Categories
Music

La Roux – Uptight Downtown

Sometimes I sit down to write about certain songs and the writing just comes out of my brain. There’s a certain process to writing, that I don’t want to talk about right now. I haven’t fallen this hard for a sound and pop-funk in a while, so I figured I may as well have some fun today while writing about it.

I used to work downtown. Like down, downtown in the Financial District of this fantastic city. People used to ask me what it was like. If you know me in real life (and virtually, I’d hope that my writing is some indicator of my personality), you’ll know that I rarely wear dresses, I live for the spontaneity of an unplanned experience, and rarely say no. (This mode of life was inspired by the Jim Carrey film, “Yes Man” — one that I think often goes overlooked among his works.) So working downtown was interesting. It was a change of pace. Quite literally — every time I got off the subway, I shuffled with the other shufflers. It was always really interesting to me because I never once felt like “a part of the crowd” moving all at once in one cohesive manner. Strangely. But no matter what, I was still an ant in a skyscraper, built for the purpose of funneling workers in and out, daily.

Streets are lined with people, people who want to move, move, move.

This was last summer by the way. I never spent so much time pondering my physical location on this planet, as I did during the summer. I’d take the elevator up 36 flights, sit in a room with my esteemed colleagues, and enter a different brain world. Every once in a while, I’d step outside the building in the middle of the day to make a phone call or catch a breath of fresh air (that high up, you realize, there’s no actual “fresh” air entering your lungs anymore, just recycled) and take note of the surroundings. I’d sit on the stoop of an old historical building nearby, and watch the amount of stress that people carried in their furrowed brows and lips.

I don’t think La Roux had my experience in mind necessarily when this song was conceived. But I think that’s why I love this song so much. On one hand, there’s a literal interpretation. The association that we have with “working downtown” and how it is potentially a place for only a specific type of personality. A certain mold that one fits into. Not always true, but still. I recently used this song in a playlist that I put together, and left it as the ending song. The playlist, themed after the trials and tribulations of love/relationships, ended with this song because I thought despite its fun and catchy sound, the word “uptight” in the title, really stuck out like a sore thumb. And it spoke to so many different types of people. We use it to describe people that we can’t necessarily connect with sometimes, I know I have. Or, within the context of my playlist, the way a person might transform after the demise of a relationship. An unknowing, difficult to associate with human who you once knew in one context, suffering from the shake-ups of an equilibrium, now quaked.

I hope when you dance to this song, that you let it get into your bones. Allow it to permeate the cobwebs of areas once forgotten in your mind, blindly dancing into the night with a new consciousness for that which you may not necessarily relate to. Unwind.

La Roux – Uptight Downtown

Categories
Mixtape Music

Et Musique Pour Tous Presents: Les Auteurs — Ashley Hefnawy

We love the trials and tribulations of relationships. If you’re a regular reader of EMPT, you probably already know that. We love love. It’s a complex, difficult, struggling aspect of life, and yet, it’s so easy to rant about. I personally appreciate it because I am not currently in love. Because of that, I geekily analyze every song that even mentions love. All of it is intriguing to me, the beginning, the plot line, the plateau, and the eventual decline. In some rare instances, we find ourselves in situations of “everlasting love.” If you’re in one of those situations at the moment, then you have that extra level of faith that it will continue for you, and you know that it will never falter, no matter your circumstances. I believe I’ve experienced a love like that with people in my life, not necessarily intimate, and I cherish that.

So when Indie Shuffle came to us and asked us to build a themed playlist, I relished the notion of creating a themed playlist that could be about anything I wanted. For the record, every fabulous EMPT writer will have the chance to put together and publish a playlist using Indie Shuffle’s “collections” — which is basically, internet technology that allows you to make playlists and share them with others on your blogs. It’s a beautiful thing.

In this first edition, you’ll notice that the song titles are particularly specific to certain levels of a relationship. The beginning, for me at least, is the friendship that you don’t realize, is turning into something more. It’s the surprise, the moment you go to one of your friends and question, “Is it possible that he likes me? He’s been hitting me up a lot more than usual lately, I honestly thought we were just friends…But he’s so sweet.” Without even realizing, things begin to fall into your lap, and all of a sudden, you’re in blissful love. You stare at each other in parks as if there’s no one around; you know every fleck of brown and orange and yellow in their green/blue eyes. Your heart is on the verge of heart attack every time an intimate moment occurs. It’s easyOne day you wake up and your world is dictated by someone else — how did this happen? You’re so New York City independent, you foxy woman, you. You have your own life, your own friends, and your own weekend plans — but all of a sudden, you don’t. You want to know what they’re doing before you even know what you’re doing. And that scares the shit out of you, causing to look at life with a fearful eye — you’re afraid. And you tell them. But they respond with fear, too, and you both embrace it. If you’re going to fall into this hole, you’re going to fall down together. So you bask in this lavish glory, one of you treats the other like a precious diamond and you go out to expensive dinners and wear expensive shoes. Your life is suddenly wild and you have no idea how it happened.

And then one day you wake up next to this person and you don’t even know who they are. Life’s caught up to you and you’re disgusted by yourself. Or, alternatively, they have that realization about you. Either way, you just wish things could stay like they were before. You want to go back to the park on the water, where you both admitted fear and love all at once. Where you cried because it was overwhelming. You want them to stay. And like that, you’re attempting to move on. It’s over and you’re trying to heal your heart, trying to heal the universe that’s been built around you. You want to get better, but you don’t know how. So you numb the pain. And it turns you into this uptight alternate version of yourself. Or sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes, it just makes you into this seemingly carefree human, devoid of emotion, wanting to “experience it all.” You’re trying to embody the idea of a twenty-something.

But deep deep down, you know the environment in which your heart belongs. You just don’t know who should hold it.

This mix is for the love-missers. Hell, I know I miss it. Yeah, I love different people in my life. I allow that emotion to embody different moments of my days, and sometimes, I’m so overwhelmed by it, that I cry. But I never cry in the way that I do when I’m in love with just one person in just one way. And that’s what I miss. I think we all miss that.

Without further ado, please enjoy this first edition of Les Auteurs. And thank you, Indie Shuffle, for giving us this awesome opportunity to tell a story with a playlist.

Categories
Music Remixes

Electric Guest – The Bait (Shlohmo Remix)

There’s a certain quality to Shlohmo’s music that seems to combat all the hype I’ve been hearing lately about this young man. We all know the formula at this point: a younger artist with an original sound, one who pushes boundaries and isn’t afraid to create a sound not heard before. Every time I read about something this dude does on the internet, it’s a crazy whirlwind of descriptive language and vibes.

That’s kind of how the live show was in Brooklyn earlier this week. Music Hall of Williamsburg housed some of New York’s mellowest electro lovers on a warm Wednesday evening, myself included. He entered the stage in a faux fog, with neon designs cast in the backdrop and a elaborate stage set up that made him appear like a dreary god-like figure. It was surreal. The beats and sounds to come only made the entire experience even more strange, in the best possible way.

Each song intertwined relatively seamlessly with the last, not because he transitioned between each song, like Little Dragon does in their live shows, but because he played mostly remixes. Electric Guest and Lianne La Havas made memorable sonic cameos. A younger crowd was easy to please with sultry beats and slowed down tempos, but not so quick to recognize this particular track that I picked out from the set. Or maybe it wasn’t because they were young — I sometimes forget that not everybody is on the same nerdy level of music appreciation that I am.

Despite the slowed down atmosphere, I felt literally moved by the music. The bass. The dropped down vocals. I let it all flow through as it produced natural movement, that I then put back into the universe. I think about that a lot though — why more people aren’t comfortable allowing themselves to move freely to music. I think people don’t realize that their movement, the way they process and internalize music, is so important to the atmosphere, because it makes not only the artist aware of their success or failure on stage, but it gives others something to feed off of. I saw The Knife last week, and found myself at one point, amidst a crowd of stoic, unmoving individuals. It made me so upset. Why would anyone come to see The Knife and just stand still the entire time? Not a question for me to answer. After we moved to a different area, I realized that as my friends and I started moving more, the people around us had no choice but to move with us, or move out of the way.

