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BeatRoute Magazine BC Print Edition February 2018

BeatRoute Magazine is a monthly arts and entertainment paper with a predominant focus on music – local, independent or otherwise. The paper started in June 2004 and continues to provide a healthy dose of perversity while exercising rock ‘n’ roll ethics. Currently BeatRoute’s AB edition is distributed in Calgary, Edmonton (by S*A*R*G*E), Banff and Canmore. The BC edition is distributed in Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo. BeatRoute (AB) Mission PO 23045 Calgary, AB T2S 3A8 E. editor@beatroute.ca BeatRoute (BC) #202 – 2405 E Hastings Vancouver, BC V5K 1Y8 P. 778-888-1120

MUSIC KIKAGAKU MOYO

MUSIC KIKAGAKU MOYO REDEFININING PSYCHEDELIA FROM ACROSS THE OCEAN MAT WILKINS TINSLEY ELLIS ROOTS ROCK, SOUTHERN BLUES AND WINNING HANDS ADAM DEANE For someone who has performed in every single state, both Western and Eastern Europe, and toured South America and Australia, somehow Tinsley Ellis has not only kept a level head, but a rapid-fire wit and the heart of a comedian as well. BeatRoute had the opportunity to catch up with the Atlanta-based blues-guitarist. Ellis brought a certain type of warmth to the exchange that was unexpected, but certainly welcome, sort of like talking to your uncle if your uncle had held space with The Allman Brothers, Leon Russell and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to name a few. Having reconnected with Chicago-based label Alligator Records after releasing his first album with them in 1988, Ellis seems to have found more than just a voice in the industry: he’s also collected massive amounts of fans, respect, and a compilation of road stories and jokes over the years. These certainly provide fodder for his most recent release, Winning Hand, which dropped January 12, ahead of a massive 63-show tour across the nation, to which Ellis jokes, “Show business is 10 per cent inspiration and 90 per cent perspiration. We’ll have ended up driving our van up to 18 hours in a day to cities like Vancouver – that’s how much we like what we do. Pretty crazy for this 60-year-old.” Professing that this is the most guitar-driven album he’s released in quite some time, Ellis explained why he’s stuck with it for more than 40 years and made the move back to Alligator, parting ways with his entrepreneurial side of releasing music under his own label, Heartfixers, for the past few years. “Having been on the road since 1979, there is just no way I could do a tour like this and run a record company at the same time,” he laughs. “This was a great move for me, and it is nice to be back with Alligator. If I wasn’t playing music, I’d probably be in jail.” Ellis has made the return to a heavy guitardriven sound and brings his character rootsrock, southern blues style along with him on his latest tour where he will play fresh tracks from Winning Hand and a handful of his many other hits. Tinsley Ellis performs at the Rio Theatre (Vancouver) on February 18. Photo by Flournoy Holmes Kikagaku Moyo formed almost by accident, but have released seven albums since. Photo by Jamie Wdziekonski Tokyo’s Kikagaku Moyo (Japanese for “geometric patterns”) goes above and beyond the typical trappings of the everyday psych outfit. They are a group with a penchant for sonic assembly, carefully constructing ethereal soundscapes and melodious riffs alike— that are expertly bound together with the glue of their own unmistakable style. According to drummer and vocalist Go Kurosawa, this band’s distinctive sound is a result of more than just a smattering of band practices. “Yui Kimijima has recorded all of our studio albums so far… He’s not afraid to experiment or try a different approach, which we like,” says Kurosawa. Stone Garden is the most recent testament to Kimijima’s behind-the-scenes tinkering; the five-song EP is a whirlwind of aural sensation, taking listeners on a journey through abrasive distortion, on to toe-tapping vocal melodies, and then back again. Other recent albums — House in the Tall Grass or Forest of Lost Children — contain diverse collections of infectious tunes, complete with fuzzed-out guitar and sitar leads, drawn-out, meandering instrumentals, and creative vocal harmonies (drenched in reverb, of course). Sonic evidence of the band’s relationship with Kimijima is palpable not only on Stone Garden, but right through to the beginning of their entire sevenalbum discography. 18 “It’s kind of miraculous how we got together. It’s amazing how we can sustain the same energy we had when we started the band after five years of playing together,” mentions Kurosawa. Having began as a two-piece between Kurosawa and vocalist/guitarist Tomo Katsurada, Kikagaku Moyo began picking up additional members almost by coincidence. First came Daoud Popal on the guitar, who Katsurada met when out for a smoke at his university. Then came bass player Kotsu Guy, who was found on the street recording vending machine noises for a drone project. Finally, after returning from sitar training in India Kurosawa’s brother Ryu joined. With some members now living in Europe, the band’s writing process has become a result of “[sharing] musical ideas [while Go Kurosawa] comes up with the song structure.” Despite distance’s traditional role as band-killer, Kurosawa shows little if any concern over their new creative workaround to living abroad. Though, as a band that likes to “play N64 or take naps” when they’re not rehearsing or performing together, we shouldn’t expect them to be terribly prone to many of life’s classic stressors. Kikagaku Moyo performs at the Fox Cabaret (Vancouver) on February 26. With a career that’s spanned decades, Tinsley Ellis feels the blues in his bones. February 2018

BULLY REDEFINING DIY PUNK WITH AN ENGINEER’S PRECISION ADAM DEANE 69 LOVE SONGS REVISITING THE ROMANCE OF THE MAGNETIC FIELDS ALEX BIRON MUSIC Alicia Bognanno, frontwoman of Bully, started her career as an audio engineer. After a year like 2017, the needle on the collective emotional pressure-gauge has reached the red zone. More and more humans are desperately searching for a voice to call home, a safe asylum, a place to shake off the proverbial dust of all the everyday realities and stresses we breathe. Alicia Bognanno is no stranger to this feeling. She is human after all. Though, with a voice like hers and a brain capable of concocting and constructing the framework of the Nashville punk band Bully, she just may have the answer to the worries and woes of yesteryear, hidden within their Sophomore release, Losing. Given a brief window to pick at Bognanno’s brain, we did just that. We found her and her dog at home in Nashville, which Bognanno assured us has a yard, a sidewalk and space for her van and trailer. “I’ve been in Tennessee for almost 10 years now. I grow to like it more all the time. I’ll come back from tour and just realize I was not appreciating the simple pleasures of living here. I have sidewalks on my street and I can go and run with my dog whenever I want. There’s always a lot going on. Nashville is somewhat central and it’s easy to tour out of, which is a plus for playing music.” Bognanno has got one of those sounds that resonates with every cell. You know, the kind that keeps you up at night because you’ve unintentionally mopped up every lyric — and there are a lot. With songs that touch on matters of depression, anger, relationships, resentments and regrets; no one can really relate. Makes you wonder if she creates anything else you can inject, inhale, ingest? Photo by Alysse Gafkjen “I recently started just writing to write. It’s weird because I get really self-conscious about it and I’m not sure why. I write lyrics knowing that someone will be reading them. I’m trying to write a lot more to help work things out emotionally. There’s poetry I like but when I try and write it I just can’t take myself seriously enough to do it.” With backing vocals, bass, and drums thrown into the mix and Bognanno producing and engineering her own sound, Bully is an irrefutable, incomparable force to be reckoned with. Having studied under the infamous producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, The Cribs) for years as an audio engineer, Bognanno not only found her niche, but ran with it. “I always wanted to get into music. My first way in was through audio-engineering, which I started in high school. I ended up going to college for it. I picked up electric guitar while I was in college and eventually started Bully. I was playing piano before and I just couldn’t stand it. I felt stuck and felt like I couldn’t express myself. Then I picked up electric and was like ‘oh I found it!’” With blistering punk-esque vibes, unapologetically confident howls, feedback that could take down a bear and a little pop thrown in for good measure, Bully’s sophomore release, Losing, will most certainly keep you coming back for another handful. Bognanno’s Bully appears to be precisely what we need in uncertain times such as these, a bloody fist bashing its way through a crowd of bullshit to address the feelings everyone has, yet seldom voice. Bully performs at the Biltmore Cabaret (Vancouver) on February 26. Whether you’re heartbroken, starting a new romance or just a plain cynic when it comes to love, 69 Love Songs is the record for all shapes and sizes. Since its release in 1999, the sprawling conceptual indie album released via Merge Records has become legendary. 19 years after writing it in New York, the album is still just as relevant and poignant today no matter your mood, gender or sexual orientation. Looking back on the album just in time for Valentine’s Day, Stephin Merritt was kind enough to reflect with us and answer some of our questions about the L-word. And since he refused to answer any questions containing the word favourite, it made our interview fairly short and sweet — just like most of the songs on the album. BeatRoute: Hi Stephin! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us for this feature. Stephin Merritt: Thanks for having me. As is my policy, I have ignored the questions about favourite things.. BR: This year marks the 19th anniversary of 69 Love Songs, which means it’s finally legal in Canada! SM: In the US we are taught that practically nothing is legal anywhere but the US, which is the land of the free...all of them. Everywhere else is North Korea. BR: Music has changed so much since the late ‘90s. How do you think 69 Love Songs would be received if it was released today? SM: Really? I don’t think pop music has changed at all since the late ’90s. There’s rock, disco and country, slowly merging. Since no one listens to music anymore — why would you? — And since nothing ever happens, 69 Love Songs couldn’t be released at all today. If it were, no one would notice. BR: 69 Love Songs has undoubtedly helped a lot of broken hearts through breakups. Do you hear from a lot of these people? SM: My manager Claudia does. She reads the fan mail. I had to stop reading the mail decades ago when I got a love letter from a lunatic, enclosing a photograph of himself that he had cut into tiny triangles. BR: You wrote 69 Love Songs in New York. What’s the best place to take someone on a date in the Big Apple? SM: A bar. If they don’t show up, you can just get drunk. BR: In your experience, what’s the secret to a happy relationship? SM: Brevity! BR: Do you think animals fall in love? SM: Oh yes, I just saw some stupid clickbait article about a dog pining away with love for the neighbour’s cat. Essentially the same chemicals are sloshing around in their and our little brains. Love doesn’t require language skills. BR: If you had to make another album of songs about an emotion other than love, what would it be? SM: Love is much, much more than an emotion, and I would never make a whole album about only one emotion. The only one feasible would be boredom, right? A zen album. I’d happily listen to it, if only once, but I sure wouldn’t want to make it. BR: When are you more creative — during times of happiness or heartbreak? SM: Neither! If I’m happy I don’t want to work (fortunately this is rare), and if I’m heartbroken I can’t. I like to work when I’m tipsy and otherwise a little bored, so I write mostly in bars. BR: How do you plan to spend Valentine’s Day 2018? SM: I think I’d like to blow something up. I gather there is a sexual fetish for that, and it just sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe at the Eagle, which is the only remaining leather bar in New York, and has a nice big roof deck. BR: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. All the best in 2018 and beyond! SM: Ta. Photo by Marcelo Krasilcic 69 Love Songs is the sixth album by The Magnetic Fields and was released in three volumes in 1999. February 2018 19

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