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Miley’s VMA Wilderness Reflekted

Something a little different today, I wrote this piece and thought I’d share since it builds on from my last post.

The music industry has changed.  That’s old news. It’s in major state of flux and rules and records are being broken and rewritten every week.

This week two rules have been broken. And it’s only Tuesday. One was quite literally smashed apart by a wrecking ball, ridden by a nude Miley Cyrus. Miley’s new video was watched 12.3 million times in just 24 hours – shattering the record held by One Direction (10.7 million).

Although the record proves the constant growth and importance of YouTube– it could hardly be called innovative. You can imagine the big marketing experts of RCA/Sony sitting around the meeting going – I’m thinking, a big wrecking ball and nudity! Boom! We have a YouTube record winner. Soft porn selling is not a new concept.

In more refreshing news, Arcade Fire’s long awaited The Reflektors released its first single on the same day. This may have not received the same one-day hype but certainly may be a more important footmark on the music industry.

The indie rock band from Montreal had been rather quiet since the 2010 release of their Grammy winning The Suburbs. However over the last few months a very extensive campaign has developed which came to a climax yesterday.

It started with rumours that former front man of LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy was producing the album. He added to the fire of anticipation by commenting that the album “is really epic”.


Then came the creation of The Refletkors as a persona – a widespread project across several platforms. First graffiti of a tribal looking logo was sprawled across various cities. Then a website with a video of shiny looking costume and snapshots of the artwork. Followed by an instagram account bearing the same name with more snaps of the graffiti and a YouTube channel with another strange mystical video.  However at this point only rumours linked The Reflektors to Arcade Fire.

But finally on the 26 of August a banner in NYC officially tied the two together bearing the words Arcade Fire 9pm 9/9 above the famous graffiti symbol. Interesting how all the first steps of the campaign were done in physical, tangible forms first. But of course the digital reinforcement followed, with a countdown video preview appearing on an Arcade Fire’s official YouTube channel and some usual tweeting.

Then the explosion that was yesterday – two videos, a secret concert and the preorder for the full album to be released on October 29.

The traditional video portrays the band reunited with their big plaster heads of the Sprawl II video in a black and white fascination with a big disco ball and a man statue made of mirrors. It is directed by Anton Corbjin. In comparison the video only passed the half a million views marker today.

However more interesting is the second video – a Google Chrome Experiment interactive video, that is starting to become a trademark of the group after the success of The Wilderness Downtown (and less breakthrough Neon Bible).

Just like The Wilderness Downtown the video has the user play a fundamental part of the video. Using your phone/tablet to “reflekt” your computer, you use it as a torch to discover the main character’s escape from her wild life in Haiti and your webcam pulls you into hers. The video was filmed by long time collaborator Vincent Morisset and the technology was created by Aaron Koblin.

Koblin’s work and its impact on the future of music videos and the ever-growing partnership between digital and music is rather interesting. Koblin was not only responsible for The Wilderness Downtown but also various other breakthrough interactive videos such as The Johnny Cash Project  and 3 Dreams of Black for Danger Mouse, Daniele Luppi, Jack White, and Norah Jones (both done in partnership with Chris Milk – another prominent figure in this field).  Koblin has been featured both on TED talks and the Future of StoryTelling where he discusses the importance of story telling and its role in developing culture. He explores its need to transform in the new age of the digital world so that it can bring culture along with us in a more personalized and interactive manner.

Another interesting angle is the role of Google in all of this. We all remember the days of MTV and music videos being used as a commercial for a song to get people to go out and buy the albums. Google has now made YouTube the advert, the product and the streaming all in one (as well as an ever growing revenue source).

But the Google Chrome projects take it one step further. What are the dynamics of these special projects? Is Arcade Fire licensing the song to Chrome and is Google seeing this as advertising? Is this a showcase for the ability of Chrome as a browser and aimed to capture further market share for interactive and creative projects to follow (whether in partnership or simply hosting)? Or is the band paying Chrome to advertise the song? And in this case why is the call to action less prominent than one might think – where is the big PREORDER NOW button? Or not even an email sign up? And finally is CONTENT creation a future revenue source for Google?

All of this is uncertain, but what is certain is we are watching the Google empire growing over the music industry, day by day, in one shape or form. Oh yes and sex still sells.