The takeaway: if you feel something, let people know. Show ’em what your body can do.

Electric Guest – The Bait (Shlohmo Remix)

Categories
Music

Idriss Chebak & Yoann Feynman – Fallin’

I’m so fascinated by the obsession we seem to have with escaping from wherever we are. When I first heard this song, I was not only taken by its slow build and beautiful melodies, but by the amount of songs I’ve heard with this title. “Fallin'” to me is ever present and consistently something that I think about. I’m not sure why, but I’m even more fascinated by the club culture that breeds chaos in a controlled setting. Yes, I’m talking about orchestrated chaos. But I’ve talked about that idea far too much — what I’m interested in is the desire to fall out of sync with the present. To escape the moment. I’m completely taken by the cliche that we sometimes give the idea of remaining present and how it’s almost cool to escape; to fall into another world. We see this every single day: our constant living for the weekend mentality, our overworked brains, our need to obliterate our bodies with alcohol and drug consumption.

I thought about this especially tonight as I attended a show by myself, and found myself judging the people in front of me for being completely drunk. I don’t typically judge people for their drinking behaviors, but what I was more fascinated by was how throughout the entirety of the show, each person had managed to buy at least one drink for another person — nobody had bought their own drinks all night. It was kind of beautiful, but then it got me thinking: is it our mission to get everybody on the same level as us, in a situation like that? If that’s the case, alcohol does seem like the easiest way to get there.

This isn’t to say that I don’t take part in my fair share of escapism. We all do, I think, because it’s part of our nature. Because we understand the banalities of everyday life and sometimes, that makes us sad. But why not embrace that sadness for a moment and let it get into your soul — not your brain. Let it fuel you.

This isn’t about discouraging you from traveling to other lands. It’s not an attempt to dampen your exploring heart. It’s about embracing whatever it is you decide and allowing yourself to stand still in whatever transition you make. If you choose to fall, let it be at your own discretion. And if you need a song to listen to while falling, let it be this one.

Idris Chebak & Yoann Feynman – Fallin’

Categories
Music

Delicate Steve – Flyin’ High

More often than not, we find ourselves in situations where we end up taking our bodies for granted. Our minds tell us to take in as much as we can — whether it’s food, work, art, exercise, sex, social media, alcohol or any of the other hundreds of things we interact with. And I’m definitely guilty of that, too from time to time. But I think as conscious individuals, we deserve the right to be conscious of not only our minds, but our own bodies and what their limits are.

I thought about this today as I listened to this song that I haven’t been able to stop listening to since last weekend. I saw these fine gentlemen perform at a festive-Easter show last Sunday in Brooklyn, and haven’t been able to cut myself off from their music. They performed after Dustin Wong of Ponytail and I couldn’t think of a more serendipitous marriage of musical individuals on one roster. The only thing more perfect than that night is the collaboration of these two musicians on this track.

There are so many layers to this one song. It builds and builds until your heart can’t take it anymore, and then they drop you off at the top of a mountain, letting you take in the view of the vast and breathtaking surroundings. There’s nothing for you to interact with for hundreds of miles. You are alone with that which came before you — mountains, earth, snowy peaks, ethereal tree tops — that’s existed for longer than your brain can realistically comprehend.

That wall of sound is monstrous.

I never ever feel like I’m taking in too much music. I think that’s what makes us at EMPT a special kind of human. We’re not afraid to over indulge in this particular indulgence. Never do I find myself saying, “Man, I need to take it easy on the music intake this week.” Think about that for a minute — this is the only true thing that exists on our planet that doesn’t kill us if we take in too much. I mean, maybe, if you really break it down and get all analytical, yeah. Going to too many shows and not wearing earplugs, and drinking too much, may potentially harm your ears and body in a long lasting way. But I mean music alone — without all the other stuff that is situational. You could sit in your house and listen to music all day long, every single day, and your only crime would be perhaps playing it too loudly if you start to really feel it.

