Local Artist Spotlight: Guayaba

Guayaba

photo by Una Blue

Leading up until the Upstream Music Fest + Summit, KEXP will be featuring a new local artist from the lineup with an interview and suggested tracks for where to start. Today’s post features Bremerton, Wash. rapper Guayaba, performing Thursday, May 11 on the TUF stage.

Every person contains multitudes, but few embrace them as much as Northwest rapper and vocalist Guayaba. As an artist, she’s fronted metal acts, made experimental pop ballads, raps, etc. But this idea extends beyond how she executes her vision. Digging through her lyrics in her latest album, Black Trash/White House, she embraces her race, gender, sexuality, and every facet of herself that makes her who she is with an unshakable, bilingual flow. We chatted with Guayaba to dig deeper into her musical roots and unpack her diverse influences.

For a couple years you were making experimental, vocal music under the moniker Aeon Fux. What inspired the name change and what drew you to hip-hop?

I definitely wanted to make a shift in style, but also just felt like graduating from the project. I like to keep things fresh and exciting for myself and I was really inspired to make music that was a little more danceable than what I was making previously. I also had some censorship issues with the name, and wanted to make things a little easier on myself.

I grew up with pretty eclectic taste, but hip hop has always had a place in my heart. I’ve always written bars and used to freestyle with my friends, but I lacked the confidence to start rapping until I met some of my friends DoNormaal and Raven Matthews who encouraged me. They’re playing at the festival this year as well. The local scene is close knit, so I was quickly able to meet people to work with.

You went to school at Evergreen State College in Olympia, perform in Seattle, and live in Bremerton, Wash. How has living across the Northwest shaped your writing?

I often have people telling me that I don’t have a very “Northwest sound”, which I always find interesting, especially when it comes from people who aren’t from the Northwest. No one ever thinks I’m from here, and I’m not sure if that’s flattering or not. I think being from the area shapes my writing in every way; we are sort of isolated in this little corner that a lot of people don’t pay much attention to, and people either stay here their whole lives or leave as soon as they can. It’s a very polarizing place, even more so now with how expensive it has become to live in the city. It’s dark, and beautiful, and lonely here; I think I grew up a lonely child and spent a lot of time in the woods and I think a lot of kids who grew up here have a particular kind of loneliness in them that is unique to the area. I don’t know if I have a Northwest sound so much as a Northwest feel. I think that the place I live outwardly reflects a lot of the feelings of isolation that I deal with and write about.

A lot of your lyrics have to deal with identity. How do you feel your music helps you exude yourself to others?

My music allows me to express myself in a way that I’m unable to in any other form. I feel like people who know my music know a very intimate part of me, and I feel honored to be able to share that with people. I feel confident expressing some of my truest feelings through music where I might otherwise be afraid to. It can also be a little confining, because I think it’s easy for people to make a lot of assumptions about someone they get to know through the lyrics they write.

You describe yourself as a metalhead on your record. What’s your favorite metal record? Do you feel like your love of metal impacts the music you’re making now?

If I’m honest, questions like this are some of the hardest for me to answer. There are so many different albums that have had a profound impact on me that I still revisit on a regular basis. I usually have to answer within specific guidelines, like within the past five years or a particular subgenre. I’m a huge King Diamond fan and often joke that he’s my dad. I think that Mercyful Fate’s Don’t Break the Oath and King Diamond’s Abigail are contenders for nostalgia’s sake alone. But based around nostalgia’s sake, I could also say Carcass’s Heartwork was my fav. I need to actually ruminate on this question this year. Metal shows are shows I go to most frequently outside of my own/my friends, for sure. Going to metal shows or hearing a really great metal album really inspires me, and it’s one of the few genres that I feel energized by. I think that secretly, my love of metal impacts everything I do. It’s something I think about a lot especially now that my daily wear exists outside of a band t-shirt, black jeans, and a hoodie. I’m not immediately recognized as a metalhead, so I like to make references to it for those who are listening closely enough.

Luna God produced all the beats on your last record, Black Trash/White House. How did you two link up and why did you want to work with him on this record?

I met Caleb (Luna God) for the first time at the same show I met DoNormaal and Raven Matthews at. I’d like to think it will be a day that goes down in history. We talked after our sets about making music together, and after I graduated from Evergreen I moved to the city very briefly. In that time, Caleb sent me some beats, one of which would be “Basura Negra”. I was immediately inspired and started writing for it, and sent it back to him. When I did, he suggested making a batch of beats for me, and what came together was Black Trash/White House. I really liked the music Caleb was making with other artists in the city and his house is really flowing with positive creative energy. The irony is also not lost on me writing an album that in part examines my proximity to whiteness and working with a white producer on this project. But Caleb is someone who is easy to work with and he really let me take the reigns to cultivate the sound I was trying to create.

Do you have any other projects in the works? What’s next for you?

