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Friend Crush: A Sit Down with Shamir

Spotting Shamir Bailey near the media tent at Pitchfork Music Festival, it was clear that Shamir is not the same as he was in 2015. Wearing a black denim jacket and free of the long braids he sported at last year’s fest, there was more of an edge to the 21 year old artist out of Las Vegas. But don’t tell that to Shamir.

“Nothing has really changed except that I have a bass player now,” Shamir said. “And I’m headlining the stage I played last year.” With the meteoric rise following his 2015 release Ratchet, at this point being just over a year old, it’s easy to assume that Shamir would have changed from his cheerful and approachable self. Being in the spotlight and touring as much as he has is the recipe for becoming an exhausted and detached artist, but Shamir has avoided falling into this and remains one of indie’s darlings.

Playing 33 shows so far in 2016, most of them festival dates, Shamir’s time is occupied more with interviews and performances than, well, normal 21 year old things.

"It's still weird," Shamir replied when asked about being a young performer. "I'm still not mentally together about it, I still feel like the same teenager except that people know me better now." Shamir isn't far from the age of most of the DJs here at WLUW and the students at Loyola, yet he has a platform and visibility that most of us will never even come close to. Maturing in the limelight is something that we have seen artists go through in the past, and keeping a level head about it is important to staying true to artistic integrity and individual personality.

As with anything, this can be a struggle at times. "I can be very introverted some times but not necessarily when I do my music,” Shamir said, not with dejection but more as a statement of fact. "Even before then I was singing, music has always been a part of who I am and it’s helped me be a more open person and not as closed off." The guitar that Shamir received at age 9 was imperative to his musical journey, which he found solace in during alone time.

"I get a lot of friend crushes more than actual crushes because growing up I didn’t have too many friends," he said. "Now every time I see someone cool I'm like 'hi, be my friend'." Shamir went on to talk to us about the one song he'd definitely put on a mixtape for a crush: "Friend Crush" by the now defunct band Friends. Immediately after the interview, Shamir said hello to every fan who greeted him with the enthusiasm of someone seeing their best friend after time away from each other. A man of his word.

Individuality is the one area that Shamir will never struggle with. With a voice that is part Michael Jackson, part Nina Simone, and all Shamir, there is an unmistakable quality and immediate identifier that sets Shamir apart from every other artist at the festival. Watching the music video for perhaps his most famous song "On the Regular", the visuals are vivid and eccentric, yet it feels exactly as it should feel: normal. No matter what Shamir does, it will always be completely and unmistakably him


Wanna see more performance photos of Shamir and other artists from Pitchfork 2016? Head on over to our Facebook page to check em out!

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2016 Pitchfork Festival Recap

Sadly, another Pitchfork Festival has come and gone. The lineup this year contained many wonderful artists across plenty of different genres ranging from spiritual jazz to footwork to hip-hop to indie. Throughout a lovely weekend in July, the lawns of Union Park were filled with a gorgeous array of different sounds and vibes. Check out our recaps of each day below: 


Car Seat Headrest

The timid voice of a generation, Car Seat Headrest kicked off Pitchfork festival with a short but sweet mostly comprised of tracks off their new album, Teens of Denial. Lead singer/songwriter, Will Toledo sported black rimmed glasses, which he kept having to push up throughout this set, and a non-distinct, unassuming grey tee shirt. They began their performance while the majority of Pitchfork goers we’re still funneling in, and played to a modest but energetic crowd. The band did a wonderful cover of “Blackstar”, by the late great David Bowie, and Toldeo’s vocals served the song incredibly well. “Vincent” was a also highlight, made even better by a brief but intense bout of rain that began midway through the song. Fans sang along and bounced inflatable killer whales along to the melancholic and powerful “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”. The band closed their set with a powerful rendition of “Something Soon”, setting the perfect tone for the rest of the weekend.

Julia Holter

Julia Holter began her relaxed and minimal set with “Why Sad Song”, a track she played as a “peaceful response to all the horrors in the world”, referring to the too many awful events that had been populating news outlets for the past week. Holter’s set was a mesmerizing chamber pop odyssey. She, along with her cellist and violinist, treated the audience to a wonderful fifty minutes of buoyant and refined singer/songwriter bliss. Playing mostly tracks from her latest album Have You In My Wilderness, their setlist was gentle and gliding sonic journey, and absolutely gorgeous to listen to. Some of the songs had a loose structure, harkeing back to some of Holter's earlier work, and gave just the right amount of bite to her otherwise easy going and blissful setlist. To make things even better, the sun came out and provided the perfect weather for the first artist on the green stage for Pitchfork friday.



