Archive for the ‘News’ Category

March 19, 2019

Touring: Lonnie Holley

LONNIE HOLLEY TOUR DATES:

  • SYDNEY: Friday May 31 at Vivid Live, Sydney Opera House. Tickets on sale Friday March 22, more info here.
  • MELBOURNE: Saturday June 1 at Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Melbourne Recital Centre. Tickets & info here.

Mistletone is exhilarated to announce the first ever Australian tour by the great Lonnie Holley and his trio.

Lonnie Holley in his apartment in Atlanta. Pic by Gillian Laub for The New York Times

Lonnie Holley is an Alabama-born visual artist, musician, and filmmaker. His visual art is in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, and many other museums. He has released three critically acclaimed studio albums, including MITH in 2018. His first film, I Snuck Off the Slave Ship, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Like the song that inspired it, the film is a metaphor for African American transcendence.

The expansive American experience Lonnie Holley quilts together is both infinite and finely detailed. Lonnie Holley’s landmark new album MITH (out now on Jagjaguwar via Inertia) is an epic and often arduous journey, one full of struggle, pain and disillusion.

Holley’s self-taught piano improvisations and stream-of-consciousness lyrical approach have only gained purpose and power since he introduced the musical side of his art in 2012 with Just Before Music, followed by 2013’s Keeping a Record of It. But whereas his previous material seemed to dwell in the Eternal-Internal, MITH lives very much in our world — the one of concrete and tears; of dirt and blood; of injustice and hope.

Across these songs, in an impressionistic poetry all his own, Holley touches on Black Lives Matter in “I’m a Suspect”, Standing Rock in “Copying the Rock” and contemporary American politics in “I Woke Up in a Fucked-Up America.” A storyteller of the highest order, he commands a personal and universal mythology in his songs of which few songwriters are capable — names like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joanna Newsom and Gil Scott-Heron come to mind.

MITH was recorded over five years in locations such as Porto, Portugal; Cottage Grove, Oregon; New York City and Holley’s adopted hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. These 10 songs feature contributions from fellow cosmic musician Laraaji, jazz duo Nelson Patton, the late visionary producer Richard Swift, saxophonist Sam Gendel and producer/musician Shahzad Ismaily

MITH‘s grand finale is a moment of levity and hope. It’s a celebration of that purest expression of human joy — dancing. “Sometimes I Wanna Dance” features a jaunty piano riff courtesy of Lonnie’s fellow cosmic traveler Laraaji as Lonnie himself exalts bodily movement in all its forms: from a child’s instinct to move to a groove, to how simply dancing can help us get over our very worst days. In an age of bombastic dance-pop, this minimal groove with nary a drum (!!) is refreshing, buoyant and beaming.

For the accompanying video, Lonnie and a film crew created their own juke joint, Tonky’s Rocket Ship, in the middle of Atlanta and called up some of the city’s blues legends to play the band. The video nods to both the immersive documentaries of Les Blank and the in-the-mix feel of 70s Altman. But more than anything, the message is clear:  Free your ass and the mind will follow. 

Lonnie Holley’s life story as told by The New York Times:

One night in October, just a couple blocks from Harvard Square, a young crowd gathered at a music space called the Sinclair to catch a performance by Bill Callahan, the meticulous indie-rock lyricist who has been playing to bookish collegiate types since the early ‘90s. Callahan’s opening act, Lonnie Holley, had been playing to similar audiences for two years. A number of details about Holley made this fact surprising: He was decades older than just about everyone in the club and one of the few African-Americans. He says he grew up the seventh of 27 children in Jim Crow-era Alabama, where his schooling stopped around seventh grade. In his own, possibly unreliable telling, he says the woman who informally adopted him as an infant eventually traded him to another family for a pint of whiskey when he was 4. Holley also says he dug graves, picked trash at a drive-in, drank too much gin, was run over by a car and pronounced brain-dead, picked cotton, became a father at 15 (Holley now has 15 children), worked as a short-order cook at Disney World and did time at a notoriously brutal juvenile facility, the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children in Mount Meigs.

Then he celebrated his 29th birthday. And shortly after that, for the first time in his life, Holley began making art: sandstone carvings, initially — Birmingham remained something of a steel town back then, and its foundries regularly discarded the stone linings used for industrial molds. Later, he began work on a wild, metastasizing yard-art environment sprawling over two acres of family property, with sculptures constructed nearly entirely from salvaged junkyard detritus like orphaned shoes, plastic flowers, tattered quilts, tires, animal bones, VCR remotes, wooden ladders, an old tailor’s dummy, a busted Minolta EP 510 copy machine, a pink scooter, oil drums rusted to a leafy autumnal delicateness, metal pipes, broken headstone fragments, a half-melted television set destroyed in a house fire that also took the life of one of Holley’s nieces, a syringe, a white cross.

His work was soon acquired by curators at the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Smithsonian. Bill Arnett, the foremost collector (and promoter) of self-taught African-American artists from the Deep South — the man who brought worldwide attention to Thornton Dial and the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Ala. — cites his first visit to Holley’s home in 1986 as a moment of epiphany. “He was actually the catalyst that started me on a much deeper search,” Arnett says, adding bluntly that “if Lonnie had been living in the East Village 30 years ago and been white, he’d be famous by now.”

Had Holley’s story climaxed right there, with his discovery and celebration — however unfairly limited it has been, if you accept Arnett’s view — you would still be left with an immensely satisfying dramatic arc. But in 2012, at age 62, Holley made his debut as a recording artist. He had been hoarding crude home recordings of himself since the mid-’80s, but never gave much thought to anything approaching a proper release. Then he met Lance Ledbetter, the 37-year-old founder of Dust-to-Digital, a boutique record label based in Atlanta. Ledbetter, who started Dust-to-Digital as a way of bringing rare gospel records — pressed between 1902 and 1960, most them never available before on compact disc — to a broader audience, had never attempted to record a living artist before he heard Holley. “I was hearing Krautrock, R.& B., all of these genres hitting each other and pouring out of this 60-year-old person who had never made a record before,” Ledbetter recalls. “I couldn’t digest it, it was so intense.”

In terms of genre, Holley’s music is largely unclassifiable: haunting vocals accompanied by rudimentary keyboard effects, progressing without any traditional song structure — no choruses, chord changes or consistent melody whatsoever. In many ways, Holley is the perfect embodiment of Dust-to-Digital’s overriding aesthetic: a raw voice plucked from a lost world, evoking the visceral authenticity of a crackling acetate disc. The title of his Dust-to-Digital debut, released in 2012, could double as its own category description: “Just Before Music.” That album and its follow-up, “Keeping a Record of It,” released in September and, for my money, one of the best records of 2013, introduced Holley to a new audience, including members of hip indie-rock bands like Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective, who have all played with him.

January 23, 2019

Touring: Lucy Dacus



Mistletone is thrilled to present the debut Australian tour for Lucy Dacus and her band.

SYDNEY: WED MAR 27 at OXFORD ART FACTORY with Grace Turner. Tickets on sale now.

BRISBANE: THU MAR 28 at BLACK BEAR LODGE with Asha Jefferies + Moreton. Tickets on sale now.

MELBOURNE: FRI MAR 29 at NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB with Jess Ribeiro + Poppongene * SOLD OUT!

VICTORIA: SAT MAR 30 at BY THE MEADOW. Tickets on sale now.

MELBOURNE: SUN MAR 30 at NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB with Jade Imagine. Tickets on sale now.

“You said don’t go changing

I’ll rearrange to let you in

And I’ll be your historian

And you’ll be mine

And I’ll fill pages of scribbled ink

Hoping the words carry meaning”

~ Lucy Dacus, “Historian”

Lucy Dacus is done thinking small. Two years after her 2016 debut, No Burden, won her unanimous acclaim as one of rock’s most promising new voices, Dacus returned with Historian, a remarkably assured 10-track statement of intent, out now on Remote Control.

Historian finds Dacus unafraid to take on the big questions —the life-or-death reckonings, and the ones that just feel that way. It’s a record full of bracing realisations, tearful declarations and moments of hard-won peace, expressed in lyrics that feel destined for countless yearbook quotes and first tattoos.

“This is the album I needed to make,” says Dacus, who views Historian as her definitive statement as a songwriter and musician. “Everything after this is a bonus.”

She emphasises that she does not take her newfound platform as a touring musician for granted. “I have this job where I get to talk to people I don’t know every night,” she remembers thinking on the long van rides across America to support No Burden.

Realising that she would have a dramatically expanded audience for her second album, she felt an urgent call to make something worthwhile: “The next record should be the thing that’s most important to say.”

The past year, with its electoral disasters and other assorted heartbreaks, has been a rough one for many of us, Dacus included. She found solace in crafting a thoughtful narrative arc for Historian, writing a concept album about cautious optimism in the face of adversity, with thematic links between songs that reveal themselves on repeat listens.

“It starts out dark and ends hopeful, but it gets darker in between; it goes to the deepest, darkest, place and then breaks,” she explains. “What I’m trying to say throughout the album is that hope survives, even in the face of the worst stuff.”

Dacus and her band recorded the album in Nashville last March, re-teaming with No Burden producer Collin Pastore, and mixed it a few months later with A-list studio wizard John Congleton. The sound they created, with substantial input from multi-instrumentalist and live guitarist Jacob Blizard, is far richer and fuller than the debut—an outward flowering of dynamic, living, breathing rock and roll.

Dacus’ remarkable sense of melody and composition are the driving force throughout, giving Historian the immersive feel of an album made by an artist in full command of her powers.

The album opens with a striking three-track run. First comes “Night Shift,” the only breakup song Dacus has ever written: “In five years I hope the songs feel like covers, dedicated to new lovers,” she memorably declares.

Next is the catchy, upbeat first single “Addictions,” inspired in part by the dislocated feeling of life on the road and the lure of familiarity (“I’m just calling cause I’m used to it/And you’ll pick up cause you’re not a quitter…”), followed by “The Shell,” a reflection on (and embrace of) creative burnout.

There’s nothing tentative about this opening sequence. Right away, it’s clear that Dacus is on a new level of truth-telling and melodic grace.

Another key highlight is track five, “Yours & Mine” —”the centerpiece where the whole album hinges in on itself,” Dacus says. Using a call-and-response format, she wrestles with the question of how best to participate in a community broken by injustice and fear while staying true to what one believes is right.

