Archive for the ‘News’ Category

June 23, 2021

Touring: Connan Mockasin

artwork by George Gillies

Mistletone proudly presents the return of Connan Mockasin, playing a series of very special, fully seated shows and premiere screening events on the east coast this August. Tickets on sale now.

CONNAN MOCKASIN TOUR DATES:

WED 11 AUG – ELTHAM HOTEL, ELTHAM NSW * SOLD OUT
THU 12 AUGELTHAM HOTEL, ELTHAM NSW. extra show added, tickets on sale now. *
FRI 13 AUG – THE TIVOLI, BRISBANE. Tickets on sale now. *
MON 16 + TUE 17 AUG – VIVID LIVE, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE. Tickets on sale now
THU 19 AUG – FORUM MELBOURNE. Early show added (6:15pm), late show (9:30pm), tickets on sale now.
* presented by Jet Black Cat Music. 

Take a mind-expanding trip with Te Awanga’s own kink of rock’n’roll, Connan Mockasin, a fearless psych-pop explorer who has established himself as one of the most influential musicians of his generation. 

Bringing his Connan UnpluggedBost’n ‘n Dobs’n Plugged to Australia’s east coast for a series of unique, fully seated performances, Connan will screen two never-seen-before episode of his TV “melodrama” Bost’n ‘n Dobs’n followed by an unplugged solo set. A musical chameleon and psych-pop savant par excellence, Connan Mockasin invites you to experience his strange world of sonic sensation.

Connan Mockasin is something of a mystery, even in his home country of New Zealand. Tales abound of him wandering Wellington’s streets in shoes cobbled together from motorcycle tyres and sheepskin (hence the surname); and projects with backstories about immunodeficient lounge lizards and human-dolphin love affairs.

Then there’s his legion of famous fans and collaborators— including Radiohead’s Thom YorkeTyler the CreatorCharlotte GainsbourgJames BlakeDev Hynes aka Blood Orange, MGMT and Mac DeMarco —who’ve been drawn to his snail’s pace R&B, dulcet falsetto, woozy psychedelia and disregard for recording industry release schedules.

With his singular talent for mixing psychedelic pop, trippy funk, experimental glam and prog rock, Connan Mockasin has made a reputation as an entrancing performer – and his live act has drawn ecstatic raves and head-scratching puzzlement in seemingly equal doses.

A prodigious musician and singular producer, Connan followed up his jazzy, soft rock inspired Forever Dolphin Love and its sultry follow-up, Caramel, with his most recent album Jassbusters which saw Mockasin roaming across country rock, soul and musical surrealism. Taking advantage of the New Zealand travel bubble, Connan brings his magic across the pond to Australia’s east coast.

“Connan Mockasin has the musical charm to bend notes in agreeable ways right up to the edge of good tuning.” – Neil Finn

November 11, 2020

On Time With Parquet Courts

Mistletone proudly presents “On Time,” a Parquet Courts concert livestream and retrospective in celebration of the 10th anniversary of their first show. Thursday December 10, 8pm AEDT with a 48 Hour rebroadcast; tickets here.

Parquet Courts have been praised as one of the decade’s essential bands. Over the years, they’ve released five acclaimed studio albums, countless EPs and singles, and played over a thousand shows.  Their influence reverberates through New York City’s music scene to Australian shores, where they’ve toured five times in 10 years.

Lyrically, Parquet Courts’ songs have revealed a desperately prescient quality, as narratives of isolation, climate catastrophe, technological dependence, and police brutality pepper their body of work and have materialised years later in some of this decade’s darker moments. Yet through this all, the band’s positive calls to action continue to invigorate audiences to fight through their malaise and to find it within themselves to move. It’s this polarity of cause and response, inventive action spurred by repulsed reaction, that led writer Lindsay Zoladz to call them “one of the most vital rock bands working today” in her Slate column at the end of 2018.

On Time with Parquet Courts celebrates their 10th anniversary with a concert livestream and retrospective. This special show, filmed live at Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works, commemorates their first show ever, which took place at Monster Island on December 17th, 2010. It will feature rare archival footage, new interviews, exclusive merch available only to ticket buyers, and much more. The band adds: “Ten years ago our adventure began by playing our first show to virtually no one, and to celebrate we’ve decided to play a show to everyone, virtually.

In conjunction, Parquet Courts unveil the classically jittery “Hey Bug,” a previously unreleased track that came from “Sunbathing Animal”LP session. 

 “If I remember correctly, it would have been recorded at Seaside Lounge in Brooklyn, during the fall of 2013. We were working there with our pal Jonathan Schenke, who had recorded Light Up Gold, but this time in a studio rather than a practice space,” says A. Savage.

“We’d have been recording material for “Tally All the Things That You Broke”and Sunbathing Animal.  Editing the sequence for a record is often a tough process, and when it’s over it’s typically such a relief that I’ll purge it from my memory entirely.  And now I’m listening to ‘Hey Bug’ these seven years later and thinking what a cool song it is.  That period was a frenzy of writing and I know it’s not the only unreleased song from that session.  So here you are, our lone musical contribution in the year 2020: ‘Hey Bug’ (recorded 2013).”

photo by Samantha York 

Praise for Parquet Courts :

“Parquet Courts offer a fine testament to rock’s continued power and relevance.” – Pitchfork

“The most exciting young rock band in America” – Rolling Stone

“These musicians are self-styled rock traditionalists at a time when tradition is in short supply… you could call them a New York heritage band, if such a thing exists today.”  –New York Times

“It’s workmanlike rock…rock molded to make you shake and rattle and roll; rock to enhance or expel the rage and despair you feel about everything that exists outside your front door.” – GQ

“Originality in rock music has never been about creating something out of nothing. It’s about creating something out of a previous something and making that new something feel young, vibrant, and sexy. This is what Parquet Courts does exceedingly well.”- Grantland

October 15, 2020

John Sharkey III – Shoot Out The Cameras


Mistletone is proud to release the debut solo album by Philly-born, Canberra-dwelling John Sharkey III. Shoot Out The Cameras is out March 5 on Mistletone (AU/NZ) and 12XU (USA); pre-order vinyl here. The arresting first single, “I Found Everyone This Way”, can be heard below.

Written and recorded amidst the devastating bushfires which ravaged his adopted hometown Canberra, just before the wave of pandemic broke, Shoot Out The Cameras reveals John Sharkey III to be a master craftsman; honing in on the existential dread of living in a burning world, and the imperative to find beauty in what remains.

Perhaps best known as the creative force behind confrontational noise-punk band Clockcleaner, which erupted from the fertile soil of Philly’s DIY scene in the 00s, Sharkey’s solid underground creds include hardcore/punk bands such as 9 Shocks Terror and more recently, literate indie-rock explorations as Puerto Rico Flowers and Dark Blue

It was love (of course) that brought Sharkey from Philly to Melbourne in 2008, where he worked behind the bar at beloved venue, The Tote. Sharkey and his partner Yasmin moved back to Philly for several years; then, amid the darkening landscape of US politics, the couple decided to settle in Canberra, Yasmin’s hometown. A lunatic sports fan, Sharkey adopted the Canberra Raiders with the same fervour as his beloved Philly Eagles, and has connected with hardcore Rugby League fans, making several guest appearances on the wildly popular NRL Boom Rookies podcast

At a physical but not psychological remove from the horrifying dysfunction of Trump’s America, Sharkey watched catastrophic bushfires encircle Canberra, raging through the hills of the Southern Tablelands, the city glowing orange, the suburbs suffocating in smoke. This is when the songs of Shoot Out The Cameras took form.

As if to echo the craters of “before” and “after” that apocalyptic events leave in our collective consciousness, the songs arranged themselves into a cinematic narrative arc, from the foreboding of disaster (Side A) through its aftermath (Side B). The background horrors of totalitarianism, paranoia and surveillance also stalk the album – the cameras of the title inspired by Canberra’s omnipresent CCTV and speed cameras – just to add to the unmistakable sense of impending doom.

Such heavy subject matter brought into his music, for the first time, a treasure that Sharkey had carried within him since his teens; the mighty influence of one of Americana’s great auteurs, Iris Dement. Dement’s ability to cut to the bone, in her sweet and devastating songs, deeply informed Sharkey’s songwriting on Shoot Out The Cameras.

“My grandmother raised me on country music – Ray Price and Patsy Cline”, Sharkey recalls. “When I was 12, my mother would flog Iris Dement’s first two albums on drives to the beach. I was into Black Flag, but come 16 or 17, I was sneaking into the car to steal her tapes. Iris Dement crept into my psyche, and never left. She taught me not to hold back, when it comes to death or sorrow, doubling down on depressive lyrics.” 

Fate intervened in the shaggy shape of Philly hero Kurt Vile, who invited Sharkey onstage when he toured Canberra last year. In the audience that night was Canberra native Nick Craft, who stood mouth agape as Sharkey sang pristine country harmonies with Vile on a cover of The Highwaymen’s “Silver Stallion”. Once Craft heard Sharkey’s demos, he urged him to make an album. 

Holed up in a small studio on Queanbeyan’s industrial estate, Sharkey and Craft captured Shoot Out The Cameras in two marathon sessions. Beautifully recorded, the starkness of Sharkey’s lyrical imagery and pit-of-the-stomach emotions are honoured with nothing more than guitar and voice, and, on the album’s closer, the glisten of Philly homie Mary Lattimore’s harp. 

The result is an album of searing emotional depth, which faces the onslaught of disaster unflinchingly, with the hope and determination that families and communities must muster to pull through the personal and collective nightmares we all face. Sharkey remains a staunch optimist, his love for his adopted Australia only strengthened by watching it burn. 

“We will adapt, we will get through this together,” he vows. “The most important thing to have in your arsenal of emotions is empathy. Not many people have it; so you have to build your own resilience and strength to deal with that too. You have to be tougher than anything the world can throw at you.”

September 3, 2020

Cash Savage and the Last Drinks – Live at Hamer Hall

Titans of Melbourne’s live music scene Cash Savage and the Last Drinks have announced a live LP, Live At Hamer Hall, out on Mistletone Records via Inertia on November 27.

 This stunning live album documents a lockdown performance by Cash Savage and the Last Drinks in the iconic venue, and captures the ferocity of the band’s live show, astonishingly without an audience. 

watch footage from Hamer Hall for the new and previously unreleased single, “Fun in the Sun”:

Cash Savage explains the grim backstory of “Fun in the Sun”: “We’ve watched the world get hotter. We’ve watched Australia burn. We’ve watched as year after year the top scientists get disregarded by the dickheads we’ve voted for. We’ve been warned, we’ve been shown, we can feel it, we know it’s real, it’s the end of mammals, it’s the end of society, it’s the end.

“But what a beautiful sunny day it is today. Better put your hat on and some SPF 50+ sunscreen and disengage, because that’s all we have left.”

Reflecting on the Hamer Hall performance, she adds; “There were mixed emotions going into this performance. Melbourne had fared well through the first lockdown, and as we were rehearsing for this, it felt like we were going to come out of it okay. By the time we performed, it was the very beginnings of the second wave. 

“Having the opportunity to play Hamer Hall was huge. It was an adjustment of expectations to think of it as a gig with no audience. We decided to make this something different — not a gig with no audience — its own thing. A performance in one movement. No gaps, no empty space. No back and forth with the crowd. Just us. 

“We didn’t intend on releasing it when we recorded it. It was performed for the moment. 

“When we received the first mix, Melbourne’s COVID-19 situation had got worse. Nao Anzai’s mix was epic, and listening to it — knowing it was going to be a while before we could perform again — made it even more precious. 

“The band and I are very proud of this performance and appreciate how special it is, in this time, to have been able to do it.”

LIVE AT HAMER HALL TRACK LISTING:

01 Intro-Falling, Landing
02 Rat-a-tat-tat
03 February
04 Human, I Am
05 Good Citizens
06 Better Than That
07 Collapse
08 Fun In The Sun
09 Sunday
10 Pack Animals


photo: Naomi Lee Beveridge

Previous albums by Cash Savage and The Last Drinks, Good Citizens and One Of Us are available on mail order LPs or CDs here.

ABOUT CASH SAVAGE AND THE LAST DRINKS

“One of the most powerful bands in the country… you won’t hear much that’s better than this”  – THE GUARDIAN

“A f**king spectacular live phenomenon” – BEAT MAGAZINE

Cash Savage & The Last Drinks are a critically acclaimed, internationally renowned seven piece band with strong ties to the Melbourne music scene. 

Since forming in 2009, Cash Savage & The Last Drinks have played countless shows across the country, as well as embarking on five European tours. Some highlights include: Meredith Music Festival, Golden Plains, Boogie Fest, Wave Rock, Darwin Festival, Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival, Orange Blossom Special Festival (DE), Binic Blues Festival (FR) and Colours of Ostrava Festival (CZ).

The band’s most recent album Good Citizens (Mistletone, 2018) was universally lauded by their fans and local and international music media. Good Citizens topped The Guardian’s ‘Top 10 Australian albums of 2018’ list, and also featured in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Top 10 albums of 2018 and The Financial Review’s Top 10 albums of 2018. It was Album of the Week on RRR FM, PBS and RTR-FM. 

The album’s lead single, Better Than That, written about Savage’s personal struggle with Australia’s Marriage Plebiscite, was cited by The Guardian as one of the ‘great Aussie protest songs’; and Radio Eins Berlin placed the single Pack Animals in their Top 100 Songs of the Decade list.

In the wake of the release of Good Citizens, Cash Savage & The Last Drinks were nominated for the Music Victoria award for Best Band and Best Song 2019, as well as the National Live Music Award for Best Rock Band 2019 and Live Instrumentalist of the Year 2019 (Kat Mear, violin). Good Citizens was long listed for the Australian Music Prize.

The band’s 2016 album One Of Us (Mistletone/Beast Records) was also released to critical acclaim. It was Album of the Week on RRRFM, PBS, RTR-FM, Beat Magazine, received 4.5 stars in The Age and 4 stars in the Herald Sun. 

Current Last Drinks:

Cash Savage Vocals Guitar / Joe White Guitar / Dougal Shaw Guitar / Nick Finch Bass / Kat Mear Violin / Roshan Khozouei Keys / Rene Mancuso Drums

July 31, 2020

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith livestream


Join Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith on Thursday, August 13th at 8pm AEST for a special, one-off livestream premiere of ​The Mosaic of Transformation​, featuring visuals by Sean Hellfritsch (who has made videos for BJÖRK, GRIZZLY BEAR and PANDA BEAR amongst others, and records music as Cool Maritime).

This is a global livestream event with three different time zones to accommodate fans from around the world: make sure you choose the best time zone for you before purchasing. Buy a ticket here.
 
A message from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith:
“It has been challenging to accept that I may not play the live set I prepared for my most recent album for a long time… Instead I have decided to create a virtual performance so it can still be shared. I’m sorry I can’t be there in person… live performance has always been such a special form of connection. I have hope that new ways of connecting will continue to grow.
Your support means so much and I can’t wait for you to experience my album in this way.
A portion of proceeds will benefit Black Trans Femmes in the Arts.
Thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity.”

////
presented by Mistletone.
https://kaitlynaureliasmith.com
February 4, 2020

Touring: DIIV * cancelled

DIIV TOUR DATES:

PERTH: April 22
@ Rosemount Hotel. tickets on sale here.
SYDNEY: April 24 @ Manning Bar. tickets on sale here.
BRISBANE: April 25 @ The Zoo. tickets on sale here.
HOBART: April 26 @ Altar. tickets on sale here.
MELBOURNE: April 28 @ The Croxton. presented by Triple R. tickets on sale here.