It’s hard not to be entranced by the charm that is Whitney. The band, lead by Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich, could barely fit all the members onto one stage. However, this did not deter them from playing one of the best sets of the day. It was their first time playing Pitchfork as Whitney in their hometown. They opened with “Dave’s Song” as Ehrlich’s voice echoed into the crowd, wrapping around us like a hug. As the show progressed, the band got more comfortable on stage, dancing and joking around with each other. They even covered Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.” The audience was smiling and bopping around, just happy to be there. Ehrlich was quite humble in his commentary between songs, making us feel more like friends than fans. As they played the opening notes of their hit “No Woman,” the audience shrilled in delight.  They finished with “Golden Days,” leaving us with the warm fuzzy feelings few bands can deliver.


Broken Social Scene

Playing only their second show in the United States after a five year hiatus (the first was the night prior at the Metro as a Pitchfork pre-show), Broken Social Scene sent festival goers into an hour-long trance. Playing old favorites, and even a new song with members of the band Aurora, Broken Social Scene had everyone feeling the summer vibes the whole night. Multiple band members took the stage, most of which switched instruments between songs. From rocking trombone solos, to riveting guitar rhythms, and spectacular vocals and harmonies, even those who never heard of Broken Social Scene were dancing enthusiastically. When it is summertime in Chicago, you just can’t go wrong with some good old indie rock.


Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen might seem like an odd choice for a festival focusing on indie music, but her Friday set fit right in. With an ever-changing backdrop and a slew of backing dancers on stage with the Canadian pop star (also, the saxophones!!!), Jepsen’s set was as entertaining as it was eye catching. Running through tracks from her album E•MO•TION, one of a recent string of pop albums to reach acclaim in indie circles, Jepsen and her legions of adoring fans put on a set so strong that she can no longer be considered simply guilty pleasure music. The guest appearance from Devonte Hynes of Blood Orange during “All That” was a nice touch as well.


Mick Jenkins

After starting almost 25 minutes late, Mick Jenkins delivered a powerful performance at Pitchfork Music Festival's blue stage. Tucked in a corner of the park, fans and music lovers packed the tree-covered stage and danced and grooved to Jenkins' beats. Playing tracks from his two released records, and some new ones off his upcoming release, THC, his performance was high energy and engaging. In between tracks, Jenkins kept the fans invovled with his performance by saying "Drink some", then pointing out to the crowd as they responded "water". In addition, Jenkins and his on stage team, a live drummer, vocalist, and DJ, did a small NWA cover of "F*** da Police". Also during his set, Jenkins gave the crowd a taste of what his vocalist was working on:  Summer Campman. Jenkins is a large advocate for peace, as he was constantly sharing the message of love and peace during his set. Mick Jenkins treated his hometown of Chicago to a great performance on the first day of Pitchfork Music Festival.


Beach House

There is no explaining the mythical powers of Victoria Legrand. She approached her keyboard hidden under the hood of her sparkling cloak, giving off a witch-like vibe. As the band started with the opening notes of “Levitation,” Beach House had the crowd all under their spell. The cool colors that flashed onto the backdrop of tiny starlights lent themselves to the trance-like state the we had all slipped into. The wind blew through the crowd as the band played big songs like “Wild” and “Myth” along with quite a few tracks from Depression Cherry. It was a great ending to the first day of the festival.



Circuit Des Yeux

Circuit Des Yeux kicked off day two with one of the most intoxicating and intricate sets Pitchfork had to offer. The outfits the band wore were as eclectic and fascinating as the music they played. The lead singer wore an baby blue jumpsuit and a cowboy hat, which, along with her long brown hair and the microphone, obscured her face for the duration of the set. The keyboardist donned a hospital white sportcoat and pants, a bright orange wig, a candy apple red cowboy ha,t and black John Lennon style glasses. The music they played was slow burning, ghostly, and rooted . The band had perfect chemistry, and each of the five members added something unique and beautiful to the haunting mix. The vocals hit a perfectly warbling midpoint between Antony (ANOHNI, Antony and the Johnsons) and Robbie Basho, and evoked images of the old west. It’s fair to say that Circuit des Yeux were the most underrated and underappreciated band at Pitchfork.


Girl Band

All the way from Dublin, Girl Band scared away the older crowd and brought in a mosh pit of the younger generation with their post-punk sounds. Loud drums, loud yelling, high-octave bass riffs, and a noisy and distorted electric guitar filled Pitchfork early on Saturday. This was nothing but an intense show through and through, and kept drawing people in wondering what was going on over at the red stage. Halfway through, people started leaving because they slowed it down and heard what was going over on the green stage which suited more to their liking. For those who stayed and enjoyed Girl Band’s set, they sure gave them a warm welcome to Chicago, as it was their first time in the city.


Kevin Morby

When you’re at a Kevin Morby show, your emotions are either at a mountain, or at a valley. Morby played selections from his three albums, including his latest single "I Have Been to the Mountain". For a few songs, Will Miller, known for his being in the band Whitney, played trumped in Morby's backing band. The band included three back up vocalists, one of which was Katy Goodman of La Sera, a lead guitarist/back up vocalist, a bassist, a drummer, and Kevin on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. They surprised the audience with a new live arrangment for “Miles, Miles, Miles”, which ended up being a highlight of their set. 


Martin Courtney:

As the smoke danced with the sunlight that slipped between the trees surrounding Blue Stage, there stood Martin Courtney. Formerly the front man of the band Real Estate, now performing as a solo act. He didn’t say much, and he didn’t look overly excited to be there, but what more could you expect. The crowd wasn’t fazed by this at all though, as they swayed and took in the serene sounds. Courtney exuded the same kind of melancholia you feel while listening to his album. He mostly stood in place, strumming his guitar and looking around at the crowd. He ended with his most popular song “Vestiges,” and thanked everyone for coming as he made his way off the stage.



Savages are without a doubt one of the best performances currently touring. The lead singer Jehney Beth sported all jet black clothing: a sport coat, pants and sunglasses. By the end of her set, she had been jumping and screaming around the stage to the point where her whole body was glistening with sweat. The crowd one of the rowdiest at pitchfork, and a circle mosh pit formed by the second set. Savages brought the sounds of the apocalypse to Union Park. T.I.W.H.G. was a particular highlight, and just about everyone in the packed crowd was either moshing or pumping their fist, or both. If they hadn’t already, Savages earned their name at Pitchfork.


Blood Orange

The next big pop star? That question kept going through my head whilst in the crowd during Blood Orange's set on Saturday.  From the second the beat dropped in the first track, music lovers literally couldn’t stop themselves from dancing around. Featuring new songs off of their latest release, Blood Orange, provided the grooviest, if not the sexiest performance at Pitchfork (so far). Not to mention that Carly Rae Jepsen was invited to join Blood Orange for a new track from their latest as well. Also to perform new music from their latest, Blood Orange brought out Empress Of! For a track! Aside from his amazing talent with singing, playing the piano, and shredding on guitar, Dev Hynes had the best dance moves at the festival, hands down.


Brian Wilson

Probably the most anticipated performance for most, Brian Wilson started his set a bit on the early side. After very politely thanking everyone for coming, he and his band launched into their 1966 masterpiece, Pet Sounds. The crowd sang along to every single lyric, and everyone used their best falsettos to hit the trademark high notes of Brian and Mike Love. The whole performance was magical, and Wilson’s aged voiced worked quite well in a live setting. Wilson’s backing band were also incredible, and the instrumental “Pet Sounds”, yielded several solos, which were without a doubt a highlight of the show. Without a doubt, though, God Only Knows was the most wonderful and heartwarming song of not only his set, but probably the whole weekend in general. You could all but feel the love in the air as everyone sang in unison to the now legendary song. In a odd but awesome turn of events, John Cusack stepped on stage along with Wilson’s wife and sung along to "Sloop John B.". After the last track from Pet Sounds, “Caroline, No”, Brian and his band closed their set by playing a few of their hits, most notably: “Good Vibrations”, “Surfin USA”, “Help Me Rhonda”, and “Fun Fun Fun”. The set was a beautiful celebration of a sublime work of art, and the vibrations emitted from Brian Wilson and the crowd alike were very, very, good.

Sufjan Stevens

They should rename this show the Sufjan Stevens Experience. After listening to his latest album Carrie & Lowell, I expected this to be a relaxed set where he played guitar and swayed around stage. Boy, was I wrong. He began the show by saying he was tired of sad songs and wanted to play upbeat ones, and that he did. Songs that didn’t have fast beats suddenly did and it was like one crazy dance party. There were at least three costume changes, bright rainbow colored lights flashing everywhere, and crazy backup dancers. Fellow Pitchfork performer Moses Sumney played along with him and sang along for the closer, "Kiss" by the dearly missed Prince. The accompaying visuals were so whimsical that by the end I wasn’t sure whether I was watching Sufjan Stevens or a crazed version of The Wiggles. I mean that as a compliment of course, and I have the utmost respect for an artist like Sufjan who can take something relaxed and make a loud and colorful production out of it. He even made himself into a human disco ball. It was wild.







Porches started off Sunday the right way. They played funky tunes that got everyone dancing, even in the blazing sun. The front man, Aaron Maine decked out in a Madonna tour t-shirt, was thrilled to see such a large crowd for the beginning of the day. “I thought there was going to be 30 people here and it was going to be sad, but it’s happy.”, Maine joked. They even surprised us by bringing out Dev Hynes (aka Blood Orange), to sing their hit “Forgiveness.” Overall, they were even better than expected. They danced, they joked around, and they sounded even better live than on their record.


Sun Ra Arkestra

Experimental Jazz legends, Sun Ra Arkestra were the first act on the blue stage for Pitchfork Sunday. Their set began with a few cosmic themed poems read on behalf of their late baritone saxophonist Charles Davis, who passed away earlier that week. In total, the Arkestra had thirteen members, and collectively produced a wonderfully whimsical and far out sound. Their 92 year old lead saxophonist brought the non existent house down with his wailing, abrasive saxophone solos. Yes, you read that right, he was 92 years old. The band got a little bluesy about halfway through their set, and each of the band members took a short solo to some jazz blues changes. The crowd vibed along with the group throughout, bobbing their heads. Their set ended with a somewhat awkward teased encore that didn’t end up coming to fruition. Nonetheless, Sun Ra Arkestra proved that cosmic jazz is alive, well, and kicking. 


Kamasi Washington.

Kamasi Washington sauntered out and blew everyone’s pink pastel hats right off their heads with a mind blowing set of high energy jazz. Playing just a four songs, Washignton and his band displayed their chops and proved themselves to be one of the best jazz bands touring today. Washington brought his father out to play along with the band on "Cherokee". Washington Sr. proved that he could keep up with the youngsters, and played an absolutely astounding several minute long solo. Their bassist, Miles Mosely had perhaps the most impressive solo of the set, though, playing a bass solo so groovy and complex that I almost had the wind knocked out of me. Their keyboardist was also fantastic as well, and along with the two, count ‘em, two drummers, Kamasi had the perfect backing band. It should come as no surprise that the man himself also provided a number of mesmerizing solos. The crowd was fairly packed, proving once and for all that jazz is still relevant, and still popular.



The 6-piece group sounded perfect as you could focus on any instrument and hear it. A few songs into the set, the band invited a seventh member, a trumpet player, to play a track from their latest release: Sun City Eater in the River of Light. It wasn’t hard to figure out that most of the band has had experience playing jazz music, as when there were breaks in lyrics, it seemed like Woods was just jamming on a chord progression, showing off their musical skills with impressive solos. With the chill vibes they were putting out, Woods provided a perfect backdrop to a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon.


BJ the Chicago Kid

I had never seen BJ the Chicago Kid live before his set at Pitchfork, and he did not disappoint. I was completely taken aback as he grabbed the mic and belted out he first notes of his opening song. This guy really has an incredible voice. He also has a great stage presence. Whether he was banging on the drums or serenading the fans in the front row, he kept everyone’s attention. He played other well known Chicago rappers like Kanye and Chance to get people hyped up between songs. Taking the mic, he told us that his job wasn’t just to perform but to help us forget about the bad in the world. With bumping rhythms and great vocals, it was easy to get lost in the music and do just that.



Neo Jessica Joshua is possibly the cutest thing to ever come out of the U.K. People around me were shocked as this tiny British girl, with her squeaky little voice, belted out the first notes of her opening song. She may be small, but boy is that voice mighty. She danced around the stage and the audience was immediately captivated by her, cheering and dancing along to every song. She never stopped dancing, and neither did the crowd. Joshua was so humbled by the number of people there, putting her hand on her heart as she continuously thanked us for coming to see her. It was hard not to fall in love with everything about her.


Empress Of

Empress Of was one of many victims of the blue stage delays. Playing about a half an hour later than expected, Lorely Rodriguez aka Empress Of took the stage alone and delivered a powerful performance. Her set was a bass-heavy, dance-a-thon and the crowd fed off of her amazing energy. Many of her songs flowed perfectly into one another, and the totality of her performance was as cohesive as it was energetic. Near the end, Empress Of played a short clip of Under Pressure by the late great David Bowie and Queen, which prompted many of the people standing around me to sing along while the bass drum slammed into our ears. All of Empress Of's songs translated perfectly into a live setting, and she proved herself to be one of the most creative alt pop artists making music today. 


Neon Indian

The whole band came out in matching outfits of entirely black and white, contradicting every preconceived notion I held that they would be wearing neon at the show. Although their outfits were bland, the set was not. They immediately had the crowd waving their hands in the air and dancing around by the second song. The lead singer, Alan Palomo, rocked around the stage and proved to us that he had some pretty serious dance moves. They played old classics like “Deadbeat Summer” and ended with “Polish Girl,” which got everyone really excited. They even tried to play one more song until they were told to shut it down by festival staff for running overtime.



The sun was setting behind the church just outside the park, providing a perfect scene for Thundercat at pitchfork music festival. Festival goers found a sanctuary amidst upbeat dance music that filled the festival earlier in the day. Rocking a massive 6-string bass guitar, Thundercat filled the blue stage with smooth jazz, and light vocals. It wouldn’t be a jazz show without members alternating on solos, each showing off their talent that took years and years of practice. Thundercat sure gave the fans packed in at the blue stage as they played what seemed to be an orchestrated jam session.



