Spank Rock

December 9th, 2005 by Paul Irish

dirty bmore club crunk danceshit

A little while ago, Ninja Tune announced: If the future of Big Dada could be summed up in one word, survey says “DURRRTAY”. While before they had the UK hipster hip hop scene covered with Roots Manuva and Ty; now the label is getting some looks for bringing out the bleeding-edge sweaty club sound. Their current roster shines with Philly’s Diplo (who’s been awfully quiet lately), France’s TTC, and Baltimore’s Spank Rock. The xxxplicit “Put That Pussy On Me” spits hot lyrics over a Snoop Dogg vs Beach Boys mash. The just released “Backyard Betty” has tweaky synths chirping over a mile-wide fuzzy bass sine-wave.
“Cutting edge without really caring; phenomenally rude without even meaning to be.

Spank Rock – Put That Pussy On Me
Spank Rock – Backyard Betty
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Marla Hansen

November 4th, 2007 by Julija

indie folk // acoustic

Viola player Marla Hansen appears on Sufjan Stevens and My Brightest Diamond live performances, got to play with Jay-Z and Kanye West, is a member of the string quartet Osso, and occasionally still plays classical music too. Marla likes drinking tea and writing little songs for herself and her viola. One fine day she gathered some friends together, including Sufjan, Shara Worden and Sebastian Krueger of Inlets, and eventually recorded her debut EP Wedding Day, a collection of tranquil lullabies and meditative harmonies.

Quiet songs for quiet people.
Marla Hansen – Shuffle Your Feet
Marla Hansen – Wedding Day
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Aurgasm Live: Priscilla Ahn

February 15th, 2012 by Michelle

singer songwriter // folk

When we first featured Priscilla Ahn back in 2007, she only had a 5-track, independently released EP available. Since then, she got signed to Blue Note Records, released two full length albums and has had her music featured in a number of films and television shows. And last week, she and Charlie Wadhams released a free EP under the moniker Sweet Hearts. She’s been pretty busy! Priscilla was nice enough to take some time to talk with us about making When You Grow Up and played a couple tunes, which we’ve included below!


Priscilla Ahn – “Lost Cause” (Live)


It’s been a few years since your EP and A Good Day came out. For the new album, When You Grow Up, were these all brand new tracks, or were some of these tunes you had written a while back?

Yeah, there’s only one song off the record that I started writing back in the EP days, and that’s “Lost Cause”. Everything else has been written sort of from the last record until now. I named the album “When You Grow Up” because a lot of those were written in a growing period. I took a lot of time to do a lot of reflection and thinking, and I feel like a lot of the songs came out of that.

Can you talk a little about your songwriting process? You’ve got a lot of layers in your songs — vocals, guitar and harmonies. How do you start off?

Well I write the lyrics and the guitar parts at the same time, it sort of just flows together. I’ll make a demo of it, so I’ll record that part, and then — it might not even be harmonies I’m thinking of, it could be other instrument parts — I’ll just sing them, to add something to the demo. [laughs] But they usually end up just being crazy harmony parts. I’ve done a lot of co-writing on this record, and each process for that has been really different.

When you’re co-writing, do you go in with an idea, or is it more collaborative?

The one with Inara [George], that was completely collaborative. We just sort of came up with that together on the spot. The one with Charlie [Wadhams] — I was late [meeting him], so he started writing an idea he got, which was great! The one with Sia; the night before I was meeting with her, I remembered that she doesn’t play any instruments, and realized it was all gonna be on me for guitar. So I actually came up with all the chords and stuff for that song, and then she pretty much wrote all the lyrics, which was really cool. And all the other ones have sort of been collaborative ideas coming together.

The people you wrote with, they all have a number of musical projects they work on (both solo and as part of a band). Do you feel like they’re musical influences as well as being friends, and who are some of your other musical influences?

They’re totally musical influences, because I’m such a fan. You know, I’m their friend but also their fan. Which is awesome because I respect what they do and I trust their ideas. At the same time, it’s a comfortable working environment because we’re friends, so it’s real easy-going. Other musical influences, as of late, I’ve been listening to a lot of Beach House, especially when we were recording the record. Françoise Hardy was an influence. I was listening to a lot of her music when I wrote “Cry Baby” so it was sort of influenced by that. Who else has been an influence…

I mean, not just for this record either, but also–

In life?

Yeah. That’s such an enormous question, I know.

Well, Neil Young is one of my biggest heroes. Andrew Bird is really cool. Growing up I listened to a lot of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Beatles. Radiohead was another big one. Pink Floyd.

