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Interview: sea dog

I love nothing more than hearing a musician’s story, their reason for music and the drive to make it. It doesn’t have to be some long-winded, tragic or heroic story of the underdog. It can be as simple as a love for computers, a love for music and a childhood nickname. Louis Dimuro grew up with his folks lovingly calling him “Lou Dog.” This together with his upbringing in California and a true understanding of the relaxation and peace that comes with staring at a large body of water on a sandy beach, gave birth to sea dog. Lou’s debut EP, Television Dreams, features clips of TV shows he used to enjoy as a kid, highlighting the nostalgic nature of the EP. Below, we discuss this and much more!

 

 

MFL: What inspired you to create ambient music with no lyrics?

I was never much of a singer, but I knew I wanted to create an EP in which I had complete creative control. The way I got around the problem was making all the synths and guitars the main instruments of the EP, while occasionally adding in some ambient lyrics in the background. I think it worked out because I now have been able to create my own style without having to use my voice too much.

MFL: When did music become part of your life and when did you decide to start sharing it with the rest of us?

I started playing the guitar when I was in 2nd grade, but I didn’t get serious about it until I joined a band in high school. When I went to college, it was a lot easier to just practice in my room by myself instead of lugging around all my equipment, which is why I began making solo projects. Having complete creative control over my music was very satisfying, and it was then that I decided to make a short EP by myself.

MFL: What equipment you use to make your music? Do you feel limited by the equipment you have or empowered?

My lack of equipment is what inspired me to adopt a lo-fi sound for my music. I ended up recording my guitar through the iPad Garageband app and my voice through the mic on my headphones. All other synths and drums were made using Garageband on my computer. Luckily I was chasing a very fuzzy, lo-fi sound, so even though I didn’t have the best software, I still got the result I wanted.

MFL: Where are the audio clips of people’s voices from and what makes these clips important to your music?

Most of the samples that I used came from TV shows that I used to watch as a kid, some of which include the old Land of the Lost TV show and Adventure Time. These samples are sentimental to me, and since the overall theme of my EP revolves around childhood nostalgia, I thought they would be a nice addition.

MFL: What does your music do for you and what do you hope it does for your listeners?
Making music is something that I love to do throughout the day whenever I need to clear my mind. I’m constantly trying to make up tunes in my head to spark some inspiration for song. Sometimes I’ll think of one in the shower and have to get out and dry off really fast so I can record it on my computer before I forget it. Sometimes I’ll be lying awake at 3 AM and I have to get up and record because I thought of a good idea.

MFL: What does your life look like outside of music?

I’m currently a Computer Science major attending Arizona State University and when I’m not playing music, I’m usually hanging out with my friends or working on some sort of coding project.

MLF: Where did the name ‘Sea Dog’ come from and what does it say about your music?

Growing up, my parents gave me the nickname “Lou Dog” and it eventually stuck within my entire extended family. I’ve always thought it was a pretty cool nickname, so I knew I wanted to use it somehow in my name. I was born in California and I wanted my music to sound laid-back and relaxing, which is why I added “Sea” to the name, because what’s more relaxing than sitting on the beach watching the ocean?

MFL: Finally, are you working on anything new in the coming year?

I may be adding 2 new members to Sea Dog so that we will be able to perform live, so there will probably be some new material coming out in the next couple of months.

 

You can follow sea dog on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Stay tuned for more from Lou ❤

New music from Amen Dunes: “Miki Dora”

We haven’t heard a peep from Damon McMahon (the man behind Amen Dunes) since the release of his most recent record, Love, in 2014. The album holds one of my favorite tracks, “Lonely Richard”, perhaps top 10 favorites of my life time thus far. Before I go on, check it out:

 

 

Back in 2015, I gave Damon a call and we talked everything music. You can check the interview out here.

 

Fast forward to 2018. Amen Dunes is back with a new live band and a new record, titled, Freedom, that is due out March 30th on Sacred Bones. The band and other collaborators on the record include Parker Kindred (Antony & The Johnsons, Jeff Buckley), Chris Coady (Beach House), Delicate Steve, and Gus Seyffert (Beck, Bedouine). The first single released from the record is titled, “Miki Dora” and the music video features Damon himself and 17 year old Boomer Feith. The track is mesmerizing and simple, laced with Damon’s unique and deliberate voice. The track is named after a well known surfer of the 1950’s and 60’s. Damon had this to say about the track:

Miki Dora was arguably the most gifted and innovative surfer of his generation and the foremost opponent of surfing’s commercialization.  He was also a lifelong criminal and retrograde: a true embodiment of the distorted male psyche. He was a living contradiction; both a symbol of free-living and inspiration, and of the false heroics American culture has always celebrated.  With lyrics of regret and redemption at the end of one’s youth, the song is about Dora, and McMahon, but ultimately it is a reflection on all manifestations of mythical heroic maleness and its illusions.” – Damon McMahon via Pitch Perfect. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A taste of a Bozeman gem reinvented: Minnesota band, Hippo Campus opens up The Rialto Theater

Following the extensive tour of the newly adorned and renovated Rialto Theater in Bozeman, MT, my excitement for the evening’s show could not have been any more real. Not only is The Rialto a space for bringing music, theater and dance to an audience, it is a space for fine cocktails, delicious food, incredible art and so on! The excitement about what The Rialto has to offer to Bozeman was tangible at the media tour the afternoon of the debut show. They took us into each space of the multi-level theater: the cocktail lounge upstairs (The Burnbox), the gallery space across the way lit with a giant skylight (The Lightbox) and the theater space below which includes a mezzanine and floor level, each with their own bar.  Keep in mind that though I have given each of these spaces a standard name/purpose, they can each be individualized for your use whether it is a dinner party, reception, art show or DJ dance party. If you can dream up a use for the space, they can provide.

 

 

From left to right (bar in The Burnbox, gallery spaced called The Lightbox, standing area for guests, view from the mezzanine and a sample of the light show, view from The Burnbox).

With a taste of all that the space had to offer, I was itching to see a band on the stage and hear more than the recording of Hippo Campus’ single, “Way it Goes”, that they played during the tour to let us sample the state-of-the-art sound system. The sound at The Rialto is more than just a “sound system.” It took an entire team of architects, sound engineers and others to create the most ideal space for sound to be captured and shared with each individual in every corner of the theater.

 

 

And finally the night I was waiting for arrived. Eager young Hippo Campus fans lined up in the freezing cold, without jackets (crazy high schoolers!), waiting for the doors to open at 7pm. In the line among the younger folks was a smattering of under 18 year olds and some representatives of each decade from 20-60 years old. It was a true ‘all ages’ show and it was a blast. The majority of the concert-goers (from my view point) were between the ages of 16 and 19, and they knew every word to every Hippo Campus song. Although all of us in the crowd could not sing along, every BODY was dancing, every FACE was smiling and everyone was having a good time. Furthermore, the lighting was above and beyond, giving everyone there the ultimate concert experience.  I had been “studying” (defined as listening to as much of a musicians music as I can before a show so I know and recognize as many songs as possible) Hippo Campus a bit preceding the show but was not prepared to have my mind blown by the lead singer’s velvet voice and incredible range, the band’s tight vocal harmonies, the exuberant trumpet player and their overall energy as a band. They sound great recorded but phenomenal live. And, they were clearly having a blast, too.

 

 

 

 

I haven’t been to a show of this caliber since Alt J back in 2012 at The Neptune in Seattle, or Strand of Oaks at The Bartlett in Spokane in 2017 and now more recently, shows in Missoula at The Top Hat and The Wilma. The Rialto is giving those venues a run for their money and a fabulous reason for bands of all kinds to stop and play in Bozeman. Now we have a cultural hub for everyone in Bozeman to enjoy. My ears and my heart could not be any happier and I know I’m not alone.

To learn more about The Rialto  and guarantee you won’t miss any of your favorite acts or events, you can follow them on all the usual social media platforms. You can find all the social media links for Hippo Campus on their official website.

Best Tracks of 2017 According to MFL and Friends

It’s that time where I go to two of my favorite music aficionados, Mark Levy and Brian Haviland for the tunes they can’t live without. If you’ve been following MFL for the last few years, you’ll recognize these names. We each picked 6 or 7 songs that we couldn’t stop listening to in 2017 but I’m not going to tell you who picked what. It’s more fun that way. ENJOY!

 

New single from creative duo, LACEI

LACEI has been a long time favorite of MFL, and with a new year, they’ve brought us some new music. Their newest single, “Wanderer”, is a track about finding your purpose in the world through the chaos that is constantly unfolding, every day, every minute. In the words of LACEI:

“Wanderer is about breaking through the confines of society and following your dreams, making your own truth. There are so many crazy things going on in the world right now, if we can find light in the darkness we can begin to wander on this earth with a purpose. Each and every person has one. What is yours?”

 

 

 

Follow LACEI on Spotify, Soundcloud and Facebook.

Interview: Lilah of Wellington, New Zealand

Back in March, this little gem appeared in my inbox:

 

 

Months later, Louis Reeve of Lilah and I finally pulled it together and completed the interview we’d been meaning to accomplish. Despite the 7,540 miles and 20 hour time difference between Bozeman, MT and Wellington, New Zealand, we got to the bottom of what Lilah is about. This three-piece has a sound that is both unexpected and ingenious. I hear a mash-up of dream, indie and garage rock, rolled into a neat little package. As I mention in the first question, there isn’t much out there about these guys so this interview is a very special peek into the beating heart of Lilah.

 

MFL: I did a light dig through the internet and couldn’t find much about you guys! Who makes up Lilah and how did you come together?

The band is a collaboration between Jo Cain, Christian Williams and myself.

Jo and I had been playing together on and off since going to high school together.

We eventually formed the band through long jams/experiments at his old Warehouse space in the suburb of Miramar in Wellington. Christian became involved when we decided that we needed a mother fucker on the drums to complete the picture.

We have consciously avoided a proper web presence!

 

MFL: Since we’re approaching the holiday, can you explain why your second album is called Christmas?

There is no real reason for the album title Christmas. For some reason it seemed to suit the set – I always thought that the material sounded quite upbeat. Although this is counter-balanced with lyrical themes of existential concern. The title is also just an immature joke.

MFL: If you were to brag about yourselves and say you lovingly sounded like some of your favorite bands, what bands would they be?

We half-jokingly referred to the band as Surf – Drone music however our musical tastes between us are far-reaching. Some of our shared inspirations that feed into the band are Spacemen 3, The Chills, David Bowie and I particularly love guitarist Dick Dale.  

 

MFL: I love the long intros to all of your tracks. At first listen, I thought it might be an instrumental record but then the vocals kick in. Do these long intros say anything about how you all like to write music or maybe what you think makes an excellent song? That said, I do love the instrumental tracks on the album.

 I like to use long introductions to “set the scene”. To build a sense of engagement and mystery without jumping straight in (to vocal sections).

I also wasn’t so confident singing and would rather just play guitar. Although on this set I was also aiming for a punk approach to singing.

The instrumentals are more conceptual soundtrack work – something I would like to try at some point.

MFL: Who are you listening to these days? If you feel up to it, give me your top 3 albums of 2017.

I have been listening to George Harrison’s solo albums and Roy Orbison – also earlier Dub music from Jamaica’s Trojan Records. One of my favourites this year has been Laura Marling’s Semper Femina and I am just getting in to Protomartyr’s Relatives in Descent. Kody Nielson just re-released his e.p. DEVILS which I recommend.

I am thinking back on sweet shows I saw this year. PJ Harvey, Pixies, AURA, Unsanitary Napkin, Wizz Kids, So Laid Back Country China, Draghound, Pam, Ayn Randy, Finn Johansson, Salad Boys.

I finally saw The Chills live which was great. Although I did get kicked out of the show for a short period after the bouncer accused me of smoking a joint in the bathroom. Shamed out to say the least. Heavenly Bong Hit!

MFL: How has Lilah changed since the release of your debut self-titled album and what are the biggest differences between it and Christmas?

The first album is grounded in sample based material and conceptual soundtrack work – but in the form of songs. We had a perfectionist approach, working with our friend and producer Thomas Lambert – it was more of a production than a live set recorded. For the second album we were more interested in a “band” sound – live drums and rough n’ ready takes of songs we had been playing as a three-piece. This was the focus over perfectionism and Jo recorded us on to cassette tape. Capturing the energy of the band was more important than any shortcomings in the sound.

The differences in album approach/method/intention parallels how the band itself grew – incorporating a drummer and focusing more on “songs” as a live band.

 

MFL: We’ll quickly be coming up on 2 years since your latest release. Anything new coming down the pipe?

We haven’t worked together for a while due to the tyranny of distance. Jo is living in New York and Christian I believe is living in Ireland. I am not so hot on the idea of collaborating through our computers but I am open to ideas.

I have been working on a project called By A Damn Sight and playing bass in Doledrums.

Both projects are about to release recordings.

Jo is playing bass in a local N.Y. band and I think is getting his own e.p. together.

 

Big thanks to Louis and the guys for taking the time to do this with MFL ❤

Follow Lilah and get all their latest tracks on their Bandcamp page.

NEW PLAYLIST: Winter Vol I

My inbox has been bursting at the seams with tunes that have been dying to reach your ears. Get cozy, because this is a long one! If you prefer a more visual experience, feast your eyes on some select music videos.

Something I wanted to note about the following playlists is that there is a music video in there for a song called “Anxiety (In the Depths of Northwestern Ontario)” by a band called 1971. In February of this year, they lost the founding member, bassist, brother and friend, Cameron Glen Cranston. They will no longer be a band but have decided to release the last recordings they did with him.

Happy holidays to all you music-loving folks. I hope you all enjoy this time of year doing whatever it is you do.