Posts Tagged ‘kraftwerk’

Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes: ‘superchroma’ by crashfaster

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crashfaster. You know them as that rockin’ Bay Area quartet with unforgettable stage presence, and you know that pseudonym through association of high quality releases that do anything but disappoint. Every. Single. Time.

If you recall my last crashfaster album review, which you can read HERE, ‘further’ was an album that emerged from ‘the ashes of discarded technology’ in a thoughtfully composed narrative arc. As a whole, ‘further’ is a metaphor for the never-fleeting feelings of isolation, numbness, and emptiness that one may encounter throughout their life, and is largely an autobiographical commentary by Morgan Tucker, crashfaster, 8bitSF and monobomb records’ frontman. Envisioning an explorer, Tucker remarks that the entirety of ‘further’ is a metaphor of the contemplation of his life and eventual journey to find the truth by ‘casting aside his former life and shedding each layer of his humanity.’

Transpiring from the personal anecdote alluded to throughout the course of ‘further’ is ‘superchroma’, an EP whose energetic presence and masterful evolution from the album prior is one that can’t go far from unnoticed. Released fresh on Bandcamp on July 22, 2014, ‘superchroma’ pays homage to what crashfaster had been, but also sets the stage to what the band WILL become. Despite what such a busy man he is, Morgan was very gracious to answer a couple of questions that I had about the evolution of the band, the transition from ‘further’ to ‘superchroma’, influences, and the future of crashfaster—because I love all of you, read on for the interview with the man himself!
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Professor Oakes: Hey Morgan! Thanks again for being able to do this!

Morgan Tucker: No, thank YOU! I really appreciate you interviewing me!

PO: Psh, I do all the easy lifting ;) But seriously, thanks again for taking the time. I know how busy you are with being a father, frontman of crashfaster, 8bitSF and co-founder of monobomb records! You certainly sound like you never take a breather.

Can you tell me a little bit about crashfaster and the significance in the pseudonym?

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llustrations courtesy of Phylissa Li, 2014

MT: crashfaster is meant to infer to both technology (ephemerality) and physicality. I’m fascinated by how much we rely upon technology to feed our souls. I believe we must strip away distractions and excess in both the physical and spiritual realms in order to discover our true nature. crashfaster is a call to action – destroy both your digital and physical selves to reveal the truth that lurks beneath the surface.

PO: I’ve been a fan of yours for years, and I was very excited to see you evolve from a single-person band into a quartet. Can you tell me how the transition from a single act to a full-man band means to you? Are you happy with the sound now that you have extra hands (and friends) on the team? How did you meet one another, anyways?

MT: There are two aspects of working with a band that have had a significant impact on crashfaster. In the studio, songwriting possibilities multiply exponentially. Each one of us has distinct and disparate musical tastes and influences. This has made our sound more rich and varied. In a live setting, there’s a lot more energy on stage to play with and off of. It’s hard to be one guy behind a Gameboy and keep the crowd’s attention. There’s a lot more for people to connect with when there’s four of us thrashing away. crashfaster was always intended to be on the dancey side of things, but something interesting happened when we began writing as a band.

On “further” we each naturally fell into a rock mentality, and the music became more aggressive and a little less beat-oriented. On “superchroma” we’ve pulled the sound back towards something that will make you move. I think we’ve found the right balance in our new material.

As for how crashfaster formed into a four-person band, it happened by chance, mostly. A few years ago I wanted to start stepping up the impact of my live performance, and I thought the single best way to do that was to introduce live percussion. I met Devin through a mutual friend of ours (The Glowing Stars’ Lizzie Cuevas), and we had an instant bond. We both saw eye to eye on where the project could go and shared the determination and work ethic that could make it a reality. A little while later, we got a shot to open for Anamanaguchi, and I wanted the band to sound even bigger.

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The man, the myth… the Ryan Case. Photo by Lester Barrows

I asked Ryan (who was a coworker at the time) if he thought he could learn our songs in a week. He said yes, and he did! We met Keiko at the farewell show for our old singer. The rest is history.

PO: Wow! What a history and inspiring happenstance. While I certainly love the sound of old crashfaster, I love the direction you all have been going in now that there’s four of you. However, I especially LOVE the direction you went in this EP, and it has to be one of my favorite crashfaster releases. With that said, can you tell me a little about the transition from ‘further’ to ‘superchroma’ as a whole?

MT: “Superchroma” was meant to be more of an evolution than a departure. We wanted to both pay homage to what crashfaster had been, but at the same time set the stage for everything that we could become. Our musical influences are deep and varied, and I want the band to reflect that moving forward.

Working at Different Fur with Patrick Brown and Sean Paulson opened our eyes to new workflows and songwriting possibilities. As soon as we finished up “further”, I was ready to get back in there and do it all over again, but this time we’d be armed with new ideas that the studio experience had spurred. “Further” was very much a protracted labor of love…from concept to completion, the project was in development for more than two years. While this allowed us time to refine lyrics, hidden meanings and aesthetic synchronicity, it didn’t let us experiment much while recording. The album was more or less what we came into the studio with. It was only afterward that we realized how much this held us back.

On “superchroma”, we decided to come in sans preconceived notions. We had about 20 rough sketches of songs that Patrick immediately whittled down to 10. From there, we started messing around with each of them until we found the voice the track. We knew we had 10 days from start to finish, and the goal was to get as much done as possible, while reserving the right to chuck things out that just weren’t working. This process was incredibly freeing, and allowed for many happy accidents, serendipitous guest appearances and just more…fun. I think that really comes through in the recording.

PO: Now that we’re talking about production and the gift of group collaboration, what hardware and software do you use?

MT: crashfaster uses a Gameboy loaded with LSDJ, a Gameboy mGB (midi), a NES with midiNES, a SIDstation, sammichSID, a Commodore64 with MSSIAH, Plogue Chipsounds 707, 808, 909, VP330, a Juno 106 & Ableton Live.

PO: Such sweet, sweet tunes for my ears. This hard and software you use—do you have any formal training as a musician? The rest of the band?

MT: I don’t have any formal training as a musician. However, I went to art school for Audio Production. I worked on Foley/SFX/Sound design for several indie films before I started crashfaster. Devin is classically trained and the most experienced musician in the group. The rest of us are pretty much self-taught.

PO: If you could categorize crashfaster’s genre and place a finger on what the band sounds like, what would it be?

MT: Electronic/Industrial/Synth/Rock. Or something.

PO: I’d say that’s pretty accurate! No reason to have to straddle one genre! What would you say influences you all? Music? Movies?

MT: I’d say the biggest influences on our sound are probably Kraftwerk, Nine Inch Nails, Prince, ELO, Afghan Whigs and Neil Young (specifically the “Trans” album). We are big fans of horror movies and anime, and I think you can definitely feel that in our music.

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crashfaster performing ‘GO!’ live at the DNA Lounge, 6/22/14. Photo courtesy of Lester Barrows

PO: Oh, definitely! I feel like “GO!” is straight out of an actual anime—IT’S PERFECT and incredibly energizing! Would you say you have a favorite track on ‘superchroma’?

MT: It’s hard for me to pinpoint a single favorite, because I’m really happy with how the entire thing came out. But if I had to pick, it’d probably be “lost”, because I think we were able to pull off the emotional intent of the lyrics in a way that hits me every time.

PO: I’m curious of the conception of the album name. Does it signify anything in particular?

MT: We were playing with these visual concepts that were heavily inspired by early 90’s rave/cyberpunk culture and anime, and we wanted the music to *feel* colorful. When we were coming up with names for the album, we tried to find something that felt as hyper-kinetic as what was in our heads. Thusly…superchroma!

PO: This colorful and kinetic mood… it’s totally off the spectrum than that of its precursor ‘further’. Would you say the birth of your child had any affect on this newest album and your artistic vision as a whole?

MT: Yes! The idea for “further” was something that preceded my child, and I had been suffering from a loss of purpose and feeling in my every day life, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to find happiness. The construct allowed me to explore the concepts of duty, destiny, assimilation, isolation and self-destruction both lyrically and sonically. Once my daughter was born, I was overcome by a new feeling…not one of numbness, but a crushing awareness of time. I feel, now more than ever, that time escapes me at a pace that I find…unsettling. After all, my biggest fear in life is that I will have regrets (would’ve, should’ve, could’ve), and now I am extremely conscious of the fact that I don’t have forever to do all of the things I want to do while I’m here.