Miguel was one of the highlights of Sunday afternoon. His band, all decked out in white, came out first and played a long intro before he finally joined them onstage. He was greeted by a screaming crowd who was very excited to see him. He immediately got everyone jumping and dancing within minutes of coming out. Miguel has a rare stage presence that most artists strive for. He’s a great dancer, and when he smiles audiences shriek in delight. In between songs, he spoke about solidarity and love and being advocates for change, to which the crowd loudly applauded in agreement. It seemed like a peace rally and a dance party all bundled into one show. Many were sad to see it end.



Coming all the way from Amsterdam, and playing their second show ever in America, LUH (Lost under Heaven) was greeted to a large crowd, especially since they were going up against FKA Twigs on another stage. Unfortunately due to sound check problems and the stage already being behind schedule, LUH's set was cut down to a mere 20 minutes. But that didn’t stop them from bringing their thumping bass and powerful vocals to liven up a Sunday night in Chicago. Playing only a handful of tracks from their debut album Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing, LUH gave it their all until they were practically kicked off stage from the festival planners. But before they left, they made a promise to fans at their set that they will be returning again to Chicago soon.


FKA Twigs

FKA Twigs is probably one of the best performers of our lifetime. I know that is a bold statement, but once you see her live you will understand. She plans her sets out so well that it feels like you’re attending something so much bigger than a concert. With eccentric costumes, backup dancers, and perfectly timed light shows, you can’t help but be amazed. Not only does she have an amazing range, but the girl can dance. People around me that had never seen her before, left as newly converted Twigs fans.  She puts on a beautiful and unforgettable show, ending Pitchfork festival with a bang.


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Interview | Rollercoasterwater Talks their New EP, N64, Charli XCX and Snails.

Rollercoasterwater are an experimental psych-pop group based in Los Angeles. Their new EP, Umami Sounding Fireball is a kaleidoscopic odyssey into the cascading and colorful msuical visions of singer Chuck Behring and percussionist Robin Levy. WLUW caught up with them over the phone and talked about their history, influences, and future.

WLUW: First of all, I just want to congratulate you on the awesome new EP, we’ve been playing it a ton on our station and we dig it a lot.

Chuck Behring: Yeah that’s awesome, we worked really hard on that thing. We worked a good month and a half at our friends studio and he helped us with some of the production on the live instruments and its definitely more acoustic, there’s more acoustic drums, guitar, and i’m kind of an electronic guy so its refreshing detour for me to play around with recording live more stuff live and he helped us record it, he’s in this band named Vinyl Williams, definitely check them out if you dig us. 

WLUW: Could you introduce yourselves? 

CB: I’m Chuck ‘Chuckie’ Behring from Rollercoasterwater, I’m the singer and I play the sampler. I kind of do a lot of stuff on the computer and midi that I put through the sampler, and I play guitar in the band at the same time. And I’m here with my drummer…

Robin Levy: Robin Levy. I play drums. I do some sampling as well, with the sample pad, some electronic stuff. All the percussion in the music.

CB: What we do is, I create an outline on the computer, some basic midi stuff, some simple melodies and chords and textures and stuff and I bring it to him and he and I work together to figure out how it can work rhythmically and if there should be live drums or just sample pad, and then we add a bunch of special effects over it. It turns out to be some psychedelic dream pop or whatever category we fit in (laughs) but we’re Rollercoasterwater.

WLUW: How did you two meet? What is history of Rollercoasterwater? 

RL: Me and Chuck have grown up in the same town, we knew of each other High School together but didn’t know each other and we met in college. We both went to a college called Cal State Northridge. We met there because we were both involved in music and we hung out and jammed a couple times.

CB: It was that thing where we both knew of each other in high school, but we didn’t talk because we weren’t in the same group, I was a choir nerd and he was a band geek type of thing. But then once we converged in college, things really clicked pretty quickly when we started jamming, and there was a mutual admiration. He can do stuff that I can’t even think of, and it’s really awesome to work with him.

RL: The other thing is Chuck was Rollercoasterwater before I was Rollercoasterwater, so we started jamming, him already having a bunch of music under rollercoasterwater

CB: and I had played a few shows solo, like Panda Bear, Grimes’ style, just me and my sampler singing, but I needed some help - it was pretty complicated stuff and I needed some help, some live percussion, something more than just the sampler. Although that was great to, and people who do that are awesome, but it was just as awesome to bring Robin in and have Rollercoasterwater matriculate into something even better.

WLUW: Titles seem to be such a prominent part of your music. Where did the name Rollercoasterwater come from?

