STRFKR, FCK US UP!

STRFKR, an indie-electro pop band from Portland, Oregon came through Denver this last weekend and pumped up the crowd as always. Reminiscent of their performance at Project Pabst last year, the band was high energy, in fun costumes, and obviously ready to put on a show. The same was true for Saturday’s show.

My favorite thing about this band is their overall message, and it is everything  anti. Their lyrics are kind of morbid, with this whole end of the world feel, paired with upbeat, pop music that simply makes you want to dance.  The whole name started as a joke with past member Sam Norris, being shoretened over the years to represent the band best.  Front man Josh Hodges, said he heard someone say they were a “starfucker” and it made him question the people he was around and all the things he really didn’t want to be involved in. The name carried through to represent the bands “removal from the rat race” that is prevalent in the music industry. Including many snippets from philosopher Alan Watts, STRFKR uses many of his lectures as content for their songs, considering the ideology is very similar, which is super tight in my opinion. Kudos to any artist who makes that kind of effort to find supporting content on their beliefs, to be included in their music.

 Lead singer, and multi-instrumentalist Josh Hodges, kept things interesting and against the standard grain with women’s clothing, a pink wig, rainbow suspenders, and sunnies I was envious of. Backup dancers and entertainers dressed in spacesuits, kept the audience entertained in moments of “dullness”, although I would say that these were few and far between.  And would it be a STRFKR show without blow up pool toys travelling through the crowd with the occasional white girl on it? The visuals were electric and vibrant and showcased the vibe of STRFKR perfectly, and make us curious what their journey of artistry looks like from here. Hopefully weirder and more anti-establishment, eh?

Words: Lina Skrzypczak Photos: Michael Hecker

Music | Ticket Giveaway: Lenka | Lost Lake, June 24th

Photo Credit: Kristin Burns

It's Tuesday and we are still recovering from this weekend. Luckily for all you loyal readers we have a contest up for grabs today. Indie-Pop sensation Lenka will be gracing the Lost Lake stage tomorrow night and we have a pair of tickets up for grabs. Go to our Instagram page to see how you can win. In the meantime enjoy her new video "Unique" below. Good Luck!

“My aim with music is to create mood enhancers for people,” says Lenka, whose fourth indie-pop album, The Bright Side, drops on June 16th. “That gives me the most joy, when people say my music makes them feel better.” And the Australian singer-songwriter’s gift for sharing her bliss has served her well. 

Whether or not you realize it, her buoyant, wistful songs—most notably “The Show” (off her self-titled debut) and “Everything at Once” (from Two, her follow-up)—have been sound-tracking your life for almost seven years now. She’s lent levity to several commercials including spots from Windows 8, Old Navy, and Coke; charm to dramedies like Grey’s Anatomy and Ugly Betty; and imbued films such as Moneyball with graceful poignancy. 

In a music culture that leans heavily on branding, Lenka has stood out for willfully being herself—occupying a spot between the upbeat-ness of Top 40 singles and the thoughtfulness of indie albums. “Music is a wonderfully direct way to enter people’s psyches,” she explains. “Mine is about keeping a sense of wonder about the world.” To that end, since first dropping music seven years ago, Lenka has charted hits everywhere from Germany to China. And her videos, which she art-directs with her artist-husband James Gulliver Hancock, have racked up tens of millions of views.

The Bright Side, about chasing optimism, packs similar appeal. “I’m very happy in life—that is my biggest truth,” she explains. “My previous album, Shadows, was a quiet lullaby album, because I was living a quiet life, having a baby. Now my life is much more energetic: I’ve got a toddler who wants to dance. He doesn’t want to hear slow songs. He wants to hear rhythms.” 

Lenka first conceived the tune to “Blue Skies,” The Bright Side’s first single, as way to entertain her son in the car. “A storm was passing, and I looked at the sky,” she remembers. “I just started singing that hook. “Blue skies/For you and I…” She recorded that melody on her phone and a week later, laid down some chords on a keyboard to give the bluesy-sounding song a more new-wave filmic vibe. 

Much of The Bright Side was written and recorded this way: on the fly, over one-and-a-half years, whenever Lenka got a free moment. (She worked on the album in-person in Los Angeles and New York City, and remotely, from Sydney.) “I haven’t written about being a mum, but it infiltrates my songs: hopes for the future, dreams, trying to have a good life,” she says. “I’ve also been thinking about my fans: They’re often young women around the world. These are messages that I want to give them, about attacking their lives with love and fervor.” 

Passion is something Lenka has always been able to tap into. “I was quite a forthright child, confident, and definitely an entertainer,” she says. Her father, a jazz musician, put her in piano and trumpet lessons when she was 6. Still, Lenka wanted to be a professional ballerina. Then in her teens, she got into acting. Later, she went to art school. And again, in her early 20s, she fatefully returned to theater. “I had an epiphany while acting in a play where I had to sing alone,” she says. “That was a beautiful experience. I suddenly realized my gifts lay there.” So she immediately enrolled in a music conservatory. Says Lenka: “I hated it as a child, but I’m so glad now that I learned the piano.”

She’s symbolically returning that favor to her dad with “My Love,” one of The Bright Side’s most sentimental tracks. “I actually wrote it with my dad,” she says. “He sent over a few ideas and I really wanted to fit those ideas into the song. But it took me about five go’s of trying to write it—it was challenging, but I was determined to make this work! It feels so good to have a song on here with my dad.” 

The earthy, ambling “The Long Way Home” is another homage to fathers and daughters. Lenka was commissioned to create a song to open Believe, a TV series co-produced by Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón. “He was in a car with his daughter, and she was singing one of my songs. So he asked me to write something.” Lenka frequently gets asked to pen songs for various projects, and sometimes, she says, “I decide I love those songs so much that I want to use them”—which is how “The Long Way Home” made it onto The Bright Side.

In other cases, songs such as the nimble, carefree “Unique” end up taking on a life of their own. That track started out as a concept, until Lenka realized, “It’s actually hard to write a whole song about being unique!” Vigilant, she reached out to Jason Reeves, who co-wrote “The Show.” “I went out to Malibu, and we sat on the sand with a guitar. He started smashing out some chords,” she says. “We did the song together, and I went back to Australia and finessed it.” 

In fact, much of the album’s writing process was creatively challenging for Lenka. “Unique was out of my comfort zone lyrically,” she explains. “‘Blue Skies’ was out of my comfort zone stylistically, because I don’t normally write electronic music.” She also worked on “Blue Skies” remotely—something she’s not accustomed to—with Canadian producer Damian Taylor (Björk, The Killers). They sent recordings back and forth between Sydney and Montreal until they’d perfected “Blue Skies.” 

“I was a bit scared it would go off in a weird direction,” she says. For The Bright Side, Lenka likewise worked with writer-producers Chris Braide (Sia, Lana Del Rey), Tim “One Love” Sommers (B.o.B., Eminem), and Dan Romer (Ingrid Michaelson, Greg Laswell)—sometimes over Skype. Why? “It’s a paradox for an artist: You want to experiment and stretch your creative limbs. But at the same time, you really want to make sure you sound like yourself.” 

If “Blue Skies” is her sweet ode to optimism, “The Long Way Home” is her rally to embrace change. “It’s about how if you step outside of the box, take the long way home, you’ll have more of an adventure,” she says. And that is the power of The Bright Side: “Explore a little bit. Get lost in the world,” she says. “See what happens.”

Interview with Indie Pop Band "Lovelife"

Please enjoy the wonderful responses of Lee Newell, singer of dreamy UK indie band Lovelife!

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to the oh-so-pressing questions that we have. My name is Autumn Coleman and I am a writer for Ultra5280. We saw you rock the pants off of Denver at the Gothic last month where everyone fell in love with you. Your super sexy synth supported jams are excellently complimented by your dashing United Kingdom charm and good looks. AKA: Methinks you are totally more than interview material. Now on to the exciting stuff:

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First of all; can you shed a little light on who brings the most muscles to the band? Who is the best kisser?

Muscle wise, I suppose that would be Frank. He came 4th in the 1998 Young Bodybuilder Of The Year (Berkshire Division). As for best kisser, that would be me.

What has been your favorite American tour spot? (You don’t have to say Denver – but we fully expect it)!

Denver. You welcomed us with open arms and cheap beer. We also got to visit some hot springs pre-show so we were revitalised.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?

Heartsick pop music.

Where do you find inspiration when you’re writing?

It's nearly always about a failed relationship. Writing about it has always seemed to be the most therapeutic form of recovery.

When is Frank going to star in a video?

When we need some eye candy.

Have you been told that your music would be a perfect addition to a lovemaking playlist?

Yes, often.

Why the name “lovelife?”

It was the only one that wasn't taken... And also, at the time my personal lovelife had come to somewhat of a standstill. So I had to create one for myself.

Give one random and interesting fact about each of the members:

I've never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Ally is from Herefordshire, home of cider. Frank is an officially qualified coffee expert. Sam has never been on a roller coaster.

When I come to the UK, can we grab a beer and/or tea (Ally – you can feel free to make me a cup)?

Of course. We'll have some overpriced lager and weak tea. On us!

What do you boys do when you’re not melting faces with your gorgeous music?

We drink, and eat, mainly drink. I struggle to remember more than 12 hours ago.

Who is each guy’s celebrity crush? (I figure it’s only appropriate to get into love lives…. DUH.)

(All) Emily Ratajkowski. Although she isn't technically a celebrity yet.

Will any/all of you marry me? (Say yes.)

Will you sign a prenup first?

(When) can we expect a full length album?

Next year. It's something we're working on right now.

Lee – When did you start singing?

I didn't know I had started? I just make noises.

What has been your favorite American food?

Po-Boy's. That is some next level shit.

Sam –  who is your favorite artist right now?

Diana. (The band, not the princess.)

Any final thoughts/comments:

Our new 7" Your New Beloved // Dying To Start Again is out on Neon Gold Records now. Our newest EP Stateless will be out in the summer.

You can download the rest of our catalogue for FREE from http://lvlf.info/

 

American Authors | Review & Interview

Brooklyn, NY band American Authors graced the 303’s own Larimer Lounge last night as the opener for Lousiana indie rock band Royal Teeth.

Where have you been all my life? That’s all I have to say. These guys have amazing chemistry.

American Authors put on a show that was passion-loaded and one hundred percent awesome. I was dancing and singing along side stage - and so was everyone else. Simply the way they interact with one another on stage makes them a force to be reckoned with.

They bring a unique sound to indie rock. With banjo riffs and animated drum beats, they don’t perform songs - they perform anthems. Their music is relatable and honest, and that’s much more than most bands can give you these days. They are a refreshing act to witness as they allow equal contribution from all of the members. They exude appreciation and humility - and they totally rock. Seriously. I don’t know what’s wrong with you if you don’t want to dance your ass off when you hear these guys.


I had the pleasure of chatting with the boys before they played - and believe me, they are just as lovely and genuine as their music makes them out to be.  Enjoy getting to know Zac, Dave, Matt, and James of American Authors - and keep your eyes peeled for their first full length album coming out soon!