SIFF Face the Music: Interview with Give Me Future Director, Austin Peters

Give Me Future

Here’s a piece of Capitol Hill Block Party trivia for you: Diplo is the only artist on the bill this weekend who has performed for 500,000 people at one time. At a free show in Havana, Cuba, in 2016, the first by an American artist since the US and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations in 2015, Diplo’s dance hall-EDM trio, Major Lazer, played to a crowd of nearly half a million. The crowd, hoisting Cuban flags and home-made posters, stretched back for miles. Kids danced and barricades rattled.

Director Austin Peters, whose work you may know from the music video for CHVRCHES‘ “Empty Threat,” was there to document the whole thing. The resulting film, Give Me Future, is just as much a celebration of global DIY youth culture as a colorful snapshot of this historic event. (Read our review of the film on the KEXP Blog here.)

Leading up to Diplo’s CHBP-headlining set on Sunday, we bring you an exclusive interview with Peters, who visited Seattle for Give Me Future‘s premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival earlier this year, about the monumental show in Havana, the on-the-fly approach that shaped the film, and a chance encounter with a Cuban skateboarder.

Major Lazer at Outside Lands, 2016 // photo by Victoria Holt (view set)

A lot of your work, and this film, in particular, focuses on youth subcultures. Were you a part of any scene growing up?

I never played sports and I never did anything like that, so I always really identified with music. When I was in high school,  my identity was about wanting to make music. I’m not really a musician, but I just thought being in a band was like the coolest thing in the world. Then, when I was in college, I started DJing. I sort of paid my way through school DJing at bars in New York City. I was never anything like Diplo. I just really liked the music. After I graduated, I kept doing it. I would DJ bars in New York at night and then, the next day, I would go shoot corporate videos for hospitals.

Was your experience DJing what made you excited to take on this project?

It was a lot of things. I’d been listening to Diplo’s music for forever. I was in high school when Arular [M.I.A.‘s studio debut, which Diplo helped produce] came out. That was just the coolest shit. I’d known Major Lazer for forever so I was excited to work with them. I’d also always dreamed of going to Cuba and I’d always wanted to make a movie. So when someone said, “Hey, do you want to make this movie?” I said yes, of course. It all happened very quickly. I was like, “We’re going to make this movie in Cuba. It’s going to be with a bunch of kids. I don’t know who any of them are, but it’s going to be fine.” Then, we go down there and it’s like: “Oh shit. I’ve got to find these kids and figure out who is going to be in this movie.”

Use of the internet in Cuba is extremely limited. Since you didn’t have the typical, modern-day means to do research before arriving in Cuba, how did the casting process work?

It was a Cuban-American co-production, so we had all these Cuban producers, PA’s, and camera operators. I was very clear with them about what kind of movie I wanted to make and they all helped connect us with people, who would, in turn, recommend other people to talk to. It was just a really intense process because we were researching, shooting, writing and casting all simultaneously. We would meet someone, do an hour-long interview with them, and leave knowing that that person wouldn’t fit in the movie.

Sounds like chance played a big part in the process. Can you tell me about one of the most interesting ways that you met a person who ended up in the movie?

There was one girl who I really wanted to talk to, but we couldn’t find. I had seen a picture of her in like a Miami newspaper in an article about skaters in Cuba. I was like “Where is this girl? We should go find this girl.” We emailed the people who wrote the article and our story producer, who is a Cuban, reached out to some of her friends, but we weren’t really getting any strong leads. And then, one night, we went out to dinner and she just skated by!

Although the film was produced in partnership with MTV and you’re working with this massive act, Major Lazer, who have one of the like most streamed songs of all time, in many ways, it sounds like making the movie was a very DIY process.

The medium is sort of the message. We made this film the same way Major Lazer put on the concert. They sourced everything locally, worked with people there to figure out how to put it together, and performed in a non-traditional concert venue. And that’s how all the kids are doing everything now. It’s like [Cuban electronic artist I.A.] says in the movie: “DIY is not an aesthetic choice; It’s a necessity.”

I think one of the things the film does well is create a parallel between Diplo’s early days–bootlegging CDs out of the back of his car, buying kegs, and putting on his own shows–and the young people in Cuba, who are figuring out how to master their own songs and promoting their music globally without the internet. They’re just totally doing it themselves.

I’m glad you mentioned that because I’d like to clarify that I would never equate what Diplo does with what the kids in Cuba are doing. Cuba, and the environment the young people have grown up in is a singular experience. Diplo was DIY because that’s what made sense to him. There was a long history of that sort of thing. All these kids in Cuba who are DIY, who are running their own magazines and running their own festivals, they’re DIY because they have to be. That was the most inspirational thing about being there. Just this sense of a will to create in a place where the cards are so seemingly stacked against you. We really tried to make that a theme of our film.

What do you think it was about Major Lazer that allowed this concert to happen?

Major Lazer really wanted to be the first people there and Fabien [Pisani] was the man on the ground. He’s a famous Cuban musician and he has connections with the Cuban government. Those things those two forces came together at the exact right moment. Who wouldn’t want to do it? If you’re an artist of a certain level and you have the means, you’d be performing for the biggest crowd of your career.

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Friday Music News

photo by Ben Mobley (view set)

  • Grizzly Bear will be releasing their new album Painted Ruins next month. Last night, they shared their fourth single, “Neighbors,” and soon after a video for the single was launched. “Neighbors” follows “Three Rings,” “Mourning Sound,” and “Four Cypresses.” The strange video features two people who disguise themselves in various forms of camouflage, eventually becoming a unique sort of family. Painted Ruins will be released August 18 and Grizzly Bear will be in Seattle on Friday, December 8 at the Moore Theatre. [ Under the Radar ]
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Music That Matters: Public Service Podcast

Check out some of the KEXP DJ’s favorite artists from the Pacific Northwest and around the world on-the-go. KEXP’s Music That Matters weekly podcast brings you an exclusive mix of new music from the world’s best independent artists.

Beach Fossils at KEXP in 2017 // photo by Renata Steiner

Currently you’ll hear:

Music That Matters, Vol. 574 – Public Service Podcast

A public service podcast featuring Public Service Broadcasting, the highs of Hobosexual, the lows of Lo Tom and so much more. It’s Morgan playing the role of Cheryl Waters on this episode of the Music that Matters Podcast. ROLLING!

1. Cigarettes After Sex – K.
2. Drab Majesty – Cold Souls
3. Charms – Kill Data
4. SassyBlack – I’ll Wait For You
5. Public Service Broadcasting – Progress
6. Beach Fossils – Tangerine
7. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Anymore
8. Lo Tom – Covered Wagon
9. Mogwai – Party In The Dark
10. AJ Davila – Beautiful
11. Hobosexual – Monolith

Listen here: (MP3)

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You can subscribe to all of our podcasts here.

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Midnight In A Perfect World: DJ Goo Goo

Photo by Valerie Calano

Photo by Valerie Calano

DJ Goo Goo is the alias of Travis Ritter, a Seattle-based record collector, DJ, writer, graphic designer, and the founder/curator behind Aesthetic Mess, a monthly showcase that happens every second Wednesday at Timbre Room, featuring local post-punk and electronic live acts and guest DJs. Ever since moving to the Pacific Northwest from Houston, Texas in 2003, Goo Goo has been a welcoming staple in the local music community through his undying passion for cutting-edge music, a love that follows him into his eclectic all-vinyl DJ sets, where he proudly carries on the traditional spirit and art of DJing through the simple power of a pair of turntables, a mixer, and a deep record collection. His exclusive guest DJ mix for Midnight in a Perfect World finds him unearthing gems from his crates and unleashing a refreshing set of vibrant, off-kilter, and experimental underground cuts, from today and decades past, that span post-punk, synth-wave, techno, house, nocturnal pop, and much more.

