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Study up on the XPNFest lineup with these ten World Cafe interviews

Clockwise, from left: Strand of Oaks | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN // Angel Olsen | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN // Hurray for the Riff Raff | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN // Foxygen | photo courtesy of the artist

NPR’s World Cafe and XPN Fest are two peas in a pod. They’re great pals, they are. They even share some mutual best buds, who all coincidentally happen to be wildly amazing artists. These musical friends stopped by to hang at World Cafe with hosts Talia Schlager, David Dye and Ann Powers over the past year, and are now gearing up to pay XPN Fest a visit. Brush up on your XPoNential Fest artist knowledge and get psyched for next weekend by checking out a list of XPN Fest artist World Cafe sessions below. Continue reading →

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Listen: King Britt talks new Fhloston Paradigm album, After…

King Britt | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philly grown, internationally known Producer, DJ and composer King Britt has been pushing the broad and malleable boundaries of Electronic music for the better part of the past two decades. Working under a variety of genre pseudonyms, Britt’s catalog serves as an illustrative study of dance music’s hallowed past, with several experiments that point to potential futures. Firefly’s heady take on Classic House music, the pristine Future Soul remixes released under the Scuba moniker. Keeping with this practice of exploring specific sounds/genres under different names, Britt premiered his Fhloston Paradigm project in 2011. Under the Fhloston Paradigm moniker, Britt infuses experimental production techniques electronics with Afrofuturist ideals. Deviating from the soulful, dancefloor-ready of his earlier work and diving into strange, evocative soundscapes. The Fhloston… project reached a high point of detail and refinement with 2014’s The Phoenix full length, released on the Hyperdub label. For his latest FP album, After…, Britt has fused the highly abstract style of minimalist composers such as Phillip Glass and Steve Reich with his own experiments in sound design

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Vita And The Woolf talks Firefly Festival, Barcelona, and inspirations for the new TUNNELS

Vita and the Woolf | photo by Ebru Yildiz
Vita and the Woolf | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Philly’s Jen Pague and the rest of her band that makes up Vita And The Woolf has been pretty busy recently. For the past two years, they’ve been working on the followup to Fang Song, Vita’s first EP, recorded by Pague as a demo while she was studying at Temple University. Since then, the band has evolved from an 8 member band to a 3 piece that incorporates drummer Adam Shumski and guitarist Dane Galloway.

Since beginning their journey to TUNNELS — their debut LP out today, read our review here — the band has built a following not only in Philadelphia but also around the world. In the past 6 months, they’ve toured opening for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah across the United States and filmed a music video in Spain. Tomorrow, they play the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, a major stepping stone for a band who has worked a lot for their accomplishments.

TUNNELS shows Pague and the rest of Vita And The Woolf at their finest. It’s an outstanding collection of not only modern synth-pop but also conducive songwriting. Pague channels her influences like a magician; sweet melodies blend with dark textures that bring not only a feeling of melancholy but also overwhelming joy.

I recently spoke with Pague over the phone about TUNNELS, read our conversation and watch the album teaser below. Continue reading →

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Listen to The Blair Brothers talk film scoring and Philly collaboration on XPN Local

The Blair Brothers | photo courtesy of the artist
The Blair Brothers | photo courtesy of the artist

Before they co-founded the aughties Philly rock outfit East Hundred, brothers Will Blair and Brooke Blair had a background in film and music video. After the band parted ways in 2011, they turned their sights back to that world, and it’s since become their full-time gig.

Out of a small studio on Frankford Avenue in Fishtown, The Blair Brothers have crafted the tense sonic textures and evocative musical backdrops to a number of indie films of the suspense-driven variety; their big break came with Jeremy Saulnier’s acclaimed 2014 film Blue Ruin, and they’ve since teamed up with the director again on last year’s Green Room, and worked with their brother Macon on I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore.

Tomorrow, their latest soundtrack hits iTunes; it’s for Evan Katz’s Netflix thriller Small Crimes, and it draws on a variety of styles, from traditional salsa to mysterious jazz and haunting ambient textures. The Blair Brothers appeared on the WXPN Local Show this Tuesday evening to discuss their return to film, reflect on scores that inspired them and to share songs from the soundtrack. Continue reading →

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Sound As Medicine: Maitland reflects on its long-awaited debut Glimpse

Maitland | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

This Friday, Philly indie-folk Maitland will release their debut album, Glimpse. It’s been a long time coming for a band that has gone through several different incarnations over the past couple of years. Combining elements of folk rock with meditative, textural layers of harmony and instrumentation, they recently released the album’s first single, “Sycamore,” and today they are sharing another song from Glimpse, “When Fists Turn To Flowers.” Continue reading →

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The High Key Portrait Series: Matt Cappy

Matt Cappy | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN
Matt Cappy | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Philly brass-man Matt Cappy will be dropping his debut album Church And State from Ropeadope Records on June 16th. It’ll be available everywhere digitally, but you can grab an advance hard copy at his CD release party at 2300 Arena in South Philly on June 8th.