Song of the day: Calling a ‘I told you so’ on this band

Hello new and old followers,

I’d like to apologies for my absence, my come back and the confusion around Indie Nation/MasMusic and the double posting.
So it is now with heavy heart that I announce that I will officially split from Indie Nation (although remaining an honorary DJguest), and will now only exclusively post content on this site. For more info please see this farewell post. I encourage you to subscribe to both blogs and follow us on our journey as we find our new vision, direction and offerings.

The good news is if you are used to your daily tune, it will still be available here . Just make sure to sign up, or come and pop by whenever you like. Plus much more will be coming soon. So without further ado lets just give you why you are here: the music.

Today I give you a new discovery of mine which I am very excited about. The band is called Years & Years. They have just started out, in a very random and charming way. The two things that strike me immediately are the age and the voice! The group looks like they are made up of teenagers (turns out they are in their early 20s) and one heavily moustached Salvador Dali look-alike (I stole that comparison from the article cause it’s so great) yet the music is of a much older maturity.

Then there is Olly’s voice which is extraordinary. There’s also something very charming about his sincere face and wonderfully curly hair (which I have a slight bias to adore). A quick Google search brings to light that Olly Alexander is actually an actor and a scriptwriter. And a successful one. He wrote the screen play and acted in this which looks fantastic.

As for their sound they describe themselves as mashing warm acoustic with cold electronic sounds and I can’t think of a better description – or a mix of sound I love more. This is music that hits the right spots for me. They just started out and only have two songs released but I really hope to hear much more from them soon since they are clearly talented. One quick look at their FB page shows they are unsigned but their manager works to Machine Management a fantastic firm (cough dream job cough) that also looks after Citizens! and Friendly Fires among others. So no fear for their career.

So here is the wonderful I wish I knew

And also a really fun recording done live in what looks like a tube or train

The only thing I must admit, is that for an actor, Olly does a terrible fake singing in the official video. That aside we still love you and your curls…and then there is your voice.

Blindsided. Re: Stacks. The Grammy’s 2012

Last year the Grammy’s – or more so some people’s response to Arcade Fire’s win at the hardly music related awards – made me really mad (see below). Not because I didn’t know the reality of the Grammy situation (the fact that they value performance theatrics over talent) let alone the continued degradation of commercial music industry. And of course that indie music fans around the world have long ago accepted that the Grammy’s will never put emphasis on their idols. But if we accept the tragedy that is happening/has happened to the music industry – it will never change.

And no I didn’t watch it, but I thought I’d google some ‘highlights’ and do some comparison. And low and behold, the Grammy’s did enough for me to revisit some of the points I had last year. I am not getting as heated this time though. I think I did enough violent swearing last year.

The one wish I had last year was that more/another alternative artist would win the show and people would rejoice. Or at least know who they are. Or even better – go out and have a listen. Well I got half my dream to come true. And his name is Justin Vernon or better known (although hardly it seems) as Bon Iver. If you don’t know him, well you can join the many reporters who messed up his name. Its really hard for me to mentally process the fact that if I was talking about a musician and mentioned the name Justin – I think MANY more people are likely to ask Justin Bieber? Then Justin Vernon? I also am trying to breathe deeply when I found out that Bieber sold over twice the album volumes of Vernon. But I said this would not be a ferociously angry blog so let’s get back to the good news.

The fact that Bon Iver won not just one (Best new artist), but two (Best alternative band) important awards gave me more satisfaction than a creamed honey and butter toast. Bon Iver has been in my top 5 artist for the last 4 years and is part of my bread and butter of listening pleasure.  I even looked past that with this being his second album of his 5 year career – he is hardly ‘new’. But why get caught in the details – pure talent was recognized and this is something to be excited about.

What was even better was the way Justin handled the situation and what he replied. Justin mentioned how he was uncomfortable winning this award and how ‘It’s hard to accept this award because when I started making songs I started for the inherent reward of making songs,” He also thanked and recognized not just the other nominees but more importantly all the non-nominees and people who would never be recognized as nominees.

Vernon also mentioned to Billboard that they turned down the opportunity to play “We wanted to play our music, but were told that we couldn’t play. We had to do a collaboration with someone else,” said Vernon. “We kind of said ‘f*** you’ a little bit, I don’t think they wanted us to play.” What a guy.

