Interview with Sound Artist, Alex Braidwood

Interview with Sound Artist, Alex Braidwood

Alex Braidwood is a sound artist and Assistant Professor in Graphic Design at Iowa State University. His research into sound and interaction has taken him around the Earth for many projects, performances, and installations, all of which have been collected on his Listening Instruments website. He recently travelled to Alpine National Park in Australia where he was artist-in-residence at the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture. While he was there, he collected a series of field recordings which he put to tape for release on Maximum Ames earlier this year. On Saturday, September 17, he will install a listening experience at the Octagon Center for the Arts at noon as part of the Maximum Ames Music Festival. What distinguishes audio as an art form? In a world dominated by the visual image, you’ve chosen something much more intimate and truthful. Why does sound keep you searching? A great deal of the adventure of working with recording sound is the search. Sound is fleeting and can feel very illusive, no matter how much I plan and try to anticipate the results of recording I’m regularly surprised with what comes out. Sound and listening is one of the primary ways in which we as hearing beings engage with the world. We receive a great deal of feedback and information through our ears. Our hearing functions in 360° and is on all the time, even when we are sleeping. This has been very beneficial to us throughout our evolution. A huge part of why I find sound to be engaging as an art form is because it has the power to surround you,...
Downtown Skatepark Fundraiser Show at DMSC, July 16

Downtown Skatepark Fundraiser Show at DMSC, July 16

Skateparks hold a place near to my heart. For me, it started with Rampage Indoor Skatepark (RIP) in Davenport, Iowa. I would get dropped off at the park as a 14-year-old by my parents, where I would be left to grind and air until I could no longer move. As a middle schooler, my good friend, Dan Madesian, started a petition that later lead to a skatepark being built in our hometown of Bettendorf. A few years later, skateparks started popping in surrounding towns like Moline (Illinois), Eldridge, Le Claire, and eventually Davenport. The 32,000 square foot Davenport Skatepark is one of the premiere skateparks of the Midwest, but the installation of this park called into question one thing for Des Moines residents: why does Iowa’s state capital not have a premiere skatepark as well, when every other large city in Iowa had one (Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Iowa City, Mason City, and Ames)? This question is finally being answered, and in the true spirit of skating, many people have been instrumental in furthering the movement. Local skater and musicians, Justin Runge, aims to reinforce the movement and raise some funds by organizing the Des Moines Skatepark Fundraiser Show slated for July 16 at the Des Moines Social Club. Runge took some time out to answer a few questions about the event. Bruce Bales: Justin, thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions about the Des Moines Skatepark Fundraiser show. Firstly, what was the motivating factor for you to put your time and energy into this cause? Justin Runge: I’ve been skateboarding for a long time, almost...
Interview with Leyla McCalla

Interview with Leyla McCalla

When you first hear Leyla McCalla’s voice emerge on her new record it feels like it has come a very, very long distance to get there, miles and miles and decades and decades away. And you’d be right. Leyla McCalla was born in New York to Haitian immigrants and, after training in classical music at Smith College and New York University, she moved to New Orleans to more deeply embrace her roots as a Haitian, as an immigrant, as an American, and as an inheritor of African-American culture. The result is an album that is steeped in 300 years of history and emotion. You hear the determination and resolve of rebels in Saint-Domingue and the German Coast in Louisiana. You hear the pain and loss felt by women who had their children ripped from their arms, never to be seen again. You hear the hopes and fears of migrants standing on a dock trying desperately to make a momentous and irreversible decision. You hear almost the whole sweep of post-colonial history in the Americas, in all it’s monstrosity and grace. On top of all that, her songs are just stunningly arranged. She has combined classical and jazz influences with Haitian and Creole folk traditions in a way that feels both freshly original and prehistorically natural. I had the incredible luck to ask McCalla a few questions about her art before her June 14 show at the Des Moines Social Club. I’m pleased and proud to present her answers below. CE: The long standing misconception that folk and Americana music is primarily a white genre dominated by legends such as...
Interview with Ryan Stier of Extravision

Interview with Ryan Stier of Extravision

Since the band’s inception nearly two years ago, Des Moines’ Extravision has gone on to tour both of the United States coasts, waded in the festival rounds, and completed a Daytrotter session. Anchored by Ryan Stier, the band’s cast has transformed from show to show, allowing opportunity for the audience to witness the way a song can continue to transform after it has been written. Extravision will play a string of shows throughout May in celebration of the band’s new EP, “Nothing Will Remain”, alongside Iowa City’s, Brooks Strause. Thank you for taking some time to discuss the upcoming Extravision happenings with us. Firstly, tell us about the tour you are about to embark on. Very excited for this trip. Iowa legend Brooks Strause and I will embark on a three week tour out to the northeast and back through the Midwest in May. We traveled a similar route in October 2015 – a route we threw together very last minute – but the world showed us a lot of kindness and we couldn’t resist returning to see all the beauty of the northeast and the amazing people we met along the way. Our tour will include a healthy mix of house/living room shows, venues, and DIY spaces. It always amazes me how many people out there are willing to work so hard to find a venue and local musicians or an existing show to hop on, or put together an event in a home and invite friends out. If you’ve lost your faith in humanity because you spend too much time reading politically related articles on Facebook like...
Interview with Land of Blood and Sunshine

Interview with Land of Blood and Sunshine

Land of Blood and Sunshine is a central Iowa based rock band whose genre is hard to label. Sharing elements of punk and indie rock and some of the more tribal corners of world music, their sound can often range from layers of sonic aggression to psychedelic experimentation, much the same way the band name implies. The band has been featured on IPR’s Studio One and has played the stages of Des Moines’ 80/35 Music Festival and Iowa City’s Mission Creek Festival. The band will be releasing their new full-length album, “Lady and the Trance”, will be released February 12 at The Basement. The show begins at 9 PM. Let’s get started with your recent show at the Orpheum Theater Center in Marshalltown. What was that experience like? Do you often play shows in your hometown? What made this particular experience memorable?  Playing in the Orpheum Theater was really quite a surreal experience.  I grew up in Marshalltown so this was the same building I saw Goonies, Stand By Me, and Gremlins, so it was pretty nostalgic for me.  They designed a room specifically for performances called The Black Box.  They have had many interesting acts come through and share their talent but band performances are a new step they are taking.  We are very happy to be a part of this new beginning and hope that it flourishes from here.  We don’t have a lot of venues here in Marshalltown so we’ve had to be creative in finding locations to play.  The Orpheum is a beautiful building lush with history and I couldn’t be more happy to see it...
Skin of Earth at The Fremont, Dec. 19

Skin of Earth at The Fremont, Dec. 19

On Saturday the 19th Skin of Earth will return to The Fremont to release the 5-track self-titled LP recorded in the very room you will listen to them in. The record, put out by none other than Sump Pump Records, promises to be one of the memorable records of the year. The show will be free, so you should bring proper funds to purchase the Skin of Earth LP. You can preview the album by listening to their single “Bin Bin Mary Bin Bin.” Skin of Earth will be joined by Fetal Pig and The Wheelers for what will be a loud, furious, and memorable night of music. I had the chance to correspond with Dan Hutchison, who helped record and mix the Skin of Earth LP, about the record. ———————————– BRUCE BALES: What was the process of recording and mixing the Skin of Earth album live inside a room like The Fremont? DAN HUTCHISON: We came in on Sunday, April 19th 2015, the band set up like a live show and Eric Kennedy and I got everything mic’d up, ran it into some preamps & into a mixing board. We used a real nice ribbon microphone of Eric’s to capture the room sound. After about two hours of dialing it in on the mixing board we ran that into 2 tracks of my cassette 4 track recorder hard panned left and right and pressed record. Skin of Earth really had everything well rehearsed and ready to go. Once everything was set up, we recorded the entire LP and the 11-minute bonus track in three hours. We only took two...