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Notes from the Niallist #3: go see SSION live, immediately!
03:36 pm



SSION in Bullett magazine
Surely you’ll know by now that we’re big fans of SSION at Dangerous Minds. The album Bent (which was originally released as a limited edition free download last year) was one of my favorites of 2011. It’s the kind of artful, emotional, electronic dance music that I always wished the Scissor Sisters sounded like, or that Madonna would make instead of chasing Lady Gaga’s crown.

Well, Bent has now been given the full, physical release treatment by Dovecote Records, and SSION are out on tour to promote it this autumn. That means they will soon be coming to a town near YOU and, godammit, I wish I lived in the States so I could catch one of these shows!

As someone whose music I greatly respect and admire, for the third Notes From The Niallist column I caught up with Cody Critcheloe (who, for all intents and purposes, is SSION), to ask him what he has in store for this tour, and how the album promotion is going:

The Niallist: You’ve stated that you plan on producing a video for each track on your album Bent - how is that going? Is there a narrative thread between these videos? I have noticed some slight stylistic similarities.

Cody Critcheloe: That is true, we’ve completed 5 of the 10 videos so far. We’re still waiting to release a few while we are on tour. The wait is killing me! Yes, there is a narrative thread between all of the videos… I’m not sure if everyone will pick up on it and i don’t know if it’s really important that they do… We will see, I guess.

TN: You put out Bent as a limited edition free download last year, and now it is being re-released physically. How do you feel the free download worked in your favor? Or did it?

CC: Well a lot of people are familiar with the songs, they come to shows and sing a long, and that’s cool. I think it worked in my favor for sure. I mean, do people even buy records anymore? i do sometimes but not like i did when i was a kid… I feel like things are on the uprise though, but then again I don’t have anything to compare it to. This is just they way it turned out.

TN: You put a lot of effort into your stage shows - what can we expect from Ssion on this tour? Any secrets you might be willing to give away?

CC: I think a lot of people have seen photos from shows we did 5 or 6 years ago and assume that they are going to get that, or they see the “Clown” video and think that’s who i am and what we do. That’s not the case. iId need some insane funding and the audience to put on shows that big! When we get the opportunity to do a lavish pop show I go all out, but when you’re touring in a van and sometimes playing to 100 people in a basement or dive bar you can’t really do that! And i actually sort of like stripping it down, i like forcing people to have to deal with it on a strictly musical level… For this tour it’s me and a live band, some visual elements but nothing really over the top. It doesn’t seem to bother people who come to the shows either. It’s still good. I’m a good performer and the band is tight. Also, we have House of Ladosha supporting us on the tour, they are my favorite band in NYC. Check them out!

TN: Who are your primary influences as a live performer? And musically and more generally, in terms of art and style which you poses a lot of, who has influenced you to do what you do?

CC: Courtney Love, The Cramps, Prince, Little Richard, Iggy Pop, Madonna, Queen, Sonic Youth, Darby Crash, the B-52s, and a lot more.

TN: Thanks, Cody!

Here’s the latest SSION video, an interview about the upcoming Live & Wet tour:

And here, for your diary, is the full SSION tour date schedule:
Previously on Dangerous Minds:

‘My Love Grows In The Dark’: SSION’s springtime pop perfection

SSION’s ‘Earthquake’ will rock your world

Feeling good 4-evr, it’s another great SSION promo

Getting ‘Bent’ with SSION: an interview with Cody Critcheloe


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Divine & Holly Woodlawn discuss ‘The Neon Woman’, 1979

Here’s something to make up for that Divine interview on The Tube I posted on Monday - a whole thirty minutes of Genn Harris Milstead discussing Divine’s role in the 1979 theater production of The Neon Woman.

The interview is hosted by TV personality Tom Snyder, and also on hand are The Neon Woman‘s director Ron Link and Divine’s co-star (and another stone cold legend of drag/gender-bending and Warhol’s Factory scene) Holly Woodlawn.

There’s still a bit of a naff “wtf?” tone to Snyder’s questioning, but it’s nowhere near as bad as Muriel Grey’s Divine inquisition on The Tube. In fact, Snyder does a decent enough job of eventually getting past his own preconceptions and treating Divine and Woodlawn not as freaks, but as human beings with something interesting and intelligent to say.

This interview was taped for NBC’s Tomorrow show in 1979, and appears on YouTube in three parts. The quality isn’t immaculate, but it’s not terrible either, and it’s just a joy to see these people in the same room together hanging out and shooting the shit:

Divine and Holly Woodlawn on Tomorrow, 1979, part one:

After the jump, parts two and three…
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Divine in highlights form ‘The Neon Woman’ from 1978
Awkward interview with Divine on ‘The Tube’, 1983

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Awkward interview with Divine on ‘The Tube’, 1983

Glenn Harris Milstead, aka Divine
Or to be more precise, here’s a very awkward interview with an out-of-drag Glenn Harris Milstead on the British music television show The Tube, from 1983, which is followed by an excellent performance by Divine of her club hit “Shake It Up.”

While it’s understandable that straight-laced, square TV presenters might not know what to make of Divine (whose very raison d’être was to make people laugh by overturning preconceptions of gender and beauty), you would expect the producers of a supposedly hip, youth-oriented TV show like The Tube to be a bit more switched on.

Instead we get an interview by the bumbling Muriel Grey in which she suggests that Divine is insecure, repulsive, and somehow an affront to women. The hapless Grey comes across as the dullest of squares in this clip, which I guess is a danger to be considered when you go up against a glamor icon like Divine, but unfortunately Grey has previous form in conducting cringe-worthy interviews.

Thankfully, Milstead takes it all in his rather large stride, and reacts with the grace befitting a true star:


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Happy 808 Day, with this excellent Egyptian Lover interview and live set

Today is the eighth of the eighth, the official day to celebrate all things to do with the Roland TR-808 drum machine. And what better way to spend the day than with LA’s own king of the beats, and undisputed pioneer of both the 808 and hip-hop music, the Egyptian Lover.

This in-depth interview, by Redefine Hip-Hop for Fifth Element Online, stretches to 25 minutes over two parts, and covers everything you could possibly want to know about Egyptian Lover, aka Greg Broussard. From the origins of his moniker, to his introduction to the 808, from some of his most memorable productions to his extensive djing background, this covers all bases.

The 808 is a staple of modern music making, as influential a sound source as anything produced by Moog or Arp. I fuckin’ love it, as my Bang The Box mix from a few months back proves. There’s just nothing that compares to those massive kick drums, those sharp snares and that iconic, ringing cowbell. As Greg states in the interview, the 808 is never going to go away, and even Madonna has name dropped the 808 recently, in an attempt to gain some cred.

Of course, Egyptian Lover beat Madonna to rapping about an 808 by almost 30 years, and the great news is that he hasn’t stopped rocking. He’s still touring, and playing to more people than ever, all over the globe, as successive generations get turned on to the 808 sound. He’s a real dj’s dj too, mixing and scratching with original vinyl over his trusty 808’s live rhythms, and of course it wouldn’t be an Egyptian Lover show if he didn’t take to the microphone to deliver his classic raps. Check the 70 minute live recording from last year, after the jump. That, brostep kids, is a REAL dj.

The Egyptian Lover is a legend set in stone!

After the jump, part two of the Egyptian Lover interview, and a live set recorded in Athens last October…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Todd Rundgren talks to DM about his first remix

When the promo for the new single by Norwegian nu-disco maestro Lindstrom dropped into my inbox recently, I was unusually excited. Not just because it was some new sounds from one of the undisputed masters of the genre, but because of these three magic words: “Todd Rundgren Remix.”

At first I thought it was a typo, or a mislabeling - surely they meant it’s a Lindstrom remix of Todd Rundgren? I mean, you can tell Lindstrom is a fan just from listening to his music (it’s all about those stacked synth chords) and besides, Todd doesn’t do remixes… does he?

A little bit more digging around proved that this was no typing error. One of my all-time favorite artists had indeed remixed a song for the first time, and with his usual immaculate taste, Todd had decided to remix a song by one of my favorite dance music producers. Through connections in the extended Rundgren fan network (which is itself an amazing thing, more like a family than mere rock fans) I was able to get some questions to Todd himself.

Dangerous Minds really needs more Todd Rundgren on our pages, so I am glad to share his answers:
You’ve been making music for a long time, but this is your first ever commercially released remix - how did it come about?

I was contacted by Lindstrom’s label. I’ve been making contributions to other artists’ recording projects over the years so it didn’t seem like that unusual a request. I don’t often get asked to be involved in ‘trans-generational’ collaborations, so that was different.

Your music has been a big influence on modern dance producers, but in particular the whole nu-disco/cosmic-disco genre - were you aware of any of those particular artists? And did you hear a musical connection when you listened to Lindstrom’s track?

Since I don’t usually focus on a single genre I don’t think of myself as having a ‘style’. It’s a little odd because in the 70s we thought of ourselves as prog-rock players and that disco was something of a sell-out for artists like Rod Stewart and Blondie. This ‘nu disco’ is a more organic movement, especially the emphasis on the instrumental aspect and lack of lyrics. That does remind me of some of the experimental excursions I’ve taken in the past.

I love how you embrace new music technology (and the new music it can help create). I’m curious to know what sequencing/recording program you’re using, and if you have any recent-ish programs or bits of kit you’re enthusiastic about? For instance, have you used Ableton Live?

I stuck with analog until the mid-Nineties, mostly because I was trying to be thrifty. I used Pro-Tools for about 12 years but finally got fed up with the tempermental and expensive technology and poor support. Recently, I have been an exclusive user of Propellerheads Reason. Since they added recording capabilities I’ve been able to record and mix with my laptop and without any environmental restrictions. I haven’t tried Ableton, mostly because I have yet to do any live mixing.

What are you listening to at the moment? Any music of the last 5 years that floats your boat and you’d recommend for Dangerous Minds’ readers?

I’m a big fan of ‘outsider’ music. It’s not very useful as an influence (at least not right now) but it’s a lot of fun to listen to and takes your mind off the ‘serious’ stuff. I recently downloaded Lorne Greene’s “The Man” and was so amused I decided to work some of it into my solo shows. Now the fans want a whole night of Lorne Greene. The problem with outsider music is that it’s often only one great song in an obscure career of mediocrity.

What’s in the immediate future for Todd Rundgren?* And is there anything more dance music-based, like more remixes or perhaps even dj sets?

It’s been suggested that I take a crack at DJing, and it’s not such a far-fetched idea. In 1993 I toured a record called No World Order and built a system that allowed me to improvise the set each night using a midi controller and a program I devised that would recombine samples on the fly. I had to build that program from scratch using MAX. Now software like Ableton is the prefered way to go, although I have some ideas about how it could be done with Reason.

Thanks, Todd!

Lindstrom’s “Quiet Place To Live (Todd Rundgren Remix)”, released by Smalltown Supersound, is available to buy from Juno Download. You can listen to it right now:

   Lindstrom - Quiet Place To Live (Todd Rundgren remix) by smalltownsupersound
And thanks to Jill Mingo!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Video interview: PJ Harvey discusses her new album ‘Let England Shake’

PJ Harvey talks about her new album Let England Shake on New Musical Express TV.

Harvey explains how politics, Stanley Kubrick, Ken Loach and Harold Pinter have influenced her recent songwriting.

Let England Shake hits the streets on February 15. It’s the most eagerly awaited album, for me, of 2011 so far. The tracks I’ve heard are a return to her peak form of Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. You can buy the CD here.

Part II after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment