"An ADD-addled version of the Rapture or an LCD Soundsystem fronted by David Byrne." - Cornell Daily Sun
Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES are 23 year old Ivy Leaguer and South Dakota/Montana native Samuel Sveen. Whistling since age 3 and beginning piano at 8, Sveen combines a multi-instrumental knack for songwriting with marching snare chops and a Lit. major's wit, creating an entire world of electronic performance and zany Scandinavian aesthetic.
Sveen plays a cocktail-esque stand-up drumkit along to his own synthesized tracks created in Ableton, considering the actual 'live-ness' of amplified sounds irrelevant in comparison to the raw sound production and visual energy of the acoustic drumkit. Aspiring to the sound of the ski film soundtrack, Sveen's music spans jazz, dance, and punk, while maintaining a pop sensibility, emphasizing the live, avant-garde performance.
In addition to his synthpunk/electropop side - of which exists a 7" vinyl record - Sveen has released a cassette tape of seven ukulele songs, and further proves his renaissance approach with conceptual visual art, unique DIY packaging, and creative guerrilla marketing.
Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES began in 2008, playing sweaty basement parties at Cornell University and venturing abroad to Cape Town, South Africa, now earning a reputation across New York, residing in Brooklyn.
"Sveen's project is smart without being too clever. It draws from varied musical history, synth music of the early 80s, 70s performance art, pop, and mixes it together in a tasty sonic package that always entertains." - Luke Z. Fenchel, Ithaca Times
"...just one guy with a standup drum set, a bunch of pre-recorded tracks he made, and his voice. It was really compelling, though. He was a really sweet and interesting kid, clearly really smart too." - ENDLESLIE blog ~ World/Inferno Frienship Society
"Sveen is part mad scientist, part boy next door, and completely bonkers in the most brilliant way" - Mina Karimi, Babe City Babes blog
Samuel Sveen - Vocals, Trumpet, keyboards, synthesizers, Drum Kit, ukulele
electroYAZZ | Greatest Hits Right Now! compilation CD | Angry Mom Records & SixteenSixteen.org | 2011
HEY, COOL | ukulele cassette tape | Angry Mom Records | 2011
Self-titled EP, or, Do you like tennis too? Part II | 7" vinyl EP | Angry Mom Records | 2010
The Club Intense | mix of home-recorded and live performances | 2008
Fiction and Roses | home-recorded acoustic guitar album | 2007
The awesomeAWESOME Show
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Hey Everybody!! It’s time for an awesome new episode of BABEtv. W:O:OH:O:O! This week, we go a...Hey Everybody!!
It’s time for an awesome new episode of BABEtv. W:O:OH:O:O!
This week, we go and hang out with Samuel Sveen, a young renaissance babe, shakin it and makin it in shades of yellow and seafoam green. Riding the beautiful sound-waves of his home engineered musical gadgets from South Dakota to Ithaca to Bushwick, Sveen is part mad scientist, part boy next door, and completely bonkers in the most brilliant way. His musical project “Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES” is confusingly silly, adorably animated, and 100% celebratory. Samuel is a soft-spoken and hard-working creative genius, but he gracefully assumes the roll of a jolly fool to trigger a distinct bliss which is far more powerful than his actual music prowess. Don’t get me wrong though, Sveen has a unique and very sincere vocal style that will win you over by the end of this clip. Stay tuned to find out what he thinks about your bikini!
(Features nine minute video performance and interview)
Encore: An Awesome Departure
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Most folks who have lived in Ithaca know that anything awesome will ultimately pass. Whether it's th...Most folks who have lived in Ithaca know that anything awesome will ultimately pass. Whether it's the weather or a musical act - time will turn a good thing into a nice memory. Consider the Highwoods Stringband, IY or the Settlers. For a dedicated segment of the population, July 13 will mark another bookend to a brief period of sonic ecstasy; for on that day Samuel Sveen's Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES will perform its last local show. The concert will take place at The Space at Greenstar, in an event co-sponsored by Angry Mom Records and Ithaca Underground. Openers include Emotron, Andy the Doorbum and Paper Armies.
"Elsa is the umbrella artistic name for everything that I do," Sveen said by phone this week. "The band with real people is the singular awesomeAWESOME, and if the name is plural it's just me playing." There are many incarnations of the band: one features Sveen on ukulele, another is strictly drum and trumpet, a third features keyboards. Sveen notes that the one thing he doesn't do is play the acoustic guitar, which he reports as "hard to [do] without sounding like John Mayer trying to get laid. With a guitar somebody's probably already played those chords. I try to do something different."
The first known performance of the awesomeAWESOMES came October 4, 2008 at the basement of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. The set included some songs Sveen that remain on his setlist, "We Will Call it Dance" and a few instrumental numbers.