Priscilla Ahn – “The Moon” (Live)

How did recording this album differ from your first album? I know you went over to England to record it with Ethan Johns, how did that impact the album?

It was really different, this whole recording experience was really different from my last recording experience. Ethan, he works really old school; we record to tape and he’s very organic. On the last record (A Good Day), I was so used to us doing two or three takes of a song, and we’d piece together the best parts in Pro Tools and then — oh we’re done! When [Ethan] started doing it, he had us play the same song all day, into the next day, and I would think, “This is taking forever!” But then I realized how genius it is, and what a big difference it makes, because it actually puts you into the song. Everyone who’s playing is also in the song, and you all listen to it together, and you find that magic take. And for a producer to have that kind of patience I think is really cool. It’s important to him.

And being in England, at first I was so stressed out because I wasn’t going to have all my musician friends around me, and I was not going to be at home, you know? So I was really freaking out about it. But once I got in there, it was much better for me. When I record in LA, I get really antsy in the studio, and I’m like, “I can’t wait to go home” and I’m not really focused. Whereas being there, what do I have to go back to? A hotel room by myself. Being in another country is also a deadline. I can’t stay there forever. I have a plane ticket for this day, so we have to finish. It was just really focused, and made time go by really fast, which was great. It was a really good experience for me to break out of my comfort zone, and try something new. And I ended up meeting some other really great musicians, like Sam Dixon, who played bass, who’s amazing. And Jeremy Stacey who played drums.

On the first album, you had someone play a saw, there was an autoharp — a lot of cool stuff. There were also a lot of interesting instruments on the new album, an omnichord, mellotron, celesta, marxophone. How did you start incorporating all those instruments in the recording process?

Well, for the first record, we just went in there and whatever was available. Luckily Joey [Waronker]’s studio had all this cool shit, and we were like, “Oh, let’s try this!” But for this album, I wanted it to be a little more thought out before we went in to record. For the sake of time, but also to have a sound for the album. I made a list of all the instruments that I really liked, which were a lot of those, and Ethan had a couple other things like a mellotron, and a really old pump organ. Each old instrument brings it’s own character and soul to the song, I think. For this album I gave it a little more thought, I mapped it out a little more. I went through each song and was like, “This one, I hear this, this, and this.”

Priscilla Ahn – “All You’ve Got To Do Is Fall In Love” (Live) [Benji Hughes cover]

The album includes a cover of Benji Hughes’ “Vibe So Hot”. What made you decide on a cover, what drew you to the song?

For this album, I wanted to do a more upbeat song, and I was listening to Benji’s album and I thought “Vibe So Hot” was so funny and fun.

When you were putting the record together, did you feel the need to include more upbeat songs to balance it out? I know a lot of the songs are slower tunes.

Yeah, I naturally just write slower songs and I wanted for there to be more movement in the album. With the first record, I had so much time to write all these songs, without thinking about it. Without worrying about, “I need this kind of song, that kind of song.” For these songs, they were all pretty new. I was definitely more conscious about it, in a stressful way.

Are there any songs or bands that have caught your attention recently? What music have you been excited about lately?

Well I love Cass McCombs. I’ve been listening to Little Dragon, but they’re a little more known. Oh, Blake Mills. He’s here in LA and his music is really cool, I have his Live in Shanghai EP and it’s so good!

Thanks Priscilla!

Priscilla’s recommendations:
Blake Mills – Cheers (demo) from Live from Shanghai EP

Get a free download of Blake Mills’ Live from Shanghai EP here.

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Ben l’Oncle Soul

September 12th, 2010 by Sjoerd

soul // french // motown Ben l'Oncle Soul

The sounds of Ben l’Oncle Soul are spreading through Europe, with a major hit this summer in the form of an uptempo soul cover of “Seven Nation Army”. Signed to Motown, Ben has all elements covered. Some say his style is not original enough, but when the styles are blended and performed this well, and the songs are this catchy, who really cares. This is good music. Period. So if you like soul & funk and appreciate a singer that knows how to manipulate his sound to range from John Legend to Jamie Lidell and back to all the soul greats from the ol’ days, this should be on blast.

French retro soul with a modern edge.
Ben l’oncle Soul – Seven Nation Army
Ben l’oncle Soul – Soulman

[Editor’s Note: Please join me in welcoming Sjoerd Kranendonk to Aurgasm. Also known as zephirnl on soundcloud and @mffonline on twitter, he has a mean habit of unearthing the good ‘n raw funky stuff. We’re thrilled to have him share his best finds here.]