CB: Rollercoasterwater came from my first drug experience, it was on a thing called Salvia, which was legal in Cali at the time. It’s an extremely potent psychedelic, and it was the first anything I ever took, I think I was 14 years old, had never even had a beer. I had no idea what it was, going to the dentist was the most I had ever done, as far as being in a different state of conscious. But my friends invited me over, and had it, and they started smoking it, I tried to do it and it wasn’t working, and I ended up taking a big hit of it, and it hit me like a wall. Anyone who has taken salvia where it’s legal knows it’s kind of this thing where you like go beyond time. And I kind of saw the music I was going to make, and I saw this image of myself, my whole life flash before my eyes, and my head felt like a rollercoaster. I don’t know if you’ve played Mario 64, but you know how he jumps in the painting, and it kind of ripples? That’s what was happening to everything, and Rollercoasterwater made sense in my head. The next day, I started Rollercoasterwater, and I had faith in the project so much. It was really intense. A lot of the music I made in that time was some of the best stuff I made I think.

WLUW: Is that the same origin story behind the song “Glideboy 64”?

CB: Yeah kind of, “Glideboy 64” is a very optimistic song about how creativity is my way of getting through anything. Making some type of creative thing can solve whatever problem I have. Rollercoasterwater had taken us to so many crazy places, actual physical places, and allowed us to meet so many people..

RL: A quick side note, the N64 is one of our favorite consoles ever. The N64 is an aspect in so much of what we do, the names we choose, the songs we make. The games from N64 as a console itself, is probably one of the biggest influences in our music.

CB: We are hugely, hugely influenced by video game music, especially videogame music from the 90’s. I think that’s probably some of the best compositional music that was made in the 20th century, as far as I’m concerned. The next thing we’re working on right now is so N64, compositionally, texturally, but it has a psychedelic aftertaste and a percussive thing going on that we add to it, but it’s super N64, we’re so influenced by that and people our age are so nostalgic when they hear that type of music, and I think that’s such a fun thing to exploit in our audience.

WLUW: What is a passion you have outside of music that you think helps with songwriting and performing?

CB: Video games for sure, they play a big part in creative flow .people in science are now talking about flow, and a lot of people who are creative in their career, they find themselves getting a lot of stuff done in a very short period of time, a flow where they sort of go out of time. I think having a time outside of being creative and just playing is really important for an adult, especially because we don’t really have time to play in real life. But other than video games, I’ve lost 80 pounds since high school and i’ve done that through cooking. I’m super influenced in music through taste, it’s sort of synet, When I hear music, I can almost taste it, I can hear the balance of certain tones, flavors that compliment each other or accentuate each other, in a way that like salt or pepper or salt and sweet make each other more dramatic, cooking is huge.

WLUW: Seeing as you two recently graduated from college, how did you manage to put out so much music while in school? How did you manage to juggle your creative life with your academic life?

CB: It was very challenging. It was hard to get through it actually. We both got a degree in music studies, and we love the school, and the people we met are awesome, and so many people we met are going to go on to become these crazy people, who are gonna be executives at live nation or something, and those connections might be really valuable down the line. It’s hard to write in school, it’s definitely something we would do on the weekends and if we had like a break, we would dedicate it to music. We recorded the EP literally in the only amount of time we had over winter break. I always have sketches, song sketches or ideas on my computer that I make quickly wherever I am, school or something. But most of the stuff that’s actually good, you have to spend a fair amount of time and make sure it becomes its own idea.

RL: And I feel like studying music and having a music degree, what’s really helpful is that you make music your life in every aspect. But it’s very challenging to spend all day doing music for school and then having some free time and not wanting to touch music. I would have those days where I would play drums for a class, I would play piano for a class, I would think about harmonies for a class, and then when I got home at 8 at night, I just wanted to not. Watch netflix or something

CB: It turns it into work at a certain point.

RL: But Overall music will always be my full time/overtime job. I don’t mind that much.

CB: it was interesting, but, i’m glad to be done with school. We’re going to be making so much more music, so much quicker, even since graduating we’ve made so much stuff and it’s some of the best stuff we’ve made.

WLUW: If Rollercoasterwater were an actual body of water, what would it be?

RL: I feel like a very, very dark but clear blue wading pool that spins. I know of these things in South America, something like one of those weird bodies of water that is very small but has movement for some reason.

CB: And with giant snails going in circles around it, causing the spinning. I agree 100%.

RL: When I was in Belize there’s this thing called the big blue dot or something. It’s this huge small pond, but it has this huge underwater cave that goes straight down. And because it’s so deep that when you look at it, it’s a really really beautiful color of like light blue all the way down.

CB: It’s so weird that some water is like blue. And other water is not, sometimes it’s clear and sometimes it’s not. Anyway

WLUW: You two have always been pushing the limits of psych-pop, but it seems like as you’ve progressed, and especially with songs like Strobe Froth or Trying to Maze you’re getting more and more abstract and experimental as you continue to release music. Is this trend going to continue on the next album?

CB: Totally, Strobe Froth is as trippy as it gets. The funny story about that song is we literally recorded an old strobe light. It was this old strobe that must have been in a wooden box, and it made this really weird clicking noise. It sounds like a bike, people always think it’s a bike, but it’s actually a strobe light we recorded in a studio, just turning it up and down. It made this really weird loud sound. And we just had this giant indian drum and a whole bunch of other crazy stuff just laying around, and we were like, let’s throw it together and it became this crazy thing that just, worked. But I think it has to do with how you make it, if you’re inspired by the object you’re recording it’s a pretty interesting paradigm to approach it from. Psych-pop is a really interesting idea like, bands like Animal Collective, or Of Montreal, or MGMT are all staples in that genre but they’re all so different. Psychedelic music is just music that makes you feel trippy. Psych-pop could be Black Dice, like vomit noises distorted, or PC Music, or candy sugar music that’s just so trippy and unbelievable. It’s bigger than most people realize, people like Rihanna and Miley Cyrus are basically psychedelic, even Justin Bieber’s new music...

RL: Don’t call it psychedelic

CB: *laughs* I wouldn’t say it’s psychedelic

RL: It’s connected with psychedelic music, definitely.

CB: It’s trippy! The instrumentals are tripper than the old stuff, his pop music from the 2000’s. There’s almost a push in that way, I think the 20’s are going to be super psychedelic. I’ve been saying that for a long time. By 2020, mainstream culture is going to be very, very trippy and I’m pretty excited for it.

RL: As to your earlier question, are we going into a more ambient or pop direction, definitely both, 100%. It reminds me of this feeling i’ve been having recently. It’s funny you’ve mentioned bands like MGMT because I know they’ve been having similar feelings from interviews I’ve read. When I look back to Dripping Retina, our first album, my favorite songs from that album are nowhere near the most popular songs from that album. The most popular song for us on that album is “Chiropractor”. Recently I started getting frustrated with it because I don’t like playing it live that much. But most people I talk to it’s their favorite song because it’s so easy to digest. My favorite song is “Everything is Fine”, but that’s one of the least popular. And I know MGMT has the same problem, they’ll never be able to play a show again and not play “Electric Feel” without getting fired or letting down their fans. So we’ll do more pop stuff, and definitely some more way crazier stuff.

CB: I love pop music. I kind of went through this thing during these past few years, where I used to be like “oh no that’s way too pop”. I would listen to like I said earlier, like vomit noises distorted or whatever. And that stuff’s awesome. But now I listen to like Janet Jackson. Pop music is pretty psychedelic melodically, if you go beyond the pretense of what’s associated with what you’re listening to. It’s kind of like, “oh wow thats a crazy transition” or “that’s a crazy horn”, you could put a psychedelic filter over it and that would be a great psychedelic pop song, that’s how I look at a lot of music, whatever package it’s in, I try to hear it for what it is. But, I definitely think we’ll do both (ambient and pop).

WLUW: If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only bring three albums, which three would you bring?  

CB: Honestly, the Donkey Kong Country 2 Soundtrack by David Wise. Literally, it’s so influential. I think that’s what music in 20 years is going to sound like. We haven’t even seen the full scope of that individual’s body of works influence yet. So much hip hop, so much pop has sampled that it’s not even funny.

RL: Geez louise. If I had to think about something I could listen to over and over again, I want to pick something new, but I also want something old. As long as I could take my vinyl setup, honestly... it’s gonna seem cliche but I would probably take Dark Side of The Moon. I’ve listened to some original pressings of that a couple times and it’s such a spiritual experience. It seems like such a cliche psychedelic stoner thing to say but that’s what I am so I’m ok with it *laughs*.

CB: I don’t know what the last one would be, I feel like we both like. We listen to Blank Banshee over and over again. I think Blank Banshee would be the third one, to offset the other two.

RL: Which one though?

CB: Zero.

RL: Yeah.

CB: Blank Banshee is this artist from Canada who’s doing like vaporwave-trap and it’s just perfect, basically.

RL: It’s the best of all worlds

CB: It’s basically perfect electronic music in a lot of ways. So: Donkey Kong Country 2 - David Weiss, Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd, Blank Banshee - Zero. Yeah that’s perfect.

RL: That sounds good, I could listen to that right now.  

WLUW: What are some of your favorite albums that have come out recently?

RL: This isn’t necessarily pertaining to Rollercoasterwater, it’s just another part of my musical brain. There’s this new Bassnectar album that just came out that’s really rad. I love bassnectar, the album came out like a week ago so it’s fresh in my mind.

CB: We’re so into electronic music, it’s ridiculous, Part of what we’re doing right now is we’re making this N64 pop music, but it’s also going to be dance music, not necessarily EDM or anything, well it could be, if people want to call it that, but we love dance music, we have parties all the time at our house and that’s what we play. I love the new Charli XCX album, I think that’s really, really sick. That’s probably my favorite thing from this year, it’s like a new pop sound.

WLUW: It’s very cutting edge.

CB: PC music is super cutting edge. Yeah, that’s the perfect way to describe it.

RL: Yeah, literally, I’m not as big a fan of PC music as Chuck, to me it feels like an edge literally cutting.

CB: Yeah cutting edge is the perfect way to describe PC music; sonically, and physically and culturally, so that’s good.

WLUW: What’s next for Rollercoasterwater?

CB: The thing we’re working on rightnow is going to be a full length album, and it’s going to be self titled. It’s going to be dance oriented and N64 inspired, and video game music inspired, and the cover will feature a roller coaster made of water. We’re working with an artist and it’s going to be super rad and the songs are coming together really well.

RL: For the writing process we’ll be in LA, but we have gone on a tour already, and we hope to  travel the whole country. We have some good support on the other side of the states between Chicago, Atlanta, and New York. We’d love to see as many places as we can and show people what we’re about.

CB: Tour was so much fun, we met so many cool artists and cool people. Definitely want to tour again.

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Album Review | Mutual Benefit - Skip a Sinking Stone

Skip a Sinking Stone is Mutual Benefit’s sophomore album and the first since 2013’s Love’s Crushing Diamond.  Skip a Sinking Stone is a continuation of the instrumental greenery and plucky mysticism that were present in Love’s Crushing Diamond. It builds on the light synths, colorful violin, and minimalist vocals while creating an exquisite instrumental landscape. The mood of the album is perpetually calm and soothing. While songs vary from floaty acoustic folk tracks like Lost Dreamers to grand walls of bright sound on Skipping Stones , the album never loses its reflective, quietly mesmerizing character or its ornate orchestral folk and dream pop tone.


Mutual Benefit essentially is comprised of one man-American  singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jordan Lee. He drifts between different U.S. cities, collaborating with chosen musicians as he travels. Lee’s nomadic lifestyle is and evident inspiration for the themes of this album. The album’s attains an introspective and contemplative tone. The themes of impermanence in life and the acceptance of failure are intimately relatable. The title Skip a Sinking Stone comes from the comparison of the ups and downs of skipping stones across a lake; some throws work out better than others.


“Not for Nothing” is the first single that was released this past winter from Skip a Sinking Stone. This track is built by acoustic guitar and piano and seems to be a shift in style. It is a more simple arrangement than fans are used to. It shows an ambitious willingness to experiment and a refusal to be categorized. However, this album preserves many of their previous stable elements of warm synths and lush orchestration consisting of flute, violin, oboe, and cello.


The music on this album flows so effortlessly and cohesively that it excels as a complete listening experience, rather than a track-by-track observation

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Album Review | King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Nonagon Infinity

Their fourth album in less than two years, Nonagon Infinity is the latest from the Australian seven piece psych-rock band, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. It is also their eighth album since the band formed in 2010. This album serves an abundance of riff-heavy head-bangers. Nonagon Infinity is also assembled as an infinite loop, with each track flawlessly melting into the next. The finals notes of the album connect seamlessly with the album’s opening. A “nonagon” is a nine-sided polygon and there are nine tracks on this album, while the “infinity” refers to the infinite loop.

Nonagon Infinity is a plethora of frantic drums, wonky guitars, bluesy harmonicas, and echoed vocal lines. Stu McKenzie, frontman and guitarist, says “I wanted to have an album where all these riffs and grooves just kept coming in and out the whole time, so a song wasn’t just a song, it was part of a loop, part of this whole experience where it feels like it doesn’t end and doesn’t need to end.” Creative concepts such as this are not out of the ordinary for this band. They recorded an album once where every song was exactly 10 minutes and 10 seconds long. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard deliver a fusion of elements such as jazz, punk, 60’s psych-rock, garage rock, metal and soul. The opening song "Robot Stop" leads Nonagon Infinity with a multitude of punk rock riffs, while introducing a dark mantra describing the dull lifestyle of nonstop touring: “My body’s overworked / It’s just the same I know / When can my body work / Cold static overload?” King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s words are vague and mysterious, giving life to worn emotions and offering commentary on the dark side of human nature. The fluidity of this album combined with the head-banging riffs and honest lyrics proves that it is the band’s most explosively impressive work. 

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