Vampire’s Ball Interview with Andi Harriman

Vampire’s Ball Interview with Andi Harriman

By Logan Lanphere (First Avenue Marketing Intern)

I had the chance this week to ask DJ Andi Harriman a few questions ahead of Vampire’s Ball (a costume dance party dedicated to the music and style of goth subculture in the 80’s) at First Avenue on Saturday, August 26.

-What inspired you to write Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace, and will any of its material be covered in the pre-show lecture?

Andi: My main inspiration came from the desire to give back to the music that meant so much to me. 1980s post-punk and goth helped me through some pretty terrible times in my life so I felt that the only way I could return the favor was to write a book - as far fetched as that may sound. I was doing tons of academic research on the subject anyway and noticed there was a lack of published works on the 1980s goth subculture. There seemed to be a lot of writing on 1990s goth but not as much emphasis specifically on the first two waves of post-punk music - I also focused on a worldwide scale rather than just on London and the UK in general (of which there’s mountains of documentation).

Yes, there will be many photos and excerpts from my book in the lecture. It’s titled “Goth 101: A History of the Post-Punk and Goth Subcuture 1978-1987” and is a light overview of the subculture I put together based on the results of the intense research I conducted for the book. I like to make my lectures interactive and fun, it won’t be your typical lecture, I promise!

-Are there a few artists we can expect to hear at Vampire’s Ball?

Andi: I would definitely bet on hearing a lot of late 80s synth wave such as Depeche Mode, Propaganda and Book of Love - I won’t give away all my secrets though. I’m very excited for this set!

-What is one of your favorite things abut hosting Synthicide in Brooklyn? How is that night different/similar to Vampire’s Ball?

Andi: I think my favorite part about Synthicide is the ability to bring 80s synth, industrial and EBM music into more of a techno setting - I love mixing genres. The best moments are at 330 am when it’s just myself and the hardcore dancers who are excited about everything from Stacey Q to really hard industrial techno. I also love giving a platform to artists and DJs who might not have one otherwise.

I have a feeling the crowd at Vampire’s Ball will be just as enthusiastic as my Synthicide people. I’m doing an all 80s set with a mix of familiar hits, underground classics and some of my favorite somewhat unknown tracks. Though Synthicide has a very heavy 80s lean to it, I do play lots of current music - I suppose that is the biggest difference between the two.

-How did you get involved with Vampire’s Ball, and why?

Andi: I think Grant and I have toyed with the idea for a while and it finally came in fruition! I love what Grant is doing with Dark Energy - I’m honored to be a part of it. My favorite part about lecturing and DJing is meeting likeminded people, having conversations about music and sharing experiences… how could I say no?

-What are you most excited about playing our goth dance night?

Andi: One, having the opportunity to play at such a historic venue - it will also be the biggest place I’ve played in thus far! Also, being able to discover a new city and goth scene is exciting, I like comparing places to NYC.

Check out Andi’s set and her lecture, as well as Justin Strauss, Necronancer, Angelica Ottavia, and Stainless Steel Providers in the Mainroom on August 26. Get your tickets!

Local Spotlight: Nick Jordan

Local Spotlight: Nick Jordan

by Logan Lanphere (First Avenue Marketing Intern)

This week I had the chance to sit down with Minneapolis R&B singer, songwriter, and dancer Nick Jordan. We talked about how he got into performing, his new EP Dividends, and his EP release show at 7th St Entry August 4.

If you’ve seen Nick Jordan live, you know his shows are among the most energetic in the Twin Cities, complete with full-scale choreography and a range of back-up dancers. “I’ve always been really attracted to the live show, the live setting and the art of performance. I grew up doing a lot of theatre,” Jordan notes as we discuss how he got into playing music. He realized while attending college at St. Thomas University that he needed a creative outlet despite trying to convince himself “to be rational” by getting a degree. He grew up listening to R&B like Jill Scott and music produced by the Neptunes, all of which inspired him to write music as well.

Jordan’s 2015 EP NJ helped earn him the title of City Pages’ best R&B artist of the year in 2016. Since then, Jordan has brought his live-show spectacle to all corners of the Twin Cities. Now, he’s almost ready to reveal what he’s been working on. When I asked him how he feels he’s grown in between the two EPs, he said, “There’s more dance elements, basslines you’ll feel in your chest. I just tried to experiment and push my pen.” After writing and working on new music for over a year, his process changed. “This is is a six song EP, and there were more songs than that but I ended up scrapping most of it because the shit wasn’t really moving me anymore.” The breakthrough came when Jordan took a solo trip around Europe to find that passion and driving force for making music. In talking with him, it’s evident he isn’t motivated by fame or notoriety; instead he makes music because he deeply believes in it as a way to learn about himself.

The result is a consistent body of work: “It’s not stuff I’ve sat with for years, it’s fresh and doesn’t feel over-thought or over-produced… what better way to create a snapshot of myself?” As Jordan learns and grows as a person, his music grows with him. This EP is meant to feel in-the-moment. Jordan accomplished this by writing his thoughts as they came to him. On this new EP, his intent is to lean on himself even more: the live guitarists and drummer are replaced so as to prevent being swallowed by talented musician friends. This time, the focus is on himself as an artist and as a person.

The R&B scene in the Twin Cities is a work-in-progress, but Jordan has gotten used to opening for artists in the booming hip hop scene. His act has benefitted from this, as he’s tested himself against crowds that aren’t necessarily attending a show to see him. With his upcoming show, Jordan is providing an outlet for the soul and R&B of Minneapolis with support from Devata Daun, Radio Ahlee, and Moise. Jordan wants to “have (R&B) be visible. I tried to give people a mix of artists that move me…I think it’s a really great privilege in any sense to be on a stage, or have any sort of platform. So I don’t mess with people’s time. If you’re there I’m going to give you everything I have inside of me.” Jordan’s consciousness of others’ time has made his live show what it is. In his mind, the show better be awesome if someone is going to commit their night to it.

This project is about exploring himself, and Jordan incorporates his friends and dancers to create a memorable experience for the audience. From the way the beats are set up for dancing to the introspective lyrics, it’s clear that Dividends was created with care and intentionality. It hasn’t always been easy for him though: “I feel like the last couple years, I’ve had to dig really deep inside myself and learn to love and care for the parts of my being that were difficult to love." Dividends is tangible evidence of how far he’s come in two years, and represents the return on investment in himself.

As for his show at the entry, Jordan told me he’s "just looking forward to showing everyone what I’ve been working hard on, and celebrating that with some awesome people." Get tickets now for this exercise in shaking ass at 7th St Entry August 4, and check out Nick Jordan’s EP Dividends, slated to release on the same day. In the meantime, you can tide yourself over with the single from the EP, ‘Petty.’ 

"If you take care of the music, the music will take care of you.”

Local Spotlight: Love Sequence

Local Spotlight: Love Sequence

by Logan Lanphere (First Avenue Marketing Intern)

This week, I sat down with the guys of the Minneapolis pop outfit Love Sequence to talk about their goals as a band, their latest EP, and their upcoming show at 7th St Entry on Monday, July 31. They’ll be supporting Early Eyes (you can check out my conversation with them here).

Love Sequence is Bobby Rethwish (vocals, guitar), Marcus Findley (bass), Nolan Sawyer Watts (lead guitar, keys), and Grant Gabriel (drums). Their musical interests range from Michael Jackson and Prince to Rush and King Crimson. Their unique brand of pop has emerged from this diverse range of influences, but it didn’t start that way. The band went “through a few incarnations before we got to Love Sequence. It kind of started with Grant and I, in a progue band,” says Rethwish. Findley adds, “It was the first time we moved into pop music,” when Love Sequence finally formed about two years ago. Watts joined a year later, branching out from his funk-rock roots. He told me, “It’s still funky, but it’s just a different flavor and it did take some convincing (to join a pop band), that’s a fair word.”

Last November, Love Sequence released their debut EP Look At Me, which was recorded in various studios across Minneapolis. With this first effort, the goal was to put out the best five songs they had. Rethwish explains: “we really loved these songs that we felt represented us at the time, so we thought they deserved the full treatment.” Since then, the band has played consistent gigs, aside from a brief hiatus while Findley recovered from wrist surgery. That down-time gave them a bit of space to write new music, and now they have their next few releases planned for the future. They’ll be playing plenty of that new music at their upcoming shows.

It was apparent during our conversation that these guys have put a lot of effort into understanding the potential power of their music. Every note and word is intentional. Says Gabriel: “When I think of our sound, it’s always been like a dream you can’t quite remember.” This sense of ambiguity is something the band has always aspired to create. Rethwish is intentional in the way he approaches writing music: “Everybody’s got this foot in the door with pop music, so that gives me permission to write more exposing and troubling lyrics. Because if you can relate to the sound of it, then I can give you something more interesting. Like in stand-up comedy you can say the most truly offensive things, but if you can make them laugh or (in their case) dance, you can open them up to your neurosis.”

The band’s gigantic-sounding and easily-digestible pop songs allow them to insert heavy lyrics in each song. In Gabriel’s words, “whatever emotion that song is going to make you feel, it makes you feel it so quickly and thoroughly that you can’t hide it. I want our music to almost demand that reaction.” It’s a tall order to capture emotions and put them into words that have the desired impact, but these four talented musicians have taken extreme care in crafting each song to inspire listeners to evaluate themselves and their own emotions.

Love Sequence has played shows with a unique array of bands that are sometimes very different from them, but they’ve found a way to resonate with all kinds of audiences. Says Watt, “I think that it’s fun to have a scene that we have a hard time calling a scene because you do get so much variation, and you learn to appreciate what everyone’s doing when it’s so different.” That’s what the local music culture is about: celebrating our differences and our artistic endeavors with one another.

Love Sequence is a young dream pop band with large-scale ambitions and a sound meant to move you both physically and spiritually. Rethwisch sums it up best: “If you want to dance you can dance. If you want to be existential and think about spirituality, you can do that. If you want to get turned on, you can do that.” Don’t miss their opening sent for Hardcastle and Early Eyes at 7th St Entry July 31. Snag some tickets here!

Footnote: For fun, I asked the guys what they’ve been listening to lately, and Findley exclaimed, “Pinegrove, They’re so fucking good. I love them so much.” Lucky for us, Pinegrove headlines the Entry this October!

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