netlabel Trembleface/Sanddagger (which is managed by Andy) released my EP Heartbreaker, they released the digital 7”of Stay Out Tonight. For some reason, the files that Josef sent to Andy did not comply properly with Bandcamp’s format. In short, Stay Out Tonight was played at half-speed, in its entirety, on the Bandcamp site. This created a mind-numbingly, face-melting, 13 minute epic-as-hell version of the (normally irresistibly danceable) track. Both versions have a tendency to get stuck in my head on a regular basis. Every show that Josef and I have played together has ended with this track. I honestly can’t think of a better way to end our joint set. Josef and I have this unspoken, mutual understanding of what a track should sound like (both live and on record), and it allows for some really spectacular possibilities in our creative processes. It goes beyond that, though. We have a really awesome thing going on, musically speaking, and the chemistry is unbeatable. I think we’ve only practiced together (outside of playing shows) a total of 6 hours or so. This is no small feat, considering the fact that we’ve played over half a dozen shows together, and have only been acquainted for a few months. In fact after almost every show we’ve played, someone has asked us how long we’ve been playing together. The look of surprise on their faces is priceless when they hear that we’ve only been playing together for 3 months. Many people have admitted that they were under the impression that we’ve been doing this together for years. I’m certain that at least 90% of our listeners and show attendees are under the impression that our set is carefully crafted and rehearsed ahead of time, but what they don’t realize is that it’s almost entirely improvised. We work off of a tentative set list, and really just feel it all out. Beyond the music itself, though, Josef and I have had more than a few instances of corresponding parallelism. There have been numerous occasions where we’ve shown up separately to a gig wearing strikingly similar outfits. We own the same model mixer, effects pedals, and other equipment. We’ve sampled the same songs in a few of our respective demos. These coincidences are numerous. Endless good vibes.