Maximo Park: Lukas Wooller
British alternative rock band Maximo Park just released its fifth studio album (and follow-up to 2012's critically acclaimed "The National Health") "Too Much Information" on February 3. Synth-driven single "Leave This Island" is already burning up my iTunes.
The new album is called "Too Much Information." Are you implying that we're just bombarded with info via our computers and smartphones all day?
Yeah, that's definitely a part of it. Being in the music industry, we became quite aware of people's attention becoming so much shorter, because you have so much information to assimilate from so many different mediums. And we were wondering, "Does that make the album extinct? Do people have enough attention to listen to a whole record?" But we believe in the album as a body of work.
Why write "Leave This Island," essentially a song about an urban hermit?
It's either about an urban hermit who's afraid to leave his own island and enter the wider world, or maybe the wider world is the island and he wants to leave but feels stranded. It's about being overwhelmed with modern society, like the too much information theme. So it all kind of gently ties together.
How does software enter the recording process on your albums?
It plays more and more of a role in our writing, purely because we've just been forced to use laptops to write separately. We -- particularly on this album -- decided not to spend too much time sitting in a room together writing. Personally I use Ableton Live to write. Our guitar player was trained as a sound engineer, so he's very into Pro Tools. We also have our own studio, which we've built, and we use a Pro Tools rig.
In light of "Leave This Island," if you were stuck on a desert island and could only use one app, what would it be?
There's an app called Figure. I've tried a lot of synth apps, and I think there a lot of bad ones out there, but this one is really good and really simple. It's a toy, but it's a really clever toy, and I've written some great ideas on it that I've later used. It has really fat sound, and you can take the audio out and put in Abelton and take it from there.
With your new track "Brain Cells" in mind, is there an app that you think is good for killing brain cells?
Yeah, the new favorite one for us at the moment is QuizUp, and that is a really great quiz app. Although it wastes time, you can kid yourself into believing you're learning, because you're learning facts. It's great when we're touring.
On tour, which are the apps that you use most?
I like The Guardian app, because I can get all the news. With Sky Sports News, I can check all the football results. Skype is useful to call my girlfriend. WhatsApp is great for when I'm on tour. Obviously there's Twitter and Instagram. I also like BBC Listener podcasts, because I have loads of music, but it's nice to hear people talking.
There is an unofficial Android app out that offers Maximo Park lyrics. Do you guys ever talk about developing your own app?
I would love to, but it's about trying to find something fun that feels quite specific to what we do. Doing a lyrics app is quite cool, but you want it to appeal to more than your more hard-core Maximo fans. But I don't know what that will be.
What's coming up for you this year?
I look forward to touring again, and we have an international tour coming up. We love touring America, even though we don't get to do it too often. But hopefully we'll get to do it again soon.
Maximo Park Tour Dates5/12 The Crocodile, Seattle, WA
5/14 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR
5/15 POPSCENE @ Rickshaw Stop, SF, CA
5/16 Troubador, LA, CA
5/18 Bottom Lounge, Chicago, IL
5/20 Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, D.C.
5/21 Underground Arts - Wolf Building, Philadelphia, PA
5/23 Irving Plaza, New York
5/24 City Hall Plaza, Boston
Maya VikIn the '80s, many Prince protégés like Sheena Easton, Vanity, and Apollonia turned into bona fide stars in their own right. Norwegian electro-funk pop star Maya Vik may be Prince's newest unofficial exponent, making his trademark funk sound her own. Voted most beautiful Norwegian by Elle magazine, Vik first came to fame playing bass for popular bands like Montée and Furia. Since going solo, she's released two albums and, last December, a funky-sexy-cool EP called "Lay Low."
Your music gets compared to the Minneapolis funk of Prince, Sheila E, and Vanity. How did a Norwegian girl first become aware of this genre?
I got my first CD when I was 12, I guess, and that was Prince. It had songs like "Head" and lyrics that I don't know if my parents knew what I was singing about when I was that young. So I grew up listening to Prince, Janet Jackson, and Michael Jackson, and it always stuck with me. So when I started to make my own music, I wanted to make music that is close to the music I'm into. So when I put an album on, I always go back to that.
"Lay Low" is about a relationship from the innocent beginning to the tragic end. Can you talk about that?
It started off with the song "Lay Low," which is kind of sad. That's what started the whole relationship scenario. Each of my producers wrote about a relationship in a different way, so it all fit into the same concept. So we put it together as a story all the way through. Writing about a relationship can be cliché, but I think it ended up quite good.