Sveen's project is smart without being too clever. It draws from varied musical history, synth music of the early 80s, 70s performance art, pop, and mixes it together in a tasty sonic package that always entertains. Sveen is famous for his covers: "Whip It" by Devo, "Deceptacon" by Le Tigre, the jazz standard "Chameleon," which Sveen models after the drummer Buddy Rich.
Some of his music, like the recent release "Donna (Summer)" has elements of electro; others, like "Bears," recall early K Records. Sveen had his hair cut while playing at the Chapter House, emerged from a chest at a Johnson Museum Party and played a one-off gig at Stella's alongside a live painter under the stage name Yaz.
"I always release albums that has three or less tracks, because of my ADD or whatever, but also as a tactic or marketing thing - an experiment in celebrity and marketing. So I try to do things to be famous or whatever. Now that the CD is dead, more or less it's true, the way to combat that is to release a few songs once and a while and keep the steady hype."
Since he released a vinyl 45 on Angry Mom Records, "Snarls" and "Radical" on a-side, and "We Will Call It Dance" on the b-side, he's been putting out his music for free on elsaandtheawesomeawesomes.com. "Most things I do are halfway not thought out at all, and halfway really thought out," Sveen said.
Interview with Sam Sveen (of Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES)
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Sam Sveen. A math major? No. A genius? Perhaps. Scandinavian? Yes. A musical revolutionary? Defi...Sam Sveen. A math major? No. A genius? Perhaps. Scandinavian? Yes. A musical revolutionary? Definitely.
Slope: So do you mind if I paraphrase some of what you say? It’s hard to remember word for word with a pen and a pad.
Sam Sveen: Sure, as long as you make me sound like an a**. Just kidding, go ahead.
Slope: So you have a sense of humor. I noticed that in your performance as well.
S.S.: Yeah, I try to incorporate comedy into my music. You probably noticed me rolling on the ground in between songs. I think comedy help loosens up the audience a bit…and of course, I’m just a naturally funny person.
Slope: Yes I did notice, and I’m not going to lie your intentions actually worked. As far as music goes, what is your creative process when writing songs?
S.S.: That’s a good question. I guess I usually just play around on my keyboard or guitar for a while until I come up with something I like. Then I’ll take a guitar riff, for example, record it onto my computer and then build off it using electronic instruments. I do everything DIY.
Slope: So do you have a certain style that you try to keep consistent in all of your songs?
S.S.: Yeah. Basically, I try to make my music as unique and catchy as possible. You could probably tell that my lyrics don’t match up to Shakespeare, but they are meant to get stuck in your head, not put you to sleep. At my last show, a girl came up to me afterwards and asked if I had ADD because my songs are so wild and out there. Ever since then, I’ve been convinced I do have ADD, but its not scientifically proven yet.
Slope: Interesting. Let’s talk about your new album.
S.S.: Sure. So this is really awesome: I am a signed recording artist. This past summer I signed to Angry Mom Records, a local record label with a studio based out of Autumn Leaves Bookstore. It’s an awesome deal for me because I didn’t have to pay for any recording or distribution. There are 300 copies of my album available on vinyl, but you can also download them off my website. The cover shows me long boarding in South Africa, its pretty sweet.
Slope: It looks awesome Sam! One final question. What lies ahead for Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES?
S.S.: Well, for starters I’m trying to recruit new members for Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES. I think it would be less embarrassing for me to be on stage with other people. As for playing shows, I plan on staying in Ithaca for a year playing weekend performances. Hopefully, by next year I will have scheduled a northeast tour. I just want to play a million shows and hope to be discovered. That’s basically my plan.
To learn more about Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES, visit his website at http://samuelsveen.com
A Marathon Festival With A Marathon Name
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For those of you who will be here in Ithaca this weekend to enjoy some good weather (finally), you w...For those of you who will be here in Ithaca this weekend to enjoy some good weather (finally), you will also have the chance to indulge in an eclectic array of music at the Brightspark Electronic Punk Folk Festival all day on Sunday at The Haunt. Organized and hosted by Ithaca’s own the Atomic Forces, the festival features punk, folk, electronica, indie and even country music. As festival organizer Park Doing, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Science & Technology Studies, as well as a member of the Atomic Forces, explains, the festival is supposed to be a “deconstruction” of the festival’s titular genres, featuring pure and synthesized versions of electronic, punk and folk music. The artists to be featured at Brightspark may come from disparate strains of rock, but Doing hopes that such an all-encompassing lineup will be united by a shared spirit of originality.
Take former Cornellians Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES. The whimsical “We Will Call It Dance” mixes ridiculous shouted lyrics, funk beats with plenty of cowbell and cheesy synths to create something that resembles an ADD-addled version of the Rapture or an LCD Soundsystem fronted by David Byrne. “RADICAL!” is an electronic version of early Red Hot Chili Peppers, with undeniably badass electronic mosh breaks that are deserving of the shouts of “radical”, “awesome” and “extreme” sprinkled intermittently throughout. The group takes breaks from dance-punk with twee-style, ukelele-accompanied odes to nakedness (“naked! fun! oh! I love right now!”) and laid-back surf jams (“Stone Fox”).
The Atomic Forces, the hosts of the festival, are a critically acclaimed Ithaca group that peddles their “Folk Atomique” (a combination of folk, electronic and punk music) to audiences throughout upstate New York. Their records Lost in the Transfer and Stars Don't Fade were awarded Rock record of the Year in the Ithaca Journal in 2001 and 2003. Their latest, 2009’s Prop Sensation, was extremely topical, with lyrics comprised of statistics about economic disparity and the prison system in the United States. Songs like “SOS” and “Hippie Physics” create disconcerting atmospheres with awkwardly uneven rhythms while Doing repeats harrowing statistics (“the average age of a homeless person in the United States is nine!”), while others peddle in old-school punk techniques, such as the Minutemen-referencing funk-punk of “Force 1” and the momentum building, mosh-inducing “The Names Change.” The band’s thirst for social justice does not merely extend to their lyrics; all proceeds from the festival will benefit the Tompkins County Worker’s Center. Such adherence to values of labor equality and helping the working-man helps exemplify The Atomic Forces as a truly socially conscious, old-school punk band.
Other acts playing at Brightspark include: Texan cowpunk troubadour Johnny Dowd, whose songs about alcohol and sinners are sure to resonate with Cornell’s weekend warriors; Brooklyn’s own Americana specialists Alana Amran and the Rough Gems, whose solemn country ballads and rollicking rockers are sure to remind some of lonely nights in Midwest bars or in dead-end towns; high-school thrash metal outfit Makeshift; rough-and-tumble folk singer William Wesley Walker of Tennessee; drone-noise artist Donna, of Binghamton; Rye n’ Clover, a sort of banjo-wielding, Ithaca-version of folk-punk legend Billy Bragg, with anthems and ballads to match; and many more.
The festival goes down this Sunday, October 10th, at The Haunt, from 2 p.m until 11:30 p.m. Tickets will be on sale at the door for $10.
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VINYL DREAMS! by POST EDITORS on AUGUST 21, 2010 Ithaca’s Angry Mom Records launches its own rec...VINYL DREAMS!
by POST EDITORS on AUGUST 21, 2010
Ithaca’s Angry Mom Records launches its own record label, a vinyl-only imprint whose third release will include the legendary Johnny Dowd.
ANGRY MOM RECORDS, THE INDEPENDENT RECORD STORE on the downtown Ithaca Commons, this month launched its own “vinyl-only” record label to produce and distribute records in the classic analog format.
The first artists signed to the Angry Mom Records label for vinyl releases are the Ithaca duo BLOW! (Bruce Hyde and Johnny Zachman), Ithaca one-man-band Elsa & the awesome AWESOMES (Samuel Sveen), and international music sensation Johnny Dowd.
There will be a live-music launch party on August 21 at the Chapter House featuring BLOW!, Elsa & the awesomeAWESOMES and Johnny Dowd. Plus a dj set from DJ Automatic Buffalo.
The event will feature copies of the two debut, limited-edition, white-vinyl 7” EP records. The limited-edition, hand-numbered, white-vinyl records feature exclusive sleeve artwork by Ithaca artists and include free digital codes to download MP3 versions of all the songs.
Launching the Label with Three Ithaca Bands
Angry Mom Records store owner and now record label executive, George Johann, explained: “After the store’s successful first year on the Commons selling vintage vinyl records, CDs, and record players, I realized it was time to launch the record label that I’ve been planning for some years now.”
The label’s first three artists are Ithaca-based bands, though Johann pointed out that his first conception of the label planned on a different direction. “Originally, I intended the label to primarily reissue pre-World War II 78rpm records and rare psychedelic stuff,” Johann noted, “music that I am particularly passionate about.”
“But my plans changed,” Johann said, “when I saw Sam Sveen of Elsa & the awesome-AWESOMES playing a show at The Shop coffeehouse in Ithaca and thought he was amazing.
I knew right then that I wanted to put out a record of his music.”
Sveen, a native of South Dakota and a 2010 Cornell graduate, plays an impressive array of instruments, from marching snare drum to trumpet to ukulele. Composing his own tunes full of wit and pop hooks, Sveen plays catchy, infectious, intensely energetic dance music.
Sveen’s one-man band made a big impression on the Cornell party scene since 2008. His hugely entertaining live shows became legendary on campus and Sveen is preparing for an extensive tour this fall of the northeast U.S.
Sveen’s first record of three songs was recorded for Angry Mom Records at the Ithaca-based Pyramid Sound studios with additional recording, mixing, and mastering by Ithaca music producer Dan Timmons.
