The Best Coast is the West Coast, Part Two
“What makes L.A. magic? L.A. is unique as a birthplace for music and an inspiration for music subgenres evolving, splitting, morphing… Hushed like an exciting secret, the city of Angels offers a sun-kissed source of inspiration in contrast to the over-saturation of cultural hubs like Paris, London and Berlin. L.A. has a distinctly young vibe about it today.” In the second part of our L.A. music digest, Milly McMahon chats to L.A. electronic acts Inc., P.Morris and Rare Times to hear their take on the climate of new music and how hot temperatures keep their audiences the coolest.
(Top photo by Lonnie Gallegos)
Kansas native P. Morris moved to L.A. to live life bright and right. A member of L.A. collective Fade To Mind and label owner of Bear Club Music Group, to date P. Morris has produced for Kelela, Solange, Feist and Le1F. He is also an L.A. taco and Thai food connoisseur.
Milly McMahon: What was the first thing that struck you about LA when you initially arrived?
P. Morris : Pretty much immediately upon arriving in L.A., I was in love with the weather. It's a huge cliché, but coming from Kansas where it can go from snowing to completely sunny in a day, the stability of L.A.’s weather is a serious perk for me. Los Angeles is amazing also because there is so much nature in and around the city, as opposed to New York City which is all concrete. Here, I'm less than 30 minute drive from the ocean or the mountains or a nice hike.
M.M.: Has your musical style changed since moving there?
P.M.: Although it's too soon to say concretely, I think L.A. has started to have an effect on my music. I think at my core, I've always felt myself to be an "experimental" artist. Being here, I've learned lots of different ways to experiment with what I'm trying to do and to feel like I have that kind of freedom is priceless to me right now. In general when I was working on stuff in Lawrence, I was very closed off - more likely to be found at home working on music than out and about. Since coming here, I can't help but come into contact with a lot of different vibes and I've been very welcoming to outside ideas coming into my process.
M.M: How does that fit into the larger L.A. music scene?
P.M. : In general, we all think of Los Angeles as the breeding ground for a lot of the pop culture and pop music. Being here and around that kind of stuff, it's definitely helping to challenge and expand my idea and definition of my own music. I haven't really released any new material since moving here, but I think my next step will be me leaning into some of the stuff I've picked up since living here.
M.M. : Besides California, is there anywhere else in the world where you have an affinity?
P.M.: I recently went to the Pacific Northwest and literally fell in love. Both Washington and Oregon are incredible states, I could see myself settling down in either.
Listen to P. Morris on Soundcloud.
L.A. duo Alex Talan and Anthony Calonico a.k.a. Rare Times, release records via local independent imprint Feel So Real. Making sexy-sleazy music inspired by the West Coast’s illicit nightlife scene, the production duo share a workspace on the Bay with a pornography studio.
(Photo by Mike Harris)
Milly McMahon: How did Rare Times first become established?
Alex Talan: Anthony and I met in college and began making music together. It was lush and romantic, on a Vangelis and Berlin David Bowie tip. I'm originally from L.A. and convinced him to move down here. We moved into a warehouse space on Alameda and Olympic and started going to undergrounds nearby. Music for Dancers was a big influence on us.
M.M. : Why do you think California has become such an exciting breeding ground for new music?
A.T.: California is a beautiful place with cool, open-minded people. L.A. has a surprising amount of cheap industrial space. Musicians need spaces to live and play loud. The scene is diverse. You can see great jazz, funk, techno, house, disco and industrial. The underground is very strong. There are fewer barriers for artists. Listeners are very open to new sounds.
M.M.: What makes the west coast such a unique place for underground music movements?
A.T. : I think that the spirit of the West Coast is hedonist. No matter how dark you get with your music, it's still sunny and warm outside.
Anthony: It's hard to be segregated by scene here. Every musician/producer/DJ has friends who are into different kinds of music. There's also the people who put in the hard work to keep it going: Dublab, Mount Analog, No Way Back, As You Like It, Droid Behavior, A Club Called Rhonda, Funkmosphere, Far too many to name a few...
M.M.: How would you describe your sound?
Anthony Calonico: It's a sensual mixture of adult contemporary, house-y melodrama and a bit of jazz. I like to croon over the beat, laying something soft and beautiful over a hard contour, never disturbing the essential groove, only communicating with it. We want to lure people into our world, one that for us is filled with as many fantasies as truths. A lot of people refer to our music as retro, which is appropriate. But we're also interested in bizarre pairings, new age scales, radio pop, and going even deeper into the groove. Some of our new material is straying from pop form, and exploring longer forms.
M.M. : Most of your work references L.A., do you see yourselves more as voyeurs, looking in on L.A. life, or do you write and reflect as if you are a part of it?
A.C.: When we lived on Alameda above Sam's Hofbrau it was difficult not to be a voyeur. Sometimes when I'm on my roof in Koreatown, I play trumpet to people on the street. I try to feel their moods and tempos. I also feel like a jazz gargoyle. I like to watch, and I like to be watched.
M.M.: Why is it good to be in LA if you’re a musician?
A.T.: People are open minded and they go out every night!
M.M. :Is there a huge difference between LA in the day and LA at night?
A.C.: It can be brutal in the day, especially trapped in your car with no AC. Night often feels open and luxurious. There's a lot to explore, and it’s easier to get around. Koreatown is a great 24 hour zone. Wi Spa is best around 3am.
M.M. : What was the last thing that you saw or heard that really moved you?
A.C.: Jessie Lanza at the Bootleg Theatre in January. It was a hypnotic and beautiful experience. She appeared like a goddess in a ring of white light with long flowing hair. The house was full and everyone was in love with the music. Every song translated perfectly. The minimal arrangements were even more effective, and her voice was incredible.
Listen to Rare Times on Soundcloud.
Brotherly duo Andrew & Daniel Aged are Inc.. Longtime L.A. staples, together the darkly influenced artists have performed and recorded with Raphael Saadiq, Dam-Funk, Steve Arrington, John Legend and FKA Twigs amongst many others. Signed to 4AD, Inc. are currently planning a European tour and LP release.
M.M. : Why did you first begin making music together?
A.A.: Music is where we belong, beyond choice. It's a good for the soul.
M.M.: Before forming as a duo you worked with people like Pharrell, Cee-Lo, Elton John, how did that come about and why did you decide to form INC.?
A.A.: It was good to see all of that. As for Inc. it was just gut feelings and a spiritual blastoff.
M.M.: How would you describe the current music scene in LA/California?
A.A: I was walking with my lover at a farmers market and saw an old couple playing music together, they looked like an older Tony and Esther. l bought two tubs of hummus, and one avocado. It was ideal.
M.M.: Do you feel that LA music has changed within the last 10 years?
A.A.: It got more vegan bloated, you know that feeling?
Listen to Inc. here.
Read Part One of 'The Best Coast is the West Coast' here.
Carol and Humberto have both fostered a love of underground cultures since their teens, and they love to juxtapose the disruption of those influences with more conventional mainstream codes. They forge their singular approach in particular through their creative vision for KENZO; from their different artistic collaborations, to their choice of photographers for the campaigns and the eclectic composers they pick for the show soundtracks.
The duo constantly draws inspirations from underground cultures, which translate into strong visual touch points in the KENZO collections. For Spring/Summer 2014 ‘80s punk bands such as Black Flag, skateboarding and unconventional beach cultures were all celebrated. This Autumn, David Lynch’s Americana and experimental cinema will be next.
Discover more about some of the underground influences of the KENZO Spring/Summer 2014 collection: