Issue #64

Issue #64 -  Kamasi Washington

Aug 31, 2018

Under the Radar is excited to officially announce the full details of our new print issue, which is out now nationwide (on newsstands, in such stores as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, and elsewhere) and available to buy directly from us here. The issue features Kamasi Washington on the cover.

The issue also features interviews with Interpol, Beach House, Wild Nothing, Death Cab for Cutie, Suede, Natalie Prass, Christine and the Queens, Low, Snail Mail, Anna Calvi, Stephen Malkmus, Let's Eat Grandma, Ryley Walker, Gruff Rhys, Trevor Powers, Tracyanne & Danny, Hatchie, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, serpentwithfeet, Flasher, Eighth Grade writer/director Bo Burnham and star Elsie Fisher, a joint interview between actor/director Ethan Hawke and Phosphorescent, and much more.

COVER STORY

Kamasi Washington

For our in-depth 6,700-word cover story article, writer Matt Fink spoke in-depth to Kamasi Washington about the Los Angeles-based jazz musician's critically acclaimed new double album, Heaven and Earth. He is the first jazz artist we've ever had on the cover of Under the Radar (and really the first contemporary jazz artist we've ever even considered for the cover), but that's because he's crossed over to fans of indie rock and hip-hop in a way that few 21st century jazz artists have.

As Matt Fink writes in the article:

"In 2018, no one else in popular music is doing what Kamasi Washington is doing. No musician is able to draw together hip-hop fans who know him from his work with Kendrick Lamar, indie rock Millennials and Gen Xers who know him from the glowing reviews he gets in nearly every significant music publication, and traditional jazz fans who recognize him as the latest in a continuum spanning the whole history of the genre. No other jazz artist can pack out rock clubs and take the stage at Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza. No composer, jazz or otherwise, is making albums of the scope and ambition of 2015's The Epic, Washington's breakthrough triple-LP that brought together choirs, strings, West Coast funk, classic R&B, and experimental jazz. Along the way he was dubbed 'the jazz voice of Black Lives Matter' and inspired an untold number of think-pieces that speculated on what it means to be a jazz artist in the 21st century.

"Arguably the biggest sensation in jazz in the last 25 years, Washington has now set his ambitions even higher. With his follow-up, Heaven and Earth, he has made an album that is not only designed to expand upon the musical palette of his debut, but also to be a rallying cry for the oppressed and dispossessed of the world, as well as those who would stand alongside them in their struggle. With 'Fists of Fury,' a reworking of the theme of the Bruce Lee film of the same name, Washington made his clearest statement yet."

The article incorporates interviews with not only Kamasi Washington, but also his father Rickey Washington, his bandmate Ryan Porter, jazz historian and author Howard Mandel, and The New York Times jazz critic Giovanni Russonello.

Ray Lego photographed Washington for the cover exclusively for Under the Radar in New York City.

"What this album is about is empowerment, of understanding if you're waiting for someone to make your world the way you want it to be, it will never be that." - Kamasi Washington

"For those of us who want the world to be a place full of beauty and love, we have to make it that, because there are people who don't want that. There are less of them than there are of us, but they are pushing hard. We have to push just as hard." - Kamasi Washington

"I prayed that he'd be a person who would bring people together and that he would be able to be a person to unify. And I gave him the name Kamasi, and I told him that. I sent him to cultural school when he was 12, so that he would know that his purpose was to change the world and do positive things. And he listened. That's in the heart and soul of what he's doing." - Rickey Washington, Kamasi Washington's father

"He just blows past what's reasonable. He blows past what might fit into a particular structure or set of expectations or formal concerns." - The New York Times jazz critic Giovanni Russonello on Kamasi Washington

"For people who have been oppressed for a long time, at a certain point you have to stop waiting and start doing." - Kamasi Washington

DETECTION

(Christine and the Queens photo by Wendy Lynch Redfern)

The front-of-book Detection section features interviews with various musicians, actors, and directors. It opens with an interview (by Conrad Duncan) and photo shoot (by Wendy Lynch Redfern) with Christine and the Queens on her new sophomore album, Chris. There's also an interview (by Ben Jardine) and photo shoot (by Koury Angelo) with Wild Nothing on his new album, Indigo. Anna Calvi does our Self-Portrait feature, where she takes a self-portrait photo and writes a list of six personal things about herself that her fans may not know. Chris Tinkham talks to writer/director Bo Burnham and star Elsie Fisher about their acclaimed new movie Eighth Grade. In an interview with Austin Trunick, Danish actress Trine Dyrholm discusses playing the late singer Nico (of The Velvet Underground) in the new film Nico, 1988. Chris K. Davidson interviews Super Furry Animals' frontman Gruff Rhys about his solo album, recorded with a 72-piece orchestra. We talk to two new duos with notable members: Laura Studarus interviews Tracyanne & Danny (Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell and Danny Coughlan, who records as Crybaby) and Laura Maw interviews LUMP (Laura Marling + Tunng's Mike Lindsay). Trevor Powers used to record as Youth Lagoon, but now Matt Conner interviews him about his first solo album under his given name.