“I think Sveen’s raw energy and his underlying DIY, minimalist aesthetic has been successfully captured on his Angry Mom Records debut EP,” commented Johann.
Capturing Local Band BLOW! on Vinyl
Not long after signing a deal with Sveen, Johann was drawn to another local band called BLOW! (their band name includes the capital letters and exclamation point), an Ithaca duo with a big sound.
“My store manager was raving to me about a demo recording he’d heard by this new band BLOW!,” Johann recalled recently. “I saw the band at Castaways and wanted them to be part of the new label, too.”
BLOW!’s Bruce Hyde and Johnny Zachman headed into a Manhattan studio with legendary music producer Jimmy Bralower to record and mix their first songs. Three of the best pieces appear on the duo’s self-titled vinyl EP release on the Angry Mom Records label. The album’s cover sleeve design was created by Ithaca artist Laura Brothers, with insert design by local artist Mason Speed.
Releasing Johnny Dowd Hits on Real Records
Johann’s store manager, Lee Conlon, had been active in the music business in his native England, including handling touring arrangements for Ithaca-based and internationally acclaimed music sensation Johnny Dowd.
When not working in Ithaca, Dowd tours regularly in Europe. The Daily Mirror newspaper in London proclaimed Dowd’s unique music “brilliantly macabre, rib-tickling, poised and admirably raw dirty rock ’n’ roll from the shaded supremo of gothic Americana.”
Johann found out that no one handled vinyl releases for Dowd’s music, and worked out a deal to bring out Dowd’s records in vinyl format.
“Dowd is internationally known, tours internationally, and has a fan base around the world,” Johann said. “But his music is only available on CDs or on digital downloads. I felt his sound was perfect for vinyl, which adds a warmth and drive to music that can’t be matched with other formats.”
Angry Mom Records plans to release a two-song 45rpm by Dowd hits toward the end of this year.
Tagged as: Angry Mom Records, BLOW!, Elsa & the awesomeAWESOMES, George Johann, johnny dowd, record release party, The Chapter House
Student Spotlight: Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES
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Sam Sveen, creator and single member of Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES, misunderstood my first questio...Sam Sveen, creator and single member of Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES, misunderstood my first question, “Are you a junior?” to be “Are you a genius?” His answer: “Yes. I’d like to think I’m a genius … but wouldn’t we all? I actually have an acoustic song titled, ‘I’d like to think I’m a genius.’”
I’ll let you decide for yourselves whether Sam is a true genius or not, but I certainly think that someone who can make the world’s most boring question into something far more interesting and fun at least has genius potential. Regardless, even if Sam doesn’t quite make the genius cut, there’s no denying that he’s awesome. In fact, make that awesome awesome.
Sun: So I have to ask you one more boring question. Where are you from?
Sam Sveen: I grew up in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Sun: Can’t say I’ve been there before.
S.S.: Yeah, its 25,000 people and feels like Ithaca, but not as many tall buildings or crazy liberal hippies. It’s a very boring and literally flat place. But I’ve come to appreciate it – Americana or whatever – and it’s even something sort of ‘exotic’ to many people. Sometimes I tell people I’m from Bozeman, Montana, because we have a lot of family there and always go skiing … and we just bought a house there. So yeah, South Dakota and sort of Montana.
Sun: So you managed to make even that question interesting — you’re from two places. What was the first instrument you learned to play?
S.S.: I always wanted to play drums, because they were the most badass. But the mother made me first take three years of piano. This was age eight. It was agonizing, but piano gave me a fundamental understanding of music: rhythm, theory, etc.
Sun: So when did you get to ditch the piano?
S.S.: I was finally allowed to take drum set lessons at age 11. Then I played percussion in band class all the way. When I was 13, my parents’ friend suggested I try guitar. Since this was a much better instrument to play by itself, I really liked it. Also, one day I picked up my older brother’s trumpet and figured that out well enough to play a few melodies. I took one or two trumpet lessons in high school, and the same goes for voice lessons.
Sun: The name Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES implies that there is more than one person in the band, but it’s actually just you. Where did you get the name from?
S.S.: The band name I found in a dictionary … well actually, Elsa is Scandinavian, which I am, and I also think it’s a very pretty name. When people ask who she is, I say that Elsa is the most wonderful girl that you can imagine … imagine being the key word. And awesome is a pretty awesome word to say, so why not say it twice?
Sun: So how did Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES come to be?
S.S.: In college, alone, I worked up to the acoustic guitar and played for friends and eventually gigged sophomore year. Bored with the acoustic guitar, where nearly every guy sounds pretty much the same — more or less whiny and overly romantic, trying really hard to get laid — I did some brainstorming. Looking at my strengths, I returned to the drums and also decided to embrace the electronic culture of kids these days. I had this philosophy: even if I had a live keyboard player, or even electric guitar, the sound would still just be coming out of a big black box, a speaker — so what difference does it make if there is anyone live making that noise?
