Nika Roza Danilova is burdened by the unknowable. That's why she became a musician. "I needed music as a way to process my own sort of larger questions that I feel like I just can't possibly answer," says the 25-year-old vocalist known by names she borrowed from a French philosopher and the son of God.
Zola Jesus' newest album, Taiga, debuted earlier this month. It's a collection of meditations on those larger questions--"Man versus nature, man's position in nature, and the synthesized world versus the natural world"--informed, Danilova says, by the philosphy of Norwegian metaphysician Peter Wessel Zapffe. (He's a famous antinatalist--someone who believes, essentially, the human race should be extinguished.)
See also: Zola Jesus Conquers The GuggenheimMore »
Don't let his hipster's raiment of tight shirts, skinny jeans, and New Wave ties fool you. Perhaps a crown and cape might be more appropriate. But not in the Village, where Richard Barone makes his home. Still, he's worthy of such regal trappings. Because, even as he's speed-rapping, he's getting an email from a Beach Boy, mentioning the single he produced for Liza Minnelli, discussing his teaching gig at NYU, reminding you he's on the Board of Advisers at Anthology Film Archives, and planning an album of "lost" songs from downtown, by everybody from Buddy Holly to Fred Neil. Mostly, though, he's ruminating about his newest project, the upcoming A Circle of Songs. Yes, Bill de Blasio is the mayor of New York. But musically, at least, Barone is the King. Even if you haven't heard of him.
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Homeboy Sandman has been the most visible face of New York underground hip-hop for seven years. What started as a balancing act between pursuing the music he loves and going for his law degree has given way to his becoming the galvanizing focal point of a scene, signing to revered indie rap label Stones Throw and developing into a national touring entity (most recently joining Brother Ali for 40 dates across North America). For Sandman, whose music's melodic charisma works in tandem with an arsenal of avant-garde vocal delivery styles to appeal to casual and discerning hip-hop fans alike, the journey to the New York record-release show for his new album, Hallways, at Glasslands on Thursday, October 16, was as experimental as the music itself.
Photo by Lauren Jaslow Homeboy Sandman
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There's confetti embedded in the stage at Death By Audio, the latest off-the-books venue and nightclub in Williamsburg to announce its closure, set for November 22. It's the last gasp of the "Do-It-Yourself" wave that helped bring much attention to the neighborhood's music and scene in the last 10 or 15 years. The confetti ground into the stage, by the feet of thousands of bands, is from a 2008 Monotonix and Dark Meat show that also featured garbage on fire.
Photo by Travis Rix Hunters at Death By Audio
Victor Calderone is looking forward to the October 4 debut of his residency at the newly opened Space Ibiza NY as a long-delayed homecoming. Sure, Calderone, one of the city's true superstar DJs, has enjoyed residencies at nearly every big-room club in town. And he has been fielding other offers. But this time, it clicked.
"I've been waiting for something that felt right," he says from Portsmouth, England, where he was putting the finishing touches on a long-awaited follow-up to 2007's mercilessly beat-driven Evolve. "Whenever I heard someone has opened a new venue, I checked it out. But I have to feel the moment I walk in. Space was that venue."
Fellow Bensonhurst native Rob Toma, the club's talent manager, hopes that booking the one DJ most closely associated with a hard-as-nails sound will send a definite signal to clubgoers. "We program for adults," he says. "EDM is more pop. It's for college kids. We don't want to be a young venue.
"Victor is a staple in New York," he adds. "He needs a proper home."More »
Five years ago, I boarded a plane from JFK to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on the instruction that at some point between takeoff and landing the hip-hop artist MF Doom would text me from a secret cell-phone number and give me directions about how to meet him for an interview. The texts arrived in the form of a series of cryptic comments that played out as a treasure hunt across downtown Atlanta. They eventually led to a bar he'd turned into a super-villain's lair. (The password for the doorman: "Villain.") After a three-hour interview punctuated with pints of black-and-tans and whiskey shots, Doom rounded up his cronies (clad in stocking masks) and engineered an exit from the premises. At that point, the regular staff returned and acted as if Doom had never even been there.
Photo by Klaus Thymann Cornered: Doom and Bishop Nehru
That's just how it is with Doom. He's the self-styled super-villain of hip-hop whose scant public appearances always see him wearing a metal mask over his face. He revels in a role as the genre's ultimate recluse, and at one point became infamous for sending impostors to perform for him at shows (while he presumably sat home and counted up the cash, as dastardly masterminds are wont to do).More »
Lady Casa is perhaps the country's most famous raver, and something like a cult leader to her tens of thousands of fans. When the Miami native makes a pilgrimage to L.A. and hosts an event on Venice Beach the day after seeing DJ Armin van Buuren, it quickly turns into a mob scene.
Photo by Dahn Le Lady Casa
Not far from the guy who walks on glass and an Italian tour group, hundreds of ravers wait for hours in a snaking line to get Lady Casa's autograph, hear her wisdom and, most importantly, hug her. The event is billed as her 26th birthday party, as well as a benefit for local animal shelters.
"I'm so nervous right now!" says an awkward twentysomething when he finally reaches the front. "You're awesome," she responds, writing a personalized note for him on a decal. She ends it, "Namaste, Lady Casa."
Lithe and pretty, with long, golden, Barbie-style hair, the woman born Michelle Casares wears a flower crown, scarf, leggings, and sunglasses shaped like hearts, all of it a mishmash of bright colors.
At raves she might wear go-go boots, pasties, bracelets, a thong, and a giant Native American headdress. Her signature logo, which she has applied to stickers and T-shirts, is a silhouette of this look. Some of her followers have it tattooed on them.
She does yoga. She protests Monsanto. She snuggles with ravers in "cuddle puddles." She preaches the raver's gospel of PLUR — peace, love, unity, respect. She says things about herself in the third person that probably sound cool if you're high.
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Last night, art students and hip New Yorkers convened at a gallery on Bowery, The Hole, for the opening of Future Feminism, an exhibit of 13 feminist tenets set forth by a collective of five artists: Antony, voice of chamber pop group Antony and the Johnsons, dance-based performer Johanna Constantine, Kembra Pfahler of shock rock group the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, and hip-hop/electro/folk artists Sierra and Bianca Casady of CocoRosie. The exhibit and performances and talks set to take place in the space through September 27th are the beginning of the future, what these five women have taken from feminists past, and where we as a "species" need to move forward.
All photos by Melanie Bonajo
"Future Feminism is definitely a new movement," said photography student Mike Bailey, attending the event. "It's a whole new wave of feminism."
After the first time Perl Wolfe and Dalia Shusterman met up to play music, it was really a no-brainer that the two would be a band. The two -- both rock musicians eager to work on a project geared toward women -- clicked instantly, forming their group, Bulletproof Stockings, in 2011. Their connection, though, extends much further than the music they play. Although it may sound like an unlikely scenario, both founders of the emerging Brooklyn-based band are also members of the Hasidic community within Crown Heights. The songs on their first EP, Down to the Top, might remind you of a more rock-oriented Fiona Apple or Regina Spektor. Every so often, though, their piano-driven tunes integrate traditional Hasidic melodies, a new element for their rapidly expanding secular audience.
Last month, like many other up-and-coming bands before them, Bulletproof Stockings played a gig at Arlene's Grocery on the Lower East Side. Their set had everything you'd expect to find at a rock show -- hands swayed in the air and folks jumped around wildly to the band's anthemic choruses. There was, though, one other distinct feature of the crowd: The audience was composed exclusively of women.
See also: NYC's Top 10 Rising Female-Fronted BandsMore »