“It’s about realising your power as a person, and deciding to do the less safe but ultimately more powerful move, which is to move physically forward —show up and march —and move forward politically,” says Dacus, who began writing the song during the 2015 Baltimore Uprising against systemic racism.

Historian closes with two stunning songs: “Pillar of Truth,” a heartfelt tribute to Dacus’ late grandmother, and “Historians,” which sums up the album’s complex lessons about loss. “From the first song to ‘Pillar of Truth,’ the message is: You can’t avoid these things, so accept them. There’s ways to go about it with grace and gratefulness,” she says. “Then ‘Historians’ says that even if you can say that, there’s still fear, and loss is terrifying. You still love things, so it’s going to hurt. But dark isn’t bad. It’s good to know that.”

January 21, 2019

Touring: Sharon Van Etten

SHARON VAN ETTEN REMIND ME TOMORROW AUSTRALIAN TOUR:

  • SYDNEY: Saturday June 1 | Vivid LIVE, Sydney Opera House. Tickets on sale Friday March 22, more info here.
  • BRISBANE: Friday June 7 | Concert Hall, QPAC with BATTS. Tickets
  • HOBART: Sunday June 9 | Dark Mofo. Dark Mofo program and tickets released in April. Subscribe for updates
  • MELBOURNE: Tuesday June 11 | Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne with BATTS. Tickets on sale here.

Mistletone are thrilled to present Sharon Van Etten’s Remind Me Tomorrow Australian Tour 2019.

“It’s been so long since I’ve been on the road and I am so excited to say that I will be returning to Australia and New Zealand this year.  Always have such an amazing time and can’t wait to share these new songs with you all.  See you soon!  X” – Sharon Van Etten 

The Remind Me Tomorrow tour is Van Etten’s first Australian visit since 2015, in support of her brand new album of the same name — released last Friday January 18 on Jagjaguwar via Inertia Music to rapturous acclaim worldwide. The album is currently Feature Album at Double JTriple R and2SER, and has received glowing reviews in The Music, The Big IssueSTACK Magazine and The Sydney Morning Herald locally, as well as Stereogum (Album Of The Week)The Guardian, NME (“her most intoxicating and impressive work to date”)and Pitchfork (Best New Music) who said “[Remind Me Tomorrow] is the peak of Van Etten’s songwriting, her most atmospheric and emotionally piercing album to date”. 

Remind Me Tomorrow follows Are We There, her top 10 critically praised album of 2014, and reckons with the life that gets lived when you put off the small and inevitable maintenance in favour of something more present. Throughout, Van Etten veers towards the driving, dark glimmer moods that have illuminated the edges of her music and pursues them full force.

Written while pregnant, going to school for psychology, after taking The OA audition, Remind Me Tomorrow was written in stolen time: in scraps of hours wedged between a myriad of endeavours. Van Etten guest-starred in The OA, and brought her music onstage in David Lynch’s revival of Twin Peaks. Off-screen, she wrote her first score for Katherine Dieckmann’smovie Strange Weather and the closing title song for Tig Notaro’s show, Tig

December 10, 2018

Touring: Connan Mockasin

CONNAN MOCKASIN TOUR DATES:

  • BRISBANE – Wednesday March 20 @ The Tivoli. Tickets on sale here. Presented by Jet Black Cat Music.
  • MELBOURNE – Thursday March 21 @ Melbourne Recital Centre. Tickets on sale here.
  • SYDNEY – Friday March 22 @ The Enmore. Tickets on sale here.

Mistletone proudly presents Connan Mockasin bringing the premiere screening of Bostyn ‘n Dobsyn plus Jassbusters live in concert.

Witness the world’s first absurdist drama as Connan Mockasin premieres his film Bostyn ‘n Dobsyn, featuring material from his new concept album Jassbusters, the follow up to 2013’s critically acclaimed album Caramel.

Three fully seated shows on Australia’s east coast will see Connan unveil Jassbusters to the world, an idiosyncratic band of high school music teachers fronted by Mr. Bostyn – the ageing guitarist who plays the starring role in the accompanying film. Connan and his band will round off the night with a live performance.

Connan Mockasin released his first album Forever Dolphin Love in 2010, and has gone on to build a devoted worldwide fan base. He has toured with Radiohead, and has collaborated with the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg, James Blake and MGMT.

PRAISE FOR JASSBUSTERS:

  • “Career-best” – Uncut (album of the month) 8/10 stars
  •  “Sublime” – Mojo (4/5 stars)
  • It reaffirms Mockasin’s status as the maddest biscuit in the box” – Q Magazine (4/5 stars)
  • “If 2013’s Caramel was a B-, then Jassbusters deserves a big fat red marker pen A”  The Quietus

Jassbusters out now on Mexican Summer via Rocket — http://mexsum.com/Jassbusters

More about Bostyn ‘n Dobsyn and Jassbusters below:

Bostyn ’n Dobsyn

– Bostyn ’n Dobsyn is a five-part melodrama film created by Connan Mockasin.

– Bostyn ’n Dobsyn is about a fictional music teacher, Bostyn, and his student, Dobsyn.

– Mockasin plays Bostyn, while Dobsyn is played by Mockasin’s childhood next door neighbour Blake Pryor.

– Bostyn ’n Dobsyn was filmed inside a disused hair salon in Los Angeles, July 2016.

– Bostyn ’n Dobsyn took 20 years to develop, and 10 days to film.

– Bostyn ’n Dobsyn features Gabriel Diggs from Celebrity Family Feud.

– Bostyn ’n Dobsyn is Connan Mockasin’s first publicly released film.

Jassbusters

– Jassbusters is the third record by Connan Mockasin.

– Jassbusters is the concept of a record made by a band of music teachers, fronted by Bostyn.

– Jassbusters was recorded live in Paris at Studios Ferber, August 2016.

– Jassbusters was recorded less than one month after the filming of Bostyn ’n Dobsyn.

– It was then recorded live again and filmed for the end scenes of Bostyn ’n Dobsyn.

– Jassbusters took one week to record.

– Jassbusters is the first record by Connan Mockasin that was recorded with a band.

– Jassbusters is designed to be listened to after watching Bostyn ’n Dobsyn.

November 12, 2018

Touring: Mary Lattimore


Artwork by Marita May Dyson

MARY LATTIMORE TOUR DATES:

  • MELBOURNE: Wednesday January 9 @ Eastmint (25 Eastment St, Northcote) w/- The Orbweavers. Tickets on sale now.
  • SYDNEY: January 11-13 at Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre as part of Sydney Festival’s Seidler Salon Series. Bring your swimwear to the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre for an underwater music experience unlike anything you’ve heard before! Tickets on sale now.

Mistletone proudly presents the first ever Australian shows by Los Angeles harpist Mary Lattimore in the dreamy venues of Melbourne artist run studio Eastmint and the Seidler-designed Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre in Sydney.

In the hands of Mary Lattimore, the ‘heavenly’ harp becomes something else entirely – edgy, elemental, grounded on Earth instead of floating in space. Instead of the familiar shimmering glissandos, Lattimore plays her instrument more like a guitar, pointedly plucking individual strings to create sunlight-filled arpeggios and otherworldly loops.
Her stunning new album Hundreds of Days (out now on Ghostly International) generates glittering ambience with electronica, as Moog synthesisers, theremin and loop pedals create atmospheres to suit track titles like It Feels Like Floating, Hello from the Edge of the Earth and On the Day You Saw the Dead Whale.
To quote Amanda Petrusich in The New Yorker, Mary “makes complex and expansive songs that evoke, for me, seismic emotional shifts—it’s not so much music to zone out to (though you can use it for that, too) as music to self-actualize by“.
Mary has collaborated and recorded with Kurt Vile, Thurston Moore, Sharon Van Etten, Parquet Courts, Meg Baird, Steve Gunn, the Clientele, Hop Along, Jarvis Cocker, Karen Elson, Ed Askew and Quilt.
She has recently released Ghost Forests, a majestic duo album with Meg Baird, on Three Lobed Records.

October 17, 2018

Touring: Beach House

Mistletone very proudly presents Beach House‘s Australian tour 2019.

BEACH HOUSE TOUR DATES:

  • BRISBANE: Tue February 26 @ The Tivoli * venue upgrade! all tickets purchased for The Triffid are valid.  The Tivoli tickets here.
  • PERTH: Thu February 28 @ Perth Festival. Tickets on sale here.
  • SYDNEY: Mon March 4 @ Enmore Theatre. Tickets on sale here.
  • ADELAIDE: Wed March 6 @ RCC Fringe, University of Adelaide. Tickets on sale here.
  • MELBOURNE: Fri March 8 @ Forum Melbourne. Tickets on sale here.
  • MEREDITH: Sat March 9 @ Golden Plains Festival. Tickets & info here.

To quote Aunty Meredith’s Golden Plains announcement;

“Time and Place.

Saturday night, just on dark, GP Thirteen, as an expectant Sup’ swells in eucalyptic, festooned anticipation.

It was late at night
You held on tight
From an empty seat
A flash of light

Perfect Time and Place. And Space.

Beach House have entered the pantheon of great dream pop acts. More recently, that dream has woken into epic soundscapes: cinematic, shoegazey, loud and dramatic. They’ve represented a high water mark for so many music-lovers for a long time now (77 songs to be exact) and recent albums, 7 and Depression Cherry, have lifted us higher still.

Fall… back… in… to… place

Perfect.”

  •  “Beach House are special, maybe even one of a kind – undeniably, consistently brilliant” – Noisey
  • “A radical blast of psychedelic pop bliss” – Rolling Stone

Beach House (Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, with drummer James Barone) bring their overwhelming, cinematic live show back to Australia next summer.

Beach House last toured Australia in 2016, with a Sydney Opera House show described by The Music as “testament to the band’s enduring commitment to creating unforgettable sonic experiences”. At once intimate and cosmic, Beach House explode onto the stage with glorious finesse and grandeur, bringing their adored songbook to kaleidoscopic life.

Beach House released 7 (their 7th full-length record) on Mistletone (Australia) and Sub Pop (worldwide). They have been a band for over 13 years and have written and released a total of 77 songs together. Mail order 7 and other Beach House goodies here.

The creation of 7 involved rebirth and rejuvenation; Scally and Legrand used to limit themselves to what they thought they could perform live, but this time that limitation was ignored. Unlike the last four albums, 7 didn’t have a producer in the traditional sense. Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom (Peter Kember) became a significant force on this record by shedding conventions and helping to keep the songs alive and fresh. The band’s trusted live drummer from 2016 to the present, James Barone, played on the entire record, helping to keep rhythm at the centre of a lot of these songs.