PO: Would you say there’s an overall theme of ‘superchroma’?

MT: Looseness. Ultimately, I wanted this album to act as a “mix cd that you’d have on in your car as you drove around at night in San Francisco.” This lighter construct allowed me to explore more varied types of music…things that I’ve been a fan of but never really found a way to make work within the context of crashfaster.

On this EP, we’ve got everything from a funky synth-pop tune to a faux anime theme song to an industrial club banger. Though the styles are seemingly unrelated, with the help of Patrick Brown, we were able to tie them together aurally in a way that works surprisingly well.

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‘superchroma’ by crashfaster. Album artwork by Phylissa Li, 2014.

PO: Now that your album is wrapped and now live, what does the future hold for crashfaster? Tour? What does it mean to you since you were the founding vision?

MT: More music, and more shows! Through crashfaster and 8bitSF, we’ve built up the community in the Bay Area to the point that I believe it’s one of the most vibrant and diverse scenes in the US. We recently joined forces with LA artists who formed 8bitLA, and we’re working together as sister organizations to bridge the physical divide in California chipmusic.

As far as crashfaster, we’re going on tour with Everything Goes Cold in late August, which will take us from San Francisco to Chicago. After that, we’re hitting the East Coast to play 8static Festival in Philly in October.

PO: I’m looking forward to your Los Angeles stop. You never disappoint! Just thinking about touring the country and doing what you love sounds so incredible. With that said, before we depart, do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

MT: Oh, absolutely! Be humble. Be persistent. If you’re in it for the music, you’ve got to be prepared for the long haul. Destroy all excuses. Stop talking about why you can’t do things…make do with what you have.

PO: Excellent! Thank you so much for providing those nuggets of advice—I’m sure our readers can relate. Anyways, that just about wraps it up for our interview. Again, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, and I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon!

MT: Absolutely! Take care.
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That’s all for this (special) edition of Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes! Don’t forget to check out crashfaster’s music, and follow 8bitSF on ALL THE THINGS SOCIAL MEDIA for future events. Also, if you have some time, be sure to check out the series of music videos for ‘GO!’, ‘goodbye‘, ‘hi‘, ‘lost‘, ‘photograph’, and ‘tonight‘ created by Gabriel Roland, 8bitSF’s resident visualist and mastermind behind Noukon Films.

Until next time! Professor Oakes signing off!

crashfaster
Website Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

8bitSF
Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Monobomb Records
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Shop 

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Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes: ‘SPACE FUGITIVES’ by TORIENA

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Greetings, readers! Boy oh boy has my life been a whirlwind of craziness lately! If it’s not helping organize the Los Angeles SHADOWTRAVEL tour stop with NullsleepStagediver, Starpause, and Trash80, a free E3 party with Japan’s legendary Chibi-Tech at a local barcade in Downtown Los Angeles with Meishi Smile, Space BoyfriendSpace Town Savior, Timon Marmex, and Trash80, or attending not ONE but TWO Anamanaguchi concerts within the same weekend (at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles and the DNA Lounge in San Francisco) respectively, it’s planning additional 8bitLA events, dreaming about attending out-of-state concerts like BRKFEST, and moving into a new apartment — I swear! I DO work full-time on top of all of this!

Despite all this crazy shenanigans, it’s good to be back writing this album review for this wonderful blog. I’m here to administer another dose of Chip Treatment the Professor Oakes way, and it is with great pleasure that I bring you a review of ‘SPACE FUGITIVES’ by TORIENA — so sit tight and read up!

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Released by MADMILKY RECORDS, a Kyoto Japan-based label founded by TORIENA and NNNNNNNNNN (pronounced as no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no) in 2013, ‘Space Fugitives’ is a REMARKABLE album released through Bandcamp on January 28, 2014. Beginning her career as a composer and a performing chip musician in 2012 (she’s also an illustrator and web designer!), Sae Shimizu (TORIENA) released her first EP entitled “ORBIT” through Vol.4 Records, and later ‘Black Dance Hole’, her first 10-track album, later that year. Exclusively using her front-lit DMGs and LSDJ to create the music and running it through Cubase 6 (she also uses a Behringer Pro Mixer VMX100USB), Shimizu has dug herself a spot in the chip scene as one of the best international acts, as she performed during Blip Festival Tokyo 2012 at Koenji High in Tokyo (alongside AbortifacientAliceffekt, Batsly Adams, Bit Shifter, Chibi-Tech, Covox, and Nullsleep to name a few) and was awarded ‘Best New Artist’ in the World Wide Chiptune Awards, according to her website.

