Author Archives: Meta

  1. Music: Vizual Noize

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    vizual noizeThe hip-hop MC and visual artist, Vizual Noize, grew up in Yelm, moved to Olympia, and brought his musical talent with him. His alias came “Through meditation called inverted perspective; that was what they called the energy, what you see all around, and it evolved from there to more meaning—audio art and visual art,” said Vizual Noize.

    The hip-hop artist hopes to incorporate his visual art with his music in his live performances. “It’s the goal to have a projector, with selected images that are relevant with the content and music; that would probably be the ultimate way.” His  visual art is “a lot of aerosol art, street art, etcetera.”

    The third element of hip-hop that interests Vizual Noize is the one that brought him into the scene: “Turn tablism… that’s how it all started. I was interested in turn tables, and using them as an instrument. Yeah, so that’s the first thing I got back in high school, was turn tables… I heard about DJ competitions and scratch battles and all that and it was more fascinating to me than the MC battles for some reason.”

    The MC styling of Vizual Noize is something to see. His song “All Aboard” takes you on a musical train to another universe. Think of the journey like riding the Magic School Bus but for hip-hop transcendence rather than for science exploration.

    Each time VizualNoize writes, the process differs. “Writing… it’s pretty therapeutic in that way, you know, kind of helps you sort it out. I feel like I’m writing for, it’s almost no reason. I feel like the reason will come as people will hear it, you know.”

    Vizual Noize loves it when people hear his music. At shows, for him, “The bottom line is, I like to see everyone have a good time. And it’s most rewarding to see the look in their eyes, and their facial expressions, if they’re tuned in and they’re getting something from it… that’s most enjoyable and rewarding and that’s the best outcome that music can do for people—uplift… It’s never expected or anything like that, it’s just great to see that and also maybe strike up a conversation [after the show] about the content that people can relate with, and it’s upward spiral from there.”

    One particularly fantastic conversation Vizual Noize had after a show was with fellow hip-hop artist Crazy Monk. He, and you, will have an opportunity to relive that encounter at the Truth Party Tour 2013, where you can see Vizual Noize with Crazy Monk, listen to Sander Hicks talk about new political activism and economics, and participate in the group yoga led by Kaleidoscope Yoga’s Lo Nathamundi. It all happens at Last Word Books on Friday, May 3rd at 6 PM. ◙

  2. Xero Ours: It’s what they say that’s important

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    xeroAl, Clydewell, and Blake are the rappers in Xero Ours, existing as a trio since 2010. The longtime friends make smooth waves in the music world, whether they perform in their hometown of Olympia or somewhere else in the state. They prefer to make their own beats or get the beats from their friends.

    Clydewell stated, “We don’t get any beats from people we don’t know.”

    Al depicted the beat making process as “trial and error.”

    Clydewell elaborated, “Trial and error, yeah. What sounds good, what doesn’t… just stretching out sounds, compressing sounds.”

    Blake described the music making process: “You kind of take everything around you, whether it be like a sample, or just interactions that you have. It’s kind of like a collage of life, I would say.”

    Al continued, “We don’t really have, like, formulaic. It’s pretty much what someone wants to do… We don’t really put that much into the actual structure, as opposed to the importance, what you’re actually saying. To me, the hip-hop that I like, what’s crucial is what they’re saying. The beat is secondary.”

    Clydewell finished, “Definitely the words are foremost.”

    Some of those words in their tracks include “Don’t point us out because we’re at odds with the universe.” Another track declares, “Walk a fine line between genius and insane.” A third track that is frequently confused has this verse in its chorus: “Dead last, dead fast.”

    Blake asks himself, when creating the words for a Xero Ours track, “Would you say this to your kids?”

    Al says his inspiration is simply “Being alive. Needing to hear the words said because nobody else is saying it.”

    Al explained that for Xero Ours, “The only thing it has in common with hip-hop in the umbrella terminology is syncopated words to drum bass.”

    Xero Ours is different than mainstream hip-hop, as Clyde illustrated. “I think a lot of what’s happening in mainstream hip-hop is part of the colonization tool… because I think it’s one of our most powerful tools of our generation, is our words and our minds. And it’s being diluted in the mainstream.”

