Tag Archives: Q&A

5 Questions with Martin Courtney of Real Estate

New Jersey’s buzz band Real Estate released their second full-length album “Days” on Domino Records in October. While en route to a show in Salt Lake City, lead vocalist Martin Courtney spoke with The Foghorn about recording his new record, his love for Mission style burritos, and a story involving fish & chips.

San Francisco Foghorn: Would you mind briefly explaining the recording process that went into creating your new album “Days”, and what you did differently this time around?
Martin: Recording “Days” was completely different than the first record we recorded. The first self-titled album was all home records. We always wanted to record in the studio, and for me it’s always been dream for me. It took a long five months to completely finish but it was really fun. To me it sounded exactly as we wanted it to sound.

F: Between the ups and downs of playing to crowds every night on tour, and living out of a van, what are your thoughts and feelings on touring?
M: It’s fun playing shows every night, but I really don’t like living out of a van and being away from family and friends for months on end. It gets really fast, but is also really fun.

F: Who are some bands that everyone should be listening to right now?
M: Big Trouble is an excellent band that just put out a great record a few months ago. Spectral is another band we’ve known for two years now and also put out an album around the same time as Big Trouble. We’ve played with both of them on tours and have been friends for quite a while now.

F: You played in San Francisco a few months ago at The Independent and are headlining at Slims on Friday, what are some things you really like to do in San Francisco?
M: We always stay with friends who live in The Mission when we come to town. Pretty much I really enjoy hanging out at Dolores Park and eating burritos. Last time I was in SF I ate burritos for every meal for three days straight, it got kind of old, but the burritos in SF are so addicting.

F: What’s been your weirdest tour story that’s happened on the road?
M: When we were in Europe last week we played in Brighton and decided to get some fish and chips. Our tour manager told us to go to this place where this one guy was working. We ordered 8 things and the guy literally messed up the entire order so bad we asked him to fix it. Slowly more people started to enter the fish & chips shop, and looking at this guy we figured the dude was freaking out on drugs. It got to the point where the dude was tripping out on drugs so hard that he started laughing and asked us to leave and go. We ended up just having to walk out.


In Conversation With James Blake at the Fillmore

Only one year out of college, James Blake is truly living the dream.
Recently nominated for a Mercury Prize and days after his breathtaking set at this year’s Austin City Limits Festival, the Foghorn had the chance to sit down and speak one on one with the English musician James Blake hours before his sold out performance at The Fillmore on September 21st.

Foghorn: You just released a collaborative track titled “Fall Creek Choir Boys” with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver a few weeks ago, was this recorded together with the two of you in a studio or via email?
James Blake: It was going across The Atlantic, we both met each other (last year) at South By Southwest and we kept exchanging emails, sending each other music, sending each other beats, and vocals he recorded and we eventually worked out the song.
F: When your first started making music, what did your mom and dad think of it all? Was it seen more as a hobby to them or did they see it as a professional career?
JB: They saw it as a thing to do right to the end. When I was recording “Limit To Your Love” I actually recorded it in my parents’ home where I grew up and they came in (to my room) and it was the song they liked the best out of anything I had recorded up to then. Oddly enough I didn’t really believe them! I don’t think anyone really knows that, but yeah they definitely seem to be the barometer to what song is going to be popular.
F: What did your dad think of your cover of his song “Where You Turn” which you retitled “The Wilhelm Scream”?
JB: He really likes that song. It’s strange though, changing the name of the song, taking out some of the lyrics and chopping some of them out is kind of like changing your second name especially when it’s your dad’s song. I think he really took it really well to be honest, considering I really reinterpreted and chopped up his song. I think he understood and really got the point of it though.
F: Looking at some of your peers in the music industry who are some some people you look up to in the music industry or are people you’d like to work with more?
JB: At the moment I’d really like to work more with Justin (from Bon Iver) whether it’s in a studio, or or a bedroom or even over a cup of tea. I just want to play really. In terms of artist I’m on the festival circuit with… it’s really cool playing with (the band) Warpaint, they put on an amazing show. I really also enjoyed playing with Flying Lotus and The Gaslamp Killer in Los Angeles, I think they’re doing really great stuff.
F: Looking at California based artists, what are your thoughts on Tyler the Creator who also started to blowup at SXSX when you did?
JB: I think Tyler is great, I spoke with him him once. There is a lot of shock value with Odd Future which I really love!
F: I appreciate that about them too!
JB: The think that I really see about Odd Future is Tyler’s vulnerability. I think his album “Bastard” is a great album. It’s beautiful, heartfelt sentimental album, But I don’t think he needs my psychiatric summary. I do think he’s my favorite out of that collective.
F: To get more personal, how does it feel being 22, going on 23 next month and thinking about all that you’ve accomplished in this past year? You just graduated college less than a year ago, just played all of these major music festivals, and was nominated for a Mercury Prize. Is this all accomplishments you reflect on much?
JB: I haven’t had time. I’ve been so busy playing shows, writing songs , and getting as much time as home which is very little. I’m also trying to keep my friends and make sure it doesn’t…
F: Fall apart?
JB: Yeah, I want to make sure everything stays stable. I graduated college a year ago…and your best friends don’t need to be serviced, but you do lose touch with a lot of people because geographically your not in the same place and it’s hard…but I’ve made a bunch of new friends and have had such an amazing time. This next year since I won’t be touring and I’m going to have a year to look back and look at where I want to go with my career. I agree with you though that I’ve been lucky to do all of that stuff.
F: Will you be recording this next year?
JB: Yeah, I’ve already been recording a lot of stuff, but next year I do want to try some new stuff.
F: For you personally, do you enjoy playing at individual venues more or playing the touring circuit?
JB: Towards the end of the festival circuit, I felt that I wanted to get back to doing shows in venues, but last time by the end of doing a tour of shows though in smaller venues, where it’s harder to get the sound right, festivals do become more appealing because of big sound systems. Now though on this tour I’ve been playing in venues that do have big sound systems.
F: Last time you came to San Francisco you were playing at The Great American Music Hall and this time you moved up to the larger Fillmore Theater.
JB: To be honest though they’re both great venues.
F: The Great American is beautiful and one of my favorites.
JB: That venue is beautiful! It has a great sound system as well, so I couldn’t complain. Looking back though seven months ago, the venues really have changed. Working in a venue like this though gives us all a chance to do all the stuff our band wants to do.
F: Since we’re very much known for our food scene, did you eat anywhere special in San Francisco?
JB: I’ve been living off burritos and Salvadorean food the past two days I’ve been here. I wanted to go to the equivalent of a greasy spoon in England and scouted out mexican places since I’ve been here and have tried to stay away from chains.
F: As a final question I noticed on your tour schedule you have a lot of days back and forth on and off from touring, and what do you like to do on tour and in San Francisco?
JB: I like it when we’re by the sea. It lets me completely refresh.
F: Do you surf?
JB: No I just like looking at it. Being back in America is really exciting. When we went around on our first tour we got to get our first impressions of it all and now that we’ve come back it’s much like revisiting an old friend. I feel now I can navigate through cities that I’ve been to.
San Francisco has been really fun. The whole city looks so beautiful! Today though has been so beautiful, I walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf. I looked back at San Francisco and this glorious view and thought this is such an amazing city! I know some people here and have had such a splendid time.

5 Questions with Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi

Foghorn: With two albums and multiple EPs that feature a wide range of styles and sounds, do you feel that you have a drive to produce different sounding work on each recording?

Chaz Bundick: No, I don’ feel that I have to. I do like changing it up though but never feel that I have to do something different each record.

F: On this upcoming stop in San Francisco you’re playing two days back to back, do you feel that you need to do something different each night or do you for the most part do the same show over for a new audience?

CB: We try to change it up for the most part each night but have a lot of the same songs that we play.

F: Bob Mould hinted in an interview this summer that you were moving to Berkeley, did you end up moving out west?

CB: Yes I moved there this summer and still live there.

F: What prompted the move and where do you like hanging out while in SF?

CB: I just love the Bay Area. As for places in SF, I like going to Dolores Park.

F: With 2012 right around the corner, do you already have your professional plans for next year?

CB: Yeah, I plan on working on the next record and not touring as much as I did this past year.

Catch Toro Y Moi live during one of his two night stints at The Great American Music Hall on October 1st and 2nd.

Reverend Privett on the FCC Inquiry and the Sale of KUSF

Q: What can you tell us about the nature of the FCC inquiry with respect to the sale of KUSF?

A: USF’s side of this is being handled by our general council. Our general council is working closely with USC [University of Southern California] and a communications attorney. I am not monitoring this on a daily basis. I do know that this is taking longer than we had anticipated and that we want to be prepared for whatever decision the FCC makes. That’s about as much as I know.

Q: Has the university complied with the inquiry?

A: I do know that we produced, I believe, over 2,000 pages at their request, so I can’t imagine that there’s more that they want. Although if they want more, we’ll give them more.

Q: You said that you are not monitoring the situation personally. But has there been any dialogue between the university and the FCC since the inquiry was made?

A: With me? I’ve had conversations with our general council. Not about strategy but more of just saying ‘when are we going to get this thing resolved?’ because this is taking far longer than I had anticipated when I made the decision to sell KUSF. So it might have been more of a reflection of impatience than any great desire to get involved. The strategic thinking, how we’re going to proceed, what we deliver, is all being handled by our general council, USC, and an outside attorney.

Q: Do you have any idea as to when this will be resolved?

A: We originally had anticipated a decision in November, I was told. Before Thanksgiving, after Thanksgiving? If we don’t get it before Thanksgiving, the likelihood of getting it after Thanksgiving-Christmas diminishes. It could be as late as January. They [the FCC] have a number of options as I understand it. They can ‘ok’ the sale, they can call for a hearing. Those are at least two of the options that I know of. I think there are two other, but I’m not quite sure what they are.

Q: Is there anything that you think the USF community should know regarding the inquiry?

A: Well, I think there’s a fundamental conflict here. The Friends of KUSF [organization trying to reverse the sale] are not the friends of USF. My responsibility is to ensure that the university pursues its mission and the mission is not vague. It’s in black and white. Our mission is to promote learning in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. That’s our mission.
So, my job is to ensure that our resources advance the mission. The sale of KUSF is to take this asset and translate it into a liquid cash asset and invest that cash asset to more effectively promote the mission.
I just did a little back-of-the-envelope calculation. $3.75 million could be used to hire 25 full-time faculty, it could be 100 full scholarships for students, it could be the renovation of the bookstore, lounge space, or crossroads twice over. I have to look at what’s going to serve the greater good of the university mission. I think the so-called Friends-of-KUSF are interested in keeping their access to a community radio station, which doesn’t do much for our mission.

I don’t expect them [Friends of KUSF] to understand. I would expect that the university community sees what it is we are trying to do here. I was thinking of an analogy: would you want the Foghorn to be run by 10 percent students and the other 90 percent by the community who come in and take over our newspaper? I don’t think so. I understand that the community would like to have this station at their disposal, but that’s not my responsibility.

I think that the providing of commercial free, classical radio to the entire Bay Area community is a terrific public service and I think to contrast this as public service versus corporate greed is completely inaccurate.
I believe the whole debate is skewed and having spent an hour listening to these folks, I think they don’t really understand what it is we are trying to do. But I would say the university could see what’s really important.

Getting Down with USF’s WOTL


Sky Madden and Chris Moore of Women of the Tenderloin play a Foghorn-sponsored set in Harney Plaza last Thursday. (Melissa Stihl|Foghorn)

San Francisco Foghorn: What made you interested in playing music?
Chris Moore: Originally I wanted to be a scratch DJ, and then I heard Aphex Twin and decided I could never be happy mixing music I didn’t produce.
Sky Madden: Music has always been a GPA bringer-downer for me ever since I can remember. But specifically in the past couple of years going to shows hasn’t been good enough for me. The only thing that satiates me now is playing — whether I’m alone or if it’s for WOTL.

SFF: How did you guys get together? When? Can you give a brief history of the band?
SM­­­­: Two summers ago I worked at the Four Star theatre so that I could buy a Korg Electribe EMX-1. That following October I had been with my blue Electribe for a couple of months but clearly plateaued in terms of what I could do with it. Later on Lauren Go introduced me to Chris at a party and we ended up staying up all night together talking about the state of electronic music, our disappointments and our hopes. I kept seeing Chris at parties where I was playing juvenile mixes out of my G4 and I guess we just kept eloping to commiserate or geek out about electronica. This kind of thing hasn’t really stopped the only difference is that we’re applying this conversation to our instruments, namely the Electribe EMX-1.
CM: Yea I got the older sister version of the Electribe. We couldn’t believe that we both basically had the same drum machine, almost fate brought them two together like Ebony & Ivory, or Little Boy & Fat Man, or Ben Affleck & Matt Damon.

SFF: Where did your band name come from?
CM: The name spawned from the title of my final project for Digital Audio Synthesis class. I wanted to create a piece that was a complete onslaught of noise, so I looped a bunch of samples, in different speeds and pitches, from Mozart to Wolf Eyes to Boredoms in this crazy sound collage. I showed Sky, as a sample of music I was making at the time, and she geeked out on the title. The name “Women of the Tenderloin” should not be seen as a ironic band name since, you know, one of the two members is not a woman, and both of us don’t live in the Tenderloin. But should be associated with the absurdities and decadence that exists within all of us. We sometimes joke around how we are a electronic band trying to act like a Death Metal band!


