As all of us in Southern California remain on edge with multiple wildfires raging in the region, NASA Astronaut Randy “Komrade” Bresnik shares terrifyingly stunning photos of the fires taken from the International Space Station (as first seen by us via Daily Overview).

Stay safe, SoCal, and hope for rain and calmer winds.

As is pretty well-documented on these pages, we like what do a lot. ‘Making the world a prettier place’—as we put it in our bio—by creating what we consider to be strong design for clients working for progressive causes is a pretty great way to spend your days so far as we can tell.

But when it comes down to, no matter how great the client and how great the work, sometimes you just want to do something for yourself, you know? We started to realize this with our holiday cards especially, as we became aware that we started to look forward to the work involved in making them every year; they scratched an itch in a way that other work didn’t and struck us as something that was very “us” in form and style and inspiration—something we controlled from start-to-finish, which we really liked.

So we started brainstorming other projects in that ilk and arrived at large scale illustrations of Los Angeles’ famed mountain lion, P-22. We’ve always been fascinated by the dichotomy between the heavily developed, urban nature of Los Angeles and its wild side—at 4,210 acres, Griffith Park is one of the largest parks within city borders in the United States. Our neighborhood runs right up against the park and, from the roving packs of coyotes to the red tail hawks seen soaring overhead, the feral side of the city is constantly on display for us. No single animal better represents that schizophrenic LA strangeness than our neighbor, P-22, who mysteriously and safely somehow traversed multiple freeways to make his way to Griffith years back and, up until recently, enjoyed a solitary existence as the only panther in the park.

With holiday cards, one of us (Troy) focuses on the image illustration and the other (Katie) focuses on the custom typography; with these prints, Troy’s still focusing on image illustration and we’re employing set typography for the text in our design, which we had printed by the same letterpress company we use for our cards. In this case, they printed on 13″x19″ fluorescent white 300GSM, heavyweight cotton rag stock using their large-scale cylinder press for a high-quality, archival style print with a nice, noticeable feel and impression on the paper. We had a limited run of 100 made and Katie’s been hand-watercoloring them one-by-one; each totally different, each totally unique, and each numbered and signed by the two of us.

To date, we’ve only had the prints for sale in some local shops we love—namely, The Canyon in Franklin Village, Los Angeles County Store in Los Feliz/Silver Lake, and MooShoes Los Angeles (which, full disclosure, we run). You can still get the prints at those fine shops, but, as of today, we’re also taking orders ourselves via email and through our socials (mainly Instagram), billing via PayPal, and shipping them straight to your doorstep. Because we love you.

In honor of P-22 and keeping LA wild, we’re also donating 10% of our total proceeds to CLAW—Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife—a local non-profit working to protect and restore wildlife environments in Los Angeles and California. Their mission is to promote, educate, and protect the fundamental importance of wildlife, wildlife habitats, and wildlife corridors everywhere. You can find out more about their work work and how to get involved on their site.

So, if you’re interested in buying a print for yourself or as a gift, email us or message us through IG and let us know if you have any painting preferences—colors, painting inside and/or outside the panther form, that kind of thing. We obviously can’t honor every request exactly, per se, given the nature of the process, but we’ll do our best. We’re selling them for $48, will write you back with shipping options once you give us your zip code, and then send an invoice through PayPal.

Thanks for helping us keep LA wild!

We now actually own 0.000667% of a parcel of land along the US-Mexico border.

How did this come to pass, you ask? Well, I got this email—no, no, it’s not what you think! This is legit! Ish!

Said email was from the people behind Cards Against Humanity, a self-described “party game for horrible people”, and it went something like this: America is being run by a toilet…blah blah blah….give us $15 and we’ll send you six surprises in the mail AND we’ll save America. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? I KNOW! So I did what any rational capitalist still climbing out of the post-election nightmare-slumber would do—I gave my hard-earned money to strangers promising unspecified gifts and seemingly unattainable goals. Because I’m an America, goddammit.