In the band’s own words, “we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny. The twisted double edge of glamour, with its perils and perfect moments, was an endless source.

The number 7 does represent some interesting connections in numerology. 1 and 7 have always shared a common look, so 7 feels like the perfect step in the sequence to act as a restart. Most early religions also had a fascination with 7 as being the highest level of spirituality, as in ‘Seventh Heaven.’ At our best creative moments, we felt we were channeling some kind of heavy truth, and we sincerely hope the listeners will feel that.”


photo: Shawn Brackbill

October 12, 2018

Touring: Julia Holter


Julia Holter (photo: Dicky Bahto)

JULIA HOLTER TOUR DATES:

  • PERTH: Wednesday January 16 @ The Rosemount. Presented by Cool Perth Nights. Tickets on sale now.
  • LAUNCESTON: Friday January 18 @ MONA FOMA. Tickets & info here.
  • SYDNEY: Sunday January 20 @ Sydney Festival. Tickets & info here.
  • MELBOURNE: Monday January 21 @ Melbourne Recital Centre with special guest Grand Salvo. Tickets & info here.
  • BRISBANE: Tuesday January 22 @ The Tivoli. Tickets on sale now.

Mistletone proudly presents the return of Julia Holter with her stunning ensemble, hot on the heels of her incredible new album, Aviary (out Friday October 26 on Domino).

Aviary is an epic journey through what Los Angeles composer Julia Holter describes as “the cacophony of the mind in a melting world.” It’s her most breathtakingly expansive album yet, full of startling turns and dazzling instrumental arrangements.

The follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2015 record, Have You in My Wilderness, it takes as its starting point a line from a 2009 short story by writer Etel Adnan: “I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds.” It’s a scenario that sounds straight out of a horror movie, but it’s also a pretty good metaphor for life in 2018, with its endless onslaught of political scandals, freakish natural disasters, and voices shouting their desires and resentments into the void.

“Amidst all the internal and external babble we experience daily, it’s hard to find one’s foundation,” says Holter. “I think this album is reflecting that feeling of cacophony and how one responds to it as a person – how one behaves, how one looks for love, for solace. Maybe it’s a matter of listening to and gathering the seeming madness, of forming something out of it and envisioning a future.”

The first song to be shared from Aviary, ‘I Shall Love 2’ echoes that hope: “I am in love… There is nothing else“.

Watch the video directed by Dicky Bahto below:

“In a lot of the songs, when I mention love, it’s about a seeking for compassion and humility in a world where it feels like empathy is always being tested,” Holter says. In Aviary’s case, that search for sweetness – that bridging of the gulf – becomes a metaphor for the creative process itself, cutting through the hierarchies of history, language, and musical form to offer something more fluid, more inclusive, more idiosyncratic.

Aviary, executive produced by Cole MGN and produced by Holter and Kenny Gilmore, combines Holter’s slyly theatrical vocals and Blade Runner-inspired synth work with an enveloping palette of strings and percussion that reveals itself, and the boundless scope of her vision, over the course of fifteen songs. Holter was joined by Corey Fogel (percussion), Devin Hoff (bass), Dina Maccabee (violin, viola, vocals), Sarah Belle Reid (trumpet), Andrew Tholl (violin), and Tashi Wada (synth, bagpipes).

 

 

 

October 11, 2018

Touring: Nakhane

NAKHANE TOUR DATES:

  • SYDNEY: FRIDAY JANUARY 18 @ SYDNEY FESTIVAL * sold out!
  • SYDNEY: MONDAY JANUARY 21 @ CARRIAGEWORKS / NICK CAVE UNTIL LATER EXHBITION * sold out!
  • LAUNCESTON: JANUARY 19/20 @ MONA FOMA. Tickets and info here.
  • BRISBANE: THURSDAY JANUARY 24 @ THE TIVOLI. Tickets and info here.
  • MELBOURNE: FRIDAY FEBRUARY 1 @ NOCTURNAL AT MELBOURNE MUSEUM. Tickets and info here.
  • MELBOURNE: SATURDAY FEBRUARY 2 @ HOWLER with special guest Elizabeth, plus onstage Artist in Conversation with Stani Goma (PBS-FM). Tickets on sale now.

One of the glorious things about pop music is the way that singular talents can come from anywhere – and 2018 is infinitely more interesting thanks to the arrival of Nakhane.

Born 30 years ago in Alice, a small town on the eastern Cape of South Africa, Nakhane has a ravishingly beautiful voice and plenty to express with it. His album You Will Not Die excavates his religious upbringing, his need to renounce Christianity after feeling that it was incompatible with his queerness, and his periods of depression and anxiety – but there’s also love, joy and self-acceptance, not least on the title track, in which Nakhane realises that despite the traumatic events he’s been through, he’ll survive.

As an album, You Will Not Die is gorgeous to listen to, Nakhane’s magisterial voice aligned with solid-gold songwriting. Producer Ben Christopher, whose credits include Bat For Lashes, melds choirs, strings and electronic pop into something sumptuous and urgent. From the choral hip-hop of opening track “Violent Measures”, through the anthemic pulse of “Star Red”, to the gorgeously limpid torch song “All Along”, You Will Not Die reveals the measure of Nakhane’s considerable talents.