With energizing stage presence (as this video of TORIENA performing at Blip Tokyo 2012 can attest), Shimizu’s passion for music began with her parents (her father is a DJ) and her enrollment in junior high band (Shimizu played tuba, double bass, and bass guitar). Shimizu began her journey in electronic music in junior high after discovering Kraftwerk and Daft Punk, and later Gold Panda and Squarepusher in high school, but remarks her interest in music is “quite fickle because the mood at the time can change.” (ICON.jp, January 17, 2014)

Receiving wide support from Pedro Silva of Slime Girls and Shane Banegas (watashimo), and featured on DJ Cutman‘s ‘This Week in Chiptune‘ on February 19, 2014, ‘SPACE FUGITIVES’ opens with ‘Fetal movement’, as TORIENA creates an memorable, rhythmic introduction to the album at large. The calmer precursor to the latter half of the album, ‘Fetal movement’ is surely the calm before the storm. With BPMs ranging from the upper 110’s to lower 130’s as it starts to take speed, ‘Fetal movement’ is a brilliant example of dreamy, low-fi tracks that produce a sense of nostalgia, as Shimizu includes the Gameboy start-up sound as an element to the track, and a drone element which she pitch bends (which reminds me a lot of the sound the cars make upon accelerating in RoadBlasters and an element that The Depreciation Guild used quite often.) Another stylistic choice (whether intentional or not), is the slight humming her DMGs make throughout the course of the track—if you listen carefully, you can hear panning clicks laid on top of the melody she creates using her pulse channels, and the hi hats in her noise channel. There’s nothing more appealing than the true, natural sound a DMG can make, and I could never understand why artists would ever want to hide that!

‘Call me again!’, very appropriately mastered near the conclusion of ‘SPACE FUGITIVES’, is one of my absolute favorite tracks on this album. Sitting at just about 3 minutes long, the track throws you through a tornado of emotions as soon as it commences. Oozing at the seams with an unforgettable j-pop vibe, Shimizu mimics Mario’s jump and fire flower sound elements, which she very strategically places throughout the track. Leading up to about the 55 second mark, ‘Call me again!’ is a wonderful example of Shimizu’s ability to masterfully build up the emotion of the track using a rather static BPM and glitch-like elements, to then launch the listeners into a whirlwind of adrenaline-pumping elements and a much quicker tempo. Uplifting, hyper, and incredibly fun, ‘Call me again!’ sends me on a wild cat and mouse chase as I truly feel like I’m not able to rest until the conclusion of the track. Unlike its precursor ‘Fetal movement’, ‘Call me again!’ is far from anything calm, soothing, and dreamy (but rather insane and wild!)

‘SPACE FUGITIVES’ can be purchased through Bandcamp digitally for $8. This is an album I definitely recommend buying (if you haven’t already!) as I assure you it’ll make your way to your list of top favorites. While TORIENA has not yet performed in the western hemisphere, she tells ICON.jp that she would very much like to perform outside of Japan in the future—so keep your eyes out and catch her performing when this happens!

That’s all ChipWIN readers! Until next time on Chip Treatment—Professor Oakes signing off!

Toriena
Bandcamp | Facebook | Illustrations | Soundcloud | Twitter | Tumblr | Website

MADMILKY RECORDS
Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Raw Cuts with Kuma #16: Thorazine Unicorn

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Hey Guys! Welcome back to RCwK!  This time around, I got a hold of an artist I’ve been wanting to chat with for a long time!  Sean Monistat is a man of many faces and immeasurable talent.  While he’s not quite as prolific as Carl Peczynski, Sean is a similar character in that he does have an act to suit every style of his.  So when I reached out to him for an interview, I wasn’t sure which act I was going to get.  When he told me which one it was, though, I got super excited!  Not only would it offer me a chance to speak with Sean, but also with his wife, Duchess Wendi, and their partner in crime, Rebekah Red. To top it off, it’s an act that is very appropriate for this time of year! Without further ado, I wish all you ChipWINners a Happy Halloween, and present you with a special (trick or) treat: Thorazine Unicorn!