Sun: How would you describe your sound?
S.S.: I do not want to limit myself to definition, but so far I’ve described my sound as space/dance/cowbell/jazz-ish.
Sun: What kinds of gigs have you done at Cornell?
S.S.: I’ve played several times at the Nines for various benefit concerts. Otherwise I’ve played a few frat parties and house parties. With my guitar I played at a few different cafes. I’d say my favorite gig was at the Nines for the Cover Africa benefit concert. My roommate John Lee was very involved in the Cover Africa program and he rapped a song with me as Famous Rapper John Lee. There were a lot of cute girls there, and everyone actually “got into it” and was dancing and it was awesome.
Sun: On the same note, you’re off to Cape Town the day after tomorrow, right? How come you chose to go to South Africa?
S.S.: Cape Town was the craziest place I could go with English — I was one semester short to go to a Spanish speaking country. It will be a total eye opener. Since a musician isn't saving the world or curing cancer, I’ve justified it to myself that I can be a Bono type guy, performing for benefits, raising awareness...
Sun: Will you be rocking up Africa?
S.S.: Heck yes I will be rocking in Africa! Another idea behind Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES is that we like to work with whatever we can get our hands on — a drumset obviously, which shouldn’t be too hard to find, plus I’m taking a small keyboard, but then anything else that’s around will be added into the show.
Sun: Do you have any questions that you want to ask yourself?
S.S.: My favorite random question is just to ask your favorite color. Unfortunately, I myself am unable to answer [it]. Once on a camping trip through Cornell, we were supposed to go in the forest. It turned out that we were supposed to be looking for things to help us survive if we were really lost, but I thought it was a meditative exercise, so the whole time I just thought about my favorite color. I decided to be undecided — they’re just all so nice.
To learn more about Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES, visit his website at http://samuelsveen.com.
The Plurals luster +++ Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES futurize
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Friday night @ Watermargin: In leather jackets, The Plurals played about an hour of punkish rock,...Friday night @ Watermargin:
In leather jackets, The Plurals played about an hour of punkish rock, covering Black Sabbath to Husker Du to the Smashing Pumpkins. But they also melted faces with tunes of their own doing, a certain “post-rock punk-pop (AKA “post-fun”).” It was generally moshable, loud and fun, though it lacked a particular rawness or energy or something of true punk rock. But I think they’re post that anyway. Anyway, Tommy the guitarist really did melt faces, inciting the praise of palm-up spirit fingers, Nick on bass rocked solid between bottles of Andre to the face, and Hattie kick snare crash bam boom banged with girl power.
About 40 or 50 folks gave the dining room a bit too much elbow room, but those who were there were enthused, and I personally partook in a bit of moshing myself. At one point the fire alarm went off and we begrudgingly exited, and the curb filled with many more peeps from the woodwork. Word on the street was that some drunk mistook the fire alarm for a light switch… drunks do the darndest things. But a cigarette-break-length inspection verified that indeed the building was not burning down, and everyone shuffled back in. The Plural’s played for another while, finishing with an encore.
Then Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES played. If you didn’t already know, uh, yeah, that’s my band. And it’s actually just me, with my own electronic music plus drumkit and singing and somersaults (an awesomeAWESOME band with real people also exists). I started out a bit rough with some new songs and a just a sip too much of fine champagne. But then my usual electroTetris catchy pants dance & bass straight from the Future flowed everyone right into the Robo Boogie. Also, I had on my buddy’s neon spandex ski suit, which was from the Future and awesome--thanks Jerome. So: The Plurals rocked, and they were awesome dudes and dudette to hang out with, and hey, they're from Michigan! Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES did the dance, and hey, that's me! LET'S JUST HAVE FUN! Samanarama
DIY and Future Suits: Musicians at The Shop
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Wednesday night, Daniel Francis Doyle along with local musicians Why the Wires, Elsa and the awesome...Wednesday night, Daniel Francis Doyle along with local musicians Why the Wires, Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES and the semi-local onemanriot will play The Shop. The show will be stop eight on Doyle’s 17-show tour, and I was lucky enough to speak with him about his music and the upcoming Ithaca show as he drove from Chicago to Pittsburgh.
The Sun: How did you get into playing music and the solo project you’re doing now?
Daniel Francis Doyle: [...] I was in a band with two friends for about six years. In 2005, we broke up and I didn’t know what to do [...] For the time being, I decided just to duct tape two guitars to amplifiers, and have a distortion pedal next to my foot. And I would just play drums along with feedback blasts and yell, and just went by my full name [...] Daniel Francis Doyle, instead of making up a band name, ’cause it’d be kind of funny. And then I got a loop pedal about a month into doing that — the feedback stuff — and I started incorporating the loop and the loops kind of took over, and I ditched the feedback set-up.