Born in Alice, South Africa, Nakhane grew up in Port Elizabeth before moving to Johannesburg aged 15. A umXhosa, the second largest ethnic group in South Africa after the amaZulu, Nakhane was raised in a musical family – his aunt, who brought him up (and who he refers to as his mum), and her sisters sang in choirs. “My first musical memories are voices in a room singing Mozart and South African choral pieces,” he says. “And then when we moved to Port Elizabeth my mum introduced me to Marvin Gaye and the O’Jays. I didn’t really know current pop music until I was in high school.”

Nakhane performed in musicals at school, including the lead role in Joseph and his Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat, and loved singing harmony with this aunt on car journeys. Everyone in the family could sing, he says, “but for some reason I could see that singing was something I got validation from a lot more than anyone else around me.” Nakhame didn’t realise as a youngster that he had an extraordinary voice, at once triumphant and tender. “With songwriting there was a lightbulb moment where I thought ‘Yeah, I can do this!’ But with singing it was like learning how to speak, you don’t realise you’re learning and then you suddenly can.”

More difficult was Nakhane’s growing awareness of his sexuality. Though South Africa is liberal regarding LGBT rights, his family’s Christianity was becoming increasingly hardline: “the older I got, we became very staunch, more conservative”. At the age of 19 he came out, to the consternation of his church and family, who decided that his “sin” could be prayed away – “like if you have Jesus in your heart this is a temptation that you can learn to live without”. For six years until the age of 25, Nakhane was a poster boy for fundamentalism, preaching about the way God had taken away his attraction to men, “a testament that ‘look, it can happen, someone can think that they are homosexual but if they just accept Jesus into their heart and fight this temptation they can be good Christians’.”

Inevitably however, Nakhane realised that his sexuality could not – and should not – be denied. He renounced his Christian faith after a dream which inspired You Will Not Die. “One night, I dreamt a voice gave me a date, that of my death,” he remembers. “Suddenly, having forever lived in fear of divine punishment, I was certain I wasn’t to die the next day, or even 10 years later. It was incredibly freeing. I decided to catch up on lost time, to finally live my life.”

Along with his sexuality, Nakhane embraced his artistic identity. Inspired by mould-shattering musicians including Anohni, Busi Mhlongo, David Bowie, Mbongwana Star and Nina Simone, Nakhane started to write songs on his acoustic guitar and play them on the folk circuit in Johannesburg: “grungy little pubs where everyone would talk over you”. He was spotted performing in an acoustic competition in Johannesburg by the boss of a record label who signed him, then in 2013 released his first album Brave Confusion which, he says, “took a while to catch on.” In 2015 Nakhane published his first novel, Piggy Boy’s Blues, about a relationship between a young man and an uncle whom he discovers is in a same-sex relationship. The same year Nakhane collaborated with the South African DJ Black Coffee; their addictive, pulsing dance record We Dance Again was a hit and gave the singer a wide audience in the country.

His achievements are not confined to music and literature. Last year Nakhane starred in The Wound, a film about homosexuality in the Xhosa community which has been shortlisted for the best foreign language film at this year’s Oscars. This January he visited New York for a podcast-based project with the actor and filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell. He’s a polymath, then: but a musician first and foremost, with You Will Not Die showcasing him in full bloom.

Nakhane wanted it to be an electronic album, partly a reaction to his early experiences as a musician. “The folk scene is so fucked up,” he says. “It purports to be authentic which is a word I fucking hate, because it normally means white guy with a beard and an acoustic guitar. I don’t tick those boxes.” In fact, You Will Not Die ranges from the effervescent glam-tinged stomper Interloper, through the abstract blues of The Dead, to the meditative piano ballad Teen Prayer. There are some sounds which run through the record – for instance choirs, a reference to Nakhane’s upbringing – and of course that glorious voice, delving deep into his experiences. The ominous waltz Fog is about suffering what Nakhane’s doctor says is chronic depression and generalised anxiety disorder. “Four years ago it was difficult to talk about mental illness without people rolling their eyes at you,” says Nakhane. “It affects every facet of my life, unfortunately. But I’m on good medication now.”


Nakhane (photo by Tarryn Hatchett)

The shimmering dance tune “Clairvoyant” is a love song, inspired by a line in Jean Cocteau’s Les Enfants Terribles. “There’s a line there that goes ‘love had made them clairvoyant’ and I remember thinking ‘Jesus, love doesn’t make me clairvoyant – if anything I become more of an idiot when I’m in love’.” The lyrics, Nakhane says, are neither euphoric nor despairing, but about that tricky middle ground: “how you can love somebody but you can also resent them.” Its video is a sumptuous portrait of a same-sex couple, stylistically inspired by Wong Kar-Wei’s Happy Together, in which Nakhane appeared naked. “Oh yeah I am, aren’t I?,” he chuckles. “I went to the director and said to him that I wanted to show a same-sex black couple living their normal day to day life. I wanted to showcase banality but make it beautiful and stylise it.” As for the nudity, “I had a very naked family, nudity was never anything that was frowned upon. As an artist, my body is just another tool for me to use to say what I want to say.”

