!! Q&A !!

!! OMG, a Q&A with Austra !!

Austra by Photo by Virginie Khateeb

Photo by Virginie Khateeb

Like many other artists, Austra’s Katie Stelmanis was forced to cancel a tour in support of her last album, HiRUDiN.

Upon its release in 2020, the album was tethered to a particularly catastrophic and unforeseen break-up. Without a tour to process and perform the songs, and amidst the seclusion brought on by the pandemic, the singer, now four records into her bands catalogue, was forced to confront her loss head on.

This Thursday, Austra is premiering a 24-hour live stream of “I Feel You Everywhere,” a film of an intense solo performance of her most recent songs at Roy Thomson Hall, an esteemed venue in her hometown of Toronto. After taking the year to process her heartbreak, the event has Stelmanis once again seated in those painful memories.

https://youtu.be/9-tQaawQ8zA

I’ve known Katie for years, having been “gay-raised” in Toronto’s lesbian-leaning art and music scene in the early 2000s. In this very personal interview, Stelmanis opens up about the intricacies of lesbian romance, how to operate as an artist amidst a patriarchy that is still thriving, and even processed a brief rift between us caused by a rather unfortunate contribution on my part to scene drama!

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Claud !!

Claud Mintz by Photography by Angela Ricciardi

Photography by Angela Ricciardi

Last week, singer-songwriter Claud Mintz debuted their remarkably catchy, emotionally potent new record, Super Monster. The release holds the now very covetable status as the first entry on fellow songwriter Phoebe Bridgers’s nascent record label, The Saddest Factory (Get it? Satisfactory?).

The premiere status is bound to bring 21-year-old Claud some much-warranted attention, given Bridgers’s recent detonation into the mainstream following the success of her doom-filled 2020, Grammy nominated record, Punisher, and a much talked about appearance on Saturday Night Live (read the OMG.BLOG Q&A with Phoebe here).

Claud’s 2019’s single “I Wish You Were Gay” should have been an indication of the anthemic potential of their ability to craft relentlessly infectious pop songs, written from the perspective of a young person in and out of love through a sometimes crushingly relatable Queer lens. The songs are imbued with influences ranging from grunge to ’90s R&B to, as we touched on in our conversation, the increasingly indefinable “indie rock.”

Claud Super Monster

While the link to Bridgers and her new label will undoubtedly send fans in Claud’s direction, it’s clear that these songs stand on their own as one hell of a debut album from a fully-formed young artist.

We caught up with Claud to talk about the new record, their songwriting process, but mostly about like, love and stuff.

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Buzzy Lee !!

Buzzy Lee Sasha Spielburg

Photography by Julia Brokaw

When I sat down with Buzzy Lee, she was in the middle of a typically gruelling press-filled day for an artist promoting a new record. Given the soul-sucking repetition of the scenario, I was surprised to find her enthusiastic and conversational. Perhaps because, or in spite of having (in typical LA fashion) found time for a rather intense sounding therapy session amidst all the hubbub!

This Friday, Buzzy — whose street name is Sasha Spielberg (yes, that Spielberg) — releases Spoiled Love, her first full-length record after a string of EPs, some of which she created with her brother before choosing to step out on her own. Her last EP, 2018’s Facepaint, featured production by composer Nicolas Jaar, and the pair continue their collaboration on this record.

Buzzy Lee Spoiled LoveWe talked to Sasha about the origins of Spoiled Love, the power of crying on the dancefloor, and the hazards of living where it’s sunny all year long. Oh, and a lot of gossip about ex-boyfriends…

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Owen Pallett and Eric Kostiuk Williams !!

Owen Pallett by Jeff Bierk

Photography by Jeff Bierk

Toronto-based wunderkind, Owen Pallett, last interviewed by OMG.BLOG in 2010 following the release of his album Heartland, was one of many artists to release new music during the pandemic. No stranger to the expansive, pastoral opus, Island is Pallett’s fifth official solo full length record. On it, he continues to employ the tale of his protagonist, Lewis (who also featured on Heartland) as he traverses the world of Spectrum.

This alternate reality created by Pallett provides the foundation through which Pallett explores the often treacherous themes of solitude, trauma, sexuality and sexual identity, all encompased in the the constant state of transformation inherent in the queer experience.

Island features some of Owen’s best work, with pulverising depths tempered with moments of extreme sublimity, not a small feat to translate into a palatable (sorry) promotional visual experience of the music video format. Having collaborated with a wide variety of artists and filmmakers up to this point, it’s surprising that this key element to the last two records, with one more to come, has yet to be explored visually.

Enter Toronto-based illustrator Eric Kostiuk Williams, the award winning,  increasingly in-demand artist who’s colourful, oozy work harkens back to a time where queer culture was steeped in code and all things subterranean. His work navigates a frothy, psychedelic underworld, steeped in queer histories of club cutlure, populated by queens, freaks, perverts and demi-gods.

OMG.BLOG was proud to premiere Eric’s series The Twink Rage Revue, which went on to form the core of his book Our Wretched Town Hall.

Given the mutual otherworldliness of their work, the creative collaboration between the two friends seems overdue. Recently, though, the duo unleashed not one, but two videos in support of the record. This week in particular see’s the release of “Fire Mare,” which expands on the work they explored in a video for “Paragon of Order” shortly before that. The new single comes in advance of the vinyl release of the record, with packaging as rich as its contents.

We talked to Eric and Owen about how all these intersecting elements resulted in their collaboration and what we can expect from Owen’s as-yet-unreleased third installment in the turbulent fable of Lewis the farmer.

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Annie !!

Annie by Hildegunn Wærness

Photo by Hildegunn Wærness

Norwegian electronic pop star Annie’s first record Anniemal was unleashed to the world amidst the fever-pitch of the retro-obsessed Electroclash fad in 2004. While the stripped down, brash and snotty Electroclash movement was fleeting and dominated by one hit wonders, Annie’s Madonna-sampling first single “Greatest Hit” featured slick-but-smart pop production and giant hooks.

Now, after a ten-year hiatus from releasing music and nearly twenty years into her career as a recording artist, Annie is back with her new record, Dark Hearts. The synth-heavy, spaced-out opus was conceived as a soundtrack to an imaginary film, taking cues from the films of David Lynch and creepy folk-horror classics like Wicker Man.

It’s no surprise that, having been recorded in a haunted house on the seaside, her new record brings those darker themes to the forefront, enveloped in a more spacious, brooding, cosmic disco sound. Each song on the record acts as a sort of snapshot of varying semi-apocalyptic scenarios, all the while delivered in the singer’s trademark candied vocal style.

We talked to Annie about how 2020 has repurposed those fantasy-based constructs into an eerily real soundtrack to the life we’ve collectively entered this year, and what she’s been up to since we last heard from her.

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Róisín Murphy (2020) !!

Roisin Murphy by Adrian Samson

Photo by Adrian Samson

Full disclosure – if you think this intro is going to shy away from unabashed idolatry in the name of journalistic neutrality you’ll be wildly disappointed. At the moment, Róisín Murphy is promoting her muscular new record, Róisín Machine [listen now], which is already being hailed as a modern classic – or at least it is now!

The record has been somewhat unfairly promoted as a disco record – a purist term that limits the depth and variety of influences that informs her every move. Leave it to Murphy, however to further futurize a genre that has, since its inception, been subject to evolution.

It’s improbable that Murphy could make a genre-specific record, a born rule breaker since the early days of her first band, the Sheffield-based duo, Moloko. Her formative years populating clubs in Sheffield and Manchester remain at the forefront of her inspiration. Her influences range from industrial music, to punk, techno, and most recently to massive dubbed out disco classics. It’s unsurprising that her own projects have veered into almost all of those genres without ever approaching parody or disingenuity.

Roisin Machine cover art

As hard as she may try, Murphy seems incapable of complying to tradition. On the cusp of three decades in the music industry, the 47-year-old’s body of work defies categorization, which explains her adoring fan base’s indefatigable interest in her work.

As if her soon-to-be-released record weren’t exciting enough, the self-proclaimed Machine can’t help but share incredibly exciting news about her next project and her aspirations for after fifty.

In an attempt to contain her multitudes to one article, we chatted with the iconic disco-punk queen about her legacy, her relentless creative curiosity, reputation, and her many cultural infatuations.

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Phoebe Bridgers !!

Phoebe Bridgers

Photo by Olof Grind

When we spoke with Phoebe Bridgers a few weeks ago, the pandemic was only just hitting its stride, with self-isolation in full effect, and universal dread and confusion dominating our every waking second. It was a claustrophobic time, and thematically, her second solo record, Punisher, arrives with eerily prophetic imagery of isolation, social anxiety, apocalypse, and social unrest, yet it’s far from a protest record.

Bridgers’ songs elude social commentary, and feel contained to a poetic personal narrative whose focus falls somewhere between observation and confession. While at times mournful, Bridgers’ songs are never overwhelmed by their own gloom. Her isolation is a self-imposed source of comfort, and while she sings from sidelines, they’re well populated by ghosts.

Phoebe Bridgers Punisher

One can’t help but assume Punisher will remain linked in the minds of its listeners to the COVID era surrounding its release. It’s not the first time, however, that Bridgers has had to navigate a record release around troubling external circumstances. Her first album, 2017’s Stranger In The Alps was launched amidst her participation in calling out Ryan Adams, who had used his position as an established musician to control younger women in the industry.

Despite the foreboding conversation the album may unwittingly contribute to, Bridgers’s songs have a distinctly “shit happens” quality to them. The songs are funny, smart, and filled with millennial wisdom and clarity, like a breath of fresh air from the confines of a bedroom.

Amidst the weirdness, we chatted with Bridgers about reluctant yoga, astrology, woke rockers and, oh yeah, her incredible new record.

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