Even An Ant Can Bite: DiS Meets Pussy Riot

In 2012, members of Russian art collective/punk rock band Pussy Riot entered Moscow’s Church of Christ the Savior. They performed a piece called ‘Mother of the Lord, Drive Putin Out’ (the whole event was known as “Punk Prayer”), which addresses manipulation and oppression by the Russian government. Their song did not condemn the Russian Orthodox Church as a religion so much as the way then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin used the church as a tool of the state. (A translation and explication of the

“I’m like a bird building a nest”: DiS Meets The Afghan Whigs

The Afghan Whigs have always had a knack for making the gritty sound glorious. Throughout their career, they’ve made their name proffering a hybrid of soul and grunge, often centered around topics like seedy sex. Or, as is the case with 1996’s Black Love, seedy sex and murder, which they still managed to spin into an anthemic, steamy album. Their albums have also been populated with addiction, suicidality, depression, and the nastiness of the record industry.

Come Walk With Her: M.I.A. Interviewed

When M.I.A. released her fourth album, Matangi, in November 2013, no one was more surprised than the 38 year-old musician (and visual artist) herself. Though she had released the Grammy-nominated single and video 'Bad Girls', still unaccompanied by an album, she had no plans to make an album at all. But she found that her musical odyssey had not yet been fully charted and so released Matangi to positive critical reviews but an overall poor showing in sales.

Girl of the World: Dar Williams

“I thrive in relationships,” singer-songwriter Dar Williams told me. That comes as no surprise to anyone who’s had the pleasure of seeing Williams live. She is such a committed storyteller that her stage banter alone is worth the price of admission, and her warm openness is contagious to the audience. After shows, Williams is known for talking with fans, many of whom she recognizes on sight, and she animatedly discusses anything from their college choices to their writing careers. This same foc

"It’s about the energy, isn’t It?": DiS Meets Tori Amos

“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception,” astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan once wrote. He may have found himself surprised to inspire a Tori Amos song (‘Bang’) and to be one of the many muses that helped Amos write her fifteenth album, Native Invader. Surely the two would have quite a conversation, with Amos giving a primer on survival. For all Amos’ dexterity in excavating pain, she remains invested in resilience.

“All the music I can imagine:” DiS Meets Nils Frahm

Nils Frahm is living his dream. After years of quiet acclaim for his piano music and production skills, Frahm’s profile skyrocketed with the release of Spaces in 2013. While it can be tempting to call Spaces a live album, Frahm sees is as more of a found sound collage. The album captures his live performance, but also audience coughing, cell phones ringing, and Frahm banging his piano strings with a toilet brush to get a more dub rhythm. Though the music on Spaces was Frahm’s biggest deviation f

Time traveling with Iron & Wine

Sam Beam, better known as Iron & Wine, has been on quite a journey since he started releasing music in 2002. His first album, The Creek Drank the Cradle, was made on a four-track recorder at Beam's home. The warm intimacy of Beam's hushed voice and acoustic guitar, combined with the lo-fi production, had critics everywhere speaking of it in hallowed tones. On Friday, Beam is releasing Beast Epic, his sixth full-length album as Iron & Wine. The years between have also seen numerous EPs, live alb

DiS meets Ólafur Arnalds - "There is no real music business there... You can’t get famous"

At the tender age of 17, Ólafur Arnalds emerged on the music scene with compositions he wrote as intros and outros for the Antigone album by German metal band Heaven Shall Burn. When he was asked to make a full-length release of works similar to those pieces, he said yes, although he later wrote on Facebook that he “hadn't really considered continuing writing music like this.” And the next thing the world knew, Arnalds was receiving widespread acclaim for Eulogy for Evolution, an album which tel

‘We All Have the Same Questions’: Josh Ritter Takes a New Route to Answers

Over the past 20 years, Josh Ritter’s vivid imagery and expansive song topics have established him as a singular voice in songwriting — a reputation cemented by substantial experimentation and collaboration. His 2011 novel, Bright’s Passage, and visual art (including the cover art for 2017’s Gathering) attest to that. For Ritter, growth is as much a constant as his acclaimed songwriting and focus on sharing ideas through music. That spirit of musical generosity has led to performing with musicia

Mount Eerie on Intimate Grief and the Creative Impulse

Not long ago, Phil Elverum’s primary focus was on crafting the deeply atmospheric, expansive music that marked the records he released under the moniker Mount Eerie. He and his wife Geneviève, a visual artist and musician, lived blissfully intertwined creative and domestic existences, recently welcoming a daughter. Then, Geneviève was diagnosed with cancer. Her treatment and subsequent death in July 2016 changed Elverum profoundly, which naturally changed the music he makes. Elverum himself was

How Eels' Mark Everett keeps the faith

"It's amazing that I got to make one album, let alone all of these albums," says Mark Everett, the lead singer of Eels. By now, Everett — aka E, for most Eels fans — has been making music for more than 20 years. But while that longevity has birthed 11 studio albums and a legion of fans, it did come at a cost. "The price you pay for that," E tells The Week, "is it can arrest your development in other areas if that's all you're paying attention to." Eels is set to release a new album Friday for

Performance Artist Meredith Monk Talks About Her New Album, On Behalf of Nature

Meredith Monk, with her trademark wordless vocals and haunted melodies, has spent decades creating collaborative and contemplative music on themes from mercy to impermanence. Monk, a longtime Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and member of Shambhala Meditation Center’s New York sangha, released her most recent album, On Behalf of Nature, in November. The collection invites the listener to consider what’s at risk in our current political climate and builds on her earlier work of deep listening while

We Held Gold Dust In Our Hands: Tori Amos Interviewed

What intimidates Tori Amos? She's filmed a music video (for 'God') in which she is covered in rats and dances with a snake, performed a song on US national television about masturbating in church, and delivered a song ('Me And A Gun') while holding a knife and then a gun to herself in Chicago, IL in 2007. In short, she does not seem the sort of woman who scares easily. What does intimidate her, however, is an orchestra.

Tegan & Sara Interviewed | Shock To Your System

When an indie rock act has been steadily gaining traction over their past few records and decides to change direction and create a slick pop album steered by three different producers, anything can happen. It's not often that the result is that band's best work to date and garners mass appeal while still keeping longtime fans interested. But that's exactly what happened in the case of Canadian duo and twin sisters Tegan and Sara.

Sacred Medicine: Mariee Sioux on Peyote, Music, and Confronting Grief

Ever since Mariee Sioux released her 2007 debut album, Faces in the Rocks, people have been telling the 34-year-old singer-songwriter how much her music has helped them reconnect with lost parts of themselves. Sioux inherited the musicianship of her Polish-Hungarian father and the animism of her Indigenous mother. With a soulful haunt of a voice and her reverberated acoustic fingerpicking, Sioux’s songs frequently merge timeless imagery with vignettes of struggle. It’s no wonder that so many fan

Features | In Extremis | 'I'm A Walking Bordello!': Charlemagne Palestine Interviewed

Charlemagne Palestine may not be a household name in all circles, but his moniker is one you'd be unlikely to forget. Born Chaim Moshe Tzadik Palestine, or Charles Martin, Palestine has made a name for himself as an innovative musician - often associated with minimalist composers, a term Palestine loathes - visual artist and filmmaker. Now based in Brussels, he was originally born in Brooklyn to Eastern European immigrant Jewish parents, and draws much of his inspiration - even now at age 65 (an
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Most of these interviews (including ones for PopMatters, The Rumpus, The Quietus, and Drowned in Sound). Consider showing your appreciation for my work by making a donation.