Chelsea Jade Soft Spot
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- North American publicity by Pitch Perfect
- College/Non-Commercial radio by Terrorbird
- Sync licensing by Terrorbird
- Arrangements by Leroy James Clampitt (Justin Beiber), production by Brad Hale (Now, Now), mixed by Justyn Pillbrow (The Neighbourhood)
- Music videos in the works for “Optimist” “Best Behaviour” and more
- Songwriter of The Chainsmokers’ “You Owe Me” and Wet’s “Deadwater”
- Her song “Afterglow” used in “Emily in Paris” episode of Emily in Paris
- Facebook boosted posts and targeted Instagram dark posts throughout campaign
- Soft Spot
- Best Behaviour
- Big Spill
- Good Taste
- Tantrum In Duet
- Real Pearl
- Night Swimmer
I’m gonna love you from the soft spot
Where the fruit begins to rot
“This area of the throat,” says Chelsea Jade, resting three fingers roughly where her neck meets her chest. “It’s particularly soft, and it’s connected … it’s halfway between the heart and the mouth. And that’s an interesting place of vulnerability.”
Soft Spot, the Los Angeles-based New Zealand artist’s second album, dwells somewhere between feeling and expression, certainty and doubt. It ventures beyond the exploration of delusions of grandeur that formed the focus of the critically acclaimed Personal Best (2018), and simultaneously promotes and undermines romance, specifically, in a more solemn way.
“Less glib,” offers Jade, who has opened for Lorde and Cat Power among others. Still deliciously glib in places: “Give your worst my best,” she sings on the wryly antagonizing, bass-heavy “Tantrum in Duet.” Soft Spot’s big pop tracks go hard on the interpersonal, physical and amorous, inviting the listener to entertain flirtation, lust, sex, even the experience, rare during its recording in 2020, of being in a room with more than three other people.
With the reinforcement of composition and arrangement by Leroy James Clampitt (Justin Bieber) and production by Brad Hale (Now, Now), Jade conjures up atmospheres conducive to feelings of place and potential. Created during a once-in-a-century pandemic, the album is an evocative assembly of found parts: recordings of sentences and asides delivered by friends, the sound of rain in LA, or the distant voice of bureaucracy against a backdrop of hold music. Seeming choruses were produced to give that impression, layered submission by individual vocal submission. On “Best Behavior,” the record’s danciest track, this illusory energy reaches its euphoric height.
The record transports the listener from speaker-side at a club, to wandering a party, to sitting at an open window with a pianist nearby. It shifts effortlessly from expansive sold-out-show sound to ethereal, twinkling detail. The writing on Soft Spot outwits even its clever, resourceful production, the lyrics a testament to the multi award-winning songwriter’s belief in the pop format as a venue for prose.
A ripening fruit reaches its apex and starts to degrade, Jade notes. And so goes the emotional cycle of this record, from tart to tender to tainted and back again. “Where beauty is just typical of fantasy/ Loving you like happiness could atrophy” she sings on “Optimist,” spoiling the scene as it plays out. “It’s about incorporating humanity into expression,” Jade says. “You can be as absolute as you want about your experience, but does everyone not question their absolute feelings as soon as they’ve had them?”
Though Hans Pucket has been performing frenetic and immediate indie rock in Wellington, New Zealand for years, their collaboration dates back even further when twin brothers Oliver and Callum Devlin decided to start making music together. In 2014, with Oliver on vocals and guitar and Callum on drums, the duo self-released a self-titled EP on Bandcamp. The loose and rambunctious collection of songs caught the ear of drummer Jonathan Nott who quickly joined the band and Oliver says “knew the songs better than we did.”
As a three-piece with Callum Devlin now playing bass, Hans Pucket released a string of increasingly hook-laden and sophisticated EPs and singles. In 2016, they released the Jalapeño EP and in 2017 put out their breakout single “Fuck My Life,” which boasted a sax-led outro that hinted at a side of the band the Devlins affectionately refer to as “Horns Pucket.” These releases culminated in the band’s first full-length Eczema in 2018, an LP that garnered cosigns from their compatriots The Beths and RNZ. For their sophomore effort No Drama, the band decamped to Jonathan Pearce of The Beths’ Auckland studio. Though the result is a much fuller, more ambitious sound, Hans Pucket decided to stick to their strengths: being a fun live act. “Rather than being a Steely Dan studio band, our intention was to make songs that are fun to play live,” says Oliver Devlin.
