Kalporz interviews Wilson Hernandez of Tennis Club
Words: Monica Mazzoli




Continuing our content swap with the leading Italian culture/music site Kalporz, the Monolith Cocktail is excited to be hosting Monica Mazzoli‘s recent interview with Wilson Hernandez of the burgeoning Missouri, USA band Tennis Club.





Elefant Records, an independent record label based in Spain, has given a most extensively considered production to guitar and electro pop music over the years.

In 2019 Elefant has already released the second – wonderful – album by the French band Le SuperHomard (entitled Meadow Lane Park) and the Attic Lights comeback album (Love in the Time of Shark Attacks).

Pink, the new mini-LP by Tennis Club was released on May 31th and will probably be on the same wavelength as the two great records I just mentioned. The band, which hails from Missouri (USA), features Wilson Hernandez (vocals, guitar), Tehya Deardorff (instead of Justin Akin – bass) and Sean O’Dell (drums). They have already released an essential nine-track cassette of great surf garage pop songs.

For the occasion of the recent album launch we had a chat with the Club’s guitarist/vocalist Hernandez – the interview was actually conducted just before the official release of Pink.



Q: In 2017 you released your first Cassette, a record that sounds like The Beach Boys, if they’d made a lo-fi album: surf-garage pop songs (and killer chorus) with a noisy, shoegazy attitude. Now your new mini Album, Pink, is going to be released soon on 31st May. The two tracks that are already available – ‘Pink Sweater! Pink Shoes!’ and ‘Mexico City (Rich Girls)’ – show a new approach: I mean, it seems to me that you’re going in new directions, the first single is the “old” Tennis Club sound; the second single is more jangle pop with the singing in Spanish.

A: Yes, we were going for a more pop sound on this album; our first album was very distorted and noisy and this record focused on a softer sound, sweeter lyrics and more focus on vocal harmonies like on the early Beatles albums.

Elefant Records, a Spanish record label, decided to release your new mini LP. How did it happen? From Missouri to Spain…

I started listening to a lot of Spanish music, my mother is from El Salvador so I speak it decently and I started looking into Spanish labels when I found Elefant and saw that they had such a great appreciation for indie pop that I thought we would fit in well. So I sent an early version of Pink to Luis at Elefant and thankfully he liked it!

We usually say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. But the cover, the packaging of Pink is so amazing, in a “twee pop way”, it reminded me of Jamboree by Beat Happening.

Yes, I agree! The album art is very twee and I think it fits the aesthetic of the album very well. It was made by friend Ela Hosp who has this very simple but one of a kind unique style: you can check out more of her art on Instagram @elahosp.




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Photography:: Giorgio Lamonica 





Continuing our running penpal-like exchange with the leading Italian culture site Kalporz, we are excited to share Giorgio Lamonica‘s photographs of the immensely popular Minnesota indie-rock titans Low and their support, Italian artist Lullabier; all of which are taken from the recent concert in Bologna.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Interview: Mini Dresses

April 1, 2019


Interview: Gianluigi Marsibilio 




In association with our friends at the Italian publication Kalporz, the Monolith Cocktail will be sharing and exchanging reviews, interviews and articles. The second post in this series features Gianluigi Marsibilio‘s interview with the Boston outfit, the Mini Dresses.





Boston is a city that changes and lives through its colleges, underground scenes and germinal countercultures. The Mini Dresses are “imperfect” children of this city and, after a long road of EPs and a first album full of identity and incisiveness, are ready to return with a second work that tells a different reality, suspended between fantasies and dystopias.

Lira, Caufield and Luke present themselves sincerely, telling us about their living relationship with the recording studio and many other things. In the interview they also give us some tips on some pearls to rediscover.

Their latest album Heaven Sent was released on March 22nd.


GM: Yours is a career that has been dotted with many EPs, before the realization of an effective album.  How did your work on so many different EPS help you to write an album?

It didn’t! It was tough to adjust to a long format work cycle. We started making music around 2010-2011, when blog singles were the main way DIY bands projected themselves. For years it hadn’t occurred to us to make an album since there were no resources to do that and it seemed few people would care to listen to us in a sustained format anyway. We even produced our EPs in a brief way, often writing our songs and then recording them in a single sitting. When we felt pressure to produce our first album in 2016, we felt simultaneously well-established as a band and late to the party of our medium. It felt unnatural to us to do something slowly whereas we had previously done it quickly.


What themes did you try to approach on Heaven Sent?

Communication breakdown, empathy that is lost on the moment, narratives of indecisive people weighing their options.


On the album you feel a particular attitude to use and exploit sound passages in a way similar to a film soundtrack. How did the movie soundtracks inspire you?  Which ones in particular?

We are film fans and think of our music cinematically, like we’re setting a scene. It follows that we love film soundtracks. Lira, in fact, enjoys Italian film scores, like those of Piero Umiliani; Caufield is currently listening to the pastoral folk/Giallo synth genre-mash score of Cannibal Holocaust, which is a classic horror soundtrack.


There are a lot of interesting songs on the record that seem to hide very special stories. How did ‘Lady Running’ come about?

‘Lady Running’ is one of Lira’s more emotional songs on the album, about a hypothetical argument, perhaps, that has no direct correspondence in reality!

Yours is an elegant rock. What were your spiritual fathers from a sound point of view? How was your relationship born, so intimately built with this sound?

Thanks for saying “elegant”! We are open-ended music fans, and enjoy rock and pop music at the polar extremes of luxurious/ornate and rigorous/minimal. While making Heaven Sent, we listened to a mélange of early 80s goth and classic country (genres that secretly have a lot in common), 60s-70s soundtracks and library music, some American and Japanese new age, as well as outsider pop like that of Anna Domino, Kate Bush, and Virna Lindt.


How did your city influence you?

We know Boston as a sleek and technologized city that is hyper-expensive and oriented towards university life. A large ratio of bands come from the colleges, circulating in and out of the city every 4 years, which lends itself to an exciting yet impermanent music scene. Established bands struggle with impossible rents and a general lack of venues to play. It is dispiriting, but many great bands come up and foster connections here, which speaks to the strength of creative people who live in Boston against the visions of the city “developers”. It should be said that Boston has many admirable counter-culture histories, as well, which inspire us to make music even when it can feel like there are dwindling local incentives to do so in the present.


What are the feelings about these slightly scary times that you want to convey with your music?

Our music doesn’t have overt political messaging, nor does our band agitate explicitly against the Fascistic tides rising around us, i.e. with confrontational anti-authoritarian lyrics and etc. It’s not our project here, though we are invested in how our music processes and propagates moods from the left. Obviously our music traffics in mood states that render certain political atmospheres, like when our compositions unify around conveyance of depression, indecision, disappointment, etc. The point is to work through those emotions in the grain of the music, as opposed to just capitalizing on them in a cheap way. We thought about this more seriously when our song ‘Sad Eyes’ from 2016 became an underground hit associated with “sad” web aesthetics – what is this stylizing, as a social situation, aestheticized discontent? Also, we’ve been associated with “warm” or “chill” music movements before, which is bothersome. We do tend to work with musical tonalities that sneak up on you, in the background, but they do not necessarily come from a place of idealized coziness or passive dreaming. We want a “dream pop” that can arise from disturbing scenes in reality, not neutralizing it.


During your recordings it almost seems that you love to communicate even through breaths, the simplest sounds. For this album which tricks did you use?

We self-record, frequently, in a diaristic way. The process can be intimate and imperfect, like making sketches. We try to retain that level of contingency and detail in the moment of making the first mark. And we’re tuned in to the textural elements of production (tape hiss, pops and clicks in the voice, self-noise in the microphone). It is a mixing strategy for us to amplify the ambient sounds of the machine, not for the sake of fashionable obscurity or fetish of small sounds, but just because we think it’s worthwhile to preserve the sound of things working in the moment.


In the near future will we see you in Europe or in Italy?

We occasionally travel in Europe, albeit individually, not coordinated as a band. We would consider an European summer tour if we could set a path where we would not go broke or lose our jobs in the states. We don’t even tour in the US for this reason. We would say this: we are probably more likely to set up a European tour than an American one!


Do you have any particular connection with Italy?

Not specifically. We love Italian film and music. Please have us come play a show some time!






Kalporz interviews Stella Donnelly 




As we announced earlier this week the Monolith Cocktail and Italian publication Kalporz will be sharing and exchanging reviews, interviews and articles. The inaugural post from our Italian penpals is an insightful interview with the Australian musician Stella Donnelly, who’s debut album Beware Of The Dogs is being re-released this month ahead of a second LP later in the year.





Stella Donnelly is a revelation, a lightning bolt in the clear sky and her second album, coming in a few months for Secretly Canadian is already one of the most anticipated works of this season.

Due to her incredible frankness and disruption in her lyrics, we chose to interview her to get us to talk about the genesis of “Beware of the dogs”.

The image that came out is that of a record born in a universe extremely homemade and personal, but that manages to be very suitable to photographing reality, even in its darkest and most violent part.


– Hi, Stella. In the last year you have experienced a huge leap, you have finally

reached a much wider and international audience. How are you experiencing

this change? When such a thing happens, how do the priorities of an artist

change?

I’m taking every day as it comes and constantly pinching myself that I get to travel the world, meet amazing people and eat amazing food! My priorities haven’t changed, to me music is first and foremost about the writing, no matter how many people do or don’t hear that writing, it has to be honest and authentic to me.

– How has your approach to work changed since your first EP?

Other than having the resources to playing with a band, there hasn’t been any changes to how I write and do my work. In fact it’s even more important to me that I work with integrity and awareness of others around me in everything I do.

– You wrote and recorded the album ( if I’m not mistaken ) near home. How

does your city influence your work? Would you like to work in a foreign studio

in the future or do you need your local?