Yesterday we received the first of three surprises in the mail—a fairly fat business envelope containing the following:
• A very witty letter explaining that my money had been used to purchase land along the border in order to throw up as many legal barriers as possible to building this ridiculous wall between the United States and Mexico;
• A very lawyer-y letter from the law firm retained by Cards Against Humanity—Graves, Dougherty, Hearon, & Moody—explaining the exact legal mechanics and tactics to be used in impeding the construction of said ridiculous wall;
•  An official certificate of ownership;
• Six new, thematic cards for the actual game, Cards Against Humanity; and
• An awesome map of “the land”, illustrated by Dav Yendler.

Cards Against Humanity is going all in. And we love it. We need more of this as we all march and run for office and put our creativity to good use; as we collectively crawl out of the mucky haze that is post-2016-election America and work for what I honestly believe will be a better America than it would have been if Trump had not been elected to office; as we’re shaken from a slumber and realize that we not only can make a difference in our country, we must. We’re the ones that are going to make America great again, asshole.

We likely won’t post more about this awesome—let’s be honest—gimmick on these pages, but you can always check our Instagram feed and stories. I’m sure they surprises to come will end up there.

And we’ll leave you with the postscript from CAH’s letter of explanation:

“Since the Trump administration is committed to using 12th-century military technology, we have responded in kind by building a 30-foot trebuchet, a medieval catapult designed to destroy walls, on the border. We paid 300 gold to increase its attack damage, so it’s very powerful. You can see a video of our medieval war machinery in action at CardsAgainstHumanityStopsTheWall.com.”

See, mom—Dungeons & Dragons nerds won’t become Satanists! They’ll save the world!

And now we’re finally property-owners!

 

I totally thought I was over Baths (the Los Angeles electronic artist, Will Wiesenfeld, born April 16, 1989; not the process of immersing and washing one’s body in a large container of water—that, I love). I was pretty obsessed with his 2013 album, Obsidian, but as time wore on, the songs started to rub me the wrong way for some weird reason. Maybe I was too obsessed with the album; like that summer in middle school that I had to make lunch for my brother and myself and relied solely on Chef Boyardee because who doesn’t love canned beef ravioli every day for three months, right‽ Turns out maybe you can have too much of a good thing. Regardless, I went into Baths’ new album, Romaplasm, with a pretty skeptical point of view, ready to not like it right off the bat. Dude showed me. Even if Wiesenfeld’s voice isn’t 100% your thing, his musical intuition is fucking phenomenal—it was tough for me to narrow the tracks I liked down to just one to feature on this month’s mixtape and I’m excited to give the whole album repeated listens. You win this round, Wiesenfeld. You win this round.

This month’s mix (our last before next month’s year-ending best of) kicks off with a track from another local artist though—Echo Park’s Line and Circle, who gently ease us into the mix with their rolling, driving track “Man Uncouth”. Chilean band Breaking Forms follows that with their sparkling “Carnival” before we hit “Out” by the aforementioned Baths’, a song that anxiously celebrates going out and coming out with gloriously glitchy melodies and rhythms.

This mix also features some wonderful melancholic dance tracks (kinda the best kind of dance tracks) from Melbourne duo Kllo (who we first featured last August), Canadian band Young Galaxy, and Australia’s Airling (AKA Hannah Shepherd). PS—we just did the math, and almost every mixtape this year features one to two Australian artists. What is going on down there?

We’ve got a new one from deadpan new wave Norwegians Klanstof, a veerrryy chill track from NYC’s Folie, and even more chillness from Bogota’s excellent Ela Minus; some buoyant pop from Portland, Oregon’s Jessica Boudreaux of Summer Cannibals  and Nashville’s Jessie Early; a song that’s equally soulful and hopeful—”Start Again”, by London’s Roseau and the less hopeful but equally soulful “Good Plan, Sweetheart” from enigmatic flower-faced Cincinnatian Nova Moura.

Finally, we’re ending things off with two pretty epic songs—the droning, rhythmically driving “The One to Wait” by Northwestern musical collaborative CCFX and the hauntingly beautiful “Black Fly” by Circuit Des Yeux, AKA Chicago-based musician Haley Fohr, who plays Resident in Los Angeles’ Arts District in January. My guess is that her live show is equally epic.

