It is that time again! Cheers to the incredible winter we have been having here in Bozeman. I hope February finds all of you well. Happy listening!
I was instantly captivated by the scenery and the sounds that were part of Argentina-born musician, Cielo Pordomingo’s music video for “Azule Delirio.” The desolation of the backdrop combined with the extreme colors and her haunting melody created something totally unique and new for me. The musician has been a resident of Mexico since 2003 and has been making waves musically for many years. She took the time to answer some questions about her career, her writing process and much more.
MFL: Your music videos are so visually stimulating. I’m dying to know where you filmed “Azul Delirio” and what the idea behind both the track and video were.
CP: Thank you! The “Azul Delirio” video was filmed in a volcanic crater called El Rincón del Parangueo in Guanajuato, Méx. It´s an impressive place that looks like another planet!
Well, the song talks about a woman who lives in a kind of delirium. She tries to enter in a world to which she does not belong. And that place (in the video) is like a delirium too, when you enter there it is as if it were from another planet, very surreal.
MFL: How did your life change when you moved from Argentina to Mexico in 2003? If you were already writing music at this time, how was that affected?
CP: I came to Mexico for vacation, with no plan to stay, I really liked it.
Back in that time, people that I met began to offer me several projects related to music, and I was testing, and I was staying, without realizing it.
Coming to Mexico made me stand out more the contrasts in my way of composing.
I am currently based in Querétaro, and I have found it very comfortable to create, play and travel. But I imagine living in Argentina again, at some point.
MFL: When and how did music become an integral part of your life?
CP: It was gradual, after the first album (DFret), without planning it, every time I spent more time composing, producing, studying programs, preparing the sequences to play live, rehearse with musicians, until this last album (Moirai) where I realized that music is an integral part of my life.
MFL: You mesh electronic and orchestral elements in your music. What is it about this mix that you find attractive?
CP: I find it very attractive to combine real instruments with virtual instruments, it’s like living reality and fantasy at the same time in a song. And I think we live like this all the time.
MFL: Is there a concept/story associated with your most recent album, Moirai?
CP: Yes, on this record, I changed the process or the way of composing (previously I started a song and until I had it almost finished I started with another one), now I was doing all the songs almost at the same time, it was a kind of sound collage where each one took its own path (destiny = moirai) and in the end still so different from each other they are still part of the same mural.
MFL: Do you perform internationally often? If so, where are your largest fan bases?
CP: I try to play outside the country at least once a year. I like to play in many cities, I would not know where most of my fans are, because I have a good reception in cities like Guadalajara in Mexico or in cities like Barcelona and London, and that makes me very happy.
MFL: When you are not writing/recording music, what are you doing?
CP: I enjoy the nature! I love going out to the forest or the river to drink mate! And I read and watch movies and series. I love the cinema, it always inspires me. Also, every time I can I’m always studying and practicing mixing and production.
MFL: Finally, what does 2020 hold for you as a musician?
CP: I hope to continue sharing my music! Thanks to spaces like yours and concerts touring Mexico, Argentina and the world!
On the agenda we have a tour abroad … hopefully it will be completed by mid-year.
And I want to play in every festival I can!
Every year since the beginnings of Music For Lunch I have reached out to two of my most trusted and respected musical comrades, Mark Levy and Brian Haviland. This year I not only tasked them with picking their favorite five albums of 2019 but ALSO their top three albums of the last 10 years. After weeks of our own personal internal debates, we all came up with lists we are proud of. The challenge of reaching back in time to dig for music from the last ten years that shaped us, colored our memories with soundscapes was unsettling at times but in the end, satisfying!
In no particular order of preference, I reveal representative tracks from the top 5 albums and the lists themselves according to Mark Levy, myself and Brian Haviland. Followed by a playlist with representative tracks from our decade picks, a list and light discussion added by the musical curators themselves, all in the same order as above. Happy 2020 <3. May it bring you all love, joy and incredible music.
The Best of 2019
- Good at Falling by The Japanese House
- Sunshine Rock by Bob Mould
- Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves by The Ocean Blue
- Modern Mirror by Drab Majest
- Old Star by Darkthrone
- Assume For by James Blake
- Drastic Measures by Bayonne
- All Mirrors by Angel Olsen
- This is How You Smile by Helado Negro
- Triage by Methyl Ethyl
- All Mirrors by Angel Olsen
- Ghosteen by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
- Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend
- On the Line by Jenny Lewis
- Not by Big Thief
The Decade’s Best
- Mogwai’s Harcore Will Never Die But You Will came out early 2011. I was working at Big Sky that winter. My commute through the canyon was always around 7:30 am. This record will forever be the soundtrack to the following scene. The sun hitting fresh fallen snow while steam rises from the river. An Ansel Adams photograph comes to life.
- Rush is the worlds biggest cult band and I have been a member for forty years. I could write a book about my life and connections to their music. That said, they have always pushed themselves to create the best art as possible while remaining true to their form. Clockwork Angels (2012) is no exception. As per the recent, devastating loss of drummer and lyricist Neil Peart, it shall be the last. I think this album is fantastic start to finish. The band will end on a high note.
- Growing up in New York, I’ve always enjoyed hardcore as a genre. I love bands from back in the day. Cro-Mags, Sick Of It All and Gorilla Biscuits to name a few. Turnstile is a band in the scene currently making great music. You can hear nods to the old school while keeping it fresh and interesting. Time & Space (2018) is hard and full of hooks. Can’t wait for more.
- In Colour by Jamie xx somehow worked its way into my ears the year of its release in 2015. I believe it was the track “Loud Places” that first caught my attention. My best friend has this magical ability to sense what music I adore and she gifted me the record on vinyl for my 27th birthday. I think I partially blew out the speaker on my record player. I can’t remember a time since receiving that gift that I have been able to not listened to it from start to finish once I push ‘play’ on the top track, “Gosh.”
- I heard something very strange but extremely enticing in early 2012. It was “Fitzpleasure” by Alt-J. I became obsessed with how bizarre the sounds, lyrics, vocals, instruments…everything, was. The obsession grew with the release of their debut full length An Awesome Wave in 2012. I listened to it over and over again, dug into the lyrics to discover more than just complete oddities but an attractively eccentric logic I appreciated. Come spring 2013 and another music-loving friend and I drove ourselves to Seattle to see them perform, the album on repeat for all 7 hours.
- I cannot begin to describe what sort of feelings Future Islands conjure up within myself. This band has been a staple in my musical existence, a mainstay in my life the last 10 years. I find myself going back to their music always when I lose track of myself, when I become a version of myself that isn’t honest. It was challenging to pick one album of theirs as all but their debut were released in the last 10 years. I chose On the Water (2011) as it holds the highest density of my favorite tracks.
- Brothers by The Black Keys (2010) –Without a doubt my Most listened to Album of the 2010s. Is that a fair comparison to make? After all, I had a full 10 years to listen to it as opposed to less than a year for an album released in 2019. Really, I just don’t listen to full albums like I used to. This might have been the last physical CD I purchased. Oh, and it’s damn good. Every song.
- Wild Onion by Twin Peaks (2015) – Five years ago I became worried I’d slip into a Classic Rock loop of contentedness, listening to the same music over and over. It’s an easy thing to do and hey, the music is good. So when I came across this gem I felt a renewed drive to keep digging up new music like I used to. Best Rock Album of the Decade and somehow still flying under the radar.
- Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest (2016) – I might dodge the question if you ask me what kind of music I listen to (Me: “Oh, I listen to everything” Humorless observer: “Everything? You listen to every single song ever released?” Me: “Yes”), but I prefer Indie Rock. I’m sure I’m not the first to make comparisons to one of the all time indie greats Pavement.
The psychedelic rockers, Dream Phases, released their debut album at the end of 2019 titled, So Long, Yesterday. The record is a sonic exploration of gathered experiences growing up in LA and travelling along the West Coast and how those experiences have put them where they are now. The group is fronted by Brandon Graham who kindly took the time to answer my questions.
MFL: Who all is in Dream Phases and what is your coming together story in as many or as few words as you’d like to use?
DP: Dream Phases has a few different lineups. Typically in the studio, the band comprises myself (Brandon Graham), Shane Graham, and Keveen Baudouin, along with a few guest musicians. The live band is augmented by Anthony Marks, who also played on a good portion of the new album, and a few other revolving musicians depending on what we are doing. The band came together as my solo songwriting project and evolved into a band situation. I knew that I wanted Shane and Keveen to play with me once the initial set of songs were written and demoed. Shane is my brother and we both have played with Keveen for years in previous bands we were in.
MFL: How do you approach songwriting? Is there one primary songwriter or is it a team effort, perhaps divided effort?
DP: So far I have been the primary songwriter, but our goal is to collaborate more with the writing on the next album. Until now, the process is typically me writing and recording essentially a fully arranged demo, which is then shared with the band and the song is developed from there in our practice space or in the studio. Then we record the final band version of the song. Shane often sends me drums tracks for the demos as well.
MFL: I read that you played SXSW a couple of years ago. I’d love to hear know about your experience there.
DP: SXSW was fun, and usually is. I’ve played there about 5-6 of the last 8 years.I’m not quite sure it’s still as relevant or as important as it once was, but you always meet new people, see great bands and overall have a good time partying. At this point, I’d really only go back if there was an important reason or really good showcase.
MFL: How does one choose a recording label (if you are still with Lolipop) and know that it is a good fit?
DP: We are not with Lolipop anymore, they just put out our first EP.We are currently working with Nomad Eel Records and Lunar Ruins. For labels it’s important that they believe in what you’re doing, are offering a good deal, not taking your publishing or writing credits, and that they have a good track record of promotion and releases. It’s kind of a toss-up nowadays as to whether it’s worth it to work with labels, however it can be very useful to lighten the load financially of a new release.
MFL: As a band, do you collectively have sources of musical inspiration? If so, discuss a few of them.
DP: The overall influences and inspiration of the band members are pretty wide, and that was part of the reason I spent time developing the sound on my own initially so that it would be focused. There are pros and cons to having a wide range of influences. On the one hand, you can draw from a lot and have interesting results that might sound fresh and new, but on the other hand, without too much curation the end sound can be lost and unfocused. We all agree on a lot of 60’s psychedelia, and more noisy rock stuff. I might kind of force the softer folk-rock and country-ish sounding stuff on the guys!
MFL: Describe the experience you create for the audience when playing live. Does this experience change when you’re on tour depending on crowd size/location?
DP: We try to create an immersive experience, regardless of whether or not we are touring or the location. We often work with different lighting artists to help that immersion, as well as try to play shows with friends or bands that work together. A lot of our songs flow into each other live, so we might play 3-4 songs directly into each other, with transitions. We like to keep the energy and flow going through the set and to have dynamics throughout the set, to keep it interesting and to not just have a full-on sonic assault the whole time. There is a bit of improvisation every night and setlists can change spontaneously, which makes it exciting for us. On tour, we do like to filter songs in and out and change it up at least a little bit every night.
MFL: What has life been like since the release of So Long, Yesterday and what’s next in terms of touring etc?
DP: Well, it’s only been two months, so not a whole lot has changed. We did the five-week European tour to promote the album and we played a few LA shows. It’s nice to have the album out there. We might do a bit of US touring in Spring, we are working that out now. I’m taking a short break from touring right now, as I just completed my seventh tour of the year, with Dream Phases and some other bands I play in as a side musician. It’s nice to be home.
MFL: Finally, favorite tour bus/van story…GO!
DP: No way I can pinpoint or even accurately remember them all, and I actively try to sleep as much as I can while in the van since it’s the most boring part of touring, which I call time traveling. On our last tour, we all got obsessed with a podcast called ‘Rock N Roll Archeology’, which is made by a rad guy from San Francisco. It’s a great podcast tying in music with the cultural and technology of the time. We geeked out on that pretty hard, that was definitely my favorite part about being in the van.
It is time to release the epic amount of music bursting from my inbox. Enjoy!
About a year and a half ago two friends from Amsterdam who called themselves Broj, reached out to me with this track:
Somehow it didn’t reach my ears until February of this year and I’m so thankful they persisted as it would have been sad for me to go on any longer without knowing their music existed! Casper Jansen & Benjamin Brommer ‘s friendship is deeply rooted by their passion for writing music. Inspired by the underground electronic scene in Amsterdam the two are churning out rich and eclectic electronic melodies and diving into some fantastic collaborations like their most recent one with The Woods (I featured his track “Armchair Expert” May of 2018). The latest single, “Northbound”, features lyrics and vocals by The Woods:
These two pressed “pause” on writing music to answer my questions. I am very grateful. Check out their answers below:
MFL: You describe your recently released single, ‘Northbound’ as “emotive and euphoric.” It is absolutely that! How do you use electronic music to capture this mood and what is ‘Northbound’ about?
Broj: Ah thanks! ‘Northbound’ for us is about a certain feeling of getting lost in something, in a good way. This can be everything, from being in love, to listening to your favorite band, to the sense of freedom you get from traveling around the globe. The Woods (the performing singer) wrote the lyrics, and he described it like this: ‘It’s about that spark when you meet someone from a different world who turns your life upside down. Moving mountains to see them again; that electric anticipation.’ And that’s the feeling we tried to capture in the track. For us it’s always a challenge to make our music sound as organic as possible, even though its foundation is always electronic. To make it sound like there is a live band playing the song is what makes it sound more alive and euphoric. The emotion comes through in the melodies and detailed soundscapes which play a big part in all of our songs.
MFL: How did you get to collaborate with The Woods on ‘Northbound’ and who wrote the lyrics?
Broj: When we first heard his song ‘Armchair Expert’, we knew straight away that there was something interesting about his music and his voice! The way he layered up pieces of his vocal reminded us of the way we use different layers in our own tracks to create a moody atmosphere. His style is a bit different than ours though, but we considered that to be an advantage rather than a setback when creating music together. When we reached out to him, he was excited about our music too, and that’s when we started to exchange ideas. We were working on some instrumental demos at the time, and one of them (already titled ‘Northbound’) became the one he wrote lyrics on. Writing lyrics is not our strongest point, partially because English isn’t our native language. And besides, for us it was far more interesting to hear which emotion comes through when someone else is listening to our instrumental.
MFL: When you send me music, you always begin your emails with “We are two close friends from Amsterdam…” Describe the origin of your friendship and how/when it developed into Broj.
Broj: Somehow it feels right to emphasize this. As our ambition was born out of passion for music and a close friendship. We feel that stating this in emails and promotion helps to create the image that what we do comes from deep within. And on top of this, it makes it more personal for the receiver, keeping in mind that some bloggers and playlist owners receive maybe hundreds of similar emails every day.
About our friendship; we’ve been friends for about ten years now, since we met in high school. We were always talking music in lunch breaks, and you could say that this escalated a bit into what it is now. In real life we make jokes all the time, but when it comes to music it’s serious business, on most days. It really is an important way for us to express ourselves creatively and emotionally.
MFL: Are you still based out of Amsterdam? If so, where do you fit in in the music scene there and how does it influence Broj?
Broj: Amsterdam has been our home town for almost six years, and we don’t have any plans on leaving the city anytime soon. We just love its atmosphere and appeal. The city has a long history with electronic music, with a busy underground scene and Amsterdam Dance Event being the most prominent examples of that. What is interesting for us, is the rise of electronic live acts these past years. This is probably where we fit in the most, because this is where the electronic and organic meet. We would say that the live influences and combination of different worlds is something that the city and our music have most in common. We get our inspiration from music scenes all over the world though.
MFL: Does the word ‘broj’ have a meaning? How did you settle on this name and how does it encapsulate your project?
Broj: The name actually comes from something that the guys on the American TV show ‘Workaholics’ used to say. They would name someone a true ‘braj’ if he was a true ‘bro’. But since this was never written down or spelled out, we made our own adaption phonetically. Since we really enjoyed this show and the meaning behind the word, we settled on this pretty quick. Later we also noticed that the name had something mysterious and somewhat of an international appeal, which we liked. Friends around us sure do have difficulties pronouncing it correctly though, haha!
MFL: As I dig into your music from the last couple years, I notice the titles of all your EPs, singles and tracks are so simple, just one word. Is there a reason behind this simplicity? The songs are not simple, your attention to detail in soundscape is incredible.
Broj: Thanks! And funny that you’ve noticed this, it is actually intentional. We feel that the shorter the title, the more powerful it is. Of course we try to choose the right words that cover the emotion and vibe of the track for us personally, but we want to leave something up to the imagination. In the end it’s the listener that makes his or her own associations.
MFL: Have you noticed a musical evolution since the release of your first EP, Origins, in 2017?
Broj: Definitely! Every song we make is a reflection of a certain time period with its ups and downs. Also production wise, with software, samples and influences, it reflects that specific time. Musically we feel like we’ve evolved a lot since that EP. Although we are still very proud of those set of songs, we’ve gotten better in production, soundscapes and songwriting, simple because of years of practicing and experimenting.
MFL: As electronic musicians who write somewhat exclusively music without lyrics, how do you approach conveying messages/stories without lyrics?
Broj: That’s a good question! We always start new songs by jamming and experimenting, and once we feel that there’s something special there, we collect as many unique elements as possible which we then use to make the song. An important part of this process is the use of multiple layers and dynamics, that we use to include the listener into the story we’re trying to tell. Choosing a good title and designing an artwork that triggers the imagination helps conveying this message.
MFL: What do you have planned for the future? Anymore epic collaborations we can look forward to?
Broj: As a matter of fact, we do! We are working on a new collaboration with a female singer as we speak, so that sure is something that we’re excited about. We’ve also been playing with the idea of working on a new EP which we would like to release next spring if things are going according to plan. In the meantime we’ll keep on trying to reach more platforms and listeners, and hopefully we get to bring our songs to life on stage in Amsterdam soon!
MFL: How did you come to work with producer Mikko Pennanen on “Like You Do” and what did he bring to the creation of the track?