Corita on Film

Sometimes you have to travel far away to meet someone who lives next door. That was certainly the case when my band Corita went to Austin this spring to play (unofficial) shows during the South by South West music festival. We were lucky enough to play with bands from all over the country, including bands from Brooklyn! We met Jim Campbell when he was playing in Moonmen on the Moon, Man and he gave us a 7″ of his band Paper Fleet.  While we were playing Jim shot this great footage of Corita playing our song “Degrees of Freedom”  on Super 8. Fastforward a few months and he managed to splice together audio recording he made and the film and voila! Corita’s very own home movie! Enjoy our punk rock parking lot performance.

We also just played a show last night with Paper Fleet at Don Pedro’s in Williamsburg. It’s such a treat to play with bands that you respect and enjoy. In addition, Don Pedro’s is much improved as a venue since the last time I went there a few years ago. They have a menu featuring delicious homemade burgers and there’s even a vintage store, Mystery Train Vintage, in the basement (!). So last night not only did Jim make another great video of Corita (this time on a digital camera and of our song “Remember That You Will Die”), but I also scored a Guess denim dress and a vintage braided leather belt – a whole new show outfit for $26. Punk rock!

I also want to point out that in this show outfit I am wearing my new, beloved t-shirt from Gal’s Rock boutique in Paris. It’s a whole store devoted to the music and fashion of women who make rock music! I will write more about it when I finally get around to posting my photos from my France trip, but suffice it to say that the t-shirt contains the names of all my favorite bands from the US and the UK in the 1990s. Yes, please!

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SXSW Music Discoveries

Torches

Torches in Trees perform at Waterloo Cycles

Can you believe I’m still talking about SXSW? It was nary a month ago and I still find myself with so much to say about those magical few days in Austin. I saw shows in parking lots and fields, bars and backyards and it all flowed together into a party that I didn’t want to end.  There were so many fantastic bands and musicians at the event (in fact, over 6,000 of them by one estimate, counting official and unofficial shows, though I’ve also hear over 2,000… anyway, a lot!), but the best thing about South by for me was  not running around trying to see the latest hype darlings, but stumbling upon bands that took me by surprise. In New York I rarely have the time to seek out new music, so shows that I do catch are carefully planned. It was nice to be in a place where the music came to me by virtue of being in the right place at the right time.

Torches!

Torches in Trees!

Torches in Trees are my big South by discovery. A three-piece psychedelic band from Los Angeles made up of three dedicated kids who drove from LA to Austin straight (that’s about 24 hours, maybe more). Their music shimmers, shines and pulled me in, making me dream of California nights, even though I watched them perform in a dusty Texas parking lot.  

River City Tanlines Fronted by the talented Alicja Trout, River City Tanlines is dirty, garagy American rock’n’roll from Memphis that goes straight for the jugular. Alicja and bassist Terrence each had three amps, if that gives you any idea.

Dead Ships @GayBiGayGay

Dead Ships performing at Gay Bi Gay Gay

Dead Ships are a two-piece garage rock band from LA that tore up the stage at the Gay Bi Gay Gay festival on the last day of South by with a lot of swagger and a little jangle. It takes more than you think to rock a field of queers in the middle of the afternoon after days of partying, but the Dead Ships pulled it off.

Break It Up are a Philly trio of two ladies and a nice guy with great post-punk guitar melodies and jagged crunch, as well as catch bass lines and punchy, blended vocals.

James Arthur’s Manhunt was one of a slew of boozy, crazy garage rock bands we saw on Saturday night at Trailer Space records. Guitars were flung, 7″ records were tossed like frisbees, amps and drums were broken, pedals were stomped on, everyone had a great time, and somehow, no one called the cops.

Bands Only, Queen!

Sign at Gay Bi Gay Gay

Christeene is not a band, per se, but Austin’s premiere drag performer, complete with bearish backup dancers in panda masks. Everyone I talked to, both Austinite and visitor, asked me, “Have you seen Christeene?” and thankfully, on my last day in Austin at Gay Bi Gay Gay I did.  Aggressive beats, limit pushing choreography and lewd lyrics that get lodged in your brain. Seeing Christeen perform really made my weekend. I am dreaming of a Christeene meets Cheryl performance someday. That would make all of my party/performance art dreams come true.

There’s more photos of bands, and Austin during SXSW in general, in a set on Flickr.

Corita at SXSW!

Corita rock guitar moves at SXSW

I am still in a bit of a time warp and there’s so much to stay about my first time at South by Southwest (or SXSW). The days passed like blurs and I tried to absorb as much as I could of the frenetic atmosphere around me. I’ve garnered enough material for several blog posts, but first and foremost I wanted to share these photos taken by A.’s friend JC of Corita’s shows. It was our first time playing out of New York State (in fact our first time playing outside of Manhattan or Brooklyn), our first time playing out of doors, and my first time playing with sunglasses (it’s bright when you play outside in the afternoon). South by was magical because people who did not know us, who actually cared about seeing music, saw and liked our band and told us so. Does that ever happen in New York? Rarely. Thank you again to Austin Girls Rock Camp and Waterloo Cycles for hosting us. It was refreshing to play like minded-venues with like-mined bands and we loved being outside with the wind in our hair!

Corita rocks the bike shop

With three singers and two mics you make do

This is my new favorite picture of myself, or at least my rock persona

Corita pulled out the stops and busted out the rock (moves)

There’s a set on Flickr and more blog entries about all my reflections and musical discoveries coming soon.

Corita's Waterloo Cycles Setlist (with typo)

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.

Texas is the Reason

I love Houston!

Texas has its own mythology. Its own place in the American imagination. Depending on who you ask Texas is the reason for the United State’s current political mess, or the greatest place in the US, or somewhere in between. It is a universe unto itself, a huge and diverse place, full of long drives and very pretty countryside. I was lucky enough to spend a few days there in mid-September and take in some of the cities and sites. And of course, the Tex-Mex food.

The Orange Show

The Orange Show, Houston, TX

When I first got to Houston I felt overwhelmed by the highways, humidity and strangely quiet downtown. I hid in a Starbucks and tapped away on my computer. Thankfully, the next day some native Houstonians helped me get hip to the more alternative and arty side of Houston. One of the huge highlights is the Orange Show, a folk art environment created by a postal worker named Jeff McKissack that was began in 1956 and completed in 1979. I loved the Orange Show’s immersive space and the passionate group of people behind the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art that are working to preserve it and other “folk” or “self-taught” art environments and traditions in Houston.

Ladies Only

Ladies only in this part of the Orange Show

Purity

Purity of the orange is celebrated at the Orange Show

I also soaked up some more “traditional” art at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston where I soaked up a room sized mural of mountains and flowers that looked like a traditional Chinese ink painting, but was made out of gunpowder by Cai Guo Qiang. I also discovered the self-portrait by Suzanne Valadon and spent several minutes in front of it contemplating her sheer determination to paint and make a life for herself as a woman artist.  In their gift shop I picked up two Frenchie books – My Little Paris (en anglais because I am a cheater) and Ines de la Fressange’s guide to Parisian style.  I visited the Menil Collection, including their hotly contested Bzyantine fresco chapel which is being returned to Cyprus next year, and some smaller art spaces like the awesome Spacetaker artists resource center and gallery.

I love this self-portrait of Suzanne Valadon

I love the sheer determination shown in this self-portrait by Suzanne Valadon at the MFA Houston

A little bit of Paris (France) in Texas!

In the MFA Houston gift shop I found a treasure trove of books about Paris!

Artist commissioned cross walk

The sidewalks outside of the MFA Houston are painted in collaboration with a local artist

I also fortunately got away from the corporate style restaurants downtown and found one of my favorite things about Texas: spacious coffee shops with nice breakfast menus and outdoor seating. These places are so inviting, like you just want to hang out all day eating and sipping fair trade coffee. I enjoyed both Brasil and Empire Cafe (which are quite close to one another and the Menil Collection) as well as the super El Real, which has great Tex-Mex and is in an old movie theater!

El Real Neon

Neon at El Real!

Old Western at El Real

Westerns at El Real

After Houston I took a quick, few hour stop in San Antonio, and then rolled on to Austin. After some frenetic days of work on the road I took a little bit of time to unwind with my friend Jennifer. We took a drive about an hour outside of Austin to Krause Springs. Located in the rolling hill country it almost feels like a folk art environment as well, with rock pools, wind chimes and a spring fed lagoon. While Krause Springs felt like an oasis, Texas is going through one of its worst droughts on record and we drove through the remnants of a fire on the way there, charred trees with ashy leaves making the landscape look otherworldly.

Enjoying the spring fed pool

Krause Springs, in Spicewood, Texas

I couldn’t skip eating Tex-Mex in Austin either, of course, and Austin is home to even more fantastic cafes with outdoor seating and of course, coffee shops that serve the delicious (and huge!) breakfast tacos.

IMG_4866

Tex-Mex, Austin style!

But of course, after all that Tex-Mex I took a little break and Jennifer, her friend Jennifer and I had a lovely girlie dinner at a perfectly French brasserie called Justine’s with lovely food and delicious cocktails (also check out the “amazing” section of their website).

Justine's Brasserie

Cheers!

Toast to Texas friends at Justine's

The Saturday Night Crowd at Justine's

The Saturday night scene at Justine's

Austin photo shoot

Photo shoot outside of Arthouse TX

I also managed a visit to the Austin Film Society, Arthouse Texas and Domy Books, where we saw a wonderful opening, I connected with an old zinester friend, and purchased a book called I ♥ Macarons. Indeed, it seems like I found a lot of France and a lot of art and a few friends in Texas, even though I didn’t visit Paris (Texas).

Detail of the Art Show at Domy Books

Detail of an exhibition at Domy Books, Austin