That’s it—hope everyone enjoys and, as always, support the art and artists you love by following, buying, and loving them back.

Most of the music I tend to love falls into some pretty easy-to-predict categories—poppy but not too poppy; vocal-driven; major chords, no blues progressions; rhythmically interesting; melodically dense, even if in subtle ways.

But the music of  Luxembourg-born, Iceland-raised, NYC-residing Úlfur Hansson (who simply goes by Úlfur) is anything but easy to categorize. His just-released sophomore album, Arborescence, is a wonderfully adventurous sonic exploration, one that’s both really interesting and really compelling musically, winding from atmospheric symphonic soundscapes to warmly humming choral pieces.

Given Hansson’s diverse background in the worlds of dance, hardcore, and symphony, his collaborations with black metal drummers and members of múm and Sigur Rós, and the fact that he invented and built some of the instruments used on the new album (such as the electromagnetic harp pictured above), it makes some sense that labels wouldn’t stick well to his work, but we were compelled to find out more about the music of Úlfur and inspiration behind it.

raven + crow: It’s funny—leading up to this interview, I did a quick search in my email for your name to bring up your bio and stumbled across this 2013 newsletter from Other Music in NYC (RIP) with a review of your debut where the writer called the album “a warm studio creation that combines a host of natural field recordings, building percussion from stones dropping into an Icelandic pond, or birds on the wing, coupled with his own subtle instrumentation.” Does that bring you back at all?

Úlfur Hansson: I actually can’t remember that particular review, but it’s definitely an accurate description of what was going on with that album. It’s funny reading about other people’s experiences of my music, since my relationship with it is already so intimate. It’s almost as if I live inside of it—the things i’m building—but it’s impossible for me to see it from the outside, the exterior.

No, that makes a lot of sense. How did recording this follow-up to your debut some four years later differ for you?

White Mountain was recorded while moving around, on tours here and there across the world—written and produced on my laptop; no consistent time in a studio at all. Arborescence, on the other hand, was recorded in a live studio environment, at Figureight in Prospect Heights, NYC. The immediacy of sticking with whatever happens in the moment, making decisions right then and there / no edits! / no alternative takes—Randall is adamant about using the computer as a tape machine, and it really contributes to the studio ghosts, the magic of the recording arts. I am much more focused these days, and I think the two albums couldn’t be more different form each other.

They are very disparate—I feel like you can tell they come from the same artist, but they’re still very different pieces of a whole, it’s true. Can you talk about the inspiration for Arborescence? Does it tell a story or hold together as a larger narrative or is it more a collection of related songs for you?

Despite being composed of very different musical languages and ideas, Arborescence is bound together by an arc that spontaneously arose from a strong sense of intent. I think having visualized the entire weight and body of the album beforehand really contributed to how it all came together in the end. The collaborative side of it too, it all kind of effortlessly “clicked” together then and there, I think in part because of the time I spent on developing vivid intent.

Nicely put. I feel like, in all creative fields, so much of the work comes before pen’s put to paper, so to speak. You’re actually based out of New York now, right?

Yes!

Ah, we miss it still. Though we won’t come February. Those winters. Do you still feel a strong connection—emotionally, musically, culturally—to Iceland though? I know you were born elsewhere, but I think you were primarily raised there, if I’m not mistaken.

My strongest emotional, cultural, and musical connections usually have more ties towards people, individuals; when you resonate with another. I think that plays a bigger part than the actual place in and of itself; BUT, Reykjavík happens to be full of inspiring musicians and artists, it’s very special in that way.

See, I’ve asked this of other Icelandic artists we’ve interviewed, but I’m curious as to your take on why exactly the music and arts scenes in Iceland are so very vibrant and expressive.

It’s so cold and isolated, and homogenic – maybe it’s a reaction to the grimness of monoculture, there are a lot of great world-builders doing art in Iceland.

Yeah, that’s the general consensus. Makes me want to move away from Los Angeles. Speaking of the West Coast, though, I know you studied as a composer out here for a spell. Do you feel that place or ideas of place or home enter your music a lot?

I think what interests me most in music and in sound comes from outer space, but yes, I definitely grew as an artist living and working in the bay area for two years.

We mostly occupy ourselves with music that would fall pretty evenly in the pop realm, even at its most experimental. But you seem to jump back-and-forth from pop to symphonic to what most would term as experimental. I’ll avoid the more banal questioning along the lines of ‘what do you consider your music,’ but I am curious about your process. Are the inspirations or ideas that led to, say, “Arborescence” (the song)—the cinematic opening instrumental title track that begins with a rhythmic cacophony—the same inspirations or ideas that led to the poppier, lyric-driven “Fovea”? Or how do those inspirations relate for you, on this album and past ones?

Well, the title track “Arborescence” was originally written for the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra, and “Fovea” was written on guitar. I’m interested in every possible approach to express myself through sound. That’s the whole idea behind the album, and defines the meaning of the title. Weightlessness sounds like a metal riff to me, but i wrote it with a Midi sequencer on my computer, so it’s computer music; although the sound itself is coming from an orchestral sized church organ that I could patch my computer into to control it. I took the bellows apart and restricted airflow to the 6000+ pipes in the instrument, the sound of which informed how I continued to develop my metal riff, on my computer, to create an electro-acoustic piece. It’s that kind of recursive, reiterative process I like to pursue. It’s arborescent, all the different means to create music that have been influential and meaningful to me growing out of myself, like a tree.

That reminds me—I really need to start working that word into conversations. How about that percussive intro in the title track—was that Greg Fox? I read he played on the album in places.

Greg is a phenomenal musician. I had been wanting to work with him since I played at this festival in 2011, where Liturgy where sharing the stage with us. He is a good friend and continues to impress and inspire, I feel lucky to have become part of such a great scene of musicians in Brooklyn.

Yeah, I love his work with JDFR. An all-time favorite band of mine was Rachel’s, who were out of Louisville, KY and brought this independent sensibility and driving rhythm to what little I knew at the time of modern symphonic music. Just wondering if you have any bands or composers who are pushing music that’s traditionally considered classical or symphony-based into the popular realm well.

I like Rachel’s, I remember this one album A Ritual Loop, by one of their members—it’s an amazing album, so good. There is a lot of good music out there, especially in terms of crossing borders. There are many examples. For instance, Monoliths & Dimensions is a phenomenal record that binds very different elements into a singular behemoth of sound. From the top of my mind, you’ll also hear things like “four ethers” by serpentwithfeet on the radio, which is Hector Berlioz seamlessly integrated with an R&B anthem. I also love what Anna Von Hausswolff does with the pipe organ.

Per Mission was the band—mainly Jason Noble, I think, but Rachel was on there too. Yeah, awesome stuff. We’re starting to veer into my dear post-punk southern 90’s though. Back to now, are you touring the album at all?

Yes!! I’ll have more info on that soon, I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

I’m excited to see what your live show will look like. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk, Úlfur.

You can listen to Úlfur’s new album, Arborescence, above and on his BandCamp page, where you can also buy digital and physical versions of the album. Water/arm photo of Úlfur by Elísabet Davíðsdóttir.

We love a good party. And what better reason to celebrate and come together with friends and family than a wedding?

Friends and collaborators Paul and Mary reached out to us a while back about having us create a non-traditional wedding invitation for their equally non-traditional wedding reception. The result was this screen-printed 13×19 poster, themed—as was the reception—along the lines of an old-timey circus. The party itself, held on an old ranch in the mountains of Malibu, boasted traditional carts for popcorn, pretzel, and cotton candy vendors, a tuk tsk (Indian auto rickshaw) the couple rode in on accompanied by a hybrid jazz-Indian baraat, and an actual Ferris wheel, so, needless to say, the invitation to this celebration needed to communicate its epic, carnival-like nature.

Mary + Paul asked us to include illustrations of circus/carnival imagery such as clowns, elephants, lions (“Singh” is Sanskrit for “lion”), and the starburst pattern often used in posters like this, but also wanted to include traditional Indian themes and some of the elements present at the reception itself (Ferris wheel + tuk tuk) and their dog, Michael Corleone.

We took all of this inspiration and content and translated it into a cohesive look by giving everything an engraving feel before sending the files off to a Los Angeles-based screen-printer. The final three-color print included a pass of gold ink with metallic flecks for that extra touch of flare.

You can see more of our wedding and event invitation work in our design portfolio. And, as we always tell our clients, it’s not 100% necessary to invite us to the parties and events we design for, but, again, we do love a good party.

Mazel tov, Mary + Paul!

Bringing you a spookily good mixtape this October with tracks from largely new or new-to-us artists, all of whom we’re really excited about, starting off with Leila Gharib’s Sequoyah Tiger of Verona, Italy, an artist whose debut full-length on favorite More Music shows her trekking back and forth between experimental vocal-forward pop and stripped-down retro-weird electronic music of the best kind. We’d highly recommend giving the just-released album, Parabolabandit, a listen through. Following that, we’ve got a known favorite and top contender for album-of-the-year, SZA, with one of her poppier songs, “Prom” (PS—check out her site if you haven’t already; pretty awesome interactive concept). Then we’re featuring a slew of artists and tracks we discovered recently, largely through random Soundcloud exploration, including the excellent Melbourne-born, Stockholm-based electronic artist VILDE (née Thomas Vilde); Amsterdam’s duo Cut_; beautifully sombre electronic pop from England’s Art School Girlfriend; and the polar opposite—upbeat, R+B-tinged pop from Seattle trio The Flavr Blue.

Bordeaux, France’s Pendentif return with their trademark laid-back lounge pop; then we’ve got some great, rolling, breezy pop from Milwaukee’s GGOOLLDD, a hooky track from the all-too-aptly-named Los Angeles duo Smoke Season, and an awesome song from Melbourne duo ALTA that’s almost entirely percussion and vox. Seriously, the scene in Melbourne is insane lately.

While we’re on the topic of insanity, the new full-length from Norwegian musical child prodigy and ex-doom metal band member Hanne Hukkelberg is testing the limits of both what our sane minds can comprehend and how much we can enjoy music—it’s truly a magical album and another top contender this year. We follow a favorite track of Hukkelberg’s with a favorite from the (rightly) highly lauded French-Cuban musical duo Ibeyi, written after a 16-year-old Lisa-Kaindé of the duo was wrongfully arrested by the French police.

Ending the mixtape, we’ve got a really lovely new song we can’t stop listening to from Bristol-based Elder Island, a beautiful and poppier track from Icelandic/NYC-based composer and musician Úlfur, and, to finish things out, a slightly psychedelic, math-y track from Leeds band The Golden Age of TV.

Enjoy and, as always, support the bands you like here and local record stores alike—they all keep life beautiful.

Around this time last year, we received an invitation to a friend’s pickling party. We fully realize there are many on the vinegar-averse side of the pickle spectrum in the world, but we both fall heavily on whatever the opposite end of that spectrum might be—vinegar-obsessed; brine-dependant; pickledicted? Whatever you’d like to call, we dig pickles of many and most kinds, across many and most culinary spheres. (If you’ve never had any of the varieties of the very intense and craveable Indian pickle, we’d highly recommend giving them a try.)

So needless to say, we were stoked to be invited to a pickle party (not to be confused with a sausage fest).

Actually, this wasn’t just any pickle party, this was, as our friend and fellow pickle-enthusiest put it, “an afternoon of pickling and sitting around in the backyard being unproductive, colloquially referred to as the Just The Tip Pickle-a-thon.”

We’re very much a high-low culture kind of group.

What followed, though, was a lovely, relatively refined afternoon of laid-back pickling on a massive level, complimented by good company, cocktails, and a nice view of Los Angeles from our friend’s back yard in Altadena. We thought the whole thing worth both documentation and potential replication for anyone interested, especially as we near non-peak-produce season for much of the country.

