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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Interview with MarKaus, Founder of the FreshenUP Sessions

MarKaus is Des Moines-based hip-hop artist and music label proprietor who has recently started putting on FreshenUP, a new monthly series showcasing local and regional artists involved in the Midwest’s rising hip-hop scene. The next FreshenUP will take place at The Basement at the Des Moines Social Club on December 12 at 9 PM. More information available from the DMSC website.

How did you come up with the idea for the FreshenUP series? What was the genesis of your desire to have a more hip-hop centric event in Des Moines?

The original idea was to start a monthly show built around the releases and artist on my label MediaFresh. After planning, I realized how much of an impact we could make on the city’s hip-hop scene. With that, I decided to include not only other hip hop artists in the town but rising talent from all over the region.

Tell us about who is playing this edition of FreshenUP on December 12. Why did you reach out to the respective artists on the bill?

The theme of this next FreshenUP is “Soul Sessions.” I’ve had the pleasure of working with most of these artists in one way or another and felt that they would hold down the tradition we’ve already set up. For this edition I have Steddy P, head of Kansas City’s Indy Ground crew, who is touring for his recently released album. DM Wright is the DJ for the night, along with The Illest Around B-Boy crew. My goal is to make sure the atmosphere is crisp and fresh.

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Interview with Justin LeDuc of Jack Lion

Jack Lion is an electronic jazz trio from Iowa City. Their take on the genre combines Boards of Canada-esque ambient experimentation with each player’s University of Iowa trained jazz background. In addition to the numerous shows they’ve been playing around the state, the band landed a spot on the Mission Creek Music Festival last Spring and a live session with the world-renown Daytrotter studio in Rock Island, IL.

The trio will be playing the Des Moines Music Coalition’s Music University showcase this Saturday at The Basement joined by local hip-hop act, Markaus, and metal heads, Green Death. The all ages showcase will begin at 9:30 PM.

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Interview with Romulan of AWTHNTKTS

This Saturday, Iowa City hip-hop artist, Romulan will open for Shabazz Palaces at The Mill. In preparation for that show, he answered some questions for us about his experiences in the Bay Area, Iowa, and where he finds his inspiration.

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Matt Dake and Bryon Dudley of Nova Labs

For a place run by a couple of sound scientists, Nova Labs sure knows how to throw a party. At the end of Janurary, the label will be hosting two shows on the 30 and 31 at the Iowa Music Store and DG’s Taphouse in Ames to celebrate the release of a new batch of compact discs. I contacted Nova Labs’ Bryon Dudley and Matt Dake to discuss the past, present, future, etc. of the Nova Labs label. When I interview young music labels, I’m always curious if the label’s creation stemmed more from the creator’s interest in releasing music or from an observed necessity, perhaps representing a trend within a local music scene which has otherwise been glanced over? Matt Dake: It was honestly a bit of both. We definitely saw a slew of bands recording albums and not knowing what to do with them…I’d been running half-assed pseudo record labels since I was in high school, so it was always a dream of mine to put out records by not only myself, but by other people in the community. Bryon Dudley: Matt and I both run studios, and one day we were talking about how we’d hand a band their final master disc, and sometimes they’d say “now what?” And we realized we knew how to do the next steps of releasing a disc, but not everyone does, so I guess we sort of took that for granted. And that very directly led to us wanting to help them out. Matt Dake: The need was definitely there, and we decided to fill it…partially out of frustration for... read more

Upcoming Events

9:00 pm Open Mic Night @ The Gaslamp
Open Mic Night @ The Gaslamp
Sep 21 @ 9:00 pm
Open Mic Night @ The Gaslamp
Hosted by Josh, Jerry & Dylan! Do you play an instrument, sing, do spoken word, perform magic tricks, juggle etc. etc. Well then this is the night for you! Free and open to the public!
4:30 pm Work Release with Bob Pace and t... @ The Gaslamp
Work Release with Bob Pace and t... @ The Gaslamp
Sep 22 @ 4:30 pm
Work Release with Bob Pace and the Dangerous Band @ The Gaslamp
Work Release is when your weekend starts! Come get funky with Bob Pace and The Dangerous Band as they guide you into the weekend! They’ll have you movin, groovin, doin it…ya know! They’ll play thru[...]
5:30 pm Jazz Happy Hour @ The Basement
Jazz Happy Hour @ The Basement
Sep 22 @ 5:30 pm
Jazz Happy Hour @ The Basement
Join the Synergy Jazz Foundation and DMSC for our Friday Happy Hour series, a free jazz concert series featuring a diverse roster of local jazz musicians as well as occasional performances by touring musicians from[...]
7:00 pm Monthly Salsa Night w/ Los Parra... @ Noce
Monthly Salsa Night w/ Los Parra... @ Noce
Sep 22 @ 7:00 pm
Parranderos Latin Combo (PLC) is a Latin music group based in Des Moines, IA.  The group’s self-titled debut album includes 9 original songs written in Iowa and recorded in San Juan, Puerto Rico by Grammy award[...]
9:00 pm Jewel City Sounds Presents: Unde... @ The Basement
Jewel City Sounds Presents: Unde... @ The Basement
Sep 22 @ 9:00 pm
the new style…underground vinyl sound. music. libations. the world. 4th Friday of the month. the basement jewel city sound Free. All Ages. 9:00pm. Facebook Event
7:00 pm Sunday Night Blues Showcase @ The Gaslamp
Sunday Night Blues Showcase @ The Gaslamp
Sep 24 @ 7:00 pm
Sunday Night Blues Showcase @ The Gaslamp
Event Name : Sunday Night Blues Showcase Staring The Bad Boys of The Blues (EVERY SUNDAY). Start Date : 2016-04-03 Start Time : 7pm Event Details : 7pm to 11pm FREE EvenT Content : Sunday[...]
7:30 pm Open Mic @ Iowa Music Store
Open Mic @ Iowa Music Store
Sep 24 @ 7:30 pm
Come and play your songs, read your poetry and share your art. Sign up on the day of open mic.