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Interview with Michelle Joy of Cannons

 Michelle Joy of Cannons (April 11, 2022)

Interview by: Lee Ackerley

 

It's been a pretty wild run through pandemic. Your band seemed to go through a metamorphosis that transformed your life completely!

 

It's felt really crazy, yeah, because before the pandemic and everything, our biggest show was probably 200 people or something, and we also didn't have the hip fire for you yet. So it was a little crazy once everything started opening back up to be thrown into, Lollapalooza was our first show. So it's thousands of people. And then we've been on this crazy festival run. We played so many festivals. I can't even keep up with how many festivals we've played, and then first big opening tour and then headline tour. So we have been on this Cannon's mission that has been so exciting and so much fun, but a lot to take in, I think.

 

How do you prepare for your first headlining tour?

 

Yeah. So it's all been like a learning process because it's all super new to all of us. But we definitely did learn a lot on that opening floor and learn things that happened super helpful. Even just spending the time every single night to figure out what we like in our ears, because in ears are a new thing for me that I've had to get used to, which now I'm used to, I love it. I can perform a lot better since I've become comfortable with things like in ears, knowing how to schedule my day so I have like energy to do these. It's 75 minute, eight minute sets at 10:00 PM or whatever. It's been just been trying to get this routine going where I eat healthy on tour. I haven't been able to exercise much of this tour, but I feel like I'm exercising every single night. So I have my routine and we've got our awesome tour bus this time, which makes it a lot easier. Because before we were driving in a band and it was hard.

 

 I know that you were a runner in college and you've mentioned that's your first passion. Has that complimented what you're doing with Cannons in some way?. How is running part of your life now?

 

 So that's interesting you asked me that, because our last show, or was it two nights ago in Houston, brought me back to this whole, the part of myself that I've been separated from for a while, because growing up, my dad was a professional track coach and his dream was for me to be in the Olympics and he trained Olympians and one of them actually lived with us when I was in high school and I trained with him and he was kind of like my brother, but he's two gold medals, three bronze medals. So he came to his first concert ever, which was our show in Houston. He's never been to a concert.

 

And I haven't seen him in 10 years since my dad passed away. So it was such a really cool moment because I felt like for the first time I felt my dad was in the room since, yeah. He was kind of his dad too or whatever, but it's been really cool because tour has been able to bring all these different parts of myself from the past and stuff together just by visiting all these different cities. I've been able to meet people that I would've never been able to meet in my family or my past, but yeah, they're running. I was even talking to him about it and it's really helping me be able to do these sets and sing and dance and do this every single night almost.

 

You're very active on stage. It definitely seems like you’d need stamina to do that every night.

 

Yeah. Because I heard that people gain a bunch of weight on tour and just eat crappy food and all this stuff. But I feel like I keep getting more in shape because I'm dancing, I'm on this. I usually only want to eat salads and pretty healthy stuff because I don't want to feel sluggish. When I'm at the show it is like a race that I'm running. I want to do a good job and I want everyone to have a good time. So I keep my energy on point and pace myself with my day. And that's kind of something that I definitely learned to do, being an athlete because I also ran for in college for Florida state. And my whole childhood with everything was just like athletics.

 

At Florida state you have talked about like there's a club there that you'd see new bands and that kind of opened your world, you up. Was that college experience your first entry point into music?

 

Yeah. Kind of. So I'd say two entry points is in high school, my high school had their own radio station and I took radio for a class, even though it was a whole radio station that broadcasted in South Florida, we got to program the music and take home the CDs and everything so I could listen to whatever. And so that exposed me to a lot of music that I would've never been exposed to if I wasn't part of radio.

 

Yes. And then in college, Florida state had club down under and all the shows were free, and they were right next to my dorm area, and in the evenings, I just always go and sit in the back couch usually and just check out new bands. And it was really fun for me because it just, yeah, that just opened up my musical expanse or something. I just found a lot of cool bands that I would've never been exposed to before and we had a cool, a really awesome booking agent for that venue that is still my friend till this day and now she books a lot of bands in Los Angeles that are pretty neat and...

 

Yeah. So she had really good taste and it's close me down into lot of cool bands and is working with, I'm not sure what you would call, the genre.

 

What would you call Cannons genre of music?

 

I don't know.

 

Intimate dream pop lounge?

 

Yeah. I don't know.

 

Lounge disco?

 

We've gotten lots of different names for it.

 

I'm sure it's aggravating and some of them are just ridiculous.

 

Well the guys, I guess the guys don't like when they hear future boogie, at least, I don't know. Charles Ryan says that, yeah, he doesn't like the word boogie. I don't know. But people like to mix it in there.

 

Technology has been integral to Cannons journey; Craigslist brought you together, Soundcloud  validated your early tracks and Netflix broadcasted your music to a wide audience. But it sounds like it all unfolded organically?

 

Yeah. It's been an interesting journey too, because even the first couple songs I worked on with the guys, we never even met up, we just emailed back and forth and wrote music without meeting up, which is why working during the pandemic and when everything shut down, a lot of artists were worried about not being able to go to studios and not being able to meet up with all their songwriters or whatever. But it didn't phase us at all because we continued to do things. I mean, a lot of the time now, we meet up, we used to live in the same apartment complex for a while too. But at least during that time when nobody was seeing each other, we were still writing songs and songs that are on this album.

 

 

If Cannons did a side project featuring a different music genre, what could you see all three of you playing?

 

With all three of us? I don't know. There's so many different avenues that we all allow each other to explore, but it always comes back to sounding like Cannons, in some way. I don't know if that makes sense, for example, things like “Purple song”. I feel like that sounds nothing like the other songs on the album, but I'm like, my dad was from Trinidad and my uncle, he's the music director for the biggest steel drum orchestra in the world. So I was like, I need at least some kind Island bug, steel drum here. So then Paul's like, right, let me think about it. And then came up with that really awesome production for that.

 

And it works on the album. Yeah. I mean it blends right in. And you wrote fire for you out of a breakup is ruthless specifically landing on a person in your life or.

 

Well, not for me specifically. So with ruthless, I'm not sure how much you should tell you. I don't like when people that are close to me, my friends or family are not treated well by others. So that song came from someone close to me.

Starting a relationship with someone that was total, not a good person and me kind of being upset about it, them getting hurt and putting myself in their shoes and feeling like there was no other way to express that anger than just being like, fuck you. Because when you're off and you're dealing with people in those situations, that's just what you're saying. Yeah.

 

I know Harry Styles, had heard some of it, and you guys covered him on the latest covers album. Has anybody else reached out specifically that you found important or inspiring?

 

Tiesto reached out. He was a huge fan of Fire. So he ended up remixing that.  That wasn't like a label being like, we're going to go pay Tiesto a bunch of money to do this. He reached out, he was like, I want to remix this song.

Yeah. There's a lot of people that have reached out to us on Instagram and DM us.

Oh yeah. Cat Power. I love cat power. She loves Cannons. Then there's bands that like the guys listen to that I haven't really listened to too much of, but grew up listening to that have reached out. Who is the lead singer of AFI? Loves Cannons and have been DMing, I haven't listened to POD, but I remember Paul's been DMing with him and he came to our show.

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The Deli ATX's Almost-Comprehensive Curation of SXSW 2022 Showcases

 SXSW is upon us.

And for all the "activation events," free drinks, networking opportunities and NFT nonsense filling up space and time in this year's schedule, those of us who know and love and have desperately missed SXSW know what this magical week-and-a-half is really about.

And that's music. Music filling every corner of this funky little city, pouring out of every venue and parking garage and empty street corner and pothole. Music of all flavors and varieties, from all over the world, for every one of us. Music as it was meant to be heard: loud, overwhelming, unstoppable.

If there's anything bad about SXSW — and there really, really isn't — it's that there's just too much music. I know — I can't believe I'm saying those words either. But SXSW is the ultimate conundrum for those of us who want to see it all, who want to be everywhere, who want to hear every single band in excruciating detail. It's simply impossible.

But that's why we're here: to save you some time and trouble, and to make sure that you use every minute wisely. We've done the leg work, so you can put your mind at ease, and let your ears (and legs) pick up the slack.

We have our favorite musicians soon to come, but for now, it's our pleasure to publish a not-quite-comprehensive list of the best music showcases (some official, many not) blessing this town from March 12th-20th. Check out some tunes, pencil in some possibilities, and find us on the dance-floor. We'll be easy to spot: wherever someone is skanking, moshing, popping, locking, dropping a little too hard — that's where we'll be.

Flip through the airtable below, follow some links, RSVP to everything and enjoy the infinite possibilities that await. A little hint — click "View larger version" in the bottom left-hand corner to browse more comfortably. And shoot us a follow at https://www.instagram.com/thedelimag.atx/ to stay up to date on where we are, what we're most excited for, and where the best bands are going next.

Let's get a little weird together.  

|




Deli(cacies): Our Favorite 2021 Tracks, Straight Outta ATX

Is it too late for an end of year list? Maybe! Who cares! We’re two years into a pandemic! Time is a construct! Music is forever! God is dead and we have killed him!

As it so often does, music offered us something special in 2021: a sorely-needed respite from a dark and often dismal period in human history. As I look back, now fully a quarter of the way into an also-pretty-shitty 2022, I barely remember the personal disappointments, political frustrations, or painful realities the year brought. I just remember the music.

 
Because 2021 was a good year for music (though I will gladly and violently contest anyone who says that there has ever been a bad year for music. You just weren’t looking hard enough). But it was a particularly good year for local music. The songs below are true (deli)cacies that filled my year with hope and meaning and sometimes the simple comfort of good, clean fun. Here's hoping they bring the same to you.

Check out our top 10 below, then head over to Spotify to check out the full playlist of our local favorites from 2021.  

 #10 Slow Down by David Shabani

 

On the stand-out track from his mellow and melodic album Shabani’s Smooth Sounds of Summer, David Shabani urges his listeners and a frantic world to “Slow Down” and soak in the sunshine. A soothing French vocal sample skates over a warm, vaguely aquatic instrumental, inviting listeners to sink into serenity, before velvet vocals wash over us like ocean skim — comfortable, comforting, familiar. 

Charismatic and captivating, with addictive cadences that occasionally evoke Kid Cudi and Theophilus London, David Shabani has refined a sound and aesthetic that appeal to mainstream sensibilities without bending backwards to them. I'm excited to enjoy his journey as he channels that innate polish and charisma into a more substantive, meaningful release.

#9 Count Of by fuvk:

 

One of the budding lofi movement’s finest and most forlorn artists, fuvk is quietly creating pop jewels from the comfort of her bedroom. Though her latest album twentytwenty is occasionally cheerful, even buoyant, “Count Of” is filled with regret and reverberation, a lethal injection of youthful melancholy both universal and inescapable.  