I am working on another EP, though I’m not sure if it will be out this year. It is going to be a bit more vocal driven, and perhaps a little more experimental, definitely more metal inspired. I’ve been working with a local producer by the name of Estoc who samples a lot of metal, she’s definitely making some of my favorite music right now. I’d like to put out a few videos, right now I’m just waiting for a bit of inspiration for this next release.

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Song of the Day: Trementina – Please, Let’s Go Away

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 Morning Show with John Richards, is “Please, Let’s Go Away,” by Trementina, from their 2017 record, 810, out on Burger Records.

Trementina – Please, Let’s Go Away (MP3) Read More »

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KEXP Exclusive Interview: Susan Rogers Remembers Prince

photo courtesy of NPG Records

Besides being the director of the Berklee Music Perception and Cognition Laboratory, and an associate professor at Berklee, Susan Rogers is also the person who worked most closely with the late Prince during quite possibly his most important period artistically. From 1983 to 1988, it was Susan who was on the other side of the glass for Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, Parade, Sign o’ the Times, and The Black Album. Susan was kind enough to talk to KEXP producer, and Minneapolis native, Owen Murphy about her time working with Prince one year after his tragic passing.

Edited by: Lisa Leclair

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Music That Matters: Smile Yourself Happy

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.

Sera Cahoone at KEXP in 2017 // photo by Melissa Wax

Currently you’ll hear:

Music That Matters, Vol. 561 – Smile Yourself Happy

There’s lots to smile about in DJ Kevin Cole’s latest edition of Music that Matters! Stag strut their stuff, Mark Arm infuses The Black Clouds with an ominous howl, Killer Mike and El-P from Run the Jewels Talk To Us, plus loads more!

Tracklist:
1. The Holy – Ramses, The Evil Brother
2. Ride – Charm Assault
3. Dutch Uncles – Big Balloon
4. Meilyr Jones – How To Recognize A Work of Art
5. Real Estate – Darling
6. Journalism – It Just Hits You
7. Beach Fossils – St. Ivy
8. Tuomo & Markus – Over the Rooftops
9. Sera Cahoone – Only One
10. White Reaper – The Stack
11. Stag – The Bedazzler
12. The Black Clouds – Vice (feat. Mark Arm and Jack Endino)
13. Run The Jewels – Talk To Me
14. Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2 – Disco Kid

Listen here: (MP3)

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You can subscribe to all of our podcasts here.

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Record Store Day 2017: Limited Edition Release Spotlight

rsd17_logo

What began as a humble way of getting people to shop mom-and-pop record stores is now an international celebration: it’s Record Store Day, and this Saturday, April 22nd marks its 10th Anniversary. April also happens to be KEXP’s 45th anniversary as a station, and to celebrate both, KEXP DJs will be spinning 45 RPM records throughout the day. In fact, Audioasis will be an ALL-45 RPM show this week.

We’re not just celebrating vinyl on the air, but in our Gathering Space: we’ll have two shows in our Uptown Concerts series with the dreamy Americana of Evening Bell at 9:00 AM and the punk-pop fun of Mommy Long Legs at Noon. Light in the Attic Records will be open for extended hours from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM with a mega-sale, and La Marzocco celebrate their 90th anniversary with espresso-filled fun.

As always, there will be exclusive, limited-edition releases, and the rules are the same: quantities are limited, and not every store will have the same things in stock. KEXP shares a few highlights below of things we’ll be hunting, but you can check out the complete list of new releases here.
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Record Store Day 2017: Live Around Town

rsd17

Record Store Day turns 10 this year, which is a great time to think about all that money you’ve thrown into wax over the last decade. But don’t dwell too long — as always, this year’s Record Store Day lineup features some alluring rarities that’ll be hard to pass up.

This year, Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, is picking up the mantle as Record Store Day ambassador. Clark made announced her role in the music lover’s holiday via a video on Funny Or Die in which she tries to absorb as much culture of “Recorstorda” as possible.

Along with all the rare vinyl, RSD is a great chance to catch some great deals and in-stores around town. Take a look below at what’s planned at some of Seattle’s best record stores.
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KEXP at Trans Musicales: BLOW

photo by Morgan Chosnyk

This week, we continue sharing our discoveries from the Trans Musicales festival in Rennes, France, where last December we captured twelve exclusive sessions. We’re sharing with you one unique session each Friday, and you can watch all the previously released ones here. This week, we present Parisian dance rock combo BLOW:

DJ Morgan says of watching the band during our third day of recording:

The second band of the day were happily added last minute to our lineup of sessions. BLOW are from Paris, a four piece consisting of Quentin Guglielmi (singer), Thomas Clairice (moog/bass), Jean-Etienne Maillard (guitar), and Pierre-Elie Abergel (drums). They played a fun set of dance rock reminiscent of Yeasayer, Jungle, and Passion Pit. Unfortunately, they had to take off after their set so I wasn’t able to chat with them, but the music speaks for itself. They were a great addition.