Cappy cut his teeth at Philly’s jazz clubs, but has since blown a trumpet on everything from R&B, neo-soul, indie rock and ska, hip-hop and jazz records. He’ll kick off a tour next month supporting compatriot neo-soul singer Jill Scott, and representing Philly as far west as LA’s Hollywood Bowl. Continue reading →

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Taking shape with Perfume Genius’ Mike Hadreas

Perfume Genius
Perfume Genius | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

As Perfume Genius, Mike Hadreas creates worlds and narratives on his albums that are as decadent as they are delicate. These worlds often serve as a sonic sanctuary for queer music fans that now, more than ever, are as life-saving as they are life-affirming.

No Shape, released earlier this month, is his best and biggest salve for the agony and ecstasy of the queer experience yet. If no family was safe when he sashayed on 2014’s Too Bright, he’s built himself, and us, a hell of a lot more walking room this time, lyrically as well as musically. Before he sashays onto the stage at Union Transfer this Thursday (a show that will be livestreamed via Pitchfork), Mike took a generous time out to talk about the album, the circular energy that can build at a show (including one particularly memorable night in Philly), and the importance of queerness in music and art in the current dark times. Continue reading →

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Cayetana take control with New Kind of Normal and Plum Records

Cayetana | photo by Jess Flynn | courtesy of the artist
Cayetana | photo by Jess Flynn | courtesy of the artist

The concept of Plum Records came in a dream. Well, the name of it did at least. The idea of putting out music themselves was something Cayetana had toyed with for a while. And it wasn’t a decision they made without lots of consideration.

“I think the decision mostly was born out of the idea that we wanted as much control over the timing of the record and how it was rolled out,” drummer Kelly Olsen says. “Because, you know, we have a lot of friends in bands who have done a lot of different things and worked with a lot of different labels. Through talking with people, we kind of realized that to have as much control over how the whole thing happens and how it rolls out, to have control over our own product and music and creativity, we decided that doing it ourselves made the most sense. And it’s been working out really well. We’ve been enjoying it.”

And from that, Plum Records was official, and would be the imprint for Cayetana’s new album, New Kind of Normal. It’s a fitting name for the circumstances around putting this album out. Learning how to run a record label is pretty tough, to put it lightly. There were a lot of things that they weren’t aware of or didn’t know how to do, but they learned by doing, and now are starting to feel comfortable with it. Continue reading →

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How Get Better Fest is delivering on the promise of hardcore and punk

Get Better Fest 3 | photo by Jeff Hersch | courtesy of Get Better Records
Get Better Fest 3 | photo by Jeff Hersch | courtesy of the artist

Alex Licktenhour wears their identity on their sleeve. Literally. The 27-year-old head of Get Better Records and the driving force behind the festival of the same name recently got the label’s logo, a sunflower bursting out of an upside down pink triangle, tattooed on the back of their arm. That logo, Lickenhour said, is a representation of, “Queerness [and] being non-binary.” Considering the history of the pink triangle being used to mark LGBTQ+ people in Nazi Germany, it also makes an obvious political statement.

This mixture of the personal and the political is reflected in their approach to running the label – going since 2010 – and booking the festival, which is happening for the fourth time at the end of this month. “I feel like through the label [and festival] I broadcast my politics,” Licktenhour explained. “Who is on the label, what I’m talking about. My politics are very open in terms of what I support and what I don’t support.”

Right now that includes a slew of releases from queer grindcore collective +HIRS+ (for whom Licktenhour is an occasional live drummer), rock n’ rollers Thin Lips, the post-G.L.O.S.S. band Tankini, and the final album from folk punk stalwarts Ramshackle Glory. Just as exciting is the recent announcement that the label would be putting out an album by Dark Thoughts, as well as the cassette release of Cayetana’s forthcoming New Kind of Normal.

What’s the unifying thread running through all these bands, outside of the fact that most are from Philadelphia? The label’s no-nonsense slogan addresses that: “DIY label. For the queers. No sexist, no racist, no transphobic, no homophobic, no apologist bullshit tolerated.”

The festival is a natural extension of that, especially since it serves as a fundraiser for progressive and radical non-profits. This year Get Better Fest – April 28th through the 30th – will be benefitting the Trans Assistance Project, Youth Emergency Services, and Women Against Abuse. Shows will be held at Glitter Galaxy, the First Unitarian Church and PhilaMOCA.

 

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