 

The track is a masterclass in minimalism, all the more stunning for its simplicity. Crestfallen chords echo hollowly in a cavern of empty space. Almost-jaded lyrics (“i’ll give you to the count of five to say goodbye/i won’t let you change my mind”) ring with the crushing realization of love’s inevitable end. But, despite it all, fuvk refuses to surrender. Despite it all — the futility of clasping ephemeral love furiously to your chest as it dissolves between your fingers, the impossibility of fighting against a foregone conclusion — fuvk clings to a fundamental belief: belief in love that will redeem all the agony. Belief that all of this was worth it. Belief in better things to come. 

 

#8 Paranoid by The Teeta

 

 

Floating precariously over a sinister walkway of skittering snares and menacing keys, The Teeta delivers a drugged-out tirade against the corruptions of a monotonous and unforgiving world. His off-kilter cadences sway woozily downstream, not so much following the beat as being dragged along by it — a branch caught in the currents.

That’s a particularly apt metaphor given the emotions The Teeta pours into his microphone for the track’s relentless two minutes. “Paranoid” is the cathartic release Tony Soprano craved, chased, and so desperately needed: a cascade of anger, apathy and unbridled vulnerability. One lonely, tormented verse sprawls between two furious choruses, a frantic exercise in free-association that reveals a paranoid and introspective conscience craving penance (“We make mistakes in this life, give me a chance to pay it forward”) and liberation (“Lot on my mind, I just want to be free”). 

 

The track fades into oblivion feeling unfinished, denied the satisfaction of resolution. But that’s intentional. In The Teeta’s world, it’s necessary. “Cause when it’s over, it’s just over, we gotta get going” — whether in music, in life, or in death. 

 

#7 Don’t Resist by jaytea

 

 

One of the finest feelings in life is hearing amazing new music. Another is sharing that new music with your friends, and family, and the people pulled up next to you at a stoplight in their shitty souped-up Subaru, and the neighbors in the next door apartment who smile and wave but are definitely the ones putting post-it notes under your door asking you to “stop smoking weed” or “put clothes on when you’re watering your plants outside.” 

 

But nothing, and I mean nothing, feels quite so electric as discovering new music. That doesn’t mean listening to whichever nepotistic byproduct paid to get play on your streaming service of choice. It means keeping your ears open to exciting new songs wherever they exist. It means staying up til the wee hours of the morning, running only on whiskey fumes and taki dust, as you chase that adrenaline rush shared exclusively by crate diggers and archaeologists.

 

That’s what I felt like when, in between a blur of noise rock and ambient krautrock and jungle rave, I stumbled into “Don’t Resist” during a deep dive into #austin’s recent additions on Bandcamp. I felt like my digging had unearthed not just treasure, but something new. Something truly unique.

 

The track itself is a wonderful restrained chillhop interpretation and expression of the frustration shared by an entire generation of young people being overstimulated to the point of numbness. jaytea’s upbeat “lofi pop” is lush and hypnotic and interesting — but it’s also “just” a loop. There’s excitement. There’s beauty. There’s rhythm.  But it never really goes anywhere — there’s no development, no evolution.

 

But that’s because that’s the way life feels right now, for a lot more of us than I think we sometimes care to admit. It’s just a loop — an engaging one, to be sure, full of responsibilities and small excitements and bad news and notifications. But it all feels so repetitive, so mundane, so constant, to the point that even the joyful things in life just seem a little bit more muted.

 

That state of being constantly worn down, dulled by constant distraction and dominated in small (but also absolutely massive) everyday ways, sits at the heart of “Don’t Resist.” Those words arrive verbatim during one of jaytea’s subdued verses, but they express what every one of us is asked to do, every day, by the powers that be. Bombarded by bad news, we are asked not to resist or get angry, so we distract ourselves to numb the anger (“Staring at a screen to keep my rage in check”). In the face of oppressive persecution via police and the prison system, we’re told to sit down, shut up and not resist being incarcerated, confined, treated as something less than human. Promised agency in the “land of opportunity,” we are coerced by capitalism to “find a low wage” and “keep [our] hopes in line.”

 

But there are times in the song —during the chorus, especially, before that easy, familiar beat kicks in and a sedated verse lulls us back to the status quo. —  where jaytea’s rage and resentment bubble to the surface. These moments feel urgent. They feel hopeful and energetic and expressive. They feel like a revelation: that despite who we’re expected to be — or perhaps because we’re expected to be that — none of us can just sit back and “be a good boy.” Not this time.


#6 Freedom Comes by Clarence James

 

A dogged declaration of optimism and faith, “Freedom Comes” stands in stark contrast to The Teeta’s turbulent “Paranoid.” He exists in the same fucked-up world, make no mistake. That world is decried in the song’s impassioned intro: “Their hatred is so strong because they know, if we were to ever separate and and start to love each other, this place would fall over night.”

But it’s also a world Clarence James is determined to protect and preserve. His message of perseverent faith is a call to action (“Don’t let them police your soul, if we unite then we’ll grow” and “Keep on fighting when the fight gets old”) and an affirmation of all that is good in the world — of a world that is good in and of itself (We’ll be alright, yes I know. You tell me different, well I know it ain’t so”). His insistent assurances buzz over a fuzzy, cheerful backdrop, strolling a mellow march to the promised land.

But Clarence James is not entirely content trusting in the eventual destiny of decency. The final thirty seconds of “Freedom Comes” delivers a magical moment of urgency and passion, and perhaps my favorite musical moment of the year: a velvety beat switch creating space for the gifted guitarist to layer Buckethead-esque riffs underneath one final resounding revelation: “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me: no fear!”


#5 Diggy Dah by Riders Against the Storm

Booming with boastful exuberance and delivered with the playful swagger of T-Pain at his blustering best, “Diggy Dah” breathes new life into the gravelly, menacing horn synths that rattled carframes and defined TNGHT’s two-year (2013-2014) domination of early trap music. The track is a thunderous and thoroughly-deserved victory lap for the acclaimed husband-and-wife superduo who have shaped the local hip-hop community for nearly a decade, and who constantly represent their city with style and aplomb.


Saluting RAS Day (August 29) with a city-wide festival devoted to music’s magical alchemy. Stepping onto global stages with truly mythical figures from hip-hop’s pantheon: Erykah Badu, George Clinton, Yasiin Bey. Creating spaces of truly radical joy for their communities, in their communities. From their platform, Riders Against the Storm champion collective healing: through music, through movement, through the intimacy of the everyday. From their pulpit, they preach peace, love, and liberation.


So, no matter how long their moment may be (and long may it continue!), they deserve to seize it, and enjoy it, and celebrate it. And that’s what “Diggy Dah” is: a celebration of life and the power it gives us. A celebration of hip-hop as culture and community. A celebration of celebration itself. 

 

#4 ‘Til This Pain Goes Away by Jackie Venson

 

Some musicians sing with the voice of the people. Every syllable, every strum rings universal, reverberating truth.


Others distill that shared reality into something more personal, more painful, and in some ways more pure. Each song is a shard of the self, sculpted and sharpened with surgical sincerity. The pain is venomous, virulent, but their voice is only their own. 


Jackie Venson, somehow, does it all. She narrows the scope of the cosmos until all that remains is the self. She expands the scope of the self until it envelops the entire universe. She shreds with swashbuckling style and absolute sincerity. 


That radical vulnerability brings profound, aching depth to the bluesy battle hymn “‘Til This Pain Goes Away.” We feel her frustration as texture, coarse and caustic against our skin. We see the striations of her sorrow on the insides of our eyelids. We taste her cold, bitter realization that  “the world don’t cherish truth” and “there seems no limit for the depth of human hate.”


But it does something else, too. It creates connection. It awakens a sense of solidarity. Her pain becomes our own, because it has always been our own. Her vulnerability becomes our own, because it reveals our depths as well. And her complete, unflinching conviction — that she ”will not be fooled, shall not be moved,” that she will “be the proof that love conquers blues” — becomes our own too.


Because if the self is universal, if the universe can be contained in the self, then self-affirmation becomes about so much more than you or me. It becomes about us. It becomes about everything we can do, everything we can accomplish. Everything we can be. 


#3 Into the Fire by Brother Thunder 

I’m gonna say this once, and only once, to get it the fuck out of the way: Black Pumas don’t own their “rock and soul” sound, and they aren’t the only kickass band in this city.

Yes, Brother Thunder shares a similar soulful sensibility, punched up with a splash of good-old-fashioned rocanrol and psychedelic undertones. Yes, their lead singer sings with a gritty gravitas that almost feels familiar. Yes, it probably sucks that their debut EP arrived under the radar of the now-iconic local act’s spectacular breakout season.


But Brother Thunder are their own wonderful, weird entity. Call them Rodman to the Pumas’ Jordan, Rip Hamilton to their Chauncey Billups. And call me crazy if you want, but “Into the Fire” packs a more meaningful punch than anything the Pumas have released to date. 


The track hits like a sonic blast of Barton’ Springs frigid water. After a short, stuttering entrance — not unlike those timid steps we all take when approaching the pool’s blue opal surface — we plunge into the deep end. A wall of solid sound — electric jolts of jerky guitar, a crash of cymbals — meets us, shocking the system into action. 


And, make no mistake, “Into the Fire” is a song of action. It craves it. It demands it: the action of introspection, of asking yourself the tough questions that we sometimes think we can go through life without addressing: “Are you who you wanna be? Are you just the same? Is your mind made up with things? Or is it empty space?” 


At times, it feels like Brother Thunder has unearthed its answers and found them liberated and liberating. At others, those paralyzing questions come back, niggling and nagging, threatening to drag us down with our fears and doubts.


But, as with all things, the answer lies in the question itself. Through soaring, searching meditation — through the urgent act of embracing discomfort and stepping into the fire’s cleansing agony — we begin healing. We are reborn.


#2 Blame It on the Water by Sir Woman


Joyful, jazzy, full of playful piano runs and the woozy bounce of ‘80s synths, “Blame It on the Water” is a testament to the magic of movement. Not movement for a purpose, or to a destination, but movement for the sake of movement. Movement because it feels good: to dance, to swing, to boogie, to nod your head and waggle your finger and smile a wide, heartfelt smile.


That’s all Sir Woman wants: to feel good, and to make us feel good. That’s the overriding message of “Blame it on the Water,” after all: do what makes you feel good. Lilting vocals bubbling to the surface in buoyant bursts, radiant frontwoman Kelsey Wilson urges us to feel good through the simple joy of movement.


