Interview: Designing sound walks with The Mural and the Mint’s Michael Kiley

The longer Michael Kiley is involved in the Phildelphia music scene, the more he becomes involved in the Philly arts scene. After playing in the more straight-ahead indie rock band Cordaline in the earlier part of the aughts, he founded The Mural and The Mint in 2007 as a way to make poppy music outside of industry convention. All of the band’s albums are available as free downloads (and CDs-for-donation when it performs), and with each release, it stretches both its sonic palette as well as its ambition for how the songs can exist outside of recordings. 2010’s As The Eyes of the Seahorse was performed with a companion dance / performance production (pictured), and The Mural and the Mint’s current project – The Rittenhouse Square Sound Walk – will debut in the spring. Using GPS-powered mobile phone apps, users will be able to hear different sounds as they wander through different corners of the center city park, which will ultimately layer and bloom into a full song. The Kickstarter for the Sound Walk just met its initial goal of $2,200, with five days still remaining in the fundraising campaign – and the extra time is good, since Rittenhouse is just phase one of the project. Kiley and I caught up over the phone yesterday to talk about creating soundtracks to people’s strolls, and how it could potentially connect different regions of the city.

The Key: It’s great how The Mural and The Mint keeps venturing beyond pop songs into performing arts and other experimental ventures. Why do you think this is?

Michael Kiley: Well, the whole project came as a reaction against the normal “get a band together, play the club scene” arc that a lot of people are surprisingly still trying to take. I’m trying to write music, have more stability, and I’m constantly trying to think outside the realm of what a pop band might do. I work pretty extensively as a sound designer for theater and dance in Philly, and that work as a designer has informed this project a lot. So I thought about ways to design people’s walks – what would I play for people as they walk through a certain place. How could I make that exciting and new? Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Lawsuits and Ground Up at Rittenhouse Square and Jonatha Brooke at Haddon Lake Park

Tonight is all about listening to music in the great outdoors. Our first pick for this evening is a free show in Rittenhouse Square featuring Philly country rock band The Lawsuits and local hip-hop group Ground Up. The show is part of the 22nd annual Concerts in the Park series that runs from 7 to 9 p.m. The Lawsuits will be playing all night, kicking the show off with their rollicking country-infused rock sound and then providing back up for Ground Up’s headlining set. Bring a blanket and a picnic dinner and hang out with some friends in the park listening to some good local music. Ground Up recently stopped by out studio at World Cafe Live to record a Key Studio Session. Listen to the Key Session here.

Folk singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke is also playing a free outdoor show tonight. The concert takes place at Haddon Lake Park in Haddon Heights, New Jersey and kicks off at 7:30PM with a performance by Philly singer-songwriter Ryan Tennis. Listen to Ryan Tennis’ album Goodbye to the Ground in the player below.


The Key Studio Sessions: Ground Up

On a visit to New York City earlier this year, I ran into Ground Up while walking down a flight of stairs to catch the MTA. Not literally, you know, but visually. The hallway to my stop was lined with stickers bearing a haunting photograph of a weathered angel statue; cover art for excellent mixtape the Philly hip-hop trio had just dropped, The Get Up. Being so focused on the Philly scene, you get used to thinking about musicians in a purely local context, and this sticker gallery was a great reminder that for many of the musicians near and dear to home, their impact is much broader. The train is moving fast for Ground Up – the trio of MCs Azar and Malakai, with producer Bij Lincs. The Get Up was their ninth release in the past two years, and they’re getting ready to come out with their tenth – Supernatural, out on September 18th. They’re also not afraid of outside-the-box collaboration, since their free concert in Rittenhouse Square for Philadelphia Weekly’s Concerts in the Park series will reportedly feature alt-country combo The Lawsuits (old buddies of the band) as their backing band. Below, dig into a couple tracks the DJ-and-MC edition of Ground Up recorded for the Key Studio Sessions. Tonight, get a taste of Ground Up gone rock; the show begins at 17th and Walnut at 7 p.m.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Jane’s Addiction w/ Die Antwoord at the Mann, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band w/ T.J. Kong & the Atomic Bomb at Rittenhouse Square and Dom Flemons at World Cafe Live

Legendary alt-rockers Jane’s Addiction are bringing their Theatre of the Escapists Tour to Philly tonight for a show at the Mann Center in support of their latest album, The Great Escape Artist. The show also features the up-and-coming weirdo South African rave-rap duo, Die Antwoord who will make for an interesting show. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the concert starts at 8:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $29.50 to $55 and can be purchased here.

If you’re looking for some free live entertainment, look no further than the Rittenhouse Square Concerts in the Park Series. Tonight’s show starts at 7 p.m. and features performance by Reverand Peyton’s Big Damn Band and TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb for a night of Americana and blues music. Below, listen to TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb’s track “Maximilian,” which is available for free download here. You can also check out the band’s Key Studio Session from Oct. of 2010.

Dom Flemons, multi-instrumentalist of the Grammy-winning old-time string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, along with acoutsic blues guitarist Boo Hanks, will be playing the upstairs stage at World Cafe Live tonight. The pair recently put out the collaborative country-and-blues-influenced album, Buffalo Junction, named for Hanks’ hometown. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are available here for $12. Listen to the duo perform “Move to the Outskirts of Town” in the player below.


New music video from The Lawsuits (playing WHYY Connections Fest and more)

Philly indie rock band The Lawsuits just released a new music video for their previously unreleased song “That’s How.” The lo-fi video was filmed on 8mm and has a dark, experimental vibe. Check out the video in the player below.

The band is playing the free 21+ MilkBoy One Year Anniversary show on August 17th, a free show in Rittenhouse Square on August 22nd, and were just added to the WHYY Connections Festival line-up on September 8th.