With much regret, due to Covid19, the DIIV tour has been cancelled. Refunds are available from ticket agencies.

Rebirth takes place when everything falls apart. DIIV — Zachary Cole Smith (lead vocals, guitar), Andrew Bailey (guitar), Colin Caulfield (bass), and Ben Newman (drums) — craft the soundtrack to personal resurrection under the heavy weight of metallic catharsis upheld by robust guitars and vocal tension that almost snaps, but never quite. The same could be said of the journey these four musicians underwent to get to their third full-length album, Deceiver (out now via Remote Control). Out of lies, fractured friendships, and broken promises, clarity would be found.

A whirlwind brought DIIV here. Amidst turmoil, the group delivered the critical and fan favourite Is the Is Are in 2016, following 2012’s Oshin. Praise came from The Guardian, Spin, and more. NME ranked it in the Top 10 among the Albums of the Year. Pitchfork’s audience voted Is the Is Are one of the Top 50 Albums of 2016, as the outlet dubbed it, “gorgeous.” With total streams for the tracklisting nearing 100 million on Spotify by 2019, “Under the Sun” clocked 19 million with “Dopamine,” “Bent (Roi’s Song),” and “Out of Mind” each passing the 7 million-mark.

In the aftermath of Cole’s personal struggles, he finally accepted “what it means to go through treatment” and committed, emerging with a renewed focus and perspective. Getting back together with the band in Los Angeles would result in a series of firsts. This would be the first time DIIV conceived a record as a band with Colin bringing in demos, writing alongside Cole, and the entire band arranging every tune.

Another first, DIIV lived with the songs on the road. During a 2018 tour with Deafheaven, they performed eight untitled brand-new compositions as the bulk of the set. The tunes also progressed as the players did. The vibe got heavier under influences ranging from Unwound and Elliot Smith to True Widow and Neurosis. They also enlisted producer Sonny Diperri [My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails, Protomartyr]. his presence dramatically expanded the sonic palette, making it richer and fuller than ever before. It marks a major step forward for DIIV.

Even after the final strains of distortion ring out on Deceiver, these four musicians will continue to evolve. “We’re still going,” as Cole affirms. “Hopefully we’ll be doing this for a long time.” DIIV’s rebirth is a hard-earned and well-deserved new beginning.



December 12, 2019

Touring: Sheer Mag * cancelled

Regretfully Sheer Mag’s tour was cancelled due to Covid 19. Refunds are available from all ticket agencies.

SHEER MAG TOUR DATES:

MELBOURNE: Thursday March 19 @ ESTONIAN HOUSE for BRUNSWICK MUSIC FESTIVAL with Power + Bloodletter. Tickets on sale now.
HOBART: Saturday March 21 @ Altar with Slag Queens + The Dreggs. Tickets on sale now.
SYDNEY: Wednesday March 25 @ Red Rattler Theatre with Circle Pit. Tickets on sale now
WOLLONGONG: Thursday March 26 @ La La La’s with Concrete Lawn + Year 6 Disco. Tickets on sale now.
BRISBANE: Friday March 27 @ The Zoo with Bloodletter + Infinite Xmas. Tickets on sale now
BAMBRA: Saturday March 28 @ Meadow. Tickets on sale now.

Are Sheer Mag the rock’n’roll saviours this planet needs right now? Just named as one of the great rock albums of the year by Rolling StonePitchforkNPR to name a few, and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders chose their worker anthem “Expect the Bayonet” at his New York campaign rally.