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Kuma:  Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me for the interview!

Wendi:  Thank you for having us!

Kuma:  So, lets get this thing started with a question I haven’t asked in a while: who came up with the name for the band and why’d you choose it?

Wendi:  Our Personal Astrologer, George Courtney, came up with the name. As soon as it came out of his mouth, we knew it was Magickal.

Kuma:  Really?  That’s an answer I wasn’t expecting.  I was aware you guys were magick practitioners based on conversations you’ve had with mutual friends on Facebook, but wasn’t aware you had a personal astrologer.  Does your spirituality play a big part in your music, or is it as playful as it seems on the surface?  Tell me, what does your music mean to you guys?

Wendi:  Our music is a combination of the spiritual aspects of our personal lives, intertwined with events and things in the universe which we find fascinating, and those things for which we feel passionate. Things from the past, present, and future.  This may sound really romantic, but we found that with each other, we could finally express our inner voices.

Rebekah:  We actually met because of our love of the unusual, and felt we were destined to make music together.

Kuma:  Very nice. That seems to compliment your rather diverse sound. I have to say, my exposure to industrial and goth music, so to speak, is limited, but of what I’ve heard of acts like skinny puppy, bauhaus, etc, they seem to lack the sense of, dare I say funk, you three have.  When you guys were crafting your sound, was this something you were planning on?  Making goth music that was more approachable, or even danceable?

Sean:  We make music that we personally enjoy, like the music that I grew up on. Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Kraftwerk, combined with the technology that was around during that time.  Analog synths and old game systems.

Rebekah:  We make music that we like and it’s influenced by a lot of different styles, so when other people find something in it, particularly if it’s not the type of music they usually listen to, that’s very gratifying.

Wendi:  I make them listen to the angriest music.

papa roach the angriest

Sean:  We don’t plan on sounding like any artist in particular, but i take note of the things that annoy me about certain songs that i love and do what i can to not do that.

Kuma:  Hahahahaha!  I’d love to find out more about that angriest music later, but for now, I want to go back a little bit to something you said before, about how you guys feel you can best express yourselves when you three are together.  What I’d like to know is what it is each of you bring to the table that makes this collective work so well?  I don’t just mean in terms of who performs what role on stage, but I mean, emotionally, creatively, what do you guys that the others may not that makes everything fit so well among you three?

Rebekah:  I come to music making from more of a singer/songwriter perspective, and working with the tools which Sean and Wendi bring, we are able to make something none of us could make alone.  It’s validating to have found people who share ownership and who will let you add to what they have written, and want lyrics about dystopian futures, and lonely space dogs.

Sean:  I create songs that express a feeling I have or want to make the audience feel, but I find myself struggling with lyrics and melodies.  I felt trapped and thematically obscure before.

Wendi:  I’ve been writing poetry since I was very young, but I never showed it to anyone.  It was so personal and so private but I have always wanted to share it, but I didn’t know how.  I have, with Sean and Rebekah’s help, been able to give my words to other people in a way that doesn’t scare me.

Kuma:  Wow, the diversity of that response really made me smile. Although I’m surprised to hear you guys say some of these things!

Wendi, in the couple times I’ve met you, you’ve never come across as anything other than quietly confident. The idea of you seeming scared to share your writing kind of baffles me!

Sean, with how prolific you are and all the musical acts you’re involved with, from +Let’s Disinfect+ to thelonglegs and even TheRaPists, the idea of you feeling thematically stuck when you’ve been so diverse is obscene!

And Rebekah, while I’ve not met you in person, between what I’ve heard of you through the music I’ve heard and what I’m hearing now, you come across as the most steadfast of the group in your vision and what you want to express!  You guys really had trouble expressing yourselves without each other?  I just…I find that incredibly hard to believe, that despite all this creativity, you guys are all revealing yourselves to be such private, and somewhat inhibited people.

