… March, April & May: (Not a) Popfest Preview: Big Pink Cake Christmas Party All-Dayer

10708679_10152741775053346_8141484591341349925_o
 
march_april_may_2.5x5 ‘Tis the Season! It’s nearly that time of the year: holiday gatherings, mulled wine, festive sweaters and, of course, the Big Pink Cake Christmas party.

London’s pop outlet Big Pink Cake has been organizing a Christmas-themed all-dayer for the past several years and 2014 is no exception. This year’s lineup is chock full of incredible pop acts, including February Record’s own Finnmark. The intimate gathering, happening this Saturday (13 December), is not to be missed if you’re in London. A little last minute, we asked one of the organizers, Matthew Rimell, a few questions concerning the event.

Can you give us a history of the Big Pink Cake Christmas Party (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
Well we’d been putting on gigs for a while in both London and Bristol, but decided that we kind of needed to scale back a bit because of how busy we all are … A Christmas party seemed like a nice idea, to get friends together and bands that we liked. Heather and I had put on indie pop weekenders before, in Bristol and although we love doing them they left us physically exhausted, an all-dayer seemed like a better burst of activity and then having the next day to recover … Or not.

What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
Well it’s sort of floating around in my head for a little while, leading up to summer … It’s a combination of asking and being asked … Bands that we really like, have put on before or bands that have grabbed us by going to gigs throughout the year. A lot of bands though have become friends over the years, so we love them and the bands their in — what better excuse to have a party.

What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing the Christmas Party?
Try to sort out most of it during the summer when you’ve got a bit more time … Otherwise it can get a bit panicky when September happens and people are too bogged down with stuff … I think it’s to give stuff plenty of time because things change, new things might have to be thought about … I think time is a key issue.

When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
During the summer time when my job is much less of a strain … I love August! I wish it was August all the time … But I’d get bored wouldn’t I? Maybe not … I think organisation is a bit too grand really … It’s a bit of a thought, a bit of passion, then an action with hopefully a yes as the desired response … We aren’t that organised and I don’t think we’d want to be. Fun has to be the main element, or forget it.

Do you have any inside tips for attendees?
Not really, just enjoy yourself and have a lovely time … You’re amongst kindred spirits, who are there for the specialness of the quieter afternoon session upstairs by the Christmas tree and chandelier … Come and join us all for a curry during the break if you like and then jump up and down to the full on electric session in the cellar for the evening. We love both sessions, they present something different and special … But mostly its friends coming together … it really is a great feeling to be around people coming from all over the world for our small little event.

What are some of the best and worst Christmas Party moments you can remember?
Not really any worst ones (yet) … Although Heather and I did get a bit ‘silly’ when we couldn’t have the Christmas tree last year … Heather and I are old and best friends from school … Sometimes we can get a bit daft — you know, in the way best friends can get. The best bits are too many … Seriously, we love seeing everyone having a lovely time, making friendships and smiling. The bands also, every single one that we’ve had has been totally special and have made it for us and everyone else. There are literally too many bands that stick out for me … But mostly it’s the atmosphere created by everyone … That’s the reason why we do it.

For more information, check the event page here.

5-Year Anniversary Compilation and Zine

I know we’ve been a little quiet over here lately. We still have a few interviews to finish up for our Popfest Previews series and another EP release in the works for early next year, but we’ve also been working on something a bit bigger. Something we’re now ready to reveal to you.

February Records turned 5 this year and, to celebrate, we are releasing a CD compilation featuring 14 bands spanning the length of our catalog. Most of the songs have never been released before and are exclusive to this comp. We wanted to make this project special. I think we have.

The CD will feature bands from our current roster, including Finnmark, The Swapsies, The Halamays, Cozy Catastrophes, Ry Smith, and The Pretty Greens. However, we wanted this compilation to celebrate everything the label has accomplished over the years, so we reached out to bands we have worked with in the past, such as Lunchbox, Onward Chariots, Ghost of Chance, Brilliant at Breakfast, Summer Library, The Month of June, and Secret Charisma. There is even a track from NYC’s Boy Genius who has played more than a few gigs that February put on in the early years though they never officially released on the label.

In addition to the compilation, we’ve decided to produce the first physical edition of our zine, …March, April, & May. The zine will include interviews with each of the bands represented on the compilation plus much more.

Though a physical release date has yet to be set, we are aiming to have everything printed, pressed, stamped, and sewn together by the middle of December. We’ll be updating you of our progress along the way because, let’s face it, this is the first time we’ve done anything like this and we’re excited to share it all with you.

Kristin & Danny

Compilation contributors:
Boy Genius
Brilliant at Breakfast
Cozy Catastrophes
Finnmark!
Ghost of Chance
The Halamays
Lunchbox
The Month of June
Onward Chariots
The Pretty Greens
Ry Smith
Secret Charisma
Summer Library
The Swapsies

… March, April & May: Popfest Preview: Lima Popfest

lima_web
 
march_april_may_2.5x5We love that there are more Popfests cropping up all over the world. It seems as though people are really taking their love for pop music and combining it with the pride of their culture. Lima Popfest is certainly no exception to that. This year will be the very first year for the festival, celebrating the pop bands and DJs of Latin America. We know where we wish we could be on the 17th and 18th of October!

1. Can you give us a history of Lima Popfest (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
Since I returned to Lima in 2009, I felt the need to have a Popfest in Latin America. I became an active part of the independent pop scene when I joined the noise pop band Eva & John in 2011 and I remember having long conversations with Roque from Cloudberry Records about organizing a Lima Popfest. Earlier this year, I talked to my friend Carlos Luque from Camisa de Fuerza and he supported the project. Inspired by the Sao Paulo Popfest and the Madrid Popfest, we started working on the first edition of Lima Popfest which will be held on October 17th and 18th in Downtown Lima.

2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
For this first edition, Roque, Manuel (Eva & John) and I suggested some bands from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Brazil and Peru. I remember the first bands we contacted were La Ola que Quería ser Chau and Las Ligas Menores from Argentina because they make some amazing songs. Later, Trementina and My Light Shines for You from Chile. We also contacted some great bands from Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, and the band Peru from the UK, but it was a little more difficult to get them here due to the distances and other issues. For the Peruvian bands, we chose them because we think they are some of the best in the local scene. For future editions, we will be accepting applications to expand the lineup. After we launched the festival, we have been contacted by artists who make great music and they need to be heard.

3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing a popfest?
Well, it is our first edition so there are a lot of lessons to be learned yet.

4. When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
We will take a couple of months off after the first one. So, in January 2015 we will start planning the next one.

5. Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
Just to have fun and get ready to jump and dance with these amazing bands. If they are coming from a different country, they must try our amazing food, drinks and maybe take some time to visit Cuzco, Arequipa, Trujillo and other cities in Peru.

6. What are some of the best and worst popfest moments you can remember?
It is the first one so we are expecting to have more “best moments” than worst to tell you about in the future. Thank you for the interview. We invite everybody from all over the world to come to Lima in October to enjoy some of the best indie pop bands from Latin America.

Thank you, Daniel!

poster_web
 
For more information about Lima Popfest, please visit their Facebook page.

… March, April & May: Popfest Preview: Popfest Berlin

berlin_web
 
march_april_may_2.5x5For the past 5 years, Popfest Berlin has been hosting a series of international bands in their German city. This year is no exception! Over the course of a weekend (September 26th and 27th, to be exact), bands from Spain, the UK, and Germany will play to an enthusiastic crowd in the Grünen Salon. Instead of drinking lots of German beer, as Sandra suggests doing, we will be stuck wishing we were there!

1. Can you give us a history of Popfest Berlin (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
We started in 2010. I had just moved to Berlin and met Uwe and Olaf from Firestation Records. I hadn’t been involved in the indie pop scene here before and I was wondering if there are enough people out (t)here to start something like a Popfest. So I set up a Facebook group called Popfest Berlin. Within hours it had over 100 members and everybody was asking: when and where?! I was overwhelmed … but I had actually no idea how to organize it! :D Anyway this was the point of no return! Luckily, Uwe had already organized lots of parties and concerts, and some days later the venue was fixed and we (Uwe, Olaf, Andi from the Pop Assistants and me) could start working on the first Popfest Berlin line-up.

2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
The only rule is: More pop less shit! When it comes to choosing bands, we all have a quite different taste, though it’s all indie pop. This makes our meet-ups sometimes really heated! ;) We don’t have an application process and contact most of the bands on our own (which is quite hard sometimes!), but are always happy about requests by bands (and fans)!

