Ahead of Under Violet’s performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2019 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday, January 25, we got to ask Sara Bischoff a few questions. Read what she had to say below:
Joely Kelzer: What music inspired you as a kid and made you realize you may want to make music yourself someday? Sara Bischoff: My
mom is a musician so it just made sense to play music as part of everyday life. But songwriting-wise it was Bob Dylan & Ani Difranco, I listened to both a lot as a kid.
JK: You have an ethereal and breathy style, similar to Mazzy star, is there a particular song or album that influenced the sound of this LP? SB: I do love Mazzy Star. Hope Sandoval sings in such a relaxed and simple way—it’s so comforting. I keep bringing up the lullaby thing when I talk about Under Violet but that’s the main idea. There were many other things that influenced the first album, but that’s my main idea with Under Violet as a project.
JK: Besides Mazzy Star, who or what inspires your music? SB: I
think dreams, relationships, nature, animals & memory inspire it. The
songs “Crimson & Clover” and the song “Sweet Jane” and the song “Blues Run the Game”. Also Ted Lucus, Sibylle Baier, Vashti Bunyan, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Joni Mitchell, Jackson C. Frank, Stevie Nicks, Arthur Russell, Neil Young, Invisible Boy,
Poliça, Julie Byrne, and The Weather Station. Those are some of my favorite songwriters. Chris
Rose (Vampire Hands/Robust Worlds/Web of Sunsets) had a big influence on my music. My songwriting developed a lot from just being in bands with him and observing his approach to songwriting—lyrics, in particular.
JK: You recently released a full-length, self-titled LP. What as the idea or inspiration behind the album? SB: I
think it was more of a coping mechanism than anything else. Music is a good friend to have. I think a lot of the songs are about loss and loneliness and finding a way to comfort yourself when you’re feeling that way.
JK: Being from Minnesota, what is your favorite show you have seen in the First Avenue Mainroom? SB: Poliça
and The Cactus Blossoms are tied.
Ahead of Loki Folly’s performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2019 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday, January 25, we got to ask Annie (guitar, vocals) and Nissa (drums, vocals) a few questions. Read what they had to say below:
Joely Kelzer: Your bio mentions Lord of the Rings a couple of times, what is the significance of Lord of the Rings to you? Loki’s Folly: We actually wrote this bio under the influences of sleep deprivation soon before our first show at First Avenue. However, Lord of The Rings does mean a lot to us as we have been watching it forever and we feel really connected to it.
JK: How did you meet each other? How did you decide to start collaborating on music? LF: Nissa was born on April 3rd, and Annie went to the hospital to meet her baby sister. That is when we met and we’ve been best friends ever since. We both really like music and like sharing it together as sisters which makes it really fun to collaborate and feel like it’s not work. So I guess we decided to collaborate because it was more fun to play together than separately.
JK: Do you have a clear or specific memory related to falling in love with music, and knowing that it is something you would want to pursue yourself? LF: Nissa can’t remember a time when she wasn’t hitting everything with sticks, even when she got in trouble for it. She was always going to play drums but never thought it would be in front of people. It took Annie a really long time to work up the nerve to play in front of people but as soon as she did, she felt like she found her home.
JK: What was the inspiration behind your breakout single, “The Love Song”? LF: It is an emotional release in response to not being allowed or knowing how to confront a mean person who won’t leave you alone. We like to use our music for catharsis and support.
Ahead of Nur-D’s performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2019 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday, January 25, we got to him a few questions. Read what he had to say below:
AQ Mohamud: Growing around Minneapolis, how does the city influence your music? Nur-D: The city influences my music by its very nature. Sometimes, depending on the day or the street you can be in a different atmosphere which allows for different types of musical influences. Also, real talk, the fact that we have such extreme weather on either side of the spectrum will influence stuff. We get that deep, introspective, stuck inside in a blizzard type music and also that hot, party out on the lake, dance-type music too. Then you take how both hip-hop, Americana folk, and Rock & Roll have such interconnected roots here. It just leads to a different writing style that most other places don’t really have I think.
AQ: You’ve mentioned how you want to dismantle toxic masculinity through your music, what is the process to that? Nur-D: Well if I could give you the foolproof 100 step plan to effectively dismantle toxic masculinity I would be a very rich dude! While I know the concept is pretty massive in scope for the purpose of this or any one interview I think a good way to start is for more male-identifying people to express their feelings of longing. I know that might sound weird but the fact that men have a need to be desired and want to be wanted is so often seen as weakness. The ability to embrace that part of yourself that wants to be seen, held, desired, cared for is not something that every man feels the safety to explore. So often because of that, they lash out in ways that are destructive for everyone in a society so often run by males. If my music can show that being vulnerable in your skin, being gentle, being teachable, and expressing complex emotion is ALSO a “manly” quality I think that helps us move in the right direction.
AQ: Favorite Netflix Original Show? Nur-D: Oh dang you’re killing me with this one! There are so many good ones. I would say that it’s probably a good 3-way tie for me with Bojack Horseman, Big Mouth, and Black Mirror.
AQ: You love comic books and other stuff that use to be considered “nerdy.” How do you go about showing through your music that that genre is not nerdy at all, but fun and amazing? Nur-D: See I think that comics, manga, D&D, all that stuff is still profoundly nerdy. I don’t think my music does anything to change the fact those are pretty nerdy things. But I would like to think that my music shows that’s totally awesome! You can be nerdy AND fun AND geeky AND sexy AND weird. Being odd is mainstream now. So I think it’s time to let our freak flag fly a little higher—plus it allows for people to see that you don’t have to be huddled in a dark basement to enjoy these things. You can be a nerd on a stage in front of a thousand people and it’s great.