    Blake summarized how Xero Ours stands apart, “It’s not radio hip-hop… We only say hip-hop because that’s a big influence.”

    Al carried on the flow, “We don’t have to put up with any stereotypes because we just don’t have to. The point isn’t really to spread it around and get it huge. It’s just that we do it.”

    Another thing that Xero Ours does is interact with the audience by standing in the audience while performing, which I witnessed firsthand at their show at the Midnight Sun in March. ◙

     

    On April 20th, check out Clyde and Blake of Xero Ours at the Track House, at 6pm, for $3.

  3. Arrington de Dionyso channels the impossible

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    video still pressby Kristina Mageau

     

    Meeting with Arrington de Dionyso in person, I expected to be overwhelmed by his creative vision and instead was pleasantly met with a calm sense of purpose and some tea, for Arrington is filled with artistic visions of a utopian future whilst maintaining a presence in the current reality.

    Arrington offers the world something complex and unique with the song titled “I Create in the Broken System,” the second track on the new album Open the Crown, released by his band Malaikat Dan Singa. The album features Arrington’s artwork, illustrating the colorful and uninhibited nature that comes through in the songs. In the aforementioned track, Arrington sings: “Whatchyou going to do with the raging tiger? Drink down the poison… My determination will never break. I create in the broken system… I create in the face of destruction. I create in the face of oppression… Where you going to run from the raging tiger? Don’t run away from the raging tiger… Tear your body all apart, just to put it back again. Break away… Break away from the chains that bind you. Break away from the eyes that blind you. Embrace the tiger deep inside you.”

    The viewers will see a blend of imagery in the “I Create in the Broken System” music video as, among other things, tigers run, people dance, and Arrington excitedly sings. To see this enigmatic video that matches Arrington’s style, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=Muo2frbamKE.

    Arrington’s sound is difficult to describe and understand, albeit not impossible, as he articulated it here: “I think my sound has really come out of the special relationship I have with the realm of imagination… I’ve always been interested in hearing the music that’s in my head and envisioning music that might seem sort of impossible or unlikely in some way, or combining musical influences that would never be combined in that particular way.”

    Even though Arrington loves to collaborate and play with musicians around the world, he receives his inspiration from something else entirely.

    “Again, it’s all about being in touch with that sort of invisible world that may not quite exist in the material realm. You know, being both musically and artistically, these kinds of images and sounds and ideas that I’m working with are coming from… being in touch with a spiritual realm of ideas that maybe aren’t so easy to see in day to day living.”

    In the band, Malaikat Dan Singa, Arrington plays the bass clarinet, shenai, five string guitar, and echoplex, along with vocalizing magic. Nehemiah St. Danger rocks the bass and organ. Markly Morrison works the synthesizer and organ. Hear the quartertone guitar and echoplex wonders from Angelo Spencer. Listen to the rhythmic stylings of Ben Kapp on the drums and bells. ◙

     

    Malaikat Dan Singa perform at The Northern on Thursday, April 4th.

  4. Music: MC Swamptiger

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    Swamptiger      MC Swamptiger spits rhymes of complexity, about philosophy and consciousness, deeper than the mainstream hip-hop MC’s will go.

    He lives on the eastside of Olympia and he explained his transformation in music that is almost as life changing as his move from Louisiana when he was younger. “I started making music when I was like 13, originally, just crappy hip-hop. I had two boom boxes and a mixer and we’d just play Wu-Tang [Clan] beats and record over on another tape.

    “I made music for about nine years, and then I took a little bit of a step back for a while and just focused on work [at Fish Tale] and then came back and started doing the MC Swamptiger project and that’s been… a lot different than stuff I did in the past. The subject matter, it seems like I’ve grown a lot more than what I did when I was younger.”

    Being able to take on a bigger role with making music means a lot to MC Swamptiger, as he adds, “This is the first time I’ve been able to be involved in the production aspect of my music. It makes everything flow a little better when you can have complete control of what you’re doing, and, like, find the samples that you want.”