Sun: How do you find playing solo compares to working with other musicians?
DFD: It’s a lot different, obviously. In some ways it gives you more freedom to do whatever you want. And then in other ways, I have quite a bit of restraint and there’s a lot of stuff I can’t do ’cause I’m limited to my loop pedal which only can record a maximum of 28 seconds of guitar parts. […] It’s a lot more limited, but it makes it more fun because you have to really think about what parts of the musical ideas are important. Like, what do I have to leave out now so I can make this work with the 28 seconds?
Sun: I was wondering about sound effects on songs like “You’re Nowhere,” where, for example, it sounds like footsteps. Are those real or simulated? How do you get those effects?
DFD: Oh, uh, there’s a song that has footsteps on it?
Sun: It sounded like that to me, but maybe it wasn’t supposed to.
DFD: What was the song?
Sun:: “You’re Nowhere.”
DFD: Ya ... those are footsteps ... That’s me actually. I was jogging in the studio for that, in place [laughs]. I just put headphones on, and got the rhythm down and jogged in place.
Sun: When you play live, do you try to recreate those effects?
DFD: Actually, “You’re Nowhere” is an example of one of the songs that I do with a band, as opposed to guitar loops. […] It’s too intricate of a song for the loops. I actually arranged that with a bass player and a drummer — and just lots of overdubs, like that’s just me doing the three-part harmony ... overdubbing myself. And so with all those things combined, there’s no way I could do that on my own. But that would be really fun though, if I could jog in place on stage. In a live setting, that’d be neat.
Sun: There seems to be quite a dichotomy in your music between sing-songy tunes and harsher, less melodic ones — “Learning Things at School” as opposed to “Strange Way of Speaking.” What aspects of each do you find appealing?
DFD: Well, I guess I’ve always made up songs that are either like wimpy pop songs that I really like doing or really jerky loud […] stuff that I yell over. […] I guess it just kind of goes back and forth depending on what’s inspiring me at the moment.
Sun: When you play live do you tend to gravitate more towards one end of the spectrum?
DFD: Well, it used to be [when playing] live, it would lean more towards the loud stuff that I would shout over, because most of the soft stuff I would have on recordings would be with the full band. […] But now, I’m making up a lot of quieter, more melodic stuff with the loop pedal, so a lot of the loop songs that I play by myself are starting to become a little more melodic. It’s kind of split evenly down the middle now.
Sun: What have been some of the best shows you’ve played?
DFD: Well, so far, on this tour I’ve only played three shows. […] I guess last night was really great. I was able to open for Health. [...] They’re from Los Angeles, and they’re doing really good. […] It was really crowded and lively and fun, and it was at a cool venue in Chicago. […] I guess so far that was my favorite one on this tour. Yeah, but, all the shows have been good so far. All three of them [chuckles].
Sun:: What will you play on Wednesday?
DFD: Well, a couple of new songs, I guess, that lean more towards the melodic side of things, closer to “Learning Things at School” as you said, maybe farther away from “Strange Way of Speaking.” I’ll mostly be playing songs off the new record that I released in April [...] and that’ll be the majority of the set. It’ll just be me and my drums and loop pedal.
If Daniel Francis Doyle strikes your fancy, be sure to check out Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES. Also featuring live drums and singing along to recorded music, Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES is one of Sam Sveen’s ’10 various projects, musical and otherwise. I met Sveen (agreed-upon red fanny pack missing, I was able to spot him only by the bright yellow skateboard he had in tow) on campus to discuss his music.
The Sun: So, your name.
Sam Sveen: Sam Sveen.
Sun: No, not that one. Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES.
SS: Well, Elsa is the most wonderful girl you can imagine ... As in, imagine would be the key word there [laughs]. And then awesomeAWESOMES. Awesome’s a pretty awesome word so why not say it twice?
Sun: Your music is very drum-centric. In your live shows, what’s your set-up like?
SS: I just have my iPod ... I make all that music on Ableton Live. But [since] I got a free demo of it from a friend, [it] only lets me work with four different sounds. So that’s kind of cool, cause in a box you have to be more creative or whatever. […] I make all the music on my computer electronically, and then I throw that onto my iPod, and then I just play live drums over it [...] The whole philosophy […] is that even if I had a live guitar player or keyboards player […] what difference would that make if it were a live person playing that or not — ’cause it’s just coming out of a big black box, you know, a speaker? So, the live, acoustic drums [are] really the driving idea behind Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES.
Sun: How many instruments do you play, and which do you usually use for EATAA?
