Disclaimer: You May Find a Broken Link

So, there USED to be freenapster.com, and it USED to provide access to almost any artist's music. It was pretty awesome, and I linked ~90% of this blog's recommendations to that site. Now, apparently, Free Napster is no more. Booooooo.

It will be a long, on-going task of mine to redirect the links to somewhere you can hear the music, but in the meantime, if you click on a link that brings you to Napster where it asks you to sign in:
1) Be angry at them, for disrupting your chance to enjoy a good song
2) Google the song and still check it out, because it's awesome

If you have another source I should be using, please don't hesitate to send it my way. Email me for that, and any music recommendations, at tracy@groundwm.com. Thanks!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Before SXSW, Chicago's My Gold Mask Offers a FREE Empty Bottle Show & Some Conversation

I am a fan of My Gold Mask's music. I first heard them on January 6, and have listened to their latest EP A Thousand Voices countless times since. I was incredibly excited to learn that before this Chicago duo heads to SXSW, they're playing a FREE show at Empty Bottle on Monday, March 15. Assuming your hangover from the weekend's St. Patrick's Day festivities has subsided, I strongly encourage you to attend the show. It'll be a great way to burn all those alcoholic calories.

Over the past few months, My Gold Mask music has spread like wildfire. They have an electronically tribal sound, with a driving energy that encourages dancing. The lyrics are deep and fleeting, accompanied by a single guitar and a minimalist use of percussion. Many bloggers, including myself, are calling My Gold Mask a top Chicago act to watch in 2010.

My incessant googling lead to several questions, and MGM welcomed my invitation to share some conversation online. As a music lover and promoter, my questions ebb and flow between random points of interest. Read on to hear what Jack and Gretta from My Gold Mask have to say about SXSW, their dream line-up, and releasing new music.

Music Per Diem: I admire your approach to making music. In past interviews you expressed a desire to continuously challenge yourself, and to have your music be a product of your abilities and not your influences. In January to the Chicagoist, Gretta mentioned that adding a cymbal to more songs is one way she plans to challenge herself in 2010, but I’m curious to know what’s next. How do you plan to keep the process new? Do you see any other instruments on the horizon? Any collaborations? Do you think My Gold Mask will ever make the conscious decision to head in a completely new direction?

J: As you said, we're all for challenging ourselves and keeping things interesting to us. We basically have no set rules. We may add more, we may not. Our philosophy is to let the music, the songs, decide where we go next.

G: Well, since the Chicagoist interview, I've already added a cymbal. As for what's next? I don't know, I'd like to learn Braille. It doesn't necessarily have to be added instrumentation. It can be a language, or how to sew. When I was 13, I learned Morse Code for no reason other than it seemed interesting.

MPD: Music is certainly my favorite form of art. While I respect your choice to write in seclusion, purposefully avoiding any form of outside influence, I usually like the concept of artistic influences. The idea that one person’s art is responsible for the outcome of another person’s art is exciting to me, and seems slightly inevitable. Recently, your music was used by two other artists, Chicago musician The Hood Internet "Bitches," and fashion designer Phillip Lim used “Violet Eyes” and “Your Coo Ka Choo” in his Fall/Winter 2010/2011 fashion show. As an artist trying to avoid all influences, how do you feel when other artists integrate your work into theirs? Do you think you’ll ever hear someone else’s music and choose to integrate it into your work? Do other forms of art influence your sound?

J: Well, it's not so much that I'm trying to "avoid all influence", we of course have influences. It's more like an effort to leave those influences in the subconscious while we write songs. As far as other artists integrating our work that's always a thrill as well because it causes you to look at your own art in a different way.

G: And we have integrated someone else's music, in a way. We covered "Betty Davis Eyes" last year. We integrate all forms of art when it comes to music. It would be hard not to. We are sponges to the vibrations of all kinds of art and I hope that comes across in our music.

J: Though, when it comes to doing a cover song, it's only interesting to us if we feel like we do something different with it.

MPD: Up next for MGM is SXSW. If I were in a band offered to play SXSW, I’d be beyond fantastically excited. On a scale of 1 to 10, how fantastically excited are you? What part of the SXSW experience are you most looking forward to? Who tops your list of must-see shows? Was there a specific event that put MGM on SXSW’s radar, or would you accredit a broader situation?

