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Posts Tagged ‘Le Guess Who?

Guest Mixtape: Greg Fox (USA/RVNG Intl)

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Using the drums as his main outlet, Greg Fox is a multi-instrumentalist, interdisciplinary artist, and teacher based in New York. Attaching sensors to his acoustic drum kit, Fox triggers sequenced synth lines to add melodic textures to his expressive percussion style. Combined with polyrhythmic virtuosity, this new method allow Fox to articulate himself within the post-free jazz manner. The results are audible on his exhilarating full-length ‘The Gradual Progression’.


To coincide with this month’s eagerly-anticipated Greg Fox Quadrinity European live dates, we are delighted to present an exclusive guest mix by the New York-based, world-renowned drummer and composer Greg Fox.

Greg Fox Quadrinity tour begins this Sunday 11 November:

November 11, 2018 – Le Guess Who? – Utrecht, NL
November 13, 2018 – The Workmans Club – Dublin, IR
November 14, 2018 – Kings Place – London, UK
November 15, 2018 – Jazz Jantar – Gdansk, PL


Written by admin

November 9, 2018 at 10:36 pm

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.



‘Ela Stiles’ is out now on Bedroom Sucks Records



Written by markcarry

October 28, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Something’s Going On: Le Guess Who?

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Come wander the canals and streets of beautiful Utrecht and be immersed in the best of independent music as the city’s prized Le Guess Who festival makes its eagerly awaited return. Utrecht, Holland provides the dream backdrop for a host of awe-inspiring music, from the legendary Australian trio Dirty Three to the songwriting queen, Sharon Van Etten. Over the course of four days, from Thursday November 29th to Sunday 2nd December, intimate performances will grace the centuries old, university town. The heart of independent music is happening right in the heart of the city for the sixth time, having started in 2007.

Words: Mark Carry, Design: Craig Carry

Last night, the opening festival performance of Colin Stetson sparked amazement and inspiration to all those fortunate to be present. Stetson’s avant jazz has been celebrated and universally acclaimed by the entire international music community. Stetson’s solo saxophone compositions are performed in single takes with no overdubs, which in this advanced age of technology, is something truly special to witness. His music defies both genre boundaries and the physical boundaries of what one person can sonically create without resorting to the aids of technology. I recently interviewed German composer Nils Frahm and while discussing his favourite music, he likened hearing Colin Stetson’s solo saxophone to discovering ‘Music For 18 Musicians’ by Steve Reich for the first time. Is there higher praise possible? Mr. Stetson kicked off Le Guess Who? last night, epitomising the sheer quality and multitude of compelling artists that this unique festival attracts.

Tomorrow night Dirty Three will transcend the centuries-old city of Utrecht, with their unrivaled intensity of emotion-filled instrumental music.  I was fortunate to recently see Dirty Three in concert last Friday night in Dublin. It was amazing to witness Ellis, Turner and White in person. Almost mythical, almost an impossibility. Their sound was just so beautiful as it poured through the space and up to the rafters. Ellis is one of those rare iconic figures. A conductor. Jim White’s drums were incredible. To hear the range of sounds and harmonies rising from his very touch of hand. Mick Turner’s guitars were awash in soul and exhaled a spectrum of emotions. Undeniably this year’s highlight of Le Guess Who? and a must-see for Thursday night’s festival. The band have released one of their finest works to date, earlier this year with ‘Toward The Low Sun’. A stunning masterpiece from a band whose recordings and live performances forever illuminate and inspire.

Friday night sees Julianna Barwick perform her unique ambient choral-pop creations. Last year, Julianna Barwick’s gorgeous album, ‘The Magic Place’ flooded the sound clouds with its healing tones and blissed out ambient soundscapes. Barwick’s looped vocal harmonies evoke a church choir with wordless harmonies, where fragments of sound combine to form the loveliest of intricate patterns. As the title suggests, Julianna Barwick’s music is indeed magic. Furthermore, the cinematic journey of Barwick’s unique sound is full of hope, joy and solace. ‘The Magic Place’ has been one of my most cherished albums from last year, together with Julia Holter’s ‘Ekstasis’ of this year, who like Barwick, conjures up an otherworldly dreamscape of wonder and beauty. The chance to witness Julianna Barwick’s live performance is one not to miss out on. This year, Barwick unleashed her wonderful collaborative project of OMBRE. OMBRE is a new musical collaboration between Julianna Barwick and Helado Negro. Their album ‘Believe You Me’ was released earlier in 2012 on the wonderful Asthmatic Kitty label. Barwick’s clean, soaring harmonies and church choir sensibilities merge effortlessly with Negro’s rustic-Latin-psyche-folk. It’s an album full of hazy sunshine pop fused with drone ambient wrapped in warmth and beauty.

A seamless array of indie music giants grace Friday’s stage. Liverpool-based indie-rock band Clinic will summon their post-punk noise revival to the masses, following their recently released, seventh studio album ‘Free Reign’. Baltimore’s Lower Dens, led by Jana Hunter, are a must-see band. Their latest album ‘Nootropics’ is a milestone of 2012 and beyond, in its interstellar sonic journey. Lush future pop (the single ‘Propogation’), hypnotic krautrock infused rhythms (‘Brains’), swirling meditative hymns (‘Lamb’) are meticulously crafted. Lyrically, the album deals with transhumanism and feelings about technology. The Baltimore collective have made an ambitious work which exceeds on every level. Cincinnati’s finest and recent City Slang signings, Why? will bring their inventive blend of hip-hop and sunshine pop harmonies to Le Guess Who? on Friday. Other acts on this good Friday are headliners Deerhoof, Mathew Dear and Fuck Buttons, who should all be pencilled in to the timetable schedule!

Saturday is all about one person, and that person’s name is Tim Hecker. The Montreal based electronic musician is at the forefront of contemporary music. His ‘Dropped Pianos’ record is one of my most cherished albums with its cinematic soundscapes and drifting piano notes. This album in addition to its companion ‘Ravedeath 1972’, showcases Hecker’s gift for minimalist composition. The live performance of Tim Hecker’s richly textured ambient music is a vital and must-see performance. The magic of this great composer cascades down on the heart of Saturday night in Utrecht. You do not want to be anywhere else.

Sunday night belongs to Brooklyn-based, American singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten. Her third studio album ‘Tramp’, released in January, stands as one of the finest records of 2012. ‘Tramp’ is one of those very special records that resonates powerfully to all those who hear it. Van Etten’s songs come from a real place, where I feel the beautiful weight of words and music flow endlessly throughout. The album was produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner and features her friends Julianna Barwick, Zach Condon (Beirut), and members of Wye Oak and The Antlers. Importantly, it is the unique voice of Sharon Van Etten that lies at the heart of her empowering music. Utterly inspirational.

Also on Sunday night is the Irish singer-songwriter Adrian Crowley. A national treasure. His latest album ‘I See Three Birds Flying’ is a true awakening of the senses. Crowley’s lyrics are sheer poetry. The string arrangements are divine. Crowley’s peerless baritone immerses you into a deeply contemplative listening experience. ‘I See Three Birds Flying’ is timeless, in the truest sense that captivates the heart. This enchanting album is Crowley’s strongest to date, and is a fitting addition to a rich body of work.

Indie kings DIIV bring their atmospheric indie-pop masterpieces to Le Guess Who? on this closing night. Their debut album ‘Oshin’ is filled with beautiful atmospheric guitar pop soundscapes. ‘How Long Have You Known?’ is one of the year’s standout songs. ‘Oshin’ is one of my most played records of 2012, and to witness Z. Cole Smith and co. live on the closing night will be very special indeed.

Le Guess Who? Festival allows you to explore the heart of independent music, right in the beating heart of Holland.

Le Guess Who? happens on Thursday Nov 29th, Friday 30th November, Saturday 1st December and Sunday 2nd December in Utrecht, Holland.

Written by admin

November 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm