FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Ela Stiles

Step Right Up: Ela Stiles

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Interview with Ela Stiles.

“People’s imperfections and vulnerabilities to me are the most beautiful parts, also when the emotion of someone’s voice comes through you can tell when it’s real or not.”

—Ela Stiles

Words: Mark Carry

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Earlier this year marked the debut solo release of Sydney-based singer-songwriter Ela Stiles on the Australian independent label Bedroom Sucks (who celebrate their fifth anniversary this year). The gifted musician has been integral to the Sydney independent music scene these past few years (as a driving force in Melbourne outfit Bushwalking, releasing two records with the band, and as a member of indie favourites, Songs, amongst others).

The exceptional debut record forged by Stiles is composed entirely of a-cappella performances, where her solo voice captures an intensity and raw beauty that few could summon with an array of instruments at their disposal. The musical compositions are reminiscent of New York-based composer, Julianna Barwick and her scintillating looped choral patterns. The album opener ‘Kumbh Mela’ is one such song to leave you utterly dumbfounded. Based on different vocal patterns, both melodic and rhythmic, the sublime creation conjures up the timeless sound of folk music and traditional African sounds.

The gorgeous acoustic guitar-based folk lament, ‘Misplaced Charity’ is a timeless folk gem featured on the brand new ‘5 Years of Bedroom Suck Records’ compilation containing a plethora of indie gems and lo-fi classics in the form of Blank Realm, Scraps, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, Full Ugly and a host of other exclusive and rare gems.

This November, Ela Stiles embarks on a solo European tour, which includes dates in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, and culminating in Utrecht’s inaugural Le Guess Who festival. For full tour dates see HERE.

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Interview with Ela Stiles.

Congratulations Ela on your truly beautiful solo record, a collection of breath-taking a-cappella performances that never ceases to amaze the listener. Can you please discuss this particular project, Ela and the new direction of having your voice as the solo instrument?  

Ela Stiles: I have always loved singing, I think I am better at it than playing any other instrument and had been thinking of making a solo album for a few years. I’m not sure I remember where the idea first came from but probably from listening to folk stuff in particular some acapella songs by Anne Briggs. To be honest I think one of the main reasons I made it an acapella record was because I wanted to do something entirely on my own, I have always collaborated with people in the past and wanted to know that I could write an album on my own and perform the songs with my own voice alone, although I do incorporate guitars into my live shows as well now.

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The album opener ‘Kumbh Mela’ is such a beautiful and moving piece of music, reminiscent of Julianna Barwick’s recordings. I would love to gain an insight into the song’s narrative please, Ela? ‘Kumbh Mela’ conjures up the timeless sound of Ethiopian music and age-old traditions of folk music. 

ES: Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river. It is considered to be the largest peaceful gathering in the world. Although I’m not religious, I like the idea of some aspects of religion and how it can affect people in such strange and intense ways – good and bad. This song is a fictional story about the Kumbh Mela that I made up after doing a lot of reading about it and spending a lot of time in India where you see religion in nearly every aspect of life, it was on my mind.

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The album comprises very much of two parts, where the opening section comprises several a-cappella performances and the closing side is one single vocal drone. Please talk me through the recording process of these two parts? Did you envision from the outset the album would be sequenced in this way?

ES: The A side of the record was recorded first with my good friend Jack Farley in Melbourne. I guess these songs are a collection of short more traditional folk songs. I didn’t want to use any effects or too much layering with these ones. I wanted them to sound pure. I liked the idea of being brave and letting one voice sing alone. I think once I had recorded these ones I envisioned that the B side would be different because I had moved past those ideas by then, I wanted to experiment more with vocal drones as I had started to on the A side and also move away from the (mostly) love songs to something deeper I suppose.

I recorded the 11 minute drone myself – it took a long time because I did it all one after the other I didn’t copy and paste or loop or anything, I just created it from scratch and kept adding more and more harmonies and intensities, after that it was run through tape machine. Then I recorded the 3 ‘songs’ over the drone with another friend of mine John Duncan in Sydney.

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You are also a member of the wonderful Melbourne outfit Bushwalking. Please take me back to the band’s beginnings and how you, Nisa Venerosa and Karl Scullin first crossed paths with one another? Is there a new record planned? Also, I imagine the work with Bushwalking served a major source of inspiration for your own solo material?

ES: Bushwalking began when I met Karl at a show in Melbourne in like maybe 2008 or 2009?? He introduced Nisa and I and we all became really close after recording some songs together then decided to become a band. I guess we didn’t really know what the band was going to sound like until maybe mid way through making that first record (First Time). And I guess after playing together for a while we sort of arrived at a sound which is more in tune with the second record (No Enter) but had also sort of evolved from the first one if that makes sense!

I’m not sure if Bushwalking shaped my record or not, people have said that it must have but I don’t really see that so much. A big part of Bushwalking’s sound is Nisa’s and my voices together and the singing is quite precise which I don’t think is the case on my record. I think my voice is kind of all over the place on my album, quite different to how we sing in BW which is very uniform and precise. We have been talking about doing another record yes, but I don’t think realistically we can start jamming again until December. But yeah another record is on the cards at some point I’d say.

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What singers and records were defining for you to become a singer and to write music in the first place? As an integral part to the Sydney independent music scene, what bands and artists are you most obsessed with these days?

ES: I got kind of obsessed with folk and traditional songs before making the record and was I guess influenced by singers like Anne Briggs and Shirley Collins who are the more traditional folk singers and I always liked the acapella songs of theirs and the way they sing. I like singers who have interesting and imperfect voices. That’s why I guess I want to push my voice into a different realm, although I still like those traditional elements of the old folk stuff.

People’s imperfections and vulnerabilities to me are the most beautiful parts, also when the emotion of someone’s voice comes through you can tell when it’s real or not. I am also interested in chanting and eastern music which probably influence my singing style. That’s something that I would like to explore with the next record.

Edith Frost, Verity Susman, Josephine Foster and Nico are a few singers who I love, also obviously Anne Briggs and Shirley Collins as I mentioned above. Its hard to pick Sydney bands cause there are lots of good bands! But I’d say Orion are my new favourite band 🙂 also love Holy Balm, Angie and Knitted Abyss.

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What forthcoming projects do you have on the horizon, Ela? What do you think the sophomore solo record will comprise of?

ES: As well as working on a new solo record, I have been working on an album for the past year or so with Jensen Tjhung who plays in a couple of bands from Melbourne – Lower Plenty and Deaf Wish. We’re hoping to release it mid next year. I have also been playing guitar (and singing a bit) in The Roamin’ Catholics who are a Sydney punk band, we will be recording an album at the end of August which I am really looking forward to! Lastly I am making a record with Max Doyle and Stevie James (both of whom who I used to play in the band ‘Songs’ with) not sure when that will come out but we’ve been working on it for a while!

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This November, Ela Stiles embarks on a solo European tour, which includes dates in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, and culminating in Utrecht’s inaugural Le Guess Who festival. For full tour dates see HERE.

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‘Ela Stiles’ is out now on Bedroom Sucks Records

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http://bedroomsuckrecords.com/artists/ela-stiles/

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Written by markcarry

October 28, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Mixtape: ‘Do Not Wait For Better Times’ [A Fractured Air Mix]

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‘Do Not Wait For Better Times’ [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/do-not-wait-for-better-times-a-fractured-air-mix/

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Tracklisting:

01. The Peep Show ‘Do Not Wait For Better Times’ [Tenth Planet]
02. The Moles ‘Lonely Hearts Get What They Deserve’ [Fire]
03. Craig Leon ‘Nommo’ [RVNG Intl]
04. K. Leimer ‘Lonely Boy’ [RVNG Intl]
05. Sharon Van Etten ‘Break Me’ [Jagjaguwar]
06. Emerald Web ‘Dreamspun’ [Stargate]
07. Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler ‘The White Balloon’ [Thrill Jockey]
08. Amen Dunes ‘Lilac In Hand’ [Sacred Bones]
09. The Necks ‘The Boys III’ [‘The Boys’ OST / Fish Of Milk]
10. Erik K Skodvin ‘Shining, Burning’ [Sonic Pieces]
11. Hildur Guðnadóttir ‘Heyr Himnasmiður’ [Touch]
12. Ela Stiles ‘Anything’ [Fire / Bedroom Suck]
13. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh ‘what what what’ [Diatribe]
14. Margaret Barry ‘She Moved Through the Fair’ (Long Version) [Rounder]
15. Robbie Basho ‘Leaf in the Wind’ [Gnome Life]

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The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

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Fractured Air. The universe is making music all the time.

Mixcloud / Facebook / Twitter

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Ten Mile Stereo

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Ela Stiles ‘S/T’ (Bedroom Suck/Fire)
One of the most stunning debuts this year comes from Sydney’s Ela Stiles and her truly breathtaking self-titled LP. Composed entirely of acapella performances throughout, Side A features a string of six vignettes while Side B’s ‘Drone Transitions’ consists of a single vocal drone (looped through tape machine) creating a startlingly hypnotic and beautifully otherworldly feel throughout. Stiles’s name has been synonymous with numerous bands in her native Australia, including Sydney-based Songs and Melbourne’s Bushwalking. Ela Stiles’s debut solo LP is a thing of such rare beauty, recalling the likes of Julianna Barwick and Grouper,  where a mesmerizing gamut of emotion is gradually and subtly unveiled by Stiles’s mythical voice.

‘Ela Stiles’ is available now on Bedroom Suck (AUS) and Fire (US/UK/EU).

http://bedroomsuckrecords.com
http://www.firerecords.com

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Steve Gunn & Mike Cooper (RVNG Intl)
Pioneering indie label RVNG Intl continue their magnificent FRKWYS imprint series (an unrestricted series pairing contemporary artists with their influential predecessors) with the release of ‘Cantos de Lisboa’, an inspired collaboration between legendary British musician Mike Cooper and US-songwriter and guitarist — formerly of The Violators — Steve Gunn. The setting for the record is Lisbon, where Gunn and Cooper spent lengthy sessions performing together, drawing inspiration from their surroundings and Portugal’s native Fado music tradition.

FRKWYS Vol. 11: Steve Gunn & Mike Cooper ‘Cantos de Lisboa’ will be released on 24 June on RVNG Intl.

http://steve-gunn.com
http://www.cooparia.com
http://igetrvng.com

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Roll The Dice ‘Until Silence’ (Leaf Label)
Stockholm-based duo Roll The Dice unleash their masterful third album ‘Until Silence’ this month via the Leaf label. The album sees a departure for Peder Mannerfelt and Malcolm Pardon where a string section is added to the piano and synthesizer rhythms that fans have been accustomed to from RTD’s stunning predecessors; their self-titled debut and 2011’s ‘In Dust’. This time around, the album’s conceptual framework draws from World War I (whereas their debut LP focused on a pre-industrial landscape, their second drawing from the Industrial Revolution) creating a soul-stirring, lushly cinematic and highly nuanced set of modern-day electronic classics in the process.

‘Until Silence’ is available now on the Leaf label.

http://rollthedicesthlm.com
http://theleaflabel.com

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Hiss Tracts ‘Shortwave Nights’ (Constellation)
Hiss Tracts is the collaborative project between David Bryant (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Set Fire To Flames) and Kevin Doria (Growing, Total Life), who released their latest magnum opus ‘Shortwave Nights’ via the ever-inspiring Montreal-based label Constellation. The resultant collaboration is as magical and intriguing as one would expect from two such hugely talented and unique artists as Bryant and Doria, where a rich world of sonic textures are weaved amidst drone and ambient backdrops obtaining thrillingly new territories in the process.

‘Shortwave Nights’ is available now on Constellation.

http://cstrecords.com

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Arc Iris ‘S/T’ (Bella Union/-Anti)
Arc Iris is the solo project of the multi-talented artist Jocie Adams, formerly of Rhode Island’s The Low Anthem. A singer, multi-instrumentalist, classical composer and former NASA researcher, Adams formed her new rhythm section with Zach Tenorio-Miller (piano), Ray Belli (drums), Max Johnson (bass), Robin Ryczek (cello) and Mike Irwin (trumpet). To date, Arc Iris has already shared the stage with such artists as Calexico, Coco Rosie, Menomena and Patrick Watson.

Arc Iris’s self-titled debut album is available now on Bella Union (UK/EU) and on -Anti (US).

http://arciris.net
http://bellaunion.com
http://www.anti.com

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Scraps ‘Electric Ocean’ (Fire/Bedroom Suck)
Scraps is the alias for Brisbane-based artist Laura Hill, a name long associated with the vibrant Brisbane underground music scene. Hill’s Scraps project draws inspiration from 80’s synth rock and has cited the likes of Kraftwerk, Depeche mode, Gary Numan and Devo as influences. Hill’s set-up is wonderfully minimal; armed by a drum machine, keyboard and synth, Scraps creates modern-day songs of love, loss and regret, recalling the likes of John Maus and Susan Schneider’s The Space Lady. The likes of ‘Electric Ocean’, ‘Flying’ and ‘Gone’ are the kind of songs you feel like you’ve known forever, testament to Hill’s highly impressive talents as both composer and songwriter.

‘Electric Ocean’ is available now on Fire Records (USA/UK/EU) and Bedroom Suck (AUS).

https://www.facebook.com/5CRAP5
http://www.firerecords.com
http://bedroomsuckrecords.com

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Heldon ‘Allez-Téia’ (Superior Viaduct)
‘Allez-Téia’ is the second album by French guitarist Richard Pinhas via his Heldon moniker from 1975. The album’s sheer timelessness is testament to Pinhas’s singular vision and has now been re-issued by Superior Viaduct. Heldon adopts a network of guitars, Mellotron and analog synthesizers to create blissfully otherworldly textures and repetitive, meditative patterns recalling the German Kosmiche movement (Cluster, Harmonia, Michael Rother), post-rock experimentalists such as Jim O’Rourke and modern-day electronic artists such as James Holden and John Hopkins. The re-release of ‘Allez-Téia’ follows on from last year’s re-issue (also via Superior Viaduct) of Heldon’s 1978 LP ‘Interface’.

‘Allez-Téia’ is available now on Superior Viaduct.

http://www.superiorviaduct.com

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Klara Lewis ‘Ett’ (Editions Mego)
One of the greatest discoveries of 2014 so far has come in the form of the spellbinding ‘Ett’, the debut full-length release by Sweden-based artist Klara Lewis. Astonishingly, the album’s ambitious scope and stunningly assembled sonic textures sound as if they could be composed by an artist with decades worth of experience. The album’s sonic pallets are at times stunningly sparse and minimal — recalling the likes of Loscil, Félicia Atkinson or Grouper — and while elsewhere there’s mixtures of found sounds, field recordings and highly charged electronic sections recalling the likes of Tim Hecker or Ben Frost. The entire album was recorded, sampled, edited, manipulated, mixed, produced and arranged by Klara Lewis; a hugely exciting new talent with such a bright future in store.

‘Ett’ is available now on Editions Mego.

http://klaralewis.bandcamp.com
http://editionsmego.com

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John Murry ‘Califorlornia’ (Ruby Works)
Available this June is the hugely anticipated new record by the Oakland, California-based songwriter John Murry. The four-song EP (comprising three new songs plus a stunning rendition of Warren Zevon’s ‘Genius’) is the first release since Murry’s modern-day classic, the truly life-affirming ‘The Graceless Age’ (originally released in 2012 on Bucketful of Brains, it has since been re-issued on various labels worldwide). The EP’s first two songs, ‘Glass Slipper’ and ‘Golden State’ were co-written by longtime friend Chuck Prophet, who also plays guitar on the EP (Joe Doyle of The Frames and The Swell Season and Colin Berwick of Big Country also contribute). Recorded in Australia, ‘Califorlornia’ (named by Murry’s wife) concludes with the moving ‘Timmy’, the song Murry wrote for and played at Tim Mooney (American Music Club)’s memorial service.

‘Califorlornia’ is available on 13 June via Rubyworks (UK/EU) and June 17 via Evangeline Records (US).

http://www.johnmurry.com
http://www.rubyworks.com

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The Brothers And Sisters ‘Dylan’s Gospel’ (Light In The Attic)
The Brothers and Sisters were a choir of Los Angeles session singers who sung in a gospel style. This collection of much sought-after Dylan covers was originally released in 1969 on Ode Records, produced by Lou Adler, soon to work his magic on Carole King’s seminal LP ‘Tapestry’, and arranged by Gene Page, noted for his work for Motown, the performers were largely unknown, but many went on to find great acclaim. Features such legendary singers as Merry Clayton (best known as Jagger’s sidekick on ‘Gimme Shelter’), Edna Wright of The Honeycones and Gloria Jones who recorded the original version of ‘Tainted Love’ in 1965. Yet another indispensable record from the flawless, visionary label Light In The Attic.

‘Dylan’s Gospel’ is available now on Light In The Attic.

http://lightintheattic.net

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Mixtape: Infinite Stillness [A Fractured Air Mix]

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Infinite Stillness [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/fractured_air/sets/infinitestillness

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01. FaltyDL ‘The Love I Need’ (Vinyl Bonus) [Ninja Tune]
02. Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf ‘Devotion (’92)’ [Stones Throw]
03. Madlib ‘Cue 06’ [Stones Throw]
04. Lee Fields & The Expressions ‘Just Can’t Win’ [Truth & Soul]
05. Edna Gallmon Cooke ‘At The Gate’ [Tompkins Square]
06. Ela Stiles ‘Kumbh Mela’ [Bedroom Suck/Fire]
07. Steve Gunn & Mike Cooper ‘Saudade Do Santos-o-Vehlo’ [RVNG Intl]
08. Cass McCombs ‘There Can Be Only One’ [Domino]
09. The Skygreen Leopards ‘Leave The Family’ [Woodsit]
10. Orcas ‘Infinite Stillness’ [Morr Music]
11. Fennesz ‘Static Kings’ [Editions Mego]
12. Heldon ‘In Wake Of King Fripp (Excerpt)’ [Superior Viaduct]
13. Charcoal Owls ft. Rose Keeler ‘Grace Period’ [NightSchool]
14. Boardwalk ‘I’m To Blame’ (Julia Holter Remix) [Stones Throw/Soundcloud]
15. Julia Holter ‘Hello Stranger’ (Live Recording) [NNA Tapes]
16. K. Leimer ‘Gisella’ [RVNG Intl]
17. Erik K Skodvin ‘Shining, Burning’ [Sonic Pieces]
18. Klara Lewis ‘Shine’ [Editions Mego]
19. Roll The Dice ‘Wherever I Go, Darkness Follows’ [Leaf Label]

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The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

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Fractured Air. The universe is making music all the time.

Mixcloud / Soundcloud

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