Charissa Che

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Chat with Kimbra on finding her “Golden Echo”


Oct 17th 2014

Following the success of Kimbra’s 2011 debut album Vows, the 24-year old Kiwi embarks on a nationwide tour this month to promote her sophomore LP, The Golden Echo.  

I chatted with the singer-songwriter on her new sound, “that Gotye song,” and her spiritual awakening in a sheep farm.


Photo by Thom Kerr

CC: Your new album definitely sounds like a departure from Vows. It feels freer. Why did you decide to make this transition?

K: I think it’s natural, you know? You start moving in a new direction as you get older. I have a lot more life experience, so I wanted the record to feel more explosive and tougher. So it was like a playground; I learned a lot about myself as an artist, a producer, and a vocalist.

I’ve always been very excited by the technical world of music. I learned a lot more about arranging a song; how you balance different elements. It’s always a balancing act for me, having like a hundred sounds going on, but also trying to strip things back to more emotion. 

CC: I heard something about you moving to a sheep farm in LA to pen The Golden Echo?

K: Yeah, there were a bunch of chickens, sheep, baby lambs, sheepdogs to look after them… It was great, just a place to re-center and focus again.

CC: What about that particular environment shaped your new sound?

K: The album has the sentiment of listening deeper into your life – nothing kinesthetic. I wanted it to be a tapestry album that you lived in, and have those echoes come back at you. The farm got me thinking a lot more about creating stillness in my life – and chaos as well.

CC: Speaking of echoes, I read the title of your record, The Golden Echo, came to you during some sort of in-between state where you were about to fall asleep…and when you looked it up you found that it actually referred to someone’s goal. So I’m curious; did you end up finding your “Golden Echo” in the process of all of this?

K: I think it’s like an ongoing journey for me. To me, it’s symbolic of the frequency of the universe and its particular vibration that causes us to engage with the deepest side of ourselves. And that’s the place where we go when I make music, or when I’m on stage.

I feel like sometimes the human experience is kind of like a pendulum between being so caught up in our heads with the analysis of every experience, and the vision in our hearts, and that’s where we find our “Golden Echo.” Slowly, I find myself getting closer to feeling whatever that is the more I let go of fears.

CC: It’s interesting, because when I first listened to the album, the first thing I thought about doing was dancing. Did you think first, “I need to write something that gets people on the dancefloor, then make them think?”

K: It’s more like I just went with emotion. Like, “Miracle” came at the end of this record because it didn’t have a celebration song. It was more about, “Have I covered all the emotions that I want to experience?”

CC: By the way, do you ever get tired of those references to Gotye and “Somebody that I Used to Know?”

K: (laughs) I mean, I totally understand that it’s something people want to discuss because it’s not only about me, but it’s part of pop culture as well. I’m proud that we were able to create something that we certainly didn’t expect. It can be a good thing to push you and make you work hard. I don’t believe in trying to repeat something in the exact same way, you know? And I don’t think that Gotye would want to do that either. It happened, and I’ll always want to push into a new space.

CC: Now that you’re about to embark on your U.S. tour, how do you feel? What’s in store for your audience?

K: I’m super excited to get back on the road. It’s been a really long time. It’s wonderful making records and being in the studio, but there’s something really special about spontaneity. On stage when you play a song, it’s like that one moment that you have with the particular group of people with that particular energy in the room. I’m so ready to just get back in that place of really being in the moment.

Kimbra will be performing at Salt Lake’s In the Venue on Monday, October 27.

Filed under kimbra the golden echo tour Salt Lake Magazine gotye

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Concert review: The New Pornographers, indie rock’s cult followers take over The Depot


Oct 14th 2014

On Oct. 10, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and The New Pornographers were about to serve up a night of ‘80s denim crop tops, Chuck Taylors, and earworm sing-alongs at The Depot. When fans of two of indie rock’s most beloved bands filtered into the venue, it was a motley sight: There were the expected twenty-something hipsters, alongside older attendees who still seemed to be in their office clothes.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is a 5-piece troupe from Brooklyn, NYC, whose bombastic name is derived from an esoteric children’s book from the 1990s. Led by Kip Berman, the openers did well in introducing unfamiliar listeners to their lo-fi, optimistic, bike-ride-through-the-Village sound.

