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FILTER 50: Getting To Know: Unknown Mortal Orchestra

By Laura Studarus; photo by Jasmine Safaeian on February 6, 2013

 

FILTER 50: Getting To Know: Unknown Mortal Orchestra

 

Despite a teenage stint as Auckland’s most obvious graffiti artist, Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman Ruban Nielson’s goal was never to stand out. “I didn’t get caught, even though I tagged my actual name,” he says, his voice crackling with amusement. “There was this kid who was a tagger and got caught by the police and he had to change his tag. Me and him always had a little beef. So I changed my [tagger] name to ‘Ruban’ just to rub it in.”


Now 32, Nielson is still apt at hiding in plain sight. Slouched in a booth at a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood, he could pass for any other Friday night patron—save for a mysterious, peering eyeball tattooed across his Adam’s apple.


This anonymity hasn’t always existed. Having found success with his previous band The Mint Chicks (which featured his brother Kody, now of Kiwi upstarts Opossom), Nielson discovered that life in the public eye was limiting.


 

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This article is from FILTER Issue 50

FILTER 50: You Should Already Know: Jason Lytle

By Dom Sinacola; photo by J. Garner on January 23, 2013

 

FILTER 50: You Should Already Know: Jason Lytle

Despite the cult of personality that surrounds him, Jason Lytle just wants to be a normal guy. “Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so rooted in reality,” he says over the phone, taking a break from some housework, “because I spend a lot of time keeping up my yard, and a lot of time making sure my car runs, and all of these normal functions, paying my taxes.”

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This article is from FILTER Issue 50

FILTER 50: Getting to Know: The Joy Formidable

By Jessica Jardine; photo by James Minchin III on January 18, 2013

 

FILTER 50: Getting to Know: The Joy Formidable

Being snowed in might force most people to subsist on beans and toast or down a bottle of Jack to pass the time. But for the members of Welsh band The Joy Formidable, it provided the ideal opportunity to hunker down and record a second full-length album. 


At the end of a recent American tour, the trio found themselves stuck in Portland, Maine, with mountains of snow outside their door. The wintry weather provided the perfect, sealed-off atmosphere for lead singer and guitarist Ritzy Bryan, bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matt Thomas to finally lay down the tracks that had been buzzing around their tour bus for the previous few months. 


“I relay the story now and people think, ‘You’re fucking crazy,’ because it was really cold, we’re snowed in and I think to people it sounds like, ‘Oh, you got cabin fever,’” says Bryan. “It sounds kind of strange but we were just having a really great, fruitful time. We really couldn’t record fast enough. It was not a difficult second album at all.”

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This article is from FILTER Issue 50

FILTER 50: I See A Darkness: The History Of DJ Shadow As Told By Cut Chemist, James Lavelle + More

By Kevin Friedman; photos all courtesy @djshadowphotos Flickr on January 16, 2013

 

FILTER 50: I See A Darkness: The History Of DJ Shadow As Told By Cut Chemist, James Lavelle + More


Read the first part of our history of DJ Shadow, including a retrospective interview with Josh Davis.


Below are interviews with Shadow's contributors and collaborators from throughout his career.

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This article is from FILTER Issue 50

FILTER 50: I See A Darkness: The History of DJ Shadow

By Kevin Friedman on January 15, 2013

 

FILTER 50: I See A Darkness: The History of DJ Shadow

 

If Josh Davis was a filmmaker, he would likely make horror films—moody, somber, introspective pieces like The Exorcist or Something Wicked This Way Comes. There is a darkness that runs throughout his oeuvre that justifies his moniker, DJ Shadow. It’s not hard to imagine him as a character in one of the classics of the genre, a caped phantom tirelessly slaving over his creations, fusing together body parts, creating life.


Davis began making beats during high school in the San Francisco Bay Area, learning the art of sampling rather than following the typical amateur DJ path of wedding and nightclub gigs. As a student at UC Davis, he co-founded the Solesides collective along with fellow members including the duos Blackalicious (Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel) and Latyrx (Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker) and began releasing records as DJ Shadow. A remix caught the ear of UK vinyl pioneer James Lavelle, who encouraged Shadow to make his first full-length album in 1996. That effort, Endtroducing….., would change the world of DJ music, and with it, Davis’ life.

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This article is from FILTER Issue 50

FILTER 50: Replying To Silence: Scott Walker’s New Heights

By Kyle MacKinnel; lead photo by David Evans on January 11, 2013

 

FILTER 50: Replying To Silence: Scott Walker’s New Heights

 

“It’s a beautiful night from here to those trembling stars.” 

—Scott Walker, “The Cockfighter” (1995)

You awaken in a disoriented state, lying upon numb soil. The surroundings seem oddly familiar, but you can’t quite place yourself. At your periphery, lurching acquaintances gaze through you, their inaudible screams coursing your interior. Somewhere distant, machinery grinds indifferently. It’s dark, save the moonlight seeping through cracked sky. You cling to its great blue beams, transfixed as you ascend past leafless branches. Your direction mysterious, your business in the grey thicket unresolved, still your heart swells at the enormity of it all. A proper soundtrack to this moment exists only in the infamous beauty of a Scott Walker string crescendo. The scene could be set to “Boy Child” (1969), “Sleepwalkers Woman” (1984), “Farmer in the City” (1995) or “Corps de Blah” (2012); it doesn’t much matter which—time flew out the window when you weren’t paying attention. It is the infinite sound of a wave curling back on itself. It’s that first glimpse at unspeakable depth in the stare of a fading grandparent. Just check the Climate of Hunter (1984) cover for reference: a look impossible to ever articulate, but you’ll hear it all in the eyes.

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This article is from FILTER Issue 50

FILTER 50: Getting To Know: The Babies

By Mike Hilleary; photo by Whitney Summer on January 9, 2013

 

FILTER 50: Getting To Know: The Babies

“I’m, like, blushing,” says Cassie Ramone. “I’m turning red about stuff that I can’t handle. But it’s cool.” The reason for her rosiness is the onslaught of compliments being thrown her way by Woods bassist Kevin Morby, who has spent the last several minutes hailing everything from the Vivian Girls songwriter’s positive energy to the nasty guitar leads and artwork she provides for their joint musical project, The Babies. Ramone, reacting as you might expect to such earnest flattery, laughs and stumbles over herself when she tries to reciprocate. “Um, well, I…I think that I… OK, fuck.”

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This article is from FILTER Issue 50

FILTER 50: Thrall of Sound: An Elemental Conversation With Björk

By Ken Scrudato; photos by Nick and Warren on January 7, 2013

 

FILTER 50: Thrall of Sound: An Elemental Conversation With Björk

“They only live who dare.”
 

Those words, by a rather enlightened 18th century monsieur who we know by the nom de guerre Voltaire, got him in a lot of trouble when he decided, unlike so many philosophical windbags, to actually live by them. A couple of hundred years later, they could easily serve as a retroactive manifesto for the entire artistic career of one Björk Guðmundsdóttir—who, while she may not necessarily have suffered a stay in the Bastille, has certainly endured the perpetual burden of lazy misinterpretations and sneering dismissals by the same sort of regressive minds that sought to discredit her French counterpart.
 

As happens with such monumentally singular personalities as she, Björk has gained sweeping notoriety, often minus the corresponding commercial success. And perhaps to add a few exclamation points to her artistic sentence, she concluded four years of fervent, intensive research and study in 2011 by releasing Biophilia, certainly one of the most passionate, honest and staggering-in-scope musical undertakings since Wagner’s Der ring des nibelungen (or, arguably, Quadrophenia). It was a fiercely openhearted, overwhelmingly visceral and yet deeply intellectual attempt to reckon the natural world—nay, the entire universe—through the comprehension of sound. To say the least, there were no hit singles.

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This article is from FILTER Issue 50

FILTER 50: Getting to Know: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

By Jonathan Zwickel; photo by John Keatley on January 3, 2013

 

FILTER 50: Getting to Know: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

 

Autumn in Seattle is reliably golden. The clammy veil that dulls the city the rest of the year is cast aside by long, balmy days and crisp, crystalline nights. Earth and sky are pristine, vivid, exposing a long-dormant inner glow. And right now, autumn 2012, it’s hard to imagine Ben Haggerty—the 29-year-old rapper better known as Macklemore—existing in any other light.

 

Dude rolls up to Victrola Coffee in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in a gleaming, black 2008 Cadillac DTS. Check that: Cadillac DTS Biarritz Edition. Low and sleek like an android orca, the ride seems to vibrate in the late-morning sun even while parked. Haggerty climbs out: jeans, vintage Jordans, dark-blue flannel button-down, lazy smile, blond hair brushed back, blue eyes heavy. He is, in more ways than one, a man who’s arrived. 
 

Now we’re now going for a ride.

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This article is from FILTER Issue 50

FILTER 50: Milo Turns 50: Descendents Grow Up, Whether They Want To Or Not

By Patrick James; interviews by Mike Watt + Chris Shary on January 1, 2013

 

FILTER 50: Milo Turns 50: Descendents Grow Up, Whether They Want To Or Not

 

YOU WANT TO CELEBRATE THIS THING THE RIGHT WAY, so you’re standing in the kitchen, listening to Milo Goes to College for maybe the 100,000th time in your life, preparing to brew a “Bonus Cup,” the maelstrom of instant coffee and sugar concocted around 1980 by the members of Descendents, back when they were just a bunch of awkward kids suffering the slings and arrows of teenage heartache at Manhattan Beach’s Mira Costa High School in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

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This article is from FILTER Issue 50

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