 

Key to the success of the party was making the whole thing as easy to participate in as possible.

Pickling’s something that can seem intimidating to anyone who hasn’t done it before, especially for those only familiar with traditional canning and the arduous sterilization of jars involved. But, unless you’re a homesteader looking to feed yourself through a long, harsh winter, quick-pickling will likely get the job done for you and knock down some mental barriers that could keep you from delicious homemade pickles. (Instructions abound on the web, but Eating Well has a nice, un-daunting how-to that we like on the non-canning version of pickling.)

With the goal in-mind of making pickling easy, our friend and her roommates generously provided snacks, drinks, a wealth of sealable glass mason jars, and a huge stockpot full of brine. All they asked attendees to bring were “food items you’d like to preserve in a salty brine for all eternity” and any additional drinks or snacks anyone might like.

True, putting down for spices and mason jars is a bit of an investment, but it went a long way to easing the buy-in for us party-goers. Plus, in this case, they kept the brine very simple, multiplying this recipe from Epicurious (the above-linked quick-pickle instructions list good basic sweet brines and sour brines too), and mason jars are made to be bought in bulk at pretty reasonable prices, online and in most larger grocery stores. If the finances are still a barrier though, it’s easy enough to ask everyone to chip in a couple bucks for the whole thing.

At the end of a long, lazy day of catching up with friends and sharing a glass or two of pickle-friendly cocktails, we ended up with a nice array of pickled vegetables that we enjoyed both on their own as happy hour snacks and as complimentary toppers on meals in the months to come (I for one enjoy a sliced pickled radish on just about any Asian dish).

So next time you’re looking for an excuse to hang out with friends and running low on briney condiments, consider a pickling party.

 

It’s hard to say for sure where I first heard the band Lali Puna. It could have been a friend’s recommendation in the 90s or the ever-influential Other Music newsletter (RIP), where I got so many of my musical finds in those days. Regardless though, the German band struck a chord with me on first listen and demonstrated a depth and organic, layered approach that I didn’t know could exist in electronic music. After seven years of inactivity, Lali Puna recently returned to the scene with an album full of new material, Two Windows, that sounds at the same time true-to-form and explorative. I recently got the chance to speak with Lali Puna frontwoman Valerie Trebeljahr about the new album, art, and—as is so on the minds of late—the state of the world. Also, Katy Perry. Read on and give a listen to album excerpts below.

raven + crow: Alright, I’m afraid I have to start with straight-up unadulterated praise and fanboy-dom—basically, your band and Björk are responsible for my longstanding love of electronic music and the realization in the late 90s that it could be much more than vocal-less house music thumpers (not that there’s anything wrong with those). So, first, thank you. Can you take us back, say, 19 years and talk a little bit about Lali Puna forming and what the scene was like then?

Valerie Trebeljahr: Oh, thanks a lot!! Björk was really important for me too. But I guess she was for everyone. 

I started to record as Lali Puna after my all-girl-group L.B.Page dissolved. I couldn’t play a real instrument like guitar or whatever. I just had a few years of piano lessons as a child. So I had a Korg Delta, which is a really nice old synthesizer, a drumcomputer (lent to me by my flat-mate) and a four-track. It was this DIY-time, everybody was in a band or had a label. So the first four songs I’d ever written were pressed on vinyl.

Man, now I have to try to find some L.B. Page archives somewhere. So, your last album—Our Inventions—was in 2010, I think; was there a deliberate or formal band break-up of sorts afterwards or did things just move in different directions in life for everyone?

We didn’t really talk about it in the band. But there was a point when I decided that I would stop making music and do what everybody expected me to do: Take care of the family, do a real job.

Well then what brought about the return with this new album some seven years later? Whose idea was that and what made now feel like the right time for it?

We got this invitation to play in Korea. And as I was born there (I am adopted), I always wanted to visit Korea. So we did this project. And I found out that I really missed making music. Markus and me then seperated and I thought I really have to do this, I want to record an album. So I slept less and wrote songs.