    Just how does he make music? It’s all a journey, “Because the song that you just heard [Johnny 8ball], that’s actually made in a really cool way that’s distinct and I’ve never seen anyone else do it, which I’m sure someone else out there has done it, they’re just… Essentially what I’m doing is, I’ll find a sample. For Johnny 8ball, the sample is ‘Armagideon’ by The Clash… I cut three pieces from that with my loop pedal and I’ll just add those in time. And then, I’ll beat box under it and hand instruments and stuff that I use at home like my calumbe, and my shakers and my sleigh bells are all used in that song as well. But it’s, it’s just a really cool way to start from traditional… essence of hip-hop… That’s what I’m working on right now, is six songs, for my mix tape, which is called ‘Rare Forms.’ It’s all going to be produced by Smoke of Old Dominion.”

    Come see the lyric stylings of MC Swamptiger, along with other hip-hop friends, on Friday, March 29 at the Urban Onion. He just might bust out some break dancing moves, like you see here in this picture taken by his girlfriend, Emily McGuire. Every show of his is unique, so sometimes he adds some break dancing and other times you’ll just focus on the existential lyrics blowing your mind. ◙

     

    More at www.facebook.com/McSwamptiger.

     

  5. Music: Them Dogs

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    Nick, Joey, and Tyler comprise Them Dogs, the grunge trio based out of Olympia. Tyler and Nick met through the New Market Skills Center, and were excited to find a great drummer after a slew of bad luck in that department. Tyler met Joey through an ex-girlfriend and was stoked on the awesome skills flying from Joey’s sticks.

    Nick added, “He exceeded our expectations.”

    As the drummer, Joey is unique and he explained why. “I talk a lot.  That’s my thing.  I like to interact with the audience… I just go up there to have fun honestly… I feed off the crowd.”

    Nick continued, “Definitely with live shows, it’s about the stage presence and being able to communicate with the audience, more than making sure you hit every note.  Every one’s just there to have fun… Not that we don’t nail our songs, you know.”

    Tyler told a story from a past show, to give a better picture of what Them Dogs brings to the table. Tyler shared, “I ended up playing the drums, and then Joey shuffled over to the bass. We try to get the crowd involved as much as possible, because I saw a bunch of smiles that night. Miles of smiles.”

    Even though their musical interests vary quite a bit outside of Them Dogs, they all enjoy bonding with the audience.  They also share one musical point of entry.  Tyler said, “We all kind of meet at grunge.”

    Them Dogs mix together grunge and metal with a cleaner, softer sound.  Tyler has the harder vocals down, for almost a growl, whereas Nick brings the softness.  Tyler described Nick: “This guy’s got a soft voice, though. The voice of an angel.”

    Tyler illustrated the range of Them Dogs by going through each of the songs available for listening on their Facebook and ReverbNation sites: “Trick of The Trade’s like my side, New Room’s like Nick’s side, and What am I is just like Joey’s whatever.”

    If you go to their show at the Midnight Sun at 7pm on March 8th, you can buy their LP, which features all 8 of the songs they recorded so far.  They have 21 songs, so they look forward to future opportunities to record music.

    As for Joey’s musical background, Joey talked about the other instruments he played in his past. Outside of drums, Joey said, “I can play a little bit of piano.  I have played violin before. I can play trumpet… harmonica… I can play percussion instruments, obviously. Claves, bongos, African drums… I started on trumpet; drums came later.”

    Joey told the story of how drums came into his life: “Around middle school, I joined my first band. My problem was I played too quietly, so I got to the exact opposite of that.  It got to the point where my cymbals were bent and completely concave from playing so hard, so I had to get new drums. Then, I broke my foot. So, you know, I’ve been on and off for the past few years… I got kicked out of school band.”

    Tyler asked why, so Joey responded, “For playing too loud.”

    Tyler came from a similar background of rowdiness, as he said, “I got kicked out of jazz band for getting in a fight with the teacher, because I played guitar and I wanted to find some band members…”

    Joey summarized, “You got kicked out of jazz band for trying to play a non-jazz song.”

    Tyler has been playing guitar since: “5th grade. But I used to sing since I was like zero because I’d always cry.  And I guess what I do now and then is pretty much the same thing, just whine.  The only difference is now I have a microphone.”

