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Interview: Badlands

Badlands

Badlands

Badlands is an electronic project by Swedish born songwriter, producer and sound designer Catharina Jaunviksna.

We caught up with Catharina to talk music and life.

For those of you who don’t know you, tell us a bit more about Badlands and how you got into music.

I’ve always been into music. As a teen it saved me, like so many others. I was listening to a lot of post-hardcore, shoegaze, synth and new wave. And even though I started to record early, I was always very private about it. Music was this huge and intangible mountain to climb, I thought I wasn’t worthy. And I didn’t know anybody else that was into synthesizers, midi and sampling back then. So I hid away and made music for myself and external projects, such as movies and plays, so that I wouldn’t have to uncover myself. I did make a few failed attempts to form a band too. But something needed to get out. I was missing something that only I would be able to materialize. So eventually I thought it was time to start arranging and finish the huge pile of soundtracks and experiments that was lying around on my hard drives. And that’s how Badlands was born. The first EP was released together with my friend Nikals Tjäder, it was great fun at the time but pretty obvious whose baby it was, so after the first release Badlands became my solo project. It was a big relief, now I could just nerd out and do whatever turned me on, without having to compromise with anything. Then I released the single Tutu, and now the new album Locus.

Describe your sound in three words.

Melodic, lush, interstellar.

You were born in Sweden, but also call Ireland and Italy your home. What do you like and dislike about each place, and why?

Scene-wise? Well, I suppose I’ll have to generalize here quite a bit, so don’t hold me too much to it. Sweden… We have great judgement and taste when it comes to music, but we can be pretty anxious about trend and rep. Doesn’t make good pioneers, not any more. But I’m sure we will again someday. The Irish scene on the other hand is very vibrant, a great balance of DIY and professionalism. Fortunately, the country’s stubborn and silly old values don’t reflect in the music, it’s the complete opposite. And Italy… I think they’re on their way. I meet a lot of Italians who idolize the Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon scene though, and try to copy that, instead of finding their own thing. I believe they have to take whatever they’re insecure about and turn that into their strength instead. Like they used to.

Your album, ‘Locus’, is out now. Tell us a bit more about the process of creating ‘Locus’, and the meaning behind the album.

I don’t intellectualize around music, at least not my own. It’s not until the end of the process that I start to realize what it was all about. And the meaning can change with the process too, or hold several meanings. That’s why music is magic and not rational. But the process is usually the same, pretty much.

These transient melodies and pictures appear in my head like capsuled mini revelations, and from there I walk in to the studio and try to communicate that exact feeling somehow. Sometimes that process takes only a couple of weeks, sometimes several months. I love the start and the end of a tune making process, but the 90% in-between is a chaos of doubt and self-contempt. Haha.

I think it’s funny how many people seem to look at Locus at this apocalyptic prophecy though. To me Locus is magnanimous, tender even. It’s more a study over human kind, rather than an assessment. It’s a lot about how much power we have over who we are and the decisions we make. But each song has its own story, and I don’t want to sabotage my listeners own interpretations either.

Where do you cite your musical influences from?

A lot of stuff that inspire me is either from the late 70’s or early 80’s, even though I wasn’t born then. Music that lead on new wave, before it even became a concept. Both commercial stuff and more obscure space- and Italo disco. But I don’t try to sound retro or anything, I’ve never understood the thrill in trying to copy a sound myself, although I enjoy listening to others neo-synthwave and retro-futuristic work. But yes, the 80’s…I believe there was just enough technology to nurse creativity, but not restrict it, like today. It colored the sounds, made them re-assuring, warm and invincible. I build stamina and find strength in what they had then, that we lack today. I love the softness of the sounds too, that’s why my masters aren’t pushed so hard and ran through tape.

We love new music at Indietronica. What new music are you listening to?

Most new music I listen to is unestablished. I spend many hours every week digging around in the huge tank of indie anarchy that is Soundcloud. I think that’s the closest thing to crate digging in the digital world you get these days. It’s the darknet of music, but in a good way. I love finding and pushing overlooked gems. I think many of the major music blogs have lost their sense of passion, excitement and courage, that’s why I don’t look there for new stuff anymore, like I used to. But of course I listen to a lot of signed music as well. If we’re talking labels I really dig Warp, Mute, Secretly Canadian, Italians do it better, Ghostly, Captured Tracks, Lucky Number to name a few. And my friends. I’m lucky enough to know a bunch of super talented people. You find them where you find me.

Badlands’ album is out now. Order on iTunes now.

Sounds like: Tei-Shi, Glasser, Still Corners, Enya, Be Forest, Lilies on Mars

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Indietronica at Gathering Festival

Photo by Alex HaproffPhoto by Alex Haproff

Gathering Festival is held in the centre of Oxford, the ‘city of dreaming spires’, inside hidden-away music venues ranging from tiny cafes to huge churches. Selling out in its second year of existence, on Saturday 19th October 2013, the festival brought an abundance of new indietronica music to Oxford, including London Grammar, Local Natives, Gold & Youth, Mt. Wolf, Troumaca, Jake Hart, Fyfe, Jaymes Young and Pawws.

LA headliners Local Natives‘ performance was about as folktronica as they come, kitted out with an array of synths and electric drum pads, all whilst passionately harmonising melodies to perfection.

Gold & Youth played the intimate venue The Bullingdon to a mesmerised crowd enjoying the 80s-tinged synth pop with soaring melodies and ethereal vocals. Indietronica had a chance to chat to Gold & Youth in the nearby park, the footage of which you can view below.

London Grammar played a set which blew away the packed-out at O2 Academy, and had the crowd nearly in tears when they announced they would be cutting the set short due to technical difficulties.

South Londoners Mt. Wolf filled a church with huge, ethereal soundscapes, complimented by luscious vocals from front-woman Kate. The light was pouring through giant stained-glass windows during their early evening set.

Photo by Alex Haproff

Indietronica interviewed Mt. Wolf after their set, the footage of which can be viewed on Indietronica tomorrow.

Troumaca, from Birmingham were on late in the Bullingdon, playing synth-driven tropictronica to a well-receiving crowd in the middle of the night. Check back on Indietronica for an interview with these guys over the next few days.

Newcomer Jake Hart, who, along with his bandmates, was all-in-black, had his audience transfixed with his minimal free-pop, creating mesmerising experimental synth layers.

Jake-Hart

Fyfe is a UK solo artist, comparable to Miike Snow with a hint of James Blake. His soulful, minimal melodies filled the intimate Truck Store during his stripped back performance, a snipped of which can be viewed here.

Jaymes Young makes melodic rnb-tinged indietronica and is a formidable producer. He was performing at Gathering Festival during his current tour supporting London Grammar.

Pawws produces soprano-laden laptop pop; a beautiful addition to this all-round spectacular festival in the heart of Oxford featuring some storming new indietronica artists.

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Graingerboy – Silent Universe EP & Interview

Graingerboy-1

Electronic-music veteran Simon Grainger aka Graingerboy is from Leeds, UK, and has recently unveiled 7-track EP ‘Silent Universe’ out now on PopCrisis and is available for purchase here.

Having worked with Kitsune’s DJ Jerry Bouthier, Ian Catt (Saint Etienne), Simon Phipps and Jagz Kooner (Primal Scream/Sabres Of Paradise), Graingerboy is certainly getting a lot of attention and is one to watch over the next few months.

The EP is a product of a challenging couple of years in Grainger’s personal life. As a whole, it is a varied, melodic masterpiece, and there are clear 90s sampling influences within, yet the use of overdriven synths and straight up drum loops gives an additional 80s feel, ranging from disco to Balearic.

Graingerboy was kind enough to give Indietronica an interview, the answers from which you can read below. 

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