I like to think of how this song plays in my head, the brain activity that’s going on right now as I listen to it for the hundredth time. If you were to take a CAT scan of my brain right now, you’d see vibrant reds, oranges, greens, blues, violets, and a steady dancing interaction between all of the colors. They’re trying to imitate sound waves. The reds are in the front of my brain for a moment, and then they jump to the back as if they’re a part of a West African dance routine. And isn’t that exactly what dance and physical body movement is? A visceral reaction to the activity going on inside our minds?

Life’s pretty spectacular. Take a moment to allow yourself at least this one indulgence that runs you no risk besides supreme pleasure. Happy Sunday, and thank you so much to both Delicate Steve and Dustin Wong for the magical birth of this track.

Delicate Steve – Flyin’ High

Categories
Music Remixes

Mapei – Don’t Wait (The Driver Edit)

Cyrus wrote a post earlier this week about living in extremes, and I can’t help but feel like there’s something in the air that’s making us all somehow exist on the same wavelength in this month. It might be the Spring weather that teased us last weekend in New York, the following weeklong headache that ensued thanks to a mid-week snow storm, or the strangely synced up astrological patterns of April. Whatever it is, I’ve been thinking non-stop about my fluctuation of moods. I couldn’t put my finger on it all week, and I eventually broke down in tears for no reason only to realize shortly after that I was so thankful for that breakdown. Whatever it was that this week had in store for me was building up to one moment and it was all going to be okay, whatever that moment was. This week, I experienced a range of emotions including extreme anger, and total sadness, then utter and uninhibited joy. And all of these things came together to make me realize that I was not only successfully going through the motions of life, but that I was doing so passionately.

Living in extremes is incredible. It’s something that requires skill and courage. But give yourself some credit for your ability to go through the trials and tribulations of life, because we don’t always need to numb it down and neutralize our brains. We’re capable of experiencing the full array of pitches that come our way — it’s just a question of whether or not we actually want to. But not wanting to means not wanting to live and fully participate, so what’s the other option? This city is a treasure chest of discovery every single day, and while it’s easy to get frustrated about the fact that one may not always meet the right people who are on the same levels of energy at any given point, it’s truly something worth relishing once found. It makes that discovery truly treasure, and if there is a connection to be had, that connection is all the more powerful.

I think that’s why this song fits in with this week. It’s a Friday jam with Monday’s sensitivity. The original track was one that played over and over in my house when my roommate and I first heard it, and this edit only amps up the original quality in a way that truly transcends. The slight beat change matches almost too well to make it quite literally, the perfect edit. If you look up The Driver on Google though, you won’t find much. He’s relatively new, based out of SF. After having spoken to him and having the pleasure of knowing that we’re both musical obsessors, I can assure you that he will be cranking out more music and more of a social presence on the internet in the coming months. In the meantime, let this sensual tune help you experience and find an emotion perhaps you were too scared to experience earlier this week. Once found, promise that you’ll just go with it.

Maipei – Don’t Wait (The Driver Edit)

Categories
Music

Todd Terje – Delorean Dynamite

I’ve been listening to this one Todd Terje track nonstop for the past two weeks. When I walk down the street, I assume everybody else knows that I’m listening to this song because of the way I’m half dancing half walking, and because it matches almost every mood I’m ever in while walking the streets. But seriously, when was the last time you listened to a song riddled in synths that sounded this magical?

In high school (and to this day) a friend and I would always pick apart songs that had jazzy arpeggios. We’d sit in his attic bedroom and talk about songs with inadvertent arpeggios and sing along with them while using our fingers to kind of skip along with each note in the air. Coincidentally, we’re both string instrument players — he plays the cello, I play the violin. Since then, I’ve always paid attention and had a secret crush on unique chord progressions in songs. Arpeggios, key changes, slides between notes…all of that, tickles my classically trained musical brain. And I love it even more when it comes to my attention when I’m not expecting it. Aka, this song.