“Five years since the lower-than-lo-fi underground hit “What You Want” shook some action on the dance floor, Sheer Mag has toured like maniacs, upgraded to well-respected studio engineers like Arthur Rizk and become the denim-and-leather-jacket-wearing standard bearers of truly independent rock and roll. A Distant Call refines the Philly band’s roots — Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Blue Öyster Cult, Cheap Trick — with a bottomless well of hot licks and ripping guitar solos, brawny call-and-response and Tina Halladay’s soul-cleansing howl. Leaning into its signature sound, but adding unexpected textures here and there, Sheer Mag’s worker anthems and brokenhearted rock ballads fist-pump just as hard, but maybe a little more tender” – NPR

Sheer Mag’s dizzying rise initiated in 2014, when the Philadelphia band self-released the first of three 7-inches and started playing the Northeastern DIY circuit. Ironically, the music stood apart because it sounded so familiar. Indebted to ‘70s arena rock, power-pop, and proto-metal, Sheer Mag’s songs reminded a lot of us of the music we grew up with, but maybe couldn’t relate to because it was big, brash, and unapologetically macho.

Sheer Mag reclaimed some of that energy without perpetuating the toxicity. On their debut album, Need to Feel Your Love (2017), the band surveyed their contemporary political landscape through the lens of history. Singer Tina Halladay transported herself back to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, denounced redlining practices that undermine the popular vote, and paid homage to White Rose activist Sophie Scholl. On paper, it’s a mouthful, but accompanied by guitarist/lyricist Matt Palmer, guitarist Kyle Seely, and bassist/producer Hart Seely, those songs became hook-laden rallying cries.

Two years later, Sheer Mag returned with their sophomore album A Distant Call. They’re still writing about surviving our current hellscape, but this time around, the politics get extra-personal. The album verges on being a concept piece, and the protagonist resembles Halladay herself. The songs document a particularly alienating time in her life when she was laid off from a job. Broke and newly single, her father (with whom she had a fraught relationship) passed away, leaving her with more wounds than felt possible to heal.

October 29, 2019

Touring: Hand Habits

artwork by George Gillies

HAND HABITS TOUR DATES:

WOLLONGONG: Saturday February 29 @ Farmer & the Owl. Tickets on sale here.
BRISBANE: Sunday March 1 @ Nine Lives Festival. Tickets on sale here.
BRISBANE: Monday March 2 @ The Junk Bar. Tickets on sale here.
SYDNEY: Tuesday March 3 @ Factory Theatre w/ Weyes Blood.  [tickets]
SYDNEY: Wednesday March 4 @ Enmore Theatre w/ Aldous Harding. Tickets on sale here.
CASTLEMAINE: Thursday March 12 @ Bridge Hotel w/ Grand Salvo. Tickets on sale here.
MELBOURNE: Saturday March 14 @ Estonian House, Brunswick Music Festival with June Jones + Grace Cummings. Tickets on sale here.

Mistletone proudly presents Hand Habits on their first Australian tour.

Meg Duffy grew up in a small town in upstate New York and they cut their teeth as a session guitarist and touring member of Kevin Morby’s band. The Hand Habits project emerged after Meg moved to Los Angeles; it started as a private songwriting outlet but soon evolved into a fully-fledged band with Meg at the helm.

pic: Graham Tolbert

Hand Habits’ debut album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), was released by Woodsist Records in 2017. The LP was entirely self-produced and recorded in Meg’s home during spare moments when they weren’t touring. This lush, homespun collection of folk songs that found Meg in an exploratory state as an artist moving out on their own for the first time. Two years later, Hand Habits returned with the stunning album, placeholder, released locally by Milk! Records.

Wildfires raged in Southern California when Meg wrote the bulk of placeholder, and the anxiety that came with living in L.A. during that time exposes itself throughout these songs. “Fire is such a powerful symbol. It’s destructive, but it’s also generative,” Meg says. References to that particular mindset abound on placeholder, most notably on the stand-out track “wildfire,” but it creeps into other songs, too. Separating side A from side B is a MIDI interlude titled “heat,” which finds Meg repeating, “Heat beyond the lines of passion,” a line borrowed from Jeanette Winterson’s novel The Passion. Later, on the sweet and yearning “what lovers do,” Meg likens desire to a glowing fire in a cadence that recalls Sharon Van Etten. 