3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing Popfest Berlin?
There’s never enough free beer for the bands! And, unfortunately, also there’s never enough money to pay the bands fair :( This is really a serious problem, since most of our bands come from abroad and have high traveling costs. We are really grateful for their effort!

4. When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
Usually, right after the Popfest we are so excited, that we can’t wait to meet up again and discuss about the next line-up! But then we take a small break and start about eight months before the next one. It surprises me, but we got quite organized over the years!

5. Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
German beer! Loads of! And stay on the dance floor until 5 o’clock in the morning!

6. What are some of the best and worst Popfest Berlin moments you can remember?
My favorite moment was when Amelia Fletcher used my tambourine on stage! I bought it ages ago and never had a use for it, but I knew one day it would get its 45 minutes fame ;)

Well, the worst one. As I said before, there’s never enough money, and there was one time where we didn’t sell enough tickets. That was really disappointing, but didn’t keep us from going on! Because all the people, who have been to our festivals, are so thankful for setting up Popfest Berlin and bringing indie pop to Germany!

Thanks, Sandra!

PopfestBerlin2014-Poster
 
For more information regarding the line-up, tickets, etc. be sure to visit the Popfest Berlin website.

FEB040: “REXROTH” by Ry Smith


 
Ry Smith is the musical mastermind behind the once-prolific Long Island folk-pop band Eastern Phoebes. February Records released the Phoebes’ 2011 EP Gypsy Paw. Now, since relocating to Rhode Island, Ry is making music on his own, churning out solo pop gems with a slightly darker tone. REXROTH is a self-proclaimed “record about sadness,” tackling so many of the twists and turns of life.

rysmith
 
The 13-song pay-what-you-want download comes with an exclusive interview with Ry.

…March, April & May: Popfest Preview: Indietracks

indietracks_web
 

march_april_may_2.5x5The one festival that really needs no introduction: Indietracks. For many people it is the pinnacle of indiepop festivals. For those of us who have never been, we’ve all heard stories. For everyone who has gone and experienced it, they always say the same thing: “You’re going to love it!” The festival has inspired songs (i.e. Northern Spies’ “Swanwick Junction” and Lisa Bouvier’s “Every Year Until We Die”), has a good handful of attendees who return year after year, and hotels are fully booked by Christmas.

So, what’s the story behind the festival? We asked Team Indietracks a few questions to find out!

1. Can you give us a history of Indietracks (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
The festival started in 2007 and was the idea of Stuart Mackay, who worked on the Midland Railway in Derbyshire restoring trains. He thought it would be great to have an indiepop festival there, and amazingly the railway agreed! So they ran a small event in April 2007 with just a few bands and DJs, followed by a first weekend festival in July 2007. Stuart, Emma Hall and Daniel Chapman organised these two events, with a lot of work and support from the Midland Railway team, especially Andrea and John Hett.

From 2008 onwards, the festival grew and invited bigger names like The Wedding Present and Los Campesinos! in 2008, and then Teenage Fanclub and Camera Obscura in 2009 (when we asked Elefant Records to help curate the bill). As the festival grew, more of us joined the team to help with all the work. Stuart, Emma (H) and Daniel have left the team now, and John Hett from the railway sadly passed away in 2009. The current team is Marianthi, Ian, Nat, Alice, Emma (C) and Andy, with lots of work from Andrea, Alan and the railway staff. We’ve all been involved for several years, so hopefully the festival is still in safe hands!

2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
There’s a few ways we select the bands. We invite bands to send us applications every autumn, and then have a listen to see which ones we like the most. We usually get several hundred applications and have a great time listening to everything! There’s also a wishlist on the Anorak message board, and we always look at that and try and book the bands near the top of the list, as well as picking up on any great ideas further down the list. And then there’s always lots of bands we have in mind ourselves. We try not to have any bands playing two years in a row, but otherwise there’s no rules! 

Hopefully this gives us a varied and interesting festival. This year we’ve some amazing artists that have never played before (Gruff Rhys, The Chills, Dean Wareham, The Popguns, Sweet Baboo), some Indietracks favourites returning (Allo Darlin’, Withered Hand, The Hidden Cameras, The Just Joans), some great overseas bands (Los Cripis, Lost Tapes, The Very Most, Thee AHs) and lots more besides! 

