Corita is Going to SXSW!

Contrary to popular belief, this is not Corita's press photo

So there’s this little film/media/technology/music festival in Austin, Texas every spring called South by Southwest, or SXSW, or just “South by.”  You’ve probably heard of it. I generally hate things that cause a lot of media hype and draw a lot of crowds, but I decided that for once in my life I’d like to join half of Brooklyn in heading down to Austin for South by and it looks like this is the year!

#SXSW @CoritaNYC set preview

SXSW Setlist sneak preview

I’m really excited because I’m speaking on a panel about crowdfunding for musicians on the morning of Wednesday the 14th with awesome folks from RocketHub, CD Baby, Zero Management and Ariel Publicity. I hope you can join me if you’ll be doing the conference thing! I’d also like to invite you to very casual, “unofficial” artists networking breakfast I’m organizing at Cherrywood Coffeehouse on Thursday the 15th from 10 to 12 noon. Let me know if you want to drop by and have a breakfast taco with me!

Big bowl of @CoritaNYC buttons!

Bowl of Corita buttons!

My band Corita will also be joining the fray and will play an unofficial showcase at Waterloo Cycles on Saturday the 17th. We’ll be playing around 2pm, the show is free and there will be free beer too! Playing SXSW will be our first time playing outside of New York City! As we thought about how we would present ourselves to our audience in Austin we quickly realized we had nothing to represent us as a band: no press photos, no physical copies of our EP Memento Mori, no badges, no flyers, no business cards, not even a bio describing the band that we had all agreed on!

Corita CDs and buttons! Cover art by @wunderfemme

Corita CDs with artwork by Eve Badia, aka Wunderfemme

About a month ago we got down to work. We took press photos as a secret location with Stefano Giovannini (I can’t wait to post them when he’s done working on them), and scheduled two Sunday afternoon “Merch Atelier” sessions. We enlisted the help of our very supportive friends and spent two Sunday afternoons drinking mimosas, eating Peter Pan doughnuts, and cranking out badges, CDs, writing our bio, and getting ourselves set up on all the social networking sites we could handle.

Photoshoot aftermath (glitter/confetti explosion)

Photo shoot glitterbomb aftermath - real photos coming soon

Thanks to our efforts we not only have beautiful CDs and badges to give away, but you can hear Corita on Soundcloud, Reverbnation, and follow us on Twitter! You can also “like” us on Facebook, but we already had that, in addition to our bandcamp, myspace and last.fm pages, at least.

Crafting artwork for Corita badges

Crafting Corita badge artwork. 10 points if you can find the reference to the art of the "real" Corita Kent.

What was so fantastic about the merch atelier sessions, besides the camaraderie and the awesome Corita swag they produced, is that it really helped us think differently about ourselves as a band. We all have “day jobs,” and that fact isn’t going to change. We are in the band because we love playing music and being creative as a group. However, previously, we were really blasé about it. We didn’t make an effort for people to remember our names or build a fan base beyond our friends. However, in talking together and getting excited about sharing our music with new friends in Austin we realized we have collective goals for our band and we can work towards them and have the ability to make them happen.

Corita badge #2 in process

Making another Corita badge

This year Corita will stop playing schlocky New York clubs and focus on playing more art spaces and DIY venues that attract more of the type of people we connect with and feel at home with; we will play out-of-town shows in Philadelphia, Boston and Portland, ME and other northeastern cities where we have like-minded friends in bands; and we will put more of an effort into representing ourselves as a band and taking pride in who we are and what we make. I also decided that I need to stop treating the band as something that will inevitably loose money and ask that we get paid for shows. It doesn’t have to be much, enough to cover the car service to get our equipment there, but if bands don’t start standing up for themselves no one else will.

So, will we see you in Austin? If you’ve been to SXSW before, any tips you want to share with a first timer? And if you come to our show (or my panel discussion) I’d love to give you a Corita badge and CD! Also, if you have a band and want to play a show with us – let me know. We’d love to do a “show swap” between our two cities!