“Teen Prayer” was inspired by a visit to a tarot card reader who recommended that Nakhane went back to the places in which he grew up – advice he took. A kind of anti-gospel record, Teen Prayer is “about letting go of the fear that I’m going to hell. I also wanted to queer that Biblical language and gospel sound. There’s a line ‘He moves in me’ which is a double entendre. One could read it as the Holy Spirit moving in you, or one could read it as anal sex.”

The title track “You Will Not Die” delves into a subject Nakhane had previously thought was too tender to write about – the fact that his biological parents had not brought him up. “For the first five years of my life I was moved around a lot,” he says. “My father was never on the scene really, I’ve met him twice. I lived with my mother for a year when I was six, it didn’t work out, and then my aunt and her husband adopted me and they, for all intents and purposes, became my parents for the remainder of my life. It was never forethought, but life made it that way and as traumatic as it became when I was growing up, now when I look back I’m so much happier – I prefer that I was raised by my aunt.”

The song is about this hard-won acceptance of painful aspects of the past, and a hymn to Nakhane’s resilience. “That line ‘And when I woke up in the morning I knew that I wouldn’t die’. So your parents left, did you die? No. There’s always tomorrow – hopefully.”

Nakhane’s tomorrow is a hugely promising one – and he travels to the UK with his family’s blessing, despite the complexities of religion and sexuality. “It took a long time and a lot of complicated conversations, but over time I think the ice thaws,” the singer says. His experiences have turned him into a vibrantly creative artist destined to push pop’s boundaries. “I remember being young, black and queer and having no-one representing me in the world ever, you know?,” he says. “I discovered James Baldwin when I was 19 and I was never the same person ever again. So if my album can do something like that for someone, then my work is done.”

September 18, 2018

Touring: Parquet Courts


Artwork by James Vinciguerra

PARQUET COURTS TOUR DATES:

  • MELBOURNE: January 31 @ The Croxton with The Goon Sax + Primo! Presented by Triple R. Presale from Wed 31 Oct 9am until Thu 1 Nov 8am, Tickets. General Public On Sale: from Thu 1 Nov 9am, Tickets.
  • SYDNEY: February 6 @ The Factory with The Goon Sax. Presale from Wed 31 Oct 9am until Thu 1 Nov 8am, Tickets
    General Public On Sale: from Thu 1 Nov 9am, Tickets.
  • Also playing LANEWAY FESTIVAL Auckland & Australia!

Mistletone is rapt to present the return of Parquet Courts, with special guests The Goon Sax who recently released their new album We’re Not Talking. Melbourne’s Primo! will open in Melbourne. The tour comes hot on the heels of their Wide Awake remixes EP featuring two remixes by Mikey Young (Eddy Current, Total Control, etc) ‘Wide Awake (Club Mix)’ and ‘Normalization (Collective Witnessing Mix)’ and a ‘Wide Awake edit’ by legendary NYC DJ, Danny Krivit (listen / stream here).

PRAISE FOR WIDE AWAKE!

“Parquet Courts are one of the best bands in the world right now, and records like Wide Awake! are a welcome reminder that they have no shortage of ideas to ensure they keep their standards high.”– Double J

“Joyfully absurd, danceable rock music. It is straightforward but alien, simple but endlessly referential.” – Pitchfork, 8.0

“‘Wide Awake!’ is an indelible underlining of their status as one of the most important bands in the world right now.”NME ★★★★

This will be Parquet Courts’ first visit to Australia off the back of their 2018 critically acclaimed album Wide Awake! (out now via Remote Control). The record is a groundbreaking work for the band, an album about independence and individuality but also about collectivity and communitarianism. There’s also a freshness here, a breaking of new territory that’s a testament to the group’s restless spirit. Part of this could be attributed to the fact that ‘Wide Awake!’ was produced by Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse.

 

August 29, 2018

Touring: Kurt Vile

Mistletone could not be prouder to present the return of the supreme Kurt Vile & the Violators, touring brand new album Bottle It In with special guests RVG. Plus an extra Melbourne show with Tropical Fuck Storm at the Croxton. Tickets on sale now!

KURT VILE & THE VIOLATORS TOUR DATES:

  • SYDNEY: Monday 15 April @ Enmore Theatre with RVG. Tickets on sale here.
  • WOLLONGONG: Tuesday 16 April @ Unibar with RVG. Tickets on sale here.
  • CANBERRA: Wednesday 17 April @ ANU with RVG. Tickets on sale here.
  • BYRON BAY: 18-21 April @ Bluesfest. Tickets on sale now.
  • TALLAROOK: Sunday 21 April @ Boogie Festival. Tickets on sale here.
  • MELBOURNE: Monday 22 April @ The Forum with RVG. Tickets on sale here.
  • MELBOURNE: Wednesday 24 April (Anzac Day Eve) @ Croxton Bandroom with Tropical Fuck Storm. Tickets on sale here.
  • BENDIGO: Friday 26 April @ Bendigo Autumn Music Festival. Tickets on sale here.
  • ADELAIDE: Saturday 27 April @ The Gov with RVG. Tickets on sale here.
  • PERTH: Sunday 28 April @ Rosemount Hotel Carpark (outdoor show) with RVG plus local supports to be announced. Tickets on sale here.

Weeks of speculation come to an end today as details of the new Kurt Vile album can finally be confirmed: One of the most critically and commercially acclaimed artists of the last decade will release Bottle It In on Friday 12 October via Matador Records / Remote Control.

A sprawling new jammer titled ‘Bassackwards’ follows previously released Bottle It In single, ‘Loading Zones’, an ode to the parking challenges in Vile’s native Philadelphia, described alternately as “Vile at his comforting, shaggy best” (The Guardian), and an “ambiguous rumination on small town life” (MOJO). The epic, loping ‘Bassackwards’ is the album’s beating heart and Vile’s most compelling evocation of how he sees the world: “I was on the ground circa Planet Earth, but out of sorts,” he sings over a gently psychedelic bed of backmasked guitars. “But I snapped back, baby, just in time to jot it down.

Travel can inspire in surprising ways: Kurt Vile discovered as much making his first record in three years, the eclectic and electrifying Bottle It In, which he recorded at various studios around the country over two very busy years, during sessions that usually punctuated the ends of long tours or family road trips. Every song, whether it’s a concise and catchy pop composition or a sprawling guitar epic, becomes a journey unto itself, taking unexpected detours, circuitous melodic avenues, or open-highway solos. If Vile has become something of a rock guitar god—a mantle he would dismiss out of humility but also out of a desire to keep getting better, to continue absorbing new music, new sounds, new ideas—it’s due to his precise, witty playing style, which turns every riff and rhythm into points on a map and takes the scenic route from one to the next.

Using past albums as points of departure, Bottle It In heads off in new directions, pushing at the edges of the map into unexplored territory: Here be monster jams. These songs show an artist who is still evolving and growing: a songwriter who, like his hero John Prine, can make you laugh and break your heart, often in the same line, as well as a vocalist who essentially rewrites those songs whenever he sings them in his wise, laconic jive-talkin’ drawl. He revels in the minutiae of the music—not simply incorporating new instruments but emphasizing how they interact with his guitar and voice, how the glockenspiel evokes cirrocumulus clouds on “Hysteria,” how Kim Gordon’s “acoustic guitar distortion” (her term) engulfs everything at the end of “Mutinies,” how the banjo curls around his guitar lines and backing vocals from Lucius to lend a high-lonesome aura to “Come Again.”

These journeys took Vile more than two years to navigate, during which time he toured behind his breakout 2015 album b’lieve I’m goin’ down, recorded a duets album with Courtney Barnett, opened for Neil Young in front of 90,000 people in Quebec, famously became a clue on Jeopardy, hung out with friends, took vacations with his wife and daughters.

In April 2017, he trekked out to Indio, California, to catch the Stagecoach Festival and sit in with his friends the Sadies (“my favorite modern band”). Inspired by Willie Nelson’s epic set, Vile spent a few days in Los Angeles working with producer Rob Schnapf at his Mant Sounds studio.  The two had previously worked together on “Pretty Pimpin,” the leadoff track on b’lieve that became a number-one AAA radio hit. Their second collaboration was similarly inspired: Featuring backing vocals from Cass McCombs, the eleven-minute title track is full of ominous bass rumbles, hazy-steady drumbeats from Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, delicate harp stabs from Mary Lattimore, and what sounds like chewy distortion leaking out of a David Lynch flick.

 
Months later, when a lengthy Violators tour ended in Salt Lake City, Vile let the momentum carry him further west, where he recorded several more songs with engineer/producer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, the War on Drugs) at The Beer Hole in Los Angeles.  Other songs were put to tape during sojourns to Portland, Oregon, and to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where fellow Violator Rob Laakso co-produced. The bulk of Bottle It In was bottled up at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with Peter Katis (Interpol, the National) engineering and producing. Bottle It In captures the spontaneity of these impromptu sessions, revealing Vile as a diligent and singularly determined musician.
 
These recordings are the destinations, but the journeys were just as important, whether they gave him time with his wife and kids or an opportunity to get some writing done. “For a while I was terrified of flying, so I would be listening to whatever country songs I was obsessed with. I’d have George Jones blasting in my ears. Or, I would be reading something about country music. Or, I would start writing songs in that flash of being afraid, being swallowed by life. I’m up there on a plane drinking wine because like everybody else I’m afraid to die. And I wrote ‘Hysteria’ up there.” That new song, with its woozy guitar fanfare, captures mid-flight queasiness well, as Vile daydreams about escaping the flight: “Stop this plane ‘cause I wanna get off,” he sings. “Pull over somewhere on the side of a cloud.”

Bottle It In is about place only insofar as it is about the people in those places: friends and family, bandmates and music heroes, colleagues and collaborators. There’s a lot of love in these big-hearted songs, a lot of warmth toward everyone in Vile’s orbit and even toward those whose paths he’s yet to cross. “Loved you all a long, long while,” he sings on “One-Trick Ponies.” “Looked down into a deep dark well, called all of your names.” The jangly country-rock tune serves as a valentine to… he won’t say, but he and Mozgawa and Farmer Dave Scher deliver a beautifully sympathetic sing-along chorus that invites every one of us one-trick ponies to join in. 

 

As Vile prepares for another round of lengthy tours and countless shows, these songs should prove good company, reminders of the love and responsibility he has toward those he leaves at home and those he meets along the way. That makes the sentiments resonate more strongly and lends Bottle It In an emotional weight. “It’s like that moment on the airplane,” Vile says, “when you’re on your way somewhere and you have that burst of panic. When you’re terrified of dying, that’s when you want people to know you love them.”