In our globalized, algorithm-ruled, data-based society, where the lines between public and private are blurred beyond recognition—where the hive mind masquerades as marketable individualism and Big Brother is welcomed with open arms in the name of convenience— some alarming questions present themselves. What is human connection? How easily are webought and sold? Is there any way to cut through all the noise? Is it too late? Do we even care? And how does music—real music—fit into it all?These are the ideas that motivated Warbly Jets’ new EP, Propaganda—which has the LosAngeles trio examining the idea of life-commodified, with a genre-wrecking sample-based set of rock songs that highlight their studio dexterity as well as their disinterest in doing whatanyone expects of them. Just like their self-titled debut, released in 2017, Propaganda pullsno punches, articulately and acidicly riffing on the seedy state of things, over an arena-ready, anthemic sound and massive beats.“ ‘Propaganda’ is a term as much as it’s a cultural ethos that’s been widely accepted. Anything from advertisement to self-aggrandizement qualifies,” explains multi-instrumentalist Julien O’neill. “From social media, push notifications, targeted ads—we’ve openly elected to carry around miniature billboards, playing our part under the promising guise of a sense of ‘connection.’ We feel empty without it.”After a non-stop year spent on the road opening for Liam Gallagher, The Dandy Warhols, Mystery Lights, and Night Beats—as well as headlining international tours of their own in China and the UK—Propagandaserved as a welcome return to Ultrasound Studios, the band’s home-base in downtown Los Angeles, and a chance to use their newfound experience, stamina, and perspective to take things to the next level. “We were getting burnt out and really wanted to shake up our writing process, so we’ve been working much more with samplers and keyboards,” adds frontman Samuel Shea. And while Propagandadoes provide a distinct shift in the band’s sound, the juiced-up, souped-up prowling attitude they do so well remains right at the core.And while early praise fromFlaunt, Brooklyn Vegan,Indie Shuffle,LA Record, and Rolling Stone France, as well as a swift climb up the Spotify charts, plays on Sirius XMU and Beats1 would look a lot like validation to most bands, Warbly Jets are already back in the studio and gearing up for their 2019 North American Tour.
COLLAPSING SCENERY IS THE MEETING OF TWO FERTILE AND FEBRILE MINDS, DON DE VORE AND REGGIE DEBRIS. TOGETHER THEY STRADDLE THE GAP BETWEEN MUSIC, ART, FILM AND POLITICS, SEAMLESSLY MOVING BETWEEN EACH WITH THE SAME EASE AT WHICH THEY TRAVERSE THE GLOBE, SOAKING UP EXPERIENCES AND IMMERSING THEMSELVES IN DIFFERENT CULTURES.
Out of this came Collapsing Scenery, the musical wing of their collaboration. Don De Vore is a mainstay of some of the US’s most exciting and important contemporary bands, having played in Ink & Dagger, The Icarus Line, Amazing Baby, Giant Drag, and Lilys. He is also curator of the Queens arts space Trans Pecos. Joining him on vocals is debuting vocalist and lyrical collaborator Reggie Debris, a veritable human riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. The pair exist to challenge and subvert perceptions in the worlds of outsider art and political protest. And have a great time while doing it.
A more recent 2016 artistic residency in New York saw Collapsing Scenery create a psychedelic immersive art installation that incorporated projections, layers of colourful plexi-glass, a reading from Genesis P-Orridge and a performances from De Vore and Debris (meanwhile in a clash of the old and new the gallery upstairs hosted a Picasso exhibition). While some bands claim to be exponents of the DIY ethic, Collapsing Scenery are entirely self-sufficient, sonic buccaneers sailing the seas with piratical intent.
Collapsing Scenery offer a new vision for how a modern band can be. They’re not even a band – they’re curators of a series of planet-planning events, expressions, exhibitions, albums, installations, journeys, adventures and parties, all operating outside of the confines of the tired traditional industry. “We both like to experience things first hand,” says Debris. “How can you truly comment on, say, the Israel- Palestine conflict unless you go out and talk to people there?”
We like to go to new places and put boots on the ground so to speak. “Travel makes the word smaller and is essential to expanding the creative mind,” adds De Vore. Collapsing Scenery are artistic explorers pushing into bold new futures, then. Join them.
BLACKPAW is the synth drenched, post-punk, crooning solo project from LA native Adrian Rodriguez, born in the wake of a motorcycle accident that left Rodriguez bedridden and unable to do much more than write, play guitar, and take existential inventory. The recovery process spurred Rodriguez to channel his creative energy into a new project that would take him from a supporting mainstay in the local scene to a sound all his own. The result of that rebirth is Blackpaw, a collaboration with longtime friend and co/producer George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow.