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￼They’re smart. They’re funny. They’re in a band. Wait, there’s more. Joywave are five hardened criminals from Rochester, NY, making conceptual, humorously self-aware indie pop that’s both meta and personal, retro and cutting edge, all-ages and sophisticated. To step inside a Joywave song is to lose yourself in a thoughtfully-curated, tech-savvy synthesis of emotions, genres and random noise, blended into an eminently danceable DIY sound smoothie. Add to that an energetic and seamless live performance (as Rolling Stone said of their 2014 Lollapalooza show, “Joywave brought the disco to the forest”) not to mention lead singer Daniel Armbruster’s unforgettable mustache, and the result is a buzz that won’t stop growing.
But things haven’t always been this up—Joywave’s is a post-recession survival story of creativity fueled by hopelessness. The five band members—vocalist Daniel Armbruster, guitarist Joseph Morinelli, bassist Sean Donnelly, keyboardist Benjamin Bailey, and drummerPaul Brenner—met at school in the economically-depressed blue collar town of Rochester, in western New York state. Daniel and Sean initially teamed up because “Sean had some software I wanted,” says Daniel, and the band went through various incarnations, including a joke band whose songs satirized contemporary pop hits. “Within a couple months of starting this fake band we did a showcase for a major label,” says Daniel. “We were like ‘guys, this is a joke, thank you for the pizza’.” The next endeavor was more traditional guitar rock. “We learned opposite things from those two bands,” says Sean. “Basically that the whole music industry is a giant shit storm, so we should do whatever makes us happy. That is what led to the genre-hopping and experimentation of our current sound.”
Joywave as we now know it officially formed in January 2010, and they released their first mix tape in March 2011, 77777, which Daniel describes as “a space odyssey constructed around one cohesive fictional story.” It was followed by the “88888” mix tape, and their EP, Koda Vista. Joywave’s early releases enabled the band to explore which viewpoints and genres best suited Daniel’s voice, until they were finally ready to record their debut album, How Do You Feel Now? It’s a record that’s deeply personal to Armbruster, who never imagined that as an adult he’d still be living at his parents’ house and making music in the basement with the same friends he’d had since high school. “I still sleep in the same bed that I did when I was in seventh grade,” he says. “In seventh grade you think you know where life’s going to go and then you’re like ‘wow, I didn’t do anything yet,’ which is super disappointing and super eye opening too. So this album has been completely inspired by the idea of wasting away at home and watching your life fly by.”
Signing with Hollywood Records in 2013 enabled them to get out of Daniel’s basement and rent their own studio, a free standing cottage in Rochester that resembles a “weird Soviet dentist’s office” whose plumbing stopped working during recording, and whose ceiling caved in. “When the plumbing went down for a couple weeks, part of the consequence of that was that we felt compelled to record ourselves peeing into milk cartons,” says Armbruster. The “whoosh of the pee stream” made it onto the beginning of one of the tracks. In fact, the entire album is a tapestry of field recordings and app-mutated sounds: noises from a Jet Blue flight, hallelujahs of a choir in Brooklyn, and samples from Fantasia, Peter Pan, and Bambi (Joywave is the first band Disney has allowed to sample its classic cartoons).
￼￼The last 12 months have seen a flurry of activity for the quintet—they released the How Do You Feel? EP, played a packed SXSW showcase, opened for the Killers, made waves at Lollapalooza and toured the US, Europe and UK for the first time. They’ve already had two tracks hit #1 on Hype Machine, and their hotly- anticipated debut album, How Do You Feel Now? is scheduled for release April 21st.
￼“Somebody New,” the first single off How Do You Feel Now? is a “lazy love song” that was born after Armbruster had a dream in which Skrillex was DJ’ing “this hilarious song, with this ‘woop woop’ dubstep riff. When I woke up I thought it would be funny to build a song around that.” The “Somebody New” video was directed by Keith Schofield (Duck Sauce, Beck, Bastille.)
The infectious “Tongues” is a reaction to Armbruster’s experience as a DJ, seeing the same fun-time people week after week, and having them describe in detail all the things they wanted to do with their lives, but never did. The buzz-inducing video for “Tongues” (directed by The Daniels) features an almost entirely naked cast shot on 16mm, Joywave’s attempt to take the trend of putting naked girls in music videos and poke fun at it in their typically atypical style.
Obsessed with the processes and concepts behind music making, they cite pop’s great explorers—Damon Albarn and Kanye West, for example—as inspirations. Not that they sound like them, necessarily—for Joywave, what’s inspiring, more so than a specific song or artist, is a dedication to reinvention. “We tip our hat to people who do want they want to do and constantly reinvent themselves,” says Daniel. “People who say ‘I am going to do exactly what I want to do right now, and not worry about what I did before or what the last track sounded like.’ That level of reckless creativity is what we continually aspire to.”
2012 is shaping up to be a big year for Oberhofer. The debut record by the Tacoma native, titled Time Capsules II, will be released on March 27th by Glassnote. This album is a bold and exciting statement for Brad Oberhofer, recorded in Brooklyn last fall with legendary producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, The Rolling Stones, Morrissey among others).
Emotion is what drives the psychedelic catchy pop rock tunes crafted by the oft-effervescent Brad Oberhofer. Drawing on influences ranging from Brian Wilson to Descartes, the 21 year old is fixated on the idea of making philosophically minded, energetic melodies that just make people smile. After moving to Brooklyn from his hometown of Tacoma, Washington, to attend New York University, Brad quickly immersed himself in the indie rock community forming the 4 piece which is now quite simply, Oberhofer. Catching the attention of Glassnote Records, the band officially joined the labels’ roster over the summer of 2011.
“A kaleidoscopic piece of chamber-pop, featuring pianos, harp, strings, and whirring keyboards, with Brad’s heartfelt vocal floating over the circus below.” –Spin
“Oberhofer hones his formula on the album’s grandiose opening track, “HEART”, which makes use of some sparkling keys and orchestral strings.” –Pitchfork
“A sparkly pop debut that fits well beside works by labelmate Phoenix.” –Billboard (Best Bets of 2012)
If one wanted to describe 18 year old Grace Mitchell in a nutshell one might say she’s a post-Yeezus, highly aware pop disruptor with a lifelong reverence for Tori Amos and a frenetic, fiery sound that raises a middle finger to the zeitgeist while possessing the power to reshape it- but that’s just the beginning.
“We’re always trying to innovate and make pop music sound fresh,” she declares. “It’s never standard or formulaic. It’s experimental, and I’m telling stories.”
In order to properly convey that style, the Oregon native locked herself in a Los Angeles studio with Mark Foster of Foster The People back in 2014. When they emerged, she came armed with an explosive sonic concoction that’s as danceable as it is deadly.
“What I hear naturally and what he hears naturally are two very different things, but theycomplement each other,” she goes on. “The more time we spent together, we identified something very articulable. It’s more creative, but still poppy and at a really fast tempo.”
On her 2015 Race Day EP, the schizophrenic slap of “Jitter” shifts from a skittering vocal sample into an eerily catchy harmony and funked-up break with lines like, “We don’t care if you can see, everyone’s jittering.” Over a hyper kinetic backdrop, Grace weaves together a different kind of take on that “high school party set piece” from your favorite movie.
“We originally wanted to make it a ballad,” she admits. “Then, it just got faster and faster with that vocal sample. We decided to make it about that idealist young adult party situation. However, it’s high energy, reckless, promiscuous, and provocative. It’s a good
indication of what I’m doing.”
(There was another character from the Pacific Northwest who sang about teenage disillusionment like this say 25 years ago or so, and it worked out for him…just saying!)
Elsewhere, “Breaking Hearts and Taking Names” is what she dubs, “a classic party song, but more empowering and thought-provoking.” Then, there’s the title track, which nods to her hometown of Eugene, OR nicknamed “TrackTown USA.”
Signed to Republic Records in 2013, Grace officially entered the race with her cover of “Maneater,” which appeared on the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Her debut EP, Design, got the blogs buzzing in 2014 with tracks like the single “Broken Over You.”
Ultimately, you’re going to have a lot to say about Grace once Race Day drops. “With this EP, I’d like for people to be able to relate to the music in a direct way or even on a more subconscious manner,” she leaves off. “These are my observations of what I’m seeing. You can take the stories or the ‘fuck you’ from it.”
Roger Sellers is a lot of things. He’s a minimalist composer with a knack for making hypnotic, enveloping songs from a few repeated musical phrases. He’s a gifted musician who is mostly self-taught, having abandoned formal study because it was draining the life from his work. He’s a self-described disciple of Phil Collins. What he is not, however — despite multiple press reports to the contrary — is a DJ.
“I started developing a decent following in Austin,” he says, “but most of the time when I would play, the press would say something like ‘Local DJ Roger Sellers,’ or ‘Roger Sellers is playing a late-night DJ set.’ I think it was maybe because my live set involves a table full of gear, a drum set and headphones, but the average person probably knows more about DJing than I do.’” To combat the misunderstanding, Sellers printed up stickers reading, “Roger Sellers is Not a DJ,” and eventually adopted the alias Bayonne, changing his name without altering his approach.
Bayonne will release his debut album early next year on Mom+Pop Music, the label home to Flume, Andrew Bird, Courtney Barnett and more. This week Zane Lowe dropped the first track from the record on his show on Apple’s Beats 1, with the music tastemaker giving the new song “Spectrolite” his official stamp of approval.
Only last night Bayonne opened for Neon Indian in Dallas and will then head to CA next week for his first set of west coast dates. From there he will head to New York playing CMJ, some of the shows are listed below and the full lineup will be posted shortly. November sees Bayonne back to the west coast opening for Toro Y Moi as part of Red Bull Sound Select’s 30 Days in LA festival and then back home to Austin for Fun Fun Fun Festival.
Sellers’ journey to Bayonne began when he was two years old, situated in front of Eric Clapton Unplugged at his home in TK. “I’d just watch it over and over again,” he laughs. “I would get paint cans and bang on them, trying to imitate what I saw in the video. My parents got me a drum set when I was 6 years old and I became obsessed. I wanted to be Phil Collins for so many years as a child. He was my hero. I feel like you can hear that a lot in my music, that big drum sound, because so much of the way I play was learned from Phil Collins.” Though Sellers studied classical piano as a child and music theory in college, rather than developing his skill, he found both to be deadening. “It became homework,” he says. “It made me come home and not want to write. That’s not at all how I’d thought about music — it had always been something fun — almost like a kind of therapy. It was an escape, not a chore.”