3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing Indietracks?
Never underestimate the imagination of the Midland Railway staff! Every year they come up with something creative and slightly crazy. Last year there was a beach on the festival site, which ended the weekend in perfect condition despite a huge and merry late night singalong taking place there on the Sunday night. They’ve also arranged for an owl sanctuary to be on site during the festival and they also brought glow sticks along one year. Last year’s festival also ended up with one of the bar staff playing “The Last Post” on a bugle at the end of our final disco. We really have no idea what they’re going to do this year! 

4. When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
We’re planning for the next one now! There’s a few bands that couldn’t make it this year that we’ve already asked whether they could play if we hold the festival again next year. And then we usually invite bands to apply in the autumn so that we can start booking from January onwards. We’re writing this in mid-June and we’re still booking bands now — it’s good to be organised, but helpful not to pin down absolutely everything too far in advance just in case someone amazing becomes available at the last minute. We were really pleased to book The Chills in early June this year and fortunately we still had space on the bill when they became available!

5. Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
We’d suggest watching a few bands in the tin tabernacle church, even if it’s a band you’re not familiar with, as the atmosphere in the church is amazing. We’d also recommend visiting some of the railway attractions — the light railway and the miniature railway in the country park are wonderful, and it’s great looking round all the old trains and buses in the transport museum. And remember to go and visit the owls next to the railway canteen (Johnson’s buffet). Oh, and if it’s hot, there’s ice cream in the Swanwick Junction station shop! 

6. What are some of the best and worst Indietracks moments you can remember?
The 2007 festivals were incredible, as we couldn’t believe we were able to hold indiepop shows on such a beautiful location. Over the years, there’s been some really special shows (La Casa Azul, Teenage Fanclub, Edwyn Collins spring to mind first). It’s also been great to see bands that played at Indietracks fairly early on (Allo Darlin’, Standard Fare, Just Joans) come back and play to huge crowds in later years. I can’t think of any worst moments — things have gone wrong of course (eg. the thunderstorms last year that meant moving Camera Obscura to the indoor stage at short notice) but in those situations the fact that all our bands, our stage crew and our audience are all really nice and all help each other to fix things means that those moments  actually  become the best moments too! 

Many thanks to Team Indietracks!

indietracks_banner_web
 

For the full line-up (including interviews with each band), schedule, ticket information, and more, please visit the Indietracks website.

FEB039: “Way Last June” by Cozy Catastrophes

 
Cozy Catastrophes is the solo recording project of Greg Adams. Using guitars, bass, Casios, Moog, glockenspiel and drum machines, and inspired by twee pop, Swedish pop, self-help books and Bobby Rydell’s sweaters, Cozy Catastrophes creates music for teen-age record hops, in-town driving, and lonely hours. The Bloomington, Indiana, resident released his debut album, An Instructive Amusement, in August 2013 on his own Beehive Rebellion Records. The homemade, bedroom-pop recordings of the debut album were clever and slightly cute. Any song called “I Wish This Sweater Were You” was already going to be a big hit among the two of us at February Records. The new Cozy Catastrophes EP, Way Last June, is a bit more electric, but the songwriting is still just as clever as the debut album.

CC_tape_web
 
The 6-song, pay-what-you-want download comes with an exclusive interview with Greg. Cassette versions of Way Last June are also available for purchase directly from Cozy Catastrophes.

CozyCatastrophes_web
 
The debut album [from Cozy Catastrophes] has a catchy melody and a good, positive feel.Pop Camp blog (translated)

… March, April & May: Lisle Mitnik/Fireflies

lisle_web

 

MAM_banner_greyThough he’s long since left the area, I still have some kind of “New England native solidarity” with Lisle Mitnik. Lisle, the man behind Fireflies, grew up on the eastern seacoast of Massachusetts and, after attending college in California, has settled in Chicago.

Firelies is Lisle’s solo project, which began in 2003. Though the first Fireflies release on a label occurred in 2007, Lisle self-released a few albums for his friends in college. Fireflies has released several albums and EPs and contributed numerous songs to various compiliations over the last 11 years, including his brand new album, “In Dreams,” released on Jigsaw Records in April. In addition to Fireflies, Lisle has also been a member of projects such as Tiny Fireflies, Very Truly Yours, Edine, and Two If By Sea, which released their EP on February Records in December 2010.

Through the loose connections Lisle has with February Records, we thought it would be a good opportunity to ask him a few questions about his musical background in New England, his various projects, and the new Fireflies album.

March, April & May: You’re originally from Gloucester, Massachusetts. When did you leave New England? Why? How often do you make it back to the East Coast?

Lisle: I left New England in 2001 to attend college in California. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision to get out of New England. As I was making my final decisions on where to go, California just seemed to be where life was taking me at the time. The summer before I left, I used to listen to “Goin’ to California” by Led Zeppelin a lot when I would drive around at night: “Made up my mind. Make a new start. Going to California with an aching in my heart. Someone told me there’s a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.” Such are the shallow dreams of a provincial teenage boy. 

I usually get back a few times a year to visit my parents. They have since moved from Gloucester, which is a fairly small fishing town, to the larger city of Salem, home of the witches! While my roots there have been cut somewhat, I still love the feel of New England. I feel quite fortunate to have been raised in such an idyllic place … the gentle sounds of waves crashing, seagulls cawing, and wind rustling through the leaves will always be in my blood.

M,A&M: Having spent a great deal of time in Salem myself and given the presence of Salem State University in the city, it’s most certainly an artistic and alternative type of place. Is this how you remember it? Do you remember there being any kind of distinct music scene in the North Shore area, perhaps one separate from Boston?

Lisle: I think the North Shore does have its own kind of vibe, separate from Boston, the South Shore, or Western MA. The way I remember it now, it’s kind of got a Maine-type of vibe. Progressive, but not Vermont progressive. Passively progressive. Like, “Let’s all just live and let live, and enjoy the scenery.” Everyone has their own thing going. Certainly Salem’s rich history attracts quite a lot of alternative-types of people. Gloucester’s laid-back coastal beauty seemed to attract wealthier people that were maybe a little too alternative for high-rise life in a suit, but then they’re mixed with the working-class fishermen types, so it never felt stuck-up. It even had an independent record shop (Mystery Train) and a venue called Art Space. It was run by the guy that wrote the cult film, C.H.U.D. (Look it up, you won’t be disappointed!).

Toward the end of my high school years, there was a distinct local punk rock scene happening around Art Space. The best way I can describe it was like, hardcore + ska. It was pretty intense. I went to a few shows there, but this kind of music didn’t really speak to me.

M,A&M: How involved in music were you before you moved to California?

Lisle: Before moving to California, my main source of playing music was my piano lessons. I started at a very young age, and continued mostly uninterrupted through high school. Though I was playing my assignments, at this time I think my true involvement with music was getting to know all about it, and establishing myself as a true music lover. My first love with music came from my parents’ record collection, which was filled exclusively with ’60s stuff like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones, but I was into everything. In those freewheeling early days of the internet, I was seeking out more and more music from around the world. I had sophisticated friends from NYC that showed me all about Brit-pop, and a friend in Denmark who supplied me with endless amounts of electronica from Europe.

M,A&M: Quite a few of your songs, albums, and even some of the compilations in which Fireflies have appeared on have been seasonally themed. The EardrumsPOP Summer’s Here – vol 2 compilation, your winter-themed Butterscotch EP and The Autumn Almanac album, and Little Treasure’s Springtime! compilation. Why do you think this is? Are you at all inspired by nature and, if so, how?

Lisle: I definitely feel inspired by nature. I think this comes as a result of my upbringing in such a seasonal place like New England, coupled with the distinct absence of seasons going to college in the California desert, which is when I started to explore writing songs. I found myself longing for those seasonal markers: cosy winters by the fireplace, beautiful multi-colored autumns, and care-free seaside summers. I had a brand-new life, and I missed all the happy memories I had associated with this previous life, even though I knew I had truly left it behind. It took a lot to come to grips with that feeling of having my tether cut.

M,A&M: How do you feel your songwriting has developed over the years? Do you find that you’re still inspired by the same things or have they changed?

Lisle: I think the main change has been in the point of view of the songs. In the first few years of my songwriting life, I went from living in Massachusetts to living in California, to living in London, back to California, and finally, settling in Chicago. Everything was always in flux, and I used songwriting as a way to process everything that was happening. At that time, my songwriting book was like my journal, and I was making “entries” of new songs 3-5 times per week.

