Gorilla vs Bear x Cascine Present: Angels in LA

Gorilla vs Bear x Cascine Present: Angels in LA

Kristin Kontrol, DJ Nite Jewel, NOIA, Jerome LOL (DJ)

Thu · November 10, 2016

8:00 pm

$18.00 - $20.00

Sold Out

This event is 21 and over

Gorilla vs Bear x Cascine Present: Angels in LA
Gorilla vs Bear x Cascine Present: Angels in LA
Tastemaker music site, Gorilla vs. Bear, teams with esteemed record label, Cascine, to present a special night of music in Downtown LA. Featuring performances by Kristin Kontrol, whose recent solo album for Sub Pop, X-Communicate, was widely recognized as one of 2016's most stylish and sharp. Also playing is local hero Nite-Jewel, a staple on the LA scene with her ever-evolving brand of liquid dance-pop. Opening is NOIA, a producer and vocalist from Barcelona whose debut EP is a collage of Dancehall, Tropicalia and art-bent R&B. And spinning between sets is Jerome LOL, an LA based producer and DJ who is part of the acclaimed duo DJ Dodger Stadium, and played a key role in shaping the sound of Kanye West's newest album, The Life of Pablo. Made possible in part with support from Modelo.
Kristin Kontrol
Kristin Kontrol
Sometimes you have to rip it up and start again.

It was a tough call for Dee Dee. Dum Dum Girls was her guise for the better part of a decade, an outlet through which she had crafted an instantly identifiable body of work. Demos made in a studio apartment on a nylon string guitar and posted onto a Myspace page pricked the ears of various labels including Sub Pop who the band signed with. From there, Dee Dee assembled her group of badass, black-clad cadets and toured the world. Over the course of three albums, four EPs, and a bold brace of singles, Dum Dum Girls morphed from the girl-group-gone-bad moves of debut album I Will Be (2010), to the plush noir-pop of 2014's Too True, with its motorik beats and svelte harmonies; a dark heart burning bright.

But sometimes the project you pour your soul into ends up hemming you in. As her music evolved, Dee Dee found that she would be forever refracted through the prism of Dum Dum Girls' early work: retro-leaning female harmonies, a backdrop of lo-fi, fuzzed-up guitars.

At the top of 2015, she decided to shed her skin, ditching Dee Dee for her real name, Kristin, and adding Kontrol. It was a spontaneous idea – but it resonated with her. As Karen O once counseled her, it may be a leap into the unknown, but little risk means little reward.

Her challenge was to start fresh, and go further back into her relationship with music. Her goal was to sweep all her loves together into one genreless experience.

“The first music I felt was mine was classic 80s pop and 90s R&B, from Tiffany and Debbie Gibson to Janet Jackson and Madonna, to TLC and SWV,” she says. “But for years I was hellbent on the rock’n’roll thing, revering Joan Jett, Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde” — a rebellion against her classical vocal training — “but with Kristin Kontrol I just wanted to try it all... I thought I’m Kate Bush covering Mariah.”

In her Upper East Side apartment she'd wake up early, slam a coffee, and write till the evening. It was an intense, frustrating but exciting period of experimentation. Writing exclusively on keyboard, Kristin knocked out a song every two to three days. She then fired them off to her trusted sounding board, Richard Gottehrer, who produced records for Blondie and Richard Hell, co-founded Sire Records, and later helmed production on every Dum Dum Girls album. Gottehrer pushed Kristin to try different things like popping over to LA for a couple of trial sessions with Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Tamaryn) and Sune Rose Wagner (The Raveonettes), who'd previously produced her. Nothing was quite clicking. "I realized the songs really weren’t there yet," she admits. Then she caught a Perfume Genius show, which provided a moment of crystallization.

“I understood how far off I was from what I wanted,” says Kristin. “Mike Hadreas’ performance was so well articulated, sonically and visually. It was raw and entertaining, moving, and amusing. I felt like I was seeing the true him and I realized that I’d kept so much of myself out of Dum Dum Girls.”

Refocused and newly inspired, Kristin wrote 62 songs. She whittled them down to a tidy 10 and christened them X-Communicate. X-Communicatewas produced by producers Kurt Feldman (who had produced her Christmas single a few years back) and Andrew Miller (who had played guitar on the first Dum Dum Girls album and joined the band in its last incarnation).