There’s another song like that: “Harlem” by Bill Withers. You guys know what I’m talking about. The key change that won’t stop climbing. (Do yourself a favor and actually watch that live recording, it’s soul shaking good.) Anyways, if Todd Terje can make me think of Bill Withers (and that’s not a direct comparison because lord knows the two could not be more different, musically), then I’m a happy woman. Because I love both of these music makers. In “Delorean Dynamite,” It’s not only the meticulous attention to where each note goes and what role it plays in the melody of the track, but the new elements that are introduced with each “verse.” I use quotations because there aren’t literal verses in this track, but I’d definitely argue that there are parts. The waves of an electronic story begin with a low, slowly climb to a medium, return to a low, rise to a climax, then back to a medium, and then another climax. That ultimate climax is where all of the elements introduced in each bit earlier come together, almost like the final act before the end of a play.

I’m obligated to inform you all that this is off Todd Terje’s first album ever. That’s right. Our homie has managed to create a name for himself over the course of the past ten or so years, having never released an album. The album is aptly titled, It’s Album Time. Self awareness is a hugely admirable quality in any musician, and I am truly grateful that he realized that it was, indeed, album time. This may be one of my favorite electronic records of the year. The transcendent melodic story that’s told over the course of these tracks is historical and tough to refuse. But I won’t get into the technicalities of the album — that’s for another post on another day. Today, you’re traveling through multiple galaxies in alternate universes, and this is the song that plays on your spaceship. Cheers to that.

Todd Terje – Delorean Dynamite

Categories
Music

tUnE-yArDs – Water Fountain

This song. Is. ALIVE.

I am physically charged, up to my max every time I play this song. Since yesterday, I haven’t been able to stop. I have so many thoughts and feelings about Merrill Garbus, her music, her beauty, the sounds that she and her band mates are capable of creating. So many thoughts. But I can’t really formulate them at the moment because I can’t stop swaying and shaking my head, thrashing my hair in every direction, and above all else, smiling.

I hate to say that I called this, but I did. If you remember, in 2011 I wrote a post (as a writer, I’m allowed to be critical of my work and I’m going to be critical when I say, that post was so excited about everything that I may have used the word “amazing” one too many times. I regret nothing.) about seeing tUnE-yArDs live on the Hudson Pier. There was a full moon and the air was thick with New York City summer, but I remember thinking, “These guys are going to be huge.” And secretly, I didn’t want to think that. I didn’t want them to get huge. I had a selfish moment, and even considered not writing about them, even though I said I would. I wanted to keep them in my pocket, a secret dance and hop-scotch band inspired by sounds from all over the world.

So here’s my attempt. tUnE-yArDs comes to us after a near freezing season of cold hearts and grayness, here in New York, and this track is a beating heart that lives on outside of its body. Notice how bright and full of life the music is in this song (and most of the group’s songs in general). And then there’s this duality in the wordplay and lyrics. Two different messages going on at once, hoping to provoke not only mindless movement but analysis and attention to detail.

So listen to the words I say, baby
Say give me your head
I’ll barely going round and round and round
Now I’m in your bed
How did I get ahead?
Whoop!
Your, your finger through my hair
Finger through my hair
Give me your chest
Give me oppress
I’ll give a thing to caress
Wouldya wouldya wouldya listen to the words I say?

Over a Diwali Riddim beat, this song demands your attention because of how summertime-playing-double-dutch-in-the-park happy and full of bounce it is. It shields the subject matter darkness of violence with a mask of color and flavor. This is a song you can taste. Bubble-gum, kiwis, mangoes, a clementine that you share with your best friend on the stoop outside your house in the middle of a hot day in July. It’s waking up numb after a night of giggles and bubbles, not speaking, and breaking out into a dance party at noon when you have a never ending list of work to do. It’s honest and uninhibited movement that you can’t explain; your brain takes a backseat and you just move.

Tactile.

Feel it in your bones and hit repeat, unashamed.

tUnE-yArDs – Water Fountain

Categories
Music

Seinabo Sey – Younger

I love songs that ask questions and linger in my head. It’s only fitting that this song found its way to my ears at the end of one week and beginning of another — literally. It’s one in the morning, the freshness of a new week on my horizon, yet last week lingers over my head like a mysterious house guest. This song painted a picture in my head immediately, and somehow managed intertwine itself with my life’s thoughts. The positively piercing vocals of Seinabo Sey scribed themselves to the inner walls of my ears and brain, and within moments, I was transfixed. I’d heard this song previously, I think as a remix by Kygo, but never the original, and I felt physically moved by the musicality and sonic adventure that I found myself embarking on. There’s a duality that I’m always in search of — one that exists in perfect equilibrium and forces me to sit at my computer at one in the morning on a Sunday, just as I think I’m about to go to bed, and crank out a post — because that duality is the perfect blend of music and lyric. It sounds cliche, but you know what? Cliches are rooted in next level emotions and feelings, too real to communicate, and because it’s so hard to translate those emotions and feelings into words and proper descriptors, we give them these blanket terms that are supposed to, you know, do the job.

They don’t.

There is a light to all this darkness, I will tell you this
There’s redemption in you asking them just why it is
Some answers are better left unspoken when you know you ain’t getting any
Younger, younger, younger
Are you?”

This set of words went in one ear and painted a mural inside the walls of my curly haired head, danced for a while as I smiled and reflected on the notion of youth and youngness. Just earlier tonight, I had discussed my twenties with someone over the telephone, in which we both agreed that these were years better spent in search of self. That means embodying selfishness, welcoming it, allowing it to take hold of yourself, because during no other decade of your life is it known and excusable. Isn’t that silly? You can try, in your thirties, but it will feel tiring, particularly because it’s less talked about, particularly in our society. You can do whatever you want, but there’s always going to be more people in your life married with babies in your thirties, than in your twenties. All I ever hear from other twenty somethings is, “I feel” and “I think” and “Sometimes you make me feel” and it’s amazing. Because it’s okay to feel. But think of it this way — you spend your baby years discovering. You spend your teenage years understanding. And your twenties? You discover and understand all at once. And you learn. That’s the beauty, because there are so many different things going on at the same time, for the first time in your life and for the first time for many of you, in your independent life, that it’s only natural to be selfish.

So the next time you think, man, I should have my sh*t together and get grown, remember. You ain’t getting any younger. And now is the time to discover and remember that life is equal parts answer and equal parts mystery.

Seinabo Sey – Younger

Categories
Music Remixes

Naughty Boy feat. Wiz Khalifa & Ella Eyre – Think About It (TWRK Remix)

The new year has brought an onslaught of goodness and balance. Which means a terrific force of both good and bad. I spent the first day of 2014 in a combination of different exercise modes. I exercised my love for food by attending a brunch that has become tradition with one of my best friends; I physically exercised with an hour and a half yoga class that really set my head straight. I think it was during that class that I started thinking about balance even more than I usually do, perhaps because the instructor kept talking about how painful positions make the not painful ones so much more intense and full of emotion. And isn’t that what we strive for? The most intense experience of happiness?

I also danced a little bit by myself at some point in that day. I dance pretty much every day, but it’s always important for me to start the day (or year, in this instance) off with a little bit of dance to myself. I love this banger of a tune because it’s not about being in the club and needing to be in that moment with those people, it’s about busting a move wherever you may be. This song makes me feel sexy. Sure, it’s sexy on it’s own sort of, but it’s more high energy than sexy. Somewhere in the translation, it places the sexy onto the listener.

Here’s to a balanced 2014.

Naughty Boy feat. Wiz Khalifa & Ella Eyre – Think About It (TWRK Remix)