SFF: How would you describe your music? In terms of sound, style, genre, performance technique, etc.
SM­­­­: For me this question is like asking me to describe how I smell, but as far as performance technique we’ve been so inspired by the M83 and Simian Mobile Disco live set up. It’s been all about function for us. Anthony [Gonzalez] and the girl from M83 have consistently operated synthesizers directly opposite from each other. For a lot of our material I need to communicate with Chris using my eyes, so being able to look at him is important as well as looking down at each other’s settings from across. Simian tends to situate their equipment in the round regardless of the stage so that everything they need is exposed and accessible. We’re juggling four keyboards, three drum machines, strings, a cumbersome PA system that barely handles our sound and a couple pedals. Duos like Presets and Digitalism could scoff at this but right now we’re resisting software and really pushing what we know about our hardware.
Women of the Tenderloin has a tendency to create and rely meandering chord progressions. It’s not so much that we’re interested in slow-moving music but rather we tend to not have an exacting harmonic goal. I don’t know if it will always be this way for us but we’re very open with each other about new ideas even if they don’t make immediate sense or are consistent with what we sound like now. When we get to the recording phase of WOTL I don’t plan on reinventing myself or the band for each release. There’s something incredibly banal and automatic about listener and creator expectation.
CM: I feel we keep our eyes and ears on a lot of different artists and genres, artists that aren’t always electronic music. For example, we wrote a punk song called “Ellen Page You Don’t Know What You Are Missing,” as well as, a dance/thrash song called “Friction,” which kinda has me rapping in it. These two songs are different from our typical drawn out chord progression songs, so I think we don’t constrain ourselves to one specific genre. Personally for me, reinventing yourself is crucial. Not in terms of a complete 180 in your sound or style, but at least willing to expand your horizons, for example, use of different instruments, while still grounded to your roots.

SFF: What are your inspirations?
CM: Although we are both fans of similar dance acts like M83, Presets and Digitalism, individually, we have our own separate inspirations. For me, a majority of the artists on Warp Records have been the biggest inspiration to create electronic music. All the artists have these interpretations of controlled chaos through beats and bass while still able to have this beautifully gentle side to them. The 1979-82 No Wave movement also draws me in aesthetically, they screeched a great lesson of “who [cares] how I make my music, or if it sounds bad. I want you to cringe.”
SM­­­­: Postal Service is never far from us too.. don’t forget. Whoa, did everyone just lose hope in WOTL at this point in the interview? [ha ha ha]

SFF: Are there any themes or concepts regularly discussed in your music?
We can’t seem to get away from Kubrick movies. I don’t think there is any direct connection but we’ve got “The Shining” or “Eyes Wide Shut” on in the background at shows and practices constantly — on mute of course. There’s something familiar and comfortable about Kubrick imagery and execution that helps us along almost every time we get together to make something.
CM: Listen to The Exploited’s “Sex And Violence,” think about all the imagery that comes to your head subversively from that song.
SM­­­­: Chris and I, if I can be painfully honest here — both have conflicting attitude towards women or the idea of a girl or a woman. I think we both have consistently expressed an undying appreciation for the female analog in several obsessive modes but there’s something darker going on there that’s unspoken but definitely shared between the two of us. I don’t know if that will ever go away not matter how many times we fall in love or get turned and quartered by a girl.
There are hours of worship but there are hours of embittered cynicism and I think it shows in our music.

SFF: What is your songwriting process?
CM: We both usually jam right after a long night of parties. But, we don’t see each other 24/7, we think of songs, lyrics, or concepts on our own time and build off from them during our next practice. Our reliance to technology has also contributed to the song writing process. We bombard ourselves with ideas or lyrics through text, e-mail, and facebook messaging. Sometimes a song is birthed from a single text message.

SFF: Anything cool coming up?
We’re looking forward to a summer of hard practice and development. Taking five classes and being addicted to extra-curricular activities has definitely put a strain on what WOTL would be otherwise.
CM: Thacher Gallery opening, expect a dark set. Hopefully Scott Le Fever and his project The Overcoats will support. We’re also looking forward to playing with Petals again. Sky and I are both excited about the brain of Jess Labrador. You could say that Labz breathed life into WOTL. She’s been a consistent muse from day one — always pushing us. We wouldn’t be making anything without her input.

SFF: What are your hopes for the band?
SM­­­­: I just want to make something that we’re proud of and that we can write home about. I don’t have any real expectations for Women Of The Tenderloin but I can say that through this band the greatest pleasure I’ve got has come from playing for people like The Foghorn, The Ignatian and for people’s house parties. The best part of playing music in the past couple of months is looking up from the deck and seeing people we know dancing with sincerity.
CM: I just want to smash.