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Lil Wayne

December 20th, 2005 by Paul Irish

hip hop // neo-soul remixed

I’ll admit it’s odd for me to be writing on a fairly popular dirty south rap star, but this track “Shooter” has been on solid rotation since I first peeped. The casually dope bassline vibes underneath syncopated soul lyrics from Robin Thicke. Weezy gets in his breathy interjections every couple seconds until he lays into it heavy, nearly 90 seconds after the track starts. Tommy B describes it eloquently, “He’s got an easy drawl on this song, not the playful rasp from the rest of the album but a laid-back, unforced stream-of-consciousness that matches up perfectly with the track’s back-porch sunny-Alabama-afternoon lope.” Thicke’s 2003 soul track “Oh Shooter” bore that addictive lope, only it had Robin’s vocal crooning instead of Lil Wayne’s loose lyrics.
Firey southern rap dropped into a soulful riverboat groove.

Lil Wayne – Shooter
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Antje Duvekot

November 2nd, 2005 by Paul Irish

singer-songwriter // acoustic folk

Acoustic starlet Antje Duvekot has been captivating the ears of East Coast audiences ever since she came over from Germany as a teenager. Why, precisely? The girl can write. She placed both 1st and 2nd in the prestigious John Lennon songwriting contest and was also a finalist in the USA Songwriting Competition. Her song “Judas” first hit my own ears from local Boston radio station WERS. Part of the allure is making the religious familial (a la Christopher Moore), part is the unexpected lyrics, but the bulk of my attraction is the uplifting melodic lines that make listening such a joy. And before you go tell people about her, you’ll want to know the proper pronounciation: On-tyeh Doo-ve-kot.
Well-excuted songwriting: thoughtful, delicate, and sublime.

Antje Duvekot – Judas
Antje Duvekot – Dandelion
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Susumu Yokota

January 3rd, 2008 by Andrew Ladd

electronic // ambient // soundscape

Susumu Yokota has released a somewhat ridiculous thirty (ish) albums over the last fourteen years, mainly in Japan and mainly in the house/techno genre. Over here in Angloland, though, he’s best known for his ambient electronica that’s a chilling sort of blend of The K&D Sessions and the Myst soundtrack. It’s all layers of hum, echoing bells, and sparsely shaken beats, and blends dreamily into one, beautifully rich canvas of sounds. The tracks here are from his 2002 The Boy and the Tree; his other ambient albums are Sakura, Grinning Cat, and Magic Thread.

Eerily hypnotic.
Susumu Yokota – Grass, Tree And Stone
Susumu Yokota – The Colour of Pomegranates
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The Menahan Street Band

November 20th, 2008 by Julija

soul // funk

Lead by multi-talended producer Thomas Brenneck, The Menahan Street Band offers a solid blend of instrumental funk, late sixties sounding soul, latin grooves and afrobeat. Back in 2007, long before the group’s debut album, the Brooklyn based ensemble drew attention for their outstanding “Make The Road By Walking” track, which was sampled for the ubiquitous Jay-Z’s hit “Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)”. “Home Again!”, a mid-tempo composition from the recently released Menahan album embodies warm guitar melodies and tightly structured horn arrangements.

Entirely instrumental soulful goodness.
The Menahan Street Band – Make The Road By Walking
The Menahan Street Band – Home Again!
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Yasmine Hamdan

July 12th, 2013 by Julija

middle-eastern // electro-dream-pop

Yasmine Hamdan began her career in Beiruit in the late 90’s where she gained a reputation of a modern underground icon. Fast forward to past the naughts, Yasmine now resides in Paris where she teamed up with Nouvelle Vague’s mastermind Marc Collin for her album Ya Nass (2013). Throughout the album, Yasmine’s seductive and distinctly Middle Eastern vocals create an evocative blend of Oriental Soul, Dream Pop and acoustic folk. In “Samar”, Yasmine’s vocals seamlessly weave with swirling retro-synths and electronic vibes, while “Deny” is a mesmerizing dream-pop ballad.

Smoky, spine-tingling vocals.

Yasmine Hamdan – Samar
Yasmine Hamdan – Deny
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Jumbonics

February 27th, 2007 by Paul Irish

downtempo // jazz // soul

I hate to be a label fanboy, but Brighton-based Tru Thoughts always seems to dominate in my best-of lists. Their roster is small and focused, but includes saucy downtempo heavyweights like Bonobo and Quantic. Jumbonics turns out an organic jazzy slip-n-slide, a pleasant distraction from your ruff-n-tumble day. It’s Money Mark meets Buddy Rich at the pad of Booker T and the MGs. It’s a deep soul ride.

Melody-led song-structures and a more mature soul sound.
Jumbonics – Bubble Drop
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