No Drama came together over several years and during its creation, the band added multi-instrumentalist Callum Passels, who provided all the horn arrangements on the LP. With Pearce producing, his other The Beths bandmates Benjamin Sinclair added string arrangements while singer Elizabeth Stokes provided backing vocals. The result is Hans Pucket’s most sparkling and confident collection yet. While it’s danceable and fun, it’s also a thoughtful exploration of anxiety, a call for empathy in a turbulent time, and a relatable reminder that it’s hard to figure things out.
“People say ‘no drama’ all the time when they really mean at least, ‘some drama,” laughs Callum Devlin of the album title. “It works because No Drama is actually a super dramatic record.” The LP is out October 28th, 2022 via Hans Pucket’s new label Carpark Records.
Devotion to music has driven Spacemoth’s Maryam Qudus—a performer, composer, and now sought-after producer—for as long as she can remember. At age twelve, she traded chores for guitar lessons; at sixteen, she took on after school jobs to pay for voice lessons, learning to drive so she could take herself to both. As a first-generation Afghan-American child of working-class immigrant parents, finding a place in music has been nothing short of a challenge for Qudus. “Women are often discouraged from pursuing music in the Afghan & Muslim community, and those who follow that path receive a lot of heat,” she explains.
Qudus’ earliest creative pursuits began with her solo project Doe Eye, which found quick success with radio play, magazine features and blogosphere buzz after 2014’s T E L E V I S I O N—a lush collection of indie pop and spacey rock produced by John Vanderslice at his legendary San Francisco co-op-turned-studio Tiny Telephone. Working with Vanderslice opened new artistic avenues for Qudus: “Seeing the lit up VU meters on the console and multiple tape machines running really inspired me. I realized the studio is an instrument and if you know how to use it, you can take advantage of that in really cool ways.” She began studying at Bay Area recording arts non-profit Women’s Audio Mission, eventually interning both there and at Tiny Telephone before becoming a staff engineer at both. Studio tricks picked up from clients like Wax Nine’s Sad13, Toro Y Moi, Sasami & Tune-Yards gave new inspiration for her own arrangements. And in between sessions, she was able to toy with electronic ambience and tape experimentations for Spacemoth—her latest solo project.
Spacemoth’s debut album, No Past No Future, will be released July 22nd, 2022 on Wax Nine / Carpark Records. Rich in intergalactic, avant-pop, No Past No Future serves as a reckoning point between nostalgia and nihilism; it explores the struggle to hang on to a moment as it warps in time. The bulk of performance and production comes from Qudus herself, who favors vintage synths like the Yamaha CS-50 and Korg Polysix alongside fluttering tape manipulations; creating cosmic, lush soundbeds, drawing comparisons to beloved projects like Broadcast and Stereolab. Every track flows with Qudus’ low timbered vocals, in harmony with the watery, glowing synthesizers that anchor the album. The result is an album radiating in astonishment at the emotional landscape humans contain within ourselves, and in wonder at the preciousness of our time on earth.
childhood songs on a toy cassette player, she spent her teen years in the crowd at DIY shows rather than onstage. But a relocation to Philadelphia for college found her woodshedding in her dorm room, and Deer Scout’s earliest songs were born. Centering Miller’s singular voice and intimate lyricism, Deer Scout was quickly welcomed into Philly’s legendary DIY scene, especially at fabled punk fraternity Pilam and erstwhile house venue All Nite Diner. Early cassette release Customs formally introduced Miller’s studied sparseness and pointed songcraft. 2017’s “sad boy,” satirized liberal arts’ special brand of toxic masculinity over plotted drum machines and gossamer synths (produced by Miller’s father, Mark, who she describes as a favorite songwriter and major influence). Along the way, Miller grew the project by touring storied alternative showspaces like Silent Barn, Flywheel and PhilaMOCA, and sharing stages with artists including Waxahatchee, Yowler and Told Slant.
Six years after the project’s start, Miller has moved back to her hometown of New York and is ready to release her debut full length, Woodpecker, with Carpark Records. Though its earliest songs were written during that prolific freshman year—like “Synesthesia,” penned almost instantly on a train ride home from a basement show—Miller’s taken time to fastidiously rearrange, working alongside trusted friends and collaborators: Ko Takasugi-Czernowin on bass, Zuzia Weyman on cello, Henry Munson on pedal steel, and Madel Rafter on drums. With primary engineering and mixing from Heather Jones at Philly’s So Big Auditory, Woodpecker was eventually completed at home by Miller, whose piecemeal approach to finishing the record results in its lush intentionality. The family folk influence shines through in Miller’s distinctive playing and voice, but tension-building string arrangements, droning pull-off riffs, and rattling drum play complicate the mix, channeling Americana and lo-fi forebears like Cat Power. Though the stillness in Miller’s arrangements may give an initial sense of smallness, Deer Scout’s songs are like dollhouse miniatures, laden with complexity. Through Miller’s open-hearted yearning, Deer Scout’s music feels at once safe and limitless.
Before the world came to a standstill last year, the artist Chelsea Jade found herself in the middle of a particularly mobile time. A tour with Allie X was due to follow on the heels of a run of sold-out shows in her native New Zealand in February, a U.S. tour with Neon Gold’s Your Smith in January, and her first-ever U.S. tour with Muna in the fall of 2019.
Muna’s Naomi McPherson and Josette Maskin play guitar on Soft Spot, Jade’s forthcoming second album, as does Elizabeth Stokes (The Beths). These collaborators and others that recur throughout the credits Jade’s work –– like Leroy Clampitt, Justyn Pilbrow (The Neighbourhood), Brad Hale, Tyler Spry –– are friends foremost, people she knows and enjoys outside of music. “Everybody who I’ve worked with is very high-achieving in their own right, but that’s not why we work together,” Jade says; community is the starting point. “That’s the nucleus of how these things get made.”
Jade grew up in New Zealand, where early forays into music held conspicuous promise; a band she formed in high school went on to open for José González and Cat Power; her first solo project drew national awards. In 2015, after being declared the nation’s “Accidental Dream Pop Hero” by Vice, Jade moved from Auckland to Los Angeles, settling in a city that continues to offer “infinite mystery” that lends itself to her inquiry and her writing. “I prefer,” she says, “not knowing too much.”
Jade’s debut album Personal Best was self-released to international acclaim in 2018. “Life of the Party,” one of its masterpieces of droll, truculent pop, was shortlisted for a Silver Scroll Award for songwriting in 2017, in the company of Lorde and Aldous Harding, in 2017. “Laugh It Off” earned Jade her second such nomination the following year, alongside Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Marlon Williams. A dynamic pre-Personal Best single, “Afterglow,” has made several TV appearances, most recently on the hit Netflix series “Emily in Paris.”
On the strength of this work and more, Jade was presented with an APRA Professional Development Award in 2018; wrote a Chainsmokers single (“You Owe Me”); signed a publishing deal; and co-founded a fxmale songwriting/producer camp in New Zealand with tutors like Susan Rogers (Prince) and Wendy Wang (Greg Kurstin).
2021 began with some of the mobility that tapered off at the start of the pandemic; Jade toured in New Zealand in February and March. She returns to the U.S. this spring for the release of her characteristically luxuriant and sophisticated second album, Soft Spot, via Carpark Records.
“I think my music provides space for me to say the things I can’t always say in real life.” says Virginia native songwriter and multi-media artist Corrinne James. While studying New Media and Cinematography at the University of Virginia, James created a secret Bandcamp under the alias Naomi Alligator, and began uploading her intimate home recordings online. Although her primary creative practice has been experimental animation—producing several shorts and music videos for artists like Slow Pulp and Emily Yacina—James found a way to broaden her storytelling through music. “I grew up playing piano, but I was actually learning how to play guitar on the first few Naomi Alligator songs.” James admits. “At the end of high school my friend Ruby sent me a Google Drive zip of all the Girly Sounds recordings and told me ‘You need to listen to this!’” Inspired by the sparse and confessional qualities of Liz Phair’s early portastudio recordings, James decided to create her own musical journal to share and process personal anecdotes. “I was nervous to show it to other people because I was just scared about what they might think, but eventually I started sharing it with friends in college and they would share it with more people.”
This fall, five years since her first upload and over a dozen releases later, James will share her new four-track EP, Concession Stand Girl, while making her debut on Carpark. Self-recorded at home, Concession Stand Girl features Corrinne James playing guitar, synth, and banjo. “That banjo was actually a gift from my old professor and mentor, Lydia Moyer.” James recalls. Her modern folk production and poetic songwriting links the sounds of artists like Joan Baez and Steeleye Span to a 21st century context. James wrestles with guilt, purpose, and jealousy through vivid narratives in the songs on her new EP, as well as much of her self-released music and films. James says “I kind of feel like a kid when I’m writing music—it’s just about sharing whatever you’re feeling and getting that out, you know?” Following the release of Concession Stand Girl, James hopes to expand the sound of Naomi Alligator, experimenting with new recording techniques and layered instrumentation, while maintaining her warm songwriting.