AQ: Who deserved NBA Kia MVP in 2017? Russ or Harden? Nur-D: Harden. The states are pretty clear that, overall, he was doing the most. The spots where Russ overtook him weren’t by so much that he should have lost out to him. But Russ is a great player and I can see how he took home the gold.
AQ: Here in Minneapolis, is it safe to say that at your live shows the majority of the audience is white? Assuming yes, how does that make you feel? Nur-D: I can say that the audience of shows that I book myself often look different then shows I find myself being booked on. As far as how I feel about shows where the audience is mostly white…most of my time in school was in Rosemount, MN a majority white town, in a majority white school district, with majority white classmates. Every theater, choir, football game, etc. was filled with a majority of white people paying to be entertained. It’s nothing new for me when I look to see a majority of white faces in a crowd. I could probably go on for a long time about all the different factors that make this happen. But to focus on one of the positives I can genuinely say that I am so happy that my music can bring peoples from multiple cultures together under the umbrella of shared interests and fun tunes. When I look out and see all types of people woven together I kinda feel like I am doing my part to break down the barriers that so often keep us from growing as a society.
Ahead of Green/Blue’s performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2019 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday, January 25, we got to ask guitarist Annie Sparrows a few questions. Read what Annie had to say below:
Olivia Riggins: After being involved with other successful projects around the area, how did you decide to meet up and form Green/Blue?
Annie Sparrows: Jim was dropping some art off for me last year when we got to talking and I found out he had been writing and recording a bunch of new songs (playing and singing all the parts himself) at his house. I asked if I could hear some of it, and loved every song. I had some ideas to add here and there and we started playing guitars together in Jim’s basement. Hideo and Jim had been talking about being in a band together for a while too so Hideo came in on bass and Danny, who I’ve been playing with since 2002 was a perfect fit for drums. Those songs that Jim had recorded will come out on the first Green/Blue LP in March, and since then we’ve been writing, recording, and playing shows pretty much nonstop.
OR: How is Green/Blue’s sound different from your previous work?
AS: It’s more melodic and artful than most of the projects we’ve been a part of in the past. The hooks and songwriting take a front seat while still being really danceable and sounding slightly dangerous.
OR:I’ve heard Green/Blue described as “the Belle and Sebastian of psych-rock”—do you feel like that’s accurate, or how would you describe your sound? AS:That’s something our friend said to us at one of our first shows - he also asked if we had “singing practice” haha - and it was all kind of a joke that we thought was clever. It’s sort of accurate in that the songs are more than just a sound or “music” - they have a tendency to evoke emotion from the people who hear them more so than a lot of other tunes that would fall under an “alternative” or “garage” banner. I think Belle and Sebastian does that - but I think we are offering something just a little edgier, that’s its own thing.
OR:I’ve read that an album may be in the works. What themes or messages are you interested in exploring in future releases?
AS:The first Green/Blue album comes out on Slovenly Recordings in March - our record release show is in the 7th St Entry (more info TBD) with one of our favorite punk bands from here called I.V., and a new band called Snake Whips that you will surely be hearing a lot about this summer as they start playing live shows.
OR:What’s the next step for Green/Blue as a band?
AS:We have some shows both in and out of town brewing this spring and summer, and we’ll keep working on writing and recording.
Ahead of Muun Bato’s performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2019 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday, January 25, we got to ask guitarist/vocalist Joe Werner a few questions. Read what he had to say below:
Olivia Riggins: Your first album came out this October—what inspired that album, and what was the experience like releasing your debut? Joe Werner: The first album was inspired by so many different things. Mostly by bands like Broadcast, Stereolab, Pink Floyd, and Connan Mockasin, to name a few. But mostly I was just trying to write a body of work that you couldn’t just pigeon hole into one category, or sound. I wanted a colorful, and eclectic collection of songs. One criticism that I have of a lot of new “psych-rock”, is that so many bands have only one kind of song, and they repeat that formula ad nauseam on their records, and it makes for a very one-dimensional listening experience.
OR: You all came from various projects/local bands (Driftwood Pyre, First Communion Afterparty, Bridge Club, Flavor Crystals) before beginning Muun Bato. How do your experiences in the local music scene and your experiences in these other bands influence Muun Bato’s sound? JW: I would say my experience in the local music scene didn’t have much to do with the sound of Muun Bato. I didn’t want it to sound like anything else I had been in before, it has an overall way more mellow sound than a lot of other projects I’ve been in. But I guess a little bleed-through of the past is inevitable. And the other members all bring their own influences, and nuisances with them, which definitely has an obvious outcome on the sound.
OR: The album art/design and t-shirts for Muun Bato have a fun correlation to the sound you have as a band. Does someone in the band do the design work for Muun Bato? JW: The person who does all the design work is a really old friend of mine, Sheraton Green of Charles S Anderson Design. We’ve known each other for about 20yrs, and he just gets the aesthetic we’re going for. He has the ability to interpret the sound visually, in the most amazing way. A true master of his craft.
OR: What’s your favorite song to perform live? JW: “Planet of the Children” is our favorite song to perform I think. It’s the last song on the album, and it’s the last song in our set too. It’s an apocalyptic epic, with operatic highs, and lows, and also seems to be a crowd favorite.
OR: What comes next for you all as a band? JW: We are playing Off the Record on Radio K on Friday, January 17th, along with a number of local shows TBA soon, and a west coast tour this spring. Also, we’ve begun recording our second album, which I have written about %90 of already.
OR: What’s your favorite artist/album of the past year? JW: Vanishing Twin!!! They’re a fantastic band from the UK. Very avant-garde, art-rock stuff. Their newest album “Age of Immunology” is absolutely stellar.