These days, my life is a lot more stable and settled. I’m still inspired by the same kinds of things, but now my songs aren’t always so autobiographical. There’s more elements that come from external sources, such as films, books, and in the case of my recent album, dreams.

M,A&M: While Fireflies in your solo effort, you have been involved in various other projects as well including Two If By Sea, Very Truly Yours, Tiny Fireflies, and Edine. Can you tell us what being a part of these various projects has been like? What have you learned from them?

Lisle: To answer what being in these other projects has been like, the first word that comes to mind is, “refreshing.” When I first started out, it took me a while to find my groove, so I experimented a lot with whatever I could find around. I shared a recording/practice space with some other musicians in my dorm at school, so there was never any shortage of gear around. I tried everything from solo piano ballads to straight up electronics … as I started to figure out my style, I lost some of that kitchen sink, “let’s try this weird thing” approach. I have a much better sense now of what works and what doesn’t. As much as that saves me some time, it sometimes is limiting. Working with other people, and in other styles, helped re-wire my brain so that I can use my experience, but not be limited by it. For example, when I was writing for Edine, I felt that I could write lyrics that were a bit more vulnerable, since I wasn’t singing them. I also was trying to use electric guitar as little as possible. In Tiny Fireflies, Kristine is always pushing me to try things that don’t fit into my normal musical M.O. All this helps to make sure I don’t get too settled in my ways.

M,A&M: You have a song on the new Jigsaw/Dufflecoat Records singles club, appearing on a 7” with Japan’s Wallflower. How did this project come about? What has the experience of being a part of this singles club been like for you?

Lisle: Going into 2014, I had a *lot* of songs that were sitting around that I wasn’t sure what to do with. Chris from Jigsaw originally had reached out to me about doing the singles club, and I sent him a bunch of the songs and told him, “sure, take your pick!” It was from there that the idea about releasing the album came about. He was the one that suggested I share the split with Wallflower as well. I was more than happy to do so since I really like their music. There’s a lot of great indie pop coming out of japan right now … Masami from Wallflowerr also has a band juvenile juvenile … there’s Homecomings, Twinkle Twinkles, and also Boyish, who Tiny Fireflies collaborated with for Between Two Waves on Eardrumspop.

M,A&M: In addition to the singles club, you’re newest album In Dreams was just released on Jigsaw Records. How long did it take you to write and record the album?

Lisle: In Dreams has been brewing since the release of Autumn Almanac in 2011. Since that time, I’d been working on several different styles of songs, and I had about 7-8 songs for each style. Ultimately, the real assembly of the album was an editing process of picking which songs fit together as a cohesive unit. It wasn’t until I had the track list finalized that I realized that part of what held these songs together was the recurring lyrical theme about dreams … I’d been struggling with what to call the album, and it came to me while listening to a track, “En Rêve,” a French cover of Roy Orbison’s song by Tiny Yong. It kind of hit me all at once that all these songs were about dreams, and that was the perfect title.

M,A&M: Who created the artwork/layout for the In Dreams?

mononokeThe cover artwork was done by Nicola Colton, an illustrator based in Ireland. I found out about her from the work she did on the Niko Niko single for Eardrumspop. I sent her the songs, and a dreadfully vague impression of what I wanted and she totally nailed the feel I was going for. It was inspired by Anh Hung Tran’s film adaptation of Norwegian Wood, which is also my favorite book. I wanted to try and capture the dreamy feel of he film through illustration. Nicola also picked up subconsciously on my love of Hayao Miyazaki, and included some animal-esque characters reminiscent of Princess Mononoke. Both films feature a lot of forest scenery. Forests have always felt somewhat magical and dreamlike to me, because they are kind of outside of the human realm. There’s an otherness to them.

M,A&M: Since Fireflies is your solo project, can you take us through your recording process? What kind of equipment do you use?

Lisle: Doing everything myself, it sometimes is a lengthy process. Once I have the basic structure of a song figured out in my head, I start to layer instruments and just see what works, one instrument at a time. Once the arrangement feels “done.” I go back and pick out my favorite parts, and then mute what I was originally doing and build new parts around that part I like. There’s a lot of trial and error, and often times I end up with several completely different versions of songs.