SS: I started on piano, like when I was eight [...] Then I took drum lessons for drum kit, and then I took snare, and then I played in marching band. […] I also took a trumpet lesson in high school, […] then guitar, bass guitar goes with guitar, ukulele, kazoo, maracas, cowbell [laughs]. Oh! Accordion, my grandpa’s accordion. Well, in the show, I mean I can only play one instrument at a time. Sometimes I play drums and keyboard at the same time ... You just drum with one hand and play the keyboard with the other.
Sun: You record everything yourself?
SS: Ya, ya, ya [...] big fan of DIY.
Sun: So what can we expect for Wednesday?
SS: Umm, [clears his throat] something from the future ... My first year, instead of being an English major, I was an engineer, actually. […] So [in] one of my labs, we got to tour the nano facility here [...] somehow we lucked out and we got to keep the suits that we toured in. They’re like these full body, white suits with a hood, and they’re awesome. So, I’ve been wearing that to shows lately.
Wednesday at eight at The Shop (312 E. Seneca St.), come see some recorded music live, local DIY bands and maybe even some stuff from the future. Tickets are $5.
This Ain't Maroon 5: Real Estate Performs
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Quick question: Did you know there was another concert besides Maroon 5 on Sunday night? To my surpr...Quick question: Did you know there was another concert besides Maroon 5 on Sunday night? To my surprise (and sadness, as I ripped up my A-Levine ticket), there was! In the quiet neighborhood that is College Ave., house number 106 held what turned out to be three incredible and fresh bands. The Fanclub concert’s headliner was Real Estate, a band from New Jersey, preceded by two opening bands: the awesomeAWESOMES and Madres de Juarez.
The show was set in the typical college house. The audience was in the living room — giving off the vibe of just hanging out, listening to your friends sing karaoke. The stage, a long dining room, was equipped with Baldwin Kruegan amps and Yamaha speakers with a tie-dye sheet acting as the backdrop.
This Ain't Maroon 5: Real Estate Performs
“You know you’re in competition with Maroon 5, right?” I asked Benj Gilman ’10 and Sebastian Helipern ’10 of Madres de Juarez as they were warming up. “Yeah, well people who listen to our stuff wouldn’t listen to their stuff anyways,” they responded. That statement couldn’t have been more true, except in the case of the few who had more heterogeneous tastes. While Maroon 5 had Barton Hall and $20 tickets, this show had kazoos and $1 beers for sale that no one was really keeping track of. And the aweomeAWESOMES made stickers.
For those of you who are freshmen, or at least freshmen to the underground world of music, Fanclub Collective is a group at Cornell that “puts on dance/folk/experimental/punk type shows,” according to their own description. They were praised by Jenny Eliscu in “Schools that Rock: The Rolling Stone College Guide” as “encouraging the development of a stronger indie rock scene in Ithaca … working to bring more obscure acts, and has succeeded in booking bands including Interpol & the Arcade Fire.” They are so indie-chill, that they describe themselves as being “kinda lax, but [they] aren’t the Cornell Concert Commission bringing things in for 200 people to vote on. [They] get things done … put on a lot of shows with not a lot of money.”
The fifty plus people that ended up coming to this show earned their indie stripes, all decked out in their flannel shirts, square glasses, skinny jeans and beards for the guys. One concert-goer even ironically remarked on how to dance in a typical indie fashion: “You stand still and kind of rock back and forth.” And like that, we were true hipsters.
First up on the bill was Fanclub Collective’s own Madres de Juarez, playing their first ever show. As their first of two songs began, they experienced some technical difficulties. After five minutes of getting things back on track, they thanked the audience for “sticking with us.” The audience, in a catatonic / indie trance, was ultimately too busy being mesmerized by their enchanting melodic sound.
After another break in the show it was the awesomeAWESOME’s turn to take the stage — comprised of Samuel Sveen ’10, Chris Bentley ’10 and Lauren Barbato ’10. The awesomeAWESOMES, who described themselves as the “next step of the Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES empire,” continued the psychedelic trend of the evening with catchy chants and rhythmic beats. But just as the audience started to sway slightly, their short set was over.
Finally, Real Estate took the stage. The band, although fresh off a stint at CMJ and currently touring with The Girls every night until December 3rd, couldn’t seem more relaxed. Their personalities reflect exactly the type of music they produce.
Members of Real Estate include Martin Courtney (lead vocals), guitarist Matt Mondanile, Etienne Pierre Dugay (on the drums) and Alex Bleeker (bass player). For this show, they were promoting their newest release Underwater Peoples, which resonates with their “beach” vibe. While it’s laughable that they list “New Jersey” as an influence on their Myspace page, it just goes to show the power of any beach, even if it isn’t the exactly the Caribbean.
Instead of that typical whiny, emo “Why me?” sound, listeners were treated to a fresher, more enjoyable anthem. There is something incredibly powerful in a band’s ability to transcend the audience’s current location and transport them to a faraway (and warmer) place. Real Estate did just that for the packed audience.