Where does the name of the album, Two Windows, come from?

The title Two Windows refers to a childrens’ book from the seventies by Maurice Sendak. It’s about Jennie, a dog, who leaves home. The plant says: You got two windows. I just have one. You have everything. But Jennie leaves home to be what she wants to be. It’s a strange and really great book—not really a childrens book. Some critic wrote it’s about a dog with a midlife crisis. I think it’s about empancipation. Maybe it’s both!

Oh, I’d never heard of that book. Big fan of Where the Wild Things Are, though…again, like Björk, who isn’t? And who did the art for the album?

The cover art was done by Catrin Sonnabend. I absolutely love the cover she’s done, because it is so very clear and focused. The photo was taken by my friend Patrick Morarescu. I had done photos with him for Scary World Theory. We tested a lot of things and buggered around, it was really fun doing these photos. He had this slide with the two colours, red and blue, and we used it as a projection. So Catrin and Patrick are resonsible for this cover.

Nice. Just took a look at Catrin’s portfolio via her site—really like her stuff. Patrick’s too.

I was happy to read in Two Windows’ press release something along the lines of ‘Yes, Lali Puna’s sound has changed; how could it not have when the world’s changed so much’ (to paraphrase). I think that gave light to something I believe but have never verbalized properly—that, when these bands reunite or just come back on the scene after so much time and sound exactly the same, I personally find myself strangely disappointed or just not into it, regardless of how much I loved that exact sound, say, ten years ago; My Bloody Valentine, the Pixies, American Football, so many bands for me. Was your music’s evolution intentional and planned or was the resulting sound so many years later more naturally arrived at than that?

Oh, today I read a review saying “Lali Puna sound exactly the same like seven years ago!” And believe me, I tried my best not to. But I also didn’t want to make an experimental noise-album or imitate Katy Perry. I think in the end it’s about credibility. Maybe this album doesn’t sound like it, but for me it’s such a major step in gaining self-confidence. This is the first album where everything is exactly the way I wanted it to be. I am so very happy I could do this album.

That’s really awesome to hear and, honestly, it does sound so different to me—in a great way though. I do have to say, I would love to hear your take on Katy Perry nonetheless.

I know you personally have done a lot of collaborative work in the past, singing on other artists’ tracks, but this is the first time I’ve seen numerous artists featured as collaborations on a proper Lali Puna album. Was that just something that made this new project seem more fun or do-able at this stage?

I am not good in working alone. In the beginning you think: Wow, I can do whatever I want. But after a time I need someone to talk about the song, I need other input. Maybe I am too limited, I don’t know. So I thought it would be great to do a collaboration album. I started to ask friends or people I liked to send me stuff. And I was always on top of the world when I got something. But, a collaboration album takes YEARS. So I wrote the rest of the songs alone. And then Taison (Christian Heiß) and me sat a long, long time in the studio and worked everything out and Caspar (Christoph Brandner) played some drums. So Lali Puna is still a band although I often just talk of myself—that’s a bit embarrasing.

Funny. Yeah, I’d personally never had much of a read on Lali Puna as a band vs more of a solo project. Sounds like it’s a bit of both.

So, lyrically, I feel like there’s exploration of the world in more cultural or societal or even political terms than I’m used to from you all—first, would you say that’s accurate and, if so, is that a product of these times and what’s going in the world?

I don’t know. It’s very personal at the same time, it’s just that I tried to combine that with a sort of a political sense. Or the other way round. I think one of the topics that is really important to me is that nothing is really private anymore. You think it’s your Facebook account. But of course it isn’t. It’s owned by Facebook. You get the right advertisement. Etc etc. Most of the people don’t care, big data whatever. But after Twitter-Trump we see: We better watch out.

Yeah, no kidding. I know I’m not alone in looking to our artists for insight into larger ideas or trends in the world—do you have any sage words to help put things in perspective? There seems to be so much violence and hate in the world and it seems so much more “allowed” than it used to be, in my lifetime, at least. Do you think art and artists have a responsibility to address these kind of issues?