As far as equipment, I tend to use a lot of older recording gear. Ive got a cabinet full of various mics from the ’70s, and some cool vintage compressors, preamps, and such. Though I’m recording into a computer, I like to at least have some interesting flavors going into the digital world. Sometimes I get a little jealous when I hear a really well-recorded indie band, quite high-fi and such … but that’s just not me. When I listen back to old recordings from the ’60s, some of them are quite lo-fi! I can’t really imagine a song like The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright” recorded by today’s proper standards … so, I keep reminding myself of this fact that what’s more important than capturing 20-20,000 Hz, is capturing the emotion of a song.

M,A&M: Of all of the songs on your new album, which are you most proud of and why?

Lisle: “Seventy-seven” is probably my favorite. Of all the songs, I think that one comes the closest to a part of what I’m trying to achieve with Fireflies. It feels like a legitimate Song with a capital “S.” It has a melody, a proper chorus, and each instrument’s part really felt interesting on its own.

M,A&M: Where do you see Fireflies in future? Do you have any distinct goals for the project or for yourself as a musician?

Lisle: My goal has always just been to keep on writing better and better songs. Whether or not I’m really getting better or worse I suppose is up to interpretation, but I think I will always keep on writing. It’s something I just feel compelled to do. As long as people are still interested to hear what I’m doing, I’ll keep on releasing them into the world. When I started, I never expected anyone would really care about what I was doing, so the fact that I’m even doing this interview right now feels pretty special.

On the more concrete side, I wouldn’t mind getting out there and playing some shows, I suppose. I recently did my first public singing of my songs since college during an acoustic Tiny Fireflies show, and it felt like something I wouldn’t mind doing again sometime.

in_dreams
 

Thanks, Lisle! “In Dreams” is now available via Jigsaw Records. To explore some of Lisle’s previous releases, visit the Fireflies bandcamp page.

Interview conducted and compiled by Kristin Gill.

…March, April & May: Popfest Preview: Indiefjord

fjord_web

 

march_april_may_2.5x5Indiefjord: mixing indiepop with the beautiful fjords of Norway. Who had the brilliant idea to do such a marvelous thing? Silja Haddal Mork and Mattias Lidehäll, of course! Indiefjord is a weekend-long indiepop party in the village of Bjørke, Norway, occurring on July 12-14. Not only will you be able to see bands from Scandinavia and the UK, dance to your heart’s content, and experience the beauty of the fjords, but the community of Bjørke will also be involved, organizing various day-time activities for festival attendees. What more could you really ask for?

To tell us more about the process in bringing these two communities, indiepop and Bjørke, together for the weekend, Silja and Mattias happily answered a few questions for us.

1. Can you give us a history of Indiefjord (dates, organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved? Why did you choose to set up this event?
We (Silja Haddal Mork & Mattias Lidehäll) moved from London to Norway in the summer of 2013. Soon we felt that something was missing. It was the music and our friends. In order to do something about this we (in november 2013) decided to arrange a party for new and old friends and to fill it with our favourite music. Since we both were involved in the London/European indiepop scene (Silja as one of the arrangers of the club “Librarians Wanted” and member of the indiepop netlabel EardrumsPop and Mattias as a member of several Indiepop bands, including Stars in Coma and Lost Summer Kitten), we had no problems reaching out to the bands we wanted to book. The response was strong and positive! The venue we chose is in a small village at the end of a beautiful fjord. We want to give our visitors a taste of Norway at its finest!



2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to request to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
We know a lot of bands since almost all of our friends are playing. For us, it was more a matter of choosing the best ones from a bunch of amazing ones. Since it’s our party, we are very picky and only book those who we are personal fans of and people that we like to hang out with. After all, it’s a party for the people playing as well.



3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing Indiefjord?
We soon realized the importance of having the locals involved in the planning. The festival is in a very small village and it won’t go by unnoticed. It’s important that the people living there feel that it’s something they are part of and not an invasion of aliens. The people we are working together with are also great assets in many ways and help us solve problems before they even occur.



4. When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one? Or, if this is the first of such event, when will you start planning for next year?
We started organizing in November, but if we do it again we’ll probably start sooner. The earlier everything is set, the better. There’s a lot of logistics to think about and such issues are easier to handle if you solve them early on. The timeline for this year was: 1. book the venue, 2. book the bands, 3. meet the people that we’re cooperating with, 4. advertise advertise advertise.