It was so nice to be able to record at home, the things that I was writing about felt so real because I was surrounded by the place where those experiences had or were currently taking place. It was magical. I would be open to recording somewhere far away in the future but for the purpose of this record, it was perfect to stay in Fremantle.

-What song in the record makes you think a lot about your city? Why?

The song Lunch is about the strange feeling when you’re trying to adjust your body to being away from home and then readjusting again when I return. I shot and edited the music video for this song myself because it really is such a personal and ‘home’ song for me.

– What signal do you see behind the choice of some festivals, such as

Primavera Sound, to completely fill the gender gap?

I think it’s amazing that massive festivals are stepping up their game when it comes to gender diversity, it has to be done now so that in the future it can be something we don’t even have to think about.

– Which song on the record did you write with the most anger and urgency?

Why?

Beware of the Dogs was written very quickly and I recorded it the next day.

– Important themes such as violence and discrimination, how do you prefer to

deal with them? How is the music changing from this point of view in these

years?

I deal with them by opening up a conversation in the songs, providing my point of view and hoping that people can learn from it. Music like this changes depending on what is happening in the world, when our governments don’t do anything about it, people need to find a way to speak out.

– What is the social responsibility of an artist today?

There are so many artists who live such different lives. My own personal social responsibility is to use my platform to help others but it cannot be expected of all artists to do the same, art would become very one-dimensional.

– You are very explicit in your lyrics. Which artist do you admire for their

sincerity in telling their stories?

I admire Billy Bragg, Janelle Monae, Courtney Barnett, Jenny Hval, Julia Jacklin, Solange.

-I read in an interview that you like very much to read. What readings have

accompanied you in writing the record?

I was reading Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado

Flights by Olga Torkarczuk

Paradise Rot by Jenny Hval

and Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

– One project that fascinated me last year was definitely BoyGenius Would

you like to do, sooner or later, such a project? Do you already have some

artists with whom you often feel like collaborating?

There are so many artists I would collaborate with in heartbeat but I don’t want to say them in case the read this and laugh at me!!!!

– Stella, Im very afraid of dogs. How do you overcome this fear? (and fears in

general?)

There are so many people that should not own dogs so I understand your fear but my experience with dogs is that they just need love and care! I have a fear of flying that I overcome by getting on lots of planes all the time! Maybe find a sweet dog and spend some time with it!





Kalporz writes about music, with his own musical vision, since 2000.

Kalporz is a careful observer of news, trends, emerging scenes, but without chasing the dominant taste: he is in search of “beautiful things”. He hopes to publish articles well written and carefully, in an original way, without filters and, of course, independently.

The editorial project is under the Creative Commons regime (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 IT) and in 2018 it was voted as the best Italian music site by the Meeting of Independent Labels (MEI) and Musicletter (https://www.musicletter.it/index.php/2018/08/27/kalporz-e-reverendo-lys-vincono-la-targa-mei-musicletter-2018-premio-speciale-a-umbria-jazz-come-miglior-festival-musicale-italiano/).

The Kalporz family is composed of the founder Luca Vecchi, the editors Paolo Bardelli,Monica Mazzoli, Piero Merola, Enrico Stradi, Matteo Mannocci, Gianluigi Marsibilio, and about twenty other collaborators, as well as three photographers.

The collaborators are from all parts of Italy, even if the main base of Kalporz is between Reggio Emilia, a town near the “famous” Canossa, the Adriatic Sea and Florence.

News: Exciting Collaboration





The Monolith Cocktail in collaboration with leading Italian music publication Kalporz will be cosying up and sharing reviews, interviews and other bits from our respective sites each month. Keep an eye out for future ‘synergy’ between our two great houses as we exchange posts.

Our inaugural post has just gone up on Kalporz; a review of the upcoming blistering tumult from the Italian-Tunisian post-punk-meets-Sufi-ritual Ifriqiyya Electrique. Catch that review here

The first Kalporz post will be published shortly. But first, here’s some background on Kalporz:

Kalporz writes about music, with his own musical vision, since 2000.
Kalporz is a careful observer of news, trends, emerging scenes, but without chasing the dominant taste: he is in search of “beautiful things”. He hopes to publish articles well written and carefully, in an original way, without filters and, of course, independently.

The editorial project is under the Creative Commons regime (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 IT) and in 2018 it was voted as the best Italian music site by the Meeting of Independent Labels (MEI) and Musicletter (https://www.musicletter.it/index.php/2018/08/27/kalporz-e-reverendo-lys-vincono-la-targa-mei-musicletter-2018-premio-speciale-a-umbria-jazz-come-miglior-festival-musicale-italiano/).

The Kalporz family is composed of the founder Luca Vecchi, the editors Paolo Bardelli, Monica Mazzoli, Piero Merola, Enrico Stradi, Matteo Mannocci, Gianluigi Marsibilio, and about twenty other collaborators, as well as three photographers.
The collaborators are from all parts of Italy, even if the main base of Kalporz is between Reggio Emilia, a town near the “famous” Canossa, the Adriatic Sea and Florence.