I had a chance to catch up with San Francisco-based, multi-talented, electronic musician Travis Miller while he was out on the East Coast before heading to Amsterdam for a semester at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. He offered up some insight into his work, influences and upcoming EP.
I guess to start from the beginning, how did you get into making music? Tell me about some of the really early stuff you worked on, what you’re up to now, that kind of thing.
I’ve been making music forever. I used to be super-into punk, and in like eighth, ninth and tenth grade I was in a ska band. I started making beats my first year of college; I was 18
—Omar Almufti, 07 November 2011
Being somewhat fussy about these things—actually, about everything—I found looking for a bike for my then-soon-to-be-six-year-old son Leif to be less than fruitful. At my moment of despair, having seen numerous overbuilt and predictably ugly offerings from other mainstream BMX brands, I stumbled across SE Bikes’ 16” Lil’ Ripper. I owned both the PK Ripper and 24” Floval Flyer back in my BMX days, so I had to have it. I mean, he had to have it.
The bike’s big daddy, the PK Ripper, is the most legendary of BMX frames. Named after Perry Kramer, a famed pro BMX racer of the late-70s, the PK stood out with its aluminium construction, flat/oval (or “floval”) maintubes and looptail
—Chris Noble, 18 October 2011
Andy Jenkins should need little introduction to the Level reader. His ‘Glimpses’ pages were a regular highlight of this magazine’s print incarnation and a fair proportion of you will know him formerly as Art Director/Master Cluster member at Wizard Publications “back in the day” and/or currently as Art Director and virtually founding member of Girl Skateboards.
In addition, his artistic endeavors will be familiar to many through his gallery shows across the globe, published works (such as his illustrations currently gracing the pages of The Skateboard Mag) and his less-credited artwork for a few good Hollywood movies.
Jenkins has a stubborn bent for print publications, having cut his teeth living and breathing them under Bob Osborn’s encouraging gaze, and his self-made, self-published
—Chris Noble, 28 July 2011
Kenna understands that there is so much more to this world than silver and gold. A model of meaning guides his career moving forward from two remarkable albums with a series of three EPs, the Land 2 Air Chronicles. The first release, Chaos and the Darkness, is a gripping example of music with a distinct purpose. I had a chance to listen to Kenna talk about the record and play a few other songs on the piano and the spur of the moment in front of perhaps twenty people at the studio he’s been using in Manhattan. Then, when I called him up to do the interview, he made life easy by saying a lot of really cool stuff. Kenna
—Omar Almufti, 24 June 2011
I recently had a chance to speak with Dexter Tortorielo, the founding (and sole) member of an experiment in electronic music functioning under the moniker Dawn Golden and Rosy Cross. We talked about his recently released Mad Decent EP, Blow, some of his earlier works and other current projects, and a bunch of super-nerdy stuff about making electronic music.
Tell me a little bit about yourself, growing up, how you got into making music and some of the early projects you worked on, that kind of stuff.
I grew up in Chicago. I got into music at a pretty young age, one of my father’s friends owned a recording studio and he dumped a treasure trove of old analog recording equipment
—Omar Almufti, 27 May 2011
Mad Decent Records continues its tradition of showcasing standout artists from a variety of disciplines with the upcoming release from recent signing Bosco Delrey. The record, titled Everybody Wah, is a strong, fresh, super-diverse collection that speaks to Delrey’s sensibilities as a musician. Already in the process of trading remixes with Mike D. and Ad-Rock (as in, the Beastie Boys), it seems pretty clear that dude is being vetted by the best and there’s sure to be a heap of dope material coming from him in the future. I recently had the chance to ask Delrey a few questions about his work, linking up with Mad Decent and the current project…
Tell me a little bit about yourself, growing up,
—Omar Almufti, 02 May 2011
When Black Lips passed through Webster Hall in Manhattan’s East Village last week to support their latest project, Arabia Mountain, out June 7th on Vice Records, it became clear from the outset that this it was going to be a wild fucking show. I had always heard these guys put it down, but hadn’t had a chance to catch them in the past. A few seconds into the first cut, the packed house was shaking, beer and all kinds of other shit was being tossed around… simply put, people were raging it. I hadn’t been to a proper rock ’n’ roll show for a minute and the set these guys played was definitely a reminder of all the best reasons that people are drawn to this music in the first place. Bassist Jared Swilley took some time to speak with me about the new record, some of the band’s travels over the years and their upcoming tour.
—Omar Almufti, 26 April 2011
Cult Cargo: Salsa Boricua De Chicago, the latest compilation released by Grammy-nominated archival record label Numero Group digs deep into the history of Chicago’s little-known salsa recording industry. Focusing on releases from Carlos Ruiz’s storied Ebirac imprint, accompanied by detailed liner notes and a lot of dope photos, the project maintains a composed sense of history that these guys have become best known for.
This is a really cool record, what was the inspiration for developing this compilation?
No one even knew there was a salsa recording industry in Chicago whatsoever. Discoveries are what drives a lot of our directions. I was calling extremely knowledgeable salsa collectors and stumping ’em with these releases.
How did you first learn about Carlos
—Omar Almufti, 06 April 2011
I’m from New England, and despite being the closest part of the American mainland to Great Britain, New England lost most of its Queen-inspired flair over the years. It took a bit of overseas traveling before I experienced any real English culture, but it took a trip to the American Southwest to experience the Cornish pasty.
What the hell is a Cornish pasty? To the uninitiated, a pasty could easily be mistaken for a calzone, an Italian-inspired treat us Americans have transitioned to high school cafeterias, pizza parlors and microwaves. Aside from its self-contained nature, a pasty has very little to do with its Italian second cousin. And you don’t say it like ‘pasty’ as in ‘pale’: this ‘pasty’ rhymes
—Jared Souney, 25 February 2011
The sound cultivated by Portland, Oregon-based band Grails on their latest release, Deep Politics, is out of this world. Level had a chance to speak with founding member Emil Amos and get some insights on the project.
For those unfamiliar, tell me a bit about how you guys got together as Grails, and some of the projects you’ve worked on leading up to Deep Politics.
The band has been around since around late ’99/early ’00… it feels like it’s gone from being a typical ‘band’ that played weekend shows to some sort of art production warehouse at this point… there’s more of a back room/mad scientist element in revealing these experiments to the rest of the world than the usual
—Omar Almufti, 21 February 2011