photo manipulation by nacrowe
back when we were experimenting with the format of doing extended performance video series with local and national artists in our OFF THE M and KREISCHER MANSION SESSIONS series, PITCHFORK's quirky JUAN'S BASEMENT series was definitely an inspiration.
their presentation changed over time, but essentially had upcoming INDIE ROCK bands playing this dude's basement at his apartment somewhere in BROOKLYN (most likely WILLIAMSBURG / GREENPOINT / BED STUY). it was interesting because 1) the sound was professional (which is not always the case with these types of shows) and 2) there was professional light and cinematography that transformed the confined space to an expressionistic live/music video hybrid.
i was a fan. i really think if we had done another series it would've explored color and use of different lighting and fog techniques to showcase our subjects. KMS was more about showcasing the mansion with stark black and white shots and OFF THE M was about creatively editing live performances at a venue we had no creative control over. again, if we did this sort of thing again i'd take stronger control over the atmosphere and really play with color a la JUAN'S BASEMENT.
it was quirky and interesting. i hope they bring it back.
art by nacrowe
there's something about JAPANESE BREAKFAST that really hits a sweet spot with me.
as i went on about before in my PATTI SMITH piece, i think women really have it difficult dealing with bullshit double standards regarding beauty when establishing themselves as artists in the music industry. what makes it worse is that there is a pressure EVERYONE feels in today's hyper-competitive digital marketplace to water-down your vision to the lowest common denominator, which is why you see many female pop artists resorting to tactics of being outrageous for the sake of getting attention, which only further reinforces the whole vicious cycle.
thats why it is always refreshing to come across female songwriters that have a vision and personality that doesn't feel group tested to death. i'd put JAPANESE BREAKFAST among a great lineage of female fronted rock groups that write their own material including that of WARPAINT, LA LUZ, GIRL IN A COMA, THE COATHANGERS, DUM DUM GIRLS, BEST COAST and LE BUTCHERETTES.
what separates this recent MICHELLE ZAUNER-led solo project to me is the vulnerability of her lyrics which deal with themes like loss and feeling inadequate, both topics i TOTALLY identify with. her 2016 debut PSYCHOPOMP was written as a way to come to terms with the passing of her mother and its a heartbreaking recording which painfully expresses the emptiness and detachment felt after losing a loved one. the album almost doubles as an effort to reconnect with her essence, much in the same way MASTODON did with their CRACK THE SKYE and THE HUNTER albums. her 2017 effort SOFT SOUNDS FROM ANOTHER PLANET finds her really delving into lilting delicate soundscapes that borrow heavily from SHOEGAZE that perfectly support her lyrics that concerned themselves with new beginnings and relationships, which makes sense given her recent marriage. she expresses the joy of new love as effectively as the sadness of sudden loss. all in all i can't wait to hear what she has next in store.
a dynamite songwriter that doesn't hold back from exposing her insecurities. how can you not be supportive of that?