Category Archives: Interviews

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 244 – A Conversation With Anika Pyle

No one can really tell you how it feels. How you will be affected. Grief is immeasurable. Singer-songwriter and spoken word artist, Anika Pyle has bravely produced an album reflecting on the passing of her father. Although she admits it was cathartic, she explains recalling her albeit brief moments with her dad are ever-changing, as her memory plays tricks with reality. Yet, when Anika shares this description of her dad, you know it’s real, “He had long hair. He always had long hair, except for a couple of times when he had to go to court. He was a handsome man”. That is the voice of a daughter, a woman grappling with the loss of a parent.  In Wild River, Anika’s most recent LP she tries to make sense of her father’s sudden death to an overdose. “It’s about loss in general.” She writes,  adding, “We’ve all lost so much this past year – loved ones, jobs, houses, in many ways life as we knew it. By the time the pandemic hit, I was already deep into a grieving process and learned you can’t stubbornly resist a wild, unpredictable, uncontrollable river, no matter how desperately you battle the current.” The honesty of Anika’s words and music caught our attention. A Zoom conversation was arranged, Anika dressed in black, looked photo-shoot-ready as she spoke earnestly into the camera. Her thoughtful responses to questions were bolstered by her natural ability to smile and laugh. Listen carefully, we believe you’ll agree, Anika Pyle is a talent who deserves your attention.  

LEM Vol 244

Not Just Another Book About #$%@&. An Untold American Story. Plus New Music

             

When the PR people from Penguin invited us to talk about a new book, I Alone Can Fix It – Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year our first reaction was, Oh no! Not another book about him. After five years, haven’t we exhausted the conversation? Then, the authors of A Very Stable Genius, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker were included. That was more than enough information to confirm this was a book we had to talk about. The acclaimed  Washington Post reporters pull back the curtain on the handling of Covid-19, the re-election bid, and its chaotic and violent aftermath. This is the true story of what took place in Donald Trump’s White House during a disastrous 2020. What was really going on around the president, as the government failed to contain the coronavirus and over half a million Americans perished? Who was influencing Trump after he refused to concede an election he had clearly lost and spread lies about election fraud? Carol Leonnig reveals to Norman B a dysfunctional and bumbling presidency’s inner workings in unprecedented, stunning detail. 

Between 1840 and 1910, hundreds of thousands of men and women traveled deep into the underdeveloped American West, lured by the prospect of adventure and opportunity. Alongside this rapid expansion of the United States, a second, overlapping social shift was taking place: Survival in a settler society busy building itself from scratch required two equally hardworking partners, compelling women to compromise Eastern sensibilities and take on some of the same responsibilities as their husbands. At a time when women had very few legal or economic – much less political – rights, these women soon proved they were just as essential as men to westward expansion. Their efforts to attain equality by acting as men’s equals paid off, and well before the Nineteenth Amendment, they became the first American women to vote. In New Women in the Old West, Winifred Gallagher brings to life the riveting history of the little-known women – the White, Black, and Asian settlers, and the Native Americans and Hispanics they displaced – who played monumental roles in one of America’s most transformative periods. Drawing on an extraordinary collection of research, Gallagher weaves together the striking legacy of the persistent individuals who not only created homes on weather-wracked prairies and built communities in muddy mining camps, but also played a vital, unrecognized role in the women’s rights movement and forever redefined the “American woman”.

Also in the show, new and very different music. UK-based, composer, producer, and late-night broadcaster, Hannah Peel’s latest album, Fir Wave is a wonderful assembly of ambient, experimental, and electronic music. Realistically, slotting Ms. Peel’s work into specific genres misses the point. Patterned Formation being a perfect example. This is music to indulge in. Harry Stafford and Marco Butcher have never met in person. The peculiar circumstances of Covid brought the two musicians together via the magic of the wireless (internet). Harry of Inca Babies fame and punk-blues veteran Marco teamed up and have produced a wonderful selection of cuts for the LP, Bone Architecture. The unintentionally timely, There’s Someone Tryin’ To Get In shows how these to gents have merged their respective talents to full effect.

Show 434

Chris Connelly. An Ongoing Conversation Part 1

The problem with chatting with Chris Connelly is he’s just so damn easy to talk to. You don’t want the conversation to end. Better still, Chris shares memories and insights in such an intimate and jocular manner it’s hard to remember we have not yet met in person. Despite probably being in the same venue at one time or another, Chris Connelly and I have only conversed via Zoom. My first encounter with Connelly was to talk about his latest recording adventure, The Birthday Poems an absorbing album created to celebrate the centenary of Orkney-born poet, George Mackay Brown. For this enterprise, Chris collaborated with the incomparable, Scottish chanteuse, Monica Queen. It became immediately apparent that a dialogue with Mr. Connelly could easily go off in as many directions as we could handle. We agreed right then and there we had to schedule more conversations. And, so it came to be, here then, is Part 1 of my ongoing series of conversations with Chris Connelly. His bio reads like a who’s who of alternative music collaborations. In Part 1 Chris talks about his earliest days in music, his fascination with Bowie, discovering tape-loops, forming  Finitribe in his native Edinburgh, being rejected from major labels, meeting Al Jourgensen, and his many musical projects including MinistryThe Revolting Cocks, and Pigface. This is essential listening for anyone interested in alternative music and/or great conversations.