The Detection section also includes interviews with the following artists about their latest albums: Beach House (by Matt Fink), Interpol (by Natasha Aftandilians), Let's Eat Grandma (by Matt Fink), Low (by Matt Conner), Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks (by Matt Fink), Suede (by Lily Moayeri), and Ryley Walker (by Stephen Mayne).

"[When recording 7] we were ready to be open. We were ready to bust out of the patterns of the past." - Victoria Legrand of Beach House

"When I was a kid I used to imagine I had a big brother called Michael. I had many imaginary games with him, he followed me everywhere. I later realized that he was probably a projection of who I wished I could be, as I never liked being a girl when I was young. I identified much more as a little boy." - Anna Calvi

"The first record was me trying to escape the male gaze, if I could. Very buttoned-up, quite a neutral way of existing. But I was failing at it because every comment I was reading under my videos was still 'would I fuck this girl?' rather than focusing on what I had to say." - Héloïse Letissier aka Christine and the Queens

"[Nico] was maybe the most beautiful woman in the world at a time, but she didn't fit into that image. She was a woman who wanted to be respected for her art and not her beauty." - Trine Dyrholm on playing Nico in Nico, 1988

"I watched a lot of videos of young kids talking about themselves. The boys talked about Minecraft, and the girls talked about their souls. Girls just go a little deeper at that age." - Bo Burnham on writing/directing Eighth Grade 

"I never see it as a 27-year-old man writing about a 13-year-old girl. I just see it as a person writing about another person in a different predicament with similar experiences and feelings." - Elsie Fisher on starring in Eighth Grade 

"I think that there is something very strange about making art in collaboration with other people. It's a very odd process [but] I think it's like a puzzle that you're always trying to solve amongst yourselves." - Paul Banks of Interpol

"It feels kind of like a responsibility to get our message out, but even when we do interviews and I start talking about politics, I'm worried that I'll say something that will have a negative effect." - Jenny Hollingworth of Let's Eat Grandma

"Ever since we worked with [Dave] Fridmann, I think we've been on this personal challenge to push things far out." - Alan Sparhawk of Low

"Laura used different voices for this record and that was wonderful because they became instruments in their own right-they weave in and out of these organic, electronic textures." - Mike Lindsay of LUMP

"Not knowing [bandmate Mike Lindsay] well I wasn't very self-conscious, and I think that created a good space." - Laura Marling of LUMP

"I was listening to 'Eruption' by Eddie Van Halen. When it came out in 1978, it was incredible. But now people are like, 'What's that?' It's just another guitar solo. It's like 'I can play that.' So if Eddie made that solo now, it wouldn't matter. What can you do to keep up?" - Stephen Malkmus

"When I first started Youth Lagoon, it was never meant to be something that continued. It was a very specific state of mind." - Trevor Powers

"Politically speaking, we're presented with catastrophe after catastrophe every day." - Gruff Rhys

"We were never going to be to be anyone's fifth favorite band, were we?" - Brett Anderson of Suede

"I had a baby and [my Camera Obscura bandmate] Carey [Lander] died. Those two things are probably the biggest things I've ever experienced. The best thing and the worst thing in the period of four years. It was a lot to process." - Tracyanne Campbell of Tracyanne & Danny

"The album is like a document of our relationship. It's a document to our time together and the things that we've experienced in the last six years." - Danny Coughlan of Tracyanne & Danny

"If I was my true self I'd be stealing my extended family's pain pills from their fucking medicine cabinets and smoking a carton of pall malls. That's the career trajectory I was heading on. What I am now is pure luck. This guy right here is fake it until he makes it." - Ryley Walker

"Driving around Los Angeles can be this really affecting thing. It's really easy to see how people are living in Los Angeles, and I think wealth disparity is very on-display in Los Angeles in a way that can be very jarring." - Jack Tatum aka Wild Nothing 

PLEASED TO MEET YOU

(Snail Mail photo by James Loveday)

Our Pleased to Meet You new bands section highlights these exciting new artists: Bernice (by Laura Stanley), Flasher (by Lee Adcock), Hatchie (by Max Freedman, photos by James Loveday), Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (by Stephen Mayne), serpentwithfeet (by Max Freedman), and Snail Mail (by Mike Hilleary, photos by James Loveday).