Watch our live session below with BLOW, recorded in the rotunda of the Rennes Opera House, and be sure to find more about the band on their Facebook page.

Watch more sessions recorded by KEXP at Trans Musicales here.

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Song of the Day: Posse – Kismet

posse

photo by Allyce Andrew

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 “Kismet” by Seattle indie rock outfit Posse, from their recent 7-inch single for Saddle Creek Records.

Posse – Kismet (MP3) Read More »

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KEXP Suggests: Pop Conference 2017 at MoPOP

MoPop-PopCon

If we music lovers crave new ways to listen, then music writers lend us new ears.

Lucky for us, many of the country’s greatest music writers will descend on Seattle Center to share fresh perspectives on familiar tunes during MoPOP’s annual Pop Conference, which runs today, April 20, through Sunday, April 23.

Like its own festival for music geeks, this year’s con boasts some big names. Talking Heads frontman and living legend David Byrne opens MoPOP this afternoon. Representing the old guard of rock criticism, both Robert Christgau, the self-appointed Dean of Rock Critics, and Greil Marcus, author of Mystery Train, one of the best books on rock music ever written (fact), will chat at Pop Con.

This year’s theme, politics, is more relevant than ever (A big, KEXP round of applause to whoever coined this year’s conference title, “Sign O’ The Times: Music and Politics,” a reference to Prince‘s socially conscious 1982 album). Plus, a handful of your favorite musicians, including Damon Krukowski from Galaxie 500 (who also appears tonight at this event in the Gathering Space) and Mike Hadreas from Seattle’s beloved Perfume Genius, will speak at Pop Con.

Put it all together and the organizers of Pop Con may make good on their goal: “to bring academics, critics, musicians, and dedicated fans into a collective conversation.”

Here are five reasons to join in.

David Byrne – Thursday, April 19 – 4:00 p.m. – Sky Church at MoPOP

“Kick off Pop Conference 2017 with Artist Interview: A Conversation with David Byrne… Byrne will discuss his critically acclaimed musical Here Lies Love, which traces the non-violent restoration of democracy in the Philippines in 1986 and follows the meteoric rise and dramatic fall of the controversial First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos.”

The All-Star Charity Single, Reconsidered – Friday, April 21 – 2:00 p.m. – JBL Theater at MoPOP

“This roundtable will consider the politics – and, yes, the art – of this often-derided and under-theorized musical staple. Possible issues of discussion include the place of charity singles in the wider history of protest song and pop music activism; the relationship of the charity singles to gospel, Adult Contemporary, and other traditions; questions of nationalism, colonialism, and a pop musical ‘white man’s burden'; and the shifting role of benefit records in the era of Internet and social media activism. Panel participants promise to check their egos at the door—but not their ids.”

Black Politics in the Reagan Era – Friday, April 21 – 3:45 p.m. – Learning Labs at MoPOP

“In our current political condition, many of us are looking back to the Reagan era, remembering the climate of dissent and rage that made our pleasures political. Presenters on this panel look back at a range of black musical genres and artists, from Prince to punk rock to house, asking just how their work articulated the ‘sign o’ the times,’ and what it meant to ‘party like it’s 1999′ as people died and wars were waged. The papers explore the structures of collectivity in the ways these musics were formed, as well as the kinds of communality these musics and artists galvanized.”

Punk & Disorderly – Friday, April 21 – 5:30 p.m. – JBL Theater at MoPOP

Punk is inexplicably intertwined with politics and this panel knows it. Damon Krukowski of Galaxie 500 moderates a discussion between Jenn Pelly, Associate Editor of Pitchfork, Greil Marcus, aforementioned legendary rock critic, Jon Lengford of The Mekons, one of the longest-running punk bands, and Franz Nicolay, who has worked with Against Me! and the Hold Steady. Expect a wide-ranging discussion, covering everything from Brexit protest songs to DIY counterculture.

Voicing Change: The Artist and the Political Life – Saturday, April 22 – 6:15 p.m. – Sky Church at MoPOP

This year’s Pop Con features a few performances amidst a sea of roundtable discussions, providing enough talk for writers and enough music for fans (not that the two are mutually exclusive, of course). The event starts with a performance from Arctic-born, Polaris Prize-winning performer Tanya Tagaq, which will be closely followed by a conversation between Tagaq, Meredith Graves of MTV News, Ann Powers of NPR Music, and Mike Hadreas of Perfume Genius. With Saturday’s last event, Pop Con offers a rare opportunity to witness diverse musical minds collide.

* All quoted material appears courtesy of MoPOP.

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Thursday Music News

photo by Dave Lichterman (view set)

  • Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi has shared a new solo track — stream the single “Simple Gifts” below, a take on a traditional Shaker song originally written in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett. This modern version will appear on the upcoming soundtrack for the movie The Circle, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, and adapted from a Dave Eggers’ novel of the same name. The film will be scored by Danny Elfman, which is always a good thing. The Circle will be in theaters on April 28th. [ Pitchfork ]


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