Meg recently announced a “wildfire covers” EP (available via Bandcamp) with five covers of “wildfire” by Angel OlsenTara Jane O’NeilLomeldaJohn Andrews, and Kacey Johansing, with proceeds going to toward the Amazon Conservation Association. In a statement, they said:

“Being a touring musician eight months out of the year, you are exposed to a lot of varying degrees of climate change effects in a short period of time. From the gasoline that’s used to fuel touring vehicles, to the massive amount of plastic waste at the end of every show, to the carbon emissions released into the air by all the travel, it’s often not the most environmentally conscious career. I wanted to contribute, even if in a small way, to the efforts at work by the people at the Amazon Conservation Association for being dedicated to preserving such a vast and heartbreakingly crucial part of our ecosystem that has been threatened by wildfires, deforestation, and the effects of climate change. 

“I believe that writing and performing music can be a healing force, used for good, and not always for capitalizing on emotions and commodifying a personality or lifestyle. People need to be able to relate to each other, in times of joy, and especially in times of sorrow or struggle. The Wildfire Compilation, in partnership with Bandcamp and Saddle Creek, will be donating all of its funds raised to the ACA in hopes to lend a helping hand to those on the front lines of fighting climate change in places that may seem inaccessible to those of us unable to travel at length. I chose five artists, Tara Jane O’Neil, Lomelda, John Andrews, Angel Olsen, and Kacey Johansing to interpret and cover my song “wildfire” that I wrote during the California Wildfires in 2017. All of these artists are dear friends and have all taught me a lot about the complexity of emotions in music.”

To make this album, Meg chose to work in a studio and bring in collaborators, entrusting them with what had previously been a very personal creative process. Over the course of 12 tracks, Meg emerges with new confidence as both a bandleader and singer. placeholder is as tender and immediate as anything Meg’s ever written, but it’s also intensely focused and refined, the work of a meticulous musician ready to share their singular vision with the world. 

The name placeholder stems from Meg’s fascination with the undefinable. Their songs serve as openings –carved-out spaces waiting to be endowed with meaning. As a lyricist, Meg is drawn to the in-between, and the songs on this new album primarily confront the ways in which certain experiences can serve as a stepping stone on the road to self-discovery. “A big aspect of my songwriting and the way I move through the world depends on my relationships with people. The songs on placeholder are about accountability and forgiveness,” Meg says. “These are all real stories. I don’t fictionalize much.”

placeholder opens with the title track which on its surface is about a breakup. “Oh but I was just a placeholder/ A lesson to be learned,” a scorned Meg sings over a lush bed of twangy guitars. The blame quickly shifts, though, as Meg begins to take on partial responsibility for the partnership’s collapse: “Oh but now you are just a placeholder/ Blinded by desire/ Oh now you’re just a placeholder for someone wasting time.”

Nothing in Meg’s world is as simple as black and white, right or wrong. An openness to nuance drives revelation in these songs. “I value the closeness I share with my chosen family and I’m interested in queering relationships in my music. The relationships in my life expand my capacity to love because the lines between romance and friendship are often blurred,” Meg explains.

The bonds Meg addresses on placeholder extend beyond the bounds of romance. On “can’t calm down,” Meg contemplates inherited trauma and questions whether it’s possible for someone to upend patterns of familial suffering. Relatedly, the closing track, “book on how to change part II,” refers back to Meg’s mother, who died when they were young. It’s a simultaneously aching and reassuring song, buoyed in part by a saxophone and Meg’s pointed harmonies that bring levity to painful subject matter.

The flames that fuel placeholder occasionally billow out, but most often these songs are warm and comforting –a space listeners can return to again and again when theoutside world starts to overwhelm. Meg describes these songs as their most direct to date, crafted with clear intention. “It’s less of a submerged landscape and more a concise series of thoughts,” Meg explains.

Instrumentally, placeholder can be situated alongside some of Meg’s folk-adjacent contemporaries like Angel Olsen or Big Thief, and the guitar work on this album proves that Meg continues to be one of the finest young musicians working today. placeholder is another entry in the Hand Habits songbook, but it’s also a valuable testament of our time. While placeholder inspires a sense of ease, simple questions rarely beget easy answers and Meg honors the indescribable joy and profound sorrow that comes with figuring things out, one step at a time.