"I'm curious to find sounds that I like and I'm not a great instrumentalist so it's very much half-discovery and half-accidents." - Robin Dann of Bernice

"We're trying to take really seriously the idea of having hope in a world of utopian politics." - Daniel Saperstein of Flasher

"I'm such an indecisive person. I'm really scared of not doing well." - Hariette Pilbeam aka Hatchie

"[Our songs are] never fanciful stories about some character who has no connection though. They all by design have us in them." - Tom Russo of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

"The difficult things give us our nutrients." - Joshiah Wise aka serpentwithfeet

"[My debut album] emphasizes all the things I was feeling really extremely at the time. I was getting into relationships or getting out of relationships. I was also writing about myself and how I was throwing myself in the music industry and feeling a lot at once, going through a lot at this supernatural speed." - Lindsey Jordan aka Snail Mail

MAIN FEATURES

(Natalie Prass photo by Ray Lego)

Our main features section includes a four-page interview and photo shoot with Natalie Prass about her sophomore album, The Future and the Past. Prass rewrote and delayed the album in the wake of the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, which caused her to be dropped by her label. In her interview with Matt Fink (with photos by Ray Lego), she discusses these trials and how she emerged with a stronger album in the process.

We asked actor/director Ethan Hawke (Dead Poet's Society, Reality Bites, Before Sunrise, Training Day, Boyhood) to take part in our Versus series and do a joint interview with a musician he admired. Hawke picked Phosphorescent, aka singer/songwriter Matthew Houck, who is Alabama born but now based in Nashville. Throughout Hawke's career the Austin-born actor has remained prolific-in 2018 alone he also stars in the films First Reformed, Stockholm, and Juliet, Naked-not only on the screen, but as a stage actor, screenwriter, filmmaker, and novelist. With his new film Blaze, Hawke returns to the director's chair for his first feature narrative in over a decade. Based on a memoir by Blaze Foley's onetime lover, Sybil Rosen, Blaze depicts moments from the trouble life of outlaw country singer Foley, whose work just recently has started to garner a respect and following he never knew before his death from a mysterious gunshot wound in 1989, at the age of 39. Phosphorescent, is returning in October with a new album, C'est la Vie, on Dead Oceans. The self-produced album is his first in five years, following up the widely acclaimed Muchacho, which found his distinctive brand of country-threaded rock reaching the most listeners yet. Both artists had a mutual admiration for each other's work, not to mention many shared tastes in music. In our joint interview, moderated by Austin Trunick, the two also touched on parenthood, the ways that being from the South finds its way into their work, and just how hard it is to make what they do look or sound easy to audiences.

"I use the words 'nasty women' in the chorus to ['Sisters'], and I know those words are very divisive. That was probably the biggest struggle for me on the record: 'Should I say those words?' And I was finally like, 'Yes, I should,' because I remember watching the debate, and when [Trump] said that it brought back so many deep, deep memories about that kind of aggressive language used toward women that I've heard directed toward me my whole life." - Natalie Prass

"My father always lived in Texas. My parents split when I was young, and so Texas always took on a symbol to me of longing for, you know, masculinity, or a father figure, whatever words you want to put on it." - Ethan Hawke

"I think I spent a lot of years trying to get away from whatever it is that makes me Southern, but at a certain point you realize you're gravitating toward a lot of that stuff and maybe you didn't realize it." - Matthew Houck aka Phosphorescent

THE END

For our regular last page feature, The End, we ask a different artist the same set of questions about endings and death. Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie is this issue's participant. In his interview with Chris K. Davidson, Gibbard discusses how he'd like to die, what song he'd like played at his funeral, his concepts of heaven and hell, what he'd like to be remembered for, and how Death Cab for Cutie's music almost ended up on the season finale of Six Feet Under.

"Fresh legs under me and miles and miles of mountains and trails. For me, heaven would be a version of the Swiss Alps." - Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie

"[My version of hell would be] sitting on the tarmac of an airplane after an international journey waiting for the gate, but the gate never opens up." - Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie

REVIEWS

(Wild Nothing photo by Koury Angelo)

Over 70 albums, films, and comic books are reviewed in the issue, including reviews of releases by:

77:78
Lily Allen
Amber Arcades
Arctic Monkeys
Eric Bachmann
Beach House
Bernice
Body/Head
Campdogzz
Neko Case
CHVRCHES
Collections of Colonies of Bees
Deafheaven
Death Cab for Cutie
Dirty Projectors
Joey Dosik
The Essex Green
Sam Evian
Father John Misty
Neil & Liam Finn
Flasher
Chilly Gonzales
Interpol
James
Jim James
The Joy Formidable
Jungle
Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood
The Lemon Twigs
Let's Eat Grandma
Low
Luluc
LUMP
Lykke Li
Johnny Marr
Mass Gothic
Mazzy Star
Melody's Echo Chamber
Mitski
Mothers
Cullen Omori
Oneohtrix Point Never
Richard Reed Parry
Natalie Prass
Gruff Rhys
Marc Ribot
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Ty Segall & White Fence
serpentwithfeet
ShadowParty
Snail Mail
Still Corners
Suede
Tunng
Underworld & Iggy Pop
Hana Vu
Ryley Walker
Kamasi Washington
Waxahatchee
White Denim
Wild Nothing
Wooden Shijps

DIGITAL SAMPLER

(Hatchie photo by James Loveday) 

Each issue comes with a digital sampler that is a free download and includes up to 36 complimentary MP3s. This issue's digital sampler includes tracks by:

Amber Arcades
Beach House
Bernice
Black Belt Eagle Scout
Buffalo Tom
Campdogzz
Neko Case
Curse of Lono
Joey Dosik
Dumb
The Essex Green
Fennec
The Flaming Lips
Flasher
Gulp (Remixed by Django Django)
Hatchie
Jim James
Inside Voice           
Let's Eat Grandma
The Love Language
Low
LUMP
Mass Gothic
Melody's Echo Chamber
Tony Njoku
Richard Reed Parry
Phantastic Ferniture
Trevor Powers
Natalie Prass
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
ShadowParty
Still Corners
Tracyanne & Danny
Tunng
Ryley Walker
Wild Nothing
Jess Williamson

DIGITAL MAGAZINE

The digital version of the issue (for iPads, iPhones, Macs, and PCs) also features extra interviews not found in the print magazine, as well as additional full-page photos from our photo shoots for the issue. Joey Dosik and Tomberlin (aka Sarah Beth Tomberlin) both take part in My Firsts interview series about early childhood experiences. There is an additional The End interview, this time with Sam Genders of Tunng, who answers our questions about endings and death.

 

Then the digital version includes an additional Q&A by Chris K. Davidson with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie about the Seattle-based band's new album Thank You for Today, their first recorded since founding guitarist/producer Chris Walla left the band (following the recording of their last album Kintsugi). There is an extended Q&A interview with Christine and the Queens by Conrad Duncan, as well as additional photos from Wendy Lynch Redfern's photo shoot with her in Los Angeles. Finally the digital magazine includes a bonus 3,000 word Q&A between Ethan Hawke and Phosphorescent, featuring a long section of the joint interview that we couldn't fit in the print magazine.

"I think there's almost a choice when you decide to present yourself as a complex character being a woman. You still have to choose if you're a slut or an intellectual or a mom or a wife." - Héloïse Letissier aka Christine and the Queens

"I'm 41, so I'm a middle-aged man. If I'm lucky, I'm in the middle of my life, and there's a lot of looking backwards and forwards. It's a point of no return, so to speak." - Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie

"I fell asleep at the wheel and wrecked [my first car] when I was in high school. Somehow I walked away from that crash without a scratch." - Joey Dosik

"My brain is always two feet ahead or behind me, regretting or anticipating something." - Ethan Hawke

"I don't rehearse, you know, because then I feel like when I do it I'm just reciting something. A lot of songs on the record are first or second takes." - Matthew Houck aka Phosphorescent

"Being in IKEA for the first time while also being hungover for the first time is a somewhat terrifying experience. Hangover maze." - Sarah Beth Tomberlin

"It's probably a bit too soon in history for that but who knows what might happen with the current pace of technology. Maybe I'll be seeing in the year 3000 as a chemically sustained brain in a jar or as a conscious presence in the substrate of a vast quantum computer." - Sam Genders of Tunng

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Interviews

Beach House - Victoria Legrand on “7”
Christine and the Queens on “Chris”
Ethan Hawke vs. Phosphorescent: The Complete Interview
Flasher on “Constant Image”
Hatchie on “Sugar & Spice”
Interpol on “Marauder”
Kamasi Washington - The Under the Radar Cover Story
Let’s Eat Grandma on “I’m All Ears”
Low on “Double Negative”
LUMP - Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay on Their Self-Titled Debut Album
Natalie Prass on “The Future and the Past”
Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever on “Hope Downs”
Ryley Walker on “Deafman Glance”
Self-Portrait: Anna Calvi
serpentwithfeet on “soil”
Snail Mail on “Lush”
Stephen Malmus & the Jicks on “Sparkle Hard”
Suede - Brett Anderson on “The Blue Hour”
The End: Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie
Tracyanne and Danny on Their Self-Titled Debut Album
Trevor Powers on “Mulberry Violence” and Saying Goodbye to Youth Lagoon
Wild Nothing on “Indigo”

Reviews

Assassination Nation
Double Negative
European Heartbreak
For Ever
Great Thunder EP
Inside Voice
Lightsleeper
Love, Gilda
MDMA
No Recover
Quiet River of Dust Vol 1.
Render Another Ugly Method
Solo Piano III
The Blue Hour
The Diet
The Miseducation of Cameron Post