Ducks Ltd. is a band formed in Toronto, Ontario, and currently based between Toronto and Geelong, Australia, that crafts bright and modern jangle-pop. The duo consists of Tom Mcgreevy, on vocals, rhythm guitar and bass, and Evan Lewis, on lead guitar. Both members were playing in other groups within the Toronto music scene and met while on the same tour. They then decided to collaborate upon discovering their mutual love for 80s pop bands like Felt, Orange Juice, and The Go-Betweens. Together, Ducks Ltd. stitches together layers of intricate melody to make moving, nostalgic music — an irresistible combination that radiates energy and provokes introspection.
After building a reputation in their hometown playing with artists like Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Weyes Blood, The Goon Sax, Juan Wauters, and Yowler, Ducks Ltd. self-released their debut EP, Get Bleak, on November 29th, 2019. Despite being their very first release, the EP received high praise from the international press, including from Pitchfork, who said of the band “Ducks Ltd. understand that dancing through misery is healthier than dancing around it. Their brand of lilting, throwback jangle-pop makes that seem like the easiest thing in the world to do.”
In 2020, Ducks Ltd. signed to Carpark Records & Royal Mountain Records, with promise of a new music in 2021 to mark a new era for the duo. As an opportunity to reintroduce their debut EP, they will release an expanded re-issue of Get Bleak, along with three additional bonus tracks, “Oblivion,” “As Big As All Outside,” and “It’s Easy.” The songs on Get Bleak are full of the unbridled brilliance of pop, but the tracks are split open with the restlessness and critique of living during a more or less chaotic epoch. The re-issue of Get Bleak allows listeners to revisit the tracks from their EP and gives an exciting glimpse of what’s to come from the band.
Ducks Ltd. are brimming with potential, bringing the same warmth to listeners as when unearthing an old fantasy; wistful and existential, but full of new gusts of inspiration and radiance.
The release of Blessed Repair is a grand experiment for the Baldi/Gerycz Duo. The duo consists of Dylan Baldi and Jayson Gerycz, both of whom are members of the acclaimed rock band Cloud Nothings. With Baldi on saxophone and Gerycz on drums, they deliver an album that steers away from the process of slowly crafting lyrics and instrumental components. This time, their project is grounded in the gravitational pull of both of their instruments; two people creating and releasing tension in real time. Blessed Repair is an album that romps with the spontaneous energy of free-form jazz.
Baldi and Gerycz are quite familiar with each other as musicians, proving to be an advantage as they navigate the strange yet exciting new waters of Blessed Repair. Primarily, they work as bandmates in Cloud Nothings, but nothing resembles their improvisational work as a duo. In Cloud Nothings, songs are written beforehand and rehearsed, but as the Baldi/Gerycz Duo, they just play. Which is how the project first came to fruition — they are two friends who organically wanted to see how far they can take their music together.
The project uses two iconically jazz instruments, nudging Blessed Repair into the free-jazz realm. The saxophone soars and tumbles and the drums build and scatter, but both instruments are more linked by their playful experimentation and synchronicity than anything else. While they are fans of improvisational jazz music, neither Baldi nor Gerycz had formal jazz training past high school, making this album authentically experimental for them both. That being said, Baldi does recount that his first official gig as a musician was playing jazz music in the background of a wealthy Clevelander’s dinner party in 2008.
The Baldi/Gerycz Duo have taken the opportunity to harness the liberating energy of improvisation in Blessed Repair. And ultimately, they’re two friends exploring and pushing the boundaries of their music.
When Sonic Boom debuted with 1990’s Spectrum, it was a fresh chance for Peter Kember to go it alone. Poppy psychedelia with lo-fi edges, gridless guitars, and Velvets-obliged scowls marked Kember’s departure from the soon-to-disband Spacemen 3, the influential English psych soul outfit he co-founded in 1982 with Jason Pierce (Spiritualised). Kember’s new solo work hinted at the self-taught experimentation, circuit bending and interest in modular synthesis that would hallmark his career as a producer and performer.
