Produced by: Leo Galbraith-Paul. Crew: Nathan Salon, Slade Warnken, Jason Sloan
This season we had an airplay set with Divino Niño, a Chicago-based band known for their dreamy, psych-inspired pop. Be kick back and watch this performance of their song “Initials LV,” video courtesy of the WNUR Media Team. Listen to the rest of the set below.
Sioum is a progressive instrumental band from Chicago. The trio often draws inspiration from dreams, movies, video games, and emotion itself. Formed in 2008, the band consists of Dorian Zdrinc (guitar), Arthur Zdrinc (drums) and Kevin Clark (keys). They often draw inspiration from film, video games, and most frequently, emotion itself. Post-metal, as well as progressive influence are often noted, although occasionally, many broad (and unusual) influences, such as contemporary classical and chiptune, can be heard.
Morimoto, a Chicago-based musician and producer, visited WNUR to record an Airplay set! Check out this in-studio performance of his song “Layup.”
Alto saxophonist Caroline Davis was kind enough to stop by AirPlay in early December for a solo set. The Northwestern alum and former teacher gifted us a soulful rendition of Warne Marsh’s “Background Music” against the background of WNUR’s jazz collection. The WNUR Media Team captured it on video.
With a background like hers, it makes sense that Caroline Davis turned out to be such an intriguing artist. She was born in Singapore in 1981 to European parents—her father was a British engineer, her mother a Swedish actor. She was raised in a primarily African-American section of Atlanta, where she fell in love with gospel and R&B. And she spent her teens in the very different setting of a middle-class Dallas suburb, where she played saxophone in her junior high band, influenced by her parents’ love of Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and other rock and soul bands with horn sections. Having covered so much ground geographically, she continued her travels as a student of music, going beyond the ABCs of notes and chords.
Ian Fisher was kind enough to stop by the Airplay studio this late October to play a few songs and chat before his first Chicago show in over five years. These songs, created somewhere in the space between his hometown of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri and current home in Vienna, are featured on his newest release Nero. Fisher provided us the perfect soundtrack to a midwestern Sunday afternoon, really the perfect soundtrack for any time.
WNUR: Having read about your story, the most immediately interesting thing to me is you are from Missouri but no longer live in the States, how long have you been living in Vienna?
Ian: I moved over to Vienna in 2008 and then moved back for about half a year to New York. I couldn’t take it, so I moved back to Europe and went to Berlin. I lived there for about four years and recently I moved back to Vienna.
In 2008 what prompted your initial move?
I studied there. I studied politics in Vienna, and when I got there it was the first place I ever felt at home, well first city I ever felt at home and didn’t want to leave every day. But before I moved there I actually thought about moving to Chicago.
So you moved to study politics, but has music always been something you were doing?
I started playing music when I was thirteen, I started playing concerts and writing songs then too, so I’ve been playing for more than half my life. It was always a big part of my life, through my studies as well, but then I had to make a decisions because, well, I couldn’t do both.
Are you satisfied with your decision?
Yeah, for now. I think that I’ll probably keep doing this for a while, but I’m still interested in history and things of that sort, especially history. I was always interested in politics too, but it just got me so depressed. Especially in the United States, especially when George Bush was president when I left, that was one of the main things that prompted me to get out of here. Not much has changed, I like Obama much more, but It’s pretty much just a different figurehead for the same monster.
Well he is from Chicago.
Hey, you’re right, can’t be that bad [laughs]
Talking about your newest record Nero: you’ve released about ten albums, but this one as you mentioned earlier was a long time time coming.
Yeah. I started writing some of those songs like seven years ago or more. So some of them are really old and some are much newer of course, but there are a few on there that I’ve been carrying around for hundreds and hundreds of concerts. I had started probably four-hundred concerts with the song “Nero” before I put it on this record. It’s just one of those songs that’s been brewing forever; I was never satisfied with the recordings we did and finally I went into the studio with my friend Fabian Kalka and a few others in Berlin in early 2014 and that’s when we started recording the album. So it’s been almost two years since the beginning of the recording process.
And then you’ve been touring in Europe off and on for the past five years, how has the reception been over there?
It’s good, really good.
Despite being in Europe and playing for a European crowd most of the time, do you feel like the music you make takes root in your home in Missouri?
Yeah, I mean the main reason I would say, that I turned back to country music, looking back on my personal musical history, is that it started out with country music. Well, technically it started with Michael Jackson, but soon after that it moved to country music in the early 90s. Then once I became a teenager, I turned my back on that because it represented some part of the culture in the midwest, more specifically in Missouri, that I really didn’t like. Pop country at that time also took a turn for the worst, it basically became some strange hybrid of pop music and southern rock with extremely materialistic, superficial lyrics and a silly southern accent coming from people without a southern accent. And that was what country music was for me for a large portion of my life. When I moved to Austria in 2008 I really started getting into what country really is, which is really beautiful, soulful music and I kind of discovered that through Gillian Welch mostly and then through Willie Nelson and Hank Williams, the honesty that comes through their music. And I kind of used it as a form of a security blanket really, to reconnect with someone I used to be, and also to pick and choose elements of American identity that I was actually proud of because there was so much, and there still is alot, that I’m not proud of. I think that pretty much 99% of the people reading this will probably be able to relate to the exact same thing they are not proud of when it comes to the United States, and I’m not saying Germany or Austria is any better. But one of the things I am really proud of is the music history here and country music was kind of my way of finding some patchwork identity for myself while being an immigrant.
Do you think that was something only being away could have allowed you to do?
Yeah, I don’t think I would have been able to find that here. Being so far away, you get a distance, you’re able to kind of view where you’re from and the society you’re from in a little petri dish. I’m not saying that I’m superior in any way to do that, but it just seems to be the truth, whether you come from the U.S. or from Germany or Mexico or Japan or any country. When you get out of it you become more aware of what elements of your own personality and your own thoughts are truly your own or part of your conditioning through the society. And being away helped me realize that somewhere deep inside of me was a real country fan and musician.
Very well said, so how has it been touring this album so far in the U.S.?
Well it just started, but it’s been good. The show in St. Louis was alright, but the show last night in my hometown of Ste. Genevieve was really really special. Probably one of the best concerts I’ve ever played, because so many of these songs are about where I’m from.
And was it a family affair?
My dad built the venue [laughs].
So a wonderful homecoming.
Yeah, there were many family members and friends and these songs would exist without those people, and without that place that we played. We did it on my farm, it was beautiful. So I don’t think anything half a special is going to happen on the rest of the tour, but you never know.
Well we wish you the best for the rest of your tour, thank you so much for doing this.
Yeah man, thanks for having us.
Beasthead, a band hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, blends hip-hop break beats, guitar driven indie and vocal transformations to create a compelling sound. On October 3rd they played a short set on Airplay and their song “Louder” was captured on tape by the WNUR Media Team.
We also got a chance to chat with band members, Harry Reynolds, Doug Deitchler, Nick Whebbe and Paul Novak, after the set:
WNUR: So let’s start off with an introduction, where are you guys from?
Doug: We are from Minneapolis, Minnesota, making our way out to New York for a quick little jawn and back. And yeah, super happy to be here, that was a lot of fun you guys hooked it up like crazy.
No problem man, we love to do it. So I was listening to a lot of your music prior to your set and you have Tallest Trees on bandcamp, is there anything else set to be released or in the works?
D: We are loosely working on EP, we tracked some stuff at the Old Sound Gallery in Minneapolis and Ryan Olcott form Twelve Rods is currently helping us produce it. So it’s in pieces, but there’s not really any timeframe for it. [Laughs] Hopefully sooner rather than later.
How is Minneapolis, how is the music scene to you guys out there? I know there’s a history with bands like The Replacements and Hüsker Dü…
Band: [Laugh] Is that all you got!
I mean…No but there is a history of Minneapolis music.
Nick: Well Prince of course. Right now a lot of what we’re doing is trying to connect with as many other bands in the area as possible. Connect, play shows, get to know people, and try to extend our reach as far as possible. We’ve been doing that in Minneapolis and now going out to New York, just really trying to expose ourselves more and as much as possible. Minneapolis is a great spot for that, but you have drive about five hours in any direction to really hit anywhere else. Regardless, Minneapolis is great, we love the music there.
Paul: It’s really eclectic, we kind of find ourselves , especially with the kind of stuff we do, playing and fitting in with almost any kind of bill. Big mixes of genres or bands or rappers or DJ’s or whatever.
Yeah, I think the intersections in your music are quite interesting. How did those come about, what kind of influences brought you to your current sound?
Paul: I guess a real basic answer is we were in a rock band before, and then our drummer quit. We couldn’t find anyone else so we replaced him with a drum machine and started making beats. So that brought the hip-hop element into our sound and we started working with some rappers, Dem Atlas and Globe Mechanics our buddies up in Minneapolis, and then once it progressed more we decided to bring a drummer back into the fold. Mighty Moe Blunt.
And then definitely the the most immediately unique thing that jumps out is the effects on the vocals. Can you speak a little on that?
Harry: I can’t talk, don’t have auto tune. [Laughs] A lot of the bands in Minneapolis are messing with vocals; I think we first heard Polica and Bon Iver do it, and we were like “that’s really cool.” So I bought an auto tune pedal and just wrote a couple songs with it. In the beginning, I was just using guitar effects which is not very good for the signal; it’s just kind of a weak way to do it. But, we just got the new hardware and it’s really beefy and has alot of different effects on it, so we’ve been playing with that. The goal for the effect is to turn the voice into more of an instrument and move away from the traditional vocal line structure.
Very cool. So you guys are on your way to New York, are there any other stops along the way?
Doug: We are sleeping at the airport tonight [Laughs]. Uh no, this was just kind of a last minute thing. This group, Communion Music, is essentially a group the Mumford and Sons dudes started to throw house shows in London when they were kind of nobodies. And now that they blew up, so did this and now it’s a label. We played one of their Minneapolis nights and they’ve invited us to come out for a show in Manhattan so we are kind of just in and out with that.
Awesome, well that’s all from me is there anything else you would like to add.
Moe: Yeah Doug told me a few days ago like “yeah we got booked at Northwestern University in Chicago,” and then when we met up he’s like “I think it’s a tiny school outside of Chicago?” I’m like “no dude, this is going to be a nice spot” and I was right, you guys killed it, thank you so much.
Thank you guys so much for coming in, this was a fun one.
Brock Stuessi // Leo Galbraith Paul //Danny Kelleher // Anna White // Marina Seyffert
Lauren Harris // Alex Furuya // Sienna Parker