Stateside Presents

THE BLOW / EMA

Psyko Steve & Stateside Present:

THE BLOW / EMA

KARIMA WALKER

Wed, November 1, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The Rebel Lounge

Phoenix, AZ

$16-$16

This event is all ages

THE BLOW
THE BLOW
The Blow is an electronic pop duo comprised of Khaela Maricich and Melissa Dyne. The Blow has taken various incarnations over the years: initially begun as a solo project by Maricich, the band was joined for a couple of albums by Jona Bechtolt of YACHT, after which it morphed into its current shape as the collaborative power convergence of Maricich and Dyne. In live performances, Maricich and Dyne work from opposite ends of the room, hugging the audience in between them, with Khaela on the main stage and Melissa on a separate stage at the back of the room. Onlookers stand in the direct path between the performers, encircled and perforated by the call and response of soundwaves, lightbeams and invisible communications between Maricich and Dyne. The shows on the upcoming tour are an open laboratory for experimentation using the elements that each artist has been honing over the years. The artistic styles and strengths of each member of The Blow reflects the different ways in which each one dreams at night. Dyne works with the physics of sound and light: in sleep she dreams of being a beam of light bouncing off of a ferrari. She has worked predominantly as an installation and sound artist, and from her post in the back she manipulates electronic instruments, shooting waves of frequency and light like a wizard hidden by the fireworks. Maricich dreams are filled with imaginary words and odd scenarios: during performances she plays with melody and narrative and gesture, bouncing herself off of whatever materials are thrown in her direction by Melissa, by an audience, from the ether. Together they produced a new album, titled The Blow, released on October 1, 2013. The album exists as a physical manifestation of the odyssey of experimentation on which The Blow has embarked, a mass of cells ready to divide and explode into new forms, to mutate with the local populations, to see what else could happen.
EMA
EMA
Introducing herself as a solo artist with the epically rocking seven-minute single “The Grey Ship” (http://souterraintransmissions.com/files/EMA%20-%20The%20Grey%20Ship.mp3) – backed by “Kind Heart,” her slowly rambunctious and flailing sixteen minute take on Robert Johnson’s classic “Kind Hearted Woman” – EMA invites you deeper into her world with her debut album, Past Life Martyred Saints due on May 10, 2011.

Fans of guitar noise will already know EMA from her time as the scorching guitarist in legendary folk/noise outfit Amps For Christ. She went on to form the genre-defying cult duo Gowns with Ezra Buchla, which was called “one of the most heart-stoppingly great live bands on planet Earth” by Pitchfork and about which, upon seeing their captivating, volatile live show, the Village Voice spluttered succinctly: “Holy fucking fuck.” Gowns’ 2007 debut album Red State was an electronic folk and feedback-drenched masterpiece that left critics both raving and bewildered. It sadly proved to be their last. The upside is that Gowns’ musical crossroads led to the unveiling of EMA, who has since opened for Throbbing Gristle on their last US tour. Did we also mention she relocated to LA when she was just 18, because she really liked ‘Welcome to the Jungle’?

A native of South Dakota – the sparsely inhabited north end of America’s heartland (her blog is called ‘came outta nowhere’) – EMA has a unique and at times dervish-like guitar style, a skill for visceral songwriting, and a DIY recording ethos that has seen her develop a distinctive sonic signature. Her songs are somewhat neurotically assembled and essentially raw, the product of obsession by somebody who never learned the ‘right’ way to do things. Besides making music, EMA has been involved in video, performance and curating multimedia shows in West Oakland and LA.

If there is a grand unifying theory behind Past Life Martyred Saints, it’s that EMA treats fidelity and distortion like another instrument, being obsessed with the question of analogue vs. digital. Songs switch seamlessly between lo-fi 4-track grunge, gloriously trashy dance beats and damaged girl group ballads, like all the car radio hits of the past fifty years absorbed and sweated out through pores of distortion, feedback and reverence.

Not being able to technically write music but looking for a way to represent the Glenn Branca-inspired “Kind Heart,” EMA drew the song out like map, creating a graphic score she likened to a musical equivalent of the ‘Hobo Code.’ Her work on redefining classic American folk music has led to a currently underway collaboration with the Kronos Quartet.
Album opener “The Grey Ship” is a nod to the Viking funeral ships of EMA’s ancestors, and while pop logic dictates the tune is divided into two parts – one sunny and strummy and the other low-lit and dramatic – the recording also switches up from lo-fi to hi-fi. Just listen for the BASS DROP. The song also features appearances from Buchla and Corey Fogel of Gowns.

As EMA explains, “I wanted ‘The Grey Ship’ to change fidelity in the middle of the song. I imagined it being like when Dorothy opens the door to Oz and the whole world turns from black and white to Technicolor.” That change in fidelity also serves as a coruscating “sonic signifier” for transferring from the earthly plane to one beyond.

In “California,” we find a fuzzed-up, piano ode to EMA’s adoptive home.

“Musically, the track is inspired by ‘My Life’ by The Game,” she says. “It’s a noised-out rap ballad by a Midwestern white girl with lyrical references to Bo Diddley and Stephen Foster.”

“Marked” ups the intensity of the album, as EMA explores a complicated relationship over an eerie guitar strum and keyboard drone, intoning raspily, “I wish that every time he touched me / Left a mark.” It is the captured sound of climbing walls.

“Some wounds don’t leave marks, and they would be almost easier to explain if they did,” EMA says. “I heard a story once about Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, where they got in a huge fight out at a club, and one of them got so mad that they went and jumped in the river. Police were called, and once they were finally rescued they joined up and walked back into the club, arm in arm.”

Inspired by a “teen goth murder” that happened outside of LA, “Butterfly Knife” draws on EMA’s own experiences growing up and has a squalling, rhythmic guitar texture underpinning multiple EMA vocals scrabbling for air in the mix.

Both “Breakfast,” with its impeccable refrain “you feel just like a breeze to me,” and album closer “Red Star” are more fully fleshed out band tracks, featuring EMA’s sister Nikki Anderson on drums and Aaron Davis (who also records solo as ACRE) on bass. On these tracks, we can hear how EMA’s vocal melodies really soar in tandem with her distinctive guitar style, and, when alongside the militaristic, drum-riddled “trashy sex romp” of “Milkman,” indicate a depth of influences and studio intuition that would make other producers blush and run for the hills.

With her mix of whisper-to-yell dynamics, intimate and visceral expression, honesty of voice, and studio playfulness, she is a singular talent who completely compels the listener. EMA’s songs are filled with harmonies and hooks that exist right in those sweet spots between melody and dissonance. It is a knowing voice, the sound of a drunken laugh while crying.

Welcome to 2011, EMA-style.
KARIMA WALKER
Karima Walker is a Tucson-based songwriter. On this debut tour, she brings spacious songs with folk roots.
Venue Information:
The Rebel Lounge
2303 E. Indian School Road
Phoenix, AZ, 85016
http://www.therebellounge.com/