LEM 243

Tales Retold From A Remarkable Culture

 

They are rich, extraordinary tales from ancient Inuit culture that tell of remarkable northern vistas, unfamiliar narratives, strange gods, and unforgettable characters where women can marry dogs, birds beat their wings so hard they create a storm, an old woman turns into a man, and a woman kills her daughter to take her place for a man’s affections and wears her daughter’s skin as a disguise. Poet, Richard Price has respectfully, (lovingly perhaps) taken three Inuit stories and retold them with a sensitive, yet earnest approach in his new book, The Owner Of The Sea. The London-based Price, also the lyricist and vocalist for The Loss Adjusters has embarked on what he considers a formidable endeavor by interpreting venerated tales from a remarkable culture. Richard is proud of his work, the time, and the effort he has spent in creating this book, but he admits to being apprehensive of the Inuit people’s response. “I hope I get their approval and know I’m in awe of their stories”, he says. During our conversation with Richard Price, he reads from his book, this is a treat. His original Scottish rouge comes to the fore in full effect. He brings the characters to life, they become believable, even though they engage in mystical and un-human-like behavior. These are strange stories, originally told as lessons or guidance, not unlike the more obvious religious books. Richard explains his love of poetry was inspired by music, “Sam Cooke and Bob Dylan” he announces spiritedly. The Owner Of The Sea is a perfect example of the man’s love of words, of language, of the enchanting stories of the Inuit people. 

Show 433

Life Elsewhere Music. Vol 242 – A Conversation With Keeley Part 2 – The Music

 

If I recounted to you my last 48 hours you wouldn’t believe me. But, here are a few highlights: chatted with a young upcoming baseball star, was searched and vetted by the secret service, introduced to royalty, interviewed a legendary alternative musician, reviewed a stack of new releases, and produced Life Elsewhere Music. Vol 242. 

Motrick are based in Portland, Oregon, yet they have a passion for what they refer to as “Krautrock”. With influences from Can to Kraftwerk this four-piece demonstrates their skills on their LP, Moon: The Cosmic Electrics of Motrik. They lead off the show with Silver Twin in fine style. Constructing your album around the death of your father could in theory, be too intimate for many listeners. With Wild River, Phillidelphia-based, Anika Pyle bares her emotions and in turn, has made a haunting, yet reassuring record. She writes, “Wild River is a quiet collection of song and poetry making sense of the sudden death of my father in October of 2019 and of loss in general”. Adding, “This is about learning to let go and move forward from grief steadfastly with love, despite the essentially cruel and random nature of the universe”. I have chosen two cuts to illustrate Anika’s concept, Haiku For Everything You Loved And Missed, and Mexican Restaurant Where I Last Saw My Father. The music of Ellis has been on my repeat playlist for a few weeks now, so I wanted you to hear more from this talented singer-songwriter out of Hamilton, Ontario. Her album is, Nothing Is Sacred Anymore. What If Love Isn’t Enough proves you need to take notice of Ellis. Gaze is Ghost was originally the pseudonym of classically trained Irish composer and singer-songwriter Laura McGarrigle, two years ago she was joined by drummer Casey Miller a veteran of the Scottish Music and Art scene, and Keith Mannion (from the electronic band, Slow Place Like Home). The UK-based band’s LP titled, Lapis Cobalt Indigo Blue, is full of exquisitely produced music with In Parenthesis as a guide to learning more about Gaze is Ghost. From Melbourne comes Deep Fried Dub a dub-wise duo who combines live instrumentation with electronic beats. From the album, Refried 111 you’ll hear the infectious, Back To My Roots (Deep Fried Dub’s Refried Remix) by Isaac Chambers ft. Dub Princess. An essential addition to your new playlist. 

In Part 2 of A Conversation With Keeley the Dublin-based artist talks in-depth about her musical influences, her favorite guitar, making music, performing live, and her sincere ambition to be the world’s greatest guitar player. Keeley’s unabashed honesty is compelling listening. Make sure you check out Part 1 where she explains the inspiration for her Brave Warrior EP

Playlist

  1. Motrik – Silver Twin
  2. Anika Pyle – Haiku For Everything You Loved And Missed
  3. Anika Pyle – Mexican Restaurant Where I Last Saw My Father
  4. Ellis – What If Love Isn’t Enough
  5. Gaze Is Ghost – In Parenthesis
  6. Isaac Chambers ft. Dub Princess – Back To My Roots (Deep Fried Dub’s Refried Remix)
  7.  Keeley – You Never made It That Far

Artwork by Eugene Parker “Tears are made with love” 2015 24″ x 27″ digitally manipulated jpeg. Laserjet print on laminated board. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

LEM Vol 242

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