As the audience walked into out of the College Ave. house and into the dark streets of Ithaca, everyone was in an almost peaceful state of mind, reminiscing on the eclectic, yet contrastive sound from one another. Perhaps even giving way to a stronger indie culture here at Cornell.
Fan Club Hosts Four-Act Show at JAM Dorm
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Saturday night, the Fanclub Collective put on a rather unprecedented four-act show in North Campus’ ...Saturday night, the Fanclub Collective put on a rather unprecedented four-act show in North Campus’ own Just About Music dorm. Now, through my three years at Cornell, and despite the fact that I?have several JAM-resident friends, I have never actually been to one of their coffee-house shows (I am infinitely excited to cross it off of my list of things to do at Cornell).
The space was neat, inviting and just the right size to make a Fanclub show seem full to the brim, though I felt bad for the people who actually live there. Anyone trying to sleep at 11pm was undoubtedly having a terrible time doing so — the last band was particularly gut-bustingingly loud.
So, the first act we saw was Elsa and the Awesome-Awesomes, put on by Samuel Sveen ’10, accompanied by his iPod, drum set, trumpet and kazoo (and one bad monitor, unfortunately). As far as I can tell, Elsa and the Awesome-Awesomes is just the one guy, but his pronoun of choice is “we”nevertheless. I apologize if this is not correct, and hidden Elsa members pop out of the snow (like daisies) in the weeks to come.
In any case, the dude was pretty sweet. Quite the drummer, really. He had his iPod set up with preprogrammed beats, and just rocked along. He made some attempt at singing, though it was mostly talking over the music. He did some whistling, as well, alongside super quick drumming — definitely no easy feat. I was sufficiently impressed.
Sveen sampled a number of existing beats for his iPod tracks, my favorite being Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon,” during which he actually made an attempt at simultaneous drumming and trumpeting. Not the most successful move, but his quirky grin and high energy left me mostly uncaring.
Second up was the six-piece Caution Children, who hail from Ithaca College, and who (almost) all live in the same house on the South Hill. (I assume it’s very loud in that house.) Now, I’m a little biased here, because lead singer Stephen Burton is a good friend of mine from high school, but Caution Children, as usual, rocked out; they’re undeniably one of the most high-energy bands in the 14850, and the music itself is reminiscent of an old-school rock style.
Furthermore, despite a somewhat limited vocal range, the group showcases some of the most uber-catchy, alternative rock choruses imaginable, including one which involves yelling “holy shit” and making the soon-ubiquitous “pistols to the sky” gesture, which the group helped invent. (If this hasn’t made it to your hometown yet … don’t worry, it will.)
The band includes a singer, guitar, bass, drums, saxophone and a vintage Rhodes piano, played oh-so-lovingly by Aaron Terkel. Energy (pretty literally) radiates from these guys’ souls — or toes — and I highly recommend that you see them live.
The third bit was done by a guy who calls himself “Adventure.” It was just him, his computer and a mini-synth, and some techno beats that sounded more like videogames than anything else.
The crowd was basically going insane the entire time and, sure, that’s what the genre is about, but I must say, after a very short time, it really all sounded the same. The sound system that had earlier flummoxed Elsa and the Awesome-Awesomes was not doing this guy any favors either.
In any case, I am of the opinion that pre-recorded music works best when accompanied by super high-energy, and this guy was, unfortunately, missing it; he was mostly just standing. But hey, the crowd was dancing like it was 1999.
Unfortunately, the same dormancy plagued the final band, Videohippos, who were supposed to be the main attraction. The band put up a giant video screen (hence the name, I suppose) that filtered images in neon colors; they played partly on instruments and partly from pre-programmed sound.
OK, neat, but they played with their backs to the audience. I find this odd. And they were super loud (here’s where somnambulistic JAM residents got pissed).
That said, the music was quite awesome — though the drumbeat was repetitive — and the idea of the project is pretty interesting. The band is essentially two guys, Kevin and Jim, and their website offers a plea for collaboration:
“Anyone with something valuable to add can be in this ‘band.’ Don’t work in isolation.” The site gives a list of people who have contributed to the music and/or the video feed, and it’s quite a long list. Nice!
All in all, it was a pretty enjoyable evening. Thanks to the bands for doing what they do so well (too bad, though, about the crappy sound system, which unfortunately seems to be a pretty regular Fan Club feature); thanks to the JAM residents for putting up with the noise; thanks to the Fanclub for hosting; and thanks to all y’all who got the above Mulan reference. Check out these bands, kiddos.
Electronic Chopsticks (warm-up) ->
A Chair Between Blue and Green
We Will Call It Dance
Chameleon (with trumpet) ->
Sounds Kind of Like Space Interlude
There are no upcoming dates at this time.