G: We are very excited! Neither of us have ever been to SXSW, and we feel extremely lucky to get to play 3 amazing showcases with tons of amazing new bands. I just want to slip into it and ride the wave until someone tells me it's time to leave.

J: As to what led us to this....I don't really know if there was a specific event that led to us playing, I think it's just been about a few nice people who appreciate our music and are giving us a chance to share with even more people. That's what it's all about.

MPD: When describing your writing process, the words organic, collaborative and emotion often come up. For MGM, you’ve explained that a song generally starts with Jack exploring guitar riffs and Gretta throwing lyrics around, followed by adding drums and the occasional cymbal. It doesn’t seem like there’s a point where you decide to “create an album,” but rather once a few songs are penned, performed and polished you release them to the world. Is that accurate? Was there any conversation regarding how MGM is going to release music?

I find this discussion particularly interesting as the hands-down best strategy to release music hasn’t been determined yet. The jury’s still out on whether or not music today should be released for free or at a price? As a physical CD or digital format? Should the release be full-length or an EP? On a label or independently distributed? Personally, I believe in general that releasing free content regularly is one of the best things an artist can do – whether it be blog posts, video diaries, pictures, tweets or new music. As an artist, where do you see the industry heading?

G: I guess our only plan on how we release music is that when we have something finished, we just get it out there. It can be an EP or full length or just a single, it doesn't matter. It's whatever we feel like.

J: But, we will always have free mp3's out there because really, we just want people to hear our music. And that's the easiest way to get people to listen. And we will still make physical copies for people who like to hold something in their hands too. We would love to do a vinyl next.

MPD: In previous interviews you stated that MGM just “puts the music out there” and hopes people like it. From a business perspective, I’m curious where you “put it.” MySpace? Bandcamp? Where else? What medium provided your first traffic surge? What outlet has helped you best maintain the momentum this far? What types of things, if any, have you done proactively to get on someone’s radar? Based on your experiences thus far, what is your top recommendation to other artists?

J: Well, as an unsigned musician, sites like Bandcamp have been very helpful. It's easy to use and people can download straight from the site. It's also nice because you can embed the MP3's with your art, info, etc. I'm sort of a freak about having artwork attached to my mp3's. I actually have artwork on everything in my iPod. So, it drives me crazy when I download something and it's like "track 1" and has no art attached.

G: Our advice to another band would be, just give some songs away, don't be too possessive.

MPD: Name three things you’re loyal to (ie a brand of vodka, a Chicago coffee shop, a sports team, recycling, etc)

J: Comic Books, My Pug, Making music

G: Same for me, except switch comics for chocolate

MPD: Let’s play word association.
  • Conan O’Brien - rad
  • Lo-fi - warm
  • The Midwest - cold
  • MySpace - necessary evil
  • History - repeats

MPD: Last November, MGM was featured on a Pretty Much Amazing podcast with some pretty amazing artists, including Yeasayer, Girls, Hot Chip, Junior Boys, Department of Eagles, Sia and Four Tet. How does it feel to see your song Violet Eyes featured with that crowd? Of all the artists on the playlist, included below, who is your favorite? Beyond that list, who are some of your favorite artists today?

Artists on pmaCAST #21 include Four Tet, Karen O and the Kids, Ellie Goulding, Bloodgroup, Sia, The xx, Fyfe Dangerfield, Girls, Yeasayer, Maps, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Department of Eagles, Junior Boys, Peter Bjorn and John, and Hot Chip.

J: It's kinda weird to see our song next to all those names. But good weird! Some new stuff I'm digging lately: Shapers, Hussle Club, Cloud Nothings.

G: Well, the new Charlotte Gainsbourg record is amazing.

MPD: If you could build your dream line-up, who would be on it and at what venue?

Line up: Klaus Nomi, Run DMC, The Ramones, US

Venue: Saturn

My Gold Mask is playing Monday, March 15, at Empty Bottle. The show is FREE, 21+, and begins at 9pm.

I will see you there.

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Snapshots - Summer Festivals 2009