October 18, 2019

Touring: Holly Herndon

Mistletone proudly presents Holly Herndonwith her PROTO ensemble, performing at Mona Foma in Launceston, where she will also present an Artist Talk, and her first Melbourne show at Melbourne Recital Centre. 

HOLLY HERNDON TOUR DATES:

LAUNCESTON: SATURDAY JANUARY 18 @ MONA FOMA (performance). 
Tickets & info here.
LAUNCESTON: SUNDAY JANUARY 19 @ MONA FOMA (artist talk). Tickets & info here.
MELBOURNE: TUESDAY JANUARY 21 @ Melbourne Recital Centre. Presale: Mon 21 October 10am here (promo code: HOLLY). General on sale: Wed 23 October 10am, here.

Trailblazing electronic musician Holly Herndon presents her vision of a digital future, exploring technology’s potential through artificial intelligence, vocals and visuals.

Holly Herndon lifted the lid on the creative process of her latest album via Birthing PROTO, a 6-minute documentary directed by Theresa Baumgartner and Zoya Bassi:

Filmed in Holly’s home studio and at Volksbühne, where Herndon headlined recently with her vocal ensemble, it offers an insight into the making of third studio record PROTO and translating their extraordinary work to the live stage. 

Technology empowers creation of all kinds. By way of modern advancements and innovations, new artforms prosper, life expectancy extends, and artificial intelligence gains awareness. The capabilities of such developments should be explored, employed, and embraced. Rather than dimming and darkening the future, they burgeon and brighten it. 

Case in point, Holly Herndon operates at the nexus of technological evolution and musical catharsis. On her third full-length album PROTO (4AD / Remote Control), the performer and composer fronts and conducts an electronic pop choir comprised of both human and A.I. voices over a musical palette that encompasses everything from synths to Sacred Harp stylings. 

“Our vision of technology is that it enables relationships and liberates us to be more human together, which it so often is not designed to do” she exclaims. “There’s a pervasive narrative of it as dehumanizing. We stand in contrast to that. It’s not like we want to run away from technology; we’re very much running towards it.” 

Since her arrival in 2012, Holly has successfully mined the edges of electronic and Avant Garde pop and emerged with a dynamic and disruptive canon of her own. Her musical palette started to expand as she utilized the laptop as “the most intimate instrument,” cultivating live voice processing systems and eventually developing custom vocal patches to construct experimental pieces to be performed in real-time.

As she researched platform politics for her phD at Stanford, she assembled her 2015 sophomore offering PlatformPlatform closed out 2015 by gracing year-end lists from Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, and The Wire. In the aftermath, Radiohead handpicked her to open up its European tour.

Along the way, she quietly pieced together what would become PROTO alongside cohort Matthew Dryhurst. In addition to assembling a Berlin-based “ensemble of vocalists,” Holly and Mat “gave birth to an A.I. baby” affectionately named Spawn—who also joined the fold. 

Housed in a souped-up gaming PC, they set no learning parameters for Spawn. Instead, custom converters warped openly available machine-leaning programming to push code to actually manipulate sound. As a result, Spawn learned on her own from Mat, Holly, and collaborator and developer Jules LaPlace. Holly and Mat hosted the other ensemble vocalists at their home during weekly “learning sessions.” They served soup, improvised, and sang as their synthetic child mimicked. 

“We wanted to put together a community of artists for this,” she goes on. “There’s no escaping the hours in front of the computer, but we also craved a very physical in-person sound and the experience of music-making. Choosing to work with an ensemble of humans was a statement of principle that also relates to A.I. I don’t want to live in a world in which humans are automated off stage. Spawn was an ensemble member. Everyone was unique, but could work together as a unit. The meetings created a baseline trust, so they’d be willing to try something seemingly crazy,” laughs Holly.