5. 

Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
Always expect bad weather. It will rain and it will be a lot colder than you can ever expect. If you bring warm clothes that can keep you dry then everything else will be a joy! Dancing helps too, so that’s our biggest recommendation!!



6. What are some of the best and worst moments of any Popfest that you can remember?
Best: 
Mattias: ‘Allo Darlin at any festival/popfest. I’ve cried tears of joy in several parts of the world while attending their gigs.

Silja: The very start of Librarians Wanted: me and my friend Roo met David at Indietracks 2010, we were dancing to Stars in Coma and decided to start a club in London. We decided we’d try to book that band one day, and nearly a year later we did — and that’s how I met my Indiefjord-co-organiser and boyfriend Mattias, he played in that awesome band. Everything is connected to Indietracks! It was also a great highlight to DJ there in 2011 with Librarians Wanted, felt like we were coming home.


Worst:
 Mattias: Playing keyboard with Stars in Coma at Indiepop Days Berlin in 2010. The sound of the keyboard was barely audible and I had no idea what I was playing. At the last song I just gave up and went out in the audience and danced instead!

Silja: None! Popfests are 100% happiness to me. There should be more of them! Especially in Norway…

Thanks, Silja and Mattias!

fjord_poster

 

There are no traditional tickets to Indiefjord, instead you contribute a donation that will go toward the bands and the overall community. For more information on the donation process, the activities scheduled over the weekend, and how to get to Bjørke, visit the Indiefjord website.

…March, April & May: Popfest Preview: Roma Popfest

roma_web

 

march_april_may_2.5x5I’m going to let you in on something I’m not especially proud of – I had no idea Roma Popfest existed until a few months ago. Awful, right? Where have I been? The U.S., I presume – that faraway land where we are quite removed from so much.

Now that I’m aware of such a great event, we want to share it with you! The women behind Frigopop are also responsible for Roma Popfest. Their reasoning couldn’t be any better: As their website suggests, “there is a Popfest in New York and one in San Francisco, another in London, Berlin, Madrid. Why not to Rome?”

As you will read, the 2014 edition will be the fifth year for the Rome festival, occurring on 16 and 17 June at Traffic Live Club and Le Mura, respectively. This year you can expect a mixture of folk, synthesizers, dreampop, and even a band labeled as “swaying palm trees” via Google Translate. I’m on board, what about you?

1. Can you give us a history of Roma Popfest (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
The first edition of Romapopfest took place in 2010, and there have been one every year ever since, so for next June we’re preparing the fifth edition! At the beginning we were five girls organizing pop concerts and dj sets in Roma, and we just thought it was a good idea to create a popfest in the city; we started to work on that. Since the third edition, three of the girls left so now it’s just me and Priscilla De Pace, but we’re often helped by friends.

2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
There isn’t a specific rule, we just try to combine our preferences to those of our audience: we contact the bands but sometimes we might also accept applications. Unfortunately, indiepop as a genre, is not very popular in Rome, so usually we have to cross out some bands we really like but who won’t bring any people to the show. That is why we often focus on Italian pop bands; they’re really great, even though they might not be very popular outside our country. If you need some examples, go check Green Like July (they’re playing this year’s Popfest!) Brothers In Law, His Clancyness, Dumbo Gets Mad and many others … Anyway our headliners this year are The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, I think you might know them … :)


3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing Rome Popfest?
Free drinks for bands, as well as balloons on the stage, are never enough.

4. When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
We usually begin six months ahead. There’s isn’t a specific timeline, we’re quite unorganized. But we know the things that have to be done so we just try to do that in time for the shows!

5. Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
Festival totebags are always amazing and very cheap, so buy them! Let the festival atmosphere follow you during summertime.

6. What are some of the best and worst Rome Popfest moments you can remember?
I think one of the best moment I can recall is the first edition, 2010. The response we had has been amazing, people were really very happy to be there. 

The worst moments were probably those spent working hard to hand out flyers and to build stage designs with our own hands….!

Thanks, Frigopop!

roma_poster

 

The entire lineup (including biographies), ticket information, directions to the venues and more can be found at the Roma Popfest website.