@CoritaNYC badges by @byglam

Corita's merch atelier was international - Stephanie Byglam contributed some typography to us!

And for good measure, here is Corita’s official bio:

Brooklyn-based Corita delivers the shimmery guitars of UK shoegaze, the jangly melodies of C86, creeping angular post-punk rhythms, and overdriven choruses that hark back to 1990s indie rock overlaid with three-girl vocal harmonies. On the 2011 EP Memento Mori, Corita explores the hazards of late capitalism, cinematic European daydreams, animal friends, and human enemies. Named for the visual artist, and former nun, Sister Corita Kent, the band has been an active participant in Brooklyn’s vibrant independent rock scene for the past three years. The songs are a vision shared by four experienced musicians. Guitarist and vocalist Marisha Chinsky found her sound as the leader of the cult-favorite indie-pop group The Consultants, while drummer Nick Cearlock honed his skills in the Pacific Northwest punk scene of the 1990s. Bassist and vocalist Aileen Brophy delivers an encyclopedic knowledge of post-punk sounds, and guitarist and vocalist Eleanor Whitney brings a love of angular melodies and syncopated rhythms from her training as a jazz musician. As a band Corita is the shared vision of four close friends who imagine music as a conduit to a more fulfilling everyday reality.

Video for Corita’s Song “Remember That You Will Die”

When I asked my dear friend Leila Bourgougnoux if she would be interested in making a video for my band Corita I didn’t honestly believe she would say yes. Making a video is a lot of work, after all, and it’s not like Corita can pay our artist friends the big bucks. But she did say yes and I sent her a bunch of songs to choose from. She chose our shoegazy take on metal and Buddhist philosophy “Remember That You Will Die” and, after getting kicked out of filming in a Parisian laundromat, shot this beautiful Super 8 footage in the south of France. When the other members of Corita and I saw the results we were absolutely thrilled by how perfectly she interpreted our song. I hope you will be too.

The Rubin Museum of Art also wrote about the video and their song on their Education blog. It was my work on the Rubin exhibition of the same name that inspired the song, so this is a nice full circle!

Corita Rocks the Office

Guitar + Work = Rock

I was so thrilled when Jason, the filmmaker behind the webseries “All New York’s a Venue” approached Corita about featuring us in his project. His videos feature indie bands playing songs in atypical locations, often quite unfit for a musical performance. The best part about the videos, I think, is that they are not music videos per se. They are not overly staged. They are just a live performance in an unconventional location.

My band Corita posed a challenge, however. We can’t play acoustic. I don’t want to sound snobby, but our songs rely on reverb, delay and a little bit of distortion (see, we’re a bit shoegaze). This does not work on an acoustic guitar, so playing on the subway or down by the Gowanus canal (our favorite NYC polluted waterway) was not an option. We needed somewhere to plug in.

Then I came up with an idea. My workplace is incredibly supportive of artists. That’s our business. We also have an airy, light-filled loft in DUMBO. Considering we had a feminist tea party come and set up shop in the office for a week I thought, well, why not a band? The organization was only too happy to agree, as long as we did it on a Saturday when the office was empty and kept the noise to a minimum.

It was really funny, and strange, to load all our gear into my office and play our songs about disenchantment, growing older, and looking at the sky in the middle of the file boxes and computers I see everyday. But that is part of the fun of the project. The incongruous nature of the music and the location. I hope you enjoy watching the results!

All New York’s a Venue #6: Corita – “Act So Fake” from Jason Hood on Vimeo.

All New York’s a Venue #6: Corita – “Clouds” from Jason Hood on Vimeo.

Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club on Venus Zine!

I was really excited to get to speak with Tina Weymouth, the bass player of the Talking Heads and a multi-instrumentalist and singer in the group Tom Tom Club. Tom Tom Club’s song “Word Rappinghood” is one of my all time favorites (yes, I liked that song before Chicks on Speed covered it) and I have loved them since I was lucky enough to score their records in used bins. Lucky for us all they are reissuing a live record they made several years ago that only had a very limited availability. I got to speak with Tina Weymouth about Tom Tom Club’s 30 years and what has changed and what has stayed the same. Check out the full story on Venus Zine here.

Corin Tucker Band @ the Bowery Ballroom

I went to see Corin Tucker’s band at the Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday night. I really had to prod myself to go there after Economics class, but like most things you make yourself do, I was glad I went. The atmosphere was surprisingly mellow- nothing like the super charged feeling of a Sleater-Kinney show. Aussie singer-song writer Darren Hanlon was a great opener and told stories of traveling through middle America and begin offered “vegetarian” scrambled eggs with only a “little bit of bacon” in them. While the opening bands were cool, everyone was clearly waiting for Corin. She arrived on stage looking ravishing in a shimmering silver vintage dress and, of course, cheers broke out.

Corin Tucker

Corin in her beautiful dress

The set itself featured songs from her new record “1,000 years,” which I wrote about for Venuszine. Her opener, “Thrift Store Coats,” a rumination on the recession, felt especially chilling live, and the air felt charged, expectant and unexpectedly low-key. The band slowly picked up the tempo and and delivered pure rock perfection. However, the band and the audience both seem wiser from age. A common commentary I heard (and felt) was “I am going to be late for work tomorrow,” accompanied by a yawn. This is not to say the show was not perfectly engaging. It was simply more intimate, mature, and understanding of life’s limitations and triumphs, both large and small.

Corin Tucker

It was a real treat to hear Corin's distinctive voice again

A nice surprise was the band’s cover of the Au Pair’s “It’s Obvious,” with the hard hitting chorus, “You’re equal, but different!” taking on new significance with the greater wisdom that (just a little bit of) age brings. Another treat of the set was drummer Sara Lund’s (of Unwound fame) work. She did double duty, playing with openers Hungry Ghost, and then changing into a cocktail dress for her appearance with Corin’s band. As anyone who listens to Unwound knows, she is the kind of precise, melodic, but absolutely rhythmic drummer that is very rare in rock music.

Sara Lund

Sara Lund, a little buried behind the drums and other percussion

Want more photos? Check out my flickr stream.

Profile of Corin Tucker’s New Band on Venus Zine

If you were like me and grew up in the 1990’s and loved punk rock and feminism, you loved Sleater-Kinney. It’s no longer the 90’s (though with all the plaid coming back this season and all the reissues of classic grunge records you might wonder) and I’m no longer a teenager, but I still love Sleater-Kinney, punk rock, and feminism. I still have not yet found a band as compelling as  Sleater-Kinney  (though Electrelane filled the gap after Sleater-Kinney disbanded in 2006, but then they broke up too!). I liked S-K long enough to get over my initial teenaged rock star worship and went from buying a ticket to a show in Boston I was too young to go to and hoping for the best to being impressed with their guitar chops on their last record The Woods. They were just a really solid band. Every album brought an innovative approach to their sound. Their live shows were breathtaking and the members were well spoken and stylish to boot. All this to say that despite my ambivalence about music lately I was very excited to hear that Corin Tucker has a new project (and with Sara Lund from Unwound on drums no less!) and jumped at the chance to interview her and write a profile for Venuszine. Her new record, 1,000 Years, is solid as ever and as always, she is always thinking deeply about what’s going on in society and her personal life and working that into her songwriting.  Please check out the full profile on Venuszine here.

Frankie Rose and the Outs Profile on Venus Zine

I think that Ms. Frankie Rose is one of the coolest women in Brooklyn right now. She plays drums and guitar, she writes songs, she’s committed to her professional life and her music, and she lives a grown up yet still punk rock way of life. I got to interview her about her band’s new (self-titled) album and wrote a profile for Venus Zine, which you can read about here.