Rebekah:  It’s not really that we weren’t able to, I mean it’s not like I’m living under the stairs!  But what it looks like when I express myself BY myself, it looks different than this.  We’re each parts of the whole, that’s really what I’m saying.

Kuma:  You know, I didn’t picture you that way, but now that you said it, I’m compelled to do a bad photoshop of your head super imposed on Harry Potter’s body in his under-the-stairs room.

harry potter under the stairs

Reb:  That’s pretty great.

Sean:  My artistic mission has always been to push things to the extreme, and oftentimes that marginalizes what I do.  Good dance music is good dance music, and the songs we create together have a pop appeal that i can’t create on my own.
By the way, I love bad Photoshop.

Wendi: Well, a lot of my lyrics are from really painful, secret times in my life, where no one but my notebooks knew what I was thinking and feeling.  I guess I had a shell to retreat to in my writing, and that was very comforting for those times.  I definitely did come out of my shell by performing– as a Dominatrix for a time– and then as a puppeteer.  I came to find my strength in being on stage.  Like, I absolutely do not get stage fright anymore.  I just get up there and I’m my True Self.

Kuma:  That’s very cool to hear.  And that response makes more sense to me, Sean, that in some ways, these lovely young ladies here help reel you in some so you can make a cohesive piece of music together.  Wendi’s revelation of her blossoming into actualization through puppetry and Dominance is only more evidence of such.

That being said, lets talk about the album you’ve put so far: Metamortify.

How long did you guys work on that EP?  Is there any song one on it that really speaks to you guys individually and as a group as something you’re proud of?  has it, now that it’s out there, met your expectations of what you guys wanted from yourselves as musicians?

Sean:  I am incredibly proud of it, considering we did it all ourselves.  In working together on it so long, the hardest part was deciding when it was finished.  We have grown so much in the time we have been together as both musicians and lyricists, that the songs we are currently working on have me indescribably excited for the next release.

Wendi:  I’m proud of every song, for sure.  They’ve all evolved in their own time and way. Some of them were very different when we first conceived them, but they grew like a chest-burster in Reb’s ribcage.

alien-chestburster

Rebekah: Picking one song would be like choosing a favorite child.  If we wanted children.  Which we don’t.

Kuma:  But guys: if you have children, you could plump them up and give them to me as a gift, and then I can eat them and make each of you a lovely set of gloves out of their skin! Don’t you want children skin gloves?  Don’t you want the cycle of mutual love to grow between us?

Wendi:  I don’t know what to say…how thoughtful!!!

Sean:  Winter is coming.

Kuma:  Winter IS coming, and children skin is the best skin.  A second skin, if you will. That being said, when can we expect a second album from you guys?  And what is next for Thorazine Unicorn in general?

Wendi:  We’ll be debuting tracks from our next release at our show this Friday night, with The Strange Walls and Duravirgo, at Catland in Brooklyn!

Kuma:  Very nice!  Is this your first time performing at this venue?  Also, do you have any other shows or appearances lined up in the near future after this?  Can we expect to see you three at MAGFest?

Sean:  This is actually the first live music performance at Catland, which is a fantastic occult bookstore that we can’t recommend highly enough.  The performance space in the large back room is very reminiscent of the underground basement dungeon goth clubs that our music sounds best in.

Rebekah:: After Friday’s show, we have some other irons in the fire, and you may very well see us at the Gaylord!

Kuma:  NICE!  That being said, Sean, Wendi, Rebekah, it’s a pleasure having you three here with me and getting to know you all better.  Is there anything you’d like to say in closing before we wrap things up?

Wendi:  Thanks for chatting with us!  I’d just like to invite people to let us entertain you!  I think we offer something for everyone who likes electronic music.

Rebekah:  There are so many different things you can do with this technology, so many ways of shaping a musical landscape.  Thank you letting us share some of our vision.
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That’s it for this this issue of RCwK!  Don’t forget to follow/like/subscribe to Thorazine Unicorn, and if you’re in NYC tomorrow night and need to burn off all that energy from your trick-or-treat induced sugar rush, check them out at Catland at 9pm!  Til next time!

Peace

\m|♥|m/

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