What is the Norwegian music scene like?
There are a lot of good musicians in Norway, and the level is really high. Some make it in other European countries, but not many make it in America. It's A-ha and that's about it. But there are a lot of indie acts. Sweden has always had amazing artists, and they've always been good at promoting their bands outside of Sweden, but Norway not as much.
You do so much touring. Which apps do you fill your phone with for amusement?
It's mostly social media apps. I'm not very good at sitting down and playing a game, because I feel like I have to do something constructive. So it's either looking for news or the apps you find for the blogs that I follow. I read The Fader and like their app. You get the stories, and it's an easy access to the blog -- and Vibe and Spin. But I also have two phones, an iPhone and an HTC. There are better apps on Apple, but a lot more apps on Android.
What are your favorite social media apps?
I'm a huge fan of Instagram, and somebody just told me that I need to start using Snapchat. I don't like it. It's too much. You already have Instagram and all the social media stuff you need to follow, so it's just too much. I'll stick to posting on Instagram, which is linked to Facebook, which is linked to Twitter, and that's enough for me.
What makes a good Instagram photo?
It's a good picture that has a good story to it.
Do you enjoy interacting with fans over social media?
Yeah, I do. That's where you can actually meet them if you don't at shows. And I try to follow up on new Facebook messages. I want to connect with fans and people who write to me.
When are we going to see you in the U.S.?
I'm playing SXSW. That's the confirmed show in 2014. But I'll be doing a few gigs in New York City as well.
Scavenger Hunt: Jill Lamoureux
Navigating LA's music scene can feel like a big scavenger hunt. But when Philly native and music composer Dan Mufson heard Wichita, Kansas, transplant Jill Lamoureux sing in an LA club, he knew instantly that he had found his creative match. Calling themselves Scavenger Hunt, the duo made their debut with the singles "Lost" and "Dreamers." Stay tuned for their EP in early 2014.
The story behind your meeting was so magical. Why was Dan so taken by you?
I guess it was my voice and stage presence. He thought, "Why is she playing in such a small venue for such few people with a voice like that?" We worked on a couple ads together, because that's what he does. We decided that we liked working on music together, especially hooky, fun pop music. It just grew from there.
Why did you decide to cover Kings of Leon's "California Waiting"?
It wasn't my idea. We actually just wanted to do a cover. We changed it into a dreamy electro-pop song, and the more we added layers to it, sonically, the more in love we became with it. It has such a huge, beachy vibe to it.
You are also both new to California. Did that factor into your decision?
That's a good point, and that's also why we're both drawn to this track. It's a good description of where he and I -- coming from Wichita, you couldn't be in a more different world when you come to California, which is so beautiful, fresh, and full of life. On the East Coast, it's gloomy and gray, and it's rare to find that here. Also living near the beach, there's an air of creativity here, and everyone always has something they're working on and that they want to share. Being an artist, that's the atmosphere I wanted to be around.
When are we going to hear an entire album?
We have a lot of good songs that are ready for the EP, but we're taking our time. But you'll hear a lot from us soon.
What are the apps you use the most?
One I love that's very important to Scavenger Hunt is SoundCloud. The SoundCloud app is invaluable for us, because when Dan and I aren't in the studio, we're using SoundCloud all the time. He'll record a piece and then send it to me, and I'll record a piece and send it to him, so it's a really cool messenger service that we can use. You can also put together private download lists, so only you can listen to it.
The Uber app is something I use every day. We take Ubers to our gigs, because we know we'll be having beverages and don't want to get behind the wheel. We can load our equipment in, and I love tracking cars.
Another one is Shazam, because I'm constantly listening to the radio, or if I'm walking through a store, you can see me with my hand in the air Shazam-ing and trying to find new artists. There's another great app called Waze. When you live in LA, Waze is amazing. It has real-time traffic, so I use it when driving across town, so I'm not stuck in horrible gridlock. It gives you a way to get there quicker.
Full disclosure: I am a little bit of a scatterbrain, so the Find My iPhone app is amazing. I type in my code on my computer, and then I hear a loud beep from the other side of the room, and then you realize that there's your iPhone. That, or some Uber driver answers and says, "I have your iPhone in my car." So those are some of my favorites.
Scavenger Hunt's upcoming shows:2/17 Bardot, Hollywood, CA
2/18, Thursdays in March at the Sayers Club, LA, CA
2/21 The Echo, LA, CA