Former Nickelodeon princess Ariana Grande is said to be teaming with cherub-turned-bad boy Justin Bieber for a worldwide tour, but the 22-year-old singer has proved that her bubble-gum pop and Mariah Carey-esque vocal stylings can command stadium crowds as a solo act. The Florida native counts two studio albums under her platform shoes, but she’s given the same live treatment to her radio-friendly chops as she has to her sky-high ponytail – polished and elevated.– Abby Johnston
“VLetrmx21,” from Autechre’s Garbage (1995), torrents the uninhabited. Wagnerian horns peak and dip like a climate model colliding into a vacuum of itself. The disquiet presence sits anomalously against the rest of Mancunian duo Sean Booth and Rob Brown’s output. Elements scatter so that recognizable shards may motion back to a focal point, all before unfolding and dispersing.
The pair’s catalog – spanning nearly three decades, 11 studio albums, and numerous EPs and side projects – feels like a descent into quicksand, an influx of deviating constants. Autechre diverges in and out of itself ubiquitously and like nothing else. Booth spoke by phone from his Chicago hotel room while the sun was setting on Lake Michigan and the Lower Colorado.
Austin Chronicle: Is this U.S. tour a way to work on new material or are you combing through your back catalog?
Sean Booth: A little bit of both. We’ve got quite a portable setup. It allows us to write on the move, but also to improvise live. The line defining what’s written is a little gray now. When defining terms in a range of possibilities, it’s difficult with algorithmic material to know how much is pre-written. You can improvise more when you manipulate sequences with a reduced number of parameters. Even though a lot of it is predefined, how much we can vary is pretty vast. I don’t even know how much of our process is even writing. I’ve stopped thinking in those terms. I just work on patches and use them.
AC: As you refine and reclassify your sound, does being pigeonholed into genre constructions such as IDM or glitch annoy you?
SB: Originally, it was a bit irritating because we didn’t want our music attached to a name. Nowadays I expect the industry heuristics to describe music, otherwise how the fuck else will people learn about it? I don’t even know if I could describe our work to a third party if I wasn’t allowed to use these real basic terms.
AC: What’s the division of labor between the two of you?
SB: We really don’t have one. I program a bit more than Rob, whereas he hacks and mods a little more. Other than that, there isn’t much difference. We collaborate because we like the same things. It’s not that I work with Rob because he contributes something specific or that I couldn’t do something that only he offers. I know him really well. He likes the same things I like and he’s a barometer for whether something is good or not.
AC: And the projectile of your tastes have maintained throughout?
SB: Definitely. If anything, they’re stronger. So many other things have come and gone. We’ve had a chance to review what’s behind us, and there’s been so many opportunities for us to affirm we’re on the same page. It’s useful having another person around to bounce ideas off of.
We work a little like a company. I was quite impressed as a kid when I saw Public Image Ltd. They were saying more than they realized at the time. They left a big impression on me. They were literally running a company that produced music. And they weren’t pretending to be anything else. There are all these businesses making music, competing with other businesses. I have no problem with it. This idea that if you’re interested in working as a business makes you less soulful – ultimately then, everyone is. We’re just not in denial.– Conor Walker
Technicolor pop muse Marina Diamandis hasn’t revealed her wardrobe for what she describes as a three-act show, but the Welsh singer says the bulk of her performance will come from this third and most inward-facing album, Froot, which steps outside of playful lyrics for a bit of mindful meditation – even if it’s simply set to an infectious beat. Rising Las Vegas electronic artist and singer Shamir (Bailey) opens by spreading the word of his May XL Recordings debut full-length, Ratchet, prior to a Fun Fun Fun Fest appearance next month.– Abby Johnston