Penning album opener "Show Me" proved to be the real turning point. "It wrote itself in 20 minutes," she says. "The pre-chorus references Milan Kundera, which has a certain personal significance, but lends itself to the universal. It's for everyone just trying to get by, burdened with baggage. I kept it direct and positive, and hoped it did the thing that songs sometimes do – state a simple truth in a compelling way: I take you as you are."

X-Communicate is a surprise to the ears: songs like "Skin Shed" and the title track swirl cosmic disco and dance with a modern production. While, "White Street" sees Kristin exploring new lyrical territory; "It’s my most narrative song ever: I am, line by line, describing last New Year’s Eve – at least up until a certain point when it becomes more speculative," she says. "In the first verse I mention that walking to the subway takes 'the length of four Eno songs,' and my favorite bit is that I later list them in the outro."

Elsewhere, "Face 2 Face" sets a Rumi concept to heavy percussion. Kristin's personal highlight, "(Don't) Wannabe," loops Enya-esque vocals and features her first reverse guitar solo. "I think it's the best song I've ever written," she says, laughing. "It's honest. It makes me sad to listen to it." The record revealed itself to be about love in its many different forms. "For a moment I thought to kick back against it, but it's such a substantial part of my life, whether gained or lost, romantic or familial, regarding friendships or that weird passing-in-a-revolving-door thing – all the potentials that you just don’t know anything about."

Arguably the biggest shift beyond the music is that, as Kristin Kontrol, she tells her stories using a sonic palette splashed with bold pop melodies, her vocals showcasing a range hitherto unexplored. The songs that emerge from Kristin's universe are familiar but unique. You can hear the touchstones of new wave, R&B, synthpop, krautrock, postpunk, and even reggae, but X-Communicate uses genre rather than adheres to it, with a distinct nod to the present.

The visual aesthetic has morphed, too: Dee Dee in her inky ebony garb is gone, and in her place stands a newly minted, assured figure - but one that’s playful, too. "It turned out to be timely, unfortunately, that I've been fantasizing about this sort of Thin White Duchess concept for a while. Maybe Bowie is my patron saint. He’s certainly always led the charge to evolve."

“I feel free. I had to excommunicate myself to be able to explore. Even if I have to rebuild my whole career, I’d rather work tirelessly then feel stagnant. I feel excited again, and you can’t put a price on that.”
DJ Nite Jewel
DJ Nite Jewel
Two songs into her new record, Nite Jewel asks the operative question: was that a sign? The Los Angeles native has spent much of the past four years mulling that over. Her 2012 album, One Second of Love, captivated listeners for its willingness to play in the fringes of pop; elements of dance and electronic music were warped and bent into something that was equal parts foreign and instinctual. It served as the culmination of an aesthetic that the singer, born Ramona Gonzalez, had been cultivating since the last Bush years, and it was inescapable if you frequented the right crevices of California. But when it came time to follow it up, Gonzalez realized the world was pointing her in a new direction.

This story has been told before. Nite Jewel churned out demos for years, with her record label questioning whether she could go “pop” or not. The influence proved toxic. She realized she needed to separate from them; she had worked independently with success in the past and could do it again. She needed to remind herself why she was making music in the first place. And by the top of last year, she made that happen.

Last January, the pieces started falling into place. “I put all my gear—including my 8 track—in a walk-in closet,” Gonzalez says. “ I was free from the authority of a label and was back in my element. I felt like I had found my identity again.” She was independent, free from authority, and able to regain creative control.

The end result is Liquid Cool, a fascinating collection of nine songs produced and performed entirely by Nite Jewel. The record explores the theme of aloneness in a crowded and disconnected world. On “Over the Weekend,” Gonzalez aims for a kind of skeletal, kinetic intrigue that unspools into an of-the-moment rallying cry; “Boo Hoo” provides a danceable groove underscoring a tearful refrain; “Kiss the Screen” sounds like the best date you had in high school if it had taken place on Mars. “I felt like I was trying to talk to my audience, but couldn’t be heard,” she says. “There were barriers like money and bureaucracy.” Liquid Cool examines that lack of connection, and does so in intoxicating fashion.

Liquid Cool is due out June 10th via Gloriette Records, Nite Jewel’s own imprint on which she released her debut. Free from the constraints of corporate backing, the new album is poised to cut through the din of 2016 and move listeners in incisive and deeply personal ways. Music is usually an act of world building, creating a new plane on which an artist can exist; Liquid Cool is about stripping away the pieces of our own lives until we can really see one another again.
Jerome LOL (DJ)
Venue Information:
428 S Hewitt Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90013