    Nick started playing music in: “4th grade with the recorder… I fucking hated it… I stuffed it with fireworks because I hated it. But anyway, I played viola in sixth grade, but then… on my 15th birthday, I got a bass and then I picked that up. And then I picked up guitar a year later, and pretty much since then I’ve been playing more band-like rock-type music.”

    And rock music is where Them Dogs thrives. Tyler said, “We’re a garage band from Olympia and we just want to jam.”

     

  6. Music: Letzter Geist

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    A21Letzter Geist, the pop rock, grunge, post apocalyptic, industrial, Olympia area band, is comprised of Josh, Ryan, Nathan, and Corey.  Josh is the lead vocalist who also plays the guitar and tambourine.  Ryan is the master of the drums, percussion, and samples for the band. Nathan rocks the bass and handles the backup vocals.  Corey is also on the backup vocals, and he shreds on the guitar.

    The German name, Letzter Geist, “…translates basically to last Spirit, or last ghost… However you want to translate Geist,” Josh explained.

    They all went to Elma High School together, and have been jamming together off and on since then. Nathan started out playing the trumpet in the school band, in middle school, which is where Corey played the saxophone, Ryan played the snare drum, and Josh played the jazz drum. The band now lives in the Olympia area, although Corey is in the only member with an Olympia zip code.  Letzter Geist is spread out between McCleary, Olympia, Aberdeen, and Lacey.

    “For being our hometown, it’s probably one of the places we’ve played the least.” Josh said about Olympia.

    When they play shows, they like to have a good time.  “For one person to remember us, that’s what I would like… For one person to remember us, and say our name right,” Ryan stated.

    The rest of the band agreed that people always incorrectly say Letzter Geist.

    Nathan, the bassist, is the newest member, as he joined just a few months ago. He shared his experience of being in the band. “We’re doing a lot of new stuff that I’ve never done, with the samples and just recording the electronic sounds to go along with us. Time and tempo, everything’s solid.  There are so many more elements to this music than what I’m used to.  It’s fun because there’s just a lot more going on.  It makes me feel like I’m a better musician because I have to actually do more.  Not even necessarily like I’m doing anything super complicated, there’s just a lot of it that’s going on.  You have to pay attention. And it makes the show a lot more fun for me.”

    Listening to “Skeletona,” their first full album, which is tentatively released at an Album Release Show on Friday, March 8th, I noticed the wide range that Nathan mentioned.  The pop rock sound is heard throughout the album, with some power ballads reminiscent of the 80s/90s sprinkled in the middle. Pop punk with a touch of screamo also glided through the album, with industrial bits blended as well.  Gang chanting in a couple songs brought a rush of excitement to the tracks titled “The War Song” and “WWII.”

    “Letzter Geist as a band has only existed for so long, but the idea of Letzter Geist has existed for a while,” Corey responded, when asked why they decided to record their first album at this point.

    Skeletona bursts with depth, which makes sense when Josh elaborated on it. “It’s a concept album, that’s basically a modern day Romeo and Juliet story that takes place during the Cold War.”

    In regards to the new direction Letzter Geist is heading, Corey explained that, “It’s become more poppy, I think… It’s a little bit more industrial than when we first started out, I think.”

    Josh said that Letzter Geist is always trying to grow as a band, “Trying to be able to perform as well live as we do in the studio, that’s a big thing that we like to practice.  I mean, we perform well obviously, but that’s something that we like to try to improve, trying to still… perform our best, despite other variables.”

    As Letzter Geist drifted to new genres, the members listened to new music and tried new styles of playing together.  “I’m not trying to be somebody else, I’m just trying to be someone,” Ryan shared, in terms of their influences and their intentions.

    When they play shows, they love to mix it up by incorporating fun tricks on stage.  “Anyone that’s in a band can play an instrument, so it adds a lot to the show if [Ryan is] throwing his sticks in the air while playing and catches them,” said Nathan.

    If you want to see Letzter Geist play live, the band plays everywhere from the Olympia area to the Seattle area.  “We’re playing at the Voyeur on March 1st,” Corey shared.