basically if olympia, washington, singer-songwriter lois maffeo isn’t there, then it’s not really a chickfactor party. even though we interviewed miss lois for chickfactor #5 back in 1994, we are interviewing her again! she performs at the bell house in brooklyn on thursday, june 13 with the pastels, dump and jim ruiz set, mc sukhdev sandhu and special guests.
interview by gilmore tamny (of the yips & wiglet fame)
chickfactor: tell us a bit about the last your experience playing the last chickfactor show yonder brooklyn? highlights? unexpected pleasures? things you’re looking forward to this time?
lois: there’s a reason that gail always calls her chickfactor shows parties. there is a togetherness on these nights that doesn’t exist on most (any?) festival bills. it’s like everyone there, bands and audience, has this connection through these shared loves. it’s really magical.
any dish on chickfactor or gail or pam you wanna share? gaudy nights? bank jobs pulled? musical japes not yet known to adoring chickfactor public?
gail o’hara and a magnum of veuve cliquot is a dangerous combination. the last time that lois and dump shared a bill, gail, james and I sat on some steps at NYU (or was it columbia?—editor) and drank this massive bottle of champagne in scavenged paper cups. needless to say, I don’t remember much about that show and fear my set may have been a disaster.
how do you view the songwriting process these days?
sadness and torment are such invigorating tools for songwriting. but handily enough, I have avoided them for a long time and as such, my output has languished. but I’m not complaining.
what are the upsides/downside to playing out less? what do you miss or how do you feel freed up?
I miss being lost. so often we would be on the outskirts of a city and running late and having to ask someone on the roadside how to get to the club. inevitably the answer was “just turn there by the kroger. you can’t miss it.” and lo, we missed it every time.
how has birdie’s variety changed/enhanced your relationship to inatmate objects? history/the past?
I’ll just note here that birdie’s variety is both the name of my fanzine and the once-a-year sale of recycled cookware and useful things that I hold. (this year it will be at the unknown in anacortes, washington, on july 20.) apart from helping people get their hands on non-toxic and durable cookware, the appeal of the birdie’s sale comes in writing the pricetags. that is where I get to detail my thoughts on each object. (see photos.)
Is there (a) holy grail or grails of objects you’d like to find?
I don’t really search for things. I like to just come across them. what I like about finding things in thrift stores is that a person donated the object so it could benefit someone else. and estate sales can be fascinating in the way they illustrate a life through the stuff that was acquired along the way. In short, there are other ways of establishing value beyond looking up the price of something on ebay.
do you feel like lovejoy with nose for authenticity?
Your question hits upon one of the few ye olde TV sleuths that I don’t follow!
any lois maffeo recipes for cobbler/pesto/drinky-winkies you can share?
just some advice: grow herbs and put them in everything.
any artists (bands/writers/painters/what have you) of late that are driving you wild?
I’ve been listening to troubadours like idiot glee and karl blau, studying the songs of leslie bricusse & anthony newley, rocking out to hot hooves and faithfully following jarvis cocker’s sunday service on BBC 6. and gail introduced me to connie converse and molly drake who both made these spare and perfect songs that get right to the heart of things.
gilmore tamny wrote a novel, my days with millicent, which is being serialized on-line, and has a tumblr of line drawings here.
nothing’s too good for the common people:
a paul kelly retrospective
saturday 15 june 2013, 11am–6pm
cantor film center, 35 east 8th street (between greene street and university place)
free and open to the public (but you must RSVP)
presented by the colloquium for unpopular culture & chickfactor 21
11:00am: introduction by sukhdev sandhu
11:15: this is tomorrow (2007), 54 min (NYC premiere)
12:15pm: what have you done today, mervyn day? (2005), 45 min (NYC premiere)
1:30: finisterre (2003), 60 min
2:45: take three girls: the dolly mixture story (2012), 40 min (NYC premiere)
3:45-4:15: discussion between paul kelly and bilge ebiri/ Q&A
4:30-6:00: lawrence of belgravia (2011), 86 min (NYC premiere)
over the last decade, paul kelly – already well known as a musician (as a member of the much-revered east village and birdie) and graphic designer – has forged a reputation as one of the most distinctive british documentarians of his generation. refining an unusually lyrical brand of psychogeography informed by pop-modernist aesthetics, he moves between the city symphony, film essay and companionate portraiture to fashion beautifully composed and deeply atmospheric evocations of overlooked places and individuals. whether working in collaboration with the band saint etienne on a lushly ambient trilogy about london, or in his witty and empathetic films about the much-beloved dolly mixture and lawrence of felt, kelly’s films are immediately recognizable and immediately lovable.
nothing’s too good for the common people is the first retrospective of this key filmmaker’s work to have been held anywhere. organized by the new york-based colloquium for unpopular culture (kiss me again: the life and legacy of arthur russell; leaving the factory: wang bing’s tie xi qu; a cathode ray séance: the haunted worlds of nigel kneale) in collaboration with chickfactor magazine, it will feature the US premieres of many films, introductions by a constellation of artists and musicians, and paul kelly himself in discussion with the director and writer bilge ebiri.
to mark nothing’s too good for the common people, there will be available for sale copies of a very limited-edition book designed by rob carmichael (john cale, LCD soundsystem, animal collective’s ‘crack box’) and featuring contributions by a wide range of writers, musicians and architectural historians including jon dale, travis elborough, alistair fitchett, dan fox, joe kerr, stephin merritt, jude rogers and peter terzian.
queries/ RSVP: email@example.com
we love pop. we love the bell house. we love all these bands. enjoy our summer festival! (three-night pass ticket here)
tuesday, june 11 tickets here
LILYS + THE CANNANES + VERSUS + ROSE MELBERG
wednesday, june 12 tickets here
FUTURE BIBLE HEROES + THE ALUMINUM GROUP + HONEYBUNCH + TRUE LOVE ALWAYS
thursday, june 13 tickets here
THE PASTELS + DUMP + JIM RUIZ SET + LOIS
+ special guests each night
show starts early 8pm, doors 7pm.
LILYS! full noise version of this fine east coast indie band fronted by kurt heasley and in the band will be a few of the lilys’ past 274 members.
THE CANNANES! all the way from australia! with a sexy new EP out titled small batch! frances gibson & stephen o’neil along with penny mcbride, carlos icaza on drums & a mystery bass player.
VERSUS! from new york city! merge recording artists! fontaine toups! the brothers baluyut (richard & edward)! margaret white! they love meat, sports and rock. we love them.
ROSE MELBERG! all the way from vancouver, b.c.! the dulcet-voiced singer from the softies, tiger trap, go sailor + many other vintage pop groups.
FUTURE BIBLE HEROES! from boston & new york! record release party for the awesome partygoing + their new multi-record reissue package! they haven’t played live since chickfactor’s ten-year anniversary parties in 2002. featuring claudia gonson, christopher ewen & guests (stephin merritt not likely to perform)
ALUMINUM GROUP! from chicago! john + frank navin bring their breezy electropop to new york! they have been working on new stuff!
HONEYBUNCH! from providence! jeffrey underhill & co. probably haven’t played since last year’s chickfactor party! original lineup + special guest.
TRUE LOVE ALWAYS! ace teenbeat recording artists all the way from charlottesville via brooklyn, led by john lindaman!
THE PASTELS! all the way from glasgow, scotland, and also having a record release party, new LP slow summits out in late may on domino & is ace. they haven’t played in new york since 1997! the lineup will be stephen mcrobbie, katrina mitchell, gerard love (lightships, teenage fanclub), tom crossley (international airport) and john hogarty.
DUMP! brooklyn’s own james mcnew (yo la tengo) brings his powerhouse music group to bell house. he’s in the process of reissuing his catalog on morr music.
JIM RUIZ SET! from minneapolis! the (legendary) jim ruiz set have a fab new long player out called mount curve avenue and are always a treat!
LOIS! from olympia, washington! ms lois maffeo brings her smart songwriting skills back to bell house, backed by brendan canty (fugazi, deathfix) and stephen immerwahr (codeine).
the thalia zedek interview
thalia zedek is kind of an indie-rock bad-ass. before she formed come with chris brokaw, she was in uzi, live skull and dangerous birds. this spring, she is touring solo to support her new thrill jockey release via, and then touring with come as matador gets ready to reissue 11: 11 in may. gilmore tamny (from wiglet/the yips) managed to ask thalia a few questions to get the dirt.
chickfactor: any opinions on the “roadrunner” official song for massachusetts?
thalia: I’m all for it. I think that jonathan richman is an american icon right up there with woody guthrie and massachusetts should take advantage of the bragging rights
cf: touring for via with low (portland, san francisco, etc.) coming up and then I think with the come reissue—sounds like a great lineup. Any plans beyond the spring or later with come?
I have got some new material that I’m really excited about working on and hopefully recording in the near future. I don’t want to wait 4 years this time!
cf: what do you like/love/find not awesome/hate about touring?
I love traveling and looking out the window from a van, meeting new cool people and exploring new cities. and reconnecting with old friends. what I don’t like is flying and club promoters who don’t appreciate musicians and the effort that it takes to tour.
cf: writers like to talk about their writerly routines and I’m curious if you have a particular sort with song-writing or practicing. is it cyclic? daily? inspiration based? do you work better under looming deadlines or slogging along day-in/day-out (etc.)?
I’m definitely inspiration based but looming deadlines definitely speed up my process. I find that sitting down and just noodling around on my guitar is how most of my songs start out. sometimes finishing them is a problem for me!
cf: how do you write the lyrics for your songs? go they come first/second or hatch as the song does? who are some of your favorite lyricists?
lyrics pretty much always come last for me, but on the rare occasion that the music and words come at the same time, that is truly magic and those songs are my favorite. some of my favorite lyricists are nick cave, leonard cohen, vic chesnutt.
cf: first few favorite-favorite songs as kid/young person?
“the boxer” by simon and garfunkel. I used to sing the La Di Li part over and over again!
cf: are there any artists–books, painters, dancers, whatever–that you would say have influenced you a lot in last 10 years?
carla bozulich is doing some really cool things these days. she used to be in geraldine fibbers but has a new project now called evangelista that has put out a lot of cool records on constellation records. I find her music and her work ethic really inspiring!
cf: tell us a little about the recording process for via. I imagine you are pretty technically conversant at this point with so much recording under your belt. what sort of sound were you looking for, if you had an idea ahead of time, and then how you went about executing it?
we worked with andrew schneider again as the engineer and producer. I personally think he is a genius. he just makes us sound like us and sounding natural in the studio is actually no mean feat. I wanted the record to sound warm and deep, but I don’t really like getting into the technical aspects of it. it’s just not my thing so I just try and record with really talented engineers.
cf: is there any show you were dying to see that you are still kicking yourself for having missed?
I had the chance to see rowland howard perform in melbourne in 2005 but I was too jetlagged and exhausted from touring to make the show. he has since passed away , and I really really regret not seeing him that night. he was a big influence on my guitar playing.
cf: how many guitars do you own? What are some of your favorites?
4 electric guitars and 1 acoustic. I have a tele deluxe that I used on the early come records and two black hagstrom I guitars. also a pale blue kalamazoo. my first hagstrom which I got as a birthday gift from a bunch of my friends in the ’90s is my favorite. they knew that I had put a down payment on it and they pooled together the rest and gave it to me for my birthday. it was amazing!
cf: is there any folk music from a region or tradition you particularly dig?
rebetica, which are greek “hash songs,” indian music, as well turkish and romanian music too.
cf: what are some things you do outside of playing music that best ‘feed’ your music? I mean, like: biking? reading? watching bad TV? cooking? etc.
I love cooking, especially BBQ in the summer and biking around!
cf: I know you’ve done some volunteering with girls rock camp boston. could you talk a bit about your experience?
it was great. I volunteered at the first boston rock camp for girls as a guitar instructor and band coach and also at a ladies rock camp as a band coach. kids love making noise so it was a lot of fun to encourage them to thrash away and see them just break out with these huge smiles! I also discovered what I had already suspected, that I’m not that great at teaching people instruments. I’m a great band coach though!
cf: short list of places you’d like to travel, either touring or not?
lithuania, latvia, indonesia, new zealand, israel for a start. china and japan too!
cf: I’ve always thought you were a very stylish gal. any influences in that area? anyone whose style you admire?
thanks! ’70s-era mick jagger meets goodwill is what I’m going for. not sure if I’ve achieved it or not.
cf: do you have any animal cam weaknesses?
I love to watch baby seals frolic!
thalia is touring right now, and come is playing dates in may & june! photograph by lana caplan.
if my cozy cave were engulfed in flames, I would reach for three things (and yes, this was a standard chickfactor question, I have given it some thought) while sprinting out the door… 1. my grandmother’s wedding ring (she called it “the depression diamond” and I think of her whenever I glance down at it). 2. a suitcase full of negatives. and 3. my annabel wright original of b&s (it ran in the new yorker in 1998 dontcha know). annabel (formerly known as aggi) has also been something of a muse to me: evidence here. like all the finest sleeves for all the finest pop in glasgow, the sleeves for the new pastels single “check my heart” (contender for tune of the year) and album slow summits were created with her inimitable talent. cannot wait to get them all on vinyl! (I miss her!) album is out may 27-28.
it may only be march, but chickfactor is responsible for creating a little bit of september mania. rose melberg released this amazing cassette tape (with download card) for her recent tour last month and she had a few to sell on the lost sound tapes website. it is sold out! they are planning to make 150 more, so keep an eye on their site (but don’t bombard them with emails!) so you can grab one up when they’re ready. rose & co. wanted to keep it small and simple, but there is so much demand they might want to consider a wider release!
20th-anniversary cocktail invented by daniel a searing jr
1 oz gin*
0.5 oz maraschino liqueur
0.25 oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz champagne**
*I think an american craft gin like breuckelen from new york or small’s from oregon work particularly well.
**or use any dry traditional method sparkling wine such as cava from spain.
stir first three ingredients with ice. strain into a champagne flute or coupe. top with sparkling wine and garnish with a lemon twist.
to serve as a punch chill all ingredients well.
in a punch bowl combine one 750 ml bottle of gin, half a bottle of maraschino liqueur and 6 oz plus 2 tsp lemon juice and the same amount of cold water.
gently add 3 bottles of sparkling wine.
float lemon slices in the bowl and add a large chunk of ice.
serve in punch cups, tumblers or coupes.
to make ice chunk freeze water in a bundt or loaf pan overnight. release by dipping or rinsing with warm water.
alternatively, fill a well rinsed paper quart container with water and freeze.
peel away container to use.