Dance with delightful abandon. Leave the easy comfort of unspectacular love. Just move, wherever and whenever the rhythm takes you, without a worry for what you might be leaving behind. Water doesn’t feel guilt for flowing. Birds don’t feel shame for leaving the nest. 


Because to move is to live, and to live is to move. And goddamn if Sir Woman ain’t gonna live.


#1 ZOMBiES by Harry Edohoukwa 


Writing this list was easy.


Well, that’s not true. Writing this list was hard as fuck, and has taken far longer and far more of my headspace than I’m proud to admit or would care to do the math for.


But making this list was easy. Sure, some hard decisions had to be made, and there’s a feral pack of disgruntled musicians after me whose songs absolutely deserve to be in this list and probably would be on another day or in another life. But that all happened beneath the clouds, in the masses, below the horizon line of one gleaming, screaming, agonizing black hole of a track that devoured me and my attention this year.


“ZOMBiES” by Harry Edohoukwa is toxic. It’s intoxicating. It’s sonic smog that fills your ears and your face and your body and your soul. The bassline stalks through murky shadows, each footstep crashing against a stark, cavernous emptiness. Metallic flashes of feverish guitar wail in the weeds. Edohoukwa pleads for guidance, for adoration, for salvation, every word drenched in shrieking desperation. He is tortured and tormented, fevering and fervent, touched by the divine before being abandoned to sadistic savageness. He is the rose that grew from the concrete — into an apocalyptic graveyard where to flourish is to be plucked, chewed, drained like marrow.


But despite it all — despite this perverse divine betrayal that promises ecstasy, delivers punishment and teases redemption — he feels chosen. He is paranoid (“Everybody wants a piece of me cause I’m up”) and distrusting (“Zombies looking for life…. So put your hands where I can see them”) and perhaps even unworthy (“I should have died today, all them zombies”), but he feels chosen anyway, 


It’s that hypocrisy that creates Edohoukwa’s cleaving cognitive dissonance. The song crescendos into an agonized, animalistic yelp before clattering, crashing, crunching into chaos. And all that remains is the lonely, haunting refrain of all that’s left in the aftermath of glory: “Zombies.”

 

-Adam Wood





INTERVIEW: THE KNOCKS AT ILLFEST

 Fresh off a nearly three year hiatus from performing in front of audiences, the Knocks arrived in Austin to perform as a funk/dance outlier in an otherwise EDM-dominated lineup at Illfest. The duo comprising the Knocks, Ben ‘B-roc’ Ruttner and James ‘JPatt’ Patterson, were comfortably sipping tequila out of red cups in their backstage camper trying to break into their old pre-show ritual when we sat down with them for a post-pandemic breakdown. The New York based master collaborators spoke on their much-delayed upcoming album, Nu Disco’s resurgence, their Indie-Pop beginnings and why the Knocks might be considered the ‘Nas of Disco’.

 Interview by Lee Ackerley

 

 

It’s good to have you back in Austin!  You came here a lot for SXSW, what do you like doing here?

 

JPatt:

I don't know. I don't think we really have a routine. We just come and kick it, honestly.

B-Roc:

Yeah. Austin, for us, used to be SXSW always, for years.

So a lot of barbecue.

JPatt:

Yeah.

B-Roc:

Yeah. And that's very cliche I feel, but that was the thing, but we miss Southwest.

JPatt:

Seeing the homies.

B-Roc:

Yeah. Now we've got some homies down here. It feels like a lot of people have moved here from places like LA, and New York, and stuff. So we have a lot of transplant friends here.

 B-Roc:

But this is our first festival since COVID, and even before COVID, we hadn't played a festival

 JPatt:

I don't think we've ever played a festival here.

 B-Roc:

In Austin? I don't know. Yeah, other than SXSW

 JPatt:

Other than SXSW.

 

I was going to say, have you guys forgot how to play live? It's been a minute.

 

 B-Roc:

We were just talking about that. It's like our first time on a festival stage. It's been so long.

 JPatt:

We're not going to be playing live though. We're just DJing.

 B-Roc:

Yeah. We're just DJing.

 

So you've had a few DJ sets to tune up, but the tour's this spring.

 

B-Roc:

Yeah.

 JPatt:

Yeah.


Awesome. Is there anybody here that you'd look around that you'd like to see? I know it's not your typical group.

 

B-Roc:

I saw Phantogram was on there, which I really like Phantogram. Besides that, it's a lot of bass music, which is not totally our thing, more heavy stuff. So hopefully we'll stick out a little bit by playing a little bit more funky and groovy stuff. It should be fun. But yeah, we're just excited to just play a festival again. It's been a while.

 JPatt:

Yeah. It just feels good to be back.

 B-Roc:

We were just saying, "We were nervous coming over here and it's like our first time. It's been so long." But then once you're back in the trailer, you've got some tequila, the old feeling comes back.

 JPatt:

Speaking of tequila...

 

You guys mentioned that, at one point, you wanted to be like the Neptunes, and mainly produce artists. If you had remained on that track, who do you think you'd be producing, or who would you want to produce today?

 

B-Roc:

That's a good question.

 JPatt:

Someone that isn't out today. Probably some new artists that were...

 B-Roc:

I don't know. That's a good question. The cool thing is that we started off wanting to do that, be more producers in the room with artists. And then we got sick of that game, because getting into it, it's a lot of following the rules of "All right, we got this thing. We want it to sound like Britney Spears meets fucking whoever/whatever."

 JPatt:

It's a lot of call sheets.

 B-Roc:

And it's a lot of pitching stuff and getting let down, so that kind of turned us to "Let's just make our own shit." And the goal always was, "Let's make our own shit until those people that want pop songs and stuff come to us for the sound that they know from The Knocks," which has finally now been happening, which is cool. We did that Purple Disco song. We got a song with Kungs coming out that we did for him. So a lot of these other electronic artists are coming to us, whether it's a collab, or just helping them with records and more pop stuff. We did the Carly Rae Jepsen song.

 JPatt:

It's a long road.

 B-Roc:

Yeah, but it's now that people... They come to us for us, and not try to get... You and 1000 other producers are going to pitch this song.

 JPatt:

It's a long game, but it's worth it, because now people probably are like, "Oh, we want a song that sounds like that Knocks thing."

 B-Roc:

Yeah. So it worked out for the best for sure, but now we're definitely trying to get back into doing more of that, now that we're getting older, and not trying to tour as much, and just trying to be in the studio more.

 

Are there any unknown artists you discovered during pandemic?

 

B-Roc:

I discovered one, yeah. A girl named Juliana Madrid. She's actually a Texas local. She's from Dallas and she's 20 years old. Insanely talented singer/songwriter chick. So total different vibe, but that kept me very busy.

 JPatt:

I didn't discover anyone.

 B-Roc:

We actually met her in Dallas at a show. She came to a Knocks show, was dragged by her friends and ended up... Found her on Instagram and kept in touch, and now signing a record deal and everything. So it's cool.

 

Awesome. I know you're into jazz fusion. You mentioned you're getting into Tavares during pandemic. Have you geeked out...

 

B-Roc:

You've done your research.

 JPatt:

I think the Tavares version of More Than A Woman's better than the Bee Gee's version.

 

That’s a hot take. So you guys recorded the new album two years ago and you've had two years to just pick at it and go through it. How's that process been different?

 

B-Roc:

It's been nice. It gives you more time to sit on stuff. Usually it would be like, "We got the single out. We got to finish the album and get it done." So you just commit, which is also something to be said about that, but being able to really live with something, not listen to it for three months and then open it back up and be like, "This is great for me, and change this."

 JPatt:

And we got a chance to add new songs.

 B-Roc:

Yeah, last minute we added a couple. I don't know. It kind of makes us want to spend that much time on every album.

 JPatt:

You realize guys like Nas take like seven years to put out an album.

 B-Roc:

Because we're basically Nas.

 JPatt:

Because we're Nas. We're the Nas of disco.

I don't know. Did you guys read that book? Meet Me in the Bathroom? It's all about-

 

B-Roc:

I did, yeah.

 JPatt:

Yeah.

 

If you guys had that group in New York, what groups or artists... I know Neon Gold would be heavily involved.

 

B-Roc:

Totally, yeah.

 

But who would be the interviews in your book?

 

B-Roc:

Oh, that's a good question. We came in at the very tail end of that scene. I remember going to parties and seeing the Interpol guys and shit. But our scene was probably more the Neon Gold scene.

 JPatt:

The Americans.

 B-Roc:

It was a lot of the indie pop stuff, like Ellie Goulding.

 JPatt:

Yeah, Ellie Goulding.

 B-Roc:

Marina and the Diamonds.

 JPatt:

Neon Indian.

 B-Roc:

Yeah, that kind of whole... It was the bloghouse days.

 JPatt:

Or French Horn Rebellion.

 B-Roc:

Bag Raiders.

 JPatt:

Those are still going.

 

They're still going. I read that you're doing a Cannons collab and a Cold War Kids collab.

 

B-Roc:

Yeah.

 

Any other artists that are popping up on the album?

 

B-Roc:

Donna Missal. I don't know if you know her. She's awesome. She's on the next single. Who else we got in there? Another song with Powers, who was on our big song, Classic. And then Tee. That song already came out. I'm trying to think who else? We did a song with a guy from Coin, the band.

 JPatt:

This is our first record without a rap [crosstalk 00:06:18] rap feature.

 B-Roc:

Yeah, we always have a rapper.

 JPatt:

We usually had Method Man, and Cam'ron, and Wyclef.

 B-Roc:

We went back to our roots of more indie dance stuff. We feel like a lot of people right now, between Dua Lipa basically making a new disco album, and Doja Cat, all these people doing disco pop. It's like, "Wait. We've been doing this for 10 years."

 JPatt:

A lot of people are like, "Did you produce the new Dua song?" And we're just-

 B-Roc:

When that Dua song came out, I got so many text messages. So we're like, "Let's go back and do some of this, because this is our bread and butter." And I feel like for a while, we were almost too early on it. People weren't ready for it, and now it's top 40. So now it's like, "Fuck. Now if we put this album out, people are going to think we're chasing."

 JPatt:

It's good that our fans have been fans of us their whole lives, so they're going to know.

 B-Roc:

They're going to know that we're not jumping on the bandwagon.

 JPatt:

They'll educate the rest of the people.

 B-Roc:

But it feels like our first album, in the sense that there's a lot more features and there's a lot of alternative features, which is cool.

 

Nu disco's had waves throughout the years. Would you say there's another renaissance now? Because you mentioned Dua Lipa kind of brought it back with Future Nostalgia.

 

B-Roc:

Yeah, I think that bloggy era is kind of coming back in general. Everything happens I feel like in 10 years, in cycles. But not only just the blog, not the disco stuff even. I think disco's influence and stuff is just always going to be around. It just never goes away.

 JPatt:

Disco is like funk. It's never going to-

 B-Roc:

Yeah, it's very broad. But I do think that whole electroclash vibe is coming back. I don't know if you heard that band, Wet Leg.

 JPatt:

A lot of faster-

 B-Roc:

Where it's almost like Peaches or some shit, where it's kind of talky-singy, and punky "yeah, yeah, yeahs" kind of thing, which I love and I'm excited for that. It's like dance rock, which I'm really into, and our Cold War Kids song reminds me of that. It kind of sounds like a Rapture song or something. That was band was a huge one in New York for us.

 JPatt:

Which is still bloghouse. It's not bloghouse. It's blog-era.

 B-Roc:

Yeah. It was just that era of stuff that didn't play on the radio, but was still big, and you had to know about it to know about it.

 

When you guys first started out, you were playing in a band for a guy named Samuel.

 

B-Roc:

Oh, wow. You went deep.


Whatever happened to Samuel? Didnt he help the Knocks get started.

 

B-Roc:

He's in Mexico.

 JPatt:

He's in Guatemala.

 B-Roc:

Guatemala, sorry. Yeah. He was actually staying at my house a couple months ago.

 JPatt:

Just chilling. Same old fucking Sam.

 B-Roc:

Yeah, he doesn't make music anymore, but he's actually a tattoo artist and visual artist.

 JPatt:

Same old fucking Sam.

 B-Roc:

One of the oldest, and we owe a lot to him.

 JPatt:

Yeah, he's the man.

 B-Roc:

Finding him inspired us to lean into the pop music stuff and get better as producers, so it kind of broke up stuff. And it was our first time dealing with a major label. I was his manager when I was like 19 years old. We got him signed to Columbia Records. We had no idea what we were fucking doing. We went to LA and we're like, "We made it!" And then he got dropped. So it was a great learning experience, the whole thing. It kind of prepared us for our career I think. Not to belittle his, but…


Absolutely. Is there anything about touring that you guys absolutely hate that you're not looking forward to?

 

B-Roc:

I love that question. I could go on for a day.

 JPatt:

Well, there's touring and then there’s touring.

 B-Roc:

I have a dog now, so it's harder. I got a pandemic dog.

 JPatt:

I don't really love being away from home for that long. I don't.

 B-Roc:

We did a three-month-long tour with Justin Bieber.

 JPatt:

I hated it by the end. I was just so sad.

 B-Roc:

It was so long. We were in Europe on a bus for three months.

 JPatt:

It was a long time to be gone.

 B-Roc:

Yeah. But I think home sickness is the worst part. Or the downtime, honestly. It feels like you kill so much time.

 JPatt:

You're not really doing anything.

 B-Roc:

Just sitting around waiting to play a two-hour-long show.

 JPatt:

Then you get to these cities and everyone's like, "Oh, my god. You're so well-traveled." And I'm really not. I've seen every green room in America, but not I've not seen anything else.

 B-Roc:

Yeah, I just sit up my phone all day long, and I watch a lot of TV. So for the last tour, we tried to be a little more productive and I was definitely making way more music on the road, which was the first time doing that. And some good shit came out of it actually, probably. But yeah, the downtime is tough.

 

So you're not writing on the road ever?

 

B-Roc:

Not really. Like I said, the last tour I think was the first time. We started the All About You beat there, which is our Foster The People song. And then I made so much shit that's just sitting on my hard drive. It almost feels like you want to do it to be productive, but it's hard to get in the zone when you're in the back of a bus, freezing, and you have the headphones on, and you're-

 JPatt:

Or you just don't do it. I had my stuff with me here. I was like, "We're going to have a whole day basically before we were going to the fest." I slept all day. I haven't done anything.

 B-Roc: Yeah, a lot of sleeping. You're tired and hungover.

 

And so, how you brought collaborators in for this last album, you just rented a house in LA.

 

B-Roc:

That's how we started, yeah.

 

And it was just, "Drop by if you can make it," or how did you reach out to them or bring them into it?

 

B-Roc:

It was just all over.

 JPatt:

All over. Some homies that we just know from being around, and other people, we'd reach out to their manager.

 B-Roc:

But that was our first time doing it.

 JPatt:

That was our first time doing it like that, though.

 B-Roc:

Yeah. We always would have a studio we'd have to go to and meet them. And it feels weird because it's like, "We've got to break for lunch." When they come to you and you're like in this house, it feels-

 JPatt:

You're kind of just living.

 B-Roc:

Yeah, it feels a little bit more organic. And you can stay all night and you're just working, and wake up in the morning, still working on the song. And it was cool. It was a really good vibe. And it was really fun because we had a couple sessions that we were really looking forward to, which was the TEED session, where you love TEED and we really wanted that to go well. And the Muna session.

 And those were the first two days, and we fucking got both those songs that are now in our album out of those two days. It feels good when you have an idea in your head, how it's going to go, and it actually happens. A lot of times, you put this on the pedestal: "We're going to get with Muna. It's going to like this." And then you don't fucking get it. So it felt good when you're actually in the room with the artist and it works out.

 

Do you think recording in LA influenced the album?

 

B-Roc:

We actually record a lot in LA. It's just so many people out there. I don't know if it influences it.