The guys (and gal) showed a deft ability to convert their melodic recordings into full-fledged, thrashable performances. It was hard not to be taken aback by the energetic arc of their set. Things kicked off with flowery new single, “Until the Sun Explodes;” then, by the time they got to the song that put them on the map, “Young Adult Friction,” Berman’s flailing guitar acrobatics were fit for a metal show. Considering the band has experienced several changes in its lineup (three members had left and been replaced since its inception in 2007), it was an impressively unified showcase of tracks from their three albums, including this year’s Days of Abandon.


The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, photo by Charissa Che

“Supergroup” The New Pornographers is back on a headlining tour for the first time since 2010 to promote their LP, Brill Bruisers, likewise released this past summer. The crowd was abuzz, especially given that the band’s West Coast appearance was to feature the rare on-stage reunion of Neko Case, A.C. Newman and Dan Bejar.

Suddenly, the sharply-dressed businessmen flocked to the fore of the stage. Drinks in hand, they and the millennials collectively chanted along to the new album’s title track; “bo-ba-bo-ba-ba-bo…” There’s something about stringing together meaningless sounds and repetitive lines like, “Tonight will be an open mic” that, like a cruel nasal drip, settles into the crevices of listeners’ skulls.


The New Pornographers, photo by Charissa Che

Whether it’s songs about their native Vancouver being drowned in the ocean or “mistakes on the part of nature,” these Canadians know quite a bit about concocting the perfect sing-along number. In fact, the bulk of their set was practically sung verbatim and in unison with the audience.

Their abrupt departure from the stage was of course requisite fake-out, followed by an encore. But it was an indelibly sweet moment for the cultish masses, after the band had disappeared for the second time. The screaming swelled so such an extent that some people plugged their ears. After what felt like an endless five minutes, the band reemerged abashedly, and rocked us one last time with classics, “Sing Me Spanish Techno” and “The Slow Descent into Alcoholism.”

“This is our last song! For real this time!” announced Newman before their 24th song, his shirt drenched in sweat. (Postscript: When the show had finally ended and the stagehands packed things up, one fan noticed that the band had left copies of the setlist on their music stands. What followed was a rabid—but fortunately, nonviolent—swarm to the stage.)

Click here to view more photos from the show.  

Filed under the new pornographers neko case the pains of being pure at heart concert review Salt Lake Magazine

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Art Into Music: Deconstructing a Bygone Age

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BY CHARISSA CHE

(All photo credit: Charissa Che)

If you haven’t stopped by BRIC’s Art Into Music exhibit yet, you’d better do so soon – the buzz-worthy feast for audiophiles and visual artists alike closes on Sunday, April 27.

At a street corner of Fulton Street sits an art house offering everything from weekend house parties, spoken word showcases, and world-class music concerts. Currently, the space’s famous “Stoop” serves as home for the works of 12 of the city’s most prominent mixed media artists.

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In his Hardcore series, Dread Scott documents the Chicago hardcore and punk rock scene in the 1980s with a splay of 20 black-and-white photographs: spiky-haired teenage rebels moshing to noise that is virtually palpable from its wall.

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A particularly delight comes in the form of Ward Shelley’s diagrammatic paintings, which explain our music culture through rationale and tongue-in-cheek fervor. Arto Lindsay Chart rationally (and with) maps out the evolution of the iconic American guitarist, record producer, and experimental composer over time.

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Karlos Carcamos shows off his urban flair with a sampling from his Hard Edge collection, Rock Box. The languid, cherry-colored microphone sculpture complements Looking for the Perfect Beat II, an impressive stacking of 300 vinyls as a tribute to hip-hop’s tradition of “crate-digging.”

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Then there’s the show’s towering achievement – literally. Beholding Bayeté Ross Smith’s Got the Power simultaneously evokes awe and apprehension (Just how did he get 70-plus boomboxes stacked up so neatly?).  The piece began as a Kickstarter project in which community members collaborated on a mixtape which archived personal memories of their neighborhood, resulting in a host of site-specific boombox sculptures. The one currently on display at BRIC is its first large-scale iteration.

To find out more about Art Into Music and its participating artists, visit bricartsmedia.org. Click here to check out more photos.

Filed under BRIC Art into music art music modern art karlos carcamos dread scott ward shelley Bayeté Ross Smith photography