The Mokkers – Indians/Wish I Could

Berlin based The Mokkers recently released a two track album that perfectly shows how to combine fuzzy garage vibes with killer guitar riffs and vocal lines.

Using the well known surf music structures, these four girls created a great mixture of dynamic patterns and western-flavored arrangements. This way the record pleasantly flows, enriched with celestial background choirs and lots of brilliant ideas (the harmonica sound on the second track as an example).

Through this short interview you can find out more about their music background and the future plans as The Mokkers.

Starting with a short introduction about “The Mokkers” and the way you started the band, I would like to know more about your music background. Obviously, your compositions have a clear reference to some typical surf and rockabilly vibes, but it seems like there’s more than that in your songwriting (especially in the way of singing). How did you started the band and which artists influenced you at most?

Verita: Elisa (Bass) and me started the band as teenagers, what feels like ages ago. Starting from scratch and due to our low instrumental skills, we started with playing mainly Ramones songs. We love the Ramones, but of course, with drummers coming and going, also our musical influence shifted more to garage indie bands of the early 2000s. Over the time our lineup got more consisting, Franzi joined for second guitar and then later Gabi completed the actual line up on drums.

Franzi: When Gabi joined us, we already were into a lot of stuff, especially music from the past decades, like surf, garage, beat and pop from the 50s and 60s: The Kinks, Duane Eddy, Link Wray, but also girl groups such as Shangri-Las, to drop a few names.

Verita: From a singer’s perspective, I’ve been mainly influenced by Nancy Sinatra, Memphis Minnie and Holly Golightly.

It’s always hard to find out where some compositions come from: sometimes they develop slowly on planned structures, sometimes they fall from the sky during some jam sessions. How does your way of composing work?

Vivi: Most of the time, I come up with a main idea, for example a guitar riff or vocal melodies. And then I take it to our band rehearsal and the others join in, the song structure developes, just like a puzzle – putting pieces together step by step.

Franzi: Now and then, song ideas also come out of the blue, while jamming together. Some songs need a long time to develop until they are ready to be staged live, other songs are ready after a short rehearsal period.

Verita: I would say, those last mentioned songs are the best songs.

Berlin is a great city for bands and artists. Here you can find lot of stuff going on in a wide range of music genres. What’s your opinion about the several music scenarios the city offers? Which bands are undeservedly underrated and should gain more notoriety?

Verita: Speaking as an artist, I sometimes have the feeling that due to Berlins wide range of different music gernres, that oneself gets easier lost. Berlin as a city is so big with a rich and diverse culture, resulting in a endless number of scenes. Sometimes I miss the solidarity among artists, musicians and bands in Berlin, which can be more likely be found in cities such as Hamburg or nowerdays Stuttgart for example. In these cities creative spaces are not spread over the whole city! Nevertheless and luckily, we can say, that there are a lot of artists and bands that support us and we befriended to over the time of the development of The Mokkers. I don’t know if I should use “underservedly underrated” to name-drop bands, that I like. I rather say, that are bands that you guys should definitely check out, that you might not have heard about, due to Berlin’s richness of music scenes, venues and bands. As far it goes for myself, I think these bands deserve more attention outside of Berlin, bands such as Delta Love or that one band called Bikes, which, both, all of us love. All of these new bands have a lot energy and that really makes Berlin a super exciting place to be right now.

Franzi: Also it should be highlighted that there are a bunch of new girl-bands, such as GURR, Canyon Spree and The Anna Thompsons, that are all awesome to see live. It’s almost like a movement, and girl-bands are always worth checking out, right?

After releasing this two track record and go gigging around, which are your plans for the future? Are you working on a full-length?

Verita: Actually we are working on a few new songs to complete a set for a full length album, that we want to record in the upcoming months. If everything works out we want to follow up with a small tour in autumn. But first of all, the present: On Friday we are hitting the stage of Auster Club, to which we have invited our friends of the amazing garage band Wolf Mountains from Stuttgart. Don’t miss it!


Deep Space – Berlin

Deep Space shared a five track record named Berlin (out May 10) on their Bandcamp account. You can stream the album in its entirety and enjoy the hazy vibes over and over.

Starting with the psych-rock of The Streets (so Moon Duo-likely in its arrangements) the record offers a great sample of fuzzy songs, filled with lots of feedback and dynamic drum patterns. They trio explores the late 60s lysergic sound, combining the fuzzy tones and the powerful structures with a clear krautrock attitude.

The entire record is a journey into foggy lands, with some bass lines leading the listener through a hypnotic mantra (the 6 minutes of Baby Walk as an example).

After the garage-flavored Sunshine Prettyside, the record evaporates into the long and sublime The Garden: 8 minute of oriental atmospheres, strongly reverberated voices, tribal percussion, elegant sitar lines and omnipresent acoustic guitars.

Surely, one of the best acts you can see at Berlin Psych Fest!

Freelove Fenner – Surveilling the Void

On January 19, Canadian Freelove Fenner shared the first of three black & white videos, intended as a trilogy named “Surveilling the Void” concerning the life of an ex Soviet spy.

In conjunction with the reissue of the first two EPs, these videos offer an old-fashioned three piece narration, featuring some tracks from latest Do not Affect a Breezy Manner. Shot on Kodak Tri-X Super 8 film, the three clips explore the life of a woman in her post-espionage daily routine, emulating the style of some famous Russian directors (Vertov and Ejzenštejn as an example).

It’s easy to find these references in the “interlude” video (second part of the trilogy), especially through the typical rough cuts among the scenes.

Enjoy the desolated landscapes of this shooting while listening to the superb soundtrack from Do Not Affect A Breezy Manner.

Here you can find the second and the third part.

Plantains/Os Noctambulos – Split

Michigan natives Plantains (now Heaters) and Paris-based Os Noctambulos worked together to create a split album that removes all doubt about the influence garage rock and surf music played on both of the bands.

Out February 17 via Stolen Body, the record counts on a really nice packaging: the two color vinyl perfectly fits the idea of a split album, with 6 tracks on each side.

Starting with Plantains’ contribute to the record, the A-side is a storm of fuzzy tones, saturated guitar/vocals effects and splashing drums: all of this paying a strong tribute to the 60s surf legends. Probably revealing their best with On The Fence, Plantains blended the acid tones of the psychedelic era with the powerful structures of garage music.

From their side, Os Noctambulos made a great work, arranging a collection of surf’n’roll tracks that blend catchy guitar riffs with dynamic patterns: give a listen to Hand in Hand (With the Devil) or Lizard In A Woman’s Skin to feel in love with their way of composing.

A sustained organ line gives the songs a peculiar background sound, enriching the structures with a old-fashioned vibe.

Ending the B-side with the bluesy You Make Me Mad (probably their peak on the record), Os Noctambulos proved their abilities in songwriting, creating a fine rock’n’roll ballad that features a simple but genial piano line.

Lamber Vision – Lamber Vision

On January 20, psych-rock quartet Lamber Vision released their first self-named full-lenght: a collection of nine instrumental tracks, exploring a wide range of vibes and atmospheres.

Hailing from São Paulo, they combine a huge love for the 70s psychedelic sonorities with a remarkable fascination for some typical oriental sounds. Probably because of the long stay in Berlin, they make a strong use of Turkish melodies in their compositions, blending spacerock soundscapes with mantra-likely guitar lines.

The pleasant stream of cosmic sounds, hazy tones and hypnotic drum patterns constantly flows for almost 40 minutes, giving the listener tons of good reasons to enjoy these vibes.

It’s easy to find out both the influence krautrock played on the band (German legends Can and Amon Düül II as an example) and the South American roots they obviously reveal throughout the track list (the use of some chords, so typical in Bossanova and Jazz music, should be counted as an evidence).

To discover more about this project and the music background of the members, here a short interview I had with the band:

According to what you wrote on the record description, you started the band after a stay in Berlin. How did it influenced your life as musicians?

Berlin has a completely different atmosphere then sao paulo, our home town in Brazil. Not only music, but colors, food and lifestyle was an acomplishmant for our first record sessions in a studio settle in a old bunker. There was the place where we started recording only in two (Samuel and Pedro) till we get about 9 songs done. After that, we started to looking for another musicians to make possible to play our music live in clubs in Berlin. A post on a local website brought to us two great musicians. Liad, guitar player from israel, living in Berlin for more them 5 years, and Ignatz, from Argentina, who were playing keyboards and guitar. They understood our music and ideas and we all could share our music skills from different backgrounds. Definitely was good to be in Berlin.

The soundscapes you created on your album have a lot of oriental influences. How did you come to that kind of sound? There are records or musicians that inspired you?

(Samuel) Yes, few years ago I began to dig Selda Balcan music and the incredible musicians from her band. This sort of music made me start to compose more and more influenced by this oriental music. But after all, it was different when we were playing live. Even if we had in mind to make that sort of music, in the end we had a completely different thing, mixed with our previous influences.
(Pedro) For me, it was amazing to understand the political view crossed with the music made in Turkey during the 70’s. After invited by the germans to rebuild the country, turkish musicians could get in contact with instruments and german technology in general and at some point bringing this knowledge back to Instanbul to help them to get a better sounds for their music.

Your way of composing strongly reminds me of the krautrock golden age. Which band of that music scenario would you pick up for a comparison?

The Germans form CAN, without a doubt. The whole discography is great.

Creating instrumental tracks is sometimes way harder than creating arrangements for lyrics. How do your way of composing works? Do you have a particular method or you go along with jamming until you find a good starter?

(Samuel) In general, I start from the guitar and then, adding more ideas till I understand what is intro, chorus, a part, b part and so on. Sometimes, we have only one melody and all the rest comes after. And the other way around can happens too. Drums always comes in the end. The best way still when we are all playing together, sharing ideas.

After releasing this record you should be quite busy with gigging. What’s the plan afterwards?

Well, we just released the album. Last year we had couple of concerts to play in Sao Paulo. Now, we have one gig on 27th of march and ready to play in new places.

Dodson and Fogg – The Call

Dodson and Fogg released last November a 12 track record named The Call, showing the world a great way to combine an old fashioned way of composing with tons of experimental vibes.

This Chris Wade’s acid folk project clearly refers to certain sonorities from the early seventies, even if it’s easy to find lots of influences from some 90s indie pop atmospheres. The way he combined these pleasant vibes with marvelous oriental tones finds its peak in Suddenly, third track on the record. This song is a two step journey into a world full of hypnotic sounds and mellow melodies: the classic structure of the first section slowly turns into a mesmerizing mantra, with tribal percussion and fabulous sitar lines floating all around.

The entire track list offers several remarkable moments, such as the jazzanova-likely Windsmill, the enchanting I Remember, the lysergic Watch The Skies and many more. All these tracks are enriched with delicate arrangements and fine sound effects: just listen to the flangered guitar sound in Like a Fool to get an idea.

Wade’s voice perfectly fits with his music, finding the right way to express its warm and airy tone. On this record, Celia Humphris from folk band Trees added some heavenly voices, giving a celestial atmosphere to some of the tracks (It’s Not Time To Leave as an example). Sustained by steamy drum sections, cadenced bass lines and elegant guitar playing, these songs let you gently drown in an ocean of pleasant harmonies.

Here a short interview with Chris Wade, who kindly replied to some questions about his work and his music influences.

Starting with a short introduction about your music career, I would like to know more about your background as a songwriter. What inspired you at most in creating these peculiar acid folk atmospheres? When and how did you realize that you could be a professional musician?

I started out as a writer actually, half professionally in about 2009, but I have always played instruments and I would record demos on a 4 track as I was growing up. It wasn’t until later on in 2012 that I started to gather some songs together and record them on the acoustic guitar with a simple arrangement. See, at first, I was just getting used to the PC and recording on that. I had always, when I was younger, recorded on cassette 4 track so getting used to this digital thing took a bit of time before I was comfortable with it (god I’m 28, I sound like an embalmed antique old rocker). As for acid folk, I had no idea what it meant until a reviewer mentioned the term when reviewing the first record. But seeing as I went on to read that ISB and Trees were classed as acid folk and I love them, I didn’t mind being called it so much. As for being a professional musician, I just love doing it, staying in and recording. Last year was a great year for that and I found I could keep creating music and some people were interested in it, which was always an ambition as a kid, that someone would want to collect my music. So it has a been amazing for me. When I was writing books I often felt like I was drifting from one weird project to another, comedy audiobooks to non fiction to the magazine, and felt a bit lost sometimes. For the first time with the music I feel I have found something real I could keep doing until I’m an old man in a rocking chair… with a guitar of course.

Your way of composing is strongly connected with some typical classic rock patterns, even if there’s a remarkable experimental attitude. Where did you find the inspiration to create this mixture of elements? Which records would you pick up from your collection?

Basically when I record a track I always start with an acoustic guitar pattern and the vocals. I then go on to add whatever I think will sound good. None of it is really planned before hand, it’s all natural and comes together as I go along. I think ‘some keyboards might sound good here, some bongos, bit of flute maybe’. It’s all about colouring in the bareness really. Sometimes it needs more and sometimes less. I would say The Beatles are a big inspiration for the arrangements and putting in so many different ideas and sounds. They’re the pinnacle of all that. Basically, making music should be fun and although it can often be hard work when it isn’t going right, hearing the finished result is a big thrill.

You collaborated with lots of great musicians on your records. How did you find working with other people on your material? How did they help you in constructing your sound?

Well the funny thing is that I haven’t met any of them in person. I send a track along for them to add things by email as a lot of musicians do these days and when they record it and send it back, I spend some time mixing it into the recorded track. When I have a track I usually think that something might add character to it, whether it be a vocal or another instrument, and I send it along. Celia Humphris of Trees always does superb vocals for me. We have done loads of tracks together now and I never tire of hearing her voice on my songs. I love mixing others’ work into my songs, it’s a huge thrill, especially when I happen to be a huge fan beforehand.

Your compositions are filled with tons of sitar lines and oriental-flavored vibes. Sure, Ricky Romain made a great job on your last record “The Call”. How do you work with this kind of “unconventional” instruments? Which role do they play in the process of music composing?

I recorded the track Suddenly for The Call which was, for me anyway, more of an epic track with more changes. One day I heard some sitar played by Mike Heron on an Incredible String Band track and I always loved the sound of it anyway even as a kid. So I found Ricky on the internet and we had a chat on the phone about him doing some sitar for the album. I sent two tracks along which I thought would sound nice with some sprinklings of sitar and he loved them and did some amazing work for them. I just think that music should be for yourself firstly, to please your own ears and satisfy some creative urge. Then if others like it, that is where it becomes something special. I just love adding in different and unusual sounds, mixing and blending. The unconventional instruments as you say just give things a different feel sometimes. I don’t see them as unconventional really, I just think of the sounds they make. Hearing them blending in to the music can really bring a song to life I feel.