Tag Archives: Interview

“I Hustle From Sunup to Sundown and Even Then I Need a Night Light”: Hezekiah’s Remarkable Comeback

Hezekiah

2016 was a tough year for the U.S. as a whole, marked by political unrest and the loss of many beloved public figures; for Philadelphia-based rapper, producer, and singer Hezekiah, it was just as eventful on a smaller scale, replete with professional triumphs and personal tragedy. His funky rock outfit, Johnny Popcorn, dropped their catchy, hard-hitting, anthemic opus Totem Poleand Hezekiah was struck with a sudden brain aneurysm that hospitalized him and (very briefly) limited his musical output.

For the past 20+ years, Hezekiah has been working to refine his own brand of soulful, progressive hip-hop. In addition to his solo work and Johnny Popcorn, Hezekiah is a co-founder of Beat Society, a legendary live beat event that was one of the first of its kind. In the early part of the 2000’s, Beat Society played host to then-up-and-coming producers such as Kanye West and Illmind, with a young Diplo serving as the in-house DJ.

Currently recovering from the aneurysm, Hezekiah is gearing up for the release of his newest, star-studded solo EP, GODS. We sat down with him to talk about his career and get insight into what his future holds.

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Earthen Sea’s Night Moves

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Earthen Sea by Shawn Brackbill

There are those fleeting moments where the fear of change dissolves, when our vision becomes clear and we accept whatever inevitable transformation might come our way with open arms. For Jacob Long, a musician whose past includes stints in rollicking dub punk group Mi Ami and shambolic noise rockers Black Eyes, the ability to change seems not only innate, but essential to his creative survival. Under the solo moniker Earthen Sea, Long has been exploring the beauty and drudgery of everyday life through remarkably personal electronic music.

An Act of Love, Earthen Sea’s debut on Kranky—a safe haven for fellow travelers in cosmic experimental waters, like Tim Hecker and Stars of the Lid—is night music. There’s a ghostlike mood to it—a sort of halogen-lit, steam-through-a-steel-grate metropolitan atmosphere. Being a solo artist in a city—any city—when you’re unconcerned with popularity can be a lonely, but rewarding, task. Songs like “Exuberant Burning” are carefully textured and layered to evoke that mood, while others, like “The Flats 1975,” feel kinetic and alive. As an album, An Act of Love doesn’t simply drift cautiously through the silent streets—there is intention and grounding to Long’s work.

We talked with Long about experimental music performance, shifting dynamics in art, personal change, and community-centered acts of love.

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Back from the Grave: Altar de Fey on Deathrock’s Origin and Legacy

Alter de Fey

Alter de Fey, 1985 by Renee Haden Pouvreau

Echoes in the Corridor, the new LP from Altar de Fey, exudes all of the extravagant darkness and drama of deathrock from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Its lyrics and imagery are stocked with vampires, wraiths, and demons. But if Echoes in the Corridor sounds authentic, it’s because Altar de Fey were there from the genre’s start.

Deathrock originated in California, blending West Coast punk with UK post-punk influences like Bauhaus and Joy Division—bands who reveled in the melancholic excess of death and decay. That baseline aesthetic was spiked with elements lifted from ’50s Hollywood and B-movies, along with a touch of glamour and camp. Gory and blasphemous imagery—crucifixes, blood, bats—raised the level of theatrics. Deathrock’s spooky, squalling vocals, pounding drums, and maniacal, punk-influenced guitars were the perfect match for its visuals, an attractive aesthetic for angsty young adults.

Altar de Fey formed in San Francisco in early 1983, combining the aggression of their punk roots with guitarist Kent Cates’ melodic and moody approach. The group released a handful of tracks before disbanding two years later. Despite their short run, their legacy lingered, largely due to the rediscovery by young goths of their distinct and jarring deathrock look: backcombed knots of birds nest hair, deathly pallors, and ripped fishnet tights that clung to them like spiderwebs. Images of Cates with guitar in hand, black-lined eyes, and carved-out cheekbones, caused a frenzy of reblogging amongst scene aficionados, eventually summoning the band back from the grave.

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Call of the Void Pursue Heaviness by Any Device

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Call of the Void aren’t exactly a by-the-books grindcore outfit. Though their sound is rife with blast beats, nihilism, and chaotic fury, there are unbelievably heavy sludge riffs, thunderous crust-metal polyrhythms, and bit of the brash aggression of ‘80s hardcore mixed in too.

Founding member Patrick Albert attributes their sound to the fertile scene of extreme bands located in the Denver/Boulder region that have inspired him to draw from several different subgenre wells. Like-minded members of Call of the Void’s cohort—Primitive Man, Blood Incantation, and Vermin Womb—have never colored fully inside the genre lines, interested more in the pursuit of heaviness and intensity by any device necessary. Call of the Void’s newest EP, AYFKM (produced by go-to metal engineer Dave Otero),  continues to polish the sound they developed on their previous releases,  Dragged Down a Dead End Path and Ageless.

We spoke to them about all the elements that came together on AYFKM, including their punk influences, and keeping the flame burning without burning out.

You mention punk rock quite a bit, is that an influence?

There’s a part in this stoner rock documentary called Such Hawks, Such Hounds where they talk about being old punk dudes that just slowed down punk songs and then became a doom band. That really resonated with me. It really is all just the same music just played at different tunings and different speeds. A lot of people call us grindcore, but none of us really listen to grindcore music whatsoever. We have blast beats but that’s about it.

Punk riffs are the best riffs; timeless classic music. We wanted to do all versions of that. The first song [on AYFKM], “Get in the Van,” is obviously an homage to Henry Rollins. The whole concept of that song is that I wanted to take a sludge riff at the beginning, so a little homage to Carnivore and Sleep’s Dopesmoker and then use it again as the chorus just played faster. That’s pretty much what we do: we like the sludge and then we play it at punk speeds.

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Akvan Brings Zoroastrian Poetry and Iranian History to Black Metal

Akvan

It’s understandable to flinch at the sight of the phrase “Aryan black metal.” Since its origins in early ’90s Norway, black metal has had a Nazi problem. At this point in the genre’s history, it’s a permanent stain, and one that has to be re-addressed with depressing regularity.

At the same time, black metal bands from non-Nordic countries have been adapting the genre’s sonic tropes for their own purposes for years. In California, the Black Twilight Circle (Crepusculo Negro), a collective of Latinx artists, has been making Mayan/pre-Columbian black metal, with lyrics in Spanish or Nahuatl and mixing native instruments with buzzing guitars and unholy roars. Taiwan’s Chthonic bring in traditional Chinese instruments, and sing about the history of their native country. And now Akvan—a one-man project from Iran—has emerged to function as an additional corrective, giving the phrase “Aryan black metal” a more historically accurate meaning.

Akvan is the project of a person who goes by the name Vizaresa, who mixes raw black metal guitars and blasting drums with traditional Persian instruments like the tar and setar. Tracks begin and end with readings from Persian history, or Zoroastrian prayers, and the lyrics tackle Iranian history and mythology. He has released three EPs since 2015, deeply considered meditations on his own culture and how it is misinterpreted—not only by outsiders, but by his own country’s leadership.

Vizaresa answered questions by email.

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