 JPatt:

I don't personally love LA.

 B-Roc:

I think the only thing that influences is having the house.

 JPatt:

Just having the house.


So your album,New York Narcotic, was recorded in LA?

 

B-Roc:

Yeah, a lot of it actually. That's the irony of that. But now I have a house Upstate, so we're going to be recording a lot more up there, which is nice. So we can kind of do the same process, but do it in New York.


How was working with Sofi Tukker?

B-Roc:

They're in Austin right now.

 

Yeah. So you guys didn't get down to Brazil for the “Brazilian Soul” music video?

 

B-Roc:

No. You heard that story. You read out. Yeah, that was awful. We were at the airport with our bags.

 JPatt:

It was a visa situation.

 B-Roc:

So that was a manager fuck up.

 JPatt:

It was a visa thing. No one told us we needed like six visas.

 B-Roc:

Nobody told us we needed a fucking travel visa. So they were down there, and we were on our way and then couldn't.

 JPatt:

We ended up shooting our part in a Brazilian restaurant.

 B-Roc:

So we shot it at a Brazilian restaurant.

 B-Roc:

Yeah. They're old friends. We go way back. They're actually coming to the after party tonight.

 

Cannons is a band that just had one of their first national tours. Now they have their headlining tour scheduled. How did you link up with them?

 

B-Roc:

That song was completely remote, the pandemic song. So we had the beat and the song started, and we had been trying to work with them because they're so in our vein, cool disco stuff, and that song was all over the radio and I couldn't not hear it. The big one. It was a really easy process. They're super nice. She's a sweetheart and just killed it. Trying to play some more shows with them, because it feels like a good fit.

 

And then last question is just about your side projects, they both came out of pandemic, if you want to talk a little bit them.

 

B-Roc:

Yeah, mine's Holiday87, and it's a lofi electronic thing, a lot of samples. I was really influenced by people like Avalanches and Cowboy Slim, and more that real heavy, sample-based stuff. And I really love really borderline-emo, emotional stuff. So this was like my escape.

And JPatt was doing his thing with his songs. When we were working alone, I'd come and bring some super emo song, and he'd come and bring some really housey things. And we'd be like, "Neither these work for The Knocks." The Knocks thing, we really wanted to hone in on "We're going to make this indie-disco stuff. This is the sound."

 JPatt:

We have a sound now.

 B-Roc:

We used to try to make it fit.

 JPatt:

We started off as just "Oh, whatever sounds good."

 B-Roc:

Anything we make is a Knocks song. And then we learned the hard way that that doesn't always... You've got to kind of stick to your thing. So this is a great way. We started our own label and we're able to just get that release of "I want to go make some weird fucking six-minute-long downbeat song."

 JPatt:

My shit's James Patterson.

 B-Roc:

And he can make his heavy bangers that are a little bit more... Not as funk.

 JPatt:

It's a little more heavy than the Knocks, but it's just more DJ music. I guess a good reference would be Moody Men or Frankie Knuckles, those kinds of guys. It's not grow house. It's not tech house.

 JPatt:

There's real instruments in it, but it's feels more classic house.

 B-Roc:

Yeah. It's just nice. It really feels good to have a place for that stuff to live now.

JPatt:

Yeah.

 

What's the new label called?

 

JPatt:

Blacklight.


Awesome. Well, thanks so much for your time, guys. I'm looking forward to the show.

 

B-Roc:

Thank you, man. Great questions. It was nice to talk to someone who read up on things. It's like, "How did you get your name?"

 

Photo Credit: Grace Dupuy

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There’s No Escape from FOREBODE’s Pit of Suffering

Immaculate production howls underneath tightly-woven riffs. Fuzz-laden guitars keep time with plodding and full-bodied drums, creating tracks that are dark and heavy, yet still cozy in that uniquely doom and sludge metal way. The music’s density consumes you (not unlike the figure on the album cover). Like a black hole, it swallows you. 

Opener “Metal Slug” winds a path between groovy, mid paced riffs and slowed-down passages. Even at their slowest, the band’s sonic textures are mesmerizing. Death growls reverberate over  thunderous drums in “Devil’s Due,” before the guitar and bass return to rip the track into a gaping sonic chasm. The song eventually breaks down, leaving behind only a haunting, wailing, sparse guitar solo floating over the rubble, before resolving in a few measures of brooding, chugging sludginess.

The titular track begins with an intimate, semi-atmospheric interlude reminiscent of maudlin of the Well or Kayo Dot. Black metal-style vocals are shrieked over the most vast and cinematic song on the album as FOREBODE shifts into their lowest gear, pounding the listener with measured, low tempo riffage and calling back intermittently to the song’s intro. The guitar solo on this track soars, piercing through a low, sludgy foliage of sound lurking underneath. The song feels like a small odyssey, the listener swallowed by the tides of a thrashing and unforgiving sea towards the titular abyss. 

The fourth and final track provides a redemption of sorts (or at least a respite) rom that pit. The music rides high, faster-paced than the sprawling cut preceding it, with tinges of more traditional metal. This is until the halfway point, where the tempo picks up considerably, and a shift to tremolo picking gives the listener surprising flickers of black metal. With The Pit of Suffering, FOREBODE transport the listener to another, darker place in four cathartic tracks, free of the more tedious indulgences to which sludge metal is prone. It is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of release that should be a treat for any doom or sludge listener.

- Tín Rodriguez 

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