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10 Local Bands to Check Out at Capitol Hill Block Party

Charms | photo by Brady Harvey

Every year that Capitol Hill Block Party returns, I can’t wait to be uncomfortable with a bunch of sweaty people in the red-lit basement that is Cha Cha Lounge. That’s not sarcasm. This year’s lineup boasts some incredible headliners like Run The Jewels, Angel Olsen, Thundercat, Wolf Parade, and more. But this year’s local lineup, in my opinion, is just as strong. Cha Cha has become the punk rock basement oasis (a very sticky and cramped oasis, mind you) for local bands — quite literally making them “underground” — but PNW acts show up on all the stages, from the outdoor stages to Neumos and Barboza. There’s too much good stuff to seek out in the entire lineup, local and non-local, but we suggest making some time in your schedule to catch these acts.

Charms (Sunday, 7:45 pm at Cha Cha)


For a long time, noise-rock act Charms functioned almost solely as live act with little-to-no recorded material for fans to indulge in. They just recently released their debut LP, Human Error, but the fact that they were able to build such a devote following solely off of their live shows is a testament to how spectacular their performances are. With the help of projectionist Kevin Blanquies, their feverish songs turn into fever dreams. To use a tired cliche, it really must be seen to be understood. Read More »

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Local Artist Spotlight: Haunted Horses

Haunted Horses

Every week, KEXP features a new local artist with an interview and suggested tracks for where to start. This week, we’re featuring Seattle industrial punks Haunted Horses, who play Capitol Hill Block Party this Friday evening.

Leaning into their name, Haunted Horses are back from the dead. The duo played their final show last year, but it wouldn’t take long before they made their return. No complaints here — since they first emerged on the scene in 2009, they’ve played some of the sweatiest, thrilling shows in the city and became a crucial fixture in Seattle’s DIY scene. Not only will they be returning to Capitol Hill Block Party this week, they also just dropped a new EP called “COME”. The five-track release ushers in a new era for the band, expanding their sound and giving a fresh start for the spooky ponies. We caught up with drummer Myke Pelly about the band’s return, their new EP, and the importance of DIY spaces.

In May 2016, you played your final show at Chop Suey. Then this February you announced you were coming back as a “new band, similar sound, same name.” Could you shed some light on what led to the break-up and the reboot? Did the time away from working on different projects (HINTS and T) help inform your new direction?

It actually had a lot to do with that final show, haha. Colin and I hadn’t played together in a while, so it was really cool getting a chance to shred again. I was focusing on HINTS at the time, but the idea of starting a new project together was super exciting. It turned out no matter what we wrote, it all ended up sounding like HH — so we just decided to keep the name, haha. Read More »

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Song of the Day: Thunderpussy – Velvet Noose

photo by Sunny Martini

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Velvet Noose” by Seattle rock outfit Thunderpussy from the 2017 single “Velvet Noose/No Heaven” on Hockeytalker Records.

Thunderpussy – Velvet Noose (MP3)

When you’re playing air guitar or fronting an imaginary band in the mirror, what music do you hear in your head? Probably something big and loud, something they get the crowd going crazy. That’s what Seattle rockers Thunderpussy sound like. And it’s what their shows feel like. They may not be playing arenas yet, but they’ve got the sound and charisma to be hyping up the masses at Key Arena any day now. In fact, their beastly licks caught the attention of someone who knows a thing or two about playing arenas: Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. McCready’s formed a friendship with the band, supporting them as they march toward Valhalla. He’s such a fan, in fact, that he joined the band on their latest single, “Velvet Noose.”

The song finds the band at their most formidable. After a few quiet chiming guitar chords, a monstrous riff buzzes into view. The bass drum starts to thud and the bass guitar rolls, raising the tension before it all drops out except for a lone rhythmic riff. Finally, lead vocalist Molly Sides comes in. Her melody reflects a similar arc to the beginning of the track – starting off smooth and steady before erupting into a violent howl. The chorus may be one of the band’s most realized moments yet, ready to be chanted from the nosebleeds with double devil horns flailing in the air. McCready’s solo feels like something he might’ve fired up in the Ten days; short and sweet, but packing a major wallop. He comes back in again, leaning into the wah pedal and churning out a flurry of sizzling notes.

Thunderpussy will next be playing in Seattle on August 18th for KEXP’s Concerts at the Mural alongside The Courtneys and a surprise guest. To stay in tune on the latest happenings with the band, check out their website and follow them on Facebook. In the meantime, revisit their in-studio below.

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Forecastle Fest, Day Two: LCD Soundsystem, JD McPherson, Sturgill Simpson, Beach Slang, Lucy Dacus, Vince Staples

Forecastle Music Festival, fun in the sun // all photos by Morgen Schuler (view all)

Written by Morgen and Amie Schuler

Day two of Forecastle Music Fest started the same way day one did: hot. That didn’t stop me from getting there as early as I could to start capturing the fantastic musicians they had scheduled. Lucy Dacus kicked it off with her sweet voice and low-key performance. That’s not saying she didn’t bring it, she just helped all of us deal with that first fest day hangover (from exhaustion of course) and serenaded a smile onto our faces. While newer to the scene than some of the other musicians on Saturday’s bill, she still drew a decent sized crowd. Looking forward to seeing her more around town (as a matter of fact, you can catch her at Capitol Hill Block Party this weekend!).

JD McPherson

JD McPherson pulled out a decent cluster of people from the crowd huddled under the overpass hiding in the shade. His early set made it tough, but he is a sight to behold. Smiling through the performance, he’s got that infectious type of excitement that you could feel running through you after even one song. It’s that early-era rock and roll that gets us moving our feet every time.

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Review Revue: Red Wedding – Up and Down the Aisle

Red Wedding

Red Wedding (and my selection of this album for this particular week may or may not be related to the start of the new season of Game of Thrones) was a pretty obscure band even by Review Revue standards. It sounds like they had quite the reputation as a live band around L.A., but they only released a couple EPs before moving on to other things. Michael Ely and Spider Taylor, the couple at the core of the band, went on to release music as a duo under a few different names, the last of which was simply Michael and Spider. Sadly, Spider passed away a couple of years ago.

Up and Down the Aisle is available to stream in its entirety, which I highly recommend – as well as delving into the band’s full story on Michael and Spider’s web site , which provides much more detail and grit than any old Wikipedia entry.

“2.2 says fuck very clearly . . .”

“Solid new wave rock with good guitar work – try ‘Sleeping on the Airplane.'”

“Good, well put together.”

“I like!! Side one is solid.”

“‘Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (sic)’ . . . now that’s a red wedding!”

“‘All Dressed up’ has ‘fuck’ 3 times quite audibly – questionable. [arrow pointing to first comment] Whoops, I guess someone already noticed.”

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Afternoon Show Tribute to Chris Cornell from Matt Cameron

photo by Jim Bennett

As part of KEXP’s remembrance of Chris Cornell on what would have been his 53rd birthday, The Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole will broadcast an alternate final setlist at 4:00 PM (PST), which was graciously provided to KEXP by Soundgarden/Pearl Jam drummer and local music fixture Matt Cameron. Below, Cameron writes in a brief e-mail exchange with Kevin Cole about the setlist:

Matt Cameron: Hi Kevin. I wanted to share the last setlist I wrote for Soundgarden on that fateful night in Detroit, May 17, 2017. Chris and I were trading off writing sets for our last tour. Back in the day Chris wrote all sets, but since 2010, I was writing more than I ever had and enjoying it tremendously. Whenever I completed a set, I sent it to Chris first for approval. For the Detroit show, Chris decided to write the set and that’s what we ended up playing that night. To commemorate his birthday, I was hoping KEXP could play my setlist. Peace to you my friend and thank you for years of support. I share this with you, our favorite hometown station.

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