But Kember, a co-conspirator by nature, got lonely alone. Soon enough, Spectrum gave rise to a band of the same name, who toured extensively and recorded several records, including a joint effort with Silver Apples. Next, Kember got busy with E.A.R., an even more experimental and prolific project with a fluctuating lineup that counted among its many members Kevin Shields and electronic music trailblazer Delia Derbyshire, who mentored Kember in audio physics and harmonic series.
The name Sonic Boom did stay in rotation, for solo sets (during which Kember singlehandedly manipulates a tabletop of keyboards, noisemakers and modules), split releases (like 2018’s EP with No Joy), and production work for artists including MGMT, Beach House and Panda Bear. But the list of Sonic Boom solo LPs stalled out after 1990, a rare single entry for an artist whose other projects’ output skews plentiful.
Finally, 2020’s All Things Being Equal updates the Sonic Boom discography with a second notch, and a first for Carpark Records–home to several artists Kember has produced. Recorded and mixed over a half decade, the songs began as instrumental studio sketches in Rugby, UK. “But I wanted to get out of the urban commercialised environment,” Kember explains of his move to a national park in Sintra, Portugal, which he calls “an enchanting area famous for being inspiring.”
His new surroundings inspired the album’s lyrics, which stress humanity’s role in our planet’s “critical collapse,” redress the power of our symbiotic relationship with nature and plants, and riddle over Animist spirituality. Wonderfully layered, drone-based voyages coalesce into hooky showcases for the intrinsic characters of the synths he worked with. “I wanted to mix bright digital with chunky analogue,” says Kember. “Certain instruments have something about their sound that touches me deep, and I’m always trying to focus as much vibe as I can into the songs.”
Although the album shares a project name with his first solo album, Kember’s decades as a forward-thinking producer make this new work more in step with his cutting-edge collaborations than a nostalgic glance at his past. “I learn from everyone I work with, and I wanted to bring what I learnt into this record,” Kember explains. “Everybody thinks about and listens to music in different ways.” With All Things Being Equal, Sonic Boom once again offers us a new way to listen, with music that is textural, full of dimension, and conscious of its place in the galaxy.
Johanna Warren is no stranger to death. As a toddler she was notorious for jumping into the deep end of swimming pools when no one was watching. At nine she grew mysteriously ill, eventually fell into a coma and emerged with a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, a condition that has consistently taken her back to what she describes as “liminal, mystical places” in bouts of extreme hypoglycemia. And at 23, Warren (at the time a staunchly cynical atheist) was in a fatal car crash that left her with an unshakably vivid experience with what seemed to be an angel.
This close collaboration with mortality and mystery is key to Warren’s artistic practice. Floating in the doorway between worlds, she has repeatedly found herself looking out at an ocean of etheric colored light and indescribably beautiful music—and been left with a feeling of purpose. “It’s the role of the artist to try to carry some of that beauty, even one tiny drop of it, back over the threshold,” explains Warren. “Of course it’s doomed to fail, but it’s a sacred failure.”
It makes sense, then, that Warren seems to make art like her life depends on it. Since self-releasing her debut solo album Fates in 2013 she has barely stopped touring, performing alongside similarly masterful artists including Mitski, Julie Byrne and Marissa Nadler. Her 2015 sophomore album nūmūn propelled her to the forefront of artists to watch, with Rolling Stone naming her an “Artist You Need to Know” and Stereogum citing her as a best of that year. In 2016 Warren founded Spirit House Records, an independent label that promotes a queer, artist-friendly ethos, and announced a twin pair of albums: Gemini I and II. The two LPs are in conversation with one another, offering glimpses of a passionately dysfunctional relationship—perhaps between two warring parts of the artist herself.
Following the release of Gemini II Warren embarked on her extensive “Plant Medicine Tour” around the US. At every one of the 70+ shows, she welcomed local herbalists, farmers, and activists to share their work with attendees. In the spare moments between tour stops, Warren recorded her fifth solo album, Chaotic Good, at thirteen different studios around the US. It was released on Wax Nine/Carpark Records in 2020 to critical acclaim.
In addition to music, Warren has a love for acting. In October 2021, she premiered selected songs from a new musical adaptation of Euripides’ ancient tragedy The Bacchae, in which she plays both Pentheus and his mother Agave. She recently starred in forthcoming indie feature “She the Creator” (Bioluminescent Films) and lent her voice to Netflix series The Midnight Gospel.
Currently homesteading in rural Wales, Warren spends her days foraging for wild medicinal plants and raising two dogs, four chickens and a vegetable garden. Lessons for Mutants is her sixth solo LP and second for Wax Nine/Carpark Records.