I regulary work as a journalist for a small cultural and political radiomagazine. And I often walked home and felt so bad, like I nearly fainted. But what I came to understand after two years of being sort of “down and out” is that we have no other choice than to start to believe that things will get better. I was such a pessimist my whole life—it’s so easy. It’s so easy to say to all the activists, you are naive. But you probably need a bit naivity to make things better.

I don’t know if artists have a political responsibility. I like a lot of “unpolitical” music. But when I read an interview I always want to sort of learn something. How she or he did stuff, handled problems, sees the world. So artists have at least the responsibiliy to not talk shit, haha.

Fair enough! How are things in Germany these days? We get alternating impressions of a liberal paradise under Merkel and a nation that’s not so foreign to us in terms of societal tensions on the rise.

Politics can be really strange: Almost nobody—except the Greeks—will remember that everybody hated Merkel, at leat in the European Union. That was before Trump, before Brexit, before the refugee crisis, before the series of terrorist attacks in Europe. Now she seems like a solid rock, but what we shouldn’t forget is that the social gap is rising—and Merkel does not care.

Thats sounds all too familiar, sadly. Back to the music though—are there any new or lesser known bands in Germany or elsewhere that you’re liking a lot of late?

Well, the bad thing about doing a record is that you listen to your own stuff a lot. So that didn’t give me much time to search for new music. A few months ago I saw a DJ-set from Helena Hauff and that was fascinating. I also like what she does on recordings. She comes from Hamburg, which is where the other artist I also liked very much in the last months comes from: Sophia Kennedy. But they are both well known, so that doesn’t answer your question properly!

Shows what I know—I hadn’t heard of either! Finally, though, I know you’re touring to support the album in Europe; any plans to come to the States?

We would love to…But it’s really difficult for european bands to tour in the US, because Visa and flights are extremly expensive. We would have to become enormously famous, right now I can’t see that!

Damn Visas! We’ll just have to work on the enormous fame then!

You can listen to excerpts from Lali Puna’s new album, Two Windows, above; you can download the album or order it via the band’s BandCamp page and by way of your favorite physical or digital record store.

Feature photo by Patrick Morarescu; band photo below by Bernd Bergmann.

This month’s mixtape again dances on the line that divides somber and celebratory, easing into the whole thing with a beautiful new track by Los Angeles-based producer Nosaj Thing and his track “Way We Were”, featuring NYU Clive Davis grad Zuri Marley (granddaughter of that Marley). We’re following that with another Angeleno, Lawrence Rothman, and his addictive, 80s-tinged break-out “Wolves Still Cry”. The video for the track is a dreamy dancing ode to LA that’s worth a watch; we’re excited for this multi-faceted (literally; check his site) artist’s full album too, out October 13th. And keeping things local, we follow that with a great, brand new track from Los Angeles songstress VIAA.

Moving across the pond, we’ve got the unstoppable just-out single from a little artist named Banks; a wonderfully washed out song from Vancouver’s The Belle Game; a hook-filled track from Milwaukee duo Reyna; a new single from a favorite, Nordic band Liima (who had one of our favorite albums last year and who’s currently supporting Grizzly Bear in Europe); new wave R+B from Savannah’s BOSCO; a couple compellingly glitchy tracks from Melbourne’s Life is Better Blonde and Chicago’s Glances; a really nice song from Sydney’s Annie Bass (Sydney and Melbourne’s respective music scenes are so on fire these days); and not-so-new but can’t-get-it-out-of-heads one from Khalid (who’s so cool his middle name is actually ‘Legend’ and he doesn’t even use it).

We’re finishing up with Danish band CHINAH, another one from New Zealand’s ives. (who we featured in last September’s mix), and British duo Mount Kimbie featuring longtime favorite experimental artist Micachu.

Enjoy! And, speaking of cool videos, the one for The Belle Game’s “Spirit” is pretty stellar—it features India’s last remaining female “Well of Death” rider; check it out below.