Justin echoed and represents everything that I feel about the Grammy’s and the music industry at large. He also had a go at the VMA in an earlier blog saying that they were responsible for the music industry being so little about MUSIC and having lost all soul. If you watch the Britney tribute this year – you can’t help but agree.It’s crazy that we are just use to such bullshit and blahblah crap that we become numb to it. But every now and again, maybe once a year, it’s good to step back, and realize just the gravity of the bullshit environment that we have created and accepted as a reality. The reality is the music industry is shrinking, or at least seriously reconstructing. And this is where we are wasting so much of the money.

And Justin did have many sources of proof for his arguments at the Grammy’s as well. The highlight of this must be Nicki Minaj. The new Lady Gaga wannabe rapper is trying to abuse this the-more-dramatics-the-more-records-I-sell tactics that has become the in-thing these days. I almost feel like I fall in the trap of what she wants to achieve if I talk about it. and even without mentioning the outrageous aspects of her performance or escort I have done it. I have given her free publicity to all of you.  SHOCK SHOCK SHOCK. This is the new strategy of the industry. And frankly it never seizes to amaze me how far people are willing to push it as things become desperate. It is difficult to offend me, and I am openly an atheist, but even I felt slightly uncomfortable seeing what she did.

Nor were we short of social networks helping to remind us just how vast the sea of retarded people with access to the internet does stretch. What did most people blog about after Bon Iver won a MUSIC award? his looks. And of course the people who judge MUSICIAN by what their wear vs how they sound or their music ability AGAIN had the intellect of my remote control. And of course since these people mostly have the mental capacity of a goldfish and the creativity on the same level, the ranges of their biggest insult went from saying that he looks like an English teacher….to a Biology teacher…to a Maths teacher. Wow guys, really keeping it fresh. Considering the repetition I see in songs, lyrics and music videos of the majority commercial music I guess you just follow your idols. There is nothing quite like comments who go along the lines of: what is he doing winning awards when he LOOKS LIKE THAT. The only reason that I am not going on a swearing rant right here is because I am listening to Bon himself, and his calming ability is one which is bewitching beyond anyone I know.

Then another perfect example of retarded comments is this guy.

Comments included was – I never heard of him and I heard of all the other artist and HE WON  – yes cause we all know you are the official knowledge god. And I’m not a big Nicki Minaj fan but I would have to given her to her she is freaking huge on the radio – well yes because the radio is the ultimate teller of talent. And let me not even get back to her performance or that this is a taster of the lyrics of her songs:

“He just gotta give me that look, when he give me that look
Then the panties comin’ off, off, uh”

Shame on you.

Its not even that I am against commercial music as a concept.  I wasn’t angry that Adele stole most of the prizes. She is as commercial as Coca cola but I don’t mind it. She is actually talented and has a voice to be reckon with. Its ok if the nature of her songs are not in my favourite type. I respect as an artist because she ACTS like one. An artist. A musician. And she can sell the most CDs and that is fine with me.

What I don’t want to hear are long arguments for artist/bands that put greater value/time/effort/money on their appearances rather than their music. It’s not that I frown on entertainers. That is a great talent. But really an added bonus for me when I consider who are talented musicians. Their primary goal needs to be to create the highest quality of music that they are capable of. If not, don’t even start with me on the rest. After that you may want to entertain, you may want to make cash but first, and most importantly comes your music. It’s not even like Bon Iver didn’t sell out at all – he has used his music in commercials. If he has the opportunity to make cash from his talent – why not? When you see how much some of the other artist who have no talent make – why shouldn’t the guy with the skills be making some money in the same industry. Its clear that is not his underlying goal.

Lastly Justin states: I come from a place where music growing was an expression, it was a journey for self discovery. I was always a bit hesitative to an industrial approach to music……I don’t think its wrong….Michael was the best, but his success become fuel apart on top of fuel….the whole system is bizzare to me.

And at this point I watch that video. And I say one more time. What a beautifully genuine human being. A guy just being himself. Because he doesn’t need to do more. Because his edge is not his outrageous outfits. His hot body. The hot girls in his video. Because he can not brush his hair and let the music be the driver of why he gains fans and respect. It’s because for him music is a tool to express and feel passion and emotion. And the beauty in his creation is something that I am not talented enough to eloquently express or do justice. But I feel in full force.  And so I leave you with two quotes I love:

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
Aldous Huxley

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
Victor Hugo

As you can see, I’m not so good at the keeping silence part. So I pick music. And I pick Bon Iver.